Saturday, December 6, 2008

What Democracy Hath Wrought

The WSJ's Matthew Kaminski's Weekend Interview is with Andy Stern, president of the Service Employees International Union-SEIU, a key interest group among the coalition that is the Democrat party. Union money was second only to Soros money in funding the huge national rush to take government back for the people. One should ignore what the titular heads of the party officially say: it is mostly legerdemain, meant to placate and distract the public, the way a magician misdirects attention in order to pull off a trick, or the way a parent distracts a fussy little one. It is a rarity, always considered a gaffe, when any of them out with what they are really up to. Obama's "spread the wealth" thing for example. Recall the war-room mobilization across the media to renounce the slander of "socialism" against the One? Unlike conservatives, who are unapologetic about being conservatives, it is hard to find a liberal besides Barney Frank who will accept the label. They know most people don't want what they are selling. They have to use subterfuge, Orwellian naming tricks, stealth legislation, the courts, and regulation through executive branch agencies to effect their policies. If taken to a vote by the people, most of the liberal agenda would still be a gleam in the eye of Wiliam Ayers and at a wholesome distance from reality.

Thus, the expectations, proclivities, and demands of leftist interest groups that have delivered us into the hands of the Democrats deserve more attention than those of elected Democrats, who, after all, must live in the limelight and be reelected. The Code Pinks, the Sierra Clubs, the Emily's Lists, NARAL, the trial lawyers, labor unions, ad nauseum, are better barometers than the Democrat political class per se. Kaminski notes in the piece that "universal health care, widespread unionization, stronger regulations on business, profit-sharing for employees, higher taxes -- all that sounds like Western Europe. Mr. Stern considers that a worthy model."

Says Mr Stern:

"I think Western Europe as much as we used to make fun of it has made different trade-offs which may have ended up with a little more unemployment but a lot more equality."

If one considers eleven or twelve percent unemployment merely "a little more", then perhaps that vaunted "equality" might seem a bargain. But then there is a lot packed into that term "equality" under socialism. Those who have seen the Europe of the working and welafare class--those Mr Stern and his ilk pretend to represent so well--understand that the equality offered by socialism is equality of poverty, with a distinctly unimpoverished upper class, reeking of solicitous concern for the masses. Ever seen the size of a flat in Rome or Paris? See what cars they drive in any European city? Wonder why everyone wears black in the cities? (black clothes don't show dirt, and since many people have only small clothing budgets, they must wear the same suits over and over. This partly accounts for the smells on a bus.) On the other hand, for those with union or government jobs--the majority of those who have jobs--things are pretty cushy--short work weeks, Adriatic vacations, retirement at fifty.

Until the thing collapses, which it must. Our unionized auto industry is European socialism writ small, and it is the model for the future Messrs. Soros, Stern, and all the leading lights among the Democrats are bringing to a town near you. We're all GM now.

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