1.14.2005

Framing Social Security

The Liberal Frame for Social Security MyDD.com (01.12)
Actually this comes from Fred Block at the Rockridge Institute by way of MyDD...

Here's the problem: the strand of conservatism that currently dominates the Republican Party doesn't believe in increasing any kind of civilian government spending. They don't want money going to the elderly and they don't want spending for young people; all they want to do is reduce taxes and shrink government. As Grover Norquist, one of the most influential conservatives in Washington has said, "I don't want to abolish government. I simply want to reduce it to the size where I can drag it into the bathroom and drown it in the bathtub."

With this bizarre philosophy, conservatives have been systematically underinvesting in our future. While a growing body of research now shows that investing in quality early childhood education helps all children do better in school, conservatives have steadfastly resisted increasing spending for quality childcare. Fewer and fewer families are able to afford the $7000-9,000 per year per child cost of center-based care. Despite all of the President's rhetoric about leaving no child behind, our public schools remain desperately underfunded. Especially in working class and poor neighborhoods, overcrowding, lack of decent equipment, and a continuing shortage of skilled teachers are the rule, not the exception.

Oh, why did we highlight good old Grover Norquist's name? Because we believe that he's front and center in this whole thing and that you should know about anyone this influential who goes around saying things like "We are trying to change the tones in the state capitals –– and turn them toward bitter nastiness and partisanship" in print. Grover's big thing? "Starving the Beast" and while Grover may think that "the Government" is 'the Beast' we know that the Government is supposed to be us.

Still Made In America?

From our "Maybe there's hope" file...
All–American outsourcing option Rocky Mountain News (01.14)
Well this is the kind of story we're seeing a bit more lately and it gives us a bit of hope:

Ciber Inc. is stamping a "made in America" label on the hot-button practice of outsourcing.

The Greenwood Village company opened a center in Oklahoma City where businesses can tap U.S. workers for software development work – rather than going overseas to use foreign labor in nations such as India.

It's the first of a half-dozen "CIBERsites" the information technology consulting company plans to set up in midsized U.S. cities in the next 12 to 18 months.

"It's a good idea for the company and the country at the same time," said Ciber Chief Executive Mac Slingerlend. "We really need to compete as a society for work that can be done offshore.

What have we been saying all along folks? We're all in this together and we better start acting like it.

Now they still employ folks overseas, and there is nothing intrinsically wrong with that, but at least they appear concerned with the health and welfare of their neighbors and communities here in the US.

200 here, 200 there...

200 to lose jobs when call center closes
Newsday.com (01.12)

ClientLogic will close its Buffalo call center in March, leaving 200 employees without jobs.

Based in Nashville, Tenn., ClientLogic is one of the world's biggest providers of outsourced customer contact and fulfillment services, operating 55 locations in 14 countries. But employees in Buffalo have for several months expressed fears that the center would close because of a decrease in work at the site.

Employment in Buffalo, where the company was founded in 1990, peaked in 2000 at 1,500 workers.

Fun.

1.12.2005

Looking Enviably Upon Social Security

A Bloody Mess The American Prospect (01.11)
All this talk about private accounts & privitization of Social Security? Well it's been tried before:

A conservative government sweeps to power for a second term. It views its victory as a mandate to slash the role of the state. In its first term, this policy objective was met by cutting taxes for the wealthy. Its top priority for its second term is tackling what it views as an enduring vestige of socialism: its system of social insurance for the elderly. Declaring the current program unaffordable in 50 years’ time, the administration proposes the privatization of a portion of old–age benefits. In exchange for giving up some future benefits, workers would get a tax rebate to put into an investment account to save for their own retirement.

George W. Bush's America in 2005? Think again. The year was 1984, the nation was Britain, the government was that of Margaret Thatcher –– and the results have been a disaster that America is about to emulate.

Uh oh, we're not sure we like the sound of this...
For all the fanfare that surrounds the Bush administration’s efforts to present a bold new idea on pension reform, the truth is that it is not new at all. In fact, the proposal looks suspiciously like the plan set in train during Thatcher's first term in 1979 and which has since led Britain to the brink of a crisis. Since then, the nation's basic pension, which is paid for out of tax receipts, has shrunk dramatically. The United Kingdom has the stingiest state pension program of any G8 nation, and there is growing consensus –– even among British conservatives –– that reform is needed. And ironically enough, considering that America is on the verge of copying Britain’s mistake, most experts seek reform in the direction of a more generous, and simpler, basic state pension –– one similar in design, in other words, to America’s Social Security program.

There you go kiddies, right there in black & white: been tried and now they look upon us with envy.

As always, don't believe us: read for yourself, but don't ever assume that the folks in power have your best interests at heart. Be aware, be critical and always think for yourself.

1.11.2005

LA Local News Is a Joke

Not a story, but the Channel 7 anchor is blabbing on about puddles during a car chase.

Wait... to his credit the car did just spin out, but it had nothing to do with a puddle: he hit another car.

We feel sorry for 'news' anchors in LA. In any other market they would be huge local celebrities but here in LA? They might as well still be writing for their high school newspapers.

GM to cut U.S. workforce again in 2005

Oh goody: more job losses from America's favorite coloring bookUSAToday.com (01.10)

General Motors (GM) plans to cut its U.S. workforce about 7% for a fourth consecutive year in 2005, chairman and chief executive Rick Wagoner says.

That means about 8,000 hourly and salaried positions at the world's largest automaker will be eliminated through attrition and retirement over the next 12 months.

Struggling to trim costs in the face of rising health care expenses and other factors, GM each year since 2002 has cut 2% to 3% of its salaried workforce, 5% to 6% of its hourly workforce and about 10% of its contractors.

Hmmm, 'other factors' eh? Wonder what those could possibly be...

GOP Freudian Slip?

The Iceberg Cometh The New York Times (01.11)
We've been looking for the full Wehner memo about how to scare people into allowing Bush to kill Social Security, an we must have read this passage 20 times in articles, but it just struck us. Read this:

"For the first time in six decades," the memo says, "the Social Security battle is one we can win."

Exactly what battle is this guy talking about? And 60 years? Really.

Huh. Weird.

Now it is no secret that cheap–labor conservatives have hated Social Security since it was created, but we thing this little slip really shows what the Bush Administration is up to: finally killing it.

The rest is pure Paul Krugman. Man. Myth. Legend.

Governor says no to bargaining IndyStar.com (01.11)
Not so unbelievable.

Republican Gov. Mitch Daniels canceled union contracts covering nearly 25,000 workers today, saying they stood in the way of his efforts to rapidly overhaul state government.

Daniels said he was ending bargaining rights in effect under three Democratic governors since 1990 partly to form a separate agency to handle child welfare and child support without having to consult with union officials.

Word to the wise: once folks start talking about "protecting children" you know they're up to no good.

Seriously.

State workers represented by three unions, including state troopers, welfare caseworkers and prison guards, will no longer be able to negotiate pay, benefits and work rules with state officials.

The unions had bargained for health care subsidies, had handled workers' job-related grievances and had protected employees' rights during disciplinary proceedings. Workers also lost seniority rights in bidding for jobs, transfers and vacation time because of Daniels' move.

What none of those folks have kids?

Union busting. Pure in simple.

Why? Because Republicans hate any institution that gives the working man (and that is anyone who takes a paycheck from another man) any modicum of power or leverage.
"It is hard to reconcile the words of our new governor on his first day in office with his actions on the second day," said Rep. Greg Porter, D-Indianapolis, the caucus' leader, said in a written statement.

"Gov. Daniels has spoken long and loud about supporting those hard-working state employees who dedicate their lives to helping the people of Indiana, but now it appears that he does not support their efforts to earn a decent wage."

Republican lawmakers were quick to praise Daniels while emphasizing his actions do not signal the beginnings of an anti–labor movement in state government.

Uh, then what do they signal? "Everyone All Skate"?

Lies and the lying liars that tell them...

Clear Channel DJ to Indian operator: 'Listen to me you dirty rat-eater.' AlterNet (01.10)
This is disgusting. This is vile. And this is not helpful.

But this is just one of several eye-poppingly bigoted statements crammed into a short gag phone call broadcast on a Clear Channel station, Power99 FM (WUSL in Philadelphia). The "caller" (reportedly morning jock "Star"), pretends to be shopping for hair beads he saw in an infomercial.

Then, having reached an operator in India and claiming outrage at the outsourcing of American jobs, the "caller" proceeds to unleash a litany of bigotry so contrived you'd be forgiven for thinking it was actually just a mockery of juvenile talk radio gags:

"Ma'am what the 'F' would you know about an American white girl's hair?"
"listen bitch, don't get slick with the mouth! don't you get slick with me bitch!"
"Listen to me you dirty rat-eater, I'll come out there and choke the 'F' out of you! You're a filthy rat-eater! I'm calling about my American 6-year-old white girl. how dare you outsource my call! Get off the line, bitch!"

Vile. Horrible. Unamerican.

This man should be fired, but since it's ClearChannel so we're pretty sure he'll just get a promotion.

Bush to D.C.: You'll pay Salon.com (day pass required) (01.11)
We've talked about this before and we will again: it is simply unacceptable for Bush Co. to ask the District to pay over $11 million dollars for the 'inauguration.' The government has always covered these costs themselves and to use funds earmarked for anti-terrorism and security purposes (we refuse to call it "Homeland Security") And, as Salon.com notes:

Considering that a full 90 percent of the District's residents went to the polls on Nov. 2 in the hope that Bush would never see a second inauguration, it seems like poor form to make them pay so much for the festivities. Even members of the president's own party are taken aback: A spokesman for Rep. Thomas M. Davis III, a Virginia Republican who chairs the committee which oversees the District, called the Bush administration's position "simply not acceptable."

"'It's an unfunded mandate of the most odious kind. How can the District be asked to take funds from important homeland security projects to pay for this instead?'"

As a former resident of the District I agree. Remember folks, not only is this our capitol but it also has over 570,000 residents who are are denied representation in Congress. Whatever happened to that battle cry of "No Taxation Without Representation"? I'll tell you what: members of Congress who treat it as their own personal feifdom.



1.10.2005

Billionaire urges Bush to give inaugural funds to tsunami survivors
Knight Ridder Newspapers via SouthCoastToday.com (m/dd)

Dallas billionaire Mark Cuban has a suggestion for President Bush: Cancel the inauguration parties and donate the money saved –– some $40 million –– to the tsunami victims.

Now supposedly this is "controversial," but the only controversy we can see is spending $40 to $50 million+ on 'inauguration' ceremonies for a sitting president during wartime. Sorry kids, you want to do the "christian thing"? Then cancel all the parties and give the money to countries devastated by the tsunami.

Brandoland
Brando lays out the real truth behind W's so–called Social Security "reform" (HA!) and what "Private Investment Accounts" really mean.

From our "Sorry We Missed This" file...
Company for the People SeattleWeekly (12.15.04)

then Issaquah-based retailer Costco offers a blue-state alternative. The company is proving Wall Street wrong by adhering to a radical idea: Treating customers and employees right is good business.

"treating customers and employees right is good business" heaven forbid...
It was classic Wall Street logic. In August 2003, the financial community decided it was fed up with Costco, the Issaquah-based discount warehouse chain and, at least until the recently announced Sears/Kmart merger, sixth largest retailer in the country on the basis of revenue. Costco was experiencing flat earnings growth for the year, and Wall Street thought it knew just what to blame. The company, proclaimed analysts, treated its employees too well. Costco's average U.S. hourly wage of approximately $16 an hour is widely considered to be the best in the retail business. And its approach to health care, as noted in a report at the time by the financial research and investment firm Sanford C. Bernstein & Co., "has been to provide employees with the best plan at the least expense to the employee." On Wall Street, this is not seen in a positive light. "Whatever goes to employees comes out of the pocket of shareholders," says Bernstein analyst Ian Gordon.

Don't those selfish employees know that the shareholders are doing all the work? How dare they get a living wage when investors are losing a few pennies a share? Have they no decency? What will we tell the children.

We noted this Wall Street moment a while ago (ie., our archives are too big to search), but it is so classic. Read the article for yourself and remember: STOP FUCKING SHOPPING AT WAL–MART!

(thanks to ExportingOurJobs.com for reminding us of this!)

1.09.2005

When you lose your job and your benefits just remember this:
Bush 'the king' blows $50m on coronation
The Guardian/Observer International (01.09)

It will be one of the biggest parties in American history, but half of the country will be left out. With a price tag of up to $50 million, President George W Bush's inauguration in 11 days' time will be an unashamed celebration of Red America's victory over Blue America in last November's election.

It is going to be the most expensive, most security-obsessed event in the history of Washington DC. An army of 10,000 police, secret service officers and FBI agents will patrol the capital for four days of massive celebrations that some critics have derided as reminiscent of the lavish shindigs thrown by Louis XIV, France's extravagant Sun King.

Remember our initial aid package for the tsunami was first $15 million, then $35, and now it is somewhere around $350 and they're spending $50 million on a sitting president's second inaugural? This is obscene.

But wait, it get's better:
Certainly, Bush's inauguration will be an orgy of gladhanding and partying by the Republican faithful from all over the country. One Washington hotel, the Mandarin Oriental, is offering visitors four nights in its Presidential Suite for $200,000. The price tag includes a 24-hour butler, a chauffeur-driven Rolls-Royce or Humvee, daily champagne and caviar and a flight to the hotel in a private jet.

One highlight of the bonanza is the Black Tie and Boots Ball organised by Bush's home state of Texas, with the President as star guest. Ten thousand tickets sold out in less than 50 minutes, and are now trading privately at $1,300 each. Another is the Commander–in–Chief's Ball where Bush will honour American soldiers fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. This is billed as the centrepiece of the inauguration, which itself has a theme tinged with the idea of military service

Let's conveniently forget the fact that not only did Bush NOT serve in the military when he could have (and has presided over multiple personal attacks on those that have), or that he was reprimanded and technically AWOL, but also that, currently, families have to supply their loved ones in the military with proper body armor! Can this get any worse?
ll the partying is being condemned by many commentators as in poor taste for a nation fighting a bloody war.

Carroll Wilson, editor of the Texas newspaper the Times Record, has called the cost obscene and 'a horrendous waste'. 'There's something inherently embarrassing about spending $50m on a party that will start and end in the blink of a very red eye,' he added.

The fighting in Iraq has provoked calls for the celebrations to be toned down, as they were during the two world wars when some were even cancelled. Bush's second inauguration will be the first in wartime since President Richard Nixon took office in 1969 during the Vietnam conflict.

Yet the partying is being intensified. The Commander–in–Chief's Ball is being hailed by organisers as a fitting tribute to American soldiers on active service. More than 2,000 troops and their partners, selected by the Pentagon, will take part. Most have served in Iraq or Afghanistan or are about to go there. The parades will have a stronger than normal military theme.

WOW. It just got that much worse. These people have no shame whatsoever. We're pretty sure that this is the kind of stuff that makes the Sweet Baby Jesus cry (along with torture).