The National Labor Relations Board

President Barack Obama,

Congratulations on achieving the first National Labor Relations Board where all five members have been duly confirmed since August 2003. I knew that President George W Bush had connived to prevent the board from functioning all during his time in office – but I did not know until recently that the filibuster rule in the Senate was not only blocking judicial appointments but other executive department appointments as well. Who would have thought that the Republicans in the Senate could nullify the National Labor Relations Act for ten long years?

Ten years is a long time for workers to be without full enforcement of fair labor laws.

How many union organizing drives have been illegally crushed in the last ten years?

How much has our economy been hurt by falling wages for workers?

Unemployment would be far lower, if workers had received their just portion of the productivity gains contributed to the economy over the past 30 years; instead of their just portion being funneled into the pockets of the 1%. At the same time as the 1% have pocketed these profits, they and the corporations they own, have paid an ever lower percentage in taxes which has caused increased government deficits. So an ever greater share of the tax burden has fallen on the same workers whose wages have been stagnant; and with increased deficits (but mostly from the minds of the lobbyists of the 1%), has come the idea that social security, public assistance, and government pensions should be reduced.

The whole deficit problem is then a conspiracy of the 1% to keep the 99% in their place. And the poor economy or scarcity of jobs is their weapon of choice; we submit, because we fear to lose what little we have.

It is a shame. We are all poorer because we fight over a smaller pie. If the 1%, who already have more than enough wealth to live a very comfortable life: paid a greater percentage in personal and corporate taxes and paid directly or indirectly a living wage to their employees (the 99% or all the rest of us). We all, through our spending of this ‘extra’ money would in turn drive more employment and a better life for all.

You could focus media attention on these issues.

What Republican member of Congress or Senator could ever be re-elected if their constituents were informed how their leaders have conspired with the 1% to steal from them over the years. You could make the Republican party irrelevant with the 2014 elections – all you have to do is get the truth before the public.

A Living Wage

William S. Simon
Executive Vice President, Chief Executive Officer of Walmart U.S. and President of Walmart U.S.
702 SW 8th Street
Bentonville, Arkansas 72716-8611

William S. Simon,

You must feel like you’ve got a big target painted on your back after being singled out yet again, this time by Robert Reich, about how little you pay your one million plus employees. Of course there is that study, Hidden Cost of Wal-Mart Jobs; which quantified exactly what your profits cost local states and communities in increased public services, food stamps, etc. which your employees need to survive. A man in your position needs a thick skin when profiting from the desperation of his employees.

Robert Reich believes that you are a lost cause. That you are a cold and heartless executive with no compassion or empathy for your employees and fellow men and women. Admittedly, all available evidence argues his point for him. The study mentioned above was published in 2004. You don’t seem to have announced any increases in wages you pay your employees. You continue to crush any attempts of your employees to unionize so that they would be able to collectively bargain with you. Your management bio page itself is a tribute to the marketing propaganda of Wal-Mart: “lowering costs in order to offer customers lower prices”. Robert Reich believes that the only way you will pay your employees better wages is a boycott of Wal-Mart: to force you for economic reasons to do so.

I have previously written to Jeff Stratton the President of McDonald’s USA, asking him to institute a multiplier of CEO/top management pay to lowest paid employee. In this way, every time the people at the top get a pay increase – everyone in the company – especially at the bottom of the wage scale would share in this increase.

I ask you, to do the same.

Please read the Robert Reich blog posting I reference above. You are in a position to really change the economy for the better. If you and Jeff Stratton increased wages at the lowest end of the pay scale – just think of the boost to the economy. Both your companies would be far better off (where do your employees shop after all); and your employees too. The best use of much of your profits would be a re-investment in the United States as a whole. And if you act now – our economy would receive this boost, via your employees – just in time for Christmas. Who says that you cannot buy good will?

By our actions we make the world what it is.

Please do your part to make our world a better place.

Veterans Day

President Barack Obama,

As a veteran of the United States Navy, I’ve always been rather embarrassed by the tributes, etc. which are generally offered to ‘honor’ us. Whenever anyone asks me what I did in the Navy I generally reply (as any liberal, wisecracking, former enlisted man should) that my service was during the Reagan administration; so I was keeping the world safe from Democracy.

What I actually did in the Navy was to maintain the electronics of the four E2-C HawkEye aircraft in my squadron – Carrier Air Early Warning 117 (VAW-117). I was just a very small cog in the most complex weapons system (the carrier task force) that has ever been imagined or organized in the history of the world. Far from my service being a sacrifice: it was a great deal of fun. I traveled to many countries around the Pacific. I had interesting electronic problems to trouble-shoot and repair. I gained priceless experience in systems design and maintenance which were useful to me later in earning my Engineering degree and in my career in Information Technology. And the entire time, I was paid (although not terribly well) to do it.

I have too slowly come to realize just how much truth was in my wisecrack about my service, as the United States has fallen under our self-imposed shadow in the war on Terrorism.

Under the administrations of both President George W Bush and yourself, the United States has abandoned even the pretense of virtuous military action in the world. We have asked our military and Intelligence services to keep us safe at any cost: abandoning all standards of civilized behavior.

We are now the killers of the innocent.

We imprison and torture those we believe may threaten us in any way.

We self-righteously lecture the rest of the world about ‘International Law’, while observing none of these same rules of behavior ourselves. The only true lesson from our behavior now being our own hypocrisy.

The 11th Day of the 11th Month was supposed to represent the hope of the end of war. Please do something, anything; to stop our endless war and reduce the further infamy of our country.

Please stop the murders of our fellow men and women overseas.

Please pardon and release all those imprisoned at the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base and elsewhere.

Please start a truth and reconciliation commission to lay bare the crimes of our country. Only the sunlight of public disclosure can dispel the darkness we’ve been living under for the past 12 years.

FISA Improvements? Act

Senator Dianne Feinstein,

Are you just a dupe of the NSA or are you complicit in allowing the NSA to gather as much information about us as the agency has the digital storage space to save?

Your FISA Improvements Act seems to allow the collection of meta-data which hitherto has not been precisely (open to interpretation) legal. In effect, legalizing after the fact the collection of meta-data.

This legislation is not an improvement. This legislation is not reform. This legislation is a gift to your buddies at the NSA.

What I’m really curious about, is what you could possibly get out of this. If you are the dupe; you are so frightened of the terrorists out there, that you want to give carte blanche to the Intelligence services – the same Intelligence services to which you are supposed to be providing oversight. If you are the coldly calculating enabler of the Intelligence services, then maybe you are also afraid. Afraid of what the American people are going to do when they finally realize how badly they’ve been screwed by our leaders, who beholden to the 1%; rig the system against the 99%.

Please think about what you are doing. I believe it would be far better for the United States if the NSA were completely dismantled. This pernicious capability we have created for collecting and processing information is not going to make the United States safer, and it already is being used against the citizens of the United States as well as everyone else (innocent or not) in the world. How long will it be before we have a spymaster willing to manipulate the United States government behind the scenes because he/she knows everyone’s secrets and is willing to use this leverage. The path you have us on will ultimately result in the Intelligence services running the government – not the other way around.

I am copying Senator Dick Durbin, and Representative Jan Schakowsky on this letter and am asking them to vote against this legislation or the House version if it comes up for a vote. And further, that they should support the USA Freedom Act – Introduced by Representative Jim Sensenbrenner and Senator Patrick Leahy.