Ideology is a Mind Killer

Ideology is a Mind Killer

Friday, February 20, 2015

Bully for Labor! - Why Can't Labor Negotiate its Own Price?

By Mel Carriere

The Truth Bomb has taken a sabbatical for a little over two weeks now, and I apologize to anyone who has been following this blog in earnest.  It's not exactly like I've been taking a break from writing, it's just that there hasn't been any subject that has sparked my outrage enough to rant about it here on these pages.  This is my personal soapbox where I vent my spleen about political and social topics, but my spleen hasn't been bursting with indignation lately so there hasn't been a need to pop a writing catheter into it.

But three days ago my spleen started to look a little bit red and puffy again when I saw a Facebook post featuring a quote by Theodore Roosevelt, a former Republican President of the United States who was also, peculiarly enough by 2015 standards, a Progressive thinker.  Roosevelt caused a division within the GOP ranks in 1912 when he split with the Republicans and became the candidate of the short-lived "Bull Moose (Progressive)" party.  Along with its declaration of war on the "unholy alliance" between corrupt business and corrupt politics, the Progressive Party proposed such things workers take for granted today, such as minimum wage laws, an 8 hour workday, workmen's compensation, and limited injunctions in strikes.  Progressive thinkers today typically carry along a vial of holy water to protect themselves from spiritual contamination caused by anyone labeled with the demonic GOP tag, but at one time in this country there actually were open-minded Republicans who were fighting for the little guy and not trying to push back the clock on labor standards, as they do today.

So that's a brief synopsis of the importance of Theodore Roosevelt in history, and the Facebook post I saw about the good old rough riding Bull Moose said this:

It is essential that there should be organization of LABOR.  Capital organizes and therefore labor MUST ORGANIZE.

I'll be honest in saying that I don't know where this quote comes from.  I don't know when and where Teddy Roosevelt said it, or even if he said it at all.  Just because it's on the Internet doesn't necessarily make it real.  But the reason the quote attracted my attention is because it conforms to my own thoughts on the right of working people to organize and negotiate the price that employers pay for their services.

Labor is an essential component of the production process.  Raw materials are an essential component.  Factories, machine tools and computers are essential components, as is financial capital.

For some reason, however, economic philosophers of a conservative inclination accept the right of all these components of the production process to negotiate their own prices, except for labor.

The mine owner driving a load of iron ore to the back dock of the smelter is considered quite within his rights if he haggles over the price of that ore, or withholds it for a better price.  The industrialist providing the machinery to that factory would be called a fool if he didn't try to get the best price he could for his products.  The banker making a loan to the smelter to finance increased production is not looked at askance if he tries to get the best interest rates he can on that loan.

But for some outrageously inexplicable and unfair reason, collective bargaining by workers to get the highest price they can negotiate for their labor is met with outrage.  Union activity is looked upon by a significant portion of the American public these days as sketchy, immoral, even borderline illegal.

Furthermore, it is the working people who would benefit most from Unions who have the greatest complicity in causing their dangerous decline.  We have cut our own throats, in other words, by allowing the propaganda machine of Corporate America to plant this insidious, anti-Union worm into the minds of the voters, who are overwhelmingly workers.

We refer to many of our more affluent employers as the 1 percenters.  By extension, therefore, we are the 99 percenters.  99 percent of the vote beats 1 percent even in a Saddam Hussein sponsored election, so why do we continue to elect politicians who act contrary to our interests?  Why do we continue to allow ourselves to be brainwashed with this bogus "trickle down" theory of economics,which insists that if we leave the greedy billionaires to their own devices the accumulated wealth of these tycoons will spill over and come pouring down to the rest of us, to our great prosperity and happiness.

Today I heard a news items on the radio where Wal Mart was patting itself on the back for giving its workers a raise to 9 dollars an hour.  This isn't trickle down; this is a clogged pipe from which only an occasional drop of rusty, tainted, undrinkable water makes its way down to the thirsty masses below.  Wal Mart's move is a joke and an insult.  The corporation hiding behind the slick smiley face mask is saying to its workers  that they aren't even as good as animals.  The six Wal-Mart Waltons on the Forbes list of billionaires have a net worth of 144.7 billion.  None of that wealth would be possible except for those wage slave workers who toil away toward the ultimate comfort of the Waltons every day, and in gratitude from their magnanimous employer continue to live below the poverty line.

My favorite author and fellow Californian John Steinbeck said that the poor in America "...see themselves not as an exploited proletariat but as temporarily embarrassed millionaires."  Therein lies the problem.

We've allowed this to happen to ourselves, my friends.  Business cannot function without us.  We've got to start organizing again  and get the bigger piece of the pie that we deserve.  "Trickle down" was a corporate lie that Ronald Reagan force fed down our throats.  Let's take a lesson from the much wiser Republican Theodore Roosevelt who said that not only is it a good idea that labor should organize, but that it is essential.  He said, in fact, that we MUST organize.

If one of the rich fat cats is letting us in on one of the secrets, I think we should pay attention.

Image attributed to:  "T Roosevelt" by Pach Brothers (photography studio) - This image is available from the United States Library of Congress's Prints and Photographs division under the digital ID cph.3f06209.This tag does not indicate the copyright status of the attached work. A normal copyright tag is still required. See Commons:Licensing for more information.العربية | čeština | Deutsch | English | español | فارسی | suomi | français | magyar | italiano | македонски | മലയാളം | Nederlands | polski | português | русский | slovenčina | slovenščina | Türkçe | 中文 | 中文(简体)‎ | 中文(繁體)‎ | +/−. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons -

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