Salon has an interesting interview with Arthur Goldwag, author of the new book The New Hate: A History of Fear and Loathing on the Populist Right.  He argues that the racist and conspiracist approach of today’s right-wing nut jobs is “largely the same as it was 50 years ago.”

But what caught my attention was this question and answer because I think it goes a long way towards understanding recent attacks on public workers in Wisconsin.

Why is this resurgence of the “old hate” happening now?

We’re going through a historic shift in this country.  We were on an incredible run of prosperity in the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s, thanks to the New Deal social compact, thanks to big unions, thanks to very strong regulation – thanks to all the things that Glenn Beck’s followers think are the most evil things in the world.  Fairly unskilled, uneducated people were able to earn a good living, and send their children to college.  And that’s changed.  Income inequality is growing.  If you look at American history, the bottom has dropped out of rural people’s lives every five years, but there used to also be a manufacturing class that made a decent living.  There used to be a route for people that weren’t well educated to make a decent living.  There isn’t anymore. There’s a lot of anxiety about our individual positions in our society, and our country’s position in the world. If you’re not educated to be able to understand it, and you’re trapped in a disadvantaged life, you might become really, really angry. (emphasis added)

I believe that this is, fundamentally, correct.  His assessment of the level of anger and vitriol in the undereducated population is being exploited by the right wing of the GOP in ways that are, ultimately, detrimental to their own interests.  Rather than expressing solidarity with public workers who, while not paid as well as private sector workers in general, certainly retained levels of benefits not seen in the private sector since the 1970s.  And that was achieved, of course, through collective bargaining.

You want to see envy in action, here it is.  If you think the 99% envy the wealth of the 1%, private sector workers, many of whom have ceded more benefits and more compensation to their employers demands, are most certainly envious of the benefits of their public sector brothers and sisters.  You can hear it in their rhetoric.  The rich capitalize on this envy through the omnipresent right wing media who stoke these fires of jealousy into action against working-class Americans.  They’ve even convinced these “useful idiots” that “right to work” laws will benefit workers! As Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said,

In our glorious fight for civil rights, we must guard against being fooled by false slogans, such as ‘right to work.’ It is a law to rob us of our civil rights and job rights.Its purpose is to destroy labor unions and the freedom of collective bargaining by which unions have improved wages and working conditions of everyone…Wherever these laws have been passed, wages are lower, job opportunities are fewer and there are no civil rights. We do not intend to let them do this to us. We demand this fraud be stopped. Our weapon is our vote.  (Martin Luther King, speaking about right-to-work laws in 1961)

Instead of standing in solidarity with the public sector and demanding the same benefits from their private sector employers, these cowards resort to jealous tantrums against “pampered” public sector workers.  These class traitors demand that the benefits bargained by public sector workers be slashed to the same meager levels they suffer in the private sector.  All the while, heaping opprobrium onto the very institution, the labor union, that could help raise them up.

Working class people tearing down working class people.  The capitalists have certainly won.

Jay Gould’s dystopian worker’s paradise has certainly come to pass…

I can hire one half of the working class to kill the other half.

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11 Responses to Meet the New Hate, Same as the Old Hate

  1. james booth says:

    Private sector unions/collective bargaining = OK
    government collective bargaining = NOT OK

    The feds don’t have it. Only a handful of other states DO have it. NONE should. That doesn’t mean the jobs can’t pay well, but we can’t have the PEOPLE bargaining with THE PEOPLE. It just doesn’t make sense. The taxpayers who are paying for it are NOT REPRESENTED in the bargaining process. You’ll argue in some twisted way that they are. But they are not. I don’t give a shit who you are, a city of Madison bus driver should not be able to make $100,000 or more per year.

    Obviously I feel strongly that private sector unions hold a place in our system. I have two brothers that are in manufacturing and are union members and they continue to do well and are able to provide for their families with good paying jobs and benefits. I will say that the unions often do a disservice to their members and that comes from my brothers, not me.

    • Phil Scarr says:

      Why should government employees have to accept fewer rights than private sector employees? I’m still struggling with the distinction. Employment is employment.

      • james booth says:

        Collective bargaining for PUBLIC employees is NOT a right. And the very people public employees are bargaining with are the ones their union dues paid to put in power. So it simply leaves the taxpayer out of the bargaining process. It should be ILLEGAL!

  2. james booth says:

    And thanks Phil for the headline. Now I have The Who stuck in my head!

  3. Susan Hagstrom says:

    And please stop using the bus driver example. That bus driver worked hard, did a lot of overtime, and I mean a lot, and earned his money.

    If a private sector employer worked the equivalent of 2-3 jobs and earned that money, all you right wingers would be going rah! rah!

    It just points out the reason such articles need to be written.

    • james booth says:

      wrong! That’s over-time stacking in order to build up his pension. It should not be allowed.

      And your comparison is invalad. You libs do this all the time. You can’t compare private sector workers with public. Apples and oranges because government jobs are nearly 100% funded by the taxpayer. So that makes it my business to question it.

  4. Susan Hagstrom says:

    So nobody on earth should be given a bonus for going over and above their duties?

    Because that is what overtime is for.

    And I’m going to question both public and private sector job habits.
    You want private sector bad job habits? Like providing forms of health insurance where if you get sick you go bankrupt? Locking employees in the building so they can’t get out? Sweatshops in China where they keep the employees at the same position amid bad chemicals so they get deathly ill before they’re 30?

    Or public sector positions? Wages stagnate for the lowly peons while the legislature and higher-ups get yearly raises? With the thefts of the republican party, Beginning low-wage employees earning below poverty level if they have a family? People like you twisting their hard earned pensions into benefits, and making them feel like they’re being attacked for helping the public?

    Dude, I question everything.

    • james booth says:

      sure, but we are still talking about two separate arguments. The market can deal with private sector issues, and it has. For example, efforts to not support companies that allow questionable labor practices abroad. The market CANNOT influence public sector issues. And with libs in power in Wisconsin literally no one would!

  5. Susan Hagstrom says:

    It’s initially hard to not agree with the statement that the market cannot influence public sector issues, but as a lowly peon in the state government I have to differ.

    The government is Directly affected by the market. I work in the Health department, and I can tell you right now that issues that get addressed by the Health department are issues that can get grants from public or private sectors, or can effectively argue for fees from the market, or get funding by some other methodology.

    That occurs no matter who is in power.

    Funding can also increase by a grave ickiness on the part of what you call the market. For example, food inspectors can argue for an increase in fees after a food poisons people. Republicans or Democrats. It’s a market thing via government. You get enough people saying stop X from poisoning us, either party will react.

    Employees also get affected by the market. You cannot begin to pretend that part of the reason our wages got cut is to give the part of the market that supported Scott Walker more money. Don’t even try.

    And I’ve not noticed a significant decrease in IPAD purchasing due to outrage over the poisoning of Chinese workers in Apple sweatshops, so your other argument only has the potential of working, not necessarily working.

    I think you’re demonstrating with your ultra support of the market a problem America has. Pretty much all or nothing, without seeing potentials and devastation’s of a lack of moderation.

    Looking back in history, a free market without regulation was a pretty nasty place. Also, government makes it’s own problems. I argue for moderation, bringing out the good in both, looking outside the box for more options.

    Example: Scott Walker had a lot of issues with Unions in Milwaukee county. So, instead of modifying the rules of negotiating with unions, he tossed Unions in the garbage, not offering anything as a replacement to protect workers.

    Not good.

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