Archive for August, 2011|Monthly archive page


In Business, Law, Politics on August 22, 2011 at 10:20 am

A nationwide Employers Responsibility Act would ensure fulltime, productive employment for millions of capable, job-seeking Americans. 

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

In Part Two of this three-part series, I listed seven of its possible provisions.  Here are another seven:

(8) 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.

(9) 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.”

(10) 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.

(11) 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.

(12) 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.

(13) 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 longtime and legally-validated practice of using undercover agents to determine compliance with fair-housing laws.

(14) 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.

* * * * *

The message behind a vigorously enforced Employers Responsibility Act would be unmistakably clear to all willing-to-work Americans:

  • The era of “the divine right of employers” is finally–and fortunately–over.
  • If you, as a job-seekerare qualified and willing to work, then employers–having the wealth and authority to hire–are legally required to recognize and reward those qualifications and initiative.
  • Quit begging employers to behave responsibly–and demand  that they act like (hiring) patriots instead of (non-hiring)  predators.
  • And don’t be afraid to legally punish those who refuse to do so.

Even more importantly, that message would be unmistakably clear to all would-be predator-employers.


In Business, Law, Politics on August 20, 2011 at 7:50 am

All those who have written upon civil institutions demonstrate…that whoever desires to found a state and give it laws, must start with assuming that all men are bad and ever ready to display their vicious nature, whenever they may find occasion for it.  If their evil disposition remains concealed for a time, it must be attributed to some unknown reason; and we must assume that it lacked occasion to show itself.  But time, which has been said to be the father of all truth, does not fail to bring it to light.

–The Discourses, by Niccolo Machiavelli

The solution to America’s unemployment crisis can be summed up in three words: Employers Responsibility Act.

A nationwide Employers Responsibility Act would ensure fulltime, productive employment for millions of capable, job-seeking Americans. 

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


In Bureaucracy, Business, Law, Politics on August 19, 2011 at 1:41 pm

President Barack Obama will launch a two-pronged plan to create jobs and trim the deficit in a September.

Obama will lay out the initiative in a major speech as soon as lawmakers return to Washington after the Labor Day holiday.

Among the provisions of the plan:

  • A commitment to reduce the deficit by more than $1.5 trillion.
  • Tax cuts aimed at the middle class.
  • A call for infrastructure spending.
  • Help for the long-term unemployed.
  • Measures targeting specific ailing sectors of the economy.
  • Fresh measures for payroll tax extensions
  • Jobs help for Afghan and Iraq war veterans.

There is no need to wait until September to hear the President’s speech.  The solution to creating jobs can be summed up in three words: Employers Responsibility Act.

Only an ERA will address the single greatest reason for America’s unemployment crisis: The refusal of employers to hire American workers.

In its June 8 cover-story on “What U.S. Economic Recovery?  Five Destructive Myths,” Time magazine warned that profit-seeking corporations can’t be relied on to ”make it all better.”

Wrote Rana Foroohar, Time‘s assistant managing editor in charge of economics and business:

“There is a fundamental disconnect between the fortunes of American companies, which are doing quite well, and American workers, most of whom are earning a lower hourly wage now than they did during the recession.

“The thing is, companies make plenty of money; they just don’t spend it on workers here.

“There may be $2 trillion sitting on the balance sheets of American corporations globally, but firms show no signs of wanting to spend it in order to hire workers at home.”

In short:  Giving even greater tax breaks to mega-corporations–the standard Republican mantra–has not persuaded them to stop “outsourcing” jobs. Nor has it convinced them to start hiring Americans.

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

Yet there is also a disconnect between the truth of this situation and the willingness of Americans to face up to that truth.

The reason:

“The Republicans have pulled off a major (some would say cynical) miracle,” writes Foroohar.

They have convinced “the majority of Americans that the way to jump-start the economy is to slash taxes on the wealthy and on cash-hoarding corporations while cutting benefits for millions of Americans.

“It’s fun-house math that can’t work.  We’ll need both tax increases and sensible entitlement cuts to get back on track.”

But America can end this national disaster–and disgrace.

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–is a policy of appeasement.

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

It is past 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.


In History, Politics on August 18, 2011 at 8:33 am

In 1845, Andrew Jackson, seventh President of the United States from 1829 to 1837, lay dying at The Hermitage in Nashville, Tennessee.

Jackson had spent his adult life defending the infant United States.  He had fought the Indians and British during the War of 1812, capping his career as a general with his triumph at the Battle of New Orleans in 1815.  

As President, he had faced down would-be “nullifiers”–those Southern politicians who claimed states had the right to ignore federal laws they disliked.

But now his worn, disease-racked body was fast reaching the limits of its endurance.  Knowing that death was closing in, Jackson often took stock of his lifetime of achievements–and failures.

One day, he asked one of his doctors what act of his administration would be most severely condemned by future generations.

“Perhaps the removal of the bank deposits,” said the doctor–referring to Jackson’s withdrawal of U.S. Government monies from the first Bank of the United States. 

That act had destroyed the bank, which Jackson had believed was a source of political corruption.

“Oh, no!” said Jackson.

“Then maybe the specie circular,” said the doctor.  He was referring to an 1836 executive order Jackson had issued, requiring payment for government land to be in gold and silver.

“Not at all!” said Jackson. 

Then, his eyes blazing, Jackson raged: “I can tell you.  Posterity will condemn me more because I was persuaded not to hang John C. Calhoun as a traitor than for any other act in my life!”

Historians have not condemned Jackson for this.  But perhaps he was right–and perhaps he should have hanged Calhoun. 

It might have prevented the Civil War–or at least delayed its coming.

John C. Calhoun had once been Vice President under Jackson and later a United  States Senator from South Carolina.   His fiery rhetoric and radical theories of “nufflication” played a major part in bringing on the Civil War (1861-1865).

Calhoun was an outspoken proponent of slavery, which he declared to be  a “positive good” rather than a “necessary evil.”  He supported states’ rights and nullification–under which states could declare null and void federal laws which they deemed  unconstitutional. 

Over time, Southern states’ threats of “nullifcation” turned to those of “secession” from the Union.

Jackson died in 1845–16 years before the Civil War erupted.  The resulting carnage destroyed as many as 620,000 lives.  More Americans died in the war than have been killed in all the major wars fought by the United States  since.

When it ended, America was reinvented as a new, unified nation–and one where slavery was now banned by the 13th Amendment to the United States Constitution. 

Equally important, the Federal Government had now set a precedent for using overwhelming military power to force states to remain in the Union.

Except for die-hard secessionists, Americans overwhelmingly agreed, from 1865 on, that the Union was sacred and unbreakable.  Until, that is, the 2009 inauguaration of Barack Obama–the country’s first black President.

Then, suddenly, secession–treason–became fashionable again, not only among many Southerners but even among so-called “mainstream” Republicans.

To date, sovereignty resolutions have been introduced in 58 state legislatures, and have passed in nine–Alaska, Arizona, Idaho, Kansas, North Dakota, South Dakota, Oaklahoma, Louisiana and Tennessee. 

“Sovereignty” means supreme, independent authority over a territory–authority heretofore accepted as residing with the federal government.

In April, 2009, the polling firm Research 2000 asked Texas residents, “Do you think Texas would be better off as an independent nation or as part of the United States of America?” 

Forty-eight percent of Republican respondents said: “An independent nation.”  Asked if they agreed with Texas Governor Rick Perry’s recent pro-secessionist remarks (“We reserve the right to leave”) 51% of Republican respondents said yes. 

“We’ve got a great union,” Perry said at an Austin anti-tax Tea Party rally on April 15, 2009.  “There’s absolutely no reason to dissolve it. But if Washington continues to thumb their nose at the American people, you know, who knows what might come out of that?

“But Texas is a very unique place, and we’re a pretty independent lot to boot.”

He added that when Texas entered the union in 1845, it was with the understanding it could pull out.

During his speech, some of the crowd–including those waving U.S. flags–shouted, “Secede!”  “Secede!”

Abraham Lincoln dedicated his Presidency–and sacrificed his life–to ensure the preservation of a truly United States.

And Robert E. Lee–the defeated South’s greatest general–spent the last five years of his life trying to put the Civil War behind him and persuade his fellow Southerners to accept their place in the Union. 

But Rick Perry and other champions of treason are working hard to destroy that union–and unleash a second Civil War.


In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Politics on August 4, 2011 at 5:11 pm

On August 1, Chris Matthews, MSNBC’s noted political analyst, wrapped up his “Hardball” program with a search for “options.”

Specifically, he wanted to learn what it would take to avoid another round of Republican extortion tactics.

“I want to know what steps the president ‘could’ have taken to avoid this hostage-taking.

“…Is there another way than either buckling to the Republicans or letting the government and the country crash?

“How does he use the power of the presidency, the logic, emotion and basic patriotism of the people to thwart those willing to threaten, disrupt, even possibly destroy to get their way?”

Now, the remedy:

In 1970, Congress passed the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act, Title 18, United States Code, Sections 1961-1968.

Congress’ goal was to eliminate the ill-affects of organized crime on the nation’s economy. To put it bluntly, RICO was intended to destroy the Mafia.

In the 1980s, however, civil lawyers noticed section 1964(c) of the RICO Act.  This allows civil claims to be brought by anyone injured in their business or property by reason of a RICO violation.

Anyone who prevailed in a a civil RICO suit would automatically receive judgment of three times their actual damages and would be awarded their costs and attorneys’ fees.

Originally, the RICO Act was aimed at the Mafia and other organized crime syndicates.  But in United States v. Turkette, 452 U.S. 576 (1981), the Supreme Court held that RICO applied to both legitimate and illegitimate RICO enterprises.

Previously,  many lower courts had tried to limit RICO to recognized “criminal” enterprises. After Turkette, RICO could also be used against corporations, political protest groups, labor unions and loosely knit-groups of people.

Today, RICO is applied to not only the Mafia but to individuals, businesses, political protest groups, and terrorist organizations. In short, a RICO claim can arise in almost any context.

RICO opens with a series of definitions of “racketeering activity” which can be prosecuted by Justice Department attorneys.  Among those crimes: Extortion.

Extortion is defined as “a criminal offense which occurs when a person unlawfully obtains either money, property or services from a person(s), entity, or institution, through coercion.”

The RICO Act defines “a pattern of racketeering activity” as “at least two acts of racketeering activity, one of which occurred after the effective date of this chapter and the last of which occurred within ten years…. after the commission of a prior act of racketeering activity.”

And should President Obama believe that RICO isn’t sufficient to deal with extortionate behavior, he can rely on the USA Patriot Act of 2001, passed in the wake of 9/11.

In Section 802, the Act defines domestic terrorism.  Among the behavior that is defined as criminal:

“Activities that…appear to be intended…to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion [and]…occur primarily within the territorial jurisdiction of the United States.”

The remedies for punishing such criminal behavior are now legally in place.  President Obama need only direct the Justice Department to apply them.

  • President Obama could direct Attorney General Eric Holder to investigate whether recent actions by Republican Congressman—and their Tea Party cohorts—broke Federal anti-racketeering and/or anti-terrorism laws.
  • Holder, in turn, would order the FBI to conduct that investigation.
  • If the FBI found sufficient evidence that these laws had been violated, Holder could empanel criminal grand juries to indict those violators.

The fact that members of Congress would be criminally investigated and possibly indicted would not violate the separation-of-powers principle.  Congressmen have in the past been investigated, indicted and convicted for various criminal offenses.

Such indictments and prosecutions–and especially convictions–would serve notice on current and future members of Congress that the lives and fortunes of American citizens may not be held hostage as part of a negotiated settlement.

Not only would this be legally defensable, there are solid moral grounds for it.  Niccolo Machiavelli, the father of political science, devotes a chapter to “Promises Enacted By Force Need Not Be Honored” in his masterpiece, The Discourses.

Specifically, he writes:

“…There is no disgrace in disregarding promises that have been exacted by force.  Promises touching public affairs, and which have been given under the pressure of force, will always be disregarded when that force no longer exists, and this involves no dishonor.”

There is, in short, “another way than either buckling to the Republicans or letting the government and the country crash.”  It is to replace the law of fear with the rule of law.


In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Politics on August 4, 2011 at 12:31 pm

“Those who are willing to risk everything, even death and destruction, to attain their ends will prevail over more responsible and prudent men who have more to lose and are rational, not suicidal.”

—Ernst Cassier, Chairman of Philosophy, Hamburg University

After being forced to accept Republican blackmail as the price for preserving the nation’s financial integrity, President Obama might yet snatch victory from defeat.

That remedy can be spelled out in four letters: R-I-C-O.

Or, to be more precise: The Racketeer Influenced Corrupt Organizations Act.

First, the crime:

  • Republicans refused to raise the debt ceiling unless Democrats agreed to massively cut social programs for the elderly, poor and disabled.
  • Republicans further demanded there be no tax increases on the wealthy–especially the wealthiest 1% of the population.
  • If they didn’t get their way, they would block the raising of the country’s debt ceiling.
  • If Congress failed to raise the borrowing limit of the federal government by August 2, the date when the U.S. reached the limit of its borrowing abilities, it would begin defaulting on its loans.

One of the most influential critics of this exercise in extortion was Warren Buffett, CEO of Berkshire Hathaway.

“If you don’t send out social security checks, I would hate to think about the credit meeting at S&P and Moody’s the next morning,” said Buffett.

“If you’re not paying millions and millions and millions of people that range in age from 65 on up, money you promised them, you’re not a AAA.”

A triple-A credit rating is the highest possible rating that can be received.

“We raised the debt ceiling seven times during the Bush Administration,” Buffett told CNBC.

Putting the episode into terms a Federal prosecutor could understand, Buffett noted:

Because a Democrat held the White House, the Republican-controlled Congress was “trying to use the incentive now that we’re going to blow your brains out, America, in terms of your debt worthiness over time.

“We had debt at 120 percent of the GDP, far higher than this, after World War II and no one went around threatening that we’re going to ruin the credit of the United States or something in order to get a better balance of debt to GDP.”

The GDP–gross domestic product–refers to the market value of all final goods and services produced within a country in a given period.

Noted political analyst Chris Matthews summed up the sheer criminality of what happened within the House of Representatives.

Speaking on MSNBC’s “Hardball,” on July 28–five days before Congress reached its August 2 deadline to raise the debt-ceiling–Matthews noted:

“The first people to bow to the demands of those threatening to blow up the economy were the Republicans in the House, the leaders. The leaders did what the followers told them to do: meet the demands, hold up the country to get their way.

“Those followers didn’t win the Senate, or the Presidency, just the House.

“But by using the House they were able to hold up the entire United States government. They threatened to blow things up economically and it worked.

“They said they were willing to do that–just to get their way–not by persuasion, not by politics, not by democratic government, but by threatening the destruction of the country’s finances.

“Right. So what’s next? The power grid? Will they next time threaten to close down the country’s electricity and communications systems?”

On August 1, Matthews wrapped up his program with a search for “options” to avoid another round of Republican extortion tactics.

“I want to know what steps the president ‘could’ have taken to avoid this hostage-taking.

“…Is there another way than either buckling to the Republicans or letting the government and the country crash?

“How does he use the power of the presidency, the logic, emotion and basic patriotism of the people to thwart those willing to threaten, disrupt, even possibly destroy to get their way?”

The answers to those questions will be explored in my next post.

%d bloggers like this: