No One Would Buy This

| Saturday, March 26, 2011 | |
As everyone probably already knows, yesterday was the 100-year anniversary of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire, the disaster that killed 146 people and made other people really pay attention to horrendous working conditions and workers' rights in general.

I'm ashamed to say that it's only this past week that I learned anything substantial about the fire and the events surrounding it; all I remembered (prior to reading) was a paragraph in a high school history textbook with a picture of a burned-out building and one 90-minute class that went like this:

There was this thing called the Gilded Age, or something-->Then there was this fire thing-->Labor rights and, uh, stuff-->AWMYGODTHEGREATDEPRESSIONWOE!

(You didn't think the IB program actually did anything, did you?)

I can't quote from Amanda at Pandagon and Nancy Goldstein at the Prospect because I'd have to quote both of them in their entirety, so I just want to mention something that really struck me: we are in a New Gilded Age. I've seen all of the graphs out in the past few weeks that very clearly illustrate the massive wealth gap between a handful of billionaires and everyone else, and a not-small number of said billionaires are working like hell to squeeze more money out of their employees by hacking away at their most basic rights. It's eerie.

The situation in Wisconsin made me (finally) learn about collective bargaining rights and unions in general, and even though I'm reasonably sure that I've got the basics down, I still don't get Scott Walker and his counterparts' logic. There are many factors that I'm certainly overlooking, but from what I've read so far, what I can glean is this:

Scott Walker et. al.'s MASTER PLAN!!1!

1. Severely weaken/eliminate collective bargaining rights
2. Deal a heavy blow to the unions that support our own voting base
3. ???
4. Profit!

Unless a gigantic earth-shattering political upheaval the likes of which the world has never seen is happening in the time it's taking me to write this, ultraconservatives and Tea Partiers tend to aim for the votes of hard-working people in blue collar professions, who are probably already benefitting from their union's actions. These guys are trying to take away the rights of the people whose votes they want.

So... you screw people over, and then expect them to vote for you?


Here's a hypothetical situation I've been pondering: Take Scott Walker & Co., change some surface details, and put them in a novel.

No one would buy that.

Any reader/writer determined to be completely honest with you would give you a kindly-but-condescending "not realistic", "cartoonish", and "no one would ever act like that", and direct you to the Evil Overlord List. Your characters would be designated Villains-Who-are-Motivated-by-a-Desire-to-Do-Evil, an archetype that fell out of favor after the silent film era (George Lucas apparently didn't get the memo).

I suppose my only option is to continue reading in the hope that someday, somehow, I'll be able to make sense of their thought processes.

Something tells me I won't.


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