March 24, 2009

It was only a stamp

Image courtesy of wikipedia.

As I mentioned in yesterday's post, this month marks my 20th anniversary of working for the American Friends Service Committee. There's a lot of water under that bridge.

I still remember reading the want ad looking for a person to work on economic justice issues in West Virginia and having trouble believing my eyes. I was vaguely aware of the AFSC but didn't know much about it. West Virginia, after all, is not widely known as a hotbed of Quakerism, although I later learned they had some interesting history here.

My own religious background was Episcopal, with healthy dashes of Taoism and Buddhism thrown in. I don't think I'd ever knowingly met a Quaker, but then as now people connected with AFSC come from a wide variety of religious backgrounds, provided they share some basic values.

That could have been an issue. The one thing I knew about Quakerism was their "peace testimony" or commitment of nonviolence. Although I'm fairly placid, I happen to have come from a long line of those Scotch-Irish people who enjoy a good fight, a trait that I seemed to inherit.

My ancestors fought in most of this country's wars, generally, although not always, on the side of the United States (I seem to recall a minor exception in the 1860s). I came close to enlisting myself as a young man. The two things that held me back were my political mistrust of the Reagan administration and the timing of the birth of my first child. Aside from that, I'd been a devotee of the martial arts since junior high.

On the plus side, I was totally down with working for justice for poor and working people, having been there and coming from a place that has been hard hit by many economic trends and bad actors.

I decided it was a long shot but worth a try. It was only a stamp, right?

CROCODILE TEARS have been shed in copious amounts about the supposed threat to "the secret ballot" posed by the Employee Free Choice Act. (Since when did big corporations care about workers' rights, anyway?) Now even the Wall Street Journal admits that is isn't so.

BUDGET BATTLE. As the struggle over President Obama's budget and the federal deficit heats up, Robert Greenstein of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities makes some good points here.

ON THAT NOTE, here's what economist Michael Ettlinger of the Center for American Progress has to say on the subject.

A "SOLIDARITY ECONOMY." Some people are responding to hard times by forming common security clubs that combine study and reflection on what is happening and why with common action to make things better.

ANIMAL ARMS RACE. Nature has equipped many animals with elaborate weapons, but they seem to be mostly for display.


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