Friday, March 25, 2011

Cherry Blossoms on the graves

On the hundredth anniversary of the Triangle Shirtwaist factory fire (the fourth worst industrial accident in the US), we stand poised to see the end of every advance to have come from that tragedy. Strong unions came from the deaths of those 146 workers that day, the US Dept of Labor came two years later. Child labor laws became the norm as the majority of those killed were teenage girls.

The International Ladies Garment Union that came to prominence after the fire has ceased to exist as the production has all been outsourced. In Bagladesh alone there have been 414 garment workers killed in factory fires in recent years, almost all were young girls.

Republicans chant that “we must do away with all the burdensome regulations that send our jobs overseas“. Child labor laws, government inspectors, labor unions, all regulation of business soon to become a thing of history. Of course there won’t be any history as the first thing Republicans do when coming to office is flush history down the memory hole. The removal of art work from the Labor Department in Maine, the re-writing of school books to the absolute control of news media, the assault on knowledge by Republicans is unrelenting.  

Not that Republicans don’t create jobs, besides making blouses in Bangladesh (that’s what a shirtwaist is) they have they been creating them in the US. Now for every three conventional workers in the US there is one protecting the wealth of the top one percent. This includes police, prison guards and private security from the mall cop to the armed response team protecting the gated community. We aren’t quite the police state of East Germany, they employed 40% of their workers guarding the rest but it is a growth industry here.

Increasingly it’s not the security state but it is private industry, Republicans can’t privatize the prisons fast enough. Police are one of the first things they cut from the budget and the new austerity requires that they don’t spend much time protecting the common citizen. Security is something you have only if you can pay for it.

Feeling insecure? Don’t worry, the Alaska Bill is making the rounds in the state legislatures. The Alaska Bill? It might be called the Arizona Bill except for that unpleasantness involving a member of Congress outside a strip mall there, not long ago. It’s also called the “Constitutional” carry law for handguns or really no law for handguns. A Republican was inadvertently recorded on the floor of the Iowa House explaining it to a colleague, [Alaska bill?] “it’s the give a gun to a schizophrenic law” .

Well at least we don’t live in Japan. The government there has admitted that there must be some leakage from the number three reactor that has the plutonium fuel and they have expanded the evacuation zone. Now they are trying to walk back that information saying the workers may have been burned from some other source.

This is the 99th anniversary of the Mayor of Tokyo giving the cherry trees to Washington DC. The world has changed so much but yet it hasn’t.


ickenittle said...

The new Republican bumber sticker slogan is-Rising tides lift all boats.

I guess it's the "new" trickle down.

But what it really means is we will own the tides and let you rent-to-own the boats.