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Eugene V. Debs Day at the Indiana Statehouse: A History Lesson for Mitch Daniels

Eugene V. Debbs, c. 1897 (source: Wikipedia)

With 4,800 jobs in Indiana’s 8th District (where I live) going to China in the last decade, and Hoosier taxpayers feeding J.P. Morgan close to $200,000 monthly to handle our food stamps, Governor Mitch Daniels’ attempt to turn non-union workers against the teachers and other union members isn’t working. Thousands of workers have descended on the Indiana Statehouse to show Daniels that what goes around comes around.

As in Indiana, Republicans across the land are swelling in their psychopathic ways, from Wisconsin to Ohio. In Missouri, in fact, Republicans are even attempting to overthrow child labor laws, laws first fought for by Indiana’s Albert J. Beveridge and Terre Haute’s Eugene V. Debs, the great Socialist and union leader, at the turn of the last century.  Is child slave labor the next path Republicans in Indiana will take? You’ve failed your I-STEP test, son.  Now it’s off to McDonald’s, 24/7.

Let’s be clear about all of this.  The hysteria over pensions bankrupting the states is just another sociopathic exaggeration by people like Daniels to destroy the unions. As economist Dean Baker has noted, the shortfalls that do exist can be easily overcome and are the fault of Wall Streets crooks who, during the housing bubble crimes, gambled away our money. Instead of rotting in the Terre Haute Federal Prison, these gamblers are making tax-funded million dollar bonuses or working for the Obama administration.

Maybe it’s time for a history lesson for Mr. Daniels. In January of 1922, after Indiana Governor Warren T. McCray tried to incite a group of American Legion members to hunt down and bruise up Eugene V. Debs at his home in Terre Haute and to thump unions members to “teach them a lesson,” Debs fired off a letter to the governor to bring them on.  The Terre Haute miners and workers were ready if the governor was going to make good on his promise. Beautifully, a few years later McCray ended up doing time for mail fraud in the same prison Debs a few years earlier was incarcerated in for protesting the First World War. . . .

If we remember, it wasn’t too long ago that the current Indiana governor sweated his way out of prosecution and civil lawsuits. In 2001, Daniels was on the board of the Indianapolis Power and Light Company, which merged with Dennis Bakke’s then-company AES, a monster utility corporation.  Daniels and others on the IPALCO board dumped their own stock before the merger took place. Afterwards, IPALCO stockholders and workers lost millions, including their 401k packages.  Now Dennis Bakke, a member of The Family, is counting on Mitch to give him some more taxpayer money for his newest Indiana scam, Imagine Charter Schools.

Indiana workers, don’t let our governor, our president, our senators, and the oligarchs steal your money and then turn you against each other. Instead of asking why teachers get paid a tadbit more than you, ask why you and the teachers both aren’t making more money. Ask, as Eugene V. Debs did, why “it is possible for one man who does absolutely nothing that is useful to amass a fortune of hundreds of millions of dollars, while millions of men and women who work all the days of their lives secure barely enough for a wretched existence.” And email the governor and the state Republicans to let them know that we are ready to make every single day in Indiana Eugene V. Debs Day.

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Doug Martin

Doug Martin

Doug Martin is a Walt Whitman scholar, poet, fiction writer, editor, musician (the Delicious Militia), and teacher.