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Even When You Win, You Lose

As I write this in September 2015, unions are trying to get back to the status they had in 1957, civil rights activists are trying to re-win the victories of 1965, and all American voters are trying to regain control over the electoral process. I'm leading up to something here.

George Meyers

Two of my heroes: George and Elaine

Beginning around 1985, I was privileged to know a man named George Meyers. Among the many things he taught me was the simple fact that those of us who struggle will always have to fight again for the same victories, as long as we remain under this capitalist system. The easiest example is labor union contracts. A union may have a big fight with a company and end up with a pretty good contract, but they have to do it all over again when the contract expires. There are no permanent victories because the bosses are still in charge and they can still take away anything we win. That may not sound particularly profound, but it is, especially when you realize that it applies to all forms of struggle within this society.

You might stop the war in Vietnam, but that doesn't stop the U.S. invasion of Nicaragua. You can win voting rights for minorities, but that doesn't stop the Supreme Court from taking them away again. You can win a steadily improving standard of living, but that doesn't keep the bosses from taking it away. This is one of the most important concepts in American politics.

I'll admit, though, that I have trouble getting anyone to agree with me about it. I recently tried putting it into a song and putting it on YouTube. Here are the lyrics:

The House Rules
By Gene Lantz 9/14/15
I guess you've read romances, About the gambler who must take chances
He's often, too, a drunkard and a souse
Long run he always loses, no matter what he chooses
Because he can't keep himself from betting against the house
When you think of our elections, with all their imperfections
They say if you don't vote then you can't grouse
But remember old Al Gore, lost by 5 to 4
But he knew that he was betting against the house
Even when we win one, they make us bet again son
There's a lesson here for every man and mouse
I hope you get my meaning, we need more than just house cleaning
Or we'll always be betting against the house
(bridge) The house rules, the house rules
And they only allow sucker bets for fools

It doesn't mean we shouldn't struggle hard to win little victories. It just means that we have to keep our eyes on the prize.


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