Thursday, May 14, 2009

A proportional response

Mongol General: Conan! What is best in life?
Conan: To crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentation of their women.
Mongol General: That is good! That is good.

Al Capone: I want you to get this fuck where he breathes! I want you to find this nancy-boy Eliot Ness, I want him DEAD! I want his family DEAD! I want his house burned to the GROUND! I wanna go there in the middle of the night and I wanna PISS ON HIS ASHES!

Premier Danny Williams: We would legislate them back on the template, which is exactly what we've offered to over 30,000 other public servants...So, there'll be no standby increase, there'll be no shift differential increase, there'll be no educational leave. There will be no additional steps for nurses coming into the system, and there'll be no additional steps for nurses that are already in the system.

So, Happy National Nurses Week, by the way. The premier sends hugs and kisses.

I swear to God, I try to say something nice and the provincial government and this is what I get. I said earlier there was no way the nurses could win this and they had been out-maneuvered. But I guess I underestimated the premier's ability to completely lose his mind anytime someone or some group defies his will.

It's work to rule, you silly bastard. It was the very least they were going to do. It was practically a face saving measure. They don't want to do a full strike because, up until yesterday, they would have lost the public relations battle in the dispute. Instead, the premier comes down on them like the wrath of God (or a cranky gang lord or surly barbarian) and threatens all manner of punishment.

There's an episode early in the first season of The West Wing where President Bartlett is trying to figure out what the merits are of a proportional response when the US is hit with a terrorist attack. He's not entirely convinced of the wisdom of it, even at the end of the episode, but accepts that's the reality of the world and what needs to be done.

A proportionate response to the nurses saying "we're going to refuse overtime and work to rule" isn't "fuck you, we're going to roll everything back we've offered and make you regret you ever thought about becoming a nurse."

Dear God. It looks and sounds awful. It doesn't sound like a premier taking a strong bargaining position and defending the electorate against an unreasonable union. It sounds more like a ranting bully.

How about something more like this:

"Well, it's unfortunate that the nurses are choosing to do this. The deal before them is more than fair, especially in these challenging economic times. Plus, we think there is a real chance with this agreement to address some of the nursing shortages which concern everybody. They are certainly within their rights to take this action. However, I think as Newfoundlanders and Labradorians learn more about what we're offering and the risks being taking with their health and safety, nurses may regret taking this course of action."

And that's a first draft off the top of my head. It could certainly be polished up more to get the point home - that nurses can do this, but how much sympathy are they going to get from the general public? Honestly, they probably were not going to get vast waves of it.

But now, well, the premier is threatening to get medieval on their asses and the open lines and internet message boards are lighting up with sympathy for the nurses in the face of the premier's bullying. So yeah, maybe a strike is back on the table now.

Smooth, Mr. Premier. Very smooth...

Last Five
1. Me just purely - Brendan Benson
2. Gypsy biker - Bruce Springsteen
3. Don't go there - Neil Diamond
4. Failing the Rorschach test - Matthew Good Band
5. Book of love - Peter Gabriel*


Newfie Nurse said...

Well,glad I saved the rant I was gonna post a few days ago. I have to say you had me pissed off. I know we may still lose everything that was offered but seeing danny and his puppet be blindsided was worth it.he's got his knickers in a knot And at the end of the day when the contract is pushed down our throats, at least I can say I stood up for what I believed in.

babe in boyland said...

sorry, townie bastard, but williams and some of the general public believe that nurses give up their human rights when they get into the profession. we need them badly, so we can't take the risk of them being independent - we make them our slaves, with no right to personal lives or personal time. it's unfortunate, but - hey - we come first, right?

and in an interesting but completely predictable step in positioning nurses as slaves (that is, less than human, because you can't enslave PEOPLE of course), some public comment is distancing nurses from the rest of us. they take more sick time. they see themselves as better than the rest of us, deserving more than the rest of us. they don't care about human suffering the way we do - they just want to make money off it.

good god, this is WAY too much like what happens when ANY group marginalizes, vilifies and dehumanizes a portion of the population who they need as slaves or to take their goods. its what happened with the jews in europe, with the blacks taken to the new world and the irish driven off their land by the british and starved to death.

the germans, the plantation owners and the british NEEDED those people or their stuff to restore economic health in their areas. so the people in question had their human rights taken away. and to make that acceptible, they were marginalized and vilified as "not like the rest of us - in a bad way" and as not caring about the rest of us or trying to victimize US somehow.

i know, i know. the holocaust and slavery argument is extreme. williams is not hitler or some fat plantation owner. the nurses haven't been bought on an auction block or stuck in a concentration camp (although an ER where a nurse has to work 20 hours out of 24 seems scarily like Auschwitz - arbeit macht frei). but it comes from the same impulse, one that does us no credit as humans.

THAT's the part of this public conflict that i really hate

WJM said...

It sounds more like a ranting bully.

Because it is.

The same ranting bully that has been ranting and bullying on the political scene since 2001, and from the Eighth Floor since 2003.

Is this what it's finally going to take to have more than a sliver of the population see through the ranting and the bullying?

This is the tip of a very, very, VERY large iceberg.