Risk Rap

Rapping About a World at Risk

City of Broad Shoulders

“Boyish Man”

The cosmic scales are correcting Chicago’s over abundance of positive karma. A rebalancing was clearly overdue. The Windy City’s favorite son, Barack Obama was beaming constellations of light and hope like an exploding quasar showering positive electrons onto a depressive American culture in a recessive state of mind. We needed the positivism. We needed a reason to believe that we can uncouple ourselves from the fear and loathing of a broken political system, bankrupt bankers, the drudgery of war, the gloom of recession and a nation tearing itself into a thousand pieces along the million fault lines of our fractured cultural divide. President Elect Obama convinced us that it didn’t have to be. We could arrest our slide into the slow boil of constant simmering conflict within our boarders and in the far reaches of the globe where America is intent on projecting its dissipating power. The man from Chicago said it didn’t have to be. The man from Chicago said he had a better way. The people from American agreed with the man from Chicago and said, “Yes We Can.”


But fate, destiny and determinism has a curious way of bringing us back to earth. After we have looked over the highest peaks of our expectations to glimpse the possibility of our ideals we get smacked in the face by greed, corruption and the callous disregard for others that human beings use much to frequently as the common currency to guide our interactions and relations with one another.


First there is the greed exemplified by Sam Zell. That crusty Chicago street guy who is as tough as he is smart. He parlayed his gifts and built a multi billion dollar real estate empire in Chicago and eventually sold his company at the height of the market. He pocketed a cool $6 bn in that transaction and used a tiny fraction of the proceeds from that deal to buy the Chicago Tribune newspaper chain; owner of the LA Times and the Chicago Cubs and Wrigley Field as part of the package. Mr. Zell financed the large portion of this transaction with equity participation and debt assumption collateralized by the assets in the Tribune Company pension funds. As the fundamentals of the newspaper industry deteriorated the Tribune deal quickly went south prompting Mr. Zell to initiate his exit strategy while the company filed for bankruptcy. Zell’s trying to cash out of the deal recouping his small initial investment. Workers at The Tribune Company feel Mr. Zell did irreparable damage to workers retirement funds and degraded the company brands by placing the company in a most precarious financial position to extract a maximum return on Zell’s small initial investment.


Next there’s the story of the month, the arrest and indictment of Illinois Governor Milorad “Rod” R. Blagojevich. Mr. Blagojevich is accused of seeking compensation or favors in anointing the successor to sit in Mr. Obama’s vacated US Senate seat. Apparently this is a trend with Illinois Governorships. Once they leave the governor mansion the career path leads to a cell in a federal penitentiary. Three of the last four sitting Governors made the move and one is still serving time. The culture of corruption among our country’s political and business elites seems to know no bounds and its symptomatic of Americas deep crisis in leadership and citizens deepening cynicism and distrust of institutional leadership. This distrust was a major reason why the American electorate overwhelmingly turned to Mr. Obama. His message of change resonated with our deep revulsion of executive fiat placing their personal interests first last and always in any decision or program.


This scandal has legs. It has the potential to walk down Wacker Drive taking with it important allies and supporters of our President Elect Obama. Already Senate Candidate #5, Jessie Jackson Jr. name has surfaced in this scandal. Republicans can make this a major political trauma for the incoming administration. Good grist for partisan politics is bad medicine for the United States as it desperately needs strong and focused leadership from our executive branch of government to get us through our current multidimensional crisis.


Lastly we have an industrial action at Republic Windows and Doors. The management of the company shut down the business stiffing the 300 plant workers of their separation pay and benefits rightfully due them under federal labor laws. In response, the workers have taken over the factory and refuse to leave until they are paid the separation compensation due them. This is the callous part of our initial equation of greed, corruption and disregard for those who are vulnerable. We salute the courage of the Republic workers actions. The Republic workers have turned their vulnerability into a strength that inspires all Americans and hopefully will open the hearts of Republic management to settle accounts with their former employees.


Yes the cosmic scales over Chicago are correcting. They are tilting back in an infinite flux of balancing the attainment of our desires and needs with the prohibitive reality of restraint borne from the power elites inability to cede anything. A return to normalcy as its business as usual in sweet home Chicago.


CHICAGO

HOG Butcher for the World,

Tool Maker, Stacker of Wheat,

Player with Railroads and the Nation’s Freight Handler;

Stormy, husky, brawling,

City of the Big Shoulders

Carl Sandburg



You Tube Video: Muddy Waters, Mannish Boy


You Tube Music Video: Buddy Guy, Sweet Home Chicago


Risk: political, ethical, moral,

December 12, 2008 Posted by | corruption, Obama, poetry, politics | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

To The Barricades!

Thomas Hart Benton
Mine Strike
1934

Workers in the heat of struggle throughout the history of the labor movement have often cried “to the barricades” as a last resort to defend their rights, freedoms and protect their means of living. It is a signal that the interests of labor and capital are at distinct odds with each other. When an impasse is reached and the irreconcilable requirements of both parties are unable to be resolved through negotiation, workers take direct action with slowdowns, strikes, sit ins and takeovers as the only means to exert their will and protect their interest.

So it is with great sympathy that we hold up the workers and picketers at Republic Window and Door in Chicago. Last week the management of Republic informed their workers that due to the slowdown in the housing market they are going out of business and that the company cannot pay the workers any separation compensation due to lack of funds. In a radical action to protect separation benefits owed to them in accordance with federal law, Worker Adjustment and Retraining Act (WARN); workers have taken over the factory in a desperate attempt to secure a just separation settlement. The workers, many of Hispanic decent and members of the United Electrical Union, have barricaded themselves inside the factory in a kind of Battle of the Alamo of the US labor movement.

The timing and circumstances of Republic’s closing is unfortunate and is symptomatic of the country’s severe economic malaise. Ironically the projected severity of the economic downturn facing the US economy is the direct result of the deconstruction and dismantling of America’s manufacturing base. The rationalization of the US manufacturers that began in the 1980’s with Micheal Milken and Drexel Burnham Lambert accompanied by a storied SWAT Team of vulture capitalists had to battle and undermine the political clout and power of labor unions to achieve their objectives. The erosion of union power accelerated as membership dropped and the demonization of unions became a political tool used by the Republican’s to attack their rivals in the pro labor Democratic Party. As Republican trickle down economics grew in ascendancy quality of life, wages, heath care and employment benefits for working people have fallen precipitously. The political attacks against unions continue as a large lobbying effort is underway to defeat The Employees Free Choice Act. Without strong unions working people are at risk and remain extremely vulnerable to the debilitating effects of the current recession.

Historically, Chicago has played a central role in the formation and development of the US labor movement. Chicago’s Haymarket Square Riots is a seminal event that propelled the development of the organized labor movement. It was critical to the rise of the American Federation of Labor and endowing unions with the political power to secure the 8 hour working day, better working conditions, decent wage scales and employment benefits. Today as the workers at Republic have walled themselves inside their perishing workplace in an attempt to be rightfully compensated for their exertions and service, Republics management must find a way to meet its commitment by respecting the dignity and economic well being of its former employees. Lets hope that this struggle going on in Chicago represents an awakening for Americas new found respect and support of unions and hopefully not its death knell.

Our prayers and best wishes are with the Republic workers; as they stand in defense for the rights and well being of all American workers. May God continue to bless them with dignity and may the unity of disenfranchised workers serve to assure a prosperity for themselves, their families, and our nation. For truly as it is written in the Gospel of Luke, the laborer is worthy of his pay.

May the Lord continue to bless them and keep them.

You Tube Video: Rachel Maddow, Republic Window and Doors

You Tube Music Video: Pete Seeger, Which Side Are You On?

You Tube music Video: Natalie Merchant, Which Side Are You On?

Risk: labor unions, recession, social safety net, manufacturing, WARN,


December 9, 2008 Posted by | folk, manufacturing, social unrest, unions | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment