12.10.2004

From Our "Warning: Sarcasm Ahead" File...
Wal–Mart Announces Massive Rollback On Employee Wages The Onion (12.04)
Remember kids: the Onion is not a real paper: it's humor...

Scott then turned to a large projection screen on which the company's trademark yellow happy face whizzed through the aisles of a Wal-Mart, enthusiastically "slashing" the hourly wages of employees all over the store.

"Paying $7.75 an hour for a Class-2 cashier with fewer than two years' experience?" a cheery narrator asked in amused disbelief. "How about $6.50? And $8.45 an hour for a dockworker to unload boxes of bath towels all day? We think $6.75 sounds more like it!"

[snip]

The beaming smiley-face then placed a sign reading "Help Wanted—$5.15/Hour" in a window and welcomed in a long line of smiling job applicants bearing brand-new high-school diplomas, military discharge papers, and green cards.

"Wal–Mart is the place to find the latest of everything!" the narrator said. "The benefits of having long-time employees around don't add up to the benefits we have to pay them. It's time for newer, fresher, cheaper faces!"

It would be funny if it weren't so true...

From Our "The Fix Is In" File...

A nice connecting of the dots by Atrios on how the media is already beating the drums, not to war, but to privatize Social Security. Clearly demonstrates the media bias and the use of "Think Tanks" (read: echo chambers).

For more on how they're making this whole thing up check out Paul Krugman as he breaks it all down. (registration may be required)

Know your enemy people because they sure as hell think they know you.

(also posted @ the Hollywood Progressive Institute)

Follow-up: Josh Marshall finds the nugget in a Today's Washington Post. We love that guy!

12.09.2004

Offshoring Creativity FastCompany (12.04)
I missed it but The Outsourcing Weblog didn'. Nice scary article for folks to read for themselves. Our favorite part? The last 2 paragraphs...

Mike Moritz of Sequoia Capital, the hottest venture capitalist of the moment, visited Bangalore this year and told India's Economic Times, "The raw energy among Indian companies is just unmistakable." Although Sequoia has yet to invest in a startup based in India, it backs at least 35 companies with operations or footholds there. "Cost is clearly part of it," he said, "but what is more important is the extraordinary, educated, talent–driven workforce that constantly gushes from the Indian institutes. It's like Silicon Valley. As Silicon Valley developed over time, it attracted more skilled people and then more good things happened. And the same thing will happen for India."

Read Moritz's words again — "It's like Silicon Valley." We should find that a lot more threatening than Indian coders on H1B visas. The issue for America shouldn't be just the pros and cons of outsourcing grunt work. It should be investing in and cultivating our own "extraordinary, educated, talent–driven workforce" so the work of creativity and innovation isn't offshored as well.

Is the writing on the wall? We look around and, right now, see a country that is sliding backward into superstition and fear, a country that doesn't value its workers, creative thinkers or academics. We see a country at war with itself over issues that we'd thought long ago settled (but realize that this is all part of someone's plan to keep us distracted) and folks who aren't serious about doing what is right for this country and keep drinking the Bush Co. Kool–Aid (that means you "Morals Voter").

What A Dick Greetings From Brandoland (12.8.09)
We agree with Brando: Rumsfeld is a ginormous dick. And while he might not have gotten his face bitten off (as Brando muses)then and there, we think that brave Army Spc. Thomas Wilson better watch his back for a while... these NeoCon Death Cult guys have long memories.

Outsourcing the CEO could save thousands of jobs Seacoastonline.com (12.9.04)
So the problem is skilled workers losing their good high–paying jobs (the backbone of our most recent economic boom... ah, the Clinton years) to workers making much less overseas. But what do we do about it?

Outsource the CEO!
It's the right and reasonable solution to the outsourcing problem.

Wow. It's like this guy is reading our mind.

When an American programmer makes $60K and a Ph.D.–holding, English–speaking Indian programmer $6K, that's hard for companies to resist. Add in the pensions you can skip here by laying off older Americans in favor of young Indians. You can also use special visas to bring some of those foreign workers here to push down wage rates for the jobs that remain in the United States. And you can stop paying for health-care benefits because they're covered by government in many other countries. The savings just get bigger and bigger. And you'll move to the lower U.S. tax bracket for overseas operations. Plus you'll pocket the tax subsidies given by other countries to attract offshoring work.

That would be what we like to call "the Nutshell."
And if those Indians get uppity and start raising their rates, you'll just threaten to move the jobs to China, with even more millions desperate for work, willing to work for less and less.

Then, with the savings, you could invest in new products and create new jobs back here at home, right? Well, assuming you still think of America as home, an idea that doesn't actually have much meaning to a multinational corporation except when it's angling for local subsidies.

Some folks (like those nice people at Bush Co.) would call that kind of talk "Unamerican"... but not us. We call it "The Truth."

And you probably will create some new jobs, though it's unlikely they'll number anything like the jobs you killed. Just what those jobs will be in isn't clear. New fields such as "stem cells" and "nanotechnology" get talked about, but they're not substantial yet, and the same countries eating up the information technology jobs are busy educating low-cost workers for these new fields too.

Hey, those depend on that "Evolution" that Satan–worshipper Darwin espoused and they're trying to brainwash our kids with in the public (read: heathen/liberal/socialist) school system!
(By the way, that was sarcasm. All hail Lord Satan!)

But hey, the Americans who still have jobs will get to buy your product at lower prices. Well, after stockholders get a dividend and top execs get more options and a bonus, that is.

Wait, wait: we might be in love. This is good stuff right here...

But let's get back to this idea of "outsourcing the CEO" which intrigues us mightily...

Why doesn't this outsourcing analysis apply to the CEO and other top execs?

Hmmm, because the rich get richer and the poor get the picture? (to quote Midnight Oil) By the way, this kind of talk is considered "class warfare" by the Investment Class who have been waging it on the Middle Class and Poor for years so they should know.

You'll see it suggested a thousand times in angry discussions about outsourcing, from information technology workers laid off in their 30s, 40s, or 50s and unable to find another job for years.

Outsource the CEO first, they say. Then talk to me about outsourcing my job.

I think someone is going to be getting a visit from the F.B.I.

Talk about overpaid: American CEOs used to make 30 times as much as the average worker. Now they make 400 times as much. Add in the stock options, mega–pensions, corporate jets, club memberships, loans that don't have to be paid back, and the CEO total take is even richer.

There's the fat to cut, the waste to eliminate.

Yes, yes: fat to cut, waste to eliminate. Wait... is he talking about some kind of revolution? What are we Europeans? No, we're Americans and that sort of stuff makes us nervous because it might mean higher prices at the Wal–Mart or that NASCAR would be pre–empted. Hell, we don't even bother to have real elections in this country anymore (see there's that White Hot Anger we've been feeling since November 3rd).

As always, read and decide for yourself.

12.08.2004

From Our "Help Save the Youth of America" file: Evolution...

Attention Morons: Evolution is both FACT & Theory. The two are not mutually exclusive.

So stop fucking with education: as always, it is the only real way out of our current economic problems and the only way to go is forward. Everytime attack evolution & education you simply undermine the future of our country.

Again: Stop it.

US firms announce 104,530 job cuts in November, survey shows Yahoo! News (12.7.04)

WASHINGTON (AFP) - US employers announced plans in November to step up job cuts, with the total exceeding 100,000 for the third month in a row, an industry survey showed.

Employers posted 104,530 cuts in November, up 2.6 percent from the previous month, according to a survey sponsored by international outplacement firm Challenger, Gray and Christmas.

Government workers were hardest hit, with 21,971 cuts, followed by telecommunications workers, with 21,158 job losses.

"Not only are more companies announcing job cuts, there are more jobs being eliminated in each announcement," said the outplacement firm's chief executive, John Challenger.

"This volatility could continue into 2005 as competition forces more companies to consider strategic combinations," he said in a statement.

"Higher health care and energy costs for employers and employees are definitely taking a toll. Companies are being forced to enact more cost-containment measures to protect profits."

Yes, yes: blame health care and energy costs because they threaten profits. How dare workers expect to be able to take care of themselves when sick or injured or be warm in their hovels when it's cold? Can't they see their greediness hurts the Investor Class? Shame on you workers!
Challenger said a weak labor market could hurt the crucial holiday shopping season.

"The biggest worry for the economy is that the large number of lower-middle-class and middle-class Americans struggling to make it paycheck to paycheck will be short of discretionary income during the holiday shopping season," he said.

Silly workers, why are you holding on to your meager incomes (noting that wages have fallen throughout the Bush Co. reign)? Don't you know the terrorists will win if you don't go shopping? Did you learn nothing from September 11th (queue Toby Keith or Lee Greenwood) as you sat horrified watching those selfish Eastern Liberal Elites being attacked on TV like some bad Bruckheimer film? Not shopping during Christmas is just what they want!

From Our "Hey, but at least the Homos can't marry" file:
Bush's second term & India's gains India Times (11.17.04)
Oh, you have to love this one! Here is another, huge lump of coal for America...

There is consensus that GWB Jr's win will push India's gains well beyond technology, and spill over into trade.

Indian techies and software honchos were seen laughing all the way to the vote banks they so assiduously helped to create for George W Bush Jr's (sic) win. Desperate to preserve and enhance the P/Es of their off-shore outfits, they knew just what would happen if democracy triumphed in the US in the form of the Democrats: with Kerry's opposition to software and BPO outsourcing his win would have drenched their balance sheets all a gory 'Heinz-red'...

Ho Ho, "Heinz Red"... that is Hilarious! But again, keep telling yourself the following: Jesus loves Bush and at least those Nasty Homos can't marry... Jesus loves Bush and at least those Nasty Homos can't marry...
Meanwhile, software exports to the USA have been growing at an annual 30%, with the USA alone taking 68% of the total. So, not only will India gain as GWB Jr will continue to be a free-trader, the gains will spill–over into other sectors and services. They should, even if he cannot have a third Presidential Term, given the way in which he majorly relied on India's service sector from the onset of his election campaign.

Reports, in fact, say that May 16, 2002 onwards HCL eServe deployed over 100 agents to solicit funds for Republicans for 14 months. The India–based BPO pulled out all stops and got contributions ranging from $5 to $3,000 from hordes of registered Republican voters. As for its getting the names of voters from such a distance, that was thanks to a database provided by the Republican National Committee (RNC), the party's premier political organisation.

That is how more than 10 million registered Republican voters were contacted, and well in excess of $10 million raised: all thanks to Noida and Gurgaon! And it happened even though the contract for running the campaigns was originally awarded by RNC to Washington, DC–-based Capital Communications Group – a networking outfit. The latter then sent it on, offshore, to India! HCL Technologies was then selected, for cost and efficiency gains.

Incidentally, no one in the US had any idea of where the calls were from as they had foreign accents: that was ensured by the advanced voice recognition and automation technology used.

Wait, wait: it gets better! (doesn't it always?)
So it is also clear that the new Bush Administration will be pro-active on the issue of visas. As Vivek Paul, Wipro VC, said after the Presidential poll, "The elections are over and so is the rhetoric; it will be easier for American corporations to step out with their outsourcing plans."

Now they're laughing at us because we were stupid enough to elect this man FOR THEM and we are still WHITE HOT ANGRY OVER IT. Like we said before the election: they were waiting for Bush to win so more companies could outsource. Vivek Paul had said that in speeches and now we're in for it.

But remember: at least there's lots of cheap plastic crap for you to buy with your McWages at Wal-Mart and the Homos can't marry. (see? STILL WHITE HOT ANGRY)

12.07.2004

Some thoughts on Wal–Mart... pt. I
Wal–Mart's China inventory to hit US$18b this year ChinaDaily.com (11.29.04)
Ho Ho Ho, American Worker! Some more coal for you with your discount prices?

The world's largest retailer, Wal-Mart Stores Inc, says its inventory of stock produced in China is expected to hit US$18 billion this year, keeping the annual growth rate of over 20 per cent consistent over two years.

[snip]

Nevertheless, he said China is Wal–Mart's most important supplier in the world. The overseas procurement home office in Shenzhen, a city of South China's Guangdong Province, has played a key role in the firm's global purchasing business.

But here's the kicker...
"If Wal–Mart were an individual economy, it would rank as China's eighth-biggest trading partner, ahead of Russia, Australia and Canada," Xu said.

[snip]

Insiders point out Wal–Mart's imports from China have largely influenced the US trade deficit in China, which is expected to reach US$150 billion this year.

[snip]

So far, more than 70 per cent of the commodities sold in Wal–Mart are made in China.

Experts say Wal–Mart's plan of increasing its procurement from China has granted the firm a positive corporate reputation in the country.

"Buying more products in China means more job opportunities, which helps the firm win not only the government's hearts, but also the customers' appreciations," said Wang Yao, director of information department under the China General Chamber of Commerce.

So much for "USA! USA!" eh folks? HILARIOUS.

If you must shop at these places, please shop at CostCo (who upsets Wall Street because they treat their workers too well) or from folks like American Apparel here in working class Los Angeles.

12.06.2004

Song of the Week: Working Man by Rush

I get up at seven, yeah
And I go to work at nine
I got no time for livin'
Yes, I'm workin' all the time

It seems to me
I could live my life
A lot better than I think I am
I guess that's why they call me
They call me the workin' man

They call me the workin' man
I guess that's what I am

I get home at five o'clock
And I take myself out a nice, cold beer
Always seem to be wond'rin'
Why there's nothin' goin' down here

It seems to me
I could live my life
A lot better than I think I am
I guess that's why they call me
They call me the workin' man

They call me the workin' man
I guess that's what I am

Well they call me the workin' man
I guess that's what I am

"I guess that's what I am..." and there's nothing wrong with that. And we'd like to add the following: when folks talk about "Hollywood," please remember that it isn't 'Sodom & Gamorrah' but a working class town filled with an diverse population that are just trying to make ends meet.

Party Is Over on Workers' Comp Los Angeles Times (12.03.04) Registration Required
Ho Ho Ho, Merry Christmas! Ho Ho Ho!

To Nancy Behravesh, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger was a breath of fresh air. Behravesh operates a Santa Monica preschool called Les Enfants, and like a lot of business owners in California, her workers' compensation bills were killing her.

That's why she was more than happy to join Schwarzenegger's reform crusade early this year. She signed a petition supporting workers' comp relief, and when Schwarzenegger took his bows for getting a bill through the state Legislature, Behravesh was not forgotten.

Just last month, a large envelope arrived at Les Enfants. Inside was a certificate of appreciation from the Small Business Action Committee and a color photo of a smiling Gov. Schwarzenegger. The certificate thanked Les Enfants for teaming up with the governor "in ending the 'Small Business Killer' laws, rules and regulations..."

Behravesh was flattered.

Then she got another envelope. It contained her workers' comp bill, and the party was over.

The decrease she had banked on didn't come through.

In fact, her premium went up.

Way up.

"It went from $22,000 to $32,000," Behravesh says. "I've never had an increase like that."

When Behravesh mentioned the jump to other preschool operators, she found that she wasn't alone.

"Mine went up $21,000," says Ellen Khokha of Santa Monica's Growing Place.

Ho Ho Ho, Merry Christmas! Ho Ho Ho! And a lump of coal for you little girl...

Khokha discovered that her employees had been reclassified by her insurance company even though they performed the same jobs this year as they did in previous years. They went from early childhood educators to day–care workers, a switch that put them in a higher premium category.

Why?

"It's just part of the shenanigans the insurance companies are pulling," says Jamie Court of the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights.

Insurance companies stand to save millions of dollars under the reforms, which placed strict limits on the claims of employees injured on the job. But the reform bill did not require the insurance companies to pass their savings on to clients.

[snip]

You think it could have anything to do with the fact that Schwarzenegger — Mr. Campaign Finance Reform — has raised insurance industry money like an Olympic panhandling champion?

The governor's haul tops $1 million and counting, about half of which is from industry players involved in workers' compensation reform.

Insurance Commissioner John Garamendi has called for workers' comp premium reductions totaling 22% to match the savings by insurers, but the insurers are in the driver's seat. They don't have to listen to what he says.

Garamendi says insurers have dropped premiums by about 10% on average, with huge variations based on ambiguities and quirks, such as the reclassification of preschool workers and those in other industries.

"There's a widespread problem of changing classifications, the result of which is higher premiums with no real change in the risk," Garamendi said.

"Often it makes no sense whatsoever, and we are constantly dealing with this issue," he added, citing an example of an insurance company that classified secretaries as heavy equipment operators.


Ho Ho Ho, SUCKERS! Sing it with us kiddies: "Bait & Switch, Bait & Switch, Promise one thing and then stick it to the people, Bait & Switch!"

Ok, so we're not the singer/songwriters like some of our friends.

By the way, important fact of the day: Schwarzenegger has already raised $26 million dollars from "special intrest groups" and that is twice as much as Gray Davis had in the same period of time... and Schwarzenegger ran against him saying Davis was "beholden" to those same "special interests"! Hilarious!