The Time is now, and not tomorrow, to find that we can cure our sorrows…….

The Time is Now©   by Jerry Waxman 1960

It’s the first line of a song I wrote 53 years ago on the death of Billie Holiday. I never finished the lyric. Perhaps someday I will. What’s that got to do with the subject matter at hand? Very little, but it is the right title, and while we’re on the subject it has a lot to do with what’s going on in our country. Billie Holiday’s untimely demise was the result of her lifestyle, true enough, but the establishment’s treatment of her had as much to do with her dying as it did with Trayvon Martin’s death, as well as the plight of Walmart and all minimum wage employees being considered interchangeable and throw away people.

Recently in Orange County, Organize Now sponsored a petition drive to get paid sick time on the ballot, which was successfully quashed by unscrupulous maneuverings in County Commission chambers with a lot of help by the Chamber of Commerce. The State of Florida got into the act by passing a law preempting local government control of the issue and was signed by the governor, whose name makes me too nauseated to mention. Item in last week’s news: Measles discovered in Orange Co visitor from UK. What restaurants or tourist attractions did this person visit? Did your food server serve this person? Lots of questions; few answers. But wait! There is someone on the scene who wants to do something about it, and he wants to do it now.

Monday evening, July 29 at 6:00 PM Congressman Alan Grayson (D Fla. 9th Congressional District) held a packed town hall meeting at Barry University School of law, where the crowd was well over 200 people and not an empty seat in the room. The overall subject was workers rights. In his discussion of the minimum wage he wanted it raised to at least $10.50 an hour from its current $7.25 per hour. “I want America to be number one not just in military spending, not just number one in the number of people incarcerated, but number one in wages, number one in benefits and number one in a strong middle class” said Grayson, and he backed up his statements with facts and figures that show that businesses would not suffer, as well as the economy would actually improve. Citing a history of the minimum wage, Grayson proved that the age old argument of lost profits is bunk, pure bunk. He was backed up in his statements by Political economics professor Jeannette Wicks-Lim of the University of Massachusetts-Amherst. Dr. Wicks-Lim showed through graphs and charts the impact of the minimum wage dating back several decades. Here’s the video of his speech.

Grayson, in a humorous moment of self deprecation played up the story that Salon.com has named him the most effective member of Congress, citing that he has had more amendments passed (5 out of 20) than any other member on either side of the aisle. This is not the bombastic and outrageous Alan Grayson 1.0 of 2008. This new Alan Grayson 2.0 is almost statesmanlike in the way he talks and deals with people, and he has managed to find allies across the aisle who have helped him get his amendments passed. Nor does he just follow the party line; he is fiercely independent. He has written the White House of his intentions to vote against any bill which would cut Social Security and Medicare and under no circumstances would he support chained CPI. He also defied the White House in demanding to see the documents on the Trans Pacific Partnership, which the White House supports and wants to fast track. The public Alan Grayson is getting close to the real Alan Grayson which was not the case four years ago. Yes, he is wealthy and it is no crime. He took a phone business public and profited by it. Something his opponents advocate yet resent him for. His parents were teachers at a time when teachers were not well paid, so he knows the plight of the middle and lower classes and he has the fortitude to stand up for them.

Other themes that Grayson touched on were the Walmart firings of employees who stood up for their rights and paid vacation days. Two of the fired Walmart employees, Lisa Lopez and Vanessa Ferreira both spoke on their actions and firings. Grayson also noted that among all of the industrialized countries of the world the US was dead last in vacation days. Noting that countries like Germany who has one of the best economies in the world not only pays much higher wages than we do, but also gives almost a whole month of paid vacation days. Grayson also noted that, by law, big corporations in Germany must have at least two workers on their boards of directors.

During the question and answer period Grayson took and addressed questions on Florida’s failure to adopt the Affordable Care Act and the expansion of Medicaid. He also took questions relating to the County Commission paid sick leave fiasco, wage theft and his refusal to allow privatization of TSA security personnel at Orlando’s airport. Considering the evolution of Alan Grayson from 2008 through now, I can’t wait for  Alan Grayson 3.0 to be introduced.