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Comment Archives: stories: News & Opinion: Raising the Bar

Re: “It's Time for the Union Fighting to Stop

First, full disclosure: I am a member and a shop steward in NUHW. The real problem with both elections, 2010 and last week, is the framing of the question. SEIU framed it this way: why would you go with a small upstart union with no power, when you have always been with us, a large, powerful union that has won you great contracts?" This is a distortion. SEIU did what amounts to a hostile takeover when it put the local in trusteeship, and the leaders who were erroneously charged with malfeasance and thrown out formed NUHW. They are the strong leadership that Kaiser workers always had, and the trustees, who are now the leadership under SEIU, have been working with Kaiser behind closed doors to erode the good contracts that the ousted leaders won for the workers. So NUHW is not a rogue union trying to steal members from SEIU. NUHW is the Kaiser workers old union, reconstituted after a hostile takeover, trying to rescue Kaiser workers from a union that wants to sell them out to make the boss happy. Estimates are that SEIU's agreed cuts to retirement has saved Kaiser something like $1.8 Billion already, at the workers' expense. Meanwhile, Kaiser, supposedly "non-profit," makes larger and larger profits each year. The Kaiser workers who, after last week's vote, remain stuck in SEIU, stand to lose healthcare benefits, watch jobs be subcontracted, and other protections eroded. SEIU sided with the Healthcare industry in lobbying against staffing ratios that protect patient care.

I am glad to be represented by NUHW. Time will tell, but this reminds me of the Pacifica / KPFA civil ware several years ago. That fight went the other way and Goliath was pushed back by David. We are still a David, fighting the Goliath of Kaiser and its ally SEIU, who will make contract concessions to Kaiser at the expense of its own members. Last week's vote is being investigated for irregularities similar to the ones that prompted NLRB to void the 2010 election. I do think that the voters were lied to and intimidated. The intimidation seems not to have been as much of a factor this time, but the lies were rife and oft-repeated, so that in the end, SEIU was believed. The workers and their patients are the ones who will suffer for this, and SEIU and Kaiser, both large corporations scratching each others' backs, will profit.

24 likes, 30 dislikes
Posted by Adam Front on 05/08/2013 at 6:47 AM

Re: “Pat Your Neighbor on the Back

Thanks for pausing to reflect on these important victories, Jay. It is easy to be so focused on staving off the next wave of attempts to deprive Americans of decent living standards that we forget to recognize our successes. Now we need to make sure that the constituencies you listed hold the president accountable for his actions. The election is over, and "the other guy is so much more awful" is no longer a reason to accept mediocrity.

Posted by Lisa Lindsley on 11/24/2012 at 5:07 PM

Re: “Where Is Our Katniss Everdeen?

I really resisted reading this book because the premise is so disgusting, but when I did read it, I think it is a very good dystopian vision of the path we are on. In addition to the Katniss character, the Peeta character is fascinating when he says that he hopes the struggle for survival will not change who he is. Will our identity as a nation and as individuals survive this struggle?

Posted by Lisa Lindsley on 10/10/2012 at 1:26 PM

Re: “The One Percent Doubles Down With Paul Ryan

Neither the author of this piece nor the Occupy folks represent anywhere near 99% of the country and never have. This is just the same old stale socialist rhetoric of the intellectually & morally bankrupt Left that has failed in every place on the globe.
Despite Ryan's past admiration for Ayn Rand he has a statist voting on all the bailouts, civil liberties issues and Pentagon socialism. He's no Ron Paul.
See Lew for recent critiques of Ryan from the libertarian viewpoint. He's controlled by neocons who are anathema to the Objectivist philosophy of Rand and the anarcho-capitalism of Murray Rothbard.

3 likes, 10 dislikes
Posted by Caryn Goddard on 08/15/2012 at 10:38 AM

Re: “Romney's Bain Capital Is a Job Killer

The author in this treatise failed to mention another type of financing - the type used taking OPM (other peoples' money) to finance a company in the hope that its performance can be turned around and profits achieved. The author failed to mention the Obama government's loans to favored companies like solar panel producer Solyndra (almost 1/2 Billion taxpayer-provided dollars), and other so-called "Green" ventures. Unlike with Bain-type private-sector financing, not one of the taxpayers whose money was involved in such "Obama" loans or financing had the opportunity to make a choice in those actions. They were dragged in as a function of a government decision - with no pre-disclosure of information and recourse for its failure. As to the author's lofty aspiration that investors should be held accountable for the impacts upon employees and others harmed when such plans go awry, one only can look to the more than 1000 employees of Solyndra who hit the street with nothing but their cardboard boxes when that company went under. Where was the "social conscience" of Obama's type financing in that? Where was Obama's personal responsibility? The author says that "when investments are made that kill jobs and communities, it would not be that hard to set up a system to force those who are responsible to pay for needed unemployment assistance, health care, real job training, and to compensate the communities for lost tax revenues. All involved should personally have to pay for this, from the private-equity experts to the pension fund administrators who hire them and the trustees who approve the job-killing investments. Maybe then all these folks would admit the downstream effects of their actions and focus on investments that create good jobs and build healthy communities." So is it now the responsibility of the taxpayers who funded Obama's investments to additionally fund this? Perhaps it should be Obama's (and his staff's) personal responsibility to fund such social ambitions from their own pockets. In summary, the author described here a "herd" of financing elephants - naming the Bain Capital type animal as the worst elephant in the herd - while ignoring a huge elephant in the room - and the absolute worst elephant of all - the government animal that gives its taxpayer investors no choice at all and then leaves the scene of its failures with no responsibility whatsoever for the human toll and other results of its actions. Don't be hoodwinked by this magician-like vanishing act on the part of the author. It is politically motivated to deceive.

1 like, 1 dislike
Posted by William H. Thompson on 05/31/2012 at 12:53 PM

Re: “Romney's Bain Capital Is a Job Killer

like tnt

Posted by Richard Johnson on 05/30/2012 at 7:27 AM

Re: “The Anti-Bullying Movement Misses the Mark

I think you are on to something here. If American capitalism has morphed into a zero-sum game, where Americans think only the strongest will survive, and there is no regard for our collective well being, how else can we expect kids to behave?

2 likes, 1 dislike
Posted by Lisa Lindsley on 05/20/2012 at 8:22 PM

Re: “One Big Happy Elite Family

another good reason not to listen to the overrated and mostly boring NPR

Posted by Alan Lopez on 05/17/2012 at 7:08 PM

Re: “One Big Happy Elite Family

I take it those at the party were the 1% of those in the media who can afford such antics - so they are not much different from the 1% they deride with biased coverage and their all-too-liberal slant. It's not journalism - it's business. Oh well, what are we to do with an industry that at least once had to pay for its ink when it drowned the nation in its bias - but now with the demise of hard print, their "digital ink" costs them even less to flood the land with their opinionated penmanship. After all, their industry is about to profit from the most over-spent presidential campaign in history (where all ad rates skyrocket from demand for space) - and their biggest spender, Obama, needs a good party to ensure they get every extra dime from his side. So what's the use in complaining about the media when they throw a party with their inner circles that counters their image of objective, hard-working journalists? They are in it for the power and the money - no different from many others in business who struggle to stay out of the national economic malaise that affects most of their readers. Kim Kardashian and her conservative cash-green evening gown and diamond bracelet sent a subtle message: It's all about the green of money!

1 like, 1 dislike
Posted by William H. Thompson on 05/16/2012 at 11:04 PM

Re: “The Anti-Bullying Movement Misses the Mark

Focusing on developing empathy and compassion as a cultural value is fine, but how the school or workplace responds to complaints is the only fair and effective way to reduce the harm to individuals and society.
This commentary sums it up better than anything I have read.

What works to stop bullying
Steve Johnson
Wednesday, December 22, 2010
SF Chronicle

We've had a year of polarized debate about bullying. On one side we have those who believe the bullying that resulted in the suicide of Rutgers University student Tyler Clementi is a form of anti-gay discrimination and that those who disagree are homophobes. On the other side are those who are convinced that liberals and gay rights groups are advancing some kind of "homosexual agenda" under the guise of an anti-bullying curriculum.

One thing is clear: We're not going to stop bullying in our schools until we stop bullying each other over how to address the problem. Let's make a New Year's pledge to talk about bullying the way we'd like to see our kids talk to each other. Let's focus on proven strategies that can accomplish what all people of goodwill want: an end to the harassment of vulnerable children.

Here's what we know works to reduce bullying in schools:

-- Educating, not just punishing, the perpetrators

-- Training bystanders to be allies of the victim

-- Not allowing the isolation or taunting of any child for any reason.

But these simple steps seem not to satisfy those who must fit bullying into their preconceived ideas about what is wrong with American education. They tend to be divided into two camps:

Camp 1: Bullying is an anti-social, aggressive act by an isolated individual, which should be dealt with as an individual behavioral offense by punishing the bully. The call for more of a systemic response is just an excuse to smuggle a homosexual or other left-wing "tolerance agenda" into the schools.

Camp 2: Bullying is all about the culture of the school, and school culture is a reflection of intolerance in the larger society. What's called for is a complete re-socialization of the students through a tolerance curriculum.

Were there any evidence supporting either of these positions, we might be able to declare which camp is right and then proceed to conquer bullying. But in fact, a long history of research on bullying shows neither is an effective approach.

Bullies do, indeed, engage in anti-social behavior. They need to be confronted with that behavior and told why it is inappropriate, and they need to experience negative consequences for what they have done.

But punishing them is not enough. Children need to be told what they should have done instead of bullying, and they need to commit to doing that in the future. Unless aggressive children go through this kind of process, their anti-social behavior will increase rather than decrease.

By the same token, a strategy of re-socialization is also insufficient. Yes, bullies often reflect the prejudices and intolerance of the larger society. But a re-socialization approach assumes that we can change people and their beliefs in a way that no social science tells us we can do. Most of the anti-bullying programs based on re-socialization have no social science behind them; there's no valid research that suggests that they are helpful.

Unlike approaches based on ideology, successful anti-bullying programs are quite practical and concrete: They use anonymous surveys to sample the current climate within the school. Then they go about changing the culture of the school by working primarily on bystander behavior. They make it OK for students to report bullying by altering the notion of what students consider tattling.

Successful anti-bullying efforts address precursor behaviors to bullying, like exclusion, with rules that children understand - "You can't say, 'You can't play.' " And, while good programs do not blame the victims, they do include social skills instruction for children who are picked on to help reduce the chances they will continue to be victimized.

Most important, successful programs change the bystander behavior of adults. They challenge false beliefs among teachers and parents about the nature of bullying - that being bullied "builds character," that "boys will be boys." In short, they make clear that adults must not stand by when bullying takes place.

None of these components of a successful anti-bullying program is particularly difficult to learn or expensive to implement. What these programs do require, though, is for both camps in the debate to put their ideologies aside long enough to put the proven strategies to work.

Steve Johnson, a former teacher and principal, is director of character education at Santa Clara University's Markkula Center for Applied Ethics. He is the creator of the Character-Based Literacy Curriculum, which is widely used in California counties.

5 likes, 0 dislikes
Posted by Laura Menard on 05/04/2012 at 1:56 PM

Re: “The Anti-Bullying Movement Misses the Mark

just to say, i got bullied all through mid-high school, it was horrible, i even willingly put my self in a mental hospital cause i thought something was wrong with me, only cause i got to the point of wanting to kill my self, cause i couldnt handle it any more. it was/ too much hate all at one time, and i had to deal with that for what, 4-6 years?! that was just rediculous, but yeah ive been tere, done that and i never want to be in that situation ever again.

1 like, 0 dislikes
Posted by Travis Jackson on 05/03/2012 at 6:23 AM

Re: “The Anti-Bullying Movement Misses the Mark

There used to be a time when you could get away from bullying. But it's not that way anymore. For kids that are being bullied, it now follows them home and everywhere because so much of the bullying happens online. Lots of kids turn to drastic measures to either protect themselves or hurt themselves. It is so tragic. A 13 year old from my hometown just committed suicide this weekend as a result of bullying. I talk about online bullying and suicide here:…

1 like, 0 dislikes
Posted by Heather Harrison on 05/02/2012 at 10:53 AM

Re: “Where Is Our Katniss Everdeen?

Well, having known Mike Godwin since before he coined the term, I regard it as a major pain that it is now impossible to make legitimate comparisons of anything, however deserving, to the Nazis, because of the proverbial law. And I also think the Occupy terminology, however handy, is a vast oversimplification that lends itself to sloganeering and tantrum-throwing rather than thoughtful discourse and actual solutions, so I tend to think it's considerably overused already.

Posted by Mary Eisenhart on 04/05/2012 at 2:54 PM

Re: “Where Is Our Katniss Everdeen?

Mary -- Thank you for the comment. I have been thinking about this issue myself; it is really quite important. Language matters; and, certain phrases get improperly devalued or improperly elevated in today's culture. As to Godwin's Law itself, my quick Google search found a healthy debate about it.

For me the most important issue is how do we characterize the root problem in today's society. (Of course, inquiring minds can certainly disagree as to what that problem is, and whether the arguments that follow the use of the phrase have merit.) I think the "One Percent v. 99 Percent" is the best way to quickly explain the underlying reality of the mess we are in, crystallizing this root problem in a culturally understandable way. Here, the Occupy Movement has done a great service. So, this is why I use it.

Thanks for your reading and thanks again for taking the time to write.


Posted by Jay Youngdahl on 04/05/2012 at 9:58 AM

Re: “Where Is Our Katniss Everdeen?

"One percent" and "99 percent" are rapidly attaining Godwin's Law status in that as soon as they crop up in a discussion you know it's been given over to facile cliché and it's time to turn the page. Surely it is possible to express the concepts in fresh language.

0 likes, 4 dislikes
Posted by Mary Eisenhart on 04/04/2012 at 11:06 AM

Re: “Where Is Our Katniss Everdeen?

The point that the health care debate is about us and them is well written and logical. They are the one percent who control and of the rest are us. The poor are exploited and marginalized in favor of the rich. We are moving toward a world in which human life is not valued except monetarily. I agree, human life is more important than money.

That which I find missing in this analysis is that the health care bill provides for the largest expansion of abortion in the US ever. Human life is more important than money, so, you may add me to those who want the health care bill rescinded.

Matthew Vogler

3 likes, 3 dislikes
Posted by Matthew Joseph Patrick on 04/04/2012 at 9:01 AM

Re: “Barbara Lee Gets It

Staff Sgt Bales was making $68,000 a year including combat pay. When our young men and women have no other economic opportunity but to expose themselves multiple times to trauma from which they will not likely recover, can we really call ourselves a just society?

2 likes, 1 dislike
Posted by Lisa Lindsley on 03/26/2012 at 11:22 AM

Re: “Real Change is Complicated and Messy

Strobe, you continue to ignore what is said in rebuttal and jump into a dogmatic and erroneous rant against anarchists.

The system is fatally broken and can only be fixed by direct democracy from citizens. Representative government has failed. A direct democracy run socialism is acceptable to me.

You're a socialist, so how are YOU pushing the system towards socialism? You have plenty of criticism towards those of us trying to push this country towards direct democracy. Where's your creative solutions and actions toward that end?

0 likes, 1 dislike
Posted by Sandy Sanders on 03/24/2012 at 5:15 PM

Re: “Real Change is Complicated and Messy

Anarchists refuse to channel the protest energies they attract, systematically obstructing calls to craft meaningful economic demands. Occupy activists first said it was too soon to introduce demands. Then, after a month passed, anarchists dismissed these calls as an attempt by corporate media to discredit the movement. We wondered about demands, the media echoed that, and suddenly Occupy anarchists dismissed us as media-brainwashed goons trying to infiltrate or undermine their movement. Such dissembling arguments keep Occupy stagnating in a miasma of provocation, where grandstanding anarchists breathe most freely.

They stare back with credulity, asking, What do our critics want?

I have no ties to Stand Up Oakland. I am the 36 percent of Americans who view socialism “favorably” (according to a 2010 Gallup poll taken before anarchist shadows were glimpsed at the edges of the spotlight). My case, since Sandy asks, is a humble history beginning in the anti-apartheid movement and writing for leftist publications. During this time, I broke bread with anarchists of varying stripes and know what they read, how they think, and how they delude themselves.

O, the childish sophism! Did you know that there's really no such thing as a "flower"? No, there many different kinds of flowers, and each one is different! Anarchists love to confuse their debate opponents by disallowing any generalization about their ideology. Simultaneously, they peddle grotesque caricatures of media workers, police, and agents provocateur. (Certainly law enforcement agencies have infiltrated Occupy to gather information, but what capable detective or intelligence agency would waste time hiring agents provocateur into a movement lead by people who sanction throwing bottles at riot policemen?)

Many socialists just dismiss anarchism as an aside, liberals have no familiarity with the tradition at all, and few journalists have shown the intellectual capacity to even identify its influence, though sometimes good reporting captures a whiff of their stench. (Easy, that's only a metaphor, Stinky.) Many fine activists, commentators and writers are addressing issues of economic inequality and police abuse, and I'm happy to leave this to more able hands. But there is a gaping void of focused literature about anarchists written by non-anarchists. I will do my small, independent part to change that.

Listen, Anarchist! Make some demands or get out of Oakland's streets!

1 like, 3 dislikes
Posted by Strobe Fischbyne on 03/24/2012 at 11:12 AM

Re: “Barbara Lee Gets It

This comment was removed because it violates our policy against anonymous comments. It will be reposted if the commenter chooses to use his or her real name.

1 like, 0 dislikes
Posted by Editor on 03/23/2012 at 10:38 AM

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