Today, organized labor was dealt a crippling blow in its symbolic home of Michigan. The state legislature passed Right to Work Laws, officially ending compulsory union dues for the state's public and private employees.
77 year ago, 35 percent of the nation's workforce was unionized. Just beyond the oppressive tenure of the robber barons and the newly powerful corporate interests, there was a need for organized labor.
The Industrial Revolution of the 19th century produced rapid expansion of the nation's manufacturing base. Factories emerged like teenage acne. Unexpectedly and everywhere.
Factory conditions were miserable. Dirty and dangerous. At the time, government did little to protect workers. So, workers organized. Unions became the means by which companies were forced to reduce the 20 hour day. Improve upon often dangerous conditions. And pay an honest wage for an honest day's work.
1945 represented the peak of the movement. But, organized labor has continued to serve a purpose as the public and private sector worked towards a happy median on the treatment of the nation's workers. That usefulness, however, has faded.
The Department of Labor, O.S.H.A. and other government agencies rule the labor landscape with policies of zero tolerance. Where the robber barons feared nothing, today's employers cringe at the sight of an envelope with the letters D.O.L upon it.
Whereas 19th century workplaces were unsanitary, today's workplaces often include kitchens, childcare, gyms and smoothie bars.
My first union experience was in high school. Installing swimming pools, I spent four summers with a crew of the same guys. We cussed, swapped stories, worked hard, and ended each day with a cold beer.
Throughout that time I worked beside an affable man I'll call "Wally." Wally had a job at the Ford factory. Yet, each summer he was laid off and ended up with us.
At the end of one particular day I had a conversation with the owner. We discussed the guys with whom I worked, and I asked him about Wally.
"Don't feel sorry for old Wally. Each year's layoff is temporary. He joins us out of boredom. He makes about $120,000 a year with Ford. He's got better benefits than I do. Old Wally does pretty well."
In 1990, $120,000 was a fortune. And that brief introduction to unions was illuminating.
Today, membership has declined, yet unions still exist. Always trying to gain a foothold at Wal-Mart. To organize restaurant industry employees.
I know nothing about unions. Though it strikes me that the role once performed by unions is now provided by a large federal government and its vast array of regulatory agencies.
Nor does it require a doctorate in managerial sciences to detect a correlation between organized labor and systemic inefficiencies. The airlines. The automakers. The guys who made Twinkies and King Dongs. Each has suffered very public difficulties that could not avoid bankruptcy and third-party bailouts. Each involved organized labor fighting with management over higher wages. Better contracts.
But, if unions do exist to protect the desperate and disenfranchised, then the time has come for one group of Americans to organize. Unite around common cause. Stand up and demand respect.
This group has unlimited potential, but limited power. It has been coerced into internecine warfare. Manipulative outsiders have manufactured divisive issues solely to fracture their thinking. Keep them at odds. Limit their power.
Tax payers, stand up.
The recent election appeared to involve so many contentious social issues. Yet, regardless of what Democrats and Republicans wanted us to believe, both candidates saw eye-to-eye on most, if not all of them.
Religious tolerance. Women's rights. Gay rights. Racial issues. Gun ownership. None of the first, second, fourteenth or nineteenth amendments was to be altered, regardless of outcome.
Yet, it was enough to distract you. To pit responsible, hard working Americans against each other. Forced you to fight over monolithic issues that will keep their forward momentum regardless.
There is one group, however, whose persecution continues unabated. Worsens every year. They have been slandered, harassed, ridiculed and ignored. Made to feel as if their concerns were not worth the saliva required to speak them.
Ye lowly taxpayers.
The political candidates used taxpayer funds to run divisive campaigns. Degraded much of what you hold sacred. Promised to help the needy. The aging. The less fortunate. All well and good. Except that politicians are great at making promises that require a lot of money. Other people's money.
Taxpayers, haven't you done enough?
You bailed out GM. Chrysler. AIG. Fannie Mae. Freddie Mac. Wall Street. You covered the thirty-year retirements of two generations. And will soon do the same for boomers.
Filthy, despicable taxpayers.
You cover the healthcare expenses for our elderly. You provide an education for our children. Cover the salaries, healthcare and lavish lifestyles for tens of thousands of local, state and federal politicians. You provide salaries and benefits for nearly 25 million local, state and federal employees - so enabling one in every 14 Americans to work for the state, and so enjoy a lifetime of benefits that you will never realize yourselves.
Sad, ignorant taxpayers.
You have lived in a meritocracy so that roughly 50 percent of your fellow voting citizens could enjoy a semblance of stability without the pressure of contributing.
When the median welfare benefits provide more than the median household income, you did not complain.
Raw deal recipient? Thy name is taxpayer.
Meanwhile, our smirking political representatives walk you on a dog's leash. Closer to the fiscal cliff each day. As they bickering and screech.
"How can we force these ignorant milking cows, these lowly taxpayers, to pay more while we pay only lip service?" They ask each other. Still, you barely complain.
You send them checks. Even as they spend not billions, but trillions, on issues and services that run counter to the values you've taught your children.
You are given no more respect than the horses in the old westerns. Ridden long and hard. And when you can go no further, you're simply put out of your misery.
Now is the time. Taxpayers, unite!
Close your ears to the tireless rhetoric used to rally us against one another. The political pomposity spewed to underscore our small differences. We have so much more in common!
Without you, taxpayers, this nation shuts down. Creditors don't get paid. Homes, offices and schools go dark. Transportation ceases. Markets shut down. Stores bar the doors. Commerce quits. Planes don't fly. The armed services cease to defend. Tourism ends. Universities close.
The nearly eight percent of that nation that works for the government? They go home. Who do you think pays them, the government? You do, you foolish beasts of burden!
The time has come, taxpayers. Rise up! Pool your powers. State your demands!
You want our tax dollars?
Pass a balanced budget amendment!
Cut entitlement spending!
Close the capital to lobbyists!
Fix the budget deficit!
Free our businesses from overregulation!
Force The Fed to stop manipulating the business cycle!
Free our children from a lifetime of bondage in the slave quarters of debt servitude!
Wake up, taxpayers. Understand your value. As an organized, cohesive body, you are the only group in this nation truly capable of turning the switch on or off.
If you refuse to pay taxes, what will they do? Rebuild debtors prisons? They'll have to begin with everyone in D.C. Those politicians who have built the largest unpaid tab that mankind has ever seen. And only then will they try to arrest a hundred million of you. Most enlightened taxpayers.
At some point, this nation had best begin to pay you some Goddamn respect. You pay their salaries. Their cell phone bills. Their utilities. Their cable.
Imagine if you paid room, board and tuition for a college student. Yet, each time you called or visited, he sneered at you. Told you how to run your life. Forced you to help others he felt worthy of your largesse. You'd quickly cut him off. Or worse.
Until you begin to respect yourself, and realize the collective power you possess, then you will continue to be disrespected. Treated like a joke with every passing election.
Unite, taxpayers. You are powerful. More than 70 million strong. If they fail to listen, then turn off the lights. Walk away. These states are united because of you alone.