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The Washington Post ran a very revealing online chat  yesterday with one of their business columnists, Steven Pearlstine.  He was quite open that what the "economy" [business leaders, I guess] needed now is a working class with a reduced standard of living that will compete with third world  labor.

He was using the Delphi, and the automotive industries' debacles, as his example.  The answer to all the problems is to knock back the workers' wages below "middle class" standards, and reduce their benefits, particularly health care.

To all comers who brought up the facts that Delphi managers had deliberately underfunded pensions, had stolen funds from the company, had managed it poorly, and, finally, had awarded themselves bonuses even as they demanded that workers take wage cuts, Pearstine responded:  But that doesn't matter.  The basic truth is that the workers, all workers, must work for less pay so that their companies will still be competitive with overseas labor.  (About the bonuses, all he could bring himself to say was that it was bad PR).

He said (I'm paraphrasing here) that citizens who don't complete college or earn a trade skill must not expect to live a middle class life, and that the middle class itself will shrink further, but not disappear.  

Several responders raised the question of the US's lack of national health insurance and the handicap it imposes on the economy, to which he responded by simply saying the US wasn't ready to accept that.

To me this chat was a rather open statement that the business class expects the US to reorganize itself as an oligarchy with a more classic "proletariat" than has existed previously.  I'm not sure how they expect consumers to keep propping up the business economy in this scenario - that wasn't addressed.

If the era of middle class workers is to be ended, then it gives us a chance as well.  We can demand a more European style (actually, global, not just European) health care and pension system, and we can make the case that this kind of capitalism does not work for all Americans.

This, to me, is class war.  I do think this kind of capitalism is finished.  

I'd like to see some creative "buying strikes" that would send a message to the economy.  Actually, what I'd like to see is that people deliberately (along with the many who are unable) underspend their Christmas budgets and send a message that the US citizens are what keeps the economy afloat.

Originally posted to Pellice on Thu Oct 13, 2005 at 03:25 AM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  What Mr. Pearlstine fails to understand (4.00)
    is that when you lose your industries where most of the middle class workers work you also lose the training and education for the next generation of workers.  In other words, if you can hire an engineer from India much cheaper than one trained here in the United States, then at some point American students will stop learning to become engineers. Same way with Doctors, Nurses, Pilots, etc.

    The way my simple mind works, to continue on this road will lead to the United States having an economy like Mexico's, a huge pool of cheap labor, but no industries to gainfully employ us all.

    I think it is high time that we realize that what may be great for a corporation isn't always great for the nation.

    Those who are willing to sacrifice liberty for safety deserve neither. (Paraphrasing B. Franklin)

    by p a roberson on Thu Oct 13, 2005 at 03:38:45 AM PDT

    •  asdf (4.00)
      Perhaps someone should ask the esteemed Mr. Pearlstine if he is prepared to work for competitive wages, and more pertinently, if he is happy for his children to do so, without the benefits of pensions and healthcare.
      •  they forget...they are few, we are many (4.00)
        We used to have a top tax rate of 90%. We can again, if they don't behave. Well it is actually not a good idea economically, but a 40-45% upper end tax rate is doable.  Maybe a few riots and burnt mansions might be needed first.

        SOCIAL SECURITY: Invented by Democrats yesterday, Protected by Democrats today

        by mollyd on Thu Oct 13, 2005 at 04:22:47 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  We should have a top rate of 90% (4.00)
          again.  We should use the income from the top rates to pay down the national debt and to grants for colleges or trade schools and to for national health care.

          Nations that take themselves offshore should be paying the taxes they would had they not offshored.  Those companies GREW in this country and owe this country.

          I fear for my country.  I fear my country.

          "War is regarded as nothing but the continuation of state policy with other means." - Karl von Clausewitz

          by maybeeso in michigan on Thu Oct 13, 2005 at 06:20:49 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  That era of high taxation (4.00)
            was the longest period of sustained growth and strength in the American economy.
          •  Take home pay should be limited to (4.00)
            $200,000 a year plus an incentive for each free market job paying $40,000 or more created.

            If you want to get rich, you should be required to create high paying jobs supported by the marketplace.

            •   no (4.00)
              no, no it shouldn't. it is odd that your comment refers to the 'free market' when it would abolish it.
              a free market is free to set prices for goods and services. capping everyone's salary at $200k a year is 1) bad economics 2) bad sociology.

              lets put aside for the moment that the truly wealthy don't sell their time to get by in the world, they invest. and as your suggestion ignores that rather huge part of the economy it would be entirely ineffective towards what i presume your aim to be. ignoring that...

              i want my pediatric neurosurgeon to make a shitload of money. i do not want her going off to work in another country where she will be fairly compensated because some authoritarian regime has decided to limit salaries in the U.S.

              we should have quality health care for everyone . ability to pay should not be a factor in the quality of medical care anyone receives.

              public schools should be temples to the best practices in education. good teachers should earn six figure salaries. every school child should be well equipped (including well fed). we must do away with savage inequalities.

              but i want my neurosurgeon to make a shitload of money, and your suggestion would destroy the US - not just the economy, but the US. perhaps you've heard of a lil place called the USSR that tried an experiment somewhat like you're suggesting...

              •  Your neurosurgeon can train new surgeons (none)
                to his high standards.

                He can then put them on his payroll.

                Then more high quality surgeons will be available to treat even more patients.

                He can then bring home more than $200,000 a year.

                DOCTORS CAN'T REALISTICALLY FLEE

                If I have to go overseas for medical care, I will have a choice of where I go. I may pick a German surgeon instead.

                Medical providers either have to work in the United States or compete against surgeons in countries like India or China.

                •  Your're still wrong (none)
                  1. not every one can teach - just try it some time.
                  2. If ery job is capped at $200,000 I'm gonna get the easiest job for my $200,00 income - I'm no fool.
                  3. If everyone earns $200,000 all prices will go up to ensure that they reflect the fact that people make $200,000 - evrey one looks for profit.
                   
                  •  Yes, wrong.... (none)
                    Take home pay should be limited to $200,000 a year based on how many ice cream cones you can eat. Makes as much sense. Reality check time...

                    On Perlstein and beautiful irony: Poynter

                    4/20/2004 10:14:11 AM

                    PRIZE-WINNING WALL STREET JOURNAL REPORTERS TO SPEAK OUT AT WEDNESDAY'S ANNUAL MEETING -- AND TO STAGE PROTEST OUTSIDE

                    Inside the Dow Jones annual meeting on Wednesday, Pulitzer-Prize winning Wall Street Journal reporters will stand up and speak to directors and shareholders about the damaging effects that proposed healthcare cuts and pay limits will have on quality at the Journal. Dozens of other Journal and Dow Jones employees will attend the meeting to support those speeches. (The Journal is Dow Jones's flagship publication.)

                    •  Creating jobs high paying jobs is more (none)
                      beneficial to society than eating ice cream.

                      Want more money? Create more high paying market sector jobs!

                      I am simply proposing to measure a very useful quality such as middle class job creation and allow it to be rewarded.

                      I don't care to continue to reward greedy people for laying off Americans and for jacking up my bills.

                  •  yeah, this sounds like free market communism to me (none)
                    with the worst of both systems.

                    </shudder>

                  •  You will find that few jobs paying (none)
                    $200,000 are easy.

                    If you know about any easy $200,000 jobs, please post the details below.

                    People making more than $200,000 tend to have specific skills enabling them to earn such large sums. They will generally have a hard time switching to something else that still pays $200,000.

                    Furthermore, I don't think people with the easiest $200,000 jobs will be inclined to give them up.

                •  wtf (none)
                  if you have to go overseas for medical care you'll have a choice of where you'll go?

                  well that's just fucking great for you, now isn't it.

                  1. how about those of us without the financial resources to afford international airfare? and hotel and skilled rehab stays? and the fees of foreign doctors and hospitals (i hear, from pastordan among others, that they can be quite expensive)??

                  2. how about those of us who didn't do the requisite pre-planning for our emergency trauma surgeries?

                  3. how about those of us who are stuck in this country (see 1) and therefore have to fight behemoth HMO's - who have a fiduciary obligation to only care about profits - every god damn day in order to survive? fuck us huh?

                  what unabashed self-ishness. what arrogance. oh, it's ok cus you can go to Germany.

                  by the way, doctors at teaching hospitals do teach. they teach med students, they teach residents, and they teach fellows. in your 'plan' who exactly gets credit for training the fourth year med student during clinical rotations? the junior resident? the senior resident? the attending? do they all divy up the incentive? or do they all get the full bonus?

                  and my attending neurosurgeon, btw, wouldn't be employing the residents or fellows she trains. they'd be working for the hospital - or the hospital's physician orginization. does the CEO of the hospital of the PO then get credit for the work of my attending neurosurgeon under your 'plan'?

                  •  You have to truly CREATE a JOB (none)
                    needed and supported by the market and not simply manage or transfer an old job or simply teach somebody how to do a job.

                    Setting up Dr. Bob's Emergency Trauma Center would be considered a transfer.

                    Teaching a novel surgical technique for a previously untreatable condition and then hiring people to perform it would qualify.

                    Scams will trigger IRS penalties and interest charges and possible jail time.

                    Most hospitals receive so much government money that they shouldn't qualify as market based entities.

                    Also if courts are used to collect past due bills, that income would not count proportionately towards the $40,000 requirement.

                    Lifting an individual's income above $40,000 for the first time would be an important test. Don't fire an old employee making $50,000 because that would then simply be a job transfer.

                    If you trained me to be a fine Afghan cuisine chef and paid me at least $40,000 a year you would be on your way. There are no Afghan restaurants in my area and I haven't made $40,000 a year for more years than I care to admit.

                    If you opened SV Breweries with me and we had five people making more than $40,000 a year, we could agree to let you claim all five.

                    Basically, I am proposing a job creation tax credit. If you feel that is too difficult, feel free to stick with a $200,000 a year limit.

              •  asdf (none)
                I want my musicians to make a shitload of money because everyday when they sit down to write or play I want them making the best damn music money can buy.

                That doesn't feel like such a solid argument when directed at musicians though.

                I would like my pediatric nuerosurgeon to care about children and take it as a privilege to do a job that can profoundly and positively effect their lives. I also want my pediatric neurosurgeon to have a deep dedication to the arts of surgery and medicine. For their hard work and many years of training I expect them to have a very comfortable lifestyle, but that shouldn't be the reason they entered the profession.

                etrans.blogspot.com

                Tracking energy and transportation news.

                by joel3000 on Thu Oct 13, 2005 at 10:47:14 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

              •  dude (none)
                what are you doing arguing for the free market when you have a political compass score of -7.13, -6.92?!?

                just joking :).  it just reinforces my idea that the political compass quiz is not measuring what it claims to meaure. nice post i give you a 4!

                "Religion ... it's the crystal meth of the masses." - Salman Rushdie

                by colorless green ideas on Thu Oct 13, 2005 at 10:52:27 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  heh. (none)
                  yea, can i tell you a secret? this thread actually reminded me i wanted to put those numbers in my post.

                  i'm a democratic socialist. i think that's rather different than capping everyone's incoming at $200k.

                  i think the best solution we have to the economic and sociological questions humanity faces is a democratically regulated free market. i think excellent universal education is the bedrock upon which sound democracies are built and sustained.

                  do i like that society values (as measured by income) rap more than it values physics? or football more than medicine? nope. but the only way to change it is to truly educate the populace.

                  •  i scored a (-6.00, -7.33) (none)
                    and i consider myself a free-market liberal, in the vein of RFK jr, so what does that mean?? i guess it means that just because many on the radical right have defined "free market" as no government intervention at all (except of course, property rights, corporate licences, patent, trademark, copyright, huge military, etc), doesn't mean we have to accept their definition.

                    "Religion ... it's the crystal meth of the masses." - Salman Rushdie

                    by colorless green ideas on Thu Oct 13, 2005 at 01:51:45 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                •  Somebody in the bottom left corner is a... (none)
                  ...Liberal Libertarian.  Of course they would be for the free market (although they would also be for fairly high taxes and a strong social net).
                  •  i disagree (none)
                    according to their "analysis" a person in the lower left quadrant would have the same economic views as Stalin, matched with libertarian social views.  

                    Which of course is absurd, since there are really no questions that talk about state ownership of industry, or a "command economy", and only one that talks about private property (in regards to ownership own land). Their analysis positively states that there is a "commitment to a totally controlled economy, on the hard left", and that "further right still would be someone like that ultimate free marketeer...".

                    So, their scale suggest that left vs. right is a completely "controlled market" vs. a completely "free market", thus they suggest that their questions will map a persons beliefs according to this scale, yet they don't even ask questions that reflect the extremes of the scale, so you have free-market liberals showing up economically equivalent to Stalin!

                    I'll try to illustrate my criticism more explicitly. There are many economic questions that ask us about corporations, here is an example:

                    "Because corporations cannot be trusted to voluntarily protect the environment, they require regulation."

                    An "Agree" registers a negative (left) economic score and a "Disgree" registers a positive (right) economic score.

                    So how does this question have nothing to do with "left" or "right" as defined by them?

                    In communism, there need not be regulation, because the government is the only economic producer/supplier.  The only regulation is military, and police in order to prevent people from illegaly entering the market.

                    In a so-called "free market" absent of any government regulation whatsoever, a "corporation" would not exist: a corporation is a fictitious entity--a government sanction, protected, and often subsidized regulation.

                    So their bounds already smaller that the scale they present, and their questions make certain assumptions that include government regulations that are not calculated in their results.

                    I could go on like this for hours.

                    "Religion ... it's the crystal meth of the masses." - Salman Rushdie

                    by colorless green ideas on Fri Oct 14, 2005 at 01:23:38 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                  •  not to mention, even that the military (none)
                     is a huge government imposition on the economy, and nearly all the military related questions register as "authoritarian" on the social scale.

                    what this quiz does is measure the magnitude of economic and social political values as best relating to a generalized representation contemporary political economies of the highly developed nations (but mainly the US and UK), all of which are mixed economies, and the standard left/right coalitions that exist within them.  They really blow it when they attempt to bring in historical figures, and to define the scale in abstract terms.

                    "Religion ... it's the crystal meth of the masses." - Salman Rushdie

                    by colorless green ideas on Fri Oct 14, 2005 at 01:35:45 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

              •  I want more pediatric surgeons. (none)
                If medical schools admitted all qualified candidates, we would have more doctors and surgeons and perhaps the so-called free market would adjust the salaries. I find it interesting that many MDs support the concept of free markets when the number of doctors is kept artificially low.

                Don't Panic - Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

                by slatsg on Thu Oct 13, 2005 at 03:33:03 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

            •  disagree (none)
              wage caps during the depression is what lead to our crazy system of employer funded platinum health plans (and other benefits) for desirable employees, which is what has kept us from getting real health care reform over the past 50+ years.

              besides the fact that it sets a bad precedent for overly intrusive government control.

              i like your idea about incentives for job creation, though.

              "Religion ... it's the crystal meth of the masses." - Salman Rushdie

              by colorless green ideas on Thu Oct 13, 2005 at 10:48:45 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  No hard ceiling on pay (4.00)

              I favor a percentage approach to limiting CEO/Executive pay.  Let's say that if any CEO wants to get paid more money, then he has to raise worker pay to get the pay increase and that any corporation that fails to follow the formula suffers from higher taxes and reduced deductions.  So, let's say that for a corporation to get maximum tax benefits, the CEO pay can be no higher than 300% of the pay of their average worker.  Thus, to increase CEO pay, average worker pay must increase.  There must be no trickery allowed to sidestep the requirements.  No, "This is a corporate mansion that the CEO is living in, not his/her own" or other means of compensating without having to actually claim it as pay.  If you LIVE as if you are paid X amount, then you and your corporation WILL lose tax incentives and deductions.


              You own a business and want to maximize your income and the tax breaks for your business?  OK, increase the pay of your workers.  Your pay increases as a percentage of the average wage of your average worker.  Win-win.

              "The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people." --9th Amendment

              by praedor on Thu Oct 13, 2005 at 10:52:06 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  WRT the mansion (none)
                How would that apply to Governors, Presidents, University Presidents, and the like?
                •  Public servants (4.00)

                  Are not the same as filthy-rich CEOs, etc.  Inspite of the nonsense rhetoric to the contrary, the President is NOT the CEO of a business and is not actually paid all that much.  The Whitehouse and other official buildings are symbols of governance and are entirely different than some secretive, gated-community bazillionaire getting millions of $$ in compensation for being a CEO while worker pay and benefits are cut, cut, cut.  Hell's Bells, the CEOs get bazillions in "compensation", etc, when they fail utterly and the company tanks and they are removed from the chair!  No sympathy here at all for such execs.  Their very lives should be tied to the wellbeing of the society as a whole and the workers that make everything they take for granted possible in the first place.


                  In any case, the mansion thing can be fiddled but I rather like the Exec compensation thing being hard-wired to worker compensation.  Every benefit cut or pay cut for the workers equals a similar cut in Executive pay and benefits.  Pay increases and benefit enhancements lead to Executive pay increases and enhancements.  Failure leads to failure, period, for the CEO.  If the company tanks, you leave with nothing but what you've managed to save while you ran the company into the ground.

                  "The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people." --9th Amendment

                  by praedor on Thu Oct 13, 2005 at 11:19:31 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

              •  good point (none)
                i think this is a decent argument

                "In 2004, the ratio of average CEO pay to the average pay of a production (i.e., non-management) worker was 431-to-1, up from 301-to-1 in 2003, according to "Executive Excess," an annual report released Tuesday by the liberal research groups United for a Fair Economy and the Institute for Policy Studies.

                That's not the highest ever. In 2001, the ratio of CEO-to-worker pay hit a peak of 525-to-1."
                cnn

                even if one argues that a ceo adds a tremendous amount of value to a company, did ceo's become 130 times more valuable than their average worker in the span of only one year, 2003 to 2004?

                no, of course not. they did however get better at fleecing their average workers and their own sharehodlers.

              •  I'd be more in favor of ... (none)
                A corporate overcompensation fee.

                For every company that does $X Million or more of sales in the USA, look at their wage structure.  For every worker that gets compensated over $Y relative to their average worker, impose a 50% fee (not a tax, a fee) on that excess compensation.

                Applies to all companies doing business in the USA, whether headquartered in Europe, the Caymans, whatever.  It's not a tax, so you pay it whether or not the company is profitable or not and you can't get out of it with accounting tricks.

                Companies can get out of paying it by either raising wages or reducing the ludicrious compensation packages executes are receiving.

                •  OK, I like this (none)

                  I like your idea as well - get the offshoring bastards or out-of-country corps that screw workers and the US taxpayer.  Anything so long as CEO/Exec pay and benefits are punished if they goe above a certain ratio compared to worker pay and benefits.

                  "The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people." --9th Amendment

                  by praedor on Thu Oct 13, 2005 at 01:20:55 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

            •  Setting hard limits is disastrous (none)
              $200,000 a year plus an incentive for each free market job paying $40,000 or more created.

              Setting any hard limits in the economy has usually disastrous consequences as the hard limits are insensitive to industry types, amounts of education and experience required etc.

              If you want to get rich, you should be required to create high paying jobs supported by the marketplace.

              True, but the actual metrics is to create benefits to the society. The society then measures those benefits by paying for them, as customers, at the free market, where supposedly many such providers of benefits compete. The scheme otherwise known as Adam Smith's grand theory.

              Of course that does not work anymore (never did actually but various conditions were obsucring that) for many reasons. So adjustments are required.

              The main problems of excessive wealth accumulation and the resulting decrease in competition can be tackled by steep progressive, exponential even tax structure based on the median income of the population with costs of education being deducted. It is self-adjusting and allows for individual variations on the scheme of things. Those greedier will still climb higher although the system would be designed to create a "law of diminishing returns", whereby if you climb high enough the taxation rate becomes 99.99%. This of course combined with very steep inheretance tax to create a break on multi-generational accumulation.

              On the same note, larger the companies are in general, less capitalistic they get as the decreasing numbers of ever larger behemoths decrease free-market choices of the consumers and their political and financial power creates unscaleable barriers to market entry for small players. That is why companies should also have such progressive scale, to ensure a large number of smaller competitors, which satisifes the "free-market" part of the theory from the consumer's point of view.

              As to offshoring, someone on this very thread proposed a simple system: a fee for wage disparity payable by any company selling goods and services in the country. You calculate the difference between the total income of the top executive and the bottom floor sweeper, and if it exceeds a certain ratio (not sure how to auto calculate that) the company has to pay the difference (times some value probably) as a penalty.

              I am sure other self-adjusting tricks exist to stop the negative trends and bring about socially conscious forms of capitalism.

              •  Many companies pay their salesmen (none)
                a base salary plus a commission.

                I am really just proposing to force fatcats to be compensated like they compensate their salespeople.

                I think an incentive for paying fast food workers well would be a great idea.

        •  buying strike (none)
          Hmm.  If Amerikan krony kapitalists want American workers' salaries to match the 3rd worlds', perhaps product prices here can match those of the 3rd world as well. (Pharmaceuticals anyone?)
        •  How do you think we built the highways? (none)
          Was the 1950's some sort of economic nightmare?  What's wrong with a 90% tax on income over $1,000,000?  It would allow us to become a humane society.
      •  Already taken care of, thanks... (4.00)
        They've ended the "death tax" so Pearlstine et al. can simply leave all their ill-gotten bonses to their kids, who will be the smug masters of our kids.

        Check!

        Got that one taken care of...

      •  Good point (4.00)
        How much of a business reporter's work involves interviewing people on the phone or researching and transmitting material over the Internet? A very great deal, I imagine. Surely many bright young college graduates in India could learn to do that.

        Schmoozing contacts might be a problem, but surely a good client gift service, based in Hong Kong, perhaps, could probably fill that gap.

    •  This is already happening in IT (3.85)
      Report after report keep showing that fewer Americans are going into the Information Technology field. The perception is that after the bubble and with the advent of overseas outsourcing, it's not a lucrative field anymore.

      There still are jobs out there, but it isn't the stellar career it seemed to be just eight years ago. And as technology changes, the need for developers will diminish. Right now, software development is at the same stage manufacturing was about 1840-1850. It's still mainly hand-crafted with some interchangable parts. Each application is basically a one-off. Sure, objects and SOA will go some distance towards streamlining software manufacturing, but someday soon someone will come out with the software equivalent of the manufacturing robot. You'll still need someone to set it up, and still need people to create the design, but then you'll just press a button and software comes out the other end. Where you have 50 developers in an IT shop today, you'll only need 5. Instead of 3 business analysts, though, you'll need 15, so that might be an area of re-training, but just as not every factor line worker was going to be able to retrain for service or sales jobs, not every developer will make a good business analyst.

      So, the biggest threat to the professional middle class these days, will be when the great white hope for those wanting to move up out of the service sector will become as obsolete as textile factory work. What's left? Mainly McJobs with low pay, bad or no help paying for health care, and no future, no path upwards. Once this becomes reality and the workers finally realize that the American Dream is now only reserved for those who are already living it, there will be trouble.

      Plane Crazy
      Who's seen the future of IT, it's closer than you think.

      "It is hard to fight anger, for a man will buy revenge with his soul." Heracleitus, 500 BCE

      by PlaneCrazy on Thu Oct 13, 2005 at 05:00:43 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  any prove for this theory? (none)
        Right now, software development is at the same stage manufacturing was about 1840-1850. It's still mainly hand-crafted with some interchangable parts. Each application is basically a one-off. Sure, objects and SOA will go some distance towards streamlining software manufacturing, but someday soon someone will come out with the software equivalent of the manufacturing robot. You'll still need someone to set it up, and still need people to create the design, but then you'll just press a button and software comes out the other end.

        i see no prove of that .. sounds to me more like a ad of some new VisualSuperDuper Powerbuilder IDE.
        Ok, programming has a good deal of handcraft, but as soon as you leave the area of trivial software design takes about 50-80% of the project time, and only 20% will be spent on implementing and testing. And only the parts where craftsmanship is needed can be automized, for the design one would need true artificial intelligence .. and i didnt see a sign of something like this either

        Common sense is the collection of prejudices acquired by age eighteen. -- Albert Einstein

        by TheGerman on Thu Oct 13, 2005 at 05:37:35 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Check out rentacoder.com (4.00)
          I often look at and bid on some contract jobs here, as there are a lot of them listed every day. But it's tough to compete against the overseas crew, as it seems they will work for about $2 an hour. At least that's my estimate from what their bid is versus what how much time I think it would take to accomplish, using my 20+ years of experience as a guide.

          "Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about the things that matter." Dr. ML King, from a jail cell in Birmingham, Alabama in 1963.

          by bewert on Thu Oct 13, 2005 at 06:57:09 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  hah (4.00)
            Don't worry.  You'll still have work to do.  After you've written a fifty page manual on requirements and design, they'll rip through the coding at $2 an hour, do a bit of testing, hand it over to you to implement, roll off the project, and then you can spend the rest of your days fixing it, even though the code looks like it was written in a foreign language that you don't speak.
        •  still a lot of time being spent on trivial... (4.00)
          It's well noted that if you're building something like a supercomputing global warming simulation on the latest hardware that needs "bare metal" speed that there's going to be a lot of high level design and fiddling bits and bytes and algorithms, but I see a great deal of labor being spent on "trivial" programming, e.g. "We need a program in Visual Basic to track the sales of llama food in the Northwest region... we need a program to track the sales of ferret collars in the Southwest. We need a workflow program for processing shipments of chicken manure... we need a workflow program for processing job applications."

          In most of these cases, the person ordering the project is paying a premium for a programmer to basically scratch-write a program for solving a special case of a general problem; there may be commercial applications which encompass the general problem of tracking sales or creating workflows (Peoplesoft or whatnot) that cost too many millions. The general case problem may also be solved by an Open Source application or module, but most companies are too timid or misinformed about dipping into the wealth of open source code.

          I think that this is (part of) what the original poster meant. A lot of developers are employed banging out replicas of "trivial" design patterns. Software is insufficiently commodified (as hardware has become).

          I think it's a falsehood to say that it requires AI to obviate the need for a trained programmer/architect in the design phase for most trivial cases; no doubt there are similar historical arguments from the pre-mass production manufacturing world. There was a time when a car with smooth, complex curves in the body required expert craftsmanship and design that cost a premium. CAM/CAE made it possible in the last 10 years for even an economy car to have the curves of a Jaguar.

          We simply haven't found the "auto-translator" from the customer's description of 'what they want' and the machine code which drives the computer, or an intermediary language that works for both. Flowcharts are barely-graspable for the customer for deterministic systems, and though UML is sufficient to describe an interactive system, it's mostly opaque to the customer.

          I know it's a complex problem, but there's probably an ingenious way to solve it, the catch being that we are still in an era where software manufacturers as well as developers aren't yet willing to give up their own cash cow and create the equivalent of a cheap and effective cotton gin that will put them out of work.

        •  In my personal experience, there (none)
          seems to be drive to use the manufacturing "assembly line" model for intellectual work. When I first started at my former company, they were looking explicitly for very intelligent people. My work was very challenging and I often created solutions to problems that I identified. We were all practically self-managing.

          Six years later, after the company had been sold twice, they gave us carved up pieces of work and kept us completely out of the decision making. We were moved onto different projects every three or six months, every time they reported their quarterly earnings, which were dropping.

          The business side was visibly contemptuous of the software development and test groups, and thought we were infinitely replaceable. It was quite ironic because if some developers had decided to leave the company en masse, the production of the next release of software would have foundered utterly.

      •  Tell me about it... (4.00)
        I graduated college two years ago with a degree in math and computer science. I spent the first six months working in day care and at midas while looking for a job. The only reason I got a job was because my brother started his own company and hired me on as an apprentice.

        Six months ago I got hired by another small company. I now make twice as much as I did at the other job, but its still about 10,000 a year less then the bottom 25% in my situation according to salaries.com ... and I know I couldnt do any better... and I live close enough to manhatten to look for work there.

        It seems the only place programmers can really get jobs is in the smaller companies that cant outsource...that need their programmers in house...

        As soon as im out of debt from college Im hoping to go back to school and become a nurse...because being a computer programmer has zero job security...

        This was not the case when I entered college.

        Actually, you're the engineer on the Crazy Train. You built the crazy train. You dug the tunnels for the crazy train to drive through when it goes underground.

        by Little Girl Blue on Thu Oct 13, 2005 at 05:44:20 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Thank you for sharing your predicament (4.00)
          I'm sorry this is the job market you have found after all of your training.  If you are seriously thinking of going into medicine, please consider becoming a physician's assistant.  Depending on what state you live in and the laws of that state governing the scope of practice for physician's assistants, you can find tremendous job opportunities.

          Here is Illinois, PAs are used extensively in hospitals and medical practices.  Starting salaries are around $70,000 and experienced PAs earn over $100,000.  The training is a Masters degree that takes 25 months straight through to complete.  It is modeled on medical school.  The first year is basic sciences and the second year is clinical rotations.  PAs have high levels of job satisfaction, and in the hospitals that I am familiar with, are accorded a high level of respect.

          Just my two cents of unsolicited advice.  Good luck to you no matter what field you enter.  With a math degree you can go into any field at the graduate level.

          •  pa vs np (4.00)
            The situation for PAs in IL is favorable b/c the state medical association has lobbied so hard to limit the role of the advanced practice nurse. There is a similar situation in a just a few other states in the US. The role of PA and opportunities for PAs particulary outside of the acute care setting (talking primary care) can be limited because of the state practice act which may require physician supervision of the PA, including co-signing notes. The physician may refuse to routinely sign notes without reading each and every one creating quite an increased work load for him- or herself. My office just lost a terrific PA because of this. I hope PAs in my state (and others) work to improve legislation on this. It is ironic that because of the variety of practice acts from state to state PAs can practice indepently in some states (mostly rural with provider shortage) and limited in others.

            On the other hand, there is a shortage of RNs in the US that is not projected to end. There is a plethora of RN jobs available with minimum entry level into the field a 2-year associates degree or certificate program from a hospital-based institution (few of these remain). Most new grad RNs can pick and choose among many generous offers from hospitals and skilled nursing facilities, the majority with hourly rates between $20-40/hour dependent on shifts and geographic location, as well as signing bonuses of thousands of dollars payable after staying for a full year. Many contracts have tuition reimbursement so a new grad RN can easily take RN to BSN courses and further upgrade knowledge base and wage.

            Your computer backround would make you a very valuable RN as we transition from paper charts to EMR. Their is an entire field, lucrative and rewarding, of nursing informatics with positions in institions and academia. Best of luck to you.

            •  Shortage (none)
              the reason that there is a shortage of RNs is because schools simply do not have enough slots for all of the people who want to become RNs.  In my state, it takes a higher average GPA to get into the Nursing program than it does Pre-med.

              There are bagels in the fridge

              by Sychotic1 on Thu Oct 13, 2005 at 09:40:41 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  It is yet another area of failure of (none)
                the Bush administration to identify and respond to the healthcare problems in the US. There are also some internal issues within the nursing community in terms of standardizing the education and entry level into the profession.
                •  Same in situation in pharmacy (none)
                  No one wants to invest 5 yrs to get a PhD to teach when you can make $100K at Walgreens right out of entry level land (PharmD= NOT A DOCTOR, but that is another peeve of mine).
                  Except looneys like me who got sick of being treated like a dispensing machine and are working on being able to teach.
                  We had 600+ applicants for 108 slots.

                  ... and when they came for the liberals, there was no one to stand up for me.

                  by UndercoverRxer on Thu Oct 13, 2005 at 11:52:55 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Your shortage affects my life daily! (none)
                    The change in length of education for pharmacists coupled with burnout via Walgreen's and CVS means that I end up dealing with fill-ins and answering machines instead of pharmacists. Here in CT we have so many pharmaceutical companies also serving to attract potential PhDs.
                    •  There some other factors. (none)
                      I will get flamed for this, but the fact that ~60% of grads since the mid '80's have been female and many work part time has added to the crunch.
                      The chains treat pharmacists like crap, in general. The B-school jerk who makes $30K and is the store manager is usually jealous of the RPh's salary and short staffs them on techs and cashiers. So the pharmacist eventually quits and sells real estate or insurance because there are no 12 hr shifts were you are not allowed to leave the cage to eat and sometimes it is hard to leave to pee.

                      ... and when they came for the liberals, there was no one to stand up for me.

                      by UndercoverRxer on Fri Oct 14, 2005 at 08:47:00 AM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

        •  hmmm (none)
          I am an in-house programmer for a mid-sized manufacturer.  Personally, I think it's a great job.  I have enough to keep me busy for decades.  In fact, being a programmer at a smaller sized company has great job security.  As you soon find you have been assigned a role as an IT manager and database administrator as well.  I have worked for a few smaller companies.  Each one I left on my own for the better pay down the road.

          Smaller businesses are starting to tap into their technology potential, and this is where the IT job market is.  Personally, I couldn't reccomend more a developer job for a small to mid size company.  It usually isn't long before you end up diversifying your role at the company enough that you have a very stable job.  Sorry to hear you haven't found one that pays well yet, but they are out there.

          In the beginning, the universe was created. This has made a lot of people very angry, and is generally considered to have been a bad move.

          by Closet VB Coder on Thu Oct 13, 2005 at 06:43:06 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  and then (none)
            you start writing traps into the code and database so that no other developer could ever fix the damn thing if it broke, giving you 100% security. :D

            (seriously joking, i've heard of it happening though)

            "Religion ... it's the crystal meth of the masses." - Salman Rushdie

            by colorless green ideas on Thu Oct 13, 2005 at 10:58:54 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  asdf ;) (none)
              On my website (not up at the moment) I had a list of programming job security tips.

              • Make all variables public, or at least a greater scope than they need to be
              • All functions manipulate more than one variable passed by reference at a time.
              • Use good naming techniques such as declaring an integer as varString1, or declaring a string as intVar3.  (never use a descriptive name)
              • do not comment code.
              • add and manipulate variables that do not effect the program or routines objective.  Every so often, through in a loopCounter++;  Just to keep others on their toes.
              • Never return a result with a function.  Use void functions and pass the value being returned (and all other values) by reference.
              • Use lots of useless unit conversions.

              In the beginning, the universe was created. This has made a lot of people very angry, and is generally considered to have been a bad move.

              by Closet VB Coder on Thu Oct 13, 2005 at 11:22:12 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  Yes and no (none)
              In the log run this idea tends to be a bad idea.  Lets say a new project comes along or a position higher up with better pay opens up, and they can't find anyone to competently take over your responsibilities, guess who's getting passed up for raises and promotions?  It doesn't always help out with job security either, because if something becomes too expensive and difficult to maintain, companies have a tendency to just dump the project all together than continue paying spiralling salaries for the same work.
        •  Ditto what madaprn sez... (4.00)
          I'm also a nurse, so I'm biased. I'm also very self-interested - we need more good people in the field ASAP.

          The scope of opportunities in nursing is huge - in my 28 years as an RN I've worked in acute care (hospital-based critical care and, now, an oncology subspecialty - bone marrow transplant); outpatient and community-based care (hemodialysis); nursing education (developing content for an online program - something that may interest you based on your technology experience); program management for nursing professional development and public health education; and information technology (sales support, sales, and account management for companies selling healthcare applications).

          I've worked in large companies, small companies, and a startup (me and three partners - we were fortunate and were able to sell the company); in community hospitals and major university medical centers (where I am now); and as an independent contractor.

          I have truly loved every minute of every opportunity (except maybe the startup - outside of the payout, it was pure hell).

          My education - a 3-year hospital-based diploma school (they don't exist anymore), followed by a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) at UMass, and an "MBA-lite" (graduate-level 8-course certificate program).

          As for what's ahead - I have some ideas (I'm always thinking about new angles) - most likely a master of science in nursing (MSN) with a concentration in education and a clinical focus on end-of-life issues.

          My wife is a lifelong nurse-educator. She's doctorally-prepared, and a tenured full professor. She's taught in diploma programs (where we met), associate degree (current) and undergraduate programs, and in staff education. She works harder and longer hours than I do for much less money. That's teaching ;^(

          She's one of the best at what she does

          The sky is the limit. I write my own ticket.

          I can't say enough to encourage and support you in your goal. Seriously. If you want some solicited advice and direction, my email address is in my profile.

          Be a nurse (I also like it because it's been a great way to meet girls).

          "...psychopaths have little difficulty infiltrating the domains of...politics, law enforcement, (and) government." Dr. Robert Hare

          by RubDMC on Thu Oct 13, 2005 at 07:42:25 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  there's one little problem (4.00)
            The kids coming out of high school now have HORRIBLE skills. They can't calculate to save their lives, many of them couldn't problem solve if you gave them directions, and frankly, they don't know how to THINK.

            I work in a community college. I teach sometimes. Some of the kids are just great. Others are smart, but don't seem to be able to go from step one to step two without somebody holding their hand.

            You can't master the biology, language, and math necessary to be a nurse if you can't read at more than a 4th grade level, don't understand any science, and can't add 4 numbers without a calculator.

            Not to mention that the nursing schools are pretty full, overflowing full. At least, ours is.

            •  Too true (4.00)
              in every respect.

              My brother also teaches - college humanities - and is in tears at the general illiteracy (and lack of interest in learning) of his typical post high school students.

              My wife's greatest joys are with the 'non-traditional' students in her program - older, second/new career, international/ESL etc. She finds the level of motivation, critical thinking skills, etc. to be quite high in this group.

              And yeah, if we think the nursing shortage is bad, the nursing faculty shortage is worse. Fat chance that FratBoy and his gang will even consider doing anything there...

              "...psychopaths have little difficulty infiltrating the domains of...politics, law enforcement, (and) government." Dr. Robert Hare

              by RubDMC on Thu Oct 13, 2005 at 08:14:00 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

        •  Advice from a software pro (none)
          I've been in the field for almost 20 years.

          Small companies outsource, too. That's not the ticket. The ticket is to work in areas that can't be outsourced. I currently work in a medical device firm, where I do the motion controller software for a robot. I also to interface software where I have to travel extensively to partner sites.

          One way is to work in areas where the cost of outsourcing exceeds its benefits (custom hardware).

          Another way is to be more of a domain expert, where you have a deep understanding of the business processes. With that knowledge, you probably end up supervising the outsourcing.

          The thing that sucks for newly-minted grad is that this dynamic allows for precious little in entry-level jobs.

          So, if you really want to be a CS only (no other engineering), grad school is a must, but I would seriously look at MIM or MBA programs, if that interests you.

          One other thought, which has bugged me for a long time: We always hear the powers-that-be saying we need more people educated in science and math, but then they make the career path in these areas extremely difficult. Kids aren't stupid. They see that life after 40 for software types is extremely difficult, so they pick careers that have longer lifespans. I really don't understand why more people don't see this.

          (-5.88, -5.08)
          Hopelessly pedantic since 1963.

          by admiralh on Thu Oct 13, 2005 at 08:35:15 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Good luck (none)
          You might find that when you have a few years of experience, it is easier to get a job and you'll be paid more.  If you're offered training in project managament, take it.  Even companies that are offshoring development often need onsite project managers to coordinate the work.  In the large corporation where I work, the available positions have shifted over the last fifteen years from almost all developers to including a lot of business analysts and project managers.  Most developers are being steered down one of these two paths.

          There are good jobs in database administration and network support, as well.

        •  Don't Do It Little Girl Blue (none)
          I was a CCRN for twenty years.  I finally was able to quit, went back to school and picked up a couple of degrees in an unrelated field.

          My advice to almost anyone considering nursing: DON'T.

          I don't want to dis nursing in public, but I don't really recommend enthusiasically , especially someone smart enough to earn a degree in math.

          An undergrad degree in math will get you into a lot of different kinds of grad schools.  PLEASE think about your options, go to GRAD school,(not nursing school,) and get yourself a professional position somewhere.

      •  Couple points (4.00)
        IT has been great for me.  As long as there are computers, there will be a need for IT.  There is no magic self programming machine.  And there will not be for quite some time.  Just as IBM servers don't heal themselves like the commercial says.  I find it hard to believe that IT is going away in our lifetimes.  Yes programming is getting easier every day.  But it will be a long way off before a computer can create it's own custom program.  And if such a program did exist, it would likely be so hard to use that you would need a developer.  Hell, I get calls daily from people trying to use Excel.

        Personally, I see the demand for software developers rising.  Unfortunately, this does cut jobs elsewhere.  Smaller businesses are starting to realize the potential power of technology.  And as of now, and for the foreseeable future, they get developers to help them tap that potential.

        In the beginning, the universe was created. This has made a lot of people very angry, and is generally considered to have been a bad move.

        by Closet VB Coder on Thu Oct 13, 2005 at 06:32:28 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  This (none)
        So, the biggest threat to the professional middle class these days, will be when the great white hope for those wanting to move up out of the service sector will become as obsolete as textile factory work. What's left?
        made me think of something.

        There was a time not too long ago when people were able to work a job and take courses at night and they were able to improve their standard of living. It wasn't easy, but then IMHO it isn't supposed to be easy. It shouldn't be that hard either, but I digress.

        My point is this. We are no longer able to take night classes to improve our standard of living, when we continue to be outsourced and we have to get retrained in another field in order to have a job. And we all know that after a person has retrained three or more times the likelyhood of them being able to get a new job diminishes each time.

        Those who are willing to sacrifice liberty for safety deserve neither. (Paraphrasing B. Franklin)

        by p a roberson on Thu Oct 13, 2005 at 11:11:44 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  That's totally true (none)
          I had an uncle who did night school, while by day he worked in a factory.  It used to be, in the factory, if you got a college degree, they'd give you a pay raise and maybe a promotion.

          Well, to make a long story short, he finished, but instead of promoting him they layed him off and hired somebody with less education to do the job cheaper.  If he hadn't busted his butt in night school, he'd probably still have that job.  After his layoff, he couldn't find more factory work, because most of them have left these parts. Eventually, his wife got angry at his lack of providing power, and divorced him.  

          The whole thing was tragic, and it didn't have to happen.  I fear for a lot of people in America these days, working hard on educations that are going to get them jack shit when it comes down to it, because companies don't actually believe in education anymore.  Companies don't want professionals they have to pay well.  They want jobs to be as de-skilled as possible and employees to be as easily replacable as possible. As if it weren't bad enough that people are vulnerable to that, then colleges and universities come along to  peddle their educational wares to you, and the seemingly bullet-proof myth that "college=good job". But Colleges and universities are just another kind of corporation.  You have to read the fine print, otherwise you may end up spending lots of money and wasting lots of time for nothing.  If you want a job, that trade school may do you a lot more good in a lot less time than that "liberal arts education".  So research carefully.

          •  I don't buy this (none)
            They didn't need to lay him off-they could have just not given him a raise.

            What I am saying, unless his taking night school classes made him do poorly at work (lack of sleep from studying, etc.), there is not a logical cause/effect relationship between your Uncle getting a degree and being laid off.  Chances are, if he didn't get a degree, they would have laid him off anyways.

    •  Corporations In Service (none)
      Corporations (since they are a government crested enitity) should be in service to the people of the United States, not the people in servitude to the corporations.
    •  Maybe, like Mexicans come here, we will (4.00)
      all go to Canada for jobs and the Canadian minutemen will greet us at the border with guns.

      "If you are not outraged, you are not paying attention."

      by adigal on Thu Oct 13, 2005 at 06:15:05 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  That's minuteman. (none)
        We only have one.  He patrols the entire 49th parallel with a stolen mountie uniform and a husky sled.  He's passed out on Molson Golden half the time so there's no trouble getting past him.  And he's not liable to shoot; he'll more likely just tell you to take off, eh?

        Nothing requires a greater effort of thought than arguments to justify the rule of nonthought. -- Milan Kundera

        by Dale on Thu Oct 13, 2005 at 10:00:34 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Think globally act globally (4.00)
      I think it is high time that we realize that what may be great for a corporation isn't always great for the nation.

      Neocons don't care.  All their patriotic bullshit is just for the rubes in the heartland who don't know any better anyway.  They know their policies will hurt America but their country is the whole world.  America's only real job in that world is to play the role of global thug and enforcer for the ruling class.  The thinking is probably that you don't need and don't want much of a domestic middle class for that role.  Quite the opposite, you want a modern Sparta where the only way to get from grinding horrific misery to merely so-so misery is to become cannon fodder.  In a way they exemplify the old leftist ideal of the "world citizen" but in a warped, selfish way of course.  The world is my oyster and you better not get in my way as I head for the table!

      These people know the broad American middle class has been the lynchpin of the corporate economy for decades and that its destruction would bode ill for that economy.  They think more in terms now of a global middle class, a global proletariat and a global ruling class (themselves of course).  The "middle class" to them is semi-prosperous shopkeepers in Hong Kong buying their first television and their first tiny car.  It is these people who will fuel "growth" for the next generation.  The working class everywhere needs to learn to live at the same level of misery and the ruling class exists as an archipelago of armed estates, resorts and gated communities all over the world.  That's their utopia hence the emphasis on militarizing everything and force as a first resort for everything.  They know you won't keep 6 billion angry people down by reading Milton Friedman to them.

      Come to think of it this might be their answer to Peak Oil.  You can have "managed decline" if you have enough guns to keep the starving masses out of your estates.  Perhaps even make a little money selling coffins and magic talismans (in lieu of medical care you know).

      Well I don't think any of this will work but this kind of scenario may be what drives people like Pearlstein.

      Then did he raise on high the Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch, saying, "Bless this, O Lord, that with it thou mayst blow thine enemies to tiny bits, in thy mercy."

      by Event Horizon on Thu Oct 13, 2005 at 06:28:28 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Question: How do you deal (none)
        with this knowledge?

        I don't meant hat sarcastically: I see the world exactly as you do. I can no longer discuss anything of import with someone who doesn't share this worldview - which is fundamentally correct (I'm pretty sure).

        Conservatism is killing us

        by grushka on Thu Oct 13, 2005 at 06:48:18 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  That is a good question (4.00)
          I, too, think Event Horizon is correct -- the business elite are thinking globally (in every respect except environmental) and simply don't care what happens to the American citizen/consumer because they see the dollar signs worldwide.

          From a purely economic standpoint this might be rational -- there is probably more profit to be made from selling everyone in the "third world" their first television, compared to attempting to sell overtapped Americans an upgrade to an EVEN BIGGER television.

          But that, too, has an endpoint -- at some point all the people in India and China will have bought a television too, we'll be right back where we started, only, with even more exhausted natural resources.

          The way they are playing this game, eventually, everybody loses. Maybe sooner, maybe later, but when you know that, you know it's not the way to go.

          What do we do about it? I think we craft our own vision of the future and sell it like crazy. The problem is, our OWN vision of the future -- which is necessarily enviornmentally sustainable -- ALSO involves a reduction in what we currently think of as "standard of living." Because our current definition involves things like a big house on a private lot and driving around a personal automobile.

           

          •  Fuck the future (none)
            But that, too, has an endpoint -- at some point all the people in India and China will have bought a television too, we'll be right back where we started, only, with even more exhausted natural resources.

            The way they are playing this game, eventually, everybody loses. Maybe sooner, maybe later, but when you know that, you know it's not the way to go.

            Sure and they've already factored that in too.  The typical member of this class of aristocrats though is a 55 year old male who figures he will be comfortably dead by the time any of the shit hits the fan.  Believe me the back room boys at the oil companies don't really think global warming is a myth even though their glossy magazine ads say it is.  I've known a few such people.  Many have a truly radical sort of selfishness that goes beyond the normal kind we all show and extends even to not really giving a shit about the lives of their own children or even the fate of Homo Sapiens itself.  Apres moi le deluge is their motto.  Fuck the future for those who don't like Froggish.

            Then did he raise on high the Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch, saying, "Bless this, O Lord, that with it thou mayst blow thine enemies to tiny bits, in thy mercy."

            by Event Horizon on Thu Oct 13, 2005 at 07:53:05 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

      •  YES!!! (4.00)
        Precisely where they are coming from.

        And you are right.

        It will NOT work.

        Why?

        Because there is going to come a time...quite soon, I'll betcha...where "cannon fodder" will be as outmoded a concept as cannons.

        Terrorism is the war of the future.

        The war of the PRESENT, really.

        The first real "terrorist" war?

        W.W.II,, to a large extent.

        The Blitz, concentration camps and genocide, the firebombing of German cities, the use of the atom bomb to bring Japan to its knees...in terror, bet on it...

        Terrorist war.

        Vietnam? The bombing of cambodia and N. Vietnam? The deforestation?

        Terrorism.

        "We may 'lose'...but we WILL fuck you up in the meantime. And then we'll go home and eat steak."

        Terror.

        The secret wars in South + Central America? People just "disappearing"?

        Terror.

        The Permanent Government supported drug scourge that ravaged our inner cities and completely disarmed a rising black political resistance/

        Terror.

        Desert Storm?

        Shock and awe?

        Terror.

        Why not? It makes sense, in these people's nasty, selfish minds.

        It's "economically feasible"

        Cost effective.

        Like WalMart, only bloodier.

        And now it comes home.

        The Third World has figured out how the game works.

        What is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander. It's economically even MORE feasible to use the developed world's mass media's involuntary reaction to terror..."The sky is falling!!!" multiplied literally a million times by all the news broadcasts and articles.

        One terrorist action every...what, every few months? And the terror wheel keeps right on spinning out of control  in the United States.

        "We don't NEED no steenking cannons!!!"

        As they force the society to implode due to its own panicked reaction to the implied threats.

        So, no...this will NOT work, this "third world-ization" of the middle class here. This attempt to create a Sparta or some sort of standing rich oligarchy/poor workers system.

        Because there is no longer any NEED of "Spartas".

        Something new this way comes.

        THIS system will fall apart first.

        If we do not adjust, and do so soon.

        The fall of the neocons is the first step we must take.

        And Fitzgerald is the first OFFICIAL step in that direction.

        This is and has been a very resilient country. It has changed with the times precisely because that is the way it was originally set UP to function.

        One more time?

        We shall see.

        It's either one more one more time once or the beginning of last inning for the overpaid Yankees and their felonious owners.

        We shall see...

        Charles

        •  Jesus H. Motherfucking Christ (none)
          You're right. Sad and scary, but true.

          You're too astute, or too blunt, for me this morning. I was feeling all cheery and chipper after my upbeat upthread recruiting rap for a potential nurse, and now back to reality.

          Your analysis hits all three essential components - naked greed, the insatiable lust for power, and fear. Always the fear.

          My mother always said that things are never as bad as they seem, that no matter what we think is in store we've faced it before and came out ahead that time, and can do so again.

          Well, I guess it's worth our best effort. It'll either work, or we'll go down trying.

          "...psychopaths have little difficulty infiltrating the domains of...politics, law enforcement, (and) government." Dr. Robert Hare

          by RubDMC on Thu Oct 13, 2005 at 08:06:44 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Damn, Charles... (none)
          A scary piece, but DEAD on.

          There are none so blind as those who will not see, grasshopper.

          On the upside, NO, it will not work.

          We will squash this takeover.

          We have to.

          BushCo - Beyond Kool-Aid

          by general tso on Thu Oct 13, 2005 at 08:56:39 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  On the money (none)
        This is a really good post.  Thank God for that last sentence; I can't bear to think we're powerless to prevent this.  Event Horizon's scenario can be described as high-tech feudalism, and the serfs in the Dark Ages were definitely powerless.  (Try imagining living that life.)  Global thinking by the plutocrats is a plausible explanation for their complacency in the face of the disappearing middle class and resulting loss of consumer spending.
    •  What Mr Pearlstein fails to understand.... (4.00)
      ...could fill an encyclopedia.
    •  Exactly. (none)
      People forget that corporations are multinational organizations. The success of the United States as a society is not crucial to the success of their business, and they vote their business interests first.
    •  what may be great for a corporation... (4.00)
      what may be great for a corporation isn't always great for the nation.

      I can remember Abbie Hoffman giving a speech on the Boston Common in the 60's pointing at the Hancock Building and yelling that John Hancock wasn't an insurance salesman, he wasn't a business man, he was a f...ing revolutionary.....Hoffman said Americans have to realize that  What's good for Ford Motor Company isn't necessarily good for  the United States.

      ahhh... here we are, 40 years later and the lesson still not learned.

      ps. anyone out there who still remembers that speech?

    •  Corporations (none)
      exist at the pleasure of the United States, not vice versa.

      Where is the next Teddy Roosevelt?

    •  Not pilots (none)
      Pilots come out of our military. They are so addicted to flying that they'll often take any job at all — including those small puddle-jumper jets the big airlines use to complete the connections to smaller cities, whose pilots are making less than $20 an hour to fly them.

      Makes you feel safe, doesn't it? But despite the pay, most of these guys were trained in jet fighters, so the skills are there.

    •  Who will buy these products? (4.00)
      That's something else he fails to understand.

      He's proposing demand destruction on a massive scale. For decades, the global economy has been driven by the American consumer, a vast middle-class market with huge aggregate disposable income. He wants to wipe out this market, and replace it with...Paris Hilton?

      How many crappy Chinese Christmas decorations will Paris Hilton buy at Wal-Mart? How many GM trucks? How much toothpaste? How much wall-to-wall nylon carpeting? How many Swanson dinners can she eat? How many plane trips can she take?

      He may want to update his approach by consulting the ideas of more current thinkers. Like Henry Ford.

      •  Can these people be so mean-spirited (none)
        that they just want to be able to say that they took control of, and changed, the world economy... just because they could. They've given up on global progress and have enough money to coast along out of their lives if they have to. Ruining life for billions of people may be part of the fun (power) for someone of that "mind".

        In Your Face From Outer Space

        by mike101 on Thu Oct 13, 2005 at 08:49:24 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  And if moving manufacturing to other countries (none)
      they also move the management structure. Where will the next group of business leaders come from. hint. It won't be the USA.

      What happens when the stockholders demand the CEO live in Calcutta on $5,000/yr instead of $1.5 million/year?

    •  It is planned disinvestment in (none)
      the U.S. market. Global corporations need our labor less and less. They need the U.S. military to defend their control of world resources. Our democracy is incidental.

      I am not even sure that the college-educated are protected in this environment.

      The ethos of capitalist piracy was paraded around as a moral imperative by Reagan. Ordinary Americans fell for Republican ideology because there is no functioning opposition here (that is expressed effectively). We have been living with 25 years of deregulation and removal of restraints against predatory capitalists. What have we got? The war of all against all, under the people who control all the resources.

    •  This is a good... (none)
      diary and I don't think the idea is to lift up or maintain the American economy.

      The idea is to create a truly global economy where every countries standard of living is roughly the same. This change can only occur by lowering our standard of living and lifting up everyone else's.

      The entire premise behind free trade is that everyone can trade equally on equal grounds, therefore the requirements in these trade agreements are paramount; the standards that we set for everyone else to comply with will be eventually the standards that we are forced to accept.

      It is also important to keep taxes low for the middle class so that they can maintain their standard of living and even with low taxes inflation, high energy prices, a housing crash or anything else could trigger a crash in our economy while we adjust to the new global structure.

      Jerome is right in many respects and the next few years will be interesting to see if the business class can bring us down gently or if there will be a crash, but make no mistake the prospects for the middle class in the short term are not going to get better.

      "The problem in defense is how far you can go without destroying from within what you are trying to defend from without." Dwight D. Eisenhower

      by RichardG on Thu Oct 13, 2005 at 09:03:19 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I think Mr. Pearlstine understands (none)
      EXACTLY what the implications of his views are. The real problem is the failure of liberals to understand that these views are rooted in the nature of the social system we live under. Capitalism is a system of institutionalized class war and American Capitalism is well past the point where it can afford to offer the basic social guarantees that it once did (mainly when it felt threatened by the example of revolutionary socialist regimes). In a perverse sense Pearlstine is right on the money. Capitalism is about competition and globalization means global competition between workers. The genie is out of the bottle, the race to the bottom has begun and it can only be ended by an end to the capitalist system.

      "Tell no lies. Claim no easy victories." -- Amilcar Cabral (-10.00, -9.28)

      by Christopher Day on Thu Oct 13, 2005 at 02:40:47 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  This is the very basis of neo-con economics. (4.00)
    What we see as executive branch policy today is simply smash-and-grab kleptocracy. There is no doubt that it is unsustainable. Either the economy will collapse and/or there will be a massive political shift to the left. The other real danger is in what will happen if the neo-cons try to maintain power.

    "The bicycle, the bicycle surely, should always be the vehicle of novelists and poets" , Christopher Morley

    by Chris Kulczycki on Thu Oct 13, 2005 at 03:44:25 AM PDT

    •  I've always felt that (3.80)
      comparisons of the Neo-cons to Nazis was a bit off base.  A better comparison would be to Latin-American dictators--Specifically due to this attack on the middle class.

      I carried water for the elephant; Back and forth to the well I went; My arms got sore and my back got bent; But I couldn't fill up that elephant

      by Sylvester McMonkey Mcbean on Thu Oct 13, 2005 at 05:42:28 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Domestically they are like Latin American (3.85)
        Dictator-thugs, but remember that they REALLY DO want to run the world and sieze whatever resources their corporate sponsors want.  It IS very NAZI like.  Also, remember that the NAZI's actually supported national health care, and pensions, and even shared some of their plunder with the German masses.  In many respects these modern Republicans are worse than NAZI's.

        What we see in the Republican Party today IS Fascism American style, which is to say with phony sheen and slick PR.  Coiffed pretty boys and girls can talk smugly and clinically about crushing the middle class through orthodontically perfect teeth and surgically created "beauty."  No one calls the brutal bullshit.  The show goes on.

        Every American will soon have their moment of truth in which you will either face this beast down, or buckle and serve it.  What'll it be?

        Geonomist - Charge for privileges; abolish taxes on production.

        by Geonomist on Thu Oct 13, 2005 at 06:31:44 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  When the get like that . . . (4.00)
          You're right about that 'moment of choice' George.

          In WWII my father walked from Normandy to the Elbe, shooting strangers as he put it, then re-upped for the occupation. Got fluent, and very good at interviewing.

          He swam in a sea of heartfelt stories about the war years, how it was no one's choice, no one's fault, no one ever wanted this. Those were the common themes, he said. And then there were the true believers, whose only regret about the war was losing it -- to a plague of GI and Russian boots and tanks and planes. Too many of us to shoot. Just too many.

          These Nazis hadn't changed their faith, they hadn't lost their faith, they had lost a war, that's all. They still believed that some people deserved to live, and have, and do. And some did not. Those sub-type humans were to be herded and harvested and discarded.

          My Dad said he never wanted to shoot the strangers he shot. Never wanted to look at them or know why they had to die. It was just a lot of shooting, and then it stopped in the spring of '45.

          But these Nazis reciting their philosophy to him, a year or two afterward, he wanted them gone from the face of the earth -- if he had to do it with his bare hands. It was personal. These were the very people who created the war. The very people who caused it, chose it, and pursued it, and would again the first chance they could get.

          Dad a gentle man, and especially fair. Never wanted to hear unkind things about people. Said they were doing the best they could, whatever they did. But on the topic of Nazis, he said the kindest thing is to shoot people who get like that.

          "Think of the press as a great keyboard on which the government can play." --Joseph Goebbels

          by antifa on Thu Oct 13, 2005 at 06:57:20 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  Small quibble (none)
      This is actually the basis for neo-liberal [Chicago school] economics. And we've been suffering under them for 25 years now [Clinton included].

      Like music? Check out my band: http://www.systemnoisenyc.com

      by lucid on Thu Oct 13, 2005 at 11:05:36 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Bourgeoisie of the world unite (4.00)
    A ghost is haunting the industrialized world.  That ghost is the decimation of the middle class...

    General strike..general strike...

    Underspending on Chinese goods makes sense.  General underspending makes the situation worse.  What am I saying?

    The heart of the matter: What Christmas budgets?!

    The revolution starts now--in your own back yard, in your own home town

    by TarheelDem on Thu Oct 13, 2005 at 03:44:35 AM PDT

    •  Mr. Cheney... (none)
      Heat Miser/Snow Miser and friends are going to be making out like gangbusters this holiday season:

      Little Jimmy and Susie, for Christmas me and Mom got you 225 therms for the holidays heating season.

      A therm = 100 000 Btu

      People in Eurasia on the brink of oppression: I hope it's gonna be alright... Pet Shop Boys: Introspective

      by rgilly on Thu Oct 13, 2005 at 04:43:30 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Therms for Christmas... (4.00)
        reminds me of my Mom telling us when we were kids that after all, in her days (1920s-30s), getting coal in their stockings wasn't necessarily a bad thing, since it would help heat the house that winter. Of course, being kids and hoping for toys and candy, that didn't go over too well.

        I do suspect, though, that that was just part of her parents' pre-holiday "Be good or you'll get coal in your stocking" spiel to keep the kids in line, and she was just trying it out on us!

        "Sometimes I wonder whether the world is being run by smart people who are putting us on or by imbeciles who really mean it." - Mark Twain

        by Donna in Rome on Thu Oct 13, 2005 at 06:57:06 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Have you read a product label lately? (none)
      Hardly anything is made here anymore. The "spending strike" is a great idea...best way to fight "supply side" economics is to demonstrate what happens when the "demand side" is fed up. Besides, the right wing are always harping about working people spending too much...let's see how they like it when we take their advice.
      •  You mean (none)
        like we're going to do this winter?

        NOBODY is going to be spending much of anything.
        Everybody will be out for the Black Friday sales (when you really can get some good deals), and after that... nothing. Nada. Zilch. Empty malls. Panicked retailers. Lower sales at WalMart.

        And then... well, then you'll see some things start to change. Not because WE want it to, but because the corporations are going to scream bloody murder.

        •  Nothing to spend. (none)
          Gasoline prices are noticeable even to our small-car-loving family. Our electric bill has skyrocketed. Everything seems to cost more. Hell, even those tiny little jars of baby food have doubled in price in the four years since my son ate them.

          We had to cut back on our planned charitable giving, and while Santa can still make it to our house, thank goodness, he's going to be on a budget. And we're quite fortunate in that we do well.

  •  Link isn't working. n/t (none)
  •  I'd like to see... (4.00)
    ...the public re-discover the principles and motivating aspirations of the radical working class of the early 20th century, which started asking why workers should be begging for crumbs from employers and shouldn't reorganize the economy around worker ownership and control.  That is the only sane response to a business class that, unfortunately, thinks exactly like Mr. Pearlstine.  What we need are reincarnations of Rosa Luxemburg and Eugene Debs, not more John Kerrys and Hilary Clintons.  But that would require a sense of self-respect, intellectual engagement and class solidarity that was beaten out of the American public a long, long time ago.

    "When the intellectual history of this era is finally written, it will scarcely be believable." -- Noam Chomsky

    by scorponic on Thu Oct 13, 2005 at 03:55:21 AM PDT

    •  Don't they know (4.00)
      that the middle class is the most easily placated class of people in this country? With a decent house and a nice car in the driveway most people will let politicians get away with anything.

      Working class people, though, when they get into a majority, have a historical tendency to get pissed off at rich fatcats, and very often do something about it.  Right now they're a powerless minority, but if their numbers grow--particularly with people who remember the nice car and the decent house in their recent past--the Other One Percent better watch the fuck out.

      •  Working class people (4.00)
        in the US who own a house and have a nice car in the driveway think they're middle class. Sorry, that "proletarian" dog won't hunt. Actually, if you really look into it, the bourgoise is and has always been the true revolutionary class...people who are educated and have the opportuntiy to think and dream and the leaders of every revolution.
        •  And when you betray them, watch out (4.00)
          That's just what this crowd is going to do. Betray the bourgeousie.

          This winter, when interest rates start going up, debt repayment starts going up, heating goes WAY up, stocks go way down, and those middle class professionals (lawyers, doctors, etc.) start actually feeling the pinch.

          THEN the shit is really going to hit the fan.

          •  Yup. (4.00)
            Too many of these people think they're rich. A lot of these people are the children or grandchildren of millworkers, railroad men, assembly line workers, and they think the American Dream has brought them on par with the descendents of John D. Rockefeller. They have no idea what's ahead. Absolutely freaking clueless.

            I know because I'm part of that class. I'm reasonably well educated, and my husband is better educated. So a lot of these folks think we're in full agreement with their politics and talk openly. They really think that they're better than the poor. It's heart-breaking, really, when I think about how hard their ancestors worked and how much they sacrificed to give these people this standard of living, these opportunities and this nation that they've so cavalierly thrown away for lower taxes. They're the antithesis of those who came before them wanting to leave their children less so that they can have the easy life now. Pathetic.

        •  A little more complicated than that (none)
          Revolutions have tended to be a kind of hybrid...I think you're underestimating the ability of working-class revolutionaries (what Gramsci called "organic intellectuals") to assert themselves in social movements.  The story is a little richer than the vanguardism you're articulating here.

          And we'll all float on okay - Modest Mouse

          by Linnaeus on Thu Oct 13, 2005 at 09:41:23 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  amen (none)
      add a little dash of wobbly, and emma goldman for my tastes.

      "Religion ... it's the crystal meth of the masses." - Salman Rushdie

      by colorless green ideas on Thu Oct 13, 2005 at 11:07:03 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  getting beat up by rethugs can wake you up real (none)
      quick to unions and the like.
  •  what it means for us workers (4.00)
    we need to raise their level up as much as possible.

    We need to support clean water programs there, education there... I know that seems like it makes them compete all the more, and unfortunately that's true sometimes in the short run, but still, it's the best way in the long run.  Worker conditions everywhere must be westernized as rapidly as possible.  They will profit off of the difference as long as it exists.

    •  It's a shame (none)
      we have to frame the idea of clean water as an economic issue, instead of a basic human rights issue.  Thank you, Conservative Revolution.

      One day, I hope I get to take a big piss on Ronald Reagan's tomb.

      "If I am not for myself, then who is for me? But if I am only for myself, then what am I? And if not now, when?" -- Hillel

      by TheCrimsonKid on Thu Oct 13, 2005 at 02:50:27 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Check out the graphics... (4.00)
    http://www.larouchepub.com/lar/2005/3240_end_game_2005.html

    You're damn right the goal is to reduce the standard of living.

    Which, not incidentally, is the exact contrary to the Preamble to the Constitution for the United States of America.

  •  Class Warfare (4.00)
    The rich have been fighting a class war against the working class for some 25 years now.  Isn't it time we fought back?  

    Don't make any credit card purchases.  Don't top off your tank, just buy about 8-10 gallons at a time.  Don't make any frivolous purchases. Don't turn your furnace past 68 degrees.  Limit (or eliminate) eating out.  Buy union (and American, and locally, where possible).  Don't pay any bills early (or even pay two weeks past due - it won't affect your credit).  

    Oh, and fuck Christmas shopping.  Make your loved ones a nice meal.  Paint something for them.  Build something for them.  Clean their house.  Give them coupons that say you'll babysit their kids.  Clean their car.  Do something.  You really don't have to buy someone something to show that you love them.

    Better still, show these assholes on Wall Street who really fuels this economy.  It isn't the rich  - it's the work-a-day people.  Let'em know that if we ain't ok, they're not going to be, either.  

    Sorry to be all preachy, but this is a great diary.  It really speaks to what's happening in this country, especially under this administration.  

    •  Please stop buying (4.00)
      Somebody better fucking stop spending. Again this month Americans spent 59 billion dollars more on imports than they sold in exports. That is $2 billion PER DAY! of overspending. AND the US also has to borrow $2 billion EACH DAY from the rest of the world just to stay afloat. How long can Americans expect to do this and still be "middle class"? On what planet is this possible?

      The best thing Americans could do would be to stop spending and begin saving again. This is the attitude that creates a middle class, and the attitude that built America. Spending like drunken soldiers does not, it creates economic basket cases.

      We live in an interconnected world and we all live on the same planet. It is getting harder and harder to justify why an engineer in China doing the same work as an engineer in the US should be paid that much less. How would you explain it to him/her?

      I feel for those in the US who suffer from not having the social benefits (health care etc) that Western Europe and Canada have, but they reflect the strong preference for individualism of Americans. If that does not change..... In tomorrow's world cooperation will be the key as the "enemies" are already getting their acts together.

      Not a pretty picture, but it is reality.

      Just because you can doesn't mean you should!

      by taonow on Thu Oct 13, 2005 at 06:07:39 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  When I watch business news (none)
        (which isn't by choice, my husband turns it on) it always seems like consumers are being upbraided for not spending enough, and not "investing."  Having money in a savings account, just sitting there in a bank, always seems "bad for the Economy."  Does it strike anybody else that way?

        If not for the cat,
        And the scarcity of cheese
        I could be content.
        --Jack Prelutsky

        by Reepicheep on Thu Oct 13, 2005 at 06:26:19 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Who owns the media? (none)
          Of course they don't want regular people accumulating too many assets, it means more stuff for them.

          It's also why they're so big on retraining and education as the solutions to unemployment:  flood the currently lucrative fields with desperate workers, thereby driving down their wages too.

        •  Stop listening (4.00)
          We live in a capitalist system. In a capitalist system you want to have capital, because those with capital do best - hence the name for the system.

          You want to have savings (even with artificially low interst rates). You do not want to have debt (even with artificially low interest rates).  Turn off the TV (better yet get rid of it). Find your joy in non-material ways and you will be rich beyond belief.

          Just because you can doesn't mean you should!

          by taonow on Thu Oct 13, 2005 at 06:40:44 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Kind of contradictory (none)
          /upbraided for not spending enough, and not "investing." /

          If you spend it, you can't invest it. If you invest it, you can't spend it...with limited disposable income, people have to choose. And when you don't have a lot of money, you can't afford to risk "investing" in things where you might not even get back what you put in.

      •  The Christmas strike (none)
        We probably have to start fomenting this now for it to be read as anything other than "a lackluster holiday season."

        It's not just about not spending money. It's about WHERE we spend the money we do spend.

        We could even trick - er - get some of the "family values" types on our side by talking about the "True Spirit of Christmas" getting lost in all the materialism yadda yadda...

    •  Make that 60 degrees (4.00)
      instead of 68, and dine out responsibly: Avoid the corporate chains, and give the decent mom-and-pop operations in the vicinity a fighting chance.
    •  Buy local, buy small business, buy Toyota (4.00)
      The Delphi story is simple:

      General Motors made a decision to agressively source parts in China back in the 1990s. As part of this strategy, they spun off their internal parts division, Delphi. When you buy today's General Motors vehicle — advertised (especially the trucks) as some sort of big American patriotic thing — you're buying a largely-Chinese vehicle.

      If you want to buy American you'll buy a Toyota instead. Toyota not only manufacturers most of their cars for this market in America, they source most of their parts here, intentionally. They've also gone out-front in hybrid technology.

      General Motors needs to be made a lesson of. It will  hurt the union labor they still employ, but we need to launch a national drive to boycott GM vehicles. No politician should be seen in one. They should be treated like Japanese cars were if driven into Detroit in the early '70s.

      •  The problem, however (none)
        ...is that the labor that works for GM will pay the highest price for this lesson.  If we're serious about this kind of plan, then something needs to be done for those workers.

        And we'll all float on okay - Modest Mouse

        by Linnaeus on Thu Oct 13, 2005 at 09:45:24 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Joining in the fight (none)
      I'm already in the ring.  Cutting personal discretionary spending, entertainment spending and becoming more self-sufficient is sometimes easy and other times really hard.  I'm starting an herb garden and if that works I'll probably go on to indoor container gardening for some food, because I rent and can't plant in my little backyard.  I'm learning how to make furniture, woodworking and some very basic art (drawing/painting/tiling) and mechanical skills.  It's easy for me to not spend extra money on dvds or cheap wal-mart furniture but not so easy to learn all these skills fast enough that I can rely on myself for necessities or some of the decorative elements that make my home feel like a home, and not some spartan dormitory.

      But I think class warfare has gone on much longer than 25 years.  This is really the oldest battle in history, is it not?  The haves vs the have-nots.  The only changes are the borders and which group of people happen to have all the money.

      I sometimes see fascist tendencies, but other times see a feudalist society.  When I think of the characteristics of feudalism I think it's prescient to the goals of the Bush Administration.

      If I had a nickel for every president who lied the country into war.... Oh, wait....

      by deep6 on Thu Oct 13, 2005 at 08:08:06 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  It is also intensely liberating (none)
        my husband is 55.  He is now teaching buddhism at the local university.  but he has had a really varied career: working as a sommelier, organic farmer, carpenter, waiter, etc.  He never earned that much, but he was able to save money and to travel around and to live the life wanted to live (this was before he met me, you understand).

        A big component of this was keeping his wants very simple.  There is no thought of that now, when kids come out of college with thousands in credit card bills and encumbered by car loans and cell phone contracts.  These things really are encumbrances, keeping you from going where you want to go or doing what you want to do.

        So few people know that now.

        Talk doesn't cook rice.

        by sophiebrown on Thu Oct 13, 2005 at 08:44:29 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  I do reduce my spending (none)
        I'm unemployed but my family does loan me money till I find a job (or attend grad school). Instead of buying books, I check them out from the local library. Same with DVDs and CDs. If I want to buy a book, there are alternatives. Book Gallery, a local store not sure if it's a chain, sells books up to 60% off. I got a $25 for $8. If you read mostly SF and fantsy, Science Fiction Book Club will reduce the price of books. But always check the local library first. Support a library and support free speech.

        Also, try to quit smoking. Throw that money into a savings account instead. Same with drinking. Want a vice? Sex. Nuff said.

    •  Stop Buying junk is the answer (4.00)
      hit the corps where it hurts- boycott, become more self sufficient- learn to fix things that break and stop watching mind dumbing tv.

      In the past I was a great one to just buy something new if the old thing broke. Now I figure out how to fix stuff and kick myself in the butt at how much money I've wasted over the years.

      New clothes was another bad habit and I still prefer the same old comfy stuff day after day but had a closet full of stuff I wore only once. Gave tons to GoodWill, Salvation Army etc.,

      I still fit into my Levi's of 20 years ago and they are far better made than most jeans today.

      roseeriter

      "Time is for careful people, not passionate ones"

      by roseeriter on Thu Oct 13, 2005 at 08:21:36 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Pay bills on time (none)
      because you will get labeled as a slow pay.

      Florida now allows the telephone company to slap a $3.50 late fee on my bill. The power company wants to do the same.

    •  Stop eating out ? (none)
      Sorry, there's only one thing I love more than food, and it sure isn't revolution.  

      But most of that other stuff is great.

      "The care of human life and happiness and not their destruction is the first and only legitimate object of good government." -Thomas Jefferson, 1809.

      by Subterranean on Fri Oct 14, 2005 at 09:04:47 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Stop eating out ? (none)
      Sorry, there's only one thing I love more than food, and it sure isn't revolution.  

      But most of that other stuff is great.

      "The care of human life and happiness and not their destruction is the first and only legitimate object of good government." -Thomas Jefferson, 1809.

      by Subterranean on Fri Oct 14, 2005 at 09:05:01 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  hey Harvey (none)

      are you feeling better? I have continued to pray* for you.

      "When the President does it, that means that it's not illegal." (Nixon)

      by m3 on Fri Oct 14, 2005 at 01:58:10 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Well, they do (4.00)
    want to take things back 50 years or so ago where Big Business was king, and they could do anything they wanted.  Workers starting to rise up against unfair conditions?  No problem!  Just squish these damn workers under the big corporate thumb.  It's the greed thing at work here.

    What BushCo and Big Business doesn't understand is this.....they are slowly turning us into a 3rd world country.
    And you're right when you say:

    Actually, what I'd like to see is that people deliberately (along with the many who are unable) underspend their Christmas budgets and send a message that the US citizens are what keeps the economy afloat.

    Yes, we do keep the economy afloat don't we?  Christmas will be rather bleak this year.  Who has money to spend when your home heating costs are going to be 50 - 70% higher this year?

    The Delphi bankruptcy really has me pissed off.  I read an article last week in some business magazine that they were threatening to do that if unionized labor didn't give Delphi what they wanted.  What Delphi wanted was for those workers to cut their hourly wage in half, and to pay more of their health insurance.  It was totally ridiculous what they were asking.  Delphi even said they were thinking about dumping their pension burden too.  They are underfunded by like a couple billion dollars (I forget the exact amount)and they want to dump it on the feds, i.e. we the taxpayers.

    We, the taxpayers have to put an end to this dumping of pension obligations by Big Business.

    Delphi's problems began when they were spun off from GM.  GM unfairly saddled Delphi with high labor costs.  I feel that Delphi management weren't repsonsive enough to market conditions and other things that they could have reduced their costs across the board.  But they didn't.

    That's also the problem with a lot of Big Business these days.  They are not quick enough, or responsive enough to market conditions.  They don't look at the Big Picture.  They are not running their companies as efficiently as they should be.

    Case in point......look at US Air.  What a bunch of morons that are running that airline.  Bankruptcy twice.  They blamed it all on labor which was wrong.  It wasn't labor's fault.  I lay the blame squarely on upper management.  And for you people that are familiar with US Air, you know what I am talking about here.  They do not know how to run an airline.  Period.  And yet upper management still rakes in the big bucks.  Did they take a cut in pay or benefits during this time?  No siree!  Business as usual.  They should have made wholesale changes across the board in the airline to make it more efficient so they could compete.  They didn't do that.  

    It's so easy for Big Business to blame the workers, and it's not right.  Upper management is what is running some of these companies into the ground.

    It's time for us to say enough of this shit and we ain't gonna take it anymore.  We've got to hit them where it hurts, the pocketbook.  They need us and we need them.  

    •  You hit the nail as they say....square on the head (4.00)
      As companies lose money the leadership never takes a cut in pay. It seems they wind up getting paid more. This may be just my perception, but I always seem to hear about this or that person getting a bonus.

      And why is that a CEO who is so lousy at his job that he gets fired still gets millions as a severence package? They screwed up and they got fired. If you and I get fired, we don't get a squat.

      Those who are willing to sacrifice liberty for safety deserve neither. (Paraphrasing B. Franklin)

      by p a roberson on Thu Oct 13, 2005 at 04:51:33 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Absolutely true, there is a diseased class (4.00)
        of business leaders, and they seem to prosper in the vacuum surrounding it. I have absolutely no clue why mega pension funds award these animals who are out to slay the life style of their investors.

        politics ain't cricket

        by TOTO rules on Thu Oct 13, 2005 at 05:29:54 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Therein is one of the answers (4.00)
          I've had several discussions with UAW reps who've worked with Delphi.  They pride themselves on a good working relationship (until now) with management.

          They were always told, "UAW is a valued partner at the table".

          BULLSH*T.

          I've had to explain repeatedly that the only so-called valued partner is one that owns the business.  I've pointed to CalPers as an example of a powerhouse fund that looks after the best interests of its investors -- and that the UAW and other unions needed to step up and create a powerhouse just like that, one that would sit at the table of the board of directors and kick ass.

          The biggest single problem I see facing unions: an overwhelming lack of business acumen.  If every member of the union understood business, they would have understood they were sold a line of crap with that "valued partner" stuff.  They'd also have a far better grasp of the impact of global commodification of labor on their lives.

          If every one had an ownership interest in addition to real understanding of business, they'd have busted management's chops a long time ago and maybe even the chops of their own rank and file.

          Here's an example: SEIU members own a fair chunk of Novell stock.  These members not only work for Novell, but are fairly well educated and "get" the global industry they in.  They can push Novell to make better decisions about executive compensation (just read the Novell corporate blog, you'll see comments on executive comp).  And they eat the dogfood if they depend on stock performance for their retirement.

          •  What unions also need to do is be (none)
            very savvy investors with their current ranks' investments. I can't tell you how bizarre it is that some unions offer 401Ks in stock that have a known track record that doesn't even support the same values and visions that a union and its members would. How's that for self-defeating investments? They absolutely, absolutely, absolutely need to get their vision, goals and their money synched up at the back end, like socially responsible investing--some 401s don't even offer SRIs to members. This principle of spending and investment is also applicable for anyone making purchases (just about everybody?!); it's work, it involves research, it's time consuming, but really, if you know your interests are going to be resold to the lowest bidder, why would you make that sort of deal in the first place?
      •  Left with the "second-raters"? (none)
        I especially love this quote:

        And they do have to hire executives from a market where salaries are bloated. If, in the name of fairness, these companies refuse to pay a competitive package, they will lose the best executives and be left with the second-raters. I don't think that benefits anyone.

        Oh, really?  Why don't some corporations give the "second-raters" a try?  They might accidently wind up with executives who could actually think more than two quarters out.

        Oh, but that would deflate demand for the "first-raters", right, and we can't have that.

        The Democratic Party stands for equality for ALL, freedom with responsibility, and a civil and just society.

        by TexasLefty on Thu Oct 13, 2005 at 07:14:44 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  I disagree Mz Kleen.... (4.00)

      You wrote:

      "What BushCo and Big Business doesn't understand is this.....they are slowly turning us into a 3rd world country."

      Bush and his Cheap Labor Theocratic Conservatives know precisely what they are doing...

  •  Good point. (3.66)
    I'm not sure how they expect consumers to keep propping up the business economy in this scenario - that wasn't addressed.

    I'll put words into his mouth and say he expects net exports to increase in this scenario, to 'make the pie higher,' in the medium to long run.  I would also expect for him to agree that there will be a continued decline in manufacturing in the United States over the long run, regardless of wages.  With health care and insurance the way it is, especially with the pig in the python boomer generation who are going to need more and more care in the next two decades, you're looking at a  steep drop in the amount of income available for everything else.

    GDP growth is everything to everybody, I suppose, and as I'm sure you know that certain kinds of robust growth in an economy can mask a lot of problems in other sectors.

    Y'know, maybe some of you brainier Kossacks can straighten me out, but I almost want to believe that one of the major reasons socialized health care is a pipe dream at the moment is because of the massive amount of growth in the health care industry that's draining a lot of piggy banks.  This can go on for a number of years, as the decline in personal savings would be offset in the GDP by increased investment by the health care and insurance industries.  

    By the time the poor schlubs who find it harder and harder to afford basic necessities figure out that personal responsibility for their health care ain't pannin' out too well, everybody who's gotten rich off the scheme has retired, died, and given their offspring the windfall.

    Anyway, you're also right in that as the middle class disappears, there will be a more populist--socialist, if that's your thing--approach to health care, social security and education, owing to political necessity.  But I'm scared the realization of the need for all of these things will come too late.

    All of this stuff gets worse with an energy crisis, which, to me, is just over the horizon.  I am wholeheartedly in favor of a permanent petroleum windfall tax, with all revenues going towards R&D of next generation power systems and infrastructure.

    I'm 25.  Scary time for me and those my age.  Frustrating to see a lot of shit coming my way and not being able to do much about it.

    Madam, if you were my wife, I would drink it.

    by gavodotcom on Thu Oct 13, 2005 at 04:40:58 AM PDT

    •  For those our age (25-ish) (4.00)
      If times are good, save, save, save. I'm sinking much of my 401k money into international funds.

      Most importantly, though, live beneath your means. It took me a few years out of school to learn that. But now, most of the time when I go shopping, I see things that somewhat interesting to look at, but that I have no strong desire to buy.

      One of the things that's been key to learning to live beneath my means is to stop watching TV (or become a VERY good critical viewer). If you don't know what to want, you won't want nearly as much. If you don't see how something is integrated into people's lives, you will be less likely to believe that it must be integrated into yours.

      That which you do unto the least of these, you do unto me - Matthew 25:40

      by A Texan in Maryland on Thu Oct 13, 2005 at 04:51:34 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Good for you (4.00)
        Watching your exposure to risk by moving money to non-American investments is a good step.

        Young folks should also consider investment in healthcare since demand will become exponential over the next 10 years as Baby Boomers continue to retire.  But use ethics in choosing these healthcare investments -- social and personal ethics.  It's not personally beneficial to invest in a firm that carries a lot of risk and is unethical in its own practices. (Example of risky selections: Pfizer and Merck, since both have BIG suits pending on drugs that may have been rushed to market.  Example of personal risk: investing in firms that spend a LOT on advertising and sampling to promote prescription products that compete with OTC products.)

        And definitely, leave below your means.  Been there, done that.  Didn't go out to eat but once a month and then only when reasonably priced (got a coupon for that?).  Went to matinees and late, late shows.  Bought clothes at consignment shops and NEVER bought at retail.  It was fun; it felt tight at the time, but in retrospect it was good times.  

      •  My own son is 36 - (4.00)
        so the generation before you.  But I feel badly for you guys - and I feel like somehow I let you down.  My own generation is called I think the tweenies or silent generation (I'm in my late 60s).  I am watching this whole thing like an appalled spectator watching a mudslide in slow motion.  I realize how lucky I've been and how even luckier the boomers have been -  But you both seem to have the right idea -- Great last sentence, Maryland Texan.  Hope both of you are emblematic of your generation -

        The beneficiaries are likely to be...large corporations and development firms. (O'Connor, J. dissenting in Kelo). God bless you, J. O'Connor.

        by xanthe on Thu Oct 13, 2005 at 06:08:12 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Just curious...why do you think Boomers (none)
          are "luckier" than you? Boomers have one thing in common--they are part of the largest generation thus have been subject to intense competition for jobs, especially when young...and many of us started our working lives during the long recession of the 70s. Also, whatever happens with Social Security, it's pretty clear that very few of us are ever going to see any pension income, and retirement (for those who can afford it) is going to be later than it was for you and previous generations. There has been a tendency I think to regard the upper-middle-class Boomers as somehow representative of their generation, and I think that's very misleading.
          •  I didn't mean to be offensive at all (none)
            just that I think you had better opportunities to go to the university than I had.  There was nothing out there - no loans, very few grants.  I am now in my 60s and getting my bachelor's degree in a few months and hope to get a master's.  Problem is I probably shouldn't spend the money - my real estate taxes are going up.

            Perhaps you are right about an "upper middle class" attitude about Boomers.  As well, I worked for over 45 years as a legal secretary/paralegal and the majority of the lawyers I worked with were boomers.  I have many friends who are boomers and are working class like I am -- yet - I suppose I thought that it became easier for kids to go to school with your generation.  And that's "a good thing."  I'm worried about so many of the kids I go to school with that are in horrendous debt.  And for those that won't go to school because of the policies of this admin --

            I and my friends were lucky because there was so much hope out there when we got out of high school and I did make enough money to give my parents  money for a downpayment on a home and help my younger sister.  There were lots of jobs -- maybe not "professional" - but I was able to lead a reasonably comfortable life.  I also made enough money to raise my son on my salary (lots of overtime thank God).  Is there hope out there for young working class people today as to rising up a class?  

            The beneficiaries are likely to be...large corporations and development firms. (O'Connor, J. dissenting in Kelo). God bless you, J. O'Connor.

            by xanthe on Thu Oct 13, 2005 at 08:27:30 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

      •  We shop at thrift stores (none)
        as a first resort for satisfaction of those pesky and nagging consumer desires.

        If I have a longing for a new skirt, or some "treat" shopping experience, I head to the thrift store.  There are some great thrift stores near where I live and I always manage to find something that satisfies that urge to have, and it costs like $3 or $4.

        Another way is eBay.  I have bought great designer things on eBay, for $10 and under.  It is deeply satisfying to me.  

        Also at thrift stores:  "decorator" things.  Why go to Pottery Barn or Crate and Barrel?  Why think that the "House Beautiful" look is out of your reach?  I would thumb through decorating magazines on the store rack or in airport bookstore sites, eating the images with my eyes.  Then I would go to garage sales and thrift stores and find stuff very similar in shape, color or texture to the astronomically-priced chi-chi things shown in magazines.  

    •  "solution" to global warming? (none)
      w/ a shrinking middle class, demand for energy  (at least in the usa) would not grow so fast.
  •  Did somebody ask this rat-fuck-piece of shit (3.81)
    if HE was going to accept less pay and resign himself to a below middle class life style??? Rotten no good fuckwad-shitface-cocksucking-asswipe.
    •  Good expletives for him and his ilk (3.87)
      I would add more. What galls me is that this garbage passes as "ideas" in a conservative framework, instead of being branded as repulsive medievalism...

      politics ain't cricket

      by TOTO rules on Thu Oct 13, 2005 at 04:53:49 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Underspending this Christmas (4.00)
    isn't going to be a problem at my house.  It will be a standard.  We're gonna need that money for heating bills, gas money to get to work, and to help cover the rising costs of groceries.  

    Christmas?  
    Shit man, the best present ever would be an IMPEACHMENT trial.  Free for me, as I'll already be paying taxes for that.

    Healing BEGINS with impeachment...

    by valeria on Thu Oct 13, 2005 at 04:47:23 AM PDT

    •  I'd like to strangle the person (none)
      who decided that people have to spend themselves into oblivion at Christmas time.  I absolutely refuse to "celebrate" Christmas on economic, and of course, on (non) religious grounds.  People call me a grinch, but fuck them, Im not broke.

      "George W. did cocaine as recently as 1992, when he snorted lines off of Rush Limbaugh's tits at Camp David" - The Onion.

      by calipygian on Thu Oct 13, 2005 at 05:36:42 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  That is the problem this year (none)
        in the celebration.  We don't spend into oblivion.  We don't max the cards.  We don't even spend that much at all.

        This year we won't even do THAT LITTLE.

        Healing BEGINS with impeachment...

        by valeria on Thu Oct 13, 2005 at 08:02:47 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Heat's a gift. (none)
      After having three months of $400 heating bills for gas in a leaky, old Boston apartment last winter, I know what to expect.

      I'll be giftwrapping the heat payment receipt for the wife - gotta try & make the best of it while we save for our own leaky, old house.

      "I'm not an actor, but I play one on TV."

      by zeitshabba on Thu Oct 13, 2005 at 06:43:31 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  may I also recommend (none)
        that you buy her a flower? just one will do- it  conveys the message and provides a bit of romance- something we women need from our mates.
      •  Have you sealed your windows? (none)
        You should do it. It makes a difference, and it doesn't cost much. That foam weatherstripping can go around the edges of the window sills, the plastic goes over the entire window, and it really helps.

        Replacing the windows would help more, but that's not an option for you.

  •  Actually before the depression we had this... (none)

    To me this chat was a rather open statement that the business class expects the US to reorganize itself as an oligarchy with a more classic "proletariat" than has existed previously.

    The capitalists have been working to get it back ever since.
  •  Ahh,... (none)
    ...so putting people into poverty is the alternative to outsourcing.  And who will pay for all the additional costs of having those workers on foodstamps and medicaid when they can't take care of their own needs?  Just a small detail to worked out, I guess.    

    Be the creature. (But not a Republican.) blogomni

    by boran2 on Thu Oct 13, 2005 at 04:53:14 AM PDT

    •  they want/need to eliminate (4.00)
      food stamps and medicaid. It is part of their program. Desparate poor are needed to make their program work.

      SOCIAL SECURITY: Invented by Democrats yesterday, Protected by Democrats today

      by mollyd on Thu Oct 13, 2005 at 04:58:25 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Silly - don't you remember (4.00)
      we can all go to the workhouses until our debts are paid off.

      I have been thinking of buying another building (I just sold one in Hudson) for my antiques and books business, but I read stuff like this and realize that the middle class may not have the $$ to spend on a cup of coffee in the morning.  Or the money to come to the area, which depends on tourism, while the local population is rather poor.  Makes me think.

      "If you are not outraged, you are not paying attention."

      by adigal on Thu Oct 13, 2005 at 06:22:14 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I've been talking about this for years (none)
        It's all interconnected, and all our ships will sink together. The selfish and "successful" alike with us $20k/per annum serfs.

        Except that I notice that the Fords, the Bushes, the Carnegies, the rest of those Robber Barons from the Gilded Age - they all weathered the First Depression just fine and are still exploiting us away. What about that, eh?

        If you're not in the top 5%, Capitalism isn't really your friend.

        "Don't be a janitor on the Death Star!" - Grey Lady Bast (change @ for AT to email)

        by bellatrys on Thu Oct 13, 2005 at 09:12:59 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Good lord (4.00)
    I am glad I did not read this chat yesterday.  It was bad enough when I read this article first thing in the morning.  I was furious for the entire day.

    They just sort of drop this in there...

    Before the bankruptcy filing, Delphi had demanded reductions in worker pay and sought to ease the union's grip on decisions to close or consolidate factories. The union has balked at the demands, which included a 50 percent wage cut.

    ...like a 50 percent wage cut doesn't even matter, in the midst of some prick going on about how labor unions are victims of their own success.  I feel like I've crossed into some weird alternate universe, when it doesn't even occur to journalists to question that maybe, just maybe, restructuring an entire industry with FIFTY PERCENT WAGE CUTS is a bad thing!

    Now I'm going to spend today all pissed, too.  Grump.

    How can we get over it when people died for the right to vote? -- John Lewis

    by furryjester on Thu Oct 13, 2005 at 04:55:21 AM PDT

    •  And the management (4.00)
      took huge bonuses.

      The beneficiaries are likely to be...large corporations and development firms. (O'Connor, J. dissenting in Kelo). God bless you, J. O'Connor.

      by xanthe on Thu Oct 13, 2005 at 06:11:16 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I live in Michigan, this story is getting huge (none)
      play.  I found a link to a pretty expansive thread on DemocraticUnderground about the Delphi issue, and one comment marvels at how journalists are focusing on how the UAW is just going to have to suck it up--not questioning the huge bonus packages routinely given to the top tier management:

      http://www.democraticunderground.com/discuss/duboard.php?az=view_all&address=102x1838934

      Listening is where love begins: listening to ourselves and then to our neighbors. Mister Rogers

      by station wagon on Thu Oct 13, 2005 at 06:37:41 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  heh (none)
        Not to rain on your parade or anything, but Democratic Underground isn't what I'd consider huge play... are the local newspapers and/or TV news in Michigan addressing the real issues here at all?

        How can we get over it when people died for the right to vote? -- John Lewis

        by furryjester on Thu Oct 13, 2005 at 06:52:39 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  by 'huge play' I'm referring to is the amount (none)
          of news coverage the story is getting.  The element of the story I've heard repeated most often is that workers are being asked to pay more toward their health care costs and are being asked to accept pay cuts of up to 60%.  That's in the mainstream news, including NPR.  Michigan workers have been mauled by outsourcing and union busting as you may well know.  For the last five years huge chunks of jobs up and left or have vaporized. It is not pretty.  

          Listening is where love begins: listening to ourselves and then to our neighbors. Mister Rogers

          by station wagon on Thu Oct 13, 2005 at 07:24:20 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  grammar, yikes. I just linked to DU because (none)
            the issue of Delphi and what the implications are has been discussed and I though the ideas and links there could help extend this discussion for those who are inclined to take the time to check it out.

            Listening is where love begins: listening to ourselves and then to our neighbors. Mister Rogers

            by station wagon on Thu Oct 13, 2005 at 07:27:17 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  Ok sure, (none)
            I wasn't clear on that but this clears it up.. thanks.  I wonder if people really get it.  You know how easy it is to just gloss right over numbers if you're not paying attention and honestly, I wonder if people really grasp that the "solution" that is proposed is to CUT PAY IN HALF.  I mean really.  I was just floored by how that was just tossed off, off-handedly, no discussion nor acknowledgement of what a tremendous blow that would be, in the WaPo article I linked to somewhere else in this thread.

            As far as what has been going on in Michigan, I have not been there recently.  But in 1998 or thereabouts I spent several months doing a summer internship working with kids in inner-city Flint.  It was surreal at times, I remember driving past two Taco Bell restaurants right next door to each other.  One had been stripped down and boarded up and the other was brand new.  Then there were the neighborhoods, all the GM houses, and the run down parks and schools.

            And the kids, who were great, they were beautiful, kids always are, but they had no idea of their potential and indeed thought they were worthless.  You would ask them to color a picture and they would get really upset "I can't" I mean seriously... who teaches a kid they are so incompetent they cannot color a picture? where does that come from? When we finally convinced them to do it hell half the kids could draw better than me.

            One time, Neil Armstrong and John Glenn came up in conversation and I remember being floored and speechless when it turned out none of the kids (aged about 6 to 15) knew: 1) that people had been to the moon, and 2) what a senator was. How stunning that such basic knowledge is somehow not being passed on.

            One of the kids, he was an older boy, thought he was hot stuff; he liked to flip gang signs and tell people he was going to do drive by shootings when he grew up.  He was tough to deal with.  Always trying to disrupt what was going on.  Then one day for some reason, someone asked him to supervise some of the younger kids and it was like night and day.  Suddenly he behaved himself, and nudged the other kids to behave - and he wasn't even harsh or mean with them like some kids can be in that role, but showed real leadership.  We were all amazed.  All he needed was for someone to trust him with a task.

            There was a little girl, well two really, one about six and one about ten, and their dad worked second shift so he couldn't be there for them when they got home from school.  Their mom had died.  So the older one had to basically be mom for the younger one, and it was really hard on them both.  Sometimes the younger girl would come complaining of a stomachache and people learned to ask if what she meant was that she needed a hug, often the answer was yes.

            Anyway.. lots of rambling there.. but I am not surprised, not surprised at all, to hear things have been going along in the same old way.  No, not surprised at all.

            How can we get over it when people died for the right to vote? -- John Lewis

            by furryjester on Thu Oct 13, 2005 at 07:59:52 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  Here's a fun link (none)
          http://freep.typepad.com/comments/2005/10/sign_or_walk.html

          The Detroit Free Press has a rather active message board regarding the Delphi/union thing. I'm astonished at the misconceptions of some people. Messages are flying on this board; when I was on a minute ago, they were practically scrolling.

          Someone seriously said that everyone on line work ought to be making $3.50 an hour. What kind of housing could anyone afford on $7000/year?

          Someone else suggested that a worker who should only be making $10/hour on line work ought to send their kids to college if they want their kids to have a better standard of living. How could someone feeding their family on $20k/year afford college for 2 kids?

          Someone else suggested that janitors don't deserve more than $10/hour. Why doesn't someone who cleans other people's shit for a living deserve a living wage?

          Another brilliant idea was for all the union workers to sell their $300,000 homes, SUVs and big screen televisions in order to afford the upcoming pay cut. My question, assuming blue collar workers really are the inhabitants of all those McMansions: To whom? Who can afford anything like that anymore?

          I'm not going to get into the union pros and cons that some people were throwing out, and the derogatory remarks flung back and forth between blue collar workers and management about the quality of each other's work and the relative ease of each other's jobs. Can you say, "Mother of All Flame Wars"?

          Stop by for a few minutes of fun. You'll appreciate the intellectual snobbery on DKos all the more when you've finished.

          "The only people on earth who do not see Christ and His teachings as nonviolent are Christians." -Ghandi

          by jennifree2bme on Thu Oct 13, 2005 at 11:12:00 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Steven Pearlstine is an evil scumbag (4.00)
    And he's typical of the Wall St. / neocon mindset, which is willing to turn this entire country into a banana republic in order to enrich themselves.  Despite his studied air of "objective analyst," Pearlstine his kind are no better than Mafioso -- who at least are willing to get their own hands bloody to steal.
    •  Yes, but he's spokesperson for a generation (4.00)
      The problem isn't Pearlstine; the problem is that Pearlstine is just one of MILLIONS of Americans who don't seem to have a problem with neo-feudalism. Even those who will likely (have already) find themselves amongst the peasantry.

      And I don't know what's more shocking: that Pearlstine and his ilk are so smug and arrogant that they freely admit this, or that so many of us are detached or insecure enough not to recognize this obvious fact.

      Free lunches come about when folks steal them from the folks that made them and paid for them. I don't remember the part of the Bible where Jesus miraculously produced billions of dollars of largesse in the form of free lunches for the Wall St. silver spoon set. Can you remind me what book that's in?

      "...there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so." Hamlet, Act II, Scene ii.

      by thingamabob on Thu Oct 13, 2005 at 06:43:15 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  underfunding pensions (while taking bonuses) (4.00)
    needs to be redefined as theft by the statute.

    Prison might refocus their minds.

    SOCIAL SECURITY: Invented by Democrats yesterday, Protected by Democrats today

    by mollyd on Thu Oct 13, 2005 at 05:00:23 AM PDT

  •  The sad truth: Workers need much more training (4.00)
    There is no middle class without continuously-improving education. That's just the way it is.

    The other sad truth

    Someone is going to have to be willing to pay for that training. Not just pose as pro-education leaders, but push for a serious and sincere transformation of how we get children ready for their citizenship and for their professions.

    Because what's in place now just isn't cutting it. Not by half.

    And, no -- home schooling and ditching public education most certainly is not the answer. I've got ideas, but that's worth a book, never mind a diary.

    The really sad truth

    Hardly anyone wants to change, no one with a vested interest in the current regime of politics and pedagogy. There is an Aristotelian interest in keeping things as they are -- for reasons that Pearlstine alludes to: putting the brakes on working class opportunities for advances and -- much more insidious -- expectations that they deserve a better life, and can obtain it in this life.

    The simple truth

    We're going to have to do that ourselves, no one (certainly not Republicans) have any intention of helping America revitalize its fast-fading education edge...leastwise, not for Americans. Perhaps for Iraqis and Mainland Chinese, but not for Americans.

    Eight Point Agenda to Fix this

    1. Increase awareness that timely and accurate information is a right and responsibility. Call it the universal right to truth.
    2. Public policies and their proponents can and should be judged by how they contribute to the ethic of universal right to truth.
    3. Voters can and should vote their self-interest in such matters, and that of their children and communities, by voting in policies that promote the universal right to truth.
    4. Stakeholders should be motivated by principled and well as rational self-interest. Not only is a well-informed populace more prosperous -- it's just the right thing to do.
    5. Support the universal right to truth by thought, action and (you guessed it) funding, and generously. Assess public officials accordingly in their ability to execute on task.
    6. Align yourself with 'truthful' causes -- and persons. Dissociate from persons and programs that assert the concept of privileged information -- beyond contemporary norms of security and privacy.
    7. Keep the movement energized with publicity -- anecdotes of success from greater access and application of universal truth at both the micro and macro level -- and similar tales of woe when lies and privileged knowledge prevail, with details of who suffers (too rarely the privileged)
    8. Develop a curriculum of truth, and a pedogogy that inculcates skills of independent observation, analysis and judgment, in dialog with others and according to universal moral right.

    It's only Nero-esque if the city is burning. :)

    by cskendrick on Thu Oct 13, 2005 at 05:00:49 AM PDT

    •  How about we ban public companies, (none)
      and we call it a day? You know, if they see fit to rewrite economic rules for democracies and republics after they have been prospering in them...

      politics ain't cricket

      by TOTO rules on Thu Oct 13, 2005 at 05:12:25 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  The public limited-liability corporation (none)
        I'm willing to let it stick around, it's been a useful invention. But I want two dreadful mistakes reversed:

      • No more human rights for non-human entities. Only people have a right to free speech, a right to privacy, a right to life. There is no such thing as a corporate person in reality, and the fiction should not be permitted in law.

      • No more "fiduciary duty". If the directors of a public corporation can get the shareholders to agree to keep them by a majority vote, even though they behaved ethically at the cost of failing to maximize shareholder value, then no single greedy shareholder should be able to sue them because they failed to do their "duty" to him. Most shareholders aren't evil, and could actually be persuaded to enjoy owning shares in an ethical company, even if it means 1% or so off their growth.
  •  But we already have too many Barista-engineers (4.00)
    Certainly, you are right when you say we need more skills & better education. However, we have to have businesses to HIRE the skilled workers and pay appropriate wages for that skill. Our Starbucks counters are filled with workers with advanced degrees - the uncounted underemployed.

    I have many more skills than I had 6 years ago - yet make much less and have no advancement prospects. If it weren't for the fact that I moonlight as a web designer at night - I'd be homeless.

  •  Aristotle (4.00)
    These are Platonic fascists. Aristotle may have tutored Alexander, but in his Ethics he showed he was against dictatorship, even within the self.

    Aristotle got a bad rap because of the uses his texts were put to by the Church in the Middle Ages. It's thought that he stood for orthodoxy against science. But if you actually read he, the very center of his method of inquiry was to carefully challenge all orthodoxy.

    We would have no science, and would have had no Enlightenment, without Aristotle.

    Plato, on the other hand, is the fountainhead of neo-con thought.

  •  I was right there with you until you staggered (none)
    out into the hinterlands of Communism...

    I think you are totally dreaming if you thing you're going to get some sort of universal healthcare out of people who are trying to eliminate the middle class.

    What they are aiming for is a model in the image of India with an upper class and a lower class - no in between - and there ain't gonna be any social services for your so-called "prolitariat".

    Good catch on the story - couldn't disagree more with your conclusions on "opportunities" this business strategy presents...

  •  Business Needs Consumers (4.00)
    Business needs consumers, or there will be no business class.  If you destroy the middle class in order to get poor workers, you destroy the consumer base.  These people are so fucking stupid.

    "When you starve the beast, you starve the people. And the bathtub was a reference to New Orleans." -- bink

    by bink on Thu Oct 13, 2005 at 05:19:18 AM PDT

  •  Sick, twisted economics... (4.00)
    You know, I seriously think two can play at this game.  If the United States became as socialist as Europe or Canada, where would these tax-hating capitalists run to?  Right now, there are lots of countries that your typical middle-class person could still pack up and move to in order to get a better deal before they are completely impoverished.  Can the capitalists say the same?  

    People keep arguing to me that socialism will not work because people who want to work hard and make money won't stick around for it, and you get a brain-drain.  But I say, where are the brains going to drain to, huh?  China?  Most of Europe and Canada have socialized health care!  Where would these capitalists go if we taxed them like they do in Europe?  Eventually, there'll be nowhere they can go that's livable.  The choice will be, live as a responsible tax-paying citizen in the Western world, or as a spoiled dictator in some under-developed country.

  •  This is a policy goal Newt Gingrich & co. (none)
    have had in mind for many years. While in Congress, Gingrich spoke about the need to ELIMINATE the minimum wage--which would vastly expand the pockets of third-world nationhood inside the United States.

    Newt is "in" as a policy adviser for the Republicans today.

    "Novus Ordo Seclorum." Another old-fashioned phrase on our dollar bills.

    by Ignacio Magaloni on Thu Oct 13, 2005 at 05:34:59 AM PDT

  •  "This, to me, is class war" (4.00)
    I'm glad to see another person wake-up.

    This is CLASS WAR, and the other side is winning.

    by Mr X on Thu Oct 13, 2005 at 05:49:44 AM PDT

  •  FDR had it right (4.00)
    when he labeled them "Economic Royalists".

    That sums up why the overclass never takes a pay cut and gets millions in severence no matter how bad they fuck up. They have an entitlement mentality that once they get to the big leagues, they can do no wrong and deserve the best of everything, at the expense of the working class.

    They've forgotten that WE are the majority, but so, unfortunately, have we.

    They don't want to take us back 50 years--they want to go back well over a hundred years, back to the guilded age. But even that's not good enough. They want high-tech feudalism.A few nobles, some soldiers and well-treated lackeys to enforce their will, and hordes of peasants and slaves.

    Al Qeada is a faith-based initiative.

    by drewfromct on Thu Oct 13, 2005 at 05:57:47 AM PDT

  •  They want us DEAD. (4.00)
    That's what it really comes down to. I already know people who are suffering or who have died for lack of health care.

    Educated or not, if you're not one of THEM, you're a "useless eater". The "elite" only need enough of us workers to serve them, once they've stolen all they can to provide a life of luxury for themselves. No health care coverage? How can one work at even the most menial job without decent health care? Or ESPECIALLY menial jobs, since most of them, in my experience, require working physically harder than at most white collar jobs, costing health and lives.

    (OT--Raise the retirement age? A callous joke when there is age discrimination and no health care for many. We will be dead before we can claim our social security. Which is fine with these cretinous, oily scumbags, since they have probably already stolen it all anyway.)

    The arrogance of this attitude must be exposed in terms that every citizen can understand, and attacked as the genocidal, monstrous evil it is.

  •  Guess they've never heard of... (4.00)
    ...Trickle UP economics!

    If no one has surplus income, no one will be able to spend money on their products and services.  Wave "bye-bye" to your phoney-baloney executive job and salary!

    Come on down here and crack open a can of Alpo with the rest of us!

    Burn in Hell, Short-sited bastards.

  •  This makes me cringe (4.00)
    Growing up, my dad taught me that everyone deserves enough money to buy a house and raise a couple of kids where they work.  

    The bus drivers, the cops, the teachers, the store clerks, everyone.

    It is part of my core beliefs.  It is right.  It is necessary.  It is life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

    I always knew that Republicans didn't believe that--they think that only people with trust funds have that right.  But to see them so baldly state that an active assault is underway is absolutely chilling.

  •  Can anyone say (4.00)
    French Revolution, American Style?

    The gates of the gated communities won't be enough to protect them...

  •  I wear my tinfoil hat proudly! (4.00)
    As most of my family & friends think I wear a tinfoil hat when I talk about how their GOAL (that is, their CALCULATED, INTENTIONAL GOAL) is to destroy the middle class.

    I think the thing to do is to expose that chat to as broad an audience as possible (maybe a MoveOn TV ad?) - and be on the lookout for more examples of similar claptrap - then expose to the max. Im sure examples are legion if we look in the right places.

    The financial/"management" class is way overdue for a major slapdown. They need to be taught - harshly - that consumers (upper middle class on down) control their fortunes. Most with an iota of common sense know this, but we're dealing with the nonthinker set here.

    Already the home equity crutch the economy has rested on the past few years has petered out - so who will buy/sell/create all their shit? Does this question EVER occur to these people?

    Of course, removing the steaming turdpile that controls Congress will go a long way as well to repeal the laws that allow these conditions to exist in the first place.

    As a side note, Id LOVE to see someone in the room remind Mr. Pearlstine that there are far smarter financial analysts to be had in Bangalore, India for a single-digit percentage of what that asshole is paid. The phrase "dime a dozen" comes to mind.

  •  We need to be more co-operative (4.00)
    Small Businesses, pooled resources, there needs to be an entity that helps with business issues.  We can longer trust the government, or freemarket capitalists to gainfully employ, train, or offer benefits.

    We need an entity that can help with business, labor and economic issues.  

  •  and yet... (4.00)
    What IS a good standard of living, in the mind of the average American?

    Let's face it - even the squeezed middle class American aspires more to buy a new video iPod than they aspire to save money, or to ask their representatives to push for universal health care.

    Until middle class Americans stop thinking of "a good standard of living" as "the accumulation of stuff," people will remain anesthetized - or will subtly buy in to Pearlstine's new American order.

    The bottom line for the American standard of living we believe in, has to do with being able to live and work with dignity.  

  •  Our governmental leadership (4.00)
    is made up of people that have at the very least a contempt and at worst a death-wish for Government.  Yes, the barbarians are not at the gate, they are guarding it.  

    They live in an executive terrarium that emerses them in the ether of big-business.  The middle-class is an abomination to these leaders.  A large middle-class, by definition, means that labor is expensive - period (by "they" I mean Cheney, Delay, Frist, Bush, Rove, Norquist, Abramof and their clubs).

    The corporation is the favored citizen.  The person is a pain-in-the-ass requiring food, shelter, clothes, a modicum of "education" (not too much - an educated worker is a union leader waiting to happen), medicine, entertainment and all the rest.  When the worker starts demanding goods and services that should be reserved for the Executive Class, he has then succeeded in burrowing up the back of business's well-pressed slacks.  And they got there via an escort from Mr. Roosevelt's Sugar Mountain style of government.  

    Well, according to the Cheney-Rove-Abramof society, it's time to say goodbye to the barkers and the colored balloons.  If you don't want to write code or press bumpers for five dollars an hour, we will send the work to a land that exists outside of the influence of Mr. Roosevelt's sensibilities.

    Oh, and Merry fucking Christmas.

  •  Wealth and Democracy (4.00)
    Kevin Phillips wrote about this some years ago in his book Wealth and Democracy. Perhaps the most distrubing thing is his book is the comparisons he drew between the US today and imperial

    Britain in its later stages of economic decline. Like our economic elites, British capitalists found finance and investing overseas far more profitable than investing in the home economy. Starved of capital, British industry and British industrial workers lost ground year after year even as the capitalist class told them to "tighten their belts" in order to compete.
     

    Sponge Bob, Mandrake, Cartoons. That's how your hard-core islamahomocommienazis work.

    by Benito on Thu Oct 13, 2005 at 06:13:31 AM PDT

  •  I was really dismayed (none)
    watching on cspan the Prez's Advisory Panel on Tax Reform...from what I saw it was take from the poor and give to the rich, I would expect no less from this administration.

    They were all (with the exception of John Breux former Sen-D LA, the only dissenter), gleefully talking about limiting the amount of health insurance that was tax deductible.  Not for the employer, 100% of the employer contribution would still be tax exempt, but from the worker.  Don't know about everyone who has insurance through their employer, but for me it would mean a CUT in pay...

    I don't doubt that they will come up with many more wonderful "reform" ideas to further line the pockets of the rich.

    There is no way to peace. Peace is the way. - Mahatma Gandhi

    by otis704 on Thu Oct 13, 2005 at 06:14:34 AM PDT

  •  At the moment the rationale for reducing (none)
    the reward for labor is the supposed competitive pressure from cheaper labor overseas, but that's because the real reason would not be well received.
    And that is the basic principle (prejudice, if you will) of economic science which holds that man is basically lazy and must be forced to work by making it difficult for him to sustain himself otherwise.  From that perspective, a rising share in the rewards of productive enterprise will depress the worker's effort and is to be avoided at all costs.  If that involves the workers' share being stolen, that's ok.

    This pessimistic perspective on human nature accounts in large part for the designation of economics as the "dismal science."  The reason it never achieves a higher level of accuracy in making economic predictions, it thinks, is the result of man's flawed being which keeps undermining the models the experts come up with.  That their basic assumptions might be mistaken doesn't occur to them, probably because the negative estimate of the ordinary man is in accord with the presumption that because man is evil (lazy) it is good to tell him what to do.
    If one were to assume that man is naturally inclined to do good, then it would be wrong to force him to do anything, wouldn't it.  The authoritarian personality must assume the worst about human nature.

    3-D Republicans=deception, disservice and debt

    by hannah on Thu Oct 13, 2005 at 06:20:31 AM PDT

  •  C+ in Econ (4.00)
    And I guess this dumb type of question is the reason why, but here it is anyway:

    I have always wondered why it is that we accept any discussion of capitalism that presumes that there is some "magic" in coming up with ideas that justifies being rewarded, indefinitely, at rates 100-10000 times what the laborers who actualize the ideas for the marketplace earm.  I am unaware of any wealthy person who got wealthy through their own personal labor.  There simply are not enough hours in the day.

    Folks are being made wealthy by obtaining and maintaining access to and control of capital.  They have decided that there is a "minimum" profit/reward they are entitled to merely for that control, and take it - even if it means that the actual workers that actualize the capital for market consumption are on the verge of starvation.

    Is there a reason that we continue to allow it to happen over and over, without riots in the streets? I mean I'm a believer in profit too, and definitely not a communist, but what would happen if those who worked for a living simply stopped until they obtained some basic guarantees about fair wages and benefits?

    25 years ago the answer to that question would have been "the economy would collapse unless the worker-owner bargain was renegotiated". And I suspect that the owners of capital knew that too, which is why they really began to love the idea of outsourcing; not just to provide an increased profit percentage, but to ensure that American workers at all collar levels could not retain the practical level of control they did not realize they even had over the unfairness.

    And they did it by persuading us that somehow it was bad to actually care about preserving jobs for American workers when so many others were suffering in the world.

    Pretty smart, that.  Because now, I'm not sure what would happen if workers just stood up and said "we're done" so long as people who do nothing more than come up with ideas and make speeches reap so vast a reward from other people's labor that the laborers themselves increasingly have become volunteer slaves.

    Anyhow just a ramble.  And obviously, I don't know anything about economics or I'd be able to see why such a basic truth about how wealth is ultimately created doesn't empower folks to just say enough is enough.

    /sigh

    My separate place for mental meanderings: Political Sapphire

    by shanikka on Thu Oct 13, 2005 at 06:20:44 AM PDT

  •  This dovetails with (4.00)
    'private accounts' or so-called SSI reform. You wrote:

    The basic truth is that the workers, all workers, must work for less pay so that their companies will still be competitive with overseas labor.

    What struck me when I first heard this scheme was that by linking a the retirement money of a large number of Americans to the profitability of corporations, it would give these same corporations tremendous power regarding environmental regulation, worker safety rules, changing labor protection laws, etc. Because if any of these regulations add to the cost of their products or services, then that comes out of their profit, and hence retirement accounts.

    We are already witnessing the elimination of employer paid health care. Many small firms (under 50 employees) can no longer afford to provide it. The many gains made through legislation in the 1930's and Labor power in the 1950's are slipping away.

  •  I don't think we'll have to coordinate (none)
    to reduce our holiday spending this year.  It'll be a natural byproduct of Republicanomics.

    "Ah, you come from one of those Americas. You have my sympathy." - Neil Gaiman

    by PatrioticallyIncorrect on Thu Oct 13, 2005 at 06:21:41 AM PDT

  •  Fucking Assholes (none)
    Take a look at how much more money the elites have in this country, and how much less the rest have.  What you will see is the number is equal.  

    The gains of the rich in the past 10 years are exactly what the losses of the poor have been.

    Don't listen to this shit.  They're trying to subdue you.

    Most people are idiots... But don't tell them. It'll spoil all the fun for those of us who aren't.

    by d3n4l1 on Thu Oct 13, 2005 at 06:23:47 AM PDT

  •  It's not class warfare, it's economic warfare (4.00)
    And we (the United States) are going to lose the battle.  That's simply the truth.  All this talk of class warfare and the wealthy wanting to destroy the middle class is a crock.  Yes, it's true, the rich want more for themselves, yes they don't care if the middle class is destroyed, but it's all tangential to the real issue.  

    The real issue is that we in the US consume more than our fair share of the world's resources.  The real issue is that we in the US live better than the average standard of living that the world will support.  

    We are not a superior culture.  We aren't superior human beings.  We are no smarter, no better educated, no more resourceful than people in any other country.  We demand premium wages without possessing premium qualities.  

    The standard of living here will drop, it is inevitable.  Anyone who thinks we can legislate this problem away is dreaming.  I'm not saying whether this is good, I'm just saying that it's going to happen.  

    We who live in this country need to adapt to the changing world and accept that our pampered existence is going to come to an end.  Yes, our children (and even ourselves) will not live as well as we have in the past.  That doesn't mean we will be miserable, just that we won't have the same standard of living in the future and that we're going to have to learn to make due with less.  

    All of us are going to have to accept that, and the best way to do so is to start making changes now.  Pay off your debts, save your money, don't rush to the mall to buy every piece of junk that's advertised.  

    We're not going to stop globalisation because the rest of the world isn't going to let us.  

    In Britain they admit to having royalty. In the United States we pretend we don't have any, and then we elect them president.

    by Asak on Thu Oct 13, 2005 at 06:30:41 AM PDT

  •  Of course that's what they want (none)
    That's why we need a global labor movement.

    And we need to cap outrageous CEO salaries.

    If we want to be competitive, the first step would be to bring down CEO salaries back to the average of at least Japan and Europe, if not below.

    They are way overcompensated.

    "It's better to realize you're a swan than to live life as a disgruntled duck."

    by Mumon on Thu Oct 13, 2005 at 06:31:41 AM PDT

  •  They NEVER tried to hide it. (4.00)
    Every republican, from the Goldwater variety to the Rockefeller sort, from Reagan and Bush(es) to McCain and Lugar -- they all harken back to the "gilded age" when things were GREAT!! *

    * - DISCLAIMER: Does not apply to working persons, women, persons of color, alternate religions, those with special "preferences", the aged, infirm, disabled or of average (or lower) looks and intelligence. "Great" cannot be construed to mean "fair" and may only apply to the acquisition of wealth, property and power for less than 1% of the general population.

    -------
    Walkin' on water gets you killed.

    by PBJ Diddy on Thu Oct 13, 2005 at 06:33:43 AM PDT

  •  Just wait for October 18th! (4.00)
    Remember that is the day that the new Bankruptcy act kicks in and screws the working class even more!

    Thank you, Joe "MBNA" Biden!

  •  Costco (4.00)
    Blows this small brained idea out of the water.  Profitable, fair company with employees loyalty.  The Agonist has blogged a little about this, and links to others who have more.  But the short is, you have to have a ceo who is not an asshole, does not demand idiot sized compensation, and cares about the workers.  

    Coporate ethics in this country are completely skewed.  This is a big part of the problem.  Blaming labor is an excuse of bad executives to explain away why they ran the company into the ground while looting its treasury.  Want proof?  Look at the White House.

  •  The new "Company store"..... (4.00)
    This is from the website of the documentary "The Corporation" regarding what is now termed in the marketing field as "Perception Management"...

    The Initiative Corporation spends $22 billion worldwide placing its clients' advertising in every imaginable - and some unimaginable - media. One new medium: very young children. Their "Nag Factor" study dropped jaws in the world of child psychiatry. It was designed not to help parents cope with their children's nagging, but to help corporations formulate their ads and promotions so that children would nag for their products more effectively. Initiative Vice President Lucy Hughes elaborates: "You can manipulate consumers into wanting, and therefore buying your products. It's a game."

    Today people can become brands (Martha Stewart). And brands can build cities (Celebration, Florida). And university students can pay for their educations by shilling on national television for a credit card company (Chris and Luke). And a corporation even owns the rights to the popular song "Happy Birthday" (a division of AOL-Time-Warner). Do you ever get the feeling it's all a bit much?

    The fast food companies have had "immense" success by using this method - and the US population has also become immense.  Fast food=obesity=increased health care costs for all of us.

    In the face of this marketing juggernaut, the credit card companies have ingeniously positioned themselves to use "perception management" to their best advantage - they have learned how to make enslaving yourself to debt attractive and easy.  So - it's a double whammy and one that's extremely difficult for the average American to fight against - scientific techniques using fear, nagging, etc. to MAKE you want to by a product, and another company making it easy for you.

    So credit card companies lower their minimum payments, the middle-class Americans run up their debt and it becomes an endless cycle - and so, they will have to take lesser and lesser paying jobs as our economy is shipped overseas.  How many generations are we into now that have grown up with this credit card mentality?

    A class war?? Yes - but it's more than that. I think it's a war that is being lost right now - and it's one that is pushing our country into nothing but a new kind of feudalism.

    Excellent post, by the way.

  •  Their goal: (4.00)
    Your grandchildren should work for their grandchildren for free.

    All that is required for the triumph of evil is that the good do nothing. Bitching and moaning is nothing.

    by Jim P on Thu Oct 13, 2005 at 06:45:12 AM PDT

  •  Afraid you are right. Bush's industrial policy. (none)

    Fighting them here, so we don't have to fight over there.

    by NorCalJim on Thu Oct 13, 2005 at 06:56:00 AM PDT

  •  I've stopped being a consumer (4.00)
    I have made the decision to be a conserver awhile ago. I make my own things whenever possible and grow my own food and just buy the basics.

    Living like our ancestors did and the Amish still do is a peaceful life. And I love denying the corporations my hard earned cash. The crap they sell is well, crap and their advertising is an insult to my intelligence. I don't watch TV either.

    Perhaps us mere citizens can topple the Corporations by NOT BUYING THEIR CRAP.

    WWOFFD? What would our founding fathers do?

    by leftout on Thu Oct 13, 2005 at 06:56:09 AM PDT

  •  It's happening in Michigan (none)
    The Republicans have been working for years to turn us into a low skill, low wage like Mississippi.

    "We must all hang together or assuredly we will all hang seperately." - Ben Franklin

    by RandyMI on Thu Oct 13, 2005 at 06:58:37 AM PDT

  •  I've got a Doctorate (4.00)
    and I'll be leading the fucking revolution.  As stated above, their gated communities will not save them.  My years of education did nothing to diminish my inherent sense of right and wrong.

    We do not have capitalism in this nation.  We have oligarchy creating an entrenced aristocracy via fascism.  Its fucking bullshit.  Its anti-American, and its going to ruin our country.

    Do these fucks understand that the American middle class who they treat with such disdain is in fact the driving economic engine of the world?

    Yes, you GOP fascist fucks, I'm smarter than you, I'm meaner than you, and I will most definitely do whatever the fuck it takes to reclaim this country for the American people.

    I hope the fascists are prepared.  To paraphrase Patton, may God have mercy upon them, for I shall not.

  •  Didn't we fight a war over this mindset already? (none)
    Ah yes, the Civil War.  Although technically the Civil War wasn't fought over slavery as a primary issue, but thats a seperate topic.

    The thirst for owning slaves in one form or another is alive and well in good 'ol America.  The South has risen again.  Come to think of it, the South never died.

  •  Devil's advocate (none)
    We are part of the problem. By making all of us into capitalists via 401k plans and the like we pressure corporations to create higher returns.

    Any company that says it is foregoing immediate profits or attempts to increase its stock price in favor of the long term will find its CEO out on his ear.

    A slightly longer version of this idea:

    Taking Responsibility

    More equitable (and efficient) organization of society requires labor to have an equal voice with capital and government. It also requires people to stop thinking they can get rich from the stock market. The stock market can only grow at a rate equal to the growth of productivity + population growth + inflation over the long term. If were to do otherwise it would be creating wealth out of thin air.

    Musings on Society: policies not politics robertdfeinman.com

    by robertdfeinman on Thu Oct 13, 2005 at 07:31:06 AM PDT

  •  these greedy pigs don't care, but their (none)
    children will.
  •  The bastards (4.00)
    Killing the American dream to line their Armani pockets.  The bastards.

    My great grandparents and grandparents came to this country to escape bastards like this!  They left postage stamp farms full of rocks, religious persecution, war, to come here.  They took land that belonged to Native Americans a generation before, I know that.  But I wouldn't be here at all if they hadn't made that leap, put in the hard labor, built railroads, farms, and businesses and sent their kids and grandkids to two world wars and to college.  

    Are they spinning in their graves now that their countries of origin have universal health care and a poverty rate below that of this new world, where we had it so 'gott i Amerika' as my great grandfather used to say in family dinner toasts?

    I'm ready for some class warfare, how about you?

    "Virginia Woolf's idea of a room of one's own has never been the place for middle- and working-class women. We work with interruptions." - Ananya Chatterjea

    by sarac on Thu Oct 13, 2005 at 07:38:02 AM PDT

  •  Pearlswine (4.00)
    may wax poetic about the benefits of eliminting the middle class in favor of corporate feudalism, a process that's already begun, but he should pay attention to the maxim "be careful what you wish for." Here's what I mean:

    a) Historically depressions and deep recessions create social unrest, and populism (on the left and right) flourishes (think Germany between the wars). Political unrest is not really what most corporations favor: it makes the business of exploitation that much harder. Most CEOs and MBAs prefer having the illusion of at least some class mobility, so that political revolt is kept at bay.

    b) China and India have a burgeoning middle class, and that's precisely WHY they are flourishing.

    c) Oversea investment in America would shrink to basically zero if the scenario he describes came into play. Being a debtor nation is not a good thing.

    d) The war is creating massive strains on our already hemorraghing economy. Having unemployed veterans return from Iraq will assure they will not be supporting the policies of economic attrition Bush is creating. People are wising up, and if the military turns, hold on to your hats.

    e) What new industries can be expected to arise if the US economy goes bust? We are not positioned to create them due to lack of education and investment.

    f) The lack of a US health care system actually COSTS US business money, and lots of it.

    g) America already has less of a social safety net than any so-called first-world nation. Cutting what's left will kickstart the economy? Besides being morally repugnant, it's highly dubious logic at best.

     

  •  At the risk of sounding callous.... (4.00)
    Good. Too many people in this country have wanted it both ways for too long. They ignore all the ways society has helped them achieve some decent standard of living, all the ways they have relied on government and unions and liberal social policy to become middle class, they get there then they start thinking they did it "on their own" and they suddenly become hostile to government, spouting rupublican platitudes and quoting Limbaugh. You get what you vote for. Their grandparents knew better, and maybe it's time they learned too. Big blocks of blue collar voters have fueled republican electoral victories since 1980, and there has been not a little racism behind those votes as well. It's time they realized what this self deception and abandonement of collective security has wrought: their sons killed and maimed in reckless wars, their environment going to shit, and their jobs sent away and no vision at the helm, no idea where the new good jobs will come from, how they can train and adapt for those new jobs; in short, no hope. Enjoy 8.00 an hour suckers, because about .5% of the population is laughing their way to the bank with all the giveaways and estate taxes and capital that was gonna be your kids future.

    nothing but rednecks for 400 years-Chuck D

    by defndr on Thu Oct 13, 2005 at 07:47:07 AM PDT

  •  Let's all race to the bottom ... (none)
    against the Third World.  Considering the widespread poverty of the Third World, it's race that America is bound to lose.

    Greed-driven, class-obsessed Republicans are just too stupid for kind words--almost any words.  They're ASSHOLES.

    Greenspan is "one of the biggest political hacks we have in Washington." -- Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev.

    by slip kid no more on Thu Oct 13, 2005 at 08:02:25 AM PDT

  •  Constitutional Crisis (4.00)
    This is one of several areas where, to my eye, progress has ended or reversed the most fundamental premises of our system.

    To me it seems that our system presumes an economy that to some significant degree is owned by the common people. That's the only rational circumstance in which a government could be "of" the people and at the same time be a hands-off system in which freedom is the default in all things until laws are found necessary.

    If the people don't own the economy, a hands-off government gives a trickle-up or gush-up economy, transferring so much wealth to the top that government can't practically be "of" the people any more.

    This diary--and the information has been public for years now for people who kept an ear out--explains is what I've meant in saying that what's against us is much, much more than one administration.

    The economy itself is now fundamentally against the people--as it must be since the people are now an expense and not owners--which means essentially that the United States is against the people. If anyone thinks this is extreme, tally up the businesses, economic sectors and all types of institutions of the nation that lobby for the common people or the Democratic party.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy....--ML King, "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Thu Oct 13, 2005 at 08:02:32 AM PDT

  •  Anyone with money in the stock market (none)
    is participating in this process directly.

    Get your money out.

  •  Avian flu might be final straw (none)
    Limited drugs going to rich. The rich treated in hospitals while poor and others are quarentined in the cities. Food riots... et al

    SOCIAL SECURITY: Invented by Democrats yesterday, Protected by Democrats today

    by mollyd on Thu Oct 13, 2005 at 08:22:59 AM PDT

  •  Only income of workers counts (4.00)

    The income of the workers is too high, but the income of maqnagers doesn't count.

    If somebody running a drill press fouled up as badly as the managers of Delphi had done, he would be immediately canned. Bets that the CEO of Delphi keeps drawing his high salary through this period of bankruptcy.

  •  Isn't this Marxist? (none)
    I have always understood the corporate classes need to drive down wages.

    But I always thought I got that from reading Marx, and thought I could not point to that fact in argument without being labeled communist or something (now, of course I know that pointing to marxist economic principles isn't communist, but you know what I mean).  

    Are these legitimate points for discussion now?  

    Talk doesn't cook rice.

    by sophiebrown on Thu Oct 13, 2005 at 08:51:40 AM PDT

  •  My family and I... (4.00)
    ...are taking the $ we would have otherwise spent on Christmas gifts this year and giving it to Katrina victims.  I think it's gonna feel good not pumping it into the consumer economy for once.  Other people need it more than Crate & Barrel.

    "The American people will trust the Democratic Party to defend America when they believe that Democrats will defend other Democrats." Wesley Clark

    by The Termite on Thu Oct 13, 2005 at 08:53:16 AM PDT

  •  Financial Times said as much (none)
    in one of their editorials, pay only but commented on here at Crooked Timber - contented peasants are a problem! How can we get them to serf away for peanuts if they're not desperate and miserable with no options or QOL otherwise?

    Those of us who have been Kassandra-ing on in this regard just nod sadly at such admissions, like the ones about how they want a militarized police state and are hopeful of more emergencies justifying the changed Constitution to do so...

    "Don't be a janitor on the Death Star!" - Grey Lady Bast (change @ for AT to email)

    by bellatrys on Thu Oct 13, 2005 at 08:57:33 AM PDT

  •  Corporate Serfdom (none)
     I have been thinking this is the goal for a long time.  What the fat cats fail to realize is that when things get bad enought the serfs revolt with bloody consequences - even China. (Take a look at the history of China's dynastic cycles sometime.)  Look at the 19th century rioting in Wales that spawned the Labor movement when it became just how clear it was that mine owners were treating the workers like beasts of burden.
      The US economy was strongest in the 50's when the top tax rate was 90%.  The rich still had more than they needed for a lavish life style.  And most citizens had the money to circulate and fuel consumer demand. Americans have come to expect that they should be able to better their living conditions across the spectrum of society, not just the top 10%.  Frustrate those ingrained expectations and the result will eventually erupt in conflict.
      What really sickens me is the complete betrayal of the very values the Republicans like to spout off about.  If the family in the US is under pressure maybe we should look to the demands that corporations make to put their interests above all else - including the health of your children.  Miss work because of a sick child a few times and you are a problem employee.  
       Oh, I could go on and on.  But so many people seem unable to concede that the system is totally out of control and that the people who are looting the well being of the country are not being held accountable.  
      And by the way, the idea that Europe may have higher unemployment may be totally false when you factor in the way the US records it - not counting those who have given up searching for work because there is none or who are only working part time for miserable wages.

    Theocracy is tyranny

    by Druidica on Thu Oct 13, 2005 at 09:02:44 AM PDT

  •  Economists have known about this since the 1800's (none)
    At the time of Malthus, Jeramy Bentham and John Stuart Mill, they used to call this "the steady state of capitalism": a situation with low profits for capital and a decreasing standard of living. It is interesting that these English writers, especially Mill, were very interested in exploring ways of achieving a relatively prosperous (as opposed to bleak) steady state. Modern mainstream economists seem to be more concerned with convincing the middle class and the working poor to accept their lot in life under the bleak steady state, than with exploring policy alternatives for a better future. Too bad, isn't it?
  •  Buying strikes will make less than no difference (none)
    The whole system has been rigged to be a race to the bottom.
      If you don't want to race to the bottom then you have to change the system. There are no easy fixes.

    "The sun is not yellow, it's chicken." -Dylan

    by gjohnsit on Thu Oct 13, 2005 at 09:12:56 AM PDT

  •  On board with the strike (none)
    This is not a little boycott.  Christmas is OUT this year.  Buy nothing besides groceries, fuel nothing but the house and car to get to work, use transit if you can.  Save.  No credit cards, no restaurants, no dvds, no ipods, no home loans, no movies.  You will feel better in March.

    The enemy is not called capitalism, it's globalization: the need for companies to find cheaper labor by going overseas, and doing everything they can to make it cheaper here.

    Want the country back?  Be in with this consumer strike.  I already am.

    Also, be ready to lose your job.  Be ready to lose the house.  Revolution takes sacrifice.  We have less distance to fall than the scumbags getting the big fat dividends.  They will HATE seeing their stock values plummet.

    And remember the ABC of business - Always Blame Chairmen.

  •  Shoddy thinking (3.00)
    I want to jump all over the shoddy thinking I am reading in this diary. Not the shoddy thinking of Mr. Pearlstine -- the shoddy thinking of the reactions to his comments.

    In the first place, we do not have the actual transcript of his comments, we have a partisan interpretation of those comments. I am not saying that this interpretation is incorrect -- I am saying that we simply don't have his precise words so we don't have a basis for detailed analysis of his comments. We could use this report to make a few vague generalizations, but the detailed trashing going on here just isn't justified by the source information.

    Second, I find the whole conspiracy theory aspect of this discussion childish. Yes, there are plenty of evil, stupid people in this world -- Mr. Bush leaps to mind -- but to pin all the blame on a cabal of evil stupid people is wrong. I must confess, the current Republican government certainly provides the best evidence against my anti-conspiratorial claims, but we're not talking about Republicans, we're talking about businessmen.

    I certainly do not defend businessmen as virtuous -- I agree that they are grossly overpaid and deficient in moral fiber. Indeed, there was a wonderful article I read some months back about a criminologists who had developed a test for psychopathy, and when the test was given to business executives, they scored very high for psychopathy -- at a level just below that of the common criminal. Recall Ambrose Bierce's definition of a criminal as a businessman with insufficient capital.

    What this discussion overlooks is the power of the capitalist system to put a brake on the abuse of large numbers of people. For example, several people have pointed out that American workers are also consumers, and that to lower their standard of living will hurt the economy. I can assure you that economists and businessmen as a group are acutely aware of the fact that American consumers are driving the American economy, and much of the world economy right now. Indeed, the major concern here is that American consumers are spending too much and saving too little, putting a number of foreign economies in an unhealthy position of being TOO dependent on exports to America, while putting the American economy in the unhealthy position of being TOO dependent on foreign capital.

    The problem here is not intrinsic to the capitalist system, it arises from the abuse of the capitalist system by the American government. Under Republican control, the American government has twisted the capitalist system to favor the wealthy and to hurt the middle class. For example, corporations that abuse their pension plans are violating their contracts with their workers. In an honest capitalist system, the workers would haul the executives into court and sue them for every penny they own to get their pension contracts honored. But the government has made that impossible.

    Another very nasty example is the new bankruptcy law just coming into effect. When Americans realize just how slanted this law is against consumers, they will be furious. But again, this is not a failure of capitalism -- bankruptcy is a functional component of capitalism. The failure is in the laws that regulate capitalism. A particularly infuriating aspect of this new bankruptcy law is the comparison between this consumer bankruptcy law and American business bankruptcy law. America has the most generous business bankruptcy laws in the world, and that is considered to be an important factor in the success of the American economy. Business bankruptcy laws are very pragmatic, aiming to get the business or the businessman back in operation as soon as possible. But American consumer bankruptcy law is much more onerous than in other countries. The law is more punitive and makes no effort to help the consumer get back on his feet.

    The result of this is an acquaintance of mine who has $50K of credit card debt and is flooded with phone calls, half of which are nasty calls demanding that she pay her bills, and the other half of which are sales calls offering her new credit cards.

    So let's rise above this childish class warfare thinking and focus on the real cause: the government under Republican control.

  •  I don't understand (none)
    why 'recommend' is a tag for this diary.  Can someone please explain.
  •  Delphi is a good example (none)
    Because Rockin' Steve Miller has essentially stated that is his goal:

    "I do think there is a lesson for America in this," Miller told a news conference at Delphi's headquarters in Troy, Michigan.

    "The world pays knowledge workers far more than it pays manual, industrial workers. And that's what's sweeping over here," Miller said.

    "I do not blame these people (union workers). They are being hurt, their expectations are being dashed," Miller told reporters. "Globalization has swept over them and they are extremely angry and they need to lash out at someone and they lash out at me. I understand it. I forgive them."

    (Cue the chorus of grateful peons, hats in hand, singing the praises of Steve for his magnanimous gesture of forgiveness).

    But of course he is lying.  The need to force US workers down to the level of third world labor is a myth put out by incompetent greedheads.  What's really going on is that Miller is using this argument as a PR tactic to hide Delphi management's history of fraud and failure.

  •  Look at IT integration (none)
    One of the IT jobs that seem to be growing w/ no end in site is integration.  
    The business types go out & buy a packaged HR system that needs to work with their custom work order processing system that also needs to work on their operating platforms & talk to some critical obscure application coded by an oursource company no longer in business (that noone knows how to fix or update as there is no documentation, or they only own the compiled code), so it has to run exactly like developed on the old operating system ...  The challenges are never ending.  
    You get good at these skills and are competent at communicating - you can write your own ticket.
  •  Class war on average Americans for generations (4.00)
    I commend Pellice for this post, reminding us, once again, that the "real government", the so-called permanent, unelected government, which is class rule, the rich, the bourgeoisie, or whatever you want to call it, is not out to defend or advance our interests, and that it is actually constantly at work to oppose whatever gains we may have won or aspire to.

    The ruling circles have been self-consciously waging class war on the average working stiff in America and worldwide for many generations, but only recently has this generation begun to realize what's going on. Maybe because the signs of advanced decay can't be hidden any more. These signs and symptoms have been well camouflaged and denied by the corporate media, who have done and continue to do their job of propping up the ideological structure by keeping the masses confused and only largely misinformed on the geat issues of the day. The American political control system is a subtle system; it has worked so well and for so long because it is not obvious as in the old "totalitarian models" and therefore invisible to most untrained eyes, deriving much of its persuasive power from carefully exploited propaganda and common prejudices.

    In today's America, the oligarchy's main political tool is the GOP, although the Dems are not too far behind, as they remain hopelessly enmeshed in longstanding opportunistic "triangulation" strategies which are nothing but a fancy screen for the old social democratic program of total collaboration with capitalism. (Compare Clinton with that British poodle Tony Blair, and now Germany's Merkel.  They're all cut from the same cloth.)  My question is how is it that such bankrupt parties, and especially the GOP, whose social base is technically very small, and whose policies are almost uniformly economic and environmental poison, continue to prosper in this nation?

    A thought-provoking piece on this topic by media critic Patrice Greanville  can be read in Cyrano's Journal, it's titled   IT'S HIGH TIME THE GOP WAS CONFINED TO THE DUSTBIN OF HISTORY  Here's the intro to that article for those interested: "SHOW ME A GOP supporter AND I'LL SHOW YOU A COLD-HEARTED CYNIC OR A DELUDED CITIZEN. For many years I have argued that the GOP is a party representing the worst values in American society, the vilest impulses in a human being, and that it exists, indeed it thrives in this country, solely because of the dilapidated state of political knowledge possessed by so many of our fellow citizens. This is a party that, far from thriving and winning elections, should be a footnote in the political debate in the US, or simply extinct. I say this with full understanding that its "alternative"--the Democrats--are no prize either. But, at least the Democrats pretend to have a more decent agenda, some of which they are compelled to honor on occasion (albeit without too much enthusiasm), just to remain in business. And, in all fairness, most of the Dems' rank and file are genuinely decent, well-meaning folk if badly crippled by an utterly dishonest leadership. (The party's base also suffers from a generalized malady some political taxonomists have now accurately diagnosed as "electoral superstition," stemming from a rather incurable extremism of the center, but that's another story.) The point is, fellow citizens of this new Rome, I didn't come here to damn the Democrats with faint praise, but to talk about the uncanny ability of the GOP to survive and prosper against all rational odds, today's GOP, not the GOP of Lincoln days. How does it get away with it?

    Perhaps one of the things that is most illuminating about the GOP and its triumphs, which speaks volumes about the overall balance of social propaganda in the US, a gross inbalance, actually, and one jealously guarded by the ruling circles, is that even with frequent front-page exposes in leading newspapers, the American public still can't make up its mind to get rid of this certifiable pestilence..."

    And don't forget the defenceless animals.

    by pije on Thu Oct 13, 2005 at 10:33:41 AM PDT

  •  reagan (none)
    this already happened when reagan was president and you know what, we took it.  well, reagan mostly attacked blue-collar workers by busting unions and forcing pay downward.  if you need a synopsis i'd read the opening chapters of lockdown america by christian parenti.  this has been big businesses MO since labor started flexing its muscle in the 60s and 70s.  the big corporations will not tolerate a balance of power between business and capital and will force their vision of america down our throats.  and i can't really tell you a solution to this issue.  although discrediting conservatism is a start.
  •  IWW (none)
    The Wobblies were right.

    Visualize impeachment
    (-7.38, -6.51) at politicalcompass.org

    by BurnetO on Thu Oct 13, 2005 at 10:58:16 AM PDT

  •  I was expecting a totally different diary (none)
    One that argued from an environmentalist perspective, that American (Western) living standards need to be reduced to a sustainable level.  And I actually agree with that notion, though I recognise it is a dead duck politically and thus should not be part of a Democratic platform.

    But if I were to be able to wave the magic wand and make this change, it would apply to everyone, including CEOs, stockholders, etc., not just the bottom tier workers.  So in that respect I'm not in agreement with Pearlstine at all.

    -Alan

  •  This is what Warren Buffett has been warning about (none)
    Thanks for the heads-up on the online chat! That's quite disturbing.

    I'd like to see some creative "buying strikes" that would send a message to the economy.  Actually, what I'd like to see is that people deliberately (along with the many who are unable) underspend their Christmas budgets and send a message that the US citizens are what keeps the economy afloat.

    I don't think this works. It's rarely successful and doesn't seem to have an effect when it is. We all lose in this scenario and the business class knows that they have a lot more bargaining chips to play with. IMHO, I think it's going to take political change and I don't think it's necessary to starve our economy to do it.

    It's not that I don't believe in corporate boycotts, however. It's just that boycotts like this one seem to have little effect because they target everyone. The only incentive it gives to business leaders is to pack up and move their operations elsewhere. If they're forced with political change, however, they still have the incentive of retaining lucrative American markets that would be lessened with a successful boycott.

    Besides, I don't see the business culture of this nation changing unless it's done politically anyway; unless disaster forces it to change and I don't think any of us want that.

    Democrats -- Progress for the Working Class

    by rogun on Thu Oct 13, 2005 at 11:29:41 AM PDT

  •  This is a world-wide phenomenon right now (none)
    Look at what is happening in Germany.

    You have Merkel, the rabid right-winger corporatist and Schroeder, the "liberal" (as in the DLC-influenced American Democratic Party of today) corporatist, both advocating for "reforms" to their economies that will "invigorate" their economies in the name of global competitiveness, while fucking over the German middle-class.

    The same things are afoot in France and in other countries of the EU.  

    And this is also what the EU constitution (that was defeated) was about.  It was an attempt to set up a political structure that would benefit "neo-liberal" policies of EU corporations at the expense of Eurpopean workers.  However, the French and Dutch are more savvy than the typical American, and they voted it down, refusing to be persuaded to vote for something against their own intersts.

    I believe that all the G-7 leaders are on the same page, as they are all in the pockets of multi-national corporations.  Their common agenda is to decrease the standards of livings of their populations in favor of helping corporations, and their wealthy owners, get even richer.

    The idea is to lower the standards of living of the "developed" countries and bring them down to the level of the "developing" countries.

    Make no mistake:  This is a world-wide phenomenon right now.  It is just that the agenda has progressed, and is progressing, the furthest in the United States.  

    But the countries of the EU are next.

    The enemy is trans-national capitalism.  And until the populations of the developed countries wake up to what is going on such that they are no longer distracted by racist, nationalist, and moralistic non-issues, things are only going to get worse for the average citizen of these countries.

  •  No "buying strikes" will be necessary (none)
    just give the bankruptcy law and the offshoring time to work their 'magic' on the American middle class.

    the cheap labor in third world countries cannot afford to buy the things they make. I wonder what Henry Ford would say.

  •  Just wait (none)
    At some point, the people in India and China will realize that they no longer need the disembodied voice coming over the speakerphone, and they'll start 'outsourcing' corporate executives and stockholders by starting their own companies that directly compete with whomever they were recieving outsourced work from.  The US thinks they'll prevent this by intellectual copyright laws, which, historically, haven't even been worth the paper they're printed on.  The US's primary export would still be cotton if US companies obeyed copyright laws in the 1800s, and there is no reason so expect India and/or China to do so when they gather enough capital to start their own companies.

    When this starts happening and the question becomes can the US economy afford American high priced pampered executives, you know they will all of a sudden be whining and moaning how things 'aren't fair'.  

    You hear the same bullshit from the pharmaceutical companies.  Outsourcing, global marketplace, etc etc, rah rah rah, but once the question turns to importing pharmaceuticals from outside the US, all of a sudden everything becomes 'ooh you can't trust the quality of foreign labor' or 'we need to preserve our pharmaceutical production capability in case there is an emergency'.  

    Greedy bastards.

  •  And who is going to buy their goods? (none)
    Mark pointed out more than 150 years ago that capitalists cannot possibly pay workers what they are worth (that is the value they add to the product, which includes an adequate standard of living) if they want to make a profit.  Several factors, mostly imperialism, have kept the full blossoming of the inevitable pauperization of the working class. (That is, first world capitalist could pay better wages to their American workers because of super-exploitation of third world countries). (Unionization and progressive legeslation also played a part.) But with globalization that doesn't work so well for the capitalists.  They (capitalists)are just doing what they are forced to do survive.  This is of course a very simplified formulation of what Marx took thousands of pages to explain.  If you're interested in a shorter explanation than Marx's Capital, try Wages, Price and Proft.  It's basically a long essay, aimed at being an introduction to Marxist economics and is available in several anthologies.

    You fell victim to one of the classic blunders, the most famous of which is "Never get involved in a land war in Asia".

    by yellowdog on Thu Oct 13, 2005 at 12:29:02 PM PDT

  •  The goal is (none)
    Corporate Feudalism.  Guess who the serfs are?
  •  Back in 2000, just before the Bush election. (none)
    My girlfriend got some pamphlet with the reports hat came with some stock her monther left her ( a few shares of something)

    But I read the thing and it was a meeting of the 30 top CEOs in the US discussing that they needed to elect a president who woulr basically make Americas labor force ressemble the third world labor forces, lower wages, longer hours, no benefits and so on, in order for businesses to MAXIMIZE profits for the shahreholders.

    While the BS that HALF of all Americans have money in the STOCK MARKET, and they own HALF of all STOCKS, that is only true because their PENSION plans are invested in the market.
    They will not benefit from it until they retire.
    Plus eliminating their benefits will eliminated that. Lowering their wages will LOWER that.

    THe other half of all that wealth is in the hands of 20,000 very RICH families who live quite nicely on those investments NOW.

    A lot of that stock is owned by the CEOs making this recommendation.

  •  Channel that outrage (none)
    You are all outraged, and rightfuly so.  So am I.  I am a very good follower awaiting a LEADER.  Where is he/she?
  •  Pellice (none)
    Great diary. You appear to have had them with your diagnosis, only to lose them with the cure. Sabotage Santa Claus®? I don't think so.

    Consumer power? Raising awareness about the responsibility of supporting corporations that are destructive to society? Absolutely.

    It's unfortunate to me that the main thrust of your post, in my opinion, that capitalism may be good for fostering innovation and growth motivation on one level, yet offers no remedy for its excesses and imbalances on another, is overshadoed by the Christmas argument.

    I keep going back to the Nash Equilibrium that: it is essential to have all the players work for their own economic self interists, but it is also essential that they work for the interest of the larger team.

  •  Another Overlooked Issue (none)
    Excellent diary, but the other important issue that everybody is failing to understand is that the middle class are not simply a drag on corporate profits (which represent 33% of economic purchases) they are also the great engine of the economy, creating about 60% of the buying power.  If you take away their buying power, our economy will go into a depression unlike any ever seen before.  Stop these idiots before they hurt us and hurt themselves.
  •  That is not the goal (none)
    The goal is to make as much money as possible.  This requires cheap labor, so a reduced standard of living is a side effect, not the goal.

    It also hurts them in another way-if the standard of living truely is reduced, the amount of profit is reduced as well.

    Also, there are a few obvious flaws in the logic here.  The companies that are really killing Ford and GM are Honda and Toyota.  Honda and Toyota now make the majority (80%ish for Honda and 65%ish for Toyota) of thier cars they sell in North America, in North America-and in America, thier pay rates are comparable to unionized GM or Ford workers (and one Toyota factory is actually represented by the UAW(technically a joint venture with GM, but 85% of their current production has a Toyota nameplate on it)).  Now, they use a fair amount of foreign parts-but even those (and the cars they import) are mostly-Japanese made as opposed to Chinese or Mexican made-and Japanese wages are roughly comparable to American ones.  That is, thier current labor costs are not that much lower than GM and Ford-yet they are printing money (espeically Toyota, who can now buy 100% of GM's stock with less than a year and a half's worth of profits if they so desired).  Also, thier non-wage costs are higher because they import vehicles.  There's the cost of shipping them across the ocean, plus the US charges a 2.5% tariff on every imported car (and a 25% on imported trucks (but not vans or SUVs), although no company ships trucks to the US from outside North America because of this).

    Now, pension and retiree health care costs are lower in Japan than here (well-health care at least-Japanese pensions may very be equal to America's, dunno for sure).  But that is because the United States government made the decision to not fund health care costs-which makes our workers less competative to those in countries that do.  I'm still surprised that Ford and GM aren't screaming for socialized medicine.  Also, there are some UAW policies (like the "job bank", where workers who have been idled due to lack of work are paid close to thier full salary for doing nothing) that probably should be eliminated.

    The point is, the attack on the unions is (mostly) an unfair one-GM and Ford are in trouble because they make shitty cars.  Period.  They also are bad at anticipating trends-they totally missed the hybrid boat, and thier product lines contain WAY too many large SUVs.  Also, they suck at simple business-GM had to pay Fiat $2 billion dollars to NOT buy it.  This is all management's fault, not the unions.

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