A Cautionary Tale for Labor Day

Today would have been my father’s 98th birthday. He lived through the Great Depression and worked long hours in factories for low wages until he became a firefighter after World War II. My father’s conclusion to the story he tells is an indictment of the selfish rich and their complete lack of sympathy for the poor. Sadly, in America today, the poor are still often blamed for their struggles to make ends meet, even as the federal minimum wage remains at $7.25. “That the rich have no sympathy or use for the poor” — a harsh saying, but my dad experienced it over years of working a tough job for ungenerous bosses. As my dad might have said, when it came to sharing profits with workers, the bosses passed around nickels like they were manhole covers. In other words, not easily, not often.

The Contrary Perspective

My Dad in the Army in 1945 My Dad in the Army in 1945

W.J. Astore

In December 2010, I wrote the article below for Truthout.  Even as the economy was sputtering and jobs were scarce, Congress was seeking to cut unemployment benefits.  Eventually, a compromise was forged to maintain the benefits; the price was more tax cuts for the richest Americans.  Angered by the hypocrisy and greed on display, and inspired by my father’s words and experiences, I penned my very own tale of two cities.  It’s not Dickens, but it has the merit of being far shorter.

The Rich Get Richer, the Poor Poorer (Posted originally at Truthout on 12/7/2010)

William Astore

More tax breaks for the rich in exchange for another year’s worth of unemployment benefits for the desperate: Now there’s a compromise that makes me proud to be an American. My father wouldn’t have been surprised. He grew up during the Great Depression…

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