I love PBS radio. However, the only time I seem to listen to it is when I am in my car. When I am home I usually turn on the TV to give me a sense that the house isn’t too quiet.
I heard two similar statements on two different programs this morning as I was traveling to and from my volunteer job. Going up, I listened to the problems the American Airlines personnel are having getting the powers that be to agree to a contract. It appears they are stalling the signing as long as they can. It was said that for every DAY they can keep from any agreements, it saves the company $1 MILLION dollars.
It was reported that all the flight attendants were asking is that they once again receive the salaries they were making seven years ago. I arrived at the hospital so I didn’t listen to any more.
When I returned to my car, another person was being interviewed. They were talking about a trucker whose wife found a pay stub from ten years ago and realized the trucker was making more money back then than he was making now doing the same job. He explained to his wife that beginning in the 1980s when deregulation began, companies were free to accept the lowest bid for trucking services with no floor for the bidding. The drivers were the ones who got the raw bottom line of that deal.
Those were two different examples on two different shows within three hours of what is happening to the working class in this country. The workers are being asked to work longer hours, many times in poorer less safe conditions, for less pay. Other workers are losing their jobs completely. All of this is in the name of free enterprise with less and less government regulation.
The band wagon shout seems to be loud and clear these days for more and more deregulation…less and less government control. But….where has that led us, the working class? Our food is not as safe, our drugs are not as safe, our paychecks are stagnant or are falling, our homes which we bought as a part of the American dream when we were sold a bill of goods about no money down, variable rates, etc. are being foreclosed. We are losing our health benefits, etc. etc. etc. even as the wealthy are getting ever wealthier by the day.
I sat by for weeks chewing my fingernails watching what retirement funds I did manage to save by living as frugally as I dared over twenty years dwindle in the stock market before I finally couldn’t take it any more. I pulled what was left after the decimation and put it into an account giving me less than 1.5% interest a year.
No one mentioned when I retired that the money I received in 2004 would be the same amount every month until the Texas legislature decided to give a cost of living raise. Granted the cost of some things has not risen much, but other things vital to daily life and well-being (health, gas, insurance, utilities) continue to go up and up. There are retired teachers who have received the same amount for over ten years now. I’m just starting my seventh year.
Then I hear our current governor who is running for reelection proclaiming that because of his monetary policies, Texas has billions of dollars stashed away. He is proud of saving the state of Texas so much money. Excuse me?
So far I am not complaining. I can still pay my bills. I am grateful. But what about those who are going under or who have already gone under? What about the disappearing middle class more and more of whom are now destitute?
The man on the radio said, “How long do those who run America think the poor and working class are going to continue to stand for all this?
The thought that “something” some day might be done about this entire situation flashed through my mind as I thought of the French Revolution.
Political and Social Inequalities
France still practised feudalism in the 18th century. The nobles and clergy enjoyed special privileges. They did not have to pay taxes. The common people did not have power and freedom in politics. They worked hard and had to pay heavy taxes. The nobles and clergy made up the First and Second Estates in the Estates General. The common people (i.e. the middle class (bourgeoisie), peasants and artisans) made up the Third Estate. The nobles and clergy could outvote the common people easily though the Estates General was not always called by the king, who ruled as an absolute monarch. The common people became discontented with the privileged classes.
Bankruptcy of the Government
Louis XIV had spent too much. His successors did not cut down expenses. Louis XVI also failed to improve the financial situation. He dismissed ministers who tried to introduce financial reforms. By 1789, the government was bankrupt.
Does some of this sound familiar? Eerily familiar? Granted the clergy no longer are among the most privileged in the US (unless they are televangelists) but they still wield great influence in some communities. We no longer have a king, but prior administrations have certainly been among the most privileged of the privileged classes in America. How close is the US to actually being bankrupt? Comparatively speaking, how much do the wealthiest pay in taxes as a percentage of their income compared to the salaried workers? They employ tax lawyers to get them every break they can.
The middle and working classes are being reduced to begging for crumbs while the members of the elite eat cake. Is there a Marie Antoinette up there somewhere who would be better off not televising her platinum wedding?
I wonder if anyone is thinking about bringing back the guillotine?
Namaste. Attic Annie