Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Makers vs. Takers

Paul Ryan told an audience a year ago that 30% of the country want a welfare state.

“Seventy percent of Americans want the American dream. They believe in the American idea. Only 30 percent want the welfare state,” Ryan said. “Before too long, we could become a society where the net majority of Americans are takers, not makers.” (It’s not definitively clear whether Ryan said “the welfare state” or “their welfare state.” HuffPost originally transcribed it as “their welfare state.” Regardless, the comment was made in reference to people on government assistance.)

Ryan’s comments were delivered as part of his keynote address at The American Spectator’s 2011 Robert L. Bartley Gala Dinner, which the magazine posted online. A reader tipped HuffPost to Ryan’s speech, given in November — six months before Romney’s videotaped remarks.

This isn’t exactly a bombshell; the Republicans have always seen Other People as being moochers and leeches who don’t share in the bootstrap mentality and oh by the way they’re probably not white, either.

It also explains why the Republicans are having such a tough time selling the idea that they actually give a shit about people, and it makes selling Mitt Romney as an empathetic candidate a little like trying to get an alligator to eat nothing but salad.

This is what real class warfare looks like.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Labor Day

If you have the day off, take just a moment to remember why we get the day off in the first place, then enjoy it. I certainly will. I plan to work on something that is a labor of love… my long and as-yet unfinished novel.

Last year I posted a reply to a discussion over at SFDB in defense of organized labor. It still resonates today, especially with the beating unions are taking from all sides.

Having grown up in a union town that was near a large city that relied on union labor, I’ve come to the conclusion that most of the people who most hate unions are folks who think that it is unconscionable that workers should have the same rights as the managers and the owners of the company. How dare they demand a living wage and safe working conditions. Who do they think they are?

Yeah, yeah; in every large group there are bad apples and examples of bad faith and extremism. Welcome to the human race. The Republicans hold the unions up as the boogeyman of the Western world and label them as thugs… and give tax breaks to the corporations because they know that if they don’t, the corporations will kneecap them. Not literally; they’ll just stop giving them money, which, in corporate circles, is thuggery. The people who whine about “class warfare” always turn out to be the ones who are winning the war.

Perhaps one of the reasons that union membership is down is that unions have accomplished a lot of what they set out to do 100 years ago. Factories are safer, working hours are reasonable, wages are better than the minimum, and pensions provide some security. The unions have learned, however awkwardly, to accept that they have been successful, but they also know that if some people had their way in the world, they would turn back to clock to 1911, put children to work, take away the healthcare, and demand more production. After all, it works for the Chinese, and look how they’re doing.

By the way, not all union workers are Democrats; they certainly weren’t were I grew up. A lot of them are hardcore Republicans or conservatives — including police officers — who don’t care about the politics; they just want to be treated fairly. And a lot of people who are not union members are working under union contracts; in most places there is no requirement to join a union to benefit from their efforts. So while actual union membership may be down to 15%, the number of people who are part of the union is far greater. That includes public sector jobs as well as private. So the next time someone feels the urge to union-bash, be sure you’re not peeing in your own campfire.

Full disclosure: I am a dues-paying member of a union of sorts; I belong to the Dramatists Guild. It provides services for writers and lyricists and makes sure that when our works are produced, we have a fair contract and get paid our royalties. The joke among us is that we don’t go on strike; we just get writers’ block.

Happy Labor Day.

Labor Day

If you have the day off, take just a moment to remember why we get the day off in the first place, then enjoy it. I certainly will. I plan to work on something that is a labor of love… my long and as-yet unfinished novel.

Last year I posted a reply to a discussion over at SFDB in defense of organized labor. It still resonates today, especially with the beating unions are taking from all sides.

Having grown up in a union town that was near a large city that relied on union labor, I’ve come to the conclusion that most of the people who most hate unions are folks who think that it is unconscionable that workers should have the same rights as the managers and the owners of the company. How dare they demand a living wage and safe working conditions. Who do they think they are?

Yeah, yeah; in every large group there are bad apples and examples of bad faith and extremism. Welcome to the human race. The Republicans hold the unions up as the boogeyman of the Western world and label them as thugs… and give tax breaks to the corporations because they know that if they don’t, the corporations will kneecap them. Not literally; they’ll just stop giving them money, which, in corporate circles, is thuggery. The people who whine about “class warfare” always turn out to be the ones who are winning the war.

Perhaps one of the reasons that union membership is down is that unions have accomplished a lot of what they set out to do 100 years ago. Factories are safer, working hours are reasonable, wages are better than the minimum, and pensions provide some security. The unions have learned, however awkwardly, to accept that they have been successful, but they also know that if some people had their way in the world, they would turn back to clock to 1911, put children to work, take away the healthcare, and demand more production. After all, it works for the Chinese, and look how they’re doing.

By the way, not all union workers are Democrats; they certainly weren’t were I grew up. A lot of them are hardcore Republicans or conservatives — including police officers — who don’t care about the politics; they just want to be treated fairly. And a lot of people who are not union members are working under union contracts; in most places there is no requirement to join a union to benefit from their efforts. So while actual union membership may be down to 15%, the number of people who are part of the union is far greater. That includes public sector jobs as well as private. So the next time someone feels the urge to union-bash, be sure you’re not peeing in your own campfire.

Full disclosure: I am a dues-paying member of a union of sorts; I belong to the Dramatists Guild. It provides services for writers and lyricists and makes sure that when our works are produced, we have a fair contract and get paid our royalties. The joke among us is that we don’t go on strike; we just get writers’ block.

Happy Labor Day.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

No Help

Charlie Pierce doesn’t think there’s anything nefarious in Mitt Romney’s tax returns. (John Cassidy at The New Yorker begs to differ.) He just won’t release them because the common people wouldn’t understand what a terrible burden it is being rich and that all those loopholes and off-shore tax havens aren’t just for his benefit; they’re there to make it so he can be a job creator and shine his beneficence on the rest of us.

The Help has no right to go pawing through the family books, giggling at the obvious loopholes and tax dodges, running amok through all the tax shelters, and probably getting their chocolate-y fingerprints all over the pages of the Romney family ledger. And, certainly, those members of The Help in the employ of the president of the United States, who is also part of The Help, have no right to use the nearly comically ostentatious wealth of the Romney as some sort of scrimey political weapon. He does not have to answer to The Help. I mean, jeepers, he’s running for office.

This isn’t stubbornness. That’s often an acquired trait. What this is, fundamentally, is contempt. Contempt for the process, and contempt for the people who make their living in that process, and contempt for the people whose lives depend on that process. There are rules for The Help with which Willard Romney never has had to abide, and he has no intention of starting now. My dear young fellow, this simply is not done.

Now, have Lawrence bring the station wagon around to the front; I need to take the dog for a walk.

No Help

Charlie Pierce doesn’t think there’s anything nefarious in Mitt Romney’s tax returns. (John Cassidy at The New Yorker begs to differ.) He just won’t release them because the common people wouldn’t understand what a terrible burden it is being rich and that all those loopholes and off-shore tax havens aren’t just for his benefit; they’re there to make it so he can be a job creator and shine his beneficence on the rest of us.

The Help has no right to go pawing through the family books, giggling at the obvious loopholes and tax dodges, running amok through all the tax shelters, and probably getting their chocolate-y fingerprints all over the pages of the Romney family ledger. And, certainly, those members of The Help in the employ of the president of the United States, who is also part of The Help, have no right to use the nearly comically ostentatious wealth of the Romney as some sort of scrimey political weapon. He does not have to answer to The Help. I mean, jeepers, he’s running for office.

This isn’t stubbornness. That’s often an acquired trait. What this is, fundamentally, is contempt. Contempt for the process, and contempt for the people who make their living in that process, and contempt for the people whose lives depend on that process. There are rules for The Help with which Willard Romney never has had to abide, and he has no intention of starting now. My dear young fellow, this simply is not done.

Now, have Lawrence bring the station wagon around to the front; I need to take the dog for a walk.