Towards a New Trade Policy

I have been looking at our trade policies recently……most are horrible for the worker and there is a consensus that we need to find a new and improved trade policy….

I have found a pretty good piece that covers this situation…..

International trade deals have lost their consensus support as more workers view them as anathema to good-paying jobs, requiring the U.S. politicians to rethink these strategies

On Jan. 23, President Donald Trump signed an order directing the U.S. Trade Representative to withdraw the country from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), the trade deal that the previous administration had spent years negotiating with eleven other nations around the Pacific Rim. This executive action represents a first step towards a controversial new direction in trade policy.

The TPP was already on life support, as the 2016 election campaign made it toxic with the majority of American voters. Bernie Sanders, Ted Cruz and Donald Trump all focused great energy on the trade pact as an example of the failed economic policies of recent decades. Even Hillary Clinton, despite her previous public support for the TPP and other trade agreements, was forced to come out against it, to fight off criticism from Sanders in the primaries, and Trump in the general election.

Source: Towards a New Trade Policy – Consortiumnews

I understand the need for economic growth….but I do not think it should come at the expense of the workers and the Middle Class.

Losing My Respect

We all have heard about the raid in Yemen just after Mr. Trump took the reins of power….some say it was botched…others claim it was a success….but that does not matter who is right…what matters is the one SEAL was killed and 8 others were wounded in this raid….

I understand that these types to raids are dangerous and the outcome is seldom a given…..but some news has come out and if true is very disturbing……

President Trump’s Twitter trail has raised questions about his precise whereabouts inside the White House while the U.S. raid in Yemen that resulted in the death of a Navy SEAL was underway.

On the night of the raid, which targeted a top Al Qaeda leader in the Arabian Peninsula leader in Yemen, Trump sent out a tweet about an upcoming media appearance.

‘I will be interviewed by @TheBrodyFile on tonight at 11pm. Enjoy!’ Trump wrote on January 28. The tweet got taken down about 20 minutes later.

The tweet went out as the Yemen operation – the first military strike Trump ordered as president – was underway the Huffington Post reported.

Some say that it was a member of his staff that Tweeted…I hope so……

Trump was on the White House grounds that night, inside the residence – which would place him away from the Situation Room.

‘He was obviously aware of the strike occurring,’ White House press secretary Sean Spicer following the raid. ‘He was kept in constant contact Saturday night of the status of the mission, both of the success that it had and the tragic loss of life that occurred to that member.’

If true, please notice that I typed “IF”) then why was he NOT in the Situation Room…..that is the least he could do when sending troops to do our dirty work.

Please, Take My Job!

Just last week I wrote a closing thought about robots and the jobs that are lost because of their use…..you may check out the post here…..

I, Robot I recall many years ago when the news of the first robots being used by the auto industry was all the talk…..of course the pro side was that they would do hazardous work and thus wou…

Source: Closing Thought–14Feb17 – In Saner Thought

To be truthful it was a negative post on the loss of jobs…so when I read this article to the contrary I felt I needed to post it also……there is always 2 sides to every report, right?

Over the next 15 years, 2 to 3 million Americans who drive for a living – truckers, bus drivers and cabbies – will be replaced by self-driving vehicles, according to a December 2016 White House report on the ascent of artificial intelligence (AI). An estimate by the University of Oxford and Citi, a bank, predicts that 77 percent of Chinese jobs are at risk of automation over roughly the same period.

Millions of people around the world would lose their jobs under these scenarios, potentially sparking mass social unrest and upheaval.

Source: Robots are taking jobs, but also creating them: Research review – Journalist’s Resource Journalist’s Resource

While I was writing this update I found yet another  piece about robotics and jobs…..this time it is something that Bill Gates had to say……

Job-stealing robots should be taxed the same as humans, Bill Gates says. “If a robot comes in to do the same thing, you’d think that we’d tax the robot at a similar level,” the Microsoft founder tells Quartz. He says governments should tax companies that replace workers with machines and use that money to fund jobs that can only be performed by humans, such as caring for children and the elderly. In what is perhaps a surprising declaration for a man who built his fortune through innovation, the billionaire philanthropist contends the pace of automation in job-killing industries ought to be slowed, and taxes can help do that. “It is really bad if people overall have more fear about what innovation is going to do than they have enthusiasm,” he says.

While the European Parliament last week nixed a robot tax for now, notes the Telegraph, such a levy is being pushed by the French socialist candidate for president. But the idea of taxing machines is picking up steam even in the unlikely climes of Silicon Valley, which seems to favor the customers, not the industry, footing the bill, per the Financial Times. But the world’s richest man doesn’t think manufacturers would mind paying up. “I don’t think the robot companies are going to be outraged that there might be a tax,” he says. “It’s OK.” Skeptics took to Twitter, blaming Microsoft’s own technology for lost human jobs. (Read the full interview here.)

This is a fascinating debate….I can see both sides of this issue….but then there are the workers….many promises are made and seldom followed through….how will this situation be resolved?

A good question for a rainy day.

Closing Thought–14Feb17

I, Robot

I recall many years ago when the news of the first robots being used by the auto industry was all the talk…..of course the pro side was that they would do hazardous work and thus would cut down on injuries and days lost…the co side pointed out that these machines were replacing good paying jobs for workers….

Since those early days the debate has continued to rage on and on….who benefits from all the automation?

We are at a crossroads that will determine our economic future. There is hope, but also the possibility of a turn into a state of oligarchical barbarism, Frase postulates. The following is an excerpt from the introduction to Four Futures.

Why, the reader might ask, is it even necessary to write another book about automation and the postwork future? The topic has become an entire subgenre in recent years; Brynjolfsson and McAfee are just one example. Others include Ford’s Rise of the Robots and articles from the Atlantic’s Derek Thompson, Slate’s Farhad Manjoo, and Mother Jones’s Kevin Drum. Each insists that technology is rapidly making work obsolete, but they flail vainly at an answer to the problem of making sure that technology leads to shared prosperity rather than increasing inequality. At best, like Brynjolfsson and McAfee, they fall back on familiar liberal bromides: entrepreneurship and education will allow us all to thrive even if all of our current work is automated away.

Source: Will Automation Benefit Humanity and the Planet, or a Tiny Elite?

And the debate will continue……..

My day is done……I pass on to a more restful stage…..be well, be safe….I shall see everyone tomorrow.

The New, New Dictatorship of the Proletariat

This is a fun post for me….for too long those slobbering idiots on the Right have thrown around the terms Marxist….Communist….socialist…ad nauseum and I would wager that the way that any of them knew the term was from the use of the Google button or listen to another babbling buffoon.

So about here the reader is thinking that I will go off on some rant about this thing about the workers being in charge….oh wait!  Maybe I should explain the term “Dictatorship of the Proletariat”……

  1. In Marxist socio-political thought, the dictatorship of the proletariat refers to a socialist state in which the proletariat, or the working class, has control of political power. The term, coined by Joseph Weydemeyer, was adopted by the founders of Marxism, Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, in the 19th century. The use of the term “dictatorship” does not refer to the Classical Roman concept of the dictatura, but instead to the Marxist concept of dictatorship. Following on from the theories of Marx and Engels, Marxists believe that such a socialist state is an inevitable step in the evolution of human society. They argue that it is a transitional phase that emerges out of the “dictatorship of the bourgeoisie”, or capitalist society, in which the private ownership of industry and resources leads to a monopoly of economic power by the capitalist class. With an economy under democratic control, Marxists expect political power to be held by the majority working class. Whether or not capitalists are disenfranchised would depend upon the particular circumstances of a nation. In a period immediately after the Russian Revolution, the mode in which democracy was organised automatically disenfranchised capitalists; however, Marxists such as Lenin argued that other forms of a ‘dictatorship of the proletariat’ in more developed countries would include capitalists among the electorate. However, as large-scale capitalism is phased out, future generations would not become capitalist owners, and class divisions would no longer exist within the electorate. As a result, the ‘dictatorship of the proletariat’ would wither away, resulting in an entirely classless, stateless form of society known as pure communism.

If that one is too much to handle then maybe a short more simplistic definition…..The temporary period following the fall of capitalism characterized by a struggle to achieve a classless, stateless and moneyless communist society.

Could there be a new way of looking at an old term?

2016 has shown us that the worker is looking for any option to make his/her life better….even to the point of looking to those in the ivory towers for answers………..

So, I’m watching CNN or MSNBC, one of those, and I see a guy being interviewed, identified as the head of the union that represents the workers at that factory down the road from Carrier. Carrier, you’ll recall, was the outfit that got over three-quarters of a billion in tax breaks in exchange for a temporary hold on sending an additional 800 American jobs to Mexico, instead of the larger number of jobs that Carrier had planned to ship south of the border, down Mexico way. In exchange for that big tax break, Donald Trump dominated another couple of news cycles and became, momentarily, the champion of the working man, the indefatigable foe of predatory capitalism, and the best damn friend the working man ever had, a veritable Joe Hill for our times.  Remember his famous last words: “Don’t mourn. Organize”? That Joe Hill.

Anyhoo, this guy on CNN or MSNBC, one of those, was being asked if he wasn’t a little peeved to find that Trump hadn’t saved a single job at his plant, hadn’t cared about the workers at Rexnord the way he did about those workers at Carrier. As it turned out, this union spokesman had voted for Trump, and though he was sorry Trump hadn’t lifted a finger to protect workers at his plant, he seemed unrepentant about having cast a union officer’s vote for a man who was notorious for stiffing workers. In fact, this union rep even went so far as to make excuses for Trump, and to explain to viewers how there were just lots of jobs that would never be saved, no matter what, because of things like automation. even though that plant closure wasn’t going to result in Mexican robots getting those jobs that were going south. No, it was real flesh-and-blood Mexican workers who were going to be doing what those men and women in Indiana had been doing. Or so it seemed to this viewer.

Source: The New, New Dictatorship of the Proletariat – LA Progressive

Is Trump A Socialist?

Did you hear that?  That was the sound of millions of Trump supporters asses slamming shut!

Please read the post and not just the title like so many do…..

Ever read something that makes sit back and have a good chuckle?  Well I found one over the weekend……

Surely you have heard about the deal the Trump made with Carrier (UTC)…..the one about the jobs….ring a bell yet?

Don’t strain that sleeping brain……

With his deal to keep Carrier’s factory in Indianapolis open, Donald Trump has fulfilled a big campaign promise, saved 1,100 highly paid American jobs—and, once again, created an enormous controversy. Carrier, which had planned to shift production to Mexico, will receive at least $7 million in financial incentives from Indiana. Critics say this sets a dangerous precedent, and wonder whether Trump is planning to make deals with every company that threatens to move jobs overseas. A round-up of coverage:

  • Trump praised the deal in a visit to the factory Thursday, CBS reports. “Companies are not going to leave the United States anymore without consequences. It’s not gonna happen,” he said.
  • United Technologies, Carrier’s parent company, “took Trump hostage and won. And that should send a shock wave of fear through all workers across the country,” Bernie Sanders writes in a Washington Post op-ed. With the deal, he writes Trump has endangered previously safe jobs by signaling “to every corporation in America that they can threaten to offshore jobs in exchange for business-friendly tax benefits and incentives.”
  • White House press secretary Josh Earnest told reporters the deal is “obviously good news,” but hardly comparable to the 804,000 jobs in the manufacturing sector he said President Obama created, the Guardian reports. Trump would need to “make 804 more announcements just like that” to equal what Obama did, Earnest said.
  • Trump revealed to Carrier workers that despite his promise to keep jobs there, he hadn’t really been talking about that particular factory. “I said Carrier will never leave,” he said. “But that was a euphemism. I was talking about Carrier like all the other companies from here on in.” He said he decided to get on the phone to execs anyway “because of the love affair I’ve had—this has been a very special state to us.”
  • Jimmy Pethokoukis, an analyst at the conservative American Enterprise Institute, didn’t pull his punches in an interview with CNBC. He said Trump’s remarks were the worst economic speech since Walter Mondale’s attack on Reaganomics in 1984. He says it is “absolutely chilling” that American corporations will now have to make business decisions based on “fear of punitive actions based on who knows what criteria exactly from a presidential administration.”
  • NPR notes that United Technologies makes a lot of money from government contracts, suggesting “strong-arm” tactics played a role in the deal. Analysts including George Mason University professor of economics Tyler Cowen, a libertarian, warns that “crony capitalism” could prevail under Trump, with plenty of rewards flowing to companies that please the president.
  • But at the Carrier plant itself, the mood is unsurprisingly jubilant—and pro-Trump. The announcement was a “Christmas miracle,” Jeffery Blackford, who was worked for the company for 25 years, tells the Indianapolis Star, which reports that under the deal, the average wage will be $30.91 an hour. “Hopefully this right here will be a start of a new beginning, where we can stop manufacturing from leaving this country.”

That should catch you up…..

A leading conservative writer has stepped up and given what Trump has done a name……

GEORGE WILL: So far Donald Trump’s style is personal, not to say visceral, and ad hoc. And what that adds up to is a kind of use of presidential power absolutely unconstrained by law and statute and all those other niceties. The problem is when you have, in the Carrier case, political power used to bring pressure upon a privately held corporation that has a fiduciary duty to maximize shareholder value and drive them off with political pressure from making economic decisions about economic assets, you are, in effect, at the end of the day, getting the federal government involved in capital allocation. There is a name for that, it’s called socialism.

This ought to put the conservative writer on the shit list of all those slobbering Trump supporters……

After accusing the Left for decades of being a socialist group and plotting to somehow install a socialist government….we find the Trump is more socialist than the Left…..according to Will.

I cannot wait for the mindless dribble that should come my way…..but…….

Please before you slugs on the Right have anything to say….leave me out of it…..your point of contention is with George Will, a fellow conservative….all I did was show that not all conservatives are willing to kiss his ass like you.

Brief History Of Labor Day

Today we have a day off from work…..and that is about the extent of what Americans know about Labor Day….

Few think about the child labor laws, overtime pay, 8 hour week day or 40 hour work week and so much more…..we can thank unions for much of the benefits that we workers have today.

Where did all this begin?

Through the years the nation gave increasing emphasis to Labor Day. The first governmental recognition came through municipal ordinances passed during 1885 and 1886. From these, a movement developed to secure state legislation. The first state bill was introduced into the New York legislature, but the first to become law was passed by Oregon on February 21, 1887. During the year four more states — Colorado, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and New York — created the Labor Day holiday by legislative enactment. By the end of the decade Connecticut, Nebraska, and Pennsylvania had followed suit. By 1894, 23 other states had adopted the holiday in honor of workers, and on June 28 of that year, Congress passed an act making the first Monday in September of each year a legal holiday in the District of Columbia and the territories.

The first Labor Day holiday was celebrated on Tuesday, September 5, 1882, in New York City, in accordance with the plans of the Central Labor Union. The Central Labor Union held its second Labor Day holiday just a year later, on September 5, 1883.

In 1884 the first Monday in September was selected as the holiday, as originally proposed, and the Central Labor Union urged similar organizations in other cities to follow the example of New York and celebrate a “workingmen’s holiday” on that date. The idea spread with the growth of labor organizations, and in 1885 Labor Day was celebrated in many industrial centers of the country.

The form that the observance and celebration of Labor Day should take was outlined in the first proposal of the holiday — a street parade to exhibit to the public “the strength and esprit de corps of the trade and labor organizations” of the community, followed by a festival for the recreation and amusement of the workers and their families. This became the pattern for the celebrations of Labor Day. Speeches by prominent men and women were introduced later, as more emphasis was placed upon the economic and civic significance of the holiday. Still later, by a resolution of the American Federation of Labor convention of 1909, the Sunday preceding Labor Day was adopted as Labor Sunday and dedicated to the spiritual and educational aspects of the labor movement.

The character of the Labor Day celebration has undergone a change in recent years, especially in large industrial centers where mass displays and huge parades have proved a problem. This change, however, is more a shift in emphasis and medium of expression. Labor Day addresses by leading union officials, industrialists, educators, clerics and government officials are given wide coverage in newspapers, radio, and television.

The vital force of labor added materially to the highest standard of living and the greatest production the world has ever known and has brought us closer to the realization of our traditional ideals of economic and political democracy. It is appropriate, therefore, that the nation pay tribute on Labor Day to the creator of so much of the nation’s strength, freedom, and leadership — the American worker.

Now you, my reader, knows more than most Americans about Labor Day……

Please go now……enjoy your BBQ, the beers, the sports and the family…..IST will return to a full posting schedule tomorrow…..

Live Long With Laughter.