Category: Your Voice Written by Jesse Jackson
"Corporations are people, my friends,” said Mitt Romney. And in Citizens United, the conservative justices of the Supreme Court agreed, ruling that corporations, like individuals, are free to spend unlimited sums in so-called “independent expenditures” for candidates.
The result — as TV viewers in contested presidential states, or in states with contested Senate or key House seats can attest — is an unprecedented flood of money into political ads. Much of it from independent front groups that are spending ever-greater sums of money from anonymous donors largely on attack ads.
What is going on? Clearly, the super rich, the big banks, the corporations are looking to buy these elections. Mitt Romney, the candidate from Bain and the world of what Republican Gov. Rick Perry called “vulture capitalism,” is a major beneficiary. But candidates in both parties work to raise this money, compromising their own ability to stand up for working people.
Consider Romney’s agenda. He’s for tax cuts for the rich, for ending the estate tax that applies to multimillion-dollar fortunes, for sustaining the “carried interest deduction” that allows private-equity millionaires like himself to pay lower tax rates than the police who patrol their streets. It goes on. He’s for a “territorial corporate tax system” that would exempt corporations for any profits earned or reported abroad. This essentially turns the world into a potential tax haven, encouraging companies to move jobs or report profits overseas. No one has been more creative at that than Romney’s own company, Bain Capital, which is notorious for opening shell companies everywhere from the Cayman Islands to Luxembourg.
So naturally, Wall Street bankers, the private-equity billionaires, the multinational companies are lining up for Romney, and flooding pro-Romney groups with money.
With inequality reaching Gilded Age levels, the super-rich are once more looking to buy protection. They are also looking to eliminate any competition.
In California, for example, conservative Republicans have cooked up Proposition 32.
It parades as campaign-finance reform that would eliminate the use of payroll deductions for raising money for political activity by either corporations or unions.
Sounds equitable, right? Except corporate executives don’t use payroll deductions to raise political money, only unions do. CEOs can take the money directly from the corporate till if they choose (without a vote by stockholders). Or, more often, the CEO hosts a fund-raiser or two. Company executives are invited; they are “encouraged” to donate. Records are kept.
So, as the Los Angeles Times editorialized, “Those who have seen its list of backers will not be surprised to learn that it would have a devastating effect on labor unions’ political fund-raising efforts and only a trivial impact on corporate spending. Voters should reject it.”
Big money is free to speak, the conservatives on the Supreme Court have ruled. Now conservatives and corporations are pushing to limit the rights of unions to organize, to bargain collectively and to engage in political activity. They are pushing an unprecedented effort to limit access to voting.
We’ve never witnessed this level of big money in our politics. We’ve not seen this systematic effort to make voting more difficult since the days of the segregated South.
We’ve not seen this effort to suppress union participation since the Gilded Age.
This is no accident. The richest 1 percent is capturing more of the nation’s income and wealth than any time since the 1920s. And they pay the lowest tax rates since that time.
They are mobilizing to protect their privilege. The only question is whether they will get away with it.
Keep up with Rev. Jackson and the work of the Rainbow PUSH Coalition at www.rainbowpush.org.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 24 October 2012 11:56
Category: Your Voice Written by Atty. Herb Sanders
Last Updated on Thursday, 18 October 2012 16:08
Category: Your Voice Written by Bill Johnson
Expect the quadrennial process of selecting an occupant for the Detroit’s most exalted office to be livelier next year than in the recent past.
An expanding field of contenders can only enhance the mayoral sweepstakes. Most importantly, it offers an opportunity for a fresh airing on what direction Detroit ought to be going — and what kind of leader is best capable of policy decisions that transform failure into prosperity.
DMC Chief Executive Officer Mike Duggan didn’t exactly shake up the political landscape by adding his name to what is expected to be a growing list of potential candidates trying to replace Mayor Dave Bing. Duggan’s political foreplay had been going on for several months. It was expected. He did, however, add another wrinkle with the prospect of the first white mayor since 1973.
Broad speculation surrounds other possible hopefuls, including Wayne County Sheriff Benny Napoleon, State Representatives Lisa Howze and Fred Durhal.
The compilation of this short list of potential contenders suggests that the once rising star of the mayor is in free fall. Mayor Bing was elected to keep Detroit from committing suicide. But under his stewardship fiscal and economic self-destruction appears all but inevitable.
Over the last three-plus years, Bing has managed to alienate almost every segment of his constituent base. The optimism and high expectations of residents has faded. City services remain inefficient, departments customer-unfriendly. Social and cultural upheavals, crime and population flight show no signs of abating. His questionable judgment on financial issues has brought into question the absence of bold decision-making.
Fiscal stress and a huge budget deficit challenged him to cut waste and operate more efficiently. His alternatives came down to peeling back onerous and uncompromising labor contracts, lay off workers, sell off city assets or put city services out for bid. Some options he didn’t try, perhaps conceding that outsourcing wouldn’t go over very well in a city where yielding to labor demands is a way of life.
As the mayor and City Council grew increasingly dependent on unions for votes, unions became overly dependent on government for jobs. This perverse marriage caused government to be separated from focusing on one of its most urgent needs: creating a supportive environment for jobs and growth in the business sector.
It’s not too early for Detroiters to begin thinking about whether a spirit of political adventurism is needed to exploit other possibilities and opportunities. Hopefully, a new mayor will understand that because the economics of the city have changed. So too must the role of government and its relationship with its workers.
The next mayor won’t have the luxury to shun bold initiatives. Voters too may be asked to boldly look beyond the color of a candidate’s skin and decide whether Duggan has leadership qualities that equal his ambition to be mayor. They must legitimately and earnestly ask whether his talents, not fatal as a county administrator, prosecutor or company turnaround agent, would spell disaster for the mayoralty.
I also believe real people power comes from building a broader base and putting together a solid game plan to solve problems. If both idioms are true, there will be no one to blame if voters fail to put in the game the best player available.
Last Updated on Thursday, 18 October 2012 16:04
Category: Your Voice Written by Jimmy Settles
As I talk to people in my hometown of Detroit, I’m confronted with a question more often than I would like. I hear it asked by young people frequently, but, increasingly, I’m hearing it from veterans of the workforce, too. The issue at stake is collective bargaining, and the question is “why do unions still matter?” There’s another question implicit there. Even if unions and collective bargaining do matter, why should you give them your support?
These are proper questions, and ones that deserves thorough answers in a time when the average worker probably doesn’t belong to a union, and may not even know someone who does. They are hard questions, and ones that require honest answers in a time when many of the most important gains that organized labor has made throughout the years are now enshrined in law. They are acute questions that desperately need factual answers in a time when both workers and business are vying for your vote on Proposal 2 to the Michigan Constitution — a proposal that would grant private and public sector workers a constitutional right to join a union and collectively bargain. They are questions I hope to answer over the course of three articles in the coming weeks.
Now, I am a vice president of the United Auto Workers; but, today, I’m writing as a lifelong Detroiter, as an African-American, and as a concerned citizen. I’m also writing today as a man old enough to remember the past. I am writing with the hope that my experience can help acquit this next generation of their condemnation to repeat it.
I hear people say often that unions and collective bargaining were a necessary and important part of our history. They helped win better wages and working conditions for the worker, unemployment insurance for those out of work, social security for the elderly, Medicaid for the poor and Medicare for the aged. But now, the battle is over. Like a punch-drunk boxer too proud to admit he’s past his prime, unions have stayed in the ring too long.
It’s true that unions played a significant role in our collective history and won crucial gains that helped all people who work—no matter if they were in a union or not. They won holiday pay, sick leave, and weekends. They stood with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in his March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. Moreover, the UAW provided Dr. King with the financial and organizational support he needed, when he was planning his first march in Detroit. That’s because both Dr. King and the UAW knew that our causes were inextricably linked. Without economic justice, there could be no social justice. Without workers’ rights, there could be no civil rights.
Our opponents knew this too, which is why they struggled then and continue working today to foment racial resentment in the middle class in order to roll back hard won gains like voting rights, affirmative action and collective bargaining rights.
Last Updated on Thursday, 18 October 2012 16:06
Category: Your Voice Written by Steve Holsey CHRONICLE STAFF
Last Updated on Thursday, 18 October 2012 16:05
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