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2010 in review

In Uncategorized on January 16, 2011 at 12:04 am

The stats helper monkeys at WordPress.com mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads Fresher than ever.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

A Boeing 747-400 passenger jet can hold 416 passengers. This blog was viewed about 2,000 times in 2010. That’s about 5 full 747s.

In 2010, there were 63 new posts, not bad for the first year! There was 1 picture uploaded, taking a total of 702kb.

The busiest day of the year was May 30th with 84 views. The most popular post that day was About Steffen White.

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were mystufie.co.cc, slashingtongue.com, healthfitnesstherapy.com, digg.com, and the-best-twitter.com.

Some visitors came searching, mostly for bureaucracybuster’s blog, bureaucracybuster.com, bureaucracy buster, http://www.bureaucracybuster.com, and feeding pigeons.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.

1

About Steffen White February 2010
3 comments

2

CHANGE AND CHURCHES May 2010

3

THE CEO AS SAVIOR March 2010
1 comment

4

REAGAN GETS LENIN’S FUNERAL May 2010

5

HOW THE FEDS LEARNED TO PROTECT WITNESSES – PART EIGHT July 2010

BUREAUCRATS AS ASSASSINS–PART FIVE

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Politics on January 10, 2011 at 10:16 pm

“The only morality they recognize is what will further their cause, meaning they reserve unto themselves the right to commit any crime, to lie, to cheat, in order to attain that.”
–President Ronald Reagan, on the leaders of the Soviet Union, January 29, 1981

Increasingly, Republicans have repeatedly aimed violent–and violence-arousing–rhetoric at their Democratic opponents. This is not a case of careless language that is simply misinterpreted, with tragic results.

Republicans like Sarah Palin fully understand the constituency they are trying to reach: Those masses of alienated, uneducated Americans who live only for their guns and hardline religious beliefs–and who can be easily manipulated by perceived threats to either.

If one of these “nutcases” types assaults a Democratic politician and misses, then the Republican establishment claims to be shocked–shocked!–that such a thing could have happened.

And if the attempt proves successful–as the January 8 Tucson shootings did–then Republicans weep crocodile tears for public consumption. The difference is that, in this case, they rejoice in knowing that Democratic ranks have been thinned and their opponents are even more on the defensive, for fear of the same happening to them.

The most important target of these intended assaults is, of course, President Barack Obama.

Ominously, in August, 2009, about a dozen people carrying guns, including one with a military-style rifle, milled among protesters outside a Phoenix convention center where President Obama was giving a speech.

A week earlier, during Obama’s healthcare town hall in New Hampshire, a man carrying a sign reading “It is time to water the tree of liberty” stood outside with a pistol strapped to his leg.

Fred Solop, a Northern Arizona University political scientist, said the incidents in New Hampshire and Arizona could signal the beginning of a disturbing trend.

“When you start to bring guns to political rallies, it does layer on another level of concern and significance,” Solop said. “It actually becomes quite scary for many people. It creates a chilling effect in the ability of our society to carry on honest communication.”

The way to prevent such tragedies in the future is to hold fully accountable not just the shooters but those who deliberately point them toward their targets and repeatedly scream: “Kill the traitors!”

Americans must shed their naive belief that “America is exempt from the political corruption of other countries.” And they must see the Republicans’ lust for absolute power at any price as the danger it presents to the future of the Republic.

Among the steps that need to be taken:

First, the families and friends of the Tucson massacre victims should file civil lawsuits against Sarah Palin and every other Republican who can be proved to have created the firestorm of hate that consumed 20 people on January 8.

A legal precedent for such lawsuits emerged 21 years ago, and still remains viable.

On November 13, 1988 in Portland, Oregon, three white supremacist members of East Side White Pride and White Aryan Resistance (WAR) beat to death Mulugeta Seraw, an Ethiopian man who came to the United States to attend college.

Morris Dees and the Southern Poverty Law Center filed a civil suit (Berhanu v. Metzger) against Tom Metzger, founder of WAR. They argued that WAR influenced Seraw’s killers by encouraging their group, East Side White Pride, to commit violence.

At the trial, WAR national vice president Dave Mazzella testified how the Metzgers instructed WAR members to commit violence against minorities.

Tom and John Metzger were found civilly liable under the doctrine of vicarious liability, in which one can be liable for a tort committed by a subordinate or by another person who is taking instructions.

In October 1990, the jury returned the largest civil verdict in Oregon history at the time—$12.5 million—against Metzger and WAR. The Metzgers’ house was seized, and most of WAR’s profits go to paying off the judgment.

Second, the FBI and Justice Department should launch an all-out investigation into not simply right-wing hate groups but those political leaders who openly or secretly encourage and support their activities. Those who are found doing so should be indicted and prosecuted under the anti-terrorism statutes now aimed at Islamic terrorists.

Third, the Secret Service should immediately adopt the policy that no one but sworn law enforcement officers will be allowed to carry firearms within the immediate vicinity of the President. And it should enforce that policy through its elite countersniper teams.

Finally, President Obama should do what President Clinton failed to do at the time of the truck-bombing of the Oklahoma City Federal Building: He should publicly condemn those Republicans who give “aid and comfort” to the right-wing extremists whose support they openly court.

Unless such steps are taken, outrages such as the Tucson slaughter will continue to remain a needless “mystery.” And those outrages will continue until a Republican version of the swastika permanently flies over the capitol dome and the White House.

BUREAUCRATS AS ASSASSINS–PART FOUR

In Bureaucracy, History, Politics on January 10, 2011 at 8:58 pm

Having failed to defeat Bill Clinton in 1992, the Republicans sought to discredit him as a leader. As the first Democrat elected to the White House since 1976, he had broke an 12-year winning streak by Republicans.

This, in turn, made him a usurper in the eyes of Republicans generally. If they could not prevent him from reaching the White House, perhaps they could reduce him to impotence by destroying his legitimacy as President.

Republicans pressed for a special prosecutor to investigate a failed Arkansas land deal called Whitewater. But, over time, they kept adding new subjects for investigation, hoping at each turn to find a way to secure his indictment.

In January, 1998, news broke of Clinton’s affair with White House intern Monica Lewinsky. Republicans saw a chance to drive him from the White House via impeachment. But their effort failed, and Clinton served out the rest of his term.

Republicans won the White House in 2000, and again in 2004. But in 2008 the prospect of a black man becoming President frightened and infuriated not only many Republican leaders but their rightist supporters.

Republicans encouraged right-wing groups to spread the word that Obama was not born in Hawaii, but in Kenya. The purpose of this was to strip Obama of legitimacy as a leader.

Republican supporters–brandishing photos of President Obama painted with a Hitler forelock and toothbrush mustache–have claimed he intends to set up concentration camps for those who disagree with him.

Newt Gingrich, the former Republican Speaker of the House, charged that Obama was pursuing a socialist agenda via his legislation to reform healthcare and provide an economic stimulus to the stalled economy.

In his book, To Save America: Stopping Obama’s Secular-Socialist Machine, Gingrich claimed that Obama’s policy agenda was as “great a threat to America as Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union.”

On April 20, 2010, BP’s Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded and sank about 40 miles southeast off the Louisiana coast. The resulting oil spill pumped millions of gallons of crude oil into the Gulf of Mexico.

When Obama began taking a tough line with BP, Rand Paul, the Republican candidate for Senator from Kentucky, declared the President was “really un-American in his criticism of business.”

Almost immediately after Obama took the oath of office, he came in for demonization by an industry of anti-Obama books by right-wing authors. The views they sought to popularize about the President can be quickly gleamed by a review of their titles:

Conservative Victory: Defeating Obama’s Radical Agenda by Sean Hannity
The Manchurian President: Barack Obama’s Ties to Communists,Socialists and Other Anti-American Extremists by Aaron Klein
The Blueprint: Obama’s Plan to Subvert the Constitution and Build an Imperial Presidency by Ken Blackwell
Catastrophe: How Obama, Congress and the Special Interests Are Transforming…a Slump into a Crash, Freedom Into Socialism and a Disaster into a Catastrophe….And How to Fight Back by Dick Morris
The War On Success: How the Obama Agenda Is Shattering the American Dream by Tommy Newberry
Power Grab: How Obama’s Green Policicies Will Steal Your Freedom and Bankrupt America by Christopher C. Horner
How the Obama Administration Threatens to Undermine Our Elections by John Fund
Obama’s Radical Transformation of America: Year One by Joshua Muravchik
Fleeced: How Barack Obama, Media Mockery of Terrorist Threats, Liberals Who Want to Kill Talk Radio, the Self-Serving Congress, Companies That Help Iran, and Washington Lobbyists for Foreign Governments Are Scamming Us…and What to Do About It by Dick Morris

(Morris’ book, Fleeced, contains possibly the longest subtitle of any political book since Adolf Hitler wanted to call his autobiography: Four and a Half Years of Struggle Against Lies, Stupidity and Cowardice. Knowing that so long a title would be a disaster, Hitler’s publisher settled for Mein Kampf, which, in German, means “My Struggle.”)

Increasingly, Republicans have repeatedly aimed violent–and violence-arousing–rhetoric at their Democratic opponents. This is not a case of careless language that is simply misinterpreted, with tragic results.

Republicans like Sarah Palin fully understand the constituency they are trying to reach: Those masses of alienated, uneducated Americans who live only for their guns and hardline religious beliefs–and who can be easily manipulated by perceived threats to either.

As Adolf Hitler, the master of 20th century propaganda advised in Mein Kampf: “Such being the case, all effective propaganda must be confined to a few bare essentials and those must be expressed as far as possible in stereotyped formulas. These slogans should be persistently repeated until the very last individual has come to grasp the idea that has been put forward.”

Thus, Palin and her fellow Republicans repeatedly use code-words like, “Don’t retreat, reload,” and draw up maps showing Democrats targeted with cross-hairs. (The map, posted on her website at “SaraPAC,” was taken down only on the day of the shootings.)

They know full well that there’s a good chance those words and images will take root in the hearts of such an unacknowledged constituency. And this, in turn, gives Republicans a chance to win with the bullet what they could not win at the ballot box.

BUREAUCRATS AS ASSASSINS–PART THREE

In Bureaucracy, History, Law on January 10, 2011 at 6:42 pm

Many Americans–-especially Republicans–claim they can’t understand the tragic January 8 shootings in Tuscon that claimed the lives of six people and left 14 others wounded.

Far from being a mystery, that violence is fully understandable. All we need do is accept that Republicans have spent a half-century slandering government and soliciting the support of violent extremists.

On April 19, 1993, David Koresh and 86 Branch Davidians, including up to 24 children, chose death by self-immolation rather than surrender to FBI agents who had besieged their compound in Waco, Texas, for 51 days.

High-ranking Republicans immediately sought to turn the needless mass suicide into a second Alamo. The FBI–normally revered by Republicans when they command the Justice Department–became a target for repeated Congressional hearings and slanderous attacks.

Totally ignored were the four agents of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms who were killed by the Davidians in the initial February 28 attempt to serve arrest and search warrants at the compound for illegal arms and ammunition. Another 20 were wounded.

The clear implication was that the FBI should have allowed the Davidians to go un-arrested for their killings and woundings of sworn Federal law enforcement officers.

Republicans used the Davidians’ self-immolation to solicit support among the heavily-armed, right-wing militia movement.

Said Newt Gingrich, then Speaker of the House: “”We have to understand that there is, in rural America, a genuine– particularly in the West–a genuine fear of the Federal Government and of Washington, D.C., as a place that doesn’t understand their way of life and doesn’t understand their values.”

Two years later, on April 19, 1995, Timothy McVeigh, a member of the militia movement, detonated a truck bomb in front of the Alfred P. Murrah Building in Oklahoma City, killing 168 people and injuring 450. It was the deadliest act of terrorism within the United States prior to the September 11, 2001 attacks. His primary motive for doing so was to “avenge” the Davidians who had died in Waco.

Suddenly, Republican leaders found themselves on the defensive. They had spent decades slandering the Federal Government–claiming, for example:

• there was a plot by Democrats to “take away your guns,”
• that flouridation was a Communist plot to “pollute our precious bodily fluids,”
• that Democrats were “Godless” and wanted to enforce athiesm on believing Christians,
• and that Democrats would allow United Nations “black helicopters” to stage a military takeover of the United States.

Now at least three members of one of their core constituency groups–the militia movement–had acted on that rhetoric. Republicans genuinely feared that President Bill Clinton would address the nation and lay blame squarely on those who had spent decades slandering government as a threat to the very liberties of those it was meant to serve.

Instead, Clinton gave a consoling address where he praised the men and women who had died in the blast. The closest he came to naming–and condemning–those truly responsible for the tragedy came near the end of his address:

“There are forces that threaten our common peace, our freedom, our way of life. Let us teach our children that the God of comfort is also the God of righteousness. Those who trouble their own house will inherit the wind. Justice will prevail.

“Let us let our own children know that we will stand against the forces of fear. When there is talk of hatred, let us stand up and talk against it. When there is talk of violence, let us stand up and talk against it. In the face of death let us honor life.”

But Clinton never blamed the Republicans for “giving aid and comfort” to the right-wing militia movement whose members carried out this slaughter.

Republicans won the White House in 2000, and again in 2004. But in 2008 the prospect of a black man becoming President frightened and infuriated not only many Republican leaders but their rightist supporters.

At one rally for Republican nominee John McCain, a woman screamed, “Obama! Osama!”–a clear reference to Republican accusations that Barack Obama was a closet Muslim, if not an outright supporter of Islamic terrorism.

Republicans encouraged right-wing groups to spread the word that Obama was not born in Hawaii, but in Kenya. The purpose of this was to strip Obama of legitimacy as a leader.

In 1988, while working as a community organizer in Chicago, Obama was formally baptized as a Christian at the Trinity United Church of Christ. Obama now worships in services at Camp David.

Despite this, Republicans and their right-wing supporters continue to assert that he is a secret Muslim. And this has led increasing numbers of Americans to believe he is.

The number of Americans who say President Obama is a Muslim has nearly doubled since March 2009, according to an August, 2010 poll from Pew. The poll finds that 18% of Americans say the president is a Muslim.

BUREAUCRATS AS ASSASSINS–PART TWO

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Politics on January 10, 2011 at 11:31 am

“An attack on one who serves is an attack on all who serve,” said House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) in a statement on the January 8 shooting of Democratic Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.). “Acts and threats of violence against public officials have no place in our society. …This is a sad day for our country.”

This from the man who, upon assuming the Speakership, said his first priority was repealing President Obama’s healthcare reform bill. It was this bill that Giffords had supported against bitter attacks and death threats from Republican Tea Party members.

And from former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin–whose SarahPAC page, until the day of the shooting, depicted a map featuring cross-hairs over Giffords’ district: “My sincere condolences are offered to the family of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and the other victims of today’s tragic shooting in Arizona. On behalf of Todd and my family, we all pray for the victims and their families, and for peace and justice.”

The shooting of Giffords–or some other Democratic legislator– was, in fact, entirely predictable. Among those who warned of such needless tragedy was Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.).

“When Sarah Palin uses gun analogies and gun imagery when she makes her political point, she may believe that she’s engaging in metaphor,” said Weiner, who received an envelope of suspicious powder at his office. “But there are too many people who have twisted minds who might think that she’s being literal.”

Giffords may have seen the spectre of violence closing in on her. In April, 2010, she supported Rep. Raúl Grijalva after he had to close two offices when he and his staff received threats. He had called for a boycott of Arizona businesses in opposition to the state’s controversial immigration law.

“I am deeply troubled about reports that Congressman Grijalva and members of his staff have been subjected to death threats,” Giffords said. “This is not how we, as Americans, express our political differences. Intimidation has no place in our representative democracy. Such acts only make it more difficult for us to resolve our differences.”

But intimidation–and worse–does have a place among the tactics used by influential Republicans in the pursuit of absolute power:

• Rep. Randy Neugebauer (R-Tex.) yelled “baby killer” at Bart Stupak (D-Mich.) on the House floor.
• Florida GOP Congressional candidate Allen West, referring to his Democratic opponent, Rep. Ron Klein, told Tea Party activists: “You’ve got to make the fellow scared to come out of his house. That’s the only way that you’re going to win. That’s the only way you’re going to get these people’s attention.”
• Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) said Tea Partiers had “every right” to use racist and homophobic slurs against Democrats, chalking it all up to Democrats’ “totalitarian tactics.”
• Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) said she wants her constituents “armed and dangerous” against the Obama administration.
• Sarah Palin told her supporters: “Get in their face and argue with them. No matter how tough it gets, never retreat, instead RELOAD!”
• Right-wing pundit Ann Coulter: “My only regret with Timothy McVeigh is he did not go to the New York Times building.”
• Senator Phil Gramm (R-Tex.): “We’re going to keep building the party until we’re hunting Democrats with dogs.”
• Rep. Louise M. Slaughter (D-N.Y.) received a phone message threatening sniper attacks against lawmakers and their families.
• Rep. James E. Clyburn (D-S.C.) the highest-ranking black lawmaker in the House, said he received an anonymous fax showing the image of a noose.

For more than 50 years, Republicans have vilified government–except, of course, when they are running it. (Then they have demanded absolute obedience and utmost devotion. When a member of the Dixie Chicks said she was ashamed that George W. Bush came from her home state of Texas, the group found itself facing boycotts and death threats.)

They have sought to convince Americans that Democrats are at least potential traitors, if not actual ones, ready to sell out the nation to the Communist menace.

(During the 1992 Presidential election, Republicans sought to paint Bill Clinton as a brainwashed “Manchurian candidate,” owing to a visit he had taken to the Soviet Union during his college years.)

After the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, they tried to persuade voters that the Democrats were “soft on crime.” When riots flared in 1992 after the acquittal of the LAPD officers who had savagely beaten Rodney King, President George H.W. Bush blamed the carnage on the “Great Society” programs of the Lyndon Johnson era.

When President Barack Obama set out to provide healthcare fo all Americans–and not simply the wealthy–Republicans tried to convince voters that he would use healthcare reform to murder vast numbers of their fellows (via “death panels,” in Sarah Palin’s infamous phrase).

BUREAUCRACTS AS ASSASSINS–PART ONE

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Politics on January 9, 2011 at 3:45 pm

Many Americans–especially Republicans–claim they can’t understand the tragic shootings in Tucson that claimed the lives of six people and left 13 others wounded.

Democratic Rep. Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona was shot in the head on January 8 while meeting with constituents outside a grocery store. She is fighting for life at University Medical Center in Tucson.

Also killed was Arizona’s chief U.S. District judge, John Roll, who had just stopped by to see his friend Giffords after celebrating Mass.

Far from being a mystery, yesterday’s violence becomes entirely understandable–if we are willing to put aside our cherished notion that “things like this happen only in other countries; they don’t happen here.”

A good starting point is the 1968 movie “Z”, whose summary follows:

Set in Greece in 1963, the film re-creates the events surrounding the assassination of democratic Greek politician Grigoris Lambrakis, who is played by Yves Montand.

Lambrakis (who is referred to only as “the Deputy” throughout the movie) is clearly out of step with the right-wing militarists who run the country.

He is scheduled to give a night-time speech advocating nuclear disarmament. But Lambrakis’ opponents intend to prevent this. Right-wing goon squads gear up for a rally at the site where the Deputy is to appear.

Under pressure by the military and police, the site has been changed to a much smaller hall and right-wing mobsters now threaten those who call for peace. As the Deputy crosses the street from the hall after giving his speech, a delivery truck speeds past him and a man on the open truck bed crushes his head with a club.

The injury eventually proves fatal, and by that time it is already clear that the police have coerced witnesses to claim that the victim was simply run over by a drunk driver.

* * * * *

Now, fast-forward to 2011 and the tragedy in Arizona.

Giffords, 40, is a moderate Democrat who narrowly wins re-election in November against a Republican Tea Party candidate. Her support of President Obama’s health care reform law has made her a target for violent rhetoric–especially from former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin.

In March, 2010, Palin releases a map featuring 20 House Democrats that uses crosshairs images to show their districts. In case her supporters don’t get the message, she later writes on Twitter: “‘Don’t Retreat, Instead – RELOAD!'”

As the campaign continues, Giffords finds her Tucson office vandalized after the House passes the overhaul in March.

Giffords senses that she has become a target for removal–in more than political terms. In an interview after the vandalizing of her office, she refers to the animosity against her by conservatives. She specifically cites Palin’s decision to list her seat as one of the top “targets” in the midterm elections.

“For example, we’re on Sarah Palin’s targeted list, but the thing is, that the way that she has it depicted has the crosshairs of a gun sight over our district. When people do that, they have to realize that there are consequences to that action,” Giffords tells MSNBC.

At one of her rallies, her aides call the police after an attendee drops a gun.

Now let’s examine the case of Federal Judge John Roll. Named Arizona’s chief federal judge in 2006, he wins wide acclaim as a respected jurist and leader who pushes to beef up the court’s strained bench to handle a growing number of border crime-related cases.

In 2009, he becomes a target for threats after allowing a $32 million civil-rights lawsuit by illegal aliens to proceed against a local rancher. The case arouses the fury of local talk radio hosts, who encourage their audiences to threaten Roll’s life.

In one afternoon, Roll logs more than 200 threatening phone calls. Callers threaten the judge and his family. They post personal information about Roll online.

Roll and his wife are placed under fulltime protection by deputy U.S. marshals. Roll finds living under security “unnerving and invasive.” Authorities identify four men believed responsible for the threats. But Roll declines to press charges on the advice of the Marshals Service.

So much for exploring the “what happened” part of the shootings in Tucson. In the next post, we will explore the “why.”

HOW TO CREATE JOBS–PART TWO

In Uncategorized on January 9, 2011 at 12:58 pm

The provisions of a nationwide Employers Responsibility Act would include—but not be limited to—the following:

(1) American companies that close plants in the United States and open others abroad would be forbidden to sell products made in those foreign plants within the United States.

This would protect both American and foreign workers from employers seeking to profit at their expense. American workers would be ensured of continued employment. And foreign laborers would be protected against substandard wages and working conditions.

Companies found violating this provision would be subject to Federal criminal prosecution. Guilty verdicts would result in heavy fines and lengthy imprisonment for their owners and top managers.

(2) Large companies (those employing more than 100 persons) would be required to create entry-level training programs for new, future employees.

These would be modeled on programs now existing for public employees, such as firefighters, police officers and members of the armed services. Such programs would remove the employer excuse, “I’m sorry, but we can’t hire you because you’ve never had any experience in this line of work.” After all, the Air Force has never rejected an applicant because, “I’m sorry, but you’ve never flown a plane before.”

This Nation has greatly benefited from the humane and professional efforts of the men and women who have graduated from public-sector training programs. There is no reason for the private sector to shun programs that have succeeded so brilliantly for the public sector.

(3) Employers would receive tax credits for creating professional, well-paying, full-time jobs.

This would encourage the creation of better than the menial, dead-end, low-paying and often part-time jobs which exist in the service industry. Employers found using such tax credits for any other purpose would be prosecuted for tax fraud.

(4) A company that acquired another—through a merger or buyout—would be forbidden to fire en masse the career employees of that acquired company.

This would be comparable to the protection existing for career civil service employees. Such a ban would prevent a return to the predatory “corporate raiding” practices of the 1980s, which left so much human and economic wreckage in their wake.

The wholesale firing of employees would trigger the prosecution of the company’s new owners. Employees could still be fired, but only for provable just cause, and only on a case-by-case basis.

(5) Employers would be required to provide full medical and pension benefits for all employees, regardless of their full-time or part-time status.

Increasingly, employers are replacing full-time workers with part-time ones—solely to avoid paying medical and pension benefits. Requiring employers to act humanely and responsibly toward all their employees would encourage them to provide full-time positions—and hasten the death of this greed-based practice.

(6) Employers of part-time workers would be required to comply with all federal labor laws.

Under current law, part-time employees are not protected against such abuses as discrimination, sexual harassment and unsafe working conditions. Closing this loophole would immediately create two positive results:

(a) Untold numbers of currently-exploited workers would be protected from the abuses of predatory employers; and

(b) Even predatorily-inclined employers would be encouraged to offer permanent, fulltime jobs rather than only part-time ones—since a major incentive for offering part-time jobs would now be eliminated.

(7) Employers would be encouraged to hire to their widest possible limits, through a combination of financial incentives and legal sanctions.

Among those incentives: Employers demonstrating a willingness to hire would receive substantial Federal tax credits, based on the number of new, permanent employees hired per year.
Employers claiming eligibility for such credits would be required to make their financial records available to Federal investigators. Employers found making false claims would be prosecuted for perjury and tax fraud, and face heavy fines and imprisonment if convicted.

(8) Among those sanctions: Employers refusing to hire could be required to prove, in court:

(a) their economic inability to hire further employees, and/or
(b) the unfitness of the specific, rejected applicant.

Companies found guilty of unjustifiably refusing to hire would face the same penalties as now applying in cases of discrimination on the basis of age, race, sex and disability.
Employers would thus fund it easier to hire than to refuse to do so. Job-seekers would no longer be prevented from even being considered for employment because of arbitrary and interminable “hiring freezes.”

(9) Employers refusing to hire would be required to pay an additional “crime tax.”

Sociologists and criminologists agree that “the best cure for crime is a job.” Thus, employers who refuse to hire contribute to a growing crime rate in this Nation. Such non-hiring employers would be required to pay an additional tax, which would be earmarked for agencies of the criminal justice system at State and Federal levels.

(10) The seeking of “economic incentives” by companies in return for moving to or remaining in cities/states would be strictly forbidden.

Such “economic incentives” usually:

(a) allow employers to ignore existing laws protecting employees from unsafe working conditions;
(b) allow employers to ignore existing laws protecting the environment;
(c) allow employers to pay their employees the lowest acceptable wages, in return for the “privilege” of working at these companies; and/or
(d) allow employers to pay little or no business taxes, at the expense of communities who are required to make up for lost tax revenues.

(11) Employers who continue to make such overtures would be prosecuted for attempted bribery or extortion:
(a) Bribery, if they offered to move to a city/state in return for “economic incentives,” or

(b) Extortion, if they threatened to move their companies from a city/state if they did not receive such “economic incentives.”

This would protect employees against artificially-depressed wages and unsafe working conditions; protect the environment in which these employees live; and protect cities/states from being pitted against one another at the expense of their economic prosperity.

(12) The U.S. Departments of Justice and Labor would regularly monitor the extent of employer compliance with the provisions of this Act.

Among these measures: Sending undercover agents, posing as highly-qualified job-seekers, to apply at companies—and then vigorously prosecuting those employers who blatantly refused to hire despite their proven economic ability to do so.

This would be comparable to the long-time and legally-validated practice of using undercover agents to determine compliance with fair-housing laws.

(13) CEOs whose companies employ illegal aliens would be held directly accountable for the actions of their subordinates. Upon conviction, the CEO would be sentenced to a mandatory prison term of at least ten years.

This would prove a more effective remedy for combating illegal immigration than stationing tens of thousands of soldiers on the U.S./Mexican border. With CEOs forced to account for their subordinates’ actions, they would take drastic steps to ensure their companies complied with Federal immigration laws. Without employers’ systematically hiring illegal aliens at a fraction of the money paid to American workers, the flood of illegal job-seekers would quickly slow to a trickle.

(14) A portion of employers’ existing Federal taxes would be set aside to create a national clearinghouse for placing unemployed but qualified job-seekers.

HOW TO CREATE JOBS–PART ONE

In Bureaucracy, Business, Law on January 9, 2011 at 11:59 am

On January 7, 2010, ABC’s “World News Tonight” gave its viewers a quick lesson on America’s unemployment crisis.

According to the latest “Jobs Report” released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics:

• In 2010 the nation added 1.1 million jobs.
• 103,000 jobs were added in December, 2010.
• The unemployment rate dropped 9.4%–mostly because half
a million frustrated job-seekers stopped looking for work.

The January 7, 2010 Jobs Report showed the most growth in December for the following job categories:

the Leisure and Hospitality Industry:
47,000;

Health Care: 35,700; and
Temp Work: 15,900.

If you add the number of unemployed

14.5 million

to the number of those who are under-employed (part-time workers who can’t find fulltime work or are overqualified)

11.2 million

the total of Americans who are looking for work is:

25.7 million

or 1 in 6 workers.

At the same time, U.S. corporations are prepared to report their most profitable fourth quarter in 19 years–while they sit on nearly $2 trillion in cash.

Giving even greater tax breaks to mega-corporations has not persuaded them to stop “outsourcing” jobs. Nor has it convinced them to start hiring.

While hugely overpaid CEOs squander corporate wealth on themselves, millions of Americans can’t afford medical care or must depend on charity to feed their families.

But America can end this national disaster–and embarrassment. The solution lies in remembering that the powerful never voluntarily surrender their privileges.

Americans did not win their freedom from Great Britain–and its enslaving doctrine of “the divine right of kings”–by begging for their rights. And Americans will not win their freedom from their corporate masters–and the equally enslaving doctrine of “the divine right of employers”–by begging for the right to work and support themselves and their families.

A policy based only on concessions–such as endless tax breaks for hugely profitable corporations and their disgracefully overpaid CEOs–is a policy of appeasement.

And appeasement only whets the appetite of those appeased for even greater concessions.

It is, in short, time to hold wealthy and powerful corporations accountable for their socially and financially irresponsible acts.

This solution can be summed up in three words: Employers Responsibility Act.

If passed by Congress and vigorously enforced by the U.S. Department of Justice, an ERA would ensure full-time, permanent and productive employment for millions of capable, job-seeking Americans.

And it would achieve this without raising taxes or creating controversial government “make work” programs.

An Employers Responsibility Act would simultaneously address the following evils for which employers are directly responsible:

• The loss of jobs within the United States owing to companies’ moving their operations abroad—solely to pay substandard wages to their new employees.
• The mass firings of employees which usually accompany corporate mergers or acquisitions.
• The widespread victimization of part-time employees, who are not legally protected against such threats as racial discrimination, sexual harassment and unsafe working conditions.
• The refusal of many employers to create better than menial, low-wage jobs.
• The widespread employer practice of extorting “economic incentives” from cities or states in return for moving to or remaining in those areas. Such “incentives” usually absolve employers from complying with laws protecting the environment and/or workers’ rights.
• The refusal of many employers to provide medical and pension benefits—nearly always in the case of part-time employees, and, increasingly, for full-time, permanent ones as well.
• Rising crime rates, due to rising unemployment.

To discover how such legislation would work, read on.

ATTACKING BLUE SHIELD EXTORTION–PART TWO

In Uncategorized on January 9, 2011 at 7:46 am

On January 5, 2011, the Mafia got a new competitor in the extortion market.

Blue Shield of California announced it would seek cumulative hikes of as much as 59% for tens of thousands of customers March 1.

As a result, 193,000 policyholders would see increases averaging 30% to 35%, the result of three separate rate hikes since October.

Nearly 1 in 4 of the affected customers will see cumulative increases of more than 50% over five months.

Most policyholders received separate notices for the successive rate hikes. But others got the news all at once because they had contracts guaranteeing their rate for a year.

Michael Fraser, a Blue Shield policyholder from San Diego, learned that his monthly bill would climb 59%, to $431 from $271.

Fraser is self-employed–like many who hold individual policies. Others policyholders aren’t covered by employer plans or have been laid off.

The Blue Shield increases triggered complaints to new California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones.

Jones, a former Democratic state assemblyman, said the legislature needed to give his agency legal authority to regulate insurance rates the same way it now does automobile coverage.

At present, the commissioner can block increases only if insurers spend less than 70% of premium income on claims.

But the insurance industry-corrupted legislature seems highly unlikely to grant the Insurance Commissioner such authority to protect consumers.

So: How do consumers protect themselves against such predatory behavior?

They do it by turning to RICO–the Racketeer Influenced Corrupt Organizations Act.

Passed by Congress in 1970, this was originally aimed at the kingpins of the Mafia. Since the mid-1980s, however, RICO has been successfully applied against both terrorist groups and legitimate businesses engaged in criminal activity.

Under RICO, people financially injured by a pattern of criminal activity can bring a claim in State or Federal court, and obtain damages at three times the amount of their actual claim, plus reimbursement for their attorneys’ fees and costs.

Consider this selection from the opening of the Act:

“Racketeering activity means (A) any act or threat involving…extortion…; (B) any act which is indictable under any of the following provisions of Title 18, United States Code…Sections 391-384 (relating to extortionate credit transactions) …section 1951 (relating to interference with commerce; robbery or extortion)…section 1952 (relating to racketeering)….”

How does the behavior of Blue Shield legally qualify as extortion?

By repeatedly jacking up premiums, insurers such as Blue Shield and Anthem are endangering the safety of their customers–by, in effect, threatening to deprive them of their ability to secure medical care for themselves and/or their families.

Would such use of RICO in such circumstances be a new and untested means for redressing injuries? Yes.

But it’s essential to remember that the original law proved a completely new way for combating crime.

Prior to RICO, only those directly involved in committing crimes–such as Mafia hitmen, extortionists and drug-peddlers–could be prosecuted. But their superiors who gave the orders and ruled as kingpins of a criminal network couldn’t legally be touched.

After RICO proved successful in targeting Mafia kingpins, it was applied in cases previously unimagined.

In NOW v. Scheidler, (1994), for example, several parties, including the National Organization for Women, sought damages and an injunction against anti-abortion activists who physically blocked access to abortion clinics.

The Supreme Court held that a RICO enterprise does not need an economic motive, and that the Pro-Life Action Network could therefore qualify as a RICO enterprise.

Taking on the wealthy and well-entrenched insurance industry would be no small thing. But there was once a time when the victims of smoking–and the lawyers who represented them–thought it suicidal to take on the tobacco industry.

The first cases brought against that enterprise failed. But, in time, public opinion changed–and tobacco companies found themselves facing not just private lawsuits but the combined might of Attorneys General throughout the United States.

As a result, the tobacco industry is now on the defensive–and under increasing scrutiny and regulation.

The same can happen with the insurance industry. As Andrew Jackson so fervently believed: “One man with courage makes a majority.”

ATTACKING BLUE SHIELD EXTORTION – PART ONE

In Bureaucracy, Business, Law on January 9, 2011 at 12:16 am

California residents who might need medical care in 2011 got a jolt on January 5.

That was when San Francisco-based Blue Shield of California announced it would seek cumulative rate hikes of as much as 59% for tens of thousands of customers. These would go into effect on March 1.

Blue Shield said the increases were the result of fast-rising healthcare costs and other expenses resulting from new healthcare laws.

Translation: Blame it all on President Obama for trying to make medical care affordable to American who aren’t millionaires.

In all, Blue Shield said, 193,000 policyholders would see increases averaging 30% to 35%, the result of three separate rate hikes since October.

Nearly 1 in 4 of the affected customers will see cumulative increases of more than 50% over five months.

Blue Shield is not the first insurance company to give the Mafia lessons on extortion.

In 2010, Anthem Blue Cross tried to raise rates as much as 39% for about 700,000 California customers.

This led to national outrage and helped President Obama marshal support for his healthcare overhaul. The insurer was ultimately forced to back down, accepting maximum rate hikes of 20%.

The Blue Shield increases triggered complaints to new Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones.

Jones, a former Democratic state assemblyman, said the legislature needed to give his agency legal authority to regulate insurance rates the same way it now does automobile coverage.

At present, the commissioner can block increases only if insurers spend less than 70% of premium income on claims. Jones’ office said Blue Shield’s March 1 increase was under review.

It seems highly unlikely, however, that Jones’ office will get that needed authority. The legislature is largely owned by insurance industry bribes (i.e., “campaign contributions”).

An October 29, 2010, press release by Consumer Federation of California noted of the-then ongoing race for State Insurance Commissioner:

“Insurance companies are spending a fortune to hand pick their next regulator. The insurance industry has so far pumped $5.7 million into ads attacking the pro-consumer candidate Dave Jones, or promoting Mike Villines, the industry’s choice for Insurance Commissioner.”

The Federation’s press release further notes: “Now, at the 11th hour, the insurers are suddenly funneling millions into TV attack ads aimed at defeating Jones and electing Villines.

“Aware of the public’s disregard for their industry, insurers are funneling their money through big business front groups, like the so-called ‘Jobs PAC.’

“By placing their donations through big business PACs, the insurers allow Villines to posture as a supposedly ‘independent’ candidate….”

Major donors to anti-Jones and pro-Villines campaign advertisements included:

• $1 million dollars from Mercury Insurance CEO George Joseph,
• $1.15 million from Allstate,
• $640,000 from Liberty Mutual Insurance,
• $390,000 from Progressive Insurance,
• $225,000 from Farmers Insurance and
• $150,000 from Anthem Blue Cross.

The California Chamber of Commerce added another $2 million, most of it from donations it collected from insurance industry interests.

Yet Californians need not wait for the legislature to behave responsibly on their behalf. They have a potent weapon at their dieposal–a weapon that strikes terror in the hearts of Mafia overlords and terrorists.

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