Texas Outlaw Writers Newsletter: We Labor for this Edition

Texas Outlaw Writers Newsletter: We Labor for this Edition

The Outlaws celebrate Labor Day! Raise a glass to your fellow working wo/man! Support a local (union chapter.) Educate your kids about the history of labor in the U.S. Encourage your local Starbucks barista to fight the good fight (!)

Like so many 3-Day-Weekend holidays, the meanings behind the Mondays-off get diluted or lost. Sure, we might pay tribute to the "average" worker or throw a bit of lip-service to unions, but only with some kind of bland, historic understanding. After decades of attack from the GOP and their corporate sponsors, union membership is down to around 10% of the workforce. At their peak, union membership was over 23% of the U.S. workforce. On a positive note, as wealth inequality has increased, union membership has seen a slight uptick. Between Amazon warehouse employees and Starbuck baristas, organizers are once again looking to unionize workers. Public opinion is shifting back toward union membership as media reports and whistleblowers have revealed the terrible working conditions and low wages in some of these businesses.

Ewan McGaughey, 'Do corporations increase inequality?' (2015) http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2697188 - Source: Ewan McGaughey, 'Do corporations increase inequality?' (2015) http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2697188

And let's remember, the struggle for workers' rights and livable wages was never a cordial meeting between management and labor. The history of collective bargaining was often fraught with violence. From railroads to the mines, auto-workers to steel-workers and the millions of jobs in the public sector... union representation and the benefits that it brought to the middle class never came without confrontation, often deadly ones.

Myra Jolivet's column this week is a celebration of labor and of Labor Day. A lot has been accomplished. Remember child labor? It wasn't that long ago. And it's unsurprising that there are efforts to loosen child labor laws that took so long to establish. The fight continues.

Look for the Union Label, (and don't cross the picket line!)

My Celebration for Labor Day
It took a labor union movement to protect workers from abusive conditions. It always takes a movement to wrestle basic rights and decency from the reluctant hands of those in power. Labor Day has been celebrated in the U.S. and Canada since 1894.

Texas Outlaw Guest Columnist Bill Jeffreys submitted a wonderful piece this week, and it fits in perfectly with our Labor Day issue. There's a lot of sensational reporting about what might be going on inside public schools. Especially those public schools... you know, the ones that aren't in or near the upscale neighborhoods. You might be surprised what's happening after the bell rings...

Back-to-School Special
It’s amazing how little has changed from when I was in high school so long ago. We have cheerleaders and jocks. There’s a drill team, speech and debate, theatre, multiple choirs and an orchestra. There are kids in art classes doing interesting things.

While Bill and countless other teachers put in countless hours, and students from every walk of life write their papers and work on their math problems, there is constant pressure to raise performance with fewer and fewer resources. The drumbeat for school voucher systems and charter schools is getting louder as the GOP wishes to privatize education. For an incredible primer on how this is happening, we recommend this article in the WaPo from a former lobbyist that worked for years for a couple of right-wing institutes that were dedicated to privatizing education in the U.S. If you understand the amount of money that is going into this effort and the strategies that are at work,  you can also easily see how the billionaire class is working at disrupting and dismantling all services for the "public good," from education and public utilities to social security and Medicare.   (If the article is paywalled, here is a cached version.)

Not so Top Secrets still dominate the news cycle, with his Orangeness still claiming that all the Top Secrets found by the FBI scattered about MAGA-Lago, 1. Weren't there. 2. Were there when I got here. 3. I have a right to have them. 4. I declassified them anyway. 5. Joe Biden is a doo-doo head.

This week in a couple of interviews, Grump's former A.G., Bill Barr (who Grump appointed,) hilariously scoffed at the idea that the FBI search was "an overstep."

"...they probably have pretty good evidence..."  <And in regards to Trump's recent claim that he "declassified all of the documents> "...if in fact he sort of stood over scores of boxes, not really knowing what was in them, and then said, 'I hereby declassify everything in here' — that would be such an abuse and such recklessness that it's almost worse than taking the documents."

He then noted that Trump's request to have a special master, or a court-appointed outsider to review the documents was a "crock of shit." You can imagine how Trump reacted to yet another of one of his hand-picked lieutenants turning on him.

"Bill Barr had 'no guts,' and got 'no glory.' He was a weak and pathetic RINO, who was so afraid of being Impeached that he became a captive to the Radical Left Democrats..." blah blah blah... "RINO!" "Didn't have courage or stamina. People like that will never Make America Great Again!" more blah, blah...

Remember when Frump's most loyal ally Steve Bannon told author Michael Lewis that the secret to winning elections was "to flood the zone with shit." Bannon was one of Lump's original consiglieres, at one time he was the chief presidential campaign strategist. To be accurate, the 'shit zone' quote was directed at how to treat the press:

"The Democrats don't matter. The real opposition is the media. And the way to deal with them is to flood the zone with shit."

But in reality, that is the method for the modern GOP. It is their system, their primary practice. Obfuscate, disrupt, dismantle, defund, destroy. Keep the zone flooded with shit.

Outlaw Roger Gray has been wondering, as we all have, what makes a person vulnerable to a political snake oil salesman? (cue dramatic swell in music...) He found the answer in the mirror...

“Person. Woman. Man. Camera. TV...FBI”
The 1990s, were bad news for voodoo economics. Conservatives predicted disaster after Bill Clinton’s 1993 tax hike. But what happened was a boom that surpassed the Reagan expansion in every dimension: GDP, jobs and wages. But old entrenched beliefs die hard. Just ask Civil War reenactors.

As the zone is continually flooded with poo, and the ultrawealthy finance initiatives and political campaigns to extract more and more money from the middle class (while reducing their own tax obligations,) what's a moderate to do? Or a left-leaning progressive? There doesn't seem to be much money or support for the American Dream. The middle class, the politicians, the workers, (and the writers) that try in earnest to keep that dream alive and build it for the future all seem to be under attack.

It occurred to me, your humble publisher, that it might be time to sell out. Seems to be working OK for so many CEOs, office holders, and religious leaders. Is there a downside if the deal is a good one? As the famous ethicist Groucho Marx once said, "These are my principles. If you don't like them, well, I have others."  So... let the bidding begin.

I’m Ready to Sell Out | Texas Outlaw Writers
I’m no slut, mind you. To paraphrase the late Leon Redbone, “I’m not easy, but I can be had.” I’ll require some… compensation.

To close out  your holiday reading, we'll leave you with a sweet memory, one that 'flies higher than an eagle.' One of Texas's most popular governors, Ann Richards participated in a dramatic photo-op along the Rio Grande in the Big Bend region in 1993. She would release a bald eagle against the backdrop of the high walls of the canyons along the great river. After the dramatic event, Governor Richards turned to our Texas Outlaw Jim Moore and his videographer Jerry Hattan and told them she was headed to a raft trip with a handful of friends and colleagues that would take them down the storied river through the picturesque Santa Elena Canyon... "would you like to go?"

All of us Outlaws are in awe of the Big Bend region and travel to the area whenever we can. And all of us remain jealous of Jim for having been able to raft down the Rio Grande with one of the great treasures of Texas history.

Ann Richards and the Lost Eagle
The center of attention was a woman, the governor of the state of Texas, who had just released an American bald eagle from her leather-sheathed and extended arm. She’d made plans to raft Santa Elena Canyon with friends before returning to Austin. “Why don’t y’all come along?” She was speaking to us.