Tomorrow begins today

Well, my guy announced his candidacy for the '08 Presidential yesterday, as expected. I'm not going to be heavily into the horserace until about this time next year -- I do, after all, have a life -- but John Edwards has been my guy ever since the last Presidential, when no one knew who he was and everyone was still talking about Howard Dean (whom I adored, but I figured then -- and still do now -- that Edwards is our best chance and hope for taking the Presidency). I saw him do an early, early version of his Two Americas speech, still one of the best and most underreported campaign stump speeches ever, and he had me at hello.

Since the end of the 2004 campaign, he's channeled his energy into his One America Campaign. His signature issue? Poverty. One of the biggest issues in this country not just today, but for at least the last 30 years, and at the root of or intertwined with so many other big social/political issues -- the economy, health care, crime, domestic violence, education, hunger, illiteracy, gender inequality, racial inequality, teen pregnancy -- and it's been a political non-starter since the end of WWII. The last president to seriously address poverty, FDR, fundamentally changed our country and the course it charted through historical waters through his vision of America.

Do I think Edwards is the next FDR? No. I don't even think he's the next Kennedy. What I do think is that he's not just talking the talk, but he's been walking the walk since he committed himself to this issue, and that's reflected by where he chose to make his announcement: New Orleans. And not from a fancy hotel, but in the midst of the ongoing hurricane cleanup, in the poorest of the poor districts of that benighted city, and after already spending days swinging a hammer working on houses there when the cameras weren't rolling. He's been doing it since last year, actually, and while President Cuckoo Bananas gets a thumbs up from the media everytime he manages to string two words together, John Edwards has been doing the kind of thing we'd want our President to be doing.

And this is the kind of thing we want our President to be saying:

This campaign is about each of us taking responsibility for our country's future -- and ensuring America’s greatness in the 21st century.

It is a campaign not just about what we can do in the White House -- but what we can do on the way.

We all must take responsibility and take action now to:

  • Provide moral leadership in the world
  • Strengthen our middle class and end poverty
  • Guarantee universal health care for every American
  • Lead the fight against global warming
  • Get America and other countries off our addiction to oil

If we want to live in a moral and just America tomorrow, we cannot wait until the next President is elected to begin to take action.

Tomorrow begins today.
I'll have more to say about John Edwards as the year rolls on and the campaign heats up. And it's entirely possible I'll change my mind on candidates*. But for right now, I see Edwards as our Next Great Hope, not just for a Presidential candidate, but for a President.

*(Especially if Al Gore tosses his hat in the ring. He won't -- I believe his repeated statements that he's on a different path -- but if for some reason he did, I'd have to go with my first love, the very first candidate I ever campaigned for, way back in 1988 when I was a dorky high-school kid. I believe in John Edwards, but Al Gore is my hero and he comes before all others.)


it's the holidays, time to redecorate

What with the holidays and all, and Blogger's official transition from Blogger Beta to New Blogger, it seemed like a good time to redesign the blog up a bit.

I made the switch over to Blogger Beta a couple of months ago, suffered through the various buggy crap like everyone else who made the switch in beta, and despite some of the headaches, I do like the simpler interfaces and the ease of changing the design and color without having to edit the code by hand. Because messing around with HTML and CSS leaves precious little time for actually blogging, and as I'm sure my devoted readership of two whole people can attest, I already do this infrequently enough as it is.

So. Hope you like the new design and layout. Note the new format for the archive, which I think is my favorite part. I didn't get to pick the pic up top and haven't yet figured out if or how to switch it out with something else, but I pretty much like the overall look. It's nice to change things once in awhile, no?


Corporate promises and other empty words

If you've been reading this blog for any length of time (all two of you), you know how strongly I feel about labor issues and that my own personal experience with my family's four-year labor strike played a big role in shaping that belief.

The fact is, organized labor is a a crucial, necessary check against the power of business. And conversely, business interests provide a necessary check against the power of organized labor. These two entities should always been in tension, though that need not be confrontational nor detrimental to either one. When they're in balance, finding common ground and making fair sacrifices on both sides, everyone benefits.

But that hasn't been the trajectory of the last 20 to 30 years. Organized labor's power has been steadily eroded (and to be fair, they haven't always done themselves favors in their long-range thinking) while business -- especially big business -- has steadily amassed greater and greater power to the point that not even governments can control them much anymore. They've overpowered not just labor, but pretty much all other checks on their power, as well. There's lots to be read on this subject in the blogosphere, especially lately -- I recommend Daily Revolution's latest series of posts, which you can sample here and here -- and there are of course books and documentaries on this topic, as well.

But back to labor.

There was a time when organized labor wasn't treated like an enemy to be conquered and eradicated. When businesses viewed them as another interest that needed to be negotiated with as they would negotiate with vendors, suppliers, clients, and governments. Going back to the time that my family was on strike, I vividly remember when Lee Iacocca, CEO of Chrysler, approached the workers with a request that they accept lowered wages and benefits while he attempted to save the company. His plea was couched in the terms that they were all in the boat together, that everyone's sacrifice would be for the greater good, that just as they benefitted when the company was doing well, they needed to sacrifice when it wasn't. If they would put their faith in him, he would get them through this difficult time and when they became the successful company he knew they could be, they would share in the windfall, returning to their regular wages and benefits. The union voted to go along with him and accept wage and benefit cuts. Pride in their company swelled, for they felt invested in something, that they were a team truly working together.

When the company began posting profits, he paid the shareholders and the lowered wages the union accepted to save the company became their regular wages. For this, Lee Iacocca became a legend of the corporate world and is credited with single-handedly saving Chrysler from bankruptcy. To this day, my family refuses to buy a Chrysler.

All this reminiscing was prompted by an email I received today from Working America, the AFL-CIO website/mailing list. It seems Lee Iacocca's betrayal of the workers has become de rigeur in the corporate world today:

Goodyear forced nearly 16,000 workers to strike on Oct. 5, by making it clear the company would not negotiate a fair and equitable contract with the USW members. These workers are sacrificing their livelihoods on behalf of all U.S. workers--including Goodyear's customers--to keep good jobs in America and preserve promised benefits.

USW members and retirees made great sacrifices in 2003 to keep Goodyear out of bankruptcy. Now the company's stock is worth nearly five times as much as it was in early 2003 and top executives have awarded themselves millions of dollars in bonuses--but Goodyear still wants more.

It is unreasonable and unjust to expect USW members to accept additional plant closures and more wage and benefit cuts while other stakeholders reap in the rewards of the company's turnaround. And it is unacceptable that Goodyear intends to walk away from its commitments to workers and retirees.

This strike is a fight for all of America's workers.
Follow the link, read the details, sign the petition. Corporate America needs to learn they have a responsibility to more than just the bottom line and their shareholders. They are responsible to their workers, their governments, their communities, their environment, and their consumers, as well. And these workers -- who're trying to make ends meet and get an honest days' wage for an honest days' work -- these people are trying to hold Corporate America responsible.

They're fighting for your rights.