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Archive for December 12th, 2012

Takers

  • cranesolidarityThe universe of Ayn Rand and her acolytes is divided into the “makers” and the “takers”. The makers are those bold, creative risk-taking capitalists, who create wealth, which then spills over into the wider society.

The takers, on the other hand, are those dependent upon the creative wealth-making of the innovative capitalists, either by greedily demanding excessive wages and benefits if workers, or social handouts if impoverished.

But in actuality the “makers” are themselves takers. They may possess the means to fund the implementation of their ideas, but they take the labor of the worker to accomplish their ends. Without it, they cannot make anything, let alone wealth. And as recently documented here, in fact the takers are taking more than ever, to an obscene degree, even while workers’ wages are declining and worker productivity is increasing.

I was thinking of this when I heard that Michigan, of all places, had become a so-called “right to work” state. It came to this fate because of a strong Republican majority in the state legislature. Like Ohio, this was in spite of the fact that Democrats got more votes than Republicans in the recent election, 2.3 million to 2.1 million. The majority is held because of “gerrymandering”, ie, creative shaping of congressional districts to ensure a majority.

And they call it Democracy.

In Michigan, with the new law you will soon be able to work for a company where the union, through collective bargaining, has won decent wages and benefits and will defend your rights in the work place. And you can get all this without contributing to the organization that has directly benefited you.

Sounds like someone is a “taker”.

But there is hope, based upon experience, that most people will not be so greedy and ungrateful.

The Postal Service, for example, works like this. There is no obligation to join the union, even though the union is obliged contractually to represent non-union workers just as if they were members. But 93% of letter carriers do, in fact, belong to the union. Most people, is seems, know that it is wrong to not contribute to what has benefited them (hugely).

Personally, if you want the “right to work” that is fine with me, but you should get none of the benefits of union membership. If a boss wants to fire you because he doesn’t like your face, you are on your own. If you are sick, you can argue for paid sick days on your own. If collective bargaining brings a wage increase, you don’t automatically get to receive it; you must go to the boss and make your case. Want a vacation? Argue with the boss. A paid vacation? Make uyour case. And so on. It is a cliché, but “right to work” really means “right to work for less”, if taken to its logical conclusion, which of course it isn’t.

If you don’t want to join the union, fine. But don’t just be a taker.

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