Mar 16, 2009

We Are All Pirates Now

Ahoy, mateys. Welcome aboard the airtight entrepreneurial vessel that is Jim McTague’s version of America. Did you know that you’re probably a buccaneer at heart? And one willing to work for peanuts? Of course you are—you’d prefer it! At least, that’s what he claims in his odd opposition piece to Employee Free Choice:

My guess is that the decline of union membership in the private sector, from about 35% of workers in 1954 to 8% today, according to Epstein's numbers, owes more to a hearty embrace of entrepreneurship than to union-bashing: Most of us are buccaneers at heart. Who wouldn't want to work for relative peanuts and stock options for a visionary like Bill Gates, instead of for a steady paycheck and predictable, small-percentage annual pay increase at the local electric utility?

Yes, who indeed? It’s unclear who McTague is insulting more: working Americans with families, struggling to be responsible providers; entrepreneurs who demand more than just “relative peanuts"; or old-time buccaneers, who were in it for the adventure, sure—but mostly for the treasure and blood.

But after you stop laughing, you kind of have to wonder—is this how the business world really sees workers? As some kind of adventurer just working for the sheer fun of it, with no need for hard currency? Do they think workers who want those “predictable” jobs are lazy or unimaginative?

Or is McTague inadvertantly revealing more than he means to about the kind of workers who have, until recently, been most celebrated in today's corporate America: the ones who acted like pirates and stole the hard-earned savings of honest Americans? Should we all be Bernie Madoffs? But of course, Bernie wasn't exactly adventuring for peanuts, either.

America was build by adventurous spirits, no doubt. But after the adventuring is done, there are mouths to feed and bills to pay. All workers deserve good union jobs, with retirement security, a living wage, and affordable, quality health care. Big business wishes that ship had already sailed—but we’re going to make sure it stays anchored right here by passing the Employee Free Choice Act.

1 comment:

catchlightning said...

we need a new flank in the battle for the EFCA:

A Union of the Unemployed