By Anonymous (not verified) on December 07, 2012

Michigan state police used chemical weapons -- pepper spray or something similar -- on union members protesting a "right to work" bill that is being rushed through the lame-duck Michigan legislature. Eight union members were arrested; police said they were trying to enter the Senate chamber.

Though lawmaking is often a leisurely process, the right to work bill was passed by the Michigan House on the same day it was introduced. The legislation is expected to become law next week. Republican Governor Rick Snyder, who spent his first two years in office maintaining that right to work was too divisive and not on his agenda, endorsed the bill. Snyder said the measure was needed to remain competitive with Indiana, which enacted a right to work measure earlier this year. A Michigan right to work law will drive a stake into the heart of unionism in the industrial Midwest.

Several thousand union members were inside the capitol building when police locked the doors.

"We will not have another Wisconsin in Michigan," state police inspector Gene Adamczyk told the Associated Press.

Another thousand outside overwhelmed a handful of right to work supporters from Americans for Prosperity, who were trying to hold a rally on the capitol steps.


Photo by Jim West -- http://www.jimwestphoto.com

Two huge, but nearly empty, Americans for Prosperity tents occupied the capitol lawn. A continuous loop of Ronald Reagan speeches playing on the group's sound system was for the most part drowned out by chanting protesters.

In the spirit of George Orwell, the Republican legislators have renamed their legislation "Freedom to Work," saying it gives workers "more control over their own lives, pocketbook and employment." Department of Labor statistics show that it gives workers less money. A middle school teacher in a right to work state, for instance, earns $6,500 less than his or her counterparts in non-right-to-work states.

Jim West is a photographer specializing in labor and social issues -- jimwestphoto.com.


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By Wendell Berry

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more 
of everything ready made. Be afraid 
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery 
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card 
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something 
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know. 
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord. 
Love the world. Work for nothing. 
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it. 
Denounce the government and embrace 
the flag. Hope to live in that free 
republic for which it stands. 
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man 
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers. 
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.


Say that the leaves are harvested 
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus 
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion—put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come. 
Expect the end of the world. Laugh. 
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts. 
So long as women do not go cheap 
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy 
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep 
of a woman near to giving birth? 
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head 
in her lap. Swear allegiance 
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos 
can predict the motions of your mind, 
lose it. Leave it as a sign 
to mark the false trail, the way 
you didn’t go. Be like the fox 
who makes more tracks than necessary, 
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Wendell Berry is a poet, farmer, and environmentalist in Kentucky. This poem, first published in 1973, is reprinted by permission of the author and appears in his “New Collected Poems” (Counterpoint).

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