Speaking of elections and Governors…

Speaking of elections and Governors…

I rarely talk about local politics (because all politics is local), but where I live, in Maryland, parents are waking up this morning to discover that their Spring Break is about to be shortened by a day.

Why?

Because Maryland’s Governor Larry Hogan is a Republican, which means he hates public education and the teachers’ union. In a fit of capriciousness and misplaced magnanimity toward parents who

It started here, with proposed budget cuts which disproportionately affect Prince George’s, Montgomery, and Baltimore Counties more than the rest of the state, but the damaging effects across the board will really hit when parents realize they’ll be required to shorten their plans for Spring Break due to weather.

According to Hogan, in a WTOP article posted on August 31, 2016:

The order “will help protect the traditional end of summer, not only for families on vacation this week, but also for the teachers and the students working here in Ocean City and all across the state for the summer.”

Maybe, but how many parents are going to lose the money that they’d otherwise have when they have to adjust their Spring Break plans because of winter weather?

And then there’s this claim, from the same article:

For their part, defenders of the shorter school year point out that Maryland’s Bureau of Revenue Estimates say the move could generate up to $74.3 million in direct economic activity for the state.

How do we test this? We wait until the end of the summer and see how things are doing in Maryland, of course. That means remembering the annoyance of calling to shorten or cancel travel plans, working around camp schedules (when parents can afford them), or dealing with an uptick in kids who stay at home while their parents work, because THOSE schedules haven’t changed.

Hogan has already declared his disinterest, if not open hostility, in working with Maryland teachers. I want to see how well our residents remember this when we go to the ballot box on November 6th.

Hogan should never have gotten a space in Government House and we need to show him the door come November. Our kids depend on it.

Aftermath (Part 5): Patriarchal Theocracy

Aftermath (Part 5): Patriarchal Theocracy

patriarchal

  [pey-tree-ahr-kuh l]
adjective[1]. of or relating to a patriarch, the male head of a family, tribe, community, church, order, etc.: my father’s conservative, patriarchal ways.2. characteristic of an entity, family, church, etc., controlled by men: the highly patriarchal Mormon church.

theocracy

 [thee-ok-ruh-see]

noun, plural theocracies.

1. a form of government in which God or a deity is recognized as the supreme civil ruler, the God’s or deity’s laws being interpreted by the ecclesiastical authorities.
2. a system of government by priests claiming a divine commission.
3. a commonwealth or state under such a form or system of government.
(http://www.dictionary.com/)

Continue reading “Aftermath (Part 5): Patriarchal Theocracy”

Connecting the Dots, Part 2

Connecting the Dots, Part 2

United States of ALEC from BillMoyers.com on Vimeo.

On October 11, 2012, I wrote the following post: Do you know ALEC? If not, you should. And you should be afraid. Continue reading “Connecting the Dots, Part 2”

Just when you thought you understood, someone explained it better…

Just when you thought you understood, someone explained it better…

Cassandra isn’t my name. It never has been, but there are times when I can’t imagine a better, more proper identification for how I view the world.

Take this shining example of hindsight, brought to you by EPI, by way of The Atlantic.

A Giant Statistical Round-Up of the Income Inequality Crisis in 16 Charts

But who is EPI?

From their website (www.epi.org):

The Economic Policy Institute’s mission is to inform and empower individuals to seek solutions that ensure broadly shared prosperity and opportunity.

About EPI. The Economic Policy Institute (EPI), a non-profit, non-partisan think tank, was created in 1986 to broaden discussions about economic policy to include the needs of low- and middle-income workers. EPI believes every working person deserves a good job with fair pay, affordable health care, and retirement security.  To achieve this goal, EPI conducts research and analysis on the economic status of working America.  EPI proposes public policies that protect and improve the economic conditions of low- and middle-income workers and assesses policies with respect to how they affect those workers.

Interesting, huh?

I’ve known this was going to happen since my senior year of high school (1980-81), though I never had the facts or figures to back it up. The phrase “Trickle Down Economics” and its bastard brother “Supply Side” have been with us since Reagan took over as President. I have no love for the GOP, and certainly none for St. Ronnie, since he took away my access to my deceased mother’s SS Survivor benefits when I was in my second year of college. (I would have voted for John Anderson if I could have, when he ran as an Independent against both Reagan and Carter, the latter of whom I supported in his first run.)

Even then, those responsible recognized cognitive dissonance when they heard it. The Atlantic noticed way back in 1981, with this article: The Education of David Stockman

“The whole thing is premised on faith,” Stockman explained. “On a belief about how the world works.” As he prepared the script in his mind, his natural optimism led to bullish forecasts, which were even more robust than the Reagan Administration’s public promises. “The inflation premium melts away like the morning mist,” Stockman predicted. “It could be cut in half in a very short period of time if the policy is credible. That sets off adjustments and changes in perception that cascade through the economy. You have a bull market in ’81, after April, of historic proportions.”

Reality and the myopic view of the then (and now) GOP leadership have proved very, very different. Robert Reich understands this all too well.

UNDERSTANDING THE FISCAL CLIFF (in 2m 30s):

The sad, sad truth, though, is that whether Sequestration happens or not, we still have a ridiculously long way to go. We seem to have learned nothing in all the time since Dickens first observed so wryly (by way of Ebeneezer Scrooge in A Christmas Carol, a perennial family favorite) just how little most of the rich care for those beneath them.

Scrooge can’t fathom why the poor deserve a break, declaring December the 25th “a poor excuse for picking a man’s pocket.” His grudging day off for his underpaid clerk is the only tip of his hat to sacrifices for other human beings who have less, until his partner smacks him upside the head with reality.

Dickens’ classic does not mention going to hell. There is no discussion of a vengeful god or of a fire-filled eternity. Hell looks very different in Scrooge’s world. His partner, Jacob Marley, knows too well the consequences of a life void of human compassion.

For all the GOP’s constant bluster of morality, public industry, private corporations like Hostess and even the politicians in Michigan and other Right to Work states fail to care about the impact their personal economy has on the US and our majority of poor and middle class. They should be forced to spend some time in the shoes of their employees. Unfortunately, A Christmas Carol is a work of fiction and there will be no Ghosts of Christmases Past, Present or Future to break the chains they forge in life.

It’s up to us. I hope we’re up to the task.

Hostile Hostess…

Hostile Hostess…

Egon and the Twinkie from GhostbustersDr. Egon Spengler: [about the storage facility] Wow, its getting crowded in there and these readings point to something big on the horizon.
Winston Zeddemore: What do you mean big?
Dr. Egon Spengler: Well,
[shows a twinkie]
Dr. Egon Spengler: let’s say this twinkie represents all of the psycho kenetic energy in the New York area. According to this morning’s sample it will be a twinkie, 35 feet long and weighing approximately 600 pounds.
[Ray coughs, in disbelief]
Winston Zeddemore: That’s a big twinkie.

–Ghostbusters, 1964

On Wednesday, November, 14, news broke that Hostess Brands was threatening striking workers with bankruptcy liquidation if they didn’t return to work by 5pm November 16th. Management made good on their threat, prompting layoffs for 18,500 workers (far more than belonged to the The Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union, which went on strike Nov. 9), but not without repercussions. And not without feathering their own nests first.

Daily Kos reports that Hostess Brands lied when the company blamed striking union workers for the bankruptcy. That lie is bad enough, but it’s come to light that Hostess’ CEO and top officers took an enormous raise just before shuttering on the 16th.

It’s unlikely that this is the end for some of Hostess’ top products, however. The Washington Post is among news sources that report BloombergHostes20121117″ target=”_blank” rel=”noopener”>Hostess may attract bids from other companies for its most popular brands. The article includes a timeline for the American fixture’s death-spiral demise.

The money quote from the article:

The crisis facing Hostess Brands is the result of nearly a decade of financial and operational mismanagement that resulted in two bankruptcies, mountains of debt, declining sales and lost market share,” the union said Nov. 15 in a statement. Hostess “attempted to resolve the mess by attacking the company’s most valuable asset — its workers.

Demonizing unions isn’t new, but the contrast between Hostess’ accusations and the pre-bankruptcy raises for its top employees should serve as a reminder of how corporate greed and commercial gain often outstrip good business practices. Hostess could have taken the opportunity to change their business model and find a new niche in the growing market for healthier snacks. They opted instead to stick to the original formula, driving sales down. They went out of business in a spectacularly self-serving grab for last-minute dollars at the expense of their employees.

Privately held  companies can do whatever they want, but consumers owe it to themselves to pay attention to these lessons.

My heart goes out to those who will find themselves on the unemployment line just before Thanksgiving. Here’s hoping they can find something to be thankful for this year.

Time to pay the piper?

Time to pay the piper?

In my post Connecting the dots…, I drew a parallel between Bain Capital’s transfer of Sensata’s factory and jobs to China, and asked some serious questions about how Delphi relates to the Romneys’ taxes.

It appears this whole thing is about to blow up in Mitt Romney’s face, as the International Union, United Automobile, Aerospace and Agricultural Implement Workers of America (UAW) announced on Halloween, two days ago, with only four days left to Election Day.

From the UAW web article, Unions, good government groups file ethics complaint against Romney for failing to disclose big auto rescue profit:

“The American people have a right to know about Governor Romney’s potential conflicts of interest, such as the profits his family made from the auto rescue,” said UAW President Bob King. “It’s time for Governor Romney to disclose or divest.

It’s clear that the Romneys are doing their level best to avoid being nailed for conflict of interest, but aside from that, their direct intervention in Delphi has cost thousands of people their jobs and homes. From the same article:

“When I first hired in everything was going well,” said Heath Lindsay, a former Delphi worker from Dayton. “I bought a home, got married, and had a child. When the bankruptcy happened, my pay was cut in half and we lost our home to foreclosure.  My pension was terminated in 2007 and was turned over to the PGBC [Pension Benefit Guarantee Corporation]. I am eligible for a 401(k), but I can’t afford to contribute to it. When my wages were good, we could get by but I am the sole provider for my wife and kids and life is a lot harder now,” Lindsay added.

Since Super Storm Sandy hit New Jersey and New York, Romney has done his level best to hide his actions deep inside a sham-filled show of support for the storm’s victims, but even this disgusting display of pretend concern has given us a better picture of what President Romney might be like under pressure.

Even more important, Congressional Republicans have done their part to hide the effects of tax cuts on our economy, the biggest possible scam they’ve ever pulled off since taking control of the House and Senate two years ago. They don’t want you to know just how little tax cuts do for our economy because, in the long run, the only people they care about protecting are those who stand to lose big bucks if the tax rates return to pre-Reagan era levels.

We have four days left to the general election. I’ve already voted in Maryland. At last count, I’m one of 43,000 people who have made it to the polls. Today is the last day to take advantage of early voting here, and the polls will stay open until 8pm tonight. Do what you can to vote out the Grand Old Party and help restore America. We can’t undo the Patriot Act, repair our damaged education system, or fix our economy unless we get rid of ALL the obstructionists and keep the White House clear of the Tea Party agenda.

Do your part to help!

 

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