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Saturday, January 15, 2011
another snowy winter, the gap between CEO and worker, WWMLKD?
Listening to:antiques roadshow
Reading:a bunch of stuff
Weather:32, snowing lightly
I'm pretty sure we got more than 200 inches of snow here in my yard last winter. I spent up to 4 hours some days just moving it off my driveway. I had to be ready for those weather windows when I could get out of here and resupply. It wasn't that cold, at least we didn't get many subzero nights or clumps of days that never got above 10. But it seemed like it was basically 18 or 22 degrees all day every day from about Dec 23 to Mar 23. I started to philosophize deeply about living with constantly accumulating snow. It seemed as if there was rarely a day with less than 8 new inches, many days with more than a foot, a few with more than 2 feet. The top of my driveway had walls of snow on either side higher than I could lift a shovel over, I had to start pushing it all the way down the driveway and across the road.

Well this season we haven't had a single 2 footer yet. But it started a month early, we had only 3 calendar days in December with no new snow. The first snow is still under there, it never totally melted since then. The kids have already had 8 snow days, I think, and it's not even MLK day yet. It has snowed all but a few days in Jan so far, and has barely gone over 32, many days didn't get to 20 on my porch.

I have a wicked headcold and I've missed 3 days of work this week cuz I feel like shit. Monday is a holiday, and I'd like to attend some groovy MLK events happening in Motown, but unless I've improved substantially I'm way more likely to stay home and try to muster up the courage to work on Tuesday, got a busy week and fires to put out from last week.

Since MLK day is coming up, and he's one of my very favorite dudes in human history, I've been thinking about him sitting in jail in Birmingham, really examining his committment to the civil rights cause, writing that letter to his fellow pastors defending his civil disobedience and the need for nonviolent but immediate action. I was wondering as I was shoveling, is there a cause for justice that exists right now that is as righteous as the cause of equal rights for black people was in 1963? Yes, I think there are two. The first is not quite as easy to define, but I'll have a go at it here:

There has been an erosion of the power of the middle class that developed in the 30's when labor unions amplified the collective voice of the American worker against the corporations who were exploiting them. Auto workers started getting good pay and benefits, coal miners and steel workers starting started on the road to better safer working conditions and benefits, and factory workers got increased pay with sit-down strikes that kept scabs out and ceased production until their demands were met. Since that time those victories have slowly eroded as the American worker's dollar has bought less and less every year. We've made and kept decent progress regarding workplace safety, but we've been slowly losing our buying power as the CEO's have skyrocketed to obscene compensation, even when they totally fail and ruin companies. The chasm between CEO pay and his lowest-paid employee has never been wider in history. I'm pondering this.

You'd think when the top 1% hold almost 40% of the nation's wealth that the proles would just freakin revolt. How hard would it be, we actually make and move and do everything that happens in this nation. But some true crafty genius motherfuckers in that top 1% figured out how to keep the masses from taking it back: make plenty of cheap crap available for them to constantly consume. Cheap entertainment, cheap plastic shit from China, cheap nasty food, cheap drugs. "The years passed, mankind became stupider at a frightening rate. Some had high hopes the genetic engineering would correct this trend in evolution, but sadly the greatest minds and resources where focused on conquering hair loss and prolonging erections." (from the movie Idiocracy).

As long as they can fill a cart at SprawlMart on their off hours several times weekly maybe they'll just ignore that nagging feeling that eliminating taxes on the rich and unending oil wars and skyrocketing pharmaceutical and insurance company profits are all fucked up things they have the collective power to STOP.

I note how I have morphed from "we" to "they" as if I'm not part of it. Well, I like to fantasize that I'm among the aware elite, proving my sexy countercultureness by wearing tiedyes and never spending a red nickel in any SprawlMart (I've got like my 15 year chip on that, and did it without a sponsor). And canning my own organic local vegetables, so incredibly hip. But seriously, I don't kid myself for long, my fat ass is certainly a fleshy monument to consumption, as I zip through the commercials on my divo'd Celebrity Rehab from a prone position, thinking about pausing to find something to put in the toaster oven.

We, I mean, still hold on to some silly notion that if we work hard enough or get lucky enough we could get in to that top 1%. So we keep propping it up with our labor and our ATM cards.

But I think there's also been a parallel erosion of faith in our systems. People generally feel like life is less fair. And when you don't trust the ground under you, it makes you a little nuts. You get an itchy trigger finger. You more easily justify a little cheating, a little stealing, taking a little extra from the community commons. And that begats more of the same in the people around you.

So I'm saying this massive and widening gap between the haves and the have-only-cheap-craps is a call to action that MLK would be all about getting arrested over. It can be about elevating the station of the worker, rather than eating the rich, if you prefer. But it's about redistribution of wealth in favor of fairness, and even kindness and compassion, and restoring faith in our system through restoring some democracy and transparency in government. And lots more all in that vein.

Yeesh, longer rant than expected, I should edit more. Anyhoo, on to issue 2: ending the drug war. It's racist. It's also about haves and have-nots. If drugs are truly dangerous, and some are (though not necessarily the ones that are illegal), let's get real and make it a healthcare issue. Not a criminal justice issue. We have the highest % of our citizenry incarcerated than any other nation. If you're a black man in the U$A you have almost a one in three chance of being incarcerated in your lifetime. The only growth industry in many states is the penal system. A new prison in your town is a great economic boom that communities compete for. Imprisoning drug USERS absolutely ruins the lives not just the users, but their families and many people who rely on them. Pot smoking in particular is so benign it's an absolute fucking joke that it's still illegal here. It's a WEED for shit's sake! It grows wild in every one of the 50 states! Trying to eradicate it is like trying to eradicate the dandelion - impossible and stupid. Get busted with a little bag of buds and you lose not only your liberty, perhaps your job and certainly many future job possibilities, but your financial aid, your public housing, your food stamps, your kids' TANF benefits, etc. All for smoking a joint stead of drinking 12 Buttwipers like the guy in the Ford F-150 with the sticker of some cartoon character peeing on some NASCAR driver's number. Ouch, getting a little mean with the stereotypes, but I think you can see why I'm pretty seriously PO'd about these absurd and harmful policies. And if you actually have a problem, say with Oxy or heroine or meth, how in the world does prison help you? You need help, not punishment. Your kids need you better, not gone.

So I'm thinking if MLK were with us today he'd be organizing, orating, and perhaps violating the law to effect change in the wealth distribution and end the drug war. "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. . . There comes a time when the cup of endurance runs over, and men are no longer willing to be plunged into the abyss of despair. I hope, sirs, you can understand our legitimate and unavoidable impatience. . . Actually, we who engage in nonviolent direct action are not the creators of tension. We merely bring to the surface the hidden tension that is already alive. We bring it out in the open, where it can be seen and dealt with. Like a boil that can never be cured so long as it is covered up but must be opened with all its ugliness to the natural medicines of air and light, injustice must be exposed, with all the tension its exposure creates, to the light of human conscience and the air of national opinion before it can be cured."

permalink posted by cat 6:14 PM

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As usual Caqt, You're Right on the Money... but you knew I'd day that!!! Can't wait to see you again1
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another snowy winter, the gap between CEO and worker, WWMLKD?