The US Postal Service Needs You

May 12, 2012 at 12:32 pm | Posted in Economy, Historical, Labor, Post Office, Reality Bites | Leave a comment
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POST OFFICE DEPARTMENT. PARCEL POST, 1914 (Courtesy of the Library of Congress)

It really annoys me to hear people speak disparagingly of the United States Postal Service. The post office is specifically authorized in Article I, Section 8, Clause 7 of the United States Constitution. It’s worked really well for more than 230 years. If not for the ridiculous budget cuts, Congressional refusal to allow price increases and hamstringing, the Post Office wouldn’t be in the sad condition it’s in today.

Santa Rosa Post Office & Federal Building, 401 Fifth Street (moved to Seventh Street), Santa Rosa, Sonoma County, California (Courtesy of the Library of Congress)

What private business is going to deliver a birthday card to your sister who lives across town the day after you drop it in a box for less than $1? Not FedEx. They want $7.65 to deliver a letter across town overnight. FedEx wants almost $12 to get a letter from New England to the West Coast in five days. The United States Postal Service? Forty-five cents.

Charlie Pierce is absolutely right, people didn’t come by their ridiculous complaints about the post office without help:

POST OFFICE DEPARTMENT. REPAIRING MAILBAGS, 1914 (Courtesy of the Library of Congress)

The entire modern conservative movement consists of an ongoing attempt to sever the relationship of a self-governing people to their government, to break down the concept of a political commonwealth. Many of the conservative attempts to wedge people apart through the use of an Other to be feared and despised — whether that was black people, or empowered women, or immigrants, or gay people — have been framed to attack the government’s attempts to ameliorate discrimination against the groups in question. In modern conservative thought, then, and in the mindset it seeks to ingrain on the people of the country, the government is the ultimate Other.
In doing so, the corporate masters of the conservative movement are good with all of this because they seek a wary, frightened and insecure people. Those people are too cowed to make waves, too spooked to assert their rights as citizens, too confused to demand accountability.

There is a reason why we used to build buildings the way we built the post office in Geneva, with its mural and its marble, and its great arching windows and its Doric entablature. It wasn’t because we were profligate. It was because we considered self-government, for all its faults, to be something precious that belonged to all of us, and that it should be housed in places that looked as though we valued it enough to celebrate it and protect it at the same time. They were monuments we raised to ourselves, because we deserved them.

If you think government is the problem, you haven’t been paying attention.

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Want some cheese with that whine?

October 12, 2011 at 3:08 am | Posted in Economy, Labor, Occupy, politics straight up, Reality Bites | Leave a comment
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This boy has worked in Payne Cotton Mill, for 2 yrs Macon, Ga. Runs 4 sides and earns 52 cents a day. Overseer has hand on boy' s shoulder. He said this mill made 70% profit last year and expects to make 100% this year. This is owned by Bibb Mfg. Co. Location: Macon, Georgia. 1909 January. Lewis Wickes Hine, photographer. (Library of Congress)

It seems to me that those who are bitching about their situation over at Ewick Ewickson’s “We Are the 53%” are bitching about the same things as the Occupy protestors and their supporters.  The only difference is, Ewick’s group thinks those making $20,000/year and less are responsible for our economic mess and should just die in a fire, or at least live in fear of their house catching on fire.

It’s pretty rich that Ewick should bitch about having three jobs.  His radio job alone pays well enough to comfortably support four families. 

Farm boy with sack full of boll weevils which he has picked off of cotton plants. Macon County, Georgia. 1937 July. Dorothea Lange, photographer. (Library of Congress)

The county in Georgia where Ewick lives?

Almost 22% of of his fellow residents have income below the poverty line (the threshold for a single person is $11,161; for a family of four, including two children, $21,756), an increase of almost three percent since the 2000 census.  The median household income in Ewick’s home county is $37,367.

Despite not selling the house he bought in 2001 because he would have to take a small loss, Ewick had enough cash laying around to spend over $400,000 on a second house.

The median value of owner-occupied homes where he lives? Approximately $115,000. In fact, 40% of the homes sell for between $50,000 and $100,000.

House in which cotton farmer has lived for fifty years. Macon County, Georgia, 1937 July. Dorothea Lange, photographer. (Library of Congress)

Ewick is not working two other jobs to put food on his family or a roof on their heads. If he’s so overburdened by his two extra jobs, perhaps he should consider quitting one or both so that someone who is looking for a job can have one. Unemployment in Georgia more than doubled between 2008 and 2011. Almost four out of five of Georgia’s children lives in poverty, one out of five of Georgia’s adults below age 65 lives in poverty. Less than one in ten Georgians over age 65 lives in poverty. Clearly, those old people are living high on the hog and Social Security benefits should be reduced, or at the least raise the retirement age to 70, so we get their numbers more in line with everyone else, so Ewick doesn’t have to pay the same or a higher percentage of his income in taxes than the moochers.

Ralph Small House, 115 Rogers Ave., Macon, Bibb County, Georgia. 1939 or 1944. Frances Benjamin Johnston, photographer. (Library of Congress)

Next time Ewick takes a flight from Georgia to wherever, perhaps he should contemplate how less safe he would be without government regulation of airplane construction, air-traffic controllers, pilots, airlines and government investment in airport infrastructure.

Eliminate all regulations and corporations can completely eliminate reports of airplane crashes. Ewick would have no idea how many passengers the airline operating his flight had killed that week, leaving the “free market” free to kill Ewick.

Gunter Field, Alabama. Loading airplane motors onto trucks. They are being shipped to Macon, Georgia for repairs. 1943 March. John Vachon, photographer. (Library of Congress)

Since poor people rarely fly, the only hazard to them would be planes falling on their houses. Certainly, a larger number of One Percenters, like Ewick, would be dead from preventable plane crashes, but if they want to live by the “free market” (except, of course, when their businesses fail and they get bailed out by the evil government), they’re going to die by preventable accident.

Let’s hope the other 99% don’t die from starvation or dangerous job conditions or curable disease or cancer caused by environmental pollution before enough of the One Percenters are dead from their beloved unregulated “free market” so that the surviving 99% can reestablish civilization.

“Had anything been wrong, we should certainly have heard”

October 11, 2011 at 11:43 am | Posted in Labor, Occupy, politics straight up | Leave a comment
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The Unknown Citizen by W.H. Auden

(To JS/07 M 378 This Marble Monument Is Erected by the State)

He was found by the Bureau of Statistics to be
One against whom there was no official complaint,
And all the reports on his conduct agree
That, in the modern sense of an old-fashioned word, he was a saint,
For in everything he did he served the Greater Community.
Except for the War till the day he retired
He worked in a factory and never got fired,
But satisfied his employers, Fudge Motors Inc.
Yet he wasn’t a scab or odd in his views,
For his Union reports that he paid his dues,
(Our report on his Union shows it was sound)
And our Social Psychology workers found
That he was popular with his mates and liked a drink.
The Press are convinced that he bought a paper every day
And that his reactions to advertisements were normal in every way.
Policies taken out in his name prove that he was fully insured,
And his Health-card shows he was once in hospital but left it cured.
Both Producers Research and High-Grade Living declare
He was fully sensible to the advantages of the Installment Plan
And had everything necessary to the Modern Man,
A gramophone, a radio, a car and a frigidaire.
Our researchers into Public Opinion are content
That he held the proper opinions for he time of year;
When there was peace, he was for peace; when there was war, he went.
He was married and added five children to the population,
Which our Eugenist says was the right number for a parent of his generation.
And our teachers report that he never interfered with their education.
Was he free? Was he happy? The question is absurd:
Had anything been wrong, we should certainly have heard.

Occupy Your World

October 11, 2011 at 11:25 am | Posted in Economy, environment, health, Labor, Occupy, politics straight up | Leave a comment
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Trade Union procession for Triangle Waist Co. fire victims, 1911. (Library of Congress)

(NYT) The Triangle shirtwaist factory fire, as it is commonly recorded in history books, was one of the nation’s landmark disasters, a tragedy that enveloped the city in grief and remorse but eventually inspired important shifts in the nation’s laws, particularly those protecting the rights of workers and the safety of buildings.

I’ve added a new category to the side bar — Occupy! — where you can find links to various and sundry Occupy websites. If you know of one that you think I should include, please leave me a note in comments.

Occupy Your World

October 5, 2011 at 10:11 pm | Posted in civil rights, Economy, health, Labor, Occupy, politics straight up | Leave a comment
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We are the 99 percent. We are getting kicked out of our homes. We are forced to choose between groceries and rent. We are denied quality medical care. We are suffering from environmental pollution. We are working long hours for little pay and no rights, if we’re working at all. We are getting nothing while the other 1 percent is getting everything. We are the 99 percent.

Brought to you by the people who occupy wall street. Why will YOU occupy?

Occupy Together is now using MeetUp as a means of creating and updating information about solidarity actions popping up all over the world. Be there or be square, as the kids say.

Which side are YOU on?

April 23, 2011 at 10:55 am | Posted in civil rights, Economy, Historical, Labor, music, Occupy | Leave a comment
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Is the American Dream becoming a Nightmare?

March 27, 2011 at 10:49 am | Posted in civil rights, God machine, Historical, Labor, politics straight up, Reality Bites | Leave a comment
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A view of Ewen Breaker of the Pennsylvania Coal Co. The dust was so dense at times as to obscure the view. This dust penetrates the utmost recesses of the boy's lungs. A kind of slave driver sometimes stands over the boys, prodding or kicking them into obedience. Location: South Pittston, Pennsylvania. 1911 January. Lewis Wickes Hine, photographer. (Library of Congress) (Right click on image to view larger)

Neither has slept well for a Fortnight, amid the house-rocking Ponderosities of commercial Drayage, the Barrels and Sledges rumbling at all Hours over the paving-Stones, the Town on a-hammering and brick-laying itself together about them, the street-sellers’ cries, the unforeseen coalescences of Sailors and Citizens anywhere in the neighboring night to sing Liberty and wreack Mischief, hoofbeats in large numbers passing beneath the Window, the cries of Beasts from the city Shambles, — Philadelphia in the Dark, in an all-night Din Residents may have got accustom’d to, but which seems to the Astronomers, not yet detach’d from the liquid, dutiful lurches of the Packet thro’ th’ October seas, the very Mill of Hell.

“Worse than London by far,” Mason brushing away Bugs, rolling over and over, four sides at five minutes per side, a Goose upon Insomnia’s Spit, uncontrollably humming to himself an idiotic Galop from The Rebel Weaver, which he attended in London just before Departure, instead of Mr. Arne’s Love in a Cottage, which would have been wiser. Smells of wood-smoke, horses, and human sewage blow in the windows, along with the noise. Somewhere down the Street a midnight Church congregation sings with a fervency unknown in Sapperton, or in Bisley, for that matter. He keeps waking with his heart racing, fear in his Bowels, something loud having just ocurr’d … waiting for it to repeat. And as he relaxes, never knowing the precise moment it begins, the infernal deedle ee, deedle ee, deedle-eedle-eedle-dee again.

When I read this passage in Thomas Pynchon’s novel Mason & Dixon (page 292), I shuddered, because I imagine this could well be the kind of life most people in this country will be living again in not too many decades if the “conservative,” anti-education, anti-progress, pro-corporation have their way.

They are willing to not just violate the law but set themselves above it in order to destroy once and for one of the most important founding principles of this country — “all men are created equal” — by denying the rights of working people to a living wage and a safe workplace.

“Pennsylvania Politics? Its name is Simplicity. Religious bodies here cannot be distinguish’d from Political Factions. These are Quaker, Anglican, Presbyterian, German Pietist. Each prevails in its own area of the Province. Till about five years ago, the Presbyterians fought among themselves so fiercely, that despite their great Numbers, they remain’d without much Political Effect, — lately, since the Old and New Lights reach’d their Accommodation, all the other Parties have hasten’d to strike bargains with them as they may, — not least of these the Penns, who tho’ Quaker by ancestry are Anglican in Praxis, — some eve say, Tools of Rome. Mr. Shippen, upon whom you must wait for each penny you’ll spend, is a Presbyterian, the City Variety, quite at ease as a member of the Governor’s Council. As for the Anglicans of Philadelphia, the periodick arrival in Town of traveling ministries such as the Reverend MacClenaghan’s have now split those Folk between traditional Pennites, and Reborns a-dazzle with the New Light, who are more than ready to throw in with the Presbyterians, against the Quakers, — tho’ so far Quakers have been able to act in the Assembly as a body, and prevail, — “

This is what it was like in the 1760s, before the United States Constitution established a barrier — the Founding Fathers thought — between Church and State. Are we going back to this?

Is it already too late to save the dream that America once was?

Truth Hurts

November 11, 2010 at 8:26 pm | Posted in civil rights, Economy, elections, environment, God machine, immigration, journalism, Judiciary, Labor, Reality Bites | Leave a comment
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Vodpod videos no longer available.

Oklahoma’s Race to the Bottom on Vimeo, posted with vodpod

Thank a union member

September 6, 2010 at 10:37 am | Posted in Labor | Leave a comment
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Remember Joe Hill

September 6, 2010 at 10:16 am | Posted in Economy, Historical, Labor | Leave a comment
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