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The Vital Importance of Strong Trade Unions

  Strong Trade Unions are Vital        Gerry OShea During my working years, I recall a female colleague named Catherine coming to my office on the verge of tears. I was taken aback to see her in such a vulnerable state because our relationship had never advanced beyond a professional acquaintance. She apologized for her surprise visit and her distressed state.  Really distraught, she started talking about her father who, at 71, had just taken a job filling shelves in a supermarket. This decision was driven solely by economic necessity because he could not cover his bills every month. Catherine opened up with her family story. She was the second of three daughters raised in the rent-controlled apartment in the East Bronx, where her father still lived. Her mother died eight years earlier after all three sisters finished college and moved away from home. She described her father as a determined, hard-working man who provided well for his family, including paying the tuition for al
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The Decline of Moderate Politics in America

  The Decline of Moderate Politics in America        Gerry OShea Aristotle, the renowned ancient Greek philosopher, counseled his followers that moderation should be their guiding principle in all deliberations. This advice is encapsulated in his famous Latin dictum: in medio stat virtus , meaning that wisdom and virtue are usually found by following a middle course, away from extremes. The history of American politics since the end of the Second World War affirms this perspective. With one exception, all presidents have been careful not to step far outside the mainstream of popular beliefs. Democrats favor imposing higher taxes on the wealthy and loosening the purse for anti-poverty and infrastructure programs, while Republicans always preach in favor of lower tax policies and fewer government regulations. There is no gainsaying that these important differences were argurd in every modern presidential race, but whichever candidate won, he understood that his opponents’ core beli

Propaganda in Ukraine and Dublin

  Propaganda in the Ukraine and Dublin    Gerry OShea In February 2022, when Putin launched the tyrannical invasion of Ukraine, strange tales of biological warfare began surging across the internet. Russian officials claimed a disturbing revelation for the world: American-funded Biolabs in Ukraine were conducting experiments with bat viruses. Furthermore, they said that U.S. officials had confessed to manipulating “dangerous pathogens.” This story was completely unfounded. It bore no relationship with reality and was repeatedly debunked, but unfortunately, it had legs. An American Twitter account with direct links to the QAnon conspiracy network began tweeting about the imaginary Biolabs, racking up thousands of retweets and eventually reaching over nine million viewers. A version of the story appeared on the Infowars website hosted by the since-discredited Alex Jones, last seen crying on air as he is compelled to part with over a billion dollars to the Sandy Hook families he l

The Changing Middle Class

  The Middle Class            Gerry OShea In the celebratory atmosphere that followed victory over the Nazis in World War 11, many scholars and commentators believed that America was best defined as a happy middle-class society. These terms never conveyed that meaning in the first century and a half after independence. The words designated only farmers, artisans, and merchants during those early years. President Biden preaches that his economic policies support upward movement for workers at the bottom and an expanded lifestyle for those in the middle. To achieve these progressive goals, he favors strong unions negotiating better deals for their members. Republicans still profess that the best economic way to help workers involves cutting individual and company taxes with a promise that the hoped-for resulting economic boom would trickle down to the workers on the lower rungs of the pecking order. This thinking comes under the umbrella of neoliberalism, which has been the preva

The November Presidential Election

  The November Election         Gerry OShea A chastening mood pervades the Democratic Party as they plan for the crucial presidential election in November. By most measurements, the economy, still the most trenchant issue for voters, is strong, but current polls in nearly all the swing states show Donald Trump leading by a few percentage points. Unemployment numbers are the lowest for sixty years, with a massive increase of over fifteen million jobs under Biden. During Trump's four years in the Oval Office, 1.9 million   wage earners were made redundant. This massive turnaround cannot be attributed to happenstance, but the polls suggest that the millions of workers who benefited are not inclined to show their appreciation in November. President Biden regularly proclaims that his definition of a vibrant economy must, in his words, help people at the bottom move up and those in the middle to expand outwards.   Workers’ standard of living has improved since the new administrat

Americanism and the Catholic Church

  Americanism and the Catholic Church          Gerry OShea The major conflict that rocked the Catholic community in the United States in the 1880s and 1890s was known as Americanism, and it resembles, in important ways, the current crisis in the church. The central issue in the 19th-century controversy dealt with the strained relationship between the Vatican and some top representatives of the Church in the United States—a conflict that also applies in our time. Americanism is associated with Isaac Hecker, who was born in New York in 1819, the son of Protestant German immigrants. He converted to Catholicism and later trained for the priesthood with the Redemptorist order. A few years after ordination, with four other priests from the same group and with the pope’s approval, he founded a new religious order that became widely known and respected as Paulists, with headquarters, then and now, in Manhattan. Hecker believed that the true Catholic ethos stressed the importance of commu

St. Joseph's Industrial School

The Tralee Industrial School        Gerry OShea On May 4 th of this year, the Mayor of Kerry, Terry O’Brien, unveiled a memorial plaque in Tralee recognizing the location of St. Joseph’s Industrial School. The poignant inscription reads: “To acknowledge the children who passed through the doors of St. Joseph’s Industrial School between 1871 and 1970.”   Their best-known graduate, Michael Clemenger, who was there for eight years from 1959, was pleased by Mayor O’Brien’s decision to unveil the memorial because he feared that, otherwise, all the boys who were forcibly kept there would be forgotten about as if St. Joseph’s never existed. Mr. Clemenger, an orphan, wrote a memoir starting with his early treatment by uncaring nuns in Dublin before being moved to Tralee in 1959. This book, which was published by O’Brien Press, deals with the outlandish behavior of many of the Brothers who treated the boys in their care using excessive physical punishments while keeping them on near-star