Tag Archives: labor

Recalling Heritage

When haven’t there been black conservatives?

The elders who raised me, who imprinted me, they were conservatives. Oh, conservative in that one got what he earned. What one deserved. It just wasn’t given. That way when it was withheld, every effort could be made to obtain what was yours.

I enjoy hearing ignorant Anglos and even dumber blacks declare how the “welfare state” has hobbled minority initiative in America. Actually, that hose ought to be turned against Anglos crowding the lower economic rungs throughout the Southeast and Appalachia.

Those salts of the earth receive the greatest portion of our nation’s government assistance. But black and brown faces make for the acceptable visuals that declare the comforting opposite. These make the willingly downtrodden feel better about their continuous helplessness.

For this segment of Americans there’s always going to be some man above keeping them down. Bad as that is, at least there’ll always be somebody black or brown to look down upon.

Just waiting for a modern-day Joe Hill to distill that into contradictory agitprop strong enough to wrench the scales off eyes of “the little men.”

Growing up in Quarropas, New York, ours were union homes. There were no “little men.” Just “working men.” Perhaps that was the most important concept union officials drummed into the heads of the rank and file.

Language is important. Spoken artfully or artlessly those words and phrases cobbled together can define the addressee or audience for better or worse. And if one is seen as “little,” should regard him or herself as “little,” then that perception diminishes the figure.

Looking back, I don’t know of any relatives or neighbors or friends of my parents who weren’t union members. Best thing about those affiliations? They didn’t segregate. Or at least none of them used complexion to favor this group of the membership over that one.

That discrimination mostly occurred in general society.

Everybody sailed on the same boat; the same tide lifted it and the same current propelled all aboard.

As distant as Americans have become from toil, do today’s clock punchers even consider their working hours with the depth as previous generations ago? At least around my boyhood precincts, discussions often abounded about the notions of work and reward.

The majority shared common backgrounds. They’d migrated from the Jim Crow Deep South. Their early lives had been ones of hard work and sparse reward. Until migrating North, getting paid commensurate for their efforts might’ve factored in dreams but never real life.

In the Industrial North, these were people who took to heart of getting what they’d earned. Having been shortchanged throughout early life, they knew their true value. They shared these through conversation. It just so happened the young ears of impressionable forming minds heard the lessons maybe inadvertently given. Or maybe the elders knew exactly what they were doing through casual chatter rather than pointed sermonizing.

Strategy comes in many forms. Sometimes it develops through foxlike slyness.

A great many of us today still apply the past instructions imparted. All well and good for us, a quandary is will what we’ve learned fade as our generation does?

Pessimism arrived at through observation says yes.

The approach of Juneteenth (June 19th) is a better occasion to broach this than around Martin Luther King commemorations. MLK Day celebrates advance. Juneteenth reminds how despicable at times our American cavalcade has been. For those out of the American History loop, Juneteenth acknowledges when Union forces conquering Texas informed Lone Star State slaves they’d already been emancipated – for two years.

Circumstances around Juneteenth are perfect times for certain black community elements to raise the asinine suggestion of reparations for slavery. That American blacks of today are owed reimbursement for the centuries our forebearers endured bondage here in the New World. That’s a stretch. Unfortunately, it finds a lot of undernourished mental loam in which to germinate.

There are instances when I hear some figures insist black Americans deserve reparations and I laugh. Not at the absurd idea alone, but mostly at the presumed reactions of my elders.

They would’ve been incredulous.

Few had stellar educations. Not like the kind today that are available to any who apply themselves. But they were smart. Smarter than the bunch Boomers will bequeath America, that’s for sure. Upon hearing of “reparations” for generations stalled, no, regressing, our sires would rightly point out how “money for nothing” to the truly undeserving should confirm susceptible Americans’ worst impressions of blacks.

Reparations, though easily grasped, is one of those shouted out shifty slogans which has been founded on a sandy cause. Right up there with “Defund the police!”

The only people who deserved reparations were freedmen. If Abraham Lincoln had lived, or had Ulysses Grant succeeded him instead of Andrew Johnson, why doubt the South’s ex-chattel would’ve been recompensed beyond 40 acres and a mule? As far as diluting police presences, the residents in those neighborhoods which stir the wildest misconceptions throughout our nation’s most ignorant regions would’ve gone beyond uproar into revolt.

They want the police. Those badges help keep the wolves who prey on their own at bay.

Black Americans, vast percentage of us who don’t make news which fuel biases that thread backwards Anglo consciousnesses, we who lead dull, inconspicuous productive lives, take comfort in the law. Recently a Southern senator grilled a prospective Biden administration appointee. Senator Cornpone asked the nominee whether she thought American law enforcement was by its nature racist.

Listening to her response, I immediately realized her mistake. She respected the cracker’s office more than he did. She needed to have seen him for what he was. Then replied appropriately.

Instead of answering deferentially, she should’ve been forthright. Something along the lines of: “No, senator. Law enforcement in America is not inherently racist. However, individual elements enforcing the law marble it with racism. Particularly in your home state.”

Unlike too much of Anglo, okay, MAGA, America, black America holds authority in higher esteem. Remember, when legislation and court rulings started applying laws with greater fairness, injustices against blacks substantially lessened.

Yeah. I know. Someone from Generation Whatever read that last sentence and had an endless bag of “whatabouts” ready to dump. Bad as anyone in those age brackets believe how imbalanced the citizen/authority aspect is now, it was worse when my cohort occupied that age. The same years could’ve been outright perilous during our elders’ “youthquakes.”

For the last contingent, the rights guaranteed as an American citizen must’ve been an illusion. But give Americans credit. Playing by the rules, keeping eyes on the prize, ignoring distractions that begged the diversion of urgency, they made the impossible happen. They made the laws work for them.

Did it happen overnight? Did it happen within short time spans? No to both. Decades often passed before positive results were realized. Not only did those activists have right on their side, they also had patience. They persevered. Setbacks didn’t shake their resolve but strengthened their drive.

Firsthand knowledge of the civil rights movement will disappear when my generation expires. The younger of us weren’t in the fight’s forefront. But we did benefit then built upon the struggle.

We did not know pernicious racism. Jim Crow. We did not know any threat of empty-belly hunger. The Depression. Hopefully if our moment to step up comes, we will never lose the battle of defending forward democratic values. World War II.

Who had been steeped in the knowledge of the above? The generation that sired mine. We listened to them. Better, we learned from them. The fortunate among us even prospered by the trails they blazed.

Maybe if we’d shared some of their hardships, we too could’ve been more effective at passing this American heritage along.

MAGA professes to be enthralled by possibilities of “a severely structured society aligned with promoting the least amounts of deviance against tradition, convention, and conformity.” Who doesn’t know the deplorables favoring such would find themselves quickly incensed by the same strictures they championed?

But look who’s giving them marching orders. A failed businessman who became a convicted felon.

Who are the heralds for Generation Whatever? From the vantage of having practical knowledge, too many of our successors, at least the vocal ones, are being misled by people lacking in practical knowledge. They don’t want to reinvent the wheel. They wish to destroy the wheel.

They want to be rewarded without having truly struggled in the least. They want prizes without having won them. Aren’t those called allowances? And aren’t those dispensed to the unaccountable among us by people who’ve managed themselves responsibly?

Water Finds Its Own Level

Only in America is free time frowned upon. No matter how deserved. Anytime I read or hear about a cubicle slave or some other automaton bound to his/her job by invisible chains, I say, “Poor sap.”

Where else but America do workers “brag” about their unused vacation days? Of course, where else but here do employers also grudge awarding those days which have been earned?

Deferring purchases is often wise. Deferring vacation days robs our humanity. Continue reading Water Finds Its Own Level

Long. Languid. Like August.

August is the reason the French refer to September as “reentry.”

Like some Old World countries, the Belle Republique takes a month off after the bombast and celebrations of July. Americans should do that here in the New World but wouldn’t this just be the thing to interrupt our motorcycle rallies and guns shows? Besides, we must grudge the notion of vacation. Isn’t it a national trait? Instead of seeing time off as deserved, ah, earned, business and our hamsters on wheels go-getting natures insist we disdain time away from the millstone.

That’s just wrong. Continue reading Long. Languid. Like August.

Our Times

Saw a job listing on a professional networking site that intrigued. Thirty/35 years ago, I would’ve been all over it. Most astonishing thing about the job description? A former high school classmate generated this possibility.

Recalling him, he never struck as being particularly dynamic. He filled backgrounds in many scenes.

Yet two reasons have throttled any enthusiasm towards pursuing his offer. One, I’m 63 and along the glidepath into retirement. Two, I’d bring experience to the job. Continue reading Our Times

Speed Kills … As It Should

In July, barreled down into Northwestern Arizona from Las Vegas. Dropped some coin in barren White Hills playing lottery that’ll help fund the Grand Canyon State’s educational system. Such donations would’ve been better spent here in Nevada. But thanks to the Nevada gaming industry’s dumb insistence lotto dollars will deduct from the Silver State’s games of chance and sports books, Nevadans do not benefit from such participations. Continue reading Speed Kills … As It Should

Elsewhere May Day Is Labor Day

This Covid period among our older populace proves that after a time minds become less pliant. In them views narrow then solidify.

When I hear people, say, at least 14 years my senior, opine, they often remind me of an Allen Ginsberg quote. The poet said: “Our heads are round so thought can change direction.”

Life has squared their noggins.

There must come a period in life when our ability to juggle contrary positions against – or even adapt to – what our minds hold as irrevocable erodes. At one point each of us must’ve been mentally nimble. But as many of us age, our ability to modify or rearrange perception and understanding loses fluidity.

It’s not that those hewing tenaciously to fixed positions are simply stubborn. More like their mental processes have congealed. They just can’t budge.

No need to provoke such people. They’ll erupt without cause. The mantra they spew? “Nobody wants to work anymore.”

Popularly known as “the Silent Generation,” they huddle wedged between former NBC news anchor Tom Brokaw’s “Greatest Generation” and “Baby Boomers.” Arriving just before the Depression then shoved onto the periphery of American memory with the first birth of 1946, too few members of this cohort left an impression on our national scene. Also, the calamities that occurred between the years 1929-1945 made prospective parents wary about bringing or being able to afford having children. Their aggregate was lower than the two generations sandwiching them.

Though the Depression and World War II were nowhere near as formative to them as it was upon the participants and combatants, both events nevertheless left imprints. Here in the economically poleaxed America of the1930s and wartime’s Fortress of Democracy, daily life must’ve been maintained at some levels of precariousness.

Each era embedded its own worries upon the still forming.

Unless one’s background affluent during the Depression, want was a constant threat. A job which sustained home and hearth week after week was no certainty. And unlike today, the safety net, if one existed, consisted of savings, family, and perhaps friends. Compared to now, government programs that helped citizens tide over rough patches were meager as well as sparse.

Doubtlessly parents one pay envelope away from being up against it discussed finances in the most sotto tones. Nonetheless careful as they must have been, that sort of constant stress must’ve also reached then affected young minds.

And while the war that broke out among the Europeans in September 1939 was a topic that could be bandied at intellectual remove, Pearl Harbor two years later became a realer than real matter of survival. The Depression’s threat of possible imminent destitution might be diverted through a head down, no boat rocking posture coupled with an “it could be worse” attitude which made them grateful to possess what they had.

The December 7th, 1941, attack became a life and death matter.

Two oceans aside, wolves threatened Americans’ doors. The vast watery expanses which had kept America remote from most global conflicts were by 1941 capable of being crossed by all sorts of weapons. What had been viewed while watching movie theaters’ newsreels – cities obliterated from the air, columns of grim jackbooted troops intent on carnage – now offered foretastes of what America might’ve shared with Europe or Asia.

Easy to imagine that after Pearl Harbor no American regarded fates similar to Rotterdam or Shanghai visiting these shores as “improbable.” At least initially, conversation based on war topics were undoubtedly debated between disbelief and hysteria.

Although dementia and death have substantially reduced those then present as WWII adults, that there was possibly an undercurrent of defeatism during the global conflict’s first disastrous months is difficult to deny. It’s just the sort of thing children can absorb though can’t properly articulate sufficiently in order to have parents explain. Or dispel.

Maybe it becomes a thing that weighs adolescents who enter their teens before becoming adults; that inexplicable thing they unconsciously drag with them through life.

A benefit from Covid is it’s loosened the shackles of American workers. That’s given them leverage against bosses. Terrific!

On one hand, the worker shortage, created from retirements, deaths, and searches for better, stems directly from the disease.

The first a realization by long-time employees they’d gotten to points of simply living to work rather than working to live. Why drop dead at one’s place of employment or linger a few post-retirement years in pain and regret? If the necessary years had accrued – even if the total short – why not abandon that toil and enjoy what remained of life while it still possible?

The second, a factor way too few Americans grasp or want to, is a good number of working people succumbed to Covid. To them, their families, friends, it wasn’t a hoax. Covid wasn’t just jumped-up flu.

Despite the best efforts of right-wing barking heads and jackleg screamers to slander every patient overwhelming ICUs and hospital staffs, sufferers filling wards and providing care in them weren’t crisis actors. For awhile rumors circulated that at my own job Covid claimed one co-worker a week. Of course confidentiality rules and HR doing its utmost to protect the company blunted ascertaining whether this fact or not.

Third, the first two Covid conditions created mobility. Countless current workers are exploiting this last opening. A circumstance anyone constitutionally timid finds adverse.

A worker shortage meant dead-end, low-wage positions, and peonage treatment could be dumped for perhaps more satisfying, higher paying labor where supervisors aware the worm has turned keep their tyrant conduct in check.

That’s what “the Silent Generation” means when it erroneously states “Nobody wants to work anymore.” They’re angered that it appears nobody wants to work as they once did.

Fearful of losing jobs they were grateful to have even if it meant being humiliated throughout a career. For far too many laboring Americans that was the take-it-or-leave-it pact until Covid.

Current attitudes spreading regarding how one’s daily bread is earned reflects badly on “the Silent Generation.” They put up with shit because in return for a comfortable living standard made possible through a decent salary, benefits, and pensions, the boss could release his inner Attila the Hun on them at will. Rotten management will never hide its contempt for the cogs. Before Covid, underlings could be replaced as easily as getting a fresh tissue after soiling the previous sheet.

Then, even getting raises could’ve grown into ordeals. Despite workplace performances justifying the bump how often had the process transformed productive employees into nearly on their knees supplicants?

We may suppose “the Silent Generation” invented some nobility about enduring these trials. We may also suppose them seeing a new generation come along and blithely chucking the old nature for new measures somehow tarnishes whatever glory had shined jobs offering two-weeks-a year vacation.

No Rainbow. No Pot of Gold.

California is not sending it best people across the Mojave Desert into Nevada. Not visitors, necessarily, but those hopefuls intending to relocate.

For the most part, Californians flocking from the Golden State to settle in the Mojave aren’t the most sterling. Once here a sad portion of them tarnish the Silver State. Continue reading No Rainbow. No Pot of Gold.