The Freedom To Fail On Your Own.

There’s a long-standing attitude of individualism in the US that causes people to inherently dislike any form of collectivism, such as collective bargaining through labor unions.  As I wrote in a previous post, we come from a long line of independent-minded people; people who were pushed out of Europe by dictators of all ilks, from royalty to the Roman Catholic Church.

Unfortunately, corporations and their lackeys on the right have been able to exploit this inborn streak of independence to extract money from us.  They have used a combination of lobbyists, campaign contributions, exportation of jobs, and right wing media megaphones to undermine labor unions and pit workers against one another in order to maximize profits while minimizing wages and benefits.

As a result of the propaganda, far too many Americans equate labor unions with socialism or communism.  Many poor and middle class workers vote for candidates that will continue the pattern of withdrawing employee benefits, eliminating pensions, depressing wages and foreclosing on homes.  Now they are turning their attention to the “entitlements” – Social Security and Medicare.

Yet many of us will continue to support corporations out of the fear of losing our jobs, misplaced loyalty, or the determination to “make it on our own.”  What these people don’t understand is that any individual’s disagreement with a large, heavily capitalized corporation is not a fair fight.  A retail clerk cannot fairly negotiate with a big box retailer.  An assembly line worker cannot win against a large manufacturer.  A maid cannot fight a large hotel chain.

The only chance they have to improve their position and their wages is to band together.  Individuals, no matter how hard they work, are far more likely to fail on their own than to make it on their own.