15 December 2007
Ron Paul and worker's rights
Ron Paul and the Employer/Employee Relationship... including the words of the candidate by Richard Myers
[From the Front Range Coalition Email list, 14 December 2007]
Ron Paul defends the rights of the employer on principle. He calls it liberty; i call it privilege.
The boss has power over the employee, and may exert that power in illicit ways. Ron Paul considers the employment contract voluntary on both sides, and he therefore doesn't recognize the reality of that power relationship. While he won't defend a manager who actually uses force to coerce sex from a subordinate, his recommended solution to sexual harrassment by the boss is for the employee to quit her job.
This leads me to believe that Ron Paul hasn't a clue what it must mean to be a single mother, dependent upon a paycheck to feed her children. Anyone who would offer a sexually exploited employee some civil rights tools to defend herself is derided as a social do-gooder.
Ron Paul wants a woman in such a situation to stand on her own. She's signed that voluntary employment contract, she's free and capable of making other voluntary associations, so she must solve the problem herself, according to Ron Paul's libertarian philosophy.
In making such judgments, Ron Paul ignores centuries of history. We know that slavemasters took advantage of female slaves, and even prominent "founders" of the nation whom we might otherwise respect - Thomas Jefferson comes to mind - have mixed race offspring as a result. For centuries, male bosses of various stripes (whether capitalist, or slave-master) have taken advantage of women in their employ. The threat of dismissal or other punishment, coupled with the uncertainty of finding another job, has forced countless women into subservience and exploitation.
A Case History
Three decades ago I worked in a Denver factory in which women outnumbered men by five to one. There wasn't much manufacturing in the area, and we had jobs that paid comparatively well. Many of us saw the value in making this our career, and i stayed for 33 years. Some employees weren't allowed that opportunity.
Supervisors developed reputations for having numerous relationships with the women who worked for them. One supervisor routinely joked about rubbing up against women in his crew. Another was fired after multiple accusations of rape, and others were transferred for similar behavior. But it seemed that most such activity was either tolerated or ignored by upper management.
A pretty young woman walked by, and my boss blurted out in a very loud voice, "let's take her into the bathroom and rape her!" He emphasized the word "rape", and his words coincided with some animated body movement. The young woman managed an embarrassed smile and didn't say anything. Such harrassment of female employees was fairly routine in the factory, and to the extent that such behavior has been diminished, i expect that is primarily due to threat of a lawsuit.
However, Ron Paul considers such a solution unacceptable. Better for the employee to quit - just walk away, and let the managers continue their abusive games.
In fact this young woman did quit her job, and i surmise it was the taunt by my boss that caused her to leave. Was this a fair outcome? Ron Paul apparently believes so. In Freedom Under Siege, Paul has written:
Seeking protection under civil rights legislation is hardly acceptable. If force was clearly used, that is another story, but pressure and submission is hardly an example of a violation of one's employment rights."
http://www.mises.org/books/freedomsiege.pdf, page 24
In my opinion, the young woman who quit her factory job because of a blatant sexual taunt was guilty of only one thing - being vulnerable. Yet Ron Paul wonders, "how can the harassee escape some responsibility for the problem? ...pressure and submission is hardly ... a violation of one's employment rights."
It appears that in President Paul's country, employers have the right to harrass. And, Paul himself has no concept of the difficulty of finding jobs, nor of the possible hardship when a job is lost.
Unemployment in our society is maintained at a certain level as a means of keeping down wages. The unemployment rate is based upon NAIRU, the Non-Accelerating Inflation Rate of Unemployment. If a person becomes the one out of twenty or twenty-five workers who are out of a job by design, then the penalty of losing a job may be severe.
Ron Paul's Rationale for Corporate Dominance
Ron Paul's website states that:
What exactly does it mean, that "liberty means free-market capitalism"? Paul believes that "in a free society an individual can own and control property and run his or her business as he or she chooses." [page 24]. Paul's philosophy would set corporations free to do essentially whatever they wish.
Well, then, what rights will workers have? The freedom to seek a different employer.
But for working folk, "freedom" should mean more than the right to change bosses.
Under President Ron Paul, "do-gooding" is verboten. No one will have any right to balance the power relationship between employer and employee, by legislative or other means. Would that give us sweatshops, child labor, poorhouses, company towns? Would Ron Paul excuse and defend company unions, trusts, monopolies, cartels, blacklists, private goons, slumlords? These questions should be asked of the candidate.
Ron Paul Specifics
Under Ron Paul, an employer would be free to fire an employee "for any reason he chooses".
Paul doesn't believe that working people should have any right to "equal pay for equal work".
Under President Paul, if you're not physically attractive, you may not have a right to a job.
Ron Paul wrote in his book:
http://www.mises.org/books/freedomsiege.pdf, page 24
Note the phraseology here. Paul doesn't qualify his statement to pertain to an employment position (such as stewardess?) that is socially anticipated to have a certain image to uphold. Paul's stated principle appears to allow an airline to make attractiveness (or anything else they may choose) a hiring issue across the board.
What's to prevent them from hiring only employees with blue eyes and blond hair? Might Aryan Airlines become a viable carrier under President Paul?
Granted, Paul is no national socialist. He probably would not support the incorporation of such ideologies into government. That's because all government is inherently evil, and only the market delivers righteousness and justice.
But with recent corporate license in the nature of Enron, Haliburton, Blackwater, and those responsible for the mortgage lending crisis, shouldn't this sort of "corporate freedom" also give us pause?
Some more Ron Paul specifics:
a. When it comes to illness (AIDS in particular), Paul is quick to assert the "rights of the insurance company owners" [page 30]. Well of course; he is the CEO's friend, too.
b. He would allow sweatshop labor - presumably, work such as sewing garments for long hours at low pay - in the home [page 28]. How many children would be forced to work in such an unregulated environment? Didn't we have congressional hearings nearly a century ago and conclude that such unregulated working conditions were an abomination?
c. Ron Paul has voted to zero-fund an OSHA intiative relating to ergonomics.
d. He is against the minimum wage, and has voted not to increase it. http://www.ontheissues.org/2008/Ron_Paul_Jobs.htm
e. He crosses picket lines: http://www.laborradio.org/node/7423
What about Ron Paul's views on union rights? Ron Paul believes there should be:
"...no privileges, no special benefits legislated to benefit the unions, but you should never deny any working group to organize and negotiate for the best set of standards of working conditions."
Unions with no special privileges or benefits, with members who can be fired "for any reason". Consider what sort of emasculated organization that might be.
Ron Paul appears to believe that unlimited corporate power is just fine, so long as it is market-derived. Unions under Ron Paul would be less relevant than they already are. Workers will become low-paid wage-slaves with no rights on the job, with the exit door always held open for them.
The individual liberty of the Ron Paul variety is the freedom to nakedly exploit, without regulation or constraint. Seems clear enough that Ron Paul is no friend to working people who may wish to unite for their own protection.
As such, the state governments have more power than the federal government, and by more power it means they do the majority of things, not the federal government. The federal governments job is to make sure the solutions the states come up with do not infringe on the rights of that states citizens.
Please stop looking at things with polarized glasses. Every issue is not just about yes vs no. It is not a "you are with us, or against us" type issue.
Ron Paul stands for returning the power back to the people, by returning government to it's proper functions. Just because the federal government doesn't pick up an issue, doesn't mean the state and local governments can't. It just means it is not the job of the federal government, as outlined in the constitution.
We do not elect Kings, we have a republic which was established with the biggest forms of the government being the most limited, with the governments closer to home having more power. This is why state and local elections happen more often. Your vote matters more in those elections as well, and counts for a bigger % of the vote.
Everytime the federal government gets involved, the people lose their power. Because the government as setup to function is no longer operating as intended. Rather than a limited government, today we have a government that protects it's on secrecy and well being over the citizens. It has turned from a limited government, to one which only recognizes the rights the forefathers happened to list over 200 years ago.
The federal governments job is to do only those things listed in the constitution. The bill of rights doesn't tell them what they can't infringe on. It tells them what their job to protect is. That is there job. And instead of doing that job, they are doing the exact opposite, and by allowing issues to be taken to the federal level is a direct power grab from the people to the elite.
And we will not stand for it any longer. Ron Paul will be elected.
Prostitutes provide sex for money. Do you think that their customers value the money or sex higher? Do you think the prostitute values the money or sex higher? If a woman is willing to trade sexual favors for money, should she be barred from working in a corporation? If a boss requires sexual favors in exchange for a paycheck should he be barred from being a boss? I don't think that sex is much different a service from anything else. If you don't like your work environment, ask for a change. If change doesn't come - quit.
Rape, and threatening to rape is illegal under State law and need not be addressed by the Federal government.
More relevant is, I think, the fact that Ron Paul is, by far, the most credible candidate for peace. There is every reason to believe that he really in sincere and honest, and he truly wants the USA to be a 'normal' nation and not a Neocon Empire. And while a RP Presidency could not simply do away with government and regulation inside the USA, it could finally bring the troops home.
No less important is Ron Paul's stance of civil rights, personal freedoms and the defense of the citizen against government power. Is that enough to make Ron Paul some 'savior' of the USA? Sure not. But is that way, waaay, better than any 2008 candidate? Yes. Definitely.
Ron Paul is a typical 'American' phenomenon. He is full of the frankly barbaric and uncivilized ideology of capitalism which basically claims that the sum of all the individual greeds in society will somehow yield a kind, fair and free society. That is utter crap, bullshit. However, that is only the ONLY way to 'sell' the peace message in a society which is otherwise built on the glorification of violence and which is totally out of touch with the rest of the industrialized world (death penalty, Kyoto, international law, labor rights, unions, homelessness, illiteracy, etc.).
I would prefer a Chomsky Presidency to a Ron Paul Presidency. But that is not the choice the USA is facing. True red-white-n-blue Fascists like Rudy or Hillary is what the world is risking right now. Gravel and Kucinich are decent people, but none of them could talk the the American people like Ron Paul does (or raise 6M dollars in one day, for that matter).
All of us who realize how nasty the anarcho-capitalist ideology can be and how see that RP has no idea what it means to be a poor woman would do well to read this excellent piece bu Joshua Frank:
I say that none of us have the luxury to hope for a Nader or Chomsky Presidency. Of the possible options only RP has a fighting chance, however, slim. For these reasons I say that the peace camp should rally around him.
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