Conservatives Claim Unions Caused NY Snow Jam

This post originally appeared at Campaign for America’s Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture. I am a Fellow with CAF.
The right’s propaganda machine begins with a simple narrative, repeats it endlessly, and then ties current events to the narrative to drive the point home. The corporate/conservative right are currently working a narrative that public employees and their unions are the reason for state and local budget problems. This is repeated endlessly, and every current event that hits the news is then used to support the claim. This is how an untruth becomes “conventional wisdom.”
Source Of Story: Three “Unidentified” Workers
Huge headline at the Drudge Report: NYC SNOW JOB: SLOW CLEAN-UP WAS UNION ‘PROTEST’ The headline links to a NY Post story, Sanitation Department’s slow snow cleanup was a budget protest. The source of the claim? Three “unidentified” plow workers.

Halloran said he met with three plow workers from the Sanitation Department — and two Department of Transportation supervisors who were on loan — at his office after he was flooded with irate calls from constituents.

The story claims the unions did this to protest budget cuts. Of course the obvious cause of the snow mess was that budget cuts caused the problem because there were not enough people employed to clear the snow.
“Noise Machine”
The way the right’s “noise machine” works is that a story gets started somewhere and is amplified by the right-wing media machine that includes FOX, Limbaugh and scores more talk-radio hosts, blogs, newspapers and magazines. And in this case, of course the story is being spread by … FOX, Limbaugh and scores more talk-radio hosts, blogs, newspapers and magazines. The idea is to create enough “noise” that the mainstream press picks up the story.
Yesterday at FOX, the “rumor” (that no one had heard) was a headline story,

The chairman of the Municipal Labor Committee, Local 831, which represents men and women of the New York City Sanitation Department says there is no truth behind a rumor that his members worked slower during the blizzard of 2010.

Today the NY Post piles on with three “unidentified” workers saying the unions did it. The right’s blogs and magazines of course amplified.
Strata-Sphere, Union Protest Killed New Born Child,

That is called negligent homicide or manslaughter – and every union idiot who participated in that blizzard protest should be charged and locked away for as long as possible.

Gateway Pundit: NY City Workers Planned Their Slow Response to Record Snowfall As a Protest to Budget Cuts
National Review, How Will Bloomberg Deal With a Union Snowplow Slowdown?
Examiner, New York sanitation workers union sabotaged snow cleanup
The Noise Machine Drives It To The Mainstream
The “noise machine” is having success. Even though the entire story is based on three “unidentified” snow plow drivers, the story has been driven into the mainstream corporate media.
CBS News, Report: Disgruntled Workers Slowed NYC Cleanup. CBS News “reports” that there is a “report” that unions caused the problem. Does not work to verify the story, sends it out to the nation.
Getting To The Point: Cut Pay And Pensions
In Ten Holiday Attacks On Public Employees I warned,

If you haven’t already noticed, there is a corporate/conservative campaign underway to convince the public that public employees are living high on the taxpayer’s dime and should have their pay and pensions cut back. Even during the holidays this attack does not let up.

The blog Big Government takes the “unions caused the snow mess” story to the obvious point, that “lavish” public-employee pensions and benefits must be cut: Union Snow Job Just Glimpse of Coming Blizzard,

With all the political payoffs, scandals, and bailouts, the issue seems as mundane as the figures are mind-boggling, but the bill for lavish public employee pay is coming due in the form of a pension tsunami — or, if you prefer, a blizzard that will have union bosses calling for a bailout.

And, Business Insider, Meet The Hundreds Of NYC Sanitation Workers Who Earn Over $100000,

There are also perks that come with the job. While delaying clean-up for the city, sanitation workers promptly plowed the street in front of Doherty’s Staten Island home, according to the Daily News.

And to make the point as clear as possible, the Examiner’s Beltway Confidential, New York City streets unplowed, but at least sanitation workers retire well,

According to the Manhattan Institute’s “See Through New York” database of 2009 pensions, nearly 180 retired employees make over $66,000 year — in other words, over and above the maximum salary of currently working employees. In fact, 20 retirees make upwards of $90,000 in retirement, up to $132,360.

You will probably be hearing a lot more about this, maybe even Congressional hearings in January. All based on three “unidentified workers” who made the claim. This is how the right’s “noise machine” diverts us from seeing and solving real problems and into voting against our interests.
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Ten Holiday Attacks On Public Employees

This post originally appeared at Campaign for America’s Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture. I am a Fellow with CAF.
If you haven’t already noticed, there is a corporate/conservative campaign underway to convince the public that public employees are living high on the taxpayer’s dime and should have their pay and pensions cut back. Even during the holidays this attack does not let up.
Background: The Reagan Revolution ended most “defined-benefit” (they pay you) pensions for working people in the private sector, replacing them with “defined-contribution” (you pay Wall Street) pensions. Now with the Great Recession employers have cracked down and private-sector workers are afraid and not willing to risk their jobs by speaking out about abuses. With private workers sector out under control, conservatives are targeting public employee pay and pensions. They are driving resentment of government employees by casting them as overpaid and receiving good benefits at a time when everyone else is under the corporate thumb. Private-sector employees have made sacrifices, so now government employees should, too, they say.
When you see this kind of coordinated campaign from the right (and “mainstreamed” by corporate media) you know it is part of a larger strategic plan. The larger plan is to weaken public-employee unions, including teacher’s unions.
Here is how conservatives turn a strategic narrative into “conventional wisdom” through repetition. Phony conservative think tank “studies” show there is a “crisis,” that pensions are “gold-plated,” etc. This campaign claims the crisis is in government employee pension funds. They also claim public employees are very highly paid compared to the private sector. Then they explain how the “average voter” is affected. This time the claim is high state property and income taxes or an impending “crisis” that cold force states to go bankrupt. When specifically attacking teacher’s unions the claim is that schools are not educating kids because teacher unions block reform.
The news stories follow a conservative template almost word-for-word. You will see phrases like: “Lavish” or “luxurious” or “back-breaking” and “gold-plated” government pensions. You’ll hear that “Taxpayers shoulder the burden” of pensions.
For perspective: Congress just passed tax cuts for the rich along with a huge cut in the estate tax, Wall Street bonuses are up, corporate profits are the highest ever, the top 1% are taking home a higher percentage of all income, and sales of luxury items are breaking records.
Here are ten holiday-season media attacks on public employees:
George Will, Don’t let states like California seek federal bailouts on pensions

The nation’s menu of crises caused by governmental malpractice may soon include states coming to Congress as mendicants, seeking relief from the consequences of their choices. …
… under bankruptcy, judges could rewrite union contracts or give states powers to do so, thereby reducing existing pension obligations.

Newsday, Reeling in public workers’ pensions, insurance,

Civil servants have long prized these benefits as the payoff for a career yoked to lower-paying jobs, but their rapidly rising cost has led to growing resentment in an economy that has forced a relentless tide of layoffs and givebacks in the private-sector workforce. Defined-benefit pensions are disappearing from the private sector. Retiree health coverage is almost unheard of. On Long Island, even the average private-sector wage has fallen behind government pay …

Wall Street Journal, Pensions Push Taxes Higher,

Cities across the nation are raising property taxes, largely citing rising pension and health-care costs for their employees and retirees.

Ocean County (NJ) Examiner: Public pensions getting deeper into the red,

While New Jersey can lessen regulatory loads on business, lowering tax rates is difficult as this exacerbates pension deficit problems. The obvious solution is long term and entails lowering government worker pension and benefit packages. … Public sector unions have demonstrated an unwillingness to forego past agreements in the interest of promoting fiscally sound policies.

San Diego Union Tribune: Government pay practices must change,

At a time when there’s rising fury over public employees’ generous pensions, the report used official U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ data to show there’s one more big area where the taxpayer-funded public sector is thriving at a time of private-sector misery.

Here’s why property taxes are soaring …,

The crisis in state pensions is cascading into a property-tax crisis.
Cities across the nation are raising property taxes, largely to cover rising pension and health-care costs for their employees and retirees.

Washington Examiner: America’s public pension crisis has tragic consequences,

The biggest obstacle to preventing what happened in Pritchard from happening nationwide might be the public employees themselves. Public union leaders simply refuse to believe America is out of money.

Milwaukee, Walker, Barrett seek checks on unions

Walker, who has tangled with Milwaukee County unions as county executive, is gearing up for a clash with state workers, seeking wage and benefit cuts and threatening legislation to weaken or eliminate state unions’ bargaining rights if they won’t agree to concessions.

Chicago Sun-Times, ‘Sucking the system dry’,

Jim Tobin, president of National Taxpayers United of Illinois, held a news conference at the St. Charles Public Library to discuss what he called a threat to every Illinois taxpayer.
… Tobin also released names of retired Kane County government employees who are receiving what he called “lavish, gold-plated pensions.”

Snyder to start with attack on public-sector spending,

Private-sector companies and workers have made many sacrifices, he said, “and we all need to share in this. So it’s now the public sector coming into more alignment with what the private sector has already done.”

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A Chart Everyone Should See

Top Marginal Income Tax Rates & Real Economic Growth, a Bar Chart | Angry Bear.
This chart shows how well the economy grew at different top tax rates. It shows that higher top tax rates coincided with higher GDP growth until passing a top rate of 92.5%.
Also see The top marginal income tax rate should be about 65%… where he explains why, but how it could go as high as 75% before any drop-opp in growth.
However, growth does not drop much at all as you go higher, so it makes sense when you have a lot of debt to go to the highest, not the optimal, until the debt is paid down. So we really could go to 85-90% for a while.

Economy Reminder

Interest rates are zero. The Fed is pumping emergency money. Millions are in foreclosure. Wages are falling.
There are bright spots and good signs, finally, but don’t go all crazy and think nothing more needs to be done. Official unemployment is around 10% and people hit in the huge wave of layoffs are hitting the 99-week limit of unemployment checks.

OK, Tax Cuts For The Rich Out Of The Way…

Now for the rest of us

Republican Sen. Tom Coburn says confidence in the country’s economy and currency will be “undermined significantly” in the next several years if the government doesn’t find a way to cut federal spending.
Coburn says all Americans must make sacrifices to secure the country’s fiscal future. He says he could find more than $300 billion a year in spending that could be cut without objection from the American people.


Education For We, The People Or For Private Profit?

This post originally appeared at Campaign for America’s Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture. I am a Fellow with CAF.
In his press conference this week President Obama said the economic focus is no longer saving the economy from crisis, but “jumpstarting” it to make a dent in unemployment. He listed education as one of the pillars of that effort. Later in the press conference he talked about making colleges and universities being open not just to people who are well-to-do, but to all of us.
Progressives For A We, The People Economy
Progressives believe that a We, the People economy works best when we act as a community where “we are all in this together,” and watch out and take care of each other. We mutually benefit from this approach: the better off we all are, the better off we all are. Conservatives, on the other hand, believe we should all be on our own, looking out for only ourselves and our families, and it is up to each of us, alone, to take “personal responsibility” for our own success.
Our differing approaches to education reflect these different philosophies. Progressives believe that education is good for all of us, and should be available to all of us. We believe that the economy does better when more of us can receive a good education, whether this brings a vocational or advanced degree, in a community college or a university. We try to enact policies that make this education affordable for everyone.
Conservatives, on the other hand, believe that “the government” (We, the People) has no business helping people. So they resist providing free public or university education. They call this “socialism.”
And so America’s conflict continues, one side asking for public investment in all of us for the long-term benefit of We, the People while the other side tries to harvest the public good for the short-term benefit of a few.
Compromise With Conservatives
A compromise of sorts has existed in recent decades in which the government helps students get loans, enabling them to go to more expensive schools. But these loans increasingly leave students with a very high debt to pay off after they graduate. In recent years students are graduating with more student loan debt than they can reasonably be expected to pay off.
Result: Increasing Debt
CNBC reports: Student loans leave crushing debt burden

The cost of a college education is rising faster than the cost of medical care and as much as three times as fast as consumer prices in general. But that’s just the beginning of the price of admission. This is the story of a debt crisis few are talking about.
Americans now owe more on their student loans than they do on their credit cards — a debt fast approaching $1 trillion with no end in sight.

Please read the entire CNBC report on the crushing debt load that students are taking on, just to get an education that will help our economy. Here is a clip of the video available at the link:

USA Today reports: Student loan debt exceeds credit card debt in USA,

Total student loan debt exceeds total credit card debt in this country, with $850 billion outstanding, according to Mark Kantrowitz, publisher of and, websites that provide information about student aid and scholarships.
Consumers owe about $828 billion in revolving credit, including credit card debt, according to seasonally adjusted numbers in a report on July credit from the Federal Reserve.

Result: Increasing Defaults
With the increasing debt load and the resulting crushing monthly payments come increasing defaults. From the Dept. of Education, Student Loan Default Rates Increase,

“This data confirms what we already know: that many students are struggling to pay back their student loans during very difficult economic times. That’s why the Administration has expanded programs like income based repayment and Pell grants to help students in financial need,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan.

And, of course, along with the for-profit privatization of what should be a public function, and the compromise of federal help for loans comes the companies profiting from federal dollars.

“The data also tells us that students attending for-profit schools are the most likely to default,” Duncan continued. “While for-profit schools have profited and prospered thanks to federal dollars, some of their students have not. Far too many for-profit schools are saddling students with debt they cannot afford in exchange for degrees and certificates they cannot use. This is a disservice to students and taxpayers, and undermines the valuable work being done by the for-profit education industry as a whole,” Duncan continued.

Result: Increasing Quick-Buck For-Profit Scams
Along with increasing and crushing debt and defaults another problem has cropped up. Just like with the housing bubble, the private predators have arrived to prey on the public. Private schools like Kaplan University are increasingly scamming their students with schemes reminiscent of the worst of the housing bubble, running up loan debt greater than any job they would ever get could pay, even hitting them with excessive fees and outright fraudulent charges. A Huffington Post report of their investigation of Kaplan University, At Kaplan University, ‘Guerilla Registration’ Leaves Students Deep In Debt, exposes Kaplan’s practice of “guerilla registration” in which they register students and charge them tuition for classes they don’t want or take, even in some cases after they have withdrawn from the school. And then they send the debt collectors after them for the money.

Despite having attended only two online sessions, Castillo had remained officially enrolled at Kaplan for nearly a year after her withdrawal.
Far from an aberration, Castillo’s experience typifies the results of a practice known informally inside Kaplan as “guerilla registration”: academic advisors have long enrolled students in classes they never take, without their consent and sometimes even after they have sought to withdraw from the university, in order to maximize the company’s revenues, according to interviews with former employees.

Please read the whole Huffington Post report, there is much, much more there. Kaplan University, by the way, is owned by The Washington Post company.
Speaking of Kaplan, this is also in the news: NY Times, E.E.O.C. Sues Kaplan Over Hiring,

Sending a sharp warning to employers nationwide, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission sued the Kaplan Higher Education Corporation on Tuesday, accusing it of discriminating against black job applicants through the way it uses credit histories in its hiring process.
. . . In the E.E.O.C.’s suit, which was filed in federal district court in Cleveland, the agency said that since at least January 2008, Kaplan had rejected job applicants based on their credit history, with a “significant disparate impact” on blacks.
. . . The E.E.O.C. typically brings discrimination cases only when it is convinced that serious abuse has occurred.

Demos: Student Loans and Student Loan Debt, links to Demos resources and research on this issue.
The Project On Student Debt
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Happy Holidays from the Johnsons

The back of the card reads:
Published by Sudeep Johnson
Doggie Paw Cards Inc.
Many thanks to (from top clockwise) Darwin, Fergie, Paddington & Poppy without whom there would be no card.
Click here for last year’s card, and you can trace back through all the cards over the years.

Corporations Don’t Do Bad Things, People Do!

This post originally appeared at Campaign for America’s Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture. I am a Fellow with CAF.
Are there “good” companies and “bad” companies? No, there are just companies, and companies don’t have moral characteristics any more than a chair does. Here is something to understand about the things companies “do.” If we LET a company “do” something, all companies HAVE TO do it. The misunderstanding of deregulation is that anything that CAN be done WILL be done. Anything.
E. J. Dionne Jr., in Even progressives need CEOs writes that it is,

… important to recognize that there is no single business class or corporate model. Obama doesn’t need to coddle CEOs so they will say warm things about him at parties in the Hamptons. He should figure out which parts of the private sector share an interest in reducing the dreadful inequalities that have metastasized over nearly four decades and in creating an economy that produces well-paying jobs.
[. . .] Government policies, no matter how often we use the words “free enterprise,” through design or inadvertence, inevitably affect the private economy. Why not choose policies that specifically encourage sectors that create good jobs for Americans?

The piece is well-worth reading because it points out that there are plenty of great business leaders who want to help the country address our problems and do better for our people. Mostly we hear today about the worst kind of self-interested, greed-driven business leaders because those seem to be the ones calling the shots for our economy and our political system. This is because we let the them get away with being the worst, so they rise to the top.
We need strong regulations and tough laws so the good CEOs can do the right thing, and still remain competitive.
Corporations Are A Good Idea
Last year in Why I Am Pro-Corporate, I wrote about why corporations are a good thing

The things that the corporate legal structure enables people to do are good for society. This is why We, the People decided to enact the laws that created corporations. If we want to be able to accomplish things on a large scale, like build a railroad or airports and airplanes or skyscrapers – or solar power plants to replace coal power plants – we want to enable people to more easily raise the necessary capital and amass the resources needed to get the job done. The legal structure of the corporate form of a business accomplishes this.

Corporations are just an idea. They are just a bundle of contracts. They don’t do things, people do.
Do Companies “Do”? Do They “Want”?
It is the business leaders, not the companies, who make decisions and want things and do things. Companies are just things that don’t “want” any more than they “do.” They don’t “think.” They don’t “decide.” They don’t “respond.” Sentient entities want and do. It is the people who make decisions want and do things. Companies are not sentient entities any more than chairs are. And how we think about this affects the conclusions we reach.
One reason we apply these characteristics to companies is because they want us to. (“They want.” There I go do it, too.) When the people who do marketing for companies (is that better?) try to make us think about companies this way, it is called “branding.” They try to make us believe that a company is somehow a sentient entity because then we can think they “are good or bad” and therefore form emotional attachments that cause us to be influenced into buying their products. This is really just a manipulation and a distraction but it affects our brains. It is so important to realize that we are dealing with individual people who run companies because then we can think clearly about how to deal with the problems that they cause.
We have to understand the system, and what we are dealing with. We are dealing with people who run companies, not with companies. You can’t be “pro-business” or “anti-business” because business just is. But you can require that people do the right thing.
We Need Very Strong Regulations And Tough Laws
When we complain about Wal-Mart “doing” something we are misunderstanding the system. The people who run Wal-Mart will do what we don’t stop them from doing. They have to. They don’t necessarily want to. (Though some do.) That is what the system is. We set down rules, and they follow the rules. If something is not against a rule, then they don’t just do whatever it is, they have to. And if they do something that is against the rules but we let them get away with it, then they will continue and others will start doing that, too.
Here is why: If Wal-Mart doesn’t then (the executives who run) Target or KMart or another company will, and then Target or KMart will have a competitive advantage, and after a while we’ll all be complaining about Target or KMart instead because Wal-Mart won’t be in the picture. They have to do everything we let them do. That is how the system works, and that is why we have to have strong regulations and tough law.
Instead of complaining about the things the business leaders do, we have to make strong regulations and tough laws to stop them and we have to enforce them. Period. We, the People have to use government “interference” and use force and that is our job and our responsibility to each other and to all of the business leaders who want to do the right thing.
It Is Not Fair To The Good, Responsible Leaders Not To
Let’s say you are running Wal-Mart and you want to pay people more and want to provide good benefits. But the law does not require you to. If you do these things anyway, and your competitor doesn’t, you are putting your company at a disadvantage, and you are risking the livelihood of everyone in the company. Think about the conflict and pressure that creates in good people who want to do good things. They can’t do good things unless we make all the businesses do good things.
Companies are forced by competitive pressure to do the things other companies do, whether they “want” to or not. There isn’t really a middle ground. Our system of competition forces companies to do everything they can get away with, and they will do that, and the only thing that will stop them is We, the People actually stopping them.
So don’t complain about things companies are doing, and certainly don’t blame the companies. What do you have to do is change the rules. It just isn’t fair to good people who want to do good things to do anything else. We have been letting good people down by listening to and doing the bidding of the likes of the Chamber of Commerce and the others who are fronts for the worst among the business community, who are working to corrupt our business environment and our politics.
Most Business Leaders Are Good People
Almost all corporate leaders are good, responsible and well-intentioned. For this reason they want and need clear rules that let them operate their companies responsibly. This is why listening to the greedheads who are always complaining about government and regulations is such a mistake. Most business leaders want to do the right thing and good, strong regulations and laws that are enforced let them do that. The deregulation and lack of enforcement that we see all around us today forces them to do wrong things in the name of staying competitive.
When you initially deregulate, good corporate leaders will try to be responsible and they will have every intent of doing so. They will live up to their promises. But along will come other corporate leaders who just want to make money for their companies,and more to the point, for themselves. They will do whatever we let them do to accomplish that. They will push up to and a bit beyond the exact wording of what they think they can get away with. The “good” CEOs will be at a disadvantage and will be forced to do the same.
Clear And Strong Regulations
When I ran a company I had a rule for agreements – get everything on paper and signed because the people talking about things today on both sides might get in a car wreck, or move to another company or forget or whatever and all that is left is the agreement and not the intent of the agreement. Similarly, we need to clearly lay out every little part of what can and cannot be done because that is what people will do in the end.
Business leaders want and need a clear playing field with rules that are strong enough to enable them to do the right thing and remain competitive. Let’s help them out.
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Blaming The Economy’s Victims For Economic Crimes

This post originally appeared at Campaign for America’s Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture. I am a Fellow with CAF.
Blame the unions, blame the unemployed, blame loans to the poor, blame the government… As income and wealth increasingly go to a few at the top public anger is directed at the economy’s victims.
I am in a clinic all day participating in a medical study, so I was talking to one of the nurses. She brought up that California is in real trouble, is going broke, it’s a real mess. She says she doesn’t know what we’re going to do. She has heard that, “lots of states are going bankrupt. There is no money anymore.”
So I asked her what we should do about it.
She said it is because of the unions. “It’s just ridiculous. They want so much.”
I asked if she follows the news closely, she said she does. “I watch the news a lot.”
Some facts: California is famous for leading the country in a wave of anti-government tax-cutting and into Reaganism. We cut taxes an an anti-government ferver and increased prison spending in a law-and-order fever. Then the federal government cut taxes and increased military spending, leading to big deficits. Now we’re out of money to run the state government and the country is getting there, too. California’s problems have little or nothing to do with what state employees are paid, and a lot to do with tax cuts and people across the state not getting paid enough.
Blaming The Unions
This weekend CBS’ 60 Minutes joined the anti-worker chorus, blaming public employee unions for the problems faced by the states. Media Matters, in 60 Minutes’ one-sided, GOP-friendly report on state budgets describes the segment,

In 2,600 words about state deficits, you won’t find the phrase “tax cuts.” Instead, CBS adopts the Republican framing that deficits are all about spending — frequently with loaded phrasing like “gold-plated retirement and health care packages.” And throughout the report, CBS allows Christie, New Jersey’s Republican governor, to launch attacks on unions and make unsupported claims about budget problems, all without ever challenging his assertions and without including substantive disagreement from Christie critics.
You’d never know from CBS’ report that a big part of the reason that “Christie and his predecessors” failed to make required contributions to the pension fund is that they decided to use the money for tax cuts instead. [emphasis added]

Mike Hall at the AFL-CIO blog explains that New Jersey’s workers and pensions are not the problem,

While politicians like Christie rail against the pensions public employees have secured through collective bargaining—painting them as overly generous golden parachutes, McEntee notes the average annual pension for an AFSCME member is $19,000, and the workers contribute 80 percent during their lifetime on the job.

Tax cuts, income and wealth going to a few at the top, but the unions take the blame because they fight for a better life for working people.
Blaming The Unemployed
The unemployed and the checks they get are often blamed for their plight. They are called “lazy,” and it is even suggested the be tested for drugs. CAF graduate David Sirota, in Why the ‘Lazy Jobless’ Myth Persists

The thesis undergirding all the rhetoric was summed up by conservative commentator Ben Stein, who insisted that “the people who have been laid off and cannot find work are generally people with poor work habits and poor personalities.”
[. . .] The trouble, though, is that the whole narrative averts our focus from the job-killing trade, tax-cut and budget policies that are really responsible for destroying the economy. And this narrative, mind you, is not some run-of-the-mill distraction. The myth of the lazy unemployed is what duck-and-cover exercises and backyard nuclear shelters were to a past era—an alluring palliative that manufactures false comfort in the face of unthinkable disaster.

Blaming The Poor And Government
Republicans on the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission are sabotaging the commission’s work, demanding that “Wall Street” and “deregulation” not appear anywhere in the report. They are refusing to participate, instead releasing a counter-report blaming the government, claiming We, the People forced the giant banks to give home loans to the poor, and blaming the poor for receiving those loans.
What People Think
People tend to think about what is put in front of them to think about. That’s why everyone goes to see a new movie on the first weekend instead of waiting until they can get good seats with no lines. Wall Street and the likes of the Chamber of Commerce understand this so they put scapegoats in front of the public to mask what they are doing. Right now there is a corporate/right campaign to blame working people for the problems they caused.
Like 60 Minutes this weekend, the news sources are run by big corporations, and they have been saying over and over (and over and over) that unions and the unemployed and the poor and the government are the cause of the problems. (When was the last time you saw a union representative on TV, explaining the benefits of joining a union?) And, naturally, after hearing these things over and over (and over and over), viewers like the nurse at the clinic I am in think they should blame the unions, the unemployed, the poor, the government, too.
So much of the income and wealth are concentrating at the top. Taxes have been cut so far. The things our government does for us have been cut back so far. Working people’s wages have been stagnant for so long.
But the blame right now is directed at the unions, the poor, the unemployed and our government: We, the People.
As the AFL-CIO blog concludes,

The long term solution to state and local fiscal challenges … is “a robust economy, one that is creating jobs and replenishing tax revenue.”

To repeat: The long term solution to state and local fiscal challenges … is “a robust economy, one that is creating jobs and replenishing tax revenue.”
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