Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Walking The Line, 2013

Tea bag Republicans have shut down the federal government in a quixotic attempt to overturn settled law that they philosophically disagree with. By doing so, they have thrown out of work 800,000 federal workers and risk economic disruption in the fifth year of a weak economic recovery following the financial meltdown of 2007-2008. The high unemployment rate, skewed low by under counting the dispirited long term unemployed that have given up on full time employment, are just numbers that obscure the real and lasting pain of the wounded middle class.

Why? To prevent millions of uninsured Americans from obtaining affordable health insurance. And, this unconscionable malevolence is supported by about a third of the voting public, counter to their own self interest. These "low information" voters, Fox News viewers by and large, have been duped into believing the lies of radical conservative big money interests. These lies, that the Affordable Care Act is somehow a mortal threat to the American way of life, whither under the slightest critical examination, but it is to no avail.

This is the backdrop to the oppression that middle class workers and union members are being subjected to. Union membership has dwindled with the exporting of good middle class jobs, and public unions are being scapegoated by the anti tax radicals that want nothing more than to bleed government dry by changing the tax laws to favor those same big money interests at the expense of necessary services at every level of government.

Stagehands at Carnegie Hall went on strike today. They have worked without a contact for a while now, negotiations broke down, and today they started picketing. My union, in sympathy with the stagehands, went out as well, and today I walked the picket line for a bit with the strikers.

New York City has a strong pro union history, but it sure isn't what it used to be. Sparse news coverage, consisting of press releases from management, passes for journalism in the corporate controlled media of today. Manhattan, gentrified city that it is, seems indifferent to the plight of workers. Walking the picket line as the public, disinterested and annoyed, passes by the strikers unmoved and uncaring, it's jarring to see firsthand what the past several decades have done to the union movement, even on what was once its home turf.

What hope is there for the middle class, when basic rights, dignity and respect and freedom from economic oppression are being actively attacked by a significant portion of the political class?

Not much, I'm afraid.

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