Thoughts by Richard Bleil
Today I read that, apparently, workers have been on strike for several weeks here in the US from multiple large corporations. They are protesting the “two-tiered” benefits scheme that certain companies are using to “cut costs” wherein new hires are paid less than they had been and offered significantly reduced benefits. The protesters point out that the profit margins of these corporations are exceptionally high giving them more than enough income to pay for benefits and better wages. In a separate story, a few days ago the news pointed out that more employees than ever are quitting their jobs altogether, finding alternative income avenues. Add to this the corporations complaining that they can’t hire people even as jobless claims continue to drop and it makes for an amazing mystery.
So, what is going on? I believe we are on the brink of a worker revolution. The middle class has been eradicated, the wage gap between the highest and lowest earners in corporations is increasing, as is the wealth gap between the wealthiest and poorest people in our own society. The ultra-wealthy are spending money building spaceships for themselves and their friends while food and insurance programs for our most vulnerable citizens are being gutted. I believe that people are beginning to question why the ultra-rich are continually getting tax breaks and havens to avoid taxes altogether while so many are suffering with homelessness and starvation. Workers are beginning to question why they should have to work to make ever-increasing profits for their bosses when their own wages are failing to even keep up with inflation.
This is nothing short of corporate greed. Those with money are using their influence to build an autocratic America, and those who have risen to power on this flood of cash are using everything in their power to maintain those positions, including dirty tricks such as voter suppression and gerrymandering and turning to the courts to get their way instead of listening to the desire of those people they claim to be representing. It’s a filthy feedback loop as the money puts people in power who pass legislation intended to return that cash plus interest to their investors. And the people are getting fed up with living in dirt and sacrificing to those sitting in their golden thrones.
When Karl Marx wrote his “Communist Manifesto”, it was not intended as a blueprint for a political framework. In fact, it was meant as a warning, wherein he actually predicted oppression of the poor by the wealthy. He suggested that the income gap would continue to rise and the greedy would feed into it by taking more away from the workers until, eventually, the workers simply became fed up with it and would rise to overthrow the wealthy. Sound familiar?
Why Russia opted to use this economic theory to build a government I will never understand, but clearly the theory has flaws. In the utopia that Karl Marx predicted, everybody would own a piece of the profits, and everybody would work for the betterment of society. I don’t believe that that can happen. It ignores the reality that in any revolution, political, economical or otherwise, there will always be those corrupt individuals who learn how to take advantage of the situation for their own personal gain, but in any revolution, it’s the people who will pay. This is where our government is supposed to step in.
A government “by the people and for the people” is intended to be unbiased and look out for the well-being of all the people. Unfortunately, our government today is largely by the wealthy and for the corrupt, and they have the cash to buy the votes who continue to support them and suppress the people who would vote them out.
The role of a just government should be to keep a level playing field. That means there should be no more benefits for wealthy than the poor. It means tax all forms of income, not exclude select income that can only be found in the wealthy. It means taxing corporations fairly to pay for social programs, including higher taxes for those corporations that are structured to cause deeper social problems through unfair wages and unfair benefits. It means using those taxes to build social networks to protect the weakest among us, not the wealthiest.
Should it be possible to become wealthy under a just government? Well of course. I don’t have a problem with people having wealth or making large salaries. I have a problem with suppressing pay raises to give upper management million-dollar bonuses. I have a problem of corporations who pay little or no taxes while paying employees so poorly that they still qualify for food stamps. I have a problem with corporations who report their highest profit to their stockholders in years that they are removing benefits. I have a problem with a government who allows this to happen.