Category Archives: Labor and Unions

End the Crisis in Gaza

By David Gibson and Dr. Janet Amighi,
7/20/14

While Israel claims it is under threat, its own actions and policies are actually the driving force of Palestinian resistance.  It is most extreme in Gaza.

Gaza is kept shut off by land, sea and air from the rest of the world and even from their relatives in the West Bank. They cannot export their products or import needed supplies to rebuild after each Israeli incursion or bombing. They are locked in an overcrowded prison with undrinkable water and worse and then condemned as terrorists if they protest.  Gaza is permanently under siege- who can live like that?

Now as Israel attacks, Gazans run terrorized in the streets or cower in their homes with nowhere to flee. (Warning leaflets dropped from the air have no use when there is no place to evacuate to.) They have no shelters, they cannot become refugees. They can’t even get ambulances through to collect the wounded and the many dead. Even on the beach a group of boys are not safe.  They are trapped victims of an unbelievable horror. No one comes to their aid.

What is the cause of this brutal attack?  Israel says it is self-defense, against rockets, against kidnappers, against tunnels.  Palestinian leaders in Gaza say they will not accept a ceasefire until the blockade is lifted, that they will not stop resisting until they can lead tolerable lives.

According to Nathan Thrall writing in the New York Times, the trigger of this most recent Israeli attack against Gaza was the Reconciliation Agreement under which Hamas agreed to turn over leadership of Gaza to President Abbas and his Fattah party and create a unity government.  The West at first supported this move, but Israel resisted and her allies fell into line. Thrall calls it, “Gaza and Israel: The Road to War, Paved by the West, (July 17, 2014).  He claims that Israel is trying to preserve the status quo- keeping control over Palestinian land, water, and lives.

The US is Israeli’s willing ally to the tune of 3 billion dollars a year in military aid, not because it is in our national interest, but because our politicians are afraid to confront right wing actions by the Israeli government.

The United States can help save both Israeli and Palestinian lives by demanding a lasting ceasefire, lifting the blockade on Gaza, ending U.S. military aid to Israel (or at least withholding such aid until a ceasefire begins and lasts for, say six months), hold all sides accountable for human rights violations, and engage with all Palestinian factions (including Hamas).

Peace, Shalom, and Salam to all

Please take action for peace in Palestine and Israel.

Call the White House comment line:

202.456.1111

Demand a ceasefire and suspension of U.S.  weapons and military aid to Israel.

To call your Member of Congress:

US Capitol Switchboard (202) 224-3121

To locate your Member on-line:
U.S. House of Representatives: www.house.gov
U.S. Senate: www.senate.gov

White House: http://www.whitehouse.gov/

Demand a ceasefire and suspension of U.S. weapons and military aid to Israel.

Advertisements

History Shows, People Power Makes the Difference.

By D. E. Gibson ©

Power comes down to two things. Money and People. When they have the money, we need the people!

It was dusty, hot, and the air and the ground around us, seemed yellow. It was sandy, rocky, sage brush with a few stunted trees all around. On one side of US 95, was a steel chain link fence some 10 feet high or more, which stretched for miles in both directions, topped with concertina razor wire. On the other, about 3,000 individuals from all over the country were lining up to support hundreds who were illegally entering the gates on this side of the fence. Beyond this throng, just a mile north, organized in a sand pit past some small hills on Bureau of Land Management property were a collection of tents, small and large, pitched as I recall, about 100 yards from the road. White ones. Bright yellow and orange ones, blue ones. Olive… There were a number of vehicles as well. Support vehicles, generators, water trucks, and personal transportation of a wide variety. Some of the tents were individual one and two person affairs. Some were much larger canopies, and house size structures used for kitchens, dining halls and communal meeting spaces. I remember flags on poles. Peace flags. Rainbow flags, even American Flags. (I will have plenty more to say about the American Flag in later posts)

I have been told that you could hear the sound of the drums in the back ground. I do not remember this myself but do remember drums and other musical instruments there, so … why not? Sounds like something we would have been doing then. Playing drums and clanging cymbals and making noise in celebration of life and resistance to oppression. And if we were not, we should have been. Like the Canadian activists who have come out recently banging their pots and their pans during their protest marches! How cool.
Here was the layout:

Top

In 1988, in the Nevada desert, I was part of an event involving civil disobedience where about 3,000 people were arrested over the course of 10 days. I have read that this was the largest civil disobedience action in US history with a record of arrests.

We were protesting underground nuclear weapons explosions to test and develop new and more dangerous bombs and missiles about 1,000 of which, could destroy most life on Earth. (There were about 70,000 in the world then, ready to launch) The demonstration was named “Reclaim the Test Site.” I had trained and prepared for this event for months. I had flown out here all the way from Montclair NJ to meet my crew. They had driven out earlier, caravan style, meeting up with other caravans and rolling into “Peace Camp” within hours of many others that I had spontaneously coordinated by phone and fax back in our office in Montclair before driving to Newark Airport and boarding a plane to join the fun. (This was all before cell phones… Members of other caravans from the South and the North East and the East, and the North West called in to their headquarters by pay phone… Does anyone reading this remember those?) I spoke with their home offices. They, in turn, would let their folks — who would call in from time to time – know how far in miles they were from some other group of fellow travelers and on what particular route some other caravan from some other part of the country might be. Some joined up en-route thanks to this. Some joined up outside of Peace Camp. Others aimed to roll into peace camp as close to a common arrival time that we organized in an impromptu fashion over the phone. Me with my map spread out on my cluttered desk with my speaker phone in front of me… No google maps in them days … Most of the travelers arrived on the same day within hours of each other… an intermittent procession of caravans arriving from all over the country. I imagined cheering campers greeting them, which indeed is what I was told later actually happened. This helped build solidarity and gain us some local media attention too.

I was up most of the night alternately on the phone and at our brand spanking new copy machine, my back pack and travel gear stored on the floor by the door, as I was running off materials for a professional door-to-door canvass we had organized as one of our contributions to this effort. While the protest was set for Nye County, the canvass was in Las Vegas, which was the next county over. Since none of the money we collected was for the protest, but to set up a group in Vegas of locals who would call for conversion of the test site to peaceful purposes, we were completely legal,– much to the chagrin of Las Vegas police who wanted to arrest us, like their Nye County Compadres, but were unable to. So… Ha!

My crew, all experienced professional canvassers, had caravanned out to meet some other canvassers from other canvass offices — most from SANE/FREEZE, (The Committee for a SANE Nuclear Policy merged with the Nuclear Weapons FREEZE Campaign.) Some were committed to the canvass, and others were committed to the action and planning arrest. We were well represented.

When I arrived just hours after most of the caravans got there, I disembarked at Las Vegas Airport. As I got off the plane the very first thing I saw drove home what we were really resisting. I saw a line of Slot Machines. “Yes” I thought to myself with a wry smile. “Makes sense”.

I was up and animated when I got to Vegas thanks to the excitement of the occasion and adrenaline in my system, despite my tired state due to a night of little sleep. (Exacerbated by the little plastic bottles of bourbon I drank on the plane.) I made my way to the temporary office for the American Peace Test in Las Vegas. The American Peace test was, in a way, a splinter group of sorts, breaking off of the larger FREEZE Campaign to mount increasingly militant, disciplined, civil disobedience against the US nuclear weapons program, and the US’s overall policy of militarism. They coordinated with groups protesting in Greenham Common in England and at the test sites in, what then was still, the Soviet Union as well… making this a truly global organizing campaign. Most Americans would have been shocked and in denial of the fact that there was a robust peace movement in the USSR in those days.

The office certainly felt temporary. It was located in the rear of, some sort of commercial, newly and cheaply constructed mini-mall sort of thing, though it didn’t appear to have any retail outlets. It had small offices of the kind where you might find a moving company, a machine shop, or a fly-by-night furniture warehouse. Lots of white and silver and aluminum, and no trees to mention in the parking lot except for the small, spindly newly planted variety. The kind held in place by some cable tied to the ground and supported by fresh pine one by twos. Even the doors seemed to be made of a hollow aluminum frame. The office was located across from the rear parking lot of one of the smaller casinos… (Casinos were everywhere. So were more slot machines. They seemed to be in every commercial location one entered, including super markets.)

Some of the canvassers took what they made canvassing and leveraged it at the gaming tables. One guy won enough money to buy an airplane ticket back to Los Angeles, which was fortunate as he did not have a return plan when he got there. All of us took advantage of the very cheap food, steak dinners and the like, and cheap booze that the Casinos made available to attract out-of-towners to come in and lose their savings. What a racket! But it was, after all, Vegas! Back at the office there was a kitchenette kind of deal, with a sink a very small refrigerator, and a microwave.

We lived on peanut butter, bagels and bread, and some whole wheat pasta which I would cover with tahini sauce. At Peace Camp there was a communal kitchen with lots of … well… chili and salad I imagine… I never ate there myself. We ate pretty well off of the money we canvassed. Which was also OK because the contract called for paying us from revenues that we raised while signing people up. Not a bad system.

The whole operation was run on consensus, which immediately ended my role in the canvass as a leader as soon as we had our first meeting. It stung my ego but enriched my soul. I was suddenly no longer the architect of this unique first ever organizing model, but simply the driver and another canvasser. It was kind of liberating in a way and immensely satisfying seeing everyone step up and take responsibility. My ego healed quickly.

Upon arrival I met with an organizer or two. The details are a bit hazy, but we arranged, from previous contact, to have access to either one of the two rental vans that were around to bring people to and from the office to Peace Camp and back.

We also arranged whose couch I would sleep on as I did not have a tent at Peace Camp. I don’t remember getting much sleep anyway. As I remember I moved around a lot, staying on the weekend with other canvassers and activists at some out of town lawyer’s home for a night and a day. I was charged with going to the grocery to pick up food for a large group meal, and since I had not yet gotten my paycheck, I was to do most of the labor for my part of the meal. When I got to the super market, I dropped a few quarters (all I had left) into one of the slot machines up front and won enough to cover my share of the groceries and a little extra, saving me from a night of indentured servitude at the whim of my fellow activists… WHAT a relief. Capitalism came through for me that time.

We would have access to the van at around 2:00 PM each day to bring people to the City and then, after meeting and preparing for the field at about 3:00, we would drive canvassers to their neighborhood and drop them off. Then I would drive back to the office, and pick up whoever needed a ride back to Peace Camp. Then I would turn around, and head back into the city giving anyone who needed it, a ride and drop them off. If I had time, I would go out and canvass. If not I would just go and pick up the crew. Then drive back to Peace Camp. To get around during the day or on the weekend, I used the little red Mazda owned by one of my crew, a young man with blond dread locks.

I found myself going back and forth to the city for various reasons during the day while some members of my crew joined hundreds of others crossing the line and being abducted by Wackenhut Security on the test site grounds and put in a large metal “pen” in the desert until they could be loaded on buses and driven to the town of Tonopah, some 65 miles from the vicinity. We called it “The Cage”. It was a 28,800 square foot chain link fence built in the shape of a square near the South Entrance not too far from the road. As activists crossed the cattle guard at the gate’s entrance, or scaled the fence, they were picked up by security guards, some on foot, some driving souped up dune buggies. Once herded into the “cage” they were taken, as a group, to the buses.

On March 13, 1988, the Los Angeles times had this to say about it: “Orchestrating the arrests were about 100 sheriff’s deputies, 50 Nevada Highway Patrol officers and an unknown number of Department of Energy security officials, who used helicopters, motorcycles and camouflaged dune buggies to track down the hundreds of trespassers who managed to evade a wall of guards manning the area near the entrance.”

The first time this happened, on the first day of the action, it was not expected… Organizers scrambled to find all manner of vehicles and gave chase. After about a day or two, we got really good at following the buses and retrieving our folks and getting them back to the scene of the demonstration pretty quickly thereby effectively thwarting the Nye County Sheriff’s office in their plan to break the civil disobedience.

The reasons they cited for this strategy, to bus our people far away, showed our evident effectiveness at gumming up the system, which, at its root, is one of the reasons for civil disobedience to begin with.
Also in the LA Times was this:

“Activist Jessie Cox was one of many who chastised authorities for using “the cage.” “This cage that has been built in the desert appears to be a detainment camp for nonviolent protesters,” Cox said. “We are not only concerned about its use, but about the historic precedent that the image of a stalag-like structure conjures up.”

But Chris West, a spokesman for the Department of Energy, which manages the test site, said the enclosure, which cost $35,000, was needed to control ever-increasing numbers of protesters here.
There have been 3,610 people arrested here since the first demonstration was held in 1957, authorities said. But 3,217 of those arrests were made in 1986 and 1987.

“We are sorry this is happening,” West said, “but we can’t just let people go haphazardly anywhere they want on the test site.”

Still, Nye County prosecutors stopped filing charges against most trespassers here a year ago in an effort to ease the county’s mounting court load.
“They are trying to use the Nye County criminal system as a forum and we are not going to waste taxpayers’ money by giving them that recognition,” said Nye County Deputy Dist. Atty. Jeff Morrison. Instead, he said, “the complaint is routinely dismissed and they go on their merry way.”

So it was obvious that all of that work, demonstration after demonstration, was paying off from a tactical point of view at least.

But was it paying off strategically? A most important question. While the department of energy denied any effect on operations, which was true at the time, the effect on political policy was another matter.

Representative Pat Schroeder, a Congressional ally from Colorado introduced HR 3442, mandating the cessation of US nuclear testing (and thereby British tests, since they used our test site for their own nuclear tests… stopping the US would stop the Brits… A twofer) so long as the USSR maintained their moratorium on testing. The bill eventually gained over 100 co-sponsors, but was never voted on. Schroeder claimed its support was influenced by the civil disobedience at the test site.

The Soviets ended their unilateral moratorium on February 5, 1987, but the last US test explosion was 4 years after Reclaim “The Test Site”, in 1992, though the amount of tests were vastly reduced before that time.

However, later in 1988 the US and the USSR began the Joint Verification Experiment, where technical personnel from both countries traveled to each other’s testing facility to begin the actual monitoring program that would allow each to verify that the other side was not testing. So this, then, was the beginning of the end of nuclear test explosions by all countries to this day with the exception of North Korea, and it looks like possibly Pakistan (and then maybe India?) again soon. We have to organize to stop this if we can!

In 1992 the US Congress passed the Hatfield-Exon amendment, cutting funds to achieve a nine month nuclear testing moratorium. This cancelled the last three scheduled tests for 1993. The ban has held ever since despite our Senate’s refusal to verify the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty signed by Bill Clinton in ‘96.

My own belief is that what finally ended nuclear explosions was civil disobedience, like this action and the threat of continued demonstrations, along with millions of petitions, tons of letters and phone calls, and simply ongoing unrelenting pressure of ALL kinds from many, many regular folks from all over the place.

There was also the largest single demonstration in US history to end the nuclear arms race, earlier in Central Park in 1982, which can be seen as the start of the final grass-roots push to end all nuclear testing. Protests had been going on since the beginning of nuclear testing.

The nuclear weapons freeze referendum passed in many states across the country before being defeated in Congress… which helped change tactics to a more militant variety culminating in the mass arrests at the test site.

Who knows? The increasing acts of civil disobedience (CD) HAD to worry policy makers. As the protests and CDs grew in frequency and numbers I am sure, it is only common sense, that despite official denials, it had to worry those in power that this kind of thing might continue to grow until it got unmanageable.

Back in the late 80’s a one judge, Judge Sullivan, after listening to an emotional appeal from a family member who was in court on his trespass charge (which they received at the Test Site) stopped the proceedings and told the court and everyone there that “I just want you to know I think you are making progress through your efforts.” according to a personal account in a book entitled “A Family Says No to Violence: Personal Empowerment through Nonviolent Civil Disobedience.” by Sally A. Mack.

We must never underestimate our own power… It is, after all, all we can count on in the end… and when united with others, we can multiply that power to make real, and often lasting change.

But our power is not like the power we resist. The power of greed, suicidal greed, when one thinks of the polices that give us realities like 70,000 nuclear weapons, “Shock and Awe”, addictive use of fossil fuels resulting in increasing average global temperatures, and the very real and staggering threat of a possible runaway greenhouse effect.

Their power is massive, it seems to be everywhere, but it isn’t. It is pervasive, and it is coercive. Ours is different and, when planning to resist and work for change it is always, in my opinion and that of many experienced organizers, best to organize from a place of your own power. As a matter of fact, Saul Alinsky, one of my early organizing role models, had set down some principles for us to use when developing strategy. He said, we need three things to give an organizing campaign a decent chance of success.

1 – Give your people a sense of their own power. You do this by organizing from your own experience and outside your opponent’s experience. Mass CD is often a good case of this, but not always. It is good to assess the degree to which your target understands and knows how to respond to CD.
2 – Alter the relations of Power. Doing things outside their experience can win you a seat at the table.
3 – Win concrete improvements in your people’s lives…
The Anti-Nuclear Arms Movement has succeeded at all of these…

What’s next?

There are still dangers to be sure, and nuclear weapons still need to be abolished because they still pose a very real threat to each of us and all life on the planet, though we ARE in an undoubtedly safer position than we were in 1988.

But in terms of the goal of the campaign for the Anti-Nuclear Arms movement, I would say that if we can succeed in achieving a ratification of the Test Ban Treaty in the Senate, then we have won and we should have one hell of a very public and audacious party to celebrate because we need to, for our own psyches, reward ourselves for a hard-fought campaign that many of us sacrificed much for. But as importantly, we need to organize that celebration as a national event. We need to put some resources into it to give notice to those in power that – yes — we DID win. We went up against the most powerful death machine in history and we pushed it back from the brink and saved us all from annihilation.

ANNIHALATION!

That IS something to celebrate. And we want them to know that we will not take whatever else they have in store for us without a fight. We need not be violent. That is their way of playing the game. We will NOT let them reduce us to their level. We WILL overcome… That is the message a large victory celebration would send. Stand by, next chapter in the saga is coming up and we are prepared to win again…

We have no choice if we want to live. Because as soon as the hangover wears off, we will be planning our strategy for our next campaign to make this world we live in a better place to live the kinds of lives we want to live and that we all deserve.  So, to spell it out, what I am proposing is a national celebration as a campaign strategy.

The powers we resist threaten to do us all in, globally and in our own neighborhoods. All to serve a system which more and more people have witnessed serves a very few at the expense of an increasing number of people at the bottom. A growing, and REQUIRED underclass that must exist for this system to operate.

This is what we resist: A war around the planet, and one in communities of poor and African-American people and other people of color and people who are divergent from the main stream life style.

We resist a system which pits us each against each other to purposely keep us divided so that we never learn our power. The power of our numbers. The power of the many, the power of people, the power that has been seen throughout history to eventually overthrow the tyrants that have oppressed them time and time again. The Power of unity. The power of love!

A power we can realize when we break down the barriers and differences that divide us and when we learn that everything IS connected.

Like the power of 3,000 people from all walks of life and an amalgam of backgrounds that came together in the hot Nevada Sun to stand up to the nuclear nightmare that had been created to threaten us all just to profit a few.

It is the same power that we use when we reclaim our streets by building community and sharing the burden to make the streets safe to walk again. The power to change how we raise our children so that they suffer less trauma than we have, and can grow with understanding of, and compassion for others. Nothing else will do… There is no other way for us to survive, otherwise, as things progress and resources dwindle and new ways of organizing society are called for, we won’t be competing and killing each other to eat, but feeding each other to prosper.

We ARE all in this together. So far, there is no other planet we can go to and the world as we know it keeps getting smaller. We must choose to run our own lives, personally and as a community. Power structures HAVE to change. Patriarchy, and yes, Capitalism, at least in its current form, must become a thing of the past. We must evolve or perish.
________________________________________

I Want My Country Back

Yes, you heard me.  I want my country back… back from the Tea Party and the big corporations that financially support them.  I do NOT want my country to return to the Tea Party and Republican principles of:

  • Repealing the Civil Rights Act because the central Government should not tell States how to treat American citizens.
  • Eliminating the 19th Amendment to the Constitution.  Women should not be voting.  They don’t have time for politics because they need to be in the kitchen cooking and they should be waiting on their husbands.  The bible tells us that women are subservient to men.
  • Returning to slave labor and sweat shop labor practices because businesses should be free to abuse their employees without Government interference.
  • Dismantling Social Security because seniors should have planned better for their retirement.  Too bad and too sad if Wall Street bankers stole most of their IRA money.  Tough luck if the seniors worked at jobs that didn’t have a pension program or 401K program.  If these seniors worked for minimum wage, they still should have thought ahead even if it required providing less food and clothing for their children so that they would have that extra money to save for their retirement.  Some Republican candidates are claiming that Social Security is unconstitutional.
  • Dismantling Medicare because health care is not a right, it is a privilege and the Tea Party does not approve of privileges except when it comes to their idols and themselves.  Besides, only the privileged deserve health care.
  • Eliminating disability payments because people need to be more responsible and not get injured on the job.  This includes our military veterans.  They should stop whining because after all, they volunteered.
  • Forcing Catholics, Jews and Muslims to commit sins by having to read and study the protestant bible in public schools.
  • Allowing property owners to create toll roads.  People have a right to collect money from anyone that crosses their property line.  Good luck with getting to work on time and having any money left over from your paycheck after paying all the tolls.
  • Supporting “Second Amendment” solutions as a means of conflict resolution.  This might also work as a method of population control.
  • Returning to the glory days of lords and serfs.

I want my country back from hate mongers like Beck, Palin, Limbaugh, Malkin, Kristol, Bachmann, Rove, Cheney, and all the rest that appear on Fox News, the opinion network.  The goals for these people are to divide our country and to make piles of money while undereducated people do their dirty work for them.

I want my country back from racists such as Beck, Laura Schlesinger, the Tea Party and the Larouches.  These people are so upset because there is a black family living in, what they perceive as, the White(‘s only) House.

I want my country back from people that profit from the suffering of others (Beck, Palin and Limbaugh).

I want my country back from politicians that place Wall Street above and before Main Street, such as Pat Toomey, Tom Corbett, Jim Gerlach and all the other Republicans and Tea Party members.

Yes, I want my country back.  The one where everyone is treated with respect and  equality, the one where everyone receives good health care, the one where everyone receives a livable wage, and the one where everyone is free to practice their religious beliefs without interference from other religions.

I want back, the country that was progresing forward.  Not the one that is currently heading in Reverse.

Corporate Crybabies – People vs Corporations _UPDATED

Yesterday, President Obama addressed the tax breaks that corporations receive for sending our jobs overseas.  Yes, corporations are making millions and millions of dollars and NOT paying taxes and then sending OUR jobs overseas so that they can continue to not pay taxes to our government.  Keep in mind, these same corporations pay their executives millions and millions of dollars and pay their employees the low wages of India and China.

The proposal takes aim at what corporate executives consider to be one of the most critical features of the U.S. tax code: permission to indefinitely defer paying U.S. taxes on income earned overseas.

Currently, U.S. companies can avoid paying taxes on foreign profits until they bring the money back home. So a U.S. company doing business in Ireland, for example, must pay the Irish tax of 12.5 percent, like every other company doing business in Ireland. But the U.S. firm would owe an additional 22.5 percent to the U.S. Treasury (the difference between Ireland’s tax rate and the 35 percent U.S. tax rate) unless it reinvests the money overseas.

Hum, “permission to indefinitely defer paying U.S. taxes”, that sounds like a good deal.  What that means is there is no incentive to bring  jobs back to the United States.  It provides incentive to keep sending jobs overseas.

If we are to recover from this depression without continuing to bailout banks, then we need jobs, here, on the U.S. soil.

Some in Congress are hesitating support for this change in our Government tax plan.

“Further study is needed to assess the impact of this plan on U.S. businesses,” Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.), chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, which has jurisdiction over U.S. tax law, said in a written statement. “I want to make certain that our tax policies are fair and support the global competitiveness of U.S. businesses.”

The American worker has always produced superior products.  Back in the ’70’s, the mantra was buy “Made in the USA” because purchasing products made here, gave an American a job and was always of high quality.  It’s difficult to find something “Made in the USA” anymore.  Most items are made in sweat shops that employ children in third world countries.   While these sweat shops produce cheap and inferior products, like all (slave labor) sweat shops do, the corporations make millions of dollars and do NOT pay U.S. taxes.

(President) Obama proposes to move in the opposite direction. He argues that the current system gives tax breaks to U.S. multinationals at the expense of companies that operate solely on American soil. In 2004, the most recent year for which statistics are available, U.S. multinationals paid an effective U.S. tax rate of just 2.3 percent on $700 billion in foreign profits, according to the administration.

“It’s a tax code that says you should pay lower taxes if you create a job in Bangalore, India, than if you create one in Buffalo, New York,” the president said yesterday.

The President is correct.  Why should multinational corporations receive tax breaks while companies that operate solely on American soil not receive a tax break.  The Republicans are always chanting “small business”.  Most small businesses operate ONLY on American soil so they don’t get these tax breaks.

President Obama plans on helping small businesses.

To level the playing field, Obama would bar firms from taking deductions for expenses that support their overseas investments until they pay U.S. taxes on the profits. He would also crack down on firms that overstate their foreign tax bills. And he would reverse a Clinton-era rule known as “check the box,” which permits firms to more easily transfer cash between countries. In practice, Obama officials said, “check the box” has been used to shift income away from higher-tax countries and into tax havens such as Bermuda and the Cayman Islands, allowing firms to reduce their tax bills both at home and abroad.

Those provisions would take effect in 2011 and would raise about $190 billion by the end of the next decade. In return, Obama proposes to make permanent an existing tax credit for companies that spend money on domestic research and development programs, worth about $75 billion over the next decade.

Then there are the “tax shelters”, the banks where the “rich” hide their money from the U.S. Government.  They shelter their wealth while you and I pay taxes and they don’t.

Obama also proposes to crack down on wealthy people who evade taxes through offshore bank accounts, primarily by targeting financial institutions in tax-haven jurisdictions. That plan, which would net another $9 billion over the next decade, appears to have few opponents.

All this money being denied to the U.S. Government.  No wonder the Republicans are yelling that the U.S. Government can’t provide health care for all Americans.   All this hidden money in taxes and all this avoidance of paying taxes leaves the Government funds short.

UPDATE:  About those “green jobs”

Now read the rest of this whiny fallacy….

Continue reading Corporate Crybabies – People vs Corporations _UPDATED

More on Specter and Employee Free Choice – UPDATEbb

UPDATE:  The Plumbers Unions are outraged at Joe the Plumber… read about it here

““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““`

Oh no… looks like Arlen Specter has just been given the kiss of death… death of his political career, that is.  Joe the non-plumber, is lobbying Arlen Specter’s on the Employee Free Choice Act.

(h/t Huffington Post)

Americans for Prosperity’s National Save My Ballot Tour Travels to Pennsylvania, Mar. 30-31 Wednesday, March 25th 2009

Americans for Prosperity’s National Save My Ballot Tour Travels to Pennsylvania, Mar. 30-31
Events in Pittsburgh, Harrisburg and Philadelphia will feature special guest speaker Joe the Plumber

AFP urges Senator Sen. Arlen Specter to vote against Employee Free Choice Act

HARRISBURG─ Americans for Prosperity (AFP) will defend workers’ rights to cast secret ballots in Pennsylvania as part of its nationwide Save My Ballot tour in opposition to the Employee Free Choice Act, also known as “card check,” which would strip workers of their rights in union organizing elections.

“Some lawmakers want to abolish private ballot elections through the misnamed Employee Free Choice Act, and allow unions to organize just by collecting signatures on union cards. This would give them the ability to pressure and intimidate workers in public,” said AFP President Tim Phillips. “We support the secret ballot so every worker has the right to vote on such an important matter without coercion or retaliation.”

AFP will be joined by Joe the Plumber in taking its Save My Ballot Tour across Pennsylvania– Pittsburgh, Harrisburg, and Philadelphia– to urge U.S. Senator Arlen Specter to vote against card check legislation.

“Senator Specter may be the deciding vote on this key piece of legislation,” said Phillips. “We need to send him a strong message that the so-called Employee Free Choice Act is an enormous assault on our democratic values and on our rights here in Pennsylvania and across the nation.”

Beginning in North Carolina, the nationwide tour kicked off in Greensboro and Raleigh last month where over 500 citizens urged Senator Kay Hagan to vote ‘no’ on card check legislation. After Pennsylvania, the tour will travel to Virginia and Arkansas.

Speakers will include business, community, and political leaders concerned about what “card check” legislation could do to hurt economic prosperity in Pennsylvania.

All events are free and open to the public. Food will be served.

Now for another point of view… below is a copy of a comment that was posted to the Arlen Specter and the Employee Free Choice Act by EFCANOW:

EFCANOW Says:
March 25, 2009 at 11:27 am e

EFCA Senator Specter A victim of FEAR, Intimidation and Coercion Tactics

by Employee Free Choice Act News
Wednesday Mar 25th, 2009 7:08 AM

Employee Free Choice Act: Senator Specter is No Different than a Worker Faced with an Employer Union Busting FEAR Campaign.

In an essay Senator Specter recently wrote for the Harvard Journal on Legislation, he states that for people like himself, “finding a practical solution is more important than political posturing.” That’s why we’re dismayed by those who say they support the democratic process, yet refuse to allow meaningful debate and a democratic vote on critical legislation like the Employee Free Choice Act.

Yesterday Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) had a change of heart after he announced that he would support a filibuster this year in an attempt to block the legislation from coming to a Senate floor vote.

What made Senator Specter change his mind after years of supporting cloture and the Employee Free Choice Act?

Surprisingly to most Senator Specter who was a sponsor of the original Employee Free Choice Act in 2003, supported the bill again in 2005 and voted against a Republican filibuster of it in 2007, was the newest victim to feel the wrath of a powerful union busting campaign built on FEAR, Intimidation and Coercion by Corporate Front Groups such as the Coalition for a Democratic Workplace who have embarked on a multi-million dollar public Union Busting campaign, against workers rights, the Employee Free Choice Act and targeted senators in key states that included polling, television, radio, Internet ads and direct mail.

Like most union campaigns workers who originally support unionization are faced with an all out assault by Employers who spend hundreds of thousands of dollars in hiring Union Busting consultants who’s job is to instill FEAR, Intimidation and Coercion tactics in an effort to defeat these workers from forming or joining a union.

Senator Specter who faced a primary from his own republican party caved into the pressure by these Corporate Front Groups NOT because he doesn’t believe in the Employee Free Choice Act and workers rights, NOT because he doesn’t believe in democracy or the right to debate legislation that could improve the lives of millions of working Americans but because the FEAR, Intimidation and Coercion tactics were enough for him to bare.

While labor unions such as the AFL-CIO, SEIU, USW, UAW, Teamsters, Change to Win and the SPFPA continue to fight for The Employee Free Choice Act, which has now become the biggest Union Busting campaign in history, the record will show that Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) like many workers who originally support unionization, higher wages, better benefits, better working conditions, a voice on the job, can be persuaded to vote against their beliefs if enough FEAR, Intimidation and Coercion tactics and pressure is bestowed upon them either by an Employer or a Corporate Front Group such as the Coalition for a Democratic Workplace.

Senator Specter new position denouncing the Employee Free Choice Act on the senate floor yesterday is just one more reason why both congress and the senate need to pass the Employee Free Choice Act NOW!

For more information on Employer Intimidation and Union-Busting FEAR Tactics Press Below

http://efcanow.blogspot.com/2009/02/just-say-no-to-employee-free-choice-act.html

http://www.TheTruthAboutEFCA.Org

http://efcanow.blogspot.com/

“Americans for Prosperity”… what a name.  The Republicans really know how to choose deceptive names for their organizations.  Reminds me of the “Clear Skies Act” which in reality added more polution to the air that we breathe.  Now if only the Republicans would tell the truth instead of trying to hide their lies.

Arlen Specter and the Employee Free Choice Act

Yesterday, I sent an email to PA Senator Arlen Specter asking him to support the Employee Free Choice Act.  This is his response.

Dear Pennsylvania Constituent,

After giving exhaustive consideration to the Employee Free Choice legislation, I have decided to oppose the bill for reasons specified in my Senate floor statement which is contained below or you may read here and watch here.

I remain open to working to correct the imbalance which exists with so many jobs being exported and substantial labor losses in areas like pensions and health care.

In my floor statement, I have also laid out some suggested revisions to the National Labor Relations Act which could provide the basis for correcting the current imbalance.

Sincerely,

Arlen Specter

Here is Senator Specter’s full floor statement:

Senator Specter’s full floor statement, including the appendix, follows:

I have sought recognition to state my position on a bill known as the Employee Free Choice Act, also known as card check. My vote on this bill is very difficult for many reasons. First, on the merits, it is a close call and has been the most heavily lobbied issue I can recall. Second, it is a very emotional issue with Labor looking to this legislation to reverse the steep decline in union membership and business expressing great concern about added costs which would drive more companies out of business or overseas. Perhaps, most of all, it is very hard to disappoint many friends who have supported me over the years, on either side, who are urging me to vote their way.

In voting for cloture – that, is to cut off debate – in June 2007, I emphasized in my floor statement and in a law review article that I was not supporting the bill on the merits, but only to take up the issue of labor law reform. Hearings had shown that the NLRB was dysfunctional and badly politicized. When Republicans controlled the Board, the decisions were for business. With Democrats in control, the decisions were for labor. Some cases took as long as eleven years to decide. The remedies were ineffective.

Regrettably, there has been widespread intimidation on both sides. Testimony shows union officials visit workers’ homes with strong-arm tactics and refuse to leave until cards are signed. Similarly, employees have complained about being captives in employers’ meetings with threats of being fired and other strong-arm tactics.

On the merits, the issue which has emerged at the top of the list for me is the elimination of the secret ballot which is the cornerstone of how contests are decided in a democratic society. The bill’s requirement for compulsory arbitration if an agreement is not reached within 120 days may subject the employer to a deal he or she cannot live with. Such arbitration runs contrary to the basic tenet of the Wagner Act for collective bargaining which makes the employer liable only for a deal he or she agrees to. The arbitration provision could be substantially improved by the last best offer procedure which would limit the arbitrator’s discretion and prompt the parties to move to more reasonable positions.

In seeking more union membership and negotiating leverage, Labor has a valid point that they have suffered greatly from outsourcing of jobs to foreign countries and losses in pension and health benefits. President Obama has pressed Labor’s argument that the middle class needs to be strengthened through more power to unions in their negotiations with business. The better way to expand labor’s clout in collective bargaining is through amendments to the NLRA rather than on eliminating the secret ballot and mandatory arbitration. Some of the possible provisions for such remedial legislation are set forth in an appendix to this statement.

In June 2007, the vote on the Employee Free Choice Act was virtually monolithic: 50 Senators, Democrats, voted for cloture and 48 Republicans against. I was the only Republican to vote for cloture. The prospects for the next cloture vote are virtually the same. No Democratic Senator has spoken out against cloture. Republican Senators are outspoken in favor of a filibuster. With the prospects of a Democratic win in Minnesota, yet uncertain, it appears that 59 Democrats will vote to proceed with 40 Republicans in opposition. If so, the decisive vote would be mine. In a highly polarized Senate, many decisive votes are left to a small group who are willing to listen, reject ideological dogmatism, disagree with the party line and make an independent judgment. It is an anguishing position, but we play the cards we are dealt.

The emphasis on bipartisanship is, I think, misplaced. There is no special virtue in having some Republicans and some Democrats take similar positions. The desired value, really, is independent thought and an objective judgment. It obviously can’t be that all Democrats come to one conclusion and all Republicans come to the opposite conclusion by expressing their individual objective judgments. Senators’ sentiments expressed in the cloakroom frequently differ dramatically from their votes in the well of the Senate. The nation would be better served, in my opinion, with public policy determined by independent, objective legislators’ judgments.

The problems of the recession make this a particularly bad time to enact Employees Free Choice legislation. Employers understandably complain that adding a burden would result in further job losses. If efforts are unsuccessful to give Labor sufficient bargaining power through amendments to the NLRA, then I would be willing to reconsider Employees’ Free Choice legislation when the economy returns to normalcy.

I am announcing my decision now because I have consulted with a very large number of interested parties on both sides and I have made up my mind. Knowing that I will not support cloture on this bill, Senators may choose to move on and amend the NRLA as I have suggested or otherwise. This announcement should end the rumor mill that I have made some deal for my political advantage. I have not traded my vote in the past and I would not do so now.

***

First of all… this is NOT the “card check” bill.  There is no “card check” in this bill so the Senator needs to stop being dishonest with his constituents.  Senator Specter does have a habit of bending the truth.  Remember the bouncing single bullet that killed President Kennedy?  That story is unbelievable.  Then there was Specter’s attack on Anita Hill during the Clarence Thomas hearings.  He dismissed her accusations as lies.  Senator Specter should have spoken with other women about sexual harassment on the job.  Maybe he would have learned that it is not easy for a woman to speak up and accuse her manager of sexual harassment.

So Senator Specter has decided to NOT support labor and unions in Pennsylvania even though Pennsylvanians are losing their jobs to places like China and India.  If he doesn’t care about us, then we won’t care about re-electing him in 2010.  This seat has now become very viable for any Democrat to fill.  Republicans really don’t care about “Main Street”.

Continue reading Arlen Specter and the Employee Free Choice Act