Let Us Begin A Journey For Justice

Another great day in the neighborhood. We had a couple or three celebrities in church today: a great country singer, my friend, Jim Roth having edged away from the scruffy look but always looking good, Joe Dorman Democratic Candidate for Governor of Oklahoma,  along with who I hope will be my next State Representative Collin Walke Candidate for House District 87, in Oklahoma. All great people.

We had a great message from our Associate Minister the Reverend Lori Walke on Labor issues and other issues from time of Moses to current events that are now unfolding across our world. I was able to relate to that in my talk during Prayers of the People, my part for Labor in the Pulpit for 2014 at my church, Mayflower Congregational Church in OKC.

Good morning. As you may have notice I’m not Nancy Musselman for one thing she is so much more better looking than me and we won’t go any further in that direction. This has been a summer of soft gentle rains, beautifully crafted mornings, sweetly turned evenings, gorgeously cool nights, a summer of polar vortex cold fronts, quite a few not so sweat able days. And just enough of those hot humid Oklahoma summer days to let us know that it ain’t summer in Oklahoma until we’ve cooked without a stove at least once.

But for those who toil at the lower end of the economic scale and have little, this summer, this year hasn’t been kind. They face every day another crisis; a crisis born of hunger and need because the wages they receive are so low they often don’t know how they will be able to put enough food on the table to feed their families.

On the eve of a holiday started by workers for workers millions of workers are still facing food insecurity and homelessness because the pay they receive cannot allow them to adequately feed, clothe and house their families. One in four children go to bed hungry every night in a nation that is the richest and has the most abundant of food supplies in the world.

We as Christians should ask ourselves this question – Where would Jesus stand on the issue of a living wage? He did not say anywhere that I have ever read, “Blessed are the rich for they shall prosper against all others!” He did say, “What you do unto the least of mine, you also do unto me!”

As for me, I believe Jesus, would be out on the street with a picket sign in his hands, “saying I am ready to go to jail for justice, raise the minimum wage, free my children from oppressive poverty, pay them their worth for the work that they do.” Of course that might just be, my radically subversive union mind on overload.

But I don’t believe that to be true, his teachings have always lead me to the conclusion that Jesus, was himself a radically subversive thinker; cut from the same cloth as the kind of thinkers that wrote our constitution. And that he too believed in justice for all. That he too believed in ensuring the domestic tranquility. That he too believed in promoting the general welfare, for every single other. Every single other as we say right here in this beautiful sanctuary every Sunday.

Those ideas were radically subversive for the time of the American Revolution, they were radically subversive for the time in which Jesus lived, and they strangely enough have become radically subversive for our time. For me Jesus is about love and compassion and if you have compassion you have to believe that every single other deserves to have a living wage. For as a certain minister we all know says “Either we all matter or none of us do!” Me, I’m with Robin in that I believe every single other does matter. And in my heart I believe that Jesus feels the same way.

He isn’t here with us today physically, but he is here in our hearts, in our minds and in our thoughts, and he is saying, “The time is right and it is the right time; pay my children a living wage so they too can cultivate their better natures. So they too can know the domestic tranquility that others are blessed with.”

There are those in our nation who have the power to make the lives of low-wage workers and their families better. But, I wonder are they listening?

Let Us Begin A Journey For Justice

For those that toil and need so much,
Seldom get any help from those out of touch,
Out of touch with the realities of life,
Who can’t see that some people are torn in strife.

Strife to barely keep their families fed,
Because they lack food and often bread,
Their wages are so terribly, terribly low,
That they have no place they can go.

We must find a way to enrich their lives,
Make an effort to do more that prostelize,
Because as my minister is fond of saying too,
Either we all matter or none of us do.

I believe that we matter each and everyone,
That none so much matters more than one,
That we must help lift up those in need,
Try to find a way to overcome avarice and greed.

To find a way for all to earn what they are due,
To receive a fair and living wage not just me or you,
On this Labor Day as we celebrate workers again,
Let the journey towards justice for all now begin.

Bob Bearden

Posted in Bob Beardon, Oklahoma | Leave a comment

Timeless Relevance: “Turn, Turn, Turn” at 50

Timeless Relevance: “Turn, Turn, Turn” at 50.

The year was 1965 and the Viet Nam War lingered. Unsettled Americans (youth especially) sought a clarion call. In October they got it. A new rock-folk group, “The Byrds” released a song, an anthem for peace that also became the nation’s #1 song. The song was “Turn, Turn, Turn.”

Written by legendary Pete Seeger in the ‘50s during a time of suspicion (The McCarthy Era) and concern (nuclear proliferation), “Turn’s” lyrics are drawn from Ecclesiastes 3:1-8  (with words attributed to King Solomon).

Posted in Music | 1 Comment

Another Labor Day

As we approach another Labor Day we still have millions of workers who face the prospect of either paying their bills or feeding their families, because their wages are so low that they often can’t do both. 83 percent of all Americans now believe that the minimum wage should be raised and a number of states have already enacted laws that have raised the minimum wage in their states at least to $10.10. Some cities have actually raised the minimum wage to as high as $15.00 an hour and even a few corporations and companies have taken steps to increase the wages of their employees to a level that is at or above the federal standard of $10.10 per hour that President Obama has set with his executive order.

Those are positive steps in the right direction but there are still millions of workers not affected by those states, cities and corporations who have taken a step to improve the lot of low wage workers. On the eve of a holiday started by workers for workers we have to encourage a do-nothing congress to raise the federal minimum for all workers across the board.

The old cry that raising the minimum wage will hurt the economy is long been disproved. Economists agree that raising the minimum wage will boost the economy and create more jobs not less jobs. The record is clear raising the minimum wage create jobs it doesn’t stagnate the economy. And there is one quick way for congress to do that. Pass the president’s bill to rebuild our infrastructure most of which is crumbling and in much need of rebuilding.

We have roads and bridges on main highly traveled highways that are way past dangerous and are simply major disasters waiting to happen which when they do will cost not only billions to fix but will likely cause the loss of hundreds if not thousands of lives. Lives that should be more important than ending government as we know it. Not only will that save lives it will also create millions of new living wage jobs and put millions of the unemployed back to work.

Low wage workers are making billions in profits for big box stores like Wal-Mart and Home Depot, it’s time they gave back to their employees a little of those profits. No CEO in the world needs nor do they deserve to make 3 or 4 hundred thousand dollars a week. And anyone who thinks they do has a screw loose in my opinion. And don’t give me that old song and dance that they earn that type of compensation because they don’t and they never have. They depend upon their employees to do their jobs and if their employees don’t do their jobs then the company doesn’t reap the profits that pays them and their stockholders there geld.

And it’s not socialism allowing their employees a piece of the pie raked in by the profits they make. Many companies have been allowing their employees to share in the profits of the company for many, many years and they haven’t, not one single one, turned into socialist entities. They still have a bottom line and they are still a capitalistic entity. It’s totally false for anyone to make such an outrageous claim.

Profit sharing companies have been around for well over 100 years. Allowing employees to share in the profits of a company makes a lot more sense than having employees working for you that have to be trained on how to go about seeking government assistance because you don’t pay them enough to feed, clothe and house their families.

On this Labor Day we should be asking the question of all of our corporate powers why aren’t you paying your employees a living wage? It’s the Christian thing to do and if you are a person and if your company is a Christian company as you say it is then why aren’t you following the teachings that Jewish Rabbi from Nazareth and paying his children their worth for the work that they do? I don’t recall that Christ ever said, “Blessed are the rich for they shall prosper against all others!” But he did say, “What you do unto the least of mine, you also do unto me!”

Mr. Green of Hobby Lobby if you really are such a true Christian as you claim to be then why aren’t you and the Walton family paying your employees a fair and living wage? Why do so many of your employees have to receive public assistance just to be able to feed, clothe and house their families?

Riddle me that Mr. Green?

Bob Bearden

Posted in Bob Beardon | 2 Comments

House District 88, Paula Sofia

My friend Paula Sofia lost her election in the race to replace Kay Floyd in House District 88. Paula ran a great race and fell after all her hard work 22 votes short of being the first transgender in Oklahoma (possibly the US) to be a state representative. She ran a clean campaign and fought uphill all the way against difficult odds. Paula put a lot of hard work into her efforts as did a lot of wonderful people who supported her.

It’s always’s difficult when you lose and especially if you lose in a race that was as close as Paula’s but it was worth the effort and it made a little history in red state Oklahoma that Paula wouldn’t probably have had a chance to make only a few short years ago. It points up that things are changing even in deep red Oklahoma and people’s minds, hearts and souls are changing with the times. In a loss that was as close as this one you have to look for the positives and there are always positives.

The positive thing for me is that people saw Paula as the caring hard working human being she is and has always been. That’s who she is and that’s what they saw and understood. She’s only different in the way any of us are different. We are different because of who we are as human beings not what people want to make us out to be. We are different because of where we come from. We are different because what we think and feel and believe not because of our sexual orientation or our skin color. As the actor said in To Be Or Not To Be, “If you prick us do we not bleed?” And do we not bleed red?

Paula is out there ahead of us all saying to us come on people we are all the same under the skin. We are all just human beings trying to get by just like any other human being. We have our ups and downs. We have our likes and dislikes. We have our good days and bad days. We love, we laugh and we have our pains and aches and it shouldn’t matter beyond that.

What should matter is not what our gender is, not what our skin color is but how we treat others and how we live our lives for the betterment of human kind. We can worship differently. We can believe differently. But at the end of the day our race, our color, our creed, our orientation, our gender shouldn’t matter one way or the other. What should matter is how we treat others. What should matter is how we treat those among us who have little. How we treat those among us who are suffering and are in need.

Paula is telling us it is about caring and giving and sharing it’s not about homophobia, or racism or bigotry it’s about love and compassion. It’s about the human race and being able to live together without hate. Thank you Paula for who you are, a good kind and caring human being. You did good!

Bob Bearden

Posted in Bob Beardon, Oklahoma | Leave a comment

Primary Elections Oklahoma

The final stage of the primary elections in Oklahoma are history. Not all of the candidates that won would have been of my choosing but I congratulate the winners and wish them well in the fall General Election. Hopefully their perseverance will carry over in November and they will not only get elected they will become the change they have pledged to be in our state. We need doers not sayers. We have plenty of promises from politicians most of which have long since floated off into the winds and been forgotten, not by the people but certainly by the politicians.

We need statesmen and stateswomen now more than ever. We have enough tea bags to go around, in point of fact we are drowning in tea baggery and they only want to destroy not recreate or improve. They know nothing of substance and they are full of hate, can’t quote the constitution correctly on a bet; and will if allowed to stay in office and do all in their power to end the USA as we know it, creating in the process – what? a utopia of high ideals that have no basis in fact.

This is our world candidates and welcome to it, but don’t just hawk your brand we have plenty of brand names and most of them ain’t doing nothing but trying to get re-elected. They spout endlessly and prattle on mightily about what they are going to do and then the last we see of them they are hightailing it out of town and spouting rhetoric that sounds good on a 5 second sound bite but tells nothing about what they are willing to do to make the world a safe, saner and better place than when they found it.

It is stewardship and leadership and responsible behavior we seek not some idiot grousing about birthers and impeachment and government shutdown. If you can’t do something to fix our infrastructure that is crumbling under our feet then get the hell out of Dodge and go somewhere and cry yourself to sleep. We need doers and fixers not chronic complainers. We can’t fix stupid so take your dumbness somewhere else and hand it off to someone who actually gives a damn cause we care about what is wrong not about you trying to palm off some ignorant half-baked theory about how global warming ain’t and our president ain’t no real American! We already have enough stupid Gomers to last us a lifetime. What we need is smart people who actually care about our world and welcome to it.

Dumb asses we have and we are pretty much sick and tired of these stupilized. simple thinking idiots. Of these we are full up of and have no need of any more. Guys having bad hair days spouting their conspiracy theories and birthers theories need not apply. If you ain’t got that swing then you need to deplane. We need real people who actually have a clue as to what is really going on in this world of ours and are willing to make a difference for all not just a petrified few rich cranks who want all that they have and everything that everyone else has as well.

We need people who care about people not just a few of the people but every single other regardless of where they are on the food chain of life! Me too days should be over. We too days where all count but none too much (thanks Rudyard for that) that’s what we need. One for all and all for one!

Bob Bearden

Posted in Bob Beardon, Oklahoma | Leave a comment

Today is election day for the primary run-off

Today is election day for the primary run-off. I have already cast my vote several weeks ago. There are a number of good people who after today will not still be in the running. But whoever is will hopefully be able to make a difference come November and start to change things for the better in Oklahoma. We should be tired of the same old same old at the state capitol. They mostly carry the baggage for big oil and the fracking industry which is not good for Oklahoma in the long term. But they don’t care it’s how much money they can put in their pockets in the short term that counts. And the environment be damned.

Fossil fuel is a drag on our world and all the things it brings can be changed for the better but first we have to have legislators and public officials who want to change and who want to save our world and our state for those who will come after us. Oil and gas production was fine when we didn’t have the available technology to make things better in our world but now we do and eventually our world will run out of fossil fuel because it takes way too long to renew that type of energy and we are already at the peak of production for fossil fuel downhill is the only way it’s going to go from here.

My question for big oil and gas is why aren’t they trying to diversify and seek out new energy sources with all of their insane profits. Diversity makes much more sense than ‘drill baby drill’, especially in light of the fact that eventually that phrase will go the way of the dodo. They have the ability to make changes in our world that will benefit everyone and still make huge profits. As Joseph Welch said to Joe McCarthy, “Have they no shame. At long last have they no shame?” Why wouldn’t they want their children and grandchildren to live in a world that is clear and clean?

It makes no sense to me that when we have the technology and right here in Oklahoma we have more wind than any place on earth so why not start investing their millions upon millions of profits in wind technology? Wouldn’t it make perfect sense for them to invest in something that could continue to sustain their profits long after they have left Mother Earth for other climes hot or fair? Why wouldn’t they want to leave for themselves a legacy of hope and change for the better?

I wonder why they don’t seem to care about their progeny at all. They seem to be focused simply on the present and the future of their children be damned. Makes absolutely no sense, but that’s why I always vote democratic. Democrats aren’t perfect by any means but they do seem to care more about our future than the other party does.

Bob Bearden

Posted in Bob Beardon, Oklahoma | Leave a comment

The Pro Growth Governor that doesn’t care about the citizen

Regarding the August 8th op-ed in the Lawton Constitution – if you read it a few things should have been easily noticed. First, the people managing the editorial page and those in management are pushing Fallin propaganda. The claim for job growth is a fact that is less than accurate. The large major population centers have experienced job growth – thereby creating the illusion that the state is doing just fine. However, when you step outside the comfy environs of Tulsa and OKC there has been little if any significant job growth. The job markets that have grown are in Administrative, Support Services, Technology and the like. The other growth area is referred to as the accommodation services, food services, leisure services and hospitality sectors. So, yes there have been jobs created – jobs for white collar administrative and support services and technology. With the other growth area being in basically minimum wage level employment. A job is a Job is a Job – unless you are not in one of the growth areas.

What Oklahoma needs are good middle class life sustaining jobs. No where have we seen the traditional “blue collar” or manufacturing or construction or industrial job growth. Oklahoma will not lift itself from the low end of the wage market until there is a return of the “blue collar” worker.
So the claim she has created growth in the job sector is half true and only addresses about a third of the States job needs.
The workers compensation reform was touted as a worker friendly reform. Not so much. It is, however, a very business friendly reform. The agenda item can be found clearly spelled out on the ALEC website. Get the courts and lawyers out of businesses way. It is described as a stream lined system designed to address injured workers in a timely manner and save the state the expense of having a Workers Compensation Court System – that frequently ruled in favor of the worker. I know about that system – I administered it for a short while during my employment at Goodyear. I did not always agree with the rulings but I can say that the worker was treated fairly by the Sate – not so much going forward, I fear. The system is rigged in favor of business. The worker is no longer the prime focus and that is wrong. As the article succinctly stated “Not only was the Commission (Workers Compensation Commission) ready to handle the caseload, it understood the goal of the governor and Legislature to fundamentally change the way injured workers are compensated in Oklahoma.” The model agenda item on Workers Compensation supplied by ALEC is the first step in stripping away not just fair and equitable compensation from an injured worker it also takes away the Doctor Patient privilege in matters of occupational injury. From the model agenda item Workers Compensation:
“The Employer Standing Act Summary The Employer Standing Act gives employers legal standing before the appropriate board or commission to dispose of a workers’ compensation claim fraudulently filed by an employee.”
“Workers’ Compensation Medical Records Disclosure Act Summary Current legislative proposals to protect the privacy of individually identifiable financial and medical information severely restrict, or do not sufficiently address, the rights of employers in workers’ compensation, and other employee entitlement, claim cases.”
In other words – the worker is at the mercy of the business in every aspect of medical privacy and compensation. Seems the pendulum has swung way past center.
And then there is the absurd claim that the governor as “stood up to Washington.” In point of fact what she has done is make Oklahoma a spectacle on the national stage. To use the example of surplus military equipment as an example and couch it as though Fallin and Inhofe quixotically tilted at the windmill of the Environmental Protection Agency is absurd. How about let’s look at all of the States that currently rely on volunteer fire departments that also make good use of this equipment. It was an ill advise move on the part of the EPA to suggest the shutting down of access to the equipment. But Oklahoma is not the only state in the Union that uses this equipment. The structure of the sentence in which Fallin is the lead goes like this: When firefighters asked for help, Gov. Fallin, together with Sen. Jim Inhofe and other conservative voices stood up to the EPA.” Clearly pandering to Firefighters. What about public sector pensions and unions – where is she on that issue?
What other conservative voices? Might they have been concerned politician from the other states that need and rely on this equipment?
To paint Fallin as some sort of white night in Satin is to do a disservice to Oklahomans who see through her incompetence.
If she has done so much for Oklahoma – perhaps a quick glance at what she has not done is in order. She has not seen fit to accept the Medicare Expansion which by all accounts would have brought jobs and money in to the state and helped preserve many of the rural hospitals that are now in jeopardy. She, along with her hand picked education cabal has done significant damage to our states education system. I could go to the ALEC model legislation page and quote book and verse regarding what we have seen happen.
The plain unadulterated truth is Mary Fallin and her cabal of state leadership including the speaker of the house right on down through her administrative staff have not had an original idea since she waltzed into office. Her cues come from out of state in the from of ALEC model agenda items which she and her minions shape and mold and then foist off on the good people of Oklahoma. Please note that the areas where she has either opposed a Federally proffered program or where she has worked to dismantle existing systems or programs have nothing to do with where she has supposedly shined like a star – a dark star. Every single aspect of this past 4 years has been spent on giving to business what could have gone toward assisting a very poor state.
She and her cronies like to complain about how the Federal government intrudes in the states business while at the very same time she and they do to us as they think is being done to them.
There is a new term for what needs to happen in November. Mike Workmann – Democratic candidate for Oklahoma Labor Commissioner has coined it. ‘Barresied’ – and it means being an incumbent finishing third in a primary for re-election.
This November Queen Mary the Fallen needs to be Barrisied.

Don Nelson

Posted in Don Nelson | Leave a comment