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Desc:FDR propaganda piece... Amazing that presidents could get away with this kind of talk.
Category:Classic Movies, Educational
Tags:roosevelt, labor, FDR, unions, strikes
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Comment count is 24
baleen - 2008-10-05

Bring it on back... And to think, we could have still been a nation of manufacturers and not a nation of servants and nurses...

ProfessorChaos - 2008-10-05
Nothing fills my heart with glee quite like seeing a picket line. I cannot comprehend why so many in this people don't like or trust unions.
I just don't understand can't see this as a shining example of what we should hope for.
Desidiosus - 2008-10-05
It would be interesting to study how, over the years, the perception of unions changed from protectors of the workers to impediments to capitalism. I'll give the right credit, their propaganda certainly worked in that case.
Unmerciful Crushing Force - 2008-10-05
So hopeful, inspiring yet utterly depressing all at the same time.

The increasingly negative perception of unions increased probably due to the companies realizing that outsourcing labor was cheaper and unions didn't like that because it took away their jobs. Of course, the counterargument is that keeping jobs inside the country helps the economy as a whole in the long run. However, I'll leave the smart talking to someone with a better grasp on issues than I have.
The Great Hippo - 2008-10-05
The increasingly negative perception of unions is because unions have become fucking evil. They road in on a white horse back in the day, but the vast majority of them today are interested in making money, not protecting the workers.

Where I worked, it was a closed shop. I had to be in the union. "Fine," I said. "I'll voice my opinion in a vote." Then I find out--guess what! The vote's been canceled, because no one's running against the guy in charge. Who happens to be the previous guy's son.

Fuck unions.

The Great Hippo - 2008-10-05
To qualify my remarks: I think unions are necessary (they are NOT an anti-capitalist institution--anyone who says this does not know how capitalism works; unions are just businesses regulating resources (work labour) like any other, the only difference is that they've got tons of protection under US law--the whole 'anti-capitalist' thing is just because unions were founded in America by communists, which is a non-issue when you look at what they actually ARE), but what they've become is basically just another corporation out to make money while getting drunk on its past of handing big business its ass. Oh, and despite just being a business model, they want more special treatment than ACTUAL businesses.

The Great Hippo - 2008-10-05
And I know I'm triple posting because I KNOW I'm going to get hit with a wall of text for saying this shit--but just so you all understand, I think the IDEA of a union is great, and nothing makes me laugh harder than right-wing twits who say unions are anti-capitalist and anti-american (unions ARE the self-regulating businesses they always talk about magically appearing--but as soon as the unions show up, they shit their pants, forget their free market rhetoric, and run under Uncle Sam's skirt to protect them from the big bad wolf of free market controls). And it's great to have someone around who can look after you when a company's looking to fuck you up the ass.

But unions are horrible. They're rife with corruption, they protect horrible workers (I've seen unions defend people to the death who they KNEW were stealing), and they're always looking for more cash. And in the coming economic crisis, I know they're going to make more problems than solutions.

baleen - 2008-10-05

My experience with Unions has been pretty bad as well. The problem with Unions is they don't work unless everyone in the business is involved, but as you said, they become a closed shop, and the nepotism is something that Union guys complain about all the time.

I remember working on a shoot and carrying a sandbag about ten feet. I was mobbed by Italian guys (who were just standing there smoking) and they asked me my local. I couldn't even lift a damn sandbag to do my job.

On the other hand, if it were not for the 16% of the workforce actually employed by Unions, those people would be making shit wages. If you actually want your Boeing planes being made by employees who are getting "market value" for their work, in other words, pissed off, easily replaceable guys getting /hr with no benefits, than that's fine, but don't expect any pride in work that is not owned by its workers... And that there is the double edged sword of organized labor.

Marx never intended unions to last forever anyway. They were just a segway to bring justice to industrial workers who were being exploited until mechanization reached a point (he predicted this) that it would virtually replace workers and there would be no NEED for industrial workers anymore. Everyone would simply own the products that were being made. As it is now, we can replace almost all labor with automation, we just choose to defer this to the third world, because our economy is based on generation capital, not on the inevitable leap to automated industry. We already have the technology to produce all the textiles in the world on a few industrial plots with automation, we just choose to have it made in sweatshops because the economy, as it is, would fall apart otherwise.

ProfessorChaos - 2008-10-05
Well, That pretty much sums up every argument i've ever heard against unions very well.

United Workers are still wholly necessary to protect the common folks against capitalistic excess. Unions may not represent that exactly, but they have two things going for them.
1) Theoretically Democratic Processes. (and having never been a part of a union, i only say theoretically, and will leave that discussion up to others with a better grasp of things. Nothing to stop people from running against the son of the former union leader, right?) It becomes possible to improve an organization if it has a democratic foundation.
2) Is there (currently) a better (existing) option to achieve this necessary function?

The Great Hippo - 2008-10-05
Not as far as I'm aware, which is why I'd say unions are a necessary evil. Doesn't stop me from hating on anyone who wants to put them up on a pedastol, though. I've heard plenty of nightmare stories about unions and their hijinks at conventions, too (basically, if you want to do a convention, don't ever put it in Pennsylvania. The unions will make you regret it).

I absolutely agree with baleen that we need these ass-fuckers to keep wages fair. I'm just saying--don't romanticize it. Most of the people at the top are fuckwads and completely undeserving of any sort of respect. These are no longer idealistic institutions.

Republicans say and do a lot of stupid shit, but the bad rep that unions have gotten is wholly and absolutely deserved.

baleen - 2008-10-05

Now that the taxpayers are taking control of MASSIVE quantities of corporate capital, some of what Marx predicted is coming true. A representative government now owns much of the corporate world in the United States, or we should if the bailout goes through. Many banks are going to stick it out, because they don't want the golden parachute clauses attached to the bailout, and they also don't particularly like the idea of average taxpayers being equal shareholders in their companies. Who knows what's going to happen to them. Politicians controlling the activities of banks is terrifying to them, but they themselves demonstrated the weakness and unsustainable nature of a free market.

I also think that stock options should be available, even required of all large businesses. All workers should own a piece of their company, and this is a way to do it in a way that works with capitalism. Workers that control the profit of their companies are more proud and active in their workplaces, but of course they also have power over who their bosses are.

The Great Hippo - 2008-10-05
Not to have a whole dialogue in this video tree, but I wanted to mention--I really like the idea of the workers having an equal stake in the company's shares, because it deconstructs the need for a union and blends its function into the company itself. If, collectively, the workers own enough stake in the company to change company policy, then there's your union.

I'm no communist, but I think capitalism needs controls. Human greed is the most powerful motivating force (for good or evil) in society; allowing it to run rampant and without restriction leads to short-sighted idiocy (see: Our current economy). Combining some measure of communism's collective responsibility with capitalism's emphasis on individual prosperity, personal liberty, and self-sufficiency is what I'd like to see, and the optimist in me likes to think that's where we're heading.

baleen - 2008-10-05

The shareholder idea is just something I thought would be a cool. I remember in the 90's it was part of the excitement and boundless ambition of the dotcom boom.

Also capitalism, on its most fundamental level, is a game with rules and referees. The free market is as much a myth as "communism" was. Communism, as Marx originally envisioned it, was the end result of centuries of progression and phases of development. Soviet Communism has absolutely nothing to do with this. According to Marx, the unions absolutely must break down to make way for automation, then the ever shortening of work weeks as labor gives way to increased mechanization. Food, shelter, health care and other essential needs are provided for by an extremely low labor society completely owned by its workers... Sometimes feels like that's almost happening on its own, especially with current events? Marx rather predicted all these things over 150 years ago.

Towards the end of his life he grew so enraged by the treatment of workers that he moved away from his dissection of history and into a more aggressive stance, though this is partly credited to be the meddling of an overly aggressive editor Engels. I can't claim to even remotely understand Marx, I just find it interesting that there are parallels between his predictions and what has been happening over the past few decades.

Coax_Current - 2008-10-06
Yeah, there are potentially better structures, and there are people working on the theory and the actual practice.

For example, a guy named Steve Nieman fought and won against a union for charging him fees and not allowing him proper representation. He also helped found a union himself, at ourunion.org

As for alternative corporate structures, I'd point to a combo of Chris Cook's opencorporate models, which are similar to Muhammad Yunus' concept of social enterprises laid out in Creating a World Without Poverty. Merging in with these are additional concepts of governance, from a number of places, such as Elinor and Vincent Ostrom's work on common pool resources and public administration, mechanism design theory (Hurwicz, Maskin, and Myerson), and even "the Toyota Way."

We can potentially transcend capitalism versus communism by creating a hybrid form that enables unlimited "growth" of nonrival goods (information) while enabling sustainable and equitable management of rival goods (everything of substance).

New, equitable enterprises that inherently, in their structure, are cooperative, purpose-driven, and accountable will have to remove market share from the old guard until their assets and employees are acquired in one way or another. As enterprise is reclaimed for the public good, so too can the government be reclaimed, as economic power is redistributed.

Not saying it WILL happen, but all the knowledge needed to do it is available, and a few pilot programs and pioneers are working on it. Sorry if that was all too abstract, I just wanted to put a little overview and some things to consider out there.

Also consider, if you will, the concepts of Gene Sharp's strategic nonviolent struggle as applied to the military industrial complex. Build alternatives, undermine authority, be persistent and relentless.

KnowFuture - 2008-10-05
A lot of people talk about going back to the old ways in this country. Here ya go.

Cena_mark - 2008-10-05
None of those are rights, they are privileges that must be earned through hard work.

Right to a decent job. You have to earn a decent job. If I own a company will the government force me to give a job to someone who doesn't deserve it?

Give me a fucking break, may that communist cripple rot in hell.
baleen - 2008-10-05

Get back to work cena, you lazy faggot, and don't come out till you get rickets.

KnowFuture - 2008-10-05
Nobody shows up at your job and slaps the dick out of YOUR mouth...

Keefu - 2008-10-05
Internment camps, taking over the economy, and other stuff, you were a pretty eerie parallel to the fascist leaders of your time, Frankie!
baleen - 2008-10-05

No he wasn't. Heart Mountain sucked, but our country was so racist and evil that Japanese were being dragged out of their homes and beaten. Their stores were being looted. Some argue that the internment camps may have saved ironically saved their lives, considering that this happened in a time when black people were being hanged for using the wrong water fountain. No president is perfect when held to the light of history, and looking at FDR through the lens of post Civil Rights era America is just... dumb.

Keefu - 2008-10-05
Point taken.

I'm not trying to crucify him as a great dictator or start some huge argument on the case of his worth as a president though. That's for some troll like Billy or Cena to jump start probably. I should have worded what I originallly had said a little better, but it always struck me that he still had an amount of power in the way that strikes me as a sort of "oh, that's kind of creepy" thing.

I'm not a history expert though, so a lot of what I say or think can probably be disregarded.

The Great Hippo - 2008-10-05
Actually, you're right to find him a little creepy; Franklin consolidated incredible amounts of power (although some of that had to be with being at the right place at the right time) and was generally manipulative as all hell.

I've heard the whole "It was for their own good!" song and dance for the internment camps before--bull shit. Even if that's true, Roosevelt certainly didn't do it for that reason. We're free to judge him for throwing Americans into internment camps--just as we're free to judge his wishy-washy stance on segregation and civil rights, so long as we keep in mind that the reason he didn't take a stronger stance was because he'd lose crucial support from Southern politicians during a time of great crisis.

The Great Hippo - 2008-10-05
(By the by, one of the ways you can figure out if it's okay to judge a historical figure for their shit is by seeing how many people opposed it and to what degree--the Japanese internment camp thing was LOUDLY opposed by quite a number of smarty-pants, so I think that the claim that FDR was 'a product of his times' or 'helpless to see the injustice in his actions' is a load of BS. Especially when the man's on record for saying that being American has nothing to do with race.)

baleen - 2008-10-06

One of those smarty pantses was J. Edgar Hoover... I honestly think it's very difficult to understand how the world really was. As I said, it was wrong, and there is blood on FDR's hands because of it, but FDR was under a lot of pressure, and during war wrong things are done. After all, there was already a fascist coup d'etat led against FDR in 1933. This is something we can't understand today. It WAS a different time. Our treatment of Middle Easterners now, with suspension of habeas corpus, is similar, but nowhere near as close in magnitude.

We stood against an extremely united, powerful enemy. FDR was probably looking at having to give up his seat to someone much worse if he did not take dramatic action. As you said, the Democratic party was dominated by racist southerners. When you look at some of the candidates that could have been in FDR's place if he showed too much weakness domestically, it might become clearer why he was forced to violate his belief system.

"Roosevelt explained his reluctance to support anti-lynching legislation in a conversation with Walter White of the NAACP. "I did not choose the tools with which I must work. Had I been permitted to choose then I would have selected quite different ones. But I've got to get legislation passed by Congress to save America. The Southerners by reason of the seniority rule in Congress are chairmen or occupy strategic places on most of the Senate and House committees. If I come out for the anti-lynching bill now, they will block every bill I ask Congress to pass to keep America from collapsing. I just can't take that risk." However, he did move Blacks into important advisory roles, brought them as delegates to the Democratic National Convention for the first time, ***abolished the two-thirds rule that gave the South veto power over presidential nominations,*** added a civil rights plank for the first time ever to the 1940 party platform, and included Blacks in the draft with the same rights and pay scales as whites."

This explains some of the ancient issues he was against. It's simply not comparable to today.

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