Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Third World America ~ Our Race to the Bottom !

Third World America ?
Leo Hindery, Jr..Chairman, U.S. Economy/Smart Globalization Initiative at the New America Foundation
Posted: August 31, 2010 09:30 AM

Ms. Huffington has precisely described the current sad state of the middle class, with especially sharp perspective on what she calls the economic "nightmare on Main Street." And she offers particular insight into "America the dilapidated", her short-hand way of expressing her distress at the sorry state of the nation's infrastructure, which will require a staggering $3 trillion or so of capital expenditures to fix and upgrade. For years I have argued that the only economic measure that really counts is the vibrancy of the middle class, which needs to grow robustly from the bottom up. And the best indicator of that vibrancy is our nation's nearness, or not, to full and fairly compensated real employment. Ms. Huffington clearly shares this view. As a member of the "professional left", which is White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs' epithet for those of us who believe that campaign promises made by Candidate Obama in 2008 should be kept by President Obama in 2009 and 2010, it's easy for me to have distress over the true state of the U.S. economy. And this same sense and level of distress are what I believe motivated Ms. Huffington, obviously a fellow 'member', to write her book. She realizes, as I and others have,

The top 10 percent of Americans now earn half of our national income, while the bottom 90% collectively own less than 2 percent of the nation's wealth. There is more income inequality in America than at any time since 1928, when this statistic was first kept.

61 percent of Americans "always or usually" live paycheck to paycheck, which is up from 49% in 2008 and 43 percent in 2007.

Approximately 21 percent of all children in the United States are living below the poverty line, which is the highest rate in 20 years.

Only the top 5 percent of U.S. households have earned enough additional income since 1975 to match the rise in housing costs.

83 percent of all U.S. stocks are in the hands of just the top 1% of Americans. And the top 1 percent of U.S. households own nearly twice as much of America's corporate wealth as they did just 15 years ago.

As Edward Luce wrote recently in an important piece for the Financial Times entitled "The Crisis of Middle-Class America", which theme Ms. Huffington picks up on, the slow economic strangulation of millions of middle-class Americans started long before the Great Recession of 2007, which merely exacerbated the "personal recession" that ordinary Americans have been suffering for years. This 'median wage stagnation' means that the annual incomes of the bottom 90 percent of U.S. families have been essentially flat since 1973, having risen by only 10 percent in real terms over the past 37 years. During this same period, the incomes of the top 1 percent have tripled. Ms. Huffington also distinguishes herself with her chapter entitled, "Who Killed The American Dream," and with her precise prescriptions. Her 'indictment' of lobbyists is sobering and her call for campaign finance reform compelling. Also compelling are her demands for modernizing our government institutions' technology, meaningful education reform instead of test scores chicanery, and "closing down the Wall Street casinos." But it's at the end of this great read where Ms. Huffington really got my attention with her not-so-gentle reminder that if middle-class Americans are to keep their American Dream alive, then "it's the jobs, stupid". For the past four years, during which I was first Senior Economic Policy Advisor for John Edwards and later an unofficial adviser on jobs and trade issues for Barack Obama, I have railed against the inanity of counting each month only those unemployed workers actively looking for jobs -- and leaving uncounted the millions of workers so "discouraged" that they no longer actively look for work or who've accepted, out of necessity, part-time jobs even when they want and need full-time ones. In 1947, both major Parties decided to adopt this flawed methodology because it was (and obviously remains) politically 'helpful'. Politically and statistically, this country has always cared about how many Americans are employed -- doing so lies at the heart of what we are as an economy. But in the last sixty years and especially in the last thirty years we've lost sight of how many of our fellow Americans are unemployed, which more importantly lies at the heart of our democracy and our commitment to equal opportunity. If we were focused today on all unemployed workers, we would be asking ourselves how our economy can create the 21 million jobs needed in order for the workforce to be fully employed in real terms. We would be developing jobs policies that are especially sensitive to those newly unemployed workers who will have more difficulty being re-employed: older workers, the less educated, the handicapped, African-American and Hispanic workers, and those previously employed in construction and manufacturing. In doing so we would quickly see that the root of our current jobs problems is the dogmatic free-market approach of Tim Geithner, Larry Summers and the administration's other Bob Rubin acolytes, an approach which is keeping us from having an industrial and manufacturing policy, buy-domestic government procurement requirements, and fair free trade instead of the unbridled free trade we have now. It's more than illustrative that these individuals and the Obama administration decided to zero out in the FY 2011 budget request the very office within the Department of Labor that collects global economic and jobs statistics. Ms. Huffington is a committed ally of America's workers, which is why her latest book is such a critically important read. My only disappointment, and it's barely that, is that she did not add a full chapter on an issue that I know is important to her and workers everywhere, which is strengthening union representation and workers' rights, especially through passage of the Employee Free Choice Act, which right now is just another stalled if not broken campaign promise. When Ronald Reagan came to power in 1980, the conservative agenda which he advanced sped up the decline of unions and reversed the most progressive features of the U.S. tax system. Now fewer than a tenth of American private sector workers belong to a union, while workers in Canada and Europe, who are subjected to the same forces of globalization and technology as American workers, belong to unions in much larger numbers and are the beneficiaries of much more stable wages and benefits, especially health care.
But now I'm just picking nits. Third World America by Arianna Huffington is perceptive, eloquent and timely.

Leo Hindery, Jr. is Chairman of the US Economy/Smart Globalization Initiative at the New America Foundation and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. Currently an investor in media companies, he is the former CEO of Tele-Communications, Inc. (TCI), Liberty Media and their successor AT&T Broadband.

Editorial : This writer has been saying this, for how long now ? Until TRADE is fixed, things are not going to get better !
"In Deo Fiducia Nostra"

Monday, August 30, 2010

Social Security ~ Leave it Alone ! Is Alan Simpson > NUTS ?

Simpson's 'Tits' Are the Least of It !
By Robert Kuttner
Posted: August 29, 2010

When you think about it, Alan ("Tits") Simpson is the ideal jester to deflect attention from the bigger joke -- the fiscal reform commission itself. The problem is less Simpson's dopey comments and more the idiocy of the rest of the commission.

Given what is happening to the real economy in the real world, the prospect of a double-dip recession and the prospect of a lost decade of high unemployment, the idea that the bigger menace is Social Security is just whacko. Let's recall that Social Security is in surplus until 2037! Yet the idea that the road to recovery leads though cuts in Social Security, Medicare, and other social outlays that are keeping the depression from worsening, if anything, is gaining traction among opinion elites. Exhibit A is a doubly dishonest column by the New York Times' new whiz-kid pundit, Matt Bai, who used a liberal congressman, Earl Blumenauer of Oregon, as a prop to make his misleading case. According to Bai's column, Security is like a giant lottery, based on IOU's that will require a Ponzi Scheme of further debt. on the issue Now, it turns out that Bai is not just wrong, but Blumenauer doesn't believe what Bai attributed to him. In attacking the progressive coalition Strengthen Social Security, Bai wrote:
The coalition bases its case on the idea that Social Security is actually in fine fiscal shape, since it has amassed a pile of Treasury Bills -- often referred to as i.o.u.'s -- in a dedicated trust fund. This is true enough, except that the only way for the government to actually make good on these i.o.u.'s is to issue mountains of new debt or to take the money from elsewhere in the federal budget, or perhaps impose significant tax increases... So this is sort of like saying that you're rich because your friend has promised to give you 10 million bucks just as soon as he wins the lottery. But this is total malarkey. In fact, the 75-year projection of Social Security's finances shows that under fairly pessimistic assumptions about economic growth, the shortfall in Social Security's finances is just over half of one percent of GDP. Lift the cap on earnings subject to Social Security taxes, and the problem disappears. More importantly, get wage growth back to its historic trend of increasing as productivity increases (rather than the top getting the benefit of all the economic gains) and the problem vanishes without changing the tax code. Raise wages, and we could increase Social Security benefits. Bai not only distorted the reality of Social Security, but he also distorted Blumenauer's views, cherry picking quotes from two interviews to make it seem that the congressman favored such drastic measures promoted by deficit hawks as cutting benefits or raising the retirement age. But the quotes in the column don't say that -- only Bai's gloss on them -- and the congressman believes nothing of the sort. The trouble is that too many legislators make Delphic comments about whether Social Security should be "on the table," Bluenenauer's past vagueness gave Bai an opening, and Bai is all too representative of opinion elites -- including the Washington Post editorial page, columnists like David Broder, many Democratic as well as Republican congressmen, and some in the Obama administration. It was former Budget Director Peter Orszag, seconded by chief of staff Rahm Emanuel and the pollsters, who persuaded President Obama that the fiscal commission was a good idea. The theory was that the commission would give the president "cover" and demonstrate that he was fiscally responsible.
But as events have played out, this premise totally backfired. The commission provides plenty of cover all right, as in burial cloth. Its proposals could bury both the economy and this presidency. The commission has given a platform to clowns like Simpson. But worse, it has lent credibility to the idea that Social Security is somehow a drag on the economy -- creating a vicious circle of hawkish legislators and dishonest pundits like Bai feeding on each other. The reality, of course, is that if the economy (and Obama's fortunes) are going down the drain, the reason has nothing to do with Social Security's finances in 2037 -- and everything to do with slow growth, high unemployment, and the lingering effects of a damaged banking system right now. Yet the storyline being peddled by the commission, of a dire fiscal crisis, makes it politically more difficult for Obama to take the necessary steps to get a recovery going. There is a whole other path to economic recovery and fiscal balance. That other path has five parts:

•A lot more emergency federal spending now to create jobs and purchasing power.

•Increased taxes on the top two percent.

A continued program of public investment in physical and social infrastructure

A real public option on health insurance, to restrain medical inflation, which is the prime driver of federal deficits in the long run.

A defense of Social Security as a key source of income for the elderly.

This strategy is better economics and better politics. Voters, by overwhelming margins, support Social Security. Over the years, Republicans have tried to tamper with it. And it is lunacy for Democrats to associate themselves with efforts to cut it. But Obama's own fiscal commission has painted the president into a corner. Virtually all of the remedies we need to get a strong recovery going are seen as fiscally too costly; and willingness to go after Social Security is being touted as the test of fiscal responsibility. The campaign to fire Simpson has the right spirit but the wrong target. Obama should draw a line in the sand and make clear that if the commissioners propose cuts in Social Security, he will consider the whole exercise tainted. Maybe we should be grateful for Simpson and his 310 million tits. If his antics lead serious commentators take a closer look at the commission, perhaps they will also look deeper into the fiscal foolishness of Simpson's colleagues.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Mr. President ~ Remove Alan Simpson from Social Security Commission

Demand That Alan Simpson Resign from Social Security Committee

Mr. President; Remove Alan Simpson...He is a Disgrace !

On Wednesday, the Alliance wrote President Obama to demand the resignation of Alan Simpson as Co-Chair of the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform. Alliance President Barbara J. Easterling and Executive Director Ed Coyle wrote the White House in the wake of a growing pattern of offensive comments Simpson has been making about senior citizens, the most recent of which was an e-mail he wrote to the Executive Director of the Older Women's League, in which he said that Social Security is "like a milk cow with 310 million tits." In his message, former Sen. Simpson also told the prominent aging policy leader to "call when you get honest work." Easterling and Coyle wrote that his remarks are "conduct unbecoming a person named to co-chair a presidential panel. Moreover, it is the latest in a series of derisive and inappropriate comments Mr. Simpson has made about our nation's seniors and the Social Security benefits they have earned and rely upon to make ends meet." Previously, he had referred to seniors as "greedy geezers," said that lower-income Americans are "lesser people in society," and declared that he is frustrated hearing from retirees who, "live in gated communities and drive their Lexus to the Perkins restaurant to get the AARP discount." For a copy of the Alliance letter, go to > http://bit.ly/ci3x2S. <

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Vote Them Out, If They Cut $ocial $ecurity...Hey, That`s Me !

Don’t Raise the Retirement Age
by Mike Hall, Aug 24, 2010
If anybody knows the ins and outs of $ocial $ecurity, it’s Henry Ballantyne. He was the Social Security Administration’s chief actuary between 1982 and 2000. Today, he told a telephone press conference that “Social Security is financially sound….We don’t need to raise the retirement age.” The press conference, held with several Social Security advocates, addressed the growing number of reports that the federal budget deficit commission is likely to recommend raising the retirement age and making other cuts when it makes its recommendations after the November elections. That post-election date is a convenient excuse for lawmakers, enabling them to dodge taking a stand to protect Social Security with the lame explanation that they are waiting to see what the commission recommends. Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.), co-chairman of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, told reporters that his colleagues should show some backbone and courage and take a stand now. Members of Congress should be saying we are opposed to raising retirement age, other cuts, taxes on benefits and privatization. We should state unequivocally that is something we will not support. Works for us. Also today, the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) also released its “Top 10 Reasons Not to Raise the Retirement Age.” It’s not David Letterman funny, but then cutting Social Security is nothing to laugh at. Here are the top two reasons. Click here for the full list. http://www.epi.org/page/-/pdf/08242010_social%20security%20fact%20sheet.pdf

(1.)Raising the retirement age is a benefit cut, and benefits are already too low. The average retiree receives less than $14,000 a year from Social Security, which is less than the minimum wage.

(2.)Raising the retirement age cuts benefits for all retirees, whether they retire at age 62, age 70, or any other age—and it is a cut for retired workers’ spouses, widows and dependents as well. When the retirement age was raised from 65 to 67, it cut benefits by 13 percent for workers who retire at 65, meaning they lose, on average, $28,154 over the course of their expected retirement. Raising the retirement age further, to 70, would cut benefits another 19 percent, costing the average worker another $35,419, for a total loss of $63,573.

Editorial : Watch your Congressman/Woman and Senators closely, if they Vote to cut your Social Security, Vote them OUT ! Thanks to Mike Stanley for this one !

Monday, August 23, 2010

End of Tax Cuts for the Rich ! You Bet`cha !

Public to Lawmakers: End Tax Cuts for the Rich
by Tula Connell, Aug 20, 2010

A majority of the American public thinks Bush’s tax cuts should continue for families that make less than $250,000 a year but should rise to the previous level for those making more than that amount, according to a new CNN poll. Some 51 percent say the tax cuts, which expire at the end of this year, should end for the rich. Wise. Because as Dave Dayen points out, George W. Bush’s tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans are thought to cost $830 billion over 10 years, adding massively to the nation’s budget deficit. Overall, it’s generally considered that extending all the tax cuts would increase the deficit by $3.1 trillion dollars over the next 10 years. Former Labor Secretary Robert Reich is among those calling for an end to Bush’s tax cut for the rich, noting it has been a “huge windfall for the wealthy. About 40 percent of its benefits went to the tiny sliver of Americans earning over $500,000.” A final reason for allowing the Bush tax cut to expire for people at the top is the most basic of all. Although Wall Street’s excesses were the proximate cause of the Great Recession, its fundamental cause lay in the nation’s widening inequality. For many years, most of the gains of economic growth in America have been going to the top—leaving the nation’s vast middle class with a shrinking portion of total income. (In the 1970s, the top 1 percent received 8 to 9 percent of total income, but thereafter income concentrated so rapidly that by 2007 the top received 23.5 percent of the total.) The only way most Americans could continue to buy most of what they produced was by borrowing. But now that the debt bubble has burst—as it inevitably would—the underlying problem has reemerged. Extending the tax cuts for the rich would exacerbate the already massive income gap between the rich and the rest of us, and so, to end with Reich:

Why make it worse ?

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Rigging The Rules Against Unions

Monday, August 16, 2010 Posted by Jim Hightower

There's one direct, grassroots way that workaday folks can create more fairness in our country's plutocratic, corporate-controlled economy: unite in unions. Indeed, some 60 million workers say they'd join a union today if they could.

Well... why can't they ?

Because corporate chieftains and Wall Street financiers don't want us hoi polloi having any real say over such things as offshoring, downsizing, wages, benefits, and working conditions. So, for decades, they have deployed their lawyers, lobbyists, and politicians to rig the rules of unionization to keep people from joining together. For example, the Railway Labor Act, which sets union rules for railroads and airlines, has a tricky little provision to sidetrack nearly all new unionizing efforts in these industries. When a vote is taken among workers to decide whether they want a union, all employees who do not vote are counted as "no" – rather than not counted at all, as happens with non-voters in every other American election. However, the Obama administration has now repealed this absurdity, and – Whoa, Nellie! – the airlines have gone bonkers, unleashing their political partisans to howl in protest. Sen. Johnny Isakson, a well-funded attack dog for Delta Airlines, stood on his hind legs to declare that deleting non-voters from the "no" column was an "assault on employee rights."
Really Johnny ?
Then how would you like playing by such rigged rules for your own elections? In his last run, 79% of eligible Georgians either voted against Isakson or did not vote – so non-voters would've soundly defeated him.
Hmmm... If it would get rid of all the Isaksons, maybe the non-voter system might be a good thing after all – which is why hypocrites like him would never be for it.
"NEARLY 60 MILLION U.S. WORKERS WOULD JOIN A UNION IF THEY COULD," http://www.aflcio.org/ , June, 2010.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Free Trade, Not So !

Congress Must Fix Trade Deficit by Addressing China Currency Manipulation
by James Parks, Aug 17, 2010
The U.S. trade deficit hit $49.9 million in June, the highest it’s been in nearly two years. But many in Congress don’t see the need to solve this dangerous imbalance by addressing the problem behind the deficit—China’s currency manipulation.
Economist Paul Krugman correctly opposes such a timid position. Today, he took issue with an editorial by the New York Times—his employer—that called for a soft approach to China. Krugman writes: My colleagues believe that we should lecture the Chinese on what a bad thing they’re doing, but not actually threaten sanctions, lest we start a trade war. My belief is that this gets us nowhere. Right now, China is following a policy that is, in effect, one of imposing high tariffs and providing large export subsidies because that’s what an undervalued currency does. That should be a violation of trade rules; it might in fact be a violation, but the language of the law is vague on the subject. Check out Krugman’s column, “Killer Trade Deficits,” here below >>>>>>>>> http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/08/16/killer-trade-deficits/?scp=2&sq=paul%20krugman&st=cse .
Here’s the solution. When Congress gets back from its summer vacation, lawmakers should get down to work and pass currency legislation (H.R. 2378 in the House and S. 3134 in the Senate). Or as AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said last month: At a time when our economy is more than 10 million jobs short of pre-recession unemployment levels, and when we are focused on boosting exports to create jobs, we simply cannot afford to look the other way as the Chinese government continues to manipulate its currency for an unfair trade advantage. Stan Sorscher, a labor representative for the Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace/IFPTE Local 2001 (SPEEA), says the crux of the problem is that our free trade policy is: A bankrupt theory with a predictable track record of failure. Writing at Huffington Post, Sorscher says the only winners in the free trade scheme are bankers, investors and large multinationals. Our trading partners have industrial policies to guide their development. If we really want to rebuild our economy, we need a national industrial policy, too, he says. Read Sorscher’s entire post, “Free Trade: Flawed Theory and Bad Policy,” here below >>>>>> http://www.huffingtonpost.com/stan-sorscher/free-trade-flawed-theory-_b_682707.html

Monday, August 16, 2010

My Second Chance at Life ! August 17, 1994

Heart-Transplant Anniversary, August 17, 1994 http://www.gmwp.org/vision2013/oda/
by Don Jones

I began my journey on July 1, 1992 at Vanderbilt University Hospital in Nashville Tennessee. Little did I know, that I would wait two(2)years 17 days for my new heart ? After a long wait, I received my call on the afternoon of August 17, 1994. Dr. Yeoh called and said " Com`on Don We`ve got you a heart" ! I thought during this two year wait, that when the call came, and I never doubted that it would. I could drive myself and my wife to Vanderbilt and get my new heart. I was wrong. My mind was racing at 100 miles per hour, my bags packed. My youngest son Rip, was home and said, "Dad, I`ll drive you"! He did and on our way to Nashville, my wife needed to use the bathroom. He stopped at a Quick Stop on I-40 and Hwy 641. As my wife and I went inside, he sat in the car and waited. When we arrived at the rest rooms, both were occupied. The lady`s room cleared out first. There was a young Dad, and his son waiting to use the men`s room. My wife said, "Don go ahead and use the lady`s room, I`ll watch the door". I said no, I`ll wait. My wife looked at the young man waiting to get in the men's room and told him what our mission was, that we were on the way to Vanderbilt to get my new heart. He said "Sir, please use the lady`s room and good luck"! I did, and to make a long story short, it should have been a omen. When I arrived at Vanderbilt, I received a female heart. I actually received my heart under the best of conditions. My Donor was in the next operating room. Her heart was not removed until I arrived. I later found out that this is highly improbable. Dr. Walter Merrill MD, was my surgeon, when I arrived, he assured me that I was going to be fine. Later, I called him "The Great Merrill"! and he was. That was what seems like a lifetime ago. 16 years is a longtime in a transplants life. In this writers opinion, I have been a complete success. Have there been set backs ? Certainly. Have the set backs been worth it ? You bet !Everyone does not get a second chance, I did ! I try to not waste my time and one way of giving back, is My/Our Organ/Donation Awareness Program with my beloved "Freemasons of Tennessee" ! The unsung hero in all of this is my Donor and her Donor family ! She was killed in a traffic accident and had the forsight to have signed her drivers license and talked it over with her family. She gave me "The Gift of Life"! You can now go on-line and become an Organ Donor > Just click on the link > http://www.tndonorregistry.org/index.aspx <

http://www.gmwp.org/vision2013/oda/ <

My bible says that all knowledge comes from God ! It just seems to this transplant, that he gave more knowledge to Vanderbilt than their share ! The forgotten person in all of this is my wife. My wife, nurse, caregiver, pardner, lover, and Mother of my two Sons. She is my rock. I could not have made this incredible journey without her. I am/was Heart-Transplant #189 at Vandy. Today they are well over 600 heart-transplants. I thank God and Vanderbilt for this modern miracle ! Just recently, Dr. Mark Wigger MD, Heart-Transplant Director and my Dr. Saved my bacon again. I had pneumonia, he put me in Vandy three days and I`m well once more. "Thank You" Dr. Wigger and Sherri, my Transplant Nurse ! Just click on the link below to see our Organ/Donor Awareness Masonic Program !

> http://www.gmwp.org/vision2013/oda/ <

Friday, August 13, 2010

Republicans & Social Security ~ Scare You ? Scare`s Me !

75th Birthday of Social Security...

Tomorrow, August 14, is the 75th Anniversary of the day that President Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed the Social Security program into law, For a list of all the birthday activities, go to http://bit.ly/aTIDaP. Event highlights include those in Tucson, Arizona, where FDR's granddaughter is the special speaker at a lunch, and Rock Hill, South Carolina, where Alliance members will present Rep. John Spratt (D) with a special plaque to thank him for his service, along with a giant card signed by constituents asking him to continue protecting and preserving Social Security. Rep. Spratt will then cut a birthday cake and announce the winner of the raffle for whacking rights to a large "Fat Cat" piñata. Alliance President Barbara J. Easterling will call into the Social Security-Medicare party in Omaha, Nebraska to address those in attendance. "Retirees have much to be proud of as Social Security turns 75. It is a true American success story, one that has kept generations of seniors out of poverty, and allowed millions to retire with dignity and peace of mind. But this milestone anniversary is tainted by calls, in the name of deficit reduction, to cut Social Security benefits and raise the retirement age," House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH)(upper left), who offered another signal last Sunday that his party would favor raising the Social Security retirement age. Asked specifically on NBC's "Meet the Press" if he supports raising the retirement age to, say, 70, Boehner replied, "There are a lot of options on how you solve these (issues), but I don't want to put the cart before the horse." Later during the program, Boehner's deputy, Rep. Mike Pence (upper right) (R-IN), said of raising the retirement age, "...for younger Americans, absolutely yes, we ought to bring real reform for the sake of future generations of Americans to get spending under control." For related information, including a link to state reports from the group Strengthen Social Security, with detailed information down to the congressional district level on the impact of Social Security, go to www.strengthensocialsecurity.org/reports.

Raising the Retirement Age, with People Filing for Early Social Security Benefits ?
A striking trend is occurring: more people are filing early for their Social Security benefits in response to the weak economy. The Washington Post ( http://bit.ly/aHvTsz ) reported this week that more people filed for Social Security in 2009 (2.74 million) than in any year before. It's not just because of the baby boomers - there is a significant increase in individuals receiving reduced benefits because they filed in advance of their full retirement age. Noting the trend and referring to the Republican efforts to raise the retirement age, Alliance Secretary-Treasurer Ruben Burks said, "Can you imagine working until 70? In physically demanding jobs like construction, manufacturing, and the service sector, I just don't see how you can. And in a tough job market, who would hire someone in their late 60s? Raising the retirement age is a benefit cut - plain and simple. We cannot allow it to be done."

Editorial : Republicans want to get their hands on your/our Social Security ! We cannot allow them to privatize Social Security ! Those two Republican Congressman at top of page, need to GO ! It seems to this writer, that their picture ought to be in a post office, with a number under it.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Not Your Fathers Union ~ Hey Thats Me ! In a Word ~ Innovation !


Gov. Jennifer M. Granholm,Governor of Michigan
Posted: August 10, 2010 09:29

Not Your Father's, United Auto Workers...

The ground shook a bit in Michigan last week, and it had nothing to do with the weather or the interesting results of a state primary election. The speech of brand-new president of the UAW, Bob King, at the 45th annual Center for Automotive Research (CAR) Management Briefing Seminar at Traverse City sent tremors down I-75, right through Tennessee and down into Alabama and off to Juarez, too. Bob didn't give an ordinary speech -- and he certainly didn't have an ordinary message. Yes, he talked about the UAW's gratitude to the Obama Administration for saving the auto industry, its continuing commitment to the middle class, and to its core mission to protect the interests of its members. All predictable. The quakes began when he said: "The UAW of the 21st Century must be fundamentally and radically different from the UAW of the 20th Century. The 20th-Century UAW tried to find ways to achieve job security, such as job banks, that in the end did not achieve the results we were seeking. The 21st-Century UAW knows the only true path to job security is by producing the best quality product, the safest product and the longest lasting product at the best price."
King candidly acknowledged the union's past mistakes: fighting clean air efforts; opposing global trade; negotiating contracts that created adversarial relationships between union and management and created "a litigious and time-consuming grievance culture." Wow.
So what does King's focus mean for the future of American manufacturing? If King's vision is fully realized, the UAW becomes the auto industry's key partner in global competitiveness and stellar quality, and not the anchor that pulls a company under because of inflexibility and costs. The UAW becomes the trainer and the broker of the world's greatest talent for manufacturing the most technologically complex mass-produced product in the world. Indeed, instead of being blamed for chasing investment away from industrial states, the UAW may become the place to turn to ensure a company's success. That would be a welcome paradigm shift. In Dundee, Michigan, the UAW has negotiated just such a contract. The Global Engine Manufacturing Alliance is producing the new engine for the Fiat 500. To ensure maximum flexibility, the UAW contract has only one job classification. The objective of the plant - and of the new Chrysler -- is to ensure that "anyone can do any job, anywhere, anytime." The team concept is deployed on the floor of the new plant. The observer can't tell which worker belongs to management and which worker is a member of the union. Every person hired in this factory has a college degree or technical certification. Partnership. Quality. Competitiveness. Flexibility. Teamwork. Innovation. Productivity. Continuous cost-savings. Respect. These are the words of the new UAW and the new auto industry - and the words of a hopeful future for advanced manufacturing jobs in America.
Editorial : This writer has been advocating this for a longtime ! United Steelworkers of America, Leo Gerard, are you reading/listening ? I`ve never met Bro. Bob King, President UAW ~ "Thank You" ! I wondered what innovation meant, now, I know !

Friday, August 06, 2010

Republicans Want YOUR Social Security ! STOP THEM NOW !

Report Shows Social Security Is Strong for the Long Term
by Mike Hall, Aug 5, 2010

Despite the nation’s overall economic problems, Social Security is still in long-term strong shape, according to the most recent report by the Social Security Board of Trustees. The trustees project that after 2037, tax revenue will be sufficient to pay 78 percent of full benefits. The projected funding shortfall over 75 years is actually lower than in last year’s report. Also, a report by Medicare’s Board of Trustees shows that the recently enacted health care reform law will significantly slow Medicare cost growth, thereby extending the life of Medicare’s trust fund for 12 years, reducing Part B premiums and reducing the federal deficit. Social Security’s $2.5 trillion trust fund will continue to grow for another 14 years and Social Security will pay out full benefits from its own dedicated resources for another 27 years, according to the report.
Says AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka:
The reports are a needed comeuppance to right-wing, ideological opponents of Social Security and Medicare who, year after year, twist the facts to undermine public confidence in these essential programs, hoping that this will lessen public resistance to their wildly unpopular agenda of benefit cuts, privatization, and vouchers
. The report is not likely to slow what Nancy Altman and Eric Kingston, co-chairs of the just-launched coalition Strengthen Social Security…Don’t Cut It, call the growing drumbeat that has convinced much of the political and media elite that Social Security is in crisis, unaffordable, out of date, and should be changed fundamentally—or at the very least, cut back for those not yet retired.
Click here to read their recent op-ed in the Cap Times. The federal budget deficit commission, by all accounts, is considering benefits cuts, including raising the retirement age, even though as the AFL-CIO told a House Ways and Means committee hearing last month, Social Security “is not a principal contributor to deficits in the short or the long term.” Electrical Workers (IBEW) President Edwin Hill writes in a Huffington Post column this week that along with anti-Social Security politicians like House Minority Leader Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio), Wall Street also is singing in the benefit-cut chorus. Former Lehman Brothers chief executive Peter Peterson is launching a multi-million dollar campaign to convince voters that without immediate cutbacks to Social Security benefits, our country faces imminent financial collapse. In addition, Hill writes that “a swath of new Tea Party-inspired” GOP candidates have gone on record in support of privatizing Social Security, including Senate candidates Sharron Angle in Nevada and Rand Paul in Kentucky… [and Ohio Rep. John Boehner] have dodged the question about whether or not the GOP will try to privatize Social Security if it takes over Congress in November.

Altman says politicians “should stop scaring the American people.”

Social Security is strong and should be strengthened, not cut. The reality is the biggest threat to Social Security is the politicians in Washington who continue to play politics with this issue. The Campaign for America’s Future (CAF) has launched a new campaign to send a message to every politician in Washington—Hands off Social Security! You can click here to sign the petition that tells lawmakers: We need to strengthen Social Security, not cut it. That is why I oppose any cuts to Social Security benefits, including increasing the retirement age. I also oppose any effort to privatize Social Security, in whole or in part.

CAF is partnering with MoveOn.org, Democracy for America, Credo Action and the Teamsters to send the messages. Also, as part of the upcoming 75th anniversary (Aug. 14) of Social Security being signed into law, the Alliance for Retired Americans wants to hear your stories about how Social Security has made a difference in your life—or positively impacted a family member, neighbor or friend. It could be a >

•A story about you, a family member, a friend or a neighbor.
•A story about Social Security helping a family survive after a tragedy
•A story about Social Security making retirement possible.
If you are a younger worker who would be affected by cuts in Social Security benefits or raising the retirement age—especially if you are one of 78 million Americans who does not have a retirement plan through your employer or has a 401(k) slammed by the economy, you can submit you concerns and worries about Social Security too.

You can submit your story to the American Stories Project here. http://blog.aflcio.org/2010/08/05/report-shows-social-security-is-strong-for-the-long-term/

Editorial : Bottom line, Republicans want YOUR Social Security Money ! They want it to invest on Wall-Street ! Now that would be a smart move, duh, I don`t think so ! Keep our money off of Las-Vegas-Wall-Street ! Please click on the title of this blog to get links that are necessary to put your story out there ! or click on the link below !

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

President Obama~Keep it "Made in America" !

President Obama SaysMade in America’ at Heart of U.S. Recovery
by Mike Hall, Aug 4, 2010

President Obama spoke today at the AFL-CIO Executive Council meeting. Seated (from left): AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Liz Shuler, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka and AFL-CIO Executive Vice President Arlene Holt Baker. President Obama today told the AFL-CIO Executive Council, “We are going to keep fighting for an economy that works for everybody, not just a privileged few.” He also said that with the help of working families and their unions, we are going to rebuild our economy stronger than before, and at the heart of it will be three simple words: Made in America. Speaking on his 49th birthday at the Washington (D.C) Convention Center, the president told the council that this fall’s election is a choice between polices that encourage job creation here in America or encourage jobs to go elsewhere…The choice is whether we want to go forward or we want to go backwards to the same policies that got us into this mess in the first place. He spoke about the need to invest in clean technology, like solar panels, wind turbines, nuclear plants, clean coal and new car batteries. Instead of giving tax breaks to corporations that want to ship jobs overseas, we want to give tax breaks to companies that are investing right here in the United States of America. Obama said that after nearly a decade of failed economic policies that “drove America’s economy into a ditch….We’re on the right track.” Instead of losing millions of jobs, we have created jobs for six straight months in the private sector. Instead of an economy that is contracting, we’ve got an economy that is expanding. So the last thing we would want to do is go back to what we were doing before. Responding to a question from AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, Obama said “We are going to keep fighting for the Employee Free Choice Act.” Recalling Franklin D. Roosevelt’s comment that if he were a factory worker, he’d join a union, Obama said:. Well, I tell you what. I think that’s true for workers generally. I think if I was a coal miner, I’d want a union representing me to make sure that I was safe and you did not have some of the tragedies that we’ve been seeing in the coal industry. If I was a teacher, I’d want a union to make sure that the teachers’ perspective was represented as we think about shaping an education system for our future.
Editorial : Mr. President, its trade, trade, trade !

Monday, August 02, 2010

Save the Congressional Millionaire$...

Friday, July 23, 2010 Posted by Jim Hightower

Let's hear a cheer for a much maligned group of American workers, for they have stood up and done the right thing ! Not pimps, not drug chieftains, not Big Oil executives or Wall Street bankers – more maligned even than these. Yes, members of Congress! With a public approval rating ticking down toward single digits, these 535 workers could use a bit of good press, and they recently earned some. Actually, it was not for anything they did, but for something they did not do: they did not increase their pay this year. So let's all lift our glasses of Dom Pérignon champagne to toast these frugal political stalwarts who voted to restrict their pay to the level they’re presently drawing – a mere $174,000 each. Plus health care. Plus pensions. Etc. Okay, that's a far better deal than 95 percent of American workers get, but it's the thought that counts. And lest you think that our lawmakers are living the life of Riley while their constituents are scrambling to stay one step ahead of bankruptcy, let me point out that they, too, have been hit hard by the Great Recession, and their level of wealth has taken a tragic tumble. Did you know, for example, that the median net worth of U.S. Senators has fallen to only $1.79 million ? The media establishment gives wide coverage to the plight of the unemployed, but it ignores this compelling story of congressional wealth decline. Worse, we're given sensationalist reports that while only one percent of Americans are millionaires, 44 percent of our lawmakers are in the millionaire class. But, guess what? That supposedly damning number means that 56 percent of the members are not millionaires. How do you think that makes them feel? Let's show some kindness here. It's time for a national movement to save the congressional millionaire$! Give generously, won't you? I`m sorry, but, I`m still lmao ! They just wanna serve ! roflmaon !

"Congress, where 44 percent are millionaires, freeze pay," http://www.yahoo.com/ , May 3, 2010.