We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
Our Recent Essays Behind the Front Page
Tuesday, January 19. 2016
Men at work: Building The Second Ave Subway
Me neither. His music just did not click for me.
Your Burger Is Killing the Planet
A Rigged Game - In California, pension reform is a noble—if often losing—cause.
Government unions own the Blue States. FDR warned about that, the public servants becoming the masters.
Fallout from DC’s minimum wage law
Portland Community College to devote an entire month to 'whiteness'-shaming
The biggest story in America today is the roaring return of Andrew Jackson’s spirit into the political debate.
Linda Tripp: ‘Bill Had Affairs with Thousands of Women’
"Affairs"? Just another guy with no conscience
The Four Point Platform for Regaining the American Presidency and Making America Great Again
"as observers have noted, Hillary Clinton has never, not once, won a competitive race. Her career is an inside job through and through...
German Town Has to Cancel Carnival Due to Muslim “Refugees”
German Town Has to Cancel Carnival Due to Muslim “Refugees” - See more at: http://moonbattery.com/?p=67721#sthash.5FqLyh84.dpuf
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I'm a big fan of Bowie, although not everything. Very sad to read of his passing.
Bowie, Lemmy, Natalie Cole, and now Glenn Frey. Liked them all - guess I have broad tastes.
His music never impressed me but his role as the spaceman in "The Man Who Fell to Earth" was spectacular!
This company is legendary for Germans (and other Europeans) who travel to the US. Many know that this is the best place to go for cheap (inexpensive) items from food to beach towels.
While we don't have a minimum wage in Germany, we do have unions that work in cooperation with management in a way the benefits everyone. Unlike US unions, ours are not adversarial.
The other side of that point is the fact everyone who works in our restaurants and shops (waiters, hair cutters, grocery store clerks, etc.) must go through a 3-year apprenticeship program. German employees really know the business in which they work and they often spend their entire career working for the same company.
Wal-Mart actually failed in Germany back in 2006. Partly due to its complete misunderstanding of German work culture which doesn't include morning pep rallies and cheers, people bagging our groceries for us or having greeters at the entrance.
"Walmart, the nation's largest private employer, is notorious for paying poverty wages and coaching employees to take advantage of social programs. In many states, Walmart employees are the largest group of Medicaid recipients." 
This attitude simply isn't possible in Germany. Instead of blaming a minimum wage, perhaps it would be a good idea of your companies just treated their employees well instead of like a disposable resource.
I think the American view is that these are unskilled, entry-level jobs. Not lifetime jobs. Not meant to support a family alone.
@ BD -
Maybe if US companies made them into full time, full benefit jobs, instead of thinking about the share-holders all the time, it might work out better for everyone.
The idea that WalMart would encourage employees to use social benefits is unthinkable and simply irresponsible to their employees and the towns and cities where they operate. This is about as bad a corporate greed gets and is reminiscent of Pullman back in the 1800's who forced his workers to live in a corporate town and over charged them for food and rent.
I'm not saying the German model is perfect, but it works for us quite well. It's one reason VW is paying in excess of €60/hour to assembly line workers and we can still expand into the US. While I don't have the numbers, I suspect our local German VW factory workers are doing much better than those in Chattanooga.
Not sure VW is the company you want to use as an ethics model.
Karl Horst (Germany): The idea that WalMart would encourage employees to use social benefits is unthinkable
Essentially, the U.S. public is subsidizing WalMart. American conservatives don't like welfare — unless it benefits billionaires.
Another one of your potent zingers...which turns out to be a logical fallacy (Straw man argument in this case).
Fallacy, pretty much sums up all your posts.
No, what it means it that the jobs being created in this economy don't generate enough productivity to pay a living wage.
Karl you have it backwards. Instead of saying "The idea that WalMart would encourage employees to use social benefits is unthinkable and simply irresponsible to their employees and the towns and cities where they operate."
What you should have said is: The idea that anyone working a full time minimum wage job should be eligible for social benefits is unthinkable and simply irresponsible to the tax payers. Walmart pays a living wage, an adequate wage but not a luxurious wage. My advice to anyone earning a Walmart wage is to go to school, get a second job, spend less save more, learn a trade, start a home business, use your head to get ahead.
To lay blame on Walmart is foolish and makes no sense at all. Walmart doesn't owe anyone a living or a new car every two years. Walmart's responsibility is to their customers and they are the most successful company in the world in taking care of their customers. Walmart has figured it out If our government was half a successful as Walmart we would twice as successful as we are now. Instead of telling Walmart to change to fit someone else's idea of success others should be changing their management style to emulate Walmart.
America's biggest problems revolve around welfare and the drug and baby making culture it spawns. When this country fails to be the best it can be it is because of the HUGE albatross of drugs and welfare hanging around our neck. Both of these problems are a direct and inevitable result of progressive policies. Advocating more and greater kiberal and progressive policies will only make it worse.
GoneWithTheWind: The idea that anyone working a full time minimum wage job should be eligible for social benefits is unthinkable and simply irresponsible to the tax payers.
There's a problem with that position, though. If a person shows up at a hospital, the U.S. has decided that the hospital must provide emergency care regardless of ability to pay. The Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act was signed by that noted liberal conservative, Ronald Reagan. The problem is that this puts an inordinate financial burden on hospitals in poor neighborhoods. Also, hospitals find that by providing some primary care, they can avoid many emergency visits.
Unless you are willing to lock the doors of your hospitals and let people die or give birth on the street outside, you have an unsustainable system.
Modern medicine just doesn't lend itself to market forces. The age of trading a chicken for a doctor's visit is long gone. Studies have shown that even when people have to pay a percentage, they do not readily respond to market conditions — even if they are professionals in the medical profession.
That is a red herring. It has nothing what so ever to do with Walmart or wages. But I will address it:
I am OK with the concept of any citizen being able to walk into a hospital and get care. It is a humane and correct policy and good for public health as well. Once the government commits to this they should fully fund it. They should not force the hospital to pay the costs. The hospital should fully vet the person (and they do) to make sure there isn't an insurance that would pay and they should send all that information to the government in order to be paid. The governments responsibility then is to make sure there is no fraud or abuse. In other words they should carefully and properly manage the people's money.
GoneWithTheWind: Once the government commits to this they should fully fund it.
And once you go down that road, there's no turning back. Hospitals find that it is often cheaper to provide basic medical care than to wait until a condition requires emergency treatment.
Not a fan of David Bowie's music
While musical taste may be subjective, musical influence is not.
@ NJSoldier - I'm not talking about ethics for VW, that's a different issue that has to do with falsifying software and nothing to do with how you treat your employees...but I agree, ethically that was pretty stupid move on their part.
I'm talking about corporations treating people like human beings. And what's wrong with people working as cashiers as a career? Why would that be considered an entry level job that should lead to something else? Why can't someone work as a cashier for their entire life? People used to do just that.
Are you saying people who work at Starbucks shouldn't expect to do that for their entire lives? And why not? What exactly is someone who only has a limited education and skills, supposed to do for work? Do we not need cashiers, shoe sales people, bakers and other low skilled workers? Some one has to do it. Why not pay them a decent wage and everyone wins.
The idea that everyone should go to (and be indebt to) a university education is absurd! Should everyone expect to be a manager, president or CEO? Someone has to dig the ditches, put up utility lines, fix broken water piles and plow snow off the roads. Why shouldn't blue collar workers be entitled to fair wages and benefits?
Being a cashier is a perfectly honest way to earn a living just as being a plumber, mechanic, engineer or doctor. I seem to recall it worked quite well for millions of people up until the last 50 years when mom and pop stores dominated your country and mine, but disappeared and became corporate giants like WalMart.
We have plenty of people here in Germany (and across Europe) who work for grocery stores, hardware stores, restaurants, bars, bakery and butcher shops, shoe stores, etc. who do that job as their career for 40-years and retire...having paid off their house along the way, and don't have any debt. And they get 6-weeks of paid holiday every year on top!!
When you pay a person a living wage from the start, and include benefits, they contribute to society for their entire life. It's a system, that up until the growth of the corporation, actually worked quite well.
German workers have a much different attitude towards their employers since both parties are looking out for each other. While VW, Krupps, Siemens and other large companies get a lot of attention, they only make up about 1% of the entire German workforce. The rest of us work for small companies with 100-employees or less and many people have fathers and sons working there.
The "hire and fire" mentality you have in the US is horrible, I saw it fist hand when working in the Bay Area. People were living pay check to paycheck, and these were well paid engineers and tech guys, who were terrified of losing their jobs.
Again, not saying the German system is the ideal model, but it's been working for us for a long time. We're actually among the few countries where people save and don't live in debt. You can check the numbers for yourself.
The German word for debt is 'schuld' which is the same word for 'guilt', which is why we have a very strong negative sense towards it. Germans are quite well known for saving around 10% of what they earn, rather than spending it on things we don't need.
You seem to be romanticizing the pre-corporate system. 80% of the time, your parents were subsistence farmers, and your sole lot in life was to be a subsistence farmer. If you did live in a town, you had an even money chance of being a day laborer, moving heavy things for a day's wage, when work was available (look up dunnikin diver for an idea of what steady unskilled labor consisted of). The remaining 10% may have gotten into the trades, if your family had connections inside one of the guilds, which meant a 6-10 year apprenticeship for which you got bed, board, and a set of tools, with perhaps a small stipend at the end in exchange for working around 65 hours per week.
It was the corporate system that allowed the accumulation of capital that led to things like universal literacy and education and the end of child labor.
There was a history article a few years ago where they found the journals of a number of british people who moved to the city for work in the early part of the industrial revolution (19th C I think). While life wasn't glamorous, it was unanimously better than the subsistence living on the farm. (Sorry I don't have link to story. Could have even been provided by Maggie's )
Same goes for the Chinese who left the rice paddies for manufacturing in factories. Some have returned to their rural homes, but w/ cash to by large houses and "retire" comfortably. (Mark J Perry has written about this often).
The agrarian life has been romanticized by Thoreau, Steinbeck, the Waltons, etc, and city life demonized by Sinclair (and Steinbeck). But the Waltons was an anecdotal case, and Sinclair and Steinbeck were outright liars.
"What exactly is someone who only has a limited education and skills, supposed to do for work?"
I would suggest something that will give them more valuable skills.
I find it interesting that Zachriel had to comment on Bowie, but given his proclivity for trolling (not to mention his connection to music), it's not all that surprising.
At any rate, I remember hearing Bowie for the first time, quite well. It was the freakiest stuff I'd ever heard. That said, I was still new to the rock scene. At that age, Elton John was still relatively strange and new to me, though my best friends had started listening to him.
I was quite young, I had older stepsisters who had introduced me to the Beach Boys, The Kinks, Van Morrison, Steve Miller, Lou Reed, Dylan, the Stones (not the Beatles, who were 'too poppy'). So I had enough exposure to popular music to be aware. Bowie was just TOO weird, a step beyond the barely tolerable Elton John.
It's not really a surprise to me how I changed my view. When I was that young, looks played as much a role in what I was willing to listen to as the sound did. Bowie and Elton John were a 'show', not just musicians. I hadn't signed on for the show yet.
I remember the first time thinking "Hey! I like this." It was 1978 and a friend of mine had a band and played "Rebel, Rebel" for the school talent show.
2 years later I was in college and had moved full on into the London Punk scene. I had been sold on 'the show' and Bowie was a critical part of that show.
Over time, as I learned more about art and music, I realized Bowie was more than just music and a 'show'. He was a mulit-talented artist. Like any artist, his art isn't going to be acceptable to all. I was able to look back and see why I didn't like him when I was younger, but was also able to determine why and realize how tastes change. As my wife said, "Ziggy Stardust was the first album I could recite all the lyrics to. I was shocked to hear it on the radio the day he died and realize I could still sing all the songs from memory." He did have an amazing influence.
One of my favorite bands, The Talking Heads, cite Bowie's work as a major influence on their development. To me, it was always obvious, they were all multi-talented artists, as well. They related to the 'show'.
Bowie, like some artists, was able to remain relevant over time by reinventing himself. Each reinvention had its level of success, though his most pervasive influence was probably earliest in his career. Most of his work later was trying to show he could master a trend, following rather than leading.
But the one thing which seems to be pretty clear is that he was a genuinely nice person. I know several people who met him, most were in situations which almost required Bowie to be on his best behavior. But there was one which occurred and could very easily have led to conflict.
A friend of mine had a band, and they would practice at a studio in Manhattan:
"I was playing drums in a weekend band almost 10 years ago. We would practice every Thursday night at a studio in Manhattan, same time every week, same studio every week. On this Thursday, I walked into the studio office, bypassing the check-in area since we always had the same studio booked, and walked into 'our' practice studio. The place was jam packed with brand new, state-of-the-art equipment. As I was drooling over the wonderful set of drums and looking forward to spending the evening on them, I noticed a few people milling about that I didn't recognize at first. It was David Bowie and his band! They were practicing for his 60th birthday show at Madison Square Garden (I learned later). I'm standing there with my mouth agape and David starts laughing and says 'hello' just as the studio manager came running in to tell me that they had moved our band into another studio this week. I apologized and David said 'no worries have a good session' still smiling."
Some stars are a bit full of themselves. Bowie always seemed rather content with his position and realized he was where he was because of his fans.
Not a fan of David Bowie's music.
Me neither, Except for Major Tom. But I'm a space geek who stood out in front of his house watching for John Glenn to fly by, so.....
Hey, I was 5 years old.
Bill: Me neither, Except for Major Tom.
Chris Hadfield's cover of Space Oddity
I'm not talking pre-industrial revolution. Even prior to WW1 and WW2 there were plenty of people running small businesses, shops, etc. Henry Ford had thousands of people working in his factories, they bought groceries from local shops run by people who worked, saved and led comfortable lives. Barbers, book stores owners, cafes and restaurants managers and waitresses.
This exact same economic model was duplicated across the US and Europe before and after WW2. More and more people were moving away from agriculture into the cities where wages and opportunities were better. But in the end, every society only needs so many people with advanced degrees. It still needs people to do the work, run the machines, repair them and keep parts going out the door.
Every society needs bus drivers, ditch diggers, people running dry cleaners and farm laborers along with all the doctors, technicians, engineers, etc. I don't understand your point that somehow people need to develop "more valuable skills" in order to advance themselves. Do you seriously believe that a hair dresser is supposed to become an engineer or a man working at an oil change garage should become a dentist? Do you value the skills of a plumber less than those of a doctor? Try finding a doctor who can repair a frozen water pipe.
And what's wrong with blue collar people doing what they enjoy, contributing to society and being paid a fair wage with benefits for what they do?
Back in the 1990's when the dot com crash occurred, what additional skills were those engineers and IT programmers suppose to develop to gain employment? Some I knew ended up working two part time jobs that had nothing to do with their degrees and experience. Their skills were only as valuable relative to the market demands for their skills.
Meanwhile the clerks at the local grocery stores were still checking out people's groceries.
Maybe it's the other way around as America continues to de-industrialize...mechanical engineers become WalMart greeters, since no one is hiring ME's these days. Detroit has certainly lead the way in that role model.
Three words: Economy of scale.
After the development of the internal combustion engine, transportation, both public and private, improved to the point where the Supermarket, shopping mall, and big box store could flourish. This was based both on the ability to move customers across town to the stores, and the ability to move goods across the world to the stores. The smaller players were unable to match the prices of the bigger retailers, as Sears Roebuck crowded out the local hardware store, K-Mart pushed out Sears, and Wal-Mart knocked them all out of the market by offering a greater selection of goods at lower prices.
Is there a cost of this? Yes. We buy our clothes off the rack instead of having them tailored. The Jacket I bought on sale at Penneys for $40 is not as good quality as a bespoke blazer would be. However, I bought it for 10% the price of what a tailor would charge.
BTW, I happened to be one of those IT people who got knocked out in the crash of 2002, and again in 2008. I still work in IT, by changing skills and adapting to changing technologies. Yes there were some dark years, but that's the cost of working in a changing field. If your ME friends are greeters at Wal-Mart, it is because they were unwilling or unable to adapt or relocate.
So nice of you to explain to all of us what a "fair wage" is.
We're all nostalgic for Mayberry, and there are big flaws w/ the big box retailers. But in the end, your little slice of heaven only lasted for a few years, and wasn't nearly as perfect as you believe it to be.
You own no moral superiority in your beliefs of what works. I've been to Germany, things are far from ideal there.
When I was an electrical contractor the customer usually asked "How much is this gonna cost me?"
That's a fair question but there is a danger. The "wannabe" cost as opposed to the actual cost.
With Hillary and Ted and Trump and the others there is a "wannabe" outcome. Ain't gonna happen.
Trump has a strong machine, Sarah Palin has chimed in but the Clinton Machine is formidable.
How do you think they overcame the scandals early on in their campaigns?
Chinagate, Whitewater, Travelgate, Vince Foster, Cattle futures, Benghazi?
The same machine that got Obama into office not once but twice will get Hillary to the finals.
Headline: Trump and Hillary ready to go at it toe to toe.
I think the tides are turning on the Clintons. The left and the MSM fully supported the Clintons and hid their crimes because of what the Clintons would do once in office. If Hillary gets knocked out of the race I think the left and the MSM will abandon them, maybe some lip service so it odesn't appear they are abandoning them but no more cover up. I think Hillary could actually go to jail over this.
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