Monthly Archives: March 2011

In My Own Words: Why Unions Matter

Bit of history: I am not your typical leftist-liberal big-union person. In fact, I have issues with a lot of union activities, mostly with union leadership and the ridiculous amount of (perceived and/or real) corruption at the top. Union leadership has, from my admittedly comfortable seats always been the most negative aspect of the modern labor movement. However, corruption hardly requires a union card to happen, as you need only search your local paper to find.

Despite this early resistance to organized labor, I always respected the right of people to unionize and collectively bargin. I don’t have to agree with them, I don’t even have to support them, but it’s a right earned over many battles with business and government. When measured against the negative, the good done by unions always outweighed the bad. Hell, even Ronald Reagan said “… where free unions and collective bargaining are forbidden, freedom is lost.” (He also said “Government’s first duty is to protect the people, not run their lives,” a point apparently lost on the Governors of a few states.)

I got into a twitter argument with a family member today and one his comments struck me. He said (paraphrasing) they [unions] did not care about the company, only their paychecks. And it struck me that that point was exactly where I turned on the issues currently moving through the political sausage machine in this state right now.

It’s not that they care only about their paychecks, but they do care more about their pay than the company does, that’s their point in existing. But the unspoken aspect of that statement was there as well, that somehow businesses didn’t operate this way. Somehow, businesses are operating in some interest of their employees. Which is a complete and utter lie, sold to workers by cheerful HR folks and corporate propagandists. Businesses don’t care about employees,they care about their bottom lines; they have to. When the finances get tough, employees are the ones made to suffer (and not executives either, it’s you and me, brother). I’ve been through the layoff cycle (three rounds in less than 6 months). Hundreds of employees tossed out on the street because the bottom line needed to be firm.

And union workers took the first hit. Factory workers laid off, lines closed down, the whole thing. And management was terrified. Why? Because the union started grumbling. They never said it, never threatened it, but the word “strike” was always just off to the side of conversations. The next two rounds were white-collar only. And not one management type batted an eye.

Why? Because office workers can’t do the one thing that probably saved more factory jobs. We can’t organize. We can’t protest. We can’t. Say. Shit.

This cycle is happening again in Michigan. Public employees make too much (except they don’t). The Tough Nerd is going to save the state, though. And how is he going to do that? By cutting taxes on businesses, and making the rest of us cover the difference. By giving dictatorial powers to financial managers (who, conveniently can dissolve unions and entire governments if they see fit). Take note, patriots: a governmental body just gave a non-elected position the right and ability to dissolve local governments.

This will become the reverberating refrain for our generation, politicians in the pocket of big business leaving working people holding the bag. It’s the kind of behavior organized people can work to prevent. I may not have agreed or supported unions in the past, but I do today.

Can we call them Fascists yet?

Quoting directly from Reddit user Veteren4Peace:

Fourteen Defining Characteristics Of Fascism

  1. Powerful and Continuing Nationalism – Fascist regimes tend to make constant use of patriotic mottos, slogans, symbols, songs, and other paraphernalia. Flags are seen everywhere, as are flag symbols on clothing and in public displays. ::check
  2. Disdain for the Recognition of Human Rights - Because of fear of enemies and the need for security, the people in fascist regimes are persuaded that human rights can be ignored in certain cases because of “need.” The people tend to look the other way or even approve of torture, summary executions, assassinations, long incarcerations of prisoners, etc. ::check
  3. Identification of Enemies/Scapegoats as a Unifying Cause – The people are rallied into a unifying patriotic frenzy over the need to eliminate a perceived common threat or foe: racial , ethnic or religious minorities; liberals; communists; socialists, terrorists, etc. ::big fucking check
  4. Supremacy of the Military – Even when there are widespread domestic problems, the military is given a disproportionate amount of government funding, and the domestic agenda is neglected. Soldiers and military service are glamorized. ::ridiculously enormous check
  5. Rampant Sexism – The governments of fascist nations tend to be almost exclusively male-dominated. Under fascist regimes, traditional gender roles are made more rigid. Divorce, abortion and homosexuality are suppressed and the state is represented as the ultimate guardian of the family institution. ::oh fuck yeah
  6. Controlled Mass Media – Sometimes to media is directly controlled by the government, but in other cases, the media is indirectly controlled by government regulation, or sympathetic media spokespeople and executives. Censorship, especially in war time, is very common. *::ಠ_ಠ *
  7. Obsession with National Security – Fear is used as a motivational tool by the government over the masses. ::oh yeah
  8. Religion and Government are Intertwined – Governments in fascist nations tend to use the most common religion in the nation as a tool to manipulate public opinion. Religious rhetoric and terminology is common from government leaders, even when the major tenets of the religion are diametrically opposed to the government’s policies or actions. ::check
  9. Corporate Power is Protected – The industrial and business aristocracy of a fascist nation often are the ones who put the government leaders into power, creating a mutually beneficial business/government relationship and power elite. ::Fuckin’ A
  10. Labor Power is Suppressed – Because the organizing power of labor is the only real threat to a fascist government, labor unions are either eliminated entirely, or are severely suppressed. ::watched the news lately?
  11. Disdain for Intellectuals and the Arts – Fascist nations tend to promote and tolerate open hostility to higher education, and academia. It is not uncommon for professors and other academics to be censored or even arrested. Free expression in the arts and letters is openly attacked. ::check
  12. Obsession with Crime and Punishment – Under fascist regimes, the police are given almost limitless power to enforce laws. The people are often willing to overlook police abuses and even forego civil liberties in the name of patriotism. There is often a national police force with virtually unlimited power in fascist nations. ::check
  13. Rampant Cronyism and Corruption – Fascist regimes almost always are governed by groups of friends and associates who appoint each other to government positions and use governmental power and authority to protect their friends from accountability. It is not uncommon in fascist regimes for national resources and even treasures to be appropriated or even outright stolen by government leaders. ::check
  14. Fraudulent Elections – Sometimes elections in fascist nations are a complete sham. Other times elections are manipulated by smear campaigns against or even assassination of opposition candidates, use of legislation to control voting numbers or political district boundaries, and manipulation of the media. Fascist nations also typically use their judiciaries to manipulate or control elections. ::Well, what do you know?

Not only is it “okay” to call the Republicans fascist, it’s getting kind of redundant and obvious to do so.

Michigan is a battleground in a fight for the soul of America.