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Posts Tagged ‘BARACK OBAMA’

LIE CREATORS: PART SEVEN (END)

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Politics, Social commentary on September 21, 2018 at 12:30 am

Another way an Employers Responsibility Act (ERA) could promote fulltime employment: It would nicely dovetail with the 1946 Employment Act.

Codified as 15 U.S.C. § 1021, this is a United States federal law. It states: “It is the continuing policy and responsibility of the Federal government…to promote maximum employment, production, and purchasing power.”

Unfortunately, that act has been seriously neglected, according to the late Wallace C. Peterson, George Holmes Professor of Economics Emeritus at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Peterson, who died in April, 2012, was a proponent of Keynesian economics and authored a textbook on macroeconomics that was widely adopted in colleges and universities through eight editions.

He authored a second economics textbook, five specialized economics books and over 60 articles.

He was elected president of the Association for Evolutionary Economics (AFEE), president of the Association for Social Economics, president of the Midwest Economics Association and was the 1992 recipient of the Veblen-Commons award.

“No administration since the Kennedy-Johnson presidencies in the 1960s has taken the Employment Act seriously,” wrote Peterson in a letter to this columnist.

“President Kennedy established a 4% unemployment rate as an interim target on the road to a full employment economy.  But after President Johnson left office in 1969, full employment has not been an important policy objective for any administration, Democrat or Republican.

“The nation needs a modernized full employment policy.”

Wallace C. Peterson

Such a full-employment policy “would not only seek to bring the unemployment rate down to 3% or less, but would also aim at the creation of ‘good jobs’—jobs that carry with them an income appropriate to middle-class hopes and aspirations,” wrote Peterson.

“Too many of the millions who have lost good jobs in the last two decades have not been able to find new, fulltime jobs. or have had to take significant reduction in pay even if they were able to find fulltime work. 

“Government through the 1946 Employment Act has a major responsibility to promote conditions that tmake full employment possible. Workers have a major responsibility to educate and train themselves for the jobs that become available in a society characterized by rapid technical change.

“What of employers?  What is their responsibility?

“Such an [Employers Responsibility] Act would require employers to demonstrate as much responsibility for hiring as job-seekers are expected to display in finding work.

”This “is certain to be controversial, but it adds yet another dimension to the debate on how an adequate number of good, well-paying jobs can be created….”

“An Employers Responsibility Act, in combination with existing legislation such as the 1946 Employment Act and the 1935 National Labor-Relations Act, could be a powerful force in moving labor-management relations in this country away from its current adversarial character, toward a more harmonious and cooperative climate.”

* * * * *

For thousands of years, otherwise highly intelligent men and women believed that kings ruled by divine right. That kings held absolute power, levied extortionate taxes and sent countless millions of men off to war—all because God wanted it that way.

That lunacy was dealt a deadly blow in 1776 when American Revolutionaries threw off the despotic rule of King George III of England.

But today, millions of Americans remain imprisoned by an equally outrageous and dangerous theory: The Theory of the Divine Right of Employers.

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

America can no longer afford such a dangerous fallacy as the Theory of the Divine Right of Employers. 

President Donald Trump has repeatedly crowed over the passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, passed by the Senate on December 19, 2017, and signed into law by him on December 22. 

Yet former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich warned before the bill became law:  

“What corporations have done [with past tax cuts] is raise executive salaries and also buy back shares of stock, in order to raise stock prices. They don’t invest the money in additional jobs or additional machines or additional equipment or things like that because there is no reason for them to unless they have got more demand for their goods and services. And this bill is not going to create more demand.”

In short: The powerful never voluntarily behave responsibly or 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.

And they will most certainly never win such freedom by supporting right-wing political candidates whose first and only allegiance is to the corporate interests who bankroll their campaigns.

Corporations can—and do—spend millions of dollars on TV ads, selling lies—lies such as the “skills gap,” and how if the wealthy are forced to pay their fair share of taxes, jobs will inevitably disappear.

But Americans can choose to reject those lies—and demand that employers behave like patriots instead of predators.

LIE CREATORS: PART SIX (OF SEVEN)

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Politics, Social commentary on September 20, 2018 at 12:05 am

The last five provisions of an Employers Responsibility Act (ERA) would cover the following:

(11)  Employers who continue to make such overtures would be prosecuted for attempted bribery or extortion:

  1. Bribery, if they offered to move to a city/state in return for “economic incentives,” or
  2. 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)  The Justice Department and/or the Labor Department would be required to maintain a publicly-accessible database on those companies that had been cited, sued and/or convicted for such offenses as

  • discrimination,
  • harassment,
  • health and/or safety violations or
  • violating immigration laws. 

Employers would be legally required to regularly provide such information to these agencies, so that it would remain accurate and up-to-date. 

Such information would arm job applicants with vital information about the employers they were approaching.  They could thus decide in advance if an employer is deserving of their skills and dedication.

As matters now stand, employers can legally demand to learn even the most private details of an applicant’s life without having to disclose even the most basic information about themselves and their history of treating employees.

(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 controlling 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 eager to hire illegal aliens at a fraction of the money paid to American workers, the invasions of illegal job-seekers would quickly come to an end.

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

* * * * *

Right-wing capitalists and their paid shills in Congress would attack such legislation as radically Communist. But an Employers Responsibility Act (ERA) would greatly increase America’s economic strength. 

With a fully-employed workforce, far more consumers could afford the wide array of goods and services turned out by American business.

When consumers can’t afford these, companies are forced to cut their employees and produce fewer goods, which creates an ever-downward spiral.

An ERA would allow Democrats, to address the needs of blue-collar workers who once served as one of their primary constituencies. 

During the 2016 Presidential campaign, Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton voiced the frustrations of millions of poor and middle-class Americans who felt abandoned by their employers and Washington policymakers. 

Related image

Hillary Clinton

On September 26, Clinton said:

There “are people who feel that the government has let them down, the economy has let them down. Nobody cares about them. Nobody worries about what happens to their lives and their futures, and they’re just desperate for change. It doesn’t really even matter where it comes from.

“They don’t buy everything [Donald Trump] says, but he seems to hold out some hope that their lives will be different. They won’t wake up and see their jobs disappear, lose a kid to heroin, feel like they’re in a dead-end. Those are people we have to understand and empathize with as well.”

Eloquent words. But then she made no effort to follow up. 

She could have used this moment to offer an economic package to quickly and effectively address their vital needs for jobs and medical care. 

In May, 2016, Democratic pollster CeLinda Lake had warned Clinton to revamp her economic platform.

But Clinton had made no such effort. As a result, all she had to offer was boilerplate rhetoric, such as: “Education is the answer.” 

Meanwhile, Republican Presidential nominee Donald Trump appealed to blue-collar voters as a populist. He visited “Rustbelt” states like Michigan and Pennsylvania, and vowed to “bring back” jobs that had been lost to China, such as those in coal mining and manufacturing.

Clinton didn’t deign to show up, assuming she had those states “locked up.”

“Democrats simply have to come up with a more robust economic frame and message,” Lake said after the election.

“We’re never going to win those white, blue-collar voters if we’re not better on the economy. And 27 policy papers and a list of positions is not a frame. We can laugh about it all we want, but Trump had one.” 

And he used it to win those states Clinton had refused to visit.

LIE CREATORS: PART FIVE (OF SEVEN)

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Politics, Social commentary on September 19, 2018 at 12:05 am

America can end this national disaster—and disgrace—of willing-to-work Americans being unable to find willing-to-hire employers.

The solution: A nationwide Employers Responsibility Act (ERA).  

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.

Among its provisions:

(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:

  • Untold numbers of currently-exploited workers would be protected from the abuses of predatory employers; and
  • 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:

  • Their economic inability to hire further employees, and/or
  • 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:

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

LIE CREATORS: PART FOUR (OF SEVEN)

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Politics, Social commentary on September 18, 2018 at 12:06 am

More than six million willing-to-work Americans can’t find willing-to-hire employers.

And where there are victims, there are always people ready to profit from their desperation.

Consider the following email sent out by Steve Poizner, former Republican State Insurance Commissioner of California (2007-2011).

A successful Silicon Valley high tech entrepreneur, Poizner founded SnapTrack, Inc. and Strategic Mapping, Inc. In June, 2011, he co-founded the Encore Career Institute with the Sherry Lansing Foundation and Creative Artists Agency.

Thus, the email sent out on July 2, 2012, to advertise “Empowered UCLA Extension”:

Dear friends,

I wanted to share with you some news before my new venture – Empowered Careers – launches around the country….I’ve started this company to help address one of the key issues we face today — jobs. Our venture aims to close the skills gap through an innovative career development program — all delivered via the iPad.

It’s all designed specifically for baby boomers seeking to make a career change, get ahead professionally, or get back into the workforce.

Note the line: “Our venture aims to close the skills gap,” which it assumes to be a reality.

And the ad says nothing about the “greed gap” which exists between what employers demand from workers—and what they are willing to pay in return.

The Encore Careers Institute will offer online non-degree certificates for out of work adults and baby boomers looking to switch careers.

When did a non-degree certificate ever convince an employer to hire? Even a hiring-inclined employer?

And consider this passage:

Using our Empowered app, the iPad will transform any adult’s living room into a modern day classroom or transform a park bench into a study group while the kids are at soccer practice.

But transforming “any adult’s living room into a modern day classroom” will not compel those employers who refuse to hire to begin doing so.

Nor will it change the behavior of employers who:

  • Will hire—but only on a part-time, no-benefits, minimum-wage basis;
  • Continue to throw hard-working American employees into the street; and
  • Move their companies to China, Mexico or Singapore.

And note that this program is aimed at those who can afford an iPad–and to shell out $9,800 for the course. This, says the website, “includes a one-time special reduction of $3,000 from our expected 2013 total program price of $12,800.”

So if you’re poor because you’re jobless, this program has nothing to offer you.

America can end this national disaster—and disgrace—of willing-to-work Americans being unable to fire willing-to-hire employers.

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 (ERA).

If passed by Congress and vigorously enforced by the U.S. Departments of Justice and Labor, 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.

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.

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 or avoid American health/safety laws.
  • 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.

Among its provisions:

(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.

LIE CREATORS: PART THREE (OF SEVEN)

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Politics, Social commentary on September 17, 2018 at 12:19 am

There are legitimate reasons why millions of willing-to-work Americans remain unemployed. Or remain trapped in part-time, no-benefits jobs far below their levels of education and experience.

Some companies—such as Toys R Us—declare bankruptcy and go out of business. Others—such as Macy’s and J.C. Penney—are struggling to meet the challenges of e-commerce and the decline of shopping malls.

But there are sinister ones, too–such as the deliberate refusal of Congressional Republicans to create job opportunities for their fellow Americans.

U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders (I, Vermont) made just that argument to guest host Ezra Klein on the June 12, 2012 edition of “The Rachel Maddow Show.”

KLEIN: Now, some Republicans say and some people say didn’t we do infrastructure a couple years ago? You heard a lot in the stimulus we had done infrastructure. So, how come we have all of this outstanding?

SANDERS: Because we ignored the needs for a long, long, time. Yes, we did put infrastructure. We put it into the state of Vermont, put more money into roads and bridges. But we need a lot more and that`s true for the other 49 states as well.

It’s not only roads…bridges…water systems. It’s mass transportation. It is rail. China is building high-speed rail all over the place. We are not. Our rail system is in many ways deteriorating.

We have schools that are aging. We have culverts that need work. We have tunnels that need work.

We have an enormous amount of work that is ready to go right now and it is beyond comprehension that our Republican friends will not support infrastructure legislation.

If Sanders is correct, Republicans were deliberately sacrificing the economic life of the nation because:

  • They hated President Obama; and
  • They believed that making the American people suffer would lead them to elect Mitt Romney.

On June 4, 2012, veteran political analyst Chris Matthews discussed this possibility with John Heilemann, the national affairs editor for New York magazine. 

MATTHEWS: How much of that is bent because of the 1% campaign of the president….going after them for grabbing most of the wealth in this country through tax policy and everything else? Are they resentful enough of that…

HEILEMANN: Yes….If you talk to people in business and finance….about the actual substance of the president’s policies, the substance does not bother them as much as the rhetoric.

More than six million Americans are now unemployed because many employers have designed “hiring” systems that simply don’t work.

So says Peter Cappelli, the George W. Taylor professor of management at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. He is also the author of  Why Good People Can’t Get Jobs: The Skills Gap and What Companies Can Do About It.

Why Good People Can't Get Jobs: The Skills Gap and What Companies Can Do About It

Employers often whine that they can’t find the talent they need. Today’s applicants, they claim, lack skills, education and even a willingness to work.

The truth is altogether different. According to Cappelli, the fault lies with employers, not job-seekers:

  • Employers “ask for the moon” by vastly inflating their requirements for openings.
  • Many qualified people are automatically removed from consideration by computer technology. The reason: Their resumés don’t match the inflated qualifications demanded by employers.
  • Many employers aren’t willing to pay for the education and skills they claim to respect.  They’re looking for people who are young, cheap and experienced.
  • Online applicants are often asked: “What salary do you expect?”  If you name a salary that’s higher than what the company is willing to pay, you’re instantly rejected.  
  • Many of the candidates employers want to hire refuse to accept the positions at the wage level being offered.
  • Employers don’t want to hire entry-level applicants right out of school. They want experienced candidates who can contribute immediately with no training or start-up time.
  • Employers demand that a single employee perform the work of several highly skilled employees.
  • When employers can’t find the “perfect candidate” they leave positions open for months. But if they were willing to offer some training, they might easily fill those positions.
  • Companies no longer hire new college graduates and groom them for management. They no longer offer training and development. As a result, companies must recruit outsiders.
  • Employers’ unrealistic expectations are fueled partly by their own arrogance. Employers believe they should be able to find “perfect people.” 

According to Cappelli, the hiring system desperately needs serious reform: 

  • If jour job descriptions are inflated, bring them down-to earth.
  • Don’t expect to get something for nothing—or next to it. Offer competitive salaries.
  • Make sure that the automated systems aren’t screening out qualified candidates simply because they don’t have all the brass buttons in a row.
  • Beef up the Human Resources section.

Cappelli worries that the complaints about a labor shortage caused by an unwilling, unskilled workforce will be repeated enough that they will be accepted as truth:

“It’s a loud story…that could become pernicious if it persists. It does have a blame-the-victim feeling to it. It makes people feel better. You don’t have to feel so bad about people suffering if you think they are choosing it somehow.”  

And where there are victims, there are always people ready to profit from their desperation.

LIE CREATORS: PART TWO (OF SEVEN)

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Politics, Social commentary on September 14, 2018 at 12:16 am

Niccolo Machiavelli, the father of modern politics, warns in his masterwork, The Discourses

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.

Niccolo Machiavelli

Where the crimes of corporate employers are concerned, we do not have to wait for their evil disposition to reveal itself. It has been fully revealed for decades. We need only find the courage to redress the costly outrages we see every day in the workplace.

In its June 8, 2011 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.”

Click here: What U.S. Economic Recovery? Five Destructive Myths – TIME

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

American companies “are doing quite well,” but most American workers “are earning a lower hourly wage now than they did during the recession.”

Corporations, in short, are doing extremely well. But they don’t spend their profits on American workers.

“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—will not persuade them to stop “outsourcing” jobs. Nor will it convince 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, writes Foroohar:

Republicans have convinced most Americans they can revitalize the economy by slashing “taxes on the wealthy and on cash-hoarding corporations while cutting benefits for millions of Americans.”

To restore prosperity, America will need both tax increases and cuts in entitlement programs.

Now, fast forward to a March 30, 2018 story in The Motley Fool: “These 12 Companies Have Laid Off Workers in 2018.” 

The “tax reform” bill passed by a Republican Congress in 2017 “included a long-awaited reduction in corporate taxes. The top rate for corporations fell from 35% to a flat 21%.

“It also set a one-time repatriation tax on foreign profits at 15.5%, creating a windfall for many companies.” 

“In spite of the good fortune these events have bestowed on corporate America,” sums up the writer, “you might be surprised to find that there is a growing list of employers that are sending workers home this year.”   

Among those companies: 

  • Verizon Wireless – 3,000 employees.
  • PepsiCo, Inc. – 1,000 layoffs. 
  • J.C. Penney – 360 layoffs on top of an already 5,000 firings.
  • Ford Motor Company – 2,000 layoffs. Amazon.com – hundreds of workers (no specific number given).
  • Macy’s, Inc. – 5,000 jobs eliminated. 
  • AT&T – 4,000 employees.
  • Walmart – eliminating 3,500 co-manager positions in its domestic market, and replacing half of these with lower-paying assistant store managers. It’s also laying off about 500 headquarters staff this year, and will do so in 2019.
  • Kimberly Clark Corporation – laying off 5,000 to 5,500 employees.
  • International Business Machines – According to a Mother Jones article, laid off an estimated 20,000 U.S. workers over the age of 40 since 2013, who were all replaced by “less-experienced and lower-paid workers.”
  • Toys R Us – Filed for bankruptcy and plans to liquidate its 700 remaining U.S. locations, resulting in the loss of 33,000 American jobs. 
A June 14, 2018 story on Fox Business News warned: “Major Companies Have Announced Layoffs This Month. Here’s a Look.”  

The companies:

  • Hewlett-Packard – cutting 5,000 jobs.
  • McDonalds – Undisclosed.
  • Citigroup – 20,000 jobs.
  • Tesla – 3,600 jobs.

And a June 28 article in The Street announced: “These Companies Have Had Some of the Worst Layoffs in 2018.”  

  • EBay. Inc. – Cutting “cutting a single-digit percentage of jobs.”
  • General Mills – 625 employees. Mid-Continent Nail Corp – firing 60 workers. Deutsche Bank – laying off 10,000 employees. 

Admittedly, some companies have legitimate reasons for cutting back on employees:

  • PepsiCo has suffered a fall-off in customers as Americans switch from soda to healthier drinks. 
  • Sears has struggled for years after the rise of e-commerce and the decline of customer traffic at shopping malls.
  • Macy’s is another company struggling to realign itself in an age of online sales and changing consumer habits.
  • Toys R Us has filed for bankruptcy and will soon be gone.

But there are also sinister reasons why millions of willing-to-work Americans remain unemployed.  Or remain trapped in part-time, no-benefits jobs far below their levels of education and experience. 

Chief among these is the refusal of Congressional Republicans to create job opportunities for their fellow Americans.

LIE CREATORS: PART ONE (OF SEVEN)

In Bureaucracy, Business, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Politics, Social commentary on September 13, 2018 at 12:07 am

Have you noticed how every American employer has suddenly become a “job creator”?

At least, that’s the official Republican line.

But if that’s true:

  • Why are so many employers not hiring at all?
  • Or, if they are hiring, why aren’t they hiring American workers?
  • Why are they hiring mostly part-time employees on a no-benefits basis?
  • Why are so many employers shutting down American plants but starting new ones in China, Mexico or the Philippines?

According to an August, 2018 news release by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor:

  • The unemployment rate stood at 3.9 percent in August, 2018, and the number of unemployed persons stood at 6.2 million.
  • The unemployment rates stood at the following for:
  • Adult men: (3.5 percent)
  • Adult women (3.6 percent)
  • Teenagers (12.8 percent
  • Whites (3.4 percent
  • Blacks (6.3 percent)
  • Asians (3.0 percent)
  • Hispanics (4.7 percent)
  • The number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or more) was little changed in August at 1.3 million and accounted for 21.5 percent of the unemployed. Over the year, the number of long-term unemployed has declined by 403,000.

  • The number of persons employed part time for economic reasons (sometimes referred to as involuntary part-time workers), at 4.4 million.
  • Among the marginally attached, there were 1.4 million discouraged workers. These individuals were not in the labor force, wanted and were available for work, and had looked for a job sometime in the prior 12 months. 
  • Among the marginally attached, there were 434,000 discouraged workers in August, essentially unchanged from a year earlier. Discouraged workers are persons not currently looking for work because they believe no jobs are available for them. 

At the same time, U.S. corporations sit on at least $2 trillion in cash.

Besides lying beyond the reach of the IRS, those monies could be used to hire those millions of qualified, willing-to-work Americans who can’t find fulltime, permanent employment.

An article in the March, 2011 issue of Reader’s Digest gives the lie to the excuses so many employers use for refusing to hire.

Entitled “22 Secrets HR Won’t Tell You About Getting a Job,” it lays bare many of the reasons why America needs to legally force employers to demonstrate as much responsibility for hiring as job-seekers are expected to show toward searching for work.

Among the truths it reveals:

TRUTH NO: 1: After you’re unemployed more than six months, employers consider you  unemployable.

TRUTH NO. 2:  It’s not what but who you know that counts.

TRUTH NO. 3: Try to avoid HR.  Find someone in the company you know. If you don’t know anyone, contact the hiring manager.

TRUTH NO. 4: Cover letters are often ignored, going directly into “the round file.”

TRUTH NO. 5: Employers judge you on the basis of your email address.  Avoid the type that reads: “Igetdrunkand party.”

TRUTH NO. 6: You’re not protected against age discrimination.  Many employers regularly ignore the law. Are you in your 50s or 60s?  Leave your year of graduation off your resume.

TRUTH NO: 7: Just because it’s illegal to discriminate against applicants who have children does not mean you’re safe.  Many employers try to screen out parents–such as by checking cars for child safety seats.

TRUTH NO. 8: It’s harder to get a job if you’re fat, since fat people are usually assumed to be lazy.

TRUTH NO. 9: Make sure you give the interviewer a firm handshake.  Or he might assume you’re a loser for giving him a weak one.

TRUTH NO. 10: The more you can get the interviewer to talk–especially about himself–the more likely you are to be hired. Ego-driven interviewers love hearing the sound of their own voices and will assume you’re better-qualified than someone who doesn’t want to listen to them prattle.

Millions of Americans blamed President Barack Obama for the nation’s high unemployment rate during his administration. And millions more believe that President Donald Trump has created an economic miracle—despite those millions of Americans still desperately searching for work.

The brutal truth is that no President can hope to turn unemployment around until employers are forced to start living up to their responsibilities.

And those responsibilities should encompass more than simply fattening their own pocketbooks and/or egos at the expense of their fellow Americans.  Such behavior used to be called treason.

Americans need to recognize that a country can be betrayed for other than political reasons. It can be sold out for economic ones, too.

Trea$on

Employers who enrich themselves by weakening their country—by throwing millions of qualified workers into the street and moving their plants to other countries—are traitors.

Employers who set up offshore accounts to claim their American companies are foreign-owned—and thus exempt from taxes—are traitors.

Employers who systematically violate Federal immigration laws—to hire illegal aliens instead of willing-to-work Americans—are traitors.

And with a new definition of treason should go new penalties—heavy fines and/or prison terms–for those who sell out their country to enrich themselves.  

“IT IS NOT I WHO ATE THE LAMB,” SAID THE WOLF

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Politics, Social commentary on September 5, 2018 at 12:03 am

“This November 6 election is very much a referendum on not only me,” President Donald J. Trump told Right-wing Christian leaders at the State Dining Room of the White House.

“There is violence,” Trump said on August 27. “When you look at Antifa—these are violent people. You have tremendous power. You were saying, in this room, you have people who preach to almost 200 million people. Depending on which Sunday we’re talking about.”

Antifa is short for “Anti-Fascist.” It’s an amalgam of anti-Fascist groups which counter-protest white supremacists and neo-Nazis. 

Republicans and Right-wing organizations have long dredged up bogeymen to frighten voters—and convince them that only Republicans can be trusted to protect them.

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Donald Trump

Yet it is Trump who, during the 2016 Presidential campaign, threatened his opponents—Republican and Democrat—with violence if he didn’t get his way.

  • On March 16, 2016, he warned Republicans that if he didn’t win the GOP nomination in July, his supporters would literally riot: “I think you’d have riots. I think you would see problems like you’ve never seen before. I think bad things would happen. I really do. I wouldn’t lead it, but I think bad things would happen.”
  • An NBC reporter summed it up as: “The message to Republicans was clear on [March 16]: ‘Nice convention you got there, shame if something happened to it.'”
  • That Republicans clearly saw this as a threat is undeniable. Paul Ryan, their Speaker of the House, said on March 17: “Nobody should say such things in my opinion because to even address or hint to violence is unacceptable.”
  • And Ohio governor and Republican presidential candidate John Kasich chinned in. “Leaders don’t imply violence,” Kasich told “Face the Nation” on March 20. “When he says that there could be riots, that’s inappropriate. I think you understand that, okay? Secondly, while we have our differences and disagreements, we’re Americans. Americans don’t say, ‘Let’s take to the streets and have violence.'”
  • Philip Klein, the managing editor of the Washington Examiner,  wrote on the eve of the Republican National Convention in July: “Political commentators now routinely talk about the riots that would break out in Cleveland if Trump were denied the nomination, about how his supporters have guns and all hell could break loose, that they would burn everything to the ground. It works to Trump’s advantage to not try too hard to dispel these notions.”
  • On August 9, Trump told a rally in Wilmington, North Carolina: “Hillary [Clinton] wants to abolish, essentially abolish, the Second Amendment. If she gets to pick her [Supreme Court] judges, nothing you can do folks. Although the Second Amendment people, maybe there is, I don’t know.”
  • “Don’t treat this as a political misstep,” Senator Christopher S. Murphy of Connecticut, who has called for stiffer gun laws, wrote on Twitter. “It’s an assassination threat, seriously upping the possibility of a national tragedy & crisis.”
  • “Well, let me say if someone else said that outside of the hall, he’d be in the back of a police wagon now, with the Secret Service questioning him,” said Michael Hayden, former head of the CIA and National Security Agency (NSA). 

Threats of this type continued to be made by Trump supporters right up to the day of the election.

  • On July 29, 2016, Roger Stone, a notorious Right-wing political consultant acting as a Trump strategist, told Breitbart News: “The first thing Trump needs to do is begin talking about [voter fraud] constantly. If there’s voter fraud, this election will be illegitimate, the election of the winner will be illegitimate, we will have a constitutional crisis, widespread civil disobedience, and the government will no longer be the government.”
  • In Cincinnati, a Trump supporter threatened to forcibly remove Clinton from the White House if she won the race: “If she’s in office, I hope we can start a coup. She should be in prison or shot. That’s how I feel about it,” Dan Bowman, a 50-year-old contractor, said of Hillary Clinton, the Democratic nominee. “We’re going to have a revolution and take them out of office if that’s what it takes. There’s going to be a lot of bloodshed. But that’s what it’s going to take….I would do whatever I can for my country.”

“That’s really scary,” said Fergus Cullen, former chairman of the New Hampshire GOP. recounting the violence at Trump rallies around the country leading up to the Republican National Convention. “There’s no telling what his supporters would be willing to do at the slightest encouragement from their candidate,” he said.

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Fergus Cullen

Trump even began encouraging his supporters to act as poll watchers in “other” [non-white] communities to ensure that things are “on the up and up.”

Many of his supporters promised to do so.

“Trump said to watch your precincts. I’m going to go, for sure,” said Steve Webb, a 61-year-old carpenter from Fairfield, Ohio. 

“I’ll look for…well, it’s called racial profiling. Mexicans. Syrians. People who can’t speak American. I’m going to go right up behind them. I’ll do everything legally. I want to see if they are accountable. I’m not going to do anything illegal. I’m going to make them a little bit nervous.” 

So when Trump warns about violence, look for it—from Republicans.

LUSTING FOR POWER: EVANGELICALS AND REPUBLICANS

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Politics, Social commentary on September 3, 2018 at 12:10 am

Republicans and Christian Rightists have something in common: Fear of losing their power to dominate the lives of their fellow Americans. 

The most recent proof of this came on August 27, when President Donald J. Trump met with Right-wing Christian leaders at the State Dining Room of the White House.

“This November 6 election is very much a referendum on not only me,” said Trump. “It’s a referendum on your religion, it’s a referendum on free speech and the First Amendment. It’s a referendum on so much.

“It’s not a question of like or dislike, it’s a question that they will overturn everything that we’ve done and they will do it quickly and violently. And violently.

“There is violence. When you look at Antifa—these are violent people. You have tremendous power. You were saying, in this room, you have people who preach to almost 200 million people. Depending on which Sunday we’re talking about.”

Donald Trump

Antifa is actually short for “Anti-Fascist.” It’s an amalgam of anti-Fascist groups which counter-protest white supremacists and neo-Nazis.

Republicans and Right-wing organizations have long dredged up bogeymen to frighten voters—and convince them that only Republicans can be trusted to protect them.

Antifa has emerged as the most recent of these bogeymen.

“You have to hopefully get out and get people to support us,” Trump told the evangelicals. “If you don’t, that will be the beginning of ending everything that you’ve gotten.”

Evangelicals have solidly supported Trump—despite:

  • His being twice divorced;
  • His multiple affairs (including one with porn star Stormy Daniels);
  • His documented ties to Russian oligarchs and Mafia chieftains;
  • His viciousness, greed, lying and egomania.

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Donald Trump and Jerry Falwell, Jr., at Liberty University

Yet evangelicals blasted President Bill Clinton for his extramarital dalliance with Monica Lewinsky. And they greedily accepted the fiction that President Barack Obama was a Muslim born in Kenya, even though his birth certificate says Hawaii and he has always attended a Christian church. 

So why do evangelicals fervently support Trump?

First, they see their influence eroding.

“Prior to 2008, white evangelical Protestants seemed to be exempt from the waves of demographic change and disaffiliation that were eroding the membership bases of white mainline Protestants and white Catholics,” said Robert P. Jones, CEO of Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) and author of “The End of White Christian America.”

“We now see that these waves simply crested later for white evangelical Protestants.”

According to a study by PRRI:

  • White Christians comprised 81% of the population in 1976. Today only 43% of Americans identify as white Christians, and 30% as white Protestants.
  • White Christians are aging. About 1 in 10 white Catholics, evangelicals and mainline Protestants are under 30, compared with one-third of all Hindus and Buddhists.
  • Muslims and Mormons are the youngest faith groups in America. Forty-two percent of all Muslims are under 30.  So are nearly one-fourth of all Mormons.

“The young are much less likely to believe this is a ‘Christian nation’ or to give preference to Christian identity,” said Jones. “Young people and seniors are basically inhabiting different religious worlds.”  

And Trump plays into that sense of victimhood:  

“You’re one election away from losing everything that you’ve gotten,” Trump said during his meeting with evangelicals. “Little thing: Merry Christmas, right? You couldn’t say ‘Merry Christmas.'”

Evangelicals lust to control the lives of those they have long hated and despised.  

Among these:

  • Atheists
  • Jews
  • Women
  • Homosexuals
  • Lesbians
  • Non-Christians
  • Liberals

They expect Trump to sponsor legislation that will—by force of law—make their brand of Christianity supreme above all other religions. And this will give them the status of the Official Religion of the United States.

Such legislation as The Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

This was signed into law on March 26, 2015, by Mike Pence, then Governor of Indiana.

This allows any individual or corporation to cite its religious beliefs as a defense when sued by a private party.

Officially, its intent is to prevent the government from forcing business owners to violate their religious beliefs.

Unofficially, its intent is to appease the hatred of gays and lesbians by the religious Right, a key constituency of the Republican party.

Thus, a bakery that doesn’t want to make a cake for a gay wedding or a restaurant that doesn’t want to serve lesbian patrons now has the legal right to refuse to do so.

And a hospital can legally turn away a gay patient if it wants to.

The bill passed overwhelmingly by both chambers of the Republican-controlled state legislature. And was signed into law by the governor who is now Vice President.

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Indiana Governor Mike Pence 

Both the leaders of the Republican party and those of evangelical congregations agree:

  • Women should have fewer rights than men.
  • Abortion should be illegal.
  • There should be no separation between church and state.
  • Religion should be taught in school.
  • Religious doctrine trumps science.
  • Government should be based on religious doctrine.
  • Homosexuality should be outlawed.

Evangelicals fear they are swiftly losing their once privileged place among American religious groups.

And Republicans fear they might lose control of the House of Representatives, the Senate and, ultimately, the White House to a “blue wave” this fall.

MERCENARIES: “PATRIOTISM” FOR PROFIT

In Bureaucracy, Business, History, Military, Politics, Social commentary on August 27, 2018 at 12:07 am

The United States has been fighting in Afghanistan for almost 17 years—with no end in sight. 

Between 2001 and 2017, America spent an estimated $714 billion on this conflict.

Now Blackwater founder Erik Prince claims he can attain a victory that has eluded the United States Air Force, Army (including Green Berets) and Navy SEALs.  

His proposed solution: His private army of mercenaries—and $3.5 billion in taxpayer monies. 

Erik Prince.jpg

Erik Prince

By Miller Center [CC BY 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

In 1997, Prince created Blackwater, a private security company providing support to military and police agencies.

In August, 2003, Blackwater got the first of a series of Federal contracts to deploy its forces in Iraq. For $21 million, it would safeguard Paul Bremer, the proconsul running the American occupation in Iraq. 

Ultimately, Blackwater got $1 billion to provide security for American officials and soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan. 

According to human rights organizations, Blackwater abused Iraqis and engaged in torture to obtain information.

In September, 2007, Blackwater guards killed 17 Iraqi civilians and injured 20 more in a Baghdad traffic circle.

Five guards were charged with murder. Three were convicted in October, 2014, of 14 manslaughter charges and in April 2015 sentenced to 30 years in prison. These sentences were deemed unfair upon appeal and await re-sentencing. 

As a result of its highly controversial activities in Iraq, Prince renamed the company Xe Services in 2009 and then Academi in 2011.

Now, against opposition by the Pentagon, Prince is pressing Trump to let Academi privatize the war in Afghanistan. 

Since the end of the Cold War, the American military and Intelligence communities have grown increasingly dependent on private contractors.

In his 2007 bestseller, Legacy of Ashes: The History of the CIA, Tim Weiner writes:

“Patriotism for profit became a $50-billion-a-year business….The [CIA] began contracting out thousands of jobs to fill the perceived void by the budget cuts that began in 1992. 

“A CIA officer could file his retirement papers, turn in his blue identification badge, go to work for a much better salary at a military contractor such as Lockheed Martin or Booz Allen Hamilton, then return to the CIA the next day, wearing a green badge….” 

Seal of the Central Intelligence Agency.svg

Much of the CIA became totally dependent on mercenaries. They appeared to work for the agency, but their loyalty was actually to their private–and higher-paying—companies.

Writes Weiner: “Legions of CIA veterans quit their posts to sell their services to the agency by writing analyses, creating cover for overseas officers, setting up communications networks, and running clandestine operations.”

One such company was Total Intelligence Solutions, founded in 2007 by Cofer Black, who had been the chief of the CIA’s counter-terrorism center on 9/11. His partners were Robert Richer, formerly the associate deputy director of operations at the CIA, and Enrique Prado, who had been Black’s chief of counter-terror operations at the agency.

Future CIA hires followed suit: Serve for five years, win that prized CIA “credential” and sign up with a private security company to enrich themselves.  

This situation met with full support from Right-wing “pro-business” members of Congress and President George W. Bush.

They had long championed the private sector as inherently superior to the public one. And they saw no danger that a man dedicated to enriching himself might put greed ahead of safeguarding his country.

But there are dangers to hiring men whose first love is profit. Recent examples include:

  • Edward Snowden deliberately joined Booz Allen Hamilton to secure a job as a computer systems administrator at the National Security Agency (NSA). This gave him access to thousands of highly classified documents—which, in 2013, he began publicly leaking to a wide range of news organizations. 
  • His motive, he has claimed, was to warn Americans of the privacy-invading dangers posed by their own Intelligence agencies.
  • On March 7, 2017, WikiLeaks published a “data dump” of 8,761 documents codenamed “Vault 7.”
  • The documents exposed that the CIA had found security flaws in software operating systems such as Microsoft Windows, Android and Apple iOS. These allowed an intruder—such as the CIA—to seize control of a computer or smartphone. The owner could then be photographed through his iPhone camera and have his text messages intercepted.
  • According to anonymous U.S. Intelligence and law enforcement sources, the culprits were CIA contract employees. 

But there are those who have offered a timely warning against the use of mercenaries. One of these is Niccolo Machiavelli, the Florentine statesman of the Renaissance. 

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Niccolo Machiavelli

In The Prince, Machiavelli writes:

“Mercenaries…are useless and dangerous. And if a prince holds on to his state by means of mercenary armies, he will never be stable or secure. For they are disunited, ambitious, without discipline, disloyal. They are brave among friends; among enemies they are cowards.

“They have neither the fear of God nor fidelity to man, and destruction is deferred only as the attack is. For in peace one is robbed by them, and in war by the enemy. 

“The cause of this is that they have no love or other motive to keep them in the field beyond a trifling wage, which is not enough to make them ready to die for you.”

Centuries after Machiavelli’s warning, Americans are realizing the bitter truth of it firsthand.

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