Cleveland, Ohio (PressExposure) April 26, 2008 -- Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans exposed a vast underclass that was invisible until the storm came. It also demonstrated there is an unreported silent depression residing in the USA with many wearing blinders hiding from the reality. It is apparent our low unemployment rate is not in tune with the streets of USA.
Connie Schultz tells her story in the Cleveland Plain Dealer in April 2008. She is a outspoken liberal and her husband is Senator Sherrod Brown who is for workers rights and beat a conservative who wasn't. Even though I am a conservative Populist, I agree with Connie Schultz about the status of workers dignity in the USA. I worked in several factories while going to college at the same time for the equivalent of about $15 to $20 and hour. If these jobs were available today, thousands would be standing in line to get them and even college graduates who would take these jobs too and not only as a means to an end like I did.
Connie Schultz tells about her family being on food stamps and she did not find out about it until she was 40. Her mother admitted it was something she thought she would never do. Today it is not a big deal when you compare it to so many losing their entire life savings and their homes going bankrupt just because they lost their jobs or businesses due to free trade which trade human beings as the main commodities of our times.
Her mother said " You gotta allow a man his pride, Connie," she said . "Sometimes that's all he's got." Her mothers words came rushing back recently, as she watched the presidential candidates bicker over whether working class people are bitter. She recalled that in her dad's day, it was a thing of pride to work with your hands. Men lived large through their labor, building cars, tanks, planes, and appliances. They made union wages that put food on the table, and fueled the dream of a college education for their children.
Today most of the good factory jobs are gone, and pensions and health care left with them. Their wives have to work now, too, just to pay the bills. For so many families, the constant stress of too little is too great. The call for emergency food has broken records for years. The prison population keeps breaking records too. A pastor in a small town in Ohio says, " I try to get them to stop asking 'why' because that doesn't get you anywhere. I tell them the right question is, "Who can provide the help?" He sighed again. " Is this that a valid answer? No. We don't seem to have a lot of help these days."
However for many time has taken its toll and in a local church the bulletin reads - " Success is reaching Social Security age before having to declare bankruptcy". Workers are not bitter any more. Many are defeated. They have no feelings left and are numb. Besides, their main concern is where their main meal is coming from today. As Lech Walesa says, from the Solidarity movement which helped bring down the Soviet Empire, - I am only a consumer. I know very little about economics and business but I do know that when 10 percent of 100 percent of the population owns the control of wealth, something is very wrong. The elder President Bush strongly supported Free Trade and the passage of NAFTA. President Clinton followed and passed NAFTA it for the elder Bush. President Bush, the son, just followed in Clinton's footsteps and it seems like none of the present presidential candidates want to change much of anything with Free Trade being a failure for more than twenty years.