The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Business

October 20, 2012

STEPHEN DICK | Threatening employees a new election-year low

— The billionaire Koch brothers may be wondering, in this post-Citizens United world, if their money can actually buy the election for Mitt Romney. If it could, Romney would be leading comfortably, and he’s not.

Just in case outright buying the election doesn’t work, the Koch brothers and other business leaders with delusions of grandeur are now sending their employees letters stating their jobs will be in jeopardy if President Obama gets another term.

Threatening job loss as a way to keep workers in line is morally abominable. Jobs represent people’s livelihoods. As we’ve seen in the recent years of high unemployment, job loss can lead to bankruptcy, divorce and suicide.

In their letter, the Kochs wrote that candidates who want to regulate business spend billions on borrowed money to favor cronies (they’re talking about Obama but this would equally apply to George W. Bush, who the Kochs did support) and hinder free trade will affect employees with high gas prices, runaway inflation and other ills.

We went through the Bush years with these same ills. But what is happening in 2012 is unprecedented, and what it represents is not so much a reaction to runaway Washington power but grotesquely unchecked power of the private sector over the lives of workers.

The Kochs would be hard-pressed to name any new regulations that might inhibit their accumulation of billions. But as a scare tactic, there is none better.

A Fox News item warned about massive layoffs at the first of the year if Obama wins again and if the fiscal cliff is reached.

With no action by Congress, tax increases will kick in, but they will be modest compared to the rates during the Clinton administration.

Obama wants to keep the Bush tax cuts for the middle class and let them expire for people earning more than $250,000 a year.

But the rich, personified by the Kochs, want to pay even less in taxes, the 25 percent or less that Romney touts. The complaints about Obama and the threats to employees show a world of privilege that wants more than it has and will use its money and powers to intimidate and force out one administration in favor of someone who will bow down to them.

Fact is, American businesses have never had it so good. They’re sitting on mountains of cash and some are even hiring. But it’s not enough.

It would be a sin against their capitalist religion if they decided to be patriotic and put the country above their bottom lines.

Things always get a little overheated the closer the country comes to a presidential election. This year seems different. There is a desperation on the right that’s even more desperate than in years past. It’s almost as if the right has lost its bearings when business leaders threaten the very people who work for them, the very people who consume their goods and drive the economy.

All of the imaginary boogeymen knocking on the Kochs’ door have turned their brains to mush as they shriek and claw to avoid their fevered fate at the hand of Obama. It’s the invasion of the cash snatchers. They want to be able to sit in their suits, read the Wall Street Journal, sip their coffee, watch their stocks go up and get hugs and kisses from a Romney administration while the workers they let go struggle.

In the movie “Fargo,” police Chief Marge Gunderson would say, “All that for a little bit of money.”

Stephen Dick is an editor at The Herald Bulletin in Anderson, Ind.

 

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