Scenes from a class war

“They just don’t get that I’d rather they pay me a better wage so I wouldn’t have to go to a food bank.”

Republicans have run out of persuadable white voters.”

“The free market might be a great idea when it comes to setting the wages and salaries of working folks, but using it to set the fees for dock rental in one of the richest communities in America? That’s outrageous.”

“We want to do everything we can to help our side. Sometimes we think that’s voter ID, sometimes we think that’s longer lines — whatever it may be.”

“Thus have the most egregious crimes of the last decade been fully shielded from prosecution when committed by those with the greatest political and economic power: the construction of a worldwide torture regime, spying on Americans’ communications without the warrants required by criminal law by government agencies and the telecom industry, an aggressive war launched on false pretenses, and massive, systemic financial fraud in the banking and credit industry that triggered the 2008 financial crisis.”

“I strongly believe that the creation of long-term, clandestine ‘black sites’ and the use of so-called ‘enhanced-interrogation techniques’ were terrible mistakes.”

This is a stunning level of silence from a church that for centuries has been at the forefront of worker and economic justice”

“In the argument over right-to-work laws, the first thing to get straight is that these laws have nothing to do with the right to work.”

“If right-to-work laws are indeed, as supporters claim, a ‘liberty’ issue for workers who are otherwise slaves to ‘union bosses,’ then why are Gov. Rick Snyder and Michigan GOP legislators denying these ‘rights’ to the most esteemed workers under their purview, police officers and firefighters?”

Right-to-work laws go against everything we believe.”

Global solidarity among workers is the only way to meet the challenge of today’s global economy and the neo-liberal principles that govern it, a philosophy that promotes transnational business deals at the cost of a relentless search for cheaper labor and fewer governmental restrictions.”

“It’s a good reminder of the trade-offs that we have already made in the name of deficit reduction, which have received little attention amid the hand-wringing over the fiscal cliff.”

“If your company staked a claim in 1873, and had been mining gold from it continuously, the total cost to your company would have been $19,509.”

“One of the reasons Social Security is necessary is that most workers never see their pensions because their companies go under before there is ever a pay-out; but executives always seem to walk away with a pile of money anyway.”

“And it’s not just seniors who would be harmed by raising the Medicare eligibility age: Studies show that the proposal would actually increase systemwide health care spending and shift those additional costs onto state governments and onto employers and their employees.”

“A principle reduction program would provide much needed help to a significant number of troubled homeowners, help repair the nation’s housing market, and result in a net benefit to taxpayers.”

“In a nutshell, almost everything ordinary Americans think they know about the Bill of Rights, including the phrase ‘Bill of Rights,’ comes from the Reconstruction period.”

Turning the crank on the side releases one penny every 4.97 seconds, for a total of $7.25 per hour.” (via Dave Ex Machina)

  • tsig

    As long as we don’t make those job creators pay for the jobs they create everything will be OK. :(

  • Magic_Cracker

    What? They’re supposed to pay you for your work now? But you wouldn’t even have that work if they hadn’t given it to you. Must they do EVERYTHING?!?!

  • AnonymousSam

    You joke, but then I think of the article I read once from a group of conservatives in favor of abolishing minimum wages, largely on the grounds of personal freedom. “If you don’t want to work for five cents an hour, just get a job somewhere else, stupid!”

  • tsig

    I’m hoping to work my way up to carrying out the kitchen slops, nom, nom.

  • Jessica_R

    And more than anything I’m baffled at the middle and poor class that support these gazillionaires. I can understand being a greedy bastard, I cannot understand supporting or voting for someone who wouldn’t piss on you if you were on fire. 

  • Magic_Cracker

    If a business-owner’s margins are so thin that they have to pay their employees less than starvation wages, THEY ARE A CRAPPY BUSINESSPERSON AND SHOULD TAKE YOUR OWN ADVISE ABOUT FINDING ANOTHER LINE OF WORK!

  • Magic_Cracker

    If a business-owner’s margins are so thin that they have to pay their employees less than starvation wages, THEY ARE A CRAPPY BUSINESSPERSON AND SHOULD TAKE YOUR OWN ADVISE ABOUT FINDING ANOTHER LINE OF WORK!

  • http://mistformsquirrel.deviantart.com/ mistformsquirrel

    I don’t get it either.  I mean I sort of get the hustle that’s being perpetrated on them – I grasp the whole “God, Guns, Gays” thing, I get the whole “You’ll be rich too someday…” schtick…

    But how dumb do you have to be to KEEP FALLING FOR IT?

  • AnonaMiss

    We need to keep letting them fuck us over because it’s the only thing that keeps the tigers away!

    The fact that there are no tigers around is proof that it works.

  • http://thatbeerguy.blogspot.com Chris Doggett

    It’s worse than you know: at least 10% of employers have admitted that they were unable to find skilled workers willing to work for the wages they were offering. 

    In other words, at least part of the current unemployment problem isn’t a lack of skilled workers, but that employers are simply refusing to pay living wages. 

  • JustoneK

    It’s a cultural thing.  It’s taught and reinforced with every generation.

    No American is ever truly poor – we’re just temporarily fallen billionaires.

  • http://mistformsquirrel.deviantart.com/ mistformsquirrel

    See that’s what I don’t get – I grew up poor, and while I was undeniably conservative socially because of my upbringing (obviously this has changed); economically even despite what my parents tried to tell me, I’ve always been liberal because it was right in front of my face ‘We are poor, and these jerks (your bosses) are a large chunk of why.’

    I guess it’s just that when it gets to a certain point I start to get frustrated with people, I want to shake them and say “WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH YOU!”

    Eugh.  I don’t even drink and I want booze.

  • JustoneK

    Same here, and likely similar reasons for wanting progressive things – but as a rule people don’t have to believe what’s right in front of they faces.  You can say “these people are the real reason you don’t get to eat every day” and they will swear it’s Those People.

    You can’t convince anyone of anything.  All you can do is present evidence.  Over and over and over.

  • EllieMurasaki

    I can’t Tumblr at work so I can’t turn up the direct link, but I reblogged something earlier, go to elliemurasaki dot tumblr dot com and it’s practically at the top:

    Somebody made an art project. Box full of pennies with crank mechanism such that someone who does nothing but turn the crank for an hour gets seven hundred twenty-five pennies. It’s work! It’s minimum-wage work! And it gets across, very vividly, the point that a penny every five seconds is shit pay even for something as undemanding as turning a crank, and minimum-wage workers are invariably doing much harder things and being just as bored at it for that same penny every five seconds.

  • AnonymousSam

    Fred linked it too. I think every CEO in the country ought to spend a few weeks doing nothing but turning that crank for eight hours a day, five days a week (and sometimes overtime with no extra pay), with shit for lunch breaks, no benefits and no outside financial help. If that doesn’t get the point across, then we need to start nailing these asshats to walls.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Oh. That’s what I get for not clicking all the links, I guess.

  • Jon Frater

    I just finished Joe Bageant’s book “Deer Hunting With Jesus,” where he goes back to his hometown of Winchester, Virginia after 20 years and realizes that not only are the people he grew up with still screwed, but the art of screwing them has become so complex and pervasive they they now believe it’s normal to live that way. It’s equal parts fascinating and horrifying. The review I wrote is here.

  • David Betz-Zall

    Bill of Rights coming from Reconstruction? Think again.

    http://chronicle.com/blognetwork/edgeofthewest/2012/12/18/bill-of-rights/

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_NR2MMC4EJXJWJMLH6IF457XL64 Alex B

    Their margins aren’t that thin. They’d just rather keep the money for themselves.

  • Magic_Cracker

    Oh, I know. :-) Just playing a rousing game of “Taking Them At Their Word.”

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_NR2MMC4EJXJWJMLH6IF457XL64 Alex B

    The one that always baffles me is the idea of a Golden Parachute. Where did this come from? How did we get to a place where if someone makes enough money, we have to give them a bonus to fire them?

  • AnonymousSam

    And now after reading an argument on how minimum wage is destroying our economy by forcing businesses to close, I think I need to make an investment and purchase a nailgun.

  • http://twitter.com/shay_guy Shay Guy

    For that, you’d have to modify it to use some extra coins and have some extra mechanisms and settings, so that it could dispense…

    A penny every 4.97 seconds…
    A nickel every 28.4 seconds…
    A dime every 49.7 seconds…
    A quarter every  minute and four seconds…
    Or a dollar coin every eight minutes 17 seconds.

    ‘Cause as it is, I don’t think this thing’s designed to run for days on end. Pennies are bulky

  • Magic_Cracker

    Yeah, but fuck unemployment insurance. That’s shit’s a perverse incentive.

  • EllieMurasaki

    And any centralized effort to ensure that everyone has enough money for the basics requires raising taxes, which costs consumers directly from their paychecks and indirectly from the raised prices resulting from the tax bills on businesses, which puts everything back at square one only now everything costs more–and the solution can’t possibly be to structure all this such that the businesses are required to take at least as big a hit to their profits as they pass on to consumers.
    (Saw this argument in a story a friend of mine has in progress. The setting doesn’t have the sort of government structure necessary to make any large-scale antipoverty program work, possibly doesn’t have enough total wealth to pull it off either, and I do not want another fight with her, so I didn’t say anything. Also, her critique seems to be of giving a certain sum to every citizen at regular intervals, which I think she’s unaware that that’s kind of an extreme-left position and not something anyone is seriously trying to pass now. Still frustrating.)

  • Victor Savard

    Reading some of this stuff really brings back old memories Fred, like when sinner vic fell  
    in love with some of your writing in your pass blog and for less than minimum wage, mind ya, sinner vic would pretend he was a throll and troll around in his invisible ship trying to bring the comments over 1000 and believe “IT” or not salvage became a reality.

    Anyway! Fred call me crazy but a LOT of the problem comes from the past and long story short, “IT” is not really fair just to blame these so called Children of God and of the fallen “ONE” who believe that they truly are gods cause they were born with a so called silver and gold spoon in their mouth!.

    Victor! Victor! Victor! I guess “IT” is  just that when “IT” gets to a certain point “I” can’t help butt start to get frustrated with ya people, “I” want to shake all of ya’s UP and say “WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH YA!”

    STOP “IT” NOW sinner vic cause you’re giving me a bad name and “I’M” not even born with a silver golden spoon in my mouth butt me, myself and i know what you’re talking about and we do Sympathize with these little “ONE”.

    Sure ya do Victor! As long as we allow ya to post here and http://www.patheos.com/blogs/theanchoress/ and  http://splendoroftruth.com/curtjester/ butt sometimes not here  http://www.dwightlongenecker.com/Index.asp

    then every thing is OK! Right? :(

    Be nice sinner vic! Don’t be like that! After all, “IT” is Christmas Time, is “IT” not? :)

    Peace

  • AnonymousSam

    Not at all. Just leave the top of the machine open and let it be continuously resupplied by a belt feeder. Then gleefully brag about how that job used to cost so much before you replaced the CEO who did it with a machine. :p

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    I wonder if anyone has actually tried working out what those dock fees would price out like if they were, in fact, auctioned by sealed bids, or by Vickrey auction.

    I’ve heard of the most astonishing examples of parsimony from rich people over the years. In one case a plumbing contractor I knew of got stiffed on $6k worth of work because the owner (naturally, in the British Properties in North Vancouver) decided the contractor had failed to do some nebulously defined restoration of the lawn to its previous state.

    Whatever – the grounds for failure to pay were totally specious and it was obvious the homeowner was just hoping to get some free out of a guy who couldn’t exactly afford to let $6k get written off.

    It ended up going to small claims.

  • http://snarkthebold.blogspot.com/ Edo

    ‘Cause as it is, I don’t think this thing’s designed to run for days on end.

    You seem to be assuming that minimum-wage workers have some kind of right to be paid on time.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Please tell me the plumber won.

    This isn’t really a surprising story, though. The most common get-rich advice I’ve ever heard that doesn’t clearly have a scam at heart: earn enough to live comfortably, spend as though just scraping by.

  • Mark Z.

    How did we get to a place where if someone makes enough money, we have to give them a bonus to fire them?

    It’s not a bonus so much as a ransom. We pay them to go away quietly rather than fighting the loss of control, because they could cause a lot of damage to the company that way.

    Now if you’re a forklift driver, and you’re getting fired, and you say “For a million dollars I won’t ram my forklift into that case of oxygen tanks,” you will (1) be arrested, and (2) not get your million dollars. But executives don’t like calling the police on each other, so they’ll pay far more than a million dollars in Danegeld to the guy who’s getting fired, even though he doesn’t even have a forklift. This is called “class solidarity”.

  • JoshuaS

    Also, her critique seems to be of giving a certain sum to every citizen at regular intervals, which I think she’s unaware that that’s kind of an extreme-left position and not something anyone is seriously trying to pass now. Still frustrating.)

    You know what’s really weird about that? It’s an extreme-left position now, but it’s virtually identical to Richard Nixon’s Family Assistance Program, which would have provided a guaranteed minimum annual stipend of $1600 to all families with the federal government giving money to states who wanted to increase the payment. 

    The one that always baffles me is the idea of a Golden Parachute. Where did this come from? How did we get to a place where if someone makes enough money, we have to give them a bonus to fire them?

    Golden parachutes aren’t the same type of thing as unemployment insurance. Originally, they were designed specifically for CEOs who lost their jobs as a result of a merger, radical restructuring, or a hostile takeover — the idea was that it would encourage the CEOs to stick with the company and shepherd it through the uncertainty of the takeover process since they wouldn’t be distracted by having to look for another job right away. 

    I think it says a lot about our society that the most well-compensated person in the company has to be bribed and cajoled not to betray it the instant something bad happens to it. You would think that all the money they get as part of their ordinary compensation — and their employment contracts, and their personal relationship with the shareholders and employees, and their general sense of decency (okay, maybe not that last one) would breed some sort of sense of loyalty. 

    There are other reasons for them too, but that’s the main reason that the companies themselves give and it always bothered me that it was so obviously transparent.
     

  • EllieMurasaki

    it’s virtually identical to Richard Nixon’s Family Assistance Program, which would have provided a guaranteed minimum annual stipend of $1600 to all families with the federal government giving money to states who wanted to increase the payment.

    The things you never knew.

    (Though how far did $1600 go during the Nixon presidency? And what did he mean when he said ‘families’?)

  • JoshuaS

    Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t the greatest policy for a several reasons. You’re right that $1600, which was worth a lot more then than it is now, is still not that great. It would have been great in the South and the West, but many Northeastern states already did better than that already. The inflation issue that you note wasn’t addressed in the initial draft legislation ($1600 in the 70s isn’t the same as $1600 in 2012) — though historically Congress always at least tries to addresses that when they renew current modern welfare programs.

    But remember, this is the conservative position; it was based in large part on a position advocated by conservative economist Milton Friedman: the Negative Income Tax, where the government would establish essentially a minimum income level for each individual, enforced through direct disbursements of aid combined with a recalculation of their earned income adding up to the minimum income level (Nixon borrowed both of these ideas — the annual stipend as well as a new tax scheme for the earnings of poor people — so that they wouldn’t risk going over an arbitrary poverty line by taking a really badly-paying job).

    If you get both progressives and conservatives agreeing that the government should guarantee a stipend to poor citizens, that’s already half the battle. Now we’re just quibbling about how much the stipend should be — some liberals in Congress wanted to push the stipend up to $6500 or more per year.

    But instead we kind of went the other way — now even the most flaming liberals in Congress wouldn’t dream of even suggesting something that an archconservative Republican got away with decades ago.

    (Oh, and unlike the welfare system that existed prior, the FAP guaranteed this income to all families with dependent children — it didn’t have the old requirement that there be no man in the household to qualify.)

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    You joke, but then I think of the article I read once from a group of conservatives in favor of abolishing minimum wages, largely on the grounds of personal freedom. “If you don’t want to work for five cents an hour, just get a job somewhere else, stupid!”

    I get the impression that were minimum wage to be abolished, there would be a price war as every company tries to undercut every other company for how low they can get away with cutting wages.  After all, if they have more operating expenses than their competition, then their competition will out-profit them.  

    I am not inclined to believe in theories of deliberate conspiracy, but I do believe in a conflux of disparate interests all working separately toward similar goals.  The end result is much the same.  

  • EllieMurasaki

    I was wondering about childless adults supporting retired parents and about same-sex parents, too. But…if that was the conservative position…

    Sometimes I hate this country.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Unfortunately this is one of those friend of a friend stories, and I lost contact shortly after. :/

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Roughly, multiply by five to get from 1970s dollars to 2010s dollars. So that’s $8k.

    For the record, single adult employable welfare recipients in British Columbia get $7300 a year to live on.

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    And it gets across, very vividly, the point that a penny every five seconds is shit pay even for something as undemanding as turning a crank, and minimum-wage workers are invariably doing much harder things and being just as bored at it for that same penny every five seconds.

    I remember when I worked for Game Crazy after college.  It was minimum wage retail work, with demands for continued employment (sales quotas and amount of other cleaning and organizing work that needed to be done) that could not be practically met in the hours we were given to work.  The only time I got a raise was when minimum wage went up, and only then to meet the new minimum.  

    Plus they had a very strict computer personality screening system that an applicant had to pass with at least a 90% “good” rate to even be considered for hiring.  This lead to two types of employees, the ones who can be treated like crap and stoically soldier on because that was their job and they were going to do it damn it (like me) and those who could and did just brazenly and convincingly lied on their application.  

    Understandably, the later type of employee was bad for “loss prevention” which resulted in the company cracking down on all employees as potential thieves, with draconian security and policies which only made the job that much more difficult to do, let alone do well.  

  • JoshuaS

    I agree, it’s not great, but as a baseline to start from I think it’s a lot better than the baseline we have now (where the conservative position is to not just remove welfare but to attack labor protections too, and liberals have to shift to the right just to avoid being branded as Bolshevik operatives — can you imagine Barack Obama or Elizabeth Warren suggesting a $8000 guaranteed stipend to anyone?)

    Worst case scenario, if the conservatives have a proposal that has too low benefits that aren’t inclusive of same-sex parents, childless families, etc, we can amend that through Congress (Nixon’s proposal passed through the more conservative House and could have been modified and improved through the Senate, which was more liberal and more likely to support higher benefits if it hadn’t been killed — and, of course, it would have been expanded and modified over time just as Medicare and SS have.)

  • MissMikey

     You can also use this nifty calculator from the Bureau of Labor Statistics:

    http://data.bls.gov/cgi-bin/cpicalc.pl

  • AnonymousSam

    Nixon also once proposed a healthcare plan which would entail requiring employers to provide plans for their employees, with the government itself providing scaled-by-income plans for anybody who fell beneath a certain income level. Figures, huh?

  • LoneWolf343

    You want to talk about the inequality of justice in America? Look no further than the Business Plot, where some prominent businessmen plotted to overthrow the US Government and establish a fascist dictatorship. Fortunately, the “Man Who Would Be King” ratted them out to Congress, but how many prosecutions resulted from this exposure?

    0.

  • Matri

    But how dumb do you have to be to KEEP FALLING FOR IT?

    Two words: Fox News.

  • Matri

    the idea was that it would encourage the CEOs to stick with the company
    and shepherd it through the uncertainty of the takeover process since
    they wouldn’t be distracted by having to look for another job right
    away.

    That makes no sense. You’re trying to get the CEO to stay by giving them every incentive to do a shitty job in an attempt to get themselves fired? It’s either a ransom or a punishment, plain & simple. See Wally.

  • http://mistformsquirrel.deviantart.com/ mistformsquirrel

     True enough. (x.x)  Eugh.

  • JoshuaS

    “See Wally”??
    I think I didn’t explain it right. The “Golden Parachute” is a clause in the employment contract that says something like, “If there’s a merger or a hostile takeover and you lose your job as a result (because this company is bought by another company that will put one of their own guys in charge), you’ll get this crazy-huge amount of money, so just stay calm and keep running things when you hear about the merger.”

    I agree it’s disturbing that someone who is usually so lavishly-compensated by a company needs to be bribed not to screw the company over — and it’s interesting that most of the other employees of the company who are also subject to being made redundant as a result of a merger aren’t bribed to prevent them from committing sabotage or stealing/reselling company secrets (if they violate their fiduciary responsibility, they’ll get sued or blacklisted).
     

  • Albanaeon

    “her critique seems to be of giving a certain sum to every citizen at
    regular intervals, which I think she’s unaware that that’s kind of an
    extreme-left position and not something anyone is seriously trying to
    pass now. Still frustrating.)”

    Which that extreme hippy Nixon started considering while in office…

    How far we’ve fallen…

  • Don Gisselbeck

    Given a surplus of labor, we do’t need to invoke conspiracies to see that there will be downward pressure on wages. The policies that reduce this pressure; minimum wage, support of unions, welfare, unemployment insurance, limits on length of working life, birth control, abortion, food stamps, are all radically oppposed by the predator class and it’s supporters.

  • banancat

     Because those rich people promise to legislate against abortion rights if the middle and lower class people just look the other way on these economic issues.


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