For the record, I'm in the "partially blame the people" category as far as last week's depressing election results are concerned.
You really have to wonder how millions of people could conceivably vote against their economic interests, particularly when those economic interests are in such apparent, grave danger. Middle Americans don't need a flashy news channel to distort facts and figures about the state of healthcare and retirement in the U.S. (although this does happen). They need only look at their dwindling paychecks and their debt-laden credit card bills to see their financial truth. So, as people continue to debate about who and what to blame or not to blame in the wake of George Bush's 51% majority vote mandate to destroy the livelihoods of the people of America (and the lives of people overseas) for four more years, consider this:
The Wall Street Journal reported this morning that over the past two years, companies have become emboldened by federal court rulings to sue retired union workers in order to skirt their responsibility for paying retirees' health benefits. Did you get that?! Companies are asking judges to rule that companies have the right to renege their contractual obligation to unionized workers to pay for their medical bills after retirement. And most times, the judges are complying and the companies are winning - or as they say in Corporate World, they are successfully "engaging in annualized cost savings that would be accretive to earnings."
How can a company just sue random employees? There is a method to the madness. Instead of just simply ending or cutting back on retired workers' health benefits, companies are taking a (ahem) proactive approach and handing employees law suit papers so that the companies can decide the jurisdictions in which the subsequent cases will be tried. Essentially, companies are trying to beat employees to the courtroom punch. While these cases are being tried in corporate-friendly jurisdictions, retirees are stuck footing the bills of their frozen benefit accounts. In many instances, according to the article, financially overwhelmed retirees drop out of the company-sponsored health retirement plans or they retirees die. Either way, the company bringing the suit comes out on top.
Of course, companies couldn't get away with this type of chicanery without the complicity of the government. As reported in the Journal, when asked what workers can do when they are sued by the company they labored for for most of their adult lives, a Labor Department official said it didn't have an answer because retired workers "aren't our constituents anymore."
Four more years! Four more years! Instead of the working class rallying together to defeat the economic war being waged upon it, people are voting based on their hatred for gays and women's right to choose. Why millions of people in the U.S. can't make the logical transition from understanding they are increasingly sinking into poverty when they don't have to, to asking why and because of whom - is beyond me. If anyone has an explanation, I'm a willing convert to the "don't blame the people" crowd.
I'm not saying people deserve this treatment. I'm merely saying that the people who voted Bush into office are not as naive and misinformed (in cases of economic security) as we are making them out to be. So, if so many can look at their bank accounts and feel the pains in their bodies, and can make judgments about values, then why can't they say 'enough be enough?' So far, this practice of companies suing retirees to avoid paying medical bills is not widespread but the practice is gaining momentum, and fast.