Archive for February, 2011

something to share

February 25, 2011

The reason we do things like this is to share some of the things we find that we also enjoy. I found this today and thought I would share it with anyone who reads this:

http://www.welovedonegal.com/dunkineely-trad-music-festival.html

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“….the more they stay the same.”

February 24, 2011

The Republicans went through the entire last election cycle telling us many things. They said government spending needed to be cut. They said that government was “interfering” in our daily lives. They told us they would change how things were done legislatively.

As usual, what they told us was a load of bullshit. Don’t believe that, think on the following examples:

 

*Despite the much-publicized cancellation of a new engine for the already-overpriced F-35, money spent on defense will increase in the proposed ‘budget resolution’ now making it’s way through Congress. So will money given to other countries for military aid. Money for the State Department to do such silly things as help foster democracy and support friendly governments in a non-military fashion, however, takes a major hit.

*Where DO the Republicans find any money they can cut? The EPA takes a major hit, as do the National Endowments for the Arts and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Amtrak is zapped. Sound familiar? It should, it’s the ‘usual suspects’ on conservative’s “hit list” of “unnecessary” government programs/agencies.

*All of these cuts are in a single huge spending bill that has been substituted for several smaller, more focused bills that had been before the Democratic-controlled previous Congress. Remember how they denounced healthcare reform as being too massive? And how loudly they objected to other bills they saw as too over-reaching? I guess the Republicans only object to such catch-all masses of paperwork if they’re not the authors.

*Thrown into the above ‘kitchen sink’ budgetary mess is one of the classic targets for Republican conservatives: abortion. No money to Planned Parenthood (no matter that it is already restricted from using any government money to provide abortions). No money for any group that councils abortions overseas. So much for their talk about “keeping government out of our private lives”.

*Meanwhile, no doubt in an effort to reduce the “interference” of government in people’s lives, multiple Republican-controlled state legislatures are proposing to pass laws taking away the rights of state employees to bargain collectively. That those rights derive from the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, a document the Republicans love to remind us they revere, seems to bother them not one bit, thank you very much.

I could go on for some time, but the point is simple: for all their talk, when you get right down to it, the Republicans are after their same wish-list of targets, be it a woman’s right to choose, a worker’s right to have a union to represent him, an agency that watches out for America’s environment (and gets in the way of corporate profits), or whatever. They also don’t give a damn is they have to trample on things like our constitutional rights. After all, as Wisconsin’s governor put it when asked why he was pushing ahead in the face of massive protests, he has ‘the majority’, and he and his fellows will use it to crush anyone who doesn’t agree with them.

Welcome to freedom, Republican style!

Are we seeing the beginning of the enslavement of the American worker?

February 11, 2011

You expect when things are tough in the economy, businesses will take as much advantage as they can of their workers. I think, however, that the current economic downturn has brought out some of the worst parts of this management strategy. A couple of cases to point:

Chrysler has had a hard time of it in the car market, and has been hanging on by it’s fingernails for quite some time. It was purchased last year by Fiat, and as a European concern, you might think it’s attitude towards it’s workers would be more accommodating.

WRONG!

We had a major snowstorm around these parts a couple of weeks ago. Conditions were bad enough that many towns were brought to a standstill for all of the following day, in some cases, more than a day. Schools in many cases ended up closing early on the day the storm hit, Tuesday, and in many cases were closed for the rest of the week. The area saw snowfalls from 13 to over 20 inches, and winds blew in the 30-40 MPH throughout most of the period. Many local companies either closed early or sent their workers home before conditions deteriorated too badly. Chrysler’s plant in Belvedere plant is a major facility, and they run three shifts most days. On that Tuesday, their second shift reported for work as scheduled and worked while conditions outside got worse and worse. Workers began to ask about leaving early, due to concerns that they might not be able to get home if the roads were closed. Company officials came back with a simple message: anyone who left early would be fired. So everyone kept working. By the time the shift ended, conditions were severe enough that all the roads out of town were closed, leaving many workers with no place to go. The company, after the fact, said they had arranged for housing in local hotels for those workers who were trapped in town. Workers on the shift tell a very different story, that when the shift ended, they were left to dig their cars out on their own, and that no one from management passed along word of the hotels being available. This lead to many having to arrange lodgings for multiple days and pick up the cost out of their own pockets. No reimbursement was offered to these employees either, and feelings were hard enough that the company scheduled a meeting to discuss the matter. In a second exhibit of how little the company cared for it’s workers safety, just as the meeting was to start, a gasket on a valve in a fuel line carrying gasoline through the plant ruptured, leading to something around 300 gallons of fuel being spilled. Gasoline fumes are highly flammable, and when ignited, can cause extremely powerful explosions. 300 gallons would be more than enough to generate a very large explosion, and an equally impressive fire. Rather than move the workers out of the plant, though, management moved the employees to a “safe” area. How “safe” it was might be judged by the fact that several dozen eventually ended up going to the hospital complaining of nausea. While they were confined, many workers asked if it might not be safer to just have everyone leave the building. Management’s response? Anyone who left would be fired!

In another instance of ‘We’re in charge, and we can do what the fuck we want!’, there is a story in the papers that the new governor of Wisconsin will ask the legislature to strip all public service employees of their collective bargaining rights. The governor, who is a ‘Tea-Party’ style Republican, says he was talking about this on the campaign trail, and no one should be surprised with this request. He claims that this is the only way the state stands a chance of balancing its budget. In this writer’s mind, whether such a move is even legal should be Question #1 on the minds of those legislatures who might even contemplate such a radical move. If they vote to pass such a bill, they would be unilaterally terminating a contract they agreed to, which in and of itself is legally questionable. Whether it is even constitutional to deny people the right to free association, which is the heart of the right to bargain collectively, is something else they might wish to consider.

What these examples illustrate is a thing to be feared by anyone who works for someone else: the beginning of the enslavement of the American worker. If our employers can tell us to stay on the job, no matter the risk to our safety, what comes next? Will the conditions we work in slowly but steadily get worse as employers decide to save the money “wasted” on workplace safety? Will we be told to work on, regardless of how long we’ve been there, because our replacements can’t make it in? Will the agreements we thought we were working under suddenly become just so much toilet paper for our “betters” to wipe the asses on when it become convenient for them? Where WILL it end?

We’re saved, we’re saved…..okay, maybe not.

February 5, 2011

When they were on the campaign trail last fall, the Republicans made much of their desire to cut the “wasteful” spending the Democrats had “imposed” on the American taxpayer. They were also derided what they saw as the Democrat’s tendency to package several bills into one far more massive piece of legislation. No, no, they insisted, these things would be a thing of the past once they were in power.

Well, that was their story, and so far, they haven’t stuck to it.

The “new” budget being proposed by the new Republican-controlled House is a combination of what had been several pieces of budgetary legislation that the Democrats had put forward late in the last session of that same body. Why all those separate bills needed to be lumped together might be easier to understand if you look at the details. Here’s a link to a good story that might give you a hint:

 

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20110205/ap_on_re_us/us_keeping_congress_flush

 

While this piece of legislation hasn’t been put up for discussion yet, I wonder if the Republicans will be as welcoming of input from the other side as they once accused the Democrats of being. My bet? Oh, I’d bet they won’t be even half as interested in getting any input from anyone who does not agree with them as the folks they decried for ignoring any other voices.

So here we are, boys and girls, once again watching the folks who promised to save us instead getting ready to make life worse….while making sure their lives (and those of their supporters) get a whole lot better. Aren’t you glad about the way things have gone?