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The State of Labor

Every now and then, someone will sum up a concept so clearly and elegantly that truth cannot be missed.  I only wish Dean Baker had written it last year when Chris Bowers and the rest of Whole Foods Nation were in the “You like me!  You really LIKE me!” stage as the Obama campaign was fluffing them.  Here it is, all you need to know about the working class:

“Most of us work for a living; the rest are bankers.”

If you are not a banker or someone who owns a huge chunk of an international corporation, you are working class.  You depend on a banker of a corporate owner for your livelihood.

And you are incredibly vulnerable.

Rich people are not like you and me.  Wait, I think someone else said that.  Well, he’s dead now, he won’t mind.  He was right, of course, the very wealthy and well connected are Jet Setters.  They think globally, not locally.  That whole citizenship/patriotism/pride in country thing is soooo outre.  Everyone knows that labor is cheap everywhere else in the world and people are swappable like new widgets.  And if your own workers are too expensive or still covered by a bothersome union, have no fear!  You only have to shutdown your American research facilities and with the money you save, you can buy up some struggling little companies with  good ideas.  Buy them up!  Drink their milkshake!  Corner the market on innovation.  Never think beyond the next resort season.

It’s all about power and accumulation and not having to answer to anyone and a huge, global game of Monopoly where you can charge rent on everything from St. Charles to Park Place.  Don’t worry about the proles getting in a high dudgeon about it.  Hire a bunch of mindf$^&ers who will convince the gullible to vote against their own interests.  Or tell them that losing their jobs is a sacrifice for the greater good.  Keep them from associating with each other.  Make them call each other racists and teabaggers.  Sit back and watch the fun.

But seriously, folks, when the mindf%*(ers convinced the Whole Foods crowd to vote for Obama, the neofeudalists won.  It is going to be very, very hard to work our way out of the predicament we are in.  Unless we can wake up the working class in the next couple of years, we will not be able to turn this around.  We will have turned ourselves into a highy stratified society consisting of the superrich and everyone else.  We won’t mix.  There will be no equality.  No innovation.  We’ll have our own caste system.  Even higher education will be pointless.  There will be no jobs.  It will only be the masters and their servants like Jane Austen’s England. And don’t think that Sonia Sotomayor is going to make a bean’s worth of difference on the USSC.  I wouldn’t be surprised if she were just the kind of justice the bankers (and their bonuses) love.  We shall see.

We Clintonistas were the canaries in the coal mine, last year.  We saw where the working class was headed when the Democratic party abandoned us.  And we tried, desperately, to get the attention of the Whole Foods crowd, to no avail.  But the truth is, the self-identified “creative class” were *always* one of us.  They just didn’t know it until now.  And until they accept us as their equals and join with us in solidarity, we will have no power as a Union.

Happy Labor Day.

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1802674332_04ff4dff3dI first found out about this a little bit ago, and the resulting temper tantrum was of such epic proportions,  I had to wait a couple of days to do a post on it, because my hands were literally shaking with so much anger, I could barely type.

Liberal Rapture puts it best in this post, by John.

Obama’s Iraq reversal caused a big fat Told ya so from me.

His flibbertigibbet torture stances hardly surprised.

Ignoring the gay community that he courted and hypnotized is, of course, par for the course.

I must say that Obama’s approval of blowing the tops off 42 mountains is nothing short of heartbreaking. Not because BHO disappoints yet again. Ha! I knew he’d be a nightmare of flip flops and lies. It is depressing because the entire concept of “mountain top removal” is a horror.

The article he links to is by Democracy Now. In an interview with Amy Goodman, Jeff Biggers explains why blowing mountaintops to smithereens is not just an environmental issue, but a human rights issue.

AMY GOODMAN: What about media coverage, Jeff Biggers, of Appalachia?

JEFF BIGGERS: Media coverage. You know, this is something that I’m just not quite sure what’s going on. You know, here you have one of the most egregious environmental and human rights violations right before our very eyes. You have little communities in West Virginia, a little town outside called Prenter, where 97 percent of the people have some sort of gallbladder disease. You have Americans who cannot drink their water. You have people who are living under daily explosions and silica dust coming into their gardens and their farms. People are having to be relocated and removed. And yet the mainstream media is not handling it. They’re just sort of acting as if this is something that can wait, that something—that it’s not really an urgent issue.

That’s right. Not an urgent issue. Gallbladder disease? Contaminated water? Who cares? They’re all just bitter, gun-toting Appalachian racists, anyway. Wanna know what really matters? Michelle Obama has arms! And pretty shoes!

Besides, it’s not the Coal Mining industry’s fault! Even though they are in bed with the President and almost every other member of Congress- those mountaintops are in the way! We’ve got to blow the m*ther f*ckers off the face of the Earth, because there be coal in there, and we couldn’t POSSIBLY hire mineworkers and give people jobs in a time of Economic Recession in which countless people are looking for work! For one thing, that would make sense, and for another, it would cost money!

AMY GOODMAN: Who’s pushing for it? Why does it continue?

JEFF BIGGERS: It continues because we have an incredible coal industry and their lobby in Washington. And this is something that transcends politics. You know, I’m based in the Midwest now, in Illinois.

JUAN GONZALEZ: And also, just to clarify, for the industry, it’s much cheaper to blow up a mountaintop than to actually send people, workers, underground to get the coal out.

JEFF BIGGERS: Exactly. When we say coal is cheap, of course, you know, that’s an absolute outrage. It’s not cheap. It’s just cheaper for them. You know, instead of having three underground mining jobs, they only need one job of someone blowing up the mountain with massive explosives and then using heavy equipment to get at this tiny little seam. So, yes, for them, it’s a cheaper and effective way.

But the problem is, the coal really transcends party politics, that you have liberal Democrats in the Midwest, like Senator Dick Durbin from my Illinois or even President Obama, who have always been working with the coal industry. It’s something that, if you come from a coal state, it’s been very hard to shake from the stranglehold of the coal industry on our politics.

Well, the media doesn’t care, because they are in bed with the coal and nuclear lobby, also. Coal sure gets around! But don’t fret! There is still time for the POTUS to have a change of heart!

JUAN GONZALEZ: And are there any political leaders in the region who have been courageous enough to stand up to the coal industry?

JEFF BIGGERS: Yes, there’s one man who’s a great American hero: ninety-four-year-old Ken Hechler. He was the great congressman. The only congressman who marched with Martin Luther King in Selma, Alabama, was this hillbilly from West Virginia, great Ken Hechler. And here he is, ninety-four years old, in West Virginia last week, and the state troopers refused to arrest him, you know. And Ken Hechler came to me, and he said, “President Obama needs to have a Harry S. Truman movement—moment,” that he must, like in 1948, when Harry S. Truman, against the Democratic Party, said we must integrate the military, and he did that on executive order. And Representative Hechler is saying, “We’ve reached that moment now, that President Obama must rise above this idea that we have to have a consensus, that we have to have some kind of compromise with the coal industry, that you can’t compromise with evil.” And Representative Hechler was willing to be arrested for this.

Don’t count on it, old man. That whole Harry S. Truman moment? Don’t make me laugh. Funny how, in the age of Hope! and Change!, I don’t even feel the need to remind people why they shouldn’t get their hopes up for change. Particularly regarding things as important as say, oh, I don’t know, F*CKING BLOWN UP MOUNTAINS!

And do I even need to say that Environmentalists who supported Obama only have themselves to blame? I think not.

I don’t know about any of the commenters and posters here, but this is just unbearable for me. As you all know, my spirituality and beliefs are nature-based. Nature and the Environment, to me, is sacred. To see forty two mountains wiped off the face of the Earth is enough to break my heart into a million little pieces. I actually began to cry, to blub, when I read about this. And snuggling my kitty didn’t help.

I have roots in Applachia. I grew up here in Cleveland, but half of my family is from Pennsylvania and Southern Ohio. (The other half being from Washington DC and Atlantic City, but I digress.) I have felt a connection to the mountains of Appalachia for my entire life. I have yet to climb a mountain, but have wanted to do so since my girlhood. And I say this because I am sure there are other people here who share that sentiment. (I know you ALL aren’t from the East Coast :p).

This is unforgivable, inexcusable, and shameful.

%$#^&! @#$!

*throws things*

Monday: Ruminations

At the fitness center last week, the zumba instructor asked everyone to grab a set of light handweights.  What weight?, we asked.  Nothing more than 5’s.  We quickly ran out of 3’s.  “Where were the other weights?”, she asked.  “The company’s other fitness centers have all of the other weights.  Heck, they even had adjustable thingies and whatnots.  How come this one doesn’t?”

We grinned bitterly.  Why indeed?  Maybe we shouldn’t complain.  We are lucky to have a fitness center at all with weight machines, treadmills, ellipticals and towel service.  But while the fitness center for the scientists is serviceable, small and exercise classes pretty basic, with the exception of the zumba class, the two business fitness centers were spacious, better equipped, had better classes and a more zen-like feel to them.

Come to think of it, the food in their cafeterias was better too.  They had a better selection of food and registered dieticians who will consult with you on your choices.  I’d been there and seen it with my own eyes.  The food was the same price but the quality was unmistakeably better in every way.  Where our entrees are suitable for lumberjacks (basic, carb loaded but, wow!, the portions are huge!), theirs are more suitable for svelte figures and discerning palates.  They have demonstration chefs who custom prepare composed salads and stir frys.  We have surly cooks who slap roasted potatoes on your plate whether you want them or not.  As it turned out, I didn’t want.

We’ve heard all of the excuses about why the facility services are so different, ie worse, compared to the other sites.  None of the reasons make any sense.  The stupidest one was that the business folks had be compensated because most of them had to work in cube farms instead of private offices.  Oh, whoa is they!  What kind of plush digs do they imagine the scientists work in, crouched under fume hoods or perched on a stool, pipet in hand, facing row after row of tiny wells?

Hmmm, maybe they’ve got something here.  After all, *we* work with our hands.  Gentlemen and ladies do *not* work with their hands, they work with their minds.  Nevermind that some of the PhDs in those fume hoods have dedicated a decade or more to their educations and know more in their pinkies than some MBA up the road.  Nevermind that we know how to operate a spreadsheet, have to learn to navigate the SAP and purchasing procedures and are subject to the same idiotic Sarbanes-Oxley Act training as our more genteel counterparts.  What it all boils down to is that there is a potential that our hands will get dirty.  After all, don’t we wear labcoats and gloves and run around in denim all day?  {{Sniff!}}  Denim or Dockers.  Farm hands and construction workers wear denim.  Oh, sure, it’s one of the safest things you can wear in a lab, natural fibers and all standing up better to acids and other corrosive substances better than polyester type materials that have a propensity to melt and stick to the skin.

But MBAs apparently don’t think about these things much.  We dress down therefore, we must be the manual labor.  I can almost hear the negotiations with the caterer over the contract. “The business centers will require 3 hot entrees, 2 demonstration stations, the complete salad bar station, deli station, full bistro with specialty pizza, four daily soups, garde manger and healthy options section with nutritionist on staff during the hours of 11-2.  The science group?  Meat and potatoes.  Some soup, lots of chili.  Throw in some salad for those damn fitness center regulars.  That ought to do it.”

So, why am I going on like this?  I guess it was this post at Anglachel’s that reminded me of the difference between the have and have nots.  It’s sort of like 18th century England.  The peers do not engage in work.  They live off their money.  The rest of us just live off the land or our hands, no matter what our professions happen to be.  If you have to touch what earns you a living, you can bet your butt some snooty elite is looking down his nose at you and figuring that you can just do without.

I guess I shouldn’t complain.   What I’m griping about would make most people green with envy.  I have it good.   Especially compared to the hispanic drudges who clean my desk area at night.