Friday, March 25, 2016

A new economic reality

I am not a state worker and I have never been one.
I am a private sector emergency room Registered Nurse.
I am also vice president of  AFT Connecticut, a union that represents state workers, along with private and public sector nurses, techs, healthcare workers, teachers, paraprofessionals and others.
Their common thread is a dedication to those they serve.

Connecticut is facing "a new economic reality."
I get that.
I don't envy the governor of the legislators.
I have stood shoulder to shoulder with them many times in the past.
Tax revenues are down and I do believe in a balanced budget, otherwise we just kick the can down the road.  

But let me speak to two things I read recently.
One was a quote by Lori Pelletier, president of the Connecticut AFL-CIO, a woman I greatly admire, the other is a quote and an action by Pope Francis, a man I greatly admire.
Both are great leaders who accept a new reality and offer a solution that includes understanding, love, and shared sacrifice.

In response to the "new economic reality" and the call to cut state employee healthcare, but a refusal to look at new sources of income, Lori pointed out that just this week in New York State, 40 millionaires said in an open letter that they are willing to pay more in taxes for government services for the homeless and the needy.

"There's no reason Connecticut can't do that,'' Pelletier said.

She also urged passage of the so-called Wal-Mart bill, which would require employers of more than 500 workers to pay $15/hour or face a fine.  Currently, hard working people cannot make ends meet on their full time salaries and this places a financial burden on the state because other taxpayers must  help support them.
There is no reason families like the Waltons, who founded Wal-Mart and are five of the ten richest people in the world, should be subsidized.

Pope Francis washed and kissed the feet of Muslim, Christian and Hindu refugees Yesterday and declared them all children of the same God, as he performed a gesture of welcome and brotherhood at a time of increased anti-Muslim sentiment following the Brussels attacks.
“All of us, together: Muslims, Hindi, Catholics, Copts, Evangelicals. But brothers, children of the same God,” he said. 
Over and over again, this Pope has reiterated the fact that we are all sisters and brothers.  

If we truly believe this then let us take this "new economic reality" as a chance to truly be sisters and brothers, to truly share in what has been given to us.  Let us follow the example of the New York 40, and turn this "new economic reality" into an example of shared sacrifice.

It is time for the richest among us to contribute to their sisters and brothers.

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