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Hillary’s Speech: Sooooo close

I missed the speech when it was live but that’s ok because I read the transcript. I recommend this, by the way, because you should be evaluating your candidates in a cold, dispassionate manner. I really mean this. Even today, I read a post from Digby who said 1.) Hillary doesn’t give a speech like Obama, implying that Obama is some kinda terrific speech giver, and 2.) She was never much impressed by Obama’s speeches anyway.

What the hell does that even mean, Digby?

Well, from my own personal experience, I found Obama’s speeches to be almost unlistenable. His sentences were so full of sequential prepositional phrases that I lost track of his point part way through. But if you’re the kind of person who wrote those kinds of papers as an undergrad and got rewarded for them by some overworked and underpaid TA, I can understand why you might be overly impressed by them. Besides, after the amazing similarity of Obama’s “Just Words” speech with Deval Patrick’s “Just Words” speech and other deconstructions of Obama’s speeches, I just couldn’t take him seriously. He and his speeches were manufactured and field tested by other politicians first. I suspect Digby means the same thing but it’s still not fashionable to go against the consensus reality in the party to say this so she has to say that Hillary doesn’t give a speech like Obama does.

For this, I am eternally grateful.

In general, I think it was a good kick off speech. She is channeling Roosevelt. That’s good. I think she has her mind in the right place. She also makes reference to drug discovery and there is some indication that she’s not entirely ignorant of what has been happening to the R&D field.

I also like what she says about immigrant workers. But there is a potential tie in with something I’ll get to in a minute that I think is the major flaw in this speech. As for immigrants, there are two possible audiences she may be addressing. The first audience consists of illegal immigrants who are long time residents. It’s wrong to split up families and even worse to deprive talented young students of a future just because they were brought here as children and didn’t have any choice in their immigration status. The other group of immigrant workers are high tech workers. I’ve worked (and am working) with many of these people. Let’s face it, they are treated like “just in time” cogs in a vast machinery with little thought given to their families or futures. I do favor quotas, by the way. There are plenty of well educated people in the biotech industry that are still struggling to make ends meet after the brutal layoffs of the last 7 years. But if you have to import tech workers, give them long term green cards and don’t tie that to any particular employer. These workers are human beings, not resources.

Now, onto the major flaw.

The highlight of the speech was supposed to be about growing the middle class and helping the poor with opportunity. Hillary tells the story of a single mother who was attending classes and working and asking her why this process has to be so hard?  And while I liked the direction of her “Four Fights”, they aren’t going to go far enough. What is the point of fighting to make something that is one zillion times hard only half a zillion times hard?

Hillary talked about incentives to make businesses concentrate on long term investments. That’s going to mean taking on the 401K elephant in the room. We can’t have the entire nation watching their quarterly statements for a boom cycle based on the layoffs of their friends and neighbors. What is she planning to do about that?

It’s also great that she talked about giving people sick days. If you are a temp on contract, like I am, you don’t really get sick days or at least nothing like the reasonable time off policies that I had for 23 years.

But it was these two items that caught my eye and made me wonder. Here’s the first one:

“I will give new incentives to companies that give their employees a fair share of the profits their hard work earns.”

I don’t like this. It smells too much like “profit sharing”. And some of you may be asking, what’s wrong with that, RD? Why are you harshing my mellow, fergawdssakes?? I’ll tell you why. I have seen the way one of America’s biggest companies does profit sharing. Their very poorly paid employees get up at 5:00am twice a year to head on down to their workplace to attend an employee profit sharing meeting where they are made to listen to “pep rally” speeches by management about how “everything is awesome!” and play silly games for door prizes. Then, for giving up the one day of the week when they can sleep in, they are given measly “profit sharing” checks averaging less than $50.00. Ta-Da! Isn’t that nice??

No, it is not. It is not nice if the incentives are still going to the management at the top and what the ordinary worker gets is humiliation and just enough money to cover the gas to work and back for the week. But that’s just part of what’s annoying about profit sharing that I’ll get to in a moment.

The other item that caught my eye was this:

“And today’s families face new and unique pressures. Parents need more support and flexibility to do their job at work and at home.

I believe you should have the right to earn paid sick days.

I believe you should receive your work schedule with enough notice to arrange childcare or take college courses to get ahead.”

Ok, let’s just cut to the point here. The thing that I really needed to see her mention in this speech which didn’t come out of it was:

“If we are going to grow the middle class, then working people need income stability. That’s right, no more part time, half time, under time, everything but full time, contract only for a brief period of time working conditions. We need the vast majority of working people to have regular full time jobs without constant churn, impending unemployment and income instability. Because otherwise, people will not have confidence in their future and won’t be able to invest or buy things like homes or college educations.”

That is what I wanted to hear and that is not what I am hearing.

The absence was very noticeable.

Cue Bernie Sanders to step up to fill this void. Elizabeth Warren also understands this.

A real champion is going to go there. A real champion has to be able to look these donors in the face and say, “You need to fix this problem with income instability because these are people you are dealing with, not resources. Your economy depends on their economy. No, I am not kidding and profit sharing is not income stability. Nice try. Do I looks stupid to you?”

That’s what Roosevelt did. I mean Franklin. He put a steady stream of money in families’ pockets by stabilizing their incomes. Yes, part of this was through infrastructure jobs and private-public partnerships and I am all in favor. But if you do not have the income stability piece in place, it isn’t going to kick start the middle class enough.

As Atrios is always saying, “give people money”. Actually, you don’t even have to do that. Most people don’t want to sit around collecting unemployment and god knows, most companies are understaffed now, running the remaining staff into the ground. What they need is a stiff kick in their asses to stop hoarding cash and making poor investment and M&A decisions, and more incentives to hire people full time.

Maybe I’m too close to this issue. No, I don’t think so. It’s happening to everyone and making the entire workforce twitchy. Plus, with the constant employment churn, people are either taking their experience with them (a lament I recently heard from a manager about his contractors) or not getting enough experience at all. It undermines everything else. Flexibility means different things depending on whether you are an employer or employee.

So, that’s where I am with this speech. I am waiting to see the policies.

Recently, someone referred to my support of Hillary as dogmatic. Anyone who knows me knows that I don’t do dogma of any kind. I would have called my support loyal. And I still support Hillary. She is the best candidate we have for many, many reasons. Bernie is a close second for me because he reminds me of what Democrats used to stand for.

And I don’t mind that she has friends in high places or that she knows people in the finance industry or Silicon Valley. I don’t see any evidence that she is taking orders from those people- yet. But she needs to really understand what is at stake here and that means feeling not what it’s like to live paycheck to paycheck but to be constantly worrying about what is going to happen when the paychecks stop and having to sell yourself all of the time on the job market. When searching for a job becomes a full time job, even when you’re employed, that’s a problem that needs to be addressed because it is a serious impediment to the growth of the middle class.

You can use that line, Hillary. It will be a big hit at campaign rallies. You’re welcome.

12 Responses

  1. Profit sharing can be a boon if it is done right. The thing is if your policy is going to be about policy sharing you need to have someone on your staff that is making sure the corporations are actually doing it right. If you’re going to do like Obama did with home loans and have no one to follow through and make sure the banks were actually helping people who needed help instead of pretending to do it you might as well not even have the policy.

    Now I really did like the speech and the fact that she harkened back to the days of FDR. She mostly gets that we can sit around and wait for businesses to hire people and that they will kill the workers they have and then find new workers to replace them. It’s like some sort of corporate slavery that’s going on these days.

    • I disagree. im going to bet that if you gave people a choice between income stability and profit sharing, they’re going to take stability every. Single. Time.
      I totally get why companies would prefer profit sharing. They don’t want to be pinned down with commitments to employees.
      That’s the very attitude that is holding back the economy right now.

      • I wasn’t putting it in an either or type situation. I was just saying profit sharing can be done right but not that it always is. And frankly the only people that are going to get some type of profit sharing are people who are actually hired by the company. They’re certainly not going to give it to temp workers.

        • Did you read or hear ANYWHERE in that speech any reference to addressing the growing problem of temp, contracting or part time employment?
          If you didn’t, and I didn’t, then I would say that it is very premature to start talking about profit sharing, whether it is done right or not. Because the likelihood that an employee is going to lose their full time status is much greater than the possibility of getting a decent profit share.
          There *IS* a choice. It *IS* either/or. You can concentrate on profit sharing and leave the underemployed to fend for themselves or you can acknowledge that the risk of underemployment is very real.
          I don’t care how full time you are or how much you think you deserve a share of the profits, it means nothing if you don’t have a full time job next month.
          Go ahead, disagree with me. I have been there. I got a nice extra bonus in my year end paycheck as incentive in addition to my regular yearly bonus and not three weeks later, I was laid off.
          So, you know, I’d rather have my old full time job back, thank you very much. Until you’ve been there, you have no idea what you are asking for.
          Take the full time. It’s much more valuable and employers know it.

        • BTW, maybe you didn’t mean it, but there’s a mean little bit of condescension in your “They’re certainly not going to give it to temp workers.” line at the end of your comment.
          I get this crap all the time at work from full time employees who think it’s ok to treat the temp workers like second class citizens. We aren’t allowed access to some of the systems that would make our work go more smoothly and have to continually bow and scrape for favors from the full timers to get the simplest things done.
          I’ve been at my current workplace for almost four months now and my bosses know now that I am a very good worker. But the stigma of being a “temp” does follow me and other temps around. People are always looking for reasons why you aren’t full time after so many years.
          I can say definitively that there’s no reason for why I’m temp and not full time. I can’t think of any rational reason why I am not getting full time except for the following:
          1.) I’m not under the age of 45.
          2.) I can’t get a job in my old profession because I don’t have a PhD. It used not to be important, but now that so many chemists are unemployed, it’s the only thing that seems to matter.
          3.) I have too much experience to go back to being a low level BS analytical chemist making $12/hour. Talent acquisition specialists in new fields keep waiting for me to go back to chemistry even after I tell them repeatedly that I can’t make a living doing that and need to move on.
          4.) I have gone through a series of unfortunate events that were beyond my control that I am not at liberty to discuss. But trust me, my family has lived the trials of Job in the past couple of years. These things were unforeseen, financially devastating and wrecked my post pharma career in ways that had absolutely nothing to do with me and have everything to do with the unrealistic expectations of everyone who took extremely inadequate steps to help us find the resources we needed.
          5.) I don’t have a drug problem. I’m not an alcoholic. I’m not in recovery. I don’t have a criminal record. I’ve never been fired from a job. I am not a chronic absentee, don’t arrive late to work, don’t abuse personal time off. I have never been insubordinate. I haven’t sabotaged any employer’s systems. I don’t chat too much, or take too much time at lunch. I limit my internet browsing to breaks and lunchtime.

          I have excellent references, a 23 year history of employment showing progressively more responsibilities and promotions, and I have publications. I am technologically proficient, use three different operating systems, have done system administration tasks, and learn very, very quickly. So, YOU tell ME why I can’t get a full time job.

          You and others seem to think that there’s something wrong with temps. The next time you meet one, maybe you should take a minute and ask yourself if what you think matches the person who is before you. You have no idea what it’s like to fall out of the job market without a safety net in these times. Until you have been there, don’t be so quick to pull that judgmental little trigger.

          Next month, it could be YOU.

          • I have been a temp worker and I did it for quite a while. You are reading stuff into my post that is not there. No, I was MERELY stating a fact. Fortunately for me I did it during the 90’s where I got offered jobs. I know today’s temps are under a different situation where they are considered more expendable and constantly replaced with another temp.

            You seem to be taking out your frustrations on me. I am not a full time worker. I work from home not making much money. I contacted temp agencies here and they basically blew me off. They were so full of people that they don’t want or need any additional people is basically what I was told. This was back in 2007/2008 and I don’t know if that has changed much since then or not here since I just haven’t bothered to check with them lately.

            Man talk about a post full of assumptions. You seem to think that everybody else has it easy while you are suffering. I hate to tell you but there are a lot of people suffering from the collapse in 2008 that have NEVER recovered from it. I’m only partially recovered because our income is down 1/3 from where it was. So you have LESS income and stuck with the same expenses. If you think that’s easy street then you have no idea. Husband has lost TWO jobs since 2010.

          • I’m sorry.

      • I would certainly choose stability over profit sharing. Any corporation can use Enron-style Arthur-Anderson creative accounting to define any profit right out of existence. Figures lie when liars figure.

  2. I wonder if guaranteed annual income–Philip Jose Farmer’s “purple wage”–and universal health care and other such programs, could be sold to the corporate elite on the basis of: “You won’t have to commit to employees, because the Purple Wage will take care of them if you let them go. All you’ll need to do is pay some more taxes out of your enormous incomes, which you’ll never feel. In return, the proles will be fat and happy and let you rule them forever.”

    Unfortunately, the main reason that welfare states for the common citizen passed in the first place in the Western nations was the fear that desperate masses would turn to Marxism if their sufferings were not relieved. This requires Marxism to be appealing, and the Communists ruined that idea.

    Also unfortunately, a faction of the elite thinks their psychological manipulation and surveillance technologies and police forces have become so powerful that they don’t need to be nice ever again. Of course, as always, the repressive methods will succeed–right up to the day that they fail, as they always do sooner or later.

    But then, as an unusually intelligent conservative noted, the only thing we learn from history is that we do not learn from history.

    (I say “welfare states for the common citizen” to distinguish welfare for the common citizen from welfare for the rich, aka “crony capitalism”.)

  3. I am waiting to hear Clinton condemn TAA, TPA, TPP, TTIP and each, every and all other aspects of Obamatrade. (For that matter, I am waiting to hear Webb condemn these things).

    I have already heard sincere condemnation and rejection of Obamatrade from Sanders.

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