Monday, July 27, 2009

Taxes Are NOT Political

I am so bloody sick of taxes.

Not taxes themselves. Taxes, I get. We need schools, social services, parks, cops (debatable). But could we PLEASE simplify the system?

Last year, I was a resident of Michigan for the entire year. I worked in Michigan, but I also spent 3 months in Baltimore. Evidently, this time I was working in Baltimore created such a mass of chaos that I have still yet to escape from underneath that cloud. Why didn't the State of Michigan just continue taxing me? I was working for an International Organization. I'm pretty sure we could've worked that one out. But instead, I was taxed by both DC and Maryland, and only partially by Michigan, and even though my take-home was less than $20k, I still have to pay Michigan. (Although, they aren't answering their phones, so we'll see...)

So, let's see, poor people get taxed but they won't be able to figure it out. Young people are taxed because we're NOT trying to build a life for ourselves? Am I Republican because I hate paying taxes to an over-inflated, cumbersome and pointlessly convoluted system? No. Taxes Are Not Political, as much as politicians want you to think otherwise. A flat-rate system creates predictability, stability, helps poor people, helps recent grads, streamlines the system and ELIMINATES loopholes. Which, by the way, corporations and rich people use.

Well, anyway, enough angry rambling today. Here's the letter I wrote to my congressman. (I'm big on letters to congresspeople.)

Dear Congressman Camp,

Although I tend to be a more liberal Independent, I support you, and agree with a lot of the work you do.

Recently your newsletter addressed the Energy Tax. Then today, I received an EXTRA tax bill from the State of Michigan. While I made under $30,000 last year, I traveled extensively, and so paid Maryland AND DC Taxes out of my paystub. The amount I took home was far less than the $30k salary, and I had personal financial struggle because of it, including credit card debt and repaying my (University of Michigan) student loans.

So now I have to cough up an additional $700 for the State of Michigan, when I'm struggling to build a life for myself at 23, including planning a wedding.

I don't necessarily mind paying taxes. I know that good education and social services require taxes. I just wish the system was simpler.

Why can't we assess the poverty line, and for every dollar you make above the poverty line, you're taxed a flat rate, like 8%? This would solve a lot of problems created by the recession in two important ways, in my opinion.

1. Clarity: People who could NOT afford a company to do their taxes (like me) would have a simple process that was understandable, and not so complicated that you had to pay penalty fees when you don't understand what you're supposed to do.

2. Stability: In uncertain times, why continue to dump stress on people struggling to make ends meet? If people can prepare, plan for their taxes, without requiring a calculus degree to predict how much they'll have to pay, it would create one little factor of stability in a time of uncertainty.

I believe Oregon does this. And I believe that they have Tax Estimator on their state website. Do we have anything like that? Can't we try helping out Michiganders for once? It takes a lot of guts to stay in a state that has such a high unemployment rate. But for some people, like my family, it's not an option, Michigan is their home.

Thanks for listening.

Michelle O'Brien

Friday, July 24, 2009

Racism, Presidential Misstep or Misunderstanding in Cambridge

Black Professor wrongly arrested. Check.
Al Sharpton gets involved. Check.
President Obama says the officer acted "stupidly." Check.
Union reps weigh in on the officer's conduct. Check.
President Obama calls the officer to express regret. Check.

So, was it racism in Cambridge? "Reverse racism" from the White House? Or just a big misunderstanding? I'm willing to bet that we're not quite through with this.

Depending on what you choose to filter through your television at any given moment, The Media has blamed everyone above for racism. No really, everyone! All it takes for 48 hours of maniacal coverage on one topic is a splash of ambiguity. I'd love to give a lecture about racial profiling, and how realistically, the NEIGHBOR is (at least somewhat) at fault for calling the cops in her froofy neighborhood when she saw two black men. I'd like to do that, but I won't. Instead, I'll share a story from one of my first days of solitude in a city I like to call Baltimore. Cambridge, Baltimore could beat you up.

I wrote the following faux-news article in November 2008, after an eventful day, indeed.

White, 20-Something Liberal Bridges Racial Gap at Shoe City

BALTIMORE – Greenmount Avenue got a splash of a new color this morning: white. Having lost her luggage on a flight from Northern Michigan, Michelle O'Brien, a 20-something white liberal, Mapquested her way to a clothing store within a one-mile radius of John Hopkins University.

Walking into Shoe City, Ms. O'Brien was aware that she was the only white person in the store, and, waving the flag of white guilt, she asked for help.

“They were all so nice, once they found out that I had lost all my clothes and needed a whole new wardrobe,” O'Brien claimed, once safely back in her Charles Village apartment, sitting cross-legged on one of her two IKEA sofas. “I felt like we really, like, connected.”

Representatives from Shoe City were unavailable to comment.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Women & Development

Just a quick note for a muggy Wednesday evening.

Lately I have been increasingly interested in Economic Sociology and the empowerment of women.

My recent influences have been:

1. Three Cups of Tea/Greg Mortenson/Central Asia Institute
2. The work of Kiva
3. Development as Freedom by Amartya Sen
4. The work of my good friend Theresa VanderMeer, who unfortunately does not have a website, but who is incredible and brilliant, and has worked extensively with women in India. I will encourage her to get online and will repost a link here!

Friday, June 26, 2009

RIP The Nineteen Eighties - Oh, and Everyone Else, Too

Hours after the internet trickled out news about the death of Farrah Fawcett, it exploded with the news that Michael Jackson was dead.

Personally, I mourned the death of the King of Pop long before yesterday's news. Those of us who grew up with greased up kids sporting a red jacket and white glove, choreographing dances to Janet's Black Cat and being terrified of the music video for Thriller, Michael Jackson has been long gone. The iconic dance, style and voice will be an inspiration for many Justin Timberlakes to come, but the delusional, space-alien-Michael? Hopefully it will act as a huge, flashing PSA against manipulating and hounding child stars.

While I am sad to lose the King, in reality we lost him a long time ago. We can be respectful of his career and influence, without letting the media overwhelm us (a Google News search for Michael Jackson results in over 10,000 articles about his death). Let's not become distracted in a time of the aftermath of the Iranian election, gubernatorial hypocrites and liars, captured US journalists in North Korea (have we already forgotten about them?), Somalian piracy and the rise of suicide bombings there, and rising violence in the Iraq war that our troops are still fighting.

So, if you're going to take a moment of silence for Michael Jackson today, take five, maybe even ten, and incorporate some of the world's more pressing matters.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Higher Taxes vs. Public Transportation Safety

Yesterday evening, at 5pm, a Red Line train near the DC/Maryland border, collided into the train directly in front of it, jack-knifing and piggy-backing on top of it. As of this morning, WMATA had reported 6 confirmed deaths and dozens of injuries, and rescue attempts were still clearing the bodies and injured victims.

The National Transportation Security Board (NTSB) blames the Metro for non-compliance to safety recommendations. Seems logical. The train that was stopped was a 5000-series, newer model, while the train that lost control and crashed into it, was a 1000-series model, which the NTSB recommended retrofitting or replacing. The scary part is that the Metro refused on the basis of taxes.

Maybe if the Metro, the only public transportation without guaranteed funding, had some sort of stable cash flow, they could make long term adjustments and address safety concerns. Hopefully this accident will cast light on the flawed system and bring about a dialogue about insuring safety.

On a personal note, this accident occured outside of my station, during rush hour. Not only were my fiance and I at risk, although we serendipitously met in Arlington instead of going straight home, but we had to haggle with a cab driver, get through blocked roads, and fork over $50 in order to get home. And we had the cash to make it happen. Most of DC's residents do NOT. Shuttles are ineffective, and many can't afford to make it to work.

Socio-Economic tensions? Ahhh... smells like DC.

Monday, June 15, 2009

U.S. Government Wasteful? Nah...

The last few months, I've had to really bite my tongue over government waste. I've been contracting with a Small Business Programs office at the Pentagon, and on Friday, they terminated our contract after a series of rifts between the company and the office.

This office was like an elementary school playground. It had bullies, kids who picked their noses and slept through class, and crossing guards and hall monitors who had basically no real authority.

Except these weren't rowdy kids with nothing better to do. These were GS-12s and GS-15s, getting paid six-figures, doing practically nothing, traveling to meaningless conferences and events, and taking every Friday off. Sometimes taking several weeks at a time off.

Just letting you know, your tax dollars pay for that office. A hamster's cage of pathetic creatures who want to shake things up just to advance their careers. Tasteless, really.

They forced us to hire at least four staff who we would not have normally hired, and then terminated without warning, so those staff, plus half a dozen others are out of a job, as of today. These are people that this office insisted on hiring, because they were the best for the job, and they didn't even give them the consideration of a warning shot.

We are a small company, so firing 10 people is about HALF of our normal staff. And this is the model for treating small businesses at the DoD - from a Small Business Programs office? Chew on that for a minute.

I'd love to quantify all the ways they waste, and oh, I do have that information.

For those of you who are interested in Government Contracting Waste, feel free to use the following resource:

Make a public access username and password. The only difference is that there is a 90 day delay for DoD data, for security purposes.

you can download free training resources at

I suggest the Data Dictionary, which will help you sort abbreviations and codes out.

Whatever you find, make public. Some of us have our hands tied, but the government is responsible to its constituents, right?


Thursday, May 7, 2009

Fear, the Flu, and Farming

Remember your European History class in high school? You know, the one where the coolest guy (in your extremely dorky opinion) was the one wearing the baggy black t-shirt with a rat screen-printed on the front of it? And above, in Gothic lettering, it read: "BLACK DEATH" and below: "EUROPEAN TOUR 1347-1351"?

Okay, maybe that was just me, but you have to admit that everybody loved the stories of the bubonic plague. The drama! The tragedy! The Monty Python references!

Anyway, the idea that diseases could spread wildly and kill off whole tens of percentages of the population is nothing new. Rat-infested Europe's population suffered from the bubonic plague fairly consistently for 400 years. And yes, this little germazoid (known in the scientific community as Yersitia pestis) is still around, still infecting 1,000 to 3,000 people globally every year, including a whole 10-15 in the United States. So, if you're feeling plague-y, antibiotics are effective now, and try not to play with flea-infested rodents so much.

Gosh, compared to this ruckus, Swine flu sounds like a day in the park! Well, yes and no. First the good news: the symptoms of H1N1 are mild and very similar to the normal run-of-the-mill flu. In fact, there are estimations that many more Americans have had H1N1 than have been reported, but didn't have extreme symptoms that would cause a doctor to test his or her blood.

Now, on the flipside, we have to take responsibility for why this is happening. It's no secret that smooshing 100 acres worth of animals into a facility the size of my grandfather's pole barn can be hazardous. Many claim, it's farming, it's a way of life. But, let's say you were a Medieval European, cramming a million rats into your apartment. You'd probably be dead and/or institutionalized, whichever came first.

No offense to pigs, or anything, but they eat and poop anything and everything. Really, really. And that kind of environment is excellent for viruses, and even better, virus mutation. So take a million virus mutating vessels, shove them all into your apartment, no go on, do it. See how the virus mutates! Now it can affect humans. You know, like day laborers in Mexico where we (and I use the term lightly. What I mean to say is Smithfield, but don't tell them, okay?) outsourced our farm (you know, the American way of life?) and let the pigs crap all over the village and let the people drink the water from that ground and work with pigs for 10 cents an hour. Voila! Swine flu.

Laurie Garrett describes it a lot better than I can.

Food and Water Watch (consumer advocacy org) does a pretty good job of connecting the dots, too.

The Humane Society has a lot to say about this, obviously.

What I'm trying to say, is that factory farming is really, really, really bad. It's bad for farmers, and it's bad for animals, and by gods, it's bad for humans. If we don't act over salmonella, and we don't act over e-coli, and we don't act over H1N1, what will be the thing to actually get our attention?

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Monopoly is my LEAST Favorite Game

Remember when you moved on your own for the first time, out of your parents' house? You thought, alright. Making decisions on my own -- FREEDOM at last.

And then rent came due? And then utilities? And, holy shit, my internet connection costs HOW much?

So, your first month's bills [almost completely] paid, you think, I will change companies and find a better deal. Fuck Comcast. Oh, wait, Comcast is the only provider in the area? Excuse me? Isn't that a monopoly?

Well, technically no. Basically, the big ISPs (Comcast in nearly every community) carve up counties and regions to provide coverage to. Meaning in most neighborhoods, it's the company's way or the highway.

Wilson, North Carolina, residents chose the highway. Their very own, high-speed, information highway (I know, I know, gag me on that term). Anyway, taxes don't pay for it, residents who use it do, just like they would with any other ISP. It's just at cost, instead of at ... monopolized price fixing jerk prices.

The reaction? Their former ISP went berserk. The North Carolina House and Senate formed bills to keep a town or city from every doing this again. How could they?! Why would anyone want to hurt lil' ol' Comcast by wrenching control out of its hands...?

As someone who incessantly uses the internet, and pretty regularly complains about big-business ISPs, I think it's crucial that we back Wilson residents in their attempts to stop this legislation. One avenue may be to write the NC reps, one may be to write your own.

Another could be to buzz the shit out of this issue. If you're on a social media site, please use tags to label any posts about this issue -- I'll be Twittering with #Greenlight and #WilsonISP

Oh and just in case you didn't know:

Write your Senator:
Write your House Rep:

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Revolutionary Road

This will be a short blog about my suburbia paranoia.

Revolutionary Road is a gut-wrenching novel written in 1961, long before mainstream criticism of the White Flight to the suburbs. Richard Yates' character development is impressive. At once, you simultaneously detest, empathize with and cheer for both Frank and April Wheeler. The fights between these two harbor an intensity that speaks to a long history of misplaced resentment.

In short, it's terrifying.

More terrifying than any sci-fi, thriller or horror novel I've read.

If you've lived in a metropolitan area, ever, you know what I'm talking about. Suburbia Paranoia. In DC, living in NOVA means convenience, strip malls, moving into a rich man's house in the middle of nowhere, a long commute, staying home with the kids, and eventual death by suburbia.

We're waiting for the movie to come to Netflix, but if you've seen it, let me know if it's any good.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Housing Market Research

I promised myself I wouldn't write a blog about the housing market, but here I am. I'll try to make it interesting, at least.

Tyler and I are looking to buy a house. Well, I'm looking. He's sweating, biting his nails, rubbing his beard thoughtfully and setting budgets. I, on the other hand, am panting over gardens and finished basements.

And WHY you may ask? Why are we thinking about this when we've got 7 months left in our lease, two insanely stressful jobs and no plans to stay in this area for longer than 5 years? Probably because our rent is so balls-effing high. In fact, our current rent is 25% higher than many of the houses on the market right now!

With the so-called "Zone of Sanity" nowhere near where we want to live (hint, hint, that's why your housing market didn't crash!) and Unemployment rates making everyone a little skittish... we're in a screwed-screwed situation.

Furthermore, when did we start having these grown-up worries? I think it's part of this DC culture. It makes more sense financially to buy so now we're worried about the housing market. It makes more sense financially to work hard for a few years to make a name for yourself, so we commute and we work long hours to make our year-end bonus. All this when in an ideal world, we'd both be cherry farming bloggers!

What's your "ideal world" fantasy? Can we really make it happen? Can just anyone live their fantasy, or by the nature of global society, do we sacrifice our dreams for the inner-workings of the market economy? Any thoughts, blog readers?

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Tax Day Misery

Stumbling through the rain with a ridiculously large umbrella and two gloriously stuffed envelopes under my coat, I opened the hatch of that blue steel box and mailed my tax returns away. Away, I say!

What a mess. Last year, I lived in Maryland and Michigan, worked in Michigan and Maryland, but not Washington, DC, collected non-taxable income, collected taxable income, and moved three times. Not to mention my loving but misleaded parents (again!) claimed me as a dependent, at the age of 23, so we'll see how that goes over with the IRS.

Speaking of the IRS, I'm a little peeved with them right now. In fact, an entire slieu of government agencies have gotten on my bad side in the last few weeks.

Now, before my rampage, let me reiterate that I don't align with any political party, and I don't believe that taxes are bad. Especially not when they go towards schools and public works and subsidized housing. So, it's not the IDEA of taxes, it's how they're used.

Let me begin with everyone's best friend in that stab-you-in-the-back junior high kind of way:

1. The IRS
My taxable income was less than $25,000 this year. I told the IRS to just take it. Take as much money as you want right now and I will just collect on my tax refund. I'm single, I have no kids, no obligations, cheap rent. This was a huge mistake. In addition to all that money that they (State and Federal) took out this year, they asked for an ADDITIONAL 3%. That's $750, kids. Last time I try to be straight-forward.

2. The FDA and USDA
What a monstrosity. Our food regulation system is so effing kaput. Peanut butter, spinach, tomatoes, and now PISTACHIOs. I hate you, food regulation system. If we're going to be readjusting our spending, why don't we help the FDA out on that whole Food side. Or, better yet, let the FDA dissolve into the MDRA - Medicinal Drug Regulation Administration and let the USDA dissolve into the AMPMA - American Meat Products Marketing Administration. Take the remaining pot and start an unbiased consumer-focused regulatory administration that will actually prevent salmonella outbursts instead of just mention them in a weekly news release.

3. The SBA
This narrow-minded beaurocratic nightmare focuses on government agencies not meeting Small Business contracting goals, and Small Business loans. While I think they have their motives, these efforts have no traction. Loans for start-ups? In this economy? How about resources and training on how to grow and diversify to become more resistant to recessions. Instead of giving scorecards and tssk tssk's to agencies not meeting the Small Business goal, why don't you give them a list of small business market research firms that they can contract with to grow their programs and include new businesses?

And on that note, every day I become more of an anarchist. Today is no different.

For now, I'll anxiously await news from the IRS. With any luck, I'll get a mysterious anonymous phone call, and a man on the other end with a calm, deep voice will say:

Congratulations on filing your taxes, you sheep.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Reinstate the Love Letter

This week I take 10 flights in 6 days. I'm halfway through now, and with all of the travel, the time changes, (4 time zones in 6 days...) and the hassle of rental cars, expenses, conferences and weddings, I found that layovers are the perfect opportunity to get back into my comfort zone.

No, it's not home. It's empty and full at the same time. Full of strangers: grown men crying over the loss of a parent, children running from their parents, spouses taking turns napping in the stiff leather seats. No room to be left alone, but all the loneliness in the world.

The terminals are ripe with characters for the mind's stage. It was here that I started writing again, after a long dry spell. It didn't start with a political blog or a rant about the shortcomings of congress. I didn't comment on the washed up celebrities in dark glasses that haunt LAX. I wrote a love letter. I used an ink pen and a notepad. And I read it aloud to my partner when it was finished.

With all the blogging, vlogging, facebooking and twittering that we do, as a culture, in DC, it was overwhelmingly pure to write something down again. No, not just anything, it was writing my emotions, my feelings down that seemed so pure. I felt like a poet, a Thoreau in my own version of the wilderness. The burden of politics, as only a DC resident can feel, floated away.

I've had this feeling before. I kept a journal through my travels in Russia, documenting my heartbeat as the plane landed in St. Petersburg and I finally saw those heavenward-reaching birch trees, as a nationalistic rally raged and our tour guide was assaulted, as the pungent aromas of dill and honey mixed in the open market and I was called "Senora" for the first [and last] time of my life.

So this morning, on flights 7 & 8 of my travels, I will bring a notebook and an ink pen, and see what happens. I encourage you to do the same, especially if you find that you're starting to hunch because of that DC weight.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Obama Closing Gitmo

This morning, new President Barack Obama called for a suspension of trials at Gitmo.

To be honest, I was a Michigan voter, I didn't get the chance to vote for Obama in the primaries. My vote went to Dodd. I worked for a labor union that endorsed Senator Clinton during the primaries, and, as part of my professional obligations, I worked in Indiana on her campaign. This is a wholly separate story, but rural Indiana was going for Hillary anyway.

But then I saw the Yes We Can video for the first time, and I understood the movement of the Obama Nation. I did not work on his campaign, except for occassionally helping my office put together a few yard signs, and post a few blogs and articles. I did not stomp for him, and I did not put my whole life aside for his campaign. I could have done more, and many have and will continue to argue that I should have.

My response has and will continue to be that I am a young, white liberal. I came to DC as an idealist. This was never my campaign. I cannot and will not claim it as my own. There are millions of people who worked harder, risked more and struggled longer than I can even know, who deserved to be out there at the inaugural speech, and at the inaugural balls. I was in DC, and I watched it on the Internet, drank a bottle of wine and jumped up with joy when he mentioned "non-believers" in his speech. And I was optimistic, too.

Cautiously optimistic, like so many have described themselves. Then, this morning, as I drank my coffee and checked my news alerts, I remembered Obama's pledge to close Gitmo. Here, now, a politician keeping his word. In an era of Blagojevich, Cheney, Rumsfield and our beloved finally ex-president George W. Bush, how refreshing to have someone keep a promise.

Congratulations to the Obama campaigners, stompers and movers, and congratulations to the new Obama administration. With so much work ahead, this is an encouraging first step.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Profanity & Child Prostitution in South Carolina

An amendment proposal, sponsored by Senator Robert Ford (D), was introduced to the South Carolina State Senate this week.

The amendment would ban oral and written profanity basically everywhere outside the home, punishable by a fine of up to $5,000 or 5 years in jail, or both.

I could make some comment here about their legal system, and that if they really wanted to fill up some vacant cells, they should take out ads in a local apartment magazine, or

But I think my favorite part of this amendment is that it would be included in an already existing bill that outlaws the following:

1. disseminating or exhibiting to minors harmful material or performances
2. employing a person under the age of eighteen years to appear in a state of sexually explicit nudity in a public place
3. first degree sexual exploitation of a minor
4. second degree sexual exploitation of a minor
5. third degree sexual exploitation of a minor
6. promoting prostitution of a minor

No, really. Run a highly profitable and sleezy child prostitution ring? Just as bad as swearing in front of my 17 year old brother. Really.

Not to mention, profanity is not defined in the amendment, so the traditional 7 words would probably be included, but what about taking the Lord's Name in Vain? If my brother hears me yell "OH MY GOD" in a public place, will I go to jail? And holy sh** (sorry, Senator Ford), Jon Stewart would have to cancel his show there.

Oh, and by the way, Senator Ford has also written bills to get sex offenders on a global positioning satellite (a GPS, except for everything, and unhelpful in areas of construction) and to extend the smoking ban in South Carolina.

This amendment probably will not go through, but it is South Carolina. You never know.

Monday, January 12, 2009

My EFCA Opinion

There has been a lot of one-sided talk about EFCA. Maybe that's because my research is primarily on the very organizations that see it as a challenge or a threat.

On Friday, the American Meat Institute (AMI, and don't be fooled, they represent the companies, not the people who work on the floor) along with Coalition for a Democratic Workplace (CDW, an anti-union organization) sent a letter to Congress urging them to stamp out the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA). With selected soundbytes from Republicans (why are we trusting them, again?) it could almost, maybe, make sense. According to CEOs and rich old white men who live in DC, EFCA will most certainly:

*Allow unions to sweep in and organize whoever they please, with or without workers' consent.
*Greatly reduce productivity, profits, margins, etc.
*Undercut the incredibly friendly efforts to reform labor law.
*Bring world demise.

Let's discuss, keeping in mind a few things. One, I have been a union organizer and researcher, which makes me part of the frontline, which makes me emotionally attached to the people that this bill would benefit. Two, that I no longer work in the labor movement, and that there are plenty of things wrong with it, things that I could not personally overcome, but that regardless of my workplace experience, unions are still statistically and anecdotally better for the worker than standing alone and unprotected.

*Allow unions to sweep in and organize whoever they please, with or without workers' consent.*The wording of the first argument exemplifies all that is wrong with the perception of unions in this country. Unions don't sweep in. Workers express concern. Workers and union organizers work together so that workers organize. In fact, the job of the union organizer is to be a resource for workers to use, the liaison between the information and history of the organization and the poultry worker who can't keep up with the line.
Secondly, EFCA would allow less time between workers organizing and employers intimidating them to vote no on the union for which they already signed a card authorizing representation.

Make no mistake. THIS HAPPENS. Employers have one-on-ones with union-friendly employees, they have mandatory meetings about all of the terrible things about unions, and they use personal relationships to manipulate employees into voting no. One of the great things about EFCA, and one of the most important things, is that it greatly reduces the employers ability to harass, manipulate and fire its workers over the union.

*Greatly reduce productivity, profits, margins, etc. * Union shops are statistically more productive than non-union shops. As far as profits and margins, since when did the worker benefit from those? Not in my lifetime. Next time you feel like doing some economic research, compare a worker's salary with that of a CEO. Maybe if rich old white men didn't bail with those golden parachutes, there would be more money for, you know, workers to have health insurance.

*Undercut the incredibly friendly efforts to reform labor law.* Oh, give me a break. With perhaps the exception of home healthcare workers, who are independently contracted with state governments, I have never, ever seen a "friendly" interaction between employers and unions. You mean rich old white men (seeing a pattern yet?) are trying to make it so that their incredibly diverse, nonwealthy men and women workers can get a leg up and get fair treatment? No, I don't think so. (This whole blog is making me want to write a rant on the contradictions of being a Republican... like pro-business and anti-universal health care which would dramatically cut the cost of hiring full-time staff. Alas, another day.)

*Bring world demise.* Really? Because I was pretty sure that the food crisis (see Cargill, Monsanto, ADM on that one), the economic crisis (Lehman Brothers, Freddie Mac, Fannie Mae), the political corruption (Blagojevich, Ted Stevens, even Sarah Palin can be counted here) and the world errupting into war zones (Middle East, Eastern Europe, Latin America) were all adding to the eventual irrevocable end. Right?

So my next question I pose to the communications, organizing and strategic research departments of labor unions: WHAT ARE YOU SAYING ABOUT EFCA? Whatever it is, it needs to be clearer, more widespread, and louder.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Blagojevich Impeached

The House voted overwhelmingly (114-1) today to impeach Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich. It was clear to most (evidently not to 1, see above) after Blagojevich was caught on tape soliciting bribes to candidates for Barack Obama's former Senate seat.

This makes Blagojevich the fourth of the last eight Illinois governors to be arrested.

1. Otto Kerner
Arrested for, surprise surprise, accepting bribes.

2. Daniel Walker
Received over $1 million from fraudulent loans.

3. George Ryan
Charges included: racketeering, bribery, extortion, money laundering and tax fraud.

At least this allows us, as voters, to realize that all politicians, Democrats and Republicans, have corruption in the blood. Pretty good job, Illinois.