Posted by: endithinks | March 2, 2011

Microwaves hate Unions

(Repost from endithinks.blogspot.com)

The ultimate example of convenience and modern living, the microwave has had an undeniable impact on our kitchens and our society.  They bring the idea of popped corn to the forefront of our minds while we scroll through our Netflix queues alone on a Friday night.  Their radiation glow lightens the dark room after we’ve snuck into the kitchen for a midnight snack of processed cheese and fried tortillas.  They are the friends of single adults and five year old snack seekers dispensing passable food in mere seconds.  However, microwaves have a deep, dark secret.  Microwaves hate unions.

The microwave oven as we know it arrived in American businesses and homes starting in 1967.  The microwave was advertised as a convenience device that would cut the time that “moms” would spend slaving over a hot stove and spend more quality time with the family playing board games, watching television or waving to neighbors riding by on their bicycles.  Of course the saved time did come, but the actual result was an eroding of the time with family.  The microwave had undermined the tantalizing and seductive power of anticipation that boiling pots and chopping aromas elicit.

The instant gratification that microwaves brought to our most basic of needs started to permeate other areas of our lives as well.  We began to withdraw from social outings and instead curl up with our cable television and TV dinners.  We withdrew from churches, bowling leagues, charitable clubs as we simply wanted satisfaction without having to put in the actual time and dedication needed for those avenues of social connection to have any meaning.  We in essence started seeing the phenomenon commonly known as “being together alone.”  We were setting ourselves on the path toward collective isolationism that is so rampant today.

Unions are a collection of workers who through collective bargaining, negotiation and hard work helped build our middle class that our society takes for granted.  The working conditions of today such as five day work weeks, health care, workers compensation, unemployment, on the job injury compensation, safe working conditions and the like would all not be as robust and in some cases in existence at all if not for the work of unions.

Unions of course have had their historic enemies that include public apathy and policy decisions.  The public response to unions over the past few years have been colored by a well organized media campaign to color unions as somehow separate from the rest of us.  The unions have become the scapegoat for big business problems and poor business practices.  Auto companies have used union demands for health benefits and safe work conditions as the reason behind the decline in American auto brands success.

The most devastating policy change to unions is most likely the Taft-Hartley Act of 1947.  This act in the wake of World War II labor disputes and strikes limited the ability of unions to take certain negotiation tactics such as strikes, and sympathetic strikes and enables states to make aggressive “right to work” laws which limited or eliminated the ability to form unions or outlawed union labor.  Many states have used those right to work type of laws to restrict membership since the fifties until today.

The biggest problem towards unions is of course the public view of unions.  Union membership has declined in the private sector at a swift pace since the early days of the seventies.  Public sector unions have been growing as a result of budgetary cuts that came about as a result of a failed fiscal policy on the federal and state levels.  Budgets are being slashed in order to make up for many of the unsafe overreaches of fiscal policy that have been creeping into the system for the past thirty years and the budgetary shortfalls that came as direct results from the inability and unwillingness to make a more fair tax system that actually follows the graduated tax codes enacted over one hundred years ago.

When the top income earners can reduce their taxes from 35% to 15% through stock investments (capital gains taxes peak at 15%) and therefore save themselves hundreds of thousands of dollars.  Many financial experts point to the fact that the tax rates during President Nixon’s tenure if they were retained would have eliminated the budgetary shortfalls we are seeing in the past few years.

Of course all these facts do not make a difference if no one is paying attention.  The amount of time that we spend in front of an entertainment box is the highest it has ever been since we began recording the average amount of time we spend watching television.  On average we spend four hours a day watching TV and almost 70% of us watch TV while eating dinner.  TV is a one way medium and it does not allow the time spent in front of it for conversation, unless you are like my family who would talk in the middle of library/funeral.  The loss of the meal as a focal point of a family has more repercussions than one would guess.

Microwaves allow people to start and finish meals alone by themselves and without the unnecessary conversation or socialization that comes with tables, dining rooms and a sense of belonging.  We are pulled in so many directions by choice and circumstances that many of us are losing our foundations.  We are forgetting or abandoning an aspect of socialization that permeates every major point in our lives as humans.  Food and togetherness is the prescription for any social illness.  When we get married, buried, arrive, depart, welcome in a new life, anniversarate and celebrate we always include food.  Think of the last time you went to a party and there were no refreshments.

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