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Precariat- Learn this word

No, precariat is not a misspelling of a group of single celled organisms.  It’s a very disturbing word, an ominous word, a word that has already arrived here in the United States and is slowly moving up the food chain:

Precariat- a social group consisting of people whose lives are difficult because they have little or no job security and few employment rights

It’s a portmanteau of “precarious” and “proletariat”.  A precariat is a person who doesn’t have a reliable job.  Precariats initially were service workers who may have been working a 40 hour work week, but maybe not.  A precariat could be called in to work a 6 hour shift, every other day and one long 12 hour day at some other point in the week or come to work expecting a full 8 hours but sent home after 2.  The amount of work can vary from day to day, week to week.  This worker typically has no benefits.

I think most of us can see right away the limitations of the precariat world.  If you can’t say for sure how many hours you’ll be working each month, can you afford to rent a nice apartment or buy a house?  Can you buy a new car?  If you have children, how do you schedule and pay for their child care?  Can you depend on your paycheck to feed them?  Work and living become precarious.  Here is a video about the precariat from The Precariat: the New Working Class:

Precariats usually spring up in countries where workers are not protected by unions or strict labor laws.  Right now, the UK is starting to come to terms with the precariat but in a way, the Welsh precariat has it good compared to the American version.  Here in the US, there is no national health care system or reasonably priced, government subsidized schools of higher education.  So, the land of opportunity in America is starting to look like the last place you want to live if you are forced into precariatism.

Another feature of precariatism is the appearance of the middle man hiring agency.  That agency stands between the employer and you.  The employer hands off responsibility of hiring and paying the worker.  The worker becomes a true human resource to be hired when needed and laid off when not.  Benefits and risks are born by the employee.  The hiring agency takes a cut of the worker’s pay, I hesitate to call it a salary because that would imply some kind of security and regularity.

A couple of years ago, we who were salaried employees would have looked down on the precariat with pity.  Now, we are one.  From my vantage point, this is the way the pharmaceutical industry has decided to handle its well educated, experienced workforce.  We are now service workers.  More and more of us can only find contract work.  The work is parceled out in 3, 6 or 12 month contracts.  There are no benefits.  In some cases, the worker pays both sides of the social security tax.  It is hard to plan where to live because you don’t know if you’ll be able to pay the rent.  You can’t make any major purchases on credit because there is no guarantee that you’ll be able to afford the car payment.

One of the reasons I suspected that the McKinsey reports of employers dropping health insurance coverage for their employees after the passage of the Affordable Care Act was true was because it fits so well with the precariat worker norm.  Since a universal mandate meant that workers would be legally compelled to spend whatever the insurance companies could charge for health insurance, the employer could cut this benefit out of their compensation packages guilt free. To escape the employer mandate, all the employer would have to do is make many of its permanent employees into contractors.  The number of layoffs would be expected to increase. Responsibility and risk would now be transferred to the employee.   You don’t have to be a highly paid consulting company or economist to see how this would work.  All you have to do is think a couple of steps ahead. Mandatory universal coverage without a public option or a single payer system that requires employers to pay in puts much of the American workforce at risk of falling from the middle class into the precariat.

The new middle man hiring agency becomes the new growth sector.  Expect to hear more horror stories of foreign students brought to the US by a hiring vendor promising that they will learn English only to spend their summer in a chocolate factory in Pennsylvania doing manual labor for subsistence wages.  Expect Hershey the company to deny all responsibility.  Or Amazon.  Or {{your company name here}}

It’s hard to say whether Barack Obama was onboard with this or whether he was so overwhelmed by his job that it never was evaluated properly.  But I think we can say pretty unequivocally that the acceleration of the expansion of precariatism within the American culture is related to the measures that were  or weren’t taken in the wake of the financial collapse.  So much attention was focused on shoring up the banks at taxpayer expense that homeowners were allowed to foreclose, jobs were allowed to disappear and healthcare reform was rushed through to score political points without much thought of how  those reforms would affect the workforce.  In fact, hardly any thought at all has been spent on the workforce.  Well, Elizabeth Warren was thinking about it for years but as Adam Davidson pointing out in that blistering Planet Money interview from 2009, Warren’s opinions didn’t really count because she wasn’t a “serious” person.  Did Davidson see the rise of the precariat?  Does he know that free lancing is going to appear at an NPR station near him someday?

If the US economy is in a slump right now, it may very well be because there are so many more precariats where once there were college educated salaried people.  In my own sphere, precariatism is the norm these days, not the exception.  It wasn’t like this before 2008.  But now, if you’re a precariat, you can not plan for the future.  There IS no future.  Everyday is a struggle and stress about where the next mortgage payment will come from, what will happen if the car breaks down, how to pay for the plumbing that keeps getting backed up or the last of the orthodontic appointments.  It’s the reason why so many grocery stores are shuttering their stores and why Lowes is laying off workers in the northeast and why people are hoarding their money instead of spending it.  And it will get worse until more working people realize what is happening to them.  The people who are kissing the whip today are going to be tomorrow’s precariats.

We have been subjected to years of politicians relaxing the rules for the 1% and tightening the rules for everyone else.  The rise of the number of precariats can be attributed to the politicians who let this happen.  We need to replace as many of them as possible.  Because it wasn’t too long ago that Americans were pretty cool with capitalism.  When we were all making money and productivity gains went to the middle class, we had a vibrant, robust economy.  But when the rules went out the window and labor came under attack from the superwealthy and the whip kissers who brainlessly listen to Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck and Fox News, an opportunity arose to force many of us to live on the edge of a knife.  Now, those of us who didn’t necessarily want to be rich but wanted to work for its own sake are considered losers.  And the infection of the precariat is bound to spread.  There is no profession that is safe.  Once the public unions are broken, precarianism will be the norm, not the exception.  Your degrees cannot protect you.  Even senior citizens are not sheltered from the effects of precariatism because as the salaries disappear to be replaced with lower, precarious wages, the tax base will continue to shrink.  It won’t be that we don’t want to pay for social security. It will be that we just can’t anymore.

The 99% don’t want to live a precarious life.  We know who was responsible for the ruination of the American middle class.  We focus on the robber barons of Wall Street now but come November 2012, with a handful of notable exceptions in Congress, they ALL have to go, Obama included.

What the OccupyWallStreet protestors object to is the increasing economic injustice forced on the precariat and what they demand is that it stop.

69 Responses

  1. Oh yes, I see this word in the French press a *lot*: http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pr%C3%A9cariat

    • I don’t think the whip kissers get it yet. THAT’S what is going to happen to *them* if they don’t fall in with the rest of the 99%.

      • Oh no, surely not the “self-righteous” ones. That would be so unfair. Bad things are only supposed to happen to the undeserving.


    • It’s an ongoing issue here. A big focus of the unions is to stop abuse of the ‘CDD’, the work contract of limited duration. They are pushing to get all these folks strung along indefinitely on renewed CDDs converted to CDI, a regular open-ended contract. I think the social benefits for CDD and CDI are very different, but I don’t know for sure. I have a lot of learning to do yet.

  2. I was a precariat for the Johnson County Library for 5 years. I worked part time for 40 hours a week…. until about this time of year when the budget money ran dry and I’d be cut back to 20 hours a week — just in time for Christmas. It was a crazy period where I’d work 20 days straight with never the same schedule.

    • Companies have been doing their best to put that system in place since the ’70s. The worse the economy gets, the better luck they have with it.

    • I think the worse, or at least the longest, abuse of precariats occurs in higher ed where tens of thousands of faculty are employed “part-time” with virtually no job protection or recourse. These abuses have been going for at least fifty years.

  3. This may get very interesting for the NYC court system.

    Epic Court Battle Looms As 700 Protesters Arrested On Brooklyn Bridge Push For Trial

    Attorneys from the National Lawyers Guild representing Occupy Wall Street protesters may turn down an offer from the Manhattan District Attorney to dismiss charges from their demonstration on the Brooklyn Bridge, according to Bloomberg.

    In other words, Ladies and Gentleman, this could be a huge show. 780 people were arrested during that protest, and five have already sued the city, Mayor Bloomberg, and Police Commissioner Ray Kelly for violating their constitutional right to civil disobedience

  4. So, when does “occupy” start turning their focus to the real crux of the problem…the politicians?

    • I’ve seen several posts that they plan a convention in Philadelphia next summer. There will be delegates from every congressional district.
      As far as I’m concerned, they are already focusing on the politicians.
      What I think some observers are failing to get is that before you can get rid of the politicians, you have to have a movement that sees their removal as a vital part of survival. But you can’t get a movement together based on political parties because this nation is almost evenly divided by partisan politics. We know that neither party is the good guy but that Republicans really are trying to gut the American economy for profit. But it doesn’t matter because the right wing media has people so inflamed that they can’t have a decent conversation.
      So, you need something that will unite as many people as possible in a movement. That would be Wall Street in this case. And there is a valid reason for this. Wall Street is a huge part of the problem. It drives politics and business. The pharmaceutical industry is laying off people to its detriment and they are doing it at Wall Street’s behest. You’ve got the CEO of Merck vainly pleading with the financial giants to leave the company alone while it gets R&D going again and even Merck is going to have to re-organize. But the banks have their mitts in everything. Can’t pay your mortgage because you haven’t got a job? The crash of 2008 probably has something to do with that. Can’t pay off your crushing student loan debt? The banks are using student loans as a profit making industry. It goes on and on and on. There is virtually no one in America who hasn’t been blighted by their gambling away of our money.
      That’s where you get a movement. And now that it is started, it has to keep picking up people until it is impossible to ignore.
      Then, we take on the politicians.

      • Then, we take on the politicians.

        In 2014.

        When all of this will be a done deal.

        And on what basis will the delegates be voting if there is to be no discussion of politics before the convention? How will they be able to vote the will of their constituents when they have no obvious way to discern what that is? What basis will there be for Occupy participants to choose between prospective delegates, if they have no political stances?

        • And what are YOU going to do?
          Nothing is set in stone. A lot can change between now and then.
          You can either sit at home and bitch about it cynically or you can get out there at an occupation and try to persuade them to focus on 2012.
          Those are your choices. Pick one but don’t complain later if you decided to sit it out.

          • A lot can change between now and then.

            Yes, that’s kind of the point.

            You can either sit at home and bitch about it cynically or you can get out there at an occupation and try to persuade them to focus on 2012.
            Those are your choices. Pick one but don’t complain later if you decided to sit it out.

            I can only disagree with OWS’s tatics provided that I join it? Uh…

          • I think what RD meant, and from my standpoint anyway, you are free to disagree with whatever you want. However, since I’m not in any position to do anything with those disagreements, it’s not helpful to only tell me about them.

            If you want to change OWS positions, you’ll have to do that through them.

          • However, since I’m not in any position to do anything with those disagreements, it’s not helpful to only tell me about them.

            If you want to change OWS positions, you’ll have to do that through them.

            You and RD are already in OWS. If you aren’t in a position to do anything these matters, why would I be in any better a position if I were to join it?

          • You have as much influence on OWS as I do. And I’m not “in” it. There is no registration. You just show up, show your solidarity with the rest of the 99% and start talking to people. The most important thing is showing up. If you are a normal, everyday average person, that’s even better.
            This is not rocket science.
            This is how movements get started. You find a nucleation site, granulation starts to form, the movement coalesces. It forms a structure that is suitable to its function. This is a pretty good way to do it. The method has had precedents. Who knows what will come of it?
            BUT if you sit it out and let the crunchy granola types run the show, well, you know where that’s going to get us. So, go. No one’s going to fire you for just checking it out.

          • I wondered how I would know if I was “in” or not. Hard to tell the players without a scorecard I guess 🙂

          • You just show up, show your solidarity with the rest of the 99% and start talking to people.

            But I apparently won’t be allowed to discuss “politics”, so I’m not sure how I’m supposed to make the substance of my objections known.

          • I think you can talk about your concern that not engaging in politics next year is a mistake. You might also say that neither party is addressing the problem of economic injustice and you think that something needs to be done about that no later than 2012. You might ask if there is a working group to explore the possibility of a third party and if there isn’t, you could start one. Or you might propose a working group on voting strategies that would be the most effective in getting the desired result.
            Nothing the Occupy movement does will make me want to vote for Obama. Nothing.
            You are likely to find a lot of people thinking that way.

    • Why do you think the politicians are the real crux of the problem? Do you believe government is inherently evil and they somehow control Wall Street?
      I came to believe politics are just another Wall Street tool, meant to divide the 99%.
      Not that I don’t think most politicians are corrupt – Ds, Rs the lot. But in the power pecking order they are the performers in a play written by the banks.

      • No, it’s the other way around. The politicians are owned by Wall Street. They are employed by Wall Street.
        Yes, the politicians are the problem. Wall Street could never have gotten away with this without the politicians clearing the way and deregulating so that the financial industry can play with our money and lives with impunity.
        There are plenty of examples where the will of the people have gotten rid of bad politicians and good things have followed from that. It is by no means impossible.
        One of the last examples was in 1964 when the number of Republicans in Congress was reduced to such an insignificant number that they couldn’t obstruct any legislation. We got Medicare out of that.

      • The problem may have many cruxes. That’s the problem with multi-crux problems. Perhaps the best each one of us can do is to pick the crux we understand the best and have the best idea how to change,
        and then beat on that crux with a tire iron.

  5. I think this approach may backfire on them…too many negative stories in the media…plus, I recently got personal observations from my daughter. First you have to have politicians who actually care and they make everyone fall in line.

    Also, I find it difficult to believe that “everyone” will be on board just reading your statements about unions, republicans, etc. That really makes me feel you don’t want a conversation…you (I say that in the plural sense) already have the answers. Lots of people in this country stubbornly clinging to their party affiliation…when most of us already know, both parties have been co-opted and don’t resemble the party of our youth. Hard to get people to give up that label…I see it here everyday – and other blogs too.

    Good luck…however, I hope no one plans to crap on my lawn…I have enough problems, I don’t need the drummers keeping me up after bedtime or anyone blocking the bridge on my way home from work or offering underage girls (my daughter) all the alcohol they can drink.

    • Continue occupying your living room. You’re obviously already doing all you can.

      • Sorry…I’m too busy trying to feed my family, pay bills, etc now that hubby has been out of work…I shouldn’t even be doing my job considering I’m legally blind…but hey, what’s a little thing like a disability when you’re trying to survive.

        I really didn’t say “you” were wrong…just not seeing this approach as working in the long term.

        And please, don’t get all smart ass on me…I didn’t say anything personal or derogatory to anyone here.

        • You accused the occupiers of serving alcohol to underaged girls (as if no other group in the world has ever done such a thing) and I am here to tell you that I have never witnessed ANYONE at an occupy event in NYC drinking alcohol. Alcohol is strictly forbidden in Zuccotti park and alcohol is confiscated.

          If you are really as bad off as you say you are, then the occupiers are representing you. If you want to make sure that the normal looking people outnumber the few but noisy abnormal people, then it is YOUR responsibility to show up to a rally or a march. They will not bite.

          • The underage drinking story comes from my daughter…the tent had a large sign that read TAVERN and a guy came out offering them alcohol and inviting them into the tent…and I never said anything about Zuccotti Park. But read what you like into my post…

            The rush to judgement is all too clear…you don’t know anything about me or my life. In trying to understand what is going on with Occupy, I read from various sources and I now have a couple of personal observations from my daughter. There are some bad elements co-opting th group…the fringe elment is everywhere. But keep proving my point…no one wants to have a conversation…it’s either you’re with us or against us.

            I’m going back to my ever depressing life now; I’ll try to keep my urge to comment in check.


          • Do not condemn the work of so many because of the actions of a few individuals. I don’t know where this tavern was but at Zuccotti, there is no drinking.

            I advise you to go to an occupation. This think will only work if people like you show up to it. There’s nothing worse than sitting around depressed thinking there is no way out. You need to go there. There are regular people at occupy events.

    • Oh, yes, by all means, believe everything the media has to say about Occupy events. The media has never steered you wrong in the past. {{Cough..Iraq War…Cough…George Bush}}

      I’ve posted plenty of pictures and a video of my trips to Zuccotti park. I’ve marched with them. I’ve spent hours in the park with them. You can believe me, since I’ve actually, you know, BEEN there and not as a reporter working for a multibillion dollar media corporation, or you can believe the media that might have, shall we say, a conflict of interest?

      Ooooo, look at all the drunken weirdos:

      Whatever. Go haunt some Glenn Beck page. The precarianism will catch up to soon enough.

      • Good luck to you too…

        • I apologize for what I posted in reply to you earlier. I intended it to be a joke but it came out all wrong. Sorry.

          • No problem…that’s the difficulty with trying to convey a complete thought annonymously…you don’t know me, I don’t know you, we miss the gestures, facial expressions, tone and volume…it’s all good.

  6. via FDL: Eric Schneiderman Delivers Eloquent Defense of the Rule of Law

    It’s really not all that obtuse… this was a man-made crisis, it was caused by regulatory neglect and greed… we think we’re going to be able to obtain real, meaningful relief… we think we have to hold accountable the people who caused this disaster, and just as important, we gotta get this out in the open so they can’t rewrite history.

    New York’s Attorney General has it absolutely right.

  7. Just a reminder:

    Happy 64th Birthday to S.O.S. Hillary Rodham Clinton (who should be President…)

    May she have a great day, and enjoy many more birthdays!

  8. This is a pretty ambitious project they’re trying to get going. Hope they can do it cause it could be a good resource.


  9. In the ’80’s , “status symbol” meant having a high-end BMW and a stylish dog. In the dubble-0’s and beyond, “status symbol” means having a full time job with benefits. The various OWSer camps and sites and virtual digital information nodes and cyber gathering places are where this kind of knowledge can deepen and spread out from.
    Hundreds or even thousands of breakout-groups can think about hundreds or even thousands of specific legal and/or administrative remedies for specific facets and aspects of the problem. But first people have to understand all the dimensions of the problem, and articles like this are a good start.

    It reminds me of a cartoon I saw in the National Lampoon magazine once, a re-working of the old Hindu wisdom-story of the blind men and the elephant.

    ” An elephant is like a tree-trunk. no, an elephant is like a sail, no an elephant is like a sail, no an elephant is like a spear, noan elephant is like a wall, no an elephant is soft and mushy.” Understanding all aspects of the elephant and their seamless connection with/to eachother will help us analyse and solve the elephant problem more comprehensively.

    My test for whether I will vote for any of my officeholders seeking re-election will be whether they supported or opposed Free Trade and if so, how often. A legacy Congressperson or Senator who voted against NAFTA and WTO membership and MFN for China is pretty good. If he/she voted against the “three little NAFTAs” of today, they are even better. Probably other things should be considered as well.
    Any officeholder who voted for the “bankruptcy deform bill” of the late 1990’s I think, helped vote to engineer the debt-cropper society of today. I would have a lot of trouble voting for Stabenow because of her firm support for the New Debtcropper Society. But if she voted consistently against Free Trade, I might vote for her again anyway. I will have to look into that.

  10. Occupy Oakland: Iraq war veteran in critical condition after police clashes

    “It’s terrible to go over to Iraq twice and come back injured, and then get injured by the police that are supposed to be protecting us,” he said.

    He said Olsen had served two tours of Iraq, in 2006 and 2007. Olsen was in 3rd Battalion, 4th Marines with Shannon before leaving the military in 2010.

    He moved to the San Francisco area in July and works for Opswat, a software company, living with Shannon in Daly City, just south of San Francisco.

    Shannon said Olsen was hit in the head by a tear gas canister or smoke canister shot by a police officer. He said Olsen had a curved scar on his forehead consistent with a canister.

    Protesters who had accompanied Olsen to Highland hospital got in touch with Shannon through Facebook, after Olsen said he lived with someone called “Keith”. Shannon said he was told Olsen was unable to say his surname.

    Olsen is originally from Wisconsin and some of his family were planning to fly out to California to be with him, Shannon said.

    Video footage published to YouTube shows Olsen lying prone on the ground infront of a line of police. Around 10 people gather around him in an apparent attempt to provide aid, before a police officer throws an explosive device into their midst, scattering the group. Footage captured after the explosion, which appears to be from a flash bang grenade, shows Olsen being carried away by a group of people.

    The damage that took place during that well watched youtube clip which has been celebrated on some blogs. F**k every one of them.

    • I haven’t seen the video yet. I assume the video will make very clear whether he was wearing his Marines uniform or not when the officer targeted him. One hopes that particular officer’s name will be discovered and made known to all of Olsen’s brothers in arms, so they can . . . you know . . . write letters of stern disapproval to the perpetrating officer’s superiors.

      • He wasn’t in uniform but that won’t matter. The video is the one where the flash bang is thrown into the group of people surrounding the downed man. They targeted the protestors who were trying to pick up the wounded man and take him away. Later video shows those protestors carrying him to an ambulance.

      • Here’s a highlighted video…

  11. Please, please, please let this be true!

    Chelsea Clinton Mulls Congressional Run from New York State; 18th District in Westchester County Considered Likely Choice

    Talk of the Sound has learned that Chelsea Clinton may run for Congress next year.

    Clinton has been approached by “the right people” in the New York Democratic Party, according to one source in Albany. While no decision has been made, Clinton is said to be “actively considering” a Congressional run from New York State in 2012

  12. REALITY!!

    ( http://my.firedoglake.com/iflizwerequeen/2011/05/16/how-about-a-little-truth-about-what-the-majority-want-for-health-care/ )

    ( Gov. Peter Shumlin: Real Healthcare reform — http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8yFUbkVCsZ4 )

    ( Health Care Budget Deficit Calculator — http://www.cepr.net/calculators/hc/hc-calculator.html )

    ( Briefing: Dean Baker on Boosting the Economy by Saving Healthcare http://t.co/fmVz8nM )


    As you all know. Had congress passed a single-payer or government-run robust Public Option CHOICE! available to everyone on day one, our economy and jobs would have taken off like a rocket. And still will. Single-payer would be best. But a government-run robust Public Option CHOICE! that can lead to a single-payer system is the least you can accept. It’s not about competing with for-profit healthcare and for-profit health insurance. It’s about replacing it with Universal Healthcare Assurance. Everyone knows this now.

    The message from the midterm elections was clear. The American people want real healthcare reform. They want that individual mandate requiring them to buy private health insurance abolished. And they want a government-run robust public option CHOICE! available to everyone on day one. And they want it now.

    They want Drug re-importation, and abolishment, or strong restrictions on patents for biologic and prescription drugs. And government controlled and negotiated drug and medical cost. They want back control of their healthcare system from the Medical Industrial Complex. And they want it NOW!


    For-profit health insurance is extremely unethical, and morally repugnant. It’s as morally repugnant as slavery was. And few if any decent Americans are going to allow them-self to be compelled to support such an unethical and immoral crime against humanity.

    This is a matter of National and Global security. There can be NO MORE EXCUSES.

    Further, we want that corrupt, undemocratic filibuster abolished. Whats the point of an election if one corrupt member of congress can block the will of the people, and any legislation the majority wants. And do it in secret. Give me a break people.

    Also, unemployment healthcare benefits are critically needed. But they should be provided through the Medicare program at cost, less the 65% government premium subsidy provided now to private for profit health insurance.

    Congress should stop wasting hundreds of millions of dollars of taxpayer money on private for profit health insurance subsidies. Subsidies that cost the taxpayer 10x as much or more than Medicare does. Private for profit health insurance plans cost more. But provide dangerous and poorer quality patient care.



    This is what the American people are shouting at you. Both parties have just enough power now to do what the American people want. GET! IT! DONE! NOW!

    If congress does not abolish the individual mandate. And establish a government-run public option CHOICE! before the end of 2011. EVERY! member of congress up for reelection in 2012 will face strong progressive pro public option, and anti-individual mandate replacement candidates.

    Strong progressive pro “PUBLIC OPTION” CHOICE! and anti-individual mandate volunteer candidates should begin now. And start the process of replacing any and all members of congress that obstruct, or fail to add a government-run robust PUBLIC OPTION CHOICE! before the end of 2011.

    We need two or three very strong progressive volunteer candidates for every member of congress that will be up for reelection in 2012. You should be fully prepared to politically EVISCERATE EVERY INCUMBENT that fails or obstructs “THE PUBLIC OPTION”. And you should be willing to step aside and support the strongest pro “PUBLIC OPTION” candidate if the need arises.

    ASSUME CONGRESS WILL FAIL and SELLOUT again. So start preparing now to CUT THEIR POLITICAL THROATS. You can always step aside if they succeed. But only if they succeed. We didn’t have much time to prepare before these past midterm elections. So the American people had to use a political shotgun approach. But by 2012 you will have a scalpel.

    Congress could have passed a robust government-run public option during it’s lame duck session. They knew what the American people wanted. They already had several bills on record. And the house had already passed a public option. Departing members could have left with a truly great accomplishment. And the rest of you could have solidified your job before the 2012 elections.

    President Obama, you promised the American people a strong public option available to everyone. And the American people overwhelmingly supported you for it. Maybe it just wasn’t possible before. But it is now.

    Knock heads. Threaten people. Or do whatever you have to. We will support you. But get us that robust public option CHOICE! available to everyone on day one before the end of 2011. Or We The People Of The United States will make the past midterm election look like a cake walk in 2012. And it will include you.

    We still have a healthcare crisis in America. With hundreds of thousands dieing needlessly every year in America. And a for profit medical industrial complex that threatens the security and health of the entire world. They have already attacked the world with H1N1 killing thousands, and injuring millions. And more attacks are planned for profit, and to feed their greed.

    Spread the word people.

    Progressives, prepare the American peoples scalpels. It’s time to remove some politically diseased tissues.

    God Bless You my fellow human beings. I’m proud to be one of you. You did good.

    See you on the battle field.


    jacksmith – WorkingClass 🙂

  13. US cops tried to erase online evidence of brutality

    Google has been asked by a US law enforcement agency to remove several videos exposing police brutality from the video sharing service YouTube, the company has revealed in its latest update to an online transparency report.

    Another request filed by a different agency required Google to remove videos allegedly defaming law enforcement officials. The two requests were among 92 submissions for content removal by various authorities in the US filed between January and June 2011. Both were rejected by Google along with 27 per cent of the submissions.

    • One hopes the video-makers (and every sufficiently skilled and prepared video watcher who sees these videos) can re-record them and preserve them onto storage media beyond the Long Arm of the Google or anyone else. They could be stored up and then replicated onto millions of flash drives or thumb drives or discs or whatever the relevant copy/transport/playback media appliances are. They could be suitably captioned, intro’d, postscripted, etc. They could be spread around in their millions the way tapes of the Ayatollah Khomeini were smuggled into the Shah’s Iran and then copied by the millions and spread all over Iran.
      Google will probably hasten to comply with “takedown” orders the way many digital collaborators hasten to obey such orders in Corporate Red China. The authorities will practice with such takedown orders covering wider and wider categories of things to prepare the population for general Internet ShutDown Orders or Governmental Server-Farm Occupation/Shutdown Orders. Perhaps millions of digitally aware and skilled citizens should be ready to recieve, burn many copies of, and then pass on down the spreading info-replication-tree all such sensitive videos, texts, etc.; which the authorities will want to prevent the citizens from recieving. Perhaps such “netizens” should think about how to create a “human internet” of
      “”connected people” based on how the Ayatollaranians did it during the Shah’s time, how the Polish Solidarity Movement did it under Communist Occupation, etc.

      “Da, comrade. We catapult the samizdata.”

    • I tried leaving a reply, but the Interweb goblins ate it. I will try again briefer.
      These videos should be copied onto as many discs, thumb drives, flash drives, etc. as possible (As an analog refugee in this digital world, I hope I am even using the right terms). The Movement Citizens
      should study how information and contact was passed and maintained by Ayatollah Khomeini’s fans under Shah’s Iran, by the Polish Solidarity Movement members under Communist Occupation, etc. Network-knowledgeable members of this movement should learn how to organize themselves into a “human internet of people” to preserve and pass around millions of copies of these videos so that The Long Arm of the Google cannot reach them and erase them.

      ” Da , comrade. We catapult the samizdata.”

  14. Just let it go …

  15. testing, testing . .

  16. If those forced to live in the permanent danger-zone of short-term minijobs can be called Precarians, might those who still have long-term
    permajobs (even if only part-time) be called Securians? In honor of the job-security they have? And if the conceptual classification of job-holders into Precarians and Securians takes hold, will the Precarians seek to destroy job security for the Securians or will the Precarians admire/respect and seek to regain the job-security that the Securians still have? I hope the Precarians will accept the job-security that the Securians still have and will further try to win back that job-security for themselvees as well. Then I hope the Securians will be nice enough and smart enough to want to see job-security restored to the Precarians as well, also.

    Defending and extending job-security will have to be done at the society-wide level AND at the personal behavior level. Policy level? —
    many smart people will offer good ideas and battle plans. Personal leve?–not enough currently still-employed people think about how their own spending behavior can defend and extend job security for others. For example, how many people pay all their bills by digital online direct payment methods? Millions and millions. That means hundreds of millions of post office stamps not bought for bills not sent in the mail. Meanwhile, the U.S. Postal Service approaches the system-extermination engineered for it by legislation passed during the Bush Administration to force it to pre-fund over the next 10 years the cost of postal worker pensions due to be paid out over the next 75 years (if I understand what I read about the law). What can be done about this? Politically, nothing. But if 50 million direct digital billpayers
    all went back to paying their bills by mail, would that give the U.S. Postal Service enough money to avoid the looming mass jobicide of 250,000 heretofore job-secure full-time wage-earners? Does the experiment deserve to be tried? I think it does. I still pay all my bills by U.S. landmail. Let 50 million other billpayers do likewise, and a fortress of Securianism will not fall to the Forced Precarianizers.

    • By the way, what’s the vernacular American word for “precarians”?

      disposable rent-a-slaves?

    • The concept of a securian is a myth. There is no such thing. The only people who are secure are the people who don’t need jobs.

      • In some way what he poses should be considered. The right managed to undermine union benefits like pensions, decent wages, and benefits by dividing union people from non union people. I see no reason to believe they won’t continue along this route.

        It’s an ugly, ugly future we’re heading towards if we don’t get some decent leadership soon.

      • Hmmmm . . . .

        Maybe I have no bussiness feeling as semi-secure as I have permitted myself to feel. My first few years out of college I was a dishwasher/security guard/etc. I felt very poor and insecure. Then I went to Community College and got a pharmacy technician job at a major midwestern academic hospital. I have had the same job for 26 years. Many years ago a supervisor tried conspiring to force me out and I felt very insecure. Over the last two years the new current supervisor has “liked me but not my work” and I have felt insecure again. But just lately he is hearing from people all around me that they like my work so I am feeling a bit more secure again.

        The big university med schools and their academic hospitals still retain the vestiges of a pre-capitalist feudal ethic. Be a good high-value serf and serf away loyally, and you will be somewhat secure and benefitted by the Lords of the Hospital. Its a little less inhuman than the dog eat cat eat mouse eat cheese world of Corporate Capitalist enterprise. Especially when it has a pack of financialist sea lampreys stuck to its side. But yes, a deepening povertyconomy all around us could impoverish the hospital enough to where the Lord’s Keeper of the Jobs calls a bunch of us in and says: we like your work, but your jobs have all been fired. Precarity can strike from above.

        But I think precarity-security may be a continuum with some security at one end ranging to pure precarity at the other end. Those
        who are at the semi-secure end ( I have a job until precarity strikes and then I don’t) really should try to understand and enhance security for themselves and eachother, and then for others. That’s why I made my suggestion that everyone who currently pays bills by direct payment should go back to mailing their bills to restore that revenue stream to the US Postal Service. Those jobs were secure until a deliberate conspiracy was launched to try destroying the Postal Service completely in order to fire those jobs and precaritize those people. Currently they are a line-holding fortress under siege, and they should be supported, in part to preserve them as a social base-camp from which Securian raids may be launched against the Precarianist Occupation Regime.

        And those who still have a secure-feeling job should live below their means if they can (and only some of them can), and turn their excess money into personal survivalist wealth of various sorts. I myself have been lifting a finger (though not lifting the other nine) towards that goal.

    • Or you could just tax every online bill paying transaction for the cost of a stamp and designate the money to pay for postal workers’ pensions. Then we wouldn’t be using gasoline to drive to the post office. Of course, you’d have to trust the government not to “borrow” the money to pay for something else. But turning back the clock on technology is not going to be winning strategy. We could put a lot of people back to work if we made all long distance phone calls “operator assisted” like they used to be, but how to do think that would fly with the iPhone generation?

      • You know, Ellie, that we wouldn’t have to “borrow” so much money if the people making over $250,000 would pay more in taxes like they did during the Clinton administration.

        Besides, the postal service still delivers mail to every house in the country at a very affordable cost. If you don’t believe you’re getting a bargain, just try to send a package to Hawaii via FedEx vs USPS.

        BTW, Ellie, what exactly do you do for a living? Do you have a job? Presumably you would want to get the pension promised to you when you started work if you had a job, wouldn’t you? Does that seem unreasonable to you to actually want to get the compensation you deferred for your senior years? Or is it only unreasonable now to pay it back because so much of those pension funds have been squandered away by lowering the taxes on the wealthy?

        Even in NJ, $250,000 is a lot of money. You can live pretty well on that and still not suffer negative consequences from a tax increase.

        So, what do you do for a living, Ellie?

    • The USPS hasn’t been hiring replacement union workers for quite some time. A lot of their “employees” now are contractors.

      • I did not know that.

        • Yep, the mail carrier in my neighborhood is a contractor. My daughter in law’s father is a long time postal employee and he says they’ve been doing it for years.

    • I still pay all my bills by U.S. landmail. Let 50 million other billpayers do likewise, and a fortress of Securianism will not fall to the Forced Precarianizers.

      That wouldn’t fly; the leveredge is wrong.

      The reason I pay by paper is proof of payment. It’s hard enough getting a copy of your cancelled check, but still possible, especially if you routinely go through every online statement and click on several buttons to print the image of each check.

      But that’s something to think about if you want to close your account with a Big Bank. If they’ve been making electronic payments for you and and later you need proof, how much cooperation will you get from a bank that you publically fired? Better asap switch to some payment method that gives you a paper trail.

  17. You saw this with the advent of temp agencies back in the mid 1970’s.

    What has come to pass is the result of manufacturing being moved off shore in the search of instant profits. Never mind the entirely predictable outcome. The MBAs that started this had to know what the results would be forty years later and just didn’t care because by then they would be cashed out of the system. Either that or MBAs are woefully ignorant and should be put in charge of a lemonade stand let alone big business.

    • No, they do not care. And they have convinced themselves that we are undeserving of a living wage. That way, they have to care even less if they screw around with our working lives.

  18. What is the generic name for these contracting middleman agencies like ManPower, Kelly Services, etc.? Are they called “placement agencies”?

    When we get to the point of thinking through what specific remedies for this class of problems might be, here is a suggestion I have. Legally force the placement agencies to withhold the “employEE’s half” of the Social Security payment and send it in to the Social Security Administration. And also, legally force the “placement agencies” to PAY into the SSA THEIR half of the SS tax for every contingent employee they contract for. In other words, treat the
    Placement Service exactly the same as any other employER for SS taxpayment purposes. And we could work out from there imposing employER responsibilites on these “Placement Agencies” in every other area of employment law and practice. It woldn’t solve the precarity problem, but it would solve the more narrowly defined Placement Agency responsility-dodging problem.

  19. Very good post. Of course, none of this would be a *real* problem if we had a guaranteed living-wage income and universal health care. Then the “mobile, project-by-project, just-in-time” worker model would be fine. The issue is that in the US, a job is required for non-subsistence living.

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