Let the Bailouts Begin

Bush’s Billion-Dollar Bail Out

copyright © 2008 Betsy L. Angert

Tis true.  For days, if not weeks, months, or years the country has been in a state of financial crisis.  Americans experience what it means when the President of the United States says he will act boldly.  Economically, he has been brazen.  Our current Chief Executive unabashedly embraces businesses, just as he had in his private pursuits before he entered the Oval Office.  Bush policies allow corporations to run free.  If need be, he says, as he did early on in his Administration, Let the bailouts begin.  

Today the need to extend financial relief to American corporations is far more dire than it had been in the past.  Estimates place the figure at 1.8 Trillion dollars; that is trillion.  with a “T.”  

Conservative calculations state the amount needed as $700 billion.  However, several say that appraisal only refers to an aspect of the aid, the shaky assets now on the books of financial firms.  As he reflected on the exact amount to be paid out and the delicate balancing act of bailouts, Thomas A. Renyi, former chairman of Bank of New York Mellon, said, “Psychologically, it’s very, very important.”  What is said and done must be amenable to the people, big and small.

What George W. Bush and his Administration have done was in accord with the desires of the few; the millionaires and billionaires were pleased.  Enterprise has always been the way of entrepreneurs.  The others, the masses did not realize how the decisions might matter to them.  As long as the plebs worked as economic slaves had for eons, no questions would be asked.  Workers believed in the American dream.  Doubt rose only when the size of bailouts grew.  Now, in September 2008, what began as a bailout or two has emerged.  Americans are faced with an enormous nightmare.  However, this need not be a surprise.  Citizens of this country might instead inquire, are they willing to compromise the future.  Americans could also consider the question; can the United States economy continue to survive on credit.

As of last week, people pondered as they had not before.  Countless considered American history and how each Administration altered financial stability.

It seemed the poor, the wage earners, and the salaried associates poured their hearts and souls into work.  None realized substantive reward.  Nonetheless, for the most part the populace was content.  Everyday people paid taxes.  Yet, the public received few services.  Under the direction of President Bush, the blood sweat and tears of American labor went mostly to the levies that were and perhaps will be lent to those who earned billions in profits.

In recent years, rich business owners manufactured only liabilities.  Still, their securities were preserved by a business friendly President Bush.  

For decades, as deregulation flourished, more so since Bush, the American people lived on credit, as did the conglomerates.  The difference being, with George Walker Bush in the Oval Office, businesses had a friend on Pennsylvania Avenue who would help them out.  Those who reside on Main Street did not.  There was no one to turn to if you were among the working people.  Yet, a conversation has begun.  Recent talk of greater bailouts for bankrupt businesses reminds Americans of what they hoped would pass without fanfare; recession, depression, financial despair.

Since George W. Bush and his corporate cronies came into power, average Americans have experienced one economic catastrophe after another.  Budgetary surpluses realized in the 1990s were depleted.  Monetary gains for the Middle Class are but a myth.  Perchance, in the past an individual could realize an increased income.  However, that was then, pre-President George W. Bush.  Today, economically, the United States has failed.  Earlier in the year, a Los Angeles Times poll concluded 75% blame Bush’s policies for an economy gone badly.  The American Research Group, Incorporated states, at present, George W. Bush’s Overall Job Approval is at an all time low.  Eighty-two percent (82%) say the national economy is getting worse.  Countless cannot imagine that is possible.

As President Bush and his appointees protect the nation from monetary doom, banks file for bankruptcy.  Bear Sterns, one of the largest global investment banks and brokerage firms, finally buckled under pressure, after two brushes with near death.  Billions of dollars in toxic mortgage-backed debt could no longer be erased from the books.  Liabilities could not be hidden from view.  Arrears ultimately appear, if not in ledgers, in the effect it has on an affluent culture gone wild with irrational exuberance.  The corporate love of cash has created what America now experiences as a crash.

Businesses benefited from the Bush budget.  Decrees of deregulation allowed for imbalance.  Income inequity became common.  The public struggled to save greenbacks.  Most, in what was once the Middle Class had adequate access to the dollars they needed.  

Currently, Americans can barely count on a regular paycheck.  Permanent employment is thought to be a luxury of the past.  Companies are strapped for cash as are employees.  Some, in the richest nation on the planet, are barely able to survive.  The common folk are fearful of what might happen if the economy sinks further into a doldrums.  People run to banks only to withdraw their holdings.  They sense the fiscal boom has gone bust.  

In July 2008, there was little time to indulge.  The lazy days of summer did not calm those with substantive concerns.  Only George W. Bush, his family, and friends found solace in the statement, “The fundamentals are strong.”  Presidential candidate, John McCain’s use of the words only hours ago did nothing to quell the concern citizens in this country have felt for too long.  A Nobel laureate, Joseph E. Stiglitz, envisions a generation will be lost in the struggle to recover.  He writes in the The Economic Consequences of Mr. Bush, The next president will have to deal with yet another crippling legacy of George W. Bush: the economy.

Average Americans understood this.  They knew they could not rest.  The poor and those far from prosperous realized they had reason to act.  In droves, people ran to retrieve their assets.  IndyMac, a large mortgage bank, was seized by Federal regulators.  The second-largest bank failure in United States history occurred after anxious customers attempted to claim their deposits.  A massive run on the bank left the financial institution short of reserves.  George W. Bush sat tight, safe in the sanctuary of the Oval Office.

One business after another collapsed.  Conglomerates crumbled.  Corporations tumbled.  The people in the middle were taxed.  Most of the news coverage focused on the fiscal devastation companies felt.  Men and women without jobs, people who were fearful of an eminent foreclosure read of the monster mortgage firms, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.  The Federal Reserve pledged to provide as much as $100 billion for each of these ill-fated establishments.  Stunned, John and Jane Does said nothing.  They only wondered why no one made funds available to them.  Few thought the President would come to their aid.  Visions of the victims of (name a recent calamity) raced through the heads of those hurt by an economic crisis.

Then, security firms stepped into the mix of mergers and mega-moneyed bailouts.  Lehman Brothers, another global investment bank declared itself in a state of crisis.  This firm also concluded they would file for bankruptcy.  On this occasion, historians affirmed, this liquidation was the largest in United States history.  The company founded in 1850 had flourished.  Now, it was said to have perished.  However, as death waited at the door, some associates did not feel they could rest in peace.

The staff in Britain was furious when they learned Lehman Brothers’ colleagues in the New York office were expected to share in a $2.5 billion bonus bonanza. Associates in the United Kingdom were told they  would be paid just until the end of the month.  Perhaps, wealth is not meant for everyday workers.  A spokesman for the Trade Union Congress, the national trade union centre in the Great Britain, which represents the vast majority of organized workers surmised: “It looks like those that will suffer the most from the Lehman Brothers collapse are those at the bottom of the corporate chain while many of those at the top will be looked after.”  

The Union representative went on to reflect; junior staffers would suffer.  “Few may have sympathy for the red braced bonus receivers but there will be many more lowly staff facing real hardship.”  A British employee of Lehman Brothers mused only those in the United States are saved from financial ruin; however, in truth, even in America, those without remain without.  

For ages, personnel did not prosper whether they lived here in the States or abroad.  Ordinary people feel the pain corporations complain of.  If the cost of doing business climbs, the consumer is required to pay the price.

Health care premiums have increased by over 80 percent. . . .  Premiums are rising twice as fast as wages and inflation.  . . .  The number of uninsured Americans has increased every year since President Bush took office, from 39.8 million in 2000 to a record high of 46.6 million in 2005.  (1) . . .

Gas prices have climbed over $3 a gallon.  Prices at the gas pump have jumped 107 percent from $1.47 per gallon the week President Bush took office in January 2001 (3) to $ 3.05 in the latest week of energy price data.  (4)  . . .

Housing affordability has reached a 15-year low.  In 2006, housing affordability reached its lowest level since 1991.  (9)  According to the Washington Post, “the scarcity of affordable housing is a deepening national crisis, and not just for inner-city families on welfare.  The problem has climbed the income ladder and moved to the suburbs, where service workers cram their families into overcrowded apartments, college graduates have to crash with their parents, and firefighters, police officers and teachers can’t afford to live in the communities they serve.” (10)

The tragedies did not end.  On September 15, 2008, Merrill Lynch, expressed a fear.  Might this company suffer the same fate as Lehman.  Merrill Lynch tycoons moved quickly.  The company sold itself to Bank of America for $50 billion.  Many mused; the transaction was quite a steal.  However, few were relieved.  Americans, now savvy soothsayers said, what would be next.

Less than twenty-four hours passed before there was news.  September 16, 2008, was a typical day for Americans.  However, that changed when The Federal Reserve agreed to rescue the American International Group.  The United States government was slated to control an 80 percent stake in the insurer.  Yes, even Insurers seek assurance from the Administration when they cannot pay their bills.  Only citizens cannot come to the White House with claims.  

The American people are the Insurer under George W. Bush.  The people are expected to bailout every business, and they do.  Yet, now, the load, the loans have become too great a burden to bear.  Americans are angry.  Most feel powerless.  For too long they have stayed silent.  No one seems to know what to say anymore.  Perhaps it is too late to protest or proclaim.  Yet, fortunately some one has.

Senator Bernie Sanders reflected upon the Hard Truths About the Bailouts, or the ultimate bailout.  This week, the Bush Administration pledged to pay seven hundred billion to one trillion in taxpayer dollars to businesses that engaged in dubious credit practices, and the Vermont Senator voiced his trepidation.

Sanders Op-Ed: Billions for Bailouts!  Who Pays?

By Senator Bernie Sanders

September 19, 2008

The current financial crisis facing our country has been caused by the extreme right-wing economic policies pursued by the Bush administration.  These policies, which include huge tax breaks for the rich, unfettered free trade and the wholesale deregulation of commerce, have resulted in a massive redistribution of wealth from the middle class to the very wealthy.  

The middle class has really been under assault.  Since President Bush has been in office, nearly 6 million Americans have slipped into poverty, median family income for working Americans has declined by more than $2,000, more than 7 million Americans have lost their health insurance, over 4 million have lost their pensions, foreclosures are at an all time high, total consumer debt has more than doubled, and we have a national debt of over $9.7 trillion dollars.

While the middle class collapses, the richest people in this country have made out like bandits and have not had it so good since the 1920s.  The top 0.1 percent now earns more money than the bottom 50 percent of Americans, and the top 1 percent owns more wealth than the bottom 90 percent.  The wealthiest 400 people in our country saw their wealth increase by $670 billion while Bush has been president.  In the midst of all of this, Bush lowered taxes on the very rich so that they are paying lower income tax rates than teachers, police officers, or nurses.

Now, having mismanaged the economy for eight years as well as having lied about our situation by continually insisting, “The fundamentals of our economy are strong,” the Bush administration, six weeks before an election, wants the middle class of this country to spend many hundreds of billions on a bailout.  The wealthiest people, who have benefited from Bush’s policies and are in the best position to pay, are being asked for no sacrifice at all.  This is absurd.  This is the most extreme example that I can recall of socialism for the rich and free enterprise for the poor.

In my view, we need to go forward in addressing this financial crisis by insisting on four basic principles:

(1) The people who can best afford to pay and the people who have benefited most from Bush’s economic policies are the people who should provide the funds for the bailout.  It would be immoral to ask the middle class, the people whose standard of living has declined under Bush, to pay for this bailout while the rich, once again, avoid their responsibilities.  Further, if the government is going to save companies from bankruptcy, the taxpayers of this country should be rewarded for assuming the risk by sharing in the gains that result from this government bailout.

Specifically, to pay for the bailout, which is estimated to cost up to $1 trillion, the government should:

a)  Impose a five-year, 10 percent surtax on income over $1 million a year for couples and over $500,000 for single taxpayers.  That would raise more than $300 billion in revenue;

b) Ensure that assets purchased from banks are realistically discounted so companies are not rewarded for their risky behavior and taxpayers can recover the amount they paid for them; and

c) Require that taxpayers receive equity stakes in the bailed-out companies so that the assumption of risk is rewarded when companies’ stock goes up.

(2) There must be a major economic recovery package which puts Americans to work at decent wages.  Among many other areas, we can create millions of jobs rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure and moving our country from fossil fuels to energy efficiency and sustainable energy.  Further, we must protect working families from the difficult times they are experiencing.  We must ensure that every child has health insurance and that every American has access to quality health and dental care, that families can send their children to college, that seniors are not allowed to go without heat in the winter, and that no American goes to bed hungry.

(3) Legislation must be passed which undoes the damage caused by excessive de-regulation.  That means reinstalling the regulatory firewalls that were ripped down in 1999.  That means re-regulating the energy markets so that we never again see the rampant speculation in oil that helped drive up prices.  That means regulating or abolishing various financial instruments that have created the enormous shadow banking system that is at the heart of the collapse of AIG and the financial services meltdown.

(4) We must end the danger posed by companies that are “too big too fail,” that is, companies whose failure would cause systemic harm to the U.S. economy.  If a company is too big to fail, it is too big to exist.  We need to determine which companies fall in this category and then break them up.  Right now, for example, the Bank of America, the nation’s largest depository institution, has absorbed Countrywide, the nation’s largest mortgage lender, and Merrill Lynch, the nation’s largest brokerage house.  We should not be trying to solve the current financial crisis by creating even larger, more powerful institutions.  Their failure could cause even more harm to the entire economy.

The words ring so true.  Several, too many, or most have not spoken of what caused them great distress in recent years.  The public accepts and allows this Administration to run rampant.  The electorate acknowledges what is reality for them only when in seclusion.  American people have become apathetic.  However, the statistics scream out and a Senator shrieks.  Perhaps it is time to ask, can citizens of this country permit this latest proposed policy to stand.  Might it be time to face the financial crisis, or will more days, weeks, months, or years go by.  Will the people remain passive and agree to another bailout, bigger than any other has been?

Might Americans again adopt the refrain, “Let the Bailout begin,” or will the people ponder their own fate first and declare it is time for a complete change.  Could it be time to embrace other than a free market mentality and the plans of a President who put us into this precarious situation.  Will the commoner and the conglomerate submit to the counsel of Senator Bernie Sanders and say, we must no longer rely on credit to survive.  The United States is at a turning point.  Might the average American chose to state, “Let the Bailouts end!”  “Lets us balance our books!”

Sources For Financial Security and Strife . . .

The State of the Union is Strong?

The Real State of the Union… Call Bush’s Bluff

copyright © 2008 Betsy L. Angert

In 2007, the State of the Union was not as we were told it was; nor is it as we were told it would be.  Each year, and for eight long years, George W. Bush promised to unite us, and perhaps he has more so than most other Presidents.  Collectively, Republicans and Democrats alike understand that as a nation we are not strong.  

We have not been judicious with our capital.  The President has not provided financial security as promised.

To extend this nation’s prosperity; to spend the people’s money wisely; to solve problems, not leave them to future generations; to guard America against all evil; and to keep faith with those we have sent forth to defend us. (Applause.)

A Nobel laureate, Joseph E. Stiglitz, believes Americans will not recover economically from a George W. Bush presidency for at least a generation.  The next President, the person who follows that individual into the Oval Office, and even those who enter the White House later will be part of a struggle to recover from the economic catastrophe this President created.

The Economic Consequences of Mr. Bush

By Joseph E. Stiglitz

Vanity Fair

December 2007

When we look back someday at the catastrophe that was the Bush administration, we will think of many things: the tragedy of the Iraq war, the shame of Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib, the erosion of civil liberties. The damage done to the American economy does not make front-page headlines every day, but the repercussions will be felt beyond the lifetime of anyone reading this page.

I can hear an irritated counterthrust already. The president has not driven the United States into a recession during his almost seven years in office. Unemployment stands at a respectable 4.6 percent. Well, fine. But the other side of the ledger groans with distress: a tax code that has become hideously biased in favor of the rich; a national debt that will probably have grown 70 percent by the time this president leaves Washington; a swelling cascade of mortgage defaults; a record near-$850 billion trade deficit; oil prices that are higher than they have ever been; and a dollar so weak that for an American to buy a cup of coffee in London or Paris-or even the Yukon-becomes a venture in high finance.

And it gets worse. After almost seven years of this president, the United States is less prepared than ever to face the future. We have not been educating enough engineers and scientists, people with the skills we will need to compete with China and India. We have not been investing in the kinds of basic research that made us the technological powerhouse of the late 20th century. And although the president now understands-or so he says-that we must begin to wean ourselves from oil and coal, we have on his watch become more deeply dependent on both.

Up to now, the conventional wisdom has been that Herbert Hoover, whose policies aggravated the Great Depression, is the odds-on claimant for the mantle “worst president” when it comes to stewardship of the American economy. Once Franklin Roosevelt assumed office and reversed Hoover’s policies, the country began to recover. The economic effects of Bush’s presidency are more insidious than those of Hoover, harder to reverse, and likely to be longer-lasting. There is no threat of America’s being displaced from its position as the world’s richest economy. But our grandchildren will still be living with, and struggling with, the economic consequences of Mr. Bush.

Nonetheless, a man who reminds us that his legacy is not important to him, a President who frequently states, history will decide how well he did, performed miserably.  Some believe we are in a recession.  Others claim the economy is decidedly depressed.  So too are the people.  The common folk are perhaps in greater need of mental health care services.  Daily stresses in America have taken a toil.  Physically, we fare no better.  The expense of medical insurance and the cost of services to aid in our well being cripple our citizenry.  When ill or injured, millions delay before they see a physician.  The expense is thought more painful than a cure.  In the last state of the Union, President Bush addressed this issue.

A future of hope and opportunity requires that all our citizens have affordable and available health care. (Applause.) When it comes to health care, government has an obligation to care for the elderly, the disabled, and poor children. And we will meet those responsibilities. For all other Americans, private health insurance is the best way to meet their needs. (Applause.) But many Americans cannot afford a health insurance policy.

Our offspring can least afford Health Care Services.  The babies are dependent on Mom and Dad for medical coverage.  Parents can no longer provide as they did years ago.  Jobs no longer last for life.  Benefits are not a given.  Employers, who feel the impact of an economy gone wrong, also understand the problem with the current Health Care system.  Numerous corporations and institutions have dropped insurance plans from personnel contracts. Our little ones are in dire straits.  While the Federal government once helped to ensure that, at least the children would be cared for, since the Compassionate Conservative concluded he was the ultimate decider, our progeny suffer in silence.

Bush Vetoes Children’s Health Bill

By David Stout

The New York Times

October 3, 2007

President Bush vetoed the children’s health insurance bill today, as he had pledged to do, setting the stage for more negotiations between the White House and Congress and sparking unusual dismay from some prominent Republicans.

Mr. Bush wielded his pen with no fanfare just before leaving for a visit to Lancaster, Pa. The veto was only the fourth of Mr. Bush’s presidency, and it may have spawned the most anger, not just from Democrats but also from some members of Mr. Bush’s own party.

To cause confusion among colleagues once was not enough.  To hinder parents whose only desire was to provide for their progeny did not seem Presidential.  To repeat the practice would be unthinkable.  America wept for her children and will the stroke of a pen continues to cry.  

As Expected, Bush Vetoes SCHIP Bill Again

By Martin Kady II

CBS News

December 12, 2007

(The Politico) For the second time, President Bush has vetoed a major expansion of the children’s health insurance program, making it clear that the debate will linger as a political issue throughout 2008.

In 2008, and far beyond this New Year, Americans will feel the pain of policies invoked by the Bush Administration.  We may recall, that in 2000, two oil men entered the White House.  With the Blessings of oil magnate Bush, Vice President Cheney met with other industry leaders and devised an energy policy for the benefit of friends and family.  The White House did not seek to invest in alternative fuels.  The profits from petroleum were great.  There was no reason for change. Corporations prospered and the people need only line the pockets of those in power.  While the President’s words were wondrous . . .

On Oil Prices Topping $100 a Barrel

By Speaker Pelosi

Wednesday, January 2nd, 2008

It is unfortunate that President Bush opposed our legislation to repeal multi-billion dollar subsidies given to Big Oil companies. We will again seek to repeal these subsidies and to enact strong legislation to stop price gouging at the pump and pursue anti-trust actions against OPEC entities that fix the price of oil.

Perchance oil has always been the main issue.  Originally, for George W. Bush, crude would certainly help America to remain on the road to prosperity, or at least the United States citizens who own petroleum pumps would do well.  Indeed, for those at the top, times are good.

This economy is on the move, and our job is to keep it that way.

Indeed, it is Mister President.  Economically, America spirals downward.  There is no stability in the  market or market place.  Our scant dollars are in decline.  Our hopes and dreams have been all but destroyed.  The average citizen cannot be certain from day-to-day whether they will have a job.   If an individual is privileged enough to work, will their income remain the same.  Some workers are asked to labor for less.  New hires are offered a lower wage.  More Americans live without a job, and without hope.  This tumble downward began early in the Bush Years.

Poverty rate in U.S. rises as median income falls

Weak economy trimming middle class earnings, too

By Robert Pear

?New York Times

September 25, 2002

Washington – The proportion of Americans living in poverty rose significantly last year, increasing for the first time in eight years, the Census Bureau reported Tuesday.

At the same time, the bureau said that the income of middle-class households fell for the first time since the last recession ended in 1991.

The Census Bureau’s annual report on income and poverty provided evidence that the weakening economy had begun to affect large segments of the population, regardless of race, region, or class. Daniel Weinberg, chief of income and poverty statistics at the Census Bureau, said the recession that began in March 2001 had reduced the earnings of millions of Americans.

The report also suggested that the gap between rich and poor continued to grow.

All regions except the Northeast experienced a decline in household income, the bureau reported. For blacks, it was the first significant decline in two decades; non-Hispanic whites saw a slight decline. Even the incomes of Asian and Pacific Islanders, a group that achieved high levels of prosperity in the 1990s, went down significantly last year.

The Census Bureau said the number of poor Americans rose last year to 32.9 million, an increase of 1.3 million, while the proportion living in poverty rose to 11.7%, from 11.3% in 2000. Median household income fell to $42,228 in 2001, a decline of $934, or 2.2%, from the prior year. The number of households with income above the median is the same as the number below it.

We continue to bleed.  Americans can no longer find shelter from the storm of Bush, his policies, and the ploys now in place, each of which favors big business, banks, and balloon payments.  Citizens of this country find themselves out on the streets, or in homes that are not worth what they once were.

America’s Hardest-Hit Foreclosure Spots

Matt Woolsey


January 28, 2008

What could be worse than getting behind on mortgage payments? Owing your lender more than your home is worth.

That’s what’s happening to homeowners across the country, many of whom just a couple of years ago opted for interest-only or adjustable-rate mortgages. For them, just as their loans reset and interest rates rose, home values began to plummet, leaving them with negative equity; this is where their mortgage is greater than the value of their home.

Of course, some homeowners started off walking a shakier tightrope than others. Many subprime borrowers acquired piggyback mortgages, where a second mortgage covered the downpayment, leaving them with negative equity from the beginning. Congress’s Joint Economic Committee estimates that 2 million Americans will lose their home over the next two years, a figure in line with most research firms and rating agencies.

Who is most feeling the crunch? Using data from RealtyTrac, a national firm that tracks foreclosures using data from multiple listing services, bank-owned property records, bankruptcy records, loan histories, tax liens and lender information, we evaluated which of the nation’s counties had the most negative equity loans, by examining all loans currently in foreclosure.

Our President failed us economically.  He failed to ensure our energy independence.  Mister Bush did not provide adequate Health Care for our children or us.  George W. Bush moved us closer to poverty and kicked Americans to the curb.  We need not delve into the subject of war or Iraq.  There is enough pain without that discussion.  The President of the United States, George W. Bush has failed us, or perchance we, the people have caused our own demise.

America, we have done nothing to prevent this President from acting as though he has absolute power.  We have but a year left in this term.  Will we, the people continue to watch George W. Bush destroy the nation and shred the Constitution.  Citizens of this once great country, you have a choice.  Move to impeach this Administration, or watch as we wane further.  The future is in your hands.

The State of the Union, The Slide, The Sources . . .

Alert; 10,000 Apply For Wal-Mart Jobs!

copyright © Judith Moriarty

Candidates having been raising millions of dollars  and traveling (or private jets) around the country in luxury buses,  arguing over who has the most ‘experience’ – who is a Mormon (therefore disqualified) – who’s not a true Republican (Ron Paul) who’s picking on Hillary (Edwards) – who can grab the Evangelical vote – who is totally ignored (Kucinich) – who claims 911 makes him the protector of us all  etc; the real story of what is happening in America (evictions – foreclosures – unemployment) is being totally ignored!

This EXPERIENCE from those who’ve been in Foggy Bottom so long that they’re mildewed  –  has resulted in the rusting and disappearance of the American dream.

10,000 hopefuls…keep eyes open for job at Wal-Mart

By Helena Oliviero

Atlantic Journal Constitution

January 11, 2008

10,000 keep eyes open for job at Wal-Mart. “For the fourth consecutive day people waited in long lines for a shot at a new Wal-Mart in Dekalb County, pushing the total number of applicants beyond 10,000!

Beginning Monday, after no advertising or any signs, the throngs of hopeful applicants continued to pour into a church converted into a job-processing center –all vying for only 350 available jobs.  The job seeking FRENZY may be a peek into a larger economic picture. Wal-Mart has long declined to reveal starting salaries at the store, but reports that the average hourly wage for full time  associates is $10.65 an hour.”

Note: Wal-Mart hires people on at mostly part time positions.  Most alarming  is that Wal-Mart is our nation’s largest employer .  We no longer mfg the quality goods that America was known for. Now Wal-Mart is filled with Chinese goods of inferior quality !  Ten dollars an hour  is not a livable wage in these economic times of escalating prices!


  • 10,000 hopefuls…keep eyes open for job at Wal-Mart, By Helena Oliviero.  Atlantic Journal Constitution. January 11, 2008

  • Super Power – Now Running On Empty

    copyright © Judith Moriarty

    You’ll never meet these folks.  They represent the hundreds of thousands who have been kicked to the curb these past years (from Clinton’s NAFTA in ’94 until the current time).  A ‘restructuring’ company (better known as hatchet men) took over their company in 2004 with lofty promises of Jobs etc.  Fact is – these companies buy and resale companies.  They were informed right before Christmas that they (122 people) no longer had a job by Watermill (International) Ventures.  The company only decided to give two weeks severance pay due to the Governor’s intervention.  Naturally, all their health benefits etc went out the window.  Some of these folks had worked at this DECENT paying Modular Home Company for decades.  They bought homes here (Claremont) and have children in college.  These employees were highly skilled.

    They were the leading builder here in New England of energy efficient modular homes/ businesses etc.  They have won numerous awards for their outstanding craftsmanship and have been featured in many building etc, magazines.

    This is a sample kitchen.

    This is one of their energy efficient homes.

    The skilled carpenters and craftsmen at CSI trained youngsters.  This was not addressed in the numerous news articles (nor their great work).  Today kids are leaving school – they seek men who will mentor and train them in skills they can use!  They are not interested in perpetual testing and social engineering.  Now this great gift to our area’s children is lost.  Do the corporate predators care?  No – they’re in the business of profits not the future of children.

    While we are kept dutifully distracted with the drunken antics of air headed starlets (called breaking news) or the theater of mud slinging politics, few are aware of what’s happening in their own state, let alone what is happening across the nation.  What ‘breaking news’ announced the closing of Maytag – in business for 114 years?  The thousands losing their jobs due to this closure (parts – appliance stores – businesses in town) wasn’t deemed newsworthy?  Mike, leaving Maytag, on the last day, doesn’t know where he’s going to turn.  He was four years short of receiving his pension.  Not so with our politicians.  They needn’t invest 30 years before they’re eligible for pension.

    A mere five years will see them given life long pensions (the longer in office the bigger the pension).  Unlike work a day folks whose pensions are stolen – they receive pensions with yearly cost of living increases (plus life long medical coverage).  This is WHY you see such a detachment on the election circuit.  Those in cradle to grave political jobs have long ago lost any empathic understanding of men in their late 40s – 50s – 60s suddenly jobless in a nation without jobs (livable wage jobs that is).

    Maine and New Hampshire have seen their paper/pulp mills closed.  Like Maytag – the move is on to China.  The usual patronizing PR of job retraining   is lauded – and then, these men (families) get lost in the shuffle of time.  This job retraining is a colossal joke.  Another story.

    We hear of massive foreclosures across the nation.  The media would have you believe that every one, and his brother, is losing their homes because they bought homes they couldn’t afford.  When mills, and manufacturing plants close, duh, banks don’t care if you can’t pay a mortgage.  These steel mills (gone to China etc) forged the steel for our ships, planes (WWII) built the Empire State Building and the Golden Gate Bridge etc.  The fuel company, electric company, etc, aren’t interested in your plight when the mill closes.  You’re on your own after unemployment runs out.  You’re now thrown into a job market where people highly educated with numerous degrees are being thrown overboard.

    When a  company leaves  town, all the supporting businesses,  where employees shopped go belly up.  People worried about buying milk for the kids or keeping the lights on aren’t buying  seafood, winter clothing, shoes, or pizza.  Restaurants and movie houses don’t take promissory notes.  The truth is  America (due to drastic cutbacks) has no safety net.  The only bailouts in the USA are for the corporate destroyers; loans, grants, subsidies, tax breaks etc.  Towns boarded and closed search for investments such as  box stores, foreign companies (promising JOBS) , high-end condos,   or malls!  All of which produce nothing and do not contribute to the fiscal health of a town.

    Years of paying a bank,  twice as much for a home  (with interest)  goes up in smoke when you miss a few payments.  These mortgages held by foreign/corporate conglomerates don’t care if you end up living in your car, in a tent or under a bridge.

    It is really quite insulting and degrading to hear officials laud the future opening of a foreign owned Tap Water/plastic bottle plant as a viable option to replace that job as  a skilled craftsman!  There appears to be this mindset that ‘any job will do’!  These same officials don’t see their own positions (yearly raises – bonuses) being replaced !  You’d be hard pressed to see them identifying filling bottles with water, (making the molds) for $7.25 an hour  (maybe $8.00)  as an adequate job  to live on (pay their mortgage – car payments – etc).

    Steel workers in Pittsburgh were advised to get that job at Wal-Mart (part time of course).  Filled with Chinese junk – it’s little wonder one cannot find anything Made In America.  Wal-Mart is our nation’s largest employer.  This should frighten people no end (also NH’s largest employee).

    In the end, Corporate Greed (paid 400x more than common worker)  is destroying the nation.  In 1886, the Supreme Court declared that corporations were  henceforth to be considered ‘persons’ under the law, with all of the constitutional rights that designation implies.  Throughout the 19th and early 20th centuries, corporations reshaped every aspect of life in America and much of the rest of the world.  The factory system turned self-sufficient small farmers into wage – earners and transformed the family from an interdependent economic production unit into a consumption- oriented collection of individuals with separate jobs.  Advertising turned productive citizens into ‘consumers’.

    Business leaders campaigned to create public schools to train children in factory- system obedience to schedules and in the performance of isolated, meaningless tasks.  And now ?  Corporations came to own and dominate sources all information and entertainment and  the control of politicians and judges.  Once upon a time, the robber barons influenced Washington.  Now they sit on the cabinet and have been appointed to the positions of influence.  The great exodus of immigrants taking place worldwide is their doing.  Be it the UK – Sweden – France – the US – etc) the name of the GAME is cheap labor.  The American – Mexican – UK etc, dream was all an illusion.  Trade agreements  make slaves of us all.  

    Steel Mills To Slot Machine Nation

    copyright © Judith Moriarty

    Few realize that America, the America of old, is rusting away, and being sold off to transnational companies/ speculators.  These mutants are loyal to no land and no people.  Their sole reason for existence is profits and power.  Isolated as we are, one from another, the folks in the Florida Keys for example; have no knowledge of the paper mills in northern NH closing down putting hundreds out of work or of the numerous foreclosures in Michigan and Ohio.  Who has paid the slightest bit of attention.  as the steel mills, textile, mills, ship yards, and manufacturing jobs disappeared?  

    Nightly a small blurb on the ‘news’ announces that another several thousand are gone!  Yawn!  The major part of America’s news broadcasts are spent on the latest tabloid gossip.  While these plant closures may be headline news in local towns, the majority of the nation is oblivious.  Those running for office (with all their lofty promises) certainly aren’t holding their so- called debates at the empty Maytag plant, in desolate Detroit, or in an abandoned mill!  

    Meantime, the joke of job retraining is touted, as the answer to men, who’ve spent their entire lives forging steel, cutting logs, or on an assembly line.  A few weeks at some computer course, is supposed to have these scarred men, able to compete with hundreds of thousands of college graduates looking for jobs!  Please.  Meantime, even this ridiculous program is being cut.  President Bush needs the money to build dozens of bases in Iraq, and keep the 2 billion+ a week cost of the war funded.  Hundreds of thousands of unemployed men and women are the last thing on Washington’s mind!

    Those in office are all set with their lucrative salaries, medical care, and lobbying jobs for family members and yearly cost of living raises.  We pay their wages (raises) when it took them TEN years to raise the minimum wage a measly pittance!  As for medical care, we’re told we can go to the ER!  Meantime, the people are buying the usual hogwash that this time around (elections), a secular savior will restore and rebuild America.  Tell that to the folks (an example of America) in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.  

    Bethlehem Steel, was once the largest steel maker in our nation.  At one time hundreds of thousands of men were employed in her numerous mills.  A man could make a decent living without his wife having to leave the kids for that Wal-Mart job to help make ends meet.  When my dad worked at the steel mills, we had full medical coverage.  This was after the Unions came into play, protecting the rights of workers, and insisting on a livable wage.  But then doctor’s visits, prescriptions, and medical care, weren’t run by the HMOs, Insurance Companies, and Pharmaceuticals! Today we have what’s known as ‘right to work for less’.  People are hired on as ‘contractors’ (no benefits, raises, job security) or part time.  A family needs two and three jobs to keep up with the daily cost of living increases . . .

    Bethlehem Steel (Bethlehem, Pa) once employed 25,000 – 30,000 men.  American steel (not the inferior stuff imported now) built the Golden Gate Bridge, the Empire State Building, restored the White House.  Our steel supplied armies, built cities, and employed a generation.  Now steel for our nation’s projects, has to be imported from China, Korea, Japan, etc.  Bethlehem Steel saw the great hulls of our Naval ships built in her bowels . . .

    Ironically, the building that once housed the employment offices at Bethlehem Steel, now has homeless people living in its abandoned rooms . . .

    Life in a mill town revolved around the mill.  People lived, attended church, and were buried in its shadow.  There were no 500 TV channels, no computer video games, no designer clothes, cell phones, corporate agri-farms, homeless people laying in the streets, veterans living under bridges, malls, breast implants, Viagra, drugs for stress, depression, anxiety, etc.  Education was important.  Teaching went on instead of today’s social engineering.  Discipline was not a problem . . .

    People enjoyed the simple things.  The yearly carnival that came to town, bingo games, rides in the country, the swimming hole, baseball (without steroids) church picnics, and shopping downtown on payday . . .

    With the demise of the industrial age in entered the developers and speculators.  Americans were told to educate their children for the computer age.  We were to become a high- tech society.  Instead those jobs were outsourced to foreign lands or American citizens saw themselves replaced (voted by Congress) with ‘guest workers’.  Rusted mill towns saw snake oil salesmen (corporate vultures) taking advantage of impoverished regions.  They brought in their incinerators, tons of garbage, malls, condos, convention centers, fast food generic restaurants, and giant box stores filled with foreign junk . . .

    And Bethlehem?  New York developers bought the land for a song.  The plans are to open a giant casino, a mall, restaurants, and condos.  The jobs?  Blackjack dealers, security guards, janitors, waitresses, maids, cooks, retail clerks, doormen, cab drivers etc.  What will they produce?  Profits for the developers and investors.  And Bethlehem?  Why it’ll go the way of most casino towns – with its accompanying problems of crime, prostitution, and sleazy characters.  Today we see prisons, garbage, malls, casinos, and the military, as our major industries.  I’m not sure where all these gamblers are coming from in a land that is fast losing its jobs?  It’s not only the blue-collar worker but the Wall Street brokers and top management personnel.  But then I’m not a gambler.  I can’t imagine that I would risk one dollar of my money to enrich corporate vultures!

    Few realize it but a country cannot long survive when it no longer produces or manufactures the things needed to build a nation and feed its people.  When a nation is dependent on all of its goods (including food) being imported, and it has to borrow billions per day.  to support global war – the music has died.  The only songs in today’s land are the sound of lonely taps on a distant mountain cemetery.


    Forget the Green Grass of Home

    copyright © 2007 Judith Moriarty

    In America, you are not permitted to discuss the great migration of immigrants into this country in a reasoned rational manner.  The well funded PR by corporate interests; has Americans labeled as racist, bigoted, and intolerant.  The immigration of old – is held up as a banner of ‘give me your tired and huddled masses who yearn to be free’.  Since few know history, you can tell them anything today.  Everybody can identify Ronald McDonald but only a small fraction of the population can name the Secretary of State, discuss a trade agreement with you, or give the year of the Civil War.  None that I personally know can describe our monetary system or the history of the Federal Reserve.  Few realize that these numerous trade agreements, written for the benefit of multinational companies (absent any loyalty), are the reason for this great worldwide dislocation.  Including the victims!   

    It is not the immigrant (illegal or otherwise), or the American out of work, and burdened down with taxes, who is to be fully blamed.  People (deliberately so) are being propagandized into taking their frustrations, anger, and fears out on one another.  Daily we hear the drumbeat of violence on the border, Mexican gangs, schools overrun with illegal students, hospitals going bankrupt, and small town America being overrun with thousands of immigrants.  The owners of the world want to keep the victims attacking one another.  They certainly don’t want this being identified as a ‘class’ issue!  The few – ruling the many for their own good pleasure and profit!

    The truth of the matter is – the America of old is no more.  While the immigrants of yesterday  (exploited though they were) helped build a nation (bridges, railroads, highways, steel mills, textile mills, manufacturing, farming etc).  These are all things of the past.  Yesterday’s immigrants built a nation.  Today’s immigrants are meant to labor for cheap wages, on the new corporate plantation.  Someone has to serve the rich and fight their ungodly wars for more and more gold, oil, timber, water, etc.  The immigrant of today, unlike yesteryear, is afforded all kinds of assistance, relocation funds, housing allowances, job assistance counseling, stipends, etc. 

    None of this existed for those who first immigrated.  Today, the small farm is being put out of business by the corporate farms with their genetically altered Frankenstein crops.  Mexicans are flooding across the border due to a failed NAFTA (Hillary says she just remembers graphs and lines).  The small village farms in Mexico can’t compete with the tons of corporate farm produce flooding their market.  Besides, China has underbid them in cheap labor, so now even their factories are leaving.  China also is building huge ports in Mexico thus bypassing American ports (dock workers – warehousing etc).  The Mexican trucks (who cares if they’re insured or safe) now pouring in by the thousands should end the jobs for our truckers.  Fishing is already gone (visit New Bedford).  Now we’re buying seafood from China!

    The auto plants, textile mills, manufacturing plants, steel mills, paper mills, and supporting industries in America, have all gone belly-up.  Maytag (no breaking news) laid off thousands, a few weeks back and left for foreign shores!  With the help of federal subsidies etc, (helpful politicians) these industries have all been shipped to foreign lands; that accommodate the corporate hucksters of today with a larger profit margin.  They don’t have to contend with bothersome health, safety, or environmental protections in third world countries.  Labor standards – ha, work till you drop -is the corporate mantra.  Americans meantime, cannot compete with slave labor, making 32 cents to a dollar an hour!  No matter that the junk coming in; is inferior, laced with lead, or other poisons.

    China now holds America hostage, with its funding of our perpetual war- that goes about the world, bombing -shattering – melting, and shredding.  The borrower is always slave to the lender.  It’s pretty lamentable knowing that a Tiger Woods makes more for endorsing NIKI, by wearing their logo on his cap, than all the slave labor combined making these costly shoes.  What a world.  Same with the other gladiator sports stars.

    Our prisons (our newest growing industry) are filled with millions (largest incarceration in the world).  A for profit industry, needs products (prisoners), thus many imprisoned today, are there for non-violent crimes.  Would that they were in government, they’d get a pardon for their crimes.  Corporate America, has found that producing their product with prison labor; saves them the bother of a livable wage, health insurance, or maintaining a facility.  Best of all no unions and no strikes.  Old Joe Hill (early labor activist) would be put in solitary confinement.

    While the news today is filled with announcements of the invasion of Mexicans, the truth is, thousands – upon tens – of thousands; are being imported from distant war torn lands.  Then we have the multitudes of guest workers  that Congress has voted to bring in – to keep their corporate funders happy.  These visas cover everything from help for the various tourist Mecca’s, (once a place where youth worked in the summer to earn money for college) to the professional fields (teachers, nurses, doctors, engineers, and information technology).

    Since all of this is happening incrementally and insidiously – the full scope of the problem is not seen.  News is kept localized, thus those who live in Kansas have no idea of the thousands of Somalians who’ve relocated to an old mill town in Maine, nor do folks in Oklahoma, know of the paper mills closing in New Hampshire.  Who’s talking about the closed textile mills, or Detroit, that resembles a wasteland out of a Mad Max movie?

    You’ll not hear ‘breaking news’ of American workers having to train their replacements.  If they refuse, they risk  losing any chance of severance pay.

    When building a global plantation, with the ultimate goal being a redistribution of the wealth (leveling in quality of living standards); rest assured that this redistribution is our money they’re talking about, not those raking in the profits, and banking offshore, or maintaining their money in ‘hidden trusts’.  China now imports tons of contaminated products; yet, these various trade agreements disallow any inspections – recalls – or refusals.  Least we forget, globalists (not democrats) Hillary and Bill gave us NAFTA (thus the exodus from Mexico) and Most Favored Nation trading with China.  Hillary, meantime,  promised those in Silicon Valley that she would see to it,  that more guest  visas would be given, to import thousands of more foreign workers.

    Republican or Democrat, makes no matter, we now have a corporate controlled government.  One can see that those ‘working’ (I use the word lightly) in Foggy Bottom, are; merely treading water.  They have accomplished zero in the few days that they work per week.  They are punctual in voting their yearly cost of living raises and  other perks (millions in earmarks for their corporate friends back home).  Remember, the name of the GAME, is to stay in office (get that obscene pension) not to serve the people.

    Over these past several years, our governmental agencies have been quietly decimated, with corporate appointees replacing those in key positions.  Privatization of governmental services (such as the military) is being contracted out.  Thus, the disgusting mess at Walter Reed – and having to prove (true);  that your missing face, missing arm, and brain damage, is a total disability!  It’s ‘be all you can be’ till you come home all smashed up.  Everything is broken in this country – everything!

    The  fort like department of education,  meantime,  throws out new social engineering mandates  to the states on a regular basis.  Thus, the children of today can ‘feel’ good about being failures, unable to read, write a coherent paragraph, discuss a work of  literature,  or the  history of our nation.  The workers of tomorrow (cannon fodder for war) are being conditioned to groupthink – non-think – and passive, servile, compliance.  We’re not training the next Hawkins,  Eisenstein, or Mark Twain.  A look at America’s rating with the rest of the world proves my point.  The children of the elite – well connected etc, are isolated from tomorrow’s servile masses, and are being educated in private schools, with the best of equipment, teachers, and courses.  No bathroom classrooms for them, or having to contend with gangs, drug addicts, or antiquated books.  Their schools aren’t prisons with fences, security, metal detectors, and barbed wire.  They have hundreds of acres of sports, fields, science buildings, computer labs, and libraries that would put many a town’s to shame.

    The schoolroom of today with its special needs students,  and children of various ethnic backgrounds (many not speaking English) are nothing more than holding pens.  The emphasis is on passing the TEST not understanding the subject.  I can study the driver’s manual – why I could memorize it.  To what end?  If I have never sat in a car,  let alone started it up – what does it matter that I got a passing percentage!  I am still stupid in the ways of the road.  The point is, that I can ‘feel’ good knowing that I can’t drive!  Furthermore, it is a great disservice, to mix special needs/handicapped children,  into a regular classroom.  A point for another discussion – in the end all the students are being  robbed of reaching their full potential – but then maybe that’s the objective?

    What we are seeing across the nation, from Georgia, to Oregon, to the heartland, and northeast, is an ethnic cleansing of small town America.  Various cultures, languages, religious ceremonies, dress, foods, etc, make strangers of us all.  But then strangers are less apt to be unified or untied in any solidarity should there be a crisis or grave injustice that needs addressed.  The approximate 192,000 homeless veterans (including the Iraq War),  and hundreds of thousands of other homeless; living in tents (the Gulf – Seattle) and in shelters, abandoned cars etc, many displaced from their jobs by immigrant labor, are naturally angry,  seeing immigrants afforded every kind of help with housing, jobs etc.

    Texas (Houston): “There are parts of Houston where if you didn’t know better, you’d think you were in Mexico.  In Sugarland our homeowner taxes are through the roof – our schools are rife with ESL classes.  My grandchildren are in the minority in their ‘wonderful diverse student body.  Muslim students are given special accommodations while Christmas can no longer be celebrated.”  Bud Hamilton

    Like Maine – Emporia, Kansas is preparing for an influx of Somali refugees.  Emporia is a small city near the eastern Flint Hills in the sunflower state.  Emporia has a major beef processing plant for Tyson Foods.(the Clinton’s buddies).  Thousands are needed for cheap labor – thus, aha, refugees.  Because Somalis are certified as ‘humanitarian refugees’ under out State Department rules, they are to be supported by social services provided by the Office of Refugee Resettlement (Dept of Health and Human Services).

    This agency in turn contracts via state Department of Social Services with providers such as Catholic Charities to deliver services.  U.S. Taxpayers pick up the tab (this is nationwide).  Food processors like Tyson couldn’t be happier, given the tightness of the low skilled labor pool in the area.  Emporia  (as is most of the heartland) is becoming a major destination for these foot soldiers of Islam.  Because of its size (Emporia), not unlike Lewiston, Maine, will see this influx have  a substantial and taxing impact.  Other cities that have seen this influx are Indianapolis, Minneapolis, Lincoln, Kansas  City, and Nashville, to name a few.  In New Orleans,  (Gulf) thousands of immigrants were  imported for the work of  clean up.  Meantime, the tens of thousands dislocated Katrina victims,  across the nation, remain in limbo  unable to return with no housing or jobs.

    These immigrants (from Bosnia – Somalia etc) are being recruited for the lowest of low-end jobs – butchering and meatpacking.  At Swift and Company (beef processor) in Lincoln, Nebraska, butchers and meat packers quit their jobs because of insufficient ‘prayer time’.  This was accommodated and they returned.  Imagine this happening in the coalmines, steel mills, or rail line employment of former immigrants to this country.  These low paying jobs are further subsidized with the ‘earned income tax credit’  monies.  This has low earners compensated, with thousands more per year (a subsidy really for corporate owners).  This is taxpayer money.

    And so it goes across the land.  The Democrats want the votes of these immigrants, and the Republicans want the cheap labor.  The immigrants, really our new slave labor class, are mostly unskilled and illiterate.  When my husband’s family immigrated here from Newfoundland and Ireland;  they had to have a sponsor and medical clearance.  My grandparents from Russia settled in Pennsylvania.  There were no relocation agencies or housing vouchers etc.  My grandfather worked as a skilled stonemason, saved, and bought a farm.  Also a skilled carpenter, he built his home and barn (helped neighbors with theirs).  Farming his acreage,  he was totally self sufficient, and sold the excess, which they took to market by horse and wagon.  When he dropped dead in the field at age 43 my grandma and her eight children, ran the farm.

    The language of the old country was not spoken in their home.  The one room school house my aunts and uncles attended  had no remedial language classes.  Somehow, despite the hardships of rising early to attend to  chores, and walking four miles to school, they all graduated,  and went on to various professional jobs, including a doctor, nurse, newspaper editor, engineer etc.  NO – they didn’t have the excuse of being too ‘stressed out’ to excel.  It was the same thing in the mill town where I lived as a youngster.  The population were mainly immigrants.  The number one priority of parents was education.  Disrespect in the classroom was not heard of.  There were no gangs, no graffiti, no designer clothes, no violent videos, or TV.  Teachers were allowed to teach.  Parents didn’t park their kids in a nursery school at age two and have strangers raise them.

    The politicians and special interests groups, who are championing this importation of immigrants and refugees, from all corners of the globe, are not in the work a day world,  having their jobs taken over by a guest worker, or having a job underbid by an unscrupulous contractor  who employees cheap immigrant labor.  Sometimes they get paid (immigrants) and sometimes not.  Being illegal has them rendered voiceless.  They live in wealthy, gated, or removed villages that are absent needed; social services, or they vote in zoning protections to keep out  cheap housing.  Their children are educated in private schools.  Their children won’t be competing with immigrant labor for that nursing job, IT worker, carpenter, or meatpacking job.  A man could once earn a decent living (thanks to Sinclair’s The Jungle) at a meat packing plant.  No more – these dangerous jobs now pay an approximate $8.00 an hour.

    Sociopaths (or their lap dogs) are running most of the major governments of the world, and most of the major industries and financial institutions.  Sociopaths are not much interested in mutual uplift and global benefit for the great bulk of the human race.  They are primarily interested in war, plunder, destruction, cruel domination, violent subjugation, and ruthless social control.  So much to plunder; so much to loot and so little time.  Meantime who cares about Mexico emptying its land of the poor, dispossessed, illiterate, and sick.  More for the few hogs that run that corrupt country.

    Meantime – home on the range, we have these  theatrical cartoon characters running for office (the winner has already been anointed – duh).  The corporate media has  programmed  the mindless masses  to the next Clinton regime.  True, some people are so ignorant they’d vote for someone just because of gender!  Bush, Clinton, Bush, Clinton – why,  in a country of some 300 million + we’ll have 28 years of the same elitist appointed dynasty.  Meantime, few are aware of the implosion of America, and the massive plantation that is being constructed.  Now for the ‘chip’ to keep track of all these ‘human resources’.  Hey, isn’t that what all this fuss is about over licenses and immigrant ID?  In days of old it was unsightly branding!  The old Hegelian Dietetic – works every time.  See article below of Iowa going global!


    Note – Times Article on Iowa Filling Up With Latinos

  • In This Small Town in Iowa the Future Speaks Spanish, By William Grimes.  The New York Times. September 14, 2005
  • pdf In This Small Town in Iowa the Future Speaks Spanish, By William Grimes.  The New York Times. September 14, 2005
  • United Auto Workers [UAW] Are Everyman; The American Experience

    copyright © 2007 Betsy L. Angert

    The morning broke.  There was a momentary blip in the air as broadcasters spoke of the pending United Auto Workers potential strike.  Was the short and sweet General Motors walkout the topic of discussion, or perhaps, the work stoppage at Chrysler was the focus.  No matter; neither was of interest to Jack, a corporate executive.  He received word from his accountant hours earlier; health care costs are too high.  We must cut benefits.  Perhaps it would be better if we eliminate a large portion of the workforce.  Certainly, that would save us much money.  The company must consider the stockholders.  Individual buyers and brokers look at earnings and expenses. 

    Richard, a man that rose through the ranks, currently holds the title of Vice President in a well-known organization.  His company is up for sale.  Potential buyers will scrutinize the books.  Every penny, nickel, and dime must be accounted for.  He too was summoned.  In his case, the President called.  Employee medical expenses must be slashed.  We can no longer offer life insurance.  This business already purged the employees they could afford to lose.  Workers wages are exceedingly low.  That helps to make this company competitive.  Richard recalls, years ago, he chose to work for this institute because of the benefits.  Even then, he knew how valuable remuneration was.  How might he endorse such a reduction or loss?

    Bethany slept soundly, more so than she had before.  Yesterday, she went to the doctor for a routine examination.  Her tests were clear.  A clean bill of health was delivered.  That was wonderful.  The results calmed her mind; indeed, she was elated.  In the immediate, she was comforted by the knowledge she had health insurance.  An indemnity would cover the bill.  She said this aloud; for most of her adult life, she had no health care coverage.

    Marion, a woman Bethany met in the waiting room, spoke of her concerns.  She diligently punched a time clock for forty years.  Marion is a retired member of the city staff.  Possibly, she was a state employee, communications worker, a retail associate, or a salesperson.  Maybe her hours were not logged in a conventional manner; nonetheless, she worked hard for decades.  Perchance, Marion is a Mom.  While she and Bethany sat, each expectant of their test results, they chatted. 

    Marion mentioned the change in her circumstance.  With the new Medicaid “donut hole’ as she called it, she could barely keep up.  Routine examinations were now a luxury.  She feared a thirty-five dollar co-pay.  The funds seemed excessive.  Bethany shared her saga.  Only twelve months earlier, she had no insurance.  Three tests were required.  The total cost was close to a thousand dollars.  For her, thirty-five greenbacks would have been a welcome fare.

    Shelia chimed in.  This lovely lady, also adorned in a medical gown offered she and her husband own a same business.  Medical costs and coverage for their few employees is a concern that escalates daily.  Often, the couple thinks to move from one insurer to another.  However, in the past when they had, they realized no rewards.  Shelia shutters, sighs, and then inquires, “How long have each of you been here today.”  She notes, my appointment was scheduled for two, Post Meridian.  Now, near three hours later I sit.

    The three women look at each other and exclaim.  This is health care in America?  The conversation continued.  All were exasperated and excited to have an opportunity to speak.  Marion mused as talk of health care turned to politics, and minutes were but a blur, “Now that we have solved all societal ills.”  Of course, they had not.  Union strikes were not discussed.

    Jack, Richard, Bethany, Marion, Sheila, and her husband are not employees of General Motors, Chrysler, or Ford Motor Company, another corporation we will hear about in the near future.  Yet, each is affected by the circumstances that concern the United Auto Workers.  They are all Middle America. 

    We all have our tales, our sagas, and situations.  However, sadly, we see our own lives as separate from the anxieties of others.  They are not.  We are united, whether we are member of a labor Union or not.  We are citizens of the United States.

    For many decades, in this country, the cry was heard, “As goes General Motors, so goes the nation.”  While the prominent automaker is but half the company it was only years ago, it remains archetypal.  What occurs within General Motors is emblematic and endemic.

    Two weeks after GM laborers partook in a two-day walkout, and then agreed to terms of their new contract, a six-hour strike against automaker Chrysler began.  It too was less than significant for most Americans.  At least that is what journalists told us.  The mantra on the morning of October 10, 2007 was Chrysler is now a privately owned company.  Therefore, its woes will not affect the stock market, which, as we know, is the true economic driver. 

    As reports of a possible job-stoppage streamed across the screen, and announcers screamed of the possibility in the early morn, “average” Americans were reminded, they need not fear.  Portfolios were safe.  The implication was, and is, stockholders are important.  Investors matter.  Laborers do not; they are but a insignificant commodity. 

    In recent years, we have heard the hoopla; more Americans own stocks than had in the past.  Everyone is invested in the market.  The economy is strong and has been for decades.  Currently, laws favor financial planning.  Life for Americans is far better than it has ever been.  Less than a decade ago, we read . . .

    In 1998, 52 percent of Americans owned shares in public companies or equity mutual funds, either directly in their own accounts, or indirectly in retirement and trust accounts.  This percentage was four times higher than in 1980, when only 13 percent of Americans owned stock.  By the end of the century, more than half the population were capitalists in some sense.

    Many factors contributed to the broadening of stock ownership.  New pension laws shifted many employees’ pensions to the new 401(k) plans, most of which are invested in stocks.  Mutual funds made it easier and cheaper to start investing.  Federal law deregulated brokerage commissions.  On-line investing facilitated stock purchases by reducing both paperwork and commissions.  Finally, after almost twenty years of unprecedented prosperity, many Americans had significant wealth with which to invest in equities. 

    However, even then, working stiffs did not prosper as polished “professionals” might have.  Richard may have increased his income.  He might have invested in a healthy portfolio.  The authentically affluent such as Jack, certainly reaped some capital gains.  There is little doubt; this entrepreneur likely increased his worth greatly.  Nonetheless, as in years past, prosperity was not equally shared. 

    Approximately half the population still pinched pennies and tied their purse strings tightly.  Bethany, Marion, and Sheila were perhaps among those that struggled.  Dispensable, discretionary income was but a dream, the American Dream not realized.  Life may have looked good for those that control the message and wish to promote further speculation.  , the silent near majority knew then as they do now . . .

    Dow’s all-time high inconsequential for most Americans
    By Sylvia Allegretto.
    Economic Policy Institute
    December 11, 2006

    Much attention was paid last week to the Dow Jones recovery to its prior peak level first reached in 2000.  It is important to put this milestone into perspective for average working families.  Fostered by the constant focus and widespread attention given to the performance of the stock market, conventional wisdom has it that everyone in the United States is heavily invested in the stock market.  However, the data tell a different story.

    The most recent triennial data from the Survey of Consumer Finances show that the historically increasing trend in the shares of all households owning any stock reversed course from just over half in 2001 (51.9%) to just under half in 2004 (48.6%)1-the first such decline on record (Figure A ).  In 2004, only about a third of Americans had stock holdings, valued at more than $5,000.

    The distribution of stocks, by value, is highly tilted to the wealthiest Americans as shown in Figure B.  In 2004, the wealthiest 1% owned 36.9% of all stocks, while the next 9% owned 41.9%.  Hence, the wealthiest 10% controlled about 80% of all stocks while the bottom 90% owned just over 20%.  Given the starkness and persistence of inequality in stock holdings, there is no reason to think those in the bottom 90% are doing any better today.

    Those that were at the bottom in the 1990s remain there.  Some sunk further into oblivion.  Indeed, in the twenty-first century, the poor fell further than they imagined possible.  Their hopes and dreams dashed.  Few manual laborers see a home in their future.  They worry; they do not believe they can provide an adequate education for their offspring.  Putting food on the table has become a priority.  The impoverished were not in the physician’s office with the three women.  They could not afford to be.

    The Middle Class, or those that once were among the median population, also sink lower and lower.  Caught in the vacuum of a downward spiral, formerly comfortable Americans fear falling down the dark hole.  The darkness of the drain is in sight.  In recent years, as the market races to all time highs, the decline downward accelerates for all but the corporate tycoon.  Magnates prosper and plan to build their profits;  Jack absolutely is.

    Please consider the Chrysler Corporation and the company that purchased this organization months ago, Cerberus Capital.  While circumstances differ essentially, the basic motivation is the same, big bucks.  General Motors may be slightly more patient in their pursuit of ample profits and earnings; nonetheless, each company considers financial interest more than those of the workers.

    “GM is a classic automotive firm,” McAlinden said.  “They’re in it for the long haul, and they produced a long-haul UAW agreement, that says ‘We’re going to save money on this agreement, but it’s going to take four years to roll out and we’re going to do it with a lot of new product.'”

    Chrysler, on the other hand, was recently bought by Cerberus Capital, a private investment company that buys other firms, restructures them and then tries to sell them or take them public for a healthy profit.

    “Cerberus is a private equity firm, who in the past hasn’t really taken over a company to increase its product line,” McAlinden [Sean McAlinden, a Michigan auto analyst] said.

    If perchance Cerberus Capital were interested in the car industry, the likelihood that they would cater to the needs and concerns of the workers is not high.  Consider a morning with Jack or his accountant.  Chief Executives, in America, do not wish to negotiate.  Capitalist cohort Ronald Reagan ensured entrepreneurs would not have to do more than the minimum.  During the Reagan reign, in the 1980s, labor laws were re-interpreted.  Legislation favored business owners.  Richard Hurd, professor of Industrial and Labor Relations at Cornell University spoke of a lack of incentive for employers to talk to disgruntled workers in recent decades.  Moguls are legally able to stonewall employees; only a semblance of good-faith is required.  Employers merely need to come to the table and talk, nothing more. 

    Magnates are in truth, in the driver’s seat.  Professor Hurd muses; today, we have one-tenth the strikes we had in the past.  This Cornell experts expounds, globalization has lessened the power of employees.  Americans can no longer afford to strike.  Thus, today’s workers, at least in the manufacturing industry have become cautious.  They do not wish to challenge the company.  They fear a loss of personal savings.  More importantly, laborers are anxious, they will not have a job, if they leave, even for a moment. 

    In the past ten years, strikes have become creative vehicles.  Protests are announced far in advance.  The strategy is tactical.  There is no incentive for the employer to make a quick change, such as hiring a new staff.  Intentionally picketers hit the pavement for a day or two.  Grievances are expressed.  The intent of a walkout is  meant only to send a message,  Few hear the more subtle communication, or appreciate the endeavor.

    Jessica Kelly, a twenty-one year old thinks people on strike are “over zealous.”  She believes walkouts are “not the proper way to handle a situation.”  Miss Kelly considers a picket line, a stampede, not an appropriate means of expression.  Jonathan Yates, states, “It is just posturing.”  He concludes, “No one really cares about stopping work.  They almost like they are just following up on their Union commitment.”  Yates states, “I think the Union largely exists for its own sake.”

    Apparently, in 2007, the Union, or the need to fight for fair wages and benefits is a dated concept.  The populace is convinced; strikes serve no purpose.  Unions are corrupt.  They are but another Big Business and indeed, they are or will be if the recent trends are realized.

    UAW dissidents argue against ratifying GM deal
    By Nick Carey?
    Friday, September 28, 2007; 10:48 AM

    Grand Rapids, Michigan (Reuters) – Gregg Shotwell says that by agreeing to a new contract with General Motors Corp (GM.N) the United Auto Workers has ceased to be a union.

    “The UAW is now a corporation,” he said, sitting on the back porch of his home in a leafy neighborhood of Grand Rapids, Michigan.  “It has become UAW Incorporated.”

    Shotwell says he is one of a large number of UAW members, angry at the union for the groundbreaking contract it concluded with the top U.S. automaker this week.  The pact would shift health-care costs away from the struggling company and create a lower tier of wages for new hires.

    Those health-care costs — if the contract is ratified by GM’s 73,000 hourly workers — would be managed in a UAW-administered trust fund that would have more than $30 billion in cash and other assets.

    “There are a lot of people who are disgusted with what they’ve done,” Shotwell said.

    This is only one aspect that concerns workers.  Those that care about more than their stock portfolios see it differently.  Months ago, stock analyst speculated the adoption of a Voluntary Employee Beneficiary Association Trust [is] Unlikely To Cover All Future Health Care Obligations For Big Three Automakers.

    Morgan Stanley analyst Jonathan Steinmetz on Tuesday told investors that negotiations next month between the United Auto Workers and the Big Three automakers could result in a Voluntary Employee Beneficiary Association trust that covers some, rather than all, of their future retiree health care obligations, the Detroit Free Press reports (Higgins, Detroit Free Press, 6/20).

    At the time of this assessment, another labor expert voiced his opinion.  Harley Shaiken, a professor at the University of California-Berkeley, said, “I think it is going to be a hard sell.  It is not out of the question, but there will be a lot of resistance to it.”  Perchance there was, then, or at least in the minds of many.  However, desperation over time changes much.  Perspectives are easily altered when job security is on the line, the assembly line.  Shaiken explained, “The goal of the UAW leadership is clear.  They want to provide as secure as possible a route for health care for the members.  If they feel a VEBA will do that, they may be more open” (Detroit Free Press, 6/20). 

    Possibly, Union leaders presented a persuasive argument.  Workers, financially strapped in an economic era that rewards only the top one percent, could not take the risk.  The threat of temporary or permanent unemployment was one individuals, and families, felt they could not endure.

    Many General Motors employees were aware of the Caterpillar situation.  Caterpillar Corporation employees chose a similar option years ago.  They too thought the funds would be managed well and last for decades.  However, they soon found themselves in dire straights. 

    GM-UAW contract causes deja vu moment for Caterpillar retirees
    Associated Press.
    September 27, 2007

    Peoria, Ill. (AP) – Retired Caterpillar Inc. workers say they can’t help but view a tentative contract deal hammered out between General Motors Corp. and the United Auto Workers with skepticism given their own bitter experience.

    A key element of Wednesday’s tentative agreement, which led the union to call off a two-day strike by the 74,000 workers it represents, is the Volunteer Employee Beneficiary Association.

    VEBA, as the program is called, is a trust established by a company and union to pay for or defray health insurance costs for retirees.

    A hard-fought contract deal hammered out between Caterpillar and the UAW in 1998 also included a VEBA trust funded by $32.3 million the UAW had set aside into special training and overtime accounts.

    That VEBA trust, however, was depleted in just six years.

    “God, did we get stuck,” Caterpillar retiree Stan Valentine told the (Peoria) Journal.  “Initially the VEBA worked OK, but it just got eaten up by the astronomical rise in medical insurance (costs).”

    As a consequence, around 20,000 Caterpillar retirees now have no choice but foot the bill for much of their medical costs.

    What is a worker or a retired employee to do?  Bethany spoke of her situation.  She had nowhere to turn for financial assistance when in need of medical care.  In retirement, Marion realizes a similar distress.  In an Industrialist country, investors are more far important than workers.  People are but a byproduct of production.  They can be replaced.  Employees are dispensable.  Money moves the nation.  Humans that toil to survive cannot be bought and sold; thus, they are presumed to be worthless.  The creatures that build the cars are costly.  It seems those in other professions are considered an unwanted expense as well.  Ask the communication workers.

    Embarq Locals Protest Termination of Retiree Health Care
    August 23, 2007

    Embarq members and retirees in six states will hold demonstrations this Saturday to protest the company’s announcement that it will terminate retiree health benefits for Medicare-eligible pensioners.

    The cuts average more than $2,000 per year for every retiree and dependent affected, and, “They will have an even greater impact on families with acute medical problems who rely on expensive prescriptions,” said Telecommunications Vice President Jimmy Gurganus.  “This will be devastating to many people, especially for longer term retirees who haven’t seen a pension increase in years and are struggling on meager fixed incomes.”

    Embarq, Sprint’s former local phone operation, which was spun off last year, announced it would drop its $500 annual subsidy for Medicare premiums as well as supplemental coverage that pays partial medical costs when Medicare payments are below 80 percent of treatment expenses.  Embarq also is capping life insurance for retirees at $10,000, a substantial cut for many.

    At demonstrations in North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Florida, New Jersey and Oregon on Aug. 25, Embarq retirees – joined by local politicians and labor leaders in many locations – are set to tell the news media how the cutbacks would cripple their incomes and keep them from being able to afford needed treatments and drugs.

    Many echoed Sandra Muntis of Elida, Ohio, who wrote to her local describing the situation of her husband, who suffers from multiple sclerosis, and her own struggle with diabetes and ulcers.  Without supplemental health care from Embarq, “we could not afford procedures requested by physicians to keep us in good health,” such as colonoscopies, tests for prostate cancer and others, she said.

    About 14,500 retirees and dependents, both management and union, would be affected.  Embarq says it will save $30 million a year from the cuts.

    Save the almighty buck.  Sanction the free-enterprise system that, in all its compassion, leaves people behind.  Human beings become ill.  They are easily injured.  Health Care is expensive and corporations say they do not wish to absorb the costs.  Thirty million dollars a year saved.  That is the priority. 

    Consumers, in this free market forget how they contribute to the cycle.  They, the average buyer, craves low costs too, regardless of what this might mean.  When the Big Three fret of medical expenses, we, the common folk forget, Big Businesses pass the cost onto the customer.  “Woe is me” is quite a claim when we, those that purchase poorly made domestic or foreign products, those that pollute the environment, and encourage the notion of built-in obsolescence, propagate a profit driven margin.

    Wal-Mart CEO defends low-cost imports
    At conference, Lee Scott cites retailer’s business model, says some customers don’t have ‘the economic luxury of making a broader social statement.’
    October 12 2007: 8:07 AM EDT

    Rogers, Ark. (AP) — Chief Executive Lee Scott defended Wal-Mart’s reliance on low-cost imports Thursday against what he called emerging economic nationalism.

    Scott told a retailing conference he would like to stock more American-made goods but that Wal-Mart’s business model is based on offering the lowest price for consumers who cannot afford to spend more.

    Scott was answering a question from an audience member who wanted to know if Wal-Mart would buy more U.S.-made products to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions of global transport and to bring manufacturing jobs back from places like China.

    “Right now, the way it works, our model is ‘We sell for less.’  If we put products out there and we have to sell them for more because our competitors are sourcing more efficiently and more effectively for the same quality of product, our model doesn’t work.  We cannot be at a price disadvantage,” Scott said.

    “Lest anybody forget, 20 percent of Wal-Mart’s customers don’t have a checking account and they do not have the economic luxury of making a broader social statement,” he told a conference of the Center for Retailing Excellence, part of the University of Arkansas’ Sam M. Walton Business College.

    And so it goes.  Medical bills are calculated into the price of a vehicle, clothing, communication services, college tuition, as are wages, and pensions.  Carmakers remind us, these overheads must be reduced if sales are to increase. 

    Chrysler, just as General Motors, and Ford, needs to be competitive.  So too does Wal-Mart, Sam’s Club, your corner market, your neighborhood retailer, the drycleaner, the bicycle shop, the bakery, and even the local bank.  All must appear attractive.  They react to the market.  The law that governs each in this Industrialist Mecca is “supply and demand.”

    Customers and investors alike concur; they will only buy when a company shows itself to be strong.  While the definitions may be nuanced, essentially, they are the same.  Give me the best bang for my buck, even if it means that Mom and Pop will be out on the street without a penny to their name.

    Why might we ask are workers willing to settle so quickly.  How can we explain a reduction in labor strikes, or a reluctance to ask for fair and decent wages?  Why are we willing to let retirees wallow in despair and ignore the reality that soon, we will be among them.

    American workers are desperate; more than money, they crave stability.  The little things, food, shelter, clothing to protect the body from the elements, and good health, are all most people long for.  Equal opportunities are welcome, or at least an equitable education might be nice.  However, at this juncture, residents of this great nation are happy to settle for the smallest slice of the pie.  We heard the tearful cry during the General Motors industrial action.

    UAW officials said the 73,000 UAW members who work at about 80 U.S. facilities for the nation’s largest automaker didn’t strike Monday over what many thought would trip up the talks: A plan to shift the retiree health care burden from the company to the union.  They said they also didn’t strike over wages.

    They said union members walked out because they want GM to promise that future cars and trucks such as the replacement for the Chevrolet Cobalt small car or the still-on-the-drawing board Chevrolet Volt plug-in electric car will be built at U.S. plants, preserving union jobs.

    United Auto Workers, please understand the American Dream is not found in an assembly line mentality.  Such a dream is wrought with strife.  General Motors alone illustrates this truth.  The once powerful workforce is half of what it once was.  A new snazzy steel or aluminum design will not create other than it has.  As long as we continue down this path and do not dare to take a detour, nothing will change.  Economist and former blue-collar stiff Barry Bluestone understands this.

    “By and large, they are looking for answers to the wrong question,” said Barry Bluestone, an economist and labor expert at Northeastern University in Boston. “They are fighting over the same things they were fighting over 50 years ago.”

    Bluestone is no stranger to the auto industry.  His father, Irving Bluestone, 91, was the lead negotiator for the UAW with General Motors during the 1960s and ’70s.  As a college student, Barry Bluestone worked summers on an auto assembly line.  And as an economist, he has documented the importance of unions in creating the American middle class.

    Back in the early 1990s, father and son wrote a book, “Negotiating the Future,” in which they argued that both unions and companies had to move their focus from dividing the pie to expanding it.  That meant putting aside the rigid notion that the role of unions was to fight for better wages and benefits, and the role of management was to run the company, they wrote.  To remain competitive, companies had to engage the energies, creativity, and commitment of their workers.  And that process required a different approach to collective bargaining.

    Perchance such a notion might be embraced in the work environment as well.  Bluestone addresses such a need.  He understands what some Japanese corporations do.  The principles of Kaizen, consideration for the people, the process, and consistent improvement, can be fruitful and bring personal and professional fulfillment.

    When people passionately pursue their endeavors health and welfare is improved.  Possibly, the American Dream is achieved for one and for all.  When a proud populace lives as the Constitution elucidates, we establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, promote the general Welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity.  When we honor society as a whole, when individuals are revered and valued happiness is more than a pursuit. 

    Imagine the reduction in stress related illness and injury if we all loved our work.  If our careers enabled us to have a creative outlet that served the community, ah, how lovely life might be.

    I suspect a street-paver, proud of his work stops to show his son or daughter what he has done to contribute to society.  An electrician pleased with what she did speaks volume.  She shares her successes.  She installed the best sound system the Performing Arts Center has ever heard.  People tell their friends and family of their triumphs, what they created that felt good and meaningful to them.

    A teacher talks of the lives he changed.  A retailer recalls the customer that came to the store everyday, only for the quality of the companionship.  A restaurateur reiterates, his clientele came for the ambiance.  The way the chef could put together a meal . . . hum waaah!  The stories of success and satisfaction are innumerable when workers are allowed to be creative and feel committed.

    As Bluestone acknowledges, this wasn’t a wholly original idea, but one that had been a favorite of the left wing of the labor movement in the 1940s and championed by the UAW’s own Walter Reuther until 1950, when he surrendered the dream of industrial democracy for the more fetching and immediate dream of a middle-class life for blue-collar workers.

    That grand bargain, known as the Treaty of Detroit, served both sides well until the early 1980s, when foreign competition began to render it unsustainable.  And yet, in the 25 years since, very little has changed in the collective bargaining process.

    During the late 1980s, there were some successful experiments with Total Quality programs borrowed from Japan.  And General Motors had some early success with its new-age Saturn division.  But according to Ruth Milkman, a labor expert at UCLA, worker involvement was never really embraced by either the unions or management and never allowed to rise beyond production issues on the factory floor.  As long as oil prices remained low and SUV profits high, neither union nor management seemed to care.

    The environment has changed, but the labor relations remain much as they were in 1950 . . .

    Faced with the folly of many decisions, people are hesitant to move down the road less traveled.  Americans would rather drive their gas-guzzlers and gather no moss than contemplate change.  They fear that if they stop and examine their lives they may have to accept that what we do and have done for decades is not viable.

    The battle over job security is also emblematic.

    With more than a quarter of GM’s 73,000 unionized workers set to retire in the next few years, any job reductions that result from falling sales or increased productivity should be able to be handled through attrition.  But the union is also worried that this might not be the case if the company decides to outsource entire functions.

    By now, it should be apparent that the wrong way to handle this legitimate concern is to prohibit all layoffs, plant closures, or outsourcing.  The right way would be to leave those out of the labor contract but give workers a real voice in those decisions and a financial stake in making the right ones.

    Getting there would be hard.  It would require not only new mechanisms and procedures, but a much higher degree of trust and respect.

    But it would be a more hopeful sign if this strike were about hammering out a new model for labor-management relations rather than merely preserving job guarantees that no company can — or should — provide.

    Might we dare imagine, that if we were truly happy in our endeavors, we might be healthier.  Over time, many of us would want to pursue a dream that now, we do not have the courage to consciously desire.  Change sends chills up and down the spines of most.  The idea of an unexpected, unwanted, an unwarranted job loss makes us shiver.  The prospect of happiness, doing what we love, creatively, with commitment, we cannot phantom what that possibility might bring. 

    Jack may seem to have success; yet, he as many Chief Executives understand he cannot continue as he has.  Perhaps he will walk hand-in-hand with Steve Burd, Chairman and C.E.O. of Safeway supermarkets, who now advocates for Universal Health Care, or he might join a broader coalition. 

    Richard remembers what once was his truth.  He sought employment with an organization that provided generous benefits.  Now, will he have the courage to truly propose what even Presidential candidates only indicate is a necessary possibility, a Single Payer Universal Health Care plan.  Will his upper management position yield the power to persuade.

    Bethany understands what is like to be without.  Will her time with an indemnity be short-lived as corporations crumble under the weight of health care cost, wages, and the misery a business experiences when they must be accountable to the market.

    Marion put in her time.  Currently, she resides in a nation that does not have time for her.  How might she fare.  In the future.  Sheila, her husband, you, and I might be better served if we dreamt of what we never did before.  Perhaps a paradigm shift, while a popular idiom was never tried.  Until it is, we cannot know what is true.  Might we embrace the worker more than the market.  Perchance we could care for people, cover families, and create a culture where people are valued and valuable.

    I leave the decision to you dear reader.  Do we take the road less traveled or continue to see the USA in a Chevrolet, one whose cost continues to be too dear.

    Health Care, Pensions, Stocks, What Bonds Us . . .

  • 73,000 workers walk in nationwide GM strike, By Chris Isidore.  Cable News Network. September 24, 2007
  • Stockholders. The First Measured Century.  Public Broadcasting Services.  1998
  • New Chrysler Contract Hinges on Jobs, Health Care, By Frank Langfitt.  Morning Edition. October 11, 2007
  • Chrysler sold in unprecedented auto deal. By James R. Healey, Sharon Silke Carty, Chris Woodyard and Matt Krantz.  USA Today. May 14, 2007
  • UAW Wins Job Security Guarantees in Deal,  By Tom Krisher and Dee-Ann Durbin.  The Associated Press.  Sun Herald. Friday, September 28, 2007; 3:25 PM
  • pdf UAW Wins Job Security Guarantees in Deal,  By Tom Krisher and Dee-Ann Durbin.  The Associated Press.  Sun Herald. Friday, September 28, 2007; 3:25 PM
  • UAW dissidents argue against ratifying GM deal, By Nick Carey.  Reuters.  Washington Post.  Friday, September 28, 2007; 10:48 AM
  • pdf UAW dissidents argue against ratifying GM deal, By Nick Carey.  Reuters.  Washington Post. Friday, September 28, 2007; 10:48 AM
  • The Wrong Reason To Strike. By Steven Pearlstein.  Washington Post.  Wednesday, September 26, 2007; 11:00 AM
  • The Wrong Reason To Strike, By Steven Pearlstein.  Washington Post. Wednesday, September 26, 2007; Page D01
  • pdf The Wrong Reason To Strike, By Steven Pearlstein.  Washington Post. Wednesday, September 26, 2007; Page D01
  • Contract Details. Washington Post.  Saturday, September 29, 2007; Page D01
  • Some GM Workers Uneasy About Health-Care Shift, By Sholnn Freeman.  Washington Post.  Saturday, September 29, 2007; Page D01
  • pdf Some GM Workers Uneasy About Health-Care Shift, By Sholnn Freeman.  Washington Post.  Saturday, September 29, 2007; Page D01
  • Chrysler Reaches Tentative Deal With UAW Union. Reuters.  The New York Times. October 11, 2007
  • Chrysler Workers Wary of New Contract.  Associated Press.  The New York Times. October 11, 2007
  • pdf Chrysler Workers Wary of New Contract.  Associated Press.  The New York Times. October 11, 2007
  • Today’s Impression of the Picket Lines.  All Things considered. October 11, 2007
  • U.S. Workers Strike Less Often Than in Past. All Things considered. October 11, 2007
  • Voluntary Employee Beneficiary Association Trust [is] Unlikely To Cover All Future Health Care Obligations For Big Three Automakers, Analysts Say.  Medical News Today.  June 22, 2007
  • pdf GM-UAW contract causes deja vu moment for Caterpillar retirees.  Associated Press.  Michigan Live.  September 27, 2007
  • Embarq Locals Protest Termination of Retiree Health Care,  Communications Workers of America, AFL-CIO, CLC. August 23, 2007
  • Wal-Mart CEO defends low-cost imports. Cable News Network. October 12, 2007
  • Wal-Mart a Good Place to Shop But Some Critics Too . The Pew Research Center. December 15, 2005
  • What’s the One Thing Big Business and the Left Have in Common? By Jonathan Cohn.  The New York Times. April 1, 2007
  • pdf What’s the One Thing Big Business and the Left Have in Common? By Jonathan Cohn.  The New York Times. April 1, 2007
  • Business Coalition Sets Sights on Universal Health Insurance. California Healthline. May 7, 2007
  • Capitalism; Competitive Markets Cut To The Core; Inequity Is Inevitable

    American propaganda – Capitalism (1948)

    copyright © 2007 Betsy L. Angert

    Decades ago, Americans watched a televised spoof of current events, the Rowan and Martin Laugh-In Show.  A cast of characters sang “What is the news across the nation?”  Then they assessed the antics of politicians and celebrities alike.  Serious situations were satirized; silliness was glorified.  Americans were given an opportunity to reflect and see how sadly corrupt and irrational our competitive Capitalist system is.  Exuberance envelops us.  Avoidance advances.  Americans consume, compete, and settle into complacency.

    This week, as we again set aside time to honor laborers in America, this reality seemed ever-present.  Labor’s failure is perhaps industrialism at its best.  Free enterprise follows the market or perchance it creates a product for America to buy.

    In recent weeks, the American public was again able to purchase the absurdity that passes for news.  The current craze streaming through the airwaves is Senator Larry Craig was arrested in an airport bathroom.  Although he plead guilty after being accused of a crime, Idaho Senator Craig, stated, I did nothing ‘inappropriate’ in [an] airport bathroom.  What the Senator did do, regardless of whether he solicited sex from a male officer or not, is provide Americans with another welcome distraction.  That is glorious; that is entertainment!  In a free-enterprise marketplace economy, we demand diversions.  The truth of our status is too painful to bear,

    The weighty news daunts and haunts us.  There are moments that we wish to share what is thought significant to Americans as a whole.  However, these are few and far between.  U.S. Workers Are Most Productive.  As we read this banner headline, we exclaim, ‘Hooray!’  America is still Number One!!!  Citizens are reassured.  The public need not look any further.  Nor is there a need for the mainstream media to dwell.  Citizens of this country are secure in their knowledge.  This nation is great.  The numbers support our sense of self, or at least this calculation does. 

    However, sadly, days later, we learn,  4-Year Growth in Jobs Ends; Dow Off 200. This pronouncement did not appear as prominently; nor did it receive the attention Larry Craig’s resignation did.  Few wanted to discuss the devastation in the job market or the blow to the economy.

    Not only did the report show that there was no job growth last month, but it also found that the job market was significantly weaker in June and July than the government first reported.  Revisions to earlier jobs reports showed that 81,000 fewer jobs were created than initially estimated.

    This bulletin is not novel.  Buried in the back pages a thorough reader often finds words that might destroy the illusion.  Opinion: Pay heed to needs of the American worker.  However, statements such this are far less titillating.  Sex sells.  Super star sensationalism stimulates.  A member of Congress in crisis is a celebrated chronicle.  Accounts of Labor Day festivities, those filled with fun and folly can help to affirm America is on solid ground.  Any information that attests to the good of Capitalism is treasured.

    However, if we care to probe deeply, beyond the hype, we might question the system that leave its citizens steeped in debt, despair, and economic depression. 

    Just prior to Labor Day, John Sweeney, President of the AFL-CIO, [American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations] published an editorial that appeared in no more than one or two periodicals.  Sweeney spoke of the plight of the American employee, the drudge.  He discussed circumstances that are yours and mine.  We, the laborers, the common folk that sustain this country, and make the United States great may wish to understand.

    ‘What’s wrong with America?”  That’s the question Steve Skvara, a disabled, retired steelworker, asked seven Democratic presidential candidates several weeks ago at the AFL-CIO Presidential Forum in Chicago.  Skvara struggles to afford health care for himself and his wife after the company he worked for declared bankruptcy and abandoned its commitment to those who gave the best years of their lives to their employer. 

    As we approach Labor Day, many of America’s workers are echoing Skvara’s question.

    Corporate greed and nearly seven years of wrong-headed Bush administration economic policies have fed a growing gap between the haves and have-nots.  Americans are less secure about their jobs, retirement, health care, and standard of living.

    The issue that Skvara so poignantly raised – health care – is on the mind of nearly every American. 

    Our system is broken; it’s left 47 million without insurance coverage and millions more with inadequate or unaffordable care.  Rising health costs are crippling families and making it harder for responsible businesses to compete. A recent study by the New York City Department of Health found that one of every six adults in New York has no health insurance, though nearly two-thirds of those without coverage have jobs.

    Americans now work longer hours than workers in any other developed country, and as a result, we generate a whopping $13 trillion in income every year.  Yet, at the richest moment in our nation’s history, the wealthiest 1 percent claims more than 20 percent of the nation’s income.  As a result, workers have seen their slice of the economic pie shrink to a sliver.

    Yet, those with an empty stomachs are grateful for the smallest serving.  In America, we are trained to believe there is a limited supply.  Resources are scarce.  There is only enough for a few.  Some will have, others must work diligently to acquire a pittance.  Citizens are reminded there is reason to hope.  The news is filled with success stories.  The masses are asked to suspend disbelief.  They too must dream. 

    In truth, opportunities are not equal.  This reality may seem obvious if you are among a minority, or born poor.  Nevertheless, even those that struggle to do well in America, aspire to greatness.  After all, this is the land of the free market, free enterprise, freedom, and opportunity.

    Citizens and immigrants alike believe as their great grandparents, grandmothers and grandfathers did.  We trust in the words of Mom and Dad.  America is the land of opportunity.  People have faith that in America anyone can make good.  Perhaps, early in our nation’s history some did.  Narratives are nuanced.  Nonetheless, today there seems less reason to dream.

    [T]he Pew Charitable Trust published the first of its studies on economic mobility.  The nonpartisan project is taking input from top economists and researchers across the political spectrum in an effort to measure American mobility – the ability of a person to move up or down the income ladder.

    The study finds that economic mobility in America is “less than has long been presumed.” It says economic mobility is actually declining for men in their 30s, who are doing worse (as a whole) than their father’s generation when measured by incomes: “This suggests that the up escalator that has historically ensured that each generation would do better than the last may not be working that well.”

    The study also says that, based on other research, “about half of the advantages of having a parent with a high income are passed onto the next generation,” which means “one of the biggest predictors of an American child’s future economic success – the identity and characteristics of his or her parents – is predetermined and outside that child’s control.” In other words, the existing rich are just getting richer and the middle class tends to stay middle class.

    Our countrymen complain; yet, customarily, we accept, ‘Life is not fair.’  In the spirit of an entrepreneur, Americans believe.  After all, in this great nation our Constitution confirms, “All men are created equal.” 

    Nevertheless, Economists theorize.  Researchers reassure us, the reality that the ‘rich get much richer’ is a new phenomenon.  It is only in recent years that the Middle Class struggles to sustain a comfortable life style.  Always in the past, the poorest among us had a chance at success.  In America, the streets are paved in gold.  Anyone can make it here. 

    An individual merely needs to maintain that competitive edge.  A word to the wise and those that want more, keep your chin up and nose to the grindstone.  Pay your dues.  Good comes to those that work hard for a living and wait.  Americans accept these standards.  Conventional wisdom serves to secure the workforce as is.  We understand, We must keep hope alive if the USA is to remain Number One. 

    The public is encouraged to think the best of the current situation, regardless of reality.  Rarely is the populace exposed to fiscal facts.  The news is just too disturbing.  Besides, in a market economy, actual statistics are dry.  Data does not sell.  Nor do formulas and figures entertain a society groomed to crave comedy, short stories, drama, and special effects.  No one wants to know the myth is a manipulation, necessary to maintain inequality.

    Recent studies suggest that there is less economic mobility in the United States than has long been presumed.  The last thirty years has seen a considerable drop-off in median household income growth compared to earlier generations.  And, by some measurements, we are actually a less mobile society than many other nations, including Canada, France, Germany, and most Scandinavian countries. This challenges the notion of America as the land of opportunity. 

    Despite these potentially troubling findings, the current national economic debate remains focused too narrowly on the issue of inequality, leaving aside the more important core question of whether the foundation of opportunity, economic mobility, remains intact.  As Federal Reserve chairman, Ben Bernanke recently noted: Although we Americans strive to provide equality of economic opportunity, we do not guarantee equality of economic outcomes, nor should we. Indeed, without the possibility of unequal outcomes tied to differences in effort and skill, the economic incentive for productive behavior would be eliminated, and our market-based economy – which encourages productive activity primarily through the promise of financial reward – would function far less effectively.

    Elected officials grasp, inequity is exceptionally good for the economy.  Indeed, it is essential.  Noted Liberal Senator, Barney Frank finds no fault with disparity.  The Congressional Finance Chair merely struggles when the difference between the rich and poor is extreme.  In a News Hour interview, on a day set aside to honor labor, no less, the Progressive Massachusetts representative concedes.

    Inequality is a good thing. You don’t have a capitalist system without it.  But we are in a position now in which inequality is excessive.

    One might ask, in a system that promotes scarcity among the poor, and advances policies that allow the affluent to become more so, how can we expect any outcome other than what we witness today.  Yet, Americans do not inquire why or how an economic system that requires inequality is adopted in a nation whose Constitution states, all men women, and children are of comparable worth. 

    Instead, common-folk suffer in silence.  Individuals stress.  People in this great country, the land of  opportunity, blame themselves for not being better, or at least for not being the best they could be.  Our countrymen are convinced the sky is the limit.  They watch others on their televisions and think, someday. 

    Actors and actresses on the silver screen are larger than life.  Surely, the audience thinks that could be me.  Industrialists are featured in periodicals.  We see them in commercials.  Businessman and businesswoman write books.  These Capitalist share their secrets.  People are captivated by the promise that they too could become rich.  Competitive drive is all we need.

    The media, just as free enterprise Economists, remind us of this in each moment.  Residents of this country are persuaded to cling to stories of celebrity, self-made millionaires, and corporate genius.  The thought is, if he or she made it, so too can I.  As much as Americans enjoy success stories, we much prefer tales of woe.  Thus, for weeks now, we have been guided to the toilet.  The Larry Craig story lives large.  The Senator’s sexual preference has been discussed with greater vigor than all other matters since it was first exposed.  Howard Kurtz of Cable News Network’s Reliable Sources offers his hypothesis for why this might be.  He states.

    Celebrity scandals have become embedded in the media’s DNA.  Every couple of days, it seems, somebody somewhere who’s been mentioned in “People” or “US” or on “Access Hollywood” gets into some kind of trouble and we all start buzzing about it.

    Now comes “Entertainment Weekly” with a cover story on the 25 biggest celeb scandals of the past 25 years.

    Again, we might question why do Americans focus on the failures of the famous.  Perhaps, other indulgences, such as sex, drugs, and drink have not significantly dulled the pain.  Try as they might, people in this prolific territory, never seem able to compete with the images they have of themselves.  Middle Americans do not often live up to their expectations.  People become impatient with themselves and with all those around them.

    Residents in this wealthy nation want, they need.  We cannot wait.  After all, in movies, on television resolution and riches comes within minutes.  Granted, people in the United States are greedy.  As well they should be.  Capitalism demands such an attitude.  Immediate gratification is cultivated by corporate America.  Once more, Journalist Howard Kurtz assesses this truth in his meta on the media.  As Kurtz and his guest correspondents, digest the dynamic of media coverage as it pertains to hurricane Katrina, they accept what many of us perceive.  During the tempest, there was much drama.  Now two years after the storm, the interest in the circumstances and the people affected has died.  The audience is flippant.  They are a product of a competitive free-market society.

    Kurtz:  [O]bviously, John Dickerson, it lacks the drama of the hurricane itself, when you have people clinging to roofs and water rushing in. And, you know, anybody who goes there — I went there about eight months after the storm — is just struck by the continuing miles and miles of devastation and abandoned houses and all that. And you come back and you want to sort of tell the world about it. But in the world in which we live, it’s got to compete with Michael Vick pleading guilty to dogfighting and Larry Craig and everything else.

    Dickerson: That’s right.  And what was interesting is, after Katrina, there were a lot of people — you know, even Condi Rice said we need to have a national conversation about race. And what everybody said was, you know, we had forgotten about this story of America’s forgotten people and the poor before Katrina, so let’s all think about it now. But now we’ve seen that that conversation, even after this devastating tragedy, has, in fact, shrunken away.

    For the masses, much fades from memory, even when we marinate in what is.  Distractions are often a welcome break.  The misery
      of another can be the source of great entertainment, particularly when, in a nation of lopsided wealth personal fulfillment does not seem possible in the near future.

    A year ago, also on the Labor Day weekend, another report surfaced.  Only the affirmative aspect of this study was considered suitable for distribution.  The Public Says American Work Life Is Worsening, But Most Workers Remain Satisfied with Their Jobs.  The qualifier is important to note.  People may rant, ‘We must make a change.’  However, humans adapt easily.  Mankind is comfortable when our essential needs are met.  People gravitate towards the familiar.  If we feel safe and secure in our knowledge, ‘life is fine,’ we will likely do little to alter what is.

    Years ago, I lived in a roach infested studio apartment.  I slept on a Murphy, pullout bed.  The springs poked through the thin mattress.  The stove in my minuscule kitchenette had two small burners.  The furniture was used, dirty, and dilapidated.  Nonetheless, I was content.  Settling seemed more sane than venturing into the unknown.  To others my state of affairs seemed sad.  For me, all was good enough.

    It is good to know, people adapt.  They make due.  This fact benefits those averse to accepting less than the best.  In a Capitalist culture, the affluent must be certain there are those willing and able to serve.  The underclass, if gratified with crumbs will continue to work for the wealthy.  Thus, the rich can get richer and the economy survives.  The elite among us thrive.  The poor ultimately perish at an early age.  No matter.  Reproduction will help sustain the imbalance necessary for Capitalism to flourish.  There will be a continual supply of underprivileged to meet the demands of the corporate class.

    However, the health of the working class is in rapid decline.  Few are able to prevent illness.  Health insurance is frequently not provided by employers.  Government programs are restrictive.  In a Capitalist country, programs that might prevent illness are labeled, “Socialist” and therefore unacceptable.  Let people fend for themselves.  “Pull your self up by your boot straps,” even if the price of foot-ware is beyond your reach.

    Poverty Rate Up 3rd Year In a Row
    More Also Lack Health Coverage
    By Ceci Connolly and Griff Witte
    Washington Post
    Friday, August 27, 2004; Page A01

    The number of Americans living in poverty or lacking health insurance rose for the third straight year in 2003, the Census Bureau announced yesterday, reflecting a job market that failed to match otherwise strong economic growth.

    Overall, the median household income remained stagnant at $43,318, while the national poverty rate rose to 12.5 percent — 35.9 million people — last year, from 12.1 percent in 2002. Hit hardest were women, who for the first time since 1999 saw their earnings decline, and children. By the end of 2003, 12.9 million children lived in poverty.

    As expected, the number of people without health insurance grew last year, to 45 million — an increase to 15.6 percent from 15.2 percent. White adults, primarily in the South, accounted for most of the increase. The proportion of people receiving health insurance through an employer fell to 60.4 percent, the lowest level in a decade, from 61.3 percent.

    The census report provided hard numbers to anecdotal evidence that the recent recovery has missed certain regions and segments of the population. An additional 1.3 million Americans fell below the poverty line in 2003, as incomes dipped for the poorest 20 percent of the population. An additional 1.4 million became newly uninsured.

    “This recovery has failed to reach those in the bottom half,” said Jared Bernstein, a senior economist with the Economic Policy Institute.

    As the years pass, we realize red flags remain ignored.  The poor are not the only persons affected.Study: More Middle Class Uninsured.  an income once thought opulent now is substandard.

    Middle-Class Americans Join Ranks of Uninsured in 2006 as Private Coverage Shrinks

    Number of Uninsured Swells 2.2 Million to 47 Million

    15,000 Doctors: “Single Payer National Health Insurance is the Only Solution”

    Chicago – The U.S. Census Bureau released data today showing that the number of uninsured Americans jumped by 2.2 million in 2006 to 47.0 million people, with nearly all the increase (2.03 million) concentrated among middle-class Americans earning over $50,000 per year, according to an analysis by Physicians for a National Health Program (PNHP). Strikingly, 1.4 million of the newly uninsured were in families making over $75,000 per year. An additional 600,000 were in families earning $50,000 to $75,000 per year. (The median household income in 2006 was $48,200).

    “Middle income Americans are now experiencing the human suffering that comes with being uninsured. It makes any illness a potential economic and social catastrophe,” said Dr. Steffie Woolhandler, co-founder of Physicians for a National Health Program and Associate Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School.

    When Americans have health insurance, the coverage is often inadequate.  Half-truths flourish in a Capitalist culture.  It is imperative we maintain the myth.  However,  we need only look at our own lives to realize the vibrancy of the “Middle Class” is not what we are led to believe. 

    Granted, more Americans may have color televisions.  Cellular telephones are abundant.  Much in the way of supposed material wealth fills our homes, or more honestly, the house the bank owns and we live in.  Nonetheless, most of what we possess is not fully ours.  We made the down payment on our wares and we continue to pay the bills.  Our purchases ensure the economy will remain healthy.

    In America, credit card debt is up.  Homeownership is down.  The miracle of a home ownership with a ‘no money down’ mortgage was merely a mirage.  Ultimately, as might have been expected the bubble burst.  Bankers did as the public does.  They borrowed from Peter to pay Paul.  Our pal Paul had investments on paper.  His worth was inflated.  Industrialists are able to create great illusions.  Print more money; it is the magic cure.

    For years, Americans believed as businesses invited them to do.  All this can be yours.  A signature is all that is required.  Brokers said, ‘You too can buy a beautiful home.”  Your good name is enough to secure a loan.  Today,  Mortgages in foreclosure at record high.  The sub-prime fiasco is as much is in a Capitalist society, a front for failures.

    We, as Americans fail to save dollars or cents, sense [sic.]  We have no time or knowledge of how to do other than what we have done, keep up with the Jones’s.  It is a competitive world out there.  Only the strong survive.  Strength is measured in dollars.  Yet, all that glitters is not gold.

    In a world where inequity is thought excellence, there is much to consider.  Americans may speak about a need to change.  However, when asked to do so, we proclaim.  I do not want to give up the creature comforts that destroy the environment. 

    Rarely, do we consider that if we work together to better the Earth for all it inhabitants equally, the quality of life will improve for everyone.  We dare not contemplate industry and government together can create jobs that nurture nature.  This topic is taboo.  Government and industry, must remain separate.  In truth, they never were in the United States.  Capitalism spreads freedom, free enterprise, even as democracy, the free and equal right of every person to participate in a system of government, falters.  Thus, we have it income inequity increases.  The rich get richer.  The masses sink further into oblivion.

    Capitalism thrives for citizens of this great nation comply.  They accept familiar and comfortable circumstances.  It is far easier to do as we have done for centuries.  People in this Capitalistic culture continue to claim this “civilized’ lifestyle is unsurpassed.  Certainly, no country is as great as ours. 

    Americans compete in a desire to feel complete.  We shop until we drop.  We drown our sorrows.  Those in this, the wealthiest country on the planet, dive into drug-induced stupors.  The general public hopes to find happiness. However, they must know, in a culture that breeds inequity, they are powerless. 

    An educated community exercises their right to free speech.  Speaking out pacifies anxious Americans ; still frustration lingers.  Ultimately, even the scholarly escape in various forms of entertainment.  Men and women in this glorious nation gossip, indulge in rumors,  and temporarily absorb themselves in reports to release the pressure.  Capitalism and the active marketplace appease the masses and sustain the classes.

    Thank goodness, Americans excel at avoidance and diversions are everywhere.  If it were not for a Conservative Idaho Senator and his circumstances, Amid sex scandal, Senator Larry Craig resigns we might have to question the quality of a competitive market economy.  So, embrace the fury.  It is your duty as a Capitalist.

    Capitalism, Inequity, and Deplete Resources . . .

  • 11 Arrested in New Jersey Corruption Inquiry, By David W. Chen.  The New York Times. September 7, 2007
  • pdf 11 Arrested in New Jersey Corruption Inquiry, By David W. Chen.  The New York Times. September 7, 2007
  • Quarterly Foreclosure Rate Again Sets Record, Defaults May Hurt Home Prices, Overall Economy. By David S. Hilzenrath and Dina ElBoghdady.  Washington Post. Friday, September 7, 2007; Page D01
  • pdf Quarterly Foreclosure Rate Again Sets Record, Defaults May Hurt Home Prices, Overall Economy. By David S. Hilzenrath and Dina ElBoghdady.  Washington Post. Friday, September 7, 2007; Page D01
  • Labor’s failure. By James Carroll.  The Boston Globe. September 3, 2007
  • Craig Arrested, Pleads Guilty Following Incident in Airport Restroom By John McArdle. Roll Call. Monday, Aug. 27, 2007; 4:48 pm
  • Craig: I did nothing ‘inappropriate’ in airport bathroom.  Cable News Network. August 28, 2007
  • 4-Year Growth in Jobs Ends; Dow Off 200. By Jeremy M. Peters.  The New York Times. September 7, 2007
  • pdf 4-Year Growth in Jobs Ends; Dow Off 200. By Jeremy M. Peters.  The New York Times. September 7, 2007
  • Opinion: Pay heed to needs of the American worker, By John Sweeney.  NewsDay. August 31, 2007
  • pdf Opinion: Pay heed to needs of the American worker, By John Sweeney.  NewsDay. August 31, 2007
  • Public Says American Work Life Is Worsening,  But Most Workers Remain Satisfied with Their Jobs.  By Paul Taylor, Cary Funk, Peyton Craighill.  Pew Research Center.  September 2006
  • The New Rich: Self-Made or Family-Made? By Robert Frank.  Wall Street Journal.  May 29, 2007
  • Reliable Sources.  Cable News Network.  September 2, 2007
  • Middle-Class Americans Join Ranks of Uninsured in 2006 as Private Coverage Shrinks, By Steffie Woolhandler, MD, Quentin Young, MD, Don McCanne, MD. Physicians For a National Health Program. August 28, 2007
  • pdf Middle-Class Americans Join Ranks of Uninsured in 2006 as Private Coverage Shrinks, By Steffie Woolhandler, MD, Quentin Young, MD, Don McCanne, MD. Physicians For a National Health Program. August 28, 2007
  • Mortgages in foreclosure at record high.  By Patrick Rucker. Reuter. September 6, 2007
  • Amid sex scandal, Senator Larry Craig resigns.  Cable News Network. September 2, 2007
  • Report: U.S. Workers Are Most Productive.  Associated Press.  The New York Times.  September 2, 2007
  • pdf Report: U.S. Workers Are Most Productive.  Associated Press.  The New York Times. September 2, 2007
  • Taming your office ego.  Market Place Morning. September 3, 2007
  • Oh, Everyone Knows That (Except You), By Amy Goodnough.  The New York Times. September 2, 2007
  • pdf Oh, Everyone Knows That (Except You), By Amy Goodnough.  The New York Times. September 2, 2007
  • Teachers Work For Salaries or Students

    Taylor Mali on what teachers make. YouTube.

    © copyright 2007 Betsy L. Angert

    You have heard it said, perhaps you uttered the statements.  “I want to be a teacher and work only ten months a year.”  “I want a career that allows me to leave the “office” at 3 in the afternoon.”  “Those that can do; those that cannot teach.”  Some think, the job of an educator is a simple task.  There are no challenges.  The time spent on campus is short and sweet.  Yet, studies show that individuals are leaving the profession in mass.  According to the Washington Post half of new teachers quit within five years. 

    Educators flee from a profession they once thought prized.  This has been the trend for quite some time.

    Jessica Jentis fit the profile of a typical American teacher: She was white, held a master’s degree and quit 2 1/2 years after starting her career.

    According to a new study from the National Education Association, a teachers union, half of new U.S. teachers are likely to quit within the first five years because of poor working conditions and low salaries.

    Jentis, now a stay-at-home mother of three, says that she could not make enough money teaching in Manhattan to pay for her student loans and that dealing with the school bureaucracy was too difficult.

    “The kids were wonderful to be with, but the stress of everything that went with it and the low pay did not make it hard to leave,” she said. “It’s sad because you see a lot of the teachers that are young and gung-ho are ready to leave.”

    The proportion of new teachers who leave the profession has hovered around 50 percent for decades, said Barry A. Farber, a professor of education and psychology at Columbia University in New York.

    Nevertheless, the misnomers surrounding this vocation continue to circulate.  Life is bliss when you work to help children learn.  Perhaps that is why teachers work as hard as they do.  They know they will not be fully financially compensated for doing as they routinely do.  Yet, their actions and the results of these are extremely rewarding.

    Recently, Education Week published Teachers’ Workday Is Difficult to Pin Down.  This exposé discusses the dynamics of the teaching profession, from hours paid to hours worked.  Recently, a report , still in its preliminary stages revealed that teachers work, on average 15 ½ hours a day.  In an article published in the The Honolulu Advertiser teachers share their perspectives.

    Dawn Kodama-Nii, a third-grade teacher at Wilson Elementary, called the study “pretty accurate,” at least in describing the amount of extra time she and her colleagues work.

    She arrives at school by 7 a.m. to prepare lesson plans and get her classroom ready. She leaves at around 5 p.m., taking work home. Nearly every Sunday she puts in another seven-hour day.

    “We put in so many hours,” said Kodama-Nii, who is married with a 2-year-old daughter. “As a teacher, your job is never done.”

    But Sylvia Koo, a veteran math teacher at Farrington High who works an average of 10 hours a day, said it’s not the quantity but the quality of hours that should matter more.

    “We do work more than our seven-hour day, but I don’t work 15 1/2 hours every day,” said Koo, who also advises the school’s math team and teaches math in an adult education class twice a week. “The fact that some teachers go home at 3 p.m., though, doesn’t make them bad teachers.”

    Nor does it make them a teacher, “absent without official leave.”  Educators take their work with them wherever they go.  Most instructors cannot and do not leave their work at the “office.”  In my own life, once I exited the school building, my day was not done.  I graded papers while dining.  I wrote plans beginning in the late afternoon.  I was working and reworking into early evening.  Before I realized it, the day began again and I had yet to go to sleep.  Rest seemed less essential than preparing for my classes.  On most mornings, while in the shower, I would think of a better way to present the material. I would quickly make changes.

    I drove back to the school building and waited in line to use the copy machine.  Well, I could have stood still and chatted; however, other arrangements needed my attention.  Students scurried in before the bell, hoping to speak with me.  There were parents to call, electronic mails to file through, paperwork to complete, and of course meetings.  Weekends were slightly different.  There was time to look for resources and materials.  These could help me motivate minds individually.  In truth, I must excite each pupil personally if they are to truly learn.

    My story is not unique.  Teachers throughout the world could tell the same or similar tales.  Nevertheless,  those not driven to the teaching profession think this scenario is overstated, unreal, or simply not credible..  Individuals quarreled over the findings in this recent report.

    An Advertiser editorial said that the 15½-hour workday “defies logic,” and added that the newspaper’s reporter should have spoken with someone outside the committee who could have brought perspective to the matter.

    But the debate in Hawaii throws up a question with as many answers, it appears, as there are education interests: How many hours does the average teacher clock in?

    Further complicating the issue is the fact that teachers work a calendar different from that of other professions-usually around 38 weeks a year.

    Based on the shorter work year, some researchers have argued that teachers are on a par with other professions in pay for actual hours worked. A controversial report that came out earlier this year from researchers Jay P. Greene and Marcus A. Winters of the New York City-based Manhattan Institute computed hourly wages for teachers using data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics to find that, on average, they earn more than economists, registered nurses, and architects, among others. In fact, it said, the average public school teacher was paid 36 percent more than the average white-collar worker in 2005.

    While I, and many studies dispute this claim, I think it is vital that we look at what goes on in the classroom. On average, a single class may have twenty to forty students.  Each pupil has his or her own history and manner of working, coping, or relating to information and instruction.  These may not be complimentary.

    The stress on a student or a teacher takes a toll.  While most educators feels connected to the scholars in their space and to the curriculum, troubling matters amass.  Frequently, a teacher is frustrated.  They feel they have little time to teach.  Discipline is a dilemma.  Class size does not always lend itself to effective instruction.  Efficacy is reduced.  Sadly, educators no longer believe that they can facilitate growth.  We have all heard the phrase, “teacher burn-out.” Frequently, educators, as people in all professions expect much of themselves.

    We all see parents unable to “control” the crying of a lone child.  Perhaps, we are the forlorn mother or father embarrassed when our offspring runs rampant up and down store isles.  Imagine, being an instructor, trying to stimulate a class full of students, each with their own individual interests, while maintaining a constructive classroom demeanor.

    The ability to control students in a classroom is a critical factor in any educational setting.  After all,  if teachers do not react adequately to students  when their behavior is disruptive, instruction suffers.  Teachers who distrust their ability  to maintain classroom order cannot avoid this key  factor of the job.  Day in, day out, they must  continue to instruct students in order to reach educational goals.

    Teachers who have no confidence in their classroom management abilities are confronted by their incompetence every day, while  at the same time understanding how important that competence is if they are to perform well and  achieve the educational goals.  Furthermore, they are likely to know that their colleagues routinely  succeed in obtaining a comfortable classroom environment (Metz, 1978). 

    Teachers who (1) distrust their classroom management abilities under standard job conditions  and (2) understand the importance of that competence, (3) cannot avoid the management tasks if they  are to reach the educational goals, and (4) are informed that colleagues routinely obtain a comfortable learning environment, can easily suffer  stress, exhaustion, and negative attitudes (Davies  & Yates, 1982; Usaf & Kavanagh, 1990).

    Several  studies demonstrate that doubts about self-efficacy can in themselves trigger the burnout process.  Chwalisz, Altmaier, and Russell (1992) found that  teachers who score low in self-efficacy reported a higher degree of burnout than their counterparts who score high in self-efficacy.

    Greenglass and  Burke (1988) conclude that doubts about self-efficacy contributed significantly to the development  of burnout among male teachers.  The more specific  relationship between teachers’ perceived self-efficacy in classroom management and burnout has  been investigated as well.  Friedman and Farber  (1992) found that teachers who considered themselves less competent in classroom management  and discipline reported a higher level of burnout  than their counterparts who have more confidence  in their competence in this regard.

    Sigh deeply and continue to assess the predicament of educators.  When the Manhattan Institute cited their conclusion, there was a clamor among educators.  Career professionals spoke not of the circumstances within the learning environment.  They addressed other concerns, those mandated by government.

    The study met with vehement opposition from teachers’ unions, which pointed out that it did not take into account additional hours that teachers put into their jobs outside the classroom.

    While school days have always been long, “there is a lot going on now in terms of the No Child Left Behind Act,” said Reg Weaver, the president of the 3.1 million-member National Education Association, referring to the mandates of the 5-year-old federal law.

    “There is a ton of paperwork that needs to be done in addition to other responsibilities, and teachers are trying to juggle the duties and responsibilities they have both in classroom and after school,” he added.

    We have heard that from many a teacher; yet few take the time to consider the truth of this statement.  Assumptions are made.  Instructors often have students grade their own, or a classmates work.  Yet, those methods for correcting are not always practical, possible, or pedagogically sound.  Humans crave attention and the admiration of those they perceive as experts.  When a pupil works diligently, and receives a score on a paper and no comments, they feel lost, devastated, and desirous of more.  If an academic is expected to excel they must have information to assist them.  Authentic achievement involves much nurturing.  It is challenging to stimulate learning within a large group.  Individuals want and need attention.

    Showing interest in each learner takes a lot of time.  The clock is ticking.  Twenty students, perhaps forty, five, six, or seven subjects to teach, this is the dilemma.  Journalist, Vaishalo Honawar, writes, this is a complicated question and the answer is equally complex.

    Across the political spectrum, experts tend to agree that many teachers put in hours well in excess of the seven-hour workday stipulated in most union contracts.

    According to Lawrence Mishel, the president of the Washington-based Economic Policy Institute, teachers work as hard as professionals in other fields, and then some.

    “Teachers work as many hours per week as other college graduates, ? or at least women teachers work as much as or more than women college graduates in other professions, while male teachers work slightly less than male graduates in other professions,” said Mr. Mishel, whose board of directors includes labor-union officials.

    “I think it’s a mistake for people to think teachers only work their contracted hours,” said Kate Walsh, the president of the National Council on Teacher Quality, a conservative-leaning advocacy, and policy group in Washington. It is “difficult and almost impossible” for teachers to get all their work, including preparation for class, done within the hours stipulated in the contract, she added.

    Even the Bureau of Labor Statistics acknowledges that there is more to the question of teacher work hours than hard facts. In its latest annual survey on worker compensation, released last August, the bureau found that elementary teachers worked 36.5 hours a week, while secondary school teachers worked 36.9 hours. Special education teachers worked 35.4 hours.

    But the bureau also says, in its Occupational Outlook Handbook, that after including school duties performed outside the classroom, many teachers work more than 40 hours a week.

    Teachers’ unions, meanwhile, have their own figures. According to Mr. Weaver, the average teacher spends 50 hours a week on instructional duties, and 12 more hours on non-instructional tasks, such as grading papers, advising students, and serving on bus duty.

    Those responsibilities, in essence, stretch the workday of an average teacher to more than 12 hours-almost twice what is stated in most contracts.

    Yet, many quibble.  Among the economists and researchers, remarks are made.  Michael Podgursky, an Economics Professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison quipped, “People always think they’re working. But if I’m on a treadmill thinking about work, does that count as work?”  Nevertheless, in Hawaii there may be some hope for overworked and underpaid teaching professionals.  It seems the Time Committee cares.  Will parents, Principals, School Boards, and Districts?

    $63,000 More?
    In Hawaii, the Time Committee was set up in 2005 as a result of a collective bargaining agreement between the school board and the union. (Hawaii has a single, statewide school district.) It was in response to teachers’ concerns of spending many extra hours on the job, said Joan Lee Husted, the executive director of the Hawaii State Teachers Association.

    “Our teachers have been complaining that with NCLB and with standards-based education, they have been doing more testing, more paperwork, and more committee meetings than they are preparing for delivering instruction,” she said.

    The preliminary report found that teachers spend 1,780 additional hours a year, or 254 additional seven-hour workdays, on noninstructional duties that include creating lesson plans, grading tests, counseling individual students, and communicating with parents, among many other tasks. If teachers were compensated for the additional work at the average daily rate of pay, the report says, it would cost $63,000 more per teacher per year.

    Meanwhile, the NEA’s Mr. Weaver said a teacher working for 15 hours does not sound, to him, beyond the realm of possibility.

    For most teachers, he said, a 12-hour workday is common.

    “Teachers are always engaged with the children and the community,” Mr. Weaver said. “We spend a lot of time working.”

    Perchance an additional $63,000 per teacher is ah, but a dream.  Nonetheless, in a time when American students are falling behind, we as a nation might consider that investing in education and educators benefits society as a whole.  Schools are not meant to serve as storage spaces for children, while parents go off and play or make money to pay the bills.  Our educational institutions are the foundation for our future.

    A Teachers Work and Wages . . .

  • pdf Teachers’ Workday Is Difficult to Pin Down, By Vaishali Honawar.  Education Week. April 18, 2007
  • Teacher’s day ends long after bell, By Catherine E. Toth. Advertiser Urban Honolulu Sunday, March 4, 2007
  • How Much Are Public School Teachers Paid? By Jay P. Greene and Marcus A. Winters.  The Manhattan Institute
  • The National Compensation Survey (NCS) U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics
  • Half of Teachers Quit in 5 Years, Working Conditions, Low Salaries Cited. By Lisa Lambert. Reuters.  Washington Post.  Tuesday, May 9, 2006; A07
  • pdf Half of Teachers Quit in 5 Years, Working Conditions, Low Salaries Cited. By Lisa Lambert. Reuters.  Washington Post. Tuesday, May 9, 2006; A07
  • Insights Into Why U.S. Students Lag Behind in Global Academic ‘Horse Race,’ By Edward B. Fiske. International Herald Tribune. Tuesday, February 11, 1997
  • Live Your Life; Rest In Peace

    Live Your Life

    © copyright 2007 Betsy L. Angert

    I offer my thanks to the creator of the video, Danny Smith, and to the Sandwichman at MaxSpeak for stimulating this sharing.

    We wake to work, dress for the job, drive to the office, factory, educational institution, the fields, or perchance, a restaurant.  Perhaps, we travel to the site, go underground, or seek scaffolding.  Some soar above the clouds to complete their designated task, or is the word “required” a more accurate term for what we do daily. 

    We spend hours “slaving away” while at work.  We then take a bus, a car, a taxi, a train, or a plane and return home.  We eat quickly, do a few chores, and chatter with our loved ones, just for a bit.  There is so little time for what we enjoy.  We are exhausted!  We climb into bed, knowing the cycle will begin again tomorrow.

    Even the weekends bring no respite.  We must run.  There is so much to do; it cannot all be done while we are at work.  There is little time for relaxation.  While on vacation, there are distractions.  Our heads are filled with fear of what we have not done for our employer, the company, our customers, clients, or patients.  We make a call or two; just to be sure, all is well.  Those still on the clock call us.  We must stay connected to what counts.  The cash we earn is crucial.  Without it, how could we afford a holiday?

    Even exercise is rote and regulated.  How quickly can you jog the mile?  Is your walk brisk enough to be beneficial?  Swim, but watch your speed.  We need a strategy for success.

    I will pencil you in.  My schedule is tight.  Nevertheless, we will meet.  We have our priorities.  Family is first, then friends, our neighborhood; finally, financial obligations are attended to.  Our lives are, as they say, in balance.  We spend quality time with those we love.  We make sure of this, for we know the quantity of time devoted to work will not decrease.  We have our day-planners up-to date.

    Excellence in every aspect of life is essential.  Thus, we gather and glean.  We calculate our every move.

    Ultimately, we earn an abundance of wealth, or at least we hope to.  We yearn to make enough money to survive.  Sadly, and often, our funds may just barely meet our minimal needs.  A budget, yes, we have that.  Now, where is it?  I had the accounting log right here.  It must be somewhere in all this mess.

    We buy this, then that.  Our houses are full with so much stuff.  We need to use the garage, basement, attic, crawl space, or a storage space to stock it all.  For many, homes hold all they have.  In these abodes, we haphazardly arrange what we no longer need, or what we purchased on a whim.  Some of what we “possess” has not been seen by a living human soul for decades.  The animals and insects may be enjoying our wares.  Clutter consumes us as we consume it. 

    We clean house to settle our soul.  Still, we do not feel fully serene.  It must be money is on our mind.  We do not earn enough, have enough, or handle what we have well.  Thus, we work, and work, and work again.

    Labor is love.  We are providing for our families and taking good care of ourselves.

    When legally, we have the right to retire, we do not have the means, or perchance we love our job.  Possibly, we feel a fondness for our careers.  We are less connected with our families.  After all, we are more familiar with our work and co-workers than we are with our spouses, children, grandchildren, aunts, uncles, nephews, and community.  We see and speak with the individuals that we toil with regularly.  Colleagues know us well, perhaps, better than those that we “live” with.  Eight hours here, more minutes there, it matters.  It adds up.  The sum may truly be greater than the parts.  Quality can evolve when the quantity of time together is ample.

    Sooner, more often than later, we do slow down.  The pace is more than we can endure.  Years of ignoring our health, and perhaps happiness, take a toll.  We tire.  We must rest.  Perhaps in a box or in an urn, we will find peace.  May you find in peace before it is too late to enjoy your life here on Earth!