Invisibility_Essay

Invisibility_Essay - ILRCB 3060 Invisibility It is beyond...

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ILRCB 3060 Invisibility?
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It is beyond dispute that the working class in the United States has lost wealth and influence over the past couple of decades. With highest worker wages coming in the mid 70’s, for those concerned with the working class it is appropriate to ask why has this phenomenon occurred? But maybe a better question for a young adult such as this author, having come to political age in a period where power comes less from the political parties and increasingly through lobbing and special interests, is how did the working class get its interests heard? The answer, of course, is through solidarity. Organized labor from the 30’s up until the mid 70’s was the leading advocate for working class people regardless of whether they were unionized or not, by getting Americans a weekend, living wage, safe working conditions, and a 40 hour week. Along with favorable legislation such as the Wagner Act, union expansion was a byproduct of working people coming together to build wages and communities. Being a nation of immigrants, even the wealthiest of families today had forefathers in the working class, thus how the working class is treated today will directly impact our nation’s future. This paper will argue that since the 80’s working people have become invisible not just to Washington but also to the social fabric of today’s society. The fundamental reason for invisibility has been the lack of solidarity displayed by working class people in light of their political, social, and organizing realities. Even before Regan became elected to the Presidency, he had a damaging affect on the working class by perfecting George Wallace’s ability to pit races against each other. In his speech, called “The Speech,” Regan was able to paint the poor as the aggressors rather than the victims. His negative portrayal of these individuals was exemplified when he addressed the food stamp program by saying that it allowed “some fellow ahead of you to buy T-bone steak while you were standing in a checkout line
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with your package of hamburger” (Edsall 148). The Governor also enjoyed discussing “welfare queens” that made false identifications to earn six figure annual incomes (Edsall 148). These comments had significant implications, because even though more whites than blacks were on social programs-in 1980- 9% of white families were considered poor versus 30% of black ones- welfare programs had a larger impact percentage-wise on the African American community (Edsall 118). Regan made these programs appear to be corrupt and for “other” individuals when in fact they became necessary as the bottom quintile of American workers got a smaller piece of the pie. Through race baiting, by 1980 “national support for increased spending to improve the condition of blacks fell to a record low, 24%” (Edsall 152). Regan did more than talk to divide working class people, as governor of California he supported
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This essay was uploaded on 02/01/2009 for the course ILRCB 3060 taught by Professor Cowiej during the Fall '08 term at Cornell.

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Invisibility_Essay - ILRCB 3060 Invisibility It is beyond...

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