And This Day in Hell
“Them that’s got shall get,
Them that’s not shall lose”
— From “God Bless the Child (That’s Got His Own),” by Arthur Herzog Jr. and Billie Holiday, and recorded by her for Okeh Records in 1941.
“Free market capitalism — as a faith — really is an inverse of Marxism. It is a theology that believes their system will bring paradise on earth and moral perfection. When their system is in power in the real world, their true believers claim that any problem only happened because their ideology has not been applied with sufficient purity.”
— Larry Beinhart, “The Fall of a Free Market Prophet,” Common Dreams, Dec. 7, 2008.
“Sometimes the Invisible Hand is all thumbs.”
— Jared Bernstein, C-Span, April 16, 2008.
“The first panacea for a mismanaged nation is inflation of the currency; the second is war. Both bring a temporary prosperity; both bring a permanent ruin. But both are the refuge of political and economic opportunists.”
— Ernest Hemingway [Bush reversed the formula, but it’s still true today.]
So far we’ve seen the Top Dogs underline ‘dogs’ of Wall Street and Detroit parade before Congress insisting they need our tax money to bail them out. The former ‘Masters of the Universe’ have made so many stupid short-term decisions they have shamed their MBA parchment into so much worthless sheepskin accorded to those who can pay the tuition, or have the family clout, to squeeze them through college. To add insult to injury, the bankers who have fleeced us for billions in the name of providing credit to keep businesses going have refused to use our money to provide credit to keep businesses going, instead financing bonuses for themselves, luxury retreats at pricey resorts, and apparently precipitating a sit-down strike by 300 union workers at a Republic Windows and Doors factory in Chicago last month. Not only were these people unceremoniously fired and given one day to clear out, the company reneged on its contract to provide wages and vacation pay owed them and the severance pay they were guaranteed. That’s right Republic refused to pay wages and vacation pay already earned and blamed it on the Bank of America, while they hastily moved their Chicago equipment to Iowa. BoA received $25 billion of our tax dollars to avoid just this kind of situation. Fortunately, thanks to nationwide publicity for this sit-down strike, and support from near-President Obama, the Republic workers finally received their back wages and other pay, but let’s see this for what it was: A naked attempt to bust the union, and it was mostly successful. Republic’s union workers are still out of a job and the company has set up a low-wage non-union plant in Iowa. (Incidentally, inquiring minds would like to know: who is paying the salaries of Republic’s top executives and how much do they make?)
Morality and ethics hardly exist in the corporate boardroom but, if this isn’t wrong, what is?
How to correct it? Let’s hope President Obama takes a page from Franklin D. Roosevelt, especially his Economic Bill of Rights speech delivered January 11, 1944, during the Second World War, which included:
The right to a useful and remunerative job in the industries or shops or farms or mines of the nation;
The right to earn enough to provide adequate food and clothing and recreation;
The right of every farmer to raise and sell his products at a return which will give him and his family a decent living;
The right of every businessman, large and small, to trade in an atmosphere of freedom from unfair competition and domination by monopolies at home or abroad;
The right of every family to a decent home;
The right to adequate medical care and the opportunity to achieve and enjoy good health;
The right to adequate protection from the economic fears of old age, sickness, accident, and unemployment;
The right to a good education.
As FDR concluded: “All of these rights spell security. And after this war is won we must be prepared to move forward, in the implementation of these rights, to new goals of human happiness and well-being.
“Americas own rightful place in the world depends in large part upon how fully these and similar rights have been carried into practice for our citizens.”
If we have those rights, the economy will take care of itself.
What Does Late Jazz Sax Player Stan Getz Have to Do with Our Economic Meltdown? Read on: