Monday, July 16, 2012

Who Plunders the Middle Class in Illinois?


"[Many] corporations are not concerned with the common good. They exploit, pollute, impoverish, repress, kill, and lie to make money. They throw poor families out of homes, let the uninsured die, wage useless wars to make profits, poison and pollute the ecosystem, slash social assistance programs, gut public education [and public and private employees’ pensions], trash the global economy, and crush all popular movements that seek justice for working men and women. They worship only money and power… And so, even as Wall Street steals billions of taxpayer dollars…, we do not know what to do or say. We decry the excesses of capitalism without demanding a dismantling of the corporate state…" (Chris Hedges, The World As It Is, Dispatches on the Myth of Human Progress 105-6).  

In Illinois, the rich and the poor are taxed at the same flat rate, despite creating a vast inequity. The concentration of wealth through unregulated corporate profit-taking for the wealthy few and the shifting of debts being proposed as part of pension reform are at the expense of middle-class public employees and other citizens. Pension reform is an attempt to bargain away the public employees’ rights to earn a decent income, their defined-benefit pension, and their dignity and self-respect.

In Illinois, the attempt to bust the public sector unions, to create a divide among their membership, to decrease the public employees' Cost-of-Living Adjustment in exchange for "access" to precarious health-care benefits, to increase employees’ contributions and their retirement age, and to shift the burden of the state’s pension costs to school districts and, thus, property owners is an exploitation of public employees.

"Cutting benefits by raising the retirement age or reducing cost-of-living increases is no solution... That should be obvious, but there are plenty of snake-oil-selling politicians who want to do just that. There is only one way to avoid benefit cuts, and that is by raising more revenue” (Economic Policy Institute, April 2012). 

When certain Illinois politicians wield power to impoverish some people by destroying their benefits and rights; when the Civic Committee of the Commercial Club of Chicago and the Civic Federation’s money not only influences the General Assembly’s decision-making policies but generates and perpetuates falsehoods and economic inequality, the people’s trust in the legitimacy of the Illinois state government degenerates into profound skepticism and resentment.

Without a doubt, corporatists are prosperous in Illinois. The Illinois General Assembly guarantees their affluence and will continue to do so. Our submission to corporatists’ corruption, extortion and oppression and our assent to the General Assembly's shameless hypocrisy, protection and perpetuation of wealthy powerful interests must be addressed.

"[Furthermore,] unions, organizations formerly steeped in the doctrine of class struggle and filled with those who sought broad social and political rights for the working class, have been transformed into domesticated partners of the capitalist class. They have been reduced to simple bartering tools. The social demands of unions early in the twentieth century that gave the working class weekends off, the right to strike, the eight-hour day, and Social Security have been abandoned” (Chris Hedges 106).  This accession also needs our urgent attention.


1 comment:

  1. This is the core issue. The only item not mentioned is legalized corruption. The Madigan Foundation is legal. ALEC is legal. What the Civic Committee of the Commercial Club of Chicago does with its money is legal. The list goes on and on.
    Your conclusion perfectly states the situation. "The 97th Illinois General Assembly guarantees their affluence and will continue to do so, especially during this election year. Our submission to corporatists’ corruption, extortion and oppression and our compliance to the General Assembly's shameless hypocrisy, protection and perpetuation of wealthy powerful interests must be addressed."
    Or, to state it in one word - Plutocracy.
    To read of plutocracy during the recent past is one thing. To live plutocracy today is pain.
    Ken

    ReplyDelete