Greetings from Albuquerque.

As these words are written, it is Thursday morning and I am in New Mexico to promote my new novel, “The Last Thing You Surrender.” I have to be back home before Monday to teach a class. If my return flight were canceled because, say, the TSA went on strike, I’d be in a world of hurt. But I would also understand and respect that decision.

Because the time has come to redistribute the pain.

That’s an expression Martin Luther King used — he credited Jesse Jackson — in the 1968 Memphis sanitation workers strike as he urged boycotts and other forms of economic coercion in support of the strikers. Why, he reasoned, should the sanitation men suffer alone? Let the whole city feel the force of their complaint.

Redistribute the pain.

As the federal government shutdown over Donald Trump’s demand for a $5.7 billion monument to white supremacy drags into its second month, maybe that should be the motto of the 800,000 workers who are either furloughed or working without pay. Up to this point, after all, they and their families have largely borne the impact of the shutdown.

Yes, food stamp recipients are worried they won’t receive their benefits. Yes, tourists have found national parks closed. But many of us have been relatively untouched. Indeed, for all that you hear of a growing sickout by TSA workers, the truth is, the nation’s airports are functioning pretty near normally.

Traveling this week, I’ve found TSA workers at their posts and doing their jobs — just as if they were actually being paid, just as if they have not been forced into involuntary servitude, required to work on the promise of pay once this sad excuse for a government finally gets its act together.

Never mind that utilities, banks and supermarkets do not accept promises as legal tender. Never mind the likelihood that, whenever they finally are paid, the penalties and interest accruing on their bills mean federal workers will actually lose money.

And if you think this White House understands — or cares about — the paycheck-to-paycheck lives of working people, you’re mistaken. Consider Trump blithely assuring us that unpaid federal workers can simply make “adjustments.” And economic adviser Kevin Hassett saying they’ll be “better off” because they get a vacation without taking vacation days. And billionaire commerce secretary Wilbur Ross saying he doesn’t “quite understand” why workers don’t just take out loans to tide them over.

We’re talking a level of cluelessness that is simply unreal. Meantime, a furloughed federal worker is seen weeping outside Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s office because she is facing a Feb. 1 eviction and doesn’t know what she’s going to do.

Enough. Redistribute this pain.

Can you imagine how it would refocus these people, how it would clarify things, if the TSA and its federal colleagues walked off the job one day? If federal law enforcement, air travel, tax refunds, just … stopped?

Yes, federal workers are prohibited by law from striking. And I’m painfully aware how facile it is for some guy sitting at a desk to give somebody else advice that could cost him his job or even his freedom. If I were in his place, would I take my advice? I honestly can’t say.

What I can say is that I’m fed up with seeing working people suffer for the infernal pride and bottomless stupidity of one man. And that I will support them wholeheartedly if they take that step.

Redistribute the pain. I’m ready to bear my share.

I’m sure I’m not the only one.

Leonard Pitts is a columnist for The Miami Herald. Readers may contact him via e-mail at: [email protected]

Leonard Pitts Jr.

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