Sunday, August 07, 2005

Quite Possibly the Most Important Book Ever (Except for you, Bible! Geez!)

I bring you (via a blog ad on Tom Tomorrow's blog):

Your Call Is Important to US: The Truth About Bullshit, by Laura Penny.

You must visit the website and observe the following pearls of wisdom. I command it.

the Lady Hal: the recorded female voice that says things like "Your call is important to us"

marketeer: one who firmly believes that capitalism will solve
everything, and that the public sector sucks

astroturfing: the fabrication of phony grassroots concern by PR firms

virtuecrat: a politician who invokes moral values in the pursuit of power, whether or not he or she embodies those values; see Newt Gingrich, John Ashcroft, Lynne Cheney

Saturday, August 06, 2005

Again, whose side are you on?

Jo Ann Mort, over at TPMcafe's house of labor, has a good call-out on progressives who don't support labor.

This is has stuck in my craw for a long time.

I quote Ms. Mort in small part:

"...The fact is that in progressive circles, where it's considered unacceptable to be racist, homophobic, anti-environment or anti-feminist, it's been okay to cross picket lines, look down on service and blue collar workers, and frequent anti-union businesses and purchase anti-union goods. It's been okay to embrace anti-union employers who appear hip through their own marketing maneuvers."

It's true, I've noticed a tendency on the part of certain liberal bloggers (though not all) to treat labor's interests as though working folks were just some other interest group, which too often we democrats pander to. As if the lives of America's working class and working poor were on the same moral level as say, the Chamber of Commerce's legislative wish list.

Sweet merciful Christ. As I write this, Oliver Willis has a link to a goddamn union-busting law firm, on his website. I have no idea if he chooses his ads or not, but fucking really. If it were an ad for Operation Rescue, there'd be a shitstorm.

Which proves my point really. Chris Bowers over at MYdd wrote about this last January, and it caught my eye at the time, so sayeth the Bowers:

"The fact of the matter is this: one of the main reasons Democrats are losing elections is because it is okay to be pro-environment and anti-labor, it is okay to be pro-Roe and anti-labor, it is okay to be anti-war and anti-labor, it is okay to be anti-patriot act and anti-labor, but it is never okay to be pro-labor and anti-any of these other things. It has literally come to the point where you can be pro-liberal, but anti-labor, and no one seems to care."

It's this destruction of any kind of notion of solidarity that frightens me the most. Even liberals have no clue about sticking together because it's your ass that's on the line. Not because it's chic, or because George Bush is against it, but because if you don't your family will not have enough bread, your health care will go down the crapper and because you have no other choice.

Sad really.

Friday, August 05, 2005

It's Friday night, and I ain't got nobody...

I'm flying solo at casa de los whiskey this weekend, as Mrs. Inallmyyears is out of town. So.

Down to some sweet bloggy action.

The Washington Post had a, whaddya callit, um, ARTICLE! That's it. Actual journalism or something. Anywho. It's on one of my favorite subjects, working conditions for meatpackers in the modern slaughter industry.

That subject collides two of my main interests nicely. The first is working folks' issues and the state of the unions, and the second is animal rights issues. I first took notice of worker's issues when I read Slaughterhouse by Gail Eisnitz. I read it with the intent of learning the modern meat industry's impact on the animals that it, well, 'processes' would be a nice clinical term, but I'll just say kill instead.

What I learned was even worse. And it shouldn't have been surprising. I learned that since the unions that represent packinghouse workers have largely been busted through outsourcing threats, mass importation of illegal immigrants who are not likely to complain much (and will usually work for lots less) and the typical corporate 'race to the bottom' that we're accustomed to. God Bless NAFTA-CAFTA-SHAFTA!

The result of all of this is that Eisnitz' book details the way the humans who do the brutal work of slaughter are treated like cattle themselves by employers that long ago quit paying attention to its workers and its final products.

Weakened unions allowed horrible working conditions to flourish in the packinghouses, which resulted in horrible treatment of the animals.

But the nexus of all of it is that for the meat companies, the impulse to exploit their workers for each penny they can get out of them, is exactly the same impulse that leads them to exploit the animals, all to the nth degree.

In fact, one of the ways that cruelty to the animals manifests itself in the book is when workers, who are fed up with their working conditions, take it out on the animals they come into contact with. Simply because they've reached their breaking point. They also tend to take it out on their wives and children, which makes the circle kinda complete, doesn't it? Because now it's a feminist issue as well.

And so for me, my vegetarianism led me directly to care about the state of working folks' lives (and eventually to feminism). If I'm likely to treat my cattle like shit, I'm quite likely to do that to my workforce, and neither is acceptable, if you're trying to make moral decisions in this insane world.

Or to put it another way, animal liberation is really, human liberation.

They're the same.

The Washington Post article concludes by saying that until folks demand humanely produced meat, the industry is likely to keep doing what they've been doing. The rub is that when you say 'humanely produced meat', one immediately thinks of the conditions of the animals, not the workers. The workers themselves are almost secondary.

But I bet if they're being honest, most of those folks would acknowledge they're in the same boat as their hogs, chickens and cows. They're at the bottom of the hill. And guess which direction shit rolls in that situation.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

The CAFTA post

Last week, by a squeaker of a vote, the House passed legislation expanding NAFTA to some lucky ducky countries in the carribean basin. This piece of (dung) legislation was called, originally enough, CAFTA.

There was arm-twisting, sweet-talking and outright threatening in efforts to pass the thing, and they all worked. All the emails, letters, calls, and missives that were sent to the House of Reprehensibles failed.

And my record for picking losing issues remains untouched!

I'm like, 0-12. At least I'm right.

This thing stank. To high heaven. And the fact that Melissa Bean voted for it (on top of her inexplicable vote to gut bankruptcy protections for working Americans) makes her untouchably bad. Bad on you, Melissa. You're no Democrat. You clearly don't stand with working folks. You had two chances to show where you stood, and you did. Unfortunately, it's not with us.

Jonathan Tasini has more on what Labor's respone to the CAFTA 15 should be. And it's important to keep in mind that when NAFTA passed, it passed the house with around 100 democratic votes. Permanent Normal Trade Relations with China passed with around 70, fast track authority for free trade agreements (which mean the President can negotiate trade treaties and Congress has no input other than an up-or-down vote) passed with 23, and CAFTA with 15.

So Democrats are apparently learning. Slowly. Either that, or the dwindling votes mirror their dwindling numbers in congress. At this rate, there won't be a working class by the time they have it figured out. It'll be the out-of-working class. Until then, the spigot should absolutely be shut off from these turncoats.

Also. Passed along without comment.

Reason 4,657 not to shop at Wal-Mart

And the beat goes on and on. The Arizona Daily Sun has a report out today that one out of every ten Wal-Mart employees is on public assistance for health care. And that's not bad compared to some states.

This dovetails nicely with other reports from other parts of the country saying essentially the same thing. And (brace yourself for a surprise!) many of the states where this is most common are also actively hostile labor environments!


Yes! (it makes me puke to link to those people)

My favorite statistic: In Georgia, there are more than 10,000 children of Wal-Mart on public aid. The next largest company is Publix, a grocery store chain at 714 children. That means that there are 14 times more children of Wal-mart employees on public assistance than the next biggest company. It translates into one kid on welfare for every four employees.

It must be those 'competitive wages' the Waltons keep bragging about.

Wal-Mart. Always low standards of human freaking decency. Always.

PS: Archpundit had a post up yesterday about Dems who shop at Sam's Club (motto--just like wal-mart, but more sterile!).

I know this is a touchy issue for some, but that's tough shit. Wal-Mart is not a force for good in the modern economy. It's time we acted like adults and faced up to it.