As Democrats and progressives we have our work cut out for us. This is a critical time in our history when many of our elected senators, congressmen and even our President have strayed from our core beliefs. They have fallen for the one percent who is the big money donor. They only need us to vote for them at election time and accept whatever they do for the rest of their term in office. With big money, they can produce a message full of lies and half-truths that will make us believe that they are doing the right thing for us, to get our vote. Those politicians will do anything to get re-elected to hold on to the power and prestige that are afforded to that office. We have Democrats, who are willing to destroy social security and medicare just to continue getting campaign money from the One Percent. I know how difficult it is to raise campaign funds to get your message out. I have been a candidate more than once. Without money, you cannot print flyers, advertise or send out mailers. Preparing signs and getting them out is another big campaign expense and the expense list goes on and on. So as Democrats and progressives of the 99% we do not have unlimited funds to give to good candidates. However, we can contribute more in many ways that don’t require large cash donations. We can give a small donation and volunteer to help to get good candidates elected. We can volunteer to walk precincts, hand out flyers, put up yard signs, send out postcards to a neighbor, and print out flyers on your own printer. Furthermore, you can become a campaign manager by taking campaign classes. Every candidate needs a campaign manager to guide them throughout the campaign. And finally, we can work with our Get Out The Vote (GOTV) team to inform Democrats and Decline To State voters of the best candidates and issues, so that they can make informed voting decisions. Building a strong precinct network to work with Democrats will yield benefits for many years to come. We have to find a way to become united and throw out the non believers. This could be a good starting point to take back our country from the One Percent.. JAM
by Judith Bambace
I love the dog days of summer, even if we don’t actually have hot, sultry weather here in Coronado. With my favorite season whizzing by, I began to think about the approaching September holiday – Labor Day — and its significance. For most Americans, Labor Day provides the opportunity for that last picnic or day at the beach, and it is the starting bell for the steeplechase of autumn. But in today’s political climate, we need to reflect on the origin and true meaning of this holiday, which is more relevant than ever.
Labor Day celebrates the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity and well- being of America. It originated during one of American labor history’s most dismal chapters, when in the late 1800s, the average American worked 12-hour days and seven-day weeks in order to eke out a basic living. People of all ages, mostly the very poor and recent immigrants, often faced extremely unsafe working conditions. Labor unions grew more prominent and vocal, and they began organizing strikes and rallies to protest poor conditions and compel employers to renegotiate hours and pay. The first Labor Day parade in U.S. history occurred on September 5, 1882, when 10,000 workers took unpaid time off to march from City Hall to Union Square in New York City. Twelve years later, railroad workers went on strike in Chicago to protest wage cuts and the firing of union representatives, leading to riots that resulted in the deaths of more than a dozen workers. In the wake of this massive unrest and in an attempt to repair ties with American workers, Congress passed an act making Labor Day a legal holiday.
History is, indeed, a great teacher. In the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., “the labor movement did not diminish the strength of the nation but enlarged it. By raising the living standards of millions, labor miraculously created a market for industry and lifted the whole nation to undreamed of levels of production. Those who attack labor forget these simple truths, but history remembers them.” It was the labor movement that helped secure so much of what we take for granted today – the 40-hour work week, the minimum wage, family leave, health insurance, Social Security, Medicare – and that helped build the largest middle class in history. It is disheartening that today, the middle class – the backbone of our economy – must fight harder and harder just to stay afloat.
Samuel Gompers, head of the American Federation of Labor between 1886 and 1924, said it best: “What does labor want? We want more schoolhouses and less jails; more books and less arsenals; more learning and less vice; more leisure and less greed; more justice and less revenge; in fact, more of the opportunities to cultivate our better selves.” Now that’s a holiday worth celebrating.
Unfortunately, the failings of corporations and governments alike are so abundant that it places a premium on one’s time and energy to learn enough to make informed remarks and formulate recommendations for action on any one of them. Having said that, I will make a quick foray into one issue that affects all of us. This one deals with the United States Postal Service (USPS), an independent governmental corporation, functioning under the laws and regulations of our federal government. At one time the post office was considered to be so important that its establishment was recognized as an explicit power granted to Congress in our United States Constitution (Article I, Section 8); the Congress specifically has the power to “establish Post Offices and post Roads,” but the current situation appears to be one where the Congress appears to be acting to the contrary.
The USPS is facing financial obstacles that are mostly not of its own making, but, nonetheless, threaten its existence. While USPS mail service has declined because of the use of alternative communication methods, such as email, as well as private package delivery businesses, such as FedEx, the laws under which the system has been required to function have substantially hampered the ability of the USPS to operate in a financially responsible manner. Postmaster Patrick R. Donahoe said, on a recent PBS NewsHour program, that a major reason for the postal service’s financial crisis is a 2006 law requiring it to pay about $5.5 billion per year for 10 years to underwrite 75 years of health coverage for future employees. In addition, according to actuarial reports, the USPS has overpaid about $57 billion into two federal pension plans, which it is attempting to retrieve to meet current and future obligations. Layoffs of 120,000 workers, closure of post offices, and elimination of Saturday mail service and overnight delivery of first class mail have been proposed to prevent imminent shutdown of the entire USPS. Naturally, Cliff Guffey, president of the American Postal Workers Union, opposes proposals that would place his members at risk of job loss (New York Times, September 6, 2011).
As Democrats, we should join Guffey in opposing these job losses. We should pressure our Congress and President Obama to change laws that make the USPS make huge payments into health care benefits, as well as other laws that prevent the USPS from operating more effectively in a competitive marketplace. Private businesses, such as FedEx and UPS, don’t fund employee health care benefits 75 years forward! Why should the law put the USPS at such a competitive disadvantage to private operators?
Perhaps an investigation into campaign donations from FedEx and UPS to members of Congress might reveal the real reason for restrictions on the ability of the USPS to operate as it should. Is it possible that Congress is trying to put the USPS out of business, so FedEx and UPS can overcharge us for privatized service? Are the FedEx drop boxes at the post offices harbingers of this? If so, consider what has happened when other government services have been privatized to contractors; Blackwater, Halliburton, and their ilk immediately come to mind. They’ve made billions in no-bid contracts. Think about it! Do you want small businesses to be put out of business because they are forced to rely on expensive parcel delivery services instead of the less costly USPS? Do you want rural post offices that are the center of regional communities to go out of business because they are not profitable for the private parcel delivery services? Do you want to pay high cost, nonunion, private contractors $10 to deliver a letter because it’s being sent to a rural area?
If you don’t want the USPS to be strangled by laws and regulations that give private providers unfair advantages, send messages to your Congress members and president, to unshackle the USPS from laws that are pushing it to the brink of insolvency. We need the USPS.
Is democracy as we know it on its way out? According to the Pew Research Center, the proportion of the U.S. public expressing trust in the federal government has fallen from just under 80% in the late 1960s to barely 20% today. Another poll by the European Union in September, found that only 29% of voters in its 27 member-states trust their own national governments. Fewer than 20% believe that their elected representatives are capable of successful action against financial empires.
An example that supports the European view is the Murdock affair. In this case, British governmental officials did not do their jobs for over five years, allowing Murdoch’s media empire to make millions through information obtained by phone hacking. It was a clear betrayal of trust for greed, not only by Murdoch but also by governmental officials who were complicit in the crime.
In the United States, the rich corporations lobby legislators to secure changes in the laws to help them create more jobs; then, they outsource the jobs to other countries! They also steal our taxpayer-funded research and build plants in Asia to make the products cheaply and sell them back to us! Then, they want us to give them a free pass to repatriate those dollars tax free that they have accumulated in foreign countries. Our workers walk the streets looking for jobs that have been taken to other countries, while the rich get richer by siphoning profits and taxes into their own pockets.
When are we going to stop this? When are we going to get rid of the lying corporate CEOs, and the lying politicians who use corporate funds to get reelected? When are we going to stand up and shout: ENOUGH IS ENOUGH? 2012 elections are just ahead. It’s time for us to act!
Politics is not a spectator sport!
Obama Campaign Kicks Off in East County
President Barack Obama’s cam-paign for re-election kicked off in East County on July 30, 2011. Carlos Diaz Livingston, organizer for the East County of San Diego, led the gathering of about 100 volunteers in planning grassroots activities. The first official event for the 2012 campaign took place at the Community Center in El Cajon from 2 – 4 p.m.
Linda Armacost, president of the La Mesa Foothills Democratic Club, and Bonnie Price, co-president of the East County Democratic Club, made comments about their clubs and party events, following opening remarks by Livingston.
The volunteers divided into sec-tors by communities in the area. In each of the groups, plans were developed to reach out to recruit new volunteers, register voters, and conduct campaign activities that would be successful in each area. El Cajon, La Mesa, Santee-Lakeside, Spring Valley-Lemon Grove, Santee-Lakeside, and smaller, rural communities, each had numerous volunteers. El Cajon had the largest turnout with about 20 participants.
Prior to the planning session, volunteers professionals did videotaping sessions with volunteers, who explained why they were joining the campaign. Following the planning session, all volunteers participated in a videotaping session, shouting “I’m In!” and “Promises Kept.” Livingston planned to have the videos posted to the national and/or state campaign web sites.
Livingston reported that he believed that the turnout in Easy County was the largest in the state. Organizing regions were based on congressional districts. Livingston graduated from Monte Vista High School and Washington University in St. Louis. Thereafter, he did a tour in Ecuador for the Peace Corps. He plans to continue his studies in graduate school.
There’s no doubt about it. Both Medicare and Social Security are in danger of going broke. Trustees of each system recently released reports that Medicare will become insolvent in 2024, while Social Security will be unable to meet its full obligations in 2036. These reports are based on assumptions that nothing will be done to prevent the death of these systems.
Because both programs are valued by the public, governmental officials and citizens alike have offered rescue plans.
One that the Republican-led House of Representatives passed in its version of the budget caps Medicare costs by making it a voucher system to allow the public to buy health insurance. Increasing costs of health care costs would then be borne by individuals instead of the government, since insurance tends to exclude payments for many costs.
Republicans have also endorsed changing Social Security to operate like a 401K plan. This would allow individuals to invest in securities and other financial products to provide for retirement. This plan would also put the burden on the individual; whoever did not make the best retirement investments would suffer the consequences of poverty.
Both proposals fail as measures to ensure that we who have paid for existing programs get what we paid for. And neither requires that high income earners pay the same percentage of their incomes for these programs as those of us who earn less, which is a flaw in our cur-rent systems; currently, contributions from high income earners ends at $106,800. Why not remove this cap, so all pay their fair share?
And, why not have all governmental employees at all levels pay into the national systems instead of the diverse national, state, and local pension plans? These plans are often underfunded by officials or poorly invested in hedge funds and other shaky financial products. Including more workers in the national programs would boost needed revenues.
Furthermore, why can’t the Medicare drug prescription plan control costs like the Veterans Administration by using competitive bidding and bulk purchasing to reduce drug prices? Such practices would make Medicare funds stretch farther.
Needless to say, Republicans are against these alternatives and others as well. Why because their constituents who elected them are not their main concern. Republicans consider banks, insurance companies, Wall Street financial organizations, and big pharmaceutical firms to be more important than those who elected them.