By Nancy Churchill
Are you happy with your life? Do you have a great job that provides lots of time off to be with your family, that pays generous benefits in case you get sick or are injured, with a wage that allows you to afford a nice house, car, plus college tuition? Are jobs so plentiful, education is so affordable, and life’s choices so varied that it was easy to choose a path that was most inspirational to you?
If so I’d like to know what planet you live on.
Chances are it’s just the opposite. Chances are you studied hard at something that you enjoyed, only to have your student debt drown everything else out. Then when (or if) you graduated, no one in your chosen field was hiring, so you supplemented with a job waiting tables. The hours are broken up by your employer, such that it’s difficult to pick up your child from school; you don’t dare call in sick or complain if your employer takes part of your tips because every other employer does pretty much the same.
And that’s if you can even find a job.
And if you can’t, lawmakers are changing the rules about whether you actually qualify for unemployment. They say government is too big, that the “safety net” is like a hammock that encourages you to sit at home instead of looking for a job. They say you’d rather sit home collecting unemployment than knock yourself out working. They say the deficit is too high, which they must make up for by cutting unemployment and other services like SNAP (supplemental nutritional assistance program), the program you depend on to feed your kids.
They say this while they insist on greater tax cuts to giant corporations that have been raking in record profits. They claim that these tax cuts help those corporations create millions of jobs. They repeat this over and over, even as those jobs never seem to materialize.
And none of this is by accident.
A century ago giant corporations raked in huge profits while workers struggled in sweat shops. If you were lucky there was a soup kitchen in your neighborhood, but no food stamps. Without Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid or unemployment it was far worse than today.
Those services didn’t spring out of the ethers. People fought hard for them. They elected the right kind of lawmakers who were attuned to their needs rather than the guys on Wall Street with the most money.
But people who own giant corporations never seem to have enough. Today those who have the most are fighting hardest to cut services for people who struggle the most. They manage to eliminate unions who fight for better wages and safer working conditions by pretending to allow workers the “freedom” not to pay for what the unions do for them.
Don’t buy it. Unions secure hours, wages and benefits that serve you. Without them corporations can set wages lower and lower, deny decent hours, benefits and pensions.
So what can you do about this? Vote. Really, that’s it.
Well, first, educate yourself. Then get registered. We need a massive voter registration drive across the nation. Because the only way to stop a politician from cutting more taxes on the wealthy while slashing social services is to replace him or her with a different kind of politician dedicated to saving and even expanding social services until people can get on their feet, a politician with a strategy to rebuild national infrastructure and develop clean energy jobs. Progressive politicians like Bernie Sanders, in national and local races, up and down the ticket.
We the People owe it to ourselves, regardless of our current economic status — but especially if we are among the most hurting — to help organize a voter drive to elect Bernie Sanders as the Democratic Party nominee. Then sweep him and those like him to victory in the general election.