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