No one can argue against the fact that unions can include cumbersome bureaucracy, or might sometimes protect those who shouldn't be protected. But it is a little one-sided to continually frame the anti-union argument in terms of lousy teachers getting paid to sit in rooms awaiting disciplinary action, or public service workers with shovels and pensions that are breaking the backs of taxpayers and digging our country into a hole. This mindset ignores both the benefit of having strong labor unions, and the personal sacrifices made by workers in these fields. It also ignores the true pirates that pillaged and plundered our economy-and continue to do so. But efforts to draw attention to the abuses of politicians and their covert backers (both well to very well-heeled) are often painted as fringe, extremism, socialism or “thuggery” (as with FOX coverage of Wisconsin and “Occupy” protests). This is simply misdirection, drawing attention and much needed conversation away from the high-finance shenanigans and corporate abandonment that did an incredible amount of damage to our country.
The workers targeted in this smear campaign are often people who provide vital services. They have already agreed, in many cases, to concessions in pay and benefits to assist in the balancing of budgets and preservation of jobs. Their unions may have their abuse and misuse issues, but these organizations mainly serve to protect middle class workers who support, invest and spend the money they make in their home communities. Whether it’s in their own houses, or in area businesses, their money generally circulates locally-preserving their communities in a concrete and liquid (when necessary) way. When a financial crisis hits, the damage done to these Americans is immediate, local and most noticeable, since a “middle class” income offers less cushion than it once did. Their jobs are often the jobs that maintain the vital mechanisms that preserve and maintain our communities.
On the more cushiony side of the crisis coin: when executive pay, Wall Street bonuses and expiration of Bush-era tax cuts were being considered, the response from the more privileged sector was a warning: impacting this wealthy class will hinder our recovery, because these are the people who invest, spend, create jobs and create wealth. The argument from this side is that any limitations on their income or wealth might stifle their willingness to invest, and it could scare off talent from those high-finance jobs. Really? So since the Reagan years, and through the Bush-era tax cuts, as the spread between the wealthiest Americans and the poorest has grown wider, where have the jobs gone? What have the swelling tics and fat-cats done to sustain their host?
By jobs, I mean the kind that simply support and protect a middle class family, nothing fancy. There is clearly a lack of talent in those with vast amounts of wealth for stimulating the American economy in a meaningful way. Still, the profits, raises, bonuses, and payout for them far exceed anything most will ever see.
If one side of this “shared sacrifice” situation was to be considered unreasonable, you might want to consider the side that enjoys the protection of politicians and lawmakers, and still stubbornly refuses to share the sacrifice.