Saturday, December 18, 2010

Labor Unions: Catholic Teaching Versus the Libertarians

by Angus Sibley

Many politicians, I need hardly remind you, are very unsympathetic toward labor unions. You may think this simply means that they are siding with harsh employers who want to pay their workers as little as possible for interminable hours of toil. It is not as simple as that. Anti-unionism has a long, and sometimes surprising, history. We can trace it back to the eighteenth century, the age of American independence and the French Revolution. Strangely enough, it has often been favored by people who are generally considered 'enlightened'.

Catholic craftsman drawing by ChuckTrapkus
In England, Parliament passed a law in 1800 'against unlawful combinations of workmen', which aimed to outlaw unions of laborers, as well as craftsmen's guilds and all such associations. The main sponsor of this legislation was William Wilberforce, famous for his campaign against slavery.

In France, shortly after the Revolution, a similar law was enacted in 1791 by the National Assembly. The man behind this was Isaac Le Chapelier, a radical lawyer renowned for his fiery speeches denouncing the pre-revolutionary privileges of the aristocracy and clergy.

So it is clear that anti-unionism is not merely a matter of pandering to greedy capitalist employers. It is also connected with the pursuit of some forms of liberty. The radicals and revolutionaries at the end of the eighteenth century were idealists who dreamt of maximum individual freedom. That meant, among other things, that any individual should be free to enter into a contract, on any agreed terms, with any other individual; and this included contracts of employment. Any regulation of the terms of employment contracts was an interference with the freedom of individuals. Therefore, unions of workers, which collectively negotiated wage rates and working hours, were unacceptable...Milton Friedman once stated that the more unfair competition, the better ...Read it all

--->Gold, Glaze or Scumble: Creating or Destroying the Illusion of Space by David Clayton. "In good sacred art, it is not just the style of the figures that is important. Even the appearance of the negative space around the figure is controlled by the artist...Read on

Experiments with Truth

As President Barack Obama was unveiling a new report on progress of the war in Afghanistan, a lineup of high-profile dissenters joined in an act of civil disobedience organized by Veterans for Peace that ended with about 135 demonstrators being arrested outside the White House Thursday afternoon. A solidarity protest was held in New York City, where close to a dozen were arrested for blocking a street near the recruiting station in Times Square.

Police arrested 22 demonstrators who blocked entry to a downtown Los Angeles Chase bank branch Thursday to protest what they said were unfair home foreclosures...

[And note this kind of solidarity] The Eiffel Tower, Paris’ most-visited tourist site, didn’t open Wednesday morning because employees are on strike to protest the suspension of a co-worker....More

--->Letter from Catholic Worker Brian Terrell in Kabul... "The book that I brought along on this trip to Afghanistan to read as a diversion and for a little light reading is The Plague by Albert Camus..."

Moralistic song about a woman,
and her gambler man
is very possibly factual


--->Dozens Arrested at Veteran-Led Antiwar Protest, Including Pentagon Papers Whistleblower, Daniel Ellsberg (seen above)...

--->Record levels of violence in Afghanistan do not equal progress...

--->Opinion: Why are carbon trading issues that have gone awry ignored by the media? Two examples...

--->Pulitzer winner Chris Hedges Falls Into Deep Depression; tells Raw Story US empire could collapse 'at any time'...(click); "...the signs of US collapse are plain to see..."

--->Medicine Experiments on the Poor, No Informed Consent. Democracy Now reports that, "Pharmaceutical companies are increasingly conducting clinical trials for new drugs outside the U.S., usually in countries where regulations are less stringent and trials are much cheaper, often leading to deadly results. Twenty years ago, only 271 trials of drugs intended for use by Americans were conducted overseas. By 2008, the number had risen to nearly 6,500—many taking places in areas with poor and illiterate test subjects. Journalist Jim Steele joins to talk about his special investigation just published in Vanity Fair....See video report (click). "Pharmaceutical industry is biggest defrauder of Federal Government," DN reports.

--->Henry Kissinger shows himself to be "antisemitic" in that rare intelligible sense outside of the context of Nazi Germany and vicious small circles on the Internet where Jews are disliked as Jews. "If they put Jews into gas chambers in the Soviet Union, it is not an American concern," Kissinger is heard saying in the latest Nixon-era Oval Office tapes released by the Nixon Library. This is a man who had the power to influence US foreign policy, and whose ultimate concern it appears has been the will to power (which he called the greatest aphrodisiac), leaving millions dead and / or maimed for life many analysts say, in consequence of his allegedly erudite 'analysis'. Christopher Hitchens justly concludes that the "latest Nixon tape buries Kissinger’s reputation" ...Read on. If any non-Jew ever said such a thing (a thing that should not so much as be thought by a moral person) he or she would be rightly condemned by all as a moral reprobate. To criticize the behavior of some prominent Jews or Israeli state policies is of another order altogether. None of us as human beings, states, or organizations should be immune from just criticism. But none may claim any moral right to hate any people (at all) simply because they are different in race or creed.

Hitchens goes on to say, "Nothing remotely as revolting as this was ever uttered by Jesse Jackson or even Mel Gibson, to name only two famous targets of the wrath of the Anti-Defamation League. Where is the outrage?" Indeed. But there is one hope: forgiveness and penance. And Israel's High Priest, Messiah, the Suffering Servant from Nazareth, will receive any of us, no matter how grievous our sins. He can make us clean again, forgiven. He makes even the dead to rise.

--->"By the end of World War II, 90% of the casualties of war are unarmed, innocent civilians (Adam Roberts, Survival: Global Politics and Strategy, vol. 52, no. 3, June–July 2010, pp. 115–136).

--->Pope appreciates Italy's defence of crucifixes in schools. "The crucifix is certainly the emblem par excellence of the Christian faith but, at the same time, it speaks to all men of goodwill and as such is not a discriminatory item," the pontiff said"... More click here. For a recap of the issues and what is at stake, see here...

--->Christopher Ferrara: The Remnant and Common Opinion. "From Vatican II to the Iraq War The Remnant has followed the Church, not the public opinion weather vane"....Read it all

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