Watching what is happening in Wisconsin really gets me to thinking. What is the power of unions in society today, and more importantly, what is the power of labor and the general populace?
The Tea Party would like you to believe that the people today are growing more powerful than anything. Through their combined conservative populism, they will shake this nation to its foundation and bring it back to the supposedly conservative principals it is founded on.
However, the issue I see at hand is not whether or not public unions are a busting state finances. Studies show that unions will only raise what their workers get in pay and benefits on average of 6 percent, no where near enough to break the bank of a state. Rather, what I see here is an assault on something more precious, the American dream.
Herbert Croly wrote in 1909 that the American dream is a powerful thing, but that is was under assault by Robber Barron’s. For him the standard formula for the American success story had fundamentally changed. It was no longer hard work + freedom of opportunity= success. Instead, freedom of opportunity was lacking. People could work as hard as they wanted but they would not succeed because the powerful monopolized the opportunities. The sad truth is that the situation hasn’t changed. Unions, whose sole purpose for existing is to protect the common mans access to this opportunity are under attack. As access to this opportunity decreases so does the power of the general populace. This has been evident for some time. The previous decade reversed the trend of the 1990’s and the average person saw his wage stagnate or decrease while the rich man has saw his money increase. As well, attempts to protect this opportunity for shrinking middle class and the lower classes has been branded with the insidious word of socialism.
The party that prides itself on self help and the American dream is destroying it for everybody when they create these policies that favor the rich and harm the middle class. Croly believed that only the government could step in to alleviate the problems of unequal opportunities, yet what we have here is the government trying to erect unequal opportunities for people. The concept of positive rights is just as important as the concept of negative rights. How can people work hard to achieve the American dream when they must worry about whether or not they can afford to a medical bill if an accident happens. Then when the government attempts to step in and help, cries of loss of rights that have been monopolized by the rich comes from the conservatives of our nation.
C. Write Mills wrote that it only takes three groups to dominate an entire society. We see it today in the alliance of the business elite like Davide Koch who monopolize rights, such as money now counting as free speech, who lobby the the second group the conservative politicians for special privileges, like tax breaks. The second group then uses the third group, the military, to use two wars to justify their expensive pet projects to the business elite. All the while, they balance the budget on the backs of middle class Americans.
This assault on unions is an assault on the American dream. The power elite of Mills theory is dead set on preserving their monopoly over the American dream.