The Watering Hole: Friday, February 25, 2011

Don’t it Turn My Red States, Blue?

Unions, the Middle Class, the American Economy and the American Dream were dealt a fatal blow under President Clinton. To be sure, the mortal wound was not immediately fatal, nor even noticed. We were too busy investigating cigars and stained dresses. It went through both houses of Congress with over a 90% vote, so a veto was out of the question. And besides, Clinton was balancing the budget and paying off the national debt.

But there it was, festering in the background, leading to factory closures and job losses that never made the national scene: NAFTA. North Atlantic Free Trade Agreement.

With a “Free Trade” Agreement, manufacturing moves to the least regulated environment, taking jobs with it. That is exactly what happened, and continues to happen. In a global economy without any protective tarrifs, American workers compete for wages against the labor pool of third world countries. They lose, and will continue to lose, until the standard of living, and wages, of workers in third world countries equals that of the American Worker. That means the American Worker’s standard of living must necessarily decline, while that of his or her third world counterpart increases.

The rich, on the other hand, increase their holdings no matter what.

The assault on the American Worker begain in earnest theses past few days, in Wisconsin. The only voices getting press time in the national media are those blaming unions for the decline of the middle class. They’re right, but for the wrong reason. Unions created the middle class. Their wage and hour demands didn’t break corporations, nor “force” corporations to ship jobs overseas.

No, it is the fault of Unions that they did not fight the fight they had to, years ago, to see to it that, while any Corporation may set up shop wherever it wants, Unions should have insisted that Corporations pay prevailing U.S. wages and abide by U.S. regulations regarding wages, hours, working conditions, benefits, and environmental protections, unless, of course, local regulations were more stringent.

By not fighting, to the point of national strikes, Unions have allowed their own downfall. The current protestations in Wisconsin notwithstanding, unless people go on a national strike, Unions and unionism will lose.

This is our daily open thread — as always, your thoughts on this, or any other subject, are welcome.

119 thoughts on “The Watering Hole: Friday, February 25, 2011

  1. No, it is the fault of Unions that they did not fight the fight they had to, years ago, to see to it that, while any Corporation may set up shop wherever it wants, Unions should have insisted that Corporations pay prevailing U.S. wages and abide by U.S. regulations regarding wages, hours, working conditions, benefits, and environmental protections, unless, of course, local regulations were more stringent.

    Amen and thanks for the post, BnF.

    Being ever optimistic, I see a ray of light in the Wisconsin protests. Maybe workers start to realize the street is the place to be now. If they don’t fight back they might as well enter a time machine and head back to the Manchester Mills of the 1900s.

  2. I am really pissed off that President Obama isn’t being more supportive of the protesters in Madison. He made one comment and that’s it. And when he was running he swore he’d walk a picket line if workers were on strike. He’s always appeasing the right and I’m sick of it.

  3. The Chicago AFTRA/SAG office is offering bus rides to Madison tomorrow. That’s really important because so many Chicago residents don’t own cars.

  4. I think the GOP has blown their wad in Wisconsin. In Ohio, Republican lawmakers agreed to modify a bill that would have banned collective bargaining, allowing state workers to negotiate on wages. Michigan’s GOP governor offered to negotiate with public employees rather than create political gridlock. Indiana Republican Gov. Daniels called on GOP lawmakers to abandon their “right to work” bill that would have made it a misdemeanor for an employer to require workers to become or remain members of a labor union.

    Increasingly, it seems to me, Scott Walker’s heavy-handed political gamesmanship is hurting the cause of tackling deficits and debt in the states. It’s a classic case of over-reach. I think the White House sees this too and is letting the GOP implode all on its own. This is Obama showing how the Federal government can be “small.”

  5. KAMPALA, Uganda (AP) — Uganda’s recently re-elected president says he will “eat” his challenger who disputed poll results and called for peaceful protests.

    Eat probably shouldn’t be in quotes. After all, this is Uganda, where Idi Amin was accused of cannibalism.

  6. muse – from Krugman’s article…
    Instead of focusing on the urgent problems of a shattered economy and society, which would soon descend into a murderous civil war, those Bush appointees were obsessed with imposing a conservative ideological vision. Indeed, with looters still prowling the streets of Baghdad, L. Paul Bremer, the American viceroy, told a Washington Post reporter that one of his top priorities was to “corporatize and privatize state-owned enterprises” — Mr. Bremer’s words, not the reporter’s — and to “wean people from the idea the state supports everything.”

    And how’s that worked out for the Iraqis?
    Iraq saw the day’s worst violence. Thousands marched on government buildings and clashed with security forces in cities across the country in the largest anti-government protests here since political unrest began spreading in the Arab world several weeks ago.
    In three northern Iraqi cities, security forces trying to push back crowds opened fire, killing nine demonstrators. Two more were killed in western Iraq.

    In the capital of Baghdad, demonstrators knocked down blast walls, threw rocks and scuffled with club-wielding troops.

    The protests were fueled by anger over corruption, chronic unemployment and shoddy public services.

    Mission Accomplished, GWMoron & Darth Satan.

  7. Z, The Oregon coast is so beautiful, but south of like Cannon Beach it’s a windy place. Perfect for a windmill generator powering your domicile…
    I was hopin you’d be headed toward Washington…snifff.

  8. There will be a protest march in Philadelphia at LOVE Park on Saturday. If you are in the area, join in.

    I don’t usually post songs in the comments but I couldn’t keep from posting this one. It was appropriate 15 years ago and it is still appropriate now. That’s sad.

  9. No stranger to small abodes, the smallest I have been able to successfully live in (by myself) was 200 square feet.
    An acquaintance of John Muir had a summer camp in a hollow sequoia.
    This was a fairly common practice in the Pacific Northwest in the settlement days.
    I once found a mountainside in the Cascades east of Seattle that had numerous standing hollow red cedar stumps, 30 to 50 feet tall and 8 to 12 feet in diameter. It would have required multiple floors and a winding staircase around the outside. I might have tried it if I thought I could get away with, but my girlfriend didn’t think much of the idea either.

  10. Zooey, you better land somewhere fun because when Taylor leaves for college I’m coming to visit! But we’ll have to go out for coffee because I don’t make it my husband does. 🙂

  11. We are blowing away in VA today. At least we had rain, last week the 60mph winds spread a lot of fires, even closed I-95 at one point.

    • Outstanding, we were supposed to have high winds and tons of snow last night, and they never arrived. Not that I mind…

      The sun is brilliant, so the below freezing temps aren’t so bad.

  12. Weathermen are calling for a low of 32 — maybe lower — and possibly snow tomorrow night in my area of Los Angeles.


    Geebus Priebus, I’m staying off the roads with these gringoes.

  13. Coffee is a basic food group

    I missed that memo. Tea for me, please!


    Badmood, snow is also predicted for the Bay Area. Temps expected to start dropping this afternoon. Very early Saturday morning (4a -8a) snow to possibly sea level.

  14. Around here hardly anyone is good at driving in the snow, we don’t get enough practice. The SUV drivers always assume they can go 55mph because they have the SUV. Sure enough, they’re the ones in the ditch.

  15. Sure enough, they’re the ones in the ditch.

    Two nights ago a big SUV pulled up near the curb at the neighbor’s house across the street. I think the rule of thumb with those people is that they only drive SUVs and their friends must also only drive SUVs.

    Anyway, a woman pulls up in her SUV and the woman from the house comes out, stands in the street and they have a loud, laughing, screaming “conversation” for one hour.

    Oh…. and for one solid hour that SUV sat in the street with its lights on and engine idling. Gas is now about $3.95/gallon for big hogs like that.

  16. Badmoodmandaughter is just over the hill from San Jose. My brother “Pete” & his family live near Natural Bridges – off of West Cliff Drive. (not too far from UCSC).


    Zooey those a Peregrine falcon eggs! The SF scrape (nest) falcon laid its first egg last night. SJ scrape very early this morning – their first egg.
    This is one week earlier than last year, which was one week earlier than ’09.
    (climate change may be a large contributing factor to the earlier laying).

  17. I guess with the price of gas, the neighbor can’t afford the coffee to serve inside where they wouldn’t annoy everyone else.

    Gas jumped 52 cents in one day this week.

  18. Zooey, we’ll have ‘tea ceremonies’ (no I’m not going Geisha – no feet binding for this Peregrine).

    Tea bag? Oh, no! Loose leaf tea is preferred!

  19. Gas jumped 52 cents in one day this week.

    That’s quite a nervous jump! I’ve seen them go up by a nickel one day then a dime the next.

    It’s the ‘fear factor’ and greed raising prices. Libya’s oil goes to Europe not the U.S.

    • Our gas prices have been sitting at $3.14 for a long time, and I noticed this morning that it had jumped to $3.19.

      It will only get worse as we move toward summer.

  20. That guy is a real asshole.

    He’s making Sen McCarthy look rational. Maybe he’s compensating after getting thoroughly pwned with that phone call.

  21. Nearly all the parents at son’s elementary school drove SUVs. I probably wouldn’t have been allowed at the school if I didn’t drive a truck (which I actually need). If there were no parking places near the front door they jumped the curb and parked in the grass. There must be some sort of loud, pushy, wasteful mentality that causes the SUV purchase in the first place.

    • If there were no parking places near the front door they jumped the curb and parked in the grass.

      Any kids on the sidewalk or in the grass better move quickly.

      That is unbelievable, Outstanding. 🙄

  22. My last post may be in the spam bin – or WP was hungry.


    “Clara” & “EC” are the SJ Peregrines that have their own camera.

    “Diamond Lil” & “Dapper Dan” are the SF pair.

  23. badmoodman, and If one actually tried to READ the ad, one might expect to get smacked upside one’s head with a handbag, or maced, or worse..!

  24. Doing well ebb. Happy that it’s Friday. Hoping it will be decent enough to get out of the house and take some photos. Got a new camera last week. I want to go out and have some fun with it. 😀

  25. ooo, new camera – what are its statistics? Exciting – we’ll be looking forward to ‘the view’ it finds!

    That composite photo site – I marvel at what people think to do.
    It is very interesting – people seem to stand at about the same angle to snap shots –
    very intriguing!

  26. ebb, I know what you mean. To see those composites, it’s such a simple concept to merge them, and I know I could do this. If only I had thought of it. (I may actually try it for fun one of these days.)

    My new camera is a Nikon D7000. (My old one was a 7-year old Nikon D70). So just on the model numbers alone it’s 100 times better. 🙂

    But from a cool camera comparison site, here are the measurable differences:

    D7000 vs D70
    Much larger screen: 3.0″ vs 1.8″
    Much better image quality: 80.0 vs 50.0
    Much more dynamic range: 13.9 EV vs 10.3 EV
    Shoots movies: 1080p @ 24fps vs None
    Much higher resolution screen: 920k dots vs 130k dots
    Lower noise at high ISO: 1,167 ISO vs 529 ISO
    Much better color depth: 23.5 bits vs 20.4 bits
    Has live view: Yes vs No
    Significantly larger viewfinder: 0.62x vs 0.49x
    Has a pentaprism viewfinder: Pentaprism vs Pentamirror
    Shoots significantly faster: 6 fps vs 3 fps
    Much better viewfinder coverage: 100% vs 95%
    Much higher resolution: 16.1 MP vs 6 MP
    Has a CMOS-family sensor: CMOS vs CCD
    Better maximum light sensitivity: 6,400 ISO vs 1,600 ISO
    Has boost ISO: 25,600 ISO vs None
    Has more storage slots: 2 vs 1
    Smaller: 132x105x77 mm vs 140x111x78 mm

    In short: it’s just better. 😀

  27. “¡Todos Somos Wisconsin!” (We are all Wisconsin)

    Saturday is going to be large – all across the nation.
    I do hope the wave continues.

  28. Whoa there zxbe that camera sounds terrific – almost as if it’ll take pics all on its own – not needing ‘human intervention’.

    I’m really looking forward to seeing the snaps from that machine.
    Here’s to clear, photo shooting weather (raises a teacup).

  29. Logging in… looking at the news…. let’s see, they offer me the top 48 stories of the day (I guess one number is as good as another — who says it has to be divisable by 5 to be a good number? 13. I like 13. 13 is a special number for me. really.), so looking at these 48 stories, I see that “Gaga has lost the ‘most liked’ title”, I see that Charlie Sheen is saying something stupid, I learn that airline ticket prices will go up because of the spike in gas prices (no shit, Sherlock? Tell me, is water wet?), there’s even something about GOP persons “coming clean” (uh… whatever…. I think I saw Sarykins’ photo there…. just sayin’… also…..), not a goddamn thing on Wisconsin or any of the other protests at all. Not a bleep on anything Walker is doing or saying. Nothing. Nada. Zip. If that were my only news source, and I trusted them, I would have to beleive that everything is peaceful here in the US. Oh, there was one (count ’em, one) article about some protesters in some furin’ country, but they were brown folk, and they’re used to living in the dirt and stuff, so getting shot ain’t that bad on ’em. Whoah… sorry. See, when you believe whatever you are told without question your intellect immediately drops. Won’t do that again.

    The media…. you know, we need a new name for them, because “media” in this context refers to news agencies as conceived of as being unbiased, factual, and current. Here is a case where they managed to maintain the perception (as opposed to the normal mode of altering perceptions) while altering the thing perceived. So, the media now acts like a completely controled propoganda outlet, but has (for a good part) maintained the prior reputation. As my absolutely irrefutable proof ( 🙂 ), I think it is accurate to assert that most people (slim majority or better) believe in the honesty and veracity of “the media”, at least to a fair degree — people trust the “news”.

    And to my statement, “the media now acts like a …”, may I say: if it hisses like a snake, and slithers like a snake… well, you know…

  30. Tea parties in the Zoo commune? Somehow that just doesn’t sound right. – hooda

    You’re thinking teabagger party. You need to think more Alice in Wonderland. 🙂

    • No, Shayne. It couldn’t be the oil or the dispersant. The Gulf is totally clean now. The baby dolphins must be dying because of the protesting public sector unions.

  31. RU — I’m not sure how to react, I’m torn between crying “Oh not fair!” because I almost lost my hit, or screaming, “BRILLIANT!”

    I shall opt for a softer spoken, “I do like it, yes indeed,” so as to not awaken the seven furry sharks of limitless death who may note that I have not yet replenished their magic food bowls since I’ve been home from work.

    • frugal, at the end when the guy at the hearing holds up his nasty picture of an aborted fetus and talk about ITS human rights, Weiner asks about the the woman’s human rights. The witnesses response was very telling: “Yes, the woman has rights, BUT…”

      It’s the “but” that speaks volumes…

  32. Shayne

    GOP Attacks Women : Weiner Responds

    That was really good.

    That sounds like a spambot.

    Is Weiner always like that? I thought he spoke excellently, and during that last bit he did not back off at all. I liked that.

  33. The Saudis are going to increase oil product so prices have stabilized. Do you suppose they’re feeling the heat too? I hope so.

  34. And they have to remain high long enough for us to forget what they were so they when they do go back down, they’ll still be way above where they were.

  35. A couple of weeks ago I stopped at a local liquor store — the one a couple miles up the road at the I-25 interchange — to buy some wine. There’s also a convenience store there, plus a self-serv. gas station. When I was paying for my wine, I happened to look out the window at the big gas station sign, saw the numbers “309”. I said to the store owner, “Hey, look at that, gas is back down to what it was when I was in college! 30.9 cents!

    He looked at me, grinned, and suggested I might want to wash my glasses. It was, of course, $3.09. I haven’t been back up that way since, but I suppose it’s up some and will likely stay that way. Makes me glad we barely average 100 miles a month on the odometer. Fixed incomes and all.

    It is gratifying, though, to know that Exxon Mobil is doing so well. I mean, think of how shitty our lives would be if their profits fell to, say only five billion per quarter. I mean, you know they’d stop all their research into alternatives, right? And think of their poor executives — everybody out to get ’em and all.

    Life can be a bitch, y’know.

  36. The gas prices have already gone up, as noted, and they will have to stay up long enough so that a reasonable percentage of CEOs and stockholders can afford another “yacht and a mansion”. And of course the prices will settle at a higher rate than before, silly, …. they’ve got to dodge more taxes on those new yachts and mansions. Dodging taxes costs money, you know. Those swiss bank accounts have a hefty minimum deposit (or so I have been told).

    Complainig about the gas prices is just another example of the poor, starving, leison-covered peasant keeping the good honest overlord ‘down’. It’s a cryin’ shame….


  37. Sherzer said Bush doesn’t want to be part of a forum that invited someone who has “willfully and repeatedly done great harm to the interests of the United States.”

    Interesting. That’s exactly and precisely the reason I’d never attend any forum to which Bush was invited.

  38. It’s ‘snowing’ in S.F.! Flurries even out in the Avenues. Not sticking to the ground – exhilarating watching it none-the-less.

    I realize this is ‘ho-hum’ to most of you ~ Thanks for allowing me this little indulgence of exuberance … (easily amused, I know)

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