Monthly Archives: December 2009

AFL-CIO and SEIU: “Fight like hell” for meaningful reform

Two countries 2 largest unions are united in their opposition to the current watered-down health care reform bill.

Sam Stein, Huffington Post, “Change Health Care Bill or else”:

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said in a statement to reporters that without a public option for insurance coverage or an employer mandate – and with a tax on high-end insurance plans that some union members get – the health care legislation supported by Senate Democrats falls far short of meeting his group’s standards.

“[For] this health care bill to be worthy of the support of working men and women, substantial changes must be made,” said Trumka. “The AFL-CIO intends to fight on behalf of all working families to make those changes and win health care reform that is deserving of the name.”

Earlier in the day, Andy Stern, president of Service Employees International Union (SEIU), sent a letter to his Lieutenants expressing his displeasure with the status of health care reform.

“President Obama must remember his own words from the campaign. His call of ‘Yes We Can’ was not just to us, not just to the millions of people who voted for him, but to himself. We all stood shoulder to shoulder with the President during his hard fought campaign. And, we will continue to stand with him but he must fight for the reform we all know is possible,” Stern wrote.

“Our challenge to you, to the President, to the Senate and to the House of Representatives is to fight,” Stern continued. “Now, more than ever, all of us must stand up, remember what health insurance reform is all about, and fight like hell to deliver real and meaningful reform to the American people.”

Stern, like Trumka, called for Democrats to make changes to the legislation as the process moves forward. And his rebuke of Obama – a staunch personal ally – was a telling sign of the growing frustration within the labor movement.

Both labor leaders were particularly incensed over the concessions made by the Senate’s Democratic leadership to Sen. Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.), the 60th member of their caucus. “The public option is declared impossible. Americans cannot purchase Medicare at an earlier age. The health insurance reform effort we have needed for a century is at risk,” Stern wrote.

Lieberman’s a convenient scapegoat, but there are alot of ways to get meaningful reform with him, one way being reconciliation.  If I was a dem in congress, I think I’d pass a flawed health care bill before Christmas, one that conforms to the morons wishes but doesn’t go into effect for at least 18 months, and then spend as much time as is needed to fix it before the 18 month window “closes”.  Overseas, “shake every tree” and overturn every rock until you find Bin Laden or his bones, then declare victory in Afghanistan and get the f@%k out of that hell hole.  Find a safe spot where you can insert your drones and special forces groups into AFPak and keep whacking bad guys on the QT as needed.  While I’m pipe dreaming, why not make some deals with the corps and countries drooling over Iraq’s oil and let them clean up the mess while we get the f@%k out of there too.   Then focus on the serious business of rebuilding our infrastructure, our economy, and our manufacturing base with an emphasis on conservation and alternative energy.  Lastly we all sit in a circle smoke reefer and sing kum-buy-ya (everything up until the last part is doable).


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50% of Detriot unemployed?

Detroit Mayor Dave Bing says half of Detroit’s workers are unemployed or underemployed.

Mike Wilkerson, The Detroit News:

Despite an official unemployment rate of 27 percent, the real jobs problem in Detroit may be affecting half of the working-age population, thousands of whom either can’t find a job or are working fewer hours than they want.

Using a broader definition of unemployment, as much as 45 percent of the labor force has been affected by the downturn.

And that doesn’t include those who gave up the job search more than a year ago, a number that could exceed 100,000 potential workers alone.

“It’s a big number, and we should be concerned about it whether it’s one in two or something less than that,” said George Fulton, a University of Michigan economist who helps craft economic forecasts for the state.

Mayor Dave Bing recently raised eyebrows when he said what many already suspected: that the city’s official unemployment rate was as believable as Santa Claus. In Washington for a jobs forum earlier this month, he estimated it was “closer to 50 percent.”

Might be time to reverse the NAFTA/GATT/WTO vacuum that sucked all the jobs out of the US to south of the border and overseas before Detroit burns.

Ross Perot was right.  The good part starts at about 1:20 into the clip.

Musical Accompaniment:  James McMurtry We Can’t Make It Here

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Strangest Car Ad Ever

What were the ad guys and gals at Toyota thinking (or what were they smoking) when they green lit this one:

I guess the part most people hate the most is when the dad says “she can take a pounding from every direction,” because its got an incestuous slant to it.  Personally, I lost it when the kid calls the airbags “fun bags” and proceeds to simulate smooshing his face between the “fun bags” while making raspberry noises.  Crude and rude, but it probably won’t sell cars, even in Australia.

Read more about it at the Huffington Post.

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Japan Post Saves the USPS (Part 2)

More musings on yesterday’s post–freeform brainstorming and not at all organized (like my head):

*Since the USPS is already present in almost every neighborhood in every city and town in the US, they should exploit this and fill whatever needs said city or town or neighborhood needs, be it bank, cafe, market, etc.

*Perhaps hand-in-hand with the Postal reorganization into something more like Japan Post the USPS needs to ask the government for assistance on relocating its workers unable to make the transition: workers on permanent limited duty–“walking wounded” as they are colloquially known and the untrainables.  Creation of a Federal program to get these workers out of the USPS and into volunteer and or government functions where they could provide a benefit to society performing tasks such as phone banking;  Light office work;  Mentoring;  Meals on Wheels; child care; etc.  This program would benefit the workers, who’d keep pay and benefits while performing a meaningful function.  And it would benefit the USPS by freeing up job slots for more qualified employees.

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The Japan Post Model: Is This How the USPS is Saved? (Part 1)

Perhaps its time to look to our friends on the Pacific rim for inspiration on how to save the United States Postal Service.  From PPI:

Like the postal services of the United States, Britain, South Africa, Brazil, etc., Japan Post delivers mail. Unlike other postal agencies, it accepts savings deposits, sells insurance, and pays its subscribers’ utility bills electronically. Thus Japan Post has a huge pile of money: $1.7 trillion in savings deposits and $1.3 trillion in insurance. The savings deposits alone are triple the deposits of the largest U.S. bank and amount to a quarter of the $5.9 trillion now deposited in all FDIC-insured U.S. banks combined. Apart from lending to carefree Americans, Japan’s governments have been using the postal accounts to build roads (with one-fiftieth the land area of the United States, Japan is said to use as much concrete each year as America), pay for a postal workforce 10 percent bigger than the Japan Self-Defense Forces, and manage 24,700 post offices nationwide.

I don’t think the USPS as a bank is too far of a stretch.  Associate offices handle large quantities of money transacted during stamp and money order sales and package shipping.  And personnel in these offices are already highly trained and adaptable.  And if Mega-Churches can have ATMs in their lobbys, why not the Post Office?

I’ve stated in previous posts that in many towns, the post office already serves as a defacto community hub, so why not offer more services at that hub–services such as banking and maybe a coffee shop.

Instead of trimming our workforce, add new workers and help grow the economy or shift idle workers from  over-staffed and underused plants to provide customer services at these new or expanding post office/banks.

Instead of closing rural offices, expand them.  Use the USPS’ penetration into the entire length and breadth of this country to reach out to millions and millions of potential customers.

Make retraining a contractual requirement for all workers.  If they can’t or won’t retrain to be cashiers, loan officers, etc, as permitted by the needs of the USPS, show them the door. (But do right by current employees and don’t try to ship them far from home or force them into a field they aren’t capable of mastering.)

The United States Postal Service consistently earns high marks for customer satisfaction: Use this trust in your existing business to supercharge the launch of the new parts of your banking arm, your insurance arm, your e-bill pay arm.  Millions love your existing products, and trust them.  It’s a no-brainer they will trust your new products will be of a similar high-caliber.

The United States Postal Service is one of the oldest institutions in this young country; it is so old it predates the USA, being founded in 1775 by Ben Franklin at the behest of the second continental congress.  But without changing to meet the needs of coming generations of customers, it will die.  My 3-year old son will probably never receive a magazine by mail or pay a bill using the mail or apply for a credit card using a mail-in application.  But, he might go a 21st century post office for a home loan or a life insurance policy, and he might log onto to pay bills and download shipping labels.

(To be continued)

Musical accompaniment:  Turning Japanese by the Vapors.

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God loves you, Joanna Krupa.

Because the US is repressed sexually and religiously dogmatic, this pic is somehow controversial.  I can’t see why.  So she’s holding the holiest of holies over her “holiest of holies”, so what.  Lighten up you puritans.

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