The Republic of T.

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Digest for July 16th

Here are some of the people writing about some of the stuff I wish I had time to write about, for July 16th from 16:09 to 16:38:

  • Five Obamacare Myths – NYTimes.com

    "ON the subject of the Affordable Care Act — Obamacare, to reclaim the name critics have made into a slur — a number of fallacies seem to be congealing into accepted wisdom. Much of this is the result of unrelenting Republican propaganda and right-wing punditry, but it has gone largely unchallenged by gun-shy Democrats. The result is that voters are confronted with slogans and side issues — “It’s a tax!” “No, it’s a penalty!” — rather than a reality-based discussion. Let’s unpack a few of the most persistent myths. "

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  • Policy and the Personal – NYTimes.com

    "A lot of people inside the Beltway are tut-tutting about the recent campaign focus on Mitt Romney’s personal history — his record of profiting even as workers suffered, his mysterious was-he-or-wasn’t-he role at Bain Capital after 1999, his equally mysterious refusal to release any tax returns from before 2010. Some of the tut-tutters are upset at any suggestion that this election is about the rich versus the rest. Others decry the personalization: why can’t we just discuss policy?

    And neither group is living in the real world.

    First of all, this election really is — in substantive, policy terms — about the rich versus the rest. "

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  • Daily Kos: The Republicans’ killer lies on health care

    "This week, the GOP-controlled House of Representatives voted for the 33rd time in 18 months to repeal the Affordable Care Act. But even if that act of political theater is over for now, Republicans will keep repeating their favorite parts of the right-wing script well past Election Day in November. That their tried and untrue lines about "the largest tax increase in history," Obamacare "adding to the debt," a "government takeover of health care" (Politifact's 2010 Lie of the Year) and, of course, "death panels" (Politifact's 2009 Lie of the Year) have been thoroughly debunked won't prevent conservatives from continuing to mouth them.

    And that debate-distorting performance is literally sickening. Because while some of the GOP's best and brightest darkly warn that the Affordable Act may kill you, other Republicans insist the lives of some Americans aren't worth saving. Meanwhile, without the ACA fully in place, study after study after study show the status quo has a real body count, with up to 45,000 of the uninsured dying unnecessarily each year. Nevertheless, the party of Romney, Ryan, Boehner and McConnell would prevent 30 million people from gaining the health insurance they need and millions more the basic patient protections they deserve."

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  • Romney’s ‘Free Stuff’ Speech Is a New Low | Matt Taibbi | Rolling Stone

    "As far as free lunches go, we of course just witnessed the biggest government handout in history, one that Romney himself endorsed. Four and a half trillion dollars in bailout money already disbursed, trillions more still at risk in guarantees and loans, sixteen trillion dollars in emergency lending from the Federal Reserve, two trillion in quantitative easing, etc. etc. All of this money went to Romney’s pals in the Wall Street banks that for years helped Romney take over companies with mountains of borrowed cash. Now, after these banks crashed, executives at those same firms used those public funds to pay themselves massive salaries, which is exactly the opposite of “helping those who need help,” if you’re keeping score.

    That set of facts alone made the “free stuff” speech shockingly offensive. But the problem isn’t just that Romney’s wrong, and a hypocrite, and cynically furthering dangerous and irresponsible stereotypes in order to advance some harebrained electoral ploy involving white conservative voters. What makes it gross is the way he did it.

    Romney can’t even be mean with any honesty. Even when he’s pandering to viciousness, ignorance and racism, it comes across like a scaly calculation. A guy who feels like he has to take a dump on the N.A.A.C.P. in Houston in order to connect with frustrated white yahoos everywhere else is a guy who has absolutely no social instincts at all. Someone like Jesse Helms at least had a genuine emotional connection with his crazy-mean-stupid audiences. But Mitt Romney has to think his way to the lowest common denominator, which is somehow so much worse."

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  • Millennials and Economic Justice

    "A few weeks before I graduated, a statistic came out stating that more than fifty percent of recent college graduates were either unemployed or underemployed. But what does “employed” even mean these days? I’m employed—but I need to juggle multiple jobs and freelance gigs to make what begins to look like a salary, forget about benefits. I have friends that are employed full time with actual salaries—but their jobs wouldn’t even think about giving them any benefits. Does that make us underemployed? What the does underemployed even mean? I’m sure there is an official economic definition, but it still sounds like a phony excuse to me.

    Millennials are frequently cited as demographic statistics in articles—but the young people who are forgoing health insurance because they don’t have any other choice or are teetering on the precipice of defaulting on their loans because they ignored Sallie Mae for too long are rarely acknowledged as being trapped in a new culture of precariousness.

    Saving money for the future has become a hilarious joke. "

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  • Fifty shades of capitalism – Salon.com

    "This has been coming for some time. Ever since the Reagan era, from the factory to the office tower, the American workplace has been morphing for many into a tightly-managed torture chamber of exploitation and domination. Bosses strut about making stupid commands. Employees trapped by ridiculous bureaucratic procedures censor themselves for fear of getting a pink slip. Inefficiencies are everywhere. Bad management and draconian policies prop up the system of command and control where the boss is God and the workers are so many expendable units in the great capitalist machine. The iron handmaidens of high unemployment and economic inequality keep the show going.

    How did this happen? Economists known as “free-market fundamentalists” who claim Adam Smith as their forefather like to paint a picture of the economy as a voluntary system magically guided by an “invisible hand” toward outcomes that are good for most people. They tell us that our economy is a system of equal exchanges between workers and employers in which everybody who does her part is respected and comes out ahead.

    Something has obviously gone horribly wrong with the contract. Thieving CEOs get mega-yachts while hard-working Americans get stagnant wages, crappy healthcare, climate change, and unrelenting insecurity. Human potential is wasted, initiative punished and creativity starved."

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  • Five Reasons the Super-Rich Need Government More Than the Rest of Us | Common Dreams

    "Wealthy individuals and corporations want us to believe they've made it on their own, without the help of government or the American people. Billionaire financier Sanford Weill blustered, "We didn't rely on somebody else to build what we built." He was echoing the words of his famous predecessor, the formidable financier J. P. Morgan, who spouted, "I owe the public nothing."

    That's the bull of Wall Street. There are at least five good reasons why the wealthiest Americans need government as much as the rest of us, and probably more."

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  • Detroit Bus Cuts Reveal Depths Of National Public Transit Crisis

    "It's hot, nearly 100 degrees, and Ron Johnson, 56, has been waiting about 20 minutes at the bus stop on the corner of Warren and Woodward Ave. The stop is located near Wayne State University, and a young student is waiting with him. It's about 9 p.m. on a Thursday in late June. Johnson guesses it could be another 10 or 15 minutes before his bus arrives.

    "When I was growing up, they used to have no problem with the bus service," said Johnson, a retired chef, barber and cosmetologist. "They used to say you could light a cigarette and the bus would be there before you finished."

    Waits have been getting longer for many of the roughly 107,000 to 117,000 daily passengers who depend on Detroit's bus fleet. The city has lost about half of its bus service since 2005, according to Transportation Riders United, a rider advocacy group. Under the Detroit Department of Transportation's new "415" plan, the city has increased service along its four busiest routes, with buses now running every 15 minutes, but the new schedule necessitated tradeoffs elsewhere. In March, the department, whose management had recently been privatized by the city, shortened hours on more than 30 routes and discontinued all service between 1 a.m. and 4 a.m.

    The changes, which the city anticipates will save $40 million a year, have forced an estimated 3,200 nighttime travelers to come up with alternative plans for getting around town and left others waiting longer on the side of the road.

    "I'm hurting. A lot of times they don't come around, and when they do, they pass you by," said George Jones, 57, who was waiting with his wheelchair a few blocks away from Johnson at the Mack and Woodward stop, located on one of the "415" routes with increased service. "I can't do nothing but wait and read and weep and pray.""

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  • How to tackle homophobia, sexism and racism among minority groups | Rob Berkeley | Comment is free | guardian.co.uk

    "Homophobia is wrong. Sexism is wrong. Racism is wrong. It is a sign of progress that these statements now seem drawn from the school of the bleeding obvious, but increasingly they seem to be used in competition with each other. For many it is tempting to use someone else's perceived homophobia or sexism as justification for subjecting them to racism. I guess the argument goes that if I believe you to be sexist or a homophobe then the gloves are off and I am allowed to be racist towards you. But no one can win in a race to the bottom of this type.

    Mehdi Hasan highlighted the vitriolic abuse he receives when he seeks to address issues of anti-Muslim discrimination on the basis that he is homophobic – well he must be, he is a Muslim after all and everyone "knows" Muslims are homophobes. Presumed guilty, he is asked to prove his liberal credentials before his reasonable arguments are even given a hearing. The comments below the line reflect not just the willingness of people to argue that the right to live free from racism is conditional, but also the view people from some ethnic and religious minorities are somehow less worthy of rights and require higher levels of sanctions.

    On no account do I seek to justify the narrow-minded and scurrilous activities of some in our communities, black, white or Asian, who seek to perpetuate disadvantage on the basis of sexual identity, ethnic background or gender. I've long been a supporter of work to challenge homophobia in black communities such as the excellent Say My Name and UK Black Pride. Few would argue that because homophobia remains a problem in black communities that we should not tackle the racism that contributes to the fact that there will be three times as many young black men in prison this year than in Russell Group universities. Yet this seems to be the argument used in both coded and blatant forms about tackling anti-Muslim discrimination."

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  • "Everyone Only Wants Temps" | Mother Jones

    "The office opens at 5:30 a.m., but job seekers start appearing an hour early, hoping to snag a top spot on the sign-in sheet. By the time I arrive, 20 people, all but one of them men, are already inside—the space is essentially a waiting room with a long counter—standing or slouching in white plastic chairs. Behind the counter sits an African American woman with short hair and a bearing that suggests a low tolerance for bullshit. "I can't remember the last time I got eight hours sleep," a bleary-eyed man behind me announces to no one in particular.
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    After signing in, I grab a chair from a stack in the corner and take a seat, studying a sign that implores me to be "true" and "passionate" and "creative." In reality, passion and creativity have nothing to do with it. Labor Ready provides warm bodies for grunt work that pays minimum wage or thereabouts. "Here's a sledgehammer, there's the wall," is how Stacey Burke, the company's vice-president of communications, characterized the work to Businessweek back in 2006.
    Labor Ready's parent company saw profits soar 55 percent last year, and CEO Steve Cooper predicts "a bright future ahead."

    It's not a pretty formula, but it works. With 600 offices and a workforce of 400,000—more employees than Target or Home Depot—Labor Ready is the undisputed king of the blue-collar temp industry. Specializing in "tough-to-fill, high-turnover positions," the company dispatches people to dig ditches, demolish buildings, remove debris, stock giant fulfillment warehouses—jobs that take their toll on a body. (See "I Was a Warehouse Wage Slave.") And business is booming. Labor Ready's parent company, TrueBlue, saw its profits soar 55 percent last year, to $31 million, on $1.3 billion in sales. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that "employment services," which includes temporary labor, will remain among the fastest growing sectors through 2020. TrueBlue CEO Steve Cooper, who took home nearly $2 million last year, predicts "a bright future ahead."

    The woman behind the counter, whom I'll call Natalie, turns on a television and pops in a video that job-seekers must tolerate every morning no matter how many times they've seen it. On the screen, a man who lost his arm in a workplace accident reminds us to be safe. A sign on the wall to my left states the number of consecutive days the branch has remained accident-free—330, which, given the physical nature of the work, almost seems too good to be true."

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    The office opens at 5:30 a.m., but job seekers start appearing an hour early, hoping to snag a top spot on the sign-in sheet. By the time I arrive, 20 people, all but one of them men, are already inside—the space is essentially a waiting room with a long counter—standing or slouching in white plastic chairs. Behind the counter sits an African American woman with short hair and a bearing that suggests a low tolerance for bullshit. "I can't remember the last time I got eight hours sleep," a bleary-eyed man behind me announces to no one in particular.

    </div><div><div><div></div><div><script type="text/javascript"> document.write(DisplayAds(Drupal.settings.denali.ad_locations_str + "!" + "Middle1", null, null, null)); </script><script src="http://oascentral.motherjones.com/RealMedia/ads/adstream_jx.ads/motherjones.com/politics/page.html/1141830227@Bottom1,Middle1,Position4,Right,Right1,Top1,x06%21Middle1?XE&PrimaryTag=Corporations&PrimaryTag=Economy&PrimaryTag=Human+Rights&PrimaryTag=Labor&PrimaryTag=Longreads&PrimaryTag=Top+Stories&XE" language="javascript"><!– –></script>ADVERTISEMENT<!– –></div>

    Advertise on MotherJones.com

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    After signing in, I grab a chair from a stack in the corner and take a seat, studying a sign that implores me to be "true" and "passionate" and "creative." In reality, passion and creativity have nothing to do with it. Labor Ready provides warm bodies for grunt work that pays minimum wage or thereabouts. "Here's a sledgehammer, there's the wall," is how Stacey Burke, the company's vice-president of communications, characterized the work to Businessweek back in 2006.

     <div>Labor Ready's parent company saw profits soar 55 percent last year, and CEO Steve Cooper predicts "a bright future ahead."</div> 

    It's not a pretty formula, but it works. With 600 offices and a workforce of 400,000—more employees than Target or Home Depot—Labor Ready is the undisputed king of the blue-collar temp industry. Specializing in "tough-to-fill, high-turnover positions," the company dispatches people to dig ditches, demolish buildings, remove debris, stock giant fulfillment warehouses—jobs that take their toll on a body. (See "I Was a Warehouse Wage Slave.") And business is booming. Labor Ready's parent company, TrueBlue, saw its profits soar 55 percent last year, to $31 million, on $1.3 billion in sales. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that "employment services," which includes temporary labor, will remain among the fastest growing sectors through 2020. TrueBlue CEO Steve Cooper, who took home nearly $2 million last year, predicts "a bright future ahead."

     

    The woman behind the counter, whom I'll call Natalie, turns on a television and pops in a video that job-seekers must tolerate every morning no matter how many times they've seen it. On the screen, a man who lost his arm in a workplace accident reminds us to be safe. A sign on the wall to my left states the number of consecutive days the branch has remained accident-free—330, which, given the physical nature of the work, almost seems too good to be true.

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