Thursday, February 24, 2011

A little less action and a little more conversation

This country has a unique ability to distract itself from real issues.

The battles between unions and state governments make for great theater, but are they actually accomplishing anything meaningful?

Each side seems so intent on protecting their respective turfs that neither seems to be looking at the bigger picture. How do we make sure people can earn a decent living in a way that is sustainable over the long term?

By making the discussion about unions vs employers or unions vs the government, you effectively exclude most of the nation from the debate. Fact is, only about 7 percent of private sector employees are in unions and about 35 percent of public employees.

So, for most of us, unions are irrelevant.

And before anyone goes off on the old 'unions created the middle class' speech, let me just say that I understand that. And I appreciate it. But it has absolutely nothing to do with our current situation.

The world we face now is drastically different than the one that saw unions make such great strides for America. So let's stop dwelling on the past and focus on the best way to protect workers in the future.

How do we deal with the increasing globalization of our economy? How do we make sure teachers, cops and firemen are paid well without bankrupting states and cities? How do we keep workers safe? How can we increase and improve training opportunities? How can we reward those that do a good job and weed out those who slack off?

Some may say unions are the only answer. But I think we can do better. It's time to get a little more creative and come up with some alternate ideas. More inclusive ideas. Ideas that make sense for the world we live in today and can evolve into the future.

Unfortunately, our politicians have too much at stake in this game. And I'm not sure either one gives two shits about the average American worker.

Republicans want unions to die a fast, painful death. Which makes sense when your largest donors are corporations that think the world would probably be a better place if we could just revert back to slave labor.

Democrats are no better, kissing so much union ass they probably think the sky is white and hairy. But I guess that's the price you pay when you view the AFL-CIO and the SEIU as your campaign organization's ATM machine.

As for the American worker? He's stuck with stagnant wages, diminishing benefits and little to no job security. It's going to take more than angry posturing to put things back on the right track. It will only get better when we see real leadership emerge, with bold thinking and a genuine concern for our fellow citizens.

This may take a while.

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