Saturday, January 21, 2012

Would You Want To Be In The Top 1%. . .

...Who wouldn’t? Well, I wouldn’t. So what’s so strange about me?

The gross inequalities in income and wealth in the United States are so much in the limelight that they longer can be dismissed as a cause of only the “left.” How much to tax the ultra-rich remains ultra-controversial, but the gap itself is a fact.

It would be a comfortable life for me on the 1% side of the divides, where the average annual income stands at over $300,000 plus investment income. Still. . .

Once, decades ago, I goofed a great opportunity. I was offered a job with a major media corporation headquartered in New York City, and in my interview I displayed a reluctance about moving there. In the years since then, I often regretted passing up that opportunity.

Think of it! I could have moved up in that empire and become one of its TV stars. Maybe.

More likely, in my desire to succeed in that competitive environment, I would have absorbed its values and suppressed mine. It is a fantasy to think I would have
-- launched my Website, Human Rights for Workers, in 1998, as I did
-- maintained it as a blog starting five years ago,
-- published its best material in a book, Justice at Work,
-- participated in demonstrations against the suppression of worker rights in China, Vietnam, and Indonesia.

In short, I would not have been me.

I would have been someone else. As a One Percenter I would imbibe the social and political standards of that peculiar environment, and so why wish to be or to become one of them? Why? Read more!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Thoughts for Food

Ah! For a freshly baked loaf of good rye bread! Two slices of one would make the most delicious sandwich you’d ever taste

So it was with some excitement that I looked forward to a day in January that the hospital menu item promised “ham and cheese on rye,” but let me down by producing something else – sliced whole wheat bread. I ate only the ham and cheese.

Funny how life in a hospital focuses the mind. mine at least, on alternatives available on the outside where free choice reigns Not that the food here is bad. But in mass preparation and distribution it does lose some of its savor.

Still, as I write I keep an ear open for food carts rattling down the corridor with trays of food, The menu promises stuffed cabbage rolls and mashed potatoes. Not quite a match for lunch, which was a tasty combination of tuna, rhree-bean, and pasta salads.

Hope I am not overweight when I am discharged from the Cameron Glenn Rehab Center on February 5. My lsarger concern: paying all my doctor and medical bills not covered by Medicare and Medicaid.
Anyone know of a private source that will come to the rescue of a worker rights advocate who in 25 or more years of campaigning has never made an appeal for funds? Read more!

Friday, January 06, 2012

Adventures on 2 Continents

While repairing my bleeding brain cells, my doctors fed my head so many medications that at times my mind soared far and wide. Most notably I went snowskiing in Belgium and water boating in Cambodia. Both adventures have lived on in my mind to make my hospital days, and especially nights, a bit more endurable.

The Cambodian episode had its own nightmarish wrinkles. There I was, floating down the Cambodian River, the lone occupant of a river boat that I did not control, nor own. I was peripherally concerned about getting it back to its owner, Scott, who happens (in real life) to be my speech therapist. My overriding concern was to avoid crashing into the colorful buildings that lined the river in downtown Phnom Phen, the country’s capital.

Suddenly, miraculously, the river hit a flat spot, where it bumped against a modern haven for boats in distress, at least for mine. Its sole occupant: my wife! She told me to stop dreaming and to step out of the boat to safety. I didn’t believe her. Eventually, I staggered into her arms and into the real world.

My out-of-the-world experience in the hills of Belgium was no less memorable, largely because of the presence of Abdulai, a hospital worker whom I had befriended earlier while recovering from surgery in Reston. The dirty tasks of cleaning up pants dirtied by my inability to reach a toilet in time –he handled these gladly. He even did so for me in the midst of a snowstorm before leading me to safety.

Now, happily, he still works at the Reston hospital where I am undergoing therapy. Thank God for his humane view of care –giving.

Having picked up word that I was a writer, Abdulai asked how many books I had written. “One? Where can I buy it? I want to read it.” His eagerness was such that I had only one option: to promise him one of the two copies of “Justice at Work: Globalization and the Human Rights of Workers” that I have with me.

Weirdly, it was in the Cambodian nightmare that I first learned that my book had been reprinted in a large quantities because of mass orders in the States and Asian countries. Read more!