Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Modern Gladiatorial Games: American worker against American worker

Posted By on Tue, Jun 21, 2011 at 12:22 PM

Wall Street owns the country. It is no longer a government of the people, by the people, and for the people, but a government of Wall Street, by Wall Street. - Mary Ellen Lease, Kansas populist, political activist, women’s suffrage advocate (from a speech in 1890)

From time to time we hear the warning phrases, “The Founding Fathers must be turning over in their graves,” or “What must the Founding Fathers think?”

Honestly? I don’t much care. They had their turn at bat, and they set the bar for the rest of us. As flawed as they were, they pulled off some pretty magnificent deeds, and yes, I believe that our country was lucky to have such individuals at the helm. I also don’t believe that Heaven was guiding them in any way, shape or form - which probably sets me at odds with the David Bartons of the world, I suppose.

But there may be other eyes looking upon us, and, if not passing judgment, perhaps wondering just how the hell we got into the situation we are in today.

Cesar Chavez

Mary Harris "Mother" Jones

Eugene V. Debs

Samuel Gompers

Wesley Everest

Karen Silkwood

Crystal Lee Sutton ( the inspiration for the film Norma Rae)

More so than the Founding Fathers, these are my personal heroes. Men and women without wealth and privilege, with families to feed, working in conditions which would send most of us today running for the hills, they still still shoulder-to-shoulder with their fellow Americans to make life better for all Americans.

They knew that when one American worker was threatened, all were threatened.


Try massacred, Bemused Reader, or hanged, or beaten, or driven from their homes, all so that your children don’t have to work in the mines and you don’t have to die in factory fires.

Funny thing about those child labor laws. In at least two states in the country, child labor laws are being “adjusted” by Republican legislatures and governors. Not only can those fresh young bodies work longer hours on school days, but they can also work for less money.

In a period when so many adults are out-of-work, this is nothing short of economic suicide, yet so few are paying attention. Hey, my kid might get some work! Boy, my brother/sister can’t find work.

No connection there, just move along now.

The corporate-owned media seems to have finally turned the tide as far as reporting on the pay and benefits that working class Americans receive. So many seem to follow the line that these “outrageous” benefits have dragged companies down, and yet when the matter of CEO pay (or executive pay in general pay) andf bonuses comes up, people’s eyes often glaze over.

The tragic thing is that so many ordinary men and women now seem to believe the same thing, men and women themselves punch a time-clock every day.

One may as well be talking about two different universes.

So instead of folks saying, “You know, I deserve better pay and benefits for what I am doing,” we have a new Pavlonian response - “Damn those unions!”

Some stare dispassionately while these events play out, believing it will never happen in their town, and some actually cheer on events, as though believing their fellow working men and women have brought this down on themselves.

Taking benefits away from public employees? Hey, who cares? Collective bargaining? So what? Doesn’t affect me.

Governors taking down murals honoring labor? Maybe they just don’t like the art.

Dismantling safety rules? Well, it doesn’t affect the industry I work in. Puss the butter.

Everything has a ripple effect, and the ripples just get larger, not smaller, because once monsters see what they can get away with, and how little it gets reported in the press, it’s all over, folks.

And then there are the attacks on voting rights in this country. which is well a whole other blog in itself

Pastor Martin Niemöller famous once spoke about what was happening in his country:

First they came for the communists,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a communist.

Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Jews,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a Jew.

Then they came for me
and there was no one left to speak out for me.

This isn’t Nazi Germany, and I doubt it ever will be, but we are all connected.

Everyone works hard to today to support their families. The neat trick is, though, is that one fine day in the near future, that may be all that a lot of Americans will be doing - if they are working at all.

But having any kind of voice in their own country?

Fugetabouit . . .


Quote of the Day

Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius - and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction. — Albert Einstein




Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

More by Richard Drake

  • Obviously, Tom Terminella and I have been living in two different Fayettevilles

    Tom Terminella, one of two men hoping to unseat Mayor Lioneld Jordan, seems to have been living in a different Fayetteville than I have for the past two decades.
    • Oct 27, 2016
  • The Man Without a Country

    Obviously he wasn’t really a man without a country, but considering the tenor of the times, even in a place like Fayetteville, it is understandable that he might be reluctant to reveal too much to a stranger.
    • Oct 22, 2016
  • Boozman the Barbarian

    Arkansas Senator John Boozman always seems to come across as the mildest of men, but one of his most recent ads puts me in mind of the famous exchange from the 1982 John Milius directed Conan the Barbarian. 
    • Oct 17, 2016
  • More »

Most Shared

  • Issue 3: blank check

    Who could object to a constitutional amendment "concerning job creation, job expansion and economic development," which is the condensed title for Issue 3 for Arkansas voters on Nov. 8?
  • Little Rock police kill man downtown

    Little Rock police responding to a disturbance call near Eighth and Sherman Streets about 12:40 a.m. killed a man with a long gun, Police Chief Kenton Buckner said in an early morning meeting with reporters.
  • From the mind of Sol LeWitt: Crystal Bridges 'Loopy Doopy': A correction

    Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art is installing Sol Lewitt's 70-foot eye-crosser "Wall Drawing 880: Loopy Doopy," waves of complementary orange and green, on the outside of the Twentieth Century Gallery bridge. You can glimpse painters working on it from Eleven, the museum's restaurant, museum spokeswoman Beth Bobbitt said
  • Ted Suhl loses another bid for new trial; faces stiff sentencing recommendation

    Ted Suhl, the former operator of residential and out-patient mental health services, has lost a second bid to get a new trial on his conviction for paying bribes to influence state Human Services Department policies. Set for sentencing Thursday, Suhl faces a government request for a sentence up to almost 20 years. He argues for no more than 33 months.
  • Football and foster kids

    It took a football stadium to lay bare Republican budget hypocrisy in Arkansas.

Visit Arkansas

Jodi Morris's lifelong ties to the National Park Service

Jodi Morris's lifelong ties to the National Park Service

"History is always happening" at Little Rock Central High School National Historic Site

Most Viewed



© 2016 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation