Betrayal of American Dream continues
by Judy Elliott
Columnist
October 28, 2012 12:00 AM | 965 views | 0 0 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print
When my brother, Richard, told me he would not be voting because he is “a strict Constitutionalist,” I lost it.

I fired back, telling him John Adams had done the heavy lifting, banging his cane on the floor to signal disapproval of his colleagues’ rhetoric, and Adams’ legacy includes voting, regardless.

Granted, Richard has slogged through a tough time, seeing his house in Pass Christian destroyed by Katrina. Still, he is a Shell Oil retiree with a solid pension, including health insurance.

His grandchildren go to good public schools and his government tests to see if the food, water and medicine he ingests are safe. His savings account is insured by a federal agency, and he can walk into his public library any day, pull out his card, and carry home a load of free books to read.

His part is to pay his taxes, give his attention to what’s going on in his home state and Washington and vote. I said as much. He grumbled. I hung up and punched a pillow!

Granted, the economy has not made a magical turn-around and it will take more than four years in the White House to restore full employment, but, globally, this country is in far better shape than most, labeled “advanced.”

The assault on the middle class began long before Barack Obama was elected.

In their book, “The Betrayal of the American Dream,” investigative reporters Donald Bartlett and James Steele remind us between 1999 and 2008, large American companies slashed jobs here by 1.9 million, raising employment in foreign countries by 30 percent.

As our trading partners advanced their own interests, we “copped out” on protecting the middle class. A quote from Bartlett and Steele’s book warns: “If you run a country like a business, everyone becomes expendable.”

Witness private equity firms. Borrowing money to buy companies, they cut back on expenses to streamline plants before selling them. An equity firm passes on debt to new owners, who find they cannot manage the expense and then either close the factory or send jobs offshore to save money.

We’ve seen the documentaries on manufacturing plants closing in small town U.S.A., places where a company’s payroll kept a community alive and workers in families numbered three generations.

When Wal-Mart increased profits by buying dustpans and household items from China rather than from Rubbermaid, the company had to cut its work force by 9 percent, closing nine manufacturing plants.

“The Betrayal of the American Dream” lays blame on past Congresses and administrations for failing to stand with workers, including mild-mannered Gerald Ford, who, as far back as 1976, refused to side with this country’s shoe industry as Brazilian imports undercut prices, stamped: “Made in the USA.”

In the next 35, American workers in the shoe industry lost 150,000 jobs.

It was a trend that grew and continued. Wal-Mart did not take care of its’ Rubbermaid connection. Apple was born on home soil, but out-sourced assembling of computers, iPods, iPads and iPhones, leaving Colorado Springs with a loss of 15,000 jobs, while Apple’s stock was worth billions.

In the meantime, Boeing is building planes in China and American corporations have done away with 84,350 pension plans. Eli Lilly has Chinese laboratories in Shanghai and Beijing, developing new drugs.

In “The Betrayal of the American Dream,” authors Bartlett and Steele suggest four questions for candidates to answer before we send them to Washington: Will you support tax reform that restores fairness to personal and corporate tax rates? Will you support U.S. manufacturing by working for a more balanced trade policy? Will you support government investment in essential infrastructure to help businesses and create jobs? Will you help to keep the benefits of U.S. innovation within this country and work to prevent outsourcing?

Consider which candidates would answer “Yes.” Then VOTE! We have to take better care of this country. John Adams thanks you and so does the American dream.

Judy Elliott is an award-winning columnist from Marietta.

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