Uncommon Sense

September 1, 2012

If Not Them, then Who?

I saw an interesting statistic recently. In 2011, more people died in work-related accidents than died in military service in Afghanistan. While the soldiers, rightfully, get some notice for their service and sacrifices, the dead workers get none.

Even OSHA is doing very little as businesses commit egregious violations of safety protocols and get no rebuke. OSHA seems to be playing run and hide from conservative critics.

When I look to see what or who is standing up for worker’s rights and worker safety, the only candidate which comes up are the unions. And the unions are in sad shape.

The anti-union efforts of today’s conservatives have been much more effective than the previous generation’s. Legislation and media campaigns have lowered union’s numbers and their social esteem with the public.

The anti-union campaigns which have been so effective haven’t been orchestrated so much as they are driven by conservative memes. (A meme is the social equivalent of a biologic gene, a bit of “knowledge” that travels from person to person, propagating itself. A common route is “if you want to be like me, you must think like me.”)

Conservatives also virulently hate the accomplishments of the New Deal, the connection here is that the Roosevelt administration took significant steps to bolster the rights of unions to participate in collective bargaining.

But, now that unions are being gutted, who will stand up for working people? The government? (Nah, bought off.) The corporations? (Yeah, right!)

If you wonder at the decline of the middle class, wonder no more. And there is no “white knight” waiting in the wings to charge forth and rescue us.

If we don’t organize and do it for ourselves, we doom our children and children’s children to a kind of serfdom, begging for crumbs from corporations. Unions are not some mysterious groups of people from the outside, they are us, organizing on behalf of us, you know: of the people. . . , by the people. . . , for the people. Kind of a catchy phrase, that.

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