Monday, December 8, 2008

Good Morning from Northwestern Indiana.  I mention my location to explain why the stories about Republic Windows and Doors interests me.  I live within shouting distance of Chicago.  For those who don't know, Republic shut down Friday without notice after Bank of America cancelled its line of credit.  The workers are now occupying the site demanding the severance and vacation pay they say the company owes them and has failed to pay them.  I start with this because it is a good segue into the first item that caught my attention as I went through MSNBC to get to my e-mail.  The title proclaims that  the 'Work and Family Agenda Faces Tough Climate.'  The whole contention is that tough economic times are not the times to increase the 'cost of work.'  Cost to whom? I have to ask.  And, I also have to ask, how many other Republics are out there?  Of course, recently bailed out Bank of America claims no responsibility at all.  I think the signs many of the protesting workers had it about right: 'They got bailed out, we got sold out.'  Did any one else catch the protesters at the Senate hearings last week.  Their slogan, as they were ushered out of the chamber echoed those Republic workers signs.  Once again the government's focus is on the big companies and industries on the tenuous theory that the benefits of their bailouts will trickle down to the rest of us.  I think I have mentioned before what I think of what trickles down.

And here are some interesting little factoids from the article"

  • The U.S. is one of only four countries out of 173 in a recent survey that doesn’t guarantee some form of paid maternity leave; the others are Liberia, Swaziland and Papua New Guinea.
  • Sixty-six countries, but not the U.S., ensure that fathers either receive paid paternity leave or have a right to paid parental leave.
  • At least 145 countries provide paid sick days, with 136 providing a week or more annually, while the U.S. has no federal law providing for paid sick days.
What is interesting you might ask?  Well, the argument opponents of these various proposals always put forward is how implementing these programs would put U.S. companies at a disadvantage compared to foreign companies.  How so?  I would say that the U.S., Liberia, Swaziland, and Papua New Guinea should be raising holy hell with the World Trade Commission.  By the way don't you just love the company we keep?  

I think Ronni at Time Goes By reflects my thinking on much of what passes as intelligent economic and social policy discourse.  What in the hell can those supposedly intelligent people have been thinking?  For the most part, I think these experts have been arguing from a set of assumptions they have never subjected to careful scrutiny.  They are like Alan Greenspan who, according to his own testimony, thought that the self-interests of individual bankers would safeguard a system without regulation.  He had an almost religious faith in rational self-interest and found that it simply did not work the way he thought it must.  Perhaps he should have talked things over with savvy religious experts who knew something about human nature.

Good Morning, again.  I started this on Monday, Dec. 8.  It is now Tuesday.

It is raining now and we expect snow by this afternoon.  What a nasty day.  We hope to get our errands done before then.  I think I will take the library books back and try to stay out of the stacks.  I am considering hibernating till spring.

It is interesting that the news media has only mentioned popular sentiment concerning the auto bail-out in passing.  I can figure out why. had a poll last week and published the results today.  66% of their readers opposed the bail-out outright.  Another 31% approved but only with conditions attached.  That result parallels the snippet I heard on the news a couple of nights ago--60%+ opposed the loans in that poll.  And we thought legislators represented us.  How foolish!!

Recently I have noticed a number of articles claiming that several countries, mostly in Asia, are pushing for greater self-sufficiency in staple grain production.  This one on the Huffington Post deals with Japan.  Joseph Coleman lists a number of factors that concern Japanese officials and that have concerned me as well.  I think I have said elsewhere that the longer the supply line the less control the consumer has over the content and quality of the goods he buys.  According to Coleman Japanese consumers get less than 40% of their nutrition from homegrown foods.  I wonder what the percentage would be for U.S. consumers?  And we shouldn't be lulled into complacency by thinking of California or Florida or Texas as local if we are in Indiana or New York or Michigan.  After all only one of the food scares (affecting humans, that is) involved foods from beyond the borders of the U.S. over the last few of years.  At least among those that made the news media.  Actually two. I remembered the Mexican Peppers but forgot the Canadian beef.

I think I will end here.  The errands won't get them selves done.  

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