Progressives Reach Out To Business

  Progressives Reach Out To Business

From the Des Moines Business Record

Recently a new friend asked: “Why does Central Iowa need a Progressive Coalition and why is its formation important to the business community?”

I think I speak for all the members of the steering committee working on this coalition when I say that we feel the need to protect the USA. We see an America that is in serious peril of sliding down a path of predatory capitalism and arrogant militarism. We believe that path threatens America's very existence as a democracy.

That peril is not precipitated by global economics or terrorist wars. It is posed by a group of political operatives who are leading this country backward to a path we have been down once before with disastrous results.

That path ends in a stratified society, a society of rich and poor but no middle class . It is a society in which the disabled, the hungry and the elderly are set adrift to fend for themselves. It is the society envisioned by another group of Republicans during the early 20th century, starting with Calvin Coolidge and ending with Herbert Hoover as the bookends of a radical conservative era of tax-cutting and go-go predatory capitalism.

Theirs was an age of anti-unionism and the ephemeral stock market bubble of the “Roaring '20s.” Their arrogance, their conservative beliefs and their constituents' demands for more and more “instant” wealth led to the stock market crash of 1929 and the 13-year Great Depression.

That catastrophic outcome of their flawed policies so imprinted itself on the minds of two American generations that radical conservatism failed to regain political power for 45 years.

During that progressive period, America prospered beyond anyone's wildest dreams on the bedrock principles of the New Deal. Those principles included equal opportunity, collective bargaining, a path to wealth for all, a safety net for those in need and security for the elderly and the disabled.

But for the last 20 years, America has forgotten the evils that the New Deal wiped out.

Radical conservatives would have us forget the blood, tears and sacrifices of thousands of rank-and-file Americans in ensuring that they were treated with dignity and fairness in the workplace through collective bargaining. Those unions that the radical conservatives would vilify brought us such evils as the 40-hour workweek, paid vacations, overtime for all workers and a living wage for the great majority of Americans.

They would have us forget the lessons our grandparents learned in the Great Depression as the result of their failed leadership: unregulated capitalism leads to corruption, exploitation and destruction of the economic fabric of the country.

They would have us ignore the fact that when the middle and lower classes are persuaded by hate and fear to support aristocracy and imperialism, the people in those classes suffer the most.

The business community owes a special debt to progressive Democratic ideals. Those ideals have allowed them the opportunity to succeed through superior public education, a fair playing field and the freedom to work and create in an open economy.

That privilege engenders a special responsibility to oppose political and economic policies that would make the opportunity available only to the privileged few.

We on the Des Moines Progressive Coalition steering committee look forward to partnering with those business patriots who would help us stand up for the American progressive ideal.

Bruce Stone is the national director of sales and quality systems for Cable Tech Inc., which has its headquarters in Grimes.

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