51 years ago, before anybody heard of Newt Gingrich, Ronald Reagan, or supply-side economics -- the ultimate Democrat -- U. S. Senator Harry S. Truman from Missouri, voiced his opinion about laissez faire capitalism: "Of course I believe in free enterprise, but in my system of free enterprise, the democratic principle is that there never was, never has been, never will be, room for the ruthless exploitation of the many for the benefit of the few."
Anyone making the same comment today would be accused of "envy" and engaging in "class warfare." The fact is we have had class warefare since 1981. (The middle class and poor lost.)
Fat with power and pork, the wealthy elitists who control the Republican Party are having a picnic this hot summer of 1995. At the direction of lobbyists for the meat packing industry and pharmaceutical companies, Senate Republican Majority leader Bob Dole of Kansas is suppporting legislation restricting the ability of the federal government to inspect meat and drugs.
Senator Dole's approach would make each individual consumer responsible for determining the cleanliness of the meat they buy at the local market, and the purity of the drugs and medications purchased from their local drug store. His stated reasons? Ridding business of unnecessary and burdensome regulations.
Boeing Corporation's new 777 airliner is a technological and commercial success. Celebrating the breakthrough, Boeing fired 5,000 workers. Continuing a decade-old pattern, IBM fired thousands of employees, cut the salaries of headquarter secretaries up to 36%, and gave their CEO a $2.6 million bonus.
Exploiting workers is not just the perogative of corporate giants. Smaller firms have learned how easy it is to create additional profits by overworking underpaid workers, particularly in a job market overflowing with the under-employed and unemployed. In Seattle, Washington, a regional business helped finance a contractual agreement with a national outfit by cutting the pay of their primary workers.
(Local newspapers and magazines wrote laudatory articles on the merger, without ever mentioning the pay cut.)
At the direction of timber industry lobbyists, Slade Gorden, U. S. Senator from Washington state, has been working to gut regulations protecting federal lands. According to Gorton, his primary concern is not corporate profits, but jobs.
The old Nixon man, C. Boyden Gray -- representing the chemical and petroleum industry -- is quietly lobbying Congress to eliminate the current federal mandate requiring companies that produce pollutants to publish their toxins release inventory.
Even the chemical industry concedes that there has been a significant decrease in released pollutants since they were forced to publish that information. However -- when the ruling party of the federal legislature is on the payroll, it is no-contest when public health is pitted against corporate profits. (Please note, these depredations are not exclusively Republican. A number of petroleum state Democrats are involved.)
Regardless of the issue, if a majority of conservatives suport it, you can bet the family farm it will put bucks in the pockets of the wealthy and powerful at the expense of everybody else. The tax cuts proposed by Newt Gingrich's House Republicans, not only delay dealing with the deficit, but overwhelmingly favor upper-income tax earners, offering only token table scraps for the rest of the population.
Education vouchers supported by most conservatives act as a tax rebate for those parents who can afford to send their children to private schools, while dispensing minimal benefits to the middle class, the poor, and public education, generally.
(At this point we can expect to hear the screams of wealthy elitists who tell us that the top 20% pay approximately 40% of the taxes. And they are absolutely right. What they usually neglect to mention is that the 20% makes 80% of the income.
This piece started with Harry Truman. Lets close with Thomas Jefferson on the same subject: "Men by their constitutions are naturally divided into two parties: 1. Those who fear and distrust the people and wish to draw all powers from them into the hands of the higher classes. 2. Those who identify themselves with the people, have confidence in them, cherish and consider them as the most honest and safe, although not the most wise depository of the public interests.
In every country these two parties exist, and in every one where they are free to think, speak and write, they will declare themselves. Call them, therefore, liberals and serviles, Jobins and Ultras, whigs and tories, republicans and federalists, aristrocrats and democrats, or by whatever name you please, they are the same parties still, and pursue the same object. The last appelation of aristrocrats and democrats is the true one expressing the essence of all" Amen Tom.
Reprinted with permission from J. R. (Jim) Joelson and the Northwest Prime Time Journal.
Even hotter rhetoric: We the People (former governor Jerry Brown) (external link)