Wednesday, March 18, 2009
The Real Class War
By David Van Os - March 17, 2009
(The opinions expressed in this column are those of David Van Os and may or may not be the expressed opinions shared by DFWRCC and/or Faith Chatham. David Van Os practices law in San Antonio, Texas)
The corporate elite and their many political stooges love to scream, "Class war!" when change is demanded from the bottom up.
Their intention is to evoke in the public mind frightening images of bloodthirsty Bolshevik revolutionaries rampaging through the streets with torches and red banners, chanting "Dictatorship of the proletariat" and shooting every businessman and employer on sight.
With such propaganda what they are really trying to do is to divert the public's attention from the true fact that there really is socioeconomic class war in the United States of America, except that the aggressors are the elite denizens of the top, not the rest of us down here at the bottom.
The bailouts of Wall Street robber barons are some of the clearest manifestations of the real class war in a long time.
For example, in an attempted defense of the obscene bonuses paid to AIG executives with taxpayers' money, the first excuse we heard two days ago was that the executives were entitled to their bonuses by contract, and we could not intrude on the sanctity of contracts.
Well, now. When the automakers asked for government assistance to stay afloat, did anybody in decision-making authority say, "We can't interfere with the United Auto Workers' contracts"? Of course not! It was presumed by all, and expected by the Congress and the President (both the former and the current), that the hourly-wage workers would give up their contractually protected benefits and wages. The Auto Workers' contracts were no less legally binding contracts than the AIG executives' contracts. In fact, it seems to me the Auto Workers' contracts carried more sanctity, in having been agreed to and ratified by many more thousands of individuals
There was one big difference between the two situations. One involved the silk stocking elite, and the other involved hourly paid blue-collar workers. One involved the aristocracy, and the other involved the grassroots masses.
And in the paneled offices and conference rooms of the Beltway elite who inhabit the political administrations (both former and current), the aristocracy protected their own. Let's make the workers at the auto plants give up their contracts, but for heaven's sake let's not interfere with the sacred contracts of our wine-and-cheese buddies.
Meanwhile right here in Texas, the Neanderthal Republican Governor and his fellow Neanderthal Republican political elite have declared that out-of-work Texans should not benefit from the extended unemployment benefits offered by the federal stimulus package. In other words, Texas taxpayers should not participate in some comeback from their own federal tax dollars. I'm talking about all Texas taxpayers, not just the unemployed. Keeping unemployment benefits flowing into the otherwise penniless pockets of the jobless puts much-needed money into the cash registers of honest local retail businesses, thus keeping more employees from falling into the ranks of the unemployed. All of us are the victims of this top vs. bottom class war that we did not initiate, are we not?
Today journalistic pundits are breathlessly announcing that populist anger is cropping up in the countryside over the Wall Street executives' greedy personal self-enrichment at the hands of the taxpayers. Well, duh!
The President and his administration have joined the outrage parade - not as leaders, but as followers of We the People when it became politically necessary. Let's keep up the "populist anger", folks. We are in the lead. And when the corporate executives and Washington politicians start talking about "class war", let's remember who has really been making war on whom for a very long time.
David Van Os