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Posts Tagged ‘USA TODAY NICCOLO MACHIAVELLI’

THE EYE VERSUS THE HAND IN “TAKING A KNEE”

In Business, Entertainment, History, Law Enforcement, Military, Politics, Social commentary, Uncategorized on June 11, 2018 at 12:05 am

To understand the ongoing war between President Donald Trump and the National Football League, you need to first read a crucial passage in Niccolo Machiavelli’s classic work, The Prince

“…For men in general judge more by the eyes than by the hands, for every one can see, but very few have to feel.  Everyone sees what you appear to be, few feel what you are….”

What is taking place is a symbolic war—with football players literally “taking a knee” on one side and with Trump and his Republican minions symbolically waving the Stars and Stripes on the other.

For players, “taking a knee” during the playing of the National Anthem before the start of a football game means protesting against racial injustice and police brutality aimed at blacks.   

For the Right, refusing to stand for “The Star Spangled Banner” is unpatriotic, perhaps bordering on treason. They claim it’s insulting to the military—and especially those soldiers who have died in America’s wars.

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick first took a knee on August 14, 2016. 

During the 49ers’ first game of the pre-season, Kaepernick sat on the bench during the National Anthem both then and in their next game.  

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Colin Kaepernick

On August 26, he did so again. The next day, he explained his reason for it: “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color. To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”  

The 49ers issued a statement: “We recognise the right of an individual to choose and participate, or not, in our celebration of the National Anthem.” 

On August 29, Trump—still a Presidential candidate—thrust himself into the budding controversy: “I think it’s personally not a good thing. I think it’s a terrible thing. And, you know, maybe he should find a country that works better for him. Let him try. It won’t happen.” 

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Donald Trump

One year later, on August 12, 2017, Oakland Raiders running back Marshawn Lynch sat for the anthem during preseason, on his first game back post-retirement. 

The next day, Seattle Seahawks defensive lineman Michael Bennett sat for the anthem. He gave as his reason the “Unite the Right” rally of white racists in Charlottesville, Virginia. 

On September 17, Trump—now President—told a rally in Alabama that refusing to sing the National Anthem showed “disrespect of our heritage. Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a bitch off the field right now, out, he’s fired.'” 

On September 23, Trump, on Twitter, called for NFL players who “disrespect our great American flag” to be fired. Later on in the day, he called for a boycott of the NFL. 

On September 24, infuriated by Trump’s insults, NFL players across the country linked arms, took a knee, or stayed in the changing room during the National Anthem. Every game featured some form of demonstration.

Washington Redskins Kneeling

By Keith Allison from Hanover, MD, USA (Washington Redskins National Anthem Kneeling) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Since then, the confrontation between players “taking a knee” and Trump and his Right-wing shills has mushroomed. 

Yet these protests have not led one police department to change its “use-of-deadly-force” policies. Blacks are still getting shot by trigger-happy police, often when they’re unarmed and unresisting   

During 2017, there were 987 fatal police shootings; 223 blacks were shot and killed by police (23% of all fatal shootings), and 68 of the victims were unarmed. 

In the wake of the controversy, these shootings have been largely forgotten and it is the kneeling players who are getting the media’s attention

These players’ celebrity could be put to far better use by appearing before legislative committees urging reforms in police “use-of-deadly-force” policies.

Also ignored is that Trump, for all his boasts of patriotism, was a five-deferment draft dodger during the Vietnam war. Four deferments cited academic reasons and the fifth cited bone spurs—which usually result in small pointed outgrowths of bone—in his heels. 

But there is one more factor that overshadows both of these truths:  There is no reason to play “The Star Spangled Banner” at football games—or any other sports event

The song celebrates the bombardment of Fort McHenry by British ships in Baltimore Harbor during the War of 1812. Francis Scott Key, an amateur poet, witnessed the attack and was inspired the next morning when he saw the United States flag still flying triumphantly over the fort. 

Yet there is nothing inherently patriotic about attending any sports game:

  • The country isn’t being threatened.
  • No one is risking anything in its defense.
  • There are no casualties (save those suffered by athletes earning kingly salaries).
  • No one’s life is made any better by watching the game.

And “standing for the National Anthem” is an easy and safe way to present yourself as a patriot. American history is filled with men who “wrapped themselves in the flag” only to betray the Constitutional liberties of their fellow citizens.

This conflict of symbols arouses tempers, but otherwise achieves nothing.

REIGNING IN CORPORATE TYRANTS

In Bureaucracy, Business, History, Politics, Social commentary on January 3, 2018 at 2:38 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.”

Niccolo Machiavelli knew what he was writing about.

And now, California legislators have wisely—if belatedly—acted on that warning by reigning in the vicious nature of corporate employers.

As of January 1, it is now illegal for California employers to ask job applicants about their former salaries and benefits.

Governor Jerry Brown signed a new state privacy bill into law during the last week of December, 2017.

This is good news for applicants who believe they shouldn’t be judged on how much—or little—money they earned in the past.

The truth is that, for decades, employers have used “salary histories” to discriminate against applicants who earned large—or small—salaries in their previous jobs.

For example: If an applicant had been paid a miserly wage even though he had performed major tasks for an employer, the new potential one would use that low salary as a weapon against him: “Well, it says here you earned $—– in your most recent job.  Why should we pay you more than that?”

And if an applicant had earned a high salary, an employer would often use that against him: “We can’t afford to match that, let alone give you more than that.” In many cases, employers simply refused to give a reason for refusing to hire the applicant.

In either case, it was clearly an “I win/You lose” situation.

And, naturally, when employers whined about how expensive it was to pay a living wage to those who made their profits a reality, they never mentioned the exorbitant salary paid to their own CEO.

According to Glassdoor: “Across all companies, the average CEO pay was $13.8 million per year, the average median worker pay was about $77,800, and the average ratio of CEO pay to median worker pay was 204. In other words, on average, CEOs earn around 204 times what his or her median worker earns.”

One job-seeking applicant tried to finesse the salary history demand by filling out the job application form except for the salary history part.  He then attached a cover-letter, which read:

“I am interested in speaking with you or one of your representatives about the above-named position. I have filled out the required application—-with the exception of the box inquiring into my Current/last Income.

“I have in the past responded to ‘Salary History’ inquires and have found these have only one purpose: To elicit the lowest salary received, so that the salary to be offered can be adjusted to that level.

“I have been paid on a per-hour basis, a per-assignment basis, and on a bi-weekly basis. Each of these salaries was for a different job, and each job required a specific set of skills and efforts on my part.

“I am prepared to discuss in detail how my skills and experiences can prove of use to your company. But I do not discuss past salaries earned with anyone but the Internal Revenue Service.

“If you are prepared to hire on the basis of what I can do for your company, and not on the basis of what other employers have paid me in the past for assignments that had nothing to do with your company, please contact me at your earliest convenience.”

As of January 1, 2018, California job-seekers will no longer have to worry about that part of the application.

Supporters of the law believe it will help reduce the notorious wage-gap between male and female employees.

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“Women negotiating a salary shouldn’t have to wrestle an entire history of wage disparity,” said the bill’s principal author, California Assemblywoman Susan Talamantes Eggman.

California’s new law also requires potential employers to disclose a salary range for the job in question, should an applicant ask about it.

This arms job seekers with valuable information because they will now know how much a company is willing to offer for that position.

In the past, employers held that information close to the vest as one more way of gaining control over their potential employee.

Although California has long been a trailblazer in employee/employer relations, it was not the first state to pass such a law. Oregon, Delaware and Massachusetts had already passed laws forbidding employers from asking about salary history.

Many employers and their paid shills believe that President Calvin Coolidge was right when he said: “The man who builds a factory builds a temple; the man who works there worships there.”

Cheryl Behymer, an attorney for the law firm Fisher & Phillips, which represents employers, said: “Here’s another point where the government is dictating to an employer how to conduct its business and employers resent that.”

As do all tyrants forced to relinquish any part of their tyranny.

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