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Sunday, February 19, 2006


Loss of Power, Loss of Meaning

General Motors just announced a plan to close plants throughout the country and to lay off 30,000 workers. Alcoa is going to lay off most of their workforce, and probably close its plant in Maryland. GM blames the high cost of union wages and the expense of health and retirement benefits; Alcoa cites the cost of electricity and intends to offshore its new plants where energy costs are lower.

Heartened by corporate decisions to improve their bottom line, the stock market responded with an increase in share prices. Big business just loves lay-offs and the increased profitability they promise.

And the business of America is, make no mistake about it, business. And the rest of the world seems to be heading in that direction. With a token nod to human rights, the administration lauds the emergence of China's economy as a miracle, ignoring how it is bleeding the western world in the most unbalanced trade exchange ever witnessed.

Who puts the face on the victims of lay off? Who recognizes the anguish of those who feel useless in a world that worships the useful? The army of the unemployed, still some 7 million of us even at the trumpeted recent 5% unemployment rate, need to find a means of empowerment.

The Unions of the 1930 poured workers into the streets to demand accountability and relief. But the Union movement is only a shell of its former self, relegated to the sidelines of petty negotiations.

We need to seek leaders who are willing to face reality and stand up for the people in the face of overwhelming corporate control, power, and unrelenting greed. We need our man on horseback. Does anyone know if he's out there?

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