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Labor, GM and Libya

debt-crisisIt’s Labor Day. Of course the holiday is meaningless due to the fact that labor has lost most of its clout. The death of organized labor started the day Ronald Reagan fired the air traffic controllers who were striking for better working conditions mainly because the enforced overtime they were subject to were leaving air traffic controllers exhausted and falling asleep on the job and putting the public in danger. So today we still celebrate Labor Day, even though labor is almost totally controlled by the corporate state. It looks good on paper though.

The labor union (UAW) now owns shares of GM corporate stock. They also run the union’s pension plan. The wage for new workers went from $27.00 an hour to $14.00. Now union members must ask themselves the question; When the union makes a decision on where the company should be heading, are they making the decision as the head of the worker’s labor union or as an investor of the company? You can see that GM is off-shoring many manufacturing jobs to China and Brazil. I’d say that the question has been pretty well answered.

It is a crime that our representatives in Washington have neglected labor. Not only have they turned a blind eye to the shenanigans of GM, they have also turned their backs on labor in the state of Wisconsin. Obama, the standard-bear for the Democratic Party and had the endorsements of labor across the nation, stayed silent as the GOP in Wisconsin stripped the public employees’ unions of their right to bargain collectively. Some model for the Democratic Party.

I can’t help but to weigh in on the situation in Libya. While Gaddafi wasn’t a perfect ruler, he did more for his country than most rulers do for theirs. I’d like to mention that most of the rhetoric mentioned by the mainstream media, and some progressives writing in the alternative press that seemed to swallow government propaganda hook, line and sinker, neglected to point out.

1. Literacy rates have risen from 10% of the nation to around 90% of the population.

2. Women have the right to go to school and hold down a job.

3. The life expectancy of Libyans has risen by twenty years and the infant mortality rate has dropped dramatically.

4. Libya had the highest Human Development Index ranking in Africa. This is a U.N. measurement of life expectancy, educational attainment and adjusted real income.

5. Most basic necessities: food, housing, fuel, healthcare and education were either heavily subsidized or became entirely free. Subsidies were considered the most effective way to redistribute the national wealth.

6. Libya had a lower incarceration rate than the Czech Republic (or the United States)The nation of Libya ranked 61st in the world while the US has been number one in incarceration for years.

7. Libya has the third highest GDP on the African continent, South Africa has the highest, and Algeria is second.

There are other questions regarding this “spontaneous” Libyan uprising. Here is a revealing fact: The insurgents have recovered the old flag of Libya - black, red, green. This flag has disappeared from Libya for the last 40 years, yet there were thousands of flags in the demonstrations from day one. So it was prepared!  Flags had to be given, to be prepared.  Did these flags “spontaneously” appear too?

Obama rushed into yet another military conflict, this time with no authorization from Congress. It seems that the legislative branch of the government has forfeited its responsibility under the Constitution and given the executive branch a free hand to engage the U.S. in any war of its choosing.

I believe that this entire episode in Libya will come back to haunt us. The interim government has already adopted Sharia (Islamic) law and declared Libya to be a “Muslim State”. Maybe when a real government is elected (if the elections are not manipulated) it will be a secular state. Don’t hold your breath.

So we find that two pillars of this country have been re-designated. The role of labor has been redefined. Labor has become part of management at GM, and the President of the United States has gained absolute power over our military.

Somehow, I don’t feel like celebrating.

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