Friday, January 30, 2009

Two days ago, women; today, labor unions, the middle class, and the poor

U.S. President Barack Obama shakes hands after signing an executive order at the Middle Class Working Families Task Force event in the East Room of the White House in Washington, January 30, 2009. Photo: Larry Downing, Reuters.

It really is a new presidential era. Today President Obama signed executive orders that, in his words, "level the playing field" and do not view unions as an evil force in U.S. society. He also spoke of the poor and not just the middle class; as you may recall the poor were largely invisible in election campaign rhetoric.

For this, for the President's action yesterday signing the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act into law, and for yesterday's denouncing of huge bonuses to Wall Street executives, many of us are thankful. And, make no mistake, many will be angry. I don't mean to go all Manichean on you, but the opposition to this is not going to be pretty.

So, I rejoice, and I pray.

And I pray that those of us who, moved by our faith, our humanism, our experience, or our principles, support the rights of workers to organize, the dignity of the most poor, the equality of women and men, and fairness in finance, will be active as citizens.

Below, because we like him, Vice-President Joe Biden. He will head White House Task Force on Middle Class Working Families . Photo: Ron Edmonds, AP.

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