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Monthly Archives: June 2016

You are four times more likely to find a psychopath among executives than among the general population.

psycho-anthony

Look crazy to you?

In the financial services, it has been estimated that 10% are psychos. (click here for article)

I don’t doubt that a survey of ordinary workers would yield a much higher estimate.

How to Spot One

I got this from Wikipedia (click here):

“The organizational psychopath craves a god-like feeling of power and control over other people. They prefer to work at the very highest levels of their organizations, allowing them to control the greatest number of people. Psychopaths who are political leaders, managers, and CEOs fall into this category.

Interestingly, all the on-line articles I found said that corporations want to avoid hiring psychopaths. But do they really?

Why Are They In Top Spots?

I received this in a recent email, “For me, I said screw it when I found out the personality tests administered when you apply for promotions were used to find psychopathic or near psychopathic individuals for the higher up corporate positions.  To me, if you have to have concienceless mentally ill people run a system then something is inherently wrong with that system.”

My friend’s next email explained, “Concerning the tests, I had a PhD professor and friend learn this the hard way.  … He was approached by a big firm and asked to develop a set of personality tests to keep the ‘ruthless sociopath and psychopathic types’ out of higher management….  Well, he makes the test and they go off and use it for the opposite reasons!”

Bosses Don’t Have to be Nuts to be Bosses

Whether or not a particular boss is a psychopath doesn’t matter much in the grand scheme of things. He’s against you whether he’s sane or not. The Preamble to the constitution of the Industrial Workers of the World begins, “”The working class and the employing class have nothing in common.” Maybe it’s overstated, but you get the idea.

Even though we like to believe that we’re choosing our thoughts and prejudices, we don’t. Our ideas come basically from our actual situation. Employees think like employees and bosses think like bosses. You can see that easily any time somebody gets promoted into management. Their world view magically changes overnight!

While I was researching psychopaths, I came across a quote that reminded me that the bosses nearly always use religion and patriotism to confuse us. Here’s what George Bernard Shaw said, “Patriotism is a pernicious, psychopathic form of idiocy.” Maybe that’s overstated, too, but you get the idea.

–Gene Lantz

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The exciting new organization “Brand New Congress” (BNC, click here)  just held its first meeting in my town. Its provocative electoral program may be the most innovative set of ideas in a century or more. In the 2018 primary elections, they plan to run more than 400 candidates without any regard to political party. The candidates will be people who have contributed to their communities, are good at it, and will uphold a radical progressive program similar to Bernie Sanders’ present campaign.

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Brand New Congress met at the Dallas CWA 6215 Hall, where Bernie has his offices

One of the most interesting twists in the projected scenario is their intention to totally disregard party affiliations. The main speaker said, ““Parties are so 19th century!” Polls are showing that a lot of Democrats and Republicans are not so crazy about their own parties. Youth has been showing its disdain for some time; I recently read that only 19% of Americans 19 to 29 years old voted in 2014!

How It Will Work

The Brand New Congress strategy would have their candidates running mostly as Independents, but, where it’s easier, as Democrats, Republicans, Greens, or anything else that’s useful! In other words, they would use political parties the same way they said Bernie Sanders used the Democratic Party — to get on the various state ballots and to obtain a wider hearing.

Turnout at our meeting was good, but not nearly as good as earlier Bernie meetings. Like the Bernie meetings, diversity was not its strongest characteristic. I’d estimate about 8% African Americans, maybe 10% Latinos, 2% Native American, and 40% women attended. Like the Bernie meetings, they were considerably younger on average than most political gatherings.

It’s worth noting that neither of the two presenters claimed that Bernie Sanders would publicly support this program.

Will It Work?

After having seen the electoral miracles accomplished by the 74 year old socialist from Vermont this year, who is prepared to say that Brand New Congress won’t be successful? Who could say that almost anything couldn’t be done by the younger people around the Bernie campaign? One of the BNC organizers maintained that Bernie had raised $240 million and moved tens of thousands of volunteers!

During the last decades, a growing number of citizens has developed a severe distaste for the status quo and a yearning for something different. Maybe these are the “people with a plan” who bring that change!

On the Other Hand

The idea of such a broadly innovative electoral campaign is breathtaking. But after I resumed regular breathing, my age and experience began to ask questions. In the immediate sense, I didn’t like all of the answers. Hope I’m wrong on every count:

  1. The strategy is purely electoral and limited to the U.S. Congress. Whenever somebody tells me that a single tactic is going to revolutionize America, I start wondering if they aren’t making a fetish of that tactic. Remember Occupy? A revolutionary program, it seems to me, would have to relate to all forms of struggle.
  1. Although one of the BNC presenters talked a lot about his views on the economy, little or no mention of the international situation was mentioned. People who think that their country is the only one that matters may be a little bit out of step with the economic situation today.
  1. Where are the working people in all this? I heard one mention of the term “working class,” but it was parenthetical and in passing. The idea that all Americans can be brought together under a single program seems idealistic to me. Only working people can confront the bosses and beat them, not a vague idea of “everybody.”
  1. Much worse, I didn’t hear any mention at all of the bosses and how they were going to relate to all this. Do people think that there’s only one side in this fight? There are two sides, and the other side isn’t just sitting around waiting to see what happens. They are really good at all forms of political fighting, especially elections. Also, they blacklist people. They arrest people. They kill people. You can’t expect success with a strategy that ignores them.
  1. How would we govern? No one would be happier than I to see somebody make gigantic fundamental change in American politics by 2018, but this electoral trick sounds more like a coup than a revolution. In a revolutionary process, people organize themselves by communities, by workplaces, and by their interests. They get better and better at meeting challenges and utilizing opportunities. Leadership develops at every level. Revolutionary struggle is a giant learning process whereby everybody learns more than how to take power, they also learn what to do with it.

Maybe my skepticism has no place as America yearns for improvement. Let’s not condemn, but encourage. Let’s do what we can!

–Gene Lantz

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Listening to almost anybody talk about American politics today unavoidably leaves one with the impression that they don’t know what they’re talking about. Populist? Nationalist? What do all those terms mean, if anything?

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Click here for a glossary and lesson on political words. Click here for my previous analysis.

What one considers good or bad in politics depends on how one understands the idea of progress. Everything is moving in one direction or another all the time. A positive trend in politics is one that strengthens our side in the lifelong battle with our employers, or one that weakens the employers’ side. That’s progress.

Progressive for Whom?

If ordinary working people are strengthened by being more unified, or better informed, or by attaining positions of power, that’s progress. Progressive people are those who strengthen workers against their employers. Organizing a new union, for example, would be a progressive thing to do. Helping workers make good electoral decisions by providing useful information would be progressive.

Causing an unnecessary split in a workers’ organization is a reactionary event, the opposite of progressive.

“Left” and “Right” are Fuzzy Concepts

During the capitalist revolution in France around 1789, one group sat to the speakers’ left in parliament and another group sat to the right. That’s where we got “left wing” and “right wing,” but it’s really hard to tell what they mean today. Besides, everything is moving so what’s left today is right tomorrow!

If “Left” is Good, Then Is “Ultraleft” Even Better?

Serious activists might think “left” means “favoring the workers,” but “ultraleft” is a special term that does not mean “even more favorable toward the workers.” An ultraleft is an egotist willing to do anything, progressive or reactionary, to draw attention to themselves. Ultraleftism is a real pain in the movement. It’s been called “the infantile disorder.”

“Liberal” and “Conservative” are Confusing

If a liberal is a nice person who cares for others, what’s a neoliberal and why do the South Americans seem to hate them so? Is a neoliberal the same thing as a neoconservative or neocon? Actually, yes.

If a politician is racist and misogynistic, but votes for a giant boondoggle for his/her home district, is she/he a liberal or a conservative? If another politician is really stingy on government spending but promotes abortion and gay marriage, what is he/she?

Who’s Middle Class?

It’s common now to confuse “middle class” with “middle income.” I think the unions distorted the definition because union people, it’s true, make more money than other workers and, especially with overtime pay, often get into the middle income range.

The only useful meaning of “middle class” is that they’re neither bosses nor employees. So small shop owners, professionals, preachers, policemen, union staffers, and all the people “caught in the middle” in the great fight between workers and bosses, they’re the middle class.

The French revolutionaries called them “petit-bourgeoisie” or “small capitalists.” Ultraleft supercilious nut cases use it as a derogatory term.

Everybody hates being called middle class and will argue with you until they’re blue in the face about it, but if you can’t understand “middle class,” you probably can’t understand “worker” or “employer” either. Without clarity on those concepts, I don’t see how anybody understands anything about politics.

What’s a Populist?

It’s gotten popular today to talk about “populism of the left” and “populism of the right.” Supposedly clever people refer to Senator Bernie Sanders and Presidential Candidate Donald Trump that way. But what does it mean?

The populist movement of old was made up of agricultural interests banded together politically to fight against the industrialists who were taking over the nation. The populists lost. That battle has been over for some time.

Google says a populist is “A member of a political party claiming to represent the common people.” But don’t all politicians do that? Click here for Wikipedia’s treatment.

I’m pretty sure that what the pundits mean nowadays by “populist” is a candidate that doesn’t directly represent the employing class. As no candidate ever says he/she directly represents the employing class, it’s a pretty meaningless term.

What’s a Nationalist?

There are books on this. Nationalism, dividing people’s interests more or less by their region of origin, is usually divisive and hence reactionary. Not always, though. Groups of people fighting imperialist domination may be using nationalism in a very progressive way. People that use it to split the overall progressive movement, though, need to be avoided.

Think of the Class

If one sticks to the idea that workers are the only ones who can really overcome their employers, and that strengthening our side or weakening the employers’ side is the definition of “progressive,” one can be more clear in their communicating and their own thinking. Always, think of the class!

–Gene Lantz

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Don’t let the dry lifeless movie critics talk you out of seeing this wonderful film!

freestateofjones

Movie review: “Free State of Jones,” Directed by Gary Ross, 139 minutes

Movies, books, statues, and historical markers all over the country romanticize the Confederacy. The truth is that it was a nasty war fought for nasty reasons. Here and there, southern people resisted the confederacy to the point of armed struggle. It’s incredible but true, though, that local farmers, deserters, and runaway slaves combined to win military victories against Confederate soldiers around Jones County, Mississippi

I read the book some time ago and was really looking forward to this movie. If there was anything at all disappointing, it’s because the film followed the book a bit too closely. The facts for the book were mostly taken from a miscegenation trial in the 1930s involving one of the many descendants of guerrilla leader Newton Knight and his runaway slave wife, Rachel. The people’s uprising in Jones County is the best part of the story, but the book and movie add on a lot of the dismal history of Mississippi afterward.

BTW, the state just closed the case of the murder of civil rights martyrs Chaney, Goodman, and Schwerner; so ugly history marches on in Mississippi. We just noted the anniversary of the gutting of the Voting Rights Act by the Supreme Court, and it’s extremely relevant to this film.

Movies like the blockbuster success “Gone With the Wind,” are ordinarily more than happy to lie about what really happened. This one doesn’t. Go see it!

Movie review: “Genius,” Directed by Michael Grandage. 104 minutes

People who like a little action and a lot less talking in their movies aren’t going to like “Genius,” but I cried through part of it and thought it was really worthwhile. Fans of Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and, especially, Thomas Wolfe, are already aware that their editor, Maxwell Perkins, is given a lot of credit for their books’ successes. This is about Perkins and Wolfe, and it’s almost 100% dialogue.

The movie critics don’t like this one either, because the two men are more or less reduced to stereotypes, or so they say. I say that trying to explain Perkins and Wolfe would be a difficult assignment, but one worth doing. I’d be curious to know if other film makers could have done it better.

If you don’t know or care about Maxwell Perkins or Thomas Wolfe, you wouldn’t like this movie. If you do, though, it’s a fine film.

Movie review: “The Neon Demon,” Directed by Nicolas Winding Refn. Not sure of length.

If someone is just dying to see Elle Fanning in her skivvies, they might want to see this movie about innocence and high fashion. Oh yes, there’s one really nice shot of a mountain lion. As the wide-eyed protagonist meets savage fashionistas, one begins to realize that something truly terrible is going to happen at the ending. But is it worth sitting through long, boring, unrelated technical movie tricks to get to it?

The only real crime that will cause me to walk out of a movie is that it’s boring. This one is.

–Gene Lantz

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It’s June 25th, the 81st anniversary of the Fair Labor Standards Act. We can thank President Roosevelt and Labor Secretary Perkins for this greatest accomplishment of America’s centuries-long fight for shorter working hours.

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Four Chicago leaders of the 8-hour day were hanged in 1887

A number of Americans were killed when we led the worldwide fight for the 8-hour day in 1886. The Chicago Haymarket Martyrs are the best known. Workers still make pilgrimages to their grave site.

YouTube has a darned good description of the fight as it took place in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. One of the good things about it is that it has a miner’s version of the “8-Hour Song” that was sung everywhere.

The Fight Was Set to Music

I don’t think it’s the best version. The words for the best version are below and they are worth studying for the pure art of it, not to mention the great historical importance. I can’t find this version on YouTube and so I made up a tune and sang it myself. It’s on my Gene Lantz Facebook Page.

We’ve Always Fought over Working Hours

One could say that the entire history of labor could be written as a fight over working hours. I’ve written about that before.

The Battle Continues

For many years, millions of workers have been exempt from the Fair Labor Standards Act and could be worked pretty much endlessly with no extra pay. Among them are low-paid “salary” workers. The Obama Administration’s Department of Labor recently changed the rules so a lot more people could get overtime pay. Almost immediately, a coalition of bosses sprang up to oppose it. I wrote about that, too.

–Gene Lantz

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The 8-Hour Song

We mean to make things over,

We are tired of toil for naught

With but bare enough to live upon

And ne’er an hour for thought.

We want to feel the sunshine

And we want to smell the flow’rs

We are sure that God has willed it

And we mean to have eight hours;

We’re summoning our forces

From the shipyard, shop and mill

Eight hours for work, eight hours for rest

Eight hours for what we will;

Eight hours for work, eight hours for rest

Eight hours for what we will.

**

The beasts that graze the hillside,

And the birds that wander free,

In the life that God has meted,

Have a better life than we.

Oh, hands and hearts are weary,

And homes are heavy with dole;

If our life’s to be filled with drudg’ry,

What need of a human soul.

Shout, shout the lusty rally,

From shipyard, shop, and mill.

Eight hours for work, eight hours for rest…

The voice of God within us

Is calling us to stand

Erect as is becoming

To the work of His right hand.

Should he, to whom the Maker

His glorious image gave,

The meanest of His creatures crouch,

A bread-and-butter slave?

Let the shout ring down the valleys

And echo from every hill.

Eight hours for work, eight hours for rest…

Ye deem they’re feeble voices

That are raised in labor’s cause,

But bethink ye of the torrent,

And the wild tornado’s laws.

We say not toil’s uprising

In terror’s shape will come,

Yet the world were wise to listen

To the monetary hum.

Soon, soon the deep toned rally

Shall all the nations thrill.

Eight hours for work, eight hours for rest…

From factories and workshops

In long and weary lines,

From all the sweltering forges,

And from out the sunless mines,

Wherever toil is wasting

The force of life to live

There the bent and battered armies

Come to claim what God doth give

And the blazon on the banner

Doth with hope the nation fill:

Eight hours for work, eight hours for rest…

Hurrah, hurrah for labor,

For it shall arise in might

It has filled the world with plenty,

It shall fill the world with light

Hurrah, hurrah for labor,

It is mustering all its powers

And shall march along to victory

With the banner of Eight Hours.

Shout, shout the echoing rally

Till all the welkin thrill.

Eight hours for work, eight hours for rest…

We all hear about “drawing the line” and “crossing the line.” They say in Texas that it has something to do with the Alamo, but there’s a more universal line. It’s the class line.

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The physical line between bosses and workers is the picket line

It’s not always simple to figure out who we’re talking about when we sing the great old union song, “Which Side Are You On?” Almost everybody pretends to be on our side.

One could pick around all day trying to sort out exactly who is in the capitalist class, the working class, and the middle class. We can categorize ourselves over and over again as we consider different issues such as gay marriage, global warming, gun control, art lovers, art haters, renters or owners, etc etc. But the important line is the one between workers and bosses. There’s a sure-fire way to know just who is on the workers’ side and who is on the other side.

It’s the issue of wages

Our side wants better wages. Their side wants worse wages.

A new organization has been formed to fight against the Obama Administration’s change in the overtime law. The new law gives considerably more wages to certain workers, and the new organization, “Partnership to Protect Workplace Opportunity,” (who do they pay to come up with these names?) is on the opposite side of the line that really matters. You can look at their list at http://protectingopportunity.org/about-ppwo/ On their side you will find the National Restaurant Association, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Associated General Contractors, Associated Builders and Contractors, Jimmy John’s, and lots of  banks, insurers and  auto dealers.

Usually, when they are trying to influence legislation, they sneak around about it so we don’t know who they are. Read Dark Money. I guess the new organization is trying a new tactic by letting us know who (some of them) they are. Maybe they think it will intimidate us?

 

What they have in common is that they’re all for worse wages. They’re all bosses. They’re all against us. It’s good to know about them.

–Gene Lantz

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The “Trans Pacific Partnership” is next in a long list of so-called “free trade” bills awaiting Congressional approval. The others were passed during the Clinton and Bush Administrations, and President Obama is hoping to get this one passed in the last session of 2016. It’s a “lame duck” session in which many congresspersons don’t feel as responsible toward the people who watch them but don’t pay them off.

Earlier, President Obama was able to get “fast track” legislation to grease the wheels so that the TPP could slide through without serious discussion or public scrutiny. Unions and environmentalists are dead set against any more of these bills because they mean lost jobs, lower wages & benefits, and more pollution. There’s a good reason for that.

Corporations Run The Process

Unions and environmentalists have no participation in creating the secret treaties. There are representatives, special trade envoys, from the governments involved — but there are also hundreds of corporate lobbyists in the process! Mighty transnational corporations write these things for their own benefit.

What do the big corporations want? They want low wages & benefits and the right to pollute. They want a free hand to do anything they want and make as much money as can be made.  So far, that’s what they have gotten. That’s what the TPP offers them. What does it offer us?

It Isn’t Trade, and It Isn’t Free

What is misnamed “free trade” sets up a separate legal system that overrides the democratic rules of each country involved. That system issues licenses to steal to the corporations who created it. The system guarantees corporate profits, even when the corporation breaks our state or federal laws.

They call it “globalization.” I call it “gobblelization.”

–Gene Lantz

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