Mayday, Mayday, May Day!


““Mayday!” signals a life-threatening emergency. Everyone who hears it immediately understands the grave urgency and the call to action.
“M-aidez” French for, “Help Me.” The root of the cry for help…”

Wim Laven
Published in: Emmitsburg, Anchorage Press, Bainbridge Island Review, Westside Gazette, Sierra County Prospect
Date: May 1,5,6,2020
940 Words

For the full article:
Mayday, Mayday, May Day!
940 Words
By Wim Laven

“Mayday!” signals a life-threatening emergency. Everyone who hears it immediately understands the grave urgency and the call to action.
M-aidez” French for, “Help Me.” The root of the cry for help.

There is another meaning to May Day, but perhaps this is the year for both.

In many countries May 1st is a holiday. Sometimes known as “International Workers’ Day” or “Labor Day,” the occasion reflects the theme of the people—the workers—being recognized for the good they provide to society.
In 1791 Philadelphia carpenters held strikes to demand a 10-hour-workday. The demand spread to other workers and by the 1830’s they insisted on 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. with two hours for meals.
In 1904 May 1st famously marked the push for the legalization of an 8-hour-workday. Workers’ rights are really human rights and have always been tough struggles because every nickel spent on wages or benefits is one the owner cannot add to his mint of profits.
“Help them!”

In 2020 the tradition of the rich getting richer is alive and well. Amidst a global pandemic President Donald Trump shows his love for the stock market but not an utterance of compassion or empathy for those who die avoidable and preventable deaths in factories.

There is great distress at the stock market corporate level, but we see protests to demand a return to business as usual carried out by others—often funded by the elites. Bands of gun-toting-extremists rallying at, sometimes inside, capitol buildings, clearly Trump supporters by their signage and MAGA hats. These people are not the friends of those who work at meat packing factories. Fake grassroots movements like these, coordinated nationally and supported by corporate donors, earned the term of derision: astroturf campaigns. Fake grassroots.

On May 1st 2020, by presidential decree, people will be forced to go to jobs at meat processing plants, where they will not have the appropriate safeguards, and some will get sick and die avoidable deaths. Callous abdication of concern for the people doing the work and the suffering their families endure. The order does not protect the worker; it only serves to protect the businesses from liability. Private profits delivered at the cost of public risk continues to be a favored strategy. Trump said China was doing a great job responding to the coronavirus when he wanted a trade deal, but he changed his mind when he failed—again.

Donald Trump lies.

Where has the Defense Production Act been when healthcare providers across the country have responded to the ongoing pandemic without appropriate personal protective equipment? Clearly the Trump’s administration does not see human life as part of the critical infrastructure of the US. Farmers have an abundance of food that they cannot process, which they’ve been tilling back into the earth—there is a food surplus—but keeping Tyson chicken profitable is something Americans must sacrifice for.

The people are dying.

There are longer lines at food banks than have ever happened in my lifetime, and there are record millions more filing for unemployment. COVID-19 has killed more Americans than died in the Vietnam War; the people treating patients are overwhelmed, the job is causing top doctors to commit suicide and feel completely overwhelmed; sympathy cards are selling out.

There have been some crumbs for the peasants. The bailouts have been for the rich. Small business loans were quickly gobbled up by New York Stock Exchange traded entities and small businesses like the Los Angeles Lakers (valued at $3.7billion), the banks pushing to help the biggest customers get the biggest loans so they could take in the biggest commission in fees before it was too late. The small—mom & pop—organizations the average person pictures, some of them may have gotten a hand up, but mostly it is another example of those in greatest need continuing to suffer the most—too little is going to the people, and it’s going too slow—because the system is not intended to work for the rest of us.

It is up to us.

Our safeguards are being taken away day after day. Humans are now the canaries in our many metaphorical coal mines. Our elderly and veterans are dying in staggering numbers, stocked up in housing with austere budgets. Prisoners, despite Constitutional guarantees against cruel and unusual punishment, are being infected at alarming rates, especially in for-profit institutions. Children—the brain-trust of our democratic values—will have limited options for future success when hundreds if not thousands of colleges and universities permanently close their doors for lack of public support in the coming years. The air we breathe and the water we drink is continuously under threat of increasingly relaxed standards, again, favoring corporate profits over public health, with the extra contamination allowed because the COVID-19 crisis makes these abominable moves possible.
Change will not come until the people demand it. It is time for the people to return to our roots in protest—a long and valued American tradition. We need to put a stop to the taxation funding giveaways to millionaires when millions of poor do not have and are losing their healthcare. If the government will not bail the people out, we should contemplate what sort of services or funding we should withhold from the government. If the President and some Governors want deadly experiments with public safety and death sentences for laborers, then we should think about collective workplace action with real numbers, real power. It is time that we wake up, unite, and demand the quality of life that we deserve. Mayday! There is a life threatening emergency, we’re dying in the name of greed, collectively we need to act fast before it’s too late.
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Wim Laven, Ph.D., syndicated by PeaceVoice, teaches courses in political science and conflict resolution.

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