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Wednesday, December 12, 2012

The election is over, but the attack on the middle class lingers on

Some  wags who covered the South Dakota statehouse used to quip that the legislators' idea of an economic development plan is the repeal of the 13th Amendment.  (For those who might not know it by the number, it's the amendment that abolishes slavery.)  We haven't regressed so far in the social reforms that permit outright forced labor, but indentured servitude has been the concept on which South Dakota labor laws are written, and other states are quickly joining it to diminish the workforce to indentured status.  The re-establishment of the master-serf relationship between employer and employee is a major effort of the Republican Party.

The Republican Party has the right, of course, to advocate a return to the feudal relationships that our immigrant ancestors came to America to escape.  What is intolerable is when the party of Scott Walker in Wisconsin takes away collective bargaining rights for public employees and the party of Gov. Rick Snyder  in Michigan legislates to join South Dakota as a right-to-work state, but insists on calling itself the party of Lincoln.  Nothing is more contrary to the values articulated by Lincoln than dismissing and disrespecting working people and  reducing them to the level of servitude.  He was committed to the ideal that "all men should receive a full, good, and every increasing reward for their labors so they might have the opportunity to rise in life."  In an early message to Congress, Lincoln defined the challenge of democracy to give every American "an unfettered start, and a fair chance in the race of life" and to "elevate the condition of men, to lift artificial weights from all shoulders to clear the paths of laudable pursuit for all."  It is because of the application of those standards that Illinois, the Land of Lincoln, is a state that supports collective bargaining.  Giving workers a negotiating voice concerning their pay and their working conditions is a way to meet the standards of respect and fairness that Lincoln worked to establish.  

Workers are an evil to the 1 percent and their wannabes.  Labor unions are detested by them because they give workers a measure of equality in the marketplace.  The measure of equality comes from the fact that working people can organize and bargain with employers, giving them a voice in their pay and working conditions.  To many employers, this is a noxious circumstance, because it gives employees a voice in how a company is managed.  The power of organized workers is a deeply resented threat to those who wish to dictate terms of existence to those they consider underlings.

The first business of totalitarian regimes is to rid themselves of labor unions.  Hitler did it cleverly.  He banned independent unions and replaced them with a labor organization that was under the direct control of the Nazi leadership.  He needed an obedient and responsive workforce, so he gave the workers what the unions would bargain for in terms of pay and benefits in return for a dedicated loyalty to the Nazis.  Stalin also outlawed independent unions and created a Kremlin-controlled system.  He was neither as generous or successful in obtaining worker loyalty, and many, many workers in the Soviet Union were consigned to death camps.  

Labor unions are viewed as a huge obstacle by those who wish to impose totalitarianism as the rule of a nation,  The GOP, with its advance troops, ALEC, has become fully devoted to a battle in class warfare that designates working people and those who expect some of the fairness Lincoln promoted as candidates for ignominy and disposal.  Mitt Romney estimated this number at 47 percent and Paul Ryan at 33 percent.  While they may quibble over the percentage, the essential point is that in their minds and intentions have divided Americans in the ways that malevolent despots have historically treated people they consider as their inferiors.  The GOP is adopting the Chinese standard for treating the working people, and is devoted to competing with China and outdoing its system of inequality. 

What Michigan's right-to-work laws consitute is an open refutation of the notions of liberty, equality, and equal justice.  Their concept of workers' rights is that workers be given the right to grovel in degraded obeisance in front of the American nobility and the right to accept the designation of  being a lower form of human life.  The arguments for right-to-work advanced by Gov. Snyder and the ALEC uber-fuhrers on one level totally ignores the facts of history of what unions have accomplished to "elevate the condition of men, to lift artificial weights from all shoulders to clear the paths of laudable pursuit for all."  On another level, they fully acknowledge the voice unions give working people and the dangers it imposes on their designs of oppression. 

When Wisconsin took away the right of Wisconsin teachers to collectively bargain, a senior professor at the U. of Wisconsin warned that the state was headed for a return to the bitter and destructive conditions that existed before collective bargaining was given full sanction.  I, too, am old enough to recall the turmoil in Illinois before the National Labor Relations Act established the rules for collective bargaining.  Particularly bitter was the open, lead-pipe battles at the gates of the Farmall plant in Rock Island, when a Marxist-inspired faction and the UAW-CIO fought for representation rights.  The fact that the Gov. Walkers and Snyders and their ilk cannot grasp is that there are some people who will not submit to a voiceless inferiority under any circumstance.  They will instead take full advantage of the 2nd Amendment rights and form themselves into a well-regulated militia.  Syria shows how it can be done.  

For 3 decades, under the policies advanced by the GOP, American earnings and wealth has systematically been bilked away from the middle class and reposited with the upper percenters.  It began when the Reagan administration relinquished manufacturing in America and devised an economic plan that would turn the middle class into serving class.  The middle class is beginning to recognize and understand the degree of betrayal imposed upon it under the trickle down rule of governance.  The task now is to restore a government of the people and overthrow a government of the coporatocracy.

Move over Egypt and Syria.  The American middle class is in a fight to save itself. 

1 comment:

John said...

The right wing-nuts: rushing headlong back to the future. Because our collective memories are 3 generations necessitating the bloody cycle to repeat.

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Aberdeen, South Dakota, United States