The Rhetoric of Being Reduced to a Worker

Listen closely the next time you hear President Obama speak of the American wage-earner and you’ll realize he uses ‘worker,’ verses ‘employee,’ nearly every time. And while some may say it’s accidental or meaningless, it is interesting to note that ‘worker’ is used in the Marxist or leftist contexts to refer to the ‘working class.’

As Obama stated in February 2008, “Don’t tell me words don’t matter!”

  • “I haven’t looked at Staples’ stock lately or what the compensation of the CEO is, but I suspect that they could well afford to treat their workers favorably and give them some basic financial security.”
  • “That would put our workers and our businesses at a disadvantage.”
  • “Today, we’re the only advanced country on Earth that doesn’t guarantee paid sick leave or paid maternity leave to our workers.”
  • “The average minimum wage worker is 35 years old.”
  • “I’ve shared the pain of families who’ve lost their homes, and the frustration of workers who’ve lost their jobs.”
  • “Now you have a choice: we can give more tax breaks to corporations that ship jobs overseas, or we can start rewarding companies that open new plants and train new workers and create new jobs here, in the United States of America.”
  • “Pass this jobs bill, and starting tomorrow, small businesses will get a tax cut if they hire new workers or raise workers’ wages.”
  • “When CEOs are making more in ten minutes than the average worker earns in a year…”
  • “But I’ve made a different bet on American workers.”
  • “We got workers and automakers to settle their differences.”
  • “We bet on American workers.”
  • “That’s why we’ve kept on pushing trade deals, but trade deals that make sure that American workers are getting a good deal.”
  • “But I guarantee you I don’t meet a single worker in Iowa who’s been laid off who says, ‘I wouldn’t rather pay a little bit more for sneakers at Wal-Mart but still have a job.'”
  • “The troubles, the difficulties, the burdens of globalization are going to be placed on the backs of workers.”
  • “The Earned Income Tax Credit provides low-wage workers with supplemental income through the tax code should be expanded and streamlined so more families can take advantage of it.”

Only once can I find Obama speaking of ‘employees:  “I will issue an Executive Order requiring federal contractors to pay their federally-funded employees a fair wage of at least $10.10 an hour–because if you cook our troops’ meals or wash their dishes, you shouldn’t have to live in poverty.”

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