Saturday, December 01, 2012

A Contrast in Styles

This is how Americans protest things.

This is how European dairy farmers do it.

Seriously, click through to that slideshow.  You will see farmers hosing down cops and the parliament building with milk.  You'll see them blocking streets with their tractors.  You'll see them sling-shotting flares and starting tire fires.

You won't see them sitting on their asses.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Free Music Friday

My brother turned me on to Joe Bonamassa and someday I'll have all of his records.  For now, I've been digging his Live at Albert Hall and Driving Towards the Daylight, which has this song.  I liked it even before I knew Brad Whitford from Aerosmith is playing on it.

I've also been digging the new Grace Potter record, especially this song called Loneliest Soul, but I can't find a decent vid of that, so you're stuck with a cover version of Cortez the Killer.

And if you're mind isn't blown enough, check out this chick:  Ana Popovic, who used to be a little girl from Serbia who loved the blues.  Now she's a guitar goddess.  This song is kind of too smooth jazz-ish for my tastes, but I can admire the playing. 

Thursday, November 29, 2012

The Permanent Underclass

It's useful to remember, I think, who is interested in filling your head with bullshit.  Now I'm not just talking about people who say something that is later proved to be wrong. I'm talking about the people who want you to believe incorrect things because you being stupid is somehow useful to them.  In the business world, such a thing would labeled a scam.

In the world of political commentary, it's a path to employment.

Take Michelle Malkin, who has no credibility outside right-wing propaganda outlets due to her writing style (tabloidy and derisive) and her general approach (towing the party line), but who is useful for making a point.


In an article headlined "Walmart vs. the Thugs" with a sub-heading of "The retail giant has powerful adversaries," she writes:
Black Friday always brings out the worst: long lines, short tempers, and random outbreaks of shoppers’ rage. This year, Big Labor will ratchet up the Strikesgiving tension with professional grievance-mongers and workers picketing at 1,000 Walmart stores nationwide.
Attention, Walmart directors: Appeasement of a mob never works. Walmart has tried repeatedly to stave off union thuggery through political “partnerships” and capitulation. It has failed and failed and failed.

Now I know it's just accepted without question on the right that "union = thug," but I don't think any rational person who is not a slave to their ideological biases can fairly describe an American labor union circa 2012 as "a powerful adversary" or that they employ all that much thuggery with their picket lines and peaceful protests.  

It's been a long slow climb to irrelevance for the unions, but according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, unions represent under 7% of the country's workers, and the bulk of those are public sector workers.  Now if you're aligned with Michelle Malkin's view, you may be inclined to complain about this.  To you, public sector workers do no actual work.  They just bilk taxpayers... and the unions?  They help.

The problem, of course, is that public sector workers are indeed useful!  (Not all of them and not all the time, but this can be said about private companies, too, can't it?)  And if we don't want our public sector workers to organize into unions, maybe we should stop pretending we can do Furlough Fridays to make up for budget shortfalls.  Maybe we should stop pretending that we can increase work loads and slash pay. Maybe we should acknowledge that incentives aren't just for the executive class.

Nah....better to decry union thuggery and pretend that only good things come out of Wal-Mart's business model. those who think Wal-Mart is an unalloyed good, I invite you to come to my neighborhood store.  The low prices will dazzle you....and the long lines at the checkout counter will drive you mad.  Thirty check-stands in the place, and only four are open, all of them manned by poorly-compensated, unmotivated employees who don't mind taking their time because, hey...they get paid by the hour and what can you do to them anyway?  They already work at Wal-Mart.

But back to the thug stuff.

Now I'm no expert on thugnaciousness....but I do think it's illustrative that many of the striking employees refuse to give their full names in media interviews, knowing that retaliation is not only possible but likely.  And yet, no one is afraid of the unlikely possibility of union retaliation.

It's anecdotal, but I have a friend who was bragging on Facebook about how her Dad made the news by yelling at the protestors from the safety of his van.  He did so, I suspect, because he knew there would be no consequences.

Those polite sign-holders would just take it.  They'd smile back and wave, maybe turn the other cheek and say, "Thank you, sir.  May I have another?"  They're not going to break his windshield or slash his tires.  They're not going to write down his license plate number and send Bruno and Vinnie over to bust his kneecaps.  Nope, Jimmy Hoffa's been gone for almost 40 years now. 

By the same token, do you think Wal-mart is going to hesitate in calling the police or that the police are going to hesitate in using force?  Hell, just this past week, Walmart workers choked a shoplifting suspect to death.  They killed a guy over a DVD player, that's how committed they are to a non-violent approach.

(Oh, I'm sure John Lennon would be proud about how politely the protesters disperse when the cops show up in riot gear, but that fucker's been gone almost as long as Jimmy Hoffa.  Imagine a world where your peace horseshit worked, John.)

I've been thinking a lot about this since my last post, worried I'm being too radical, worried that I'm a short and curly away from advocating a violent uprising or something.  But the more I think about it, the less worried I get.

The unions will never have access to the legitimate forces of violence.  Walmart can call the cops to kick protesters off private property, but the unions can't call the cops because Walmart cut their hours.  Try and steal a DVD player from the store, and you'll be detained and possibly killed.  But if Walmart cuts your wages, who are you going to call?

To me, it's pretty clear what's going on here:  The powerful have recourse, while the powerless have....nothing.  And while I do see how cleverly the powerful have arranged things to be so, I do not understand why the powerless acquiesce so slavishly to it.  Do they not realize such quiescence is one of the reasons they are powerless?

Me, I think it's pretty bold that the bulk of Walmart's profits go to the Walton family heirs, to the tune of billions.  It's claimed the six Walton heirs are worth as much almost 50 million US households.  Perfectly legal, but bold...especially when the company's compensation policies are so stingy.

The worker side needs to consider something just as bold, and since they (being the weak) will never have cover of the law, don't worry about it being the proper, decent thing to do.  I guess at the end of the day, these people need to ask what they want more:  to be right or to be respected?

Walmart doesn't always concern themselves with doing the right thing, but they make very sure that their rights are respected.   The workers should find some wisdom in that.  This is real life here, people. 

It's not fair.  The righteous do not always triumph. The strong will survive and the weak will perish.  It's law of the jungle time:  might makes right and woe to the conquered. They thought being nice would earn them some points, and what happens?  They get called thugs anyway.  Maybe it's time to earn the label. 

Make it so Michelle Malkin is afraid to give out her last name for fear of retaliation....