Friday, February 25, 2011

What is Required?

I'm heading to a protest tomorrow, and this is the text to the leaflet I typed out to bring and distribute.

What is Required?

People are born into a cold world. The uncertainty of life, regardless of one’s religious affiliation or leanings, must be acknowledged. “By the sweat of our brow”, say the workers, “we earn our daily bread and keep” But what does this metaphor mean, now? That I stock a shelf, another repairs vehicles, another waits a table, and so on. The bread comes from the store, where I stock, and was generated by the factory worker, and his material came from the farmer. The house I live in was built by a carpenter. The pipes put in place by a plumber. In short, the metaphor is no longer on bread, but “By the sweat of our brow” What is required is labor.

Required for what? The immediate answer is self reliance and survival. If one does not work in this world, then one will not enjoy the material benefits of it – including the material benefit of bread. Work also gives the benefit of providing for those we love, and earning a self respect. I know that I have value because I have earned that value through work. Though this answer is true, one may then reflect: if there was no stock man, factory worker, or mechanic, would I only be a carpenter? Surely I could construct my own house, and build useful tools, and so on, but would I have the required skill to grow wheat at a requisite level of proficiency? Even above the bare necessities, what of the other things I enjoy? Surely the world we live in is lived in because others work. So it follows that, what is required is not only my own work, but the work of others: And it is required for our society.

If labor is required for our society, then labor should have a say in our society. After all, it was built by labor, and therefore it follows that it justly belongs to labor. There is a catch: labor works in concert, not as isolated units. This is one of the reasons that wealth has been generated. And, even beyond this, if this society belongs to workers, they are often busy working. As such, they often do not have the time to proclaim: “I built this!” However unjust these realities are, they are realities and it is better to build a pragmatic solution than to cave. Then what else is required? Naturally, what we are assembled for today: Unions.

Unions, traditionally and into the future, form the base of labor politics – not Democrats. This is to show that even Democrats are vulnerable to labor politics, and a hope that this will become a reality in the future. Labor needs to be heard. Labor needs power. Not only does it need, but labor is only demanding it’s just earnings in demanding voice and power. What is required then is union power, and the legal blocking of unions from the political process will negate that.

On the back I have attached selections from the Kansas Constitution to highlight in what way this language is not radical, but historically justified. “No special privileges or immunities shall ever be granted by the legislature” – such as the privilege of the rich corporate sector in politics, which this bill would surely grant. “There shall be no slavery in this state” – which labor would be made into were it separated from the political process. “Emoluments or privileges prohibited” – such as the privilege of the rich to have the free time to engage the political engine? One gets a sense of what is required: “This enumeration of rights shall not be construed to impair or deny others retained by the people; and all powers not herein delegated remain with the people.” That power not enumerated is labor power – for economics is a politic.

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