Somehow, this is where I came in -- weaned in part on labor protest songs at a time when unions were gaining ground and were not routinely beaten by the police who were controlled by business interests:
I once ran into folksinger Pete Seeger at a concert he was part of. "I grew up on the Almanac Singers," I said to him. "Oh, you go that far back," he replied with a smile, letting us both know that a lot of water had since flowed under the dam. "Talking Union," "Which Side are You On?" and "Union Maid" were Almanac Singers songs that floated up off 78 rpm records in our living room. The songs were peppy and brash and probably overconfident, but what did a kid know about overconfidence? By comparison with adults, kids were second-class citizens, somewhat like the union supporters and their songs. As a kid, I hummed along and sang.Oct 17, 4:30 AM (ET)CHICAGO (AP) - Hundreds of Hilton Chicago Hotel workers started a three-day strike Saturday that union officials say is in protest of the hotel chain's efforts to "lock workers into cheap recession contracts." Full story
But now the spilled blood I never personally witnessed as a kid flows close to the surface. Survival is no joke. The business owners' complacence that once formed a flash point of labor strife and then segued into union acceptance and later an arrogance of its own now seems to have segued back, with banks and brokers hip-deep in bailout money that somehow does not 'trickle down' to the needy people required to pay it back.
Two or three days ago, I heard a news report that blithely suggested that "outside the volatile food and energy sector," the economy was doing pretty well. How is it that an assessment of the economy can credibly excise food and energy, the things that people need in order to live and travel and keep warm?
Tick-tock, the pendulum swings.
I think the government is wise to have in place contingency plans in case some sort of mass uprising occurs. But the government does not seem wise enough or to possess the balls to wonder about the need for such contingency plans in the first place. Such plans would be unnecessary unless there were some sort of underlying imbalance ... an imbalance requiring serious thinking.
Yes, the pendulum swings.
Internal memos at National Public Radio and the Washington Post among other news outlets have warned their news staffers not to mingle with the "Rally to Restore Sanity" gathering planned in Washington Oct. 30. The organizations appear to be relying on "objectivity" as a reason for the memos to news staffers. The somewhat smirky Jon Stewart has used his "Daily Show" on television as a springboard for the rally ... and the edged humor of the rally is likely to draw a crowd that news people should not, somehow, be interested in either personally or professionally.
Stewart's parody comrade Stephen Colbert's "March to Keep Fear Alive" has now apparently joined forces with Stewart's group. When all else seems unable to attract attention, parody may be a pretty good tool. Fear is an on-going tool of politicians and business interests just as sanity appears to be absent from the tool box.
But in these times, the definition of sanity is open to raucous and sometimes illiterate debate. Everyone longs to fix a problem and yet the problem is somehow amorphous: I know I don't like something but am incapable of describing realistically what I DO like.
I guess we'll see what happens, but I for one am sorry to be leaving this mess to my children.