Yes, these are dire political times. Many who optimistically hoped for real change have spent nearly five years under the cold downpour of political reality. Here at CounterPunch we’ve always aimed to tell it like it is, without illusions or despair. That’s why so many of you have found a refuge at CounterPunch and made us your homepage. You tell us that you love CounterPunch because the quality of the writing you find here in the original articles we offer every day and because we never flinch under fire. We appreciate the support and are prepared for the fierce battles to come.
Unlike other outfits, we don’t hit you up for money every month … or even every quarter. We ask only once a year. But when we ask, we mean it.
CounterPunch’s website is supported almost entirely by subscribers to the print edition of our magazine. We aren’t on the receiving end of six-figure grants from big foundations. George Soros doesn’t have us on retainer. We don’t sell tickets on cruise liners. We don’t clog our site with deceptive corporate ads.
The continued existence of CounterPunch depends solely on the support and dedication of our readers. We know there are a lot of you. We get thousands of emails from you every day. Our website receives millions of hits and nearly 100,000 readers each day. And we don’t charge you a dime.
Please, use our brand new secure shopping cart to make a tax-deductible donation to CounterPunch today or purchase a subscription our monthly magazine and a gift sub for someone or one of our explosive books, including the ground-breaking Killing Trayvons. Show a little affection for subversion: consider an automated monthly donation. (We accept checks, credit cards, PayPal and cold-hard cash….)
To contribute by phone you can call Becky or Deva toll free at: 1-800-840-3683
Thank you for your support,
Jeffrey, Joshua, Becky, Deva, and Nathaniel
CounterPunch PO Box 228, Petrolia, CA 95558
The Whistle-Blower as Deep Mole
There’s an intriguing idea based loosely on the turn-of-the-century union practice of “salting” a workplace. Salting consists of union activists secretly hiring into an anti-union shop in order to promote unionism from within. It’s a technique that was used fairly often prior to passage of the Wagner Act (1935), and though not widely publicized, is still used today.
Union organizers standing outside a Wal-Mart store, diligently passing out pro-union pamphlets to employees, don’t stand much of a chance of making their case, not with all the mandatory anti-union propaganda that the under-paid and under-benefited Wal-Mart employees are regularly exposed to. Plus, management has surveillance cameras set up in the parking lot to ferret out any union organizers looking to indoctrinate employees.
But picture a Wal-Mart store “salted” with AFL-CIO activists who are able to approach their fellow employees individually and on the sly, and show them all the advantages of joining a labor union. Without management people attempting to demonize the labor movement at every turn, it becomes a whole other deal.
The intriguing idea we speak of is to “salt” places like chemical plants, insurance companies, defense plants, Wall Street firms, pharmaceutical labs, police departments, etc., with designated, pre-programmed whistle-blowers for the sole purpose of exposing illegal or unethical activities. Relying on home-grown, “accidental” whistle-blowers isn’t enough. They will forever be outgunned and outmanned.
As we all know, despite laws “protecting” the garden variety whistle-blower, he or she is almost always met with retaliation or ignominy. It’s a risky venture. Moreover, whistle-blowing is usually a byproduct of employee disillusionment or outrage, which, even in extreme instances, can be readily neutralized by fear of job loss. With their economic futures at stake, people are more apt to simply look the other way than “turn traitor.” It will be totally different with trained cadres doing this work.
Indeed, the word “whistle-blower” is probably unsuitable for our purposes, since, basically, what we’re talking about is hiring spies. And the idea of utilizing spies is far from original. Animal rights groups have successfully “salted” meat processing plants and “factory farms” for years.
In fact, animal rights people have been so successful in exposing inhumane conditions, not only have companies required employees to sign versions of “loyalty oaths,” but some states have even passed laws against do-gooder spies, which on its face, seems preposterous. A state passes a law making it illegal for a person to become a cop in order to expose rampant corruption in a police department? Really?
But instead of a handful of PETA people working at a chicken plant in Arkansas, what if it were expanded a thousand-fold? What if there were thousands of idealistic people across the country infiltrating companies and institutions that were engaged in mischief? An infiltrator reporting a pharmaceutical company’s fake test results. A defense contractor overcharging the taxpayers. Racism practiced by a police department.
While one can understand making it illegal for a “spy” to pass on company secrets to a competitor, it’s hard to reconcile punishing someone for wanting to expose malfeasance. In the 1950s you would be praised for spying on Communists; in the 1960s, you would be praised for spying on the Ku Klux Klan. What’s the difference between that and spying on a Wall Street firm that seeks to screw over the American public?
David Macaray is a labor columnist and author (“It’s Never Been Easy: Essays on Modern Labor, 2nd Edition). Dmacaray@earthlink.net