Sunday, October 10, 2010

Always two sides

A good friend sent me a slide show with a beautiful rendition of "Don't Cry for Me Argentina" as the background. It purported to trace a parallel between the U.S. and Argentina of the past century. Argentina according to the information was second to the U.S. in economy around 1900. They had railroads, industrial development, and a robust economy Then came the progressive/socialist politicians who instituted government run health-care, stimulus packages and appealed to the masses. Thus the disintegration of Argentina and the argument that the U.S. is on a similar track.

I don't say hogwash. However, what concerns me is that the other side of the story is ignored. Yes there was industrial development similar to the U.S. but there was abuse of the workforce, there was no pass through of the riches the industrial and agricultural captains gained. Just as in the U.S.

Are we so naive to think that a group of workers got together and said, lets fork over two hours of our wages every month to a group of people to represent out interests with the owners, and let's call that organization a union. No, people who did not kowtow to the owner's wishes could be black listed, never to work in that community again. They could be summarily fired at a whim without recourse. This country's legal system is built on the right to have your side of the story heard and a judgment rendered. I do not like unions because the nature of the union's philosophy leads to mediocrity. But, unions did not spring up from some satisfied worker wishing to bond together, they arose because of the abuse the owners perpetrated to satisfy their own lust for power and greed for material reward.

A story is told of George Pullman who had built a company town for his workers. Due to a recession in the 1890's the Pullman Palace Car Company was forced to lay off workers, some of whom lived in the company town. When rent came due workers told the company they had no income and could not pay the rent. Pullman was supposed to have replied, well, my bills continue even with the economic downturn, so you must still pay the rent.

I believe in an individual rights. I believe we have the responsibility to take care of ourselves and our families. I do not ask for help from anyone, if possible. But I also believe in being fair and just. Many captains of industry were not, their riches were gained off the sweat of the workers and without care or consideration. Henry Ford did not increase the pay of his workers to $5.00 a day when the average was $1.00 per day out of some sense of humanitarian fairness, but so his workers could afford to buy his cars.

What we seem to have a difficult time accomplishing is a balance. Perhaps it is the the nature of our kind that a balance will never be struck because of the basic competitive nature of mankind. But it should ebb and flow without violent swings, and that is what this country is all about. ;

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