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Fox and Friends Guest Janie Johnson Celebrates Labor Day with Praise for Unregulated Capitalism

Reported by Alex - September 6, 2010 -

Today was Labor Day, the holiday dedicated to the working men and women of the trade and labor movements. Labor Day was declared a federal holiday in 1894 after the deaths of workers at the hands of US marshals during the infamous Pullman Strike. The original proposal for Labor Day suggested parades to honor "the strength and esprit de corps of the trade and labor organizations," followed by picnics and other celebrations by and for the workers and their families. While most parades have pretty much fallen by the wayside, Labor Day is still a day for picnics and barbecues – but more importantly, it still retains much of its original character in the form of speeches and addresses by trade union officials and others, saluting the ordinary American worker.

So who did Fox and Friends interview today, in honor of those who struggled or died so that workers would have the right to safe working conditions, reasonable hours, and a decent living wage? Janie Johnson, a rightwing dimwit who wrote a book celebrating the wonders of free market capitalism and the virtue of instilling its principles in the minds of our young children, that’s who.

It was wall-to-wall blondes in red in the Fox studio this morning as Courtney Friel introduced us to the author of Don’t Take My Lemonade Stand: an American Philosophy,a paean to free market capitalism aimed at parents and their children. Janie’s bio suggests that she is well placed indeed to sing its praises: white, blonde (the curtains, anyway); a former junior tennis champion and later top-100 professional who traveled extensively; a college graduate; married to a man she describes as “an entrepreneur, a real estate investor, a turnaround specialist, and a former Fortune 500 company President” and author of “a best selling business book, CEO Logic.” Although she comes from a family of 9 kids, I haven’t run across anything to suggest that they were anything other than comfortable (listen here, for example).

It is from the vantage point of this life of good fortune and well-being – and dare I say it, privilege (has she ever held down an ordinary job?)– that Janie considers herself qualified to preach about how capitalism is just dandy, how it’s “time to take back our country” (yawn) and how “Common Sense Conservatism” hold the key to achieving that. But it’s all good, because Janie admits she’s

“not an expert. I am just an informed American citizen (who has done her homework) [sic] who is not satisfied with the direction of our country or the way in which it is currently being governed,” and who was “not particularly politically motivated (other than to cast an informed vote) until I saw the current level of out-of-control government spending, excessive regulation, unimaginable debt, private company bailouts by the government, attempt to take over healthcare by the federal government, and weakness on defense and terrorism.”
Oh, and she says she’s not a Tea Party member. I say, if it walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck

One of her press releases (recognize the PR lady's name?) tells us that

Don't Take My Lemonade Stand: An American Philosophy teaches parents how to protect children from Liberals and their Progressive policies. The book includes 51 captioned illustrations by veteran Disney artist Roy Wilson and Questions for Kids at the end of each section.
Wait a minute… doesn’t Janie’s website say that she wants kids to learn to think for themselves? Sure it does…oh, but wait! There’s more!:
Don't Take My Lemonade Stand - An American Philosophy has special sections to help parents teach their kids to think for themselves. Use it to take control of who teaches our kids and what they are being taught.
Yep, that’s the way to do it! CONTROL who teaches our kids and what they’re being taught, and don’t let them countenance Libruls and their evul Progressive policies! That’ll make independent thinkers of ‘em, all right!

This is pretty much what she spouted today on Fox and Friends – along with the facile claim that capitalism was given to us by the Founders, the hilarious one that capitalism is a force for social justice, and “when my son asked me how you know who to vote for, I told him ‘you vote for whoever gives the government less money’” - so let’s move along, nothing new to see here.

Let’s return to Labor Day and the trade union movement. As I mentioned at the beginning this post, Labor Day was established in the wake of anti-worker violence by American marshals and military. This is a story worth telling.

The late 1800’s were a time of social upheaval and economic crisis. In 1894, following decades of violence across America against men and women who tried to organize for better conditions, and in the face of the crippling economic depression which began in 1893, the factory workers of Pullman, Illinois’ Pullman Car Company walked out in protest over wage reductions by the very company that controlled – and refused to reduce – the rents and utility charges in the company-owned tenement development that housed those workers. This was a situation that was common across America during the rapid rise of industrialized capitalism; many workers lived in near-feudal conditions, in “company towns” not unlike some contemporary arrangements in China that leave us gasping in horror over our morning coffee.

Pullman had already cut his workforce drastically, leaving the unemployed to the charity of alms-givers and poorhouses. From the workers he allowed to remain, he demanded a wage cut of 25% while still paying hefty dividends to his shareholders and big fat salaries to the top executives. In desperation, after negotiations failed, the workers initiated a strike.

The Pullman strike was the spark that lit the wildfire of a massive railway boycott, involving 250,000 workers across 27 states, that almost brought American industry to its knees. Not only could goods not be transported, but neither could the mail. The result was a Federal writ that prohibited any action that advocated, aided or abetted the strike, since it constituted, in the eyes of anti-union Federal judges, "conspiracy to interfere with passage of U.S. mails." 12,000 troops and marshals were involved in putting down the strike, with 13 deaths and 57 casualties among the workers. (Read more here and here).

1894 was an election year, and President Grover Cleveland had a big problem on his hands, with growing protests against the harsh putdown of the strike. So, in order to appease the unions and calm public criticism, President Cleveland rushed a bill through Congress declaring Labor Day a federal holiday, six days after the Pullman strike was broken.

So here we are, 116 years after the first "official" Labor Day, a holiday born of the literal blood, sweat and tears of ordinary laborers, and Fox trots out a cookie-cutter rightwing Mom to tell us why free market (read “unregulated”) capitalism is The Bizness.

Message to Fox and Friends, and Janie: This is not the day for your “I’ve-got-mine” propaganda. This is a day to remember the many unfortunate men, women and children who died under the yoke of 16-hour workdays in suffocating, boiling or freezing conditions, their bodies dwarfed or warped by malnutrition, or poisoned by noxious fumes and toxic dusts. It’s a day to be thankful that some Americans who came before us struggled - some dying - for justice, and that our system, flawed as it is, allowed for legislation to bring such practices on a wide scale to an end. Yep, it’s a day to be grateful for the existence of men and women with social justice or (God forbid!) Socialist sensibilities, who clamored for and won government interference in the practices of free market capitalism. Thanks to them, millions of us, who might otherwise be toiling under horrendous conditions, have the health and opportunity to enjoy end-of-summer picnics and barbecues.

But you won’t hear that on Fox News, who spent the week running up to Labor Day dissing organized labor at every opportunity.

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