Timothy Patrick McCarthy, who teaches history and literature at Harvard, writes: On April 18, forty-six members of Harvard's Living Wage Campaign took over Massachusetts Hall, one of Harvard's main administrative buildings, to demand a living wage for all Harvard workers. In addition to the sit-in, hundreds of other protesters and sympathizers have marched outside, fasted, slept in tents in Harvard Yard, held panel discussions and rallies and launched an impressive outreach and petition campaign. The Living Wage Campaign is demanding that all Harvard workers, whether directly employed by the university or hired through outside firms, be paid a living wage of at least $10.25 per hour, adjusted annually for inflation and with basic health benefits. According to the administration's own figures, more than a thousand full-time and part-time, or "casual," employees are paid less than $10 per hour for their work. Dining-hall workers at Harvard Law School currently earn as little as $6.50 per hour, and most janitors receive less than $9 per hour. As the university celebrates a transition in presidential leadership from Neil Rudenstine, a humanist, to Lawrence Summers, an economist, it must have the courage to do what is humane and economically just: Provide a living wage to all its workers.
CASUALTIES OF THE DRUG WAR
When the single-engine plane carrying missionary Veronica Bowers and her infant daughter, Charity, was shot down on April 20 by a Peruvian fighter jet, killing mother and daughter, they became the latest victims of an ever more irrational US-backed drug war. The missionary plane, tracked by a CIA surveillance aircraft, was mistaken for a drug flight and blown out of the sky by a Peruvian crew. The US claims that the CIA operatives in the surveillance plane tried to dissuade the Peruvian pilot from shooting, but both planes were there because of the antidrug crusade. How many innocent Peruvians have been aboard the other planes shot down in this campaign? The surveillance flights are temporarily suspended, but the Bush Administration is going ahead with plans to more deeply embroil a growing list of Latin American nations in the crusade. Colombia's internal war, fueled by stepped-up US antidrug dollars, already threatens to spread to neighboring countries. In the United States the thousands of mostly poor, nonviolent drug users who fill the prisons are forgotten victims of the drug crusade. Perhaps the barbaric killing of the missionary and her baby will prick the American conscience as past tragedies have not.