Casaubon's Book

From Alternet (actual Bill text at site), it turns out that House Republicans have a plan to prevent fighting for labor rights – hunger!: Maybe they’ve got firehoses too! And attack dogs, that would be good. Or maybe they could just shoot them – that’s an old favorite way to disrupt strikes!

Much of the bill is based upon verifying that those who receive food stamps benefits are meeting the federal requirements for doing so. However, one section buried deep within the bill adds a startling new requirement. The bill, if passed, would actually cut off all food stamp benefits to any family where one adult member is engaging in a strike against an employer….

The bill also includes a provision that would exempt households from losing eligibility, “if the household was eligible immediately prior to such strike, however, such family unit shall not receive an increased allotment as the result of a decrease in the income of the striking member or members of the household.”

Well, isn’t that a charming way to prevent protest, eh? Please call your congressperson, and draw their attention to this bullshit in no uncertain terms, ASAP, folks. Publicize this everywhere – this can’t pass unnoticed! Hat tip to Emma who spotted it, btw!!!

Sharon

Comments

  1. #1 Greenpa
    March 24, 2011

    ick. Yeah, that’s seriously disgusting. Oddly, I JUST came here from leaving a fairly biting comment for my governor; Mark Dayton. Democrat. He’s in the news today because he gave a speech where he was actually somewhat heated about Republicans cutting budgets where people get hurt. This after signing legislation allowing companies to just write their own environmental impact statements, and another allowing Minnesota to start talking about building new nuclear power plants… and on, and on. He’s given the Repugnicans everything they’ve whined for- so why should they listen to him?

    The Big Bammer is in the same situation. If he wants to keep ANY of his “base”, he really needs to start at least THREATENING to use his veto. This would be the perfect place. “I will veto any legislation with that language included in it.” he could say. And we could start moving on. Ah, but will he? sigh.

    It’s time; REALLY time, for the common folk to start using our veto. Also known as the “general strike” – and the “sick out”. I had kind of hoped that would happen in Wisconsin; but we’re still just “hoping” they’ll be nice, and responsible- all evidence to the contrary notwithstanding. You know, if 50-70% of all of Wisconsin’s “public employees” just called in sick next week; influenza would be fine – some of the people on both sides of the equation might have to remember that yes, Virginia, if all the workers are pushed to the edges of what is humanly tolerable – that would be bad, even for the Owners.

    The Owners have found that they can play chicken with the people- and we just fold up. We have to find ways to not fold. And yeah- they’ll all hurt. So, in case you haven’t figured it out, does folding.

  2. #2 D. C. Sessions
    March 24, 2011

    The Owners have found that they can play chicken with the people- and we just fold up. We have to find ways to not fold. And yeah- they’ll all hurt. So, in case you haven’t figured it out, does folding.

    The problem with betting against the House is that they can afford to hold their breaths longer than you can. Hungry kids and evictions seriously undermine the will to continue.

    Which means that any plan to seriously oppose the PTB have to include preparations to survive long enough to win. I think Sharon has written about some activities that would fit into such plans.

  3. #3 Greenpa
    March 24, 2011

    DC – that’s part of the game of chicken. Do THEY know they can hold their breath longer? You are, I’m pretty sure, giving many of “them” too much credit.

    And- something we need to know, daily; is that “we” are already dying. That news is hidden now; and when it can’t be, it’s turned, quickly, so that it’s still “all about me” news; not any, like, big tragedy, or something.

    My current fave: http://tinyurl.com/5sqyaou

    Synopsis: town fires 50% of employees, because town pension fund is impossible; one employee immediately commits suicide; News headline is about how mayor is furious some one took an embarrassing photo of him.

    Suicide? Huh? nonsense.

    We. are. already. dying.

    Time to choose to make some difference as we die, at least; as Huy Pham tried to do.

  4. #4 D. C. Sessions
    March 24, 2011

    Do THEY know they can hold their breath longer? You are, I’m pretty sure, giving many of “them” too much credit.

    Obviously FSVO “they.” However, the wealthy almost by definition aren’t living hand to mouth. That particular power disparity — e.g. offering a single mother less than a single man because she has fewer options — is standard operating procedure for them.

    It’s very, very rare now (esp. with so many jobs overseas anyway) for a company to be so seriously threatened in the short term by a labor strike that it’s not worth holding out until the strikers run out of food, get evicted, etc. Especially since there is no shortage of strikebreakers.

    My crystal ball (cheap second-hand model, not gently used) tells me that this time around is going to be like the first time around: the issue won’t be determined by hitting them in their pocketbooks, but by building a popular consensus among voters that starving children and using National Guard troops to break strikes is morally intolerable.

    Then again, I’m an incurable optimist.

  5. #5 Greenpa
    March 24, 2011

    “Then again, I’m an incurable optimist.”

    Ah, humor! :-) Always welcome these days.

    Though I find myself these days tending more in the direction of whoever it was who said: “I greatly prefer optimists, myself. Pessimists are much harder to deal with; you have to actually go out and kill them, one by one. The optimists are much easier; they usually have killed themselves off, long before you can get around to it.”

    One of them old sci-fi writers, I think.

  6. #6 D. C. Sessions
    March 24, 2011

    Hmmm… what is optimism in this case?

    You’re thinking that this time around we might get by without dead children. I consider myself an optimist because I think that a few dead children might actually turn things around.

    The alternative that I see is that we end up serfs — and frankly would give that better odds than either of the first two.

  7. #7 abadidea
    March 24, 2011

    You actually motivated me to write my congressman.

    Based on his past voting record, he’ll laugh and ignore it, but I tried.

  8. #8 DerelictHat
    March 24, 2011

    Every time I think the Repubs can’t act any more like evil, cartoon villains than they already have, they prove me wrong.

  9. #9 Ranklebiter
    March 24, 2011

    “We. are. already. dying.
    Time to choose to make some difference as we die, ”

    “You’re thinking that this time around we might get by without dead children. I consider myself an optimist because I think that a few dead children might actually turn things around”

    uh, what? seems like one, or both, of you aren’t really hearing/reading the other…

  10. #10 D. C. Sessions
    March 24, 2011

    Ranklebiter, I think that Greenpa and I are more on the same page than may appear. We’re just arguing fine points of body count and the coverage they get — or don’t.

    Bear in mind that PR makes all the difference. We tolerate ten times as many deaths from drunken driving [1] every year as died at the WTC — but one is business as usual and the other was a national disaster so traumatic that we’re spending hundreds of billions a year, many of our civil rights, thousands of dead soldiers and many, many more dead brown people in other countries on the shaky premise that doing so will reduce the chance of another 9/11.

    Dying children are business as usual. Turning families out onto the streets in a way that can be pinned — on camera, please — to the callous actions of a political party might have a different impact. Might.

    For comparison I present to you that Arizona has been callous to the malnutrition, lack of medical care, etc. of poor kids for decades. Business as usual. On the other hand, shutting off funding for organ transplants gets in the headlines and manages to stay there, and people actually get motivated by it.

    Is that clearer?

    [1] Or firearm-related deaths for that matter.

  11. #11 Thor Skog
    March 24, 2011

    I hate to sound uncaring, but seems to me there’s a difference (or should be) between someone who voluntarily gives up his income (by striking) vs. someone who’s INvoluntarily out of work. I’m just saying ……

  12. #12 Stephen B.
    March 25, 2011

    Yeah, I had seen this via a Facebook friend’s post. This really sucks frankly.

    While I *do* see Thor’s point about the voluntary nature of a parent giving up income and thereby sticking the taxpayer with the feed bill for his/her kids, the idea that government is growing even larger in its nebulous web of information “intelligence” and control, this time in order to check out one’s political and employment practices and advocated positions, and then blackmailing us into submission, in my mind, way overrules the first concern of unloading the kids’ meal bill on the rest of us.

    Likewise in Wisconsin, while I understood the need to cut expenses and get public employees to pay more of their own retirement such as I have to pay, to use the opportunity of strife to also remove collective bargaining rights, was and is likewise too much.

    We’re all going to have to give up some things, but giving up the right to at least speak out politically is NOT one such thing to be forfeited.

  13. #13 Michael C.
    March 25, 2011

    Ain’t it ironic that the Supreme Court said a year or two ago that corporate spending to destroy a political candidate is protected free speech. But workers speaking by withholding their labor get no protection according to the current run of screeds against worker rights and organized labor. Gee, if this effort succeeds, we’ll be back to the 1880′s! The aristocratic rich in league with state legislatures, demonizing any common man who dares even a whimper of protest. Brave new world, huh. Frankly, with Fox News out there, I see no way to stop it. Anybody else interested in just getting the hell out of Dodge?

  14. #14 Sharon Astyk
    March 25, 2011

    Thor, given that labor activism is just about the only option for many workers, if you say “if you strike you starve” you essentially allow employers to set the terms – no matter what those terms are. People don’t generally go on strike because they prefer not working. They don’t try and live on just food stamps because that’s so much more awesome than having an income that pays for toilet paper *and* food (remember, food stamps pay only for food). The idea that a striker voluntarily gives up his income, rather than does it because of unjust conditions seems strange to me. No one wants to strike, generally speaking – that’s a last resort strategy.

    Sharon

  15. #15 llewelly
    March 25, 2011

    Stephen B. | March 25, 2011 12:45 AM:

    Likewise in Wisconsin, while I understood the need to cut expenses and get public employees to pay more of their own retirement such as I have to pay, to use the opportunity of strife to also remove collective bargaining rights, was and is likewise too much.

    The Wisconsin legislature gave away $140 million in corporate subsidies – to corporations already making plentiful profits. Then they came up $137 million short. Had they not given away citizen’s money to corporations, they would have had a surplus. A small surplus, but nonetheless, a surplus. The need to “cut expenses and get public employees to pay more of their own retirement” was manufactured. We got a reminder of this when the legislature divorced the elimination of collective bargaining rights from the budget bill, and passed it as a separate bill. It had as much to do with saving money as Ronald Reagan’s tax cuts.

  16. #16 4D
    March 25, 2011

    ~~~”Freedom is Slavery”~~~

  17. #17 Nena
    March 25, 2011

    Nice. Well, isn’t that just “special” to quote the church lady from SNL. (I know I’m showing my age.) Not that it will do any good, in my very Republican state, but I’ll put out the word. I just keep trying to encourage people of all income brackets so grow something of their own and give out extra seeds w/ instructions to get them started. Working in social services, everyday is a reminder that our country spends less and less to care for the least among us.

  18. #18 Christina
    March 25, 2011

    While I agree generally with post and comments, I believe you are missing a significant aspect of the situation: tactics and strategy. The bill as a whole is offensive. The inclusion of one particularly unconstitutional segment distracts from that. House Democrats and the White House can spend all their energy on a “compromise” that gets Republicans to generously remove the offending strike clause, and then the rest of the heinous bill passes.

    Arch-conservatives are playing a shell game with us. The only answer is to stop ponying up to play.

  19. #19 Greenpa
    March 25, 2011

    Christina: astute.

  20. #20 Greenpa
    March 26, 2011

    Sharon; I ran across this on the BBC today:

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/programmes/from_our_own_correspondent/9435803.stm

    It is, unfortunately, a documentation of how, and where, this precise situation can be even worse. Just add a little ancient racism; eg:

    “And now the council has made welfare payments dependent on keeping your house and yard clean.

    “Officials come poking around, checking the toilets and bathrooms, he says.

    “One of his neighbours lost his unemployment money because they found dog excrement in the yard, he adds.”

    There seems to be more than enough ugly to go around.

    I think I really need to go write an upbeat post for my blog. All this is getting to me.

  21. #21 DennisP
    March 26, 2011

    Over the past few years I have constantly been unable to fathom Democrats and the media who so consistently treat Republicans as people with real ideas, as a party with whom the Democrats should work and try to reach compromises. Especially true of the big kahuna – Obama – who works so hard at being a nice guy and working with the GOP.

    In fact the Republican Party is purely evil: their only constituency is the rich and super-rich. They are anti-science and thoroughly hypocritical. These points are so easy to see, yet the Dem’s and media consistently ignore them.

    I would give anything to see Democratic leaders and the Pres. Obama open a full-fledged war against the Republicans. But the only people they are willing to fight are the brown people in the mideast.

    By the way, I have no particular love for the Democrats. Most of them have sold their souls for the sake of corporate political contributions. Few of them really ever listen to and act on behalf of the public. When is the last time you have heard a Democrat utter the words “poverty” and “the poor”? Or show any real concern for civil rights?

    Bob Herbert’s last New York Times column this morning pretty much summed the sad state of this country. Politics ain’t worth a damn at the national level, and becoming less so at the state level. The revolution – if it ever comes – will have to be purely local.

    Yeah at this point I am purely cynical and angry. What do you expect? I live in Wisconsin.

  22. #22 Brad K.
    March 27, 2011

    Sharon,

    I have to differ, here.

    Someone choosing to strike is choosing to bully and often use aggression, hostility, and threat of damage or injury – terror, in other words – to attack a tyrannical opponent, the employer. Strikers choose to penalize their employer by denying the ability to produce profit – or product or service to the waiting customers.

    A striker is unemployed for a time that is expected to be brief, and is absolutely, unequivocally, a personal choice. We don’t provide food stamps for vacations (paid or unpaid), and usually not for sick days.

    In modern America, we have too many lawyers advertising their services to believe there are still any employers around that are clinically, technically, and criminally tyrants to their work force.

    When someone choose to not show up for work, it should be the employer that decides if there will be a job waiting any time in the future.

    Anything else? I call it terrorism, intimidation, and to a protection racket. No, I am not big on unions. Unions as a rule do nothing to improve productivity, reduce the cost of doing business, or increase service to the community. Unless, that is, you are selling union bosses a new golf course.

  23. #23 Greenpa
    March 27, 2011

    Brad “In modern America, we have too many lawyers advertising their services to believe there are still any employers around that are clinically, technically, and criminally tyrants to their work force.”

    wow. We so do not live on the same planet.

  24. #24 Greenpa
    March 27, 2011

    Brad, let me try to soften that slightly. You and I often agree, but that statement really caught me completely off guard. Seriously- it’s not compatible with what I consider my physical reality. All I can think is that you cannot BE an employee; nor can you have any – or at least none you talk intimately with. All my employees, past and present, have had genuine horror stories to relate; comparable to Dickens’ worst. And all from today.

    I’m still boggling; but I don’t think you’re icky. I’m just, all, like “what!!” :-)

  25. #25 Scotlyn
    March 27, 2011

    The use of the strike, the sacrifices made by union members of the past, and the hard-won right of employees to bargain collectively on their own behalf, are the only reason the lawyers above have any employment law to cite.

    Any state passing a law such as the one cited above, in stipulating that prospective strikers should be punitively threatened by the withdrawal of food from their children’s mouths, effectively positions that state on the side of employers in any dispute.

    Employers do not need to be a collective in order to be already holding the balance of power vis-a-vis their employees – the current jobless rate puts every employer in the driver’s seat, and provides each with a credible threat (whether implicit or explicit) to use against their own employees.

    Now, more than ever, employees need laws that even that playing field and do not disempower them, reversing past gains. Brad’s suggestion that it is somehow illegitimate for employees to bargain on their own behalf is absolutely abhorrent.

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