Thursday, November 15, 2007

Morning Shopping, How Much for a Kilo of Democracy?

Clearly I should have sucked it up before I left and bought a new digital camera. This morning, after kind of a late start, I hopped the bus downtown so I could buy some food for dinner at the pescheria. As I came up on Piazza Duomo I was surprised to find the square filled with garbage trucks and a bunch of workers standing in front of the municipal building. A sanitation worker's strike? Let's hope they resolve it soon! If Grady thinks the city is dirty now, just see what happens if they don't empty the dumpsters for a day or two.

I've done some peeking around on the web but haven't yet turned up a news story that tells me what's going on. Maybe the TV will tell me. Anyway, it's always interesting to see street level democracy in action. I keep meaning to dig up more info on what was being protested at that march we ran across in Palermo, but don't yet have a handle on what the issues are. It wasn't really anything to do with tuition, like Christa suggested, since there is no tuition here. I think it's more to do with new labor laws that remove some protections for students and other "precarious" workers, meaning low end, unsteady employment, workers. I think.

The Palermo protest didn't seem to be a real big deal. It did get about 4 seconds of coverage on the news that night, but for a huge city like Palermo, the number of people participating was minuscule. Despite posters everywhere calling for a general strike on that day, I didn't see a single business closed, giving the impression that this was an event for only the most left of the left that had failed to grab any real popular support. Add this to the fact that the posters and slogans covered such a broad spectrum of leftist issues that any coherent political message was lost. I've seen the same thing in the US. You can have a protest about the Iraq war and there will be groups there marching in support of saving the manatees. Just stay on topic, people. This also helped add to my confusion about what it as they were actually marching about. Yes, I know, we're all in favor of worker's rights, safer working conditions, better access to food, housing, medical care, etc... But what exactly do you want right now, in concrete terms, at this moment? Oh well.