Clamor at the Table Ė July 12, 2003
by Foster Dickson
(February 15th, 2004)

One day, in í83, my father came home early,
and he never ever came home early,
but that day my father came home early
and said, I donít have a job right now.
I wondered what that meant for us.
The sadness was clearly there for us as we
clamored at our table,
because this union doesnít pay strike wages.
So the rich men from the union office
and the men from the company office,
who were still getting their own paychecks,
clamored at the table
about what was fair for men like my father.

Another day, my father looked angry
and he told me he didnít get a pay raise
but he thought that heíd earned one,
and he had gotten the company papers
that told him about how the rich men who
clamored at the table
had also not had raises, but got a bonus
that totaled more than all of his paychecks
and everyone elseís he knew and worked with,
and that just one man on this Board who
clamored at the table
had gotten that much. Things Iíd never heard of.

And that story rang so true and familiar
in 2003, when a big airline company
asked their workers to take pay cuts
and the workers replied, Yes, we will,
if itís what it takes to keep things running.
And then they found out that the men who
clamored at the table
had taken big bonuses and no pay cut at all.
The workers got angry, and demanded
a re-vote and they got one. I thought about
my father and that story he had told me.

Theyíre everywhere, these businessmen who
clamor at the table
are everywhere, in every country, every city.

And the stories are endless about men who
clamor at the table
about who to kill, feed, remove, punish,
let go, enrich, and itís usually themselves
when itís time to enrich somebody.

And when huge corporations go bankrupt,
after selling their own workers
on company stock for their retirements,
and when the stock comes up worthless,
these workers are unemployed, broke and
ready to rest but they canít. So men
clamor at the table
about who should be punished then
somebody is and they live better in prison
than the workers they cheated so badly.
And the workers are still unemployed, broke and
ready to rest, but they canít because the
clamoring at the table
didnít amount to much when itís all done.

And that same thing happens over and over,
when accountants, CFOs, and their clerks
clamor at tables
to make piles of money look like bigger piles
with lies and tricks. So then other men
clamor at tables
about who ought to be punished and
a few people are, here and there, but
no one ever pays back those who lost out.

In case, no one noticed: bill collectors
donít accept ideas and excuses as payments.
The talk about who ought to get what
doesnít help people it ought to be helping.
The special counsels and committees can
clamor at the table
then smile for the cameras all they want,
but it doesnít actually amount to much.

My father told me about an old saying
when I was a boy and cried from want:
want in one hand and shit in the other
then see which of my hands holds more.
Lots of people in this nation America want
fairness and the ability to earn a good living
and donít get it.