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Auto Worker “Parity” & the Corruption of America’s Political Elite

Big Biz GreedIt is a sign of the moral depravity of America’s political elite and the media’s complicity in their crimes that the widely accepted view of the US auto industry is that Detroit’s auto workers are paid too much, while everyone who benefited when financial charlatans ripped off America’s economy for trillions of dollars are taxed too much.

The media’s latest “heroes” are politicians like Bob Corker who demand that some auto workers accept “parity” with those who, he claims, make even less. Or men like Mitch McConnell, who said on the Senate floor, “None of us want to see them go down, but very few of us had anything to do with the dilemma that they’ve created for themselves.” These men are not heroes; they are scoundrels.

We are being asked to accept without thinking the perverted notion that “parity” is a moral principle that requires those who have earned and bargained for a decent share of America’s wealth be forced to accept the wages and benefits of those who live in states with discriminatory, anti-labor laws expressly designed to keep wages low and ensure that labor does not receive its fair share of the wealth they create for their foreign-owned companies.

Never mind that, as Jane and Marcy have pointed out, the specific claim of "dis-parity" is bogus here; the logic of "parity" is the same whether the lower-wage workers are in Tennessee, Alabama or Thailand. For the hapless workers on all sides, the principle means a race to the bottom that would warm the hearts and fatten the bank accounts of any 19th Century robber baron.

It does not seem to have occurred to our Government or our media that workers who produce things of value are entitled to a decent living, that they are entitled to a fairer share of the wealth they create for everyone else.

Nor has it occurred to our elites that the only reason our most productive workers ever come close to receiving their fair share of the wealth they create for others is because of collective bargaining, even though the empirical evidence of lower wages and benefits is readily available in the laws and wage statistics of every state with anti-union laws. Nor has it occurred to the moral midgets who lead and inform us that American auto companies have had decades of profitable operations. Their success played a major role in creating America’s middle class. US auto companies have generally been profitable except when America’s energy and foreign policies produced inevitable energy price shocks, or when the nation blundered into an economic catastrophe brought about by the corruption and greed of the financial industry and willfully abetted by the corruption and incompetence of the US Government.

Detroit’s “business model,” now so widely condemned, was not GM’s alone; it was, and still is, America’s business model. They made the cars and trucks we wanted, and we used our tax dollars to build highways and fraudulent credit schemes to build sprawling communities across America to show off our freedom. If they were blind, so were we. And if that model must now be radically reformed, we and our leaders must take collective responsibility for that task, not put it on the backs of auto workers.

Our government/media elite also need to be reminded, perhaps at the point of a pitchfork, that Republican notions of “parity” are rather selective; they were nowhere to be found when the President and an obstructionist Republican Congress denied health benefits to 10 million children and 40 million other Americans. And they were missing when deficient funding and new eligibility restrictions resulted in millions of others receiving reduced Medicare/Medicaid benefits, while Bush, Mitch McConnell and Bob Corker and their children are fully protected for life.

I fear we are living through the most morally corrupt era in my lifetime, but without a just god. Failing that, we should be hounding these thugs out of office and into infamy.

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John has been writing for Firedoglake since 2006 or so, on whatever interests him. He has a law degree, worked as legal counsel and energy policy adviser for a state energy agency for 20 years and then as a consultant on electricity systems and markets. He's now retired, living in Massachusetts.

You can follow John on twitter: @JohnChandley