Tag Archives: jobs

Listen…A Giant Sucking Sound

Ross was right. Ross Perot was right.

1992 was my first presidential election as an eligible voter. I was engaged and trying to figure out where my value system fell and what I believed in. I was already tired of the two party system and could not understand why we continued to have one. I was excited that Ross Perot was running as a somewhat viable third party candidate even though I didn’t know a lot about him. I voted for him.

Today, I am not sure that I would do anything differently knowing what I do. He certainly had one part right, the “giant sucking sound”. He explains:

Economics is not my forté, but Perot put’s things in a frame I can understand. When we take away the levies that keep our wages high, we are going to find a lowest common denominator of a wage along with the rest of the globe. American business is motivated by money to forget about everything but the bottom line – no worker considerations, no health and safety practices, no carbon counting. If Americans want those bothersome things to be considered – fine – but then industry will simply no longer be American.

The 1% and the global corporations that prop them up are taking American workers down a few notches. We (the masses) got a little full of ourselves, kind of empowered, and had a bit too much extra spending money for their comfort. We’ve had our heydey (hope you were alive/enjoyed the 1950s), and now it’s time to return to serfdom (that’s mid-evil speak for a life of servitude to another).

The 1% would prefer it if you were born into poverty, were desperate for the most basic survival essentials (we are so much less mouthy about government when we are focused on being cold and hungry), and weren’t aware of opportunities for expression or liberty (they take up too much time in which you could have been making a profit for them).

I don’t remember a whole lot about that campaign season but I do remember this quip about the giant sucking sound and the point about NAFTA. Ross was right. He may or may not have been a decent President, but he predicted what is happening now. The value of human life and livelihood is nil to the 1%ers. American values of freedom, democracy, expression, and the idea of the commons are being squeezed out in favor of the value of capitalism. What’s the big deal about values? They’re everything. Without American values, we are just a bunch of people at the mercy of those that can bully us.

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Job Fail

As mentioned, I have spent the last few days on vacation. While there I got to do something I rarely do these days which is to read a fiction book from cover to cover in a few days. For this selection I chose a Tom Robbins book I haven’t read – it wasn’t recommended, I just got it at some sale a while back – the book is Half Asleep in Frog Pajamas.

It was amusing enough to hold my interest, I can’t really recommend it for great reading but there were several parts that really did intrigue me – especially because the copyright is eighteen years old and several of the ideas seem extremely contemporary (like the instability of the stock market system and how it’s being gamed by insiders).  I’d like to cite a passage here describing the lecture of the antagonist – a former stock broker star:

… in our society, jobs are an aberration, a flash in the pan…People have always worked, he explains, but they have only held jobs – with wages and employees and vacations and pink slips – for a very short time. And now, with the proliferation of cybernetics and robotics and automation of all types and degrees, jobs are on the way out again. In the context of history, jobs have been but a passing fancy.

Nowadays, he would have you believe, the state uses jobs, or rather the illusion of jobs as a mechanism for control. When there is a public outcry about some particularly vile instance of deforestation, wreckage, or pollution, the “pufftoads” hasten to justify the environmental assault by trumpeting the jobs it allegedly will save or create – and then the protests fade like the rustle of a worn dollar bill. Foreign policy decisions, including illegal and immoral acts of armed intervention, likewise are made acceptable, even popular, on the grounds that such actions are necessary to protect American jobs. Virtually every candidate for public office in the past seventy years has campaigned with the rubber worm of “more jobs” dangling from his or her rusty hook, and the angler with the most lifelike worm snags the votes, even though all voters except the cerebrally paralyzed must recognize that there are going to be fewer and fewer jobs as time – and technology – progresses.

I kept checking the date on this book. This is fiction from 1994.

Jobs are the magical trump card that politicians reach for time and again. Jobs are why we can’t say goodbye to destructive industry, jobs are why we rally at the advent of every new product – no matter the quality or usefulness. Jobs are why we can’t focus on health, safety, or the environment. Jobs are why our military has any civilian support; our military has become a bastion of the job based economy. Without the relatively superior pay and benefits, our all volunteer military would certainly dwindle to a fraction of its size. The military knows that a dependable, high quality work force is impossible without basic benefits of insurance, health, home security, education, retirement plans, and clear working contracts. For all that the military has not gotten right, the one thing it does get right is providing the basics for their employees and their families.

What “job” means in America is a package deal of temporary security – that could possibly lead to longer term security (but the likelihood of that constantly wanes). If someone has a “job” they have a position of usefulness secured for pay, as well as some other securities like the promise of more regular work, a semblance of safe conditions, reasonable shift lengths, healthcare options, retirement plans, building a knowledge or credibility base, as well as a social network of those in similar situations as yourself.  What has happened is that the previously agreed upon social contract of security and longevity is now void. With a global economy, American workers now compete with companies that have built their policy on not providing workers with safe and secure conditions for the short or long term. Our system of distribution and an assembly line that wraps around the globe means that tracing inhumane treatment is a lost cause for the average consumer. The likelihood that some of the workers that processed our food, clothing, shelter, retail goods, and even medical goods were mistreated or forced to work in substandard situations is extremely high. The American workforce has simply joined the legion of mistreated and exploited international workers in a globalized economy.

If we want a permanent solution to our own short term and long term security, our country must establish a minimum standard of living – kind of like the military did for an entry level recruit with a family. If someone goes through life trying, working, contributing to society, they should be able to afford a minimum standard of living – one that allows for dignity in our food, shelter, health, liberties, and pursuits of happiness. We know how to do it – the military is a part of our government – we just have to find the voice to claim that being American means having dignity and compassion, it means that we care about “strangers” because we have humane American standards.

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Etch-A-Sketch Values

An aide to the Romney campaign made a big mistake. Here is the quote:

“I think you hit a reset button for the fall campaign. Everything changes. It’s almost like an Etch A Sketch. You can kind of shake it up, and we start all over again.”

You’d think that with wars going on and all of the fireworks of a presidential campaign that it would be a more significant comment that shook up this primary season, but for Romney, this is trouble.

Unless you were living in a cave eight years ago, you likely remember the flip-flop fiasco of the Kerry campaign. At least the Kerry camp didn’t start their own demise, the Romney campaign might not be able to say the same thing. I’m not ready to write Romney off, I believe he will be the nominee and that we will still have a fight on our hands, no matter how good it should look for Obama. No Republican nominee should be dismissed, they are all serious contenders because they all can take advantage of our election system using unlimited dollars from anyone they’d like.

However, this might be Romney’s flip flop moment. Continue reading

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Zoom, zoom, Newt’s in space

Newt Gingrich is at it again, you can’t really blame him, he is trying to win in Florida and needs a hook. It’s time to get out the zoom lens. The “zoom lens” is a mental exercise and visual trick that helps to see both a progressive and conservative point of view; it’s another way to see the multiple causes that form a progressive opinion vs. the few causes that form conservative ones. While the lens is trained on Newt you see a candidate that needs votes and needs to tell the electorate something that will make him more desirable and set him apart from the field. Newt knows that he must cut through the media chatter – people don’t want to get bogged down in policy talk or quibbling. Newt wants to be seen as a big, bold idea man. He’s put forth an edgy idea and he’s channeling Ronald Reagan and John F. Kennedy at the same time. He’s calculated his position and is taking a gamble on the desperate needs of the unemployed; especially the Florida unemployed.

Like lot’s of Americans, Newt is a space fan and has been for a long time. He was a youth when JFK made the press to go to the moon and I’m sure moon-talk was the uber-cool, cutting edge, techno geekspeak of the day. JFK – the still wildly popular Democratic president- created a bold challenge for Americans and gave it a deadline. Newt really needs a fresh idea to jump start the economy so he is dusting the cobwebs off of the idea of space exploration and is trying to do what Kennedy did – it just so happens that he’s pushing it in a state that has lost thousands of jobs to the shuttering of the space programs. Gingrich is channeling one of the most popular Democratic presidents in history and one of the most popular Republican presidents in history too – Ronald Reagan. Both of these presidents had big ideas that saved their butts. Reagan’s ideas were big because he crafted our current economic down turn with his deregulation plans, rejection of “do-gooders” (empathetic/altruistic people), and desire for “morning in America”. It is almost irrelevant what either president was talking about, what was really important is how they made Americans feel.

Feeling is more important than thinking when we make decisions. Continue reading

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