Archive for category Corporate Bullying

Why We Must Have a Revolution This Year

Not personal its business

Today we learned of the death of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, which immediately prompted Tea-GOPers to threaten what amounts to a shutdown of the SCOTUS. President Obama responded by announcing his intent to nominate a new justice anyway.

Tonight there was another Tea-GOP debate, in which Donald Trump absolutely reamed John Ellis (Jeb!) Bush and Marco Roboto on the subject of George W. Bush’s responsibility for the 9/11 attacks and the Iraq fiasco/war of aggression. If anybody’s interested, Iraq is one of several issues where Trump has positioned himself to the left of Hillary Clinton. So-called “free trade” is another. He is winning the race for the Tea-GOP presidential nomination.

Enough about the politicians! Last Wednesday something happened that’s more significant.

The past few years have been very good for United Technologies. The contractor does billions of dollars a year in business with the federal government. CEO Gregory Hayes pulled down nearly $10 million in 2014, and over $20 million the year before. On Thursday, the company reported $7.6 billion in profits, up from $6.2 billion the year before, and $5.7 billion the year before that. In October, United Technologies even expanded its stock buyback program to $12 billion. Spending the company’s money to purchase its own stock elevates the value of its share prices. United Technologies was so flush with cash that it could burn money to boost returns for its investors.

Surely this largesse would trickle down to its rank-and-file employees, right?

Not exactly.

On Wednesday, Carrier, the air conditioner manufacturing wing of United Technologies, told workers at its Indianapolis plant that it would be outsourcing their jobs to Monterrey, Mexico.

“Throughout the transition, we must remain committed to manufacturing the same high-quality products,” an executive can be heard insisting in a video of the announcement.

“Yeah, fuck you!” a member of the crowd responds.

“Please quiet down,” the official says. “This was an extremely difficult decision.”

“Was it?!”

“I want to be clear. This is strictly a business decision,” the corporate spokesman says on the video.

The only thing Americans can do is vote in unprecedented strength and elect Bernie Sanders to the presidency. It might be our last chance to save ourselves.

More info:
Watch Corporate America Turn A Room Full Of Workers Into Bernie Sanders And Donald Trump Supporters

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Gotta Get Me Some Of Those Baby Parts!

163217 It’s the next big thing in liberal circles across the nation. You don’t need to die now. You can get some of your youth back, but don’t delay; baby organs are gonna be sailing out the door when word gets out. Don’t worry though, when young girls find out they can make an extra 75 bucks by almost giving birth, the industry’s going to just explode!

OK, I’m sorry. There’s nothing funny about Republicans making political hay out of a very serious and private issue, but they are intent on winning in 2016, and getting rid of “Planned Parenthood” at the same time. If that means bringing bloody baby livers and tissue into the public discussion, well, that’s where we’ll have to go.

Speaker John Boehner said Planned Parenthood makes him feel like throwing up. Mike Huckabee thinks he’ll be able to use this to show up on polling results.

For some reason, this morning I turned on the Sunday morning political shows, for the first time in many years. I was shocked to see George Stephanopolis covering this story. It’s impossible not to make comparisons to the phony ACORN scandal which brought down that organization, but hey, if it worked once… Besides, if the Democrats couldn’t see fit to stand up against that scam, this one should be a breeze! We’re talking fetus’s here!

This is just more, very well financed, Breitbart style entrapment infotainment which will get a lot of people killed, allow republicans to call democrats, “baby killers” and participate in more pro-life pagentry then ever before. There couldn’t be a more cynical political strategy then this. ABC first covered this story in 2000 on 20/20, but I guess the trouble it could cause for Democrats in 2016 was just too salacious.

Sorry Boehner and Huckabee, but I think I’m the one who’s going to puke.

So far the Democratic candidates don’t seem to be taking the bait and I’m proud of them. I’m also proud of how Cecile Richards of Planned Parenthood handled Stephanopolis’s phony concern beautifully. All other Democrats should have her strength:


ABC US News | World News

Please don’t cave in this time Democrats. We’re watching you. All those little children got slaugtered in the Newtown tragedy and nothing happened. You don’t have any excuse to give the Republicans a victory here. Get angry, save lives, prevent abortions and protect women’s – really everybody’s – rights.

P.S. I feel bad about using the photo shoot from the only bad idea the Bealtles ever had, but it fit my post. :) They were trying to protest the Vietnam war and save babies. It’s a good thing somebody came to their senses and pulled that album cover.

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Because a Policy is Wildly Unpopular in America Doesn’t Mean It Won’t Happen

Comcast

Consumerist’s Worst Company In America for 2014 (you guessed Comcast, didn’t you? – right on!) is trying to get bigger and more powerful. Where is democracy when we need it?

Comcast is trying to merge with another of America’s largest cable and Internet providers, Time Warner Cable. The proposed Comcast-TWC merger would create a juggernaut of a company that almost no one would be able to compete with. The merged company — which will be named Comcast — would control more than two-thirds of all cable television subscriptions in the country, and some 40% of the home Internet market.

Alternet:

Survey after survey shows that Americans wholeheartedly oppose the proposed merger. The latest survey, by Consumer Reports, finds nearly three-quarters of Americans believe it will result in higher cable and Internet rates, while two-thirds say it will likely have a negative impact on customer service and that Comcast would have no incentive to improve.

Let’s recall that Comcast is an enemy of net neutrality, which they underscored by the Netflix shakedown last summer. They are notorious for throttling your Internet connection. Comcast is currently trying to turn user home routers into publicly-accessible hotspots without telling customers. Their prices are too high (but it’s a local monopoly controlled by nobody). And of course their customer “service” is totally evil.

Will the Federal Communications Commission and the Department of Justice roll over and play dead, letting this merger go through? Stay tuned.

More info:
You Thought Comcast Couldn’t Get Any Worse? Think Again
When Your Cable Company Attacks: Why Comcast Abuses Its Customers
Insults directed at consumers are proof that Comcast is rotten to the core.

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Robert Reich: Low Unemployment Won’t Lead to Higher Pay

Former Labor Secretary Robert Reich:Low wages

Jobs are coming back, but pay isn’t. The median wage is still below where it was before the Great Recession. Last month, average pay actually fell.

…Insecure workers don’t demand higher wages when unemployment drops. They’re grateful simply to have a job.

To make things worse, a majority of Americans have no savings to draw upon if they lose their job. Two-thirds of all workers are living paycheck to paycheck. They won’t risk losing a job by asking for higher pay.

Insecurity is now baked into every aspect of the employment relationship. Workers can be fired for any reason, or no reason. And benefits are disappearing.

…Since 1979, the nation’s productivity has risen 65 percent, but workers’ median compensation has increased by just 8 percent. Almost all the gains from growth have gone to the top.

This is not a winning corporate strategy over the long term because higher returns ultimately depend on more sales, which requires a large and growing middle class with enough purchasing power to buy what can be produced.

But from the limited viewpoint of the CEO of a single large firm, or of an investment banker or fund manager on Wall Street, it’s worked out just fine – so far.

22 Comments

Retailers Carve Up Your Thanksgiving Dinner.

I rarely watch ABC, CBS, or NBC these days. They are much too fast paced to let you even think, especially the commercials; maybe that’s the idea. I had NBC on last night and the commercials were even more dizzying then usual because of what we now call “black friday”. I don’t shop much and would’t get caught dead shopping on black friday so I hadn’t noticed there is a race on for retailers to open, not just on Thanksgiving day, but earlier then the others on the next to last holiday that remains in “the greatest country on the face of the earth”. Hell, most of us even used to get Sundays off every week. You know; day of rest.

If you want the list of holidays that virtually all Americans used to look forward to, go to the entrance of Costco and you can see for yourself. There are about eight of them, and workers at Costco still get them. It seems there are still corporations that respect the right of their workers to enjoy the time-honored tradition of sitting down with their family, just once a year to enjoy a meal with the whole family. Here’s a good article about corporations which know this is wrong and it also has a couple of hilarious quotes at the bottom from PR guys that support opening on Thursday.

I always considered football to be a terrible distraction on that day, but when I think of some poor mother who has to get up and fix the largest meal of the year and then hussle out the door to get to the busiest day of the year at her thankless job, IT MAKES ME SICK!

I guess it wasn’t a hard decision for the retail greed-heads since most grocery stores have been open on Thanksgiving for something like 40 years. The frog boils slowly.

Jim Hightower agrees with me, so I know I’m on the right track.

I found this chart that will help you to remember where to shop and where NEVER to shop:

6 Comments

The War Power, The Sergeant, the Senator: Treason or Heroism

The Sergeant who some years ago left his post in that unnecessary and unwinnable war in
Afghanistan is either a hero, a traitor, or just a terribly young man in the wrong war at the wrong time. He spent terrible years of torture and probably said things he didn’t really mean.

Some years ago in Vietnam, Senator McCain was shot down over Vietnam, another unconstitutional war, and equally unwinnable war, confessed repeatedly to things he later recanted, once safely in the United States, and is, quite rightly regarded, despite his confessions to American war crimes, a hero. The two cases are not quite completely on all fours, as we say in the law. But the similarity is sufficient to compare with each other and with the undergirding of law.

Presidents, from George Washington to Barack Obama, who are visited by war, either their own or, like Obama, inherited from another (in Obama’s case two other) fools who preceded them, have always had this power. While not yet president, and without this act may well not have become president, Ronald Reagan communicated with Iran, telling them, in effect, just to refuse to deal with Carter on releasing our citizens from the U. S. Embassy in Iran, and await his presidency. Their deal (which killed Jimmie Carter’s hope for a second term and by the way was treason, meriting a firing squad.)

The 30, 60, 90 day notification of Congress is also unconstitutional, but not for the reasons the Republicans and Democrats alike, trumpet. Saint Paul, as I recall, said “this trumpet has an uncertain sound.” And I know he said that some leaders have “zeal without knowledge.” This is Republican and Democratic leaders on steroids, just like my former wife.

The reason the War Powers Act is unconstitutional is not what is now said by either Republicans or Democrats, as I told Joe Biden when he was both Minority Senior member of the Foreign Relations Committee of the Senate and when he was chair. I testified before his committee a few times, and he called me at the law school sometimes to chat about this. The reason is simple. Due to both a few but very senior Democrats and almost all Republicans, Congress forced the Demo’s to give the president 30, 60, or 90 days to play with Congress’ army while he picked his nose. War has not been officially declared since FDR did it in WW2. George Bush (the first) and Colin Powell, in my opinion, got it right, constitutionally, by voting 50-50 in the Senate, and then the Dark Lord, Vice President Cheney, broke the tie and we went to war in Iraq the right way by law; and they had the smarts to stop when their limited mission was accomplished. And until this time, the President, as Commander in Chief, has no constitutional power to use the United States armed forces, save self-defense.

In the Framers’ mind that means only when the United States of America, not our allies, are attacked. For Utahns, the reason J. Reuben Clark, my hero and a great patriot, a rock-ribbed Republican who served under many Republican presidents, served variously as chief legal adviser to the Department of State (then, as an deputy Attorney General on loan from Justice to State,,,,,,now called Legal Adviser to the State Department; and Vice Secretary of State, and Ambassador to Mexico; and advised many presidents between world wars one and two, on all arms control treaties between those to dreadful wars) opposed NATO was because it delegated the war power to a generation not yet born and for the defense of people, and nations, not yet born. Neither the United Nations (Korean War) nor NATO (Ukraine?) can declare war for the United States of America. This is the statement of law, the War Clause, that makes this beyond debate. Remember, that it is also the sole right of Congress: not the President of the United States, nor NATO, nor the United Nations, that decides what constitutes International law, as well. So, both Constitutional Law and International Law, save an attack on the United States, inform us that Congress, not the president or these international bodies, who determines for war or peace.

So screw the people and the Congress and president now living. When the president, any president, has this army to use, that army will never return to Congress’ care. This is unconstitutional because it is an illegal attempt to delegate to the President a plenary power, given exclusively, textually, to the Congress. Like the power over interstate commerce (the road by which most civil rights legislation is constitutional), along with the equal protection and due process of law clauses of the 5th and 14th amendments. It’s as if Congress were to say to Obama, “Say, friend, we’re so damned tired of life in Washington, despite the cherry blossoms, we will do what the Supreme Court does, and reconvene when good weather returns. We’re going to go to Balboa Island, California, where it’s nice and sunny, in ocean or on the beach, and pick our nose and scratch our butts. And better yet, we have one in eight chances not to pick both with the same finger. Even though we’ve proven, time out of mind, that we in Congress cannot chew gum and pick our nose, simultaneously (a great blessing). So, pres., you now have the taxing and the spending power, and we’ll sweeten the loaf by throwing into the pot, since you do have to stick around in this shitty weather, and give you the power also to fund and provide for the Army, Air Force, Coast Guard, and Navy. And don’t sweat it about financing things by the provision in the Constitution that spending bills begin in the House. Since you already have the taxing and spending power, do all this in the White House. P.S. please instruct the Treasury Department to deliver our checks, our salaries, and all the REALLY big bucks from the armaments industry and all those other lobbyists. We really have earned this right by selling our souls to the devil. Have a good life.

I say that both Senator and Soldier are bona fide heroes. Ed Firmage xoxox

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Almost 40% of Our 401(k)s Lost in Fees

Yachts

h/t Paul Buchheit

Based on the 6% historical stock market return, an individual investing $1,000 a year for 30 years in a non-fee fund and then holding the accumulated sum for another 20 years would end up with $269,000. Imposing the industry average 1.3% fee would reduce the final total to $165,000, a 39% reduction.

In other words, almost $2 of every $5 in potential 401(k) earnings is lost because of bank fees.

The importance of preserving Social Security becomes even more apparent in light of this 401(k) exploitation. Since 1983, the number of private sector workers depending on a 401(k) instead of a company pension has increased from 12 percent to 68 percent.

It’s an old joke on Wall Street.

An out-of-town guest was given a tour in New York. The guide pointed out the beautiful yachts in the harbor and said “Look, those are the bankers’ and brokers’ yachts.” The guest asked “Where are the customers’ yachts?”

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Pope Francis: Don’t Believe ‘Trickle-Down Theories’

Pope Francis

h/t DSWright on Firedoglake

The most inspiring Pontiff since John Paul II has done it again. Pope Francis has issued a rigorous and comprehensive denunciation of trickle-down economics, the long-discredited theory that the best way to aid poor people is through policies that help the rich get richer.

Called his Apostolic Exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium (The Joy of the Gospel) makes clear that Pope Francis regards modern capitalism and the political movement promoting it to be antithetical to the teachings of Jesus.

Among other things, Pope Francis wrote (emphasis added):

54. In this context, some people continue to defend trickle-down theories which assume that economic growth, encouraged by a free market, will inevitably succeed in bringing about greater justice and inclusiveness in the world. This opinion, which has never been confirmed by the facts, expresses a crude and naïve trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power and in the sacralized workings of the prevailing economic system. Meanwhile, the excluded are still waiting. To sustain a lifestyle which excludes others, or to sustain enthusiasm for that selfish ideal, a globalization of indifference has developed. Almost without being aware of it, we end up being incapable of feeling compassion at the outcry of the poor, weeping for other people’s pain, and feeling a need to help them, as though all this were someone else’s responsibility and not our own. The culture of prosperity deadens us; we are thrilled if the market offers us something new to purchase; and in the meantime all those lives stunted for lack of opportunity seem a mere spectacle; they fail to move us.

Apostolic exhortations like Evangelii Gaudium are basically calls to carry out existing Church teachings, so in many ways there’s nothing unique about the sentiments expressed in the document. Roman Catholics grew up on stories like Jesus’ admonition that “…it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God” (Matthew 19:23-26).

UPDATE: How To Use The Pope’s Agenda To Make The World More Equal

How do we ensure that the Pope’s shift in focus to inequality and the well-being of the poor becomes a focus of actual politics and not just a bunch of nice words that make us feel like our philosophical principles got a nod from the Big Guy?

UPDATE: Obama cites Pope Francis to attack income inequality and call for minimum wage increase

“The combined trends of increasing inequality and decreasing mobility pose a fundamental threat to the American dream,” Obama said.

83 Comments

KlearGear Meet Streisand. Company Feeling Heat For Overreacting to Bad Review

John and Jen Palmer of Layton had a bad experience with an online retailer named KlearGear.com. His wife wrote a negative review on the consumer review site ripoffreport.com. KlearGear sent them a letter stating their Terms Of Service has a non-disparaging clause that forbids any customer from writing a negative review and informed the couple they owed the company $3500 and sent credit reporting agencies a report of non-payment.

Non-Disparagement Clause

In an effort to ensure fair and honest public feedback, and to prevent the publishing of libelous content in any form, your acceptance of this sales contract prohibits you from taking any action that negatively impacts KlearGear.com, its reputation, products, services, management or employees.

Should you violate this clause, as determined by KlearGear.com in its sole discretion, you will be provided a seventy-two (72) hour opportunity to retract the content in question. If the content remains, in whole or in part, you will immediately be billed $3,500.00 USD for legal fees and court costs until such complete costs are determined in litigation. Should these charges remain unpaid for 30 calendar days from the billing date, your unpaid invoice will be forwarded to our third party collection firm and will be reported to consumer credit reporting agencies until paid.

I talked to John Palmer on Facebook and he said I could share some of his remarks and clarify one thing that has been in the news. It has been reported in the news that rippoffReport.com offered to remove the negative review for a $2000. He said that ripoffreport.com does not remove reports for money but will offer mediation services for a fee and will redact any libel or untrue statements, but will never pull a report down.

The Palmers could not afford a lawyer to fight back so they used the best weapon in any arsenal and that is the court of public opinion. They contacted Get Gepheart of KUTV to publicize the story. The story has now gone viral around the country and KlearGear.com has circled the wagons and are clearly in serious trouble. The publicity has brought the story to the attention of  pro-bono lawyers that are now defending them.

Mr. Palmer says he has been following the story on the Internet and has watched it quickly evolve into a national story.  The story has exploded on social media and is being widely reported in local and national news outlets  including tech blogs, Techdirt and Techcrunch. They are now getting request for media interviews including the Today Show which they are in discussions with their producers.

KlearGear.com faces the full wrath of the Streisand Effect which is a phenomenon that occurs when an attempt is made to censor or silence causes wide-spread attention that normally few would have  been exposed to  otherwise. This negative report would have had negligible impact on KlearGear’s bottom line but by inserting such outrageous language in their Terms of Service, demanding payment, and damaging the Palmer’s credit the company has shown themselves to be nothing but corporate bullies and validates any negative review given to it.

The Palmers hope by shining light on this fiasco that other companies will think twice about inserting clauses in their Terms of Service that violate free speech by attempting to silence critics and try to mask service failures.

We have seen far too many examples of companies using bully tactics to silence people.  KlearGear.com would be smart to pull out their checkbook and write the Palmer’s a big check and make a pubic apology and never engage in things like this again. It may be too late for them but hopefully other companies will see the folly in KlearGear’s actions and this trend of corporate bullying will come to an end.

Read: http://kutv.com/news/top-stories/stories/vid_8079.shtml
http://techcrunch.com/2013/11/18/kleargear-goes-into-social-media-lockdown-after-it-charges-customers-for-posting-bad-reviews/

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