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A Living Wage in an Ailing Economy?

This week, the JOURNAL introduced James Thindwa, a community organizer in Chicago who has been involved in a lengthy campaign to force big-box stores like Wal-Mart to pay employees a living wage if they want to open locations in the city. Those efforts proved controversial in struggling neighborhoods that lack other employment opportunities.

Thindwa said:

“The opposition to the living wage was based on a couple of things... [some said] if we passed a living wage ordinance in Chicago that we're gonna drive businesses away, that Wal-Mart would not build a store in Chicago. [Some said] that when there is a job and you're out of work, you don't have the luxury to pick, you don't have the luxury to choose. And so we had to convince people that, no, it wasn’t just about a job, you know – the job has to be dignified, has to have meaning. Furthermore, corporations don't have a right to exploit people in a neighborhood just because those people are desperate, just because they're vulnerable, just because they're jobless. The task for us was to go out and talk to our allies and to convince them, to give them a good reason why this was not an obstructionist proposal, but that in fact this is in the long-term interest of the city and of its communities.”

The JOURNAL story noted that Chicago’s leading newspapers, the SUN-TIMES and the TRIBUNE, ran numerous opinion pieces against the proposed living wage ordinance. In one column, published May 10th, 2004, the CHICAGO TRIBUNE’s Dennis Byrne wrote:

“In a society in which ‘choice’ is regarded as the greatest civic right, it is hard to imagine why 700 people and their families should be deprived of jobs, which, in their wisdom, they choose to accept. In a stunning act of paternalism, they are being told that they shouldn’t work there “for their own good”... I assume that those who oppose Wal-Mart will have some other, perfect alternative lined up to take Wal-Mart’s place as an economic and job generator in those neighborhoods. Or even a not-so-good alternative. Or any alternative. You know they won’t, because they’re too busy hanging on to their jobs as ‘activists,’ by creating a monster and then turning a mob on it.”

What do you think?

  • Are activists’ efforts to mandate a living wage worth the risk of repelling businesses that might otherwise locate in struggling areas? Why or why not?

  • James Thindwa states that “the job has to be dignified, has to have meaning.” To what extent, if any, do you think that the current economic crisis affects his expectation? Explain.


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    Economy Shows New Signs of Growth, but Jobs Still Lag.
    (This was Originally Aired: Oct. 29, 2009).
    There is no job creation. It is true that even to this day, our economy has not improved.

    I think the Universities have a lot to do with designing a new curriculum that would improve the present conditions. There were some talks that Universities of California (UCs) want to reduce the Four Year Degree Program to a Three-Year Degree. That makes sense. We can save a lot of time and money spent on colleges. As it is California Economy is bad and it is not going to come back sooner unless we make some major changes in our college curriculum.
    It is worth considering the Three-Year Option. Quantity is not Quality. We need Quality Education that will help us improve the poor conditions we are in now.
    Look at some of Universities such as University of Phoenix and National University. These Universities offer Bachelor's degree courses only for Three-Years.
    And it is very clear that if we have the Three-Year Degree Programs at UCs and CSUs, we would be better off
    The Question is this:
    How could we reduce the Degree Program from 4 to 3 year course? The Answer is simple. We are spending too much time on studying GEDs at UCs and CSUs. We don't need that at the Universities. WE could move some of the GED Courses to High School and the students could study when they come to Grades 11 or 12
    This is a Two-Way Process. First of all our High School Education in LAUSD are not at par with other schools level. We have to be really honest and take a deep look at our curriculum
    Are we producing enough talented graduates at high school level? If the students do not succeed, they need to study some new courses before enrolling in colleges and these courses can be and should be completed in high school before stepping into college
    Recent Statistics indicate that most LAUSD high school students are poor in English and Mathematics. That is sad. We have highly qualified and well-trained teachers to teach our young and promising students. But still most of the high school students either do not do well or simply drop out of school. That trend should change.
    It is not a bad idea to move
    some of the college level GED courses to high school. This way we can change our 4-year Degree Program to a three year Degree Course without sacrificing the quality of the program.

    CSUs – California State Universities
    GED – General Education Development
    LAUSD – Los Angeles Unified School District
    UCs – Universities of California

    Stargazer007: Did you check out Boettner's link? Are you too looking for a hot investment, want to make more big money, and spend it on yourself? Aware people who are connected to one another understand why the "success ethic" is the primary barrier to breakthroughs by a resistance mentality. There is a coimmonality among the greedy operating as solidarity because they all fear what will happen if change comes. Rev. Wright was right about Barack Obama, which makes me think I may understand your (Richard's and Stargazer's) weaker moments.

    It is sick how the establishment incorporates and negates the counterculture by making all things rank on a monetary scale. Last night's 60 Minutes illustrated such a case. The story concerned Geoffrey Canada's Harlem Children's Zone and my group watching here (Figgers Institute) came to a consensus that all public schools should follow this model as much as possible with slight cultural considerations. But it soon became clear that Canada was being kept on an ever shorter leash by his funders and that he was more and more infected by the corporate model and their mythical version of success. (It's a musical chairs economy with seats taken away each week, best ones first.)

    Society is a pre-determined structure at present where at least 90% of the population must live in families that are victims of rigged extraction (nuclear extraction units?)for less than 10% to have any measure of meaningful wealth, with a fraction of a percent truly in control. So you see that by blaming the frightened and unaware it is likening them to the billions of chickens we breed and murder in abboitoires. And there is a psychic element of suffering and taintedness that is transferred to the top predators, making them ever more monstrous.

    We are living a real nightmare but the good news is that this system is unsustainable without radical change. You can go along "investing" in the past or you can do some anticipatory self-resocialization and live by example. Klark Mouvinon tells me that is one of the most rewarding means of voting.

    P.S. Isn't it amazing how David Simon and Oliver Stone see so many things alike?

    This is a reply to Richard Boettner’s comments (“To hell with Americans . . .”) I feel your pain. I have observed in awe, for many years now, how people can be influenced to vote against their own interests and how they can be pitted against one another to fight over “made up” issues rather than confront the real enemy, the people signing their pay checks. I was speaking with someone last night about “the state of things” in our society and, once again, was struck by how he was unable to realize how connected we all are and how connected everything is. I fear for the future of this country and I think things are going to have to get much worse before they get better.

    To hell with Americans! I have been trying to educate people for more than 25 years now and no one cares. There is so much apathy and complacency that I give up. No one is willing to stand up for them selves and fight against corporations or a corrupt government that has sold out to the highest bidder. Why should I continue to fight when no one else will fight for their rights. I'm going to look out for myself and to hell with rest of you wage slaves!

    Yeah, that's how I feel. People in the U.S. are like zombies and some of them are better off dead than alive, they don't seem to be alive anyway. It is a sad state of affairs anymore and I am tired of fighting, so I give up.

    As an anthropologist I always seek evidence of conscious human agency. While Wal-mart continues to make a little money Sears/ K-mart just reported a quarterly loss- unexpected. There are few independents anymore, and if you don't get your pitiful heads out of sorry fascist Walmart even the corporate alternatives will dry up. Now that Whole Foods has had a potty mouth accident, where can thinking people turn? Not Dollar Tree (Idolatry), please. Some of those fruit pies are older than my reel mower.
    Your doctor wouldn't want you eating out of the garbage, if you had a caring doctor. (Maybe they have a top dollar pill for that.)

    Captcha: world autstic
    Maybe you're right, Moderator.

    "David", who thanked Walmart: Are you saying Walmart is a social service agency? Are you saying Walmart hires every depessed unemployed person down on his luck as a service to society? Are you saying Walmart is a fantasy island independent of the greater economy?

    If you assume these things you are deluded. Walmart should be grateful for your contribution to their enterprise, but I expect the billionaires in Arkansas are not. They are more into evading taxes and social responsibility.

    My friend Grady says when you cross the threashold to Walmart you are in China, under repressive laws and social norms. He says the Walmart parking lot is an annex of Tiannamen Square, that any resistance might be crushed by tanks. I don't shop in Walmart but I visit to investigate.

    Over time I have observed a diminishing selection of poorer and poorer goods. Their grocery is beginning to resemble the hit and miss of Big Lots, and the produce is sometimes embarrassing, rotten and past peak. I have seen prisoners on work release with their ankle bracelets working there. To me some stores have the air of a penal colony. I read about their 600 million dollar labor violation settlement and I don't think many employeees are well-treated. I know their health insurance has high deductables and that most employees don't have it. Walmart stays in business and succeeds by cutting corners and taking unfair advantage.

    I was in K-mart yesterday (affiliated with Sears). They are not as deep in food marketing but their clothes are better sewn and more stylish. Their goods are not as predominantly from China and the variety and quality beat Walmart. Prices there are about like Walmart and the employees seem healthier and happier. They seem to prefer the young working mom. I am curious about their benefits. I think shopping or working at K-mart is a better exercise of your economic vote than Walmart.

    Maybe Walmart affiliation is a part of a self-defeating and self-hating political expression. People attracted to sadistic hierarchy are often masochistic. In the long run nothing can be kept going by destruction. To keep from being destructive of the community K-mart, pitiful as it is, is better than Walmart. And buy your produce at the farmer's market where it has avoided a long punishing shipment and is cheaper.

    I'm glad David got out and found other employment. Walmart is a sad place, and it will bring you down. I've never been one to thank exploiters and parasites. Reconsider, "David." Maybe Walmart was there for you, like a pimp.

    At the beginning of the economic depression, I lost my home and wondered if I would ever find a job again. Walmart hired me, I was so happy to be able to work. My life is improved, recently I got a new job using skills I thought were dead. I am so thankful Walmart was there for me, I will never forget. Finally, their prices allow me to live a good life without robbing me blind. Thank you

    "And I was disappointed that there was a huge hole in the presentation. The gigantic elephant in the room that none of you mentioned is the connection between the positions taken by Republican and some Democrat Congress persons and Senators and the large amounts of money those Legislators have taken from the Health Care Industry. Not one word about that."

    I agree with this post by another blogger. Barack Obama, himself, during his presidential campaign took in $18 million from various companies included in the health industries. Senator Max Baucus took in more than $4 million, and Blue Dog Democrat, Senator Ben Nelson, NE, took in more than $2 million.

    Although there was some discussion on the program about the phrase " health insurance reform" versus "health care reform," no one thought to include information about the bill forcing people to buy health insurance in much the same way that we buy car insurance -- meaning that buying health insurance will be mandatory. In truth, the health insurance companies, in that case, must be salivating since the government is planning to enlarge the marketplace for them. Ultimately, this is another shift of wealth upwards to the already wealthy insurance executives, and health insurance companies.

    I have also read that if someone doesn't buy health insurance, because it might not still be affordable, and then gets sick and needs a doctor and/or hospital, those people will pay a fine of 2.5% of their yearly income. So, they punish the poor and needy again. These people will never be able to get out from under the weight of their debt.

    I have heard Barack Obama, himself, say that this plan will not cover everyone. So, exactly what does he have in mind? The so-called "strong" public option seems to become more vague as time passes, and yet, according to polls, about 70% of the population of this country favors a strong public option, or something closer to "Medicare for All." In other words, a single-payer bill.

    Mr. Moyers, I watch your program every week, and I learn more about the issues from you, and Amy Goodman, than I do from any other journalists on television. Thank you for what you do to keep us informed! The program with Wendell Potter, the ex-CIGNA employee was eye-opening, to say the least. The fact that he stated, in that interview, that Michael Moore's film, SICKO, "hit the nail on it's head," and told the truth is, I think, important. Have you interviewed Michael Moore? Have you interviewed Ralph Nader, who is currently working 24/7 on a single-payer bill. An interesting panel would be Wendell Potter and/or Linda Peeno; Ralph Nader and Michael Moore. You could show clips of Michael's film, which is as relevant today as it was when it was first released.

    It's just an idea. Thanks, again, for all you do!!

    Anna D is correct about depletion and automation changing things since the 1940s. Depletion of resources increases the value of commodities. Automation of both extraction and manufacturing increase the income of so-called low-wage workers. It is interesting that automated farms, automated mines, and automated factories might do more to avert warfare and reduce depletion than automated battlefields. 2008 was the 100th anniversary of the assembly line, it was barely noted in the press. Meanwhile, automation of banking and logistics and retail decrease the relative value of banking and retail functions. The Dubai stock exchange took only months to install by copying software from the London Exchange. These trends will continue as we progress toward the technological singularity predicted for 2040. Obviously paradigms based on antiquated notions of 20th century economics will no longer apply, and our adherence to 'disparity of income' based on these outmoded ideas will in the end harm us, if they haven't harmed us already. Despite Anna's very accurate portrayal of farming as being different than mining because farming is renewable, it doesn't change the economic similarity that led to current US geopolitical policies. Namely, farming and mining is the starting point in the value added chain, and puts them at the bottom - according ot 1940s analsts. Of course depletion changes that for mining, automation, if it occured on the farm, would change that for farming - as already stated. The critical issue for renewable systems is that they rely on off-world resources. Plants on the farm collect sunlight and use that energy to organize things for the benefit of animals and humans. This is the direction our technology must go. Terrestrial solar, is a start. Space Solar Power is the next step. Sun orbiting solar power is the final step. Our global information environment is supported by space based assets off world. Expansion of those assets could easily convert this world into a wireless hotspot. Expanding bandwidht to include virtual reality, provides a way to have meetings and attain widespread tourism without travel, and ultimately, drive humaniform robots naturally and remotely - so anyone can work anywhere and live anywhere else. Mining and farming are moved off world by capturing rich asteroids and building a solar powered industrial infrastructure on orbit, as we master tele-robotics to the degree envisioned here. Then space based solar pumped lasers beaming propulsive energy to laser propelled spacecraft put a spaceship in every garage, and vast residential parks are erected on obrit. The space colonies envisioned by an earlier generation, from Buckminster Fuller's Cloud Nine cities, to Gerard O'Neill's space colonies - we will build it on orbit with telerobotics, solar energy and asteroidal feedstock - in quantities that will permit individual famillies to enjoy unprecedented resources in space. This combined with low cost ballistic travel energized from orbit, will create a mass exodus of humanity off world, accelerating the return of our biosphere to a pre-industrial state. Meanwhile,increased energy resources and material resources beyond orbit, will cause folks to move their space homes from orbit around Earth to travel into interplanetary space, and ultimately, interstellar space using what rocket scientists call 'slow boat' multi-generational travel.

    Semi related Q:
    Why are American cashiers not allowed to sit while at the register?
    All over the world cashiers can sit and shopping works just fine.
    Whom does it benefit if cashiers get tired from standing?

    Where is the christian majority's voice in this matter? You folks just ignoring this sin.. eh? is it shame? indifferance? Usery is a sin I believe. You can justify, rationalize, and quantify your reasons with razor sharp accuracy for your greed, for the sake of debate as well. The fact remains, anyone who's unwilling to pay thier workers an equitable wage (who can) does not respect thier employees and does not value the work they do for them. If that is the case then why did you as an employer even choose that industry? An endevour that you don't respect? Kinda makes you look like a Rube does'nt it? Unless you went into it with the expressed intention of exploiting others and making tons of money. But then again, regardless of how anyone becomes wealthy now, is not an issue anymore. Wealthy christians can now go to church where thier pastor will proclaim: "god has showered them with his blessings". Thats the new doctrine now. right? As a foot note: It's easier to thread the eye of a needle with a camel then for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven".

    William Mook, wrote in part, "Throughout the 19th and the first half of the 20th century, work could be divided into three types, low value - extraction of resources from the Earth - farming mining - iron ore, wheat - middle value - manufacture, refining - steel, flour - high value - trading and services - using a steel scalpel to perform a surgery, or making excellent pastries from flour. This approach ignores the limits of resources on our planet, and the impact of automation on the productivity of manufacturing - as well as the influence of internet and expert systems to commoditize retail and banking."

    First off, farming is in no way, shape, or form comparable to "mining" as a "low value" activity for life maintenance.

    How many centuries before the 19th when the money changers who never BUILD civilizations arrived, en masse, on USA shores did "farming" serve as a HIGH value activity?

    If we turn the "green" laser of truth seeking on the "high tech" industry, there is every indication that it will cause as much environmental damage to DNA, if not more, as did the combustion engine industry.

    For the sake of going somewhere with all this, "manufacturing" seems to be where idealogues and common sensors meet and interact - "capital" and "labor".

    There IS a point at which the over-automation of anything that is "manufactured" occurs that is known to be the tipping point into the complete implosion of "manufacturing".

    Meaning that if "capital" increases labor "debt" for investment into automation to the point where "x" amount of "products" are the only ones being manufactured, the flexibility to make "engines", for instance, for cars, boats, planes, lawn mowers, etc. is frozen from innovation, flexibility and progress because you can't use the same factory to make a car engine one day, and a lawn mower engine the next day.

    Thw whole point of manufacturing factories has been completely lost - any single factory COULD (and used to) be able to "manufacture" ANY product. That's the perfection of "efficiency", btw.

    Any "high value" work that you present is the combination of human hand and tool.

    Getting 25 cents off of every dollar to provide "protection" for the rip-off class is NOT a "high value" commerce act.

    And finally, what happened to factoring in "maintenance"....?

    Nice to have a place and the time to present a square and an idea for how to make it a circle, but some of us would like to move on on the contiunuum that is not trying to get rich off the reinvention of the wheel.

    As for satellites, you need to apply your able mind to figuring out how to clear the lanes of crash debris before all factories are space bound.

    My local amateur astronomoy club received a call from Joe Q. Public this past Monday, asking in all earnestness, whether we would be conducting a public session somewhere in town with our telescopes to witness the ingniting of Juputer by the Intergallactic Federation today.

    Sigh.

    Think I'll go check the tomato plants just in case Jupiter is still there tomorrow as a gaseous giant and not a nuclear reactor for the "Mook" factories :-)) orbiting earth that produce my razor blades, among other "tools".

    Tax laws provide so many high paying jobs for so many lawyers & accounts it gives one pause before suggesting elimination of all loopholes.
    pause
    Should only businesses be the sole tax payers?
    Should only wage earners be the sole tax payers?
    Should low wage earners be taxed?
    Should returns on savings accounts be taxed?
    ETC.
    Congress should determine how much money is required, and set the necessary flat % to be applied to all selected tax payers-without any deductions-
    BUT that would get rid of 2 many jobs.

    Is there no way out?
    Billy Bob, Florida

    To embrace life we must first embrace the dreams of our youth. We should make it clear that every child will be supported by society to go as far as their dreams will take them. Not only through college, but into the marketplace and business. The dropout rate at Harvard is nil. The dropout rate of a state college or inner city school is horrendous. Why? Because Harvard is committed to their students. Other instutitions are not - and like rapists - blame the victims - and because those victims accept the blame - we don't question it. Can we afford to fulfill every kids dream? Of course we can - if we use every skill at our disposal to embrace life rather than death. I find it fascinating that we have smart bombs but not smart factories or smart farms. 2008 is the 100th anniversary of Henry Ford's invention of the assembly line. What radical improvements have been made in the past 100 years in farming or manufacturing? the assembly line is still in use. We have not embraced the opportunity to increase the productivity of all workers and hence the ability to live at arbitrarily high living standards. Why is that? Why do we have devilishly smart weapons systems but inanely stupid manufacturing systems?

    Since America got out of the manufacturing business in the 1940s and 50s, we have paid scant attention to automation and its potential to change the rules society lives by. Not so in nations we exported manufacturing to. Japan speaks of the unmanned factory and Honda builds Asimo. At most we in the USA associate automation and mass production with mass consumerism and call it industrial excess, without looking at the positive social consequences of those excesses. We ignore these basics and wonder why we are poor. Or those that see the connection accept it as a necessary consequence of our times. That's because no one can see a solution to our limits to growth and accept the fact that some must go to the wall while they organize to make sure its not them. That sort of thinking stems from a combined lack of imagination, and ignorance of certain core technical knowledge that if widely known and appreciated would make our dreams and the dreams of our kids come true. The fact remains that social advances of the past 150 years have occured as a result of advances in industrial technique. Lewis Mumford speaks of this eloquently in Technics and Civilization. Remove these advances in technique, and we have no recourse but to reduce living standard and return to ancient systems of living - regardless of the abuse to our sensibilities. The only real choice is the choice between growth and death. Those who urge us to ignore our sensibilities are embracing death and those who suffer the most know that at some level. Yet we can still choose to be a growing vital culture, not culture in decline, a growing vital culture. Since the 1940s the USA has chosen decline out of fear of nuclear annihilation and loss of control of global geopolitics. We have abandoned our democratic principles and embraced the vision of specialists while enacting no means whatever to modify or adjust that view over time - ceding growth to others in the process. To create a viable future requires we understand the truth about our modern history, and embrace a workable vision of the future. We lack that vision because we have blinded ourselves to certain facts and marginlized the imagination required to overcome our decline. Throughout the 19th and the first half of the 20th century, work could be divided into three types, low value - extraction of resources from the Earth - farming mining - iron ore, wheat - middle value - manufacture, refining - steel, flour - high value - trading and services - using a steel scalpel to perform a surgery, or making excellent pastries from flour. This approach ignores the limits of resources on our planet, and the impact of automation on the productivity of manufacturing - as well as the influence of internet and expert systems to commoditize retail and banking. We have transfered low wage jobs out of America without realizing our need of them - and are now suffering the consequence of that act at all levels. Meanwhile, we have marginlized ideas that are vital to our survival, and classified techniques that if used by the market would transform society. Its hard to speak of these ideas and be taken seriously. This is a measure of our failure as a vital culture. But here is what we must do. We must move our industry off world and turn the Earth into a residential park serviced from orbit. To understand this requires that we understand the history of space travel and where it naturally takes us - not in 100 years - but today. JFK saw this, his vision was abandoned - the first act of LBJ after taking office was reducing NASA's budget and ending research on high temperature nuclear reactors. Had that research continued, power would be too cheap to meter by 1970 as Lewis Straus told newspaper reporters in 1956 - but that did not happen. The first step toward death. As investments are made in rockets the cost of lift decreases, and the cost of speed decreases. lift times speed is called momentum. the cost of momentum decreases. So, as you invest in rockets you get more and more capability for each dollar invested. You get;

    1) small suborbital payloads
    2) moderate orbiting payloads
    3) large cislunar payloads
    4) very large interplanetary payloads

    Since the surface of the Earth is at the same place energetically relative to the rest of the cosmos, and since space tech transcends Earth, ALL people on Earth see space developments the same way. This naturally gives rise to an emerging global paradigm. In our case here is the result; 1) small suborbital payloads - ICBMS - global thermonuclear war - the entire world is a battle field - leads naturally to a global ban on warfare and the first global paradigm. 2) moderate orbiting payloads - comsats, spysats, weathersats, navsats - lead to a global information infrastructure - internet - global business global communications, global village, global knowledge. 3) large cislunar payloads - Apollo, planetary probes - photos of Earth from space - Earth as a planet - Earth as a shared place all inhabit Gaia Hypothesis, environmental movement.

    At this point progress in rocketry stopped with only minor improvements in technique. Fundamental improvements in cost of lift and cost of speed were barred, budgets were limited. Yet if growth had continued we would have gotten to very large interplanetary payloads. Here we're talking about moving asteroids around with nuclear or solar laser or solar sail technology. We're talking about moving worlds, large scale industrialization, massive changes. We get a hint of this in speaking of deflecting asteroids that might collide with Earth - but we can also capture asteroids rich asteroids bring them into Earth orbit - mine them, process them, using solar power, and manufacture products and deploy them on Earth's surface on demand when and where needed. The order of battle is fixed by momentum cost and the position of the Earth in the cosmos. Here is how it may proceed - 1) with a network of communications satellites - each with a phased array antenna to paint doppler corrected virtual cells on the ground - and linking satellite to satellite via open optical data links - provide tens of billions of broadband wireless channels across the face of the Earth - in addition to the traditional TV radio, telephone, internet services this provides - this also provides banking insurance mediation and other business services for all. Beyond these conventional services there are growth into revolutionary changes - telepresence and telerobotics - combine with virtual reality to allow low cost robots similar to ASIMO be driven by people anywhere. People working anywhere can live anywhere else- dramatically increasing the wealth of the planet. The cost of these teleoperated robots are a fraction of the cost of an automobile when built in quantity and give people global reach to work anywhere. 2) increasing lift capacity allows the production of power satellites on orbit, done in a way that lowers the cost of energy below what we pay today - this provides an increase in the living standard generally and improves quality of life for all and allows economic progress for all. From 1850 to 1950 the price of oil fell at 5% per year to less than $2 per barrel. Since 1960s oil has risen at 8% per year - and will continue to do so until we develop a low cost abundant alternative - space power is just such an alternative. 3) convertng our nuclear stockpile into nuclear rockets and using those rockets to capture rich asteroids and bringing them into Earth orbit continues our movement of industry into space. not only by removing all fissile material from Earth's biosphere, but ending all mining processing manufacturing on Earth. Using telerobotics on orbit, and solar powered remotely operated factories on orbit to make stuff that is then delivered to anyone anywhere any time - in response to a satellite phone call. Production of floating cities - like Buckminster Fuller's Cloud Nine Cities - manufactured on orbit and deorbited - provide positive refuge for those in need - and put pressure on regimes for real change. Meanwhile the production of large pressure vessels on orbit, and growing remotely operated farms and forests on orbit - provide unlimited abundance to those on Earth while removing these functions from the biosphere - returning earth to nature - with people living in a global nature preserve serviced from orbit - with only recycling occurring on Earth.

    This all sounds like science fiction and very expensive - but its neither - its a very realistic and quickly achievable goal. We could have a global wireless hotspot in 3 years - a global power net in 8 years - and a global manufacturing network in space - in 12 years - along with the end of nuclear threat - all we lack is the will to do it. Embrace these technical changes and we have the technical basis for everyone to be a king - as Huey Long was fond of saying. These changes combined with fundamental changes in how our economic system works using the power of advanced math and the internet - provide the technical basis for progress in the coming era. This is all old news. The real change comes after advances in AI and self-replicating machines and nanotech bring about fundamental changes after 2040. ALL of what I am proposing here takes place in 12 years - ends poverty not just in the USA, but throughout the world - and sets the stage for a singularity we can live with.

    For a little joy in life:

    http://tinyurl.com/cd5o3t

    Thank you Grady.

    I really believe that a living wage is essential. (For your benefit, Mr. Williams, that means I can afford for work at ANY job to buy food, pay rent and electric and phone and natural gas and water, get gasoline or transit, and not have to worry that if I fall or get run over or ill I will be financially ruined.) We are not speaking of "bad choices" here. Do you choose to need the essentials? Do you choose to become "uninsured?" This country needs a re-model from the inside out. Our "business model" leadership reduces everything to money. We need to really employ "all (men) are created equal" and stop using people as a commodity. People are humans with human needs and human rights. People are not depreciable assets to throw away after their "useful" life.

    Posted by: Rosemary

    All them children said, "Amen Sister"

    Thank you Rosemary...
    You have that right.
    If only we could get everyone to understand how important your statement is to the well being of our nation.

    I wanted to send my solid sympathy to George Boston Rhynes in his humiliation before global Walmart. This only goes to show how the power gap makes the individual powerless to negotiate with corporate employers. We do need unions, unions run by the rank and file. I wish Walmart employees could own the chain collectively. We'd see less slave made trash and more wholesome durable goods. We'd also see healthier and happier cashiers and stockers. I can't go to Walmart anymore even for evidence gathering. It is too depressing! Don't go back until they fix it, George B. Rhynes.

    Here's the material from Gaston gazette Soapbox Bullis requested:(5/18/2008) I recall visiting 1963 Gastonia for a movie opening as a child actor. My mother Ellen was my manager. When I was frightened by the eyeless (empty yellow sockets) and limbless beggars on Gastonia's streets pleading for coins and playing wailing hymns on their guitars and harmonicas she took me into Eagles dime store where they still had "Whites Only" fountains. Upset herself, she confided her horror to a servicewoman at the Woolworth's counter around the corner. Mildred, the dishwasher Mom spoke with, later became assistant superintendent of schools. She already had her masters degree but was black, and so confined to menial labor. I'll never forget how poor and deprived the children and workers in 2008 ) Disgusting, stinking Hellhole:
    I remember Gastonia looked, and how bad many of them smelled. Gaston County remains a relatively deprived and ignorant place today, full of mistreated people. It would have been much different with higher wages and more open education. Now that I'm teaching here I hope the power of the exploitive bosses (now broken) can be overcome and the people can become happier by making their own opportunities. Even though we may be facing another Great Depression, it is not too late to get organized. I know local culture and creative spirit is lying dormant beneath American Idol and Nascar blather. Please help me uncover it.
    Grady Lee Howard
    *****************************

    (6/26/2008) When I’m up you’re down: When I’m down you’re up:

    At 7:30 pm June 13th I felt an excruciating pain from under my ribs and radiating throughout my guts. Here I was, a stranger in Ft. Worth, Texas with a medical emergency and no insurance. I was the facilitator of this session and I fainted in the restroom after excusing myself. (leaving an expensive laptop and projector unprotected) I was working for the pachmama alliance presenting "Awakening the Dreamer, Changing the Dream" and now I was unconscious in an ambulance in route to Arlington Memorial Hospital. They first thought it was gallbladder stones but the imaging showed obstructed intestines. Without insurance there was no hurry to intervene, although they did give me morphine for the pain, and left me lying on a gurney in the ER hall until early morning. My surgeon tells me I would be a dead duck except for the sister of a Houston doctor having been at the symposium. She became alarmed while trying to return my equipment. The next thing you know I was on a private jet to Park Plaza Medical Center in Houston. The delay cost me six feet of small intestine that had died by stragulation. (Organ crowding is a common ailment for sufferers of dwarfism.) So there I awoke Sunday morning (11 days ago) over 20 thousand dollars in debt, no job, and no way home. Released Tuesday I found myself back on the business jet to Ft. Worth and into the home of the Jacintas, Javier and Meg. It was Meg who had saved me and was now buying a ticket for my ex-girlfriend Gladdie to come down from Philadelphia and help care for me. The strangest thing is that Glad brought the only suit I own (tailor made for a 2002 film) with her because she'd been told before my surgery there might be a funeral. Argentinians can be very blunt and insistent, especially when there is a debt to be paid. My let out pants and shirt collar accomodated my fat and post surgical bloat, and with a yellow tie from Javier I found myself accompanying him to work Thursday to apply for a position with Goldman Sachs investment bank. On Monday the 23rd I was hired and went through orientation. Gladdie and I flew back to Charlotte Friday using part of my hiring bonus. Starting Monday I will be driving a rental car to Wachovia headquarters, serving as a press agent for Goldman Sachs auditors examining that sick bank (formerly First Union).
    ****************************
    (6/30?2008) When I'm up, even I'm down

    Today, Monday the 30th was my first day with the Goldman Sachs audit team in Charlotte. I received instructions to park at the Walmart on Wilkinson Blvd. and be picked up by a courtesy van because parking is so scarce at the Wachovia Headquarters Building downtown. I arrived in my rented black corolla at 7:15 am, went into the store and bought 2 boy's dress shirts (to wear to work). My Italian loafers are the only workshoes I have, so I got some sneakers to wear in the office. I expected to meet Lanty Smith the new CEO, so I wore my best.

    Back in the parking lot were a motley crew from around the world: Iowa, Sri Lanka, Singapore, Scotland, Nigeria and the bosses, 2 from Italy and 1 from France (She's a redheaded doozy!) The van came after
    several cellphone calls from Doozy (8:45) and we proceeded to the 588ft. Wachovia tower completed in 1988. On the pentmezzanine exec. suite (floor 41) we met COO Ben Jenkins, died black hair in his 60s, looks and sounds like a well-dressed pig farmer. He said his original education was as a textile chemist (explains the hair). He's the wealth management guy at Wacho (my name for the bank) and he explained how they want to dump most of their mortgage operations and most financial services to avoid a takeover. They've lost about 6 billion, 1 billion the last quarter. He said probably 25 thousand of 120,000 employees, from tellers to top management would face layoff in the next year, and that's optimistic. They plan to increase fees and charges on almost all customers to tide them over. It became clear from his speil and demeanor that they have no idea how bad things could be. His divison has even gotten into currency trading and covert derivatives (private bets between banks and billionaires). I expect he knows they will inevitably be taken over but was being brave. Someone has to take inventory: That's what our team is there for.
    I'm not a banker or economist, not a computer geek or accountant, just a writer and spokesperson, so I don't know the truth and I never will. I might as well be watching Fox News. Ben (said call him that) told us not to visit Wacho headquarters unless summoned. WE will be operating out of a high security office on the west side (a converted meat warehouse) that is interfaced with all Wacho computer data and has instant conferencing with all departments and divisions worldwide. A second communications infrastructure will link us with Goldman headquaters in New York by Friday. Both are said to be dedicated and impenetrable. Ben shook all out hands and we elevatored back to our airport parking van. Doozy says to park at Walmart, not at the facility and the van will pick us up and drop us off as needed.
    The facility is a creepy place in a rundown warehouse district. We have two armed guards and camera security 24/7. Entry is biometric but I'm sworn not to say what body part(s). It was a long day until 7:45 pm. Doozy seemed satisfied with the copy I wrote to assure Wacho employees about our benign purpose on the V-net, changing only 3 phrases. She said she'd seen "the Blue Door", an art film I made in 2001, and she even recognized the suit. "Don't wowwie, Gardie. Our attirer will be casuale, though you shudd order a wite linen three-piece for later meetings this summere. Don't let me zee you in dhet sharkskin again, mon ami."
    My salary is 42 dollars an hour with free insurance and a 401-K plan. I will pay half the net to Javier until my 26 thousand debt is retired. Then I'll be getting over 80 thousand gross, enough so Gladdy can do art and not work. My gut problem is a pre-existing condition for one year so that will cost me something for follow-up. I'm so tired and headachey, but glad to be getting married, glad to get a new start, glad to be alive. Gladdy had made vegetable soup in our 3 room dacha when I got home at 8:55. She says Dave Ramsey on Christian radio says I should buy a beater (old used car) to drive to work and dump the rental as soon as possible. I agreed and told her to help look for one with good fuel economy. I will sleep like a groundhog in winter, right under the window A/C. Maybe I'll have more to tell about my first real job in 4 years after a few more days. Got to get up by 7, Goodnight all you run-of-the-mill people in your small-minded towns.
    Grady Lee Howard



    (7/08/2008)California has ignited:
    Gladdy and I thought the honeymoon was over Sunday when we got notification I should report for work in San Luis Obispo, California as soon as possible. Last night we flew out of Philly to Los Angeles and into another rental car north past Santa Maria. (It's on the coast about even with Bakersfield (inland). I and two colleagues are managing an audit of AmNet Mortgage, owned by Wachovia. Their headquarters was in San Diego but the servers and records are up here. We have been joined by a team of FBI forensic accountants of whom I can say no more. While AmNet is not Wachovia's biggest problem (shares now at $13) it has proven a boneheaded acquisition (2005), like swallowing a sub-prime mortgage suicide pill. Kumar from Singapore and Steve from Indiana say they would never bring their wives on an audit, but apparently security is lax here. Goldman Sachs (Sacks of Gold?) has turned us loose on these unaware clerks.Gladdy walked right in with the three of us without any questions being asked. Our IDs are on our shirts and she is typing at a terminal. We'll be here until the weekend at least, so I will take her to see some redwoods in my native state. I hope forest fires don't prevent us. Then we may buzz across Nevada to Utah/Arizona. Gladdy has never seen the Grand Canyon.
    I say honeymoon, but we have been intimate since 1993 when Gladdy was lighting director on an independent TV pilot produced by my friend Griff Jones Jr., a venture capitalist. It was set and made in New Jersey where Gladdy was married to an electric wholesaler. The character I played was strangely like Tony Soprano, a gangster with a crew. Harvey Keitel directed and that was a treat, what a dissolute freak he was then, and his ex-wife later played the psychiatrist on the HBO series The Sopranos. Tonight we'll have supper with Tom Everhart, the Peanuts artist (since Schulze died) who was a close friend in Baltimore. His beautiful wife Jenny was once his hair stylist. We rented an Audi to impress Tom.

    I had to make a short V-net broadcast before lunch reassuring Wachovia employees not to worry even though G-men are involved. If I had Wachovia stock I'd have dumped it all last week. But here I am waiting on my first paycheck to be direct deposited Thursday at noon (Eastern Time). The worst thing are the losing derivative obligations Wacko has. Lehman is the likely buyer, I think.

    We'll be flying back Sunday on American. See you soon in Gaston County. Rest well you run-of-the-mill people in your small-minded towns.
    Grady Lee Howard

    I really believe that a living wage is essential. (For your benefit, Mr. Williams, that means I can afford for work at ANY job to buy food, pay rent and electric and phone and natural gas and water, get gasoline or transit, and not have to worry that if I fall or get run over or ill I will be financially ruined.) We are not speaking of "bad choices" here. Do you choose to need the essentials? Do you choose to become "uninsured?" This country needs a re-model from the inside out. Our "business model" leadership reduces everything to money. We need to really employ "all (men) are created equal" and stop using people as a commodity. People are humans with human needs and human rights. People are not depreciable assets to throw away after their "useful" life.

    Grady, The search system does not seem to work for me at the Gaston Gazette.

    Thanks for your question about my car planning. I am currently building a demonstration version of the car concept(for those coming into the discussion now, click on my name); I have the design to a point that I am quite satisfied with it, and have actually started cutting and welding metal. I work at writing and processing patent applications; one has been granted, two are pending, a power generation spin off patent is pending, and another truck related patent is in work. I am getting quite a lot of feedback from my marketing campaign to create "buzz", and that gives me a sense of how to plan this whole thing. I am not to a financing point yet, and might need someone else to do the entrepreneurial stuff when that time comes.

    So how does this relate to blog at hand? I am trying to effectively relate to the market where the issue is that there is a huge automobile industry making cars that they like to make and that they think people want to buy. There are a lot of people who emphatically state that they want big or at least high performance cars, so Detroit gets mixed signals. It is not all the fault of the corporations. But people will not be able to afford to buy the kind of cars they say they want, especially as the economy is shaping up. Consequently the means of production is going to get snarled into ineffectiveness, and this will be bad. Our earnings, that is for those who have jobs, will then be quite different than the living wage that we expect. The lowered expectations will not be something to blame on corporations; it will be the fault of a failed system altogether. And a hysterical cycle will ensue because the lowered earnings will make it even more difficult to sell unsuitable cars.

    So how do we reconcile the kind of cars that are wanted with the kind of cars that fit with reality? That sets the stage for planning how to build and market cars that could be a lot more suitable in reality going forward.

    Core concepts are (1)that we will still need and want to get around quickly, safely, and comfortably, (2) that fuel will be in short supply, and (3) the need to control CO2 emissions will come to be seen as very important.

    Another underlying assumption I make is that at some point along the way we will also realize that the economy will not become vibrant and resilient if we are herded into living and working patterns that would make mass transit feasible. So efficient personal cars will ultimately prevail and we will still be able to go places when and where we like.

    Sounds a bit far fetched? Maybe, but I think we are headed into something like I describe.

    Jim, if you want to know how I ended up working at Goldman Sachs (later making a jump with a supervisory colleague to Morgan Stanley) it is posted at the Gaston gazette blog. I put down a small deposit on the Tesla but never followed through, lost $2000 bucks because of euphoria at surviving intestinal sepsis. I wish you could build a prototype of your design. How much?

    And Grady, don't get distracted from solving the financial problem because you fear starvation.

    It might not be the best for our health but there is still a huge agricultural production system in operation. All we have to do is to turn off the ethanol machine and the price of corn will drop so the whole world will be made fat, if not especially healthy.

    Grady Lee Howard: That is a sly trick with that oblique and amusing comparison of Sam Walton to me. But anything I might be hoping to do, insignificant as it seems, and whatever the peaceful protests against the bail- out have in mind, it seems that the $200 trillion obligation you mention swamps it all.

    Talking about the Federal Reserve and lack of transparency falls way short of what is needed.

    Transparency will not fix the problem when most of us could look a credit default swap in the eye and stumble on a derivative lying on the floor and have almost no idea what these things mean. "$200 trillion obligation" gets my attention, but this needs a lot more discussion. It would seem this would wipe out the world financial system if it is really an obligation.

    Where is Bill Moyers when we need a hard story on something like this.

    Jim Bullis: I'm glad you see yourself as "just starting out" with a more comprehensive and humanitarian view of the world than Sam Walton had 60 years ago when he started Walton's 5&10 in Bentonville, Ark. People who model they're morality and success ethic upon a long lost past are delusional. Maybe they are blinded by greed and ambition. (Beware the Macoutes!)

    You mentioned Hickory, NC where a 45 year old hero named Ed Crump is organizing an aneewwayforward.org anti-bailout demonstration April 11 at 2pm as suggested by William Greider. Ed is "just starting out" too. Jack Martin is trying to assist Ed. They think peaceful public redress might be met with police violence in the nearby banking capital of Charlotte, thus; Hickory.

    As for me I live in Edison, NJ with my wife Gladdie Victrola. We plan on attending the Manhattan demonstration. As a Morgan Stanley publicist I often commute in, but telecommute about half the time, so we feel secure on the Hoboken Division to Penn Station.

    I can't help but agree with monetarists (as well as P. Krugman and Ravi Batra) that over-authorization of money value (mostly electronic as loans to banks, maybe as much as 8 trillion now) will result in uncontrollable inflation within 3 years. This is not what I'm allowed to say in my paid work. What I'm allowed to say is that Morgan Stanley is as solid as a rock, one of America's strongest banks. Maybe the money we've received through the AIG bailout has made us stronger, but my true belief is that Credit Default Swap and Derivative obligations can not be honored because they are so ridiculously large (maybe 200 trillion or more). This can never happen (the write-off) without public transparency. Wealthy speculators' play money simply overwhelmed the real money values (backed by paid productive labor) and the casino flooded out the farm. My greatest fear is a famine from bad corporate farming and processing practices. (My role model in this area is Lester R. Brown of the Earth Policy Institute.) Some major grains are already threatened by unmanaged pests and exhausted methods. I'm a little guy and I don't eat much (62lbs) but I genuinely fear hunger and the resulting chaos. I doubt the super-rich really care: They haven't relented yet.

    Sent March 1, 2009, (Sixth Letter without a response from Wal-Mart)

    Living Wage YES! But workers at Wal-Mart need more than just a living WAGE. They need to be treated as human beings, and as American Citizens with workers rights:

    As a former Wal-Mart Associate, and Sporting Goods Department Manager at Store 2615, for over three years in Valdosta, Georgia. Where I was wrongfully terminated on March 20, 2008, but have been ignored for over a year. But I will not stop in my pursuit of a valid response from Wal-Mart Stores Inc., until I am respected and treated with dignity as a United States Citizen, Worker, and Retired United States Armed Forces Military Veteran.

    My previous letters were sent to you (President H. Lee Scott Jr.,), by U.S. Certified Return Receipt Mail on (June 12, 2008), (August 1, 2008), (August 11, 2008), (August 29, 2008), and (December 1, 2008). I did not write these letters to you to be ignored or for my health. But my supervisory, leadership, and management training says that it is unacceptable for EMPLOYEES to be totally ignored by their EMPLOYERS.

    In addition, no American worker should be treated as workers in Third World Nations. And for over twenty years I placed my life in harms way for foreign people I did not know. So surely I can, and will fight for my own rights. And for the rights of my fellow Americans here in the homeland in the place of my birth.

    Since March 2008, I have been ignored without even a courteous reply from Wal-Mart Stores Inc., However, as a former retail business owner for fourteen years, prior to being employed by Wal-Mart. I cannot and will not remain silent to my unjustified termination and mistreatment. Thereby allowing workers rights to be forever lost in these hard economic times.

    You have received five (5), previous letters but chose not to respond to any of them. I must acknowledge. That I had no idea Wal-Mart was so unprofessional and mistreated their workers in this manner. That is until I was terminated. But I assure you that my particular case will not just fade into the sunset to be forgotten.

    Nor will I bury my head in the sand like the legend concerning the ostrich bird. That is beneath the rubbish pile of time, space, destiny, and slogans like, save money, and live better. But at what cost to other human beings?

    As a former Wal-Mart Employee. I will never accept or pretend that Wal-Mart Stores Inc., and their Executives have become a god beside God. And answers to no one, while treating American workers like workers in China or in some other Third World Nation.

    Mr. Lee, you can ignore me. As you have done before. But Galatians 6:7 will forever shine in the direction of truth. "And it is always right, to do right, and even better, to be right." {G.B.R.}

    So as a former Wal-Mart Associate, Department Manager, Former Business Owner for fourteen-years, and Retired United States Armed Forces Veteran of the Vietnam Era. I will not remain silent. Instead I will blow the trumpet as is recorded in the Book of Joel 2nd Chapter. Because I have done too much to be ignored and unjustly terminated without even a courteous reply. As many other outstanding associates that have been unjustly terminated at store #2615.

    After nearly a year without even a courteous reply. I am as fresh, determined and committed as ever to be treated as an American Citizens, and not like workers in China or in some other Third World Nation by Wal-Mart.

    Again, it is always right, to do right, and even better, to be right. So no American Worker, should say good night, until they have been treated right. {G.B.R.}

    Therefore, I will await your response within fifteen days.

    Thanks!

    GEORGE BOSTON RHYNES
    Terminated Untrained Sporting Goods Department Manager
    Former Business Owner for Fourteen years
    Retired United States Armed Forces Veteran (Vietnam Era)
    Active in Community Affairs Since 1975, (Civil and Human Rights Organizations)
    Author of Several Writings
    Single Parent of Three Children (Now Successful Adults)
    A concerned citizen and brother of (ALL) humanity

    Grady, you have to tell us more about the painted pink socialist walking on Wall Street, working for MS, and "Goldman Sacks." You can't just stop there.

    Jack Martin and Grady Lee Howard; I am glad to see the two of you are back in good writing form. I had come to depend on you to help keep me aware of the human condition.

    At an early age I did my best to avoid getting stuck in the garden. I saw more potential in chemistry experiments which I should not have been allowed to do; and trying to resurrect worn out engines, and machinery stuff like that. So when we try to figure out what to do about the economy, I am more inclined to look for an industrial based solution than returning to gardening. But I am glad to know I could garden if it became necessary.

    The trouble with the depending on the land is that there are too many of to fit in Hickory, NC and all the towns like it. But even if there was an agricultural society worked out, I know enough about the "Great" depression to know that what we think of as minimum wage would not be very satisfying if it was based on an agricultural economy. So maybe we need some kind of manufacturing.

    Clearly things are bad, and it is interesting to consider if the history of the last depression applies.

    A key problem is, greatly oversimplified, we simply expect to get what we want, and because of this we fell victim to a banking system that found easy victims for loan sharking. Plenty of willing opportunists jumped in to create an avalanche of money rolling into many pockets and a flood of cars and houses that we are pleased to consume. We came to believe that something about the American Dream meant we were entitled to big houses and cars, and it was somehow socially undesirable to look for ways to consume less. Prices exploded to levels that exceeded what could be sustained on current incomes, and now that the dust has settled some, it looks like we do not know how to make products that are more realistically suited to our needs and incomes.

    Whether or not there is a collapse depends on whether we can adjust fast enough to reality to get production going again. We seem to have trouble realizing that very different kinds of cars are needed; and perhaps we can make do with very different kinds of houses.

    As it is, it looks like the means of production are getting into a frozen condition. Housing production seems to show that state and auto manufacturing seems to be headed to a similar fate.

    The personal credit card crisis has not even hit us yet. The illulsionary world enabled by credit cards still seems to be floating along, and I hear that junk credit card debt has been “packaged and securitized” to be sold to unwitting investors looking for high returns. When this shoe drops, as it must, the remaining market for goods would seem to be headed for collapse as well.

    It seems like the problem has not been shown to us in history. We are on our own here, and we might actually have to think our way through it unguided by anything except what good sense we can muster. It seems like Grady's hyperinflation train is a real threat.

    I suggest that good sense should lead us to search for ways to get products that we can manufacture, such that people will have rewarding work to do in the existing manufacturing world. Yes, we need to scale back our expectations in a lot of ways, but this way everyone will get their basic needs met.

    I hope it is not too commercial, but I continue to suggest that some really different kinds of cars might be one of such products, and that is of course my on-going project.

    It seems to me that there is a real cultural problem that includes both our high and immediate expectations and our lack of products to build. I think we need to keep well aware of how the people of Hickory see things. I was particularly interested in the attitude toward the bailout actions that Jack voiced. I am still working on that, though it seems that we have to fix the damage that we let happen. A lot of us were too careless and too ready to enjoy false prosperity. I remember grumbling a little, but there is not much to take credit for in that.

    I hope it doesn't sound like I have any real influence on the matter. I surely do not.

    Merely focusing on minimum wage will not solve the issue. The entire economic system needs to be changed.

    Richard C. Cook has some ideas

    http://www.afterdowningstreet.org/node/41196

    Karolyn Redoutey: You've got it together when it comes to economic planning: community first. Some of the most prosperous little cities in the USA have a minimum living wage regulation which keeps gougers away. Their local culture and local production of culture is the richer for it. Food co-ops, consignment co-ops, manufacturing co-ops, and so on would be a healing force across this country. The "free trade" idea that things should be done far away by slave labor and shipped long distances is pure craziness. It's just a way for wealthy speculators to take advantage, and it's always a moral crime. Enjoy your close-slow organic veggies my friend.

    When I lived in Keene, NH, Main Street was concerned about a KMART moving in. And like Gypsy Moths, one big box would lead to another. Even cut up the hills that encircled New England towns and kept them from sprawl I now live in Minneapolis where the cooperative natural food industry thrives. Probably what would save the small town is cooperative small businesses owning the town and being a force against the big box. This then would affect low prices which now have replaced the love of culture and values in much of American life. People in Minnesota love their Scandinavian roots, and you can also see immigrant populations from Somalia and Asia showing this power of common philosophy. Isn't it American though to want independence through a cooperative effort? Isn't that what the American Revolution was about? How sad that activism is needed for us to believe we can act collectively, and for the poor to believe they have rights. Would that we had an army of Mr Thindwas invading the countryside instead of Walmarts.

    It’s amazing how these neocons keep blaming the failure of The Big 3 on their unions. The Big 3 are hurting because our economy is in the toilet. What about Wicks, Levitz, Circuit City and the numerous other companies that have gone out of business? Were unions to blame for their demise? They were bushwhacked.

    Poverty is a cyst pool that corrupts the whole society. It is in the best interests of all the people of a society to avoid people living in poverty. There must be social programs to assure that people have every opportunity to be a productive and self-sufficient part of the society. Wages must be consistent with the cost of living. Fair prices and fair wages are essential to a stable society and quality lifestyles. The family is the foundation of the society. Undermining the family unit is criminal and disastrous for any society. Capitalism and socialism are both vital functions of society. They provide the goods and services that make society functional. These systems must be humane and efficient in order to prevent corruption, destruction and chaos.
    Financial adequacy and personal liberty are necessary elements of the human experience.
    "Everything is always impossible before it works. That is what entrepreneurs are all about--doing what people have told them is impossible."
    Hunt Greene

    Scott: Most American economists ain't worth another less savory four letter word beginning with s because they serve the wealthy interests who are ripping us off. Throw that salt over your shoulder and get working for a living wage. It will be of general and mutual benefit. You don't need expert advice to know that.

    Every economist worth his salt knows that minimum (and maximum)wage laws are a bad idea. Not to mention the fact that they are immoral and go against individual liberty. But the practical side of it is that a minimum wage does NO good to someone who doesn't get hired because they have been priced out of the market by government mandates. It's interesting to note that in this country federal minimum wage laws got their start when Massachusetts complained about competition from lower-wage southern textile mills...it was a very anti-black, protectionist measure.

    I can't believe some of the responses to this bit. People should be ashamed of themselves. Yes, in America we have free choice but when the choice is a job or no job then it behooves the community to step up and make sure the job is more than one step above slave labor. EFCA puts the reigns back into the hands of the employees and takes it away from management, which has a vested interest in keeping their foot on the necks of the employees. In this country you get what you pay for, we don't want to pay taxes so we get crappy education and services. That results in uneducated people who don't usually have the tools to pull themselves up. Perhaps what we need is a law that states that politicians and CEO's cannot earn more than 10 above the lowest paid person in their community or company. Maybe walking in the shoes of the downtrodden would give them a different perspective.

    Who decides what a "Living Wage" is? If you don't like the job, get another with better pay. If there are no jobs you are qualified for, get a better education. It's not my fault you made bad choices early in life but as long as you are living in this country founded on freedom you can change your lot in life. Till then, the job pays what the demand dictates. Get all your co-workers to quit and the demand and pay will rise. We make purchases the same way. If you expect Wal-Mart to continue to provide basic needs in your budget range you better hope the wage you are paid doesn't go up or you won't be able to afford to purchase goods at the place you work. Even illiterate and ignorant third world people understand this basic fact of life but in most of those places few can escape to America where they stand a chance to change their lot in life.

    Sam Walton started out as a small time mom and pop store. He achieved the American dream. He promoted BUY AMERICAN. He died. Bill Clinton went to bed with the Chinese, ran off the American producers to other countries, mainly China and sold out the American industrial workers that put him there. All the while, the corporations were billed as the bad guys. Democrats, starting with Carter's administration, opened the gates to easier financing with greater debt load to both stimulate (falsely) the economy and portray it as creating opportunity to those poorer Americans. It hit the fan under week conservative leadership and rampant corruption in the democratic party resulting in our banking demise. All the while, ignorant people shop Wal-Mart (AKA China Outlet), work there and want someone else to fix things they so blindly and ignorantly helped create with such open willingness.

    It is amazing to me how ignorance dominates the media and is transmitted to the ignorant masses as factual truth. This country is a republic first and foremost. The founding fathers saw numerous flaws in the establishment of a true democracy of which was the ability of ignorant peoples being influenced by feel good politicians and voting the emotion and not the fact.

    Like several other former WalMart Employees posting here, I to can personally attest to WalMart's anti-union and anti-employee policies. Granted not all employees are treated the same, but from my personal experience I am not at all surprised by WalMart's tactics. As stated at the beginning of the segment, the masters of our economy (CEOs)do see this as a dire affront to their way of life. There is no doubt that this will certainly have some impact on their level of comfort and affluence, but is it really too much to ask big business to sacrifice at this time when tax payers are being asked/forced to put themselves on the line to rescue some of these big companies at this time?
    Arguing from a point of ideals only works a vacuum/perfect world. The reality of our current world is that this is not (and never has been) a democracy (it's a democratic republic) nor is this a strict capitalist economy. Somewhere along the way, we lost connection to each other and the struggle of the average American worker. Big companies, as we have seen through deregulation (Glass-Stegal), certainly wields it's vast economic power through political means for it's own self-interest. Is it really too much to ask that the regular worker gets a fair shake? It is great to have ideals and they are important to help us continue to move towards where we want to be, but we must take a hard sobering look at what kind of country we are right now and what that says about us. Are we the kind of country that bails out bankers (who basically gambles with our economy and lost) with little-no repercussions/sacrifice while telling the auto workers that "I'm sorry, I know that you worked hard for 30 years and you played by the rules, but you can't have your pension."

    Ignorance has no mercy. Here in the USA we have the choice to make of our future what we want. In contrast, the documentary previous to the Moyers bit a maid in India was profiled. She had little choice and opportunity in comparison and less exposure to possibilities. I have one observation in both cases. Ignorance dominates the conditionh cases however, only in the land of all possibilities is it always someone else who is responsible for the condition.

    “How we citizens can actually hold our government and business leaders accountable?”
    “As it is now, I can write a letter, send an e-mail, make a phone call, etc. ... and the
    government and business leaders just ignore all... and... they just carry on with their
    deception and control, because we the people do not know our legal right and the
    processes to practically establish them!”
    “I need a law degree to know what we the people can do to hold the government and
    business leaders accountable and stop them from using the legal system against us.”
    You are 100 percent correct and I agree with you.
    The only answer – solution is “AMEND the CONSTITUTION!” Empower the
    people to participate in “true direct democracy” in process to express their
    “WILL on ALL ISSUESS!”
    Demand the Congress and the State legislators to comply and enforce the Article V of
    the Constitution.
    The ARTICLE V is clear: “THE CONGRESS... SHALL DEEM IT NECESSARY, SHALL
    PROPOSE AMENDMENT to THIS CONSTITUTION, OR ON APPLICATION of THE
    LEGISLATORS...”
    The Congress and the State Legislators have been ignoring the ARTICLE V. They have embark
    on “rampage of corruption, disregard for duties, responsibilities and accountabilities!”
    To believe that the Congress and Legislator do not know of the their duties, responsibilities
    and the laws or when and why is important to implement ARTICLE V of the
    Constitution is absurd! It is no longer “WE THE PEOPLE!”

    The Right Way

    The Way of heaven works in the world
    Like the drawing of a bow,
    The top is bent downward;
    The bottom is bent up.
    The excess is taken from,
    And the deficient is given too.

    The Way works to use the excess
    And give to that which is depleted.
    The Way of people today is to take from the depleted,
    And give to those who already have.

    Who is willing to give to the needy from their excess?
    Only someone who is going the right Way.

    =
    MJA

    The contentious philosophy of James Thindwa is exactly what Barack Obama lived and breathed during his entire Chicago political life. He adroitly kept it concealed during the presidential campaign. I say listen carefully to Thindwa and others like him because that's where Obama would like to take us, kiddies.

    The Employee Free Choice Act is a thinly veiled payoff to big Unions by the Democrats, (Obama). The Democrats intentions are clear, give the Unions what they want and they will supply the labor vote in the future to the Democratics. I don’t believe the American worker is so naive to think the EFCA has anything to do “free choice” or with improving employee working conditions, or pay.
    My take on what the EFCA act does to the American worker;
    Removes the secret ballot as the democratic standard by which all elections are held in this country and replaces it with a card signature majority. Imagine having a group of union officials come to your home and ask you to sign a card and if you refuse you set your self up for harassment at home and work without protection. There are cases of employees who had to file for restraining orders against union officials to stop the harassment. The Federal appeals Court has ruled that the card check was so susceptible to intimidation that it should not be used for establishing unions.
    It gives no consideration for Employers or their business. Union officials can unionize a business without ever letting the employer know. So picture the owner of a small business, hard working, fair to his employees, competing in this cut throat business world finding out on Monday morning that his employees have formed a union. Next he is forced to meet union demands for pay and benefits. If he can’t meet these demands the government will impose what they want in the contract. Oh by the way the employee has no say in this process, no vote. The employer is left with two choices give the union what they want, driving him out of business or move his business to China. You guess what happens.
    The NLRB has been the employees champion for 70+years. If the present rules for establishing Unions in the NLRB have faults, than work Congress to correct them. If employers harass than strengthen the rules/fines to prosecute them.
    Having worked 38 years in a union shop I have seen it all, strikes, walkouts, threats, work slowdowns, unions out of control resulting in the gradual movement of work offshore, leaving a decimated community where employment went from 35,000 to 5000.
    Where employers and employees are in tune businesses grow, employment expands and they both prosper. Unions bring nothing to the table.
    I believe strongly there is still a need for employee representation where employees/employers are at odds as in the Wal-Mart case. This in no way justifies the EFCA, an affront to the democratic rights of workers.


    The links below gives an excellent history of the NLRB, the EFCA, court decisions, Union harassment, and presents an honest discussion of this act.

    http://www.shrm.org/hrdisciplines/laborrelations/articles/Documents/Free%20Choice%20Act.pdf

    http://www.heritage.org/Research/Labor/wm1386.cfm

    http://www.freeworkplace.org/helpcenter/neutrality.php


    I watched your Friday program and became irritated listening to James Thindwa concerning union organization & his home country of Zimbabwe. I have worked in that country setting up a seed corn plant and training people to run it. During this time the government was in the process of re-distribution of wealth & control of society in general. Does this sound familiar? Do we really want to see that here in the USA? The wage for labor was a $1.60 per hour. To put this in perspective a bottle of soda cost a $1.90 and a button-up shirt cost a $125.00. Now it’s much, much worse. Why should we listen to a man and his family who were part of this failure?
    I have worked construction in & out of unions for 48 years. The unions were grossly inefficient influenced by crooked politicians & thugs. Companies that are doing well and are not asking for a bailout for the most part are non-union. Walmart and similar companies should fight the union as hard as possible. How long can your union help you if your company goes out of business? Picketing an empty building is not very productive.

    This is just for your information. I have worked for Walmart for several years, working myself up from minimum wage and part time hours to full time perm. with benefits. This was just in time for the latest tactic. Walmart is laying off full time workers for a period of six months then allowing them back. But..., and it's a big but, only part time, with no benefits and at minimum wage. I went backwards! Walmart makes a lot more money and customer service is out of the window.

    Enjoy your cheap prices folks ~ just be aware that when you buy at Walmart you do not support our American workers. But then Joe Sixpack doesn't care if children work 18 hours a day to supply him with cheap shoes, in fact Joe doesn't care of children actually die making his shoes, only that the shoes are cheap.

    Just to bring a little perspective to this discussion, the federal minimum wage is $7.25/hour. For a 40-hour work week, this amounts to an annual income (assuming no unpaid time off for vacation or sickness) of $15,600 BEFORE withholding for taxes. A handful of states set their hourly minimum wage (WA-$8.55; OR-$8.40; VT-$8.06; CA, CT, MA-$8.00) slightly higher. When alarming numbers of people making at/near the minimum wage can no longer afford to live in the cities where they work, some of them such as San Francisco, CA, passed "living wage" ordinances. San Francisco's current minimum wage of $9.79/hour, using the same 40-hour-no-unpaid-time-off formula, equals annual pay of $20,384 BEFORE withholding for taxes, or approx. $16,518 yearly net for a single person with no dependents. Of course all things are relative: San Francisco has one of the highest costs of living in the U.S., so living on $1,377.54/month would surely preclude that person from living alone in even the tiniest of studio apartments in the worst of neighborhoods AND eating, commuting, etc. Yet, even corporations like WalMart (which reported NET profit at $12.73 BILLION in 2008), resist paying even a so-called "living" minimum wage, much less healthcare and other benefits. Greed is alive and well in the U.S.

    I respect Mr. Thwinda's efforts for democratizing his adopteed country. However, having been in Rhodesia prior to overthrow of the Brits and what has become of this beautiful country, what could have happened if people like him stayed to see the revolution through..It's one thing to chase out the overlords but then to turn it over to butchers..The history of civil disobedience is not to run but see it through.

    With so much fat on the top, and the way the government is churning it, butter is all we'll be. And a pound of butter is the last thing this fat over-weight country needs.

    =
    MJA


    The living wage is a good idea but it fails in practice because of what economists call the substitution effect:

    Imagine I normally pay $20 for a bottle of wine. But now imagine if I were FORCED to buy wine at $50/bottle. Then my natural tendency is to ( since I am forced ) buy the best quality wine I can ( i.e. that which normally sells for $50 ). Such a policy seems good for wine makers in pricipal but it tends to drive out of business any cheap wine makers ( e.g. those who don't have good grapes or facilities to age their wine a long time )

    Something similar happens with workers. Normally I pay someone $8/hr. But if I am forced to pay $10/hr. I am going to up the job requirements to a high-school diploma, some college and a few years of experience. I'm never going to hire an out of work newbie when I can hire an experienced person for the same price.

    So although living wage legislation seems to work, it works in the same way as some union jobs work - good if you can get it.

    I think we need to build more win-win situations between the people and companies whereby companies are getting something more in exchange for the extra money that is put in and people are not closed out from starting on the first rung.

    Maybe the people of Chicago are resisting Mr. Thwinda's union organizing attempts because they do not want their city to end up like Detroit. Detroit used to have thousands of high paying "jobs with dignity" but it now has the highest unemployment rate in this country. I don't know why any large employer would invest in a city where "workers" have the hostile attitudes I saw in this story. Who needs that trouble?

    Yes, agitating for a living wage is worth risking a treasonous corporation setting up shop--especially if that corporation is Wal Mart. In the long run, the community and surrounding communities will be better and stronger for it, even if they fail to get a living wage in the end.

    Big box stores like Wal-Mart siphon money away from schools, firefighters, and other public services when they move into a community and receive state-based corporate welfare. From there, they drive small businesses out of business, drive down the value of operating business buildings when neighboring small businesses have to close down, drive down wages in the community, and force taxpayers to subsidize their workers' health care in the form of welfare. Those aren't the kind of jobs that we ought to be protecting--no matter how bad off a community is.

    The posted comment by Jack Heginbotham Jr. hits the nail on the head. But, I would add that over the last 30 or more years most people are having to spend so much more time, attention and energy on trying to just maintain a living wage that the majority of legal Americans have not had the urgency or the means, if they did have time, to go figure out how to keep their government and the business processes in check.

    A great show would be for Mr. Moyers spend the entire hour having detailed explanations on how we citizens can actually hold our government and business leaders accountable. As it is now, I can write a letter, send an e-mail, make a phone call, go peacefully protest and the government and business leaders just ignore all we the people do, and then they just carry on with their deception and control, because we the people do not know our legal right and the processes to practically establish them. I need a law degree to know what we the people can do to hold the government and business leaders accountable and stop them from using the legal system against us. My meager upbringing and existence has not allowed me the fullness of all necessary resources to adequately meet my needs, much less achieve that much education, such as law. Learning about the civil war in junior high or high school does not seem an appropriate answer for this new modern age we live today.

    Instead of using their intellegence and knowledge to help the world and other humans, those in the controlling class are using their intellegence and knowledge to keep the rest of us under their control economically, psychologically and legally, so they can legally and fiscally rape, pillage and plunder our economy. They have tossed the spirit of the social contract on which law is based to the side, and declared survival of the fittest, while deceiving the rest of us, we the people, into going on thinking the way they manipulate the government, legal, judicial and law enforcement systems against us, is right, fair and just. If they are using a bullet or economic policy to diminish my well being, they are still harming me as if they did shoot me with a bullet that just has not killed me yet.

    Doesn't the Bible say something about twisting the lie to be truth, and twisting the truth to seem a lie? Lucifer is an Angel of Light! 2 Corinthians 11:13-14 For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.

    Romans 1:22-25 Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things. Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves: Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.

    Knowledge is power and we the people need to know the right knowledge to correct the course this ship, called America, is on, or our ignorance is going to cause more psychological disorder to the point of world chaos. But, if those in control keep exploiting our ignorance, instead of using their intellegence and knowledge to bless all of humanity, then we all are doomed.

    One idea is that the highest paid worker in any and all companies cannot get a raise until all employees are at least already recieving a wage equal to or greater than 10% of the highest paid worker. Then all boats truly rise as the tide of profits rise, and those lower wage workers will have the money to keep the economy much more stable for all Americans. More equitable distribution of cash flow/capital is necessary to stablize the economies cash flow crisis; in addition to, we the people, not living beyond our income. But life makes demands on cash flow minimums needed otherwise more of us, we the people, would be homeless and living in the streets. This needs more discussion, because I am not all knowing to know this idea will be effective in every and all cases. What do you think Mr. Moyer?

    I have to agree with Jack Heginbotham. We have been over sedated by various entertainment boxes for too long. While not actually practical imagine doing this - Let's turn off all the Radio and TV stations for the Month of May. Close the theaters, the bars. Shut down Satellite TV and Radio. Cable Systems and Internet too. Bill, take a one month working vacation and bring us some more great programs in June. Let's read. Let's make a market for newpapers. Let's talk to our neighbors. Or just sit in a quiet room and get to know ourselves again. How many of us could spend some quiet time with ourselves and benefit from it? And oh yes, let's adjourn Congress! Ship the lobbyists to Afghanistan for the spring. We cannot have either of them working in the dark.

    Jack Heginbotham Jr:

    "As an activist trying to affect change for over 4 years, I take that thought one step further & suggest ignorance and apathy of the American people is to blame for ALL of our current problems.

    Voting America spends hours watching stupid "reality" shows and to this day, the brighter ones think investing 1/2 hour a day watching some Fox News or CNN program makes them informed citizens."

    James Thindwa should go back to Zimbabwe. He left too soon. They still need a living wage there, and the people of Chicago need more and better affordable stores than they need him.

    A living wage? Yes, by all means!

    Does "the job has to be dignified, has to have meaning"? What does dignified mean in this context? If I dig a ditch is that undignified and have no meaning? If I clean New York sewers is that undignified and have no meaning? No, both need to be done for society to work. What makes a job dignified is how the employer treats the employee. Wage is only one element of that treatment. Respect is another.

    Maybe if we got all the Libertarian free-trading he-men to move to one state they could demonstrate how well their ideology works. By the same token the rest of us could try other things, like unionism, living minimum wages, "socialized health" care, affordable education, and nationalized-downsized-regulated financial institutions. I bet within 18 months the he-men would be crossing the border to get benefits. (We could build a fence I guess.) Tough talking individualists expect to exploit others to have their needs met. Socialists expect society to provide for human rights.

    This was a nice piece, but it ignores a logical step of confirmation. The EFCA (Employee Free Choice Act) would allow instant recognition of a union if the union organizers claim that more than 50% of workers have signed union cards, with no secret ballot required to confirm that interest in participation. Only the organizers know the truth, and they aren't incentivized to be forthcoming.

    While the benfits of organization seem intuitively obvious in some situations, some local workers may see things differently. A secret ballot confirmation seems prudent.

    William Greider said something very profound about Democracy tonight and I hope Mr Moyers follows up on it.

    This was that thought though the exact words may be slightly different: "By design, democracy in this nation is not meant to be observed from the sidelines."

    As an activist trying to affect change for over 4 years, I take that thought one step further & suggest ignorance and apathy of the American people is to blame for ALL of our current problems.

    Voting America spends hours watching stupid "reality" shows and to this day, the brighter ones think investing 1/2 hour a day watching some Fox News or CNN program makes them informed citizens.

    Furthermore they think anyone who questions the actions of elected officials is a conspiracy nut at best or traitor at worst.

    I would bet less than 20% of the population (and less than 50% of the people reading this) even know that Congressman Kucinich stood before the House of Representatives last year for over 4.5 hours reading 35 articles of impeachment, that in no uncertain terms accused our President of Treason.

    I understand I am preaching to the choir on this site but I believe with all my heart until we address the Ignorance and Apathy of the majority, we will never again enjoy the freedoms our forefathers fought and died to provide us.


    I can’t believe we are actually debating whether American workers should be paid a living wage. What are we, a banana republic? How sad to see someone like Andrew Young defending the practices of Wal-Mart. Money sure talks in this country. Keep up the fight Mr.Thindwa. If this economic downturn brings more attention to the plight of working people, maybe the entire mess may serve a useful purpose. It may help wake us up to the powers that work against working Americans each and everyday.

    The past eight yaars made it possible for numerous small business to survive and hire many people for jobs. Smaller companies who make money and get tax breaks are what makes the economy go in the right direction. Then the bigger the company gets and the more money made, leads to more employment. People who are sucessful and own big money making companies is what America is all about............

    James and the people demanding that Wal-Mart pay a living wage to open a store in their community absolutely have a right to ask that it provide a wage that will allow them to live in that community. That it is a practice that sadly too few communities are engaging in is a different matter, but it doesn't mean that making the demands is wrong or too much to ask for.

    The question of giving a giant and rich corporation like wal-mart conditions such as living wages and local hiring is a no-brainer to me. Of course! That too many communities have been sold out by politicians as indicated on the show is part of the reason that the whole country has gone down in wages; and corporations are always getting what they want at the expense of regular people.
    The bottom line is that those corporations still want to make money and would make a profit despite a living wage, but they are so used to getting their way and have a distorted view that focuses solely on growth and profits that it seems outrageous to them to spare a few dollars for its workers (and not just the US ones)

    The current economic crisis only reinforces what James says about jobs needing to have "meaning" and be "dignified". People shouldn't be seen as a variable in an economic formula, and that is how we have been treated by the current economic model. We have to create a different model that makes everyone share equally in responsibility and according to their means, and that means businesses in a community chipping in to ensure those communities can sustain themselves and the people that live in them.

    If this guy is a community organizer, why doesn't he go out to Oakland Ca. and stop the glory being presented by people cheering the death of FOUR policemen by a bunch of unemployed radicals who are to lazy to go out and make a decent living. Stop worrying about Walmart not paying enough and encourage people to go to school and get some kind of employment

    The events of the past 8 years should have made it apparent that this country during its lucrative days - merely (mis)used its lower classes and therefore failed all its people. Education has always been too hard to achieve if you are without resources or help - out of reach for the average person. Without unions (because education is out of the question) the average person in the US will always live in poverty - workiing or not. Doesn't seem to register with a lot of people - too proud to ask or demand that the country take the best care of its citizens who pay the most taxes. Self-sufficiency is a good thing - but letting the lucky (people with good parents or good parents with money and who know how to get money) use All the country's resources - that's just not healthy for the individual or the country. This country's most lucrative times happened when at least the middle class made a living wage or near a living wage.

    I applaud the sentiments and efforts of Mr. Thwinda, but ultimately the responsibility for wages in companies like Walmart rests on the workers themselves and the unions that represent them. I feel for Rick-- I am a union member too and for years my union let wages and conditions erode. Then in the late 1990s enough members were sick of our old leadership and we vote in new ones. The new ones are not perfect but they are much better. Old Newt Gingrich used to talk about "personal responsibility". I believe that we are all personally responsible to get involved with our unions and make them work for us. And if we have no unions, then we ought to organize them.



    And that brings us to the EFCA and higher Minimum Wage Laws. Both are essential if we are to have a rebirth of union power. The Employee Free Choice Act reduces the huge imbalance of power between workers trying to organize a union and management opposing them. And a generally higher minimum wage changes the differential between union wages and general wages-- making it harder to get scab (replacement) labor for one thing.

    A minimum wage ordinance is one (sometimes necessary)thing - a nationwide law that forces employees to cast an open ballot for or against unionizing is undemocratic and is a form of coercion.
    MyMind

    I'm sorry, a minimum wage in fact makes no more sense than printing money. If labor wants to see equity it has to join the fight against the Fed and for sound money. Collective action sounds nice, but really, we know there has to be some discipline somewhere to keep us honest, and that is best attained by requiring money to reflect worker's savings and nothing else.

    I am a member of a labor union. For nine years now, our union has show itself to be in the back pocket of my employer. I have faced harassment in the work place where no grievances ever took place. I am on disability as a result of that harassment at work. My union did nothing for me. In fact, when my disability ends, I will not have a job to go back to. The union did nothing to fight for me and save my job. They are heartless, and I am helpless.

    We remain the lowest wage earners in our field in the city that I work.

    Unions are weak, collecting union dues with little power. In our shop it is taxation without representation.

    I feel and think Thwinda is right. It is my understanding that Walmart makes very good money. And, despite the recession, clearly there are still people in the U.S. that live well above the luxurious line, a quick trip to wikipedia tells me that there are 359 billionaires. As a Canadian, I look at the U.S. and think, wow, what an amazing country it would be if they could learn to share, if their wealth got spread out better. I recently heard a figure that 40 million U.S. citizens were without health care, and driving through many U.S. cities, I am so often struck by the disparities, billion dollar buildings and homeless people. I would love it if the U.S. truly set a global example and was a place where all citizens had access to health care as good or better than in any country, where every citizen would have the opportunity to a free education, including at the post-secondary level, and where no citizen was exploited by a minimum wage not adequate. In the richest country in the world, there shouldn't be homelessness either...Surely there is enough money in the country... I mean what is that is spent on the war every day???

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