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Labor Day 2010: The last hurrah?
by Andrew Barbano
Sep 04, 2010 | 1281 views | 0 0 comments | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The warnings have been out there for decades but no one listened. Only murder, mayhem, rape, death and destruction seem to motivate Americans, then we demand an instant solution just like a TV movie. As New York columnist Jimmy Breslin once opined, “media is the plural of mediocre.”

Don’t blame me. I’ve been raising the storm flags for four decades. On Labor Day weekend 1994 I printed “People vs. Corporate Con-Job,” which detailed big money’s century-long campaign to degrade and intimidate workers. It’s been available online since then and will be linked to the Web edition of this column at So will other references to items below.

In 2005, I compiled various warnings of impending economic collapse and printed “The Enemy Within,” also available online.

A minority of heavy hitters with much wider reach and credibility than me warned that payback time was coming. The herd of dumb cows decided to continue to be milked, butchered, skinned and sold.

Then came last year, the dawn of that hopey-changey think so aspishly derided by Sarah Palin. Alas and alack, the president failed to seize the moment. He was warned by the venerable Harper’s Magazine, among many others.

“Labor’s Last Stand — The corporate campaign to kill the Employee Free Choice Act.” So was dubbed a cover story in Harper’s July 2009 edition. It was secondary to “Barack Hoover Obama — The best and the brightest blow it again.” The cover illustration showed Obama as the tragic Hoover, complete with rounded collar and fat tie.

“The question is not what can be done, but what must be done,” writer Kevin Baker noted in the latter.

He accurately predicted that President Obama’s desire reach across the isle to toxic Republicans would prove fatal.

In 1991, my column psychoanalyzing future U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas was picked up by the Los Angeles and San Francisco Daily Legal Journals. It correctly forecasted his behavior on the bench.

I updated that analysis with a look at President Obama on Dec. 20 of last year. I noted that Obama and Thomas share a critical character trait: the desire to please everyone. In Thomas’ case, sucking up to power put him on the court. In Obama’s case, he reached across the aisle looking for peace in the family and got back a bloody stump.

“The common thread running through all of Obama’s major proposals is that they are labyrinthine solutions designed mainly to avoid conflict,” Baker wrote.

Baker predicted that, like Hoover, Obama will fail to overcome the prevailing economic thinking of the time and thus fail as a president. Baker pointed out that Hoover tried many of the programs that his successor, Franklin D. Roosevelt, eventually put into practice, but “keep the government off the back of business” doomed him to failure. Hoover even signed a tax increase into law to balance the budget.

“Just as Hoover could not, in the end, break away from the best economic advice of the 1920s, Obama is sticking with the ‘key men’ of the 1990s,” Baker wrote. “Just like another very good man, Barack Obama is moving prudently, carefully, reasonably toward disaster,” he concluded.

Organized labor will not get its key legislation anytime soon. There is no economic quick fix available before November. The critics were right that the 2009 economic stimulus package was about one-third too small. Sunburned Rep. John Boehner, R-Ohio, is now poised to become Speaker of the House in January. Which means government will do nothing but harm for the foreseeable future.

As I state in former Tribunite Dennis Myers’ current Reno News & Review story about the proposed reimposition of the Nevada sales on food, the Democrats aren’t even organized enough to protest a sales tax increase that will mostly damage their blue collar base.

Organized labor will mostly support Democrats this November because the working class has nowhere else to go. Afterward, the potential of four major parties really looms. In the past, grassroots movements have always been taken over by one of the majors, essentially giving us a four-party system under two brands. Perhaps no more.

The Tea Party nutsos are not enamored with the Rove Republican religious right. Labor, still  the bedrock of the Dems after decades of infidelity, will be worth about 25 percent of the vote, as always. A new Labor Party has been trial-ballooned bygone years and allowed to deflate. It will come back with a Donkeyite drubbing this fall.

We can’t say we weren’t warned.

Other than all of the above, Happy Labor Day.  Go organize some people!

Wave at the man

Spanish Springs resident and longtime (62 years) United Auto Workers organizer George “Battling” Nelson will serve as grand marshall of the traditional Nevada Labor Day parade in Virginia City on Monday. The boxing aficionado and community activist richly deserves the honor. My advertising guru friend Jim Webster, who will be doing double duty at Hugh Roy Marshall’s SilverLand Hotel, promises to deliver my greetings and congratulations to the marshall hisself. Look for George among classic cars and motorcycles and, of course, union banners.

Be well. Raise hell.

Andrew Barbano is a 41-year Nevadan and editor of E-mail Barbwire by Barbano has originated in the Tribune since 1988.
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