A commenter in the thread for my last article raised the point the he didn't see the connection between Southern Senators, their opposition to bailing out Detroit, and their avowed Christianity. I must have been too subtle in the second-to-last paragraph. It has to do with each of these elitist cracker Solons loudly proclaiming their Christian values every chance they get while acting in direct contradiction to these alleged beliefs.
Take Senator Richard Shelby back to Alabama (please!) and read to him from his own website: "our government and our laws are based on Judeo-Christian values and a recognition of God as our Creator." Yet he is in the lead in acting to deny Detroit auto workers the means to "put food on their families."
Then there is Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee, who received the "True Blue" award sponsored by James Dobson's pseudo-Christian Focus on the Family and the Family Research Council on January 29, 2008. The awards are given each year to members of Congress who consistently support fundamentalist family values with their legislation. Apparently, Corker doesn't believe in promoting the ability of the worker to meet the Divine admonition expressed in 1 Timothy 5:8: "If a man does not provide, especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith."
The anti-bailout position – along with many other labor-hostile attitudes adopted by these pious hypocrites – stands in direct opposition to the Christian faithful workers being able to observe this directive from On High. But that doesn't matter to GOP GAWD, for the Republicans have often been anointed by his self-appointed Earthly representative Dr. Pat Robertson, the Pharisee-in-Chief, to perform this vile task upon the unclean and ungodly workers.
Robertson founded The Christian Coalition "to give Christians a voice in government" in 1989. Earning ratings of 100% in support of "the interests of the Christian Coalition" for the 2007-08 session of Congress were the following Republican members of the US Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs: Senator Richard C. Shelby (AL), Senator Bob Corker (TN), Senator Wayne A. Allard (CO), Senator Michael B. 'Mike' Enzi (WY), Senator Charles T. 'Chuck' Hagel (NE), Senator Jim Bunning (KY), Senator Michael D. 'Mike' Crapo (ID), Senator Elizabeth H. Dole (NC), and Senator Melquiades Rafael 'Mel' Martinez (FL).
Only the Slacker Mormon Senator Bob Bennett (UT) didn't achieve a perfect score. Bennett only earned a 90 percent rating for 2007-2008, but was awarded a 100 percent in support of the interests of the Christian Coalition in 2004.
In comparison, the best approval rates the Democratic committee members earned were 50 percent for [Senator Robert P. 'Bob' Casey, Jr. (PA)], 30 percent for [Senator Tim P. Johnson (SD)], 20 percent for [Senator Evan Bayh (IN)] and 10 percent for [Senator Daniel Kahikina Akaka, Sr. (HI)] All of the other Democratic members of the committee are doomed to fiscal fundamentalist Hell with Zero ratings.
Consultant Ken Jennings is a Christian who attempts to advise companies on how to design their management strategies away from self-serving models along ethical lines. I've heard him speak at my employer's request, and I believe he knows what he's talking about when he says, "Quick-fix solutions to ethical problems won't work for businesses that have an anything-for-the-bottom-line approach", and "Self-serving leaders create self-serving followers, and self-serving followers do only what they're told." Jennings touted those nostrums in his 2003 book, The Serving Leader. He's an inspiring speaker, and I strongly urge you to hear him speak if you get a chance.
But then, "followers doing only what they're told" looks to me to be what GOP Christian work ethics are all about. What are the Christian work ethics? We'll turn to the source of Divine Inspiration for those answers:
The Christian work ethic is one in which work is viewed as a virtuous duty that has been mandated by God … [and] … requires a commitment to excellence in the task. The 4th Commandment tells us that we shall labor for six days (Exodus 20:8-9). [The Satanic Socialist Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 defines the work week as lasting no more than five.] Workers must do everything without complaining or arguing (Philippians 2:14) and are to obey their employers by working hard and cheerfully, even when they are under observation (Colossians 3:22-25). Workers do not talk back to the overseers, nor do they steal from them. Instead, employees show that they can be fully trusted (Titus 2:9-10) adding honesty to the ethic of work. The Lord's servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach and not resentful. 2 Timothy 2:15, 24, 25
Not everyone sees the "wisdom" in these pronouncements even if they source from the Old Testament. Larry Yudelson examines "Judeo-Christian values" as expressed in the past electoral campaign in an article written for the New Jersey Jewish News, and finds them worrisome:
Take McCain’s remarks back in February, noted by the [Boston] Globe, in which he placed job retraining (!) under the Judeo-Christian rubric: “We’ve got to educate and train these people,” he said, referring to laid-off workers. “It is a Judeo-Christian values nation and it’s an obligation we have and we are not doing it.” Was McCain really treating government-funded retraining programs as sacred ethical imperatives? Or was he simply pandering to the Evangelicals who twice elected George W. Bush president?
Pandering most probably. After all, unless McCain won, he couldn't represent his corporate sponsors as our leader. Jim Hightower explained this fact of modern life back in 2002:
Corporations rule. No other institution comes close to matching the power that the 500 biggest corporations have amassed over us. The clout of all 535 members of Congress is nothing compared to the individual and collective power of these predatory behemoths that now roam the globe, working their will over all competing interests.
Especially if the competing interests are the health and welfare of We, the People.
Gary Olson, Ph.D., chair of the Political Science Department at Moravian College in Bethlehem, PA, reinforces Hightower's observation when he notes, "Capitalists maintain domination, in part, through subtly but actively creating society's prevailing cultural norms… [that] … don't threaten elite control." This would include corrupting Christianity to service the corporate bottom line through lower labor costs.
So lets look at how well the Congressional servants of the investor class are meeting their Christian duties as employees of wealth. Outgoing US President George W. Bush is standing up in defense of his employers when he told CNN in an interview, "I've abandoned free-market principles to save the free-market system to make sure the economy doesn't collapse."
Abandoning principles must also come naturally to Southern Republican Senators, as they would rather pay hookers their fees than workers their wages and benefits. It thus isn't much of a stretch to believe that – for the right price – they would sell themselves as well. Take US Sen. David Vitter (Please!), one of the bailout blockers. Vitter said, "I'll continue to fight for the help and fundamental restructuring of the auto industry …" This "fundamental restructuring" includes eliminating features like wages and benefits which make these often tedious and occasionally dangerous jobs worth doing. But for whom does Vitter toil? Not for thee, worker!
The Los Angeles Times published an excellent expose of the hypocrisy of the Southern Senators. They report that Toyota, in an internal memo leaked to the Detroit Free Press last year, seeks to cut their labor costs by $300 million by 2011. The company has already put construction of a new plant in Mississippi on hold until about that date, but they really seek to reduce their American wages and benefits to much lower levels at all of their plants. The only way this can be accomplished is if the UAW is crippled and rendered powerless, and the Republican Senators of the South stand ready to provide the means to achieve this goal by using taxes paid by the working class against the economic interests of the working class.
Southern states have gained a great economic deal from foreign car makers via this method, using tax subsidies and other government-paid incentives to attract foreign car makers to their right-to-work-for-less fiefdoms. Mercedes-Benz, Honda, Toyota and Hyundai "supported [an annual] payroll of $5.2 billion," says Neal Wade, director of the Alabama Development Office as Nissan offers their Smyrna, TN employees a buyout offer of up to $125,000 to seek new employment elsewhere. [I happen to own a Nissan built in Smyrna. Those folks did such a great job building my pickup that it's lasted me 15 years with no major repairs. Bad for continued corporate profits, though, as I haven't yet needed to buy a replacement.]
All is not yet lost for Detroit, however. Bucking the Senate Republicans, outgoing President Bush is giving the Big Three the last $17.4 billion in Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson's the first half of the $700 billion TARP account. In return, the government will have the option of becoming a stockholder in the companies.
But in all of this politicking over the welfare of the corporations the welfare of labor has been lost in the shuffle of the bailout applications. UAW president Ron Gettelfinger is willing to lead his membership like lemmings over the giveback cliff if it would help their employers survive through these loans. Loans are preferred over the only other option available to the Big Three, bankruptcy. Under those conditions, their labor agreements could be nullified, and the UAW could lose everything they haven't already surrendered.
Bankruptcy would make the continued survival of the companies unlikely, as potential customers aren't going to like the loss of warranty the bankruptcy would cause. CNW Marketing Research conducted a survey last July which showed that 80 percent of prospective car buyers would not buy from a bankrupt company. A later survey found that 51 percent would not buy a car from G.M. even with the bailout. This isn't necessarily a reflection on GM quality, however.
Welfare rolls are growing significantly, being boosted by large numbers of former middle-class wage earners, including small business owners, who formerly would be the most likely purchasers of Detroit Wheels. With stingy support checks – like right-to-work-for-less Florida's $303 a month for a family of four (unchanged since 1993) – there is no money for a new car no matter which company made it.
$303 a month! Putting food on your family alone costs much more than that! But keep grinding away on the lowly working serf while the lush lords of Wall Street Manor create an artificial impoverishment intended to avoid rendering unto Caesar.
Goldman Sachs and other Wall Street banks are shifting income to countries with lower taxes to avoid paying US tax. Said U.S. Representative Lloyd Doggett, a Texas Democrat who serves on the tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee, “With the right hand out begging for bailout money, the left is hiding it offshore.” Robert Willens, president and chief executive officer of tax and accounting advisory firm Robert Willens LLC, called this strategy "not very good public relations".
What an understatement!
Brent Budowsky is reporting that bailouts for the rich while the poor get toss-outs isn't playing well in Peoria (home of Caterpillar, which decimated their UAW membership with the help of the union in the past). He declares that the public is increasingly angry over the abuse of "Their Money" and that they demand to know who is getting how much.
The New York Crank is a perfect example of the Angry Citizen, calling for a revamp of financial fraud laws to inflict the appropriate punishment on those who "told their innocent victims, the American public, to go to hell." This may be why Paulson and Bernanke are stalling providing TARP disbursement information until their Wall Street sponsors like Goldman Sachs complete stashing the TARP cash under some foreign mattresses.
Rachel Maddow of MSNBC also doubts the veracity of the bank bailout and wonders, "Did we get punked?" According to David Sirota, the answer – based on Minneapolis Federal Reserve reports [PDF] – is "Yes, we did". This assertion is supported by Reuters, which cites a report issued by Celent Consulting. Celent also used Federal Reserve reports to determine that while there is a real financial crisis, "the problems of a few are by no means those of the many when it comes to obtaining credit". They blast Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke and Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson for making statements "not supported, or [which] are flatly contradicted, by the data provided by the very organizations they lead."
Sirota's J'accuse peaks with the observation that "The real crisis is in the real economy – ya know, the real world of jobs, wages, health care premiums and pensions that Washington has totally ignored as it keeps writing checks to its well-heeled campaign contributors on Wall Street under the guise of a lending crisis." Who polices the policemen?
The Wall Street Gang could learn a few lessons in how to achieve wealth with little official notice from US Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs member Jim Bunning, who set up a charitable foundation in 1996 so he could collect money from his baseball memorabilia autographs without violating current Senate limits on outside income. Senate and tax records show that the non-profit Jim Bunning Foundation has taken in more than $504,000 in baseball memorabilia autograph fees. Bunning – the foundation's sole employee – has "earned" $180,000 in salary for working a reported hour a week. This works out to roughly $250 for that single hour a week over 12 years. And this putz has the nerve to point fingers at the "overpaid" UAW worker? He who enjoys completely paid medical care and a retirement plan that almost equals his Senate pay?
In addition, the non-profit Jim Bunning Foundation has donated only $136,435 to various Northern Kentucky churches and charitable groups, a figure less than Bunning has donated to himself. In subtracting both sums from the total, there would still be enough left for Bunning to double his foundation workweek to two hours and take home most of the remaining $187,565 in that account as "wages". The rest can cover his non-profit management expenses.
Unfortunately for Senator Bunning, his best potential market for memorabilia would be Detroit — where he pitched during his best years for the Tigers from 1955 to 1963. But due to his continued opposition to the automotive bailouts, few of the hundreds of thousands of autoworker Tiger fans are likely to be asking for – much less be able to pay for – those $35 signed baseballs and $55 signed bats that Bunning is pitching. A wiser business man, Gibraltar Trade Center President Jim Koester, pulled the starter on Bunning's appearance in suburban Taylor, Michigan. Koester explained, "I simply cannot support anyone who, in my opinion, votes against the economic well-being of our great state." Not even if he's a Hall of Fame Tiger Pitcher.
It may be that making more money than most autoworkers even when pitching for the Tigers separated Bunning from the awareness of what it takes to survive while working for a living. It's hard on the street when you're slipped! Michigan has the highest November jobless rate at 9.6 percent. Number two Rhode Island somehow lost 4000 jobs between October and November, but had its November unemployment rate remain steady at 9.3 percent. California reported the third highest unemployment rate in the nation at 8.4 percent, losing 41,700 jobs in November. California unemployment in November 2007 stood at 5.7 percent prior to shedding 136,000 jobs during the past year.
Tossing around the rest of the Idled League, Oregon suffered their second large over-the-month rate increase while 37 states and the District of Columbia saw unemployment rise. In November, Florida lost the most jobs at 58,600.
Indiana lost 12,800 jobs and its November unemployment rate exceeded the nation's as a whole. according to preliminary figures from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Indiana's September rate was 6.2 percent, growing to 6.4 percent in October. October's numbers were the highest unemployment figures in 21 years. This worsened to 7.1 percent in November as Indiana began to feel the aftereffects of the employment cutbacks in the auto parts manufacturing sector. Indiana's unemployment rate in November 2007 was 4.5 percent.
In the Southern Division, things aren't so peachy in Idled League-leading Georgia! The Georgia Department of Labor said Thursday the state’s unemployment rate increased to 7.5 percent in November — the highest rate in more than 25 years and above the national rate of 6.7 percent for the 10th straight month. Over the last year, the number of payroll jobs decreased 94,400. Some 365,244 unemployed Georgians are now looking for work, but still saw fit to return Saxbe Chambliss to the Senate to continue to strive mightily against their socialistic economic self-interest while helping to prevent gays from marrying.
And in Tennessee, home state of auto bailout foe Senator Bob Corker, Tennessee job seekers dropped out of the labor force by the thousands last month as layoffs and shutdowns at Tennessee businesses are reducing the number of opportunities available to the state's workers. The job pool shrank by more than 15,000 positions as the labor force shrank by 17,400 workers.
This isn't the first instance of an official reduction in available human resources. Last June, 18,600 Volunteer State workers also fell out of the job seeker definition mismanaged by Labor Sec. Elaine Chao, who is known off-duty as Mrs. Mitch McConnell. You might remember him as the Senate Minority Leader from the Bluegrass State who is also staunchly opposed to the auto industry bailout.
Some seers peering into the future see a silver lining in the dark clouds. Ernest Partridge, Co-Editor of The Crisis Papers, says, "This is what happens when a government puts the fate of the nation’s economy in the hands of wealthy individuals and corporations" while predicting that "this era of free-market dogmatism may be coming to an end, as the dreadful consequences of its application are cascading upon us." In other words, hit workers in the face with a loss of earning power two-by-four, and you finally get their attention.
It takes something like this to awaken some so-called experts as well. Partridge quotes Alan Greenspan, who testified before Rep. Henry Waxman’s Committee that “I made a mistake in presuming that they [CEOs] were best capable of protecting their own shareholders.” But it took the economy collapsing before Alan could understand this mistake.
And who was best capable of protecting their own workers, Alan? The workers themselves? I doubt you would know the answer to my question, for your wife (Andrea Mitchell of NBC News) still holds down a lucrative day job while you bask in the retirement your policies have denied to millions! And as a life-long acolyte of Ayn Rand, you likely wouldn't have read 1 Timothy 5:18 which declares that employers are responsible for fair wages for their employees.
Such wage responsibility is likely to become next to impossible to accomplish if F. William Engdahl is correct. Engdahl is of the opinion that the Federal Reserve has "set the stage" for a "Weimar-style hyperinflation." During that sorry period in Germany's history, the workforce was paid twice a day in order for them to try to stay ahead of the exploding inflation of the mark. Those who don't know that period in history can see the same thing going on in Robert Mugabe's current-day Zimbabwean Economy. Study hard – there WILL be a test in Homeland!
The hardest test will be given to President-elect Obama, who will have to deal with this crisis among many others while the Crawford Kid and the Cheney Gang ride off into the sunset toward their undisclosed Hole-In-Some-Wall location. Left behind to clean up their massive piles of Equine Exhaust, Obama has been denied a clear base path like many of the relief pitchers called in to try to bail out a win for the Tigers after Bunning lost his stuff for the day. Obama will have to pitch his way out of another's jam for the good of the national team. I would strongly advise him to develop a pitch that involves the knuckles. He's already dealing with the splitters.
One has to hope that Obama's chosen a strong team to back him. It isn't without reason that the dreaded 'D' word is being bandied about. Should there be another Great Depression, I doubt that the outcome will match that of FDR's. There is less attachment to the American Ideal, and the current crisis has just scalped your ticket to the American Dream box seat. Few really understand enough about who did what to whom to act in a rational manner for the retribution they seek. They are too easily distracted by the catcalls coming from the opposing team's bench to keep their eyes on the $35 signed baseball. They will instead be up in the bleachers chasing some cheap beer-swilling observer while the Republicans steal the bases, laughing all the way.
In the bottom of the ninth, with the home team behind, scapegoating has become the norm in this nation. Everyone has a favorite boogieman upon whom to attach blame for losing the game. Disrespect for law and order is at an all-time low, inspired by those at the very top whose disdain for these standards led to this economic crisis – as well as so many others – because the rules are for fools since the laws have flaws. Are the Ten Commandments also just a quaint document? Just a chunk of stone?
Discord trumps team unity. Those who are different are deemed the enemy. With restraint out of favor, and with tolerance of others at an all-time low, I fear that we will have achieved the destruction of America from within should the economy completely collapse, just as Lincoln warned against — if for other reasons indirectly involving a certain form of labor-management relations – in his January 27, 1838 Address Before the Young Men's Lyceum of Springfield, Illinois:
At what point then is the approach of danger to be expected? I answer, if it ever reach us, it must spring up amongst us. It cannot come from abroad. If destruction be our lot, we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of freemen, we must live through all time, or die by suicide.
Insallah. Just in case, hand me one of those $55 signed bats. I may get a few swings in before this game ends.