Left Justified: Labor’s Utopia

By Stanley Campbell

I remember reading Looking Back by Edward Belamy in high school. It was a Catholic high school, and the book told of a utopia where people worked as they wished, health was good and free, and everyone mainly had what they needed. It seemed possible, and had come about because the people finally said workers should share in the profits of their labor when they do a good job and help the capitalist make money. I thought it was possible, in my lifetime, to see that happen.

The Fair Deal of Franklin Roosevelt allowed for workers to organize themselves into unions to defend themselves from capitalists who themselves banded together into cartels. But we have not yet reached utopia. Maybe Sweden or Finland are getting close to that type of society, which realizes the time we have on this earth is the only true thing we own, so let’s make the best of it.

If you hire someone to do work for you, you are taking that person’s time as your own. I am giving my time to Rockford Urban Ministries, and they are giving me a salary and benefits. I admit I have a great job, and one that I love, and would probably do anyway. But at the end of my life, I won’t look back and worry that I didn’t spend enough time behind my desk. Workers should be fairly compensated, and the sooner we get the rest of the world to agree, we won’t have all these problems with immigration. People will be able to travel as capital is able to, across borders without opposition.

There should be a way to keep track of all the time we spend working for a company, and calculate the share of the profits, just like an investor, and reap the rewards, just like a stockholder.

Now, I digress…

As I’ve said before, our little peace group, as well as the fair-trade store JustGoods, will be selling stuff “On the Waterfront” from Friday to Sunday, Sept. 3-5. Rockford Area Lutheran Ministries let us use their office at 115 N. Wyman St., at the corner of State and Wyman (that’s in the storefronts of the Luther Center). We will display peace buttons, mission items from around the world, and politically correct fair-traded coffee and chocolate.

People have also donated CDs, DVDs, hats and neckties. And Dori Kearney, JustGoods store manager, promises some new items as well as the favorite chocolates and organic coffees. And I’ve invited political candidates to display some of their information.

You’ll have to look for us, the storefront is tucked away, and oftentimes there is a media tent set up right in front. We’ll try to stay open until 10 p.m. each evening. Folks have come to expect a “Peace Store” on the Waterfront, and we won’t disappoint them this year.

Stanley Campbell is executive director of Rockford Urban Ministries and spokesman for Rockford Peace & Justice.

From the Sept. 1-7, 2010 issue

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