Blame the Workers

You know I’m not shocked that the republicans are so blatantly trying to bust up the unions. But, how stupid are they to write it out in a memo! The following is an excerpt circulated among senate republicans:

“This is the democrats first opportunity to payoff organized labor after the election. This is a precursor to card check and other items. Republicans should stand firm and take their first shot against organized labor, instead of taking their first blow from it.”

For the rest of the memo:

I’ve read a number of blogs written by people who have had various dealings with the management of the big three and it’s not a picture of competence and inspiration. But, it isn’t all management’s fault either. You’ve been paying attention, you know that banks don’t want to loan money for new cars or just about anything else. You know that people are losing their jobs and that the people who have jobs worry about losing them. Consumer spending is down, and hey, that includes cars.

There are so many factors at play here that are causing these worldwide economic problems, but the republicans want to blame anything they can on unions and union workers. It never seems to occur to them that treating people with dignity, and offering them a living wage, and fixing health care would get them far more votes than waging war on unions and working people.

And you know, with so many people unemployed or under employed they are getting some traction with this. I’m sure when you’re making bupkus at Wal-Mart it seems like the auto workers are getting a pretty sweet deal. But, don’t we all want health care, a decent wage, people we can call on if our boss is abusive, or our working conditions were unsafe?

We don’t get stronger by tearing others down. It’s hard to stick up for someone who makes a better wage than you, but you know the old saying: “If we don’t hang together, we will all hang separately”. As individual workers we were truly an underclass. We didn’t always have the 40 hour work week, or child labor laws, or work place safety standards. We didn’t have laws to protect us from harassment, or from the boss who threatened to fire us if we didn’t agree with him.

The autoworkers have a pretty decent deal, but hardly unreasonable and nowhere near as good as the senators do. And the thing is the autoworkers agreed to make many concessions. It just didn’t matter because the republicans had an agenda and that agenda was to weaken the union and unions in general.

I don’t think unions are the be all and end all, but the workers are, and the unions attempt to protect the workers and help them have a decent quality of life.

Prop 8 & the culture of lies

Proposition 8 was not a typical voting situation. We weren’t voting to regulate or not to regulate an activity, to raise or not raise taxes, or between two or more individuals. We were voting on whether or not to take civil rights away from a group of people. But people have the right to vote however they choose. It doesn’t matter if you have any knowledge about, or any stake in the matter. It doesn’t matter if you’ve even thought about it, or whether some guy in a robe told you to vote that way or you’d go to hell. I don’t disagree with voting freedoms, I definitely don’t want the government messing around in my mind or trying to determine my intentions.

That said there ought to be some vetting of what is put on the ballot. If by passing a measure or proposition a situation would be created that violates the law, not changes but violates, there should be a way to keep it off the ballot. You could put a measure on the ballot today taking the right to vote away from women, or the elderly, or gays, or any group you like. And, there would be people that would vote yes. Amazing, and one likes to think that a measure like that couldn’t pass, but with enough money and a good advertising campaign (you know, one full of lies), maybe it would.

The idea of the initiative process is a good one but it’s been subverted somewhere along the way. When a state-wide election is determined by “out of state interests” maybe it’s time to take another look at the process.

AND, as I rant merrily along, this goes to all election campaigns, it should (and maybe technically is) be illegal to outright lie in campaign commercials. I know this is not a new phenomenon, but I do not understand why it has been allowed to continue. It’s a time honored tradition to say that your opponent will raise your taxes, or his grandmother wears army boots, but that is not what I’m talking about. When the ERA (equal rights amendment) was actively undergoing ratification people said it would require that all public bathrooms be unisex (it didn’t). With prop 8 they told people that their church would lose its tax exempt status (and other lies). These are not things that remain to be seen or just general childish smears, these are statements and they can easily be proven to be not true (that means they’re lies.)

I’m not sure what to do about the culture of lies that has become American politics. I’m about to go into full rant mode so instead I’ll invite other comments.