Tag Archives: economy

What happened to my America?

By Edith Morgan

Where is the America I knew? I came here in 1941; this was the only country still taking in refugees, and we got in at the last minute (two months before Pearl Harbor). The U.S. quotas were full, and we were saved only because FDR established a special quota for “political refugees.”

The America I found was still struggling to recover from the crash of 1929, which finally ended when we entered World War II and the government went into full war production.
At that time, the America I knew was governed by two kinds of people: the usual politicians, beholden to various pressure groups, and the statesmen, the REAL public servants who truly wanted to work to better the lot of all people.

It was a time when “the customer was always right”, when banks were a service (not a business) as was the U.S. Post Office, and he teachers, policemen, and firemen were all public servants whose jobs were not expected to make a profit, but were legitimate expense that taxes were used to support. Most Americans agreed that an education was a valuable asset, and all of us looked up to our teachers and learned what we were expected to learn….

The airwaves were the property of the public, and stations were required to renew their licenses every three years, after consulting their publics as to how satisfied they were with the offerings.

Corporations were creatures of the state, chartered to do business according to certain rules and charters could be revoked under certain conditions. And under Teddy Roosevelt, the antitrust laws were rigorously enforced, so that no corporations could become big enough to sink the economy again.

How did were change so much that money is now everything? That “we know the price of everything and the value of nothing”? That lying has become an accepted national art (as advertising becomes more and more ubiquitous and more exaggerated), and that even freedom has a price? How have we come to accept the idea that government, which is usually all that stands between the individual and depredations of those who seek power over us, is blamed for our ills.

There is not a rule or law that has been passed that was not the RESULT of some citizens’ request for protection. Maybe we overdid it, passing laws to respond to single cases (which could be reversed if needed), but at least the individual in America could always expect his government to respond to him (unlike his employer), and to protect him overseas.

Now we are subject to the whims and greed and power mad urges of the very rich, many of whom inherited their money from parents who actually earned their money. Not one of them has invented anything, as all the inventors I know of began with hunches and ideas, often tinkering for a long time in garages and studies or labs, surviving on government grants, the support of the family or schools until they invented something that succeeded in making them rich (like Bill Gates and Steve Jobs).

Where did this vagrant notion originate that if we throw more money at those who already have too much they will suddenly become creative and inventive? There is no evidence that they will do anything except to squirrel away more money, buy more expensive “toys” and such more assets out of smaller businesses, while overcharging the taxpayers for their services.

It is high time that the American people stop to think, reverse the deadly course we are on, and once again become the America that was once a beacon to other nations. The preamble to our constitution begins with the words: “We the people”, not “We the states” nor “we the corporations.”

The truth about Scott Brown’s tax record and more …

Our United States “senator” – Scott Brown

***********************************

reposting:

Five things you won’t hear Scott Brown say (i.e. the truth) about his tax record

By Jason A. Stephany

This summer, US Senator Scott Brown delivered what his office claimed would be a “major policy speech” on taxes. To the surprise of few in Massachusetts, Brown’s remarks turned out to be nothing more than the stereotypical, failed tax rhetoric of his Republican colleagues in Washington. More telling were the facts Brown failed to mention about his voting record on taxes. Here are five true statements we didn’t hear from the junior senator in Randolph:

1. “I voted to give tax breaks to companies that ship jobs overseas.”

Scott Brown voted to filibuster the Creating American Jobs & Ending Offshoring Act, a bill would have ended tax breaks for companies that outsource jobs or build plants and offices offshore to replace American facilities. The vote came as thousands of American workers face impending layoffs while training their replacements from China, India, and elsewhere. (US Senate roll call vote #242, 9/28/10)

2. “I gave $24 billion of your tax dollars to Big Oil.”

In the face of drastic budget cuts, Scott Brown voted three times to give more than $24 billion in taxpayer funds to the oil industry over the next decade. The top five Big Oil companies – BP, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobil and Royal Dutch Shell – are amongst the most profitable corporations in the world, posting $137 billion in profits in 2011 alone. (US Senate roll call votes #187 6/15/10; #72, 5/17/11; #63, 3/29/12)

3. “I’d really like to take more money out of your paycheck.”

Scott Brown voted to filibuster legislation to extend the payroll tax cut for working families – holding low and middle income workers hostage to shield the wealthiest Americans from a small surtax on income over $1 million. In effect, Brown cast a deciding vote to raise taxes on 113 million working families. In Massachusetts, the surtax would have affected just 0.6% of taxpayers with an average income of more than $2 million. (US Senate roll call vote #219, 12/1/11)

4. “I support tax breaks for millionaires…just not middle class or low-income families.”

Three times in 2010 and again in 2012, Scott Brown voted to kill measures that would extend tax cuts for the middle class. Like his vote for payroll tax hikes, Brown used the same rationale to justify his votes to raise taxes on middle and low-income families: those making $250,000 to $1 million or more each year shouldn’t have to pay their fair share like the rest of his Massachusetts constituents. (US Senate roll call votes #258 & #259, 12/4/10; #275, 12/15/10; #184, 7/25/12)

5. “I filibustered tax credits and loans that help small businesses grow and create jobs.”

Despite his claims of supporting job creators, Scott Brown repeatedly filibustered and opposed major legislation that helps small businesses grown and create jobs. Brown twice voted to filibuster the Small Business Jobs & Credit Act – a bill that connected growing small businesses to credit through community banks and offered significant tax credits to small firms that create American jobs. When his filibuster failed, Brown voted again to kill the legislation. The Massachusetts Bankers Association stated that failure to act on the bill “would be a missed opportunity that our struggling economy cannot afford.” (US Senate roll call votes #218 & #221, 7/29/10; #237, 9/14/10)

Per usual, Senator Brown took no questions from constituents or reporters, ducking out a back door immediately following his speech.

**************************
Scott Brown voted against President Obama’s health care plan 3 times. Then he insured his daughter under the very plan he voted against.

From The Boston Globe:

By Glen Johnson THE BOSTON GLOBE

“U.S. Sen. Scott Brown, who won office vowing to be the 41st vote to block President Obama’s health care law and who has since voted three times to repeal it, acknowledged Monday that he takes advantage of it to keep his elder daughter on his congressional health insurance plan.

” ”Of course I do,” the Massachusetts Republican told the Globe.

“Brown is insuring his daughter Ayla, a professional singer who is 23 years old, under a widely popular provision of the law requiring that family plans cover children up to age 26.

“Brown said the extended use of his congressional coverage is not inconsistent with his criticism of the federal law, enacted over his objection after he won a special election in 2010, because the same coverage could be required by individual states.

“On the campaign trail this year, Brown has said he still wants to repeal the law, which he argues is inferior to the health care law enacted by Massachusetts in 2006.

” ”I’ve said right from the beginning, that if there are things that we like, we should take advantage of them and bring them back here to Massachusetts,” the senator said.

“As to whether the federal law should be repealed or rewritten, Brown replied: “I’ve already voted to repeal it. You know where I stand on this. This isn’t news.”

“His political opponent said that Brown is being hypocritical.

” ”Sen. Scott Brown has gone Washington,” said Alethea Harney, spokeswoman for Democrat Elizabeth Warren.

” “He says he likes being able to keep his daughter on the family health insurance plan. What he doesn’t say is that he voted to stop other parents from doing the same.” “

*********************

Brown’s daughter, according to the Globe article, is a “former “American Idol” contestant” who “has worked as a correspondent for the CBS “Early Show” and is a professional singer.”

The Globe states: “Brown’s younger daughter, Arianna, is 21 and graduating after just three years at Syracuse University. She, too, will be able to keep her coverage under the congressional plan through the Obama law.

” ”I’ve always said that I love covering my daughter until 26 years old,” Brown said in an interview … .“

Pathetic.

– R. Tirella

******************************

Unemployed workers share Scott Brown’s anti-jobs record

Worcester – Unemployed constituents from the Worcester area sent a loud-and-clear message to US Senator Scott Brown yesterday at Worcester State University: “We won’t be fooled.”

 Dozens of out-of-work residents gathered at the Bay State Jobs Fair to share the junior senator’s multitude of votes against jobs with event attendees. The cast of concerned job-seekers fanned out across the campus, ensuring that area residents knew the truth about Brown’s eight votes to end employment benefits.

They spread the word about Brown’s vote to gut 400,000 jobs for teachers, fire fighters and police officers across the country, as well as his vote to keep 11,000 construction workers in the unemployment line.

And they were sure to point out that Scott Brown did all that while protecting tax breaks for corporations that ship our jobs overseas.

With Scott Brown already stamping out more than two million jobs in less than two years, unemployed constituents promised to carry their public education effort to future job-related events hosted by the senator or his staff.

 

The Self-Destruction of the 1‏%

Excellent op ed piece from the New York Times. We have made some paragraphs bold. – R. T.

By CHRYSTIA FREELAND

Published in The New York Times: October 14, 2012

IN the early 14th century, Venice was one of the richest cities in Europe. At the heart of its economy was the colleganza, a basic form of joint-stock company created to finance a single trade expedition. The brilliance of the colleganza was that it opened the economy to new entrants, allowing risk-taking entrepreneurs to share in the financial upside with the established businessmen who financed their merchant voyages.

Venice’s elites were the chief beneficiaries. Like all open economies, theirs was turbulent. Today, we think of social mobility as a good thing. But if you are on top, mobility also means competition. In 1315, when the Venetian city-state was at the height of its economic powers, the upper class acted to lock in its privileges, putting a formal stop to social mobility with the publication of the Libro d’Oro, or Book of Gold, an official register of the nobility. If you weren’t on it, you couldn’t join the ruling oligarchy.

The political shift, which had begun nearly two decades earlier, was so striking a change that the Venetians gave it a name: La Serrata, or the closure. It wasn’t long before the political Serrata became an economic one, too. Under the control of the oligarchs, Venice gradually cut off commercial opportunities for new entrants. Eventually, the colleganza was banned. The reigning elites were acting in their immediate self-interest, but in the longer term, La Serrata was the beginning of the end for them, and for Venetian prosperity more generally. By 1500, Venice’s population was smaller than it had been in 1330. In the 17th and 18th centuries, as the rest of Europe grew, the city continued to shrink.

The story of Venice’s rise and fall is told by the scholars Daron Acemoglu and James A. Robinson, in their book “Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity, and Poverty,” as an illustration of their thesis that what separates successful states from failed ones is whether their governing institutions are inclusive or extractive. Extractive states are controlled by ruling elites whose objective is to extract as much wealth as they can from the rest of society. Inclusive states give everyone access to economic opportunity; often, greater inclusiveness creates more prosperity, which creates an incentive for ever greater inclusiveness.

The history of the United States can be read as one such virtuous circle. But as the story of Venice shows, virtuous circles can be broken. Elites that have prospered from inclusive systems can be tempted to pull up the ladder they climbed to the top. Eventually, their societies become extractive and their economies languish.

That was the future predicted by Karl Marx, who wrote that capitalism contained the seeds of its own destruction. And it is the danger America faces today, as the 1 percent pulls away from everyone else and pursues an economic, political and social agenda that will increase that gap even further – ultimately destroying the open system that made America rich and allowed its 1 percent to thrive in the first place.

You can see America’s creeping Serrata in the growing social and, especially, educational chasm between those at the top and everyone else. At the bottom and in the middle, American society is fraying, and the children of these struggling families are lagging the rest of the world at school.

Economists point out that the woes of the middle class are in large part a consequence of globalization and technological change. Culture may also play a role. In his recent book on the white working class, the libertarian writer Charles Murray blames the hollowed-out middle for straying from the traditional family values and old-fashioned work ethic that he says prevail among the rich (whom he castigates, but only for allowing cultural relativism to prevail).

There is some truth in both arguments. But the 1 percent cannot evade its share of responsibility for the growing gulf in American society. Economic forces may be behind the rising inequality, but as Peter R. Orszag, President Obama’s former budget chief, told me, public policy has exacerbated rather than mitigated these trends.

Even as the winner-take-all economy has enriched those at the very top, their tax burden has lightened. Tolerance for high executive compensation has increased, even as the legal powers of unions have been weakened and an intellectual case against them has been relentlessly advanced by plutocrat-financed think tanks. In the 1950s, the marginal income tax rate for those at the top of the distribution soared above 90 percent, a figure that today makes even Democrats flinch. Meanwhile, of the 400 richest taxpayers in 2009, 6 paid no federal income tax at all, and 27 paid 10 percent or less. None paid more than 35 percent.

Historically, the United States has enjoyed higher social mobility than Europe, and both left and right have identified this economic openness as an essential source of the nation’s economic vigor. But several recent studies have shown that in America today it is harder to escape the social class of your birth than it is in Europe. The Canadian economist Miles Corak has found that as income inequality increases, social mobility falls – a phenomenon Alan B. Krueger, the chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, has called the Great Gatsby Curve.

Educational attainment, which created the American middle class, is no longer rising. The super-elite lavishes unlimited resources on its children, while public schools are starved of funding. This is the new Serrata. An elite education is increasingly available only to those already at the top. Bill Clinton and Barack Obama enrolled their daughters in an exclusive private school; I’ve done the same with mine.

At the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, earlier this year, I interviewed Ruth Simmons, then the president of Brown. She was the first African-American to lead an Ivy League university and has served on the board of Goldman Sachs. Dr. Simmons, a Harvard-trained literature scholar, worked hard to make Brown more accessible to poor students, but when I asked whether it was time to abolish legacy admissions, the Ivy League’s own Book of Gold, she shrugged me off with a laugh: “No, I have a granddaughter. It’s not time yet.”

America’s Serrata also takes a more explicit form: the tilting of the economic rules in favor of those at the top. The crony capitalism of today’s oligarchs is far subtler than Venice’s. It works in two main ways.

The first is to channel the state’s scarce resources in their own direction. This is the absurdity of Mitt Romney’s comment about the “47 percent” who are “dependent upon government.” The reality is that it is those at the top, particularly the tippy-top, of the economic pyramid who have been most effective at capturing government support – and at getting others to pay for it.

Exhibit A is the bipartisan, $700 billion rescue of Wall Street in 2008. Exhibit B is the crony recovery. The economists Emmanuel Saez and Thomas Piketty found that 93 percent of the income gains from the 2009-10 recovery went to the top 1 percent of taxpayers. The top 0.01 percent captured 37 percent of these additional earnings, gaining an average of $4.2 million per household.

The second manifestation of crony capitalism is more direct: the tax perks, trade protections and government subsidies that companies and sectors secure for themselves. Corporate pork is a truly bipartisan dish: green energy companies and the health insurers have been winners in this administration, as oil and steel companies were under George W. Bush’s.

The impulse of the powerful to make themselves even more so should come as no surprise. Competition and a level playing field are good for us collectively, but they are a hardship for individual businesses. Warren E. Buffett knows this. “A truly great business must have an enduring ‘moat’ that protects excellent returns on invested capital,” he explained in his 2007 annual letter to investors. “Though capitalism’s ‘creative destruction’ is highly beneficial for society, it precludes investment certainty.” Microsoft attempted to dig its own moat by simply shutting out its competitors, until it was stopped by the courts. Even Apple, a huge beneficiary of the open-platform economy, couldn’t resist trying to impose its own inferior map app on buyers of the iPhone 5.

Businessmen like to style themselves as the defenders of the free market economy, but as Luigi Zingales, an economist at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, argued, “Most lobbying is pro-business, in the sense that it promotes the interests of existing businesses, not pro-market in the sense of fostering truly free and open competition.” …. .

To read the entire piece, click on the link below:

http://mobile.nytimes.com/article?a=983921&f=28&sub=Sunday

For Two Economists, the Buffett Rule Is Just a Start

From The New York Times:

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/17/business/for-economists-saez-and-piketty-the-buffett-rule-is-just-a-start.html?_r=1

Other great stories from the Inter-web!!  – R.T.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/16/puppy-protection-act-michigan-breeders-puppy-mills_n_1428512.html

http://www.npr.org/2012/04/13/150567665/newark-mayor-enters-fire-in-come-to-jesus-moment?sc=tw

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-17679417

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/12/us/antibiotics-for-livestock-will-require-prescription-fda-says.html

#99TaxDay: 1,500 take to Boston streets to call out Corporate & 1% Tax Dodgers!

Wednesday, April 18

As deadline looms for low-income and middle class families, mass march and rally shine a light on the companies and CEOs whose Tax Day never comes

  

BOSTON – Upwards of 1,500 Massachusetts taxpayers took to the streets of Boston’s Financial District Tuesday, Tax Day, to demand major corporations and the wealthiest 1% pay their fair share to fund our communities. The massive demonstration came as part of a growing, nationwide wave of discontent against big corporations, the rich, and politicians who have created an economic emergency for the 99% through rampant tax dodging.

As deadlines loomed for millions of low-income and middle class families across Massachusetts, dozens of neighborhood-based actions called out major corporate tax dodgers whose “Tax Day” never seems to come. Fed-up residents from Dorchester to the North Shore later converged on the Financial District, calling out the Hub’s most egregious corporate tax dodgers – General Electric, State Street, Bank of America, Fidelity, Verizon and Wells Fargo. Demonstrators presented the infamous gang of tax dodgers with overdue bills for billions in unpaid tax subsidies, handing the invoices to masked “corporate pigs” bearing the logos of offending corporations.

Advocates called for a new, fairer tax system where our hard-earned tax dollars are no longer spent on unnecessary wars and corporate welfare, but instead invested in the vital job creation, healthcare, transit and education programs that keep our communities healthy and sustainable.

“We need these tax dodgers to understand that we’re fed up, and we won’t stand for it anymore,” said Lissy Romanow, who came to the rally with a large group of fellow Lynn residents. “Working families have been carrying an increasing burden for too long – it’s time for big corporations and the 1% to do their part to fund our communities.”

More than 30 community, labor and peace groups joined together for the #99TaxDay of action – including MASSUNITING, Right to the City, City Life/Vida Urbana, Massachusetts AFL-CIO, MoveOn.org and OccupyBoston. The diverse coalition was prompted to action by a new report from the non-partisan Institute on Taxation & Economic Policy and Citizens for Tax Justice, which reveals that many Bay State corporations are amongst the worst tax dodgers in America. The tax dodging policies of these companies have drained millions from the Massachusetts economy – forcing mass layoffs, slashing vital services, and closing schools and community centers.

“These corporations don’t care one bit about the services people depend on – whether it’s roads that need to be fixed or teachers in our schools,” said Tyrek Lee, Vice President of 1199 SEIU Massachusetts. “We’ve had enough of their tax dodging. It’s time that companies like GE and State Street pay their fair share, just like the rest of us do.”

The Worcester County Food Bank – helping local families make ends meet in a tough economy

By Jean McMurray

A recent visitor to the Worcester County Food Bank exclaimed, “I had no idea how big of an operation this was and everything that goes on inside to help people with food.” Two other recent visitors, a mother and her young son, also did not know what to expect when they came to the Food Bank. The stress was visible in her face and in her voice as she spoke. We offered them a seat in the office while a co-worker went to get a box of food containing cereal, peanut butter, rice, pasta, and a variety of canned goods. We also included some fresh fruits and vegetables. We spent some time talking about the food pantry in her neighborhood that could help her in the future as well as where she could go for help in applying for SNAP, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly known as food stamps. She thanked us and seemed relieved. As my co-worker went to place the food in her car, the little boy took his took his mother’s hand and said with a smile, “Look Mommy we’re rich again.”

All of the donations entrusted to the Food Bank during the course of a year have an immediate impact as the need for our services continues to be a reality for too many people in Worcester County. With unemployment at 8 percent in Worcester County, food is a fundamental need that people are struggling to meet. With the recession and the slow economic recovery, the Food Bank is distributing more food than ever before to its network of partner agencies including food pantries, community meals sites, and shelters.

In fiscal year 2011, the Food Bank and its network helped over 83,000 people, including 32,000 children under the age of 18. Every day, we speak with individuals and families experiencing economic and emotional hardship. People like the man who has been unemployed for a long time, his savings are gone and he’s eaten very little in the past three days and the husband and wife who work and care for elderly parents and their young children. Every day, we also appreciate hearing from thoughtful people who offer meaningful gifts in the form of food, funds, and volunteer time.
Although these economic times remain uncertain and difficult, the community’s support of the Food Bank has been steadfast and heartwarming. The Food Bank is only able to provide help because of the tremendous support we receive from many individuals, businesses, foundations, and organizations as well as the state and federal government.

This past year, over 335 volunteers provided nearly 5,000 hours of volunteer service in the Food Bank’s warehouse sorting through food donations, while checking for food safety. Hundreds of food donors contributed a total of 5.8 million pounds of food, which is enough food for approximately 86,000 meals a week. Of the food distributed by the Food Bank, the two highest categories were fresh fruits and vegetables and protein in the form of meat, fish, and poultry.
The community’s support sustains our efforts to be a reliable source of good food to our network of partner agencies and the people they assist at Thanksgiving and throughout the year. Help and hope are precious gifts at any time of year for a parent trying to provide for their family or a senior citizen trying to meet their basic needs.
As an organization, the Food Bank is an efficient network of agencies and a resourceful public-private partnership. However, over the last three years, we have been challenged by unprecedented demand and uncertainty over available food resources. Throughout the region, we have seen a 12 percent increase in the number of people helped since 2008.

As the U.S. Congress makes difficult decisions this year about our national priorities, it is imperative that they do not take food away from Americans in need. We must remember the families in Worcester County who are facing hunger and the important role that nutrition programs play in their health and well-being, especially for vulnerable children and seniors. Any loss in federal support for federal nutrition programs, like SNAP, due to budget cuts or as part of the deficit reduction plan would make it harder for families to recover from the recession and would result in a gap for food that will be difficult for the Food Bank to fill.

With unemployment still high, investing in anti-hunger programs is not only the right thing to do but also makes fiscal sense, as these programs allow us to care for our neighbors, build our communities and lead to savings in healthcare and education down the road.

Everyone can help protect the federal nutrition programs from cuts as Congress moves forward to implement the Budget Control Act of 2011. Our legislators need to know that the problem of hunger is solvable and an issue of social justice that we care about. Everyone can contribute to ending hunger by contacting their legislators about the harmful cuts to nutrition assistance programs and encouraging them to pass a budget that addresses the deficit while safeguarding safety net programs that protect our neighbors in need.

Becoming an anti-hunger advocate is easy to do by visiting Feeding America’s Hunger Action Center at www.hungeractioncenter.org or the Food Research and Action Center, www.frac.org. By signing up at one of these websites, you receive action alerts on federal issues affecting hungry Americas that can be forwarded to your members of Congress with a click of a mouse and you learn about federal programs that bring relief to the millions of America struggling with hunger, including the 33,000 households who turned to the Food Bank and its network of partner agencies in 2011 for help with feeding their families.

If you have been to the Worcester County Food Bank, then you know, like all of our visitors, that it is a unique place, a place where the community comes together to make incredible things happen – one advocate, one volunteer, one dollar, and one pound of food at a time. If you have not been to the Food Bank, we invite you to come visit us sometime soon, so you can see firsthand what we do and how the generosity of so many people is at work in the community.

Interesting website … MassCityStats

Interesting website. MassCityStats collates public safety, economic development, education and fiscal management data from the State of Massachusetts.

The folks from Pioneer generate a lot of unbiased information.

http://www.masscitystats.org/index.php

 

This could be sumptin’ for Worcester City Councilor Tony Economou. I think there’s a category called “forclosure abuse”! Take a seat, Tony, and peruse!!!

A 75th anniversary for the American Dream, a 25-year anniversary for me

A  letter from filmmaker Michael Moore …

Saturday, February 11th, 2012

Friends,

On this day 25 years ago, in 1987, I became a filmmaker. It was around ten in the morning and the first-ever roll of Kodak 16mm film for my first-ever movie was loaded into my friend’s camera to shoot the very first scene of ‘Roger & Me.’ I had no idea on that morning in Flint, Michigan what my life would be like after that, or what would happen to Flint, or to General Motors. It all felt fairly ominous, though — after all, GM, which was posting record profits at the time, was closing its first Flint factory (the first of what would become many) and unemployment in Flint had officially been listed as high as 29%. Surely things couldn’t get much worse.

That morning, 25 years ago today, a group of autoworkers had come together on the lawn of the soon-to-be-closed Buick-Oldsmobile-Cadillac assembly plant to raise their voices against the closing — and to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Great Flint Sit-Down Strike, which had begun at that very factory. That strike, in 1936-37, was actually an occupation. Hundreds of workers took over the factories in Flint and refused to leave for 44 days until GM capitulated and recognized their union. The strike inspired thousands of other workers across the country to stage their own occupations and, before you knew it, in the years to follow, factory workers were paid a living wage, with benefits, vacations, and a safe working place.

The middle class and the American Dream were born 75 years ago today, on February 11, 1937, the day the Flint workers won their struggle. And for the next 44 years, working people everywhere got to own their own homes, send their kids to college and never worry about going broke if they got sick. That belief, that life would be good if you were a good citizen and a hard worker, now seems out of reach for nearly half the country which is either living in or near poverty. Perhaps people wouldn’t mind it as much if the burden were being evenly shared. But everyone knows that’s not the case.

In a time of record personal bankruptcies, record home foreclosures, record family and student debt, there are a group of people having the best years of wealth and profit ever recorded in human history. And it is those very people who have made the decisions to export our jobs, to decimate unions, to make college unaffordable, to start wars and to pay themselves with gluttonous joy while paying little or no tax — this is the 1% that has created the burden so many Americans (and people around the world) now share.

And so, 75 years after the victory in Flint, the battle is now being fought all over again. But this time it’s not just about getting paid a dollar an hour, or having Sunday off, or reducing the chance of your hand being crushed in the metal stamping machine. This time, the stakes are even greater: Who is going to own America and control the basic functions of our democracy — the richest 1% who buy the politicians to get what they want, or the 99% who don’t have much these days and live in anxiety or fear of what’s around the bend.

I believe that justice will win out again, in the end, just as it did 75 years ago today in Flint in 1937.

I have no special plans to mark this day of anniversaries other than to post a short story I wrote called ‘Gratitude.’ You may have read it in my book, but if not, here it is to freely download and enjoy:

http://www.michaelmoore.com/words/must-read/gratitude

If you’d like to hear me read it in my own voice, click here:

http://www.michaelmoore.com/words/must-read/gratitude-audio

It tells, in part, the story of that day I first placed that roll of Kodak film into a movie camera. I am proud of the town I was born in, and I’m proud of my uncle who participated in the Sit-Down Strike. I am grateful to those of you who have gone to my movies over the years, and I thank all of you who have been inspired by the Occupy Wall Street movement to speak up on behalf of the 99%.

There’s no turning back now. Onward!

Yours,

Michael Moore