Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year

The horror of the decade is over.
President Barack Obama has turned the ship of state.
God Bless the United States of America.
Happy New Year, everybody.
Now let's keep the momentum going.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Demintsanut

I've experienced anti-union rhetoric a couple of times this past week from people who don't understand the labor movement and don't realize that the working conditions they enjoy are a result of that movement.

Today, an article in the Washington Post reveals that the right wing Senator from South Carolina, Jim DeMint, is holding up the confirmation of the Administrator of the Transportation Security Administration. The reason? ........Senator DeMint is worried that President Obama's nominee, Erroll Southers, who was a former FBI special agent and a counterterrorism expert, might be willing to allow the TSA (Transportation Security Administration) workers to unionize.

Southers is well qualified and has support from both sides of the isle. But gosh, wouldn't it be awful if we had to provide good benefits and descent wages to baggage handlers?

At a time when our country is trying to do all it can to protect us from terrorists, these anti-union republicans and right wing union haters aren't doing us any favors.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

UNIONS 101

A Quick Study of How Unions Help Workers Win a Voice on the Job

What is a union?

A union is a group of workers who form an organization to gain:

  • Respect on the job,
  • Better wages and benefits,
  • More flexibility for work and family needs,
  • A counterbalance to the unchecked power of employers, and
  • A voice in improving the quality of their products and services.
How do people form a union?

When workers decide they want to come together to improve their jobs, they work with a union to help them form their own local chapter. Once a majority of workers shows they want a union, sometimes employers honor the workers’ choice. Often, the workers must ask the government to hold an election. If the workers win their union, they negotiate a contract with the employer that spells out each party’s rights and responsibilities in the workplace.

Does the law protect workers joining unions?

It’s supposed to—but too often it doesn’t. Under the law, employers are not allowed to discriminate against or fire workers for choosing to join a union. For example, it’s illegal for employers to threaten to shut down their businesses or to fire employees or take away benefits if workers form a union. However, employers routinely violate these laws, and the penalties are weak or nonexistent.

What kinds of workers are forming unions today?

A wider range of people than ever before, including many women and immigrants, is joining unions—doctors and nurses, poultry workers and graduate employees, home health care aides and wireless communications workers, auto parts workers and engineers, to name a few.

How do unions help working families today?

Through unions, workers win better wages, benefits and a voice on the job—and good union jobs mean stronger communities. Union workers earn 30 percent more than nonunion workers and are more likely to receive health care and pension benefits than those without a union. In 2007, median weekly earnings for full-time union wage and salary workers were $863, compared with $663 for their nonunion counterparts. Unions lead the fight today for better lives for working people, such as through expanded family and medical leave, improved safety and health protections and fair-trade agreements that lift the standard of living for workers all over the world.

What have unions accomplished for all workers?

Unions have made life better for all working Americans by helping to pass laws ending child labor, establishing the eight-hour day, protecting workers’ safety and health and helping create Social Security, unemployment insurance and the minimum wage, for example. Unions are continuing the fight today to improve life for all working families in America.

What challenges do workers face today when they want to form unions?

Today, thousands of workers want to join unions. The wisest employers understand that when workers form unions, their companies also benefit. But most employers fight workers’ efforts to come together by intimidating, harassing and threatening them. In response, workers are reaching out to their communities for help exercising their freedom to improve their lives.

Source: AFL-CIO

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Thank You Senator Bayh

This morning, the United States Senate passed healthcare reform. All of the Democrats voted for the bill, and because it will help to prevent human suffering, misery, pain and death, naturally, all of the Republicans voted against the bill.


All of our hard work on behalf of those who need affordable health insurance has paid off. Our country finally is doing the right thing for Americans suffering under the stranglehold that insurance companies have had on all of us.


This bill will go a long way to control costs, and prevent people having to file for bankruptcy due to the cost of health care. It will help to prevent fraud and abuse, and will allow for coverage for 31 million more Americans.


The Democrats never gave up even with all of the lies and distortions, delay and fear mongering from the right wing.


Finally, Americans will have affordable health care without having to go to a hospital emergency room, and will be able to have preventative care.


The task is not complete though. Now, the House version will have to be reconciled with the Senate version. Then, the House will vote on that result, and then the Senate will vote on the result.


No more denying people with preexisting conditions.


The vote was 60 votes in favor of the bill and 39 votes against it.


Hopefully, the bill will be changed even more for the better as it goes through the process.


Thanks to all who helped in any way to do the right thing.


Senator Evan Bayh from Indiana deserves our thanks.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Thank You Mitch Daniels

The health care reform bill being considered in the U.S. Senate is not easy to understand. There has been so much confusion and misinformation and lies about it from the Republicans.

That concern was put to rest for me this morning when I saw that Indiana’s Governor, Mitch Daniels, said that it’s bad. His conclusion along with that of Indiana’s Senator, Richard Lugar clinched it for me. Since they say that it’s bad, I’m convinced that it must be good enough to be reconciled with the House version and be made even better.

Whatever a right winger says, the exact opposite is true.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Physician Crooks

I was just watching Senator Tom Colburn, Republican from Oklahoma, on C-Span.

Senator Coburn is an M.D..

In talking about defensive medicine, Coburn said that he orders tests every day, not tests that his patients need, but tests that he needs, in order to protect himself from frivolous law suits.

I think that Senator Coburn and any other physician that orders unnecessary medical tests for a patient simply to protect his own skin, is a stinking crook.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Thanks, Joe Donnelly

I want to thank our Congressman, Joe Donnelly, for supporting seniors by voting for the health insurance reform legislation. Congressman Donnelly has always demonstrated that he is a champion of senior citizens and retirees. I cannot understand why any Congressman or Senator would do otherwise.

The medical insurance companies have had their own way for far too long making life miserable for so many retirees and seniors.
The misinformation from the right wing is their age old attempt to eventually do away with Medicare. By scaring seniors, they hope to pressure enough legislators to keep things as they are.

Fortunately seniors have umbrella organizations looking out for them. Organizations like the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare (NCPSSM), the Alliance for Retired Americans (ARA), and the Steelworkers Organization of Active Retirees (SOAR) that work tirelessly in their support of retirees and seniors, and all three of these organizations support the health insurance reform legislation.

Every retiree and senior citizen can help to save Medicare and guarantee their medical insurance benefits by writing or phoning Congressman Donnelly, Senator Bayh, and Senator Lugar and urge them to vote in favor of healthcare reform without any more delay.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Many Thanks To Ken Zeller and Congratulations to Nancy Guyott


Nancy Guyott is our new Indiana AFL-CIO President. She was elected at the Indiana State AFL-CIO convention a few days ago. Nancy is a real go getter and will serve Indiana's working families and retirees very well.

Nancy replaces retiring President, Ken Zeller. I first became acquainted with Ken in 1980 when he took over the collection of the medical insurance premiums for our union workers at the Northern Indiana Public Service Company when that company refused to do that when they forced the workers out on strike. Ken then became President of Local 12775 and served our local union very well.
He then became Commissioner of the Indiana Department of Labor.

I wish both of these champions of labor well in the future.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Do not be discouraged

Even though the right wingers are willing to say no to every piece of legislation, we will get a good health care bill passed in the U.S. Senate.
We all just have to keep up the good fight.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

The Plight of American Manufacturing

As London is the market of England, to which the best of all things find their way, so Rome was the market of the Mediterranean world; but there was this difference between the two, that in Rome the articles were not paid for. Money, indeed, might be given, but it was money which had not been earned, and which therefore would come to its end at last.

Rome lived upon its principal till ruin stared it in the face. Industry is the only true source of wealth, and there was no industry in Rome. By day the Ostia road was crowded with carts and muleteers, carrying to the great city the silks and spices of the East, the marble of Asia Minor, the timber of the Atlas, the grain of Africa and Egypt; and the carts brought nothing out but loads of dung. That was their return cargo. London turns dirt into gold. Rome turned gold into dirt. And how, it may be asked, was the money spent? The answer is not difficult to give. Rome kept open house. It gave a dinner party every day; the emperor and his favourites dined upon nightingales and flamingo tongues, on oysters from Britain, and on fishes from the Black Sea; the guards received their rations; and bacon, wine, oil, and loaves were served out gratis to the people. Sometimes entertainments were given in which a collection of animals as costly as that in Regent's Park was killed for the amusement of the people. Constantine transferred the capital to Constantinople; and now two dinners were given every day. Egypt found the bread for one, and Africa found it for the other. The governors became satraps, the peasantry became serfs, the merchants and land owners were robbed and ruined, the empire stopped payment, the legions of the frontier marched on the metropolis, the dikes were deserted, and then came the deluge.

Source: “The Martyrdom of Man,” by Winwood Reade, 1872 - and from page 1 of "Manufacturing A Better Future For America" Edited by Richard McCormack

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Great Manure Tea

If you should find yourself with some left over Christmas cards made in Communist China, feel free to mail them to me. I think they'd make terrific manure tea for my garden next spring.

Friday, December 11, 2009

December 11, 1965 was a very good year

Forty four years ago, it was, that Elaine and I tied the knot. December 11, 1965. She's been a terrific wife. A man couldn't ask for more. I love her.
She's making me cookies tonight.

Friday, December 04, 2009

Listen to the Truth about Medicare and health care reform



Crocodile Tears for Medicare
Posted By NCPSSM

For three full days, the Senate debate over health care reform has been loaded with misinformation and scare tactics targeted directly at seniors. Among the most recent outrageous claims are that seniors will die sooner if health care reform passes and health care reform will cut Medicare benefits. Both are simply not true.

Today we joined Senators Michael Bennet (D-CO), Christopher Dodd (D-CT) and Tom Harkin (IA) at a news conference offering the truth about health care reform and it’s impact on Medicare. We also announced our support for an amendment introduced by Senator Bennet today, which expressly prohibits any reductions in guaranteed Medicare benefits and makes sure all savings are reinvested back into Medicare.


We’ve said it before but clearly it must be said again…and again…and again.

“Don’t Touch Medicare” may sound like a good slogan but it’s a fatal strategy for the program.

Here's why:

Benefits cuts are not included in health care reform legislation being debated but that’s exactly what beneficiaries will ultimately face if we do nothing. The status quo isn’t sustainable and failure to pass health care reform is not an option for seniors who rely on Medicare. Without reform, neither seniors nor the government will be able to afford the program and Medicare will be targeted with unprecedented benefit cuts, higher premiums, and growing out-of-pocket costs.

If health care costs continue to grow unchecked the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) predicts, total spending on health care would rise from 16 percent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2007 to 49 percent in 2082. Federal spending on Medicare and Medicaid would rise from 4 percent of GDP in 19 percent in 2082. Benefits cuts are NOT proposed in the House reform legislation; however, without health care reform, it is inevitable that Medicare and Medicaid will face deep cuts and benefit cuts for seniors will be on the table then. Arbitrarily cutting Medicare without addressing system wide health care reform is not a hypothetical financial exercise. It would have real impacts on real people, most of whom have nowhere else to go for coverage and limited options for increasing their resources.

The Medicare Hospital Insurance Trust Fund, which pays for Medicare Part A, is projected to be exhausted by 2017. Without reform, seniors will bear an increasing burden of higher out-of-pocket costs—costs which already consume about one-quarter of the average senior’s Social Security benefit. Without reform, that amount will continue to grow far beyond the average beneficiaries ability to keep up. The Part D doughnut hole alone is projected to double with in the next decade.

Consider this: Health care reform’s most vocal opponents in Congress have also been philosophically opposed to the existence of social safety net programs like Medicare in the first place. Media Matters reports Senators who are leading the current charge to prevent reforms in Medicare have actually supported $1.57 billion in Medicare cuts in the past—and much of those were direct cuts in benefits.

Given the current health care crisis in America, health care opponents’ strategy of “Don’t Touch Medicare” will ultimately achieve the same goal proposed by Medicare’s opponents back in the 1990’s to let Medicare “whither on the vine”.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

I Stand By Our President

I am a professed Christian. I believe in the teachings of Jesus Christ. I believe that a person when assaulted should turn the other cheek rather than fight back. However, I must at the same time, confess that I am not a perfect Christian and that if attacked, I would defend myself.

I know that President Obama’s decision to send 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan will be a controversial one, but I support his decision.

I was seventeen years old during the Vietnam war, enlisted in the U.S. Navy, and served aboard a destroyer in the South Pacific. At the time, I was in favor of that war having been indoctrinated in the domino theory of fighting against Communism and was pretty gung-ho about it, especially when it was reported that three destroyers had been attacked in the Tonkin Golf.

After my tour was up and I began seeing and reading news reports about that war, and found out that the Tonkin Golf incident was a fabrication, I changed my mind about Vietnam.

After 9-11, I was in favor of our country sending troops to Afghanistan in order to eliminate Osama bin Laden and Al-Qaeda and those who master minded the attack against our country. But when President Bush hi-tailed it out of Afghanistan to fight his and Cheney’s personal war in Iraq, I became convinced that the United States should get out of Afghanistan and I had that belief until the President’s speech last night.

The President didn’t come to a quick decision about what to do in Afghanistan, but was controversially deliberate in making that decision.

I believe that he would rather be able to devote his time and our resources in repairing what the right wingers have done to our country, but after a lengthy study of all of our options he has determined that it is in our country’s best interest to finish what we started in Afghanistan.

I listened carefully to his speech last night and I trust his judgement in this case.