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February 26, 2014

History is a grim reaper of facts, both good and bad. The constant drumbeat of propaganda from the banking and corporate culture these days would have Americans who weren’t there believe that the labor culture we had after WW II was filled with crooks masquerading as labor bosses who took advantage of employers trying to meet pent up demand from the war. Some, like me, are not so easily fooled, and here’s why. I was there, and was in the war that preceded that some 30-year era of the truce between labor and capital (ending circa 1974).
We loved what Wall Street now calls “labor bosses” such as John L. Lewis of the United Mine Workers of America and Walter Reuther of the United Automobile Workers. Indeed in my little coal-mining community, the running joke was that we believed the three greatest men who ever lived were John L. Lewis, Franklin D. RooseveIt and Jesus Christ, and in that order! (Some of our church ladies were not amused.) It was an era based upon the spillover of the “we’re all in this together” attitude we had during the war, where we really were in this all together in resisting fascist threats to our democracy. It was an era where Americans had a unity in common purpose, one where you would speak to total strangers on the streets of San Francisco and elsewhere, an era ending with a thud in 1974 as a casualty of Watergate, Viet-Nam, and Wall Street greed (when the Mr. Cleans precipitiously decided to hog all the new wealth provided by productive efficiencies of all of those participating in our roaring economy).
Here is the story on the “labor bosses” named by Wall Street ex post facto manipulators and their paid hacks and bought legislators don’t talk about. Those terrible “labor bosses” brought a standard of living to a Depression and War-weary America we could only dream of in the 1930s; wages went up with new efficiencies in productivity because corporate America at that time rightly shared productivity gains, as well they should since it was people and not money which provided such gains. The resulting wage scale brought about a booming economy with new roads like our interstates, new houses, refrigerators, automobiles etc. Aggregate demand went through the roof. Millions of returning veterans returned to go to college. It seemed there was to be no end to the economy’s expansion. Then came 1974.
Our trip to nirvana came to an end with a dull thud circa 1974. Watergate, Viet Nam and a sudden move on the part of the corporate culture to hog all new productivity gains for their own rather than share them with labor was the starting point for the malaise in which we find ourselves today. Suddenly our labor leaders (per Wall Street) morphed from “partners in America” to “labor boss” greedhogs interested only in dues and political power and intent on “destroying the system.”
Compare my description of post WW II America with the one we live in today. The rich have somehow persuaded many Americans who should know better that its model is superior to the post WW II model and better for working Americans. Today we have people who work begging for an increase in the minimum wage from their banking and corporate masters, masters who have outsourced their jobs along with capital it amassed here to slave labor venues. That’s a better model? “Labor boss” crooks? Read the paper. Almost every day we find crooks in fixing interest rates, bribing Chinese politicians, even laundering Mexican drug gang money etc., so just who is “destroying the system?” It’s the Mr. Cleans on Wall Street who find labor a convenient scapegoat to cover their greed. Let’s not be fooled. GERALD E


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