Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Brick Laying

there was never a more romantic moment

A few decades ago, probably about the same moment that Congress passed the 1965 Voting Rights bill, people in the shadows started building a step by step agenda to somehow return America to a fantasy golden past where everything was, in some vague way, perfect.  You can view this past in any number of Hollywood movies.  I'd suggest, for starters, Picnic.  And William Holden?  He's the future, and the embodiment of all that the shadowy right wingers wanted to hold back, or turn back, or destroy. 

Flash forward to today.  Here's a link:

[A lot of my links you have to copy and paste into your browser, sorry.]

It's a small bit of news, just a little local story.  Teacher union in Wisconsin lays off staff.  It's just one more brick in the wall.  For all of the bad press, for all of the recalls, for all of the outraged public turnout in Wisconsin, the attack on unions there is working.  This little event, the layoffs, is a victory for the Kochs, for Governor Walker, for all those once shadowy people who started work on this way back when.  (And by the way, in North Carolina we were way way ahead of this particular curve, passing a "right to work" law way back in the '50s which has kept union strength at a minimum in NC ever since.  There's talk of union boycotts of next years Democratic Convention because it's meeting in Charlotte.  Nice move, Mr. Obama. 

It's sad that too many progressive minded folks just think they need to engage with the political every now and then, such as when a promising black candidate happens to be running against a doddering senator and his crazy-lady veep candidate.  All these little bricks add up.  Before you know it, you get a bridge all the way to President Rick Perry, and his landslide Congress supporters.  My guess is, there are still way more than a majority of American voters who do not want a return to the world of the '30s.  Only in the movies were hobos as romantic as a young William Holden.  And there was never anything romantic about bringing out the tanks against strikers.  Nor, for that matter, about strikes themselves--a gutwrenching last resort response to working conditions which the owner elite thought were merely what was needed to make a profit.  Complain about working conditions?  No problem, somebody else will take your job.  Mr. Perry has called for an end to all regulations, on the grounds that they are job-killers, one and all.  Get out the peach crate, lil sis needs it to stand on so's she can reach the levers on the machine. 

I read the other day that Mississippi is now being touted as an alternative labor market to China, that workers in Mississippi will now go to work for a wage only 30% above wages in China.  That's one plan for bringing jobs back to America.  It's Rick Perry's plan, long term.  It's the Koch plan, long term.  It's the iron will of owners who see their labor component as just one lump of coal, interchangeable with any other, a part of the process to be combusted towards the result: shiny products that pop out the other end of the building, one after the other.  For a good long time American government has held that vision at bay, because unions were strong enough to gain the ear of government, and because strikes and even bloodshed were too wrenching to the community to remain the solution to impossible working conditions. 

The people in the shadows did not agree, never agreed, toiled night and day to find new solutions to their problem, and today are succeeding.  That's what's happening. 

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