Loss of unions, and perspective

Sunday September 23, 2012

Behind the "Alice In Won der land" curtain of words about the 47 percent of our neighbors not paying any taxes and are content to be suckling on our government’s teat, there is an activity that has been vastly overlooked and, therefore, under valued.

How many of us recall the days when a single working parent earned enough to allow one’s mate to stay home and take care of the household and the children? How many of us pause to wonder how and why we reached this sorry state? There are, I believe, many contributing factors.

Certainly one has been a long-term and corrosive de meaning of labor unions in general. Who, among us, re calls the days of the auto workers or mine workers? Very few. Who recalls the conditions that gave these labor movements their strength? Who recalls the days when there was an ingrained reluctance to cross anyone’s picket lines? Today, it appears, there is a knee-jerk tendency the believe the picket lines are to be ignored because the strikers are malcontents with no meaningful grievances. One consequence has been the long-term erosion of our middle class’s income. Ergo, 1 percent of our population has more wealth than the remaining 99 percent.

One of the tools of the trade that brought us to this sorry situation has been an abuse of language. Ergo, "Free enterprise is good." "Socialism is bad." This juxtaposition nudg es our minds to leapfrog important facts. Unfortunately free enterprise must have reasonable governmental oversight. One current example has to do with whether we should allow extracting oil and natural gas from the earth by means of "fracking"?

But there are more subtle effects of demeaning labor unions. During my working life I refused to operate three airliners I believed to be not airworthy, one with high octane gasoline dripping from a wing tank. That I made the correct judgment was not in question. I had discomfited paying passengers and upset my employer’s flight scheduling. Without my labor union behind me, I could have lost my job.

Congress has recently passed the re-authorization of our Federal Aviation Agency. In the package, the Airline Pilots Association has been pressing hard to classify easily ignitable and difficult to extinguish lithium dry cell batteries as dangerous cargo. Congress, with a nod toward big business and our own Sen. Brown going along, refused to require the labeling because of the increased cost of special packaging and handling. No matter that, in the wake of a crash, rescue workers, firemen, and survivors, whose lives would be in jeopardy, would not be made aware that explosive lithium is in the mix of flaming materials.

It is high time we began to take our middle class status out of the hands of the Mitt Romneys of the world; though that is highly unlikely to happen. As the Jewish Talmud reminds us, "We don’t see things as they are. We see things as we are." We have been well schooled.




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