I enjoyed President Obama's speech last night. Honestly, it is the first State of the Union Speech I have ever listened to in full. While Regan could turn a good phrase, I never cared for what he was saying. I did not like him, I did not like his policies. George H.W. Bush was a decent speaker, but I was far too busy with College and working to spend much time in front of the Boob Tube. That was before the days of the internet and dial-up BBS (Bulletin Board Services) were the best you could get. During the Clinton daze (not a typo) I was too busy actually working. That was, of course, after we came out of the anemic recovery of the 1990 recession. (I will pause here to add that for some people, even in Silicon Valley, that recovery never occurred. If a worker was technically skilled they could command a decent wage, but the majority of our service workers were left in the dust. And even then, most of the jobs generated were temporary positions. But no one stopped to ask if there would be employment when the digital music stopped. There wasn't employment for many. Many just slipped away into other lower paying work. This was lost on the Libertarian John Stossel). Then came "King George the Usurper." He could deliver a speech well enough, but I had no interest in what he had to say. After he invaded Iraq, I became painfully aware that he was woefully misguiding the people of the United States. The view from the ground is so much different than the view from the top. As such, it was a treat to listen to a pleasant, cordial, affirming State of the Union Address even if I don't agree with everything our President had to say.
I am going to pull excerpts from President Obama's speech. Following each I will add my thoughts on the statement. I am writing this mostly for myself so that I can wrap my head around his ideas than I am for public consumption. Still, I don't mind sharing.
President Obama: And despite all our divisions and disagreements, our hesitations and our fears, America prevailed because we chose to move forward as one nation, as one people.These are real nice words. They are also politically correct word. I thrill to them. However, in 1861 the United States of America cleaved. From 1861 to 1865 cousin fought cousin, brother fought brother, and when it was done 600,000 (roughly 1/11th) of the U.S. population were left in mass graves. From 1865 to 1964 Blacks were not accepted as equals in U.S. society. That full acceptance only came November 2008 with Obama's own election to the Presidency of the United States. The constitution, and labor laws, of Southern States still bare scars of that upheaval. The Texas constitution and attitudes are still scarred from Reconstruction. In American Theocracy Kevin Philips, the Nixon Republican Strategist, took great pains to explain that the Confederacy is still alive and well in the Southern Conservative Soul. Some time it takes generations to "prevail," if we do at all.
Obama: They don't understand why it seems like bad behavior on Wall Street is rewarded, but hard work on Main Street isn't; or why Washington has been unable or unwilling to solve any of our problems.For the most part, we politely ask our officials why, but we know damn well what is going on. Those who are of the privileged class are protected by law. I cover this extensively in Wealth Women and War. What I would like to know is why people who work hard, fulfill the metrics, are cast adrift, unemployed, disrespected, and told to go to hell (no polite way of putting that one).
We had an incident here last Friday, January 22, 2010. It is a minor thing in the footnote to the current State of the Union. Volt Temporary Resources (or whatever name they feel like going under) was running a Technical Support Call Center for Apple in Addison, Texas. Technically they still are. On Friday they cast off some 170 employees (not much has changed in the technical field since Clinton; save that jobs are harder and harder to come by). Apple, after congratulating the entire staff for making Apple's iPhone support the leader in customer satisfaction, hired 130 of around 300 (no one on the floor ever got an accurate count of how many were employed). Out of fifteen of the second ranking team on the floor, some with customer satisfaction ratings in excess of the magic 90% number, five were hired by Apple. As of this writing, Volt has not contacted the majority of the laid off employees with other assignments.
To put something in perspective Apple has posted quarterly gains all the way through the recession. For the two days following the release of the iPhone 3GS they sold a million units. The MSRP of the iPhone 3Gs is $499.00 (for those who are not eligible for upgrades or don't want an at&t contract). That translates to Apple making something akin to half a billion dollars in two days. Apple then laid off some 400 (or more) people. I am sure Wall Street was very happy with this move.
The connection between work, success, and loss has vanished. The only people who cannot see how twisted this has become are the Wall Street investors and those steeped in denial for self preservation sake. If people decry this norm then it forces them to have to correct it; and that may require more sacrifice. They are already in a loss sum game. People who are function at loss, or fear of loss (Level Two of Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs) will not be inclined to achieve an advanced level of social concern. It just does not happen.
Christian Fundamentalist Plantation Owners Management style, that precludes reading the Gospel without finding a reason to hate others, has again become the norm in the nation (reference Phillips' American Theocracy, my own Conspirators, Confederates and Cronies, or Upton Sinclair's The Jungle -- read it free on-line through Google). This is not employment! This is some third world day labor model codified into a disingenuous accepted norm. Too, I absolutely need to add, this is not something that any level of Government can fix ... it comes from a serious lack of enlightenment on the part of the business leadership.
I think we know why this is going on, we are just awaiting the repair.
More to Come
I don't have a deadline for this one.
I don't have a deadline for this one.