2,000 Illinois Children Abused by Priests
You read that figure correctly. Over the past 70 years, 2,000 children in Illinois alone were abused by Catholic Clergy. Instead of punishment in any form, many priests were shunted around to various parishes in an outlandish cover-up.
We've said it before, when such offenses first came to light. We must say it again. The absolute maximum number of abuses committed by any priest, anywhere, should have been ONE. That person should have been removed from his position immediately, and the Church should have made it perfectly clear that such an atrocity will never, ever be tolerated.
Gunshots: Not Again ... and Again and Again!
One week in April was a big one for gun-wielding homeowners. When a 16-year-old Black boy went to the wrong house in Kansas City to pick up his siblings and rang the bell, the 84-year-old white man inside answered with gunshots, firing through the glass door. Days later in upstate New York, a 20-year-old woman riding in a car was shot and killed by a 65-year-old man, after her driver inadvertently turned into the wrong driveway. On a Saturday night in Alabama, a Sweet Sixteen party for a 16-year-old girl ended with four young people killed and 32 injured. Late on a Tuesday, two teenage cheerleaders were shot in a Texas supermarket parking lot when one of them tried to open a car door, mistakenly thinking it was her own vehicle.
In Nashville in March, a shooter fired 152 shots inside a Christian elementary school, killing six: three 9-year-olds and three adults in their 60s. Two mass shootings took place in California within a two-day period in January. Eleven lay dead, with nine injured, in attack on dance studio near Los Angeles, as elder Chinese-Americans celebrated Lunar New Year. Near San Francisco, a farm worker shot workmates.
In the first three months of 2023, about 130 mass shootings took place, according to the Gun Violence Archive. NPR reported that 89 incidents involving a gun occurred at schools during that period. The nation's killing spree continued into early May, in Texas, where a man killed eight at an outlet mall, raising the nationwide total of mass shootings to 199. By mid-August, the total reached 460. And on, and on, and on.
When Will We Finally Learn: GUNS KILL!
Thinking About the Unthinkable
Could Mid-term 2022 Be Our Last Real U.S. Election?
Yes, the future (or demise) of democracy was on the November 8 mid-term ballot; and for many Americans, its prospects didn't look good. Two years earlier, as the 2020 presidential election drew to a close, voters for both candidates (but especially for Biden) expressed fear for the future.
Some of us began pondering possibilities that would have seemed ludicrous a few months previous. With the potential for political disaster looming in the 2022 Midterm election, searching for a way out seemed more compelling than ever. Subsequent events in January, as Republicans opened Congress with a slim House majority, added to the concern for American democracy. By April, two days after Donald J. Trump was indicted in New York, with nearly all Congressional Republicans taking his side, the country appeared more divided than ever, with no potential solution evident. What can we, as individuals on the liberal or progressive end of the political spectrum, do to survive?
Leave the country (not as easy as many Americans think).
Intensify peaceful protests.
Turn our attention to the states.
Tune out: Strive to ignore the worsening political scene.
Weigh the merits and drawbacks of splitting the country into red and blue nations: a drastic and difficult action, but possibly the only real solution.
If the latter still sounds too far-fetched, forming state coalitions could be a workable alternative. States with similar leanings might band together for their mutual benefit on such issues as trade, health care, abortion; and especially, the future of America. A Pacific States of America coalition, for instance, might include California, Oregon, Washington, and even Hawaii. In the same vein, groupings of several red states could appeal to anti-liberal conservatives.
Gun Advocates: Don't forget Annabell and Xavier
Annabell Guadalupe Rodriguez and Xavier James Lopez, both age 10, were best friends who texted "I love you" to each other. Acknowledging the young sweethearts' affection, their mothers had them buried next to each other at Hillcrest Cemetery in Uvalde, Texas. They were among the 19 children and two teachers murdered in schoolroom.
For more on Uvalde shooting and aftermath, as well as a report on an abortion-rights protest, Please Click Here
Could American billionaire halt global starvation?
David Beasley, director of the United Nations' World Food Programme, recently claimed that just 2 percent of Amazon chief Jeff Bezos' multibillion-dollar wealth could halt global starvation. Rival billionaire Elon Musk quickly responded, vowing to sell some Tesla stock to donate $6 billion to the cause of world hunger. With one proviso: that Mr. Beasley explain exactly how such a result could be achieved.
How much is that, anyway? Sounds like a lot, but $6 billion buys about 170,000 new cars; or half a million high-end iPhones. Those totals are a bit easier to grasp than a "6" followed by nine zeroes.
We, too, look forward to details on the calculations made by Mr. Beasley, who has expressed willingness to meet and elaborate. The World Food Program tweeted that a "one-time donation from the top 400 billionaires in the U.S. could help save the lives of 42 million people this year." If so, who else will step forward?
By censuring Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney, Republicans proclaimed the death of their party and the imminent demise of democracy in America. As CNN's main headline put it, May 12, 2021 was "a major turning point in US political history." One columnist noted that a single line in Cheney's speech to Congress "will haunt Republicans" from now this point forward. That line, referring to the "Big Lie" perpetrated by Donald Trump:
"Remaining silent and ignoring the lie emboldens the liar."
Unlike any predecessors, Mr. Trump never even pretended to be president of all the people; only his followers and MAGA Republicans. Everyone else was deemed an enemy, subject to verbal abuse. As his utterances, tweets, and actions made perfectly clear for four years, he was emphatically not the president of Democrats and progressives. For additional comments on Trumpism, please Click here.
White House Woes
Trump's Presidency In News Briefs
During first two years of his presidency, we compiled news items outlining the outrages committed by the Trump administration against American laws, values, and principles. We revived coverage for his final year in office, as the Covid pandemic erupted, concluding in January 2021. A PDF chronicling the three-week period prior to 2017 Inauguration also is available.
Click here to download White House Woes (PDF)
Click here for 2020-21 News Briefs
Click here for Countdown News Briefs (PDF)
July 24: Swedish court fines Greta Thunberg about $240 (U.S.) for refusing to obey police order during climate protest at oil facility. "We cannot save the world by playing by the rules," she told journalists after hearing the guilty verdict. She then rejoined the protest.
Since 2019, teenage Swedish activist Greta Thunberg has been speaking out forcefully about the lack of action on global climate change.
Ms. Thunberg has spoken at such events as the UN Climate Action Summit and the World Economic Forum, berating world leaders for doing "basically nothing" to reduce carbon emissions. In 2020, Greta returned to school, having dropped out for a year, but she continues her protest activities.
Greta mocked world leaders at Youth4Climate forum in Italy, asserting that for the past three decades, climate action has amounted to no more than "blah, blah, blah.... empty words and promises" that failed to lead to action. In February 2022, shortly after Russia attacked Ukraine in what it called a "special military operation," Greta joined a group of "Stand With Ukraine" protesters at a Russian embassy. Early in 1923, Ms. Thunberg carried off by police officers in Germany, following her participation in a coal mine protest. Not long afterward, she was briefly detained by police during a protest against wind farms in an indigenous area of Norway. Wind farms are said to adversely impact grazing by reindeer, which are herded by the Sami people in the region.
Click here for additional details on Greta's activities.
Toil & Trouble
Chronicle of workers' wages and commodity prices, 1886-1986
How much did Hudson Hornet sedan cost in 1953? What was average worker earning?
Click here to find out.
While chronicling the Trump phenomenon and its impact on American life, starting in 2015, Tirekicking Today began this section on work and labor. It builds upon the singular views in Work Hurts, one of our Books in Progress.
"No man is good enough to be another man's master."
George Bernard Shaw,
in Major Barbara
"I don't like to work. It tires me out."
Actor James Garner, portraying the reluctant lawman in Support Your Local Sheriff
"Only suckers work."
Actor John Derek, portraying criminally-inclined Nick Romano in film version of the Willard Motley novel Knock On Any Door (1949)
"I work all night, I work all day,
to pay the bills I have to pay.
Ain't it sad....
In the rich man's world"
Song lyric, ABBA, "Money, Money, Money"
Words On Work
Surprise! Some of us don't mind paying taxes (2023 update)
New Ways To Look at Work
Overview: Imaginative Approaches Required ...
Reject! For some applicants, job search is futile exercise
Quit calling us consumers!
Solidarity Forever? (2023 update)
Prioritize! Living with Less and Liking It
Own Nothing, Owe Nothing
Let's break the chain of consumer debt
Needed Now: Jobs, Not Careers
New essays on labor, work, money, and related topics will be added periodically.
Work/Labor News Headlines
October 30: GM agrees to new contract with auto workers' union. Days earlier, Ford, followed by Stellantis, signed similar agreements. Workers must vote on the new contracts before they're finalize. Workers are to be granted 25 percent wage increase over 4.5-year period.
October 24: UAW strike expands to Ram Truck plant, with 6,800 additional workers walking out of job.
October 6: September jobs report is surprisingly strong, with 336,000 new jobs; unemployment rate steady at 3.8 percent.
October 6: UAW president Shawn Fain gives update while wearing "Eat the Rich" T-shirt, as autoworkers strike continues into fourth week; GM agrees to let new EV battery plant be unionized. Actors also remain on strike, but writers are back at work. Strike against Kaiser Permanente ends after three days, the limit for healthcare workers, but union advises that another strike is possible.
October 4: 75,000 workers strike against Kaiser Permanente ... called biggest healthcare worker's strike in American history.
September 27: Film/TV writers' strike is settled; late-night talk show hosts quickly announce prompt return to TV. Meanwhile, Hollywood actors' strike continues.
September 15: United Auto Workers union strikes against "Detroit 3" automakers, seeking wage hikes, reform of wage-tier system, and a four-day week.
September 4: Los Angeles topless bar recognizes union of striptease dancers, under auspices of Actors' Equity Association, likely making it the nation's first unionized strip club in a decade. (CNN)
September 4: Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that 187,000 new jobs were created in August, as the unemployment rate increased to 3.8 percent (from 3.5 percent in July). The number of unemployed persons rose by 514,000 (to 6.4 million). A year earlier, the unemployment rated as 3.7 percent and 6.0 million were unemployed.
September 4: Texas governor continues to send busloads of migrants to northern (Democratic) cities, notably New York and Chicago, overwhelming capacity of both cities to provide shelter. Migrants have been living temporarily in police stations and shuttered schools, as well as repurposed hotels. Critics call for substantial increase in number of "expedited" work permits, issued at a quicker pace, which would allow many more asylum seekers to work in the U.S.
August 25: Strike by Hollywood screenwriters hits 115-day mark, well past duration of the 2007-08 strike action. Negotiations halted in early May. but resumed on August 11. Actors also remain on strike, as movie and TV production companies stand idle. Like other scripted presentations, late-night TV talk shows continue to rely on reruns.(The New York Times)
August 25: United Auto Workers union members vote overwhelmingly to authorize strike, "if warranted," while contract talks with "Big 3" automakers (GM, Ford and Stellantis) continue. Final count is not yet completed, but union claims 97 percent voted to authorize. Four years ago, in a similar situation, 96 percent voted in favor. (CNBC)
August 21: Teamsters union settles with UPS, diminishing threat of strike.
July 21: As part of move to relax child labor laws, since 2021 seven states have lowered the age at which a person can serve as a bartender. Wisconsin is seeking to reduce the age for serving alcohol from 18 to 14. (CNN)
July 6: Survey of 2,500 adults finds they would need to earn $233,000 (average) per year to feel financially secure, and nearly half a milllion to feel rich or attain financial freedom. (Bankrate)
Additional Labor news items, especially related to low-wage, contract, and temporary work, will be posted periodically.
"No Human Being Is Illegal"
Sign carried by protester marching in support of "Dreamers" on January 19, 2018
Work/Labor in Print
In 2018, Amazon announced that 20 cities were on the "short list" of possible sites for the company's second headquarters. Each city offered massive incentives in its quest to attract Amazon, which promised to create 50,000 jobs.
Before a final decision was made, residents of those cities might have benefited from reading a vivid description of the working life in an Amazon warehouse, in one chapter of Nomadland. Jessica Bruder chronicles lives of "houseless" Americans, many elderly, who live in vans and RVs, working at seasonal and short-term jobs (including Amazon warehouses) to survive. A film version directed by Chloe Zhao, starring Frances McDormand, won Academy Awards for Best Director, Picture, and Actress.
On the Clock, another book focused on low-wage toil, painted an even bleaker picture of worklife within an Amazon warehouse. Laid-off reporter Emily Guendelsberger spent an exhausting, painful month at a massive warehouse in Kentucky, then traveled to North Carolina for a job at a call center. Not only does she report in fascinating detail about her experiences, she provides an excellent chronicle of aspects of labor history that led to today's low-wage worklives. Her observations on Henry Ford and Frederick Taylor, a pioneer in industrial efficiency, are especially illuminating.
In 2019, the PBS NewsHour aired an investigation of safety records at Amazon warehouses. A year later, as many employers faced serious labor shortages, Amazon announced a plan to hire 150,000 temporary workers for holiday season.
"[W]hile there is a soul in prison, I am not free."
Eugene Debs (in 1918 court statement)
Five-time Socialist candidate for president
Work On Film
12 Vintage Movies About Work and Labor that should not be missed:
The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948)
I'm All Right, Jack (1957)
The Organizer (1963; Italian)
Wages of Fear (1953)
Office Space (1999)
The Misfits (1961)
Death of a Salesman (1951)
Bachelor Party (1957)
They Drive By Night (1940)
No Down Payment (1957)
Greed (2019); scathing satire on extreme wealth and poverty
The Good Boss (2021) Spanish film starring Javier Bardem
Please Click Here for details on each film.
Turning to TV...
Revival of the Roseanne TV sitcom, renamed The Connors following the forced departure of the principal actress, again serves as a reminder that TV shows about working-class families can demonstrate excellence along with witty humor. The original series (1988-1997) was adeptly written and expertly performed, realistically depicting the troubles and joys of an economically-challenged family. Initially, the current iteration retained much of the flavor of the original, but later episodes have been less compelling.
You know what the weirdest part about having a job is? You have to be there every day, even on the days you don t feel like it.
Jemima Kirke as Jessa Johansson, in episode 4 of the HBO series Girls, created and written by Lena Dunham
"He that has to obey the will of another is a slave."
Samuel Fielden (1886)
Success is going from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.
Typically attributed to Winston Churchill, but actual source is uncertain
The Dunning-Kruger effect:
"Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge."
"I am, somehow, less interested in the weight and convolutions of Einstein's brain than in the near certainty that people of equal talent have lived and died in cotton fields and sweatshops."
Stephen Jay Gould (1941-2002)
Paleontologist, The Panda's Thumb
"Anyone who is willing to work and is serious about it will certainly find a job. Only you must not go to the man who tells you this, for he has no job to offer and doesn't know anyone who knows of a vacancy."
B. Traven - Author, The Treasure of the Sierra Madre