Monday, November 6, 2017

Time to Get Angry

How much money do people really need? Is it decided by how you fit into the Have Nots, Have Littles and Used to Have or the Have More and Have Everything? If you are one of the Have Everything, you might think you need Balenciaga’s Triple S sneakers for $850. A pair or three houses, at least a jet and yacht and a fleet of cars for a start. Then there is the Have Mores. They are making between $150,000 to $2 million a year at least. They can send their children to a private school, ensuring they get a better education and can make as much or more money than their parents. And they, too, will be able to afford big houses, lots of cars, nice vacations, healthcare, and a good retirement. What will your children have? Then there are the Used to Haves, who are the old bitter people who voted for Trump. They once had the More, but have now lost it and now blame the government, but take all they can get. Then there are the Have Littles, who are like children with their faces up against the candy store window. They can see what they want and just about smell it, but they cannot touch it or afford it with their minimum wage jobs with probably only 30 hours a week or less with no healthcare, pensions or unions, but they are the backbone of every business and corporation, and make those businesses and corporations a lot of money from their labor. Then we have the Have Nots. These are the people who were just one or two pay checks away from the streets or one large event, like a medical emergency or accident and they start the spiral down, losing their living accommodations. Sooner or later they may turn to drugs and eventually have a run-in with the law. Why is this? Is it that the money is hoarded by the people at the top and not put to good use? Like starting a company with living-wage jobs and helping the workers get ahead, the workers who made the owners wealthy from their labor. Is it because of the wage inequality and lack of a living wage, like $15 to $24 an hour, which could take people off the streets, lessen crime and maybe even go to night school to better themselves. Money is the tool of capitalism. For it to work, capitalism is driven by about 77 percent of spending. In order for money, which is just a tool to work, the oligarchies must not sit on it and just play the stock market, spend it buying back shares of corporations and paying millions to top CEOs. If they keep doing what they are doing the system will fail and with it all democracies, and countries, not just the U.S., for their policy is eating their seed corn. Trump's tax plan is a gift to the wealthy and we get to pay for it in cuts to programs many of us depend on. A lot of people took advantage of the Afford Care Act. Gone. Tax breaks for adopting children, having children, special needs children and buying a home. Dust. They're coming after Medicare and Social Security. They're behavior and greed is not going to stop until we make them. It's time to get angry and fight back. First at the ballot box, and if necessary in the streets. In order for the workers to win, we must understand how things work. Then vote for the right people and support them and ensure they stay on track. At this time, the Have Nots are growing in numbers fast and when you are at the bottom, you have nothing to lose—and hungry people can get nasty. This is might be the time for universal basic income to help even things out.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Gilded Age Redux

The dreams the old International Workers of the World (IWW) could very well come true because of the capitalist attacks against workers worldwide. At this time, the French workers’ unions are under attack by President Macron, who is out to destroy unions. Then there is the Spanish government’s all out efforts to prevent the referendum on Catalonia’s independence, but 2.3 million people braved law enforcement attacks and voted for independence. The fight was lead by dockworkers, firefighters, public workers and most of all labor groups. Then we have the Kurds, who are fighting for an independent Kurdistan. The Kurds are 30 million strong and have no country to call home. The Kurdish struggle shows that it is possible to stand up to oppression and win. Poland has been slipping into an authoritarian rule for the last two years as the country’s government is cracking down and restricting people’s human rights and ignoring the European Union’s insistence that the government refrain from what it is doing to the people of Poland. This is what the capitalist rulers and Washington, D.C. fear the most that the Kurdish struggle will inspire workers and farmers to fight for their own interests in Puerto Rico and all other colonial rule. But the workers and their unions all over the world, like the UK, Russia, Ukraine, all of South America, and Canada are fighting the capitalist oligarchs, who want to do away with the minimum wage and unions, but with the Internet all workers now can exchange tactics and strategies, and even help with money. This is something the old IWW could only have dreamt of this in the 1900s. Now is the right time to stand up for a living wage, pensions, free education, and healthcare—and also good unions. Today, the U.S., especially under the Trump administration, has returned to the Gilded Age, the period between 1870 and 1900, when capitalists’ greed, rampant corruption, conspicuous consumption by the wealthy and illegal corporate dealings ruled the country. Mark Twain coined the term, “Gilded Age” to reflect that on the surface everything looked glittery and prosperous, but underneath the surface, corruption, scandal and greed was hurting people, if not killing them. Sound familiar?

Sunday, October 15, 2017

ALEC Using States to Block Wage Hikes

The fight for a living wage continues. Workers are asking for a minimum wage of at least $15 an hour, but in reality it should be $24 an hour had it kept up with inflation and CEOs exorbitant incomes. When workers finally get their local leaders to support a better wage, they then have to deal with a handful of states with conservative lawmakers who get ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council) to write wage preemption laws to block increasing the minimum wage. There are now four states with such laws. This template for states to block cities and counties from raising the minimum wage in their own communities is taking the voice and vote away from low-wage workers. In order to fight back, there needs to be unions and local lawmakers who should be incensed by what the states are doing in supporting the large food and retail corporations. The corporations don’t leave their profits in these cities, counties and even states. They just take from our coffers by forcing their employees to use government assistance programs and leave in their wake wage pollution. If there was a good living wage in these cities and counties, there would be more tax payer support systems. We need to elect good, honest people to the state government, who will support a living wage and people who will support workers at the local level of government and the workers need to keep up the fight and ask for union help. The unions can hold education classes on how to get this done and maybe even run the organizing of local leaders who will—in the long run—benefit by receiving jobs that pay a living wage, which keeps children in housing and in school. It is cheaper to pay up front than to try to clean up afterward when families are destroyed by drugs, divorce, crime and homelessness.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Support Our Canadian Union Brothers

Capitalist bosses standing on the shoulders of workers and pushing them into the quicksand of profits is just greed at the expense of the workers, which is just what is happening at to train engineer Tom Harding and train controller Richard Labrie in Canada. Both are union members of the United Steelworkers. They are being framed by their bosses in Ottawa for following orders, and when those orders resulted in a derailment, dumping 1.5 million gallons of crude oil, causing an explosion and fire that destroyed the town of Sherbrooke, Canada. Many in this area consider Harding a hero for risking his life to aid firefighters in moving a number of unexploded tankers thereby limiting the devastation. Transport Canada’s Minister of Transportation Denis Lebel ruled in 2012 that a train crew could be cut to just one engineer to increase profits while ignoring health and safety rules. Harding wanted to engage the breaks on each of the cars, he was overruled and told to engage them on the locomotive, but the air leaked out and there were no brakes to prevent the wreckage that ensued. Now the two men are facing 47 counts of criminal negligence causing death and life in prison. If you’re unable to attend the trial in Sherbrooke, Canada, you can show your solidarity by sending a message of support to Harding and Lebrie to USW Local 1976/Section locale 1976, 2360 De Lasalle, Suite 202, Montreal, OC Canada H1V 2L1, with copies to Thomas Walsh, Attorney, 165 Rue Wellington, N., Suite 310, Sherbrooke, QC Canada J1H 5B9 or email him at: thomaspwalsh@hotmail.com.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Unions & Dems: Reclaim Rural America

Rural America was seceded to the GOP by the Democrats, likewise the labor trades seceded the rural counties to non-union shops. In the old days, unions, in these rural areas, got bigger and bigger until they decided they could leave the rural counties' side, and compete in the large cities, foregoing smaller populated counties, which used to be union sanctuaries. This type of strategy is not working. Retreating never works. It is just like going into a fort or a castle, which sooner or later, the fortifications will be breached. All that is happening is just buying time and the Democrats and labor unions have both run out of time. It is time now for an offense and come out of the forts and castles and take back rural America. They, the labor and Democrats, should work together with all their resources combined, such as money and people power. If used wisely, they both could become relevant again in our rural countrysides. By attending all public meetings, using the time before each meeting to promote whatever is relevant to the Democrats or labor at the time, such as healthcare, $15 minimum wage, jobs, union support on jobs, and supporting people who we have elected. Sometimes, these board members need to be reminded not only who they work for, but also where the tax base comes from. The 99 percent have to retake their state’s government and local local government agencies, such as water boards, fire boards, school boards, city and county boards, and then take these people to the state government, and then take the best of these and run the for federal government positions. This is the strategy the Koch brothers and the Tea Party used and were successful at it. If we do this, only then will the 99 percent start to have their basic needs fulfilled in things like a living wage, free education, right to join a union, free healthcare, good pensions, or UBI (universal basic income) since workers are being replaced by automation and robots. UBI can be achieved by charging rent for our Commons. We need our elected people to deal with climate change and stop going to war in a pathetic attempt to look macho and make their corporate cronies lots of money. This all can be done if we have the will and elect the right people.

Friday, September 29, 2017

Puerto Rico's Opportunity

Some times when bad things happen it is for the best in the long run. Once when working with my tools as a union sheet metal worker, my tools were stolen. My co-worker told me it was the best thing for me because my tools were so old and outdated, basically crap. Fortunately for me, my insurance covered the cost for new tools. Two back-to-back hurricanes, Irma and Maria, decimated Puerto Rico, a U.S. territory, could be a good thing in the long run. Puerto Rico’s infrastructure was crap before the hurricanes, but the wreckage gives it an opportunity to rebuild it in a stronger, more efficient way. The government owns the utilities, such as roads, electrical grid, schools, and water and sewer systems, and allowed the infrastructure to become so fragile by underfunding since 2006. The government cut spending by 12 percent, laid off one quarter of the government work force, jacked-up sales taxes ad reduced pensions. With these layoffs, there’s no one to run the sewage system, and none of the remaining workers know how to run the operation. The medical program funds are running out of money. This is the result of capitalists plundering Puerto Rico. The U.S. government has plundered this country’s resources and the wealth created by the island workers is going to fill the coffers of the U.S. capitalists since wrestling control of the island from Spain in 1898, as a result the average annual income in Puerto Rico is less than half that of Mississippi, the poorest state in the U.S. So now that there is nothing left, Puerto Rico will start over with a new infrastructure, and will have to be rebuilt for the world is watching. The time, we must not let the vultures plunder Puerto Rico again. We must stop the greedy capitalists continue taking the pensions away the country’s workers and giving the pensions to the government’s general fund, instead of going after the wealthy/investors to pay a greater sum to keep the government going. There is a lot of work to be done and Puerto Rico should get just as much help as Texas ad Florida is getting in their clean-up and rebuilding after their hurricane damage.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Unions--Learn From Our Mistakes

Union leaders who jumped the gun on the 2016 election thinking the Democrats and Hillary Clinton would win and take charge of the U.S. Supreme Court will now pay for their very bad decision. Also, the leaders of some of the union leaders did not understand the feelings of their members on where their support lay, which was with Bernie Sanders. Labor went to court with three cases on labor arbitration agreements, which now will lose in the right-leaning Supreme Court and end up being the law of the land. In another case, the Court will decide whether public employee unions can collect fees from non-union members. If we lose this case, we can kiss the relevancy of labor unions goodbye. The law will bankrupt the unions and the loss of union membership will be catastrophic. These Court cases will be the Justice Department vs the National Labor Relation Board, which is a federal agency, will oppose each other in Court. U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said, this will be a first in her 25 years on the court and it looks like a five to four victory for the employers, and their non-union businesses. This will radically tilt the landscape in favor of corporations if workers lose here. This was just such a bad decision on labor’s part and will put labor behind for the next ten years or until we are smart enough to elect labor friendly people. What we need to remember is that the U.S. Supreme Court can giveth and taketh away. We must never let our guard down again by being overly confident. This has cost us dearly. The anti-union Republicans take a case to court, if they lose in one court they appeal to the next and ask the court to pass on judgment so the case can get to the Supreme Court and become law of the land. This means another lesson we need to learn is to not take a case to the Court until you have a good chance to win. If you lose, it can be forever (Law of the Land).