D L Henderson
2 min readJun 17, 2019


Paternalism Is a word found in Industrial Democracy discussions. I first heard it posed in a question, “ How much should we trust in paternalism?” I suppose we could substitute maternalism in the same question.


noun: paternalism

  1. the policy or practice on the part of people in positions of authority of restricting the freedom and responsibilities of those subordinate to them in the subordinates’ supposed best interest.: “the arrogance and paternalism that underlies cradle-to-grave employment contracts”.

Daddy and Mommy used to take care of us. Maybe our trust in them wasn’t justified because of whatever made them good or bad parents, but it is inherent nature to completely trust in them. That is why it hurts so much when that innocence is betrayed (and vice versa).

So, the ideal is rare and life is usually a mix of expectations and disappointments. Oh, to find the grace in ourselves to forgive one another!

Anyways, too often we transfer our trust and dependence to other figures of authority — even to strangers. A little candy or sweet talk can lead astray even relatively smart folks.

For example, in discussions with Unions, it can be difficult to convince people Employers don’t always have Employees’ best interests in mind. When push comes to shove, they usually shove…

Politicians are no better, and the Founding Fathers warned against paternalism in that they established a very limited government.

Unfortunately, I have found, whether in industrial democracy (Unions) or national democracy, people trust so much they participate little, know little about the workings of government, and trust way too much in their benevolence toward them. Big Brother? No. It’s more like Big Daddy.

The “Me Too” movement ought to be forewarned of the temptation to let power go to their heads. There were plenty of women yelling, “Lock her up!” and without knowing the facts…any facts for that matter…

They have come late to the party. And that party has become more like a circus.

I voted for Reagan’s second term. I knew he was going to harm us domestically (I was paying attention), but I also realized he was on track to end the Cold War. I voted for H.W.Bush, but then for Clinton. My parents were Eisenhower Republicans. They would be aghast at today’s aberration.

I blame the citizens who are quite frankly no-nothings who have absolute trust in strangers they have never met who lie constantly and those trusting folks swallow it — hook, line, and sinker. If in fact those lies were truth, I’d be right there with them.


We had a joke in the Labor Movement:

“How do you know when Management is lying?

When they open their mouths.”

You can modify that probably in all sorts of situations:

“How can you tell when politicians are lying?”

“How can you tell when golfers are lying?”




D L Henderson

Born 1950; HS 1968; Born again 1972; Cornell ILR; Steward, Local President/Business Agent; Husband, father, grandfather; winner/loser/everything in between