Golly, gee whiz, do tell…South Carolina, among many Southern and right-wing states, simply doesn’t have the money. Can’t finance aid programs for the poor. Gotta cut funds for public education, close down public schools, boot public school teachers out the door. No money. Just can’t afford to do anything with addicts but throw them in prison. Haven’t got the revenue. In short, any social program favored by progressives comes a cropper because of shortage of the green stuff.
There’s been great Republican resistance in South Carolina over the years to pleas to raise the gas tax so the state’s roads didn’t resemble a ride on a wooden roller coaster. The right screamed bloody murder whenever the subject was brought up by those “tax and spend” liberals. For the last decade, Republican legislators have shamed those who would dare recommend such a solution.
But, behold, the state legislature, including a passel of Republicans, just passed a bill that would raise the gas tax by 10 cents per gallon, thereby raising $400 million a year for roads and bridges. Why, just at the beginning of this year’s session, the Post and Courier newspaper ran a story on why raising the gas tax was already a dead issue. Here’s the exact wording: “Should there be an increase in the gas tax? Gov. Nikki Haley, while not revealing her own transportation plan, has said that’s dead on arrival, and Republican House leaders have said they don’t plan to buck her on that” So there!!!
So why the legislative 180? Why did the Republican General Assembly defy their own Republican governor?
Because the CHAMBER OF COMMERCE and BIG BUSINESS told them to, that’s why. And it took a whole three days to respond to that ORDER!!! Chamber President and CEO Ted Pitts issued a not so subtle warning in a letter to all legislators that it is “unacceptable” for the house and senate to adjourn without a deal. About the same time, Pitts’ counterpart at the South Carolina Manufacturers Alliance, co-signers of the letter, told the paper via his cell, that he had just dodged a huge pothole on Interstate 26. Now, it was getting personal.
The Chamber and SCMA are not to be trifled with. Through money and endorsements, the Chamber, as much as any organization, decides who gets elected to state and legislative offices. SCMA is comprised of the likes of multi-national giants Boeing, Lockheed Martin, BMW, Caterpillar, Honda, Bridgestone, General Electric, Johnson and Johnson, Timpken and a few dozen others. Duke Energy and the American Chemical Council sit at the SCMA table as well.
Jack Sander’s, President of Sunoco, calls state road conditions, “deplorable.” That’s not good for the 200 trucks the company has on South Carolina roads at any given time. Roger Schrum, Sunoco Vice President of Investor Relations and Corporate Affairs, just happens to be the SCMA board president.
The big boys actually wanted $600 million per year, so I can guarantee you, that extra 200 mil will show up from somewhere, undoubtedly at poor people and public education expense, before this session’s legislative journal is closed. And if the party in power wants to continue to be the party in power, that $600 million will be on the books for however many years the real power brokers in the state want it to be.
There’s an obvious point to be made here. The only voices heard in Columbia are the one’s sitting on a pile of money. In a Republican legislature, they’ll always get their way. If it suits them, they’ll get the roads fixed. They’ll get an obscene bill passed that won’t let private entities sue them for polluting the land, air and water. Whatever they want, they get.
Conversely, the South Carolina Department of Social Services is an underfunded and understaffed mess and children are suffering tremendously and dying as a result. The Department of Health and “Environmental Control” (wink, wink, nudge, nudge) is an embarrassing joke. and you can include many other state agencies, similarly worthless.
But, when aerospace giant, Boeing, brushing off a union attempt in North Charleston, says jump, Republican office holders ask, how high. And you know what’s truly most sad? Democrats cower in the corner. Incidentally, Boeing just successfully forced the Machinist union to withdraw a planned petition for a vote. Associated Press quoted Mike Evans, the lead organizer for the union as saying Boeing created “An atmosphere of threats, harassment and unprecedented political interference…” Evans said this intimidated the workers.
Prior to the union loss, the Democrats offered “supportive” union rhetoric. In mid-March party chairman, Jamie Harrison, supposedly stuck his neck out with a parsed and tepid quasi-endorsement of labor as reported by the Post Courier, “The union vote at Boeing shouldn’t be an opportunity to demonize the working class. Basic job protections that most Americans enjoy today are the results of the hard work that unions have done”
I missed the part where he said, without equivocation, that the Democratic Party fully and enthusiastically SUPPORTS THE EFFORTS of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, (IAM) to unionize the North Charleston Dreamliner assembly line production workers. As I’ve noted before on this site, Harrison is a lobbying principal with the Podesta Group, one of the 2 or 3 most powerful lobbying firms in all of DC. Is he overtly pushing for a union for the type of company that is a lobbyist’s bread and butter?
You absolutely know where South Carolina’s avowed enemy of the working man and woman, Governor Nikki Haley, stands. She used a key part of her January State of the State speech to rip IAM from stem to stern. She spread more of her own unique brand of union hatred in an April 2nd News Conference. Meanwhile, back at the plant, IAM is predicted to withdraw their efforts at organizing for the near term. The union has succumbed to the tactics featured in a book I recommended in an earlier submission this year, “Confessions of a Union Buster” by Martin Jay Levitt. I’m betting Boeing took full advantage of the contents of that tome.
A current Democratic legislator and former union head agreed with my assertion in a recent interview with the Post and Courier in referring to the unionizing effort at Boeing, “You’re just at that phase now where you have this hype because companies like Boeing, and I’m talking from experience, go out and hire big-time consultant groups that come in and take the supervisors to classes literally overnight and their attitudes change. They are being taught the rhetoric.” Still reluctant to offend a company with the business ethics of an alley cat, the legislator said “That’s not in their heart.” He later adds, somewhat disingenuously, “Everybody gets along.” Yeah, that’s why Boeing is spending many hundreds of thousands of dollars to destroy the futures of any number of their workers.
Unions in the private sector are dead. The Republicans killed them by gaining a majority in national and state legislatures. Seats that were incredibly won with the addition of votes of many union rank and file. Talk about a career death wish. And apparent indifference to family.
The Democrats, with few exceptions, sat back and let it happen. They’re still sitting back and letting it happen. The exceptions? Sanders, Warren, Grayson and a precious few others.
Image via IMDB
Raised rural & small town, then lived in N.Y., Chicago & LA. Widely traveled. Returned from world wandering to pursue media life of anchorman/reporter and major, medium and small market talk radio. Highly active in politics. Once worked as orderly & security in Mens Lock Ward for the Criminally Insane at a state institution. Much more rational population than current Teapublicans. Great concern for country run by and for the extreme wealthy. The inhumane current running through this country has no precedent in modern history.
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