Price of Ignorance

June 2004


Our responsibility to ourselves and to our children is to see the current state of affairs with clarity and precision and to work for the goals we share with other working people.

Most Americans assume that American workers have it pretty good. It is true compared to many places in the world, such as third world countries. When you compare American workers to workers in other industrialized countries, they don't fare so well. We don't have the same access to health care or education. Our workers work longer hours for less pay. The United States leads the developed nations in the percentage of working families whose children live in poverty. UNICEF reports that there are more "children at risk" in our country than in any other developed nation. American workers lack basic rights to unionize that workers in other developed nations have taken for granted for more than two generations.

And things are not improving for American workers. More and more skilled workers are being driven into service sector jobs that pay less and strip them of the satisfaction they received from practicing a craft. The Bush Administration has relentlessly rolled back workplace safety regulations and compliance inspections. These policies have taken, and will continue to take, a heavy toll on the American working population, and it is the American taxpayers who will have to bear the cost of these "economies."

The "free and unbiased" media in this country fails to report on labor conditions in other countries unless they are horrific. One might conclude from watching our responsible press that only in America do people have decent working conditions or living wages. This is no accident. When people feel that they have the best deal going, they don't push as hard for anything else. When they see the desperate conditions of workers in third world countries, they are justifiably grateful for the good deal they have.

The fact is that times have never been better for the wealthy owners and senior executives of corporate America in these "tough times." They're earning 200 times the income of their average worker (50 times the ratio between the execs and workers in the 1950s), they're paying less in taxes, and they are held less and less liable for their corporation's misbehavior. These are some of the other facts that are consistently underreported in the U.S. press.

We American workers need to wake up and take a long hard look at the events of the last dozen years. We need to evaluate our working conditions not compared to the very worst conditions on the planet, but in comparison to other industrialized societies. When we see that we are not receiving our fair due, we need to speak up -- yes we need to take some risks. We're engaged in a real struggle with people who are very well organized and disciplined. If we do not work with equal dedication and perseverance in our own interests, then we will find that our children will have working lives much more like those in the third world and much less like what we have grown to expect as citizens of the richest and most powerful nation on Earth.

If you are interested in exploring some of the issues affecting today's workers, you owe it to yourself to visit the Citizens of Sensible Safeguards web site: . It contains a wealth of information about how special interests are benefitting themselves at the expense of the public good.

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