A lot of what is wrong with America can be best represented by a single product - the Twinkie. Despite years and years of successfully putting products on the marketplace, Hostess became a mirror image for a country that has lost respect for folks who have worked hard, been highly productive and yet continue to fall further behind.
To hear right-wingers portray it, Hostess and their iconic Twinkies were forced off the market by evil union thugs who intimidated and stole from the poor workers who run Hostess.
As always, the truth in right-wing fantasy is far different than their propaganda. The problem at Hostess was never hard working Americans who wanted to attain the middle-class - it was incompetence due to idiotic greed, something that has crippled our country for the last thirty years.
Mary Sanchez in an op-ed for the Orlando Sentinel recently elaborated about the failings at Hostess, which have nothing to do with workers expecting to be dealt with fairly:
Unfortunately, reality is not quite so simple. Recently, we learned - from the Wall Street Journal, no less - that the company had diverted payments it was supposed to make to the employee pension fund into other operating accounts. This at a time when finances were tight and management nevertheless decided to give itself more bonuses and salary raises.
She went on to explain brilliantly why that is exactly what is wrong all over our country:
This is the new America: Bonuses and stock options for the top brass, pink slips and blame for the working class. Most Hostess employees had taken steep pay cuts over the last few years. One of the major reasons the bakers union went on strike was that the company was not honoring prior pension agreements.
Don't be mistaken. What happened at Hostess is part of a long, protracted shift in the American workplace. Companies use any means at their disposal, including bankruptcy reoganization, to get rid of unions. Meanwhile, right-wing think tanks and pundits demonize union members as freeloaders and thugs. It has been a decades-long project, and it's been incredibly successful.
And about the disastrous results:
Yet for all the bluster about makers and takers, job creators and moochers off society, one group is habitually left voiceless. They are the people who actually perform manual work, the blue-collar employees. They operate forklifts, stand on assembly lines, drive trucks and, yes, put sugary cream into yellow cakes.
The way I see it, as long as this is the way of "doing business" in America, our country is doomed. Somewhere, sometime soon in this country work and the people who do it must be respected once again. As long as ownership and management insist on obsessing in finding ways to cheat working Americans out of a few more pennies on the dollar instead of rewarding them fairly for the huge profits they create our country will never be a true "leader of the free world" again.
Our country is strong and a beacon to the world when the dream of a middle-class is alive and when someone can actually work and make enough to achieve it. I believe our economy is much stronger too when more Americans have more expendable income to contribute to it instead of just a very few. What I cannot believe is that so many Americans refuse to stand up for themselves and their families and demand it.