FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

It’s Still Class Warfare

by DAVID MACARAY

It’s an old joke, but it bears repeating: An Oxford professor meets a former student on the street. He asks what he’s been up to lately. The student tells him he’s working on a doctoral thesis about the survival of the class system in the United States. The professor expresses surprise. “I didn’t think there was a class system in the United States,” he says. “Nobody does,” the student replies. “That’s how it survives.”

The growing chasm between the so-called middle-class and the rich, coupled with the on-going, systematic assault on organized labor, isn’t simply the result of some unfortunate decisions. Rather, it’s evidence of a well-oiled drive, led by Wall Street and its minions, to separate and segregate the working class from the rest of the economy. It’s class warfare, plain and simple, fought the way our “real” wars are now fought—heavily muscled and sanitized.

Because there’s no opposition (not the Congress, or the Church, or organized labor, or citizen groups), the timing couldn’t be more perfect. The rich and powerful are actively seizing all they can get, and they’re doing it boldly, audaciously, in broad daylight, in front of our eyes, making it reminiscent of those frontier land-grabs where they took everything they wanted, knowing no one could stop them.

So what can we do about it? Vote for progressives and hope for the best? Write to our congressmen? Write to the president?

Actually, we can write the president. Not that anything meaningful will result from it, but it’s easy to do. Anyone interested in getting an opinion heard, getting a gripe off their chest, presenting a personal manifesto, or simply hurling insults at the Oval Office can write to President Obama at this address: http://www.whitehouse.gov/contact/

It might take a month or two, but unless you’ve issued a death threat or written a particularly vulgar letter, you’ll get a response. Of course, it won’t be President Obama who writes you. Indeed, it’s unlikely he’ll even read your letter. Rather, it will a nameless and faceless intern assigned to mail duty who writes back.

Six or seven weeks ago I wrote the president, grousing about how pitifully little he’s done for working people. Beginning with his abandonment of the EFCA (Employee Free Choice Act, which would’ve made card-check the law of the land), and his appointment of his old Chicago crony, that anti-union shill Arne Duncan, as Secretary of Education, I lamented the fact that he has been a profound disappointment.

Because this was my first letter to the president, and because I had no idea how it would play out, I was more interested in testing the water than in overwhelming the man with a long list of grievances, or coming off as wildly aggressive. After all, isn’t that Ted Cruz’s job?

Accordingly, I avoided ideology. There was no mention of class distinctions, class warfare, class protests, dialectics, or the Democrats’ betrayal of the American worker. Instead, I politely expressed my surprise at his reluctance to use the bully pulpit to promote the virtues of organized labor, and very gingerly accused him of being either insincere or gutless when it came to supporting unions.

The following is his (his intern’s) response, filled with enough platitudes, weasel words, and assorted bullshit to give politicians a bad name. Had he (his intern) said, “Before you start bitching, fella, try dealing with a Congress whose sole goal is to see you fail,” I would’ve respected him. But instead, I got platitudes. And call me nitpicky, but I objected to his (his intern’s) use of the upper case in the word “Nation.”

Dear David:

Thank you for writing.  I have heard from many Americans about the concerns of working men and women, and I appreciate your perspective.

Since our Nation’s founding, we have relied on the firm resolve and commitment of working Americans.  These men and women are the backbone of our communities and power the engine of our economy.

Workers have not always possessed the same rights and benefits many enjoy today.  But throughout our history, hardworking individuals have joined together to exercise their right to a voice in the workplace.  Through these efforts, the labor movement has improved the lives of countless working Americans and their families by representing their views and advocating for better wages and safe, fair working conditions.  Over time, this work has helped lay the cornerstones of middle-class security—the 40-hour workweek and weekends, paid leave and pensions, the minimum wage and health insurance, and Social Security and Medicare.  As we support the groundbreaking contributions of the American workers who have built our country and brightened our tomorrow, we must continue to protect the role and rights of workers in our national life, including their right to collective bargaining.

Every day, hard-working men and women across America prove that, even in difficult times, our Nation is still home to the most innovative, dynamic, and talented workers in the world.  Generations of working people have built our Nation—from our highways and skylines to the goods and services driving us in the 21st century.  My Administration remains committed to supporting their efforts in moving our economy forward.

Thank you, again, for writing.  I encourage you to read more about my Administration’s approach to this complex issue and other critical matters at www.WhiteHouse.gov.

Sincerely,

Barack Obama

David Macaray, an LA playwright and author (“It’s Never Been Easy:  Essays on Modern Labor,” 2nd edition), is a former union rep. 

David Macaray is a playwright and author. His newest book is “Nightshift: 270 Factory Stories.” He can be reached at dmacaray@gmail.com

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

Weekend Edition
August 26, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Andrew Levine
How Donald Trump Can Still be a Hero: Force the Guardians to the Duopoly to Open Up the Debates
Rob Urie
Crisis and Opportunity
Louisa Willcox
The Unbearable Killing of Yellowstone’s Grizzlies: 2015 Shatters Records for Bear Deaths
Charles Pierson
Wedding Crashers Who Kill
Richard Moser
What is the Inside/Outside Strategy?
Dirk Bezemer – Michael Hudson
Finance is Not the Economy
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Bernie’s Used Cars
Margaret Kimberley
Hillary and Colin: the War Criminal Charade
Patrick Cockburn
Turkey’s Foray into Syria: a Gamble in a Very Dangerous Game
Ishmael Reed
Birther Tries to Flim Flam Blacks  
Brian Terrell
What Makes a Hate Group?
Howard Lisnoff
Trouble in Political Paradise
Terry Tempest Williams
Will Our National Parks Survive the Next 100 Years?
Ben Debney
The Swimsuit that Overthrew the State
Ashley Smith
Anti-imperialism and the Syrian Revolution
Vincent Navarro
Is the Nation State and Its Welfare State Dead? a Critique of Varoufakis
John Wight
Syria’s Kurds and the Wages of Treachery
Lawrence Davidson
The New Anti-Semitism: the Case of Joy Karega
Mateo Pimentel
The Affordable Care Act: A Litmus Test for American Capitalism?
Roger Annis
In Northern Syria, Turkey Opens New Front in its War Against the Kurds
David Swanson
ABC Shifts Blame from US Wars to Doctors Without Borders
Norman Pollack
American Exceptionalism: A Pernicious Doctrine
Ralph Nader
Readers Think, Thinkers Read
Julia Morris
The Mythologies of the Nauruan Refugee Nation
Ann Garrison
Unworthy Victims: Houthis and Hutus
Julian Vigo
Britain’s Slavery Legacy
Rivera Sun
Accountability: An Abandoned American Value
John Stanton
Brzezinski Vision for a Power Sharing World Stymied by Ignorant Americans Leaders, Citizens
Philip Doe
Colorado: 300 Days of Sunshine Annually, Yet There’s No Sunny Side of the Street
Joseph White
Homage to EP Thompson
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
DNC Playing Dirty Tricks on WikiLeaks
Ron Jacobs
Education for Liberation
Jim Smith
Socialism Revived: In Spite of Bernie, Donald and Hillary
Robert Koehler
The Heart of Order
David Macaray
Organized Labor’s Inferiority Complex
David Cortright
Alternatives to Military Intervention in Syria
Binoy Kampmark
The Terrors of Free Speech: Australia’s Racial Discrimination Act
Cesar Chelala
Guantánamo’s Quagmire
Nyla Ali Khan
Hoping Against Hope in Kashmir
Andrew Stewart
Did Gore Throw the 2000 Election?
William Hughes
From Sam Spade to the Red Scare: Dashiell Hammett’s War Against Rightwing Creeps
Raouf Halaby
Dear Barack Obama, Please Keep it at 3 for 3
Charles R. Larson
Review: Paulina Chiziane’s “The First Wife: a Tale of Polygamy”
David Yearsley
The Widow Bach: the Rediscovery of Anna Magdalena
August 25, 2016
Mike Whitney
The Broken Chessboard: Brzezinski Gives Up on Empire
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail