Tag Archives: labor

Tuesday Afternoon Ramblings – 6/18/2019

This time three years ago, I had virtually nothing in terms of material possessions. No car, no savings, no real furniture, and just a handful of clothes. My home was barely inhabitable from my time away. To make matters worse, my credit score was in the low 500s, and my reputation was ruined. Probably 90% of the people I had considered friends or family had turned their backs on me.

There were some very dark nights.

I could have chosen to focus on all of those negatives and wallowed in self pity, and most likely, no one would have blamed me for just giving up. But if you know me at all, you should know that I don’t quit easily. Instead of the negatives, I turned my focus to the things I did have: that 10% who remained by my side, my recovered health from that God awful neurological illness that had nearly crippled me, my resolve to rebuild my life and rebuild my relationship with my kids.

For the first couple of months, I focused on cleaning my home and searching for a job. Because of the circumstances, no one wanted to hire me. Even shitty janitorial type openings were denied to me. My first real break came when two of my dearest friends gave me an old car that had sat undriven for a couple of years. I cannot tell you how profoundly this simple act of charity impacted my life. I will always be grateful for their love and generosity. My father helped me get the car running, and suddenly I had a modicum of independence back.

The second big break came when a different friend helped me secure a part-time online job. The pay was pretty good for the work involved, but the real boon was that the lady who hired me was so impressed by my work ethic that she recommended me to friends who were looking for a groundskeeper/handyman for their property. That may not sound like a glamorous job, but that work became the foundation for the businesses I would begin.

That’s all for now.

Wednesday Afternoon Ramblings

I’ve stayed out of politics, mostly because I believe it’s become a shell game of mass distraction, but the comments about the 47% from you, Mitt Romney, struck a raw nerve with me.  You want to say that I and people like me expect the government to take care of us.  You say we see ourselves as victims.  You imply we do not take responsibility for our own lives.  Well, let me set you straight.

First and foremost, I wasn’t born the son of a governor with insider connections.  My father is a working man who, until he became disabled, held two and three jobs for most of my life.  He taught me the value of a dollar, the pride of honest labor, and respect for others.  He pushed me to get an education and make something of myself.  He taught me the importance of persistence and the necessity of pursuing dreams for finding inner contentment.  From the actions of your life and the rhetoric of your campaign, I can see your father didn’t teach you these same values, and for that, I’m deeply saddened for you.

You see, your warped perception that wealth is the measure of a person’s worth is simply wrong.  Yes, you’ve made a pile of money buying and dismantling companies, then shipping those jobs overseas.  I’m certain you are quite proud of yourself for all the money you’ve “earned” by doing so.  What you fail to see, what you and your crony capitalist pals fail to grasp, is that you are not following the rules of the free market.  These rules are not enforced by any government; they are not arbitrary; they are not negotiable.  Eventually, markets correct.  When you manipulate a market, as in moving a manufacturing company to a country that subsidizes labor, thereby undercutting the wages of your own consumers, eventually your own market will implode.  The invisible hand may move slowly, but it does move.  One day, you will wake up to find that you can no longer manipulate the market to your benefit.

When that day comes, and I acknowledge that it may or may not occur in your lifetime, you or your children will find that the working class people you so cynically mock as lazy and shiftless have something you and your family can never buy.  We have a deeply-rooted sense of loyalty to our families, our friends, our communities.  We know how to dig in our heels and fight harder because most of us have had to hold multiple jobs throughout our lives.  We don’t need others to cook our meals, drive our cars, keep our schedules, or manage our money.  We’ve had to juggle all of those aspects of our lives on our own because most of us can’t afford to pay someone else to do it for us.  Most of the working people I’ve known, the vast majority, have a deep sense of pride in the jobs they do, no matter how low that job may seem to you.

I may not have as much money as you do, and in every facet of my life I may not measure up to your definition of greatness, but at the end of my life, I’ll be able to look back and say that I gave something to my community, my state, and my country.  Teaching English may not be a glamorous job or lucrative or fun, but I know I’ve enriched other people’s lives.  You, sir, cannot say the same.  Your career, both in the private and public sectors, has been about destroying other people, either by dismantling their business or selling their job overseas.  All of your wealth, all of your power, all of your entitlements are selfish, empty vessels.  I pity your perverted sense of right and wrong.

Before you speak of working class people again, perhaps you should live for a time in our shoes.  One week should suffice.  One week of worry about buying groceries or paying the electric bill would teach you a valuable lesson you’ve never experienced.  One week of ironing your own clothes, buying your own groceries, running your own errands, and toiling for a boss who undervalues your contribution to their organization would do wonders for your outlook on life and family and labor.  Your distorted concepts of working people, men and women who get out of bed each and every morning and work themselves into an early grave for substandard wages just to fulfill obligations to their children and families, is disturbingly arrogant and self-centered.  Your ignorance of humanity is alarming.  For an educated man, you are shockingly stupid.

You are correct about one thing.  I will not be voting for you, but not for the reasons you believe.  It’s not that I want the government to take care of me.  It’s that I cannot and will not offer support to a human being who looks upon the working class with such disdain and contempt.  Hopefully, enough of my fellow working class people will see that as well, and you will lose the election, becoming all you deserve to be, an insignificant footnote to history.

Thursday Morning Ramblings

The NFL lockout is a pretty good metaphor for where we are as a nation.  While billionaires and millionaires squabble over how to divvy up a $9-10 billion pie, the majority of us are struggling to keep gas in our cars.  It’s shameful to think that we are so far out of balance and so disconnected as a society that we’ve ended up in this situation.  Without us to buy their product, their revenue will dry up, but instead of looking at the bigger picture, both sides are focused on protecting their short-term interests without seeing the long-term ramifications.

To take it a step further, however, the owners seem to have disdain for the players.  In this case, the players are the labor, and currently, Corporate America views labor as a nuisance and an expense, rather than a valuable asset.  Without the players, the owners have nothing to sell, but instead of protecting their product and ensuring quality, ownership seeks to cut benefits, weaken the union, and maximize their profits.  To me, that’s backwards thinking.  The owners should recognize the value these workers add to their companies and maximize profits through the product they sell.  Labor is not disposable, and customers are not guaranteed.

To a degree, I can understand the players’ position.  They put their bodies on the line every day in practice and every game.  They are the ones who fill the seats and generate the revenue, so they want fair compensation for the profits they generate.  However, the fans are the ones buying the tickets, purchasing the merchandise, and watching the games on TV.  Most of us earn a fraction of their salaries despite working jobs that are much more important to the nation as a whole.  While we make hard choices about healthcare and retirement and food, they live lives of luxury and excess.  It’s hard to sympathize with their desire for more when at the end of the month I’m rolling change for lunch money.

This us vs. them mentality between management and labor is truly at the heart of all of our problems as a country.  The divisiveness of this issue permeates every aspect of our society.  Until we heal this rift, our problems will continue to grow.  Until both sides learn that they are really on the same side and are dependent on each other for sustenance, nothing will improve.  Without labor generating their profits, billionaires can’t exist.  Without management making wise, long-term decisions, labor has nothing to do.  And without customers who have both the desire for and the ability to purchase their products, neither side has anything.