For decades, journalists around the country have fortified themselves with the belief that they are living up to H.L. Mencken’s commandment to “comfort the afflicted, and afflict the comfortable.” In other words, journalists have strived to provide a voice for those without one, and to hold the powerful accountable for their actions.
The Oregonian, however, has become a megaphone for the billionaires and corporate interests that have used the Great Recession as a way to grab even more power and profit than they’ve ever had.
Earlier this month, Our Oregon filed a few potential initiatives that would raise money for schools, senior services, and public safety by asking for a bit more from large corporations and the rich, who’ve continued to amass unprecedented levels of wealth since the end of the recession (more on that below).
The Oregonian, carrying water for powerful corporate interests, couldn’t argue against these ideas based on their merits—instead, they launched into a tirade, calling for support of an initiative (IP 9) that would stop workers from coming together to defend the state from attacks on the middle-class that have torn other states apart.
Around the country, big corporate interests and billionaires, like the Koch Brothers, have been pushing laws that take away the rights of working people—teachers, nurses, and firefighters—in order to give more power and influence to the rich and powerful. Now, they’re bringing this fight to Oregon with handful of initiatives aimed at the 2014 election.
More and more, employers are cutting hours, getting rid of benefits and holding wages stagnant. Corporate CEOs are shipping jobs overseas and rewriting laws to benefit their bottom line. Their profits have skyrocketed.
These big corporations are pushing laws that attack workers because they have their own agenda—to make it easier for them to downsize, ship jobs overseas, and offshore their profits to avoid paying taxes.
And the Oregonian has signed up to help them every step of the way.
We’ve already seen the impacts this corporate agenda has had on our nation’s economy. Since the end of the so-called Great Recession, corporate profits have risen to an all time high.
Over the weekend, the New York Times reported some staggering figures: As a share of the economy, corporate profits are higher now than they’ve been since 1929. More startling: As a share of the economy, wages and salary for workers are lower now than they have been since 1929. (See the charts at the right.)
In other words, corporate profits are at an all-time high, but none of those massive gains are reaching the vanishing middle class through jobs and/or wages.
Meanwhile, we’ve seen an expansion of big tax breaks for large corporations and the wealthy, which have forced even deeper cuts to our classrooms and basic priorities like health care for seniors and public safety. Oregon is tied for the lowest business taxes in the country. It’s no coincidence that we also have the third-largest class sizes in the nation, and one of the shortest school years.
Now more than ever, we need the ability for workers to come together to protect our wages and benefits and fight for working people. The economic health of our country and our state depends on a strong middle-class.
However, the Oregonian, along with their allies like the Koch Brothers and Karl Rove, want to take away the ability of working people to fight for our future.
The Oregonian has turned the sage words of Mencken upside down. They’re only looking out for the comfortable, and working to make sure that everyone else stays afflicted.