Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Sitting here at work and thinking about my days in the grip union. Local 80. We bitched and griped about the way it was run, that they didn't do enough, weren't there when we needed them, didn't find us work and didn't respond fast enough to problems. Add to that the smarmy guys from the National IATSE and it was quite a distasteful experience. And yet, I wouldn't want to get rid of that union for any reason. Because at the end of the day my pay was better, my workplace safer and my benefits, well, my benefits existed because of that union. IATSE Local 80. The place where washed up old grips went to try and remain relevant. And for the rest of us a pain in the ass.

So as I contemplate the decision of Michigan to go "right-to-work" I think about the way my life could have been without the union. We already worked 12 - 16 hour days, what would it be like if there was no time and a half or double time? What if there were no meal penalties for a late lunch or a missed second meal? What if we didn't have health insurance or a pension and were getting paid minimum wage? There would be a lot of beat up old men (and women) with nowhere to turn and a mountain of medical bills. I think back to the days of working for $100 for however many hours they wanted me to work with no protection and no recourse. Take it or leave it.

This isn't about economic growth, it's about increased profits for business owners. It's about being able to lower labor costs, the one commodity that can be squeezed until it's empty. The reason labor unions came into being was because, left to their own devices, the owners take and take and take and give nothing but a few bucks in return. People have to be able to hold their employers accountable. They have to be able to ask for, and get, better pay and better conditions. This idea that employers will hire more people now is silly. It's like saying that the bully will beat you up less if their are more nerds around. It's a pathetic way to live, saying "thanks" for the scraps others leave for you. Stand up and take what you need. It's what they did to get where they are!

There are so many layers to this situation, from money and jobs to politics and the 2014 and 2016 elections. Ultimately the people who will suffer from this are those kids who thought for a moment that a job in the factory would get them a nice comfortable life. Without collective bargaining wages go down, benefits disappear, and the quality of life goes into the toilet. All in the name of fairness? Doesn't seem quite fair at all.

Friday, November 30, 2012

OK. What is going to take to get me to show up here every night and say something? Say something interesting or important or silly or stupid? Well let's see. This is the first step. Now what?

There's a real disconnect between the country and the hard-core wing of the Republican Party. It's the classic case of people being frozen with a fear of losing control. They better get it together or they are going to be lost forever.

Good night.

Monday, June 11, 2007

It's Us or Them

Immigration. You know, the illegal kind. Not like the legal kind all of our ancestors did when they lined up at Ellis Island and had their names reconstituted. Back then everyone and anyone could come into our country – and we took them all. Very few questions asked. Everyone was a human being with the potential to add something great to our society. They didn’t get treated well, but the got a chance.

Now the children of those children of immigrants believe that this immigration thing is what’s bringing us down. It’s the cause of our budget deficits, it’s the cause of high medical costs, it’s the cause of the problem with public education, and it’s the number one cause of crime in the streets. It’s the issue that all color of conservative can agree on. Get rid of those damn Hispanic/African/Asian illegals! They’re killing us!

Well if you ask me, and no one ever does, this is not the most serious problem facing the face of White America. Illegal’s account for only about twenty percent of all the uninsured people who go to the emergency rooms in this country. They only account for twenty percent of the people who don’t pay their taxes, and they do jobs that no one else wants to do, and for a wage that no one else will accept. Sure they are a billion or more dollar problem, but they are the great scapegoat of the minute. I guess as a Jew I should be thankful to them for that.

Here’s what’s going on – the right-wing conspiracy is using the easy target of illegal immigration to divert attention from the fact that American industry has become a small group of multi-national conglomerates who are slowly shipping our middle class to India, China and parts unknown. They are creating a world where the chasm between rich and poor is growing wider; more of “us” are uninsured, underpaid, and further and further in debt. That’s our countries dirty little problem.

We live in an atmosphere of unbridled greed where we are trying to squeeze more and more profit out of our businesses. Our corporate boards are now driven by the need to raise their dividends that aren’t paid to us. They pay the money to each other, to other huge corporate stock owners, pension plans, invenstment banks, and venture capitalists. Meanwhile it’s harder for the working man to afford the very things they are pushing us to buy. On top of it, getting rid of the illegal immigrants permanently would get rid of a major source of workers for small business, that would then make it impossible for them to compete with the bigger companies. That means higher prices for us – and more profit for them!

In the end we are closer to the illegals than we are to the people who want us to believe that they’re a problem. I have an idea! Let’s solve both problems: let’s make the illegals citizens, make them pay taxes and make them work for a minimum wage. And let’s tell the corporations and they politicians in their pockets that we don’t want to live in a world of endless corporate profit. It’s the human thing to do.

Monday, May 14, 2007

And the truth is...

I watched George Tenet on the Daily Show and you know what; the guy has some real balls. Not the lie to your face kind like our President, but like a man who sticks to his convictions to the bitter end. Granted he didn’t seem to want to take too much blame for what happened back in 2003 – he seems to like to pass most of that to Doug Feith in the Pentagon. But I like the guy. I always seem to like the underdog, and he surely is that these days.

But it still brings up that nagging question that hits me every time I turn on the TV, the radio, read a paper or a magazine – what the fuck happened. It’s like I just slept through the car crash that killed my family. How did this happen?

Wouldn’t it be great if just once someone in this administration stood up and said, you know what, we were wrong. This was the wrong thing to do and we did it the wrong way. Which makes me think; is David Frost dead? Cause it would be great to see him interview Bush like he did Nixon and have GWB admit he was wrong, like Nixon did. Yea right? Never happen. GWB will take it to his grave.

But I think deep inside, in places he doesn’t talk about at cocktail parties (sorry Col. Jessup) he knows that he fucked up. He knows that he didn’t have a plan. He knows that he didn’t make the right decisions. He knows that Paul Bremer is an ass. But he will never admit it to anyone other than his wife or his dog. And certainly not to Dick Cheney.

So it’s up to guys like George Tenet to get out there and give us a slice of the truth. We’ll certainly never get it from Richard Pearle or Paul Wolfowitz or Donald Rumsfelch. I don’t think Cheney and GWB even know what the truth is anymore. We’ll never know what the thinking and planning was, where the mistakes were made, and who made them. It’s probably better that way. What difference does it make?

Monday, January 29, 2007


As in: another day in paradise. I so hate myself right now. My career is a fucking joke. There is nothing here. Tomorrow I go back to being a grip. I hate being a grip. I loathe it. Certainly I am grateful for the work and the money, but it's not what I'm supposed to be doing. It's not the job I'm supposed to have. It's not the job I want to be doing. There's nothing wrong with a little manual labor, when it's gardening and or helping a friend put in his kitchen. Fifteen hours on a movie set? No Thank You!

But I've wasted about twenty of my prime earning years for this. I lived in the fear of risk and thus didn't try or accomplish anything. Now I just get to live with that feeling of panic that rips through you when you realize that this is as good as it gets and what the fuck are you going to do when you're sixty? Fuck, I'll be working until I'm eighty. And I thought I had the chops to be a millionaire. Only if I win the lottery.

Thought for the day? Can I die now?

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Hotel California - Ozark Style

Ah, incarceration. The twice-daily butt fucking and the thrice-daily beatings… what can be more fulfilling than to be in a room the size of a Tokyo hotel suite with one open-air toilet? “Smells like you loved that bar-b-que yesterday, Tex.” I would never be able to poop.

The penal system here in California has become a major source of statewide pride. We have more inmates per capita, serving longer sentences, for the most ridiculous crimes, than anywhere else on the planet. Granted we’re not as bad as Iran or Singapore or Turkey, but then they don’t aspire to the level of civility that we do. Or do we…. Hmmmm.

I feel like this about prisons: they are about two separate but related and important questions. One is should they exist; the other is what should they be like. What connects them together for me is this idea of a social contract. Mills spoke about the social contract and how if you treat others correctly you will get treated correctly in return. My idea of prisons is that they are the ultimate punishment for taking that social contract for granted.

That’s why I am not on my usual team for this debate. While I believe that torture is unwarranted (unless it’s the Arab guy who was giving me the eye at Sunnin yesterday. He is so Al Qaeda), the idea that we are not giving our prisoner’s top notch medical care and their creature comforts is craziness. These dude and dudettes decided that the covenant that exists between us, the one that our society stands on, wasn’t important enough to them. They decided to break that contract and fuck someone over. That, to me, means that we don’t have to be so nice to them on the flipside.

So if it’s a question of sending convicts to Tennessee to end overcrowding and make it safer for the guards then ship them out. What the hell do we care if they aren’t for it? Three hots and a cot, some books and an hour outside: that’s what you get when you break the social contract. It’s the fear of that deal that keeps a lot of people inside the law and outside of jail.

And if you’re wondering: I think that the greatest break of the social contract is to take another life. You do that to someone and you forfeit all of your rights under out society. So yes I am for the death penalty for First Degree murder convictions. I think that if you want to make that choice and you get caught, then bing, boom, out the door you go.

Friday, January 26, 2007

My Kingdom for a Job!

Another week of not working and I don’t know how much more of this I can take. It’s really wearing me down. All I fucking want is a chance. Just a fucking chance to show what I can do. But it isn’t happening and it breaking me up.

What I take from this is that I’m a jerk. I’m a jerk at work that doesn’t do good work and isn’t fun to be around. Maybe it’s more of the former and less of the latter. I’m fun enough, but I don’t do good work. It’s because I’m afraid to commit to my job. That and the fact that I have trouble concentrating, so I wander a lot and don’t always remember to do things. And that I am a fucking loser. Let’s not forge that.

I wish I knew what I was supposed to be doing. I found something like, but that got pulled out from under me because the company decided to keep it freelance instead of full-time. So I had to get laid off and can’t go back until May. Fuck me. What a sweet job and a great boss. Man my butt is stretched out.

It’s the time I should be earning. Instead I’m suffering the errors of my arrogant, uncaring youth. I didn’t think I was going to get old. And never thought that I would have no career by the time I was forty. I mean: no fucking career. This is pathetic. Maybe it’s time to check out…