My editorial in the Akron Beacon Journal.
CHICAGO: As a lawyer I work for people like you — people who lose their health insurance, or who are fired because they’re sick. Sometimes they’re people who never dreamed they’d get whacked, but the boss walks in, and poof, they’re gone. Our little law firm represents people like you — electricians, waitresses, cabbies, engineers, even lawyers, people who go from just $14,000 to $120,000 a year.
I have a sense of how you live, the jams you get in at work. And by the way, while I work in Chicago, I’m originally from Ohio.
So since you come to me when you’re in trouble, here’s some advice about your vote in this election.
Take care if you’re going to vote for a CEO like Romney. It’s up to you of course, but it raises the chance that in a year or two I may see you in my office.
Think about it.
Think of the advice you might give to Hansel and Gretel. Did you see the way the governor grinned that big wolf grin in the first debate?
He wasn’t grinning at Obama. He was grinning at you. He might have put on a granny cap. You are the prey.
Now that may sound extreme, but think how the top 1 percent makes its money. It’s not so much from economic growth any more. That used to be true 40 years ago. But in the 1970s, productivity stopped going up, and up, and up — that’s not just true for the U.S. but other high income countries. So if the rich get richer, there’s only one place to get the money: They have to take it from you.
It’s how the world used to work before the industrial revolution. The strong took from the weak. For the past 40 years, that’s one way the rich have gotten richer, even as economic growth has slowed.
The middle class is disappearing, slowly. It is sure to stay around for our lifetimes, but it’s disappearing. But while the economic growth has slowed since the 1970s, it’s not stopped. There’s no reason why the middle class should be in decline.
I mean, the money is going somewhere, right?
Well, it’s going to the 1 percent, or the CEOs, or the Romney types. And there are two ways they get it. First, they cut “costs.” And that means they cut wages, health, and “staff,” so people run faster, like squirrels in cages.
But if they cut costs, then no one can buy anything, right?
That’s true, so the top 1 percent lends you the money: and that’s why you find yourself using all that plastic and paying interest rates of 20 to 25 percent.
Why should the job creators create jobs and compete with China when they can make a lot more lending money to you?
But here’s the worst part: The more they cut your wages, the more they look on you with contempt. Now that may sound extreme, too. But look at the video where Romney talks with his backers about the “47 percent,” people who he regards as freeloaders if not bums. These are the working poor. Romney and his friends have cut their wages so far they don’t make enough to pay taxes. Then as you hear the clinking of cocktail glasses in the video, Romney rails at these people as bums even though he and his friends are responsible for not paying them a living wage.
The 47 percent are “losers.” But he and his CEO friends don’t think you’re any less of a loser for making $10,000 or even $30,000 a year more. That’s the single most important thing I have come to know from suing and taking the depositions of some of these people. If you didn’t know, let me tell you: They regard you with contempt.
I don’t think the Romney types are evil. But they have to take their money from you, and they feel uneasy about it. So they justify it to themselves by telling each other at country clubs that people like you are losers.
I believe that if there is a Romney victory, the “culture” of many companies will change. It will be no holds barred. There are still some constraints about taking money away from people. But if those constraints don’t entirely disappear, they will be much weaker. People who used to be fired for taking four sick days will now be fired if they take just two.
It may seem like a small change, but it’s big enough so that someone like you may find yourself in my office or in some lawyer’s office in Ohio. “Is there anything I can do about this?”
I’ll give you the answer now: No. So remember the grin. Don’t embolden the predator. You are the prey.