Monday, December 24, 2007

So Much For Holiday Cheer

Paul Krugman has an Op-Ed piece in the NY Times today.

But what really happened is that beginning in the 1970s, corporate America, which had previously had a largely cooperative relationship with unions, in effect declared war on organized labor.

Don’t take my word for it; read Business Week, which published an article in 2002 titled “How Wal-Mart Keeps Unions at Bay.” The article explained that “over the past two decades, Corporate America has perfected its ability to fend off labor groups.” It then described the tactics — some legal, some illegal, all involving a healthy dose of intimidation — that Wal-Mart and other giant firms use to block organizing drives.

These hardball tactics have been enabled by a political environment that has been deeply hostile to organized labor, both because politicians favored employers’ interests and because conservatives sought to weaken the Democratic Party. “We’re going to crush labor as a political entity,” Grover Norquist, the anti-tax activist, once declared.


If the past is prologue then how did the body politic of the New Deal change into Neo-Conservatism? In a book published in 1995, The Politics of Rage: George Wallace, the Origins of the New Conservatism, and the Transformation of American Politics Dan T Carter argues that the George Wallace tapped into the growing white backlash against the civil rights movement that was sweeping the country and blaming godless liberals for ruining our American values. Wallace, who consistently gathered favorable poll results of 8% outside the Deep South and gathered 30% to 43% of the votes in early primaries in 1968, represented a deep feeling of helplessness that many working and middle class Americans felt in the 60's. He also represented a threat to Richard Nixon's support among Republican voters. Nixon used an IRS investigation to force Wallace to run in the Democratic primaries instead as an independent, which would have drawn off Nixon voters.

While Nixon viewed Wallace and the sentiment he represented as a threat, Ronald Reagan saw this helplessness as an opportunity to restore and improve upon the Conservative Coalition that brought together the conservative Republicans with Southern Democrats and had ruled Congress from 1939 through 1964. The Southern Coalition was against Communism, atheism, unionism, liberalism and stood as a bulwark against the Civil Rights movement. When Reagan campaigned for President in 1980 in Philadelphia, Mississippi, he used the racist code phrase “I believe in states’ rights,” When he did, he picked up Wallace's flag in the city where civil rights workers were killed, using the language of the "Old South”, the money of supply side corporations and the conservative think tank Heritage Foundation with it's attacks on the "liberal media". Thus when Gingrich took over for Cheney as Republican House Whip in 1989 and with Reagan in the White House, the union movement was stopped in its tracks. The support unions had from the government in 1935 with the passing of the Wagner Act (NLRB) had turned hostile in 1939 with the Conservative Coalition and the passing of the Taft-Hartley Act in 1947. With Reagan and Gingrich, the conservatives and the business community were out to destroy organized labor altogether and roll back the Civil Rights movement.

Today it's not politically correct to openly racist but saying "damn, there sure are a lot of illegal immigrants, let's build a wall" " is perfectly acceptable. A wall for New Mexico and not Minnesota.

Today it's not politically correct to criticize the globalization of the economy, which sends American jobs overseas, but it is all right to blame unions for sending those jobs to places where workers can be exploited.

Today it's politically correct to support the troops in Iraq and be against the war while at the same time it not correct to point out that the majority of those volunteers who have been killed in Iraq come from the Rust Belt in the upper Midwest and the poorest sections of Texas, California, Virginia, Georgia and Florida. In places where there used to be jobs other than the military. Good union jobs.

That's enough for now. Have a better New Year.

1 comment:

The Lone Beader said...

Happy Holidays from Boston=:)