Allow me to echo some of the recent sentiments at Daily Kos: that anyone should have to stand in line for five to six hours in the dark to vote, after a full day of work and before dinner, is just a real pain in the ass of North American democracy. Update: apparently it was all part of
the new war on immigrants that served the Republicans so well an ID verification bottleneck, and not a problem with the voting machines. So Colorado, especially, has got some work to do. Nevertheless, browsing the footage at Video the Vote this morning, what comes across most plainly to me, and despite all the lingering and shameful problems, is a sense of grassroots vigilance not about to go away. (And then there are the adorable stories that just warm your heart, such as the man who expressed his general feelings about electronic voting machines with a cat paperweight's ears.)
Anyway, I thought these two especially deserved a wider audience (as in: kids, please don't peel away that plastic strip over the modem connection...please):
How dryly amusing that in America on Veterans Day blue collars have to work, but cannot cash a paycheck as all the banks are closed. On voting day, meanwhile, citizens of most states simply have to work, then go home for a late dinner and crash before another working day.
This really makes no sense. Turnout is higher in every country where voting takes place over the weekend. We should have a national holiday that respects this most basic right. It could even fall on the Friday before voting weekend. Polls could close late Sunday morning. (If a few procrastinating vacationers had to skip church, it wouldn't be the end of the world.)
Americans are working more hours than ever before, for less; a trend for which we may safely thank Reagan, but one also exponentially heightened and solidified under Clinton. In light of which, frankly, the minimum wage increase legislation is but a patronizing and cruel joke (who the hell can ever live on $5.15 an hour, anyway? - it's less expensive not to work). People need to know their worth. Fortunately, the manufacture of wage slaves has the added benefit of barring them from ever traveling to Europe. And if they decide it's more lucrative to sell drugs (or even in some cases if they don't), there's always a new prison or six waiting to be filled. One wonders what Pelosi and Obama really think of this situation.
A reminder from Common Dreams, from about three years ago:
The plight of U.S. workers is partly due to U.S. labor protection laws that are much weaker than those of other industrialized countries. For example, the U.S. is the only major developed country that does not ensure a minimum number of paid vacation days. As result, American workers receive the fewest days of annual paid leave of any wealthy nation.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that, even after three years at a job, Americans average just 10.2 annual vacation days. Meanwhile, our peers abroad typically enjoy 4-6 weeks of paid leave—even those employed by the same transnational corporations as U.S. workers.
In 2000, 20 million U.S. workers did not get a single day of paid vacation. Today we work, on average, a month longer each year than 20 years ago, and work more hours per year than our peers in any industrialized nation. During the last 30 years, work-weeks have become shorter and the number of days of paid leave has increased everywhere in the industrialized world, except in the U.S.
Our poor position is remarkable since the U.S. ranks near the top of the list of developed nations in worker productivity. U.S. laborers have increased their output per hour by 30% since 1973. Our average hourly wage in 1998 was $12.77 instead of the $18.40 we would have received simply by sharing in the benefits of our increased productivity.
Sharing the benefits of increased productivity could have freed us to work 3 ½ day weeks or five-hour days without losing income, allowing us time to lead richer social and family lives and giving many of us enough time away from work to actually enjoy our time on the job. Instead we’re living less and working more. Why?