• Tips gratefully accepted here. Thanks!:

  • Recent Comments

    Sweet Sue on Late August
    Ivory Bill Woodpecke… on Late August
    riverdaughter on Late August
    Roger on Late August
    Ivory Bill Woodpecke… on Stroll: Swedish Pop
    pm317 on Monday: Us and Them.
    pm317 on Monday: Us and Them.
    Ivory Bill Woodpecke… on Monday: Us and Them.
    Ivory Bill Woodpecke… on Monday: Us and Them.
    pm317 on Monday: Us and Them.
    Ivory Bill Woodpecke… on Monday: Us and Them.
    Ivory Bill Woodpecke… on Monday: Us and Them.
    riverdaughter on Monday: Us and Them.
    pm317 on Monday: Us and Them.
    Ga6thDem on Sunday: It goes without s…
  • Categories


  • Tags

    abortion Add new tag Afghanistan Al Franken Anglachel Atrios bankers Barack Obama Bernie Sanders big pharma Bill Clinton cocktails Conflucians Say Dailykos Democratic Party Democrats Digby DNC Donald Trump Donna Brazile Economy Elizabeth Warren feminism Florida Fox News General Glenn Beck Glenn Greenwald Goldman Sachs health care Health Care Reform Hillary Clinton Howard Dean John Edwards John McCain Jon Corzine Karl Rove Matt Taibbi Media medicare Michelle Obama Michigan misogyny Mitt Romney Morning Edition Morning News Links Nancy Pelosi New Jersey news NO WE WON'T Obama Obamacare OccupyWallStreet occupy wall street Open thread Paul Krugman Politics Presidential Election 2008 PUMA racism Republicans research Sarah Palin sexism Single Payer snark Social Security Supreme Court Terry Gross Texas Tim Geithner unemployment Wall Street WikiLeaks women
  • Archives

  • History

    September 2012
    S M T W T F S
    « Aug   Oct »
     1
    2345678
    9101112131415
    16171819202122
    23242526272829
    30  
  • RSS Paul Krugman: Conscience of a Liberal

  • The Confluence

    The Confluence

  • RSS Suburban Guerrilla

  • RSS Ian Welsh

    • Trump Commits To Afghanistan
      Well, this directly violates a core promise and is stupid besides being a betrayal. But I see various pundits going on about how Presidential he is to “admit” he was wrong to want to leave and to decide to kill lots of people in an unwinnable war. Trump needs and wants approval, and killing foreigners […]
  • Top Posts

Exit, Voice, loyalty and the Instance of the Fingerpost.

Were they really the same?

Last night I stumbled on a bunch of tweets between Matt Stoller and Jay Rosen.  I don’t know if you guys have been noticing this lately but it appears that the former Obama fans in the left blogosphere from 2008 have been freaking out about the tight spot they’re in.  It’s a bit of “Should I stay or should I go?  If I stay there will be trouble, if I go there will be double”.  I sympathize with them because I went through this same dilemma 4 years ago but I’ll get to that in a second.

Wnat seems to have finally tipped them past the zero point is the issue of drones.  I have a very Tolkienish attitude towards war.  It’s bad and I don’t worship it.  But I do worship the innocents who I feel responsible for, which means just about anyone trapped in war zone, under the threat of genocide or crimes against humanity (invading Iraq didn’t qualify in my humble opinion and the evidence used to get us into it was all lies anyway). And I think we have an obligation to help those people with military assistance or humanitarian aid.  That’s just me.  Your mileage may vary.

But I can say unequivocally that I do not support the use of drones, ever.  The principle is clear: drones represent a disembodied use of power with virtually no accountability or consequences to the persons who use them.  They are, therefore, easily abused.  It might start with people in Pakistan you don’t like but there is nothing to stop the drone owners from using them on other groups they don’t like.  One abuse, even 6000 miles away, is the tiny pebble that is dislodged that will bring the mountain down on you.  I’ll even go so far as to say that I think that countries that use drones should be sanctioned by the international community.  Oh, yes, I do.  It’s not so much that we have become war criminals.  It’s that we have become a threat to any free people who gets in our way, including our own citizens.   So, yeah, I’m pretty down with them about drones.

But as to whether it makes sense to exit the political process, voice your opinion or stay loyal in a political environment where it appears your vote doesn’t matter, there is only one answer that makes sense: you must speak up, even at personal risk to yourself. That might mean voting for a third party.  But given the situation we’re in and the ramping up of authoritarianism, to not speak up now while you still have a voice would be counterproductive.

However, I still don’t think the Stollers, Rosens and  Ackroyds fully understand how we got to this point and until they realize where they went wrong, they may not be able to fix their current situation because they appear to be focusing on personalities and associations and not on principles.  If this were merely a problem of Obama’s personality or competence, it would have been relatively easy to get rid of him early in the 2012 primary season.  But what we are experiencing is the aftermath of a coup where the avenues to changing the outcome have been blocked, sometimes from within the party, sometimes from the activist base that is blindly punching the wind, hoping to land a blow.

So, at the risk of being a drone about this, I want to briefly revisit the 2008 election season using the concept of the Instance of the Fingerpost.  I ran across this concept described by a philosopher of the scientific revolution, Frances Bacon, when I read the book An Instance of the Fingerpost by Iain Pears.  The concept is about how you distinguish between two things of apparently equal value.  Here is a description:

When in the investigation of any nature the understanding is so balanced as to be uncertain to which of two or more natures the cause of the nature in question should be assigned on account of the frequent and ordinary concurrence of many natures, instances of the fingerpost show the union of one of the natures with the nature in question to be sure and indissoluble, of the other to be varied and separable; and thus the question is decided, and the former nature is admitted as the cause, while the latter is dismissed and rejected. Such instances afford very great light and are of high authority, the course of interpretation sometimes ending in them and being completed. Sometimes these instances of the fingerpost meet us accidentally among those already noticed, but for the most part they are new, and are expressly and designedly sought for and applied, and discovered only by earnest and active diligence.

In other words, when you are trying to ascertain the true nature of something, you need to use your powers of observation and collect as much information about the thing as you can in order to make a judgement. And when you do, you will eventually find something regarding the true nature of your subject  that is so firmly intrinsic to it that it can’t be separated from it.  That instance is what sets it apart and tells you conclusively what its true nature is.

When I first started this blog in January 2008, I was a Clintonista but I was also a party loyalist.  That is, if the candidates were truly equal and had the same policies, Democratic principles etc, but differed only in approach or priorities, I would have had no problem voting for Barack Obama.  I stated as much somewhere  early on and for the first month or so blogging here, I tried very hard to maintain that position.

But then the observables became hard to ignore and I started to assign them to one candidate or the other.  In truth, they were not the same.  They were very different on policy, political philosophy and experience.  But I was still going to vote for the eventual nominee because the candidate was a Democrat and I was a loyalist.

That changed when I found my instance of the fingerpost.  In this case, it was the fact that Obama was incapable of winning the election without the aid of the DNC manipulating the votes of MI and FL.  Instead of seeing this as proof of Obama’s strength as a campaigner, I saw it as proof of his weakness.  The best that he could hope for, even with the strange apportionment of delegates in caucus states in 2008, was a tie.  But not only did he win the nomination, the party seems to have protested way too much about the viability of their other candidate.  They didn’t just sideline her, they humiliated her at the convention, denying her delegates a chance to vote for her on the first ballot.  It wasn’t just that they didn’t want a floor fight, they didn’t even want to acknowledge that she or her voters ever existed.  It was beyond what was reasonable. It was overkill.  On top of that was the scorched earth tactic that ran over women, all women, not just the candidates themselves.  It was bold, in your face, relentless, harsh, demeaning and we have been living with the fallout ever since.

But those were only the observables of an underlying unwholesomeness that had taken over the Democratic party that I had never witnessed before in my life.   The instance of the fingerpost was that when the party rewrote its rules to favor one candidate over another, the Obama campaign did not protest.  Whether you think that the Clintonistas should just get over it or not, you can not deny what happened.  The rules were rewritten in such a way so as to nullify the votes of one candidate’s voters because they were never able to achieve the critical mass in the public eye that would have made Clinton the obvious winner early on or even a legitimate contender later in the season. That’s what happened.  The process started early in the primary season, maybe even before the primary season began, but it solidified at the Convention.  If you were a Hillary Clinton voter in 2008, you might as well have stayed home during the primary season and not bothered with the canvassing and phone banking and rallies.  Your vote was either reassigned without your consent or not counted at all.  That is election fraud, in my opinion.  The party convinced voters that their primary elections were legitimate and then it turned around and invalidated the results in state after state.

So, I had to ask myself, what would I have done if it had been Howard Dean whose voters had gotten the shaft?  Would I still be angry?  I’d have to say I’d probably still be very concerned.  Because even though I don’t like Howard Dean, probably as much as Matt Stoller doesn’t like Hillary Clinton, if I saw that his campaign was doing its best to uphold the principle of fair reflection while the other campaign wasn’t, I’d support Dean’s challenges wholeheartedly.  Elections have to at least have the appearance of fairness or they’re pointless exercises.  It is my rule to NEVER, EVER vote for a candidate who messes around with the votes or nullifies elections such as was done with MI and FL in order to come out on top.  That was the instance.  You mess with the vote count and make some votes more equal than others, well, you’ve instantly earned my distrust.  How can I ever expect a candidate who is willing to do that to every respect by opinion or grievances or anything?  I can’t.

This is not just a case of political roughness.  And it’s not like one campaign was just really clever.  It was an act of aggression of one  candidate’s supporters against the other’s.  It was more like Kingmaking, with the more ruthless, violent opponent winning using every trick in the book and pulling out wads of cash when that wasn’t working.  Now, you might say that that’s just the way things work these days but I’m not interested in right by might.  I’m interested in a democratic process.  Besides, as I have said before, you can’t expect a candidate who ran like Ghenghis Khan to govern like Gandhi.  In Khan’s world, voters don’t matter.  I want to preserve the sanctity of the vote because as citizens, it is the only thing that gives us worth.  So, when someone violates that sanctity to game the system, that’s it for me.  His nature is revealed.

I also can’t trust him to stop with mere manipulation of delegate counts.  If he can get away with that and never be held accountable, then what is going to stop him from going even further?  (Notice I haven’t said anything about ACORN or any other nonsensical right wing meme.)If he didn’t get into office with the support of more than half of the party, what makes me think he even cares what we think?  And if his own supporters didn’t stop him, then he’s already hobbled them.  They need to stay onboard and be loyal in order to not lose face and power in the party infrastructure, or they come to their senses but realize that they are now powerless.  Separated from their natural allies in the party , i.e. the losing candidate’s voters, because of anger and resentment over the injustice of it all, they find themselves powerless, fewer in number and making excuses about why they made the decision to back the wrong candidate in the first place.  That’s not winning them any friends, by the way.  Meanwhile, the candidate goes on to represent his true constituency, the people who helped him buy off the rulemakers.  He is never held accountable because his party’s base is held hostage.

So while Matt and Jay muse over the right course of action, they should step back and think about what principles they think they are defending.  Matt, in particular, seems to have a severe case of Clinton Derangment Syndrome.  I don’t know why this is.  Maybe it’s the environment he’s in, the people he hangs out with, the glue he’s sniffing.  Whatever it is, it seems to be completely unhinged from reality.  He seems pretty damn set against Hillary Clinton in a way that I am not set against someone like Howard Dean as much as I dislike him.  I think this attitude has blinded people like him from taking the only possible actions this year that would have given them a voice. But in the Democratic party election scenario, the candidates are swappable.  Who they are is unimportant.  You can take any two Democrats and pit them together.  The one who attempts to game the system through vote manipulation reveals his true nature.  That is a candidate who sees elections as mere formalities, something that can be fixed or bought. He will lead his former supporters to despair that elections don’t count anymore.  And if the party could do it in 2008 without a fuss from the rank and file, they’ll do it again in the future.  You can count on it.

We all saw it, guys.  We were aware back in February of 2008 what was going on and what the DNC hoped to achieve.  The party was bought by the 1%, their malware candidate was installed and when the crash came, as they knew it would, he allowed them to go unpunished while he muted the voices of the citizens who needed and deserved better treatment.

You can exit, or voice but to stay loyal at this point in time is definitely not acting in your best interests.  The way back to sanity is not through a new hero or heroine.  It’s the long hard slog to restore the legitimacy of elections in every state.

And now, I’m done.

Geeks marching for their jobs

More on the  protests from Les Sanofi, the researchers in France who took to the streets when their jobs were threatened.  They’ve bought themselves some time.

In many ways, this march doesn’t look that different from an Occupy event.  But I am reminded of something Naomi Klein said about what it’s like to protest in the US, like there’s no oxygen here compared to Europe or the Middle East.  As soon as people start to agitate, the flame gets put out because there’s no place to go with your grievances.  No one will allow you any space, the propaganda machine cranks up to make you look like dirty subversives and if that doesn’t work, the DHS moves in to crack you skull and the Justice department subpoenas your tweets.

But in France, the only time the police step in is when the marchers want to march on a road.  There are other actions in France by Les Sanofi that are recorded in Montpellier where the marchers occupy a city square and lay down in it and no one moves in to arrest them.  I think that’s because as annoying as striking is to the French, there is still a critical mass that is in solidarity with them.  Check out what happens starting at minute mark 5:20.  It would be impossible to script something like that but quite easy to understand when citizens support each other.

What blows my mind is that these are employees protesting their management, something that is increasingly unheard of since Reagan fired the PATCO union.  Most employees know that to protest against your management here in the US means instant career death unless you belong to a union. It occurs to me that the reason we have had so many layoffs here in the US and why management in big pharma gets away with lying about researchers is that there *is* no oxygen for a protest and therefore no other side of the story.  We are invisible to the policy makers and press.

This country will pay for that.  If you don’t have free speech to protest what is important to you, like losing your job or losing your civil liberties, or your vote or your life from being put on a “kill list”, you haven’t got free speech or anything else of value.  Obama can go to the UN and give a speech on the concept but it means nothing if a cop in full body armor can randomly grab you out of a crowd, throw you to the ground, cuff you and cart you off to a holding facility just for trying to exercise your rights.

You whip kissers from the Crawdad Hole should take a good look at that video.  They’re just average people, with good jobs, nice families, neat little houses, there are a lot of PhDs in that crowd.  These are not deadbeats or bad employees or lazy workers. If these people had malicious intentions towards their company, they wouldn’t need to protest to bring Sanofi down. These are not stupid people. There are countless ingenious ways to bring the company to its knees.  But that’s not what this protest is about. As you can see from the banners, the protestors include Sanofi employee representatives from all over France.  And yet, they’re doing everything that you look down on.  They’re noisy, disrespectful, persistent.  And they are saving their jobs because they are organized and their government is aware of them.

You can’t argue with success.  Nothing in the US is going to turn around until a critical mass of ordinary people stand up for themselves.  You can’t expect young people and the extraordinarily brave to do it for you all the time.  The next time there’s an Occupy event, grab your labcoat and go.

What every Democrat should be asking: why aren’t our representatives fighting for workers the way French Minister Mountebourg is fighting for French workers?

Back in July of this year, just after French drug maker Sanofi announced the closure of several French research sites in France resulting in over 2000 layoffs of highly skilled French researchers, France’s productive recovery minister furiously defended those French researchers:

Ok, it’s in French but do you see how mad he is? THAT is what democracy looks like- an elected government standing up for the people who voted for it. When was the last time anyone in this country did that? Basically, what Montebourg is saying is that Sanofi’s actions are unacceptable, their plan came without warning and Mountebourg pretty much publicly shamed the company for doing it when it made 5€ billion in profits this year.

The French researchers fought back. For one thing, they’re represented by a very strong union and they’re allowed to protest without fear or retaliation. I should mention that the sanofi employees in the US that were laid off had no opportunity to protest because they all signed severance agreements which let them go away quietly in exchange for a payoff. The severance wasn’t nearly enough to make up for the loss of a job in the US where ybig pharma is rapidly turning researchers into low paid contractors and short term job hoppers.

The good news for the French workers is that only 900 jobs will be lost to attrition. The site that wa most under threat was Toulouse*. There will be a working group to discuss what will happen to it. But that wasn’t good enough for the government Minister Mountebourg who said yesterday, “Trade unions are right to say this is too much. The government says this is too much and we want guarantees for Toulouse.”. So, the company has to come up with a new restructuring plan by Oct 3, 2012.

One thing is for certain: there is very little actual research going on in the labs in France in this environment. People who are worried about losing their jobs are too preoccupied to concentrate well on projects that might be gone soon anyway. Of course, if work helps you take your mind off your worries, you’re probably in the zone right now. But this is something the big wigs at sanofi are probably not even considering. To them, it’s all about reducing costs, appeasing shareholders and getting big bonuses. If research underperforms because it is under stress and disorganized from restructuring after restructuring, they’ll just blame the lazy researchers. And in the US, nobody questioned them. The representatives, and state and federal governments just accepted it. No one ever questions management. But when you have to spend so much time and effort defending your right to practice your craft, you can see where actual work might get pushed aside temporarily while you protest and update your CV.

The bad news is that the new restructuring plan will hit the remaining US researchers whose numbers were vastly reduced last year when Sanofi closed their main US research facility in Bridgewater, NJ. The US researchers are worried. I know this because I get email.

What are the chances that a US government official or representative from MA or AZ is going to stand up on the floor of congress and demand that Sanofi stop foisting the burden of unemployment on these researchers and the taxpayers the way that Mountebourg did?

How many of the 100,000 research positions that have been lost since 2008 might have been saved if Democrats hadn’t acted like feckless cowards?

We may never know but we should be asking questions and demanding answers. The unemployment problem among researchers is pretty bad and we are pissed off with all the talk about sweeping more naive, young students into a career that won’t pay the rent.

I want answers as to why every representative from NJ, NY, CT, CA, DE, MD, MA and PA isn’t demanding that industrial research become accountable for the burden they place on the taxpayer and skilled professionals.

*Toulouse is a pretty nice site. New, modern building, up-to-date labs, great espresso bar on the second floor landing. Much nicer than the Vitry site buildings right outside of Paris, which look like they’re straight out of the 19th century. If anything, sanofi should be encouraging researchers to relocate to Toulouse and Montpellier where the cost of living might be less than in Paris. Montpellier is nicer than Vitry as well with facilities right near the Mediterranean. Just saying.

It’s Samuel Jackson who should, “Wake the f*ck up”

I have no intention of watching the Samuel Jackson video, but, I totally enjoyed the rebuttal!

Sanofi Scientists do a Haka

This is what happened in Toulouse, France when Sanofi planned to close the research facilities.  Not only did the union and their government officials get involved, the R&D staff did a haka.

Check out that last hand movement. It looks like they may have saved their jobs, at least temporarily.

We are such wooses here in the US.  We meekly accepted our fates as we were forced through the doors, like lambs to the slaughter.  We knew there was absolutely no one looking out for us and our severance packages would be revoked if we put up a fight.

There are more videos of their protest.  In a couple of them, they have made signs against some of the top management.  I’ll have to get the kid to translate for me but I don’t think they were saying nice things.  And they got away with it.  Incroyable!

Keep it up, guys!  Bravo Les Sanofi!

**********************************

And here’s the salsa they wrote called Salsa du pognon, which I think means The Money Salsa.

The last part of the song contains these lines:

on lache rien, non on lache rien
tant qu’y a de la lutte
y a de l’espoir
tant qu’y a de la vie
Y a du combat
tant qu’on se bat qu’on est debout
tant qu’on est debout on lachera pas

Which roughly translated mean:

you lose nothing, no nothing is lost
so what was the fight
there is hope
so what has life
There’s the fight
As we fight we are standing
As we are standing on let go

Google translate is not perfect but in this case, nothing is lost in translation

This is my favorite slogan:

Sauvez un chercheur
Mangez les actionnaire

Save a researcher, eat a shareholder.

Ohhh, so *that’s* why they call it ‘currency’

I was looking up Margaret Atwood videos on youtube and one thing lead to another, you know how it goes, when I ran across this one where Atwood shows the connection of debt to some of the English canon’s great pieces of literature.  Now that I understand how debt figures into the examples she cites here, I start to see it everywhere.  It’s all over Thomas Hardy novels, for example.  She talks about Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, F. Scott Fitzgerald and Madam Bovary.  Very interesting from just a literary point of view.

But in the middle of this interview she gets into the nitty gritty of how money works that is explained so simply that only the truly illiterate could fail to understand it.  I’m not sure that even this is enough to penetrate through the impregnable wall of deficit reduction hysteria that conservatives have built up but it’s worth a shot.  Here is Margaret Atwood explaining the role of debt in literature, what the word ‘currency’ actually means and its importance to the economy and society.

Big Pharma and the power of a union

French union scientists at Toulouse do a haka to protest salary and position cuts.
{{sniff}} I am so proud!

Derek Lowe at In The Pipeline wrote recently about French drugmaker Sanofi’s recent plans to close some sites in France.  I’ll get to that in a minute but first a little background.

A few weeks ago, Sanofi announced that it would be closing some French sites, the biggest site would be at Toulouse.  The closure would have put approximately 2300 scientists out on the unemployment rolls.  The Ministry that handles labor and unemployment had a fricking fit:

Besides unions, Sanofi has gotten an ear full from some government officials. With France’s economy struggling, the fact that Sanofi’s mother country was absorbing more of the pain, has not set well. French Productive Recovery Minister Arnaud Montebourg told senators when the cuts were first leaked: “Sanofi showed up at the ministry to tell us they were planning several thousand job cuts. Couldn’t you have said that earlier on? Last year you made €5 billion ($6.1 billion) in profits.”

And I’m sure that Sanofi would have cut elsewhere, if they had anywhere else to cut.  Last year, the company laid off all of the scientists at their main site in the US that was located in Bridgewater, NJ.  A couple dozen jobs were rescued and sent to the Cambridge, MA site, which is small, cramped and inadequate.  The rest of the projects were distributed to the French sites.  And do you want to know WHY the work went to the French sites and not to China (at least not yet)?  I’ll tell you why:

THE FRENCH SCIENTISTS ARE PROTECTED BY A UNION

Their union is pretty damn good too.  You could take every project away from them and have them just occupying the sites and playing tetris all day and the company would still have to pay them.  So, any time the company felt like research was being too much of a money pit, they took it out on the US workers until there weren’t any left.

This time, the unions threatened to strike and the French Productive Recovery Minister told the company that dumping French scientists on the labor market and relying on the government was not an option.  Usually, the companies who do business in France lay scientists off through attrition or generous early retirement packages.  A straight layoff , although rare, is still heavenly by American standards with terminated employees getting up to 80% of their salaries for 2 years and then able to go on the French public assistance program after that.  AND you don’t need to shell out half your unemployment on COBRA.  So, pretty sweet deal even if you’re being laid off.  You have time to find something else or go back to school for retraining or emigrate to Canada.  Your life isn’t thrown into an instant and chronic crisis.  And THAT, in turn, helps stabilize the rest of the economy.  The more people who can spend and keep demand up, the less of a hit the economy takes in newly unemployed people.

Anyway, it was still looking pretty grim for the French scientists until this week.  It looks like the Productive Recovery Ministry and the unions had an impact.  From Derek’s post:

here’s the announcement itself. And maybe this is my first impression, but compared to what’s gone on in other Sanofi sites (like Bridgewater), this one comes across like a shower of dandelion fluff. No reduction in the number of sites, no actual layoffs – just 900 positions to phase out, mostly via attrition, over the next two years. The Toulouse site is the only loose end; that one is the subject of a “working group” to figure out what it’s going to do, but I see no actual language about closing it.

Here’s more from FiercePharma’s article on the cutbacks in France:

A key official in France is keeping up pressure on Sanofi about its planned work force reductions in the country, sticking to the position that the drug giant ($SNY) hasn’t done enough to protect jobs. And French Industry Minister Arnaud Montebourg makes clear in reports today that he isn’t satisfied with how the company plans to secure the future of its R&D site in Toulouse.

Montebourg has been a thorn in the side of Sanofi. Early this week Sanofi softened its stance on job cuts in France, saying the company would seek to shrink its work force in the country by 900 jobs through early retirements and voluntary moves and transfers in the next few years, as opposed to the 2,300 to 2,500 jobs at the company previously estimated to be on the chopping block. Yet the minister and others keep harping on Sanofi’s unresolved plan for its Toulouse site, where 600 additional jobs hang in the balance.

Sanofi wants to part ways with research in Toulouse, and said earlier this week that it would work with stakeholders in the coming months to solidify plans to keep the operation alive, Reuters reported. That too fell short with Montebourg and unhappy Sanofi workers and labor officials.

“Trade unions are right to say this is too much,” Montebourg told BFM television, as reported by Reuters. “The government thinks this is too much and we want guarantees for Toulouse.”

Sanofi CEO Chris Viehbacher, who has reportedly met with the industry minister, has found resistance in his strategy to double down on productive R&D centers while making cutbacks at those that fail to meet expectations.

You know, if Chris Viehbacher wanted to preserve the company’s most productive sites, maybe he should have kept the US scientists on their tree-lined campuses instead of keeping them in a high state of suspense for several years, terminating their projects and then stupidly laying them off and closing the site.  No wonder the French Ministry doesn’t believe a single thing he says.

So, there you go, folks.  If you want to stand up to the bonus class and save your jobs, you need to get a union and the government behind you.  Or maybe just the government behind you.  You don’t need to work 24/7 like a maniacal drone on crack, cranking out work and trying to impress everyone working like crazy, singing, “I really need this job.  Oh, God, I need this job” to guys on Wall Street who don’t give a shit anyway.  No, you have your union representatives negotiate a contract that makes it extremely painful for the company to drop its commitment to you.

Not only that, but the union has to be very, very active and visible, like standing outside the cafeteria, handing out grievance pamphlets and making its presence very known to the management.  Imagine going to lunch to eat your company subsidized baguette, custom prepared omelet and glass of red wine and being greeted at the door by a union person dissing the management and getting away with it.  (Oh, yes, it really happens, I saw it with my own eyes.)  Take a look at that picture.  Does that look like a bunch of broken human beings, cowering under the whip they’ve been forced to kiss, cringing in fear of being fired for speaking up or fighting for their rights?  Damn straight it doesn’t.

That’s why I keep saying that drug discovery will survive in Europe. They’ll have an infrastructure in France and Germany and the expertise that is acquired from having stability and continuity of uninterrupted research.  They’ll be able to keep pace with this rapidly changing explosion of biological discoveries while thousands of US scientists will be trapped in routine, unchallenging CROs or having their expertise rotting from disuse.  Maybe they won’t be as productive as the US researchers used to be or as ingenious as possible but, by golly, they may be all the world has left unless and until the Chinese and Indians can stabilize their business environment and take the lead in research.  It’s not easy and it will take some time before that happens.  The finance guys are going to have to take an old, cold tater and wait, not something they’re good at.  They’re going to be mad that they can’t transform our salaries into their bonus gold, but such is life.  The French government is finally standing up to them and saying “Non”.  In this case, the unions are actually doing them a favor, giving them an excuse to keep the technological expertise in the country and giving it an edge when the recession finally eases up.  The government will soak the corporations for salaries, not the workers for absolutely everything.

The bad news is that now that Sanofi has been forced to scale back their cutback plans in France, they’re going to have to take it out on their remaining employees elsewhere, like their site in Cambridge, which is already tiny, and their exploratory facility located in Tucson, Arizona.

So, for those of you professionals who are watching in horror at what happened to the scientists in this country, take note: get a union.  The problem of unemployment among us is not structural.  There are plenty of us and many of us are willing to relocate or work from home.  The problem is that the big guys don’t want to pay us for our expertise.  So, they’re going to keep spreading this lie that they can’t find enough qualified workers.  The real problem is that OUR government is not on OUR side.  The Obama administration would rather this country lost its technological edge and make precariats of us all than to stick up for us when the finance guys calculate their bonuses based on how many R&D bodies they can chop.

Sad but true and this story is proof.