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Democracy Without Economic Rights is a Tyranny of the Rich

March 3, 2011

Dear Supporters,

I have been waiting for some analyst, blogger, or columnist, etc. to draw the parallels between the millions of people demonstrating throughout the Middle East and the hundreds of thousands of people, demonstrating in the State House and streets of Madison, Wisconsin. However, I have neither seen nor heard such analysis.

To me the parallels are obvious. While the focus of the Middle Eastern demonstrations has been the removal of dictators, the underlying theme resonating through the demonstrations has been the desire for the development of an economy that focuses on the needs of all. They understand that a political democracy without economic rights for its citizens is a tyranny of the rich.

In Madison, while the focus is on protecting collective bargaining and the existence of public employee unions, the underlying theme drawing the demonstrators together is the need to protect the miniscule economic rights gained through over a hundred years of worker struggles as represented by collective bargaining and at least a modicum of laws protecting the rights of workers to organize.

Success in Cairo has created the opportunity to build not only the framework of a political democracy but also an economic democracy. Such a democracy would not only give citizens the right to vote but also guarantee equity in the resources of the country, state, and municipal jurisdiction and the protection of the workers’ right. Such worker rights would focus on both a voice in their working conditions and a process to determine both an equitable salary as well as a fair share of the profits of the business. Workers without such rights are wage slaves.

What gains in economic rights will result from beating back the attack in Madison?

Unfortunately, the answer is not much. That is, while it is important to protect the little that workers have, in the absence of any constitutionally based framework of economic rights in this country, any gain of economic rights by citizens is in constant danger of being wiped out by future political expediency. What took over a half century for public employees to gain in Wisconsin is in danger of being wiped out in the first three months of a new state administration.

I remember reading an interview in Time magazine in 1957 where the new leader of Egypt, Colonel Gamal Abdul Nassar was asked why the army did not use its power since overthrowing the King to institute political democracy. His response was that political democracy was a farce in a country where the vast majority of the people were under the control of the landowners.

After ten years and eleven months as a Boston City Councilor, my analysis is that political democracy in this country without guaranteed economic rights for its citizens makes our democracy a cruel hoax perpetrated to keep our citizens in a state of psychological turmoil and powerlessness.

The world is watching as the rich of this country use the resources of this country to plunder the resources of those sectors of the world and population of this country that can not protect themselves from the international oligarchy centered in this country and England.

A quick glance at the federal budget will reveal the mockery of democracy exhibited by our law makers when the budget includes approximately 60-70 billion for education while allocating over 700 billion for defense, without including the costs of the war and the Homeland Security Department. Who is that money defending?

Obviously, the purpose of this investment is to defend the rights of the rich of this country to pillage and plunder the world including this country.

At 70, however, I have learned that to moan and complain about a problem without develop a plan to change the situation, at most, brings an upset stomach. So our question is how to build a foundation of economic rights in this country that can end the economic oppression of the people of this country by the present oligarchic political democracy.

In my next articles, I will explore:

1) The roots of the problem;
2) The attempt in Boston over the last fifty years to lay a foundation for economic rights.
3) A potential action agenda for Boston that could become a template for the struggle for economic rights in this country.

A Luta Continua—The Struggle Continues!


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