Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Why economies tank -- American labors only practical road back

MY COMMENT AT http://www.prospect.org/csnc/blogs/tapped_archive?month=02&year=2011&base_name=organizing_is_a_right_not_a_pr

Did someone say the word "insolvency"?

That is what happens to states when the economy tanks. Why do economies tank? 9 times out of 10 in history and around the world it is because TOO MUCH money gets into the hands of bankers (no left-winger here -- this is about free markets) who then lend it to people who cannot pay back (bankers go for a bubble like a moth to a flame for some reason ???).

This becomes double-jeopardy when the too much lending goes into real-estate. When house prices finally drop in half nobody will come down enough to sell -- until inflation painlessly makes real real estate prices come down over a very, very long time -- nobody sells, nobody buys -- ergo, a long, long recession.

This becomes triple jeopardy when banks are deregulated (crazier moths) at the same time.

The Republican Party managed to accomplish all three -- sent the bankers TOO MUCH money to lend via $4 trillion (!) dollars of tax-cuts for the rich -- which fueled the real estate bubble all the while deregulating (moth to a flame) banks. Ergo, an potential repeat of the Great Depression.
If labor were running the country for the average person -- instead of two elites trying to tear up different parts of the country for play -- the endless recession never would have happened.

The only way to unionize in the modern world (if unheard of in America) is called sector-wide labor agreements -- legally mandated -- all worker who perform the same type of job in the same geographic locale work under one common contract with all firms. This ends the race to the bottom. Wal-Mart closed 88 big boxes in Germany because it could not compete (when legally forced) to pay the same wages and benefits.

Sector-wide agreements were originally instituted in post-war Germany by very conservative, very anti-communist, very Roman Catholic (think Konrad Adenauer) politicians to keep labor costs DOWN so their just post fascist industrialist could rebuild -- by allowing labor to make concessions without worrying whether others would make the same concessions. This is not "socialism." (English labor did not do this at first and thus fell behind rebuilding.)

What avoids the race-to-the-top by labor just as beautifully avoids the race-to-the-bottom by ownership -- as each owner claims he must cut labor costs to match the competition. Sector-wide bargaining creates a fair and balanced labor market for both sides.

And can be instituted by one law -- easy.

Sector-wide is the practice throughout the better compensated OECD first-world and even used in the second-world (Argentina) and third-world (Indonesia) -- also Canada. It is about how free markets actually work -- nothing to do with "socialism."

Thursday, February 17, 2011

My email to Wisconsin on government union busting

My email to Wisconsin on government union busting:
One stat tracks the disappearance of America's -- collectively bargaining -- middle class:

US median wage (the average person's) wage, 1968: $12.50/hr
US median wage (the average person's) wage, 2008: $15.00/hr

During the same span average income doubled from $14,000/hr to $28,000/yr!
The federal minimum wage is now $3/hr below what it was in 1968:

Federal minimum wage 1968: ($1.60 nominally) $10.15/hr
Federal Minimum wage, 2001: $7.25/hr

Doubling the federal minimum wage might add only 3% to the cost of living -- that is how little money goes to the bottom.
Doubling the federal minimum wage (to today's median wage) would add how much to the price of housing, health care, transportation, clothing, electronics? A Big Mac could go up 33% (fast food being by far the biggest labor user) -- but half the country would get a raise!
I worked out 2% inflation from $7.25 to $$12.50 here: http://ontodayspagelinks.blogspot.com/2008/08/3-cost-of-gdp-output-and-inflation.html
Today America is being fought over by two elites. The liberal elite wants to tear up the social fabric (TSA invasiveness) while the conservative elite wants to tear up the economy (tax cuts for the rich-to-deregulated banks-to-borrowers who can't pay back). When I was a kid (67 years old now) the liberals healed the social fabric while the conservatives guarded the economy.

When I was a kid the average person still counted because unions gave us economic and political leverage: as much organization as any special interest and the majority of votes.

This is not the time for Wisconsin to disband the last bastion of American labor, government unions.

Saturday, February 12, 2011


MY SUPPORT FOR AMY SULLIVAN'S TIME MAG POST -- VERSUS -- UNKNOWING DOWN-PUTTERS -- http://swampland.blogs.time.com/2011/02/08/stay-classy-tsa/

male agent: heads up; we've go a cutie, to (presumably male) remote viewer

small airport -- sorry; only male agents (see my post above quoting TSA MANDATORY male on female frisk you cannot walk away from)

"Male screeners have certainly attempted to pressure women to allow them to touch them - this has happened to me. I assume they succeed sometimes.

"In BOS, a male screener told me there was a 'very long wait' for a female screener and it 'would be better' to let him do it. "

no law (supposedly) says male police officers may not frisk females

Most of these answers are false. A male officer can frisk a female. There is certqin training that covers how to do this.

When searching a female it may be helpful to:
* · Have a female officer present, if possible. Be certain that the written report of the incident contains details of the arrest, mention of any weapons or contraband that were being sought, what if anything was found in the search.
* The more immediate or important the arrest the better. If there is a legitimate belief that she is carrying weapons or contraband a search should not be delayed.
* Do not search a female alone unless it is absolutely necessary.
* Conduct the search of a female in the same manner that you would search a male.
* Before starting to search the front of a female, tell her that the search is not meant to embarrass her. Ask if any weapons or contraband are concealed in her clothing or body. She may deny having any weapons or contraband, search anyway. If she admits to having weapons or contraband locate it, seize it, safely secure it and resume your systematic search.
* Use good judgement and discretion. These basic steps may be employed similarly when a female officer searches a male.

TSA male agents target female travellers

MY OWN ESSAY ON THE TOPIC: TSA extends sexual abuse from stop-and-frisk to fly-and-frisk

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Is it really fair to make San Francisco's homeless carry their "fair share" of the city budget cutting load?

Is it really fair to make San Francisco's homeless carry their "fair share" of the city budget cutting load (at least 10%*)?

Let's not go Arnold. The former governor squeezed $1000/yr literally out of the mouths of the state's 1.3 million neediest -- saving $1.3 billion. If everyone else ponied up as much the state budget would go into surplus -- and the neediest wouldn't have to give up a dollar. Hint.

* http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2011/02/10/BAA11HL2Q4.DTL

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Can recording an Illinois politician's speech violate the Eavesdropping Act?

A lawyer now informs me that Illinois Eavesdropping the law does not apply to a political speech because it is not a conversation -- setting me back -- but off the top of my head I wonder: suppose the speech maker answers question or curses or takes personal questions before a crowd while exiting. Suppose a teacher converses with the class.

A law could not constitutionally ban recording a political speech if it so intended. Wouldn't be putting too much of a burden on free speech to require students to constantly turn recorders on and off?

Got to kick it over. Sounds like it should all narrow down to whether a law may constitutionally bar recording a private conversation in a private place -- if everyone knows it is being recorded. Banning recording of a public official doing public work in a public place seems way back there somewhere on the bannable scale. Off the top of my cab driver head. :-)

From http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1349966/Chicago-artist-Chris-Drew-faces-15-years-jail-recorded-arrest.html :
"In Illinois police are currently prosecuting nine people for alleged breaches of the law [Eavesdropping Act -- A.K.A., Illinois Corrupt Politicians Protection Act]. The maximum penalty is only three years behind bars for the first time the law is broken and five years if it is done again. But anyone recording a judge, attorney general, state attorney or police officer can be sent to jail for up to 15 years."

May a politician making a speech before an Illinois audience of many thousands forbid one and all from sound recording -- in light of the U.S. Constitution's First Amendment? Can a citizen in Illinois recording such a speech without a politicians express permission be so charged under the Eavesdropping Act – in light of our First Amendment rights?

Assuming the Illinois eavesdropping act is constitutional, charging Street artist Chris Drew (no relation) recording police performance of public duty in the public way would seem a strange place to start. How about the tens of thousands of Illinois private college and high school students who record their teachers lectures without so much as informing them?

It should be easy to set up a sting for inarguably such criminal behavior by passing an investigating officer off as taking a survey taker, asking students if they record in class, as they exit their schools. Wait until they get around the corner to grab them and put them on buses – students wouldn't need too much guarding; you could utilize a minimum number of police. A couple busloads from 100 Illinois schools should be easy to fill: 10,000 students in one day. Drive the buses to someplace like United Center. Seat students in the stands. Judges can set up multiple courts on the stadium floor for arraignments.

Once that legal point goes out to the world it will be time for neighbor to watch neighbor – Janet Napolitano style.

I just watched a cell phone video on TV news of somebody driving the wrong way down a highway taken from a vehicle driving on a parallel road. If the picture taker forgot to inform his passenger that he was recording sound too as they conversed: you've got a prosecution. You just have to think through the angles.

Recording devices are becoming so ubiquitous – a recording studio in everyone's pocket; broadcast studios did not even have high definition until recently – that First Amendment jurisprudence may have to accept their unannounced -- and an asked -- use as legally indistinguishable from recordings we make with our brains – or something like that. ???

I'm not saying it should be okay to sneak into the back of a police car and secretly record officers private conversations about their preferences in doughnut shops – threatening to overload their favorite spots when word gets around: 15 years!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

My comment on prenatal personhood on an "American Prospect" blog today

My comment on prenatal personhood on an "American Prospect" blog today:

Four fun steps -- sci fi to present to sci fi to present -- to fetal personhood (at whatever point a medical consensus determines there is full-fledged human life):

One; when advances in medical technology allow fetuses to be removed overnight for medical attention, such will be legal persons and must retain that status upon return to the womb. Will the courts allow one class of fetuses "slave" and the other free?

Two; if today's physician, first, views a fetus on a clear view sonogram (I believe such are in at least limited use) and manipulates mom's stomach wall to tease diagnostic reactions from baby, wouldn't we all relate to the fetus as a full-fledged member of society -- from then on. (Hint: we are really talking mid-brain, not fore brain).

Three; in the future an unborn twin is removed for overnight care. No need to answer -- but: when does the stay behind twin become a legal person: from the moment its sibling sees the light of day or does it have to wait until it is rejoined face-to-face with a now legal person?

Four; of course, all fetuses are in the company of a legal person -- mom -- if not face-to-face, and in the unseen (at least our mid-brains even if the presence becomes ever more evident to our fore-brains ) company of millions.
Roe v. Wade worked around the issue of possible human life outweighing fundamental privacy (no argument on Roe's version of constitutional privacy -- at least arguable -- and certainly fundamental, even if only a legislative concern) with the words: "... may not, just by adopting one theory, of life override the rights of the pregnant woman that are at stake")

The theories of life Roe presented would not hold any real world water: three theological plus quickening and viability (the latter the purported medical "focus"). Birth, the purported Jewish Orthodox view wouldn't allow the judiciary to determine when life begins at four weeks overdue but would have no trouble pinpointing full-fledged life at twelve weeks early arrival.

One week under the medical consensus (even those who abort 20 week fetuses do not deny humanity) would exist 95% the same baby: a perfect candidate for Roe's "compelling state interest" -- required to override privacy.

Emailed to Traffic 911: Child prostitutes can sue Johns for child sexual abuse

Emailed to Traffic 911: Child prostitutes can sue Johns for child sexual abuse.

I got this idea back in 1987 after watching the movie "Street Wise." (The movie came out in 1986 -- Life Magazine did the original cover story on the same homeless kids 4 years before that.) I saw these skinny strung-out kids being picked up by big luxury cars and -- I don't know if it was the faux lawyer in me or the cab driver -- I though: sue!

Touch a child/give them your house. You can possibly deter most Johns simply by giving the idea big play in the media even if you are not doing much with it yet.

In 1987, I suggested the idea to Louis Lee, director of Children of the Night and to Gerg Loken, legal counsel of Covenant House. Doctor Lee, last I heard back then, was exploring the idea with the president of Loyola law. Greg Loken, at first, said, "I wish I had thought of that." But the following month he gave me the run around saying: "The child would never stick around; we do this." Typical young lawyer nonsense: two conflicting thoughts separated by a semi-colon. Later it seems something funny may have been going on in Covenant House.

Thing about suing for child sexual abuse is that there may be no statute of limitations in most places on child abuse law suits.

Friday, February 4, 2011

My email to Paul Craig Roberts: Paul, how are we going to wake up? Newly noticed horror (thanks to TSA): male police think nothing of frisking females

Horrified by stories of TSA agents enhanced frisking females (not too infrequently at small airports?) I researched the legality of such on the net. Didn't need to look far as a widely distributed AP story about proliferating scanners included (without any special notice) how a "quick frisk" by a named male officer discovered a label backing in the rear pocket of a named female (must have been a pretty heavy "back of the hand" on her backside to discover something so thin).

Internet forums are replete with comments from male officers asserting they may frisk a female just as legally as a male pretty much if no female officer is handy -- even assert that if both gender officers are present it is not up to the female to choose who will do the frisk -- even tell of using the front of the hand (my department doesn't give me a bad time about it). Even found a video from a young future police recruit club (supervised by cops) in which what looks to be an 18 year old boy is practicing a palms down frisk all over what looks to be an 18 year old girl. (http://www.booads.com/videos-stop-and-frisk-%5BW1-dcSUDPE8%5D.cfm)

That is how casually they take violating the number two taboo -- after murder of our society.

Some of us agonize over 200,000 children being paddled in the South every year. If the average of 35,000 (at times) New York City male police officers frisk a woman only every two months that makes 200,000 women sexually groped by cops every year -- in one city! Somebody has to come up with a number for across the nation.

BTW, I am not that dark and down about government intrusion -- at least not as in irresistible force. The real problem is alluded to in your question: the American people as oh, so movable objects. I do motivations (you don't have to salute the flag; you shouldn't have to rise when a judge walks in :-]). These intrusions would never happen in continental Europe (maybe in Britain with it's hanging over class system -- but that is the point) simply because Europeans expect to be seen to properly. Americans will take anything.

At core is the question of "social democracy." In the "people's republic" of California -- sexually wild as we get -- DAs threaten inappropriate touching by airport security (not very meaningfully but they mean well). In laissez faire Chicago -- as straight laced as we get -- Cook County courthouse uses the same strip search scanners on free men, women and children that now do the prisoner stripping at our county jail.

Social democracy hardly equals socialism. Was instituted by very anti-communist, very Roman Catholic German politicians (are you old enough to remember Conrad Adenauer? :-]) post war to tamp down labor demands so barely post fascist industrialist could invest more in rebuilding (Britain did not follow and fell behind).

The core of social (and economic) democracy: legally mandated, sector wide labor agreements. Line up all similarly working owners on one side and all similarly employed workers on the other side and you keep either from having an unfair (and inefficient) advantage over the other. Free health and education on the side pose no moral hazard.

Raise the minimum wage in the US to $15/hr and you would give half the country a raise (median wage $15/hr -- up 20% as average income upped 100% since 1968) -- at a cost of living increase of an almost below visibility 3% (worked out [2]% from $7.25 to $12.50 here: http://ontodayspagelinks.blogspot.com/2008/08/3-cost-of-gdp-output-and-inflation.html). Repeat: half our workforce could be raised to today's median wage with 3% inflation: we are obviously doing something quite wrong.