Friday, January 12, 2018

UBI, Commons & Gig Jobs

Now that the $15 an hour minimum wage has legs, we should start the fight for how people have little chance to find a lucrative job that will last their entire working life and end with a pension and healthcare. The manufacturing jobs are either relocated to another country or just about to be eliminated by machines or robots. Retail is going by the wayside as the brick and mortar stores are replaced by online shopping. What’s left are tech jobs, service jobs, and the best—building trade jobs, which need to be union with their own healthcare, pensions and their own four-to-five-year paid training programs. The unions and workers who support them now need to fight for Project Labor Agreements on all government projects. The union workers also need to vote for leaders who will support unions and the unions need to organize all non-union trades. Also, we need to support non-labor incomes, like the Universal Basic Income (UBI) and get behind corporations paying rent for our Commons. When the corporations damage our environment, like they have in the past—air pollution, oil spills, toxic dumping—we are all impacted so remember this when the pundits on Fox, Limbaugh, Beck, etc, begin the crusade to convince you paying for the Commons is a bad idea. If people do not understand this, they should read, “With Liberty and Dividends For All” by Peter Barnes. They should also read, “Rights of Man” by Thomas Paine. The workers who have the best chance to survive are the trades, healthcare, education, tech, first responders, law enforcement, and firefighters. Even these jobs will probably be lessened by tech and robots. Labor-type manufacturing will not be back. Coal mining will not be back. Oil work will go. There is only so much government work to do because the automation will take over the humans’ jobs. It’s hard to believe, but Fox news commentators Bill O’Reilly and Lou Dobbs agree with paying for the Commons. O’Reilly said, “It’s my contention that we, the people, own the gas and oil discovered in America. It is our land and the government administered it in our name—land and water are the domain of we, the people.” Dobbs said, “The oil that we’re talking about belongs to us, as you said. In Alaska, there’s a perfect model for what we should do as a nation. We should have—let’s call it ‘American Trust.’ Have the oil companies put their fees into that trust not to be touched by the Treasury Department or any other agency, but for investment on behalf of the American people. A couple of things then happen. One, it reminds everyone whose oil this is. And, it even puts a little money, a dollar sign on what it’s worth to be a citizen.” This fund could be paid out as dividends and could be connected to the Social Security system, which is already in place—UBI plus Social Security plus gig jobs (temporary jobs) and people might be able to survive. One only needs to look at Trump and the GOP’s recently passed tax bill, which will make America the world’s most unequal society, and as author Thomas Piketty says this tax bill will turbocharge America’s inequality, making it more of a “rentier society.” The days of children doing better than their parents are pretty much over. Children born today in poverty have fewer opportunities to make it out of their situation. UBI and compensation for our Commons are ways to counteract the devastating inequality.

Monday, January 8, 2018

It's Time For An Old Concept

A Universal Basic Income (UBI) and rent for our Commons are ways to provide for the working class, who are losing their jobs to automation. With robots and wage inequality, this will be a disaster for the capitalist system as we know it. There will be no cash for the spenders who support the capitalist system by around 77 percent in spending. This can be overcome by non-labor income just like the 1 percent gets their income from dividends and property. Non-labor income in the form of UBI could be paid for by charging rent for our Commons, such as air, water, wind, sun, ecosystem, and minerals. Then there are the human-made technology, legal, roads, dams and bridges. All things our taxes pay for, which makes money for corporations. Some of these are artificial or acquired property and the invention of people. Education will not cure inequality or create more jobs, in fact, it will invent things which will end jobs. Income fell 30 percent since 1970. That was the time when one person could provide for his whole family, house, car, education, and entertainment. Now it takes two people to just to survive today with little healthcare and no pension. The middle class is the group sandwiched in between the lap of luxury and the yaw of poverty. These people could be the ones who would benefit the most from a UBI. They would probably still work at gig jobs and some UBI plans would allow them to make $6,000 a year and still keep their UBI. There are at this time, countries experimenting with some type of UBI or a combination of it and so far the results are positive. Jobs are going away. The country of China wants to replace all workers with robots. Apple’s goal is to hire 1 million robots; Dell-Hewlett Packard, Google and Amazon all want to have driverless cars and trucks, which will put drivers, both cab and freight, out of work. The same goes for FedEx and UPS drivers. The job loss goes on and on until there is very little left. What happens then is millions of people find themselves with no way to feed their families. This is the time to embrace a UBI and start charging rent for our Commons. Another thing to consider is that maybe if corporations had to pay for the use of these Commons, maybe they’d adopt more eco-friendly practices. Charging for the Commons is not welfare, but rent to use the Commons that belong to and is owed to all of us. Instituting a UBI is not a new concept. Back in the 1500s, England’s Johannes Ludovicus Vives is credited with coming up with the UBI concept, and his friend Thomas More wrote a book, “Utopia”, outlining the merits of UBI. In the U.S., one of the Founding Fathers, Thomas Paine, proposed the idea, but he called it “citizen’s dividends” in his book, “Agrarian Justice.” Giving citizens a UBI may very well save the capitalist system as we know it, plus retain workers, who will be needed in the future for the gig jobs.

Friday, December 22, 2017

Will We Or France Revolt First?

Just watch what is happening in France to understand what is going to happen in the U.S. France’s president, Emmanuel Macron, sold himself as a radical democrat for the people, but he is governing like a monarchy. He has culled the ranks of local authorities, slashed local budgets, and replaced the housing tax that funds local government with a promise of a block grant. French history teaches that when a monarch oppresses the people, the people revolt. France’s mayors gathered for a congress in Paris last week. They bristled at being labeled spendthrifts and set themselves in opposition to Macron. They will find allies in workers’ unions and the media, since Macron hasn’t held press conference since his inauguration. This is just some of the things that are happening in the U.S. Our people were promised things by our new occupant of the White House is now acting like a monarch. A lot of the people who voted for him are starting to see just what they really voted for and it was not job creation or rebuilding our infrastructure or draining the swamp or making America great again or the many, many other lies he has promised. His promises were about gaining power and ensuring he and his rich “friends” (who aren’t so much friends as they are people he is indebted to) profit from his tenure in politics at the people’s expense. The inequality of the people, which breeds homelessness, substance abuse, no healthcare, pensions and the threats to our Social Security and Medicare, raising retirement to age seventy, and taking tips away from wait staff so owners can decide how they are distributed. We are heading into a revolt. We are just waiting for the right person or persons, and the right tipping point. Will it be France or the U.S. who will revolt first? The tipping point here could be the scam of a tax plan and the attack on unions. But, can we still hit the streets without going to jail? There smells like a ploy is underway. Prosecutors in Washington, D.C., brought charges against inaugural protesters, claiming these protesters were violent and destroyed property; however, they had little or no proof these particular protesters did the violence or destruction. The jury acquitted six of the protesters, but 188 are still to be tried. What smells back is that, given this administration, antagonizers can infiltrate the peaceful protests and do damage that the others will pay for and ultimately scare people away from protests, and against stifling descent.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Constitutional Convention

Yes, we, today, are smart enough to rethink our Constitution and should not be afraid to do it. To change our Constitution, 34 states must vote to hold a national convention. To amend the Constitution, it takes 38 of the states to ratify the changes. There are many things that should be looked at—good or bad. The bad things include a long obsession by the conservative movement for a so-called balanced budget amendment. This would make the government powerless to borrow its way out of a recession. The government would have to cut spending at the very moment it was most needed. The cuts would most likely be made to benefit programs instead of raising taxes on the wealthiest and eliminating the inheritance tax. The effort to change the Constitution is being funded by the Koch brothers, Coors, DeVos and the Walton families, who produce op-eds and other positive-sounding propaganda that touts the need for such a convention. At this time, 29 states have voted to a hold a Constitutional convention. Only five states are needed to reach the magic number of 34. Now what might be very good for the 99 percent maybe the abolition of the Electoral College, which was originally designed to bolster the power of the slaveholders. The Electoral College now just acts like a political life support for the outdated racial ideological descendants. The convention might also come to an agreement on term limits for U.S. Supreme Court justices. Why should a president be able to appoint justices who shape the life of a nation to a particular political ideology for many years after they have left the bench? Some think an eighteen-year-nonreturnable term, which would see a new justice every other year. Using term limits could restore some sanity to the U.S. Supreme Court delation process. Other issues could be raised, such as the right to healthcare, education, housing, the right to vote, minimum wage based on cost of living, and implementing a universal basic income. To have people selected for the convention, we could use a lottery to select a few hundred Americans. This is just some things to think about. It has been 156 years since the Constitution was adopted. Maybe we need to reboot and tune up some things.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Where Is This Country Headed?

Today, we are still fighting for a living wage at a minimum of $15 an hour, when, in fact, it should be $24 an hour had it kept up with inflation. This fight has been going on for a very long time, and nothing seems to change. In 1905—a 112 years ago—the International Workers of the World (IWW also known as the Wobblies) held a convention in Chicago to lay the groundwork for one big union. IWW members were the “shock troops” of labor. Their prime purpose was to make the first breaches in the entrenched industry. They fought and won the free speech fights so they could continue to educate the workers on what should be their right to a safe work place, fair pay and reasonable work hours. Some died exercising this right. These Wobblies traveled the country in search of work, as timber fallers or on farms (they were known as fruit tramps). Many worked to unionize the textile workers, long before the New York Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire in 1911. Here in 2017, we are still fighting for full-time work, along with pensions and healthcare. Retirees, and people forced into retirement, who are finding their pensions or Social Security isn’t keeping up with the cost of living (inflation) are now in the same position as the old IWW workers. The IWW used to hop railroad cars or walk the country in search of work. Today, people, if they’re lucky, travel the country in travel trailers, motorhomes, vans or tents. These people are called “workampers” (pronounced work campers), “van dwellers,” or “rubber tramps.” Noticed how these people, who are trying to make a living are tagged with condescending descriptions? They chase short-term gig jobs at farms, but mostly at warehouses, like Amazon, which hire workampers through temp agencies, especially during the holiday season, mainly Christmas. This has been described by workers as backbreaking work with no safety nets in place, like workers’ compensation or healthcare. These workers are mostly white (which explains the angry white voters, political pundits talk about—voters so angry with the establishment they vote against their own self-interests). Many of these workers are still lucky to have some kind of roof over their heads, food and can make enough money for fuel to get to the next gig job. The sad thing is, there is no end in sight in the search for the next gig job, except maybe death. There is no retirement, no healthcare, no savings, and when their vehicle breaks down, there’s no money to fix it or if their body becomes sick, there’s no money for a cure. Is this what millions of our workers get to look forward to? What happened? Did we vote the wrong people into office? Did we help break the labor unions by voting these people in? Did workers experience some bad luck along the way? Did we get sick or did we make some bad decisions in our life? Or was it some or all of the above? Doesn’t really matter, we are human beings and this is still the richest country in the world were it not for the greedy and selfish who have forced us into these conditions yet again. Living conditions could be and should be so much better, but it’s up to us. We have to run for office at any level, or listen to, research and question the candidates and vote otherwise we will continue this path towards the despair that Charles Dickens wrote about in 1838 in Oliver Twist or in 1843 in A Christmas Carol—we’re better than to allow this.

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?