Franklin County Democrats

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

Browsing Posts published in December, 2011

It’s a little late to get one of these as a stocking stuffer for Christmas but it might make a nice birthday gift for your crazy birther uncle, or to send to Missouri House Speaker-to-be and birther nincompoop, Tim Jones (R-Eureka). The Made in the USA coffee mug, complete with a picture of the president’s birth certificate, is available at barackobama.com for $20 US …

Made in the USA coffee mug with birth certificate for that birther kook near you.

United for a Fair Economy performed their famous 10 Chairs of American Wealth Inequality exercise at a Occupy Boston encampment.  The video also includes comments from some of the participants after the exercise that indicate how powerful this exercise is in raising awareness of the true situation.

In the latest assault on middle class wages by the Republican Party, Lt. Governor Peter Kinder has proposed to eliminate the Prevailing Wage for construction workers in Joplin, MO.   Is there a disaster anywhere that repubs won’t try to use an an excuse to lower wages?

From PoliticMO,

“Our charge is to work out for the taxpayer and the efficient, equitable use of taxpayer dollars,” he said in an interview PoliticMo.

Additionally, Kinder argued there is a “racist history of the prevailing wage statute,” saying that when the laws were first written, southern lawmakers supported them “in order to keep African Americans and other minorities out of the construction trades.”

These days, Kinder said he thinks the laws are used to “inflate the cost of labor at taxpayer expense.”

In an interview with PoliticMo earlier this month, Gov. Jay Nixon said he opposed legislation, like Lant’s, that would waive prevailing wage requirements in disaster zones.

Mr. Kinder chose not to elaborate on the real reason for the prevailing wage.  The prevailing wage was designed to ensure that local tax dollars went to local workers and craftsmen.  Without the prevailing wage, crews from Arkansas could underbid Missouri contractors, do the work, and be paid with Missouri tax dollars.  By establishing an area wage, local tradesmen which would not have the burden of travel expenses, would be the preferred choice for this work.  To top it off, the research reveals that the prevailing wage does not increase project costs.

Of course, a political hack that spends his taxpayer salary at clubs in Illinois probably doesn’t have much incentive to promote the Missouri economy.

Bob Reich does some serious navel gazing:

My political prediction for 2012 (based on absolutely no inside information): Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden swap places. Biden becomes Secretary of State — a position he’s apparently coveted for years. And Hillary Clinton, Vice President.

So the Democratic ticket for 2012 is Obama-Clinton.

Why do I say this? Because Obama needs to stir the passions and enthusiasms of a Democratic base that’s been disillusioned with his cave-ins to regressive Republicans. Hillary Clinton on the ticket can do that.

I guess it depends on what your definition of “Democratic base” is. On the one hand, I like this idea if for no other reason than to watch the sheer spectacle of it. The socialist, fascist, Kenyan interloper Obama has already driven the right completely berserk. Adding Clinton to the ticket would likely give them seizures.

On the other hand, having that much capitulating corporate centrism on one ticket makes my head hurt. Remember, it was Obama and the other Clinton who signed off on the two biggest “free trade” deals in American history to date. It was on Bill Clinton’s watch that important banking regulations were dismantled that ultimately paved the way to the financial crisis of 2007-08 and no one has gone to jail for any of it under Obama because, well, it was all made pretty much legal under Clinton.

But what the heck. Why not have an Obama-Clinton ticket in 2012? I don’t exactly see how adding Clinton to the ticket would fire up “a Democratic base that’s been disillusioned with his cave-ins to regressive Republicans.” The Clinton brand has practically become synonymous with capitulating to regressive Republicans. But it would excite the general public in an otherwise moribund year and would make it strangely fascinating to watch working class voters tear each other to shreds over a Republican candidate who is unapologetically sleeping with Wall Street, and a star-studded Democratic ticket that speaks the language of progressivism while covertly paying homage to the very same corporate state. The news media will undoubtedly label this “Decision 2012.”

Thom Hartmann explains a recent study which found that rich folks aren’t as empathetic as the rest of society in this edition of the Big Picture

My personal experience leads me to believe this is true.  For over a decade, UAW Local 1760 collected toys and money for a charity that served kids and their families.  We would put up banners explaining the puropose of our efforts at an area intersection on the day after Thanksgiving and seek donations as people waited for the light to change. 

I can remember the guy in an aging station wagon with four kids taking the time to place a couple of bucks in the boot whle I wondered if his kids may be the recepients of our collection.  Just as clearly, it seems all too often that the driver of the new Lexus would never make a move to roll down their window and go to extraordinariy lengths to avoid all eye contact.  I would not make this a generalization but have seen these scenario’s repeated many times. 

What is your experience?

I’m a little late to the party on this one but I finally got around to watching the much vaunted documentary, Waiting For Superman, by Davis Guggenheim, last night. It’s one of a trilogy of recent films celebrated by the school privatization crowd that provides viewers with horrifying examples of how public schools are failing and how teachers and their unions are the root problem of all things academic.

The film’s basic conclusion is that if we just got rid of bad teachers and hired good ones, and allowed public school students to attend privately-run, for-profit charter schools, we could reach some level of free market, education nirvana in America, but those pesky teacher’s unions keep getting in the way.

I didn’t get too far into the film before noticing that the focus was entirely on the worst examples of the worst public school systems that one could find in the country with no attention given to the thousands of successful public schools.

Conversely, the film focuses on the very best performing charter schools with passing mention of the ones with mediocre or even suboptimal outcomes. For example, there is a tacit acknowledgment that only 1 in 5 charter schools achieve the “amazing result” the film celebrates but then blissfully moves on to the next public school nightmare. It’s an astonishing statistic that Guggenheim whistles right past without any examination.

I could do a lengthy debunking of this film’s many problems but lucky for me that has already been done here by Diane Ravitch, a Research Professor of Education at New York University and author of The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice Are Undermining Education.

I recommend reading her article and then watching the film with eyes wide open. Waiting For Superman is an important film in that it is a landmark PR coup by school privatization advocates who see dollar signs in transferring public education funds into private coffers. The film shows the persuasive arguments public school teachers are going to have to arm themselves against going forward, while Ravitch’s critique provides the appropriate response to all of them.

A few months back, this blog began featuring information about different unions such as links to their websites, info on certain campaigns, etc.  This month I would like to feature this video on the history of AFSCME – the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees.

Warning the truth about this subject bears no relation to right-wing talking points.  It does bear a relation to the issues involved with working for any large organization.  Enjoy the video and be prepared to get fired up!

Today’s Post-Dispatch ran this editorial regarding gifts from local politicians that most of us wuld like returned.  A puzzling look back at the actions of pols from Peter “strip club” Kinder to local hater of the unemployed Brian Nieves.

Brian Nieves, Jim Lembke, Rob Schaaf and Will Kraus: The Four Senators of the Apocalypse combined to help create one of the strangest legislative years in recent Missouri history. These four Republicans helped block local control for St. Louis police, tilted at imaginary federal windmills and, most infamously, stood between Missouri unemployed workers and already promised federal aid. They stood down on that misbegotten filibuster only after members of their own caucus threatened them with lumps of coal in their Christmas stockings.

Read more: http://www.stltoday.com/news/opinion/columns/the-platform/editorial-a-take-on-the-gifts-missouri-politicians-might-want/article_40f80591-b4c0-5f50-ba5d-c82ecc841d0d.html#ixzz1hgrpIGkk

KETC, Channel 9 is currently airing the fourth hour of Niall Ferguson’s Ascent of Money series.  While entertaining to anyone interested in economics and finance this episode’s focus on international finance is a much needed look at the subject. 

Near the end of the episode Mr. Ferguson states the obvious that as the world becomes more inter-connected benefits are shared but the danger of something going wrong in one place leading to things going wrong everywhere is also a much more dangerous possibility, a.k.a. the subprime mortgage crisis.

He also makes the case that it is our massive trade deficit with China, a situation he describes as Chimerica and the Chinese loaning our money back to us that led to the irrestistable force behind the derivatives, speculation, and housing crisis that has infected the American and world economy.  So for those that believe Chinese trade and Ameircan trade deficits are not really a concern, this may be food for thought.  Good thing Congress debates so thoroughly a payroll tax cut for American workers but can pass three free trade agreements in one day – as they did earlier this year with the South Korean, Columbian, and Panamanian trade deals. Right?

Remapping Debate has published A tale of two systems -  How Germany Builds Twice As Many Cars As The US While Paying Their Workers Twice As Much, and it is a very interesting read.  The comments are also quite thought provoking.   Of course, some is basic unionism such as the higher percentage of union workers in a given industry the greater the ability to negotiate higher wages.  Of course, this also requires a government that doesn’t promote trade policies that eliminate jobs and lower wages.

More to the point of this article is this excerpt on the German example.  I am hopeful that with Washington having a sister city in Germany we can adopt some of their workplace policies such as works councils that are discussed in this article.

Workers in the German auto industry maintain high wages and good working conditions through two overlapping sets of institutions. First, in the auto industry, virtually all workers are unionized members of IG Metall, the German autoworkers’ union. With such union density, workers have considerable power to keep wages high. German autoworkers have the right to strike, but as Horst Mund, head of the International Department of IG Metall explained to Remapping Debate, they “hardly use it, because there is an elaborate system of conflict resolution that regularly is used to come to some sort of compromise that is acceptable to all parties.” continue reading…

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