Monthly Archives: September 2012

Vet Speaks Out to End the War, Begin the Revolution

Resistance.

The vet in the video below gets it right, to end the war we must end hypocrisy, racism, jealousy, greed, capitalism and its sorry brother, corporatism.  None can be separate and the none of them can exist without the other.  Greed begets war, the need for rationalization begets racism, dehumanization, fear of the unknown, misinformation begets the ignorance necessary for a population to do the bidding of a few and to die and kill for it.

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Joyce Carol Oates: We Were the Mulvaneys, or How I Suffered This Book So You Don’t Have to

We Were the Mulvaneys by Joyce Carol Oates

This was probably one of the worst books I’ve read. I picked up this book on a thrift store shelf for 2 bucks and I’d like my two bucks back. In fact I never finished the book because I’ve just got only so much time in my life and I don’t need to waste it reading overly sensitive, moralistic, white bread drivel.

It was on the Oprah’s list! So what does this say about Oprah?

The book opens up on a scene set in Michigan in the seventies, a large white family whose papa works as a roofer and mama stays home to be the fulltime mom to a gaggle of kids. On a roofer’s wages in a small podunk town, somehow they manage to hold onto a farm with all the nostalgic accoutrements; horses, chickens and the big old victorian house. Welcome to the Waltons in print.

The characters are developed like cardboard cut-outs, with apparently no more thought to developing them into believable, full-fledged things representing humans than say, someone writing ad copy for a grocery store circular. Based on stereotypes that could choke a hard-boiled wingnut, one reads every page anticipating that possibly, we’ll get rewarded on the turn of the next, for our hard work plowing through the flat, boring constructions to find something real on the other side. But that never occurs. Mom is ever self-effacing, fragile and foolish, so is the only daughter, whose loss of innocence destroys the family.

Oates worries incessantly about the males in her story, attempting to show us how the moral soiling of a female is ruinous to the poor menfolk too; perhaps, it seems, even more important. The women take a backseat and unbelievably, in Oates’ world, this doesn’t bother them a bit. Instead they stand in the background and allow their menfolk to shine while they flitter in the light of the moon. Often I had to put the book down lest I scream for reading one more passage about the delicate paper thin white skin of the mother or the daughter; their skinny appearance showing self sacrifice. She even had repeated references to both women denying themselves food! Good God! Did anyone tell this woman we already have a ton of middle class white girls starving themselves to death to meet this foolish ideal of angelity? Take this for instance, “her hair cut cruelly short, face waxy-pale and mouth slack, so without experession, in the daze of sleep, he hadn’t recognized her. She looked so young, so– childlike.”

So all you big girls, loud mouthed girls, dark colored girls, strong girls, look out because you are not getting any empathy from Ms. Oates, in fact in her world you don’t even exist, lest possibly you trample her flailing, delicate female fairies.

Then of course, if you’ve lived your life anywhere outside Cornell university, you might not be so bought into the idea that a roofing contractor in a small town could make enough money to join a local country club — or more accurately, that if he did, he would be able to make that class transference so easily. Only in the lala land of the conservative white middle class brain does such a mythology still achieve any serious consideration. I’m sure Oates sold well by stoking the fertile fantasies of the striving middle class with that theme.

Oh and the dialogue! The descriptors. I grew up in the seventies, I grew up in the Midwest. I’ll tell you right now that no teenager in their right mind that didn’t grow up in a closet talked like this, “I shan’t…” Shan’t? Of course whatever she shan’t do or say usually is followed with a long descriptor of her feminine duty to sacrifice without complaint, such as numerous scenes where either women jump up to serve immediately, always self deprecating and always fragile, with hollowed out, sunken eyes we’re told, (again) paper thin white skin and fluttering fingers through thin, frazzled hair apparently reflecting over-wrought fragile minds of these martyrs to the feminine cause.

The males, the father and the three brothers of course are the doers. They represent the rescuers, the strong ones, the ones given to flights of anger or self serving hedonistic pleasure; but they are men and the women not only tolerate such but in the world of the Mulvaneys, the women seem completely oblivious to what they are missing.

Couple all the Hallmark card sentimentality with its glitter coated one dimensionality for popular consumption, with horrendously long, drawn out and uninteresting descriptors. I don’t give a damn if a character wore “a silk polka-dot dress that fitted her loosely, marble-sized red dots on a white background; the bodice was a mass of buttons…” So what? The descriptors of what people wore were like reading a Sears catalog and what relevance this ever had on the plot, one can never know. Is it more relevant that the protagonist wore red pumps with a 5″ heel or blue open toed sandals with a 3″ heel? A nubby, chunky sweater or a tight cowl-neck green one? Smooth slacks with an elastic waist or rumpled jeans?

In addition, the moralizing. Mom sang hymns while she worked, daughter quoted the bible endlessly, one son quotes the bible as well and listens to classical music, finding the popular band Plaistica, nauseating and the hoaorish behavior of his college chums equally nauseating. And he fits in a university atmosphere and peerage? Really? Maybe I’m just sheltered in this, but I thought college kids demand as much or more conformity of eachother than even junior high schoolers.

But the moralizing, the religion, the assumption of the author that Christian values permeate through every decent family and thus are assumed. This is given strength by the college attending boy (because the women don’t have or acquire or value education and nor does the author apparently wish to give them chance to get one) who gets all tied up in a moral knot about questions of evolution when studying biology. This is taken seriously and the doubting professor is the one described as the cruel, clueless, rigid restriction against the free thinking pro-creationist.

I could go on, but I’ll quit here only with the thought that if I had known such low quality writing could make one a good living, I’d have gotten started on this track years ago. Oates apparently churns out the popular white bread for an audience to believe in weak women, strong men and a big man flying in the sky to protect them all and everything that is right pretty regularly. Hell, if it ain’t broke don’t fix it right? We can see Oates isn’t working for the Pulitzer but is paying the bills. I guess we’re not all out to save the world.

Now I admit, I didn’t finish the book. Like I said at the beginning of this screed, I just couldn’t. I’ve got better things to do. Sorry, its not my job to make an author’s creation justify my time, its the other way around; the author has an obligation to keep me wanting to read that book, to keep me enthralled enough to find out what’s going on next. But when it takes two pages for a character to answer a ringing phone, or trudging through insufferably simplistic and moralistic scenarios, enough is enough.

A person can only wade through a swamp so long before realizing, there’s really nothing to see on the other side to make the effort worth it. As a lover and collector of books, I must say that my conscience is clear about my plan to consign the volume I purchased to the recycling bin, in the hope that its pages will be reincarnated into something more useful to human kind, like say toilet paper.

Wake the F**K Up! Get Plugged In!

Kick Some Today!

Nothing more needs be said:

Want to get involved in your state? Need a job for a bit while doing the right thing?

Progressive Change Campaign is looking to hook people up with campaigns across the country, they need a wide range of skills and abilities, what talent do you have to offer?

Locally, if you live in New Hampshire paid canvassing positions are open, contact the following:

In the Manchester/southern New Hampshire area: contact Grassroots Solutions.  Grassroots Solutions is hiring employees full or part-time and running a full seven days, with pay at $12/hour. To apply, please fill out their online form.

Citizen’s Alliance – NH is also looking for part-time canvassers for Nashua and phone bankers out of their Concord office, paying $13/hour.  Click here – Jobs

Or statewide contact America Votes through jwhite@americavotes.org

If you don’t hear from anyone or get satisfaction, send us a note and we’ll help get you plugged in!

Are you an organizer looking for more support? Need some ideas for more effective campaigns? Interested in networking with other organizers nationwide? Interested in online training resources? The New Organizing Institute has the tools you’ve been looking for!

And now, on a final note:

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The Poor and Low Wage Workers Pay More in Taxes than Romney

cartoon by David Horsey, LA Times

 

 

Article by John Funiciello published in Issue 487 of Blackcommentator.com

Once again, the Republican candidate for president has expressed his contempt for a large percentage of the American people, by claiming that they are “dependent” on government for their very lives and, therefore, will automatically vote for President Obama.

The real wealth of the nation is in its people.

Comments by the GOP standard bearer, Mitt Romney, were caught on tape in Florida last spring and released last week by Mother Jones magazine. In a matter of hours, the comments were seen by tens of millions and caused Romney to call a press conference to explain himself.

What he had said at a private fund-raising dinner was that 47 percent of Americans pay no federal income tax and that they are Obama’s supporters. USA Today his explanatory statement: “The president believes in what I’ve described as a government-centered society, where government plays a larger and larger role, provides for more and more of the needs of the individuals,” Romney said in Orange County, Calif. “I happen to believe instead in a free enterprise, free individual society where people pursuing their dreams are able to employ one another, build enterprises, build the strongest economy in the world.”

By now, it is clear to virtually everyone that Romney doesn’t have a clue about what real Americans’ lives are like. He certainly doesn’t know what it is like to try to stretch a $15,000 annual income and keep a family from starvation. And, he never will. In fact, living on low wages or a low fixed income is one of those weekly miracles that happen and the plight of those millions of families goes unnoticed. Out of sight, out of mind and Romney wants to keep it that way.

The rich are going to be swimming in the same pool as the rest of the country if the whole thing collapses

The GOP, as expressed by Romney in constant campaign rhetoric, wants to reduce the government, so that it never will be able to provide for that 47 percent of the electorate, which likely would never vote Republican. Only the irrational would vote for a party, the main philosophy of which is to cut taxes for the rich and corporations and cut social programs and most functions of government, except for the military and defense. But, books have been written, speculating on why average Americans, who are only one or two paychecks away from needing government assistance, continue to support the GOP platform and its philosophy. They’re out there and they do, indeed, vote Republican.

Democrats are on the horns of a dilemma. They have been subject to the same propaganda from the right wing think tanks and Corporate America for decades and have weakly fought the GOP’s efforts to diminish every function of government at every level. At the same time, they have presided from time to time over a country headed in the same direction, no matter which major party is in charge. The difference is that they don’t sing the same no-taxes-no-social-programs song that the Republicans sing.

For that alone, they have a leg up on the coming election, but this does not leave them in the clear, by any means. Many of their policies on the important issues of our time are much the same as those of the Republicans. These issues include, but are not limited to: global trade, the continuing growth of militarism, the magical vanishing manufacturing base (except for those things that are made by robots), the lack of sustainable and low-cost housing, the food system that is damaging the people’s health, the lack of an affordable universal health system, the staggering cost to students of higher education, endless war, diminishing civil rights, and the continuing assault on virtually every vital aspect of the environment. Other than that, Obama is doing better than the party of Romney.

Many of their policies on the important issues of our time are much the same as those of the Republicans.

Back in the 1980s and 90s, over-the-road big trucks had painted on them something like, “This truck pays $4,467 in road use taxes every year.” That was supposed to show everyone driving a car or pick-up that the truck bearing the sign and weighing some 80,000 pounds was paying more than its fair share to use the roads. A quick check of the “road use” taxes that a car or pick-up truck paid at the time showed that, pound for pound, the car paid about four times what those trucks paid in road use taxes and they didn’t crumble the roads to dust.

So it is with the Republicans and their insistence that the behemoths (wealthy) pay all the taxes, and that there are so many poor and low-wage Americans who pay no income taxes. (We’ll leave aside for a moment that there are giant transnational corporations that pay no taxes and lots of rich folks who pay no taxes, but that’s a subject for another discussion.) The fact is that the poor and low-income wage earners pay plenty of taxes: sales taxes, payroll taxes, gasoline taxes, excise taxes, and endlessly increasing fees for everything from driver’s licenses, to fishing licenses. Low-income Americans pay a much greater percentage of their income than the wealthy or even the middle-income earners.

Somehow, this fact of life has escaped Mitt Romney and people like him, George W. Bush and virtually his entire administration, for example. These are people who are so alienated from the lives of most Americans that they don’t know that the country’s emergency rooms are not universal health care and they are not free.

Thinkprogress.org recently noted: “For example, if you look at state and local taxes, the working poor actually pay a higher percentage of their income in these taxes (all of the other taxes and fees) in every state except for Vermont. (In) Alabama, for example, low-income families (which make less than $13,000) pay 11 percent of their income in state and local taxes, while those making more than $229,000 pay just 4 percent.”

And, Wealth for the Common Good also noted recently that the top 400 taxpayers (those who have more wealth than half of all Americans) pay lower taxes today than they have in about two decades. Their tax responsibilities have declined sharply in 70 years and, during that time, wage-working men and women have been asked to pay more. There was a time when lawmakers discerned a difference between those who could afford to pay taxes and those who were not able to pay taxes and occasionally, they adjusted the tax code to lighten the burden on the poor. This is not one of those times.

Mitt Romney, Paul Ryan, and most of the Republicans and many Democrats seem to have forgotten that the Democrats once stood for the New Deal (putting people back to work and giving them the means to maintain their living standards, through union organizing), the War on Poverty, and the Great Society.

Instead, at this time, in the midst of a presidential election campaign, the word poverty is barely mentioned. And, if the word “poor” is used, it is to call them lazy, parasites, and a drag on the economy and the national budget. There is no apparent plan from either party to deal with the severe problem of poverty in the U.S. Certainly, there is no plan for the two parties to come up with a plan, and that’s what it takes to solve the problems of a nation that owes its soul to the company store, that is China, Europe, Japan, and several other countries.

Romney doesn’t have a clue about what real Americans’ lives are like.
The right wing (in politics and Corporate America) in this country would do well to hold its tongue when criticizing any of those creditors, because it is people who look and act just like them who have removed the manufacturing base from the country to seek ever lower wages and lower “labor costs.” They are the ones, along with the people they employ in the Congress, who have caused the economic problems, with their constant push for lower taxes for the rich and corporations and the push for rewards for taking their plants out of the country. They have received all of that.

As we have seen, the working class and the middle class, however it is defined, are the ones who pay (remember, they somehow have morphed from citizens into consumers). When they lose their jobs, there’s no one left to pay. How hard is that for the politicians to understand? We’ve had a steady decline of jobs for decades, we have people in mid-life living off their retirement savings, and we have college graduates who might be able to pay off their student loans by the time they are 50 years old.

Like or not, the rich are going to be swimming in the same pool as the rest of the country if the whole thing collapses. Then, they will be seeking out people who have real skills for living, to show them how to do it. Generally, the rich are engaged in enterprises that produce nothing but money and we are beginning to realize that this money is worth about as much as the paper used for printing it.

The real wealth of the nation is in its people. When they are healthy, the nation is healthy. When the people are weakened or sick, the nation is sick. Poverty weakens and sickens a nation and the disparity in wealth in the U.S., at a level not seen in 80 years, has weakened the nation. No one in government at any level seems to be willing to proclaim the danger out loud and, so, the problem is not addressed and the nation is in deep trouble.

BlackCommentator.com Columnist,John Funiciello, is a long-time former newspaper reporter and labor organizer, who lives in the Mohawk Valley of New York State. In addition to labor work, he works with family farmers as they struggle to stay on the land under enormous pressure from factory food producers and land developers. To contact Mr. Funiciello, please go to BlackCommentator.com.

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Scott Brown Shows His Tea Party Stripes

Simpleton Math

As seems par for the course, the Massachusetts Senate race between Tea Party supported Republican incumbent Scott Brown and his Democratic challenger, Elizabeth Warren, comes down to race.  As always, when one takes the time to turn their jaundiced eye in the direction of the racist whoops and hollers, what is found is a vacuous, empty shell of a candidate. Considering the fact that Elizabeth Warren scares the absolute bejeezus out of Wall Street, you’d think that Brown’s campaign might reflect the great minds that money supposedly can hire to dream up some nefarious defense of run away capitalism. But, as usual, the corporate capitalists prove that its really hard to find a way to defend a system that will screw over the very people whose support you need.

And we hate to say as usual, but yes, as usual, lacking the ability or the will (may alienate their base?) to come out with anything close to intelligent argument, the campaign resorts to race jealousy, old affirmative action scripts and of course, just plain ignorance, as mhasegawa on the blog FortLeft shows here:

Who knew that the Massachusetts race for the United States Senate – and maybe for Democratic control of the entire Senate – would come down to race?  When I wrote about this last May I thought this was a one-off remark and since it didn’t move the polls, I figured the whole thing would die.  A lot of people who are part Cherokee didn’t register for many reasons including fear of being targeted if they were open about Native American ancestry.

But now Scott Brown has made Elizabeth Warren’s race the centerpiece of  his campaign.  He has decided that the path to re-election is to question Warren’s family heritage.  He has not produced any proof that her having “checked the box” made any difference in her tenure at Harvard Law School.  On the other hand, Warren has produced people, including Republican Charles Fried, to say either they didn’t know or if they did it made no difference.  Where’s the beef, Senator Brown?

Race in Massachusetts

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What Does It Mean To Be a Teacher?

Thoughts from a former teacher, from the blog, “Think well, live well, dine well.”

A few days ago there was a shooting outside the school where I used to work. I don’t know the details, all I know is that it was after school, so no kids were there, and that all of the teachers were still inside. My friends were in their professional development meeting when they heard the shots. The police then kept the school on lockdown for an additional 45 minutes to make sure that the area was safe for everyone to go home. Everyone was expected at school the next day.

Continue reading: “What Does It Mean to be a Teacher?”

Protesters Blockade Equipment and Camp in Trees to Stop XL Pipeline

The XL pipeline that has the tacit, bit by bit approval of the Obama administration and state officials in Texas, has faced a multitude of resistors against its construction.  First an article from the LA Times of 9/5/12 that details the equipment blockades:

Keystone XL protest

By Kim MurphySeptember 5, 2012, 11:05 a.m.

Activists battling a new oil pipeline chained themselves to bulldozers in Texas on Wednesday, temporarily halting route-clearance work in the latest protest against the Keystone XL project to carry oil from the tar sands of northern Canada.

Read rest of story here. New Keystone Pipeline Route Proposed, Activists Block Texas Site

Also, activists in East Texas have barricaded the passage way for the pipeline by building tree platforms and building scaffolding to tie the trees together in defiance of the upcoming construction crews.

Tar Sands Tree Blockade

Click below for up-to-the hour updates on the tree blockade

BREAKING: Two People Lock Themselves to Keystone XL Machinery to Defend Eight People in Tree Village

Cooking the Books: More Proof (as if you needed it) That Drug Companies Have No Interest in Your Health

“Bad enough when this scandalous unchecked medication roulette occurs with established, scientifically-endorable diseases. Prescribing psychotropic drugs as if the pros know what they are treating and how, ignoring potential side effects across domains such as psycho-social-biological, and congratulations all around at the expense of the “mentally ill” takes it to another level.”

A very well written comment about an article written for the Guardian and posted in Reader Supported News about the corporate corruption of drug testing and vetting worldwide.  Unfortunately, this is not new but has been entrenched in the United States for decades and as demonstrated in this UK article, has become a global practice.

Also worth adding is that as the article states, drug companies will leave no potential profit channel untouched, unexploited or blocked.  Prescription drug addiction in America continues to climb at exorbitant rates with little sign of let-up, supposedly depression is climbing in the US and states and municipalities are increasingly pressured to allow pain clinics where heavily addictive synthetic opiates can be marketed.

One has wonder what incentives exist to control the continued prescription of highly addictive drugs and what controls exist as well on diagnosis that possibly could have an effect on the doctor’s own interest that may run counter to that of the patient, or the public welfare.

Drugs are tested by their manufacturers, in poorly designed trials, on hopelessly small numbers of weird, unrepresentative patients and analyzed using techniques that exaggerate the benefits. (photo: Phil Partridge, GNL Imaging/Getty Images)

The doctors prescribing the drugs don’t know they don’t do what they’re meant to. Nor do their patients. The manufacturers know full well, but they’re not telling.

eboxetine is a drug I have prescribed. Other drugs had done nothing for my patient, so we wanted to try something new. I’d read the trial data before I wrote the prescription, and found only well-designed, fair tests, with overwhelmingly positive results. Reboxetine was better than a placebo, and as good as any other antidepressant in head-to-head comparisons. It’s approved for use by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (the MHRA), which governs all drugs in the UK. Millions of doses are prescribed every year, around the world. Reboxetine was clearly a safe and effective treatment. The patient and I discussed the evidence briefly, and agreed it was the right treatment to try next. I signed a prescription.

But we had both been misled.  The Drugs Don’t Work: A Modern Medical Scandal

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Teacher’s Unions are Like All Teh Stoopid and Who Needs Educashun Anyway?

When you post on Facebook, a blog or any other public forum, you throw out your thoughts to the public, open for debate and discussion where ever it leads.  Based on the idea that you are the baddest ass in town and you got New Ideas that everyone should know, you post a comment.
So, when someone like myself comes and stumbles upon a killer of a post, hey why not capture that and repeat it right.  What an idea.  Maybe even some feedback might be come forth in the form of some blogger who just kind of likes to set things straight and can’t believe it when they hit upon something as good as this:
I should have become a teacher instead of a millwright…Average pay of $76,000 a year for working 40 hours a week 9 months out of the year and my union demands that I strike because a 16% pay raise (to $88k a year) over 4 years plus sterling silver retirement benefits isn’t enough…I make about a $100k a year now but I work 3000 hours a year for it and my pay IS dependent on the successful performance of my job…quite unlike the collective bargaining agreement for the Chicago teachers union.
Yes, even though this Millwright is a union millwright, posting on a Union Millwright page.  So we can presume that unless he pulled himself by his bootstraps for the last 100 years, the union had something to do with his pay.Last I knew all unions use collective bargaining, no?  According to this here report straight from the horse’s mouth, Millwrights have unions that exercise collective bargaining too!
Contrary to popular myth as well, usually said about all unions, union teachers are all just as duty bound to perform their job to standards agreed upon or they are out.  Evidenced though by this person’s thought processes, I would suggest that we reduce class size, stop allowing wingnuts to screen public school textbooks,  get back to teaching science instead of superstition and earn a living wage that is commensurate with where they live and most importantly what they do.

The Chicago teacher’s union currently in the headlines and, in my opinion every single other worker’s union comprised of those who work for the government, are not legitimate unions…They should receive no support whatsoever and, in fact, should be despised, derided, refuted, shot down, and ridiculed by our respective Millwright unions…

Yes, teachers, a part of that ugly liberal cabal we know as education! Our wonderful union man even suggests shooting them down.  Wow.  And he wants his Millwright brothers to get out there and show the rest of the brotherhood how its done.  Because apparently, if you don’t need an education to make nearly $100k a year, why the hell should anyone else have one?
How many of you enjoy reading in the headlines about how the ‘Teacher’s Union and unions in general are killing America’?
Yup and its all because of teacher’s unions.  Unable to grasp the larger goal of the theme presented there; that this union is bad so that means all unions are bad, he goes for the bait and decides he’s different and he’d better join forces with the anti-union crowd and stop out all those fake unions.  Because his taxes pay his wages.  Isn’t that rich?  This is a guy whose major forms of work are public works projects or public/private partnerships, highly regulated and yes, highly needed by that particular industry at the particular time that Millwrights come in and do their work.
See this deserves pointing out since our union man can’t seem to understand that nuclear plants, gas plants, refineries all get a lot of tax dollars. Yeah, our dollars. So I guess that means that me and a bunch of teachers should come in and tell him what his stupid Millwright job is worth.
Unfortunately, you’d half to have a brain enough to think far enough and understand that there’s a similar relationship between teachers and democracy.  Highly needed for that machine to work, so you’d think they’d be highly valued and thus highly paid.  Nope.  Unlike deep thinkers like union man, who seemed to have drowned in the shallow puddle that is their mind, local governments decide teacher salaries and local governments are usually headed up by people who aren’t teachers.
NO FUCKING WAY!
Believe it, I’m telling you.  They for city offices like city counsel or alderman, or school board that are for the most part, open public sessions.
NO FUCKING WAY!
And in fact, in those cities and towns, the people can get up, get in the streets and protest that teachers are just big mooching union thugs who should be paid like the teenager who last gave you your burger order. In fact it seems like the last couple years, your people have been at it already :
Of course we see evidence of towns where all the sensible people are running the school board or city council all the time.  Which proves as always that no one needs teachers and school is just a big waste of time.
The Teacher’s unions and other unions of government workers are giving the real unions in America a black eye and a bad name…Legitimate unions work for businesses and and corporations and bargain for a fair share of the profits that company makes. Unions of teachers and other government workers have no such concern, all of their money comes out of OUR pockets in the form of taxes…
Because his taxes pay their wages.  Isn’t that rich?  This is a guy whose major forms of work are public works projects or public/private partnerships, highly regulated and yes, highly needed by that particular industry and probably the public sector at the particular time that Millwrights come in and do their work.

See this deserves pointing out since our union man can’t seem to understand that nuclear plants, gas plants, refineries all get a lot of tax dollars. Yeah, our dollars. So I guess that means that me and a bunch of teachers should come in and tell him what his stupid Millwright job is worth.

This is not how it should be…compensation as well as as reforms on hiring and firing should be decided by the public who pay their salaries NOT by renegade unions who can strike and extort more and more power and money from those who pay their salaries. If we want better teachers to school our children it should be OUR decision and we should vote on it, not the result of an act of extortion holding the education of our children hostage…

At least not held hostage by the publicly elected school boards and city government, no way, they have their hands completely tied.  Since apparently the Millwright’s union at some point got someone’s hands tied at their industry and now they’re sucking out $100k wages!  The injustice!  Why, I’m sure that with a little on-the-job training, I could build a turbine and repair it and get a second job at Wal-Mart to boot if I want some luxury like paying my light bill.
I would ask of each of you in your next union meeting to call for a vote for condemning the teacher’s union strike and for issuing a public statement that your union does not support in any way the current strike in Chicago…It will probably get shot down but what the hell..
Yes, it will probably get shot down, just the way it is on that page, because thankfully there’s some union members who got a decent education from a union paid teacher.
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O’Brien of Worcester City Council Gets It

“When someone tosses out venom and inaccurate statements, they must be answered,” he said. “This will pass legal muster, I am confident of that. The doomsday scenario that the city will have to pay legal costs is a red herring. The statement that is based on politics is also a red herring. I could care less whether this hurts me politically; I’m more concerned about whether this hurts my moral compass. To me, this is an important first step for this council and this city.” [bold ours]

This said by a city councilman at a meeting of the Worcester city council on which a new Responsible Employer ordinance was voted on this week.  The ordinance will specifically focus on contractor bid jobs for the municipality.  The words reflect a moral courage that we need to see more often.  As Mr O’Brien states, doing the right thing often has nothing to do with getting another vote, opinion polls or the endless chatter of the media.  Instead when one sits in a position of government, with the power to decide on their city’s future, they must consider the residents of that city.  Mr. O’Brien did.

Those who voted against the measure threatened that it wouldn’t stand up to the courts and of course end the world as we know it.

“Before the vote was taken, Mrs. Lukes spoke against it, saying the council would in effect be managing competition for city construction projects by limiting the companies eligible to bid on them to union shops.

She contended that the ordinance will increase the costs of city construction project by 20 percent to 30 percent.

“To what extent does free enterprise exist?” Mrs. Lukes asked. “This is bad for taxpayers, it’s bad for business and it’s bad for this country. This is more of a political decision than anything else.

“We are taking a vote that is going to lose in the courts,” she added. “I expect the courts to throw this out. The taxpayers seem to lose all around in this process.”

Ms. Laken has a point.  As construction company’s practices now do not resemble anything like the union’s and do not favor worker’s interests, yes, they might have some catching up to do.  But, that has to do with prioritizing business strategies.  Unions demand that companies, in exchange for stable, trained and well managed workers, agree to certain sets of standards in their operational priorities.  Sure cost adjustments will be required, but large companies fit to bid on commercial projects generally aren’t going to suffer the small monetary gains in order to possibly reap advantage.

The model that Ms. Laken draws upon as calling unions uncompetitive — which she does when one considers her claim that now that the tables are shifted, the non-union shops no longer have the competitive edge; that edge is based on priorities.  As a municipality that represents all people and must have within its logical interest, the financial welfare of all, then worrying about the bottom lines of businesses is not her business, especially when protecting wealth accumulation of the few over the benefit of the many — the residents she supposedly represents.

Ms. Laken uses the tired and worn-out claim that somehow looking out for the workers will not benefit employers.  Threatening that companies could suffer a 20 -30% loss of business.  While one can certainly dispute the figures,  when Ms. Laken cries about a “free market” to whom shall it be free?  Then one wonders, what interest would a representative of workers in a city have above that of the workers that make up the majority of their electorate?  This begs the question on all levels of the public interest.  Why would any civil servant believe that policies that benefit the few, especially at the expense of the many constitute worthy policies?

When this country has suffered nearly a quarter century under deregulation and now has started to reap its results, how can anyone of reasonable mind continue to support such “free market” ideology, the very ideology that has soiled this democracy.

The issue at dispute in this city council meeting encapsulates the attack on all working people that has caused the erosion of the value of a workday for all from waitresses to teachers, to mechanics to office workers.  Workers have taken on the chin the stagnation of their wages and the simultaneous rises in the cost of living.  Strangled by the false prophet of supply-side, Laffer Curve driven economics that intentionally benefited the chosen few, workers have had enough.

Attempting to claw through by leveraging their lives and hopes of bank offered credit, continuing to have faith in the educational system, taking on debt sometimes larger than a first house mortgage, suffering a pock-marked safety net and an increasingly unavailable healthcare system, workers have had enough.

Then along comes someone in a city council to belly-ache about the businesses.  Along comes a presidential candidate that sneers at the masses like so many ignorant peasants.  Workers have watched and sat quietly at home, thrown out, removed, disposed of, laid waste and left to rot on unemployment checks, as their source of sustenance moves off the continent or into oblivion; a shell of flaking bricks and crumbling mortar.

Workers have struggled alone, in silence, like champs, like martyrs from the most extreme religious sect, long hoping for redemption from something, even if it has no relation to the hell of earth.  Struggled with the pain of cancer eating their bodies, struggled with their bodies screaming in pain, rotting away with no relief.  Turned away by blind bureaucratic bodies designed for profit and not for care, they suffer alone and do not blame the system they grew up to believe in; the system of free enterprise.

They never blame the businesses, protected by petty politicians and plundering plutocrats.  Plutocrats who with the politicians as their soldiers, point the finger back at the worker and tell them, “Find your enemy within, it is not us.”  while they have their hand on the noose on every worker’s neck.  Plutocrats hire those who will work for less so they can profit more and when those not hired express anger, the plutocrats point their finger, “Find your enemy within, its not us.”

And so it is, the man from another country, the weak, the hungry, the jobless, the ones less able to fight back.

Now that has finished as well.  Finally workers have begun to figure out, to learn that all of us together are workers, whether born here, whether a woman or a man. Workers know that the sick were workers too, could be workers in the future.  Workers know the hungry is a worker without a job, the family has workers that need jobs, that need sustenance and when all workers fight together, in unison, against the forces of the plutocrat, the worker wins.

Read the entire article in the News Telegram.

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