For those of you who watch the news, you've probably been seeing some stories about my home state and our governor's bid to, hell, I don't even know what he's all trying to do. Take away collective bargaining rights from state worker unions, and also privatize the state's power plants (read Matt Taibbi's Griftopia if you want to see how that sort of thing turns out), etc. etc. Here's how I'm going to nutshell it: he wants to pull a whole bunch of shit that he acts like will save the state money, when we all know it won't, and it'll all probably end up costing more money, and he's just a big jerk politician like all the rest of them, looking to hook up his friends with sweet gigs and maybe get a little national publicity for himself.
I'm not going to get into it any further, as this is not a political blog, and I don't know enough about anything that's going on to comment.* The older I get the more I see the wisdom of Matt Groening's Life Is Hell cartoon books, in which someone is always saying "mistakes were made." This is largely how I feel about politics these days, and our country in general. Mistakes have been made, by unions and management and state and national governments and individuals alike.**
Already this is too long a lead-in to what I really want to talk about: Paul Clemens's quiet little book Punching Out: One Year in a Closing Auto Plant.
I love Paul Clemens, and have ever since I stumbled across his superlative memoir, Made in Detroit. So when I saw this new book, I got super excited, because my favorite nonfiction authors only write so many books, and a new one is always exciting. (Come on, William Langewiesche and Tom Bissell--get writing!) I also thought this one was going to be an investigative work on actually working in a closing auto plant, and was eager to read Clemens's take on the labor situation.
What I got was something much different. And this post is too long already, so let's adjourn until next week--I'll actually try to get the book itself reviewed for Monday's post. In the meantime, do your homework: watch this clip of Clemens talking on The Daily Show.
*I try to be informed--as a former librarian, of course, my work almost always depended on government largesse--so I've read some articles, and I've read enough books now to have a pretty good idea of what's going on nationally. But still: the more I learn, the less I realize I know, and the less I want to shout out what little I know. Hence my ambivalence toward the protests.***
**Actually, my favorite article about the whole fiasco has been the one in which it was pointed out that no one knows how much all the extra cop hours are going to cost, and who's going to pay them. Now THAT's how democracy works, baby!
***Don't yell at me. I've protested in my time, and it never goes well. Personally or in the larger scope of things.