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The Battle For... Pie
May 23, 2003
By Dennis Rahkonen

Giving massive tax cuts to the rich is both blatantly unfair and not an effective economic stimulus. The selfishness that motivates moneyed interests to press for such reductions also features a definite social irresponsibility that, almost always, results in savings thereby gained being either simply sat on, or narrowly invested in ways that have little job-producing impact.

Look at history.

When was the last time a policy-driven windfall for Big Business and the individually well-heeled translated into a boon for America's wage-earning majority? Certainly not during the Reagan years, when huge breaks were granted to America's corporate and financial hierarchy. It was a time of extended unemployment for millions, with the jobs that were finally found providing lower pay, fewer benefits, and worse conditions than those originally lost.

Bush's ballyhooed "solution" to 6% joblessness is just so much additional injustice dumped on top of existing injustices, both economic and social. And it's that accumulated inequity - the favoritism constantly shown the elite while ordinary people's worsening needs go unmet - that lies at the heart of our country's troubles.

You don't solve a problem rooted in millionaires/billionaires having the unrestrained power to do what they greedily desire... by rewarding that greed and thereby solidifying its harmful influence on society.

I'm Your Puppet

Since day one in office, Dubya has been waging one-sided class warfare against workaday citizens. Whenever there's been a choice between serving the common good or the extreme avarice of business and banking elements that contributed heavily to Bush's election bid (with full expectation of eventual payback), the administration has invariably, shamelessly exhibited a profits-before-people bias.

There's never been a U.S. president so dutifully a cat's-paw of what he's decisively helped make into an unabashed, reactionary Corporate State.

Logic tells us that an authentic stimulus would entail targeted tax cuts/rebates going to families most in need, combined with the existence of good, union-scale jobs that would give Americans sufficient pay to buy back the goods society produces.

Those goods have been gathering dust in inventory because so many of us are too poor to generate enough consumer confidence to get the economy up and energetically running. Faced with a classic "overproduction crisis," American monopoly capitalism looks only to its short-term aggrandizement, oblivious to the big picture and the calamity that allowing the poor to get steadily poorer will ultimately inflict on the system itself.

Hey, Hey, Hey, I Want Money

Oligarchs squeezing the golden goose too hard today means it won't lay at all tomorrow. America requires more people with more folding green or securely "current" credit cards showing up at its malls and other retail centers. Or in automobile dealerships.

Either marginal tax breaks for Joe and Jenny Average over time, or a lump-sum outlay mailed just once, wouldn't really do the trick. The remedy must be substantially more comprehensive. Many of us have so many outstanding bills that we'd use whatever we might receive just to ease our painful debt burden.

Increased minimum pay - or a true "living" wage - is the answer.

Apples, Peaches, Pumpkin Pie

But a fundamental contradiction arises: Our economy's divisible value, while permitting some variation, is essentially a finite entity. Think of it as a golden pie baked in a specific pan. Our bosses have been cutting themselves fat pieces right along, and they're hoggishly wanting even bigger ones. From a fairness standpoint, plus a need to sustain ourselves, we workers can no longer make do with the small slices we've long been forced to accept.

We certainly couldn't tolerate the tiny, crumbling slivers that would be our "reward" if Bush and Co. fully got its gluttonous way. And neither could the nation, since we're both its backbone and its destiny's ultimate arbiter.

We have to have bigger pieces ourselves, but will the Man, with his tightly held spatula, relinquish it to us and permit a righteous cutting? Not without a serious struggle, meaning we'll have to engage in class warfare of our own, on terms - and from positions of strength - that will assure our control of the pie.

After all, we're the ones whose labor made it possible in the first place. It's really our pie; the boss just owns the tin in which it was baked.

Come Together, Right Now

What'll it take to show who's the real boss in the kitchen, and in America as a whole?

Unity, unity, unity.

Working people have to seamlessly unite, across all differences such as race, gender and sexual orientation, to acquire the collective clout without which our pie pieces will otherwise get almost too thin to see, let alone provide nourishment.

We'll also require clarity of guiding vision, enabling us to recognize that our true enemies can be found in the boardrooms of Enron-corrupt corporations, and on Wall Street, not in Baghdad or the next location on Bush's foreign, imperial hit list.

Cohesiveness and consciousness... all for one and one for all.

Back before Republicans devolved into Greedicus Backwardus, Abraham Lincoln correctly pointed out the proper relationship between workers and owners: "Labor is prior to, and independent of, capital. Capital is only the fruit of labor, and could never have existed if labor had not first existed. Labor is the superior of capital, and deserves much the higher consideration."

That consideration certainly won't be granted by the current ruling structure, unless it's forced to, through a "fed-up" rebellion of chronically ripped-off U.S. workers.

It takes a fight to win. Do we have what it takes to triumph, or will the plutocracy permanently leave us with nothing at all on our forks?

(Thanks to James and Bobby Purify, The Kingsmen, Jay and The Techniques, and the Beatles for sub-title inspiration.)


Dennis Rahkonen, from Superior, WI, has been writing commentary and verse for various progressive outlets since the '60s. He can be reached at dennisr@cp.duluth.mn.us

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