Recently I had a young (23 year old) commentator on social media bust into a discussion I was having on FaceBook (yes, before I swore off social media engagements - you can't win them). Seems this young guy (known to be an "Alt-conservative" Trump supporter) took exception to something I posted (which was intended to be "tongue in cheek"). His response? "For an intelligent person you're very condescending and childish" and "You step out of your classroom or your nice house much? Gentleman and scholars hardly understand the real world like us poor folks." Why do I mention this here? Because it's Labor Day, of course!
Seems this young man is enjoying his "empowerment" on social media. Like millions of others, he opines about things he knows nothing about, but hey, why should that cause him any concern? Credibility no longer seems to be a quality personal trait! Fact doesn't matter on social media - "feelings" do instead, and actual information is shunned for the entertainment value and independence it gives "know it alls" to opine, regardless of their considerable lack of knowledge. And if you dare to correct them? You're "condescending!" "Childish?" I've never been accused of being that! I won't bore you with the details, but no, I did not grow up "rich." I grew up "poor" and like many other Americans, I lifted myself out of poverty. Unfortunately, it seems that reality appears foreign to many of today's young. And that is unfortunate! It seems many have been poisoned by rhetoric that someone is keeping them down - and in this young man's view, it's "Liberals and government's" fault. Seriously?
Just two weeks ago a meme was floating around the Internet claiming the 8 hour work day and all benefits workers have today was not due to the struggles of organized labor but because of Henry Ford instead. For those that know the role unions had in this nation, that one is more a "slap in the face" to organized labor. Someone needs to review the Homestead, Pullman Strikes and Coal Mine strikes (to name just a few of the many). Besides, Ford supported Father Coughlin's Anti-Immigrant, Anti-Jewish, Anti-Labor proselytizing and Hitler. So much for real history!
Anything to make it appear the fruits of labor did not flow through unions. Too bad those of us that know actual American history can rebuke such notions but realize that not too long into the future actual history will fade into rhetoric. Just see what guys like the "above" (yes he was a promoter of this piece of revisionist history) push new erroneous versions vis social media? So, please thank Unions for the benefits we take today for granted. Unfortunately, many have successfully sold the narrative that vilifies all unions as culprits behind wages being too high and pensions being too unaffordable. Which are fallacies as well. Come on Rubin, stop proselytizing for the Left! But, truth be told - not revised!
Recent research confirms my suspicions. Despite some right wing advocates claiming our economy is lagging because actual unemployment is higher than what is reported (4.9%- see: data.bls.gov/timeseries/LNS14000000), the real impact on our economy is not unemployment or underemployment. According to a recent report from researchers at Florida International University - 65% of full-time workers in the State of Florida earn less than $39,099.00 per year! The average overall? $28,236.00. You read that right! What's worse? Their findings that many of them "face limited opportunities for economic mobility in their existing professions." (See: www.beaches.tampabay.com/news/business/workinglife/report-more-than-half-of-floridians-making-less-than-28236/2291738).
So, is it the unions' collective fault for seeking higher wages that hurt our economy or business owners that keep wages so low that many are forced to live in poverty and seek public or charitable assistance? How are these facts lost on Americans when politicians push off remedies by claiming "Organized Labor" is at fault? Last I checked, over 88.9% of Americans do not belong to a union. So what gives? More rhetoric and more narratives pushed on social media - all without any actual basis in fact! (See: www.bls.gov/news.release/union2.nr0.htm).
Speaking of Unions, did you see where the Santa Clara Police Union threatened the Forty-Niners not to provide security to the team if QB Colin Kaepernick is not punished for refusing to stand for the National Anthem while protesting recent police actions? (See: www.nbcbayarea.com/news/local/Santa-Clara-Police-Officers-Association-May-Boycott-Working-49ers-Games-392214541.html). One small problem though. The police have sworn to uphold the law and despite how distasteful it may appear, this guy is simply expressing political speech protected by the First Amendment. You may not like it, but he has just as much right to express himself as do the millions that have expressed demands to have him jailed or fired, or whatever.
Even I have taken a stand against a moment of silence in my classroom on September 11 as "political free speech!" You see, in school each year we were told on that day to have a moment of silence. So why did I refuse to stand? 1). I have a First Amendment right not to; and wait for it.....b). Because our school routinely ignores the very same "moment of silence" on December 7! Each year I ask my students whether their children will have forgotten 9/11. "Of Course Not!" is their collective response. But the "day that will live in infamy" has already been forgotten! Hence my political action of not standing on 9/11. How soon history is forgotten! When 12/7 is remembered, I'll stand on 9/11! Does that make me "UnAmerican?" To some, perhaps. And soon, the history behind Labor Day will all be lost - all thanks to gullible young men and women opining on social media, clueless they have fallen prey to the manipulative and conniving - honestly believing that anyone who disagrees with them are the real source of problems in America.
As President Theodore Roosevelt once wrote; "A typical vice of American politics is the avoidance of saying anything real on real issues." At least there was a time when Americans could tell the difference from fact or fiction. We can only hope this Labor Day, folks begin to appreciate the difference. Have a great Labor Day and week!