So, here I am surfing along the wifi challenged net of my lovely hotel room and what do I find in between 404 notices? Well it appears to be the latest talking point from the right wing echo chamber; a snappy little infographic promoting the virtues of a national day devoted to the celebration of Capital!
It seems that labor and capital both need each other, at least according to this catchy little visual. So, in the interests of fairness, we really ought to have a national Capital Day, at least if we are going to have a national Labor Day. And if we can’t have that, well then we should at least celebrate them together.
I mean it’s only fair!
I found this on Tumblr, a account for The Bill of Rights Institute, … so, Koch Brothers, yep! The visual has the stamp of FEE on it, which leads us easily enough to the Foundation for Economic Education, an unsurprisingly Libertarian bastion of economic chatter, and once there it doesn’t take long to find a whole article (penned by none other than the President of the foundation, Lawrence Reed) touting this movement to counter-balance the celebration of labor with that of capital.
Now to be fair, Lawrence does tell us he will be celebrating Labor Day. Apparently, that’s okay, just as long as we don’t dip into any lefty labor union kinda thinking. Good workers know their place, and their place is working for capital! …without complaints and collective bargaining power. And of course Reed does want to reassure us that he is NOT engaging in class warfare, no. He loves labor. Hell, workers too can become capitalists if they save and invest.
I wonder what Reed thinks the average worker has to invest in today’s climate?
Apparently, we aren’t supposed to think of capital as something deployed only by bankers, because of course workers COULD invest in stock themselves. And in the classic tone-deaf stylings that have become the hallmark of libertarian thought, that little bit of formal equivalence is supposed to help us forget the massive difference between the economic power of the investing classes and those who might have a chunk of their fragile retirement fund riding on the fate of a corporation or two.
I could wonder a lot of things about the fairy-tale land of free market fundamentalism this preacher sells from his think-tank pulpit, but for the present it is enough to meditate on the vision of fairness he has in mind here. It is somehow unfair, he and the folks at FEE seem to be suggesting, that Americans should think about labor and not give a happy nod to capital as well. I wonder where that sense of fairness can be found when paychecks are measured against dividends, personal bankruptcies to corporate bailouts, and second homes to rental properties? I wonder where that sense of fairness is when people like Donald Trump talk about building this or that casino with hardly a nod to those who actually did the dirty work? I wonder where that emphasis on interdependence can be found when folks talk about ‘job creators’ as though they were the unmoved movers of the economic world? And I wonder where all this painfully important need for balanced credit falls when we measure the access of workers to the ear of public officials against that of capitalists? Today, it seems we must be reminded that workers and capitalists work hand-in-hand; on most days that same vision of cooperation is deemed to mean every-man-for-himself, and shame on those who fall short at the end of the month.
No doubt the fine folks at FEE will protest (as Libertarians often do) that they are against sundry special treatments for big business as well. And I suppose, one can indeed imagine a world in which the libertarian scheme of things offers a fair chance to everyone and a better more efficient economy for all. That world is every bit as real as the communist state. In the world we live in though, Libertarian intervention always seems so much more focused on the denial of benefits to the lower classes. Bail out a corporation and they will tell you that sucks and things are not supposed to work that way. Offer health care to the working poor and they will burn the country down around our ears if that’s what it takes to stop you.
And just as a small petty footnote in economic history, they may even find a way to begrudge working men and women a single day of acknowledgement.