I have always known that labor unions can be used for both good and evil. Unions are often essential to protect the workers and get them decent wages. They can act as checks on corporate power. At the same time – like any other center of power – they can become corrupt. Union dues may eat up much of the gain made by higher wages, the union leadership may use union resources to support candidates not all the members agree with, and historically, both the mafia and revolutionary communists have used unions for their ends. Indeed, Russian unions were central to Lenin’s plan to create the USSR. I’ve read the history. I always grew up thinking that wannabe tyrants loved unions – because they were useful.
This is why I found it impossible to believe the recently made claim that Stalin and Hitler outlawed unions, and that this was akin to what Governor Walker was doing in Wisconsin. I thought for sure they were making stuff up and paid them no mind.
It was only later that I learned that indeed, Hitler and Stalin outlawed unions – after they used them to gain power.
So the anti-Walker protesters weren’t just making stuff up – but they were leaving out important information. Walker certainly doesn’t seem to be catering to unions to gain power. Still, I suspect that sometimes this is why people of differing political persuasions believe the other side is all based on lies; we all only have a piece of the historical knowledge. In the recent credit crisis, some have emphasized the role of Wall Street, while some have emphasized the role of quasi-federal entities such as Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. All these things played a part, but not all of us are aware of what other groups are saying. Some people seem not to be aware that a larger percentage of Republicans than Democrats voted for the civil rights act. I’ve even read the claim that Herbert Hoover meddled with the economy, trying to fix it, and that FDR ran on a platform of doing less, before winning office and turning around 180 degrees. I’m not sure if I believe that one yet…