Saturday, March 26, 2011

If he ever had ever heard of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory, it had never made much impact on him. It was so long ago, and in New York and the victims barely spoke English. And, anyways, what does it have to do with him?

And there he was, nearly a century later, and the Governor of Wisconsin: the state that had the Oshkosh Factory strike and Robert M. LaFollette and so much more that changed the nation in which we live. And, now he was talking to David Koch, a very wealthy man, who could really help him make his name in turning back Wisconsin's history and then the nations. Or at least he thought he was. He wasn't, of course. It was an adventurous blogger named, but he thought it was Koch and he wanted to make sure the rich man knew where this new Governor thought he fit in the new history they could write together:

this may seem a little melodramatic, but 30 years ago, Ronald Reagan, whose 100th birthday we just celebrated the day before, had one of the most defining moments of his political career, not just his presidency, when he fired the air-traffic controllers. And, uh, I said, to me that moment was more important than just for labor relations or even the federal budget, that was the first crack in the Berlin Wall and the fall of Communism because from that point forward, the Soviets and the Communists knew that Ronald Reagan wasn’t a pushover.

Then, perhaps to appropriately remember the young immigrants who jumped to their deaths or were burned to death at the Triangle building still standing 100 years later on Greene Street, just off Washington Square Park in Greenwich Village, New York, New York, an air traffic controller---the only one on duty at the important airport near Washington, D.C. called---you cannot make this up---Reagan National Airport, fell asleep on his fourth consecutive 10 p.m to 6 a.m. shift and two incoming flights had to land without clearance or assistance from the tower.

The Administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration (called, usually, "the FAA") was "personally outraged" he reassured us and once the sleeping culprit was found to have fallen asleep because he was tired, and not because of any drugs he might have taken, he was suspended. From now on, the tower will have two people on duty at all times.

Whew. Fortunately, with such decisive action we won't have to ask why a supervisor (who would not have been in any union even had the Great Reagan not run the union the controllers formed for themselves---PATCO---out of town causing Gov Walker to, perhaps, literally wet his pants) was on duty, or why he was doing four consecutive overnight shifts. We won't have to examine what the working conditions of the people charged with guiding airplanes out of the sky, and no union will be around to question whether how the FAA meets its responsibilities, because the union is gone and, whaddya know, so is communism in eastern Europe.

But the FAA's boss is "personally outraged."

The people who owned the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory would surely wanted to have suspended the person whose cigarette might have caused the fire that destroyed their plant, their business, almost their freedom, and, of course, the young women who died. It is hard to believe that they weren't "personally outraged."

We are over-regulated
? If you own the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory, or want to make money flying airplanes with passengers, you might think so, but a moments reflection might make you wonder who would want to fly if there were no air traffic controllers to guide those flights to a landing.

But the taxes we have to pay to support all of this are too high. General Electric does not think so, or at least they ought not to.

Maybe this is too hard to understand. After all, who needs an education, when you have Michelle Bachmann around? (No word was provided on whether U.S. History was included in her curriculum, or its relationship to geography). In Park Slope, in Brooklyn, one of the best neighborhoods in the city, some children who should be entering kindergarten may not find a place in the local school

People who either failed to get an education, or ignored or forgot what they were taught, or simply say whatever might sound good to other empty headed people, have an answer for all this:

No new taxes. Public employees are responsible for the dire straits of our economy. The deficit---the horrible thing that was wiped out simply be the taxes collected when the economy was buoyant, albeit artificially---means that government needs to cut spending during a severe economic downturn.

As Bob Herbert explained this morning in his last New York Times column, these are the political conversations of a nation in a deep nosedive. And, sadly, there are no air traffic controllers around to help us out of this one.

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