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Late Night: The World Is On Fire

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I can’t tell you how many people have voiced the opinion in the past couple of weeks that the ongoing US union uprising is just so terribly badly timed: 

In any event, the $989 million in pension liabilities Hostess ended up owing various union funds, according to its bankruptcy filing, didn’t accumulate in secret, like termite damage. It accrued because Hostess and its sister bakeries judged their retirement obligations to be relatively unimportant in the grand scheme of things. Now that the bill has come due, Hostess blames the workers for demanding what they were promised.

So rude. How dare they ask for what they were told they could expect? Why don’t they just sit down like good little boys and girls and let the adults cast lots for the spoils of their labor? In fact, why don’t they go away entirely? Their presence is an uncomfortable reminder that we once told them they could live like human beings. They’re being so uncivil. They’re being so loud. They’re being so insistent. Don’t they know everything is just a big ironic joke now? Why do they have to get so upset? It’s not like this matters.

You know, 90 percent of all of our political and cultural problems, I am starting to think, come from getting mad at the person pointing out that THE WORLD IS ON FIRE instead of grabbing a bucket and joining the fire brigade.

First you have to prove that the world is on fire, and then that you have a legitimate right to speak up in the meeting to alert people to the fire, and then you have to prove you didn’t start the fire in the first place, and meanwhile livestock is fleeing the danger zone and the temperature’s approaching molten-lead levels, but we’re still debating whether you’re enough of an expert on incindiaries to make us put down our morning coffee.


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Allison Hantschel

Allison Hantschel

Allison Hantschel is a 10-year veteran of the newspaper business. She publishes First Draft, a writing and politics blog, with her partners Holden, Jude and Scout. She is the author of the books Chicago's Historic Irish Pubs (2011, Arcadia Publishing, with Mike Danahey) and It Doesn’t End With Us: The Story of the Daily Cardinal, about a great liberal journalism institution (2007, Heritage Books). She also edited the anthology “Special Plans: The Blogs on Douglas Feith and the Faulty Intelligence That Led to War” (2005, William, James & Co.) Her work has appeared in the Chicago Sun-Times, the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, the Daily Southtown, Sirens Magazine, and Alternet. She lives in Chicago with her husband, two ferrets, and approximately 60 tons of books.