Which Side Are You On? (Happy Labor Day!)

I was introduced to the Florence Reece's song "Which Side Are You On?" by Pete Seeger's rendition of the song. I love Pete's version. It is a haunting song in many ways.I recently came across Natalie Merchant's cover of "Which Side Are You On?" It is equally haunting and beautiful.Back in May, I wrote about officially joining a union.Which side are you on?Author's Note: This is a modified re-post of a post I did on May 1 2013. … [Read more...]

“Picture yourself after an all-nighter. Being poor is like that every day.”

Yesterday, I read a comment from a doctor who said that people living on minimum wage would not need to worry about the minimum wage if they had worked hard like he had and had gotten a good education. One specific thing he said was that they should "...study and educate yourself, and the world will pay you what it thinks your worth." You know, because doctors are worth a lot. Fast food workers are not.Then I discovered that he isn't even a real doctor. So apparently his value is just in … [Read more...]

Who Are We Talking About, When We Talk About the Minimum Wage?

It may not be who you think.From the Economic Policy Institute:The minimum wage is not a silver bullet for poverty or economic inequality. However, it is something concrete that Congress can address now. … [Read more...]

Holy Ghost of Tom Joad (Hymns of Social Justice)

I love The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck. When I taught American Heritage at BYU and BYU-Idaho, I enjoyed showing the movie version.The Grapes of Wrath is a very important work of literature within the American social justice tradition. The film, and the book even more so, strongly portrays the devastating impact of poverty and larger economic depressions on both individuals and families. It also masterfully depicts the concepts of alienation and exploitation.Near the end of the … [Read more...]

Pope Francis? Or should we just call him Pope Social Justice?!?!

I am totally loving Pope Francis so far. I am not Catholic. I am sure we disagree on quite a few social and theological matters. Heck, I seem to disagree with pretty much everyone on a range of things these days.Not only is Pope Francis hitting social justice themes with regularity, he is going out amongst the people with a manner that exudes humility and meekness.The Washington Post reported the following about his current visit to Rio:Francis has become known as the “slum pope,” not … [Read more...]

“I Don’t Mind Stealing Bread…” Remembering Mitch Snyder (Hymns of Social Justice)

"Hunger Strike" by Temple of the Dog brings us a duet by Pearl Jam's Eddie Vedder and Soundgarden's Chris Cornell. The band is largely the line-up which we better recognize as Pearl Jam, including Jeff Ament, Stone Gossard, Mike McCready, and Matt Cameron.Maybe it is just the vocal power Vedder and Cornell combined, but few songs strike me more emotionally in the way the "Hunger Strike" does.The image of the hunger strike in this song reminds my of DC-area homeless activist Mitch … [Read more...]

“Who Cares Wins” by Anthrax (Hymns of Social Justice)

With the first installment of Hymns of Social Justice coming from Emmylou Harris, I wanted to follow that up with a heavy metal selection."Who Cares Wins" by Anthrax addresses homelessness in the late 1980s. It is gives particular attention to the way in which our society de-humanizes the homeless. The "State of Euphoria" album was a favorite of mine back in the sixth grade...but the social justice message of this song was lost on me until I re-discovered it in more recent years. The video … [Read more...]