Jim Hightower on Looting the Middle Class

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The fountain-pen economy

Jim Hightower

Even the word “greed” is not negative enough to characterize the all-out assault on workers by today’s corporate elite.

From offshoring jobs to busting unions, from slashing wages to looting pensions, corporate take-aways from America’s used-to-be middle-class workforce certainly are driven by the avarice of top executives and wealthy investors. Plainly put, the more they can take from workers, the more they can put in their own pockets (or, most likely, in their offshore bank accounts). It adds up to a massive redistribution of wealth from the many to the few.

In addition to greedy, though, these people are rank thieves. As Woody Guthrie succinctly put it: “Some’ll rob you with a six-gun, some with a fountain pen.” We’re now in a rapacious fountain-pen economy. Since the Wall Street crash of 2008 (itself a product of grand theft by financial elites), the productivity and creativity of all Americans have regenerated every bit of the wealth that was frittered away by bankers, and we created trillions of dollars in new income. What a phenomenal national achievement that is, produced in an astonishingly short time by the shared effort of our people!

But strenuous effort is all we shared. The richest one-percent of Americans have grabbed 91 percent of the gains in income, and the even-richer one-tenth-of-one-percent sucked up 22 percent of the new wealth. Thus, the vast majority of us have still not recovered the wealth we lost (homes, cars, savings, etc.) and 99 percent of us are getting less income today than we were before Wall Street crashed our economy seven years ago.

It’s time we robees started talking plainly about what’s going on. The rich are not getting richer because they’re more enterprising than everyone else, harder-working, or of strong moral character. They’re thieves. They’re getting richer by stealing from you.

“US wealth inequality – top 0.1% worth as much as the bottom 90%,” www.theguardian.com, November 13, 2014.

“Top 1 percent capture most of wealth gains,” www.timesfreepress.com, January 27, 2015.

“The 1 Percent Have Gotten All The Income Gains From The Recovery, www.thinkprogress.org, January 28, 2015.

*  *  *  *

Scurrilous corporate thieves are stealing workers’ comp

They say there’s honor among thieves, but I say: That depends on the thieves.

Your common street thief, yes – but not those princely CEOs of corporate larceny. The elites in the top suites are pickpockets, swindlers, thugs and scoundrels, routinely committing mass economic violence against America’s working families to further enrich and empower themselves.

But now comes a cabal of about two-dozen corporate chieftains pushing a vicious new campaign of physical violence against workers. The anti-labor bully, Walmart, is among the leaders, but so are such prestigious chains as Macy’s and Nordstrom, along with Lowe’s, Kohl’s, and Safeway. Their goal is to gut our nation’s workers compensation program, freeing corporate giants to injure or even kill employees in the workplace without having to pay for the lost wages, medical care, or burial of those harmed.

Workers comp insurance is a social contract between injured employees, who give up the right to sue their companies for negligence, and employers, who pay for insurance to cover a basic level of medical benefits and wages for those harmed. Administered by state governments, benefits vary, and they usually fall far short of meeting the full needs of the injured people, but the program has at least provided a measure of help to assuage the suffering of millions.

But even that’s too much for these avaricious, multibillion-dollar corporations. Why pay for insuring employees when it’s much cheaper just to buy state legislators who’re willing to privatize workers’ comp? This lets corporations write their own rules of compensation to slash benefits, cut safety costs – and earn thieving CEOs bigger bonuses.

Yes, this shifty move is a scurrilous crime, but it’s a crime that pays richly. And the money can fill the hole in their souls where their honor used to be.

“Walmart, Lowe’s, Safeway, and Nordstrom Are Bankrolling a Nationwide Campaign to Gut Workers’ Comp,” www.motherjones.com, March 26, 2015.

A Brief History of Workers’ Compensation,” www.ncbi.nih.gov, 1999.

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3 responses to “Jim Hightower on Looting the Middle Class

  1. Woo boy, are you ever right. I do not think anything will change until the guillotine come back

  2. Spending on privatized “defense” contracts IS the problem. No bid giveaways to Halliburton, Bechtel, etc. that comes right out of taxpayers pockets. No wonder the bastards want to eliminate the social safety net!

  3. How refreshing to hear the situation described so frankly. Working people have been battered down by Randist propaganda for so long they’ve been manipulated into thinking that it’s all their fault.

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