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Monthly Archives: July 2016

People were shocked recently when French President Francois Hollande, head of the Socialist Party, forced legislation through that would make it easier for bosses to lay people off, make them work longer hours, cut their pay and cut into some of their special leaves — such as maternity leave. Click here for BBC version. Protests were very large. I read that 70% of the people were against the new labor rules. But they passed!

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How could that be?

The simple answer is that Hollande is a SINO — Socialist in Name Only. But simple name calling doesn’t really provide any answers. Undoubtedly, France is a capitalist nation with a president who calls himself a socialist and leads a party that calls itself socialist. They got elected, but they didn’t overcome the bosses and, probably, never intended to.

As long as the bosses are in power, workers will never win any permanent gains. Everything we can win, even the 35-hour week that they enjoy(ed) in France, can still be taken away.

France is a capitalist nation and subject to the same economic laws that govern all the capitalist nations. All of them function in competition with one another. When the competition gets rough, as it is worldwide right now, the employers turn like vicious cannibals against their own people in order to drive down costs. Most costs are labor costs, so capitalist governments, including ours, are in the process of competing with one another by chopping away our standards of living.

Even nations that actually have overcome the employers have to compete with other nations within a world capitalist system. Did the Soviet workers ever win a 35-hour week? I don’t think so.

It doesn’t matter much what the government calls itself as long as it is still capitalist and still operating under the capitalist rules.

–Gene Lantz

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I sometimes think of politics as a football game where each side pushes for yardage.  The goalpost ahead of us is a decent democratic society. The one behind us is slavery and want. In all of American history, we have struggled for yardage between those goal posts. The little upright yard markers are the court decisions and legislation that show progress or setbacks.

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The 2016 elections will not result in a perfect society. Neither did the 2008 elections, even though, to listen to the complaints, that’s what some voters expected. All things considered, the Obama Administration has been a whole lot better than what might have happened in 2008, and what will happen after 2016 can be a whole lot better than the Republican alternative.

Lesser evil?

That’s not “Lesser Evil” politics. It’s just an honest assessment of where we are and what the possibilities are in the current election.

The Outlook for Seniors is Promising

Nowadays, I mostly work with the retiree movement. Over the years, my speeches have been long, whiney complaints about all the attacks against the right to retire. There was a lot to whine about. Since Reagan was elected, most pension plans have been lost. Employer-sponsored health care plans have disappeared or been shamefully altered to the advantage of management. Social Security, so far, has not suffered a fatal blow, although several have been fired at it, but it’s been hit hard around the edges. The budget for administering Social Security has been cut so severely that there are empty buildings all over the nation where seniors used to be able to get help, but are gathering dust now. The Republicans in the House of Representatives just voted to cut another $1.2 billion!

Thanks mostly to the Bernie campaign, things are looking up for retirees in 2016. The Democratic Party platform and presidential nominee are publicly committed, not to “saving” the right to retire, but to extending and improving it!

But Seniors Have to Organize and Fight

Older Americans are going to have to do a whole lot more than hope for the best to make the Democratic Party promises come true. Fortunately, the AFL-CIO has made that possible by creating the Alliance for Retired Americans and a bunch of state affiliates.

Over the month from July 26 to August 25, the Texas affiliate scheduled nine separate actions in 6 different cities. Click here for list. The period includes the anniversaries of Medicare/Medicaid and Social Security.

At the July 26 event, State Rep Chris Turner read the words of ex-president Harry Truman on July 30, 1965, when Lyndon Johnson signed the Medicare/Medicaid amendment:

“No longer will older Americans be denied the healing miracle of modern medicine. No longer will illness crush and destroy the savings that they have so carefully put away over a lifetime so that they might enjoy dignity in their later years. No longer will young families see their own incomes, and their own hopes, eaten away simply because they are carrying out their deep moral obligations to their parents, and to their uncles, and their aunts. And no longer will this Nation refuse the hand of justice to those who have given a lifetime of service and wisdom and labor to the progress of this progressive country.”

That was progress. In 1965, we moved the football and the yard markers in the right direction. We’re moving them now!

–Gene Lantz

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Watching the Republican convention may have convinced America that never have so many white people gathered for such malevolent purposes. But, every now and then, the TV cameras pick up a dark face and zoom in. A handful of African Americans took the podium, as did a handful of Latinos, women, and a tiny handful of gays. This for a party whose avowed platform reeks of racism, misogyny, homophobia, and hatred. It’s legitimate to ask “Why?”

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Long before the mafia started using the kiss of death, Judas laid it on Jesus

It’s also a good time to expound on the common political phenomenon known as “opportunism.” My glossary of political terms says opportunism is “Sacrificing higher ideals for personal gain. Specifically, someone within the progressive movement who profits by selling out the interests of others.” Judas Iscariot, who turned Jesus in to the Roman authorities for thirty pieces of silver, is a classic example.

In other words, some of those few African American spokespersons for racists are getting paid, as are some of those women and gays. Did you ever wonder if Clarence Thomas is on the Supreme Court because he’s a reactionary, or if he was a reactionary because he is on the Supreme Court?

Closer to home, you can see opportunism every day in your workplace. Almost all of us feel some solidarity with our co-workers, because they’re in the same boat we’re in. Yet, almost all of us would take a promotion into a management job if we got the chance. Once in management, solidarity is gone — even though nobody will admit that. Managers always claim to feel exactly like their employees, but their every action proves otherwise.

When somebody moves from worker to management, he/she is taking advantage of an opportunity. From the point of view of worker solidarity, he/she has also committed an error of opportunism. It’s common. Almost everybody does it or would do it if they had the chance. It’s just the way our economic system works. It turns us against one another.

American politics is filled through and through with opportunists. It’s tempting to say that almost all the politicians in our economic system are opportunists. All of them aren’t. But some of them would sell out their own mothers.

The more you observe politics, the more you’ve got to admit that each party is worse than the other. –Will Rodgers

–Gene Lantz

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July 19, 1979, the Sandinistas triumphed over the U.S. supported dictator Anastazio Somoza and inspired the youth of the world!

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Augusto Cesar Sandino, inspiration of revolutionaries in Central America and everywhere

Those old enough to remember know that Central America was suddenly ablaze with heroic revolutionary efforts. Here in Dallas, I helped form “Metroplex Citizens for Aid to Nicaragua.” We raised a trifling amount of money for the revolution, but we did a very good job of publicizing it and rallying public support.

A few months later, Americans were captivated by the fight in El Salvador, and a national organization, Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador (CISPES), took over the movement. I helped start the Dallas chapter, which was one of the most successful in the nation. I could tell you stories.

But the Salvadorans and the Nicaraguans soon had their revolutions drowned in blood from Ronald Reagan’s illegal mercenary armies. Congress, the courts, and most of America looked the other way while this great international atrocity was carried out. Central America sunk back into misery and murder. Millions tried to escape to the United States. This part is still going on.

Without going much into foreign policy, two clear lessons should be learned from the rise and fall of revolution in Nicaragua:

  1. The fight for real change needs to be carried out at an international level, not just in any single country.
  2. Workers cannot make permanent gains as long as the bosses are in power. They will always and forever try to take our gains away.

There’s another lesson that all of history has proven and continues to prove: Revolutionaries will never stop trying!

–Gene Lantz

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Movie Review: “The Innocents,” Directed by Anne Hathaway, 115 minutes. In French and Polish with English subtitles.

We always stay until the last movie credits have rolled. As we left, one of the ushers picking up cups and popcorn sacks asked “How’d you like it?” I told him that we loved the film, but weren’t sure that younger people would, because there was no action. It was pretty much all talking and walking back and forth through the winter bleakness.

You can always tell a really good art experience, because you keep talking about it afterward. The story takes place at the end of World War II at a convent in Poland. A French Red Cross medical assistant decides to help with some of the war’s ongoing tragedies that are complicated by dark and archaic religious secrecy.

Do You Suffer for Religious People?

Do you feel sorry for people who willingly suffer because of their religion? Do you relate to the person who voluntarily dons the torturous hair shirt? Do you anguish along with the flagellant? Is your flesh mortified along with theirs?

Or do you just think they’re nuts and at least partially to blame for causing their own problems?  You’re certain to confront those feelings if you buy a ticket for this one.

Personally, I do suffer for religious people. Not just when they’re undergoing horrible tragedies but all the time. If they weren’t so religious, they’d spend less time looking for their own faults and shortcomings. If they weren’t so religious, they’d have a better idea of what’s happening in the world and how to deal with it. Whether you feel sorry for them or not, there isn’t much you can do.

So it is with the French medical assistant. She’s a materialist and a communist, and she is just as committed, more committed, to making a better world than the nuns in the dilemma. Same as you, same as me, she does what she can.

My movie buddy and I loved the film because it made us think and feel. We wish the same for you.

–Gene Lantz

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Ultraleftism: Although it sounds “more left,” ultraleftism actually means making a fetish of being “more radical” on every question and activity, whether the proposed tactics would have a good result or not. That’s what it means.

Unfortunately, what people think it means is “more left” or even “more progressive.” They’re wrong.

Michael X Johnson made a serious ultraleft error on July 7 when he shot Dallas police officers downtown. He may have thought he was somehow contributing positively to the fight to end police shootings of African Americans. Instead, he set off a storm of support for anything the police might want to do while the civil rights movement was simply swept under the rug.

Several new funds have been set up so that people can give money to the police. Here is what the Dallas newspaper announced just today:

“Groups that announced donations: › RBC Wealth Management-U.S. gave $10,000 to the Assist the Officer Foundation. › American Airlines is helping fly in families affected by the shootings and donating $50,000 to the Assist the Officer Foundation. › Southwest Airlines is offering travel assistance to families and donating $75,000 to the Assist the Officer Foundation. › Through the Texas Bankers Association, member banks are making donations to the Assist the Officer Foundation. PlainsCapital Bank, based in Dallas, made a $25,000 donation. Dallas-based NexBank is also donating funds.

‘The Texas Instruments Foundation board of directors approved two grants to provide immediate assistance to the Dallas police and DART victims and their families, and to support long-term relief and efforts to unify and strengthen our community. These contributions have been pledged to two organizations: ª $25,000 to the Assist the Officer Foundation, which will provide immediate assistance to the injured/slain Dallas police and Dallas Area Rapid Transit officers and their families. ª $100,000 to the United Way of Metropolitan Dallas United Dallas Relief Fund, which has been set up to provide supportive services, including mental health resources for victims and families of both first responders and civilians, and helping long-term through the difficult time ahead.

‘Empire Baking Co. raised $4,200, which was donated to the Assist the Officer Foundation.

‘The Capps family in the Devonshire neighborhood of Dallas raised $600 from a lemonade stand to donate to the Dallas Police Association’s officer assistance fund.

‘Restaurants and breweries across the Dallas area are offering free food and drink to uniformed police officers. Some are donating a portion or all of their proceeds to groups supporting the Dallas and DART police departments.”

Another article goes over some of the things that are expected of the City Council, including getting more police officers and raising their pay. On Facebook, someone is selling T-shirts promoting Mayor Rawlings and Chief Brown for President and Vice President!

Funerals and memorial services are drawing crowds of 5,000 or more. I think the 800 on the night of the shooting was the biggest demonstration we’d seen to stop police killings.

Mothers Against Police Brutality, which started in Dallas well before anybody ever heard of “Black Lives Matter,” had steadily built their support with good, well thought-out tactics. Ultraleftism has given us all a setback.

–Gene Lantz

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The big money and their hired guns are against us. Our side is led mostly by devoted volunteers.

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Station Manager Dave Chaos just before a KNON meeting

Trying to understand and work with volunteers is a major challenge for anybody who hopes for a better future. About twice a year, I get a chance to meet, up close, with some of the most interesting ones.

KNON 89.3 community radio usually holds its meetings at Herman Hall in the Deep Ellum section of East Dallas. The radio station only has 4-5 poorly paid staffers, but 60-70 volunteers keep it on the air 24/7. They present an incredibly eclectic variety of music and a handful of talk shows. Nearly all the “commercials” are public service announcements. The volunteers support the station by holding a steady stream of music concerts and with quarterly on-air fund drives. Community activists call in all the time.

My show “Workers Beat” has been on the station since it was begun by the ACORN community organizers in the 1980s. I was on-again and off again for some time before I took the program over regularly in 2006. There are only 3 pro-worker programs in the entire South; Bonnie Mathias and I are proud to host one of the three.

Station Manager Dave Chaos brought up the police shootings at the July 12 meeting. He said, “Dallas needs KNON, maybe more now than ever!” The station brings people together.

There’s a lot of enthusiasm at KNON. The volunteers love the station and promote it every chance they get. They wear KNON shirts and have KNON bumper stickers; they talk it up on social media and in public activities. Each volunteer has her/his major passion. With some it’s zydeco, some like folk music, some like 60’s pop, some go for soul music or acid rock. They all serve the community, and they all do it out of love.

–Gene Lantz

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