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Governor Eric Holcomb Cancels Federal Aid Forcing Workers Into Poverty-Paying Jobs

Republican Governor Denies Workers Their Right to Federal Pandemic Aid to Bail Out Poverty Exploiters

Indiana has now joined the other Koch-network-owned Red states by telling workers their federal unemployment offered through the American Rescue Plan is canceled. Of course, Fox News and both oligarch-owned political parties applaud within the state. The Democratic Party in Indiana is so lame that the best they could conjure up in defense was begging the Governor to raise the poverty-level minimum wage in Indiana which still rests at $7.25 with the federal government.

Neither the governor, nor the media, said anything about Indiana’s vaccination rates which hover in the 36% range meaning we are a far cry from herd immunity status. In fact, seeing that Indiana is Trump country, most of those vaccinated are probably liberals and independents. The QAnon crowd refuses to wear masks, refuses to get vaccinations and demands their fast food restaurants open up so they can get their Big Macs quickly when wanted. Thus, Indiana is ripe for another wave of infections and will most likely birth a variant of Covid requiring those who’ve been vaccinated to get a booster shot later this Summer or early Fall.

Economists Tell Us the Marginal Truth

Economists across the country have pointed to the so-called “labor shortage” in the fast food, restaurant, and hospitality industries as not a shortage of workers, but a shortage of pay. Wages are too low and offer few benefits. In fact, they are so low that the low $300 a week in assistance from the federal government is higher than working 40 hours a week at minimum wage. This is confirmed when Fox News interviewed Kevin Brinegar, a “leader” in our economic development center in Indianapolis when he said:

For them [unemployed and at-risk workers], they say, ‘You know, I can make as much money or in some cases more by just staying home,’ and that hurts our workforce participation rate.

Fox 59 News

So, our Governor and leading economic developers are worried about their “workforce participation rates” which they put in brochures when enticing “job creators” to come to Indiana. They can brag to “job creators” that you can come to Indiana and exploit our workers and pay them as low as $7.25 an hour, or below poverty levels. And to make things even better for you, we have almost no regulations on businesses who pollute, our corporate tax rates are low, and we have laws limiting union participation. It’s why Indiana ranks in the Top 5 for CEO satisfaction. The only other Top 5 ranking we have is for the dirtiest state – I did mention we don’t have any regulations on corporate polluters.

While Indiana’s Democratic Party whiffs once again for the working, at least Senator Bernie Sanders is on the side of the working class. He fired off a letter to the Secretary of Labor demanding that the federal pandemic unemployment relief gets to workers as approved by Congress despite the Trumpian governors who work for Charles Koch. He writes:

I am writing to remind you of your congressionally-mandated requirement to provide Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) benefits to workers ineligible for state unemployment aid and urging you to ensure workers receive these benefits even when states threaten to take it away. It is critical that the Department of Labor does everything in its power to ensure that jobless Americans continue to receive this aid as the law intended.

The PUA program has served as a backstop for our broken and outdated unemployment insurance (UI) system for over a year. State UI laws often exclude workers who are misclassified as independent contractors, part-time workers, and low-wage workers, and in all of these categories, workers of color are locked out of the system at much higher rates than white workers are. The benefit amounts offered are far too often much too low to provide any measure of economic security. State UI laws are also unequipped to support workers for the length necessary in this pandemic and recession, and the permanent federal program that is supposed to be of use during recessions and other crises is fatally flawed and simply put, doesn’t work. Congress stepped in to make up for these inadequacies last March in the CARES Act and has extended them through September 6, 2021, to ensure that jobless Americans are supported as our economy recovers and we get workers back to good-paying jobs.

Letter to Marty Walsh, U.S. Secretary of Labor, May 13, 2021

Someone please tell me, “Why didn’t we elect this man to defeat Trump?”

Why Aren’t Our Wages Raising? Wage Theft

Anyway, at least the working class has someone taking care of them even if our two political parties and the unions captured by the Oligarchy could care less. Time after time the American people vote against their best interests because the free press (media) has also been captured by the oligarchy. Albert Einstein told us this in 1949 and Princeton University confirmed it in 2014 – we are an oligarchy controlled by a few wealthy people who own and control all the major institutions in our country, including the media. Therefore, a citizen (voter) is inundated constantly with propaganda and cannot make a decision about his own best interest. Noam Chomsky refers to our media as a propaganda model.

If the press were truly free, the American worker would never be forced to work for poverty wages. Period. Over the last forty years of Neoliberalism, worker productivity has grown immensely thanks to improvements in technology and efficiencies learned. The problem is, those increases in productivity haven’t been met with higher wages for workers. The truth is, the executive class (CEOs), and the oligarchs have stolen those gains (rent-seeking) from workers. This has been evident to anyone who can read a chart, but it’s not beaten into the worker who watches the nightly news on television or the newspaper he reads in the morning. If it were, the proletariat or pleb would be outraged at the oligarchs.

As for the anti-vaxxers, since they’ve canceled unemployment, they are already focusing on their next target – Indiana University. Indiana University just issued a warning to students, workers, and faculty; if you aren’t vaccinated, don’t return to campus in the Fall. Too bad IU professors who are protected by tenure aren’t out advocating for workers in the state being exploited by industries that rely on poverty-level wages to subsidize their industries. These poor workers have been abandoned by their elected officials, unions, the press, academia, and their fellow workers. Those who’ve turned their backs on the working class better hope they don’t educate themselves about Karl Marx, Leon Trotsky, or Albert Einstein. For those wondering, I’d recommend starting at the World Socialist Web Site and go from there.

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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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