Earlier today (9 March 2013), a Facebook friend posted a version of the image at left.
The billboard image, Your Friendly Neighborhood Amoeba reads, was derived from a similar icon (at right) used on stationery. Both are part of a campaign by labor unions to oppose a proposal – the cited “Workplace Freedom Act” – that would add Ohio to the ranks of right-to-work U.S. states. (YFNA would have provided a link to this legislation, but could not find a politically or commercially neutral one in the time available.)
After considerable puzzlement over what message these images were intended to convey, YFNA decided that the graphic artists were attempting to label the Act’s proponents with the most hateful, universally-recognized symbols they could find, and hit upon that of the late Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. “The commies.”
Henry Ford (“History is bunk”) would have been pleased, and George Orwell would have lamented a real-life manifestation of Minitrue.
For the intent of the Workplace Freedom Act, like other right-to-work legislation mooted and in place around America, is to ensure that a worker can be hired for a job – any job – without having to join, or pay dues to, any labor union that may be in place at that worksite. Which is precisely the opposite of the situation in the historical Soviet Union and, if YFNA remembers correctly, other polities adhering to Marxist-Leninist ideology (“communism”), in which trade union membership (for the little it was worth) was compulsory. The “commie” label might be appropriate for the unions themselves, but couldn’t be more wrongly applied to Workplace Freedom Act proponents.
YFNA can only assume that the folk responsible for this billboard campaign are counting on people associating the hammer and sickle symbol with evil (cue Bond, James Bond) and remaining ignorant of the symbol’s actual history. If this assumption proves false, it’s hard to imagine the unions doing anything that could do their cause more damage than this. And, naturally, those of the Tea Party persuasion are already calling out the unions as the “true commies”.
Which is too bad. Because, if concerns about the erosion of wages and working conditions in the absence of labor unions or similar mechanisms are “hysterical”, in the eyes of right-to-work proponents, then lock YFNA up as a mad
man amoeba. There are enough stats out there documenting that erosion – the very “race to the bottom” predicted by labor union proponents – to verify that concern.
YFNA begs leave to point out that wages in America have historically been high relative to the rest of the world, and, if he understands correctly, that historical anomaly has been based on three others:
* Geographical isolation
* Scarcity of labor with respect to resources
* World War II
The last item meaning that the USA was, in 1945, one of the few places on Earth with intact manufacturing capacity and agricultural land that could be plowed without encountering unexploded ordnance, which tended to reduce both farming per-capita effort and farming capitas.
These Untied States are no longer geographically isolated (we’ve all heard about “globalization” and the “global economy”, especially during performance review sessions), labor is no longer scarce, and WWII ended 70 years ago. Our economic situation, in some worrying ways, approaches that of the so-called Gilded Age in America’s 19th century, in which huge fortunes were made off the sweat of poorly-paid laborers working in conditions that were even then considered barely tolerable and would now be labeled (by some, anyway) crimes against humanity. Conditions that goaded workers into forming, and enforcing, labor unions. Not to mention goading the pen of this German crackpot name of Marx.
“Yeah, Amoeba, but that was then, this is now, and the only thing the unions are interested in now is feeding their fat faces.” Point taken, though YFNA still has a hard time worrying about the $100,000 per annum earned by a union organizer when an investor in the business for which that organizer is working might be bringing home that much per week.
It’s true that your Amoeba has stopped watching or supporting professional sports (that includes the NCAA, guys – pro sports out of the universities!) because it’s all about the millionaire players arguing with the billionaire owners, and meanwhile Joe Bloggs can’t afford either a ticket to the game or the cable fees for ESPN.
But without their unions, the players would still have to have bake sales at the ends of their careers so they could afford a flophouse to die in. Right, Curt?
History, YFNA thinks, is not bunk. Neither is it a bunker from which to throw missiles at one’s opponents. Especially when the bunker is bunk – like trying to pin “commie” labels on libertarians. The preservation of an economy that provides both a favorable business climate and good conditions for its workforce is a serious challenge. One that can be informed by people who refrain from throwing things and make intelligent, knowledgeable use of their resources, including their history …
Yes, yes, I know. Marijuana is legal in Washington State. No I don’t.