The Gerecke Files: Pithy Polemics Over the Summer

Bob Gerecke, a master of the Pithy Polemic, has produced a crop of them for this issue of Progressive Democracy.

Do as They Do (BG)
Conservatives talk and write as if it is legitimate for businesses to maximize their profits but somehow illegitimate for employees to maximize their compensation. Since unions are effective at improving employees' wages and benefits, conservatives demonize unions. They have done so repeatedly for decades, and this drumbeat of smearing unions has paid off. Today unions are weak, and employees are not participating in the burgeoning profits which their work creates for their employers.

Conservatives also demonize socialism, which for them includes any public benefits to anyone except businesses, and they want everyone to worship capitalism's dog-eat-dog competition. OK, let's play that game. Capitalists organize and join together in corporations and partnerships to maximize profit. Employees should act like capitalists: organize by joining existing unions or forming new ones; then bargain hard to maximize wages and benefits. With unemployment low and employers needing workers, employees are in a strong position. Now is the time! If not now, when?

Employees' demands should include profit-sharing. After all, since conservatives have taught us to worship profit, lets all practice their religion. And receive its blessings.

Socialism Is Back (BG)
The dictionary definition of "socialism" is public (rather than
investor) ownership and management of production, e.g., factories and

However, for decades American conservatives have denounced as "socialism" all aspects of the social safety net and many
other public benefits to the non-wealthy, as well as limits on the power
of financial institutions and other businesses to cheat their customers,
of employers to abuse, underpay and endanger their workers, and of
businesses to foul the environment. Conservatives have intentionally and
misleadingly associated public protections with Soviet Communism, which
was oppressive and inefficient, unlike the socialism-capitalism blend of
western European countries, which is democratic and which makes their
citizens economically secure, prosperous, healthy, educated and happy.

This drumbeat of conservative propaganda has finally backfired. Liberals
and many young people now equate well-being with socialism. Liberal
candidates, beginning with Presidential hopeful Senator Bernie Sanders,
have begun publicly accepting the label "socialist". Many members of
the younger working-age generation now view western European socialism
more favorably than our country's brand of extreme capitalism which has
resulted in huge inequality of wealth and income and in a lack of upward
mobility and even economic security for most Americans. It's long overdue.

We are Responsible for the Messes in Central America (BG)
Central Americans who come to our borders are refugees from the general chaos and violence caused by the drug gangs which terrorize their little countries, and many justifiably seek asylum here because they are specifically targeted by those gangs. Our country has a responsibility for and an obligation to them, because Americans are bankrolling those gangs by buying their drugs, and because the U.S. gun industry is arming those gangs by selling them guns. We are largely the cause of the mess.

We need to take these people in, at least temporarily until it's safe for them to return home. We also need to help their governments and the international community to make their countries safe. And since the multi-year war against drugs has failed, we may have no choice other than to legalize drugs so that our pharmacies can put all of the drug gangs out of business.

Solving Gun Violence Requires Many Different Measures (BG)
Increasingly I read that no one change will address every shooting
incident. Not red flag legislation, background checks or mental health
services. Some shooters will fall through the cracks. Not laws
prohibiting high-capacity magazines or assault rifles, or requiring
registration of firearms. Some shooters and their families will ignore
these. Not guns carried everywhere by "good guys". The Texans in El
Paso who carried guns didn't confront the shooter. Maybe a mix is
needed to at least vastly reduce the number of single and mass shooting
incidents, because there is no probability in the foreseeable future
that the Constitution will be amended to remove the right to bear arms
or that the Supreme Court will stop interpreting it to mean a personal
right rather than a right to have a state militia.

If the mix is to include widespread concealed or unconcealed carrying of
firearms, the laws and their enforcement need to ensure that only people
who have been carefully and thoroughly vetted and trained will be given
a permit to carry. The Constitution speaks of a "well-disciplined
militia" as the reason for private possession of firearms. Maybe
everyone who has access to a firearm should be required to join the
state militia (i.e., National Guard) reserve, register the firearm, be
vetted and receive training. Could "conservative" Supreme Court
justices consider this a violation of the right to bear arms? Maybe,
but they'd have to twist their logic like a pretzel to dismiss the words
of the Constitution.

Trying to Achieve What the Constitution Requires (BG)
Ninety percent or more of the American people are either working for someone else, looking for work, a dependent of a working person, or a retired person who was a working person. Our Constitution's Preamble asserts that its purpose is to "promote the general welfare" (at that time, a synonym for general well-being). This cannot be achieved without promoting the welfare of working people. Unfortunately, the political right wing does not offer a different route to promote the general welfare; they do not want to promote it. Instead, they want to promote the welfare of the wealthiest few at the expense of everyone else. Their claim that they are the protectors of our Constitution is belied by their policies.

All Working People (BG)
Since the late 1800's, the Democratic Party has tried to improve the economic well-being and working conditions of the rank-and-file. Republicans have tried to prevent or reverse both. When most work was blue-collar, the beneficiaries of Democratic efforts were clear. However, as the work force increased in services and decreased in manufacturing, the Democratic base has ruptured. Meanwhile, the Republican base -- top executives and wealthy investors -- has remained largely united. By lying to working folks and by exploiting cultural and racial divisions, Republicans have captured some of the Democratic economic base. Democrats will recover -- and will deserve to recover -- only by re-emphasizing their roots as champions of working people: all working people, of all colors, of all occupations, of all ages, of both genders, of all sexual preferences and of every citizen/immigrant status.

Different Pictures of Political Struggles (BG)
The political left sees politics as a vertical struggle between high-income and lower-income people. The political right sees it as a horizontal struggle between nations, religions, cultures, ethnicities and races. The vertical struggle occurs all the time as the bosses and the investor class wage class warfare upon the working class and the consumer class (who are the same people). It does not require demagogues to arouse it. The horizontal struggle occurs only when demagogues arouse it. It is not the natural state of human relations, especially if people know one another: we can all get along, live and let live.