Monday, September 3, 2007

Labor Pains on Labor Day

Speaking of labor: of chores that I don't enforce, of the labor I give to students that goes unappreciated, the labor and delivery of the teenager in my life, the labor of my forebears in the feminist and civil rights movement that I forget to appreciate now and then, the labor that my fellow Americans deliver to bosses who tell them that unions are evil, the labor it took to get unions at all in this country, the deaths of labor organizers, forgotten by workers, and to the labor of doctors and nurses ensnared in the American medical mess who are as much victims of insurance companies as the rest of us. Speaking of all this labor gives me pains.

How can workers in the country still believe that unions are anti-American? Unions are the only way for workers in a capitalist system to have any kind of check on the power of CEOs. And workers give this power away because of the fear of name calling. Oh, yeah. It's the high school bully's tactic, and we all know there's some power in it. Defying that kind of behavior takes real courage. It's words like "un-American," "Pinky," "Red," or "Commie" that makes an otherwise sound man weak in his knees. But selling your country's wealth to the man in the suit or selling your children's economic future to the CEO or to the discumbobulated, misinformed, or, worse, aware-of-what-he's-doing politician-in-someone's-pocket all because if you don't get in line, someone might point to you and call you a name is not only lazy reasoning, it's yellow-bellied treason in my book. Now that's unAmerican.

Scanning the blogs, I read Andy Stern on the Huffington Post. Stern thinks unions are the only hope for restoring the American Dream. "Unions have always been the best anti-poverty, best pro-health care, best pro-family program around. Unions have done more to help working people experience economic success than any other program." He reminds us, "Private equity CEOs are making on average more than $650 million -- or more than 22,000 times what the average American worker brings in." Will workers ever get this? Do they care? What's up with that? Maybe we all need to get out to Wal-mart and make it a personal goal to get Wal-marties unionized. Lord knows, they won't be able to do it themselves. Forgive me good people, but you're living in the monster's mansion.

Labor's not the only thing giving me a pain today. That people are demanding universal health insurance drives me crazy. That's like demanding a middle man to take a cut and a profit from some travesty you've experienced. There is no way to curtail the profit-mongering from the insurance hierarchy. There is no answer except that which gives the insurance-scheming industry a quick death. Socialized medicine is the only way to go. That's it, and it's not un-American. Actually, it's the same thing. It's still paying into a system in which if something bad happens you'll be treated. The only difference is that instead of pitching into a private, profit-centered system, it'll be a public, non-profit one.

Time for a Tylenol.

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