Columns » Hightower

Trump stiffs America's workers

LowDown

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Trust me, Donald Trump bellowed to working-class voters in 2016, promising he’d be the champion of what he called “the forgotten Americans.”

Trust him? You’d have better odds trusting a coyote to guard your last lamb chop!
Nonetheless, many working stiffs did buy the billionaire’s pledge to stand for them against corporate and political elites. But he quickly proved that his promises were just another Trump scam. Again and again he has stiffed the working class, consistently siding with corporate powers to transfer more money and control from workers to corporations.

For example, Trump’s Labor Department — stacked with anti-labor corporate executives — ruled that millions of service employees are “independent contractors” and thus not entitled to any minimum-wage, overtime pay or other labor protections. Then, last year, this “worker’s champion” mandated that instead of monitoring corporate violations of wage laws, his administration would trust top executives to monitor themselves and that he would grant clemency to those who do cheat workers. Moreover, the Trumpsters have slashed the number of job-safety inspectors at OSHA to the lowest level in the agency’s history, making it open season on maiming workers. For example, when an assembly line worker at an Arkansas chicken processing plant had a finger cut off last September, OSHA didn’t even send an investigator. The next month, Trump’s OSHA “regulators” let the plant’s owners speed up their assembly line. Then, two months later, another worker lost a finger. Again, Trump’s job safety officials didn’t send an inspector to question the corporation’s practices.

It’s true that Trump has not “forgotten” the forgotten working class — indeed, the pampered son of privilege remembers to slap them with plutocratic policies every chance he gets.

Meanwhile... As an old saying puts it, “Where there’s a will — there are a thousand won’ts.”
Sure enough, here come the won’ts, opposing the public’s demand for bold action to stop inequality. The corporate powers are frantically trying to scare the public away from big ideas like Medicare for All, free college tuition and a wealth tax by branding them with the hoary old, right-wing bugaboo: “Socialism!”



However, they’re facing one huge problem in selling this scare tactic: Such progressive ideas are quite popular. A July poll shows that Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s idea of a new tax on fortunes greater than $50 million is favored by two-thirds of Americans, including 55 percent of Republicans. Nearly six out of 10 people favor Medicare for All, including a majority of high-income Americans. And nearly 60 percent of us — including 72 percent of independent voters — favor free tuition.

Ironically, the major barrier to passing such changes is not the one thrown up by big-money lobbyists and Republican Congress critters. Rather, it’s the meekness of establishment Democrats who don’t have the courage of their party’s democratic convictions. They whimper that it will be hard to pass the sweeping changes Americans need and want, plus those ideas might offend some of the party’s big donors. So rather than respond to the grassroots will for real change, those weak-kneed forces are opposing strong advocates like Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders. They say the party should back off from its core values and fighting spirit, urging it instead to offer small, incremental adjustments in the status quo that might win support from Republicans and corporate chieftains.

If the meek ever inherit the earth, these timid do-nothings will be land barons! If Democrats don’t stand for the people, why should people stand for them?

You can contact Hightower at jimhightower.com.

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