Nation-Building >> cheap-labor conservatives | return to front page

"America has two great dominant strands of political thought - conservatism, which, at its very best, draws lines that should not be crossed; and progressivism, which, at its very best, breaks down barriers that should never have been erected." -- Bill Clinton, Dedication of the Clinton Presidential Library, November 2004

Add to Google Reader or Homepage Subscribe in Bloglines Subscribe in NewsGator Online Add to netvibes

website stats

Previous Posts
Netflix, Inc.
ThinkGeek T-Shirts will make you cool!
illy coffee - 2 cans, 2 mugs for just $26.

Wednesday, July 30, 2003


cheap-labor conservatives

posted by Aziz P. at Wednesday, July 30, 2003 permalink View blog reactions
When it comes to the issues, Democrats win. Part of the reason that the Republicans have so much power is because they have successfully managed to poison the well of policy debate, painting dissent as treason, equating critics with terrorists, lumping progressive social policy in with socialism and Stalin, etc. This ongoing verbal tirade amounts to a perpetual character assasination of "liberals" - a term that is defined by their own usage as "people who disagree with the Republican Party"[1]

But let us embrace the term liberal, as Dean has done - I think of a liberal as someone who desires a dialouge-driven social policy, whose ultimate purpose is to liberate the human potential of each individual and enable them to contribute back to society. Only through a healthy debate can the best ideas be encouraged to propser and find their way into policy, and above all shunning ideology. Republicans know that such a dialouge is an anathema to their ideology, and have created the Mighty Wurlitzer for the sole purpose of making such a dialouge impossible.

The only way to counter the threat is to expose the far-right's agenda, by finding a short phrase (or meme) that perfectly encapsulates how their ideological is to party above country. That short phrase is cheap-labor conservative:

You see, cheap-labor conservatives are defenders of corporate America – whose fortunes depend on labor. The larger the labor supply, the cheaper it is. The more desperately you need a job, the cheaper you'll work, and the more power those "corporate lords" have over you. If you are a wealthy elite – or a "wannabe" like most dittoheads – your wealth, power and privilege is enhanced by a labor pool, forced to work cheap.

Don't believe me. Well, let's apply this principle, and see how many right-wing positions become instantly understandable.

  • Cheap-labor conservatives don't like social spending or our "safety net". Why. Because when you're unemployed and desperate, corporations can pay you whatever they feel like – which is inevitably next to nothing. You see, they want you "over a barrel" and in a position to "work cheap or starve".

  • Cheap-labor conservatives don't like the minimum wage, or other improvements in wages and working conditions. Why. These reforms undo all of their efforts to keep you "over a barrel".

  • Cheap-labor conservatives like "free trade", NAFTA, GATT, etc. Why. Because there is a huge supply of desperately poor people in the third world, who are "over a barrel", and will work cheap.

  • Cheap-labor conservatives oppose a woman's right to choose. Why. Unwanted children are an economic burden that put poor women "over a barrel", forcing them to work cheap.

  • Cheap-labor conservatives don't like unions. Why. Because when labor "sticks together", wages go up. That's why workers unionize. Seems workers don't like being "over a barrel".

  • Cheap-labor conservatives constantly bray about "morality", "virtue", "respect for authority", "hard work" and other "values". Why. So they can blame your being "over a barrel" on your own "immorality", lack of "values" and "poor choices".

  • Cheap-labor conservatives encourage racism, misogyny, homophobia and other forms of bigotry. Why? Bigotry among wage earners distracts them, and keeps them from recognizing their common interests as wage earners.

  • ...
  • Cheap-labor conservatives opposed virtually all of the New Deal, including every improvement in wages and working conditions.

  • Cheap-labor conservatives have a long and sorry history of opposing virtually every advancement in this country's development going right back to the American revolution

  • Cheap-labor conservatives have hated Social Security and Medicare since their inception.
    Many cheap-labor conservatives are hostile to public education. They think it should be privatized. But why are we surprised.
  • Cheap-labor conservatives opposed universal public education in its early days. School vouchers are just a backdoor method to "resegregate" the public schools.

  • Cheap-labor conservatives hate the progressive income tax like the devil hates holy water.

  • Cheap-labor conservatives like budget deficits and a huge national debt for two reasons. A bankrupt government has a harder time doing any "social spending" – which cheap-labor conservatives oppose, and . . .

  • Wealthy cheap-labor conservatives like say, George W. Bush, buy the bonds and then earn tax free interest on the money they lend the government.[Check out Dubya's financial disclosures. The son of a bitch is a big holder of the T-bills that finance the deficit he is helping to expand.] The deficit created by cheap-labor conservatives while they posture as being "fiscally conservative" – may count as the biggest con job in American history.

  • "Free Trade", globalization, NAFTA and especially GATT are intended to create a world-wide "corporate playground" where national governments serve the interests of corporations – which means "cheap labor".

The ugly truth is that cheap-labor conservatives just don't like working people. They don't like "bottom up" prosperity, and the reason for it is very simple. lords have a harder time kicking them around. Once you understand this about the cheap-labor conservatives, the real motivation for their policies makes perfect sense. Remember, cheap-labor conservatives believe in social hierarchy and privilege, so the only prosperity they want is limited to them. They want to see absolutely nothing that benefits the guy – or more often the woman – who works for an hourly wage.

The power of this meme is enormous - far from the empty rhetoric of the term "liberal", it has a concrete meaning and is devastatingly descriptive. It does indeed expose the agenda of the far right and provides a common frame of reference for why we think our ideas are better. And it defuses the threat of their labels, and levels the field, wher ethe true dialouge can take place.

I urge everyone to use this phrase consistently. As Conceptual Guerilla states:

Try it. Every time you respond to a cheap-labor conservative in letters to the editor, or an online discussion forum, look for the "cheap labor" angle. Trust me, you'll find it. I can even show you the "cheap labor" angle in things like the "war on drugs", and the absurd conservative opposition to alternative energy.

Next, make that moniker – cheap-labor conservatives – you're "standard reference" to the other side. One of the last revisions I made to this article was to find every reference to "conservatives", "Republicans", "right-wingers", and "righties", and replace it with "cheap-labor conservatives". In fact, if you're a cheap-labor conservative reading this, you should be getting sick of that phrase right about now. Exxxxcellent.

If enough people will "get with the program", it won't be long before you can't look at an editorial page, listen to the radio, turn on the TV, or log onto your favorite message board without seeing the phrase "cheap labor conservatives" – and have plenty of examples to reinforce the message. By election day of 2004, every politically sentient American should understand exactly what a "cheap labor conservative" is, and what he stands for.

I fervently hope Howard Dean is the first candidate to use the phrase "cheap-labor conservative" on the stump. What do you think?

[1] some conservatives get tarred with the liberal label as well. remember, The GOP is not identical to conservatives any more than the Democrats are equal to liberals or Greens with Progressives. Political parties use ideology as recruitment tools but often pay them mere lip service in practice. Case in point: whatever happenned to the balanced budget plank of the Contract with America?


Post a Comment


View blog top tags
The Assault on Reason

Obama 2008 - I want my country back

I want my country back - Obama 2008

About Nation-Building

Nation-Building was founded by Aziz Poonawalla in August 2002 under the name Dean Nation. Dean Nation was the very first weblog devoted to a presidential candidate, Howard Dean, and became the vanguard of the Dean netroot phenomenon, raising over $40,000 for the Dean campaign, pioneering the use of Meetup, and enjoying the attention of the campaign itself, with Joe Trippi a regular reader (and sometime commentor). Howard Dean himself even left a comment once. Dean Nation was a group weblog effort and counts among its alumni many of the progressive blogsphere's leading talent including Jerome Armstrong, Matthew Yglesias, and Ezra Klein. After the election in 2004, the blog refocused onto the theme of "purple politics", formally changing its name to Nation-Building in June 2006. The primary focus of the blog is on articulating purple-state policy at home and pragmatic liberal interventionism abroad.