Saturday, March 17, 2018

West Virginia's Brave Won

The time is right for unions to organize and rebuild unions that will take the fight to the GOP anti-union/anti-worker machines. We should just look at how the West Virginia teachers won their fight for a wage increase. The teachers were organized, they planned every detail of their walkout in advanced to ensure the success of the walkout. The organizers worked with students’ parents and local businesses to ensure the walkout would not harm those in need. Daycare centers and meals were organized in advanced so the students who were dependent on the school lunches would not go without. This walkout was not just a single school, but the entire state. Had the organizer organized one school, the board of trustees would have beat the school employees back, but organizing the entire state, the sheer number of employees standing together against a single state entity, allowed the employees to win. If union workers follow the example of the West Virginia workers’ wildcat strike or what the old International Workers of the World (IWW) called a Wobble. The wildcat or Wobble takes the pressure off unions and keeps the unions from being sued. How did these West Virginia teachers win when so many walkout strikes have failed throughout the years? It was well planned, like a battle, as outlined in the book “Art of War.” To build support for a long strike there must be a good public relations program set up to take care of the workers and those effected by the strike, in this case the students, who depended on the school lunches. The organizers contacted churches, specially the Church of Nazarene, which gathered donations from stores, farmers, restaurants, strikers and other workers and dozens of volunteers. This kind of operation was organized in every county across the state of WV. It was a class of people with the courage to rise up, fight for what’s right and they won. It looks like Oklahoma is next up with its 41,000 teachers, and 36,000 have already signed up to do a wildcat strike. Oklahoma state workers and teachers will stand together. The entire state could someday turn into a countrywide walkout over inequity and inequality. If other workers are thinking about something like what WV did and Oklahoma is preparing to do, a good book to read and study is “Bread Upon the Waters” by Rose Pesotta. Other books worth reading and studying is “The Iron Heel” and “The Dream of Debs” by Jack London. Labor is back.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Class Divide

The class divide is creating a class warfare that is pitting your children against the rich children, who will have more money, better healthcare, education, food, housing, entertainment, vacations and finding a rich, well-educated mate than their poorer cohorts. If the rich should run afoul of the law, they can hire the best attorneys and not have to rely on court appointed attorneys. HBO had a documentary by Marc Levin called “Class Divide” which looked at this phenomenon with the perfect example — 10th Avenue and 26th Street — which showed an elite school, called Avenues, on one side of the street, and on the other side was the public housing development, Chelsea-Elliot Houses, home to 2,500 people, most from the working poor. Now, the “Used to be Middle Class” children and their families are facing a similar situation as the government looks to cut funding to education, Social Security, Medicare/Medicaid, unemployment, disability insurance, government aide programs, geography and housing assistance and affordability. The federal government is raising interest rates in both 2018 and 2019. The poor are already encumbered by huge debt. U.S. households will be forced to pay higher interest on their debt. The final straw that breaks the back of the Middle Class. Most troublesome is that this leaves people with less money for current spending, which could push the economy into a recession and put inequity on steroids and perpetuate social problems like substance abuse, obesity, diabetes and declining school performance, and much, much more. What we will end up with are two classes, and this will not turn out well, especially if there is no way for each class to have a government which will represent all of us and not just the very rich who can buy local, state and federal politicians who are destroying the poor’s last bastion of hope — unions. In favor of corporations, elected officials are passing right to work laws, weakening labor laws and eliminating members from having to pay dues, which are used for unions’ collective bargaining efforts. This issue is now awaiting a decision from the U.S. Supreme Court.

Saturday, March 3, 2018

If We Don't Stop the GOP

So, we let the GOP have a tax bill that gave the very rich at the top billions and us at the bottom very little. The tax gives away to the rich was a win-win for the GOP to pay back their large donors, and now they can say there is no money for safety net programs or returning the money to Social Security that Congress and presidents Lyndon B. Johnson, Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush “borrowed” or used as a piggy bank to fund their bad policies: Johnson and Bush the war, Reagan tax breaks for the wealthy who didn’t need it. They raided the program we paid for, and Medicare/Medicaid. Congress needs to pay the people back and with interest and then keep their hands off our money. The GOP likes to call Social Security and Medicare entitlement spending, but if you check your pay stub you’ll see the deductions for these programs and that we pay taxes on the Social Security as we receive it. The GOP also lie and say that these programs are the root of the worsening federal fiscal problems while ignoring the huge tax break it gave the richest 1 or 2 percent of the population. Giving the wealthiest in our country a tax break gives the GOP a two-fold plan, which is to give as much money to the rich while bankrupting our country, and thereby destroying the programs President Franklin D. Roosevelt established to protect the non-wealthy in this country. We know the GOP’s plan and if we, the 99 percent and unions, let them get away with this plan without a ‘do or die’ fight in the streets and the Hill, we will get just what the GOP wants. They say the 99 percent should not expect as much and we should adjust our lives and learn to live off the scraps of the very rich. They think we don’t need healthcare or Social Security because we can no longer work we should just die and that way they can keep the dead’s pay checks, pensions and save on healthcare costs, but then who will pay for the living 99 percent left behind?

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Even Monkeys Know Inequity Is Wrong

You cannot use the gross domestic product (GDP) as a barometer of how a country is doing as a whole, and the well being of the people. The GDP deals in averages and aggregates. Aggregates hide the nuances of inequality, which is one of its prime faults. The GDP looks at the stock market and unemployment to gauge what is good or bad, but unemployment, which is currently at 4.1 percent is not a true number as many people are working at gig jobs and being paid in cash just to survive while hoping for a full-time job with healthcare and a pension, which by today’s standards are a pipe dream. Ten years ago, the French president Nicolas Sarkozy wrote that the gap between reported well-being and people’s lives experience was creating a gulf of incomprehension between the expert certain his knowledge and the citizen whose experience of life is completely out of sync with the story told by data of the GDP. The gulf, Sarkozy put into words, summarizes the anger that is currently tearing so many societies apart is dangerous because the citizens end up believing that they are being deceived. Nothing is more destructive to a democracy as when its people lose trust in it. One might read about the experiment involving the capuchin monkeys and inequity. Two monkeys were in cages next to each other and given treats. The scientist gave one monkey a better treat than the second monkey, the second monkey, feeling violated, became irritated with the scientist and the inequality in treats. The monkeys sense of fairness supports the evolution of humans and our reactions to the violation of cooperation between our efforts on a job and the payoffs for our efforts. Wages have not kept up with inflation. The minimum wage, had it kept up, would be around $22 to $24 an hour today. With fewer jobs, we should be looking at new ways to support our capitalist system, like the universal basic income, Medicare for all, and free education, like the old G.I. Bill. To see a GDP looking good does not tell the true story. The GDP is out of date. It was invented in the U.S. in the 1930s, and even then some like Simon Kuznets, a Belarusian-American economist, had doubts about using the GDP when they counted financial speculation and armaments as positive outputs. Those are not the services that dominate a modern economy. It is the inequality that must be fixed or democracy will go away and replaces by what?Even Monkeys Knoe Inequality Is Wrong

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Tax Rich, Corporations & Commons For UBI

Had an enjoyable conservation not too long ago with a young stockbroker about solutions to income inequality and other ails afflicting our country. I advocate for universal basic income (UBI). A few years ago the call for a $15 minimum wage was called delusional, but now there are many places that are paying $15 an hour minimum wage or slow walking to the $15. Still, even if it was full-time work, it would only be an annual income of $31,000 a year. Just about enough to keep a person off the streets and get the basics, but, still, it is an incredible accomplishment by those who took to the streets to bring about this change. So, now it is time for another delusional fight to take place and that is for a UBI. Though there are a lot of areas to be worked out with the UBI, there are just as many good things to come from UBI. Some people say if people receive $1,500 to $2,000 a month, they would quit working, which has proven not to be the case within Alaska, the best example of UBI in action. Even if people did quit their jobs, it would open up jobs for others who want a better lifestyle, like owning a home, new car or the latest technology. Some who quit their jobs might like to own their own business or go back to school or find a better job that they enjoy and expect to stay in until they retire. Maybe now, one person in the family could stay home with their children, if they chose to, without creating a financial hardship and this too would open up another job. If this were to start a worker shortage, this would be good for workers because maybe the companies that hire part-time employees and pay them little with no benefits would have to up their game to find good employees. With UBI, there would be no homeless, more jobs, more cash in the capitalist system because about 75 percent of the people would be buying more durable goods, such as televisions, washers and dryers, cars, boats and house. The work force would be younger because the older people could afford to retire if they wanted, and not have to work until they’re 70 years old or die. The older workers with all their experience could rebuild our social infrastructure working with young people in volunteer positions with sports, fire, law, medical, education, and parks, to name a few, and even helping guide those who want to startup a businesses. For those who question how to pay for the UBI, it could come from corporate taxes, estate taxes, taxing the super rich and making corporations pay for the use of our Commons. So, let’s all be a little delusional and see where we are in two to three years on a UBI. There are backers of this, billionaires, like Mark Cuban and Nick Hanauer, see how a UBI will benefit individuals and the country as a whole. Ontario, Canada, is experimenting with UBI and other countries, as well.

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Unions At Mercy of U.S. Supreme Court

The U.S. Supreme Court has given to labor and it has taken from labor. In Feb.26, 2018, they will be taking from labor and their decisions will destroy labor’s membership and bankrupt unions financially. The Court could then allow workers who have paid union dues to seek refunds from union dues already paid, which would drive a stake into the heart of labor unions. After three tries, in 2012, 2014 and 2016, the high court is poised to reverse its own 40 year precedent and strike down the Fair Share Fees as unconstitutional. The 1977 ruling said workers did not have to pay for unions’ political activity. The verdict expected in June of this year would allow workers to pay nothing toward union dues, but still receive the union protections. This could force unions to have to raise union dues on those who remain or lose clout in states, such as California, New York, Illinois, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey, in the public workers, such as law enforcement, firefighters, teachers, government agency workers and other public employees. So, what are unions going to do? The best response is for all unions to go on strike and the others engage in sickouts or workers can just put their hands in their pockets. This is just starting and the GOP now smells blood. And from the unions we hear crickets. There’s no plan to fight back, in fact, most workers don’t even know what is going on and how it can effect their livelihoods and that of their families are at stake. Where is the unions counter message? The corporate-owned GOP is out there trashing unions and passing laws to degrade all the positive unions do for the workers and communities where they exists, but there’s no counter message. Why aren’t unions fighting back? Why haven’t they taken to the television and radio stations and news programs and mailers to get their message out and drum up support? Why are our unions so silent about this? Why are unions not trying to elect people like Bernie Sanders, who will fight for the people? The unions need a message, like universal healthcare, more unions, free education (like we used to have), a decent minimum wage, universal basic income, job safety, food safety—everything that matters to the working person and their families. Unions are the backbone of the working class and help all workers whether they are union or not. Have unions lost the will to fight for their rights? If so, why and how can this be changed before it’s too late? Time is running out for the argument for this case will be heard Feb. 26, and a decision by the end of June. There needs to be loud voices against this case otherwise we’ll be hearing the death knell for unions demise. “The labor movement did not diminish the strength of the nation but enlarged it. By raising the living standards of millions, labor miraculously created a market for industry and lifted the whole nation to undreamed of levels of production. Those who attack labor forget these simple truths ,but history remembers them,” Martin Luther King Jr.’s speech to the AFL-CIO on Dec. 11, 1961.

Monday, January 29, 2018

UBI New GI Bill

Will a universal basic income (UBI) work? One only has to look back at the GI Bill, which was put in place after World War II that established free college education for ex-military members and very low-interest rates on home loans. In fact, when I purchased my first home, I paid $40 down to cover closing costs and with a payment on a newly built three-bedroom, two-bathroom with a den, fire place 1,600 square foot home for $160 a month payment on $19,000 plus taxes and insurance. After about seven years, I sold the home for $48,000. This was my UBI and there are many more who got their middle class start by using the GI Bill, which even paid $350 a month to go to college three-quarters of the time.This made it possible for me to start a sheet metal shop, which twenty-nine years later provided me with a union pension. All of this was made possible with the GI Bill, which very closely resembles a UBI. Just think what $1,500 or $2,000 a month would do for everyone. Maybe they’d be able to parlay into college, a house, starting a business, and have time to volunteer to our social infrastructure, like schools, old folks homes, community organizations and special districts. I know this works because I did it while using the GI Bill. Now is the time for a UBI. Now, there are those who will say not everyone will work and that maybe true. Some will not work just like they don’t work now, but most will work and probably at gig jobs, part-time jobs and some at full-time work to fill the open spots by the ones who don’t work. Look at Alaska, despite receiving the equivalent of a UBI, most Alaskans still work. I have heard some ideas of $2,000 a month and also letting a person work for as much as $6,000 a year, which is only $30,000 a year. I believe they should be able to work for as much as they want. But still, a couple receiving the $2,000 UBI and making $6,000 a year times two is $60,000 annually. I think it should be $6,000 a month working and $2,000 in UBI benefits, which would greatly reduce the inequality this country now has while reinvigorating the capitalist systems, which would pull all of the HaveNots up to a very good standard of living, and the ones with just the $2,000 a month who don’t work would still have a roof over their heads and food on their plates. If they are part of a couple, they’d have $4,000 a month or $36,000 a year and be off the streets. Yes, there is a lot to workout, but there is support from the very rich tech companies and there’s actually a college course on UBI is being taught in Southern California.