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Why Won't the Candidates Talk About Americans' Economic Pain?

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By Paul Waldman, The American Prospect

These are not good times for American workers. Real wages are lower today than they were before the recession of 2001, and barely higher than they were thirty-five years ago. Health insurance is more expensive and harder to obtain than ever before. Manufacturing jobs continue to move overseas. The unions whose efforts might arrest these trends continue to struggle under a sustained assault that began when Ronald Reagan fired striking air-traffic controllers in 1981, in effect declaring war on the labor movement.

This is a story with which you are probably familiar. But these are in no small part symptoms of a larger transformation of the relationship between employers and employees, in which Americans increasingly sign away their humanity when they sign an employment contract.

Let's take just one component of today's work environment that most people have simply come to accept: drug testing. An article published last year on Time magazine's web site titled, "Whatever Happened to Drug Testing?" reported that in the last decade, the proportion of employers testing their employees for drug use has declined to 62 percent, after having exploded to over 80 percent in the 1990s.

That's right -- "only" 62 percent of employers make their employees pee into a cup (or fork over a lock of hair, the current state of the art). The recent decline notwithstanding, the fact remains that most Americans work at places where drug testing is standard practice.

But the classic justifications for drug testing -- that it will reduce accidents, absenteeism, and overall productivity -- turn out to have very little support. When this study was released 10 years ago, it got a certain amount of attention for what the authors referred to as a "surprising" finding. In their survey of high-tech firms, they found that those that performed drug testing on their employees had lower productivity than those that didn't test. Forget all the rhetoric about pot-addled employees missing work and stumbling their way around the office.

But I'd bet that most people who work weren't too surprised. Think about the jobs you've had. Where were you the most productive? Was it when you worked for a boss and an organization that treated you with respect, that valued your contributions, where you actually felt that you were part of something useful? Or were you more productive when you worked for a boss and an organization that governed by fear, that treated you with suspicion and contempt? Most adults have worked for the latter kind, while only some have had the good fortune to work for the former. And many if not most of them do just enough work to stay out of trouble and avoid the wrath of their superiors. That's the spirit fostered in a workplace where employees are treated like criminals.

There is an ideology inherent in the way employers treat their workers, one reflected in the relative amounts of attention paid by the news media to labor issues and the ups and downs of the stock market. Wall Street, of course, makes heroes out of executives who cut benefits and sack workers, like the monstrous "Neutron Jack" Welch, formerly of General Electric. A corporate barbarian of the first order, Welch pocketed hundreds of millions of dollars while firing more than 100,000 employees, then went on to write a series of best-selling books gobbled up by junior executives looking for the secret battle plan to slash their way to the top. He's just one among many; another such executive, who laid off 9,000 people when he was CEO of Halliburton, later became vice president of the United States.

If you are one of those left behind, you get called an "associate" instead of a clerk. In the place of paid vacation, you get company-sponsored activities whose absurdity can only make you more depressed. In the place of a union to represent you, you get assurances that the company considers you part of the "family." Your samples will be analyzed, your movements surveilled, your email read, all in the name of enhancing productivity and rooting out the bad apples. And should they decide your time is done, they will send a security guard to march you out the door in a ritual of public humiliation, lest you decide to pilfer a stapler as a memento of your service.

There is no labor section of the newspaper to tell the stories of the families devastated by layoffs and the workers ground down by the daily parade of indignities. But in the morally inverted world of Wall Street, what's bad for workers is good for stocks, and the cable news "money honeys" will bare their gleaming teeth as they report the inevitable upward swing in share prices that accompanies a mass firing or benefit cut.

It would be positively revelatory to hear a presidential candidate truly speak to the conditions Americans find themselves in at work, to say firmly that companies that treat their employees like dirt are undermining our national spirit. They are the ones who have the ability to change out national conversation on topics like these. What if, instead of simply talking about "creating jobs," expanding health care, or increasing the minimum wage -- important goals all -- they actually attempted to speak to how people feel about their jobs? When candidates say the American dream is getting harder to attain, one often wonders if they understand all the reasons why that is so.

The Republicans certainly know the kind of workplace they admire. It's one in which power -- not values, principles, or fairness, but raw power -- determines how people are treated. They find deeply troubling anything that constrains employers from exploiting their workers to whatever degree they see fit. They despise unions precisely because they alter that balance of power in the worker's favor, providing some check on the ability of organizations to intimidate and humiliate, underpay and overwork. But so far, Democrats haven't articulated their vision of what a progressive workplace in the twenty-first century is supposed to look like -- and what they're willing to do to create it. I'd be eager to hear.

Edited by Mister Fancypants

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Filed: Country: Belarus
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Why Won't the Candidates Talk About Americans' Economic Pain?

Probably because the idiots from both sides of the isle are the root cause of a lot of it by implementing self serving policies that have stabbed us in the back. Ever heard of pleading the 5th?


"Credibility in immigration policy can be summed up in one sentence: Those who should get in, get in; those who should be kept out, are kept out; and those who should not be here will be required to leave."

"...for the system to be credible, people actually have to be deported at the end of the process."

US Congresswoman Barbara Jordan (D-TX)

Testimony to the House Immigration Subcommittee, February 24, 1995

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The Republicans certainly know the kind of workplace they admire. It's one in which power -- not values, principles, or fairness, but raw power -- determines how people are treated. They find deeply troubling anything that constrains employers from exploiting their workers to whatever degree they see fit. They despise unions precisely because they alter that balance of power in the worker's favor, providing some check on the ability of organizations to intimidate and humiliate, underpay and overwork. But so far, Democrats haven't articulated their vision of what a progressive workplace in the twenty-first century is supposed to look like -- and what they're willing to do to create it. I'd be eager to hear.

Interesting article. Yet once again fails on key points by simply shifting the blame to republicans while foolishly ignoring the actions, or lack of, from democrats and basically slapping them on the wrist; Yes the party which controls the house and senate.

As well as ignoring the rampant corruption in most unions.


According to the Internal Revenue Service, the 400 richest American households earned a total of $US138 billion, up from $US105 billion a year earlier. That's an average of $US345 million each, on which they paid a tax rate of just 16.6 per cent.

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Why Won't the Candidates Talk About Americans' Economic Pain?

Probably because the idiots from both sides of the isle are the root cause of a lot of it by implementing self serving policies that have stabbed us in the back. Ever heard of pleading the 5th?

:thumbs: amen


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Why Won't the Candidates Talk About Americans' Economic Pain?

Probably because the idiots from both sides of the isle are the root cause of a lot of it by implementing self serving policies that have stabbed us in the back. Ever heard of pleading the 5th?

The biggest problem with the political system here is that there are only two major parties. Two parties trying to represent the views and opinions of 300,000,000 people. You need at least 10 separate political parties.


According to the Internal Revenue Service, the 400 richest American households earned a total of $US138 billion, up from $US105 billion a year earlier. That's an average of $US345 million each, on which they paid a tax rate of just 16.6 per cent.

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Why Won't the Candidates Talk About Americans' Economic Pain?

Probably because the idiots from both sides of the isle are the root cause of a lot of it by implementing self serving policies that have stabbed us in the back. Ever heard of pleading the 5th?

The biggest problem with the political system here is that there are only two major parties. Two parties trying to represent the views and opinions of 300,000,000 people. You need at least 10 separate political parties.

Its not really the number of parties that's the problem - though it is a symptom of it. Its that too many people are prepared to sit back and let themselves be ruled and dictated to, or simply vote a given way because they've always voted that way. Apathetic attitudes towards politics aren't really anything new - and if you scratch the surface you'll see that most western democracies are like that one way or another.

The UK has 3 major parties (and a host of smaller ones) - but the debates are skewed between the two largest groups (Labour and the Conservatives), if indeed those parties can really be described as separate and distinct - seeing as how New Labour is no longer the Union party but occupies the same center-right ground the Tories used to count on (who in between fighting amongst themselves for 10+ years have adopted increasingly weird positions on issues like European Integration, the single currency and Environmental issues). The only other mainstream party worth a damn is the Liberal Democrats, who do well in the local elections but about have the same chance of being elected to national government as you or I do of stopping an express train with our bare hands.

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I am surprised we don't have a Labor Party here though.

we do - check the delivery room at the local hospital.


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I think the most successful people in the world are entrepreneurs. Being able to sell or provide a product, service, system, technology, process, idea, etc., that is innovative and desirable and partially cashing out. To truly make it here and elsewhere you have to be in this group, otherwise you are always in the weaker position.

Most of us live a life where we work for a paycheck. Some people through perseverance, education, connections, luck, or other skills may earn more and be managers, directors, or perhaps even executives, but that usually translates to larger home, more expensive cars, and little else.

Anything devastating, such as losing a spouse, contracting a terminal or chronic illness, being in a horrible accident, etc., will devastate most average American households and not just from the emotional standpoint, but the financial standpoint as well.

I really have no solid solution. I do know as a species the poorest and least educated people are more likely to produce offspring like rabbits, which fills society with children who grow up with little hope living in desperate situations, while continually overpopulating the planet to higher degrees.

You could look at my life and think, "Wow, that guy is lucky. He seems to have it all," but personally I am terrified of where the US and our society is going.

There was once a time where I thought it would be great to go into a time capsule and fast forward 200-500 years into the future to see what heights the human race had reached, but now I would think there is a chance that much time in the future would result in a barren planet or perhaps a Mad Max, post apocalyptic type world.

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Why isn't anyone talking about inflation? The cost of goods and services has been steadily rising above the increase in family income levels for sometime now... I'm not a Rockefeller. Are any of you?


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Why isn't anyone talking about inflation? The cost of goods and services has been steadily rising above the increase in family income levels for sometime now... I'm not a Rockefeller. Are any of you?

Several major economic issues that are never going to be addressed.

1) Cost of war in Iraq, Afghanistan, and other locations.

2) Cost of Social Security and Medicare

3) Declining value of American dollar

4) Inflation of energy, commodities, gas, and other costs

5) Increasing cost of education with less and less return

6) Sub-Prime loans and inability to correctly value securities with substantial investment in CDO's

7) Credit freezes

8) Housing cost slump - no borrowed equity for consumers to prop up a ####### economy in the short term by buying more junk

9) Declining stock market, even when the Fed is lowering interest rates to prop up the market

10) Continued loss of jobs in multiple industries and areas of the country

11) Inability of this country to even fix our own problems, such as the after effects of Katrina, rebuilding WTC site after 6 years, etc

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Why isn't anyone talking about inflation? The cost of goods and services has been steadily rising above the increase in family income levels for sometime now... I'm not a Rockefeller. Are any of you?

Several major economic issues that are never going to be addressed.

1) Cost of war in Iraq, Afghanistan, and other locations.

2) Cost of Social Security and Medicare

3) Declining value of American dollar

4) Inflation of energy, commodities, gas, and other costs

5) Increasing cost of education with less and less return

6) Sub-Prime loans and inability to correctly value securities with substantial investment in CDO's

7) Credit freezes

8) Housing cost slump - no borrowed equity for consumers to prop up a ####### economy in the short term by buying more junk

9) Declining stock market, even when the Fed is lowering interest rates to prop up the market

10) Continued loss of jobs in multiple industries and areas of the country

11) Inability of this country to even fix our own problems, such as the after effects of Katrina, rebuilding WTC site after 6 years, etc

Very true! Besides adjusting the interest rate, printing more money, additional tax credits, and/or increasing our debt (which could translate in the continued downward spiral in the value of the dollar), it appears that the government is hoping that the system will auto correct itself or that industry will bridge the gap. I'm not sure what the answer(s) are but somebody needs to start talking about the way ahead...


[CLICK HERE] - MANILA EMBASSY K1 VISA GUIDE (Review Post #1)

[CLICK HERE] - VJ Acronyms and USCIS Form Definitions (A Handy Reference Tool)

Manila Embassy K1 Visa Information

4.2 National Visa Center (NVC) | (603) 334-0700 press 1, then 5....

4.3 Manila Embassy (Immigrant Visa Unit) | 011-632-301-2000 ext 5184 or dial 0

4.4 Department of State | (202) 663-1225, press 1, press 0,

4.5 Document Verification | CLICK HERE

4.6 Visa Interview Appointments website | CLICK HERE

4.7 St. Lukes | 011-63-2-521-0020

5.1 DELBROS website | CLICK HERE

6.2 CFO Guidance and Counseling Seminar | MANILA or CEBU

6.3 I-94 Arrival / Departure info | CLICK HERE

Adjustment of Status (AOS) Information

Please review the signature and story tab of my wife's profile, [Deputy Uling].

DISCLAIMER: Providing information does not constitute legal consul nor is intended as a substitute for legal representation.

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