Monday, September 05, 2016


My Village Voice column, usually seen on Mondays, is delayed a day for the federal Labor Day holiday. As I have observed in the past, conservatives used to let this official recognition of the labor movement pass quietly, or with a grudging show of respect -- hell, Rupert Murdoch's New York Post used to print the lyrics to movement anthems like "Pie in the Sky" on its editorial page!  But in recent years they've gotten tetchy about it. Today's Post ed page concentrates instead on demonizing gay people -- in other words, it's just another day! And elsewhere in the alternative rightwing universe, the brethren dream of getting rid of Labor Day, or at least the reason for it.

At Front Page magazine, Matthew Vadum rejoices that Grover Cleveland's institution of Labor Day diverted attention from the redder May Day. (Vadum also rejoices that during the Pullman strike Cleveland "deployed U.S. troops to Chicago to preserve property rights," i.e. to mow down strikers.) He seems to think the holiday's inception helped bring down labor unions, which would make it very slow-acting poison indeed; but mostly he's just glad that nobody knows anymore what the IWW is:
Americans don’t care about the labor movement because it hasn’t done anything for them. They don’t care that the movement is dying, and in most cases aren’t even aware it’s in rough shape. And that too is a good thing.
Too bad he didn't follow his logic all the way out, and call for citizens to celebrate Labor Day by going to work -- then we'd really know they'd gotten the message!

At Conservative Review, Nate Madden is closer to the mark with "INSTEAD OF LABOR DAY, WHY NOT MAKE CONSTITUTION DAY THE NEW NATIONAL HOLIDAY?" "Innovation" and "market forces" have made unions obsolete, he declares: "Thanks to modern technology and market innovation, workers are better equipped to look out for their own rights, make their own hours, and negotiate their income than ever before in human history." Get with the gig economy, comrades, and maximize your pre-dawn hours driving for Uber instead of parasitically sleeping! In place of labor, Madden says, we should celebrate the Constitution, or rather the rightwing talking points with which such as he always frame it, e.g., "We have a federal administrative state that usurps power from the several states at every turn..." Hell, maybe he can convince citizens that unions and the Civil War were both huge mistakes!

Trey Sanchez of Truth Revolt, alas, cannot bring himself to dream big like that, and mainly grumbles that the Kenyan Pretender went on and on about "workers" and "labor" in his holiday address: "He left no time to thank capitalism, the free market, American entrepreneurs, innovators, or risk-takers. Just himself and organized labor," Sanchez sulks. Don't worry, guy -- when Trump gets in, the Presidential Labor Day Address will be replaced by a sale flyer.

At the Weekly Standard, Irwin M. Stelzer presents us with "A Labor Day Conundrum: What Happened to American Productivity?" U.S. productivity has been climbing for decades, even as wages have stagnated, but Stelzer sees it dropping off a little and says it won't do:
The economy has created more than a million jobs so far this year, but it hasn't increased its output of stuff very much. If millions more workers can only manage to produce the same amount of goods and services, output per worker— productivity—is declining. Think of it as a 12-inch pizza that once required two chefs to produce, but now has three on the job, perhaps because the oven is old and prone to break down (or the chefs are busy taking selfies, but that's another story for another day).  
Goddamn lazy pizza makers! Two on a pizza, so they have plenty of time to goof off and take selfies -- hmmph, must be millennials too! Anyway, they'll get theirs, because "the two original chefs now have to share their pie with another worker because their productivity has declined." And don't come crying to Paul Ryan for calzone benefits!

Leave it to National Review to find the heartstring-tugging angle:
I was Forced to Join a Union
Now it can be told! Ripped from today's headlines!  “As a condition of my employment as a professor at George Washington University, I must pay the SEIU every month,” wails Diana Furchtgott-Roth, who apparently couldn't find employment at some right-to-work college like Liberty University and so was forced to accept the onerous terms of a top-tier D.C. university.

“Of course, the SEIU will say that I am not forced to join the union and pay the $36 monthly dues,” she laments. “Instead, I can pay a monthly agency fee of $29.38. But I have to do one or the other.” How will Diana Furchtgott-Roth, a lowly former chief economist at the U.S. Department of Labor, make ends meet? Maybe she should ask the SEIU-repped security guards and nursing home aides (from whom you never hear these kinds of complaints, doubtless due to censorship) how they do it.
The SEIU might also say that in return for the dues or agency fees, they bargain on my behalf with George Washington University. I have no need for anyone to represent me. I can represent myself. If GW does not offer me enough to make it worthwhile for me to teach, I can look elsewhere or find other employment.
If Diana Furchtgott-Roth can do it, so can the bedpan-cleaners and watchmen. But whatever they do, they absolutely shouldn't band together to increase their bargaining power -- because, as Furchtgott-Roth's case proves, that only leads to unfairness.

No comments:

Post a Comment