Bosses’ war on unions frees markets, not workers

From Worker’s World: http://www.workers.org/2011/us/bosses_war_0324/

By Caleb T. Maupin

Published Mar 19, 2011 10:25 AM

It is easy to understand why the wealthy U.S. ruling class, whose profits grow the less they pay workers, would oppose unions. Unions are the forces that counter their endless drive for profits and seek to fight on behalf of their victims.

However, it is outrageous when anti-union forces like Gov. Scott Walker in Wisconsin and Gov. John Kasich in Ohio do so in the name of “freedom” and “fighting against big government.”

The ultra-right has created a false narrative in which President Barack Obama is a totalitarian bent on destroying the “freedom” of individuals. If this is the case, why then do they oppose unions? In all their talk of “freedom,” do they not realize that unions are nothing more than an expression of the basic “freedom of association”?

Do these “libertarians” really believe that “small government” should be able to prevent working people from joining together to advocate for their own needs and interests?

The Tea Party, with all its rhetoric about “freedom.” seeks to abolish the right to strike for public workers. What sense does that make?

A strike is simply a refusal of workers to work. When workers feel that in exchange for their labor, they are not being given a fair price or decent working conditions, they strike, choosing not to sell their labor until they receive better compensation or their needs are met.

The right to strike is greatly limited by laws like the Taft-Hartley Act and New York’s Taylor Law. However, isn’t the right to sell or not sell one’s labor a tenet of the “free market” and “freedom of exchange”?

Do these forces, with all their rhetoric about “freedom,” really want the government to force workers to sell their labor for whatever price is offered? Do they want workers to be forced by the government to work against their will in an exchange with which they don’t agree?

The talk against unions, whether they’re in the public or private sector, has nothing to do with “freedom.” It is about defending the wealthy against those who create that wealth.

Since the dawn of capitalism, there have been many “unions” and “associations” of the capitalists. An early predecessor of the U.S. government was the House of Burgesses in Virginia. This was nothing more than an association of plantation owners, who formed a “union” to make it easier for them to grow rich from the sweat of enslaved peoples and employees in the old South.

In modern times the National Association of Manufacturers, the National Chamber of Commerce and other “associations” of the wealthy and powerful agree on collective action all the time to help keep their profits flowing and prevent workers from organizing and winning justice.

What are the Democrat and Republican parties but “unions” of the rich and powerful, arguing merely about strategy for running the profit-based system and keeping their class in power?

Opposition to workers’ unions — whether from rightists like Walker and Kasich or liberals like New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo — is not based on an ideological belief in “freedom” or opposition to “massive spending.” It based on outright class warfare between the super-rich and the working people who create all the world’s wealth.

As the system dives into crisis, the workers are being told their right to unionize must be sacrificed to keep the system intact. Nothing is more important in the face of this assault than for workers to form and strengthen their own “associations” and “unions” and fight in their own interests against the united efforts of the bosses.

When associations of the workers and oppressed replace the “collective rule” of the capitalists and their various “associations” and create a state of their own, that is called socialism. It is easy to understand why not just the Tea Party, but all representatives of the greatly protected union of exploiting capitalists and bankers, hates that word so much.


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NUS Women’s Campaign condemns transphobia in the Equality Act

From Transactivist:  http://transactivist.wordpress.com/2011/03/18/nus-womens-campaign-condemns-transphobia-in-the-equality-act/

By transactivist

March 18, 2011

Student representatives at the annual NUS Women’s Campaign Conference voted overwhelmingly in favour of a motion that condemns transphobia in the Equality Act and within the women’s movement yesterday.

The motion in question – entitled “Transmisogyny in the Equality Act” – addressed the horrific exemption which ensures that:

“A counsellor working with victims of rape might have to be a woman and not a transsexual person, even if she has a gender recognition certificate, in order to avoid causing them further distress.”

The trans community has blogged about this exemption at length, exploring how it could result in trans people being denied access to numerous public services, and how it massively undermines the Gender Recognition Act. We’ve also discovered that the clause in question was pushed by certain individuals representing Rape Crisis Centres.

It’s really positive that a feminist organisation is keen to unite behind trans rights. It should, of course, be a given that this is the case since we fight the same fight against patriarchy and gender essentialism, but the attitude of those who pushed the offensive clause in the Equality Act shows that we cannot take trans-positive feminism for granted. I was therefore really pleased that NUS Women’s Campaign policy now includes a commitment to lobby the government on changing this unfair law alongside the aforementioned condemnation.

Continue reading at:  http://transactivist.wordpress.com/2011/03/18/nus-womens-campaign-condemns-transphobia-in-the-equality-act/

Wisconsin: Time to Grow our Souls

From Common Dreams: http://www.commondreams.org/view/2011/03/20-6

by Grace Lee Boggs
Published on Sunday, March 20, 2011 by CommonDreams.org

The world’s eyes are on the escalating struggle to defend the collective bargaining rights of Wisconsin public workers. Some people have even called the growing mobilization a transformational movement,

But transformational organizing takes more than growing numbers.

Revisiting the 1955–56 Montgomery Bus Boycott can help us understand what it takes.

In the 1950s humanity was at a watershed. During World War II nearly 50 million people, more than half of them civilians, had been killed, to win the war, we had created and dropped an atom bomb on the people of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Yet Americans were celebrating our winning this “good war” and even proclaiming the American century because our factories were busy producing the goods that the war-devastated factories of Europe and Japan were unable to produce.

<snip>

In 2011 we are again at a watershed that calls for growing our souls. The U.S. empire, which sustained the American Dream of upper mobility and middle class lives for all Americans but also included supporting the world’s Mubaraks, is dead.

That means we have to create a New American Dream. To do this we need to look in the mirror and begin making the radical revolution of values that Dr. King called for in his 1967 anti-Vietnam War “Break the Silence” speech.  To make this revolution:

We, the American people, must acknowledge that we have reached the end of the empire that has sustained the old  American dream. We must not only struggle against the concentration of wealth at the top of American society. We must acknowledge that we have enjoyed many of our middle class comforts and conveniences at the expense of the Earth and of other people here and around the world. We must begin to live more simply and responsibly so that others can simply live.

Complete article at:  http://www.commondreams.org/view/2011/03/20-6

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What’s the source of these anti-union measures?

From America Blog:  http://www.americablog.com/2011/03/whats-source-of-these-anti-union.html

Meet ALEC, a right-wing group that writes state laws for Republicans

by Gaius Publius on
3/20/2011

If it seems that all of this state-by-state union-stripping legislation is coordinated … that’s because it is coordinated. Also pre-written, gift-wrapped and hand-delivered.

Meet ALEC, the American Legislative Exchange Council, a national right-wing group that writes “model” legislation for its members. Who are it’s members? Republican state legislators and private organizations (think ExxonMobil).

Because ALEC is very secretive, only members get to know who its members are, what goes on at meetings, and what legislation is being authored and pushed. But sometimes the light shines through, and sometimes they own up.

About the union-busting laws, ALEC owned up. The New York Times, in the (next-to-last) paragraph of this story, fingers ALEC as the anti-union coordinating group (my emphasis throughout):

Continue reading at:  http://www.americablog.com/2011/03/whats-source-of-these-anti-union.html

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For Prostitutes, Is Murder an Occupational Hazard?

From Mother Jones: http://motherjones.com/mixed-media/2011/03/what-makes-prostitute

By Titania Kumeh
Fri Mar. 18, 2011

As MoJo reporter Mac McClelland pointed out earlier this week, murdered prostitutes don’t often make the news these days. When they do, their deaths may be dismissed as more occupational hazard than crime. Here, for example, is how St. Francis County sheriff Bobby May explained the fatal shooting of trans prostitute 25-year-old Marcal Camero Tye: “You know, prostitutes, these types of folks—it’s a risk. Whenever you’re soliciting, things of this nature happen sometimes.” Translation: If Tye hadn’t been trans and/or a prostitute, the murder would have most likely never happened. But why is it so easy to deny a prostitute’s right to safety?

Some sex worker advocates say that if the media did more work to humanize prostitutes, violence against this demographic would occur less frequently. Cyndee Clay, the executive director of Helping Individual Prostitutes Survive, is one. The Washington, D.C.-based counseling and outreach center reaches about 7,000 sex workers a year and has a 24-hour crisis assistance center for sex workers who have been victims of crime and/or who want to transition out of sex work. A few years ago, HIPS submitted its study of police abuse and misconduct cases against trans and female clients to Amnesty International. And recently, it helped prepare a United Nations report vying for sex worker rights in the United States. Clay spoke with me about prostitute safety, decriminalization, and the real reason people get into sex work.

Mother Jones: Based on the people you’ve worked with at HIPS, why do most people get into sex work?

Cyndee Clay: There’s not one story of why people do commercial sexual exchange for money, whether that’s formalized sex work or whether that’s entering into a relationship where you know that being intimate with someone means that you’re going to receive some financial assistance or shelter. I think what we do see is that the more economically disadvantaged or educationally disadvantaged, or the less power you have in the community already, tends to increase the likelihood that you’re going to be or feel coerced into sex

Continue reading at:  http://motherjones.com/mixed-media/2011/03/what-makes-prostitute

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Bullied

I am becoming an old woman.  I am 63 and all my close sister friends from the 1960s and early 1970s are dead.  I am the old crone, the teller of the oral histories.

We all shared a common history beyond our have been born transsexual or transgender.  Every one of us was an abused child.

The abuse started young. When strangers miss sexed us and called us pretty little girls our parents punished us, the rationalization was they had to make a man out of us.

Many adult gay men and lesbian women describe the same sort of abuse that was aimed at enforcing proper gender role behavior.

One of my favorite writers, John Rechy has said that LGBT/TQ kids are the only minority born to their oppressors.  They are the children of their first persecutors.  As children we are, each and every one of us, “the only one”.

We learn early to hate ourselves for what we are, because manifesting signs of being part of the queer alphabet is the one flaw parents will not dismiss in the name of love.  Sometimes it seems the only flaw that will result in the total withdrawal of love is queerness, being different in sex or gender even long before sexuality emerges in a recognizable form.

There is all sorts of bullying and intimidation.  Bullies wear many different disguises and can be an individual or  powerful institutions such as the police, schools, a religion or a nation.

Bullying can be individual, small group or institutional.

The recent focus on kids being bullied for queerness focuses on individual and small group acts.

Doing so individualizes the problem, which is actually a manifestation of far greater cultural issues.

A Greater Problem

Every time I put up an article regarding another LGBT/TQ kid committing suicide I put up an “It Gets Better” video. When I do so I  feel hypocritical, like I am mouthing some sort of post-modern/new age lie.

Because I am pretending that there is some sort of magic age and after that point the bullying goes away and it doesn’t it just turns into systematic and institutionally supported discrimination.

Therein lays the problem. Like other minorities and women LGBT/TQ folks have all sorts of respected, powerful institutions supporting the bullying that grows up to be systematic discrimination.

If you have ever heard the phrase, “special rights” used in reference to our struggles for equal rights and privilege to those that are automatically granted to straight white Christian men who are middle class or higher then you have witnessed systematic bullying/discrimination.

Since the election of Reagan and the shift to the winner take all market economy in the 1980s people in certain nations have gotten far meaner and more alienated from not just the world but from their neighbors and colleagues.  Rugged individualism for the beaten down and institutionally supported discrimination and bullying for those who do the beating.

The idea of collective action in opposition to such institutionalized violence is anathema to  even those who are oppressed.  The tribalization brought on by the ideology of multi-culturalism and the ascendancy of identity politics means such a close focus on a shopping list of interests with an unwillingness to engage with and support equally abused people whose profile doesn’t exactly match our own.

The tribalism of multi-culturalism is a form of group rugged individualism.

Add to all this the cancer of pacifism as the only course of action.  People have bought into the myth of Gandhi’s non-violence ending British rule in India while ignoring the role played by World War II in ending European colonization around the world.  People cite Martin Luther King as the reason for the passage of civil rights laws while ignoring the role played by violent black up-risings/rebellions in cities across the nation.

We live in a society that glorifies abusers, rapists, torturers as warriors. We are told to be non-violent in the face of severe physical and emotional violence. Warned that fighting back is as bad as initiating the violence.

So we suffer in silence. We turn the contempt and rage at our victimization inward.

We ask how? What value is there to living a life where I am denied the things others take for granted.

Langston Hughes asked, what becomes of a dream deferred? Does it dry up like a raisin in the sun, or putrefy or does it explode?

But for transsexual or transgender people the bullying never ends.

Several Examples:

When we read of the murder of a transgender sex worker, who worked the streets we say, “Oh, it was because she was a sex worker and deceived the man.” As though that justifies his murdering her.  Or if we work the phones we say, “It was because she was working the streets.

Never mind the intersect between misogyny and transphobia that makes all women prey even as it elevates certain classes of women to a status of more valued and protected while buying into a patriarchal/hierarchical structure that deem certain classes of women as worthless and sanctions violence against them.

Then comes a case like the murder in Brazil.  I guess the “down by law” rule applies, the rule that says no matter how hard you try to rise above the status of pariah you are still a worthless human.

That sort of thing beats us down.

This last week I encountered the writings, if you can call their frothing at the mouth, filth spewing hate filled rantings writing, and not the regurgitation of historical blood libels.  One was from a misogynistic Taliban Catholic and the other was from a self ordained “young radical feminist” (who uses an alias).  Funny how the writings of this pair are virtually identical.  Even funnier is how they come at a time when  the right to have control over one’s own body is under assault by both the Taliban Christians and the Rabid Right Wing.

I was just coming out during the height of Second Wave Feminism.  When both access to abortion and access to treatment for transsexualism/transgenderism were both matters of contention.  We thought we had won those rights only to see the gaining of that access to the right of self-determination was only be the opening in a battle which has gone on for over 40 years.

Bullying in the name of Radical Feminism

This has always be a huge What The Fuck? with me. What is feminist about beating up on what is at most a tiny minority of people both assigned female at birth and assigned male at birth who are so uncomfortable in the sex and gender role they were assigned that they grow up needing to change that sex and gender role  in the case of people with transsexualism or just the expected gender role in the case of people with transgenderism?

This one is like saying that in order  to be  a “radical feminist” one must engage in the abuse of animals.  Perhaps the analogy seems meaningless but the initial premise that one of the vital tenets of radical feminism is the denial of the humanity of TS/TG people is pretty much insane as well.

Mostly though is sucks to have some one who claims to be a radical feminist bully me and my sisters out of the lesbian and/or feminist communities based on arguments that are identical in word and spirit to those of the fucktards at NARTH and sound like direct quotes from a Taliban Christian misogynist, who would like to impose Christian Sharia on American women.

What the fuck?

The weirdest argument of all is that TG/TS people, particularly my sisters are somehow agents of the patriarchy who are tools used oppress women.

Perhaps before calling oneself a “Radical Feminist” it might just behoove one to read Frederich Engels “On The Origins of the Family”

Otherwise “Right Wing Feminist” might be a vastly more accurate label than Radical Feminist.

I’m an old radical, I’ve gone to jail for my causes, stood my ground in the face of police brutality.  As the song goes, “I shall not be moved.” or bullied.

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Atheism grows among youth, high school students

From People’s World: http://www.peoplesworld.org/atheism-grows-among-youth-high-school-students/

February 18 2011

While religion has found itself in a nationwide downturn, with 15 percent of the American people saying they don’t follow any particular faith, the trend is far more pronounced – nearly double, with a corresponding figure of almost 30 percent – among young people. And, despite pressures from parents and school districts, these youth are coming out.

For the past few years, atheist and other freethinker groups have been putting advertisements on subways, buses and billboards across the country and across the world. Now, the Secular Student Alliance, which already has chapters on 200 college campuses nationwide, announced that it would work to help high school-aged free thinkers express themselves.

The SSA received a grant in 2010, and used the money to hire organizer J.T. Eberhard to help with SSA’s new effort, which would start with establishing local chapters at 50 high schools across the country.

Continue reading at:  http://www.peoplesworld.org/atheism-grows-among-youth-high-school-students/