Good reasons to give thanks - not just for turkeys
By Leo Canty
Published: Thursday, November 26, 2009 7:11 AM EST
We just can’t let a Thanksgiving Day go by without giving thanks for good health, great friends and family, the turkey on the table, and the lives we have been fortunate to live.
It’s also good to expand that list with a few thank-you options that might even make the conversation around the dinner table livelier.
Some could thank our governor. Before Jodi Rell leaves, there’s time to carve out more services and programs that prevent the poor and unfortunate from going hungry or getting the help they need to survive. A half-billion dollars of cuts to education, senior programs, social services, public safety, and programs that make life in Connecticut so precious will be sacrificed so we can protect all those billions that were gained on Wall Street while unemployment lines gained on Main Street.
Others could praise the U.S. Chamber of Commerce for its relentless battle to fight atrocious regulations that, for instance, would force business and industry to stop polluting our air, lakes, and rivers. Its half-billion dollar lobbying campaigns over the last dozen years have also successfully fended off affordable accessible health care for everyone, while preserving the ability for its members to reap even bigger profits by such measures as denying care or coverage to the sick, and passing along health-care costs to workers.
The lives of working families would be so much richer were it not for the efforts of the chamber, whose real job is to make the lives of its members richer at our expense. When the governor makes cuts, people bleed and the chamber gets the Band-Aids.
And someone might offer a positive acknowledgement to all the yams in the conservative media that have offered “fair and balanced” perennial criticism and perspectives on important issues. They’ve been brewing tea parties, questioning President Barack Obama’s American birthright, and carping about Democrats and public servants while praising businesses and service cuts. Without that loud 24/7 voice, people could begin to realize that there are actually many things that work well, help protect us, and make our lives and economy work better.
Most of us share a common bond in our national desire to care for, provide for, and protect our loved ones and ourselves. We want to live secure and comfortable lives, work productively, and be able to pay for the house, the car, and the kids. Health care that helps when it’s needed and a pension that allows a comfortable retirement are among the items on most everyone’s common list.
It seems to me that sometimes the rest of America cares more about each other than maybe the governor, the chamber, or the conservative media do. That’s something the rest of us can be thankful for.
And if there is a common dream for a decent living and a recapturing of middle-class status that makes work rewarding and our lives more secure and comfortable, then we need to thank the ones who are actually doing the most to make it happen.
The majority of the state legislature has fought hard to protect those most in need, keep services that benefit everyone, and push for a revenue system that is fair, equitable, and funds the services that people need, want, and use.
President Obama, Sen. Chris Dodd, and our local congressmen, John Larson and Joe Courtney, have fought hard to stop polluters, and they support middle-class values and the ability to prosper in a rapidly expanding world of wealth amassed by a shrinking pool of earners. They have fought hard to revamp a health-care system that creates more profits than cures, and they make sure we all have a better means to provide for ourselves when we can’t work or choose to slow down in our senior years.
We also have a blooming venue of alternatives to conservative media, online and in this paper. Bet you didn’t know the Journal Inquirer is the only commercial newspaper I’ve found in America that prints a weekly column written by a union guy.
As bad as some things may seem, there really are many good things that are happening that can give us good reasons to give thanks - and not just for the turkeys.
Leo Canty is a labor and political activist. He lives in Windsor.