Sunday, November 25, 2012

Two Half Hitches — The Steady Devaluation of Human Labor

Oldie but goodie (Feb 12, 2012)
Here are some remarks made by Representative Steve King (R-IA) on the floor of the House of Representatives last year:
"Labor is a commodity just like corn or beans or oil or gold, and the value of it needs to be determined by the competition, supply and demand in the workplace."

That very attitude toward workers was a powerful motivator during the early days of the labor movement. The idea that people were on par with animals, equipment, and raw materials was offensive and demeaning to workers who wanted a better life for themselves and their families.

Samuel Gompers, cigar maker-turned-labor organizer and founder of the American Federation of Labor in the early 20th Century, had a different business ethic related to labor and said this: “You cannot weigh the human soul in the same scales with a piece of pork.”

Labor advocates actually managed to insert a statement affirming the status of human labor in the 1914 Clayton Antitrust Act: “The labor of a human being is not a commodity or article of commerce.”

So, is labor a commodity or not? The recent remarks by Rep. Steve King stand in direct opposition to the those of Samuel Gompers and the Clayton Act. The fight has gone on for decades, but, based on the above chart, it looks like King's side is winning.
Two Half Hitches
The Steady Devaluation of Human Labor
(H/t Linda Beale at Angry Bear)

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