It’s possible to have a low opinion of billionaires without ever meeting any personally. Unfolding events — wherein Diane Hendricks, Wisconsin’s richest person, will get her fond wish of crushing unionism in Wisconsin — is just the latest example.
Does she even have union problems of her own? We’ve never heard of any. It’s hard to imagine how she ever could. As a billionaire she can buy anything buy-able in this world. So why would she yearn to crush unionism in Wisconsin? Why does she need to fuck with these [financially] ordinary people?
It’s understandable why large business owners don’t welcome unions. Organized workers ask for a share of the pie, and other benefits. Unions cost business owners money. Or they certainly might. If I were a business owner, I see where I might not welcome a union, but I hope I’d learn to live with it, and consider it just another price of operating in a democracy, because that’s what it is. Laws, rules, regulations, taxes… you might not love ’em when they apply to you, but they can’t just be for the other guy. It’s all part of living in a decent society.
It wasn’t so long ago that the ability for workers to organize was considered a marker for democracy. You’d read about someplace in Latin America where half a dozen union organizers had turned up dead, execution-style, in a ditch by the side of the road. And not for the first time had organizers been killed. And you’d say, well, that is the sign of a very immature democracy or no democracy at all. You’d say to yourself that is one, still-backward, effed-up country, and you’d be glad to live here and not there.
Or you’d read about some other spot where a thousand workers had perished when their shoddily-constructed factory building collapsed. And you’d say to yourself, lord, it is amazing what an already-rich business man can allow himself to do just to get even richer.
And then you’d see video of the leader of a foreign textile union beaten within an inch of her life (yeah, the leader’s a woman) with an iron rod just at the factory gate. And you wonder if you would ever have the courage to agitate for a union in that part of the world.
The whole history of organized labor has been battle after battle. What’s going on in Wisconsin now is not new. The nice part is, in Wisconsin nobody gets murdered. It’s all nice and legal.
We humans have our pluses and minuses. We are excellent at convincing ourselves that we are good, and whatever we’re doing needs to be done. So the governor and his backers will have lily-white explanations for why the ability of workers to organize is no longer a marker for democracy. Why, they’re expanding workers’ freedom to choose. Yeah, that’s the ticket. That sounds real nice.