Another reason to boycott Wal-Mart : LUSENET : Freedom! self reliance : One Thread

Wal-Mart Out to Ravage Workers' Rights by John Nichols As if anyone needed another reason to stop shopping at Wal-Mart, here it is: The sweatshop-marketing, small-town-Main-Street-destroying corporation is no longer content to prevent unions from organizing its stores. As Labor Day approaches, the Arkansas-based retail giant is financing efforts to undermine the ability of unions to effectively organize and represent employees of other businesses. Wal-Mart is pouring money into a drive to enact a so-called "right-to-work" law in Oklahoma. If successful, right-to-work proponents hope to use Oklahoma as a model for a renewed campaign to reduce wages and benefits for workers across the country.

Developed in the 1940s by segregationist Southern senators and their right-wing Northern allies to prevent the Congress of Industrial Organizations from uniting African-American, Latino and white workers in the South and Southwest, right-to-work laws are among the most vile legacies of an era when conservatives worked at the state and national level to erect legal barriers to racial progress.

Right-to-work laws, cloaked in the rhetoric of "self-determination" by their corporate proponents, are designed to prevent unions from gaining the strength to demand fair wages and benefits for workers of all races. By undermining the ability of labor organizations to collect union dues and represent all workers on a job site, these laws make it difficult for unions to negotiate solid contracts and flex their muscles on behalf of working families in the political debate.

And right-to-work laws work. In the 21 states that have such legislation on their books, the median household income is $4,882 less than in the states where workers are free to organize effective unions. The majority of states with the highest poverty levels in the United States are right-to-work states. The majority of states with the highest rate of uninsured families are right-to-work states. The majority of states with the lowest per-pupil expenditures for education are right-to-work states. In fact, no piece of legislation is more likely to define a state as "backward" than a right-to-work law.

No wonder, then, that only two states have put them on the books since the Civil Rights Act and Voting Rights Act were passed in the 1960s.

Still, a self-serving coalition of big-business interests and right-wing extremists continue to advance the scheme, and the coalition's latest target is Oklahoma. A Sept. 25 referendum in that state asks voters whether they want to put a right-to-work law on the books. In a fair fight, the law wouldn't stand a chance - Oklahoma rejected a right-to-work referendum in 1964 when, famously, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. came to campaign against the proposal.

But this will not be a fair fight.

Right-wing Gov. Frank Keating, powerful U.S. Sen. Don Nickles and the state's most powerful newspaper publisher, Daily Oklahoman boss Edward Gaylord, are throwing everything they've got into passing the measure. And they've got a lot, thanks to Wal-Mart.

The firm has already moved $100,000 into the accounts of the campaign to pass the right-to-work law, making it the third largest contributor to the effort. And there are expectations that, after Labor Day, more money will flow from Wal-Mart's Bentonville, Ark., headquarters into the Oklahoma campaign. In some senses, it is a good investment for Wal-Mart, which often has a hard time finding workers willing to accept the low wages paid at its stores. If the Oklahoma campaign is a success, right-to-work advocates hope to use it as a model for passing similar initiatives in Colorado, Indiana, Kentucky, Montana, New Hampshire and New Mexico.

But Oklahoma trade unionists are hoping Wal-Mart will get the word that consumers don't approve of corporations that use their resources to drive down wages.

"Union members across the country should take note of Wal-Mart's support of measures like 'right-to-work' before they spend any of their union wages at Wal-Mart stores," says Edwin Hill, president of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers.

Hill is right. But the anger at Wal-Mart need not be limited to union members. All Americans who believe in economic and social justice - especially those who take seriously the promise of the civil rights revolution for which King and so many others struggled - ought to be furious at any firm that promotes the right-to-work lie.

Copyright 2001 The Capital Times

-- bill (, September 30, 2001


In Oklahoma, if you worked for a business that had a union you were forced to pay the dues whether the union would accept you as a member or not. That, my friend, is unAmerican. The right to work law was put to a popular vote, meaning that the residents of Oklahoma had a right to vote on it themselves, and passed it. They now have a right to work places and NOT pay the union dues. Granted, Walmart isn't the shining beacon of goodness and light they protray themselves to be, but unions are not either. They once performed valuable services for their members, and still occasionally do, but overall they are nothing but a form of organized crime.

As for Walmart, do you remember the silly, irritating little hand clapping, chanting meetings they were requiring all their employees to attend during each shift? Well, they fired one of the employees who refused to attend them. He turned back and sued them for a violation of freedom of religion, and was awarded a cash settlement and his job back. Seems the judge on the case deemed that Walmart was forcing their employees to become part of a CULT!!! I thought it was funny. Rather accurate, too, but still funny none the less. So, those of you who can afford to do so can now boycott the CULT OF WALMART, which several of my cousins are happy to be members of, and cannot drive past a Walmart without stopping and shopping. They're the cousins with money. I don't have money, so I just go there once a week to buy groceries. I'd like to shop at the local mom and pop, but they charge two or three times as much, and folks, I don't have it to give them. Not any more.

-- Green (, September 30, 2001.

All I can say is I have seen some unions operate. They were rude to people, and inflict terror on those workers not willing to "unionize". I have relatives that belong to unions and they get great benefits. However, I have seen a home in KS spraypainted by union workers when someone dared to cross the picket line. I think since this is America, let anyone work that wants to work, and let those who don't sit out and tell people nicely why. Just makes me want to avoid those businesses that are run by angry mobs of people complaining about getting paid too little when they make more than most. Sorry, I don't think people should be railroaded into striking if they have kids to feed and they like their wage. What about the businesses that go under? (NOT that I would defend Walmart. :-)

-- notnow (, September 30, 2001.

Unions started out as a really good thing when miners and train workers and manufacturing folks were worked 16 hours a day for poverty wages and then placed into dangerous jobs..when the workers were killed, the companies tok zero responsibility. Unions came along and forced companies to pay a decent wage as well as take care of the injured worker or the dead worker's family. Then unions changed into a foolish greedy mode.....they guy pulling the lever which lifts the car onto the production line only does that job..the next guy only sweeps the floor..the next only loads the sprayer with paint..the unions demanded higher and higher wages for less and less work until they priced anything American made right out of the market. I blame greedy unions for the demise of manufacturing in this country (along with the politicians). If unions had not demanded a $25/hour salary for one guy pulling a lever in an 8 hour day, we wouldn't be seeing "made in China" stamped on everything. I hate unions.

-- lesley (, September 30, 2001.

Lesley, Whatever helps you sleep through the night. I don't support unions either, but they are not the reason things are made in china. They are made there because the average worker makes something like 15-25 cents an hour, and that might be high, but it is a helluva lot cheaper than our minimum wage. I support workers rights. As far as the bullying by union members, that can happen on both sides. What is everybodies opinion on the UPS strike that happened awhile back. That was for permanent staus. They were "part time employees, but being worked 40 hours a week. the greedy company said it was overtime. How convienent that they were not paying for benefits for the "part time workers". Wal mart is just as guilty. I leave you with a final thought. If wal mart's prices keep falling, then why is their stuff not free yet?

-- Jason (, September 30, 2001.

Part-time workers traditionally get higher hourly wages since they do not get benefits. Nobody forces folks to get a "part-time" job.If a person wants a job with benefits, they have to find a full-time job. I think it's so childish to whine about something when folks knew up- front that they would not get benefits. As far as "workers' rights"..workers have the right to receive pay and benefits as spelled out when they were hired, as well as to expect to do the job which they were hired to do.

-- lesley (, October 01, 2001.

Hey Lesley! Thanks for voicing my exact position on this!!! Unions had a purpose and were good to start with, but now...forget it, they destroy productivity.

The UPS strike was stupid. Why whine about $15 (or more) an hour?

-- Doreen (, October 01, 2001.

why complain about 15 bucks an hour. It's simple. They were brought on as part timers. The company knew that it was a strategic move to not pay for benefits. They work them way longer than 30 hours a week, and just pay them time and a half. 15 bucks an hour is only 30 k a year. That's not exactly banking. I am not arguing that the people did not know what they were getting into, but I don't think the people knew their company would act that way. I support workers rights, regardless of the prevailing attitude of this forum.

-- bill (, October 02, 2001.

Well I am not furious at Walmart. I live in Oklahoma and I voted along with many of my states citizens to further my rights as an American Citizen. It is the proponents of totalitarian labor that are the liars! They say, "If you join our union you will have higher pay.". They don't tell you that the price of goods and services will rise in proportion, so that the dollar they give you is worth even less in the market place. They say, "We will spend your money to create better working conditions.". They don't tell you that billions of dollars a year will be pumped into supporting legislation for liberal causes that have absolutely nothing to do with labor." I say, "but I don't want to join a union.". They say, "too bad, you have no choice.".

A Union means nothing if they are not subject to the will of all their members. If I don't have the right to take my money and walk away from the table, then I lose all ability control how my money is used. You say you are for workers rights. Well what about the workers out there who don't want their money used for liberal causes they don't believe in? In the State of Oklahoma I am now free to join a union if I believe in their cause. I am also free to tell them to go jump in a lake if they plan to spend my money in a way that is against my moral values. The proponents of totalitarian labor don't believe in workers rights. They believe in SLAVE LABOR! Praise the Lord for Oklahoma! A Bastion of freedom in a cesspool of socialism!

Little Bit Farm

-- Little Bit Farm (, October 02, 2001.

Little Bit,

Couldn't agreee with you more.

Just so we don't forget. One of the largest unions in the US is the teachers union. From what I understand you can't teach in a public school without being a member. They have been HUGE supporters of the democratic party for many years. I know for a fact that not every teacher in the US supports the policies of the democrats.

They also support causes that make me sick. (Won't go into detail here). If a person can't choose to be in a union or not, how can he or she say they are free. It just isn't so.

We are all aware of the corruption in many unions in the past and the present. To require someone to join as a prerequisite for a job is totally absurd. How can this go on?

Talk to you later.

-- Bob in WI (, October 03, 2001.

Just to add my two cents...unions are not only about earning higher wages...they also assure that all employers treat each employee fairly, and the same, regardless of who that person is. A union is only as good as the local shop steward...and the employees of that shop vote to deciede who they feel the most competent person is to represent them in meetings with managment. I feel there is still a need for unions...not so much for the $, but to assure the rights of individual workers to be treated fairly by management. Just my two cents...Joe

-- Joe (, October 05, 2001.

Found this thread a bit late, but here goes....

I think striking should be illegal for anybody working in any city, county or state government job, and for any direct contract employees as well (transit drivers, school bus drivers, road workers, etc.).

We had a school bus driver strike, and they had the nerve to say that they were doing it for the children! Please! I think the parents should sue the union for time lost from work to provide transportaion to school for their children (some actually wound up keeping the kids home, so then had child care costs, and of course all the teachers and administrators got paid while the drivers were off work).

All issues could be solved with binding arbitration (each side pick their own arbitrator, and both settle on one common one). That is how the federal system works. Private business striking, oh well, shop elsewhere for the duration, and perhaps permanently. Smart workers and businesses will keep on negotiating and keep on working.

The UPS issue (supposed part-timers actually working full-time no bennies) should have been settled in court, not by striking. What did it say in the contract? How many weeks and months were these people working full-time hours out of the year or quarter? Perhaps some of these people had actually taken these jobs BECAUSE they were part-time. If you don't want overtime, it doesn't matter how much you're paid, you're still ticked off about missing time with your family.

If this situation was anything like what my part-time friends at the post office went through, this was also about regular (same days/hours each week) hours/days off and holidays. Again, the postal workers would often be told they would be lucky to get 20 hours per week, and often wound up with 40+, at all kinds of strange hours, and days off being changed at the last minute.

The unions' (in both cases) argument is that if the people were working that many hours on a regular basis that was proof that those needed to be full-time positions, not part-time. Go to court with the time cards and the contract, and go for a class action. Not on strike.

There is also too much favoritism with unions. If you are a good worker, they don't want to represent you no matter how just your cause, but if you are an absentee problem, or just plain incompetent, they will bend over backwards to keep you from getting fired. And, unions tend to do anything they can to avoid progress, automation, etc. That is why we can't compete with the cheap overseas labor, not so much the pay per hour. It is amazing how many people are in unions because they don't want to learn new skills and make more money. Most unions seem to be in "dinosaur" jobs, which should in many cases have been mechanized years ago. Everything changes over time--you can't expect to do things the way your father or grandfather did. With the internet now, even K- 12 teaching is a dinosaur job. Why go to school (except for things like say band or drama) when you can learn online faster and easier (streaming video easily takes the place of live demonstrations)? Especially when there are now so many discipline problems in the K-12 system (funny how they disappear once you have to pay to go to school, like community and 4-year colleges).

Wal-Mart must be doing something right if their workers do not want to unionize. People working in the high-tech fields are also not interested in unionizing. Just an observation.

-- GT (, January 01, 2002.

I find it absolutely incomprehensible that their is this widely held belief that 'unions are bad' or better still 'greedy'. My advice to those proponents of this rambling rhetoric is 'grow up, wake up & look around'. You are one, one person one thought one idea. Society itself functions through the collective beliefs and ideals of all. To oppose unions in principle is to oppose being part of a collective society. The concept of being an individual and making decisions based on what is most desirable for one is not without adverse affect: -If you win, it's all yours. -If you lose, IT'S ALL YOURS. Being collective is about sharing your wins and loses with others. Unlike society which works on the premises that we shall all share the rewards and all share the pain, employers would so dearly love to fuel the FACIST and yes that is correct, FACIST re NAZI, approach that they will arbitrate, they will reward and they will punish. If your prophet is your CEO and your GOD the company then your religion is SLAVERY. Have a nice existence.

-- itdoesntmatter (, January 24, 2002.

FaScist. Please remember the definiton of fascism. It's when private business is still tongue in cheeck private, but governmentally controlled. Being an individual, responsible for oneself and one's own choices is inimicable to the collectivisitic leanings of fascism, communism, and socialism.

-- Doreen (, January 24, 2002.

Here's an interesting true story about a particular union: My cousin worked for Eastern Airlines as a airplane "cleaner". She vacuumed out the airplane, and changed the filters in the ventilation system. For this, she was paid over $18.00 per hour (this was back in 1978-79. I went to work with her sometimes. One night there was a lightbulb which had burned out in one of the overhead lights that customers can turn on to read, etc. The cart with the bulbs was in the aisle less than two feet away. I told my cousin that I'd get a bulb and change it. Boy was that the wrong thing to say! She told me that she would have to call the head of maintenance, who would send a person over to change the bulb. That it was against union rules for us to change the bulb. Seems that the bulb changer got paid just to change bulbs in the the planes. I told her then that Eastern would be out of business within five years. Later she and other members of the mechanics union went on strike as they wanted more money. Guess what - Eastern went out of business. This was in a era when my attorney did not charge but $50 an hour. (just for comparison not saying attorneys are great or anything, just they generally charge a lot for their services!).

So that taught me right off that I sure didn't want some collective bunch striking my job right out of existance and I have stayed away from companies which require unions. Unions once served a valuable purpose, but now seem to support causes for which I would never agree with, and ask for more money than companies can afford to pay. Therefore, the companies have a choice, move overseas or down south to Mexico or go out of business.

Unions, if they want to survive, should get over the money mentality that many of them have, and focus on job security. I would take a cut in pay if I knew I could keep my benefits and my job. Lots of people would take a reduction in pay in order to have better benefits and job security. AFter all, no amount of money can replace a JOB lost to overseas.

Would you take a cut in pay if you were guaranteed certain things like medical coverage, better hours, increased job security?

-- Cindy (, January 27, 2002.


** "Unions, if they want to survive, should get over the money mentality that many of them have, and focus on job security. I would take a cut in pay if I knew I could keep my benefits and my job. Lots of people would take a reduction in pay in order to have better benefits and job security. AFter all, no amount of money can replace a JOB lost to overseas." **

Cindy, how far would you be willing to go to hold on your job? Accepting a pay cut could start an ugly trend. First you could accept the pay cut, but then what will you do when your boss says that you'll then have to take a cut in benefits to keep your job? And it may not stop there. What would you do when your boss says you're going to have to drop the insurance plan stay employed? What about giving up optional safety measures? Of course, how far the situation goes would depend on the status of the company and the greed of the employers.

While forcing pay cuts and the like would be acceptable (and neccessary) if the company truly was in dire finanacial straits, all too often I've seen this sort of thing being forced on the workers when it was totally unneccessary. In the case of one local employer in my area, the company demanded that the union take a cut in pay and benefits or they would close the plant. The union refused, and the plant was closed. However, the company at the time was nowhere NEAR any financial trouble at the time. Indeed, this came just after they reported gaining RECORD PROFITS during the previous quarter. Not only that, but the plant in questions was reported to be as profitable as any plant they currently had in operation. And to add a final insult to the whole sordid affair, right after the plant closing, the executive of the company voted for a pay raise for themselves to the tune of the something like THIRTY PERCENT (could have been less, I can't remember clearly, but it was a raise nonetheless). The name of the company, in case any of you want to boycott these $@)#*%#s, is Quebecor World Color.

Now, I'm relieved to say not all companies are like this. However, given the current economic policies in the world today, many companies are being forced to take such odious measures just to stay in business. This is the legacy of globalization and free trade. These ideas sound pretty on the surface, and they would be if other countries held to our high standards. Unfortunately, many countries do not. In many countries such as Mexico, Guatemala, Haiti, and the Philippines, such things as minimum wage, pollution controls, medical coverage, safety precautions for the workers and such are scarce to non-existent.

Think about it for a minute. Here in the US, a company has to pay an employee a minimum of $5.00 per hour (roughly), plus extras such as retirement benefits, insurance, and what not, not to mention extra expenses for such things as pollution control. In places such as Latin America, it's not uncommon for an employer to pay its employees $.50 per hour, period, no extras, no nothing. In addtion to that, lower expenses due to lax regulations and pollution control can be considered a bonus. While this comparison might not be accurate (I'm no economist) this should illustrate my point.


USA: $5.00 per hour plus $X per hour.

Mexico and Latin America: $.50 per hour.

Do the math.

In the past, other factors like tariffs and other regulations were present that could have balanced out this equation, but thanks to measures like NAFTA and GATT, such is no longer the case. Now, with the barriers gone, companies moving to places like Mexico, China, and the Philippines find the labor component (which is the biggest component, correct me if I'm wrong) of their production costs falling through the floor. Not only this results in MUCH greater profits, it also allows the company to flood the markets back home with cheap capital with the aim of forcing their competitors out of business. Because of this, many other companies are FORCED to follow suit in order to remain competitive and stay in business, which in turn means more jobs lost here. This is the "Giant Sucking Sound" that Ross Perot (remember him?) warned us about.

This also places unions in an untenable position. With vast new reserves of cheap, expendable labor at the employer's disposal, the one instrument of leverage that the unions basically had, namely the withholding of labor and services, is no longer as effective. Add to that the fact that the current administration is generally hostile to unions, the situation of the unions becomes even more dire. The reason why the unions seem to some to be so stubborn and obstinate, Cindy, is because generally they know that giving up an inch too easily could tempt the employers into taking a mile.

Right now, we have safeguards that keep the workers' situation from becoming as bad as that of their overseas counterparts, but if certain elements in our government have their way, we could very well one day find that our good paying jobs are no longer there and that the infamous sweatshops and maquiladoras have taken their place. Bottom Line, the legacy of over century of effort by the Labor Movement will have been squandered, and living conditions for many of us will have been reduced to being scarcely better than our those of immigrant ancestors about a century ago. Some may say that our technology will mitigate this a bit, but that is ONLY if the people in question can afford it, which in all likelihood many will not. The wealthy will keep all of the fancy new toys for themselves while the rest of us will have to do without.

On a different slant, almost constantly these days you hear of people losing money, of corporations losing money, of the government losing money. This begs the question:

Where is all that money going? I mean, all that money has to go SOMEWHERE, doesn't it?

Some of us think we have a pretty good idea where it's going. Which brings up another question?

If that is the case, what are we going to do about it?

Phew, this concludes the longest post I've made to date on this forum. Must rest, hands hurt :).

-- Nexar (, January 28, 2002.

But Americans have an option that those in the third world countries don't--the ability to get an education and get themselves out of the union dinosaur jobs. I see a lot of union employees who stopped going to school after high school or college and haven't lifted a finger to increase their knowledge of anything since. In fact, if someone suggests it to them, the answer is "if I'm not doing it on the clock and being paid, forget about it." I don't feel a bit sorry for people with that attitude.

-- GT (, January 28, 2002.

"But Americans have an option that those in the third world countries don't--the ability to get an education and get themselves out of the union dinosaur jobs. I see a lot of union employees who stopped going to school after high school or college and haven't lifted a finger to increase their knowledge of anything since"

As for the first part, that is true, for now. But wait until our education system gets privatized the way some want it. Then watch the tuition costs shoot up out of most families' reach! Besides, those in the specialized high tech jobs are not immune to the effects of the boss's greed either. Seems lately the white collars are getting laid off as much if not moreso than the blue collars. Also, training for new professions take time and money. The latter of the two being in short supply due to the job loss. Also, those "dinosaur" manufacturing jobs haven't disappeared, they've just moved elsewhere. A lot of the fancy high-tech gizmos, and the no-so- fancy, but still neccessary gizmos are either being manufactured by automation (the industrialist's dream, provided it can be maintained for less cost than for standard labor) or by what amounts to little more than slave labor. People in many of those overseas plants are basically being treated as expendable commodities. Even if we in US never experience ourselves what they're forced to endure, living off the products of slave labor is still not right.

As for the second part of that statement, I don't know what planet you're living on GT, but a lot of union members I know ARE making every effort to educate themselves and learn new skills, mostly because many of them KNOW that their days in their old jobs are numbered.

The BIG problem that the leaders of many businesses have these days is that they want the Wealth and the Power, but not the Obligations and Responsibilities. People are not commodities to be bought and sold, and the bosses of the companies must realize that their decisions affect people's lives.

-- Nexar (, January 29, 2002.

I think privatized education would be a GOOD thing (I also think that with the internet, we could turn public schools into places more like private schools--you smart-mouth the teacher, you're out!--instead of the unregulated asylums they are now). Give every child a computer and internet access, and save money spent now on busing, teacher salaries (wouldn't need quite as many, especially considering that a lot of K-12 classes are self-paced workbooks anyway), administrative overhead, etc. Also, in many fields such as high tech, a lot of the certification programs are privately run and have been for years. Look also at the boom in professional seminars of all sorts, even the el cheapo ones given through community education. Big money to be made there if you have the right skill sets.

High tech is just like any other field, in that the lower end of the educational spectrum will always be the first to be laid off. Those who keep up with cutting edge technology will always be able to find a job if they want to. Many high-tech people I know also have other fallback plans (they might have worked in related industries, for example) in case of unemployment anyway. Many union people I have known (and this might be different depending on the job) don't learn anything new once they land that cushy job (the Billy Joel song "Allentown" comes to mind) and think the union will "take care of them". I also see people who sit through their 2-4-6 months of unemployment pay as well, using it as vacation time instead of education and job search time. That is not helping yourself.

As to the dinosaur jobs being moved overseas and/or being automated, one way of looking at it is discrimination--"made in Japan" used to be a derogatory term, it isn't any longer. I'm sure the same evolution will happen in other countries as time goes on. And somebody has to know how to design and fix the machines when they do break down. Education is the key.

Finally, if you can buy poorly made clothing made here (high prices due to union labor) vs. poorly or better made clothing elsewhere, why would you choose to pay MORE for a shoddy product?

We have all griped about the cost of this or that (I for one think daycare providers are very underpaid, for example), but part of that is 1)how important do you think the service provided is, compared to whether you could or wanted to provide the same service yourself, 2) how skilled is the job in question, and 3) will a cheaper alternative do? For example, I could knit my own socks, but considering how long it would take and how fast they would wear out, I'd just as soon buy machine-made ones.

People need to take responsibility for their own jobs and careers, and not depend on "Big Corporate Daddy" or the Unions, or the Government to look out for their interests. Another option if they don't want to take the education route (and there is plenty of grant money for students of all ages and groups if you look hard enough) is to learn to live on less, so if they have to take a lower-paying survival job in the meantime, they can.

-- GT (, January 29, 2002.

Anyway, grants are not that easy to come by and in any event, and even then, they only cover a fraction of the tuition costs in today's private schools and colleges. And those tuition costs don't seem to show any signs of lowering any time soon.

Also, I to recognize the fact that demand for some industries and jobs fluctuate, either because of circumstance (i.e. The coal vein runs out, or all of the availible timber is harvested from an area) or because of the vagaries of consumer demand (i.e. SUV's falling out of style, which I do not see happening right now). Change is a fact of life, and I don't deny that. HOWEVER, far too many employers anymore are using this as an EXCUSE to lay off and/or fire employees for the simple purpose of cutting production costs with the aim of maximizing profits when there is no need to do so. See the example of Quebecor World Color above in a previous post of mine. Seems many CEO's and shareholders are not interested in simply making a profit, they want to make a KILLING, to make as much money as they can, as quickly as they can.

As for learning to live on less, that is something EVERYONE needs to do. That doesn't mean living in impoverished conditions, it means setting priorities straight and using money more wisely. Examples are not buying superfluous junk that they never intend to use (like that fancy Sharper Image gizmo collecting dust in the closet), and kicking nasty money-sucking habits such as smoking (I know MANY people who blow fifty dollars or more per week on cigarettes, then wonder where the heck their paycheck went...).

However, there is a cutoff point to that. One can only stretch a dollar so far. Have you ever tried making it on your own on a minimum wage job within the past ten years, without any assistance? Many folks in this position are being forced to make choices that NO ONE should be forced to make, such as choosing betweed shelter and food, or between food and medicine. Many folks now working on minimum wage are currently dangerously close to that cutoff point, a cutoff point which is pushed ever higher when one is in custody of children as of yet incapable of producing income.

"People need to take responsibility for their own jobs and careers, and not depend on "Big Corporate Daddy" or the Unions, or the Government to look out for their interests."

Yes, they do, but some want this situation to be taken to the extreme, namely an "Every Man for Himself" scenario. Just about everyone I know (people with families ESPECIALLY) likes to have at least SOME stability and security in their lives, but how can they have that in a Dog eat Dog, Survival of the Fittest type of environment? Wasn't escaping from that type of environment why we invented civilization in the first place?

-- Nexar (, January 30, 2002.

Nexar, there are programs all over the place for low-income families, welfare, AFDC, WIC and so on, not to mention low-cost health plans, especially for children. If you buy wisely (as you said, no cigarettes, using thrift stores, etc.) those programs provide more than enough for decent food and clothing. They were never meant to provide money for bad habits or wasteful spending.

Minimum wage jobs were never meant to be career jobs--they're jobs for people just starting out, or people who just want to make a few dollars every so often. Just like you go from kindergarten to 12th grade, you rise higher in the job chain as your skills change, changing jobs as you go. A lot of people take minimum wage jobs for other reasons besides money--they need the flexible hours, or the job is basically a "be there on call" and they read a book or do homework or whatever until they're needed. Some like the employee discount if they shop at a store anyway.

When I say take responsibility, I also mean swallowing your pride and perhaps going hat in hand to live with your parents again, or other relatives (maybe being their cook, maid, and landscaper in exchange for room and board while you're getting back on your feet. It may mean sending off your children for a while to relatives who are better off, again, while getting back on your feet. Is that a tough decision? Sure, but at least your children won't hear you complaining about how this or that "ruined your life" and "let you down". A lot of people stubbornly cling to their old life and habits to the bitter end with no money, when if they'd tweaked the spending and the living arrangements a bit, the job loss would be no more than a blip on the road to the next, hopefully better, job.

If you're single, you can share housing with others. Americans have gotten so used to houses with multiple bedrooms and bathrooms it isn't even funny. Immigrants have come to this country and lived 20 to a house until they have saved enough to buy their own property. They see it as part of making your own way. Americans think of it as a comedown, a "woe is me" situation, completely forgetting that even the poorest Americans live better than probably 75% of the world.

Life happens. If it isn't a job loss, it will be a sudden accidental death with no insurance, or a spouse secretly gambling away the family nest egg (have seen that), or other such tragedy. Nobody can be completely prepared, but I always think, no matter how bad things are, someone out there has it worse than I do.

-- GT (, January 30, 2002.

"Nexar, there are programs all over the place for low-income families, welfare, AFDC, WIC and so on, not to mention low-cost health plans, especially for children. If you buy wisely (as you said, no cigarettes, using thrift stores, etc.) those programs provide more than enough for decent food and clothing. They were never meant to provide money for bad habits or wasteful spending."

Yes, we do, and those programs are what is keeping many of the those families from falling through the cracks and ending up homeless. However, the same pro-business interests that oppose the unions also oppose programs like these. They would rather keep their tax dollars than give it to a bunch of "deadbeats".

"... that even the poorest Americans live better than probably 75% of the world."

That's only because their ancestors struggled mightily against those that wanted to keep everything for themselves and managed to make some headway. The high wages and relatively safe working conditions that Americans enjoy today came only after years of bitter, bloody struggle. Otherwise many of us would likely be in the same shape as people many of the Third World countries now.

Before, when there were hard times or times of crisis, everyone would pitch in help and alleviate the situation somewhat. It seems now though, that the people capable of doing the most to help instead just seem to be inclined to sit on their butts and hoard badly needed resources.

Many of the ultra-wealthy in this country seem to advocate the course you recommend. The problem is, many of them don't practice what they preach. They want everyone to tighten their belts except THEMSELVES. When times are hard, why can't they take the lumps along with everyone else? Executives voting pay raises for themselves just after closing a store or plant and/or forcing layoffs (a scenario being played out all too often these days) is an exceedingly rude slap in the face to the workers who just lost their jobs. Why can't THEY take a pay cut, just like everyone else? So they're going to have to put off buying that new BMW or yacht for about a week. Poor babies!

-- Dark Phoenix (, January 30, 2002.

Oops! Sorry! That was actually me. Entered under my old cookie by accident. The above message is actually mine.

-- Nexar (, January 30, 2002.

If you've ever read The Millionaire Next Door (I forget who the author is, but most libraries have it) then I think you would get more of an idea of what I'm saying (could be I'm not clear enough, wouldn't be the first time). Most of those people are not living the high life--in many cases are driving older cars, live in modest houses and so forth, even though they are wealthy. Why? because they were frugal by nature and perhaps early circumstances (the depression, for example) and they have lived through hard times before--hard times do not frighten them. Many of the wealthy people in this country, in other words, do not engage in Hollywood-style conspicuous consumption of fancy this and high-priced that. They got themselves to where they were by hard work, not old money or the lotto, and they honestly don't see why others can't do it too, or at least have a decent job.

Some company heads have actually taken pay cuts (of course their incentive is to make their stock holdings go up eventually, but their salaries were not peanuts either). Iacocca for one, I think, back when he was running Chrysler.

But what is helping? Is it just blindly doling out benefits (with no education on frugal living and how to get off welfare) forever to people who will become dependent upon them and think of them as an entitlement? We already have that problem with 2nd and 3rd generation welfare recipients.

Is it trying to point out the error (well, perhaps not error, but "mistake") of someone's ways ("You know, if you stopped buying junk food and cigs, and went to thrift stores for clothing....?")? That approach hardly ever works, and many of us are acquainted with living proof of that in the form of relatives and friends. The only thing I've seen that would work (at least as far as helping the maximum amount of people in the cheapest, most efficient way possible) is perhaps saying "for such-and-such size of family you get 2 lbs of beans, 1 lb of margarine, cloth diapers instead of disposables, x dollars to spend at Goodwill or other approved thrift store, you don't like it, well you obviously aren't truly in need, and we'll be happy to give it to someone who IS.

I feel that when you can still whine about something given to you for free (in other words, you still have preferences (obviously medical/religious food restrictions would be taken into account) you are not starving, you are lazy. I don't like stewed tomatoes, but if I were starving you can bet I'd eat them, and LIKE them! I am not in favor of supporting the lazy, when I can support those who appreciate ANY help given to them. Honestly, there is so much complaining about not getting enough welfare etc. it is no wonder why people in many cases would prefer to support the environmental organizations instead of people-based organizations. A tree may not say "thank you" but it certainly won't hold out its hand for more.

Is it trying to get relatives to take brother (or sister) who just lost his job in? People already do that, but not if brother just sits around the house and becomes a parasite. If your own relatives won't help you, why should taxpayers?

When I did mention my quote about "even the poorest Americans...." I was referring to things like access to hot and cold water, places to sleep (a lot of homeless, for varying reasons choose NOT to sleep in homeless shelters), access to other things like libraries, etc. Some person just wrote a book with tips for living in your car (at $21.95 I thought the price was outrageous, wanted to look at it in a bookstore first, but it is only being sold through a web site (I think or something), sounds like a nice way to avoid paying rent, taxes, etc., and live off of someone else's hard work (i.e. benefits that come from someone else paying those taxes).

I really think that all the people who think they have it so bad should be sent on a trip to the really poor areas of the world for a while, and be made to live under those conditions for 6 months trying to make the lives of those who live there all the time a little better. It would work wonders for their attitude towards how bad life is in the states.

A job is just a job, that's all.

-- GT (, January 30, 2002.

Expressing concern about support systems being taken out from under us is not whining.

"I really think that all the people who think they have it so bad should be sent on a trip to the really poor areas of the world for a while, and be made to live under those conditions for 6 months trying to make the lives of those who live there all the time a little better. It would work wonders for their attitude towards how bad life is in the states. "

While I haven't ventured outside the US, I have visited places here in the US that have (or had) conditions pretty close to that of Third World countries (i.e. Applachia (sp) and pre-casino Mississippi Delta). Many of us are already aware that we have it good here. However we also know that those horrible conditions that are already present in the Third World CAN and likely WILL occur here if we don't remain vigilant against those that would hoodwink us out of everything.

All too soon do ye forget what it was like in urban pre-union, pre- regulation America. The filthy, squalid, tenements, the unreasonably long hours, the hazardous working conditions, the beatings (yes it's true) and threats made against those that dared voice a complaint,not to mention that those who tried to organize people into an effective resistance simply disappeared, never to be seen again... The days of hazardous, unsafe foods, and despicable business practices such as "The Company Store" (which is actually just plain bald-faced usary). For every immigrant that achieved "The American Dream", there were ten that grew old and died before their time under conditions scarcely better than slavery. In fact, they only real difference between what they endured and slavery was that they used the threat of starvation rather than the threat of the lash.

The American Big Business didn't actually care one whit about "liberty" or "justice" for the immigrants. To them, they were simply a convenient source of cheap, expendable labor. The main difference now is that because of stuff like minimum wage and regulations here in this country, instead Big Business imported the cheap labor, they are simply going out to it.

-- Nexar (, January 30, 2002.

"Is it just blindly doling out benefits (with no education on frugal living and how to get off welfare) forever to people who will become dependent upon them and think of them as an entitlement? We already have that problem with 2nd and 3rd generation welfare recipients."

That's just your prejudice talking. The reality is that most welfare recipients make every effort to become self-sufficient again and that most only stay on welfare for less than a year. The so- called "Welfare Mamas" consist of only a small minority of the total number of welfare recipients, yet it's that small minority that gets all of the publicity. Yes, taking advantage of the system and the generosity of others is wrong, but you just simply don't go and throw the baby out with the bathwater figuratively speaking, only because a handful found a way to exploit the system. If something's wrong, fix it, close that loophole. Don't leave many others in genuine need of help in the lurch because of the selfishness of a few.

"If your own relatives won't help you, why should taxpayers?"

One reason, because there are some that HAVE NO relatives to help them.

Another reason, there are others who have relatives but for one reason or another cannot depend on them for aid, either because they are not capable of rendering aid, or simply not willing to render aid.

"They got themselves to where they were by hard work, not old money or the lotto, and they honestly don't see why others can't do it too, or at least have a decent job."

Oh, really? What about those b------s that gutted Enron and made off with the retirement savings of roughly 20,000 employees? Oh sure, you complain about the poor feeling that they that the world owes them something and that they should recieve some sort of entitlement, but you say NOTHING about the RICH people with those same attitudes! Some can be every bit as selfish as those "Welfare Mamas", but since they have far more power and influence than the Mamas, they are capable of doing FAR more damage.

"They got themselves to where they were by hard work, not old money or the lotto, and they honestly don't see why others can't do it too, or at least have a decent job."

Maybe it's because the others didn't have the breaks, the opprotunies, or the connections that they had? Life Happens, you said it, not me. Bad things happen to good people. Not everyone is poor because of their own failings.

Also, I'm not concerned with the merely rich, I take issue with the filthy rich. You know, that one percent of the population that's in possession of over 50% of this nation's wealth. The gap between the rich and the poor, like it or not, is growing. In the 1950's, the salary of executives averaged twenty times that of their employees. By the beginning of the 1990's, that margin mushroomed to ONE HUNDRED FORTY TIMES the salary of the employees. What happened? Was it because the workers got lazier? Did the executives become more industrious?

No, we are not like Mexico, or Guatemala, or the Phillipines ....yet, but we are currently headed in that direction.

-- Nexar (, January 30, 2002.

Yes, of course some have no relatives (and I wouldn't argue with helping them in that case), especially when it comes to needing help, but if the same person died intestate with a million to his name, you better believe relatives would be crawling out of the woodwork to get their hands on a piece of that fortune. Perhaps any government aid used by the person should be pulled out of the estate prior to anyone else getting any.

Last time I checked, this was a free country and you could live anywhere you pleased. Yes, I know some areas are poorer than others, but one can always move--I believe CA lost a court case a while back when trying to establish residency requirements for welfare.

Since many people, rich AND poor own stock now, either through retirement programs or their own investing, well, everybody knows that stock has always been a risky thing to invest in.

I am NOT excusing the Enron debacle in the least (either everyone should have been able to sell or no one should have been able to sell), but no one was forced to work there. Most people are intelligent enough to know that stock is not real money until after it is sold. Usually companies offer you choices of what to invest in, and it is not always stock, it can be in government bonds or mutual funds as well. Your choice. Chances are, even if those sales restrictions had not been in place, people still would have chosen to "ride it out" for the long term, and the ones that did still would be suing. The accounting problems (both management lying and the accounting firm covering for them--both wrong) are the real issues here, not so much the selling rules, though they did play a part.

Should they take the money from those executives that knew about the true condition of the company (and the accountants) and lied about it? Yes, of course. But remember that all companies have their ups and downs stock-wise, and all stock is a risk. People can choose how much risk they want to assume. You don't have to invest in stock to live decently, read Your Money or Your Life. The rank and file worker at Enron was hoping for the same gains (proportionately) in their stock portfolio as the executives, remember that, so there was gambling on both sides of the equation, only difference being that the workers had less stock to start with. Look at the secretaries who got rich off of Microsoft. They're not complaining. They took a risk and it paid off.

Maybe I am reading your posts wrong, but it seems as though you think anyone doing better than someone else had to have an easy time of it. Maybe that is true in a few cases, but not all. And as for what the rich do with their money, well, it is their money, not mine, not someone else's. For all we know, they may be supporting a lot of good causes anonymously.

As to how much to pay people for jobs, well, I don't agree with paying Katie Couric $65 million, but she must be doing something for someone. People like to watch her, I guess, same with sports and movie stars. Maybe we should change careers?

-- GT (, January 30, 2002.

Hi, I started boycotting Wal-Mart awhile back so I typed in Boycott Wal-Mart Movement on Internet Explorer and found you guys. Great idea!! I'm from the applallacia-(sorry, I graduated before Bush's "No Child Left Behind Act" were implemented) of the Midwest (southern Iowa /northern Missouri). Although, boycotting Wal-Mart would be tuff to do around here. Most people are so poor they have to mortgage their fingers just to scratch their ass. Plus, I'm sorry to say, their wages are competitive. This is where farming is completely monopolized and where factories stop before moving on to Maquilladora (after their local tax breaks run out and increasing starting wages to 8.00 per hour is just too tuff on their bottom line). This movement might find its best success in the few pockets of prosperity left in America, wheresoever they may be? Printing up WAL-MART SUCKS bumper stickers might be a good place to start. One could go with the more explanatory," WAL-MART - Shop a Job Away Today". But WAL-MART SUCKS is more direct, more primal. Besides, they'd look great on all the 82 Ford Fairmonts around here.

One point I do take issue with. Your use of the term right wing extremist. It's cliche and divisive. Although, in a Webster's sort of way, it's accurate just as the term retarded is still accurate when describing much of the population who are mentally disabled. But the media have pretty much mouthed the term so often that it's now used primarily by Democrats who have self-esteem issues just like those who abuse the term retarded have. I'm probably a little more to the right than most and some of my views are a little extreme but I still think Wal-Marts are to retail what ADM, Cargill, Murphy Farms and Iowa Select are to agriculture.

As long as voters stay stuck in that Republican/Democrat Good Cop/Bad Cop B.S. we'll continue to Nafta bend over and take it up the GATT. Ralph Nader and Pat Buchanan are closer to each other economically than either the Republicans or Democrats are to either of them. It's disheartening to see perfectly bright people who when the term Republican or Democrat is placed before a person or issue their critical thinking skills completely evaporate. If anyone thinks (except for a handful) that the Democrat and Republican politicians at the Federal level aren't little more than mouthpieces for the money changers and interest barons than??????

If we lived in a world where the powerful were spiritually enlightened and unified, and the capitalist had the discipline to temper his avarice, unions would not be necessary. But in the meantime maybe we should summon up the spirit of Clifford Odets and trumpet to the laborers who toil in the sweatshops of the global plantation, "Workers of the World Unite!!".

-- Matt Olive (, February 07, 2003.

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