It’s pretty obvious to everyone working for a living that the cost of living is exceeding their paycheck(s). People are working harder, generally at more than one job, than ever before and to what end? Will they really be able to save enough to retire or will they simply just fall down dead on the job one day like an Egyptian slave working on the Pyramids?
It causes one to wonder just what is the plan. A recent New York Times article mentioned how people who have tried to save for retirement have had to dip into their savings to try to make ends meet.
How can this country remain strong when working people; i.e., the middle class, can’t work hard enough to ever enjoy the fruits of their labor? People know that no matter how hard they work; no matter how many jobs they have, that when the time comes they can no longer keep up the pace, they just don’t have enough money to retire. Even with two people in the house working it may not be enough.
Some of you may say that all people have to do is to live within their means and they’ll be fine. That may be true in some cases, but is it the norm today? Meanwhile, we have executives and sports figures making more money than ever before. They were pulling down millions, but now that’s not enough. No, now we’re in a time when CEOs and celebrities need to pull down tens of millions. A few million just doesn’t cut it anymore.
Whose idea was this? Who was behind the morphing of American corporations from institutions that strived to take care of their workers to entities that use people like toilet paper; used once and thrown away.
Are we truly going to be better off as a nation with tens of millions of people wandering around looking for something; anything to do? Is this country going to be well served if we deprive people of opportunities along with their savings and turn this place into a land of impoverished, people who can’t afford to live at all off what few bucks they’ve been able to amass?
Perhaps a place to look would be The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). The name sounds innocuous enough, but dig just a little and you’ll discover that this organization, which was around when I served in the Vermont House back in the early ‘80s, is a front for the agenda of corporate America. Do you think those funding this organization have the best interest of the American worker in mind?
Who funds this organization and why? One name that pops up frequently is Koch; as in the Koch brothers who spend enormous sums of money trying to influence the political process and impose their policies and will on the American public. Looking at the 2009 funding for ALEC you will see that a paltry 2 percent; or roughly $80,000, comes from its members.
The remaining 98 percent; or $6 million, came from tax deductible, corporate contributions. There are other corporations beside Koch Industries that give to this political organization, but arguably Koch Industries, along with the Koch brothers individually, as well as their kids, are the mainstay of ALEC.
It is estimated that the Koch brothers, David and Charles worth is around $34 billion; each. One would think that once you amassed a fortune of around one billion or so that you might kick back, go to the beach, play with the grandkids and enjoy life a little. Not so with this family. It’s no longer about making more money. Life for these people is about hijacking the country and imposing their beliefs onto the rest of us.
And what are those beliefs? Take a look at ALEC’s agenda and it will become clear. They work to strip funding for public education and funnel it into private schools. They are opposed to healthcare for citizens. If ALEC has their way (and they may very well in many states) we would abolish Medicare and Social Security. They oppose what they have labeled as "entitlement programs" even though you own Social Security.
One of ALEC’s oldest and most consistently pursued causes has been the dismantlement of public-employee pension systems. You might remember this system. Once there was a time when you went to work for a company; dedicated your entire life to the company and when you retired the company took care of you through a company pension. Those days are gone except for some public entities, which ALEC is working to destroy. You’re expected to live on whatever it is you can save and Social Security.
You see what’s happening here? Your safety net is undermined while simultaneously you lose your pension. What’s the end game? Presumably people like the Kochs want a country of people so thoroughly impoverished that they have no other choice than to work for a pittance, which translates into even cheaper labor so these guys can make even more money.
If you like this agenda you need only to remain seated.
Bob Stannard is a Banner columnist.