About John Oliver Mason

I am a freelance writer, having worked for newspapers, magazines and blogs for over twenty-five years, covering neighborhood and working people making their communities and their lives better. I believe in the power of the written word to bring about change, and I put that into practice. I believe that when we become aware of the effect our small actions in the community have in improving lives, we can truly make a difference. I am also one of the leading poets in the Philadelphia area, and I also write fiction. I also act, performing on the public access channel PhillyCAM.

Plutarch, Lives Of The Noble Greeks

I have just finished dreading Lives of the Noble Greeks by Plutarch. (https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/plutarch/) This was half of his work Lives Of The Noble Greeks and Romans. I take from this great classic work the following:

In this series, Plutarch sought parallels between the great figures of Ancient Greece and Rome-Theseus, the legendary founder of Athens, to Romulus, the founder of Rome; Alexander to Caesar; and Demosthenes to Cicero. Plutarch sifts through the varying accounts he finds about these great figures, researching them, and deciding which ones are the most credible.

In the biographies of the great lawgivers-Solon of Athens, Lycurgus of Sparta-they dealt with the problem of social inequality: a small wealthy elite at the top, and a vast poor underclass at the bottom, and the dangers this posses to a nation-something we still have to deal with in this era.

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Workers’ Presidential Summit in Philadelphia

The Pennsylvania Convention Center was the site of the Workers’ Presidential Summit, held on Tuesday, September 17. The program was the brainchild of Pat Eiding, President of the Philadelphia AFL-CIO. Sponsors included IBEW Local 98, Unite/Here Philadelphia, CWA, Laborers’ District Council, and IATSE.

I saw on the stage, interviewed by veteran Philadelphia journalist Vernon Odum, Joe Biden, Bill DiBlasio (who has since dropped out), Andrew Yang, and Bernie Sanders (who got the biggest applause). The candidates took such questions from the audience of workers about clean energy and the transition from carbon-based fuels and the effect on jobs; tax breaks for billionaires and corporations; wage disparities between CEOs and workers; health insurance; unemployment and its emotional effects, such as suicide, drug addiction, and decline in life expectancy; upgrading infrastructure; pensions, Social Security, and security after retirement; raising the minimum wage; banning “right to work (for less) laws; and tuition-free college and the elimination of student debt.

For further information, please follow the hashtag #Workers2020.

APRI Awards Banquet

On Friday, September 13, 2019, I joined other trade unionists in celebrating the annual Awards Banquet of the Philadelphia chapter of the A. Philip Randolph Institute. (I’m the recording Secretary of the Philadelphia chapter.) The honorees were:

Martin Williams Jr., of the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers;

Linda Fields, Special Assistant, LIUNA Local 135;

George Piasecki III, President of the Delaware County (PA) AFL-CIO;

and Vernon Woodall, LIUNA Local 135.

Joining me to honor these Labor leaders were other labor leaders, Stewards and other people dedicated to upgrading the lives of their fellow working people. These are working-class people finding empowerment in banding together to help other workers find their power. I would encourage you to find your power in banding together with other workers in a union.

Fox News, GOP media now warn of bloodshed if Democrats win in 2020

It’s come to this, threatening to engage in armed violence if their opponents get democratically elected and implement popular, and long-overdue, regulations around possessing firearms. Conservatives have been the spoiled children of American politics; every President has had to look over his shoulder at what the right-wing will complain about next. When the Obama administration put out the report on right-wing violence as a national security threat, the conservative media-Fox News, et al-let out such a whine about being reporessed that the administration recinded it.

But the threat is real; the next administration-please Lord, a Democrat!-must come down HARD on these bullies and terrorists-yes, they ARE terrorists!- and let them see we WILL NOT be intimidated! we WILL stand up to these spoiled bullies, and we WILL take their evil toys away from them! And when we do, we’ll finally see the kind of gutless, yellow-bellied tapeworms they are, and they’ll crawl back under their rocks of insignificance!

My Weekend, September 7-8, 2019

Saturday, September 7, I attended a citywide meeting and electoral forum of Reclaim Philadelphia, the grassroots progressive activist group which has mobilized its members to canvass for several progressive candidates during the Primary election in May. (https://www.reclaimphiladelphia.org/) The meeting took place in the sanctuary of the First Unitarian Church of Philadelphia, 2125 Chestnut Street. (https://www.philauu.org/)

The forum was for candidates for the two minority At-Large seats in Philadelphia City-Council, traditionally held by Republicans. (Full disclosure, I’m a Democratic Committee-person in the 48th Ward.) At the forum were Kendra Brooks and Nicolas O’Rourke, running with the Working Families Party; Sherrie Cohen, running although she was taken off the ballot (her case is going through the courts); and independent Joe Cox. Reclaim activists Aileen Callaghan, Ken Begley, Natasha Cahill, and Sarah Kloss asked the candidates questions about such issues as ending the ten-year tax abatement for real estate developers (which takes money away from housing and other needed services); juvenile justice and reentry programs for people coming out of the penal system; climate change and the environment; and funding for quality schools, ending support for private charter schools (which takes funding from public schools), and community control of local schools.

From left: Kendra Brooks (Working Families), Sherrie Cohen, Joe Cox, and Nicolas O’Rourke (Working Families).

City Council-person-At-large Helen Gym spoke, discussing the successful electoral work of Reclaim in electing progressive candidates such as herself; in the May primary, Gym, with the support of Reclaim, raked in over 100,000 votes, more than the next-highest candidate. ( https://whyy.org/articles/2019-pennsylvania-primary-election-results/)

City Council-member Helen Gym.

On Sunday, September 8, I joined other Democratic committee-people at a cookout put on by Congress-member Dwight Evans. Amid the fun, we were reminded of the importance of getting the vote out for this election, and especially next year, the presidential election.  Committee-people are the arms, legs, eyes, and ears of the party system, going out to urge people to vote and take part in their political process, and to listen to the concerns of the people in the neighborhoods.

Dwight Evans himself…
…and with me.
The new voting machines; we have to show the voters how they work, so the voters could work our democracy for their benefit.
DJ Kevy Kev, providing the soundtrack for our afternoon.