In Defense of Public WorkersMarch 8, 2011
Roger Hickey of the Campaign for America’s Future explains why public workers are paying for the mistakes made by Wall Street.
>>> well, today, some new protests in defense of unions and collective bargaining spreading across the midwest. workers and labor leaders gathering in michigan, ohio and wisconsin to protect bills that would void union contracts or slash bargaining rights. keep in mind, this is all about public workers continuing to be asked to pay for wall street’s crime against their pensions. filmmaker michael moore hit the nail on the head at a rally in madison.
>> this has been transferred in the greatest heist in history, from the workers and consumers to the banks and the portfolios of the uber rich. those in charge have diverted that wealth into a deep well that sits on their well-guarded estates. they know. they know that they have committed crimes to make this happen.
>> the greatest robbery and cover-up in american history. it’s been ongoing for years now. the question is, why is no one paying for it? and who should pay for it? the people who did it? the rich in general? or maybe we should just take it out on the teachers and cops. which seems fair to you? joining us now, roger hickey, co-director of the campaign for america’s future, a group dedicated to finding long-term solutions to america’s jobs crisis. thursday, they’re holding a summit in washington on this very subject. and what do you think is the best way to go about this?
>> well, michael moore had it right, the conservatives are telling us that america is broke. we’re not broke. we just gave a massive tax cut to the richest people in america. so, our jobs summit on thursday, which we invite you to come to, dylan — you’re our leader.
>> we need a jobs movement that will take back some of that money from the very wealthy and invest it in job creation. washington, d.c., hasn’t got it yet. the number one priority of the american people, as you found on your tour around the country, is jobs. it’s not cutting the deficit. it’s not cutting education programs, which the republicans are trying to do now. it’s investing in short-term and long-term efforts to get our country fully employed. and that’s what we’re going to be talking about at this conference on thursday.
>> i appreciate that invitation, first off. the best i can identify the problem is like this. there are small groups of very special interests, whether it’s in the banking industry, certain multinational corporations that are long china, the oil industry or the military complex having to do with the middle east, that are making obscene sums of money, as money by the trillion flies out of this country to the middle east, to china, et cetera. you and i both know you cannot have jobs if you do not have investment in your country.
>> that’s right. and you’ve talked about the financial rip-offs, the huge wall street gambling casino that has turned wall street not into a way to finance jobs and productive investment, it’s turned it into an opportunity to get massively rich while screwing the rest of us. so, we’ve got to find revenue for out of those people who have benefited so much. but we’ve also got to have ideas about turning this economy around. right now, the republicans who are in the pay of those people are cutting programs that are essential to our competitiveness and our job creation– education, investment in infrastructure. that is going to goldman sachs. one of the criminals up there has said that that’s going to cut the growth rate of the united states in half. so, one of the things that we’ve got to do right now is to stop the stupid policies that are making the economy worse.
>> right. i couldn’t agree with that more. where do you see the most leverage? so, we can take me and my coalition and this show and you guys — there’s a lot of folks out there, both from the ron paul camp, michael moore– there are a lot of folks that have meaningful followings and leadership roles that agree with what you and i are discussing right now, but it appears that we have an organizational barrier to having effective impact on policy. do you see a next step for organization and impact?
>> well, this kind of effort always comes from the bottom up. i think what’s happening in wisconsin has really inspired people, that you can say no to people like the coke brothers, you can say no to people like the governor up there who wants to cut education just after he’s given a massive tax cut to the corporations in wisconsin. we’ve got to build a bottom-up movement around things like investing in infrastructure and taxing the wealthy. every poll that you see says that we made a bad mistake in letting those tax cuts, the bush tax cuts, continue. people don’t like the idea that we’re having to tighten our belts and the wealthy are getting to take their ill-gotten gains off to the offshore islands. it’s time for us to invest in the country, and reversing the bush tax cuts would be one of the best ways to finance that immediate investment. long term, we’ve got to do the kinds of things that you want to do, revise the financial system so that it’s productive. we’ve got to invest in technologies that are now being developed only in china. we’ve got to get green jobs going and new driving force for long-term job creation.
>> and first thing, it seems, we have to do is break the stranglehold that the trillion-dollar special interests have on both political parties.
>> that’s absolutely right. this next election has got to be a referendum on who has the better plan, not only for breaking the backs of the special interests and their hold on politics, it’s got to be who’s got the best plan for jobs in america.
>> the last election, obama said have faith, believe it, the economy is getting better. the republicans said send me to washington and i’ll slash the government and i’ll create jobs. neither of those is working, and now we’ve got to test both political parties to see which one of them has a plan for jobs.
>> that’s exactly right, roger, and i compliment you on your undertaking and i thank you for your praise for what we do.
>> get in the bus and come on down on thursday.
>> we’ll do it. see you on thursday.
>> all right, roger, thank you. roger hickey, co-director for the campaign for america’s future. the event this thursday, a job summit discussing long-term solutions to this crisis.