Hard Talk On Labor Day
By William Rivers Pitt
t r u t h o u t | Perspective
Monday 1 September 2003
Did everyone have a nice weekend? Good. Thank a Union.
I was tempted to come in here today and deliver a speech about how
important unions have been to the development of this nation, and to me
After all, I make my living as a writer. Before that, I made my living
as a teacher. The
bedrock abilities I need to do both those jobs were given to me by
union teachers. A
union member taught me to read. A union member taught me to write.
Union members taught
America to respect the rights and strengths of working people
everywhere. I submit that
an America with no union organization would be an America most citizens
could not be
able to recognize, an America most citizens would want nothing to do
So, yeah, I thought about giving that speech. I figured it would
be a home run
ball. But then it struck me. First of all, you folks don't need to sit
here and listen
to someone wax poetic about the greatness of unions. You already know.
Second of all,
giving a speech like that, in this day and age, would be like sitting
in the middle of a
house fire talking about how warm and cozy we are. This house is on
fire, and so today I
want to talk to you about how we are going to stomp out those flames
before they burn
out everything that is important to us as citizens, and as a nation
A man said, "On this Labor Day weekend, Americans pay tribute to
the spirit of hard
work and enterprise that has always made this nation strong. Every day,
our workers go
to factories and offices and farms and produce the world's finest goods
Their creativity and energy are the greatest advantage of the American
What man said that? George W. Bush said that, on Saturday, from
his ranch in
Crawford Texas. Does anyone else appreciate the irony? This house is on
fire, and George
is sitting in the front yard with a great big flamethrower and a grin
on his face. The
history of unions has always been a story of the people versus the
powerful, the worker
versus the bosses, the folks scratching to keep the lights on at home
versus the folks
taking CEO salaries home that are so big they need a fleet of Brinks
trucks to drive
them, laughing, all the way to the bank.
Some will argue that George W. Bush is a great leader. I would
argue that he is a
symbol, in more ways than one. As a leader he is literally symbolic, a
Symbols are important. He is a symbol of what happens when workers stop
they have a say in their rights as workers. When that happens, guys
like this find
themselves able to run the show. And let's face it, ladies and
gentlemen: The incredible
mess this Iraq war is, and is turning into, is nothing more or less
than a prime example
of what you get when you put the boss' son in charge of the production
It is all well and good for Mr. Bush to praise the greatness of
worker. But it behooves us to look long and hard at how the American
worker has fared
under his administration, and to talk long and hard about what that
record means to us,
and to this country.
So let's talk hard.
The Bush administration has proposed changes to the Fair Labor
Standards Act that
would strip millions and millions of American workers of the ability to
pay for overtime work. In this ongoing recession - helped in no small
part by a couple
of Bush administration tax cuts that were basically multi-billion
dollar thank-you notes
to the corporations that funded Bush's 2000 campaign - in this on going
many many American families depend on overtime pay to make ends meet.
If the White House
gets its way, that thin safety net will be gone.
We shouldn't be surprised by this, by the cynical way Bush pats
workers on the back
with one hand while gutting their income with the other. This
administration has made
much of the need to support our troops in Iraq, something I am sure
each and every
person in this room agrees with. How, then, does this administration
think it is
supporting the troops by pushing a policy to cut hazard pay - overtime
pay at the
extreme definition - for our soldiers still under fire in Iraq?
Such actions demonstrate a callousness of spirit that is as
unpatriotic as anything
I have ever heard of. When American workers and American soldiers are
menaced by the
economic policies of a sitting President, that sitting President should
be made to
stand, and walk, right out the White House door.
Let's talk hard.
Let's talk about the 11 million jobs lost in this country during
the tenure of an
administration that some maniacs decided to give Fast-Track treaty
approval to. Jobs in
automotive, aviation, computer, data-processing and
software-programming, for starters,
are sprinting overseas in an stampede of 'outsourcing' that will only
be exacerbated by
the Bush administration's love affair with concepts like the Free Trade
Area of the
I'm going to put my Wobbly hat on for a moment, and so I hope you
will bear with
me, because there are some old Wobbly ideas that deserve a second look
in this brave new
world. Those millions of outsourced jobs that union workers could be
doing are leaving
this country for one reason: Because the countries they are going to
have no history of,
nor protection for, collective bargaining to protect workers' rights
and workers' wages.
The companies that are outsourcing to China, to India, to Bangladesh,
Philippines, are doing an end run around each and every one of us.
It can be argued that the process of 'Economic Globalization' has
been going on
since the first Chinese trader met the first Indian merchant on the
Silk Road and said,
"Have I got a deal for you." It can be argued that globalization is
especially given the incredible technological leaps forward we make,
seemingly on an
hourly basis. But if that globalization is allowed to continue without
around the world the ability to unionize, to fight for a living wage,
to strike for the
right to improve their lot, workers here in America and around the
world will reap the
whirlwind, will find their backs broken at the expense of bosses who
historically allergic to giving their employees the rights they so
That, ladies and gentlemen, is what the Bush administration is
symbolic of. They
symbolize the repudiation of that right to collective bargaining that,
simply put, made
this country what it is today. They symbolize the stripping of your
within this economy, for no other purpose than to empower the few over
Talking hard is dangerous, especially these days. As a nation we
September 11, been cautious and deferential about criticizing the
actions and ideologies
of the boys and girls in Washington. We've had to deal with the idea,
evinced clearly by
this administration, that to criticize is to be unpatriotic. We've been
told, by none
other than White House spokesman Ari Fleischer, to "Watch what we say."
I submit that union men and women have earned the right to speak
strongly against the direction this country is headed. They earned that
right with the
blood and lives of the union men and women who charged headlong into
buildings two years ago. Union men and union women do their jobs. On
that dark day,
union men and union women spent their lives on the job, and they did it
without a second
thought or a hesitating step. Union men and women earned the right to
speak their minds
after their fallen brothers and sisters were used by the Bush
administration as props in
a photo-op, and then were shamefully slapped across the face by that
Here's the news, America. 'Homeland Security' is not a bunch of
guys in black suits
and sunglasses. Homeland Security is cops, and fire fighters, and
teams, all the people who work every day to save lives. Homeland
Security on September
11 was union workers all, and those cops and fire fighters and EMTs
have since had their
funding eviscerated by an administration that took their pictures and
then gave them the
back of its hand.
Oh, yes, ladies and gentlemen, the right to speak out has been
Caution and deference have no place in this conversation anymore.
We gave those
people our caution and deference, and they have paid us back by
steamrolling us. So
enough of caution. Enough of deference. It is time to talk hard. If we
can't speak the
truth in the daylight, we will never be able to begin the process of
changing that which
desperately needs to be changed. Every great movement in history has
begun with one
thing: Words exchanged in truth between people of good conscience. So
let us, as people
of good conscience, exchange a few hard words in the hopes of beginning
time has come.
A long time ago, a man named Benito Mussolini invented something
called Fascism. In
the time since, fascism has come to be defined by Nazis, by war, and by
humanity that defy description. But when Mussolini invented fascism,
had not yet established themselves. Mussolini, the inventor of fascism,
differently. "The first stage of fascism," said Mussolini, "should more
called Corporatism because it is a merger of state and Corporate
Now, even with all my tough talk about hard words and doing away
with caution, I am
appropriately cautious about using so bloody a word in this setting.
Well I should be.
But I ask you: What do we have today if not the beginnings of the
merging of state and
corporate power? Even if you refuse to see our current situation
eyes, even if you refuse to use that hardest of words, the simple fact
corporate world and the federal government are becoming one and the
same is clear, and
unavoidable. Is that merger complete in America? Certainly not. Are we
headed in that
direction? Lawyers use a Latin phrase: "Res ipsa loquitor." The thing
speaks for itself.
What will the place of unions be in such a world? Where are the
rights of workers?
I say unions and the rights of workers are and must continue to be
at the forefront
of a fight that is not new, but is now as desperate as it ever has
been. There are
millions and millions and millions of Americans who would join a union
tomorrow if given
the chance. We must fight to see that they are given that chance. A man
staring down the
barrel of a gun once said, "Don't mourn. Organize." We are staring down
the barrel of a
gun today, and if we don't organize, we're finished.
I believe, at the end of the day, that America is an idea, a
dream. You can take
away our cities, our roads, our crops, our armies, you can take all of
that away, and
the idea that is America will still be there, as pure and great as
anything conceived by
the human mind. I believe the idea that is America stands as the last,
best hope for
this world. When used properly, it can work wonders.
I believe that the idea, the dream, that is America was made
possible by the men
and women who lived and worked and died for the right of workers to
for themselves. The idea that is America would not exist without
unions, period. We must
make people understand that. A great, great many Americans are well
aware that the folks
running things today do not have their interests in mind, but instead
interests of entities that would see workers' rights ground to powder.
That awareness is out there. We must make them aware that unions
offer them the
best possible chance to bring change, to turn back this tide, to bring
us more fully
towards the realization of that idea that is America. In your hands is
the power to do
these things. In your hands is the future of this great nation.
The word 'Union' is synonymous with the word 'Work.' I say let us
begin this work,
let us begin it today, let us not stop, let us not tire. I say let us
William Rivers Pitt is the Managing Editor of truthout.org. He is
a New York Times
and international best-selling author of three books - "War On Iraq,"
Context Books, "The Greatest Sedition is Silence," available from Pluto
Press, and "Our
Flag, Too: The Paradox of Patriotism," available in August from Context
The Truth about Truthout.org
by Doug Schmitz
29 August 2003
Introducing Truthout.org, an anti-Bush landfill that masquerades as a bastion of news credibility.
When President Bush stepped onto the presidential landscape in 2000, the Left had only just started to show their true colors especially those on the extreme left-wing of the media, who prove daily to be further aiding and abetting our foreign enemies. Undeniably, Bush seems to have brought out the voracious fury of the Left in ways no other president has done since Ronald Reagan won the Cold War.
Although leftist propaganda portals such as CNN, MSNBC, NPR, the New York Times, the Washington Post, and the San Francisco Chronicle, to mention a few, have done their part to advance the Lefts agenda, ultra-leftist extremists have already infiltrated the new media of cyberspace spewing out their caustic venom at the current administration.
One of the Web sites that has morphed itself into a veritable Trojan horse arm of the extreme leftist media is Truthout.org an anti-Bush cyber landfill that masquerades as a bastion of news credibility. Not only does Truthout.org post exclusively pro-Democrat, Bush-hating articles and editorials they also boycott the views and opinions of both conservative Republicans and Libertarians.
While claiming to represent America and purportedly seeking to get the truth out, Truthout.org conceals who they really are: A cornucopia of anti-American, anti-Semitic, pro-Palestine sedition. Its primary purpose: dumping extreme, Far Left rhetoric into its own little private black hole on the Internet to anyone and everyone desperate enough to read its acerbic pontifications.
In fact, as an analysis, a quick glance at the articles posted on Truthout.org reveals its ultimate goal: to politically destroy the moral and ethical character of President Bush, while spitting on not only the graves of our brave soldiers, but also on American patriotism. Its anti-U.S., anti-war message speaks volumes about the treasonous corruption of the Far Left, who seems to care more about protecting our enemies than protecting our borders.
Truthout.orgs associate editor, William Rivers Pitt, whose Web site seems to post only articles and editorials with a Far Left anti-Semitic and pro-Palestinian bent, has authored such leftist tomes as Our Flag, Too: The Paradox of Patriotism and War on Iraq: What Team Bush Doesnt Want You To Know. The latter was written from an interview with Scott Ritter, a former Clinton Administration weapons inspector.
In the book, Pitt and Ritter try to make the case that the U.S. and the rest of the world would have been better off if Saddam Hussein were still in power. These two Fifth columnists theorize that Saddam never actually posed a real threat to our national security at all especially since he supposedly destroyed all of his WMDs. (This is yet another trait of the Far Left: trusting a lying, murderous despot more than our president.)
Moreover, Truthout.orgs home page reads like a Democratic Party billboard again, offering no point-counterpoint analysis; no balanced news articles; no proper substantiation for the outrageous claims these embittered Democrats have leveled against Bush and other prominent Republicans; and no honest or open discussions for Republicans or Libertarians who wish to debate them.
In fact, a brief scan of Truthout.org on Aug. 11 alone yielded the following articles and editorials, expressing unconscionable angst toward Bush and our U.S. troops (who daily risk their lives to protect the freedom of speech that Truthout.org refuses to afford others):
Soldiers Emails-Bring Us Home
Family Shot Dead by Panicking US Troops
Basra Protests Continue for Second Day
Terror Group Seen as Back Inside Iraq
Powells Battle Cry Fails Test of Time
Depiction of Threat Outgrew Supporting Evidence
Pentagon Office Home to Neo-Con Network
Protest Groups Planning for Republican Convention
The Niger Time Bomb
Tongue-tied Arnie Takes Hits From Left and Right.