Saturday, March 26, 2011

The Right-Wing is Demonizing.. Well... Everybody!

(Continued from The Right-Wing Thinks You Are No Good!)


Other groups of lucky people that the Right-Wing Doesn't Like:


5.  College teachers everywhere, both public and private.  They are usually liberal, many of them are public employees, and they are teachers... all teachers are useless and overpaid for what they do, according to many conservatives.  Unless they are on the faculty of some institution like Liberty University.


Most conservatives and right-wingers seem to feel that any trained monkey can teach!  If a trained monkey really can't be found, then they would suggest outsourcing the teacher and replacing him/her with someone teaching via the Internet from India.  

Chinese Suicide iPod Sweatshops

"Steel wire meshes have been fitted to windows at Foxconn's factory to stop workers jumping after a rash of suicides believed to be due to harsh management practices."


Just look at the picture... then look down at your iPhone or your iPod.  Unless you are completely heartless, you will never be able to see your iProduct in the same way again.  

This article came out last June but I don't remember reading it back then.  

Come on, people, why aren't we in the streets hundreds and thousands strong protesting this and other issues pertaining to working conditions around the world?  These people in China can't do much about the conditions in which they work!


Also from the article:



After details of the Chinese suicides leaked out, and Jobs promised he was 'all over it', his Chinese partner announced that his workers would receive a generous-sounding 30 per cent pay rise, raising the basic wage from £90 to £120 a month.
Yet human rights groups denounced this as a public relations sham, saying that the legal minimum wage was being raised by the Chinese authorities in any case.
Lu Bing Dong, 22, helps produce 21,000 iPhones daily in his workshop alone. 'The pay rise is actually stopping us making more money because now they are strictly controlling overtime,' he says.
'Foxconn are very smart - they say it's a pay rise, but we actually earn less. It's meaningless. They will increase the daily quotas [of products made] to make up for lost time.'
As we left the sprawling Foxconn complex, workers were putting cages on one dormitory block with balconies - yet another measure to keep workers from killing themselves.
'It looks even more like a prison now,' said a weary Lu, 27, returning from a 15-hour shift.
Read more:  The Daily Mail: Inside Chinese suicide sweatshops

*************************************************************************
More on the mistreatment of Chinese workers for American enterprises:
Oakland Bay Bridge Being Built by Chinese paid $12/day *************************************************************************
_______________________

Updated April 16, 2011

Minyanville's Justin Rohrlich reported on Foxconn and its iPod makers.  

There appear to be many reasons for the rash of suicides, but you can't miss the nets that Foxconn installed to catch jumpers:  (This picture from the bottom of that link.)



Some thoughts from Chinese experts who have considered the problem:

Zhang Chun, the director of a suicide prevention program in Nanjing, said:
Since the opening up, the rapid social changes and the clash between modern and traditional values have made many people lose their mental balance.”

And Pun Ngai, an associate professor of sociology at Hong Kong's Polytechnic University, said,
The development of China as a world factory is a fundamental reason causing these suicidal cases.”
To me, the biggest problem wasn't the suicides, which may or may not be at a higher rate than suicides elsewhere; it was the working conditions.  People who focus on the suicides miss the big picture of millions of people working long hours in extremely crowded dormitories so that we can have cheap iPhones.

And it appears that the wages in China may be getting too high due to wage inflation!  So.....


It appears that they now are paying the Chinese urban factory workers over 2 bucks, so it is time to move on.  Got to keep those profit margins high to be competitive, of course!  

Updated July 29, 2011


Links about related developments to the Chinese iPod workers for Foxconn:


Chinese iPhone factory Foxconn holds creepy anti-suicide rally


Is Apple's suicide factory outsourcing to even cheaper Chinese peasants?


Foxconn forces employees to sign "No Suicide" pact



Updated October 6, 2011


Steve Jobs, one of the founders and the guiding light of Apple died yesterday at age 56.  He is being hailed as a visionary, and, of course, he was.  


It is always sad that someone with such genius and such strong personal traits died at such a young age and after such a long illness.  My deepest sympathies to his family and friends.


I wish that Steve Jobs had lived longer.  Perhaps he could have been a visionary in another way.  Perhaps he could have actually taken some responsibility for the working conditions of the people who have helped to make him fabulously wealthy and demanded that people who produce iProducts, no matter where they live, worked in humane conditions making a decent wage.   He could have gone in front of the world and told people, "Look, I have more money than I could spend in two lifetimes or three.  I can no longer tolerate people making me rich while they toil for 12 or more hours a day under extreme quotas for low wages.  I won't accept that any more.  We're going to have to raise the prices of our iPads, and I'm going to take a hit in my personal holdings, but I owe more to the world than just some new, shiny electronic products."


Well, I can dream.  Meanwhile, the Foxconn workers will continue in their dorms, hot bunking in small dorm rooms, for a few bucks a day.


Peace to you, Steve, who gave us so much.


I wrote more about Steve Jobs and the Foxconn workers here.


Updated February 15, 2012


Foxconn and Apple are in the news again.  Here are a few more links:

Apple and Workers' Rights



Campaign for an ethical iPhone


More February Updates


Foxconn Raises Salaries to a Pittance


Following Progressive Pressure, Foxconn Increases Wages for its Employees


Updated October 1, 2012
Foxconn Riots Could Lead to a Revival of Middle Class Manufacturing Jobs?

The Right-wing Thinks You Are No Good!

The Right-Wing is Busy Demonizing...  well.. almost everybody!


Right-wingers, conservatives, teabaggers, Republicans, Libertarians:  I'm not sure where one group ends and the next begins, but they seem to have quite a bit in common:  There are very few of us in the United States these days that they like or respect.... except others like themselves.


I thought of this last night after reading some replies at Huffington Post and coming across a few right-wing, conservative blogs while looking for information.  I began to put together a list of all of the groups that these people harshly criticize.  It's really extensive:

Thursday, March 24, 2011

The WPA Today!

Welcome to WPA Today! 

Brent McKee and Ozien Luznar are announcing their new website and project, The WPA Today.  

As they describe on their site, this project has a three-fold mission: First, to help preserve the history of public works projects from the 1930s and 40s. Second, to provide assistance to the unemployed. And third, to propose the possibility of a nationwide public works program for today's long-term unemployed population.

Going Backwards: Just Let Us Keep the 99 Weeks!

A few months ago, the biggest fight for the long-term unemployed was focused on attempts to get more than 99 weeks of unemployment compensation during this miserable "Jobless Recovery".  


Getting the 99 weeks reauthorized was daunting throughout all of 2010, with several gaps in coverage while the Democratic-led Congress tried to hammer out agreements with the Republicans.  Finally, however, a bill was passed guaranteeing 99 weeks of coverage through the calendar year of 2011. 


And now things have switched gears and we are going backwards.



The Texas Miracle and Illinois Corruption

A local Illinois politician is relocating to Texas. 


A local Illinois man from a tony north shore suburb, a former Republican politician, made the local news and the round of the right-wing blogs when he and his wife decided to pull out of "corrupt" Illinois and move to Texas.  


http://www.wilmettebeacon.com/Articles-c-2011-03-18-218533.114133-Political-couple-leaves-legacy-in-Wilmette.html


In the Beacon article, the couple discussed why they were leaving:



Monday, March 21, 2011

No Soup for You: The Homeless and a Civilized Society

Continuing from No Soup For You, Part 1


I have some thoughts on the meaning of a "civilized society" resulting from discussions about the Johann Hari article at Huffington Post, The Conservative Assault on the Homeless:


I see at least two issues here:


First, what are our goals as a civilized society? How many in our country (or in  the UK) think that it is "civilized" to leave the homeless to fend for themselves and/or starve under a bridge? How many think they should be helped in some way? 


Do the poor and the homeless deserve their fate?



The Assault on the Homeless: No Soup for You!

Johann Hari, writing in the Huffington Post, describes the plight of a homeless man in the UK:


"The day after his wife's funeral, Steven Dent walked out of his house, "and I just kept walking," he says. "I walked and walked. I never stopped. I couldn't stand to look back, or to stop moving, ever again." Now, four years later, he sleeps most nights under a

Friday, March 18, 2011

Those Mean Old Unions!

From "Rashnak" at Huffington Post:
If private sector jobs go union and demand increased pay the company will simply move to another state, or another country."
I couldn't leave that comment unanswered, so I replied to Rashnak:

Why Is It? Questions for the Right Wing

"Why is it that the same people who despise organized labor are the ones who can't spell and exhibit poor syntax in their posts?

Why are they the ones who rationaliz­ed torture when that was the topic du jour?

Why are they the ones who see no purpose to a government agency that would protect consumers - or the environmen­t?

Why are they the ones whose homes and investment­s lost significan­t value - but oppose regulation of the financial sector?

Why are they the ones who obsess about the deficit now - but it never crossed their minds before Obama was sworn in?

Why are they the ones who go ballistic when a poor person gets food or services from the government - but could care less when some big political "contribut­or" gets a no-bid contract?

Why is it they have no concern about record income disparity - but think teachers are paid too much?
Why is that?"


Thanks to 3dtrix at Huffington Post

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Carter? Job Growth?

The much-maligned Jimmy Carter had one of the highest monthly job growth records, according to blogger Dave Manuel :

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The Rich Deserve What They Have. They Earned It.



Have the rich deserved what they have earned?
  
You've probably heard some variation of the above.  Some statements and my answers derived from conversations with conservatives and other right-wingers: 


If it wasn't for that person starting a business for us to work at, we wouldn't have anything.  


Molly:  First of all, let me make it clear that I am a capitalist through and through.  I firmly believe that people who start businesses 
and provide a quality product or service are the backbone of our country.  

If You Care About "Family Values", Support the Unions!

From a discussion of single-earner families at Huffington Post


"There was a time when people could raise their children on one salary, and do a good job of it.

That was the time when unions were strong. 

I talk about it here (How I learned to love the unions)   .

Now, the same people who espouse "family values" are usually the same people who pillory the unions. 



Interesting, isn't it?  The best things for "family values" in the past 60 years were the same unions that the "family values" crowd usually despises.

Evil Liberalism

Yes, it's all about EVIL LIBERALISM­.


It is liberalism that has improved the lot of everyone in this society. Food safety...l­iberals. Public education.­..liberals­. What financial regulation there WAS...libe­rals. Social Security..­.liberals. Medicare..­.liberals. FEMA...lib­erals. Worker Safety...l­iberals. You are free to opt out of all of it. But, who knows? You might need some liberal help down the line. The 2012 elections will not solve your problems.


A comment from one of my friends at Huffington Post... lest we forget.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Millionaires and Suckers

Heard around the Internet recently:


"There are two kinds of Republicans:  Millionaires and suckers."


Makes sense.. Why else would anyone vote against their own self-interest?


Thanks, signgrrl!

Gloomy about Retirement? Get GOP-out!


"Gloomy about retirement­, listless, no energy, right wing corrupt governors got ya down? Use GOP-out, the proven formula to get even the most stubborn tea stains and Koch can rings out of your life! Seriously vote the GOP/teapup­pets out of office, expose their corrupt business masters (Murdoch, Koch, etc) and restore the laws that protect us from these predators (Glass-Ste­agall, Sherman Anti trust etc). But YOU have to do it! Get them out and save our Country, do it and don't stop!"
Great comment on this thread article about workers being fearful of retirement at Huffington Post:

GOP-out.. It's cheap:  Just say no to the GOP!

Alternate unemployment Rate is 18.6%

Some figures about the February's unemployment rate:


How many who don't have jobs would be working? How many aren't working by choice?"

The following are unadjusted numbers for February 2011: 


  • There are 100,758,00­0 in the civilian noninstitu­tional population (over age 16) who aren't working. Of these people, 14,542,000 are unemployed and actively looking (in the last four weeks). There are in addition 6,405,000 who are unemployed and want work but haven't looked in the last four weeks for some reason. 

  • That's a grand total of 20,947,000 unemployed people who want to work. leaving 79,811,000 who aren't working because they don't want to work. This would include people taking care of their kids, retirees, trust fund babies, students, etc.

  • Additional­ly, there are 8,633,000 people who are working part-time jobs but want to work full-time jobs. Therefore the total of unemployed and underemplo­yed is now 29,580,000­. 

That's 29,580,000 out of a population out of a potential civilian labor force of 159,040,00­0, or 18.6% unofficial employment rate.



(The potential civilian labor force includes those who are working, whether full or part time, (138,093,000) and those who are unemployed, either officially unemployed (14,542,000) or who "want work" (6,405,000) for a grand total of 159,040,000.)

We haven't included people who are working temporary jobs but want permanent jobs, people who have taken big cuts in pay and benefits in their new jobs, and small business owners who are working micro-busi­nesses earning a few hundreds a month.



To add a bit of perspective, in mid-February, only 9,236,000 were receiving any kind of unemployment benefits.  That means that less than 64% of the "official" unemployed are receiving benefits, and less than 44% of the "alternate" unemployed are receiving benefits.  


That should put to bed the right-wing talking point that extended unemployment benefits are keeping people from working.  Over half of the people who are unemployed and "want work" aren't getting a dime in benefits!  

Monday, March 14, 2011

Wisconsin and the Middle Class

"Walker may have found the great straw breaking the back of middle class apathy.  By attacking unions, Walker also attacked the middle class and the middle class of America is reacting.  The middle class of America is reacting to the death panels of Jan Brewer as well and let's not forget the arrogance of Florida's Republican governor refusing jobs paid for from the national treasury. Let's not 

Another great comment at Wisconsin protesters Refuse to Quit at Huffington Post ; this one from Cacey.

"Wisconsin Protesters Refuse to Quit" Comment

"Go Wisconsin!­!!

You have the support of people all over the western world, who are facing — or are about to face — the same situation that you’re facing now. We’re not just rooting for you; we ARE you.

All over the western world, arithmetic­ally oblivious prostitici­ans are trying to steal social stability from the middle class in order to service the incessant greed of the obscenely wealthy.

It is impossible to placate infinite greed, using a finite source of wealth, and it is socially catastroph­ic to try. You don’t need to be a math whiz to understand that; it barely requires an understand­ing of basic arithmetic­.

They will happily destroy western civilizati­on. They won’t even slow the attack, let alone stop it, unless the people stand up, and force them, and it’s all starting with you.

You are that glimmer of hope for America — that spark of life — the beginning.

This Canadian couldn’t be more proud of her neighbours to the south.

WITH WISCONSIN 100% HEART & SOUL."

Posted by My Name is Too Common at Huffington Post: Wisconsin Protesters Refuse to Quit


Great comment!  

Sunday, March 13, 2011

How Dare Those Union Workers!

An article, entitled "Labor Unions Admit they are Killing American Jobs", written in 2006, was quoted by a conservative poster at Huffington Post.  Unfortunately, the link to this article doesn't work, but the article reads in part:

From the article:  


"One must admit that members of industrial unions have made out rather well, able to afford nice homes, automobile­s, vacations, and college educations for their children."

Yes, unions truly are evil, aren't they?  How dare people who aren't of wealthy birth, who don't have college degrees, actually think they should have a nice home, automobile­s, vacations, and college educations for their children! How dare they! How could anyone think they actually deserve a middle class existence?

Those people should be working on those assembly lines for $1/hr!!.. or less... Who do these workers think they are? Their children, instead of going to college, should be working on the assembly lines along with their working class parents, at the age of 6 or 7!

(Of course, the above is tongue-in-­cheek.) 

Interestin­g that the people at "Intellect­ual Conservati­ve" never think to examine the increasing gap between the salaries of senior corporate executives and the average worker when talking about the lack of competitiv­eness of U.S. manufactur­ers... Somehow it's the worker's fault, not the executives­. 

(More tongue in cheek) Well, we know the executives deserve mansions, several vacation homes, a garage full of classic collector cars, and their kids should have fancy sports cars the day they turn 16. The executives deserve that... they work hard! Those ungrateful workers... Let's get rid of those unions and send those workers back to the tenements and slums where they belong.



Related articles:


 How I learned to love the unions 


and Chinese workers making iPods:


Friday, March 4, 2011

February Unemployment: Good news?

I just pulled up the new employment situation report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.


It shows that the unemployment rate dropped to 8.9% and the country's emloyers added 192,000 private jobs in February 2011.


Should we start celebrating the drop in unemployment yet?


As someone looking for full-time work, I should be relieved to see these numbers, but there is a dark side as well.  First of all, I haven't yet looked at the "real" numbers; the numbers of people who have dropped out of the work force, the numbers who are working part-time.  And I haven't checked out the long-term unemployment rates:  Are those people, the people laid off in the first months of the recession; the older people, ever going to be hired?


*********************************************************


The Meaning of Adjusted and Unadjusted Unemployment rates:


The Meaning of Seasonally Adjusted vs. Unadjusted Unemployment rates:


Read How the unemployment rate is calculated .  About halfway through the article there is a paragraph entitled "This Seasonal Adjustment Stuff is Hogwash."  It should explain it.


********************************************************* 


Good news:  Labor participation rate has finally flattened.  It had been decreasing every month; this month it is even with last month, at 64.2%.


Good news:  The numbers of people who are considered "long-term unemployed" has gone down