Posts Tagged american dream

We Asked – Americans Responded: What To Do With Immigrant Children

Onion Poll Immigrants

 

Source: The Onion

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Giants Unite To Shove Dangerous Pollutant Down Poor People’s Throats

In a massive whitewashing campaign of the most callous kind, Peabody Energy Corp., the world’s largest private-sector coal company, launched a public relations and advertising campaign last month extolling the virtues of coal energy for poor people.

A Peabody press release announcing the campaign, called Advanced Energy for Life, argues that lack of access to energy is “the world’s number one human and environmental crisis.”

Peabody’s proposal to solve this crisis? Asking the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to stop setting pollution limits on coal-fired power plants. Those pollution rules are meant to address climate change caused by greenhouse-gas emissions, a global problem that has the . Burning coal generates carbon emissions as well as hazardous pollutants such as mercury, lead, and benzene, .greatest effect on poor countries according to the American Lung Association

Burson-Marsteller, the world’s largest PR firm, and its subsidiary, Proof Integrated Communications, are working behind the scenes on Peabody’s PR effort. Burson-Marsteller spokesman Paul Cordasco confirmed to The Huffington Post that the company is working on behalf of Peabody. Peabody spokeswoman Beth Sutton said “Burson-Marsteller and several other firms are providing support for the campaign.”

Burson-Marsteller has a long history of working on PR campaigns that downplay or contradict established health concerns. The Guardian has described Burson-Marsteller as “the company that governments with poor human rights records and corporations in trouble with environmentalists have turned to when in crisis.”

The firm worked for Union Carbide after its poison gas disaster in Bhopal, India, killed 3,800 people in 1984. It has also worked on behalf of governments accused of human rights abuses, including Nigeria and Indonesia.

Environmental groups said Burson-Marsteller’s role in Peabody’s campaign isn’t surprising:

Burson-Marstellar has spent decades working for some of the world’s worst perpetrators of human rights and environmental abuses,” said Kert Davies, director of the Climate Investigations Center. “So Burson-Marsteller are well suited to help Peabody push dirty coal to the world’s poorest people, at a time when everyone from the World Bank to the U.N. are warning us climate change will hit the poor first, and hardest.”

But, let us keep voting against government regulation of such things because they are so bad and socialist and take away our god-given freedoms as Americans (to be exploited…) blah blah blah yawn.

Yes, the government giving money to people so they can eat is a hand-outs and a giant waste of taxpayer money. And the government enacting policies and regulations that protect the air you breathe, the water you ingest, and the food you eat is, at best, nothing of value—and, at worst, a job-killing regulation that impedes the success of people who want to get rich dumping toxic waste into the ground, in the air and soil, food and water where people getting hand-outs live. Let them eat toxic-waste laced bootstraps.

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Just Get A Job At McDonald’s and Let the American Dream Begin

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When people are struggling financially, such as being unemployed, on welfare, on disability or in any other circumstance that has rendered them poor and without income, the stereotypical, go-to phrase of bootstraps bullshittery is always “go get a job at McDonald’s, buddy“. Usually this phrase is uttered by people who themselves never have worked at a place like McDonald’s (or Burger King or any other similar fast food joint) and who view not working at a shit-hole like that as a contemptible refusal by alleged “lazy freeloaders” to pull themselves up by their bootstraps to finally stop mooching off of hard-working, honest, supposedly bootstraps-pulling individuals.

Oh you know, if it were me I would totally lower myself and go work for McDonald’s”  says some dipshit one percenter who was escorted out of government offices with seven figure bonuses made entirely possible by a tax-payer funded bail out for an economic meltdown he and his colleagues caused across the financial world, in collaboration with the majority of the US Congress.

The rhetoric here is “you work hard, you create your own luck, and you gotta believe anything is possible“blah blah blah.

The irony of this type of callous, rancid rhetoric, of course, is that people who do work at places like McDonald’s or Burger King etc,  do not even get paid a livable-wage which they then could supposedly use to pull themselves up by their bootstraps to realize their American Dream.

Striking McDonald's worker Bartolome Perez, 42, protests outside McDonald's on Hollywood Boulevard as part of a nationwide strike by fast-food workers to call for wages of $15 an hour, in Los Angeles

Earlier this month, McDonald’s employees in California, Michigan and New York have filed class-action law suits against McDonald’s alleging that McDonald’s has engaged in systematic wage theft.

“The suits allege that McDonald’s has forced employees to work off the clock, not paid them overtime and struck hours off their time cards.

We’ve uncovered several unlawful schemes, but they all share a common purpose — to drive labor costs down by stealing wages from McDonald’s workers,” said Michael Rubin of Altshuler Berzon LLP, an attorney who represents California workers.

The employees in Michigan allege that they would start getting paid only when customers walked into the restaurants, even if they showed up to work hours earlier.
New York McDonald’s workers, who filed their case in federal court ,claim the fast food chain did not reimburse them for the cost of cleaning uniforms. They say it drives some workers’ real wages below the minimum wage, which is a violation of federal labor law.

Since 1985, the Labor Department has found that McDonald’s and its franchises have had to pay back wages more than 300 times for Federal Labor Standards Act (FLSA) violations.

These types of exploits are not just confined to McDonald’s, however.  Burger King, most notable among a myriad of companies out there, is another avid exploiter.

As the truly sad and somewhat harrowing accounts of fifty-year-old Glenn Johnson who gets paid $14,000 a year (that is $1,166 a month) working at a Miami-area Burger King, just minutes away from the fast food company’s corporate headquarters, show, even if your company does not actively steal from you, as a regular employee in the fast-food industry, which many, including the Burger King spokesperson believe to “provide an entry point into the workforce for millions of Americans,” you still cannot make ends meet despite working full-time and working hard.

Note how the bootstraps rhetoric is not just about working but working hard. “You work hard, you create your own luck, and you gotta believe anything is possible” it goes. Thing is, that is just not how it always goes.

Glenn Johnson is a man who, much like many other men and women out there, does work hard, to the point of exhaustion, yet is still struggling.

Come work for us for scap wages and the American Dream can happen to you, too!!

Come work for us for scrap wages and the American Dream can happen to you, too!!

He gets paid $7.93 an hour, no benefits, no health-care. When he gets sick or feels sick, he gets some Tylenol or VapoRub or some other over-the-counter medication as even going to the hospital will cost him $1,000 off the bat. This means that Mr. Johnson is also not having access to preventive care and thus is not getting routine physical check-ups, which are especially important for someone his age.

His rent is $765 a month, which takes up more than three weeks of his paycheck, and he also has to pay for utilities and food as well as gas to put in his car so he can get to work. This does not leave much for anything else, including paying for his health-care.

An individual like Mr. Johnson, with his level of income, may, under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as Obamacare, be eligible for government subsidies of his premiums but he is not eligible for government subsidies of his deductibles and actual health-care costs (because that would have actually been a policy helping people, so, naturally, it was voted away).

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Note that someone who only makes $14,000 a year does not even qualify for the low/zero deductible Gold and Platinum plans under Obamacare, he only qualifies for the Silver and Bronze ones, both of which have, relatively speaking,  astronomically high deductibles, from $5,000 to $10,000.

How can someone whose yearly income is $14,000 ever come up with a $10k or even $5k deductible?  That $10k may as well be a million because he doesn’t have that either. Affordable, I think not, Mr. President.

In addition to the fiscal strain, Mr. Johnson also has to content with the emotional strain of working such a minimum-wage job without having the means to do anything else beside work. He just does not bring home much to do anything else with, such as go on vacation. He seems just like another indentured servant. He often comes home tired and exhausted, unable to do anything but eat dinner, take a shower, watch some TV and go to bed, just so he can start the same thing tomorrow.

He does not get any benefits, therefore, he is also not eligible to go on vacation or take a week off or even afford to get sick – not that he could afford going on vacation if he wanted to. Additionally, he has to content with abusive bosses and managers.

It is just a demoralizing existence. And he is not the only one.

All the while, Burger King has been posting a 37 percent in its quarterly gains.

The comment section of the Huffington Post, where Mr. Johnson’s story was first published, reeks of the same old garbage, out-of-touch bootstraps narratives and other associated Gordon Gecko prosperity dribble blaming Mr. Johnson for the fact that he is getting paid scrap wages without benefits or anything else and that he clearly seems unwilling to pull himself up by his bootstraps.

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Some people state that it is Johnson’s fault for being 50 years old, working in the same place for the past thirty years and still making about the same amount of money. “Why was he not promoted?” they ask or “does he have bad work ethics? A bad attitude?”

People blame him for being a “loser” who is merely choosing to work at Burger King. As if Mr. Johnson was offered a host of opportunities for a better job and income yet inexplicably chose to work a minimum-wage paying slow death.

As if the ability to make the best choices in life was not often dependent on one’s socio-economic situation in society as well as race, gender, bodily ability, abuse and a host of other factors that systemically place certain people on trajectory-fucking paths and disadvantaged positions vis a vis people who enjoy a host of privileges – such as being born white, straight, able bodied and wealthy or any combination thereof.

Privilege gives people freedom of choice, it gives them options, which, in turn, allow making good and prudent decisions possible. And isn’t that what poverty is ultimately about? That one’s choices shrink in proportion to one’s wealth whereby the less you own, the fewer choices available to you?

Poor people are often blamed for their situation, as if they were born into privilege and wealth and always functional, loving, non-abusive families with a myriad of choices available to them while inexplicably making the bad ones to their own detriment.

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As I have mentioned before, this delusion – or lie may I dare say – that sheer will power can make individuals transcend barriers, the glass ceiling, and overcame systemic inequalities, is precisely the kind of misleading bullshit that the likes of Romney (and even the President) and other one percenters regurgitate when speaking to the masses of people who are navigating a tedious existence of one paycheck/crisis away from destitution without any real prospects for improvement in sight, thanks to a host of middle-class busting policies by both of our parties and a practically non-existent social-safety net.

These are the things that, contrary to popular (and it appears even professional belief)  cannot be ameliorated with mere sheer individual will-power, as individuals cannot be tasked to solve and overcome systemic issues.

That Burger King is paying its employees scrap wages without any benefits whatsoever, and is not required to do so by law, is a systemic issue.

fast foodPeople who admonish Glenn Johnson and millions of others like him for not having made “better choices”, for having “chosen” “loser vocations” thus not working a great job with great pay, are missing the point, which is that a) not everyone is born into the right set of circumstances and that regardless of that b) not everyone in society can be rich.

Professions in hospitality and janitorial services are, traditionally, not the kind of jobs that make people rich.  Especially the fast food industry is notorious for abysmally low wages and as generally being in the lowest paid job category. People are often not expected to remain in them for long and only be taking on such a job if all else fails (unless, of course, you are in a huge recession where even skilled workers cannot find jobs in their trained professions so they have to work for such places). This high turn-over in employees has played to the advantage of the fast-food industry that is bringing in record profits, because labor leaders often have not made an effort to organize these workers into unions to increase their collective bargaining power. Given the immense advantage owners can take of this situation, it is unlikely that they will support for changes to occur.

Yet, they are professions that are both needed and do require hard work.

However, without a meaningful social safety net in place as well as meaningful labor laws and protections, people just eek by an existence, slide down the ladder until they hit bottom, or in this case Burger King and McDonald’s – the go-to employers people evoke when admonishing and vilifying  welfare recipients and the poor in general.

Mr. Johnson deserves to be working in a job, whatever that job may be, that pays a livable wage, that offers him benefits in the form of vacation and sick leave, that accommodates disabilities, that requires mandatory minimum wage increases in regular intervals. He deserves to not find himself a paycheck away from destitution, he deserves to have something to show for after a life-time of working hard in a vocation of his choice (or not of his choice, but out of necessity) instead of destitution, poverty and exhaustion while the company he works for posts record profits with a few on top reaping all the benefits.

There was a time in this country, not too long ago, where if you worked full-time, no matter what you did, you could afford to live like a human being. Now, it’s almost impossible for an unskilled worker to get a full forty hours, lest their employer have to fork over their paltry ‘benefits’ package. Even if they did, minimum wage is not enough to pay the bills or live the kind of dignified life resembling that of a human being. This is why the middle class is dwindling and why our economy can’t get back on its feet.

Poverty is destabilizing on many levels and the health of any society is generally measured by the existence and health of its middle-class. A healthy middle-class is indispensable for the smooth functioning of a democracy.

But sure, let’s blame the poor and dismiss them by suggesting they shut up complaining and just go work at McDonald’s to make their (American) Dream come true, even though the wages places like McDonald’s and Burger King pay are not fit for a dog,  while playing the violin for the “poor” billionaires who feel threatened and whine about having to endure bad press.

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Quote of the Day

[The minimum wage is] not the government’s business.” – Rick Perry 

I could spend the next week detailing everything that is wrong and garbage about this classist, privileged, contemptible and rancid piece of mind vomit that left Rick Perry’s mouth and whose stench keeps lingering in the air as its contents are being ravenously gobbled up by the Republican leadership and voter-base, and there is nothing I can say here that I have not already said a hundred dozen times, but what I do want to point out is that entities who believe bullshit bootstrap narratives, who admonish people for not working “hard enough” or trying “hard enough” or put in the “effort” (as ostensibly wealthy people have done, hence the reward of blissful wealth) do so without a trace of irony because they not only subscribe to the false notion that we are all born with the same set of opportunities and access, but because it is those very notions of “it is not the government’s business to deal with minimum wages” that deny people the upward mobility the likes of Perry preach about, no matter how hard they work and no matter what kind of an entrepreneur spirit they have.

How much people earn does matter because every $1 raise to the minimum wage creates $2,800 in purchasing power according to the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago. Denying them that while in the same breath exclaiming that they should “work hard(er) already” so they can make it is colossally hypocritical.

Hard work means nothing, and it leads to nothing but a tedious existence to just meet one’s basic needs, if it is not accompanied by things like a steady paycheck, livable wages, healthcare benefits and paid time off  – just to name a few of the things that, at a minimum, make a job an acceptable job.

These, in turn, are things that the government needs to legislate because entities, such as corporations, that have a profit motive and only care about the bottom line cannot, and should not, be tasked with governance. That would be like putting the fox in charge of the hen house.

The government exists not only as the entity calling in for and maintaining order but most importantly as an equalizer to level the playing field and protect consumers and to provide for the general welfare of the populace. It is a form of accountability because regulation creates accountability and transparency, which are indispensable for the functioning of a democratic, equitable and prosperous society.

If it was not for the government that had legislated things like the 40-hour work week, minimum wage laws and a host of other such provisions aimed at protecting wage-earners and consumers in general, things would still be the way they were during the gilded robber baron age and thus during the early start of the Industrial Revolution, whose exploits and excesses inspired Marxism and subsequently communism.

If it had not been for the government stepping in, people would still be living under abysmally bad social and  living conditions with lives full of poverty, hunger and illness, as it is the case in many developing countries today.

In other words, we have already seen what happens in the absence of government regulations and when corporations are left to their own devises and tasked with governance and it doesn’t work, unless exploiting people for all they are worth to enrich yourself is what you want – which is, incidentally, the context within which Perry’s assertion needs to be seen.

Republicans don’t value work or hard work and they are only interested in the government with respect to the extent to which it can be used to transfer wealth from the masses, the 99%, to the top while disseminating prosperity gospels about bootstraps, trickle down, job creator and hard work.

The thing is, you cannot tell people they need to work hard and pull themselves up by their bootstraps, but then keep them systematically subjugated and exploited – and thus without the ability to buy those boots on whose straps they can pull themselves up, effectively barring them from moving upward the social class ladder you just gave them shit for not having climbed because they allegedly failed to work hard enough.

Republicans  expect people to pull themselves up by ex-nihilo apparently; take these magic beans and hope they turn into a kingdom.

They refuse to understand, or do not want to understand, that poverty is a trap that creates and begets even more poverty and that if it had not been for the government stepping in (see particularly, but not only, FDR’s “New Deal”) things would still be like they were at the beginning of the Industrial Revolution where wages, labor laws and working conditions were not regulated and entire families, including children,  had to work under harrowing working conditions for abysmally low wages that did not allow them to properly sustain themselves, much less move upward; where the only entities that reaped the wealth from production and sales were the wealthy owners who kept getting wealthier and wealthier without passing any of that newly acquired wealth down to the workers whose hard work led to the prosperity of the company. You know, the same thing that is happening in China today and India.

The middle class was the creation of governments as before it we mostly had very few wealthy people who owned lands, assets and later the means of production and very many poor people who were barely eeking by an existence.

Republicans do not value hard work or any work for that matter. They are not interested in helping you “become rich” or to be anything but just a source of tax revenue and unlimited supply of quasi-free labor.

Such is the gist of Rick Perry and his party’s agenda, which is astoundingly the most honest thing I have heard a Republican politician/leader say in a long time about the Republican party’s true credo. Note that while most Republican leaders at least try to wrap the bootstraps rhetoric in euphemisms, Rick Perry is just openly saying what those phonies are not. That is the only difference between Perry and some other “reasonable” Republican, such as Chris Christie.

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Mitt Romney Sued For Criminal Racketeering

Remember how during the last Presidential campaign, Mitt Romney and his phony wife went around telling everyone what a stand up guy he is with ethics, integrity and a love of god? That they should not have to apologize for being “hard working” and “successful” and that it was, in fact, hard work and Romney’s relentless honesty and integrity as a man, humanitarian and entrepreneur that had lead him to his success as a one percenter riding car elevators?

Remember the infamous 47% speech in which Romney, behind seemingly closed doors, declared and dismissed nearly half the US population as nothing but lazy, unmotivated free-loaders who lack both work ethics and a desire to lead better lives and instead are just waiting to get handouts from crooks like him? Remember how he refused to release his tax returns of the past decade because he did not feel that he should have to apologize for his “hard work” and “success”? Remember how he thought that paying 15% in taxes on a $100 million dollar income a year was him being just like the rest of us, doing his share?

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Well, I guess if you consider conning people out of their jobs, benefits and retirements hard work, Romney certainly has a point. At any rate, the man who believed himself to be the epitome of the American Dream and hard work and bootstraps narratives is currently being sued in federal court for criminal racketeering.

Steven “Laser” Haas is the owner and sole shareholder of Collateral Logistics Inc. (CLI) the firm which was retained to oversee the liquidation of assets in the bankruptcy of eToys in 2001.

During the process of liquidating the company Haas came across irregularities, unethical practices and outright criminal acts originating from the top at Bain Capital (Mitt Romney’s asset management firm), Goldman Sachs, Kay Bee Toys and Stage Stores, all of which were involved in the machinations to sell eToys for mere pennies to Bain through its interest in Kay Bee […] Haas alleged in his affidavit to the Securities and Exchange Commission on August 3, 2012 that after he had uncovered numerous irregularities, he had been offered $850,000 by Bain to keep silent about what he had discovered.  When he attempted to report the bribe, he was told that since he had not accepted it, he didn’t have a case. Bain of course denies that the offer was ever made.

The American Dream (and Jesus and Joseph Smith) hard at work. Well it is a good thing that Edward Snowden, Chelsea Manning, Julian Assange, atheists and community organizers are a threat to this country and not someone like Mitt Romney.

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Quote of the Day

obama blah blah

That is a huge understatement, Mr. President. I mean, for a second there I thought he was so passionate and enthusiastic about this, he would momentarily break down and yawn.

Shutting down the government so that millions of Americans don’t get health care is not just a bad idea  – you pudding of a man – it is callous and contemptible and speaks of a peoples who lack compassion and empathy.

I am always amazed, and with that I mean shocked to my core and appalled, at the ease with which conservatives/Republicans take comfort in the idea of denying health care to millions of Americans.

But that is the running, concurrent theme in a country where its people go marching for gun ownership and against health care for people. Just as it was the case with the bail out: of course students and us mere middle class 99%ers were not, and never will be, worthy of a bail out. That is reserved for the crooks who got us into this. Decent, law abiding people do not get bailed out, the white collar criminals, the robber barons and the politicians who support them do. Why forgive student loans or keep interest rates low for everyone at all times when you could give all that money to Wall Street, oil companies, the military industrial complex and Israel.

The sad reality in this, of course, is that as long as Congress-members are in bed with the likes of Koch Brothers as opposed to mistresses, everyone is fine. Screw over the entire country, you are good, you get bailed out and called an example of the grand American Dream, a hard worker. Text a picture of your dick to your mistress, it is a scandal and you are a scum, wreck sex addict who deserves to crawl into a cave to never return.

Yeah, priorities. We got them.

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Picture of the Day

Fox nation

 

LOLZ Forever: Foxnation – “Join the Community that believes in the American dream.” 

Ahh, there is indeed nothing worse that an unembarrassed hypocrite from the Right. These people and their sheep followers really believe that the robber baron policies they stand for, perpetuate and support lead everyone to vast riches when in reality the only people they serve are the architects of this lie, the robber barons themselves.

The American Dream was the creation of a solid middle class after WWII where people had well paying jobs, women finally began entering the work force with a steady income so that people could lead a middle class lifestyle, such as own a home, drive a car, send the kids to school and be comfortable.

It was not, contrary to the propaganda spewed by the Right, becoming a millionaire. It was about upward social mobility in an unprecedented manner and extent where a stable class of peoples who are neither poor nor rich, as in millionaires, can thrive.  And that was achieved through government policies directed at creating and subsequently protecting the middle class – and thus the very things that the GOP and their lobbying arm Fox Nation/”News” are fighting against everyday under the guise and lie of The American Dream where supposedly everyone should be a millionaire and if they aren’t, well then they are losers and lazy assholes incapable of achievement and uninterested in something better.

 Just look at where all the cuts are supposed to come from everytime there is a debt crisis and the government needs to raise revenue: “entitlements” – food stamps, social security (which is a system that is paid into and not part of the government budget funded by tax dollars), medicare, medicaide and other such middle class protecting policies and institutions (oil subsidies and giving rich people tax breaks they don’t need are not called entitlements, of course. See, rich people taking money from the poor is just them getting rewarded for all their hard working. But the other way around, in the from of a social safety net, is called entitlements).

The wealthy are not to be taxed more and the loopholes through which they evade paying their fair share also not be closed, because you know they are the job creators blah blah yawn, even though the only thing they do create with all that excess money are fatter and bigger bank accounts.

Instead let hard working people who are struggling more and more everyday carry the burden so the privileged can remain privileged. Let them subsidize the privilege of wealthy people.

That’s what Fox “News” and the Republican party at large stand for: greed and hate. Nothing else and especially not The American Dream.

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