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ICYMI: Barack Obama and his INSPIRING Labor Day message

ICYMI: Barack Obama and his INSPIRING Labor Day message

As former President Barack Obama knows, workers’ right to organize — the labor movement as a whole — is a presumed element of capitalism, and the only thing keeping capitalism from becoming plain old brutal feudalism.

But one of the GOP’s dirtiest (and most clever) tricks has been to use the culture wars to stigmatize labor and unions, thereby having the very people that would most benefit from a strong labor movement actively working against it.

We see it in red states throughout the country. “Right to Work” states  — it sounds good, right?

“Right to work” makes it illegal for unions to automatically extract dues from paychecks, thus severing employees who might not contribute and defeating the union.

That’s why those laws are in place. They work.

Unions are rare in Right to Work states and that’s why one sees Boeing move some of its factories from Washington to South Carolina.

The right has skunked even the word “union” or “labor.” Here is just one example:

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Now, of course, Brigitte is nothing but an “X” flamethrower, but notice how she conflates “labor” with “socialism”? Cute trick. (And “May Day” is the socialist holiday, dear.)

In reality, nothing is more capitalist than a union.

Adam Smith envisioned owners and executives of companies valuing the employees that made them successful, and an employee’s freedom to band together and strike was a check on ownership from keeping all the “capital” produced.

That’s why unions had to go by the wayside in many states.

It is also why Walmart employees aren’t allowed to celebrate birthdays, lest some camaraderie form, and why Amazon freaks out over the thought of unionization.

The weakening of unions is also the reason that the average lineman at GM in the 1960s made enough money to own a home, be a single-income family, take a vacation, and send a kid to college.

Certainly, America in the 1950s and 60s was not idyllic, but that era sure looks more egalitarian than the near feudal state we see nowadays, with Bezos, Zuckerberg, and the Walton family earning billions while Walmart workers are making $13/hour.

Indeed, it was unions — and the power of numbers and the value of labor — that brought us the eight-hour workday and weekends off.

Unions even created efficiencies. The whole reason Americans are used to getting their healthcare coverage at work can be traced back to unions.

Companies were able to obtain health insurance for employees at far lower rates and then gave the insurance to the employee as part of the overall compensation, saving the employee and the company money.

Of course, when more money goes out to employees, there is less left for the top, and that is why the power of unions has to be degraded as much as possible (if you’re on the right or part of the management class).

It is not an accident that at the height of the labor movement in this country, the economy exploded in post-World War II America.

Trickle “down” has never worked. Ever.

Trickle-up, providing more money at the bottom, works every time to drive the economy. It also makes society and people healthier.

Let’s ask a real expert — former President Barack Obama — about what a strong and vibrant labor movement brings to a country.

Yes, thank you, former President Obama, a man who understands that the most critical element of capitalism, the thing that made it “work,” was “balance,” between labor and ownership, a careful balance.

That balance has been out of whack for a while now, but Joe Biden’s programs, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill, the CHIPs Act, and the Inflation Reduction Act have pumped a lot of juice into the American labor movement and the American worker.

There is reason for hope, thanks to the American worker, as Obama points out.

And remember, there’s nothing “socialist” about labor or unions. But there is a lot that is “socialist” about corporate welfare.

Happy Labor Day.

I can be reached at jasonmiciak@gmail.com and on Twitter @JasonMiciak.

Editor’s note: This is an opinion column that solely reflects the opinions of the author.

Jason Miciak
Jason Miciak is an associate editor and opinion writer for Occupy Democrats. He's a Canadian-American who grew up in the Pacific Northwest. He is a trained attorney, but for the last five years, he's devoted his time to writing political news and analysis. He enjoys life on the Gulf Coast as a single dad to a 15-year-old daughter. Hobbies include flower pots, cooking, and doing what his daughter tells him they're doing. Sign up to get all of my posts by email right here:

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