One Hard Hat, Four Men

Some of the folks I spoke to around Ohio were natural story tellers. One of them was George, an autoworker in Toledo. For almost two hours he reveled in walking me through his three and a half decades as an employee of Chrysler. More than once, he made me laugh to tears. As I work on his story, I have to share one of his anecdotes, told to me with passion and pride.

George would not stand for being put in danger at work. That adamancy lost him his job during his first year with Chrysler, 1977. Back then he was working on Jeep Cherokee tailgates, which hung by hooks overhead the workers. Each tailgate weighed about seventy pounds, and a jerk in the line could cause the hooks to break, sending those bulks of metal tumbling down onto the men below. George, with the innocent audacity of a novice, demanded that a safety cage be put in place. Management handed over a hard hat. There were four men.  Continue reading

A Memory on Memorial Day

Memorial Day implores us to remember fallen soldiers. And we shall. Yet that remembrance will always be incomplete, because a life lost is a tragedy worsened by the silence it creates. Dead soldiers cannot tell us their stories. They cannot recount the details of their final moments, nor the thoughts that coincided. We cannot know if they sensed fear, shock, anger, surrender, loneliness, relief, all of these, none of these. Which loved ones warmed their hearts before the cold settled in? Which enemies tortured their minds before oblivion? We shall not know.

Surviving soldiers can share their stories. Death lives in these tales too. It’s depravity damages all sides in war. It can settle into the mind even when the body endures. It haunts. On Memorial Day, let us remember that.  Continue reading

Full Disclosure

I have lately been putting together the stories of the young people I have spoken with around Ohio, and wanted to share some personal reflections. 

I cannot compose this chapter without considering my own circumstances, and also feeling compelled to provide a full disclosure. I am only one year older than Meggan and Arianna. Like them, I am trying to find my way academically and professionally, and have yet to secure myself financially. I have also surpassed the average ages of marriage and childbirth, and am in no rush to catch up with my cohort. Just like Meggan, I work on a part-time basis while transitioning to graduate school and am not paying rent thanks to the hospitality of my parents. Unlike both of them, my choices have been made under privileged circumstances. Nevertheless, these choices were also intimately connected to the recession.  Continue reading

Baffled Pill: Why We Are Killing Ourselves

I published a piece on the Huffington Post that offers a glimpse into the confusion and contradictions dogging our healthcare system and how we approach it. 

Last month, Steven Brill published an article, “Bitter Pill: Why Medical Bills Are Killing Us,” which directed national attention to our health care system in a more serious way than has been the case since the 2009 debates over the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare). It was a nuanced, comprehensive, and thoughtful account of a broken system. Yet unlike many political issues, health care is one that impacts all of us, all the time, whether or not politicians and pundits are addressing it. Every day, people live, suffer through, survive, and die in the health care system. Read the rest here!

Swing State Sorrows: The Price of a Vote that Matters

My latest article, now up on the Huffington Post, discusses the impact of Ohio’s centrality in the national elections on our state’s political culture.

We hear it time and again, enviously, bitterly, admiringly, coaxingly. It may be our sole characteristic that induces jealousy among our compatriots. It entices the world’s most powerful men to court us. Observers from Beijing to Benghazi eye us intently; from New York to California they unabashedly ogle us. We are awash — maybe drowning — in the money of millionaires. Here in Ohio, our votes matter.

By November 7, we will have determined the course of the domestic and foreign policies of a global superpower. Very soon thereafter all will forget us, and then in four years wonder again why we are so fickle. In the meantime, we will be left to attend to our wounds. Maybe we will mend them, but probably they will fester. All that is certain is that no entity could be so torn and embattled without suffering critical damage. Read the rest here! 

Let’s Disagree to Agree? Romney, Obama, and the Foreign Policy Debate

Some reflections on the final presidential debate of 2012 for Aslan.

During the final presidential debate of the 2012 campaign season, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney and Democratic president-and-candidate Barack Obama frequently found themselves in agreement on major foreign policy issues. Although the agreements were more apparent than in the past, thanks to the recent emergence of “Mitt the Moderate,” they could have been anticipated. When Michael Hudson and I wrote about the candidates’ stances on issues related to the Middle East, we found Mitt Romney’s stances to be vague, critical and bellicose, but largely indistinct in specifics. His philosophy may well be “speak ambiguously and carry a big stick.” Read the rest here!

The Secretary’s Setback: The Polls Will Stay Open in Ohio

In my latest piece on the Huffington Post, I talk about the early voting saga in Ohio with Ohioans themselves.

The battle over early voting in Ohio might, finally, be over. The crusader for limiting voters’ access to the polls, Secretary of State Jon Husted, took a fatal blow from the United States Supreme Court on Tuesday. They declined to hear his appeal of the decision of lower courts that favored keeping the polls open the weekend before the November 6 election. The unelected justices-for-life did democracy a favor. Read the rest here!