“It is assumed that labor is available only in connection with capital; that nobody labors unless somebody else, owning capital, somehow by the use of it induces him to labor. Labor is prior to and independent of capital. Capital is only the fruit of labor, and could never have existed if labor had not existed.”
“In my present position I could scarcely be justified were I to omit raising a warning voice against this approach of returning despotism. It is not needed nor fitting here that a general argument should be made in favor of popular institutions, but there is one point, with its connections, not so hackneyed as most others, to which I ask a brief attention. It is the effort to place capital on an equal footing with, if not above, labor in the structure of government.”
It’s important each Labor Day to resurrect these words of wisdom and warning from proto-RINO Abe Lincoln: Living as we are in an era in which the balance between labor and capital has steadily moved to the point of full domination of capital above labor in the “structure of government,” and in the philosophy and agenda of one of our two major political parties, they are especially relevant and especially resonant.
Listening to Republicans or judging by the actions of Republican elected officials, corporations and capitalists, hedge fund managers and private equity captains just never have enough available cash, and without even lower tax rates can never muster the proper motivation; whereas, teachers and firefighters lead a life of exquisite luxury, and if complaints about their salaries and benefits are any measure are overcompensated and socially overvalued. Hedge fund managers and CEOs of course are doing God’s work, the millions a year they reap in the financial casinos or conjuring rosy scenarios for shareholders testament to the sublimity of their virtue. The yearly toiling of the lowly food service worker is testament only to his or her lack of aspiration or wherewithal: respect for the inherent value of committed labor or responsible toil nowhere to be found among today’s Republican talking points.
The minimum wage is forever too high; taxes on the wealthy never low enough. Capital gains taxes are shockingly punitive, according to this view even at half the rate of those who depend upon a paycheck for their livelihood. On the right, antagonism for the organization of labor and the collective bargaining which a postwar American middle class was built upon has degenerated into pathological and irrational vehemence. Productivity continues its rise, American workers working harder and better expanding our collective GDP, while the rewards of this cooperative effort and reliable growth flow exclusively to those at the very top: an essential unfairness, an odiously grotesque overvaluation of capital defended as sacred principle in the Republican Party now. Republicans slobber and fawn worshipfully over those reverently designated job creators.
No longer is Ayn Rand’s division of society into the small elite group of wealthy producers and the rest: the great, slavish, doltish unwashed laboring class of “moochers” and “parasites,” restricted to the political fringe, it is now the central philosophy of the Republican Party: Rand fanboy Paul Ryan official Vice-presidential nominee. Indeed, according to this perverted value system, only those motivated by acquisition of wealth, or whose narrow ambition is business success deserve the health insurance, the quality education or the family home, while those who devote themselves to education, or to the arts, or to a small business, those who labor for the personal satisfaction or because of the essentialness of their work to the rest of us simply don’t.
On the right at least, the philistines and the dead-eyed materialists have prevailed.