By Jack Jodell, March 21, 2011

“An economic democracy is a precondition of a political democracy!”

– Dennis Kucinich –

I present below a rousing song’s lyrics which were penned by a struggling Kentucky woman, Florence Reece,  (1900-1986),  in 1931 during a coal miners’ strike organized by her husband Sam. This was back before labor unions were legal in this country; before the 40 hour work week; before overtime pay; before minimum wage; before paid vacations; before unemployment – before dozens of things which labor unions brought into being for all American workers were adopted. Pete Seeger has a version of this song available on his Greatest Hits album, and it has been covered by a number of other artists, too.


Come all of you good workers,
Good news to you I’ll tell,
Of how that good old union
Has come in here to dwell.

cho: Which side are you on?
Which side are you on?
Which side are you on?
Which side are you on?

My daddy was a miner,
And I’m a miner’s son,
And I’ll stick with the union,
Till every battle’s won.

They say in Harlan County,
There are no neutrals there.
You’ll either be a union man,
Or a thug for J.H. Blair.

Oh, workers can you stand it?
Oh, tell me how you can.
Will you be a lousy scab,
Or will you be a man ?

Don’t scab for the bosses,
Don’t listen to their lies.
Us poor folks haven’t got a chance,
Unless we organize.


Thomas Jefferson, in our Declaration of Independence, decreed that “all men are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.” This phrase laid the groundwork for the very basis of our Constitution and its legal fabric. These notions have been upheld, strengthened, and expanded upon in countless legal decisions ever since, many of which have been embraced by the current Tea Party.

So why is it, then, not carried over into the ECONOMIC realm of this country as well? Why do conservatives and Republicans constantly apply the right to liberty and the pursuit of happiness ONLY to business owners and the wealthy, and leave workers behind in the dust? Surely THAT is not “economic democracy!”

The answer, of course, is that the conservative Republicans simply do not recognize the right of ANY non-business owner to pursue or achieve a life relatively free of financial worry or strain. They have taken an extreme and perverse notion of this right and have applied it to the abstract concept of the “free market.”

As all of us fair-minded progressives know, there is no “free market.” Market forces are constantly being manipulated by the wealthy for their own benefit, so THEY are the only ones who have any market freedom at all. THEY decide how much or how little to pay for labor, not YOU. THEY have the funds with which to influence Congress and the media; YOU don’t. THEY can hire or fire YOU at will. THEY can and do set prices on commodities like gasoline and food, and they don’t care in the least how their decisions affect YOU or what it does to your budget.

THAT is why labor unions and government regulations are so vitally important. Together, they protect YOU from the greed and excesses put forth by concentrated capital in organizations like banks, insurance companies, and multinational corporations. When given enough power and when working as they should, these regulations provide you with a voice and a choice. The net effect of unions is that they elevate pay scales for ALL and ensure that where you work is a safe environment. THAT is why conservative Republicans HATE both, because they can restrict what a Republican views as a God-given right for them and their wealthy backers to make as much money as they possibly can, regardless of its effect on you. THEY view paying taxes as a burden which interferes with them lining their pockets at your expense. And they don’t want ANYONE telling them how to run their businesses.

We progressives know better, of course. We understand that ALL must have a place at the economic table and that ALL are entitled to a share of the proceeds. We correctly view the government not as a hindrance, but as a necessary means to an end to ensure that no one is left behind. We know the evils of unbridled greed, and view government intervention as a way to prevent it and provide fairness. That is why we get upset when we see government officials get bought-off by huge monied interests. For we correctly see this as a deliberate attempt by those interests to tilt the economic cart completely in their favor.

THAT, my friends, is why unions and government are so totally important. And it is why we must fight, and demonstrate, and work so hard to elect good and conscientious people to high office. People who will respond to OUR needs rather than those of the big money crowd.


Which is why we must organize into PEOPLE’S PARTY factions and attend next year’s local Democratic Party precinct caucuses. We must nominate worker-oriented candidates to counter balance the corporate hacks which permeate the Republican ranks. We must propose and pass responsible and RESPONSIVE planks and platforms, and take back that which has been denied us for the past 30 years: true ECONOMIC DEMOCRACY with an equal and respected seat at our country’s economic table!

About jackjodell53

I am an American Dissident trapped in a country where poor and middle class people are constantly being exploited and lied to by a very rigid and conservative plutocratic elite. I believe in government OF, FOR, and BY the people, not one controlled as it now is by corporations and special interests.
This entry was posted in conservative Republicans, labor unions, People's Party, Progressives, Tea Party. Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to WHICH SIDE ARE YOU ON?

  1. Terrific song from that period there. Nice touch.

    The right-wing noise machine has done a masterful job of convincing people the free market is perfect and should be inviolable; that it always automagically benefits everyone. It’s the sugar coating the wealthy, well-connected few and big corporations put on laissez-faire capitalism, to make it seem fair, civilized, safe and good for all.

    The truth, as made clear by plenty of painful history, is that laissez-faire capitalism is just as hard on and bad for most people as Soviet-style communism, although in different ways. The two are extremes to be avoided.

    Unions and public officeholders who serve as the people’s lobbyists are what the bottom 85 percent of Americans, income wise, need to keep things fair, civilized and workable. Job 1 right now should be getting most of the bottom 85 percent to understand what’s going on and how to turn things around. Getting more people involved in the Democratic Party at grass-roots level is an excellent way to help make that happen.

    • jackjodell53 says:

      You said a mouthful here, sir, and I agree with every single word. The track record of laissez faire capitalism speaks for itself, and, little by little, more are starting to get the accurate message. You are a very wise and observant man!

  2. tnlib says:

    What the so-called average middle-class or poor Republican (and there are many) don’t seem to realize is that they’re also being screwed by the Republicans.

    • jackjodell53 says:

      No kidding, and who ISN’T getting screwed by the lying GOP? That’s why you, I, and all the other truth-speaking bloggers on the left have to continue speaking out and taking an even more activist role—this GOP bullshit cannot continue!

  3. Tom Harper says:

    Great post and history of America’s labor struggles. In a way it’s even worse than what you’re describing.

    “…conservatives and Republicans constantly apply the right to liberty and the pursuit of happiness ONLY to business owners and the wealthy…” Most business owners aren’t benefiting from Republican policies. The GOP only cares about large corporations that have enough money and influence to keep financing their election campaigns. As far as Republicans are concerned, small and medium-size business owners are just part of the riffraff; no better than a common laborer.

    • jackjodell53 says:

      That’s very true, but a lot of the small business owners have been brainwashed by their local Chambers of Commerce into thinking the Republicans are THEIR party. Sooner or later, with enough of our help, we’ll convince them to accept what’s really true.

  4. Jolly Roger says:

    The Chamber of Commerce amounts to a Fascist Fifth column. Can anyone point out anything they’ve ever done that was beneficial?

    • jackjodell53 says:

      Jolly Roger,
      In the old days, they united small businesspeople toward engaging in civic projects and so forth. But nowadays, their focus has shifted far right into reactionary activism and political intrigue. They have become an anti-labor hotbed of cynics who want to enhance corporate profits through outsourcing and union busting. They are now a force for all of us to bitterly oppose.

  5. Stimp says:

    Excellent. Lukewarm support of unions by self-declared liberals (“Well, unions once served a purpose but …”) is a main reason why I don’t call myself a liberal. Bottom line is, employers have grown bigger and that means individual workers need unions more than ever before.

    Imagine an individual approaching his employer, a huge corporation with thousands of employees, to ask for a raise or express a grievance. The worker has no power in that situation. That’s why she needs a union, to combine her power with that of her co-workers so that her concerns might be taken seriously.

    • jackjodell53 says:

      You took the words right out of my mouth. Labor unions are needed here, in Canada, in CHINA, MEXICO, BANGLADESH, and in THE PHILIPPINES moreso than ever before! Everywhere corporations have set up shop there should be a union there to protect against exploitation!

  6. Gwendolyn H. Barry says:

    With so much going wrong… and the Unions fighting to re-establish themselves… it’s a hardship to not get up and get out and demonstrate the side you are on. Actually Jack, I just put a piece by Robert Reich about the lack of ‘fight’ in our President…. it’s good reading. Like this post! Which side are you on? is a valuable question these days.

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