Letter to the editor: Time to curb power of big business

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In California, Oregon and Washington, 30,000 Kaiser Permanente health care workers have given management a legally required 10-day notice that they intended to go on strike.


To the editor:

Over the past 40 years in this country, there has been a massive transfer of wealth from the middle class and working families to the very wealthiest people in America.

As a result, half of our people are living paycheck to paycheck, 500,000 of the very poorest among us are homeless, and far too many families from coast to coast are worried about how they are going to feed their kids. And, most obscenely, low-income Americans now have a life expectancy about 15 years lower than the wealthy.

While working families struggle, the people on top have never had it so good. The top 1% now owns more than the bottom 90%. And while millions of Americans lost their jobs and income during the pandemic, more than 600 billionaires saw their wealth increase by more than $1 trillion.

And it is no coincidence that the decline of the American middle class virtually mirrors the rapid decline of unions in this country. As workers lose their seats at the negotiating table the share of national income going to the very wealthy has gone up, while the percentage of workers’ income has gone down.

That there is a growing gap between the very rich and working people in this country is nothing new.

That workers are doing something about it is new. All over this country, coast to coast, we are seeing a resurgence of union activism. Workers are fighting back!

You will recall that in the two years before the pandemic, school teachers from Arizona, California, Colorado, North Carolina, Oklahoma and West Virginia all went on strike. They fought for smaller classes and decent wages, for nurses, counselors and librarians in their schools, and against a coordinated effort from billionaires on the right to make money by privatizing public education.

Recently, I wrote about coal miners in Alabama who have been on strike for months after losing wages, holidays, paid time off, medical care and their pensions.

I wrote about Kellogg’s factory workers in Michigan, Tennessee, Pennsylvania and Nebraska who have been on strike since earlier this month fighting against a plan to give new workers lower wages and inferior benefits.

I wrote about the John Deere workers who are now on strike, who are fighting for decent wages, pensions and retirement and health care benefits.

Together, as a result of your generosity, we raised more than $170,000 for strike funds for those workers, most of which has already been distributed.

Today I want you to know about another struggle in which workers are standing up and fighting for justice and fighting for us. In California, Oregon and Washington, 30,000 Kaiser Permanente workers have given management a legally required 10-day notice that they intended to go on strike.

These workers are pharmacists, physician assistants, occupational therapists, nurses and other health care personnel.

In other words, they are the heroes and heroines of the pandemic. They are the folks saving our lives.

As these health care workers risked their own lives to keep us safe during the pandemic — and continue to do so today — Kaiser has made more than $10 billion. Meanwhile, the current CEO of Kaiser makes millions of dollars per year and the former CEO received a retirement package of $35 million.

Question: If Kaiser can provide exorbitant compensation to their CEOs, why can’t they pay their employees better wages?

Frankly, the offer Kaiser made to their employees is an embarrassment — a small raise for existing employees and a pay cut for new employees which would create a two-tier wage system. This at a time when hospitals face inadequate staffing levels all across the country and health care workers are under enormous stress.

Now is not the time to cut pay for health care professionals. It is a time to provide better pay and working conditions in order to attract more health care professionals. This would result in better health care outcomes for everyone.

A win-win-win.

But that would impact Kaiser’s bottom line, and therein lies the rub. After all, the business establishment in this country is really not particularly concerned about the well-being of their workers. They are, however, deeply concerned about profit margins, stockholder dividends and CEO compensation.

Today let us proudly stand with the health care workers at Kaiser Permanente. These health care workers are there for us during the pandemic. They are there when our babies are born, when we are struggling with disease and when our loved ones die. They are fighting not only for the rights of their members, but also for their patients. They want high-quality care in hospitals wherever they work.

Health care workers stand with us when we need their help. Today let us support them when they need our help. Let us stand with the workers at Kaiser Permanente who are preparing to strike.

U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders
Burlington, Vermont

8 COMMENTS

  1. I’d listen to Bernie more if he hadn’t become a millionaire with multiple homes all by being a politician his entire life. How come we, as a nation, got so broke while he got so rich?

    • The “Brenda Spittsman” who made this comment used a fake email address. Normally, such comments go directly into the trash because anonymous comments or those made using false identities are prohibited on ThePerryNews.com. In this case, however, the moderator approved it because it helps to illustrate a very common weakness or error in the thinking of all such Brendas. Benda says that she dismisses Sen. Sanders’ argument about the rich because he himself is rich. Brenda’s remark is akin to dismissing the claims of the attendees at COP26 because they traveled to the conference in airplanes, thus emitting greenhouse gases and, by implication, nullifying their own arguments against greenhouse gases. Brenda implies that Sen. Sanders and the COP26 delegates are hypocrites, as if only the poor can criticize the rich and only non-greenhouse-gas emitters may criticize greenhouse gas emissions. Brenda’s claim is obviously false. It rests on a logical fallacy called the ad hominem argument, which thinks that an argument can be refuted by attacking the person who is making the argument. But arguments cannot be refuted in that way although they might raise doubts in minds as weak as that of “Brenda Spittsman.” Brenda might really believe she has scored a strong point or even silenced Sen. Sanders’ argument with her comment. It is also possible that Brenda made her ad hominem comment in bad faith, that is, she knows it is wrong but hopes to mislead others with it. We judge such bad-faith comments to be akin to lying, and if there is one thing ThePerryNews.com detests, it is liars.

      Maybe the point that “Brenda Spittsman” is trying to make is not so much that Sen. Sanders is rich as that he is a career politician who is rich and, after all, Ronald Reagan said that government is the problem and not the solution. (But then Reagan said this as the head of government, which is like leaving a carbon footprint on your way to COP26.) If so, then Brenda is using the same fallacious ad hominem argument as before.

      “Brenda Spittsman” begins by saying, “I’d listen to Bernie more if . . . ,” but we suspect that Brenda would not listen to Bernie no matter what his income and occupation were. Brenda ends with a question that needs to be reframed thus: “How come we, as the 1%, got so rich while the 90% got so poor?” Sen. Sanders and others have offered pretty clear and convincing answers to this question, and that is where the useful comments on Sen. Sanders’ letter should begin and not with comments as fake as the Brenda making them.

  2. People use anonymity because commies like yourself try to cancel people and destroy there lives for posting the truth. You cant even call males men on some platforms without being banned. You shouldn’t have to be added to some registry to post here. Well not if you want to know what Perry people really think. But that’s not really what this site is for, it’s so you can your commie buddies can spread propaganda that could easily be disproved if it were not for the shield of cancel culture you hide behind.

    Why does it matter if it is anonymous? I see posts from out of town and out of state. A local anonymous person’s opinion matters more than a millionaire commies comment that won’t even live by the propaganda he spreads.

    I personally quite enjoy reading it as I know I will get some good laughs at those like Mr. Eakins and yourself.

    Wouldn’t put it past you to be Brenda as you “let” this post be posted so you could use it in your response.

    Also don’t talk in the 3rd person its creepy.

    • For the sake of my blood pressure, mental health and spiritual well being, I minimize my exposure to political toxins and unsavory commentaries by staying away from the circus now and then. Therefore, I only now became aware of the most recent turbulence here. Even when I do keep up with things, I see no need of responding to every comment. My skin is much thicker than it was in my youth. Enough of that, though. If Death has seen fit to mention my name, I’ll indulge him with a bit of my attention whether he deserves it or not.

      So Death, what’s your next pseudonym of the week going to be? Also, anyone who uses Death as a pen name has no room to call out anyone about being creepy. Also, what kind of inference are you making with such a nom de plume? What are we to make of this, your most recent self proclaimed identity? Tell us the truth. Is there some manner of implied threat you’re trying to convey? I ask that as your inappropriate and uncalled for “commie” epithet reinforces the notion of a latent threat underlying your toxic tone.

      So tell us, just how far are you willing to go with all of this? What are you capable of, Death? Explain yourself. If we aren’t allowed to know who you are, indulge us by letting us know just what you are. What is your intent, Death? What are we to make of your most recent bloviations?

  3. Brenda is anonymous because you research those who disagree with you. Why do you do that? Are you looking for something, anything to use against those who disagree? It’s actually kind of creepy that you do a name-search of social media of those who reply to letters here. Do you also check criminal records too? Yet you wonder why a fake name is used…

    • “Also don’t talk in the 3rd person its creepy.” You are probably trying to refer to our use of the editorial we. It is merely conventional. And it is a question of number and not a question of person. That is, I think you are a loudmouth jackass and We think you are a loudmouth jackass are sentences that differ in their subjects’ number.

      But let’s get this straight: You are claiming that you use a fake troll name because of “commies” who “research those who disagree with” them and “try to cancel people and destroy [their] lives for posting the truth.” And that’s why you use a fake troll name? Your truth is cowardly.

      According to you, “A local anonymous person’s opinion matters more than a millionaire commies comment that won’t even live by the propaganda he spreads.” Maybe so, but think how much more that local anonymous person’s opinion would matter if she stood bravely by her own words instead of hiding behind a fake troll name like a loudmouth jackass.

      No, our use of the editorial we is not “creepy,” as you put it, but what is creepy is the cowardliness of a creeping troll whose head is stuffed with right-wing gibberish and stale grievances. You mistake your garden-variety ignorance and bigotry for some sort of dangerous truth and laughably overestimate its value and importance by supposing that anyone would bother to “research” or “cancel” you for it.

  4. Thank you, Mr. Caufield.

    I appreciate that you have published Sen. Sanders’ editorial here. The Senator is on point with his assessment of wealth disparity in this country. He has been fighting the good fight all his life, but I don’t know if we will ever live to see his just world. I am grateful for even the smallest of victories.

    I am also grateful for your efforts here in The Perry News. In a world awash in hyperbole, misspellings, lies and propaganda, I find your writing insightful, your moderation fair and your editing world-class. Perry is fortunate to have The Perry News as its hometown newspaper, and we are all the better for your dedication and hard work.

    • Thank you for your very kind words, Mr. Romanowski, which themselves seem to threaten to spill over into the hyperbole so characteristic of America’s commercial culture. Thank you for reading The Perry News. We are pleased to know our humble efforts meet with more than contempt and captious sneers. As Dostoyevsky said, “The best definition of man is the ungrateful biped.”

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