Saturday, August 13, 2011

Put The Life In Life

Saturdays are for kids and dogs and kites and bikes.  Well, at least that's true for those of us who happen to have a job, especially a union job.

For most of the rest of us, however, middle class life styles and values are as out of reach as the moon.  But it wasn't so long ago when we were a very different country.  We were building the Apollo Space Program, and on our way to the moon.  Indeed, it seemed very much within our reach, and it was; we got there.  Now, the average American is hard put to buy enough fuel to go around the block.  What went wrong?

Politics, in a word.  Liberal government did even better than merely rope the moon in the 60s.  It tackled the far more difficult moral imperatives of insuring  health care for the elderly, by inventing and establishing Medicare, and forever ending legal discrimination based on race.  To its everlasting shame, the Republican Party immediately undressed, right down to its naked core ugliness. 

The Nixonian  "southern strategy"  blatantly took aim at capitalizing on racism,  and succeeded in  electing the single most troubled and dysfunctional personality ever to occupy the White House.

The New Deal political coalition fractured.  It has been subsequently pounded into unrecognizable pieces by reactionary, right wing, anti-government rhetoric on every issue from the ERA ( Equal Rights Amendment, for women) to the restoration of economic vitality through stimulus spending.  The bigoted, hateful right has been so effective espousing sick and perverse positions, aimed at the scared and desperate, that many of the white working class (Teacaners) are now primed and poised to permanently impoverish themselves and their children by tearing up Social Security and Medicare.

The foundation upon which the middle class in this country was built and rested is largely gone.  Unemployment hardly ever registers in the national political conversation.  Labor standards are regarded as an impediment to the "holy sacrament" of hoary free trade. Taxes on the super-rich, or "economic royalists" as Franklin Delano Roosevelt called them, are simply "off the table."  Anti-growth, wrong-headed debt reduction spending cuts are the Belle of the Ball. The legal rights of workers to organize and collectively bargain to fend off abuses suffered courtesy of the insatiable gluttony of the corporate class have all but evaporated.

Today, unions are rare coins.  Hard to come by and precious.  Thursday night I had the pleasure of attending our  monthly union meeting.  Fewer and fewer have that opportunity anymore, so I take advantage of it as often as I can,  and am always cognizant of my good fortune.  As a result of my union's efforts, which put the life into life, I can go out and enjoy this glorious Saturday.  I wish it were so for all of us.

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