Conservatives are cheering as they watch the economic collapse destroy one of their most hated opponents: organized labor. But instead of sneering at the vanquished, the business class should be thanking them in gratitude, for the unions did themselves in (I say this as a current unionized worker and a partner in two small businesses). I'm not talking about the "excessive" wages of workers when the executives who pay them earn so much themselves they lose sight of reality, I'm talking about how since 1968 they turned to their oppressors' politics against their own economic interests.
Union labor voted more heavily for Nixon in 1968 under the mistaken impression that he was all about law and order (for others – the young, the non-whites, foreigners, etc.). With that shift in allegiance, their own future was sealed, and they are now reaping the benefits they are now due. These 1968 voters are included among the legacy costs which GM claims to be costing $70 an hour (a false figure based on all current and retired employee costs divided only by current employee work hours). Abandoning those contractual obligations "would save us," failed GM CEO Rick Wagoner exclaims to the Congress as he pleads for relief like the Wall Street banks already got at taxpayer expense (yet his company is very profitable in foreign markets!). "I'll work for a dollar a year!" proclaims Ford CEO Alan Mulally, whose reorganization package includes shafting his workforce for his errors one more time (but at least he will share in the pain!).
Can you hear the anguished cries of the UAW retirees, the ones who voted for Nixon in 1968 and started this whole mess we now live in? "Save us!" they cry, but there is no one to heed their cries. The current president is too busy removing the organization rights of about 8600 federal employees while issuing "guidelines" protecting the fundamentalists' religious beliefs against having to serve the public's medical needs while helping to create more by removing protections against the use of hazardous chemicals in the workplace.
So these self-assassinated retirees and their still-working union descendants can only turn to the incoming Chief Executive for relief (to non-union workers: "Abandon All Hope, Ye Who Labor!"). Leading the charge on their behalf is Boston Globe columnist Derrick Z. Jackson, who declares that "Obama […] needs to publicly and personally urge Bush to not utterly abandon the American worker. It would be a strong sign that his White House will be one where the working stiff is not stiffed."
Ah, that audacity of hope is at work again! There is only one problem, as Jackson's colleague over at The New York Times, Bob Herbert, observes: "What I wonder is whether the members of this team, in addition to their grasp of the issues and success at achieving power, have a real feel for the needs of the people they are supposed to be representing. […] The people at the pinnacle of power in Washington are encased in a bubble that makes it extremely hard to hear the voices of those who aren’t already powerful themselves."
The power needed to be heard through the Beltway Bubble began to be squandered in 1968 by organized labor shifting Republican.
But to ease Herbert's mind, I quote from the Good Book (it's that big, dust-encrusted object up on the high shelf in your back closet where no one has to admit it exists as the Season of Materialistic Greed is observed): "By their deeds shall ye know them." Following this maxim, it isn't hard to see where Obama is going to lead on this issue.
Columnist Peter Canellos of The Boston Globe did so, and opines that Obama could end up resembling Ronald Reagan with his promises of "swift government action" to protect the business sector.
Canellos reports that corporate executives have been alienated by the divisive social issues of the religious radicals who dominate the GOP, and George's Terror War Against Terror (TWAT) has disrupted foreign business opportunities. Nothing gets a CEO's attention faster than adversely affecting the bottom line – and his bonus! And as there appears to be no pending effort by the Republicans to regain their long-term allies in the financial sector, Canellos feels that the Democrats are going to become the Party of Big Business. The past slander linking Democrats and high taxation will vaporize as the financial sector exercises its influence against such measures, while the Republicans will continue to pander to the Neanderthal vote as they forget what a tax cut is.
Considering that too many union workers qualify as low-brows, this may be the only way the GOP can survive in the coming years. What better way to gain power if not from those you helped to experience severe economic and freedom losses by your hostile political actions! After all, the answer to "what have you done for me lately?" changes daily for them, and their long-term memory evaporates into the electronic ether within two weeks (check your local listings). They can blame the Democrats for not rescuing them from Republican legislation and rule-making that cost the American worker his middle-class status!
Might it work? Who could imagine!Powered by Sidelines