Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Musing about the Future, Part I

I have been doing a lot of thinking and writing about the future. Between lectures for my on-line environmental sociology class, and comments to various blogs (including my own) I've been developing some thoughts about where we are heading, and what we might do about it.

I got started down this road by a post by "Progressive" Forwardly Thinking: New Progressive Politics got me to thinking about the future. The essence of the Forward Thinking post and the document "The Death of Environmentalism" by Shellenberger and Nordhaus, that it links to, is that the political techniques and strategies that produced the environmental legislation of the past in the U.S. are not working, and will not work, to deal with the environmental crisis of global warming. This is a very thoughtful document and provides a good overview of environmental politics for the last 50 years, and some good thoughts on why the political techniques that were so successful in the 1960's and 1970's fail when confronted by climate change issues. ideas presented for future political action are well thought out, and have potential. Shellenberger and Nordhaus argue that environmentalists have to stop being a "special interest" and "start framing our proposals around core American values and start seeing our own values as central to what motivates and guides our politics."
It is hard not to agree with everything Shellenberger and Nordhaus have to say. Environmentalists do need to do some visioning for the future. We do need to clarify our values, and work consistently from those values, tying our political efforts to those values. We do need to have a proactive approach, talking about the positives (what are the new industries and new jobs that will be created), rather than the negatives (what jobs and industries will decline). However, even if environmentalists were successful in doing all these things, we would not have the same kinds of success that conservative "values" voters have, for one very simple reason. The value issues of conservatives (pro-family--traditional two parent, husband headed families, anti-abortion, anti-homosexual, prayer in school, Ten Commandments in the Courthouse, smaller government, lower taxes agendas) either have no impact or a positive impact on the profit margin of corporations. These values and the policies they spawn either are irrelevant the operation of a capitalist economy or they support the accumulation of capital. While there are some economic activities that would benefit from an environmental values agenda, environmental values (and other liberal values such as national health care) run strongly counter to the profit interests of the vast majority of existing capitalist businesses that currently exist in this country. One can argue all one wishes that new investment and profit making opportunities will be created (which of course they will be), but those don't exist yet. Those opportunities haven't made anyone any money yet, and the things that are making people money now, are threatened by the changes for which environmentalists are asking. One can also argue that failure to change will cost business more later on than change now will cost, but as I will discuss below that is not convincing argument.

It is too late to prevent climate change. Climate change has already happened, and because the effect of human additions to the atmosphere are cumulative even if we were able to make immediate changes climate change would continue to occur as the result of our past activities. Several experts in the field of climatology have argued that we have about a ten year window (see interview with James Hansen) during which we could limit how much change, and therefore how much damage, occurs, but making significant changes in human affects on the atmosphere. While there is certainly debate over the correctness of this ten year estimate, there is little question that the time to make changes is fairly short. Moreover the changes required are large -- significant reductions in our CO2, methane and nitrous oxide emissions. Reductions of this magnitude will require: significant changes in the way we do business, live, work, and travel; political action to change laws and government policies; organizational change; and change in attitudes and values of ordinary people.

Compared to other industrialized nations, the economy of the United States falls to the most extreme end of the capitalist continuum, with the greatest amount of private ownership. Capitalist considerations of profit dominate all sectors of the American economy, including transportation, electricity generation, and other energy areas, while in Europe many of these key sectors have substantial government ownership.

The U. S. political system also differs substantially for other democracies. Most other world democracies have parliamentary systems. G. William Domhoff in his classic Who Rules America? has made a cogent argument for why the American "winner take all" electoral process creates large brokerage political parties that must attempt to appeal to the broadest segment of the population. It is this structure, Domhoff argues that makes the "special interest" process flourish through lobbying and campaign contributions, and makes it difficult (but not impossible as the religious right has demonstrated, see "The Death of Environmentalism" referenced above) for broader values agendas for change to take root.

Parliamentary systems, compared to the U.S. system, are less dependent upon financial contributions to elections, and are less susceptible to the influence of lobbying. In the U. S. monetary contributions are a huge consideration in elections, and even more important in funding permanent lobbying activities. The entrenched power of the businesses, industries and groups with a lot of money at stake: they are willing to spend a lot to avoid change. Groups opposing the concept of anthropogenic global warming (AGW) are often funded heavily by energy industries (oil, coal) and transportation industry (automotive).

Profit motive is a major cause of opposition to the idea of anthropogenic global warming (AGW). major industries, as energy, transportation, chemical industries benefit from existing arrangements – there is a lot of profit to be made from continuing business as usual. Costs of
change are very high in some industries and businesses. Some would have to disappear entirely or be scaled back dramatically (e.g. coal mining). Workers in these industries, and their unions when the exist, also join in the opposition to making changes to combat global warming. Proponents for significant change to address AGW correctly point out that many new industries
and new jobs will be created in "green" industries. However, our national experience with
transformation of our economy from industrial sector to service sector over the past 35 years has shown us that any kind of significant change in the economy always result in economic hardship for some and economic opportunity for others. Thus change is understandably feared by many whose livelihood depends upon carbon intensive activities.

Taking the sociological approach which looks at issues of the environment and society holistically, leads us to the awareness that our entire culture and patterns of social life, have been shaped by an economy dependent upon growth and consumption. Our communities, our homes, how we connect to school, work, home, recreation and worship are all shaped to some extent by our capitalistic industrial economy. Moreover the existing structure of inequality and economic opportunity makes it more difficult for some people to change. The location of work places in relationship to housing that working and middle class people can afford, and the lack of public transportation system often leave these classes with few options to reduce the use of private vehicles. Among affluent upper middle class families who could afford $300,000 and up urban condos near their places of work, considerations of the present conditions in central city school systems often inhibit them from moving their families out of the suburbs.

To simply label those who resist dramatic and potentially painful changes in their life style as lazy or ignorant is overly simplistic. To prevent the most extreme climate change, requires changes that are likely to have far reaching, disruptive effects on citizens and businesses of our advanced capitalist countries. Resistance to such change is to be expected. However, if "business as usual" continues, the long term disruptive effects of unabated climate change will be far greater,with more suffering. Getting this message across is hampered by several things.

First, the most devastating effects of climate change will not occur for another 50 to 100 years. Human beings as a species are not long term planners. We do fairly well in planning a year in advance (save those seeds for next spring's planting, put aside those skins for next winter's cold weather). Certainly we have evidence in existing buildings and archaeological finds that shows planning for construction projects that last a lifetime (from pyramids to Gothic cathedrals). There have been many individuals with long range vision, but collectively, human societies have not done well with long range planning. Those human societies that manage to continue to exist for thousands of years in balance with their environment (foragers and horticulturalists) do not engage in long run planning, but rather focus on yearly cycles in ways that have long run benefits.

Our modern society is not organized around long term planning. Capitalist businesses are geared towards the profit of the current or next quarter. Most business plans one year ahead. While farsighted individuals and companies do exist they are not the norm. This is not a failure of individuals, but a failure of structure. Businesses must be concerned about investors. Investors who are constantly making decisions about buying and selling based on current levels of profit and near term returns, not what might be promised for twenty or thirty years down the road.

Political decision-makers also, have a short horizon. Most are geared towards winning the next election. Again, this is not a failure of individuals so much as a structural defect in the political process. Even when a given negative future outcome is well established and relative near term (the disappearance of the social security surplus by 2035) legislators find it difficult to make decisions that will benefit people 30 years in the future, but will cost people in the next year -- especially that will cost people who might well vote against them for the decision.

Second, the uncertainty of predictions for specific consequences in specific places(where will there be more rain and where will there be less rain) have made it easier for people to resist acting. Moreover, there is no question that some regions and some countries may benefit from global warming. During September when the extent of Arctic ice was at its all time measured minimum, the fabled "northwest passage" or water way along the northern coast of Canada was ice free and readily navigable. Both the Canadian government and the Russian government see potential gain in a permanent reduction of Arctic Sea ice. It opens up the possibility of cheaper ocean transport that is far shorter than a trip through the Panama Canal, and it opens up the Arctic Ocean to oil and gas exploitation. Russian submarines have taken advantage of the declining and thinning ice to plant a Russian "flag" beneath the ice at the North Pole, hoping to stake a claim to the rich energy resources that lie beneath the ocean surface. Lack of certainty about who will suffer and who will benefit increases resistance to change.

Third climate change is an international problem. All nations must participate. While the United States is currently the largest producer of greenhouse gases, developing nations like China and India are increasing their emissions contribution at a much faster rate and will soon over take the U.S. in absolute terms. Cooperation between nations is required. Developed nations need to help underdeveloped nations jump to cleaner technologies .Developing nations need to protect forests and they need financial assistance to find economic alternatives. So far international cooperation has been negligible.

This does not mean that we should give up and wash our hands of the whole affair. As I will discuss in another post, another day, even small changes can be important for our future.

Please see Forwardly Thinking for a very thoughtful response to this essay!

Saturday, October 20, 2007

What is at stake

The folks at Blogger have compiled a list of exceptional environmental blogs in the wake of the Blog Action Day on the environment. You can see the full list at one of the named blogs The Conscious Earth. Many on the list were already familiar to me, but one that was new to me was Earth Meanders a blog by Dr. Glen Barry a conservation biologist and political ecologist who is eloquent and passionate on the environmental disasters that modern society is creating.

I agree with Barry's assessment of the dire environmental consequences of modern civilizations current economic and social choices. We are indeed going to ecological-hell-in-a-handbasket and taking uncountable species down with us. But is the "earth" dying as a result of our actions, as Barry claims? I think not. Oh, I think we humans are capable of destroying "the earth" -- we have enough nuclear weapons stockpiled, which if strategically placed and detonated all at once might create forces capable of causing the earth to break up and become a new asteroid belt, or destabilize earth's orbit and send us out careening into the sun, or spinning out in to the cold blackness (yeah, I did love Space 1999). But to accomplish that would require a level of international organization and cooperation that humans have never shown any indication we possess.

Let me clarify. The planet Earth and life (any kind of life) on planet earth, is extraordinarily resilient, and has withstood destructive forces far greater than those currently commanded by human societies. The natural destructive forces of the earth are such that no trace exists of the original earth's surface from four and a half billion years ago. The oldest rock identified on the surface of the earth is just under four billion years old, some grains of zircon have been discovered that have been dated to 4.2 to 4.3 billion years ago. Since that time the planet's surface has been made and remade, abducted and subducted, and moved about over and over again. There have been periods of time vastly warmer than our man-made global warming is likely to create in the next few hundred years, and periods of time colder than the last ice age during which humans evolved.

The first evidence of life on earth dates to three and a half to possibly 3.8 billion years ago -- meaning that planet earth existed for nearly billion years before there was life. There may have been life before that, but we have no evidence because no trace of the earth's surface older than 3.9 million years ago exists. The oldest fossils are 3.5 billion years old.

This three and a half billion year record of fossils tells us a story of change and extinction, new species, growth, change and new extinctions. During this incomprehensibly long period of time, continents rose and crashed into each other and were torn apart, by unfathomable tectonic forces. To quote from one of my favorite books (J. D. MacDougall A Short History of Planet Earth, John Wiley and Sons, 1996):
"Throughout the earth's history species and families have arisen, prevailed for a time, and then disappeared. But at times, for reasons not wholly understood, rapid and wholesale destruction of large fractions of the plant and animal kingdoms has occurred. Usually, after these crises, there was a rapid proliferation of new and sometimes quite different species. Such abrupt changes in floral and faunal assemblages are reflected in the fossil record. It is only quite recently that geologists have begun to examine these mass extinctions in terms of periodic catastrophes such as the collision of comets or asteroids with the earth, or dramatic changes in the global climate."
Let us be honest. Planet earth, and life on planet earth are not at stake. Earth is not dying, life will not cease to exist as the result of human action.

What is at stake is human life and human civilization, and the life of species of plant and animal that sustain human ecosystem ecosystems. We can't destroy the earth, and we can't destroy life on earth, but we sure as hell can destroy ourselves and most of the species we rely upon for our lives. Moreover, anthropogenic climate change, pollution and all the other environmental problems spawned by modern society, will first and foremost kill societies long before impacting the presence of the human race. I'm a Jew, so the New Testament is not one of my religious books, but I've been thinking quite a bit about Jesus' Sermon on the Mount in which he say "blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth." It occurs to me that this might end up being literally true -- if one defines "meek" as those simple societies where people live in small bands or tribal groups subsisting by foraging or horticulture (farming with hand tools).

Talking about killing Earth, is not only hyperbole, it is counter productive. What we want is to change human behavior, especially the behavior of those who are rich enough and powerful enough to determine the direction of business and industry, and national policy. At a secondary level we want to change the behavior of millions of consumers in affluent, industrial nations. Most people, including those whose behavior need to change, operate most of the time out of self-interest. Talking to them about a dying earth isn't going to change their behavior. Appealing to their altruism for other species is not going to change their behavior. Making poster children of polar bears is not going to change their behavior. But possibly change will occur if we can get the message through to the rich and powerful that the complex society on which their profits depend is at risk (notice that at least some of the oil companies have figured out that the future of profit is in renewables); and the message to the average consumer that the food and beer will disappear from their local grocery shelves, and the gas for their ATV's will be gone, and the nice cushy life they value is endangered.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Urban Water Supplies and Mountain Top Removal

Monday October 15, 2007 is Blog Action Day on the Environment. Bloggers all over the world are all writing and posting today on one issue - the environment. That's a pretty big, and varied topic.

One environmental issue on the minds of millions of people in the U.S. southeast is water. The drought monitor report released Thursday October 11, by NOAA, shows that 59 percent of the contiguous U.S. (the "lower 48") has some degree of drought. Three and a half percent of the contiguous U.S. suffers from "exceptional drought" meaning that the rainfall deficit is greater than ever recorded. The area of exceptional drought spread from my own region of eastern Kentucky southward through most of Tennessee, parts of North Carolina, northern Georgia, and most of Alabama. These exceptional drought conditions are creating severe water shortages for many municipalities within the region, including major metropolitan areas like Atlanta, Georgia and Lexington, Kentucky.

Lexington, Kentucky a city of a quarter-million, sits at the center of a five county Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) includes Bourbon, Clark, Fayette, Jessamine, Scott, and Woodford counties that has a population of nearly a half million. Municipal water for Lexington is drawn from the dammed pools on the Kentucky River, rather than from reservoirs. So Lexington is utterly dependent on the flow of water from Eastern Kentucky where the Kentucky river originates.

The exceptional drought has affected that flow of water in the Kentucky river. The drought owes its existence to a confluence of global climate factors, including global warming, and the La Nina event in the southern Pacific. But something else, closer at hand, and which we have more control over also impacts the flow of water into the Kentucky River -- strip-mining, and especially mountain top removal mining.

Friday October 12 Lexington Herald-Leader had an interesting juxtaposition of two articles on page B6-- one on the water restrictions imposed in Lexington, the other just below it about protests against the valley fills that inevitably accompany mountain top removal mining. I'd like to think that someone in the Lexington-Herald Leader composing room knew what they were doing, and put these stories together on purpose, because they certainly are connected.

Mountain top removal strip-mining, which does exactly what it sounds like, can only occur because of exemptions given to existing laws designed to protect water flows. The twenty year old rules restrict mining near streams, but exemptions have been made to allow "valley fills" of rubble taken off mountain top mine sites that affect seasonal and ephemeral streams. According to the Office of Surface Mining (OSM) surface mining permits from October 2001 to June 2005 affected 367 miles of streams in the Appalachian coalfields.

Mountain top removal strip-mining and "valley fills" affect the amount and flow of water in rivers like the Kentucky and the availability availability of urban water supplies in two ways.

First, mountain top removal like all strip-mining denudes the mountainsides of trees and shrubbery. Even when reclamation is done (often many years after the initial removal of vegetation) the site is compacted and covered with grass, not trees. The loss of forest has dramatic consequences for the flow of water. Forests moderate the effect of heavy rains, acting like sponges that absorb the brunt of the rain, and then slowly release the water over days and even weeks, preventing local flooding and providing long term rises in downstream river flow. Rain flows instantly off the treeless mountainsides and swells creeks and streams creating first flash flooding in the mountains, and then huge "slugs" of water that move downstream all at one time. Only a small portion of such slugs can be captured by dams and urban water systems, the rest passes on downstream.

Second, the "valley fills" of mountain top removal cover existing stream beds and water courses. When rain comes, water rushing off the bald mountain sides finds new channels, which may not lead to the streams that feed the Kentucky River. Rain runoff that should be going to feeding the creeks that feed the streams that feed the river, that supplies the drinking water downstream, end up going off in new directions and creating flooding conditions locally.

Now the U. S. Office of Surface Mining is proposing a permanent change to the rules that would relax the rules regarding mining near bodies of water. The new regulations would allow mining that alters stream flows. Special exemptions would no longer have to be sought.

The Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement will be holding hearings on the rule change October 24, in Hazard, Kentucky, Charleston, West Virginia, Knoxville, Tennessee, and Washington, Pennsylvania. There is the tendency for urban folk to considerr issues like mountain top removal of little relevance to themselves. They don't have to watch the hills around their homes be destroyed, be rocked by daily blasting, or live with the noise and dust of the mining. (Photo shows the mountain top removal strip mine that is within 2500 feet of my home). It is time that residents of the cities downstream from the coalfields, like Lexington, recognize that what happens in the mountains is of crucial importance to them. The future of their water supply is at risk.

For more information about Mountain Top Removal in my area, and links to action sites visit: Mountain Top Removal Page

Thursday, October 11, 2007

The Deniers Step Up the Campaign

Got a fascinating piece of mail at work today, inviting me to sign a petition urging "the United States government to reject the global warming agreement that was written in Kyoto, Japan." The petition card further went on to say that "There is no convincing evidence that human release of carbon dioxide, methane, or other greenhouse gases is causing or will, int he foreseeable future , cause catastrophic heating of the Earth's atmosphere and disruption of the Earth's climate." There's more but I think that's enough for you to get the picture.

The most interesting thing about the petition card, that one is suppose to sign and return if one agrees with the sentiment [which of course I do not], is that it specifically requests the signer to indicated whether they have a B.S., M.S. or Ph.D. degree, and in what field. They are obviously not picky about what field, since the envelop was addressed erroneously to me in the "Communications/Humanities/Fine Arts Division" (I'm in the Social Sciences Division). So they presumably don't care whether their signers are scientists or not.

The thickly stuffed envelop has a cryptic return address of GWPP (which is not explained anywhere in the materials), at a Post Office box in La Jolla, California. In addition to the petition card, the envelop contains a brief note from Frederick Seitz a past president of the National Academy of Sciences. The note appeals to me as a "citizen" who has "the training necessary to evaluate the relevant data and offer sound advice." Remember the senders thought I was faculty in Communications/Humanities/Fine Arts! I am also invited to request more petition cards to share with my colleagues.

More interesting than the note, is the copy of The Wall Street Journal article from 2000 by Arthur B. Robinson and Noah E. Robinson, (Chemists at the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine), and the 12 page, glossy, three-three color reprint of an article from the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons, 2007 by both Robinsons and a Willie Soon, replete with many, many charts and graphs.

Like many such pieces there is a certain amount of schizophrenia -- the first chart, of the surface temperature of the Sargasso sea going back to 1000 BCE, purports to demonstrate that there really isn't any global warming. The temperature for 2006 is show as being right at the 3000 year average, with many warmer periods (including the "Medieval Climate Optimum" about 1100 CE). This is right next to a chart that shows that there is global warming in the Arctic, but purports to show that the warming follows the pattern of solar activity and not the pattern of hydrocarbon use (primary source of atmospheric carbon dioxide). [The solar activity hypothesis has recently been undermined by research] The rest of the article progressing the same way jumping between "it's not really warming" claims, to "it is warming, but we're not doing it." I saw nothing in this piece that is not satisfactorily dealt with by global warming science -- see the wonderful summary of arguments and counter arguments at: The Gristmill.

For more about this mailing see: "Oregon Institute of Science and Malarkey" at RealClimate Blog.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Lying about Iran, Lying about America

The Brittanic Blog, has done an admirable job this week of providing a forum in which a diversity of views about Iran and U.S. interests in Iran could be aired. However, the majority of the pieces in this forum, support the view that military engagement with Iran is unwarranted, unneccessary and/or would have disasterous consequences. Pieces by Barbara Slavin, Steven Kinzer, Ervand Abrahamian, and three articles by Scott Ritter (Chief weapons inspector for the United Nations Special Commission in Iraq) provide very thoughtful reading.

One of the articles in the group, by Mitchell Bard, was riddled with inaccuracies -- most of which are pointed out by various commentors on the piece. In the article Bard made the claim that "Americans are not averse to using force against Iran. Though nonmilitary options are preferred by most, majorities are also starting to favor targeted strikes according to a survey by The Israel Project in September 2006." Given the current American view on Iraq, I found Bard's claim difficult to accept.

On the day the post was made (Monday 10/8/07) the reference to the Israel Project survey included a link -- one presumed -- to the research that supported Bard's contention. I followed the link, and found that the research it pointed to was NOT a survey of American public opinion. It was a survey of 500 "opinion elites," who had a minimum of a college education (and many of whom had post-graduate degrees), and who had a minimum household income of $75,000. Given that the 2006 median income in the United States was $48,201, and that more than two-thirds of American households fall below $75,000, to use this data to state anything at all about "American" opinion is at best disingenuous.

So I posted a comment to the Brittanica Blog, noting the information given above. Within twenty-four hours I received a personal (not automated) e-mail from the moderator of the Brittanica, telling me that he believed that Bard had merely given an incorrect link, and that this would be corrected and he would let me know the outcome. My comment was NOT posted to replies. Today (Wed. 10/10/07), I went back to see if either my comment had been posted or a corrected link had been posted.

What I found was that Bard had "corrected" the link by removing it altogether, and, as might be expected my comment had not appeared. I am left to conclude that Mitchell Bard does not wish for his readers to be able to check his source and discover that he does not have support for his claims about "American opinion." More lies.

I have submitted yet another comment to Brittanica Blog pointing out all this. I shall be surprised if they post this one.
[Fri. 10/12/07 -- to Brittanica Blog's credit my comment did get posted.]

Friday, October 05, 2007

Treatment of Nurses Supports Social Conflict Theory

I have a deep rooted respect for nurses. Three of my father's sisters were nurses. They provided frontier (horseback) nursing services in Appalachia, served as military nurses in World War II, and in civilian hospitals for decades after the war. In my generation on my father's side both of my female cousins became nurses.

Nurses form the first line of defense in our health care system. When we visit the doctor's office a nurse is the first health care practitioner we meet, and often the one that interacts with us the most. When we enter the hospital the majority of our care comes from nurses.

The training for nurses is challenging and demanding. I know because I observe it happening in my own college. Not everyone has the intellectual ability or the emotional stamina to become a nurse.

There is a documented shortage of nurses in this country. One that gets worse with each passing year.

So we have an occupation that provides an extremely important, valuable service (function) for society, which also requires extensive training that not just anyone can do, and there is a demonstrable shortage in this valued occupation. Structural-functional theory in sociology (Davis and Moore "Some Principles of Stratification") would suggest that nursing should be a highly rewarded (both in monetary terms and in a wide range of benefits), and highly regarded occupation. If structural-functional theory were correct, nurses should be able to write their own ticket when it came to pay and working conditions.

Not being a big fan of structural-functional theory, it doesn't surprise me that the theory fails to accurately reflect the real world treatment of nurses.

This week, in the Appalachian region, more than 650 registered nurses in the Appalachian Regional Healthcare System are on strike when their contract ended and negotiations failed to produce a new contract. While pay is an issue in the contract dispute (the offered 2% raise would be entirely swallowed up by increased cost of health insurance and decreases in holiday pay), the nurses greater focus is on the issues of benefits and staffing/work schedules.

The new contract ARH put forward, offered the nurses "flexible" scheduling -- it offered the the choice (!!??) of 10 hour shifts or 12 hour shifts. ARH nurses are required to work overtime, every week. Overtime is a mandatory condition of all ARH nursing positions.

The practical result makes it common for the actual nurses shift to be 15 hours, and 24 hour shifts happen all too often. Not only are nurses stretched thin in overly long shifts, but they are covering greater numbers of patients during those shifts. These conditions are not only draining the nurses, but they compromise the levels of care that are provided. A Lexington Herald-Leader article on the strike provided comments from a number of the striking nurses such as:
Lynn Hall, who has been a nurse at McDowell for 16 years, said she is the only person who works in the hospital's four-bed intensive-care unit.
"I don't even have someone to help answer the phone," she said. "It's just the opposite of the way it should be. A hospital should strive to have nurses with high morale, instead of walking out with tears in your eyes because you couldn't do it all."
The ARH response to all this? They aren't even trying to negotiate. They have already started looking for permanent replacements, while in the short run they bus in nurses from temp agencies. Nothing could make it clearer that the occupational realm is one governed by conflict and power, with the hospital administration holding most of the cards. The nurses recognize, but regret the struggle.
"Still, Hall and the other nurses said they would rather be working than striking.
"We don't want to be here," Tanner said. "We tried not to be here. We just want to negotiate the rest of our contract."
The only hope the nurses have is support from the general public. Unfortunately most people in eastern Kentucky have few choices. For those who do, consider taking your medical business else where, to hospitals and clinics where the nursing staff is treated more fairly and with the respect they deserve.