Friday, September 23, 2011

The value of work

Recently, I defriended someone because after tolerating years of their right wing rants, they went over the edge and started harassing people who didn't agree with them. In the same week, I limited access to my wall to someone else who was bashing immigrants, and was proud of it. This week I was appalled when someone thought it okay to criticize day care workers who might want to organize. They were surprised when I disagreed with them. Let me be clear about a few things, so I don't have to continually argue the same points over and over again on my wall.

I believe that our faltering economy was caused by corporate greed and is now being balanced on the backs of workers. The GOP is driving the car over the cliff and the Democrats are too afraid of their shadows to truly challenge them. The American public is inexplicably unable to discern the truth.

Our nation depends on the low wages of undocumented workers. Anyone who eats fruit; eats at a restaurant; lives in a new home; hires a gardener; etc., etc. has probably reaped the benefits of an undocumented worker.

Most of us descend from immigrants, yet this nation has persecuted immigrants almost as long as there have been immigrants. If you don't believe this, ask the Welsh, Irish, Germans, Italians, Jews, Chinese, Japanese, etc. This doesn't include forced immigrants from Africa. Demonizing immigrants isn't the answer, to any of our nation's problems.

Anyone who doesn't believe in organized labor, or the value of unions, hasn't been paying attention to the assault on workers orchestrated by the corporate class. Worker protection laws exist only as long as people care. If you look at what happened in Wisconsin earlier this year you'll see that the GOP stripped workers if their rights as soon as they thought no one was looking. Today is different. People have forgotten the struggles that won the protections for the workers. I invite you to sit with me for day here at the Department of Labor and answer some of the heartbreaking calls we get from people who people who need help. Many of them could use a Union.

Someone has to pick up the garbage, pick the fruit, take care of small children, etc. Not everyone can be a surgeon or an investment banker - but everyone deserves a chance to make a living with dignity and the ability to have a better life.

I’m fed up with the b.s. of people arguing on my FB wall. So, today I'm throwing down the gauntlet. Please, find a way to disagree with this: Proverbs 14:23 “In all labor there is profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty.” If you do disagree, how would you work to make things better?

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Sunday, September 11, 2011

My 9/11 Story

Ten years ago at this time, I was driving west on the Schuylkill Expressway and was near the Conshohocken Curve when news of the first airplane crashing into the World Trade Center was reported on WHYY. Like most people, I wondered what was going on. Could it have been an accident like the plane that hit the Empire State Building in the 40’s? That thought was quickly dispelled when I heard about the second plane striking.

I pulled over to call my office and was told that they were being told to evacuate the federal building I worked in. I called home to check on my wife and my two week old son. After talking with my wife, I decided to continue driving to Scranton to meet with the company officials for my onsite inspection. They were going to be there working so I thought I should be there too. I made my inspection and went to find some road crews working in the Pocono Mountains that had been told I would be there to interview them. We all talked about what was happening, but the events in New York and Washington seemed very far away. I drove home from the mountains having made my appointed rounds listening to the news all the way, but I was stunned by what I saw on the television.

To this day, I regret not going home and being with my wife and son. I felt I had a commitment to be were I said I would, and nothing seemed to be happening in Pennsylvania.What I saw that day was people working, and trying to get their jobs done. I went out the next day to finish the inspection and I saw those same people, but the look in their eyes was the different: some how the world had changed.

My thoughts and prayers go out to those who lost their lives that day, and to the first responders. I pray for the families that lost loved ones. I pray for all of us that the world is a better place. I hope that some good comes from this tragedy that we all shared.


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