Happy Labor Day! You’re probably thinking about picnics or sales, rather than about Joe Hill, the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire, strikes, solidarity, and such like.
That’s okay. Enjoy your day off — which, like any other days off you may have, was won for you long ago by union people getting their brains beat in by cops.
Besides, rightbloggers are happy to pick up the slack on the history front, and tell you that Labor Day honors the thugs and parasites who destroyed America by fighting for the five-day work week and child labor laws, thus leading to our current recession which is Obama’s fault.
Michelle Malkin opened the Labor Day festivities by celebrating “Big Labor’s Legacy of Violence.”
Malkin predicted that on Labor Day President Obama and AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, with whom he would be spending it, would “cast Big Labor as an unassailable force for good in American history.” She might have left off “unassailable,” as she didn’t mention any good that had come from unions, choosing to focus instead on “the union movement’s violent and corrupt foundations.”
The long struggle for workers’ rights has been violent — think of Federal troops mowing down railroad workers in the 1894 Pullman Strike, or the Ludlow Massacre, or the Ford Hunger March, or any other of a host of other attacks on unions.
Malkin was not concerned with these, however, but with Eddie York, a non-union worker shot dead during a United Mine Workers strike in 1993, presumably on suspicion of scabbing. “He was a workingman whose story will never scroll across Obama’s teleprompter,” said Malkin. But readers of rightbloggers got ample opportunity to hear his tale as Gateway Pundit, RedState, Prairie Pundit, and several others also took up his cause — in a very, very rare case, for most of them, of reportage on union affairs. Well, that’s what Labor Day does to people — gets them interested in history!
Since Trumka was head of the UMW at the time, and used some ass-kicking language during the strike, rightbloggers raced to the inevitable conclusion. “Obama Backs Violent Labor Leader,” roared Men’s News Daily. “Obama, the self-styled man of peace, the reconciler, and the hope of mankind, is cozy with violence, from Islam to labor unions.”
Men’s News Daily didn’t leave it there, though. “Labor Day should be a reminder,” they wrote, “that labor unions are quintessentially socialist organizations, taking their origin and character from the Marxian doctrine of class struggle. Employers are the enemy, to be hammered into submission without regard for the destructive effect on everyone else…”
There ya go — enjoy your day off, parasites! Though, at RedState, Mike gamecock DeVine (no, honestly, he says that’s his name) didn’t understand why you even had a holiday to begin with.
Back in the days of the Mayflower, DeVine wrote, “those that labored to found a nation that would become wealthy enough to indulge Jimmy Hoffas didn’t insist on a day celebrating the work that made non-farm subsistence possible in the first place, much less UAW-GM pensions at age 52 that minimum wage Waffle House employees are now taxed to provide.”
Yeah, we know — his poeticisms sometime make DeVine difficult for us squares to understand. His meaning eventually became more plain, though: “I have called for Labor Day to be abolished as a national holiday every year since 2006,” he wrote. If anything ever gave him pause in this crusade, it was that Ronald Reagan had once served as president of a union; but, DeVine explained, Reagan only did it to “save the Screen Actors Guild labor union he led as President from Communist infiltration” — certainly not to get those pinko actors better wages!
Eventually DeVine did allow a toast for “responsible labor unions” — that is, “those that created the jobs and the companies through their unsung labors in the first place,” and no, he didn’t explain it any better than that.
You will be unsurprised to learn that DeVine thought organized labor’s depredations have gotten infinitely worse under Obama. The President was also a Labor Day target for several rightbloggers who generally give the impression of spending many long, sleepless nights stabbing an Obama doll. (e.g. Freedom Eden on the President’s Labor Day remarks: “Obama opens up his Saul Alinsky playbook… Obama sets himself up as the champion of the middle class when in reality he’s destroying it. There’s no unifying message in Obama’s remarks. It’s divisive. It’s class warfare,” it’s a death trap, it’s a suicide rap, etc.)
Take poor Debbie Schlussel, who found what she must have thought was a ripping news hook: “‘Labor Day’: Obama Used Illegal Aliens to Clean The ‘Other’ Oil Spill.” Maybe, in retrospect, she shouldn’t have linked to the actual background story, which revealed that a horrible 800,000-gallon oil spill in Michigan’s Kalamazoo River this summer required 1,500 workers to clean it up, and that a government subcontractor had employed 42 illegal aliens in the cleanup, and been nailed for it by the diligence of the Federal Government.
Because when you know that, Schlussel’s interpretation — “Sorry, but I just don’t buy that cleaning up oil spills is ‘the work that Americans won’t do’… It’s ironic, as we approach Labor Day, that actually the major labor unions in America protect this kind of job predation by illegals, and it’s part of the death of those unions… The companies will get away with it because Barack Obama has ended workplace enforcement operations” — sounds kind of insane.
Those conservatives who, for reasons lost to history, like to call themselves libertarians also gave tributes to labor at their flagship publication, Reason magazine.
Tim Cavanaugh, for example, defended those brave economists who felt that extended unemployment benefits just gave lazy looters an excuse to stay jobless.
When former of U.S. Secretary of Labor Robert Reich sarcastically rejoined that “it’s also true that if we got rid of lifeguards and let more swimmers drown, fewer people would venture into the water,” Cavanaugh grabbed a paddle: “Beach patrols are a cheap way for municipalities to claim the right to restrict access to public beaches,” he wrote. “The city takes on liability on behalf of the shoobs, and in exchange the shoobs have to pay to get on the beach.” Cavanaugh failed to explain why anyone, even a shoob, would make such a deal with Big Gummint, rather than hire his or her own private lifeguards.
“It’s a nice racket,” Cavanaugh continued, “but you would not see a large increase in drownings if all the lifeguards were sent back to their sandy shacks. You would see some!” (He generously admitted.) “But if saving lives were the only benefit, and maintaining lifeguards were the only cost, nobody would maintain lifeguards.” Indeed, why would anybody go to all that trouble to save other people’s lives? Haven’t they read Ayn Rand?
Finally Cavanaugh got to the real reason Gummint shouldn’t extend unemployment benefits: “We’re out of money. So yes, as heartless as it sounds, we should be cutting unemployment even to those fantastically goodhearted people throughout this stout land who are pure as the unsunned snow yet really can’t find a job. It’s not tough love; it’s sad love.” But don’t worry: As soon as we drown Gummint in the bathtub, jobs will pop up all over the place, just like in Red China. (Elsewhere at Reason: “More on the dangers of the minimum wage here and here.”)
It’s really pretty amazing when you think about it. Once upon a time, on Labor Day we celebrated the advances unions had won for us — you know, the right to buy things elsewhere than at the company store, to eat lunch during a workday, to not have black lung, etc. — along with our ever-higher standard of living: Two-car garages, single-incomes families, and all that. And we expected that it would just get better.
But since the collapse of manufacturing in the 1960s, and the decline of the unions shortly thereafter, our standard of living has been edging backwards — no one expects to feed a family on one income anymore, and the dream of a shorter work-week — let alone the guaranteed income envisioned by Glenn Beck’s new best friend, Martin Luther King — is just a bitter memory.
Today when we open our papers, or our browsers, we read that this state of affairs is intolerable — not because workers have too few rights, but because they have too many. “Labor unions are a relic, a unique product of 19th-century demographics,” says the Washington Times, because now workers “are more mobile, change jobs often and serve an increasingly service- and information-driven economy” — that is, will move where and when they’re told, have learned not to expect job security, and mostly push papers, which makes them interchangeable and thus expendable.
At TownHall, Steve Chapman tells us our employment problems are caused by the curse of the minimum wage. “When inflation screeches to a halt,” he says, “many workers will be compelled to accept lower pay than they once would have taken.” He sounds very excited by the prospect. Others talk about the “once-justified organized labor,” and inveigh us on Labor Day to “return freedom to American free enterprise,” as if free enterprise (i.e., bosses) ever did shit for workers without being forced to do so by years of tough, painful resistance by labor unions.
Well, thank God we’ve got the Tea Parties — that’s the sort of solidarity that ought to make a real difference! We can hardly wait till this ridiculous Democrat phase is over, and the triumphant TP people parley with the forces of free enterprise, and learn just what advantages they may expect from them. It ought to be an education for all concerned — excluding, of course, that substantial portion who never learn.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on September 6, 2010