War between Tea Party and Unions

By Dee Kowallis

Posted on the doors and bulletin boards in Union Halls throughout the state and possibly throughout the country are signs that say, “Respect our Rights.”

Tea Party advocates may also endorse the same sign, only with one additional word, “Respect our Constitutional Rights.”

So why is there such a big divide between unions and Tea Party activists?

Listening to the verbal ideological clash between unions and Tea Party activists like Glenn Beck can launch anyone into a fury of frustration about the other, depending on which point of view you listen to.

Some say the desire for labor unions should be growing ever stronger as Corporate America and the wealthy elite crush the middle class through monopolies and cartels in the oil, food and pharmaceutical industries. Unions contend we need more government regulation and oversight to prevent these out of control entities. On the other hand, Tea Party activists contend it is the governmental regulations that stifle the economy and enslave us all. Two opposite conflicting solutions that vouch to aid the average working middle class American and curtail the ever widening gap between the “haves” and “have nots.” So which ideology provides the best solution? More government or less government?

I can understand the rationale unions make to increase regulation and oversight. Greedy corporations and big business elites demand to do business unchecked and unregulated with a free-for-all approach to capitalize and eventually monopolize a market to improve their bottom line. The goal seems to be to increase shareholder wealth at any cost, including: environmental ruin, job loss to outsourcing, deceitful reports, cunning media propaganda, unethical and dishonest behavior, abuse of employees or anything that can be legally allowed, but otherwise morally or ethically reprehensible. Unions want to curb such practices by instituting more laws and more regulation over such unprincipled conduct.

Conversely, I am partial to the rationale of limiting government from controlling every aspect of our lives (socialism), as voiced by the Tea Party movement. Our government now seems to possess the ability to charge, jail, take over, or raid just about anyone’s business, for just about any violation imaginable. I fully support the idea of complete honesty in dealing with others, including the IRS. However, just this one government agency is so complex and over extended that even tax attorneys cannot always agree on the interpretation of our tax code, thus putting everyone at risk of violation no matter how honest they are. Many would be shocked to discover that Uncle Sam has the ability to charge someone for tax evasion for just trading favors with friends and neighbors. IRS Publication 1220 part A Section 1 (7) form 1099-B. For example, if I ask my neighbor to cut my lawn in exchange for fixing his lawnmower, or I tend someone’s pets in exchange for them painting my fence, I would need to report to Uncle Sam the fair market value of such transactions otherwise risk jail time for tax evasion. It’s just crazy!

I am concerned, as everyone should be, that as the government takes more control we lose our constitutional rights. Once we give up a certain freedom, it is difficult, if not impossible to get that freedom back. On the other hand, what would it really be like without legislative or regulative policy preventing toxic chemicals or hazardous waste being dumped into our air and water? Would America really be better off if there were no minimum wage laws, OSHA, FDA, SEC or thousands of other regulatory agencies? How comfortable would we feel about riding on an unregulated low cost airline that is known for cutting costs in safety maintenance operations? Tea Party activist might say the free market would prevent this type of business from continuing because people would choose not to use an airline that crashes their planes. Pro-regulation proponents (unions) may say, “tongue-in-cheek”, it’s true, those riding the plane that crashed won’t be riding with that airline again.

The ideological war between Tea Party activists and union activists can go on indefinitely. Can anyone provide a third option? Maybe we should be asking the more compelling and deeper questions like, can we be assured that those providing oversight don’t become facilitators of the vary actions in which they were established to prevent? Would giving more power and control to our government ensure that their behavior would be more ethically responsible than those to whom they are regulating? Is it even possible to create enough laws to prevent every form of dishonest, unethical, irresponsible and selfish behavior dealing with business practices, discrimination, abuse of the less fortunate, or the environment?

Maybe the most compelling and ultimate question we should be asking is: Does the general moral fabric of society in America have anything to do with this dilemma?

In other words, do we do the right things because it is the right thing to do, or are our decisions based on our chances of getting caught violating some law?

Dee Kowallis of Chubbuck is the author of “Going Inside a Labor Union.” He

can be reached through his web page under contact us at

www.unionexperiment.com.