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Setting Laborers Against Labor

March 29th, 2011

How the right wing is maintaining it’s all-out assault on labor is mystifying to me, in that labor is, essentially, what almost every American person who goes to work actually does. Somehow, people have started believing that labor only represents and benefits a selected few, people who are incompetent leeches who do little of value while receiving fat paychecks and exorbitant benefits packages.

That definition better describes corporate executives, not working stiffs. And yet conservatives have convinced a huge swath of laborers that “labor” describes only specific workers who are causing all their woes, and that the corporate fat cats are the ones who need protecting. “Labor” is people who work for a living. Not just teachers, not just union members. It’s anyone who works for a wage.

Labor laws which make sure your employer can’t abuse you, must pay you a minimum wage, must provide a safe workplace–these are what the labor movement, and yes, even those evil unions, have given us.

And yet somehow people are being led to believe that the laws that keep workers safe and free from abuse are actually damaging and destroying jobs because of how stifling and repressive they are, and that laws which guarantee a basic living wage are bad for the worker due to a superficial rationale that sounds correct but, strangely, has never been demonstrated in reality.

We know that conservatives have been doing this for quite some time, but now they have broken free from the constraints that previously held them in place. It is in part due to the rather notable swing to the right the country has taken, and the pathetic attempt by the left to stay relevant by swinging almost as much to the right. It is in part due to the drive to redefine almost everything in conservative terms, a movement propelled by Gingrich in the 1990’s and sustained by the non-stop conservative campaign in the media via the preponderance of conservative commentators and the juggernaut which is Fox News. It was given false legitimacy during the Bush administration, where all manner of illegalities could be committed and were rarely investigated or punished, to the point where people just take such things for granted now and don’t even blink when they see news about them. And now it has been given new fire by this nebulous Tea Party movement, which, like most conservative movements, is a small minority, and yet commands almost irresistible influence.

So we see the Republicans in Wisconsin coming up with a transparent lie that the budget is being busted by teachers unions, and so they unilaterally strip educators of their collective bargaining rights, a ploy being attempted in many Republican-held legislatures across the country. In its wake, we see the path littered with individual acts of malfeasance, from the Republican Party’s attempt to intimidate a professor for speaking out by demanding access to his emails, to an out-of-state Republican seriously proposing a “false flag” operation, where someone pretending to be in labor would make an assassination attempt against the Republican governor so as to stir public animosity against their opponents. All while Fox News heavily tilted coverage and faked their own news of union violence.

The governor of Maine, in an act far less serious but just as indicative of anti-union sentiment, actually had a mural depicting laborers removed from the lobby of the Labor Department for the state. Why? Because it wasn’t pro-business enough. Yes, god forbid the labor department be about labor instead of business. Have you ever heard a Democrat complaining that the Department of Commerce was too pro-business? Seriously?

It doesn’t matter if you are not a union member. Unions and labor movements are why you have a halfway decent job–and if you don’t have a halfway decent job, the lack of labor protection is probably why. Labor movements are why you’re not being paid a dollar an hour to work in unsafe conditions with your employer having all the power and you having none. People take these conditions for granted, assume that they cannot regress or that if they can, it has nothing to do with labor organizations. And they will probably continue to believe so even as their work conditions continue to degrade to the point where they will feel it necessary to do something about it.

And even then, they will probably lack the will to start anything resembling a union, because unions are bad. Everyone knows that.

  1. Troy
    March 29th, 2011 at 14:18 | #1

    The wealthy have erected ideological defenses pretty well since 1970.

    The GOP has always been the defenders of inherited wealth and privilege, and during the gilded age between Lincoln and FDR (save Cleveland and Wilson, but both were pro-business conservatives) they ran the country.

    The Democrats are useless, but I fear there just isn’t enough “progressive” moxie left in this country.

    The old jobs are gone and aren’t coming back.

    The Medicare promises to the baby boomers are going to be very costly, and while there will be more jobs in health care because of this, these jobs aren’t creating new wealth, they are just providing services to preserve the health of the elderly, which is a form of consumption actually.

    (not that Granny living a good life as healthy as possible is a bad thing, but the costs that come with this are going to be borne by today’s workers)

    The Republicans have wisely picked up the God, gays, and abortion cards — old people feel very strongly about these issues so catering to them is going to continue to give Republicans a powerful voting bloc.

    And now that old baby boomers are retiring, the Republicans can even go after labor more!

    The left has no answers against the right’s campaign to cut taxes. “But we need those taxes . . .” isn’t a winning argument since the electorate are retards who do not understand the budget numbers involved at all.

    This is a very good environment for Republicans to operate in.

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