Article 43

 

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Down Skilling

image: jobs

I think it’s great if companies stop complaining that we’re TOO STUPID for the jobs out there, stop INSISTING ON DEGREES to apply for jobs pouring coffee, or insinuate that we’re LAZY BUMS that would rather starve than work.

It BEATS THE USUAL threats of outsourcing, offshoring, REPLACING AMERICAN WORKERS with robots or H1-B visas, or the lie we’ve been hearing for years about a SKILLS MISMATCH.

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Employers Eager to Hire Try a New Policy: No Experience Necessary
Inexperienced job applicants face better odds in the labor market as more companies drop work-history and degree requirements

By Kelsey Gee
Wall Street Journal
July 29, 2018

Americans looking to land a first job or break into a dream career face their best odds of success in years.

Employers say they are abandoning preferences for college degrees and specific skill sets to speed up hiring and broaden the pool of job candidates. Many companies added requirements to job postings after the recession, when millions were out of work and human-resources departments were stacked with resumes.

Across incomes and industries, the lower bar to getting hired is helping self-taught programmers attain software engineering roles at Intel Corp. INTC 0.63% and GitHub Inc., the coding platform, and improving the odds for high-school graduates who aspire to be branch managers at Bank of America Corp. BAC 1.20% and Terminix pest control.

“Candidates have so many options today, said Amy Glaser, senior vice president of Adecco Group, a staffing agency with about 10,000 company clients in search of employees. “If a company requires a degree, two rounds of interviews and a test for hard SKILLS, candidates can go down the street to another employer who will make them an offer that day.”

Ms. Glaser estimates one in four of the agency’s employer clients have made drastic changes to their recruiting process since the start of the year, such as skipping drug tests or criminal background checks, or removing preferences for a higher degree or high-school diploma.

Cutting job-credential requirements is more common in cities such as Dallas and Louisville, where unemployment is lowest, Ms. Glaser said, as well as in recruiting for roles at call centers and warehouses within logistics operations of retailers such as Walmart Inc. and Amazon.com Inc.

In the first half of 2018, the share of job postings requesting a college degree fell to 30% from 32% in 2017, according to an analysis by labor-market research firm Burning Glass Technologies of 15 million ads on websites such as Indeed and Craigslist. Minimum qualifications have been drifting lower since 2012, when companies sought college graduates for 34% of those positions.

Long work-history requirements have also relaxed: Only 23% of entry-level jobs now ask applicants for three or more years of experience, compared with 29% back in 2012, putting an additional 1.2 million jobs in closer reach of more applicants, Burning Glass data show. Through the end of last year, a further one million new jobs were opened up to candidates with no experience necessary,Ӕ making occupations such as e-commerce analyst, purchasing assistant and preschool teacher available to novices and those without a degree.

It all marks a sharp reversal from the immediate aftermath of the financial crisis, when employers could be pickier. Economists say job requirements were harder to track then, because many companies didn’t post positions publicly and many resums werent delivered electronically.

Now, recruiters say, the tightest job market in decades has left employers looking to tamp down hiring costs with three options: Offer more money upfront, lower their standards or retrain current staff in coding, procurement or other necessary skills.

Rodney Apple, president of SCM Talent Group LLC in Asheville, N.C., said if companies won’t budge on compensation, experience or education requirements, he walks away.

We tell them,"I’m sorry, but we can’t help you fish for the few underpaid or unaware applicants left out there,” he said. SCM finds workers for dozens of small and midsize companies seeking supply-chain managers and logistics and warehouse operators across the U.S. Mr. Apple said talent shortages are more extreme than he has seen in nearly 20 years of recruiting.

Average wages have climbed steadily in the past year, but rising prices of household goods have made those pay raises less valuable to workers, keeping pressure on employers to increase salaries or re-evaluate their target hire.

To attract more entry-level employees, toy maker Hasbro Inc. HAS -1.20% divided four marketing jobs, which it previously designed for business-school graduates with M.B.A.s, into eight lower-level positions. The new full-time roles included a marketing coordinator, retail-planning analyst and trade merchandiser, all involving more routine activities supporting higher-level staff in the division.

Hasbro hiring managers originally sought candidates with a two-year degree for the jobs but ultimately dropped any college requirement, a spokeswoman said. The Pawtucket, R.I. company received more than 100 applications and hired nine people.

The new shift, called down skilling, bolsters a theory articulated by Alicia Modestino, a Northeastern University economist: When more people are looking for work, companies can afford to inflate job requirements to find the best fitand did so as unemployment spiked in 2008.

As college graduates and midcareer professionals raised their hands for jobs as hotel managers and bookkeepers after the recession, hires with more qualifications took a larger share of positions normally filled by the 75 million U.S. workers who lack a college degree.

After the recession, Terminix raised the bar for over 1,000 pest-control branch- and service-manager positions to require a two-year degree or a bachelor’s degree. In January, it reversed course and made degrees “preferred” but not mandatory, said Betsy Vincent, senior director of talent acquisition.

Anthony Whitehead worked for five years as a Terminix branch manager in Florida before he was promoted to regional director in early July. That position now accepts candidates with college degrees or equivalent experience, helping Mr. Whitehead clinch the role despite his earlier decision to enter the military instead of college.

Mr. Whitehead, 35 years old, said his approach to jobs requiring a degree has been apply anyways if I have the right experience, and then have the education conversation “if I need to,” he said, acknowledging his luck in working for companies like Terminix with flexible requirements.

A lot of employers are loosening college requirements even as the proportion of Americans with a bachelors degree continues to rise. Bank of America Corp. currently has 7,500 job openings world-wide and fewer than 10% require a degree, said spokesman Andy Aldridge. Mr. Aldridge said a surprising number of jobs could be filled by nongraduates, including most of the bankԒs tellers and employees handling customer-service and fraud-protection calls from cardholders.

In June, the bank unveiled plans to hire 10,000 more retail workers from low-income neighborhoods over the next five years, with or without degrees, said Chris Payton, head of talent acquisition.

Not every company is relaxing requirements: Economists say positions that require high levels of technical expertise, such as information security, still need advanced knowledge.

The tech industry has been quick to dismiss credentials like a bachelor of arts degree as irrelevant, especially in emerging fields such as data analytics, where demand for talent has risen faster than universities can churn out new graduates.

GitHub, recently acquired by Microsoft Corp., said it hasnt required college degrees for most positions in years. Degrees are optional for many Ғexperienced hire positions at chip maker Intel, which also has a Ӕtech grad job category the company describes as fitting candidates with relevant classroom or work experience from technical programs, such as coding boot camps.

Intel’s career website advertises roles, including a lab employee testing experimental devices in Santa Clara, Calif., and a components researcher improving the semiconductor process in Hillsboro, Ore., as available to candidates with a two-year degree, military training or other nondegree certifications.

Write to Kelsey Gee at kelsey dot gee at wsj dot com

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Posted by Elvis on 07/31/18 •
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Saturday, July 28, 2018

Message For 2018 Graduates

 young adult on food stamps

Without firing a shot, a cadre of like-minded interest groups today comprises the Elite - acting as the Nations Board of Directors, so to speak, micromanaging our lives and setting government policy. The mental-health industry is that cadre, and we are its chumps, paying hundreds of millions of dollars to support legislation, purchase medications, and rearrange our lifestyles in accordance with the wishes of a select few who are laughing all the way to the bank.
- Beverky K. Eakman, The New Face Of Psychiatry

The greatest challenge facing mankind is distinguishing reality from fantasy, truth from propaganda
- Michael Crichton (Jurassic Park, etc.)

When the rivers and air are polluted, when families and nations are at war, when homeless wanderers fill the highways, these are the traditional signs of a dark age.
- Pema Chodron, When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times

When Things Fall Apart: A Graduation Message for a Dark Age
By John W. Whitehead
The Rutherford Institute
May 21, 2018

Those COMING OF AGE today will face some of the greatest OBSTACLES ever ENCOUNTERED by YOUNG PEOPLE.

They will find themselves overtaxed, burdened with excessive college debt, and struggling to find worthwhile employment in a debt-ridden economy on the brink of implosion. Their privacy will be eviscerated by the surveillance state. They will be the subjects of a military empire constantly WAGING WAR against shadowy enemies and government agents armed to the teeth ready and able to lock down the country at a moments notice.

As such, they will find themselves forced to march in lockstep with a government that no longer exists to serve the people but which demands they be obedient slaves or suffer the consequences.

It’s a dismal prospect, isn’t it?

Unfortunately, we who should have known better failed to guard against such a future.

Worse, we neglected to maintain our freedoms or provide our young people with the tools necessary to survive, let alone succeed, in the impersonal jungle that is modern America.

We brought them into homes fractured by divorce, distracted by mindless entertainment, and obsessed with the pursuit of materialism. We institutionalized them in daycares and afterschool programs, substituting time with teachers and childcare workers for parental involvement. We turned them into test-takers instead of thinkers and automatons instead of activists.

We allowed them to languish in schools which not only look like prisons but function like prisons, as well - where conformity is the rule and freedom is the exception. We made them easy prey for our corporate overlords, while instilling in them the values of a celebrity-obsessed, technology-driven culture devoid of any true spirituality. And we taught them to believe that the pursuit of their own personal happiness trumped all other virtues, including any empathy whatsoever for their fellow human beings.

No, we haven’t done this generation any favors.

Based on the current political climate, things could very well get much worse before they ever take a turn for the better. Here are a few pieces of advice that will hopefully help those coming of age today survive the perils of the journey that awaits:

Be an individual. For all of its claims to champion the individual, American culture advocates a stark conformity which, as John F. Kennedy warned, is “the jailer of freedom, and the enemy of growth.” Worry less about fitting in with the rest of the world and instead, as Henry David Thoreau urged, become “a Columbus to whole new continents and worlds within you, opening new channels, not of trade, but of thought.

Learn your rights. We’re losing our freedoms for one simple reason: most of us dont know anything about our freedoms. At a minimum, anyone who has graduated from high school, let alone college, should know the Bill of Rights backwards and forwards. However, the average young person, let alone citizen, has very little knowledge of their rights for the simple reason that the schools no longer teach them. So grab a copy of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, and study them at home. And when the time comes, stand up for your rights before itҒs too late.

Speak truth to power. Don’t be naive about those in positions of authority. As James Madison, who wrote our Bill of Rights, observed, ғAll men having power ought to be distrusted. We must learn the lessons of history. People in power, more often than not, abuse that power. To maintain our freedoms, this will mean challenging government officials whenever they exceed the bounds of their office.

Resist all things that numb you. Don’t measure your worth by what you own or earn. Likewise, dont become mindless consumers unaware of the world around you. Resist all things that numb you, put you to sleep or help you ғcope with so-called reality. Those who establish the rules and laws that govern society’s actions desire compliant subjects. However, as George Orwell warned, Until they become conscious, they will never rebel, and until after they rebelled, they cannot become conscious.Ӕ It is these conscious individuals who change the world for the better.

Don’t let technology turn you into ZOMBIES. Technology anesthetizes us to the all-too-real tragedies that surround us. Techno-gadgets are merely distractions from what’s really going on in America and around the world. As a result, we’ve begun mimicking the inhuman technology that surrounds us and have lost our humanity. We;ve become sleepwalkers. If youre going to make a difference in the world, you’re going to have to pull the earbuds out, turn off the cell phones and spend much less time viewing screens.

Help others. We all have a calling in life. And I believe it boils down to one thing: You are here on this planet to help other people. In fact, none of us can exist very long without help from others. If were going to see any positive change for freedom, then we must change our view of what it means to be human and regain a sense of what it means to love and help one another. That will mean gaining the courage to stand up for the oppressed.

Give voice to moral outrage. As Martin Luther King Jr. said, “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about the things that matter.” There is no shortage of issues on which to take a stand. For instance, on any given night, over half a million people in the U.S. are homeless, and half of them are elderly. There are 46 million Americans living at or below the poverty line, and 16 million children living in households without adequate access to food. Congress creates, on average, more than 50 new criminal laws each year. With more than 2 million Americans in prison, and close to 7 million adults in correctional care, the United States has the largest prison population in the world. At least 2.7 million children in the United States have at least one parent in prison. At least 400 to 500 innocent people are killed by police officers every year. Americans are now eight times more likely to die in a police confrontation than they are to be killed by a terrorist. On an average day in America, over 100 Americans have their homes raided by SWAT teams. It costs the American taxpayer $52.6 billion every year to be spied on by the government intelligence agencies tasked with surveillance, data collection, counterintelligence and covert activities. All the while, since 9/11, the U.S. has spent more than $1.6 trillion to wage wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and police the rest of the world. This is an egregious affront to anyone who believes in freedom.

Cultivate spirituality, reject materialism and put people first. When the things that matter most have been subordinated to materialism, we have lost our moral compass. We must change our values to reflect something more meaningful than technology, materialism and politics. Standing at the pulpit of the Riverside Church in New York City in April 1967, Martin Luther King Jr. urged his listeners:

[W]e as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. We must rapidly begin the shift from a “thing-oriented” society to a “person-oriented” society. When machines and computers, profit motive and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered.

Pitch in and do your part to make the world a better place. Don’t rely on someone else to do the heavy lifting for you. Don’t wait around for someone else to fix what ails you, your community or nation. As Gandhi urged: “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”

Say no to war. Addressing the graduates at Binghampton Central High School in 1968, at a time when the country was waging war on different fields, on different levels, and with different weapons, Twilight Zone creator Rod Serling declared:

Too many wars are fought almost as if by rote. Too many wars are fought out of sloganry, out of battle hymns, out of aged, musty appeals to patriotism that went out with knighthood and moats. Love your country because it is eminently worthy of your affection. Respect it because it deserves your respect. Be loyal to it because it cannot survive without your loyalty. But do not accept the shedding of blood as a natural function or a prescribed way of history - even if history points this up by its repetition. That men die for causes does not necessarily sanctify that cause. And that men are maimed and torn to pieces every fifteen and twenty years does not immortalize or deify the act of war… find another means that does not come with the killing of your fellow-man.

Finally, prepare yourselves for what lies ahead. The demons of our agesome of whom disguise themselves as politiciansחdelight in fomenting violence, sowing distrust and prejudice, and persuading the public to support tyranny disguised as patriotism. Overcoming the evils of our age will require more than intellect and activism. It will require decency, morality, goodness, truth and toughness. As Serling concluded in his remarks to the graduating class of 1968:

Toughness is the singular quality most required of you… we have left you a world far more botched than the one that was left to us… Part of your challenge is to seek out truth, to come up with a point of view not dictated to you by anyone, be he a congressman, even a minister… Are you tough enough to take the divisiveness of this land of ours, the fact that everything is polarized, black and white, this or that, absolutely right or absolutely wrong. This is one of the challenges. Be prepared to seek out the middle ground ... that wondrous and very difficult-to-find Valhalla where man can look to both sides and see the errant truths that exist on both sides. If you must swing left or you must swing right - respect the other side. Honor the motives that come from the other side. Argue, debate, rebutbut don’t close those wondrous minds of yours to opposition. In their eyes, you’re the opposition. And ultimately ... ultimately - you end divisiveness by compromise. And so long as men walk and breathe - there must be compromise…

Are you tough enough to face one of the uglier stains upon the fabric of our democracyחprejudice? It’s the basic root of most evil. It’s a part of the sickness of man. And it’s a part of man’s admission, his constant sick admission, that to exist he must find a scapegoat. To explain away his own deficiencieshe must try to find someone who he believes more deficient… Make your judgment of your fellow-man on what he says and what he believes and the way he acts. Be tough enough, please, to live with prejudice and give battle to it. It warps, it poisons, it distorts and it is self-destructive. It has fallout worse than a bomb ... and worst of all it cheapens and demeans anyone who permits himself the luxury of hating.

As I make clear in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People, the only way well ever achieve change in this country is for the American people to finally say “enough is enough” and fight for the things that truly matter.

It doesn’t matter how old you are or what your political ideology is. If you have something to say, speak up. Get active, and if need be, pick up a picket sign and get in the streets. And when civil liberties are violated, dont remain silent about it.

Wake up, stand up, and make your activism count for something more than politics.

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Posted by Elvis on 07/28/18 •
Section Revelations • Section Dying America
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America In Collapse 3

inage: the end is near

Here’s How Systems (and Nations) Fail

By Charles Hugh Smith
Washington’s Blog
July 27, 2018

Would any sane person choose Americas broken HEALTHCARE SYSTEM over a cheaper, more effective alternative? Let’s see: the current system costs twice as much per person as the healthcare systems of our developed-world competitors, a medication to treat infantile spasms costs $8 per vial in Europe and $38,892 in the U.S., and by any broad measure, the health of the U.S. populace is declining.

This is how systems and nations fail: nobody chose the current broken system, but now it cant be changed because the incentive structure locks in embedded processes that enrich self-serving insiders at the expense of the system, nation and its populace.

Nobody chose America’s insane healthcare systemit arose from a set ofinitial conditions that generated perverse incentives to do more of what’s failing and protect the processes that benefit insiders at the expense of everyone else.

In other words, the system that was intended to benefit all ends up benefitting the few at the expense of the many.

The same question can be asked of Americas broken higher education system:would any sane person choose a system that enriches insiders by indenturing students via massive student loans (i.e. forcing them to become debt serfs)?

Students and their parents certainly wouldn’t choose the current broken system, but the lenders reaping billions of dollars in profits would choose to keep it, and so would the under-assistant deans earning a cool $200K+ for administeringӔ some embedded process that has effectively nothing to do with actual learning.

The academic ronin a.k.a. adjuncts earning $35,000 a year (with little in the way of benefits or security) for doing much of the actual teaching wouldnt choose the current broken system, either.

Now that the embedded processes are generating profits and wages, everyone benefitting from these processes will fight to the death to retain and expand them, even if they threaten the system with financial collapse and harm the people who the system was intended to serve.

How many student loan lenders and assistant deans resign in disgust at the parasitic system that higher education has become? The number of insiders who refuse to participate any longer is signal noise, while the number who plod along, either denying their complicity in a parasitic system of debt servitude and largely worthless diplomas (i.e. the system is failing the students it is supposedly educating at enormous expense) or rationalizing it is legion.

If I was raking in $200,000 annually from a system I knew was parasitic and counter-productive, I would find reasons to keep my head down and just “do my job,” too.

At some point, the embedded processes become so odious and burdensome that those actually providing the services start bailing out of the broken system. We’re seeing this in the number of doctors and nurses who retire early or simply quit to do something less stressful and more rewarding.

These embedded processes strip away autonomy, equating compliance with effectiveness even as the processes become increasingly counter-productive and wasteful. The typical mortgage documents package is now a half-inch thick, a stack of legal disclaimers and stipulations that no home buyer actually understands (unless they happen to be a real estate attorney).

How much value is actually added by these ever-expanding embedded processes?

By the time the teacher, professor or doctor complies with the curriculum / standards of careӔ, theres little room left for actually doing their job. But behind the scenes, armies of well-paid administrators will fight to the death to keep the processes as they are, no matter how destructive to the system as a whole.

This is how systems and the nations that depend on them fail. Meds skyrocket in price, student loans top $1 trillion, F-35 fighter aircraft are double the initial cost estimates and so on, and the insider solutions are always the same: just borrow another trillion to keep the broken system afloat for another year.

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How Life is Going to Change as America Collapses
What Will Everyday Life in a Collapsed America Be Like?

By Umair
July 10, 2018
Eudamonia

Indulge me for a moment. Imagine, as I do, that Americas going to go right on collapsing. Who’s going to stop it? After all, in the last week alone, all three branches of government have been captured, at last, by extremists. The judiciary, with the nomination of a justice whod overturn Roe vs Wade, taking the US back half a century. Congress, whose Senators happily tweeted independence day greetings from Moscow. And, of course, the executive, in which a demagogue continued his assault on reason, democracy and truth.

All three branches of government captured mean that there are virtually no checks and balances left, save slender hope here or there, and so American collapse is likely to continue unabated. Into what? Into well, no one knows. Theofascism, maybe. Klepto-authoritarianism, perhaps. Pick your poisons - now shake up the cocktail mixer. Something new, a new form of all the old diseases of the body politic, combined in a strange, novel, lethal way, most probably.

While we cant say what the final form of American collapse will be yet, we can say life is going to change. Faster, harder, and nastier than you think. Here are five ways life is going to change under authoritarianism - and you’d be quite correct to notice, as you read, that they are ways in which life has already begun to change.

(1) What’s Normal Becomes Forbidden. The first thing that happens - at least which people notice - is that things which used to be normal, everyday affairs, happening in broad daylight, now go underground. They happen in secret places, through closely guarded networks, behind closed doors. So thats my first change: parts, my guess is large parts, of American life are going to go underground. Like what? Well, like abortion, quite obviously. But that’s just for starters. Civic organizing, refugee assistance, elderly care, various forms of healthcare, art, music, literature, politics - these will go underground, too. Whatגs the theme of this change? Authoritarian states are Nietzschean places - designed for the survival of the strongest, the predators. And that means that activities associated with taking care of the weak, the infirm, the frail - matters of human fragility, let us simply say - will be driven underground.

So what’s decent and humane and good and right - these things must be done in secret, where no one sees, in authoritarian states, because only what’s indecent and obscene can be done in public, with a proud, cold, calculated smile. Thats how authoritarians, who are mafias, maintain order. By intimidating and punishing, with public example, frightening people into submission. But what does a culture of fear do to a once free society? Well, it has ripple effects, which pulse outward. Soon enough, a society becomes a place of two kinds of people - bellowing demagogues, and frightened cowards.

(Go ahead and look around. Do you see that now-famous lawyer of a porn star who supposes hes taking on the President? See how he bellows and shouts and calls names? What about the many ғanti-Trump GOP men ԗ arent they all a little bit, well, bellicose, abrasive, and nasty, too? All these men are just the same sorts of demagogues in different suits, my friends. You might not like to hear that җ so by all means, think about it carefully. They are hardly FDR, Churchill, or Cicero. Are they after power  or real change, reform, transformation? You judge. Let the point, which is this, stand.)

(2) Silence descends. A culture of fear selects for bullies, on the one hand - and it creates a kind of paralysis in people, on the other. It becomes dangerous to say what you really think. To express how you really feel. Who knows which thug, mafia, scoundrel, might take your words and twist them, shame you publicly, send his goons and dogs after you? Thus, when norms of fear emerge, the tone and tenor of life in a society changes. Free expression withers. Free association wanes. Ultimately, freedom of thought itself is corroded. People become afraid to even think the very things they might be punished for.

So my second change is that the true self of society is lost. People who were once authentic, open, honest, passionate about being so with each other, at least a little bit, grow frightened, when they are not weary, and weary, when they are not frightened. And in between, the idea that society must be a place of people telling one another truths about themselves - how else is a democracy to emerge - is lost. And that is just what the authoritarians want. The coarsening of public life, too, is a kind of degeneration of a republic.

(3) New norms emerge. And that brings me to my third change - life will become obscene. I don’t mean naked people will run down the streets. That’s funny, maybe gross, but hardly immoral. So I mean that moral perversity will soon enough become normal - and what will be abnormal will be moral decency itself. Isn’t it that way already, a little bit? A handful of rich Senators take healthcare away from millions of children - just another day at the office! The pundits gather to discuss it on the nightly news as if they were calculating the value of oranges or cars or shoes. Do you see what I mean by obscenity? But that scene is replayed every day, isn’t it? A whole culture soon shifts as a result of authoritarian’s new norms of control through fear, conformity, and boot-licking - and, morally speaking, ethically speaking, what is abnormal becomes normal, and whatגs normal becomes abnormal. The grotesque triumphs. What was once the better part of a nation, its true self, its nobility and triumph, soon becomes just its despised shadow.

But what does it mean that the obscene becomes the everyday? That the grotesque triumphs? What it really means is that human life itself has become devalued  in a very special way: folded back on itself, to be worth not just zero, but less than zero. How can that be? Well, this change too, has already long begun to happen in America. Think of healthcare: people donגt get it because theyre seen as ғburdens, thanks to a generation or three of crackpot economics, lunatic ideology, and impoverished social thinking. But how can a human being be a burden - ever? You dont know who tomorrow’s Einsteins and Salks will be, and neither do I. The elderly have decades of wisdom and truth to share with us - if only we listen. And so on.

(4) New institutions take hold. But authoritarian states maintain power by building or reconstructing whole institutions whose sole purpose is to devalue human life. Thatגs what Gestapos and Stasis and morality polices are, when you think about it. Soon enough, Americans are likely to live under the thumb of just such repressive institutions  if they aren’t already, whole towns being raided - whose purpose is to control, discipline, and punish them, not liberate and lift and empower them. So my third change, the devaluation of human life, means that genuinely repressive institutions are already emerging, whose goal isn’t to help Americans live better lives - but to prevent them from ever doing so, unless they lick their masters boots, with just enough enthusiasm, to be rewarded with the very freedoms they have last. That fatal calculus is how authoritarians build societies which arent free, but vast hierarchies of flunkies, each more eager than the last, to commit daily obscenities, that are now normal, in the degenerate place a once proud republic stood.

What does the devaluation of human life suggest? It means that there’s no room, rhyme, or reason for a society to invest in people, doesnt it? So the quality of life in authoritarian states, usually, plunges downwards precipitously, ruinously. Consider the effects of appointing a Supreme Court justice who’ll roll back Roe, repeal what little healthcare there is, and loosen gun controls. American life expectancy, which is already cratering downwards at record speed - falling by a year every year -will continue to decline. It’s already five years shorter than in Europe. Soon enough, it will be ten. Where will it end? Who knows?

(5) Life becomes worse. Much worse. That is my fifth change. The life of the average American is going to get worse, much worse, in the hardest and most concrete of terms. Americans will live shorter, meaner, POORER, unhappier, lonelier, and more desperate lives than they already do - and already they are at the bottom of the list of rich countries, if not far below. Their lives will resemble those of RUSSIANS, in a great and funny cosmic irony.

I want you to really understand this point - because it has the truest reason of all behind it. How do the authoritarians really hang on to power, for so long, decades sometimes - even when whole societies seem to despise them? They make everyone powerless. They shatter them inside and out, destroy their social bonds, taking away the resources, institutions, norms, rights, and privileges they once had to live good and decent lives. And then they dangle all those things right back in front of people, saying: if you do what we say - you will live just as well you used to! You will live a normal life again. Wouldnt you like that? All you have to do is lick our boots. Just a little taste. A taste of dirt, for a taste of freedom. Isn’t that only fair? And when a person has been subjugated for long enough, there is little they won’t do, no one they wont turn on, just to get back even a small part of the dignity, freedom, and power they once had.

Do you see how the game works? Authoritarians build societies where the hold the power to take everything away from you - your identity, dignity, pride, place, status, family, rank - nd then use that very threat to tempt you into betraying everything and everyone that you should hold dear. That is the game the Soviets, the Maoists, the Nazis, and all the monsters throughout history have played. Americans, funnily enough, have played it too - with poorer, weaker nations. And the great irony is now they are playing it upon themselves. How foolish. How sad. How strange. Sorry, Americans. Your future is not a happy one.

Now, you are quite right to ask at this (alarming) juncture - but is the way it has to be?!” The answer, of course, is no. The future is like the sky. Nothing is written on it forever. Americans have a few short months to change their destiny. But after those months are gone, alas - the time will have gone, too, when the future could have been altered. Nothing is written on futurity forever. But once the hand of history begins to write, its not so easily stopped.

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Posted by Elvis on 07/28/18 •
Section Dying America
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Thursday, July 26, 2018

Rising Of Global Unions Part 2

image: solidarity

I wish it would have taken a little less than 12 YEARS SINCE PART ONE of this series.

For a another eye-opening report on how bad working for this company is in America - see the Chris Hedges show with JESSICA BRUDER on AMAZONBIES.

Now ask yourself - what’s wrong with Americans that they - we - didn’t join the MULTI-COUNTRY STRIKE?

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How European Workers Coordinated This Months Massive Amazon Strike - And What Comes Next

By Rebecca Burns
In These Times
July 28, 2018

As Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos net worth topped $150 billion last week, making him the richest man in modern history, thousands of Amazon workers across Europe went on strike.

The work stoppage, which lasted three days at some facilities, was one of the largest labor actions against Amazon to date, and the first to receive widespread coverage in the U.S. media. But the strikes and protests in Spain, Germany and Poland were just the latest in an escalating series of actions against Amazon in Europe, where workers belonging to both conventional unions and militant workers’ organizations are forging a transnational movement against the internet juggernaut.

In Germany, which is Amazon’s second-biggest market after the United States, workers at the company’s fulfillment centers waged the first-ever strike against Amazon in 2013. “In the beginning, it was purely about wages, about being able to pay for the cost of living,” says Lena Widmann, a federal secretary and spokesperson for the German services union Verdi. “Now its also about respect, and about being heard.”

After the first strikes, Amazon began to give German workers regular raises. It also made improvements to ventilation and lighting in some of its warehouses, and, in response to worker complaints about the physical and psychological toll of on-the-job requirements, added a “fruit day” with company-furnished fruit baskets.

But Amazon has refused to codify even these modest changes through a collective bargaining agreement. The union estimates that approximately 2,400 workers at six of the company’s fulfillment centers in Germany participated in last week’d three-day strike, out of about 16,000 that Amazon employs in Germany. Organizers will continue pushing to incorporate more workers in shop-floor organization, to contact new facilities that Amazon has opened in the past year, and, ultimately, to win a union contract.

“We’re talking about a long fight ahead it’s not going to be solved by Christmas, and our members are very aware of this,” says Widmann. “But more and more people are joining the movement.”

In a statement responding to the strikes, an Amazon spokesperson said, “Amazon is a fair and responsible employer and as such we are committed to dialogue, which is an inseparable part of our culture. We are committed to ensuring a fair cooperation with all our employees, including positive working conditions and a caring and inclusive environment.”

In 2014, Amazon began to open warehouses in Poland, where wages are lower and labor laws are laxer. A chapter in the 2018 book CHOKE POINTS: Logistics Workers Disrupt the Global Supply Chain describes working conditions in the Polish warehouses:

Most employees have to work standing or walking (some for several miles during one shift), and many jobs involve highly repetitive movements, lifting heavy goods and boxes, or pushing heavy carts. Amazon wants the warehouses running day and night. Therefore, workers in Poland have to work four 10-hour shifts per week, with an additional unpaid 30 minutes break. The shifts schedule changes every month from day shift. Such a shift system and shift rotation disturbs workersԒ sleeping rhythm and leads to serious health problems. In addition, it makes it difficult to organise a private life.

To bring down the sickness rate, Amazon Poland hired a company in spring 2017 which checks whether workers are at home during sick leave. A worker who was dismissed because of a sick leave wrote: “At Amazon we hear about safety every day, about health, but the reality is different. Not everyone can keep up the race at Amazon. People are treated like machines. But even machines fail and stand still. We are not allowed to do that.”

Moreover, Amazon’s expansion into Eastern Europe threatened to undercut the effectiveness of strikes being waged by German workers. So in 2015, rank-and-file activists Germany and Poland held the first of what became a series of cross-border meetings of Amazon workers. Polish workers have organized within Inicjatywa Pracownicza (Workers’ Initiative), a radical trade union that uses the black sabo-tabby as its logo. Polish labor law imposes a restrictive bar on strike actions more than half of an entire workforce must participate in a strike vote - but Polish Amazon workers have carried out a series of slowdowns to coincide with ongoing strikes in Germany. 

Coordination between Amazon workers in different countries taking place through cross-border meetings of rank-and-file workers, as well as the labor federation UNI - has played an important role in ramping up strike action elsewhere in Europe. When Italian Amazon workers first went on strike in November 2017, they were joined by Verdi members for a two-day work stoppage during Black Friday. Soon after, Amazon signed its first-ever collective bargaining agreement with Italian unions, which introduced new scheduling protections and wage increases for overnight shifts. 

The call for a Europe-wide strike during Prime Day was issued by Spanish Amazon workers, who first struck in March at the country’s logistics center in Madrid. The Spanish labor union “Confederacion Sindical de Comisiones Obreras” (CCOO), which is the majority union for Amazon workers at a national level, declared the strike a “complete success,” with a reported 98 percent of the 2,000-person workforce taking part.

However, the strike also reportedly led to reprisals and firings of temporary workers, and in May a group of Madrid workers issued a call for a Europe-wide strike under the name “Amazon en Lucha.”

“We know that Amazon is using its logistic network in Europe to counter the effect of our respective strikes,” wrote its authors. “We in Madrid believe that only if we struggle together will we gain recognition for our demands”. Similarly, only with a joint action at a European level will workers organize in those places where there is no union representation yet.

In addition to strikes and slowdowns in Spain, Germany and Poland, Amazon workers in Great Britain marched over the weekend in a festival celebrating the birth of trade unionism, holding signs reading “We Are Humans, Not Robots.” An estimated 87 percent of U.K. Amazon workers have back or neck problems, according to a survey by the trade union GMB. 

“Amazon is a global company and uses global tactics, GMB official Mick Rix told El Pais. ԓWe have to do the same.”

SOURCE

Posted by Elvis on 07/26/18 •
Section American Solidarity
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Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Lazy Bum

image: deeadbeat

The modern world has witnessed a dramatic breakthrough of the dark, negative forces of human nature. The “old ethic,” which pursued an illusory perfection by repressing the dark side, has lost its power to deal with contemporary problems. Erich Neumann was convinced that the deadliest peril now confronting humanity lay in the “scapegoat” psychology associated with the old ethic. We are in the grip of this psychology when we project our own dark shadow onto an individual or group identified as our “enemy,” failing to see it in ourselves. The only effective alternative to this dangerous shadow projection is shadow recognition, acknowledgement, and integration into the totality of the self. Wholeness, not perfection, is the goal of the new ethic.
- Erich Neumann, Depth Psychology and a New Ethic

“A man willing to work, and unable to find work, is perhaps the saddest sight that fortune’s inequality exhibits under this sun.”
- Thomas Carlyle

Just because a person attempts suicide doesn’t mean they want to die. Rather, often they have lost what I call the, “power of hope” When faced with a BAD SITUATION that has NO END IN SIGHT, coupled with the helpless feeling that NOTHING YOU CAN DO will make a difference, it’s all too easy to LOSE HOPE. AT SOME POINT suicide for some becomes a viable option, rather than CONTINUNG TO FACE the constant pain and suffering that life has become. If you can give someone who is contemplating suicide merely the glimmer of hope, that is often enough to get them through the rough patch to consider other options.
- White, Middle-Age Suicide In America Skyrocket

“Sometimes when life gives you a million reasons to not want to stay, you need just one person that looks at you, listens to you, helps you get help and validates how you feel.”
- Lady Gaga

Somewhere today, perhaps while you were reading this, someone has taken their life because they felt useless, with no hope of gainful employment, their self-esteem ground down, the sense of meaning and connection severed by redundancy and societal disconnection.
- Unemployment is Killing People

The exterminator made his yearly visit a few months ago.

I spent about an hour the day before trying to clean the place up because I haven’t mopped the kitchen floor, vacuumed the rugs, or cleaned my toilet bowl - since he came over last year.

It sure looks like I’m LAZY, but all the moping around is from depression that weighs me down LIKE AN ANCHOR:

Brittany Ernsperger’s depression and anxiety were so overwhelming she couldn’t even wash the dishes. The messy kitchen made her feel like a failure, which made finishing the dishes even more challenging.

“I walked by them morning and night and all day long,” Ernsperger wrote in a Facebook post. “And just looked at them. Telling myself that I could do them. Telling myself that I would. And feeling defeated everyday that I didn’t.”

Last month my only relative brushed me off. The same cousin who I grew up with, and closest thing to a brother - who invited me to COME LIVE IN HIS BASEMENT IF THE HOUSE GETS FORECLOSED ON - is tired of listening to my venting, and tired of giving me PEP TALKS when I talk about how depressing the experience of hunting for a job year after year is, and HOW FRIGHTENED OF THE FUTURE I am:

Polls show that most older people are more worried about running out of money than dying.

It HURTS:

Emotional recovery also requires a huge mental effort. “It’s increasingly well-known that the brain [registers] not just absolute amounts but losses and gains

losses loom twice as large as gains, leading to an effect known as LOSS AVERSION.

I’m not a LAZY BUM, and opening up and talking to you about my deepest, darkest fears - means I trust you, and am asking for your help.

Yeah, THE NEWS SAYS unemployment IS LESS THAN FIVE PERCENT, but those numbers CAN’T BE RIGHT:

The 5% unemployment rate, other words, is hiding the devastating story of underemployment, wage loss, and precariousness that defines life for millions of Americans.

The jobless number is “low” only because more people are no longer considered to be participating in the workforce.

Many move in and out of “non-participation,” according to Federal Reserve analysts, alternating between searching for a job and giving up in desperation.

the government has FAILED TO COME UP WITH A PLAN that adequately supports these people.

Many of the long-term unemployed are older workers who once had stable middle-class jobs with benefits.

So many of us are STILL long-term unemployed or underemployed, and haven’t found a foothold to get back on the ladder of a prosperous, happy and financially stable life.

Yeah, some people kill themselves from loosing everything - in fact A LOT DO:

Suicides associated with unemployment totalled a nine-fold higher number of deaths than excess suicides attributed to the most recent economic crisis.

Give me a little credit for TRYING TO STAY STRONG and alive all these years.

Why are the long-term unemployed looked down on as lazy bums?

A new-ager may try to convince you that your job-loss and feeling like the ultimate looser is a lesson for your highest good; a Catholic may say God only gives you as much pain as you can handle, and this is some kind of test of faith; a Baptist may say you’re not praying to God right and offer some tips for a tithe; a JEHOVAH WITNESS will tell you to read their book for the answers to all life’s problems; and the Bible teaches us we reap what we sow.

The common PSYCHOLOGICAL THREAD goes back to the JUST WORLD BELIEF:

Some studies, such as those showing that long-term unemployment causes emotional anguish as well as economic stress, may elicit sympathy.

On the other hand, its not hard to find articles emphasizing that the long-term unemployed are lucky to have so much free time, or suggesting that they’re better off than they were in previous eras because they are more likely to have a working spouse.

In other words, maybe the unemployed and those who are most worried about them should just stop whining.

The moral and emotional tenor of the debate over extending unemployment benefits is consistent with psychological research showing that we all like to BELIEVE that people generally get what they deserve.

So, deep down inside we believe the world is fair, and all get what we deserve - and will do anything to justify those BELIEFS.

That’s why we get all those people calling us lazy bums.

Imagine an attractive young lady rape victim.

People will either 1.) say she deserved to get raped wearing that hot looking outfit - hate her, and spit in her face, or 2.) believe she’s an innocent victim and run to her rescue.

When your relatives and friends brush you off from being unemployed for so long - they’re saying, and believing - you’re bad. A double whammy for those already depressed and SUICIDAL.

HOW DO YOU DEAL WITH IT when even your family disowns you?

Being depressed while you are unemployed is the worst. If you are also socially isolated or being excluded from social contact then you have just about the worst situation

It is really hard to stop yourself from continuing with a negative frame of mind if you are also being unsuccessful in your job searching

Understanding the psychology makes it easier to forgive.

But the pain is like a knife plunged though my heart.

With nobody around to help stop the bleeding.

Posted by Elvis on 07/25/18 •
Section Personal
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