July 15, 2015

20 Myths the Democratic Party promotes

The Democratic Party sells itself as the caring, labor supporting, peace loving, conciliatory, health care promoting institution. However, their promises to work for the betterment of the nation and the people are false. While there are a few Democrats that don’t work exclusively for the moneyed elite, the party as a whole works for the wealthy and large corporations. It is time for members to reevaluate their participation in the party, especially its more progressive members.
It is also time for Democrats to get over their denial if they truly support progressive policies that benefit the people in the United States and not just a few elite. If you really believe in wealth, income and political equality, and you want things to change, you have two choices. One, you can push for progressive Democrats when they run for office and criticize the corporate Democrats. Or, you can leave the party and vote Socialist Alternative, Green or for another progressive party.
Here are some of the myths about the Democratic Party and their politics that party members must overcome so they can move on.

Myth #1: Nader caused Gore to lose the election in 2000.

Nader did not cause Gore to lose in 2000. The causes of Gore’s election loss in 2000 include Al Gore and his failure to get the still popular Clinton to help him, but the biggest causes were voter purging in Florida and the Supreme Court that handed George W. Bush the election.
As Matthew Jones wrote in Mother Jones, “It’s really difficult to make the argument that Ralph Nader cost Al Gore the 2000 election, for multiple reasons. There were only 560 votes separating George Bush from Al Gore. That’s essentially within every margin of error, which...means that there’s too many other factors that could have affected it to say with any confidence what caused Al Gore to lose and George Bush to win.”
It’s time for Democrats to accept that Gore lost, and it wasn’t Ralph Nader’s fault. Until the membership gets over this fundamental myth, they will never accept an alternative to the corporate Democrats.

Myth #2: The Democrat Party is leftist.

The Democrats have not passed what could seriously be called leftist legislation since Lyndon Johnson was in office. Left policies include single payer health care, effective campaign finance laws or gun safety laws. The Democrats failed to take action on these and other left policies when they had a majority in Congress. Why? Because the party as a whole is not leftist. The party always had conservative members, even more so today, especially in the leadership. And while a majority of the Democrats may support some liberal social policy like gay marriage, reproductive rights and equal pay for women, they have a terrible record on policing and minority rights, educational rights (schools are almost as segregated as they were in the 60s), housing and other civil rights issues. The best thing we can say about Eric Holder, Obama's Attorney General for 6 years, is that he has a 'mixed record', champion some civil rights while attacking civil liberties.
Democrats controlled the White House and Congress in Obama’s first two years in office and didn’t end the Bush tax cuts (really, bipartisan tax cuts), end the wars or close The Guantanamo Detention Center. If they were so left-wing, what happened? The truth is, the Democratic party is not leftist on economic or foreign policy issues despite the welcome push for marriage equality and marijuana legalization, historically progressive issues.

Myth #3: George W. Bush and the Republican Party were (solely) responsible for the recent Iraq and Afghan wars.

That just isn’t true. It was a bipartisan effort. A majority of Democratic Senators voted for the resolution for presidential war powers in 2002 and about 40% of the House Democrats also approved of the bill. And since then, Congress has authorized funding for the wars numerous times with the help of Democrats. They only once tried to block the funding in any serious manner, lead by former Rep. Dennis Kucinich.
The Democrats have voted to fund the war over and over, even when they controlled the Senate and House at the beginning of Obama’s first term. No, Democrats, you have your own party to blame for the continuation and in large part the start of the war. Democratic House leader at the time, Richard Gephardt, pushed the war resolution, ““Everything changed with 9-11,” Gephardt declared. “If you’re worried about where terrorists will get these weapons, the first place you’d be concerned about is Iraq.” Other Democratic Party leaders also pushed the war. They were cowards in face of a charge to war.

Myth #4: The Democratic Party supports workers, not corporations.

That just isn’t true anymore of the party of Roosevelt. The Democratic party has done little for the middle class in thirty years. In fact, “Democrats simply don't consistently support concrete policies that help the broad working and middle classes. Half of them voted for the bankruptcy bill of 2005. They don't do anything for labor. They're soft on protecting Social Security…bailed out the banks but refused to bail out underwater homeowners…they can't even agree to kill the carried interest loophole, a populist favorite if ever there was one.”
Moreover, “…the Democrats are one side of the pro-capitalist U.S. political system…There is no changing the structure, nor the entrenched capitalism, of the Democrats.”
And while Democrats consider increasing the retirement age for workers and making other cuts to Social Security, they continue to pass corporate welfare bills, “One of the great bipartisan follies of American politics is the idea that the way to make your state (or city) more prosperous is through corporate welfare – in particular, policies meant to lure in companies with cash, tax breaks, or both. Rare is the politician in either party who dissents from the conventional wisdom that it’s the government’s task to “improve the economy” by using targeted incentives.”
In many cases, municipalities lose money on these deals. (ibid) But the corporate allies of the Democrats get a tax break, and that’s fine with them.

Myth #5: The Republicans are the party of the wealthy and corporations.

Well, that is true, but now, “…big business has...aligned itself with the Democratic Party.” Also, “Big business is working with the Democrats in favor of immigration reform because they want to expand the labor supply so they can hire people for lower wages. Big business has also received special treatment under the Affordable Care Act and they are happy to have received those favors.” (ibid)
Labor used to have some influence with the Democratic party; their influence is now minor and limited to only a few Congressional Districts. And even in those districts, like in San Francisco, labor faces fierce opposition from corporations like Bank of America and Twitter.

Myth #6: The Democratic Party is a party of peace and negotiation, and Obama promotes peace.

One look at the party’s votes for the Iraq war authorization, the hit list created by Obama, Kennedy and Johnson’s support for the Vietnam war and the years of war supported by a majority of Democrats and their other covert actions against the citizens of the world belie this lie about peace loving Democrats. Moreover, the Obama “…administration’s posture on Iran has already violated international law—using open threats and coding a few others. (Everybody knows what “all options are on the table” means.)”
Perhaps many of you don’t believe this myth, but the party’s war mongering is reason to challenge anybody's support for the party.

Myth #7: The Democratic Party is pro-labor.

Today, there are more pro-business Democrats in Congress than pro-labor Democrats. And, “There is an obvious reason why politicians do not keep campaign promises: although working people represent the vast majority of the electorate,small campaign contributions represent only 13 percent of all donationslarge donors contribute 48 percent.” Congress members, especially in the House of Representatives, have to get donations to run for office. Corporations give the most and are the most reliable and being too liberal can lose candidates funds for reelection.
Thirty years ago, more or less, Democrats and labor supported each other. Now, it is a one-way love fest with unions still supporting anti-labor Democrats that ignore labor’s needs. For example, President Obama’s Race to the Top is a promotion of charter schools that will weaken unions, “The Obama administration strongly supports privatization via charters; one condition of Race to the Top was that states had to increase the number of charters.” No, the Democratic party no longer supports labor unions or workers.
The Democrats passed the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) that lost the nation an estimated million jobs. At the same time, “Democrats ended the only program that guaranteed a basic income for the poor (welfare), downsized the U.S. government, initiated the present policy of militarization of the Mexican border, and enforced sanctions on Iraq that killed over a million of its people. Bill Clinton based his economic policies around the corporate goals of boosting Wall Street.”
Clinton also pushed through a repeal of Glass-Steagall banking regulations, which was a major cause of the 2008 financial crisis.
And when Obama became president, he appointed “…former Federal Reserve Board Chairman Paul Volcker to head a White House advisory board to oversee the new administration's policies for stabilizing financial markets. The selection of the 81-year-old Volcker puts an inveterate enemy of the working class at the side of the new president, and demonstrates the class character of the right-wing government that Obama is assembling.”
So much for the Democrats being the party of labor.

Myth #8: Policy is most important to the Democratic Party.

Democrats talk well and hit all the talking points when addressing the public. Meanwhile, they are in private meetings fund raising from wealthy donors. For example, both Obama and Clinton made back room deals with the nuclear power industry to keep the donations coming.
Obama and Clinton have also reassured Wall Street that they wouldn’t face to arduous regulations, fines or punitive action for their role in the 2008 crash. It’s common practice; corporations get access, the people don’t.
The New Democrats have been working especially closely with business interests.Their donor list is a who’s, who of lobbyists, law firms and big business. The U.S. is a plutocracy, and Democrats are parts of that system. Garnering money and pleasing their donors, or a least not angering them, is what is most important. Helping people in the U.S. is an afterthought.

Myth #9: The Democratic party is the “lesser of two evils.”

First off, there is no such thing as ‘evil.’ It is a social construct used by people too lazy, ignorant, or too busy to accurately describe why an action, person, party or group is harmful to others. Moreover, if you believe in evil, why would you vote for one party over another, both being evil? Both parties act to stay in power, often at the expense of people in the U.S. and the world. Neither party is righteous.
[Editors note by Punk Patriot: The Democratic Party is often the more effective evil, able to pass really bad legislation that the rank and file of the DNC oppose, when the GOP can't.]

Myth #10: The Democratic Party is the loyal “opposition.”

They are loyal, not as opposition, but to the two-party monopoly that runs this nation.The fact is that, “The two 19th-century political groupings divide up the spoils of a combined $6.4 trillion that is extracted each year from taxpayers at the federal, state, county and municipal levels. Though rhetorically and theoretically at odds with one another, the two parties have managed to create a mostly unbroken set of policies and governance structures that benefit well-connected groups at the expense of the individual.”
Both parties work together to sell us neoliberalism and stay in power. That is their main goal. If the economy grows for the well off and the powerful and statistics make it look like everyone has benefitted regardless of the reality, then to Democrats, they have succeeded.

Myth #11: The Democratic Party cares about inequality.

The rhetoric the party uses demonstrates that they care. Phrases like “I feel your pain” (Bill Clinton), “We know we’ve got to attack poverty by making sure the economy works for everybody” (Hillary Clinton) and “I didn't come from privilege. I've said before and I mean this -- this is the only country on Earth where my story is possible” (Barack Obama) suggest a certain amount of caring. However, the actions of the party as a whole since the 70s tells us they care little. In fact, “…despite the obvious utility of a combative, working-class message—I will fight for your rights against the banks and the fat cats—it’s not going to happen. So far, Clinton is more interested in consensus than conflict, and there’s little chance that will change in her official presidential campaign.”
Put differently, Clinton has no interest in offending donors and other wealthy supporters. Or, as Scheiber writes, “Though she derided the Republican practice of cutting taxes on the wealthy...she made no mention of tax increases or more aggressive measures, like capping the pay of chief executives or modestly taxing stock market transactions.”” (ibid)
The suggestion that labor is a counterbalance to corporate power is an elite invention, “No, the problem is that the Democratic Party lacks an institutional counterweight to the loud voices of wealthy donors and power brokers.” (ibid) While there are some in the party that work for equality, the rhetoric fades away as does the memory of the election, “After making fighting income inequality an early focus of his second term, President Obama has largely abandoned talk of the subject this election year in a move that highlights the emerging debate within the Democratic Party over economic populism and its limits.”
If the party did care, they would end the war on drugs and stop the schools to prison pipeline by adequately funding schools across the United States. They could also work to pass a living wage, or at least try to pass such legislation. They don’t because winning elections is good enough for them.

Myth #12: The Republicans are the enemy.

Democrats have worked in many ways for corporations and against citizens. By seeing the Republicans as the enemy, you let the Democrats into your house where they can do lots of harm. A Republican would have had a harder time getting NAFTA passed over Democratic opposition, but President Clinton cajoled his party, got them to uphold party discipline to support their president, and got the trade packages through Congress.
If we are going to divide the world into friend or foe, let us not be distracted by the duopoly that perpetuates the two-party system to keep us fighting each other. The truth is, the anti-labor moneyed elite, the sociopaths who appear through lack of action and debate to have few feelings about hunger, extreme child poverty, homelessness or people without health care dying in hospitals are the enemy, not you and me.
As dissent arises, “…against the corporate and business dominance of our nation, the media and their proxies manufacture an artificial schism in the American population to get the attention diverted away from themselves. The propaganda of hate, the propaganda of the oppositional other, the divisive discourse against those that have superficial disagreements with you, a technique we know as divide and conquer, is a powerful strategy. That’s how the elite in this nation stay in power against overwhelming numerical odds.”
Ultimately, it is the elite against the rest of us.

Myth #13: The Democratic Party will fight for campaign finance reform

Here is another issue that some of the Democratic membership supports, that the party platform mentions, but the politicians have done little to address. Many in the party won’t touch the issue.
In Oregon this year, the Democratic majority in the legislature killed campaign finance legislation. Both parties not only benefit from the increasing campaign contributions, they feel they can’t win without the funds. In New York, Democrats failed to bring a law on campaign finance to the floor of the state house. Killing campaign finance reform is a bipartisan effort.
And when given the cover of Republicans who can be blamed for their failure, Democrats will vote and work against campaign finance reform, “This week the U.S. Senate considered a constitutional amendment that would have allowed Congress and state legislatures to limit the power of money in politics. The debate was not much covered in the media because the outcome was so predictable.” This is how little both parties care about the citizens having a voice in U.S. politics.

Myth #14: The Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) is a major step in health care reform.

First off, let’s stop with the “Republicans blocked single payer health care” lie, “The argument by many liberals that the administration’s plans for health care were wrecked by conservative Democrats and Republicans in the Senate does not hold water. The evidence shows that the Obama Administration made a deal with hospital, drug, and health insurance companies before the bill was even released into the Senate.” Obama didn’t want single payer health care, and unlike the efforts to get support for the Trans-Pacific Partnership, did not push single-payer health care in Congress.
In was a corporate bill from day one, “Obamacare, the Affordable Care Act (ACA),was supported by the health care lobby which include big pharma, insurance, hospitals and HMOs. The corporate law was supported by both parties, and is touted by the White House as a victory. Yes, it is a victory, for corporations...it kept corporations in the profit making business of healthcare by putting the costs onto taxpayers and those that buy insurance. And the insurance mandate meant more costumers for insurance companies...”
It was written to protect corporate profit, “After all, from the standpoint of the health care industry, the system is working just fine for their profits.” It does help more people get health care, at a price.

Myth #15: The Democratic Party is pro-education, pro-teacher

The party hasn’t been pro-teacher for years. In fact, leaders in the party like Bill Clinton, Barack Obama, Rahm Emanuel and others have actively pushed policies that promote school privatization. And Democratic law-makers have voted for these ideas. As reported in the Washington Post, “For years now it’s been clear that Democrats have splintered over the issue of corporate school reform.
President Obama and Education Secretary Arne Duncan have been leaders of the movement to transform public schools through standardized-test-based “accountability” and the expansion of charter schools, with other Democrats arguing that these reform measures are not effective ways of closing the achievement gap and improving student performance.” Obama and allies in the cabinet have supported challenges to teachers job protections in many states. (ibid)
Obama’s Race to the Top (RTTT) pits schools against schools for funding and uses testing as a benchmark for bonus funding. That is problematic in many ways, but the worst part is that teaching professionals, those currently working in the classroom, have no say over the way the law was written.
RTTT forces states and school districts to compete for $4.35 billion in bonus federal dollars for schools with money going to states that promote charter schools, increase the use of standardized testing and weaken teachers’ protections. Democrats have promoted a corporate educations agenda for years, “Essentially, the scheme sets up a bidding war among the states for desperately needed funds on the basis of an anti-public education agenda that has been promoted for decades by the right wing.”
Pitting schools, districts, states and teachers against one another for measly sums of money won’t promote real educational reform. It will promote “rule following and conformity.” Furthermore, states that promote merit pay for teachers also get bonus points in the 'race' to garner more school funding.
So, teachers’ pay under RTTT is based on how well little John, Sally, Juan, Chin or Lilliana do on a standardized test that is only valid if you don’t considered the cultural and economic variations of all students in the United States.

Myth #16: The Democratic Party will work for financial reform.

That’s just not true; in fact, they supported Bush’s bailout of Wall Street. The Democrats bailed out failing corporations, "as though it were a punitive measure aimed at reigning in corporate greed."
Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi proclaimed at the time, “The party is over...No longer will tax payers be forced to bail out reckless investors.” Then they bailed out Wall Street and didn’t pass new regulations on the banks. (ibid)

Myth #17: Democrats have to move to the center to win elections. Progressives are far too radical to win.

When you look at these supposedly ‘radical’ ideas, you realize they get a lot of support nationally and all over the world.
Progressive ideas that are popular in the United States include higher taxes on the rich, background checks for gun ownership and raising the minimum wage, but Congress either outright rejects these ideas or balks at doing anything about them. Democrats are afraid to support these ideas for fear their donor base might leave them, and they move to the right. However, in 2012 and 2014 Democrats who were progressive and remained so did better than the conservative Democrats even though popular “wisdom” told them to move right.

Myth #18: Obama is a successful president.

Dear Democrats: I know it’s hard to believe a loved one would fail you so. But Obama is at best, an average president.
Obama, “Elected in the midst of a crushing economic crisis brought on by a decade of orgiastic deregulation and unchecked greed...had a clear mandate to rein in Wall Street and remake the entire structure of the American economy. What he did instead was ship even his most marginally progressive campaign advisers off to various bureaucratic Siberias, while packing the key economic positions in his White House with the very people who caused the crisis in the first place.”
His economic team included Michael Froman, from Citigroup; Bob Rubin, formerly co-chair of Goldman Sachs; Henry Paulson, a former head of Goldman Sachs; Tim Geithner, New York Fed Chief; and Larry Summers, Director of the National Economic Council for President Obama and former executive at Citigroup. How is that change we can believe in when this economic team Obama hired had been working for, or in charge of, companies responsible for the 2008 economic collapse?
On foreign policy, like economics, his policies were run by former advisors that got us into the quagmire in the Middle East. On jobs, Obama presented no vision and few programs other than job training for jobs that don’t exist. The other side of his job’s program featured tax incentives for companies hiring U.S. workers, ending up helping corporations as much or than workers. Rebuilding the nation's infrastructure has not been a priority for Obama except in a few speeches. His failed economic vision shows his weakness as president.

Myth #19: The Democratic Party is Entirely Different from the Republican Party

Outside of the margins and some important social issues like choice and gay marriage, the two parties vary little, “That is why big business funds two political parties, so that when one of their parties is discredited, they have their alternative ready to step in. Both Democrats and Republicans are integral parts of the two-party system. But each plays a slightly different role in that system.” (http://www.socialistalternative.org/challenging-capitalism-and-the-two-parties/democrats-two-party-system/)
Issues like immigration, affirmative action, a woman’s right to choose, marriage equality, gun control and other social issues are just window dressing. They are a facade that covers the truth that both parties are fundamentally the same when it comes to economic and foreign policies. Neither party wants Medicaid for all, an end of funding for Israel and other nations that violate humans rights such as Egypt and Saudi Arabia, both perpetuate the electoral system that keeps them in power and nether will do anything to address the fundamental economic inequality in our nation. Neither party is pushing for an increase in taxes on the 1%, though Democrats have feigned and faked that they would.

Myth #20: The Republicans blocked all the decent legislation the Democrats wanted to pass

This is totally false. The fact is in 2008 the Democrats had 60 votes in the Senate. That is a filibuster proof majority. It was the corporate leaning members of the party, Landrieu, Baucus and the like, that blocked a progressive agenda by not overriding filibusters. (http://www.socialistalternative.org/challenging-capitalism-and-the-two-parties/democrats-two-party-system/) The filibuster is not law, nor is it in the Constitution. It is an agreed upon Senate rule.
A majority of Senators can change that rule. They could have passed a rule with a simple majority, 51 votes, to end the filibuster for Presidential appointments and make them actually filibuster other bills. (ibid) But they didn’t, and now people blame the Republicans for the inaction of the Democrats.
In addition, some scholars say Rule 22, the filibuster rule, is not Constitutionalbecause it does not allow a simple majority in the Senate to change it. But the Democrats and the Attorney General did not challenge the rule when it mattered.
Certainly, the differences in the two parties on social issues matter. But don't expect foreign policy, economics or inequality to change under the Democrats.
Peace,
Tex Shelters

June 5, 2015

Baltimore PPA organizer’s car shot up — “We will not be intimidated, silenced or stopped!”

The Baltimore Peoples Power Assembly and Southern Christian Leadership Conference Call for Friday, June 5, 2015 Press Conference at 1 P.M. at 2011 N. Charles Street, Baltimore, MD 21218 to Announce and Release the Following Statement in Response to Organizer’s Car Being Shot Up –

“To the Baltimore City Police Department and all concerned: We will not be intimidated, silenced or stopped! Our organizations and organizers will continue to stand strong until justice is won for Freddie Grey and all of the victims of police terror. We look forward to a strong and united Peoples Assembly and Tribunal on Police Terror called for this Saturday on June 6th.”

This past Tuesday, Sharon Black’s car was shot up with what appears to be a 357 magnum weapon, bullets went through several layers of steel from back to front, aimed at the driver’s head rest. The rear window was also shot up. Black, her son Steven Ceci, a guest from South Central Los Angeles, John Parker, were at her East Baltimore row home when all three heard 5 to 6 gun shots several yards from their residence at approximately 11 P.M. Tuesday night as they returned from work at the PPA’s nearby offices.

This attack is combined with a series of threatening phone calls to both the PPA’s phone line and Black’s personal phone, including a barrage of robotic attacks to both phones and disruptions to the organizations communications systems.

Sharon Black, PPA organizer and Rev CD Witherspoon, SCLC President jointly stated, “We take this attack and other threats very seriously and want to send a clear message to the Baltimore Police Department, the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) and any and all forces that may wish us harm, that we will not be intimidated, silenced or stopped in our continuing fight for justice for Freddie Grey and all victims of police terror. We want to say to all of our concerned friends and supporters: We are stronger than ever and look forward to a vibrant and productive assembly this Saturday, where we will not only hear from the victims of police abuse but plan our next steps toward ending police terror and winning jobs and livable wages now.”

Saturday’s Assembly will take place at New Unity Church, 100 W. Franklin Street, Baltimore, MD 21201 (corner of West Franklin & Cathedral Streets) 2 P.M. to 7 P.M.

April 21, 2015

How much would a $15/hr minimum wage cost?




Why should we have a living wage?  What is the cost of lifting workers out of poverty?

These are important questions that are on a lot of people's minds right now, thanks to the Green Party's campaign for a $15/hr minimum wage in Portland.

If we raise the minimum wage to a living wage, won’t it cause people to lose their jobs?
The short answer is no.  Why?

If you are a businessperson, you don’t break even on the labor of your employees.  (Or if you do, you are bad at business.)  For successful businesses, hiring an employee is only done if the resulting value created by their labor is well above the cost of their labor.  Why?  Because that’s where profit comes from!

But won’t doubling the minimum wage cause the price to the consumer to double?

No.  When you pay for a $5 cup of coffee, much of that $5 you pay is profit for the employer.  Only a small fraction of that cup of coffee goes to pay overhead costs, which can be divided further into raw material costs, utility costs, and labor costs.  So the cost of labor actually makes up a small proportion of the $5 that you’re paying.  So if you were to double that small fraction of the cost, you will see a similarly small increase in the total cost to the consumer.

Perhaps that’s biting off too much to chew all at once.  It’s easy to understand why people think that doubling the wage will result in doubling of prices.  Employees are the people that you speak with on a daily basis, not the owners, and you put your money in the hands of employees, and so it feels correct that they keep most of it.  But that's not the case at all.  A critical part of the equation is missing: employer profit.

Many people don’t realize that the labor that goes into producing a product is necessarily compensated far below productivity.  Profit is the difference between the price of the product to the consumer and the cost to the employer to make that product.  So the cost of labor needs to be less than the cost to the consumer minus raw materials.

Raw material costs vary from product to product, but generally are very low.  Take a fast food meal that costs $8.  With a large soda costing somewhere around $0.07 per cup in seltzer and syrup, and similarly low prices for fries and burgers purchased on massive scales, costs to the employer by way of material costs are very low, like $0.50 per meal.  Labor is the magical ingredient that takes $0.50 of frozen meat patty and french fries, and turns it into an $8 fast food meal.

Now, if we were to reverse the model of compensation, and say that instead of getting a flat hourly wage, instead employees got paid piecework instead, and assuming there was no profit, a worker earning the federal minimum wage would only need to make roughly one meal every hour to pay their wage.  Every additional meal that they make in that hour has only one cost to the employer-- raw materials.

For the sake of making this argument more realistic, let’s say you’ve got a staff of 4 working in the fast food joint.  You would only need to make one $8 meal every 15 minutes to pay the day’s wages.
Over the course of an 8 hour day, that’s only 32 meals per day to pay the labor cost of four employees.

As somebody who has worked in fast food, I can tell you first hand, that in the course of an 8 hour shift, one makes quite a bit more than 32 meals a day.  Granted, it’s not steady, there are some busy times when one makes 100 meals in one hour, and other times where an hour can pass where not a single meal is sold, so given that, it’s safe to assume an average of 32 meals an hour, not 32 meals a day.

At $8 a meal, 32 meals an hour generates $256 per hour.

Accounting for the raw materials of those 32 meals, at $0.50 per meal, the cost is $16 an hour, leaving $240/hr left over for the employer.  Pretty good so far.

So now we need to pay our workers. Those 32 meals an hour, remember that less than four meals pay the wage of the 4 employees. Together those four employees cost $30 per hour, leaving $210 an hour left over for the employer.

$210 an hour, over the course of an 8 hour workday, is $1680 a day in profit for the employer.  Granted I’m not adding other costs like rent or utilities, but those costs are monthly not daily, so I’m going to ignore them for the sake of simplifying this hypothetical.

If you double the wages of the employees so that they are earning $15 an hour individually, or for the four of them together they would cost $60/hr. That would leave the employer with $180/hr in profit, or $1440 in profit per 8 hour shift each day.

That’s still quite good.  The employer may take home $240 a day less in profit, but now those employees can afford to participate in the economy in ways that they would never have been able to earning $7.50/hr.

Let’s say though, hypothetically, that the employer must earn $1680 per shift in net profit, and thus would pass 100% this added labor cost on to the consumer.  We can easily calculate that cost to the consumer by dividing the cost of labor over the average number of meals prepared in a day.
32meals per hour X 8hrs per shift = 256 meals a day.

The additional labor cost of $240 per day / by 256meals  = an additional $0.93 per meal.
So you’d see your $8 meal increase to $8.93, and now the employees have been lifted out of poverty and are earning twice as much.

So the short answer is not noticeably, at least not if a business is following the pure economics of supply and demand and all that jazz.  A business could double the prices to $16 per meal and say that it’s because of the minimum wage increase, but such an increase would not be a sound business decision-- it would be a political move by a greedy business owner, who wants to turn their customers against doing the right thing.


If it costs an additional $1 per meal to double the wages of low income workers and raise an entire population out of poverty, why not do it?  

April 20, 2015

Additional Votes Green Party candidate JIll Stein Could have Earned in 2012 without affecting the Electoral College

So I get pissed off whenever I hear about how the Green Party is a spoiler. Mathematically that's just total bullshit.
I went to wikipedia and took down the numbers of votes that both Romney and Obama got in the 2012 election, in the states where Obama won, and since there's only two states where the electoral college isn't "winner takes all" I was able to calculate how many additional votes Jill Stein (Green Party) could have earned without even changing the outcome.

The answer? 11.5 million additional votes. That's just in states that went Blue.
If you didn't vote Green in 2012, and you're wondering if you should in 2016 because of the bullshit spoiler argument, fear not.
Mathematically speaking, every state is a safe state to vote Green in.

March 11, 2015

Jacob Augustine - Salvation

Salvation” is out today alongside PhiladelphiaBad Braids on a split 7” released by the aptly titled Pretty Purgatory collective. The split is absolutely loaded with guest appearances from current & former members of O’Death, Tredici Bacci, Lady Lamb the Beekeeper, The Milkman’s Union, Cowboy Band, Family Planning, and others. Augustine will be performing 3/23 on the UMass Amherst campus in Amherst, MA.

Into it? Download the single or order the 7″ at Pretty Purgatory’s bandcamp.



Directed by Jeremy S. Collins

"Salvation" is one half of a Jacob Augustine/Bad Braids split single, available on 7" vinyl from Pretty Purgatory. Download or order it at: https://prettypurgatory.bandcamp.com/

www.facebook.com/jacobaugustinemusic
www.prettypurgatory.com

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Written & Directed By: JEREMY S. COLLINS

Produced By: ANTHONY M. PIZZURRO & JEREMY S. COLLINS

First Assistant Director: MICHAEL FICARA
Director of Photography: DAN KENNEDY
Gaffer: DAN HOURIHAN
Key Grip: FLETCHER BURNS
First Assistant Camera: JEFF OLIVE
Production Design: BRENNAN GASSEK / MISDIRECTED MEDIA
Props Master: JESSICA-LEE VANWINKLE
Editor / Colorist: JEREMY S. COLLINS
Craft Service: MARY SCHIAVONI

Old Man: JOHN FOGLE
Daughter: TIFFANY HOWCROFT
Grandson: GRADY OBERTON
Doctor: JACK SHIPLEY

Thank You:
EMERY FARM
CATHERINE MACLAUGHLIN-HILLS
DAVID HILLS
MANDY OBERTON

March 8, 2015

The Sacred Purposelessness of ‘Art for Arts Sake’


by Asher Platts


I recently attended a lecture by economist Dr Richard Wolff at the University of Southern Maine (USM). He was there to talk about marxist economics, the rejection of the false narrative of austerity, which played directly into the present crisis that university systems  such as USM, are experiencing around the United States of America-- budget cuts, slashing of funding, consolidation of departments, layoffs of teachers, retrenchments of faculty with tenure, the breaking of teacher’s unions-- all in the name of Austerity.

The economics of the lecture were sound.  He rightly pointed out that the New Deal era ultimately did not go far enough, because though it made many advances to improve the condition of the working class, it ultimately left the capitalist class in charge of the economy. 

The only way that we can stop the theft of control over our destiny by the economic elite is by restructuring our society to be truly democratic-- not meaning just political democracy, or representative democracy, but workplace democracy, and educational democracy.

While advocates for free market economics seem to think that their economic mode of organization provides more freedom to individuals in society, the drive for profits tends towards a society in which a small group has just as much social control and censorship as the politburo of the Soviet Union had.

Under Austerity, the departments that are always first to be cut, are the things that don’t make exorbitant amounts of money in the marketplace.  The arts, literature, languages that aren’t economically “in vogue” (Mandarin is now, Latvian is not, for example) liberal arts, critical thinking, and so on, are all them are deemed to be unnecessary and unworthy of funding.  By artificially limiting the number of possibilities for study, we eliminate an exponential number of possible future societies.  Unregulated markets tend towards monopoly. Similarly, by deciding what is not offered at the University, the capitalists pushing the agenda of austerity are creating a monopoly of thought.

But I digress.  The lecture was, on the whole, fantastic, and while I respect Dr Wolff as an economist, there was a moment that did have me wincing.

One of the formerly tenured professors from the USM school of music who has been retrenched asked the question, “in the new society that you are looking to build, what is the purpose of the arts, of music?”

And this is a question that I had myself in class 8 years prior when a professor was going on about the efficiencies and justice of a marxist economy, how when freed from the slavish drive towards profit, the economy could instead work towards that which provides value to society.  But who decides if art is of value to society?

My sociology professor was unable to provide a satisfactory answer.

The answers that both my sociology professor did then, and that Richard Wolff gave more recently, both made obvious that questions of art and culture should be left to artists and culture makers, not economists or sociologists, who spend less time creating arts and culture (or thinking what they mean) and spend more time thinking about their function.  They both went on about the pragmatic function of art, especially in service of the revolution.  Which left me feeling a bit flat.

Whether it’s under socialism to glorify the proletariat uprising, or providing a speculative market for investors under capitalism, requiring art to serve some sort of narrowly defined purpose in order to have value is an act of violence against freedom of thought.

Looking at the way that many indigenous societies are structured, the most important jobs are not the jobs which Maslow’s hierarchy of needs deems primary, the things vital to survival like gathering and preparing food, nor building structures, or creating clothing. Able to keep the entirety of the fruits of their labor rather than working for a wage, each of these tasks only take up a fraction of societies time, leaving them with ample unstructured free time, which they fill with recreation, art, stories, and interpretations of the world around them.  It would seem that interpreting the world around us is more important and valuable to society than the supposed bedrock of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.

While the revolution needs anthems and propaganda to propagate it’s message of an alternative way to structure society, the difference between a commercial jingle and art music is that one exists for the sake of selling a product, and another exists purely for the sake of existing.  

The society that I desire to build respects, with a sort of holy veneration, the purposelessness of art for arts sake.  The black box, the question mark of what an art object means, challenges us to explore ourselves as individuals, and as a society.  

The unknowable nature of what art means forces us to experiment making new connections between unlike objects, ideas, and sensations, in an act of interpretation.  It’s from these new associations that new ideas arise, take hold, and grow; It’s from these new ideas, through which the mental evolution of our collective consciousness is accelerated.

For this reason, I would advocate that art should never have an external force placing on it any requirement to serve any purpose whatsoever.  This is not to say that art is without purpose, but it’s purposelessness needs to be respected, because it is an arena of experimentation.  And with experimentation comes failure.  And small scale failures should be encouraged as a part of the process of building towards large scale success.  

A society that is structured so that everybody has access to the most basic necessities of housing, healthcare, food, education, and clothing is possible.  It is not only possible, but it is more and more close to being achieved through automation. Even if unable to completely eliminate the need for human labor, we can drastically reduce the need for human labor.  Under capitalism that means that humans have no value to the economy.  Under socialism, that means that we are free to spend our time with recreation, art, story telling, and interpreting the world around us, as indigenous societies do, and as our own indigenous ancestors once did.

By decoupling the value of a human being to society from the amount of time spent working for a wage or salary, we create a society where human beings are free to explore their interests, to expand their knowledge, to pursue, as hobbies, specialized fields such as engineering of the electrical, mechanical, computer, or biological varieties.  We are free to pursue the creation of culture; art, music, theater, literature.

To drive the point further, I would also argue that, without any external reference or framework, that our time spent on earth is entirely pointless and without value.  However, by structuring our society in such a way that our basic needs are met, eliminating the suffering caused by poverty, and freeing ourselves from tedium, we create an opportunity to explore a vast universe of knowledge-- thus making our time on this earth meaningful. We can, through our own action of will, give our lives value. 

We can create our own meaning.  That ultimately is, and always has been, the purpose of the arts.


Asher Platts is a musician, artist, videographer, politician, lay economist, Green Party activist, and blogger at PunkPatriot.com