George Santayana said, “Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” And perhaps for those who live in a nation, the majority of whose citizens are not smarter than a 5th graders, it is inevitable. So, for a brief history lesson: Unions were the drivers for wage-and-hours laws, child labor restrictions, abolishing sweatshops and raising concerns that eventually led to federal laws governing safety in the workplace. And for their trouble, union members were beaten, jailed and even killed. Unions in nursing – whether or not you are or ever have been a union member, helped raise your salary, get you paid vacations, helped get you benefits like health. I ought to know, I remember when nurses did not have any of this – and they had to scrub the floors and sharpen their own needles to boot! I have never been a union member and yet I have benefited, along with millions of other nurses, because of the union movement.
And while unions today may – or may not – have become too powerful, they are part of a necessary check and balance in a fair system.
Unions – public or private – are not the enemy. Unions – public or private – did not cause globalization, they are not the source of new ‘labor saving’ technologies that cost jobs, and certainly unions did not cause the Wall Street wrong-doing that led to the current recession (nor of the government bail-outs that saved corporations and banks from their own greed).
Anti-union fervor, especially against public employees, is sweeping the nation’s legislatures. The Tea-Party darlings Walker of Wisconsin and Kasich in Ohio are leading the charge. Proposition 5 passed the Ohio Senate by one vote on March 2, 2011. Wisconsin’s Governor Walker continues to insist on stripping away the collective bargaining rights of many public employees (all except the 3 unions that endorsed him in the last election) even after they’ve agreed to the financial concessions the governor said are needed to balance the state’s budget. Indiana, under Gov. Mitch Daniels limited many state workers’ bargaining rights in 2005.
No, unions are not the problem; they actually are trying to be part of the solution. Extremism and polarization are the problem. Irresponsible reporting and out-and-out lies are the problem. Demagoguery is the problem. The publics’ undifferentiated anger is the problem.
The solutions are not impossible for any rational person to figure out: if you are in debt you have several rational courses of action: increase income, decrease spending, and run your house more efficiently. Even though we need more to do more, the Obama administration has made the federal government a tad more productive in a variety of modest ways. A tax on personal assets would increase income so dramatically that we would be could pay off the national debt within one tax year – and it would hit only people who have assets (the richest among us). If taxing assets is too radical for you, how about a national sales tax? Or possibly a value added tax? These taxes would hit hardest those most addicted to conspicuous consumption. Decrease spending – okay: but since when do we decrease spending by taking the money from the old, the poor, the sick and the children of this country?
If those in power are indeed in bed with those who have money; if the powerful are intent upon making the middleclass continue to pay for the sins of the rich; if moderates roll-over and ideologues take over; if the robber barons of the 21st century are permitted to oppress the working class then we will have our own “twitter-rebellion” in the United States of America. It will be a class-war…and it is about the only thing that could bring our nation to its knees — and perhaps proclaim once again, “In God we trust.”
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/19/us/19union.html accessed 3/3/11
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/41760626/ns/politics-more_politics/ accessed 3/3/11
David Kimball and Cassie Gross, “the Growing Polarization of American Voters” https://www.uakron.edu/bliss/docs/state-of-the-parties-documents/Kimball.pdf accessed 3/3/11
http://politicalcorrection.org/factcheck/201102140010 accessed 3/3/11
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/01/opinion/01brooks.html accessed 3/3/11
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tax accessed 3/3/11