Sunday, June 26, 2016

A time to walk, a time to sit

Last week I wrote about my pride in my congressional delegation for standing up for reasonable gun safety.
A few days latter, I saw my congressman, Joe Courtney, and I thanked him for walking out during yet another "moment of silence."
Joe said congress gave 16 seconds to the victims of Orlando. "That's not even enough time to say the Our Father, I know, I timed it," he said. 
Joe's not a person who raises his voice but I could tell he was frustrated. 
This week, he, the entire Connecticut delegation, and others, did not repeat their walk out.

 They sat in.

 For 24 hours they staged a sit in on the floor of the House of Representatives of the United States. 
"The time is now" they were saying, joining their sisters and bothers of the United States Senate, who filibustered for the same cause.

We can argue if the second amendment speaks to individual rights or the rights of states to form well regulated militias, but we must also recognize that the Declaration of Independence states:
 "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness."

I'm not talking about taking everyone's guns.  I'm talking about reasonable gun safety laws, like No Fly, No Buy, and Universal Backgound Checks whether a gun is bought in a gun store or at a gun show.

Too many deaths, too many dead children.

The time for common sense reform is now.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Dad

My dad went home to heaven way too young, but as Dion once sang "the good, they die young."
He taught me much and among this was that family is important, that we should defend those who need our help, and that we should share with those who are less fortunate.
His dad had been deep into Rhode Island politics, serving as State Senate President, and my dad, although he stayed informed and voted in every election, avoided public office.
He did however, serve in the most unselfish way.
When Hawaii was attacked, he joined his brothers in serving his country, becoming a U.S. Marine.
He never spoke much about the war, but through pictures and my mom, we learned he was severely burned in an amphibious landing on a South Pacific beach.
His buddies saved his life by pulling him to safety and he spent a full year in the care of the medical personnel in San Diego, nearly passing several times.
Years after meeting my wife, she shared that the first time she had met my dad, she was taken aback by the scars on his face from the skin grafts.
I had never noticed them.
Although he passed at age 60 from a heart attack, I take comfort that he was active till the end.
I miss him, I wish he were here to share the events in my life.I wish he had seen me become a nurse, like those who cared for him in San Diego.  I wish he had seen me stand up for myself and others through my union involvement.
But  he lives on in myself and my siblings and in our children.
Anyone who knows my siblings, knows that the lessons dad taught us, the lessons he lived by, are a part of us.
Love you dad.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

When a moment of silence is not enough

The events in Orlando last week were horrific.
I cannot imagine being the loved one of one of the victims.
My heart and my prayers go out to them.

But is that enough?

My congressional delegation does not believe so.
In Connecticut, we are personally effected with each mass shooting.
We always will be.

The 20 children, 5 and 6 years old, and the 6 dedicated educators of Sandy Hook School are always on our minds.
We have cried, we have prayed and we have moved on.
But we have not forgotten.

How many children, be they 5, or 6, or 20, 30, or 40. must die?
The children of Sandy Hook, of Orlando, of Blacksburg, of Killeen, of San Bernadino, of Edmond, of Fort Hood, of Binghamton, of Aurora, and others were OUR children.
Not to mention the thousands who die on our streets daily that often go barely reported.
The right to bear arms is protected and should be but so is the right to life!

We should pause and pray, but prayer without action is heresy.

There are common sense solutions that will protect the rights of collectors and hunters and self defense by responsible individuals and that will also protect our children.

I applaud my Congressional delegation for speaking on this issue.  I applaud Congressmen Jim Himes, John Larson,  and Joe Courtney for walking out on the House.
I applaud Senator Chris Murphy for a 15 hour filibuster and for Senator Richard Blumenthal and so many others for joining him.
I have never been so proud of my delegation and and their colleagues.
They need our support.
They have mine.
Because a moment of silence is not enough.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

It's common cents

"What happens when you give rich people money?
They keep it!"

So said economist Dr William Sprggs at the Connectict AFL-CIO Convention this week.

It's something I've always thought. 
It's common sense. 

I have had times in my life when I was financially comfortable and other times when I struggled, due mostly to the many layoffs I endured before I started working in healthcare.
I have had times when I was on unemployment and food stamps.
I can guarantee you that at those times, if you gave me an extra $100, I would have spent it because I was in need. 
If you gave Donald Trump $100, if you put it in his bank account, do you think he'd run out and spend it?
Would he even notice?
Of course not. 

So, why is this important?

We hear so often that we must "grow the Ecconomy" to produce jobs and give people a better life.
We hear that we must give large corporations take breaks and incentives to stay in state and produce jobs.
The problem is.....
It doesn't work. 

Giving rich people doesn't stimulate the economy and produce jobs. 
Giving poor and working class people money does.

If we raise the wages of a minimum wage parent by $100 a week, they will immediately use that money.
They will buy groceries, and shoes, and books, and the people they buy them from will have increased sales and income, and if those people are small business owners, they will respend the money on supplies, an evening out at a local restaurant, or hiring one more employee because they are busier. 
Investing money on the poor and middle class leads to a reinvestment, growth, and jobs.

An austerity budget like the State of Connecticut now faces does just the opposite. 
A laid off worker stops spending in the community they live, income of the entire community decreases, leading to a shrinkage of the Ecconomy and a loss of jobs. 

Giving tax breaks and incentives to small businesses, the poor and the working class creates a growing Ecconomy.
Giving tax breaks and incentives to Donald Trump, Hedge Funds, and the Wal Marts of the world does not grow the Ecconomy and create jobs, it shrinks it because the money is not reinvested at the same level that it is given.
The rich don't spend money,
They hoard it.

Its common sence. 
And common cents.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Friends?

Have you ever had a good friend and been disappointed by something they did?
I have.
In fact, I've been on both sides of that equation.
I've been disappointed and others have been disappointed by me.

You know how it is, you expect something from your friend or spouse and you feel like they didn't step up like they should be capable of doing.
Conversely, maybe you fell short.
Maybe you had a good reason, or maybe you just made a poor decision, but rarely is it because you intended harm.
I mean, you're friends.

So what do you do?

You get angry, you yell, and eventually you have to decide.
Can you put this behind or not?

The Connecticut Labor Community is in that position right now with some long time political friends.
Friends who have supported working families year after year, but who voted for an austerity state budget that is just unacceptable. A budget that lays off workers, cuts vital services and negatively effects town budgets.
Our members are angry and rightfully so.
We have worked hard to support these friends election after election and they turned their backs on us.

And yet.

How do you not support a friend who stands with you 90% or more of the time?
How do you not support them when the person running against them absolutely wants to destroy worker's rights?
This is our dilemma.

Like the legislators, I have disappointed friends.
They have felt like I let them down by something I did or didn't do.
God bless my wife, I do it to her on a regular basis.
I'm not saying it's always my fault, but I do need to look in the mirror and be honest with myself.

And I need to keep the lines of communications open.

I think that's were Connecticut Labor and our normal political friends are now as we meet for the Connecticut AFL-CIO Political Convention.

Labor is disappointed, and rightfully so.

We have to decide, can we put this behind us and work together for the workers of this state?
Labor needs our normal friends to "look in the mirror."  We deserve that.  We owe it to our members to hold legislators accountable.
But we also have to remember our history with them.  Many have stood with us most of the time.
We must keep the lines of communication open, in fact, we must insist on better lines of communications.

The next couple of days we will grapple with these issues.
Those who wish to destroy worker's rights are hoping we cannot find a solution.