OF TWISTED WORDS => LANGUAGE TO DIVIDE AND TO CONQUER

President Barack Obama delivers a statement on Ukraine in the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House, March 6, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
President Barack Obama delivering a statement in the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House, March 6, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Unlike the previous posts in this series, here we will consider a technique instead of the abuse of a particular word. Here we will consider how loaded words divide us. We will begin by defining the expression, “loaded words”.  Then we will discuss some examples of how loaded words are being used. Finally, we will consider how some people are dividing us by so corrupting the language that every word we use is becoming loaded.

Defining The Expression

Let’s begin by defining the expression “loaded words”. Here is a straightforward definition from Yahoo! Answers.

What are “Loaded Words”?

Loaded words are words (or phrases) which have strong emotional overtones or connotations and which evoke strongly positive (or negative) reactions beyond their literal meaning.

Examples:
Unloaded Loaded
Plant Weed
Animal Beast

While few words have no evaluative overtones, “plant” is a primarily descriptive term. “Weed”, in contrast, has essentially the same descriptive meaning as “plant”, but a negative evaluative meaning, as well. A weed is a plant of which we disapprove.

The Fallacy Files provides examples of fallacious reasoning.  That includes the post Loaded Words. Here is the crux of it.

Loaded language is a subfallacy of Begging the Question, because to use loaded language fallaciously is to assume an evaluation that has not been proved, thereby failing to fulfill the burden of proof. For this reason, Jeremy Bentham dubbed this fallacy “Question-Begging Epithets”.

In other words, with loaded words we give our judgement of a person, a place, an animal, a vegetable or a thing. If we use a loaded word just to concisely state an opinion (Crabgrass is a weed.), that is an appropriate usage. On the other hand, if we use a loaded word to “win” an argument, that’s not logical. Sometimes it is utterly comical.

Peacock_terms (from here)
Peacock_terms (from here)

Arguments With And Over Words

Politics, sales, and life itself revolves around persuading others to accept our judgement. If we can get the other to accept and to adopt our language — to use the same loaded words we use — logical or not we win the argument. Hence the importance of loaded words.

Here is a clear and unambiguous example, Does it matter if Obama uses the term ‘Islamic terrorism’? The expression “Islamic terrorism” suggests that Islam is part of the problem the problem of terrorism. Hence Donald Trump, who endorses the phrase, wants to stop immigration from Islamic nations, and Barack Obama, who will not concede that Islam is part of the problem, refuses to use the phrase “Islamic terrorism”.

So it is that when we debate issues, we carefully use loaded words. That includes labeling ourselves and each other. In addition, we label our work and the things we produce. Consider.

  • Trying to associate themselves with our nation’s founders, Democrats use to call themselves Liberal. Then, after they had fouled term “Liberal”, they started calling themselves “Progressives”. What’s next? This article, Democratic voters increasingly embrace the ‘liberal’ label – especially whites, Millennials and postgrads, demonstrates how short our memories can be.
  • Some Atheists try to associate themselves with the word “reason”.  Hence some Atheists rallied under the banner of Reason.
  • This one is kind of funny.  RationalWiki.org has a prominent post that defines Loaded language. Given the title of their website, they should know.
  • Here in Loaded Words we have a discussion of how we should label Dylann Storm Roof, the man who walked into a church in Charleston, South Carolina and murdered nine black parishioners.
  • Here in Loaded Words we have a discussion of the problems scientists have naming a new biotechnology or biomedical process.

    The terms that scientists and researchers select to name a new biotechnology or biomedical process can impact the public’s perception of the advance and willingness to consider its potential clinical utility. Terms such as “cloning” or “gene editing” are not ethically neutral. In fact, while the use of these terms may be provocative and increase readership of news stories and even articles in peer-reviewed journals, such value-laden names may directly impact the ethical acceptability of new technologies as well as government policies related to these innovations. (continued here)

Identity Politics

In a free society, we each have the right to do as we wish so long as we do not infringe upon the rights of others. That is, if it is not illegal, you and I can do it. Thus, in a free country we can pursue our own definition of happiness, but we cannot force others either to participate in or to condone our actions. In fact, others have the right to disapprove of our behavior. Therefore, if we defy social conventions or customs, those who disapprove can subject us to various forms of censure including ostracism and shaming. Generally, the people of a healthy community discourage antisocial behavior primarily by enforcing local customs. Because it is costly and inflexible, legal action is usually the last resort.

Unfortunately, communities sometimes abuse their social powers. Therefore, the Federal Government has stepped in to “fix things”. So our once relatively healthy society is suffering an epidemic of identity politics. That is, instead of treating all people equally before the law, government leaders now think it is their job to provide  “special” constituencies “special” protection.  How does that involve loaded words?

  • We regularly hear our leaders using a slew of loaded words we associate with identity politics: discrimination, bigotry, profiling, hate crime, favoritism, civil rights, affirmative action, equal treatment, harassment, and so forth.
  • We regularly hear our leaders glorify identity politics with loaded words: diversity, multiculturalism, tolerance, rainbow, social justice, healing, and so forth.
  • Nobody wants to be seen as intolerant.
  • Everyone, especially businesses, are afraid of being sued.
  • We make a Federal case out of everything.
  • We have way too many lawyers and numerous other people using identity politics as their cash cow.
  • We cannot think objectively, especially when our identity is involved.

So it is that in the name of diversity, we do some strange things. Here is a personal example. Years ago I wrote Reviling Christian Fundamentalism. What that post explains is how and why I discriminated against Christians.  Thanks to indoctrination with the load words “Jesus freak”, I had bigoted opinion of Christians Fundamentalists.

Here is something more recent (what inspired this post). This past week I watched an exchange between two female bloggers. First LeeLee wrote Of Course Women Are Objects, and insanitybytes22 responded with “Women as Objects?” Trying to explain herself,  then wrote Aftercare. In comments on each others blogs, and debated fiercely, but — why?

Neither nor argued women should be treated as sex objects. Instead, they argued over whether people are objects. Since resolving their dispute is not germane to this post, I have no interest in taking sides. What I want my readers to observe is that the loaded words “sex object” are so powerful that these loaded words prevented the ladies from participating in a worthwhile discussion.

Some call our era the Information Age, but Propaganda Age seems more accurate. Thanks to a proliferation of twisted words, we have more and more trouble understanding each other.

Relief For The Disconnected: Conclusion

What do loaded words like “Jesus freak” and “sex object” do? Either they push us apart, or they express just how disconnected we are.

Dictionary.com defines people as objects. Even my 1956 edition of Funk & Wagnalls’ New Practical Standard Dictionary of the English Language suggests human beings are objects. Yet as objects we each stand alone. As objects we see only from our own point of view. As objects we know only of our own needs.

In this Propaganda Age, words storm and rage. Words toss us about. We drift apart and collide violently. Our flesh is too weak; it has no power to resist.

John 6:63 New King James Version (NKJV)

63 It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life.

The Bible, the Word of God, speaks to our spirit, the spirit within our flesh. Thus, the Bible anchors us. When storms of words disquiet our souls, we need to turn to our Lord and His Word.

——————–

For more posts in this series please see OF TWISTED WORDS => FEMINISM.

WHEN DOES FANTASY BECOME INSANITY? — PART 4

cross2

A Call To Make Use Of Our Fading Opportunities

What is special about day we were born? Isn’t that the day we can begin to learn about God? It is then we can also refuse to learn, and with the passing of each day we have one less opportunity to accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior.

Our Two Natures

What is the most important thing we must learn about God? Don’t we need to learn humility, our need for God?

How does God teach us humility? The Apostle Paul learned humility when he realized his enslavement to sin.

Romans 7:14-25 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

The Conflict of Two Natures

14 For we know that the Law is spiritual, but I am of flesh, sold into bondage to sin. 15 For what I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate. 16 But if I do the very thing I do not want to do, I agree with the Law, confessing that the Law is good. 17 So now, no longer am I the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me. 18 For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not. 19 For the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want.20 But if I am doing the very thing I do not want, I am no longer the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me.

21 I find then the principle that evil is present in me, the one who wants to do good. 22 For I joyfully concur with the law of God in the inner man, 23 but I see a different law in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin which is in my members. 24 Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death?25 Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, on the one hand I myself with my mind am serving the law of God, but on the other, with my flesh the law of sin.

When the Apostle Paul, once supposing himself the consummate Pharisee, came to realize he could not on his own obey the Law, he turned to Jesus Christ. To be freed from sin, each of us must make the same choice, but we fantasize. We say to ourselves: “I am a good person.” How do we arrive at this conclusion? Applying our own standards and using our own judgment, we compare ourselves to others. Of course, we think ourselves better, but that is a meaningless conclusion, an absurd trap. God sets the standard, and He calls us to perfection. To achieve perfection, we must turn to Jesus Christ.

What The Insane Worship

flaming skullIn AN ABUSE OF THE IMAGINATION, we considered what the world worships. Here we ask a question. Why is it insane to worship what the world worships?

  • The god of sex: We fill the airwaves, our literature, and our conversations with thoughts of sex. And what is this sex? Is it the conquest of an attractive body? Is it a brief sensation that comes and then goes? Or is the sex act supposed to draw us a little closer to another human being and help us to produce another? What does the world say?
    • Use another person for your pleasure.
    • Play the field.
    • View other human beings as objects.
    • Rate sex objects by their ability to arouse. Otherwise, don’t care.

Nevertheless, we expect others to care about us. If the world is right, how is that supposed to work?

  • The god of stuff:  We dream of winning the lottery or of being as rich as one of those fabulous billionaires. We imagine having all the stuff we need, but what is enough stuff? Here is what a comedian once observed.

    While money can’t buy happiness, it certainly lets you choose your own form of misery. ― Groucho Marx

    When we value money for its own sake, how do we buy anything of value with our money? If we value money for its own sake, what could worth more to us than the money we already have in our hands?

  • The god of state: Why are we drawn to the idea of a powerful government? Don’t powerful people sell us on the idea? Don’t our leaders make promises to feed us, cloth us, house us, entertain us,…..promise us paradise on earth, but what good are their promises? When we choose our leaders, don’t we choose self-indulgent sinners like ourselves?

    Seven Deadly Sins

    Wealth Without Work
    Pleasure Without Conscience
    Knowledge Without Character
    Commerce (Business) Without Morality (Ethics)
    Science Without Humanity
    Religion Without Sacrifice
    Politics Without Principle
    Mahatma Gandhi

    When we are self-indulgent, don’t we choose self-indulgent leaders, people like us? How can such leaders acquire wisdom? Have they ever striven for wisdom, or don’t they rely upon their conceits? Can the self-indulgent ever lead the self-indulgent anywhere except into chaos? Isn’t increasing chaos what we are seeing today?

  • The god of self: When we say “I am a good person,” are we not saying we are important? To believe we are important, don’t we have to be blind? Does our world revolve around us?

    The Sun is the star at the center of the Solar System. It is almost perfectly spherical and consists of hot plasma interwoven with magnetic fields. It has a diameter of about 1,392,684 km (865,374 mi), around 109 times that of Earth, and its mass (1.989×1030 kilograms, approximately 330,000 times the mass of Earth) accounts for about 99.86% of the total mass of the Solar System. (continued here)

    Do we have any significance on our own? How many stars has God created? Does anyone know, but doesn’t that little one near us light and warm our tiny planet? And when our little world grows cold or hot, why would we choose to believe we have more to do with it than the Sun?

Our Need For A Savior

Even after Jesus appointed him to preach His Word, Paul struggled with sin. Slowly, Paul began to understand his need, and, fortunately, Jesus does not expect us to suddenly become perfect.

1 John 2:1-6 English Standard Version (ESV)

Christ Our Advocate

My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin,we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world. And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments. Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him: whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.

If we have any importance, that importance comes from God.  He loves us.

If we want freedom from sin, we must stop lying to ourselves. We must accept the love of our Creator. We must seek Jesus Christ. We must keep His Word, and we must walk in the same way in which He walked.

Previous Posts In This Series

AN EXAMPLE OF BIGOTRY — PART 8

200px-UncleTomsCabinCover

What Exactly Makes Someone a Bigot?

Here is the final post on the Lincoln–Douglas Debates of 1858. In this post we will consider what leads to bigotry.

What leads to bigotry? I think it has to do with an absence of words, an unwillingness to listen to the right words. Although we say the pen is mightier than the sword, we give the power of words too little thought. Yet we fill our minds — feed our souls — with words. Good words — God’s Word — renew our minds and cleanse our hearts. Words that speak the Truth save our souls. When we choose to listen to filth — believe lies — we damn ourselves to Hell. Thus, in the Garden of Eden the fall of man began with a conversation.

Because we often have so little desire to know it, we run from the truth. In a process Satan taught our forebears in the Garden of Eden, we can easily elude the truth. First we doubt what we know. Then we deny we ever knew any such thing. Next we deceive ourselves and others. What will harm us now becomes good, and what is good for us now becomes bad. Finally, in the pride of willful ignorance, justified with lying words, we sin (see DOUBT, DENIAL, DECEPTION, AND DISOBEDIANCE).

Uncle Tom

Want a modern example of our belief in a lie? Consider the most popular definition of “Uncle Tom”. Here is the first definition in the list at the Urban Dictionary.

Uncle Tom
A black man who will do anything to stay in good standing with “the white man” including betray his own people

The fourth definition in the list, however, reminds us of man’s propensity to doubt, deny, deceive, and finally sin. When Harriet Beecher Stowe wrote Uncle Tom’s Cabin, she did not portray Uncle Tom as a boot-licking coward. Instead, she made the notion of a brave and honorable black man believable to her audience. Her Tom lived as a sincere Christian. Her Tom died before he would reveal the whereabouts of escaped slaves to an evil man. Consider this excerpt.

“Well, Tom!” said Legree, walking up, and seizing him grimly by the collar of his coat, and speaking through his teeth, in a paroxysm of determined rage, “do you know I’ve made up my mind to KILL YOU?”

“It’s very likely, Mas’r,” said Tom, calmly.

“I have,” said Legree, with a grim, terrible calmness, “done—just—that—thing, Tom, unless you’ll tell me what you know about these yer gals!”

Tom stood silent.

“D’ye hear?” said Legree, stamping, with a roar like that of an incensed lion. “Speak!”

I han’t got nothing to tell, Mas’r,” said Tom, with a slow, firm, deliberate utterance.

“Do you dare to tell me, ye old black Christian, ye don’t know?” said Legree.

Tom was silent.

“Speak!” thundered Legree, striking him furiously. “Do you know anything?”

“I know, Mas’r; but I can’t tell anything. I can die!

Legree drew in a long breath; and, suppressing his rage, took Tom by the arm, and, approaching his face almost to his, said, in a terrible voice, “Hark ‘e, Tom!—ye think, ’cause I’ve let you off before, I don’t mean what I say; but, this time, I’ve made up my mind, and counted the cost. You’ve always stood it out again’ me: now, I’ll conquer ye, or kill ye!—one or t’ other. I’ll count every drop of blood there is in you, and take ’em, one by one, till ye give up!”

Tom looked up to his master, and answered, “Mas’r, if you was sick, or in trouble, or dying, and I could save ye, I’d give ye my heart’s blood; and, if taking every drop of blood in this poor old body would save your precious soul, I’d give ’em freely, as the Lord gave his for me. O, Mas’r! don’t bring this great sin on your soul! It will hurt you more than ‘t will me! Do the worst you can, my troubles’ll be over soon; but, if ye don’t repent, yours won’t never end!” (from here)

Uncle Tom’s Cabin was a work of fiction. Stowe never pointed to a particular black and said “that’s Tom”. Instead, she said The Life of Josiah Henson, Formerly a Slave, Now an Inhabitant of Canada, as Narrated by Himself inspired her work. One major difference between Henson and Stowe’s Tom is that Tom did not escape slavery. Instead, he died helping others.

With a fictional work Stowe revealed the horror of slavery to millions. She did so by humanizing the Negro in the minds of her readers.

Uncle Tom’s Cabin was the best-selling novel of the 19th century and the second best-selling book of that century, following the Bible. It is credited with helping fuel the abolitionist cause in the 1850s. In the first year after it was published, 300,000 copies of the book were sold in the United States; one million copies were sold in Great Britain. In 1855, three years after it was published, it was called “the most popular novel of our day.” The impact attributed to the book is great, reinforced by a story that when Abraham Lincoln met Stowe at the start of the Civil War, Lincoln declared, “So this is the little lady who started this great war.”(from here)

Did Lincoln give credit to Stowe for starting the Civil War? The veracity of the quote is disputed. Just the same, everyone knows about Uncle Tom’s Cabin. The problem is that too few read it. Because we have never read Uncle Tom’s Cabin, we now believe an “Uncle Tom” is a black man who will do anything to stay in good standing with “the white man”, including betray his own people.

An Excerpt From The Lincoln – Douglas Debates

How did we get so confused about “Uncle Tom”? Why isn’t such a historically important book required reading? Isn’t the answer too obvious? We listen to the wrong people. Instead of resolutely trying to determine the rightness or wrongness of the thing, we believed what we wanted to believe. Hence, we have been led like sheep to the absurd belief that the main character of Uncle Tom’s Cabin was a traitorous weakling.

Freedom requires we face the truth. So it is that in their seventh and last debate, Abraham Lincoln insisted upon talking about a subject his opponent, Senator Stephen Douglas, refused to discuss. Is slavery right or wrong?

On this subject of treating it as a wrong, and limiting its spread, let me say a word. Has any thing ever threatened the existence of this Union save and except this very institution of Slavery? What is it that we hold most dear amongst us? Our own liberty and prosperity. What has ever threatened our liberty and prosperity save and except this institution of Slavery? If this is true, how do you propose to improve the condition of things by enlarging Slavery-by spreading it out and making it bigger? You may have a wen or cancer upon your person and not be able to cut it out lest you bleed to death; but surely it is no way to cure it, to engraft it and spread it over your whole body. That is no proper way of treating what you regard a wrong. You see this peaceful way of dealing with it as a wrong-restricting the spread of it, and not allowing it to go into new countries where it has not already existed. That is the peaceful way, the old-fashioned way, the way in which the fathers themselves set us the example.

On the other hand, I have said there is a sentiment which treats it as not being wrong. That is the Democratic sentiment of this day. I do not mean to say that every man who stands within that range positively asserts that it is right. That class will include all who positively assert that it is right, and all who like Judge Douglas treat it as indifferent and do not say it is either right or wrong. These two classes of men fall within the general class of those who do not look upon it as a wrong. And if there be among you any body who supposes that he, as a Democrat can consider himself “as much opposed to slavery as anybody,” I would like to reason with him. You never treat it as a wrong. What other thing that you consider as a wrong, do you deal with as you deal with that? Perhaps you say it is wrong, but your leader never does, and you quarrel with any body who says it is wrong. Although you pretend to say so yourself you can find no fit place to deal with it as a wrong. You must not say any thing about it in the free States, because it is not here. You must not say any thing about it in the slave States, because it is there. You must not say any thing about it in the pulpit, because that is religion and has nothing to do with it. You must not say any thing about it in politics, because that will disturb the security of “my place.” There is no place to talk about it as being a wrong, although you say yourself it is a wrong.  (from here)

Instead of attacking Douglas, Lincoln pointed to Douglas’ call for willful ignorance. Without even using the word hypocrite, Lincoln made Douglas’ hypocrisy self-evident.

Consider the problem of our own evil. When we sin, don’t we always arrogantly pretend we are doing nothing wrong? So what can we do? You and I cannot stop others from sinning, but we can humbly turn to our Lord and ask for wisdom.

James 1:5 English Standard Version (ESV)

If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.

What issues of right and wrong would some like us to ignore these days?

  • Is aborting the birth of a baby murder?
  • When government redistributes our nation’s wealth, taking from the “rich” and giving it to the “poor”, is that stealing?
  • Is same-sex “marriage” just an effort legitimize a perverse form of fornication?
  • Is affirmative action a reverse form of racism?
  • Does the idea of a “living” Constitution make any sense?
  • Why do we trust politicians, people nobody trusts, with the education of our children?
  • Is the entertainment produced by Hollywood an appropriate substitute for spending time with our children?

Don’t we want our children to deal sanely with issues of right and wrong? Then how does it make any sense to hand over their education to politicians and Hollywood?

Proverbs 11:2-3 English Standard Version (ESV)

When pride comes, then comes disgrace,
    but with the humble is wisdom.
The integrity of the upright guides them,
    but the crookedness of the treacherous destroys them.

It is not like we do not know that giving our children over to the care of politicians and Hollywood is a preposterous notion. Our problem is we don’t want to know the truth. We each want to make “me” more important than the truth. So when we should turn to God for guidance, we doubt. When we fear what God might require of us, we deny. And when politicians and Hollywood “offer” their services, to teach our children the wisdom of the world for “free”, we accept their deceits as truth. Then, in disobedience we fail make certain of the instruction our children in schools where God is feared and properly reverenced.

When government pressures parents to send their children to secular government-run schools, does that constitute an infringement upon our religious freedom? Are you willing to consider the question? Do you approve of the increasing moral degradation of our society? You don’t? Then encourage parents and help them, especially Christian parents. Insist upon the right of parents to choose who teaches their children.

For a list of the posts in this series, see AN EXAMPLE OF BIGOTRY — PART 1.

WHAT EXPLAINS AMERICA’S DECLINE? — PART 3

United States

When people read this post, I don’t doubt many will find it a bit strange and somewhat incoherent. That’s because I don’t truly propose to answer the question: How have labor unions been corrupted by government? Instead, I want my readers to consider and answer that question for themselves.

What this post does is review some of the histories that people have written about labor unions. Because labor unions are so powerful, much that is in the news and our histories is deceitful. Thus, I ask you to consider two examples. The first relates to the strange reluctance to speak of the elephant in the room. The second provides a dramatic example of the damage that organized labor is doing. That example involves the children of the American people

How Have Labor Unions Been Corrupted By Government?

Everyone has their own point-of-view. Everyone has an agenda. Therefore, when we try to determine the why of some event, we almost invariably find disagreement. Whereas we see a problem, another group may not. And we may also completely disagree as to how things got the way they are. Therefore, we must suspect the accuracy of histories. Even if the “facts” are correct, other pertinent facts may have been left out. Thus, the conclusion we draw from the “facts” may be incorrect.

Googling “Labor Unions” history

Google carefully. What we see depends both upon we choose to see and what we are shown. Google “Labor Unions” history and we see websites like the following.

Labor Movement (www.history.com): As might be expected, A&E Networks paints a largely glowing picture of the labor union movement. The article ends with this statement.

The union movement became in the 1980s a diminished economic and political force, and, in the Age of Reagan, this made for a less socially just nation.

A History of Labor Unions from Colonial Times to 2009 (mises.org): The Mises Institute advocates the Austrian School of economics and libertarian political and social theory. They observed how the pressure (labor friendly laws and executive orders) exerted by the Federal Government advanced labor unionization. Here is their concluding paragraph.

Perhaps the most astounding feature revealed by this history of American unionism is that US labor markets continue to work as well as they do. Despite all the union privileges and immunities granted and a never-ending stream of federal labor interventions, the famous flexibility of US labor markets remains — a truly remarkable fact. And the vast majority of American workers remain stubbornly nonunion despite the best efforts of labor unions, the federal government, its court intellectuals, and the mass media.

Organized Labor (www.ushistory.org): Instead of focusing on social justice or economics, historians tend to have a broader view of history. Hence, ushistory.org focuses on major events and characters. Supposedly, there is no underlying message. Nonetheless, like everyone else historians retain their own biases. Thus, instead of government favoritism towards unions, ushistory.org focuses on government favoritism towards corporate fat cats. Their hero is Samuel Gompers.

Keep it simple. That was the mantra of labor leader Samuel Gompers. He was a diehard capitalist and saw no need for a radical restructuring of America. Gompers quickly learned that the issues that workers cared about most deeply were personal. They wanted higher wages and better working conditions.

The Labor Union Movement in America (www.socialstudieshelp.com): socialstudieshelp.com seems to be aimed at high school students and teachers. Like ushistory.org, socialstudieshelp.com finds recent labor union history uninteresting. The last paragraph lists all the reasons why labor unions have become almost irrelevant.  There is no mention of the large number of government workers in today’s labor unions.

How Labor Unions Work (howstuffworks.com):  HowStuffWorks, a wholly owned subsidiary of Discovery Communications, studiously avoids controversy; it aims to  provide a fairly straightforward presentation of how labor unions work. If you have a child doing a homework assignment on labor unions, I suppose this is the place to start. However, like most of the websites in this list, there is no mention of the large number government workers in today’s labor unions.

Of the sites we have thus far considered, only The Mises Institute‘s post, A History of Labor Unions from Colonial Times to 2009, seriously considered the implications of public-sector labor unions. Why is that? What if we modify our search?

Googling “Public-Sector Unions” history

Googling “Public-Sector Unions” history markedly changes the nature of the hits.

The Trouble with Public Sector Unions (www.nationalaffairs.com): Remember when Chris Christie became New Jersey’s governor? Christie is no Conservative, but he did take on New Jersey’s public sector unions. If he wants to balance New Jersey’s budget, he has no other choice. Consider just this one example. How would you like a constitutional guarantee for your pension?

The skyrocketing costs of public employees’ pensions now present a huge challenge to state and local governments. If allowed to persist, such massive obligations will inevitably force a fundamental re-ordering of government priorities. After all, if government must spend more on pensions, it cannot spend more on schools, roads, and relief for the poor — in other words, the basic functions people expect their governments to perform. But because many states’ pension commitments are constitutionally guaranteed, there is no easy way out of this financial sink hole.

A Brief, Illustrated History of the Public Sector Unions That, Together With The Democrat Party, Are Waging War on the Taxpayer (directorblue.blogspot.com): The title of this post explains the content, and pictures and charts make up much of the content.

Public Sector Unions (www.opensecrets.org): The post is not an about the history of public sector unions. Nonetheless, because the growth and influence of public sector unions is a relatively recent phenomenon (took off when President John F. Kennedy granted federal employees the right to collectively bargain), it is appropriate. With simple charts, OpenSecrets.org demonstrates the party bias of public sector unions.

Public Sector Labor Unions Evolve Over A Century (www.npr.org): Here for fun we can listen to the sophistry of Joseph Slater, a University of Toledo law professor, as he talks to Steve Inskeep.

Paul Moreno: How Public Unions Became So Powerful (online.wsj.com): Here is an editorial that finally gets to the point.

Public unions do well in flush times like the 1950s and 1960s, but they suffer when taxpayers feel their true cost, as in the 1970s—and today.

Corrupted Or The Corrupter?

So how have labor unions been corrupted by government? And what is the problem posed by public-sector unions? The problem is a conflict of interest. When government provides the public a service (policing the streets, road construction and maintenance, public education, and so forth), it gives itself a monopoly or near monopoly. To the keep operation of these services under their control, the public elects officials to run the government. Unfortunately, public-sector unions can radically undermine the public’s control. That is been especially true with respect to public education.

Stanford University political scientist Terry Moe has made exactly this argument with respect to the education sector. “Teachers unions have more influence on the public schools than any other group in American society,” Moe argues. “Their massive memberships and awesome resources give them unrivaled power in the politics of education, allowing them to affect which policies are imposed on the schools by government — and to block reforms they don’t like.” One need only look at the debates over charter-school caps or merit-pay proposals to see Moe’s point. (from here)

Terry Moe speaks of teachers unions corrupting the public’s control of the school system. Yet most articles about labor unions also mention good things they have accomplished. Typical examples include decent pay for their workers, laws restricting child labor, and the 40-hour work week. In fact, the corruption does work both ways. Because even his Democratic Party predecessors had spoken on the dangers of allowing government workers to unionize, President John F. Kennedy had to know the risk. Nonetheless, he gets the credit for initiating the huge growth in public-sector unions.

The explanation for the sudden burst of government unionization is another intervention, namely, President John F. Kennedy’s Executive Order 10988 promoting unionism in the federal bureaucracy, which he signed in January 1962. Kennedy had received considerable campaign support from unions and his executive order declared that “the efficient administration of the government and the well-being of employees requires that orderly and constructive relationships be maintained between employee organizations and management.” (from here)

So did government corrupt the union movement or did the unions corrupt our government. Did the chicken or the egg come first? That is a question we cannot answer. What we can know is that workers formed unions to fight management, management that some of the histories we reviewed say had formed alliances with government officials. Unfortunately, instead of condemning improper alliances between government and business, union organizers have armed themselves with their own such alliances. And they have done so to the detriment of our children.

Here is an example written by Thomas Sowell.

The Left Versus Minorities

If anyone wanted to pick a time and place where the political left’s avowed concern for minorities was definitively exposed as a fraud, it would be now — and the place would be New York City, where far left Mayor Bill de Blasio has launched an attack on charter schools, cutting their funding, among other things.

These schools have given thousands of low income minority children their only shot at a decent education, which often means their only shot at a decent life. Last year 82 percent of the students at a charter school called Success Academy passed city-wide mathematics exams, compared to 30 percent of the students in the city as a whole.

Why would anybody who has any concern at all about minority young people — or even common decency — want to destroy what progress has already been made? (continued here)

President Barack H. Obama has created similar problems for school vouchers.

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