My will is easy to decide
For there is nothing to divide
My kin don't need to fuss and moan
‘Cause moss don’t cling to a rolling stone
My body? Oh, if I could choose
I would to ashes it reduce
And let the merry breezes blow -
My dust to where some flowers grow…
So went Joe Hill’s Last Will. Swedish immigrant Joel Hagglund/aka Joe Hill wrote that in 1915 the night before he was executed by the State of Utah, supposedly at the instigation of the copper bosses.
The big bosses have never been ones to mess with particularly if you want to unionize their businesses. True, Apple has never whacked anyone; yet their poorly paid “genius” employees toil on without the benefit of a union.
That would be no big surprise to Mr. Hill, yet I bet he’d be staggered by the current level of political unawareness.
For instance in the New York Times recently a middle-aged lady from Kentucky was lauding Obamacare now that she is able to get treatment for a number of serious ailments.
When asked, however, whom she would be voting for in the upcoming Senate election, without hesitation she opted for Senator Mitch McConnell. When reminded that this gentleman has vowed to repeal Obamacare “root and branch,” she blithely replied that she always voted Republican. You don’t have to be Joe Hill to scratch your head at that logic.
Then again there have always been people who vote against their own interests. James Connolly and Big Jim Larkin, contemporaries of Joe Hill, never ceased to wonder at the scabs who took union members’ jobs during strikes. Didn’t these scavengers know that even if they gained a few weeks work the bosses would eventually pick them off too?
The Great Recession officially ended in 2009; corporate profits have been sky high for many years and yet the workforce is so beaten down by the threat of dismissal, few dare mention a wage raise. To add fat to the fire, real wages as adjusted for inflation have actually been dropping since 1972. Hey, Joe Hill, maybe it’s time to organize again.
Whatever happened to the “social contract?” Remember that archaic concept where capital and labor not only co-existed but actually thrived together. Instead of squeezing every last shekel from his workers Henry Ford had a crazy notion that if he paid them a decent wage they would eventually become customers.
If Ford’s idea made sense a century ago then it’s bible-strong today when 70% of the economy is dependent on the goods and services we supply each other.
Instead we have a federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour. Try asking out Kim Kardashian on that! It’s beyond time for an across-the-boards raise.
But won’t that increase the cost of living? Of course it will, but the economy could do with a little controlled inflation right now. The extra dollar on my pint to help pay for a reasonable minimum wage will cost me $20 a week but it will be money well spent as it will go directly back into the economy and make us all that bit richer.
There we go again, says Your Man up in Pearl River – taxing me bloody pint and getting the government involved too!
That’s only the half of it, man - the federal government should be pumping money into an aging and ailing national infrastructure thereby providing decent paying jobs. Who else is going to do it? Apple, Facebook?
Turn on your Fox News, your Rush Limbaugh, or whatever your reactionary secret pleasure might be and I guarantee you that within minutes you’ll hear the holy trinity of “government, Obamacare and unions” being damned to high heaven.
There’s a reason - all three of them are working for the general good. And after Joe Hill appears in his shroud in Congress and causes a stampede to raise the minimum wage, he’s going to head for Kentucky where he’ll recite the last words of his will to a certain politically unaware Obamacare recipient. I hope she’s listening!
… Perhaps some fading flower then
Would spring to life and bloom again
This his is my last and final will
Goodbye, good luck to all of you