You Just Got A Lot Less Free

Recently, the Supreme Court ruled against you, me, and everyone else in the Janus vs AFSCME case. Now, everyone in the public sector, regardless of the state in which he or she resides, is in a “right to work” state.

Basically, it means that people in union jobs in the public sector no longer are required to pay union dues, and yet they will get the benefit of union services. That sounds great unless you scratch the surface. If fewer of us pay union dues, the unions will spend more time financially struggling, and less time protecting workers.

Why should you care? Trust me, I lived in Florida, a “right to work” state, for decades. For the past 4 years, I’ve been in Washington, a collective bargaining state, and the differences were blatantly obvious.

For starters, I am now earning 3 times as much for doing the exact same job. In Florida I was barely making more than minimum wage, and had no benefits to speak of. Here in Washington, I get holiday pay and sick leave and have medical and dental and vision insurance. I have retirement. In other words, I can survive.

In Florida, when we were exposed to lead paint, our supervisor told us to drink more milk. That was supposed to take care of lead poisoning. Here, our health and safety is so focused on, it’s the opposite extreme, meaning I have to wear a hard hat every time I step out on the sidewalk. But at least I won’t be hit by a low flying plane!

In Florida, I could be fired for no reason at all, and it happened to people all the time. In Washington, even the people who should get fired almost never do. But at least you can sleep at night, knowing you’ll have a job tomorrow.

Don’t get me wrong: They still try to screw you over in Washington State. They just don’t succeed as often. Thanks to unions. And that’s something to hold on to. But now, that’s gone. Greedy people will stop paying their union dues. (I’ll keep paying. They’ve saved my bacon too many times to stop supporting them now.) Without our support, the unions will get stretched thinner and thinner until they break.

And that’s what the conservatives are counting on. You elected them. Now look at what is going to happen to you. The statistics in the image below are all too true. And the crazy thing is, even if you aren’t in a union job, these statistics trickle down to you as well.

Okay, I’m not explaining this well. (I tend to be less coherent when I’m upset.) Check out this video and you’ll understand. It’s 3:35, so only a few minutes of your time to realize just how screwed this conservative-packed supreme court just made you.

Welcome to our new reality. Think about that next time you enter the voting booth. And happy 4th of July.

#UnionStrong #FreedomToJoin


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Environmental Pragmatism

I care about the environment very much. I recycle. I conserve whenever I can. I turn off lights. I try to have as little impact on the planet as possible. If I could afford a hybrid car, I’d definitely have one. My purchases are green ones whenever that option is available and within my means. I have no doubt whatsoever that global warming exists, and that scares me silly.

But I do drive a car. I live in a big city. I consume. I rely heavily on infrastructure. I struggle to reduce my consumption of meat. My refrigerator is running even as we speak. I’m willing to bet that yours is, too.

There is a certain amount of damage one does simply by virtue of the fact that one is a modern human being. This saddens and frustrates me, but there you have it. This attitude is why I could never be considered environmentally radical.

I genuinely think that while we have a long, long way to go, we are trying. Every day at work I look down at the ship canal that cuts through the center of Seattle and I marvel that it’s so crystal clear. I’m sure that wasn’t the case in the 50’s.

I love that we have invented more energy efficient lightbulbs and appliances. I think it’s wonderful that our sewage doesn’t run in the streets like it did in the 1800’s, but make no mistake, the sewage still exists. At least now it gets treated, for what that’s worth.

I’m glad that we’ve taken lead out of gasoline and house paint. When I enter a modern building I don’t worry about asbestos. We have, at the very least, learned from some of our massive mistakes.

So I’m not bitter about the environment. I’m worried about it. I believe we all have a very important part to play in conserving it. But I haven’t given up hope.

[Image credit:]
[Image credit:]

Thomas Midgley, Jr.

If you did a random survey of 100 people and asked, “Who was the most destructive man in history?” you’d get a variety of answers, I’m sure. Adolf Hitler. Pol Pot. The guy who invented Twinkies. But I’d be shocked if any of those people would even know Thomas Midgley’s name, let alone the havoc he wreaked on the world.

Thomas Midgley, Jr. was the guy who invented the lead additive in gasoline, despite the fact that lead poisoning had been around for a long time before that. Given that knowledge, it’s anybody’s guess why he thought that would be a good idea.

He was also on the ground floor for the invention of CFCs, known by most of us as Freon. He really thought he was doing us a favor, but the planet will never be the same. The responsibility for the hole in the ozone layer can be laid squarely upon this man’s shoulders.

He actually had over a hundred patents in his name, and I’m sure some of those were just dandy. He certainly won his fair share of awards at the time. But his legacy will always be two of the most environmentally destructive substances ever created, and even a lifetime of good works couldn’t possibly undo that.

Thomas Midgley, Jr [Image credit:]
Thomas Midgley, Jr
[Image credit:]