Sunday, September 05, 2004
Welcome to article43.com - a memorial to the layed off workers of (PRE SBC MERGER) AT&T, and the disappearing MIDDLE CLASS citizens of America. It is NOT endorsed or affiliated with AT&T or the CWA in any way.
This sticky post was written the day we appeared on the internet in 2004.
In addition to INFORMATION, resources and opinion for former AT&T workers DEALING WITH the EFFECTS OF LAYOFF and looking for meaningful employment, some articles here are meant to bring into awareness the LARGER PICTURE of corporate dominance of the UNITED STATES’ political and economic policies which brazenly DISREGARDS, disrespects and EXPLOITS worker, citizen and HUMAN RIGHTS under masks like FREE TRADE and the PATRIOT ACT - resulting in a return to a society of very rich and very poor dominated by a few very rich and powerful - whose voices are anything but - for the people. If left UNCHALLENGED, the self-serving interests of those in control may result in the end of DEMOCRACY, the end of the middle class, irreversible ENVIRONMENTAL damage to the planet, and widespread global poverty brought on by exploitation and supression of the voices of common people EVERYWHERE, while the United States turns into a REINCARNATION of the ROMAN EMPIRE. Author Thom Hartmann shares some history and outlines some basic steps to return our country to “The People” in his two articles TEN STEPS TO RETURN TO DEMOCRACY and SAVING THE MIDDLE CLASS. I support CERNIG’S idea for a new POLITICAL MOVEMENT - if not a revolution to cleanse our country of the filth ruling it - as we EVOLVE into a GLOBAL community - assuming we learn the THE LESSONS OF OUR TIME and don’t DESTROY CIVILIZATION first.
Everything here can be viewed anonymously. Inserting or commenting on articles requires a free user account (for former AT&T employees with a real, non throw-away, email address.) Requests to the new user registration page are redirected to BLOGGED DOT COM’S site because most new signups I get are from COMMENT SPAMMERS and their ilk, so if you want to contribute, contact me through email, phone, or some other way.
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Resumes of layed off AT&T workers are posted for free HERE.
Links to some Telecom companies’ career pages are HERE.
Click HERE to learn a little about Article 43 and why I loathe the CWA.
Click HERE or HERE to learn what the CWA did when given a chance to do the right thing.
Click HERE for a glimpse of undemocratic and hypocritical CWA practices.
Click HERE for an article on Corporate Unionism.
Click HERE for an article of AFL-CIO’s undemocratic history.
This site can disappear anytime if I run out of money to pay for luxuries like food, health care, or internet service.
Discernment of truth is left to the reader - whose encouraged to seek as much information as possible, from as many different sources as possible - and pass them through his/her own filters - before believing anything.
...the Devil is just one man with a plan, but evil, true evil, is a collaboration of men…
- Fox Mulder, X Files
No matter how big the lie; repeat it often enough and the masses will regard it as the truth.
- John F. Kennedy
Today my country, your country and the Earth face a corporate holocaust against human and Earthly rights. I call their efforts a holocaust because when giant corporations wield human rights backed by constitutions and the law (and therefore enforced by police, the courts, and armed forces) and sanctioned by cultural norms, the rights of people, other species and the Earth are annihilated.
- Richard L. Grossman
Unthinking respect for authority is the greatest enemy of truth.
- Albert Einstein
He who is not angry when there is just cause for anger is immoral. Why? Because anger looks to the good of justice. And if you can live amid injustice without anger, you are immoral as well as unjust.
If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality.
- Bishop Desmond Tutu
Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.
- Martin Luther King Jr
Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.
- Benjamin Franklin
If we do not hang together, we will surely hang separately.
- Benjamin Franklin
We must be prepared to make heroic sacrifices for the cause of peace that we make ungrudgingly for the cause of war.
- Albert Einstein
Solidarity has always been key to political and economic advance by working families, and it is key to mastering the politics of globalization.
- Thomas Palley
The impending credit crisis cant be avoided, but it could be mitigated by taking radical steps to soften the blow. Emergency changes to the federal tax code could put more money in the hands of maxed-out consumers and keep the economy sputtering along while efforts are made to curtail the ruinous trade deficit. We should eliminate the Social Security tax for any couple making under $60, 000 per year and restore the 1953 tax-brackets for Americans highest earners so that the upper 1%-- who have benefited the most from the years of prosperity---will be required to pay 93% of all earnings above the first $1 million income. At the same time, corporate profits should be taxed at a flat 35%, while capital gains should be locked in at 35%. No loopholes. No exceptions.
Congress should initiate a program of incentives for reopening American factories and provide generous sufbsidies to rebuild US manufacturing. The emphasis should be on reestablishing a competitive market for US exports while developing the new technologies which will address the imminent problems of environmental degradation, global warming, peak oil, overpopulation, resource scarcity, disease and food production. Off-shoring of American jobs should be penalized by tariffs levied against the offending industries.
The oil and natural gas industries should be nationalized with the profits earmarked for vocational training, free college tuition, universal health care and improvements to then nations infrastructure.
Tuesday, November 29, 2016
We Have to Face the Major Problem of Acute Financial Stress
By Dr. Galen Buckwalter
November 27, 2016
Editor’s Note: Long before the shocking election of Donald Trump, Galen Buckwalter and his colleagues were doing research and thinking hard about the emotional consequences of inequality, credit card debt and the range of financial stress points in people’s lives. What they found seems so obvious, yet brilliant at the same time. Tens of millions of people have no savings and live paycheck to paycheck. How can we, as a society, pretend they are not physically and psychologically affected by this constant anxiety and vulnerability? This ends up costing our society hundreds of billions in health care and lost productivity and leads to higher addiction and suicide rates as well as increased domestic violence.
This is the first of three articles by Buckwalter to begin to raise public consciousness about the huge impact financial stress has on every aspect of physical and emotional life. Can we doubt that under President Trump, this situation will worsen?
AlterNet Executive Editor, Don Hazen
Constant debt leads to trauma, stress and illness.
The conclusion is clear: We are out of balance in a way that is endangering our health, and our relationship with money plays an outsized role in a nationwide health epidemic. As a research psychologist studying stress and mental, physical and emotional health, I’ve spent the last several years examining how we deal with money in an effort to deepen a scientific understanding of how it impacts our health. In the past, I’ve worked with people in varying states of stress, including Marines and humanitarian workers. Today, I study the presence and effects of what we are calling acute financial stress (AFS), essentially financial PTSD.
Our findings are multifold. We’ve found that financial stress is affecting our cognitive processes. I’s also damaging our bodies, leaving millions of Americans sick in ways were just beginning to understand. We know that stress disproportionately contributes to many causes of mortality nationwide, and stress over money is a significant, though widely ignored, contributor. Part of this puzzle is what we’re calling financial personality.Basically, a majority of us don’t have the natural cognitive and organizational styles of those who excel at the kind of thinking that financial planning requires, leaving many of us exceptionally vulnerable to chronic stress.
In our research we decided to apply what we know about personality in general to how people demonstrate their individuality in their financial values, behaviors and attitudes and found a strong connection between our basic personalities and the ways we approach our finances. For example, much like some of us are more open, conscientious or neurotic in relationships, how we deal with money fits into the same patterns.
We asked study participants to respond to seemingly unrelated statements, including: “I do my taxes at the last minute,” “It’s not worth my time to plan for my financial future because I will never be able to make enough money,” “I have little idea of how much money I really have, “and I do not allow my family to know my real financial picture.”
In the responses we received, we saw a profound problem emerge. Feelings of stress, failure, isolation and paralyzing fear kept surfacing in our analyses with alarming regularity. Examining this fear from every angle, we tried to ascertain what we were looking at and what the implications might be. Was this a temporary neurosis brought about by stress? Was it an existential fear stemming from financial concerns? Was it indicative of money altering our brains on a cognitive level that scientists hadn’t yet focused on?
The Emergence of PTSD in Financial Stress
The answer hit me one day: it’s a version of post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD. The mental health community has officially recognized PTSD since 1980 as a serious mental condition. Stemming from a conversation about the financial pressure felt by someone who had lost everything after a divorce, I was reminded of the checklist of PTSD symptoms, which I spent several years focused on while working with Marines and humanitarian workers in an effort to prepare and protect them from post-traumatic stress disorder with resilience training before deployment.
Our studies led us to surprising findings: 23% of adults and 36% of millennials experience acute financial stress at levels that would qualify them for a diagnosis of PTSD. We knew people were feeling under the gun and often anxious about their futures, but this degree of clinical stress was more severe and pervasive than we imagined.
A traditional diagnosis of PTSD requires meeting a number of criteria. Often reliving the event through nightmares or flashbacks, the disorder brings on avoidance of any situation that reminds a person of the trauma. Additionally, ones beliefs and feelings change, the world feels more threatening and relationships become difficult, leading to depression and isolation. Perhaps most important, PTSD results in hyperarousal, in which itԒs chronically difficult for people to fully calm down, even in sleep. The mind and body are always prepared for trouble, leading to chronic stress that wears down all of the bodys systems, hastening the natural processes of aging the body and mind.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, this constant state of hyperarousal results in a myriad of negative physical and medical outcomes. The connection between PTSD and coronary heart disease is notably strong. Links to increased addiction, likely motivated by the increase in anxiety and depression it causes, is also evident.
Fight the Powerlessness
Financial stress, specifically the stress associated with an inability to consistently pay all of one’s bills, appears to be strongly associated with the presence of an external LOCUS OF CONTROL. What this means is people often have a belief that powerful external events control our life choices, as opposed to a sense of self-control and being in the drivers seat. This feeling of powerlessness present in many people who cannot meet their financial obligations serves as the impetus to drive them to abandon a sense of responsibility. Once responsibility is abandoned, it leads to a profound sense of powerlessness and stress.
Chronic stress like acute financial stress tends to preclude people from being able to make rational changes toward a healthier and more stable, less stressful way of life. With severe stress, comes further debilitating self-destructive ways of thinking including avoidance, denial and isolation. As the ability to manage stress spirals, it inevitably moves toward physical dysfunction and chronic disease.
Unfortunately, our current economic and commercial cultures rely on avoidance and denial. These popular coping mechanisms, in turn, overwhelm the brain and body’s needs for security and activate our stress responses system. Relatively recently, the profit-making equation changed even further by putting credit cards in almost everyones hands, ostensibly for consumer’s convenience. The result, of course, is ever increasing consumer debt. Through the black magic of compounding interest, this industry has created a new source of stress that seems to literally be breaking the back of middle-class America.
Culturally, we often perceive of financial difficulties as personal failure, leading people to remain in silent shame about what theyre going through, only compounding their problems with a sense of total powerlessness. Stress isolates people, which leads to weakened relationships, more isolation, depression and often, avoidance of the source of the problem. Avoidance is the enemy of overcoming, so changing this starts with being able to talk about it. IҒve found that by simply discussing their experiences, people with acute financial stress can find a sense of relief and realize theyre not crazy, that this is a real issue and above all, they are really not alone.
This is the starting point, when we begin to understand how many people around us are traumatized by the money in their lives and how itҒs affecting everything from sleep to interpersonal relationships. A reinvention of our collective relationship with money must become a priority because without it, were only going to incur more debt and suffer the ever-increasing health consequences of this problem.
Coming up in the series: Part II: Financial Stress Is as American as Apple Pie; Part III: How to Rise Above AFS in Challenging Times.
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Tuesday, November 15, 2016
The Next Four Years
The Worst Is Yet to Come
By John W. Whitehead
November 14, 2016
Stay alert, America.
This is not the time to drop our guards, even for a moment.
Nothing has changed since the election to alter the immediate and very real dangers of roadside strip searches, government surveillance, biometric databases, citizens being treated like terrorists, imprisonments for criticizing the government, national ID cards, SWAT team raids, censorship, forcible blood draws and DNA extractions, private prisons, weaponized drones, red light cameras, tasers, active shooter drills, police misconduct and government corruption.
Time alone will tell whether those who put their hopes in a political savior will find that trust rewarded or betrayed.
Personally, Im not holding my breath.
I’ve been down this road before.
Ive studied history.
I know what comes next.
It’s early days yet, but President-elect Trumplike his predecessors - has already begun to dial back many of the campaign promises that pledged to reform a broken system of government.
The candidate who railed against big government and vowed to “drain the swamp” of lobbyists and special interest donors has already given lobbyists, corporate donors and members of the governmental elite starring roles in his new administration.
America, youve been played.
This is what happens when you play politics with matters of life, death and liberty.
You lose every time.
Unfortunately, in this instance, we all lose because of the deluded hypocrisy of the Left and the Right, both of which sanctioned the expansion of the police state as long as it was their party at the helm.
For the past eight years, the Left - stridently outspoken and adversarial while George W. Bush was president -has been unusually quiet about things like torture, endless wars, drone strikes, executive orders, government overreach and fascism.
As Glenn Greenwald points out for The Washington Post:
Beginning in his first month in office and continuing through today, Obama not only continued many of the most extreme executive-power policies he once condemned, but in many cases strengthened and extended them. His administration detained terrorism suspects without due process, proposed new frameworks to keep them locked up without trial, targeted thousands of individuals (including a U.S. citizen) for execution by drone, invoked secrecy doctrines to shield torture and eavesdropping programs from judicial review, and covertly expanded the nationגs mass electronic surveillance
Liberals vehemently denounced these abuses during the Bush presidency. But after Obama took office, many liberals often tolerated and even praised his aggressive assertions of executive authority. It is hard to overstate how complete the Democrats about-face on these questions was once their own leader controlled the levers of power. After just three years of the Obama presidency, liberals sanctioned a system that allowed the president to imprison people without any trial or an ounce of due process.
Suddenly, with Trump in the White House for the next four years, its all fair game again.
As The Federalist declares with a tongue-in-cheek approach, ғDissent, executive restraint, gridlock, you name it. Now that Donald Trump will be president, stuff that used to be treason is suddenly cool again.
Yet as Greenwald makes clear, if Trump is about to inherit vast presidential powers, he has the Democrats to thank for them.
A military empire that polices the globe. Secret courts, secret wars and secret budgets. Unconstitutional mass surveillance. Unchecked presidential power. Indefinite detention. Executive signing statements.
These are just a small sampling of the abusive powers that have been used liberally by Obama and will be used again and again by future presidents.
After all, presidents are just puppets on a string, made to dance to the tune of the powers-that-be. And the powers-that-be want war. They want totalitarianism. They want a monied oligarchy to run the show. They want bureaucracy and sprawl and government leaders that march in lockstep with their dictates. Most of all, they want a gullible, distracted, easily led populace that can be manipulated, maneuvered and made to fear whatever phantom menace the government chooses to make the bogeyman of the month.
Unless Trump does another about-face, rest assured that the policies of a Trump Administration will be no different from an Obama Administration or a Bush Administration, at least not where it really counts.
For that matter, a Clinton Administration would have been no different.
In other words, Democrats by any other name would be Republicans, and vice versa.
This is the terrible power of the shadow government: to maintain the status quo, no matter which candidate gets elected.
War will continue. Surveillance will continue. Drone killings will continue. Police shootings will continue. Highway robbery meted out by government officials will continue. Corrupt government will continue. Profit-driven prisons will continue. Censorship and persecution of anyone who criticizes the government will continue. The militarization of the police will continue. The governmentԒs efforts to label dissidents as extremists and terrorists will continue.
In such a climate, the police state will thrive.
The more things change, the more they will stay the same.
Weve been stuck in this political Groundhog’s Day for so long that minor deviations appear to be major developments while obscuring the fact that were stuck on repeat, unable to see the forest for the trees.
This is what is referred to as creeping normality, or a death by a thousand cuts.
It’s a concept invoked by Pulitzer Prize-winning scientist Jared Diamond to describe how major changes, if implemented slowly in small stages over time, can be accepted as normal without the shock and resistance that might greet a sudden upheaval.
Diamonds’ concerns are environmental in nature, but they are no less relevant to our understanding of how a once-free nation could willingly bind itself with the chains of dictatorship.
Writing about Easter Island\s now-vanished civilization and the societal decline and environmental degradation that contributed to it, Diamond explains, In just a few centuries, the people of Easter Island wiped out their forest, drove their plants and animals to extinction, and saw their complex society spiral into chaos and cannibalism҅ Why didnt they look around, realize what they were doing, and stop before it was too late? What were they thinking when they cut down the last palm tree?
His answer: “I suspect that the disaster happened not with a bang but with a whimper.”
Much like Americas own colonists, Easter Island’s early colonists discovered a “new world” - a pristine paradise - teeming with life. Almost 2000 years after its first settlers arrived, Easter Island was reduced to a barren graveyard by a populace so focused on their immediate needs that they failed to preserve paradise for future generations.
To quote Joni Mitchell, “they paved over paradise to put up a parking lot.”
In Easter Islands case, as Diamond speculates:
The forest… vanished slowly, over decades. Perhaps war interrupted the moving teams; perhaps by the time the carvers had finished their work, the last rope snapped. In the meantime, any islander who tried to warn about the dangers of progressive deforestation would have been overridden by vested interests of carvers, bureaucrats, and chiefs, whose jobs depended on continued deforestation The changes in forest cover from year to year would have been hard to detect Only older people, recollecting their childhoods decades earlier, could have recognized a difference.
Sound painfully familiar yet?
Substitute Easter Islands trees for America’s republic and the trees being decimated for our freedoms, and the arrow hits the mark.
Diamond observes, “Gradually trees became fewer, smaller, and less important. By the time the last fruit-bearing adult palm tree was cut, palms had long since ceased to be of economic significance. That left only smaller and smaller palm saplings to clear each year, along with other bushes and treelets. No one would have noticed the felling of the last small palm.”
We’ve already torn down the rich forest of liberties established by our founders. They don’t teach freedom in the schools. Few Americans know their history. And even fewer seem to care that their fellow Americans are being jailed, muzzled, shot, tasered, and treated as if they have no rights at all. They don’t care, that is, until it happens to them - at which point its almost too late.
This is how the police state wins. This is how tyranny rises. This is how freedom falls.
A thousand cuts, each one justified or ignored or shrugged over as inconsequential enough by itself to bother. But they add up.
As I make clear in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People, each cut, each attempt to undermine our freedoms, each loss of some critical right - to think freely, to assemble, to speak without fear of being shamed or censored, to raise our children as we see fit, to worship or not worship as our conscience dictates, to eat what we want and love who we want, to live as we wantthey add up to an immeasurable failure on the part of each and every one of us to stop the descent down that slippery slope.
It’s taken us 200 short years to destroy the freedoms our founders worked so hard to secure, and its happened with barely a whimper of protest from Œwe the people.
So when I read about demonstrations breaking out in cities across the country and thousands taking to the streets to protest the threat of fascism from a Trump presidency, I have to wonder where were the concerns when access to Obama came easily to any special interest groups and donors willing and able to pay the admissions price?
When I see celebrities threatening to leave the country in droves, I have to ask myself, where was the outcry when the government’s efforts to transform local police into extensions of the military went into overdrive under the Obama administration?
When my newsfeed is overflowing with people wishing they could keep the Obamas in office because they are so cool, I shake my head in disgust over this “cool” presidents use of targeted drone strikes to assassinate American citizens without any due process.
When legal think tanks are threatening lawsuits over the possibility of Trump muzzling free expression, I can’t help but wonder where the outrage was over the Obama administrations demonizing and criminalization of those who criticized the government.
And when commentators who previously dismissed as fear-mongering and hateful any comparison of the government’s tactics to Nazi Germany are suddenly comparing Trump to Hitler, I have to wonder if perhaps weve been living in different countries all along, because none of this is new.
Indeed, if we’re repeating history, the worst is yet to come.
Noam Chomsky: ‘The Republican Party Has Become the Most Dangerous Organization in World History’
By C.J. Polychroniou
November 14, 2015
On Nov. 8, Donald Trump managed to pull the biggest upset in U.S. politics by tapping successfully into the anger of white voters and appealing to the lowest inclinations of people in a manner that would have probably impressed Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels himself.
But what exactly does Trump’s victory mean and what can one expect from this megalomaniac when he takes over the reins of power on Jan. 20, 2017? What is Trump’s political ideology, if any and is “Trumpism” a movement? Will U.S. foreign policy be any different under a Trump administration? Some years ago, public intellectual Noam Chomsky warned that the political climate in the U.S. was ripe for the rise of an authoritarian figure. Now, he shares his thoughts on the aftermath of this election, the moribund state of the U.S. political system and why Trump is a real threat to the world and the planet in general.
Q. Noam, the unthinkable has happened: In contrast to all forecasts, Donald Trump scored a decisive victory over Hillary Clinton, and the man that Michael Moore described as a “wretched, ignorant, dangerous part-time clown and full-time sociopath” will be the next president of the U.S. In your view, what were the deciding factors that led American voters to produce the biggest upset in the history of U.S. politics?
A. Noam Chomsky
Before turning to this question, I think it is important to spend a few moments pondering just what happened on Nov. 8, a date that might turn out to be one of the most important in human history, depending on how we react.
The most important news of Nov. 8 was barely noted, a fact of some significance in itself.
On Nov. 8, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) delivered a report at the international conference on climate change in Morocco (COP22) which was called in order to carry forward the Paris agreement of COP21. The WMO reported that the past five years were the hottest on record. It reported rising sea levels, soon to increase as a result of the unexpectedly rapid melting of polar ice, most ominously the huge Antarctic glaciers. Already, Arctic sea ice over the past five years is 28 percent below the average of the previous 29 years, not only raising sea levels, but also reducing the cooling effect of polar ice reflection of solar rays, thereby accelerating the grim effects of global warming. The WMO reported further that temperatures are approaching dangerously close to the goal established by COP21, along with other dire reports and forecasts.
Another event took place on Nov. 8, which also may turn out to be of unusual historical significance for reasons that, once again, were barely noted.
On Nov. 8, the most powerful country in world history, which will set its stamp on what comes next, had an election. The outcome placed total control of the governmentexecutive, Congress, the Supreme Courts - in the hands of the Republican Party, which has become the most dangerous organization in world history.
Apart from the last phrase, all of this is uncontroversial. The last phrase may seem outlandish, even outrageous. But is it? The facts suggest otherwise. The party is dedicated to racing as rapidly as possible to destruction of organized human life. There is no historical precedent for such a stand.
Is this an exaggeration? Consider what we have just been witnessing.
During the Republican primaries, every candidate denied that what is happening is happeningwith the exception of the sensible moderates, like Jeb Bush, who said it’s all uncertain, but we don’t have to do anything because we’re producing more natural gas, thanks to fracking. Or John Kasich, who agreed that global warming is taking place, but added that “we are going to burn [coal] in Ohio and we are not going to apologize for it.”
The winning candidate, now the president-elect, calls for rapid increase in use of fossil fuels, including coal; dismantling of regulations; rejection of help to developing countries that are seeking to move to sustainable energy; and in general, racing to the cliff as fast as possible.
Trump has already taken steps to dismantle the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) by placing in charge of the EPA transition a notorious (and proud) climate change denier, Myron Ebell. Trump’s top adviser on energy, billionaire oil executive Harold Hamm, announced his expectations, which were predictable: dismantling regulations, tax cuts for the industry (and the wealthy and corporate sector generally), more fossil fuel production, lifting Obama’s temporary block on the Dakota Access Pipeline.
The market reacted quickly. Shares in energy corporations boomed, including the world’s largest coal miner, Peabody Energy, which had filed for bankruptcy, but after Trump’s victory, registered a 50 percent gain.
The effects of Republican denialism had already been felt. There had been hopes that the COP21 Paris agreement would lead to a verifiable treaty, but any such thoughts were abandoned because the Republican Congress would not accept any binding commitments, so what emerged was a voluntary agreement, evidently much weaker.
Effects may soon become even more vividly apparent than they already are. In Bangladesh alone, tens of millions are expected to have to flee from low-lying plains in coming years because of sea level rise and more severe weather, creating a migrant crisis that will make today’s pale in significance.
With considerable justice, Bangladesh’s leading climate scientist said that “These migrants should have the right to move to the countries from which all these greenhouse gases are coming. Millions should be able to go to the United States.” And to the other rich countries that have grown wealthy while bringing about a new geological era, the Anthropocene, marked by radical human transformation of the environment. These catastrophic consequences can only increase, not just in Bangladesh, but in all of South Asia as temperatures, already intolerable for the poor, inexorably rise and the Himalayan glaciers melt, threatening the entire water supply. Already in India, some 300 million people are reported to lack adequate drinking water. And the effects will reach far beyond.
It is hard to find words to capture the fact that humans are facing the most important question in their history - whether organized human life will survive in anything like the form we knowand are answering it by accelerating the race to disaster.
Similar observations hold for the other huge issue concerning human survival: the threat of nuclear destruction, which has been looming over our heads for 70 years and is now increasing.
It is no less difficult to find words to capture the utterly astonishing fact that in all of the massive coverage of the electoral extravaganza, none of this receives more than passing mention. At least I am at a loss to find appropriate words.
Turning finally to the question raised, to be precise, it appears that Clinton received a slight majority of the vote. The apparent decisive victory has to do with curious features of American politics: among other factors, the Electoral College residue of the founding of the country as an alliance of separate states; the winner-take-all system in each state; the arrangement of congressional districts (sometimes by gerrymandering) to provide greater weight to rural votes (in past elections, and probably this one too, Democrats have had a comfortable margin of victory in the popular vote for the House, but hold a minority of seats); the very high rate of abstention (usually close to half in presidential elections, this one included). Of some significance for the future is the fact that in the age 18-25 range, Clinton won handily and Sanders had an even higher level of support. How much this matters depends on what kind of future humanity will face.
According to current information, Trump broke all records in the support he received from white voters, working class and lower middle class, particularly in the $50,000 to $90,000 income range, rural and suburban, primarily those without college education. These groups share the anger throughout the West at the centrist establishment, revealed as well in the unanticipated Brexit vote and the collapse of centrist parties in continental Europe. [Many of] the angry and disaffected are victims of the neoliberal policies of the past generation, the policies described in congressional testimony by Fed chair Alan Greenspanח"St. Alan,” as he was called reverentially by the economics profession and other admirers until the miraculous economy he was supervising crashed in 2007-2008, threatening to bring the whole world economy down with it. As Greenspan explained during his glory days, his successes in economic management were based substantially on “growing worker insecurity.” Intimidated working people would not ask for higher wages, benefits and security, but would be satisfied with the stagnating wages and reduced benefits that signal a healthy economy by neoliberal standards.
Working people, who have been the subjects of these experiments in economic theory, are not particularly happy about the outcome. They are not, for example, overjoyed at the fact that in 2007, at the peak of the neoliberal miracle, real wages for nonsupervisory workers were lower than they had been years earlier, or that real wages for male workers are about at 1960s levels while spectacular gains have gone to the pockets of a very few at the top, disproportionately a fraction of 1%. Not the result of market forces, achievement or merit, but rather of definite policy decisions, matters reviewed carefully by economist Dean Baker in recently published work.
The fate of the minimum wage illustrates what has been happening. Through the periods of high and egalitarian growth in the ‘50s and ‘60s, the minimum wagewhich sets a floor for other wagesחtracked productivity. That ended with the onset of neoliberal doctrine. Since then, the minimum wage has stagnated (in real value). Had it continued as before, it would probably be close to $20 per hour. Today, it is considered a political revolution to raise it to $15.
With all the talk of near-full employment today, labor force participation remains below the earlier norm. And for working people, there is a great difference between a steady job in manufacturing with union wages and benefits, as in earlier years and a temporary job with little security in some service profession. Apart from wages, benefits and security, there is a loss of dignity, of hope for the future, of a sense that this is a world in which I belong and play a worthwhile role.
The impact is captured well in Arlie Hochschild’s sensitive and illuminating portrayal of a Trump stronghold in Louisiana, where she lived and worked for many years. She uses the image of a line in which residents are standing, expecting to move forward steadily as they work hard and keep to all the conventional values. But their position in the line has stalled. Ahead of them, they see people leaping forward, but that does not cause much distress, because it is “the American way” for (alleged) merit to be rewarded. What does cause real distress is what is happening behind them. They believe that “undeserving people” who do not “follow the rules” are being moved in front of them by federal government programs they erroneously see as designed to benefit African-Americans, immigrants and others they often regard with contempt. All of this is exacerbated by [Ronald] Reagan’s racist fabrications about “welfare queens” (by implication Black) stealing white people’s hard-earned money and other fantasies.
Sometimes failure to explain, itself a form of contempt, plays a role in fostering hatred of government. I once met a house painter in Boston who had turned bitterly against the “evil” government after a Washington bureaucrat who knew nothing about painting organized a meeting of painting contractors to inform them that they could no longer use lead paint"the only kind that works"חas they all knew, but the suit didn’t understand. That destroyed his small business, compelling him to paint houses on his own with substandard stuff forced on him by government elites.
Sometimes there are also some real reasons for these attitudes toward government bureaucracies. Hochschild describes a man whose family and friends are suffering bitterly from the lethal effects of chemical pollution but who despises the government and the “liberal elites,” because for him, the EPA means some ignorant guy who tells him he can’t fish, but does nothing about the chemical plants.
These are just samples of the real lives of Trump supporters, who are led to believe that Trump will do something to remedy their plight, though the merest look at his fiscal and other proposals demonstrates the oppositeposing a task for activists who hope to fend off the worst and to advance desperately needed changes.
Exit polls reveal that the passionate support for Trump was inspired primarily by the belief that he represented change, while Clinton was perceived as the candidate who would perpetuate their distress. The “change” that Trump is likely to bring will be harmful or worse, but it is understandable that the consequences are not clear to isolated people in an atomized society lacking the kinds of associations (like unions) that can educate and organize. That is a crucial difference between today’s despair and the generally hopeful attitudes of many working people under much greater economic duress during the Great Depression of the 1930s.
There are other factors in Trump’s success. Comparative studies show that doctrines of white supremacy have had an even more powerful grip on American culture than in South Africa, and it’s no secret that the white population is declining. In a decade or two, whites are projected to be a minority of the work force and not too much later, a minority of the population. The traditional conservative culture is also perceived as under attack by the successes of identity politics, regarded as the province of elites who have only contempt for the ‘’hard-working, patriotic, church-going [white] Americans with real family values’’ who see their familiar country as disappearing before their eyes.
One of the difficulties in raising public concern over the very severe threats of global warming is that 40 percent of the U.S. population does not see why it is a problem, since Christ is returning in a few decades. About the same percentage believe that the world was created a few thousand years ago. If science conflicts with the Bible, so much the worse for science. It would be hard to find an analogue in other societies.
The Democratic Party abandoned any real concern for working people by the 1970s and they have therefore been drawn to the ranks of their bitter class enemies, who at least pretend to speak their languageחReagan’s folksy style of making little jokes while eating jelly beans, George W. Bush’s carefully cultivated image of a regular guy you could meet in a bar who loved to cut brush on the ranch in 100-degree heat and his probably faked mispronunciations (it’s unlikely that he talked like that at Yale), and now Trump, who gives voice to people with legitimate grievancespeople who have lost not just jobs, but also a sense of personal self-worthחand who rails against the government that they perceive as having undermined their lives (not without reason).
One of the great achievements of the doctrinal system has been to divert anger from the corporate sector to the government that implements the programs that the corporate sector designs, such as the highly protectionist corporate/investor rights agreements that are uniformly mis-described as “free trade agreements” in the media and commentary. With all its flaws, the government is, to some extent, under popular influence and control, unlike the corporate sector. It is highly advantageous for the business world to foster hatred for pointy-headed government bureaucrats and to drive out of people’s minds the subversive idea that the government might become an instrument of popular will, a government of, by and for the people.
Section Revelations • Section Dying America •
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Tuesday, October 11, 2016
Working Wonders - Old Farts
Older workers, stay positive in your job search!
By Marvin Walberg
Scripps Howard News Service
May 22, 2009
This morning the article started on page one. A 61-year old man with 40-years of experience lost his job.
"Where is a man MY AGE to find a job that pays more than minimum wage, even though I have more than 40 years of management experience?”, he asked in an on-line posting. “I am lost. In the morning I will awake and....have nowhere to go,” he continues. Then, the article goes to page seven. They get your attention, TOTALLY DEPRESS YOU, and then leave you with pages to turn!
On page seven, the article does make reference to a counselor who works with older job searchers, but still offers little in the way of direction or guidance. Bad news sells.
A 61-year old man, with health, energy and passion for his work, who also has over 40-years of management experience, just might be someone high on an employer’s list of “must-haves”—if he positions himself correctly and starts networking and selling.
But first he has to think outside the box. He has over 40-years of management experience that just happened to be in the foundry industry, but can be transferred to any other industry that needs people with experience in the following: Hiring, training, motivating, leading, disciplining, coaching and teaching a work ethic that comes with maturity and more than 40-years of experience.
So who will hire a 61-year old man? Any employer may who needs experience and realizes that a 61-year old man is in the prime of his working lifetime. Let’s talk positives, not negatives!
Instead of just sending out resumes and posting on Internet sites, he needs to think about his accomplishments and how to transfer his expertise to other industries. Then get out and network like crazy. Find support groups in churches or your local Chamber, tell everyone you know all about you and do some homework on the Internet. Find employers who need managers, get names and titles and start making contact and asking for interviews.
Be positive and believe in what you have accomplished and what you CAN STILL DO FOR YOUR NEXT EMPLOYER.
Marvin Walberg is a job search coach. Contact him at mwalberg(at)bellsouth.net, BLOG, or PO Box 43056, Birmingham, AL 35243.
Hiring Older Workers Is Good For The Office, Study Shows
By Ann Brenoff
January 31, 2014
A study in the U.K. says that hiring older workers might actually be good for your company.
They not only serve as mentors to younger staff, but they also don’t call in sick as much when they are hungover and have a great track record for showing up for work on time. They also are just as technologically savvy as their younger counterparts, the study found.
According to a Daily Mail REPORT ON THE SURVEY, conducted by the Nationwide building society, even younger workers liked having some gray hairs around. Around 16 percent of Nationwide’s 17,000 employees are over 50, and two percent are 60 or older, said the Daily Mail. The study reported that almost half of the Nationwide workers over the age of 55 hadn’t taken a sick day in the past year, and most people in that age group “usually arrived early to work.”
And it’s clearly a good thing that their younger peers see the VALUE IN HAVING THEM AROUND because by 2019, PREDICTS the Sloan Center on Aging & Work at Boston College, workers 55 and older will comprise 25 percent of the workforce. The Urban Institute PREDICTS workers 50 years and older will make up 35 percent of the labor force by 2019.
Employers are turning to older workers to fill job needs
By Dr. Steven Lindner
The Workplace Group
October 4, 2016
The oldest Baby Boomers reached the full retirement age of 65 years old in 2011, yet we are seeing many of the workers in this generation refusing to go into conventional retirement.
Rather, they are reinventing themselves and changing society’s view of the older worker.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Baby Boomers totaled more than 75 million people in 2015 and were supplanted as the largest age demographic by the Millennials, who now represent more than one-quarter of the nation’s population.
Baby Boomers who have retired from their long-term employers are now more likely than ever to take on other employment opportunities.
Retired from your previous employer no longer means retired from working altogether. Many retirees will take time to travel, play golf, complete the long overdue home project they have been wanting to do or some other project of theirs.
But after a short hiatus from a daily work schedule, a large number of Baby Boomers are coming back to the workforce.
At this stage of their lives, Baby Boomers are in a position to follow several different paths. With a good 10 years left of active employment, they tend to choose paths that have meaning and passion to them.
Although many continue in their life-long occupation, an equal number change course and pursue a second career.
With employers’ growing demands for workers across professional and trade occupations alike, there are big knowledge, skill and leadership gaps in the U.S. workforce.
But employers are turning to the older worker not just for their industry knowledge and skills, but to assist with filling in at positions that remain open due to lack of available job candidates.
To boost the supply of talent in the job market, smart employers are turning to older workers.
For example, THE WORKPLACE GROUP has launched recruitment strategies to attract them for everything from key leadership positions, advisory roles, IT and engineering roles, to serving as contact center agents assisting customers with orders, billing, and product and service related questions.
Older workers are also sought for seasonal hiring needs, particularly as the holiday season quickly approaches.
Whereas many companies have shied away from seasoned employees out of concerns that they won’t be able to afford them or offer them the job they once had, the truth is older workers value other aspects of work.
Many don’t want to return to their stressful full-time roles and are less interested in making the amount of money that they once did. Rather, they are far more interested in work that appeals to them and want employers who value them.
According to Laurie Pellegrino, founder and principal at Pellegrino Associates in New Providence, N.J., and who specializes in Executive Coaching and Leadership Development, older workers enjoy stimulating work environments and being part of the team.
They enjoy diversity of thought and often adjust better to changes in corporate organizations and practices than their younger colleagues.
After all, they have had a lifetime of learning how to deal with continual change. Ms. Pellegrino reminds us that older workers deeply appreciate being recognized for their help.
“A sincere thank you goes a long way,” she says.
Older workers often have greater flexibility with their schedules, as well as their finances, since most now have children living on their own, and large expenses like mortgages and college tuition generally are behind them.
Employers need to be creative in attracting the older worker. They are not necessarily looking for online job ads. Thus, recruitment strategies that reach out to workers over age 55 and invite them to consider an opportunity tend to be most successful.
Older workers who want to help recruiters and employers find them, should:
Energize their network
Track down former colleagues you enjoyed conducting business with and speak with them about what they are doing now. Utilize various social media channels such as LinkedIn to re-establish connections with past co-workers.
Keep their LinkedIn profile current
Continuously update your LinkedIn profile. If you’re not on any professional social media outlets, now is the time to take the leap. Meaningful job opportunities are more likely to come your way when your peer group knows what you have done and what you want to do next.
Utilize online job boards
Websites such as Career Builder, The Ladders, simply hired, and Monster.com have emerged as go-to sources for employers to advertise open positions and search for rsums.
Some sites such as RetiredBrains.com and Seniors4Hire.com specialize in job seekers age 50-plus. Consider uploading your r驩sum to make it easy for recruiters to find you and applying to job openings that interest you.
Stay active in their target profession
Attend professional conferences, take continuing education courses, pursue certification, or join a local business chamber.
Not only will this help you stay current and “in the know,” but it will also help you forge new relationships and potentially lead to your next fulfilling career opportunity.
Dr. Steven Lindner is the executive partner of The WorkPlace Group, a leading “think-tank” provider of talent acquisition and recruitment process outsourcing services helping employers find, screen, assess and onboard best talent.
Section Dealing with Layoff •
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Tuesday, September 20, 2016
A Toxic Work World
By Anne-Marie Slaughter
September 18, 2015
For many Americans, life has become all competition all the time. Workers across the socioeconomic spectrum, from hotel housekeepers to surgeons, have stories about toiling 12- to 16-hour days (often without overtime pay) and experiencing anxiety attacks and exhaustion. Public health experts have begun talking about stress as an epidemic.
The people who can compete and succeed in this culture are an ever-narrower slice of American society: largely young people who are healthy, and wealthy enough not to have to care for family members. An individual company can of course favor these individuals, as health insurers once did, and then pass them off to other businesses when they become parents or need to tend to their own parents. But this model of winning at all costs reinforces a distinctive American pathology of not making room for caregiving. The result: We hemorrhage talent and hollow out our society.
To begin with, we are losing women. America has unlocked the talent of its women in a way that few nations can match; girls are outpacing boys in high schools, universities and graduate schools and are now entering the work force at higher salaries. But the ranks of those women still thin significantly as they rise toward the top, from more than 50 percent at entry level to 10 to 20 percent in senior management. Far too many discover that what was once a manageable and enjoyable work-family balance can no longer be sustained regardless of ambition, confidence or even a partner who shares tasks equally.
Every family’s situation is different; some women may be able to handle with ease conditions that dont work for others. But many women who started out with all the ambition in the world find themselves in a place they never expected to be. They do not choose to leave their jobs; they are shut out by the refusal of their bosses to make it possible for them to fit their family life and their work life together. In her book “Opting Out? Why Women Really Quit Careers and Head Home,” the sociologist Pamela Stone calls this a “forced choice.” “Denial of requests to work part time, layoffs or relocations,” she writes, “will push even the most ambitious woman out of the work force.”
A young lawyer I know from Virginia was offered a general counsel position, which she determined she could take but only if she could work from home one day a week to be with her two children. Her employer refused. Still another woman wrote to me about her aspiration to an executive-level position and the predicament of doing so with a 2-year-old at home: The dilemma is in no way the result of having a toddler: After all, executive men seem to enjoy increased promotions with every additional offspring. It is the way work continues to be circumscribed as something that happens in an office, and/or between 8-6 that causes such conflict. “I haven"t yet been presented with a shred of reasonable justification for insisting my job requires me to be sitting in this fixed, 15 sq foot room, 20 miles from my home.”
The problem is even more acute for the 42 million women in America on the brink of poverty. Not showing up for work because a child has an ear infection, schools close for a snow day, or an elderly parent must go to the doctor puts their jobs at risk, and losing their jobs means that they can no longer care properly for their children - some 28 million and other relatives who depend on them. They are often suffering not only from too little flexibility but also too much, as many low-wage service jobs no longer have a guaranteed number of hours a week.
This looks like a “womens problem,” but its not. It’s a work problem the problem of an antiquated and broken system. When law firms and corporations lose talented women who reject lock-step career paths and question promotion systems that elevate quantity of hours worked over quality of the work itself, the problem is not with the women. When an abundance of overly rigid workplaces causes 42 million American citizens to live day to day in fear that just one single setback will prevent them from being able to care for their children, it’s not their problem, but ours.
The problem is with the workplace, or more precisely, with a workplace designed for the “Mad Men” era, for “Leave It to Beaver” families in which one partner does all the work of earning an income and the other partner does all the work of turning that income into care the care that is indispensable for our children, our sick and disabled, our elderly. Our families and our responsibilities don’t look like that anymore, but our workplaces do not fit the realities of our lives.
Irene Padavic, a Florida State sociologist, Robin J. Ely, a Harvard Business School professor, and Erin Reid from Boston Universitys Questrom School of Business were asked to conduct a detailed study of a midsize global consulting firm where top management thought they had a ғgender problem. The firm had a paucity of women at the highest levels ԗ just 10 percent of partners were women, compared with nearly 40 percent of junior associates.
After careful study, Professors Padavic, Ely and Reid found that an equal number of men and women had left the firm in the preceding three years, a simple fact that contradicted managements women, work and family story. Some of the men also left because of the long hours; others ғsuffered in silence or otherwise made do. The firmԒs key human resources problem was not gender, as management believed, but rather a culture of overwork.
The firms leadership resisted these findings. They didnҒt want to be told that they needed to overhaul their entire organizational philosophy or that they were overpromising to clients and overdelivering (for example, making hundred-slide PowerPoint presentations that the client couldnt even use). They wanted to be told that the firmҒs problem was work-family conflict for women, a narrative that would allow them to adopt a set of policies specifically aimed at helping women work part time, or be mentored, or join support networks. As Professors Padavic, Ely and Reid wryly concluded, their attitude required a rejection of evidence on the part of evidence-driven analysts.Ӕ
Bad work culture is everyones problem, for men just as much as for women. ItҒs a problem for working parents, not just working mothers. For working children who need time to take care of their own parents, not just working daughters. For anyone who does not have the luxury of a full-time lead parent or caregiver at home.
But theres good news. Men are also beginning to ask for and take paternity leave and to take lead parent roles. According to a continuing study by the Families and Work Institute, only a third of employed millennial men think that couples should take on traditional gender roles. Some tech companies warring for talent are also beginning to compete by offering longer paternity leaves, which will hardly affect the average American workplace, but is a sign of changing cultural attitudes.
EVEN if men and women join forces to demand changes in the workplace, though, we cannot do this alone, as individuals trying to make our lives work and as workers and bosses trying to make room for care. Some other company can always keep prices down by demanding more, burning out its employees and casting them aside when they are done. To be fully competitive as a country, we are going to have to emulate other industrialized countries and build an infrastructure of care. We used to have one; it was called women at home. But with 57 percent of those women in the labor force, that infrastructure has crumbled and itҒs not coming back.
To support care just as we support competition, we will need some combination of the following: high-quality and affordable child care and elder care; paid family and medical leave for women and men; a right to request part-time or flexible work; investment in early education comparable to our investment in elementary and secondary education; comprehensive job protection for pregnant workers; higher wages and training for paid caregivers; community support structures to allow elders to live at home longer; and reform of elementary and secondary school schedules to meet the needs of a digital rather than an agricultural economy.
These proposals are not so far-fetched as they may seem. President Obama put forward proposals to expand access to affordable, high-quality child care in his 2016 budget. Hillary Rodham Clinton has made providing a foundation for working families, including child care, one of the central aspects of her campaign. One of the few states that offers paid family leave (workers pay the cost out of a small increase in their payroll tax) is New Jersey, under the Republican governor Chris Christie.
Republican senators have sponsored a bill that would allow employers to offer employees paid leave hours instead of overtime pay; some polls show that a majority of women who vote Republican support paid family leave. Senator Kelly Ayotte, Republican of New Hampshire, is co-leader of a bipartisan caucus across both the Senate and the House devoted to assisting family caregivers. She follows in the footsteps of former Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, Republican of Texas, who successfully sponsored legislation to allow homemakers to contribute to retirement accounts the same way that salaried workers can. And as the baby boom becomes an elder boom, we can expect a whole new constituency for care, on both sides of the aisle.
Change in our individual workplaces and in our broader politics also depends on culture change: fundamental shifts in the way we think, talk and confer prestige. If we really valued care, we would not regard time out for caregiving for your children, parents, spouse, sibling or any other member of your extended or constructed family - as a black hole on a resume. We would see it as engaging in a socially, personally and professionally valuable activity. We would see men who lean out for care as role models just as much as women who lean in for work. We would think managing kids matters as much as managing money.
Impossible, right? Yet I grew up in a society where my mother set out little vases of cigarettes on the table at dinner parties, where blacks and whites had to use different bathrooms, and in which almost everyone claimed to be heterosexual. That seems a lifetime ago, but I驒m not so old. Our world has changed over the past 50 years, vastly for the better from the point of view of African-Americans, the L.G.B.T. community and families who lost loved ones to lung cancer. Given the magnitude of that change, think about how much we can still do.
We can, all of us, stand up for care. Until we do, men and women will never be equal; not while both are responsible for providing cash but only women are responsible for providing care. And though individual Americans might win out in our current system, America as a whole will never be as competitive as it ought to be. If we do not act, over time our families and communities, the foundation of our flourishing, will wither.
The womens movement has brought many of us the right to compete on equal terms; it’s time for all of us to claim an equal right to care.
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