Skip to main content

Why are the billionaires always laughing?

Because they know the corporate media will never call bullshit on their bullshit.

Why are the billionaires laughing?

It’s easy to laugh when the corporate press treats you as a glorious success instead of the epitome of a broken social order. Billionaires laugh because they know the corporate media prefers to fawn over them rather than hold them to account.

Today, we ask you to support our nonprofit, independent journalism because we are not impressed by billionaires flying into space, their corporations despoiling our health and planet, or their vast fortunes safely concealed in tax havens across the globe. We are not laughing.

We are hard at work producing journalism for the common good. With our Fall Campaign underway, please support this mission today. We cannot do it without you.

Support Our Work -- Join the small group of generous readers who donate, keeping Common Dreams free for millions of people each year. Every donation—large or small—helps us bring you the news that matters.

Labor leader Roseann DeMoro, former executive director of National Nurses United, during a panel discussion titled, "The Labor Movement: Essential to Democracy" at The Sanders Institute Gathering on Saturday. (Photo: Screengrab/The Sanders Institute Gathering)

Labor leader RoseAnn DeMoro, former executive director of National Nurses United, during a panel discussion titled, "The Labor Movement: Essential to Democracy" at The Sanders Institute Gathering on Saturday. (Photo: Screengrab/The Sanders Institute Gathering)

With Workers Under Attack, Labor Leaders Say Only 'Full-Throated Economic Populism' Can Defeat Corporate Elites

"We don't need more centrism. We don't need more half-baked economic ideas. We need to make sure that we grow the American labor movement."

Jake Johnson

BURLINGTON, VT. — With the American labor movement under relentless assault by the right-wing Supreme Court, the Republican Party at both the state and federal level, and President Donald Trump's plutocratic administration, prominent union leaders convened during the final day of The Sanders Institute Gathering on Saturday to confront the existential threat facing the working class and emphasize the urgency of organizing at the grassroots level to fight back and build political power.

"Unions and the working class need to be political as hell. Last time I checked, the Koch brothers are political as hell, Wall Street is political is hell."
—Mark Dimondstein, American Postal Workers Union

"The working class is hurting, and they're done with business as usual," Mark Dimondstein, president of the American Postal Workers Union, declared during a panel discussion titled, "The Labor Movement: Essential to Democracy."

Moderated by RoseAnn DeMoro—former executive director of National Nurses United (NNU)—the panel of progressive union leaders attributed Trump's presidential victory to the Democratic Party's decades-long corporate turn and abandonment of the working class, which left a gaping void that the billionaire real estate mogul exploited in his rise to power.

The result, Dimondstein argued, was "a lesser of two evils duopoly"—two dominant political parties that side with the interests of business over those of the working class.

"Political parties have failed, absolutely failed, the working class," Dimondstein said.

To begin rebuilding the labor movement in the face of the ceaseless assault from right-wing politicians and their billionaire benefactors, Good Jobs Nation executive director Joseph Geevarghese argued that the tepid centrism and incremental solutions offered by the Democratic establishment will not cut it.

"We don't need more centrism. We don't need more half-baked economic ideas," Geevarghese said during the panel discussion, which also included Peter Knowlton, general president of United Electrical, Radio, and Machine Workers of America.

"We need more full-throated economic populism," Geevarghese continued. "We need to make sure that we grow the American labor movement."

As the panelists readily acknowledged, the present state of organized labor is grim, particularly after the Supreme Court's Janus ruling, which dealt a major blow to public-sector unions. According to the most recent government data, just over 10 percent of American workers are union members—an all-time low.

"The labor movement isn't just people who are in unions, it's all of us."
—RoseAnn DeMoro

But there are plenty of bright spots, such as radicalized teachers unions striking to combat budget cuts and demanding fair pay nationwide, nurses leading the grassroots fight for Medicare for All, and workers throughout the country organizing for a $15 minimum wage.

"Working people are the most powerful force on Earth," said DeMoro, who retired this year as executive director of NNU, the largest nurses union in the United States. "The labor movement isn't just people who are in unions, it's all of us."

In order to defeat the corporate forces hellbent on completely eliminating workers' right to organize and bargain collectively for better wages and conditions, Dimondstein of the Postal Workers Union argued the working class must become as organized and political as the business elites it is combating.

"Unions and the working class need to be political as hell," Dimondstein concluded. "Last time I checked, the Koch brothers are political as hell, Wall Street is political is hell... We have to be political."

Watch the full panel discussion, which closed with a rousing group performance of Solidarity Forever, the union anthem by Ralph Chaplin, the iconic labor activist:


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

This is the world we live in. This is the world we cover.

Because of people like you, another world is possible. There are many battles to be won, but we will battle them together—all of us. Common Dreams is not your normal news site. We don't survive on clicks. We don't want advertising dollars. We want the world to be a better place. But we can't do it alone. It doesn't work that way. We need you. If you can help today—because every gift of every size matters—please do. Without Your Support We Simply Don't Exist.

As Sinema Blocks Corporate Tax Hike, Demand Grows for Wealth Tax on Billionaires

"It seems truly unhinged to look at a country full of working people struggling to get by... and decide that it's more important to preserve low tax rates for billionaires and corporations than it is to make significant investments in our families."

Julia Conley ·


Israel Condemned for Designating Palestinian Human Rights Groups 'Terrorist Organizations'

"Labeling effective NGOs 'terrorists' is a textbook way to evade accountability for human rights violations—and an affront to everyone who cares about peace," said Rep. Ilhan Omar.

Kenny Stancil ·


House Progressives Call On Biden to Declare a Climate Emergency—Now

"Your inaction," Rep. Cori Bush warned the president, "is undermining our efforts to deliver good jobs, environmental justice, and a renewable energy future."

Jessica Corbett ·


Despite Politicians and Pundits' Claims, Twitter Finds Algorithm Favors Right-Wing Voices

"So much for Trump's claim that Twitter has an anti-conservative bias."

Brett Wilkins ·


'And Maybe More': Biden Says He's Open to Reforming Filibuster to Win Voting Rights

"It's a simple choice between a free America or one chained by the past," said one advocate. "Our democracy hangs in the balance."

Julia Conley ·

Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.


Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo