Friday, March 31, 2006

Published on Wednesday, March 29, 2006 by
Today's Immigration Battle - Corporatists vs. Racists (and Labor is Left Behind)

by Thom Hartmann

The corporatist Republicans ("amnesty!") are fighting with the racist Republicans ("fence!"), and it provides an opportunity for progressives to step forward with a clear solution to the immigration problem facing America.

Both the corporatists and the racists are fond of the mantra, "There are some jobs Americans won't do." It's a lie.
Americans will do virtually any job if they're paid a decent wage. This isn't about immigration - it's about economics. Industry and agriculture won't collapse without illegal labor, but the middle class is being crushed by it.
The reason why thirty years ago United Farm Workers' Union (UFW) founder Caesar Chávez fought against illegal immigration, and the UFW turned in illegals during his tenure as president, was because Chávez, like progressives since the 1870s, understood the simple reality that labor rises and falls in price as a function of availability.

As Wikipedia notes: "In 1969, Chávez and members of the UFW marched through the Imperial and Coachella Valley to the border of Mexico to protest growers' use of illegal aliens as temporary replacement workers during a strike. Joining him on the march were both the Reverend Ralph Abernathy and U.S. Senator Walter Mondale. Chávez and the UFW would often report suspected illegal aliens who served as temporary replacement workers as well as who refused to unionize to the INS."
Working Americans have always known this simple equation: More workers, lower wages. Fewer workers, higher wages.

Progressives fought - and many lost their lives in the battle - to limit the pool of "labor hours" available to the Robber Barons from the 1870s through the 1930s and thus created the modern middle class. They limited labor-hours by pushing for the 50-hour week and the 10-hour day (and then later the 40-hour week and the 8-hour day). They limited labor-hours by pushing for laws against child labor (which competed with adult labor). They limited labor-hours by working for passage of the 1935 Wagner Act that provided for union shops. (Select for full story)

While I do not agree with broad stroking conservatives who are concerned about immigration as racist or corporatist, I do find that this article is informative and useful in pointing out how labor has struggled to avoid work force saturation. --Van

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

A Limited Labor Force is a Strong Labor Force

The struggle for labor rights in the United States has been less of a struggle for equality and more of a struggle for limitation; a limitation of workforce. It distresses me how little progressives know or remember about the labor movement in the United States. The struggle, the fight for a higher living standard, was aimed at limiting the amount of workers in the job market. This has always been the goal of labor. Although Mary Harris Jones (Mother Jones) raised awareness about deplorable working conditions of children, the momentum behind the child labor laws was to limit the amount of workers in the market. An excessive workforce is a benefit to managment, not the worker. A limited work force will push the wages up and improve the standard of living for those who toil for the profit of the business owner. It's the simple law of supply and demand; as there are less workers in the work force the pay is high; as there are more workers in a work force, the pay is lowered. A work force flooded with cheap labor is precisely what the business community desires. A flooded workforce makes a strike, the only real negotiation that a worker owns, very difficult to organize. Who would strike while there are 10 others waiting to take your job for lower pay? A strike is self defeating without a job to return to. A work force brimming with cheap labor pushes wages down and increases worker insecurity. If there are 10 people desperate for the same job, the employer can, and should, lower the wage to benefit his bottom line - profit.

Caesar Chavez , the founder of the United Farm Workers of America and recipient of the Presidental Medal of Freedom, was acutely aware of this fact and took harsh measures against a fluid labor market. Ruben Navarette Jr. writes in the San-Diego Union Tribune, “Despite the fact that Chávez is these days revered among Mexican-American activists, the labor leader in his day was no more tolerant of illegal immigration than the Arizona Minutemen are now. Worried that the hiring of illegal immigrants drove down wages, Chávez – according to numerous historical accounts – instructed union members to call the Immigration and Naturalization Service to report the presence of illegal immigrants in the fields and demand that the agency deport them. UFW officials were even known to picket INS offices to demand a crackdown on illegal immigrants.

There’s been a lot of chatter recently about the immigration issue, specifically with Mexico, as a problem of race. This claim seems to be an attempt by the pro-open borders crowd to muddy the waters of the debate and move the argument from the heart of the issue –- access to labor -- to the shadows -- racism. The argument for a limited workforce is valid. I certainly do not think that Caesar Chavez was a racist, nor would any rational person. What we need to do as a nation is to take a serious look at where we, our work force, wish to be in 10 years. For instance, the construction industry , once a middle-class trade, is spiraling downward on the wage scale. It’s no coincidence that there is %15 to %20 immigrant labor in the field of construction pushing down or stagnating the wages. The natural question beckons, where will the labor flooding end? There are very few industries safe from worker saturation. In fact worker saturation, a byproduct of skyrocketing population growth, is a root of poverty in many third world nations.

As more immigrants enter our country they will move up the pay scale and saturate each job category with inexpensive labor, slowly lowering the standard of living for all of those citizens in a paticular industry. The trend of illegal and cheap labor is expanding. Illegal immigrants are no longer just on the outskirts of migrant farm work; they are building our homes, driving our trucks and repairing our roofs. In fact there is no good reason to believe that they will not move up the payscale to our white collar industries . There are millions of highly trained professionals in South American, many with great adulation for our job markets, who will eagerly come to the U.S. and work for less than scale. The Free Trade Agreement of the Americas (FTAA) was designed, in part, to facililate the movement of professional workers from South American to the U.S. The main problem with a porous border or a guest worker program is that they will not limit the supply of labor – we will receive a continuous flow of cheap labor, lower wages, and therefore, lower living standards. Do we want to have so many people looking for work in the U.S. that living standard will be equivalent to that of the third world? Or do we want negotiation power in the job market and the ability to demand higher wages due to less worker supply? If it’s the latter, then a limited supply of labor is the true answer. If you support a flooded labor market, lower standard of living for millions, eroded tax base, and weaker labor unions then you should support a guest worker program, or better stated, support the status quo.

Monday, March 27, 2006

The Truth About Protectionism in Trade

Often when I speak to people about our growing trade deficit, and the negative implications of unbalanced trade, I get the thousand- yard- stare. I catch the same stare when I talk about the Infield fly rule of Major League Baseball - both are equally confounding. So I thought I’d take a moment to give an explanation, about the Trade Imbalance that is, the infield fly rule is far too difficult to decipher.

We’ll start with the basics - A tariff.

A tariff is a fee or tax on imported goods. There are several types of tariffs. The Ad Valorum tariff is calculated by a percentage of the value of the shipped goods, say 20% of the cargo. A Revenue Tariff is a set of rates designed primarily to raise money for a government. A tariff on banana imports, for example (by a country that does not grow bananas) raises a steady flow of revenue. And finally, a Protective Tariff is intended to artificially inflate prices of imports and "protect" domestic industries from foreign competition. For example, a company in China makes tennis shoes, so does a company in the Unites States. The unit of labor in China for the same shoe is $.10, in the states the unit of labor is .$90. A protective tariff would tax the import by the difference of labor, $.80. The competition between the two companies would be based on quality, not just price.

Why the hullabaloo over tariff’s?

The Protective Tarrif is the most critical to our economy. It protects our industries from direct competition with third world markets and wages. Obviously it is more expensive to live and work in the United States than say, Banglor India; this tariff ensures that our way of live is preserved and that our industries are protected from an influx of cheap imports. Without the Protective Tarrif Americans will be forced to accept wages which may be equilivant to that of India or China. The advancement of this tariff is the only way that American manufactures can remain competitive or they must give Americans pay equal to their overseas competitors, or they must move the manufacturing process offshore. Either option is disastrous for the American worker. The proponents of free trade (buzz words for eliminating Protective Tariffs) call the inevitable wage adjustment of tariff free trade "leveling the playing field". But a worker affected by this inequity would call the wage adjustment a catastrophe and a crisis.

It is the elimination of the Protective Tariff that promotes "dumping” of cheap goods into our economy ( goods made with cheap labor, lower environmental and safety standards), thereby destablizing our consumer markets and facilitating the race to the bottom - a term used to express a significant drop in wages, lifestyle, and economic status. Protective Tariff's have been used as a measure against this race to the bottom. What's more, when a country's major industries lose traction to unfair foreign competition, the loss of jobs and tax revenue can severely impair parts of that country's economy and its ability to sustain a living wage, increase living standards and sustain a tax base necessary for military and social spending.

In addition to the loss of living standard; the elimination of Protective Tariffs has been the major cause of our rising trade deficit, national debt and the loss of manufacturing industries. The cost benefit of moving a factory away from the U.S. and re-importing the goods without the tariff fee far outweighs the cost of the actual move and the cost associated in importing the goods back to the U.S.. The protective tariff protects an industry, its labor, and its ability to pay taxes, and therefore protects the American worker, the American middle-class and the American government from economic failure. In fact, it's elimination is a reverse form of protectionism. The disposal of this tariff protects companies from fair trade policies; policies which for centuries have been a cushion for American industries from cheap overseas labor and product "dumping" into our markets. Eliminating the protective tariff puts profit over principle, it hurts our economy and benefits the a few over the many.
Which is more important, an inexpensive television or a good paying job?

The Solution.

The ultimate goal of a nation should be a positive Balance of Trade. A Balance of Trade, called a Trade Surplus, occurs when a nation has more exports than imports. The excess of traded goods increases the wealth of a nation and boosts the value of currency. However, a negative balance of trade, known as a trade deficit or a trade gap, occurs when a nation imports more than it exports. This is our current direction. The formula for determining a trade deficit is straightforward; simply subtract the amout of exports from the amount of imports - the remainder is the trade deficit; the amount of money that we owe the world for trade. According to the Commerce Department our Trade Deficit for 2005 was $804.9bn.

The continuance of the trade imbalance has resulted in a decline in American manufacturing and export industries and a rise in imported products from countries such as China, as well as foreign investments in property such as our shipping ports. Since the U.S. currency is held in significant quantities by many governments and institutions as part of their foreign exchange reserves it also tends to be the international pricing currency for products traded on a global market, such as oil, gold, etc, these inclinations have been working to our advantage, but this could change at any time. The world could lose interest in the dollar, and as our currency devalues due to our deficits, they will. We are running a very delicate balance.

Our economy is growing, but this is in part because there is a high demand for American investment assets and other debt financing mechanisms such as Treasury Securities. In other words, we are selling our hard assets (ports, bridges, toll roads, bonds, etc.) and our currency to maintain our government and our lifestyles. Traditionally the United States has earned revenue with the assets that we are now unloading; we sell these assets to keep our country unanchored from the impending payback of decades of poor asset management. To put this in terms that can be appreciated; imagine a household with an enormous credit card debt. The bank wants a security, not just a promise to pay, so the bank offers to purchase the households front yard, the driveway and the front door. This is why the dollar is stays afloat, we are selling our assets. But this behavior cannot last, our assets are not infinite.

In the case of the UAE ports deal, the people may have been able to stop a foreign company from purchasing a United States asset, albeit for the wrong reason, but we cannot stop every foreign entity from taking this course. Foreign entities flush with U.S. currency have every right to purchase real assets. To solve this problem we must look at the heart of the issue, rather than at the shadows. The only way to improve deteriorating export and financial indebtedness conditions are to rebuild our industrial base. We must start making more products for export, and gradually implement protective tariffs once again to protect all of our industrial assets. The alternative is a to continue to lose our good paying jobs and our middle-class lifestyle for the ability to purchase cheap goods from abroad.

Friday, March 24, 2006

UNITE-Here pushing for decent conditions for military garment workers
- 03/20/06

Bruce Raynor, head of UNITE-HERE, says his union will continue to push for the Pentagon to require decent work standards for the 20,000 garment workers making U.S. military uniforms. UNITE-HERE says these workers are working in sweatshop conditions right here in the U.S. making uniforms worn by U.S. troops in Iraq, Afghanistan and around the world.
[Bruce Raynor 1]: "For the U.S. military - spending procurement - is the largest employer of garment workers, single employer of garment workers, in the United States. Yet the military refuses to set any standards for wages and benefits, safety and health. And therefore the workers in many of those factories are working in sweatshop conditions.
Raynor says the Pentagon contracts require that the uniforms are made in the USA and he says the Pentagon can also set decent working standards.
[Raynor 2]: "Fortunately there are many members of Congress - both Democrats and Republicans - that find it outrageous that mothers of soldiers serving in Iraq have to be on food stamps to make uniforms for their sons. Both Democrats and Republicans find it outrageous."

Contact Congress and demand a living wage for Pentagon garment workers.


Sample Letter:

Dear ( Represative)

It has come to my attention that the working standards for the garment workers who make our U.S. military uniforms are similar to sweatshop conditions. This is completely unacceptable for one of the wealthiest countries in the world.
Don't you think that the mothers of soldiers who are serving in Iraq should earn enough money to afford at least the basic necessities of survival? I certainly think so, and I'll bet that the majority of your constituents do too.

If Pentagon contracts require that United States military uniforms are made in the USA, then the Pentagon should also set decent working standards and a decent wage for the over 20,000 garment workers who make our soldiers uniforms.

I urge you to introduce legislation that will set a living wage for the garment workers who toil for the benefit of our troops. As a nation that spends over half of a trillion dollars on a defense budget annually, not including the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, it's obvious that we can do better.


Wednesday, March 22, 2006

"Struggle is a never ending process. Freedom is never really won you earn it and win it in every generation." -- Coretta Scott King (1927-2006)

The struggle for a representative democracy where the people, and not just the corporations and special interest groups, are heard is real. Throughout our nation our elected representatives are beholden to donors with deep pockets, and, most often, the needs of the many are brushed aside to accommodate the needs of the wealthy elite.

For those who think that there is no hope; there is. The Clean Elections system is dynamically changing the landscape of corruption in American politics.
It's time to get this movement in gear. Contact your local and Federal representatives to demand a Clean Elections initiative.

Here is a sample letter.

Clancy Jayne is First Participating Clean Elections Candidate to Receive Primary Funding

PHOENIX (March 7, 2006) – The Citizens Clean Elections Commission (Commission), the state agency that administers the Citizens Clean Elections Act, announced today that Mr. Clancy Jayne has been certified to receive his primary election funding for the 2006 election cycle as a participating Clean Elections candidate. Jayne is the first legislative candidate to receive campaign funding and will collect $11,945 for the primary election.
“It is exciting to see that the process continues to work, allowing more candidates to seek office who might not have been able to” said Todd Lang, executive director of the Clean Elections Commission. “Mr. Jayne did the work as prescribed in the statute, and will now have funding for his campaign without the task of finding private donors being the determining factor.” To date, the Commission has approved a total of 111 participating candidate application – 90 legislative candidate applications and 21 statewide candidate applications. These candidates are eligible to collect the required $5 contributions to be certified as “participating” Clean Elections candidates for the 2006 election cycle. (Source)

Here's a sample letter.

Your silence is their strength.
Sample Letter for Clean Elections Campaign

Dear (Represenative)

I am writing to you to support the Clean Money/Clean Elections (CMCE) Bill in (Your State). I am concerned about the problems of private money corrupting our public political system.

CMCE will limit campaign spending and campaign contributions. Under CMCE, candidates voluntarily agree to limit their spending and contributions will receive a fixed and equal amount of public funds.

Clean Money Clean Elections give more access to the political system for those who cannot afford to do so now. It will stop the influence of private interests groups, and most of all it will restore the principle of “one-person-one-vote.” As the current system stands, we have a “one-dollar-one-vote” electoral process. In addition, politicians will be able to devote more time to voter concerns rather than raising money for their political campaign.

Voters in Massachusetts, Maine, Arizona, and Vermont, Conneticute and North Carolina have approved CMCE on the ballot. Now it’s time for Clean Money, Clean Elections in
(Your State) and the nation!

I urge members of the (Your State) Legislature to sponsor and work for passage of CMCE legislation. Thank you.


Concerned Citizen
"Struggle is a never ending process. Freedom is never really won you earn it and win it in every generation."
-- Coretta Scott King (1927-2006)

The stuggle for a represetative democracy where the people, and not just the corporations and specialial interest groups, are heard is as real. Throughout our nation our elected representatives are beholden to donors with deep pockets, and, most often, the needs of the many are brushed aside to accomodate the needs of those .

For those who think that there is no hope, there is. The Clean Elections system is dynamically changing the landscape of corruption in American politics, the Clean Elections movement is turning over state assemblies all over our nation. There are more than 10 states participating.
It's time to get this movement in gear. Contact you local and Federal represenatives to demand a Clean Elecions initiative.

Clancy Jayne is First Participating Clean Elections Candidate to Receive Primary Funding

PHOENIX (March 7, 2006) – The Citizens Clean Elections Commission (Commission), the state agency that administers the Citizens Clean Elections Act, announced today that Mr. Clancy Jayne has been certified to receive his primary election funding for the 2006 election cycle as a participating Clean Elections candidate. Jayne is the first legislative candidate to receive campaign funding and will collect $11,945 for the primary election.

“It is exciting to see that the process continues to work, allowing more candidates to seek office who might not have been able to” said Todd Lang, executive director of the Clean Elections Commission. “Mr. Jayne did the work as prescribed in the statute, and will now have funding for his campaign without the task of finding private donors being the determining factor.”
To date, the Commission has approved a total of 111 participating candidate application – 90 legislative candidate applications and 21 statewide candidate applications. These candidates are eligible to collect the required $5 contributions to be certified as “participating” Clean Elections candidates for the 2006 election cycle.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Stick It

In difficult times often many of us feel despair and indifference towards those who chose to ignore the obvious. We can feel as a ship in the night, adrift with no barings or instruments. Yes, I've felt this way, I struggle not too. I know that many others have felt these things as well.
While it's true that, "Nobody made a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could only do a little" - Edmond Burke - we who do a little, what we can, can feel as though no one is listening. But to my excitement, there are those who listen, and more, there are those who speak the gospel with elegance and purpose and volume.

The "Stick it" speech from the television program Boston Legal fits this latter column. To my surprise, James Spader's character, in his closing arguments for a first amendment trial, completely and eloquently articulates the attrition of our personal freedoms, the intrusion of our government into our personal lives, and the totaltalarian opposition to those who speak out against our government’s gigantic blunders - both Democratic and Republican.
I found his speech, although fictional, a temporary allay to the indifference I sometimes feel towards my fellow citizens.

It's worth a listen. The segment is titled, “ Stick It: closing arguments”.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Bush insists outsourcing to India has its benefits
By Jim Puzzanghera

Mercury News Washington Bureau WASHINGTON - To people in Silicon Valley and around the country concerned about the outsourcing of jobs to India, President Bush on Wednesday offered something to make the practice more palatable.


It's just one of the U.S. products that India's rapidly growing middle class is developing an appetite for, Bush said in a speech to the Asia Society as he prepares for a trip to India and Pakistan next month. While acknowledging the individual trauma of Americans who lose jobs when companies move operations abroad, Bush said India's economic growth is an overall plus for the U.S. economy. ``India's middle class is buying air-conditioners, kitchen appliances and washing machines, and a lot of them from American companies like GE and Whirlpool and Westinghouse. And that means their job base is growing here in the United States. Younger Indians are acquiring a taste for pizzas from Domino's, Pizza Hut,'' Bush said to laughs from the audience at a Washington hotel. ``Today, India's consumers associate American brands with quality and value, and this trade is creating opportunity at home.''

Outsourcing is a delicate issue for the Bush administration. Its top economic adviser came under fire in 2004 for calling it ``just a new way to do international trade,'' comments that Democrats often cited during the presidential campaign as evidence Bush didn't care about workers. Bush acknowledged the difficulty of the outsourcing debate Wednesday. ``It's true that a number of Americans have lost jobs because companies have shifted operations to India. And losing a job is traumatic. It's difficult. It puts a strain on our families,'' he said. But instead of responding with ``protectionist policies,'' Bush said the United States needs to improve education and job training for displaced workers.

I am always astonished, it’s a Sisyphean stigma, when the ruling class (our elected officials) make a speach such as the President's address in India. Perhaps my delimited view is a result of a stubborn persistence that We the Rabble live in an egalitarian society. I find this reality evaporating; vanishing like the antiquated wisdom of our fathers who would "never work without a contract". Truth is heavier than fiction and the real the truth, the new reality, is that of inequality. It is the reality of a separate but parallel universe for the ruling minority and the work-a-day majority; seperate but not equal. This fact, that Washington is out of touch, is descending into my conscienceness, slowing and deliberately, with the same dauntless advance as the Condi Rice oil tanker cutting through the open seas. Yes, I am committing the cardinal sin. I am bringing up the old class warfare beef. But with a ruling class completely disconnected from the average citizen, it is an appropriate squawk.

The president of the United States, perhaps the figure head of a new American Oligarchy, is seeking support for Offshore Outsourcing, and tariff free trade. Free Trade, as some call it, is the new religion of the wealthy elite. And like most religious movements there is a lofty degree of superstition. While addressing the Indian Parlement, President Bush stated, "`India's middle class is buying air-conditioners, kitchen appliances and washing machines, and a lot of them from American companies like GE and Whirlpool and Westinghouse. And that means their job base is growing here in the United States" However, most of the facorty jobs with these corporate giants are being created in China, not the U.S. So really, who is benefiting from Free Trade?

Since the year 2000 the US economy has experienced a net loss in good paying manufacturing jobs. The entire job growth from then to now is in service-providing industroies, primarily credit intermediation, health care, waiters, waitresses and bartenders, and state and local government and finally, retail sales. Manufacturing in the United States has lost 2.9 million jobs, almost 17% of the manufacturing work force. This wipeout is in very large scale and not a single manufacturing payroll classification has created a new job catagory The declines in some manufacturing sectors have more in common with a country undergoing saturation bombing during a war than with a super-economy that is "the envy of the world." Writes Paul Krugman (Secretary of Labor Under the Reagan Administration). He continues, "Communications equipment lost 43% of its workforce. Semiconductors and electronic components lost 37% of its workforce. The workforce in computers and electronic products declined 30%. Electrical equipment and appliances lost 25% of its employees. The workforce in motor vehicles and parts declined 12%. Furniture and related products lost 17% of its jobs. Apparel manufacturers lost almost half of the work force. Employment in textile mills declined 43%. Paper and paper products lost one-fifth of its jobs. The work force in plastics and rubber products declined by 15%. Even manufacturers of beverages and tobacco products experienced a 7% shrinkage in jobs"

The knowledge jobs, specifically the IT Sector, that were supposed to take the place of the lost manufacturing base in the "new economy" appeared for a brief time, but now are threatened by Offshore Outsoucing - another scheme which places the American worker in direct compition with the wages of the third world. The information sector lost 17% of its jobs, with the telecommunications work force declining by 25%. Even wholesale and retail trade lost jobs. Despite massive new accounting burdens imposed by Sarbanes-Oxley, accounting and bookkeeping employment shrank by 4%. Computer systems design and related lost 9% of its jobs. Today there are 209,000 fewer managerial and supervisory jobs than 5 years ago. We are losing our shirts so that we can purchase cheap shirts. Yet, the only beneficiaries in this trade imbalance are the Share holders, the CEO’s and our so called leaders in Washington. As data gathered in the real world of worker insecurity and instability continues to show, an expanding U.S. trade deficit will likely hit $700 billion this year (up 100 billion from last year).

Meanwhile a great wailing is heard from the Defenders of Free Trade. Their libertarian economic faith is immune to facts. Their new secular religion who’s god is capital and CEO’s the high priests (Supermen - with the infalabililty and supposed efficiency Niche would admire) is re-making our world to fit their want. Their deciples, the Economists, like evangelical preachers, can be seen on the ubiquitous financial television broadcasts, telling us that "all is well, not to worry, these are normal growing pains". Our politicians ask us to align ourselves with this movement while they vilify those who oppose the new world order with rhetoric like, "obsturdtionist" and "protectionist!" Let's face it, no one likes a label, so we aquiesse.

However, this new religion requires us to believe, it requires faith, not just complatency. I t requires our cooperation. This is our strength, our only strength. The superstition and ignorance that its adherents resort to, the falsehoods to defend its dogma, are weak and penatrible. Our elected officials, asleep as they are to our needs, must hear from us about these economic conditions. Corporations controll the purses, but we controll the elections. I urge you to contact Congress and demand that we walk away from the trade agreements (NAFTA, GATT, WTO, CAFTA) that facilite these corrupt policies. If our government can divorce itself from the Keoto Treaty and the Anti Balistic Nuclear Weapons Treaty, then we can abandon the trade agreements which are destroying our economy.

Your silence is their strenght.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Report: Many Jobs Lack Benefits To Cut

NEW YORK—According to a report published in the February issue of Forbes magazine, employers are reporting difficulty finding job benefits to eliminate. "Health insurance, matching 401(k) contributions, lunch breaks, and various allowances and reimbursements are all fair game for cost-cutting—that is, when they are offered by employers in the first place," staff writer Jason Smills wrote. "By not extending these perks to their employees in the first place, however, American business owners find themselves lacking the crucial ability to take them away." Smills noted that 97 percent of the possible benefit cuts in American jobs had already been made, reducing the potential for greater company profits and executive-level benefits to "alarming" lows. (Source)

Monday, March 13, 2006

Thomas Frank on the failure of liberalism
Oh Kansas fools! Poor Kansas fools!The banker makes of you a tool.

These lines from a populist song of 1892 are the epigraph for Thomas Frank's new book, What's the Matter with Kansas? How Conservatives Won the Heart of America. They are a small reminder that Kansas, Frank's "homeland," the state where he grew up, was once part of the great progressive heart of this country. Going home again, he observes a simple fact of the voting map: "The more working-class an area is, the more likely it is to be conservative." His observation: "This situation is the opposite of what it was thirty years ago. And it is the complete negation of the Kansas of one hundred years ago, when those in the hardest-hit areas were the most desperate -- and the most radical."
How, Frank asks, could this have happened? His book is an exploration of just how hard hit Kansas has been in an era of ever more right-wing Republican administrations and ever-rightward drifting Democratic ones; of how a right-wing war against a fantasy "liberal power elite" was successfully waged, and why it is that people seem to vote against what once would have been considered their interests. It's really a must-read. (By the way, for interesting poll results on America as a nation "desperate for change," see Michael Scherer's The Unhappy Majority at Mother Jones magazine on-line.)
Below in a piece adapted by Frank for Tomdispatch from part of his book's conclusion, he considers the fall of liberalism in America. A final note: Frank's book has been causing a little storm of media controversy. Recently, for instance, Barbara Ehrenreich ("The notion of a sinister, pseudocompassionate liberal elite has been rebutted, most recently in Thomas Frank's brilliant new book…") and Nicholas Kristof both praised his book in columns in the New York Times, while George Will took out after it full frontally in a recent column of his own ("Frank is a formidable controversialist… He says, delusionally, that conservatives have 'smashed the welfare state'… etc."). Don't miss it yourself. Tom
Red-State America Against Itself
By Thomas Frank
That our politics have been shifting rightward for more than thirty years is a generally acknowledged fact of American life. That this rightward movement has largely been accomplished by working-class voters whose lives have been materially worsened by the conservative policies they have supported is a less comfortable fact, one we have trouble talking about in a straightforward manner.
And yet the backlash is there, whenever we care to look, from the "hardhats" of the 1960s to the "Reagan Democrats" of the 1980s to today's mad-as-hell "red states." You can see the paradox first-hand on nearly any Main Street in middle America -- "going out of business" signs side by side with placards supporting George W. Bush. (Read More)

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Here's one for the good guys
A Victory for Clean Elections

Testimony that the Clean Elections system is effective at cleaning up the legislature, the Arizona Supreme Court ruled against State Rep. David Burnell Smith's attempts to hold his office after violating the Clean Elections campaign rules. David Burnell attempted to stay in office after over spending his public campaign funds; however, the Arizona Supreme Court upheld an injunction to remove the bull-headed representative. Smith pursued the argument that the law was unconstitutional and threatened to take the case to the U.S. Supreme Court, but after hearing numerous objections from his constituency, Smith now says that a higher court battle is unlikely. (Source)

This is an absolute example of government accountabilty. The citizens of Arizona will no longer tolerate inept management of the public trust. The voice of the people is blaring and the sweet aroma of Democracy is irrevocably eminationg from the Phoenix State Houses.
Arizona's motto, Ditat Deus, meaning God enriches, is an apt declaration for a people ready to guide their own destiny.

Your state could be next.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Army Of Identical Scientists Demands Legislative Support For Cloning
February 20, 2006 Issue 42•08

WASHINGTON, DC—Thousands of identical scientists traveled to the nation's capital this week to urge lawmakers to lift restrictions on the cloning of human beings and increase funding for cloning experimentation and research.

Dr. Gene Krupkauer (right) speaks to the House Committee on Science.
"Ladies and gentlemen of Congress, we stand united before you today to speak with one voice," said Dr. Gene Krupkauer, founder of the lobbying group Like-Minded Scientists For Cloning Advancement, in testimony before the House Committee on Science Tuesday. "We implore Congress to fund this important research and acknowledge the growing support of many who share our views."

The benefits of human cloning touted by the LMSCA include ease of organ transplants and possible organ regeneration, mass telepathy, and coordination between pod brothers.
Krupkauer and his colleagues' testimony and its unified delivery brought the little-known lobbying group to the attention of many lawmakers who might otherwise have been politically opposed to their cause.
Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) said that after a Monday-morning meeting with one of the scientists, he encountered the same man at more than six functions that day. McCain said he also spotted the scientist around the city—once at a convenience store and twice at an area Chili's. Each time, the man took the opportunity to speak with McCain in the hopes of earning his support.
"Dedication like that gets my attention," McCain said. "I'm still cautious regarding issues of human cloning, but that man has certainly succeeded in putting a distinct human face on the issue."
The scientists credit the group's remarkable coordination to their leader, Dr. Gene Krupkauer, who first achieved prominence in the late '70s as an innovative geneticist at MIT, where his early research demonstrated the viability of large-scale human cloning. A protégé of MIT's late Dr. Gene Krupkauer, Krupkauer said his advanced studies on human cloning under Krupkauer generated enormous public furor and caused the revocation of his university funding. Undaunted, the duo cofounded the Krupkauer Institute For Genetic Research, where they were soon joined in their work by 256 male students of like build and facial features. (Full Story)
David Horowitz: "There are 50,000 professors ... [who] identify with the terrorists"

On MSNBC's Scarborough Country, right-wing activist David Horowitz claimed that "there are 50,000 professors" who are "anti-American" and "identify with the terrorists."

There are just over 400,000 tenured and tenure-track full-time university professors in the United States. If Horowitz's numbers are accurate, that means approximately one out of every eight tenured or tenure-track college and university professors is a terrorist sympathizer (Source)

In the 1960’s David Horowitz was a Marxist, now he is a Neocon. Given his inability to make a cohesive argument, his departure from the absurd tenants of Carl Marx to a half- baked, myopic Neo-liberal dogma is not suprising.
Once you hear this dolt articulate his illogical, obtuse ravings, you'll likely agree - the Marxists are better off.
But don’t take my word for it, his musing are well documented - Also, here, here and here.

I apologize in advance for my use of Ad Hominem, but I couldn't help myself with this drone.

Friday, March 03, 2006

An Introductin to Clean Elections

Clean Elections, also called Clean Money is a term given by its proponents to describe a system of public financing of political campaigns (a form of campaign finance reform), which is currently being advocated and implemented on the state level in the United States. Some form of Clean Elections legislation has been adopted, mostly through ballot initiatives, in Maine, Arizona, North Carolina, New Mexico, Vermont, and Massachusetts (though in the latter two it has been weakened or repealed).

Clean Elections was passed by the Connecticut state legislature and signed by the Governor in December of 2005. Two municipalities in 2005, Albuquerque, New Mexico, and Portland, Oregon have also passed Clean Elections for municipal elections.Under a Clean Elections system, candidates hoping to receive public financing must collect a certain number of small "qualifying contributions" (often as little as $5) from registered voters. In return, they are paid a flat sum by the government to run their campaign, and agree not to raise money from private sources.

Clean Elections candidates who are outspent by privately-funded opponents may receive additional public matching funds.Because the system is voluntary, it appears not to run afoul of the United States Supreme Court's Buckley v. Valeo decision, which struck down mandatory spending limits as an unconstitutional restriction on free speech.

Impressive Statistics Latest accomplishments of Clean Elections Nationwide, especially in Maine and Arizona (based on the November 2002 election, which was Maine and Arizona's 2nd statewide clean election, the first being in 2000).

Clean Election Essentials How Do Full Publicly Funded (Clean) Elections Work?

Who Endorses Clean Elections? "Clean Elections" is endorsed by these individuals and organizations.

Other Organizations Links to Organizations Working To Advance the Cause of Clean Elections

Cost Analysis This is the cost analysis done by, showing that full public financing of federal elections for just $6 per US citizen.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

The Problem with the UAE Port Deal

When Thomas Jefferson wrote of King George III in the Declaration of Independence,

"He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitutions and unacknowledged by our laws, giving his assent to their acts of pretended legislation…"

he just as easily could have been writing of the World Trade Organization, which now has the legal authority to force the United States to overturn laws passed at both local, state, and federal levels with dictates devised by tribunals made up of representatives of multinational corporations. If Dubai loses in the American Congress, their next stop will almost certainly be the WTO. (Read More)