How The War on Workers Is Changing

The War on Workers is going on a 50-state tour. Ever since Ronald Reagan fired 11,000 striking air traffic controllers back on August 5th, 1981, and appointed labor-hostile Raymond Donovan as the first anti-labor Secretary of Labor in our nation's history, there’s been a War on Workers in America. While worker productivity has skyrocketed since Reagan stepped foot inside the White House, wages have remained stagnant.

And the remnants of Reagan's War on Workers have been so successful - even during Democratic administrations - that it’s not just keeping wages flat, it’s even starting to erode them. Since 2000, average worker take-home pay has been on a steady freefall, while pay for executives and CEO’s has soared off the charts. Thus, on the federal level, the War on Workers has been a huge success.

But while the War on Workers has been steadily eating away at the income of working-class Americans, its ultimate goal is to turn America’s activist working middle-class into a dispirited, disheartened, and disempowered working poor-class. To do that, the forces behind the War on Workers have to shift their focus to the state level, and do away with the last remaining state protections for workers.

That’s where the Koch Brothers and other conservative political power players come in. The Koch Brothers’ Americans for Prosperity conservative front group, or AFP, has launched a massive campaign in Detroit, aimed at derailing that city’s proposed bankruptcy settlement.

AFP is contacting nearly 90,000 conservatives in Michigan, ironically most of them working-class people who people like the Kochs refer to as "useful idiots." AFP is urging their army of conservative "useful idiots" to oppose the bankruptcy settlement plan that would use $195 million in state money to help pay back former Detroit city workers the pension benefits that were taken out of their paychecks back in the day, and then stolen by Wall Street banksters in the Great Bush Crash of 2008.

In other words, the Koch Brothers and AFP don’t want the Detroit city employees to have pensions for their retirement - after all, they are "evil government employees." You know, firemen, police, sanitation workers - that sort of thing. And many of them are people of color, which is why trashing largely-black Detroit workers when talking to largely-white northern Michigan "conservative" AFP members isn't even slightly a racist dog-whistle, right?

Geez - "workers" and "Black" - for the conservatives kicking them upside the head is a two-for.

AFP has also threatened to run ads against any Michigan state legislators who vote in favor of the plan. Outside of Michigan, AFP plans to spend at least $125 million to help conservatives across the country win in November’s midterm elections, many of whom are helping to lead the way in the War on Workers.

As Corey Robin points out over at The New York Times, “Midterm elections at the state level can have tremendous consequences, especially for low-wage workers. What you don’t know can hurt you — or them.” Back in the 2010 midterm elections, Republicans took over control of the executive and legislative branches in 11 states.

As soon as they stepped in office, those same Republicans, with a little nudging from groups like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the American Legislative Exchange Council or ALEC, began introducing bill after bill, which ate way at workers’ rights, and gave more power to their employers.

Take Republicans in Wyoming for example. In 2011, they introduced a bill that would have allowed restaurants to force their servers to pool their tips. The tips would then be redistributed among the non-serving staff. In most states, tipped workers are paid an hourly wage that is under the minimum wage, because the thinking is that they’ll make up the rest of the money with tips. Meanwhile, regular staff members are paid the minimum wage.

But, under the Wyoming legislation, by having servers pool their tips, and redistributing those tips to non-serving staff members, you would avoid having to pay non-serving staff members the minimum wage. The result? More poor working people! Basically, Republicans in Wyoming wanted employers to be able to take away money that their employees had rightfully earned.

A year earlier in Florida, Republicans tried to pass legislation that would have prevented any “county, municipality, or political subdivision of the state” from passing laws that were designed to cut down on wage theft. Meanwhile, Indiana, Mississippi, and Florida have all passed laws banning local governments from raising the minimum wage. And the list goes on.

All across America, conservative lawmakers are doing everything in their power to quash working-class Americans, thus destroying the integrity and vitality of our democracy by turning the middle class into the working poor. A functioning democracy requires a strong and functioning middle-class.

And despite what conservatives will try to tell you, unrestrained capitalism is not going to get us there, because unrestrained capitalism always produces a working poor-class, and not a strong middle-class.

To get a middle class, you must combine capitalism with government regulation and safety-net programs. It's really just that simple, and history tells the story over and over again. Instead of following the Kochs like sheep, Michiganders and the rest of us should be working to put back into place the federal and state protections that protected workers for years and thus built America's once-strong middle class.

We need to put back into place laws and policies that balance the powers of employers and employees, and let workers unionize. Only then will we once again have a strong and flourishing American middle class.

Comments

ckrob's picture
ckrob 8 years 19 weeks ago
#1

Here's a question. Libertarians suggest all/most activities should be by contract between consenting parties regardless of the differences in power between the two. Can we think of the relationship between the citizen and a democratically elected government as a meta-contract?

Craig Bush's picture
Craig Bush 8 years 19 weeks ago
#2

Join the national student-teacher movement to divest from the petrol chemical, fossil fuel economy..Demand a 4 day work week at same pay, 3 day alternative shift with a living wage. We must learn to work less, to consume less, to live more. Provide home ownership for single income families that are water and energy efficient. Declare water an inalienable human right and a public common managed to the benefit of all.

There is a demonstration planned at the capitol May 21 to bring awareness to global warming. Organized by our senators. I hope the corporate media shows up? We need a federal jobs program to provide capital for new technology to usher in the green economy.

Kend's picture
Kend 8 years 19 weeks ago
#3

If they give them the 195 million you will open the flood gates to all cities, towns etc. who over spent to follow suit and go bankrupt and cash in on free money so hundreds of millions will soon turn into billions. Be very careful here.

"let workers unionize" isn't that what put them in the trouble they are in? will you ever learn from your mistakes?

We need to put back into place laws and policies that balance the powers of employers and employees, and let workers unionize. Only then will we once again have a strong and flourishing American middle class. - See more at: http://www.thomhartmann.com/blog/2014/05/how-war-workers-changing#comment-form

chuckle8's picture
chuckle8 8 years 19 weeks ago
#4

Kend -- As union membership declined, conditions became worse. Unions are the force that keeps tariffs in place.

DAnneMarc's picture
DAnneMarc 8 years 19 weeks ago
#5
Quote ckrob:Can we think of the relationship between the citizen and a democratically elected government as a meta-contract?

ckrob ~ I'm not so sure I understand your term "meta-contract." If one were to replace that with "conditional contract, " I certainly would agree.

2950-10K's picture
2950-10K 8 years 19 weeks ago
#6

Kend, I've heard of selective hearing, but you seem to be doing it with reading. The fact about the pension fund being stolen by the Wall Street Banksters during the Great Bush Crash of 2008 seems to have escaped your reading comprehension. In other words, the cities didn't simply overspend. That pension money was taken out of workers paychecks before it was stolen by guys with the same criminal bent as Mitt Romney.

The wealthy few are determined to have it all...it's time the working many get even more determined to take back what is ours!

Kend's picture
Kend 8 years 19 weeks ago
#7

Really 10k. Public service pensions, health care benefits, and holiday pay are much higher then the private sector. Are you saying that had nothing to do with it. If it is wall street to blame why do these same unions still investing in them?

mathboy's picture
mathboy 8 years 19 weeks ago
#8

Set foot!

Aliceinwonderland's picture
Aliceinwonderland 8 years 19 weeks ago
#9

Thom, with due respect (and I have tremendous respect for you), I think you've missed one very important point: the problem is CAPITALISM. This capitalist type of system empowers the psychopaths among us to screw us every which way until there's nothing left for them to steal. Then eventually, the whole dung heap gets toppled, too top-heavy to stand on its own. And that's what keeps happening, over and over again. Government regulations come and go, depending on who's in office, which in turn, depends on how many constituents are asleep at the wheel at any given time. 'Round and 'round it goes…

By design, by its very nature, capitalism is cannibalistic and predatory. It's not about the common good. Never has been and never will be. Unless capitalism is rendered obsolete, we'll keep going through these boom-and-bust cycles while the planet cooks, 'til eventually, humans join the dinosaurs on evolution's scrap heap. Then ole Mother Nature will hit the drawing board once again with all her raw materials, and start over from scratch.

Capitalism is literally kiling us, Thom. Humans walked the earth for millennia before capitalism was invented. It has had its day, and now it's time to go bye-bye! Craig Bush gets right to the nitty-gritty when he points out that we need to learn to work less, consume less and live more. - Aliceinwonderland

Elioflight's picture
Elioflight 8 years 18 weeks ago
#10

If business people are SO smart, why do they hold their worker--the person who makes the crap they will profit from--and consumer--the person who will buy their crap--in such general disdain?

To starve your worker is to starve your customer is to starve your profits, eventually--it's the circle of economic life. The business elite have broken that circle. They evidentually need to be FORCED to play nice/fair.

All you small businesspeople out there have the big businesses to blame for your hostile business environment--big business buys/bribes the hand of government and makes the rules you must follow. The rethuglican party is not your friend--they are openly the party of MONEY--BIG MONEY. Weak-kneed Democrats have to refuse the glamour of big money and begin to serve the PEOPLE--the real humans they represent--the REAL people who ELECTED them.

Is that why on Wall Street there are so many "made-up" ways to make money? Bookies in the darkness betting on a losing horse because they have nothing REAL to create?

Elioflight's picture
Elioflight 8 years 18 weeks ago
#11

Kend: I don't know about "Public service pensions, health care benefits, and holiday pay are much higher then the private sector."

My daughter is an assistant prosecuting attorney for our county, her wages and benefits, with a law degree earned with honors, passed the bar in two states in the same year, are nowhere nearly as good as her barely graduated from high school aunt who got one of the last good factory jobs in the area, which has been eroding its worker benefits and pay, too. I know because my husband also works there. I provide free daycare for her son because she cannot afford the $800 to $1000/ month and keep her very modest home and pay for the small amount, comparitively, of school debt she holds (she won a full scholarship to law school).

ChicagoMatt 8 years 18 weeks ago
#12

Ok, I guess I'm jump in on this one too.

Alice, you say that Capitalism is not about the common good, and to this I agree. When I look at a list of Socialist countries, (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_socialist_states), I notice that there are only a few, and they are very homogenous. That is, the majority of the populations have something in common, either race/relgion/background/history/value system, etc. We do not have that in the United States. It's human nature to be distrustful of people who are different than you, and for Socialism to work, there needs to be some base level of trust among the citizens. I think this is why social wedge issues (abortion, for example) work so well in dividing us and keeping us Capitalistic. Even if both the Planned Parenthood clinician and the protester would benefit from a more Socialistic economy, they will never see eye-to-eye enough to come together for it. Of course, that's just my opinion.

Craig, will you be at that rally today? If so, please take pictures. Or anyone for that matter - if someone at that rally can please take some pictures of the crowd, and give us all a link to it. That would be appreciated. I've heard there is some sort of fast-food strike going on this week, but I haven't seen it, either because of a media blackout, or very low turnout by the strikers. If it's because of a media blackout, surely there is some website with pictures of the strikers.

Elio, you say that to starve your worker is to starve your customer and your profit. I believe that was Henry Ford's model - paying his employees enough to afford the cars they were making. However, (and I am NOT saying this is morally right), I believe that with the current glut of people in the world, businesses have figured out that, just as there are always more employees, there will always be more customers. That in a country of more than 300 million, the 50 million or so people living in poverty still leaves 250 million middle and upper-class customers. Again, not saying it's right to do that to people.

Anyway, just throwing my opinion into the mix. Feel free to bash away...

anarchist cop out's picture
anarchist cop out 8 years 18 weeks ago
#13

Hi folks, I'd just like to let you know about my last reply to our real active of the last week and a half or so at http://www.thomhartmann.com/blog/2014/04/how-george-w-bush-screwed-gener... I just ain't gonna let it die.

anarchist cop out's picture
anarchist cop out 8 years 18 weeks ago
#14
Quote ChicagoMatt:

Alice, you say that Capitalism is not about the common good, and to this I agree. When I look at a list of Socialist countries, (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_socialist_states), I notice that there are only a few, and they are very homogenous. That is, the majority of the populations have something in common, either race/relgion/background/history/value system, etc. We do not have that in the United States. It's human nature to be distrustful of people who are different than you, and for Socialism to work, there needs to be some base level of trust among the citizens. I think this is why social wedge issues (abortion, for example) work so well in dividing us and keeping us Capitalistic. Even if both the Planned Parenthood clinician and the protester would benefit from a more Socialistic economy, they will never see eye-to-eye enough to come together for it. Of course, that's just my opinion.

Your presumptions are not founded. The U.S. labor movements and movements for socialisism were composed predominately of a diverse collection of immigrant worker groups. Those examples of successful socialist states are not as homogenous as you may presume having large immigrant populations from other continents and commonwealth members from former colonies. There seems, overall, to be no foundation at all for your presumptions other than, perhaps, to accomodate your own personal racial suspicions.

Socialism, moreover, is very natural to all people and the less industrialized a people is the more inclined toward it its population tends to be.

You are absolutely right as rain on the wedge issues. Democrats, traditionally, try to build unity, bridging what are sometimes ancient divides between people resulting in, sometimes, very uneasy coalitions to take up the "people's issues". The Republicans, then, have a very easy job of reigniting those ancient animosities to tear down those coalitions sometimes just by saying a few words like "gay marriage" or "Willie Horton" or "welfare queen".

You may, in fact, be at least somewhat right on the first point, also, I'm just used to people making that argument rather carelessly and purely to project their own racial biases and animosities on to the situation. I reacted reflexively.

anarchist cop out's picture
anarchist cop out 8 years 18 weeks ago
#15
Quote ChicagoMatt:

Elio, you say that to starve your worker is to starve your customer and your profit. I believe that was Henry Ford's model - paying his employees enough to afford the cars they were making. However, (and I am NOT saying this is morally right), I believe that with the current glut of people in the world, businesses have figured out that, just as there are always more employees, there will always be more customers. That in a country of more than 300 million, the 50 million or so people living in poverty still leaves 250 million middle and upper-class customers. Again, not saying it's right to do that to people.

You may be right about that. Noam Chomsky once paraphrased a Businessweek - I believe it was - artice advising business owners that they probably get about 80% of their business from about 20% of their customers and that they were better off without that other 80% of customers. In short, it's the upscale, moneyed customers that matter. That's a major reason why the mainstream media is so biased because advertisers don't much care about that lower 80%.

The Henry Ford model is what's good for the overall economy but the "elites", i.e., the decision and policy makers, may well not be interested in the overall economy but only in their own economy, especially with globalization as a worldwide elite of billionaires - Thom's billionairistan - becomes apparent that has no loyalty whatsoever to their country of origin or any adopted country but, rather, behaves as a nation unto itself willing to sacrifice the majority populations of all nations and their economies for the sake of their world ruling class ends.

That behavior, in the past, always resulted in capitalism destroying itself as all the money would fall into fewer and fewer hands and collapse of its own weight and make it necessary for quasi socialist measures as the New Deal and Square Deal of the Roosevelts to be implemented in order to save it. Now, however, the Global economy may make the elites less concerned about that and this latest crash resulted in none of that kind of remedying and, instead, the U.S, economy seems to have been written off and abandoned.

ckrob's picture
ckrob 8 years 18 weeks ago
#16

DAnne- I guess I was mostly writing to Thom. "Meta" is a term used in NLP and which we also find lately used in the term "meta-data" having to do with NSA spying, for instance. It means "above" conceptually. For instance, the constitution is "meta" to all other law. All other laws passed by legislatures must comport well with constitutional provisions. My previous comment expands to -- all contracts have multiple layers of meta-law without which the contracts could not exist. Hope this helps.

ChicagoMatt 8 years 18 weeks ago
#17

Wow. That's twice I've been told I'm right today. I feel like I'm being set up. :)

The U.S. labor movements and movements for socialisism were composed predominately of a diverse collection of immigrant worker groups.
That, in itself, would seem to give them some sort of common bond - they were all immigrants. And do you see the U.S. Labor and Socialist movements as long-term successes? I presume here we are talking about the movements from the 1900s-1940s, roughly. I know the usual things that people like to point out that we got from those movements - weekends, overtime, safe work places, etc... So I guess those would fall under "success".

Socialism, moreover, is very natural to all people and the less industrialized a people is the more inclined toward it its population tends to be.

I would argue that that is because less-industrialized people are typically more tribal/family-oriented. That goes along with my theory that Socialism would work great with a homogenous group. Or in small groups. (State's Rights again.)

Thom often brings up the Bank of North Dakota as an example of how banking should be done - run by the state. I hear that and I think, "North Dakota has a small, mostly rural population. Yup. It would work there. But try that in, say, New York, and I'm not so sure."

ChicagoMatt 8 years 18 weeks ago
#18
In short, it's the upscale, moneyed customers that matter.
I've heard similar things before. Look at Apple, for example. Instead of making a cheap version of an Ipad or an Iphone, they just make a newer expensive version, knowing people who already have one will buy another. No need to target people below a certain income level.

the decision and policy makers, may well not be interested in the overall economy but only in their own economy, especially with globalization as a worldwide elite of billionaires

Ever seen the movie 2012? You know that scene where the elites are getting into the "Ark", and this one Shiek has a room all to himself, for which he paid one billion euros, and the workers who built the ark can't get in to save themselves? This kind of reminds me of that. Of course, I don't think things are nearly as dire Thom and the Progressives would have us believe. (I know, Alice, you're just going to say that I am going through the world with blinders on.) But seriously, I know people who make minimum wage. I know people who are living paycheck-to-paycheck. Whatever little frustration they have with the current economic model manifests itself in physical distractions and escapism (sex, alcohol, video games, movies, etc...), NOT the "revolution in the streets" that would be necessary for sweeping Progressive reforms to take place.

anarchist cop out's picture
anarchist cop out 8 years 18 weeks ago
#19
Quote ChicagoMatt:

I presume here we are talking about the movements from the 1900s-1940s, roughly.

Actually, it was 1865-1940 with the biggest being before 1900. That period, however, was, you might say, less successful. The workers actions, massive as they were, were always beaten back and crushed.

The first eight hour law in Illinois was passed and signed into law in 1867 but was completely unenforced - because political and business elites in Illinois decided that enforcement of it would result in capital flight from Illinois. Great labor upheavals ensued on the ten year anniversaries of the event following depressions of the 1870s and 1880s which almost succeeded but for some myopic, sold out leadership of the workers and for the Haymarket Affair, i.e., the bombing of line of Chicago police moving to violently suppress a peaceful workers' rally, presumably by a militant worker, in 1887. That event was like a 9/11 or burning of the Reichstag, a "shocking" act of terrorism that gave a greenlight to government officials to suppress any workers' movement without regard to constitutional rights and freedoms.

It wasn't until FDR, in 1938, that an eight hour law was passed and enforced and that was nationally with the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938.

Quote ChicagoMatt:

I would argue that that is because less-industrialized people are typically more tribal/family-oriented. That goes along with my theory that Socialism would work great with a homogenous group. Or in small groups. (State's Rights again.)

"Tribal" or family orientation are among the features of a society that capitalism breaks down. That doesn't mean that different groups, not so affected by capitalism couldn't act to create socialism with that common inclination toward it. European societies are very diverse and have succeeded in creating at least close fascimiles of socialism. I think your presumption is unfounded.

Anyway, giving you your theory, why wouldn't then a decentralized, locally oriented socialism be possible?

Elioflight's picture
Elioflight 8 years 18 weeks ago
#20

ChicagoMatt: You are absolutely correct about the population problem. We are spending more time, effort, money and worry about vanishing resources, which is most certainly why resources are vanishing. Nobel Laureate Richard Smalley is mentioned in Popular Science this month in an article about water as saying that the top ten problems we face are [in this order]: 1. energy, 2. water, 3. food, 4. environment, 5. poverty, 6. terrorism and war, 7. disease, 8. education, 9. democracy, and number 10: population.

My husband and I discuss this issue all the time. We agree that population--over-population--is our biggest problem and threat and it needs to be addressed first before we can solve, but still work on solving the other nine.

But I will add that when ALL the customers and ALL the workers are paid the same measley wages, business is not very likely to profit in the long-term. It's just simple logic.

ChicagoMatt 8 years 18 weeks ago
#21
Anyway, giving you your theory, why wouldn't then a decentralized, locally oriented socialism be possible?
Absolutely, and I'm all for it. Actually, I think righties and lefies could agree on that. Have Washington make certain base-line rules: You must provide a means of healthcare for all, you must have equal access to education for all, etc... But let the states work out the specifics. Don't like the way your state does it? You're still free to move from state to state.

But, I can see it now - someone would throw in a wedge issue on that list of "musts", like: your state MUST allow late-term abortions. People take their polar positions, and nothing gets done again.

anarchist cop out's picture
anarchist cop out 8 years 18 weeks ago
#22
Quote ChicagoMatt:

Ever seen the movie 2012? You know that scene where the elites are getting into the "Ark", and this one Shiek has a room all to himself, for which he paid one billion euros, and the workers who built the ark can't get in to save themselves? This kind of reminds me of that. Of course, I don't think things are nearly as dire Thom and the Progressives would have us believe. (I know, Alice, you're just going to say that I am going through the world with blinders on.) But seriously, I know people who make minimum wage. I know people who are living paycheck-to-paycheck. Whatever little frustration they have with the current economic model manifests itself in physical distractions and escapism (sex, alcohol, video games, movies, etc...), NOT the "revolution in the streets" that would be necessary for sweeping Progressive reforms to take place.

They're not so dire that we're getting into an ark (and keep in mind, movies like that are works of fiction, if that were to happen Euros would probably be worthless, we would, in effect, be returning to an earlier level of technology and the workers who built the ark would feel their power and keep posession and control of the fruit of their labor) - just yet.

Escapism is indeed a problem and impediment to any movement building and our society provides much tempting opportunity for it.

ChicagoMatt 8 years 18 weeks ago
#23

You should look up "World Cruise ship". It's a permanent-residence cruise ship for the ultra wealthy. They literally spend their lives floating around the world. Kind of goes back to the whole "elitists no longer need the working class" thing.

Escapism is indeed a problem and impediment to any movement building and our society provides much tempting opportunity for it.

I know. What does it say about society when more people show up for a midnight release of a video game than for a protest for worker's rights? To me, and I've said this before, but it seems that the "war against workers" or however you want to term it is a complete victory for corporations.

ckrob's picture
ckrob 8 years 18 weeks ago
#24

CMatt: I think the entire banking process can be conducted via computer without all the impressive bricks and mortar. A good processor setup might be able to handle NYC (or Chicago?) as a state function without the cut off-the-top by the banksters. BTW, check out 'ted.com' and search for 'William Black' about 'how to rob a bank.'

anarchist cop out's picture
anarchist cop out 8 years 18 weeks ago
#25

Matt, what's this? I found it on one of last week's blogs when I was cleaning up my laptop..

Quote ChicagoMatt:

There are so many other parts of big business that can be spun off to smaller businesses, to stay under the threshold of having to insure your employees.

For example, a wise entrepreneur might start a business that stocks shelves for chain stores over night. (Target, for example) You could have 40 or so employees who came in and stocked the shelves for Target every night. But that company would be hired on a contract basis, which would save money for Target in the form of benefits it wouldn't have to pay, since they weren't technically their employees. Target would only need to have a handful of people working overnight to watch the outsourced stockers.

You could do this with cashiers, waitstaffs, cooks, almost anything really.

Matt, that kind of outsourcing is a big problem in our society. It is only done to circumvent collective bargaining and labor law and the only reason the client firm saves any money doing it is because the contracted firm isn't party to the collective bargaining agreement with the client firm's employees' union and so subjects its employees to substandard pay labor practices.

IOW, it saves money by paying someone else to screw workers for them. It's probably one of the biggest banes to the labor movement today and one of the biggest reasons labor in this country is being so beaten back and the middle class so decimated. What isn't being offshored is being outsourced. It's nothing but systemetized scabbing and strikebreaking.

I spent nine years fighting this kind of shit when I organized temporary workers. You gotta come up with a better solution than that.

ChicagoMatt 8 years 18 weeks ago
#26
You gotta come up with a better solution than that.
Whoa. I never said it was my personal solution, I just said it could be done. I know this is part of the problem, and I'm surprised it's not getting worse now with the ACA. I'm sure companies over the "small company" threshold of employees have looked into this as a way to save money.

I spent nine years fighting this kind of shit when I organized temporary workers.
I think this goes back to something I said earlier - a glut of people in the country and on the planet. It's sad and immoral, but low-skill, low-wage workers are easily replacable. Without some sort of massive manufacturing boom in this country, or major deadly disease outbreak, or maybe war or alien invasion, this will continue to be a problem that undermines many Progressive efforts.

Aliceinwonderland's picture
Aliceinwonderland 8 years 18 weeks ago
#27

Ck, I want nothing to do with online (aka "computer") banking. Computers will never be hack-proof, which is why I don't feel safe with online banking. I'll take the old-fashioned bricks & mortar any ole day!! - AIW

ChicagoMatt 8 years 18 weeks ago
#28
CMatt: I think the entire banking process can be conducted via computer without all the impressive bricks and mortar. A good processor setup might be able to handle NYC (or Chicago?) as a state function without the cut off-the-top by the banksters.
Possibly. Handing everything over to computers brings out a whole new type of paranoid/crazy person.

Interesting note: the last time I walked into a bank, there was exactly one teller booth. The other "booths" were just larger ATMs with more features than the drive-up. Less workers, more money for the bank I suppose.

ChicagoMatt 8 years 18 weeks ago
#29

We must have been typing at the same time. I wasn't implying that you were paranoid/crazy about computers and banking Alice. I, too, have my worries about them.

Aliceinwonderland's picture
Aliceinwonderland 8 years 18 weeks ago
#30

Matt says, in response to my earlier post: "When I look at a list of Socialist countries, I notice that there are only a few, and they are very homogenous. That is, the majority of the populations have something in common, either race/relgion/background/history/value system, etc." Mark has done a more-than-adequate job of answering this, so I think I'll leave it there.

It's looking more and more like employment is becoming obsolete. Companies keep finding new ways to make it so. Meanwhile people still have to eat, and still have lives to live, and I think a guaranteed minimum income such as Thom has advocated is the solution.

Like I pointed out before, it would be extremely empowering for workers if the incentive for getting a job was to improve one's standard of living rather than just survival. In that case, you wouldn't have so much competition for the crappiest, low-paying jobs. This would make labor less dispensable. It would also force employers to treat their employees better, since it would be so much easier to say "Take this job and shove it!"

The fact that this has already been done in a few other countries is adequate proof that such an arrangement is possible; not just some pie-in-the-sky, hippie-dippie fantasy. - Aliceinwonderland

P.S. Matt, by the way... my comments about online banking were in response to "ckrob" (post #25), not to you.

ckrob's picture
ckrob 8 years 18 weeks ago
#31

Hi AiW, don't tell me you think the banks have Bob Cratchet in the back room handling stuff with a well-crafted quill!

I hear tell banks got computers. Sure, there are hacking risks either way but one has a guarantee of bankster rip-off as a "free enterprise" benefit. Those bricks cost a lot but don't really keep bad people out. (See the TedTalks item I referenced in post 25 above.) ;)

Aliceinwonderland's picture
Aliceinwonderland 8 years 18 weeks ago
#32

Ck, of course banks use computers nowadays! The vast majorty of businesses use them. But I still feel safer not doing my own banking or paying bills online. - AIW

chuckle8's picture
chuckle8 8 years 18 weeks ago
#33

Mark S -- I would like your input on "card check". It seems it would deal with all the problems you describe. We need to think about the 2 hour workday. We need to think about how Brazil has a tight labor market. We need to think about how Germany pays its autoworkers $54/hour.

ChicagoMatt 8 years 18 weeks ago
#34

Some of us actually like our jobs. Maybe we want to be there 40-50 hours per week.

chuckle8's picture
chuckle8 8 years 18 weeks ago
#35

Chi Matt -- How many people actually would rather work then spend time with their families? My guess is 1%. I am mostly joking, but the labor laws in most states have a huge category of exempt employees. Those are the empolyees that can't require they be paid overtime for working extra hours.

Aliceinwonderland's picture
Aliceinwonderland 8 years 18 weeks ago
#36

Hey Matt, if you love your job that much, have at it! Up 'til now, I've never had a job I loved that much. Hopefully at this late stage of life that might be changing for me. But I'd have to love my job an awful lot to want to spend forty or fifty hours a week at it. Like most people, I work to live, not the other way around. - AIW

ChicagoMatt 8 years 18 weeks ago
#37

How would a 2-hour workday work for teachers, doctors, nurses, police officers, firefighters, etc...? And yes, I do love my job so much that I am actually sad it's almost summer vacation. It's possible to love spending time at work and spending time with your family equally. In fact, isn't that what we were all taught to strive for when we were children - a job that we will love going to, so it doesn't feel like work? Didn't we all hear the saying, "If you love your job, you'll never have to work a day in your life."?

Especially people who go to college - why would you spend all of that money on college, just to go into a field you don't enjoy? I can understand how some people of little means get trapped into jobs they hate, but since about 40% of people go to college nowadays, shouldn't that mean that about 40% of people like their jobs?

Of course, some people won't like any job, no matter what. I know people like that in my life. Whatever they have, they just want something different. It's annoying.

DAnneMarc's picture
DAnneMarc 8 years 18 weeks ago
#38
Quote ChicagoMatt:I can understand how some people of little means get trapped into jobs they hate, but since about 40% of people go to college nowadays, shouldn't that mean that about 40% of people like their jobs?

ChicagoMatt ~ Your closed mind never ceases to amaze me. You conclude that 40% of the people like their jobs--so piss on 60% of the people. (Mind you these are your statistics and not mine.)

Just because you enjoy your job everyone else should just shut up and obey. Right? Sorry, you don't live in a vacuum. You live in a society with a wide range of reactions to jobs that you have to take into account when you consider such arrangements.

I'm overjoyed that you love your job. That is truly wonderful. However, you are the exception. Please, keep that little fact in mind when you blatantly speak inclusively of everyone.

Aliceinwonderland's picture
Aliceinwonderland 8 years 18 weeks ago
#39

Matt, don't you think it's a wee bit unrealistic to assume that ALL college grads love their jobs? One might think this or that profession is something he would enjoy until he actually experiences it first-hand. There are no guarantees. I once assumed that because I'm musical and have perfect pitch, I would make a good piano tuner/technician and enjoy that occupation. (Wrong.) Learned that the hard way. It's very easy to get this idealized fantasy about something you've never done before.

Your posts give me the impression you're not aware of much beyond your own little universe. Matt's enjoying prosperity in his own life, therefore our socioeconomic system is fine as is. Matt loves his job, therefore everyone else who's college educated must love his job too… unless of course, there's something wrong with him or her. Maybe I'm oversimplifying a tad, but this is how your message often comes across.

There is something about the way most of us are living that makes me incredibly sad. A majority of us are not happy with the kind of work we're doing. This means we spend a large proportion of our lives doing something we hate, that bores us or is stressful (or dangerous, even!), or all the above. (Being undercompensated doesn't help either.) Anyway I don't believe humans were meant to live like that. Thom has described ancient, indigenous cultures (like Native American cultures) where work took up a lot less space in people's lives.

One or two of the bloggers here have suggested we should be striving to create a situation where we work less, consume less and live more. That really hit a chord with me. - Aliceinwonderland

chuckle8's picture
chuckle8 8 years 18 weeks ago
#40

Chi Matt -- The 2 hour workday was stated to say in the extreme we could adapt to very large increases in productivity. I personally cannot think of how productivity could be that high in any field, let alone, education, nursing, policing, and firefighting. I think you are better equipped to imagine how productivity could be significantly increased in education. Remember one of the variables you get to play with is the availability of a lot more people due to increases in productivity in other fields.

ChicagoMatt 8 years 17 weeks ago
#41

Chuck - I've heard Thom say in the past that in the 60s people were predicting a 16-hour workweek by the year 2000, but just the opposite happened. People now work more. He, of course, as always, blamed the "elites". I think it is more of a variety of factors, mostly too much cheap labor and automation driving down the value of a non-skilled person's work hour. I've also heard Thom talk about laws in Europe that limit people to one single job with no more than 30-35 hours worked per week. (I can't remember if he was talking about current times or in the past.) Either way, he was saying it like it was a good thing. But doesn't that just stifle motivated workers from getting ahead? In my early 20s, I routinely worked 55-60 hours per week. I liked having the extra money. Who is the government to say that people shouldn't be allowed to do that if they want to?

ChicagoMatt 8 years 17 weeks ago
#42

I'm going to preface this with an apology if it comes across as mean. I don't intend it that way.

One or two of the bloggers here have suggested we should be striving to create a situation where we work less, consume less and live more. That really hit a chord with me.
Then, by all means, do that. I knew some people in college that lived that kind of lifestyle. They were very cool people and I thought they were on to something. I also try to consume less and live more in my own little way. But telling other people (or, as Thom suggests, passing laws to force other people) they should try to live that lifestyle because you think it is the right thing to do puts you in the same boat as Evangelical Christians, right? Telling people that you "have the answers" and everyone should "join you for their own good"?

Your posts give me the impression you're not aware of much beyond your own little universe. Matt's enjoying prosperity in his own life, therefore our socioeconomic system is fine as is. Matt loves his job, therefore everyone else who's college educated must love his job too… unless of course, there's something wrong with him or her.

You've said that before, and that can easily be said of you as well. Alice doesn't like her job, so therefore most other people must not like theirs either? The "status quo" might not be working well for Alice, so therefore the whole thing has to be done away with.

I think there is a generational gap between life goals and how college plays into that between people on either side of the Reagan Revolution. We've discussed this before, but if you ask most people my age, I'll bet they would say that the point of college is to separate yourself from the unskilled masses and get a job where you're making a lot of money. And, in turn, making that money will bring you some level of enjoyment. I KNOW base don what my students tell me that this is how teens feel today. But for baby boomers, college seemed to be more about self-actualization and possibly giving back to society. Those are both great things, don't get me wrong. But they work a lot better in a world with high demand for both skilled and unskilled labor. Since there is very little demand for unskilled labor nowadays, the self-actualization takes a backseat to financial security.

ChicagoMatt 8 years 17 weeks ago
#43
You live in a society with a wide range of reactions to jobs that you have to take into account when you consider such arrangements.

Im glad you bring this up. This isn't a black/white issue. There is a lot of grey area of people who "like their jobs well enough" or "don't like what they do, but like the pay."

While scanning the internet for stats to backup my retort (which is what takes me so long sometimes), I found this little article:

http://www.fastcoexist.com/3021789/everyone-in-the-world-hates-their-job...

That article posts statistics from a Monster.com survey of workers all over the world which shows that:

53% of Americans like or love their jobs

31% of Americans like their jobs "well enough"

15% of Americans dislike or hate their jobs.

While that 15% may include low-skill and low-wage workers, it could also include the opposite. I suspect there are a few corporate execs or lawyers who, deep down, HATE what they do, but love those paychecks. I, personally, know a close-to-retirement teacher who hates her job, even though she is a well-paid tenured public school teacher.

Aliceinwonderland's picture
Aliceinwonderland 8 years 17 weeks ago
#44

Matt, don't put words in my mouth!! Where did I suggest passing laws to force people to work less and consume less?! That's quite a leap from "striving towards" something, wouldn't you say? All I'm suggesting is that our system be more accommodating towards that end, for all who wish to actualize it in their own lives.

You seem to assume we liberal thinking people are a bunch of control freaks. Don't you know the difference between liberalism and authoritarianism? Maybe you oughta try looking those words up in the dictionary. If you bothered to do so, I think you would find them to be polar opposites.

And if you bothered to do the research, I think you'd find that in today's job market, the vast majority of workers are unhappy with their jobs. I challenge you to prove otherwise.

There is no such thing as "unskilled" work, Matt. That's elitist fucking bullshit.

The teens you speak of, born long since the "Raygun revolution", have experienced no other reality than mallignant capitalism and its side effects. I pity them. They don't know what they've been missing.

It deeply saddens me that higher ed has declined to what amounts to little more than a jobs training program; that the main motive for going to college anymore is the desire to make more money. I guess I shouldn't be surprised that we've evolved into a society of cultural illiterates, with the apparent blessing of "educators" like yourself. - AIW

ChicagoMatt 8 years 17 weeks ago
#45
Matt, don't put words in my mouth!! Where did I suggest passing laws to force people to work less and consume less?!

I didn't say you said that. I said Thom said it, in the last paragraph of his column.

And if you bothered to do the research, I think you'd find that in today's job market, the vast majority of workers are unhappy with their jobs. I challenge you to prove otherwise.

That's in my reply to Marc above. Although, in all honesty, I found a wide variety of polls about workplace satisfaction. The numbers were all over the place. The worst one I found said that two-thirds of dislike their jobs.

I guess I shouldn't be surprised that we've evolved into a society of cultural illiterates, with the apparent blessing of "educators" like yourself.

I am curious to know from you and the other baby-boomers on here, just what an educator's job should be? I always saw my job as preparing students for what comes next, which in my case is high school. And the high school teacher's job is to prepare students for college. My track record so far shows that I am a really great educator, if that is what I am being measured against.

Aliceinwonderland's picture
Aliceinwonderland 8 years 17 weeks ago
#46

Matt, did you bother to read the posts under that article? The first one says: "Only insane people like slavery. Employment is nothing but slavery. We don't live like human beings, we live like mindless insect drones or machines. Standing there doing the same repetition every week of our lives. And for what? To manufacture more & more useless plastic junk that takes up all our space. What exactly is there to like about slavery/employment/domination?"

Here's another one: "Got to wonder how valid this survey is - those in Canada who work in the private sector are not that happy and I can't imagine that they're is such a high percentage as stated in this article. I actually recently quit my job because after reading multiple articles from quitornot.com and cnbc.com, I realized just how awful my job actually was and I'm thankful for quitting!"

And another: "slave wages, no benefits, no union protections, part time hours, no healthcare, no retirement, no vacations, and being insulted as lazy moochers by the arrogant thugs in the republican party and their delusional tea party enablers. what's not to like about working in america."

And another: "Loyalty on both sides is dead. After a few years you are usually considered too big an expense, even if you prove yourself to be good."

And another: "I don't think a survey of 8000 people between 7 countries accurately describes the realities."

Frankly, I'm very skeptical of that article. In light of how many highly-paid occupations have disappeared via outsourcing, automation, etc. ad nauseam, I find it extremely difficult to believe that only 15% of Americans hate their jobs these days, especially when half the jobs in this country are low-wage grunt work with no healthcare, no childcare, no overtime pay, no vacations, no maternity leave; no sick time even!

Anyway Matt, I see little point in continuing this discussion. Like so many of our discussions, it's going nowhere. You've got your version of reality, I've got mine, and back and forth we go. Got other fish to fry... - Aliceinwonderland

chuckle8's picture
chuckle8 8 years 17 weeks ago
#47

Chi Matt -- I need an interpretation or a definition.

Quote Chi Matt:Who is the government to say that people shouldn't be allowed to do that if they want to?
.

Are you saying when a labor union strikes for a 40 hour week, that represents the government saying people should not be allowed to do what they want?

ChicagoMatt 8 years 17 weeks ago
#48
Are you saying when a labor union strikes for a 40 hour week, that represents the government saying people should not be allowed to do what they want?

No. I was talking about the maximum-hours laws in other countries that I've heard Thom talk about, like it's a good thing. I think labor unions are good things, under condition: You shouldn't be forced to join or pay dues just to work at a place. But if you WANT to join, you should be able to.

chuckle8's picture
chuckle8 8 years 17 weeks ago
#49

Chi Matt -- Thom described what I believe to be the main underpinning of what our economy needs. That is,

Quote Thom Hartmann:We need to put back into place laws and policies that balance the powers of employers and employees, and let workers unionize. Only then will we once again have a strong and flourishing American middle class

The conditions you describe are just the Taft Hartley and Right to Work Laws. It has been shown since 1947 they are total failures in trying to balance the power between employers and employees. Why would you want to continue those policies?

ChicagoMatt 8 years 17 weeks ago
#50
The conditions you describe are just the Taft Hartley and Right to Work Laws. It has been shown since 1947 they are total failures in trying to balance the power between employers and employees. Why would you want to continue those policies?
Perhaps I've had a good run when it comes to jobs, or perhaps things have changed a lot in the workplace since you entered it, but I never really saw much inbalance between employees and employers. Maybe because the leg work for that was done generations earlier by unions? Hard to say. I've had 14 different employers that I can remember, and I always felt like a valued team member. This vision some Progressives like to paint (not saying anyone on here does this though) of a bunch of managemt types in suits sitting in plush chairs and smoking cigars while laughing at ways to screw over their underlings seems really archaic to me.

That could also be a result of an almost totally interchangable low-skill work force. Don't like something about the job? Leave it. Don't like your pay? Why did you take the job in the first place then? You knew the pay before they hired you. There's a line of people ready to take your spot if you want to leave.

I think there are way more people who are just happy to have a job than there are people who are so fed up with their working conditions that they are ready, willing, and able to protest/unionize/fight for better treatment, etc. Especially if you're living paycheck-to-paycheck, is it worth "rocking the boat"?

Thom's Blog Is On the Move

Hello All

Today, we are closing Thom's blog in this space and moving to a new home.

Please follow us across to hartmannreport.com - this will be the only place going forward to read Thom's blog posts and articles.

From Screwed:
"I think many of us recognize that for all but the wealthiest, life in America is getting increasingly hard. Screwed explores why, showing how this is no accidental process, but rather the product of conscious political choices, choices we can change with enough courage and commitment. Like all of Thom’s great work, it helps show us the way forward."
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From Screwed:
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