Laboring through difficult times
by Donald Conkey
August 29, 2013 12:19 AM | 919 views | 0 0 comments | 12 12 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Since beginning to write this column in 1998 I have each year, as Labor Day weekend approached, written a column on the history and role of the labor unions, having once been a member of the United Auto Workers.

Most of my early columns were complimentary, but not so in recent years. As I have watched the growth of corruption in the unions, and of their growing support of the progressives (liberal Democrats) and the direction they are going by “fundamentally changing” America, I began to fear their power and disproportionate influence in Congress.

For years, whatever the unions wanted the unions got. But that may be changing.

Recently the unions went to President Obama and asked for relief from Obamacare, strongly believing that if implemented as now written it would destroy their unions. Their longtime friend in the White House rejected their pleas.

This is a classic tactic of the socialist movement — use your friends until you gain power and they are no longer needed, then abandon them, as Obama recently did. Unions beware, and this includes Georgia’s teachers unions who are strongly supporting Common Core’s implementation locally.

In recent years, I have often quoted J. Ruben Clark regarding the need for civility and understanding between capital, labor and government. In this column I re-quote Clark’s comments made in 1946.

They are more appropriate than ever today. He said: “Labor and capital must quit waging war against one another with a hate each against the other that leads easily to an actual bloodlust that is sometimes gratified.”

He continued with “But, by and large, labor’s demands of today (1946) are the inevitable consequence of capital’s extortions of yesterday. Both capital and labor forget that we are all one people and part of a great brotherhood of men.

Capital conceives of labor, and labor conceives of capital, as an inanimate, impersonal, devilish abstraction whose sole aim is the destruction of the other, and then deals with the other on that basis, … each of them forgetting and ignoring that their respective ranks are made of men (and women) of flesh and blood, and that all of us taken together make one industrial, social whole, and that if one body of us suffers, the whole of us are in distress.”

For me the most significant words in this quote were “Both capital and labor forget that we are all one people and part of a great brotherhood of men.”

And I would now add today, 67 years later, that our government has forgotten that their role is to serve “We the people,” not control us, or even try to re-enslave us as many believe the progressive agenda, “fundamentally changing America,” seems to be attempting to do by replacing the Founder’s “Tree of Liberty,” planted in 1776.

Clark’s words remind me of Cicero’s words anciently about treason, words worth pondering as America’s divide grows.

Cicero wrote: “A nation can survive its fools and even the ambitious. But it cannot survive treason from within. An enemy at the gates is less formidable, for he is known and he carries his banners openly against the city. But the traitor moves among those within the gates freely. His sly whispers rustling through all the alleys, heard in the very halls of government itself. For the traitor appears no traitor; he speaks in the accents familiar to his victims, and he wears their face and their garments and he appeals to the baseness that lies deep in the hearts of all men.”

Those who summarized Edward Gibbon’s “The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire,” published between 1776 and 1788, attributed Rome’s self-destruction to:

1. The undermining of the dignity and sanctity of the home, which is the basis of human society.

2. Higher and higher taxes and the spending of public monies for free bread and circuses for the populace.

3. The mad craze for pleasure, sports becoming every year more and more exciting and brutal.

4. The building of gigantic armaments when the real enemy was within the decadence of the people.

5. The decay of religion—faith fading into mere form, losing touch with life, and becoming impotent to warn and guide the people.”

Was it coincidence that Gibbons’ books were published just as America was being founded? No, I believe they were published as a divine warning to America of what could happen if America rejects Jefferson’s declared cornerstones of all liberty, “the Laws of Nature and of Natures God.”

Enjoy the Labor Day holiday.

Donald Conkey is a retired agricultural economist in Woodstock.

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