Actually, I was anti-unionist into young adulthood, too. Then one day I found myself struggling to find a job at age 45.

I was raised in a very pro-union household. My father and all of my uncles were serious union workers/supporters. My uncle Pete was even a big muckity-muck with the Greyhound Lines, Inc. Teamsters at one time. Why wasn’t I a trade union fan like dad? Well, I’m not sure. Hell, how did I grow up in a pro-union Democrat household and end up as a pro-capitalism conservative Republican?

We change as we age. Our personal experiences and our continuing personal education tend to shift our beliefs and priorities over a lifetime. Not many people believe the same things with the same passion that they did when they were 19. I used to think Ronald Reagan was the anti-Christ. Heh! 😉

Over time, I’ve been moving more and more to the lower left on the Political Compass. I’m well within the realm of Anarchist/Libertarian nowadays (see Fig 1).

Fig 1 – My Recent Political Compass Results

And while I still agree with some things Ayn Rand had to say, you’ll be more likely to find me quoting Kropotnik or Emma Goldman these days. I’m a biker by nature and by choice. Bikers are usually hardcore anarchists. We just want to be left alone to live our lives as we see fit. My own philosophy on life is to be as compassionate toward my fellow human beings as I can be, try my best not to step on anyone’s toes, and live my life how I want to live it.

My father’s three rules for living a good life were:

  • mind your own business
  • pay your debts
  • always cut the cards 😉

So, I’ve blabbered on for nearly 300 words now. Where is this article going, you’re probably wondering. Well, have you ever read Upton Sinclair’s book The Jungle? It’s a story about the terrible working conditions in Chicago’s meat packing industry around the turn of the century (1899/1900). Once trade unions built up their strength and influence, Big Business could no longer blatantly abuse its workers as they did back during the time of Sinclair’s story. Big Government started enacting laws to protect the workers. Once it reached the stage where the government was watching out for our well-being, everyone swore off unions; criticizing them (often correctly) as being nothing more than giant corrupt bureaucracies.

The result of this was a weakening of the once mighty unions across this country. And so, we find ourselves once again Stranded in the Jungle.

How did this happen to us? Well, we trusted our Big Government, which is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Big Business, to watch out for our interests. That was insane. We’ve literally put the keys to the hen house into the hands of the fox. We are a trusting sort, aren’t we. We trusted our elected representatives. We trusted our bloated bureaucracies. We trusted the greedy capitalists to behave in a fashion that would be fair and beneficial to all. We are idiots.

Here’s a shocking article about just how much ground we’ve lost in the battle for fair labor practices in this country; nearly back to Sinclair’s era. I read it in Mother Jones earlier today. It’s by a young lady named Mac McClelland. You REALLY should read this entire article. It’s called I Was a Warehouse Wage Slave. Folks, this story is truly disturbing. And sadly, it’s just one example. There’s the food processing industry, the farm labor industry, the call center industry, etc. It goes on. All these industries are abusing their employees in ways that would astound you. I spent some time working in a call center. I would rather dig ditches than go do that again.

What can we do about this? RAISE HELL! Join the Occupy movements going on around the country and the world. Read blogs and activist news sites like Alternet, Truthout, Mother Jones, Occupy Together, Wikileaks, etc. Follow the hacktivist group Anonymous. Learn what you can do to help. You don’t have to don your Guy Fawkes mask and protest on some street where the fat cats roam in NYC. There are many, many other ways you can help those who are out there fighting for a better future for you, your children, and their children. We’ve lost a lot of ground with our misplaced trust and complacency. It’s going to be an uphill fight to regain it.

We fight not to enslave, but to set a country free, and to make room upon the earth for honest men to live in. ~Thomas Paine

Later…

~Eric

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About V. T. Eric Layton

vtel57, Nocturnal Slacker

5 responses »

  1. PsiCop says:

    Incontrovertibly, unions were necessary in order to promote worker safety and to raise them above the level of slaves or serfs. That said, they no longer serve that purpose; we have government agencies such as OSHA, as well as state labor agencies, not to mention a legal system in which employers can be sued for mistreating workers.

    Honestly, they serve little purpose, now, except to line the pockets of the guys who run them, and to funnel money into politics (on the side of the Democrats). Here in Connecticut the state employee unions are extremely powerful and they effectively run the state (our House speaker and Senate president are both professional union lobbyists). The state employee unions have run the state into the ground, financially, and last year were unwilling to make concessions that would save the state money.

    Truthfully, unions have become their own enemy: They’ve become the financial and logistical underwriters of a major political party (i.e. the Democrats), and they control officials who hail from it. They’re effectively no better … and little different, even … from the corporations that collectively provide the same service for the other party, the Republicans. Don’t let the unions fool you into thinking they’re doing you any favors, because they serve themselves, not any of us. No matter how much they profess otherwise.

    As for my own politics & position in the Political Compass, I’m in the same quadrant as you, but quite a bit closer to the center (http://www.politicalcompass.org/printablegraph?ec=-1.88&soc=-2.15). I notice, on the other hand, that all of the presidential candidates, including Obama & the pathetic lineup of lunatics in the GOP, are nearly together in the opposite quadrant (minus Ron Paul, who as one expects is off in Friedman country). I’ve long said both political parties are more or less the same, arguing and quibbling over what are mostly trivial points in order to exaggerate their apparent differences. I’m more convinced of that than ever … in spite of the increasingly vehement partisanship that’s raging around the country. It’s all a facade. No one should be deceived by it.

    • I agree that politics is nothing more than a grand dog and pony show to distract the citizenry from the real deal. I’m not naive enough to believe that the MONEY POWERS in this country (and world) don’t manipulate the system to their benefit. George Carlin had a skit that he did about “the club”. It’s not funny, really, because it’s true. Carlin was using his humor platform to try and wake up his listeners. I doubt that it worked. It rarely does. Those in control know that to stay in control all they have to do is keep the populace fat and happy; in other words, fed, distracted, and ignorant.

      Unions today are definitely NOT a perfect means to secure worker rights and guarantees of fair treatment. They are, as you allude to, nothing more than bloated bureaucracies. They’re no different than the same bloated, self-serving government bureaucracies that Ronald Reagan was speaking of when he stated that the priority and driving force of any bureaucracy is to maintain the bureaucracy itself; all other stated goals are secondary. Unfortunately, government is not to be trusted to secure worker rights and guarantees of fair treatment either. So what now?

      I believe a time is coming when folks will stand up and say, “That’s it. Enough of this shit!” Politics is a poor method for running a world, I believe. It is nonsensical to me to watch the political process in this country nowadays. Elected officials have only one goal in their lives: get re-elected and pocket as much money as they can during their terms as implementers of policy dictated by those aforementioned MONEY POWERS. It’s sickening, really. Our representative republic is a lesser of evils, I guess. I’ve not seen any other method that I think is better, barring anarchy, which has its positive aspects.

      Personally, I have no solutions to this mess. I just know it’s not right. The apple is rotten at the core. The citizenry of this country no longer controls this country, if it ever really did. The 99%, using the currently popular term, is enthralled to the 1%. Money (or gold, as the case may be) has always equaled power in this world. Knowledge can also bring power. But knowledge without means brings nothing but frustration. The dumbest bastard child of manufacturing mogul H. R. Jockeysmeller is more powerful than the most highly educated don at Yale.

      We need a hard reboot. 😉

      Later…

      ~Eric

  2. So true Eric and PsiCop. what a tragic turn this country has made over the years. And unfortunately it is not a new development.

    I think it was Ben Franklin who said he was afraid the Republic would only last at most 200 years … I think he was overly optimistic. By 1913 it was sadly way past the turn around point. It has been 2 steps forward and 3 steps back ever since.

    I am not sure if it can be recovered, I sure hope so…for the sake of my children and grandchildren who still have many years on this planet and in this country, if the political, environmental and genetic corruption doesn’t do it in first…

    • Jefferson supposedly said, “Every generation needs a new revolution.” I like Ambrose Bierce’s definition of revolution: Revolution, n. In politics, an abrupt change in the form of misgovernment. from The Devils’s Dictionary. 🙂

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