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Opinion | What has your government done for you?

Labor Day background with USA rustic wooden flag and utility belt plus hard hat

I’m going to ask you a question, and before you land on the answer that your chosen political affiliation has conditioned you to provide, I want you to think about it. Really think about it. For just a second or two.

When is the last time the Alabama Legislature did anything for you, the common working man?

Remember, think about it.

And consider it in the proper context. This past legislative session, the lawmakers you elected went to Montgomery and they passed all sorts of bills. And they took tremendous pride in telling everyone how much they were helping Alabama businesses.

They cut businesses’ taxes. They handed out massive — millions upon millions of dollars — in tax breaks and outright handouts of cash to businesses. They even cut workers’ unemployment pay from 26 weeks to 14 weeks for the singular purpose of helping businesses cut expenses.

In the meantime, what’d you get?

While the businesses are now paying far, far less in taxes, did your paycheck get a bump? How about your health care costs — have they gone down a penny? What about your power bill or your gas bill?

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None of that?

Well, maybe your breaks came in a different fashion.

Maybe the cost of college at our state universities decreased? No?

Maybe the cost of two-year college programs were reduced? No again? Weird.

I know — home ownership. Did we get any breaks there? Nope?

So, nothing. You got nothing.

Now, before you start rattling off talking points and wallowing in your self-sufficiency, I should remind you that none of the businesses that got handouts from our lawmakers needed the money either. Almost all who have taken or will take advantage of the numerous, numerous tax breaks and tax dollar giveaways over the last few decades are wealthy, flourishing companies.

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Not a single one of them, I feel comfortable saying, is trying to decide between paying the light bill or the doctor’s bill this month.

So, don’t give me the “I don’t need nothin’ from the gubment” line of BS. You probably do need something. But this isn’t really about need. It’s about fairness. And about common sense.

And it’s mostly about a bunch of voters in this state who continue to fall for the cons of the scam artists who prey upon the dignity and pride of the average Alabama resident in order to do favors for wealthy donors.

It is depressing to watch this pathetic drama unfold day after day, week after week, year after year.

Alabama’s conservative politicians preach about morals and values, promise jobs, jobs, jobs and wave a Bible around. Then, they hand out billions to corporate “bigwigs” and their close pals, celebrate when some company announces a few hundred jobs at some of the lowest wages in the developed world, and tell you to suck it up when the paycheck runs out before the month and the pollution makes all of you sick.

It would probably provide quite a lesson in human behavior to study just how one group of greedy, self-involved swindlers managed to so thoroughly bamboozle a group of people that they would not only vote against their own interests, but they’d help in the campaign against themselves.

Because that’s what’s happened in Alabama. Not only do you not vote for yourselves and your families, you are active participants in a movement that encourages others to follow suit.

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You fight Medicaid expansion because … I’ll be honest, I have no idea why, except maybe some guy on a TV somewhere told you it was bad or called it “socialism” or something. The same goes for single-payer health care, which has managed to be enormously successful in pretty much every developed country, but somehow isn’t good enough for the backwoods of Alabama.

When some goober like state Sen. Arthur Orr tried to cut the paltry funds that go to welfare recipients or does cut the amount of unemployment an out-of-work Alabamian can receive, you all cheer and pretend that it’s a blow against deadbeats. As if the people most affected aren’t you with a dash of bad luck.

And then there are the unions. The unions that saved thousands of Alabamians’ grandparents from starvation and workplace deformities. The unions that invented overtime, paid vacations, a 40-hour work week and fair pay.

With them, the CEO-to-average worker pay ratio was 30 to 1. In 2017, it was 286 to 1.

Recently, a chicken plant in Georgia decided to unionize. By sheer luck, workers at a plant in Dothan were caught up in it. They got $1.50 raise per hour, regular pay raises, are now allowed to count personal days towards overtime pay and a number of other concessions that will make their work lives better.

The company is still profitable. Very profitable. And the increases, you can rest assured, are within a profit range that is acceptable.

All because some people stood up and said, wait a damn minute, this ain’t fair. They worked the system in place in this country that assures some level of fairness. And today, with their pride and self-sufficiency still firmly intact, they have a better job.

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That’s what it takes — standing up for yourself, demanding your piece of the pie, not falling for the BS.

It is literally up to you.


Josh Moon is an investigative reporter and featured columnist at the Alabama Political Reporter with years of political reporting experience in Alabama. You can email him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter.

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