Tag Archives: labor

Happy Labor Day. Now Get back to Work.

Wages in the US are at a 40 year low when compared to investor profits.  And average workers today make less than workers 40 years ago adjusted for inflation. The capitalist revolution has largely succeeded. Convincing workers that they are indeed undeserving of a decent wage.

So, let’s celebrate Labor Day.

The labor of the slaves was responsible for the southern economy. Free labor, of people stolen from their homes in Africa,  was the driving force behind the plantation system that south fought so hard to maintain. It is hard to fail when you have free labor at your disposal. Easy to build a “good life” for the master and his household. So, the economy of the south was built on free labor. Happy labor Day

The labor of the “white slaves”, the indentured servants, was hardly different. Indentured labor was slavery of a different sort. English and Irish “peasants” or “criminals” stolen from their homeland. Some by force, others by the force of the English law. Taken to America where they labored for 7 or 11 or more years to pay off debts. And to pay for their own passage to slavery. Many died before their indenture was over. No recourse to the law. Happy Labor Day.

The labor of the Chinese came next. Railroad builders of the great transcontinental rail system. Stolen from their homes in China or “shanghaied” from the ports of China. Sold by their families into indenture. They built the railroads and for many the rail sidings were their graves. Mass graves when the work was done and they were no longer welcome. Happy Labor Day.

The labor movement of the early 20th century saw a massive number of workers seeking to unite. The US government called it treason. Any strikes for better wages were met with government and company violence. Workers were required to live and pay rent to their employer. To buy everything at the “company store” Were paid in scrip rather than dollars. Any organizer was labeled a “communist” or a “traitor”. Eugene Debs,when he became too powerful, found himself behind bars. Happy Labor Day.

The post -WW2 labor union boom. Wages increased. Working conditions became safer. benefits were seen as an integral part of the labor contract. And as union wages increased, the wages of non-union workers went up as well due to the upward pressure of job mobility. And corporations thrived . Millions were made. And workers could buy homes and save for the future. Then came the Reagan years and  the worker became evil. A parasite on the “job creators”. Mr Reagan’s first act (after ripping the solar panels from the White House roof) was to bust the traffic controllers union. The trend was set. Government was once more the enemy of labor. Union busting was the goal of government. Happy Labor Day.

The Mexican and Guatemalan and Honduran immigrant labor. Doing jobs no US citizen will do. For low wages. No benefits. No protection from the boss if he decides not to pay. Picking grapes. Washing dishes. Busing tables. Doing construction. Weeding lettuce. Cheap labor. And in return they are blamed for wanting to work. For doing jobs that US citizens refuse to do. they keep food cheap and profits high. Happy Labor Day.

Happy Labor Day. Remember the slaves, the Chinese, the white slaves, the wobblies, the unionists, the immigrant. All of whom have made America what it is. No matter how much “capital” is invested, nothing happens without labor. Nothing gets built. No one gets arrested. No computers are programmed. No one is taught. No garbage gets picked up. No potholes get filled. No electric lines get repaired. No one is cured. No packages are delivered. No food is grown.

Happy Labor Day. Now get back to work.

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Filed under Chinese, Debs, immigrants, slavery, United States

Santa and the Elves Restructured

Scene: North Pole, or thereabouts.

Relf the Elf strolls into Santa’s Workshop.

Relf: Hi guys, where’s Santa? I haven’t seen him in days. I need to order some more yo-yos.

Delf the Elf: Haven’t you heard? Big meeting today. Santa has an announcement. Here he comes now.

Santa approaches and walks to the podium. He is wearing a Brooks Brothers suit and alligator shoes.

Santa: Good morning elves. After 346 years Mrs. Claus and I have decided to retire. We will be leaving tomorrow for Santa Lucia. I have sold Santa’s workshop to Bayne enterprises. They have assured me that they will continue the high quality of service that has become a hallmark of this organization. While I will miss you all I am confident you will continue to enjoy prosperity and serve the children of the world. In short, they made me an offer I could not refuse. Thank you for your service and stop by if you are ever vacationing in the Caribbean. All questions will be handled by your new employer, Bayne Enterprises.

With that, Santa left the podium and a thick-haired, square-jawed  Dudley Do-Right look alike took the microphone.

Mr Mitt: Good morning. I am Mr Mitt, your new boss. As Santa said, Bayne has acquired Santa’s Workshop and we remain committed to providing he finest quality to our customers at the lowest price. Any question?

Velf the Elf: I heard from a few retired elves that their pension payments have stopped. What is going on?

Mr Mitt: Excellent question. As you know, Santa was quite generous in his pension plan, which has lead to a less than maximum profit for the company. We have found it necessary to restructure the pension system. In fact, no pensions will be paid to the retired elves. And the pension plan has been eliminated for the curent employees. This has been necessary under the current economic conditions.

Velf: But we paid into those plans. I have been working here for over 134 years, making monthly contributions. You can’t just eliminate my pension.

Mr Mitt: Since you have been working without a union contract we are well within our rights to do so. At times like this we all need to make sacrifices for the good of the company. Next question?

Kelf the Elf: This morning I saw a number of trucks loading equipment out of the toy shop. What is going on?

Mr Mitt: Excellent question. I am so glad you asked that. As part of our restructuring to make Santa’s Workshop more efficient we are in the process of outsourcing many of our operations. Actually, all of our operations. To stay competitive we will be making toys in China and the Philippines from now on. We will maintain a North Pole address, of course, but our actual manufacturing operations will take place in Asia. These reduced labor costs will allow us to stay competitive while creating a positive work environment for child workers. Our new slogan is “Santa’s Workshop: Made for children by children.”

Yelf the Elf: What about our jobs?  You can’t just fire us.

Mr Mitt: I am glad you asked that question. Excellent question. We at Bayne Enterprises believe that the elf workers are the future of our company. We seek to maintain the high standards that the elves have achieved over the last 300 plus years. The quality and dedication of the elf labor force is second to none. Rest assured, not a single elf will lose his job. All elves will be relocated to China to train and instruct the new work force. Of course, to stay competitive, all pay will be halved and there will be no benefits packages available. All costs of transporting you , and if you desire your families, to China will be deducted from your new half-salary. And, of course, there will be regular work reviews which may lead to immediate termination if your work is found to be sub-par. Any other questions?

Pelf the Elf:   Sounds like a total screw job to me. We train new employees.  Half pay.  No benefits.  You can fire us at any time.  No pension. What’s in it for us?

Mr Mitt: Excellent question. I am glad you asked that question.  Bayne Enterprises takes great pride in providing investors with the best opportunities for growth and financial security. I would hope you would take great satisfaction is being part of a corporation that seeks to maximize investor profit while providing the best possible service.  Which reminds me. No more free toys to poor kids. That was an awful business model. All Christmas toy deliveries will be by subscription or prepayment only in the future.  Any other questions?

The Elves looked at each other and slowly trudged out of the workshop.

In the distance a semi pulled up to the fenced in reindeer yard. Donder and Blitzen glanced over and read the lettering on the side of the truck (yes, reindeer, unlike Fox news watchers, CAN read).  On it’s side was this lettering: Sideshow Sarah’s Reindeer Meat Company and Travelling Circus.

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Filed under Conservatives, Economy, neoconservatives, Politics, Taxes

Congressman Reed’s Misinformantion

I  receive “communications” from my representative in Congress, Mr. Reed (R-NY) , fairly regularly. Which is good. I  like to see what he is up to.  One of his jobs as a Congressman is to keep folks “informed”. I guess. Which is why I always look for information in his literature.  And looking for information in his mailings is like a Where’s Waldo problem.
Two Examples:
Example 1: A postcard he sent telling me he opposes Obamcare’s cuts to senior citizens, specifically cuts to Medicare. This sounds pretty awful, especially since I am soon to be joining the Medicare system. I certainly don’t want the government cutting MY BENEFIT!. I mean, we have to cut somewhere, but not ME!
The postcard had a pretty specific figure of $300 billion dollars. A very big cut to my benefits. Obama wants to cut MY BENEFITS  by $300,000,000,000. Not anything to sneeze at.
So I called Mr Reed’s office and talked to a very nice lady. I asked her what programs were being cut by Obamacare. $300 billion is a lot of programs that old folks are going to lose. She was pleasant enough and tried to answer, but couldn’t.  She explained that they had no SPECIFIC information on that topic. Took my name and phone number so the Congressman could get back to me with an answer. . Two weeks ago. Never heard from them since.
Example 2: An email arrived telling me how Mr. Reed was opposing Obamacare because of the new “full-time” work provision. According to the email, people who work 30 hours a week are now considered full time. And this is a travesty. An outrage.
It will hurt working families. They will make less money. So, Mr. Reed is sponsoring a bill to make the 40 hour work week the law of the land.
I called Mr Reed’s office. I talked to a very nice young man. Again, he was pleasant but could not answer some of my questions. Does Obamacare mean that people can work ONLY 30 hours ? Can’t they work more if they and their employer want them to? Wasn’t this “30 hour” provision put in so companies could not make someone work, say, 39 hours and then claim they were part-time, hence not covered by the law? What is the real problem here?
Once again, these basic, common sense questions could not be answered. I almost felt sorry for these staff members who are forced to try to explain these silly bits of misinformation put out by the Congressman.
Conclusion: It is one thing to be against the ACA for legitimate reasons.  And back  it up with evidence. It is quite another to spread misinformation and partial, selective  information to try to undermine the law. People deserve ACCURATE information. If Mr Reed opposes the ACA, as he does, then why stoop to a low level of shenanigans? He should be ashamed of these types of mailings. I am sure there are real weaknesses in the law, but when Congressmen spread misinformation about it, it leads one to question ANYTHING they say in their literature.

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Filed under ACA, Conservatives, healthcare, Neoconservative, neoconservatives, Obamacare, Politics, Republicans

Corporate Rights #3: The Hobby Lobby Fact Sidestep

A third aspect of the Hobby Lobby case bears mention. This is covered quite extensively in a March 21, 2014 article from Mother Jones (Are You there God? It’s Me, Hobby Lobby by Stephanie Mencimer). The article points out a couple of problems with the Green family claims. I call them Fact Sidesteps. (Picture a Vaudevillian with a cane shuffling off stage right)

Fact Sidestep 1. Hobby LObby claims as fact that it has longstanding, strong religious objections to covering IUDs and Plan B contraceptives. But, in fact,  Hobby Lobby HAD been covering these two contraceptives BEFORE the ACA was passed and implemented. The questions becomes: How sincere are the religious beliefs of this corporation/family? Did they have a new revelation from god AFTER the ACA was approved? Nice little shuffle.

Fact Sidestep 2: Hobby Lobby wants to deny covering these contraceptives as part of an overall health plan for their employees because they oppose these contraceptives. Yet, their own pension fund is INVESTED in these contraceptive manufacturers. Their argument could well be that since the pensions funds are part of a group, they had no choice but to invest in them as part of a group investment. So, they MAKE money off these companies (against their own religious beliefs) but refuse to SPEND money to cover these contraceptives. Interesting shuffle.

Fact Sidestep 3: Some commenters  (on Yahoo) have insisted that Hobby Lobby has no choice but to invest in these companies because they are part of a set groups of investments. Yet, at least since 1994 there have been specific funds for “anti-contraceptive” fundamentalist Christians to invest in. Evidently, the Greens did  not find those funds as profitable. Keep a shufflin’ right off stage.

All in all,  this corporate sidestep should be seen for what it is. Using a religious argument to attack the ACA…and save a few bucks . If “sincerely-held” beliefs require “actions”, the Green family/corporation fails the religious test. But, the Roberts court has not been one to let a little shuffling get in the way of the majority decisions.

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Filed under Politics