Friday, November 14, 2008

followed a link

Read Paul Krugman’s blog entry this morning and followed a link to this: Labor Arts.

I’m not sure what the ultimate objective is, but it is a virtual museum of the art and artifacts of the labor movement. It’s an interesting starting collection, but there is so little there!

I was a union organizer during the early 1980s and really wish I would’ve kept the flyers and newsletters I created back then (we organized the clerical staff at Columbia University—I started out as a clerical worker who joined the union movement and was later tapped as a union staff organizer)—a lot of them drew upon the literature and images of the New York City labor movement from the 1950s through the early 80s. I was pretty good at it.

Of course, it wasn’t hard to appeal to the clerical workers at Columbia because, like the clerical staff at most universities, we were paid shameful wages, crap benefits, and even those benefits that might have helped the most, such as reduced tuition, we could rarely take advantage of. The clerical staff kept Columbia running, yet we were treated like peons if we were even noticed at all. And Columbia is a particularly exploitative university—not just of its staff and graduate students (I was a grad student before I worked as a clerical worker), but the surrounding community as well. I don’t thinks it’s changed much.

I wonder if there is a broader collection of labor movement artifacts somewhere else, such as in the Smithsonian collections? I’ll have to do a little research later.

Meanwhile, I’m beginning to believe that things might start to change in this country. I’m not naive enough to think that Obama can get much done in the first couple of years—he has to fix the economy first—but I’m starting to think that maybe, just maybe, governing will once again be about the American people and not about business deals and the super rich. And a glimmer of hope that Obama might actually get us out of Iraq and stop wasting our soldiers and treasury on that mess.

What I’m getting mighty sick of is the punditocracy nattering that the United States is a centrist country so Obama needs to be careful. Bullshit. Now’s the time to go bold and really fix what needs fixing. We’ve said we want change—and centrist crap is not change, it’s status quo half-ass measures that will prolong our agony. The Dems got a very clear set of marching orders: fix the economy, get everyone affordable health care, get us the hell out of Iraq, get us energy independent. Not in any specific order, but all of it, beginning January 20. It’ll be interesting to see the Cabinet he pulls together—I hope he doesn’t loot the Senate of the people we need to have in place to make this all work.

posted by lee on 11/14/08 at 10:52 AM

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