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Unions, Hamburgers, and America

I was directed to an op-ed piece today that was critical of the American worker, suggesting that they got what they deserved over the past thirty years. The author suggested that the American worker was both stupid and lazy, at least as far as economics and employment goes. Aside from being the standard left-wing cant, that people are stupid and need the left to look out for them, the author went on to conflate union membership with national prominence. To wit:

“Second, you bought into the myth that unions are the cause of America’s demise. You didn’t bother to learn America became a world power when union membership was at its peak. You didn’t bother to learn America became the envy of the world while 1 of every 3 Americans was a union member.”

There are at least two things wrong with his position. First, he commits the logical fallacy of post hoc, ergo propter hoc. Roughly translated, that means that after x, therefore because of x. Scientists might say that correlation does not prove causation. The point being, the author makes the assumption that because unions were well populated, that was the cause of America’s success on the world stage.
His second mistake is the failure to identify the real timing and cause of America’s rise to pre-eminence on the world stage. America first entered world events as a major force as a result of the Spanish-American War of 1898. The war was a conflict between Spain and the United States and ended with the Americans winning. The cause is often debated, but popularly has been held to be the sinking of the Maine in Havana harbor. After the sinking, political pressures from the Democratic Party pushed the government of President William McKinley, a Republican, into a war McKinley had wished to avoid.

The ten-week war was fought in both the Caribbean and the Pacific. The war marked American entry into world affairs. Since then, the U.S. has played a part in many conflicts around the world. The U.S. entered a lengthy and prosperous period of economic and population growth, and gained several island possessions spanning the globe and new debates over the wisdom of imperialism.

At the same time, America was undergoing a gastronomic revolution, of sorts. Around the same time as the Spanish-American War, a guy named Fletcher Davis is believed to have sold hamburgers at his café at Athens, Texas in the late 1880s, then brought them to the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair. There is some dispute about the origins, with some people claiming a different guy, but still around the same time.

Roughly simultaneously, someone introduced the hot dog to America. The idea of a hot dog on a bun is ascribed by some to Anton Ludwig Feuchtwanger, a Bavarian sausage seller, who is said to have served sausages in rolls at the World’s Fair–either the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago or the 1904 Louisiana Purchase Exposition in St Louis– allegedly because the white gloves he gave to customers so that they could eat his hot sausages in comfort began to disappear as souvenirs.

I believe that far from being the result of union influence, America’s rise to greatness can be attributed to the hamburger and the hot dog. Both started around the same time, and grew in parallel. As a matter of fact, it was in the sixties, with an increase in vegetarianism that America’s fortunes began to decline. That, and the claims that red meat and processed meats were bad for one’s health. At the same time, Americans began eating more esoteric fare, like sushi and quiche. One from Japan, defeated in WWII, and one from France, which surrendered in WWII. On a side note, our current threat, the Islamic jihadists, refuse to eat hot-dogs, at least the ones made with pork. Perhaps that points towards our eventual triumph!

Only when Americans man up, or more properly, cowboy up, and eat more hamburgers and hot dogs will we regain our pre-eminent position in the world.

Categories: Uncategorized
  1. M Porter
    April 3, 2011 at 9:28 pm

    Coney dogs or Chicago? Do burgers without buns count? Please help me be the best American I can be!

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