Posts Tagged ‘economy’

A Time of Reckoning

December 12, 2008

If anything, the Senate vote Thursday night told us that some our dignitaries are at open war with the working folks of America. Nixing aid to the automotive industry was a “mission accomplished” based on ideology and party, plain and simple. The failure of the Big Three didn’t matter to the Southern Republicans who led the fight against the bailout. In their refutations, what came out repeatedly was a repudiation of the UAW– even to the point of injecting falsehoods concerning the salaries of unionized workers in the MSM.

In that light, it isn’t surprising that the Southern Republicans acted the way that they did. If anyone stopped and looked at where the foreign car companies had their facilities in America, one could see why the outcry against the UAW was vocal and vindictive.

Put it this way: the Senators who lashed out against the bailout were pretty much protecting their own.

Before you think that this is a completely new trend, it isn’t. The late President Ronald Reagan, shuttled to sainthood by his GOP followers, battled unions throughout his two terms. The most celebrated case was the former American leader’s war against air traffic controllers in the early 1980’s. In the midst of campaigning for better working conditions and benefits, nearly 11,500 striking air traffic controllers were let go from their jobs. Consequently, the union representing them (the Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization) ended in October 1981. Since then, union memberships as a whole decreased in size and importance as America fell under the shadow of conservative rule.

Three decades have passed. Another union struggles against the GOP machine. Once again, the Republicans’ efforts are mean-spirited considering how low the economy has sunken. It is as if the conservative party ignored the dire circumstances of nearly three million people who will lose their jobs if the Big Three isn’t kept running during these hard times.

The good thing is that the actions of the GOP Senators had, in essence, reignited the passion and the anger of citizens who have been put through the ringer of trying to fight to keep from being tossed out into the street. It sure beats the apathetic cynicism that hung like a cloud over the Bush 43 years. These scary times are giving each one of us something to care about. Our livelihoods depend on it.

So, is President Bush’s suggestion of taking the funds out of TARP to help the Big Three a noble gesture? No. However, it is certainly necessary for his legacy, is it not?

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Another Sordid Tale From Wall Street

December 12, 2008

For the American people, this week in U.S. politics has been most instructive when it comes to greed, power and ideology. The caustic situation of Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich aside, there were other events that provided an eye-opening glimpse of corruption and hubris.

In the flurry of reportage this week, did anyone miss the story of Bernard Madoff? Reported to authorites by his own sons via their lawyer, Mr. Madoff–once a Nasdaq chief–pulled a fast one and defrauded his victims out of at least $50 billion.

You know the tip of iceberg of that entire investigation? When asked by those in law enforcement about his wrongdoing, Mr. Madoff answered, “There is no innocent explanation.”

That should be the retort to end all answers.

Dead In the Water

December 11, 2008

That’s the news coming out of Washington about the auto bailout Thursday night. The GOP faction of the Senate linked arms and voted the bill down. Who became the target of why the bill went down 52 to 35? The United Auto Workers (UAW). Yep. The vote comes at the price of slapping the faces of the unions. Because of this vote, working people get the shaft again.

From the pages of Salon:

Republicans were directly challenging Bush, arguing that any support for the domestic auto industry should carry significant, specific concessions from autoworkers and creditors. They are also bitterly opposed to tougher environmental rules carmakers would have to meet as part of the House-passed version of the rescue package — something that also faces some Democratic opposition.

What is especially telling about the outcome of this vote is that there are some politicians who cannot even bring themselves to think that if the Big Three goes down in flames, our economy is heading right down with it. During the Senate hearing for the auto bailout this morning, Senator Carl Levin (D-MI) explained that other countries readily went to the aid of their automotive industries when they were in trouble. Why in the heck should we let ours go down in smoke?

The Republicans played the economy off along with President Bush and kept on pretending that the sky wasn’t falling. When it has, they do the one thing to make the sky rain flaming meteors upon their own country.

Don’t they love America?

Doesn’t it ever cross the Republicans’ minds that if the automotive industry is not saved, that hard-working, “pro-Americans” lose jobs?

There’s a few things that the GOP has to think about when going on this crusade against funding the Big Three:

  • If there are no jobs, families have to ask the government to help them–via welfare or unemployment checks.
  • Because of the lack of work, families don’t spend a lot a money on consumer goods. That means if demand is low, companies fail.
  • Even worse, families have to split up to find jobs in other places in order to make ends meet. That alone shoots the GOP’s so-called family values right in the foot.

    You’ve got to ask one thing, though. In the midst of looking out for the hard-working people who supposedly exhibited the GOP’s version of pro-Americanism, weren’t those conservatives thinking about Joe the Plumber, their patriotic ├╝ber-man? Oh, that’s right. He just cast Senator John McCain (R-AZ) away in traditional Shakespearian style.

    Fancy that.

    Meanwhile, Back in Washington D.C.

    December 10, 2008

    While the Blagojevich scandal continues to erupt in Illinois, the MSM seems to have forgotten the economy has been the focus of talks all week in Congress. Most importantly, the House just approved $14 billion dollars of financial aid for the Big Three. However, it comes with a caveat: change the way you do business or a car czar will help you do it.

    The main question here is whether this bail-out is more about the companies themselves or the workers. In light of how the passage of TARP went, a lot of scrutiny is going to be place on the endeavors of the car companies to straighten up during these tough economic times. Although the money saves a lot of jobs in the process, the burden of proof is on the automotive industry to show that they are grateful for this shot in the arm.

    What has been disgusting and ironic about the entire bailout scandal is that while money continues to flow to help the corporations, former and current executives are the first ones to blame the poor and people of color for the financial crisis. Chagrining self-reflexivity, the management at the top refuse to even shine the mirror upon themselves. The Bush Administration and some Wall St. denziens knew in advance of what was going to happen and did very little to prevent the economic downturn.

    The time for reckoning is in the air. Haven’t you heard? In light of the outcry of the bailout, some of the suits on Wall St. have had to give up their bonuses.

    Will The Corporations Change Their Tune?

    December 7, 2008

    In a lengthy interview on NBC’s Meet the Press Sunday morning, President-Elect Barack Obama said a number of things that were highly important when setting the agenda during his upcoming term as American leader. Firstly, the former Illinois Senator sided with the laid-off Republic Windows and Doors factory workers as they protested the loss of their jobs in the wake of the recession. Another item of note is that there needs to be work done to stop the slide in foreclosures that are happening daily across the country. Although Mr. Obama described the economy getting a lot worse before it recovers, he advocated for immediate and meticulous attention to reignite it via introducing much needed policies that would work on rebuilding America’s infrastructure.

    But the best thing? Mr. Obama said that the corporations must be more responsible and ethical in their daily dealings:

    What we haven’t seen is a sense of urgency and the willingness to make tough decisions. And what we still see are executive compensation packages for the auto industry that are out of line compared to their competitors, their Japanese competitors who are doing a lot better.

    Now, it’s not unique to the auto industry. We have seen that across the board. Certainly, we saw it on Wall Street. And part of what I’m hoping to introduce as the next president is a new ethic of responsibility where we say that, if you’re laying off workers, the least you can do, when you’re making $25 million a year, is give up some of your compensation and some of your bonuses. Figure out ways in which workers maybe have to take a haircut, but they can still keep their jobs, they can still keep their health care and they can still stay in their homes. That kind of notion of shared benefits and burdens is something that I think has been lost for too long, and it’s something that I’d like to see restored.

    Simply put, drastic times call for measures which favor the American worker again. For years, the corporations have enjoyed the perks the government has given them. The biggest gift of all happened to be the gradual dismantling and eventual repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act in 1933. The passage and signing of the Gramm-Leech-Billey Act of 1999 signaled the regulations of the New Deal were over. At first, these measures for financial institutions were liberatory. Commercial and Investment banks could join forces into a single entity. This type of corporate marriage in the financial world meant more ways to make money hand over fist by pitting the greedy against the most vunerable. It didn’t stay within the borders of one’s country. These dealings extended internationally too.

    But, the higher the high, the greater the fall. Not only did large entities like Citigroup, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and Bear Stearns take a nose dive; a string of other companies people have known and loved over the years (such as Archway & Mother’s Cookies Co., Tower Records and Sharper Image) have shut their doors to the public as well. Within the last four years of the Bush Presidency, the list of folding business (especially those filing for bankruptcy) has grown larger and more nebulous. Those who survived the trial by fire this far has pared down their operations so much that consumers deal with bare-bone operations with few luxuries.

    But even despite all the horrific happenings of the economic downturn, the managment still kept their golden parachutes and other perks while their employees suffered cut-backs. Similarly, the story of Enron depicts one of the most heinous examples of corporate greed and employee negligence. The Enron scandal still stings for a lot of people–including many Californians.

    In light of this, corporations are not going to change over night to be more ethical entities if they continually get rewarded by their political cronies year after year. Instead, there has to be a reintroduction of more regulations along with more support to enforce the restrictions already on the books. Without such backing, the same old thing will happen in a quid pro quo fashion.

    We have to start somewhere in order to rebuild a new type of society from the ruins left in the wake of the Bush years. This means more consideration for workers and their rights. Without the support of the workers, management cannot get anywhere. After all, the workers are voters and conscious consumers. They read the papers, discuss politics and even watch the news just like the majority of other citizens in the United States. Ignore and treat them like the dirt under someone’s shoe and the outcry becomes enormous. Case in point? The 2008 Elections.

    Open Thread–Talk About the Recession and Its Political Impact

    December 3, 2008

    The floor is yours to discuss all the aspects of the recession and its influence on politics. Historical references are especially welcome.

    Please no spam, hate speech or personal attacks. However, lively and passionate debate is always welcome!