Tag Archives: activism

Supreme Court against the worker, ruling on dues and your future

The Supreme Court is hearing a case on the collection of union dues. The dispute brought by a group of California teachers who believe that mandatory collection of dues is a violation of their right of free speech as dues are political. The outcome of the case will have a huge impact on public sector unions. But what of the private sector? Will they be affected by a Supreme Court ruling against the public sector unions. In time all of the middle-class will be impacted and not in a positive way. Once a percentage of dues or all are withheld in the public sector the unions will have less strength to bargain. Along with less money to lobby labor friendly politicians in elections. Politicians and election donations, this the crux of the case in the Supreme Court. But what the short-sighted don’t seem to get is without the labor friendly politician, collective bargaining becomes much more difficult. Just take a glance at the destruction caused by Governor Christie in New Jersey and it’s not just to the teachers, it is all of the public sector unions. Imposed caps on salary, mandatory percentage payments for healthcare. Back breaking costs pushed on to the worker. And all of this will impact the private sector as wages will be driven down.

I struggle to believe that if the California teacher(s) who brought this action to the Supreme Court have even thought of where their salary and benefits will be if they succeed. Or where they would be if they never had the benefit of unions and dues collection. Some in the public sector think this will be a win for them as well. Maybe in the end they pay less dues. With those less dues they will in turn get less back from their unions and salaries, benefits will erode. With money there is power. Sticking together is the only answer to the big money that is spent by the few to break your unions. So to those who don’t want to pay dues and still benefit from unions….. go take a job as a temp somewhere, you may get a better appreciation for what you have. salary guide to temping 

 

 

Socialism, Bernie Sanders, hate of capitalism, reality

Bernie Sander’s is a socialist and doesn’t believe in capitalism. Sanders has fought off this label and accusation with some success, but  the hits just keep on coming with no end in sight. If Sanders is a Socialist and hater of capitalism, is that so bad? Is capitalism all that great? These ideas have been sparked by recent personal events and a television commercial.

Emergency Card I carry noting placement of stents
Emergency Card I carry noting placement of stents

The personal event:

I have been on the mend now for five weeks after suffering a heart attack (that doctors said was major). I  had  stents (3) placed in the heart after it was found I had two blockages of 100%. I am only 49 years old. But like many American’s I have burned the candle at both ends. Ate basically whatever I wanted. Enjoyed alcohol, and cigarettes. Basically enjoyed many available capitalist products of American life that many of us enjoy. I blame nobody for my predicament but myself.

That is until I saw a Wendy’s commercial.

Junior cheese burger, 6 chicken nuggets, fries and a drink, $4.00.  Heck yeah that’s a lot of food  for the money. It’s also a lot of FAT, Calories and Cholesterol too! So in the capitalist society that we live in, it is okay to sell food that has more fat and cholesterol in one meal ( for $4.00 to boot)  then is recommended by the country’s health department in an entire day? Yes it is to many of us. Can you recall the anger and push back when New York City put limits on the size of selling  a soda? The Nanny State! Screamed the likes of Hannity!!” telling people what they could do and not do.” But  now post heart attack I feel differently. Could I have benefited if there was some government intervention when it came to my fast-food habits and other habits?

More on Capitalism>

From our wonderful capitalist system that allows to sell huge amounts of fat and unhealthy food to millions of American’s we have some winners besides the obvious, McDonald’s, BK and Wendy’s.

1> Health Care: The cost of 4.5 days I spent in the ER, ICU and getting surgery to put in the 3 stents? Roughly $195,000. Thank God for saving me and more importantly, blessing me with good health care.

>Nearly 800,000 Americans die each year from heart disease, 1 in every 3 deaths. By 2030 the cost of heart disease will cost $818 billion, with lost productivity exceeding $275 billion. (source cdcfoundation.org)

2> The drug companies. I am now on three medications with my cost for 3 month’s being $85.00. The insurance cost just for one month over $275.00

Can we blame capitalism for America’s poor health? Drug companies, hospitals and doctors are receiving windfall profits off of our poor health. Yet we hear many complaining of the rising cost of prescription drugs and health care. With politicians promising action! Is it that the politicians are too late? They really need to address the real issue (poor diets/health/habits) before the damage is done. This would include Senator Sanders.

What do I mean by address?

Federal standards on requiring all restaurants to supply nutritional information on their products. Packaging that clearly shows high sodium, fat or cholesterol.

A health tax on businesses/restaurants and food manufacturer’s that sell food that is unhealthy for consumers.  This tax will directly support medicare and health initiatives.

Hating Capitalism? It certainly depends on what parts of capitalism that you look at. Is the purchaser of products responsible for their purchases? Example:  McDonald’s serves a double quarter pound burger that has 70% your daily allowance for fat, add a large fry and you are at 94% ( nutrition.mcdonalds.com)   should they hold some responsibility to their customers health? Or maybe the federal government needs to step in as the government in NY City did and force business to comply to a healthier standard? 

Back to Senator Sanders and his alleged hate for capitalism. To my knowledge I have not heard him discussing any of the above. All huge profits for business! These profits made at the expense of us, all the citizens of the United States. Could we make different choices? Sure we could and many of us do. But many of us don’t and can’t or won’t. That is until it is too late, even then many of us don’t change. ( While in the waiting room of my cardiologist I heard a heart patient giving excuses to his doctor on why he couldn’t quit smoking. ) Tobacco companies have been held to some level of responsibility but still manufacture and sell their unhealthy products.

My position on Senator Sanders, he isn’t socialist enough and he doesn’t hate capitalism nearly enough. But maybe he’ll read this and add these issues to his presidential agenda.

Hate of capitalism? Balance is the key word, a balanced capitalist system is what we need for a happy, prosperous, long healthy life!

 

 

Burger King merger, political nonsense

facebook losses
image source: www.clusterflock.org

The recent Burger King, Tim Horton’s announced merger has you feeling? Angry, shocked, or? Myself I am in disbelief. Not of the actual merger or Burger King’s new home of Canada, but of the outrage. Politicians standing up, and speaking out against the new Burger King. “Avoiding Taxes”, you must be kidding! These outraged politicians are the same people who have created the tax game that BK and all the rest of corporate America are playing in. Why should we be surprised? Or is it, the politician playing their game? The game of outrage, acting as if they will do something to protect the tax-base, the middle-class? Washington politicians will they do something about Burger King? Why didn’t they do anything about General Electric when they paid NO taxes?
The issue at hand is not Burger King becoming Canadian and avoiding U.S. Taxes. The issue is the tax-code and the politicians who think we are all stupid! (Though there is no evidence that taxes paid to the U.S will be any less as Burger Kings are franchises.

One big political stunt to get us to believe the little guys being protected. From Obama on down, it’s just political foolishness that far too many of us are believing.

America, the land of less opportunity

stars and stripes
pic: Rebecca Betzler

America, the land of opportunity. This idea is what drives immigration, legal and illegal. Immigration is what built America and it will also be what destroys it. That is if we continue on our current path of inaction.

It has been nearly ten years since the banking crisis almost collapsed this nation. Since that time, America has battled (or pretended to) many a fight along the way . Unemployment, immigration, the housing crisis just to name a few. The response by our government, some believe good, others not so good. We have also seen to some degree civil unrest most notably the  Occupy Movement. Now just with this little bit said, where do you believe we are as a country? Has our country become stronger or weaker during this period?

Economically we are far weaker as a nation as well as a people. Immigration, many might say, has played a role in weakening our country. I am not of that belief, at least not in its stated form. This brings me back to the opening sentence, “the land of opportunity.” Opportunity is in America for the immigrant for now, but this will not last. The fight for those entry level jobs, those according to the Republican Party nobody wants, is becoming  a real fight. And the battle for these minimum wage jobs is becoming more difficult with each passing day. We have not built strong opportunities since the collapse of our economy. Not anywhere near what we did post World War 2. The jobs that our country has been creating, low paid service jobs. And we who are citizens are or soon will be fighting for these opportunities. Not because we want them, but because we will NEED them. The creation of living wage opportunities, like America experienced during the Post WW2 era, is that possible? Only if we begin to bring the jobs home. How do we do this?

Washington, that is where it begins and ends. Starting with not your vote, but your candidate. The positions of  your candidate on immigration and job creation, go hand in hand. We cannot continue to allow the growth of our population without strong job growth (outside the service industry). So your candidate must answer also to the tax-code and incentives for business to grow American jobs. The tax-code would also need to cover tax-penalties for shipping jobs overseas. Lastly we get to education. Making college more affordable and having a GI Bill that will cover in its entirety educational expense for veterans. Many complex issues for a candidate to answer, but we must be asking. America’s in decline? Take a good hard look around you and what do you see? Poverty is on the rise. Incomes have flat-lined for the working. The problems facing us are not singular issues. It is not just about jobs, immigration, food-stamps or a GI Bill. Though we are fighting as if they are.

Immigration will be the final nail in the coffin of America the great. How? It is all about jobs and education. If you look at America’s past we have cycled in new immigrants. As the second generation of each group began to work they moved out of the lower-end jobs. Today we do not have this. They are coming and staying in those jobs. Washington hasn’t created any meaningful new jobs to move up to. If Washington continues on with this, it is simple. Too many workers for the low-paying jobs.Washington has two choices, do something about jobs/education or stop immigration. If America cannot provide opportunity for its own people why are we allowing more to come?

The solar White House

image source: en wikipedia.org
image source: en wikipedia.org

The White House’s new solar panels are installed capping a project originally announced by President Obama in 2010. The project did not begin until late 2013, the cost to the taxpayer? Unknown as security issues will keep us from knowing how much and how many panels were installed. The solar panels will provide hot water and some electricity for the White House.

This is not a first for the White House. President Carter installed a solar water heating system in the late 1970’s at a cost of $30,000. Quickly removed by President Reagan when he took office.President George W. Bush did return to some solar while in office, powering a maintenance building, some of the mansion and heating his pool with the sun.

What is absent in the “solar story”, is the rest of our beloved government. First, they are in Washington to spend our money prudently are they not? With attacks on the middle-class and social programs, where is the cost saving ideas when it comes to them? The White House and it’s new solar panels should have been mandated by our government long ago. The House and the Senate buildings should also be powered by solar along with any building within the Federal Parks system ( without destroying its visual beauty). Saving us the taxpayer money on the “cost of government”. The solar panels are expected to return the full investment in eight years.

The cost to run the government, that is the home. When you or I need to buckle down and restrict the budget we look for savings wherever we can get it. And yes, sometimes we also spend money to save money in the long run. That is the key! The long run, our government is unable to look forward to the long run. They need to be held accountable to this idea.

The question that will be left unanswered at least until 2016 is, “how long will the solar panels remain on the White House this time?