Misdirection and Attacks Amid the Union Protests

By February 28, 2011Labor Unions

From AP, Nevada, “NV Rally Supports Fight vs. Wis. Anti-Union Bill“:

CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) – More than 100 protesters turned out in Carson City to support thousands of public workers who’ve set up camp at the Wisconsin Capitol to fight Republican-backed legislation aimed at weakening unions.The Nevada Appeal of Carson City reports protesters waved signs in front of the Legislative Building on Saturday and chanted “Money for Kids, not for Koch.”

We can imagine the exchange.

Hey, you here for the protest? Great! Now take this sign and chant along with us.

OK. Sure. Who are the Kochs?

Doesn’t matter. Just wave the sign.

Um, all right. Boo, boo!

If ever you want to see a cynical PR campaign in operation, take a look at the coordinated rallies in state capitals organized by the labor unions. All around the country, unions protested Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s efforts to control state spending by limits on collective bargaining for public employees.

There was a consistent talking shouting point: Unions built the middle class! In New Jersey, New York, Tennessee, even at the Oscars, the rhetoric was all the same.

It’s misdirection.  AFSCME and the SEIU did not build the middle class.  Even if one agrees that industrial unions contributed to rising private sector wages in the 1950s, the growth of American middle class had next to nothing to do with public sector employees and collective bargaining. Those unions took off with the explosion of state and local governments in the ’60s and later.

The rallies also featured a consistent target: Charles and David Koch of Koch Industries. Labor’s modus operandi requires picking a target to attack, personalizing their campaigns by demonizing an individual, or in this case individuals. You fire up the troops and discourage a more reasoned discussion of the issues. This time the target is the Kochs.

As John Hinderaker, a Washington, D.C., attorney who blogs at the Powerline blog, wrote at AOLNews, “The Left’s Unhealthy Koch Habit,” “[Many] liberals have engaged in what can only be characterized as a vicious campaign to drive them out of public life.” (See also Hinderaker: “Who are the Demons Here?” and “The Left’s War on the Kochs.“)

Hinderaker’s co-blogger, Scott Johnson, noted the anti-Koch campaign gained purchase with a hit piece last summer in The New Yorker,The billionaire Koch brothers’ war against Obama,” and there’s virtually no truth in the assault against them.

Clearly. When the high point of your PR campaign is a blogger’s dishonest phone call, you know the point isn’t truth but disinformation. When your slogan is a shouted “Koch whore!” you know the point isn’t information but incitement.

The Koch brothers are keeping their own counsel, as is their wont, but two of the company’s executives talked to Robert Costa of The National Review Online:

“With the Left trying to intimidate the Koch brothers to back off of their support for freedom and signaling to others that this is what happens if you oppose the administration and its allies, we have no choice but to continue to fight,” says Richard Fink, the executive vice president of Koch Industries. “We will not step back at all. We firmly believe that economic freedom has benefited the overwhelming majority of society, including workers, who earn higher wages when you have open and free markets. When government grows as it has with the Bush and Obama administrations, that is what destroys prosperity.”

That’s a mainstream American point of view (we hope), one which the Kochs promote through political activity and contributions. Long may they prosper.

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