Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Labor in America

There are two fundamental aspects to the American economy that have helped to define us as a leading power in the world and forged us into the beacon of hope for millions across the globe. The first is the middle class lifestyle. When most of the world is polarized as rich and poor, America has championed the middle ground, the man who makes enough to support a family and can make ends meet. It is a fundamentally American ideal, this ability to stand up on one's own two feet and make it. The second aspect is harder to see and define. It is the knowledge that we as American workers are protected from the powers of the wealthy, the oppression of the powerful, and are given equal right and representation under the law and in our government regardless of our income.

These two fundamental aspects of American Life are as sacred as the American Flag. They are symbols of what makes America great, and they should instill a sense of pride in anyone who takes the time to appreciate them.

Yet despite this, despite the importance of things like organized labor, the middle class, and workers rights, there is a strong movement to dismantle this part of our nation's legacy.

All a person needs to do is turn on the radio and listen to Rush Limbaugh or Howie Carr. Or, turn on the TV and watch FOX news, Glenn Beck, or the numerous GOP presidential candidates and numberless ideologues. There is a vibrant anti-worker movement that has been growing steadily in influence and power for decades.

On Labor Day, these venomous individuals came out to protest the very foundations of the worker's holiday. They said it was "Socialist-Supported Labor Day" on the Glenn Beck program. The fight in Wisconsin recently over union rights and worker protections is still a source of contention and example, both sides pulling statistics and strength from what has become one of the most iconic labor battles of our recent politics.

The underlying themes of the anti-union movement are suprisingly sensible. They are based on a system of checks and balances. Those who oppose unions do so because they believe they are too powerful and that they are able to force businesses to do things that are not in the business's own best interest. In many ways, the anti-union movement is important because it helps to keep everything balanced,

But like all things, it gets to be bad when there's too much of it. And when there is too much opposition to organized labor, the laborers seem to lose out. It is happening all over America right now. GOP candidates for President are complaining about the unions while simultaneously trying to portray themselves as the champions of the working classes. Many statistics have shown that when the middle class workers are pushed out and marginalized, the economy suffers. Conversely, when the middle class does well, so does the economy and everyone else as a result. The Tea Party has formed up to protest against unions, saying they infringe on rights and are a government puppet. No one seems to stop and wonder about the worker's rights.

By attempting to break up unions without breaking up their arch rivals, the corporations, conservatives are pushing the balance of power in favor of big business rather than the workers, who are the backbone of America. By removing the ability for workers to combine their force and voice to request better pay and benefits and so on, we are removing the ability of the American worker to experience the joy of a good day's pay for a job well done.

Unions represent the very heart and soul of America, it's determination to stand united and demand excellence. Unions don't coddle blue-collar workers or twist the arms of CEO's. Ask any local teacher's union how effective they are at getting what teachers need. Ask a coal miner whose part of a union what kind of scare tactics the unions used to get him a raise that put him just barely over minimum wage. No, unions aren't the problem. It's irresponsible to complain about the amazing benefits received by retired teachers when you compare those benefits to what many CEO's get, or even what many school board members receive. Unions don't create inequality, they try to fight it.

America was built as a union for a reason. By definition, a union is a number of persons, states, etc., joined or associated together for some common purpose. America is a number of states, individuals, and institutions combined for mutually beneficial existence. America's common purpose is to preserve every man, woman, and child's right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Should we dissolve worker's unions because they endeavour to protect groups of individuals from the power and money of big business? There are those who think so. But I believe that unions, the workers they represent, and the message they send, are as important and unwaveringly American as anything can be, and it should be in our best interest to protect and preserve them.

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