Friday, December 07, 2012

The Iron is Hot

You may remember; I told you that Senator Jim DeMint hates you. Click on the link because I want you to tie all the names together, especially The Heritage Foundation and the Republican Study Committee. Refresh your memory. I'll wait.

Here's today's headline: Jim DeMint leaving Senate for Heritage Foundation

I'll assume you remember The Heritage Foundation in that I've warned you about it so many times. DeMint leaving the Senate is just another sign of the Republican Party falling apart. And in the broader scheme of things, it signals that America's political pendulum has stopped swinging to the right.

I have to remind myself how difficult it is for controllers to stay engaged with the rest of the world. In case you've missed it, workers are going on strike in much of America. The strike I've chosen to highlight is the fast-food worker's strike in New York (as opposed to the shipping strike in California.) This is an important article in the New York Times. Read it if you can find the time.

Unionizing the Bottom of the Pay Scale

"Their activism, part of a flash strike of some 200 workers from fast-food restaurants around New York City, caps a string of unorthodox actions sponsored by organized labor, including worker protests outside Walmart stores, which, like most fast-food chains, are opposed to being unionized, and union drives at carwashes in New York and Los Angeles."

To splash more paint on this broad canvas, I'll return to my pundit hero, Paul Krugman. From today's column:

The Forgotten Millions

"Lavishly funded corporate groups keep hyping the danger of government debt and the urgency of deficit reduction now now now — except that these same groups are suddenly warning against too much deficit reduction. No wonder the public is confused." 

You may think I'm wandering further and further from controllers but let's take just a moment to consider that sentence. "Lavishly funded corporate groups". Have controllers ever had to deal with similar forces? "No wonder the public is confused". How about that aspect? Has the public -- which, just happens to be your boss -- ever been confused about your profession? Outrageously expensive training? The cure for sleeping on the job is...sleeping on the job? Am I ringing any bells?

Let's get back to Krugman's column:

"Meanwhile, there is almost no organized pressure to deal with the terrible thing that is actually happening right now — namely, mass unemployment. Yes, we’ve made progress over the past year. But long-term unemployment remains at levels not seen since the Great Depression: as of October, 4.9 million Americans had been unemployed for more than six months, and 3.6 million had been out of work for more than a year."

Here's the hitch -- the sticky part. How do I convince a bunch of egotistical, well-paid controllers to care about the "lowly" -- the underpaid and unemployed? Most of you will say I haven't got a prayer. Well, actually, I do. A real prayer. Prayer #30

 "30. For the Unemployed 

Heavenly Father, we remember before you those who suffer
want and anxiety from lack of work. Guide the people of this
land so to use our public and private wealth that all may find
suitable and fulfilling employment, and receive just payment
for their labor; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen." 

This isn't the divine word of God -- this is a prayer written by modern man. You might find it consternating to combine the word of an Episcopal prayer with a Jewish pundit but there is a method to my madness. Controllers helping the unemployed and underpaid shouldn'tbe viewed as an act of charity or an act of self interest -- although it could be viewed as both. I want you to see it as an act of responsible citizenship -- the act of decent human beings. 

Controllers could be "organized pressure". You could use your public stature for something greater than what you currently are. Controllers could apply pressure and "Guide the people of this land." Remember, "the public is confused." We could lobby our governments for public policies that strive to ensure "that all may find suitable and fulfilling employment". I have never found anything better than a union to ensure people "receive just payment for their labor". 

Controllers should be visible on every picket line. They should be in front of every Labor Day parade. In short, the iron is hot and you have a hammer. Strike the iron. Mold the public discourse. Lobby for labor-friendly laws. Work for social justice. 

You won't change the public discourse with one blow anymore than you would make a sword with one hammer blow. But you can make a difference. You can fan the flames. You can strike the iron. With enough effort -- and time -- it will bend. You'll find that it will make you stronger. It will also make you some friends. And in the end -- hopefully -- it will make us all a better nation. 

Don Brown 
December 7, 2012

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

a very nice read, but even though today's controllers have a history to defend the majority do not know the real history of PATCO and it's job actions and eventual strike. the controller of today will never walk a picket line because their wallets are too heavy and they don't get credit hours or time off or more pay to do so. it's sad to see what has happened to the proud profession i once belonged too.