How many of you believe the economy is booming? U.S. Representative Bernie Sanders asked delegates to the 64th UE Convention. They laughed.
The economy is booming, Vermont’s independent congressman suggested, for those with hundreds of millions of dollars invested in the stock market, for computer tycoon Bill Gates, whose personal wealth increased by $40 billion last year, for the CEOs of major corporations who earn 400 times what their employees make.
Working people are not sharing in this prosperity, Sanders said.
IF THE ECONOMY IS BOOMING ....
"If the economy is booming, why are there thousands of workers in this state and millions all over the country who are working, not 40 hours a week but 50 or 60 hours a week? Why are there workers who are working two and three jobs?" the Congressman asked.
Sanders proposed an economic policy, "so that for a change, the economy booms for the middle class and working class, rather than for millionaires and billionaires."
An economic vision need not be complicated, Sanders said. It could start with real family values: "pay working people a decent wage so they don’t have to work on Saturdays and Sundays, and maybe families can spend some time together."
An economic vision also means economic security and a national health care system, Vermont’s at-large congressman said.
LOSS OF DEMOCRATIC TRADITIONS?
Sanders expressed his fears that the U.S. is losing its democratic traditions due to the influence of big money on the political process and corporate control of the news media. We have a system in which allows the rich to buy politicians while the majority of low-income and young people don’t vote, Sanders suggested.
"The Republicans want 100 people to contribute $1 million each. That’s their idea of democracy," he said.
Labor will never reach its goals if people aren’t educated and mobilized, the independent congressman said. The corporations that own the news media don’t want "an aroused or informed citizenry fighting for social justice" or "average people to realize that they have a role in shaping the country."
"While you build and expand your democratic union, let us build and expand our democratic society," the Congressman said. Sanders concluded by declaring that UE’s existence as a "militant, vigorous, democratic union" is more and more important.
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