Indiana’s Road Fix is About the Working Class Struggle

Hoosier’s Working Class Will Fund Crumbling Infrastructure

By: Todd Smekens

Muncie, Indiana NEWS – The coming legislative session will feature a biennial budget and a fix for our crumbling infrastructure. The political posturing and rhetoric is already flying in the newspaper. Our incoming governor says he will be driven by data, not politics. As we’ve all learned, data or facts don’t work in the republican parties favor. All they have is lies and manipulation, backed by conservative media and a lame and impotent press owned by corporations.

I’ve talked plenty about our crumbling infrastructure in Indiana. Take your pick on whether we’re talking about school buildings, pipes carrying drinking water, sewage and drain pipes, roads, bridges, etc. Lucky for our politicians in Indianapolis that Hoosiers love our old historical buildings. We’ve got plenty of them falling down across Indiana. Well, except for some areas of Indianapolis and the bedroom communities in Hamilton County which support the well designed appeasing structures.

Thanks to an impotent media across the country, Hoosiers and Americans, have been subjected to neoliberal policies for over 40 years. There are lots of definitions, but here is one from Investopedia which has a nice ring to it, “These ideals advocate for extensive economic liberalization and policies that extend the rights and abilities of the private sector over the public sector, specifically the shutting down of state and government power over the economy. Neoliberalism supports fiscal austerity, deregulation, free trade, privatization and greatly reduced government spending.”

The local remnants of the Ball family who manage billion dollar trusts dislike me and the thoughts of Muncie Voice. They don’t want to do business with me because I’m “too political”. I’ve been banned by their high-priced YMCA for being critical of their policies – more specifically, their high-priced fitness centers shouldn’t be tax exempt when located in the most affluent sections of Delaware County. All us taxpayers are subsidizing memberships because they pay nothing in property taxes.

One quick note on Neoliberalism – one look at the above definition and you should easily see why the rich love “economic liberalization”. It’s where the term, “trickle-down economics” came from. Indiana gets to feel it the most because our republican lawmakers are owned by the wealthiest politically active billionaires, Charles and David Koch. They employ the economist who invented the Laffers Curve, Arthur Laffer. His theory was if we make society great for the wealthy, their wealth will trickle down throughout the economy and lift us all up, including those living in poverty.

Needless to say, it takes a lot of propaganda to peddle these theories. They’ve bought up politicians all across the country and now have the White House. They run universities, think tanks and NGO’s all across the country. Neoliberal policies are embraced by both corporate owned political parties – democratic and republicans. The implosion of the democratic party in 2016 and the rise of populist anger was fueled by forty years of neoliberal policies which rewarded the rich and their large corporations, while punishing the working class. More on this later, but Hoosier’s median income per household has been stuck in the early 1990’s.

Think long and hard. If our incomes have been flat since the 1990’s, what happens every single time our utilities increase? How about the $200 a month cable bill? What about the increase in insurance, gas, prices of automobiles, etc.?

As the rich have gotten richer, the working class has gotten poorer. Much poorer. Income inequality is now the largest problem plaguing the USA and other advanced countries. Pope Francis says, “Income inequality has become the moral crisis of our time.” It was barely discussed during the presidential race.

At the beginning of this year’s legislative session, our local senator, Tim Lanane (D-Anderson) predicted “huge tax increases” on the horizon for motorists even as high-income earners and corporations enjoy continued tax breaks. Maureen Hayden recorded his comments for the Herald Bulletin:

“They’ve had control of the General Assembly for a number of years. Why have they waited till our infrastructure is crumbling?” Lanane said of a GOP plan to impose more “user fees” on drivers. “There is this issue of tax fairness,” he said. “There have been billions of dollars in tax relief given to business and corporations over last several sessions. Now, do we regret that we’ve done that?”

I’ll answer Tim’s rhetorical question, “No, they don’t regret it one bit.”

While they’ve been lining the pockets of big business and the wealthiest Hoosiers, they’ve also been gaining representatives in Indianapolis. Hoosiers have basically eliminated the democratic party in this state. Why would they vote against their best interests? Hoosiers relate democrats to “big government”, and the propaganda fueling neoliberalism focuses on “big bad government”. Hoosiers and Americans forget, they are the government. When you attack the government, you attack the people. This is Civics 100.

Sadly, the democrats are financed by remaining trade unions, teachers and public employees. The democrats have hitched their wagons to a dying base due 100% on neoliberal policies. Neoliberalism, with the help of technology and free trade, allows manufacturers to move their operations overseas where labor costs are a fraction of the USA’s. Look around Muncie. It was gutted by free trade agreements. How have these agreements benefitted you? How have these agreements benefitted Indiana? How have these agreements benefitted Muncie?

The Democratic Party doesn’t have an answer, instead of representing all Hoosiers and solidifying the working class struggles, they’ve aligned themselves with Wall Street, or the benefactors of neoliberal policies. The working class wrongly thinks the government, and all the politicians employed by the government, are the problem. It’s a self fulfilling proposition which we keep voting against our own interests, while getting more angry that our lot isn’t improving.

Yet, here is the real problem – those entities we expect to serve the will of the people, or the people’s interests (press and government), have sold us out. The press and both political parties in the United States are owned by very large corporations and billionaires (oligarchs). Locally, the democratic party has hitched their wagons to the dying unions and the Ball family. They refuse to stand up against the powerful interests and make this a class struggle, which is exactly what it is. Until soft-spoken democrats in this state grow a spine, and stand up for the working class, they’ll fade into the sunset as populist anger continues growing. Third parties and independents scramble to pick up the slack.

Here’s a prediction and a warning, if you think it’s bad now, the next four years under Donald Trump and Mike Pence. Pence has been a Koch brother puppet for decades. Meanwhile, while the republican party has given the wealthy in Hamilton County, and the large corporations scattered around the state, a $3 billion tax cut. Guess who will get stuck paying for the roads?

Maureen captures a republicans response to Tim’s comments:

His criticism was met with a cold reception from House Roads and Transportation Committee Chairman Ed Soliday, R-Valparaiso, who has spent years convincing his anti-tax colleagues of the dire need to repair roads and bridges.

“It’s truly unfortunate that the Democrats want to begin the session by promoting class conflict instead of working together to find solutions to meet our infrastructure needs,” he said.

It is a class conflict. It’s been a class conflict since our founders drafted the constitution allowing slaves and used poor whites against blacks as slavery was repealed. The class conflict continues fueling populism in this country, while our press and politicians embrace capitalism, neoliberalism and globalism. The press won’t touch class conflict because the owners of the newspapers are capitalists. They’ve been told not to stoke class warfare.

I know this won’t make you feel any better, but this class conflict is being felt throughout the world, and until world leaders address it honestly, and propose solutions combating class conflict, populist anger will fuel uprisings around the globe. It’s coming and they know it. If you honestly want to know why Homeland Security has such a large budget, it’s to protect the Oligarchs, and their servants in government, from us. It has nothing to do with “terrorists”. It’s about protecting the Elite from insurgencies, or ticked off citizens.

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Todd Smekens

Journalist, consultant, publisher, and servant-leader with a passion for truth-seeking. Enjoy motorcycling, meditation, and spending quality time with my daughter and rescue hound. Spiritually-centered first and foremost. Lived in multiple states within the USA and frequent traveler to the mountains.

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