Sunday, May 13, 2012
Greetings, freedom fighters!Happy Mother's Day to the sisters! My friend Fran Metzman has a new book collection out, The Hungry Heart Stories, available now on Amazon and Barnes and Noble. Please look Fran up at www.franmetzman.com, and in the online journal Wild River Review (www.wildriverreview.com). I have been celebrating Workers Memorial Day, a day to honor workers killed on the job, due to the negligence and stinginess of their employers; and to advocate for greater occupational safety and health rules. Workers have died in the most horrific ways, and the corporations howl in pain when they have to install safety equipment, whining about “excessive government regulation,” etc. The penalties for workers’ deaths, such as OSHA fines, are treated as a loss and they factor it into their budgets; lives are meaningless to these plutocrats, when it comes to the bottom line. For information about Workers Memorial Day, I recommend the Philadelphia Project for Occupational Safety and Health (PHILAPOSH) (I’m on the Board) at www.philaposh.org I have also been celebrating May Day, i.e. International Workers’ Day, celebrated throughout the world by All workers-except, alas, in the US of A. The corporate-media-political complex took the cruel reality of the Stalinist system ruling the Soviet Union and its eastern European satellites, and turned every challenge to the corporate status quo into a tentacle of the “international Communist conspiracy,” as a way to bring social protest movements under some form of control. Let us continue liberating our minds. For information about May Day, contact www.maydayusa.org. I often worry about “What if Mitt Romney becomes President?” Here is a man who said “Corporations are people, my friend” –showing he’s NO friend of workers; and whose idea for students struggling with financial aid is to borrow from their parents, who have their OWN financial problems-here is a man disassociated from the concerns of working people, and whose economic program is a rehash of Reagan “supply-side” economics-cut taxes on corporations, while raising spending on the military beyond what is necessary for defending the nation. Ronald Reagan started this program, George W. Bush followed it, and Romney is also. It is through this program that the gap between the richest and the poorest Americans has grown, and the middle class, to which the poorest at least could hope to get into, has shrunk; that such social services as school, hospitals, parks, police, fire, etc., are understaffed and are allowed to fall apart; and workers are powerless against faulty construction, mine cave-ins, chemical fumes and spills, fire hazards, sexual harassment and abuse, underpayment, and the closing of plants and moving the business to another country, causing entire nations to be pools of scab labor. Workers are either unemployed or underemployed; they have no money to pay for the necessities as food, utilities, mortgage, etc. Are we expected to accept this forever? Should we believe something won’t burst open? Romney has talked about his time at his company, Bain Capital, as proof that he can grow the economy better than Obama can. His company bought up failing businesses, let go of workers, sold their assets, and reaped huge profits; THIS is the future of capitalism? Romney talks about creating jobs, but his business model is one of taking jobs away. Change continues in this country. The Pew Research Center's surveys show that the most positively-thought-of political label is-Progressive. Plus, young people of high-school and college age are move lively to favor Socialism over capitalism. (I capitalized "Socialism" deliberately.) It's a combination of the events in the world, combined with the decades of dedicated work by conscious people working to make a difference-the activists conservatives talk about with hate. One example of this is in LGBT rights. I remember Gay rights was such a radical idea; it’s a little over forty years after the Stonewall riots, which jump-started the LGBT civil-rights movement. Historically that’s not a long time ago. After the Stonewall riots, coming along with the Feminist resurgence, the anti-Vietnam war and Civil Rights movements, Gays of every demographic group organized along many fronts-political action, academic research, religious acceptance, and legal protection, among others. Alas, there was the inevitable backlash, the attempt to reverse LGBT civil rights gains. Now, President Obama has come out in favor of same-sex marriage, even after the passing of the anti-same-sex-marriage amendment in North Carolina-a pretty gutsy move on his part. The repeal of the ridiculous military “Don’t-ask-don’t-tell” rule went off well; the military has adapted well to the new reality. The public mind has shifted in favor of full LGBT rights, and that’s great; but I don’t think it should require public permission, or a Gallup poll, to attain your civil and human rights. “No, you may not be permitted to hold a job in spite of your sexual preference/gender/race/religion/whatever.” It was through persistent work by dedicated activists over a period of time that the public perception of LGBT rights has shifted, as well as perceptions of Gays themselves; we all know someone who’s Gay, whether we know their orientation or not, and we might not care; and many of us live in a municipality with a lively Gay scene and an established “gayborhood,” like in Philadelphia. In the long run, the homophobic war on Gay rights, like the Anita Bryant campaign in Florida in 1977, has failed; LGBT people are NOT going back into the closet, the genie is out of the bottle. President Obama says he has "evolved" on LGBT issues; so has the rest of the nation, including myself. Such evolution is not something that just "happens," it's the outcome of conscious people causing things to happen, along with the historical situation in the world, and we give shape to the evolution by our work. Let us continue to do so. Bye!