Posts Tagged 'Arjun Janah'

A shadow and a candle

by Arjun Janah, July 2013

As the long, dread shadow of Detroit falls over the cities, a flickering candle is lit in Bridgeport, Connecticut.Will we allow it to be blown out, as Arne Duncan and so many who have power, wealth and access to the media would wish?

The requirement that a school superintendent should have basic education credentials (not to speak of teaching experience) appears to be common sense — but not in the bizarre world we have entered.

Let us salute the parents of Bridgeport and the Working Families Party.Let us remember that the ones who got rid of Mayor Fenty and Michelle Rhee in D.C. were not the “social progressives” nor the elites of Washington, but the middle class and poor, mostly African Americans, who were most directly affected by what was happening in the schools and saw the problems most clearly.

This is not to say that the situation prior to Rhee in D.C. or that in Bridgeport prior to this superintendent was not grave. But should cancer be treated with medicine fit for toothache — or vice versa?

Before beginning or continuing any treatment, the validity of the diagnostic hypothesis — judged by the observational and experimental evidence for and against it, needs to be seriously considered.

— Arjun

Speak The Truth!

by Arjun Janah, Brooklyn, March 9, 2011

In Wisconsin, teachers stood
For weeks in snow, misunderstood.
And other workers stood beside.
They said, “The truth, you cannot hide!”

So in the states, the people rise,
But in the center, there’s surprise.
Obama, like the Clintons, eyes
The wealthiest — and yields to lies.

To Illinois, they had to flee
From Madison, to disagree,
Those Democrats, in more than name,
With guts to say, “A crying shame!”

And still it passed, by subterfuge,
The bill that offers no refuge
For workers, taking back the rights
They’d won through past (and bitter) fights.

Fifty years, at once erased!
And if, by this, you’re now amazed,
Then wait, for what is coming next,
And you’ll be even more perplexed.

Your pensions, and that Medicare.
And Medicaid! For those who care,
They’re raising the retirement age,
While lowering the effective wage.

But trillions yet, we spend on wars.
The super-rich are now our stars.
The young, they live on fantasy,
Their I-pods and their ecstasy.

The rich are getting richer, at
A rate that’s blowing off the hat.
A few percent now own this land
And government. You understand?

The rest of us are renters all,
The hired help, is what they call
Us, those who work. And those who can’t?
Just listen, to the bigots’ rant!

So who, at center, is for us?
And whom, can we, in future, trust?
Who speaks the truth, and says it loud?
Who sees, what this is all about?

They’re few and they are far between,
And most, by us, are rarely seen
Or heard. By media, they’re ignored,
Or swiftly, by the powers, gored.

So we, to those, in power, turn,
Or those who’re close to it, to learn.
And still, a few have guts enough
To speak the truth, although it’s tough.

Republicans are for the rich.
The Democrats are seen to switch.
So what should working people do?
Unite and say, “With lies, we’re through!”

Howard Dean’s a Democrat,
And still has balls to call a rat
For what it is. So go and sign
To say, “We see the full design

“And just don’t buy it. We create
The wealth. We will not tolerate
These lies that try to hide the root
Of what’s the ailment. Speak the truth!”

If when you’re old, you’d rather die,
And if, when sick, you’d gladly try
To live on streets, then let this pass.
If not, then rise, and kick some ass!

Arjun
2011 March 19th, Fri.
Brooklyn

So Freedom’s Flame Can Burn

by Babui / Arjun

Workers, disunited, to predators, are prey.
They’re easiest to capture, when caught in disarray.
Workers, when united, are forceful and escape
The fate of those that singly dare to masters disobey.

The snake engulfs the frog, the spotted leopard stalks the deer.
Who’s predator, and who’s the prey, in every case, is clear,
But when a species harbors those that feed on fellows, then
The ones who are the prey have cause, from kindred kind, to fear.

“Oh serve me well”, a master says, “and I will let you live,
And sustenance, for you and for the ones you shelter, give.
But slack at work, and you will hear and feel my cracking whip,
And know, that if you cross me once, this master won’t forgive!”

Another uses tactics of another, subtler kind,
And plays, with expertise, upon the striving worker’s mind.
And so, the worker races and, with others, must compete,
While worshiping his master — being, to the capture, blind.

And each, on climbing ladder, steps on ones that climb below.
And those, who once were equals, now are seen as high or low.
And this how they’re captured, as they capture, in their turn.
So evil is established — and, to evil, workers bow.

Workers, disunited, know the power of the boss,
Who’s driven, in her turn, by those who’re counting profit, loss.
And each must labor harder yet, and smarter yet, and faster,
And never dare to those above, of wealth and power, cross.

Workers, when united, have confidence to learn.
These structures of oppression, they slowly overturn,
Replacing these with structures, with less of hierarchy.
Then work again has meaning — and freedom’s flame can burn.

But words like these may conjure up a vision of illusion,
And ardent ones may sacrifice and die, amidst confusion.
And though some see with clarity, the others are beclouded,
And pettiness and evil reign — and end is disillusion.

Beware — that revolution brings not freedom, but yet more
Of slavery, with masters new, with worker-serf at chore,
With nothing changed, except that now perhaps it’s even worse,
As bosses new have newer lies to add to lies of yore.

So this is how it must begin — to do away with bosses.
The one, who wishes to be free, his “leader” gently tosses.
We’re equal in the eyes of God, the faithful loudly claim.
But in the eyes of men, we’re not.  And so, we suffer losses.

The falsehoods, that are used to capture us and brutalize,
Are fetters binding workers down.  When workers realize
That this is so and strive to sort the falsehoods from the truth,
These tethers lose their strength — as they are woven out of lies.

There is no substitute, we see, for work of mind and heart.
Our ignorance has grown profound, and we have grown apart.
Let’s set ourselves to work, my friends, discard what we’ve been told,
And reconnect with soul again, so sorrow may depart.

Babui / Arjun
2011 March 5th, Sat.
Brooklyn

The Long Road to Madison, Wisconsin

by Arjun Janah, Brooklyn, February 26th, 2011

In 1959, Wisconsin became the first U.S. state to grant municipal employees and teachers the right to bargain collectively for wages and benefits. In 1967, this was extended to all state employees.  It is perhaps worth noting that the first law was passed under a Democratic governor, at a time when the state Assembly was controlled by Democrats and the state Senate by Republicans. The second law was passed under a Republican governor, with both houses controlled by Republicans.

…we have in place…a global race to the bottom for labor, where the worker must work harder and longer (both in hours per week and years per life) for less, under increasing stress, anxiety and insecurity, and a global “race to the top” … for the wealthiest and their courtiers.

So we see that, by the 60’s, a bipartisan consensus had been reached, at least in Wisconsin (as well as in many other states) about the rights of public workers to have unions and to bargain collectively.

Unions are now at about 12% nationwide, but at around 36% in public sector jobs. So now we see an assault underway against the public sector unions. …we have seen an acceleration of the trend towards increasing income inequality, with the majority of the wealth and income in this country being concentrated…in the hands of a very small fraction of the population.

Now, a full half century later, we see Scott Walker, Republican governor of Wisconsin, attempting to take away public workers’ right to collectively bargain for pensions and other benefits.  He is not content that they have agreed to cuts in these, and to pay more for them, even though the alleged budget deficit can be directly traced to hundred-million-dollar tax cuts given recently by governor Walker to the wealthy in his state. His goal is to accelerate the process of dismantling what is left of the union movement in this country.  In this, he is in active partnership with other Republican governors and their billionaire backers. Continue reading ‘The Long Road to Madison, Wisconsin’

Faust in Gotham

Faust in Gotham

You never taught inside a school,
While dabbling in the classics,
And yet, you do o’er teachers rule,
Who teach the children basics.

From Marcy Mount to Brooklyn and
From Buffalo to sea,
You rule o’er K-12, and more,
In all your majesty.

And yet, when Bloomberg roars, you squeak,
And toss upon your bed.
You now are grown, and yet, you leave
Your sheets and mattress wet.

Oh Steiner, where’s your backbone gone?
Why do you bow and dither?
Arise, and do your duty, man!
Ask not of Bloomberg, “Whither?”

They say, you’re not a socialite,.
But you were raised elite.
Your father was a famous man,
But was he so effete?

You backed the charters, and you’ve been
With Bloomberg until now.
But now, we have a crisis and
You’re having, see, a cow!

You’re used, like once the English were,
To bow down to your king.
And yet, your conscience tells you that
He doesn’t know a thing.

Not business — that he knows too well.
But teaching children, see!
The ones, who know, are targeted,
By President’s decree.

And all that “education” stuff
That you and your kind preach,
Are now perceived as naught but fluff,
For “Anyone can teach!”

And teachers are but like the ones
That Bloomberg rode from high.
He sends down little CEO’s,
Who parachute from sky.

Ah, David, you are now that Faust,
Who pacted with the Devil.
You listen to the gramophone,
To dull the sense of evil.

You sold your soul and now repent,
And yet cannot resist.
With Satan, you would compromise,
And from the truth, desist.

Oh David, have we so misjudged
And slandered you today?
Then prove us wrong, and do what’s right,
As Joel slinks away.

Arjun Janah      < sjanah@aol.com >
2010 November 25th, Friday
Brooklyn


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Content of signed articles and comments represents the opinions of their authors. The views expressed in signed articles are not necessarily the views of New Action/UFT.
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