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October 19, 2013

A Conscious Slumber: My Take On What Ails Us [Niedermeyer's Dead Horse]

Unlike Ace, who is a furry, entertaining, and gifted writer, I lack the patience to put together a thoughtful, well-researched, and coherent post. Thus, what follows is what one might call a 'stream of consciousness' post. It is simply a collection of my thoughts as spilled forth upon awakening on Wednesday, October 16th.

I awoke this particular morning with the Cartoon Network blasting away as I had fallen asleep with the t.v. on full blast. I reached for the remote to switch the channel to Cspan, then I noted the time and remembered that the House and Senate were not yet in session.

Yes. I take note each night, as I have for several weeks now, the time at which Congress will take to the floor the following morning. Let's move on....

Eventually, I settled upon Fox News but found that my head was spinning and I couldn't really pay attention to what was on t.v.

China? Really? CHINA?! The U.S. of A. is in debt to China. The most prosperous, freedom-loving, self-reliance-driven country in the world is now in debt to China. Americans are not indebted to another country... NO! That's just not the way it works. America is the country to which OTHER nations are indebted. We are the nation who bails out the sickly Democracies around the world. WE are the ones who establish leverage through the indebtedness of others. How the hell did this happen?

Socialism! That's it! It's creeping into our lives in such small measure that it is upon us before we take notice. It's insidious in nature. Socialism feels good. It sounds like such a good idea until you find yourself up to your neck in brown-shirts, as we did just recently with the takeover of national parks by the Obama-directed NPS police.

Just doing their jobs! That is the defense bandied about by the left and the right. Yes. But what IS their job? When did the commitment to 'protect and serve' become so flimsy so as to collapse under a simple command to attack? Innocents, both foreign and domestic, were held captive, at gun point, for the simple crime of daring to visit a national park. We on the right have expressed our outrage over the incident but, other than bitching and moaning, what have we, can we, do to enact consequences to those actions?

A simple order was all it took to turn armed citizen against unarmed citizen. And people say it can't happen here...

Hollywood! Education! Media!

My head was spinning. With my eyes still barely able to focus but my mind racing like a cocaine-fueled NASCAR driver, I search for answers. How did we get here?

There's plenty of blame to go around. The creation of the welfare state, the dumbing-down of the population, the hedonistic tendencies created by prosperity, the lack of personal responsibility, the loss of self-reliance, etc... but, is there an identifiable evil common to all or most of what ails us? Is there an actual or even symbolic entity at which we can point our finger and call out "Hey you!"?


Unions purport to watch out for the little guy. They presume to alter the landscape of capitalism for the benefit of the relatively few individuals who pay them protection money. They stifle initiative in the workplace, punishing those who might dare to go the extra mile. Unions hold in contempt the very businesses which give them sustenance.

I grew up in a household where one did what they had to do to survive. My grandfather, being disabled, picked up bottles and cans on the side of the road to supplement his income. He went to the local dump and pulled out bikes, appliances, and the like, repaired and repainted them, then sold them for a profit. I learned early on that I wasn't too good for hard work and, when I wanted to be a cheerleader, my mother made me collect bottles to pay for the registration fee.

So, when I entered the workforce as a dishwasher at the age of 15, I was willing to do whatever the job required. If my boss asked me to grab a broom, I grabbed a broom. If he asked me to grab the fries out of the fryer, I did. And, if I saw that the floor needed to be mopped, I didn't wait for someone to tell me it had to be done. I just did it. It didn't matter if it fell strictly under my job title, if a task needed to be done, I was happy to do it.

Then, at the age of 21 I finally got my first real job with one of the most successful companies to ever exist in this country or any other. I was a non-union part-time clerk at UPS and worked in the 'Feeder Dispatch' department. I still remember that first night. I was excited, eager to do whatever work needed to be done. And, I still remember being escorted around "the belt"as part of my orientation.

Don't touch the packages!

I was told to never touch the packages. "Oh, I don't mind." They countered, "Don't EVER touch the packages!" I was startled. What had I done wrong? The fellow escorting me must have seen the confusion and concern written across my face because he clarified, "Package handling is a union job". I would come to know over my 20+ year career in the transportation industry just what "it's a union job" had meant.

It meant that when my friend, a non-union belt supervisor moved a package on the belt to keep it from falling off, he was reported to the union steward and was warned about his actions by his supervisor.

I saw what it meant when my roommate, also a non-union belt supervisor, found a package laying on the ground, outside the building, and gently tossed it back into the building. For that action he was written up by management and had to pay everyone on his belt an extra 30-minutes for the crime of taking work out of the hands of a union package handler.

Years later, while employed at Class I railroad, I was spending time at a ramp and, whilst walking the tracks with the Ramp Manager, he spotted a switch out of alignment. I asked him how to switch it and he said we couldn't. "It's a union job". Instead, a call was put out on the radio to have someone go out and adjust the switch. Meanwhile, the track was unusable.

Unions claim to represent the people as a whole to make the entirety of the work experience safer and more profitable for the workforce. But, in reality it's more like a collection of individuals who, for the most part, appear concerned only about what happens to the other guy to the extent that it impacts them personally.

I know, I know. Such is not the case with every union member, so spare me the "I'm the exception argument". I KNOW there are exceptions, but I am talking about the rule as I know it.

Unions... and keep in mind that this is my stream of consciousness talking here... equate to legalized extortion. They have the heads of the family, the collectors, the enforcers, and millions upon millions of their "nephews" employed throughout the world. Those nephews bring every perceived infraction to the attention of those who would extract payment in exchange for simply allowing a company to continue to exist.

My friend once worked for the now defunct Consolidate Freightways. She, a union clerk, made significantly more money on a per-hour basis than I for performing essentially the same work. Yet, every time the union contract came up for renewal, there was the inevitable drama of whether they would strike and, at times, they did. I once visited her on the picket line and asked her why she was picketing. "Because the company wants to hire part-time workers without benefits". I asked her how it would impact her job to which she replied that it wouldn't. I countered, "And if those new hires accept the terms of their employment, what does it matter to you?" She could never come up with a good answer. Neither could she answer the question as to why, if the Teamsters were so darned good at their job, that every single contract negotiation held the legitimate threat of a strike.

Consolidated Freightways, after years of paring off the union jobs into separate non-union divisions in an attempt to stay afloat, filed bankruptcy in 2002 and never recovered. A portion of the company which was separated out survived to become Con-Way. It too, has faced pressures to unionize but, I believe they remain union-free at this time.

Not all unions have the history of corruption and strong-arm tactics as the teamsters. Some, as I understand it, such as the union representing rural postal carriers, is rather benign by comparison but... They all seek to elevate the cause of the worker over that of the businesses which employ them. Profit is evil, unless it is in the hands of the union bosses themselves. They are in it for themselves, and the concept "brotherhood" and all the warm fuzzies that implies are just jargon to make their members feel good about being part of a cause greater than themselves. (See: Socialism, Environmentalism)

These are the organizations now running the culture machine and, worst, our education system.

I do not propose to rollback advancements in employee safety. I do not want to return to the days of child-labor mills. But, if the Teamsters suddenly closed up shop tomorrow, I wouldn't lose a moment of sleep over it.

Unions are a parasite which consume the host organism. As such, their ranks have shrunken considerably over the years. Today, the total percentage of union workers in the U.S. is under 12% with only around 7% of private industry being unionized. But, make no mistake, if the Democrats have their way, this trend will be reversed in dramatic fashion. Don't think that just because it isn't on the front burner that Card-Check has been forgotten.

The fright of that last thought jolted me from my the comfort of my slumber: "This is gonna be bad." But, then I was awake, and Krystal Sunrisers called my name.

I'll fight the good fight later. Someone else will take on the brown-shirts and the jackbooted thugs. It will all work out in the end...right?

These are the things I think about before I ever rise from bed in the morning. I thought I might write them down and see if they make any sense in the light of day. You folks, my beloved morons and moronettes, may think differently, and I welcome the debate.

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posted by Open Blogger at 06:44 PM

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