Friday, May 30, 2014

Workers Rights?

Again, the land of freedom and opportunity is not #1. The land of opportunity, upward mobility and exceptionalism is again a land of illusion and lost dreams. Americans tout their health system as the best in the world, but it's sort of true only if you are rich enough to afford to pay for it. In many ways, for the rest of us, it's #37 world ranking puts it below many third world countries. The same with education. Some of the very best schools, but they are more and more expensive and if you have to get a student loan, the GOP just killed a bill that would have reduced the interest rates and are pushing for even higher rates! If you are young and don't have a trust fund, you are selling yourself into an indentured slavery to financial institutions if want a good education. The public education system is being allowed to disintegrate, student aid is being cut and privatized corporate substandard charter school systems are being pushed on cities all over America. I keep thinking that it is the desire of the conservative oligarchs to create an uneducated work force that will allow them to compete with the uneducated, underprivileged work forces of the third world. The canonization of St. Ronnie legitimatized the demonization of the American Workers and by tapping into the meme cliche, "but he only said what we all are really thinking", gave the green light for the organized war on the idea of Labor Unions, but perhaps John Maynard Keynes the great British economist theorist inadvertently pulled the curtain open when he said, "Capitalism is the extraordinary belief that the nastiest of men for the nastiest of motives will somehow work for the benefit of all"
Another great modern economist, diplomat and philosopher, John Kenneth Galbraith, more succinctly stated, "The modern conservative is engaged in one of man's oldest exercises in moral philosophy, that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness." That really nails it.
This world map, published in The Huffington Post, in an article on a report by the International Trade Union Confederation on the state of actual workers rights in 139 countries all over the planet, ranked the countries on a sliding scale from 1 to 5+. Click on the map to enlarge it, or go to the original Huff Post piece.  In the color coding, the darker the color, the lower the score. The USA scores a pretty dismal 4 indicating "systematic violations" and "serious efforts to crush the collective voice of workers." According to this report, Russian workers have more rights than American workers. America ranks right up there with Iran, Mexico, Iraq, Mali, Indonesia and a few others. The bright spots were South Africa, Uruguay, France, Germany and Italy, Iceland, the Scandinavian countries which included the only country to get a perfect score, Denmark. America has to ask itself if the repression of workers rights and benefits really help the economy? Is this how you compete? Or is this just another piece of evidence of the triumph of greed, a fatalistic acceptance of defeat, the willful ignorant destruction of the future for short term profits? What can you do? Never give up the struggle. Never accept defeat, but at least here is a body of evidence to refute the next empowered conservative jackass who tells you that America is #1.

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