Saturday, November 21, 2009

Maria Allwine: Waiting to Die in the Good Ole USA, An Angry Worker's Call to Action

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Maria Allwine: Waiting to Die in the Good Ole USA, An Angry Worker's Call to Action

By BuzzFlash

Created 11/20/2009 - 10:09am

by Maria Allwine

What if we all just stopped working? All of us -- just stopped going to work and started living the lives we talk about and long for? What if we all just stopped getting in our cars and driving through the horrific traffic that leaves us angry and spent before we even get to work? What if we all just stopped waiting for the bus that never comes or when it does, comes an hour late? What if we all just stopped going to jobs where we are bullied, harassed, disrespected, used, abused, threatened with the loss of our livelihoods and health insurance and then thrown out anyway like last week's garbage when the expiration date you didn't know they had stamped on your back comes due? What if we all stopped being afraid of losing our possessions, liberated ourselves from them and in doing so became free in a glorious way we never dreamed existed?

What if we all stopped talking about how much we hate working and did something about it?

Who says we have to work? Who says we have to give ourselves up to a system designed by others to exploit us for their own profit, destroy our spirit, and turn us against each other as we scratch and claw in vain to eke a living from it? Who says we must sacrifice our minds, our health, our precious time, our humanity to be rewarded every two weeks with green paper that, even as we so desperately need it, keeps us enslaved? Who says we have to do this?

I don't know about you, but I did not sign up for this. I did not agree to get up every morning and work for people who see me as less than they are, who feel that my needs and rights as a human being could not possibly be the same or as important as theirs. I did not agree to work in jobs that dull my mind, force me to hide my intelligence and heart, turn everyone into unhappy wage slaves who exist solely to profit others. I did not agree to work for companies that have no bottom line except "MORE." I did not agree to work for companies that engage in unethical and probably illegal conduct and that terminate loyal employees simply because those $1 million partner bonuses might be a little less this year. I did not agree to work for companies where incompetence, stupidity, venality, and amorality are rewarded and loyalty, initiative, kindness, and sound ideas are scorned. I did not agree to be part of a system that makes us all less than caring and peaceful human beings. Work should not cost us our sanity and our common humanity. Yet it does and we let it. How did we get to such an unhealthy and destructive place? Why do we continue to sacrifice ourselves on the altar of greed (theirs) and stupidity (ours)?

We've been told from the time we were kids that work is what makes us productive members of society, that we must work in order to have the "good things" in life, that we are lazy if we don't work. We are told in no uncertain terms that what we "do" and where we work defines us. Yet that is what sets us on the road to separating us one from the other and starts our descent into the trapped lives we live as adults. My parents always told me that if I was a "good worker," I wouldn't have any problems, that my employers would value me, never fire me, and I'd be set for life. They are stunned, but now believing, when I tell them that being a "good worker" has absolutely no relation to whether or not you have or keep a job.

There is no job security, no pension, no healthcare, no secure retirement. The job you thought you had, you may well not have tomorrow. But what you do have for your daily toil is the dry-mouthed, stomach-churning fear that the Grim Terminator will call on you with his pretty pink slip and the words "your position has been eliminated." So you lose a little more of your humanity when you pray that he will pass over you and call on your unlucky co-worker instead so that you can live to slave another day for a little money to not be able to pay your bills and for the health insurance that is a sick joke. And then you wait and tremble in silent fear for what you know will ultimately come.

It happened to me last year. When one of the largest law firms in the country terminated me a year ago, I was told it wasn't personal. I laughed and refused to allow them their lies. Being terminated is as personal as it gets. And being terminated for being an informed and engaged citizen activist is even more personal. These corporations that make billions are terminating workers as I write this and we let them. We turn around and desperately seek another job so we can let them use and abuse us and terminate us again. Insanity really is doing the same thing over and over expecting a different result.

So what do we do?

We must give up our attachment to our possessions. We must stop buying stuff -- the big screen TVs, the newest gadgets, the big trucks, and SUVs that cost a fortune to drive, the overpriced clothing and gourmet foods, the toys the kids don't play with -- get rid of it! We must own the knowledge that the things we fill up our weekends buying to treat our misery and depression are the very things that cause them. They keep us trapped and they keep us slaves.

We must divest. As the corporations divest themselves of us when they have used us up, we must divest ourselves of the things that make us slaves to their pathology before they kill us. Home ownership is a trap. My husband and I will never, once this house is sold, own another home. We cannot divest ourselves of it soon enough. It is an unsustainable way of life and is arguably the single possession that keeps us most enslaved. There are so many hidden costs of owning a home that I believe only the wealthiest can safely own one. Where we live, we pay some of the highest property taxes and utility bills under deregulation in the country, not to mention ever-rising water and sewer bills and insurance rates that are outrageously red-lined. You cannot absorb those costs on flat or falling wages. Don't even think about trying to do it on unemployment benefits. Sell the house. And don't buy another. Sell the car(s) if you can. Fewer possessions, no credit cards, no credit reports, no debt, no despair. Think about what that would be like, what your life would be like, what our society would be like. Think hard about it and then act on it.

We must demand, at the very least, a new way of living. A new way that does not make every transaction a commodity with a price determined by greedy profiteers. A new way that does not strip us of our humanity and our goodness. We must all stop agreeing to be part of a system that enslaves us and will enslave our children. Think of a life without money and without working as wage slaves. Think hard about it and then act on it.

To get our corporate masters used to a new and improved way of doing business, we should all stop work for at least a couple of days -- how about January 11 and April 14. January is when we're expected to knuckle down and get back to work after the little bit of holiday cheer we're allowed and April 14 is the day before Tax Day. A shut down on that day would show these greedy corporations that they will pay a price to disdain and discard us. But we all must act on it!

Most importantly, we should get rid of our possessions, stop working for these corporations, and start working for each other and our communities. For our lives, our sanity, our health and our humanity but most of all, for all of us -- together for a new future.


Maria Allwine
Baltimore, MD

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"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs


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