FDR once said, “Yes, we are on the way back — not by mere chance, not by a turn of the cycle. We are coming back more soundly than ever before because we planned it that way, and don’t let anybody tell you differently.”
Republicans (and DINOS) would have us believe that all our economic woes are simply a result of the “natural” ebb and flow of the market, but they are not. They PLANNED IT THAT WAY.
It’s the age-old struggle. The dream of America was that “We The People” ruled ourselves, rather than an inter-generational aristocracy akin to the one we fought a revolution to escape. Republicans (& DINOS) have been putting that oppressive system back together piece by piece since America swallowed the Reaganomics Voodoo we are now dying from.
The objective of Right – which cares about America as much as it does for Mother Earth as a whole – is to return us to the economic order last seen in the Gilded Age. This was an America with incredible wealth disparities, nonexistent labor standards and a government indifferent to the plight of the average citizen. FDR reflected on that society when he said, “Powerful influences strive today to restore that kind of government with its doctrine that that Government is best which is most indifferent. “
The one ironic tragedy of FDR’s New Deal was that it created economically stable middle classes who, with the aid of incessant Right Wing misinformation campaigns, were convinced their interests and the interests of billionaires were one in the same.
As memory of pre-New Deal life faded with the passing of our grandparents, many “Average Joe” Americans were thoroughly propagandized into voting Republican – and therefore voting for their own demise.
It’s the age-old struggle between the “haves” and the “have-nots.” In the Right Wing vision of America, the tiny minority in possession of colossal wealth rules over the large pool of working poor and wealth is so concentrated in the hands of a few; there is essentially no remaining middle class.
It’s a dismal existence for the “have-nots” who, ideally for the “haves,” toil their lifetime away and patiently await their reward in Heaven. (All the more reason Republicans are bent on whittling away at the slim line separating church and state, as churches have always historically worked in tandem with the ruling elite to keep the huddled masses subjugated and passively resigned to their “natural place.”)
From the assault on unions, cutting OSHA safety regulation and yes… even proposing the end of child labor laws, this vision is on display in all of today’s Republican policies.
Economist Robert Reich in his book Aftershock: The Next Economy and America’s Future, has labeled the 40 years between the New Deal and Reaganomics, “The Great Prosperity.” He says, “It is still possible to find people who believe that government policy did not end the Great Depression and undergird the Great Prosperity, just as it is possible to uncover people who do not believe in evolution.”
In other words, proactive egalitarian government policy is essential for creating a society that works for ALL – not just the top 1% who also happen to be pouring unfettered wealth into the political campaigns of Republicans and corporate-owned Democrats sent to Washington to turn the “government of the United States into a mere appendage to their own affairs,” as FDR said.
A study by Michael Norton and Dan Ariely on how Americans think about income inequality concluded that, “given a choice, Americans would prefer to live in a society more equal than even highly egalitarian Sweden.”
Not ones to let a crisis go to waste, Republicans are using the economic crisis their policies created as an excuse to dismantle policies that made the economically secure, vibrant and stable middle class possible by disingenuously labeling these policies “job-killing” when, in fact, the only “killing” as a result of deregulation would be visited on the workers forced into the same unsafe working conditions their ancestors fought and died to prevent.
We don’t have to be a “psychic friend” to predict the end of the story. If we allow Republicans to triumph in their Class War and return us to the policies of the Gilded Age, we need only look to the Triangle Shirtwaist fire of the past to see the American future.
As Andrew Schneider wrote in his must-read article, “The Lessons of Triangle Shirtwaist Fire May Be Lost 100 Years Later
David Von Drehle wrote what many consider the definitive book on the tragedy in 1911, “Triangle: The Fire that Changed America.” He said in the book that history can run backward, and that even much-needed reforms like worker safety gains can be lost again.
“Many of the initial post-Triangle reforms were strenuously opposed by conservative businessmen … who were soon back in the saddle and able to halt, hamstring or reverse liberal initiatives,” he wrote.
The recent GOP sweep has many believing the same thing is happening again.
No Surprise That OSHA Was a Target
When the Republicans swept back into power in the House in January, Rep. Darrell Issa, the newly appointed chairman of the House Government Oversight and Government Affairs Committee, told major industries, lobbyists, trade associations and companies large and small that, as head of the congressional watchdog committee, he’d appreciate their views on what government regulations they didn’t like and what he should change.
It surprised no one that the Environmental Protection Agency and OSHA were the favorite targets of the hundreds letters that were hand-carried or express-mailed to him.
The California Republican insists that these changes that big business wants will save jobs, but he hasn’t explained how to the satisfaction of even some in his own party. Republicans budget cutters say that environmental regulation is harmful to the economy and that OSHA’s worker safety actions are unnecessary and detrimental to businesses large and small.
Those involved with worker safety cringe.
“With conservatives in Congress decrying the supposedly “job-killing” effects of OSHA protections, we could be on our way to becoming a First World economy with Third World working conditions,” said Tom O’Connor, executive director of the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health, a federation of local and state committees or coalitions on occupational safety and health.
The U.S. has made progress in worker protection, but, he quickly added, it is 29th out of 30 industrialized nations when it comes to safety and health protection for workers, managing to beat out only Turkey.
“Crippling budget cuts like these can only come from lawmakers who are willing to throw hardworking Americans under the bus once they’ve extracted a vote,” Jennifer Sass, a senior scientist for health and environment with the Natural Resources Defense Council, told AOL News.
Read the rest of Schneider’s article (which includes a wrenching eyewitness account of the tragedy) here.
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