Race To The Bottom

Over at The Zeitgeist: Lay off the Kool-aid Tom…:

“I’ve been a software developer since the late 1970s when I was running my own business in high-school. I was a VP in technology on Wall St. for many years, and even helped jump-start this whole Internet thing by putting JPMorgan & Co. on the Internet back in early 1991 — JPMorgan was the very first bank in the world on the Internet — and helping to fund the development of a little program called Mosaic (which later became Netscape). I’ve run my own consulting business. I am the founder of a start-up. God help me.

I am 41, I’ve got 25 years in this business and I know lots and lots and lots of people. I have never seen such pessimism from so many smart, smart people before. Why are they so blue? Its simple:

They know that no matter how hard they work, no matter how many degrees they have, no matter how much have contributed/created in the past, and no matter how much they are capable of creating in the future — it doesn’t matter one bit. They’re all toast. Because you see, its not about training, or capability, or creativity, or past contributions, or future potential… its only about cost. And there’s no way they can win.

Ask any employer who’s fired their IT people. they’ll tell you: It doesn’t matter what their American staff was capable of creating or achieving. They just don’t want Americans, no matter what. Its all about a race to the bottom; a race to see who can get away with paying the least.

With about 3 Billion people in the world willing to work for pennies, and with selfish, greedy, thoughtless corporate thugs willing to put the shaft to Americans and others who made our high-technology world possible, there’s no possible way for American (or other) workers to survive. There’s just no competing with essentially free labor.”

I don’t think the job loss situation is about “trade” at all. I think the use of the terms “trade” and “free trade” are clever ways to distract from the real problem. “Trade” sounds great, OF COURSE we should “trade” with others. Duh! But the arguments I have heard promoting sending jobs offshore are pretty much the same argument as those for getting rid of the minimum wage, for not having unions, for workers keeping quiet, doing what they’re told and being grateful that they have food and shelter at all. As I wrote the other day in Trade, Jobs and the Ongoing Struggle,

“Show me where the current trade arguments are different from the minimum wage arguments? They argue that raising (or even having) a minimum wage keeps the poor from getting jobs. And they argue that asking trade partners to protect workers rights and safety and pay higher wages keeps THEIR poor from getting jobs.”

I think this is about the moneyed interests — corporations in this case — being able to make use of global unemployment to drive down not just wages and benefits (costs) but also the power of workers. This is about the struggle between labor and capital that has been going on and will go on. Since they started shipping jobs to Mexico they have been able to substantially weaken the unions and by weakening the unions they have weakened the power of the Democratic coalition (with some help from Ralph).

It seems that the question, Who is our economy FOR, anyway? gets more and more relevant every day.

Who Are "Vietnam Vets Against John Kerry"?

Kerry’s positions on defense issues and his opposition to the Vietnam War are both legitimate political issues and well worthy of discussion. However, the motivation of this anti-Kerry demonstration is quite dubious.

The leader of “Vietnam Veterans Against John Kerry”, Ted Sampley, is a con man who has been making an excellent living off his POW-MIA non-profit organization. Sampley was one of those who helped George W. Bush smear John McCain in the 2000 Republican primary.

In McCain’s words: “I am well familiar with Mr. Sampley, and I know him to be one of the most despicable people I have ever had the misfortune to encounter. I consider him a fraud who preys on the hopes of family members of missing servicemen for his own profit.”

Ironically, one of the operatives attacking McCain for Bush, Thomas Burch, attacked the first President Bush in 1988 for naming the National Guardsman Dan Quayle as his Vice Presidential candidate! Apparently it’s not just Democrats who have questions about the Vietnam-era National Guard.

Vietnam Veterans Against John Kerry

McCain on Sampley

Sampley’s non-profit; Burch

More on Burch and Sampley

2000 McCain smear; Burch attacking Bush the First

Conason on McCain and Kerry Smears

In October? No Surprise.

Over at Calpundit Kevin says:

“The idea that the Bush administration is somehow keeping Osama under wraps in order to spring an ‘October Surprise’ that will guarantee their reelection is a common topic of gossip, but not something that anyone (yet) has been willing to broach in serious news pages — and for pretty obvious reasons.”

What are the obvious reasons? Thinking this through, (sorry, Tom), I can come up with a number of reasons but there aren’t any obvious ones – at least to me.

Is Kevin saying that it is obvious the press isn’t picking this up because it’s a wild, fringe idea that the Bush people might do something like this? How wild is it when you consider that this is the crowd that took the country to war against a country that had not attacked or even threatened us instead of finishing the task of capturing or killing the terrorists who attacked us on 9/11? AND that this is the crowd that used the timing of that war to manipulate the 2002 elections? Wild compared to that?

Or is he saying that it is obvious the press isn’t writing about this because the press is either controlled by or intimidated by the Bush corporatists?

Is he saying it is obvious because it is obvious that they are holding Osama for use in an October surprise?

Uh oh, my wife is looking at me tapping faster and faster on the keys, and she’s getting that “there you go again getting all worked up” expression that tells me I had better calm down.

Email to Dave

I sent an email to Dave with this thought I had over a salad this evening. He seems to like it:

I have the campaign slogan for the Demos. They don’t deserve it — it should go to Ralph, but then nobody will hear it.


Kerry/Edwards 2004

Also, another related one:

Kerry/Edwards for Americans!

If any right-winger is stupid enough to play some word game and compare it to America First, YOU JUST RIP THEM A NEW ONE: “What! It’s really no surprise to anyone who’s been watching you guys, but I’m really shocked you’d make it so clear, so openly, that YOU DO NOT PUT AMERICANS FIRST!” Scream. Scream a lot.

This could even win back the Congress.

There’s lots of ways you could take this. Edwards might do particularly well with it. (Dean would have done great with it, alas.)

I’m embarrassed…

for this guy actually. My goodness! This guy is darn near illiterate. He writes at about the fourth grade level.

As someone who worked with hundreds of IU students as a teaching assistant a few years ago, I’m happy to report that this guy is not typical.

Atrios is right though, this guy’s ignorance, illiteracy, and bigotry certainly seems to give us an indication where the conservative movement is heading these days, doesn’t it?

If you were curious as to exactly what kind of person W was appealing to with the “Defense of Marriage” constitutional amendment, now you know.

Extra Unemployment Benefits Lose in Senate

Yahoo! News – Extra Unemployment Benefits Lose in Senate:

“A Senate measure to extend federal unemployment benefits failed by two votes Thursday despite the election year support of 12 Republicans from states hit hard by layoffs.

Democrats tried to attach the amendment to a gun liability bill, but it failed 58-39 in the GOP-controlled Senate. The margin was two votes shy of the 60 needed to overcome a procedural objection. “

A “procedural objection” — meaning the Republicans filibustered it, right?

“[Republican Senator] Nickles said jobless workers have more incentive to find a job when the extra unemployment benefits stop. “The more you pay people not to work, the less inclined they are to work,” he said.

Right. All those people are just sitting around on their butts, turning down all the jobs they are being offered.

Did US and UK Know?

Juan Cole asks a VERY good question about US and British bugging of UN officials:

“The Blix wiretaps raise an interesting question. Did the US and UK know even more about the lack of evidence for weapons of mass destruction than we thought, from what Blix was saying privately in spring of 2003 before the war?”

Trade, Jobs and The Ongoing Struggle

Following is a comment I left following this post at Brad DeLong’s blog. (Of course, what I’m posting here is edited, selected, massaged, even tortured to make me look better.)

Responding to a claim that ‘…Americans are told that trade destroys jobs…’.:

“I don’t know what is gained by misrepresenting the positions of people opposed to the current trade situation! Who is telling Americans that? NO ONE IS.

What I hear people saying is that trade with countries that do not honor their agreements, and/or countries that do not permit labor to organize or that do not allow their citizens to vote on their country’s policies or do not have environmental regulations, etc. is inherently stacked against OUR interests AS WELL AS the interests of the people in the countries we trade with. And it is not harming JUST the interests of Americans who lose their jobs but also the interests of our country as a whole. How do we benefit by trading away our jobs, assets, manufacturing base, technological expertise and revenue base, to trade partners who are not purchasing enough from us, not paying their own citizens well, not protecting the environment, not letting workers organize, not letting their citizens vote, not floating their currency so their goods cost what they should relative to ours, etc.?

Ultimately this is about more than trade, it is the ongoing struggle over who gets what share of the pie. Of course corporations will always try to lower costs. They should. But this can mean trying to repeal the minimum wage, or use child labor, or bribing inspectors. So it’s up to us, the people, to try to put in place controls that protect the public interest. It is our duty. Is it ‘protectionist’ to support a higher minimum wage, or national health insurance or worker safety regulations, or the right to unionize? YOU BET IT IS! It protects the people who work for a living. Here AND with our trading partners.

Without worker protections in place in countries like China, and without agreements in place that mean that our trade “partners” REALLY DO balance out our job losses by purchasing US goods, and by allowing their currencies to follow the market, it is NOT A LEVEL PLAYING FIELD. It is NOT “FREE” TRADE AT ALL! All we are doing is trading away American living standards, increasing our debt, to enrich corporate executives and corrupt Chinese officials!

“Protectionism” means PROTECTING AMERICANS. A $500 billion trade deficit indicates a problem with our idea of “free trade,” doesn’t it? Stagnant income growth for the middle class since the 70’s indicates a problem, doesn’t it? With the trade portion of the struggle between moneyed interests and the public, we are trading away jobs and assets in return for loans. The public takes on the trade debt load and the executives walk away with the cash. With other forms of this struggle, like the minimum wage and the right to organize, we are experiencing the corruption of our own political system, trading away our retirement income for tax cuts to the rich, and other signs that the public’s position in this ongoing battle is weakening…

The trade situation is just another part of that battle – it’s the scene in ‘Grapes of Wrath’ where they’re bussing in the strikebreakers so they can keep wages low. It’s just that they’re bussing them over the border now.

Let me add to that. Show me where the current trade arguments are different from the minimum wage arguments? They argue that raising (or even having) a minimum wage keeps the poor from getting jobs. And they argue that asking trade partners to protect workers rights and safety and pay higher wages keeps THEIR poor from getting jobs.

But, in fact, history shows that increasing the minimum wage and other income redistribution policies precedes higher growth, not lower growth. And periods of wealth concentration coincide with periods of lower growth. This is a consumer economy and customers with money to spend grows the economy. Clinton’s tax HIKES and minimum wage HIKES and EITC (Earned Income Tax Credit) HIKES brought about a boom.

So policies that promote higher wages and income redistribution benefit everyone, and policies that reduce wages and concentrate wealth promote that “race to the bottom.” Policies for labor OUTSIDE the country have the same effect as those for labor IN the country. Promoting workers rights increases growth, and benefits all of us.”

Go join the discussion.

The Stonewalling Continues

Why are Republicans still stonewalling the 9/11 Commission?

Again, for the hundredth time, what are they hiding?

I have a suspicion that I’ll go ahead and share. I suspect that somewhere in the President’s Daily Briefing (probably on different days in August) an analyst mentioned a concern about hijacking and domestic terrorism by al-Qaeda — maybe even going so far as to suggest that targets like the World Trade Center would be vulnerable.

I doubt that the analyst who prepared the briefing connected the concern over hijackings and a heightened threat of domestic terrorism but they probably suggested both of these as potential concerns.

I also now suspect that someone suggested to the president that he increase the security at airports but W couldn’t be bothered because he some brush to clear or a golf game to go to or some other pressing engagement during his month-long vacation in August of 2001.

Furthermore, don’t you find the insistance that the president actually wants the commission’s work to continue for the two months but can’t seem to get Hastert to go along, a bit too convenient? I mean, heck folks, who really believes that little cover story?

And also, why just an hour with the commission, Mr. Bush? Here’s a question from today’s gaggle that really shows that some in the press recognize the president’s hypocrisy on this issue:

In every speech he gives, President Bush invokes the atrocities of 9/11 and he talks about how that event has impressed on him a determination to always honor the victims of those atrocities in his daily conduct of his office. And I wonder if you could explain with some serious Texan straight talk here, Scott, how it is honoring the victims of 9/11 to restrict the questioning of the President on this subject to one hour?

How about it, Mr. President?

Answer that question for us all please.


Digby finds a strange coincidence in the firing of Howard Stern. Go read at Hullabaloo:

“So, suddenly John Hogan, Bush Ranger and CEO of Clear Channel discovers that Howards Stern talks about pornography on his show and is offended.

The day after Stern made the above remarks.

Coincidence, I’m sure.”

And, the same piece has something I agree with:

“Furthermore, it’s just a little bit galling that a violent, pornographic snuff film that features 15 minutes of big juicy close-ups of hunks of flesh flying off the human body as it is flogged with barbed whips is deemed appropriate for children by supposedly good Christians while they have a complete hissy fit over a 5 second long shot of Janet Jackson’s nipple on television.”

It seems so easy to sell stuff to the the fundies, if you use the right approach. This time it’s movie marketing hype. Other times it’s estate or capital gains tax cuts. GOD says go pay $9 and see the most violent film ever made. GOD says we should cut capital gains taxes. GOD says send me $100 so I can build a theme park or buy a diamond mine and get even richer. AND they all go out and DO it (or vote for it)! I wonder if I can think up a way to make some money off the right-wing Christians. The money would go to a great cause.

Accountability On the Right

For those who think that the investigation into the Plame affair (Bush aides revealing the identity of a covert CIA agent, working on preventing weapons of mass destruction from getting into terrorist hands) is likely to lead somewhere, or the 9/11 commission (looking into whether Bush f*cked up and let us get attacked), or the investigations into pre-Iraq WMD intelligence (looking into whether Bush f*cked up and got us into a war), I suggest looking at what happened to a couple of cases that involved right-wingnuts and actual dead bodies.

I don’t have a high level of optimism that there is going to be ANY oversight or accountability or justice as long as the Right controls all the branches of government.

Update As with any Google search, if the page is no longer there you can still read it by clicking “Cached.” This one, for example — and it is really worth reading past the “about me” and into the “letter” part.

MoDo: "Stations of the Crass"

Our soldiers are being killed in Iraq; Osama’s still on the loose; jobs are being exported all over the world; the deficit has reached biblical proportions.

And our president is worrying about Mars and marriage?

When reporters tried to pin down White House spokesman Scott McClellan yesterday on why gay marriage is threatening, he spouted a bunch of gobbledygook about “the fabric of society” and civilization.

The pols keep arguing that institutions can’t be changed when, in fact, they change all the time. Haven’t they ever heard of the institution of slavery?

The government should not be trying to legislate what’s sacred.

When Bushes get in trouble, they look around for a politically advantageous bogeyman. Lee Atwater tried to make Americans shudder over the prospect of Willie Horton arriving on their doorstep; and now Karl Rove wants Americans to shudder at the prospect of a lesbian — Dick Cheney’s daughter Mary, say — setting up housekeeping next door with her “wife.”

When it comes to the Bushes’ willingness to stir up base instincts of the base, it is as it was.