Archive for the ‘Socialism’ Category

The indignity of labor

September 2, 2019

Holiday, schmoliday: The trash crews are on the job.

It’s Labor Day, but trash collection continues as scheduled.

This delights the neighbor kids, who jump up and down and shriek at the trash truck working our cul-de-sac until the driver toots his horn a couple of times.

I don’t know how much fun the trash guys are having. But I applaud them for their generosity to a couple of little girls.

We’re told that it’s easy to find a job these days. But what kind of a job? How much does it pay? What are the benefits? Is there a future in it? Will you need more than one of these jobs to make ends meet?

Our cul-de-sac does pretty well for itself. We work for Sandia National Labs, the University of New Mexico, the U.S. Postal Service, and local government. One loser scribbles nonsense for a couple bike mags, but every good neighborhood needs a bad example.

But I expect we all know a few people who aren’t eating quite so high off the hog.

Without even breaking a light sweat I can think of one colleague who hasn’t been paid for a few months while his corporate masters hunt for new suckers … er, investors. They didn’t ask if he’d work for free during the search. They just quit paying him. The work, of course, arrives as per usual.

Another quit a job he hated, only to go back to it for some reason. I expect it had something to do with paying the bills.

I’m a geezer and long since gone from the job market. My little bit of business doesn’t show up on anyone’s statistical radar. But I still identify with the working class, though I don’t work and have no class, and so I agitate, however feebly, on their behalf.

Thus, here are a few Labor Day notes from around the Innertubes. Chime in with your own notions in comments.

And remember, when you’re smashing the State, keep a smile on your lips and a song in your heart.

• One job is not enough. From The New York Times.

• Strike! From The Nation.

• General strike! Also from The Nation.

• A different approach to collective bargaining. From The American Prospect.

May Day

May 1, 2019

So, comrades, come rally. …

Up the rebels, y’all. And when you’re smashing the State, don’t forget to keep a smile on your lips and a song in your heart.

Red menace

May 1, 2018

The intersection of Trails 341 and 342. I like to hang a left here
(because of course I do) and do a clockwise loop that tops out at the wilderness boundary.

There’s Revolution and there’s revolution.

With the masses otherwise occupied for May Day 2018, and all my rousing calls to action going to voicemail, I settled for a bit of the lower-case variety, pulling on the red-and-black Mad Dog Media kit, stuffing red water bottles into their cages, and rolling out for a short spin on the people’s trails.

Comrade Red Cap keeps the people’s air where it belongs.

There’s more than one way to lose a chain, and I know most of them. I lost one on Sunday after a rear puncture and got good and greasy (the Voodoo Nakisi has horizontal dropouts that open to the rear, and it’s easy to get filthy removing and replacing the rear wheel).

On Monday I punctured again, this time the front. It was a slow leak, like the proletariat losing political power, and I was able to make it home without overthrowing the bourgeois wheel.

But today, International Workers Day, went off without a hitch. Maybe it was the red valve caps.

 

Labor daze

September 4, 2017

A little learning is a dangerous thing.

Reg’lars here at the Chuckle Hut know I once was a fan of all the Marx Brothers (Groucho, Harpo, Chico, Zeppo, Gummo and Karl).

Well, not so much Zeppo and Gummo.

Groucho, Harpo and Chico I stumbled across early on. Karl and I became acquainted in my second stab at college, where I enjoyed a brief flirtation with non-comedic Marxism — the Young Socialist Alliance/Socialist Workers Party, a Trotskyite crew, and the October League, a Maoist group that later became the Communist Party (Marxist-Leninist).

I’m not sure why a middle-class white boy wandered so far afield from the Republicrat-Demublican game of musical thrones.

There was the war in Vietnam, of course, but I was a year too young for the lottery and wouldn’t have volunteered until the Viet Cong were actually in Colorado and executing dope dealers.

The Yippies’ street theatricality appealed to me — I even tried to register as a Yippie for Nixon-McGovern ’72 — but the SWP and CP(ML) were decidedly unfunny, like a Marx Brothers movie starring Zeppo and Gummo.

Maybe it was working as a janitor as a college dropout. (Check out this NYT story about janitors then vs. janitors now.)

I didn’t push the idiot stick for big outfits like Kodak or Apple, but for smaller shops that were already outsourcing their cleanup to even smaller shops, like the one that employed me. My work took me to a couple downtown banks, a northside UPS location, a Salvation Army youth center and a southside sales office. No car, so I pedaled from place to place on a Schwinn Continental, a bicycle commuter before it was cool.

There were no opportunities for advancement at that job, or any of the others I worked before finally landing a copyboy gig at the Colorado Springs Sun. I found I liked newspaper work, and wanted to stay, but the managing editor said I’d be going nowhere fast without that ol’ sheepskin, so back I went to college, where Karl, Leon and Mao were loitering around, waiting for me to turn up.

Then the war finally ended, the Revolution fizzled, and I moved on, eventually finding myself with a B.A. in journalism and a job at the other newspaper in Bibleburg, the Gazette Telegraph.

The GT was a libertarian rag, owned by Freedom Newspapers out of Orange County, Calif., and it leaned so far right it was almost left. As a consequence the wages were low and the hours illegal, but it wasn’t long before I was offered a chance for advancement: heading up the education desk, which consisted of two other reporters plus Your Humble Narrator, who was so wet behind the ears you could have raised goldfish in my hair.

It was at that moment that I knew management was incompetent, and perhaps insane. And my sympathies returned to labor, where they have remained ever since.

Happy Labor Day.

Adios, Fidel

November 26, 2016
From "Reminiscences of the Cuban Revolutionary War," by Che Guevara.

From “Reminiscences of the Cuban Revolutionary War,” by Che Guevara.

Fidel has left the building.

Say what you will about the man who tugged Uncle Sam’s beard through 11 U.S. presidencies — I’ll always remember him for his snarky offer to send observers to help oversee the recount of Bush v. Gore in Florida.

Revolutions are iffy things; they don’t always turn out as planned, as we have seen elsewhere. It’s not the initial cost, it’s the upkeep.

P’raps they should come with a warning label: “Be careful what you wish for. You might get it.”

So comrades, come rally. …

May 1, 2015

Some news of the day (to be updated as I find it):

• Some workers of the world really have united.

 

Two dogs, same bone

February 24, 2015
It's a gray morning in Duke City, and the wizards predict a chance of snow.

It’s a gray morning in Duke City, and the wizards predict a chance of snow.

Once again we are reminded that elections have consequences.

Scott Walker, by some accounts the foremost of the 2,375,296 Republicans running for that party’s 2016 presidential nomination, is going after working folks again with “right to work” legislation. He professed no interest in reviving this anti-union measure while campaigning to keep his present job, but that was so 15 minutes ago. A tricornered hat full of Tea Bagger gold is all he cares about now.

Elsewhere, Bill O’Reilly is flailing around like a big dumb mutt in the dogcatcher’s truck, trying to convince the suckers that he was a double Ernie Pyle with a side of Ed Murrow back in the day, doing it hand-to-hand with the bad guys in the Falklands when he was actually boffing a sheep in his suite at the Hilton Buenos Aires.

He’ll be successful, of course, for the same reason that Walker will get his latest union-busting tool. Larry’s wife can tell you why.

Comrades, come rally

May 1, 2014

 Happy International Workers Day!

Shiny objects, si; child care, health care, no.

Guns, si; butter, no.

Flipping burgers is the new black.

Your papers!

No, really, your papers!

• Losing the spirit of May Day.

Turks defy ban on May Day rallies.

An uncomradely copyright on Marx and Engels.

Tim Carpenter’s politics of radical inclusion.

May Day, then and now.

More rabble-rousing as I find it.

For everything there is a season

January 28, 2014

Herself almost made it home last night, if you will concede that Denver International Airport qualifies as “almost home.”

The weather was moderately evil, and Herself’s flight from Chicago to Bibleburg was rerouted to Denver, a change of schedule about which I was blissfully ignorant until hanging a left off Powers onto the airport road after a very slow drive on icy, snow-covered streets.

“Where are you?” asks Herself, and I figure I’m about to get an earful for being late picking her up.

“Coming up on the airport,” sez I. “Where are you?”

“In Denver,” sez she.

And that’s the way things stayed. I hung out in the cellphone lot for an hour or so, waiting to see if the situation would resolve itself. United was waffling on whether the 15-minute flight was go or no-go, saying the Bibleburg airport was closed (the airport’s website proved useless on the iPhone, The Gazette had nothing about it, and I was feeling cantankerous and forbade myself to investigate in person).

Anyway, long story short, I motored back to Chez Dog to await instructions, United finally canceled that DIA-COS flight altogether, and I arranged a hotel room for Herself, who — having been scheduled to touch down in Bibleburg at 8:03 p.m. Monday — finally hit the hay at two-ish Tuesday in Saudi Aurora. Now she’s due in at 3:15 this afternoon. So it goes.

While awaiting dispatches from the front I learned of Pete Seeger’s passing, and this morning, in his honor, I decided not to go a-tilting at the windmills of customer service. It was late, the weather sucked, and the harried minions who seem like knee-jerk shitheels at first glance are just working stiffs, like us. They probably don’t like being United employees any more than we like being United customers.

Pete, that unreconstructed old commie, would have sung them a song.

Remembrances

• “Pete Seeger: This Man Surrounded Hate and Forced it To Surrender,” John Nichols, The Nation

• “R.I.P., Pete Seeger,” Charles P. Pierce, The Politics Blog

• “Pete Seeger, Songwriter and Champion of Folk Music, Dies at 94,” Jon Pareles, The New York Times

• “I simply wanted him to know that I loved him dearly,” Arlo Guthrie

On the nickel, over there

November 1, 2013

I dressed up as an old bald white guy for Halloween, but nobody noticed. Too subtle, I guess.

We did get a record crowd of trick-or-treaters, which may or may not have something to do with the cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program that took effect today.

One toddler pirate was into some serious pillaging, plucking booty from our candy bowl with both teensy fists. An adult joked, “I hope you’re planning to share that. …” Goddamn socialists. When I was a child, we had to make our own Halloween candy and then defend it by force of arms.

With this satanic celebration safely behind us now, it’s time for the sanctified seasonal festivities, like scrambling to find nifty places to stash the poor folks where holiday shoppers won’t have to look at ’em.

A beater South Nevada motel that has housed some 70 folks is closing, apparently to reopen in 2014 as “a center for mothers undergoing substance abuse treatment,” a need for which the necessary $300,000 per annum to house an estimated 20 moms and their kids has yet to materialize.

In the meantime, the Springs Rescue Mission will operate the city’s only overnight shelter for the chronically homeless throughout the winter, providing 30 beds for men and women. That has funding through April 15, but the mission apparently has plans to use the space for “an undetermined purpose” come springtime.

I bet springtime seems a long way off to a lot of these folks. The Baboon Caucus would like to ensure that it never comes. Not for the homeless. Anyone who doesn’t own at least three houses, a bank account in the Caymans and a senator is invisible to that crowd.