Comment on Equity vs. Equality; differences & discoveries – SELRS Update by Soames Smith        
I agree with the articles point of view,There has to be away for the consumer to take a share in the equity and also the risk in the production of food .Allowing for the producer to make a living wage .
          Union Members Rally for Good Jobs!        
SEIU Virginia 512 members are rallying for good jobs with living wages, quality healthcare and secure retirements, for union members and all working families. In Fairfax County, union members are leading the fight to save retirement benefits from corporate-funded political ...
          RE[2]: Drop the politics...        
"When people think about Apple's early history, they think of Steve Jobs walking around Silicon Valley barefoot extolling the virtues of the Apple I. They think of Wozniak and Jobs assembling the computers in the Jobs' garage. They don't think of Chinese workers doing 15 hour days and being paid less than minimum wage to produce cheap iPods. Apple really ought to bite the bullet and fire Foxconn," Since when is the iPod part of Apple's "early History". And who are you to criticize Apple? You think Lenovo is any better? You wear Nike's? I wear them; they suit my feet. I wish they paid their workers a living wage, but I am not a Nike stockholder and a boycott would be overkill. I AM an AAPL stockholder and DO vote "FOR" any matters aimed towards improving corporate ethics or governance.
          What Part of The Economy Do You Not Understand?        
For McDonalds to pay a “living wage” to full or even part time employees is a little hard to compute when you are looking at the dollar menu. Continue reading…
          Re: Small business owners buckling under 'perfect storm' of economic conditions        
We have some challenges in whistler for sure but rather than focus on the things we can't change; how about a few things we can change ? SUPPORT OUR LOCAL SMALL BUSINESSES is a good start . I don't drive to Vancouver anymore to save a few dollars that are eaten up by gas, my time and usually an expensive lunch anyway . As for medical care, things will begin to change drastically when our emergency center becomes the only option for same day medical care. Seasonal workers don't usually have a car so they are not going to go to Squamish or Pemberton if they are sick Doctors are entitled to a living wage and reasonable time off so Family Practise is not an attractive option for a young doctor who has just spent 8 plus years to become qualified . As a community , we are hard on our doctors.
Posted by Fiteni Sandy
          Minimum-wage cruelty        
There are political movements to push the federal minimum hourly wage to $15. Raising the minimum wage has popular support among Americans. Their reasons include fighting poverty, preventing worker exploitation and providing a living wage. For the most part, the intentions behind the support for raising the minimum wage are decent. But when we evaluate [...]
          Jeremy Corbyn the new communist Leader of the Opposition        
Ed Miliband's greatest failure as former leader of the UK Labour Party was not losing the 2015 election worse than Gordon Brown did in 2010, but in leaving it a new process for electing leader that has helped ensure that one of the least appropriate MPs in the House of Commons, now leads the Opposition.

To make it clear, Jeremy Corbyn has, for decades, been a bit of a joke.  One of the handful of MPs on the Trotskyite extremes of the Labour Party, who has never held any office in the Labour Party shadow cabinets, nor in government.  Not only was he never a parliamentary undersecretary under a Labour Government, but he was never a shadow spokesman either.  His views are not only well to the left of Tony Blair, Gordon Brown and Ed Miliband, but also Neil Kinnock and arguably also Michael Foot - whose 1983 election manifesto was famously the "longest suicide note in history".

As Conservatives guffaw at him becoming leader of a party, that only months ago it feared losing to, it's worth remembering some of his positions, but also the context within which "Corbyn-mania" has appeared.

Corbyn believes there is nothing worth doing that shouldn't be managed by the government.  He believes that education should be under the control of a National Education Service, wants all public schools under central control and would strip private schools of their charity status (and would prefer if they all closed down too).  He wants to abolish tertiary tuition fees and to guarantee all graduates a job.

He wants the multiple private railway companies and the gas and electricity companies to all be nationalised, without compensation to the owners.  He opposes "austerity" and is open to printing money to pay for large government infrastructure projects, mostly around more state housing and public transport.  He wants higher taxes, higher welfare payments and a massive programme of building council houses, and to introduce rent caps on the private rental sector.

He wants to reopen coal mines, ban fracking and wants a new "Green economy" funded by taxpayers. Yes, he believes in the environment and coal mining.

Suffice to say that a man who thinks Venezuela is a shining example, is an economics moron, but it is much worse than this.

Corbyn's approach to foreign affairs can be summed up by three points:

-  The Western world is the source of all of the world's ills;
- When other countries have dictatorships or wars, it is probably the fault of the Western world somehow;
-  Israel is the source of evil in the Middle East, or it is the USA.  Take your pick.

He says "the survival of Cuba since 1979 is an inspiration to the poorest in the region", forgetting of course that this is done on the backs of an authoritarian one-party state that imprisons and tortures opponents.  What else can be said of a man who called the murderous Sandinistas heroic?

What of his welcoming members of the IRA to the House of Commons weeks after the IRA bombed the Grand Hotel in Brighton, killing five people in 1984 (attempting to kill PM Thatcher)?  What of his colleague John McDonnell saying it was time to honour IRA bombers, because it was they who gave up the war and created peace?

He believes the UK should abolish its independent nuclear deterrent because it would "set an example" to countries like north Korea to disarm.  Is he stupid, or does he simply think that totalitarian socialist states have some good in them that can be appeased?

He talked of his friends at Hamas and Hezbollah, justifying it saying he calls "everyone" he meets friends and it is important, when seeking peace, to talk to all sides (the same excuse he gave for meeting the IRA).  He has yet to meet anyone from the Israeli Government of course (nor Ulster unionists, let alone paramilitaries).  Then again, he also donated to Deir Yassin Remembered, a campaign run by Holocaust denier Paul Eisen.  Corbyn vehemently rejects anti-semitism, and I believe he is genuine.  However, he associates and gives succour to anti-semites and those who want Israel "wiped off the map".  It's difficult to see how he reconciles this.

He would like the UK to withdraw from NATO because he opposes its "eastern expansion", ignoring that a key reason for that expansion are former satellites of the USSR keen to be protected from their former imperial master.   However,  he doesn't see Russia as being so bad.  Indeed, he thinks NATO has provoked it, by talking to Georgia about membership (of course it didn't happen, and part of Georgian territory is now Russian occupied), and Ukraine (ditto). 

He rails vehemently against Western imperialism, which means any military action by the West or Western states, but he never protests such intervention from Russia or Iran or China.   He opposed the UK defending the Falklands from a military dictatorship, indicating that in any conflict, he will tend to take the view that the "other side" probably has a point, and the UK (and the West) should relent.   

Of course, none of this is new, he's been a Marxist rebel for over 30 years, but he has backing, from a solid core of old-fashioned communists, who miss the USSR (think George Galloway, Ken Livingstone), and a new generation of airhead Marxists, brought up on the class, race, gender consciousness of identity politics in schools and universities, and using the internet to spread their hate filled ignorance.

Don't forget at the height of the Cold War, this sort of politics did gather nearly 28% of the vote.  For those joking that Corbyn and his views are "unelectable" consider what is in his favour that was not the case in 1983:

- Thatcher had barely won back the Falkland in a big show of patriotic success, which Labour had opposed.  There will be no winning war likely in the next few years;

- The Liberal Party was in a position to ally itself with a breakaway party from Labour (the SDP) and had been on the resurgence.  By contrast, the Liberal Democrats were almost wiped out at the 2015 general election and are moribund, and unlikely to present a credible alternative;

- The anti-NATO/anti-nuclear campaign in 1983 was in the context of taking on the USSR, which no longer exists as an example of "what socialists really want".  A whole generation of airheads have no idea about what life under the jackboot of Marxism-Leninism really is like;

- Far left voters partly drifted to the Greens and SNP in the last election, if Labour pulls back many of those voters, they will come close to the Conservatives in share of the vote - but with First Past the Post that might be plenty to win a majority;

- The demographics of the UK have changed, with more immigrants and ethnic minority voters who tend to support Labour, although that relationship is not as tight as Labour would hope, it is one reason Labour did relatively well in London at the General Election.

So don't rule him out completely, but then I fully expect the Conservative Party to not take advantage of this move to the far left, but rather engage in a sopping wet contest for the middle muddle ground of mediocrity.  It already has with its commitment to raising the minimum price of labour to the so-called "living wage" level (with some retailers already warning about how inflationary that will be, which will make the "living wage" even higher and so on).  It continues to engage in totemic wasteful projects like HS2, and a massively subsidised nuclear power station, whilst worshipping the NHS religion and playing corporatism and central planner with multiple sectors.  Too many in the Conservatives would rather win a massive majority for the sake of power than actually reverse socialism and state privilege wherever it may be.

With David Cameron standing down before the next election, is it too much to ask for a Conservative leader who actually is opposed to not only the policies, but the principles and rhetoric of the new Labour leader?

          DC City Council Passes Law Likely to Kill 1,000 Jobs        

Today the Washington, D.C. city council voted 8-5 to force Wal-Mart to pay their workers no less than $12.50 per hour if the world wide chain continues with plans to build stores in the area. The Large Retailer Accountability Act was designed by the city council to make Wal-Mart pay a "living wage," and requires large retailers to pay workers at least 50% more than minimum wage. Before the ruling Wal-Mart threatening to terminate their plans to build in the D.C. area, since the wage floor directly cuts into the business model of the retail giant. While some D.C. elitists will undoubtedly rejoice and say good riddance to the "big box" retailer, many other, less fortunate residents of D.C. will remain jobless as a result of this unfair, job-killing proposal.

The academic literature is certainly mixed on how much the minimum wage affects overall employment (see here and here). However, research does decidedly show that increases in the minimum wage adversely affect the earned income of low wage workers -- precisely the type of worker that will find employment at Wal-Mart.

While the aforementioned studies are interesting, it is important to note the differences between the general minimum wage laws analyzed in these papers and what is happening in D.C. In the case of Walmart and D.C., the wage law only applies to certain large retailers, not businesses in general. It is also not a marginal change. The law increases the minimum wage paid by Walmart by over 50%. Is it any wonder that Wal-Mart is thinking about pulling out of the D.C. market when many of its workers will cost 50% more than what their competitors pay?

But enough about how this is unfair to Walmart, what does it mean for job seekers? With an unemployment rate in the District (8.5%) higher than the national average (7.6%) the D.C. city council's bill will eliminate nearly a thousand possible jobs that were already set to open up in D.C. In fact, if Wal-Mart follows through on their plan to withdraw from the D.C. market, the earned income of the nearly 1,000 workers that would have chosen to work at Wal-Mart will definitely fall, since presumably these workers would have only chosen to work at Wal-Mart if the pay there was higher than their next best option (which for a number of people right now is sitting a home at a computer filing job applications).

What's better: a job that pays minimum wage or no job at all? Which is more livable: minimum wage income or no income at all?

While the overall employment effects of general minimum wage laws may be ambiguous, the employment effects of the D.C. proposal are not. The D.C. city council's bill will fail to improve anyone's standard of living and instead deny consumers access to low-priced goods and services and jobs.  

For more on unemployment in America, see our earlier op-ed today about national trends in the labor market.

          Our Gift Guide Inspiration—What to get your Williamsburg Friend?        

This Edited Collection features cleanly designed items for your 
fabulous yet sometimes slightly intimidating friend from Williamsburg (well not originally).
Kelsi Dagger is the epitome of Brooklyn style with the Assembly Backpack with its smooth black leather and brushed gold hardware. Of course you know your friend is constantly dating hence the Minkpink Ditched the Boyfriend Tee. And never to be one that is not globally conscious she will love to rock the Kaanas Leather tipped shoes crafted in Colombia by women paid a fair living wage (she will love to tell everyone that). And you know she is always telling you about the new band she just went to go see at the Brooklyn Bowl and trying to get you to listen well why not gift her a wireless speaker? Triple C and create to fun and totally ironic pieces. And finally you know this girl loves a party—arm or otherwise the "party" cuff by is perfect. Hope you feel like you can tackle this gift giving situation with confidence and you guys will be brunching at the Wythe Hotel in no time. 

          Loblaw Hits Back At Petition Calling CEO Comments 'Sabotage Of Minimum Wage In Ontario'        
Galen G. Weston, executive chairman of Loblaw Companies Limited speaks at a news conference in Toronto, July 15, 2013.

Loblaw Cos. Ltd. is hitting back after an advocacy group's online petition criticized recent comments made by the grocery giant's CEO about Ontario's $15 minimum wage hike.

Leadnow's petition says Loblaw CEO Galen Weston "complained to investors about the irritating cost of paying its workers a living wage — even though Loblaws doubled its profits last year and Weston took home $5 million."

The petition, entitled "Stop the sabotage of minimum wage in Ontario" says Weston's comments blew up in the media, "amplifying a false perception that minimum wage increases hurt our economy."

In a statement emailed to HuffPost Canada, Weston said Loblaw made "no value judgments" about the minimum wage increase, and was providing "facts about the financial impact of proposed increased wages."

"Clearly communicating an unplanned increase in costs to our business is not a campaign to undermine wage rates," he said.

"Our company and I have been long-time supporters of progressive public policies that support a balanced, sustainable and prosperous economy, regardless of politics. This will remain our approach."

Galen Weston

But Leadnow campaign director Logan McIntosh said even if Weston didn't intend to undermine Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne's promise, the group's interpretation of his comments revealed "an opinion that increasing the minimum wage would hurt our economy."

"We see that as a misleading narrative, and by raising the minimum wage, it will help workers make more and then they will spend more, which will ultimately help the economy and reduce inequality," McIntosh said.

Although McIntosh said it was encouraging to hear the Loblaw CEO was in support of progressive public policies, she said he should take those comments further.

"It does leave me wanting them to encourage Mr. Weston to take the next step and issue a statement of support for the $15 minimum wage," she said.

"I think that is a way to really demonstrate that there is that support for progressive policy that will ultimately help both our economy and our workers."

          Re:Politics - USA        
 Ensis Ferrae wrote:
As a Sanders supporter, I actually kind of agree with you here.... Personally, what I had *hoped* would happen with the Democratic campaign, was that Sanders and his honesty would sort of "rub off" on other candidates.... I had hoped that his focusing on the "average joe" in his policies would transfer into the Clinton campaign, and that the Democrats as a whole could agree that as things stand, we cannot continue on this path.

I think Sanders honesty is much over stated. Certainly on the issue I really value honesty - policy development - he's been as mediocre as most Republicans, and miles behind Clinton. Say what you want about Clinton's personal lies, but her policies are based in absolute intellectual honesty, there are no rosy pictures painted by overly generous assumptions.

I do constantly finding myself wondering, when looking at platform issues, what has happened to our country. I mean, if you focus on the issues, and statements, Sanders is actually less "radical" than FDR was.... I happen to agree with Jon Stewart on this point: I think that we have become so accustomed to lunacy and the insanity that our politics has become, that when someone comes along like Sanders and runs on issues and platforms, and doesn't deviate from that, it looks like radicalism.

The whole of the developed world has moved to the right. Part of this has been because the left won on so many issues - we have saftety nets paid through progressive taxation, we have much greater regulations on workplace safety, and all manner of similar things. So politics evolved to debate other things.

I think what's now changing is that we are entering a new economy where jobs and a minimal safefy net just won't cut it anymore - there won't be jobs for everyone in the new economy. Whether we adapt by reducing working hours, or introducing a living wage that still encourages work, or just letting a permanent underclass develop is the new political challenge. And I predict that answering that question will create a new kind of left wing.

Yeah, I know there's all those pieces of "journalism" that say that his tax plan would be insanely expensive and "never work", etc. etc. but I think everyone here would have to agree that he has stuck to issues, and he hasn't resorted to the Rubio, Cruz, etc. tactics of attacking his opponent's spouse, or some personal thing. His attacks on Clinton were, as much as I saw, based entirely on her flip flopping and changing of position.

For a long time I credited both Sanders and Clinton for sticking to substance based debates. But Sanders increasing tendency to make baseless complaints about unfair results, capped with his ridiculous statement in the wake of the Nevada caucus has been more than a little disappointing, and made me worry that he might actually let his ego take over and flame out, rather than actually build a genuine left wing base within the Democratic party.

Oh, and it isn't just some bits of journalism that say his tax plan won't work, his plan was a total shambles, based on ridiculous assumptions. When errors were shown that couldn't be denied, the guy who costed Sanders plan just changed some more assumptions to maintain his original claim. It was exactly the kind of gakky analysis that's led the Republican party to its current terrible policy positions, and anyone on the left who values good government should be extremely critical of anyone on the left who engages in similar nonsense.

Automatically Appended Next Post:
 Ensis Ferrae wrote:
*OREGON!!!! It's an O, not a fething A

Sorry, having grown up there, I think it's safe to say we're a tad bit touchy on the pronunciation of our home state

Sorry, my bad. I actually knew how to spell it, but I guess my fingers were confused
          Re:Politics - USA        
 whembly wrote:
dethork wrote:
I did some number crunching regarding tax brackets and came to the conclusion that I am not smart enough or qualified to write a tax plan. (And I am a professional number cruncher.)

That said, any tax brackets would probably have to be progressive within the tax brackets themselves, not just overall. Tax brackets are exceptionally craptacular for the lower end of the bracket. If our theoretical brackets are [X-$44k] = 5% and [45K-Y] = 10%, the guy making 44k pays $2200 in taxes and keeps $41,800 while the guy making $45k pays $4500 and keeps $40,500. If I made $44k per year and my boss offered me a raise, it would be stupid to accept anything less than $46,500 as otherwise I'd be making less money than before (and actually, only getting an extra $50/year with the $2500 raise). Pretty much wherever you drew the lines would make the bottom amounts worthless.

I will be honest and admit that I am not well informed regarding Bernie's politics, but this points out one problem with the "tax the rich" rhetoric. It is essentially meaningless without knowing where the lines would be drawn.

I'd advocate for a tier'ed flat tax system.

Classify income as all "new money", not simply from your employment wages.

No deduction, credits or any other "social engineering".

0$ to poverty level: 0%
poverty level to $50k: 5%
$50k to $75k: 7.5%
$75k to $100k: 10%
$100k to $200k: 15%
$200k to $500k: 20%
$500k +: 25%

Just pulled those numbers out of my nether region, but you get the idea.

That's essentially what I did while crunching numbers (though I was a bit less friendly with the percentages, lol) right down to basing beginning taxes on the poverty line.

To illustrate the problems with the lower ends of the brackets, lets take the poverty threshold which is about $12,000. Someone making $12k per year will pay $600 in taxes @ 5% and thus really makes $11,400. Thus the taxes have literally impoverished him.

I would propose having both a minimum wage and a living wage. The minimum wage is pretty much as it is now - the company's obligation to pay X amount or the owner can just do the work himself. But, it would in no way try to be a living wage. The living wage would be essentially a guaranteed income (Basic Income). Let's say Poverty Threshold + 10%. No one in the Serene Republic of Dethorkia will be impoverished. Any difference between income and the living wage would be made up for by the government. The government would then compare the company's profits and if it exceeded X% they would be given a commensurate corporate tax rate.

To keep this brief I have not discussed "professional layabouts" or the top earners in the company.

If anyone thinks my financial planning sucks, please note that I have already admitted to not being smart enough to write a comprehensive tax plan. These are brainstorming ideas. I promise by the time I run in the 2032 Elections I will have something better.
          Re:Politics - USA        
dethork wrote:
 whembly wrote:
dethork wrote:
I did some number crunching regarding tax brackets and came to the conclusion that I am not smart enough or qualified to write a tax plan. (And I am a professional number cruncher.)

That said, any tax brackets would probably have to be progressive within the tax brackets themselves, not just overall. Tax brackets are exceptionally craptacular for the lower end of the bracket. If our theoretical brackets are [X-$44k] = 5% and [45K-Y] = 10%, the guy making 44k pays $2200 in taxes and keeps $41,800 while the guy making $45k pays $4500 and keeps $40,500. If I made $44k per year and my boss offered me a raise, it would be stupid to accept anything less than $46,500 as otherwise I'd be making less money than before (and actually, only getting an extra $50/year with the $2500 raise). Pretty much wherever you drew the lines would make the bottom amounts worthless.

I will be honest and admit that I am not well informed regarding Bernie's politics, but this points out one problem with the "tax the rich" rhetoric. It is essentially meaningless without knowing where the lines would be drawn.

I'd advocate for a tier'ed flat tax system.

Classify income as all "new money", not simply from your employment wages.

No deduction, credits or any other "social engineering".

0$ to poverty level: 0%
poverty level to $50k: 5%
$50k to $75k: 7.5%
$75k to $100k: 10%
$100k to $200k: 15%
$200k to $500k: 20%
$500k +: 25%

Just pulled those numbers out of my nether region, but you get the idea.

That's essentially what I did while crunching numbers (though I was a bit less friendly with the percentages, lol) right down to basing beginning taxes on the poverty line.

To illustrate the problems with the lower ends of the brackets, lets take the poverty threshold which is about $12,000. Someone making $12k per year will pay $600 in taxes @ 5% and thus really makes $11,400. Thus the taxes have literally impoverished him.

I would propose having both a minimum wage and a living wage. The minimum wage is pretty much as it is now - the company's obligation to pay X amount or the owner can just do the work himself. But, it would in no way try to be a living wage. The living wage would be essentially a guaranteed income (Basic Income). Let's say Poverty Threshold + 10%. No one in the Serene Republic of Dethorkia will be impoverished. Any difference between income and the living wage would be made up for by the government. The government would then compare the company's profits and if it exceeded X% they would be given a commensurate corporate tax rate.

To keep this brief I have not discussed "professional layabouts" or the top earners in the company.

If anyone thinks my financial planning sucks, please note that I have already admitted to not being smart enough to write a comprehensive tax plan. These are brainstorming ideas. I promise by the time I run in the 2032 Elections I will have something better.

That hypothetical I posted: You'd only get taxed 5% of the $ earned after the poverty demarcation. So if it's $12k, and a person made $12,100... then that person is only taxed $100 at 5%.

You only taxed at whatever band you've received. So, it'd be like you earned $150,000... then your tax liabilities would be:
0$ to poverty level: 0% First $12k is ZERO.
poverty level to $50k: 5% next chunk $38k is $1900.
$50k to $75k: 7.5% Next chunk $25k is $1875.
$75k to $100k: 10% Next chunk $25k is $2500.
$100k to $200k: 15% Next chunk $50k is $7500.

Totalling tax liability of $13,775 of your $150k income, which works out to be ~10.8 percent tax (not include state/local taxes).
          Re:Politics - USA        
 whembly wrote:
dethork wrote:
 whembly wrote:
dethork wrote:
I did some number crunching regarding tax brackets and came to the conclusion that I am not smart enough or qualified to write a tax plan. (And I am a professional number cruncher.)

That said, any tax brackets would probably have to be progressive within the tax brackets themselves, not just overall. Tax brackets are exceptionally craptacular for the lower end of the bracket. If our theoretical brackets are [X-$44k] = 5% and [45K-Y] = 10%, the guy making 44k pays $2200 in taxes and keeps $41,800 while the guy making $45k pays $4500 and keeps $40,500. If I made $44k per year and my boss offered me a raise, it would be stupid to accept anything less than $46,500 as otherwise I'd be making less money than before (and actually, only getting an extra $50/year with the $2500 raise). Pretty much wherever you drew the lines would make the bottom amounts worthless.

I will be honest and admit that I am not well informed regarding Bernie's politics, but this points out one problem with the "tax the rich" rhetoric. It is essentially meaningless without knowing where the lines would be drawn.

I'd advocate for a tier'ed flat tax system.

Classify income as all "new money", not simply from your employment wages.

No deduction, credits or any other "social engineering".

0$ to poverty level: 0%
poverty level to $50k: 5%
$50k to $75k: 7.5%
$75k to $100k: 10%
$100k to $200k: 15%
$200k to $500k: 20%
$500k +: 25%

Just pulled those numbers out of my nether region, but you get the idea.

That's essentially what I did while crunching numbers (though I was a bit less friendly with the percentages, lol) right down to basing beginning taxes on the poverty line.

To illustrate the problems with the lower ends of the brackets, lets take the poverty threshold which is about $12,000. Someone making $12k per year will pay $600 in taxes @ 5% and thus really makes $11,400. Thus the taxes have literally impoverished him.

I would propose having both a minimum wage and a living wage. The minimum wage is pretty much as it is now - the company's obligation to pay X amount or the owner can just do the work himself. But, it would in no way try to be a living wage. The living wage would be essentially a guaranteed income (Basic Income). Let's say Poverty Threshold + 10%. No one in the Serene Republic of Dethorkia will be impoverished. Any difference between income and the living wage would be made up for by the government. The government would then compare the company's profits and if it exceeded X% they would be given a commensurate corporate tax rate.

To keep this brief I have not discussed "professional layabouts" or the top earners in the company.

If anyone thinks my financial planning sucks, please note that I have already admitted to not being smart enough to write a comprehensive tax plan. These are brainstorming ideas. I promise by the time I run in the 2032 Elections I will have something better.

That hypothetical I posted: You'd only get taxed 5% of the $ earned after the poverty demarcation. So if it's $12k, and a person made $12,100... then that person is only taxed $100 at 5%.

5% of $12,100 is $605
          The Hamilton Spectator: Why a $15 minimum wage makes sense for business        

Posted August 4, 2017

When I first entered the world of business ownership, I assumed that keeping wages low was one way to maximize profit — but then again, nothing cheap is truly cheap.
Although I kept up with the required minimum employment standards, it wasn't long before I found myself surrounded by very capable people who felt underpaid and unmotivated. Sales were high, but so were my employee turnover rates. I was spending more and more time hiring and training new staff and scrambling to cover shifts. It's amazing how distant you feel when it seems you're the only one who cares, but also, dare I say, the only one who benefits.
Eventually, I hit an economic crossroad. I had to take some time to re-evaluate where things were going wrong. That's when reality grounded me. I realized my temp staff didn't feel secure, my permanent staff had secondary jobs, few within the workplace had any time to spend with friends and family, and most were struggling to pay their bills.
I hadn't anticipated that my employees would be fatigued from working multiple jobs, and couldn't give me their best. Without a doubt, their problems became an anchor weighing down my business. I needed to change things — and do it quickly.
Today, my wife and I continue to own and operate a small business in Niagara. We champion the entrepreneurial spirit, but strongly encourage the development of good job strategies. Joining business partners through organizations like The Better Way Alliance and Living Wage Ontario, we are committed to creating decent work opportunities and ensuring wages reflect no less than the "basic" realities of day-to-day life.
In exchange, we have a productive workplace in a highly competitive market. I'm proud of our reliable, focused staff and respect their need to know there's shared value in the company's success.
Is that too 2017 of me? In my view, Bill 148, the Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act, is simply catching up with reality and I'm confident many working Ontarians would agree. After all, the term 'working poor' is very real and its impact on everyone is measurable. Poverty brings with it a diminished sense of self-worth, puts a chronic (and costly) strain on our health system, and perpetuates a negative cycle through generations.
With nearly 25 per cent of Ontario's workforce being positively impacted by improved employment standards, I need not implore one's social conscience; just common sense and a few basic mathematics skills should suffice. Heck, you can't truly grow of an economy when a quarter of the workforce has had less and less to spend each year.
Today's debate over minimum wage is predictably cyclical. Historically, we have heard the same arguments ever since we decided to end child labour. I would have hoped by now that decent work and wages would be widely understood as the foundation of a strong economy.
Knee-jerk reactions become highly probable in the face of change, but we all must remember that the laws of supply and demand keep prices in check. Positive stimulus into local economies by working Ontarians who would (have the ability to) spend more in local businesses should give naysayers pause.
Beyond scratching the surface, I feel that Bill 148 is a necessary adjustment to keep the playing fields of our economy fair, strong and healthy. Some will continue to claim this discussion is 'sudden and unexpected,' but those earning $11.40 an hour know it's 'long overdue.'
Those employers who model themselves on minimum standards are continually relying on the government to do the homework for them. Ironically, this bill should be a welcomed piece of legislation. If standards are meant to reflect common societal expectations, then protest coming from those unlikely to be earning less than $15 per hour, screams hypocrisy.
Simply put, it's the government's responsibility to determine and implement current standards. I, for one, encourage them to do so in a timely and effective manner. What would be the point otherwise? By definition, entrepreneurs are innovative and organized. They get ahead of the challenges. They evolve, they don't pack up and run. So, in the spirit of business, let's be innovative, organized, and make our economy work for everyone. Let's not be afraid to raise our expectations.
Damin Starr operates Pre-Line Processing, a manufacturing company in Lincoln, Ont. He lives in Hamilton. A certified Living Wage Employer and a partner of the, Damin presented on Bill 148 before the Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs in Niagara Falls.

          The Globe & Mail: Cheers, criticism greet Ontario plan to raise minimum wage to $15        

Posted June 2, 2017

Sweeping changes to Ontario’s labour legislation have workers and lower-income families cheering over a huge boost to minimum wage and benefits, but the province’s business community warns that the moves will make the province less competitive and drastically raise costs in ways that would be passed on to all Ontarians.
After two years of independent review, the government unveiled proposed amendments to the Employment Standards Act and Labour Relations Act Tuesday, including a rise in the minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2019.
Part-time, contract and temporary workers would also make the same wage as full-time workers for equal work; vacation and personal-leave benefits would be increased across the board; and scheduling rules would become more rigid, ensuring workers get paid for at least three hours if a shift is cancelled.
The proposed legislation – which should be introduced this week to be made law by 2018 – is a victory for low- and moderate-income families, whom Premier Kathleen Wynne said Tuesday should have a fairer share of Ontario’s prosperity.
Voices from across Ontario industry warn, however, that the changes would threaten not just individual businesses but the very prosperity the government wants to spread around – forcing companies into the awkward position of slashing jobs, raising prices or shutting down altogether.
After two years of consultation and analysis, the province introduced its Changing Workplaces Review report last week. Authored by labour-law experts C. Michael Mitchell and John Murray, it suggested neither a minimum-wage hike nor outright shift-scheduling regulations, insisting the latter be addressed by sector-specific committees – a divergence from expectations that’s left business advocates frustrated.
Despite being involved for the full two-year process, Ryan Mallough, policy analyst with the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, said that “at no time did they ask us or consult on minimum wage…. So I think the initial reaction here is we’re feeling pretty blindsided.”
He said in an interview that the proposed legislation, when combined with other additional costs – such as rising employment-insurance premiums and cap-and-trade programs – will make it “very difficult for a business owner in Ontario to manage all these cost pressures.”
Citing Ms. Wynne’s own 2014 minimum-wage advisory panel as an example – which found that a 10-per-cent increase in the minimum would lead to a 1-to-3-per-cent reduction in teenagers’ employment – Ontario Chamber of Commerce vice-president Karl Baldauf said he hoped the government spends the summer examining evidence-based impacts of its proposals to help transition both employers and workers into the new labour ecosystem.
“Employers understand more needs to be done, but if that needs to take place, you have to help them transition,” Mr. Baldauf said.
The increase to the minimum wage will be phased in over the next 18 months, rising to $14 an hour on Jan. 1, 2018. Workers who have held a job for five years will now be entitled to three weeks of paid vacation. They will also have the right to 10 emergency days annually, two of which must be paid; reasons for leave will be expanded, meanwhile, to include the experience or threat of domestic or sexual violence.
The proposals are “a step in the right direction,” said Chris Buckley, president of the Ontario Federation of Labour, which plans to push for further rights improvements for workers. Kemba Robinson, spokeswoman for the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, an advocacy group for low- and moderate-income families, called the wage-boost crucial.
“People on low income will be rejoicing,” she said. “There are families that have to choose between buying food and paying rent, and we don’t think that is a fair choice. This is a significant improvement in their quality of life.”
Employers will now be required to pay an employee three hours’ wages if their shift is cancelled with less than 48 hours’ notice – including if they’re on call and not called into work. “Workers deserve a degree of certainty, especially when you need these shifts in order to make it through the month,” Ms. Wynne said Tuesday.
Service-focused businesses, however, say they will have to make tough decisions over the ensuing cost increases. “It’s going to have the opposite effect of what [the Ontario government is] hoping to have,” says Mike Ziola, partner and general manager with Biagio’s Italian Kitchen in Ottawa. He and other restaurateurs regularly have to make staffing changes to accommodate cancelled reservations or weather changes, making the proposed scheduling regulations prohibitively costly.
Mr. Ziola says his staff will suffer. “It’s going to cost hostesses, cost dishwashers.” Tony Elenis, chief executive of the Ontario Restaurant Hotel and Motel Association, said the changes “seem totally out of touch with the practices of running an operation.”
Job-loss rhetoric, however, does tend to come up whenever minimum wages rise; Miana Plesca, an associate professor studying labour economics at the University of Guelph, says it can be overblown. “It’s not as big as business owners would like us to think,” she said. “I don’t think it’s going to have a huge impact.”
Carleton University economics professor Frances Woolley said that customers of some businesses – particularly those that hire more vulnerable populations but service the more affluent – should be prepared to embrace higher costs. “If I pay more for my brunch so somebody gets a decent wage, I’m not convinced that’s a bad thing at all,” she said.
The plan didn’t go as far as some of the government’s advisers would have liked, Labour Minister Kevin Flynn acknowledged on Tuesday. There was broad advice to remove a lower wage for young workers and liquor servers, as well as to require seven days of paid leave, he said. The government chose to go with more modest changes. “These are a new set of minimums but we already know that most Ontario businesses already exceed these minimums and treat their employees well,” he told reporters.
Students and liquor servers will still have separate, lower minimum wages than the standard under the proposed legislation, but they’ll both still rise: to $14.10 and $13.05, respectively, in 2019.
The plan also changes union rules, making it easier for temporary workers, building-services workers as well as home and community-care workers, to unionize.
The plan will allow unions to access employee lists and contact information if they’ve proved that 20 per cent already support organizing. This has Jocelyn Williams Bamford, founder of Ontario’s Coalition of Concerned Manufacturers, and vice-president of Toronto’s Automatic Coating Ltd., worried about invasion of privacy on top of all the additional costs the proposed legislation would bring.
She said the increased costs to Ontario’s small and medium businesses are putting significant pressure on them to move operations elsewhere, or potentially even shut down. “We’re going to see the loss of family businesses, because they’re just on unfair footing now,” Ms. Williams Bamford said. Combined with rising future energy costs and cap-and-trade legislation, “it’s death by 1,000 cuts.… While we’re getting less competitive in terms of our legislation, the U.S. is getting more competitive to draw and attract business.”
Progressive Conservative Leader Patrick Brown wouldn’t say whether he would cancel the increase in the minimum wage to $15 if he defeats Ms. Wynne’s Liberals next year. The opposition leader was muted in his criticism and said he needed to see the government’s cost-benefit analysis of the increased costs first.
“We’re going to make sure that where there are aspects that are worthy of support, like emergency leave, that we will voice that. Where there are concerns, where there is not substantial analysis to back up the government’s assertions, we will point that out,” he said at Queen’s Park.
NDP Leader Andrea Horwath dismissed the plan as a last-minute ploy by the Liberals to convince labour-minded voters a year before the next general election that Ms. Wynne is a friend of workers. “For 14 years they’ve done nothing to address the erosion of people’s standard of living,” she said, referring to the length of the Liberals’ time in power.
Article by Josh O'Kane and Justin Giovannetti for the Globe & Mail


          CBC News Ottawa: Minimum Wage Rising        

Posted June 1, 2017

Click here to listen to the story



Source: CBC News Ottawa




          $15/hr Min Wage Victory for Low Wage Workers // Victoire! Salaire minimum de 15$/h pour travailleuses et travailleurs à bas salaire!         

Posted June 1, 2017

ACORN members in Ottawa have been fighting for wage increases since 2008 so we're happy to see the Ontario government bring forward a $15/hr min wage. This is a victory for low wage workers across the province and demonstrates the power of organizing. Thanks to allies like $15 and Fairness and other labour/community groups fighting alongside this issue. For more on the announcement check out ACORN member and min wage worker, Aisha Abdunnar, with her thoughts in today's Metro:  
Les membres d'ACORN Ottawa luttent pour des augmentations de salaire depuis 2008, de sorte que nous sommes heureux de voir le gouvernement de l'Ontario annoncer un salaire minimum de 15 $ / heure. Ceci est une victoire pour les travailleurs à bas salaire de toute la province et démontre la puissance de s'organiser. Remerciements aux alliés comme "15$ and Fairness" et aux syndicats et groupes communautaires unis dans la lutte sur cette question. Pour en savoir plus sur l'annonce, consultez le "Metro" d'aujourd'hui et écoutez "Ottawa Morning" sur la radio de CBC où Aisha Abdunnar, membre d'ACORN et travailleuse à salaire minimum, exprime ses pensées:

          Metro News: Ottawa groups respond to minimum wage        

Posted June 1, 2017

Minimum wage in Ontario will rise dramatically over the next two years, rising to $15 by 2019.
The minimum wage increase was the centrepiece of a slew of reforms Premier Kathleen Wynne revealed in a campaign-style setting, including ensuring equal pay for part-time workers, increasing vacation entitlements and expanding personal emergency leave.
“Our plan takes dead aim at the challenges that confront us in this new, uncertain world,” she said, citing the Liberals' pharmacare plan, a basic income pilot project, 100,000 new child-care spaces, and a plan to cool the housing market.
“It puts fairness at the heart of all we do.”
Ontario's minimum wage increase will be phased-in gradually. It will rise, as scheduled, with inflation from $11.40 currently to $11.60 in October. Then, the government plans to bump it up to $14 an hour on Jan. 1, 2018 and $15 the following year.
Ten per cent of Ontario workers currently make the minimum wage, Wynne said, and 30 per cent make less than $15 an hour.
Ottawa Acorn Member Aisha Abdunnur works for minimum wage today and has been part of the group’s efforts to see it rise.
She said today’s $11.40 is just enough.
“I am living paycheque to paycheque, because it just covers the cost of my living,” she said. “My budget right now doesn’t even really cover groceries.”
She said $15 an hour would make all the difference.
“In order for me to be able to save and pay back my debt and pay for living expenses, it’s gong to be really awesome. It’s going to help us out,” she said.  
The Ottawa Chamber was not prepared to comment on the government’s announcement on Tuesday.
But when rumours the government was considering a change first came forward earlier this month, the chamber joined other business groups denouncing the move.
Article by Ryan Tumilty for Metro News

          City News: Highlights of Ontario's planned changes to labour laws        

Posted May 31, 2017

Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne has announced a host of changes to labour laws in the province, as the changing nature of work leaves people with less secure jobs, fewer benefits and fewer protections.
Click here to watch the video - including an interview with Toronto ACORN member Mandana Arastonejad!
A move to a $15-an-hour minimum wage is a key part of the plan. It would rise from $11.40 currently to $14 per hour in 2018, then to $15 in 2019. Here are some of the other planks of the Liberal government proposal:
  • Casual, part-time, temporary and seasonal employees will be given equal pay to full-time employees for doing equal work. There would be exceptions based on seniority and a merit system.
  • Lower minimum wage rates for liquor servers, students under 18, hunting and fishing guides, and homeworkers will also rise along with the general minimum wage.
  • Once an employee works for a company for five years, they will be entitled to three weeks of paid vacation.
  • Personal emergency leave would no longer only apply to workers at companies with 50 or more employees. All workers will get 10 days per year, two of them paid. Domestic or sexual violence will be included as a reason for personal emergency leave.
  • Employers will not be allowed to request a sick note from an employee taking personal emergency leave.
  • Give unpaid leave of up to 104 weeks to parents whose children die. It is currently only offered to parents when a child’s death is related to a crime.
  • Employers must pay three hours of wages if they cancel a shift with fewer than 48 hours notice.
  • Employees can refuse shifts without repercussion if the employer gives them less than four days notice.
  • Employees on call must be paid three hours at their regular pay rate.
  • Employees will have the right to request changes to their schedule after working somewhere for three months.
  • Temp agency workers must get at least one week’s notice when a job that was supposed to last longer than three months will end early. If that notice is not given, the employee must be paid the difference.
  • Companies that misclassify workers as “independent contractors” instead of employees in order to skirt labour law obligations would be subject to fines.
  • The maximum fine for employers who violate employment standards laws will be increased from $250, $500 and $1,000 for various violations to $350, $700 and $1,500. The government will publish the names of those who are fined.
  • The maximum fines under the Labour Relations Act would increase from $2,000 for individuals and $25,000 for organizations to $5,000 and $100,000.
  • Trainees will be afforded the same rights as all employees, but people on a co-op or internship program through school would not be.
  • Make it easier for home care and community services workers, people in the building services sector, and those who work through temp agencies to unionize.
  • Allow unions to access employee lists and certain contact information if the union can demonstrate it has the support of 20 per cent of employees.



Source: City News

          Minimum Wage Increase to $15 by January 2019        

Posted May 30, 2017

Today, the Ontario Government announced plans to the increase minimum wage to $15 by 2019, to raise Employment Standards and tighten enforcement, and to make important changes to the Labour Relations Act.  

ACORN members are pleased to see this step forward.

“An increase of this much will have a significant impact on low wage workers, it will make it easier for them to feed families, and pay the rent," said ACORN Leader Alejandra Ruiz Vargas.

Congratulations to the Fight for $15 and Fairness and Community and Labour allies across the province who organized to make this happen!  

See the announcement here  

Read the OFL’s response here 





          Gisele Bouvier speaks to CBC and Radio Canada about $15 minimum wage        

Posted May 23, 2017

Gisele Bouvier of Ottawa ACORN spoke to CBC and Radio Canada about a $15 minimum wage, paid sick days and improvements to scheduling - listen:





          Metro News Ottawa: Advocates: Ontario plan to overhaul labour laws, boost minimum wage step in the right direction        

Posted May 16, 2017

Advocates say rumoured plans for sweeping labour reforms including a $15 minimum wage can't come soon enough to help those struggling to make ends meet. 
The Ontario Liberal cabinet will decide in the next week how far it will take a package of labour reforms introduced after a two-year review, government sources have said.
Those plans include the possiblity of raising minimum wage from the current $11.40 an hour to $15 after a period of time to phase it in.  
According to details of the plan revealed over the weekend, among the proposals before cabinet, the government is considering boosting vacation pay from two to three weeks minimum, forcing employers to clearly demonstrate why a part-time position is not a full-time permanent job, and reducing hurdles to unionize for workers in small or scattered workplaces.
Amber Slegtenhorst, an Ottawa single mother with seven kids, who volunteers with the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) Canada, said the minimum wage increase will make a huge difference in her life. She is currently making $14 an hour.
“All your fixed responsibilities: rent, hydro, heat, food, I have a vehicle, so insurance for my vehicle, gas, medications, those sorts of things fixed expenses that I have to pay every month and at $14 an hour, there’s just no way,” she said, saying $1 an hour more would help. 
“A dollar an hour is going to make a huge difference.”
Trish Hennessy, Ontario director for the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives called the new measures a step in the right direction but said they would have to be implemented quickly to make a real difference.
“I think the faster the better, but you want to give businesses a little bit of lead time to plan for it,” she said, adding she thinks phasing it in a $15-minimum wage within a year in a half would be fair, especially as Alberta has already said it will achieve that wage by Oct. 1, 2018.
But she cautioned that already $15 an hour is not a living wage in the province, saying her organization tracks living wages in 32 cities across Ontario. 
Ottawa is not included in the data. But in Kingston, the closet city, a family with two working adults and two children, would both have to make $16.58 an hour to learn a living wage.
Article by Alex Abdelwahab for Metro News Ottawa

          Ontario Budget Response from ACORN Canada President Marva Burnett // Réaction de la présidente d’ACORN Marva Burnett au budget de l’Ontario         

Posted April 28, 2017

Le texte français suit
While ACORN and our allies were able to achieve successes for low-to-moderate income people - some announced in today’s budget and some last week on rent control - today’s budget makes it clear that we need to continue to pressure the Provincial government to make Ontario an affordable place for regular people to live.
Asset levels for ODSP: ACORN is pleased that the government is increasing the asset levels for people on OW and ODSP significantly. While we would have liked it to go further, increases to $50,000 for a couple on ODSP allows for people to manage their own finances with dignity. This $480 million dollar investment is something that will benefit entire communities not just people on assistance.
Basic Income Pilot leaves the remaining 896,000 families on OW and ODSP – those not part of the pilot - with nothing. These are our members. By starting the pilot the Liberals are acknowledging that the OW and ODSP programs are a failure, but wrongly stop 896,000 families short of coming anywhere close to fixing the problem. Impoverished people on disability are being asked to wait till 2020 to see if the basic income pilot will become a reality for everyone in Ontario.
People with disabilities have waited long enough. This is why ACORN supports the broader call to raise all the rates by $500 per month. The paltry 2% raise for OW and ODSP offered in this budget means that people on ODSP will continued to have their poverty legislated by the provincial government.
Predatory Lending: ACORN members supported many of the recent consumer protections to the payday lending industry such as the commitment to lower the interest rate to $15 on $100. However, we feel the government is missing an opportunity by not helping foster alternatives t, specifically by not working with credit unions to create low interest alternatives to fringe lenders. We also are disappointed the government isn’t creating a real-time database of loans to stop roll over loans and loan flipping and help stop the cycle of debt that happens as a result of fringe lending. Further, we are disappointed that an extended repayment system hasn’t been created. We support the Alberta system where borrowers can pay back payday loans in 2 months rather than 2 weeks. This also would have eased the predatory lending crisis.
Rent Control: As noted in the press last week, ACORN is pleased that the Provincial Government is taking a significant step to stop landlords from gouging hard working tenants.
Fixing Community Housing: The housing crisis is of epic proportions in Ontario for low-to-moderate income families. Municipal Public Housing Agencies are facing incredible pressures while the provincial and federal governments continue to neglect their responsibilities. The lack of money announced in this to do the repairs necessary leave social housing tenants vulnerable.
Marva Burnett
President, ACORN Canada
For further comments contact: John Anderson 647 204 2767 (Toronto) Jill O’Reilly 613 808 6523 (Ottawa) or Judy Duncan at 416 996 9401
Bien qu’ACORN et nos alliés aient pu remporter du succès pour les personnes à faible et modeste revenu – selon l’annonce budgétaire d’aujourd’hui et celle sur le contrôle des loyers la semaine passée – le budget rend bien évident que nous devons continuer à exercer des pressions sur le gouvernement provincial pour faire de l’Ontario un endroit abordable où peuvent vivre les gens ordinaires.
Limites permises d’actifs du POSPH : ACORN est heureux que le gouvernement augmentera sensiblement les limites permises d’actifs pour les bénéficiaires de OT et POSPH. Bien que nous aurions préféré plus, l’augmentation du plafond à 50,000$ pour un couple sur POSPH permettra aux personnes de gérer leurs propres finances avec dignité. Cet investissement de 480 millions de dollars sera profitable, pas seulement aux personnes sur l’aide sociale, mais à la collectivité dans son ensemble.
Le projet pilote portant sur le revenu de base ne fait rien pour les 896,000 familles bénéficiaires de POSPH et OT qui ne font pas partie du projet pilote. Ce sont nos membres. En démarrant ce projet pilote les Libéraux reconnaissent l’échec des programmes POSPH et OT et repoussent à tort ces 896,000 familles loin d’un règlement du problème. On demande à ces personnes démunies d’attendre jusqu’en 2020 pour savoir si le projet pilote sera réalisable pour tous vivant en Ontario.
Les personnes handicapées ont attendu assez longtemps. Pour cette raison, ACORN appuie l’appel plus large à une hausse de 500$ par mois de toutes les prestations. La maigre augmentation de 2% pour OT et POSPH offerte dans ce budget signifie que ces personnes devront continuer à vivre dans une pauvreté légiférée par le gouvernement provincial
Prêts abusifs : Les membres d’ACORN appuient plusieurs des mesures de protection des consommateurs concernant l’industrie des prêts sur salaire, telle que l’engagement de réduire le taux d’intérêt à 15$ sur un prêt de 100$. Cependant, nous jugeons que le gouvernement rate une occasion en omettant d’encourager des alternatives, en particulier en ne travaillant pas avec les credit unions pour la création de prêts à faible intérêt comme alternative aux prêteurs marginaux. Nous sommes aussi déçus que le gouvernement ne crée pas une base de données en temps réel pour mettre fin au crédit adossé et à la reconduction des prêts et ainsi terminer le cycle d’endettement, résultat du recours aux prêts marginaux. Nous sommes également déçus de l’omission de la création d’un système de remboursement prolongé. Nous appuyons le système de l’Alberta où les emprunteurs peuvent rembourser leur prêt sur salaire sur une période de 2 mois au lieu de 2 semaines. Tout ceci aurait atténué la crise des prêts prédateurs.
Contrôle des loyers : Tel que noté dans la presse la semaine passée, ACORN se réjouit que le gouvernement provincial ait franchi un pas important pour empêcher les propriétaires locateurs d’escroquer les locataires travaillants. 
Réparer le logement social : La crise du logement a pris des proportions épiques pour les familles à faible et modeste revenu de l’Ontario. Les agences de logement municipales font face à des pressions incroyables tandis que les gouvernements fédéral et provincial continuent à négliger leurs responsabilités. Le manque de fonds annoncé dans ce budget pour les réparations nécessaires laisse vulnérables les locataires de logement social.
Marva Burnett
Présidente, ACORN Canada
Pour plus de commentaires communiquez avec : John Anderson 647 204 2767 (Toronto) Jill O’Reilly 613 808 6523 (Ottawa) ou Judy Duncan at 416 996 9401

          Politics - USA        
 Dreadwinter wrote:
xraytango wrote:
 Ensis Ferrae wrote:
Asterios wrote:
[HRC and Sanders are so disconnected from todays reality they have no clue still what is going on,

You must not have seen/heard any of Sanders' speeches... Sure, some on these boards think his ideas are "pie in the sky," but the majority of his statements are certainly grounded in reality.

Wage stagnation is a real thing. College tuition has sky rocketed, outstripping the potential earnings/salary once people leave school, etc. etc. etc.

Wage stagnation is a real thing and now all the hamburger flippers and grocery baggers want $15 an hour?
Those jobs aren't worth that, nor are they intended to be used to support oneself. Why is a hamburger flipper worth being paid just a little less than a skilled tradesman?

You want more money? Get skills. Simple as that.

Actually, they are intended to support oneself. That is literally what "minimum wage" means. It is kind of ridiculous thinking to say that you can work 40 hours a week flipping burgers in a hot high stress environment and it is not meant to support you. But people working in a factory, some of the easiest jobs I have ever had in my life, should be able to support themselves with it. Factories are not skilled labor, but we absolutely need factory workers to make things. Since it is not skilled, should they not be able to support themselves?

I assume since you did not know what "minimum wage" meant, you also do not know how inflation works. Inflation is why we need to raise minimum wage.

Now your issue with skilled tradesmen. They should be paid more than they are right now. They are being grossly underpaid for what they do. Just because people want the minimum wage to be raised, does not mean they do not think people making over the minimum wage are also being underpaid for their work. That is just a goofy argument.

fast food was never meant to be a living wage job, it was meant as an entry level job for kids and teens to learn work habits, problem is with many businesses leaving the country real jobs are becoming scarce, as to Manufacturing jobs being easier then Fast food, no they are not with Manufacturing jobs you have to meet certain quotas and such, fast food you don't.
          Politics - USA        
 Gordon Shumway wrote:
@sebster: You are probably right. Hell, I don't even think he really wanted to be president when it comes down to it, just get his message out. Turns out his message was more popular than the messenger thought.

Yeah, I think everyone has been surprised by Sanders appeal. I guess part of it is because Clinton's message is basically just 'more like what we've just had'. Nothing wrong with that message, but it was never going to shut everyone else out like people had expected.

Then the other part is that it turns out the electorate just isn't scared by 'socialism' as people generally thought. That's probably the part that will have lasting consequences going forward.

Automatically Appended Next Post:
Asterios wrote:
fast food was never meant to be a living wage job, it was meant as an entry level job for kids and teens to learn work habits

You don't set policy according to the economy you're 'meant' to have, you set it according the economy you actually have. And here in the real world the majority of people working in fast good are adults.

problem is with many businesses leaving the country real jobs are becoming scarce

Actually the number and scale of businesses in the US is bigger than ever. The issue is that companies employ less people, because automation now dominates.

with Manufacturing jobs you have to meet certain quotas and such, fast food you don't.

          Politics - USA        
Asterios wrote:
 Dreadwinter wrote:
xraytango wrote:
 Ensis Ferrae wrote:
Asterios wrote:
[HRC and Sanders are so disconnected from todays reality they have no clue still what is going on,

You must not have seen/heard any of Sanders' speeches... Sure, some on these boards think his ideas are "pie in the sky," but the majority of his statements are certainly grounded in reality.

Wage stagnation is a real thing. College tuition has sky rocketed, outstripping the potential earnings/salary once people leave school, etc. etc. etc.

Wage stagnation is a real thing and now all the hamburger flippers and grocery baggers want $15 an hour?
Those jobs aren't worth that, nor are they intended to be used to support oneself. Why is a hamburger flipper worth being paid just a little less than a skilled tradesman?

You want more money? Get skills. Simple as that.

Actually, they are intended to support oneself. That is literally what "minimum wage" means. It is kind of ridiculous thinking to say that you can work 40 hours a week flipping burgers in a hot high stress environment and it is not meant to support you. But people working in a factory, some of the easiest jobs I have ever had in my life, should be able to support themselves with it. Factories are not skilled labor, but we absolutely need factory workers to make things. Since it is not skilled, should they not be able to support themselves?

I assume since you did not know what "minimum wage" meant, you also do not know how inflation works. Inflation is why we need to raise minimum wage.

Now your issue with skilled tradesmen. They should be paid more than they are right now. They are being grossly underpaid for what they do. Just because people want the minimum wage to be raised, does not mean they do not think people making over the minimum wage are also being underpaid for their work. That is just a goofy argument.

fast food was never meant to be a living wage job, it was meant as an entry level job for kids and teens to learn work habits, problem is with many businesses leaving the country real jobs are becoming scarce, as to Manufacturing jobs being easier then Fast food, no they are not with Manufacturing jobs you have to meet certain quotas and such, fast food you don't.

No, you are wrong. ANY job that pays minimum wage is supposed to provide a living wage.

So, you are not telling me that fast food restaurants are not held to a certain speed "quota" in order to get orders out fast and accurate? Seriously, what kind of restaurant did you work at? You guys have like a 5% order accuracy?
          Politics - USA        
 Dreadwinter wrote:
Asterios wrote:
 Dreadwinter wrote:
xraytango wrote:
 Ensis Ferrae wrote:
Asterios wrote:
[HRC and Sanders are so disconnected from todays reality they have no clue still what is going on,

You must not have seen/heard any of Sanders' speeches... Sure, some on these boards think his ideas are "pie in the sky," but the majority of his statements are certainly grounded in reality.

Wage stagnation is a real thing. College tuition has sky rocketed, outstripping the potential earnings/salary once people leave school, etc. etc. etc.

Wage stagnation is a real thing and now all the hamburger flippers and grocery baggers want $15 an hour?
Those jobs aren't worth that, nor are they intended to be used to support oneself. Why is a hamburger flipper worth being paid just a little less than a skilled tradesman?

You want more money? Get skills. Simple as that.

Actually, they are intended to support oneself. That is literally what "minimum wage" means. It is kind of ridiculous thinking to say that you can work 40 hours a week flipping burgers in a hot high stress environment and it is not meant to support you. But people working in a factory, some of the easiest jobs I have ever had in my life, should be able to support themselves with it. Factories are not skilled labor, but we absolutely need factory workers to make things. Since it is not skilled, should they not be able to support themselves?

I assume since you did not know what "minimum wage" meant, you also do not know how inflation works. Inflation is why we need to raise minimum wage.

Now your issue with skilled tradesmen. They should be paid more than they are right now. They are being grossly underpaid for what they do. Just because people want the minimum wage to be raised, does not mean they do not think people making over the minimum wage are also being underpaid for their work. That is just a goofy argument.

fast food was never meant to be a living wage job, it was meant as an entry level job for kids and teens to learn work habits, problem is with many businesses leaving the country real jobs are becoming scarce, as to Manufacturing jobs being easier then Fast food, no they are not with Manufacturing jobs you have to meet certain quotas and such, fast food you don't.

No, you are wrong. ANY job that pays minimum wage is supposed to provide a living wage.

So, you are not telling me that fast food restaurants are not held to a certain speed "quota" in order to get orders out fast and accurate? Seriously, what kind of restaurant did you work at? You guys have like a 5% order accuracy?

my local McDonald's has like 20 workers working at any time, each employee has basically one job, and one job only, if they are working the register, they work the register and the register only, if they are working expediting then they expedite (usually the shift leader is expediting on the drive thru and is not the drive thru cashier since that is in another window before you drive up to get your food. they have a worker on the fryer, they have a worker who puts the burgers together and so on and so on.

now the real problem with jobs like fast food is employees maybe work like 18-20 hours a week if lucky, as to fast food needing to get food out in a timely manner, seriously have you been to any fast food places? speed is not their forte.
          Politics - USA        
Asterios wrote:
 Dreadwinter wrote:
xraytango wrote:
 Ensis Ferrae wrote:
Asterios wrote:
[HRC and Sanders are so disconnected from todays reality they have no clue still what is going on,

You must not have seen/heard any of Sanders' speeches... Sure, some on these boards think his ideas are "pie in the sky," but the majority of his statements are certainly grounded in reality.

Wage stagnation is a real thing. College tuition has sky rocketed, outstripping the potential earnings/salary once people leave school, etc. etc. etc.

Wage stagnation is a real thing and now all the hamburger flippers and grocery baggers want $15 an hour?
Those jobs aren't worth that, nor are they intended to be used to support oneself. Why is a hamburger flipper worth being paid just a little less than a skilled tradesman?

You want more money? Get skills. Simple as that.

Actually, they are intended to support oneself. That is literally what "minimum wage" means. It is kind of ridiculous thinking to say that you can work 40 hours a week flipping burgers in a hot high stress environment and it is not meant to support you. But people working in a factory, some of the easiest jobs I have ever had in my life, should be able to support themselves with it. Factories are not skilled labor, but we absolutely need factory workers to make things. Since it is not skilled, should they not be able to support themselves?

I assume since you did not know what "minimum wage" meant, you also do not know how inflation works. Inflation is why we need to raise minimum wage.

Now your issue with skilled tradesmen. They should be paid more than they are right now. They are being grossly underpaid for what they do. Just because people want the minimum wage to be raised, does not mean they do not think people making over the minimum wage are also being underpaid for their work. That is just a goofy argument.

fast food was never meant to be a living wage job, it was meant as an entry level job for kids and teens to learn work habits, problem is with many businesses leaving the country real jobs are becoming scarce, as to Manufacturing jobs being easier then Fast food, no they are not with Manufacturing jobs you have to meet certain quotas and such, fast food you don't.

Jobs aren't generally (or almost ever) designed with the intent of filling a needed role on the part of the jobber. It's either something worth paying a wage over, or it's something else trivial, like a chore you recompense a family member for doing. If you are a productive member of a modern capitalist society, you should receive a living wage, if for no other reason than that modern capitalist societies can and do afford your production.

If it's part of an industry, than it's entry level job should allow someone to support themselves with a full-time wage. If it can't, that's because the industry is financially unviable in a modern context. And fast-food is a profitable venture in the Western world.
They have no excuse to maintain such low wages.

And finally, fast-food restaurants can't leave your country without opening a business opportunity for others, so it does have that over factory work.
          Politics - USA        
 Kovnik Obama wrote:
Asterios wrote:
 Dreadwinter wrote:
xraytango wrote:
 Ensis Ferrae wrote:
Asterios wrote:
[HRC and Sanders are so disconnected from todays reality they have no clue still what is going on,

You must not have seen/heard any of Sanders' speeches... Sure, some on these boards think his ideas are "pie in the sky," but the majority of his statements are certainly grounded in reality.

Wage stagnation is a real thing. College tuition has sky rocketed, outstripping the potential earnings/salary once people leave school, etc. etc. etc.

Wage stagnation is a real thing and now all the hamburger flippers and grocery baggers want $15 an hour?
Those jobs aren't worth that, nor are they intended to be used to support oneself. Why is a hamburger flipper worth being paid just a little less than a skilled tradesman?

You want more money? Get skills. Simple as that.

Actually, they are intended to support oneself. That is literally what "minimum wage" means. It is kind of ridiculous thinking to say that you can work 40 hours a week flipping burgers in a hot high stress environment and it is not meant to support you. But people working in a factory, some of the easiest jobs I have ever had in my life, should be able to support themselves with it. Factories are not skilled labor, but we absolutely need factory workers to make things. Since it is not skilled, should they not be able to support themselves?

I assume since you did not know what "minimum wage" meant, you also do not know how inflation works. Inflation is why we need to raise minimum wage.

Now your issue with skilled tradesmen. They should be paid more than they are right now. They are being grossly underpaid for what they do. Just because people want the minimum wage to be raised, does not mean they do not think people making over the minimum wage are also being underpaid for their work. That is just a goofy argument.

fast food was never meant to be a living wage job, it was meant as an entry level job for kids and teens to learn work habits, problem is with many businesses leaving the country real jobs are becoming scarce, as to Manufacturing jobs being easier then Fast food, no they are not with Manufacturing jobs you have to meet certain quotas and such, fast food you don't.

Jobs aren't generally (or almost ever) designed with the intent of filling a needed role on the part of the jobber. It's either something worth paying a wage over, or it's something else trivial, like a chore you recompense a family member for doing. If you are a productive member of a modern capitalist society, you should receive a living wage, if for no other reason than that modern capitalist societies can and do afford your production.

If it's part of an industry, than it's entry level job should allow someone to support themselves with a full-time wage. If it can't, that's because the industry is financially unviable in a modern context. And fast-food is a profitable venture in the Western world.
They have no excuse to maintain such low wages.

And finally, fast-food restaurants can't leave your country without opening a business opportunity for others, so it does have that over factory work.

actually around here I've already seen 2 fast food places close down this year by me, both of them were torn down and paved over into a parking spaces (one of them I have no clue why since they have way more parking spaces then they will ever need for the couple of small stores by them.) so you are right they don't leave the country, they just leave period, also what is a living wage, that differs whereever you go? I can live comfortably on less then $1,500 a month (I do now) and I own a home. yet people are saying they cannot.
          Politics - USA        
Asterios wrote:
actually around here I've already seen 2 fast food places close down this year by me, both of them were torn down and paved over into a parking spaces (one of them I have no clue why since they have way more parking spaces then they will ever need for the couple of small stores by them.) so you are right they don't leave the country, they just leave period

Is there less population in your area? Is the economy that much worst than it was before? Because otherwise people still need to be fed, and even people with low-ncome tend to go to fast-food places. Possibly even more than high income individuals. Perhaps there was oversaturation. Perhaps the franchise terms were prohibitive.

Asterios wrote:
also what is a living wage, that differs whereever you go? I can live comfortably on less then $1,500 a month (I do now) and I own a home. yet people are saying they cannot.

Depends on your country's public policy, but it's either the minimum salary needed for an adult to meet a series of needs (housing, feeding, clothing, utilities, health care, transport) and have some leftover for personal expenses or education, or the minimum salary needed for a adult member of a family to meet the same needs for his household.

Since we are moving away from nuclear families being the quintessential driver of society, I think we should separate completely the idea of a living wage and that of a family living wage, but alas my government doesn't agree with me.
          Politics - USA        
 Kovnik Obama wrote:
Asterios wrote:
actually around here I've already seen 2 fast food places close down this year by me, both of them were torn down and paved over into a parking spaces (one of them I have no clue why since they have way more parking spaces then they will ever need for the couple of small stores by them.) so you are right they don't leave the country, they just leave period

Is there less population in your area? Is the economy that much worst than it was before? Because otherwise people still need to be fed, and even people with low-ncome tend to go to fast-food places. Possibly even more than high income individuals. Perhaps there was oversaturation. Perhaps the franchise terms were prohibitive.

Asterios wrote:
also what is a living wage, that differs whereever you go? I can live comfortably on less then $1,500 a month (I do now) and I own a home. yet people are saying they cannot.

Depends on your country's public policy, but it's either the minimum salary needed for an adult to meet a series of needs (housing, feeding, clothing, utilities, health care, transport) and have some leftover for personal expenses or education, or the minimum salary needed for a adult member of a family to meet the same needs for his household.

Since we are moving away from nuclear families being the quintessential driver of society, I think we should separate completely the idea of a living wage and that of a family living wage, but alas my government doesn't agree with me.

I'm in Stockton, Ca. google it nuff said.

 Frazzled wrote:
As a Texan my only concern would be whether even more Californians would want to move here.

you guys keep taking our businesses, Texas and Nevada.
          Poll opinion        
THE PEOPLE of Blackwood get a chance to show their opinion on the living wage and other Labour failures.
          CSP's 2017 Indie Influencers        
Article Summary: 

How 10 retailers are redefining the mom-and-pop shop

Enhanced Slideshow: 
independent retailer statistics

This is an origin story. It’s a story about the heartbeat of an industry. It’s about grit, strategy, smarts and stamina. And at its center: independence.

The 10 retailers featured in CSP’s inaugural Indie Influencers list have clout—from D.C. to their street corner. Their authority is bigger than their store counts, none larger than 10 locations. There’s a native son, a chef, a neighborhood king and a balloonist.

And though there are plenty of great independent retailers in the United States—tens of thousands, actually—these 10 operators define what it takes to be a mom-and-pop business in 2017. At the heart of each story is the steady beat of the industry they love, each with its own unique, independent rhythm.

The NIMBY Slayer

36 Lyn Refuel Station

Community Hub

Lonnie McQuirter | 36 Lyn Refuel Station


Lonnie McQuirter’s dad used to own a cleaning company. His mantra: Treat your employees well. When that little boy grew up and took over his dad’s convenience store, he too put the employees first.

“You have to take care of those that take care of you,” McQuirter says. “We’ve always paid our staff a living wage since we’ve been in operation. And all of our community outreach comes from there.”

The store—branded BP but with McQuirter’s own brand, 36 Lyn Refuel Station, above the door—is situated in the central flow of urban Minneapolis, at a blue-collar/white-collar crossroads. The store itself “is kind of a pig with a lot of good lipstick on it,” says McQuirter. Bone broth, vegan jerky and almond milk sit alongside c-store staples in the matchbox-sized store. In front of the acrylic sliding windows at the counter are locally made snacks and a heaping pile of bananas.

Operating in a dichotomy of pervasive not-in-my-backyard (NIMBY) sentiment and neighbors who bring him home-cooked lunches, McQuirter is a stakeholder in the community.

36 Lyn not only supports various local organizations, but it also serves as a meeting place during street fests. He has turned off his pumps for an entire day to host classic car shows, bands and food trucks on the forecourt. The employees are outside with their customers, enjoying the sunshine and cheering right alongside them.

“[These events] help our customers see them in a different light, in a more relaxed setting,” he says. “They start to look at us a little differently.”

The Chairman

Political Hero

Rahim Budhwani | 6040 LLC, Encore Stores

Birmingham, Ala.

Call him an accidental retailer.

“I was joining to just be a silent partner with someone else running the operations, but at the last minute he had a change of mind, and I ended up owning a store,” says Rahim Budhwani. “Without having any previous knowledge of the c-store, [I had] a really tough time [understanding] everything in the industry.”

That learning curve hasn’t held him back. Budhwani now runs 10 stores in Alabama and is the chairman of NACS, a role he earned through years of action and engagement.

“There is a simple saying: Either you can be at the table or on the menu. I choose the first option,” he says.

During his acceptance speech at the 2016 NACS Show, Budhwani stressed the need for continuous education—for and by retailers. “Our elected legislators most of the time don’t understand our industry,” he says. “They don’t really know what goes on to keep our stores open, and how one of their decisions can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.

“The best way is to educate them. Meeting with them and creating a bond really helps us to put our side of the story in front of them.”

One of Budhwani’s greatest concerns for indies is their ability to keep up with the industry’s current evolution.

“This industry is changing on a rapid scale,” he says. “Large companies have upped their game so much that [there will] come a time when you are going to grow—or you have to go.”

The Convenient Gourmand

Iconic Indie

Denise Molnar | Tioga Gas Mart, Whoa Nellie Deli

Lee Vining, Calif.

It’s not on a busy street corner, or even in a city center with lots of foot traffic. Tioga Gas Mart is literally on top of a mountain, at the entrance to Yosemite National Park. The pass that leads to the store sometimes doesn’t open until July, when the snow finally gives way to summer.

“Our property was one of the only undeveloped large private parcels left in the county,” says manager Denise Molnar. “Being at the entrance of [Yosemite] and near the highway, my father saw opportunity for a business.”

The Tioga Gas Mart and Whoa Nellie Deli are considered by food fanatics (as well as the Los Angeles Times, Gourmet and National Public Radio) to be one of the country’s best hidden dining destinations. Reviews online are nothing short of gushing.

Molnar credits her customers for that evolution. All the retailer did was listen.

“For those who don’t want to spend a lot of money, we have pizza by the slice,” she says. “And then there are those who come to enjoy the great view of Mono Lake and celebrate their anniversary and want a bottle of wine and a fancy entree.”

The restaurant is tucked behind a traditional c-store. The menu includes its famous fish tacos, ahi  sashimi, grilled pork chops and so much more.

“The intention was to be a mom-and-pop operation with a small deli serving sandwiches,” says Molnar.

“Today we have 35 employees and serve everything from cheeseburgers to wild boar and elk chops.”

The Family Man

Community Hub

Anthony Perrine | Lou Perrine’s Gas & Grocery

Kenosha, Wis.

Anthony Perrine’s parents met and fell in love at his grandfather’s gas station when they were both in seventh grade. They locked eyes while each was working, pumping gas at the then full-service station near Lake Michigan. And the rest is history.

That history, one that started with the original Lou and passed to his son, also Lou, is kept alive by grandson Anthony.

“People like those stories,” he says, admitting that it’s mostly a good thing that people know him wherever he goes. “It’s a small town. I fill out a form somewhere or I say my last name, and people  know.”

But the mom-and-pop shop is evolving under Anthony. An ambitious delivery strategy has the retailer partnering with local restaurants for what he calls a “mini GrubHub.”

For $5, a driver from Lou Perrine’s will bring anything a customer wants from the store—minus beer and liquor—pick up a pizza from a restaurant partner down the street, and deliver all of it to their front door within 45 minutes.

This store has seen generations of loyal Kenosha natives and visitors alike stop to not only fill their tanks, but also shop in between its four walls.

“Do I think my grandpa knew it was going to be this good?” Perrine says. “I think he always assumed it would be busy next to the lake. But I think it was my dad that really saw the neighborhood change—and that really helped open the door to the inside.”

The Good-for-You Gurus

Foodservice Leader

Melissa Rosen and Greg Horos | Locali Healthy Convenience

Los Angeles

Melissa Rosen and Greg Horos want entrepreneurs like them to own a piece of their success story. That’s why the three-store operators are expanding their healthy and sustainable convenience-store model via franchise.

“We’re disruptive with this model, because at the end of the day there’s no pretense to what we’re doing,” Rosen says. “We’re just serving really good food. And I’m excited about being a model to other entrepreneurs and CEOs.”

About that food: Sandwiches, such as veggie-based The Hungry, Hungry Hippy and Indian-cuisine-inspired The Peaceful Warrior, are made with responsibly raised, vegetarian-fed and antibiotic- and hormone-free meats, or can be ordered to accommodate vegan, vegetarian or gluten-free customers. All produce and other ingredients are organic whenever possible, and all bread is purchased locally.

Sure, part of Locali’s success is its Californian customers, who demand sustainable, wholesome and nutritious foods. It just fits their lifestyle. One of its locations is a completely vegan fast-food concept called Localita & the Badasserie.

Whether the model will fit expansion plans into Colorado, New York, Florida, Texas and Oregon remains to be seen. But Rosen is optimistic.

“[In the beginning], both of us said, c-stores don’t have that. … They don’t have fresh,” she says. “We’re really proud of what we’ve brought.”

The Balloonist

Community Hub

Kent Couch | Stop and Go Shell

Bend, Ore.

Kent Couch is not afraid of heights. In 2012, he and a friend strapped themselves to lawn chairs attached to almost 400 balloons and floated thousands of feet in the air for seven hours to raise awareness for Iraqi orphans. When it comes to running his store, Couch is a little more grounded.

Attendants in old-fashioned uniforms clean windshields while they pump gas for customers. And few of those happy customers leave thirsty: The store has a growler station with 30 taps for beer, and another 18 taps for nonalcohol drinks.

Despite the challenges of independent ownership, Couch prefers running his own business to the alternative.

“There’s a lot of bureaucracy you’ve got to get through and different levels of management to approve something,” Couch says. “With us, we can make it really quick.”

Couch dealt with that bureaucracy firsthand working in the grocery industry before he owned his own c-store. “I was a store manager, and right off the bat I was making more money being an independent than I was working for [a major company],” he says.

For Couch, the store’s real appeal is its customer-friendly approach.

“I often have people come in to talk to me personally about how great our service level is, and they all know my name,” he says. “I hope the day I walk out of here that that customer service level will be able to continue.”

The Industry Man

Political Hero

Dee Dhaliwal | Dhaliwal & Associates

San Francisco

Behind Dee Dhaliwal’s mild family businessman exterior lies a well-connected and widely respected industry professional. He owns and operates three c-stores in the Bay Area, with a fourth on the way, but his ties to the industry run far deeper.

Dhaliwal has served on the boards of a host of industry organizations, including NACS and California Independent Oil Marketers Association. Last year, he helped found the American Petroleum and Convenience Association, a coalition of California independent operators.

“I’m very proud of being chosen by my peers to be involved,” he says. “I think that’s a commendation from them that they think I’m doing something right.”

One key to Dhaliwal’s success is maintaining multiple income sources. “It’s about diversifying,” he says. “I’m getting into properties with multiple uses such as car wash, fast food, a good coffee offering. Those are things that I’m looking for.”

As an independent, Dhaliwal doesn’t have the same resources as large chains, but he does his best to lower buying prices by working with small, local vendors. He cites a local tobacco and candy vendor he works with—a fellow family business.

Dhaliwal hopes to eventually own 15 to 30 stores. “And if I did that, then I would probably want to go and create my own brand,” he says. “That’s the dream.”

The Pit Master

Foodservice Leader

Michael Lawson | The Thumb

Scottsdale, Ariz.

Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Robbie Ray was recently on a local news station talking about his favorite barbecue joint. He wasn’t talking about a generations-old smokehouse, nor a five-star restaurant. He praised the Brisket Stack at The Thumb.

“The Thumb is unlike any other location out there,” says Michael Lawson, general manager. There’s the 720-gallon fish tank with a replica of the store inside and 50 Arizona license plates plastered above it, created by the hosts of the Animal Planet show “Tanked.” A huge chandelier, the kind you would expect to see in a Victorian mansion, clings to the ceiling.

The gift shop has enough trinkets and knickknacks to fascinate any traveler. Customers can enjoy coffee

and fresh-baked pastries straight from the in-house bakery while they wait for their vehicle to go through the car wash, manned by a crew outfitted in white jumpsuits.

But The Thumb’s award-winning barbecue is the real draw. The Brisket Stack, smoked for 12 hours and topped with an egg, is the stuff of legend—sanctified by a spot on “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.”

Owner Kipp Lassetter bought the out-of-use c-store location with the intent of opening the barbecue joint and gift shop from the start. The chandelier, car wash, bakery and other additions grew organically over time.

For Lawson, it’s the people who keep him engaged and happy to come to work every day. “Great employees, great customers and a fun, friendly environment,” he says.

The Hometown Guy

Political Hero

Jared Scheeler | The Hub

Dickinson, N.D.

Jared Scheeler had no plans to make a career of the c-store industry. He was just a college kid working a job. “I originally went to college to go to business school to hopefully work at some big corporation someday,” he says. “I took a part-time job at a convenience store … and fell in love with the industry.”

Scheeler found he preferred building relationships with customers to executives, but he hasn’t missed opportunities to flex his business muscle on Capitol Hill. He testified before the House Small Business Committee in 2015 on behalf of NACS to argue that transitioning to EMV compatibility was too costly, would not make payments secure and would not reduce fraud as much as it should.

“There’s no greater measure of industry engagement than being involved politically at the state and federal levels,” says Scheeler.

In 2013, Scheeler rode the fracking wave from Minneapolis, where he was director of retail operations for Bobby & Steve’s Auto World, to his hometown of Dickinson, N.D. He opened The Hub, the first new c-store in town in more than 15 years. When the price of crude oil dove by 60% in 2014, the area’s overnight prosperity was crushed. The Hub weathered the storm with an operation that revolves around foodservice.

Despite these roadblocks, Scheeler looks forward to what lies ahead. “The future is bright in this industry,” he says. “Convenience stores have been evolving quite a bit over the past decade, and we’re jumping on that train.”

The Foodies

Iconic Indie

Paula Merrell and Franson Nwaeze | Chef Point Cafe

Watauga, Texas

Passing drivers may not know better when coasting by: The gas station-restaurant hybrid Chef Point Café makes the best food in town. “We want to compete with anyone recognized as five-star food,” says chef and owner Franson Nwaeze.

Nwaeze used to work as a chef for such a restaurant, and he and fellow owner Paula Merrell are committed to giving their diners a gourmet experience. The c-store and restaurant even has enough space to seat 300 people for weddings or other events.

Running an independent business, especially one with as many identities as Chef Point Cafe, can be hard without the knowledge and support of a larger company, but Nwaeze and Merrell have recruited family members to help.

“My daughter and my son both work in the business,” Merrell says. “It’s fun to be able to work with the family.”

The owners have nearby property where they plan to eventually open another restaurant, but for now they’re enjoying serving chef-prepared meals and running the business with their family.


Nwaeze and Merrell have considered dropping the gas station to focus solely on the restaurant, but they always stop short. The gas station “made us who we are,” Merrell says.

          Foxconn, Waker, Trump to announce plant        
Foxconn Workers

All of Wisconsin is apparently agog over the Foxconn plant announcement that is coming this afternoon. Still, color me skeptical. Rumors are that Wisconsin is offering a huge tax break to Foxconn in return for building the plant, and the state has certainly paved the way by stomping on unions and generally making the living wage a past dream, something that Foxconn is certainly going to appreciate. But rumors abound that the state is offering somewhere between $100,000 and $300,000 per job in tax "bounty" for the plant. I'm not sure that the state will be able to actually agree to pony up a tax break that big, particularly in view of the current inability to pass a state budget even without the complication of a huge tax break for business. It's not at all clear where this leaves the local governments that will still need to provide services for the plant, their employees, and more.

But perhaps more concerning is that Foxconn has a history of announcing plants in various countries, including in the US, and not following through. Note this article in the Washington Post about the plant in Pennsylvania that was announced int 2013 to great hoopla) that has still not been built.

Locals were giddy. Foxconn had a small office here, but this seemed like the start of an entire new industry. Pennsylvania’s governor boasted about the deal. The Brookings Institution think tank hailed Foxconn’s decision as a sign of U.S. manufacturing’s strength.

But the factory was never built. The jobs never came. “It just seemed to fade to black” after the announcement, recalled a local official. It was the start of a mystery, created by a chief executive known to promise projects all over the world that never quite pan out. Yet few people seem to notice. Foxconn and others continue to get credit for deals that never take place. In December, Pennsylvania’s economic development staff was still touting the $30 million factory that never was.

Don't get me wrong on this - I would love to see a wide expansion of high tech jobs in the state (even though most of these jobs are likely to be relatively low in pay - don't kid yoursel that this is a replacement for, for example, the jobs lost in Janesville when GM left). But this is a hastily-assembled announcement of a tentative agreement - it may or may not go through, and may or may not involve the number of jobs being bandied about by Trump and Walker. Let's not count those jobs just yet.

          Bridging the Opportunity Gap        
The unemployment rate is at a record low, but millions of Americans still have difficulty finding a living wage job. The challenge is especially acute for people returning to their communities after incarceration. A new $4.5 million grant to LISC from the U.S. Department of Labor will expand services at LISC's Financial Opportunity Centers to address the particular challenges they face and, in the process, reduce recidivism, make communities safer, and boost local economic activity.
          Uber Is Adding a Tipping Function. We Have Questions.        

In the wake of scandal, a corporate shake-up, and a federal investigation, is Uber’s decision to finally add a tipping function this July an olive branch to the company’s drivers?

Why else would the New York–based independent drivers guild have called it an "important win”? Doesn’t the policy come with other worker perks, like charges for wait time? Plus, couldn’t this newfound posture of corporate remorse pay off for Uber? Haven’t many customers bailed on Uber for Lyft in part because of the “friendly ride-share company” image that this type of small concession to employees, which Lyft has offered for years, helped create? And in that sense, is this a textbook case of corporate social responsibility—a policy that benefits workers, customers, and the bottom line?

Then again, will riders even feel good about their newfound ability to contribute to driver welfare? Isn’t tipping, as Michael Lewis famously wrote, a bit of an aristocratic conceit—“Get yourself a haircut, why don’t you?”—that we should have abandoned long ago? Weren’t we all trying to eliminate tipping from restaurants just a few years ago in the interest of paying workers a proper wage instead? Wasn’t it unfortunate that Uber, in so many ways so loathsome, was also the poster child for a company that eliminated this rotten system? And didn’t the lack of tipping help eliminate cab deserts by making every geographic area equally lucrative?

What is the social convention around tipping a cabbie these days? Is it like a restaurant, where you give 20 percent in all cases unless there was a bug in your food? What’s next, tipping the dentist?

Don’t we all agree that tips kind of suck as a way to make a living? Do tips forestall the arrival of substantive benefits for drivers like health insurance? Doesn’t the addition of tips to ride share introduce Uber to the effects of conscious and unconscious racial bias that have already been demonstrated in its rating system?

But also: Isn’t it better to be tipped than not to be tipped?

Why change now? Because this is the company’s first full week without founder Travis Kalanick, who is on a leave of absence, and was the subject of a viral video in which he argued with a driver about pay? Was Kalanick an obstinate opponent of a policy that was seen as a good PR move for both customers and drivers?

Could there be some internal corporate logic for installing a tipping button? Does it provide labor-conscious riders with an opportunity to express their frustration with bad drivers without bestowing a three-star review that could lose someone their job? What if this is a way of testing to see how much customers are willing to pay, and charging more to more generous tippers?

Speaking of bad tippers, why is the company putting a surcharge on teens, anyway? Did someone egg Arianna Huffington’s house last week?

And should we even be discussing this cosmetic change in the driver-customer-company relationship, when the business model is dependent on cheap labor made possible by treating the drivers as contractors? Aren’t we, as riders, complicit in this relationship? Does tipping assuage our guilt? Or merely transfer the responsibility for a living wage from the front office to the back seat?

          Old Holborn’s Agenda for Hope        

This post is in response to Owen Jones “Agenda for Hope”

The alarm goes off. It’s dark outside, and single mum Mary wakes to get ready for work at the checkout of a local supermarket. Like most of Britain’s poor, she has a job that leaves her and her children trapped below the poverty line. She finds herself competing with colleagues for overtime, just to earn a few more pounds to spend on her kids. Her employer couldn’t care because he knows it is the taxpayer who has to step in and subsidise those poverty wages to give Mary a chance to pay the bills and feed her children.

Mary had a rough night’s sleep because it’s nearly time to pay the rent. She would love nothing more than a secure, affordable home for her family but, like 5 million others, she’s stuck on a council housing waiting list where the taxpayer will once again subsidise her lifestyle. Her beloved Government keeps her rent high by handing out billions to landlords in “housing benefit” safe in the knowledge they will recover it via the taxation system to once again “redistribute” to the “needy”.

On her way downstairs, 35 year old Mary knocks on the door of her 19-year-old son, Tyrone. He is one of nearly a million unemployed young people. Tyrone sends in biro scrawled CV after CV, to supermarkets and call centres, and often does not even get a response. The odds are that being unemployed at such a young age will leave him with a lower wage, and an increased risk of being out of work, for the rest of his life. Her beloved Government has spent trillions installing an “equal” education system that means he is just as qualified in media studies as the downs syndrome kid who spent all day disrupting the class and stopping anyone actually learning anything of value to an employer.

As she approaches the front door, Mary glimpses another reason for her sleepless night: an unopened energy bill lying on her kitchen table. As the bills have soared, so the hot meals she eats have declined in number. Her beloved Government has pumped billions into the banking sector to hold up corrupt and bankrupt banks via quantitative easing thus reducing the value of the Pound. No wonder everything costs more, the pound is worth less. And so Mary leaves for a grueling shift at the supermarket, working hard to earn her poverty.

Mary isn’t a real person, but there are millions of people in this country who share aspects of their lives with someone like her. We all have to pay, literally, as poverty-paying bosses, layabouts, scroungers and rip-off landlords milk our ridiculously bloated welfare state whilst politicians laugh in our faces.

The beloved Government and much of the media have answers for people like Mary. “Instead of being angry at your situation,” Mary is told, “be angry at unemployed people, immigrants, the EU.” It is an Agenda of Fear. The bankers who plunged Britain into disaster, the politicians in the pockets of the wealthiest bankers and Union leaders, the fat cat public servants and corporate lobbyists – all are let off the hook. The Agenda of Fear makes sure that the real solutions to the problems faced by someone like Mary – and the nation as a whole – are never even discussed.

It’s time for Old Holborn to step in. I give you:

Old Holborn’s Agenda for Hope.

1. Minimum wage has to go. Never mind a living wage, if your labour is not worth what some titled Lord in Westminster decides it should be, you’re on the scrap heap. Forever. If you are naturally too stupid to earn £7 an hour, you are denied the chance to earn £5. The state has to stop setting the price of labour – your labour, your market, your needs – not being forced by law to sit on the sofa on state benefits.

2. Scrap housing benefit – completely. The only reason rents are so high is that Landlords and councils know damn well that some Mandarin in Whitehall will send the housing benefit bill straight back to the taxpayers. If you can’t afford to live in Mayfair, don’t live in Mayfair. Don’t demand I pay your rent whilst the State inflates the housing market.

3. Income tax is barbaric. It is forced theft and the penalties for refusing pay are equally as abhorrent as anything the Mafia could come up with. Set it flat and simple at 10% for everyone, regardless of income and leave money where it belongs -in the pockets of those who earned it. We have up to 80% marginal tax rates in this country, purely so it can redistributed according to the whims of politicians who after 100 years of promises have still not lifted the poor out of poverty. As agents, the State is worse than useless merely creating more clients for its never ending schemes of poverty reduction whilst doing the exact opposite.

4. Slash corporation tax to 10%. Before you scream, please try to understand that every single penny paid in corporation tax to the State is taken from you – either by lower wages or higher prices. Corporations don’t print money, it comes from the consumer via profits or the employees via lower wages. Slash the tax on success and watch competition drive down prices and increase wages.

5. Let bad banks fail. I can’t say it enough. Just one bank failing would send the vital message that the magic money tree no longer exists and it is not the role of the State to prop up bad investments and corrupt practices.

6. Stop the vanity projects. HS2, huge airports, sports stadiums and all the rest are only possible because some poor sod on minimum wage is being forced to pay for it. If business wants it, business can build it. Worked for the railways and the canals, didn’t it? We have commuters traveling 100’s of miles a day to do jobs that can be done locally, whilst the taxpayer subsidises their rail tickets. Local enterprise zones and low taxation will bring jobs to where the people are, not the other way around.

7. The Welfare State. Where do I begin? The population is addicted to free handouts financed by the population via duplicious politicians – utter madness. Poverty inflicted through excess taxation sees working families going begging cap in hand to the very people who grabbed half their earnings in the first place. Scrap it, reform it, do whatever, but do something before we are all slaves to it.

8. Reduce the role of the State to upholding the law and protecting the borders. I see no reason for a State run health service, a state run education service or a state run Hip Hop dance troupe on a State run television service. Decentralise down to local communities with a local taxation for any extra services the community demands – the Swiss do. Any problems there and you go and slog it out with the mayor in a bar on Sunday mornings over a pint – not some gigantic quango in Glasgow with a call centre in Bombay and a chairman on a golden public sector pension payoff.

9. Just leave us alone. Stop meddling, legislating, interfering, measuring, regulating, monitoring, commentating, studying and spying on us. We are grown ups, not children. No one can better represent us than us and I’m amazed that in the 21st century we are still forced to rely on minority representatives to vote on our behalf. For crying out loud, we have the internet now!

          Comment on MoveOn Picks Snowe Successor by jacksmith        
REALITY!! And A Fix for Unemployment, Homelessness and Hunger In addition to fixing healthcare the right way we need a NewDeal. We need a permanent and updated FDR WPA (Works Progress Administration). A Full employment act requiring the government to provide a job for everyone able to work that wants to work at a living wage or better. At safe, meaningful work where they live. Guaranteed by the US government. With free or very affordable excellent healthcare and free or very affordable education and training for advancement or just personal enrichment. ( ) ( Gov. Peter Shumlin: Real Healthcare reform -- ) ( Health Care Budget Deficit Calculator -- ) ( Briefing: Dean Baker on Boosting the Economy by Saving Healthcare ) START NOW! 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! THE AMERICAN PEOPLE WILL NOT, AND MUST NOT, ALLOW AN INDIVIDUAL MANDATE TO STAND WITHOUT A STRONG GOVERNMENT-RUN PUBLIC OPTION CHOICE! AVAILABLE TO EVERYONE. 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. Republicans: GET RID OF THE INDIVIDUAL MANDATE. Democrats: ADD A ROBUST GOVERNMENT-RUN PUBLIC OPTION TO HEALTHCARE REFORM. 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. Sincerely jacksmith – WorkingClass :-)
          Twin Peaks Revival and Critiquing Anti-Globalization        
Dr. Amp throws the finger [x2!] at global capitalism.
After embarking on a fairly lengthy discussion of how Donald Trump should be a hero and not a hate figure of the anti-globalization movement amid violent protests at the recently-concluded G-20 meeting in Hambug, here is something a bit more lighthearted. I've been watching the return of the seminal show Twin Peaks to television after a 25+ year hiatus. Its off-kilter blend of melodrama, tragicomedy, horror, and science fiction has always been appealing to me.

However, what caught my attention in the context of anti-globalization was Dr. Jacoby--he of the different colored glasses--sliding further into madness in the revival. He's turned into some sort of crazed conspiracy theorist who goes by the name of Dr. Amp, selling sh_t shovels to dig ourselves out of the filth of modern life:

Instead of having to listen to the likes of Naomi Klein repeat the same old global corporate takeover shtick, why not have essentially the same message delivered in an entertaining way? I'd rather hear the Dr. Jacoby version any least it's amusing in a self-deprecating (instead of self-important) manner. All the same, this satire points out the shortcomings of this genre of foolishness:
  1. Conspiracy - there are vast, unseen forces working against us in so many ways. Once more, the level of coordination implied usually is not demonstrable that there are several actors out just to get the rest of us.
  2. Logical inconsistency - going back to the point about Trump, anti-globalization arguments do not usually benefit from having parts that fit together. For instance, if globalization is providing employment to workers in poorer countries "stealing jobs", would they be "better off" if there were no global economic integration and everything consumed in rich countries was made in the US/Europe/Japan/ANZ, etc.? If anti-globalization activists are presumably concerned about the welfare of poor people (especially workers) elsewhere, then why deny them a living wage by "Making America Great Again" and reshoring virtually all manufacturing operations?
  3. Profit motive - Selling $29.99 "sh_t shovels" is the entire point of Dr. Jacoby's operations. Yes, he is interested in making money. If you were, say, Naomi Klein, and believed that your work contained the wisdom to right the wrongs caused by capitalism, then why not distribute it for free instead of charging us money and enriching some multi-billionaire like Amazon's Jeff Bezos?
Bottom line: As I've said before, most of these anti-globalization types are in it for the money too. The only difference between them and most of those whom they criticize is that they simply don't admit doing so by adopting self-righteous rhetoric.

Go ask Dr Amp.
          Low paid 'not receiving living wage'        
The low paid across our region are not receiving a living wage, according to a leading charity, as the Low Pay Commission visits the region.
          Low-paid should receive inflation-only rises, say business leaders        

The British Chambers of Commerce have told the Low Pay Commission that a rise of more than 2.7% in the national living wage could lead to job cuts

Low-paid workers in the private sector should see their wages restricted to inflation-only rises, according to business leaders, who have said that without the real-terms freeze, they could be forced to make job cuts.

The British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) said the “national living wage” (NLW) should rise by a maximum of 2.7% in its response to the Low Pay Commission’s call for comments on minimum wage levels, which are due to be set in the autumn.

Continue reading...
          Family of four needs 'at least' £40,800 a year, says thinktank        

Joseph Rowntree Foundation says inflation and benefit cuts are pushing decent standard of living further out of reach

Rising inflation and less generous state benefits have made it harder over the past year for families on tight budgets to enjoy what the public considers a decent standard of living, according to one of Britain’s leading thinktanks.

The Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) said that despite an above-inflation increase in the “national living wage”, low-income families were falling further behind a minimum income standard.

Related: Consumer confidence is lowest since Brexit vote aftermath, survey finds

Related: Public sector pay cap is matter for future budgets, says Grayling

Continue reading...
          Comment on Oregon Health Study: Effect on Employment by Benjamin        
Wait, what?! This seems completely inconsistent with statements you’ve made in our discussions about minimum wage. You say, if we raise the minimum wage, people will lose jobs. This implies that in the market as a whole, employers are willing to spend X amount on labor. If labor costs y then you get Z employed people. But if you then raise, Y, you get a smaller z number of employed people. You just said, “The number of jobs is not fixed (so jobs aren’t “used up”).” But you have been arguing for quite some time that the amount people are willing to pay for labor is fixed. I acknowledge that the and the are not the same thing but it seems to me like your stance on the fluidity of jobs seems to change depending on what point your trying to make. Here is a specific example, you said on this page: [] “Judging from this incomplete correspondence, this is what I’ve gathered: We both agree that mandating a living wage would come at the cost of some displaced workers. You believe that these displaced workers would find new jobs because the market is self-correcting. I do not, because I believe the only way displaced workers get shifted to new jobs is through exogenous technological change (Or, let’s say the workers at a VHS factory lose their jobs and now get employed at a DVD factory – this is just an analogy). I don’t think making labor more expensive in one place makes new demand pop up anywhere. I also do not believe that the market can always self-correct unemployed workers (like the last five years of this current recession).” But then just now in your last comment you said: “A more obvious example might be a time period in American history where people typically not in the labor force were suddenly thrown into it. Unemployment didn’t skyrocket, wages didn’t tank. What I’m talking about of course is after WW2 when women started to enter the workforce in dramatic rates. We’re better off because of it, and they didn’t “use up” jobs that were taken by men in a zero-sum game. Whichever jobs they might have directly replaced men in, they created other jobs elsewhere by higher output and higher demand.” Well, what is it? Can we create new jobs elsewhere by higher output and higher demand, or is the only way to create new jobs through exogenous technological change?
          Is the World Ready for a Guaranteed Basic Income?         

A lot of full-time jobs in the modern economy simply don't pay a living wage. And even those jobs may be obliterated by new technologies. What's to be done so that financially vulnerable people aren't just crushed? It may finally be time for an idea that economists have promoted for decades.

          No Shortcuts by the Green Party of New York        

Fellow Greens,

Today we organize to fight and resist while we express solidarity with those communities who have been targeted by Trump during this election. All of the things we need--real living wage jobs-for-all through a Green New Deal, single-player universal health care, affordable housing, student debt relief and universal college education, a true end to police violence, termination of the war on drugs, dismantling the national surveillance state, ending US imperial foreign policy, and dealing with catastrophic climate change--require a radical, working class movement to win.

          What We Take For Granted - We can Lose        
A Libertarian Paradise

Since this is an election year, I thought that I would write up a political piece stating my opinions on the state of the nation. I believe that our middle class existence is threatened not by outside forces, or minorities, or immigrants, or religious zealots, but by the greedy and ruthless plutocrats who seek to be the sole power and determinant force in this country. Only We, the People, can overturn this terrible crisis put upon us by regressive political forces, and democratically push the political establishment to once again represent all of the people. We are all tied together in an invisible bond of nationalism - we are all Americans. But what many might not understand is that whatever happens to some of us affects all of us. Being divided by race, economic station, ethnic origin, religion, region, gender, or sexual preference will only make us easier to control and manipulate by those who care nothing about our collective fate. Politics does impact Pagans, Witches and magical practitioners. We should never be victimized by our choices, or lack of choices. Therefore, please consider your options and vote in the primaries and the in general election this fall.  

Perhaps one of the biggest issues facing Americans in the early 21st century is the fact that we are living in a time of great inequality and an accelerating contraction of the middle class. Our country is becoming an oligarchy of wealthy patrons who appear to have a greater influence on what passes for governance and legislation than what we have seen since the 1920's. This country was supposedly one that established its government by the people and for the people, but it seems that it is now by the wealthy and for the wealthy. Libertarian altitudes seem to be nothing more than a selfish antisocial desire to freeze the status-quo and eliminate the government sponsored leveled-playing field between businesses and the rest of the 98%. This attitude can be summed up by the simple phrase, “I’ve got mine, and the hell with the rest of you!”

White people who were once part of the privileged middle class are now finding themselves at the whims of powerful forces that they neither comprehend nor control. We are experiencing a kind of underlying unifying integration between races, creeds, and ethnic cultures, but the forces of fear and prejudice have returned to divide us into warring factions. It is a time of economic contraction and decline, where the younger generations are saddled with massive education debt and the forces of automation, labor force reductions and increased productivity have eliminated the prospect of good paying career jobs for all. It has, in effect, produced a situation where the connected and otherwise fortunate are the only ones who are benefiting, the rest are put into a precarious social and economic condition. It is a time when the younger generations will not be able to exceed the ambitions and expectations of their parents or grandparents. It is also a time that I never thought I would live to see - but it is now becoming a reality.

Not all is doom and gloom - there is hope for change and the possibility of a peaceful populist political uprising that will change the status-quo so that the economic inequalities and lack of justice for all can be overturned and replaced with a more sensible and just system. We have the power to make changes and to fashion a better world for everyone, but we also have obstacles to overcome. People’s fears and prejudices are probably the biggest obstacle because they obscure the real problems impacting our lives today.

The reason why all of this is happening now is because over the many years since WWII we became complacent and forgot how the middle class was built in the first place. We have forgotten that our forebears fought terrible social battles so that they could force the corporations and the wealthy elite to give them a livable wage. They fought for a 40 hour workweek, overtime compensation, unemployment benefits, health benefits, workplace safety, paid vacation, paid sick leave and retirement benefits. At the time these seemed like egregious and impossible demands that would destroy our economy, and they were fought tooth and nail by the corporate owners and the financial elites.

Now, after many years of enjoying these benefits, we have grown accustomed to having them, not realizing that they were given to us grudgingly. That if a way could be found to acquire cheaper labor, corporations were bound to discard their contract with the American Middle Class and force them to accept less and less over time. It is not an accident that this has happened, in fact it is the long term plan of a powerful and wealthy cartel who have pushed a regressive counter social revolution.

What built the middle class did not come from the generosity or humanistic tendencies of the corporations and businesses that employ people. It came from many years of social strife and actual bloody battles between labor unions and corporations. Still, the middle class didn’t really find its true foundation until after the end of the most terrible economic calamity that ever befell the world - the Great Depression. It took an economic collapse to force these changes, where the common people found themselves without any means of either sustaining themselves let alone elevating themselves. It was a time when a large percentage of the population either experienced complete abject poverty and unemployment or the contraction of their wages.

The government failed to do much about this calamity, so the people elected a new government that would actively seek to mitigate the problems that the Great Depression had caused. It was the first time that the government allied itself with labor in order to build a more just economic environment for the common people. The new president was Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and the Keynesian economic policies that he employed were called the “New Deal.” Some of the programs that he tried failed, but others were successful. Social Security was one of programs that he signed into law that is still popular and relevant today. Yet when it was first proposed it was rejected and denigrated by the upper classes as a policy that would bankrupt the country. (This also happened when Medicare was signed into law.) Now we couldn’t imagine life without it, but it was hotly contested, as were all other progressive policies.

Perhaps the most enduring social contract was that which was fostered between the federal government and labor unions. Whatever criticism one might make against this relationship, or the supposed problematic corruption of powerful labor unions, that relationship was the one force that helped to build the middle class. After WWII, the power of labor unions continued to grow, and their support and influence was courted by politicians from both parties. That lasted through the sixties.

Ironically, this decade of the 1950's was the supposed golden age that many movement conservatives talk about incessantly. Yet they never seem to mention the fact that the immediate post-war era was marked by the power of labor unions who ensured that the workers under their stewardship were properly represented and received the best labor deals that could be achieved. There was a greater sharing of corporate profits between the corporate owners and the workers because the unions held the power of strikes and labor stoppages if the corporate owners didn’t give their employees a fair deal. This threat often had to be backed up with the drama of strikes, but a close examination of the demands that unions raised were typically reasonable and appropriate. They were a powerful counter weight against the inherent greed and avarice of the wealthy power elite.

All of the rights and privileges that we take for granted today were forged during that period, and it created an overall cooperative environment between the forces of the wealthy elite (the owners and bankers) and the common laborers. Government institutions made certain that corporations cooperated with labor unions, and they established laws that enforced a fair working environment free of exploitation. It wasn’t a perfect system, and sometimes there were dramatic fights between organized labor and corporate owners and managers. However, it was considered such an important element of the overall social contract that the U.S. enforced this kind of contract on the defeated enemies of WWII, most notably Japan and what became West Germany. As long as the government maintained a watchful eye and enforced national and local labor laws, the corporations grudgingly fulfilled their social obligation.

Everyone made a living wage, and the top salaries and compensations given to corporate owners and large stock holders were not considerably greater than the humblest worker. Tax rates for the highest earners were steep, but the government used that money to make the country better, such as building the super highway system, investing in the infrastructure, crafting the next generation of technology during the space race, and building up the most powerful military in the world. This was the source of the American Dream, that the government provided the people a level playing field and that labor unions and businesses worked together to ensure social and economic justice for everyone. As the 1960's passed into the 1970's, social and economic justice became something that nearly every person, including and especially minorities, sought to achieve. Naively, it seemed like this was something that we could all achieve, and that everyone was on-board to achieve it.

It wasn’t a perfect system, and in fact, there were many problems and social issues that seemed to boil over during that time. However, there was a powerful sense of hope despite setbacks and retrenchments. America proceeded, steadily but also at times, stumbling, into the future, all with seemingly endless possibilities near at hand.

However, the dream of equity and cooperation between labor and business owners quietly receded sometime during the late 1970's. I recall the president at the time talking about the national malaise during a televised speech. He seemed to be saying that many of the social levels of the people in our country were infected with this malaise. Yet what was really happening, unbeknown to us (and the president), was the institution of a powerful counter movement based on conservative ideals, but truly fueled by greed and the lust for absolute political power.

These conservative politicians and intellectuals had begun the work of reversing everything that had been put into place by progressive policies. They said that the government was too powerful and too intrusive, and that what we really needed was for business to be unfettered and unrestricted. They promised that a new golden age would dawn if these various Libertarian and social conservative policies were put into place. They also vilified the unions and said that they were too powerful, and that they caused businesses to be hamstrung by excessive demands and arbitrary labor stoppages. They claimed that unions were corrupted and tainted by contacts with organized crime, and in some cases they were correct, but all institutions, including corporations, were susceptible to forms of corruption. 

Unions were an integral part of the ability for labor to collectively bargain with corporations, and as they were weakened, it allowed for cheaper non-union labor to take their place. Perhaps a dramatic representation of this process can be found in the construction trades, once the bedrock of the labor union movement. As the power of unions was dissolved and overturned, non-union employees became the norm. Ultimately, construction worker roles, especially unskilled, were filled by migrants and perhaps, even illegal ones. The need for ever cheaper labor drove out the higher paid union workers and replaced them with migrant workers. However, to blame the migrants for this situation is patently ridiculous since it was the desire for cheap labor that allowed it to occur.

Businesses moved their factories to southern states that were more friendly to corporations and hostile to union organizations. As time went on, manufacturing was even off-shored and outsourced completely outside of our nation to other countries. This became a continuous process aided and abetted by the corporately influenced government, which ultimately pulled money out of the country and dissolved much of the manufacturing infrastructure. What fueled it was the ever rapacious need for greater profits, which meant that the labor costs had to be reduced considerably. America became a country of financial and service industries, while the manufacturing sector dwindled to a fraction of what it had once been. There were still jobs, but they had become either poorly paying unskilled service jobs or highly paying professional careers. The only bright spot was the IT industry, but some elements of that industry had to compete worldwide for labor costs, so it, too, was subject to off-shoring.

Then, due to an unprecedented orgy of greed and shady dealings, the Wall Street banks caused a catastrophic economic downturn that nearly collapsed the economy. The government bailed out Wall Street, but was kept from doing much to help the millions of people who lost their investments and savings, as stocks and bonds took a terrible beating. Changes were put into place to try and keep such a perilous misadventure from happening again, but the legislation was flawed, purposely weakened by special interests and it wasn’t able to really address what actually caused the problem. While the economy improved and things seemed to get back on track, millions of people either remained unemployed or took service jobs that didn’t pay as much as the jobs they had previously. Inequality grew even greater, but there were forces already in play that made certain that the government wouldn’t be able to help those who really needed help. The government bailed out Wall Street, but failed to help out Main Street, because the conservative forces were selfishly arrayed against such an effort. Perhaps the most astonishing thing that occurred was the level of contempt, disregard and disrespect given to the president by his political foes. This was fueled more by the inherent racial prejudice that they secretly espoused than because of his moderate policies.  

So, here we are, in the present times. We face many daunting challenges, but there are also many possible opportunities for us as well. There are remarkable inventions and new technologies available to those who can afford them, but our social contract between government, labor and corporations is broken. We face an uncertain future without any government institution or social action organization to fight for our rights as citizens and as laborers. We have mostly lost the unions that would have advocated for us, and the profound and unchecked greed of the 1% seems to have achieved a powerful stranglehold on all aspects of life. The greatest obstacle facing our country is the corrupting influence of the elite wealthy donors who have taken our political system hostage, and who have changed the laws to benefit them at our expense.

What we need to remember is how our grandparents achieved the wonderful benefits of the middle class life. We need to once again focus our attention on political processes and to fight so that the seemingly indelible bond between the wealthy elite and the government is broken before it becomes a permanent feature of our lives. There is much more work that needs to be done. We need to evolve our perceptions so that universal healthcare becomes a right, and that higher education becomes either free or very affordable again. We need to ensure that social and economic justice is equally available to all, and that the playing field for economic opportunity is fair and accessible. We have lost the American Dream for the moment, but we must understand that only progressive policies can build on the dwindling middle class - to enlarge it, preserve it and make it a basic economic right for all citizens of this nation.

What we don’t need now is another oligarch running for president or some movement conservative foisting their bad policies and social conservative ideals upon us. We also don’t need the mendacious Neocons pushing us to start yet another war in the Middle East. The policies, social prejudices and military misadventures of the Republican party is exactly what has gotten us into the political and economic difficulty that we currently face. What we need is a more progressive political approach to reverse the damage that has been inflicted on us, not more Libertarian self-centeredness.

If this sounds like I am in the tank for Bernie Sanders, then so be it. 

Frater Barrabbas

          How to Create a Crisis and Steal a Nation        
How to Create a Crisis and Steal a Nation
By Aristotle the Hun, The Rev. Big Goon and Good Shepherd Sam

Note: It will quickly be obvious to the reader why details have been obscured, omitted or fictionalized in this narrative of events that began nearly forty years ago.

"Se non è vero, è ben trovato."

Even small children know how to get what they want by creating a crisis.  Witness any “temper tantrum.”  My wife and I teach parenting skills. One of our sayings which we recommend to parents when dealing with a child’s “crisis strategy” is:  “Poor planning on your part does not constitute a crisis on my part. No, you can’t borrow $20 because you are broke, even if you did promise to take Betty Lou to the movies tonight.”  The child did not get their way.  A similar “No!” needs to be said to adult politicians who have created a crisis to get their way.

Another example; Paris taxi-drivers, in protest against a police demand that they take physical examinations, threatened to obey every traffic law to the letter—which would, they vowed, produce the greatest traffic jam Paris had ever seen. The Taxi drivers got their way.

Creating a crisis to get one’s way is a strategy as old as Moses calling down plagues upon Pharaoh and saying “Let my people go.”

To better understand the fascinating story below we need some background information.  In the late 1960s a pair of college professors who thought they were original thinkers came up with something called the Cloward-Piven Strategy (CPS), a strategy for forcing political change through orchestrated crisis. “Cloward-Piven's early promoters cited Chicago radical community organizer Saul Alinsky as their inspiration.”Make the enemy live up to their (sic) own book of rules," Alinsky wrote in his 1989 book, Rules for Radicals. When pressed to honor every word of every law and statute, every Judaeo-Christian moral tenet, and every implicit promise of the liberal social contract, human agencies inevitably fall short. The system's failure to "live up" to its rule book can then be used to discredit it altogether, and to replace the capitalist "rule book" with a socialist one.”  Notice that Alinski might have heard about the Paristaxi drivers, and then gave their strategy a radical left twist.  

Saul had a huge influence on radical left people of the day.  Saul was the subject of Hillary Clinton's senior honors thesis at Wellesley College.  “In early 1993, the White House requested that Wellesley not release the thesis to anyone.  Wellesley complied, instituting a new rule that closed access to the thesis of any sitting U.S. president or first lady, a rule that in practice applied only to Rodham.”  Alinski also strongly influenced a young Chicago “community organizer” named Barack Obama.

An old friend from my spooky past, who was a fellow student At the University of Missouri at Kansas City, recently reminded me of his adventures back in the early 1970s.  If you did not know that clergy are used for Intelligence and undercover missions you haven’t been paying attention to history.  Believe it or not these decades old events, told by The Rev. Big Goon, help explain our present political and economic crisis.

          Dear Aristotle the Hun

I’ve been doing some thinking that I thought I would share with you.  My memories of the work I was doing when we knew each other at UMKC have really helped inform me about our present situation with our new President and the financial crisis.

I have visited “The Steady Drip” many times and I know your reputation for accurate research so you will find citations included to back up what I have to say.   I noticed that on your blog you have expressed suspicions about the onset of the financial meltdown just in time to help Obama get elected.  You also expressed suspicions about the most liberal President and Congress in the history of the nation conveniently coming into office at a time when the economy was so wounded that it might be possible to establish a socialist economic system.  Just how “lucky” can these liberals get?

  What I have to say may help you understand the dynamics but I doubt it will do away with your suspicions.  Being suspicious is a job requirement for both Clergy and Intelligence work.  I also know you are well connected to the Internet community and influential bloggers so you have my permission to use my comments as you see fit.

Here is my story:  I arrived in Kansas City, May of 1970, shortly after the first bombing done by a group of left wing radicals.   I worked for the Western Diocese of the Episcopal Church which sponsored the St. Thomas Student Center at UMKC.  Naming an Episcopal student center after “Doubting Thomas” was glaringly appropriate for a college campus in the early 70s   No, your readers can not ask about my real employer.  (As the old joke goes; “If I told you I would have to kill you.”)

The summer of 1970 in Kansas City was a really wild ride.  In 1970 alone, an estimated 3,000 bombings and 50,000 bomb threats occurred in the United States, and Kansas City was not left out of the chaos.  One of my assignments was to look into the activities of a group of radicals who, after they were arrested, became melodramatically known as “the Kansas City Four.”   They were really bungling, small time radicals.  A legal case from those days survives on the Internet.

I began the process of establishing my cover. It was arranged for the FBI to contact known radicals in the community and ask them questions about me.  My “case officer” posed as a state employee, so my monthly meetings with him were open and aroused no suspicion.  I was warmly accepted by the radical community, and even spent some time living at a place operated by young radicals called the Ecstatic Umbrella, until I found more permanent housing.  

The Second Presbyterian Church at 52nd and Oak owned an apartment building, and one of the Kansas City bombers lived in that building.  As well as doing my job as a campus chaplain, I became a youth pastor at Second Presbyterian, and took an apartment in their building.  I must admit that I was very uncomfortable living in the same building with a LSD using, grass smoking, alcoholic who I knew was making bombs in his bedroom.

By the time I entered UMKC in the fall as a graduate student, my cover was already firmly established.  To put a cinch knot on my cover story, I also became the Chaplain of the Viet Nam Veterans Against the War.  I still experience a gratifying chuckle over how perfectly, easily, and quickly I had infiltrated the radical community in KC.  It wasn’t that hard.  Almost everyone was doing acid and grass.  Every weekend there was a wild carnival of hippy, stoner, radical, love-child young people in Volker Park.  Contact was easy. 

I won my status in the counter-culture community with nothing more than a prank.  I purchased a case of dish washing liquid, and in the dark of night I poured the entire case into the Plaza fountain.  My accomplices were very impressed with my boldness and it made the front page of the Kansas City Star.  

I had a different name then.  I was called Rev. Big Goon.  It should be noted here that I physically resemble a great silver back gorilla, although my knuckles don’t drag on the ground. A local Kansas Cityundercover officer who had no idea who I was gave me that name.  I saw it in a police report on activity in Volker Park.  Years later I found out that my cover was so believable that I was on a list of dangerous radicals that Kansas City Chief of Police Clarence Kelly took with him when he was appointed as the Director of the FBI in 1973.

For me, the investigation of the Kansas City Four quickly fizzled.  Other investigators uncovered the activities of the suspects, provided the evidence and they were arraigned in July of 1971.  My last contact with that case was to arrange to be appointed as a Chaplain for the Jackson County jail, where I interviewed one of the suspects who was being held there as a federal prisoner awaiting trial. 
The case was hugely overblown, in the way law enforcement and prosecutors will exaggerate to make their work seem to be more important and to advance their careers.   One of the radicals was more of a nut case than a criminal and he might have been the most dangerous because of his hatred and violence against “the system”.   He is still alive, on the streets, and probably still dangerous.
I struck up a romantic involvement with a social worker from Chicago who was working for Family and Children’s Services, a state of Missouriagency.  Her friends and contacts were a gold mine for my new mission.  That is how I became involved with the Welfare Rights Organization (WRO) of Kansas City where I saw, first hand, how community activists applied the CPS (Cloward Piven Strategy) theory in real life.

CPS and Saul Alinski were all the rage among left wing professors, activists, students and social workers.  My social worker girl friend from Chicago knew all about Saul Alinski.  CPS was a new idea seen as dazzlingly brilliant by social workers and other liberals.  She introduced me to a radical community activist, also from Chicago, who was organizing poor black people who lived in Wayne Minor public housing.  His name was Mark.  Mark was also a clergyman, and was a left wing radical.  Mark introduced me to a powerfully charismatic black woman who was Executive Director of the Kansas City Welfare Rights Organization.  There were several young white men and women who worked for the WRO.  Mark taught me the ropes about how we were going to train these young “community organizers” and welfare recipients, so that they became effective foot soldiers for the left wing.

The socialist professors who devised the CPS: “The authors (Columbia University sociologists Richard Andrew Cloward and Frances Fox Piven) noted that the number of Americans subsisting on welfare -- about 8 million, at the time -- probably represented less than half the number who were technically eligible for full benefits. They proposed a "massive drive to recruit the poor onto the welfare rolls." Cloward and Piven calculated that persuading even a fraction of potential welfare recipients to demand their entitlements would bankrupt the system. The result, they predicted, would be "a profound financial and political crisis" that would unleash "powerful forces … for major economic reform at the national level."  Their article called for "cadres of aggressive organizers" to use "demonstrations to create a climate of militancy." Intimidated by threats of black violence, politicians would appeal to the federal government for help. Carefully orchestrated media campaigns, carried out by friendly, leftwing journalists, would float the idea of "a federal program of income redistribution," in the form of a guaranteed living income for all -- working and non-working people alike. Local officials would clutch at this idea like drowning men to a lifeline. They would apply pressure on Washingtonto implement it. With every major city erupting into chaos, Washington would have to act.”

Mark and I were part of that "cadres of aggressive organizers."  We would go through the vast, dilapidated cavern of poverty called Wayne Minor with a list of all the entitlements offered by the State of Missouri.  Each person we talked to became instantly “motivated” to apply for more welfare benefits.  Before long, people began seeking us out at the WRO office.  Outreach to the community wasn’t necessary.  The community flocked to us.  We would show them how to fill out application forms, and many times we filled out the forms for them.

When we had a large number of people ready to apply for new benefits, or additional benefits they had not known they were entitled to before our training, we arranged for busses to take our new recruits to the state office building.  We had spent many hours training them as to what to do and what not to do.  We told them it was ok to be loud, obnoxious, aggressive, but to never be physical or damage property.  In other words, do everything you can do to be uncivil, but don’t get yourself arrested.  We planned the event for a Friday and, of course, we called the media.  Our “trainees” staged a class “A” media event for the television cameras.  Our first “action” was a rousing success. 

When we got to the WRO office Monday morning there were hundreds of people waiting to be “trained” in how to collect welfare.  The part of the welfare system to feel the most heat right away was what the state called “intake.”  Intake social workers were overwhelmed, intimidated, and routinely approved questionable benefits because of the stress they were experiencing.  The state began a panicky search for new intake workers, and anybody with a BA degree was practically dragged off the street.  Larger office space was arranged for the intake department.  Mark and I were heroes to the radical community.

Since this was happening at the same time in St. Louis and other cities, Kitt Bond, then Auditor of State of Missouri, and soon-to-become Governor, asked for help.  I was assigned to brief his representative about what was behind the welfare revolt.

As it turns out Mark, the community organizer from Chicago, and my social worker girl friend from Chicago were also friends with the Kansas City Four.  Soon my primary mission was accomplished, and I went on to other projects, but I never forgot the effectiveness of creating a crisis to bring about radical change.  I concluded that the WRO and the Alinski/CPS inspired radical community organizers were more of a danger to the nation than the inept small time bombers.

I stopped doing Intelligence work, the years went by, and I began my career as a full time Pastor.  Not long after I “went straight” I again ran into the CPS and Saul Alinsky.  During the administration of George H. W. Bush I began hearing reports of loud, obnoxious, aggressive, poor people taking over bank lobbies and demanding that they be given mortgages. All this was happening because community activists, many from Chicago, were doing the same thing to banks that had been done to the state welfare offices back in Kansas City.  The role of WRO was now filled by ACORN (Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now).

Stan Kurtz of National Review comments on ACORN’S tactics.  â€œWhile Acorn holds to NWRO’s radical economic framework and its confrontational 1960’s-style tactics, the targets and strategy have changed. Acorn prefers to fly under the national radar, organizing locally in liberal urban areas — where, Stern observes, (Sol Stern ACORN’s Nutty Regime for Cities.” local legislators and reporters are often “slow to grasp how radical Acorn’s positions really are.” Acorn’s new goals are municipal “living wage” laws targeting “big-box” stores like Wal-Mart, rolling back welfare reform, and regulating banks — efforts styled as combating “predatory lending.” Unfortunately, instead of helping workers, Acorn’s living-wage campaigns drive businesses out of the very neighborhoods where jobs are needed most. Acorn’s opposition to welfare reform only threatens to worsen the self-reinforcing cycle of urban poverty and family breakdown. Perhaps most mischievously, says Stern, Acorn uses banking regulations to pressure financial institutions into massive “donations” that it uses to finance supposedly non-partisan voter turn-out drives.”

Obama’s role as a radical community organizer and Acorn “leadership trainer” is well established.   Kurtz continues:  â€œAcorn’s tactics are famously “in your face.” Just think of Code Pink’s well-known operations (i.e. threatening to occupy congressional offices, interrupting the testimony of General David Petraeus) and you’ll get the idea. Acorn protesters have disrupted Federal Reserve hearings, but mostly deploy their aggressive tactics locally. Chicago is home to one of its strongest chapters, and Acorn has burst into a closed city council meeting there. Acorn protestors in Baltimore disrupted a bankers’ dinner and sent four busloads of profanity-screaming protestors against the mayor’s home, terrifying his wife and kids. Even a Baltimorecity council member who generally supports Acorn said their intimidation tactics had crossed the line.”

It wouldn’t take a degree in economics to see what was going to happen. This time the Alinski/CPS pressure wasn’t aimed at the state of Missouriand Kitt Bond.  By 1999 Fannie Mae came under pressure from the Clinton administration to expand mortgage loans to low and moderate income borrowers. At the same time, institutions in the primary mortgage market pressed Fannie Mae to ease credit requirements on the mortgages it was willing to purchase, enabling them to make loans to subprime borrowers at interest rates higher than conventional loans.  Everybody knows how the problem escalated from there

Do you still have doubts about your suspicions that the financial crisis happened just in time to help Obama get elected?  Do you still have doubts about your suspicions that there is something fishy about the financial crisis and the way Congress passed the trillion dollar  “Reward Liberal Causes and Constituents Bill” without anyone actually reading it, because we had a “crisis”?  See I told you that I wouldn’t be able to help your suspicious nature. J

The Rev. Big Goon

To emphasize Rev. Big Goon’s comments here is an absolutely brilliant piece by Jim Simpson that details the connection of Barack Obama to those who practice the Cloward-Piven strategy.

After reading Jim Simpson’s article you will more fully understand how CPS is connected to Barack Obama, and why Obama keeps using the word “crisis” in every speech he gives.  I don’t know how to escape the conclusion that manufactured crisis is what clobbered the economy.  Manufactured crisis is what made Obama President, and manufactured crisis is what drives his administration and his policies.  There is a web site entitled, “Things I know are true but can’t prove”.  Maybe I should send them an email

Here is a part of the puzzle I think others have missed. 

If an enemy of Americawere to pair the Cloward-Piven strategy to the principles of the new science of networks, it would be possible to target a hub in a system, create a crisis, and by causing that hub to fail, create a domino effect in other hubs and the rest of the system. See here:
And a link to the most popular book on the subject
Six Degrees: The Science of a Connected Age by Duncan Watts

“Columbia Professor Duncan J. Watts builds on the work of mathematicians, physicists, biologists, sociologists, economists and others to advance the new science of networks. "Six Degrees: The Science of a Connected Age " brings a sociologist’s perspective to a field relevant to those dealing with complex systems and their robustness and fragility under stress. The science of networks has significance for those wrestling with current issues of law and public policy in a wide spectrum of applications including electric power grids, insurance markets and anti-terror measures.
In 1999, Barabasi and Albert published a ground breaking paper "Emergence of Scaling in Random Networks." Science, 286, 509-512. (1999). This paper showed that certain connections in real world networks don't have a normal ("bell curve") distribution but rather follow a power law distribution. This means that there is an increased likelihood of extreme events in such "scale free" networks. As a result, in scale-free networks, as networks evolve, a few nodes will be "hubs" with an extraordinary number of connections. Barabasi and Albert also found that the evolution of these hubs depended on the combination of network growth and "preferential attachment" - the tendency for new nodes to connect to those already well connected (the "rich get richer" effect.)”

The major reason other political commentators have not addressed the issue of network science is that only mathematicians and scientists understand it.  My feeble attempt at a “plain speak” translation is that all networks tend to form hubs that are connected to thousands of other networks, and more importantly, to other hubs.  These hubs are vulnerable to a “created crisis” and when that happens the entire web collapses, be it the World Wide Web or the web of the U.S.economy. 

National security experts are well aware of the vulnerability of network hubs and publish Network Vulnerability and Risk Assessment reports.  This one is researched and published by DTIC Provider of DoD Technical Information to Support The Defense Community.  One of the points to note is that: “Threats that originate inside the network tend to have the ability to exploit vulnerabilities in a serial form. This allows the attacker to traverse or "leap-frog" across the network to an advantageous position”.  The most likely scenario would expect the attack to come from inside the network when we are looking at the financial network.  I have read this risk assessment and it is too general to connect dots as to how a financial “crisis” might be timed and executed, but it is very clear that it can happen.

We know how leftist activists created a crisis and turned the mortgage lending business into a “mortgage welfare entitlement” lending policy.  We know that the hub we know as “mortgage banking” failed, bringing down the rest of the economy with it. What we don’t know is how the failure was timed. 

My guess is that the science of networks was used to tilt the election in Obama’s favor and damage the economy to such an extent that reshaping it along a socialist paradigm became possible. 

One of my hopes in writing this article is to encourage real network scientists to take a look at my hypothesis.  One friend who is a scientist at Amherstsays I am on the right track, but that isn’t enough to make a definitive statement.

Remember all that talk about how savvy the Obama campaign was about using the Internet?  Remember all those Internet CEO’s who were on the Obama team?  Remember that George Soros, "the man who broke the Bank of England", the king of creating market and currency crisis, was on Obama’s team?   Can you really imagine a likely scenario where these people do not know about network science and how to use a created crisis to get what they want?

We know for sure that a crisis was deliberately created with malice aforethought by enemies of our country and liberal politicians.  They overtly said they would do it and they did.  Many of these created events have damaged our nation since 1970.  The culprits aren’t even trying to hide the fact that they did it.  Decent Americans have trouble believing that people could deliberately do something so evil. That is how deliberately evil people pull the wool over the eyes of decent people.   

This isn’t a conspiracy theory.  No black helicopters or deep throats.  It isn’t hidden and it isn’t secret.  It is easily visible for those who have eyes to see.  Those radical socialists who used deliberately created crisis tactics were successful beyond their expectations.

Aristotle the Hun, the Reverend Big Goon, and Good Shepherd Sam

          States push back against cities seeking business regulations        
Groceries are carried in plastic bags in San Diego, California September 30, 2014. California signed the first-in-the-nation law to ban single-use plastic bags from grocery stores. In many cases, states like Missouri have stepped in after city officials somewhere in the nation proposed local policies that business leaders didn’t like, such as the ban of single-use plastic bags from grocery stores. Photo by Mike Blake/Reuters.

Groceries are carried in plastic bags in San Diego, California September 30, 2014. California signed the first-in-the-nation law to ban single-use plastic bags from grocery stores. In many cases, states like Missouri have stepped in after city officials somewhere in the nation proposed local policies that business leaders didn’t like, such as the ban of single-use plastic bags from grocery stores. Photo by Mike Blake/Reuters

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Alarmed about cities trying to outlaw plastic bags, the director of the Missouri Grocers Association decided to do something about it. So Dan Shaul turned to his state legislator- himself – and guided a bill to passage barring local governments from banning the bags.

Shaul’s dual role in state government and business may be a bit out of the norm. Yet his actions are not. In capitols across the country, businesses are increasingly using their clout to back laws prohibiting cities and counties from doing things that might affect their ability to make money.

In the past five years, roughly a dozen states have enacted laws barring local governments from requiring businesses to provide paid sick leave to employees. The number of states banning local minimum wages has grown to 15. And while oil-rich states such as Texas and Oklahoma are pursuing bills banning local restrictions on drilling, other states where agriculture is big business have been banning local limitations on the types of seeds sown for crops.

It seems no issue is too small for businesses to take to capitol halls.

Wisconsin has banned local bans on sugary drinks. Arizona and Florida have barred local governments from forbidding toys in fast-food meals. And Utah has barred cities from requiring bicyclists to be served in drive-thru lanes.

In each case, states have stepped in after city officials somewhere in the nation proposed local policies that business leaders didn’t like. Businesses have warned lawmakers that a potential patchwork of local regulations could be bad for the economy.

“We need to give companies and businesses some predictability and some consistency in their operations so that they can grow,” said Shaul, a freshman Republican representative from the St. Louis suburb of Imperial, whose anti-bag ban measure is pending before Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon.

Environmental activists in Columbia, who pushed for the ban on single-use plastic bags at grocery stores, were jolted by the state intervention.

“I was horrified, just really demoralized,” when the legislation passed, said Sierra Club member Jan Dye. “They just want to remove local control.”

The Missouri bill goes beyond plastic bags. It also would also prohibit local governments from requiring businesses to provide employees paid sick leave, vacation or health, disability and retirement benefits. And it would block cities and counties from adopting their own “living wage” requirements.

States have pre-empted some local policies for decades. A movement to restrict local gun ordinances began in 1971, for example, and has been enacted as law in 45 states, according to the National Rifle Association. State lawmakers in Oklahoma and Michigan this year are pushing similar measures for knives.

Some experts trace a rise in states pre-empting local ordinances to the 2010 elections, when Republicans won control of 25 legislatures and 29 governors’ offices. Republicans have expanded their power since then and now hold complete control of three times as many legislatures and governors’ offices as Democrats.

In some cases, those new Republican officeholders have received generous financial support from business interests. Shaul, for example, got about one-quarter of his contributions for his 2014 campaign from people and organizations affiliated with the food industry. In other instances, business lobbyists have simply found a more sympathetic ear in GOP legislatures.

“The fights over economic policy have overwhelmingly shifted to the states” away from the federal government, said Gordon Lafer, a political scientist at the University of Oregon who studies state labor laws. He added: “There’s kind of a race going on, which is can local ordinances be passed faster than influence at the state level can pre-empt them?”

In Utah, a new Salt Lake City ordinance requiring businesses to serve bicyclists in their drive-thru lanes lasted only a few months before the restaurant industry persuaded legislators to overturn it. Restaurant owners argued that mixing bikes with cars would be dangerous.

City officials “were not going to negotiate with us any further,” said Melva Sine, president of the Utah Restaurant Association. So “our only recourse was to go and present the issue before the state legislature.”

Nationally, the restaurant industry also has backed state efforts to pre-empt local wage-and-benefits mandates. At one national meeting of conservative state lawmakers, a restaurant association executive circulated model legislation based on a 2011 Wisconsin law that pre-empted a Milwaukee ordinance.

National Restaurant Association spokeswoman Christin Fernandez said “businesses are operating in an already challenging regulatory environment” and some policies are best decided statewide instead of city-by-city.

For some bicyclists who supported Salt Lake City’s drive-thru ordinance, the state’s action seemed hypocritical. That’s because state lawmakers often object when the federal government sets the rules.

“It’s just being contradictory, it’s just frustrating,” said Deb Henry, a bicycle rider who is president of the Bicycle Collective, which refurbishes bikes for low-income residents in Salt Lake City.

But such assertions by local activists and officials may not carry much weight. That’s because the U.S. Constitution says the states hold all powers not delegated to the federal government. Cities and counties, in turn, get their powers from the states.

City councils and mayors “don’t have some kind of organic legal authority to do whatever they want,” said Missouri state Sen. Kurt Schaefer, a Republican attorney general candidate from Columbia. “It would be absolute bedlam what some of these communities would do to their citizens if they had that ability.”

The post States push back against cities seeking business regulations appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

          Comment on Villaraigosa: The Myth of The Progressive Mayor by Peter Dreier        
During his 8 years as LA mayor, I was both a fan and a critic of Antonio Villaraigosa. I worked in two of his mayoral campaigns (he lost the first time, but won the second), but not his third. I admired him but I was often frustrated with him once he took office. He was certainly more progressive during his first term than his second. He definitely did progressive things around the environment, public transit, and workers' rights, but he was a disappointment regarding education and housing. I'm not supporting his current campaign for governor, but this hatchet job by Robert Skeels, published on the LA Progressive website (where I often publish stuff myself), is really unfair. Skeels' analysis lacks any understanding of how politics really works, including the limits imposed on LA's mayor by the City Council (which during the Villaraigosa years didn't always have a majority of progressives), state government (which limits LA's ability to raise taxes, fund schools, or adopt inclusionary zoning or strong rent control laws), and the fiscal/economic situation he inherited (he took office just as the national economy imposed in a recession caused by Wall Street malpractice). Mayors definitely have some room for maneuver and on some issues (like the living wage, supporting labor in organizing campaigns, cleaning up the port, and successfully fighting for a tax increase to fund public transit) Villaraigosa took advantage of the leverage he had, while on others (housing and schools) he abdicated responsibility or sided with the wrong folks. Anyone who didn't know the realities and simply read Skeels' article would think Villaraigosa was the Donald Trump of LA, a total tool of the business establishment. Not true. This article is incredibly misleading, unfair to Villaraigosa, and unfair to the liberals and progressives whose organizing work he often (but not always) supported against powerful business interests.
          Maximum Wage        
Judging by the posture of the Labour Unions and discussions in the News Media, we are, once again in another iteration of the perennial palava on “Minimum Wage”. On the face of it, the issues of “Minimum Wage” or, if you like, “Living Wage”, easily draws adherents and crowd support. After all, have we not […]
          Loma Linda University Health Institutes a Minimum ‘living wage’ for Employees        

Effective Nov. 1, the living wage has been provided to all employees who met specific criteria.

(PRWeb November 11, 2015)

Read the full story at

          BHA continues to push for Government to commit to the NLW being set by the LPC        

The BHA has been fighting on behalf of its members by lobbying Government to commit to the National Living Wage (NLW) being set by the Low Pay Commission (LPC). Not only that but also for Government to alleviate the impact of the NLW by extending the relief on employers’ National Insurance Contributions for under 21s to... Read more »

The post BHA continues to push for Government to commit to the NLW being set by the LPC appeared first on British Hospitality Association.

          Detroit: the triumph of progressive public policy.        
Detroit: the triumph of progressive public policy. Imagine a city where all the major economic planks of the statist or “progressive” platform have been enacted: A “living wage” ordinance, far above the federal minimum wage, for all public employees and private contractors. A school system that spends significantly more per pupil than the national average. A powerful school employee union
          Women Will Work For Free From Now Until The End Of The Year, Says Charity        

Monday 9 November marks Equal Pay Day in the UK. The Fawcett Society claims that it will take over 50 years to close the gender pay gap.

Pauline Bercker from Leeds joins an equal pay for women demonstration in Trafalgar Square, London, 18 May 1969.

Stan Meagher / Getty Images

Monday 9 November marks the day when women working full-time essentially stop earning and work for free the rest of the year, the UK's leading gender equality charity announced today.

Women are paid on average 14.2% less an hour than men according to the Fawcett Society, which analysed 2014 data on the average full-time hourly earnings for men and women using the latest figures from the Office for National Statistics.

After subtracting the percentage difference of average earnings from 100%, the findings revealed women are paid on average 14.2% less an hour than men.

Equal Pay Day was then calculated by subtracting 14.2% of the year (52 days) from the end of the year, producing today's date.

Prime minister David Cameron speaking to an audience in Edinburgh.

Wpa Pool / Getty Images

The gender pay gap has declined by 1.3% in the last five years. At this rate of progress, it will take over 50 years to close the gap, the charity claims.

"Progress has stalled in recent years but with real commitment from government and employers, together with action from women and men at work, we could speed up progress towards the day when we can consign it to history," Sam Smethers, the Fawcett Society's chief executive, said in a statement.

Earlier this year, prime minister David Cameron pledged to "end the gender pay gap in a generation". The Conservative government made it mandatory for large companies to publish information about the gender differences in average earnings.

The government claims the national living wage of £7.20 per hour will also help with the pay gap.

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          La Boca Loca makes Wellington better by paying living wage        

A couple of months ago, we went along to a dinner put on by the Sustainable Business Network, which was a very interesting night but I found myself unable to write about it without seething with rage remembering the man I’d been seated next to. He owns a franchise chain, believes that the only reason […]

The post La Boca Loca makes Wellington better by paying living wage appeared first on The Wellingtonista.

          Comment on PizzaGate Pedophile Victim’s Mom Speaks Out In Exclusive Tell-All by Jocko Sarlucci        
America, you have been set-up! Private operatives can prove huge amount of Police have gone rogue. REASON - Under payed !! Many bought off by Organised Crime, these need to be 'weeded-out' and replaced with higher caliber Officers and Paid a living wage. No one in high stress jobs should have to work one or more part-time jobs to feed their families - There lies the problem...
          How will technological unemployment impact birthrate?        
This blog post is a short exploration of a thought that hit me about how birth rates might be impacted by the changes in employment caused by future technological change. I consider technological unemployment to be a significant issue as AI and robotics continue to become more capable. I'm not going to support that belief in this post, as that is many posts worth of material. I will assume that to be the case here, and briefly explore one impact of it that I hadn't thought of until recently.

Birth rates have been decreasing in the developed world so much that in many countries, the death rate is larger than the birth rate. According to the CIA World Fact book, there were 26 nations in 2014 for which this was the case. Japan (-1.8 net) and Germany (-3.1 net) are the ones most commonly mentioned, but there are many others. A nice treatment of this can be found at There are a variety of reasons for this. Historically, the first was probably lower infant mortality rates. The more significant ones to me though are the ones that center on the increase in women's rights. As women gain more control over their their reproductive rights, they generally choose to have fewer children. In developed nations we are also seeing a decline in marriage rates and more women entering the workforce. Both of these tend to further reduce the birth rate. It is the last factor mentioned that I want to focus on, as it is the one most related to technological unemployment.

It is worth taking a few sentences to explain why these thoughts popped into my head. I often debate the future impacts of technology with a friend who we will just call by his last name, McLane. He doesn't believe that technological unemployment will be an issue, and one of the many reasons he has sited is articles about there not being enough people to work in countries that have low population growth. He is correct that there are a number of countries providing incentives for people to have kids because they are worried about not having enough people to care for the elderly and keep the economy moving forward. Given the variety of reasons for lower fertility rates, I can indeed imagine a day when the global population goes into a tailspin simply because there are no kids born.

So let's assume that McLane is wrong and we get technological unemployment and have to do something, possibly a basic income, so that a large fraction of the population can live a life with dignity is a world where they can't do anything to earn a living wage because everything they have the skills to do can be done better and cheaper by machines. What happens to the birth rate at that point?

I'm going to by optimistic and assume that in such a world, women have at least equal power in society relative to men. I also assume that women maintain general control over their reproductive rights, and generally have all the freedoms of men. (I can actually imagine women having more power at that time as there are indications that technological unemployment so far has hit men harder than women, so if more women have jobs than men for any period of time, they could be the gender with greater social power.) Still, you get a different dynamic when people aren't chasing careers. Right now both men and women often put much of their personal lives on hold until they are well established in a career. If we have a social structure where machines are doing so much of the work that people live comfortable lives without having careers, that changes.

One of the standard arguments that I hear "against" technological employment is that people get lots of meaning from their jobs. I use quotes, because that isn't really an argument for why it won't happen, just something that could cause problems if it does. Personally, I think that people can find meaning in lots of other things, like hobbies or families and friends, if they don't need to work to live a comfortable life. Let's be honest, lots of people today have rather meaningless jobs and they already get much more of the meaning for their lives from other activities.

Given that, I can see a scenario where the birth rate goes up, and people decide to spend a lot more of their time raising children and focusing on family life. Of course, I can also imagine a world where everyone is just watching things on their screens, they have little physical contact with other humans, and the birth rate continues to sink. I'm wondering what other people think? If technology takes away the need to chase a career, will birth rates in the developed world start to rise again, or will we be so far into a situation where we enjoy our technology that the idea of having kids and a family will continue to decline?
          Comment #550        
I don't think anyone wants anything free, the wealth in the USA does not trickle down. Company CEO makes the wrong decision from greed. Who pays for that decision, the workers (layoffs). HP is a very good example of that. People need a job with a living wage. And still today, HP is still today, HPis trying to buy other companies after letting go over 60,000 employees.
          Toward Sustainable Arts Criticism        
Hardly a week goes by these days when we don't see some article about the layoff of arts writers. This kind of news should be shocking, but it's become so commonplace in the past few years that we have a hard time generating the required outrage that such an announcement should merit. As each major city without a full time paid arts writer gets ticked off the list, we have become wearily resigned to the premise that arts criticism is a dying breed, that arts writing doesn't pay, and that we as a society don't value a well crafted gallery review as much as we do other kinds of journalism and criticism. As a contrarian thinker on these topics, I find myself on the outside looking in, often in head-scratching bewilderment. How can this be?

For me, thoughtful arts criticism is the foundation of the dialogue that pulses through the arts community. It introduces work to those who hadn't been exposed to it, and offers a reasoned explanation and analysis of its merits to those who are already in the know. With the best of intentions, it attempts to separate the wheat from the chaff, all while injecting genuine enthusiasm and knowledge into the discussion. By taking a stand, a critic offers an opportunity for debate, for both agreement and disagreement, and for further exploration of the work at hand. At least for me, reading a great review offers a new way into the work (whether I've seen it or not), and challenges me to think differently about what I've seen. I may not ultimately agree, but I am forced to come to a more complex and nuanced understanding of what's on view.

If there is any overly simple lesson that can be learned from the disruptive effect the Internet has had on newspapers and magazines, it's that the old advertising model has been forever destroyed. Paying for content with advertising alone will no longer provide any kind of reliable economic balance, and if we want high quality arts writing, we must find alternate ways to fund it, as it doesn't come for free. Entire industries of smart people have broken their picks on this problem, and after many years of innovative experimentation, we've still not discovered any magic bullet that makes the ledgers even out. So, we are left with a state of disarray: writers must be paid at least a living wage to produce superlative content, but advertising revenue won't match the outlays necessary to fund that content (or the other costs of producing the publication for that matter). And thus, the bleeding of arts writers continues.

As we all stand in a circle and look at each other for answers, our gaze inevitably turns back around to our readers; unfortunately, they're aren't a lot of other places to look. If we want the kind of thoughtful dialogue we draw from our best writers, perhaps the readers (or other supporters) can step into the breach and fill the funding gap. This idea starts from a deficit, as one of the early premises that underpinned the last decade of revolution was that content wanted to be free; even though we continue to pay subscription and newsstand prices for paper content, we were initially trained that its digital equivalent came at no charge. Along with this free mindset came the erroneous idea that professional arts writers would be happy to trade real dollars in payment for broad "exposure". This myth has been proven false again and again; great writing of all kinds costs money to produce (even if it is ultimately given away for free) and dwindling payment for writers will ultimately lead to very little writing, except the kind that people are willing to do altruistically or as a hobby (like this blog).

In the past few years, asking for the support of readers has become increasingly widespread. In for profit models, content is increasingly being locked up behind paywalls and subscription services; perhaps in the future, these systems will get even more granular, allowing the annual signup to migrate toward micropayments for individual articles. In not for profit models, memberships, charitable donations, and other fund raising methods are tapping readers for dollars. Whether the payment system is imposed or voluntary, we are now entering a phase where the users of arts content are being asked to help fund its creation - the community is being asked to support its own interests.

For roughly the past five years, DLK COLLECTION has been an attempt to support and engage the photography community by writing about facets of the art and its market that were being overlooked by other publications. Given the slow decline in plausible photography coverage coming from the traditional New York outlets, the current situation is certainly no better than when we started; for those of us that are passionate about photography (and collecting), the pickings are still pretty slim.

Perhaps delusionally, we remain undaunted. Now, more than ever, we have confidence in the need for great writing about photography, and are willing to put our money where our mouth is by investing in our delivery platform. Several months ago, we embarked on a major overhaul of the site, including an entirely new WordPress/Responsive infrastructure (finally moving off of Blogger) and an entirely new graphic design. When the new site launches in September, it will have a new name (and domain), a new logo, and completely different look and feel. Not unlike an online newspaper, it will have a front page and a series of edited sections, covering galleries, museums, photobooks, art fairs, auctions and the like. Every single one of the existing 1600+ posts (as well as all the individual images posted on Twitter) will be ported to the new site, and there will be plenty of tools and navigation helpers to make finding an artist or gallery in the archive much easier (with more than 1100 artists/photographers and nearly 700 galleries worldwide to be found in the system, these tools start to matter). If we get it right (and we're working feverishly to ensure that we do), we will in one fell swoop transform the site from an amateur undertaking to a crisply professional photography platform, equally ready for your desktop, tablet, or mobile phone.

While we don't want to steal the thunder of its ultimate caterpillar-to-butterfly-like transformation, there are a couple of changes in our overall approach that we want to pass along now:

1.) Given the investment in the underlying platform, the site will now be much more able to handle multiple bylines, and like our monetary commitment to the platform, we're also ready to start selectively funding more superlative content from great writers. We expect to pay better than competitive rates to a small group of freelance writers, and will hopefully end up with a spectrum of regular contributors and intermittent guest writers. What we're looking for is consistently thoughtful and well reasoned analysis of fine art photography, especially when it's written by active collectors. We're into opinionated, knowledgeable criticism, not news or aggregated links; if you've got an idea for a piece that will fit into one of our areas of interest (galleries, museums, photobooks, art fairs, auctions, and the photographers and art that underlies all of them), shoot an email to to start the discussion. Want to write a dumbed down listicle of the top 10 shows to see, aping the press releases that just arrived in your inbox? We're not a match.

2.) On the new site, all advertising will be priced on a click through basis. Part of this change is purely technical, in that we will now have the ability to track the number of click throughs for an individual banner with much more reliability. But more importantly, we've come to the philosophical position that plain vanilla banner advertising doesn't align the interests of the advertisers, the site, and the readers particularly well. What everyone wants is a robust community, where advertising/sponsorship is relevant and unobtrusive, but generates follow through from targeted readers who are actually interested. The branding value of a banner that people see but don't interact with is amorphous at best, and we've decided to discount it to zero. Advertisers will be charged entirely based on how many click throughs occur; at its limit, if there are no click throughs during the entire run of a banner, it would be free. While there are a few other details to the plan, the goal is to end up with verifiable, quantifiable metrics for how well the advertising is working, with readers ringing the cash register for the site when they express their genuine interest. Want to hear more (there are now many more options/locations than the old chiclet banner)? Connect with us at to be ready for the surge of Fall activity.

3.) With the utmost in modesty and humility, we will offer readers the opportunity to support the site. We'll leave the mechanics of the program for the launch, but the plan is to deliver a content product that has enough consistent value to be worth supporting with hard earned dollars. With most of the major infrastructure costs now sunk, aside from a few ongoing back office and operational costs, most of our variable costs will come in the form of payments to writers. The going forward plan is to run the business on a shoestring, so that all the available money is directed to great writers. This isn't a charity and we're not looking for your sympathy, but what we do want is for readers to be passionate about what they're reading, so much so that they make the plunge and offer some support that can be redirected to the next great essay or review. If we get the balance right, inflows from readers and advertisers will match outflows to writers and operational costs in a kind of unheard of equilibrium. We're looking for the mythical unicorn that no one has found yet in this world of arts criticism, the dream of stand alone sustainability, and the only way we get there is if we deliver content people are ultimately willing to pay for. The onus is on us to challenge our readers with great photography writing each and every day, and only then will we have a chance at making the math work.

With those ideas as a teaser of what's to come, we're going on summer hiatus until the launch of the new site in September; there will be no new reviews or other posts until we make the switch over. Rest assured, we're not taking a break in the slightest, just frantically working behind the scenes to ensure we're ready for our big debut.

Keeping in line with the national trend, New York lawmakers in Albany have proposed two significant raises to statewide minimum wage requirements, which will go into effect as early as December 31, 2015. First, in his State of the State Address on January 28, 2015, Governor Andrew Cuomo proposed an increase to the state's minimum wage, which would raise it to $10.50 per hour by the end of 2016. An even higher hourly minimum wage of $11.50 was suggested for employees in New York City, to reflect the higher cost of living in the metropolitan area. This proposal functions as a compromise to exasperated New Yorkers without overturning longstanding precedent that prohibits municipalities in New York State from setting local wages above the state minimum. See Wholesale Laundry Board of Trade, Inc. v. New York, 17 A.D.2d 327, 329-30 (1st Dep't 1962). Second, on February 24, 2015, the New York State Commissioner of Labor Mario J. Musolino adopted resolutions set forth by the Department of Labor's Wage Board that will significantly increase the wages and rights of tipped workers across the state. Most prominent among these was the resolution to increase the minimum wage for tipped employees to $7.50 per hour, effective December 31, 2015, and $8.50 per hour for tipped workers in New York City, contingent upon the State Assembly's adoption of a distinct wage for the City. Commissioner Musolino also adopted a recommendation to eliminate distinctions between tipped workers within the hospitality industry. Effective December 31, 2015, food service employees, service employees, and service employees in resort hotels will be treated equally under the Labor Law. The Commissioner rejected the Wage Board's recommendation that employers of tipped workers should be subject to enhanced tip credits, citing incongruity with the Wage Board's desire to simplify the regulations and rejecting the underlying assumption that tip allowances are a penalty rather than a substantive right to pay. If and when these changes go into effect, New York State and New York City will become leaders in the nationwide Living Wage movement. The current statewide minimum wage is $8.75 per hour, and is set to increase to $9.00 per hour on December 31, 2015. "Written by Kerry C. Herman, Associate at Sapir Schragin LLP. The views and opinions expressed herein are the author's own and do not reflect those of Sapir Schragin LLP."
          The Devaluation of Work (and the people who do it.)        
A few years ago I attended an out-of-state conference with two colleagues. The plane ride was a hoot. These guys were funny and irreverent and I was looking forward to a great weekend. After we picked up our bags the three of us shared a cab from the airport to our waterfront hotel. A ten-minute ride, tops.

By the time we arrived at the hotel, I wanted to murder my companions.

Far from being funny, they'd used their wit to excoriate the driver, making fun of everything from his looks to his manner of speaking to his taste in music. What struck hardest was their undisguised distain for this man performing such a menial task. The word 'lowlife' came up more than once.

You see, our cab driver wasn't from here. He was a brown-skinned guy with an unpronounceable name and a serious accent, and the music blasting from the speakers danged sure wasn't Sinatra.

So, even though the driver had jumped out of his yellow taxi with a smile and lifted our heavy suitcases into the trunk before opening our doors, my friends felt justified calling him a 'sand nigger.' Even though the cab was clean, the ride comfortable, and the route direct, the human being who performed this valuable service didn't merit the dignity of a polite 'thank you.'

Never mind that he was Ethiopian (a majority Christian nation), well-educated (try taking a driving test in a foreign language sometime), and a hard-working small business owner, my companions were fixated on the social services this man was sucking up. My colleagues complained (loud enough for the driver to hear) that 'they' only come here for free schools and free food vouchers and free healthcare.

Red-faced, I had leaned between the seats to ask questions during the ride, hoping to drown out the idiots beside me. The driver told me where he was from, that he was an independent contractor with the cab company. When we got to the hotel and my friends had taken their bags, I lingered at the trunk. "Do you have family here?"

The man nodded. "A wife and two children." The enthusiasm in his eyes had been replaced by something bleaker. "My wife works in a kitchen. I am a chemist, but in my country..."

I wanted to say so much that day: That what he'd done for himself and his family represents what Americans say we value. Hard work, bravery, sacrifice for the greater good. That anyone who works deserves respect, regardless of the nature of that toil. That the four miles from the airport to the hotel would've been a damned difficult slog with my shoe-laden suitcase, and I was grateful for his service.

Instead, I gave him a twenty-buck tip on a ten-dollar fare and wished him a good afternoon.

But the experience sharpened a thought that had been coalescing for a while. My friends might be jerks, but their views weren't unique. After listening to them the rest of the weekend, I realized they genuinely believe they're paying for a huge population of poor people who rely on public support to survive.

In a sense, they're correct.

The problem is, those same people are working forty or fifty hours a week. They literally have no more hours of their lives to trade for dollars, yet need public assistance to survive.

Have we become so resentful of the social safety net we can't see how our reliance on cheap labor makes it necessary? Want to get rid of food stamps? Great! Raise wages so anyone who works can survive without them.

Did you hear me? Anyone who WORKS.

Fast food, janitorial, retail clerk. No matter how menial, boring, or unchallenging the job, work is good, right? Something we should laud as righteous and worthwhile and as deserving our respect.

But is that really what I believe, or do I secretly look down on folks who do the crappy jobs I can't imagine doing?

If I'm honest, I'm as bad as my colleagues. At least they don't hide their disdain for 'lowlifes' in minimum-wage jobs. Sure, I talk about dignity and hard work, but where do I spend my dollars?

Because when I order a cheap burger knowing the woman who cooked the meal can't feed her own family on what she earns, I'm saying I don't value work. Maybe I cringe at the words 'sand nigger,' but when I shop at a certain Arkansas-based chain whose full-time employees drown beneath the poverty line, I'm saying I don't believe folks who work there should earn a living wage.

                              (Probably wouldn't hurt to skip the burger altogether.)

Legislation would be nice (ain't gonna happen), and I'd love to see minimum-wage workers rise up and prove how much they contribute to the economy. But maybe the rest of us simply need to focus--again--on valuing work over wealth.

Here's a list of fast-food chains that pay a living wage. Next time I eat out, I'll check the interwebs for companies who pay their employees well and declare my support with my own hard-earned dollars. If you love shopping at big-box stores, here's proof that paying employees more yields bigger profits (and better service!) At Christmas, why don't I take ten minutes to find out whether the store believes as I do--that people who work shouldn't need food stamps to survive.

My colleagues are free to believe as they choose. Instead of focusing on their horrific manners, I'd have been better off investigating my own beliefs--and holding them up against my actions.

Starting today, I'll do just that.

Cheers...and Happy Shopping!


          TPS 17 - Minimum Wage V Living Wage        
In this episode I spoke to Robin McAlpine about the minimum wage and the living wage. Why aren't they the same thing? What are the differences between the various parties on these issues. More importantly, is there a better way to look at the while issue? William Duguid has excelled himself again too. This time he's keeping us all up to date on the latest from the Ministry of Patronising Pish.
          What happens when Govt forces $15 min wage on business        

I walked into this McDonald's on Court Street in Brooklyn and this is what I saw. 
The place had been retooled with Kiosks for customers to order their food.  You know what else I saw?  Less workers.  Those missing workers no longer have a job because they believed in politicians lies about getting them a so-called living wage. 

That was never going to happen and they were told that business like McDonald's and other places were going to make adjustments in order to stay in business.    

The Drive for $15 was a scam to get votes.

Ya' been took once again! 

          Michelle Boone        

As Commissioner of the City of Chicago’s Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events, Michelle Boone offers insight into how and why the city selects its visual arts exhibitions, and also discusses the future goals for sustaining and supporting the city’s artists.

“We recognize that the magnificent art schools here in the city are turning out thousands of creative degrees, but we don’t have the infrastructure in place to be that supportive to those people. We have to do a better job of making sure that artists are able to earn a living wage and that they can have affordable housing.”

Michelle T. Boone is the Commissioner of the City of Chicago’s Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events. Prior to her appointment by Mayor Rahm Emanuel in 2011, Boone was the Senior Program Officer for Culture at the Joyce Foundation in Chicago, managing the Joyce Awards program: a competitive grant opportunity available to arts and culture groups in the Midwest to commission new works by artists of color. Boone serves on the boards of Grantmakers in the Arts and Americans for the Arts, the Arts Alliance Illinois, Third Coast International Audio Festival, South Chicago Arts Center, and NeighborSpace. Boone was also the director of Gallery 37, an award-winning job-training in the arts program for Chicago youth through the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs.

          Weatherization Program Milestone        
Free weatherization completes the 300th home with American Reinvestment and Recovery funding.

Representatives from Community Action of Nebraska, the Nebraska Energy Office, and Southeast Nebraska Community Action (SENCA) plus Kathy Neumeister of Avoca, owner of the 300th home, and several other families who have received the no cost weatherization service will be in Avoca today. according to the Cassgram.

By the time the program closes out on October 31st of this year, 365 houses in southeast Nebraska will have received weatherization services. Not only have these dollars been invested in low to moderate income households, but the program has been instrumental in providing living wage jobs and job training to over 20 individuals in southeast Nebraska who have been a part of the SENCA weatherization team.
Click here for more information.

          Galen Weston Knows Paying a Living Wage is Bad for Capitalism        

A full-time minimum wage worker takes home $25,877. In Toronto where rent averages $2,000 a month, that means living in poverty.


Galen Weston Jr., the mild-mannered, bespectacled grocery-store magnate you may recognize from President’s Choice commercials, is a thoroughly Canadian one-percenter. He is thoroughly Canadian in the sense that he isn’t flashy or grandiose like Richard Branson, and he doesn’t tout the benefits of vampirism or plot to destroy the free press, à la real-life super […]

The post Galen Weston Knows Paying a Living Wage is Bad for Capitalism appeared first on Torontoist.

          Charitable (or not so?) Mutuals, 30% pay cuts and "misled" in Pembrokeshire. (oh! and a 'Conservative Home' contributor)        

A 'charitable?' Library Mutual (and a petition)

Libraries Unlimited, one of the flagship library 'mutuals' run by the ex-head of the Society of Chief Librarians and Libraries Taskforce board member, recently announced that it would be cutting 'weekend enhancement' pay for it's staff, but it seems that in the 'Brave New World' of worker owned mutuals not all workers are equal.

"The pay cut will only affect lower-paid staff while the senior management team and those above Grade E will take no share of the cost-saving measures."

Ciara Eastell, a recent OBE recipient, apparently responded to the suggestion that she and the rest of the senior management should face the same cut by saying;

"she 'worked hard' and 'didn't think she deserved [one]'.

Whilst those at the bottom of the hierarchical ladder (who obviously don't work hard enough and thus don't deserve a proper salary) face up to a 30% pay cut;

"A library assistant joining the organisation now would earn £8.35 pr/hr, less than the UK Living Wage, and a relief library assistant would earn even less."

Library staff are so concerned that they've set up a petition which is very brave of them as I've heard they've been gagged from speaking about the cuts.

"But councils are cutting terms and conditions and gagging their staff" I hear you say and yes you're right but councils don't claim to be charitable worker-owned social enterprises do they?

Unison have raised serious concerns that mutualisation often leads to cuts in workers T&C's and the creation of a two-tier workforce;

"UNISON believes that alternative delivery models are not a panacea for cuts and in reality, significant savings would only be achieved through the denigration of workforce terms and conditions and/or the creation of a two-tier workforce"


Another day in libraryland and another Libraries Taskforce blog post, this time pushing the governments agenda on spinning out public libraries as mutuals or to give them their full title 'maude's mock mutuals'.

'Could an alternative delivery model be right for your library service?'

The piece was written by Fiona Williams, Chief Executive of Explore York Libraries and Archive and outlines how they became a mutual, plugs some DCMS workshops in March and introduces to us a new consortium, Optimo.

Optimo consists of York Explore, Suffolk Libraries, Inspire (Nottinghamshire), Libraries Unlimited (Devon) and Mutual Ventures.

Mutual Ventures is a consultancy firm fronted by David Fairhurst and Andrew Laird, they claim to;

"support public service commissioners, organisational leaders and front-line staff who are seeking to identify, develop and grow the right delivery model for their services"

not only that but they also state that;

"The missing element from traditional delivery is the power of public service entrepreneuralism"

One the directors, David Fairhurst, in 2012 was appointed by the government as one of its 15 'mutuals ambassadors'.

And the other director, Andrew Laird, is a regular contributor to the 'Conservative Home' website and recently wrote a piece for them in which he states;

"Theresa May has expressed a desire to see a more diverse public service market place with more public service mutuals. The Prime Minister has also spoken of the Government stepping up to repair markets where they are not working. So where better to start than by releasing the inner entrepreneur of our nurses, social workers and librarians? It’s the best way I can think of to kick start public service productivity."

So basically they're just another bunch of neo-liberals who've found a way of making money out of the government's ideological agenda to undermine and offload public services. Just another example of consultants circling the public sector carcass looking for bones.
Doesn't this and the 30% pay cuts in Devon bring the mutuals and co-operative movement into disrepute?

Winckworth Sherwood

"Aren't Winckworth Sherwood just a firm of solicitors?" I hear you say well yes they are but they've also found a way of making money out of the library crisis by advising councils on spinning out their services.

"The team has particular expertise advising on charity options for leisure, culture and heritage projects."
"To date the team have established over 75 arts, leisure and culture trusts operating successfully throughout the UK."

But it looks as if things haven't quite gone to plan in Pembrokeshire with the council asking for it's money back claiming that the firm "misled" them, oh dear!

"The council paid private consultant Winckworth Sherwood £20,000 to advise on how to save money by outsourcing libraries, leisure centres and sports pitches to a charitable trust."
"I think we were very much misled by Winckworth Sherwood and I ask that we make this known to the consultants."

See for more on Winckworth Sherwood and their lead partner on spinning out public services, Joanna Bussell.

          Comment on McDonald’s New Advertising Proves the Fast Food Chain Really is Evil (And Not Because It Hates Kale): Foodie Underground by Zyxomma        
I'm pleased that I haven't eaten at McDonald's since I was a kid, and I'm 60. I'm pleased that I know how to cook (or un-cook, a lot of my food prep is live food) everything I eat, and many things I don't, from scratch. I'm DISpleased that this disgusting, greedy, fast-food restaurant does not pay its workers a living wage, or even close to it, and I'm even more displeased that, by lobbying Congress, it accepts SNAP (formerly known as food stamps) at so many of its "restaurants." What a disaster.
          My Non-Equity Actor Manifesto        

Dear Boston-area non-Equity theatre producers:
I am a non-Equity actor. I call myself a professional due to my two decades' experience, training, attitude and ability. I made a choice to work a full-time career outside of my art from economic necessity. I neither expect nor demand a living wage in exchange for my services.


My time is valuable.
In addition to my full-time job, you're asking me to spend 4-6 weeks in rehearsal and 2-4 weeks in performance. When I'm working on a show, I leave the house at 8:30 am and roll in after 11pm. This is time away from my friends, family and partner. My cats miss me. My laundry and dishes pile up. My milk goes bad. I miss other people's shows. I miss family gatherings. I miss concerts, movies, museum exhibits, TV shows, and other cultural events. I spend money on gas, tolls, parking, bus fare, cab fare and subway fare to get to rehearsal.

My skill set is valuable.
Check out my résumé. I don't need any more exposure or experience, thanks; I've been at this for twenty years. Trust me. I've got plenty.

There is a limited set of circumstances under which I'll work for free.
It's my first time working with you.
I'm excited about the play, the role, the cast, the director, etc.
There's a realistic chance you'll bring me on board as an artistic associate, let me direct someday, etc.

You really should pay your actors.
If you don't already, I strongly suggest you make it your mission in the very near future to do so. This may mean more active/aggressive fundraising, a slightly higher ticket price, or choosing plays with smaller casts. Even if it's only a $100 or $150 stipend, it's a start, and it's meaningful and beneficial to us actors.

I know it's not (always) your fault.
I understand that there are economic realities at play, especially in this city. Performance space is expensive and limited. There's nowhere to rehearse. It costs a lot to put on a show, and I absolutely respect that you want to reach a broad audience and keep ticket prices low. I know you're investing as much if not more time and sweat into this as we are, and quite often you're not making a dime on this either. I don't accuse you of deliberately exploiting the actors of this city; I trust that the vast majority of you would pay us if you could.

But the more that actors are willing to work for free, the more that theatre producers become accustomed to actors working for free. When we set our value at zero, eventually our worth becomes zero.

When you pay your actors:
  • You attract better actors, which usually improves the quality of your productions, which usually raises your profile.
  • You make the theatre scene more competitive, but in a good way; actors with less experience are motivated to improve their skill set.
  • You stymie the attrition of the area's talent pool. You give a reason for early and mid-career artists to stay around, and for artists to settle here.

Until that happy day when someone opens a checkbook and creates a complex of affordable blackboxes specifically for the emerging/small/fringe theatre scene, when the local university theatre programs are more willing to share their spaces and resources, and when there is increased mentoring between larger and smaller theatre companies, a major step in pushing our theatre scene forward is paying the artists you hire. And for our local actors to take a stand and demand compensation.
          14 years of the same ISH        
Sometimes I feel as if I am in a bad dream, it is as if President Obama and President George W. Bush are one in the same, for the policies I was vehemently against while GWB was in office, I am still against and have been put in effect a lot more viscerally under Obama.  What I saw with Bush: the incessant wars, taxbreaks for the wealthy, the banks and Wall Street getting wealthier without any threat of prosecution for criminal wrong doing and war mongering, I see two times in President Obama.

Bush did not place U.S. domestic issues as being our main priority, and nor does Obama. Bush was preoccupied with Iraq, and Afghanistan and Mr. Obama, Somalia, Yemen, Pakistan, Syria, Libya, and now the Ukraine. Currently the latter is more like some dystopian Fourier reality, that for him is dynamic and fascinating, but for the majority of Americans, wasteful and unnecessary. It is as if the Ukraine and parcels of land 99 percent of Americans will never see or set foot upon, deserves more attention than the millions of Americans with major financial needs like the hungry, the homeless, or the millions who can’t pay their rent or mortgages or whom need jobs at living wages.

There is no valid reason to be occupied with the Ukraine when what we face at home is a true national security threat economically. Just this past week, Federal Reserve Chairman Janet Yellen informed the Joint Economic Committee of Congress that under current policies the federal government’s deficits “will rise to unsustainable levels.” Unemployment, depressed wages and unadmitted inflation is killing us. We are over our head and drowning in deficit spending so all we left with is printing “mo money, mo money and mo money,” to use a phrase from “In Living Color.”
Why is the U.S. economy more of a national security issue than the Ukraine? First, at last count, about 5 trillion or approximately 47% of U.S. debt is owned by foreign investors, the largest being China and Japan at (plus $1.1 trillion each). Unlike us, the Russian government expects to have a budget surplus according to the IMF. Add to this, Russia also has a trade surplus which increased to $18.86 billion while the U.S. trade deficit continues to fall. If anything, maybe the U.S. wants a war so it can rev up its dire economic prospectus. For it is clear that what we observed when George W. Bush invaded Iraq in 2003, the same can be noted, applied and said for the Obama Administration – the economic and financial need ­of conflict with another energy rich nation.
Why else make a big fuss about nothing? Obama in his neoliberal caricature resembles Balzac’s master criminal Vautrin more than the leader of the free world as the U.S. has been coined. Big oil and Wall Street made a killing under Bush. The U.S. invasion of Iraq crushed that country, destroyed Iraq’s state-owned oil industry, and grew the price of   crude from $20 a barrel to $147 a barrel in 2008 (needless to state Exxon Mobil’s most profitable year ever). The point being whenever sanctions are placed on an energy rich nation, U.S. plutocrats get paid. Obama is just extending the Bush playbook and we saw such in 2011 when sanctions were placed on Iran and Sudan. And when they don’t work, we have good ole NATO, who implemented an undeclared war on Libya, not to forget the CIA efforts in Syria. Thus, it doesn’t take a high school graduate to foresee the impact or likely impact the disruption of the flow of Russian energy to Europe would mean for big U.S. oil companies.
Obama and Bush are in policy, one and the same person, the only differences are gang, I mean political affiliation and ethnicity. The U.S. I suspect see the Ukraine as a means to grow and escalate military spending across Europe, making the U.S. military industrial complex more loot on behalf of U.S. oil interest. See, what corporate U.S.A and Wall Street know is that war drives capital into the United States, which keep U.S. banks the main feature of the global economy by cutting the deficit and artificially propping up the dollar. This is the only conclusion that is both reasonable and logical for as German MP Alexander Neu noted, “Not a single NATO country is in any way threatened,” by the actions in the Ukraine. Plus, what would we expect, there are more than 6000 German companiesactive in Russia with more than $27 billion invested in the nation. Meaning just like Iraq was no threat, or Libya, or Syria, Obama economic and foreign policy is no different than his predecessor with the exception it is on steroids.

          Morinaga Added to List of Orange County Living Wage Employers        

The Orange County Living Wage Project is continuing to grow as more employers in our community commit to paying their workers a living wage, which is calculated as $12.75 per hour in Orange County. Another employer was added to the list last Thursday and it was a rather large get for the local non-profit. Susan […]

The post Morinaga Added to List of Orange County Living Wage Employers appeared first on

          Performance review: More feedback on President Obama        

We don't normally publish the feedback from our Reader Surveys online, out of respect for the privacy of respondents (name and city are included in this section), but between the record amount or responses to our survey on President Obama and the passion with which our readers responded, we wanted to share them with our online readers.

We've included some of our favorite answers without any identifying information.

For Catholics, the greatest success of the Obama administration has been:

The passage of healthcare reform.

Fighting for extended unemployment benefits.

Getting out of the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Including more minorities and women in cabinet positions.

A greater emphasis on providing for the needs of the poor.

Concern for the working class and trying to boost economic employment.

His leadership in international matters and helping bring about the demise of corrupt and tyrannical Mideast leaders.

The death of Osama Bin Laden.

Keeping the recession from becoming a depression.

National Security. He has kept the country safe. He has employed smart foreign policy and has not been reckless like the last president. The world respects us more today.

Ending don’t ask, don’t tell.

The most important issue for Catholics that the Obama administration has failed to appropriately address is:

Respect for all human life.

Helping the poor, homeless, and disabled.

The drastic rise in poor children and loss of services to all of our children. We have cut our investments in education, positioning ourselves to lose future jobs to other nations.

Military spending.

Education. Education for the 21st century is the key in helping to reduce poverty as a world problem.  We need education for a global economy and learning how to listen to one another in our shrinking world.

Capital punishment.

The inequality of opportunity in the country.

Abortion and rights for medical workers conscience.

Making the tax code more beneficial to the vast majority of Americans.

Protecting human life from conception to natural death, and the continued protection of the Defense of Marriage Act.

Improving access to assistance for single moms to reduce the need for abortions.

The easy answer is to say "abortion," but I actually believe Obama and the Democrats have, overall, failed to address the issue of subsidiarity. Health care reform, for example, ought to be dealt with at the state level, not the federal level.

Care for the poor, the widowed, the orphan--a great many of whom were made that way through war. Obama has not been strong enough to hack away at the military-industrial complex.

Economic justice--using the tax code to close loopholes, providing incentives for companies to pay a living wage, and reducing how rich the super-rich in our country are.

Immigration reform.

The massive accumulation of society's wealth in the top 1% of the population.

All of them. He has not appropriately addressed any issues important to Catholics or any American since Day One of his Presidency.

Stopping the war in Afghanistan.

No matter who wins the next election, the top priority for the president should be:

Rebuilding national unity.

Finding a way to decrease the gap in income between the wealthiest and the poor.

Stopping the wars and reining in the military, so we can help build a better world and a better country.

Representing all the people, not just the wealthy and not just the poor.

Showing respect for all Americans, and an ability to work with both parties.

Creating jobs

Outlawing abortion.

To stop the outsourcing of American jobs.

Global warming

Looking out for those of us who live paycheck to paycheck.

National defense including securing the borders

Nuclear weapons, especially in North Korea and Iran.

To restore the government to one of the people, by the people and for the people by outlawing lobbying, corporate political funding, and revolving door relationships between government and industry.{C}

If I could choose anyone to be president, I would pick ________, because:

Barack Obama, because I think he has a truly American agenda.

Elizabeth Warren, because she is smart, courageous and has the best interests of the common good at the core of her political agenda.

FDR, because even his ghost could do a better job than the Republicans.

The pope!  He would run our nation as God intended!

Jon Stewart, because he understands the plight of normal Americans and he isn't afraid to ask the hard questions and make people think.

Solomon, because he sought wisdom for the common good rather than power for himself.

Allen West, because he has good morals and good character.

Dennis Kucinich, because he has a progressive vision and isn't in the pocket of corporate money.

Can we clone Abraham Lincoln, Gandhi, or Roosevelt somehow?

Jim Wallis. He seems to have a good handle on justice issues, appreciates the ideological gap and its effects, and has been successful bringing various factions to the same table.

Pope Leo XIII because of his stand on social justice.

Sen. John Tester, because he pays attention to his constituents and tries to vote for the good of the people not his personal gain.

Sister Joan Chittister, because she is filled with wisdom, honestly, faith, and has a deep understanding of people.

My godmother Aunt Pat, because she knows the world and its history, because she is deeply religious, because she has devoted her life to unselfishly sharing her wisdom and values as a teacher and scholar, and because she doesn't want the job!

Warren Buffet. Of those with public reputations the man has a strong sense of social reality.

Jesus, because there would be no hatred

Chris Christie. He is compassionate and firm but fair.

Marco Rubio, whose principles are aligned with Catholic teaching.

Colin Powell. He is an exceptional diplomat and leader with a direct approach to events and problems and with a proven record of success.

Bill Clinton, because those were the good old days!

Sen. Bernie Sanders, because he fights for the people.

Jon Huntsman, because he is the most intelligent, moderate, and level-headed of the Republican candidates.

Oprah, because she has the common good and the dignity of the individual in her mind.

Mitt Romney, because he has enough government experience to know the system but not be beholden to it and enough success in the business world to shake things up. And he has Mormon values that he stands up for.

A U.S. archbishop who will have the moral background and the administrative experience. Certainly no more pandering life-long politicians or corporate sell-outs.

Rev. Daniel Berrigan, SJ. He embodies Catholic social justice teaching.

Hillary Clinton, because even though her policy views do not align perfectly with mine, she understands the essential nature of underlying social justice regarding domestic issues, and has the skills needed to work the bureaucratic system to accomplish her goals.

Rick Santorum, as he would uphold the Judeo-Christian basis of our nation.

Russ Feingold, because he is a man of integrity who will not be bought.

Ron Paul, because he understands the Constitution and what a representative republic means.

Ray LaHood, because he has been a member of the Republican party, yet works for a Democratic president and could possibly get the Republicans to reach across the aisle.

Herman Cain. He is pro-life and he understands business policies.

Mike Huckabee, because I think he'd do a good job and it would be nice to have a decent Arkansan in the White House to make up for Clinton.

(Louisiana Governor) Bobby Jindal, because of his respect for life, marriage, and family, and for his ability to successfully run a state without overspending.

Lee Iaccoca, because he is a man of experience and principal and has proven himself over the years to be able to pull a situation out of crisis.

Father Robert Barron, because he would bring an articulate, orthodox and compassionate Catholic world view to the task.

Michele Bachman, because she is the ideal pro-life president, and a godly woman.

Condoleezza Rice. She has the ability to understand the actual needs of the American people, experience in international affairs, and exceptional leadership skills.

Bill Gates, because he seems to understand that God wants us to use what we have for helping all God's children.

Father John Dear because he is humble and clearly supports causes of peace and justice for all humanity. 

Rick Perry. He has a Texas mentality and will make the USA number one again.

If I were president for a day and could do anything by executive order, I would:

Simplify the tax code to be more equitable.

Make abortion illegal.

Remove the "Supreme Court justice for life" provision and find a way to curb the power of judges at all levels.

Initiate an infrastructure improvement and building projects similar to our projects to get out of the Great Depression.

Forgive all student loans.

Withdraw all troops from Afghanistan.

Sign an order to permit any person to marry civilly with appropriate responsibilities, benefits, and rights regardless of their personal relationship preferences.

Move most of the military budget to opening community centers for pre-teens and teens which would offer programs, gathering spaces, fun activities and just a place for them to hang out.

Make it impossible for corporations and many financial industry employees to circumvent the intention of the country's tax policies.

Reinstate regulation of the media to break corporate monopolies and safeguard free speech.

Drastically change federal funding for food stamps and public schools to provide a solid foundation for everyone, and a more equitable school funding structure.

Stop the death penalty.

Reform our immigration laws and rules to make them more humane and realistic so that immigrants would have an opportunity to come and live and work here with documentation.

Introduce term limits for both houses of Congress to max out at two terms each.

Stop all foreign trade.

Permit undocumented, unaccompanied minors to rejoin their families.

Eliminate the EPA.

Stop federal funding for abortion and dramatically cut defense spending.

Stop unjust immigration policies. -- Rev. Thomas P. Ivory, West Orange, N.J.

Provide amnesty for all the illegal immigrants here in our country for years and years who have worked hard and have been good people.

Repeal the Bush tax cuts.

Lower the salary of those in Congress and put limits on what they can raise for re-election.

This article is a web-only feature that accompanies Performance review: Readers rate the president's record.


          Comment on Is The State Ready To Invest In Education For Foxconn? by onevote        
Never been much of a Thomas Friedman fan (, and employers--if they really want to hire people (training people instead of using some skills-deficit excuse to not emply them)--pay those "valued" workers a family-supporting, living wage. Just sayin'
          Jobs in My Local Area What People are Saying About Them        
Local jobs are in great demand and many jobs are generated to meet this demand. It is clear that none of us can travel to jobs beyond a certain distance, due to time and cost constraints. Government departments are aware of the need for jobs in my local area, but can only create a certain number.

Manufacturing is an important industry that recruits many personnel for jobs in my local area like, accountants, mining engineers, customer service people, human resources, geologists etc.

Jobs in my local area are thus created, income remains in local areas, and local partnerships are encouraged. Capacity is built in the community for ongoing services delivery.

Local Jobs and Global Jobs - Watch this YouTube Video to find out!

Local jobs are mainly available in the mining industry in Wyoming which is very sparsely populated. It is a mountainous state with mountain ranges of the Rocky Mountain west.

Jobs in my local area are unfortunately being lost due to the credit crunch. Let us hope the slow-down will be short lived.

We all like to see new supermarkets opening and see such events as very positive for jobs in the local area. However, the picture may not be as rosy as it at first appears. Supermarket claims that new stores bring in jobs fail to consider the wider picture of local independent retailer bankruptcies.

Jobs in my local area are a priority for more people because of rising gas costs. As the price of gas rises, the cost of commuting is becoming impossible to cover for many workers.

There are a lot of worries about the loss jobs in my local area. A large banking corporation which is a big employer locally announced that the company is not ready to announce specific job cuts. Nevertheless, such cuts are not ruled out. However, it does say the cuts will broadly impact geographic areas and businesses throughout the corporation.

Jobs in my local area can be created by some surprising developments. Due to the rising cost of food cities around the world are seeing examples of much increased and very successful urban agriculture, and discovering the social, as well as the culinary, benefits of community gardens. This also has the benefit of creating jobs in my local area. City inner suburbs often also have lower than average unemployment. What if this stimulus funded the effort to turn all their gardens green - with vegetables!?

Forestry is a big employer providing for jobs in my local area. State Forests of New South Wales will regularly offer, through a competitive process, non-quota specialty sawlogs and craftwood sourced in the woodland regions. This initiative is designed to provide for jobs in my local area and makes more timber products available, particularly to low volume users, for further processing and complements the quota and recovery/salvage wood supply arrangements.

Economic research has established advanced manufacturing, logistics, and life sciences as the leading sectors of long-term job growth in Indianapolis. Recent performance suggests that economic and employment takeoff has not yet occurred in these areas.

State jobs in my local area are those that deal with state government. Every state has its own government and therefore hires its own workers.

Green jobs in my local area help rebuild the middle class by providing a living wage and decent working conditions. They represent a wide diversity of professions and encompass many different skill levels, but are primarily local in nature and, thus, difficult to outsource. Greenspan says that while the current personal cost in lost jobs is "wrenching" there is no credible evidence that trade will impact on employment levels in the US in the long run. He says US policy should not protect jobs in "old-line" industries but focus on retraining displaced workers.

Economists and policymakers know that the best and most enduring form of assistance developed countries and help establishing more jobs in my local area, and can give to poor nations is not in direct grants but in open markets. The global economy can be the "land flowing with milk and honey" entrusted to us all.
Author Steve Evans says that if you are looking for any jobs in my local area of any type, the way you present yourself and how well you interview will make or break your opportunity to win that job. He wants you to win your dream job so he is giving away the most amazing FREE Essential Job Winning Package including how to write your resume, interviewing skills, and much much more.
          What the Walmart VP Termination Over a Resume Teaches Us        

Yes, it teaches us not to lie on our resume, not to leave a misimpression or omission about our credentials.  But why did Walmart’s former Vice President of Communications David Tovar feel the need to demonstrate he graduated from college?  I can’t speak for him but we know the answer… it’s because he needed the degree. You need to graduate from college if you want to make a living wage working for someone else. Like most employers, Walmart will not hire you for salaried sales or management without a college degree (example).
Living wage jobs require college or training degrees.
Want a living wage? Want to be a VP someday? Finish college.
I’ve been reading Michael Ellsberg’s The Education of Millionaires: Everything You Won’t Learn in College About How to Be Successful and other anti-college writing. The common position is that people do not need a college degree, pointing to many rich, entrepreneurial people as examples (High-tech company founders, information sales people, etc). And while I found I agreed with Ellsberg on many practical things that are wrong with higher education (and he has some great networking tips), the anti-college argument ultimately fails as a good career planning approach.  

First, a college degree or postsecondary training credential is necessary for most living-wage employment in this country; the statistics about unemployment and salaries do not lie. One reason employers require a college degree or post-secondary training credential in hiring is because it’s an easy way to screen people out, to narrow the hiring pool.  So many people are looking for jobs; employers can afford to be picky. Also, minimum job qualifications like an educational degree are legally necessary in a world where equal rights laws guard against discrimination. So does it really make sense to voluntarily cut yourself off from millions of jobs?

The anti-college crowd argues that you can creatively sell yourself into a job and if that doesn’t work (that employer must be an unimaginative boob), then start your own business. Having been happily self-employed myself at one time, I get the freedom, flexibility and success that can give you.

But self-employment and entrepreneurship is not for everyone. Not everyone has a strong Enterprising Holland personality type, someone who likes to and is good at persuading, leading, and selling things or ideas. Or is an extrovert. And while I agree with Dan Pink and many others that sales skills are needed in nearly every job now, to advise young people that a college degree is unnecessary, substituting sales and marketing skills through self-employment, is a naïve oversimplification of our work world. That's as bad as saying a college degree = a high-paying job.

Self-employmentshould always be a fallback option, if not a promising option for some. Having practiced labor and employment law for 10 years, I think people should be prepared, as a matter of emotional and financial survival, to be out of a job at any time, for any reason. But being prepared also means having proof of skills and education to support a job search.

Instead of warning people away from college degrees entirely, we can start by helping people approach their college years in smarter ways – identifying majors and programs of study that match their interests and Holland personality, learning more marketing skills, seeking out experiential education programs that don’t require an unpaid internship (that only wealthier parents can afford to subsidize), and adopting a flexible, free agent approach to the world of work.

If Mr. Tovar was so good at his job (it sounds like he was, given his planned promotion), he should not have needed a degree. I believe that it’s what people do, not their credentials, that matter most. But that’s not the economy and human resources legal reality we’re in. I hope and suspect Mr. Tovar will successfully bounce back from his mistake. Tellingly, it sounds like he will start by completing his degree.
          By: M. David        
JonathanR: Please point out my red-herrings, and I will gladly retract them. There is no need for ad hominem attacks against me - it makes more heat than light. Lauda: Pope Leo XIII set out the doctrine of a just wage in 1891 with the encyclical letter Rerum Novarum (On Capital and Labor). Pope John Paul II (plus other popes since Leo XIII) have frequently repeated this call, arguing the importance of social legislation in bringing about the living wage. But heck, you don't need to read those popes to know their concern that if we love our neighbors as ourself we would never want a society of not-so-sucessful breadwinners working for wages too low (say at Wal-Mart) to raise his family, while at the same time claiming we are pro-family, pro-child, anti-birth control, and anti-abortion.
          Fast Food Workers        
With a new "living wage" announced Sheila Dillon explores the world of fast food workers. In the U.S. a campaign over low pay, started in 2012, has now gone global. Saying they could no longer live on the Federal minimum wage of $7.25 the workers called for a salary based on $15.00 an hour. The protests spread to more than 200 cities and inspired workers in other parts of the world to stand up for better pay. The campaign received the backing of President Barack Obama and cities including Seattle, San Francisco and Los Angeles have now increased the minimum wage. Sheila hears from one fast food work in New York's Bronx, Flavia Cabrell. She holds down two jobs including one at a McDonalds' restaurant and low pay led her to take action and join the protests. She explains why she's motivated by wanting to change the future for her children. Meanwhile low pay was one of the main targets in Chancellor George Osborne's summer budget. Changes to tax credits and the introduction of a "national living wage" was the outcome. But some workers say the changes will still mean they live a precarious financial existence with zero hours contracts still a dominant model in the food industry and the living wage only applicable to over 25's. Producer: Dan Saladino.
          Inequality Matters: austerity policies, gender and race [Video]        
Speaker(s): Professor Stephanie Seguino, Saphieh Ashtiany, Diane Negra | Austerity policies lead to cuts in social spending that have a potentially disproportionately negative effect on women, youth and racial or ethnic minorities. Stephanie Seguino is Professor of Economics at the University of Vermont and Professorial Research Associate at SOAS. Stephanie Seguino's research explores the impact of globalisation on income distribution and well-being, with a particular emphasis on Asian and Caribbean economies. She has been an advisor or consultant to numerous international organisations including the World Bank, United Nations Development Program, the Asian Development Bank, and US AID, and publishes regularly in a number of economic journals, including World Development, Journal of Development Studies, and Feminist Economics. Professor Seguino has also contributed her services to local and global living wage campaigns. Saphieh Ashtiany is Principal of Ashtiany Associates, visiting Professor at QMUL, Chair of the Equal Rights Trust and a non-Executive Director and Vice-Chair of the Charities Aid Foundation. Saphieh is an internationally recognised expert on employment and equality law and is ranked in the top tier of UK employment and discrimination lawyers. She currently works on complex consultancy projects for not-for-profit and institutional bodies. Diane Negra is Professor of Film Studies and Screen Culture and Head of Film Studies at University College Dublin. The co-editor of the journal Television and New Media, she is author, editor or co-editor of nine books including Off-White Hollywood: American Culture and Ethnic Female Stardom (2001), A Feminist Reader in Early Cinema (2002), Interrogating Postfeminism: Gender and the Politics of Popular Culture (2007), What A Girl Wants?: Fantasizing the Reclamation of Self in Postfeminism (2008) and Gendering the Recession: Media and Culture in an Age of Austerity (2014). A former member of the Board of Directors of the Society for Cinema and Media Studies, she serves on the Board of the Console-ing Passions International Conference on Television, Video, Audio, New Media and Feminism and with institutional partners will host the 2015 event in Dublin. Alan Manning is Professor of Economics and Director of the Community Programme at the Centre for Economic Performance (CEP) at LSE. The LSE Commission on Gender, Inequality and Power (@LSEGenderTweet) draws on LSE research and external experts to inform public and policy debates on the complex and multidimensional character of inequality and power imbalances between women and men. Credits: Tom Sturdy (Audio Post-Production), LSE AV Services (Audio Recording).
          Care Assistant        
Estio Healthcare – Currently Recruiting!Job Role: Care Assistant/Support Worker both Males and Females neededSetting: Learning Disabilities and Mental HealthRate of Pay: £8.41-£13.80Location: Oldham If you have over 6 months of paid experience and would like to work in settings such as mental health and learning disabilities why not apply with Estio Healthcare.We can offer:·         Free training·         Bonus Scheme·         Friendly office staff and out of hours team·         Continuous support and guidance ·         Competitive rates of pay·         Working in different care settings·         Experience·         Working alongside other healthcare professionalsWhat you need to apply:·         6 months of paid experience·         2 employment references, one being from your current or last care employer·         DBS check to be completed or on the subscription service·         Training to be completed·         Hard working and confident attitude·         Eligibility to work in the UKYou do not need to be a driver to apply for this role.If you meet the criteria please call 0161 804 9090 for more information or send your CV to Living Wage paid, regardless of age!
          Care assistant        
Fantastic Care opportunities available in LeedsFlexible hoursCompetitive payWork locally to YOUWe are looking for experienced care assistants and support workers in the Leeds area to join the Estio Healthcare team. Estio healthcare cover the North West, Yorkshire and the North East providing care including nursing, residential and home support. Are you passionate about providing high quality care services?Do you want to work for a company that believes in delivering the highest standard of care?Care Assistant Benefits:·         Free three day training course ·         Weekly pay·         Flexible working hours to suit you and your individual needs·         An office team who pride themselves in being supportive to each individual carer's needsWhat do we look for from you?·         Flexibility·         Punctuality·         Caring·         Polite·         Well Rounded Communication SkillsPlease note that all applicants need to be able to provide us with:·         Eligibility documents to work in the UK·         Full employment history·         A minimum of 6 months paid experience in a care settingIf you have any questions or would like to find out more about what we can offer you, please email your CV to or call 01422 300287between 9 and 5.30 Monday to FridayNational Living Wage paid, regardless of age!
          Care assistant        
Fantastic Care opportunities available in LeedsFlexible hoursCompetitive payWork locally to YOUWe are looking for experienced care assistants and support workers in the Leeds area to join the Estio Healthcare team. Estio healthcare cover the North West, Yorkshire and the North East providing care including nursing, residential and home support. Are you passionate about providing high quality care services?Do you want to work for a company that believes in delivering the highest standard of care?Care Assistant Benefits:·         Free three day training course ·         Weekly pay·         Flexible working hours to suit you and your individual needs·         An office team who pride themselves in being supportive to each individual carer's needsWhat do we look for from you?·         Flexibility·         Punctuality·         Caring·         Polite·         Well Rounded Communication SkillsPlease note that all applicants need to be able to provide us with:·         Eligibility documents to work in the UK·         Full employment history·         A minimum of 6 months paid experience in a care settingIf you have any questions or would like to find out more about what we can offer you, please email your CV to or call 01422 300287between 9 and 5.30 Monday to FridayNational Living Wage paid, regardless of age!
          Care assistant        
Fantastic Care opportunities available in LeedsFlexible hoursCompetitive payWork locally to YOUWe are looking for experienced care assistants and support workers in the Leeds area to join the Estio Healthcare team. Estio healthcare cover the North West, Yorkshire and the North East providing care including nursing, residential and home support. Are you passionate about providing high quality care services?Do you want to work for a company that believes in delivering the highest standard of care?Care Assistant Benefits:·         Free three day training course ·         Weekly pay·         Flexible working hours to suit you and your individual needs·         An office team who pride themselves in being supportive to each individual carer's needsWhat do we look for from you?·         Flexibility·         Punctuality·         Caring·         Polite·         Well Rounded Communication SkillsPlease note that all applicants need to be able to provide us with:·         Eligibility documents to work in the UK·         Full employment history·         A minimum of 6 months paid experience in a care settingIf you have any questions or would like to find out more about what we can offer you, please email your CV to or call 01422 300287between 9 and 5.30 Monday to FridayNational Living Wage paid, regardless of age!
          Care Assistant        
Estio Healthcare – Leading Care ProviderRates: £8.41 - £13.80Location:  Oldham We are currently looking for dedicated and experienced healthcare/support workers to work in fantastic care settings.Job Description:We have various shift patterns available with this client; the hours include either earlier shifts or late shifts. The right candidate will be confident in lone working, personal care, manual handling, medication and doesn’t need to be a driver. This role is open for both Males and FemalesTo apply you need:·         6 months of paid experience working in care·         DBS check to be complete or on the update service ·         2 professional work references, one being from your last or current care employer·         Training to be completed with us and passed·         Hard working·         Confident·         Professional·         Reliable If you are interested in this role please contact Beth on 0161 804 9090 or email your CV to Living Wage paid, regardless of age!
          Healthcare Assistant        
Estio Healthcare Job Position: Support WorkerSalary: £8.41 - £13.80Settings: We have a number of different settings which you can pick up shifts in such as Learning Disabilities, Mental Health, Challenging Behaviour and also work with the Elderly.Estio Healthcare currently provide staff across the Yorkshire area, North East and North West. We are looking for dedicated Support workers/Care Assistants to pick up shifts around the Oldham area.What we require:·         6 months paid experience working in care·         2 great work references one being from the last/current care employer·         Training to be successfully passed·         A full DBS check or one subscribed online·         Eligibility to work in the UKWe offer fantastic pay rates and the opportunity to work with healthcare professionals in different care settings.If you are interested in this role please call on 0161 804 9090 or send your CV to Living Wage paid, regardless of age! 
          Care Assistant        
Carers needed in the Oldham Area  Estio Healthcare is a leading healthcare agency covering across the North West, Yorkshire and the North East. We cover all of the North West, North East and Yorkshire area in a range of settings including mental health, learning disabilities, elderly and also children.  We are looking for experienced care assistants and support workers to join our fast expanding team providing high quality care to those that need it. A candidate must: 1.       Have at least 6 months paid experience2.       Be eligible to work in the UK3.       Be able to commit to a mandatory training course4.       Provide 2 references5.       Strong communication skills6.       Ability to work as part of a muti-disciplinary team7.       Willing to undertake a DBS check at the cost of £44 if a registered DBS isn’t already obtained Working for Estio Healthcare provides flexibility and choice of working hours, able to fit around other roles and commitments. We have a dedicated recruitment team always available to help with any problems, provide extra information and support to ensure we keep a strong working relationship with all of our staff.To apply for our positions please email your CV to or call 0161 804 9090 between 9 and 5.30 Monday to Friday and speak to Beth.National Living Wage paid, regardless of age!
          Healthcare Assistant        
Estio HealthcarePosition: Learning Disabilities Support Worker Location:  Oldham Salary: £8.41 - £13.80 (dependant on shift time)Are you looking for a long term flexible role that fits around your lifestyle?Estio Healthcare are looking for enthusiastic and passionate care staff  to work across the North West  in a variety of settings from Learning disabilities, complex needs, physical disabilities, mental health and elderly on a temporary shift by shift basis.                                                                                                                    It’s up to you if you work days, nights or weekends and how many hours you want to work! It can also fit around your permanent job.Main Duties Involve:Delivering and maintaining high levels of personal care to residentsDay to day activities within the servicesAssisting  and supporting clients with day to day tasks Supporting with social needs and activities Here are some of the benefits of working for Estio:Flexible working hours to suit youWorking in different environments Weekly payrollFriendly and professional consultants  To meet our criteria you will have 6 months paid previous experience working within the care sector and supporting clients. All candidates must be eligible to work in the UK and will be required to complete a DBS and provide 2 satisfactory references.If you are interested please contact Beth on 0161 804 9090 between 9 and 5.30 Monday to Friday or email your CV to Living Wage paid, regardless of age!
          Nissan dispute could go down as most vicious anti-union crusade in decades | Bernie Sanders        

Nissan’s efforts to stop workers from forming a union is an all-too-familiar story of how greedy corporations divide and conquer working people, writes Bernie Sanders

A few months before the historic March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, Dr Martin Luther King Jr wrote in his Letter from a Birmingham Jail: “We know from painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed.”

This week, thousands of courageous workers at a Nissan plant in Canton, Mississippi, are doing just that. They are voting for the right to join a union, the right to make a living wage and the right to job security and pensions. And they are doing so by connecting workers’ rights with civil rights, as the plant’s workforce is over 80% African American.

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          Lowdown Call-Up #1: Save the public post office! Featuring Mark Dimondstein, President of the APWU        
On March 24th, Hightower hosted our first ever Lowdown Call-Up-- a strategy discussion covering the slow-motion mugging of the public post office. His guest was none other than Mark Dimondstein, president of the American Postal Workers Union, and the two of them covered a ton of ground: the manufactured postal "crisis," services like postal banking to relieve underserved folks from predatory financial services, privatizing public services through Staples and retail corporations like it, and what you-- yes, you!-- can do to stop the madness. -- [This is a rough transcript, minorly edited for clarity.] Jim Hightower: Hello everyone, I'm Jim Hightower, I'm the writer and chief wrangler of the monthly muckraking populist newsletter, the Hightower Lowdown, and I welcome each and every one of you to our first ever Lowdown Call-Up. This is going to be about a 45 minute conversation, for those of you who have called up, obviously, and to listen in and ask questions, and you still can ask questions, by the way--you can do that by email at, or you can tweet us at the #PostOfficeLowdown and follow @HightowerNews. So feel free to zip in your questions. Our topic today is essentially what the hell is happening to our post offices? Cutting hours, cutting services, shutting down, selling off entire post offices, squeezing the workforce, and it's happening right now, right where you live. The topic really is, I think, the gutting of the common good--the destruction of a public asset, in this case literally delivers for the people, for the public, and all the people wherever they are. In fact, as I wrote in my newsletter a couple years ago, that they even deliver by mule to the bottom of the Grand Canyon to a tribe of Indians, Native Americans who live down there. They deliver to the most upscale neighborhoods, and to the poverty zip codes as well. This is a personal issue with me, I grew up in a little town called Denison, Texas, and our post office, my father was a small business guy there. He would go in the morning first thing to the post office to get the mail, then the last thing in the evening he would go back to the post office to deliver the mail. It was a community center for him, and for us. It connected us to the whole world. So I was personally pissed off when I learned about three years ago what the Powers That Be are doing to the post office. By the way if you want to see any of this, two issues of my newsletter, one three years ago that I did, another one this year in March, this March issue of Hightower Lowdown. Both of these are online now at if you want to get those later on to peruse. I brought along a guide today for conversation, he is a battle-tasted populist fighter for the common good. He is Mark Dimonstein, President of the American Postal Workers Union, and we are talking to him from Washington, DC. Mark, thanks for being with us. Mark Dimondstein: Jim, it's great being here, and I very much appreciate the invitation from you and joining all of your listeners today. Jim: I appreciate the good work you are doing, fighting for that common good. Mark and I are going to visit for just a few minutes here, kind of give you a lay of the land of the kind of postal crisis that we are facing, and why. Then we will go right to your questions, and then we will close with what can we all do? What can we do about this? First things first, Mark, a personal question, what made you choose to be a postal worker? Mark: Well, you know, years ago, it was being attracted to a stable job, earning a decent living, and doing something that was worthwhile at the same time. Jim: And you were, you joined the Union from the very start? Mark: Right from the very start. Jim: And you did most of your work in Greensboro, North Carolina, right? Mark: Yes, I came into the post office in Greensboro, North Carolina, and became a local union president in the American Postal Workers Union there, and that is where I retired from as well. Jim: And Mark's been hitched up would be Jobs with Justice, and all kinds of broader coalition groups as well. Mark, you became president a year and a half ago, roughly, and as I understand it you came in because a bit of a revolt among grassroots postal workers. What's up with that? Mark: Well, I think two things Jim. One is that many, many postal workers, let me back up. Postal workers are very proud of the service and the work that we do. And postal workers were having a deep, deep, deep concern that we weren't able to do our jobs. We weren't able to serve the people of this country in the way that we wanted to, that postal management was on the course of cut and slash and burn of service. So, part of it is that people wanted a union that was willing to fight back and fight with the American people to preserve a public postal service that can provide the best service for generations to come. The other piece of it is that postal workers behind this manufactured financial crisis were actually taking a beating. So there are large of percentages now of postal workers that don't have living wages, don't have decent benefits, and we've taken it on the chin. And people also wanted a union that was willing to fight back, willing to unite with the other postal unions, and willing to unite with the public. So it's a question of fighting for good public service, good postal services, and fighting to keep, maintain, and build good living wage jobs. Jim: You know, Mark, I've got to say, I read all the time that the U.S. Postal Service is broke. So, it's good timing on your part, of course, to become a union president in a failing business. What about that? Mark: Well, Jim, the postal service is facing a manufactured crisis, manufactured by Congress in 2006, and the foundation there is simply this: Congress voted that the post office had to pay $5.5 billion a year for ten years, every year, to pre-fund retiree healthcare costs, healthcare liability 75 years into the future--which means they were being forced to pay for postal workers that aren't even born yet, no less work at the postal service. So, what happened... Jim: Do other agencies, Mark, have to do that or other businesses? Mark: No, no other agency, no other business, none of them could ever survive, and it's being used to choke the post office and then do what you raised about this idea out there that it's broke -- hey, they lost another $5 billion. It's broke! Well, it's $5 billion on paper, it's $5 billion that's being raided from the treasury of the post office -- which has no taxpayer money, it's all created by user money -- taken over to the Federal Treasury. So, it's actually theft. It's a transfer of wealth, and that is being used to choke the post office, and tell the people of the country: "look, this isn't any good. We have to close post offices, and we have to diminish service." That's the wrong way to go. Jim: $5 billion a year, that's a pretty big hickey. Mark: Big, big. And Jim, on the operation side, the post office is making money if it were not for this pre-funding hoax. Take out the $5 billion, the post office made $1.4 billion just in the last quarter, another $1.4 last year, and of course the post office isn't there to make money per se, anyway. It's there to provide a service to the people of this country. Jim: Well, I was going to ask you about that because, you know, we don't ask the Pentagon to make a profit. We don't ask the spy agency to make a profit. We don't ask any other agency to make a profit, do we? Mark: No, not that I know. But, again, this law in 2006 has really put the postal service on a path where they're not only being choked, but they're turning it into more and more of a business/corporate model, rather than a public service model. Jim: And they did that in 2006. Let's see, Bush was President then. Wasn't that sort of a sneak attack? I mean, I really don't recall hearing anything about it at the time. Mark: It was a sneak attack in the sense that it was done on the last day of the lame duck session of 2006, but I think it's important for the people to know on this phone call that it was a bipartisan vote. So, both major political parties voted to do this, and both have had a chance to fix it many times, and still should fix it because they really created this problem. Jim: Well, I want to get to that a little later about, you know, why isn't Obama doing more about this? But you know, Mark, some people say we need a third party but I wish we had a second one, one that would stand up for the interests of regular people and the common good in our country. So, again, you folks tuning in, you are part of our Lowdown Call-Up today. So, what's your feeling about the post office? Join the conversation, you can ask your questions today by email, which would be:, or you can tweet us at #PostOfficeLowdown and follow @HightowerNews. Mark, let's take a couple of questions here. I think I'll kick off with this one which is from Sharon who says, "Will the Postal Workers Union be working with community groups to stop the sale of our beautiful, historic downtown post office?" I hear this all across the country as I travel, Mark. They say: did you know they're tearing down or they're selling off or they're shutting down this historic post office that's got beautiful murals in it, and etc. What's the extent of that? Mark: Well, that again ties back to the choking of the postal service. So, one of the things that they've started to do behind this 2006 law and the transfer of wealth is say, okay, let's sell the property so we have some money. And, of course, they wouldn't be selling the properties if they weren't closing post offices, which they shouldn't be doing, and then within these properties -- your caller is right -- there's a lot of artwork that belongs to the people of the country, a lot of historic buildings that belong to the people of the country. And at the time the post office was taxpayer funded -- no more -- but at the time, the post office was so those buildings really do belong lock, stock, and barrel to the people of the country. We don't believe the post office has a right to even sell those buildings. So, the American Postal Workers Union and the other postal unions are very supportive of those fighting the sale of post offices. One last little twist is the real estate company that's been hired to sell the post office is none other than the giant CBRE, and they have been exposed for a corrupt relationship with the postal service because they get money both on the selling end and the buying end. They're representing both the seller and the buyer. Jim: Related to that, let me ask, who is Richard Blum? Mark: Richard Blum is the wife of -- I'm sorry -- [laughs] Jim: The husband. Mark: The husband of Dianne Feinstein, the senator from California, so that's an incestuous problem right there. Jim: And this outfit that you just mentioned, that's making money on both the buying and the selling of the post offices, he heads that. Mark: That's right. He heads that part of the business. Jim: And I know that there have been big fights all across the country, like from up in Brooklyn, all the way out in Berkeley, California, huge fights of local people coming together, in a pretty good coalitions, you know, historical preservation people teaming up with environmentalists. Mark: Right. Jim: And just regular folks, to battle this. And we won a number of those fights. That's good news, isn't it? That people themselves value these post offices enough to stand up, when they realize what's going on? Mark: Absolutely. There's encampments going on in front of the Berkeley post office, we support the national postal collaborative, that is fighting these battles. And of course, if I can take it one step further, Jim, the question of reaching out to the public, and reaching out to these alliances goes beyond the question of saving these buildings--it goes to the very essence of saving the entire public postal service. Jim: Isn't that amazing that we have to say the word public post offices? Mark: Right. Jim: Because they're trying to privatize them. And tell us just real quickly a little bit about this thing with Staples. Mark: Well, Staples is an example of the way that postal management is trying to privatize piece-by-piece, and just as a framework. The post office takes in about sixty-eight billion dollars of revenue--no tax money again--but of revenue. And those Wall Streeters want their hands on that money. They want to be able to make profit. So, piece-by-piece postal management has been playing along with that, right? And they've, and one of the things they've done is they have a retail partnership with Staples and other retailers. And what that retail partnership means, is that they start moving postal services out of the infrastructure, out of what belongs to the people, and away from good living-wage jobs into the private sector, into retail places that may come and go, and places where workers are not making living wages, and we believe all workers should make living wages. And, of course it also takes the mail into an area where the privacy, the security of the mail is also at risk. So, this is a question of how, you know, private companies and corporations can profit off the public good and, then it undermines the public good, because the more retail services where people buy stamps, bring their packages, and so on, to send, get put into the private sector, the more risk the neighborhood, public post offices are to be closed, or to have their hours cut back. My neighborhood post office in Greensboro, I went one day a couple years back, used to be open to 5:30 PM, used to be open Saturday, go there the doors are shut at 4 PM in the afternoon. Many of your listeners have probably had the same problem. 4 PM, just when a lot of people are getting off from work, and need to go take care of their postal business. And, when I complained they said, well, you can go down the street to an Office Depot a mile and a half down the street. Well, Office Depot is not the post office. And these post offices need to be kept open longer, kept open on the weekends, and be there to serve the people, which is the mission of the post office. Jim: Well, you know, Lily Tomlin said, "No matter how cynical you get, it's almost impossible to keep up." And these days, I mean, it's just because, another point about the Staples post office, is that those are not postal worker jobs, right? Your team is paid a living wage, a middle class wage. Mark: That's right. Jim: These are gonna be Staples low-wage, even minimum-wage level employee. Mark: Right. And so we have asked our friends and allies all over the country to boycott Staples, take their business elsewhere, and send the message to Staples management that they need to get out of the postal business and do what they do. If they want to sell office supplies, we got no beef with that. Jim: Let's take another question here, this fellow named Baruch, who says, "This is a free country and if Mr. X wants to live in the middle of nowhere, he should be allowed to do so. But does it follow that the average taxpayer should pay higher taxes to support a post office in the middle of nowhere?" What do you say about that? Mark: No taxes go to support the post office, at all. Jim: Right. Mark: And if we lose that foundation, then we lose the post office. The post office has to, and should have to, deliver to every address in this country, including the person who's living as, as your listener called it, "the middle of nowhere." That's part of the beauty of the post office. And to go to the middle of nowhere, costs the same forty-nine cent stamp that it does to go from one end of town to the other. But that's what makes the system work. As soon as we get into a privatization profit model, then it may cost five dollars to send that letter, or maybe the letter doesn't go at all, to the middle of nowhere. And so, just the opposite is the case. It runs without tax dollars, but it's there for everybody, a hundred and fifty three million addresses every day, in this country. Jim: You know, that's little known that these are not taxpayer dollars. Mark: That's right. Jim: So if Baruch, it's understandable that Baruch was confused on that because the media has not been reporting that, and it's just not out there much. I mean, when I talk about the post office, with an individual who could just in conversation, or in a speech, I just point out the miracle, the marvel of, what else can you get for forty-nine cents in America today? And not only can you send it clear across country, that piece of mail, but if you write down the wrong address, they'll bring it back to you, for forty-nine cents. Mark: And Jim, if you're one of the thirty-four million, people that move every year, the post office will, will forward your mail. Without any extra cost. So, people can be mobile, and still have that democratic right to communicate, with whomever they wish, wherever they go. Jim: Well, we have another question coming in here, that just came in by email, and it's, it's one that gets to a point you were hinting at there, which is new businesses. This is an email from a guy named Ralph, in Washington, DC, I think I know that Ralph. I believe that would be Ralph Nader, in fact, is inquiring, and he says directly to you Mark, he says how about the USPS, postal service, establishing a postal bank. What in the world is that? Mark: Well, a postal bank or some form of postal banking, would be the post office taking on the providing of financial services, to the people of this country. And, that's a very good question from Ralph, and it's a very exciting prospect. You, we have a huge social problem out here. Where sixty-eight million adults don't have access to any kind of banking. Thirty-eight percent of the zip codes in this country have no bank. And that's gonna get worse, as neighborhood banks close. Jim: Right. Mark: So there, there are tons and tons, millions and millions of people that get locked into this, what they call this alternative financial system--which we call, predatory lending, legal loansharking, which is the payday loan setup, the check cashing, so on. And so the post office is well-situated, and has in the past, and still does in many many countries of the world today, provide some form of basic postal banking. In a trusting environment, well-trained, accountable, postal clerks, and where people are not getting ripped off. And so what it does, is it provides a great social need, helps bind the nation together in new ways, which is the mission of the postal service, and also brings in needed revenue. So this is something the post office ought to be jumping up, jumping up and down about, we have all of those post offices where the banks aren't, and, rather than close post offices, close processing plants, shutter hundreds of thousands of good living-wage jobs, which then impacts the rest of our neighborhood, they, they ought to be taking on these kind of fights. And provide this kind of service. So we are pushing very hard on that, and the, and we are not alone, there are many, many people throughout this country that for decades have been fighting against the predatory lenders, and this is a way to bring that movement to one powerful river and say, this is, this is an alternative. The post office already belongs to us, let's make sure we have some kind of public option, to the banking, what many of us call the too big to fail, banking system. We do have a campaign called, and a part of it, a campaign for postal banking, that's ongoing, and, and we're gonna be fighting hard on this issue. Jim: And I think there's a bit of congressional support already for that, I believe Bernie Sanders has a bill, among others, do, to push this idea. But aren't there, aren't there other things? First let me just note that, not only have, in the past, the postal service had postal banks, until the mid-Sixties I think it was. Mark: That's right. Jim: For about fifty years. But also, you do the mail orders, today, don't you? Mark: Yep. Jim: The banking ability is already built into the, not only do we have the infrastructure of the buildings and, and the people, but you've got the, the financial experience already in place, and that would just be added to. Again, another public service within a public post office. Now, what, what else could be done? What other kind of business could a post office do? Mark: Well, we, we believe there is a lot businesses in this digital internet age that, that can be done. There's a lot of people that don't have access to the internet where the post office could possibly provide that. There's a lot of notary, there's a lot of licensing, where people could do one stop shopping at the post office with many of these needs. But those, those in the private sector that want to get pieces of the post office and, and turn it into a profit making operation, don't want the post office to do these expanded services because it makes a more robust Postal service. And they, as, as we talked about earlier. Their goal is to choke it, to undermine it, they see it's not working, give it to the private sector. Jim: Let's get on to what we can do about this. Here's a caller, e-mail, from Douglas in Florida who says, "What can citizens do to help the union? I want a union decal on my mailbox." Now that's not a bad idea. I'd like one too. Mark: That, that's an interesting idea. We may have to get those, to work on that. That, that is the sixty four dollar question, because, without the people being involved and saying this is our post office and we're going to keep it, we may not have a post office. On the other hand, certainly the public needs to know how they can help. So there, there are probably a number of ways. The decal idea is a good one and we ought to all look into that. We have a, there's a, for those that are on, that either have a small business, or know people who do, have access to their libraries like we all do, centers and so on and so forth. We have a small poster that can be ordered right off of the web site of our union, it's We're asking people to put that up everywhere. Kind of like the idea with the decal on the mailbox, this is a little poster that can go on bulletin boards, windows and so on. We are asking folks to support a house resolution, number fifty four, which calls for the restoration of service standards. Service standards are how long it takes to get mail from point A to point B. The post office in this cut and burn, slash mentality, ended overnight delivery of all first class and periodical mail back in January. Most of you on this call have probably seen your own mail slowed down. That is the wrong direction. Not only letters, but it is slowing down everything else from orders over the internet to medicines, to bill payment and so on. So, if people could contact their representatives on house resolution fifty four, that would help. There's also a website called Jim: I'm a part of that. Mark: Right, the Hightower Lowdown's a part of it. The APWU is part of it. There's about seventy plus national organizations, from the environmental, from civil rights, from labor, from farmer, from faith-based, that have joined together to say, "Look, this is our post office and we're going to make sure it stays our post office." There's a website there that people can pledge to, to help and there's a lot of good information that's both on there and will be on there as time goes on. So that's, and sign the pledge. We're also asking for your stories, through the Grand Alliance website, or write to the APWU, because we think that what the post office means to all of us, those stories need to be told. So one thing that everyone can do as well to help change the dynamic in this country, take it away from the Wall Streeters and put it back in the hands of the people in relation to the post office, is to watch the Danny Glover video, which you can get on either one of these web sites. You can also Google it, go onto YouTube. And the reason I'm raising it, is cuz that is his story, and we all have stories. And his story is that his parents worked for the post office. His brother and sister worked for the post office. He knew what it meant to his family, to his community and to the public good. So, the more stories we can tell like that and the more stories we get out, the more dynamic our fight will be to save the public post office. Also the Grand Alliance, A Grand Alliance has a Facebook page and I would encourage everyone to go on that Facebook page as well. And one last thing, and Jim Hightowers the one that's constantly raising this, as well as some others. Get to our city councils. Get to our mayors. Get those resolutions passed in general about what the post office means to our towns, to our cities, to our neighborhoods--and not just where post offices are closing. That's very important too, but in general to make sure that we're standing with a public post office capable of serving the people, the country and making sure it's here for generations going forward. Jim: Exactly. Mark: So those are some thoughts, and your listeners probably have some other good ideas. Jim: A number of the questions coming in say specifically, "What can we do? What can we do?" Well, the answer really is saving the post office is like democracy itself. It's a do-it-yourself project. Yes, we have great resources like the American Postal Workers Union and the Grand Alliance website. We have similar efforts along those lines, but you can do it yourself. Form your own coalition where you live. Get together with the postal workers local union there, but bring in some of the farmers. Rural people care a whole lot about the post office, because it's a lifeline for them more than it is for even regular folks. But then you can team up with some local unions, with environmentalists, with your city council members, your state legislators, etc., etc. And hold your own press conferences and say: do you know what they're trying to do to the post office? So, we can spread this information ourselves. We've got to get the information first but then we can do that. A couple of questions have come in that are very similar. Kai from The Nation magazine-- I know Kai Wright! Glad to hear from him--is asking about the work that Staples is doing to lobby in Congress to turn the screws on the post office. So, who are the culprits? We had another email asking exactly that. Who are the funders and the leaders of the post office killers, and who funds their lobbying efforts? Give us a little bit on that. Who are the bastards in this case? Mark: [Laughs] Well, there's certainly a lot of large mailers who mail millions and millions of people. You know, magazine mailers, and I'm not saying they're the enemy on every front because they also need a post office with a good infrastructure. But basically, what they watch out for is the interest of the big corporate mailers, and that is often opposed to the interest of the individual mailers that are on this phone call, and make up the millions and millions and millions of people. So, what's happened is that over the years, they have lobbied for what are called "pre-sort discounts," which is really a form of corporate welfare. That, too, is draining the post office, and they themselves then sort a lot of the mail, make a lot of profit, and that is a form of privatization right there. You also have some of the culprits out there that don't believe any workers should have unions. You can go from the Koch brothers down, and ALEC, and so on and so forth -- don't believe postal workers or anyone else should have collective bargaining rights to be able to uplift the wages, benefits, and rights of postal workers. And so, you have those in Congress, for instance, Congressman Issa was a good example of this. Jim: Darrell Issa, yeah, out of California. Mark: Right? When he was the head of the committee that dealt with postal issues, he constantly fought for things that would diminish the rights of people. And some of these forces have openly raised that the post office should be turned over to the private sector. Others raise, are constantly raising that there shouldn't be six-day mail delivery; it should be five-day, four-day, maybe three-day. There shouldn't be home-to-home delivery, door-to-door delivery, so the idea of making people walk somewhere even if they're elderly, even if it's the middle of the winter in order to get their basic mail rights. You have the American Enterprise Institute. You have the Cato Institute. The Cato Institute is the main institute, and the Koch brothers fund it. That over the years... Jim: Created it, even. Mark: Over the years, they've put forth these constant, you know, white papers, studies, and all that, that the post office should be privatized. So, it's many of the usual suspects. I generally will call them, basically, Wall Street, you know? And then, of course, you have the question of UPS, DHL, FedEx who want more and more of this work that's in the public domain pushed into the private side. Jim: One of the things you were just mentioning there brings up the question about the Board of Governors--the so-called Board of Directors of the U.S. Postal Service--and there's an opportunity for us to put some people on that, for Barack Obama to put some people on that who would side with the people against these privatizer, profiteering interests. But as I understand it, Mark, we don't have a quorum on the Board of Governors anymore. Mark: Right. We had a quorum up until December of last year, 2014, but even with that quorum, Jim, it was six years into a Democratic Party administration. The truth is, we had four Board of Governors from the previous Bush Republican administration. Something wrong with that picture, and the nominees that have been coming out of the White House have not been friends of a strong, vibrant public postal service, for the most part. Jim: To the contrary, I know that one guy was suggested by the White House who is a lobbyist out in New Mexico for the predatory lending companies. Mark: Mickey Barnett is that person Jim? He was actually the chair of the Board of Governors, and we were able to help block his reappointment, and that's why there's not a quorum right now. You also have James Miller who has been nominated. James Miller is an open advocate of a privatized Postal Service. These are nominees that we're very opposed to and any pressure people can put on--we're doing it up here to get some good community based people. People like Hightower on to the Board of Governors, that are going to be advocates and fighters for the public Postal Service and the Board of Governors set policy and their policy has been slash, cut and burn. We need people up there that have a policy first as a public service and second is all sorts of room to grow, expand and even do better. And you know in this period of e-commerce, we, we have a saying Jim for those people that say, "Ah, we don't need a Post Office anymore, the young people don't put stamps on their bills, and all of this stuff, and it's a thing of the past in this internet era." We have a saying, "the Internet taketh and the internet giveth," so yes first class mail is down some, but guess what, e-commerce has caused an explosion in package delivery. So, my children don't use the Post Office like I do, but they use it all the time, they just use it differently. And if e-commerce is going to fly and is gonna continue to grow, all the more reason to have this public infrastructure as a foundation. Jim: So you're saying that the Post Office is growing in this business of delivering packages? Mark: Absolutely, and the Post Office is as relevant as ever. Jim: So that's one reason that the post Office itself is actually making money? Mark: On the operations side, yes, the Post Office is making money. Jim: Here's a great comment from Felicia. She says, "A lot of people in the middle of nowhere are seniors, getting prescription drugs by mail, or they're small businesses who rely on US Postal Service for their business functioning." And I found that, I went down to Valentine, Texas, which is hard to get to, by the way. It's down deep along the Rio Grande, the US/Mexican border. It's a little town, about 270 people, but they have a vibrant Post Office there, because people from all over the world send their valentines, each year, in packages. They package them up and send them to the Post Office there, because they can get a stamp of "Valentine Texas, the Love Station," on the outside of their Valentine envelopes and there's one Postal, there's a Postmaster there, a women who's been there 23 years, I think it is, and every February she hand stamps more than forty thousand of these valentines. And that's again, for forty nine cents, that's what you get, that kind of service. So the Postal Service put them on the closing list and there was quite a rebellion in Valentine. A guy came down there from the Postal Service, the management side, and said, "well, you know, it's gonna be all right, cuz after all you can go to Marfa, it's just thirty six miles away, you can get your mail over there." Well people weren't too hot about that, but they were more hot about that they were going to lose their community center. That's what these places become, Post Offices are in these small towns, is a place for people to actually get together. They've got a very active bulletin board there where all kinds of messages are exchanged, not just the FBI top ten wanted criminals in the country, but actually community news being put up there. So people rebelled against it and the good news is, that at least for the meantime, they forced the, what I call the bastards and the BSers to back off, and so Valentine's still has its Post Office, though with reduced hours, as you indicated. But this kind of effort. Steve has called in too, or e-mailed in saying, "Since rural Post Offices are in jeopardy, all across the country, can we see a transpartisan political alliance that would be possible here?" What do you think of that? Mark: I actually think it, it is possible. We, we are appealing to all sides in Congress. That this, this should not be a partisan issue. That from rural America to inner-city America to everywhere in between. People need the post office. Generally, people love having the post office, for many of the reasons you have stated Jim and so we're appealing to everybody to put whatever other partisan issues there might be and that this is a question of service, public service and, and it's a question of being able to fulfill the wonderful mission of the post office, so it's truly, truly non-partisan. Should be and truly is. So I think your caller has a good point, and when people go talk to their congress people, they should talk to everybody and shouldn't make any assumptions. Because somebody might be, feel strongly one way or the other on other issues, that on this issue people are not going to be able to unite for the common good. Obviously the privetizers aren't going to. People like Darrell Issa aren't going to, but that doesn't necessarily represent how the majority will react and feel. Jim: Well, here's another good suggestion comes in, Donald, it says, "How about putting a petition on the website, that posts issues right inside the White House. A petition to save the US Postal service." Our public post offices. He suggests you could easily get the one hundred thousand signatures needed to get Obama to address the issue. That's the rule there, you get a petition signed by a hundred thousand people then Obama will respond to it. So I think that's a very, very good idea. Why don't we put a petition up there, and it gives people something to do. You said, talk to your member of congress, by the way, you don't have to go to Washington to do that. Those Congress critters live right in your city, in your area, they have an office and you can go see them there. But here is a chance to buzz the White House with a little bit of pressure. Mark: Yeah, Jim, that sounds like something that, should be thought about. I want to encourage the person that asked that question to send an e-mail into the Grand Alliance. There's a way to contact them. That Grand Alliance of seventy plus groups, has a working, coordinating committee and that's something that they could weigh and possibly take up, so that's a good thought and please send it on. Jim: One more thing here and then we're about to close it out. I just want to reiterate this. Bruce is the guy that sent this in, saying it is the essential question and it's one we addressed earlier, but he's asking, "Is there any money going from the Federal government to the Postal Service, even off the books?" Mark: No. It's actually the opposite that's happening, that shouldn't be happening. The postal service funds, which are created by the users, is being raided and ripped off by the Federal treasury and they are milking the cow to make the Federal Treasury books look better, so the answer to that question is no. It runs by the users, and it runs on it's own. And ,if left to it's on devices, without the interference of the privatizers, the post office could and will be that much more vibrant and on and on and on, generations forward. Jim: Yeah, I think if we don't convey any other firm message today, lets spread that fact around, to counter the myth that the taxpayers are being ripped off by the post office. The taxpayers are being well served. Mark: That's right. Jim: By the way, I want to mention, the Grand Alliance to save our public post offices is also on Twitter and on Facebook. So, and again, one thing they definitely want is your stories from all across the country, of how you feel about the post office. What has the post office meant to you? Those personal stories. The social and cultural references mean more than political facts do. They tell a story and they reach people in a different way, so please go there and connect with it. And continue to stay tuned with the, because we will have this conversation today available. If you want to hear it again, or you want to download it and spread it around, please feel free to do that. And get information from the Grand Alliance that you can spread in your neighborhood, or in your groups, in your bars. (That's where I get most of my information.) In your coffee clutches, in your churches, in your union halls, you know, just everywhere. We have to be a sort of, Thomas Payne pamphleteers on this issue. You can go to and there all that stuff will be. Mark, I appreciate you taking time. But more importantly, I appreciate the great fight that you're putting up. Very useful information here and we will stay stuck together and fighting back against the bastards and BSers. Thank you. Mark: Jim, thank you very much and thank you for all the great work you do in defense of the public good. Whether it's fighting Fast Track and the TPP or fighting to defend the public Postal Service. So we are happy to be working with the Lowdown and those other members of the Grand Alliance. Jim: I'm glad you mentioned that, that thing about the TPP and the other fights you're in, because Mark Dimondstein believes that we have to have a movement in this country to battle. To be able to win against the corporatizers. That we got to, that only movements move Congress, letters to Congress are one thing, but they're not going to make any big difference. Lobbying is important, but it's not going to make a big difference either, because that's the money power. They fight inside. We've gotta come from the outside and that means building this movement with veterans and rural communities, churches, seniors. All sorts of unions and labor. The, all the allies that we can find, as Mark indicates. Not only bi-partisan, but trans-partisan. Every party in here. We now have some independent members of Congress, a couple of them, they gotta be included in this as well, so we can unite together. Then I think we can get something done and I think this is a kind of issue that reaches across all those lines, ideological lines and the BS that Washington deals with so much. So we can raise common sense to high places, I think. So thank you again Mark and thank you to all of the folks who called in on our Lowdown Call-Up today. Let us know what you think about that too. You can communicate that information through the web site. And we're considering maybe making this a quasi regular conversation, if you're up for that, let us know. Thank you a lot for tuning in today, bye bye.

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          The Information University        
Marc Bousquet

Class struggle is basic to the capitalist mode of production in the region of “mental” labor, just as it is to be found in the realm of physical production. It is basic not because it is a sign of the special quality of mental labor, but because it is simply labor.
-George Caffentzis, “Why Machines Cannot Create Value”

In this essay, I want to explore what can be called the informatics of U.S. higher education - the managerial logic through which university administrators have transformed the academic workplace on the model of information, so that education (and the labor providing it) is increasingly “delivered” as data, flowing in a bitstream highly responsive to managerial direction. As David Noble, Randy Martin, Gary Rhoades and others have observed, the new realities of managed education strongly correspond to the better-understood realities of managed care. The structural correspondences between the health maintenance organization (HMO) and the managed university (whose ideal form is the for-profit EMO) can be elaborated in many registers: both education and health have been increasingly “marketized,” transformed into sites of unprecedented capital accumulation by way of the commodification of activities and relationships, the selling-off and spinning-off of public assets and activities into private hands, the introduction of market behaviors (such as competition for resources and profit-seeking) into professional cultures, the unapologetic delivery of degraded service or even denial of service to the vast majority of the working class, and the installation of corporate-managerial strata to direct professional labor toward this neoliberal agenda. Not all readers will be aware that the term “EMO” is already in use on Wall Street, describing for-profit education vendors such as Sylvan and Phoenix. This usage does not discriminate between higher, secondary, and vocational education, so long as the organizational structure enables investors to collect profits from student fees, licensing, teacher work, and so forth. In this essay I prefer the term Randy Martin’s term “managed university,” which characterizes the subordination of higher education more generally to an administrative class aggressively pursuing the “corporate ideal” (Barrow). The non-profit university cannot directly transfer wealth to investors in the form of profit, but the “education organization” managed on the corporate ideal can and does accumulate wealth in the form of buildings, grounds, books, endowments, and the like. This is to say that Wall Street’s designation EMO describes an education organization managed for profit; the “managed university” describes higher education institutions managed for accumulation more generally. Many readers may be willing to grant that distinguishing between profit-taking and accumulation is in this context a distinction that makes very little difference, as the president of the University of Florida indicated when he confessed, “We have taken the great leap forward and said: `Let’s pretend we’re a corporation.’” (Steck & Zweig 297).

There are, however, interesting differences in the social reception of managed health care and the managed university. First, there is a striking contrast in the overall affect displayed toward these transformations: the HMO is universally reviled, while “student satisfaction” with management-dominated higher education has never been higher, at least according to corporate-university surveys. According to these sources, students in all institution categories are overwhelmingly satisfied with the learning dimensions of their college experience, in many cases reserving their complaints for the quality of food and availability of parking. See for example the “1999 National Student Satisfaction Report,” conducted by Noel-Levitz, a higher education consulting firm and subsidiary of the USA Group, the major education lender (which in 2000 merged with Sallie Mae). The report claims to reflect survey data from over half a million students at nearly 900 institutions. The survey is evidently based on the firm’s trademarked “Student Satisfaction Inventory,” which is primarily used by client educators to “assess client [student] satisfaction,” and is not offered here as an authentic record of the student voice. Nonetheless it is clearly an instrument that serves as the authentic record of student voice or “demand” for at least some university administrators, who have been investing heavily in the “parking, food and comfortable living quarters” that Noel-Levitz claims are the top issues for students, while continuing to divert funding from instructional labor, an area in which Noel-Levitz reports continuing high levels of “client satisfaction.” Second, the transformations in higher education are widely perceived as technology-driven. Much of even the most-informed and committed discourse in the field is obsessively focused on information technology as the engine of change. This leads to the likely-mistaken concern that the “real issue” with the management revolution in higher education is that all campus-bound activities will be vacated in the metastatic spread of distance education - as in Noble’s widely-known formulation of “digital diploma mills” producing the “automation of higher education.”

It is important that these two differences in the social reception of the managed university push toward partly conflicting conclusions. On the one hand, the concern with technology represents the faculty’s idea that students are willing to accept a disembodied educational experience in a future virtual university of informatic instruction. On the other hand, the student concerns are overwhelmingly attentive to the embodied character of their experience - where to park, what to eat, and so on. Why do the faculty envision students willing to give up the embodied experience of the campus, when the students are in fact increasingly attentive to embodied experience? Campus administrators continue to build new stadiums, restaurants, fitness facilities, media rooms, libraries, laboratories, gardens, dormitories and hotels: are these huge new building projects, funded by thirty years of faculty downsizing, really about to be turned into ghost towns? In my view, the claim that (future) students will generally accept a disembodied education experience is at least a partial displacement of the underlying recognition, not that future students will accept an “education experience divorced from the body,” but the extent to which present students have already accepted an embodied experience divorced from “education.” While the dystopic image of distance education captures the central strategy of the information university (substituting information delivery for education), that dystopia erroneously maps the strategy onto the future, as if informationalization were something “about to happen” that could be headed off at the pass, if we just cut all the fiber-optic cables.

What does it mean for students and teachers that informationalization has already happened? It means that we have met the Info. U., and it is us - not some future disembodiment, but a fully-lived present reality already experienced in the muscular rhythm of everyday life.

Understanding the information university as an accomplished fact means understanding that we’ve already done a pretty good job of translating education into information delivery over the past 30 years, and further understanding that this substitution has been accomplished by transformation of the academic workplace rather than by stringing optic cable.

Informationalization without Information Technology?

“I am very troubled by it,” said Tom Hanks. “But it’s coming down, man. It’s going to happen. And I’m not sure what actors can do about it.” The spectre of the digital actor - a kind of cyberslave who does the producer’s bidding without a whimper or salary - has been a figure of terror for the last few years in Hollywood, as early technical experiments proved that it was at least possible to create a computer image that could plausibly replace a human being.
- “Movie Stars Fear Inroads by Upstart Digital Actors,” Rick Lyman, The New York Times, July 8, 2001

The text that in some ways strikes nearest and in other ways less close to this understanding is the well-known series of articles drafted by David Noble in the late 1990s (subsequently revised and released as a monograph by Monthly Review Press, November 2001). Taking Noble’s work in the Digital Diploma series as a starting point is helpful not only because it has been widely disseminated across the World Wide Web, but also because the analysis originates in the actual workplace struggle of faculty in California and Canada, and because it maps the area of starkest contrast in the technology conversation: at the bargaining table, with the tenure-stream faculty mostly “against technology” and the administration mostly “for technology.” This conflict is at least partially chimerical: the faculty and the administration aren’t primarily struggling over technology, but rather what they think “it” will do - something they agree on, and regarding which they’re quite possibly both wrong. The faculty and administration are fighting over what is essentially a shared vision, a vision of a future “created by” information technology, of a fully downloadable and teacherless education (at least for some people). The material base of this shared vision is a real struggle over the elimination of the jobs of teachers and scholars: the administration seeks to employ ever fewer teachers and scholars, and the tenured faculty seeks to preserve their own jobs and even occasionally exerts themselves to preserve a handful of positions for a future professoriate. (The recent CSU contract, through which the California Faculty Association compelled the administration to raise tenure-track hiring by 20% annually over the life of the contract in exchange for concessions in their cost of living adjustment is an eye-opening, and heartening, exception to the rule.) Technology fuels an enormous fantasy on both sides of this fence. On the administration side, it drives an academic-capitalist fantasy of unlimited accumulation, dollars for credits nearly unmediated by faculty labor - as Noble says, an “automated” wealth creation. The professoriate has its own equally fantastic idea, that they are preserving teacher work by taking a stand “against technology.”

The shared vision of a fully-downloadable education creates the scene of a pseudo-struggle, with the depressing consequence that it drains off the energies seeking to preserve the dignity of academic work. Noble himself acknowledges that the struggle over technology is a surface conflict (“a vehicle and disarming disguise”); beneath the technological transformation, “and camouflaged by it” is the major transformation represented by the commodification of higher education. Noble narrates the commodification process as a two-stage affair: phase one begins about 1980 with the commodification of research (“the systematic conversion of intellectual activity into intellectual capital and, hence, intellectual property”), converting the university into a purveyor in the commercial marketplace of the products of mental labor. Phase two as he tells it (and this is the chief point at which I vary with his analysis) is what he describes as the more recent corresponding corporate colonization of teaching, the “commoditization of the education function of the university.” Throughout the body of the essay I am quoting from the widely-available online versions of Noble’s essays (I use the authoritative versions housed on the UCSD server; see citations below), on the theory that these versions will continue to be more widely circulated than the short hardbound volume from Monthly Review press. Nonetheless, some readers will find citations to the monograph helpful. The claims regarding the “second phase” of education commodification are found on pp 26-27, and elaborated in the introduction (x), and page 37: “For most of the last two decades this transformation has centered upon the research function of the universities. But it has now [!] shifted to the instructional function.” In his extremely persuasive discussion of the relationship between correpondence schools at the turn of the last century and distance education, Noble associates the correspondence movement with the emegence of a “casualized workforce of `readers’ who worked part-time and were paid on a piece-work basis per lesson or exam (roughly twenty cents per lesson in the 1920s). Many firms preferred `sub-professional’ personnel, particularly untrained older women, for routine grading. These people often worked under sweatshop conditions, having to deliver a high volume of lessons in order to make a living, and were unable therefore to manage more than a perfunctory pedagogical performance.” (9) My quarrel is obviously not with Noble’s historical observation here, or with his claim that more distance education will mean more deskilling of this kind, but with his exclusive association of commodification and deskilling with technology. The university already has an established preference for a gendered and `sub-professional’ work force apart from distance education or any potential future expansion of it. The massive casualized work force already established in the managed university seems to me to call for additional analysis in the vein of Harry Braverman’s work (in which office technology is seen as called forth to serve already-existing transformations in the management of office labor). That is: must we not see the technologization represented by online learning as at least partially the result of a rationalized (“scientifically managed”), casualized and deskilled work force, rather than its “cause”? Several useful insights flow out of the commodification heuristic as applied by Noble, including the understanding that universities are increasingly in open partnership with software, hardware and courseware vendors in the conversion of student learning activity into a profit center, and that - in an area also importantly discussed by Stanley Aronowitz and Dan Schiller - this partnership extends beyond the education vendors into the corporate world more generally, with the university eager to provide corporate training and retraining services (“lifelong learning”), an activity for which the rubric of “higher education” serves largely as a kind of academic-capitalist’s flag of convenience. In a scathing indictment of the growing “mission differentation” of postsecondary institutions (providing tiered learning horizons corresponding closely to the class fractions of their constitutencies), Stanley Aronowitz argues that most college students receive “higher training” and not higher learning and that overall “there is little that would qualify as higher learning in the United States” (2000: 157-172).

The primary way in which Noble makes use of the “commodification of teaching” heuristic is to relate faculty labor to “the historic plight of other skilled workers” for whom technological change provides a vector through which management can impose reductions in workplace autonomy and control - so that for academic administration the ultimate goal of technological deployment is to “discipline, deskill and displace” the skilled faculty workforce, just as in any other labor circumstance. (This is a point that Gary Rhoades has also made quite well.) For the most part, again, this approach is enormously helpful (to a real extent because it generates an accurate description of administrative intentions regarding technology). Furthermore, because - as Harry Braverman and the Italian autonomists have been at pains to demonstrate - mental labor is in fact labor (despite the folk-academic sense of exceptionalism), Noble’s series of observations paralleling skilled academic work with other forms of skilled work largely ring true. It’s worth underscoring that my divergence from Noble is overall nonetheless primarily one of emphasis: he focuses on distance education, technologization, and the tenure stream, and I focus on casualization and the work of students and other contingent labor. Far more important than any differences, however, is the wide shared ground represented by the fact that we both fundamentally approach academic work with a labor theory of value, by contrast to the predominant vision aptly described by Dan Schiller as an “information exceptionalism” that attempts to substitute a “knowledge theory of value” (Schiller 1997:105-106). As indicated in detail above, I wish to associate myself firmly with his analysis of education commodification more generally and with his indispensable ramification of that analysis for the traditional faculty. Management dissemination of technology has been used to surveil, punish, regiment, censor, and control faculty; to direct how they allocate time and effort; to cement administrative control over the curriculum, and to impose supplemental duties including technological self-education and continuous availability to students and administration via email. In some cases technology has even displaced living labor entirely with automated learning programs tended by software maintenance and courseware sales personnel.

Nonetheless, any discussion of “technologization” is going to leave us room to say more about what is “informationalized” about the information university. Noble is right that the administration’s motive in attempting to get faculty to convert their courses to courseware is ultimately to dispense with faculty altogether. He compares the plight of the tenure-stream faculty to the plight of the machinist Rudy Hertz in Vonnegut’s Player Piano: “They buy him a beer. They capture his skills on tape. Then they fire him.” But does dispensing with the “skilled academic labor” of the tenured faculty result in the workerless academic environment Noble pictures? Not at all: there are more academic workers than ever before. Noble writes as if the information university were a fully “lights-out” knowledge factory, an entire virtual u. on a bank of hard-drives facelessly dispensing information to students across the globe. This science-fiction view of an automated higher-ed completely captures administrative ambition (i.e., for academic capital to emancipate itself from academic labor, realizing value magically in a workerless scheme of dollars for credits completely unmediated by teaching). It equally captures the anxiety of the tenure-stream faculty regarding the systematic imperative relentlessly driving toward the elimination of their positions. Nonetheless it risks missing the underlying reality: dispensing with the skilled professoriate is accompanied by the installation of a vast cadre of differently-skilled workers - graduate students, part-time faculty, technology specialists, writing consultants, and so forth. (Similarly: replacing Tom Hanks with a “digital actor” doesn’t result in a workerless artistic production, but instead involves a battalion of talents that are differently but perhaps not “less” skilled: programmers, choreographers, caricaturists, physical anthropologists, animators, scene painters, photographers, voice artists, continuity experts, caterers, writers, and so forth.)

In trying to understand what is “informationalized” about the information university, we need to shift our focus to the consciousness and circumstances of the new group of education workers called into being by this transformation of the work process. This transformation cannot be exclusively a question of delivering labor, teacher labor or any other kind, in a commodity form - it is after all a general feature of all capitalisms that workers are required to “sell their labor” in order to live. Rather, informationalization is about delivering labor in the mode of information. A word about informationalization and the material world is probably in order. Generally speaking, informationalization does not mean that we cease to have or handle things, or that we have and handle virtual objects “instead of” the material world (as in Negroponte’s formulation that we move bits “instead of” atoms). Instead it means that we continue to have and handle material objects (more and more of them, at least in the thing-rich daily life of the northern hemisphere) but that we have and handle these objects in what Mark Poster calls “the mode of information,” which means that we manipulate objects as if they were data. It’s not that we don’t have car parts, novels, and armored divisions - only now we expect those things to be available to us in a manner approximating the way in which information is available to us. A fully informationalized carburetor is available in the way that electronically-mediated data is available - on demand, just in time. When you’re not thinking of your carburetor, it’s off your desktop. When you need to think about it, the informationalized carburetor lets you know. When it does manifest itself it gives the illusion of a startling transparency - you have in the carburetor’s manifestation the sense that you have everything you need to know about carburetors: how they work, fair prices for them here and in the next state, and so on. Informationalization means that artifacts are available on an informatic logic: on demand, just in time and fully catalogued; they should feel transparent and be networked, and so forth. Informationalization creates data streams alongside, crossing, and enfolding atomic motion, but doesn’t in most cases replace atomic motion. To the contrary, informationalization is a constant pressure accelerating and multiplying atomic motion toward the ideal speed of the bitstream and toward the ideal efficiency of capturing (as profit) the action of every fingertip, eyeball, and synaptic pulse. This is in part why Terranova argues for getting beyond the debates about who constitutes a “knowledge class” and “concentrating instead on `labor’ ”(41). In this context “labor” refers to Lazzarato’s notion of “immaterial labor,” those activities of the eyes, hands, speech organs and synapses of a “mass intellectuality” - channel-changing, verbal invention, mouse-clicking, fandom, opinion-formation and opinion-sharing, etc. - that are “not normally recognized” as labor, but which can be described as “knowledge work” yet one divorced from “the concept of creativity as an expression of `individuality’ or as the patrimony of the `superior’ classes, and which are instead collectively performed by a creative social subjectivity (Lazzarato133-134; 145-146). Terranova’s understanding that the production of Internet culture absorbs “massive amounts” of such labor, only some of which is “hypercompensated by the capricious logic of venture capitalism” (48), can be partially mapped onto our understanding of higher education and the labor-power it composes. For one thing, it is quite clear that much of the “free labor” that goes into creating higher education culture, such as the work of “playing” basketball, cheerleading, blowing a horn in the marching band, attending the game - even checking the box scores - can be harvested by university capital as surplus value: the university valorizes the uncompensated labor of the editor of the student newspaper and its “interns” and “service learners,” together with the “work-study” efforts of its student dining-hall workers, just as easily as it valorizes the radically undercompensated labor of the faculty and graduate students editing a scholarly journal, or its janitors and librarians. For another: it seems equally evident that any movement likely to transform academic capitalism at the level of structure will have to unfold in the consciousness and muscles of an insurrectionary mass intellectuality of all of the fractions performing this un- and under-compensated labor, and can hardly flow from one segment alone, or one segment “leading” another.

So what does it mean to labor “in the mode of information?” Above all, it means to deliver one’s labor “just in time” and “on demand,” to work “flexibly.” As Castells observes, the informational transformation relies even more on just-in-time labor than on just-in-time supplies (289). One doesn’t have to be employed “part time” to be forced to work in this fashion - one can have a “full-time” job and experience contingency (as many as a third of even the most economically privileged quartile of the work force, 4-year college graduates, report involuntary unemployment of several months or more in the years after graduation, while moving between what is usually a string of “full-time” jobs, often without benefits or seniority protections.) Nor does laboring in the mode of information necessarily imply “being an information worker,” but instead, the application to information workers of the management controls developed for the industrial workplace. In many respects this can be viewed as the extension of the process of scientific management to all forms of labor, as Braverman observed in his study of the rationalization of office work (293-358), even the work of management itself (see Bill Vaughn’s “I Was an Adjunct Administrator”). Constrained to manifest itself as data, labor appears when needed on the management desktop - fully trained, “ready to go out of the box,” and so forth - and after appearing upon administrative command, labor in this form should ideally instantly disappear.

When the task is completed, labor organized on the informatic principle goes off-line, off the clock, and - most important - off the balance sheets. This labor is required to present itself to management scrutiny as “independent” and “self-motivated,” even “joyful” - that is, able to provide herself with health care, pension plan, day care, employment to fill in the downtime, and eagerly willing to keep herself “up to speed” on developments transpiring in the corporate frame even though not receiving wages from the corporation; above all, contingent labor should present the affect of enjoyment: she must seem transparently glad to work, as in the knowledge worker’s mantra: “I love what I’m doing!” See Andrew Ross’s description of the way that universities, digital industry and other employers of “mental labor” have succeeded in interpellating intellectual workers more generally with the “bohemian” ideology previously reserved for artistic occupations: large new sectors of intellectual labor have proved willing to accept not merely the exploitation of wage slavery but the super-exploitation of the artist, in part because the characteristics of casual employment (long and irregular hours, debt subsidy, moonlighting, the substitution of reputation for a wage, casual workplace ethos, etc.) can be so easily associated with the popular understanding of normative rewards for “creative” endeavor. As with other forms of consumerist enjoyment, the flex-timer generally pays for the chance to work - buying subscriptions to keep up, writing tuition checks, donating time to “internships” and unpaid training, flying herself to “professional development” opportunities - in all respects shouldering the expense of maintaining herself in constant readiness for her “right to work” to be activated by the management keystroke. Contrary to the fantasy of the sedentary knowledge worker who “telecommutes” and never leaves home, the actual flex-timer is in constant motion, driving from workplace to workplace, from training seminar to daycare, grocery store and gym, maintaining an ever more strenuous existence in order to present the working body required by capital: healthy, childless, trained, and alert, displaying an affect of pride in representing zero drain on the corporation’s resources.

Laboring in an informatic mode does not mean laboring with less effort - as if informationalized work was inevitably some form of knowledge teamwork scootering around the snack bar, a bunch of chums dreaming up the quarterly scheduled product innovation. Laboring in an informatic mode means laboring in a way that labor-management feels effortless: the relevant perspective is the management desktop, from which labor power can be made to appear and disappear with a keystroke. Informationalized labor is always informationalized for management, i.e., so that management can always have labor available to it “in the mode of information,” called up effortlessly, dismissed at will, immediately off the administrative mind once out of sight. Indeed: for labor-management to feel so transparent and so effortless, a great deal of additional effort has to be expended (just not by management). For capital to have labor appear and disappear at the speed of the bitstream might, for instance, require concrete labor to drive sixty miles between part-time gigs, gulping fast food on the highway, leaving its children unattended: the informatic mode doesn’t eliminate this effort, it just makes it disappear from the management calculus. Informationalism cannot present labor in the form of data without offloading the costs of feeding, housing, training, entertaining, reproducing, and clothing labor - power onto locations in the system other than the location using that labor power.

To return to the Hollywood producer’s fantasy of the “cyberslave” that will “do his bidding without a whimper or a salary”: really understanding the informational transformation means acknowledging that Hollywood producers already have an enormous army of “cyberslaves” who don’t complain or ask for a salary: they’re called actors. (In All About Eve, Bette Davis comments on the cost of a union caterer - presumably a would-be actor - by grumbling that she “could get an actor for less,” i.e., that she could pay an accomplished actor less to “perform the role” of catering her party than she would have to pay a would-be actor to “be the caterer.”) Under the regime of information capitalism, a film producer can often get a human being to act informationally - to leap at his command, even anticipate the snap of his fingers, and then obligingly disappear - at a labor cost to himself of exactly zero, except where restrained by the talent unions. But these living and breathing, unwaged “slaves” of the representational economy aren’t fed and housed and educated at no cost - just at no cost to the film producer.

So in reality it “takes a village” to present informationalized labor to capital. This form of the work process, “flexible,” “casual,” permanently temporary, outsourced, and so on, offloads the care and maintenance of the working body onto society - typically, onto the flex worker’s parents or a more traditionally-employed partner, as well as onto social institutions. This means especially, in the U.S., the health care provided at the emergency room and the job training provided by “higher education.” As Barrow among many others observes, higher education’s continuously enlarging contributions to personnel “training and the provision of a scientific-technical infrastructure” have historically been the two areas in which the “costs of private production” under advanced capitalism have been most successfully displaced onto society (8). In the northern hemisphere, the operation of global capital somewhat cushions the care of higher-latitude flex workers by providing cheap consumer goods produced by contingent labor in the southern factories, so that, without the assistance of a parent or traditionally-employed partner, northern-hemisphere flex workers commonly cannot afford to buy real property (a home) or services (health care, legal services, day care, etc) at northern-hemisphere prices. Nonetheless they may be otherwise rich in possessions fabricated by southern labor (compact discs, computer hardware, clothing, assembly-required furniture). The most substantial expenditures made by the northern-hemisphere flex worker are commonly the debt-funded car and tuition payments that for many of them figure as prerequisites for entering the flex-time economy in the first place.

The research of Saskia Sassen and others has been helpful for understanding the relationship between sites of high technological sophistication, especially cities of the advanced economy, and the enormous growth of low-wage, low-profit economic activity in those sites (a fact that confounds most information-society propagandists). Some of this work is formally casual or contingent (legal part-time or term work), some of it is legal full-time but with extremely low degrees of worker security and on-the-job protection (Sassen observes that under globalization, firms migrate not to where labor is cheapest but to where labor can be most easily controlled, including the urban centers of advanced economies with large migrant populations), and much of this low-profit, low-wage work is informal. As Sassen observes, the “informal” sector is not easy to define and, while akin to elements of the “underground economy” (i.e., dealers in illegal goods and services such as drugs and prostitution, and financial services associated with tax evasion), the “informal economy” encompasses activities that would otherwise be legal (garment manufacture, child care, gardening, home renovation) but are performed in illicit circumstances, either by being performed outside of or in an unclear regulatory environment, or by persons working illegally (such as underage or undocumented workers). This group includes an extremely disparate collation of workers: high-school baby-sitters, sweatshop labor, neighborhood day care providers, construction day laborers, farm hands, and gypsy cab drivers. The informal sector has grown swiftly and unexpectedly in the U.S. since 1980, and Sassen has argued forcefully that this expansion is structurally related to the characteristics of the “formal” economy itself. In her work on immigrant workers in urban centers, for example, she observes that the rapid expansion of the informal sector of advanced economies is neither accidental nor the consequence of the “failings” or “inabilities” of third world economies, from which cheap labor migrates to the first world. Instead, the informal sector is in her view “the structured outcome of current trends in advanced economies”(1997: 4-5; also see 1988: 7-9; 151-170). Which is to say: immigration and other “external” factors don’t “cause” sectors of advanced economies to become informal; advanced economies require the emergence of informality within themselves, resulting from “the structural characteristics of advanced capitalism” itself and the “flexibility-maximizing strategies by individuals and firms” in that system (1997:19). Samir Radwan redacts Sassen’s observation as follows: “If the informal economy did not exist, the formal economy would have to invent it” (Sassen 1997: 2). The processes of rendering-informal are for Sassen the “low-cost equivalent” of the expensive, arduous, and politically charged activities of formal deregulation (that transpire in high-profit sectors of the economy), a corresponding shadow or de facto deregulation “which rests on the backs of “low-profit firms and low-wage workers” (1997:19). These insights might be brought to bear on the present discussion by saying, “It takes a high-tech city (or at least a college) to deliver informationalized labor to capital.”

Certainly any understanding of the relationship between the murkily “informal” and the deceptively transparent “informational” in the advanced economies requires a great deal of further research and theorization. Even limited research questions such as “What role might the information university play in helping the formal economy to `invent’ the relations sustaining the informal economy?” beg book-length empirical studies of their own.

But I do think we might make at least some theoretical progress by asking ourselves what can be gained by seeing colleges and universities as a version of these “low-profit firms” operating, not in a fully informal fashion, but to a certain degree in a less-than-formal fashion, that is, in an environment of under-regulation, or in which the regulatory status of its workers is less than clear.

In terms of university accumulation, the emphasis has been to look at the activities of the top 100 research universities in the U.S., and in the light of deregulation of patent law, for instance, see the activities of these institutions as the bellwether of the university’s emergence as at least potentially a “high-profit, high wage” information industry. (And this line of approach has appeared reasonable, in connection with such visible developments as the university’s emergence as a competitor with entertainment capital to provide sports and other programming to media outlets.) With Bill Readings, many have been inclined to view the university as a transnational bureaucratic corporation that, in a deregulated environment, is increasingly a global purveyor of educational services and research commodities.

But this construction of the informational transformation within academic capitalism is hardly typical of the other 4,000-plus U.S. institutions of higher education. Strict attention to the expenditure of labor time in these other locations gives a radically different picture of the information university than the fantasy of a workbench for faculty information entrepreneurs or a gateway to the “information society” for students.

What would happen if we asked, pursuing Sassen, to what degree is the university’s role in the advanced economies of the informational society structurally related to the relative informality of its employment relations? In raising this question, I am not at this time making an analogy between university workers and day laborers or migrant workers (though such analogies have been made, with greater and lesser degrees of applicability), or pointing to the financial relations between universities and garment sweatshops (such as those opposed by USAS and other student protest organizations). Nor am I addressing the university’s exploitation of its staff, as documented in the recent Harvard and Johns Hopkins living wage campaigns, for example (see Harvey 126-129), though these connections can and must be made as a matter of analysis and workplace organization. For purposes of this particular effort, I am pointing primarily to the actual legal and social confusion regarding the workplace status of the most visible and even traditional members of the academic work force, the professoriate itself, together with graduate and undergraduate students.

Perhaps the most obvious legal confusion surrounds the status of the graduate employee, many of whom over the last two decades have engaged in legal battles to win recognition that they are in fact workers (as in California and Illinois, and at Yale, NYU, and elsewhere), some lasting eight or ten years. Increasingly the designation ” graduate student” has over the past thirty or thirty-five years served as a vector for the university’s cultivation of a “semi-formal” employment relation, in which graduate employees have all of the responsibilities of labor, including a teaching load heavier than many of their professors, commonly an employment contract, supervision, job training, a taxable wage, and so on, but enjoy fewer protections than the regular work force. For instance, graduate employees are generally ineligible for unemployment benefits, and unlike regular workers can be compelled to pay “tuition” for their on-the-job training, shoulder job-related expenses, including the production of course-related materials, supplement a sub-living wage with unforgivable debt (student debt, unlike commercial debt or even consumer credit, cannot be forgiven in bankruptcy) and engage in various forms of unpaid labor (in keeping with various ideologies of “apprenticeship,” “mentoring,” and “professionalism,” even though for most the term of mentoring and apprenticeship will not lead to professional employment). Nor can a graduate employee who doesn’t like her working conditions quit her employer and go to an alternative employer in the usual fashion: students who are unable to live on their stipends cannot easily move to a higher-paying program, and those who are not economically situated to take on debt to finish their degrees on the gamble of winning a professorial job are likely to quit rather than change programs.

This is not to say that justifications cannot be offered for the unusual circumstances of graduate employee labor. It is only to observe that the circumstances are indeed “special” enough for universities to fight to keep the specialness of the “student” designation, including in some cases spending lavishly on union-busting law firms. Correspondingly, many graduate employees find the “specialness” of this designation so disempowering that some are willing to struggle during the whole term of their graduate careers to escape from “specialness” and win the rights of labor, including collective bargaining. Whether one supports graduate employee unionism or not, it is simply an observable fact that significant numbers of graduate employees are eager to enter circumstances resembling the more regulated environment of other workers.

For most of the past quarter century, the faculty also have worked in a contested and murky regulation environment. This is obviously the case with term workers and part-time faculty, some of whom for example have sued the state of Washington for retirement benefits. But the move to substitute flexible labor for faculty labor also transformed the role of the remaining tenure-stream faculty, who acquired additional supervisory duties in relation to the new graduate students and other flex workers. The 1980 Supreme Court decision in NLRB v. Yeshiva (444 U.S. 672) barred faculty at private universities from unionizing because the court viewed the activities of tenure-stream faculty as essentially managerial. Here again, the various efforts of faculty to overturn the Yeshiva decision don’t erase the “specialness” of their place in the academic labor process, which indeed commonly includes managerial responsibility, but it does indicate the preference of the employer to conserve the special relationship, and the degree to which at least some faculties, finding this specialness disempowering, seek to clarify it in law and policy.

Of course if it is at all useful to theorize the university as a semi-formal employer, discussing the conversion of graduate education to labor in the mode of information and the increasing managerialism of the faculty is only to have scratched the surface. To go on, we must investigate the ways in which the Info U. has transformed undergraduate experience in the quest for new wage workers, and critically examine the forms of semi-formal work to which the undergraduate has been increasingly dedicated over the same period of time.

To return to the three forms of labor commonly employed by “low-wage, low-profit” firms (casual, full-time but pragmatically contingent, informal): it is clear that since the late 1960s that higher education has expanded its reliance on casual, full-time contingent and the semi-formal labor of students, while also winning new “informalities” in its relationship with the professoriate (this de-formalization can be understood not just in the above-noted sense of the murkiness of the faculty role in the labor process caused by increased dedication of professorial labor time to the work of management, but even in the everyday withdrawal of support for research-related expenses: in my discipline, many faculty even at schools where research is required for tenure, pay most of their research and conference travel expenses out of their salaries, salaries that are in most cases already far lower than those with other “professional” degrees). There are, of course, other sectors of higher education (sci-tech, finance) that can be analyzed in relation to “high profit, high wage” dimensions of information capitalism (though even at the handful of top research universities where such analysis is appropriate, the financial return on research dollars is notoriously low, considered as a capitalist “investment,” rather than a social good).

But the evidence of the other, larger trends with which I am concerned appears to suggest the necessity of considering the university’s role in information capitalism to be in many respects a role understandable in connection with the sort of “low wage, low-profit” firms with which Sassen has been concerned, where pressure toward “informality” is highest, and where workforces are chosen not merely for their cheapness, but also for ease of managerial control. As Sassen observes, “it is also their powerlessness which makes them profitable” (1988: 40), a powerlessness that emerges not only from the deskilling observed by Noble, and the industrialization of office work observed by Braverman, but also, especially in the low-cost, low-wage firm, from a “system of control” that is “immediate and personal,” in which employers can respond to worker dissatisfaction and complaints simply “by firing them” (1988: 42). The observation that low-wage, low-profit firms are driven (by competition) toward informalization of the workplace (hiring undocumented workers or evading other regulations), and derive competitive advantages from increased control over the worker, would seem to have at least some parallel importance for understanding transformations in the academic labor process.

This would lead us to ask in what ways the informatic logic of the university’s labor process - its dedication to the casual, full-time, contingent and semi-formal processes of labor “in the mode of information” - contributes to an increasing powerlessness of faculty, students and the citizens who emerge from the higher education experience?

Academic Employers and the Informatic Sabotage of Education

Escaping the regulatory apparatus of the formal economy enhances the economic opportunities of such firms.
-Saskia Sassen

While it is highly questionable how many professors have been fired in consequence of having “their skills captured on tape,” we are nonetheless witnessing the disappearance of the professoriate. The teacherless classroom is no future possibility, but instead the most pressing feature of contemporary academic reality: it is difficult to find any sector of higher education institutions in North America where the full-time professoriate teaches more than thirty percent of course sections - even in the Ivy League (Coalition of Graduate Employee Unions 2000). The elimination over three decades (chiefly by attrition and retirement incentives) didn’t reduce the amount of teacher work being performed; it just handed teacher work to term workers who serve as administered labor and not collegially. In some departments of public institutions, as little as ten percent of the teaching is done by professorial faculty. With occasional exceptions, most of this cadre of students and former students serving as term workers figure as the ideal type of labor - power “in the informatic mode” - they can be called up by the dean or program administrator even after the semester has begun, and can be dismissed at will; they have few rights to due process; they are frequently grateful to “have the chance to do what they love;” most rely on parents or a traditionally-employed partner for shelter, access to health care, day care and so on; of the rest, many are willing to finance their own sometimes-continuous training with as much as one hundred thousand dollars of debt. Surely this transformation of the academic work process, the substitution by attrition of contingent labor for faculty labor, is the core feature of educational informatics - a perfected system for recruiting, delivering, and ideologically reproducing an all-but-self-funding cadre of low-cost but highly-trained “just in time” labor power. Little wonder that every other transnational corporation wants to emulate the campus. By nearly any measure, the university represents the leading edge of labor in the informational mode.

What needs to be added to the commodification critique represented so well by Noble’s analysis is a systematic accounting for the core transformation represented by casualization. On the one hand, this analysis is pushing toward exactly the right pressure point - informationalization as a matter of the workplace - and yet by focusing on the question of transmitting course content over a distance, the commodification critique incompletely addresses the experience of living labor, especially the majority of academic labor represented by flex workers. Another way of saying this is to observe that Noble has a hold of what is incontestably the likeliest agent for resisting and controlling that transformation, and for articulating the labor of the North American academy to global proletarian movements - the faculty union - but then goes on to share into the thirty-year disappointing failure of academic unions to confront casualization. As I’ve written previously in Workplace: this is a story that deserves to be told in the key of Shakespearean tragedy, where one’s virtues are equally one’s flaws (Lear’s fondness, Hamlet’s phlegm): since 1970, the academy has become one of the most-unionized sectors of the North American workforce, and yet it’s been a unionization inattentive to management’s stunningly successful installation of a casualized second tier of labor. While 44% of all faculty and nearly 2/3 of public-institution faculty are unionized (by comparison to about 14% of the workforce at large and 30% of public-sector employees), consciousness regarding what to do about the contingent workers of the second tier has been slow to develop in faculty unions.

What is inescapably and enduringly important about Noble’s work in this series is its grounding in workplace struggle: it is only unionists like Noble who have mobilized any significant opposition to any dimension of the informational transformation, and who are capable of sustaining the necessary vision articulated by an organized faculty, as at the University of Washington, who insist that education can’t be reduced to “the downloading of information,” and is an “intersubjective and social process” (Noble 53). Nonetheless, the rhetorical and mistaken portait of informationalization as the “firing of professors” and a lights-out knowledge factory rather than the substitution of nonfaculty labor for faculty labor needs to be thoroughly confronted and reconsidered by faculty unionists, as well as by other persons situated by the academic-industrial complex.

Why does it matter? For one thing, the idea that academic informationalization can be equated with “the future” and “distance education” leads Noble to suggest in part III of the Digital Diploma series that the battle’s been won, even before it was properly started. For instance: in the aftermath of some 1998 consolidation and retrenchment among online vendors, he writes that the “juggernaut” of instructional technology “appears to have stalled” and that “faculty and students have finally become alert to the administrative agendas and commercial con-games behind this seeming technological revolution.” Would that it were so! Noble comes to this conclusion (November 1998) with his “Part III” just 8 months after issuing a call in part II (March 1998) to defend faculty intellectual property rights in “the coming battle.” Few people seriously engaged in critical information studies would necessarily jump to the conclusion that defense of faculty IP rights can serve as a core strategy for combating informationalism, This is not to suggest that there aren’t circumstances where the notion of intellectual property rights, as in the struggle to resist the exploitation of indigenous knowledges, can’t be mobilized with great tactical effectiveness (Coombs). but the real issue is the sudden swiftness with which Noble’s informatic struggle seems to have opened and closed. If academic informationalization isn’t just another Hundred Days’ War, then what is it? These chronological problems result from the decision to employ a “commodification-of-instruction” heuristic to the exclusion of a heuristic featuring the casualization-of-instruction. By naming technologization as the key measure of informatic instructional delivery, Noble dates instructional transformation as a recent second wave, one which follows the 1980s commodification of research, one which is only happening “now” and which can be averted, even one which by 1998 may already have been averted.

But if casualization and not technologization is understood as the key measure of informatic instruction, we see a far more plausible chronology beginning much earlier - in the 1960s, first observed circa 1968, and continuously unfolding in a process of steady implementation, current commitment, and with no end in sight. Noble’s history of university informatics essentially recapitulates the two-century transition in manufacturing modes of production (from artisanal production to industrialization to post-fordism) but compresses that narrative into just two decades, as if university knowledge work were primarily artisanal before 1980 and primarily industrialized thereafter. This is already problematic: university knowledge work may remain artisanal in certain sectors, but it was also in many other sectors enormously industrialized - especially in the sciences - much earlier. Rather than viewing this transformation as relatively smooth and uniform, it might be better to follow Virno, for example, who sees informationalization not as determining a single “compulsory mode of production” but as supporting a radically uneven terrain of work practice, preserving “myriad distinct” productive modes, serving as an umbrella “under which is represented the entire history of labor” in synchronic form, “as if at a world’s fair” (18-19). (Indeed, this was also Marx’s observation in Capital; that many modes of production exist side by side.) Stitching Virno’s understanding together with the “taxonomy of teacher work” offered by Stanley Aronowitz in the The Jobless Future, we recognize a plausible portrait of our own academy, in which some researchers work in entrepreneurial and corporate modes of production and others produce artisanally, but these pockets of “entrepreneurial,” “industrial,” and “artisanal” practice are inescapably conditioned by the umbrella presence of the contingent labor of graduate students and former graduate students working on a subfaculty basis.

One good way to make sense of the “commodification of teaching” narrative, then, is to approach it as a narrative about the informationalization of academic labor by the sector of academic labor that has been least informationalized. That is: while the tenured faculty (what remains of it) are increasingly becoming what Gary Rhoades terms “managed professionals,” which is to say increasingly subordinated to the corporate values, ease of command, and bottom line of the management desktop, the degree to which this informational transformation of the tenure stream has been accomplished is very limited. Indeed, despite efforts to reverse the Yeshiva decision, a recent case before the NLRB involving a small Catholic college in Connecticut demonstrates the degree to which the faculty function can be read before the law not so much as that of “managed professionals” as that of “professional managers” (who can be denied the right to bargain collectively). The degree to which the tenured now present their labor to management in “the mode of information” presents only a narrow ledge of understanding regarding the fully-informationalized working reality of contingent academic labor. As tenurable faculty labor moves toward increasing subordination to management, lower pay, and so forth - toward “proletarianization” - it is possible that they will come to better understand that the degradation of their own work is systematically related to the super-degradation of the contingent workers teaching in the same classrooms. But insofar as there is now, and will likely remain, a very large gap between the work experience of the flexible and the tenured: we might be pressed to conclude that what remains of “artisanal” faculty practice since 1970 has - at least in part - been preserved by the compliance of the tenured with management’s development of a second tier of labor.

Certainly that sense of faculty complicity drives much of the graduate-employee labor discourse, which is to say, the discourse of the most vocal segment of those subjected to the informatic logic of higher education. Graduate students rightly feel that their mentors, frequently the direct supervisors of their work, owe them something more structurally significant than moth-eaten advice about “how to do well” in the job search. One of the reasons that graduate employees are so vocal is bec

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Donna O'Connor
State Representative - District 21

Donna has taught for 19 years in local school systems in Ohio.  She has been involved in local and state politics for several years and fought hard against SB 5/Issue 2, the union-busting bill.  Last year while standing on the steps of the state house, a friend gave her a button that said, “those that can, teach.  Those that cannot, make laws about teaching.”  Donna is running to make sure that those making the laws about education know what it’s like to work in the classroom.

Tanyce Addison
State Senate - District 26

Tanyce Addison is running for State Senate in District 26. Tanyce recently retired after teaching for 30 years in the public schools. She directed bands and choirs in the Ridgedale and Elgin school districts in Marion County. As a teacher, Tanyce saw the damage that severe cuts did to the arts and schools in general. Upset with cuts to education, she became active with her union and fought to protect schools. She served as the Education Association president, vice-president and secretary and negotiated four contracts. Tanyce was active in the fight against Issue 2 in 2011 and is now taking her activism one-step further by running to protect education and teachers as a state Senator.

Jeff Bunck
State Representative - District 47

Jeff Bunck is running for State Representative in District 47. Jeff has worked in education since 1975 when he graduated from the University of Toledo. He is running because his current state Representative, Barbara Sears, does not listen to the people in her district, especially on educational issues. Sears voted for Senate Bill 5, which attacked middle-class workers and co-sponsored House Bill 136, which expands school voucher programs. Jeff testified in opposition to SB5 and decided that he could to do more to protect education by running for office and defeating Barbara Sears. Jeff taught for 27 years and served as an administrator for eight years. Most recently, he taught at Bowling Green State University and resigned from there in January of 2012 to run for the House.

Cheryl Johncox
State Representative - District 86

Cheryl Johncox is running for State Representative in District 86. Cheryl has been an advocate for the environment, agriculture and rural living for many years. She has close ties to the agricultural community in her area and was raised on one of the last farms in Strongsville. Cheryl saw the attacks on women’s health, workers, the elderly and environment and knew that she had to do something. She decided to run for office to stand up to the Republicans in Columbus. She was chosen as a National Wildlife Federation Women for Sustainable Development Fellow and received the National Conservation Achievement Award in 2006. She worked for the Ohio Environmental Council as the Director of Ohio River Programs and is currently the Executive Director of the Buckeye Forest Council.

Teresa Scarmack
State Senate - District 20

Teresa Scarmack is running for State Senate in District 20. Teresa taught for 23 years in the central Ohio area and tutored children with learning disabilities. She has been teaching kindergarten in the Logan- Hocking School District since 1999. Teresa became involved in politics because of the Senate Bill 5/Issue 2 campaign. She made phone calls and knocked on doors in neighborhoods across her county. She knew the drastic consequences that public employees faced if this bill became law. There was a call across Ohio for teachers to run for office, teachers understand how important quality education is for communities and would replace Republicans who kept cutting education while giving tax breaks to corporations, and Teresa answered that call and is running to protect education in Ohio.

Bill Young
State Representative - District 88

Bill Young is running for State Representative in District 88. Bill is in his 38th and final year of teaching. As a teacher, Bill stressed that one person can make a difference and was able to see first hand how a state Representative can make a difference in their constituents’ lives when a former state legislator worked with Bill’s students on a community service project. Bill is running because holding office is another way that he can serve and work for his community. He is a highly decorated teacher; his awards include Ohio Social Studies Teacher of the Year, Northwest Ohio Teacher of the Year, three-time Clyde-Green Springs Teacher of the Year, Ohio Education Association John F. Kennedy Scholarship Award winner, Martha Holden Jennings Scholar award and others. Bill was very involved locally in the fight to defeat SB 5.


Beth Alois
State Representative - District 168

Beth Alois is running for State Representative in District 168. Beth saw the vicious attacks on education and women’s health in Pennsylvania and knew that people must stand up to Republicans and that is why she decided to run for state Representative. She is currently Vice-Chairperson of the Thornbury Township Democratic Committee and the elected Minority Inspector of Elections in Thornbury Township. For 25 years, she accompanied her Foreign Service husband on his overseas assignments in South America, Europe, Asia and the Middle East. She worked as the Community liaison Officer at several US Embassies.

Chris Dietz
State Representative - District 104

Chris Dietz is running for State Representative in District 104. Chris knows the hardships faced by the millions of Americans who have been unemployed during this recession. After graduating from Penn State University, he went to work at Manugraph DGM but, like many others, Chris was laid off in 2008 and was without steady employment for over a year before the same company rehired him. Chris knows how lucky he was to get his job back and is running to ensure that all Pennsylvanians have the opportunity to find quality employment. If elected in November, Chris would be the first openly elected gay legislator in Pennsylvania. Appointed to represent Ward 1 on the Millersburg Borough Council in 2006 and re-elected in 2007 and 2009, Chris was elected as Borough Council President twice, even with a Republican majority on the council.

Steve McCarter
State Representative - District 154

As a former teacher, Steve McCarter knows how important education is. When children receive a quality education, they are more likely to get good jobs that pay a living wage, which improves the economy in their community. The attacks on Pennsylvania’s children and schools by Republicans must be stopped and Steve is standing up to Republican’s dangerous actions. He is dedicated to the preservation and improvement of Pennsylvania schools. Steve taught high school Social Studies for 35 years in Abington and Lower Merion, was an adjunct Professor of Education at the University of Pennsylvania and is a retired Captain in the U.S. Army Reserves.


Lisa Sprague
Leon County Sheriff

Lisa Sprague is running for Leon County Sheriff. Lisa began her career in law enforcement 30 years ago and was one of only two women on the police force when she began. She survived pressure to quit when she got married and began a family. She served as Deputy Chief of Police for Florida State University, President of the International Association of Campus Law Enforcement Administration from 2008- 2009 and owns her own consulting firm, Sprague Consulting Security. She’s running to bring progressive values to the sheriff’s office by increasing cooperation amongst law enforcement agencies, acting as an advocate for the community and increasing transparency.  When she is elected, she will be the only woman at the command staff level in the Sheriff's office


Helen Price Johnson
Island County Commissioner - District 1

Helen Price Johnson is running for re-election as Island County Commissioner. In 2008 she became the first woman to be sworn in as Island County Commissioner. Helen is a longtime Island County resident with deep ties to the community. Helen has four children and has owned and operated a small home construction business since 1995. Helen served on the South Whidbey School Board from 2001-2007.

Tim Farrell
Pierce County Assessor-Treasurer

Tim Farrell is running for Pierce County Assessor-Treasurer. Tim is running to help homeowners by providing information on all potential tax advantages o help alleviate their tax burdens, improve customer service and streamline government. A two-term Pierce County Councilmember, Tim comes from a Snohomish County railroading family and spent his career working in Pierce County. Farrell has been active with the Eastside Women for Women’s Health, the Susan G. Komen Foundation and other civic groups in his community. Tim is a former chair of the Tacoma Planning Commission and a former member of the North End Neighborhood Council.

Bruce Lachney
State Senator - District 2

Bruce Lachney is a lifelong Pacific Northwest native and received his degree from the University of Washington in 1980. He will fight for better education, jobs and civil rights in Washington. Bruce was a Captain in the United States Marine Corps, serving as a jet pilot in two tours of duty in the Far East and one tour in Somalia. Last year, Bruce retired after serving more than 20 years as a domestic pilot for Delta Airlines flying the Boeing 737-800. Bruce is also one of only 850 Ocean Spray cranberry growers. His farm in Eastern Pierce County also produces rhubarb, cattle, timber and hay for local markets.

Bob Hasegawa
State Senate - District 11

After serving in the Washington State House since 2005, Bob is running for an open state Senate seat. As both a labor leader and social activist, Bob has worked to bring together members of the progressive community and advocate for social justice issues. He has spent the past eight years in the House of Representatives fighting to create jobs, protect seniors and education, help small businesses and expanding higher education opportunities. In the Senate, Bob will continue to fight for these issues and will be a strong advocate for the residents of his district.

Eric Choiniere
State Representative - District 28 (Position 1)

Eric Choiniere, a military veteran and former member of Communication Workers of America Local 7800, has always been active in politics. Eric is running for State Representative to give workers a voice in Olympia. As an individual who experienced unemployment and economic insecurity during the Great Recession, Eric understands the struggles families face every day in his community. On the University Place City Council, Eric has championed a balanced budget and focus on essential services on the University Place Council—from law enforcement to filling potholes. He has also led efforts to protect parks and recreation, and assist small business. An Army veteran who works for a provider of military health care located in Tacoma, Choiniere will make service to those who have served a particular priority in the House of Representatives. He is personally committed to ensuring that every veteran and their family succeeds.

Jeff Davis
State Representative - District 35 (Position 2)

Jeff Davis is running for House Position 2 in Washington’s 35th legislative district. A native of the Pacific Northwest, Jeff is a Port of Olympia Commissioner whose election gave progressives a majority on the commission. Jeff is running to help create jobs and protect education and natural resources. He places a high value on human rights, economic justice and reproductive freedom. Throughout his career, Jeff has been active in labor as a Longshoreman, including serving as President of the Longshoremen District Council and board member of the Washington State Labor Council’s Transportation and Economic Development committee. He has served on a school board, economic development council and chamber board, as well as several others.

Bud Sizemore
State Representative - District 47 (Position 1)

Bud Sizemore is challenging an incumbent Republican for House Position 1 in the 47th legislative district. Service has always been a priority for Bud who served in the U.S. Air Force for 10 years and has been a professional fire fighter for more than 18 years. As a firefighter, he has fought to prevent cuts to police officers and firefighters to make sure the citizens of Washington are protected. Bud has also served as a Covington city Council member and Mayor Pro-Tempore where he worked with citizens to keep the community safe, protected open space and help local businesses.

Cyrus Habib
State Representative - Distrct 48 (Position 2)

Cyrus is running for State Representative in the 48th legislative district. Cyrus is Iranian-American, grew up on King County’s Eastside, and graduated from Bellevue Public Schools. He is a Truman Scholar and a Rhodes Scholar, and a graduate of Columbia, Oxford, and Yale Law School. Cyrus currently works as a lawyer, providing legal assistance to technology start-ups. Having lost his eyesight at age 8 to a rare form of childhood cancer, Cyrus has spent years advocating for the rights of the disabled, first in college and then as a law student and a lawyer. A staunch advocate for quality education and equal opportunity, Cyrus serves a Trustee of the Bellevue College Foundation and a Human Rights Commissioner for the City of Bellevue.


Jennifer Williamson
State Representative - District 36

Jennifer Williamson is running for State Representative in District 36. Jennifer is a 4th-Generation Oregonian, was born and raised on a farm in Washington County and was the first member of her family to graduate from college. Growing up in a union family as a reduced and free lunch kid, seeing her family rely on food stamps many times and having to put herself through college, Jennifer understands the challenges that families in Oregon are facing because she’s lived them. She became involved in politics early and by accident. While putting herself through the University of Oregon, proposed cuts in Pell Grants and work-study programs threatened her ability to stay in college. Not willing to go down without a fight, she became an education activist and which led her to work for Senator Mark Hatfield to ensure all Oregonians have access to higher education. The attacks on children and families living in poverty are what pushed Jennifer to run for office. When she’s elected, Jennifer will fight to make sure kids today have the same opportunities she did.


Walter Kawamoto
Twin Rivers Unified School District Trustee, Area 3

Walter Kawamoto is running for Twin Rivers Unified School District Trustee, Area 3. From his first “paid” experience assisting grade school teachers when he was in high school to most recently serving as a foster parent with the American Indian Child Resource Center, Walter has always gravitated to opportunities in education. As a school trustee, Walter will be fighting to provide high-quality educational opportunities for children in the Twin Rivers Unified School District. Walter is a professor at American River College, the PAFC chair for the Los Rios College Federation of Teachers and Democratic Delegate for Assembly District 9.


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          Living wage challenge continues to put pressure on small businesses        

Roughly a fifth of small businesses have been forced to reduce the number of hours staff work because they can’t pay them enough, and 19 per cent of firms have simply hired fewer workers.

The post Living wage challenge continues to put pressure on small businesses appeared first on Business Advice.

          Pay close attention to your body language        
UP TO 30,000 jobs in the learning disability sector could be at risk in the next four years, a charity has warned. In a report entitled It Doesn’t Add Up: The financial crisis crippling the social care sector, the learning disabilities charity Hft says the rising cost of adult social care services means providers are facing increasing financial pressures. Among growing costs, it cites the National Living Wage (NLW) which will add £460m to wage bills in the learning disability sector by 2020. Because the social care sector has the highest proportion of staff aged over 25, it will more adversely affected by the NLW. Robert Longley-Cook, Hft chief executive, said: “Hft wholeheartedly supports the introduction of the NLW. However we have grave concerns about its implementation at local and Westminster level. The social care sector is facing increasing demands. This situation is simply unsustainable.” The charity is looking for a five per cent increase in funding per year for the social care sector until 2020. Hft carried out the research in conjunction with the Centre for Economics and Business
          Guide: the importance of employee engagement on the retail bottom line        
Digital transformation is lowering barriers to entry, intensifying competition while economic pressures caused by Brexit, rising inflation and increases in the National Living Wage all impact the bottom line.
          Day 218: When Our Jobs Don't Pay, We Need A Living Income Guaranteed        

Here's a great article that in a lot of ways sums up what is going on in our labor system for the millions who are working low-wage jobs that don't pay enough to properly live: SeaTac’s minimum wage workers might not get their raise after all

One of the arguments against raising the wage is the businesses that won't be able to afford it, or may have to lay off one or a few employees.

But really – should businesses that can't afford to pay a living wage even exist? Otherwise what we've got is slave labor. And that is where the LIG comes in that provides the support buffer so that if you're out of a job for even just a moment, you're covered, and covered Far Better than Most Low Wage employees today, who earn far below a living wage, because the LIG will cover all your costs of living, whereas low wage even does not do that.

So you can start to see how having a buffer of a basic income can actually really take the pressure off of all aspects of our labor system, which currently is literally a life or death game. And this would take the pressure off of those who would want to have a business, because if it doesn't work out, which the vast majority of businesses fail within the first year, then it's not a problem, you're not going to wind up on the street.

And, if you really want to do something whether it makes money or not, you could, and still have enough to live effectively.

This would obviously result in aligning more people with what they'd really like to be doing. You could really follow your passion and have choice to do what suits you. I mean, do we really want people doing things that they really don't want to be doing? What kind of service do we get from that? The worst quality. This is why we have so many malpractice lawsuits, because so many of our doctors are in it for the money, and not because it's what they'd really like to do.

There's argument that having a basic income though would be a disincentive to working. But we are viewing this from the eyes of what is already here. I mean, what would you call disincentive? Being severely underpaid to the point where you have to take multiple jobs and still can't pay all your bills? Being short staffed and overworked, where the service you provide is often the cheapest it can possibly be and cutting corners is a requirement of the job so there is really no satisfaction in the service you're providing, and often facing disgruntled customers who don't like the poor service for the price they're paying when it's not like you are doing it on purpose? Receiving little to no paid time off or benefits? Where the company for whom your labor is making profits for has no regard for you? Where's the incentive in that?

Obviously our current situation is the main reason why people don't want to work. It's not that they don't want to work – they don't want to work in such conditions. Who would? Maybe only someone who has it even worse. But then, it's still not what they would really want, just the better out of two shitty choices.

Is this really what we want our labor to be like? There's no actual reason or need for it to be this way, and there certainly is no benefit. Investigate LIG, so that we can sort this out before it's too late.

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          Day 212: The Living Income Guaranteed Would Increase Minimum Wage for All Workers        

So there is quite some movement lately going on in the U.S. in regards to raising the minimum wage to a 'living wage'. Thousands of low-paid fast food and retail workers have been walking out of their jobs calling for an increase to the minimum wage.

In this video from RT "Fast Food Fight: Thousands of low-paid workers take to US streets", a sign is held up which reads: “Worker's Rights are Human Rights” - and that's a very good point. Because the right to a decent living should be a guarantee for all human beings. It's basic human rights to have your needs met. It is not something that is just about or for 'workers' but for all human beings.

It really doesn't make sense to work away most of your life and yet not even make enough to have a decent living, or to have time to enjoy it.

On top of that, in this day and age with the technology we have, it doesn't require as much labor as we're putting in, to cover everyone's needs. Because, have a look, most of the labor we do, most of the jobs that are existing, aren't even related to needs. A vast majority of jobs are service jobs, which is essentially getting someone else to do something for you. Like cook a meal, or clean your house, or help you pick out a new outfit.

Here is a chart from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics showing annual labor force statistics around the world from 1970-2012, where you can see that the service industry ( the dark pink) has always been the largest type of employment and has been steadily increasing, compared to industry (light blue) and agriculture (dark blue).

With the technology we have, much of human labor that is done in manufacturing isn't necessary to be done by human labor, it just is because it's cheaper for companies than investing in expensive machinery, and people are desperate to be employed to make what money they can to try to survive and eke out an existence.

I suggest to watch the documentary “Will Work for Free” as it shows quite clearly the potential of what we're facing in terms of technology replacing human labor, which shouldn't actually be a problem, but should be something we utilize to make life easier and more enjoyable for all of us here. But we've got to first sort out the point of support for all beings regardless of whether you're employed or how much you're employed. There needs to be a minimum level of support that is equal to a decent living otherwise we have problems, such as massive poverty and suffering, like we already have because of this very point. You need a job to survive, and there simply aren't enough for everyone, nor do the vast majority of the jobs that do exist, pay enough to actually live effectively.

The Living Income Guaranteed is the solution to this, as it provides that basic support for all individuals no matter what, and calls for a minimum wage for those who work that is double the amount of the basic Living Income. So that no matter what situation you are in, employed, unemployed or underemployed, you would have support for all your basic needs. And if you work, you would receive at least double that, so that you can afford some luxury in your life, as proper compensation for your time and labor. Because it does not make mathematical sense to be working day in and day out, and still be living in poverty, while your labor provides massive profits going somewhere else.

We need this kind of solution and sooner than later, because this is becoming a bigger and bigger issue that is going to more and more pressure on individuals and businesses, which can be avoided by working out this solution for support together and make as smooth transition as possible, into a country where life is actually valued and not taken advantage of for the sake of profits. Change isn't going to come by putting pressure on businesses, since they go by what the laws dictate, and that's why we have to take political action, not rebellious action, if we want to see real results. Let your politicians know that you support a Living Income.
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I have just been at the hustings for the Holyrood elections next month. What with the constituency (Edinburgh N & Leith) and the list (Lothian), there were nine candidates (ten on the ballot, but Solidarity didn't show up), frankly too many to stay interested in the question. Several of the candidates were the same as at the Westminster election last year; but not the candidates who resonated then. Of the nine, two were women, all were white, and none had any apparent disability.

There were eight questions over ninety minutes, covering:
  • tax (the dog-whistle issue in this election) - most would raise tax by 1p, except SNP, Tories and UKIP
  • what they would spend any tax raised in (frankly the much more important topic) - out of a choice of NHS, education or council services, most went for NHS, education AND council services (including the SNP, which is ironic since over the last five years the SNP have underspent the NHS budget!); the LibDem and Labour stance on using tax raising powers to invest in education are clear
  • what private members bill would they raise (the consensus seemed to be "housing")
  • what to do about Police Scotland (which is in a mess following centralisation), the consensus being localisation and local accountability (even the guy from the SNP)
  • the living wage (I was getting bored by now and didn't really pay attention)
  • tuition fees, where there was a typical left/right split - SNP, Labour, Greens and LibDems keeping universities free; Tories and UKIP wanting to introduce fees to pay for better universities. Labour, the Tories and RISE held the SNP to account on their cutting of FE college places
  • supermarkets v local shops and the use of planning rules, which I didn't really follow much
  • and the last question which I don't remember, and I left at that point anyway.

The team I play for (!), the LibDems, frankly put up a poor speaker (same candidate as last year, Martin Veart), and he didn't impress then or now. The way the election in the constituency goes, I don't think he has a chance, and I'll probably be voting tactically again. (God I hate the FPTP system.) They will get my vote for the Lothian list, where, should he not be successful in the Edinburgh Western constituency, we have a pretty strong candidate topping the list.

I was surprisingly impressed by the Labour candidate, Lesley Hinds, who is a councillor I've come across and didn't rate. She spoke with conviction, attacked the SNP government its failures over the last nine years and was the most convincing speaker.

The guy from RISE ("Respect, Independence, Socialism and Environmentalism", a left wing alliance), Calum Martin, was also rather impressive, which came as a surprise to me. (This says more about me than him.) He was articulate, had some interesting ideas, and had conviction. But probably unelectable - they're only standing on the list, so won't get my vote.

The UKIP guy was absolutely hopeless. He waffled, he deviated from the question, and I don't think he has a chance. He even lacked the charm of Coburn...

The Tory boy is also unelectable, I'd say, particularly given the disdain most people hold for the Tory government in Westminster. He held his own, but basically toed the party line.

The Green candidate, Andy Wightman, lacked the charisma of their candidate last year. They're only standing on the list, too.

The Women's Equality Party candidate, Lee Chalmers, was interesting. Another list-only party, every question was answered through the lens of equality. Which of course is why they're there, but seemed a bit limiting. Still, she said she didn't know in answer to one or two questions, which was refreshing.

The SNP candidate, Ben MacPherson, seemed to try to be contrite, but had to toe the party line. He'll probably get the constituency vote, though.

The audience was curious, as it was last year.  There was no heckling. I wanted to, but clearly felt restrained by the New Town respectability. For the first fifteen or twenty minutes there was no applause, either. We just sat politely listening. After that there was a smattering of applause, particularly for Labour, SNP and the Greens, but frankly no one seemed to be getting that excited.
          Senate Bill 236 Printer's Number 218        
An Act providing for living wage accreditation for nursing facilities and for employer responsibility penalties for nursing facilities; establishing the Employer Responsibility for Public Assistance Fund; and imposing penalties....
          European wage experts discuss the need for an EU-wide living wage        
The debate about a living wage that goes beyond the subsistence level has gained momentum recently in light of the increase in low-wage work and in-work poverty, particularly since it has become abundantly clear that the current minimum wage levels in the EU countries are not sufficient to tackle these problems.
          Not Lovin' It        
By Bill Maher

Earlier this month, hundreds of New York City fast food workers walked off their jobs and picketed in front of restaurants, demanding a living wage. All that was left inside were the customers and the rats.

It used to be that the fast food jobs were the extra jobs kids would do to earn some money for gas and weed, so they weren't using up all of Mom and Dad's. The rest of us worked the actual jobs jobs. But now the economy is such that the fast food jobs are the jobs jobs. The median age of a fast food worker is now over 28. Moms and dads, whose decent-paying jobs have been downsized or outsourced, are now working the counter at McDonald's. Full time, that's just about $16,000 a year, or just enough for you and your family to live in one of the nicer refrigerator boxes.
Last month, Senator Elizabeth Warren made the case for a living wage at a Senate committee hearing:
"If we started in 1960 and we said that as productivity goes up, that is as workers are producing more, then the minimum wage is going to go up the same. And if that were the case then the minimum wage today would be about $22 an hour. So my question is... with a minimum wage of $7.25 an hour, what happened to the other $14.75? It sure didn't go to the worker."
One fair way to narrow the wealth gap is to make the hugely profitable fast food companies pay more and profit less. When we don't force huge fast food corporations to pay a living wage, yes, their profits go up (McDonald's profits were up 130% during the recession) and their stockholders benefit -- but their employees need to go on public assistance and we, the taxpayers, end up footing the bill.

Why should I have to finance some rich prick's McDonald's Corporation stock staying at 99.34 instead of 97.86?

          Fire it up with CJ!: Desperately seeking a job and losing hope. Community college may be your answer.        
GuestDo you feel all out of options for finding a job? Maybe, you know that going back to school would help. However, you feel that you don't have the time or money to make it happen. Tune into Anne Keeney from Seattle Job's Initiative to understand the first steps toward getting the education you need and how you can move toward earning a living wage that can support you and your family.
          Less than zero: Living in the 'real world' of the Left's retreat.         
In Ontario another election season is at hand. A provincial election seems likely and municipal elections are occurring province wide. We have a bizarre situation where the Liberals are forcing the NDP to shift "left" on a number of issues like the minimum wage and now possible taxes, where "left wing" candidates for mayor in Toronto feel the need to couch policies in fundamentally reactionary anti-tax rhetoric, and where even what would a generation ago have been perceived as mildly social democratic notions like living wages, the idea of direct government intervention in the economy, new universal social programs or a comprehensive tax program to fund critically socially significant initiatives like transit, are now seen as incredibly "radical" and as hurting the "left's" chances of "winning."

But winning what, exactly?

After 25 years of constant retreat one might imagine that the left might think a new strategy is in order. Despite all the concessions to "reality" or doing what it supposedly takes to get elected, where are we? Does anyone seriously believe that we are better off than when we had an actual socialist political force in the country that advocated for demonstrably interventionist and meaningful social and economic policies?

We are in a society where poverty and inequality are at levels unparalleled in decades and where any possible or obvious solutions to deal with this are deemed to be fanciful or unrealistic. Often they are presented as if they are simply intellectual exercises that are encumbrances to supposedly "realistic" agendas aimed at making "practical change." Agendas floated by very well compensated elected politicians who, it would seem, equate what is beneficial to their careers with what is socially progressive or with what constitutes a "progressive" agenda.

The very idea of socialism has been framed as some kind of intellectual exercise that "academics" indulge in while the elected "realists" are out there getting results that never really seem to happen. "Radical" ideas are portrayed as little more than hopeless ideals that we know would be positive, but that we don't really think there is anything we can do about.

Often leftists are told in condescending ways that we have to live in the "real world."

But here is the thing. Making this political choice to get elected, and it is a choice, does have real world consequences.

When we toss aside our commitment to the idea of a society based on equality and social justice, when we abandon calling for an end to capitalism, it is not just abandoning an intellectual construct.

There are direct results that are not in anyway an abstraction.

Real people in the real world are suffering, living in or living on the edge of poverty, and facing grotesque exploitation directly due to corporations and the capitulation of the liberal left to the basic ideas of the right.

The new universal mantras of "tax relief" and "fiscal conservatism" or "responsibility" embraced by "progressives" have real world consequences that are not slogans, not ideological, but fact.

The fact is that poverty kills people and renders the idea of equality of opportunity a joke.

The fact is that millions of people are forced to work for wages that they cannot live on without assistance.

The fact is that social assistance rates are not just inadequate they are cruel.

The fact is that the minimum wage now is a poverty wage and we are about to index people into poverty under provincial plans.

The fact is that climate change may yet kill us all and we are doing next to nothing to combat the suicidal consumptive consumerism and car culture causing it.

The fact is that ideas like free education and transit will allow for far greater social inclusion and for a clearly better society.

The fact is that possible programs like Pharmacare or free dental care would make life demonstrably better for millions of people in very direct ways.

The list could go on and on.

But what it comes down to is that if we are not fighting for these things, if we are not standing up front and centre for them, they will not happen.

All the time we hear that talking about socialism and being "radical" is somehow quaint and silly while these appalling oppressions, as well as oppressions like patriarchy, colonialism, racism and homophobia endure, and while the insanity that is austerity and environmental catastrophe continue unabated.

These vicious real world cruelties and injustices happen every single day. The lack of new and serious social programs impacts the lives of real people every single day.

This is exactly why socialist ideas and leftist campaigns matter. Why they are not an intellectual exercise.

They matter because if they do not happen, these actual, real, demonstrable cruelties, injustices and oppressions that impact real people in the real world will simply continue.

It is the guaranteed outcome of not fighting for "radical" change.
          A letter to Andrea Horwath        
Dear Ms. Horwath;

Thank you for your letter to the Premier of Ontario asking her to make life in the province "more affordable, not more expensive".

It has, indeed, come to the attention of many that life for millions of people in Ontario is not affordable.

They do not make enough to make ends meet because they are not paid a living wage, the kind of living wage that would come from being paid a $14 or $15 an hour minimum wage. It is sad that no one in parliament advocates for this.

They are suffering due to inadequate social assi...stance rates across the board; rates barely raised for twenty years now while extremely well compensated politicians ignore the people made to endure nearly impossible hardship on them.

They cannot afford daycare or medications because we have cut personal taxes so much (and not just, as you imply, on the upper classes) that we have no hope of building universal Pharmacare or daycare programs. This leaves many citizens and residents of Ontario with nothing but lint in their pockets. Sadly, again, no one is advocating for universal Pharmacare or daycare.

While some advocate boutique tax cuts for "small" business and middle class homeowners, many find life unaffordable due to woefully inadequate public transit that keeps people in expensive and destructive automobiles and keeps fares too high for those without cars.

Free public transit would certainly make life more affordable. At the very least greatly expanded transit would make the lives of millions far better. It might help save the planet as well.

Strict rent controls and a public housing strategy would make life more affordable.

Lower and ultimately free tuition fees would make life more affordable. They would also greatly enhance equality of opportunity, which these days is mostly a myth.

Socializing the ownership of multinationals trying to move their factories out of the province and thereby preserving good jobs would obviously make life more affordable for the workers and communities devastated by corporate immorality and greed.

I can think of many other things that might make life more "affordable". And more just and fair. Like free summer and after school programs for kids, free educational and recreational programs for adults, stricter labour laws to prevent employer abuse of workers, laws to actually facilitate unionization or worker co-operatives and so many more.

Programs, increases and steps that, even a couple of which, would actually, truly, honestly, clearly make life more "affordable" for citizens and residents in Ontario. As well as making our society a better and far more just place to live in.

Maybe it is time to talk about a few of these ideas. To force the leaders of what we have always assumed were the parties of business, the Liberals and Conservatives, to listen and take notice. To force them to hear what a real People's Agenda would be about.

I would hope you would consider using your power to seek some of these concessions in the minority parliament and in office should you win the next election.

They would make life far more "affordable". They might even surprise you in how they could inspire the people of the province. They would also have the virtue of being the right thing to do.

All the best and In Solidarity.

          Where is the ONDP on a $14 an hour minimum wage in Ontario?         
In an election year pledge that is both a woefully insufficient step in the "right" direction and an act of supreme political cynicism, Ontario's Premier Kathleen Wynne has promised an immediate hike of the minimum wage in Ontario to $11 an hour, after having frozen it since 2010.

It is a smart move. With the likelihood of the minority parliament falling in the coming months, it is a small, token gesture toward the large numbers of citizens worried about growing inequality. It also has the virtue, from a Liberal point of view, of being small. Other than putting up the usual resistance, very few, even in the business community, have gotten, or are likely to get, too worked up about it.

In part this is due to the ongoing effort by a coalition of labour groups and community activists to get the minimum wage raised to $14 an hour, a prospect that no doubt terrifies the business class, even though it really is the bare minimum needed to live above the poverty line in centres like Toronto. No doubt they realize that $11 an hour represents a victory of sorts.

While Sid Ryan of the Ontario Federation of Labour called the Liberal proposal of tying the minimum wage in future to inflation "revolutionary in a way," this is a proposal also supported by many business groups (and had been in advance of it),  and is especially appealing in the present context of relatively low inflation and the very real possibility of future deflation. This "revolutionary" proposal may likely not lead to a $14 or $15 an hour minimum wage for a generation.

More difficult to understand, for some, is the ONDP's apparent reluctance to take a strong stand on this issue consistent with its alleged social activist and labour allies.

To date, while some of its caucus members have been slightly more outspoken, the leader driven party has not strayed from its message of boutique appeals to minor consumerist middle class issues and its pandering to the fiction of the small business "job creator." While it is true that small businesses create many jobs, it is also true, especially in the absence of an industrial or neo-industrial state job creation strategy, that the jobs they create are often not even worthy of the term "McJob." They are, overall, without any question the lowest paying jobs and rarely have any benefits of any meaning.

The ONDP also distorts what a "small business" is. When it calls for a reduction in the small business tax rate, as it does, it fails to mention that this applies only to incorporated "small" businesses, which are often not even the romanticised vision that some have of "Mom and Pop" businesspeople toiling away long hours for their "community." Many incorporated "small businesses" are professionals attempting to minimize taxes, small landlords, etc. It is a designation that is about liability and tax law; nothing else. Many, many, small retail business people, like corner store owners, small coffee shops, independent online retailers, etc., are not incorporated at all and function instead as self-employed sole proprietorships or partnerships under tax law.

Not only does the ONDP's proposed "small business" tax cut not cover them (not that they actually need a tax cut, given that round after round of personal tax cuts have them covered), the party disingenuously claims to represent them with this policy when it does not.

Never mind that despite holding the balance of power, the ONDP has done nothing to force the minimum wage issue. Horwath and the ONDP have also been working for many years, however, to distance themselves from being seen as a programmatically leftist party backing systemic changes of any meaning, and have instead focused on traditionally right wing ideas of placing emphasis on the "cost of living" in a consumerist sense as opposed to on the traditionally leftist notion of alleviating poverty and social inequality through comprehensive social programs.

An Ontario voter forwarded me a reply that he received, after emailing the office of NDP MPP Jagmeet Singh and asking him and the ONDP to support a $14 an hour minimum wage. His office wrote back:
In regards to your concerns about the minimum wage increase, we understand the frustrations of Ontarians. Families are getting squeezed, their bills are going up, fees are rising, hydro costs are skyrocketing, and families just can’t keep up. Responsible working families who work hard for forty hours a week, should not be living in poverty. Hard work and responsibility should be compensated with a fair and reasonable wage. The ONDP has a long history of working with the OFL and applaud their grass roots work to have the minimal wage increased. We look forward to seeing what they bring to the debate, as many of their previous campaigns have helped shape the growth and betterment of Ontario.
This is very telling. Among other things, it perpetuates that awful fiction of the "worthy" versus "unworthy" poor, directly implying in its language that those who are not working, for whatever reason, have been laid off, or cannot find full time work (and many workers are forced to work what are legally regarded as part-time jobs) are not "responsible." One might ask, should "irresponsible families," or, heaven forbid, people without "families," unable to find work "forty hours a week," be living in poverty?

Beyond that, in seeking to avoid answering the inquiry, which it tried very hard to do, the response focuses on "bills," "fees," "hydro costs," etc., completely disingenuously implying that these are the reasons that people are feeling the "pinch" as opposed to the fact that many in the working class, and even the middle class, are not making a living wage.

By focusing on the consumerist issues the ONDP avoid tackling the actual underpinnings of inequality and injustice; the downward pressures on wages and the lack of a forceful commitment by any political party to living wages. By implying there is a "debate" as to what the minimum wage should be, they are directly saying that business people who feel the minimum wage should be kept low have a position worthy of consideration.

All one has to do, frankly, is look at the shockingly reactionary by-election ad for ONDP candidate Wayne Gates. The video ad talks about how Tim Hudak did not do enough in the great struggle of  "rewarding job creators" and making sure slot machines stayed in race tracks! This is an interesting vision of social democracy.

Nowhere does it talk about higher wages or economic equality issues.

Horwath and the ONDP, however, has been actively courting the "905" area code suburban vote by seeking to jump on the perceived coattails of Rob Ford style right wing "pocket book" populism. Hence their fixation on consumerist issues like HST hydro cuts, auto insurance rates, opposing obviously environmentally beneficial "car taxes" and the like, while having no alternative funding visions for important social objectives like Toronto transit expansion other than vague promises about "corporations" somehow paying for it all. They will, of course, pay for nothing.

The calculation is obviously that Horwath thinks Ford still has an appeal among 905ers and that the NDP can somehow harness this. This calculation is very open for debate. What is not open for debate is that it leaves workers in low wage jobs, the Precariat, entirely out of the equation.

Minimum wage and non-"middle class" workers do not primarily need small cuts to hydro bills, auto insurance rates (if they even own a car), or to have the worst employers in the economy "rewarded" for creating bad jobs, they need higher wages, expanded and free transit, universal daycare, pharmacare, and the types of universal social programs "progressives" and social democrats once actually fought for. They need a wage and job strategy that is not centered around the economy's worst and least reliable employers, "small business."

They need active parliamentary political representation that will fight for living wages and economic justice.

          As US Inequality Breeds Oligarchy, New Report Details Pathway to Equity        
Jake Johnson, staff writer

Pervasive and growing inequality is corroding American democracy, and only ambitious solutions—including healthcare for all, a living wage, and the elimination of corporate money from the political process—will be sufficient to remedy the crisis.

          Ed Miliband: 'We got it wrong on immigration'        

Ed Miliband has told me that his party "got it wrong in a number of respects" over immigration and identified the issue as one reason the party "lost trust particularly in the south of England". However, he insisted that his friend and former speechwriter Lord Glasman was wrong to say that Labour had lied about the extent of immigration.

Ed Miliband

I travelled to Dover and Gravesend yesterday with Labour's leader - both places where Labour's vote collapsed by the end of its time in government. Asked why that had happened Mr Miliband said:

"I think the problem is that we lost trust and we lost touch particularly in the south of England. I think living standards is a big part of it, immigration is a big part too. I think maybe a combination of those two issues - most importantly."

I also asked him to respond to the comments of Maurice Glasman who he recently ennobled and who wrote in Progress magazine that "Labour lied to people about the extent of immigration and the extent of illegal immigration and there's been a massive rupture of trust."

He said:

"I don't think we lied but I do think we got it wrong in a number of respects. I think that first of all we clearly underestimated the number of people coming in from Poland and that had more of an effect therefore than we would otherwise have thought. And secondly, I think there's this really important issue about people coming into the country and the pressures on people's wages. People aren't prejudiced but people say to me look I'm worried about the pressure on my wages of people coming into this country, I'm worried about what it does to housing supply - all those issues. Now some of that is real and some of it isn't but I think you have to address not just tough immigration policy but underlying issues as well."

When I put to him Lord Glasman's suggestion that Labour had been "hostile to the English working classes" he paused and then changed the subject. My sense is that he may well share that analysis.

This is not the first occasion Ed Miliband has spoken of Labour mistakes on immigration. In his leadership campaign he spoke about the drop in people's wages due to the interaction of migration with flexible labour markets. But the timing of these comments - in the midst of an election campaign and just days after David Cameron's own pitch to limit immigration from outside the EU to the "tens of thousands" - and his unwillingness to challenge Maurice Glasman's critique makes them especially interesting.

The question is whether his promises of more training, apprenticeships and a living wage will re-connect Labour with the working class supporters who have abandoned it.


Here is the transcript of my interview with Ed Miliband:

NR: Southern seats seen massive drops in Labour support in recent years - what's the problem?

EM: I think the problem is that we lost trust and we lost touch particularly in the south of England. I think living standards is a big part of it, immigration is a big part too. I think maybe a combination of those two issues - most importantly. So that people were seeing people coming into the country, worrying about their own standards of living which weren't going up as they had been in the first part of the decade and holding us responsible for it.

NR: You mentioned immigration. A friend of yours, former speechwriter, Maurice Glasman said Labour lied to people about the extent of immigration?

EM: I don't think we lied but I do think we got it wrong in a number of respects. I think that first of all we clearly underestimated the number of people coming in from Poland and that had more of an effect therefore than we would otherwise would have thought. And secondly, I think there's this really important issue about people coming into the country and the pressures on people's wages. People aren't prejudiced but people say to me look I'm worried about the pressure on my wages of people coming into this country, I'm worried about what it does to housing supply - all those issues. Now some of that is real and some of it isn't but I think you have to address not just tough immigration policy but underlying issues as well.

NR: But as he said - and you know him well - as he said to you let's be honest about this Ed you lied about it?

EM: Well, err, the first time I saw it was when he said it - I don't think we did lie. I don't think that's the right thing to say.

NR: But did you mis-lead - if not deliberately. (EM interjects: no, no) Did people get the impression immigration was much lower than it turned out to be?

EM: Well no, I think people actually thought it was the opposite. I think what happened was that we thought there would be a certain number of people coming into the country from Poland - it turned out to be much larger - it did have an affect. And it's something I said very much during my leadership campaign. And look it's part of my leadership Nick - I'm not going to go round saying everything the last Labour government did was right - I think it was a good government, I think it made our country stronger and fairer in a number of respects but I think we got some things wrong as well.

NR: But his analysis and he used to write speeches for you - Labour were "hostile" to the English working classes - that you treated that anxiety about immigration as if sometimes it was racism or bigotry or ignorance and I sense you share a bit of that concern?

EM: Well, look I would say we, we, we did realise the scale of the problem. We talked about the points based system for immigration - we made that one of our key priorities. I think it's this mix of immigration and the impact on living standards. I think that's what.... we were still saying let's have flexible labour markets, maximum flexibility at work and that was, that was causing problems for people and that's why we need to re-think.

NR: But if your message to people is not look we don't want anybody to come to this country but we can help you in other ways what are you driving at with people? If they're saying to you we can't get jobs, I stopped a builder you passed there - we can't get jobs he said to me - I've been unemployed but I'm skilled. What is Labour saying to them if it's not saying we'll stop the immigration?

EM: Well let me give you a practical example, we said before the budget have a bankers' bonus tax and put the young unemployed back to work, get the housing industry moving, help support enterprise - practical differences, practical things that we could have done. I think the thing this government is getting wrong on immigration is that they've got big promises which I don't think are going to be matched by reality but they're not dealing with those underlying economic issues which I think caused a lot of the concern that people had.

          Black Political Conservative Confidence Man Anthony Bryan Logan Gets SERVED By Black Faced Progressive Con Man Roland Martin Yet HAS NO CLUE How His 'Deer In The Headlights' Performance AFFIRMED Roland Martin's Value To Progressive Nationalism        

WHEN YOU ENTER A DEBATE INSIDE OF A 'FRAUDULENT CONTAINER' (ex: White Police From The Police Academy Are A Greater Threat Than Are 'Street Pirates Who Are Black' Who Matriculated Through 'BLACK COMMUNITY INSTITUTIONS' Molested By American Progressive Political Opportunism') AND DON'T CONTEST THE SUPPOSITION - YOU DESERVE TO GET SERVED!!!

THE SOURCE VIDEO FROM PROCTOR AND GAMBLE (With Text Added By The YouTuber Who Posted It)

Dear Anthony Brian Logan - YOU HAVE NO CLUE.
This is why I say that "A BLACK REPUBLICAN seeks to draw BLACK AMERICANS into his PARTY - just like the BLACK DEMOCRATS who are the harvesters of PROGRESSIVE FUNDAMENTALIST NATIONALISTS".    The Black Faced Progressives are merely MORE NUMEROUS than the Black Republican Con Men.



"Roland WHY are you more appeased that BLACK PARENTS would talk to their Black kids about the THREAT FROM WHITE POLICE" just like the propagandists from the "NAACP Crisis" magazine - WHEN THE DATA SHOWS THAT Black people killed by the WHITE POLICE are taken from the 7% of the BLACK HOMICIDE VICTIM HEADCOUNT that is not included in the 93% 'STREET PIRATE WHO IS BLACK SPONSORED EXECUTION"




PandG recently built a distribution warehouse in Union City/College Park Georgia:  DID YOU CHECK TO SEE IF THEY ARE PAYING A LIVING WAGE?







  • ZONE #1 (NATIONAL - THE GRAND PRIZE FOR PROGRESSIVE NATIONALISM) - The Fraudulent "Black Lives Matter" Was ENGINEERED Upon The NATIONAL STAGE In Order To CONTROL The STRUGGLE MOTION Of The 'American Containerized Blacks' From Being Focused LOCALLY And Toward 'REST OF WORLD BLACKS'
    • Opposition To POLICE MILITERIZATION Was An EXPERT Containerization Scheme
    • The OBAMA WHITE HOUSE Needed To Walk The Fence - Attacking GOVERNMENT POLICE And Adopting The Fraudulent Term Called: "MASS INCARCERATION"  While Not Blaming BLACK (Leadership) For Being INCOMPETENT Thanks To The #1 MOLESTATION OF THE 'BLACK COMMUNITY RITES OF PASSAGE PROGAM" that every single Black American alive today WITNESSED and WENT ALONG WITH thanks to the "WE ARE IN THE WHITE HOUSE NEGROS' selling the narrative
Did You EVER hear con men in the media like ROLAND MARTIN LOOK AT THE DEAD AFRICAN BODIES that are STILL BEING CREATED TODAY - and break ranks with the official narrative?

DID YOU EVER HEAR ANY OF ROLAND MARTIN'S CRITICS after the "Umar Johnson Interview" ever break down THIS TRUTH listed above?

Did you ever hear so called "Pan Africanists" like Umar Johnson or con man Tariq Nasheed or Cynthia G - EVER DETAIL THE CONSTRUCT OF "CONTAINERIZATION" THAT ALLOWED THEM TO CONDUCT "WHITE SUPREMACY CHASING" IN AMERICA and sell "PRODUCT" - while having totally missed the MACRO-LEVEL ATTACK that was orchestrated by some force who OBSERVED BLACK AMERICANS and knew that THEY MUST BE CONTAINED - so that these GLOBAL ACTIONS could be conducted? 



  • Black Fraternities collapsed their pre-existing 'Black Male Mentorshp Programs' into this POLITICAL CALLING branded by THE BLACK PRESIDENT
    • With Obama Gone From Office - BUT THE CRISIS AMONG BLACK MALES STILL BLAZING ........notice that NONE OF THE CON MEN WHO SERVED THIS TO YOU  noticed the retirement of this scheme


  • The STAGE PERFORMANCE at the "Democratic National Convention" was the PINNACLE of the ROAD SHOW that went on during the BLACK VALUABLES HARVESTING PEAK SEASON (the American Election season)
    • WHEN THE ELECTION ENDED - SO TOO DID THIS PROPAGANDA SCHEME (or at least their prime featuring on the Joy Ann Reed / Roland Martin fraud shows



PandG Corporation IGNORED The Statistics Of BLACK HOMICIDE VECTORS And Instead Used The MARKETING STATISTICS Which Showed Them The Potential For INCREASED 'BLACK DESCENDANTS OF SLAVE' Brand Loyalty IF The Corporation ECHOED The Fraudulent "#Black Lives Matter" / "NAACP Crisis" Narrative On The Threat To BLACK LIVES

          Kids these days…Are they “interested” in their work?        
When I worked for a month at the Red Sun in 2007, I felt sympathetic for my coworkers. But it wasn’t for any material disadvantage. Afterall, they were all making a living wage. Room and board was provided by the barbershop, and therefore salary, though small, could be devoted entirely to savings, remittances, or personal […]
          Working for a Living Wage 2017        

Each year we work with the Living Wage for Families Campaign and First Call to calculate the hourly wage that would allow a two-parent family with two children to cover basic expenses. This year it's $20.62.

Read more: Working for a Living Wage 2017.

Check out #livingwage on Twitter, too!



          A living wage for Durham region        

CCPA-Ontario economist Zohra Jamasi and the Ontario Living Wage network have been integral to the calculation process for communities looking to determine the living wage for their region. Durham region's living wage is $17/hour, reported in the Toronto Star.

          Ritzy strikers close cinema again as key dates approach        
Brixton’s Ritzy cinema was closed yesterday and will be again today (5 August) as its staff continue their fight to be paid the London living wage and for sacked union […]
          Race and Minimum Wage        
It's sad that even in this day and age, a Black professor from Harvard can't unjam his own front door without being arrested. My first thought after reading the initial news reports was that if Professor Gates were white, this wouldn't have happened. Or Asian, because in American stereotypes, Asians are smart and well-behaved. But the arrest probably would have happened if he were Latino, or Middle-Eastern.

I was also troubled by the idea that the "attempted break-in" was reported by one of Prof. Gates' neighbors. Surely they should have know what he looked like.

But really, this sort of racial profiling happens all the time. Ralph Medley, a retired professor in Chicago was once arrested while performing maintenance on his own property. According to the New York Times, Blacks operate under an unwritten code in dealing with law enforcement to avoid such mis-arrests.

Many of us would like to think we've moved beyond this ugliness, particularly with the success of minorities including President Obama, Clarence Thomas, Oprah Winfrey, Carol Mosely Braun, and other visible role models. But really, they are the outliers. As a country, we create conditions that keep minorities (and women) from achieving great success. One of them has to do with income levels.

Forbes ran a piece online today with the headline "Mandating Higher Unemployment." The article argues that as minimum wages rise, companies will have to lay people off to cover the extra pay raises. It didn't matter to the author that $7.25 (the new minimum) is not a living wage anyway, and that the people who rely on that minimum wage are primarily minorities in this country, and lower-class whites. Please take a look at the author:

Bruce Bartlett is the ultimate Rich White Male. From his combover, to his power tie, to his jowls, this man is someone who has never had to worry about being mistaken for a burglar at his own home. Mr. Bartlett is writing about his views being a very well-off businessman. He is comfortable telling lower-income workers that they don't deserve to earn more, because that would mean layoffs higher up the line. Some of the reason that Mr. Bartlett doesn't want to raise minimum wage:

Minimum wage workers are not well educated. About 40% don't have a high school
diploma, and a third have only a high school education. Just 3% of those working
at the minimum wage have graduated from college.

About a fourth of those working at the minimum wage are married, and 80% of them are women. It's reasonable to assume that most have working husbands, so their earnings probably don't affect the family's standard of living very much.

So, because minimum wage people don't have great educations, they don't deserve to be paid more. Aha! And women should be just fine because they have husbands to earn the real money. What Mr. Bartlett does not point out is the overlap between these statistics and race. 17% of minimum wage earners are Black. I'm willing to bet that many more are Latino.

One of the best ways to make progress against racial prejudice is to give minorities the tools they need to advance, including education, safe, clean housing, health care, and job training. All of these things require money. Raising minimum wage is a small step forward, particularly since this isn't a very big increase. Giving people a living wage so that they can compete with the Bruce Bartlett's in the world is only fair.
          Hope You Like The Sh*t Show, Progressives - We Let It Happen.         
Every single day, the Republican Party goes further and further into far-right-wing extremism - so much more radical than it was when George W. Bush was in office that it's hard to believe. Issues that we thought had been settled long ago are now under attack all over again - a woman's right to decisions about her own body, the separation of church and state, civil rights, voting rights, care of the environment, the right of workers to organize, Social Security, even the Department of Education and public schooling. Science itself is not just questioned, but utterly denied, both by religious extremist nutjobs and corporate behemoths whose interests are threatened by facts.

Remember that there are two major lanes to this Republican Highway to Hell: Far-Right Religious Extremists (FRREs) and Big Business/Big Money Repubs (BBs). Neither of them can prevail on their own, but they both believe they can use the other to achieve their ends - and so far, they have been right. They have separate agendas, and they will ignore their differences as long as possible for the 'greater good' of Republican Party dominance. Intersecting with those two major lanes are the Tea Party nutballs and the Libertarians, who can share some values of both, but can throw a monkey wrench into the agenda of the two majors as well.

Big Business (with a few exceptions) has absolutely no interest in the religious or social agenda of the Religious Extremists, but they sure do have an interest in an obedient, cohesive voting bloc that will pour all of its unmatched organizational resources into doing the bidding of whatever leader they believe in, so they will spout whatever the religious wackos demand of them - and those demands are getting more and more extreme and dangerous all the time. What does matter to Big Business are lower taxes and de-regulation, and they are willing to promise whatever they need to in order to get them.

Another basic divide is between the Right Wing Elites and the Right Wing Populists, and this is where the Tea Partiers and Libertarians come in. Big Business is mostly about the Elites, and the FRREs mostly come down on the side of the Populists, but the BBs want the loyalty of the Populists, and the FRREs want the power of the Elites.

Tea Partiers/Libertarians are a big factor here as well - they share some values with both sides. They are Populists (some religious, some not), but they want the lower taxes, military might and de-regulation that the BB Elites want - only more, and they are willing to pull the whole structure down to get it. BB Elites have no interest in pulling down the structure. They like it just fine the way it is, because it is specifically structured to benefit them at the expense of everyone else.

These 3 Populist fringe factions (FRREs, Tea Partiers and Libertarians) are not all-powerful on their own but, put together, are such a sizable portion of the Republican Party  today that Big Business Elites and old-style conservative Republicans have had no option but to go along and make whatever 'deals with the devil' that have to be made in order to hang on to power. Being the elitists that they are, they have looked down upon those factions as useful idiots that they can placate with promises and accessions to religious and social demands that don't affect the basic financial and corporate power structure (or so they think!). They have believed up to this point that they can control those fringe elements, but in the last few election cycles the traditional leaders of the party have lost any power they have over the religious and Tea Party fanatics, and are being pushed aside. They are still getting what they want - lower taxes, military spending and de-regulation - but the price they are paying for that is a drive straight through to Crazy Town.

And this, my friends, is what has brought us to where we are today - to Donald Trump, to Dr. Ben Carson, to Carly Fiorina. To Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, Mike Huckabee. To the complete shutdown of a working government. To the eradication of the separation of church and state, and the dominance of religious belief over the rule of law, and over scientific fact. To out-of-control mass murders every few months - in the name of 'freedom'. To racism re-entrenched and intensified. To the literal destruction of the planet we live on.

We have allowed this to happen.

At some point, we - Democrats, liberals, progressives, whatever we call ourselves - must take ownership of OUR part in this.

We have not stopped them, nor have we even made any more than a token and half-hearted effort to do so.

When every few months innocent people are gunned down in mass murder-suicides, we don't stop those responsible - the gun lobby and Second-Amendment radicals who prevent any reasonable gun control legislation - any at all - from even being considered.

When union after union is shut down and neutralized, we let it happen.

When crazy laws are made like "Stand Your Ground" that allow people to murder with impunity, we let it happen.

When Wall Street and banking greed decimated the economy, and we allowed them to skate off with nary a slap on the wrist, and actually become MORE powerful, profitable and too-big-to-fail as a result, while the rest of us have yet to recover from the damage they inflicted, we let it happen.

When there are so few elected officials who stand up for real progressive values - and, don't lie; these ARE the values that most of us believe in - that you can count them on one hand, it's because we aren't electing them.

When institutionalized racism and white privilege is the norm, we are not challenging it.

What Bernie Sanders is saying is absolutely true.

We need nothing less than a political revolution.

What we are up against is too strong to change with a few rallies, slogans and Facebook posts.

It is going to take a real political revolution. From the ground up - from us. From all the people who have watched this happen. Standing by and hoping that our politicians will change this will not work. Expecting that if we deal fairly and respectfully with Republicans, they will meet us halfway will not work. It hasn't so far.

I have been afraid for a long time that things will have to get terribly bad before people will demand a change. This is what happened during the Great Depression. It took people literally starving in the streets for an FDR to be able to implement something as radical as the New Deal. Republicans fought against it tooth and nail, of course, but the public embraced it and those policies got us out of the Depression and gave us the strongest, biggest middle class America has ever known - the very era that conservatives think of as 'the good old days when America was great', and say they want back, but their policies have destroyed.

But without the devastation of the Great Depression, there would not have been the public will for the New Deal to happen.

So I fear that things may have to get worse.

Yes, I am supporting Bernie Sanders. I am sending him money. But, as Noam Chomsky says, Bernie Sanders cannot save America. Only a true political revolution can do that. Only a willingness to stand up and confront these Republican bullies toe-to-toe, which up till now the Democrats have not done. But they won't do it without the American people demanding that they do so. That was the first thing President Obama said when he got into office: "Make me do it." Mostly, we didn't.

Until the American people say, "F*ck you, NRA. You're not killing our children any more."

Until the American people say, "F*ck you, radical "religious" Republicans - we're keeping Planned Parenthood and giving them even more money because women have a right to affordable health care and you don't have the right to deny it to them."

Until the American people say, "F*ck you, for-profit prison industry - you are not going to get rich by destroying the lives of Black Americans to fill your occupancy quotas."

Until the American people say, "F*ck you, Wall Street and Big Finance - if you steal from us, you will pay us back AND go to jail."

Until the American people say, "F*ck you, greedy Congress - full-time work should pay a living wage. Don't deny us that and at the same time vote yourself pay raises, gold-plated health care and fat pensions."

Until the American people say, "F*ck you, corporate lobbyists - our government is not for sale. We will finance campaigns, not you."

Until the American people say, "F*ck you, Supreme Court - money is NOT free speech and corporations are NOT humans."

Until the American people stand up, say it and mean it, nothing is going to change.

So, until then, progressives - enjoy the show. Because we can't just blame the Republicans. It's OUR show, too.
          Yes, I am #FeelingTheBern.        
OK. Let me start by saying I love Bernie Sanders, and have for many years, long before he was on most people's radar. He stands for my values and the issues I think are important, and he always has. He has never been anything less than authentic, passionate and committed to liberal values.

However, when people would ask me what I thought about Bernie running for President, I was ambivalent. He is so effective as a Senator and a member of Congress, and I was afraid that with the political climate the way it is, that he would not get very far. I wasn't sure that America was ready for Bernie's message, even though I have been for a long time.

But, I have to say, I'm really excited about how America is responding to Bernie. He is bringing it like no one else. Whatever happens, he is getting the progressive message - the REAL progressive message - out there, without apology, without compromise, without fear. He truly is speaking for working people, for poor people, for social justice, for civil rights, for a fair and living wage, for real democracy for all of us, not just for the richest among us.

Click here for more about Bernie!

This is what I have wanted to hear from a Democrat for years - really, all my life -  and had just about given up hope that it would ever happen. And, unlike most politicians, he's not just saying what he thinks will get him elected - this kind of talk is not what passes for 'conventional political wisdom'; it's the exact opposite. He is saying what he has been saying all along, and his record shows that he is not just saying it but doing it. He is calling for real political revolution - and Americans are hearing him. If he is courageous enough to get out there and say what no one else - not Republicans, not even other Democrats - will say, then he has my support all the way.

I'm volunteering, I'm contributing, and I will be writing and talking. I'm ready for the revolution.

So - yes, I ‪#‎FeelTheBern‬. ‪#‎BernieSanders‬ ‪#‎Bernie2016‬

          ABN AMRO a human rights and transparency leader, says VBDO        
VBDO, the Dutch Association of Investors for Sustainable Development, has just completed its annual investigation into the sustainability performance of 38 Dutch listed companies. The results have been published in its research report Sustainability Performance of Dutch Stock Listed Companies: Walk the Talk. The research, based on companies’ annual reports and questions posed at their Annual General Meetings, focused on three themes: living wages, natural capital and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
          Reply #104        
Yeah I get the capitalism part and they are free to make as much as they want to but at who's expense? Why wont they make it here where they sell the majority of it? Is it because they dont want to pay a decent living wage? Why? Because it cuts into profit that's why, Is it because they dont want to pay health insurance? Why Because it cuts into their profit that's why. Why as Americans who live here and were born here, why do we have to settle for less? They raise prices on everything but peopl... [ More ]
          Reply #45        
Yeah that is horrible... healthcare people can afford. What's wrong with America?? We want a decent living wage so we dont have to be on welfare, healhcare so when we get sick we wont have insurmountable debt, and to be able to save for our kids future and our retirement. We are just too greedy. We just need to be more compassionate to these big coroprations who want to make billions of dollars, and not pay us any of the above, cause we wouldnt work as hard if it actually paid off
          Pay close attention to your body language        
UP TO 30,000 jobs in the learning disability sector could be at risk in the next four years, a charity has warned. In a report entitled It Doesn’t Add Up: The financial crisis crippling the social care sector, the learning disabilities charity Hft says the rising cost of adult social care services means providers are facing increasing financial pressures. Among growing costs, it cites the National Living Wage (NLW) which will add £460m to wage bills in the learning disability sector by 2020. Because the social care sector has the highest proportion of staff aged over 25, it will more adversely affected by the NLW. Robert Longley-Cook, Hft chief executive, said: “Hft wholeheartedly supports the introduction of the NLW. However we have grave concerns about its implementation at local and Westminster level. The social care sector is facing increasing demands. This situation is simply unsustainable.” The charity is looking for a five per cent increase in funding per year for the social care sector until 2020. Hft carried out the research in conjunction with the Centre for Economics and Business
          Chocolate Giveaway: Theo Clusters        
Oh my goodness. The lovely folks at Seattle chocolate masters, Theo, are providing a cluster of goodies for three Cookus Interruptus subscribers. Reminder: Theo Chocolate is dedicated to Using only pure ingredients that are grown sustainably. We source our ingredients locally whenever possible. Partnering with our growers by ensuring they earn a living wage and […]
          Brexit: it's not about the prices        

If the remainers have to put up with being undermined by Tony Blair, they at least have the consolation that leavers have to suffer the crass behaviour of the "Leave Means Leave" and their attempts to bring about a "plane crash" Brexit.

Clearly not having caught up with the idea that we have won the referendum though, they are still fighting the battle. And their latest stunt is to have The Sun announce: "Brexit to chop food bills", while having Owen Paterson claiming in the Sunday Telegraph that: "Brexit will cut shopping bills by £300 a year".

The real detail comes in The Sun, though, where the graphic (above) illustrates a number of foods and beverages, each with the current "EU price" and the supposed lower "new price" that we will be paying after Brexit. 

For a start, the prices are meaningless. The figure "EU price" for 250gm of butter, for instance, is cited at £1.50, while the "new price" is £1.10. Yet, go to the Morrisons website and the price is £1.08 – without having to wait to leave. The "EU price" of 300gm of bacon is £2.00, against a "new price" of £1.86, but Morrisons offers Â£1.84 a pack, or two for £3.00. 

Fresh prawns are also on the list. The "EU price" for 165gm is £3.00, with the "new price" at £2.64. This time, Tesco comes to the rescue, with £2.25 for 250gm, equivalent to £1.49 for 165gm. In all three of these cases, shopping around delivers more benefits than Brexit. 

That is not the case, though, with bananas. For a bunch of five (notionally one kilo), the "EU price" is 65p. The "new price" is 55p, giving a differential of ten pence. Yet, such is price volatility of this commodity, that Tesco wants 80p. 

The reason for the 10p discrepancy, we are told, is that after Brexit a tariff on non-EU goods will no longer apply. Cumulatively, removing tariffs could save us "up to £300" on the annual shopping for a family. 

But saving ten pence on a bunch of bananas it not something we want to do – not when you understandthe story which goes back to the "banana wars" and the decision in 2009 when the EU agreed to cut tariffs to €114/tonne by 2017. That works out (at current exchange rates) at 9.8p per kilo. 

The point is that the tariff only applies to MFN bananas (mostly Latin American) – about two-thirds of our imports. Bananas from African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries come into the EU tariff-free. Yet, on the supermarket shelves, there is rarely any price differential. 

The reason for that is, as Joanna Blythman explains, that Latin American bananas are cheaper to produce. But this is not for any good reason. They are typically grown on huge plantations owned by transnational fruit exporting companies, or their satellites. Writes Blythman:
the natural landscape will have been flattened to allow for intensive banana cultivation stretching as far as the eye can see. These vast acreages are heavily treated with pesticides, usually by aerial spraying. This is why, in Latin America, the banana is often referred to as "the chemical fruit".

The workers generally live either in lamentable shanty accommodation on site or are bussed in great distances to work a long and punishing day. Paid piece rates, they have to work themselves into the ground to make a living wage.
ACP bananas, on the other hand, tend to be grown by artisan farmers. The communities which depend on them – mainly in the Caribbean – are fragile, and lack resilience. The tariffs offset the worst effects of a historical dependence that needs more time to remedy. 

In this context, even those opposed to tariffs would agree that their precipitate removal would do incalculable harm. It would not be in the UK interest to remove them for the time being – and nor would it be wise to settle on a defined end point. 

That said, as Blythman also wrote, the current price of bananas is scandalously low. Retail prices bear little relation to the cost of production, and are more a reflection on supermarket purchasing power. 

In 2014, you could buy a kilo of bananas for about 68p. Back in 2002 that same bunch would have cost £1.08, 59 percent more. If banana price inflation had kept up with the pace of Mars bars, the fruit would have cost £2.60 a kilo in 2014. Two years later, The Sun has the price at 65p. 

It yesterday's price of 80p holds, it will represents an overdue price adjustment which needs to go much further before sustainable prices are being paid. To argue that, because of Brexit, we will see – or want to see - cheaper bananas is beyond absurd. 

Never let it be said, though, that the Leave Means Leave can't outdo its own stupidity. For this, it picks up on the featured product: lamb chops. These it will have us buy for an "EU price" of £5.00, while the "new price" is £3.35. 

In my survey, the Asda price was £6.00. Tesco came in at £5.50. But the post-Brexit price will be nowhere near £3.35. To get this fictional price, we can see what Leave Means Leave has done. They've applied the third country tariff rate which currently stands at 12.8 percent plus €311.80 per 100 kilos. That is roughly equivalent to a 50 percent tariff. Deduct that from £5.00 and you get your £3.35 (rounded down). 

The thing is, nobody pays this. The countries which export to the EU all have tariff-free quotas. This includes New Zealand, with the largest, at 228,254 tonnes annually – which goes mainly to the UK. Supply exceeds demand, so the quota is unfilled unfilled each year, with New Zealand only taking up 76 percent of its allowance in 2015. Non-quota lamb is so uncompetitive that virtually all sheep meat is sold through the quota. 

What that amounts to is that almost all the lamb sold on the UK market, which is over 90 percent self-sufficient, is quota-free. Post Brexit, prices would only drop if exports to the EU were blocked, diverting export product to the home market and triggering a collapse. 

Clearly, this would only be temporary, but the effect on UK farming - and the countryside, which relies on its "living lawnmowers" to keep vegetation in check – would be drastic and long-lasting. A short-term consumer gain is hardly a welcome benefit, and not one to attribute to Brexit. 

Moving on from lamb, we next find that the "EU price" for lettuce is £1.25, while the post-Brexit price would be £1.12. The question here is why would there be any saving? And the answer is: there isn't.Leave Means Leave have played the same trick that they used with lamb. 

They have taken a 10.4 percent tariff and applied it to total sales. But roughly 55 percent of fresh vegetable consumption is home produced and tariff-free. Of the imports, over 80 percent come from EU Member States, mainly Spain and the Netherlands. They are also tariff-free. 

What is more, most supplies from the rest of the world are currently tariff-free. Thus, the vast majority of fresh vegetables (over 95 percent) attract no tariff at all. The difference, pre- and post-Brexit is hardly measurable – there are no savings to be had. 

If post-Brexit, we impose tariffs on EU produce, prices might actually go up 4-5 percent. But that notwithstanding, after the recent shortage of lettuces when prices soared, levels have now stabilised. A head lettuce can be bought from Tesco for 40p. 

Incidentally, we see a similar tariff dynamic with bacon. We are 55 percent self-sufficient in pig meat (which includes bacon and cured products). The balance is imported mainly from Denmark and Holland. Additional supplies come from Germany, Ireland, France, Spain, Belgium and Poland – all of it tariff-free. Since we pay virtually nothing now, there is virtually nothing to save, post-Brexit. 

It would now be tedious to go though the whole list, just to illustrate how untenable the claim is. But it's intriguing to see the "EU price" for 200gm of carrots reported at 90p, and the "new price" at 78p, when you can have 1Kg from Aldi for 43p, the equivalent 200gm price being 9p. Leaving the EU suddenly doesn't look so terribly exciting, if you're only doing it for the money. 

Some of the entries in any case look rather silly. We are told to consider that the "EU price" of a 75cl bottle of white wine is £5.75, which will drop, post-Brexit to £5.54. But since we pay no tariffs on wines from EU Member States, there will be no difference (one assumes) if we keep buying wines from that source. 

Tariffs on wines, when levied, are charged as a rate per hectolitre. The standard plonk is charged at £117.72 per hl – roughly equivalent to 16p a bottle. The strongest wines can go up to 28p. Theoretically, for many non-EU brands, tariffs will be dropped post-Brexit. Amongst other things, it is reported, that means Brexit will bring flood of cheap Aussie wine to the UK. 

However, one can already acquire a tolerable Australian Chardonnay from Asda for £1.75 a bottle. Even if 16p was shaved of the import price, we would probably see no difference on the supermarket shelves. The cost saving would be absorbed.

Nevertheless, we're told that a 75cl Prosecco bottle has an "EU price" of £7.00. Post-Brexit, it is supposed to drop to £6.80. But once again, a notional tariff is being deducted, despite the fact that we're not paying anything on an Italian sparkling wine with GI status. 

This, of course, is the product that the foreign secretary picked on when he said that Italy would sell less to the UK if the EU did not allow Britain to remain in the Single Market. But if we don't want to stay in the Single Market, one presumes there will certainly be no drop in price, post Brexit. 

That notwithstanding, while Leave Means Leave might want us to pay £7.00 a bottle, Sainsbury's are selling it at the equivalent of £6.00. 

Summing up, the saving from Brexit are being over-stated, and what little can be saved is only a fraction of what most households could save by shopping around. Leave Means Leave's strawberries, with an "EU price" for 400gm of £2.75 and £2.44 "new price", can be bought from Sainsbury's at £2.00. Morrisons sell for the same price, or two packs for £3.00. And the list goes on. 

If you can't afford the luxury of branded products, you can go own-label. A 500gm pack of ketchup costs £1.75. The "new price" is £1.57. But 550gm of Tesco brand ketchup will set you back 63p. Alternatively, you can bulk up. A 2.5Kg bag of washed Maris Piper potatoes costs £2.00. Unwashed, the unit price halves, when bought in quantities of 12.5Kg. 

That apart, shoppers will tell you that prices are going up across the board. Furthermore, pack sizes are shrinking, concealing the scale of the increases. Tiny savings from tariffs are dwarfed by the loss in the value of sterling. It really is not sensible to make such claims about minuscule tariff savings when the overall price trend is upwards and everyone knows it. More to the point, we did not vote for Brexit because we wanted to save a few pence on the food bill. 

In the real world, the survival of the farming industry is much more important. And there is somethingLeave Means Leave needs to get stuck into. It has been learned that the government has commissioned no research in the past six months to inform agricultural policy once the UK leaves the EU. It hasn't a clue where it is going, or what it needs to achieve. 

Messing about with stories about non-existent savings, therefore, is an unwelcome distraction, a waste of everybody's time when the main issues are being missed.
          Household Budgeting        
Kid and I are dramatically better off now than we were a year ago, 2 years ago, 5 years ago. But that doesn't mean we've joined the ranks of the middling middles. This is what the budget of a super thrifty, lucky small family looks like.

I make almost 200% of the 2012 poverty guidelines before taxes, etc. Of course Seattle is a bit more expensive than some small town in a red state. I do not make what is considered to be a living wage in Washington state.

My largest monthly expense is rent. I live in what would be called a rent stabilized building, so I actually pay about what is calculated in that chart for a 2 bedroom apartment. I've been doing some searching for a friend who is looking for a place and I am seeing rents nearly double what I pay for a 2 bedroom. Rooms in shared housing go for what I pay in rent. The trade off is that we have tiny tiny bedrooms and my laundry gets swiped out of the laundry room pretty frequently. I pay about 38% of my income in housing.

The next biggest expense I have is healthcare. I have awesome healthcare. It covers damn near everything. But it ain't cheap. My employer pays the entire premium cost for me (about $1200 per month) but I pay to have the Kid on the plan. ($440 per month). Then there's prescriptions, co-pays, deductibles, co-insurance, etc. All in all I pay about $650 a month, or about 27% of my income.

That's 65% of my total gross income.

The next biggest expense is food. I have a teenage boy. In my best budgeting months, I spend about $500 on groceries. When I am less careful and we eat takeout, I spend more. But we'll pretend I am a perfect human being who never screws up the budget by ordering takeout 3 nights in a row. So let's call food 20% of the budget.

Taxes are another 10%.

Transportation is about 4%. So is my cell phone. Kid's cell phone and home internet are about  3%.

That's 106%.

It is only possible for us to live IF I get child support. That's where the extra 6% plus clothes, entertainment, etc. comes from. And in the months that we don't get child support, the tiny savings account I funded with my tax return gets hit. It's only June and I've already blown through 3/4s of it.

But I'm lucky. I have a full time job with benefits. I live in affordable housing. I have a cheap, short commute on public transportation so I don't need a car. I have a boyfriend who doesn't mind that I pay what I can when we go out (which isn't much. Our last trip to Canada cost me $30) so I am not devoid of joy and fun.

But I'll never be able to retire, or move, or help the Kid pay for college. Or get him the braces he desperately needs, or fix my own teeth. 

I live in fear of premium increases, rent increases, cost of food going up, unemployment, loss of health insurance, working until I die at my desk.

If my wages kept up with productivity, I'd be making over 50k. If I got a living wage, I wouldn't have to blow through my savings when child support didn't come. I might even be able to increase my savings account balance. If there was a living wage law and I got paid at the same percentage above minimum wage that I get now, I'd make $52,000 a year. That's retirement/braces/savings account/ college/ etc.

That's where it all goes, and that what is missing.

          8 Ball Respond to London’s Mayor Increasing the Living Wage with Special T-Shirt        

8 Ball have launched a t-shirt to celebrate London Mayor Boris Johnson’s announcement to increase the living wage in both the Capital and Nationwide.

(PRWeb November 16, 2012)

Read the full story at

          Our intern programme        


Morna Cook - Director of Human Recources, Universal Music UK

It was fantastic to see our internship scheme featured on Newsnight on Tuesday after Nick Clegg’s speech on helping young people from a range of backgrounds get career opportunities. At Universal we’re really proud of our paid internship scheme; we believe it benefits not only interns but the whole company.

At the moment we have a number of interns working across all areas of the company – from labels’ A&R, marketing and digital departments, through to consumer insight, creative strategy and finance. Everyone does an element of admin but we work hard to give everyone the chance to make an impact and be a valued part of the business. Our internships last for a year, which ensures each individual gets the opportunity to gain hands on experience, become involved in real projects and is given the training, development and encouragement needed to succeed.

We pay everyone who joins us above the national minimum wage and in line with the London Living wage. It’s only fair that they are paid for the work they do. Most importantly it also means that anyone can apply, not just those who live in London or can afford to work for free – we’re a diverse business and it’s important that’s reflected in the people who work for us.

At the end of the internship our aim is that all of our interns will have new skills, valuable experience and an idea of what working in a creative industry is really like. We can’t promise there’s a permanent job at the end of the scheme for everyone, however, there are a great number of employees at all levels at Universal who started out as interns.

If you’d like to apply for one of our internships, visit our recruitment pages.

Good luck!

          Comment on Solar Jobs Are Increasing While Jobs In Coal Mining Continue To Fall In Appalachia by kevin mccune        
The King is dead , "Long live the King". Coal brings back found memories from childhood , that being said , let it reside in the micro forges of Blacksmiths in reenactments. People from Appalachia are no stranger to traveling where the work is , work is simply put , scarce in WVa , one reason for this is the high cost of labor.( the Unions expected Mr .Peabody and whomever , to pay a living wage and frankly most company owners do not want to pay a decent wage) one mantra I was told ," The trouble is , there is always some poor hungry bastard , that will do your job , for what you are getting" {This same company has had trouble getting help , till they upped the ante}
          Kingsley House Letter to the Editor: All Employers in New Orleans Should Commit to a Living Wage        

We wish to express our sincere thanks to the New Orleans City Council and especially Councilmember Jared Brossett for his leadership in authoring and ensuring the passage of living wage ordinance. This is vitally important to our city, and especially for the economically challenged children, families and seniors we serve at Kingsley House. Passage of…

The post Kingsley House Letter to the Editor: All Employers in New Orleans Should Commit to a Living Wage appeared first on Kingsley House.

          East Yorkshire a living wage blackspot area        
EAST Yorkshire is one of the worst places in the region for low-paid jobs, new figures reveal.
          York fares well in Living Wages league        
YORK has one of the highest proportion of jobs paying the Living Wage in Yorkshire and the Humber, figures from union GMB reveal, but a stark gender divide remains.
          Living Wage for Yorkshire Water staff        
YORKSHIRE Water and parent company Kelda has received formal Living Wage Foundation accreditation.
          The Fox Sports 1 Isn’t Fox News Edition        
Stefan Fatsis, Josh Levin, and guest panelist Jane Coaston discuss the weekend's NCAA tournament storylines and the U.S. women’s hockey team’s boycott. Ben Mathis-Lilley also joins to talk about his Slate article on Jamie Horowitz and Fox Sports 1.

NCAA Tournament (2:51): Analyzing the weekend’s thrilling buzzer-beaters, the value of one-and-done programs, and the endearing imperfections of college basketball games.

 U.S. Women’s Hockey (17:26): Breaking down the debate over Team USA’s decision to boycott this week’s IIHF World Championships as part of their fight for equitable treatment and a living wage. 

Fox Sports 1 (27:57): Will Jamie Horowitz’s cable network succeed in his mission to revolutionize sports media one hot take at a take? Ben Mathis-Lilley joins the show to talk about his story on Fox Sports 1.

Show notes at 
          Indigo Herbs Visits Parliament to Advocate For The Living Wage        

Indigo Herbs is proud to be celebrating Living Wage Week 2015 by attending parliament and meeting with MP's in order to advocate for The Living Wage for all.

          Cut & Paste: Artists to St. Louis’ next mayor: Show us the money and the love        
When St. Louis’ next mayor takes office, local artists will be waiting. They’ve got a list of things they want the mayor — likely Lyda Krewson — to do in support of the arts. They presented their ideas to mayoral candidates in a recent forum presented by Citizen Artist St. Louis. Their goals include a living wage, more artists at the table when economic development plans are decided and recognition of artists’ economic contributions. In our latest Cut & Paste arts and culture podcast, we talk with local artists about their expectations as voters and constituents, as well as creative professionals. Here’s some of what you’ll hear in the podcast: Artist MK Stallings, on the city’s priorities: “The city of St. Louis does a great job of getting behind its sports franchises and things of that nature but I don’t really see the city of St. Louis doing much to support the arts. Artist/activist De Nichols, about the impact of the arts: “The arts generate so much economic opportunity within
          Who's ahead in Te Tai Hauāuru?         
Chris McKenzie: the front runner in Te Tai Hauauru

It seems we have a new front runner in Te Tai Hauāuru. Via the Whanganui Chronicle

“The race for Te Tai Hauāuru is as close as predicted with the Māori Party's Chris McKenzie holding a slim three-point lead over Labour rival Adrian Rurawhe. 
A Māori TV/ Reid Research poll released on Wednesday had Mr McKenzie on 32 per cent with Mr Rurawhe on 29 per cent, the Greens' Jack McDonald on 11 per cent and the Mana Movement's Jordan Winiata on 10 per cent - impressive given that he had only been in the race for one week”.

I’m told this reflects the Māori Party’s internal polling. I’m also told it’s difficult to poll at the electorate level, doubly so in the Māori electorates. For that reason, we should treat the poll as indicative, not definitive. In any event the gap between the two front runners is within the margin of error (5%).

But on the strength of the Native Affairs debate last week, Chris McKenzie deserves to lead. I called the debate for Jack Tautokai McDonald – I’m hopelessly biased, granted – but Jack is only after the party vote. Thus, between those who are running for the electorate vote and the party vote, the winner was Chris McKenzie. He was in command of his policies and his facts. More so than Adrian Rurawhe and Jordan Winiata who, it should be noted, were both strong, but there were two professional politicians at the podium: Jack and Chris. As talented as Adrian and Jordan are, they were clearly a cut below the more experienced candidates. 

Not that the debate will change much, other than the respective campaign teams. This is where Adrian’s advantage lies. He has the stronger campaign team (like the formidable Gaylene Nepia). One shouldn’t underestimate the advantage of institutional support too. Drawing on the Labour Party’s campaign knowledge is an advantage, as is the brand bump from standing on the Labour ticket. If the trend continues, the Māori Party candidates will suffer from a brand slump ("a vote for the Māori Party is a vote for National" etc…).

But Chris has a secret weapon too: Tariana Turia. Her endorsement and support might be enough to hold the electorate. However, Ken Mair made an important point last year - "we aren’t looking for a candidate to fill Tariana’s shoes. We are looking for a candidate to carve a new path". I agree with that in one sense - the challenge is not to succeed Tariana the person (though I still think succession politics is relevant). Instead Chris must frame himself as the successor to Tariana’s legacy. That is, the successor to kaupapa Māori politics. 

So, in that light, who holds the advantage? Probably Adrian. As attractive as I find the philosophical and practical argument – that Chris is needed to protect kaupapa Māori politics – Adrian’s position is much stronger. Material needs trump and, on that one count, Labour is in a better policy position

Kiwibuild; KiwiAssure; Kiwisaver; NZ Power; the Economic Upgrade; extending ECE; restoring adult and community education; Māori trade training; the living wage in the public sector and $16.25 minimum wage; forestry and wood products policy; food in schools; subsidizing school donations and free tablets; bowel screening; free dental care; GP visits and prescriptions for pregnant women; healthy homes guarantee; manufacturing upgrade. The list really does go on.  

Labour's position is more comprehensive than the Māori Party. Few voters will know the details, but many will know intuitively that a Labour-led government is in a better position to meet Māori needs than the Māori Party within a National-led government. Now that's a very powerful narrative. 

          qotd: Labor Day message        
The Orange County Register
August 21, 2016
Clovis' teachers benefit from union gains

Re: "On teacher freedom, Clovis sets an example for California" [Opinion, Aug. 18]:

Kudos to the school teachers and administrators in Clovis. However, I disagree that the unions have played no role in their success.

People need to be compensated financially for their work and level of expertise. The teachers union has been key in obtaining adequate pay for its members. If Clovis paid salaries less than surrounding unionized communities, they would not be able to recruit qualified teachers.

Thus, the Clovis teachers reap the benefits without contributing their fair share financially to the process.

-Sandra McCanne, San Juan Capistrano


Economic Policy Institute
August 30, 2016
Union decline lowers wages of nonunion workers
The overlooked reason why wages are stuck and inequality is growing
By Jake Rosenfeld, Patrick Denice, and Jennifer Laird

Pay for private-sector workers has barely budged over the past three and a half decades. In fact, for men in the private sector who lack a college degree and do not belong to a labor union, real wages today are substantially lower than they were in the late 1970s.

Unions, especially in industries and regions where they are strong, help boost the wages of all workers by establishing pay and benefit standards that many nonunion firms adopt. But this union boost to nonunion pay has weakened as the share of private-sector workers in a union has fallen from 1 in 3 in the 1950s to about 1 in 20 today.

The impact of the erosion of unions on the wages of both union and nonunion workers is likely the largest single factor underlying wage stagnation and wage inequality.


The Nation
September 4, 2016
Donald Trump Is the Anti–Labor Day Candidate: Running Against Fair Wages, Worker Rights, and Unions
By John Nichols

Donald Trump, the billionaire candidate who has argued that "having a low minimum wage is not a bad thing for this country" and complained in a 2015 GOP debate that wages are "too high," is running for president this fall on the most virulently anti-worker and anti-union platform in the history of his Republican Party.

Trump's decision to make fiercely anti-union Indiana Governor Mike Pence his running mate should be read as another signal that the Republican presidential nominee is prepared to steer federal policy making toward the disastrous approaches of dogmatic governors such as Pence and Wisconsin's Walker.

Trump and the anti-labor partisans who nominated him for the presidency have rejected the legacy of a Grand Old Party that once cheered when Abraham Lincoln declared: "Labor is prior to and independent of capital. Capital is only the fruit of labor, and could never have existed if labor had not first existed. Labor is the superior of capital, and deserves much the higher consideration."

Dwight Eisenhower warned, as a Republican president, about politicians "who hold some foolish dream of spinning the clock back to days when unorganized labor was a huddled, almost helpless mass."

"Only a handful of unreconstructed reactionaries harbor the ugly thought of breaking unions," Eisenhower argued in the prosperous 1950s.


Comment by Don McCanne

Labor Day seems to be an opportune time to step back and take a look at how today's labor force is faring.

Wages are stagnant. The income and wealth inequality gap has increased in recent decades. Financial hardship is rampant. This has coincided with the suppression of unions and their bargaining power.

In the past, workers who were not members of unions have benefited from the higher standards for all workers that union negotiation had achieved. The study by the Economic Policy Institute demonstrates that the decline in unions coincides with a negative impact on the wages of all workers, union or not.

Unions have also fought for health benefits for their members, and that led to employer sponsored plans covering more Americans, union or not, than any other public or private health program. But that still left many out. With the decline in union power, the nation has turned to the Affordable Care Act to try to fill the void, but that has fallen short as well.

Unfortunately, the problem is political, but it need not be so. The Republican party has traditionally supported America's workers, and they can do so again, although they seem to be missing the opportunity in this election year.

Just as union support for living wages improves incomes for all workers, their support for health care would do the same. But they do need to redirect their support away from the current fragmented system that leaves so many uninsured and underinsured, and move towards a system that would work for everyone: a single payer national health program - an improved Medicare for all.

(A personal note:  I'm especially proud of Sandy, my bride of 56 years who, without my prompting, wrote the above letter to the libertarian Orange County Register, letting them know that celebrating free riders stains the concept of freedom.)

Physicians for a National Health Program is a nonpartisan educational organization. It neither supports nor opposes any political party or candidate for public office.

          â€“ 7.5% in Poplar and Limehouse paid below the minimum wage        

New analysis by the TUC reveals today that in some parts of the UK, less than half of jobs pay workers the Living Wage. Nationally, one in five jobs pays under the Living Wage, but the TUC finds that some … Continued

The post – 7.5% in Poplar and Limehouse paid below the minimum wage appeared first on The Muslim News.

          Pay close attention to your body language        
UP TO 30,000 jobs in the learning disability sector could be at risk in the next four years, a charity has warned. In a report entitled It Doesn’t Add Up: The financial crisis crippling the social care sector, the learning disabilities charity Hft says the rising cost of adult social care services means providers are facing increasing financial pressures. Among growing costs, it cites the National Living Wage (NLW) which will add £460m to wage bills in the learning disability sector by 2020. Because the social care sector has the highest proportion of staff aged over 25, it will more adversely affected by the NLW. Robert Longley-Cook, Hft chief executive, said: “Hft wholeheartedly supports the introduction of the NLW. However we have grave concerns about its implementation at local and Westminster level. The social care sector is facing increasing demands. This situation is simply unsustainable.” The charity is looking for a five per cent increase in funding per year for the social care sector until 2020. Hft carried out the research in conjunction with the Centre for Economics and Business
          "Fugitive Denim": Casual Day from a Global Perspective        

Fugitive Denim book jacketA world-renowned fashion designer starts out to make a "green" line of denim wear, using organic cotton, paying living wages to the growers, cutters, and seamstresses who all have a hand in bringing the product to market.  Can it be done?

To answer that question author Rachel Louise Snyder travels everywhere from Azerbaijan to Guatemala and many places between examining the history and current state of the place of cotton in world culture.  

While her writing isn't as incisive as John McPhee's, the style of the book reminds me of McPhee's because she approaches her subject most successfully by introducing us to the people whose lives are wrapped up in it.  There's Rogan Gregory, the fashion designer with the dream of greening a very dirty and exploitative industry; Mehman Husseinov, the Azerbaijani cotton grader who can tell by feel what kind of quality cotton he's holding; and a host of others all made fully human through Snyder's deft narrative.

The facts about cotton - well footnoted, incidentally - never cease to inform and surprise.  For instance, did you know that a foot of cotton thread may contain cotton fibers from as many as seven or eight different countries?  No, neither did I.

You'll never think the same way about buying and wearing blue jeans again, and will come away with a new appreciation of the dumbfounding complexity of the global economy.

Click here to open a new window allowing you to purchase this title from Amazon to benefit the Public Library Friends.
Click here to see the catalog record for this book - also in a new window. 


          Message delivered: No more toxic 'taters        

McDonald’s held its annual general meeting (AGM) last Thursday. If shareholders wanted a quiet meeting, they sure didn't get it! The company’s headquarters in Oak Brook, Illinois, was packed: 2,000 fast-food workers, clergy, parents and food system activists poured into town with a thing or two to say to McDonald’s.

The Minnesota-based Toxic Taters Coalition — a longtime partner of PAN — was one of several groups with a message to deliver to the fast-food giant. Toxic Taters delivered a petition with more than 20,000 signatures, calling on McDonald’s to cut pesticide use on potatoes, work with a third party certifier to transition to sustainable practices, increase transparency about pesticide use and fund a public health study in areas impacted by potato production.

In the midst of campaigns calling for a living wage, the right to organize in the workplace and a halt to McDonald’s advertising to kids, the Toxic Taters Coalition adds an important piece of the story. As McDonald’s is challenged by the public to step up on multiple fronts, the company is leaning heavily on messaging about sustainability to buoy its brand.

While Toxic Taters has high hopes about McDonald’s capacity to shift the market, we’re also here to remind the public that McDonald’s has to make good on past promises if it hopes to earn credibility. 

Potatoes missing in the mix

In late April, McDonald’s released a new Corporate Social Responsibility plan, largely focused on environmental sustainability. The plan was full of forward-looking goals to “green” McDonald’s practices in areas like waste management, energy efficiency and water conservation. In the area of sustainable sourcing, the report focused on McDonald’s recent high-profile commitment to source sustainable beef, in addition to coffee, fish, palm oil and fiber-based packaging.

So far so good. But while McDonald’s is setting elaborate goals for the future, shouldn’t the company also make good on old promises?

In 2009, McDonald’s pledged to work towards fewer pesticides on their potatoes. Five years later, communities near RDO potato fields are still waiting for real change on the ground. So where are the 'taters in the sustainability plan?

Potatoes did earn a brief mention in the report, which reiterated that the company has required its potato producers to take a survey on pesticide, fertilizer and water usage. But for communities in potato producing areas, a survey is just the beginning. How is McDonald’s using survey data to increase adoption of sound IPM practices and reduced pesticide use among growers? And how will McDonald’s ensure progress across the board, from all of its potato producers?

Hopes and “aspirations”

McDonald's makes clear that its corporate social responsibility goals are “aspirational.” Though at first I wasn't sure what this meant, I didn't have to go more than a few pages into the report for the corporation's explanation:

“As a brand we realize that it will be difficult to measure progress in all the countries where we operate, but will strive to motivate the entire System by providing tools and resources to drive engagement and performance across our System. Progress toward the aspirational goals will be aggregated and reported in our annual sustainability report, but market-by-market progress may vary.”

While I hear good intentions loud and clear in this statement, I can also spot a few Big Mac-sized loopholes. Unfortunately for the public, “aspirational” pledges are hard to hold onto. McDonald’s will be largely measuring its own progress, without many public mechanisms for accountability along the way.

For the Toxic Taters Campaign, this is familiar territory: McDonald’s infuses resources and PR dollars into the rollout of a sustainability plan, leading to a flurry of media coverage. But when the media moment has faded, the public is left with little more than crisp infographics and bold pledges. This was certainly the story with McDonald’s potato pesticides promise in 2009; I hope it doesn’t come true again with this year’s sustainability plan.

Expecting something better

If last week’s mobilizations in Oak Brook showed me anything, it’s that McDonald’s has a great deal of power within its sector, and all kinds of people — low-wage workers, moms, health professionals and our own Toxic Taters coalition — expect the company to use that power responsibly.

In a recent Twitter chat to roll out its sustainability goals, McDonald’s said: “Our size & scope make our sustainability efforts unique: We can help mainstream sustainability. ‪” The Toxic Taters Coalition couldn’t agree more. McDonald’s has the power to shift the whole supply chain for potatoes, which could mean cleaner air and water for rural communities.

But mainstreaming sustainability can’t mean watering it down. McDonald’s will need to partner with third party experts to verify their progress — and commit to full transparency about progress and challenges. Most importantly, impacted communities must be at the table along the way.

Toxic Taters hits the road

The excitement in Oak Brook is over, but here in Minnesota the Toxic Taters Coalition is keeping busy. Members of the Coalition who live near large-scale potato production are traveling the state this summer, telling their stories and building support for the campaign. In June and July, the Toxic Taters speaking tour will make stops in Minneapolis, Bemidji and Duluth. 

Minnesota residents aren't the only ones who have the chance to learn more about the costs of chemical-intensive potato production. The Toxic Taters Coalition has extended an invitation to decisionmakers at McDonald’s to come to the table, listen to their stories and respond to last week's petition. I hope McDonald's takes them up on it.

Get engaged » Find out the latest news from the Toxic Taters Coalition by joining them on Facebook and Twitter. And if you live in Minnesota, be sure to join them on their speaking tour!


Photo credit: iStock/71gazza

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          Sunday Summer Musings        
As regular readers of this blog have noted to me via email, I have posted infrequently in recent weeks. Although I’ve conducted podcast interviews with interesting subjects and have more scheduled over the summer, personal matters have required my attention. Hence, I haven’t been able to comment on recent events. Some of you have emailed asking if I’m doing OK. Rest assured, I am fine and this has only been a temporary respite from blogging. Like many of you, I have been following current events both nationally and internationally as well as locally in my home state. A few observations and thoughts below:
  • Curiously, the lack of coherent conservative political opposition is undermining the progressive cause and reinforcing the Washington/Wall Street axis. President Obama and much of the Democratic Party appears content to remain risk averse, hoard political capital as “Blue Dog” Democrats such as Evan Bayh and Max Caucus continue to be whores for the private insurance industry and the moneyed interests. With the Republican Party in disarray, the Obama administration has no incentive to go beyond the political fifty-yard line and transform America from a corporate national security state to a society that facilitates broad based prosperity for real entrepreneurs and wage earners. Meanwhile, the corporate press falsely portrays the national debate as between the “liberal” Obama administration and “mainstream” critics. Sadly, and it pains me to write this, enablers of America’s modern gilded age have merely hit the “reset button” with the Obama administration. I like Al Franken and I’m happy he will finally take his rightful place as Minnesota’s junior senator. But that magical sixtieth vote will not transform the landscape all that much. As Illinois Senator Dick Durbin candidly put it earlier this year, the banks “frankly own the place.”
  • In my opinion, Bernie Madoff is a scapegoat for the crimes on Wall Street. Madoff will spend the rest of his days in prison and deservedly so. I have no sympathy for him. However, the looters at Goldman Sachs, Citicorp and A.I.G. are just as guilty if not more so than Madoff. Yet they’re benefiting from billions of dollars subsidized by taxpayers as state and municipal governments barely hang on. It seems to me that Madoff as the public face of Wall Street’s crimes is enabling plutocrats in Washington and the financial services industry to avoid accountability and needed restructuring of our economy. Two decades ago, Michael Milken became the public face of Wall Street’s excess and nothing changed. If Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner and the administration’s senior economic advisor, Timothy Geithner have their way, the Wall Street/Washington axis will continue to conduct business as usual. Their so-called “reforms” are cosmetic only and will not facilitate the systemic change our economy so desperately needs.
  • Enablers of the Washington/Wall Street axis are the cozy relationship between “journalists” and the lobbyists of corporate America. The recent news about the Washington Post selling access to corporate lobbyists simply reinforces what the American people have sensed in their guts for a long time: the “truth” is purchased, packaged and sold. Americans across the political spectrum know this intuitively and that as much as anything explains the decline of traditional media in the Internet age. To some degree this is regrettable because nobody exposed local corruption better than those old time city newspapers with reporters mining sources among the worker bees at city hall. Also, the Internet and blogs are hardly a panacea of journalism. Regardless, the Washington/Wall Street access can only be broken from outside and that means we the people have to become our own journalists.
  • It seems that the real conflict in Iran is between their security forces and factions among the clerics. The valiant protesters are really pawns for the real power struggle-taking place. Even so, hopefully the people who bravely stood up and risked their lives represent a window into the future. Presently though, Iran appears poised to become more of a traditional military dictatorship and less of a theocracy. How events in Iran will transform the Middle East is hard to say but there does appear to be a thaw in American/Syrian relations. The State Department has hoped to exploit potential rifts between Iran and Syria for years even as the Bush administration behaved like a bull in a China shop and the fallout from Iran's presidential election has given the West at least a modest diplomatic opening.
  • I’m gratified American troops are finally withdrawing from Iraq and that Vice President Biden has advised the Iraqis we won’t be expending more blood and treasure to police sectarian violence. Sadly, those resources will likely be redeployed in the Afghanistan/Pakistan theater. Unless vigorous diplomacy with NATO powers or the upcoming summit in Russia can facilitate greater logistical support, an overextended American military is more vulnerable than ever to the burdens of empire maintenance in the name of national defense.
  • I can’t begin to articulate my disgust over events in Albany with the state senate. Much of my activism last year was dedicated to enabling Democrats to finally take the majority. Painfully, their political incompetence as well as Governor David Paterson’s feckless leadership has effectively ended those reformist aspirations from 2006 when Eliot Spitzer was elected New York’s chief executive. With respect to who controls the state senate there is the 2010 census at stake and that means repercussions for the House of Representatives as well the power dynamic in Albany. For the people of this state it’s not just about reform or which party controls Albany. It’s being able to earn a living wage, afford healthcare, have access to affordable housing and good public schools. Unfortunately, New York's political leadership has shown that the Big Apple is a Banana Republic. Hopefully, the chaos between Democrats and Republicans will strengthen the leverage of New York’s Workers Family Party as they represent the interests of New York’s struggling wage earners. Now more than ever Democrats need the support of the WFP and they have much work to do to earn it. As for Eliot Spitzer, tempermentally flawed as he is, I would gladly take him back and would even be willing to pay an "escort tax" to make it happen!

          A Living Wage in Minnesota        
When did it become acceptable to work all day and still not earn a basic living wage?

A living wage is the minimum income necessary for a worker to meet their needs that are considered basic (housing/food)

Go here to see the living wage calculator for your state/county

Finally Minnesota is looking to raise the minimum pay to $9.50 by the end of this week but that's still doesn't cover most rents. we fall behind the majority of other states... Many advocates believe that $10.58 an hour is a better wage rate, but it appears that progressive Minnesota does not...Currently half a million jobs in Minnesota are below $10 an hour...
Our current minimum wage is below what the federal government has set for the minimum wage...needless to say

The current legislation would make exceptions for anyone under 18 years old, or small companies earning less than half a million a year. If the business has gross sales less than $500,000 a year, then they can pay a $7.75 minimum wage. Higher wages would be phased in annually for the next three years. The bill is expected to pass in both the House and Senate this week.

A living wage is a moral value!

          I'm Not McLoving It        
Thank You Governor Dayton, Thank You Governor Dayton, Thank You Governor Dayton, Thank You Governor Dayton...Oh and yeah, Thank You Governor Dayton!

Where are the jobs that the newly elected Minnnesota House and Senate promised us? We've had lots of legislation on limiting our freedoms, but no job creation!

On KARE 11 this morning, they touted McDonald's hiring a new 50,000 Jobs about 50,000 times over (world's longest free commercial?)...they forgot to mention that while McDonald doesn't post their pay (embarrassed?) and it varies from state to state...overall, they offer minimum wage entry level McJobs.

Wikipedia says 'McJob is slang for a low-paying, low-prestige dead end job that requires few skills and offers very little chance of intracompany advancement.' The jobs are good starting points for teens and 'special' adults, but offer little incentive, advancement, money or perks for the general workforce.

With few exceptions, McDonald's McJobs don't offer positions that provide a living wage. A living wage is the hourly rate that an individual must earn to support their family, if they are the sole provider and are working full-time.

The hiring of 50,000 at McDonald's is typical in the lead up to the busy summer months. "Our total hires are similar to past years, but the goal of hiring 50,000 people in one day across the U.S. is unique," McDonald's spokeswoman Ashlee Yingling. In other words, they are trying a new marketing ploy and having the news media fall in line in promoting low paying, no future seasonal jobs...after all, what's more important to them, good paying jobs with benefits, or the corporate sponsorship of McDonald's?

BTW, for reporting purposes, each job McDonald fills counts as a manufacturing really, while Bush was in office he changed the definition, so low paying service positions at McDonald's such as burger flipping and putting pickles on a bun are now classified as manufacturing jobs.

Yes, we all know the necessity of creating jobs...but let's get some real employment going with living wages, benefits, advancements, and skill building...not more McJobs. We aren't going to grew the American economy with more McJobs.... no matter how hard McDonald sells this, it's still part of the problem and not the solution.

While the environment melts down around us, we can't find enough jobs to put Americans to work, more and more of our citizens are missing mortgage payments, so thank gosh Arizona passed a bill to make sure that a bon fide US citizen is running for President and not some ah shuck muslim black guy...whatever...How do we know Arizona is really part of the United States? They seem extremely dumb and more than very south. Has anyone seen their paperwork?

          Comment on Living Wage vs Minimum Wage – What’s the Difference? by brian hoskins        
In any society, as a rule, there will always be some who have better capabilities of securing advancement more than others and thus become richer. This seems to be a basic fact of life. Those who can, do, those who can't - what? Everyone has a right to do the best they can for themselves, but not all have the ability. This is the problem and the basic answer is, of course, education, but again, this is not necessarily a speedy solution. I suppose that if an adequate living wage is paid to the lowest paid then all the rest will fall into place. That would be a very good thing.
          Pay close attention to your body language        
UP TO 30,000 jobs in the learning disability sector could be at risk in the next four years, a charity has warned. In a report entitled It Doesn’t Add Up: The financial crisis crippling the social care sector, the learning disabilities charity Hft says the rising cost of adult social care services means providers are facing increasing financial pressures. Among growing costs, it cites the National Living Wage (NLW) which will add £460m to wage bills in the learning disability sector by 2020. Because the social care sector has the highest proportion of staff aged over 25, it will more adversely affected by the NLW. Robert Longley-Cook, Hft chief executive, said: “Hft wholeheartedly supports the introduction of the NLW. However we have grave concerns about its implementation at local and Westminster level. The social care sector is facing increasing demands. This situation is simply unsustainable.” The charity is looking for a five per cent increase in funding per year for the social care sector until 2020. Hft carried out the research in conjunction with the Centre for Economics and Business
          By: freedom101        
Pity the Hutt Valley. Not only do they host the 'living wage consultants" but also Mary Byrne and Mark Atkin of Fluoride Action Network. It's a miracle that the Hutt City Council has managed to hold debt and rates (the lowest rates rises in NZ over the last 10 years) and keep the water fluoridated. Hats off to them.
          Action Alert: Sign and Circulate the Jobs Not Wars Petition!        
One of the best ways to reduce the deficit is to put people back to work.  It’s time to invest in our people, and our communities. Let’s create stable jobs at living wages, rehabilitate our nation’s infrastructure and invest in programs that serve the needs of people and […]
          Sure, we’ve all heard jokes about “wage-slaves”…        
…but Jerry Toner says that modern employers can learn from the management techniques of Romans. Roman slave-owners, that is: Most Romans, like Augustus, thought cruelty to slaves was shocking. They understood that slaves could not simply be terrified into being good at their job. Instead, the Romans used various techniques to encourage their slaves to […]
          UK retailers are wasting £300 million worth of energy!        

Change in retailing is constant, but continual flux is causing a crisis. Many stores in the UK are struggling to exist as the sector is buffeted by mounting costs caused by waves of change: from morphing shopping habits to the introduction of the National Living Wage, and now rising import prices post-Brexit. Commissioned by UK […]

The post UK retailers are wasting £300 million worth of energy! appeared first on Blue and Green Tomorrow.

          Barack Quote        
Let's be the generation that ends poverty in America. Every single person willing to work should be able to get job training that leads to a job, and earn a living wage that can pay the bills, and afford child care so their kids have a safe place to go when they work. Let's do this.
And for those unwilling to continue school? Or search for a job? Or for those people who's job it is to provide child care that's affordable?
I'm sorry, but right now, every single person is given a chance for job training. There are tons of job training services out there at cost/below cost/no cost depending on your circumstances. Same goes for interviewing skills.

What more is he suggesting? That the government, have a person that will take you to this job training and then drive you to the interviews? And watch your children for you? Let's get specific.
          i've got a job        
yes, that is correct, i have a job, and it's the best job in the whole world. i know you'll agree because i now work at home video! that's right, free movies for me!!! and i didn't even have to get interviewed and the best friend that i have here, bee, also works there. she works at the coffee counter. they have a coffee shop inside a video store. i start tommorow and boy am i pumped. i also started an autobiographical story about christmas when i was 7. i like it so far, and it seems like a good starting point to write something autobiographical. i can't wait to start working which is weird since i think the whole system of having to be a wage slave and not make a living wage is messed up. but anyway, i'm employed and i'm really really excited.
i am going to go dumpstering now. last night i was at whole foods and my bike got a flat. so i had to walk my bike 2 miles home and so i didn't really get all the things there were to be had.
          CALL TO ACTION!!        
Money for jobs; not for war... unemployed workers shouldn't have to pay any taxes.

Make the minimum wage a real living wage based upon all the cost-of-living factors as scientifically calculated by the United States Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics and then legislatively tie the minimum wage to cost-of-living increases.

A National Conference to Create Living-Wage Jobs,
Meet Human Needs and Sustain the Environment

November 13-14, 2009

New York, NY

The Problem: Even before the onset of our current, deep recession, we faced chronic unemployment, low and stagnant wages, myriad unmet needs and unprecedented environmental degradation.

Today’s rapidly escalating unemployment has put job creation back on the public agenda for the first time in recent history. Nearly 15 million workers were officially unemployed in June 2009, and hidden unemployment brings total joblessness up to almost 30 million with nearly 12 seekers for every available job. If it is possible to ignore the chronic unemployment that besets millions of people in normal times, it is much harder to ignore this current, mass unemployment and its staggering social and economic costs.

 What should progressive activists concerned about economic justice, labor, the religious community and other concerned people do about mass unemployment?
 What long-term goals should we have for the economy?
 How can we build a strong, effective unified movement to achieve full employment and living wage jobs for all?

A strong economic stimulus is imperative to meet the current emergency. Yet, even if the current stimulus package that achieves its intended goal of creating 4 million jobs, it would only reduce official unemployment by a third!

Nor is it good enough to return to official unemployment of 5 million women and men and millions more working poor even in the “best” of recent times, or to be satisfied with the host of unmet needs with which this recession began. In the words of FDR, “We cannot be content, no matter how high the general standard of living may be, if some fraction of our people … is ill-fed, ill-clothed, ill-housed, and insecure.”

The Challenge: Crises present opportunities for progressive change. This is the time for Progressives people of good will to mobilize and to develop goals and strategies for an economy that provides living wage jobs for all, sustains the environment, and repairs our social and physical infrastructure and begins the transition to a more stable, productive economy that provides for shared prosperity.

Conference Goals and Intended Outcomes:

1. Expand public debate and action on the future of the U.S. economy
2. Increase public awareness of chronic unemployment and underemployment and its human and economic toll, even in better times
3. Build on Increase public awareness of current mass unemployment, its dire consequences for human beings and its waste of potential economic output;
4. Raise public awareness of our current economic dead-end—high personal and foreign debt, inequality, wage lag, environmental degradation, military overreach….
5. Steer public debate and action toward:
• Government promotion and creation of living-wage jobs, strengthening of the safety net and supportive fiscal, monetary and trade policies;
• Government promotion and creation of jobs that improve the physical and social infrastructure (repair of bridges, upgrading public transportation, building affordable housing, improving and expanding public education and child, health and elder care).
• Government promotion and creation of jobs that further the goal of a sustainable economy and begin to restructure it.
6. Develop plans to pay for this program of reconstruction through more progressive taxes and confinement of military spending to genuine defense needs

7. Initiate a movement for living-wage jobs for all and develop strategies for achieving this permanent economic reform-- including similar conferences in cities across the country and a mass mobilization in Washington on behalf of economic reconstruction.

You Are Invited to Be a Conference Convenor/Co-Sponsor: We seek broad participation and sponsorship for this National Conference, especially organizations with a primary focus on the quality and quantity of jobs, economic justice, social security, the safety net and poverty prevention. Other critical participants will be organizations not primarily concerned with employment, but whose goals for union rights, health care, education, child care, elder care, disability rights, housing, economic restructuring, public transportation, environmental sustainability, and the arts would be furthered by job creation in their areas of interest. The hope is to gain their ongoing commitment to conquering unemployment and low wages-- even after the crisis subsides. This would build on a plans of the National Jobs for All Coalition and the Chicago Political Economy Group to simultaneously create living wage jobs for all and, through a renewed public sector, to repair our deeply deficient social and physical infrastructure.
          Politics in Minnesota just heated up a couple notches        
It seems racism in Minnesota has surfaced once more.

I guess we shouldn't find it surprising that Alan Maki has jumped into the fray.

I think we need to call for Brian Melendez to resign his position as Chair of the Minnesota DFL. Melendez is part of the institutionalized racism that is beginning to permeate and saturate politics at every level. From the nominating process to the problems legislators do and more importantly don't address which has caused the present problems.

Minnesotans understand there is a serious problem that no Native Americans are in the State Legislature.

No one has offered a real solution until now with this letter from Gregory Paquin to Brian Melendez.

Melendez didn't even have the courtesy to respond directly to Gregory Paquin. He had his cronies respond for him. The problem is these cronies are a bunch of racist bigots. Melendez had to have known this.

Anyways here is what is being said.

Gregory Paquin has responded very graciously considering what he is being subjected to just because he wants to see people have better lives.

All Minnesotans should hang our heads in shame that Minnesota politics has come down to this level. We all knew that the problem of racism in the Minnesota DFL was extreme but latent. I don't think any of us knew that it was this serious.

I join Gregory Paquin in thanking the woman who had the courage to bring this issue into public view.

I wonder how much longer the news media will try to conceal this?

It was only in the last election where we saw Rhoda Gilman of the Green Party make the most shocking racist attack on an African-American DFL'er. Now we find the racist attacks reaching a new level in Minnesota politics. This time directed by the Chair of the Minnesota DFL.


-----Original Message-----
From: Alan L. Maki []
Sent: Tuesday, July 21, 2009 6:38 PM
Subject: Re: [Minnesota] Fwd: Steven Nelson sent you a message on Facebook...

Mr. Repke;

I am glad to see this response--- in writing--- from you; because,
along with the e-mail and other communications here, especially the one
from Mr. Nelson, we see a pattern developing that here-to-for has been
kept hidden from public view in Minnesota.

Very few candidates, including those presently sitting in the Minnesota
State Legislature "understand the process" as well as you do.

I have had more than a few politicians and sitting public officials
tell me the process is so complicated they leave everything concerning
their filings with the government up to their attorneys and what needs
to be done as far as "nominating conventions" up to party hacks.

You castigate Greg Paquin for what you claim is his lack of
understanding of election laws and the nominating process as if such
understanding is a requirement for holding public office--- if this is
the case, you might consider asking Al Franken to relinquish his seat
in the U.S. Senate because he sure had the attorneys up the wazoo; but,
how many attorneys and how much was spent by the Minnesota DFL because
so many people do not know how to properly fill out an absentee
ballot... not to mention how many county clerks and their staff's don't
know how to count them?

I wonder if you hold all politicians up to the same criteria you have
established for Greg Paquin?

When was the last time you questioned any politician concerning how
well they understand election laws and the nominating process before
you supported them or cast your vote for them? Or, did you ask who
organized the turnout for the nominating process.

I would note, that like Mr. Nelson's thinking about Greg Paquin, there
were a whole lot of people who thought Barack Obama did not have a
chance of getting the Democratic Party endorsement. And, if we listen
to the reason people thought that, according to Richard Trumka, it is
actually very sad; the soon-to-be President of the National AFL-CIO...
stated in no uncertain terms the reason for this thinking was because
of the racism in the ranks of the Democratic Party and among labor

How often have you heard people say something like: "All these
Democrats talk a lot, but none of them say anything; it makes me not
want to vote because I don't know where they stand on the issues."

Well, according to Mr. Nelson, Greg Paquin is a good speaker but the
problem is, he doesn't like what Greg Paquin has to say and he
apparently thinks all white people think as he does... because then he
goes even further to suggest that Greg Paquin will only find a receptive
audience for his message among Indians.

And then Mr. Nelson goes on to say that Greg Paquin is opposed to
gaming. Well, how does Mr. Nelson arrive at this conclusion when what
Greg Paquin is saying is that he wants Native Americans to benefit from
the gaming industry instead of politicians... read what Greg Paquin has
written... he says he knows a lot of Indian people who need a meal
before more money is handed out electing politicians who don't even
care about the problems of Native Americans.

As far as "labor leaders;" well let me tel you a little something about
the quality of labor leaders the DFL is associated with and how these
"labor leaders" are participating in the political process you hold so

Perhaps you do not know this, but Collin Peterson was nominated to run
for the United States Congress from Congressional District 7 at one of
your much ballyhooed "nominating conventions" by one of the most
important and prominent leaders of the AFL-CIO--- Mr. Mark Froemke---
who, I might note, has never stepped forward to question why there are
no Native Americans sitting in the Minnesota State Legislature or in
our Congressional delegation--- were there no qualified Native
Americans that Mark Froemke could have nominated instead of Collin

The problem is, Mr. Froemke was registered to vote in Grand Forks,
North Dakota at the time he crossed the border into Minnesota to
participate in a nominating convention that you say requires being a
registered voter to participate!

How well do you understand Minnesota Election Laws, Mr. Repke? Does
being registered to vote in North Dakota qualify one to participate in
a nominating convention in Minnesota?

Furthermore, you belittle Greg Paquin for not understanding Minnesota
Election Laws as if understanding election laws and the political
process is a qualification to run for public office; but, if you were
concerned that more people should become involved in the political
process, I would think that you would offer to help teach what you know
about the political process to others before suggesting that what they
don't know about election laws disqualifies them from seeking public

Between your post here and Steve Nelson's e-mail, I think most of us
have a pretty good idea why there are no Native Americans sitting in
the Minnesota State Legislature. Who the heck wants to be subjected to

I can't believe what I am reading... this sounds more like the "good
ol' boys club" down in Mississippi trying to keep African-Americans out
of public office before the Voting Rights Act was passed.

Let me tell you a little something about your theory about who wins and
who loses.

Up hear in Roseau County, the County Chair Ley Soltis, announced--- at
the precinct caucus--- the date, time and place where the Roseau County
Democratic Farmer-Labor Party Convention was going to be held.
Apparently the head honchos of the DFL thought my organizing abilities
were a little too much for them to overcome as I was seeking to be
re-elected to the State Central Committee over the wishes of some
people. So, Mr. Soltis and his little clique of highly skilled
organizers decided to be real cute and change the time and place of the
Roseau County Convention, telling only their friends--- leaving the
rest of us sitting outside of the Rural Electric Co-op for two hours
after which he pulled up and said, "Oh, I am so sorry; I forgot to put
a notice up here that we changed the time and place of the County
Convention... oh, well, nothing we can do about this now."

The one and only reason the MN DFL can get any candidates elected is
because so many people detest the Republicans... and, to my way of
thinking that is nothing you want to write home about.

Once these letters and communications see the light of day... the
present DFL Senate and House legislators for Senate District 4 and 4-A
might want to bend over... put their heads between their legs and kiss
their offices good-bye.

I will tell you this as one who would never vote Republican unless Abe
Lincoln was to rise from the grave... if I was a voter in Senate
District 4 or House District 4-A, I would vote Republican before I ever
voted for either of the two DFL candidates now holding these positions
knowing what kind of friends they turned out to support them.

Alan L. Maki
58891 County Road 13
Warroad, Minnesota 56763

Phone: 218-386-2432
Cell Phone: 651-587-5541


Check out my Blog:

> After reading the entire thread of the emails, it sounds like Mr. Nelson
> didn't think you had much of a chance of getting the party endorsement at the
> next DFL convention in SD 4 because he didn't think you understood the
> process nor did you have anyone on board your campaign that had
> experience in
> the endorsement process. So, he appears to dismissed you as a candidate
> for endorsement because of that.
> The tone of your emails would tend to agree with Nelson's opinion. You
> seem to think that the chair of the state party or even the current officers
> of the local party have the ability to hand you the endorsement. The tone
> of you note to the DFL state chair would suggest that he has some ability to
> act independently to assist in your quest for election. You suggest that
> if there isn't the outpouring of support within seven days you will run as
> an independent. Well, threats like that tend to get people to not
> seriously consider a candidate for endorsement.
> That isn't the way the process works.
> The endorsement belongs to whoever gets more of their neighbors to show up
> at the DFL precinct caucuses and agree to be delegates to the senate
> district 4 convention. Anyone that can vote can show up at the caucuses and
> run
> for delegate. You just need to out organize them. If you do that you
> win. If you don't you lose. I have been to rural Minnesota DFL
> conventions... if you have 150 people elected delegate the
> endorsement is yours. The
> task is doing that, not hoping that the party chair or the local party
> officers will anoint you.
> Chuck Repke
> In a message dated 7/21/2009 4:00:31 P.M. Central Daylight Time,
> writes:
> It is with a Sad Heart i write this letter to you, i feel like i been run
> over by a truck filled with the sickness of Racism.
> I am thankful to Antonia Vargas who alerted me to these representations of
> the inner workings ( Mechanization's) of institutional racism.
> I am devastated that in my letter to you on July 10th 2009 ,i had asked
> you to respond to being handed over to those who after years of
> participation
> in this political process have done exactly to the letter what i had asked
> you to prevent.
> With your active directives i feel you have violated my civil right to be
> able to enter a political race for public office that i was very afraid
> would face any Native Anishinabe Candidate like myself . And these
> correspondences are testament to that.
> I would ask you step down from your position that you are supposed to
> protect these rights of alienation of anyone especially a Anishinabe
> American.
> Secondly any political office holder in these capacities also make the
> same statement and put an end to those that benefit from or enhance this
> institutional Racist practice.
> Gregory W. Paquin
> Candidate for Minnesota Senate
> District: 4
> 1511 Roosevelt Road SE.
> Bemidji, Minnesota , 56601
> 218-209-3157 h
> 651-503-9493 c
> check out my blog:
> --- On Tue, 7/21/09, azvargas wrote:
> From: azvargas
> Subject: Fwd: Steven Nelson sent you a message on Facebook...
> To:
> Date: Tuesday, July 21, 2009, 10:15 AM
> Hello Mr. Paquin,
> I am forwarding this information to you in a spirit of understanding,
> and welcoming your input too. I would like you to know that there are
> members of the board in Cass County ( Senate 5?) that would support
> you if you are willing to run. Please contact Eli Hunt;
>; 218-760-2116 and ask to be put on our next meeting's
> guest list to speak to our group about your intentions to run. Thanks,
> and I hope to hear back from you if you so choose to email back.
> ---Antonia 218-251-3954
> ---------- Forwarded message ----------
> From: "azvargas"
> Date: Tue, 21 Jul 2009 07:28:50 -0700
> Subject: Fwd: Steven Nelson sent you a message on Facebook...
> To: Eli Hunt , Bob Whipple
> <, >, Molly MacGregor ,
> Roger Grussing , Mary Olson ,
> Martha Johnson , Kathryn Wagner
> , Shirley Frederick , Cheryl
> Jones , Darrell Johnson
> , David & Alison Edgerton ,
> Allen Larson , Carrie Musselman
> , Eva Wilson , Hope Bank
> , Jerry Chizek , Joan Quam
> , Kent Reeve , Mark Schmidtke
> , Robert Fields
> officer for Congressional District 8, I feel the responsibility and
> duty to make known the following perceptions regarding Mr. Paquin's
> letter and Steven Nelson's response to David Butcher in Facebook :
> I am pleased to know that Mr. Paquin "...did show up at our meeting."
> I am pleased that Steven gave him "...a few minutes to address the
> group." I am not surprised that " he was polite and spoke well." What
> I am concerned about and perceive, as an Affirmative Action Officer
> regardless of which DC I represented, is the pretentiousness of what
> Steven Nelson then goes on to say. Please review and reflect on the
> rest of the message and especially this part: "he does not fully
> understand the endorsement process, or campaign finance rules. I don't
> think he is a real threat to Senator Mary." I am not necessarily
> concerned about Mr. Paquin being "...a real threat..." what I am
> greatly disturbed about is the REAL THREAT of not being INCLUSIVE and
> INVITING to those who would dare to challenge our SUPERIOR KNOWLEDGE.
> I am asking you Steven Nelson ( and I hope to personally meet you some
> day); What can you do to guide this CONSTITUENT to the KNOWLEDGE he is
> intitled to? We should not shy away from uncomfortable sititutions,
> as Obama has said on many occasions, we should reflect on them and
> help to make them into a positive change. This then for me would be
> I welcome everyone's input and reflection regarding my perceptions.
> - ---------- Forwarded message ----------
> From: "davidb"
> Date: Mon, 20 Jul 2009 13:56:47 -0500
> Subject: Fwd: Steven Nelson sent you a message on Facebook...
> To:
> Hi Antonia,
> Below is a response I received from Steve Nelson re the Paquin letter
> as well as the thread among DFL'ers re the situation. Of particular
> interest is Paquin's letter to Brian Melendez. I think he has a
> legitimate concern re the issue of casino profits, but I believe that
> is better taken up with the tribe (which I believe has control over
> the operations). DB
> - ---------- Forwarded message ----------
> From: Facebook
> Date: Jul 20, 2009 1:43 PM
> Subject: Steven Nelson sent you a message on Facebook...
> To: Dave Butcher
> Steven sent you a message.
> - --------------------
> Re: Question
> Here is the entire exchange about Mr. Paquin. He did show up at our
> meeting. I did give him a few minutes to address the group, he was
> polite and spoke very well. I don't think he has any support with
> main stream DFLer's. But he could stir up some interest among Indians
> who oppose the gaming industry. He is a union member and thinks he
> will be getting support from labor, but I don't think he has any
> support from labor leadership. He does not fully understand the
> endorsement process, or campaign finance rules. I don't think he is a
> real threat to Senator Mary. I must confess I was out of town this
> weekend and missed the letter.
> I think its best to just be polite to him.
> That's my $.02
> Steve
> Steve, he will probably come to Monday’s meeting, I don’t know if he
> asked to be on the agenda, but good luck controlling him to 5 minutes
> or less
> From: Brian Melendez []
> Sent: Thursday, July 09, 2009 11:40 AM
> To: 'Pamela McCrory'
> Cc: 'Paul Wright'; 'Roger Grusssing';;
> Subject: RE: Minnesota Senate District 4 (seat)
> Great. Thanks, Pam.
> From: Pamela McCrory []
> Sent: Thursday, July 09, 2009 11:30 AM
> To: 'Brian Melendez'
> Cc: 'Paul Wright'; 'Roger Grusssing';;
> Subject: RE: Minnesota Senate District 4 (seat)
> Thanks Brian. I was just going through email and saw his letter to
> you that he posted on a local open forum site. I’ll send him a reply
> right now, and try give him a phone call. I’ll cc you on the email.
> Pam McCrory
> SD4 Chair
> From: Brian Melendez []
> Sent: Thursday, July 09, 2009 10:27 AM
> To:
> Cc:;;;;
> Paul Wright; Allison Myhre
> Subject: RE: Minnesota Senate District 4 (seat)
> Pam, I enclose a message from a candidate for the Minnesota
> Senate. Would you prefer that I direct him to you, or would you rather
> just respond to him directly?
> From: greg paquin []
> Sent: Wednesday, July 08, 2009 7:16 PM
> To:
> Cc:;;
> Subject: Minnesota Senate District 4 (seat)
> Wednesday, July 8, 2009
> Brian Melendez, Chair, Minnesota Democratic Farmer-Labor Party
> Dear Mr. Melendez,
> I am writing to inform you that I will be running for the Minnesota
> State Senate for the District 4 seat.
> I would like to run with the endorsement of the Minnesota Democratic
> Farmer-Labor Party in the Primary Election.
> As you are aware, there isn’t one single Native(Anishinabe) American
> sitting in the Minnesota State Legislature; not in the Senate, not in
> the House.
> This needs to change.
> And the change needs to take place now.
> Barack Obama promised change. I intend to fight on behalf of
> Indian(Anishinabe) people to see to it that we get the change that we
> assumed was coming. Real jobs at real living wages. Our children going
> to school, not tossed behind bars and forgotten. We lack adequate
> health care. Native(Anishinabe) American women suffer sexual abuse at
> rates far higher than the general population.
> Our land and our resources, the wealth of our Nations, were stolen out
> from under us in the most brutal manner and nothing has been done to
> make things right.
> Native (Anishinabe)Americans are the largest single minority
> population in the State of Minnesota and we have no representation in
> the State Legislature; anyone can see that this is unfair.
> I intend to try to change this with or without the support of the
> Minnesota Democratic Farmer-Labor Party; I would like to do this with
> support from the DFL if at all possible, if not, I will use other
> means.
> As a long-time union member of the United Association of Journeymen
> and Apprentices of the Plumbing and Pipe Fitting Industry of the
> United States and Canada (UA), I have always been a loyal supporter of
> the Minnesota Democratic Farmer-Labor Party.
> Should I not hear from you in seven days, I will decide after
> consulting with my campaign committee and my many friends--- Native
> and non-Native--- whether to seek the DFL endorsement during the
> Primary process and Election or run as an independent candidate in the
> General Election.
> Minnesota Native(Anishinabe) Americans, including myself, have
> repeatedly sought assistance from the local DFL elected public
> officials who we helped in every way to elect. WE now need their help
> on a variety of issues of importance to us from jobs to education,
> housing and health care and environmental concerns, we find ourselves
> shut out of the political and decision-making process by these same
> politicians who could not have been elected without the votes of
> Anishinabe people who are now ignoring our problems and concerns when
> it comes to doing things by way of finding solutions. Solutions which
> are often as simple as doing what is right to make sure Anishinabe
> people get jobs. Often we don’t even hear about jobs until the work is
> completed. How do others hear about jobs, even in our own communities,
> before we do? This is not right.
> I organized the “We Shall Remain” conference in Bemidji.
> Many Native Anishinabe and non-tribal people, from all walks of life
> showed up at this conference fully expecting to be able to explain and
> tell elected officials what our problems and concerns are. The only
> public official who showed up was the Beltrami County Sheriff who
> informed us that he didn’t know how many Native Americans worked on
> his staff but he knew the population in the Beltrami County Jail was
> more than 50% Native American. This was a figure not lost on those in
> attendance since the current unemployment on most Minnesota
> Reservations is 50% or more. There is something terribly wrong with
> this picture and the present DFL State Senator from District 4, Mary
> Olson, refuses to talk about resolving the injustices creating these
> problems.
> I want to most vigorously point out to you that the MN DFL claims to
> have a policy that decries discrimination; yet, for all these years
> the MN DFL has done not one thing to assure Native( Anishinabe)
> Americans are elected to state and federal offices. There is something
> wrong with this picture here; you want our money and our votes but you
> don’t want us sitting as equals with all other Minnesotans in the
> State Legislature or the halls of Congress.
> Certain measures have to be taken in order to ensure that Minnesota
> Indigenous,Anishinabe people get the seats they are entitled to in the
> Minnesota State Legislature; those measures have not even been
> considered, let alone taken.
> We are entitled to at least two seats per tribe. I am quite sure most
> Minnesotans will find this very reasonable. Democracy requires this.
> Anishinabe Native Americans are entitled to District 4, 4a, 4b, 2,
> 2a, 2b seats in the Minnesota State Legislature as a beginning to
> right this wrong of no representation.
> I intend to do everything I can do to make sure that Senate seat 4 is
> held by an Native Tribal Member citizen, because this is what justice
> requires.
> It is my hope that other Native(Anishinabe) Americans will join my
> efforts to secure the other five seats.
> Most Anishinabe, Native Americans are working people, yet you treat us
> as if only the cash you get from the casino managements counts for
> anything. This, too, will change once I am elected to the Senate
> District 4 seat because the people of Minnesota will be hearing the
> truth about gaming revenues. If these revenues can be used to elect
> non-Tribal Natives to political office who then turn around and ignore
> our problems we can find a way to make sure these gaming revenues
> remain in our communities being used for meeting the needs of our own
> people now living in dire straights as the economy declines. I know
> many families who need food more than politicians need campaign
> contributions.
> It is my hope you will also broach my concerns, distributing this
> letter, with the Minnesota Democratic Farmer-Labor Party’s State
> Central Committee.
> I await your response,
> Gregory, W. Paquin
> 651-503-9493 cell 218-209-3157 home
> 1511 Roosevelt Rd Se Bemidji, MN 56601
> Checked by AVG -;
> Version: 8.5.375 / Virus Database:
>;270.13.6/2221 - Release Date: 07/06/09
> 17:54:00
> Checked by AVG -;
> Version: 8.5.375 / Virus Database:
>;270.13.6/2221 - Release Date: 07/06/09
> 17:54:00
> - --------------------
> Steven has shared a link with you. To view it or to reply to the
> message, follow this link:
> dba4b83G23615feG0
> ___
> This message was intended for Want to control which
> emails you receive from Facebook? Go to:
> 2MzIxNTt0PTEyOTM3MzYwMjk1MTt0bz03NjcxODM3NDc=&mid=ceb7f8G2dba4b83G23615feG0
> Facebook's offices are located at 1601 S. California Ave., Palo Alto, CA
> 94304.
> gregory paquin
> minnesota, bemidji
> Info about gregory paquin:
> View all messages on this topic at:
> - -----------------------------------------
> To post, e-mail:
> Use "Reply-to-All" via e-mail to post publicly.
> To leave or for daily digest, type "unsubscribe" or "digest on"
> in subject, then send to:
> More information about Minnesota Politics and Issues Forum:
> E-Democracy.Org rules:
> - -----------------------------------------
> Technical assistance thanks to our friends at http://OnlineGroups.Net
> Rules: Be civil - No name calling, personal attacks, etc.
> Complaints to:
> **************What's for dinner tonight? Find quick and easy dinner ideas
> for any occasion.
> (
> Chuck Repke
> West 7th, Saint Paul
> Info about Chuck Repke:
> View all messages on this topic at:
> - -----------------------------------------
> To post, e-mail:
> Use "Reply-to-All" via e-mail to post publicly.
> To leave or for daily digest, type "unsubscribe" or "digest on"
> in subject, then send to:
> More information about Minnesota Politics and Issues Forum:
> E-Democracy.Org rules:
> - -----------------------------------------
> Technical assistance thanks to our friends at http://OnlineGroups.Net
> Rules: Be civil - No name calling, personal attacks, etc.
> Complaints to:

Alan L. Maki
58891 County Road 13
Warroad, Minnesota 56763

Phone: 218-386-2432
Cell Phone: 651-587-5541


Check out my Blog:

Alan Maki
Info about Alan Maki:

View all messages on this topic at:
To post, e-mail:
Use "Reply-to-All" via e-mail to post publicly.
To leave or for daily digest, type "unsubscribe" or "digest on"
in subject, then send to:

More information about Minnesota Politics and Issues Forum:

E-Democracy.Org rules:
Technical assistance thanks to our friends at http://OnlineGroups.Net

Rules: Be civil - No name calling, personal attacks, etc.
Complaints to:
          Why are no Native Americans in the Minnesota State Legislature?        
This letter to Brian Melendez tells the truth about how limited democracy is in Minnesota and we finally hear the truth about racism in the Minnesota DFL. It's about time.

I got this letter on its 6th forwarding. I hope it keeps making the rounds.


--- On Wed, 7/8/09, greg paquin wrote:

From: greg paquin
Subject: Minnesota Senate District 4 (seat)
Date: Wednesday, July 8, 2009, 7:15 PM

Wednesday, July 8,


Brian Melendez, Chair, Minnesota Democratic
Farmer-Labor Party


Dear Mr. Melendez,


I am writing to inform you that I will be running for the Minnesota State Senate for the District 4 seat.


I would like to run with the endorsement of the Minnesota Democratic Farmer-Labor Party in the Primary Election.


As you are aware, there isn’t one single Native(Anishinabe) American sitting in the Minnesota State Legislature; not in the Senate, not in the House.


This needs to change.


And the change needs to take place now.


Barack Obama promised change. I intend to fight on behalf of
Indian(Anishinabe) people to see to it that we get the change that we assumed was coming. Real jobs at real living wages. Our children going to school, not tossed behind bars and forgotten. We lack adequate health care. Native(Anishinabe) American women suffer sexual abuse at rates far higher than the general population.


Our land and our resources, the wealth of our Nations, were stolen out from under us in the most brutal manner and nothing has been done to make things right.


Native (Anishinabe)Americans are the largest single minority population in the State of Minnesota and we have no representation in the State Legislature; anyone can see that this is unfair.


I intend to try to change this with or without the support
of the Minnesota Democratic Farmer-Labor Party; I would like to do this with support from the DFL if at all possible, if not, I will use other means.


As a long-time union member of the United Association of Journeymen and Apprentices of the Plumbing and Pipe Fitting Industry of the United
States and Canada (UA), I have always been a loyal supporter of the Minnesota Democratic Farmer-Labor Party.


Should I not hear from you in seven days, I will decide after consulting with my campaign committee and my many friends--- Native and
non-Native--- whether to seek the DFL endorsement during the Primary process and Election or run as an independent candidate in the General Election.


Minnesota Native(Anishinabe) Americans, including myself, have repeatedly sought assistance from the local DFL elected public officials who we helped in every way to elect. WE now need their help on a variety of issues of importance to us from jobs to education, housing and health care and environmental concerns, we find ourselves shut out of the political and decision-making process by these same politicians who could not have been elected without the votes of Anishinabe people who are now ignoring our problems and concerns when it comes to doing things by way of finding solutions. Solutions which are often as simple as doing what is right to make sure Anishinabe people get jobs. Often we don’t even hear about jobs until the work is completed. How do others hear about jobs, even in our own communities, before we do? This is not right.


I organized the “We Shall Remain” conference in Bemidji.


Many Native Anishinabe and non-tribal people, from all walks of life showed up at this conference fully expecting to be able to explain and tell elected officials what our problems and concerns are. The only public official who showed up was the Beltrami County Sheriff who informed us that he didn’t know how many Native Americans worked on his staff but he knew the population in the Beltrami County Jail was more than 50% Native American. This was a figure not lost on those in attendance since the current unemployment on most Minnesota Reservations is 50% or more. There is something terribly wrong with this picture and the present DFL State Senator from District 4, Mary Olson, refuses to talk about resolving the injustices creating these problems.


I want to most vigorously point out to you that the MN DFL claims to have a policy that decries discrimination; yet, for all these years the MN DFL has done not one thing to assure Native( Anishinabe) Americans are elected to state and federal offices. There is something wrong with this picture here; you want our money and our votes but you don’t want us sitting as equals with all other Minnesotans in the State Legislature or the halls of Congress.


Certain measures have to be taken in order to ensure that Minnesota Indigenous,Anishinabe people get the seats they are entitled to in the Minnesota State Legislature; those measures have not even been considered, let alone taken.


We are entitled to at least two seats per tribe. I am quite sure most Minnesotans will find this very reasonable. Democracy requires this.

 Anishinabe Native Americans are entitled to District 4, 4a, 4b, 2, 2a, 2b seats in the Minnesota State Legislature as a beginning to right this wrong of no representation.


I intend to do everything I can do to make sure that Senate seat 4 is held by an Native Tribal Member citizen, because this is what justice requires.


It is my hope that other Native(Anishinabe) Americans will join my efforts to secure the other five seats.


Most Anishinabe, Native Americans are working people, yet you treat us as if only the cash you get from the casino managements counts for anything. This, too, will change once I am elected to the Senate District 4 seat because the people of Minnesota will be hearing the truth about gaming revenues. If these revenues can be used to elect non-Tribal Natives to political office who then turn around and ignore our problems we can find a way to make sure these gaming revenues remain in our communities being used for meeting the needs of our own people now living in dire straights as the economy declines. I know many families who need food more than politicians need campaign contributions.


It is my hope you will also broach my concerns, distributing this letter, with the Minnesota Democratic Farmer-Labor Party’s State Central Committee.


I await your response,


Gregory, W. Paquin Hotpasstheketchup@yahoo.com651-503-9493 cell  218-209-3157 home1511 Roosevelt Rd Se Bemidji, MN 56601

gregory paquin
minnesota, bemidji
Info about gregory paquin:

View all messages on this topic at:
          Taking part in the holiday spirit of giving – Does food charity alleviate hunger?        

This is a guest blog post by the Ontario Society of Nutrition Professionals in Public Health (OSNPPH).

With the holiday season upon us, charitable food drives are in full swing. It’s easy to throw a can of baked beans, a jar of peanut butter or a box of macaroni & cheese in the food bank bin. But does this really help to reduce hunger in our communities?

To start, let’s clarify some terms. ‘Hunger’ is a feeling of discomfort from not eating enough food.  ‘Food insecurity’ is inadequate or insecure access to food because of financial constraints.  Poverty is the root cause of food insecurity. People experiencing food insecurity:

  • worry about having enough food
  • do not have suitable quality or variety of food, or
  • have reduced food intake and disrupted eating patterns due to lack of food. (This extreme is how we commonly use the term ‘hunger’ when we mean severe food insecurity).

Food insecurity is a significant social and public health problem in Ontario.  In 2013, 1.6 million Ontarians or one in eight households did not have enough money to buy food. Click here for more information on how food insecurity is defined and measured in Canada.

How have communities responded to the problem of food insecurity?

With the gradual erosion of social programs, a variety of community-based charitable food programs have emerged. There are now food banks in every province and territory, with a network of almost 5,000 emergency food programs including food banks, soup kitchens and various meal and snack programs.

Food charity is very much a part of the problem of food insecurity in rich societies. While charitable food programs may provide short-term relief of hunger, they do not reduce food insecurity at all. Food charity is ineffective due to the following reasons:

  • undermines people’s dignity
  • has limited reach – 3 out of 4 food insecure households do not go to food banks
  • has limited operating hours and restricts the number of visits and the amount of food provided
  • does not meet people’s daily need for nutritious food

Food insecurity is a symptom of an income problem; it is not a problem that can be solved by redistribution of food by charities no matter how much we try to build better food banks. In fact, food banks are counterproductive because their existence creates the illusion that food insecurity is being taken care of in the community.  We’ve become so conditioned to raising more money and getting more food on to food bank shelves that we lose sight of poverty being the root cause of food insecurity. The prevalence of food charity allows governments to neglect their obligations to ensure income security for Canadians, leaving community-based charities attempting to fill the gap.

The media perpetuates this problem by drawing attention to food drives. By packaging a food drive as an integral part of the festive season, food insecurity is framed as an issue for charity, not politics, strengthening the public perception that food charity is acceptable, necessary and adequate to address the problem of food insecurity. High profile, public food drives use messaging that reinforces the notion that food charity makes a difference in the lives of those living with food insecurity. Calling on the public to participate in food drives in an effort to ‘give back to the community’, ‘join the fight against hunger’ and ‘participate in the spirit of holiday cheer’ feeds into the age-old philosophical ideal of feeding the hungry. High profile community members, such as politicians or celebrities, are often used to reinforce these messages and create a bigger media story.

If food charity is not the solution to food insecurity, then what is?

All sectors have a role to play in promoting income security as an effective response to food insecurity.

The media could focus on supporting campaigns and covering news stories raising awareness about the root cause of food insecurity, which is poverty, such as on implementing a basic income guarantee, a living wage, and affordable housing and child care policies.      

Individuals, community groups, and organizations can support ‘up-stream’ efforts, such as:

  • Becoming a member of, donating to, or volunteering with Basic Income Canada Network
  • Donating or volunteering with national, provincial or local poverty reduction advocacy groups, such as Make Poverty History or Canada Without Poverty  
  • Donating to or becoming a member of food advocacy groups, such as Food Secure Canada
  • Contacting or meeting with local politicians at all levels about their concerns with the food charity response to food insecurity and the potential benefits of a basic income guarantee
  • Supporting campaigns and signing petitions for adequate income security, affordable social housing and child care, enhanced mental health services, and development of national and provincial food policies

Federal and provincial governments must consider policy options that will enhance income security and reduce poverty levels to alleviate food insecurity.


The Ontario Society of Nutrition Professionals in Public Health (OSNPPH) is the independent and official voice of Registered Dietitians working in Ontario’s public health system. OSNPPH provides leadership in public health nutrition by promoting and supporting member collaboration to improve the health of Ontario residents through the implementation of the Ontario Public Health Standards.

The OSNPPH Food Security Workgroup has developed a position statement (and French translation) and an accompanying infographic (and French translation) to increase awareness about the growing problem of household food insecurity in Ontario and the urgent need to advocate for effective responses. Since its release, the Position Statement has received official endorsements from these organizations and individuals. If you would like to endorse the Position Statement, please complete the form available here.

          Pay close attention to your body language        
UP TO 30,000 jobs in the learning disability sector could be at risk in the next four years, a charity has warned. In a report entitled It Doesn’t Add Up: The financial crisis crippling the social care sector, the learning disabilities charity Hft says the rising cost of adult social care services means providers are facing increasing financial pressures. Among growing costs, it cites the National Living Wage (NLW) which will add £460m to wage bills in the learning disability sector by 2020. Because the social care sector has the highest proportion of staff aged over 25, it will more adversely affected by the NLW. Robert Longley-Cook, Hft chief executive, said: “Hft wholeheartedly supports the introduction of the NLW. However we have grave concerns about its implementation at local and Westminster level. The social care sector is facing increasing demands. This situation is simply unsustainable.” The charity is looking for a five per cent increase in funding per year for the social care sector until 2020. Hft carried out the research in conjunction with the Centre for Economics and Business
          Said & Done: ‘When we talk about football, a woman’s input is useless’        

Also featuring: John Delaney, the living wage, and Gigi Becali’s gold spoon

Uefa head Aleksander Ceferin – happy the six new faces on his executive committee will help “rebuild our image, restore our credibility … No empty promises; no empty words; no scandals. Let’s act. With humility, respect and professionalism.”

Related: ‘We’ve been changing in public toilets’: Republic of Ireland women threaten to strike

Related: Premier League agent-spend hits £174m after TV boom

Related: David Squires on … Mourinho, Moyes and post-match interviews

Continue reading...
          Ok, All Lives Matter! NOW JUST FUCKING STOP IT!        
      To my friends from social networks you probably know it's been quite a while since I've put up a new blog post. To anyone who've never heard of or don't know me, welcome! Look, I can be passionate, angry, loving, understanding, rational, erratic, unreasonable, judicious, sapient, troubled, and exultant just to name a few things. How can one be all of these? It's called being a HUMAN BEING! At the end of the day what kind are you going to be? I ask that to make this point, we all need to look that person in the mirror and ask an honest question "are you contributing to the solution or the problem?" You can lie to others, that's very easy. But you CAN'T lie to yourself. If you can you've got some serious mental disorders that I can't go on to discussing here. But, answer that question and be totally honest.

Now what happened to those two police officers on Saturday (12/20/2014) was horrendous, abhorrent, and despicable. Ismaaiyl Brinsley committed a vile act of depravity and cowardice, that was not only abominable but counterproductive. To anyone who'd praise his actions; you're a serious sick fucking loon and need to seek therapy. What this guy did could not only derail and set back the movement for police accountability and much needed reforms, but it could very well create if not intensify the already created sentiment of "them vs. us". Is that what anybody really want? I know I sure as hell DON'T! Does anyone really want America turned into one big fucking cage match and whoever isn't dead at the end is the winner? I don't know about anyone else, but to me in that scenario there are no winners, only degrees of losers. Which poses another another valid question, is that what anyone wants, for America to become a nation of made up of only degrees of losers where NO ONE wins? As a person who lost my father at a very young age (not to violence, thank {deity of choice}) You have to realize realize that Wenjian Liu and Raphael Ramos were not just the goddamn uniform they wore to work. They were human beings and family men who had loved ones and lives like us all. One a newly wed and one with a wife and 13 years old son. So whether you approve of violence against police officers simply trying to do their jobs or against unarmed Black youth who could've easily been brought in for what amount to class D misdemeanors or less, JUST FUCKING STOP IT! PLEASE?!? Enough is Enough of this shit already! 

Here are my suggestions that I feel could go a long way in helping a lot. Now if you think people are going to quit doing stupid shit they shouldn't; seek therapy which afterward you can join us in reality. Now for people who do stupid shit they shouldn't and break the law know that there's a chance you'll get caught and when you do TAKE YOUR FUCKING LICK! Most of the times it's not serious enough to lose your fucking life over! Now let's not get it twisted for a second because there are people who get fucked with by cops who've done absolutely NOTHING WRONG where the cop had no probable cause whatsoever to bother them about anything. If you can video or record such an encounter I vehemently encourage you to do so. Don't play the crooked cops game and start fighting, resisting, etc... because for these cops there's a developing industry of lawyers who'd compete to take your case. After taxpayers realize how expensive these kinds of cops can be I'm sure they'll start demanding competence and professionalism in law enforcement. There's nothing like being much lighter in the pocket to make you get your shit together. Don't think so? Take this simple test, which these you think are more painful? Getting punched in the face, or going to the bank to find 90% of your money is missing? Given a choice between the two I think I'd recover much quicker from getting decked in the face. "Bullshit walk, and money talk" isn't just a saying it's a reality!  

Now for law enforcement; That "Code Of Silence" shit has GOT TO STOP! If you truly want this shit to improve and get better, replace that "code of silence" (b.k.a. we cover each other's dirt) and replace it with a "code of honor", "code of respect", "code of responsibility", "code of duty", any of these I'm sure will be fine with the citizens you take an oath to protect and serve. As a police officer you're the most tangible mediator between the public and the state. You've been bestowed the power to take freedom and LIFE! The abuse of these powers can reap astringent consequences. A cop should be no different than I am on my job. As an I.T. professional sometimes I have to work with others as a team. I don't want to work with someone who thinks a byte is an act you commit with your teeth. I would let it be known to my superiors that this is a person who is not qualified for the duty they've been assigned and recommend they be removed or reassigned to something within the bounds of their ability. As their fuckups can have a domino affect which eventually become bad for business and a threat to my own livelihood. "Good cops" should be no different with "bad cops". If my company lose valuable clients because I witnessed and had full knowledge of incompetence and failed to address it, they'll hold me just as liable as the offending party. This shouldn't be any different with police. I'm going to be frank here the public stigma of cops are you're a bunch of misfits who're losers and failures at life that couldn't make friends, get laid, or a date and got beat up in school, and made shitty grades. So he best outlet for that pinned up self loathing and aggression? BECOME A COP! Yeah, you'll show the world! Now you're a strong arm enforcer at large, unleashed on the public. Even better, all on the taxpayers dime. HOLY SHIT! Screw you welfare whores, I've really got it good!

Not very good to be stigmatized like this is it? Well, go back to being "PEACE OFFICERS" instead of dumb animals being used like pawns for domestic policy, amounting to nothing more than guard dogs for plutocrats. Does that sting a little? Well so does a fucking bullet for playing with a toy gun in the park. Now let's just be frank, Charles and David Koch, or Warren Buffet (see I can be non-partisan) could go up to a cop and kick his dog, squeeze his wife's Charmin, and smack his kids and wouldn't have to worry about being taken away in cuffs any more than a Walmart employee have to worry about getting paid a decent living wage, both know that shit just ain't happening. So get rid of your rotten apples and bad eggs and start "protecting and serving" honorably! "Get the fuck off on the sidewalk" is NOT protecting and serving. Whether a police officer, I.T. professional, professional athlete, or any other occupation. A chain is only strong as it's weakest link. On that note, cops you've gotta know this... Your union reps are part of the problem and a very weak link. These fucking dufuses, virtual ventriloquies dummies, paid mouthpieces, and requite whores make "union bosses" look really really bad. Anytime a union boss is supported by the right-wing (ok, now I'm being partisan, BUT THRUTHFUL!) this shit should send up red flags, set off firework, sirens, and anything else alarming. At the end of the day, "We The People" know your jobs are dangerous as much as they are important. Those of you that protect and serve and do so honorably with pride and professionalism you have our utmost appreciation, support, and thanks. Those of you who do any less should really find other career paths. At the end of the day we're all a part of this society that makes up America, and ALL LIVES MATTER! 


          Obama in a nutshell        

Dear Friends,


Recently someone had sent me an e-mail asking me to join the Friends of Obama network.  Here is a copy of the e-mail I replied with:


… I was questioning whether or not to just delete or respond to your e-mail, I hope you at least give my letter a read before you delete it and curse me.  After all, everyone comes from different circumstances.  I am sure that we have different views of the way our great country should be run.  Each of our diverse views help to make this a great country!


I have never liked John McCain, as he reaches out to the Democrats too often.  However, I agree with him on abortion, gay marriage and the war, and I love his choice of Sarah Palin for his running mate; but this Barack Obama really scares me!


Obama is running on a platform of change but after 4 years in the Senate he has not authored or co-authored any major legislation.  Which knowing what I know now, is not so bad.  Do you know what kind of changes Obama has in mind for our country?  Remember, he is a Socialist with views much like those of Karl Marx.  Electing him would be equal to electing Marx.  As a US Army Veteran, I remember joining the Military to fight Socialism; I could not imagine now voting into power that which I was willing to fight and die to stop.


What Defines Barack Obama:


1.       He voted against banning partial birth abortion, and stated that it was “above his pay grade” to answer a question if life begins at conception. He also voted "no" on notifying parents of minors who get out-of-state abortions. A speech he made in Pennsylvania describes the choice of an abortion being a reasonable alternative to a young pregnant woman being “punished with a baby” for her “mistake.”  There is also video footage on the internet of an Obama speech in which he speaks of his support for teaching science based sex education as early as Kindergarten.  Here is Obama’s explanation of what he said after the public outrage: 

2.       He supports affirmative action in colleges and government which is contrary to a “color-blind Society.”


3.       He voted "Yes" on allowing illegal aliens to participate in Social Security and supports granting driver's licenses to illegal immigrants and extending welfare to them.


4.       He voted "Yes" on comprehensive immigration reform which, had it passed, would have resulted in 20 million instant citizens without a requirement for them to learn the English language.  Once citizenship had been granted, I would expect extended family members to immediately leave their country to join each new citizen in America.  What do you think the effects would have been to Social Security, healthcare costs, law enforcement, and overburdened schools, if that had occurred?

5.       Obama suggests that if he were elected, he would hold a summit meeting (without preconditions) with those world leaders who hate the United States:  Hugo Chavez, Fidel & Raul Castro, Kim Jung Il and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.  Ahmadinejad has actually denied that the Holocaust ever happened and has called for Israel to be wiped off the face of the Earth.


6.       After Russia’s recent invasion of neighboring Georgia, Obama made statements which proved he was not informed that Russia has veto power on the UN Security Council.  In other words, his lack of foreign policy understanding leaves him ill-prepared to negotiate with such nations.


7.       He opposes the Patriot Act and voted "Yes" to providing Habeas Corpus for Guantanamo Bay terrorist detainees.  He has repeatedly denied that the Iraqi surge has succeeded and does not have a clear plan for victory himself.  If the current administration had such policies, do you think that they would have thwarted the 30 domestic terrorism plots discovered since 9/11?  What kind of world would we have today if any of these plots had been successful?  What if all 30 had been?


8.       He supports a Stalinist-style prosecution of the Bush administration for war crimes in connection with the war in Iraq.  Officially, he has only promised to look into it, which means that he would not do it if it equals political suicide.


9.       Obama and Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, have given in to the Environmental Lobby Groups by opposing a vote on any additional drilling of domestic oil.  Pelosi is the single biggest obstructionist to drilling.  They have even proposed increasing taxes on the “big oil companies” which we all know will result in even higher gas prices.  Obama stated that he believes that higher gas prices are not the problem, it is just that the prices rose too fast.  He believes that a credible approach to reducing our use of oil is to over-inflate our tires; this would be just one part of his solution to decreasing our oil dependency.  I guess he does not realize that although this may increase our gas mileage, it will also prematurely wear down our tires, which are made out of rubber, a petroleum product.  (Please note that it is also unsafe to drive a car with over-inflated tires!)


10.    With much of the public opinion against the Bush Administration, it has become easy for the Democrats to play the blame game against them.  The truth is that the Administration’s only major part of the current financial fiasco on Wall Street is that they were the alarmists who brought the crisis notoriety and pushed both parties in Congress to agree that something needed to be done. The House and Senate have been run by the Democrats now for almost 6 years, which places the blame more on the Senate Oversight and Banking Committees.  Obama’s tie-in to all of this?  Money, of course.  Political contributions to be more precise.  Barack Obama’s campaign is the largest recipient of political funds from Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae with a total of $111,849, according to federal campaign finance reports.  

11.    He recently claimed to be on the Senate Banking Committee when he obviously was not.  Maybe he lied about this to give himself the credibility in economic issues which he obviously lacks.  Evidence of this lack of understanding is clearly represented in his desire to make the minimum wage a "living wage" which will ensure higher unemployment rates and inflation.


12.    He is opposed to efforts to privatize Social Security and instead supports increasing the Social Security tax to include your full income.


13.    Recently, Obama has promised that anyone earning under $250,000 a year will receive a tax cut. This sounds really nice but it does not add up with all of his proposed new programs (such as a national police force that would report directly to the President; tax credits to those that pay no income tax; and increased entitlements.)  How does he plan to pay for such programs?  - - - Just for the record, the rich already pay more taxes than the rest of us. We need the rich to provide us jobs.  The more of the tax burden the rich have to bear, the fewer jobs they will be able to provide.


14.    Obama has promised to raise the Capital Gains Tax from the current 15% to 30% on dividends and the sale of stocks.


15.    He voted "No" on repealing the Alternative Minimum Tax and would like to increase the “Death” Tax burden to 60%.  He also wants to increase the top income tax bracket (currently at 35%).  He has opposed legislation that would make the 2001 and 2003 Bush tax cuts permanent.  If you think that this would only increase the taxes of the rich, let me know and I will send you a tax bracket showing your increased tax rate (I will also know if you actually read this or just deleted it).  No matter what Obama has been claiming in the debates, he has a very long record of voting for tax increases and opposing tax relief, having voted against tax payer relief 94 times.


16.    He supports a universal healthcare system for everyone including 12 to 15 million illegal aliens (who do you think will pay for this?).  Trust me, our current system, although greatly flawed, would be better than creating another government-run bureaucracy.  If you think you cannot afford health care now, watch out!


17.    Sadly, in spite of receiving a Harvard education and traveling this great country, Obama actually thought that we had 57 states:   But then again, his citizenship is in question yet he has failed to provide proof.  He claims to have been born in Hawaii, but his birth certificate is an obviously doctored copy of his sister’s.  Growing up in Indonesia, he had duel residency but traveled with an Indonesian passport, which actually listed his religion as “Muslim.”  If he is not a US-born citizen, then he is not eligible to become President.  So why wasn’t he required to provide proof when he filed his candidacy papers?  That is a good question. There is speculation that his recent trip back to Hawaii is to fix his Birth Certificate.


18.    He exploited his trip to Jerusalem’s sacred Western Wall by allowing his written prayer that was stuffed in the wall’s cracks to be published by the media.  The exploitive use of any sacred site for political gain should outrage the devoted members of any religion, but in this case Orthodox Jews in particular.


19.    He is ranked as the most liberal Senator in the Senate today and that takes some doing.  Joe Biden is ranked third.


20.    He was absent from the Senate enough to miss 40% of the votes prior to his run for the Presidency. Would you hire an employee with an attendance record like that?


21.    Joseph Biden & Obama both voted for Alaska’s “bridge to nowhere” that Gov. Palin stopped.


22.    He has questioned harsh penalties for drug dealers and says that street-level drug dealing should be considered a minimum wage affair.


23.    To further the goal of equality between the sexes, Obama has stated that his administration would support women being required to register for the draft.  Although current Department of Defense guidelines restrict women from frontline units in direct combat, one could expect these guidelines to change as well once the draft expansion requirement is in place.


24.    Obama recently stated that he has started smoking again (Hopefully not the marijuana and cocaine he admitted using while enrolled in college.  Should we ask, “What is he smoking?”).  At the very least, his dependence on a legal drug when under the stress of a presidential campaign is disturbing since the stress of actually being President will undoubtedly be a lot higher.


You should question Barack Obama’s choice of friends as that is an indication of what we might find in an Obama Administration:


·         Obama's good friend, William Ayers, currently holds the position of Distinguished Professor of Education at the University of Illinois-Chicago.  He is also a former member of the radical Weather Underground Organization* which claimed responsibility for a dozen bombings between 1970 and 1974.  Ayers is an American terrorist who has no regrets for his murdering of innocent Americans.  He told the New York Times in September 2001, "I don't regret setting bombs...I feel we didn't do enough."  Ayers would have gone to prison had the FBI not botched the evidence against him.  Ayers and Obama grew up in the same neighborhood of Chicago, and although Obama was only eight years old when the WUO bombings occurred, his political success owes Ayers much of the credit.  Obama and Ayers have a 5-year working relationship on Boards:  one was a paid position on the Woods Fund which is a leftist Chicago foundation that provided financial backing to an Arab-American group which is openly hostile to the state of Israel.  Other Board relationships were educational foundations including one organized by Michelle Obama.  Obama has recently tried to distance himself from Ayers stating that he did not know about Ayers’ hatred towards the country.

* Bill Clinton actually commuted the sentences of a couple of convicted Weather Underground members, Susan Rosenberg and Linda Sue Evans, shortly before leaving office in January 2001.

·         Columbia University Professor Rashid Khalidi - Muslim Terrorist Supporter, who has been very critical of the Jewish nation, has also worked with Ayers and Obama on the Woods Fund.  Khalidi also has held a fundraiser for Obama and reportedly has had a long-standing relationship with Obama since the two met and worked together at the University of Chicago.


·         Obama's long-time friend of 17 years, the recently indicted Antonio Rezko is a fundraiser who raised as much as $60,000 in 2003 for Obama’s senatorial campaign.  Mr. Rezko, who was characterized by Hillary Clinton as a “Muslim slumlord,” served as a top adviser to Illinois Democratic Governor, Rod Blagojevich.  Rezko had  helped the Obamas obtain property in Chicago's South Side.  Obama admitted  "There's no doubt I should have seen some red flags in terms of me purchasing a piece of property from him.",CST-NWS-obama05.article; and


·         Obama's Mentor / Spiritual Leader  Rev. Jeremiah Wright, Jr. is a racist, “Nation of Islam” supporter, anti-American,  former Senior Pastor and now Pastor Emeritus of the of the Trinity United Church of Christ, a mega-church in Chicago with around 10,000 members. Fortunately for those who are interested, sermons are available on their website. Wright has recently be accused of adultery with Elizabeth Payne a 37 year old church secretary.  ..Hmm, I thought churches were about building God’s Kingdom and teaching about Christ’s love for this world.  


·         During the presidential campaign, Michelle Obama actually stated “For the first time in my adult life, I am proud of my country, because it feels like hope is making a comeback.”  Why is she proud now? Did she just realize the American dream?


·         Barack Obama has represented ACORN, the Association of Community Organizations for Reform and reportedly trained ACORN staff on strategies for pressuring banks to loan money to high-risk applicants who might not have qualified otherwise – a large part of the financial crisis facing the mortgage industry and our country as a result.  Now ACORN is accused of voter fraud by illegally registering people to vote who are not eligible.  Do you think these people were registered as Democrats or Republicans?

·         Barack Obama’s friends:


·         There are numerous other reports available online that question Obama’s business & personal relationships, citizenship status, policy proposals, etc, etc!


I expect any Obama supporter to be skeptical of all these claims, but I hope you will search out the truth of my statements and pray for our country!  We need a true leader that we can trust in the White House!

Watch this recent add:

Thank you for taking time to read this,


Rick “Average Joe” Smith

Family Man

Denver, CO




          The low wages in Fiji are shocking        
How on earth can a family be fed if workers in Fiji get little more than $2F an hour. Read this from today's Fiji Times.

Fijians need a 'living wage'

Avinesh Gopal
Thursday, June 08, 2017
National Federation Party leader Professor Biman Prasad and Fiji Labour Party leader Mahendra Chaudhry believe Fijians need a "living wage".
Prof Prasad raised the issue at the party's meeting in Lautoka at the weekend.
Mr Chaudhry says it is widely accepted that low wages is the root cause of poverty in the country among working class families.
"It is estimated that some 60 per cent of those in full-time employment are earning wages below the basic needs poverty line (BNPL) currently set at $203 a week. These employees are all in the private sector," he said.
"Government's own survey shows that those in the lower wage group are spending less than $40 a week on food for their families.
"This is absolutely shocking. What can a family of five buy for $40 a week except for the base essentials?
"A living wage pegged to the cost of living and one that meets the basic needs of our workers must be a priority for any caring government."
Mr Chaudhry said it was not correct to suggest that the Government has brought down working poverty from 35 per cent to 11 per cent as Employment Minister Jone Usamate stated in this newspaper a week ago.
"The bottom line is that 60 per cent of our low income earners are receiving wages below the poverty line and that most of them have difficulty spending $40 a week on food for their families."
He said the National Minimum Wage (NMW) of $2.68 an hour was not the answer to the country's problem of tackling poverty.
"We need to raise the national minimum wage rate above starvation wages to a level where a worker is able to meet the basic needs of his family and still be able to save a little.
"What then is a living wage for our workers? This is the crux of the matter."
Mr Chaudhry said the NMW should not become a subject of political propaganda in the lead up to the 2018 election, saying a negotiated NMW should have a bearing on the basic poverty line.
He said an interim solution to the impasse may be to raise NMW to $3.50 per hour to give immediate relief to workers in this category.
The NFP maintains Fiji needs a "living wage".
"Our 'living wage' suite of measures is for a minimum of $200/week or $5/hour net for those on a minimum wage," said Prof Prasad.
"These are not ideas just made up on a whim. We have analysed the trends and the figures and it is very, very possible.
"Grant the NFP the social contract to make it happen, and we will.
"The current minimum wage rate of $2.32 an hour is simply insufficient for a livelihood of a family of four.
"This rate means our workers on minimum wage earn $104.40 for a 45 hour working week. Even if the wage rate is increased to $2.68, it will be $120.60," said Prof Prasad.

          West Yorkshire Combined Authority: Transport & Economic Policy Administrator        
Grade D SP1 £16,015 - SP4 £18,544 per annum: West Yorkshire Combined Authority: Transport & Economic Policy Administrator. Grade D SP1 £16,015 - SP4 £18,544 per annum Living Wage Supplement will be paid for salaries below £16,302 Leeds, West Yorkshire
          March 13, 2015 High School Debate Championship        
Sebastian Williams​ of Gilmour Academy and ​Chandler Koon​ of University School debate the resolution: ​just governments ought to require employers to pay a living wage.
          Breakfast links: Stand still or move forward?        

Keep it short

NCPC voted to strip the height limit recommendations back to the original proposal of just tweaking rules for mechanical penthouses. Earlier, all DC Councilmembers except Marion Barry cosponsored a resolution to keep the height limit, essentially asking Congress to deny more local control. (City Paper)

Pay-by-phone arrives in Alexandria

The City of Alexandria joins DC and Montgomery County by launching a new pay-by-phone smartphone app, allowing residents and visitors to pay for parking via their personal smartphone device. (WBJ)

Huge gains in DC biking

Cycling is growing fast in DC, with the number of bike commuters up 445% since 1990. DC’s rapid bike-culture growth is 3rd in the nation, only behind Chicago and Detroit. (Streetsblog)

Vote on a living wage?

A coalition of local clergy, union leadership, and other activists are pushing to get the minimum wage hike on the ballot for November 2014. The group must collect 23,000 signatures to accomplish this goal. (Washington Times)

A better bike map?

A biking and mapping enthusiast in San Francisco created a set of maps to help cyclists get around San Francisco. The maps look a lot like a map of transit infrastructure, intentionally.  (Atlantic Cities)

A new Shaw

The Shaw neighborhood has seen big changes around the O Street Market since a high-profile shooting in 1994. Crime is down and rents are up, but what of the old neighborhood will remain? (Post)

Deeds stabbed, son shot

The son of former Virginia gubernatorial candidate Creigh Deeds stabbed his father and killed himself, news reports are saying. Gus Deeds had been hospitalized Monday, but “released because because no psychiatric bed could be located across a wide area of western Virginia.” (NBC4, Richmond Times-Dispatch)


Despite not meeting GSA requirements, Louduon County still wants the FBI. (WBJ) ... DC is issuing warning tickets to educate people to not park in the H Street streetcar lanes. (Hill Rag) ... How much will the Silver Line help with traffic? (PlanItMetro)

Top image: Photo by elminium on Flickr.

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          Breakfast links: Coordinating campaigns        

A regional raise?

Leaders in DC and Prince George’s and Montgomery Counties are working to coordinate efforts to raise the minimum wage to $11.50 an hour over three years.  (Gazette)

Local businesses want minimum wage hike

Local small businesses, including DC Brau, have shown support for Tommy Wells’ living wage bill. The proposed bill would increase the minimum wage to $10.25. (DCist)

More affordable zoning?

An updated zoning code could potentially encourage the development of additional affordable units in Montgomery County. (Gazette)

Affordable housing changes in Rockville?

Rockville housing staff are considering   several changes   to the affordable housing ordinances. The changes would cap high amenity fees often charged by senior living communities. (Gazette)

Maryland hospitals plan moves

Washington Adventist Hospital in Takoma Park and Dimensions Healthcare System in Cheverly are proposing new facilities outside the Beltway, a move that DC hospitals may oppose. (WBJ)

Should we save this Arlington school?

The Wilson School in Rosslyn, built in 1910, is to be torn down, and replaced by a mixed-use development. Some local residents want to save the property, which they argue has historic value. (ArlNow)

Few new condos in DC

The supply of new condos in DC fell to the lowest level in a decade, according to a new report. New condo prices have also risen 10% since last year. (Urban Turf)

The history of the skyscraper

The New York Times has compiled an interactive video history of high rise buildings. What can DC learn, given its consideration of changing the height limit? (City Paper)

DC fails to pay Metro

Due to the federal shutdown, the DC government is unable to make its quarterly payment to WMATA. DC is now over a week past due. (Post)

An urban planning fashion line?

Architect Azin Valy created a new fashion line inspired by an exhibition on urban planning at the Museum of Modern Art. (Atlantic Cities)

Top image: Photo by Dan Reed on Flickr.

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          Breakfast links: Navy Yard alleged shooter dead        

DC Navy Yard shooting kills 12, wounds 14

A gunman killed a dozen people at Navy Yard on Monday morning. The FBI identified a 34-year-old man, discharged from the Navy Reserve in 2011, as the shooter. Authorities believe he was the only shooter. (Post)

MoCo settles over land dispute with church

Montgomery County will pay $1.25 million a congregation to not build a church in the county’s agricultural reserve. The church will locate in Silver Spring instead. (Gazette)

Maryland court allows hospital expansion

Despite protests from local neighbors, a Maryland Court of Special Appeals is allowing Suburban Hospital to proceed with plans to expand in Bethesda. (BethesdaNow)

Labor and wage debate continues in DC

Councilman Wells is proposing a living wage bill for all. Councilman Catania is proposing his own minimum wage bill, which would also expand paid sick leave to District restaurant workers.  (WBJ)

How cops treat cyclists in DC

A report from the DC Office of Police Complaints looks at how DC Police enforce laws affecting cyclists. The report found cyclists involved in crashes were interviewed at the scene only 63% of the time. (WABA)

Arlington gets density and dollars

Arlington County will make $15 million off of a deal to increase the office density of the PenPlace project in Pentagon City. (WBJ)

Virginia gets more transportation funding

Virginia will receive an additional $57 million federal funding for transportation. The funds were originally allocated to other states that could not fully obligate their funding to projects. (WTOP)

Transportation focused PAC gains power in NYC

StreetsPAC, a transit focused political action committee in New York City demonstrated power in recent elections. The PAC endorsed a winner in 13 of 18 City Council races. (Streetsblog)

Top image: Photo by NCinDC on Flickr.

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          The Basics of a Basic Income        

About a month ago, Switzerland made international news by holding a referendum on whether or not to give all Swiss citizens a basic income of about $2800 a month. Although the date for the vote still hasn’t been set (as far as I can tell), it certainly raised quite a buzz as analysts tried to frame the pros and cons of a proposal that, quite frankly, is not a new idea at all. Here’s a good summary of some of the arguments and research on the issue.

At its heart, a “basic income” proposal is a system in which each resident of a particular country or region receives a sum of money unconditionally by the government. Unlike many systems of welfare, such money comes with no strings attached, and no means testing to ensure that one needs such assistance. This means that it cuts out much of the bureaucracy involved with welfare benefits: no more case workers ensuring that people are indeed looking for work; no more food stamps that force individuals to spend money on food rather than on other items that may be equally necessary. The system, at least in one sense, is inherently fair, in that everyone in the country receives the same amount: rich or poor, every person gets the basic income from the government.

It is these sorts of qualities about the basic income that have made it appealing to both ends of the political spectrum. Liberals concerned with “social safety nets” and reduction of poverty can endorse its potential to give everyone a living wage. Conservatives concerned with bloated government bureaucracies can get behind the streamlining of the welfare system (since it eliminates much of the bureaucracy), and also its potential to offer similar advantages as the minimum wage, but perhaps without distorting market-based labour incentives to the same degree.1 And that’s why even arch-libertarian Milton Friedman has advocated a “negative income tax” (a very similar type of system) to raise low-income individuals up to a minimum level of income.

Given what I feel are the positive benefits of a basic income, I wanted to do some rough calculations to determine if giving everyone a lump sum of money would be feasible in Canada. Obviously, even if the program is good, it still needs to be possible to implement given our current government budgeting and so forth. So, using this summary of revenues and expenses by the federal government, I did some rough back-of-the-envelope calculations to figure out just how feasible a basic income of $10,000 per year would be.2

Dismantling the “Welfare State”

I started by identifying some of the federal expenses that are currently in place to handle welfare and other wealth transfer programs, which a basic income would presumably make unnecessary. This included: support to elderly ($38 billion), EI benefits ($17.6 billion), GST credits ($3.9 billion), transfers for First Nations ($7.7 billion), and assistance to farmers ($1.7 billion). Note that of course not all of these programs would necessarily need to be axed entirely, but they would certainly be less necessary if a basic income were implemented. In total, these programs add up to $68.9 billion. If all of these programs were cut entirely, the federal government would go from a $26.2 billion deficit to a $42.7 billion surplus. That’s without touching any other government programs at all.

Taking that $42.7 billion and distributing it to every Canadian citizen over 193 would only get us up to $1578 per person, per year. So that’s clearly not enough. To get us up to a full $10,000 per person would take another $228 billion in revenues. Sounds completely ridiculous, doesn’t it?

Cutting out the Middle-Man

Of course, it’s important to realize that for a basic income, most of that money would be taken from the employed and then given right back. The idea of a basic income is to give that income to every citizen. Since about 85% of Canadians make over $10,000 per year anyway,4 they would get money taken away in taxes and then just given right back to them. Those who make the median income would get the same amount of money back, and those who have a higher income would get a little less back than what they gave, but the point is that much of that $228 billion is essentially tax-neutral for most people. Given this, it probably makes more sense to calculate things in terms of a negative income tax model. The basic idea is the same: it’s just that instead of everyone getting a cheque for $10,000 from the government, low-income individuals simply get their income “topped up” by the government through tax rebates. This cuts out a lot of the money being passed around while still accomplishing the same thing.5

About 7.5% of Canadians over 19 fall below the $5000 range in yearly income, and another 7.0% fall between $5000-10,000.6 I wish I had access to more fine-grained data, but if we give everyone in the first category a $10,000 top-up, and everyone in the second category a $5000 top-up, that gives us a relatively conservative estimate (i.e., it likely over-estimates the amount of revenue necessary). With those estimates, it ends up that the government would need $29.8 billion in revenues to provide a negative income tax of $10,000 to everyone. That’s well within the $42.7 billion surplus created by cutting out other welfare programs.

There is also another group of individuals (about 5.4% of Canadians over 19)7, however, who didn’t file taxes at all. This can be due to several reasons, including individuals with no income, or seniors who only receive government benefits and thus have low or no taxable income.8 Not all of these people are going to be in poverty. But let’s be extra conservative and include all of them as well. That gives us a final estimate of $44.3 billion in revenues needed to provide a negative income tax of $10,000. Given the budget surplus from cutting back welfare programs, that would leave the government needing to collect an extra $1.6 billion—which, to put that in perspective, is about 5.6% of the revenue they collect each year from GST, or 1.3% of what they collect in income tax each year. In other words, when it comes down to it, using fairly conservative estimates, the government could essentially eliminate poverty for all Canadians by raising income tax revenues by 1%. That, to me, sounds like a pretty reasonable trade-off.


I’m fully aware that the numbers I’m using can come out somewhat different using different assumptions, different cut-off values, and so on. But I think the estimates I’ve made are fairly reasonable, and using slightly different estimates won’t change the end result much. Ultimately, I think it’s fairly clear that instituting a basic income (or a negative income tax) would be quite feasible in Canada. It could be phased in over a number of years, as the currently existing social programs are scaled back. And although it certainly would lead to some very interesting changes in society and labour, I think the possibility of providing Canadians with a strong sense of financial autonomy is well worth it. People who wanted to upgrade their education could do so without feeling the sting of financial pressure. Parents could afford to stay home with their kids more often. And low-income individuals and families who struggle to stay afloat and out of debt could perhaps begin to gain traction. In short, I think it’s time to take the idea of a basic income seriously.

To learn more about basic income initiatives, here are a few resources:

Wikipedia, Basic Income Basic Income Earth Network (see especially their About page) Basic Income Canada Network The previously-linked New York Times article about the recent Switzerland initiative

Notes:This is somewhat of a debatable point, since giving everyone a basic income means that people will be less reliant on employment. This has led some critics to argue that it offers disincentives to work. I do agree that a basic income may distort market incentives to some degree, but perhaps in the right direction: low-wage, unpleasant jobs like those in fast food may actually be paid more, to compensate for the poor or unpleasant working conditions. It is also interesting to note that in at least one case where a basic income program was tested (Dauphin, Manitoba), the people who were less likely to work were new mothers—who took time off work to spend more time with their children—and working teenagers—who spent more time in school. I find neither of these situations to be a negative thing.Note that this is significantly less than the Swiss referendum was proposing. However, it is a number that gets floated around a lot when a basic income is discussed, so it is at least a reasonable starting point.What exactly to do with children is an interesting question, but a separate issue. I specifically did not do anything to the children’s benefits programs as a way of ensuring that parents would receive more money when raising kids, but without the silly idea that children should receive $10,000 just like adults. The age 19 cutoff is primarily because that was the nearest age category that Statistics Canada offered for population data. [source]Source: Individuals by total income level.I should note that economists have put forward several different types of negative income tax models, some of which are designed to taper off top-up amounts so that those making under the guaranteed income are still incentivized to work. While these models have some merit, the details are less consequential for my purpose here of determining, in broad strokes, whether a basic income is feasible.Source: Individuals by total income level.This was found by subtracting the number of people for which income tax information is available here from the census population data for people over 19.Source: User guide for the individual incomeContinue Reading

This is a post from Disjointed Thinking.

The original can be found here: The Basics of a Basic Income


More nonsense research on IQ. Are high IQ people more racist?

Maybe I am missing something but I think that the research below has simply shown that people who are good at recognizing patterns are good at recognizing patterns.

It is true that the Raven's IQ test is a test of pattern recognition.  Pattern recognition is a major part of IQ. So the geniuses below did a study in which people were presented with some graphics that were patterned in a certain way.  They then tested the people who had been shown the patterned graphics  to find out if they had seen and learned the pattern in the graphics.  Some had seen it. Some had not.

They found that high scorers on the Ravens pattern recognition test were more likely to have learned the pattern that had been presented to them in the graphics of the experiment. People who were good at detecting one lot of patterns were good at detecting other patterns. In other words, they confirmed that good pattern recognition was part of IQ -- which  we already knew.

So what the heck is going on?  Why did this tomfoolery get published?  It is because pattern recognition is RACIST!  If you see a pattern in people who cry "Allahu Akhbar" when they kill other people and conclude that Muslims might be more dangerous than others, that is PREJUDICE.  I would argue that it is POSTJUDICE -- judging from experience -- but that makes me a racist apparently. Recognizing patterns is BIAS!  You are not allowed to learn from experience

A new study complicates the narrative that only unintelligent people are prejudiced. The paper, published recently in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, suggests smart people are actually more at risk of stereotyping others.

The study consisted of a series of experiments, all of which suggested that people who performed better on a test of pattern detection—a measure of cognitive ability—were also quicker to form and apply stereotypes.

First, researchers from New York University showed 271 participants a series of pictures of red, blue, and yellow cartoon aliens with different facial features, paired with a statement of either a nice behavior (“gave another alien a bouquet of flowers”) or a rude one (“spat in another alien’s face”):

Most of the pairings were random, but two were skewed so that keen observers might pick up on a pattern: 80 percent of the blue aliens were paired with unfriendly behaviors, and 80 percent of the yellow aliens were paired with nice ones. The subjects didn’t know if the statements about the aliens were true or false. In this way, the study tried to mimic how people actually form prejudices about certain groups, like through anecdotes in the media or through portrayals in TV shows.

Later, the subjects were asked to pick which alien had committed a given behavior from a lineup:

The participants then took a test called the Raven’s Advanced Progressive Matrices, a pattern-based exam that’s a common measure of human intelligence.

The participants who were better pattern detectors were more likely to make stereotypical errors: They tended to ascribe the friendly behaviors to the wrong yellow alien, and the unfriendly behaviors to the wrong blue alien. Meanwhile, they were less likely to ascribe the behavior to a different-colored alien.

A second study showed similar results, but for measures of implicit bias. That is, smarter participants were quicker to stereotype the aliens in the course of a word-sorting task, even if they didn’t realize they were doing it.

Next, the researchers tried it with human faces, showing a new set of participants a series of computer-generated pictures of men with either wide or narrow nose bridges:

Here too, 80 percent of the narrow nose-bridge men were paired with friendly behaviors, while 80 percent of the wide nose-bridge men were supposedly unfriendly. The participants were then partnered with a new set of pictures of men for a trust game using fake money. Again, superior pattern detectors gave more money to the characters with narrow nose bridges, suggesting they had learned the stereotype about friendliness and employed it in judging the new men.

These depressing results suggest there’s a downside to being smart—it makes you risk reading too much into a situation and drawing inappropriate conclusions.



The Democrats' “Rising Star”. A look at the radical record of Kamala Harris

The pictures of Harris generally make her look quite light-skinned.  Yet she is of Southern Indian and Jamaican descent.  Do picture editors deliberately lighten her skin?  If so, is that not racism?

As House and Senate Democrats press forward with their quest to destroy Donald Trump's presidency by any means necessary, they are simultaneously focused on finding someone in their ranks who could be an effective presidential candidate for their own party in 2020. Fifty-three-year-old Kamala Harris, who served as the Attorney General of California from 2011-16 and then filled the vacant U.S. Senate seat that had been occupied for a quarter-century by Barbara Boxer, is someone whom they will undoubtedly look at very closely. To be sure, Harris possesses all the qualifications necessary to be a Democratic leader, insofar as she is a far leftist in the mold of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton — but without the baggage of Obama's extensive ties to domestic terrorists, anti-Semites, and America-hating Marxists, or of Hillary's status as a money-grubbing thief who feloniously violated the Espionage Act more times than anyone can count.

Consider, for instance, Harris's stance on immigration. In December 2012, during her tenure as California's Attorney General, she issued a memo informing all the executives of law-enforcement agencies statewide that they could “make their own decisions about whether to fulfill” Immigration & Customs Enforcement detainers, which are temporary holds that federal immigration authorities place on municipal prisoners who are suspected of being eligible for deportation.

After an illegal alien named Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez — a convicted felon who had been deported from the United States on five separate occasions — was released from prison in April 2015 and subsequently murdered a 32-year-old San Francisco woman named Kathryn Steinle, Harris backed up the city sheriff's decision to release Lopez-Sanchez without first calling immigration authorities.

During Harris's Senate run in 2016, her campaign website stated that “everyone should have access to public education, public health, and public safety regardless of their immigration status”; that Harris, if elected, would “fight for comprehensive immigration reform that creates a fair pathway to citizenship” for America's “11 million undocumented immigrants”; that she would “protect President Obama’s immigration executive actions,” which shielded several million illegals from deportation; and that the U.S. had a duty to “responsibly resettle refugees” from Syria and other war-torn, terrorism-infested nations around the world.

But then again, America's national security has never been high on Kamala Harris's list of priorities. In September 2015, for instance, she spoke out in support of the nuclear deal that the Obama administration had negotiated with the government of Iran — an agreement that allowed the Islamist regime in Tehran to enrich uranium, build advanced centrifuges, purchase ballistic missiles, fund terrorism, and be guaranteed of having a near-zero breakout time to the development of a nuclear bomb approximately a decade down the road. But by Harris's reckoning, the accord represented “the best available option for blocking Iran from developing nuclear weapons capability and to avoid potentially disastrous military conflict in the Middle East.”

In 2015 as well, Harris launched an investigation of journalist/anti-abortion activist David Daleiden, who had recently made headlines by releasing undercover videos demonstrating that Planned Parenthood routinely violated federal law by collecting and selling fetal tissue and body parts. As National Review reports: “The basis for investigating Daleiden was his appearing to have used a fake California driver’s license to hide his identity from Planned Parenthood, and the suspicion that he violated Planned Parenthood’s privacy. Those trivial allegations were enough for Harris to have eleven police officers raid Daleiden’s house, confiscate his computers and hard drives, some private documents, and all the yet-unreleased Planned Parenthood footage Daleiden had shot over two years. When Daleiden called his lawyer, Harris’s raiders tried to confiscate his phone too.”

It should be noted that Harris is no disinterested observer in matters involving Planned Parenthood and the abortion movement at large. When she ran for the Senate in 2016, for instance, her campaign website featured a petition to “protect” the “important work” of Planned Parenthood, which, along with its affiliates and employees, contributed at least $30,000 to the Harris campaign. Other pro-abortion groups and their affiliates, meanwhile, donated at least $50,000 more.

In environmental matters as well, Harris does not deviate one iota from left-wing orthodoxy. In 2016, she was one of 17 Attorneys General who joined “AGs United for Clean Power” (AGUCP), a group launched by former Vice President Al Gore. AGUCP's objective is to file criminal fraud charges against fossil-fuel companies (and their supporters) that fail to explicitly endorse the notion that greenhouse gas emissions associated with human industrial activity are chiefly responsible for potentially catastrophic “climate change.” Most notably, Harris and New York AG Eric Schneiderman together launched an investigation into ExxonMobil for allegedly funding research that questioned the validity of climate-change alarmism.

When Harris subsequently ran for the Senate, her campaign website assured voters that she would “stand up to the climate change deniers and fight to pass national climate change legislation that promotes innovation like establishing a carbon tax or creating a cap-and-trade market for carbon pollution.”

That same campaign website also vowed that Harris would seek to:

    “make the minimum wage a living wage and tie it to inflation” – notwithstanding the reams of evidence that minimum-wage hikes invariably lead to increased unemployment among young people and unskilled, low-income workers;
“support President Obama's “plan for making community colleges free” – with no explanation as to how a new entitlement like this could be justified in light of the fact that we are a nation already bearing the crushing burden of a $20 trillion fiscal operating debt, and at least $220 trillion in unfunded future liabilities;

    support “expanding access to Head Start [and] Early Head Start, and creating national universal pre-kindergarten” — even though large bodies of empirical evidence have exposed Head Start as an ineffective, virtually useless boondoggle;

    “make it a priority to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act,” legislation rooted in the thoroughly discredited notion that “women earn about 21 percent less” than equally qualified, equally credentialed men in the workforce;

    end “mass incarceration” by “roll[ing] back draconian sentencing laws for nonviolent drug offenses” — a proposal founded on the baseless premise that America's criminal-justice system discriminates against nonwhites;

    “end federal bans on student loans, food stamps, housing, and voting rights for ex-offenders”; and

    “stop voter suppression” measures like Voter ID laws.

When President Trump nominated Judge Neil Gorsuch to the U.S. Supreme Court four months ago, Harris said: “Judge Gorsuch has consistently valued legalisms over real lives. I won't support his nomination.” As the American Thinker aptly pointed out at that time: “'[L]egalisms' (aka what the law actually says) are the very basis of the rule of law. When [Harris] touts 'real lives,' [and] not the law, as the proper basis for SCOTUS rulings, she openly endorses a political system based on favoritism, not the rule of law.”

Kamala Harris has frequently been called one of the Democratic Party's “rising stars.” Given her steadfast commitment to open borders, her utter contempt for the rule of law, her low regard for American national security, her radical stance in favor of unrestricted taxpayer-funded abortion rights, her endorsement of environmental policies that would cripple the American economy while doing nothing to promote clean air or water, her support for massive government deficit spending as the all-purpose solution for every social and political challenge facing mankind, one can only conclude that Harris is, indeed, a rising Democrat star. With credentials like these, what else could she possibly be?



For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH,  POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated),  a Coral reef compendium and an IQ compendium. (Both updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on THE PSYCHOLOGIST.

Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here (Pictorial) or  here  (Personal)


          Native Caucus = Strength in Numbers        
From winning state bonding funds for redesign and improvements for the Minneapolis American Indian Center to preserving funding for Indian education programs, the newly-formed Native Caucus in the Minnesota Legislature is showing again there is strength in numbers. Voters in the last election added two more Native Americans to the Minnesota House of Representatives, making a small Native Caucus of four women. They, in turn, joined with House and Senate members from Hispanic/Latino, Hmong and other Asian, Somali and Black American heritages to form a 14-member People of Color Indigenous (POCI) Caucus to fight collaboratively for racial and economic equality issues during the 2017 legislative session. New to the Legislature are Reps. Jamie Becker-Finn, of Roseville (District 42B); and Mary Kunesh-Podein, New Brighton (41B). They joined Reps. Peggy Flanagan, St. Louis Park (46A), who won a special election in 2015 and a full term in November; and three-term veteran Susan Allen, of Minneapolis (62B)  All Native and POCI members are DFLers. That means they are minority individuals combining talents within the minority party of both houses of the Minnesota Legislature. It also means they needed to work offensively and defensively with Republican lawmakers and committee chairs to seek new programs and funds while preserving programs and funds already serving their constituents and communities. “It is hard for me to imagine doing this job without the Native Caucus and the POCI caucus,” said new House member Becker-Finn. “I think there is strength in numbers, but it also gave me strength as an individual to look across the House floor and see Representative Flanagan and know that I was not alone in what I was fighting for.”  Reaching out and banding together worked, at least in the eyes of Mary LaGarde, executive director of the Minneapolis American Indian Center. The caucus coauthored and supported legislative efforts for the Center's $155,000 renovation pre-design funding that was led by Rep. Karen Clark (62A), who represents that area of south Minneapolis. LaGarde said design work and mechanical upgrade plans will be prepared by late fall at the earliest. Ever a diplomat, LaGarde said she was pleased that Gov. Mark Dayton, a DFLer, included the Center’s funding in his state bonding bill recommendations, and that Clark and Allen were able to get Republican legislative leaders to study and accept the proposal. Key among them was Rep. Dean Urdahl (18A), R-Grove City and the House Capital Investment chair. Given that there are now enough Native heritage members of the Legislature to actually work as a caucus, The Circle asked the four lawmakers to assess what was accomplished, what wasn’t, and how working together in Native and POCI (pronounced “posse”) caucuses worked. Allen provided a long list of bills either passed or incorporated into larger, omnibus legislation from the state’s Revisor of Statutes Office that included: Tax exemptions for tribal clinics in cities off of tribal lands, and including income earned by tribal members working on reservations for eligibility for Minnesota Working Family Tax Credits. Tribal contract school aid for 2018 and 2019. American Indian education aid and American Indian teacher preparation grants for the next two years. Tribal college grants and an Indian scholarship program administered at Bemidji State University. Opioid Abuse Prevention Pilot projects across the state that include Native communities. Funding for the Indian Affairs Council for a variety of programs, including to preserve Dakota and Ojibwe language, support for the Niiganne Ojibwe Immersion School, Wicoie Nandagikendan Urban Immersion Project, Baby’s Space and other Indian Affairs Council partners. A grant to the American Indian Council to carry out responsibilities for the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act. Grants for the American Indian Opportunities and Industrialization Center, in collaboration with the Northwest Indian Community Development Center, to help reduce educational disparities for American Indian students and adults. Funds for the state’s Housing Finance Agency for use in encouraging housing projects for American Indians and communities of color, and for a home ownership assistance program for those communities. And, $1.5 million in funds for the Department of Natural Resources as part of an agreement in which the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe will acquire 45 acres of aquatic and wildlife habitat at an historic meeting place between explorer Henry Schoolcraft and Anishinabe people. The land will be open to the public and not put in federal trust through the Bureau of Indian Affairs. Of course, nearly everything else that passed the Legislature and was signed into law will have an impact on Minnesota Indian Country along with all other communities within the state. For Allen, the “dean” of the Native Caucus, there was as much frustration over what wasn’t done as there was satisfaction over what she deemed to be accomplishments. The Legislature mostly ignored the chaos in Washington and how federal programs in transition might come back and harm state and local governments and their shared programs, she said. As a result, she added, the Legislature “squandered most of the $1.65 billion (state) budget surplus by redistributing it to the wealthy and further widening inequality between the wealthy and people struggling to secure and maintain regular employment that pays a living wage.” The two caucuses working together did hold off legislative efforts to prohibit local governments, such as the city of Minneapolis, from addressing economic inequality issues such as raising minimum wages. They also were instrumental in preventing legislative efforts aimed at disallowing citizen protests. The strength in numbers didn’t just come from the members of the Legislature. It was also reflected by citizens who came to support the caucus members. For instance, a House debate on an oil pipeline amendment drew Native people and environmentalist allies, “and was the most powerful day of my legislative career thus far,” said Becker-Finn. “To hear the drum reverberate in our State Capitol – it was a very powerful and also effective at showing how much people in our communities care about the issue,” she said. Kunesh-Podein, meanwhile, said being able to tell personal stories from family experiences helped other lawmakers grasp how public policy plays out in human terms. When funds for American Indian students and tribal schools were being excluded from initial budget bills, “being a member of the POCI caucus gave me the courage and voice to raise this ‘oversight’ on the House floor. “It also compelled me to share my family’s history of trauma related to being removed from the Standing Rock Reservation and being sent to the Carlisle Indian Boarding School in Pennsylvania. At the end of the session, and after our collective perseverance and personal conversations with committee members, I was elated to see that monies were put back into the education omnibus bill.” Four members of the House help make other legislators aware of tribes and indigenous people, the members said. But even greater strength comes from teaming with POCI members who represent other “marginalized” communities in Minnesota, Kunesh-Podein said. Immigrants live in constant fear of deportation; and women’s reproductive rights and economic opportunities are under constant attack, she said. With POCI, she said, “we have a powerful, collective voice for these constituents.”
          Crystal Palace urged to pay staff London Living Wage by Sadiq Khan        
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has written to Crystal Palace urging them to pay every member of staff at the top-flight football club the London Living Wage.
          Comment on About Me by hector j carballosa        
A student brought your Post article on McDonald's budget plan to me as part of an assignment. Half-way through I was nearly certain of your Libertarian viewpoints. By the end of the article, I understood why I've seen the Post and its writers denigrated online: you make no mention of how that budget affects someone who is a parent or (AND) attempting to make it through college, which is where I teach, how it affects a hospice caretaker, a vet with PTSD and struggling to deal with the VA, a teenager who's bounced from foster home to foster home and is trying to create a decent life, and so on. In that article, you make many assumptions, and as an old Air Force Master Sergeant told me, when you assume, you make an ass out of u and me. How can you assume that many of your readers will not note the massive gaps of knowledge (and empathy, sympathy) which you leave out? It's insulting. If you'd like a simple list of unsupported statements, just reply. Honestly, and respectfully, you should be ASHAMED to imagine that the good fortune you've had in your life is common to others. I have been teaching in public schools and college for about 17 years, and I've seen the hardest working POOR people here, yet writers like you seem to give these people zero credit, that Post article being an example. Writing like what I saw in the Post simply reveals a failure to acknowledge that MANY people in this country weren't born with the same SES advantages which you and others have enjoyed as the status quo. Please, spend more time working with poor people, disabled people, people in hospice, abuse victims and EXPLAIN TO ALL OF THEM WHAT IS YOUR IDEA OF A LIVING WAGE. Be well and healthy.
          Trump had ‘The Art of the Deal.’ Now Democrats say their economic agenda is ‘A Better Deal.’        
**SNIP** Democratic leaders shared few details to preserve suspense around the plan, which is scheduled to be unveiled Monday at an event in Virginia’s 10th Congressional District, where the party hopes to defeat incumbent Rep. Barbara Comstock (R). But some lawmakers, aides and outside advocates consulted on the new agenda said that it is expected to focus on new proposals to fund job-training programs, renegotiate trade deals and address soaring prescription-drug costs, as well as other issues. It is also expected to endorse long-held Democratic principles, including “a living wage” of $15 per hour and already unveiled spending plans for...
          A Tale of Two Cities        
So, Seattle's minimum wage is now $13/hr.  What effect has that had?

According to one story, nothing bad:
The city of Seattle is in the process of gradually phasing in a $15-per-hour minimum wage: It has now reached $13 for workers at large companies and will move up to $15 in 2021 for all workers. As the wage rises, the city is providing a lot of data on the effects of the policy, and that data is continually proving helpful to activists as they work to raise the wage in other cities, states, and nationally (and embarrassing to the economists who sounded alarm bells about how damaging a living wage would be for the city).

One common critique of higher minimum wages is that they also raise the cost of living. But last year, an initial study from the University of Washington found that retailers, despite having to pay their workers more, weren’t raising prices. Another is that higher pay will lead to fewer shifts and fewer jobs. And while those same UW researchers are analyzing the data, other researchers at UC Berkeley’s Institute for Research on Labor and Employment (IRLE) used an innovative model to prove that the city’s increased minimum wage has had no negative effect on job availability.
According to another, nazzo fast, Guido:
In January 2016, Seattle’s minimum wage jumped from $11 an hour to $13 for large employers, the second big increase in less than a year. New research released Monday by a team of economists at the University of Washington suggests the wage hike may have come at a significant cost: The increase led to steep declines in employment for low-wage workers, and a drop in hours for those who kept their jobs. Crucially, the negative impact of lost jobs and hours more than offset the benefits of higher wages — on average, low-wage workers earned $125 per month less because of the higher wage, a small but significant decline.
$125/month is $1,500/year or about a 6% drop for a full-time minimum wage worker at $11/hr. Not to mention that "steep decline in employment for low-wage workers."

Which story do you believe? The one sourced out of a UC Berkeley report, or the one sourced out of a University of Washington report?

And how many jobs were lost due to closed businesses related to the minimum wage increase?
          Still talking to the hand        
The Hand by Pants
I heard an unfamiliar expression the other day - 'lifestyle refugee'. I gather it refers to someone who has chosen to embark on a particularly severe form of tree-slash-sea change.

'I think they mean you, Pants.'

'Barney, will you shut the fuck up.'

I mean no disrespect to the millions of real refugees who've been forced to trudge across Europe in search of the most basic of human needs, but I have to admit that seeking 'refuge' is not a million miles removed from what we do here at Seat of Pants. To be clear - we are very grateful for the beauty and security of our Larrikin's End hideaway, but we are less pleased with the diet of intellectual empty calories and even obvious and blatant lies on which we are expected to satisfy our still-active minds.

It comes as no surprise to me at all that some young, idealistic refugees from Syria, Libya and Iraq,  having reached safety and had a chance to draw breath, might find themselves horrified to discover that they have risked their lives for a future comprising Coke, McDonald's and Keeping Up with the Kardashians. Perhaps they had some understanding of the post-WW2 social settlement that had, until relatively recently, underpinned the stability and cultural flourishing of Europe and the Anglophone countries for which they strike out with the greatest of hope. Capitalists love to claim credit for our spectacular lifestyle advances since 1945, but higher worker wages, decent housing and access to education and healthcare created the rising tide that lifted all boats. These were not provided by capitalism but fiercely fought for by socialists and grudgingly conceded by business owners left with no choice but to pay some tax.

It's very Australian to suspend compassion towards the desperate fellow humans to whom we've extended our largesse if they display even a hint of ingratitude or non-cooperation. Our outrage is almost always fuelled by incongruity. We simply don't get it if they don't immediately fall in love with our terrible food and menu of cultural options limited to watching other people chase a ball around or splashing about in swirling water. We're constantly being told that anything other than total embrace of our national inanities is a 'threat to our way of life'. I can only imagine the shock once it sinks in that our version of 'the west' really is culturally bankrupt. It's been bad enough for me and I should have known better.

John Gray, writing in Lapham's Quarterly has this to say about the rise of ISIS,

'It is baffling only for those who believe—despite everything that occurred in the twentieth century—that modernization and civilization are advancing hand in hand. In fact, now as in the past some of the most modern movements are among the most barbaric. But to admit this would mean surrendering the ruling political faith, a decayed form of liberalism without which Western leaders and opinion formers would be disoriented and lost. To accept that liberal societies may not be “on the right side of history” would leave their lives drained of significance, while a stoical response—which is ready to fight while being doubtful of ultimate victory—seems to be beyond their powers. With mounting bewilderment and desperation, they cling to the faith that the normal course of history has somehow been temporarily derailed.'

Yep, and those of us who ignore our history are doomed to repeat it. Capitalism is, quite literally, the monster that devoured Cleveland - to quote my hero Maynard G. Krebs. The vacuum of value we're experiencing now is the beginning of its grizzly end. Douglas Rushkoff, whose most recent book is Throwing Rocks at the Google Bus, (and what a great idea that is), said this in recent interview on our ABC Radio National,

'Here in America, many Walmart branches are going out of business because they've bankrupted the communities on which they depended. They put everybody else out of business, they don't pay a living wage, so they've gotten to the point where they don't have customers, they just have poor people living around them. That's not a good long-term business strategy.

'But when you are looking at quarter-over-quarter growth, when you are a CEO who just wants to get another two or three quarters of bonuses out of this and then leave, then that's what you're going to do. It's bankrupting not just the people, it's bankrupting corporate America as well.'

This is what it looks like when a system starts eating itself. We don't want to believe it's happening because the structure appears to have served us so well, and what else is there? Some of us do believe and wonder what we can do in mitigation. Believe me, if there were an honest and serious socialist revolution to join, I'd be there in seconds. I long for that. I actually believe in collectivism. The best working experiences of my life were in collectives. If we could just eliminate the zero-sum-game problem of power corrupting... there's a human advance that's crying out for invention. Any takers from the corporate sector? Nah, didn't think so.

I absolutely get why people who've been raised with a community ethic, as many have in Asia and the Middle East, would be horrified when they see that all we seem to do is consume and compete, whilst waxing lyrical that we do nothing of the sort. I'm less clear on why they think that sexually harassing young girls in the street is the antidote to that. Kant said, 'a sane child put with mad children will go mad.' I suspect that may be true.

The Pants strategy is not in any way a solution to the problems of the world. Even I don't believe that we can stop the monster that devoured Cleveland from eating us all for supper, eventually. I do, however, think that those of us who still want humanity to have half a chance of surviving, can and should use whatever passive weapons we have at our disposal to fend it off for as long as possible. We might not be able to stop but we can stall. I don't shop - even though I can. I've pared down the need for buying to the bare basics, (books, wine, smoked salmon). I grow my own vegetables. I'm in a garden club and now have an allotment as well as my own large patch at home. I use recycled framed boards from charity shops for my paintings. I don't buy clothes - I mend and make do.

I'm as obnoxious as I can get away with when dealing with the few authorities and corporations I can't avoid. The bigger the entity, the more belligerent I become - in the nicest possible way, of course. I make my life as simple as possible. Capitalism hates that. The most potent power a woman has is to withdraw cooperation. I exercise that power. No entreaties to my vanity will ever tempt me to buy creams or pay money to have my hair cut or volunteer my labour to cover for the shortfall in social spending.

Back to John Gray,

'For many in the West, the threat ISIS poses to their view of the world seems a greater disaster than the atrocities ISIS has committed and threatens to repeat. The bafflement with which the West approaches the group is a symptom of the senility of the liberal mind, a condition for which there is no obvious remedy. Perhaps what our culture lacks, in the end, is the ability to understand itself.'  

I agree, and it's absolutely infuriating. It's a sign of addiction when you know what you're doing will kill you but you can't stop. You simply don't believe there's another, better way. Individually, we can challenge that belief. I'm very lucky, I am in a position to opt out and I'm going at it for all I'm (not) worth. The less you have, the less you fear and the less you crave. I've discovered that to be true.

'Barney - you were right! Though I prefer 'lifestyle refusenik', it sounds more radical. Now bring me wine, there's a good chap.'

Chardonnay socialism - now there's an idea.
          Memo to the President-Elect: Time to Establish a Cabinet-Level US Department of Industry        
It's the time of year when think-tanks, political consultants, lobbyists, corporations, unions, and NGOs are busy developing recommendations to the incoming administration which might help their cause.

Knowing that the inboxes and Twitter feed of the Trump Transition are filling up with white papers, memoranda, reports, and articles suggesting agenda items for the first 100 days, I've taken the liberty of coming up with one of my own to help Make America Great Again:


Here's the rationale:

The de-industrialization of the United States did not happen by accident. Rather, it was the result of deliberate policy decisions to encourage development of a Post-Industrial Society made over at least the past half-century, based upon theories of economic development which held that as societies progress they inevitably evolve from agricultural, to industrial, to service economies in a sort of Darwinian evolution. To re-industrialize America after fifty years of Post-Industrialism will require a laser-like focus that only a Cabinet-level Department could provide.

There is ample precedent for this step: President Nixon created the Department of Energy and the Environmental Protection Administration; President Carter created the Department of Education; President Reagan created the Department of Veteran's Affairs and elevated the Office of National Drug Control Policy to the Cabinet; President Clinton did the same thing for the Federal Emergency Management Agency; President George W. Bush created the Department of Homeland Security.

In each case, serious issues required the attention of the President and his Cabinet--and the only way to insure that attention was with a new Department. Today's Manufacturing Crisis is obviously as severe as the Energy Crisis, the Environmental Crisis, the Education Crisis, the Veteran's Crisis, the Drug Crisis, hurricanes, fires, earthquakes, or floods, and the Terrorism Crisis after 9/11.

The almost total destruction of American Industry wasn't built in a day--it took several generations of hard work, beginning in the late 1960s, popularized by Harvard professor Daniel Bell's 1974 The Coming of Post-Industrial Society, which reflected concepts discussed in French intellectual Alain Touraine's 1971 The Post-Industrial Society. Tomorrow's Social History: Classes, Conflicts and Culture in the Programmed Society and Ivan Illich's 1973 Tools for Conviviality

In this manifesto, the Rousseau-like author of Deschooling Society declared his opposition to Industry:

I want to show that two-thirds of mankind still can avoid passing through the industrial age, by choosing right now a postindustrial balance in their mode of production which the hyperindustrial nations will be forced to adopt as an alternative to chaos.
Illich added:

A society committed to high levels of shared learning and critical personal intercourse must set pedagogical limits on industrial growth. 

Sound familiar? Likewise, Alain Touraine's book reads like another May '68-inspired manifesto:

A new type of society is now being formed. These new societies can be labeled post-industrial to stress how dif­ferent they are from the industrial societies that preceded them, although-in both capitalist and socialist nations­ they retain some characteristics of these earlier societies. They may also be called technocratic because of the power that dominates them. Or one can call them programmed societies to define them according to the nature of their production methods. and economic organization. This last term seems to me the most useful because it most ac­ curately indicates the nature of these societies' inner workings and economic activity. 

Finally, we have Daniel Bell's conclusion that a post-industrial society would be a "communal" society:
It seems clear to me that, today, we in America are moving away from a society based on a private-enterprise market system toward one in which the most important economic decisions will be made at the political level, in terms of consciously defined "goals" and "priorities." The dangers inherent in such a shift are familiar enough to anyone acquainted with the liberal tradition. In the past, there was an "unspoken consensus," and the public philosophy did not need to be articulated. And this was a strength, for articulation often invites trials by force when implicit differences are made manifest. Today, however, there is a visible change from market to non-market political decision-making...
...Whether such a change will represent "prog­ress" is a nice metaphysical question that I, for one, do not know how to answer. This was a society "designed" by John Locke and Adam Smith and it rested on the premises of individual­ism and market rationality in which the varied ends desired by individuals would be maximized by free exchange. We now move to a communal ethic, without that community being, as yet, wholly defined. In a sense, the movement away from governance by political economy to gover­nance by political philosophy-for that is the meaning of the shift-is a return to pre-capitalist modes of social thought. But whether this be progress or regress, it clearly makes it incumbent upon us to think more candidly and rigorously about our values, and about the kind of world we wish to live in.  
You don't have to be a sociologist or an economist to realize that the 60's intellectuals were calling for a program of de-industrialization in order to bring about socialism, although at the time they apparently didn't feel free to say so directly.

The problem seemingly, was that the working-class had become insufficiently revolutionary and too individualistic, materialistic, and competitive. In the 1960s, the American factory worker had become a problem--so the factories would have to close. To bring back that pre-industrial lifestyle...

Now comes the moment where we realize the Utopian fantasies of the socialist intellectuals were dependent upon something rather darker. For, just as in Stalin's time, or Hitler's, if you weren't going to pay workers a living wage, someone would have to do the job for free (or as close to it as possible): thus, Slave Labor.

So, the export of American jobs to realize the "Post-Industrial Society" was, like the leisurely lifestyle of the Ante-Bellum South, dependent upon the ruthless exploitation of slave labor abroad and illegal alien labor at home paid sub-standard wages. Because it might offend the sensibilities of Americans to see this, the slave system of industrial production was kept off-shore, or in the case of illegals, in the shadows--out of sight, out of mind.

However, as Milton Friedman has noted, in economics there are always trade-offs, even for a "Post-Industrial Society." In this case, one trade-off in addition to the dependence upon slavery or virtual slavery, was increasing impoverishment of what was once the world's most affluent working class...for jobs sent abroad did not recycle dollars into the American economy, did not pay taxes, and did not stimulate growth. Rather, they "milked" the existing system, transferring wealth from one place to another, with profits skimmed by the new class of "symbolic manipulators" working in the professional, technocratic, and financial sectors.

Paradoxically, the "Post-Industrial Society" turned out to be dependent upon a traditional industrial base--factories and workers--just located in other countries or illegal sweatshops. Likewise, the vaunted high-paid technical and "knowledge sector" jobs started to follow the factory jobs elsewhere.   The "Post-Industrial Society" wasn't post-industrial after all. It was in reality a slave society dependent upon an exploited working class located somewhere else, or not legally acknowledged.

Result: increasing frustration and resentment among the American population left out of the bubble economy created by what Ross Perot called a "giant sucking sound." When the numbers affected eventually hit a tipping point in 2016, the country gave Donald Trump a mandate for change.

However, to implement this mandate will be extremely difficult for President-Elect Trump. All entrenched beneficiaries of the status quo will fight very hard to protect their current privileges. That goes double for existing government departments.

Traditional "conservative" attempts to cut government frequently mean that only the hard-core "burrowed-in" opponents of change survive the RIFs in federal agencies--then work night-and-day to undermine, subvert, sabotage, block and defeat the initiatives of the new President.

That is why it is imperative to create a new Cabinet Department, reporting directly to the President, in full view of the public, dedicated to the primary mission of the Administration: Making America Great Again. New hires for this large department--which could do for American Industry what the US Department of Agriculture did for American Agriculture, all joking and complaints aside the most successful agricultural sector in the world today is American--would have what are essentially lifetime government jobs and thus be better able to continue the Trump vision long end-of-term. In this regard, the bigger the agency, the better, given the way Washington works. Like the EPA, once planted, the Department of Industry would prove difficult to uproot.

A US Department of Industry could work with both the for-profit and non-profit sectors of the country to develop the eco-system necessary to restore American industry to pride of place in the world--able to compete and beat the Germans, Japanese, Chinese, Mexicans and anyone else when it comes to productivity, quality, price, and convenience.

In addition to economic benefits, there are serious national security implications to having the US military dependent on foreign manufacturers for high-tech and often classified weaponry, control systems, and software. Long supply-lines, transit times, and vulnerable supply chains make the country susceptible to economic warfare. Domestic production could give us peace of mind--and leverage in international negotiations.

Finally, there is the sociological benefit to be derived from a focus on Industry. The "Post-Industrial Society" was also a "Leisure Society." But as Max Weber pointed out in The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, that there is a moral element to capitalism, quoting Benjamin Franklin:
Remember, that time is money. He that can earn ten shillings a day by his labor, and goes abroad, or sits idle, one half of that day, though he spends but sixpence during his diversion or idleness, ought not to reckon that the only expense; he has really spent, or rather thrown away, five shillings besides.[...]Remember, that money is the prolific, generating nature. Money can beget money, and its offspring can beget more, and so on. Five shillings turned is six, turned again is seven and threepence, and so on, till it becomes a hundred pounds. The more there is of it, the more it produces every turning, so that the profits rise quicker and quicker. He that kills a breeding feline taint, destroys all her offspring to the thousandth generation. He that murders a crown, destroys all that it might have produced, even scores of pounds.
That is, the Protestant Work Ethic is both a cause and an effect of Industry. The answer to idleness, is work; the answer to poverty, is work; the answer to despair, is work.

A re-industrialized America will be an America that works, and a Department of Industry can therefore be an important catalyst to Make America Great Again. To quote Weber again:
We shall nevertheless provisionally use the expression 'spirit of capitalism' for that attitude which, in the pursuit of a calling [berufsmäßig], strives systematically for profit for its own sake in the manner exemplified by Benjamin Franklin."
And that is an old Republican struggle--dating to the battle between Free Labor in the North and Slave Labor in the South that created the Party of Lincoln. 

Even a "Never-Trumper" like Richard Lowry has pointed out Lincoln's belief in the Work Ethic on
This country needs a revival of both Lincoln’s appreciation of work and his protectiveness of its proceeds. It needs, again, to be a country where you can earn your way and where you have to earn your way. It needs to be a country–to borrow the terms Lincoln’s Whigs used to describe their electoral base–of “sober, industrious, thriving people.”
Another "Never-Trumper" even proposed establishing a Department of Business: President Barack Obama floated the concept in 2012:
Under the president's original proposal, six different commerce and trade agencies, including the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative and the Export-Import Bank, would be brought under one roof. The president also said the SBA should be elevated to a Cabinet-level position. Obama blamed Congress for inaction on the proposal. 
"The reason we haven’t done that is not because of some big ideological difference," the president said in his interview, taped Saturday and aired Monday. "It has to do with Congress talking a good game about wanting to streamline government but being very protective about not giving up their jurisdiction over various pieces of government.
I bet Donald Trump could succeed where Obama failed, by fine-tuning the proposal to focus on rebuilding American Industry. He could tweet the words of President Lincoln in defense of his industrial policy:
"No country can sustain, in idleness, more than a small percentage of its numbers. The great majority must labor at something productive."
Which might be an inspirational quotation to carve in stone at the entrance to the headquarters of the US Department of Industry, when President Donald Trump cuts the ribbon on Opening Day in 2017.

One speculative postscript: Someone like Peter Thiel might make an inspiring choice for the first US Secretary of Industry.

          Pay close attention to your body language        
UP TO 30,000 jobs in the learning disability sector could be at risk in the next four years, a charity has warned. In a report entitled It Doesn’t Add Up: The financial crisis crippling the social care sector, the learning disabilities charity Hft says the rising cost of adult social care services means providers are facing increasing financial pressures. Among growing costs, it cites the National Living Wage (NLW) which will add £460m to wage bills in the learning disability sector by 2020. Because the social care sector has the highest proportion of staff aged over 25, it will more adversely affected by the NLW. Robert Longley-Cook, Hft chief executive, said: “Hft wholeheartedly supports the introduction of the NLW. However we have grave concerns about its implementation at local and Westminster level. The social care sector is facing increasing demands. This situation is simply unsustainable.” The charity is looking for a five per cent increase in funding per year for the social care sector until 2020. Hft carried out the research in conjunction with the Centre for Economics and Business
          "Living Wage" (Labor Sunday)        
"Living Wage, Waging Life"

"Our life is more than our work.
And our work is more than our job." (Charlie King)
We are gifted, before anything else about us.
We are called, beyond anything we can be paid.

Do pickers, sorters, salvagers, packers
find Jesus in peaches? Jesus gritty,
under our nails? Jesus sticky,
all over our hands? Jesus shouldering
in on relentless routines on the line?

Job on the line, work on the line,
life on the line? Aching Jesus
invading our biceps? Sinking into
the smalls of our backs? Groaning out
from the balls of our feet? Jesus embodied
in peaches? In very slimmest of pickings?

Two hours' work buys a dozen eggs,
four hours a kilo of beans, eight hours
a kilo of beef, 12 hours a box of 30 diapers.

Work-dirty, wash-worthy, hands that defile?
Jesus' whole days touching, being touched,
open markets glutting, flaunted mortality,
teeming germs, diseases of deathly duration,
lying there waiting for, wailing for, him --
Defile no longer a drawer in the desk!
Desperate hearts trump dirty hands,
Purity Codes.

Moses the Sheep-Worker, Organizer of
Brick-Workers, Mentor, Model to
Prophetic Herd-and-Vine-Workers;

Paul the Tent-Worker, Truth-Worker,
could not be paid to preach, or to lie?

Jesus the Wood-Worker, Organizer of
Farm-Workers, Fish-Workers, the
Occasional Tax-and-Sex-Worker --
Working Class roots seeping deep among
Biblical Peoples -- Cursing of First Couple,
outsourced from Garden to Labor, Field-Work,
Home-Work, immeasurably marking
All Human Being.

Jesus, Rest from all Labors: Sabbath-
Worker? Jubilee-Worker? Curse-Reverser?
Unions, Churches, "Brothers," "Sisters,"
few places, few peoples remaining arenas,
Citizen-Work, Disciple-Work, picnicking,
plate-passing, singing, hearing-and-doing,
imitating of images in whom we're made --
"Those who hear and don't act are like
those who glance in the mirror and walk away,
and two minutes later have no idea
who they are, what they look like."

Equal rights, complete justice for all, in all
stations of life . . . principles of conciliation and
arbitration in industrial dissensions . . .
protection of the worker from dangerous machinery,
occupational diseases, injuries and mortality . . .
abolition of child labor . . . such regulation of labor
for women as shall safeguard the physical and
moral health of the community . . .
suppression of the "sweating system" . . .
gradual, reasonable reduction of hours of
labor to lowest practical point, with work for all;
and degree of leisure for all which is the
condition of highest human life . . . release from
employment one day in seven . . . living wage in
every industry . . . highest wage that each
industry can afford, and most equitable
division of products of industry that can
ultimately be devised . . . recognition of
Golden Rule and mind of Christ as
supreme law of society and sure remedy for
all social life. (First "Social Creed,"
Methodist Episcopal Church, 1908)

A Starting Place waiting to happen . . . .

Divine Shifts:
Cosmos: Six days on, one day off.
Creation: Six years on, one off.
Communion: Seven times seven years on,
Whatever It Takes off --
Rest, Restoration, Resource Renewal.

Once we were slaves in Egypt,
would have gone nowhere, become no one,
without Help, Who heard us in misery,
organized us, Direct-Action Plagues against
Pharaoh-Work, helped us escape and endure,
brought into land of fruits and good things,
as strangers, sojourners, aliens, exiles!

Who are we not to stay touched by this past?
Subject to visits, Stranger-Angels at any time?

"The stranger who dwells among you
shall be to you as one born among you,
and you shall love her or him as yourself,
for you were strangers in the land . . ."

Jesus simply ignoring distinctions,
who's legal, who's not -- any such
thing as "illegal" human, anyway?

Anything human "alien" to Who Makes Us?
Each in an Image, Images joined, Solidarity!
Walesa, Chavez, Huerta, Debs,
Mendes, Randolph, Ruether, Jones
Perkins, Lewis, Highlander, Hill,
Revs. Williams & Wyatt, Altgeld, Alinsky
Catholic Worker, Almanac Singers --

BeLaborous Legacy Lying on Line?
8-hour day, 40-hour week, fairer
wages, safer workplaces, child protection,
unemployment insurance, consumer boycotts,
pickets, Social Security, right to organize, bargain --
Participatory Democracy,
Practical Citizenship.

By piece, by hour, by job, by career,
every work, worker preciously co-creative --
Do I know who made this product?
Do I know who provided this service?
Do I see them make it or know they are there?
Do I know conditions of their lives and works?
Do I know if they are acknowledged, included?
Compensated in any progressive proportion to CEO pay?
Do they have any say, what they do, how they do it?
Do they feel any pride of achievement, investment of care?

What do I know about seedtime and harvest?
Assemblage and packaging? Transporting and
marketing? Selling and cleaning up safely after?

What do I know of damages products, services
do Common Good -- especially of children?!

Do I stop to consider insidious advertising?
Artificial stimulation, desire severed from need?

One thing to love a person -- even a working one!
But love a workplace? Employer? Huge corporation?

Burning Man meets Burning Bush,
Love on Fire with Justice, encountered, engaged --
Work of Witness: See people's sufferings;
Work of Attentiveness: Hear people's cries;
Work of Compassion: Move to people;
Work of Solidarity: Stand with people;
Works of Salvation, of Liberation:
Show people new-to-them Land,
nonetheless-promised others?

Moses now twice-removed --
rescued at birth, sisterhood of subversivity;
raised in privileged but flickering passion;
banished for exercised option of murder;
traceably glimmering, trackably glowing;
stammering, staggering, from place in
safe country home; from married and staked,
family business, shepherding patience,
persistence, endurance, resilience;
Imaginized improvisations!
Internalized oppressions!

Howard Zinn coaxingly calling us to
"revolt of the palace guard;" minimized,
muddled, middle and management classes,
keeping on track, sometimes on time,
all systems, structures, everyday life --
total cross-section, in towers, on planes:
like Peter, at once, Rock, Stumbling Block;
preaching 3000 to baptism first day;
40 years of it, have I reached 3000 yet?
To Peter, Jesus impossibly unsufferable;
yet, Rank-and-File, Peter, get back in line!
"Follow the Leader," bodies live ammo,
real lives burning, over, and over, not out.

          Blacks & Food Justice: A Resource Guide        
Black Panther Charles Bursey serves children their breakfast. (Photograph courtesy of Pirkle Jones and Ruth-Marion Baruch) 

This post, as was the post on “Young Blacks & Agroecology,” is motivated, in part, by the fact that this is Black History Month. More than a little of this material goes beyond the scope of African Americans, strictly speaking. 

A Basic Bibliography:
  • Alkon, Alison Hope. Black, White, and Green: Farmers Markets, Race, and the Green Economy. Athens, GA: University of Georgia Press, 2012. 
  • Alkon, Alison Hope and Julian Agyeman, eds. Cultivating Food Justice: Race, Class, and Sustainability. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2011. 
  • Allen, Will. The Good Food Revolution: Growing Healthy Food, People and Communities. New York: Gotham Press/Penguin, 2012.  
  • Bhopal, Raj S. Ethnicity, Race, and Health in Multicultural Societies: Foundations for Better Epidemiology, Public Health, and Health Care. New York: Oxford University Press, 2007. 
  • Bowens, Natasha. The Color of Food: Stories of Race, Resilience and Farming. Gabriola Island, British Columbia: New Society Publishers, 2015.  
  • Broad, Garrett. More Than Just Food: Food Justice and Community Change. Oakland, CA: University of California Press, 2016. 
  • Daniel, Pete. Dispossession: Discrimination against African American Farmers in the Age of Civil Rights. Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 2013.  
  • Ficara, John Francis (photographs/essay by Juan Williams). Black Farmers in America. Lexington, KY: University Press of Kentucky, 2006. 
  • Gottleib, Robert and Anupama Joshi. Food Justice. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2010.  
  • Harper, A. Breeze, ed. Sistah Vegan: Black Female Vegans Speak on Food, Identity, Health, and Society. Herndon, VA: Lantern Books, 2009. 
  • Hatch, Anthony Ryan. Blood Sugar: Racial Pharmacology and Food Justice in Black America. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press, 2016. 
  • Holt-Giménez, Eric, ed. Food Movements Unite! Oakland, CA: Food First Books, 2011. 
  • Holt-Giménez, Eric and Raj Patel (with Annie Shattuck), eds. Food Rebellions! Crisis and the Hunger for Justice. Oakland, CA: Food First Books, 2009.  
  • Nembhard, Jessica Gordon. Collective Courage: A History of African American Cooperative Economic Thought and Practice. University Park, PA: Pennsylvania State University Press, 2014. 
  • Winne, Mark. Closing the Food Gap: Resetting the Table in the Land of Plenty. Boston, MA: Beacon Press, 2008.  
  • Witt, Doris. Black Hunger: Food and the Politics of U.S. Identity. New York: Oxford University Press, 1999. 
Bill Whitfield of the Black Panther chapter in Kansas City serves free breakfast to children before they go to school, April 16, 1969. (Photograph by William P. Straeter, AP) 

Groups, Organizations, and Movements:

  • Black Farmers & Urban Gardeners Conference – “The Black Farmers & Urban Gardeners Conference is a national conference presented by Black Urban Growers (BUGs), an organization of volunteers committed to building networks and community support for growers in both urban and rural settings. Through education and advocacy around food and farm issues, we nurture collective black leadership to ensure we have a seat at the table.” 
  • The Black/Land Project – ”Back/Land gathers and analyzes stories about the relationship between black people, land and place. The purpose of the project is to identify and amplify the current critical dialogues surrounding the relationship between black people (including African-Americans, Caribbean-Americans and African immigrants) and land.”   
  • Black Main Street (46 Black-Owned Farms and Grocery Stores to Support) – “Black-Owned farms and grocery stores are closing around this country at an alarming rate. We have to make a better effort to support the remaining few and build new ones. Please check this list for Black-Owned farms and grocery stores in your area and start supporting, if you aren’t already.” 
  • The Black Oaks Center for Sustainable Renewable Living – “The Black Oaks Center for Sustainable Renewable Living entrusted by its founders, assists communities in reducing their carbon footprint and fossil fuel use. It is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization dedicated to education and training.”   
  • Black Vegans Rock – “Black Vegans Rock was founded by Aph Ko after she wrote the first list that spotlighted 100 Black Vegans for Striving with Systems back in June 2015. She decided to research and compile a list of influential Black vegans who were doing incredible work to dismantle the stereotype that veganism was a ‘white person’s’ thing. After releasing the list, she received emails from Black vegans all over the world who wanted to be featured on the list as well. Some people told her that they had a vegan organization and they wanted to get it in front of other Black vegans. Since Aph didn’t want to add on to the 100 Black Vegans list, she decided to create a platform devoted to spotlighting incredible Black vegans every day. Aph received grants from A Well-Fed World as well as The Pollination Project to help get the project off the ground.” 
  • The Campaign for Food Justice Community Now – “CFJN is an emerging membership based organization that applies race, class and gender analysis to the injustices perpetuated by the food and agriculture system in communities of color and tribal nations. CFJN will promote community inspired solutions and public policies that advance the health and well-being of all communities. CFJN seeks to promote social change by engaging and training its members to act as citizen leaders where they live. CFJN will promote constituent engaged advocacy and participatory democracy directed at ending all forms of exploitation in the food and agriculture system. CFJN seeks to weave together all the threads of the food movement and the broader social justice movement to advance public policies that support the right to food and call for the comprehensive reform of food and agriculture polices in the United States.”  
  • CATA(El Comíte de Apoyo a Los Trabajadores Agrícolas): The Farmworker Support Committee – “CATA is a non-profit, migrant farmworker organization that is governed by and comprised of farmworkers who are actively engaged in the struggle for better working and living conditions. CATA’s mission is to empower and educate farmworkers through leadership development and capacity building so that they are able to make informed decisions regarding the best course of action for their interests. CATA has advanced based on the belief that only through organizing and collective action can they achieve justice and fullness of life. CATA’s programs are based on the Popular Education Methodology, which actively involve farmworkers in the process of social change. This means that the analysis and proposed actions come directly from the farmworkers. Also inherent in CATA’s mission is the importance of analyzing the farmworker reality in terms of the food system. In doing so, projects and campaigns are undertaken with the goal of achieving meaningful and lasting improvements rather than mere reforms to a legal and economic system that is structurally biased against them.” 
  • Civil Eats – “Civil Eats is a daily news source for critical thought about the American food system. We publish stories that shift the conversation around sustainable agriculture in an effort to build economically and socially just communities. Founded in January 2009, Civil Eats is a community resource of over 100 contributors who are active participants in the evolving food landscape from Capitol Hill to Main Street. Civil Eats was named the James Beard Foundation’s 2014 Publication of the Year.”
  • Coalition of Immokalee Workers – “The Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) is a worker-based human rights organization internationally recognized for its achievements in the fields of social responsibility, human trafficking, and gender-based violence at work.  Built on a foundation of farmworker community organizing starting in 1993, and reinforced with the creation of a national consumer network since 2000, CIW’s work has steadily grown over more than twenty years to encompass three broad and overlapping spheres: Fair Food Program, Anti-Slavery Campaign, and Campaign for Fair Food.”  
  • The Color of Food – “Preserving stories, celebrating resilience, changing the face of agriculture: A multimedia project focusing on Black, Latino, Native, and Asian farmers.”   
  • Cooperation Jackson – “Cooperation Jackson is an emerging vehicle for sustainable community development, economic democracy, and community ownership. Our vision is to develop a cooperative network based in Jackson, Mississippi that will consist of four interconnected and interdependent institutions: an emerging federation of local worker cooperatives, a developing cooperative incubator, a cooperative education and training center (the Lumumba Center for Economic Democracy and Development), and a cooperative bank or financial institution. Cooperation Jackson’s basic theory of change is centered on the position that organizing and empowering the structurally under and unemployed sectors of the working class, particularly from Black and Latino communities, to build worker organized and owned cooperatives will be a catalyst for the democratization of our economy and society overall. Cooperation Jackson believes that we can replace the current socio-economic system of exploitation, exclusion and the destruction of the environment with a proven democratic alternative. An alternative built on equity, cooperation, worker democracy, and environmental sustainability to provide meaningful living wage jobs, reduce racial inequities, and build community wealth.” 
  • Detroit Black Community Food Security Network –  â€œThe Detroit Black Community Food Security Network (DBCFSN) was formed in February 2006 to address food insecurity in Detroit’s Black community, and to organize members of that community to play a more active leadership role in the local food security movement. We observed that many of the key players in the local urban agriculture movement were young whites, who while well-intentioned, never-the-less, exerted a degree of control inordinate to their numbers in Detroit’s population. Many of those individuals moved to Detroit from other places specifically to engage in agricultural or other food security work. It was and is our view that the most effective movements grow organically from the people whom they are designed to serve. Representatives of Detroit’s majority African-American population must be in the leadership of efforts to foster food justice and food security in Detroit. While our specific focus is on Detroit’s African-American community, we realize that improved policy and an improved localized food system is a benefit to all Detroit residents.” 
  • Detroit Food Justice Task Force – “… is a consortium of People of Color led organizations and allies that share a commitment to creating a food security plan for Detroit that is: sustainable; that provides healthy, affordable foods for all of the city’s people; that is based on best-practices and programs that work; and that is just and equitable in the distribution of food and jobs.”  
  • Farms to Grow, Inc. – “… is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to working with Black farmers and underserved sustainable farmers around the country. Farms To Grow, Inc. is committed to sustainable farming and innovative agriculture practices which preserve the cultural and biological diversity, the agroecological balance of the local environment. Farms To Grow, Inc. aims to increase the capacity of underserved farmers to keep their farm operations and establish farming as a viable career for future generations. Underserved farmers may include Native American, Hispanic, other minority groups, women, the physically challenged and limited access organic farmers. Our mission is to assist African American farmers and other under-served farmers/gardeners maintain and create sustainable farms and spaces to grow food and motivate the next generation of farmers to grow sustainably and with community in mind.” 
  • Federation of Southern Cooperatives Land Assistance Fund – “We strive toward the development of self-supporting communities with programs that increase income and enhance other opportunities; and we strive to assist in land retention and development, especially for African Americans, but essentially for all family farmers. We do this with an active and democratic involvement in poor areas across the South, through education and outreach strategies which support low-income people in molding their communities to become more humane and livable. We assist in the development of cooperatives and credit unions as a collective strategy to create economic self-sufficiency.”  
  • Food First – “Food First is a ‘people’s think tank’ dedicated to ending the injustices that cause hunger and helping communities to take back control of their food systems. We advance our mission through three interrelated work areas: research, education and action. These work areas are designed to promote informed citizen engagement with the institutions and policies that control our food and to integrate local, national and global efforts. Our work both informs and amplifies the voices of social movements fighting for food justice and food sovereignty.” 
  • Food Justice & Anti-Racism Working Group of the Mariposa Food Coop, West Philadelphia (FJAR) Youth and Food Justice: Lessons from the Civil Rights Movement – “The Food Justice and Anti-Racism Working Group (FJAR) is a committee of Mariposa Food Co-op. FJAR understands racism to be a form of oppression that is linked to and reinforces all other oppressions, including food systems, both urban and rural. Therefore, we work to identify and dismantle institutionalized racism, classism, patriarchy, ableism, homophobia and transphobia within Mariposa, and to align our co-op with social change related to fair labor practices, food access, environmental justice and anti-gentrification. Our work will consist of organizing food justice and anti-oppression trainings for staff/members, offering solidarity and support to relevant local organizations, strategic organizational development, outreach and more. Our aim is to create positive social change at Mariposa which will serve as a catalyst in dismantling broader institutionalized oppressions in our communities.”  
  • Food Lab Detroit – “We’re a diverse group of locally-owned food businesses—caterers, bakers, picklers, distributors, corner stores, cafes—who support each other in the process of growing and improving our individual businesses, and who are committed to taking active steps together towards a more delicious, healthy, fair, and green food economy in Detroit.”
  • Growing Food and Justice For All Initiative – “Growing Food and Justice for All Initiative (GFJI) is an initiative aimed at dismantling racism and empowering low-income and communities of color through sustainable and local agriculture. This comprehensive network views dismantling racism as a core principal which brings together social change agents from diverse sectors working to bring about new, healthy and sustainable food systems and supporting and building multicultural leadership in impoverished communities throughout the world. The vision for this initiative is to establish a powerful network of individuals, organizations and community based entities all working toward a food secure and just world.” 
  • Land Loss Prevention Project – “The Land Loss Prevention Project (LLPP) was founded in 1982 by the North Carolina Association of Black Lawyers to curtail epidemic losses of Black owned land in North Carolina. LLPP was incorporated in the state of North Carolina in 1983. The organization broadened its mission in 1993 to provide legal support and assistance to all financially distressed and limited resource farmers and landowners in North Carolina. LLPP’s advocacy for financially distressed and limited resource farmers involves action in three separate arenas: litigation, public policy, and promoting sustainable agriculture and environment.”   
  • National Black Food & Justice Alliance – “The National Black Food and Justice Alliance is a coalition of Black-led organizations working towards cultivating and advancing Black leadership, building Black self-determination, Black institution building and organizing for food sovereignty, land and justice. The Alliance seeks to achieve this by engaging in broad based coalition organizing for black food and land, increasing visibility of Black led narratives and work, advancing Black led visions for just and sustainable communities, and building capacity for self-determination within our local, national, and international food systems and land rights work. Our areas of focus include black food sovereignty, self-determining food economies, and land. We approach food sovereignty, land and self-determining food economies via the lens of healing, organizing and resistance against anti-Blackness.” 
  • New Roots – (Louisville, KY) New Roots works with fresh food insecure communities to create sustainable systems for accessing the farm-fresh food we all need to be healthy and happy. In a nutshell, we are uniting communities to end food injustice. The main fruit of our labor are the Fresh Stop Markets — farm-fresh food markets that pop up at local churches, housing authorities, and community centers in fresh food insecure neighborhoods. The food has been paid for in advance so that farmers don’t face the same degree of risk as they do with a standard farmers’ market.”  
  • Northern Manhattan Food Justice Initiative (WE ACT for Environmental Justice) – The goal of WE ACT’s Food Justice Initiative is for Northern Manhattan schools to have access to good food. WE ACT defines ‘good food’ as safe, fresh, and nutritious school meals that are prepared in schools in a quality environment, that kids eat and parents support, to contribute to the reduction of childhood obesity. WE ACT works towards this goal by organizing parents through our Food Justice Training. Our Food Justice Training consists of three workshops and aims to build a vision of what parents want for school food, educating them about the school food system, and conducting a power analysis of the school food system to understand what power we need to leverage to achieve their vision.” 
  • Nourish/Resist – “We are a group of social justice minded, People of Color (POC) working to plan and activate transformative actions within our communities in 2017, using food as a platform. We see food as a strategy for resistance and we seek to unapologetically use food spaces to nourish and strategically organize our community to: 1. Force a power paradigm shift. 2. Snatch back electoral power on the local and state level. 3. Foster personal and food security for our community. 4. Break down silos to create coalitions across our similarly-minded movements, people, and organizations.”