LaborTalk for November 18, 2011

Most American Workers Are Baffled
By Financial News in U.S. and Abroad

By Harry Kelber

Watching the daily reports of the economic crisis in Europe and the turmoil of financial markets in Asia, most American workers have hardly any idea of how global changes are affecting their lives.

They see photos of President Obama talking with German Chancellor Angela Merkel. What are they discussing? A bailout of Greece and/or Italy? How did Obama respond? Should it be strictly private?

Why is the U.S. Treasury Secretary, Timothy Geithner, huddling with French President Sarkozy in Europe? Are they talking about French wine or a deal on the European crisis or the U.S. national debt?

And we hear that the "euro", Europe's 17-nation currency, is in trouble. If the euro collapsed, what would it cost the U.S. banks and investment companies? They undoubtedly would find a way to pass their losses on to us.

Because we live in an age of globalization, do we have to help in a bailout of Greece and Italy, when we can't find jobs for 14 million unemployed Americans?

Why Can't Our Government Tell Us the Truth?

The Obama administration favors cutting the national debt by three trillion dollars over 10 years. Who knows what's a trillion dollars? And why won't he tell us what domestic programs he has agreed to cut?

Why did he act on his own authority to propose that hundreds of billions be cut from Medicare, Social Security and Medicaid?

By Nov. 23, the 12-member congressional deficit reduction panel must reach a decision on a balance of spending cuts and revenue increases in a $1.2 trillion budget over 10 years. The panel is also supposed to make recommendations on taxes and a new tax code

If the panel falls short, a series of automatic cuts between military and civilian programs would take effect, starting in 2013.

* * * * *

The AFL-CIO and its allies have not sought a voice in determining the rules set for the congressional panel, nor have they developed specific tax rates, except that the one percent must pay "its fair share."

The AFL-CIO used to have an Education Department, which it eliminated some time ago when it had to cut operating expenses.

There are two actions the AFL-CIO should take to better defend its members:

(1) It should recreate its Education Department with staffers who understand the world of finance and can explain economic events in terms that can be understood by union members; and

(2) Its leaders should become directly involved in defending domestic programs that are both fair and necessary.

The trillions available for use (there are some two trillion in cash in the vaults of the biggest banks) should be spent on creating jobs — an immediate emergency — not on deficit reduction — a long-term problem.

LaborTalk will be posted here on November 22, 2011 and on our two web sites www.laboreducator.org and on www.laborsvoiceforchange.org.

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