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The challenge before us

How tired are you at the end of the day?  I’ll bet most of you are saying, “very.”  I also bet none of you are complaining.  You expect to have to work hard and are willing to do whatever it takes to make a living.

And like your passengers, you face a long, hard, and stressful commute at the end of a long, hard, and stressful day.

When you finally arrive home you’re tired – but you still have responsibilities.  Parents have all sorts of tasks they must perform for their children.  You barely have time for dinner.  And the weekends are reserved for all of the things you wish you’d had the time and energy to do during the week.

The last thing you want to hear is that you should go to some political rally to support a candidate or a cause people say you should care about.

According to new research yours is a pretty common experience, and it has consequences beyond your personal life.



A report just out from Stony Brook University, and the University of Connecticut asserts that the time we spend commuting – an activity no one likes – decreases the amount of time we give to civic and political activities. This is particularly true for the poor who spend more time commuting than other segments of society.

So it’s no wonder political participation is in decline.  Americans spent 42 million hours per year commuting in 1990.  That figure has mushroomed to 56 million hours per year today.

These statistics suggest that we really have our work cut out for us in 2014, because the rich will be doing everything they can to push the middle class back into the ranks of the poor, which, by itself, weakens the amount of time and energy we have to fight back.

Oh, and by the way, the researchers found that the problem doesn’t affect rich people with long commutes because the rich have resources to deal with stress and fatigue that the rest of us don’t.

The result? The largest percentage of people participating in civic and political activities are – you guessed it – rich

It’s not hard to see where this is going.


No easy solutions

There’s no easy solution for this.  However, my hope is that understanding and defining the problem will lead us to be more aware of it, and will help motivate us to overcome it.

So, I exhort all of you to put in an extra effort this year – to get involved, and to join Team ATU’s fight to protect our jobs and our rights.

I know it won’t be easy, but, you know – it never has been.