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February 26, 2009
Laissez les bon temps rouler

Headlines on CNN today:

Jobless claims spike to 26-year high
Obama seeks $200 billion in war funds

Headlines on MSN today:

U.S. jobless claims tops 5 million mark
GM posts $9.6 billion quarterly loss

It takes a long time to undo the damage that stupidity and greed can inflict.

Thank goodness for stories like this and this. Because, yes, my personal motivation is punitive, but I also think we need to air this dirty laundry--and the arcane web of lies that produced it--quite publicly.

I dunno about this, though. I mean, I support it in theory, but undermining President Obama at this point seems counterproductive. (C'mon, people. You knew he wasn't a liberal liberal when you supported him and voted for him.)

I'm just saying. Give the guy 90 days or so before you start jerking Congressional incumbents around.

(Maybe I'm still holding a grudge? Wasn't it MoveOn who swore, handonnabible, crossmyheart, hopetodie, that they were going to disband after--what was it, the 2004 Presidential election?)

Moving on (hee), let me say that I want the honesty, no matter how much it hurts. President Obama might not be the progressive leader of my dreams, but I'm starting to think that his pragmatic left-of-center and always thoughtful approach will serve us better right now.

Obviously I'm not crazy about the money earmarked for killing people here and there, but I support the principle of better pay for the soldiers. (Here's an idea--why not pay for part of that by firing the mercenaries?) (I mean, am I alone in thinking that when we, the world's only current "superpower," have to resort to mercenaries, there's something seriously wrong with what we're doing and how we're doing it? At the very least it suggests that we're incompetent to manage our affairs within the framework of our Constitutuional government, and I have an endless disdain for incompetence.)

I know Bonehead and Crookface and their ilk are big fans of "outsourcing," thinking that anything the country needs should profit one of their corporate buddies, but there are dangers in handing our safety over to strangers.

For the past three years, FDA possessed credible information that Ranbaxy had engaged in a pattern of fraudulent behavior, but they continued to drag their feet while American lives were at risk,"

Well, duh. I mean, you do know what happened to whistleblowers and enforcement agencies that tried to enforce during the Bonehead/Crookface years, right?

Kristol's latest WaPo column included this:

For Obama's aim is not merely to "revive this economy, but to build a new foundation for lasting prosperity." Obama outlined much of this new foundation in the most unabashedly liberal and big-government speech a president has delivered to Congress since Lyndon Baines Johnson.

That warms my heart. We haven't had a liberal of any stripe in office since--well, not in quite a long time, anyhow. (And I guess it shows how far the "mainstream media" has moved to the Right that Kriston can shamelessly describe LBJ as a liberal.)

Of course, Kristol being Kristol, the lunacy comes out next:

Perhaps -- if they can find reasons to obstruct and delay. They should do their best not to permit Obama to rush his agenda through this year. They can't allow Obama to make of 2009 what Franklin Roosevelt made of 1933 or Johnson of 1965. Slow down the policy train. Insist on a real and lengthy debate.

Because, godforbid we should have an economic recovery, an improvement in the lives of ordinary people, an expansion of equal rights across the country, and an astonishing increase in prosperity for the entire country.

Conservatives can't win politically right now. But they can raise doubts, they can point out other issues that we can't ignore (especially in national security and foreign policy), they can pick other fights -- and they can try in any way possible to break Obama's momentum. Only if this happens will conservatives be able to get a hearing for their (compelling, in my view) arguments against big-government, liberal-nanny-state social engineering -- and for their preferred alternatives.

Apparently it has escaped the man's notice that we've had rightwing or (at best) centrist-and-small-government-inclined Administrations for the last 25+ years. It, you know, DIDN'T WORK. That evidence is compelling.

There is much more of a record of liberal failures to look back on now than when the New Deal and the Great Society were being rushed through.

What liberal failures? The rightwing lunacy brigade had it pretty much all their own way for almost 30 years. That's what got us into this mess. It started with union busting and financial industry deregulation and went on until an ungodly amount of our GDP was directly or indirectly being funneled into the machinery of war* or being misdirected into the personal pockets of cronies and criminals. As the federal ponzi schemes of the last Administration collapse, they're taking the country (and, to a certain extent, the entire world) with them.

The only "liberal failures" I see are the failure of the Left to figure out sooner that questions of labor rights equality, and government regulation of the industries by which the country stands or falls are still the most important issues on the table. Toss in education and healthcare and it's hard to understand why the Left has been unable to dominate politics in this country for the past 30 years. It just reeks of incompetence (and we've already covered how I feel about that.)

I mean, not only is discrimination and persecution still present in our society, we haven't even managed to shame the bigots into silence. That's just sad.

I dunno. Maybe I will support the whole MoveOn, Let's Fine Some Liberals And Elect 'Em campaign. At least they and the bloggers know what they believe in.


* That's partly because the rightwingers have stock options all over the defense industry, partly because they're imagining those cruise missiles as their personal 'equipment' (if you knowwhatimean), and party because, barren of actual ideas, they realized that there's nothing like having an Enemy to fear for making the masses huddle together and trot baa-ingly in your wake.

I'm a tad cynical today, aren't I?

I think I'll go contemplate The Americans.

Posted by AnneZook at 01:20 PM | Comments (0)
February 24, 2009
We Have Met The Enemy And He Is Us

I've been trying to articulate something about the whole management-labor relationship in the 21st century, post-neocon-insanity (we hope) world. Because this is not my first time at this particular rodeo. I've been listening to employers mouth the same lame-assed platitudes for the last 25 years.

"Times are tough for all of us right now." (Inevitably handed out by someone making at least six figures when addressing a group of minimum wage workers.)

"We are the company." (Generally used by the only person in the room who actually has stock options.)

"We're all in this together." (A favorite of the entrepreneur-owner who spends their evening searching the job sites for someone who will do your job for less money.)

Management talks about "our company" as though we were, in fact, owners and not replaceable cogs in a temporary wheel.

I'm having Issues around this latest "economic downturn."

There are things people used to take for granted. The 40-hour work week. A certain level of job security. Raises.

Of course, raises may still be happening somewhere, but no one I know has gotten one in the last few years. Not only would you get laughed out of most of today's offices if you inquired about a "merit" raise, few people even get cost-of-living any more.

Vacation relief. (For the young'uns among you, that meant that when you were out of the office someone else did your work, so you didn't come back to a desk piled high and overflowing and, a week later, have to take a sick day to recover from the exhaustion of "catching up.")

Because we used to get medical insurance and paid sick time. If you were sick, you could take off work - go to the doctor or just stay home, avoid infecting the rest of the office, and still be able to pay your rent.

Today's trend is to give people a handful of days a year. If you get sick, then you get no vacation. So, people get sick and come to the office anyhow. (And pass around the plague, as happened in my office two or three weeks ago.)

And health insurance is no longer a given. Even for those of us whose employers offer coverage, it's more and more the thing to make us pay for at least part of it.

"By the way, while Inflation and the economy are making your dollar worth less every month, we need you to chip in on the cost of your medical insurance so we can keep paying our CEO $250,000 a year, because times are tough all over."

Since wages are going down, not up, people at or close to the poverty line (which, for a family of four with kids in or headed to college, is higher than you think) can't afford the contributions so they do without.

Complain to the HR department? Sorry, that was the first thing to go in last year's round of job cuts.

And, while we're on the subject, that guy sitting in the cubicle on your left and the gal in the cubicle on your right? They're both out of here as of noon today. You don't mind picking up the slack, right? Because you still have a job, don't you, and their work absolutely has to get done.

By making people pay for some of their traditional "benefits" and by cutting salaries and by cutting staff and then expecting the remaining staff to "take up the slack," well, it seems to me that "management" is trying to separate us from our wages.

This move is intended to dissolve the contract whereby we give them X number of hours in a week and, in return, they pay us X number of dollars.

It is their hope that we can be fooled into believing that the quantity and quality of work we do has nothing to do with the wages They pay us.

When and how did They get the power to do that?

We became complacent, didn't we? We stopped guarding our "rights."

As we moved from a manufacturing-based economy to a more white-collar economy, "labor unions" became just too blue-collar. Too tainted with the stigma of "lower-class."

We didn't need no unions. We were all upper-class, white-collar workers! We thought we'd made it.

We thought We were Them.

Guess They showed Us.


Sorry. I'm sure I was winding up to a slam-bang conclusion there, along with some bitter reflections on the abortive movement toward white-collar unions that died a quick death in the 80s, but someone brought in a baby today.

It's difficult to be aggravated when a baby laughs.

Posted by AnneZook at 01:02 PM | Comments (2)