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choicelady On February - 28 - 2011
Minimum wages nationwide.

Image via Wikipedia

Back in the Reagan days Boston Globe columnist Ellen Goodman asked, “Why do the rich need incentives but the poor need desperation?”

Once upon a time, employee compensation was linked to the earnings of the company for which they toiled. Public employees were linked, yes, to a community standard. That was considered a way to lift everyone’s standard of living.

Then came offshoring. Corporations, trying to squeeze another nickel out of someone for greater profits, found that lowering wages was a great and good source of phony “profits” – and shipping jobs to countries that paid pennies was even better. How did they rationalize paying so little (while keeping prices on US good pretty much the same)? They said – well, a dollar a day is a good wage for those people since the standard of living is so low.

Now we bring it back home. We justify paying less and less, no matter what the company earns, because it’s the “community standard”. And we justify paying public employees less and less because, after all, they have no industries so community wage standards are much, much lower.

This apparently does not apply to top management. Nooooo – they need to be paid top incomes “to get the best talent”. They get high – exorbitant – salaries and their public equivalents do as well. “Best talent”. Have to pay kazillions.

We don’t apply this standard of course to prices. If house prices in your community have plummeted, that certainly does not mean that megamansions have to ask less, does it? They are still selling at top dollar because – gasp – that’s what the industry can ask. No community standard for that. And we sell things at whatever we can command even if someone, somewhere, is selling it for less because we don’t believe in community standards for capitalism – we can justify “service” or whatever to keep prices higher. Otherwise car prices would be much lower. Dealers and manufacturers agree – yes they collude – to keep prices high even in the face of lower demand.

What I want from those demanding that working people make sacrifices is to have a benchmark – what is the status and dollar value at which any one of us become so essential that we can demand huge wages and bonuses in the middle of a massive economic downturn? Where is the dividing line – I want the dollar amount – between desperation and incentive?

Who is it whom we value? And why is it the rest of us don’t matter? It’s a small question – but I just want to know. Why is a good teacher “inessential” but a raft of superintendents “essential”? Why is a line worker in a factor “inessential” but a CEO whose company falters and fails “essential”.

I just would like a dollar value of worth – mine and everyone else’s. I think it would clarify SO much for us if we just knew who was worthy and who was not.

Just asking.

Categories: The Economy

Written by choicelady

I am the public policy director for a large, very progressive faith organization. We believe in science, democracy, full equality for all people (NO exceptions), peace, and justice. We respect other people, but it doesn't mean we share their views. Nice to have a world of progressive thought. Rather like finally getting fresh air after a very smoggy day!

124 Responses so far.

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  1. coffeegod says:

    I saw a program on the History Channel that wasn’t about pawn shops or couples who rabidly breed. It was about the history of hillbillies. A good portion of the program dealt with the redneck uprising in the coalfields of northern and central Appalachia between 1912 and 1936. (Yeah, it’s lifted from Wikipedia but I researched past that)

    Those folks knew how to throw an uprising. I’m gonna work on channeling my inner redneck/hillbilly and see if I can’t open a can o’ whoop ass on some corporations.

    I believe a small, polite revolution might just be in order here.

  2. PocketWatch says:

    PBS is now airing a special on the Triangle Fire of 1911..

    Republicans must be having fits of ecstasy that we are going back to conditions like that.

    Unions… bah! Working conditions… phhhht!

    • choicelady says:

      Thanks -- I will probably not watch it since I did some research on it and it kills me every time I read or watch or think about the lives lost. I cannot take in the horror. Having taught labor history for years, this event figures large in the firmament of things that cost lives -- along with the Ludlow Strike in CO in 1914 (gave birth to the corporate PR movement to cover up the dirty deeds), the Memorial Day Massacre in the Little Steel Strike (I have stood on that ground and wept), and on and on and on.

      You cannot get it at the moment, but the Blackside Production of “The Great Depression” was one of the BEST documentaries on labor in the ’30s EVER. These are the same people who did “Eyes on the Prize” for PBS, but the Depression series is not for sale. It covers the two sides of the Memorial Day massacre outside the South Chicago Republic Steel Works with those who survived and the grandson of the CEO of Republic Steel. His words -- his horrible, disgusting words -- are critical to our understanding of how much you can convert human beings into non-entities that do not deserve to live. We, the people, simply deserve to be killed for simply walking across an empty field after a Memorial Day picnic to stand outside the company gates. For that -- we deserved to die.

      Look everyone -- I GET this. Old timers on the Planet know my history -- newbies -- this is the bottom line. I have had five -- FIVE -- friends and acquaintances murdered by RW extremists. I’m a middle aged, middle class white woman of no particularly extremist views or actions. FIVE PEOPLE I knew have been obliterated because they were scary opponents of special privilege and defenders of DEMOCRACY. Not commies, not anarchists, not extremists -- defenders of DEMOCRACY.

      So when you think about what is important, understand that we’ve become a world where democracy is itself so radical that people die -- FUCKING DIE -- to support the principle that founded this country.

      And I loved them. And they are gone. For that. For democracy and nothing more -- or less -- than that.

      • coveark says:

        Wow, that is horrible……I am sorry for your loss.

        • choicelady says:

          Thank you -- it is indeed horrifying. How we have come to this in a nation that values difference -- or pretends to -- is beyond my comprehension. What is so scary is the clear willingness of some people to KILL others to stop democracy and the free exercise of ideas and that belief in respecting differences. These were not radical or extremist people -- though I guess they were perceived to be such -- they were just, well, just pretty much ordinary people. But they died standing firmly for what we ALL believe. That it could happen to them as Americans just doing their very basic jobs and living their very basic lives is beyond comprehension.

  3. ADONAI says:

    THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH BEING RICH!

    If wealth and material possessions are what makes you happy, who am I to judge?(until you die. then you’re going to Hell)

    What pisses Mr. Carlin off and so many like myself is that many are not satisfied with that. They can’t just have more, others must have less.

    You don’t HAVE to sacrifice your humanity to have the life you want. Many successful companies treat their employees like human fucking beings and they still do just fine.

    But you don’t have a right to it. You don’t “deserve” to be rich. No one does. And I see stories of rich people who, through a series of bad investments, are now inching toward the poorhouse. And sometimes I feel bad for them. Because many of them didn’t hurt anyone to get their money but they took a gamble and it didn’t pay off. That is tough luck.

    But if you’re being led out of large building in handcuffs I got no sympathy for you. Look at where you “work”! You make more than any of us will ever see! And that wasn’t enough?! What were you going to do with it?! Make yachts out of cocaine?! Unfortunately, these kind of people fair much better than the assholes I mentioned before.(WHAT!?! They’re still assholes.)

    • Artist50 says:

      Adonai- I so agree. I have nothing against the rich and there are many fine people who do many good things with their money. The quest for money was never a goal of mine -- i should have “quested” a little more for my old age! There are also employers who pay fair wages and truly want the best for their emplyees.

      Unfortunately, they seem to be getting swallowed by large corporations that don’t know their workers names or families -- that makes it so much easier to depersonalize them -- then they’re just a number not a human.

      My god, in the case of the shirt factory fire they locked the doors afraid someone might get an extra break -- letting a hundred forty some people burn alive or jump to their deaths! Those owners were later fined again for the same infraction. A century later and nothing gained? I can’t really believe humans are like this until I’m confronted with the facts. I’m always sure if we talked to them they would be reasonable- because I admit for the most part my world has been reasonable.

      • ADONAI says:

        Artist, I think it has a ton to do with entrenched power and nepotism.

        The people at the very top NEVER want to leave that position even though the “nature of the market” dictates that everyone eventually will.

        So they change the nature of the market or circumvent it entirely. Create “empires” littered with yes men, random family, and “favored” friends. Subtle manipulation of over decades to constantly “game the system”. Bury any reason under a pile of “lawyer talk” and opaque corporate bureaucracy.

        But the people have to take some responsibility. It’s so easy to “buy Washington” when we keep electing their politicians over and over again. So easy to skirt the law when the people are clamoring for their goods and services without any question of how they get this shit.

    • choicelady says:

      Adonai -- wouldn’t yachts made out of cocaine dissolve? And is that not an apt metaphor?

    • cyrano1 says:

      And what we need is more CFO’s and CEO’s being led out of buildings in handcuffs. Wasn’t the reasoning on the bailouts that our plutocracy is so systemic, we’d tank if we took them all down overnight? I think the grace period should be declared OVER!!!

  4. ADONAI says:

    “But there’s a reason. There’s a reason. There’s a reason for this, there’s a reason education SUCKS, and it’s the same reason it will never … ever … EVER be fixed. It’s never going to get any better, don’t look for it, be happy with what you’ve got. BECAUSE THE OWNERS, OF THIS COUNTRY, DON’T WANT THAT! I’m talking about the real owners now…the BIG owners! The Wealthy…the REAL owners! The big wealthy business interests that control things and make all the important decisions. Forget the politicians. They are irrelevant. The politicians are put there to give you the idea that you have freedom of choice…you don’t. You have no choice! You have OWNERS!

    They OWN YOU. They own everything. They own all the important land. … They own and control the corporations. They’ve long since bought, and paid for the Senate, the Congress, the state houses, the city halls, they got the judges in their back pockets and they own all the big media companies, so they control just about all of the news and information you get to hear. They got you by the balls. They spend billions of dollars every year lobbying…lobbying, to get what they want. Well, we know what they want. They want more for themselves and less for everybody else, but I’ll tell you what they don’t want. They don’t want a population of citizens capable of critical thinking. They don’t want well informed, well educated people capable of critical thinking. They’re not interested in that.

    That doesn’t help them. That’s against their interests. That’s right. They don’t want people who are smart enough to sit around a kitchen table and think about how badly they’re getting FUCKED by a system that threw them overboard 30 FUCKING years ago. They don’t want that! You know what they want? They want obedient workers. Obedient workers, people who are just smart enough to run the machines and do the paperwork…And just dumb enough to passively accept all these increasingly shitty jobs with the lower pay, the longer hours, the reduced benefits, the end of overtime and vanishing pension that disappears the minute you go to collect it, and now they’re coming for your Social Security money. They want your retirement money. They want it back so they can give it to their criminal friends on Wall Street, and you know something? They’ll get it. They’ll get it all from you sooner or later cause they own this FUCKING place! Its a big club, and you ain’t in it! You, and I, are not in The big club. By the way, its the same big club they use to beat you over the head with all day long when they tell you what to believe. All day long beating you over the head with their media telling you what to believe, what to think and what to buy. The table has tilted folks. The game is rigged and nobody seems to notice. Nobody seems to care! Good honest hard-working people.

    White collar, blue collar it doesn’t matter what color shirt you have on. Good honest hard-working people continue, these are people of modest means continue to elect these rich COOK SUCKERS who don’t give a FUCK about you. They don’t give a FUCK about you … they don’t give a FUCK about you. They don’t care about you at all . . . at all . . . at all, and nobody seems to notice. Nobody seems to care. That’s what the owners count on. The fact that Americans will probably remain willfully ignorant of the big red, white and blue dick that’s being jammed up their assholes everyday, because the owners of this country know the truth. Its called the American Dream, cause you have to be asleep to believe it . . .”

    ~George Carlin

    (sorry. He already said it so much better than I ever could have)

    • choicelady says:

      Adonai -- I’ve said this for YEARS. They will NOT tolerate people in checked plaid shirts and blue jeans having more smarts than is “good for ’em” on civics (why do you think that was the FIRST to go?) or economics, or world history or anything that makes you think. They faced the “great unwashed” (in their opinion) during Vietnam and the Civil Rights movements when ordinary people SUCCESSFULLY challenged imperialism and corporate greed. Far better to have people educated in just arithmetic and reading and nothing else -- they can read and follow instructions but not challenge the REASON for those instructions.

      Being educated is now sneered at as elitism. Well, it’s the ticket out of subservience, but try telling that to most young people. They got caught up in “bright, shiny objects” rather than being smarter than the people dangling them. Mainstream America finds it so much easier to blame one another rather than focusing on the corporations manipulating them. Unlike Uncut UK that focused on corporations not paying taxes and linking it to the cuts each ordinary family faces in services and jobs, Americans blame public workers, unions, minorities -- anyone but the people who made the disaster. Remember the bozo on business CNBC who did the rant against homeowners needing mortgage relief? Where was his rant against the lying, cheating MORTGAGE brokers who made this happen???

      I write to my members that we can follow this by following the prescriptions in “All I Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten” -- basically the first lessons: Don’t hit. Share. Don’t take what isn’t yours. You make a mess, clean it up.

      UKUncut got it -- USUncut may do the same. You would not be IN this mess if the corporations just paid their taxes. Why are they taking billions in “bonuses” for doing a LOUSY job? That’s OUR money -- not theirs. You want to do business in my town or state? Pay your freaking TAXES so I don’t have to give up 15% or more of my salary and wages. I did not make this mess. YOU did. YOU clean it up. Basic kindergarten principles.

      Enough with the bullies. Back to fairness! That’s what’s in our Constitution. There is NOTHING in the Constitution about private property other than just compensation for eminent domain. The Constitution is all about HUMAN rights and nothing about either corporate or property rights. So let’s yes -- go BACK to first principles and make this system work for the people, ALL the people, once again.

      • BigDogMom says:

        C’Lady-I think Wisconsin has woken up the masses whether the powers that be like it or not…the more this stays in the news the more mainstream it will become.

        I’ve started writing letters to the editor bringing up this very subject of Corporate money, power and influence.

        My tipping point was the amendment to stop the $53 billion a year of royalty wavers that we give the big oil companies and how the Republicans voted it down….if they were really serious about the deficit they would have voted for it. We’re in this together right?

        If we all get the word out, maybe things will change….

    • KillgoreTrout says:

      Adonai, I just posted a video of him doing that bit. Truer words have rarely been spoken.

      • ADONAI says:

        KT,Indeed. One of the better rants from his “Angry Years”.

        The knowledge of a man who has lived a long life and seen a lot of fucked up shit.

        I first became aware of him in the mid 90’s when he was transitioning from crazy observational humor to more social commentary.

        I remember thinking he was the first person on TV to say what I was thinking. This shit is fucked up!

        • KillgoreTrout says:

          Adonai, I’ve been a big fan of Carlin’s work since the early 70s. He’s gone through many changes in all those years, like we all have.
          What I liked about him most was his courage to really tell it like it is. Plus, the man was just incredibly funny.
          He went through a pretty dark, pessimistic period for a while, after his wife died. They were very devoted to each other.
          What amazes me is that after all the drug use and his being in his late 60s, his mind was still razor sharp.

          • ADONAI says:

            KT, I love his material from the 80’s. Just taking all the silly things from everyday life and riffing on them in hilarious ways. “Stuff” is still one of my favorite all time bits of his.

            And I agree on both the loss of his wife and the drug use. Truly an amazing man who had experienced life to the fullest. The ups and the downs.

            We should all be so lucky to live. Not just exist.

            • Artist50 says:

              I loved his “stuff” routine!

            • KillgoreTrout says:

              Adonai, yeah, “Stuff,” is a great bit. He had a knack for talking about things that we have thought of from time to time, yet never really talk about.
              I really like his early stuff too. The Hippy Dippy Weatherman…etc. Funny stuff.

    • david p canada says:

      George Carlin really knew how to appeal to the unwashed masses and put tens of millions of dollars in his pocket at the same time. It was his shtick.

      He was an entertainer. Charlie Sheen is an entertainer. Lewis Black is an entertainer. The WWE provides entertainment and has a rabid following.

      George Carlin never gave a FUCK about me, either. He wanted my $40 to hear him bitch about the rich, and he was one of them.

      • Artist50 says:

        So what? That’s what you do with talent, I don’t begrudge him that -- he was a comic genius an should be recognized. We all have to make a living and George was destined to be successful or probably homeless -- he struck the big time yet I don’t think it changed his values -- he still wrote like a “little”guy.

      • choicelady says:

        I never paid a dime to him -- listened for free. You have an “off” button you know. And you don’t have to pay anything for anyone. Having lived for a brief time in Canada, I think I can safely say no one there makes you pony up money for a private venue. If you paid to listen to someone you don’t like, that’s pretty silly.

      • Gransview says:

        I liked him. A lot. And he deserved my $40.00

      • BigDogMom says:

        Mr. Penner, what Carlin says is true. I’m not sure about your Country, but in our Country there is an elite group of people that hold the all the power. They are made up of Corporate/Wall Street big wigs and Political Elites. They run this Country and have an agenda for us that dates back to the 50’s.

        If you look over the last 35 yrs., our tax code has been structured so that Corporations/Wall Street benefit financially and it also reduces competition from small to mid size companies. Putting the tax burden on the middle class and small to mid size businesses.

        All done with the blessing of our Congress who talked sweetly to us, lulling us into believing that they have our best interest in mind, all the while making tax laws that would benefit the wealthy.

        Eisenhower warned us of them, but we did nothing, we were trusting that our government would do right by us….they haven’t, we have been sold to the highest bidder.

        • KB723 says:

          BDM, I think and Agree that you are correct. Maybe this could be Why????


        • david p canada says:

          We have the ultra-rich in this country and the dirt-poor. However, there doesn’t seem to be the level of animosity between the classes that appears to exist in the US.

          Could be that government mandated redistribution of wealth (taxation) is not resisted to the degree that your wealthy do?

          Even the unions in Canada don’t have quite the gimme, gimme, gimme attitude of your unions. There is an acceptance that to make the system work all sides must work together. No “lines in the sand”, so to speak.

          Polarization will always hurt a country and the fault for that lies with both sides. No one can claim the moral high ground.

          • Abbyrose86 says:

            @David, and the very rich in Canada don’t treat the masses and their employees, like the rich in the US do, either.

            Are you familiar with Frank Stronach, and his biography?

            Look up the ideals espoused by Frank Stronach and the CHARTER of the the company he founded, as well as the ideals his company goes by to this day…and you show me a comparable US company of that size which does the same.

          • KillgoreTrout says:

            In America, there is a general distain for any sort of class system. As there should be.

          • choicelady says:

            Unions in America do NOT have a gimme attitude any more than in Canada. I worked for YEARS with them -- not as a member but as an non-unionized instructor, and I know that when the downturns came, unions ALL gave back -- UAW in Chrysler with Chrysler promising to lower prices and never did. USW in the steel crises -- and the companies took the sacrifices and shut the plants for the free money the government awarded them for closing -- nearly $1 billion to Bethlehem for destroying the PROFITABLE Lackawanna plant in NY. The unions secured policy benefits -- got a slowdown on implementing NY and federal air standards to give the company room and the time to upgrade -- and never got a second’s thanks from management. That company’s management was so incompetent it relied on its union people to see it through. Managers no longer came up the ranks and had NO clue how to run a steel company. So they just took their fat salaries and left town.

            Unions in America and in Canada are people -- the salt of the earth. They care about their companies, their communities, and their work. They don’t crap where they live. Management is temporary and doesn’t give a crap about where they live.

            You’re blaming the wrong people for the demise of the economy. It’s the managers who are sucking the lifeblood out of the country along with their hireling Congress members. Canada is run far more sensibly much of the time -- there is a much better sense of the common good, or responsibility of companies to their communities and workers and nation. That’s not theft -- that’s balance. Unfettered greed is inefficient and cannibalistic. You eat up your productive base and don’t share the earnings MADE by the working people, then your firm and the nation die. That’s what’s happening to America. It’s NOT happening to Canada -- unless YOU let it.

          • BigDogMom says:

            Mr. Penner, not all Unions fit the “Gimme, Gimme” profile, that is a Right Wing propaganda meme, similar to the “Welfare Queen” that was started by Reagan.

            We have a history of violent Union bashing in this Country by the Corporations to stop people from organizing because the bottom line is affected when people ask for a living wage.

            Lives have been lost because of it, therefore certain Unions who were effect more than others by this violence are more sensitive and aggressive because of it. But not all Unions are what you describe. I suggest you read about the history of our Unions and workers in this Country.

            The Corporate influence in our politics dates back centuries, he who has the most money can buy anything, especially our politicians….who in turn write favorable legislation for them.

            We are a divided Country, no two ways about it, it is “us” and “them” and they are the ones who created this divide…not us.

            All we want is a fair playing field, is that too much to ask?

        • KillgoreTrout says:

          BDM, here is a perfect example;


        • DawgBone says:

          Exactly right, BDM! Our republic is largely an illusion at this point. Our government is in fact a soft form of corporate fascism.

          Transnational corporations own our supreme court, our congressmen and our media.

          I personally don’t see much hope for the American Republic, and the Orwellian Nightmare is a genuine possibility.

          • choicelady says:

            Don’t forget the Christian Dominionists who own the transnationals. They want our souls and the transnationals want our money, and they have made alliance to keep us subordinated. Over the past 40years they crept in, stole our government and society, and they think they won something.

            The REAL definition of power is not getting what YOU want but making sure other people are dependent upon you for what they need. That is getting scarily close to reality.

      • KillgoreTrout says:

        That is quite a harsh thing to say, and your language reveals a certain bias. Really, “unwashed masses?” Really?
        And for your information, Carlin didn’t rake in tens of millions, then you fault him for bitching about the rich? Isn’t that what you just did in your claim that he pulls in tens of millions?
        Carlin worked hard at his craft and was one of the best in his business.
        Carlin was also about being true to his beliefs and being true in his observations.
        Your comment is very disappointing.

        • david p canada says:

          Perhaps my language could have been a tad more diplomatic, but I’ll stand by my comment.

          Just because someone fills my ears with what I want to hear and puts a clever spin on it doesn’t mean I ignore his warts.

          I lean to the Right, but I don’t hang on every word or joke that falls out of Dennis Miller.

          • jkkFL says:

            david-perhaps the problem is that you don’t understand the US as well as you think. I am willing to admit, I know little about the workings of Canada, therefore I will refrain from commenting on their internal struggles..

          • KillgoreTrout says:

            david, who said anything about hanging on every word. Carlin was not really political. He was pretty much unsatisfied with the government as a whole.
            He was a great observer of the world around him and he blended those observations with laser like comedy.
            Miller couldn’t hold a candle to the brilliance of Carlin.

      • ADONAI says:

        I do love Charlie Sheen and the WWE though.

      • ADONAI says:

        Barking up the wrong tree my friend.

        No one forced people to go to his shows. His books weren’t mandatory reading.

        He did not kill people for an extra profit. He did not hire slave labor to produce his comedy routines.

        I think someone is just bitter about George Carlin.

        *EDIT* and the “he’s just an entertainer” or”he’s just a comedian” thing doesn’t sit with me either.

        I could say the same of Oscar Wilde or Samuel Clemens. People still took what they said to heart. They were still correct.

        • david p canada says:

          I have every “album” George Carlin released. He was hilarious, usually spot on, and obviously a great talent.

          However, with that talent he could have succeeded no matter which political stripe he chose. If he would have swung to the Right, all that talent would have simply meant loathing from the Left.

          I can laugh at both Carlin and Miller.

          • Artist50 says:

            David- IMO Miller doesn’t hold a candle to the genius of Carlin. He has no originality whether it’s left or right. But you are missing the essence of Carlin -- he was not political -- he hadn’t voted since McGovern -- it’s like he saw then what we are seeing now. Everything he said is coming true! He detested both parties -- he wasn’t a liberal just because he had a ponytail!

          • ADONAI says:

            david, you assume that Carlin was political at all. He hated the Democratic Party as much as the Republican. He had no political affiliation and did not vote.

            He simply hated the wealthy who run us down everyday and the stupid people who wanna be “just like’em!”.

            If that automatically equates with Republican in your mind, then that’s on you. Not him.

            • ADONAI says:

              david, 2 choices is the reason why he didn’t vote.

              Move past the Party thing. He wouldn’t have voted PERIOD with a gun to is head.

              Believe me when I tell you that he saw no difference in Republicans or Democrats because, as he said, they are irrelevant. It doesn’t matter.

            • david p canada says:

              No, not automatically.

              However, given only two choices, I suspect Carlin would not have voted Republican with a gun to his head.

  5. AuntieChrist says:

    How interesting that the ONE state with a minimum wage below the federal level happens to be Kansas, home to Koch Industries:

    Based in Wichita, Kan., Koch Industries, Inc. is one of the largest private companies in America according to Forbes magazine. It owns a diverse group of companies involved in refining and chemicals; process and pollution control equipment and technologies; minerals; fertilizers; polymers and fibers; commodity trading and services; forest and consumer products; and ranching. Koch companies have a presence in nearly 60 countries and employ about 70,000 people. Since 2003, Koch companies have completed more than $32 billion in acquisitions and investments, and nearly $11 billion in capital expenditures.

    http://www.kochind.com/factsSheets/KansasFacts.aspx

    • PocketWatch says:

      Auntie -- Given the Koch Industries and affiliated companies’ interests in forest and consumer products (paper), it is no surprise that the asset sale approval at no bid is buried in Senate 11 in Wisconsin. That would give Walker the permission to sell off about 25% of the state (state forests) at firesale prices and say that it’s because Wisconsin needs the money.

      Nice!

      PS: It’s not ALL about breaking unions. There’s more there than people are talking about.

    • david p canada says:

      Yet they have many thousands of unionized employees who are paid far in excess of the minimum wage. Also, thousands of non-union employees who are paid well.

      It might be interesting to see if there is even one single Koch employee that makes only minimum wage.

      • jkkFL says:

        You might want to peruse this statement from KochInd.
        http://www.kochind.com/kochFacts/
        I am in a ‘right to work state’ -this statement is in Every employee handbook in FL:
        “•We think the best workplace relationships are directly between the worker and employer. It is a mischaracterization of our principles to say this means we want to dismantle all unions.”
        That is usually followed by this statement:
        “Any employee who engages in, or is in posession of union materials, or activity, will be terminated without notice.”

        • choicelady says:

          LOL!!! Thank you for that -- it certainly clarifies! “We don’t want to destroy unions. We merely want to destroy YOU for wanting to be IN one.”

          • jkkFL says:

            Absolutely!! and they will, if you try…followed by the news traveling down the GoodOldBoy grapevine to preclude you from being hired anywhere else..

      • Chernynkaya says:

        David, you know us-- we need to see some verification of that. You see, we (I’d guess most of us anyway) mostly read the blogs that are Left-leaning, so what Auntie Christ wrote resonates with us. we have read similar assertions. But what you write sounds untrue--or unconfirmed. So if you can, links would be appreciated. If they are from a reliable source (you know what I mean--not Fox) I will stand corrected. Honest!

        • david p canada says:

          Alas, sometimes I make a comment based on common sense without consulting with the omnipotent Google-God.

          I will admit that every statement in my above comment could be completely false. However, Koch Industries employs 80,000 people. Many of their companies are enterprises involved in traditional union-type labor, hence my assumption.

          Talented and qualified employees are critical to the Koch Bros success. You’re not going to find many of those people in the minimum-wage pool (no disrespect, just reality).

          I don’t believe there are too many burger-flippers on the payroll over there.

          • Chernynkaya says:

            Sorry, David. That is only what you believe--just your opinion. You are welcome to it, but then you cannot then be taken seriously. It is not only NOT “common sense” to think that the Kochs

            have many thousands of unionized employees who are paid far in excess of the minimum wage. Also, thousands of non-union employees who are paid well.

            it is specious.

            It is factual that they are huge employers. Ditto that they have well-paid people working for them. That’s is not at all the issue at hand.

            They are union busters--it’s a fact. Are you promoting that? And if so, is it because you want Koch --and ALL--employees to make less than union wages? (Because it has already been proven that union employees make less than private sector wages.)Why do you want workers to make LESS? So the Koch can make more?

            Are you under the impression that we should work for Third World wages in order to keep industries here? If you are, then I ask, “WHY do we need those employers in the first place? So we can become China? No thanks. If they want us to become China, I’d say that is pretty anti-American. Industry is supposed to make America great--not tear it down.

    • choicelady says:

      I am not sure it’s legal, is it, to defy the federal minimum wage? How CAN it be? What would be the point then? And did this happen on Bush’s watch -- he violated laws with impunity, so why NOT allow the Kochs (and Boeing and everyone else who voted with and for him) to undermine federal standards. I’d think the people of Kansas would riot over this -- is that how cowed we’ve become we can’t even stand up for our American rights?

      Wow. Complicit in your own “undeserving-ness”.

    • JackRusselTerrier says:

      Great info. Thanks!

  6. JackRusselTerrier says:

    Wake up America! The Robber Barons are stealing your hard earned money!
    http://motherjones.com/politics/2011/02/income-inequality-in-america-chart-graph

  7. Chernynkaya says:

    Well, Mark Karlin says it for me:

    How comfortable Marie Antoinette would feel with Scott Walker and the Koch Brothers.

    Let them [the masses] eat cake, indeed.

    As BuzzFlash has noted before, a key technique of the plutocracy is to consolidate wealth in the hands of a few, while dividing and conquering those who work for ever-decreasing hourly wages. A recent Truthout reader email recounted a conversation of two workers at a food store in Wisconsin who were “disparaging greedy public workers.”

    Remember that the corporate and individual wealth today is actually increasing because of a combination of cheaper labor in other nations, resulting in cheaper labor in America, and the increased percentage of business profits that come from sales overseas.

    Meanwhile, the former middle class -- the hardcore poor don’t even get but a scintilla of media recognition anymore -- is left to fight over scraps, or week-old pieces of cake.

    Walker and his radical, plutocratic, modern-day economic royalists want to return to the days when the lower class fought each other over a few crumbs.

    That is what was revealed in that conversation in what was probably a nonunion supermarket. The logic is clear: Walker represents the ideology that everyone but the richest Americans should be resigned to more work for lower pay.

    This divide-and-conquer strategy is reinforced by the right-wing media echo chamber.

    What we end up with are organizations of the rich pushing people who labor for a living into a race for the bottom.

    Mark Karlin
    Editor, BuzzFlash at Truthout

  8. Chernynkaya says:

    There is a vast gap between what we as a society SAY we value and what we show through our actions that we actually value.

    We do not value families.
    We fight against Family Leave legislation. We have one of the highest divorce rates. We put tremendous pressure on families through our economic policies that contain minimal safety nets. We have few consumer protections. All these things impact families. We encourage the dissolution of families through our welfare system. (See Children and Education.)

    We do not value children.
    Who will bear the brunt of spending cuts? America’s children. S-Chip is funded, but not without fierce resistance. WIC funding is cut. We allow anti-abortion laws to be strengthened while we refuse adequate birth control and then minimal child protection in the form of financial assistance or health care. There is no money to oversee foster care facilities and child protective services.

    We do not value our elders.
    Social Security and Medicare cuts are always threatened. Try finding a job after age 50. We spend vast sums on cosmetic surgery—and while most is vanity, there are also economic reasons we have to appear young. We cut spending on Home Health Care providers.

    We do not value education unless it directly teaches money-making technology.
    Teachers are one of the first cuts we make when the budgets are overdrawn. We denigrate “egg heads” and call them elites. We don’t fund community colleges or higher ed. grants for the working class or the poor. When we are not decimating the teachers, we cut the arts

    We do not value women.
    Planned Parenthood is threatened. This includes a variety of health services for women. We still don’t have an equal rights amendment. The Ledbetter Fair Pay Act was signed only in 2009. Small percentage of our legislators are women.

    We do not value service to the community.
    Lowest paid workers. And considered “not real jobs” by half this country. Obama was ridiculed for being a community organizer. We believe these should be volunteer jobs—discounting their value. ACORN was de-funded.

    We do not value saving.
    We encourage predatory lending practices—or at least don’t curb them. We promote consumerism and credit cards. We barely regulate banks and mortgage lenders so they can misrepresent their products. Our economy is based on debt and consumer spending.

    We do not value hard work.
    In a world that valued hard work, day laborers, trash collectors and farm hands would be the highest paid. See Wall St.

    We do not value justice.
    Those who ruined our economy—and therefore worked to ruin our country, get bonuses instead of jail time. Same for the Bushies who lied our way into wars and who tortured. More African American males in prison as a percentage of their demographic.

    We do not value health.
    We all know this—tens of millions with no access to health care. Fast food nation. Corn syrup. (Also, see below.)

    We do not value the Earth.
    We deny climate change and will do nothing to ameliorate the effects of carbon emissions on our atmosphere. We have to fight to keep our air, water and oceans moderately clean. We clear-cut forests. We frak gas. We insist on our dominion over nature.

    We do not value the United States of America.
    We are getting our clock cleaned by Chinese state capitalism. “We,” in this case, is the American economy. We don’t mind if domestic industry gets hollowed out. We don’t want to pay for infrastructure or for governing.

    What we DO value--based on our actions-- are greed, hegemony, power, and money. Period.

    • Abbyrose86 says:

      Exactly!

      Our nation is so hypocritical. WE pay lip services to these concepts…but that’s it, actions speak louder than words!

    • Artist50 says:

      Fantastic list!

      To me this list is connected to your post today “Crisis of Reality” -- how can we expect to further our spiritual life personally without caring about each of these items and how they effect every citizen, and yet the GOP professes their faith constantly and has no intention to help their fellow Americans.

      I try not to judge others, but it’s difficult not look at the GOP and question their core values. For me individually, I have to feel like the party I support (my government) shares the values that I do. I can’t separate my self, my work, my family, and how I vote.

    • Gransview says:

      I still think the majority of people hold these values. it’s the corruption in our government that has it’s taint on every aspect of our lives.

      • Abbyrose86 says:

        @Gransview….I would like to think what you say is true…but I’m not so sure.

        Think about the way people vote or don’t vote…or how they shop. Actions speak so much louder than words. While many may CLAIM to value such ideas, they often actually DO things that contradict the values they claim to hold.

        I’m not just talking about politicians or corporate execs…I’m talking about average people as well.

      • choicelady says:

        It depends entirely on who’s in office. And it depends entirely on who is in the court system. I do NOT think the Dems are “just as bad” as the GOP -- that might have been true in what now seems like the “good old days” but there are very different values between the parties.

        What the parties do is entirely dependent on who is talking to them. WE, the people, CAN make a huge difference. The question is -- why’d we wait so damned long to speak out? The assault on working people finally brought us to the hustings, and I hope we will stay there. But progressives and liberals have gotten lazy over the years -- we have to speak up. Look -- the Tea Party did more in 18 months than we did throughout Bush years. It’s time to ACT, not talk. I froze my butt off for years on picket lines, and I will do so again.

        But we also have to send messages -- the only people speaking out on health care reform are opposed to it. Where are the people who got it PASSED? It WAS the voices of the people, not political deals, that swung votes. Let your legislators freaking KNOW what you think -- over, and over, and over.

        Democracy is NOT a spectator sport.

    • DawgBone says:

      Bingo!

      But it’s not so much that we don’t value these things as it is The Powers That Be who do not value these things. For example:

      1) Big Pharma does not value health because it makes money off of illness.

      2) Transnational corporations don’t value the Earth because environmental protection impacts their bottom line.

      3) The Elite do not value education because a dumbed-down population is easier to exploit and control.

      4) Etc.

      I still have some faith in the American People despite the fact that we are mostly asleep, if not comatose. I still think that we are the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave --> strong resourceful people.

      It is just a matter of waking people up.

    • jkkFL says:

      Cher,
      What a powerful post.
      You are tragically correct, and it’s getting worse.
      What a sentence to hand to our progeny.

    • choicelady says:

      You have covered ALL the issues -- and isn’t it true that all the issues we don’t value pertain to the “unworthy”? We protect the mega rich who actually need no protection, but we begrudge our neighbors basic health and supports. We destroy the family in the name of ‘family values’ of hard work that keeps us away from them working 2-3 jobs just to stay afloat. We undermine all working people by taking more and more from them -- and demand they be grateful they live in America.

      We MUST build on the start we have in regaining the simple message that the American promise is NOT the race to the bottom but sharing the common good -- the general welfare -- with one another. Calling out the hypocrisy and lies of the ueber rich is imperative, and reclaiming the promise is imperative. We did not have the media (newspapers) in the last progressive era -- so we can’t say we can’t get this message out because yes, we CAN.

      We have to have more and more people hit the street and demand our country back -- it’s not just for the few but for the many, and the many deserve not to suffer and battle for simple decency.

      The new slogan -- you do business in my town, you share what you make with us” employees, cutomers, community. Otherwise, go someplace else. UncutUS -- you want to work in my city or state? Pay your taxes!!!! No more free rides for welfare cheats and chislers -- corporations pay what you owe!

      We can do this. Personally I believe the value of contributions to America is not reckoned in dollars but in commitment to the Common Good. Priceless.

      • jkkFL says:

        The new slogan means nothing when you have Governors punishing the people in their state. Gov Walker in WI; Gov Scott in FL- who thinks he is omnipotent by refusing Federal Funds for HS Rail- even thought a GOP Legislature had already allocated funds for it.
        He Also cut corporate taxes, and unemployment- from 26 weeks to 20 weeks.
        The old saying ‘you can’t fight city hall’ has never been more true than now.

    • coffeegod says:

      * groveling * I am soooo not worthy.

      AWESOME post…just awesome.

  9. coffeegod says:

    I was widowed 6 years ago. My son was 3 at that time. Instead of being able to stay home and care for him, I had to work, not because I need the money but because I need the health care. I simply could not afford to insure both me and my son and maintain our moderate life. I could live on SSI and raise my son but I wouldn’t have health insurance. Social Security allows me to make 14k a year gratis then takes one dollar away for every two I earn over that. Between daycare, parking, clothes, gasoline, reduction in my SSI benefits and summer camp, my yearly take home pay is about $1000.00. I am paid well and I like my job but I would really rather be home, caring for my kid.

    I tried to get my kid on the CHIPs program but I made $36 a month too much. Were I still living in Tennessee, we would have qualified for CHIPs but not here in Mississippi.

    I’m not complaining but it would have been wonderful to be able to stay home and raise my son rather than turn that responsibility over to counselors and daycare workers. I don’t really know if this is even germane to the topic but I needed to vent. Please pardon.

    • jkkFL says:

      Youur statement about making too much to get into the CHIPs program ($36!)
      reminded me of something else. They legislate ‘safety nets’, but if you’re one of the ‘working poor’, they cut holes in the bottoms so that many people fall thru! Just another way to keep the poor desperate.

    • Moist Robot says:

      coffeegod, this story is germane! Life has become too complicated not to be recompensed in a manner which would be way more than enough if we lived in a more, say, tribal culture.

      Too bad cyber-sitting can’t be viable. I’d gladly look after your son a while!

      My thoughts are with you on your loss. Six years is just six years.

      • coffeegod says:

        Awww, thanks, ma’am. He is a good kid and very self-reliant. He started staying home after school by himself this year (age 9). Oddly enough, his grades are better and his homework is done before I get home.

        I miss my husband every day but you just gotta keep on keeping on.

  10. PocketWatch says:

    When I interview people for a job of any kind, I always ask the following question pretty early in the conversation:

    “How much do you need to get up and come into work every day? Nothing fancy, but what will cover it for you?”

    I believe in paying a living wage, and that seems to be fairly individual to people and scales differently depending on where you live.

    I also ask the company ahead of time what the pay range is for the position they want to fill.

    Interestingly, I have never had anyone tell me a number that was way out of line with what the company was going to offer.

    Since I also believe in compensation for performance, I think this whole notion that “the best” of these fools and narcissists that are hired to run these companies into the ground are basically “hit and run” artists that go from company to company and leave havoc wherever they go.

    How they con anyone into believing they are the best or the brightest is a mystery to me.

    • But their resume looks *so* good! And they have letters of recommendation from an astronaut, Gandhi, and Idi Amin! And their last company paid them 7 figures as a severance package!

      How could they not be perfect CFO, CEO, or COO material?

      • choicelady says:

        And too many of them claim they have references from God. This is the new Social Darwinism, the new “elect” -- you’re rich? Proves God loves you more. Or at all.

        Whatever happened to ‘easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle…’???

        JP Morgan nailed the disconnect when he said, “The meek may inherit the earth -- but not the mineral rights.”

        Until America gets over its envy of the “lifestyles of the rich and famous” we will keep getting screwed. Until they stop being tolerant of religious extremists, we will keep getting screwed. Until we stop equating riches with value we will keep getting screwed.

        Enough already. Power is not value. Money is not value. Al Capone had both. He was not a valuable person.

        • jkkFL says:

          YEAH! and I was real sympathetic toward Jamie Dimon when he complained he wasn’t ‘respected’.
          What a shithead!
          ” alt=”Smiley” border=”0″ />

          • choicelady says:

            Awwww -- poor baby! Well, welcome to the new world of accountability! This, Mr. Dimon, is what reality is like for the rest of us.

            • jkkFL says:

              Not exactly..
              Dimon’s rumored wealth is $3bn!
              A few dollars above mine and yours!
              ” alt=”Smiley” border=”0″ />

  11. citizen477 says:

    This is exactly what I’ve been asking, but — of course — you have articulated it much better than I ever could.

    I have been asking for years why we worship rich people so much. Usually, the overwhelming response is, “Well, they fund the corporations that get us jobs” But, my question is do we really need corporations? Frankly, I believe the current corporate structure has outlived its purpose. The plutocratic form of production, which Adam Smith warned against, is becoming not only untenable but unsustainable.

    Your post is right on the money (no pun intended), Choicelady, because the structure of the corporation is exactly why the economy is failing. We need a new way of producing things more sustainably and fairly. Maybe the answer could be found in cooperative economics. I’m not sure, but the old-fashioned corporate structure is tiresome, bloated, uneven, unfair, unsustainable and no longer useful.

    Finally, it’s funny how people criticize large government institutions for being wasteful, overreaching and inefficient, but the same can be said about the corporation. The only difference is, at the very least, I can vote out of office the politician who nominated the person to run a given public agency, but I can’t vote a CEO out of his post.

    • Abbyrose86 says:

      Thank you Citizen, I was trying to find the words for how I felt on the subject, but you pretty much had already summed up my feelings, as well!

    • choicelady says:

      Citizen! A person after my own heart! Long timers here will tell you that IS my issue! GREAT book -- “America Beyond Capitalism” by Gar Alperovitz notes that the MOST profitable enterprises are those that are worker owned and managed. When people sneer at that -- as a man standing in the boarding line did to me calling out United Air Lines as worker owned -- I offer that ESOPs are insufficient. We were waiting for a Southwest plane -- it’s the most profitable airline with highest customer loyalty because it’s worker owned AND MANAGED. That gives the employees the right to solve problems as they arise, to give customers great service without rules made from afar that hamstring them. They have the right to change proceedures by speaking up over issues. And they share in the company’s ups and downs and find ways to make it better.

      The joint stock corporation serves NO one well. Obama changed one thing legally that will begin some small measure of help -- it ended the pernicious policy of forbidding share owners to speak against management and empowered said stockholders to have a say in company compensation. The problem is that most majority stock holders are other companies or investment firms, so majority vote still goes to cronies. But where that’s NOT true, there is now some light. Just one step but an essential one.

      When the power of stockholding is so tightly controlled by firms holding other firms, we will get nowhere. The best bet is middle level and smaller companies where employees can get some leverage over ownership and thus over management. I so totally agree with you -- it can and must be the wave of the future.

      We di watch through the mid 70s on, the rise of disinterested managers who knew NOTHING about the companies they were hired to guide and, with golden parachutes and NO accountability, ran them into the ground and yet claimed “superior skills” and “success”.

      Let’s call our corporate weaknesses from bad management, make they account for every dime of taxpayer subsidy, and hold the management accountable to the public for running a good business or fine them for doing harm to us. Cost benefit analysis on public policy must include the PUBLIC as well as the company -- the public expenditures that gain nothing in the way of benefit for the general welfare must be the first budget cuts we make.

      Enough with corporate welfare. Let’s make the cheats and chislers account to the taxpayers! And then let’s give benefits to the worker and community owned, to the B corporations as well, that do good for us ALL, not just the incestuous and inbred management class.


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