It’s Labor Day week in an America that is consistently on the wrong side of history. Sure, I could go on a rant about how capitalism should have died when the industrial Revolution ended but I won’t. I will remind you that America is still mired in some alternate reality when it comes to the status of its workers. Our minimum wage, and wages across the board are stagnant with no raise for minimum wage workers since the late nineties. And yes with exchange rates maybe our wages are middle of the pack but they’re still pitiful, they’re even more pitiful when you consider that we are one of few first world nations that doesn’t offer Universal Healthcare or for that fact free tuition for college. We also are still arguing over our own terrible health care system when progressive countries are looking at concepts such as Universal Basic Income. Finally, it should be obvious we are on the wrong side of history as we look to our Twitterbot blunder in chief, who like the last republican to win the presidency probably stole the election, although this one with the help of the Russians, but really I don’t want to go down that endless rabbit hole.
I hope you found the holiday relaxing because the rest of the week surely wasn’t. Before we talk about our blunderer in chief though, I’d like to take a minute to talk about the history of Labor Day. I do this because history should be used to teach us so we don’t make the same mistakes as previous generations. I promise to keep it short, and recommend you check out James Green’s book Death in Haymarket.
There were rumblings for a national day of labor in the US as early as 1882 when May first became a day for mass strikes in support of a reduction in hours without a reduction in pay. This was the start of the fight for an eight hour day, a fight that wasn’t won until 1940. The first real catalyst started on May first 1886 when workers rallies coincided with a strike in Chicago at the McCormick Harvesting Machine Company. A Lockout, Pinkertons and strikebreakers add up over a few days into the murder, by police, of two striking workers.
The next day in Haymarket Square as the Anarchist Samuel Felden was completing a speech, police arrived. Accounts vary in the confusion that follows, but a homemade bomb was thrown, police open fire and within five minutes twelve persons were dead (7 police killed, 4 civilians. 70 wounded officers, no tally of the civilian wounded).
The inevitable red scare followed and seven Anarchists were tried as accessories to murder and all seven are found guilty of conspiracy (no bomber was ever convicted). Of those seven men, four were hung, one committed suicide under auspicious circumstances and three were later pardoned. When four people, who happen to be anarchists, are hung for conspiracy, it’s a fair bet that they were railroaded by this justice system. Yes, there were widespread protests surrounding these executions, but with that justice system being on the wrong side of history, the executions were carried out anyway.
In the aftermath the AFL, then led by Samuel Gompers, proposed an international day of labor to fall on May Day in solidarity with the Strike at Haymarket. However it wouldn’t become a national holiday until 1894 when Grover Cleveland in the aftermath of the Pullman Strike. The Pullman strike would cost thirty civilians their lives after US Troops fired into a crowd of strikers. Even then Cleveland, didn’t want any association with the Haymarket Riot so the date of September first was chosen instead.
There is a history of labor as succinctly as possible. Again, I hope you enjoyed the holiday but hopefully you took a minute somewhere in the to consider the legacy of labor unions and the injustice that has been perpetually inflicted on the working class by the owner class (we never talk about class in this country now do we?) in the name of capilatism and the almighty dollar.
Speaking of being on the wrong side of history…
On Tuesday Cracker Jeff Session announced that the Federal Government would allow DACA to expire. Cracker Jeff used some typical draconian law and order language about how you can’t allow people to break laws, even immigration laws, there are punishments for these things. In classic good cop/ bad cop our tangerine in chief tweeted how much he loves the “dreamers” and then told congress to get work on a bill to make DACA a law.
DACA is by no means a perfect solution to our immigration “problem.” The republicans problem with it is that congress didn’t pass it, that it was put through as an executive order by former President Obama. It turns out the party that supported Muslim bans one through three, all signed by executive order, doesn’t like it when the other team has used the same executive order to get something done that congress is unwilling to do. It also doesn’t help that various republican Attorney Generals sued the federal government over DACA. The funny thing about those various attorney generals is that excepting Texas each of these states have well under 1% of their population affected by DACA.
The DACA story continues with Nancy Pelosi getting Drumpf to tweet that they won’t enforce deportations for six months. In answer fifteen states are suing Drumpf over DACA, and Chicago has banned him from the city. My brain really can’t comprehend at this point how dysfunctional this “democracy” has become.
Furthering dysfunctional democracy the Democrats made a deal with Drumpf to raise the debt ceiling, this also gives fifteen billion for relief for Hurricane Harvey. Republicans we’re thrown under the bus, and a golden age of bipartisanship was apparently born.
I can’t see that really happening. If the Democrats strategy coming into midterm elections is to side with Drumpf then the midterms may get uglier and more juvenile than last year’s election cycle. Isn’t that what we need right now?
The Drumpf administration continued to ignore climate change this week. The biggest storm to ever form in the Atlantic has formed and is on course to hit Florida as your read this. The shit thing here is Drumpf is excited were having a big storm while failing to see that this is two superstorms in just a few weeks, there’s two more storms on the way (by the way there’s never been three recorded hurricanes formed near simultaneously). This may be the time to stop playing politics with the environment and acknowledge it’s time to start doing something about it. Perhaps instead of proposing tax cuts for the wealthy, we could say tax the rich and use that money to update infrastructure, or start figuring out if that infrastructure should be moved further inland.
On Thursday Betsy Devos announced the administrations intent to review Title IX which make it harder for colleges to downplay sexual assaults on campus (among other things). In typical fashion with this administration the goal here is deregulation, but the after affects is less protection for victims of sexual assault. There is a moment where I feel like we should be at a point where we just believe victims instead of shaming them, but of course that’s not the case. In this case, perhaps in most cases with this administration, they open their mouths and a discussion starts, but that discussion doesn’t involve the government, it involves the people living under a government that has stopped serving the interests of its people. I’m hard pressed to figure if this is a good or a bad thing, and I can’t tell from where I’m sitting if it’s fracturing that country into even smaller groups and segments (it certainly looks as such). I can only say that hopefully with those discussions getting started can start to move this country into a more tolerant, vibrant inclusive society for everyone. I know it won’t happen under this administration, but the next if America survives that long.There’s more, so much more bullshit we could talk about like Rush Limbaugh claiming hurricanes are fake news, or Alex Jones or facebook and Russian troll farms, or North Korea or solar flares or earthquakes. We’re all mad as hatters waiting on our own mass extinction. Be safe, the future is sooner than you think.
stick around because today at 10:20 we have John Grochalski and tomorrow at 10:30 we have the photographic work of Ally Malinenko