Perfect partners: Scrooge, Wal-Mart and Congress


By Steve Vairma
President, Teamsters Joint Council 3

“Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you. Ho, ho, ho.”

That’s the Season’s Greeting you will no doubt get from the Wal-Mart greeter as you enter the store to contribute some hard earned cash to the Walton Family, sans John Boy, of course.

How do people survive, let alone buy Christmas gifts for their kids, while working for the minimum wage, which is less than $8 an hour in the Teamster Joint Council 3 states of Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming?

Food stamps help, of course. So do Medicaid and other government welfare programs.  That’s why so many people use them. It’s not that they are lazy bums, preferring welfare to work.

They’re working. It’s just that they’re working for cheap outfits like Wal-Mart and other corporations that rely on taxpayers to provide the welfare programs needed by workers who aren’t paid enough in wages to feed their families without government assistance.

Meanwhile, corporate scrooges are rubbing their hands in glee, anticipating record profits from all night sales on Thanksgiving to Christmas with thousands of Bob Cratchetts minding the stores. Black Friday has been turned into a 3-day Black Weekend. You think you deserve a day off on Thanksgiving or Christmas?

Bah, humbug.

And what will our esteemed politicians be doing during the holiday season? They’ll be enjoying themselves at home, for sure. They don’t spend much time in the office anymore. They’ll be reading Christmas cards from their corporate lobbyist friends, rather than the opinion polls, which would only dampen their Christmas spirit.

They’ve got bundles of cash under their Christmas trees, a gift from the U.S. Supreme Court. It’s called Citizens United for 1 percent of the population, which is remindful of another Charles Dickens story, “A Tale of Two Cities.”

On the other hand, workers don’t have much under their tree—nothing except high unemployment, stagnant wages, more efforts to inflict right-to-work on states and a concerted effort to bust unions. No jobs program, no Employee Free Choice Act, which would be the best jobs act of all.

Every election year, we are exhorted to vote for the lesser of two evils. Unfortunately, the lesser of two evils is still evil.

And that’s the spirit of Christmas in Washington where, it seems, Scrooge might be an acceptable candidate for Congress, supported by Citizens United and United and Wal-Mart.

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