Franklin County Democrats

The official site of the Democratic Party of Franklin County, Missouri

The Grist has this story on the ramifications of Walmart’s promise to carry cheap organic food…

If that sounds suspicious to anyone familiar with organic growing practices, it should. For those not as well-versed, we’re here to help! We spoke with Coach Mark Smallwood, executive director of The Rodale Institute in Kutztown, Penn., about how Walmart could manage to offer such low prices, and what that might mean for organic farmers across the country.

Smallwood explains that the concept of a “premium” associated with organic food is misleading, because the price of an organic good reflects the true cost of its production.

“The issue is that there aren’t the subsidies available to organic farmers that there are [for conventional farmers.] So there’s a question in my mind about how Walmart is going to pull this off and be able to make profit,” Smallwood said. “And for them to even come out and make that statement before they’ve started is a huge question mark. Somebody’s going to have to pay, and my hope is that it’s not the organic farmer.”

Smallwood also shared his concern that if Walmart were to incentivize large-scale organic production, industrial organic practices would become more widespread. In this model, farmers adhere to just the bare minimum of organic standards and ultimately end up depleting soil health on a piece of land, abandoning it, and moving on to another.

“Will a large agricultural operation come in and buy up tens of small family farms and put them all under one name, and then create that slash-and-burn model?” Smallwood said. “That’s what I’m afraid of. That’s the [possible] downside.”

This week’s audio netcast: It’s income tax time, and the inequality of income in America has never been a bigger issue. Economist James K. Galbraith says it is a sign of economic instability. Economic inequality also manifests itself at the ballot box, where the rich vote more than the poor — and vote their self-interest, says political scientist Jan Leighley. And Bill Press interviews Rep. Jim Clyburn about the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

The Nation has this story regarding issues related to the Paycheck Fairness Act which was recently voted down in the U.S. Senate, primarily with Republicans in opposition.  Why Do Bosses Want Their Employees’ Salaries To Be Secret explores the real beneficiaries of workplace secrecy.

In a narrow vote this week, the Senate politely smothered the Paycheck Fairness Act, which would have protected workers’ rights to compare and discuss their wages at work. Aimed at dismantling workplace “pay secrecy” policies, the legislation built on the 2009 Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which strengthens safeguards for women and other protected groups against wage discrimination. Both measures aim to fill gaps in the enforcement of longstanding civil rights laws, which, half a century on, are still failing to combat the most insidious forms of discrimination—the subtle labor violations that grease the gears of economic inequality. Wage discrimination has persisted in large part because workers are routinely discouraged or outright banned from discussing compensation levels with coworkers.

The Paycheck Fairness Act would have shielded workers from retaliation if they discuss their salaries with coworkers. Employers would have had to “prove that pay disparities exist for legitimate, job-related reasons,” according to the National Partnership for Women & Families. In addition, the bill would have closed disparities in the legal remedies available for violations of the Equal Pay Act, so workers could claim the same kinds of damages provided under other wage discrimination laws. And overall, workers would have had an easier time seeking compensation in federal court, rather than the bureaucracy of the National Labor Relations Board, which tends to yield weaker penalties.

The bill would also have directed the Labor Department and Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to proactively gather data and investigate wage discrimination on a broader scale.

To partially offset the Senate defeat, President Obama signed two executive orders that placed similar mandates on federal contractors, but while that would cover a substantial chunk of the workforce, many millions of workers may remain effectively gagged at work.

Yet making pay fair is not just a matter of correcting payrolls. Despite all the handwringing on Capitol Hill around the oft-cited seventy-seven-cents-to-a-dollar figure, the restrictions of speech in the workplace attest to a more systemic power imbalance

The current edition of The Nation features this look back at the Ludlow Massacre.  The sheer brutality of this attack and the fact that it was allowed cellar hole where the victims were burned aliveby local authorities is mindboggling.  Even modern warfare stipulates that women and children should not be harmed if they are not active combatants.   So when you hear that people have died to get many of the rights we now have, this is what they are talking about.

The soldiers had originally come to preserve the peace, but as the months passed, volunteers were largely replaced by a corps of mine guards, pit bosses and mercenaries, who showed open enmity toward the strikers. Recurrent gunfire inspired many families to entrench. Some dug pits under the floorboards of their tents. Beneath one of the largest structures, there was a deep bunker meant to serve as a maternity ward for the settlement’s pregnant women.

As night fell on the 20th, the soldiers rioted amid the flames. The men, a military investigation would find, “had passed out of their officers’ control; had ceased to be an army and had become a mob.” They looted dresses and suits, bedding, jewelry, bicycles, silverware. Meanwhile, they systematically burned the tents, dousing the fabric with coal oil before tossing matches on the pyre.

With the fires spreading, women and children still in the camp fled from shelter to shelter. Many congregated in the bunker turned maternity ward. Terrified of the marauding militia, they remained even as the tent above them became engulfed in flames. They coughed in the smoke, and their prayers quickened as the fire extracted the oxygen from their hiding place and the floorboards above them grew too hot to touch.

During the strike months, no one had done more than Tikas, the union leader, to forestall violence. He was a “power for good,” acquaintances would recall, a “very quiet man.” Working to secure amity until the first gunshots made peace impossible, he had spent the entire day of the battle rushing between the tents, shepherding dozens to safety.

When the soldiers arrived in the evening, Tikas asked permission to continue searching for survivors. In response, Lieutenant Linderfelt smashed his Springfield rifle over the unarmed man’s skull so hard that he separated the stock from the barrel. His soldiers then murdered the union leader, putting three shots in his back and leaving him as he fell, face down in the sand. Three days would pass before the soldiers allowed Tikas’s body to be removed for interment.

On April 21, the morning after the battle, the sun rose over a scene of desolation. Smoke curled into the sky above a debris-filled ruin. Canvas and wood had burned away, leaving behind wracked iron bedsteads and cook stoves. Whiskey bottles littered the ground. Militiamen torched any structures that remained intact, refusing access to the Red Cross and firing without warning on passersby.

It was almost midday when rescue workers finally searched the maternity ward. Beneath the charred remains of the tent, they discovered the bodies of two young mothers and their eleven children, all of whom had suffocated.

This edition of Saturday Fun comes from a somewhat unusual source, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.  While George Will and his straw manAmeren Missouri's proposed landfill along the Missouri River near Labadie commentary does make for the occasional guffaw our featured columnist is St. Louis’ own – Bill McClellan.

The online version of yesterday’s column is entitled Voss for Foss?  Clever but not near as interesting to local folks as the print version which was entitled Ameren’s Credibility Problem.

The company does have a new spokeswoman. Her name is Julie Voss Catron. I do not know her. Neither do you. That’s a problem. She does not have great name recognition. What she does have is connections. Make that singular. Connection. She is the daughter of Thomas Voss, board chairman, chief executive officer and president of Ameren Corp.

She used to work in public relations for Nestlé Purina. Frankly, that is the way things are supposed to be done in Corporate America. If a CEO wants to help his kids — and all parents want to help their kids — he can call another CEO and ask for a favor. It’s like interlocking boards of directors. A CEO doesn’t give himself a raise, his CEO buddies on his board give him a raise. In return, he serves on their boards and gives them raises.

If you run a public company, you don’t hire your kids.

How would you like to be on the search committee when the boss’s daughter applies? You sit around the table, awkwardly discussing the candidates, until Terry Toady says, “You know, I really like the boss’s daughter. My vote goes to her.” Who wants to stand up to that?

By the way, this is not the daughter’s fault. This is on her dad. He made $6,038,282 last year. For that kind of dough, the company ought to be able to expect some judgment. The directors bear some responsibility, too. The outside directors made between $150,603 and $218,735 last year. That’s for part-time work. They’re supposed to provide oversight and judgment.

Instead, they’re happy just to cash their big checks. To heck with the shareholders.

So now the company has nobody to trot out to defend its indefensible plan to locate a coal ash landfill in a flood plain.


It looks like Gannett Inc., the parent company of KSDK Channel 5 in St. Louis is trying to lower wages and working conditions for area residents and members of IBEW Local 4.  I invite you to visit to learn more about this attempt by a major corporation to set new lower standards here in the St. Louis area.

Please help as the working conditions you save may one day be your own!

Yesterday, every Republican Senator voted against equal pay for women.  Not surprising since I can’t remember the last time the GOP supported a policy that would improve wages.  The more desperate folks are the more subservient they will be for their corporate masters.  That said, it’s a strange way to demonstrate that there is no “war on women.”

The AFL-CIO released this statement…

Most Republican lawmakers say they believe in fair and equal pay for women. But a day after Equal Pay Day, when Republican senators had a chance to vote for a bill that would have gone a long way to achieving that goal, not a single one cast a vote to just allow debate on the Paycheck Fairness Act, let alone pass it.

Today’s vote marks the third time in recent years that Republicans have killed legislation that could play a major role in closing the wage gap between men and women. On average, women earn 77 cents for every dollar men earn. The gap is even wider for women of color.

The Paycheck Fairness Act would close loopholes and strengthen current equal pay laws, including strengthening penalties that courts may impose for equal pay violations, and prohibit retaliation against workers who inquire about or disclose information about employers’ wage practices. The bill also would require employers to show pay disparity is truly related to job performance—not gender.


This site is paid for and operated by Democrats.  That said, here is an editorial from Judson Phillips of Tea Party Nation on a subject that we both agree on - The insanity of “Free Trade” agreements.  While we agree on TPP,  Mr. Phillips tends to gloss over the overwhelming support of Republicans for NAFTA (90%) and overstate the support of Democrats.  Nonetheless, his analysis of the Korean Free Trade Agreement is spot on…

Most people would expect Obama, in the middle of a fight over the fate of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, to be trumpeting the successes of the U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement.

There is a reason for Obama’s silence.

In the first two years of the U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement, U.S. exports to Korea fell by $3.1 billion. Meanwhile, imports from Korea increased by $8.7 billion. Studies show that, instead of increasing employment in America, approximately 60,000 jobs have been lost thanks to the U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement.

Albert Einstein is quoted as saying, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.”

The U.S. has entered into a number of these so-called free trade agreements, starting with the NAFTA agreement in the early ‘90s. The results are predictable. Every time, America’s trade deficit goes up and American employment goes down.

This week’s audio netcast:  Now that the Supreme Court has opened the political money floodgates, progressive activist Madison Paige says we can fight it by organizing at the extremely local level. Things could get nasty between the United States and Russia, according to former Ambassador Michael Ussery. And Bill Press interviews Senator Bernie Sanders and Mark Pocan about the Supreme Court and unemployment insurance.

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