Article 43


Dying America

Friday, December 15, 2006

Apalling Labor Practices Of Unions Part 3

Transcriptfom Lou Dobbs Tonight reveals the meat packing workers ARRESTED YESTERDAY are ILLEGAL ALIENS represented by an American labor union - the UNITED FOOD AND COMMERCIAL WORKERS union.


Lou Dobbs Tonight
December 14, 2006

Mexico is asking the United States government to release mothers who were arrested so they can care for their American-born children. And the UNITED FOOD AND COMMERCIAL WORKERS UNION said the agents terrorized those workers in an outrageous DISPLAY OF FORCE.

Marc Lauritsen is the union’s international vice president. He joins us tonight. Marc, good to have you here.

MARC LAURITSEN, UNITED FOOD AND COMMERCIAL WORKERS: Thanks for having me, Lou. DOBBS: I’m sort of astonished to hear you say that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents terrorized workers. I mean, that’s pretty strong language, particularly at a time when we’re engaged in a war on terror?

LAURITSEN: Well Lou, let’s take a look at what happened two days ago. 13,000 people, they went to work, they expected their lives to go on as normal. But what truly happened was when they got to work, these plants were surrounded, the gates were locked.

The agents swarmed in with military-type weapons and full riot gear. They stood up on tables and segregated people strictly by their skin color. They gave people that look like me, blonde hair and blue eyed, blue bands and said you are free to go.

DOBBS: So they’re racist as well as terrorists, is that what you’re saying?

LAURITSEN: What they did was—with those military weapons. They detained thousands of people under military style tactics. What did ...

DOBBS: ... Military style tactics or law enforcement? Excuse me, Marc, let’s be honest here. How would you distinguish these tactics from the tactics taken by law enforcement agencies in a number of circumstances?

LAURITSEN: But you bring a good point up. What was this about? According to the court records, this was about 170 people that ICE knew the name of that were working in those facilities.

And instead of going in and strategically removing them, they stormed into the plants and they terrorized 13,000 people so they could extract 170. Let me put it this way, I applaud what ICE did in Louisville, Kentucky with the same employer.

They went in very quietly and they extracted those allegedly were engaged in identity theft. They had the capability to do it. This was not about identity theft. This was about them making a splash. And what did they do in this splash? They turned communities upside down. They took breast-feeding babies away from their mothers and left students as young as six-years-old at schools with nothing—no one to call home to. Nobody to take them home.

DOBBS: Let me ask you this, because I think a lot of people might be taken aback that the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union is involved in this at all. What is your case—what is your role in all of this?

LAURITSEN: These are working Americans. They’re working men and women…

DOBBS: ... No, no, they’re—wait, whoa, whoa, partner, whoa, whoa. You said these are working Americans. We’ve got the Mexican government saying they’re working Mexican nationals. Which are ?

LAURITSEN: All right, well, I apologize. Let’s say it this way. These are working men and women. Many of them who were here under legal status.

DOBBS: OK, they’re men and women, we can buy that.

LAURITSEN: Let me tell you about Walter Malina (ph) from Grand Island, Nebraska, who is a perfectly—he was…

DOBBS: ... We have some time constraints and I understand that you’re trying to bring forth the story of the humanity—the human issues here and we commiserate.

LAURITSEN: Or the lack of humanity.

DOBBS: But what I don’t understand—I’m sorry?

LAURITSEN: Or the lack of humanity that was used in this situation. That’s what was needed, was a little humanity when they removed these people. And there are still people who…

DOBBS: ... my question is what is your union doing involved with employees who are illegal aliens, who have in 170 cases, been charged with stealing the identity of American citizens that work there and the workforce, 18 percent of which was illegal? What was your role in all of that?

LAURITSEN: Our role is to represent workers and to see that working people in this country get their shake.

DOBBS: Workers or legal workers?

LAURITSEN: They’re people that are working in these facilities that need a fair shake.

DOBBS: No, they’re people working, we understand. Did you check to see whether or not they’re legal before you represent them?

LAURITSEN: Our job is to represent people that work in slaughter houses. That’s what we do.

DOBBS: So you don’t have a responsibility as a union to obey American law?

LAURITSEN: We represent people that work in these facilities. We don’t hire them. We represent them.

DOBBS: OK, let me ask you—since you won’t acknowledge a responsibility for that, will you acknowledge a responsibility for the wages they’re paid? What of their wages—how much of their wages risen over the last 20 years, Marc, in those meat packing plants?

LAURITSEN: Lou, you and I both know—I know where you’re going and you and I both know that workers don’t depress wages. Corporations depress wages and they depress wages by using a broken immigration system.

DOBBS: No, partner. No, you and I both know—Marc, you and I both know that corporations have to pay living wages if there isn’t an influx of illegal labor or surplus labor. And the reason there’s a surplus labor, the very people you’re supposed to be representing, American workers have watched their wages drop from $19 to $9 an hour because you’re willing to make no distinction between an illegal worker in this country and a lawful, legal American citizen. And that is your responsibility.

LAURITSEN: No, what’s happened here is that corporations throughout this country have exploited a broken immigration system for their own advantage.

DOBBS: Oh, I couldn’t agree with you more.

LAURITSEN: This government needs to get on the stick. The Republican Congress that was just voted out of office promised us ...

DOBBS: ... you and I agree Marc, this government is a joke. This government is dysfunctional, it’s irresponsible to the point of criminal negligence. Do we agree?

LAURITSEN: And what I will tell you Lou—and what I will tell you is what you saw two days ago at these meat packing plants was this administration and this government’s another bungling of a job that could have been done a lot better. This government bungled it and that’s what they have done.

DOBBS: And Marc, how do you explain to your membership, American citizens paying your union dues that you’re come complicit in driving their wages down by participating in the exploitation of these illegal workers?

LAURITSEN: Well, I disagree. We’re the ones that are driving those wages up. We’re pushing them up as best we can.

DOBBS: You’re driving them up? You’re kidding? Name another industry that’s lost 50 percent of its wage power over the course of the last 20 years.

LAURITSEN: Well, that’s not exactly the truth. The wages in this industry have actually ...

DOBBS: ... Well no, it’s actually worse than that, from $19 to $9 an hour.


LAURITSEN: No, first of all the starting wage in those union meat packing plants is about $11 an hour and goes as high as $23 an hour, depending on your job.

DOBBS: Marc, we’ll continue this conversation later. It’s a very simple thing. You’re either part of the problem or you’re part of the solution. If you feel good about where you are, that’s fine. It’s America and we appreciate you being here.

LAURITSEN: I look forward to continuing the conversation.

DOBBS: Our pleasure, come back any time.



Posted by Elvis on 12/15/06 •
Section Dying America
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Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Flattening the Great Education Myth

By David Sirota
San Francisco Chronicle
December 5, 2006

homework.jpg Image by Peter Nicholson

Helena is not the kind of place that top government officials, business leaders or Washington pundits usually think of when they discuss international trade policy. That’s too bad, because had they attended the community meeting in this mountain hamlet last month, they would have seen firsthand how powerless middle America is in what has become a vacuum of national leadership on globalization.

The meeting was entitled “A Flattened World Hits Home” and billed as an effort to apply the lessons of author Thomas Friedman’s free-trade bible, “The World Is Flat,” to the rural outpost of Montana. Friedman himself could not be there, the panel moderator told us - the town couldn’t afford his $75,000-a-speech fee and first-class plane ticket. But we would just watch a video of a recent lecture the author had given.

I surveyed the scene as Friedman’s happy talk about globalization and job outsourcing echoed through the wood-paneled Montana Club—the gathering spot for the town’s old guard—where the meeting was taking place. The crowd was a mix of businesspeople, state government workers, school teachers, and in the back, high-school students.

As the New York Times columnist rattled off the wonders of technology - “Isn’t Linux great?” “Wireless is the steroids of the flat world” - the group was dead silent as it listened to an enthusiastic and joyful Friedman telling the story of how, thanks to a “flat” world brought on by America’s “free” trade policy, our country’s workers and small businesses must now compete with slave labor and desperate conditions in places like China and Bangladesh.

Then it was time for panel discussion. How would our community deal with the “flat world” that Friedman gushed about?

“We need to increase educational opportunity,” said Tyler Trevor, an aide to Montana’s commissioner of higher education. “We have to create our own educational capital here.”

“We don’t invest in good teaching practices,” said Bruce Messinger, Helena’s superintendent of schools. “We have to make sure our teachers are using the best methods.”

All said exactly what Friedman said at the end of his videotape: “Kids need to learn how to learn” in order to compete in the “flat world.”

Sadly, the hard data tells us that, as comforting as this Great Education Myth is, we cannot school our way out of the problems accompanying a national trade policy devoid of wage, environmental and human-rights protections.

As Fortune Magazine reported last year, ”The skill premium, the extra value of higher education, must have declined after three decades of growing.” Citing the U.S. government’s Economic Report of the President, the magazine noted that ”real annual earnings of college graduates actually declined” between 2000 and 2004. The magazine also noted that new studies “show companies massively shifting high-skilled work—research, development, engineering, even corporate finance—from the United States to low-cost countries like India and China.”

It’s not that workers in these other countries are smarter, says Sheldon Steinbach of the American Council on Education. “One could be educationally competitive and easily lose out in the global economic marketplace,” he told the Los Angeles Times. Why? “Because of significantly lower wages being paid elsewhere.”

Pundits, such as Friedman and the Washington policymakers who follow him, see the data and understand this reality, and yet continue preaching their “free” trade fundamentalism to the delight of corporate lobbyists whose clients’ profits are expanding under the status quo.

But while the Beltway elite can be blamed for this calculated trickery, community leaders similar to those at the Helena meeting have no choice but to keep faith in the Great Education Myth. Local leaders, earnestly trying to do good, must force themselves to think that if only they work harder to make their schools and colleges better, they can avoid the harsh consequences of lobbyist-written federal trade, tax and economic policies that reward job outsourcing.

It all highlights one simple truth: Unless communities demand their congressional representatives add protections to our national trade policy to make sure our workers are not forced to compete with slave labor, middle America will not benefit from the “flat” world, but rather will be flattened altogether.

David Sirota is the author of “Hostile Takeover” (Crown, 2006). He is a Democratic strategist who lives in Helena, Mont.



Posted by Elvis on 12/06/06 •
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Tuesday, December 05, 2006

The Next Recession Part 3

Economic Forecast Blames Housing Decline

November 29, 2006

The recovery that began in November of 2001 is likely to COME TO AN END in 2007. The main factor pushing the economy into RECESION will be weakness in the housing market. The housing market had been the primary fuel for the recovery until the last year, as there was an unprecedented run-up in house prices since 1997. With prices now headed downward, construction and home sales have dropped off by almost 20 percent against year ago levels. Even more importantly, borrowing against home equity, which had been the main factor fueling consumption growth, will plummet as many homeowners lack any further equity to borrow against. The result will be a downturn in consumption spending, which together with plunging housing investment, will likely push the economy into recession. The economy will see a substantial net loss of jobs, with nominal wage growth slowing as the labor market weakens over the course of the year.


This recovery has been fueled to a very large extent by a HOUSING BUBBLE, just as the second half of the nineties cycle was fueled by a stock bubble. Since 1997, average house prices have risen by more than 50 percent, after adjusting for inflation. Historically, house prices have moved at approximately the same pace as the overall rate of inflation.1 This unprecedented run-up has not been associated with extraordinary population or income growth, both of which have been below their average pace for the post-war years since 2000. It is also not associated with any new restrictions on supply, as housing construction was at near record levels over the period 2003-2005. The run-up in house sale prices was also not associated with any extraordinary increase in rents, which rose only slightly more rapidly than the overall rate of inflation over this period. In short, the run-up in house prices cannot be explained except as a speculative bubble.

This bubble fueled the economy directly through its impact on the housing sector and indirectly through the impact that housing wealth had on consumption. HOUSING CONSTRUCTION and sales account for more than six percent of GDP. The run-up in prices has led to a near doubling of sales of new and existing homes since the mid-nineties. It has also led to record nationwide vacancy rates for both rental and owner occupied housing. In past downturns housing investment has fallen by 30-40 percent. The sector has never seen as much overbuilding as it has experienced in the current cycle. Also, with the huge baby boom cohort now entering its retirement years, demand for housing should be shrinking relative to the size of the population in the years ahead. Based on past patterns, it is reasonable to expect a drop in output in the housing sector from its 2005 peaks of at least 40 percent. It should reach this bottom by the end of 2007 or early 2008 at the latest.

The wealth effect created by the housing bubble fueled an extraordinary surge in consumption over the last five years, as savings actually turned negative. (The country’s demographics, with most of the baby boom cohort still in its prime saving years, is heavily tilted toward saving.) The run-up in prices created $5 trillion in excess housing wealth. Conventional estimates of the size of the housing wealth effect imply that this wealth would have generated an additional $200-$300 billion of consumption (1.6-2.3 percent of GDP).

It is plausible that the impact of this bubble wealth was actually considerably larger than the conventional estimates imply. Historically, the saving rate in the United States had averaged close to eight percent of disposable income. The SAVINGS rate began to decline sharply in the nineties, at least partially in response to the stock bubble, although other factors likely played a role. However, even assuming a baseline savings rate of just four percent, the current rate of -1 percent implies an amount of excess consumption of almost $480 billion annually, given current income levels. This higher figure is consistent with data showing that households were borrowing more than $600 billion annually against their home equity in 2005.

This home equity-fueled consumption will be sharply curtailed in the near future. In spite of the record run-up in house prices, the ratio of homeowners’ equity to market value stood at a record low in the second quarter of 2006. (This is especially striking since the baby boom cohort is now ages 42-60 and would be expected to have accumulated considerable equity in their homes.) With house prices now falling, the number of homeowners who have exhausted the ability to borrow against their home will rise rapidly. A sharp run-up in credit card DEBT earlier this year provides evidence that this is already happening, as people who were unable to borrow against their homes likely turned to their credit cards. However, credit card BORROWING CANNOT REPLACE borrowing against home equity (the volume of outstanding credit card debt is less than one tenth of the volume of mortgage debt); millions of homeowners will soon be forced to curtail their consumption as home prices decline.

Homeowners will also be hit by the resetting of more than $2 trillion in ADJUSTABLE RATE MORTGAGES in 2006 and 2007. While most homeowners in the United States have generally opted for fixed rate mortgages, adjustable rate mortgages have become far more popular in the last five years. This is especially striking, since the mortgage rate available on fixed rate mortgages was at its lowest level in fifty years. Presumably, homebuyers opted for adjustable rate mortgages to take advantage of the lower starting rate. Typically, this rate is locked in for a period of three years. More than 30 percent of the mortgages issued in 2003 and 2004 had adjustable rates, which were record years for mortgage financing. The lock-in period on these mortgages is ending in 2006-07. In many cases the interest rate is resetting upward by close to two percentage points. This will be a major strain for many homeowners who were already struggling to meet mortgage payments on over-priced houses. Some homeowners will be unable to meet these higher payments and forced to sell, putting further downward pressure on the housing market.

There also will be an increase in default rates, as many homeowners will be unable to meet mortgage payments and unable or unwilling to sell their homes. The rise in defaults will put severe strains on the portions of the financial industry that hold large amounts of mortgage debt.

The turnaround in the housing market has already begun to affect the economy. There was a marked slowdown in consumption growth beginning in the second quarter, which has continued into the third quarter according to currently available data. At the least, it seems that the savings rate is no longer declining. It is likely to begin rising in the near future, and will almost certainly have moved into positive territory by early 2007. This means that consumption growth will be trailing income growth.

With the housing and consumer sectors both showing weakness, there is little prospect that growth in other sectors will be able to offset this drag on growth. The continuing large budget deficits rule out any substantial boosts to government spending or further tax cuts. State and local governments are in better financial shape, but this is driven in part by higher property tax collections, which in turn are based on the run-up in house prices. With house prices moving downward in many areas, tax collections are likely to fall in the near future also.

Investment spending has weakened in recent months, following the slower growth in consumption. Measures of capacity utilization have already fallen substantially from the not very high levels reached in the spring. While investment growth may stay positive in 2007, it is likely to be slower than it was in 2005 and the beginning of 2006. It will provide little offset to the downturn in housing and consumption.


The Next Recession
PART 1 - PART 2 - PART 3 - PART 4 - PART 5 - PART 6 - PART 7 - PART 8 - PART 9 - PART 10 - PART 11 - PART 12 - PART 13

Posted by Elvis on 12/05/06 •
Section Dying America • Section Next Recession, Next Depression
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Monday, December 04, 2006

Democracy Hollowed Out Part 12


RIAA Wants The Internet Shut Down

By Nick Farrell
The Inquirer
November 29, 2006

ONE OF THE lawyers involved in defending cases bought against people by the RIAA claims that if the music industry wins a crucial case, the Internet will have to be switched off.

Speaking on the DEFECTIVE BY DESIGN anti-DRM campaign site, Ray Beckerman said the case of Electro vs. Barker has become very important for the web’s future.

Barker was being defended by Beckerman who made a motion to dismiss the case because the RIAA had forgot to provide any acts or dates or times of copyright infringement as the law normally requires.

The RIAA argued that by merely making files available on the Internet Barker was making a copyright infringement.

Beckerman said that it was a shocking argument because if it were accepted by the court it would probably shut down the entire Internet. If you send any file on the Net the RIAA will be allowed to suspect that you are in breach of copyright.

What was more disturbing is that the RIAA called up its mates in Washington to back it up. Apparently the United States Government has put in motions supporting the RIAA. 


Democracy Hollowed Out
PART 1 - PART 2 - PART 3 - PART 4 - PART 5
PART 6 - PART 7 - PART 8 - PART 9 - PART 10
PART 11 - PART 12 - PART 13 - PART 14 - PART 15
PART 16 - PART 17 - PART 18

Posted by Elvis on 12/04/06 •
Section Dying America
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Thursday, November 23, 2006

US War On Liberty

Bushs Defeated Foe: US Civil Liberty

By Paul Craig Roberts
Informatin Clearinghhouse
November 22, 2006

George Orwell warned us, but what American would have expected that in the opening years of the 21st century the United States would become a country in which lies and deception by the President and Vice President were the basis for a foreign policy of war and aggression, and in which indefinite DETENTION WITHOUT CHARGES, torture, and SPYING on citizens WITHOUT WARRANTS have displaced the Bill of Rights and the US Constitution?

If anyone had predicted that the election of George W. Bush to the presidency would result in an American police state and illegal wars of aggression, he would have been dismissed as a lunatic.

What American ever would have thought that any US president and attorney general would defend torture or that a Republican Congress would pass a bill legalizing torture by the executive branch and exempting the executive branch from the Geneva Conventions?

What American ever would have expected the US Congress to accept the presidents claim that he is above the law?

What American could have imagined that if such crimes and travesties occurred, nothing would be done about them and that the media and opposition party would be largely silent?

Except for a few columnists, who are denounced by “conservatives” as traitors for defending the Bill of Rights, the defense of US civil liberty has been limited to the AMERICAN CIVIL LIBERTIES UNION, AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL, and HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH. The few federal judges who have refused to genuflect before the Bush police state are denounced by attorney general Alberto Gonzales as a ԓgrave threat to US security. Vice president Richard Cheney called a federal judgeԒs ruling against the Bush regimes illegal and unconstitutional warrantless surveillance program ғan indefensible act of judicial overreaching.

Brainwashed ԓconservatives are so accustomed to denouncing federal judges for ԓjudicial activism that CheneyԒs charge of overreach goes down smoothly. Vast percentages of the American public are simply unconcerned that their liberty can be revoked at the discretion of a police or military officer and that they can be held without evidence, trial or access to attorney and tortured until they confess to whatever charge their torturers wish to impose.

Americans believe that such things can only happen to real terrorists,Ӕ despite the overwhelming evidence that most of the Bush regimes detainees have no connections to terrorism.

When these points are made to fellow citizens, the reply is usually that ғIm doing nothing wrong. I have nothing to fear.Ҕ

Why, then, did the Founding Fathers writethe Constitution and the Bill of Rights?

American liberties are the result of an 800 year struggle by the English people to make law a shield of the people instead of a weapon in the hands of government. For centuries English speaking peoples have understood that governments cannot be trusted with unaccountable power. If the Founding Fathers believed it was necessary to tie down a very weak and limited central government with the Constitution and Bill of Rights, these protections are certainly more necessary now that our government has grown in size, scope and power beyond the imagination of the Founding Fathers.

But, alas, law and order conservativesӔ have been brainwashed for decades that civil liberties are unnecessary interferences with the ability of police to protect us from criminals. Americans have forgot that we need protection from government more than we need protection from criminals. Once we cut down civil liberty so that police may better pursue criminals and terrorists, where do we stand when government turns on us?

This is the famous question asked by Sir Thomas More in the play, A Man for All Seasons. The answer is that we stand naked, unprotected by law. It is an act of the utmost ignorance and stupidity to assume that only criminals and terrorists will stand unprotected.

Americans should be roused to fury that attorney general Alberto Gonzales and vice president Cheney have condemned the defense of American civil liberty as a grave threat to US security.Ӕ This blatant use of an orchestrated and propagandistic fear to create a national securityӔ wedge against the Bill of Rights is an impeachable offense.

Mark my words, the future of civil liberty in the US depends on the impeachment and conviction of Bush, Cheney, and Gonzales.

Paul Craig Roberts , was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury in the Reagan Administration. He is the author of Supply-Side Revolution : An Insider’s Account of Policymaking in Washington ; Alienation and the Soviet Economy and Meltdown: Inside the Soviet Economy, and is the co-author with Lawrence M. Stratton of The Tyranny of Good Intentions : How Prosecutors and Bureaucrats Are Trampling the Constitution in the Name of Justice.


Posted by Elvis on 11/23/06 •
Section Dying America
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