I love the line of Jefferson Smith from “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington”: “I wouldn’t give you two cents for all your fancy rules if, behind them, they didn’t have a little bit of plain, ordinary, everyday kindness and a little looking out for the other fella, too.” Yesterday Bernie Sanders, the independent senator from Vermont, looked out for the middle class, the other fella, and fought the good fight for a lost cause, a decent income and quality of life for the middle class in America.
In his eight hour filibuster, Bernie argues that (4) banks control the financial capital of our nation. And because they are so big, they are too big to fail, meaning if they continue to fail in the future, we will have to bail them out once again.
He speaks out against NAFTA, citing CEOs of major corporations intending to transfer their entire operations to China, denigrating the aptitude and capability of the American worker. He cites that cheap labor of 11.5 cents an hour in India has resulted in the transfer of the textile industry to that country.
He concludes that Obama’s tax deal will not create jobs here in our country. He quotes endless CEOs stating that they will continue to transfer more jobs overseas because of the low wages and the better training, education, and attitudes of workers there. Further, he argues, that the rich are loaded with money, and they and the (4) big financial institutions will not invest in businesses here in the US.
Yes, this is drama and high theatre. This is the stuff of a Frank Capra movie, of “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington”, of Jefferson Smith taking on the Taylors and their political machine, including senators like Joseph Paine.
What will become of this filibuster? Nothing. The powers of our nation have already determined the fate of the tax bill: a few add-ons for ethanol and the like to appease the opposing Congressional Democrats so that they can substantiate to their constituents their vote for the tax bill. Obama brought in his big gun, Bill Clinton, the advocate of NAFTA, to rally the troops today. A tax bill giving the 2% their tax cuts will pass next week, if not on Monday. Sanders’ all day filibuster sadly is all for nothing. Too few are listening; too few care.
The middle class, spawned out of the Roosevelt era, will soon cease to be. There will just be the 5% owning 95% of the wealth, and then the 95% owning very little, if anything. Soon the minimum wage of $7.50/hour may be abolished. Soon people will be searching for jobs for $5/hour. I have been approached by several graduating students begging to work for me for free. I was approached by a brilliant young lady, who passed the CPA exam on her first sitting, willing to work part-time for me for free in order to obtain her certification. And I saw an ad run by a graduate of an MBA program willing to work for free.
I agree with Bernie: that the tax cuts for the rich will not increase jobs in this country. Why? These tax cuts are in place now and have been before and during the rise in our unemployment. Jobs will continue to go to Asia because of the Malthusian economics at play: people are willing to work for so much less than our minimum wage. Investors here, including the rich and the (4) big banks, will continue to invest in Asia and India, since the return on their monies is so much better there. Once this tax deal is finalized, I, too, feel that you will hear more talk about the minimum wage being lowered or abolished along with social security, medicare, and the like. I fear that we may be returning to the years of America before FDR, the Taylor and Potter years, when a middle class did not exist, where a majority of Americans rented rather than owned a home, where the vast majority could not afford to go to college, where many desperately sought work, even jobs offering a pittance for wages. Don’t believe me? Look around: it has already begun.
And what will happen to our fees? Will they fall? They certainly won’t increase. Look at the P&Ls of your clients this year. It’s happening already.
It’s simple economics, fostered by the politics in Washington.
I guess this is just another lost cause, Bernie Sanders. Do you remember Jefferson Smith’s culminating words in the Senate chamber before he collapsed? “Lost causes” are “the only causes worth fighting for. And you fight for them once, for the only reason any man ever fights for them; because of just one plain simple rule: ‘Love thy neighbor.’… And you know that you fight for the lost causes harder than for any other. Yes, you even die for them.”
Yesterday, you alone in America fought the good fight for a lost cause, Bernie. I thank you.