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I am announcing my candidacy for President of the United States

Based on Judge Cannon’s ruling today, I have decided to declare my intention to run for President. This announcement will ensure that there will be no irreparable injury to my reputation, such as it is, and any criminal investigations into anything I might have done will cease forthwith!

I also intend to preemptively assert my future designation as former President to protect my executive privilege in order to avoid scrutiny of any crimes I am planning and any breaches of national security I intend to commit for fame and/or money or tasty gossip at international golf tournaments.

We’ll talk about the platform later. Ponies may or may not be featured prominently. We’ll see.

If you BuyMeACoffee, I promise to put it to good use drinking sugar free vanilla skim lattes on my cruise, or margaritas, whichever comes first, so that I may return refreshed for my run.

I approve this message.

Happy Labor Day from Pittsburgh.

President Biden is in town today to attend our Labor Day Parade. He’ll be making an appearance with Josh Shapiro, Democratic candidate for PA governor. John Fetterman, Democratic senate candidate is attending a different Labor Day Celebration nearby. The political strategy is clear. Fetterman is trying to get the band back together, attempting to win the working class, who Donna Brazile called the “old coalition”. It’s best not to be seen with a reminder of Obama years in that case.

The sad thing is that we here at The Confluence saw the Democratic Party jettison working class and women voters in 2008 and predicted that it would undermine the foundations of the party. But the “creative class” got sucked in to the Obama frenzy just like MAGA people were sucked into Trumpism. Same tactics right down to the shady primary election manipulation. It was just cooler when the Obama campaign did it, Amirite? But that’s another story.

This Labor Day, I’m still getting literally hundreds of job postings daily for the three job titles I set up alerts for on my LinkedIn accounts. There are some new patterns. First, there are a lot more remote postings. Employers are getting wise. If you don’t need to be located in Seattle, if everything can be done online and you’re a strong communicator, you can work from Pittsburgh. But that leads to observation number 2. Some employers are using remote work to limit salaries. Yeah, sure, you can work from Pittsburgh but we’re going to pay you Pittsburgh wages. Funny how location makes a difference in how much you get paid. What will be next? How many dependents you have? Whether you own your house or rent? Student loan debt? It’s a slippery slope. Anyway, I might live in Pittsburgh but I might be working from a cruise ship in the Caribbean. (More on that in a minute)

Other things that are interesting is that employers are very reluctant to post salary information but since Colorado requires that any job posting available to its residents include this information, you can get a pretty good idea of what the actual range is and whether an employer is lowballing you if you get an offer.

Strangely enough, there is very little info on vacation days. I’m still stuck at a paltry three weeks after I got up to 5 weeks working for my previous pharma R&D employer before pharmageddon hit in 2011. I’m not sure why American employers seem to be so incredibly stingy about vacations. I’ve been more aware of the actual work that gets done in discreet periods of time in my current job and I’m not at all convinced that employees are fully engaged in what they’re doing. Why not cut the fiction and just give them the time they need to recharge their batteries and do it in weeks, not just a day here and there of occasional absences? It would make work easier to plan and more efficient. I’ve worked with Europeans who took generous vacations but worked like demons when they were in the labs. The French can kick ass at work when they know they have 4 weeks in August to hike the Alps to look forward to.

Salaries in general are weird. You can only get a real raise or promotion by leaving your current job. That seems like a really stupid way to retain a workforce with any institutional knowledge. Related to this is the employee performance appraisal system. Look, if you’re not going to actually appraise and reward according to that appraisal, stop doing it. Stop making people jump through hoops for a “meets expectations”. Here’s an example that’s all too common:

Make this meaningful or employees will just get more and more cynical over time, put in the bare minimum effort and/or take their skills elsewhere.

I’m not telling employers anything they don’t already know but the trend I’ve seen recently indicates that employers really aren’t getting it yet that they need to make meaningful changes. They have fewer people who want to work and it’s only going to get worse in the next decade as more baby boomers retire. They need to stop acting like granting one concession in one area of compensation means they need to cut back in another. No, no you don’t. And you shouldn’t if you want to keep business clicking along at a nice pace.

What employers have gotten used to was too many people and not enough jobs for the last 40 years. They’ve gotten more women in the workforce and made them feel lucky they were allowed to work at all while not giving them paid parental leave or paycheck fairness. They’ve strangled the life out of employees’ free time and kept salaries artificially low. Now that there are fewer of us, the low salary increases are becoming less acceptable. And don’t think we aren’t noticing that the threats the Fed is making towards engineering a painful recession is intended to curb any meaningful increases in the future.

It would be so much better for both sides of the labor issue to come to some agreement and not force labor itself to have to claw back what it lost since Reagan fired the air traffic controllers and disbanded their union, the first big blow against the baby boomer labor generation. But it looks like clawing back is going to happen anyway starting with Starbucks and Dollar Generals and amazon warehouses.

What goes around comes around.

As for me, I feel like I’ve been working my ass off for the last 10 years since pharmageddon with very little to show for it. Sometimes, no matter how hard you try, you can’t catch a break. You’re either not quite perfect a fit for the job you want, until you spend years pursuing it and finally get it to find that you were perfect enough all along (making me question what was the point of all that hoop jumping?). Or you get stuck with a series of really bad bosses with anger management issues or substance abuse issues or inability to meet the expectations of actually, you know, managing people and doing their job, until you find yourself working for a really good one. But by that time, compensation has been held back for so long that the only options left to making enough money to retire on means re-evaluating whether it is possible to stay at a perfect enough job with a wonderful boss if you’re consistently the lowest paid person in the group. Contract work at twice the pay is looking more and more attractive.

Theoretically.

I could be talking about anyone.

But I will talk about one thing that actually affects me personally. I have not had enough vacation in the last 10 years. At first I couldn’t afford to go anywhere, then I had a serious illness where I was forced to use my limited vacation time for surgery and other weird things. Then I ran in to a series of storms when I could go on vacation. Both attempts were completely ruined by meteorological events. Last year, I did a staycation and this year, I vowed, as god is my witness, that I would never do a staycation again. Nothing is worse than spending a week at home surrounded by projects that you can’t afford to fix. It’s not a stress relieving time off.

By the way, did you know that Covid is less serious for people with too much cortisol in their systems? Maybe I’ve escaped it because of the shots or maybe I’m just living on cortisol all the time and got a mild case that I mistook for allergies.

I waited almost all summer before I took a close look at my bank account and decided I could afford a cruise if I found one on sale and didn’t go on any excursions or buy an overpriced drinks package. My criteria was I would be able to sit at the pool or beach all day and order an occasional drink and not have to plan or cook even one meal. I want complete relaxation. So, I’ve booked one. It’s a 5 day, 4 night cruise on Royal Caribbean’s Freedom of the Seas sailing on September 19, 2022. I’m buying an internet package but a drinks package is right out. I’ll buy my margaritas one at a time according to my budget. There is money in my bank account for more but I’ve got home repairs coming up that I haven’t been able to deal with because my salary is stuck in neutral and there are some other interesting issues that are not health related that I won’t go into. Let’s just say, Ive been engaged in another writing project and I think I could write a book now. More on that someday soon.

Anyway, my point is this: back when this blog was at the top of the blog pop charts in 2008-2010, I failed to capitalize on the what I was writing like some other blogs did. They got subscriptions going and made a career out of writing witty and pithy one line posts that continue to rack up the comments. It occurred to me during the dark days of unemployment after the Great Recession that I could maybe turn this blog into a second source of income. But those years were dark in many other ways I won’t get into (read my upcoming book!) and I just didn’t have the energy.

The bottom line is this cruise includes no extras except internet (you can’t stream music for your onboard workout in the middle of the ocean without the internet package. 🙄) But if you’ve ever been inclined to want to buy me a coffee after something I’ve written here, I do now have a link. Or not. I’m just glad that people still come here for a different point of view. And I’m glad that William has decided to keep writing. (Maybe he has his own buy me a coffee link?)

So, if you want to keep me well supplied with sugar free vanilla skim lattes (or margaritas, not gonna lie) on my cruise here is my buy me a coffee link below:

BuyRDaCoffee

I hope you have a wonderful corporate America end of summer and a lovely fall.

Hit it Street Dogs!

Labor Day Reflections

I came upon a post I had written back in May, which motivated me to expand on the subject today. It was titled, “The Forces at Combat,” and it was largely about the Supreme Court, and how utterly non-reflective of America it is. It is a very unsettling and completely undemocratic creation of a minority which has used various tactics to game a terrible electoral system.

We all know that the last two Republican Presidents came into office with a minority of the popular vote. We know that Wyoming, with one-seventy-seventh of the population of California, has one-seventeenth the amount of electoral votes. This is sort of fun to study when you are in the lower grades in school, but it has very real and undemocratic consequences outside of the classroom.

The Radical Right has this little verbal game about insisting that we do not live in a Democracy, we live in a Republic. What we were actually intended to be, was a country where all men are created equal. And of course I know that they did not let women vote, and gave Black people only three-fifths of a vote, and no one got to vote who did not own property. That was not right, it was an insult to a true concept of democracy, but it was the best they came up with then, and it was a lot better than the rest of the world, which had monarchies and empires, where the people had no power to choose who made the rules.

We do not have a democracy like classical Athens, where only Athenian citizens could vote, and of course they had slaves, but if you were a citizen, you got to vote on every issue. That would not now be feasible in any country, to vote on every single dispute or idea, so we have a representative democracy, where the citizens elect a Congress and Senate, which is designed to be a surrogate for the people, to express their wishes and views.

Now, we know that they are not supposed to be a rubber stamp; they would necessarily be people who might differ here or there with their constituents (who could vote them out if they did not like that). But the whole idea of America was that we had a democracy, no monarchy by birth, or dictatorship; and that we can each vote to express our views and wishes, and that the people we elected would largely carry them out.

Very unfortunately, the seeds of disaster were planted in the otherwise admirable Constitution, which gave disproportionate power to the smaller rural states, through the mechanism of the Senate, where every state got two Senators. Combine that with the later device of the filibuster, and we have rural states essentially controlling the country, certainly the Supreme Court.

If one doubts that, how do you account for the fact that the Democratic candidate for President has won the popular vote seven times in the last eight elections, and yet the Republicans have an overwhelming 6-3 Right-Wing majority on the Supreme Court; and further, that those members are Far, Far, Right, reflecting the combined cultural and economic positions of a theocratic, largely Catholic, Dominionist minority, and an monied elite of corporatists and corporations?

We have an America where 75% of so of the populace want there to be a right to abortion, but we are very close to having a national ban on all abortions, while many states have outlawed it, and others engage in political fights about the extent to which it will be allowed. We have about 75% or more who want a ban on assault weapons, but we don’t have one, because the minority elected President George W. Bush would not extend it, and the distinctly minority elected Senate cannot pass one, with the filibuster in place.

There are other areas where by all polling, the American people want there to be bills passed, and rights afforded, and they are stopped by the Congress, built on a very bad electoral system which lets a minority, if they are clever enough, exploit the flaws in the system. Where the people overwhelmingly do not want something (85% did not want the Trump tax bill which took two trillion dollars from the Treasury, and gave it to millionaires), and yet it goes through.

This is very gratifying for the millionaires and billionaires, who take some of their gains, and pour it into the campaigns of the Far Right, and the networks they control, so that they will get even more gains, in a self-perpetuating system of evil. It is great fun for the non-rich people on the Far Right, most of whom live in rural districts in small states, but are wildly benefiting, financially and politically from a system which favors them in immense disproportion to their numbers.

But this is not a game, it is about people’s lives. And unlike a board game or a sports game which unfairly favors one group over another, it cannot be just abandoned in favor of another game or sport. What we’ve got here, is a nation where a distinct minority of the very wealthy, and the inhabitants of rural states, are in large part controlling the majority.

Yes, we somehow managed to gain very small majorities in Congress, and that together with very good Congressional leadership, allowed us to pass some meaningful legislation, though not nearly what we wanted to accomplish, or to the extent that all polls showed that the American people wanted. And if the Republicans win even one chamber of Congress, this will all stop, to the extent that unless we somehow again win the Presidency and Congress, we will never get anything necessary to pass.. And worse than that, we will see the government shut down by the Radical Right, and other such chaos, from a party which really does want to destroy the entire democracy (or republic, for those who delight in making this distinction), and replace it with a permanent dictatorship.

Without spoiling our Labor Day by delving into that nightmare, let’s just contemplate how completely absurd it is to have a government where various minorities of wealthy people and rural people have disproportionate power. Not just the “unfairness” of it, but the incongruity. There are undoubtedly fine people who live in small towns in less populous states. But the issues they deal with are in many ways not the same as those who live in big cities in states with large populations.

For example, the rural states usually have lower ethnic minority populations. They have less mass transit. There is less crowding. House prices are less. Driving times are less.

That is fine, no place has to be like any other. And one is free to move to a different state–at least for now, while the Far Right is trying to find ways to stop people from leaving the state which has made abortion a capital crime, to get an abortion in one which believes a woman has a right to choose. But clearly, the residents of rural states have different concerns and priorities than the residents of the larger states

And so, if the system has been both naively and deliberately set up to give the residents of small states more proportional electoral power, their interests will trump those of the majority of people who live in the other states. I am not saying that the big states should always win, but that one person should equal one vote, and it does not. And so, to cite one major example, the small Red States are leeching immense amounts of tax dollars from the residents of the large states, taking much more in benefits than they pay in taxes.

Again, this is not an amusing game. Trump hates California, so his tax bill removed the tax deduction for state tax payments, making Californians pay higher relative tax bills. If he and his sect dominate the country, they will continue to make sure that states like Alabama and Mississippi get funds paid out by the people of California and New York.

No country is perfectly fair in terms of its systems. But what we have here is a distorted system which is not representative of the wishes of its population. And that cannot sustain itself.

I don’t know what will happen to it, but it will not sustain itself. The Right wants violence. The Left might choose to use its economic power by boycotting, or simply refusing to spend. It’s not going to continue along with the absolutely unrepresentative Supreme Court, chosen by Far Right Presidents, including one who has apparently sold out America to his personal highest bidders, and risked many lives of people he hates, carrying out the will of plutocrats and fascists. People will not participate.

Labor Day celebrates the working people of this country. All ages, shapes, and incomes. Not everyone is going to be happy about this or that. But people need to think that they are represented to some extent in their government, and that they have actual voting power to change things. Labor is not just an exchange of time and effort for money and goods. It is ideally born of a sense of shared purpose and fairness; that everyone does work, for personal and family needs, of course, but also for a common goal.

Right now, this common goal has been usurped by forces that want only immense wealth for themselves, or the ability to force everyone else to do what they want them to do. Labor Day has to mean something, and to be celebrating important concepts of equality and remunerated effort, or it will become just another empty symbol of what America once intended itself to be.