Thursday, December 4, 2008

Cheap Labor Trap (12/04/08)

There is a myth of economic freedom in this country. One important thing to ask ourselves is "who is left out of this story?" The conservative economic freedom story leaves out about 45 million people. Who are they?

Conservative myth telling leaves out the forty-five million people working hard for a living but cannot afford health care. People who are too old or sick to work are left out. The millions of working class people whose wages have not gone up over the last thirty years while prices have risen, while profits go to stockholders, and while CEOs get paid more and more each year!

We need those jobs done - picking fruit and vegetables, flipping burgers, day laborers in construction - those jobs that are absolutely necessary to our current lifestyles. Let's include Educational Assistants, Child Care workers, and school food service employees - it shows how little we care about children. These people are left out of the myth and they are caught in a cheap labor trap.

Their trap is to hold up all of our lifestyles. A living wage would help, but we need more than that. Imagine if all of the employees without health care went on strike?

The beginning of the solution is to develop labor policies, health care policies, business and tax policies from the moral principle of fairness.

Yes, better wages is key - people deserve fair compensation for work done. Our current market is unfair in this area. It is time for working people to be fairly compensated for the profits that they bring to employers.

Regardless of the imperfections of the early USA there are important principles to build from. It is very wise to collect our common wealth for the common good in order to provide the infrastructure that everyone can access for their fulfillment. That's the positive of taxes. Without taxes we don't have highways, the Internet, public education, parks, and so much more. Without a common wealth there is no common good.

We need policies that hold up our highest ideals, our moral responsibilities for freedom. If you work for a living, you should earn a living. Work is a contribution to society at large, and fair compensation is the right thing to do. The cheap labor trap is immoral and we need to eliminate it.

We need a quality educational system that serves ALL children. We need to end and reverse the huge transfers of wealth from ordinary taxpayers to the rich. We need to create expectations for ethical business. Corporations impose themselves in ways similar to governments, we need to make them accountable to the public well being.

All institutions that govern our lives should be accountable to the people. Privatization removes the accountability - the same as "taxation without representation." The civil justice system needs to be protected in order for it to protect the people. Public education and the diversity of Albuquerque are what will be the great engine of wealth - if we remove the barriers. Markets are not "natural" and we need to ensure that they serve the public good.

This will be the transformation necessary to turn around the economy and many of the problems we've been dealing with for decades, and in some cases centuries. We are all in this together and all of us working together will make the biggest difference.

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