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Archive for June 4th, 2010|Daily archive page

A CURE FOR UNEMPLOYMENT

In Bureaucracy, Business, Law, Politics, Social commentary on June 4, 2010 at 1:33 pm

“The U.S. now has two deficits to overcome on the road to economic health,” writes Joseph Lazarro, economics and markets columnist. “A budget deficit and a jobs deficit.”

Lazarro cites a May jobs report by the Labor Department as “dismal” in its economic outlook.

The economy added 431,000 jobs in May–far less than the 540,000 Bloomberg survey estimate. Excluding the 411,000 U.S. Census workers hired, private sector payrools rose by only 20,000.

Yet the fortunes of qualified, willing-to-work Americans can be sharply turned around.

An Employers Responsibility Act would address the terrible economic waste and moral unfairness of the current job-search climate.

In this, job-seekers are legally obligated to acquire the education and experience, and demonstrate the ability and integrity that employers demand.

Yet employers are under no legal or even moral obligation to demonstrate any respect for such achievements—such as the respect shown by offering worthwhile jobs instead of worthless excuses for refusing to hire.

The result? Countless highly-qualified and highly-motivated job-seekers daily face an “I win/You lose” situation—where the winner is always the employer.

Summing up this employer-as-God attitude, Calvin Coolidge still speaks for the overwhelming majority of employers and their paid lackeys in government: “The man who builds a factory builds a temple, and the man who works there worships there.”

We, as a Nation, can finally put an end to this arrogant and wasteful attitude. And an Employers Responsibility Act can be the catalyst for this long-overdue change.

EMPLOYERS RESPONSIBILITY ACT

A nationwide Employers Responsibility Act would ensure full-time, productive employment for millions of capable, job-seeking American. And it would achieve this goal without raising taxes or creating controversial government “make work” programs.

If passed by Congress and vigorously enforced by the U.S. Departments of Justice and Labor, such legislation would legally require employers to demonstrate as much initiative for hiring as job-seekers are now expected to show in searching for work. Its provisions 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 THE FEDS LEARNED TO PROTECT WITNESSES–PART FOUR

In Bureaucracy, History, Law Enforcement on June 4, 2010 at 8:48 am

On some occasions, deputy U.S. marshals feared Mafia hitmen less than “young punks” who might try to gain a reputation by killing a notorious witness.

Such was the case when Deputy U.S. Marshal James Gardiner was assigned to protect Vincent Teresa. Once the number-three man in the Raymond Patriarca Mafia Family, Teresa became the target of a $500,000 contract when he turned federal witness.

Gardiner believed that a professional hitman wouldn’t dare try such a hit: the resulting investigation would put him out of business. But would-be gunsels, unaffiliated with the Mafia and eager to earn its gratitude, might be willing to do so.

“And with someone as big as Teresa—325 pounds—you had to protect your own men assigned to guard him,” recalled Gardiner. Security on Teresa proved airtight, and no Mafia or freelance assassins made an attempt on his life.

Gardiner (and other marshals) often relied on disguises to foil mob killers. Once, he and a witness, dressed in painters’ overalls and carrying a ladder, casually walked into a courthouse. (Gardiner was also carrying an empty paint can, which contained his pistol.) Outside, the Mafia’s hitmen were waiting for the scheduled arrival of the marshals’ detail. No one paid any attention to the two “workmen.” In fact, one of the mob’s assassins stepped forward to open the courthouse door for them.

Sometimes a witness and his guards faced as much danger from corrupt policemen as from Mafia hitmen. One NYPD officer accepted a Mafia enforcer’s invitation to work for him as a firearms expert. The policeman agreed to supply the mobster with dumdum bullets–which would be used to silence federal informants. Part of this conversation—captured by a hidden microphone—went:

MIKE: You like the way we set up the federal stool pigeons?
POLICEMAN: What do you mean, “stool pigeons”?
MIKE: Stool pigeons.
POLICEMAN: Oh, that’s what you’re after, stool pigeons?
MIKE: Only stool pigeons.
POLICEMAN: Oh, yeah.
MIKE: Nobody else. Only stool pigeons. I mean like, the cops like stool pigeons when they go, especially if they’re federal stool pigeons, right?
POLICEMAN: Nah. You’re kidding. How many times have I seen and have I heard—
MIKE: I said the cops—
POLICEMAN: Yeah?
MIKE: New York policemen—
POLICEMAN: Yeah?
MIKE: —Like it when a federal stool pigeon is hit.
POLICEMAN: Nah. What difference does it make? To me, it makes no difference.
MIKE: There’s a big difference. I’ll tell you why. A New York cop–detective or police department–doesn’t like a federal stool pigeon, because he’ll stool on anyone. I never do it. I walk.

“In New Jersey, federal agents had arrested so many politicians and mobsters, we knew the cops were infiltrated,” said former deputy U.S. marshal Gary Bricker of his assignment as a bodyguard for securities thief Gerald Zelmanowitz.

“And we knew it was just as likely we’d be hit by a guy in a policeman’s uniform as by a guy in a double-breasted suit. So we [himself and Zelmanowitz] were really on our own. We protected each other.”

In fact, Bricker and his security detail came within a hair’s-breath of a shootout with officers of the New Jersey Police Department. The police suspected that Zelmanowitz was using his house as a base for the fencing of stolen antiques. They didn’t know that Zelmanowitz had just agreed to become a federal witness.

Nor did they know he was now under constant protection by deputy U.S. marshals. Accordingly, they made plans for a late-night raid on the house.

Only hours before the raid, police stopped a car carrying what they believed were two criminal associates of Zelmanowitz. At a nearby police station, the arrested men identified themselves as deputy U.S. marshals. The police were surprised to learn that Zelmanowitz was under federal protection.

Surprise gave way to shock when they learned that the marshals were armed with bulletproof vests and Thompson submachine guns. Had the raid occurred, the marshals would have mowed down the police as they charged across the front lawn.

So the agents of the Witness Security Program usually distrusted local and even state police departments. The names and locations of federal witnesses were rarely divulged to such agencies. And when this occurred, the circumstances were truly extraordinary, as in the case of Gerald Zelmanowitz.

Sometimes this distrust of local police surfaced publicly and dramatically, such as during the security detail for Robert Leuci. A former member of the elite Special Investigating Unit of the NYPD, Leuci had done the unthinkable: he had become a federal undercover agent to expose massive narcotics corruption among judges, defense attorneys, bail bondsmen—and his fellow officers.

Scheduled to testify before a federal grand jury, Leuci was placed under guard by eight specially-screened NYPD cops. And deputy U.S. marshals were assigned to closely watch the eight officers—to ensure that none of them tried to murder Leuci.

Copyright@1984 Taking Cover: Inside the Witness Security Program, by Steffen White and Richard St. Germain

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