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Social Wealthism Dec 13th, 2008 8:52:22 pm - Subscribe
Mood | blogged and critiqued

The economic collapse has been on my mind a great deal lately. I wrote a post debating a slanted anti-labor GOP email sent to me by one of my Good Orange County (CA) Republican [GOC(CA)R] coworkers, but my editor felt that it had too many problems for posting on Blogcritics. First read this post, then read the original here and you can decide if he was right about it.

Meanwhile, back in the reeling world, columnist Robert Scheer has some issues with the Bush administration bank bailout. Scheer defines this Final Bush Days Action as "a betrayal of free-market capitalism". At the same time, Scheer questions (as I do) Obama's selection of so many acolytes of The Great Triangulator, Bill Clinton, for his Cabinet. Scheer asks cogently, "why have a poverty program for troubled corporations?" when instead "we should [extend] health coverage to all Americans".

Might this be why "Joe the Plumber" is bashing John McCain after having campaigned for him? But I digress.

We have the money. All we need do is take it back from those companies which are abusing the bailout. Take AIG (Please!). After receiving more than $152 billion of Your Money, AIG is in the process of snubbing its collective nose at its major shareholder of 79.9 percent of its stock (We, the People - as "represented" by the US Government) as it distributes “cash awards” ranging between $92,500 to $4 million to retain employees whose poor performance put AIG into a de facto receivership while "earning" salaries ranging between $160,000 and $1 million. Per year.

Since I began working in 1965, I reached the $1 million in lifetime earnings just a couple of years ago. I am angry. So are some of our elected representatives, as I caught while a GOC(CA)R was switching channels to watch the History Channel refight WWII again. but none of us is as angry as a group of Chicago workers who borrowed a page from the movie Gung Ho! and took over their plant when their employer shut its doors without meeting the legal requirements of a 60-day notice and payment of earned vacation. The CEO of the company claimed that there was “no choice but to shut our doors” after Bank of America refused a loan due to declining sales right after receiving around $25 billion of Your Money intended to cover such loans to small businesses.

Richard Berg, president of Teamsters Local 743, responded to this fallacy with “If this bailout should go to anything, it should go to the workers of this country.”

Professors Nelson Lichtenstein of UC Santa Barbara and Christopher Phelps declare the national mood is with workers as many American workers are "suffering during a severe recession". President-elect Barack Obama noted that this situation "is reflective of what's happening across this economy."

Maybe because they want to remain on Obama's good side in an attempt to evade reporting on what they ARE doing with their bailout, B of A announced that they would consider figuring out what is owed to the former employees and floating the employer a loan for that amount.

Perhaps only as a gesture of "Up yours, B of A!", JPMorgan Chase & Co - which wrote off last July a $7 million investment in the employer's company along with a $5 million loan and resigned from the board of directors - announced that they offered $400,000 to help settle the debt owed to the laid-off workers. JPMorgan has received $25 billion of Your Money, and I'm sure they also seek to avoid being forced by an increasingly angry Congress to account for it.

But the real issue is what these workers - and the hundreds of thousands of others who have already lost their jobs - are going to do in the future. An emloyee of the Philadelphia chain of GM Dealers operated by the Bergey family explained to Dave Lindorf of BuzzFlash that "There's no problem getting car loans from the small community banks around our dealerships. The problem is that people are too worried about the economy and about their jobs to go out and buy a new car."

In some cases, not being able to buy a car is the least of their worries. Judy and Larry Vardon of the Detroit suburb Oak Park are about to lose their home, which was featured on Extreme Makeover, if Mr. Vardon gets laid off by Chrysler.

Milton and Patricia Harper of Lake City, Ga. are another Extreme Makeover family in danger of losing their home after using it to fund a construction business which failed. JPMorgan Chase put a hold on their foreclosure, but the hold has by now expired and I haven't found any newer news to indicate their fate.

Yet another Extreme Makeover home is in trouble. Sadie Holmes of Altamonte Springs, Fla. is in contention with the city government over numerous code violations, and claims she can't pay both the $29,000 lien the city filed against her property and the $6000 in annual property tax.

These situations have all occured in the recent past, but with the end of the annual holiday of orgiastic materialist expenditure, I expect the major retailers to slash their work forces just as they are currently slashing their prices in a failing attempt to entice us to spend like there's no tomorrow.

In some ways, there won't be, and it may prove necessary for soon-to-be-former Wal-Mart employees to emulate their Chicago bretheren. Wal-Mart - already infamous for abusing their workers and skimming as much of their pay as possible - has again gotten on the wrong side of the law for requiring about 100,000 current and former Wal-Mart employees to work off-the-clock more than 2 million times as far back as 9/11/1998. Wal-Mart has been ordered to provide these Minnesota employees $6.5 million in back pay. They might have been liable for as much as $2 billion in back pay, but the stipulated agreement kept this decision away from a jury fo the employee's peers.

This is only one of more than 70 pending cases against Wal-Mart, according to Bloomberg News.

Before those of you interested in my rejected post traipse off to read it, the situation I present in that post would take place in about another six months and involves someone who is already unemployed as I write today. There is a lot of angry tongue in my cheek, so read it in that context. It might make more sense then.

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