Oh, those front-page newspaper photos! Oh, those TV cameras! How many times have we seen one group or another marching and fist-shaking because they and theirs have been befouled upon by another of those corporations that has weaseled itself into a sham bankruptcy -- principally for the purpose of eliminating medical benefits promised to employees in lieu of money at the time?
Those poor, misguided protesters picket under the delusion that pitiless corporations, bankruptcy courts or politicians can be shamed into restoring their pensions and health care.
After a few days or weeks, the bone-chilled or heat-exhausted demonstrators give up and go home. In their climate-controlled, luscious-buffet-provided-boardroom at another coal company, automaker, airline, metal smelter, etc., those lauded as "good businessmen" laugh uproariously at how they have broken the union, robbed the employees, duped the courts into helping them do it and the federal government into paying for it. Then they vote themselves huge bonuses. That's just one tiny way the richest keep getting richer.
Why is it that such companies, sitting on piles of cash and huge lines of credit can commit these "bankruptcy reorganization" atrocities? About 10 years ago, didn't their bankers get Congress and George W. Bush to make it much harder for truly insolvent individuals to get their heads above water? Why do all those millions of workers who have footprints on their backsides not band together, rise up and storm the ramparts of corporate and government headquarters?
The answer was provided by grizzled old mountaineer Jim Beam Hunt in my book "Two Five," when he told other inmates, "People with full bellies, wheels under their arses and gettin' a hundred T-V channels don't revolt."
Those poor sign-waving folks who labored at Patriot Coal, Century Aluminum and all those other incorrigibly immoral companies don't realize that a revolution has already occurred. Many of them were duped by corporate shills and other TV barrage masters into damning its leader instead of praising him.
What revolution? The one that ended their having to rely on hollow promises of health-care benefits from companies who will sell them out for a dollar or a dime. Coming in 2014 they and their children will be guaranteed health insurance all their lives, insurance that they can take from job to job and even into unemployment or early retirement. Hallelujah!
Those "revolutionaries" who fought for and are still battling to see that the trod-upon get deserved health care are those members of the Senate and House of Representatives who voted for the Affordable Care Act pushed by President Obama. Like paying into Medicare, there are no hollow corporate promises and even the most heartless companies cannot renege.
So, all ye fine souls who have, over the decades, gone out and protested those corporate benefit promise-breakers for a week, day, hour -- then driven yourself home to a well-stocked fridge and cable TV -- you no longer need to rise up! What you could do is turn to those still quarreling against "Obamacare" and tell them: "Shut up and hand me the remote!"
Cook is an author, artist and inventor who lives at Hurricane.