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[Susan notes: This letter by a recently retired auto worker gets to the core of the problem--in our society and in our schools--the grinding poverty created by heartless corporations.]

Submitted to Detroit News but not published
03/07/2004

To the editor



I am one of those old UAW workers who has protested Daniel Howes [paper's business writer]push for more competition between workers. Yesterday Howes suggests that older folks

have no stake in the competitiveness that Howes promotes! Is it the Detroit News or Daniel Howes saying to those of us who believe in solidarity and the values of equality and democracy that we are too old or too controversial to join the human future debate on your pages?



I doubt if Howes learned this disrespect for his elders’ experience at home. I feel like I should come to Detroit and give Daniel a good spanking.

But I’m settling for this letter.



Some months ago Mr. Howes suggested I am a Communist but I am not a Communist. I am not a Capitalist either. I believe that neither of those two systems holds much of a future for ordinary Americans or other groups of working people anywhere in the world. In fact, they look compatible to me.



Chinese Communists and American Capitalists partner up to screw Chinese workers out of their human rights and American workers out of their jobs. We mourn the loss of 58,000 of our sons and friends and 2.5 million dead Vietnamese and we wonder if they died so Ford and the Communists could have a Saigon assembly plant? Just what are the points of contention between the elite, dictatorial Capitalists and Communists?



What does it mean when Howes says over and over again that workers must compete against and cheat each other in the Capitalist game of profit

maximization through dog eat dog, massive unemployment and war after war after war?



Solidarity values rooted in the lives of working people offer the real alternative to Capitalism and Communism. Most American workers, family

farmers and small business people do not have Capitalism’s selfish values.



They have instead, a sharing history. They depend on each other and help each other as best they can. It is an unpopular view amongst most of us that we should gain at someone else’s expense.



Most people, in their daily lives, try to change the tiny corners of their worlds where they have some control, to places of friendship and love. This is easy to see within their families and communities. Most people would like to see our country and world provide everyone with a decent life and a happy future for the kids. But this is not happening. The opposite is happening. Millions of Americans are being relegated to a permanent underclass.



Today, the Catholic Campaign for Human Development points out that more than 35 million Americans live in poverty. Has Capitalism provided much of a life for them? Will Howes continue to cheerlead the UAW’s Crony Capitalists

as they cut wages further below the poverty level and increase the numbers of American and world poor?



The truth is, there is no bottom to the poverty being created by heartless corporations. Not here. Not in China. Not at the Cuautitlan or Saigon Ford assembly plants.



Communism has proven it doesn’t work unless you’re good at hockey. Capitalism holds a dim future for most of us. We need a third option: a new and, revolutionary paradigm in which a democratic, solidarity movement comes to the fore by the direct action of a real working democracy. This third option, which is never considered in your paper, but should be, can change our country and world to places where small business folks, farmers, workers, teachers, secretaries and soldiers see a bright future for all the world’s children.



It is time to talk about a second American Revolution for real democracy and solidarity.

Tom Laney, Old Guy, UAW Local 879


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