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    • Review of “Descarte’s Error” by Antonio Damasio
      This book is a bit long in the tooth now, having been published in 95.  The role it suggests for emotion in the use of reason is, in generalities, no longer controversial. But it was a landmark book for me, when I read it, and it’s still relevant and worth reading. There’s been a LOT […]
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Labor Day 2017

Stand up and sing this song…


Friend of the Blog, Greg, would like us to remember the origins of Labor Day. It started with the Haymarket Riots in Chicago in 1886. The riots happened in May of that year. Workers protesting for better working conditions at the McCormick factory were fired upon by police. Two workers were killed. Demonstrations continued over the next two days until someone threw a dynamite bomb at police killing 6 police. Police in turn killed an additional 4 workers officially. There were reports of some 50 wounded or dying civilians in the street in the aftermath of the riots but that, fearing arrest or retribution, these people didn’t go to the hospital.

Eight “anarchists” were arrested for the bomb. The bomb maker was identified, the suspected bomb thrower was never caught. He fled the country before his arrest. The others were labor leaders and organizers who were never proven to have any involvement in the bombing. Most of them had left the rally before the bombing or had alibis. Four were eventually hanged, one committed suicide, two had their sentences commuted.

They became martyrs for the labor cause and commemoration of the riots lead to Labor Day. The actual day was moved to September to avoid connection to May Day, the internationally recognized celebration of workers.

A little closer to my home, the Homestead Strike happened in 1892 in Homestead, PA at the steel mill along the Monongahela river. Nine strikers died.

The fight for fair working conditions was a long and bloody one. It gave us the 8 hour day and the weekend, the right to collective bargaining and living wages.

And in the span of about 40 years, we’ve allowed almost all of our gains to be rolled back. Silicon Valley moguls get off on “fluid labor laws” in the US that allow them to hire and fire workers as they see fit. The fight for gender equity in pay is still ongoing and suffered a setback this week when Trump rescinded a rule requiring companies of 100 employees or more to disclose salary information. And in several states recently, the GOP has managed to get bills passed limiting the ability to protest. I’m sure the ACLU is on it but even if these bills go all the way to the Supreme Court, they’re likely to stand given the court’s set in stone conservative balance. It will take generations to overturn that.

It never gets easier. That’s why it’s very important for voters to not allow themselves to be mesmerized by the biggest loud mouth in the room who promises to make liberals squirm.

Rich and ruthless white guys have always had an agenda. It affects all of us in the end.