Wednesday, January 21, 2015

The Moral of the Story

In our economic structure, as E. J. Dionne once said, capital is more important than labor.  It is also more deserving.  Accordingly, labor doesn't deserve anything; not its wages, its retirement, its benefits.  Only capital earns.  The relationship between labor and capital is one of parasite and host in the minds of the Republicans and their Rightwing talking heads.  That is to say that capital falls like manna from heaven onto the chosen.  Labor on the other had drains capital away from those who acquire it – earned or not, righteous or not.  Money and truth are seldom on speaking terms, much like the free market and the rights of human beings.  The idea, therefore, that labor generates capital or that the relationship between labor and capital is symbiotic rather than adversarial is heresy in modern America.

With this in mind it behooves workers and the poor to pay attention to what latter day populists like Joanie Ernst and John Boehner are really saying when they talk about the needs of the middle class.  They are in fact saying that the vast majority of the people in this oligarchy must work harder, to earn less and be grateful for the privilege of doing so.  Sacrifice, struggle and suffering are noble so long as it is not the 1% – their contributors – doing the sacrificing, struggling or suffering.  Any talk of the affluent paying their fair share of taxes, of increasing the minimum wage or cutting taxes for the middle class is greeted with the old and tired redistribution of wealth rant.  The underlying premise is that wealth belongs to the wealthy whether they earned it or not.  Once again be clear, labor owns nothing and should be grateful for what it gets. 

Recently on the Ed Schultz show I saw something that was long overdue.  Mr. David Frum, a brilliant conservative who is also sane by the way, was having a conversation with the aforementioned Mr. Dionne.  Frum was going on in the usual vein about how we mustn't take money “earned” by one group and give it to another that “hasn't” earned the money.  It was the old redistribution of wealth nonsense dressed up in good English and sound syntax.  Mr. Dionne, ever the gentleman, listened patiently.  When it was his turn to speak – both of these men are far too intelligent to engage in the shouting, name calling and interrupting that so often attends cable T.V. debates – E. J. simply thanked Mr. Frum for his comments and said that he was sure the conservative would undoubtedly support a very strong labor movement.  Frum’s eyes popped open, his lips moved but nothing came out.  He seemed to be struck dumb.  Schultz also a very nice man saved him by calling an end to the debate.

The moral of the story is simple.  You can’t insist that the top of the economic scale gets all they can lay their hands on while also insisting that labor can make as much as they need and want through their own initiative unless you support a very powerful and compelling labor coalition.  

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