CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- What a difference a year makes. Working families are now facing wealth inequality so extreme that it is worse than any time since the late 1920s. We are back to conditions that happened before the Great Depression, because we deregulated everything that was put in place after the first Great Depression to ensure it never happened again. The economic recovery is leaving behind many working families.
U.S. companies have become so obsessed with generating near-term profits that they're paying their employees less, cutting capital investments and under-investing in future growth. We now have the lowest wages in history as a percent of the economy.
It shows that corporations will stoop to any level to increase profits, like deliberate bankruptcy. I am not talking down on your luck ordinary bankruptcy. I am talking premeditated bankruptcy, the Peabody Coal type.
You see, to rid itself of its long-term promises of lifetime health care for the very workers who made Peabody Coal profitable all those years, Peabody devised a plan.
They would create a new company ironically called Patriot Coal Co. Peabody would take all the retired miners from the very profitable Peabody Energy and move them to Patriot Coal. Never mind that NONE of these miners ever worked for Patriot.
Peabody also transferred to Patriot high cost mines that could not be profitable. Of course, Patriot filed for bankruptcy. The cards are stacked against workers in bankruptcy court. Contracts are gutted and every supplier who is owed money comes before the workers. The bankruptcy court doesn't count the blood, sweat and tears the workers have put into the company. A recent ruling states that except for a small percentage of workers, Peabody has no obligation for any health care expenses of Peabody's own retirees.
People will die due to this legal form of robbery by Peabody Energy.
It is now spreading to the public sector. Detroit now seeks to destroy the small pension public employees get after giving a lifetime of service to residents.
The last thing that I would like to address is welfare, not the food stamp type that children depend on to fill their hungry stomachs.
I'm talking Corporate Welfare. Wal-mart is a good example.
The secret behind Wal-Mart's rapid expansion in the United States has been its extensive use of public money. This includes more than $1.2 billion in tax breaks, free land, infrastructure assistance, low-cost financing and outright grants from state and local governments around the country.
In addition, taxpayers indirectly subsidize the company by paying the health-care costs of Wal-Mart employees who don't receive coverage on the job and instead turn to public programs such as Medicaid.