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Phil Rizzo: Money and politics are one and the same

Full Speed to Port

Posted: April 1, 2009 1:34 a.m.
Updated: April 1, 2009 4:55 a.m.
Democrats have been accused of stirring up class warfare. Good for them!

It's about time Americans are becoming conscious that the moneyed class carries the day.

It's good that the rich and super rich who really run the country, many in an arrogant self-serving way, are coming to the forefront of our thinking.

Put money and power together and you have the rich living on the hillsides in gated communities.

The rest of us fend for ourselves, content with the crumbs that filter down.

People who treasure wisdom realize that by eliminating poverty, the very need to have a gate and a surveillance system and guards to check everyone in and out of their enclaves is reduced.

So far the failure to wipe out poverty has been the curse of capitalism. Instead capitalism thrives largely on low-cost labor to make it flourish.

There's nothing good about that.

Americans have voted conservatively following the precept that with conservatism you get to keep what you earn rather than sharing it with those lazy welfare cases disregarding the many other critical things the government provides.

Actually, government of, by and for the people has provided us with much that is good that we take for granted.

The preamble to the Constitution states: "to promote the general welfare." We do not know exactly what the nation's fathers had in mind but it surely wasn't to ignore poverty.

In fact, there was fear in some quarters that an elite might be created. It is clear our founders had an egalitarian concern oddly juxtaposed with slavery.

Some of the things we would not give up are firefighters, policemen and roads (both building and maintenance); courts to settle our differences; the FDA to protect our health; the FBI to protect us; the Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force and Coast Guard to protect our skies and shores; public schools; prisons to house convicts, the FDIC to protect savings deposits; Social Security and Medicare to help the aged; Pell grants for students. Not a bit of frivolity here.

The Democrats, influenced by trade unions, have brought all the benefits for workers to the table, such as the end of child labor, safety in the workplace, creation of the 40-hour work week, retirement plans, and medical and other benefits such as vacations.

The Republicans instead have made a career of suppressing trade unions.

Why? Because unions inhibit the flow of a totally free labor market.

This is the same free market that has favored the rich, the same free market that economic conservatives thought needed no regulation because corporations would operate out of their own self interests.

This is the same free-market that has brought on great suffering today.

The objective is clear to those who care to look at it closely. Unions tend to raise the wages and benefits of the worker.

The ideal of the free market enthusiast is to reduce labor costs as much as possible to increase relatively well-heeled shareholder profits which is where conservatives believe they belong.

The richest country in the world has thousands, even millions of people who work but still live in poverty. That's where the free labor market takes you.

The federal minimum wage on July 24 of this year will finally become $7.25 per hour.

The picture makes it clear that conservatives have fought to keep wages low because they claim higher salaries reduce jobs.

What it does is reduce the amount of money that goes into the coffers of the rich and corporations. The minimum wage has never been high enough to reach the poverty level.

In fact, conservatives have fought against it. Few seem to care about the effect on the poor and disadvantaged.

Believe it or not, the poor don't have lobbyists in Washington.

We need to break up the symbiotic relationship between the influential in government and the rich.

We need straight-up face the reality that money and politics are one.

We need to discipline ourselves to vote for those who really care about restoring the economic fairness we once took for granted in our early post-World War II years.

This attempt to encourage vigilance is not an anti-rich or anti-corporate campaign.

It's about recognizing the reality of money in government and dealing with it in positive, democratic ways.

Unopposed, the interests of money, not people, will move votes and determine large swaths of our lives.

Phil Rizzo is a Santa Clarita resident. "Full Speed to Port" appears Wednesdays in The Signal. His column reflects his own views and not necessarily those of The Signal.


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