Sunday, September 24, 2017

When Will the Greed Stop?

Where have all the jobs that pay a living wage gone? We know that greed has sent a lot of jobs to countries that accept cheap wages for their workers and to the non-union southern states. Now we are seeing robots changing the employment landscape and eliminating jobs in factories. Even with all this, there were still the brick and mortar jobs selling the cheaply made products from overseas. Now these jobs are going by the wayside with Amazon and Walmart companies investing in E-commerce. This has started a retail apocalypse on thousands of mall-based stores shutting down. JC Penney’s 138 stores, Sears 150 stores, Kmart 3,500 stores. Then the Kroger company, the largest grocery store chain, sales plummeted 25 percent erasing more than $7 billion in value. These jobs will go to $7.25 an hour minimum wage and workers will be hired by Amazon for warehouse jobs. These jobs are in a cutthroat competition and is based on keeping out unions at all costs. What these workers at Walmart and Amazon need more than anything else is to be unionized, to be able to organize and to defend themselves and advance their own interests against the boss. The head of Amazon, Jeff Bezos, is one of the richest people in the world. His fortune is more than $90 billion, which mean, by screwing over the workers even more, he can and probably will become the first trillionaire. The Waltons of Walmart are notorious for underpaying their employees and forcing them to apply for government benefits so Walmart doesn’t have to pay a living wage. When is this greed going to stop? Amazon and Walmart now have patents to have flying warehouses, which can hover at 500 feet over cities and dispatch a fleet of drones to deliver orders. Amazon’s Mothership is like a blimp. Walmart’s will hover at 45,000 feet and send out drones, as well. Then, we are facing more jobs losses in the trucking and taxi cab industry. Self-driving vehicles are eliminating the need for humans.  When this happens, the only job left will be going into the service industry, gig jobs or starting a business. There will not be a way to make a living with just one job. What will happen to the capitalist system? There has to be money going around to support even Amazon or Walmart’s blimps. Will we institute a universal basic income (UBI) system? Or will people just fight each other and starve and die off in this fight? With these developments, climate change and war, maybe we can see the future as no jobs, floods, stronger hurricanes, earthquakes, no healthcare or housing, do we still have time to turn things around?  The very rich are already taking care of themselves with their bunkers, and they think we, the 99 percent, don’t know and a lot don’t know so maybe the rich are smarter than the 99 percent. Maybe this is why there are the Have Nots. We just are not as smart or ruthless as the rich or maybe we’re just not paying attention or watching Fox News or listening to corporate propaganda  and not voting in our best interest and, instead, falling for the lies and manipulation of the wrong people.

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Fighting Amongst Ourselves

Anger and distrust is destroying the workers, both unionized and non-union. Even some unions are split, and some unions are fighting each other, which then makes the non-union workers distrust our unions even more. Our anger is misdirected by intention. If the money people can keep us fighting amongst ourselves then we won't see how they are screwing us over. This distrust started in the U.S. and worldwide with the anti-union line of Great Britain’s Margaret Thatcher government along with the anti-union policies of Ronald Reagan's administration. But the assault actually began in the late 1940s, and escalated in the late 1970s, and has gotten progressively worse since 1981 until now. Polls have revealed some dissatisfaction on the part of our members and nonmembers alike with the way unions are run and governed. Unions are doing a poor job of presenting their members and giving members a say in how a union should operate and not telling union members what the unions are doing. This was happening throughout New Zealand, Great Britain, and the U.S. There are things union leaders should be looking at to fix the dissatisfaction. Question how it is the workers vote? Most blue collar workers vote for labor supporters, and most white collar voters overwhelmingly vote for conservative people, who protect their monied interests. This is a union killing vote and needs to change. Unions should address the culture of greed, the inhumane treatment of workers, the exploitation of government benefits by corporations to protect their profits by paying their workers as little as possible, and the attack on the American way of life. So how did this happen? Were we victims of our own success? Did the rise of the welfare state and the expansion of government programs and services reduced the appeal of unionism by generalizing the benefits that attracted workers to unions in the past. Let’s go back to why unions were formed in the first place. It started by imposing hardships on workers who came from agrarian-type of work to the industrialization type of lifestyle. Great Britain, where the industrial revolution began was the first country to see the birth of a labor movement. The U.S. was next. Both countries started unions about 1853, in the U.S. was Typographical Union. The workers were fighting for shorter hours, wages, and safety. These workers, who had just come from farms to factories where wages were needed for workers were living at the margins of existence. The workers have come full circle and today it is all about wages and inequality of lifestyles, and this is what will bring unions back to power—wages, healthcare, pensions, housing, and education. The fight in 1853 began because of wages, and here we are again fighting for wages in 2017. It should be the rights of all workers to earn a minimum of $18 to $24 an hour. The ALF/CIO needs this to be.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Why Do CEO Deserve Your Raise

While working, you’re selling your life one hour at a time. What is an hour of your life worth? Remember you can never get that hour back, it is gone forever. When you set a price for your hour of life, how do you do it? Are you represented by a union? Or do you just let someone else set the price for your labor? However it is done, it is not working for you or any of the other workers. Nearly one out of every five workers is in a part-time job. Two-thirds are living pay check to pay check. Most are working more hours than they worked decades ago with less vacation or sick leave days. The standard explanation for why all of this has come about is that workers are no longer worth as much as they were before the digital technology boom and globalization. So, they must now settle for lower wages and less security. But top executives of large corporations wage have gone up twenty times that of the workers to three-hundred times today. So who sets the one hour rate? Last year, Wall Street executives’ bonus pool alone was larger than the annual year-round earnings of all 3.3 million American workers working full-time jobs at or below the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour. So, essentially, the CEOs of corporations got our raises. Why is this happening? Is it because of the increasing ability of the moneyed interests to alter the system for their own benefit and the demolishing of the Trade Unions—turning workers workers into contract workers and gig job workers. We, workers, have let the Wall Street corporations set our worth as workers. We, workers, let this happen by not fighting harder for our unions, by believing the rhetoric fed to them by the corporate media, and voting GOP and Blue Dog Democrats, who put Wall Street over the working class. If we had kept our political and economic clout, we would have healthcare for all, free college and a minimum wage that kept up with inflation, like other civilized countries, including Sweden, Iceland, Finland, Germany, Italy—the list goes on, and we’re supposed to be the greatest country in the world. We've been sold the idea of the American Dream of becoming rich, if we just work hard with the American Work Ethic, but how many of us are actually realizing this dream? Few because the system is rigged against us: we don't have loopholes, we don't have tax breaks, and we don't have corporate welfare (making taxpayers makeup the difference for the low wages paid to most workers, who end up needing public assistance, like Walmart does). How do we go about getting what is right for us workers? Vote the right way, for candidates who put the people ahead of Wall Street, and not candidates like our local California Assemblyman Brian Dahle, who said workers don’t deserve a minimum wage. Who’s side do you think he’s on? Workers need to fight for a fair and equitable minimum wage. We need to fight for and support our unions, and don’t sell your life away one hour at a time for $7.25. The minimum wage should be between $18 to $24 an hour, and if this were to happen, you could see the workers making more than their parents and moving out of their parents basements. What is your life worth? Will you just give it away to make someone else rich while getting next to nothing? Happy Labor Day!

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Will GOP Pass Medicare For All?

The race for single-payer healthcare or Medicare For All it will be between the Bernie Sanders people, The GOP and the corporate Democratic Party. If the GOP wants to keep their seats in the Senate and Congress, they need something big, like healthcare that the people will be pleased with. The GOP is desperate, they have a loser of a president and they have failed to achieve any meaningful legislation. The GOP has said they want to replace the Affordable Care Act aka Obamacare since it was passed with something better, but their definition of better so far was deadly for many. They just need to make healthcare for all ages and if they do this they will keep power for a long time. The U.S. pays more in healthcare than Italy, Britain, Japan, Australia, France, Canada, Sweden, Germany and Switzerland, and many others. Our politicians have sold us out to the highest bidder, the insurance companies, and we need to make them pay for putting their pockets before our health. It is imperative that we Bernie supporters and progressives beat the GOP and corporate Democrats, if we don’t they win. If the GOP beats us to passing healthcare, there will be no free education, no minimum wage increase to reflect inflation, the demise of unions, climate change will take a backseat and women’s right, LGBTQ rights, Civil Rights will go by the wayside. The key is who passes healthcare for all first, gets the kingdom. Understand, this is a race. What’s left of the middle class cannot afford to lose this race. If the GOP pulls this off, it will mean more states going Republican, and more right to work states. The big concern is they are close to enlisting enough states to convene a Constitutional Convention, to bring about changes that benefit the GOP. They already have the U.S. Supreme Court stacked in their favor. This could happen very fast, and how could the progressive Democrats or Bernie people speak out against Medicare For All and win future elections? We, the Bernie people, must be first and hope the corporate Democrats pull their collective heads out of the sand and see what can and will happen if they don’t help us. Right now the GOP is boxed in a corner and like caged animals, they will do anything to get out from under the shit pile they’ve made. They will spin their healthcare as following in the footsteps of President Franklin D. Roosevelt. This is the easiest way for the GOP to fix their mess and it will happen. We must do this yesterday.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Help Yourself

What can the young and retirees do to help themselves, their country and the world? First, they need to look at what would be good for them in their lives versus what they are told by talking heads on television, radio and the so-called free press. Some newer newspapers and magazines are still good, but one must look at who owns the media as a whole. Now, many of the young are still going to school, living in the “basement” of their parents’ home or couch surfing. Some are unpaid gamers and the workers, young and old alike, who are working for minimum wage, some at two or three jobs or at gig jobs; and then there are the retirees on Social Security. Capitalism is alive and well for those who have money. What would make life a little better for us? How about $15 to $24 an hour minimum wage, free education, healthcare for all, higher Social Security, and universal basic insurance. Are these things worth fighting for? If so, how and where do you start? Some people are working for non-profits, which tend to be funded either through government grants or donations from very rich people, such people don’t want you to do radical work to better your self or those you serve. The capitalist system as it is now, works just one for them. A 501c3 organization is legally hampered from participating in politics by supporting candidates or lobbying. All of this is by design. People work for non-profits and want to change the world are set up specifically not to be able to do that. If you work for a non-profit or are a minimum wage gamer, school student, gig worker, retired person, where can you work and maybe be able to make a living, and have the time or resources plus the education to work on making the change. You may want to look to a union job, construction, nursing, firefighter, or even find the lowest paying union job or work for free in supporting them in their walkouts, and the rest of the unions by supporting them. You will learn why unions are necessary, and some unions will pay for your help. Check with all the unions and tell them you believe in them and want to help. Some unions may even send you for training, especially during elections. No one will pay you to be a revolutionary, but maybe a pittance could make it worth your effort. And for retirees on Social Security, most unions will feed people at rallies, trainings, meetings or walking precincts. This will help both you and the unions, and be good exercise while making new friends. So, when you feel overwhelmed by all the bad news and don’t know what to do, take heart we’ve been through this before. Just get out and do something and start changing things for the better and you will feel better. Remember, if we can keep pouring water in the well of good will, soon the bucket of goodwill will float to the top and we all can get a drink of the good life just like the 1 percent everyday.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Inequality is Ruining America

In America today, we have the Haves and the Have Nots, which is the very rich and the poor. What is missing is the middle, which is the group that makes it all work. They are the spenders who pay taxes, raise families. They are the supporters of the very rich and the supporters of the poor. This support system has worked very well until the very rich gets greedier and begins hoarding all the cash and cutting out the middle class with inequality. Inequality is done in many ways. Some is through laws enacted that shut down unions. This defund unions, but also stops worker training apprenticeship programs the unions provide. Shutting down these programs helps to turn our country into a wasteland of poverty. With the power concentrated at the top, democracy cannot thrive. This happened in the Guilded Age at the end of the 19th century. Now it is happening today. America cannot ever be great again until there is a large middle class with good wages, healthcare, free education, and good pensions. If we keep the extreme inequality, it will be the breeding ground of demagogues. Our country, at this time, has become a billionaires republic. Just look at who our president is and most of his cabinet are, and if they are not billionaires, they are retired generals. This is a perfect storm for disaster. It didn’t just start with Trump, this has been a long time in the making and both political parties are responsible. We are at the cusp of the GOP finally destroying Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal, Social Security, and with the help of the 1947 Taft-Hartley Act, which has cleared the path for long-term de-unionization. Then a new aggressive business lobby worked in the 1970s and ‘80s to break unions and drive down tax rates for themselves. Then the Democrats built alliances with Wall Street. Unequal economic is the enemy of political democracy so inequality must change or the class struggle can turn into a political or military conflict and law enforcement are and will be the same as the military. We’ve seen this before and they will have the reserve National Guard. Cops are already dressing like the military and have a lot of the same equipment. How will this end? At this time, I would say the very rich oligarchs are winning. We must understand where we have been, how we got here, the whos and the whys. There are good books to read that can educate you on these topics. One such book is, Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty-first Century.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

They're Coming After Us

All workers in the U.S need to know what the American Legislative Exchange Council (A.L.E.C.) is and what it is up to. This group is funded and put together by the right wing, anti-union people, like the Koch brothers. Its mission is to write legislations so state governments can pass into law. If that wasn’t even to deal with, this same group of libertarian oligarchs and other greedy rich people have formed a new group called American City County Exchange (ACCE) to write legislation for counties and cities to pass into law. The legislation is written entities that used to be nonpartisan municipal governments. This is to counter the National League of Cities, which is the voice of cities and counties. Some of the legislation the ACCE is putting out is to end the automatic deduction of union dues from paychecks, which is a precursor to a state becoming a right to work state, and that means the right to work for less. The ACCE distributes model legislation on everything from taxpayer bill of rights that would require a super majority to raise taxes to measures requiring that cities explore all available materials to build sewer pipelines. This is funded by corporate lobbyists, who work for PVC pipe associations. They also fight against $15 an hour minimum wage. The ACCE could break all city-county fire and law enforcement unions so all workers must now, more than ever, watch their city managers and county chief executive officers, and who gets elected to the city councils and board of supervisors. Governments closest to the people should be given the most power and if we lose this it will be the death knell for unions. They will use that knell by driving it through the hearts of union workers, which will drive all wages down. So all workers need to know what A.L.E.C. and ACCE means and watch for their legislations to pop up in council and supervisor meetings. Unions need to educate their people and all labor councils should have a union rep at all city council meetings and board of supervisor meetings. They should have the agendas e-mailed to them so they can study them, looking for A.L.E.C. and ACCE legislation. The reps should report back to the labor councils’ meetings so all are informed. Also, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which teamed up with A.L.E.C. and ACCE to break unions and dismantle public employee pensions between 2011 and 2012. Twenty-nine states adopted their legislation that cut pension benefits. Wake up union workers and not for your good and that of your families. A.L.E.C., ACCE, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce are looking out for their own interests so it’s up to you to take care of your own interests.