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Caterpillar: Symptoms of Social Cancer

Mitt Romney, right, Donald TrumpAs surely as cancer rots away the individual body, there are malignant forms of social cancer that sicken and eat away at the social world of human beings. Some forms are fast, violent, and deadly. Other forms of cancer rot away at the collective body, year in, year out. The host becomes progressively ill and eventually, it dies.

There is no way to spend one billion dollars in one lifetime. Yet, the now infamous one percenters have become so addicted to accumulating wealth, they can't seem to stop. A billion isn't enough. Like a virulent virus, like a pernicious addiction, their habit becomes pathological. They will do anything in their grasp to fill the gaping needs of the affliction. Nothing is beyond them. Ethics and morality are not factors. They will wage war, they will destroy communities, and they will stop at nothing. Only one thing counts and that thing is profit. They cannot stop. They are utter evil and they are our enemy.  

Caterpillar

450 workers in London, Ontario, have just been evicted from their means of living by their employer, Caterpillar Inc. This follows months of negotiations, if that’s what you call it when one side is told; Take a 50% wage cut or you're finished.

Canadian Autoworkers President, Ken Lewenza, said, "We were never in the ring here in a meaningful way." That's understating the obvious to say the least.

Pat Byrne, the managing director heading management consulting at AlixPartners LLP in New York, said labour unions in Canada need to show more willingness to adjust. That is code for: You are serfs. Take it or take nothing. And shut up. 

He said, "The labour unions - I'm not sure they really get it in terms of globalization."

He speaks for the ugly capitalist class. He speaks for the Donald Trumps and the Mitt Romneys. The terms of exploitation must be reduced to the lowest possible denominator.

We are well on our way to the world Charles Dickens wrote about in 19th century London. A social cancer has set in and we are in deep trouble. We are in financial and social crisis. And it will get much worse.

As Thomas Walkom points out in the Toronto Star, regarding the abuse of the Caterpillar workers in London:

On Wednesday, Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels signed into law a so-called right-to-work bill making his state the first in the U.S. industrial north to directly take on private-sector unions.

Two days later, Caterpillar — which is based in next-door Illinois — closed its unionized London plant.

Since it locked out 460 Canadian workers in January, the giant U.S. firm had made little secret of its intent to move their jobs to Muncie, Indiana.

All it was waiting for, apparently, was a signal that the state government there was serious about crippling trade unions.

The London plant closing is not an isolated event. It is part of a coordinated attack across North America on unions and wages.

As Walkom points out in the article, there is a coordinated attack on labour across North America. And it is not only North America. It's global. The current Prime Minister of Canada, Stephen Harper, is positioned to help coordinate these attacks on the middle class/working class. Harper doesn't just side with employers in labour disputes. He rubs salt in the wounds as he does it. He, like many right wing ideologues like him is not only callous. He is cruel. His treatment of workers in past disputes with employers displays his cruelty in spades.

Class War

This isn't new. It has started in earnest in the 1980s under the reign of Brian Mulroney, Maggie Thatcher, and Ronald Reagan. Their neo liberal voo doo economics has since resulted in the devastation of the middle classes in Europe and North America. They were merely in the employ of the same finance capitalists that Bush, Obama, and the Europeans are currently bowing and scraping toward. It is all about ushering in a new era of financial feudalism. The wages, the pensions, the benefits that have provided a decent standard of living for workers and small business is all but dead.

On deck are civil servants and public sector unions. They too will be and are under accelerating attack from the capitalist class. And the capitalist class can justify the attack. They cite record high deficits and bankrupt governments that cannot pay the bills. And the reason they cannot pay the bills is because the wages of auto workers, miners, construction workers and public sector workers had been paying, and now they can't.      

And when they are finished with evaporating public sector wages to a pittance, wages that had been demanding goods and services, wages that had been paying taxes to build roads and schools, another shock to our collective system will impact each and every one of us; one way or another. 

We are in a protracted class war, a war that is well under way, and we are only now waking up to the fact that the war is on.

The time to fight is here. We cannot continue to tolerate this ongoing abuse of workers and their families. In the past our fight was a fight for wages, for benefits, for decent working conditions. Now the stakes are much higher.

As the workers in London Ontario go home, devastated, with no future. With little hope of retuning to a job with decent pay, business owners in London and their employees will also suffer. Local suppliers of goods and services to Caterpillar will suffer. And so will their families. And when they suffer, the local Tim Hortons, the local pubs - everybody hurts.

London will endure increased violence in homes, alcohol and drug consumption, crime, and those factors will in turn increase crime, drug addiction and so on. It's a downward spiral to purgatory for some, hell for others.

Capitalism, like sugar, cigarettes, gambling and alcohol is an addiction. It is an addiction that sickens and kills the collective body. It is an addiction that has turned to social cancer. A cancer that is promoted and facilitated by the likes of Stephen Harper and his subservient peers. And we have all become dependent on it.

And under capitalism, it is only when the host dies that the cancer dies.  

It's about time we work on a better cure than that.


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