I have to admit, even as a child, the term "union" conjured up images of surly burly men, blue-collar thugs throwing their weight around because of some investment into the idea that "might makes right." I see that currently, they aren't doing much to dispel this archetype. Let's visit the steps of Madison, Wisconsin's Capitol building, along with other capitols in an ever-growing number of states this past week.
This past week, union workers and their advocates have been in a furor over Gov. Walker of Wisconsin and his legislature's attempt to severly curtail the union gravy-train of benefits, as well as rescind the ability for unions to collectively bargain - that is, modify their contracts whenever they are up for renewal by demanding ever-more generous concessions. The typical arguments - or usual suspects as I call them - have reared their heads. I'd like to underscore a list of the most commonly offered arguments advanced by unions and their supporters:
1. Without unions, there would be no 40 hour work week, no lunch breaks, and no livable wages.
2. The Republicans are trying to take our rights away.
3. The Republicans are at the mythical behest of the evil Koch brothers and other wealthy, limited-government advocates.
4. Without unions, there would be a greater income disparity between women and men, minorities and non-minorities.
Well, here is what I have to say about these points.
1. You're right, unions are responsible for the creation of the 40 hour work week and a livable wage. However, now government ensures workers' rights. We don't need you anymore.
2. What rights? The Constitution doesn't enumerate any rights you specifically have that nobody else does. You're right to a pension you didn't contribute to, funded by my tax dollars? Is that what you mean?
3. Just because Republicans receive donations from corporations doesn't make them behest to anybody. Answer me why union donations, and dues collected from members, always only go to democratic candidates? Could it be Big Labor is at the behest of the Democratic Party?
4. Women make less than men because statistically, women take off more time from work. They do things like have children/maternity leave, they're far more likely to call off work to take care of domestic issues, such as a sick child, and overall, their work output and hours-worked end up being fewer than men. Statistically speaking. As for the minority argument - stop race-baiting. People get paid for how qualified they are. A minority member in a skilled labor job is compensated the same.
Answer me this. If Person A goes to college, then graduate school, gets an advanced degree, and makes $XXX,000 dollars, and has to pay back $200k of student loans, in addition to their own pension and healthcare, why should Person B, who spent 6 months apprenticing a trade with a maximul educational attainment of high school make close to Person A, and make Person A subsidize their retirement and healthcare costs while having to pay for their own? Are those the "rights" you feel are threatened? I think, the bottom line is, maybe some union members aren't very educated, and have only one skill, but feel that their 6 months-1 year of trade-apprenticeship should entitle them to enough compensate to support a family and retire comfortably. Life is about working hard. If you don't want to work hard - and I have lived long enough to realize that some people have a VERY different idea of what "hard work" is than others - you don't get much back. It's that simple. You don't get to put in less work and reap the same benefit. I'd never expect to make as much as somebody with 8 years of post-HS education if I myself had zero or 2. Again - statistically speaking.
Since Republicans are so evil, why don't you ask Bill Clinton and the Democrats who signed NAFTA into law why they did that? Ask your democrat friends about globalization, and the shipping of your vastly overpaid job overseas so it can be done by foreigners for pennies on the dollar. But make sure you keep funnelling your dues into their coffers.
Lastly, but most importantly - I'd like to bring up the horrific examples of media-ignored double standards. When Jared Laughner went on his terrible rampage, before the bodies even hit the floor (no disrespect to the victims), Democrats were pointing fingers at Republicans in the civil discourse that erupted immediately after. "It makes perfect sense," I read on one liberal blog. "I'm praying to god this wasn't a rethuglican, but I'm not holding my breath" read another comment. When the dust cleared, and it turned out that it was not the work of a Republican, did anybody bat an eyelash or apologize? No, it was back-to-usual. Katie Couric must have been pissed she didn't have a story. Another example: the tea party. Years later, not a single instance of racism, homophobia, violence, or general misanthropy from any one of the hundreds of thousands of people who have attended the thousands of rallies, but god forbid we go a week without hearing something about how violent we are. Sarah Palin, the left's favorite sinner, came under nonstop reproach for her at-the-time already forgotten poster showing targets over states with (D) congresscritters to vote out of office at the November 2010 Midterms. Ignore the fact Democratic candidates released dozens of similar posters of the sort. HOWEVER: let's flash forward to the present, where democratic congressmen advocate "getting a little bloody" at union solidatory rallies - and his constituents took him up on it. Look at what's happening at the Massachussetts State house - pro-union thugs hurting people, then MsNBC fill-in commentators for Ed Schultz validate their behavior, discussing how these "old, elderly" 45-65 year olds have had their time, eliciting responses from his co-hosts like "we're just a few funerals away from good government." Imagine some burly, piece of filth 20something Southie rube tossing some 50+ year old man into a wall, hitting him, unleashing a torrent of curse words at him, destroying his American flag and screaming at him to leave.
When it comes to Obama's Era of Civility, apparently everybody but Obama and his supporters were supposed to get on board.