Monday, February 28, 2011


Before we had unions people were completely dependent on their employers to treat them fairly and pay them for the work they did. Workers were most often the last consideration for safety and medical attention when they were injured on the job and when they were of no more use to their employer. They didn't have a pension, a savings account they contributed to all of their lives, to help them in their old age.

Women were often pressured into accepting unwanted advances if they wanted to keep their jobs. And they were paid far less for their work than their male co-workers.

Safety standards were often the least of employer's considerations if it interfered with their bottom line. The wealth they gathered because of their workers was often foolishly spent instead of spending a good portion of their profits on improving safety standards and offering fair wages. This is nothing new.

Simple things like fire escapes weren't even required. And many people died in fires because of this.

Leap for Life, Leap of Death
No Survivors Found After West Virginia Mine Disaster
Regulatory Flaws, Repeated Violations Put Oil Reginery Workers At Risk
Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)

There has been a reason for the need for unions. And the American people fought hard to get them instated and to have representation in the work place.

Has there been corruption in unions? Are unions made up of humans? Yes? Then there has been corruption.

Have there been lazy workers who tried to prolong work in order to get paid more? Are these workers human? Then yes, there are humans who spend a lot of time trying to figure out how to get something for nothing. Again, this is nothing new.

But does this make up everyone who is in a union? No. The reason we have unions is to make sure that people who work in potentially risky or demanding jobs know what they are doing. They apprentice and study and take exams and they work hard for their money. It is important that people who work with things like electricity, or plumbing or heat and air conditioning or putting out fires when there is the potential for hazardous contamination and who take care of the sick are properly trained. There is a reason why nurses and teachers are represented by unions because the demands they have on them are often too much for too little. It is crucial that these people can come together and represent themselves through their unions.

Look, all bosses aren't greedy. And all union workers aren't asking for too much or trying to get away with doing too little.

Then who else can we blame for our financial difficulties? The banks and investment companies? Do we need banks? Yes, we do. Are all bankers crooks? No they aren't. Have people spent more than what they earned to consume crap they didn't need and would forget about in a month, yes they did. Have investors become greedy and lost billions on dollars of the investors they were supposed to represent because they were lazy or dishonest? Yes there have been brokers who did this. But not all of them were careless.

Most of the people who have gone bankrupt in our country did so because of huge medical bills when they got sick. Often their illnesses were because of pollution and contamination of ground water.

The Love Canal Tragedy
Region 5 Cleanup Sites/National Copper Products Tragedy
Hazardous Waste Sites and Soil Contamination
Soot Particles Strongly Tied To Lung Cancer, Study Finds
The Price We Pay for Pollution
Environmental Hazards and Health Effects
Water Pollution and Society

Many of the people who have lost everything were doing everything right. They were paying their bills and working hard and saving and not being extravagant. Were there people who were spending money foolishly, not saving money and living month to month because all they cared about is how much they could get and whether or not not they could afford the monthly payment? Yes, there were.

We spend a hugely disproportionate amount of our tax dollars on the business of war. When budget cuts are made we need to consider cuts there first. And we need to be able to stop the insurance companies and drug companies and banks and investment institutions from running us into the ground too. We need to have more transparency in our government and need to be able to examine where our tax dollars are going. The time for politicians to think of tax dollars as their own personal lottery is over. Will there still be some that will try to abuse their power in order to make money? Are politicians human? Then yes, there will be elected officials who behave this way. But if we can see where the money is going, it will happen less.

A lot of the power to make change we hold in our own hands; in the way we spend our money and in how we choose to live. But when we are in a position of vulnerability we need to be able to come together collectively and represent ourselves.

Negotiation is an important part of democracy. It keeps people from having to resort to violence in order to be heard.

War isn't glamorous and neither is revolution. And it continues to feed disfunctional processes that only cause pain and destruction. We need to be able to sit down with one another and openly discuss where we are going. Ultimately, that is where we wind up anyway.

Can we keep building and destroying until there is nothing left? We can. Are we capable of more? Yes, we are.

Hatred is simple. It's easy. Blaming one group or one type of person who believes a certain way or who looks a certain way for our problems is easy. But it isn't accurate. And it doesn't change anything.

We need to take time to consider the effect on society we have by the way we spend our time and money. When we do this we make may make different decisions. If we consider the systems we are supporting by our actions and the way we spend our money and what we do for a living.... then just maybe we will decide to make some changes. Ones that could lead to prosperity and wisdom. It is so much easier to look at what other people are doing and blame the ills of society on "them". It is much more difficult to make the harder personal decisions to actually make the world a better place by the way we choose to live.

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