The Turn of a Phrase

Ever contemplate the ‘turn of a phrase’?  What does a word or a phrase REALLY mean?

In the Southern lingo, “Bless Your Heart” doesn’t mean that a person is being loving and compassionate in many situations.  What it actually means is, “You really ARE stupid, aren’t you?”  But you knew that, didn’t you?

In recent years, words and phrases have been hijacked from everyday language and put to political use.  Often the phrases or words mean precisely the OPPOSITE of what they state.  These phrases are used to convince voters to vote a certain way, and usually against the voters’ very own personal/financial interests.  Such words and phrases don’t impact individuals the way that they should because they are used and designed to manipulate the emotions–at a subconscious level.  

In the past, a word or a phrase–or a song–has been the rallying cry for various causes.  What does “We Shall Overcome” bring to mind or how about “No Taxation without Representation”?  Both were rallying cries of the oppressed (of course, “We Shall Overcome” is also a song–one which everyone has heard and now knows).  These phrases worked to rally the better angels of our American soul–at least for a while!  The price of liberty truly IS vigilance!  And maybe some new phrases from time-to-time.

The phrase which is currently angering me is “RIGHT TO WORK”.  Specifically, Illinois teachers are now in the fight of their collective lives to keep their teachers’ union.  Many issues revolve around education these days–suffice it to say, I (for one) am very unhappy with how we are treating our public ‘servants’ who politicians now think ought to actually BE servants, without rights and with low pay.  This includes teachers (along with police, firefighters and others who are paid with public monies).

Take a look at what happens when unions disappear–when the voice of the workers is silenced!  When ‘right to work’ laws are put into place.  Of course, it’s not ONLY this one law, but it has played a huge part in this inequity.

Back to the (laughable) phrase, ‘right to work.’

Who doesn’t want the right to work?  We all do!  But this phrase doesn’t mean what it says–what it means is NO WORKERS’ RIGHTS.  It is currently being used to promote the idea of eliminating collective bargaining rights of workers.  This has already occurred in many states.  If there are no unions, there is no collective bargaining.  And then the employee has the ‘right’ to accept employment at whatever the business offers in remuneration.  It will be for as little as the business can get by with dependent upon the ‘going wage’ for that particular position.  You have no rights other than to accept the position for what is offered or walk away.  Should a supervisor dislike something about the employee, an employee can be fired regardless of the reason–and sometimes it’s beyond the employee’s control.  That’s your ‘right to work.’  The business has the right to hire and fire at will–THEIR will.

The businesses have the right to hire and fire and set pay and benefits (think golf courses and country clubs for such agreements) and they do.  They ‘collectively bargain’ with one another–because they MAKE, CHANGE, AND ENFORCE the laws through lobbying (buying) of politicians when they have this much control.  And they have the stage, too–to buy commercials, to make media write and speak their message.  Individuals can’t compete with such power.

This isn’t news.

Unions were formed for the purpose of furthering workers’ rights*–the right to decent hours, to establish child labor laws, overtime pay, a ‘living’ wage (and increases) dependent upon the productivity of a worker, safety at the workplace, negotiate for health care and other benefits which workers needed and to which they are entitled as part of the profits of their labor.  (Productivity is at its highest level in this country, yet wages are stagnant and have been for over 30 years.  There is no sharing of profits.  See Youtube video below.)  Why should the upper echelon of corporations be the ones getting ALL the ‘perks’ and profits while workers get less and less.**  Where is the justice in that?  Where is the DEMOCRACY in that?  There is a movement afoot today to annihilate  workers’ unions, and I can assure you the fewer unions there are to support workers’ rights, the fewer rights workers have.

Today it is becoming much more difficult for an individual to exert his or her individual ‘rights under the laws that presently exist’ and obtain justice in the workplace.  It is clear that the abuses of corporations have a much greater negative impact on many more people, INCLUDING THE TAXPAYERS (who are for the most part ‘workers’) than any union ever did.

Teachers, specifically, are now required to teach to the test–the mandated testing regime which forces them to cram certain facts down their students’ throats so the students will pass the tests.  If so, they get to keep their jobs.  If not, sometimes the schools themselves are eliminated and so are the teachers.  I’ve seen this first-hand as my grandchildren struggle with 5 or more hours of ‘homework’ each night–in grade school–in order to learn the necessary ‘facts’ for the varying tests.

Do you realize there isn’t even time for children to have ‘recess’ on most days?  Have YOU tried getting up at 5:30 to catch a 6:30 bus and then sitting in classes where facts are thrown at you for 8 hours, and then returning home at 4:30 or 5 to continue to work on homework for 5 more hours–without a break?  Try it.  I guarantee you won’t like it.  The teachers are faced with the same problem–for their work day does not stop when classes are out.  They continue to work until the wee hours of the night, grading papers, lesson planning, emailing parents and students who have questions and need assistance.  In their ‘time off’ most have to take continuing education classes to remain certified to teach.  On their own ‘dime’ so to speak.  For this, they get to keep their jobs–there is little extra remuneration for their efforts and many are barely surviving on their incomes, some must take on a second job.  Where is the LOVE OF LEARNING we Americans mouth as our mantra?  In our collective wisdom (to save money), Americans eliminated most of the enrichment programs and classes from schools….music, art are no longer part of many schools curriculum.  They are extras.  Sometimes they are offered informally after school.  Occasionally they are offered as an actual course, but it is no longer common practice.  Of course, profitable sports activities were fully funded.  Again, American Greed ruled the day.

Schools are now factories with workers charged with turning out students who know facts and can pass tests and follow orders.  All pegs should fit the same holes–little robots.  There is little love of learning and precious little ‘enrichment’ time in classrooms today.  There is a lot of competition, however, to get a job which pays a decent wage or to get into an extremely expensive college (they are all expensive today) so the student can survive (and no doubt pay off a life-long debt if he/she goes to college). We are told that such an ‘educational program’ is necessary to ‘stay competitive.’  I maintain such an educational program is necessary for the profiteers to make the maximum profit (at every single turn!) from workers.   America is beginning to look like a factory from birth ’til death.  Its people are functioning just as the engineers designed the system to operate.  How long will we tolerate this?

Certainly, MANY people have more power than one–and unions provide and have always provided some recourse to unfair management practices.  Teachers need their unions.  So do most workers.  If you think you are the exception because you are middle management (and most people reading this aren’t any higher than middle management), you are wrong.  Your share of profits and income are being squeezed, too–just watch the Youtube video above.  Unless you are a multimillionaire (and I mean many millions, not just a couple), your income is much lower than it would be if we had a real democratic system in place.  And you have no guarantee that the system won’t take what you now have–in tax law changes, in reverse bailouts, in property taxes, in market shenanigans by slick maneuvers, in some manner.  It has happened before!  It may well happen again…..the bankers certainly didn’t suffer with the housing market crash and got off Scott-free.  Or have you forgotten?

Instead of focusing on the problems with union organizations, why don’t politicians focus on the problems with corporations?  You know the answer to that–because the corporations are FUNDING THE POLITICIANS!  And the money from the lower and middle and upper-middle classes is flowing upwards to corporate management–to the wealthy.  They are accumulating most of the wealth and most of the power.

Read some history; read this blog post:

read some current economic statistics; look at how it’s going in this country–and tell me that we don’t need unions!   They are the last bolt holding the gates of fairness and justice in place–and the gates are wobbly, and being stormed by corporations.  Believe me, the corporations don’t have your interests in mind.


Plain and simple.  Now it is time for the 99% to start telling it like it is–and making some slogans of our own.


This post is not intended to be a scholarly report detailing every single argument going on with this issue.  It doesn’t need to be.  Just take a look at the video above.  Unless you are the upper 1/2 of 1%, this is YOUR FIGHT TOO.







2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. tobytrimmer
    Mar 04, 2015 @ 19:02:56

    Nice post. Fired up!


  2. harpethview
    Mar 05, 2015 @ 09:53:21

    Yes, and you lit the fire.


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