Child Labor

“We Must Take Our Government Back!”—To What, May We Ask?

Carly Fiorina said it last night in the GOP debate; Donald Trump has said it; so has a multitude of others in the Republican Party debates so far—“We must take our government back!”

Back to what, is the question!

Back to a time when women were “dutiful” housewives who stayed home, avoided education and employment, and were totally dependent upon their husbands?

Back to a time when “Negroes” were segregated by law and custom and “knew” their place not to complain?

Back to a time when “Negroes” were lynched at will and no one seemed to notice?

Back to a time when gays and lesbians were openly discriminated against in all areas of life without any protection or support of their rights?

Back to a time when child labor existed as young as six years old, and they and poor women who worked were paid far less than men?

Back to a time when there was no Social Security system for the elderly and disabled?

Back to a time when immigrants were barred from coming to America if they were Jewish or Catholic or Asian in origin?

Back to a time when labor unions did not exist, and work places were totally unsafe, and there was no workers compensation for injuries at work?

Back to a time when corporations “raped” and pillaged the environment for their own selfish purposes?

The list could go on and on, and who would “love” if all this was to return, from the 1950s, 1920s, and the “Gilded Age” of the late 19th century?

Conservatives who have fought against and resisted all of these changes and reforms brought about by progressives such as Theodore Roosevelt; Progressive Era reformers at all levels;  Franklin D. Roosevelt and his New Deal coalition; Harry Truman; John F, Kennedy; Lyndon B. Johnson; 1960s reformers at all levels; Jimmy Carter; Bill Clinton; Barack Obama; and the constant battle of modern progressives and liberals to protect and expand all of the great political, social and economic reforms of the 20th century, hard fought, and the battle goes on in 2015!

 

Labor Day: A Day To Recall Labor Unions And What They Have Done For America’s Workers

Today is Labor Day, and it is too often a day ignored for its true meaning, the celebration of American workers and the labor unions which brought about the middle class in America, now under direct attack and threat.

It was the hard work of labor unions and workers that brought about the reforms we accept as normal today, including wages and hours laws, the minimum wage, the end of child labor, promotion of equal pay for equal work, occupational safety laws, and the expansion of basic worker benefits, such as health care, sick leave, vacation time, and pension benefits for millions.

But in the age of corporate greed and concentration, the second Gilded Age that we are in since the Ronald Reagan Presidency, we have seen the rapid decline of labor rights and of union power, and many ignorant Americans actually believe somehow that this is all to the good.  People applaud the anti union record of the Republican Party, which has been consistent for a century, and some think the war on public union rights by Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker is to be applauded, when it is an outrage!

Many people do not seem to realize that their basic worker rights have been curbed dramatically, and then wonder what can be done about it, and the answer is to work to promote union rights, and stop seeing unions as somehow a negative, simply because of some examples in the past of union corruption.

Yes, there have been union violations at times, but nowhere near the corporate violations of the public trust, and the way to expand labor rights is to support union expansion to combat the power of the corporations that have too much power over the American economy!

What The Midterm Elections Will Tell Us About America And Its Future!

We are now three days away from the Midterm Elections of 2014, and any political junkie is, by this time, worn out, and sick and disgusted at the constantly changing public opinion polls and the projections on Governorship and Senate races.

America has a choice to make, whether to move forward, and have a compassion and concern about those less fortunate, those who have been subjected to discrimination, those who simply want acceptance and respect, those who want a piece of the “American Dream”, and those who want to restore the middle class, which reached its peak in 1973, and has been in rapid decline since then.

If the Democrats lose the Senate and fail to throw out most of the seven Tea Party Governors who have been a nightmare to their states, then we have become, without any doubt, a nation moving toward the Gilded Age of the late 19th century, an American where racial minorities and immigrants were mistreated in horrible ways, women were second class citizens, and there was a monopoly of wealth and power by the elite wealthy over society, including exploitation of working people not treated with respect, and promotion of lower pay for women, exploitation of child labor, and the wholesale perpetrating of long lasting degradation of the environment.

It will also demonstrate that lack of knowledge, lack of education, lack of common sense, lack of caring about anyone other than oneself and close family and friends, leads to a reactionary society where there are no values other than greed and selfishness, and yet the victims in the long run are not just “others”, but these ignorant people who vote against their own advancement and welfare!

It is normal for a midterm election to promote some losses for the party in the White House, but to give the Republican Party massive rewards for obstruction, narrow mindedness, refusal to do what is good for the nation, and the promotion of pure hate, would be a sign of the failure of American democracy.

It would tell us that the goal is to confuse and divide the nation, while a small elite enriches itself and promotes wholesale destruction of the 20th century–including the New Deal and Great Society!

It would tell us that having provided millions with health care who never had it; has lowered the unemployment rate to the lowest since the Great Recession; has seen the stock market more than double; has eliminated Osama Bin Laden from the earth; has seen gasoline prices lower than in the past four years; has seen the deficit lowered by two thirds; has provided a Consumer Financial Protection Bureau; and has done so much to make lives better in many other ways, has failed to convince Democratic and Independent voters that it is worthwhile to fight for what they believe in, rather than just sit home and let the enemy of all this take over, all based on lies and talk radio and Fox News propaganda!

If the Democrats lose, a lot of the blame will be on Democratic office holders unwilling to defend the record they have achieved and to defend Barack Obama, and instead to allow fear and panic and anarchy and hate and prejudice take over the American psyche, and allow a party with no ideas and no ethics or morality to govern us, and take us down hill as they have done so often in the past!

Labor Day: Too Many Americans Do Not Realize How Much Labor Unions Have Done!

We are living in a time of labor union decline, and attacks on organized labor itself, beginning with the Presidency of Ronald Reagan!

Too many people have no idea or regard for the importance of labor unions in American history, and the struggle for decent working conditions in our nation!

Without the labor struggles of the past, we would not have:

Minimum Wage and Maximum Hours
Eight Hour Work Day
Five Day Work Week
End of Child Labor
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration
Sick Leave
Vacation Pay
Paid Holidays
Right of Labor to Organize and Bargain Collectively
Progress toward Equal Pay for Women
Retirement Pensions and Health Care Coverage

There has been backtracking and attacks on organized labor by Republicans on the national and state level, and particularly in the South, labor continues to be under strong attack, as it has always been.

But to imagine an America where workers have no rights is, sadly, much of what American workers see today, including a new revelation—wage theft becoming a problem for millions of workers being exploited by their employers.

So those who fight for labor rights, led by Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, need the support of all of us, even if we are not members of organized labor unions. Too much is at stake to remain silent!

Evaluating Woodrow Wilson A Century After His Election To The Presidency, And On His 156th Birthday Commemoration!

Woodrow Wilson, our 28th President, was born on this day in 1856, and was elected President in the four way race of 1912, running against Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, and Eugene Debs, arguably the most exciting Presidential election in American History.

The President with the least government experience, only two years as Governor of New Jersey; the only earned PH. D. to become President; the first President elected who grew up in the South (Virginia) since the Civil War; the President to face the greatest war crisis since Abraham Lincoln; the President who emphasized the importance of international affairs and the need for an international organization to promote peace; the President who was the culmination of the Progressive reform movements of the early 20th century; and the President who promoted successfully his domestic agenda, and then took on Theodore Roosevelt’s even more advanced progressive ideas and made them his own—this President has also been bitterly attacked by many for his shortcomings in many areas, and particularly has been viciously attacked by right wing conservatives, including Glenn Beck and George Will, who have torn his image to shreds.

Well, the question is whether the attacks on Wilson are fair and just, so that requires a careful examination of the positive and negative aspects of his Presidency.

Let’s start with the negative points that can be made about Wilson, and they are plenty!

1. Wilson was a white supremacist, despite his stellar education, and failed to treat people of African, Asian, and Latin American heritage in a dignified way, whether in the nation or with foreign nations overseas. His treatment of China, Japan, Mexico, Haiti and governments of other nations outside of Europe were treated in an insensitive and unacceptable manner, and he issued an executive order mandating segregation of the races in Washington, DC, and failed to recognize the contributions of soldiers of other than the Caucasian race during World War I. He legitimized and set back mistreatment of African Americans for another thirty years, until progress was made by President Harry Truman after World War II.

2. Wilson, inexplicably, opposed the woman suffrage movement, and had suffragettes arrested for disturbing the peace in their marches on Pennsylvania Avenue near the White House. Theodore Roosevelt had proposed this constitutional change in his 1912 Progressive Party campaign, but Wilson never moved in that direction on his own. Despite his opposition, the 19th Amendment was added at the end of his term in 1920.

3. Wilson had a horrible record on civil liberties in wartime, promoting passage of the Espionage Act, Sedition Act, and numerous other laws violating freedom of speech and press. He displayed total intolerance toward critics, once America was at war, and is regarded as one of the absolutely worst Presidents on the subject of civil liberties overall for his eight years in office.

4. Wilson was intolerant of opposition in Congress, refusing to work with Republicans when events worked against him, and tended to see things in religious terms, with him having God behind him, and often invoking religion in his speeches and comments. So he was seen as manipulative and deceitful in his actions and words that took us to ultimate war in 1917, and refused to negotiate on the Versailles Treaty after the war.

5. Wilson had a supreme, and self righteous ego, and this made him blind to reality much of the time, as when he had a severe paralytic stroke, but refused, along with his second wife, to keep Vice President Thomas Marshall informed, or to consider resigning in 1919-1921 so that the nation would have a President capable of leading the nation in the difficult post war days, when Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer led the Red Scare or Palmer Raids, another massive violation of civil liberties, which helped to spur the creation of the Civil Liberties Union in 1920. The nation was basically leaderless for a period of 18 months, as Wilson slowly recovered and even thought of running for an unprecedented third term despite his poor health.

Now to the positive side of Woodrow Wilson!

1. Wilson was the most successful President in domestic policy achievements up to his time in office, and only surpassed later by Franklin D. Roosevelt in the 1930s and Lyndon B. Johnson in the 1960s. He accomplished all of his original domestic agenda, including legislation that has stood the test of time, despite criticism by conservatives and Republicans over the years, including the Federal Reserve Act, the Federal Trade Commission Act, and the Clayton Anti Trust Act, as well as the first attempt at so called “free trade”, the lowering of tariff walls on foreign goods.

2. Wilson also accomplished the passage of laws originally promoted by Theodore Roosevelt in 1912, including the temporary end of child labor, protection for some workers on hours, workers compensation, and the protection of the merchant marine workers who are employed on ships offshore. Also, the first real attempt at agricultural aid to farmers to encourage expansion of acreage and the buying of new equipment, was also an idea promoted by TR. Basically, Wilson adopted much of the Populist Party and Progressive Party agenda of earlier times, and brought Progressive reform to its peak in the period before the conservative 1920s.

3. Wilson dealt with a war that was the most massive for America in 50 years, and was skilled enough to keep America out of war for two years and eight months after World War I began in Europe, but his role in the eventual entrance of America is still highly disputed even today, seen by some as dishonest and deceptive, but praised by many others as the best one could have expected.

4. Wilson had a vision of a peaceful post war world, and saw an international organization, the League of Nations, as the most important accomplishment of the Treaty of Versailles, and was stunned by the rejection of the US Senate to any international commitment, with America going into isolation. But his vision came to fruition a generation after his passing, with the establishment of the United Nations, but with many conservatives and Republicans bitterly opposed today in the US involvement in that international organization.

5. Wilson comes across, despite his many faults and shortcomings as worthy, in the minds of most experts, to be rated in the top ten of all Presidents–number 6 in the C Span 2000 poll and number 9 in the 2009 C Span Followup poll, and this despite bitter condemnation by so many right wing sources who only emphasize the evil side of Wilson, and give him no credit for his accomplishments. There is no question, however, that he had an important impact on the growth of Presidential power, the exact reason why the right wing hates his guts.

This blogger and author understands the mixed legacy of Woodrow Wilson, but still sees him as an influential President, who still impacts America a century after his first election to the Presidency!

So Happy Birthday, President Wilson, a man we will hear a lot about as we commemorate the major events of his administration over the next eight years from March 4, 1913, to March 4, 1921!

The Republican War On America Since Obama Became President

In the three years since Barack Obama became President in January 2009, the Republican Party has done everything possible to make Barack Obama “a one term President”, as Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell declared in 2009.

They have been proud of their efforts, so it is time to show how they have worked against the interests of the American people as they have fought against Obama and his initiatives.

MoveOn.org has made up a list of the “wars” waged by the GOP, and they are worthy to note.

The Republicans have waged war against the reproductive rights of women.They have declared war on child labor laws, unions and collective bargaining rights; war against marriage equality for gay men and women; war on science, the environment, and public health; war on education; war on historical truth, promoting mythological revisionism; war on immigrants; war on the Islamic world; war on the right to vote; war on racial desegregation; war on National Public Radio and PBS; and finally, war on Barack Obama, claiming he is born in Kenya, is a Muslim, is a Socialist, is a Fascist, and other lies and deceptions to vilify a President worse than anyone since Abraham Lincoln, including even a much vilified President, Richard Nixon.

With this record, they want us to give them power to go backwards on so many social areas, economic policy, and foreign policy. Forward looking people cannot allow this to happen!

Newt Gingrich: The Dr. Jekyll And Mr. Hyde Of American Politics

Newt Gingrich displayed intelligence, thought, and some good ideas in last night’s Republican National Security Debate on CNN, and over the years, he has been judged as being an “ideas” man who made some major contributions to our intellectual and political discourse. He showed real common sense and compassion about illegal immigrants who have been here for many years and contributed positively to America, a view which will anger many Tea Party conservatives, and probably kill his chances for the GOP Presidential nomination.

But just the few days before the debate, Gingrich displayed the mean, nasty, ugly, divisive side of his personality–suggesting child labor return, and telling Americans involved in the “Occupy Wall Street” Movement to take a bath and get a job, rather than protest the unfairness of our economic and political system.

Gingrich has also been particularly nasty and disrespectful toward President Obama, adopting the “Birther” ideas for a long time, and generally, saying wild, reckless things about many issues surrounding the President.

And of course, his ethics in government when Speaker of the House of Representatives, and his scandalous private life, with three marriages and two divorces, and multiple examples of adultery, also make him look positively evil to many observers.

What seems apparent is that Newt Gingrich has multiple sides to his personality, which makes it easy to compare him to Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

The question is IF somehow Gingrich became President, what kind of behavior and personality traits would show up on a daily basis. The fear is that he would be dangerous in office, because his behavior would be so unpredictable!

Newt Gingrich, The Hypocrite: The Nerve To Condemn “Occupy Wall Street” As People Who “Need To Bathe And Get A Job”

Newt Gingrich, former Speaker of the House, and front runner for the GOP nomination in many polls, has often said he regrets actions and statements he has made in his past.

Well known for his lack of ethics and no morals at all, Gingrich claimed by becoming a Catholic that he had reformed, and that has turned out to be a lie!

Gingrich, now that he is surging in the polls, is showing his ugly, hypocritical side again and again, reminding us that a “leopard does not change its spots!”

He says liberals, progressives and the left have lost their “moral compass”, an ironic thing for a man to say who has been an adulterer multiple times, and has been shown to have been involved in ethical violations in the House of Representatives leadership, and to have lied incessantly!

He also, as stated earlier in another entry, suggests that young children who are poor should clean their schools, in place of janitors, advocating a return to child labor.

And he has the nerve to state that the “Occupy Wall Street” demonstrators in New York City and elsewhere “need a bath and to get a job”, as if these people are not facing the worst economic conditions since the Great Depression, and the fact that there are not anywhere near enough jobs with millions of layoffs since 2008!

This man sounds like Scrooge in A CHRISTMAS CAROL, but even more hardhearted and nasty and mean and vindictive!

The nerve of Newt Gingrich who has lived off the public dole as a government employee for so long, and then as a lobbyist and propagandist ever since, to condemn principled people who are being labeled as “losers” by the privileged and those fortunate enough not to face the horrors of long term unemployment!

Even if one is NOT religious, one should never forget the saying” “There but for the grace of God go I!”

Maine On The Road To The 19th Century: Governor Paul LePage And Labor Laws

The state of Maine has often be seen as a state of independent minded people who have been ahead of much of the rest of the nation in many ways.

The reputation of Maine is about to be damaged irrevocably by the insanity of Tea Party favorite and Governor Paul LePage!

He wants the state labor laws to be changed, after having removed labor murals from the state Labor Department building as objectionable!

Now he wants the state to change the child labor laws to allow 16 year old high school students to work 24 hours a week, rather than the present 20. What this means is that there will be a higher dropout rate as students will have no time to study and focus on school. He also wants high school students to be allowed to work to 11 pm, rather than the present 10 pm, on school nights, another horrible idea!

LePage also wants the state minimum wage law to be changed to allow workers under the age of 20 to be paid a minimum wage of $5.25 instead of the prevailing wage of $7.50!

This would be slave labor wages in the 21st century, as no one can even live on the minimum wage as it is, and it would be exploiting young people and making it harder for older people out of work to gain even a minimum wage job!

Paul LePage is another despicable governor who represents backwardness and craziness, much like Rick Scott of Florida, Scott Walker of Wisconsin, Rick Snyder of Michigan, John Kasich of Ohio, and Chris Christie of New Jersey!

If Maine had any sense, it should take action to remove this disgraceful excuse for a governor through recall or impeachment, as he will destroy the state with his loony, retrogressive agenda!