SEPARATE BUT EQUAL

Here are some scenarios.

1. You work at Shipping Giant processing packages in a distribution center. Since you work in the middle of the night, you cook up an easy scam with your friends whereby you identify obviously valuable packages (for example, a crate of Playstation 4s) and change the addresses to redirect them to your friends. You quickly sell the pilfered goods on eBay, Craigslist, pawn shops, etc and split the profits. Eventually one too many packages turn up missing. Company security watches you closely and catches you in the act.

2. You work at a busy cash-only bar. With literally thousands of dollars in small bills flying around every night, it's very easy to pocket the occasional $5 bill as "bonus money." You also sell drinks out of your own bottles of liquor (come on, you remember the scene in Road House) and give away freebies to friends. The boss notices on a slow night and calls you into the back room.

3. You're a cashier at Retail Giant. You arrange with an accomplice to scan a barcode for a cheap item over the barcode on a much more expensive item. Too many electronics end up missing and eventually the security cameras catch you red handed. The manager on duty discreetly takes you off the floor and into the office.

All three scenarios are a variation of the same theme: you, the employee, are stealing from the employer. In addition to termination, what are the odds that any of these scenarios would not end with you in handcuffs facing eventual criminal charges and jail time? I'm going to estimate them at zero, plus or minus zero percent.

Simple enough. Now here are three more scenarios:

4. You work 55 hours per week at Shipping Giant but never receive the overtime pay required by law. After some complaints and threats, the company creates the legal fiction that you do not actually work for Shipping Giant but instead a subcontractor or as an "independent contractor." Thereby they exempt themselves from legal requirements to pay you 150% and effectively steal 7.5 full hours of pay from you for every 55 hour week.

5. The owner of Busy Cash-Only Bar illegally confiscates and takes a heavy cut off of your tips at the end of the night. Often what you receive in tips is below the "estimated" amount of tip income on which you must pay taxes.

6. Retail Giant regularly has you work another hour or two after clocking out. When you do submit a time card with the phantom hours included, your paycheck is still for 40 hours on the dot. You find that your time card has been altered by the manager to make the would-be overtime hours disappear.

All three scenarios are again a variation of the same theme: the employer is stealing from the employee. Odds on handcuffs, police cruisers, and criminal charges being involved? Again I'll go with zero. The absolute best the employee can hope for is to file a lawsuit to receive what he or she is already legally owed (minus the 30-50% cut the lawyers will be paid for their services) and get it after months or years of litigation.

These six scenarios, regardless of what semantic games we play, are essentially the same. Legally and morally, they all amount to theft. The employee is taking things to which he or she is not legally entitled or the employer is taking the employee's labor without paying the compensation required by law. In one set of scenarios both justice and punishment would be swift and severe; in the other, justice is an uphill battle and punishment is nonexistent.

Employment is a legal arrangement. You provide something of value to the employer in return for compensation at an agreed upon rate. As simple as that seems, we appear to have forgotten that collectively.

69 thoughts on “SEPARATE BUT EQUAL”

  • Operation Enduring Employment says:

    This is not the case in California. In California, courts and the Labor Commissioner almost always side with the employee. I can tell you of three small business owners who were financially ruined by what should have been laughable cases made by now incredibly wealthy former employees.

    Regarding the designation of workers as independent contractors; yes, this does happen in California, but it is the worker's ignorance of state labor laws that allows the employer to get away with what I would call tax avoidance. However, the government in California remains notoriously anti-business.

    One should not extrapolate from reports on the labor conditions of Amazon warehouse workers in South Carolina or Walmart employees in the Mississippi delta, and then says this the situation for the "Proletariat" nationwide.

    Every state has its problems. Remember it was the UAW whose worthless leadership surrendered to Caterpillar, sold out new workers in order to keep the benefits of its soon to be retirees from decreasing, (all in the name of seniority), and who let their non-local brothers get freezed out, along with the industry's creditors. of the Union and Democrat orgy that was the Detroit bailout.

  • The difference in your scenarios: one is theft of property and the other is a contract violation, except there's no contract. Union yes!

  • Employment, however, appears to be a legal arrangement between parties that, for whatever reason(s), are fundamental mistrustful of–if not downright hostile to–each other. So, really, more like a largely unenforceable peace treaty between nations absolutely itching to go to war.

    Operation Enduring Employment's anecdotal evidence aside (and it does remind us, if nothing else, that we mustn't idealize the workers–just humanizing them is enough), the employers have had a ridiculous amount of power in this relationship for the better part of 30-some years, as post-Reagan conservatism has, through dint of repetition and the deaths of the old guard of liberalism and its replacement by Clintonian triangulators, embedded the narrative that the employers ("job creators") are the good guys, the real backbone of our economy and the only thing standing between us and a Thunderdome nightmare landscape of mass unemployment. (An unemployment unalleviated by government existence, because fuck entitlements, because when you're living paycheck to paycheck, you really need to hold onto every scrap of tax money you can.)

    Point is: Unionism having fallen into collapse (aided, it must be stressed, by corruption and incompetence on an appalling scale within its own ranks), internationalism having permanently removed the prospect of long-term, much less lifetime employment from our blue-collar and mid-level workforce, we cannot call what these employers are doing "illegal" insofar as a law, to be meaningful, must be reliably enforced. These are not.

    So long as shareholders only care about making money, rather than about using their position to demand steering the course of companies–and it really is hard to imagine any circumstances in which they would make this shift, because why invest if not for profit?–then chairmen and their boards will continue to shape policy to maximize profits at all other costs, including and especially payment to employees, and consider themselves legally and morally justified in so doing because, after all, "we answer to our shareholders."

    Those who invest in a company with their money will always outrank those who invest in a company with their time and labor, because time and labor are–thanks to the permanent losses of jobs overseas–in ridiculously abundant supply, and lawyers can always find ways to squeeze every drop of both from a workforce so disenfranchised–and so demonized–that they have no substantial ability to appeal their cause to any authority who will listen (if such authority still exists, which it doesn't.)

    Solution? Apart from a Great Awakening of Social Conscience, there is none. Well, a violent revolution followed by a Terror, leading to a Napoleonic/Caesarian dictator might do it, but I wouldn't count on that as a wise course of action…

  • This is what Power is all about. Some forms of stealing are legal, some are not (much the same as some forms of killing are legal and some are not). The only difference is who gets to write the rules. In the current world, where money is the only way to buy a seat at the table (be it Congress, a State Senate, a Mayoral mansion or whatever other position) it is not at all surprising that the laws are being written by and for the same money-holding people.

  • Operation Enduring Employment says:

    Anecdotal advice is better than a left wing moaning session on autopilot.

    Below is a link to a pretty uncontroversial summary of an employer's chances when he or she goes before the Inquisitor, I mean California Labor Commissioner.

    http://www.rutan.com/pubs/xpqPublicationDetail.aspx?xpST=PubDetail&pub=1654

    Mr. Dryden may need to be reminded that workers should be humanized (though not just workers, I believe that all human beings should have their humanity respected), but for those of us who live among minute particulars and not in some abstract communist fairyland where verbs, adjectives, and just about everything except for proper nouns is subject to ruthless capitalization ("Great Social Awakening of Conscience"), respecting the humanity of others does not take that much of an effort.

    "…law, to be meaningful, must be reliably enforced…"

    Except that it is NOT illegal for a company, private or public, to open new site of design, fabrication, and assembly overseas. This is not South Korea in the 1950's where and when capital flight was a capital punishment. The collapse of reactionary unions, and the development of new markets around the world, have not brought about a change in labor law, they have just old labor contracts obsolete. Technology has been an even bigger contributor than both.

    The work of drones has been usurped, in part, by machines. This could be seen as a great opportunity, an opportunity for individuals to develop skills that require the operation of mental faculties more refined than those utilized in the stamping of sheet metal. Or, we could kill all the world's rich people into a cauldron of gore and resentment.

    The contempt for the intellectual life is well documented in left-wing movements, see the Red Guards of the Cultural Revolution, the murder of anyone with glasses by the social crusaders of Pol Pot, and the massacre of Polish intellectuals in the Katyn forest. I could go on…

  • "the murder of anyone with glasses by the social crusaders of Pol Pot"

    You do realize that Pol Pot and his party envisioned a Cambodia gone back to its agricultural roots, right? That's a right-wing ideology, not left-wing.

  • "This could be seen as a great opportunity, an opportunity for individuals to develop skills that require the operation of mental faculties more refined than those utilized in the stamping of sheet metal. Or, we could kill all the world's rich people into a cauldron of gore and resentment."

    We can do both in fact. Indeed, the latter is a prerequisite for the former.

  • "This could be seen as a great opportunity, an opportunity for individuals to develop skills that require the operation of mental faculties more refined than those utilized in the stamping of sheet metal. "

    Um, let me guess. Leveraged buyouts and credit default swaps?

  • "contempt for the intellectual life is well documented in left-wing movements, see the Red Guards of the Cultural Revolution, the murder of anyone with glasses by the social crusaders of Pol Pot, and the massacre of Polish intellectuals in the Katyn forest."

    If s/he write this, the author must then accept the flipped analogue:

    "contempt for immigrants is well documented in right-wing movements, see the teh Nazis…."

    (booga booga!)

  • Employment is a legal arrangement. You provide something of value to the employer in return for compensation at an agreed upon rate. As simple as that seems, we appear to have forgotten that collectively.

    Well, yeah. See the morons Mensa candidates (including commenters on this blog) who think it's perfectly all right to bitch and moan about women who have the gall to use their very own medical insurance WHICH THEY PURCHASE WITH THEIR VERY OWN LABOR for contraception. How, exactly, is an employer deciding what legal medical services an employee can use while availing of their insurance, any different than an employer telling his or her employees how to spend their paychecks? Imagine a vegetarian employer telling employees they can't spend their money to buy meat. My goddess, the screaming from the right-wingers would be audible on the space station.

  • "Employment is a legal arrangement. You provide something of value to the employer in return for compensation at an agreed upon rate. As simple as that seems, we appear to have forgotten that collectively."

    Just like you'd like us to collectively forget that this legal arrangement occurs between two unequal parties.

  • 'Anecdotal advice is better than a left wing moaning session on autopilot.'

    Then you provide no anecdotes of the 'three' cases you know of. Just some lawyer BS.
    Not impressed.
    One day people will think Labor Day is celebrating giving birth….

  • "Employment is a legal arrangement. You provide something of value to the employer in return for compensation at an agreed upon rate. As simple as that seems, we appear to have forgotten that collectively."

    Just like you'd like us to collectively forget that this legal arrangement occurs between two unequal parties.

    Unionization is one way to bring a measure of parity to this inequality. Sabotage is another way. I personally saw to it that a former employer of mine was desperately short-handed at a critical time when they were having a hard time finding people (and why it is that those assholes couldn't make the connection between their own assholery and their various employee-related crises is completely beyond me, but whatever), and I have heard through the grapevine that things are much better for the employees these days. You couldn't pay me enough to go back there and work, though, given the status of employment law in Florida. I'd rather be homeless.

    I think my personal favorite example of sabotage would have to be from QueerJoe, who long ago wrote a blog about how he took a screenshot of his desktop and then uploaded that as a background image, after deleting all the real program icons. I recall he said he got a lot of satisfaction from the image of IT workers spending several hours trying to figure out why none of those icons on which they kept clicking wouldn't work.

  • c u n d gulag says:

    And this is why, as much of a foodie as I am, even if I ever have a decent paying job, I'll never go to one of Mario Batali's restaurants – he and his partners stole millions of dollars in tips from his wait and bar staff.
    Fuck him.
    "Chew" on this, you MFer!

    There's never enough, for some psychopaths.

  • "The contempt for the intellectual life is well documented in left-wing movements, see the Red Guards of the Cultural Revolution, the murder of anyone with glasses by the social crusaders of Pol Pot, and the massacre of Polish intellectuals in the Katyn forest. I could go on…"

    ha. haha. POUHAHAHAHAHAH! Wait, What? HAHAHAHA! (Wiping tears of laughter) Good one.

  • @Sarah; isn't it astounding how slow our corporate masters are to see their own error? "We treat the employees like garbage…and they're leaving in droves! Who could have predicted that?!?! Now how am I going to pay for the home theater in my sixth vacation house? Better cheat my employees some more!"

  • Actually the (federal) laws under which employees pursue these suits build in a requirement for attorneys' fees separate from the amount owed the employee, theoretically incentivizing the pursuit of even small amounts owed, because there's no contingent fee. Of course, as the Chamber of Commerce will remind you, this market arrangement also incentivizes attorneys to pursue even specious claims because any settlement will still pay them for their time. Good heavens! Imperfection in the deeds of humans!

  • Ed,

    Is it really wise to let in some right wing hack troll like

    "Operation Enduring Employment"

    Once in, like cockroaches, they are a bitch to get out.

  • One of my favorites is the curse of the salaried employee. Working in insurance (not sales, not claims) meant decent annual pay — but worked out to the hourly rate, it was close to minimum wage. Social work is turning out the same. Crazy workloads, no breaks or lunches, work the job not the clock, and if you pipe up, you hear a very sympathetic manager saying that if you can't handle the basic requirements of the job, this might not be a good fit for you.

    Translated, this means, "We are going to work you like a rented mule for 65 hours each week and expect you to respond to emails on evenings and weekends. If you wanted time and a half, you should have been a plumber."

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  • "the murder of anyone with glasses by the social crusaders of Pol Pot"

    You do realize that Pol Pot and his party envisioned a Cambodia gone back to its agricultural roots, right? That's a right-wing ideology, not left-wing.

    Fascinating the way right-wingers will twist these events to fit their own ideological needs. Pol Pot is already thought to be left-wing by many current ideological right-wingers. I wish to Goddess I'd screencapped it, but I saw a comment on a message board some time ago which claimed that La Guerra Sucia was the best thing that ever happened to Argentina because it avoided the evils of (GASP!) Marxism. Twenty years from now they will be saying that Pinochet and the Argentinian dictatorship were actually left-wing while Las Madres de la Plaza were marching for God-fearing Christian ideals.

  • West of the Cascades says:

    In the two states whose wage theft laws I'm familiar with (Illinois and New York), an employee who is successful in a suit can recover attorney fees and costs from the employer who stole wages. That means that the employee will NOT have to pay 30%-50% to their lawyer – the lawyer will collect her/his fees from the employer. So the employee will generally be made whole for the full amount of stolen wages.

  • I dare say that was an impressive bit of trolling to get from employers stealing wages to Pol Pot in two comments.

    Much better than the usual class of trolls we get around here.

  • Better still, be the CEO at a too-big-to-fail bank and steal billions from depositors, homeowners, and even the US government. Not only do you not get arrested, but you get a multi-million dollar bonus and a raise.

    Anyone interested in this disparity would do well to read Matt Taibbi's new book "Divide," in which he details how the big boys steal billions with impunity, while little folk are routinely screwed in what we laughingly call a "justice system."

  • Operation Enduring Employment says:

    Amazing, the amount of stupidity and uncritical regurgitating of left-wing cliches you can find on a message board:

    Arslan: If Pol Pot was right wing than almost all revolutionary movements are right wing. The word revolution implied a movement, not just forward, but backwards to a beginning point, before movement began.
    Pol Pot did not envision a return to agriculture. Cambodia was primarily an agricultural society before he came to power. What Pol Pot envisioned was a classless society without private property, without anything remaining of older traditions, and where uniformity of dress, belief and labor, was celebrated. if that is not left wing, then I do not know what it is.

    U.S. in the U.K: Those were not analogies I gave you, they were well documented moments in recent history.
    The contempt for immigrants is also well documented small business owning liberals like Nancy Pelosi who do not allow their Hispanic workforces to organize, what is your point? I am a Libertarian for the most part, I beleive in open borders so acknowledging racism in the Republican party does not require a great emotional effort on my part.

    Major Kong: Do you have a principled opposition to leveraged buyouts, or is this just another word in the bottomless pit o left-wing cliche that you like
    to vomit up in lieu of a real argument?
    Regarding credit default swaps, and the question of whether their ability to add liquidity to financial markets is not worth the danger that they bring by destroying the old notion of "insurable risk" is a fascinating one. I would like to hear your take on it except that you probably do not know what a credit default swap is, and you are just vomiting more left-wing swear words.

    Doug: I cannot provide anecdotes to an anecdote. i could provide a summary of the cases, but bare responses take up enough of my time anyways. Besides, even if I gave you the summaries, yo would probably dismiss them as just more lawyer BS.

    Skyskier: Keep skiing and kissing the sky brother!

    Sarah: See my response to Arslan.

    Major Kong: Thank you!

    democommie: fucking mother fucking cocksucking blah blah blah

  • I ask my union bashing friends why they insist that unions and collective bargaining are no longer necessary. They claim times have changed. I say human nature hasn't.

  • Oh, dear, it seems I've offended some lying fuckwit who's using a different moniker today than he was using yesterday–I am so, well, "sorry" isn't even close to LMAO but wtf.

    You're either a pissed-off teabaggist convenience store "manager", a 14 yo who thinks he's edgy or a genuine corporatist fucktoy–makes no difference to me.

    You get your weekends off, your paid holidays, whatever benefits you have and whatever job security you have BECAUSE of organized labor, fuckwit.

    Put a sock in it, you crybaby p.o.s.

  • OEE – that's right, don't bother responding to criticism, just insult everyone, and claim "libertarianism" when asked to respond a point. If you want to "debate", fine, if you just want to insult everyone, get bent.

  • Operation Enduring Employment says:

    OEE – that's right, don't bother responding to criticism, just insult everyone, and claim "libertarianism" when asked to respond a point. If you want to "debate", fine, if you just want to insult everyone, get bent.

    Khaled: What criticism? How should I respond to the following:

    "You're either a pissed-off teabaggist convenience store "manager", a 14 yo who thinks he's edgy or a genuine corporatist fucktoy–makes no difference to me."

    Against such a display of towering intellect, I tremble.

    And I did response to the issue of anti-immigrant sentiment among right-wingers. I explained that:

    A) Contempt of immigrants is not confined to the right

    B) The Republican party's xenophobia does not disturb my thoughts as the gentleman or gentle lady believes it should, because I believe in reconstituting the open borders that had existed for over a century before Bill Clinton and NAFTA.

  • Operation Enduring Employment says:

    OEE – that's right, don't bother responding to criticism, just insult everyone, and claim "libertarianism" when asked to respond a point. If you want to "debate", fine, if you just want to insult everyone, get bent.

    Khaled: What criticism? How should I respond to the following:

    "You're either a pissed-off teabaggist convenience store "manager", a 14 yo who thinks he's edgy or a genuine corporatist fucktoy…"

    Against such a display of towering intellect, I tremble.

    And I did response to the issue of anti-immigrant sentiment among right-wingers. I explained that:

    A) Contempt of immigrants is not confined to the right

    B) The Republican party's xenophobia does not disturb my thoughts as the gentleman or gentle lady believes it should, because I believe in reconstituting the open borders that had existed for over a century before Bill Clinton and NAFTA.

  • Implying that Major Kong was too stupid to understand credit default swaps ? That's not debate, that's being a jackass.

  • Operation Enduring Employment says:

    Major Kong claimed I was a troll because I would not participate in the left-wing circle jerk that this message board normally becomes.

    Again, to which "criticism" of Major Kong should I be responding? What has he written that is not condescending and/or sarcastic? His use of the phrase "credit default swap" was pejorative. In my experience, the word is reflexively used by left-wingers as a slur. How should have I responded to his sloppy post?

  • OEE – you also didn't actually "respond" to the anti-immigrant point, you just said "so is the left". As for the Katyn Massacre, if you don't understand this in the context of the Stalin purges, it's a useless factoid. Claiming that the Soviets were anti-intellectual ignores the great emphasis on science and other actual intellectual endeavors that were accomplished, and the general quality of Moscow State University. While political dissent was not tolerated, intellectuals were celebrated by the Soviets… Just as long as they kept the party line. Current attempts by some right-wing politicians to limit learning is no better than anything the soviets did, and for example, the dismissing of children's shows such as Sesame Street as left-wing propaganda for its promotion of "civil disobedience" is eerily the same- there are people who want children to not question authority, and they don't vote democratic. If you're going to paint with a broad stroke and call is all idiots at least own the "right wing" version of reality. If you want free markets, fine, but realize that until "Libertarian" is an actual party, you're going to have to deal with racist Uncle Fred in the closet.

  • Having worked for Mega Large Drug Store Chain that hasn't moved to Europe (yet), I think I can put some perspective on the "Wage Theft" as it occurs in somewhat moral organizations. If an employee calls the NLRB, they show up, do a huge and nasty audit, and usually don't find much- the record keeping is usually pretty sound. If a manager is found to have been altering time cards, the company is fined and the person recovers the wages. If said employee was to call the internal hotline, however, the local Loss Prevention Manager shows up, goes through a similar audit. If the manager is found to have altered time cards, the manager is shown the door (zero tolerance policy) and the person has a cash payout done for the money, unless it is too much, in which case, they will have some cashed out and some sent in a check.
    Thanks to Wal Mart, the NLRB takes a dim view of this type of management behavior. At the store level, managers may try to prevent getting into trouble by adding lunches, etc, to people's time cards. Personally, I always stood tall before the man and took the shit that came down if I went over payroll budget. Those that tried to hide it and not pay people the time that they worked got canned. Unfortunately, managers who put in people's lunches without verifying that they *took* a lunch would also get canned- all it would take is an employee saying "I didn't take a lunch, and I was punched out for it- look at the tapes, I never left the store" for a manager to get fired.

    That being said, I'm almost positive that most chains don't operate the same way- much less mom n pop stores without formal timeclocks. The manpower hours that are sent down to retail stores these days are an absolute joke- basically making the salaried managers either work 65+ hours a week or get behind.

  • Operation Enduring Employment says:

    Khlaed:

    I did respond to the anti-immigrant issue: I SAID THAT WHAT YOU SAY IS TRUE, AND IT HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH WHAT I HAD PREVIOUSLY SAID.

  • OEE-
    I actually think Major Kong raises a point, which seemed to fly over your head. You railed in your first post about the auto bailouts, and then in your second post, basically said that if people were smart, they'd figure out a way to make money from intellectual activities- because people who earn their money by using their hands are stupid (which is what you implied, and you can't backtrack now). Calling out complex financial instruments designed add to the bottom line without taking actual risk (leveraged buyouts and credit default swaps do both of these) is a perfectly sane response. If the "smart" way to make money leads to a financial meltdown, and the credit default swaps were part and parcel to the meltdown, and then the banks got a even bigger bailout by the government than anything that GM or the auto industry did.
    So maybe that "smart" way of earning money ends up not being so "smart", huh?

  • Operation Enduring Employment says:

    Khaled:

    2. The Soviet Empire was anti-intellectual. They may have funded science programs generously, especially those technological development that could improve their military and their foreign and domestic surveillance capabilities, but so has North Korea. Critical inquiry and free thought were only tolerated insofar as they would help the state, I cannot think of a better definition of an anti-intellectual society. Obviously people still need to use their brains, even in the most repressive societies.

    "Current attempts by some right-wing politicians to limit learning is no better than anything the soviets did…"
    Wrong, George W. Bsuh never threw anybody in prison for making a cartoon, or had someone confess, while kneeling on broken glass, to making art that demonstrated bourgeois decadence.

    3. The Libertarian Party IS a real party in the United States. I wrote in Gary Johnson on the ballot.

  • Re: Immigration- you can't have your cake and eat it too. You cannot lump everyone on the left as communists and then wash your hands of the stuff on the right that you don't like. Personally, I do not trust current unions (having seen them in action in the retail sector) and having had union handbillers telling people to not shop at my store because they didn't get a contract from the GC when the store was built, I take that shit personally. I don't hate NAFTA, but what I do understand is that if California was so anti-business, then why is it growing faster than average? If the taxes and regulations really "hurt" business, why is Kansas gasping for air and California doing well? Here's the thing- I don't like "unions" because government has stepped in and established protocols and regulations to prevent abuses that Unions fought for- the 40 hour work week, OSHA, etc. If the small businesses went under because of employee complaints about time worked, then the employer should have gotten a better system of logging employee time or had better records. If the State generally finds towards the employee, then the employer had better get it right. I've been in unemployment hearings, etc, and been the subject of bogus complaints- and I didn't get fired or go under. The State usually sides with the employees because of crap like what Wal-Mart did, and what other employers do to shit on employees.

  • The Soviets took a society that was largely rural and turned Russia into an industrial superpower. They were also scum. I think I hate communists more than I hate Republicans.

  • Operation Enduring Employment says:

    1. "I actually think Major Kong raises a point, which seemed to fly over your head.."
    It did not fly over my head. His failed attempt at making a witty remark was painfully obvious.

    2. " [You] basically said that if people were smart, they'd figure out a way to make money from intellectual activities- because people who earn their money by using their hands are stupid (which is what you implied, and you can't backtrack now)."
    I have no intention of backing away from what I actually said. The people on an assembly line did not "make" anything. They did not design the car, they did not fabricate the sheet metal, they did not make those immaculate weld pools on the manifold. The only thing they did was assemble the machine, or, rather they assembled a part of the machine according to a regimented script. They certainly did not use their "hands" in the way say, a bespoke shoemaker uses his hands. If you want to compare that to the work of a master artisan or machinist, then I would say that you have never made anything with your hands in your life.
    I did not say that the assembly line worker was stupid. if I thought that, then I would not have written that our society has a great opportunity. If the assembly line workers were a bunch of idiots, then we would be looking towards eventual socioeconomic catastrophe.

    3. "Calling out complex financial instruments designed add to the bottom line without taking actual risk (leveraged buyouts and credit default swaps do both of these) is a perfectly sane response."
    If credit default swaps are without risk, then how do you explain the near annihilation of AIG? Creating endless insurance derivatives with the same speed and enthusiasm that the Fed prints money, except without the advantage of having the fiat power in a fiat currency, is an incredibly risky activity as everyone except for you found out 2008.
    And if you think that a leveraged buyout is inherently without risk, then you do not know what a buyout actually entails.

    4. "If the "smart" way to make money leads to a financial meltdown, and the credit default swaps were part and parcel to the meltdown, and then the banks got a even bigger bailout by the government than anything that GM or the auto industry did."
    Except that the banks paid back TARP with interest, whereas the bailout of Detroit autos, in addition to being a flagrant violation of U.S. bankruptcy law, is still loosing America money. So…what you said makes no sense in light of the actual facts of both bailouts.

  • Operation Enduring Employment says:

    Khaled: Your second to last post was a fount of independent thought and I enjoyed reading it.
    But I did not say that all left-wingers were communist.

    "The Soviets took a society that was largely rural and turned Russia into an industrial superpower. They were also scum. I think I hate communists more than I hate Republicans."
    The Soviet Union threw all of its money into an arms race it could not win, and into meaningless publicity stunts like Sputnik. It could barely feed its people, and it certainly couldn't create the kind of middle class that had, until recently, flourished in the United States.

  • Oh jeez it's a libertarian. I just love libertarians. They're almost as much fun as communists, but not so many of those any more.

    I just fly jets. Specifically I fly night freight. When I say "night" I mean absolute back side of the clock. Graveyard shift hours. While you're in bed dreaming sweet dreams of Ayn Rand, I'm out there putting my you-know-what on the line in all kinds of weather to get that freight where it's supposed to go.

    The reason I have a union and government regulation, as annoying as they can be sometimes, is to keep me from planting 300,000 pounds of screaming metal and jet fuel in your neighborhood at 3:00 AM because I'm too fucking tired to do my job.

    But you've probably never had to deal with that. I doubt you've ever had to fight against every instinct to keep yourself awake because if you don't something really bad is likely to happen. Well OK, you might get a nasty paper cut or bang your knee on an open filing cabinet.

    And if I'm lucky, if I'm really freakin' lucky, I may have the privilege of beating myself up until I'm 65 and can collect a retirement. Assuming some vulture capitalist doesn't buy us out and sell the pieces off for short-term profit.

  • I just don't understand why libertarians are so eager to replace the system that beat communism with the one that spawned it.

    Communism was a reaction to the excesses of 19th century capitalism, which the libertarians seem so anxious to take us back to.

    Think about it. How bad does your system have to suck for people to think "Hey I know! Let's give communism a shot! How bad can it be?"

  • Assistant Professor says:

    "I'm really more of a libertarian" = "I am just young enough that I'm still uncomfortable admitting that I basically have my dad's politics."

  • Operation Enduring Employment says:

    Assistant Professor: "I'm really more of a libertarian" = "I am just young enough that I'm still uncomfortable admitting that I basically have my dad's politics."
    Outstanding analysis professor. Man people would six figures annual for such insight. I have no doubt that you are on the fast track to tenure! The new Larry Summers!

    "Communism was a reaction to the excesses of 19th century capitalism, which the libertarians seem so anxious to take us back to."
    Wrong, Communism was a response to state tyranny. If 19th century Capitalism was the instigator, then why did the heart of the industrial revolution, Great Britain, survive the storms of 1789 and 1848 relatively unscathed? The legacy of the Glorious Revolution, especially a functioning Parliament, was the reason.

  • If you want the long answer the Russian Revolution was as much about losing WWI, badly, as anything else. Plenty of countries have had political tyranny that didn't adopt communism.

  • Operation Enduring Employment says:

    I am not talking about a book, I am talking about what actually happened.

    Communism is older than Marx, and the people in the streets of Paris and Berlin were not inspired to take on the police by reading the Communist Manifesto.

    Karl Marx wrote A book, he did not write history.

  • Operation Enduring Employment says:

    "If you want the long answer the Russian Revolution was as much about losing WWI, badly, as anything else. Plenty of countries have had political tyranny that didn't adopt communism."
    Correct, it was the machismo of the Tsarist state, and the ruthlessness of the Bolsheviks that made possible 80 years of misery for the peoples of Russia and her neighbors. The free market was not to blame, it was the politicians and what remained of the old feudal order that gave a platform to Dracula.

  • The fun (and ironic) part about arguing with libertarians is they're just like campus communists.

    Totally insistent that their philosophy just has to work, only that the true version has never been instituted.

  • Operation Enduring Employment says:

    "The fun (and ironic) part about arguing with libertarians is they're just like campus communists.

    Totally insistent that their philosophy just has to work, only that the true version has never been instituted."

    If that is the case, then you must be a sado-masochist, because arguing with dogmatic people, regardless of their loyalties, is something I find very unpleasant.

    And provide a quote from what I have written where I defend the infallibility of a pure market system. Obviously no economic arrangement is perfect, I just happen to think that we can do a whole lot better. I merely pointed out that Bolshevism, and the revolutions of 1789 and 1848 were not prompted by unregulated markets, but by state tyranny and the legacy of feudalism.

    To quote my last post, "I am not talking about a book, I am talking about what actually happened."

  • " If Pol Pot was right wing than almost all revolutionary movements are right wing. The word revolution implied a movement, not just forward, but backwards to a beginning point, before movement began.
    Pol Pot did not envision a return to agriculture. Cambodia was primarily an agricultural society before he came to power. What Pol Pot envisioned was a classless society without private property, without anything remaining of older traditions, and where uniformity of dress, belief and labor, was celebrated. if that is not left wing, then I do not know what it is."

    Well looks like someone just displayed their ignorance. Pol Pot wanted to take Cambodia BACK to an agrarian existence, hence the evacuation of the cities. Cambodia was to be ethnically pure as well, hence the ethnic cleansing of minorities, specifically Vietnamese. This back to our roots concept is right wing so yeah, you don't know what left wing means. Indeed, Pol Pot had a history in Marxist studies and the movement, but clearly he went far off the path. You could say the same about Mussolini. Nobody worth listening to would claim that Mussolini was a left-wing socialist all his life, in spite of his previous socialism beliefs.

    Also, the Russian Tsarist state backward as it was, was nonetheless capitalist. It was financed by the global capitalist system which had invested heavily in Russian industrialization from the time of Alexander III onward. It appears as if you're trying to pull the typical libertarian, "BUT IT WASN'T TRUE CAPITALISM!"

  • Operation Enduring Employment says:

    "Well looks like someone just displayed their ignorance. Pol Pot wanted to take Cambodia BACK to an agrarian existence, hence the evacuation of the cities. Cambodia was to be ethnically pure as well, hence the ethnic cleansing of minorities, specifically Vietnamese. This back to our roots concept is right wing so yeah, you don't know what left wing means. Indeed, Pol Pot had a history in Marxist studies and the movement, but clearly he went far off the path. You could say the same about Mussolini. Nobody worth listening to would claim that Mussolini was a left-wing socialist all his life, in spite of his previous socialism beliefs."

    Cambodia was still an agriculture-grounded state before Pol Pot, Pol Pot was not taking it BACK anywhere. If empting the cities is a right wing activity, then Mao's sentencing of professor and business owners to the fields betrayed his true right wing affiliations.

    North Korea is also an extremely racist county, is North Korea a conservative's paradise?

    You did not actually address any of my points.

    "Also, the Russian Tsarist state backward as it was, was nonetheless capitalist. It was financed by the global capitalist system which had invested heavily in Russian industrialization from the time of Alexander III onward. It appears as if you're trying to pull the typical libertarian, "BUT IT WASN'T TRUE CAPITALISM!"

    It was Russia's economic modernization, its integration into world markets, that led to the importing of the ideas and businesses that made possible the freeing of the serfs and the growth of its economy. Russia was, for the most part, a sewer of oppression and priestcraft before its exposure to capital markets and the rule of law.
    You still haven't acknowledged that it was a war hungry aristocracy, combined with the rollback of civil liberties MADE BY THE STATE, that gave an otherwise unpopular and intellectually discredited shyster like Lenin the opportunity to put millions of people under his boot.

  • "Cambodia was still an agriculture-grounded state before Pol Pot, Pol Pot was not taking it BACK anywhere. If empting the cities is a right wing activity, then Mao's sentencing of professor and business owners to the fields betrayed his true right wing affiliations."

    Still wrong. Cambodia was an agriculturally based society but it was a developing country, with an urban population. Pol Pot didn't even want that.

    "It was Russia's economic modernization, its integration into world markets, that led to the importing of the ideas and businesses that made possible the freeing of the serfs and the growth of its economy. Russia was, for the most part, a sewer of oppression and priestcraft before its exposure to capital markets and the rule of law."

    You realize that Russia's industrialization largely kicked off under Alexander III, whereas the serfs were freed in 1861 by Alexander II, right? While Russia did get exposed to capital markets, rule of law it did not get.

    "You still haven't acknowledged that it was a war hungry aristocracy, combined with the rollback of civil liberties MADE BY THE STATE, that gave an otherwise unpopular and intellectually discredited shyster like Lenin the opportunity to put millions of people under his boot."

    Here you're committing the typical libertarian idiocy of assuming that the state is something disconnected from the economic and class system. The state exists to serve a particular class. You also claim Lenin was "intellectually discredited" without giving your evidence of that. You've most likely never read any significant work by Lenin.

    Look I realize that on your libertarian subreddit the state and private sector are totally separate things, with the former being the secular equivalent to Satan. But in the real world, the state is a system of organized violence used to uphold a particular class system. Always has been.

  • " I just happen to think that we can do a whole lot better. "

    Well we're already back to Gilded Age levels of wealth disparity. How much further do you want to take it? Do we need to go all the way to neo-Feudalism?

    I guess the Waltons being the 4th richest family on the planet isn't enough, we need to get them to #3 somehow.

    What can you buy with $36 billion that $30 billion won't get you?

  • @ Operation Enduring Employment

    Do you get paid by the word?

    Someone please give OEE a job, I think he has a little too much time on his hands.

  • When has there ever been a pure or unregulated market system in recorded history? Heck, even random roaming tribes had customs, and shamans, and tribal councils.

    This is utter nonsense, folks.

    Plus, I agree that he somehow assumes that the "tyrannical state" exists APART from the Satanic Mills. How does that work again? So the Pinkertons cooperating with the police for Henry Ford or Andrew Carnegie….that has nothing to do with capitalism but ONLY the State? Really?

  • sluggo: OEE could learn a lot from amazing product choices. totally succinct and doesn't even need any words to make his point (spam!) LOL

  • I sometimes wish I was still hooked up to the Matrix at home, so could read the witless wanker wisdom of people like Operation Enduring Narcissism on a daily basis. Oh,wait; no, I don't. Bullshit is bullshit and will always be bullshit.

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