Who Does That Help (redux)

February 22, 2011

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a post contending that our faculty union ask the question, “Who does that help?” in response to every management initiative that seems to benefit nobody in any clear way.  The point is to remind management that beyond the spreadsheets, formulae, and policies are actual human lives that count for something–including their own! 

The events in Wisconsin, that is, the proposal that state employees lose collective bargaining rights so that the Governor can balance the budget (a claim that’s nonsense on its face), invite the same question.

If public employees in Wisconsin give up their right to bargain anything other than salary, who does that help?  It helps the insurance companies that can change fees and coverages willy-nilly because they’re not negotiable anymore; it benefits school system managers who can make and enforce absurd curricular and other working conditions demands; it benefits employees NOT AT ALL.  And neither does it solve a single penny of the budget “crisis.”

If the public employees accept the requirement that they have recertify their unions every year, who does that help?  It helps opponents of unions who get much more frequent opportunities to intervene in organizing efforts.  While some people might contend, “Well, that’s just democracy,” the fact that unions all have had certification elections in the first place (and could vote to decertify any time they wanted) makes that claim ancillary if not dishonest.  That is, for those of you who like to shout “Elections have consequences,” yes, they do! 

If public employees agree that non-union-members don’t have to pay fair share, who does that help?  It helps the employees who then ditch their union membership but still benefit from the work the unions do–unless the unions then decide not to represent those workers.  The reptilian part of my brain is OK with the idea that people could bail on their union memberships–if they then chose to negotiate their own salaries and benefits; if they never filed any grievances; if they never accepted any of the workplace protections the unions won for them; and so on.  No, I wouldn’t really want to see that. 

The short version is this: Governor Walker’s proposal helps the public-sector workers of Wisconsin NOT AT ALL.  It helps the working people of Wisconsin NOT AT ALL.  It helps wealthy private interests who want to bust unions.  It helps one political party that hates unions.  That is, it concedes huge amounts of political power to people whose ethics are already so questionable that to give them even more power is, at best, utterly and completely foolhardy. 

And who does THAT help?

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Where were the Tea Partiers when…

January 7, 2011

This list flies around e-mail distribution lists from time to time.  A debate I was having on Facebook last night with a high school friend who’s very conservative made me think about it; I’m glad I saved it the last time I received it.

Subject: YOU FINALLY GOT MAD…

You didn’t get mad
when the Supreme Court stopped a legal
recount and appointed a President.

You didn’t get mad
when Cheney allowed Energy company
officials to dictate Energy policy and push us to invade Iraq.

You didn’t get mad
when a covert CIA operative got outed.

You didn’t get mad
when the Patriot Act got passed.

You didn’t get mad
when we illegally invaded a country that posed no threat to us.

You didn’t get mad
when we spent over 800 billion (and counting) on said illegal war.

You didn’t get mad
when Bush borrowed more money from
foreign sources than the previous 42 Presidents combined.

You didn’t get mad
when over 10 billion dollars in cash just disappeared in Iraq.

You didn’t get mad
when you found out we were torturing people.

You didn’t get mad
when Bush embraced trade and outsourcing
policies that shipped 6 million American jobs out of the country.

You didn’t get mad
when the government was illegally wiretapping Americans.

You didn’t get mad
when we didn’t catch Bin Laden.
You didn’t get mad
when Bush rang up 10 trillion dollars in combined budget and current account deficits.

You didn’t get mad
when you saw the horrible conditions at Walter Reed.

You didn’t get mad
when we let a major US city, New Orleans, drown.

You didn’t get mad
when we gave people who had more money
than they could spend, the filthy rich, over a trillion
dollars in tax breaks.

You didn’t get mad
with the worst 8 years of job creations in several decades.

You didn’t get mad
when over 200,000 US Citizens lost their
lives because they had no health insurance.

You didn’t get mad
when lack of oversight and regulations
from the Bush Administration caused US Citizens to lose 12
trillion dollars in investments, retirement, and home values.

You finally got mad


when a black man was elected President
and decided that people in America deserved the right
to see a doctor if they are sick. Yes, illegal wars, lies, corruption,
torture, job losses by the millions, stealing your tax dollars to make the
rich richer, and the worst economic disaster since 1929 were all okay with
you,
but helping fellow Americans who are sick…Oh, Hell No!!


Giving up their healthcare isn’t the right thing to ask

January 4, 2011

So, Chuck Schumer is joining the chorus of “progressives” recommending that Republicans who oppose healthcare reform should give up their government-sponsored healthcare benefits.

While I don’t disagree with the principle (you hate public services, don’t use them), I think the argument here is really weak.  Why?  Because the millionaires who comprise most of the US Congress can afford to give up their government healthcare.  In other words, their hypocrisy isn’t the real problem.  The real problem is the utter failure of empathy that drives rich bastards to argue that poor people deserve to suffer and die because they’re poor.

So the proposal should go something like this:

Try living for a year on the very low pay and extremely poor benefits, if any, that most current US citizens are living on.  See what it feels like to have to choose between medicine and food for your kids.  See what it feels like to know you need medical help but simply can’t afford it.  See what it feels like to send your hungry children to school because you had to help your ailing parents pay for medicine.  See what it feels like to get booted off an insurance policy because of some trumped-up pre-existing condition (this happened to me; fortunately, the condition wasn’t anything life-threatening).

Then come back and tell the rest of us that we don’t deserve access to reasonable healthcare at reasonable prices.

If Republicans aren’t willing to experience the kind of life they’re causing others to have to live because of their extraordinary greed and cruelty, they should at least have to cop to their inhumaneness at loud, in public, every minute of every day.


Obama and Socialism redux

February 10, 2010

Dear Tea Party Activists:

When are you going to get this?  I’m not talking about the Republicans in Washington, DC, or the ones who write the talking points memos.  I’m talking to you, the “activists,” the ones who believe you’re the vanguard of a revolution.

It’s hard to be the vanguard of revolution when you’re such buffoons.  Here’s a simple example of how flagrantly wrong you are–

Barack Obama is not a socialist.  He’s not anti-capitalist.  He doesn’t advocate workers’ controlling the means of production.  He doesn’t advocate government control of much of anything.

Your leadership keeps telling you contradictory things, both of which you continue to repeat willy-nilly.  On the one hand, they tell you Obama is a socialist.  On the other, they tell you he’s in bed with the banks, financial planners, pharmaceutical companies, and insurers.  If your IQ is above 20 or so, you ought to see the problem with that.  It’s NOT POSSIBLE to be both anti-corporate and in bed with corporations at the same time.

I would agree, without a second’s hesitation, that the second claim is true.  Obama is as or more pro-corporate than George W. Bush or any Republican has ever been.

So, before you hit the streets with signs accusing Barack Obama of taking two contradictory positions, open your damn eyes.  This isn’t complicated at all.

UPDATED 3:26 PM 2/10/2010:

As if you needed more evidence showing how pro-corporate Obama is (which obviously you do, or you’d quit calling him a Socialist)–

http://www.alternet.org/economy/145628/is_obama_committing_political_suicide_president_calls_obscene_wall_st._bonuses_%27part_of_the_free_market_system%27

In this article, Obama equates high salaries for talented professional athletes with large bonuses for “savvy” bankers.


Ranting about health care

August 2, 2009

I’ve made comments like this several times on my Facebook pages, but I need to put it here too…

Let me make this simple.  Anybody who opposes universal heath care (not universal health insurance, which doesn’t solve anything) has no moral ground from which to argue.  You (if you’re one of those people) quite simply don’t care whether people live or die.  Especially if you’re a “pro-life” conservative, the logic of your own position dictates that you should support open access health care for all.  If you’re so willing to go to the mat for fetuses, why not everybody else?

All the bullshit about “socializing” medicine is just that–bullshit.  And those of you who throw that word around know it.  “Government-run” does not equal “socialist.”  If it did, that would mean the entire defense industry (of which you’re so proud) is “socialist” since all its money comes from taxpayers via government contract.  If you’re really committed to privatization, you can start making that argument when you fully, unquestioningly support putting an end to corporate welfare.  In the meantime, you’re a hypocrite if you try to have this both ways.

The line about “healthcare rationing” is a hoax too.  Right now, people who have insurance, unless it’s really good insurance (and even then sometimes), have their care rationed.  The difference is that it’s rationed by organizations (health insurance companies) that have a priority other than your health.  Driven by profit margins first, it’s in their interests to make sure: (1) people stay sick so we need more health care for them to ration; and (2) people don’t get expensive treatments that cut into their profits.  Neither of those is good for any of us, unless you happen to be an owner of an insurance company.

This isn’t complicated, folks.  The ONLY people out there who have a serious interest in preventing universal healthcare are those who profit, at the expense of all the rest of us, on sickness.  Anybody who buys into the Republican and Bluedog Democrat hype about how universal healthcare would harm us just isn’t paying attention.  And before you (those who disagree with me) get your dander up, I know perfectly well that there are problems with government run systems elsewhere.  I also know that there are worse problems with the private system now.  Hands down, I’ll take a healthcare system that isn’t grounded in denial of coverage and the propagation of illness–that is, a system that’s designed to do exactly the opposite of what it says–over the current system any day.

And for the record, yes, this means I do NOT support the current legislation, even in its drafty forms, circulating in either house of Congress.  They’re both filled with giveaways to the criminals who have gotten us into this mess in the first place.

Single-payer, universal healthcare, without any qualification, is the only way to go.  It really is that simple.