Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Werner Herzog: "Do something about it" if you're mad about GOP attacks on workers, education, the poor

(Werner Herzog at Rhodes College in Memphis in September)

German film director Werner Herzog, famous for films such as Aguirre, the Wrath of God, Nosferatu, and Lessons of Darkness, told an audience at Rhodes College in Memphis recently that grumbling about President Trump and Republican rule is meaningless unless you’re willing to do something about it.

“The heartland is the best of America, the real core of America,” Herzog said in a wide-ranging talk about film, actors, and current times after a screening of his 2005 film The Wild Blue Yonder. “For the first time, they combined their voices, and no matter who they elected, in this case, Trump, you better take it seriously. … It is very easy to denounce. If there is discontent among you with this president, do something about it. Stand up, vote, rally other people. Things might change.”

Certainly this is the winter of a lot of discontent. And certainly something needs to be done about it.

After losing a bitter election at the giant Nissan plant in Canton, Mississippi, in August, the United Auto Workers went on to lose another election at Fuyao Glass America in Dayton, Ohio, the culmination of an 18-month struggle. The vote was 886-441.

The Republican-led Congress is weighing a tax bill that will damage workers’ lives on a number of fronts, including changes in worker classification in the gig/platform/sharing sectors. Making workers independent contractors rather than employees has long been a trick by companies such as FedEx, and it’s their way to avoid paying pension and other benefits and to keep those workers from unionizing.

Another Republican proposal is to require students who are Pell Grant recipients to repay their grants if they fail to finish college within six years. At present, such repayments are not required. It is yet another assault on education led by elitist politicians who see education as a benefit for their own, not average working people.

According to a UAW statement this month, the GOP tax plan “will make it easier to ship even more good-paying manufacturing jobs overseas by eliminating taxes on offshore profit. This tax plan blows a hole in the federal deficit and sticks you and your grandchildren with the bill. The GOP plan also unfairly raises taxes on the middle class and retirees.”

More and more people in this country struggle while the Dow Jones industrial average grows by double digit numbers. Nation magazine columnist Eric Alterman reports that 5 million more Americans are “food insecure” at the same time the 400 wealthiest Americans saw their net worth grow to $2.4 trillion. In total, some 41 million Americans aren’t sure about their next meal.

Meanwhile Trump wants to cut $191 billion from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, a 25 percent cut.

Is the Democratic Party preparing massive resistance? Well, Will Marshall, a co-founder of the centrist, pro-corporate Democratic Leadership Council that nurtured the likes of former President Clinton, wants the party to adopt what Nation magazine calls a “$20 million program to discover how to talk to working people without alienating Wall Street.”

We wouldn’t want to alienate Wall Street, would we? Not that Wall Street gives a damn.

Not sure this is what Werner Herzog had in mind.

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