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The Meaning of Labor Day

Posted on 01 September 2014 by Change-Links

By Gabe Gabrielsky

ChangeLinks_septCoverThe meaning of Labor Day has been lost to most Americans, just as is the case with many other holidays such as Independence Day, Memorial Day or Christmas. For most people today Labor Day signifies a great day for bargain sales at retail stores, the beginning of a new school year and most of all the end of summer.

In contrast, Labor Day was originally intended to be a celebration for working people in general and by organized labor in particular, was dedicated to the social and economic achievements of working people and constitutes (theoretically, at least) a yearly national tribute to the contributions working people have made to the well being of the nation.

In the past, it was celebrated in cities throughout the nation by street parades to show the strength and esprit de corps of the labor organizations of the community accompanied by a festival and picnic for the recreation and amusement of workers and their families and speeches by prominent men and women. Wilmington is unique in continuing a tradition that is no longer observed in most of the nation.

The first Labor Day was held by the New York Central Labor Union in 1882. By 1885 it had become a national event, celebrated by Central Labor Unions in virtually every industrial center of the nation on the first Monday in September, though not yet a statutory holiday. The next year, 1886 a national one-day general strike was called to demand an 8-hour workday. Half a million workers took part nationally but the center of the movement was in Chicago, where a number of other strikes were underway immediately before and after May 1. On May 3 a striking worker was killed by police while picketing outside the McCormick Harvesting Machine Company factory. As a consequence a group of anarchists called for a protest demonstration the next night in Haymarket Square. As that demonstration broke up a bomb was thrown into the police who surrounded the demo, killing a police officer. The police then charged into the crowd firing. While some shots were fired from the crowd, most of the shots were from the police an in the darkness they ended up shooting at each other. In all, seven policemen and at least four workers were killed. About 60 policemen were wounded in the incident and as many as 70 civilians, though it is unclear how many civilians were wounded since many, fearing arrest, chose not to seek professional medical attention.

There was an immediate police crackdown supported by the press and business interests on labor unions, but especially on anarchists and German immigrants. Ultimately 8 German and German-American anarchists were arrested. Only two of the defendants had been present at Haymarket at the time the bomb was thrown, and they were on the speakers’ podium urging the crowd to cooperate with police and disperse. One was sentenced to 15 years and the other 7 to be hanged. Of the seven, two had their sentences commuted to life in prison. One committed suicide the night before the executions and four were executed. The incident got considerable press coverage in the rest of the world and there was considerable support for the Haymarket martyrs outside of the United States.

In the years following the Haymarket incident organized labor in America continued to celebrate both the first Monday in September and the first of May as labor holidays, though May 1 was more a continued struggle for the eight hour day which did not become law until 1937 when the Fair Labor Standards Act was passed. In addition to the continuing struggle for the eight-hour day, May 1 also became an international labor holiday celebrating labor militancy in general and commemorating the Haymarket martyrs.

Following the deaths of a number of workers at the hands of the U.S. military and U.S. Marshals during the Pullman Strike in 1894 Congress, seeking to mute labor militancy with a carrot as well as a stick, rushed through legislation unanimously approving legislation that made Labor Day, the first Monday in September, a national holiday. President Grover Cleveland signed it into law a mere six days after the end of the strike. Thus, the September date that had originally been chosen by the New York Central Labor Union and which had already been observed by labor unions throughout the nation for several years was selected rather than the more widespread May Day date in order especially to disassociate Labor Day from a commemoration of the Haymarket martyrs. Nevertheless, in most of the world, “Labor Day” is synonymous with May 1 in commemoration of the eight-hour day movement, which began in 1886 in Chicago.

©2014 [Robert Paul Gabrielsky] any or all of this document may be reprinted, with attribution, by anyone, anywhere and at any time.

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March 4, 2014: PDF Version of Calendar

Posted on 04 March 2014 by John Johnson

Women2Download .pdf

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Governmental Bureaucracy

Posted on 04 March 2014 by John Johnson

Governmental Bureaucracy

 

By John Johnson

 

I got bogged down in it the last couple of months.  I accidental deposited funds for Change Links into a personal account.  In about a  week my Social Security was cut way down,  my food money, saying I had too much money in my bank account.  They are monitoring it I guess.

 

I fixed it at the bank but so far they haven’t fixed it on their end..

 

Someone from Social Security, a Social Worker of some sort spent a few hours at my place filling out forms and having me sign them.  Not sure what it all meant. Bureaucracy can be so much fun.

 

Nothing compare to Yemen, where the US fired missiles and drones at wedding parties of folks they think were rebels or Al Jacda.   Opps.

 

Across the globe, throughout states, like Montana, Ohio, North Carolina, and Florida,  State Legislatures dominated by corporations  and are pushing through laws that limit the amount of welfare poor people get, cutting down the days and times for voting and just making it harder for the poor and working class to eat and vote.

 

Rebellions are breaking out against repressive and corporate dominated governments around the world.  The Ukraine, Western Russia, Thailand, Venezuela, .Central Africa and many other places including in various States across the US.   Can anyone say “class warfare”.

 

Governments and Corporations work at manipulating the hell out of us.  They want us to not to question but go along with the programs they have arranged for us.  Work 10 hours a day, buy stuff and watch TV.  Don’t bother our pretty little heads with whats really going on.  When the Sixties erupted all of a sudden tons of various drugs became available.  Don’t go to a meeting, don’t protest the Vietnam War, smoke dope and listen to music. Don’t organize but go to a concert. 

 

The hedonism of the Seventies was on purpose.  To redirect the political movements.  Porno became available.  We got the Manson gang, always known to the police.  We got the murders of civil rights activist, and the Black Panthers.

 

By the Eighties labor jobs were moved to cheap labor and repressive governments over seas.   Labor unions here became less viable.  Strike and your jobs are gone or moved to Mississippi or Texas, or Thailand,  who have a lot less of those pesky  unions and fair salaries.

 

Why I keep this newspaper going, to try, in our small way, to get some truth out.  Why you should be supporting us.

 

 

 

 

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85 Billionaires and the Better Half

Posted on 04 March 2014 by John Johnson

by Michael Parenti

An urban slum in Hanoi, Viet Nam. (Photo: Flickr / United Nations / Creative Commons)The world’s 85 richest individuals possess as much wealth as the 3.5 billion souls who compose the poorer half of the world’s population, or so it was announced in a report by Oxfam International. The assertion sounds implausible to me.  I think the 85 richest individuals, who together are worth many hundreds of billions of dollars, must have far more wealth than the poorest half of our global population.

How could these two cohorts, the 85 richest and 3.5 billion poorest, have the same amount of wealth? The great majority of the 3.5 billion have no net wealth at all. Hundreds of millions of them have jobs that hardly pay enough to feed their families. Millions of them rely on supplements from private charity and public assistance when they can. Hundreds of millions are undernourished, suffer food insecurity, or go hungry each month, including many among the very poorest in the United States.

“The number of people living in poverty is growing at a faster rate than the world’s population. So poverty is spreading even as wealth accumulates. It is not enough to bemoan this enormous inequality, we must also explain why it is happening.”

Most of the 3.5 billion earn an average of $2.50 a day. The poorest 40 percent of the world population accounts for just 5 percent of all global income. About 80 percent of all humanity live on less than $10 a day. And the poorest 50 percent  maintain only 7.2 percent of the world’s private consumption. How exactly could they have accumulated an amount of surplus wealth comparable to the 85 filthy richest?

Hundreds of millions live in debt even in “affluent” countries like the United States. They face health care debts, credit card debts, college tuition debts, and so on. Many, probably most who own homes—and don’t live in shacks or under bridges or in old vans—are still straddled with mortgages. This means their net family wealth is negative, minus-zero. They have no  propertied wealth; they live in debt.

Millions among the poorest 50 percent in the world may have cars but most of them also have car payments. They are driving in debt.  In countries like Indonesia, for the millions without private vehicles, there are the overloaded, battered buses, poorly maintained vehicles that specialize in breakdowns and ravine plunges. Among the lowest rungs of the 50 percent are the many who pick thru garbage dumps and send their kids off to work in grim, soul-destroying sweatshops.

The 85 richest in the world probably include the four members of the Walton family (owners of Wal-Mart, among the top ten superrich in the USA) who together are worth over $100 billion. Rich families like the DuPonts have controlling interests in giant corporations like General Motors, Coca-Cola, and United Brands. They own about forty manorial estates and private museums in Delaware alone and have set up 31 tax-exempt foundations. The superrich in America and in many other countries find ways, legal and illegal, to shelter much of their wealth in secret accounts. We don’t really know how very rich the very rich really are.

Regarding the poorest portion of the world population—whom I would call the valiant, struggling “better half”—what mass configuration of wealth could we possibly be talking about? The aggregate wealth possessed by the 85 super-richest  individuals, and the aggregate wealth owned by the world’s 3.5 billion poorest, are of different dimensions and different natures. Can we really compare private jets, mansions, landed estates, super luxury vacation retreats, luxury apartments, luxury condos, and luxury cars, not to mention hundreds of billions of dollars in equities, bonds, commercial properties, art works, antiques, etc.—can we really compare all that enormous wealth against some millions of used cars, used furniture, and used television sets, many of which are ready to break down?  Of what resale value if any, are such minor durable-use commodities, especially in communities of high unemployment, dismal health and housing conditions, no running water, no decent sanitation facilities, etc? We don’t really know how poor the very poor really are.

Millions of children who number in the lower 50 percent never see the inside of a school. Instead they labor in mills, mines and on farms, under conditions of peonage.  Nearly a billion people are unable to read or write. The number of people living in poverty is growing at a faster rate than the world’s population. So poverty is spreading even as wealth accumulates. It is not enough to bemoan this enormous inequality, we must also explain why it is happening.

But for now, let me repeat: the world’s richest 85 individuals do not have the same amount of accumulated wealth as the world’s poorest 50 percent. They have vastly more. The multitude on the lower rungs—even taken as a totality—have next to nothing.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License.

Michael Parenti

Michael Parenti’s recent books include: God and His Demons (Prometheus), Contrary Notions: The Michael Parenti Reader (City Lights); Democracy for the Few, 9th ed. (Wadsworth); The Assassination of Julius Caesar (New Press), Superpatriotism (City Lights), and The Culture Struggle (Seven Stories Press). For further information, visit his website: www.michaelparenti.org.

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The Perils of Progressive Media

Posted on 31 January 2014 by John Johnson

by John Johnson

Last month we got an email from the Getty Foundation. They demanded $350 from Change- Links, claiming that we used one of their photos on a page from our Website from about three months ago. On it, we’d ran an article about a homeless families. To illustrate it I chose a photo I found on the Web of a homeless family.

A number of years ago the Getty empire started buying up all the photos they could, especially ones with news value, then charging for their use. Many artists and others waged a large campaign to stop this monopolization of art but so far it hasn’t stopped them.

Change-Links continues to eke itself out without any corporate or think tank support. We’re one of the few remaining examples of genuine public media. And one of the very few progressive publications still in operation. It’s a lot of work to get out.

It’s also critical at this time for us to build a more organized progressive movement in the US. Occasional progressive and radical outbreaks, like the Occupy movement, infuse us with hope, but they don’t last. We no longer have the base of college movements that were once a vital source of energy and continuity to keep things moving.

During the Seventies we tried to build a working class movement, focusing on both community and the work place. But we couldn’t sustain it after a few years. And by then the student actions were already ebbing.

Today corporations dominate the country and our lives. Wall Street rakes in billions in exchange for ruining the lives of untold poor and working class families. Corporations work hand in glove with government officials to bilk and funnel massive amounts of taxpayer money into their own pockets.

Not that it ever existed, but democracy is next to dead in this country. And it’s pretty much the same throughout the rest of the world, worse in some places, better in others. Dictators have figured out that fraud works better than brute force to keep the population in tow, though they don’t hesitate to use both.

The best news sources on broadcast media are Amy Goodman’s “Democracy Now,” and Thom Hartmann. Rachael Madow can be good, but we took a big hit when they got rid of Keith Obermann.

The corporations and the government are not going to establish a fair and balanced public broadcast or print media, much less a progressive one. We’ve got to do it ourselves. Amy Goodman gets a lot of support, and can always use more. But Change-Links is hanging by a thread that gets more frayed with every issue. If you value the news and information we provide, we need your donations and/or volunteer time. Now!

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Los Angeles AM Radio

Posted on 30 January 2014 by John Johnson

Los Angeles AM radio took a deep drop when the owner of KFI and KTLK,  Clear Channel, took off the liberals on KTLK and replaced them with the same morons from KFI, like Rush Limbaugh, twice a day now.  So the only thing worth my car radio it is KPPC .and KPFK.

You can see Tom Hartman on Free Speech TV, and listen to Randi Rhodes and Mike Malloy on the Internet.  Randi at Noon and Mike at 6 PM.

Monopolies have been the ban of most of us for the past 150 years.  And many since then have been trying to put them out of business but they been able to bribe various governmental entities and keep on ripping us off.

A year ago progressive environmentalist and general activist, Aaron Swartz did not take his own life. He was murdered in order to save the state the embarrassment of losing their trumped up trial against him. He faced a maximum of 6 months in jail, reduced to 3 for good behavior as is the law, not 35 years as the complicit press will tell you. He was killed so that a movement he helped lead would be crippled right before another SOPA / PIPA internet crushing bill is about to take shape. .. He said, and Scott Creighton paraphrases “Access to knowledge must not be measured by access to money” and that is why he hacked into the JSTOR files and released those academic journals for all the people for free. That was his major crime against humanity that the Obama Justice Department wanted to prosecute him for and that is ultimately why he died. Scott Creighton  paraphrases “Access to knowledge must not be measured by access to money” and that is why he hacked into the JSTOR files and released those academic journals for all the people for free. That was his major crime against humanity that the Obama Justice Department wanted to prosecute him for and that is ultimately why he died.”  Look him up.

It might be caused from my heart problems last February or just age but my short term memory is getting spotty.  Nothing important but like forgetting things I meant to get at the market and have to go back..  Time seems a little fluid.  Less hard stops and gos.

Maybe I should call the NSA and have them sent a daily report of what I did and what I need to do.

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