Friday, October 15, 2010

The 'Little Guy' Is Losing In American Politics

By Teamsters General President Jim Hoffa
Published By The Detroit News on October 13, 2010
If you understand politics as a battle between liberal and conservative, then you don't understand politics at all. The central political battle today is between the corporate billionaires on one side and the little guy on the other. The fight is about whether the government should protect corporate power to enrich a few billionaires, or restrict corporate power to protect the liberty and property of the average American.

I'll tell you who is winning: It isn't the little guy.

Corporate power explains why the U.S. hasn't made the transformation to renewable energy. It's why we can't trust our food, drugs or toys to be safe. It's why we're struggling to develop new industries. It's why workers' wages have stagnated or fallen over the past decade and why so many families are losing their homes.

It's why so many jobs moved offshore so quickly. U.S. multinationals now employ one-third of their work force overseas.

Here's an example of corporate power at work: FedEx has held up a funding bill for the Federal Aviation Administration. The company's billionaire chief executive, Fred Smith, hates a provision that would put FedEx back under the same labor law as his competitors. So he has held up funding for the entire agency that runs the nation's airspace.

Fred Smith is devious about masking his agenda. He claims his competitor is seeking a bailout — when it's FedEx that has long enjoyed special government treatment.

Similarly, corporations have been wily about disguising their plans to further concentrate their wealth and influence. They're adept at creating phony populist groups that claim to support individual freedom.

To understand how corporate billionaires do it, just turn on Fox News, owned by multi-billionaire Rupert Murdoch. Everything those talking heads on Fox advocate would be good for Rupert Murdoch: fewer taxes for the rich, less government regulation, weaker bargaining power for workers. You can bet most of those talking heads are getting fat paychecks from billionaire-funded think tanks and nonprofits. And yet Fox claims to be "fair and balanced."

For all those tea partiers who believe in individual freedom and smaller government, I have a message for you. Concentration of wealth in too few hands will lead to extraordinary abuses of power and the destruction of your property and liberty.

It's the banks, not the government, that are taking people's homes away from them without even making sure they have the right to foreclose on them. Last month, Jason Grodensky paid cash for a home in Florida, only to have the bank sell it out from under him in a foreclosure "mistake."

Just the other day, Nancy Jacobini was alone inside her Florida home when she heard someone breaking into her front door. She locked herself in the bathroom and called 911. It turns out the intruder was someone who worked for JP Morgan Chase. He was changing the locks on her home, something he had no legal right to do.

The corporate billionaires will say the banks can correct their own behavior. The little guy will say the government needs to make sure they don't do it again. It makes no sense to describe one as "liberal" and the other as "conservative." It's the many of us vs. the few of them.

We'll see which side prevails on Nov. 2.


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