The appeals court ruling on Friday, January 25 overturning President Obama’s recess appointments to the National Labor Relations Board is a huge gift to Wall Street, big corporations and the politicians they control who have worked for years to overturn protections for working people in the U.S.
In healthcare the implications are especially insidious. It is a clear assault on the ability of nurses to act collectively to improve safety standards and public protections for patients. If nurses are unable to speak out for patients and act together to safeguard conditions, all patients are threatened in an era in which most hospital employers place their bottom line above patient safety.
With a compromise on social security now unmasked – costing the elderly an estimated 6.2-7.7%, according to business writer Doug Henwood – America becomes more and more a place of poverty. Warnings that austerity begets poverty will go ignored, but the nation’s deteriorating condition cannot so easily be overlooked.
No surprise, in this milieu of victimizing the most marginal, that one anniversary has received far too little attention. This year, 2012, marked the 50th anniversary of a ground breaking book, The Other America, by Michael Harrington, a searing examination of rampant poverty in the richest nation on earth. A prominent review of Harrington’s work in The New Yorker magazine, reportedly brought to the attention of then President John F Kennedy, ultimately helped influence the Great Society reforms later launched by his successor Lyndon B Johnson.
But half a century later, we seem to be back to square one in this country.
“One thing I know. Social Security is so firmly embedded in the American psychology today that no politician, no political group could possibly destroy this Act and still maintain our democratic system. It is safe forever, and for the everlasting benefit of the people of the United States.” —Frances Perkins, on the 25th anniversary of the enactment of the Social Security Act (from the book, The Woman Behind the New Deal: The Life of Frances Perkins, FDR’s Secretary of Labor and His Moral Conscience)
Good thing Frances Perkins is not hearing the disinformation from Washington and many in the media today claiming Social Security is going broke and that there is a “consensus” that cuts are needed in Social Security to reduce the federal deficit.
For many months, nurses, healthcare, environmental, labor, consumer, faith-based and other community activists have rallied on Wall Street, at banks and legislative offices, and outside the White House and Treasury Department, saying it is time to tax Wall Street to help revive our economy and nation.
Now it’s no longer just a movement. It’s also legislation, H.R. 6411, the Robin Hood tax, introduced in Congress by Rep. Keith Ellison, one of the most progressive voices in Washington.
Rose Ann DeMoro is Executive Director of the California Nurses Association/National Nurses Organizing Committee. The Union has long been a powerful advocate in behalf of both direct care registered nurses and patient care protections. Rose Ann and the Nurses Union have also been strong advocates for a “Medicare for All” –type health care system in the United States. Most recently, they have led a global campaign in support of a Robin Hood Tax, a small transaction tax that would be levied on all financial transactions. The revenue from such a tax would then be directed to supporting education, health care, poverty reduction, and green economy investments.