So I’m just wondering…..


I am wondering about something here.  And I have come to the blogging world for some answers.

Of course, this would be much more meaningful if I had hundreds of readers, but I’ll take what I can get.  Thank you, reader!!

If you are reading this, for some reason, can you please answer and tell me what you think? Please!

See, I’ve been learning about American History for the past few weeks, as part of my professional development as a fifth grade teacher.   I am loving the class, loving the books, loving the discussion.

I am learning SO much about the real story of what has made us the country that we are today.

For example, I have been reading a book called “Triangle” by David Von Drehle.  It’s about the horrific fire in the Triangle shirtwaist factory in 1911, during the height of the textile mill era.  I learned from this book, and some of my other reading for the course, that when the workers banded together to demand a 10 hour work day, or a 52 hour work week, the mill owners went nuts, claiming that the reduced hours would bankrupt them, and would ultimately cost the workers their jobs.  They wanted, they said, to be able to “create jobs”, and these regulations would prevent that.

It sort of sounded familiar.

I learned that back in the time of the industrial revolution, New York politics were run by the infamous “Tammany Hall”. I learned that at the time, regulations were needed to try to reduce the number of children (under the age of 12) who worked in these factories for up to 60 hours a week.  Regulations were sought to improve the safety of workers who labored in huge open rooms which were filled with flammable fabrics, in an age where mill owners routinely locked exit door to prevent the theft of lace and cloth.  Some progressive politicians even tried to pass laws requiring fire escapes and safety drills.

Most of the regulations failed to pass, though.  And I learned why: the politicians whose job it was to write and pass those laws were given huge sums of money to help with their campaigns.  Guess who gave the money?  Yup! You win a Kupie doll: it was the mill and factory owners who paid for all those campaigns.

Huh.

Sounds just so damn familiar.  You know?

So, here is what I want to ask all of you:

1) Do you think that the political system of today is less corrupt than that of Tammany Hall in 1910?

2) Do you believe that government regulations are necessary to protect the lives and well being of the average worker/citizen in the US today?

3) Do you think that free market companies will put the safety and well being of the workers before their corporate profits in the absence of such regulation? (I know, I know: the theory is that happy workers will be more productive and company profits will increase. But do you believe this?)

4) Is there anyone out there (ANYONE?) who is excited to vote for either of the major party candidates?  I know people who plan to vote for Obama because they despise Mitt, and I know people who plan to vote for Mitt because they loathe Obama. Disclaimer: I am not voting for either one. Absolutely, unequivocally NOT.   But please tell me if you are really happy and excited to be casting your precious vote for either one of these guys and the party that they represent.

Here is the thought that is keeping me awake at night: “Those who fail to understand history are doomed to repeat it.”

What do you think, seriously?

14 thoughts on “So I’m just wondering…..

    • And that is what has me worried, sad and yet excited: on all side of the political spectrum, we seem to be coming to the realization that the two party system is fatally flawed.
      What next? I don’t know….Occupy? Vote third party? Dance in the streets? I just don’t know!

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  1. Hey, is this a trick question to get us to help you with the essay questions for your class? Worrywart here – I keep forgetting to sign in on my other WordPress site. I am a big believer in the trickle UP theory (which seems to be Obama’s plan, and I like Obama – I respect him more than any other president in my lifetime).
    However, after five decades of politics, I realize that trickle up starts at the very bottom aka you and me. The beauty of the blog and living in the 21st century is that you and I have a lot more power to make a difference simply by communicating. No, this is not some BS answer for the Blue Book. I really believe that we are on the right path, that most people are not corrupt, and that individual to individual multiplied by the Internet will result in positive change.
    You may call me a dreamer . . . .

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    • Ah, I do call you a dreamer! I also call you a breath of fresh air and a reason to hope. I am feeling enormously negative about our electoral politics these days. I need desperately to hear from people who will vote FOR someone, rather than against someone.
      Thank you!!!!
      (PS: I miss your posts. Very much.)

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  2. There was a wonderful documentary about the Triangle Factory fire that was done last year for its 100th anniversary. I think it was PBS. I highly recommend it, and I’m thinking you can find it on YouTube or a DVD from Amazon. Also, if you Google the fire, there is an amazing eye-witness account by a newspaper reporter who happened to be in the neighborhood. Just chilling.
    I think about that fire often, and I wrote something about it for the politician I used to work for when he asked me to write something for Labor Day a couple of years ago. I first learned about the fire when I took Labor Law as a first-year law student, so that would have been 1974. It’s haunted me ever since, those young girls with their lives ahead of them, the locked doors, the jumps to their deaths to escape the flames.

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    • Thanks! I actually saw that video on PBS. What an incredible moment in history.
      But you haven’t answered my questions. Do you LIKE one candidate, or only despise the other? Do you believe that government regulation is necessary for the protection of workers? What do you think?

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  3. 1 – I’d like to think it’s less corrupt, it only because “under the table” isn’t needed to buy a vote. Massive legal donations can be done to do that.
    2, 3, 4 – No.
    Part of the failure to put health in front of profits is not entirely the companies fault. In a 24 hour news cycle, with financials released quarterly and stock prices reported by the second, there is no long term view of anything.

    As far as our political quagmire, I’m pretty sure we did it to ourselves, or we were apathetic and let it be done to us.

    Tammany Hall NY is a fascinating period of history. If you’re still interested in that time period, check out The Bridge (or The Great Bridge) by David McCullough. Fantastic history of the building of the Brooklyn Bridge.

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  4. Thanks for answering, and for the book recommendation. I love McCullough.
    Great point about the fact that the massive donations are now legal; I would argue that we have legalized the corruption, but perhaps that is a matter of semantics.

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  5. I voted the first go-round for #44 and will do it again, with enthusiasm. We may not have all of the items on the “to-do” list accomplished, yet with filibustering, blustering, and bumbling, I’m surprised that Congress managed to pass what it has. I think the major issue with US politics is that the people really believe that the President runs the show. The President doesn’t make the big decisions. We do. We vote with our pocket book and allowing Corporations to masquerade as people has elevated their pull in the politics above and beyond the lobbying that occurs. We vote for the future of our democracy by making our voices heard to our representatives on our position for each bill that goes up for local, state, and federal law. We vote in the polling booth and not only is the Commander in Chief and President an important decision, but so are all the decisions right on down to county seat.
    Unfortunately, our votes are often motivated by our “gut” and our gut is easily influenced by fear. And, well, you got it, there is one party that does a *very* good job at speaking to our fear center: the Elephant is out of the closet.
    So, I’m doing my best, person by person, to correct the misinformation, to re-educate the masses on Civics, and to remind people of our past – which wasn’t too long ago, since we got into this mess during two wars (one unauthorized) and a mismanagement of a projected surplus during #43 – or, yes, we are doomed to repeat it.
    I’m afraid that we’ve had our history on repeat for far too long. We are a young nation and seem to be teenagers in comparison to our peers, since we don’t seem to learn from our mistakes.

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    • Thanks for this very thoughtful, and upbeat reply. I am encouraged to think that people are voting positively, and not only against someone. I agree with you completely about our misunderstanding of the President’s power. And also our tendency to vote based on our “gut”.
      I continue to feel, though, that the entire system is now so corrupted by the influence of big business that we can’t truly move forward or focus on the needs of the people. I look at the Affordable Care Act, which changed from true Universal Health care to a boon for the private insurance industry. I just can’t vote for either party any more.

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  6. This is a really interesting post. Why don’t we learn from history? Well the cynic in me says because there is still money and power to be gained. In the UK I know lots of people who no longer vote because, they say, they don’t see the point, the politicians are all as bad as each other is their reasoning. I frequently find myself shouting at the television when I watch the news but the bottom line for me is that people have to be engaged and have to vote – women in this country gave up their lives for folks like me to have a vote. Sounds like an interesting class you are taking. 🙂 Lovely to catch up – finally – on your blog posts. J x

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    • So happy to hear from you! Hope that you and yours are well…..
      The class is really, very interesting, and is proof positive to me that the more we change, the more we stay the same. What a cynical and sad thought!

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  7. I asked my daddy, since he used to be a teacher at Texas A&M and all he’d say was: “those who fail history are doomed to repeat it…”

    (Sorry — I don’t find him much help either.)

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