Moneybag Democracy

To view the original art, please travel to “Moneybag Democracy” [Archive No. 9703]

copyright © 2008.  Andrew Wahl.  Off The Wahl Perspective.

copyright © 2009 Betsy L. Angert.

“Now, that doesn’t mean that questions of Taiwan, Tibet, human rights, the whole range of challenges that we often engage on with the Chinese, are not part of the agenda. But we pretty much know what they are going to say. We have to continue to press them but our pressing on those issues can’t interfere with the global economic crisis, the global climate change crisis, and the security crises.

~ Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton (February 20, 2009)

The news appeared in cyberspace on Friday, February 20, 2009.  As Yogi Berra once elucidated, it was as déjà vu, all over again. International and domestic activists have come to realize, once again, America is a democracy dependent on dollars.  Amnesty International advocates shook their heads, wondered, and worried of what might be.  Students for a Free Tibet collectively shrugged their shoulders and expressed a shared distress.  Citizens at home, in America, barely blinked.  An avid Obama supporter, was resigned to realities that, only weeks ago, she might not have thought she would willingly accept.  Moneybag democracy lives.  Hillary Clinton serves the President, the precedent past, present, and perhaps, future.

Days ago, with Secretary of State Clinton abroad in China, the world was given an opportunity to witness America’s new direction.  Most anticipated dollars would no longer have a greater influence on United States policy than humanitarian concerns did.  Globally, people waited to cheer for the change that had certainly come.  Then, Secretary Clinton, pleaded with Beijing to buy United States bonds.  Contrary to her pointed comments on human rights, made during her presidential campaign, as a representative of the Obama Administration, Secretary Clinton spoke as though she no longer believes as she had, Chinese ownership of US government debt had become a threat to national security.  

Perhaps, Hillary Clinton, and her President, surmised Capitalism, or a democracy devoted to dollars must survive at all cost.  Certainly her husband, and his Secretary of State, Madeline Albright had reached this conclusion near a decade earlier.

Like Secretary Albright, Hillary Rodham Clinton, chose to sell America’s soul. When the first woman Head of State spoke of her decision, few United States citizens said a word.  In the 1990s, then Head of State, Albright, in a 60 Minutes interview, discussed the American policy decisions that caused the deaths of more than half-million Arab children in Iraq.  She said without hesitation, the loss of young lives were the price the Clinton Administration thought wise to pay.   Madeline Albright mused; the sacrifice of little ones was “worth it.”

Hardships on fellow humans are the cost citizens in a comfortable and “civilized” society must pay for democracy.  Apparently, Americans, even the most Progressive amongst us, seem to agree.  Then, as now, few if any said a word.

Today when news came over the wires, Secretary Clinton stood firm in favor of economic relations with China, regardless of human rights violations, only a few countrymen responded.  Activists were ‘shocked’ when they heard the American Ambassador, Clinton, take such a stance.  Representatives from Amnesty International and Students for a Free Tibet spoke out.

T. Kumar of Amnesty International USA said the global rights lobby was “shocked and extremely disappointed” by Secretary Clinton’s comment.  The advocate for honorable and equitable civil liberties may have trusted that at least where China was concerned, the Clinton’s had a record, or at any rate, had offered respectable rhetoric.

James Mann, a Johns Hopkins scholar who wrote a history of U.S.-China relations, also recalled.  When asked of Secretary Clinton’s most recent comment, Professor Mann stated he was struck by the contrast.  Bill Clinton, he said, as president more than eight years earlier gave strong speeches on behalf of political freedom in the People’s Republic.  “Bill Clinton told the leader of China he was on ‘the wrong side of history,'” Mann recollected.  “Now, Hillary seems to be giving them the reverse message: that China is on the right side of history.”

However, historians might consider the statement that President Bill Clinton is better known for was his truer agenda.  “It is the economy stu***!”  In March of 1997, writer for China Daily, Ren Yanshi avowed the Chinese government certainly perceived the United States had a record of human rights violations, during the Clinton years.  In a “Moneybag Democracy,” the United States of America caters only to the rich.  In the States, a consumer culture allows the prosperous to profit further.  The people, the poor suffer greatly.

In recent years, as the rich got much richer, this truth was revealed in radical ways.  The word “Katrina” evokes much empathy.  “Bank bailouts elicit more emotions within the ranks of what once was the Middle Class.   Some might say, these truths are the reason that change has finally come to America.  Until today, the thought was coins and currency would no longer guide an Administration or US policy.  Barack Obama brought hope to the world.

Students for a Free Tibet embraced the new Administration.  They believed the current White House could and would make a difference in the lives of all people.  Surely, a President Obama would not serve only the affluent.

As a Senator, Barack Obama was among the sponsors of the act, which bestowed the nation’s highest civilian honor, the Congressional Gold Medal, on the Dalai Lama.  Senator Obama urged Chinese president Hu Jintao to “meaningfully address the Tibet issue.”  After the election, Tibetans were encouraged.  They sent President Obama letters of Congratulations.  Thus, it was an unexpected and an unwanted surprise to hear Secretary Clinton cavort, cajole, and say as she did.  The proponents of social justice stated, Clinton’s remarks “sent the wrong signal to China at a sensitive time.”

“The US government cannot afford to let Beijing set the agenda,” said Tenzin Dorjee, deputy director of the New York-based advocacy group.

Long-time activists, domestic supporters of Barack Obama, persons such as Jessica, see Secretary Clinton’s statement differently.  This woman who energetically endorsed Barack Obama from the moment he announced his campaign would have welcomed a more mindful position.  She yearns for United States policy to be benevolent as she believes Barack Obama, the man, is.  Jessica, who organized her community to come out and work for what she craved, an Obama White House, now thinks America cannot “afford” to do other than cater to the wishes of the Chinese government.

A jubilant Jessica has been joyful since her presidential candidate was chosen to serve. She avows; “Unfortunately, due to our greed, China owns us.  If they pulled their money, this country would die.  Sad fact but true.”  

American lives would be lost if foreign affairs focus on humanitarian concerns in China.  There can be nothing worse.  Who would buy the wares that please the people in the States, or Jessica might say, in her own defense, furnish jobs for those born in the Far Eastern nation.  The argument could be made; and certainly, descendants of Wal-Mart founder, Sam Walton, would be the first to offer it.  US dollars support a much-improved Chinese culture.

George W. Bush might have mused the latter claim an important one.  Perchance, that is why the former President chose to attend the 2008 Summer Olympics.  United States indebtedness served to justify relations with China, a country well-known for human rights violations.  The desire to feed a Capitalist market, the need to assuage the hunger of citizens who habitually consume on credit, and a country famished for cash, will do all that they can to appease those who beat and brutalize Chinese citizens.

The people of China, many Americans cried at the time, cannot be punished because they live under totalitarian rule.  Nor can US athletes be penalized.  Cruel and inhumane treatment is not acceptable, or at least it would not have been months ago, to Jessica who did all she could to help place the now President, Barack Obama in the Oval Office.

In primary season, Jessica stood staunchly against what she then thought were Hillary Clinton’s hawkish views.  She, might have agreed with essayist Stephen Zunes when he wrote for the Foreign Policy in Focus on December 11, 2007, “(F)ront-runner for the Democratic nomination for president shares much of President Bush’s dangerous attitudes toward international law and human rights.”  

Nonetheless, today, Jessica, the proud Progressive, a self-identified peace lover offers, “If there is no money, people will die.  Fact.  I hate it (almost) as much [as an idealist would.]  I also agree we are a soul-less country.”

Then, she quickly deferred to her disgust for the George W. Bush years.  She stated the crimes committed by the former Administration were deplorable.  Jessica concludes, “(W)e have to hold the previous administration accountable for their crimes.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, whose position on censure has wavered would concur with Jessica, today. If the subject were an investigation or possible prosecution of the Bush White House, Nancy Pelosi would be on-board.  However, Speaker Pelosi may, or may not, think the United States can ignore human rights violations on the part of China.  One never knows.  History and statements made in the past, are often inconsistent.

Almost a year to the day, on February 21, 2008, Secretary Clinton’s good friend, the esteemed Representative from San Francisco, Pelosi, spoke eloquently of what she did not publicly discuss with fellow Democrat, Hillary Clinton, now in 2009.

“If freedom-loving people throughout the world do not speak out against China’s oppression in China and Tibet, we have lost all moral authority to speak on behalf of human rights anywhere in the world,” House Speaker Pelosi told reporters during a visit with the Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, in Dharamsala, India.

Indeed, America, the Moneybag Democracy has forfeited ethical influence.  Economics has replaced principled certitude as US policy.  The press understands the priority.  The commercial media knows dollars deliver.  Damn the lives and liberties of our brethren abroad.  In the United States there is but one mission, moneybag democracy.

Perchance this truth explains why coverage on the decision to forego human rights concerns is limited.  An article appeared here, or there.  Yet, few commentaries focused on the human rights aspect of the Secretary Clinton’s travel.  The Los Angeles Times reported, Clinton added environmental and security issues to economic talks in China.  Most say Secretary of State Clinton has sealed the deal.  She has merged the past with the present. Former First Lady, Hillary Rodham Clinton has performed laudably for her President, Clinton, Bush, Obama, or for the precedent moneybag democracy.

References for varied reality . . .

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

  • America The Beautiful?

    copyright © Judith Moriarty

    America the beautiful?  If you listen to the constant barrage of PR on TV,  we’re the Superpower of the world!  That may be, if it applies to our major industry today,  the exporting of war and weapons?  We have a Defense budget of some $648 BILLION.  This does not include the ‘supplemental’ billions that are being asked for every few months!  

    ‘Oh beautiful for spacious skies, for amber waves of grain’.  

    America the beautiful?  What is not being reported by the media; is the poisoning of our rivers, land, and air.  The frogs are deformed, we are warned not to eat the fish, the honeybees are disappearing, birds are dropping dead,  and the deer and moose have wasting disease.  

    America the beautiful?  I’m perplexed.  With all this talk about the environment, carbon footprints, and growing corn (please) for fuel, we don’t see the media reporting on the destruction of Appalachia.  Where’s Al?  Why aren’t those running for office holding debates on the raped mountains in West Virginia?  The corporate coal vultures have found that it’s cheaper to tear down the mountains and dump the sludge into valleys.  This EPA approved destruction is destroying small towns, rivers, and streams!  These folks aren’t worrying about glacial ice melting!  Their lives are being destroyed – legally!

    America the beautiful?  The ‘levees’ meant to protect tens of thousands of lives in New Orleans, resembled fencing around a Little League park!  The local, state, and federal authorities, knew for years that the destruction of the barrier islands, marshlands, and dredging for oil/gas was creating a catastrophe and did nothing.  They also knew that the poorly built levees, would never protect against a category 4-5 hurricane.  

    There are levees that protect citizens – in the Netherlands!  When greed, corruption, and politics, do the building – people die.

    America the beautiful?  Katrina showed that we have no disaster policy .  It’s pretty sad, when Cuba has a perfectly organized plan; with inland shelters and buses, ready to evacuate those in shoreline villages.  No person is left stranded for days on rooftops, or on strips of highway, in 100-degree heat!  Katrina saw gentrification by disaster.  As legislators met in emergency session, to relocate casinos onshore, the victims were shipped out of the area to distant states, put in tents, or FEMA trailers, which sickened them , with the formaldehyde fumes!  But then, most countries don’t have a man running their disaster plan, whose last job was running an Arabian horse organization!

    America the beautiful?  Hundreds of thousands are homeless.  Many of these are mentally ill and veterans.  When the institutions closed in the 80s-90s, crisis centers were supposed to open in every state.  This never happened.  The mentally ill are on the street or in jail!  Numerous families are homeless, with public housing being torn down, and nothing being built to replace it.  Many of the homeless work but cannot afford the high rents.  It took Congress ten years to raise the minimum wage.  Gentrification has destroyed affordable housing in numerous cities.  Many communities, from Washington State, to Florida, are opening ‘tent’ shelters!

    America the beautiful?  We spend billions upon billions for war.  Billions more are squandered or lost?  Nobody seems to care?  Nobody’s going to jail for this theft!  Those who return (after three or four tours) are scarred for life (physically and mentally).  All these billions, haven’t supplied our troops, with the most basic means of protection (i.e.  armored vehicles, body armor, etc).  A supposed ‘humanitarian’ effort in Somalia, had our soldiers dragged through the street!  Meantime, when the politicians are out and about, they are supplied with guards, snipers on rooftops, and limousines that are fully armored.  Veterans, including the Marine above, terribly burned, have to FIGHT for their benefits!  Politicians don’t have to FIGHT for their lucrative pensions.  They have managed, in the few days a week that they do work, to ensure that they get, not only their yearly (thousands) raises, but yearly cost of living increases in their pensions.  What’s wrong with this picture?

    America the beautiful?  Besides the military, our fastest growing businesses are – private prisons, casinos, garbage, and Wal-Mart (our nation’s largest employer).  None of these produce anything except profits for the corporate hucksters.  We have the largest prison population in the world (mostly non-violent drug offenses/probation violations).  We build more prisons than schools.  

    America the beautiful?  Per chance you should not be part of ‘group-think’.  and protest against our nation being emptied of livable wage jobs (due to trade agreements voted by Congress), you will be beaten down, or caged in ‘free-speech’ zones.  The police in Miami were given $8 million (meant for our troops) to outfit them in Ninja attire.  This armor was needed to protect them, not from an invasion, but from students – housewives – environmentalists – and workers protesting the FTAA (Free Trade of America’s Agreement), which was exporting more jobs to third world countries.

    America the beautiful?  Our steel mills, textile plants, and manufacturing industries, are shuttered and rusting away.  They are, like old man in a nursing home, none of them wanting to be there, each with his own story to tell.  These were the places that employed hundreds of thousands.  The hundreds of thousands who worked in these places, built our nation’s bridges, skyscrapers, railroads, and great Navy ships.  Without them, (Rosie the Riveter) WWII would have been lost!

    America the beautiful?  Our nation’s infrastructure is falling down.  Foreign investors are buying up our thruways (paid for by tax dollars).  China (to bypass American ports) is building Mexican ports.  A NAFTA highway will snake though the country, delivering goods to all points, including Canada.  The bridge in Minnesota, which collapsed, is now be expanded to ten lane,  to accommodate future truck traffic.  

    America the beautiful?  Our energy policy appears to be keeping the coffers of the OIL & GAS industries filled!  The latest ‘energy bill’ (hardly a whisper in the media) was passed, once the White House was assured, that billions in subsidies would continue to go to the oil companies.  War has been very – very good for these vultures.  They’ve realized multi-billions in profits, since this ‘war for democracy – liberation – and freedom’ for the Iraqi people.  As America rusts away, the oil profits are being used to construct futuristic cities, and indoor ski resorts in Dubai etc.  

    America the beautiful?  Many areas of our country are in distress, with high unemployment rates.  Detroit, once the headquarters of the auto industry, employing tens of thousands, is now a wasteland.  It’s downtown streets, hotels, auto plants, etc, are all shuttered.  

    America the beautiful?  Due to GREED, and little to no regulatory oversight (Congress – ha – is now going to hold hearings), millions of citizens across the land are losing their homes.  A bank doesn’t care (even with their 30 yr obscene interest rates) if multitudes are put out in the cold.  They’ll not be out in the cold and that’s what counts.  They’re in the money-making business.  Bankers, along with transnational corporations, are without souls or conscience.  They are loyal only to profits – percentages – hedge funds – and interest rates.  

    America the beautiful?  Meantime don’t worry.  The talking heads and ‘experts’ (hirelings) in the media assure us that all is calm.  TV was our teacher far into the night – it taught us to think, that things were alright?

    America the beautiful?  Meantime the ‘sheeple’ line up at the unemployment offices.  They fill out applications for those jobs at Home Depot, Wal-Mart, as blackjack dealers, or prison guards.  They obediently allow themselves to be scanned, groped, and searched at airports.  They line up for the newest vaccines, buy the newest high tech gadgets, and believe that a new Republican or Democrat ‘overseer’,  will deliver them from their despair and FEAR.  As for war – they watch from a distance.  They don’t connect the loss of local services, to the fact, that war costs money, and programs need to be cut (housing, homeless, food stamps, medical, fuel assistance, education, infrastructure, etc).  All of this money for war (projected to be $1-2 trillion) is borrowed.  Money today; is invested destructive bombs, called ‘Daisey Cutters’ (which rupture organs – eyeballs), missiles, stun guns, melting death rays , planes, tanks, guns, Ninja attire, depleted uranium weapons (cuts through steel like butter), mercenary troops, bunker busters,  and other exotic madness.  The more deadly our weapons are – the more our fears leave us numb.  

    America the beautiful?  In various hamlets and towns across the nation, a lone voice warns.  Of course, he/she is called unpatriotic, mad, a trouble- maker, and nut case.  Throughout the ages, war has always proved profitable for the select few.  They sit back and send the poor to war.  Marine General (34 years) Smedley Butler summed it up, “War is a racket.”

    America the beautiful?  Meantime Alice cries, “But I don’t want to go among mad people”.  “Oh, you can’t help that,” said the Cat, “We’re all mad here.”  Alice in Wonderland


    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.


    National Public Radio Lowers the Volume [Boom] On Dennis Kucinich

    copyright © 2007 Betsy L. Angert

    Dear National Public Radio . . .

    Well over a week ago, I was elated when I first heard broadcasters on National Public Radio’s Morning Edition state they would host a Democratic Debate. I thought; finally, Presidential hopeful, and an authentic Progressive, Dennis Kucinich would actually have a chance to speak.  People would hear the words of the most mainstream candidate for more than a minute.  Congressman Kucinich could truly discuss the issues in some depth and possibly detail.  Perhaps, a publicly supported media service would at least grant Dennis Kucinich equal time.

    The announcer encouraged audience members, nationwide, to submit questions.  I raced to my computer and eagerly typed my query.  As I clicked the button to post, I realized I neglected to do as the instructions advised.  I did not include my hometown.  Troubled by my error, I telephoned the main National Public Radio switchboard.  I was transferred to the person in-the-know.  The producer and I discussed what I had done, how I could correct my mistake, and my excitement for the upcoming debate.  I was told to resubmit my question and I did as directed.

    Expectant as I pondered the possibilities, I wondered.  Might this be the debate of my dreams?  I hoped this panel discussion would be as the Heartland Presidential Forum.  During that event, citizens of the region had an opportunity to hear from each candidate.  With the exclusion of one unscripted, unforeseen technical glitch, that allowed Hillary Clinton to speak for moments more, every Presidential hopeful had equal time to address what matters to the common man.  Aspirants stood unaccompanied by adversaries.  Face-to-face with real people, contenders for the Office of the President heard the tales folks told and answered their questions.  It was a beautiful assembly to behold.

    Then, on December 3, the day prior to the National Public Radio Democratic Debate, my dreams were shattered.  I listen to a lengthy program, where the journalist discussed their plans.  My heart sank.  As the correspondents described the format, I was certain, this get-together would be as all those seen or heard on “popular” media, slanted towards the supposed front-runners.

    I chatted with a friend that was also looking forward to the transmission.  We shared our sorrow; yet, we hoped we would be wrong.  Indeed, my interpretation for what was to come was accurate.

    On December 4, 2007, I scheduled my life around the National Public Radio debate.  As I listened, again my heart sank.  The speakers were as they have been in each mainstream program.  Hillary, Obama, and John were the focus and featured prominently.  The powerful three are so well known, Americans recognize and address them by their first names.  Joseph Biden was the sometimes foil.  Mike Gravel was the candidate not-to-be-taken-seriously, and Dennis Kucinich was to-be avoided-at-any-cost.  If the Congressman were allowed to speak, he might connect with the listeners in an authentic manner.  Then, what would this nation’s powerbrokers do?

    What, a listener might say, National Public Radio is pure.  It is the people’s choice.  Are there not studies or polls that state this is the least biased broadcast service.  Perhaps there were or are; however, we must consider an image built in the past may linger.

    [L]ittle evidence has ever been presented for a left bias at NPR, and FAIR’s latest study gives it no support. Looking at partisan sources-including government officials, party officials, campaign workers and consultants-Republicans outnumbered Democrats by more than 3 to 2 (61 percent to 38 percent). A majority of Republican sources when the GOP controls the White House and Congress may not be surprising, but Republicans held a similar though slightly smaller edge (57 percent to 42 percent) in 1993, when Clinton was president and Democrats controlled both houses of Congress. And a lively race for the Democratic presidential nomination was beginning to heat up at the time of the 2003 study.

    Partisans from outside the two major parties were almost nowhere to be seen, with the exception of four Libertarian Party representatives who appeared in a single story (Morning Edition , 6/26/03).

    Republicans not only had a substantial partisan edge, individual Republicans were NPR ‘s most popular sources overall, taking the top seven spots in frequency of appearance. George Bush led all sources for the month with 36 appearances, followed by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld (8) and Sen. Pat Roberts (6). Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, Secretary of State Colin Powell, White House press secretary Ari Fleischer and Iraq proconsul Paul Bremer all tied with five appearances each.

    Might we consider another  account; NPR Touts Pro-Nuke ‘Environmentalists’ Network’s own nuclear links undisclosed.  In August 2007, a likely too scant readership learned of what some sharp listeners surmise.

    One factor that is relevant to NPR’s cheerleading for nuclear power is its own financial links to the industry.  According to NPR’s website, between 1993 and 2005, the public radio service received between $250,000 and $500,000 from Constellation Energy, which belongs to Nustart Energy, a 10-company consortium pushing for new nuclear power plant construction.  During the same period, another nuclear operator, Sempra Energy, donated between $50,000 and $100,000 to NPR.  This potential conflict of interest was not disclosed in the August 15 segment, or in any other of NPR’s recent largely industry-friendly reports.  (NPR has, in the past, insisted that the corporate “underwriting” money it receives has no bearing on its coverage–a defense that would seem to undercut the rationale for NPR’s existence as a noncommercial broadcaster.)

    To think, no one, no organization is influenced by those who allow them to survive is an interesting notion, although common sense would tell us this is quite a stretch.  Without money to endure, there is no National Public Radio.  Do listeners not hear that claim during each fund drive.?

    National Public Radio may hope we will believe that the evidence is only circumstantial; however, there is ample reason to believe “Public” radio leans towards monied moguls. Curious souls who search, further discover there is much to call into question.  Why might the once six-year Wal-Mart Board member,, Hillary Clinton be allotted so much more time to speak than a less well-connected candidate?  Perchance it is because National Public Radio receives major, as in Million Dollars Plus, donations from this corporation.  Wal-Mart, a company that more than profits from the National Free Trade Agreement [NAFTA], obviously would not wish for Congressman Dennis Kucinich to speak.

    The people’s candidate, Dennis Kucinich advocates an end to the “free” trade agreement, just as the American workers do.  Representative Kucinich understands the harm this contract caused and the hazards that will befall laborers in this country if the policy continues.  However, Dennis, a lifetime Union member was not given an opportunity to speak on the topic, although he tried to.

    Inskeep:  Candidates, we’ve just been doing some reporting in the last few days from Marshalltown, Iowa, a city that I know many of you have visited. This is a city with a lot of immigrants, a number of illegal immigrants. There have been immigration raids there. And that raises questions about citizens in places like that all over America.

    Some citizens in Marshalltown turn in illegal immigrants, some take them in. There’s actually a person who’s been indicted for sheltering immigrants, which raises a question that I’d like to put to you: What obligations do American citizens have when it comes to illegal immigrants?

    And let’s start with Senator Obama. Would you expect Americans, if you’re president – January 2009, immigration reform, whatever you want hasn’t happened yet. Would you expect Americans to turn in illegal immigrants when they come across them?

    Of course, let us begin with Barack Obama.  He is in the same league with National Public Radio backers [bankers].  Time Warner is among the corporations that fund the broadcasters and Barack.  The Illinois Senator loves their financial support [contributions or backing], as does NPR.  Goldman Sachs, Lehman Brothers, JP Morgan Chase & Company, and Morgan Stanley, who contribute to the Obama campaign, certainly, these institutions are sensitive to the immigration situation.  Barack Obama takes the expected strong stance against immigration, and then reminds the business brass they need not fear a loss of laborers.  The individuals already in the States will realize a pathway towards citizenship.  

    Corporations are consoled and the candidate confident all will be well.  As long as we do what has been done there will be no change, and after all, is that not the truest issue.  Profiteers do not wish to relinquish power.

    Mister Inskeep understands this idea.  What is ideal for the powerbrokers is perfect for his employer.  Thus, in the spirit of judicious journalism the moderator moves on to an aspirant not thought a likely nominee; however, Christopher Dodd is not a threat to the system or the status quo.  Inskeep inquired.

    Inskeep:  You interview a number of applicants. They all seem very nice. They seem like they would take care of the kids, but it would appear that their documents may not be in order. What would you want an American to do?

    Senator Dodd responded.  As he spoke, he dared to include the unthinkable issue.  He referred to trade agreements and how as a nation we must consider what we do on both sides of the border.   Christopher Dodd offered . . .

    Instead of improving the quality of working conditions that would give people in these countries a chance to stay in their own nations, which most of them would prefer to do, we’re encouraging people to come here by not having trading agreements that don’t insist upon –

    Corporate sponsors may not wish to discuss that topic.  Low wages, high profits, that seems sensible to those that benefit from such inequitable practices.  Aware of the delicate balance between big business interests and that of the immigrant and American worker, moderator Steve Inskeep redirected the discussion.

    Inskeep:  We’re going to talk more about that, those issues, as we go along here.

    Unexpectedly, the host dared to turn to Dennis Kucinich; however, he carefully crafted his approach.  National Public Radio must broach the discussion of trade with caution, if at all.  Inskeep, as he posed his inquiry, reminded Congressman Kucinich of the limits.  He was kind enough to acknowledge that Dennis might know of real people.

    Inskeep:  But sticking with real people, Congressman Kucinich, the real person in that situation, what should they do?

    Representative Kucinich: Rely on the Constitution.  You know, we don’t encourage vigilantism in this country.  We have a Constitution, we have due process, we have equal protection, we have habeas corpus.  This administration, as – like – you know, would like to shred the Constitution and deny people all those rights.  But when we get into that, what we do, we take the path of denying constitutional rights, and we’re back to Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo and all those other violations of rights that we’re ashamed of now.  And I’m saying that we have to realize that these are economic refugees from NAFTA.

    You know, I’ve said it over and over.  Cancel NAFTA.  Negotiate a new trade agreement with Mexico based on workers rights, human rights, [and] environmental quality principles.  Give a path to legalization for the people who have been here.  You can’t send them home willy-nilly.  You have to have a way in which our immigration policy resonates with the deeper principles of inclusiveness in America, as symbolized by our Statue of Liberty.

    Inskeep: We may get to NAFTA as well, time permitting.

    However, astute listeners grasp there are only moments enough for what works well for the corporate sponsors and contributors that offer enough cash to shape the agenda.  Perceptive persons acknowledge time is a fascinating construct.  Man makes time for what he or she thinks a priority and has not a second for what might cause great concern.  Correspondents understand conflicts of interest are ill-advised.  Sponsors would not wish to air dirty laundry.  Hence, if National Public Radio broadcasters are to direct a question to the one Presidential aspirant that could provide the people with a voice, they must remember, Dennis Kucinich must be silenced swiftly.

    Norris: Representative Kucinich, very quickly.

    Dennis responds speedily.  He reminds the audience that he was not late to realize we are a global community.  Every nation is connected to the other.  We must understand the effect of every given decision.  Our actions cause reactions.  Dennis Kucinich helps us understand that we can no longer react belatedly.  We must do more than read briefs.  Before a President devises a plan, he or she must look at the broader picture.

    Representative Kucinich: Yes.  And I may be the only one up here who actually voted against China trade because of the concerns I had that the U.S. was not going to be able to maintain its manufacturing base, which is central to maintaining a middle class.  What we’ve seen is that without solid trade policies, we’re undermined.  Without a strength-through-peace doctrine of rejecting war as an instrument of policy, we’re going to keep borrowing money from China.  Let us not forget we’re borrowing money from China to finance the war in Iraq.  And in addition to that, the speculation on Wall Street has weakened our economy.

    We need a policy of constructive engagement with China, stop the arms race with them, work to make sure we have a global climate change treaty with China, get them to transition out of nuclear and coal and oil.  You know, I’m talking about a whole new direction that’s based on a doctrine of strength through peace, and I have a voting record up here to back it up, unlike some of my esteemed colleagues.

    The hosts listened without much enthusiasm or interest.  Each knows which side of the bread holds the butter.  Without any caution or concern for the minutes the Senator from New York might need to make her point, moderator Michele Norris offered Hillary Clinton more than enough moments to explore as she might.

    Norris: Senator Clinton, do we need them more than they need us?

    Apparently, in the hearts, minds, and pocketbooks of National Public Radio and its corporate sponsors, America needs the Former First Lady Clinton more than we need, [or want] Dennis Kucinich.  Regardless of The Nation Magazine Poll, the Democracy for America (DFA) survey, or the Progressive Democrats of America sample each of which places Dennis Kucinich as America’s first choice among those that gather information from more than mainstream sources, citizens of this country are told Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, and John Edwards are the only candidates of note.

    Indeed, Dennis Kucinich is not a recognized name.  Many Americans ask, “Who?”  We need not wonder why.  When the media does mention Presidential hopeful Kucinich, they frequently misrepresent the Congressman.  Rarely, was our possible President, Dennis Kucinich, given an opportunity to speak during this skewed NPR Democratic Debate.  In truth, there were very few occasions in which Presidential hopeful, Kucinich, was granted a chance to speak.  Once more, we might muse, do the Journalists at National Public Radio think America might wish to hear from Congressman Kucinich, or will these broadcasters tell us what the Representative believes, that is, if they have the time.  Perchance, the former Senator Edwards will articulate for Dennis Kucinich, or ensure that the Congressman cannot express himself.

    Mister Edwards: Well, everyone – everyone at the table would acknowledge that Iran represents a serious issue for the Middle East and for us –

    Representative Kucinich: No, I do not acknowledge –

    Inskeep: Congressman Kucinich does not, but –

    Mister Edwards: Let me finish, if I can.

    Representative Kucinich: Let me characterize my own remarks.

    Mister Edwards: If I can just finish, Dennis, for just a second . . .

    Siegel: And I’m Robert Siegel. We’re discussing Iran, the lessons learned from the war in Iraq.

    A moment ago when Congressman Kucinich objected to or interrupted the statement from Senator Edwards that everybody agrees Iran is a threat, you say, Congressman Kucinich, I misinterpreted your earlier remarks that Iran is not a threat.

    Representative Kucinich: All I did was raise my hand.  I wanted a chance to respond.

    Siegel: Yes.

    Representative Kucinich: Thank you.

    The point that Senator Clinton made was a valid point with respect to the comments of Senator Obama and also the comments of Senator Edwards at the Herzliya conference. See, when people say all options are on the table, as the three senators have, they actually encouraged President Bush and licensed his rhetoric.  And what I’m saying is that I’m the only one here who in Congress repeatedly challenge, in every chance and every legislation, repeatedly challenge this mind-set that said all options are on the table and that Iran had nuclear weapons programs.

    Siegel: OK. Cleared up.

    Representative Kucinich: I’m the only one who can make that claim.

    Siegel: Clarified . . .

    What is clear to me is Americans are not able to hear an open, honest discussion between the candidates, not even on National Public Radio.  If the people are to truly know of the one and only candidate for change, they will have to find a source of information that is truly fair and accurate, one that is not sponsored by corporate bigwigs [Archer Daniels Midland Company, Wal-Mart, AT&T], insurers [Farmers Insurance Group of Companies, Allianz Life Insurance Company of North America Allstate Insurance Company, Liberty Mutual Insurance Company], financial institutions [Prudential Financial, T. Rowe Price, The Hartford Financial Services Group], energy companies [Sempra, Constellation Energy], car manufacturers [Acura, Honda, Ford Motor Company, Saturn Corporation], petroleum interests [ConocoPhillips Company] all of which have an interest to serve, other than the American people.

    Oh dear, National Public Radio I had such hopes.  I still do, although I realize the media giants and the conglomerates that give them life have substantial clout.  

    Nevertheless, I continue to believe as Dennis Kucinich espouses when he quotes Spanish Philosopher and Writer, Miguel de Unamuno  . . .

    “Only he who attempts the absurd is capable of achieving the impossible.”

    Thankfully, Progressives such as I, and Presidential hopeful Dennis Kucinich will continue to create opportunities.  We will challenge conventions and accomplish what many think not viable.   National Public Radio  perchance, we might meet again at the Kucinich inauguration.  I look forward to your interview with President Dennis Kucinich.  I will tune in on January 20, 2009.  My hope is then, you will have the time to speak with the people’s President.

    References and Reasons for this Reaction . . .

    Not In My Name? I Am An American; I am Culpable

    copyright © 2007 Betsy L. Angert

    I hear the claims and the clamor.  “This is George Bush’s war!”  This Administration instituted a “war on science.”  Federal funding for research was reduced in recent years.  Laws meant to protect the environment were repealed.  I would love to say that much of what occurs in America today is not done in my name. It is not my fault or folly.  However, I cannot make this assertion.  I am an American; I am culpable.

    Granted, I do not support the wars in Iraq or Afghanistan.  The possibility of a mêlée in Iran, Korea, Lebanon, Israel, here, or aboard I think abhorrent.  For me, armed combat is not an option.  It never was or will be in my mind.  Congress does not represent me when they continue to fund brutal battles.  Nevertheless, I believe this war is mine.  I cannot blame it on George W. Bush, the House, or the Senate.  I am an American.  My country is directly responsible for the havoc we see in Iraq and Afghanistan.  By extension, I believe we, as a nation, are answerable for the attacks we initiated and the aftermath.

    My own certainty that I could do nothing more than I do allows those in office to act in my name.  The sense of futility I feel gives credence to the concept that I cannot control the Commander-In-Chief, his counsel, or the Congress. Yet I am liable for my lack of initiative, for the lax I let be me.

    I do not understand why this nation went into debt to fund a futile war.  Had the battle been a breeze and America retreated triumphant, I would feel no different.  Financial obligations, purchases made on credit are not as I crave.  Conservatives may declare fiscal responsibility; however, it seems, if profits can be made from combat, then in debt we go.  I believe this construct is foolish.

    I have no ability to comprehend the love of victory.  For me, wars are never won.

    Perchance, that is why I struggle with the Presidential campaign.  Political lines are drawn.  Party’s part ways.  People cannot see the similarities within their stances.  The differences, the depth of their division drives competitive combative persons on.  The supposed need to succeed separates us.  From the President to the people, the phrase “You are either with me or against me” dominates. 

    Democrats smell a Republican defeat and are happy to embrace any of three candidates that will not commit to exit Iraq.  Fifty three percent of Progressives prefer the candidate that proudly proclaims, we need more troops in Afghanistan.  It is craziness to me.  I would love to say, this election is not being held in my name.  Yet, I am a citizen of the United States.  What happens in my homeland is, in part, my doing. 

    As an American, I am culpable for all that occurs in my country and for all that my nation does. 

    I do not grasp the logic that led members of the House and Senate to compromise on the State Children’s Health Insurance Program.  Why would anyone advocate to increase funds for Abstinence Only Sex Education classes, that have proven to be ineffective,  is beyond me.  I heard the excuses.  Democrats declare Republicans will support the measure if .

    The obsession to cut taxes makes no sense to me.  We watch the infrastructure crumble around us and still we say, “No new taxes.”

    As I observe millions of people enter Wal-Mart, I wonder.  Why might they complain of imports and then purchase these wares with glee.

    I read the statistics.  Forty-nine percent of immigrants are hired to do work in American homes.  Businesses only bear a portion of the “burden” or benefit from a “cheap” labor force.  Yet, wherever I travel Americans speak of the need to close borders. 

    Bigotry is in bloom in this nation.  I would like to say xenophobia is not wrought in my name.  Yet, I am an American.  This is my country; I am culpable.

    I recognize that I feel as though I do not have the power to change what is; however, I know to my core that change begins with me.  As long as I blame, the President, the Bush Dynasty, the Clinton Clan, Congress, Vice President Cheney, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi or you, I cannot, and will not do, as I must.  Only when I accept that I am an American; I am culpable will I commit to change what causes my fellow man and me great harm.

    I invite you do dream, to embrace the unattainable, and the ridiculous.  Walk the streets in support of peace.  Write letters to the editors, your Congressmen, and women.  If a General Strike appeals to you, engage.  November 6, 2007 offers an opportunity for protest.  Whatever action you choose please be the serenity you wish to see.  March in harmony.  When someone shrilly speaks to you, do not respond in kind.  If you believe in peace, let that path be your eternal guide.

    With thanks to Congressman Dennis Kucinich, Don Quixote, and Miguel de Unamuno  . . .

    “Only he who attempts the absurd is capable of achieving the impossible.”
      ~ Miguel de Unamuno [Spanish Philosopher and Writer]

    Not In My Name . . .

  • Not In Our Names.
  • Clinton Blasts Bush’s ‘War on Science,’ By Cornelia Dean and Patrick Healy.  The New York Times. October 4, 2007
  • Front-runner Clinton still needs to watch her words, By Steve Huntley.  The Chicago Sun Times.  June 15, 2007
  • Plans For Iraq Attack Began On 9/11. Exclusive: Rumsfeld Sought Plan For Iraq Strike Hours After 9/11 Attack.  CBS News. September 4, 2002
  • Afghanistan wakes after night of intense bombings. Cable News Network. October 7, 2001
  • US ‘Iran attack plans’ revealed. British Broadcasting Company. February 20, 2007
    October 7, 2001

  • If Necessary, Strike and Destroy, North Korea Cannot Be Allowed to Test This Missile.  By Ashton B. Carter and William J. Perry.  Washington Post. Thursday, June 22, 2006; Page A29
  • pdf If Necessary, Strike and Destroy, North Korea Cannot Be Allowed to Test This Missile.  By Ashton B. Carter and William J. Perry.  Washington Post. Thursday, June 22, 2006; Page A29
  • Watching Lebanon, Washington’s interests in Israel’s war. By Seymour M. Hersh.  The New Yorker. August 21, 2006
  • Israel’s Next War?  Frontline. April 5, 2005
  • Post coverage of the worst terrorist attack on American soil. Washington Post.
  • House Passes Children’s Health Insurance Bill That Would Extend Abstinence Education Program for Two Years..  Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. August 02, 2007
  • On the Corner: Day Labor in the United States.  By Abel Valenzuela Jr., Nik Theodore, Edwin Meléndez, Ana Luz Gonzalez.  The Ford Foundation, The Rockefeller Foundation, The Community Foundation for the National Capital Region’s Washington Area Partnership for Immigrants and UCLA’s Center for the Study of Urban Poverty January 2006
  • Noose Sent to Black Principal at Brooklyn School, By Jennifer Medina.  The New York Times. October 22, 2007
  • pdf Noose Sent to Black Principal at Brooklyn School, By Jennifer Medina.  The New York Times. October 22, 2007
  • Clinton Widens Lead In Poll. Senator Also Tops Obama in Latest Fundraising Data. By Jon Cohen and Anne E. Kornblut. Washington Post.?Wednesday, October 3, 2007; Page A01
  • pdf Clinton Widens Lead In Poll. Senator Also Tops Obama in Latest Fundraising Data. By Jon Cohen and Anne E. Kornblut. Washington Post.  Wednesday, October 3, 2007; Page A01
  • Bayh, Clinton Call for More Troops in Afghanistan. Hillary Rodham Clinton.  January 17, 2007
  • Wal-Mart CEO defends low-cost imports. Cable News Network. October 12, 2007
  • Wal-Mart’s Imports Lead to U.S. Jobs Exports. American Federation of Labor – Congress of Industrial Organizations.
  • Specific Suggestion: General Strike. Give Peace A Chance. By Betsy L. Angert.  BeThink September 29, 2007
  • It is The Economy . . .

    The Overspent American: Why We Want What We Don’t Need

    copyright © 2007 Betsy L. Angert

    It was a lovely June morning.  I was watching Cable News Network when Wall Street Correspondent Susan Lisovicz appeared and reiterated her summary of two economic indicators. One report was astounding and not good.  The other optimistic, or not, depending on your point of view or how deeply you probed.  The two were connected in my mind.  Foreclosures were up, way up.  Consumer spending was as well, slightly in contrast to an earlier slump.  Three [3] billion dollars worth of wares are nonchalantly walking out the doors of the nation’s largest retailer, Wal-Mart.  However, this was not mentioned in the morning broadcast.  What does it all mean?

    People were purchasing products.  A few bought for their homes.  However men and women, for the most part focused on necessities.  Of course, there are the “super-rich,” the extremely affluent.  These wealthy wonders are unscathed.  They continue to consume with abandon. 

    However, for hundreds of thousands, the masses, there is no comfy habitat to fill with goodies.  Home improvements are a construct of the past, their past. Many Americans could not and cannot make necessary repairs to what once was their pleasurable palace, their meager plot of land.  The bank rescinded the homeowner’s claims to “their” property. Under current economic conditions, life for many American is a crisis.

    Citizens of the United States, the world’s superpower feel powerless.  Consumer debt is high. Financial stability is faltering.  Personal liability is languishing.  Credit cards charges exceed rational limits.  Our countrymen cannot function as they once did.  Flittering funds about is not practical; today it is not possible for most.  The sub-prime debacle burst the American bubble.  The bricks and mortar began crumbling when first-time homeowners were given opportunities they could not afford.  The home market alone is not affected.  Every aspect of our lives is intertwined with each other.  Our income influences our purchases.  The cost of living is tied to take home pay, benefits, the expense of doing business, the price of goods, gas, and the buying power of the public.  Nothing stands in isolation.

    Today we all reap the rewards of our earlier reckless disregard for the dynamics that govern each event we experience.  In the words of Alan Greenspan, a man that does not often speak for me, this is the result “irrational exuberance.”  Today, this is the news in brief.

    Foreclosures jump 90% over last year.
    Figure pushed up by slowing real estate market, subprime meltdown.
    June 12 2007: 5:29 PM EDT

    NEW YORK (Reuters) — Home foreclosures in May jumped 90 percent from a year earlier, reflecting a poor spring housing market and foreshadowing even higher levels later in 2007, real estate data firm RealtyTrac said Tuesday.

    The May foreclosures – a sum of default notices, auction sale notices and bank repossessions – totaled 176,137, up 19 percent from April, the firm said in its May 2007 U.S. Foreclosure Market Report.

    “After a barely perceptible dip in April, foreclosure activity roared back with a vengeance in May,” James Saccacio, chief executive officer of RealtyTrac, said in a statement.

    “Such strong activity in the midst of the typical spring buying season could foreshadow even higher foreclosure levels later in the year,” said Saccacio. “Certainly not every community nationwide is seeing an increase in foreclosures, but foreclosed properties are becoming more commonplace and adding to the downward pressure on home prices in many areas.”

    RealtyTrac said there was a national foreclosure rate of one foreclosure filing for every 656 U.S. households during May.

    The second report Lisovicz discussed seemed to affirm the Administrations assertion, the economy is strong. Spending increased in May 2007, well more or less.  If anyone were to read the numbers carefully, they would clearly understand being better than bad is not the best.

    Consumer spending rises slightly in May
    By Anne D’Innocenzio
    Associated Press
    Thursday, June 7, 2007

    NEW YORK: Americans shopped hesitantly in May, giving retailers some relief from a dismal showing in April but still raising questions about how strong consumer spending will be in the months ahead.

    As the nation?s merchants reported results Thursday, the disappointments included Wal-Mart Stores Inc., Macy?s Inc. and teen retailer Abercrombie & Fitch Co. Costco Wholesale Corp., Kohl?s Corp. and luxury retailers like Saks Inc. beat expectations.

    It was clearly a bounceback from April. … It wasn?t a blowout, but the gains were a solid snap back,? said Ken Perkins, president of RetailMetrics LLC, a research company in Swampscott, Mass. Still, Perkins and other analysts said the performance reflected a slowing consumer spending trend.

    The ICSC-UBS sales tally of 51 stores rose 2.5 percent in May, down from 4.5 percent a year earlier but a sharp improvement from April’s 1.9 percent drop. The tally is based on same-store sales, which reflect business at stores open at least a year and are considered a key indicator of a retailer?s health.

    Its a slowing trend that we have been seeing since February, said Michael P. Niemira, chief economist at the ICSC. From February through May, the index averaged a 2.2 percent same-store sales gain, compared to the 4.1 percent average in the same year-ago period.

    Well, this data is not the worst.  It is what it is.  America is under siege.  We have built a barrier around ourselves.  In our desire to quench an insatiable thirst for things, we have created a system that allows for a pretense of purchasing power.  We collect goods and serve few.  Citizens of this country or civilians overseas suffer. 

    In our desire to have, to hold, and to consume gross quantities of clothing, furniture, computers, compact discs, on, and on, we have made life extremely expensive.  Granted the goods are cheaper, then cheaper still; and while the quality is questionable, that is another discussion.  What matters now is the means for achieving the ends are perhaps, not practical or ethical. 

    Companies, catering to, or pandering to our cravings cut services.  Corporate moguls lay off workers, reduce benefits, and out-source manufacturing.  Here and abroad, laborers are not appreciated or treated tenderly.  Human toil, sweat, blood, and tears are not honored.  These characteristics are not valued.

    Profits and earnings take precedence. Guaranteed employment with dignity is an antiquated concept.  Production with man in mind in non-existent.  Money is the great motivator.  Dollars are more significant than human life and sustenance.  Sadly, we have few funds to provide nourishment or to purchase the materials that we need.

    As I reflected further, I concluded, what is occurring daily, people are out of their homes and buying more makes sense.  There was a discernable relationship between the two reports.  It seems, now that people are no longer strapped with mortgage payments that are beyond their ability to pay, they can afford to go shopping.  However, the average Joe or Jane can only shop in stores that advertise lower prices.

    Wal-Mart, arguably, the most serious corporate offender, exploiting an expectant public, is the preferred proprietor for many.  In fact, this company was also in today’s news. I discovered that indeed merchants are seeing more customers in their stores. Stock is “flying off the selves.” Commodities are placed into shopping carts. However, people are not buying; stealing sounds good when you are down and out.

    Wal-Mart facing theft costs at $3 billion or more
    By Anne D’Innocenzio,
    Associated Press Writer
    Article Last Updated: 06/13/2007 05:06:11 PM PDT

    NEW YORK (AP) _ Shoppers at Wal-Mart stores across America are loading carts with merchandise _ maybe a flat-screen TV, a few DVDs and a six-pack of beer _ and strolling out without paying. Employees also are helping themselves to goods they haven’t paid for.

    The world’s largest retailer is saying little about these kinds of thefts, but its recent public disclosures that it is experiencing an increase in so-called shrinkage at its U.S. stores suggests that inventory losses due to shoplifting, employee theft, paperwork errors and supplier fraud could be worsening.

    The hit is likely to rise to more than $3 billion this year for Wal-Mart Stores Inc., which generated sales of $348.6 billion last year, according to retail consultant Burt Flickinger III.

    Flickinger and other analysts say the increase in theft may be tied to Wal-Mart’s highly publicized decision last year to no longer prosecute minor cases of shoplifting in order to focus on organized shoplifting rings. Former employees also say staffing levels, including security personnel, have been reduced, making it easier for theft to occur. And a union-backed group critical of the retailer’s personnel policies contends general worker discontent is playing a role.

    Wal-Mart declined to offer any explanations for the rise in losses, but denied it has cut security staff and said employee morale is rising rather than falling.

    Yes, life is good in America.  Wal-Mart employees are content. There are plenty of sales associates on the floor.  Customers are comfortable.  They find all that they need in this big box store, and can leave without paying for the goods. 

    This makes sense.

    By and large, our dynamic and innovative economy has helped Americans live better and more comfortable lives.

    In a time when our President proudly proclaims fiscal strength, foreclosures, shopping, and stealing are rampant.  Undeniably, we have a vibrant and inventive system.  Fiscally, our decisions are sound.  We understand how to spend and steal.  I guess life is good when you cannot afford the roof over your head, when shopping is saved for those rare occasions when you can safely pilfer the merchandise.  Yes, it was a beautiful day in June.

    Economic News Reports and References . . .

  • President Bush Delivers State of the Economy  Report. Federal Hall. Office of the Press Secretary. January 31, 2007
  • Wal-Mart facing theft costs at $3 billion or more, By Anne D’Innocenzio.  Associated Press.  June 13, 2007
  • Foreclosures jump 90% over last year. Cable News Network. June 12, 2007
  • Spending our way to disaster, The consumer debt bubble in the United States could make the stock bubble seem like nothing. By Justin Lahart. Cable News Network. Money. October 3, 2003: 10:32 AM EDT
  • How much money should you borrow? By Andrew Montlake.  British Broadcasting Corporation. Friday, April 27, 2007
  • The Challenge of Central Banking in a Democratic Society, Federal Reserve Board. December 5, 1996
  • Broken promises  NAFTA cost U.S. jobs and reduced wages, By Robert E. Scott.  Economic Policy Institute.  October 4, 2006
  • Wake Up Wal-Mart: Always Low-Down Lies?
  • Three new policy papers explore and offer solutions to working Americans? diminished prospects, By Nancy Coleman, Karen Conner, and Stephaan Harris. Economic Policy Institute.  February 22, 2007
  • “The Center for Union Facts” Fuels Fiction

    copyright ©  2006 Betsy L. Angert

    Days ago, it called to me from the next room.  What had been white noise was now blaring.  I could not believe my ears.  However, I just sat there.  I did not jump from my chair and go to the next room so that I might see and hear the disturbance.  I was in a state of shock.  I rarely watch the television; I listen to it.  I do not have the tube in the room where I work.  Nevertheless, this anti-union commercial caught my attention.

    The set was turned to Cable News Network.  This seemed contrary to what I would expect; nevertheless, I heard it.  At the time, I dismissed this intrusion as an event, one in isolation.  Then this morning, while preparing breakfast, and in a room with a view of the small screen it played again.

    My thoughts were many.  Why was this maligning message being presented?  Who was responsible for this slander?  Moreover, how much did this production cost?  Forget the money spent to fabricate this ditty; airtime is extremely expensive!  Apparently, union busting is no longer a tasteless practice; it is a respected art.  This frightens me.  Philosophically and politically, I honor, the words proclaimed in Aesop’s Fables, The Bundle of Sticks, “Union gives strength.”

    I suspected and yet, needed to know with certainty, are CNN employees’ union members?  I telephoned the corporate offices and I was told, “No, they are not.”  I was not surprised.  Were this network unionized workers would protest the propaganda.  Administrators would not air such a scathing commercial, for fear of what they might create.  Those that secretly support a union will not speak.  They might lose their jobs.

    I researched further.  I know that a very good friend of mine, a Progressive, is anti-union.  For Jill, the amount of each paycheck matters.  She notices the immediate loss of nominal fees and does not think the benefits she receives from a union membership are worth much.  Jill has no inkling of how unions have affected her daily life for the better.  Nor does she consider how they have influenced her future.  She knows that in this job, she is not a member and that makes her happy.

    My friend does not realize that unions have helped those in all avenues of life.  Thanks to unions, laws were passed and people were and are treated more humanely.  Jill does not recall a time when people would labor at their jobs for 10 to 12 hours a day.  She does not recollect the introduction of benefits.  In Jill’s lifetime, staying in bed when ill, was always been an option.  Time could be made to attend to personal affairs.

    In Jill’s lifetime, employers did not exploit children as they once did.  Times were never very hard, though in recent years they are becoming harder again.  Jill, as many, is comfortable with what is and cannot imagine what was or will be if there are no unions.

    Granted, a union can become as bureaucratic as a big business.  Members must assert their needs and wants.  They must participate if they want to ensure that decisions are to their liking.  That is doable and wiser than working in a world without unions.  Without unions, we would not have the power and pleasures we have now, or so I believe.  Yet, after this viewing I realize unions are being threatened as never before.  Forces more powerful than me are working to destroy the strength that union provides.

    According to the Center for Media & Democracy, this novel advertisement is the work of “The Center for Union Facts.” 

    “[It] is a secretive front group for individuals and industries opposed to union activities.  It is part of lobbyist Rick Berman’s family of front groups including the Employment Policies Institute.

    The domain name was registered to Berman & Co. in May 2005.

    In May 2006, the Center for Union Facts launched its first TV ad campaign.  The 30-second spot, running on Fox News and local markets, has “actors posing as workers” saying “sarcastically what they ‘love’ about unions,” like paying dues, union leaders’ “fat-cat lifestyles,” and discrimination against minorities.  The ad campaign cost $3 million, which was raised “from companies, foundations and individuals that Mr. Berman won’t identify.” [1]

    Another TV ad will be filmed in June.  Labor and economics professor Harley Shaiken said the effort “to create an antiunion atmosphere” more generally, as opposed to business-funded ads against a particular union organizing drive or strike, “is a new wrinkle.”  An AFL-CIO spokesperson called the ad’s accusations “unfounded and outrageous.”

    Mr. Richard B. (Rick) Berman is a former labor lawyer and restaurant industry executive.  For years, Berman was a lobbyist for the food, alcoholic beverage, and tobacco industries.  At present, he heads several advocacy groups, including the Center for Consumer Freedom and the Employment Policies Institute.  Mr. Berman serves as the General Counsel for the American Beverage Institute.  Through his “fronts,” Mr. Berman has constructed many similar advocacy-ad campaigns.

    Rick Berman has been known to work against organizations critical of animal-rights.  He actively opposed the American With Disability Act.  Berman fought with Greenpeace.

    Mr. Berman promoted the use of a dangerous pesticide on apples.  The benevolent Berman wrote of how consumption caused no real harm.  At the time, Mr. Berman was working with or for Uniroyal, the maker of this chemical.  Later, the Environmental Protection Agency banned this insect repellent due to the high risk of cancer.

    In 1993, benefactor Berman made a $25,000 contribution to Kennesaw State College.  The esteemed Newt Gingrich teaches at this University.  The gift came with a stipulation.  In exchange for the donation, Gingrich was required to impart ideas supported by the Employment Policies Institute.  The class was titled “Renewing American Civilization.”  Surely, these contrived concepts would create a Renaissance in America.

    However, there were conflicts, questions were raised.  The issue was brought it to the attention of the House Ethics Committee.  After an investigation it was determined Berman’s “bequest” was solicited by GOPAC, “a new national organization dedicated exclusively to electing Republicans to state and local offices.”  The Ethic board discerned Berman recruited many large contributions for this organization.  Ethics, for Rick Berman are malleable.

    All these incidents aside for Berman the beat goes on.  Berman and Company subsidizes several “advocacy groups.”  These associations seemingly present “factual and objective” information while serving their own interests.  These coalitions are typically well funded; their backers have the means to effectively manipulate a message.  Millions are poured into their productions.

    The Wall Street Journal wrote of the anti-union ads in a recent article, Anti-Union Group Takes Message to the Airwaves.  In this essay they explain,

    To fund the antiunion campaign, including the newspaper ads and one radio spot, Union Facts raised $3 million from companies, foundations and individuals that Mr. Berman won’t identify.  The group says it paid $150,000 to run the commercial for roughly a week on Fox News and various local stations earlier this month and will run it again through the summer.  The group plans to start filming another TV ad by early June.

    Labor and Economics Professor at the University of California at Berkeley, Harley Shaiken, spoke to the subject as well.  He said “To create an antiunion atmosphere more generally, that is a new wrinkle.”  The Professor thinks the crusade is, in part, a response to the growing number of union sponsored television trailers.

    In recent years, unions have worked to gain public support for issues of concern.  When a particular union felt a candidate or a campaign might threaten wages or job security, they were there.

    In the past, an advocacy group might go after a particular union; since Berman, unions as a whole are the enemy.  Berman and his benefactors want you to know, Unions are not good, at least they are not good for Berman and his bunch.

    Given the power, employers will exploit their resources and employees.  Any entity that opposes them is their enemy.  These commercials illustrate that.  Other exemplars are numerous. Consider Wal-Mart, a non-union employer.  Only those in management receive a living wage.  Employees at this superstore cannot afford to shop, even at Wal-Mart.  If these archetypes are insufficient, observe your own experiences.  Do your employers care more for the people they employ or their profits?

    With wages low and premiums high, few Wal-Mart workers can afford adequate, if any health care.  Medicare is often the provider for this corporation’s employees.  Less than half of the laborers at Wal-Mart are able to participate in the employers health plan. 

    While the national average of workers covered by employer health insurance is 67 percent; only about 47 percent of Wal-Mart’s employees are covered by the company’s health care plan.

    Wal-Mart workers want you to know their stories; they share them publicly at Wake-Up  The laborers acknowledge that the prices seem too good to be true; they want us all to know why.

    If this archetype is insufficient, observe your own experiences.  Do your employers care more for the people they employ or their profits?

    With unions, wages will be reasonable.  The hours you are required to work will honor your health.  Ergonomics will be considered in your work place.  Safety will be more than a suggestion.  Benefits will be there when you need them.  What could be better?  A few more dollars in your paycheck might be nice; however, will that dough do the job when you are really in trouble.

    A United Force of Resources to Work For You . . .

  • Antiunion ad campaign in Detroit’s face today, By Kortney Stringer. Detroit Free Press. May 24, 2006
  • Antiunionism Electronic Encyclopedia of Chicago
  • Union declines hurt all workers By Lawrence Mishel and Ross Eisenbrey.  The Economic Policy Institute. December 12, 2005
  • How unions help all workers, by Lawrence Mishel and Matthew Walters. The Economic Policy Institute. August 2003
  • The Union Difference The Washington State Labor Council
  • Labor Law: An Overview The Legal Information Institute (LII). Cornell Law School
  • Union Friendly Business Directory
  • Federal Labor Laws The ‘Lectric Law Library
  • Union Membership (Annual) U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
  • The Labor Union Movement in America Social Studies Help Center
  • Center for Union Facts, Center for Media & Democracy
  • Employment Policies Institute
  • Anti-Union Group Takes Message to the Airwaves, By Kris Maher. Wall Street Journal May 19, 2006
  • PDF Anti-Union Group Takes Message to the Airwaves, By Kris Maher. Wall Street Journal May 19, 2006
  • Berman and Company
  • By Sam Graham-Felsen. The Nation February 15, 2006
  • GOPAC, “a new national organization dedicated exclusively to electing Republicans to state and local offices.
  • Center for Consumer Freedom
  • Renewing American Civilization Request for Funding, June 1, 1993, By Peter J. Boyer. The Long March of Newt Gingrich. Frontline. 2005
  • “Renewing American Civilization.”
  • Ithaca Wal-Mart Living Wage
  • A Wal-Mart wage doesn’t go very far – even at Wal-Mart, By Stan Cox of Land Institute, a Natural Systems Agriculture Research. Kansas Workbeat. Updated from June 2003
  • Wal-Mart Wages Don’t Support Wal-Mart Workers, By Stan Cox, AlterNet. June 10, 2003
  • Wake-Up
  • Wal-Martization of Health Care United Food and Commercial Workers International Union
  • Union power: 8 companies they want now, By Chris Isidore, CNN Money July 27, 2005
  • Wal-Mart workers need a union! Six Demands for Change. Coalition of Labor Union Women February 27, 2006
  • Global Union News
  • UPDATE: Center for Union Lies, By Jordan Barab, Firedoglake. Posted at AlterNet, June 5, 2006.

    Recent References to Unity and The Lack Thereof . . .

  • Teamsters Hope to Lure FedEx Drivers, By Steven Greenhouse. New York Times.  May 30, 2006
  • Slime, Sleaze and More Behind Anti-Worker, Anti-Union Campaign By Tula Connell. American Federation of Labor – Congress of Industrial Organizations

    My special thanks to Max B. Sawicky of MaxSpeak for his piece titled THERE ONCE WAS A UNION MAID

  • Update:  The state of the unions.  Please peruse Orangeclouds115, Labor & Unions: The Fox Ate The Hens
  • Americans Violate the Law and Call “Them” Illegal? ©

    Recently, an article appeared in my world.  The title, “Center seeks justice for Katrina’s migrant workers.”  This informative essay was published in a periodical I regularly receive, The Southern Poverty Law Center news.  This piece stimulated much thought.  Citizens of this country want to eliminate illegal immigration.  They are boisterous and belligerent when discussing this topic.  The blame-game is rampant; “it is anyone but me that is responsible for this problem.”  However, this paper reveals it is not.

    We talk of “illegal aliens”; however, I wonder.  Might we instead discuss “illegal Americans?”

    In October 2005, after the Katrina storm, thousands of immigrant workers were hired.  They were asked to help with the emergency clean up.  For the most part, they were immigrants. These people, new to this country, sweated while they worked.  They removed debris; they worked long hours, and they were told that they would be rewarded/paid.

    The job was a challenge, the conditions unclean and often unhealthy.  Nevertheless, these migrants who were willing to actually do these tasks worked hard.  They were helping to heal the New Orleans region. Two formidable American companies had hired them, Belfor USA Group Incorporated and LVI Environmental Services of New Orleans, Incorporated.  Yet, they did not pay these immigrants fully for all of the work they had done.

    Immigrant Justice Project (IJP) discovered this and on February 2, 2006, filed two class action lawsuits. However, J.J. Rosenbaum, Attorney, working with the Southern Poverty Law Canter’s Immigrant Justice Project cautioned, “Lawsuits alone won’t stop the widespread exploitation of workers that’s going on in New Orleans.” People must.

    It seemed people were. The Department of Labor, on December 1, 2005, declared in a press release “five Spanish-speaking investigators had been dispatched to the Gulf region.”  They were dispatched to interview the workers and establish that they were being treated fairly.  By law, this agency is required to “protect workers involved in the reconstruction process;” however, they did not.

    IJP lawyers interviewed many a migrant, and all repeated the same mantra; no one had spoken to them of their working conditions.  No surprise.  This saga is only one of many.

    While there are numerous groups flocking to the states in mass, America is focusing on Mexican migration.  The native born are most disturbed by those that arrive from just south of the border.  The attention is wanted and not.  It is desirable when one is known as a “hard worker.” Employers want an industrious soul.  However, if you are acknowledged only for your work and not as a person, even that compliment feels as a slight.  When laborers go without pay, after toiling all day, they realize that the flattering remark is not. When supposed kindness is ultimately cruel, it is not welcome.

    Nevertheless, this is the experience of many Mexicans.  They are all too familiar with what is, though they rarely discuss it.  The same is true for other settlers. Rumanians, Russians, Poles, Czechs, and Irish arriving here without papers, also have tales to tell. Sikhs, Phillipinos, Koreans, and Indians come to this country as well. America, while thought to be the land of opportunity, is all too often, the nation of abuse.  Exploitation is abundant. In virtually every region of this country, new immigrants, want to work.  However, they are mistreated; few escape harm.

    In this exposé, I will work to provide perspective.  I will offer only a few snippets of information; the exposure I present will be minimal.  I write to invite exploration.  My wish is to advance awareness.  I am asking readers to be conscientious.  I appeal to your sense of humanity.  Please look more closely, what happens in our neighborhoods, yours, mine, and ours?  I encourage individuals to speak with strangers, to discover what is, and to ponder.  Only then do I advocate you act.

    In February 2006 another spoke. Gary Younge, writing for the Guardian, offered, “Where someone’s pocket change can feed another’s family for a week.”  Mr. Younge states, “Migrant workers do the jobs that Americans will not do, but they are vulnerable to bigots and big business.”

    Writer Younge, so eloquently described what is not an elegant experience.  This author described in detail the daily ritual of many migrant workers.  Throughout the nation, early each morning, thousands of men and woman gather, and wait.  They hope to be chosen.  In New York, they stand in the cold.  In California, Louisiana, Florida, and other large metropolises, they congregate on city corners.

    Day laborers with numerous skills, and some still learning, wait for work.  This practice  poses a threat to these immigrants.  While their work is vital to the American economy, being out in the open leaves them vulnerable.  For those who have entered the country illegally, there are greater burdens.  The xenophobic have easy access to these individuals.  The opportunists do as well.  Since these new settlers feel that they have no rights, they often do not speak of the unspeakable.  Thus, the wrath of those that do not wish these migrants well is always just around the bend.

    Life in America is a challenge for these newcomers.  Through quotes, the journalist Gary Younge shares the their experience.

    “On a bad week you can get nothing,” explains Victor Singh, who left his village near Amritsar, in India, five years ago and has not had a full-time job since. “Winter time is always slow. In the summer you can sometimes work four days a week.”

    Standing outside her tarpaulin home in a makeshift town of tents in New Orleans’s City Park, Mercedes Sanchez cries as she recalls leaving her four daughters in Mexico. “You can have a lot of love for your children but it cannot fill their stomachs,” she says. “In Mexico, I made 200 pesos (£11) a week. I can make that in two hours here;” But only on those days when she can find work, which have been few recently.

    Simon, who was not paid for several weeks’ work, is now reconsidering his decision to leave his three children behind in Mexico. “You make more money but you pay more for rent and everything else,” he says. “Sometimes I think it’s not worth the sacrifice of leaving your family. It’s not what you think it’s going to be.”

    Gary Younge addresses more; he reflects upon the results of a recent report from the University of California.  According to this source, every morning, 117,600 laborers find employment while congregating on the street corners of America.  They huddle in mass and hope that a business owner or individual will drive by, see them, and connect.  They long to be hired.

    Homeowners employ forty-nine percent of these men and women. That is to say, nearly half of those that support the current system are not businesspersons; they are individuals.  Law-abiding American citizens are seeking cheap labor to do what they themselves consider menials tasks.  “Illegals” are employed to do domestic work or gardening.

    Day laborers regularly, and religiously search for full-time employment opportunities.  However, the “vast majority, 83 percent, relies on day-labor work as their sole source of income. Seventy percent search for work five or more days a week.”  They are a hardy bunch and can we truly deny this.  These émigres risked life and limb just to come to America.  Many that do find jobs find more than one.  Why?

    Daily workers are paid poorly. The median hourly wage is $10, and as we have learned, what is promised, is all to frequently, not given. These positions are not certain, stable, or secure.  Therefore, income is inconsistent.  In July and August 2004, the average monthly take-home pay was $700.

    When we consider the higher costs for rent and food in neighborhoods where day laborers can be accommodated, we know that this amount is paltrier than it may seem initially.

    Contractors hire just over 40% to do construction work or landscaping. Nationwide, almost two-thirds are Hispanic and approximately twenty-five percent are from Central America.

    The University of California, Los Angeles report goes on to address employer abuse.

    • Day laborers regularly suffer employer abuse. Almost half of all day laborers experienced at least one instance of wage theft in the two months prior to being surveyed. In addition, 44 percent were denied food/water or breaks while on the job.
    • Workplace injuries are common. One-in-five day laborers has suffered a work-related injury. More than half of those who were injured in the past year did not receive medical care. More than two-thirds of injured day laborers have lost time from work.

    • Merchants and police often unfairly target day laborers while they seek work. Almost one-fifth (19 percent) of all day laborers have been subjected to insults by merchants, and 15 percent have been refused services by local businesses. Day laborers also report being insulted (16 percent), arrested (9 percent) and cited (11 percent) by police while they search for employment.

    Those that come to the States frequently find themselves in lines, looking for work. Life is not as they expected.  Ã?migrés do not find the streets of America paved in gold, nor do they experience opportunity is plentiful.  Immigrants quickly discover they are at risk.

    The offenders are not only those the liberals love to slam, corporate employers.  They are all of US, the native-born and naturalized citizens.  Individuals living in the good old USA are frequently those that abuse.  The government is not squeaky clean; they are expected to serve and protect; yet, they too are willing to exploit this labor force.

    In the news and on blogs we are flooded with stories that blame businesses for illegal immigration; corporations do not copiously scrutinize employee records.  Most, place the onus on the migrants.  If only they did not come to this country, life would be good.  People forget that their own parents, grand, or great traveled from afar.  The one group that “we” never find fault with is, us, we, the people of the United States.  We engage in actions that have created an imperfect union.

    Yes, it is true bigger businesses are on the battering bandwagon.  They too, do as was done by government officials, large federally funded companies, and individual homeowners.  .  [Reminder almost fifty percent of those living in the States illegally are hired by homeowners!] Please review this New York Times article, Wal-Mart to Pay U.S. $11 Million In Lawsuit on Immigrant Workers, By Steven Greenhouse, March 19, 2005.

    Wal-mart was required to pay $11 million fine after a federal Grand Jury investigation found them guilty of hiring those witout papers.  Of course, they did nothing wrong.  Yes, it is true, this mega-monopoly was illegally employing more than 100 undocumented employees to clean more than 700 of its national stores.  However, corporate executives knew nothing of the practice.  The bigwigs blame sub-contractors, just as the average citizen and small business owners place the onus on conglomerates.  Actually, each of these considers the immigrants themselves culpable.

    Thus, I ask again, who is “illegal”, “aliens” or Americans.
    EDITORIAL: Illegal immigration a complex matter, Knight Ridder Tribune Business News. April 2, 2006
    The invisible illegal immigrants, By Xiao-huang Yin. Los Angeles Times. April 2, 2006.
    A Hard Life, One Day At A Time: Immigrant workers: Employers cheat and abuse them; jobs scarce, By Claudia Mel. Knight Ridder Tribune Business News.  January 30, 2006
    Shady job agencies exploit immigrants, By Teresa. The Atlanta Journal – Constitution.  November 3, 2005
    When a law isn’t a law; Los Angeles Times. October 22, 2005
    America’s muddled border war Series: The first in a series of editorials about immigration reform in the United States. Chicago Tribune.  August 5, 2001
    Mexican victims of crime get help Police ask cooperation: Criminals exploit immigrants who tend to carry cash and are afraid to talk to police, By Lyda Longa. The Atlanta Journal the Atlanta Constitution, May 6, 1999
    Woman in Thai Servant Case Jailed by Judge, By David Rosenzweig. Los Angeles Times. May 2, 1998
    Georgia migrant workers face harsh reality Voiceless victims: Illegal immigrants, unaware of their rights and afraid to complain even when not paid, are easy targets for the unscrupulous, the INS and advocates say, By Elizabeth Kuyrlo. The Atlanta Constitution.  July 22, 1997
    COLUMN ONE Domestics: Hiring the Illegal Hits Home The thriving market for low-cost child care and menial help shows how ignoring immigration law has entrenched itself in California life. By Stuart Silverstein, Los Angeles Times. October 28, 1994

    My Wailing Distress, Wal-Mart’s Success

    My good friend, Mitchell J. Freedman authored an interesting opinion piece on Wal-Mart and Costco.  He offered the perspectives of others, specifically, those that watch Wal-Mart.  Mitchell provided the views of the Wal-Mart Chief, H. Lee, Scott, Junior.  He linked to a Frontline documentary that is very well done.  It is one that I have viewed often.  In his editorial Mitchell presented the perspective of a former Wal-Mart manager.  He also furnished a path to the Labor Research Association. This organization offers an article titled, “The Costco Challenge: An Alternative to Wal-Martization?” by Moira Herbst [July 5, 2005].

    I found Mitchell’s blogging inspiring and insightful.  I wrote to Mitchell.  Here, in my own missive, I share my letter with you dear reader.

    I ask you to share yours.  Please write your thoughts, tell others of your buying experiences, and discuss your own awareness of Wal-Mart.  Then reflect upkn your shopping decisions, past, present, and future.

    Would you prefer to do as you do?  Would you prefer to support the [wicked] world of Wal-Mart or that of Costco [a company that cares for its employees and patrons]?  When you make your purchases, what do you believe you are saying, doing, promoting, or allowing?  Are these actions consistent with your personal philosophy?  Are you consuming without thought and do your purchases support causes and considerations that you think vital?

    Please, spend wisely.  The price you pay is more than mere dollars.  Take some time to review your purchases. Investigate the stores from which you buy.  For when you, Mitchell, or I shop, we are investing in America; we decide to support a democracy or a monopoly.

    I implore us all. Please, may we make an informed decision?

    I believe that when we buy, the product and price must not be our only considerations.  My hope is that you actively believe similar.  If not, please share your beliefs.  Tell me what is true for you; help me to understand why Wal-Mart continues to be the “success” [sic] it is.

    For me, Wal-Mart is not a “success”; it is a source of stress.  Therefore, I wrote . . .

    Dear Mitchell . . .

    Decades ago, as Sam Walton presented his business philosophy and received much praise, my Mom said, “This will be the end of the middle-class.”  My family and I watched; we did not have to wait long.  My Mom was absolutely correct!

    I do not know if my Mom ever dared venture forth to investigate the actuality of Wal-Mart; I know not whether she ever entered their doors, I have not and will not.

    I read, view, listen, and hear of how Wal-Mart destroyed the free-market that allowed it to survive. I am very aware of how they “use” the system to their advantage.  I witness the hypocrisy of Wal-Mart’s words and deeds.  I observe how the Wal-Mart philosophy conflicts with a Democratic constitution, and I am appalled.  I am amazed that we as a society allow an organization such as this to be our guiding light.  However, [some say] how can we not. Wal-Mart Super-stores have dimmed all others on the streets of America.

    Though the lights at Costco do not burn as bright, I too lean towards this corporate structure.  Costco cares for its employees and patrons.  While the bricks, mortars, cars, and signs at Costco may not flood the skies with an ominous glow, the corporate configuration of Costco is one that I find preferable.  Thus, I am, a proud patron of Costco, never of Wal-Mart.


    Please read other articles of note . . .
    Organic Consumers Association offers Wal-Mart and the end of the Middle-Class, Business Week, October 7, 2005. Wal-Mart’s Giant Sucking Sound By Leo Hindery Jr.
    The grocery dispute is about more than clerks’ health benefits–it’s about the survival of the middle class.  By Harold Myerson [First published in Los Angeles Times, December 7, 2003
    US: Remaking America in Wal-Mart’s Image, CorpWatch, The Black Commentator. February 19th, 2004