More than three-quarters of the Senate Republican caucus signed onto legislation introduced Wednesday by Sens. Tom Coburn (R-OK) and Rand Paul (R-KY) that could render it virtually impossible for Congress to enact any legislation intended to improve working conditions or otherwise regulate the workplace. Had their bill been in effect during the Twentieth Century, for example, there would likely be no nationwide minimum wage, no national ban on workplace discrimination, no national labor law and no overtime in most industries.
Somewhere along the line, I fell asleep in an America that at least pretended to care about the social contract and woke up in one predicated on the phrase, “Only the strong survive.” We now have a class of politicians dedicated to the proposition that the federal government has only three legitimate goals:
- foreign policy, and
- protecting the interests of the oligarchy.
I don’t know about you, but the idea of an America without a minimum wage, protections against workplace discrimination, labor protections, or overtime is an America that strikes me as offensive and exploitative. Instead of protecting the most vulnerable parts of our population from discrimination and exploitation, Republicans now see absolutely nothing wrong with protecting the interests of the wealthy, powerful, and well-connected.
Of course, it’s not as if the soulless pols who think that exploitation and discrimination is just capitalism at work came to power by themselves. No, they were voted into office by a middle class conditioned to reflexively vote against their own interests. The American Sheeple are not blameless in this fiasco; if they hadn’t elected troglodytes like Coburn and Paul, I’d be writing about something very different.
Though Coburn and Paul are marketing their bill using a long-discredited argument about the limitations of federal power, the end result of this bill would be to create a system in which workers would be at the mercy of their employers. The poor, minorities, and the middle class would be neutered and left at the mercy of corporate greedheads who view labor in terms of units of production and not humanity.
Whether they’d admit it or not- and they most certainly won’t- Coburn and Paul, along with 34 other Republican Senators, would create a labor environment in which employers would hold all the cards and workers would be left to subsist on whatever crumbs management and ownership would deign to toss their way. Millions of workers would be left in an environment in which the best way to describe their workplace would be indentured servitude. Then again, who can blame Republicans for looking out for the interests of those most responsible for filling their campaign coffers?
And so the American Sheeple got exactly the quality of leadership they deserved. Nice work, y’all.