Tags: .tpc_piece


Snippet Of Social Philosophy

I started to comment on a post by lisajulie, but realized it captured enough of my views on society that it might be worth posting. (It also gets me around a comment length limitation, but that's an unintentional side bonus. Honest!)

lisajulie writes:

How can I can live in my lifestyle, knowing that is built upon the labor (underpaid and so on) of others.

How moral is this? I don't have an answer.

My original reply:

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(Sidenote: I was a little reluctant to make this a public post, given how much it might reveal (or accidentally mis-represent by incompleteness or misunderstanding) my personal views of the world, but i decided i'd take a chance. Here's hopin'...)


On Inaugural Eve

(For those who've already seen this piece, please pardon the re-run.)

On the night before the inauguration of President Barack Obama, i wrote a piece that a few folks encouraged me to submit to the New York Time Op-Ed page. As expected, it wasn't selected, so i wanted to post a public version (with a few inconsequential edits) for folks to share.

Thanks to everyone who has been encouraging my writing endeavors of late (including by catching errors and making suggestions). Please know that i continue to welcome honest feedback from anyone (especially as i occasionally entertain the idea of trying to write semi-professionally at some point).

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A Fast Report From The Front

I arrived shortly ago at the Troy Marriott, where BAE Syatems is holding a career fair today from 9am to 8pm. Some press on the event claims they're hiring across the board due to the purchase of TRW's Sterling Heights plant last month.

When i arrived at the Marriott entrance on Big Beaver Road, the Troy PD had the hotel's driveways blocked off with flares and patrol cars. "What you see is what you get," the officer i hailed through my passenger window replied, and suggested i check out the nearby Community Center for parking.

Not knowing where it was, i went around the perimeter of the hotel property as best i could -- noting at least one neighboring property that had sealed off its own lot to prevent it being lost to overflow -- looking for options. Everywhere i looked were people in businesswear and longcoats, some trudging through snow in the sidewalk-free business district, others trying to cross four lanes of divided traffic in dress shoes while maintaining their hair and not dropping their handsome resume folders.

Thankfully the officer was right. Around the back of the hotel block, the Troy Community Center had not only taken on overflow parking, but had been added to the route of the Marriott's shuttle. In my case, the driver beeped to hail me just after i'd tucked the cuffs of my Hickey Freeman suit into my Red Wings and started trudging off into a roughly-hewn trail already blazed by the intrepid and desperate in the negative-ten (Fahrenheit, thank you) winter morning. I'd noticed the trail thanks to someone who was returning to the lot via the path.

"Are you coming from the Marriott?" I had asked, "The BAE fair? Is it open?"

"It's open," he'd replied, "but there are too many people!"

The shuttle driver said this was the most he'd ever seen.

"Fifteen thousand ... and that's not a joke number -- that's a real number."

"What's the capacity of a typical event at this facility?" I asked.

"Well when Hanna Montana was here ... at about midnight we had three thousand. ... I never thought i'd see more than that."

I guess Billy Ray's daughter has got nothing on British defense contractors.

"I'm surprised more people didn't take the subway," i'd joked after i got into the front passenger seat of the packed shuttle, "Oh, wait-- they tore that out 100 years ago so that we could have a strong economy. Somehow i forgot."

I try not to be bitter, but as i sit here in the hotel's steakhouse having my coffee and trying to get my bearings because the lobby barely has any room to stand -- let alone sit -- i'm sure some find that more difficult. Outside the temporarily quiet repose of the classy restaurant, there are thousands of people standing outside in a line so long that i'm not even sure it's a line, nor where it goes. I see men and women of every age and ethnicity. I see a man in a lovely conservative suit and a red turban. I see a man who looks like he's been working a factory job for fifteen years strapped into what might regrettably be his best tie. Thousands are standing there in utter professional civility in single-breasted pinstripes, stockings, hair gel, and/or uncomfortable shoes.

It's time to join them.

"Hey, everybody, despite what they tell you," i'd turned around to my fellows in the shuttle just before we got out of the van, "we're all in this together. Good luck."


A Snapshot In America

I thought i'd take a unique opportunity to report to you live and direct from the warfront. No, i don't mean the war in Iraq -- or Iran -- or whichever oil-rich country the powers-that-be are trying to subtly re-industrialize this week. I mean the real war, the one we're fighting here at home, the war against the socio-economic demons we unwittingly loosed long ago, now come back to claim us. I'm in a strip-mall coffee shop in Livonia, Michigan.

I arrived at the Problem Resolution Office (PRO) of the State of Michigan Unemployment Insurance Agency (UIA) about ten minutes before opening this morning. The Livonia PRO is one of six such offices in the state -- normally, that is -- the UIA opened a temporary seventh location in Detroit last week to address Michigan's terrifying unemployment levels. The PROs provide walk-in face-to-face support for people who are having some kind of problem with unemployment benefits that cannot be resolved via the usual channels. And, when this branch opened this morning and started handing out numbers to the line of folks stretching nearly all the way down one leg of the mall in the Michigan January morning, there were about 150 of us.

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For me, i suppose i can job search from here as well as anywhere, so i'm just settling in for the wait. I have a computer, network, power and a few bucks for lunch, and am grateful to be able to say that much. It's certainly not how i'd prefer to spend the day, but despite my own frustration and uncertainty, i, too, find myself thinking more about the other folks on that line, and then of those who don't even have the fortune of having a line to go to, or prospective jobs to search for, or any resource at all. In the end, i really do have faith that things will ultimately work out for me, and i can't help but want to pray for those who don't have the fortune of feeling so sure.