Monday, February 28, 2011

Endorsement by Solidarnosc is a Kiss of Death

Poland’s Soldidarnosc (Solidarity) has expressed its support for Wisconsin’s public sector workers and the left is wetting itself in excitement, apparently forgetting (or not giving a damn) about Solidarnosc’s sordid past (and present). This past included support from Albert Shanker who, like Solidarnosc, was a staunch anti-communist crusader and suppressor of worker power. It should be no surprise that Solidarnosc is returning the favor now, perhaps hoping to ensure that worker outrage in the Midwest does not evolve into communism or spread to Poland.

An indication of Solidarnosc’s true affiliations should have been clear from the behavior of its most famous leader, Lech Walesa, who kissed the pope’s hand, befriended Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher, and ardently embraced free enterprise, ultimately leading to dramatic unemployment and poverty for his union’s members. The organization has had numerous high ranking anti-Semites amongst its members, while Walesa did little to end this tendency. Recently, he endorsed Tea Party candidate Adam Andrzejewski in the Illinois Gubernatorial Primary.

World’s Richest Ripping Off California

Manufacturing a Crisis in California
The supposed budget crisis in California is a fabrication of the rich. If they paid a tiny bit more of their income toward state taxes, there would be a surplus, not a deficit. Corporate profits in California increased by more than 400 percent between 2001 and 2008, yet state revenues from corporate taxes declined by 50% since 1981. At the same time, the income of the upper 1% increased by 77% between 1993 and 2008, while incomes of the bottom 80% remained flat.  The wealthiest 1% of income earners averaged $1.7 million in 2010 and paid lower tax rates than they did two decades ago. Meanwhile, in two years, Californians will have added more than $100 billion to their personal income, with $20 billion of it going entirely to the richest 1% of Californians, and $60 billion going to the top 20%.

20% of ALL U.S. billionaires reside in California, or 80 of the Forbes’ richest 400 (See List Below). If just the top 19 paid 10% more in taxes, the $25 billion deficit would be completely erased. If all 80 of the billionaires paid 10% more, there would be a surplus of many billions of dollars, allowing us to increase funding for education, health care, and social services. And if everyone who was worth $1 million or more paid 10% more, we could easily provide health care, housing and a quality education for all.

Why Stop There? (We Could Have a Surplus of $20-40 Billion)
  • Abolish NCLB. In California, it would save $500 million per year (plus a lot of stress and anxiety for students and teachers.
  • Don’t implement Common Core Standards. This would save California $1.6 billion that would otherwise go directly from taxpayers to textbook publishers while dumbing down our standards
  • Abolishing the Death Penalty would save another $1 billion per year
  • Freeing all Nonviolent Offenders and Ending 3-Strikes and You’re Out would save millions more
  • Taxing marijuana would bring in another $1 billion per year
  • An oil severance tax of 6% (Alaska charges 20%) would bring in $1 billion per year
  • Repealing California’s corporate tax cuts from 2008 & 2009 would bring in another $1 billion

Net Worth of California’s Richest Residents (From Forbes 400 Richest List)
#3 Larry Ellison, $27 billion, Woodside, Oracle
#11 Larry Page $15 billion, Palo Alto
#11 Sergey Brin $15 billion, SF
#21 Donald Bren, $12 billion, Newport
#39 Mark Zuckerberg, $6.9 billion, Palo Alto
#42 Steve Jobs, $6.1 billion, Palo Alto
#44 Eli Broad, $5.8 billion, Los Angeles
#46 Patrick Soon-Shiong, $5.6 billion, Los Angeles, generic drugs
#48 Eric Schmidt. $5.45 billion, Atherton, Google
#54 David Geffen, $5.1 billion, Malibu, CA movies, music
#70 Cargill MacMillan, $3.8 billion, Indian Springs, Cargill Inc
#83 Charles Schwabb, $3.7 billion, Atherton, Investment
#83 Rupert Johnson, $3.7 billion, San Mateo
#85 Ray Dolby, $3.5 billion, SF, Dolby Labs
#88 Gordon Moore, $3.5 billion, Woodside, Intel
#90 Haim Saban, $3.4 billion, Beverly Hills, CA television
#95 John Sobratto, $3.3 billion, Atherton, Real Estate
#97 George Lucas, $3.25 billion, Marin, Star Wars
#101 George Roberts, $3.1 billion, SF, Leveraged Buyouts
#110 Steven Spielberg, $3 billion, Pacific Palisades, CA movies
#119 Riley Bechtel, $2.9 billion, SF, Bechtel Corp Engineering and War Profiteering
#119 Stephen Bechtel, $2.9 billion, SF, Bechtel Corp Engineering and War Profiteering
#119 Kirk Kerkorian, $2.9 billion, Los Angeles, CA investments, casinos
#124 Sumner Redstone,$2.8 billion, Beverly Hills, CA Viacom
#130 Steven Udvar-Hazy, $2.7 billion, Beverly Hills, International Lease Finance
#130 David Murdock, $2.7 billion, Los Angeles, Dole, real estate
#136 David Sun, $2.6 billion, Orange County, computer memory
#136 John Tu, $2.6 billion, Los Angeles, computer memory
#144 William Hilton, $2.5 billion, Los Angeles, CA hotels, casinos
#144 Archie Emerson, $2.5, Redding, Timber
153 John Anderson, $2.4 billion, Bel Air, CA Investments
153 Tom Gores, $2.4 billion, Beverly Hills, CA private equity
159 Doris Fisher, $2.3, SF, Gap
164 A. Jerrold Perenchio, $2.2 billion, Bel Air, CA Univision
164 Jack Dangermond, $2.2, Redlands, Software
170 Wm. Randolf Hearst III, SF, $2.1
170 Michael Milken, $2.1 billion, Los Angeles, CA Investments, Junk bonds, Prison time
170 Edward Roski, $2.1 billion, Los Angeles, CA real estate
170 Bill Gross, $2.1 billion, Laguna Beach, CA Bonds
182 Gordon Getty, $2, SF, Oil
205 Alan Casden, $1.9 billion, Beverly Hills, CA real estate
217 Jess Jackson, Geyserville, $1.85, Wines
221 Phoebe Heart Cook, $1.81, SF, Hearst Corp
221 George Hearst Jr, $1.8 Los Angeles, CA Hearst Corp
221 David Hearst Jr, $1.8  Los Angeles, CA Hearst Corp
221 Mark Benioff, $1.8, SF,
221 James Coulter, $1.8, SF, leveraged buyouts
236 Charles Munger, $1.75 Los Angeles, CA Berkshire Hathaway
238 Thomas Siebel, $1.7, Woodside, Siebel Systems
238 Henry Samueli, $1.7 Newport Beach, CA Broadcom
238 Alec Gores, $1.7 Beverly Hills, CA private equity
252 George Argyros, $1.6 Newport Beach, CA real estate, investments
252 Ken Fisher, $1.6, Woodside, Money Management
266 John Doerr, $1.55 Woodside, Venture Capital
269 Henry Nicholas, $1.5 Newport Coast, CA Broadcom
269 Richard Peery, $1.5, Palo Alto, Real Estate
269 Charles Brandes, 1.5, San Diego, Money Management
290 Anthony Pritzker, $1.4 Los Angeles, CA hotels, investments
290 John Pritzker, $1.4, SF, Hotels
290 Gary Michelson, $1.4 Los Angeles, CA medical patents
290 John Arrillaga, $1.4, Portola Valley, Real Estate
290 Romesh Wadhwani $1.4, Palo Alto, Software
308 John Morgridge, $1.3, Portola Valley, Cisco
308 Daniel Pritzker, $1.3, Marin, Hotels
308 Vinod Khosla, $1.3, Portola Valley, Sun Microsystems
308 Michael Moritz, $1.3, SF, Venture Capital
308 Carl Berg, $1.3, Atherton, Real Estate
330 John Fisher, $1.25, SF, Gap
332 Meg Whitman, $1.2, Atherton, Ebay
332, Steve Cook, $1.2, Woodside, Intuit
332 Thomas Barrack, $1.2 Los Angeles, CA Colony Capital
356 Howard Marks, $1.15 Los Angeles, CA money management
356 Bruce Karsh, $1.15 Los Angeles, CA money management
385 Tamara Gustavson, $1 Malibu, CA

Wear Red for Public Ed

Here's a flier teachers can handout to parents and neighbors before or after school on Wear Red for Public Ed Tuesdays.

Wear Red Flier

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Tea Party Sends Armed Thugs to Break Up SEIU Rally in Atlanta

In response to an SEIU-sponsored labor rally this weekend in Atlanta, Tea Party activists sent out an alert on the right-wing website asking for armed protesters to counter protest. The SEIU demonstration was one of dozens being held at state capitols around the country in solidarity with public employee unions in Wisconsin.

The right wing website called for “freedom-oriented folks” to show up as balance to the “ravings of the passengers aboard SEIU thugbus, which is scheduled to vomit forth its stooges. . .” They also encouraged members to be “flexible” in their attire due to local gun laws.

(For more, see “Tea Party Calls For Armed Counter Protestors At Atlanta Labor Rally” from the Huffington Post)

MA Gov. Patrick to AFT: Chill Out, But Keep Those Donations Coming!

Yesterday, Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick issued a letter to the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) expressing his appreciation for unions and his deep, heart-felt belief that unions are an important and necessary part of our society. Perhaps he is scared that his state’s unions will go rogue on him, despite their well-established history of collaboration. Maybe he’s just fishing for campaign contributions early. Or possibly he’s trying in his own pathetic way to help bolster rank and file support for what should be a dying institution: collaborationist, bureaucratic unionism.

Patrick's Email to State Employees (From the AFT - American Federation of Teachers Facebook page, on Saturday, February 26)

Dear Colleague,

“The actions against public sector employees in Wisconsin have dominated recent news and troubled us all. As you consider Wisconsin's approach to its budget and fiscal crisis, I want to reiterate a few of the values that guide us here.”

That is to say, we’re not Wisconsin, so please don’t do anything rash, like shut down our schools and government offices. Please, please, please, play nice with us. We’re on your side (as long as you keep making generous campaign contributions and do our dirty work by enforcing our rollbacks on your members).

“Unions are good - and they can be part of the solution. Our public sector unions have demonstrated over and over again their and your willingness to work with us to build a stronger Commonwealth. From pension reform to transportation and education reform to wage concessions to help us close the budget gap, you and your union leadership have been our partners as we have tackled serious issues and made decisions that improve the Commonwealth in the long term. I am grateful for that.”

In other words, unions are good because they serve as the cops that police the workers, keep them in line, and force them to accept declining living and working conditions. “Commonwealth” is a euphemism for ruling class. Why should workers care about a stronger “Commonwealth” if their pay and benefits are weaker, their services gutted and their working hours lengthened?

“We have had our differences, naturally. But I believe in a politics that says we don't have to agree on everything before we work together on anything. As tough as our outstanding issues may be -- whether it's "plan design" or the next phase of pension reform or consolidating state agencies -- union leadership has been and will remain at the table. Standing for workers and standing for change are compatible values.”

Yes, play by our rules and you will retain your seat at the table. The seat may be at the end of the table, lower than the others, perhaps a little wobbly, and your meal might not include the caviar and fois gras that is on the other plates, but you will be there with us.

Of course if we were represented by Wobblies, rather than the AFT and NEA, the seats would NOT be wobbly because we wouldn’t be wasting our time at the table in the first place. A fighting union doesn’t waste its members’ dues trying to fight a losing battle against corporate campaign funding or trying to bargain with politicians whose personal and political interests lie with the ruling class. The interests of workers are only considered when necessary to secure campaign support and are always subservient to those of the bosses. A fighting union focuses on organizing, educating and mobilizing its members. It wins its demands by withholding its labor and through sabotage and other methods that cut into profits. As the preamble to the IWW constitution says, “The working class and the employing class have nothing in common.” It is this fundamental truth that negates any hope that a “seat at the table” will result in gains for workers.

“The attack on public sector employees and their unions is wrong for Massachusetts. As long as I have anything to say about it, we will continue to modernize our government and renew our social contract with balance and respect. We will remain focused on finding solutions. Today's needs -- and tomorrow's -- demand no less.

Keep your chin up,
Deval Patrick”

The attack is wrong for Massachusetts because Gov. Patrick knows it is unnecessary due to the social contract his government has with the unions. The unions know their role and continue to play by the rules, donating generously to political campaigns, accepting the ruling class’ definitions of the issues, and enforcing ruling class solutions on their members. In exchange, the unions retain their legitimacy and the union bosses keep their seats at the table (and their six-figure salaries). They get to continue serving as the representatives of workers and collecting their dues and using them to prop up the politicians.