Oh, how I wish I was still innocent-enough to be surprised by this news.
Haiti still languishes under a mountain of rubble nearly 8 months after its earthquake. Only 2% of the wreckage has been cleared. Why? Because no one inside or outside Haiti has come-up with a “master-plan” to deal with the mess. And until the mess is removed the rebuilding cannot begin.
Thanks to efforts by the powerful nations, who continued to undermine Haiti in every way as revenge for Haiti having thrown-off enslavement to France back around 1800, Haiti was one of the armpits of the world. But remember the reaction immediately following the quake? Haiti was suddenly one of the darling beloved spots of the globe. Weepy eyes, sending in the U.S. troops to quell unrest, Slick Willy & Dubya jetting in to grab the limelight & pledge help .Billions of dollars were raised for disaster-relief. But those billions are still unspent on relief for the Haitians. Hmmm… the money hasn’t gone for something else, has it? Chelsea Clinton did have a very expensive wedding recently.
Thank Zeus that back when Dayton, Ohio was destroyed by a flood in 1913 we didn’t have the bunch of empty suits we now call “leaders” in charge. If so, we would still be waiting for the city to be rebuilt.
Look for Haiti to be rebuilt about the same time as New Orleans and under similar circumstances: i.e. only after the poor darkies are dispossessed of any property rights so Capitalists can swoop in & make some big bucks without interference.
Here is a copy of the email I sent to the president, my Congressman, and my two Senators. I urge you to do likewise. There is a link to their offices here on this blog.
“It used to be only the Republicans who did not care about ordinary people. Now I see the Democrats have joined them. Going on vacation while millions of Americans lose their unemployment benefits? Shame on you!
I live in Dayton. Like me, you are old-enough to remember when this city was one of the top in the world for industry. Have you seen it lately? Maybe you should visit it during your vacation and see the closed businesses & factories and talk to the people who struggle to hold on to their lives without jobs.
The unemployed are not slackers or lazy layabouts. They are people who had jobs & lost them because the president & Congress did not do their jobs of keeping the economy on-track.
Why did I vote for a Democrat president & Congress if you are going to act like Republicans. And save me the nice-sounding speeches, show me some backbone and take action! If I cannot count on you now, then do not count on my vote in the next election.”
In a posting titled, “The Clinton Legacy,” over at the Bad Attitudes site, Jerome Doolittle reminds us that Bill Clinton, more than any other person, is responsible for passing the NAFTA (North American Free Trade) treaty. And therefore, he is responsible for many of our present problems with illegal Mexican immigrants. I was aware that NAFTA has undermined the U.S. workers but did not know that the legislation also allowed cheap U.S. and Canadian corn to undercut & bankrupt Mexico’s small farms. With their farms gone, the Mexicans come to the U.S. looking for a way to make a living (can we really blame them?)
Wait a moment! Did Bill Clinton not already apologize for ruining Mexican farmers this way? Oh, no…sorry…that was Haitian farmers to which Clinton apologized in March. He helped ruin them by getting Haiti to import cheap U.S. rice. I talked about it in my March 16 blog, “The Bill and George Tour.” Fortunately for American laborers so-far, the Haitian farmers could not get off their island so easily to come here. Instead, they have to just tough it out until U.S. Capitalists can ship the jobs down there to them. I figure that should start to happen very soon. The U.S. military occupation that started in March after Haiti’s big earthquake is even now making the island safe & stable for the empire’s business interests.
One could cut through my NAFTA-related disgust with a knife! I voted for Clinton twice but no wonder by the arrival of 2000, I voted for Nader mostly to send a message to Democrats that they needed to be more than “Republican-lite.” Those odious ogres, Reagan & George Bush #41 would have loved to have passed NAFTA during their times, but it took a Democrat, the worker’s friend, to coordinate that sell-out. (BTW- get ready for Obama’s similar Democratic presidential sell-out of Social Security)
Back in the pre-NAFTA days I still thought our “representatives” wanted to hear voters’ opinions and so I wrote them frequently. I mounted a one-man anti-NAFTA campaign where I wrote letters to political and business leaders and had as many of my family, friends, and coworkers sign them as I could get. And I got many.
I closely watched the sham debate leading up to the passage of NAFTA. The media and their Capitalist owners were of one voice: NAFTA would be a boon for Americans. Prices would drop and U.S. workers would safely move into high-tech jobs that are immune to being exported for cheap labor. Opponents of the treaty were portrayed in editorials & political cartoons as cretins on the level of cavemen afraid of the introduction of fire. The only notable person I recall as being anti-NAFTA was Ross Perot, who warned that businesses would move to Mexico so fast we would hear a “giant sucking sound.” 99% of working people I talked to were not fooled, they knew NAFTA meant unparalleled disaster for their future.
NAFTA passed and there was much rejoicing among the moneyed-crowd. The newscasts featured politicians and their owners grinning ear-to-ear in celebrations rivaling VJ day in 1945. I threw away my filing cabinet full of letters I had written over the years. I vowed never again to bother writing the politicians; a promise I kept until the run-up to the Iraq war.
Today we see the ramifications of NAFTA and similar policies that have been enacted by the evil monsters that pass for American “leadership.” Our industries lie in ruins. Working class income is in free-fall, with all classes but the topmost close behind. My beloved Dayton, Ohio, once one of the premier manufacturing cities of the world is little more than a ghost of its former self. Like most everything in the 21st U.S., the Capitalists made money off this economic destruction while the citizens got sold a pig in a poke.
Once again, as I did back in March, I ask: Will Bill Clinton will ever apologize to U.S. workers for NAFTA?
P.S. I was going to end this essay with the above question. And then I remembered that, during the 2008 campaign, presidential candidate Obama (now President George Bush III) said he would “renegotiate NAFTA.” Shockingly, he has since changed his mind about it.
by Colonel Girdle
Dayton, Ohio, 3:30 a.m.
Since I could not sleep because of worry, I got online to find-out how to apply for a job with the U.S. Census. I have applied for job after job, even the ones that would probably not pay enough for me live. So that means I’ll have to work at two crappy jobs… or maybe three. I know people who are already doing that. Once upon a time, I was middle-class. I had worked my way through college and then, with 22 years of hard work, had made my way up into management at one of Dayton’s many solid, large companies. Then one day nine years ago, I was downsized along with hundreds of my co-workers. The company went away to greener pastures of cheaper labor/fewer regulations, and also there went my insurance, vacation, & retirement; all casualties of the only developed nation that ties everything to a person’s job.
Since that day, I have worked at jobs far worse than the crummy ones I had in my youth. For just one example, for about a month I was a subcontractor (that is like an employee, but they are not responsible for anything bad that happens to you) for a company that “recycled” the boiling-hot oil from restaurant deep fryers. I would pull the greasy van up to the back door, trundle a 200 lb. filtering machine on tiny wheels down the slippery ramp and into the building. There I vacuumed the 350 degree oil from the fryer so it could circulate through the filtering machine while I used putty knife & steel wool to scour char off the scortching cooker (all the while praying I wouldn’t get badly scalded), shoot the oil back into the fryer, then head to the next location. By the end of the day I was covered with reeking sour oil & sweat and could hardly stand-up because the bottom of my shoes were slick as snot.
In between the crummy jobs I owned a few small businesses. I sold natural pain cream at a flea market, I had a janitorial company where I did 90% of the janitoring, I sold used CD’s & DVD’s at a flea market. If any of those things were once a good way to make money, they sure aren’t now. Myrtle helped me with these, as best she could, while working at her own jobs.
I wound-up working in a convenience store and from that experience my desperation gave me the really awful idea that taking all our remaining assets and buying a store was a good idea. Blinded by love, Myrtle went down that bumpy road with me. I will not go into further detail recounting that four-year-disaster and the constant 100 hour workweeks we put in. Memory of it brings on a sort of Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome. Suffice it to say that it was not too big to fail. It went belly-up during the late 2008-early 2009 crash with nary a peep from the Bush nor Obama Administrations.
As a result, I am more broke than I have ever been in my life. Actually, I’m far, far into the negative net worth zone. At first, I still hoped to find a way to dig myself out of debt. But I soon learned that was the impossible dream when, for instance, the credit card company I had for 15 years lent a helping hand by increasing my interest rate to 29.99% – when I had never missed a payment. Now they are getting 0%, since I’ll be filing for bankruptcy (guilt-free I might add) just as soon as I can finish the paperwork. I am far from alone in my struggles. My circle of friends & family recommend good bankruptcy lawyers the way we used to recommend good restaurants. People I know who used to “have it made” are sinking and everyone under them is drowning or already drowned. I personally know (and try to help) people who have taken to living in basements, cars, and tents! (By the way – See our “Friends” link to A Voice for the Commonwealth)
Being poor wasn’t a huge adjustment. Myrtle and I had never been big-spenders. We did not believe in materialism. We’ve never had a desire for trendy clothes or the latest electronic gadget. Instead, we put our spare time, money, and energy into charity work and enjoyed the simple things in life. However, I was used to paying the bills and having money left-over. Now buying a cheap bottle of shampoo is a financial decision that requires thought.
Our system will collapse, probably soon, from its own crushing weight. Every time I see, hear, or read about the latest actions of our business-government “leaders,” I derive comfort from knowing I am speeding that collapse along: My lack of spending denies money to the military-industrial-entertainment-healthcare complex and I’m too poor to pay taxes to the rotten government it owns.
But I don’t mean to sound bitter.
Funny how sometimes a person comes full-circle. You can think you’ve moved-on permanently in your life, only to end-up back where you started. In my own case, I now make less money than I did back in 1980. In those days, one of my money-saving habits was that I bought used tires for whatever jalopy I was driving at an old auto garage on the east side of Dayton, called “Astro Tire.”
Astro Tire was down the block from where my one of my older sisters & her husband lived. They had recently moved to the east side because their good jobs at McCall’s Dayton Press evaporated (until the late 1970′s a huge portion of the nation’s magazines were printed in Dayton). The east side was/is the poor-white side of town, while the west side was/is the poor black side of town. Anyway, my brother-in-law turned me on to many money saving tips needed by a struggling college student; one of which was buying good, used tires.
Since before Christmas, one of the back tires on Myrtle’s Honda had a slow leak. I got in the habit of putting air in it every couple days but could tell the tire was shot. It was worn-down to where there really was no more tread than if it had been painted on. That’s a dangerous thing in any driving season but particularly during the snowy/icy Ohio winter.
So a few days ago, I bit the bullet and called around to tire shops and mega-stores for prices. But nearly $100 for a tire is simply out-of-reach now that my credit cards are gone. The memory of those good times is fading but a decade ago I was well-off enough that I charged most of my monthly expenses, then paid off the credit card bill each month so I paid no interest to the bank (the credit card companies refer to customers who do that as “deadbeats. But don’t feel too sorry for them, they still get a couple percent from the merchant on every credit card purchase). In the new millennium, since I didn’t have the income to pay cash for medical care, eyeglasses, car repair, and other such luxuries, I charged them. And then always prayed that someday, by working hard or winning the lottery, I’d have enough money to pay-off the balances (I came close a couple times). Alas, it wasn’t to be. The cards are gone; replaced by threatening letters.
I was in despair at affording a tire. Then I remembered trusty Astro Tire. I tried to find them in the telephone listing, but to no avail. I knew they are still in business because once in awhile I pass the run-down old building while I’m running errands. I would have to go there. Leaving Myrtle at home to make business phone calls, I set-off to a place I’d abandoned 25 years ago, when I finally had a great job and could afford brand-spanking-new tires for my no-longer-jalopy cars.
I pulled into what is now called “Wayne Avenue Tire” (that explained why I couldn’t find them in the phone book). The name was the only noticeable thing that changed about the place since 1980. It was still greasy, dark, & dingy. But I was greeted by a friendly & wiry 20-something fellow who quoted me a price of $30 complete for an adequate tire. Since I was the only customer there at the time, he started on my car right away. It was a sunny, 20 degree day, so I forewent his offer to let me sit in my car while he jacked it up and changed the tire. Instead, although I didn’t want to annoy him, I talked to him. This is what he told me:
The name Astro Tire went about 5 years ago. The shop has been through 3 owners in the last 5 years. Two of those owners lost the business because they were heavily involved in drugs. The latest, and drug-free, owner is not the friendly, wiry 20-something. Mister friendly, wiry 20-something is named Ray. And Ray is grateful that the owner hired him to work at Wayne Avenue Tire because Ray used to do roofing, until the construction business collapsed recently.
Ray got me on my way after about 10 minutes, which is about an hour quicker than any new tire shop I’ve been in. And, you know, even after I get back on my feet financially I think I will probably keep buying used tires.