Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The Rat Race explained

A boat docked in a tiny Mexican village.  An American tourist complimented the Mexican fisherman on the quality of his fish and asked how long it took him to catch them.

"Not very long," answered the Mexican. "But then, why didn't you stay out longer and catch more?" asked the American.

The Mexican explained that his small catch was sufficient to meet his needs and those of his family.
The American asked, "But what do you do with the rest of your time?" "I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, and take a siesta with my wife.  In the evenings, I go into the village to see my friends, have a few drinks, play the guitar, and sing a few songs...I have a full life."
The American interrupted, "I have an MBA from Harvard and I can help you!  You should start by fishing longer every day.  You can then sell the extra fish you catch.  With the extra revenue, you can buy a bigger boat. With the extra money the larger boat will bring, you can buy a second one and a third one and so on until you have an entire fleet of trawlers. Instead of selling your fish to a middle man, you can negotiate directly with the processing plants and maybe even open your own plant.  You can then leave this little village and move to Mexico City, Los Angeles, or even New York City!  From there you can direct your huge enterprise." 

"How long would that take?" asked the Mexican. "Twenty, perhaps twenty-five years," replied the American. "And after that?" "Afterwards?  That's when it gets really interesting," answered the American, laughing.  "When your business gets really big, you can start selling stocks and make millions!" "Millions?  Really?  And after that?" "After that you'll be able to retire, live in a tiny village near the coast, sleep late, play with your children, catch a few fish, take a siesta, and spend your evenings drinking and enjoying your friends.

Source: Can't remember, sorry. 

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Social Security - Serving Those Who Serve Our Nation

Memorial Day is more than a three-day weekend to celebrate the unofficial start of summer with a BBQ.  It’s a day when we remember the service and sacrifice of the men and women who have served in our nation’s military.

Military men and women contribute to Social Security just like other working Americans, from their first paycheck at boot camp, to their last paycheck at the end of their career. As for any other working American who contributes, Social Security needs to be there for veterans and their families. For example:

● Most of the more than 4,000 children who lost a parent since the beginning of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars now receive Social Security survivors benefits.
● More than 771,000 veterans receive Social Security disability benefits.
● Social Security currently pays benefits to over 9 million veterans—about 4 in 10 veterans today—and the vast majority of veterans will become Social Security beneficiaries in the future.
Veterans and military families gave their all for our country.  It is our obligation to fight to ensure that they receive every benefit they deserve.  This means reminding Congress that those who serve our nation, should never have to worry about any benefit cuts. After all, Social Security belongs to them – and to all of us.

Source: StrengthenSocialSecurity

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Philip Murray

Philip Murray was president of the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO) during its most tumultuous decade and helped transform the volatile movement of industrial unions begun by John L. Lewis into a stable and powerful organization. Vice president of the United Mine Workers of America (UMW) from 1920 until 1942, Murray also served as the first president of the United Steel Workers of America (USWA) from 1942 until his death in 1952. As president of the CIO, Murray cemented the alliance between the industrial unions and the liberal wing of the Democratic Party. He also created a more amicable relationship with the larger and older American Federation of Labor (AFL), laying the foundation for the merger of the CIO and the AFL in 1955.

Phillip Murray
Phillip Murray
Murray was born in Blantyre, Scotland, on May 25, 1886, of Irish Catholic parents. His father, William Murray, was a coal miner and local union official. His mother, Rose Layden, was a weaver in a local cotton mill who died when her son was only two years old. Murray's father remarried and had eight more children. Philip, the oldest boy, entered the mines at 10 to help support the family. At 16, he and his father traveled to southwestern Pennsylvania, where they both found jobs as miners. Within a year, they had saved enough money to bring the entire family to America.

In 1904, the young Murray assaulted a company weigh boss he thought was cheating him and was fired. When his fellow workers struck in support of his reinstatement, his father, stepmother and seven of his siblings were thrown from their home into the street. The experience made an indelible impression on Murray. Concluding that unions were the best defense workers had against unfair treatment, he devoted himself to the cause. In 1905, Murray was elected president of the UMW local in Horning, Pa. Murray completed an 18-month correspondence course in math and science in six months. He also met and courted his wife, Elizabeth Lavery, the daughter of a miner killed in a pit accident. They married in 1910 and eventually adopted a son.

Murray soon came to the attention of UMW leaders at the state and national level. Murray favored industrial cooperation and gradual improvements over industrial warfare and revolutionary upheaval. In 1912, John White, UMW president, appointed Murray to the UMW's national Executive Board; three years later, White backed his election as president of UMW District 5 in western Pennsylvania. In 1917, Murray mobilized support on the Executive Board to confirm another rising star in the organization, John L. Lewis, as vice president of the UMW. Then, when Lewis was elevated to the presidency of the miners' union, he supported promoting the 33 year-old Murray (1886-1952) to the vice presidency.

For the next 20 years, Murray was Lewis's right-hand man. Lewis handled relations with management, financiers, politicians and the press, while Murray handled relationships with the members. The two men worked closely together for many years, but Murray was capable of acting not only independently of Lewis but also in complete opposition to him.

In 1936, following the formation of the original Committee for Industrial Organization within the AFL, Lewis put Murray in charge of the Steel Workers Organizing Committee (SWOC). Murray's organizers cultivated leaders of the industry's many company unions, while his staff filed unfair labor practice charges against the companies with the new National Labor Relations Board and fed congressional investigators information about the steel industry's use of anti-union spies and hired thugs. In March 1937, one week after the Flint sit-down strikers forced General Motors to recognize the United Auto Workers, U.S. Steel, the nation's largest steel producer signed an agreement with the SWOC. Other steel producers soon followed. Although the so-called "Little Steel" companies would thwart unionization until 1941, by the end of 1937 SWOC had chartered more than 1,000 local unions and was administering hundreds of collective bargaining agreements. 

When the CIO held its first official convention in 1938, Murray was elected its second vice president. Two years later, Murray assumed the CIO presidency when John L. Lewis resigned in protest over President Franklin D. Roosevelt's re-election and his interventionist foreign policy. Murray, in contrast, supported the president's effort to aid the Allies in their war against Nazi Germany. And he agreed to serve, as did his CIO colleague, Sidney Hillman, in the agencies established by the Roosevelt administration to coordinate war-related production and to expedite the settlement of labor disputes in war-related industries. 

Shoring up support for the nation's war effort and securing gains for union workers despite a no-strike pledge absorbed much of Murray's energies in his first years as head of the CIO. In 1942, Lewis, who opposed the no-strike policy, disaffiliated the UMW from the organization he had founded. He also supported Murray's expulsion from the miners' union. While the break caused Murray great sorrow, he never wavered from the course he had chosen. He continued as CIO president, and he agreed to assume the presidency of the newly formed United Steel Workers of America. By the war's end, Murray could point to real achievements. The war had been won, union membership had continued to grow and wage gaps between the highest- and lowest-paid workers had narrowed.

After the Republicans won control of Congress in 1942, Murray established a permanent Political Action Committee within the CIO and called for a guaranteed annual wage, union pensions, joint labor-management industry councils and government policies to ensure full employment. A long-time member of the executive committee of the NAACP, in 1943 Murray sought to make the Fair Employment Practice Commission (established by executive order two years earlier) a permanent legislated agency to protect the employment rights of minorities. Under his leadership, the CIO condemned racial discrimination and established a Committee to Abolish Racial Discrimination inside the CIO. 

After the war, Murray opposed the Taft-Hartley Act (1947) and successfully challenged an interpretation of the act that would have forbidden a labor publication from endorsing a political candidate. He also refused on principle to sign the anti-Communist affidavit that Taft-Hartley required of all union officers because he considered it demeaning and discriminatory. In keeping with this opposition, Murray refused to sanction raids by CIO affiliates on unions whose leaders refused to sign the affidavit. However, when several left-leaning unions disregarded the official CIO endorsement of Harry Truman in 1948 and instead supported the third-party candidacy of Henry Wallace, Murray acted decisively to expel the dissidents, convinced they put the interests of the Communist Party before those of the union and its members. 

In the 1950s, Murray continued to press for the political, social and economic advance of working people, leading his last major strike against the steel industry in 1952. Shortly thereafter, he died of a heart attack in San Francisco, honored by millions as a truly humane and visionary leader of the labor movement.

Source: AFL-CIO and USW web sites

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

You Can Huff & You Can Puff

Don't Threaten Workers and Retirees

NY House Race Shows Fallout of House Medicare Vote

Threats to Medicare Play Key Role in Tuesday’s Special Election

The following statement was issued today by Edward F. Coyle, Executive Director of the Alliance for Retired Americans.

“The outcome of the special election in New York’s 26th congressional district was greatly shaped by concern over a recent U.S. House vote to privatize Medicare and create an inadequate voucher program for retirees that would be run by health insurance companies.

"The April 15 Medicare vote troubled both seniors and workers.  For retirees already struggling to get by, these proposed changes would be devastating.  Many workers today are worrying that they will never be able to retire.

“Voters saw that Kathy Hochul will be a strong voice in Congress to protect the health care and retirement security of Americans of all ages.  She made it crystal clear that she opposes turning Medicare over to private insurance companies, reducing Social Security benefits, and allowing state governors to cut Medicaid support for seniors who cannot afford nursing home care.

“These results show that health care and retirement security will be on the minds of many voters in the 2012 elections.  The Alliance for Retired Americans will continue to educate voters on both the issues and where the candidates stand.”

Michael Buckley
Communications Director
Alliance for Retired Americans

Thursday, May 19, 2011

The Race To The Bottom

by Bill Gibbons
PACE Representative, Steelworkers Organization of Active Retirees (SOAR)

Most of us have been around long enough to look back at how our country progressed and the working
class and middle class dream was achieved - most of it through the strength of unions and the collective bargaining process. Remember when one income based on a good job would support the entire family? Remember when health insurance and pensions where being established and improved through negotiations?

Remember when Social Security was looked upon as a great social program to be protected and Medicare was established? Remember when we talked about reducing the work week and a livable wage? If we didn’t have Medicare today, do you think we could get it passed in congress?

What is happening to the American dream? Well, if we pay attention, we can see it being attacked and torn apart by the conservative, right-wing, tea party movement, bank rolled by special interests and corporate money funded through various organizations with friendly patriotic sounding names.

Think about it. The attempts to privatize and eliminate Medicare. The same people don’t believe in Social Security and would like to eliminate workers’ rights and destroy unions and eliminate regulations that protect the general good.

These attacks on workers and the middle class have been going on for years. The difference now is that it has become so obvious. Private sector workers have been fighting to protect their standard of living for the last 30 years. Now, the public sector workers; police, firefighters, teachers and others areunder attack.

It’s a race to the bottom under the premise of budget shortfalls, protecting jobs, etc. while the entries such as the investment banks and misdeeds of Wall Street, that cause the recent economic problems, are unaffected and actually benefiting.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Medicare at Risk

By Jim Centner,
Director, Steelworkers Organization of Active Retirees (SOAR)

The new Republican budget reflects upside-down priorities – it protects special interest subsidies and tax breaks for those at the top, and cuts deep into the heart of the programs that are essential to the health of our seniors.  The Republican budget ends Medicare as we know it – converting it into a voucher-type program. While providing a windfall for the health insurance industry, it would force seniors to pay much more for healthcare. If Republicans get their way, premiums for more than 20 million seniors will skyrocket and they will all lose their guaranteed health benefits.

Starting in 2022, Medicare will be eliminated for new beneficiaries and converted instead into a voucher program.  There are more than 20 million near-elderly Americans who are now ages 50-54 who would not get Medicare when they retire but instead only get a coupon to purchase private health insurance.  This approach would transfer control of Medicare to insurers and there would be no guaranteed benefits, essentially ending Medicare. 

The voucher will fail to keep pace with increases in the cost of healthcare.  As a result, seniors will be forced to pay higher premiums in order to access the same benefits they would receive under the current system.  According to the Congressional Budget Office, a typical senior will spend more than twice as much of his or her own income on health services under the Ryan proposal, as compared to the current Medicare system.

Under current law, all seniors have guaranteed access to life-saving health benefits, including screenings for colon cancer, diabetes, and prostate cancer, as well as flu shots. If the Republican plan becomes law, there is a real possibility that seniors that were eligible for guaranteed health benefits last year could lose them.

The proposal would “reopen” the prescription drug donut hole, requiring that seniors pay full price for prescription drugs.  As a result, on average, seniors would pay $3,500 more for their medications over the next ten years.  Seniors and people with disabilities who have high prescription drug costs could pay an additional $12,300 over the next 10 years.

In their initial analysis of the Ryan Medicare plan, the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office determined, "Under the proposal, most elderly people would pay more for their healthcare than they would pay under the current Medicare system…" Under the proposal, the gradually increasing number of Medicare beneficiaries participating in the new premium support program would bear a much larger share of their healthcare costs than they would under the traditional program…That greater burden would require them to reduce their use of healthcare services, spend less on other goods and services, or save more in advance of retirement than they would under current law.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

We Can Make a Difference

by Connie Entrekin,
President, Steelworkers Organization of Active Retirees (SOAR)

Recent events have demonstrated that an informed electorate can make a difference. Retirees all across the country attended town hall meetings held by their legislators to let them know exactly what they thought of the Ryan budget plan. Educated and armed with the facts, activists showed up to demonstrate their displeasure with the Republican - led budget that recently passed in the House of Representatives and changed the course of the debate.

This grassroots activism once again established that working class Americans will not stand pat and allow the corporate elite and their elected lackey’s to run roughshod over what is good for all Americans. You made your voices heard! The leaders of the far right and minions of the rich backed-out from their draconian approach to destroy Medicare in a half-baked scheme to balance the budget.  

SOAR members joined with the Alliance for Retired Americans in over 20 “Don’t Make Us Work until We Die” events. These grassroot actions stressed that cutting entitlement benefits would require people to keep working far past when they should be able to retiree with dignity. These events also demonstrated to our elected officials that we are paying very close attention to their activities.

We must keep the pressure on!  We must continue to express our concerns about the budget process.  We must get a commitment from our legislators to oppose any attempt to weaken or dismantle Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security.

The question we all must ask ourselves is one that many activists have asked themselves throughout the ages - "If not us, who; If not now, when?"

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Too much Rain, but the garden keeps Growing

Stuck inside the last two days because of rain but the garden is looking great. We'll be eating lettuce any day now. Raspberries, goose berries, peaches, grapes, peas, onions, potatoes, tomatoes and peppers all look good. Waiting for beans and cukes and squash to appear.
Gardening is good for the soul and what ails a person. No doubt about that.
Indiana politics is making me ill. It's possible that Mitch Daniels could end up being the decline of America. He's sure made a mess of Indiana. And Mike Pence threatens to finish the job.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Typical Week End Weather

Typical Spring week end weather here in Northern Indiana. The sun shines bright and the temperature is great from Monday to Friday, then on the week ends it turns miserably cool and rains.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Tanglefoot did the trick

We enjoy feeding the Hummingbirds and Baltimore Orioles. They both use the same feeder but when the Orioles visit it, the feeder tips slightly allowing the water to drip away. So, I put a post in the ground about a foot deep and nailed a one foot square piece of particle board on top. I then put a small chick waterer on top which holds a one quart jar full of water (upside down).
The next problem was the darned ants coming up the post and invading the the thing.
I tried smearing a three inch wide band of grease around the post but it didn't faze the ants. I tried a little vasoline but that didn't work either.
I then went to the hardware store and got a small container of "Tanglefoot" and smeared a two inch band around the post a few inches below the board. That did the trick. Great stuff and well worth it.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

RetirementTalk - A Wonderful Podcast

 About a week ago, I came across a podcast called “Retirement Talk-What to do with the rest of your life?”
It's one of the best podcasts I’ve heard by a retiree who puts in plain English, what retirement is all about.
It’s done by, Del Lowery. A man with a golden voice. Smooth......

These podcasts are about five minutes in length and and are filled with interesting stories and suggestions as to how to have a happy retirement.

The podcasts can also be downloaded from the iTunes store by a search on iTunes for “Retirement Talk for Boomers, Seniors, and Retirees.”

Take a listen. I think you’ll enjoy these short essays.

Here is Del's web address: http://retirementtalk.org/


Monday, May 09, 2011

Not a thing on my mind

I'm speechless. Just too tired to comment this evening. It's not a good idea to wait till the end of the day to write something on a blog. I've learned my lesson.

Sunday, May 08, 2011

Happy Mother's Day and good picking to you all

Bless all Mother's on this special day.

The Morel's are in full bloom in northern Indiana, so good picking mushroomers.

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Indiana's One Party Rule A Complete Disaster

Statehouse Update
State Rep. Pat Bauer

May 2, 2011

INDIANAPOLIS -- Indiana House Democratic Leader B. Patrick Bauer from South Bend recently issued the following statement on the 2011 session of the Indiana General Assembly, which ended this past Friday evening:

     "The damage done by single-party rule this session will be severe and lasting.

     "It will be felt in the pocketbooks of Hoosiers, in the classrooms where our children are taught, and in the courtrooms of this state, where many will go in the months ahead to try to overturn some of the most onerous policies that are being signed into law.

     "Here are two 'accomplishments' from this session that describe these past four months perfectly:

     "We cut taxes on corporations by 25 percent.

     "We cut benefits for out-of-work Hoosiers by 25 percent.

     "Those two contrasts provide all the proof you need to see the true agenda advanced by Republicans when they have complete control of government. They might describe it as a mandate, but only on behalf of the rich and powerful special interests.

     "It has been an agenda that describes job creation as right-to-work proposals that prove only to drive down wages, health care and other benefits for workers. What else could you expect from those who think that having 270,000 Hoosiers unemployed is a positive sign -- and do nothing these past four months to try to find good-paying jobs for them?

     "But perhaps the greatest tragedy of this session will be the price paid by those children who will not be among the privileged few to be able to attend charter schools or use taxpayer-funded vouchers to attend private schools.

     "The children who are left out of these programs will see larger class sizes, fewer programs that will enable them to expand and enrich their individual talents, and fewer people to help them find those talents.

     "You will be told that the new state budget contains $150 million in additional funding for schools. This is a lie.

     "This governor has cut state support for schools by $600 million the past two years. That means our schools are being asked to make do with funding levels that are lower than they were two years ago. The additional funding in the new state budget will only make up a portion of what schools have lost.

     "In the weeks and months ahead, the dirty reality of what has been accomplished through single-party control of this Legislature will begin to dawn on the people of Indiana. They will realize that parents of children who are home schooled or go to private schools will have tax breaks that can even give them relief from the textbook tax that has plagued so many families for so long.

     "Those who propose such policies also will claim these breaks are small. They are the same people who claim that we should do nothing to give families a break from high gas prices this summer. As we have mentioned before, those in charge right now only turn fiscally conservative when it comes time to help those who earn less than them.

     "These leaders are the same people who will gush that this session was a resounding success.

     "They could not be more wrong. The 2011 session of the Indiana General Assembly was a complete disaster."