Tag Archives: corporations

The Volunteers

(On October 9,2018 I visited Auschwitz and Birkenau.)

Part 1.

Walk Auschwitz.

Words cannot describe. I have seen photos and movies. Schindler’s List. Sophie’s Choice. I have read the accounts and read about the numbers.

Walk Auschwitz.

Jews. Poles. Hungarians. Children. Russians. Gypsies. Women. Englishmen. Priests. Elderly. Rabbis. Intellectuals. Homosexuals. Disabled. Mentally ill.

Walk Auschwitz.

Over 1,300,000 human beings. Gassed. Starved to death. Shot. Suicide by throwing themselves against the high voltage fence. Hanged. Loaned out. Experimented on. 1,300,000 human beings. A number so large it loses meaning.

Walk Birkenau.

Walking the same walk as the victims. Walking the same walk as the guards. Piles of suitcases with names and addresses written in bold. The pots and the pans. Brought by women to their new home. To cook for their families. The prayer shawls, clean and fringed.The hill of shoes. The room full of human hair. The hair. Long and brown. Flowing hair of a young women. Braids. The tight braided hair of a young girl. The hair. So much hair.

Walk Auschwitz.

If you can walk through Auschwitz and Birkenau and not be sickened, there is something wrong with you.

If you can step into the gas chambers and gaze at the ovens and not be disgusted, there is something wrong with you.

If you can view the small starvation cell, the asphyxiation cell, the gallows, the rows and rows and rows of wooden buildings holding the living dead and not be nauseated, there is something missing in you. You are less than human.

Part 2. On another level

Walk Auschwitz and Birkenau.

Auschwitz and Birkenau were the natural endpoint of the Nazi philosophy. The logical conclusion to the concept of the “master race”

Wedded with the philosophy of corporate profit . the marriage of the coercive power of the state and the financial power of corporations. A philosophy unfettered by normal human emotion or empathy.

The human beings housed at Auschwitz and Birkenau contributed to the profits of the German war industry. The chemical industry. The medical establishment. Science.

German corporations paid the NAZI regime for the laborers. Worked to death because more were always on the way. Cheap. Efficient. Labor.

Companies like Bayer (of Bayer aspirin) paid for research subjects. Try new medicines. Cheap subjects for drug trials. Human beings as test subjects for new procedures. Use and dispose. Next, please. Plentiful and cheap.

The Buna-Werke synthetic rubber factory. Labor needed for the war industry. Priority labor from the camps. Eleven hour days. Minimum required by law.

The perfect, logical union of government power, racist philosophy and corporate profits. Auschwitz and Birkenau were death camps, but they were also very efficient money making machines.

Auschwitz and Birkenau were inevitable. The only possible result of the “logic” of the master race. All “others” were less than human. As such they could be used and abused. They SHOULD be used and abused. Tortured. Killed. Terrorized into submission. Worked to death. Experimented on. All for the good of the master race. Logical. Precise. Cold, calculated logic. For the homeland. Vaterland. The Reich.

What about the doctors who experimented? The guards who tortured? The business owners who profited? The Nazi commanders whose wives and little children lived with them just outside the electrified fences? The German soldiers who brutalized and mocked and punished? The men who  dropped the canisters of Zyklon B into the gas chambers? Who watched and waited patiently for the women and children to choke to death?

No one was forced.

All were volunteers.

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Filed under government, homosexual, Judaism, logic, nazi, Politics, Society, swastika, workers

May Day 2040

May 1st. May Day. A celebration of the working people of the world. A celebration of worker’s rights. Passing largely unnoticed. A peek into  the future…Here is May Day, 2040.

Little Bobby and Little Suzie: Tell us a story Grandpa. A story.

Grandpa: Well. Today is May Day. So let me tell you about it. Once there was a time when unions and….

Bobby: (interrupting)..what’s a union?

Grandpa: A  union was an organization of working people. They got together to try to get good wages and working conditions and things like that.

Suzie: But isn’t that illegal, Grandpa?

Grand: NOW it is. But then it wasn’t. You see in the Bill of Rights every person had the right to “free association”. That meant that he could form unions. So workers did just that. Back then it wasn’t illegal.

Bobby:  But workers aren’t persons, Grandpa. I learned that in my “America is For Christians” History class.

Grandpa: That is true. But, once upon a time workers WERE considered to be persons. Then the Supreme Court said that corporations were persons. Then another Supreme Court said that ONLY corporations were persons. So that’s why workers are no longer persons.

Suzie: Grandpa. were YOU ever a person?

Grandpa: Oh yes. I was a person for a long time. And I worked as a union member until they were made illegal by President Rand Cruz.  And I paid Social Security…

Bobby: Social what, Grandpa?

Grandpa: Social Security. It was a little bit of money you paid every paycheck and then when you retired you would get some money to live on. But that is all gone now. Many corpora..er..persons…had religious objections to paying any tax. So that ended.

Suzie: What’s “retired”?

Grandpa: Retirement? It used to be that when you were 55 or 60 or 65 you could quit working and just live on pensions and social security. back when people were persons.

Bobby: But grandpa you are almost 90 and you are still working. When will you retire?

Grandpa: No one retires any more, Bobby. It is bad for corporate investment. When they eliminated the minimum wage they eliminated retirement. BUT, in the good old days, people could relax a little as they got older. Those days are gone.

Bobby: But Grandpa, our history teacher told us that only lazy people retire and want money for working. Anyway, she said that only persons have rights, not people.

Grandpa: Well, Bobby, she is right that people are no longer persons under the law. The  Supreme Court has ruled that there are only 3 categories of legal “persons”. No one else has any rights.

Suzie: What are the three categories, Grandpa?

Grandpa: Let me see if I remember. Who now has rights…Corporations, of course…and Born Again Christians…and the third…I remember now…fetuses and embryos. No one else has rights.

(Dad, Bobby and Suzie’s father enters.)

Dad: Okay kids, time to let Grandpa go to bed. He has a 10 hour shift tomorrow.

(Grandpa trudges off to his cot in the basement.)

Suzie: I like Grandpa’s stories.

Dad: Well, honey, remember Grandpa doesn’t always remember things correctly. He was what they used to call a “socialist”. He still thinks that people should be persons. He thinks that ppeople are more important than corporations. But he is old, so, we can humor him.

Bobby: Can we stay up late and watch the hologram?

Dad: Nope, You both need to study. I looked at your test schedule and there is a very important Science test tomorrow. You know what that means, don’t you?

Bobby and Suzie in unison: Memorize Leviticus.

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Filed under economics, May Day, pensions, retire, Social Security, workers

The Job Creators Strike Again

The 114th Congress, controlled by the GOP , has now voted to approve the XL Pipeline. The Senate will probably follow suit. It is not clear if this vote actually means anything, since the State Department has not yet completed it’s required study of the pipeline. And the POTUS cannot act to approve it until the State Department makes it’s recommendations. And it is quite possible that President Obama would approve the pipeline anyway, if the State Department so recommends.

But facts and the law will not stand in the way of the Job Creators. The GOP Job Creators. Their dedication to creating jobs has no bounds. The policies of Reagan’s Supply-Side Economics (called “VooDoo Economic”s by former POTUS GHW Bush) have created millions of jobs since the 1980s. That is the good news.

The bad news is that those jobs were created overseas. China. Vietnam. Mexico. Or in states well below poverty level wages. Alabama. Georgia. Tennessee. Good for CEOs and the upper 1 %. Not such a great deal for the middle class or workers. Not such a great deal for taxpayers since so many full-time employees are also on Food Stamps. We may pause at this point to recall that these Job Creators fought very hard to prevent the US from helping the auto industry keep the jobs already created. Tens of thousands of jobs. Good paying jobs with no one on Food Stamps. Saved by the bail outs and TARP. Job Creators hated them. Predicted the end of freedom in America if we saved these jobs. (That catastrophe was somehow averted.)

So the XL Pipeline is not a new triumph for the Job Creators. They have created short term low wage jobs before. For the honor of piping the filthiest oil on the planet across the water tables of the plains states the US will be rewarded with thousands of jobs. Over 1,000 miles of 36 inch pipe. Carrying unprocessed, unrefined thick crude oil . Across water resources. Across farmland and grazing land. What could go wrong?

The pipeline will create 3,000 to 5,000 jobs. Good jobs. Unless they are given to non-unionized, low wage immigrant labor. And these jobs will last a long time. Well. Two years. Then they end. Then the housing built for the temporary workers lies vacant. The boom in the small towns goes bust. But there are more jobs. Permanent ones. Jobs that are here to stay.

The best estimate of the long term permanent jobs servicing the pipeline is 35. And 15 more part time jobs, as well. 50 jobs. The economic impact of these 50 jobs is hard to gauge. The GOP Job Creators have been beating their chests and thumping their …well…their whatevers, for 50 permanent jobs. For 6 years they have battled to get these 50 jobs.

While infrastructure rots and schools crumble, the Job Creators are narrowly focused on 50 jobs for their oil company donors. Not thousands of police officers to make cities safer. Not thousands of teachers to help our students. Not firefighters. Not computer technicians or scientists. Not increased training for new doctors and nurses. Nope.

The Job Creators have spent 6 years whining about 50 jobs. That’s about 9 jobs per year. Fewer than one per month.

A great start. At this rate the Job Creators will have the US economy booming along with full employment by the time the sun burns the Earth to a crisp in 1.1 billion years. But, hey. You gotta start somewhere.

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Filed under Congress, Conservatives, economics, Economy, GOP, government, jobs, Neoconservative, Politics, Republicans, Senate, Society, Taxes, US

Thank you Mr Yoder

Congress recently passed a giganormous spending bill. It was for over 1.1 trillion US dollars. That’s a lot of paper. In numbers it looks like this 1,100,000,000,000. That is more M and M’s than you can shake a stick at.
A lot of that loot goes to luxuries like food stamps, housing for the poor, homeland security, etc. But thanks to Congressman Yoder of Kansas, a fiscal conservative, some of that loot may be coming my way. Kansas, as you may or may not know, is now facing millions of dollars in debt as a result of the “Tax Cuts for Billionaires” program instituted by GOP governor Brownback. Have no fear, like Christie of New Jersey, Brownback intends to raid the public employees pension plans to make up the difference. It worked for Christie. Fiscal conservatism at its best.
But, back to Yoder.
Congressman Yoder was able to slip the Citibank bailout provision into the new budget. Written by Citibank and debated by …well…by no one. No time to debate. It was slipped in at the last minute. (Where are the howlers who were screaming at Obamacare because they only had 6 months to read it before the vote?) This provision allows Citibank (and others) to make those risky bets on certain derivatives and have those bets covered by the US taxpayer if they go bad. The same risky bets that helped lead to the financial meltdown and bailouts of..oh..many, many years ago. I can’t remember. Was it 1929 or something like that. Ancient history. Couldn’t happen again.
At any rate, I assume that because corporations are people that means people are corporations. Makes sense to me. Right?
So, as a corporate entity I plan to fly to Vegas. Las Vegas, Nevada.
I will take my life savings (too embarrassed to give you the amount) and place is all on number 43 . One spin of the roulette wheel. Win and I am a millionaire. (Well, maybe if I win 8 times in a row). All my money. One risky bet. What could be better? This….
And the best part is this. If I win, I get to keep my winnings. Hurrah!. If I lose I will claim I am a bank. I will claim I made a risky bet. The taxpayers will cover my losses. Then, guess what ? I can simply bet again.
So, thank you, Mr Yoder of the bankrupt state of Kansas. Thank you for looking out for the little guy.
Las Vegas, here I come.

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Filed under Christie, Conservatives, Debt, Economy, Neoconservative, neoconservatives, obama, Politics, Republicans

Corporate Rights #2: The Hobby Lobby Religion

Central to the Hobby Lobby case before the Supreme Court is whether a corporation can exercise the right to religious freedom. And thereby excuse itself from laws it finds religiously offensive.

We have a long history of allowing religious institutions and sometime even individuals exemptions from the law. Or parts of the law. For example, the Affordable Care Act exempts religious employers from paying for health insurance costs related to some areas of contraception and abortion. The principle, not really tested yet in court in the case of the ACA, being that legitimate religious beliefs trump this part of the law. While I personally do not agree that any institution or individual is above the law, the Congress disagrees. Perhaps the lobbying power and financial clout of non-tax paying religious organizations may be part of the reason for this exemption. At any rate, it is there. It exists. It is legal.

But other times the courts have ruled that certain practices of religious groups are not above the law. Polygamy, for example, was considered essential for the leaders of the Church of Latter Day saints. But the government ruled otherwise. Even though it was, at the time, a central doctrine of the faith. The Mormons believed in it. The US government said “No”.

And no one would argue that child marriage, slavery, human sacrifice  or actions which obviously harm individuals should be protected, no matter how sincere the beliefs of the religious group that holds them. So, the courts have ruled that religious freedom has  limits, as does  any right.

Individuals who may object to joining the military can apply for conscientious objector status, which precludes them from taking part in combat. But even in this case, it does  not exempt them from military service. They are given other jobs to do. So,  in that sense, they are not exempt.

What about Hobby Lobby? It is not a religion. It is not a church. It is a junk store. It does business in the United States as a multi-million (perhaps billion dollar) corporate entity. Not a mom and pop operation. Not your local Jewish deli. It is a corporate chain, like a MacDonalds or a Dollar Store. What is it’s claim to a religious exemption?

The family that owns Hobby Lobby has sincere religious beliefs. As do the owners of thousands of businesses. And the CEO  of Exxon  or GE or Boeing.  But Hobby Lobby is claiming that the beliefs of a few people, because they are owners of a business enterprise,  somehow allow them to impose their terms on a secular labor contract. While the law says that any business must provide certain things…overtime pay, safe working conditions, minimum wages and now minimum health care benefits, Hobby Lobby is claiming that it does  not have to  abide by those laws. While it uses a religious argument, the actual substance of the case is about money. After all, no one is forcing the Green family to pay for anything out of their own pockets. They have the legal protections of a corporation, but do not want to fulfill the responsibilities of a corporation under the ACA.

The workers earn benefits. Can a corporation limit or reduce or deny benefits based on some new and radical idea of “corporate religion”? If so,  any reasonable person can follow the thread and see where it leads. Any corporate lawyer worth his salary will be codifying “religious beliefs” for Wendy’s and GM before the ink dries on a favorable court decision.

Of course a corporation cannot claim religious freedom to avoid labor laws. A corporation is an artificial , man-made legal construct.  Can anyone claim with a straight face that the original intent of the Bill of Rights was to shield business entities from the powers given Congress in Article 1 ?

Perhaps. After all, some members of this court have already turned the Constitution and themselves  into a logical pretzel with the Bush v Gore decision and the Citizens United decision. While both were obviously politically motivated the majority managed to mangle the interpretation to mean “whatever I say it means”.

So, while an honest interpretation of the law (which already exempts religious groups) and the Constitution would seem to indicate a 9-0 decision against Hobby Lobby, there is no telling how far some members will go in their homage to corporate power. We shall see. Just as Citizens United has turned our elections into a livestock auction,  (“twenty dollar, eighty dollar, five thousand dollar, two million dollar…SOLD, to the two brothers in the back of the room slinking in the corner”) this court decision could eviscerate any worker protection and undercut Article 1 of the Constitution. Believe it.

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Filed under ACA, Conservatives, healthcare, neoconservatives, Obamacare, Religion, Supreme Court, Taxes

Corporate Rights#1:The Sexual Deviants at Hobby Lobby

Quick background. The company  called Hobby Lobby,  owned by a family called the Greens,  does not want to pay for part of the health care for some of it’s workers. This is basic preventative health care covered , by law,  under the ACA. They don’t like some of the forms of birth control, which they claim are abortions. While the medical and scientific evidence refutes that claim, that is not the point.

The point is that the Greens want to exempt themselves from the law based on their personal  religious beliefs . This raises a number of issues, only one of which I will touch on today. There are other issues to be examined at a later date. But today the issue is the Green support for “sexual  deviance”.

Are the owners of Hobby Lobby trying to force deviant sexual practices on their employees? And should a company be able to encourage their employees to engage in sexually deviant behavior, directly or indirectly?

Let me explain.  The Greens oppose the idea of abortion. They also oppose having to pay for any contraceptive that they consider to be abortion inducing .  They reserve the right to define the drug and then refuse to  pay insurance costs associated with their findings. It should be noted that at least some of the contraceptives they find to be abortion inducing are not . But the court did  not delve into the scientific validity of their claims, only their genuinely held beliefs. So be it.  Some folks believe that dinosaurs walked with man. So be it.

So,  what the Greens are saying is that if their employees participate in sexual activity that could lead to pregnancy, the Greens oppose providing the means to  prevent or abort that pregnancy. Keep following this. So, if an employee of Hobby Lobby and her husband have sexual relations in which the husband carefully (or not so carefully) inserts his penis into the employee’s vagina, then the Greens get upset. They will not pay for certain contraceptives that might lead to the sexual act NOT producing a bouncing bundle of joy. So, the Greens are telling their employees that every personal sex act between a husband and wife is now the business of the Green family, because they employ one of the parties at their store. OK.

Oddly, however, the Greens are actually using an economic incentive to encourage couples to engage in non-copulatory sexual behavior. Oral sex will not lead to pregnancy. The Greens are encouraging it. Anal sex will not lead to pregnancy. The Greens are saying  to their employees. Go For It. Homosexual activity will not result  in pregnancy. To the  Greens,  that is A-OKAY in their book. I must suppose that bestiality must be number one in the “Hobby Lobby Guide to Employee Sex Practices”. After all,  the ACA does not cover vet bills.

So, we must ask ourselves. Are the Greens,  under the guise of  religious “freedom” actually encouraging their employees to engage in all kinds of sexual activity. Do they get a vicarious thrill from the thought of their workers going home and engaging in a variety of sexual practices, many of which were illegal only a few decades ago ? Does it excite their corporate religious fervor ? We cannot know and I am only asking. I am not sure where this will lead, but I suspect in the end it will unravel as a communist plot to ensure deviant sexual practices are mandated in America. Obama’s fault. I can feel it coming.

Next up, another essay on the corporate rights.

 

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Filed under ACA, healthcare, homosexual, neoconservatives, Obamacare, Religion, Supreme Court