Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Lemons Into Lemonade

Fellow workers, Here is the Op Ed piece I worked up. I would appreciate comments, suggestions and discussion and if I get three yeas I will send it off to Missoulian with suggested edits.

Dave Jones
aka www.troutsky.blogspot.com/

While the global economic meltdown and resulting recession will undoubtedly be a time of challenge and hardship for working citizens all around the world, it also presents opportunities for deep, lasting change not seen for generations. Due to it’s spectacular failure,the very logic of neo-liberalism is being questioned and new models discussed. Issues like fairness and sustainability are rising to the forefront. Here in the US, the country with the most responsibility for precipitating this collapse, the working class also carries a responsibility. It is incumbent on us to see that solutions for recovery go beyond mere re-regulation and involve a fundamental re-ordering of relative power in society. The larger political questions we face are: what form will a rescue take and who will pay for it?

Because the burden for any rescue will fall, as it always does, on the backs of the workers, it is time to make three demands in return. The first is single payer health care for all citizens. For too long the US has lagged behind the rest of the developed world in providing comprehensive care for all its citizens. The second is a public pension system for all. A dignified, secure retirement with defined benefits should await each worker who has contributed. The third demand should be for a jobs creation program directed at building public infrastructure. Creating a green energy system, localized food systems and carbon free methods of transport will both provide jobs and be an investment in the future.

Of course taking advantage of this opportunity for change will depend on citizens’ ability to correctly identify their interests as workers and to mobilize with a unified voice. This is why we see such an aggressive attack on unions by Big Business and the media which serves them as this crisis unfolds. Only through solidarity will we see not just a bailout for financial markets but a re-invigoration of true democracy and a society which works for all of its citizens. Instead of top-down decrees we call for public discussion. It is time for workers to have a say.

Two Rivers Branch IWW


Anonymous said...

First, regardless of whatever additions and corrections may develop, you have my supporting yea.

The proposals you make are idealized. Nothing wrong with that, a move with no goal has no direction. However, I am always hungry for practical, next step proposals that head us in the direction of the idealized goals. For instance, I strongly suspect that a pure universal health care system suddenly imposed on the current dysfunctional system will likely inherit many of its problems, particularly with regard to quality of care. Medicine has lost a geat deal of the prestige that it needs to function appropriately. Medical schools no longer attract the best students. An ill conceived universal system administered by many of the same managers that currently administer it is likely to reflect their overwhelmingly reactionary views. I have seen such universal systems as the Indian Health Service close up and they are uniform nightmares. Interestingly the best system I have worked in is the Air Force system. It manages to sustain high quality by honoring traditional values of care such as continuity and comprehensiveness and care is delivered, at least to the children cared for by the system in a non-discriminatory manner with one tier of care for all. You might want to puruse my musings on what a next step approach toward real QUALITY care might look at at this url

A public pension system only for contributors is less progressive than the Nixon proposal for a simple guaranteed income for everyone at a minimal subsistence levels. Nixon was certainly a crook but he actually had some of the most progressive social proposals. But that was before the real troglodytes took over politics who's ideal is medieval feudalism.

Jobs creation programs, if I take your meaning correctly, as in the old WPA are only stop gap measures. The real problem is to get spending money into the hands of workers who will actually spend it rather than put it in investment accounts. A good way to accomplish this is for localities to introduce local currencies that can be recycled through the local tax system by businesses. By simply increasing the money supply to match available goods and services in a community jobs are created in an organic way. Ithica NY has the best, most long lived local currency system to use as a model. The challenge is to get local government to get involved collecting a portion of taxes in the local currency.

There you go. See what a problem it is to invite my commentary.


Anonymous said...

I really like the article and I think it would be a great place to start getting people to think outside of the box.
I agree with Herb about the public pension system for only those who have contributed as being less progressive. Perhaps you could reword that.I say put it in the Missoulian.

troutsky said...

Thanks Herb,anonymous ( actually my lovely bride Char), far from "problem", this process is a way of learning how to express ourselves in the society we want to see.
Though idealistic proposals, I think it is our task to test the limits of the possible at this juncture.Compared to calls for instant revolution, I think these are modest and respect the fact we are not organized enough for an overthrow. Rather, each one of these imperfect proposals re-inforces the idea of the public good, the commons, and re-distribution upon which any further development of "social product" must stand.

To the question of healthcare, is there a simple, recognizable and explainable term we could use that would better describe what we want? Again, I mainly want to stress the idea that we don't have to rely on for-profit private sector.Mike Dennison did a good piec in Billings Gazette (commondreams .org)

As for pensions, I also believe in a guaranteed social wage as a safety net but don't think we are ready yet for an "each according to his need" type approach to wage and pension. Others? It seems that to be fair,those workers who sacrificed more should recieve more, both in wage and pension?

Anonymous said...

In response to Herb, "keeping money in the local economy" Do you all know about WeTrade Network? I belong to it. It is mainly small, very small, one or two employee businesses. Betty's Divine, Back to Nature, Scotty's Table, Etc. The only problem is, that you have to have something to sell. But it keeps most of the trade local. And, I suppose that if it keeps the businesses going, and they treat their employees right. Actually, the businesses are allowed to set up subaccounts for employees so they can trade also.

The woman who runs it takes a 5% commission off of the buyer and seller for each transaction. A region could make a lot of money doing that.


Ché Bob said...


Great job on this Op-Ed! I really like it and agree with your approach of beginning by asking for these modest gains.

Perhaps we could add some more precise language around the "universal health care" proposal. Perhaps even adding a couple of examples of better functioning systems. I know that the Frontline episode I watched on health care systems from Germany to the U.K. to Switzerland to Japan to Taiwan offered evidence of exceedingly superior systems of health care from cost to delivery of care.

On another note, I love this forum for discussing our organizing efforts.

troutsky said...

Carla, they are setting up a system down in the valley, Bitterroot Bucks where there is a pool and you can trade labor or services for products or other services. I think we should get involved at that level and meet other folks interested in alternatives.

Jay, Good idea, I think most people just hear about Canada (usually in a negative context) and don't realize everybody else has much better systems AND are healthier.I will insert.I'd like to hear from others!??

Charj said...

I support single payer health insurance. From my view point we need to start using the term "single payer" instead of Universal Health Insurance.It's the time and we can push this forward by supporting Conyers bill.