ALPERN ON LABOR--There are those of us who "Resist". There are those of us who want to "Make America Great Again". And then there are those who point to Neo-Nazis, ANTIFA, RINO's, DINO's, Globalists, and Social Justice Warriors (or a combination thereof) as the forces destroying the American Dream. But that Dream is ... what, now? And Labor's role is ... what, now?
I doubt I'm the only kid who grew up in the 1970's and 1980's under Nixon, Carter and Reagan who recognized, if not revered, the concepts and paradigms behind the American Dream, the Middle-Class, and the Melting Pot. The idea was that ALL individuals, if they worked hard enough, could attain enough wealth to live comfortably, and live well.
Both Democrats and Republicans despised Nixon's lies, but also appreciated how he stood up to the Communists (while also pulling us out of Vietnam). Both Democrats and Republicans hated the former Soviet Union and Communism. Both Democrats and Republicans glorified and reached out to the "can-do" attitudes of the Middle Class.
However, things went awry--and it's too childish to blame just one group or event that began our current internal divisions (anyone out there think that our nation is in an ideological Civil War?).
Was it identity politics? Was it an acceptance of the Welfare State? Was it a tolerance of Corporate Welfare and Wage Inequality? Gads...who knows?
And perhaps the right answer now is...WHO CARES?
Just fix it, right? But who is to fix it, and how is "it" to be fixed?
1) First, we get to foreign relations. Like NAFTA. Like China. Like the Paris Climate Change Accords.
There's certainly been a sea change with respect to the role of "Made in America" versus "Made in China" or "Hecho en Mexico". Lots of us will insist on "Buying American" but even that's changed--what if a foreign company employs manufacturing workers in the U.S.?
Yet "Made in America" has to mean something, and mean something profitable and rewarding (both financially and morally) to both employers and workers alike. We've got to stop demonizing employers while also rewarding employees.
For example: Our 401(k) system prevents higher-paid employees/employers from "maxing out" on this investment/tax vehicle unless the lower-paid employees contribute higher amounts, which encourages employers to contribute to their employees' plans.
Linking lower American employer/business taxes to paying out their employees with corporate stock, health care benefits, profit-sharing, etc. is the perfect way to unite the rich with the "working" middle class, and minimize the "class divisions" being exploited by our two major political parties.
Furthermore, there IS something to be said to taking on foreign neighbors and global powers (such as China or Mexico) if there's an inability for the United States to compete and retain quality jobs for the middle class.
President Bill Clinton did it with confronting China on its unfair, illegal trade practices, and his two successors did not--much to the chagrin of the American middle class. Clinton also benefited Mexico and U.S. entrepreneurs with NAFTA, but clearly NAFTA did not turn out entirely as planned, and revisiting ALL foreign accords isn't racism.
It's realism. Pragmatism. And competitive capitalism.
Finally, there's the issue of "the global economy". Many of us have benefited, whether it's with Internet-based businesses or with selling/renting local real estate to foreign individuals and entities...but sooner or later, if we're getting rich to the suffering of our working neighbors, that HAS to be confronted, and limited.
2) Second, we get to the thorny issue of DACA, and immigration. The issues surrounding immigration have direct impacts on labor, and Political Correctness has to end in order for this and related issues to stop thwarting the middle class and diverting from the key issues of the American Dream, the Middle Class, and the Melting Pot.
Legal immigration is NOT the same as illegal immigration, and the endless frontier of the United States 100-150 years ago is NOT the same as the smaller world of today.
Illegal immigrants are NOT all rapists and murderers, and plenty of native-born Americans are sorely in need of looking at the examples of immigrants--both illegal and legal, who choose to work their collective tails off to make a better life.
That said, it bears repeating that illegal immigration is NOT the same as legal immigration, and that the United States has the right to abide by the same immigration laws as any other nation on Planet Earth.
President Trump will make an announcement on former President Obama's DACA Act (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals). The roughly 800,000 individuals with a stay or reprieve from deportation who were brought here as children have a direct impact on native-born young adults who are fighting for an increasingly fewer number of good jobs.
There are lots of key points to be made regarding the "Dreamers", including that many do not speak the language of their nation of birth, and know no other nation in their lives' memories save that of the United States.
Another key point is that the public school education of a K-12 student is at least $10,000 per year in most states, so that if a family brought their young children and educated them throughout their senior year of high school, that family forced American taxpayers to pay over $100,000 per child that could have gone elsewhere.
So do we let the Dreamers (children born on foreign soil and brought here illegally by their families) stay if they pay their states back for what some hold their parents actions to be the same as robbery, no matter what the intent? Do we make the parents pay the money back, and/or allow the Dreamers to stay only if their parents are deported?
Do we confiscate the financial investments and resources of offending foreign nations, or even declare their lands or natural resources the property of the taxpayers/citizens of the United States?
After all, if we're going to be "one nation" that includes the Dreamers and native-born workers and entrepreneurs, shouldn't we all as a nation benefit to uphold and abide by that American Dream we're referencing?
3) Finally, we get to Health Care and other "costs of living" with inflationary costs that are killing the exhausted, overworked Middle Class.
As a physician on the front lines, who has a passion for low-cost and even free care to those who cannot afford medications and treatments that are vital for a quality of life, this particularly concerns me.
Furthermore, the CEO's and the physicians who have realized that the "big money" is in health care management, and not health care delivery, have all sorts of answers, but very little interest in listening to the plans and ideas of those of us who actually treat most of the patients.
Further complicating this issue is the failure of so many physicians and other providers who don't demonstrate or convince their patients that they actually CARE about their patients. This has led to many "wannabe" doctors, and those who are "fake" doctors, who have convinced many that they ARE doctors because they successfully treat so many patients.
Curanderos, herbalists, alternative medicine, and the like--all of it has to do with a lack of CARE for our fellow human beings, and to do so at an affordable price.
As a dermatologist, I've often stated that "I want to clear your skin, and not your bank account". And I damn well mean that.
Because caring about Labor means you truly CARE about the MIDDLE CLASS, who wants nothing more than to earn some quality housing, utilities, education, parks, libraries, and a few vacations here and there.
It means caring about our fellow Americans, and our fellow neighboring human beings.
So it bears repeating one more time: Does our nation really have the courage to help Labor? To help our fellow laboring Americans?
(Kenneth S. Alpern, M.D. is a dermatologist who has served in clinics in Los Angeles, Orange, and Riverside Counties, and is a proud father and husband to two cherished children and a wonderful wife. He is also a Westside Village Zone Director and Board member of the Mar Vista Community Council (MVCC), previously co-chaired its Planning and Outreach Committees, and currently is Co-Chair of its MVCC Transportation/Infrastructure Committee. He was co-chair of the CD11 Transportation Advisory Committee and chaired the nonprofit Transit Coalition, and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. He also co-chairs the grassroots Friends of the Green Line at www.fogl.us. The views expressed in this article are solely those of Dr. Alpern.)
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