Nel's New Day

March 28, 2020

DDT: Week 166 – Beyond Coronavirus Congress has passed the $2.2 trillion bill, despite last-minute attempts from Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY) to block it, driving the U.S. into far more debt. Both chambers have left D.C.: the Senate won’t be back until after April 20, and the House return has not been announced.  

A few quirks in the bill:

Employers (but not employees) can defer paying their share of Social Security tax on wages for a couple of years, but employees have to pay it now.

It gives $16 billion to buy ventilators and other medical equipment so DDT told car companies to make ventilators although he doesn’t see any reasons for more.

Food stamps aren’t expanded in the bill.

Federal lenders must stop all payments for student loans through September 30 and cannot charge interest or nonpayment fees. Credit scores and loan forgiveness won’t be affected; also suspended are wage garnishment and tax refund reduction for people who defaulted on federal student loans. The bill has no affect on private student loans which comprise about 12 percent of all education loans in 2018-2019. 

Despite Democrats attempt to keep Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) from making a profit on the bill, he can find loopholes. He can use real estate losses to minimize taxes on profits from items such as investments in the stock market which had been limited by the 2017 tax-cut package. DDT has always kept his taxes secret.

DDT also said he would ignore the law’s provision requiring independent oversight of his desired $500 billion “slush fund.” That way he can give money to his favorite and biggest donors. He also wants his signature on the stimulus checks. After all, election is only 239 days away.

Cruise ships aren’t getting bailout although information changes day by day. DDT insisted that we “can’t let the cruise lines go out of business,” but not one major cruise line lies the U.S. flag because it avoids laws, regulations, and taxes. No environmental laws about ship “discharges,” no U.S. labor laws, minimized criminal and civil liability, and reduced taxes. And they aren’t an “essential” industry.

Surrounded by his wealthy white male loyalists, DDT signed the bill. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), the person who managed to get it through the House, received no credit from DDT and was not invited for the signing. He has not spoken to her for five months. [Republicans below from left to right: Economic adviser Larry Kudlow, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (KY), DDT, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (CA), and VP Mike Pence.]

Over 90 percent of people in the U.S. believe a recession is coming, with seven percent disagreeing.

DDT and Barr are attacking corruption and fraud—in Venezuela. Sweeping indictments against the country’s President Nicolás Maduro with a $15 million bounty on his head are DDT’s latest attempt at a coup in Venezuela. Charges were filed in New York and Florida, probably because of those states’ investigating the DOJ. The indictments cannot arrest Maduro in Venezuela because of a well-equipped military and strong Russian support for him. To make National Assembly leader Juan Guaidó as Venezuela’s legitimate president, indictments include the head of Venezuela’s legislature, defense minister, and Supreme Court chief justice. DDT’s oil embargo has made Russia a winner because of Moscow’s deals to produce, transport and sell Venezuelan oil to markets other than the U.S.

Information about DDT keep crawling out from underneath the rocks, including his late-2018 protection of Walmart’s criminality regarding opioid-dispensing after a four-year investigation. Investigators found that Walmart pharmacists in Texas, Maine, North Carolina, Massachusetts, Kansas, and Washington filled prescriptions not for legitimate medical purposes when company competitors had not. Walmart also failed to comply with an FDA deal to tell them about sending the federal agency any alerts about illegitimate practices. Prosecutors who tried to make a criminal case have left the DOJ, and new ones have no interest in forcing Walmart to meet the law. Details here.

During the health crisis, DDT continues his purge of “nonloyalists,” this time Heather Swift, deputy assistant secretary of public affairs in DHS, who has been moved to the National Endowment for the Arts. Heather Swift, the deputy assistant secretary of public affairs at DHS, was moved to a senior post at the National Endowment for the Arts. Earlier, Swift was press secretary for Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke before he left in disgrace.

A victory for the Standing Rock Sioux tribe of North Dakota came from a federal ruling that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers violated the National Environmental Policy Act by approving federal permits for the Dakota Access Pipeline. The USACE moved forward with building the pipeline across the Missouri River without considering the environmental impact study from the tribe in 2017. The Obama administration had denied building permits in 2016.

A federal judge ruled that DDT must go to court over allegations of violating the First Amendment by revoking press badges and security clearances. The decision came one day after the D.C. Circuit Court considered DDT’s removal of the press badge for Playboy’s White House correspondent Brian Karem.

Before the $2.2 trillion congressional bill, the Federal Reserve tried to salvage DDT’s stock market by purchasing unlimited amounts of U.S. Treasury’s and mortgage-backed securities. In the last recession, the Fed put almost $4 trillion into the financial system over several years; the current action could exceed that amount in a few weeks. Economists described the Fed’s response as “throwing the kitchen sink” at markets. DDT is delighted, but the markets aren’t. All afterhours trading in the U.S. is down, and only Japan and Hong Kong markets are up in the world.

The U.S. has cut $1 billion in aid to Afghanistan, and ISIS is taking responsibility for killing 25 people in a Sikh religious complex in Kabul.

DDT made hundreds of calls to evangelical Christians across the nation and promised:

“It’s a big day, Nov. 3; that’s going to be one of the biggest dates in the history of religion….”

Losing national monuments can also destroy jobs—700 of them when DDT stripped Bears Ears National Monument and the Grand Staircase-Escalante in Utah of their federal designations. Businesses do better after monuments become official, especially in areas of hotel and lodging (16 percent job increase) and construction (17 percent increase). Health services, finance, insurance, and real estate also benefit. Mining and forestry don’t lose jobs by keeping the monuments.

During the health crisis, ICE is stopping most deportations except for people who have committed crimes or pose a threat to public safety. HUD is suspending foreclosures and evictions until the end of April.

The majority of people aren’t swallowing DDT’s lies about the health crisis:

  • 73 percent, including 75 percent of Republicans, said that it was not true that “anyone who wants to get tested [for the virus] can get tested.” Just 17 percent said it was true.
  • 20 percent of the public, and just 25 percent of Republicans, said that they believed a vaccine will be available soon. Forty-two percent said that was false and 38 percent said they did not know.
  • 51 percent, including a plurality or Republicans (46 percent), said it was false that the virus would go away on its own in warm weather, while just 13 percent said that was true.
  • 61 percent said they believed covid-19 was more deadly than the flu; 22 percent said it was about the same; and 11 percent said they believed it was less deadly.

Confusion about whether the FDA approved anti-malaria drugs, which killed at least one person and put others into the hospital who took it without medical advice, still existed: 45 percent agreed the state was false, 22 percent said it was true, and 33 percent didn’t know. 

Within a month from the first confirmed death from covid-19 in the U.S., the total reached 1,000 before doubling in just two days. And that’s without testing most of the people who might have covid-19 and not reporting many of the confirmed cases and deaths. Today, the world’s death rate is 2,227 from 123,750 confirmed cases; the world’s death rate is 30,879 in 663,740 confirmed cases.

May 8, 2016

Altercation over ‘Potty Police’

It’s Mother’s Day, and conservatives are working to convince mothers that they aren’t safe in bathrooms at Target stores and in states that don’t prevent trans people from using the facilities that match their identity—and appearances. When one considers the way that anti-trans activists are behaving, all women might worry about going into public bathrooms. One example is comes from the ultra-religious American Family Association, that is sending men into women’s bathrooms at Target.

According to AFA’s director of governmental affairs, Sandy Rios, the group is asking men to go into women’s bathrooms to build the AFA boycott against a company’s policy that customers can use the bathroom where they think they belong. AFA’s premise is that there will be “trauma, certainly for little girls [by] having men dressed like women coming in their bathrooms.” Therefore, AFA are going into these restrooms to frighten people—create “trauma”—instead of using the restrooms for their intended purpose. By now, however, AFA has gotten such bad publicity about doing this that they are denying that they have promoted this shocking behavior.

AFA is also announcing that they have over 1.2 million “pledges” to boycott Target, and news outlets in our post-fact world are publishing AFA’s press releases instead of investigating the facts. According to The Daily Beast, AFA used the online form Wufoo, owned by SurveyMonkey, which fails to check if the emails are related to real people. Different investigators have each signed the pledge with multiple emails, both real and bogus. The submissions are all accepted because there is no direction to “Allow Only One Entry Per IP.” Anyone can set up a robot to enter emails, resulting in the 1.2 million “signatures.” AFA also does not display any names of signers, nor do they send written confirmations to them.

Those earnest people who plan to shop at Walmart, recommended by Faith Driven Consumer, show that company policies don’t bother them. Walmart has had nondiscrimination protections for its trans employees since 2011. The same people may already be shopping at Walmart because the prices are better and the stores are more accessible. AFA-based Mississippi has 80 Walmart stores but only six Target locations in the entire state. Alabama has six times the number of Walmart stores as Target.

In answer to objections from protesters, Target spokeswoman Molly Snyder stated: “We certainly respect that there are a wide variety of perspectives and opinions. As a company that firmly stands behind what it means to offer our team an inclusive place to work — and our guests an inclusive place to shop — we continue to believe that this is the right thing for Target.” She added that people uncomfortable using their multi-stall restrooms are welcome to use the stores’ single-stall/family restrooms.



Continuing the obsession with bathrooms across the nation, Kansas legislators have introduced a “spot a penis win prize” bill that will help students pay for college tuition.  If the bill becomes law, schools can be sued for $2,500 every time a trans student walks into a facility “designated for use by the aggrieved student’s sex.” The bill even has a four-year statute of limitations, one year longer than child molestation has in former House Speaker Dennis Hastert’s state of Illinois.

jessica rushMen now feel free to go into women’s bathrooms on the belief (pretense?) that they saw a man go into the facility. Afraid that Jessica Rush was peeing in the wrong bathroom at Baylor Medical Center in San Francisco, a man barged in after her.  Rush, born female, was wearing basketball shorts and a T-shirt from her alma mater, Texas Tech. With her bleached blond fauxhawk, she has been accused of being a man in a woman’s bathroom before. Trying to take advantage of these accusations, she decided to use the men’s restroom when the woman’s facility was full and immediately got thrown out. Men quickly figured it out and yelled, “Whoa, there’s a chick in the bathroom! Get out, get out!”

lee's clone

While conservatives worry about the nonexistent trans “predators” in bathrooms, they protect their own molesters. About serial child molester Dennis Hastert, GOP colleague Tom Delay wrote that he “has never disappointed me in any way.” He also tried to justify Hastert’s “transgressions” by doing is when he was “a young man.” Yet Hastert was still molesting young boys when he was over 30 years old.  Former CIA director Porter Ross wrote about Hastert, “Perhaps, the Speakers greatest gift to the House was trust.”

Republicans who vilify trans people who just want to pee give enormous privilege to those who display “Christian” piety. DeLay explained that Hastert “loves the Lord [and] gets his integrity and values from Him” because Hastert started a lunch-time Bible study for his colleagues. Protestants have been outraged at Catholic Church leaders who hid child molestation, but they allow their own to hide and continue their crimes under the guise of religion. In the Christian religion, repentance exonerates the criminal.

July 3, 2014

Walmart Thinks ‘Work Makes Free’

Filed under: Uncategorized — trp2011 @ 6:56 PM
Tags: , ,    Walmart has discriminated against women, stolen money from workers, and starved people with its penury wages. Now it’s gone over the edge with a new “inspirational poster.” The message? “Arbeit Macht Frei.” To people who don’t speak German or didn’t follow the concentration camps of the Holocaust, this means “Work Makes Free.”

arbeitmachtfrei-070214 The poster features gate of a Nazi concentration camp, Dachau, that has the slogan embedded into the iron work. Card-carrying, Swastika-wearing, Aryan-nation, hate-mongering right-wing terrorists will love the poster. They can get it for $42.75. The description reads “Gate with inscription Arbeit Macht Frei, Dachau Concentration Camp, Dachau” and mentions that the poster “would make a great addition to your home or office.”


Before the Jewish people, Jehovah’s Witnesses, LGBT people, and immigrants were first to be imprisoned and exterminated at Dachau after Germany enacted the Nuremberg Laws in 1935. In the first months after Hitler came to power, racial and religious discrimination laws were enshrined into national policy.

More than 200,000 people were imprisoned at Dachau between 1933 and 1945. Another 36,000 people were incinerated in the camp’s crematorium. Dachau served as a prototype and model for the other Nazi concentration camps that followed.

Walmart didn’t seem concerned when a customer complained. The company responded:

“We have this product in stock because there are some customer [sic] who like to buy this type of item, but this doesn’t mean [Walmart] are supporting any ideology related to this item.”

The PR problem became obvious, and the company changed to a message that began with “we were horrified.”

They should have kept the poster: it’s Walmart’s “motto.”

April 1, 2014

Fools on April Fools’ Day

April Fools’ Day! The day that kids love to play pranks on adults and other kids. The day that goes back to the Roman celebration Hilaria on the first day of the year that is longer than the night. So I’ll celebrate the day by writing about the fools of our time.

My current favorite fools are all the people who think that the Green family of Hobby Lobby, suing to keep their religious beliefs, genuinely care about their avoidance of contraception—which they call “abortion.” While the family refuses to allow their insurance to pay for employees’ contraception, they hold more than $73 million in mutual funds with manufacturers of emergency contraceptive pills Plan B and Ella, intrauterine devices, and drugs commonly used in abortions. Teva, Pfizer, Bayer, AstraZeneca—all produce contraceptives. In addition, Hobby Lobby’s health insurance covered Plan  B and Ella for years; they only dropped this coverage when they decided to file a lawsuit against the Affordable Care Act.

Other fools:

Edward Farrell: Perhaps the dumbest man in the United States is the vice-mayor of Maricopa (AZ) for his praise of Fred Phelps. Known for his picketing of funerals of fallen soldiers with signs saying that they deserved to die, Phelps and followers planned to picket the Arizona funeral of the 9-year-old girl killed when then Rep. Gabby Gifford was shot. After the 84-year-old leader of the Westboro  Baptist Church in Topeka (KS) died, the satiric Onion published an “obituary” that described his achievements:

“Nowhere in this country can same-sex partners enter into domestic partnerships, file joint tax returns, or adopt children. The unmitigated failure of the gay rights movement is something that can be singlehandedly attributed to Fred Phelps and his tireless efforts to show us that this was an unholy behavior.”

On his Facebook page, Farrell wrote, “We need more Fred Phelps in this world. May you rest in peace sir.” He later retracted his statement, saying that he didn’t know who Phelps or the Onion was. Maybe Maricopa doesn’t need a vice-mayor.

Walmart: The company that gets profits from underpaying employees who then get benefits from taxpayers has discovered that it may have lost $3 billion a year by cutting back on the number of employees. That’s what the empty shelves from stocking problems have cost the company. They now plan to “add labor hours as part of an effort to bolster ‘in-store execution.’” Over the last five years, Walmart opened more than 600 new stores but employees 20,000 fewer people. The company even got downgraded by an investment research firm that found the company’s “relentless focus on costs does seem to have taken some toll on in-store conditions and stock levels.” The other fools in this story are the taxpayers who keep paying the $243 billion every year in benefits for poorly-paid employees because of the low minimum wage.

Malaysian Airlines Flight 370: The biggest fools in the disappearance of an aircraft over three weeks ago are the U.S. media that obsessively reported on—nothing. Hour after hour, CNN and Fox entertained its audience about—nothing. Only one thing was discovered: the oceans are full of human-created garbage from lost shipping containers, plastic raw industrial material, and consumer items from people living within 60 miles of coastlines. Entire houses have been found floating in the Pacific Ocean since the 2011 Japanese tsunami.

Plastic trash in the “Great Pacific Garbage Patch,” about the size of Texas, is 100 times more than 40 years ago. Another garbage patch in the Atlantic Ocean a few hundred miles off the coast goes from Cuba to Virginia. We’re the fools for turning our food source into a garbage dump.

Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-KS): The companies that want all foods in the United states to be genetically-modified organisms (GMOs) may have found a patsy to present its bill to Congress. A coalition of grocery, food manufacturing, farmers, and commodity groups wants a “voluntary system” for labeling food that uses GMOs. Such giants as ConAgra and Kraft say they’re just trying to correct the “enormous misinformation” spread by past failed ballot initiatives in California and Washington. Last year, Reps. Jared Polis (D-CO) and Peter DeFazio (D-OR) introduced a mandatory GMO-labeling plan. About 93 percent of the public support labeling.

Benghazi: The famous couple, Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and John McCain (R-AZ) have joined Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) “to investigate the terrorist attacks on our compounds in Benghazi.” After 18 months, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) gave up his futile attempt to tar the president and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. There has never been evidence of any wrongdoing on their part in the disaster that killed four people over 30 months ago, but the 2016 election is fast approaching. The Department of Defense has spent millions of dollars and thousands of hours for Congress’s six investigations into Benghazi with 50 congressional hearings. Issa spent almost as much time on that as the House did on the Affordable Care Act.

Ukraine:  Obama wants peace, but the GOP wants to attack any country that has anything that the United States wants. In the case of Iraq, it was oil. In Ukraine, the U.S. wants to throw Russia out of its only warm-water port and surround the country with missile bases.

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) stomps around the senate floor, yelling about how we should have bombed someone last week. Former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton accuses the U.S. of being a nation in decline because of its dealings with Russia. Former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, the man who was 100 percent sure that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction,  said that even a “trained ape” has better foreign policy skills than President Obama.

President Obama has declared sanctions toward Russia after Crimea moved back to a part of the country, eliminated Russia from the powerful G8 group, and makes plans to send ground troops to the Baltic States of Eastern Europe, but none of it satisfies the conservatives, most of them from the South. In Better off Without ‘Em: A Northern Manifesto for Southern Secession, Chuck Thompson writes, “The southerner’s enthrallment with war and bloodshed, his veneration of defeat and disaster, his zeal for religious crusade, and easy compliance with the corporate profit motive, has repeatedly dragged the nation into unnecessary wars.”

After the growing success of the Affordable Care Act, the GOP needs another drum to beat. Thus the party has chosen their 2014 position as “Democrats are weak on national security.” Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) accused Obama of trying “to alienate and abandon our friends, and to coddle and appease our enemies.” Former Vice-President Dick Cheney blamed what he sees as Obama’s weakness that led Putin to take over Crimea. Putin invaded Georgia in 2008 while Cheney was vice-president, and George W. Bush did nothing.

Most of these same GOP legislators shouting that we need war avoided military service. McCain has his history of being a Vietnam POW, but the dissolution of the draft created a nation of chickenhawk lawmakers. Mike Lofgren, a 28-year member of Congress and author of The Party Is Over, wrote, “If you ever wondered how the United States came to be embroiled simultaneously in two major wars and a half dozen covert ones in the past decade, the cheerleading of Washington’s laptop commandos, with their disproportionate influence in major media, has been a major factor.”

The GOP party of no–erasing health care for everyone except the wealthy, eradicating women’s rights, taking away voters’ rights from anyone who might oppose them, and giving tax cuts to corporations and wealthy people–has no suggestions for improving the infrastructure, lowering the unemployment, and fixing the climate change disaster. Their only foreign policy is saber-rattling.

As Chuck Thompson wrote, “How depressing that we already know that the next Republican warmonger to sweep into power will do so on the same tarnished epaulets of military fanaticism enabled by the outsized influence of the southern polity on electoral America. Southerners are a military people. We were back then, still are today.”

This year we commemorate the 100th anniversary of World War I. Do the chickenhawks want a third world war on this anniversary? China is nervous about the missiles pointed at Russia because China is also surrounded by U.S. naval and air bases. The two countries may declare themselves allies, and the Republicans might decide to take them on. If we take on China and Russia, we might not lose the battles, but we’ll be defeated in the ensuing economic war.

Climate-deniers: If we don’t blow ourselves up by declaring war on Russia and China, the climate will do us in. The U.N. has a second of four reports about the climate. That’s for another day, but Joe Barton (below) is representative of the backward, ignorant thinking of GOP members of Congress.

Joe Barton harnessing the wind

March 18, 2014

Corporations, the Biggest Welfare Queens

My small town newspaper has a few regular writers, most of them conservatives. Because the newspaper publishes no more than one letter from each contributors, their diatribes pop up about every 30 days. A few weeks ago, one of the Obama-haters wrote about the Affordable Care Act combined with opposition to the proposed minimum wage. In her mind, both of these will hurt the economy because they take away jobs. Thrown into her inflammatory speech were references to entitlements, “illegal alien amnesty,” the deficit, and the U.S. printing money.

Fortunately, the newspaper also permits “viewpoints” of up to 700 words, giving respondents more space to refute such a collection of misperceptions and falsehoods. Here is my answer, also printed in the local newspaper.

To the Editor:

The arguments against the Affordable Care Act and raising the minimum wage in the March 5, 2014 News Times suffer from cherry-picking of facts and emotional language in an effort to persuade people that having health care for all is a bad idea. Here are other facts—and a few opinions–to follow up “Affordable Care Act: Who will pay for it all?”

The viewpoint’s primary concern is that taxpayers in the country will be forced to provide additional funds for the jobs “lost” through the new healthcare plan by 2024 and the proposed enactment of a federal minimum wage of $10.10.

The ACA, originally developed by the conservative Heritage Foundation, will boost the economy, according to CBO’s director Doug Elmendorf. With affordable health care, people now have more money to spend on other goods and services which then creates more jobs. The purported $70-billion wage loss came from a personal guesstimate of conservative columnist Mark A. Thiessen and not from the CBO report.

People who choose to stay home have been unfairly depicted as lazy. They may need to care for their children or sick relatives, be too sick to adequately perform job duties, want to retire a year of two early, or are looking for a few extra non-work hours. Some of these people may become entrepreneurs and pay more taxes through their businesses. Such conservatives such as Sens. Ted Cruz and John McCain have criticized the “job-lock” caused by high healthcare premiums.

The CBO reported that ACA will reduce the deficit by more than $1 trillion over 20 years and that people are paying less for ACA’s premiums than projected. Repealing the ACA would add $8 billion to the deficit, according to the CBO. This year’s deficit is on track to be only one-third of George W. Bush’s last budget. The stories about Joe Taxpayer paying more for insurance have all been debunked unless Joe wants junk insurance without hospitalization and other basic medical care or refuses to find lower premiums at a marketplace.

Low-income people are learning to use regular health care instead of getting expensive treatment at emergency rooms, another change that reduces taxpayer costs for health care. Premiums without taxpayer subsidies are also much less because insurance companies can no longer make huge profits by overcharging.

The second objection of the viewpoint was raising the minimum wage to $10.10. Even if this “loses” 500,000 jobs (which increasing the minimum wage doesn’t, according to several studies), this raise will decrease the taxpayer cost of food stamps by almost $4.6 billion per year. Oregon alone would save $26 million in just one year. As wages go up, taxpayer cost of ACA subsidies will go down. Increased wages also mean that people pay more taxes. If the minimum wage had kept up with inflation, it would be $10.74 today instead of $7.25. The wage can’t reach $10.10 for three years, even if it were approved now, meaning that it will always stay behind past minimum wages.

Without increasing the minimum wage, taxpayers continue to subsidize corporations. Just one company, Walmart, netted $17.2 billion last year as the 300 employees at just one Walmart store cost taxpayers almost $1 million in public benefit costs. Overall, low minimum wages cost taxpayers at least $243 billion a year–$770 per taxpayer.

Like roads, law enforcement, firefighters, education, and other services that I may not use, good health care is a good investment. As good citizens, we all pay for things that we oppose—in my case, trillions of dollars for wars and a bloated Pentagon budget as compared to only billions for health care.

At the same time that people demand rights granted by the U.S. Constitution, some of them try to avoid their responsibilities as citizens of the richest nation in the world. One of these is affordable health care that can stop deaths for thousands of people, sickness for another hundreds of thousands, and bankruptcy for millions more. Other countries write healthcare into their constitutions. We, too, should recognize our duty to each other as citizens of the United States.

[Seven hundred words didn’t allow for the following:]

The majority of people in the United States, including Republicans, and the majority of small business owners want the minimum wage raised to $10.10. The increase of the minimum wage in Washington state, the highest in the nation, proves that increasing the minimum doesn’t lose any jobs. And the increase in minimum wage barely causes prices to go up. A Big Mac would cost just one dime extra if the minimum wage were to be $10.50, and Wal-Mart shoppers would pay an average of $12 more a year if the minimum wage were $12. At this time, people who work at McDonalds and Walmart can’t even afford to eat and shop there.

One of the biggest welfare queens in the country is Walmart. Its minimum wage costs taxpayers one-third of the annual $243 billion necessary for public benefits. Together the six Waltons on the Forbes 400 list have a combined net worth of $148.8 billion, the same amount as a combined 42 percent of U.S. families. Most workers make less than $25,000 a year with an average wage of $8.81 an hour. That’s 12.4 percent less than retail workers as a whole and 14.5 percent less than workers in large retail.

Taxpayers provide public funds not only for Walmart’s employees’ benefits but also for its tax breaks, free land, infrastructure assistance, low-cost financing, and outright grants from state and local governments. In 2007 the cost to taxpayers was $1.2 billion; the amount has increased each year since then. Special tax loopholes such as those that permit avoidance of estate and inheritance taxes for Walmart family members cost taxpayers billions more in lost taxes, probably as much as $20 billon.

Walmart is a job killer, not a “job-creator.” For every two employees in their stores, almost three people lose their jobs as small businesses close and the corporation imports the merchandise from China.

Walmart is not the only nation’s welfare queen. A new report entitled “Subsidizing the Corporate One Percent” from Good Jobs First shows the billions of dollars in welfare payments from state and local governments to huge corporations. “Three-quarters of all the economic development dollars awarded and disclosed by state and local governments have gone to just 965 large corporations.” That’s $110 billion going to big companies with $63 billion alone to over 16,000 subsidies of firms on the Fortune 500.

At over $13 billion, the biggest welfare queen in the report is Boeing. Others are Alcoa ($5.6 billion), Intel ($3.9 billion), General Motors ($3.5 billion) and Ford Motor ($2.5 billion). Dow Chemical got 416 federal funding awards, followed by Berkshire Hathaway (310), General Motors (307), Wal-Mart Stores (261), General Electric (255), Walgreen (225), and FedEx (222). “Economic development” programs go to corporations that don’t need the money. They may bring some jobs to town, but they create more difficulty when they leave town with empty buildings.

Many people don’t know how they are getting screwed by the big corporations. It’s not the safety net that’s killing the economy: it’s the low wages and lack of universal health care that’s wiping out people. If the wealthy and big corporations were forced to pay their own way in taxes and a living wage for employees, unemployment would go down and the economy would go up.

It’s not the safety net that’s destroying the creativity and independence of the workers in the United States. It’s the takeover in all communities of the small businesses where the owners could take pride as these jobs are exchanged for rote positions at a pittance. The same huge corporations destroy the families because the members no longer work together for a better life in a family-owned business.

November 19, 2013

Crazy News from Ideologues from the Cheneys to Alabama Judges

Even with the GOP home for one of its frequent long recesses, far-right insanity swirls through the news. Anyone following the media, for example, could hardly have missed the actions of the dysfunctional Cheney family. In brief: Liz Cheney moved to Wyoming to run against incumbent GOP Sen. Mike Enzi. She came out in opposition to marriage equality. Sister Mary is legally married to Heather Poe. Mary’s and Liz’s father Dick, who supported marriage equality in the 2004 election for vice-president, defended Liz and called for “compassion.” Mary and Heather posted on their Facebook page that Liz’s lack of support for their marriage is “offensive to say the least,” suggesting that Liz changed her position to campaign against Enzi.

The sisters’ mother, Lynne Cheney, interfered in the campaign in September when she told former Sen. Alan Simpson (R-WY) at a charity event that he should endorse Liz Cheney. He told her he chose Enzi and accused Cheney’s candidacy as dividing state GOP members. Mother Cheney yelled “just shut up” at him three times but later denied saying it. Simpson called her denial “a damn baldfaced lie.”

Simpson also said, “It isn’t as if Mike Enzi were a left wing commie. … He has the backing of [Texas Sen. Ted] Cruz and [Kentucky Sen. Rand] Paul.” It doesn’t go farther right than that—at least at the present time.

Dick Cheney entered the fray after Ezni told website The Daily Beast that he felt “blindsided” by the primary challenge from his old fishing-buddy’s daughter. His “buddy” answered by saying that he and Enzi had not been friends and were certainly not fishing buddies.

Cheney’s four-month campaign has had other problems. She had to pay a $220 fee for falsifying the length of time she had lived in Wyoming while applying for a fishing license. She said a decade; the state said 72 days. Cheney then attacked the Wyoming Star-Tribune for reporting the incident and its editor by name, declaring, “Newspapers are dying, and that’s not a bad thing.”

Another messy GOP situation comes from the University of Texas where the Young Conservatives of Texas planned a “Catch an Illegal Immigrant Game” on campus. Organizer Lorenzo V. Garcia was an intern for Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and reportedly works for Texas gubernatorial candidate Greg Abbott. The “game”:

“There will be several people walking around the UT campus with the label ‘illegal immigrant’ on their clothing. Any UT student who catches one of these ‘illegal immigrants’ and brings them back to our table will receive a $25 gift card.”

This is the same group that hosted a “bake sale” in September that included “special pricing” for customers based on their race and ethnicity. Photos showed the brownie prices:  whites, $2; Asians, $1.50; Latinos, $1; blacks, $.75 and Native Americans $.25. There was even a $.25 discount for all women. Again, Garcia was a leader in the activity. He explained that it was a protest against affirmative action.

bake sale

Another protest fell flat. Last month, Larry Klayman, founder of Freedom Watch and Judicial Watch, asked millions of Americans to march on Washington, D.C. today with the intent to remove President Obama from office. Right-wing site BizPac reported that 40 groups showed up. The total number of people was approximately 100. At least, the weather was good.


With Thanksgiving nearing, a Walmart in Ohio set up a donation box in the employees’ workroom asking for donations to give “associates” a Thanksgiving dinner. Last year, Walmart made a profit of $15.7 billion, but its employees may not have enough food for Thanksgiving. The huge company has had shrinking profits for the past three quarters, however. Could it be because its employees can’t even afford to shop there because of their low wages?


McDonalds has a solution for hunger on its “McResource” website for its workers: break food “into pieces” will keep them full. Other tips include “sing away stress” because it “can lower your blood pressure.” Those who are still stressed should take two vacations a year. Earlier McDonalds told workers to apply for food stamps. Federal minimum wage rate for their workers is $7.25 an hour; McDonalds makes billons annually.

Both Walmart and fast-food workers have been protesting their low pay, with thousands of people coming out in support. A bill, to be introduced in the House this week, would charge for protesting, at least against oil and gas companies. Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-CO) has proposed a bill that would mandate a $5,000 fee for protesting oil and gas drilling on public lands. Other provisions of the Federal Lands Jobs and Energy Security Act:

  • Automatically approve onshore drilling permits if the U.S. Department of Interior (DOI) failed to act on them in 60 days;
  • Direct the DOI to begin commercial leasing for the development of oil shale, prohibited for over 80 years. Oil shale—unlike shale oil—has to be heated to almost 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit to produce crude oil before it is refined. Each barrel of oil requires three to five barrels of water, and the Natural Resources Defense Council calls it “the dirtiest fuel on the planet.”
  • Require the government to offer 10 leases on federal lands in 2014 for oil shale research and demonstration projects.
  • Mandate the government to hold at least 5 commercial lease sales of federal lands for oil shale development, each no less than 25,000 acres, before 2016.

According to the NRDC, oil shale production would emit four times more carbon pollution than producing conventional gasoline.

George Zimmerman, well-known for killing Trayvon Martin almost two years and then being acquitted, is on bail after allegedly attacking his girlfriend twice within the past week. Yesterday, she said he pointed a shotgun at her face, pushed her out of the house, and then barricaded the door. The Florida judicial system likes Zimmerman a lot: his bail is $9,000. 

In Montana a judge gave a rapist only 30 days in prison. Austin Smith Clem of Limestone County (AL) did better than that: the convicted man gets no prison time at all. He only needs to complete a two-year community corrections program designed for nonviolent offenders and serve an additional three years of probation. At least the county district attorney has filed a motion asking for prison time.

Alabama law also allows judges override juries and impose the death penalty instead of life in prison. This week the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear a challenge to this law. Alabama judges have imposed the death penalty 95 times, and 43 of the defendants are still on death row in Alabama. 

One judge, who sentenced to death a defendant with an IQ of 65, said “the sociological literature suggests Gypsies intentionally test low on standard IQ tests.” Another said, “If I had not imposed the death sentence, I would have sentenced three black people to death and no white people.”

Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Stephen Breyer disagreed with the Court’s decision. One study found that overrides significantly increased in election years. Of the 31 states that allow capital punishment, only three permit a judge to override a jury’s sentencing decision—Alabama, Delaware and Florida.

Thus we see the actions of elected legislators and judges who fail to protect the people of the United States out of personal ideology.

April 27, 2013

What’s Missing from Main-Stream Media, April 2013

While the main-stream media concentrates on the Boston bombing, here are a few items that they missed or slighted:

Mark Sanford: The former governor from South Carolina running for representative who said that he was hiking the Appalachian trail for five days while he visited his mistress in Argentina and trespassed in his ex-wife’s home after he was ordered not to do so had arrived at a new low. After the trespass was made public, he ran a full-page ad in the Charleston Post & Currier with his personal cell phone number, asking people to call him “if you have further questions.” A Democratic-aligned super PAC, House Majority PAC, included the number in a fundraising email. In retribution, Sanford published an unredacted list of all his callers’ phone numbers.

The candidate has become increasingly peculiar in his actions. Although he’s running against Elizabeth Colbert Busch, he had a debate with a full-size cardboard poster of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) in Charleston. The image brings back the memories of Clint Eastwood and an empty chair at the GOP convention last summer.

Sanford debates poster

Colorado Voting Bill Mailer: Images caused problems for other conservatives, this time a group connected to Colorado’s Secretary of of State. The House has passed a voting bill to improve the state’s laws. It would allow people to register on Election Day, automatically send mail ballots to all voters, and stop fraud through a real-time voter database. Republican county clerks and Secretary of State Scott Gessler oppose the bill. Using the address of Gessler’s former firm, the “Citizens for Free and Fair Elections” have sent out political mailers using a purchased image.

Colorado mailer light skin

There is a change in the image, however, from the original. The dark-skinned face of a woman in the original photo by Mark Wilson (Getty Images) to show long voting lines in Montgomery County (VA) were in 2012 has been digitally replaced in the mailer with the photo of another woman who is much lighter skinned.

Getty dark skinn

Fox Latino friendlyFox News: In an attempt to appear “Latino friendly,” Fox News used a positive photograph featuring a Latina to illustrate its article headlined “‘Illegal Immigrant’ Dropped from Associated Press Stylebook.” Including quotes from racial justice organization The Applied Research Center, which publishes, the article discussed the controversy referred to the term “illegal immigrant” as “controversial.”

But that was in Fox News Latino; highlighted the story on its front page with a different photo and headline. The headline was switched to “AP Rules: Don’t Call Him an… ‘ILLEGAL?'”

fox Latino unfriendly

Later the headline was changed to “What’s in a Name? AP under Criticism for Nixing ‘Illegal Immigrant,'” but the photo stayed—just a bit smaller.

Mark Zuckerberg: Worth $13.1 billion following his creation of Facebook, Zuckerberg has agreed with the importance of changing from dirty fossil fuels to clean renewable energy. Now his new political group, which bills itself as a bipartisan entity dedicated to passing immigration reform, is spending big bucks on ads advocating anti-environmental causes including drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) and constructing the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline. It’s all in the name of business.

John-Mica_2-e1366991056439Washington, D.C.: The best piece of authoritarian patriarchy came last week from Rep. John Mica (R-FL). The topic was Washington, D.C., always at the mercy of Congressional whim, and its budget autonomy. Recently the city voted in favor of this by 85 percent. Unless both chambers of Congress pass a disapproval resolution which would then have to be signed by the president, the over 600,000 people in this city can decide how they spend the money that they pay into the city’s coffers.

Mica, a committee member who oversees the city’s budget, laughed at the vote and said:

“Well, when my kids were young teenagers, they always wanted budget autonomy too. But we always, you know, you allow them to go their own way, and if they get out of line, according to the Constitution, the Congress has the right to step in…As long as they are minding their P’s and Q’s, so to say, I think the government can back off. But we must remain vigilant.”

Pedro Ribeiro, Mayor Vincent Gray’s spokesman, responded to Mica, “Last time I checked, children don’t have a $6 billion local budget.”

Before he made this comment, Mica admitted the city’s finance management has vastly improved since the dissolution of a Congressional control board. After they took control of the House in 2010, the GOP tried to force the progressive district to outlaw abortion, reduce contraception access, sell more guns, block union membership, cut public transportation funds, and pay for private schools.

Washington, D.C., with almost the same population as North Dakota, has no representation in the Senate. Their one delegate in the House cannot vote on the floor. Its economy is larger than those of 14 states, and its residents pay $1.6 billion a year in federal taxes, more per capita than any state. Washington, D.C. is a prime example of taxation without representation that people fought to overturn almost 250 years ago.

Bangladesh Factory:  The most disastrous event of last week was the crumbling of the Rana Plaza building, housing a major Bangladeshi garment factory. Over 350 people have died, hundreds more are injured, and as many as 900 are still missing. This tragedy, the third in five months, is even worse than the fire at the Tazreen Fashion Factory last November that killed 112 garment workers.

The second-largest exporter of garments in the world, this country relies on garments for 80 percent of its exports. Duty free access offered by Western countries and low wages turned Bangladesh’s garment exports into a $19 billion a year industry. Sixty percent of the clothes go to Europe, 23 percent to the United States takes 23 percent, and another 5 percent to Canada. Gap, Walmart, and other retailers of cheap clothing have fought any reforms that could stop such disasters.

Bank employees in the building escaped the danger after a crack developed in the building because they were told to stay home the next day, but garment workers were ordered to return.

Two years ago, labor groups tried to get the factories and buyers to sign onto a plan that would establish independent inspections to replace the infrequent and often corrupt government inspections. Unsafe facilities could be shut down as part of legally binding contract signed by suppliers, customers, and unions. Companies would provide up to $500,000 per year to pay for the inspections.  All the companies—including Walmart, Gap, and Swedish clothing giant H&M—turned it down.

Walmart’s representative said it was “not financially feasible … to make such investments. Gap, which owns the Gap, Old Navy and Banana Republic chains, said the company refused because it did not want to be vulnerable to lawsuits and did not want to pay factories more money to help with safety upgrades. H&M wants factories and local government to take on the responsibility.

After last year’s Tazreen blaze, the labor group tried again to get the independent inspector plan adopted, but the factories and the big brands would not agree. Siddiqur Rahman, former vice president of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association, denied the factories are responsible for killing the plan and blamed the buyers.

Companies claim that they do private audits. Those don’t work, according to a lobbyist for garment workers, because of their confidentiality. If a company pulls its business after safety problems, it won’t tell competitors who will continue to place orders which keeps the unsafe factory open.  Thus we continue to buy cheap and be complicit in killing hundreds of garment workers, almost all of them women.

December 5, 2012

Conservatives Meet to Work against Majority

ALEC, the American Legislative Exchange Council responsible for creating such laws as those that promote anti-immigration, stand-your-ground, and voter suppression, met a couple of weeks ago to decide how to destroy the people in the United States. The Heritage Foundation’s James Sherk discussed “how to limit union influence,” and the finance committee heard a presentation on “The Effects of Dodd Frank on the States,” sure to be an unhappy perspective on ways to help consumers.

Task force documents showed that the meeting concentrated on which of its destructive bills to “sunset” and retain, perhaps a response to the past year’s intense criticism when over 40 large corporations cut their links with ALEC. The organization also suffers from multiple complaints that it has violated its charitable 501(c)(3) status allowing special interest groups to write off lobbying expenses. As people became more savvy about ALEC’s actions, they got more vocal about elected officials who are more accountable to special interests than to their voters.

Before last year, ALEC successfully moved to privatize everything from schools to prisons and put legislators under corporate control. It was when identical bills popped up in a large number of states that journalists started looking into the background of these bills. By November, negative publicity caused 117 ALEC members to lose their elections.

Starting last April, ALEC struggled to erase trails for their most controversial legislation, and in July they promised to expand membership among “underrepresented segments,” probably meaning people of color and progressives. They hid their activities by sending members a link, that expires in 72 hours, to an Internet drop box instead of communicating through emails that might be discovered through an open records request.

ALEC is also using a public relations firm to examine public interest groups seeking information about its activities and then libel these groups to its legislative members.

The shooting of Trayvon Martin in Florida, when the killer claimed to be self-defense, brought information about ALEC to the forefront. Now another black 17-year-old has been killed, and again the killer is using ALEC’s law as his justification. As Jordan Russell Davis sat in his car with friends, 45-year-old Michael David Dunn fired nine shots into the car after complaining that their music was too loud. None of the teenagers was armed.

Even if ALEC just stuck to economic issues, it would cause great damage to the people. A study released last week by the Iowa Policy Project and Good Jobs First shows the correlations between ALEC policies and less prosperous state economies and concludes: “A hard look at the actual data finds that the ALEC…recommendations not only fail to predict positive results for state economies — the policies they endorse actually forecast worse state outcomes for job creation and paychecks. ”

According to the study, instead of boosting states’ fortunes, ALEC’s preferred policies provide “a recipe for economic inequality, wage suppression, and stagnant incomes, and for depriving state and local governments of the revenue needed to maintain the public infrastructure and education systems that are the true foundations of long term economic growth and shared prosperity.”

As if ALEC wasn’t bad enough, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) have joined forces to destroy the new health care act. Because they receive hundreds of millions of dollars from the insurance industry, they need to keep funneling money to private insurers. Currently they want to repeal a provision imposing a fee on some insurance policies to help subsidize coverage for millions of uninsured low-income people.

If they succeed, insurers can sell a highly profitable insurance product to small employers with mostly young and healthy male workers, allowing these employers to avoid the future state insurance exchanges for worker coverage. The employers would be exempt from complying with important consumer protections in the health law and make coverage only affordable and available to those stay healthy.

The Chamber and the NFIB took their fight to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners that just finished meeting in Washington. There, the Chamber pressured the NAIC to ease the way for insurers to sell this “stop-loss” coverage to small businesses which could then side-step state regulations. Stop-loss means that the employer assumes the risk of paying medical claims, but only to a previously-negotiated amount when the stop-loss insurer pays. The policy would be a disaster for employers with young female and older workers; doing this would drive up costs for small businesses who have these employees.

Leading the charge is the Illinois Chamber of Commerce with some of the biggest sellers of stop-loss insurance–WellPoint, UnitedHealthcare, Humana and Cigna—on its board. Part of NAIC understands that this will subvert the purpose of the health care act; another committee is keeping NAIC from voting it down by asking another committee to gather more information.

Today’s Asides from the News: Walmart could have prevented November’s fire in Dhaka that killed over 100 people if they had signed a contract agreeing to pay higher prices so the 4,500 Bangladesh clothing factories could afford fire safety improvements. The company met with others purchasers of the factories’ clothing—Gap, JC Penney, Sears, etc.—in April when Walmart set the tone by refusing to do this. According to a study by the Worker Rights Consortium, the cost to Walmart would have been less than 10 cents per garment. PVH Corp., which owns the Tommy Hilfiger brand, and the German retailer Tchibo signed on to the fire safety measures memorandum. You can sign a petition asking that Walmart meet basic safety and human rights for its workers. 

There were a few places where Arizona governor Jan Brewer wasn’t this week: she didn’t attend the state ceremony certifying the delayed election results, and she couldn’t be found among members of the National Governor’s Association who met with the President to discuss how the “fiscal cliff” will impact states. It seems she was found in Afghanistan. Is it possible that she now knows that she can’t run for a third term as governor and is aiming for the president’s position?

Mitt Romney  found a job—back with Marriott, the company that got in trouble with the IRS because of the ways it avoided taxes in the 1900s. Romney headed the audit committee in 1993 to 2001 when Marriott had a tax shelter known to attorneys as “Son of BOSS.” Marriott lost their court rulings in both 2008 and 2009.

Good news for Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL)! He just finished paying off his student loans.  He said that when he graduated from law school in 1996 he had almost $150,000 in student debt, a sum ridiculed by wealthy Republicans who think that it’s outrageous that students are allowed to run up debts like this. Two years ago, he had between $100,001 and $250,000 in debt, but now he’s paid back the student loan—with the proceeds of his book, An American Son, which he touted at the Jack Kemp Foundation Awards dinner as “the perfect holiday gift and available on Amazon for only $11.99.” I wonder if he had copies there to sell.

The most amazing news of the day is that the Senate passed the $631 billion defense authorization bill, The National Defense Authorizations Act, unanimously with a vote of 98-0. The bill restores threatened Pentagon biofuels programs, issues new sanctions against Iran, and changes U.S. detention policy for American citizens. A unanimous vote has occurred for the defense bill in the Senate only twice in 51 years. The Pentagon policy bill now heads to a House-Senate conference committee, where there are numerous differences that must be resolved including a ban on same-sex wedding ceremonies on military bases. It’s not a done deal yet!

December 1, 2012

U.S. Needs to Solve Disconnect between Money, Humanity

Filed under: Uncategorized — trp2011 @ 3:14 PM
Tags: , , ,

Thanks to reader Pat Brown for the following blog. If anyone is interested in writing a blog for Nel’s New Day, leave me a comment.

Capitalism and making money have always been the driving forces behind the creation of the United States of America. But when money becomes the only goal and there is no humanity involved, then there’s a terrible disconnect. When providing employees with a truly livable wage becomes anti-business or socialist, then I have to ask, where did the America of our forefathers go​?

Henry Ford is often considered the father of modern industry with his introduction of the assembly line. His success has been held up as an example of what America could do that no one else in the world had been able to accomplish. He paid his workers an above-average wage. Even if his motive was to give them the money to buy one of his cars, it still triggered the beginning of America’s middle class that built this country.

Now all the progress is being undermined by rapacious greed where the workers at the core of every business are driven into bankruptcy. We see the world’s largest retail company paying its employees less than they require to even maintain a simple life style, let alone be able to dream of a future. That same company teaches employees how to apply for food stamps, in essence, making the American taxpayer subsidize its unimaginable wealth and give but a minuscule amount back.

Is it financial genius to figure out how to use the American taxpayer to feed and take care of its employees, so the company doesn’t have to? This is, in effect, another government subsidy that no one ever talks about.

The question was raised during the campaign about who built what. Romney claimed it was only the entrepreneurs who risked their money to become successful. Did they, really? Travel back a hundred and fifty years. Between the 1850s and 1860s, the federal government granted a series of subsidies to express companies, stagecoach lines, telegraph corporations, and railroads. Federal money gave the country an economic bootstrap to promote the expansion of the vast territories west of the Mississippi and bring its wealth into the new federation.

Contracts were awarded for mail service to California. Before the Panama Canal, this meant mail was first carried to the Isthmus of Panama, lugged overland, and sailed to San Francisco. It was slow and very expensive. Pressure was levied on the government to fix this—no wealthy businessman or company fronted money to do it. There was no question of anyone being asked to. The people wanted, and expected, the federal government to build and pay for all the infrastructure that would allow them go forth and conquer.

In 1856 a petition, signed by 75,000 Californians, demanded a route to the South pass. This angered the South, which thought it gave the North an unfair advantage. The end result was a proposal to improve two roads, one from Ft. Kearney through the South pass to California and another from El Paso to Ft. Yuma.

Once trails had been picked, an annual subsidy of $600,000 was given to John Butterfield and William Fargo to devise a route that would offer a mail service on a weekly or semi-weekly basis.

Government subsidies and grants made this country what it is today. People were willing to take incredible chances to have a better life. When they did it, they worked with their neighbors. The essence of humanity is to work together to create a safe world. We’ve lost that in our relentless pursuit of wealth. Employees have become nothing but cogs in a machine, to be replaced by cheaper ones when they wear out.

At the height of America’s boom, unions were strong, and wages were good. A family knew they could buy a home, a car, raise kids and know they could take care of them. Now, there’s no sense of we’re all Americans and we’re all in this together.

Is destroying the country to amass more money really a good business decision? I would hate to think that we are so morally bankrupt to say yes.

November 26, 2012

We Could Be like Bangladesh

Over 101 years ago 129 women and 17 men died when the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory caught fire in New York City. The youngest to be killed in this disaster was 11-year-old Mary Goldstein. Managers had locked the doors to stairwells and exits to stop stealing and keep the workers from taking unauthorized breaks. As a result, many of the deaths came from people jumping from the eighth, ninth, and tenth floors to the concrete streets below.

Because of the outcry from this tragic event, legislation created improved factory safety standards. Nothing like this happened again in the United States. The fire also spurred the growth of the International Ladies’ Garment Workers Union that fought for better working conditions. After 146 people died in this fire, government could not avoid creating laws to protect workers. The New York legislature passed the first laws, and other states in the country followed. Unions became more success in protecting workers.

The laws were not always successful. Ninety years after this fire, 25 workers at a poultry factory in Hamlet (NC) died in a fire. Again, exits were locked or blocked to stop stealing. North Carolina is one of 23 “right to work” states in the nation which means that the workers in the states have no protection from unions.

Two days ago a fire in a garment factor in Dhaka, Bangladesh, killed at least 124 people. The eight-story building had locked emergency exits and fire extinguishers that didn’t work because they were there to impress inspectors. When the fire alarm went off, workers were told to stay at their sewing machines. Again some of these people died after they jumped from the building.

Workers knew about the dangers of the 4,000 garment factories throughout Bangladesh: just two months ago, tens of thousands of garment factory workers fought police in their protests against low wages and dangerous working conditions. Minimum wage is $38 per month. In addition to sub-standard safety issues, gangs and thugs, hired by employers, wander throughout the factories, harassing and assaulting workers.

Dozens of workplace fires in Bangladesh have killed more than 600 employees in the country’s garment industry since 2006. No owner has faced prosecution for poor safety conditions.  Bangladesh is the world’s second-largest clothes.

Retailers in the United States, including Walmart, purchase clothing from Bangladesh to sell in this country. One day after people in the United States spent long hours on Black Friday joyfully searching for the cheapest clothes, 124 people who worked for $38 per month died in a factory making these clothes. The 124 people who died in the Bangladesh fire lived halfway around the world, but they died making clothing cheap enough that Walmart was willing to buy the merchandise.

Walmart has tried to disconnect themselves from this tragedy. First the company said that after one of their auditors gave a “high risk” safety rating last May to the factory that killed 124 people. The company said they would conduct another inspection within a year. Then they said that the factory was not authorized to provide clothing for Walmart but a supplier contracted work to it “in direct violation of our policies.” (This is the same company that has a policy to pay women and men equally. Their “policies” don’t mean much.)

The fire should make everyone in the United States think about our country’s future if conservatives succeed in doing away with unions and regulations. If Republicans achieve what they call “small government,” workers can return to the days of  huge factory fires, locked exits, and wages like those in Bangladesh.

The next time you shop for the cheapest clothing at Walmart, think where it was made and how the people who made it had to suffer. And think about how “small government” with no regulations may result in the 99 percent of people in the United States living like the people in Bangladesh.


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