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I learned to type almost 70 years ago, and I still communicate with typing every day. But I also talk to Alexa, and she (it) talks to me. We are only scratching the surface.

For decades, scientists have been able to detect brain waves outside a person’s head. Any waves that can be detected can also be amplified and transmitted.

It is only a matter of time until someone interprets those waves into something a computer can read, and then a whole new wave of communications revolution will begin.

If a computer can read brain waves, it can pass the information along to other computers, sensors, and robots. Utilizing his/her brain waves, a person could theoretically run a factory. It’s probably possible now.

If a computer can read brain waves and translate them correctly into instructions for other machines, it could also translate them into new information to be passed to the brain of another human. At first, the machine might simply translate into language, just as Alexa does now. But later, a human and machine could learn to understand one another directly without the need for language. The technology is within our grasp. As soon as somebody figures out a way to monetarize the project, it will take off!

In the 1960s, a lot of long-haired hippies liked to wear headbands. It was partly practical, because lots of people wore their hair long. But it was also a fashion reflecting something about their outlook. I envision a future where lots of us wear headbands or turbans, depending on the size of the technology we need to send and receive information without using language.

Just as today’s information explosion is changing everything about the ways we live and work, this big new improvement in communications will have social effects. It is obvious, for example, that we can’t go on working some people for long hours while condemning others to unemployment and poverty. We should have shortened the workday decade ago, and we will certainly have to in the future.

I look forward to new and better ways to transfer and process information. There is a relationship between truth and opinion, between science and superstition. Even today, while politicians mobilize millions of dollars and the highest of technology to deny the truth, truth tends to win out. Opinions, outright lies, and superstitions are everywhere, but they are wound around a core of science and truth.

As humans gain and process more information, we will discover more truth. Eventually, we will tend to become ungovernable by others, and capable at last of governing ourselves. It isn’t that far away.

Gene Lantz

I’m on KNON’s “Workers Beat” talk show every Saturday at 9 AM Central Time. They podcast on knon.org. If you are curious about what I really think, check out my personal web site

It’s a peculiar thing for an activist to deliver such bad news, but there really aren’t any solutions for working people within our nation. Here’s why: If we won decent treatment for American working families , the cost of labor in the United States would go up. That’s exactly what the bosses keep telling us, but it’s true.

If the cost of labor went up in the United States, then the nation would suffer competitively with other nations. Eventually, the other nations would take over whatever goods and services we now offer to the world.

It’s a little bit easier to see in microcosm. Take, for example, the American auto industry. During the General Motors strike just concluded, management argued all the way through that they couldn’t afford to be less competitive with the transnational companies, like Nissan and Volkswagen, that are producing good cars in the United States for the United States market cheaper than General Motors. They claimed, I think, that they pay $10-$13 more per hour in unit labor costs.

Nobody really disputes that. It’s the handwriting on the wall. Eventually, those companies with the lower labor costs could drive General Motors out of business, unless we do something.

So it is in international affairs. The nations with the lowest labor costs tend to take over from those with higher costs. A lot of us would like to think that the Chinese economy has grown because of socialist planning, and maybe good planning had something to do with it, but I imagine that their unit labor costs deserve a lot of the credit. The same is true of the other rising Asian star, Vietnam.

As long as workers live in separate nations and compete with one another, then there will be pressure to drive down unit labor costs. That’s us, you and me, unit labor costs.

So there is no solution within the United States or within any of the competing nations.

That’s the bad news.

Want the Good News?

The good news is that our present idea of nation-states can be overcome with internationalism. Capitalist nation-states are fairly new in human history, and they can be overcome. The good news is that internationalism is making progress. Unionists allied with the World Federation of Trade Unions (WFTU) recently held a big conference in Nepal. They went over the same kinds of problems that we might have discussed at an American trade union conference, but their solutions are different. Their solutions are internationalist.

More and more, we are seeing the AFL-CIO unite the progressive forces in the United States. They are also doing some good outreach in other countries. President Richard Trumka recently honored the leading Brazilian leader, Lula da Silva, even though he’s in prison. Tomorrow, American trade unionists are meeting with Mexicans in El Paso to discuss problems concerning immigration. Those are marvelous developments. They point the way forward. It’s what we need. It’s what we must have.

How Do We Get There?

Working families struggle at every level. Contract fights, elections, legislative battles, and whatever else comes up. Working families have a big stake in everything that happens, and they have to fight to get anything at all. More and more, we are seeing people fight for one another. It’s called solidarity, and it’s growing nicely.

The fights will continue and so will the solidarity. It will grow into international solidarity, too. Keep going, everybody, you’re doing great!

–Gene Lantz

I’m on KNON’s “Workers Beat” program every Saturday at 9 AM Central Time. They podcast it on knon.org. If you are curious about what I really think, check out my personal web site

Those of us who have been pulling for the General Motors strikers might begin today to evaluate what we have learned.

  • Striking can pay off in the current economic and political situation
  • General Motors employees showed incredible gumption
  • Union solidarity is terrific
  • Public solidarity with union members is rising
  • Union-busting can be beaten
  • We could have done a lot more than we did
  • The American people are learning which side they are on and what to do about it

On the day before voting is supposed to end, it looks like at least a 60% ratification vote. 

That’s Courage!

There’s a lesson right there. Apparently, 40% of the union members were willing to continue the strike beyond its 6th week! Being on strike is really, really hard! Whether one agrees with them or not on the contract, one surely must concede that they really have guts!

The contract summary is on http://uaw.org. Some of the newspersons have written that it comes up short in providing job security and in bringing the “perma-temps” into full-time employee status. But the people who actually know what they’re talking about consider it quite a victory.

We Win! 

The top American union leader, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, wrote:

“I’ve never felt prouder to be a union member. Backed by millions of brothers, sisters and friends across the country, UAW members stood together to win the fair treatment that they’ve earned over years of selfless sacrifice. I commend the UAW’s national negotiators for standing firm to deliver on what their members demanded and hope this will bring an end to one of the most courageous fights I have ever seen. This is the latest victory in a wave of collective action happening across America. Working people won’t allow greed to dictate our lives, and we won’t tolerate a system that’s been rigged against us. Bosses everywhere should take note—we’re not going to take it anymore.”

On the picket line on day one, it was like a carnival! There were any number of people who were not UAW strikers. Some were from other unions, but some were not union members. Many of the passing cars honked approval.

Social media started spouting all kinds of solidarity messages. Some of them came from the union, but a lot of them were home-made. Political office holders and candidates started posting “I stand with the strikers” and proud pictures of themselves on the picket lines. Several presidential candidates were among them.

A lot of people were asking how they could help. Cases of water were stacked up. People brought cookies and other snacks. In my area, one AFL-CIO unit started raising money to help strikers with financial problems through United Way. They weren’t asked by the union, and they didn’t ask the union. They just did it!

Yard signs of solidarity started going up, and lots of people were asking how to get one.

Beating Union Busting

The newspersons talked more about this strike than they usually talk about anything to do with the union movement. They completely missed the important part, though.

What they could have said was that the 2019 General Motors strike represented an all-out union busting effort by General Motors, other corporations, right-wing ideologues, and the federal government. The result was an historic victory for working families!

Most of the coverage came from two Detroit newspapers. Every article and opinion piece always included the government’s investigations of top UAW leaders on charges of corruption, money laundering, and embezzlement. Investigations had been going on for a while, but they really hit the news on September 15, when the strike began!

Writers on our side, people like me, didn’t talk about these investigations because we recognized them for what they are: union busting. They were hoping to divide the strikers from one another, from their leadership, and from their growing public support. Now that the strike is over, I expect the fanfare to fizzle.

We Could Have Done More

I am a long-time UAW member from the aerospace section. I did not expect the UAW leadership to utilize the lessons that won unprecedented victories for the teachers of West Virginia, Oklahoma, and Arizona. I hoped they would, but I didn’t expect it and, unfortunately, they met my low expectations.;

Basically, all the UAW leadership did was call a strike and set up the financial structure to pay the members who carried out their strike duties. What might they have done?

  • They could have organized their retirees and other supporters to join the pickets and carry out other solidarity actions
  • They might have suggested that supporters could carry out informational pickets at car dealerships
  • They might have had an ongoing union educational program for off-duty strikers
  • They might have had social events for strikers, and even for supporters

But, as far as I could tell, they didn’t.

Contrast the General Motors strike with the Chicago Teachers strike that started just as the autoworkers were winding down. The Chicago Teachers held a national solidarity day, today, in which everybody published selfies of themselves or their organizations. Their hashtag, #putitinwriting, will give them thousands if not millions, of contact information for supporters all over the world! If they should decide on expanding the strike or, for example, on raising money, they now have an incredible base of support!

If the Chicago School Board doesn’t cave soon, we are likely get a real lesson in modern fighting tactics from the Chicago teachers!

Summing Up

News coverage of the 2019 General Motors strike will continue to nit pick over the contract details. A few of them might discuss the strike tactics. But they will continue to miss the historic importance: The American people are ready to fight, and we are learning how to win!

–Gene Lantz

I’m usually on http://knon.org/workers-beat every Saturday at 9AM, unless a tornado destroys the studio. If you are curious about what I really think, check out my personal web site.

What Do You Have to Lose?

Today, while Corporate America, dark money, and an even darker government are trying to destroy the United Auto Workers, it would be good to consider what it means for all of us. To do that, look back in American history to a time before the UAW became the first great success of the Committee for Industrial Organization.

In 1935, nearly all American unions were weak. They were divided by craft. Only the most elite and skillful, nearly all white men, were even considered for union membership. The few unionized African Americans were isolated in segregated unions. White and black unions in the same workplace even scabbed on each other! The many child laborers, of course, had no union representation at all.

Color and gender lines were broken once and forever in the union. The UAW organized industrially. That is, everybody who worked in the industry was a candidate for membership. Their anti-discrimination pattern and their militant action were followed in the great upsurge that followed, and working people in America gained unprecedented power.

The UAW never limited itself to contract battles. They threw themselves into the political fight against the fascism that was growing in America and around the world. In the 1960s, the UAW organized its retirees into a national organization that fought for, and won, Medicare and Medicaid!

The explosion of worker power went far beyond improving wages and benefits. America’s civil rights also surged forward, and the UAW was more than just a great example to follow.

The UAW supported the civil rights movement. If you have looked at photos and videos of the American civil rights movement that began in 1954, you may wonder who was that white man in the front ranks? He was the President of the United Auto Workers! The first version of Dr King’s “I Have A Dream” speech was written in his Detroit office, which was in the UAW’s Solidarity House. The United Farm Workers’ first big contribution was $10,000 delivered to Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta in California by UAW Representative Pancho Medrano of Dallas, Texas!

Before the UAW, most American workers were no better off than day laborers. Corporate America has never forgiven the union for its part in bringing dignity into our workplaces. They would like nothing better than to destroy the UAW and the entire American labor movement. That’s why we have to fight!

–Gene Lantz

I’m on KNON radio’s “Workers Beat” at 9 AM Central Time every Saturday. They podcast on http://knon.org. If you are curious about what I really think, check out my personal web site

This morning on KNON.org and 89.3FM, a caller called me a policeman. He really started warming up then and called me a Republican.

The problem began with the previous caller. My guest, Kenneth Williams, was saying that the Democrats should impeach President Trump. The caller said that it didn’t matter because we would still have capitalism and we need socialism. He basically said that nothing matters in American politics and that there is nothing we can do.

I didn’t disagree with him, but I asked him what we should be doing. I think that President Roosevelt’s great quote, “Do something,” is an admirable guide. He kept talking anti-capitalism and pro-socialism and I kept asking him what kind of action he would recommend. Gridlock.

Then the phone rang again. This one was the name-caller. He, too, said that capitalism is bad and that we have to have socialism. So I asked him what we should do. He said I was trying to change the subject. I said I wasn’t changing the subject but, if we need something different, how do we get it? It seemed to make him even more angry, so that’s when he called me a Republican.

Actually, he had a point

I’m not good at hiding my opinions, and I think the second caller figured out that, truly, I do not like armchair socialists. An armchair socialist is a pseudo-intellectual who rejects everybody else’s proposals but has none of his/her own. At least, they have no proposals that they are willing to act on. Noam Chomsky strikes me as such an armchair socialist. Even though I often agree with his criticisms, I’m not fond of him overall.

Almost the opposite of an armchair socialist is a knee-jerk activist. This is somebody who takes “do something” to heart so much that they get involved in every issue without thinking. They don’t even know which side they are on.

Politics may seem like a game to some people, but not to me. It’s a matter of life or death for everybody on this planet, and it merits some serious thinking and committed action.

But, of the two, I prefer the activists. They are at least right part of the time. The armchair socialists are a drag all the time!

–Gene Lantz

I’m on KNON radio’s “Workers Beat” program 89.3FM in Dallas at 9AM Central Time every Saturday. KNON.org has the podcasts. If you are curious about what I really think, check out my personal web site

Every year around Labor Day, Tom Berry asks me to speak at his weekly free speech forum, “College of Complexes.” This year, I said I would explain the world crisis and put forward the remedy. After I told him that, I had about two weeks to ask people what I should say.

From everybody I asked, and with a few factoids from the Dallas newspaper, this is what I told them on the evening of August 24:

A global crisis exists. It is economic, democratic, environmental, and a threat to world peace. The entire long video is at https://youtu.be/LSyxzN5-OW8, but I cut it into smaller pieces.

Economic Crisis

A short video of this part is at https://youtu.be/YNA90eP1eIc

The national Debt tops $22T for first time in history. This year’s projected budget deficit approaches $1T and will exceed $1T in 2020. “Some analysts note that between the deficit soaring and interest rates low, neither Congress nor the Fed would be able to do that much in a recession. ‘Both sides are out of bullets,’ said Chris Rupkey, chief financial economist at MUFG Union Bank.”

Growth rates are falling internationally. Some countries, including Germany, already near recession.

Inequality is rampant. CEOs rake in 940% more than 40 years ago, while average workers earn 12% more. A September 2017 study by the Federal Reserve reported that the top 1% owned 38.5% of the country’ s wealth in 2016. “At the global level, wealth is highly concentrated: the top 10% owns more than 70% of the total wealth in China, Europe, and the United States combined; the bottom 50% owns less than 2%; and the middle 40% owns less than 30%,” Alice Walton has $46B. The CEO of American Airlines makes $6000/hour.

Outlook for workers worsens as the gig economy grows. The gulf between CEO pay and median worker pay has widened. Publicly traded companies are increasingly plowing cash into stock buybacks and shareholder dividends. … U.S. corporations in the S&P 500 spent a record $806 billion on stock buybacks in 2018.

A recession is pending. One of the most significant developments in this week’s turmoil was the emergence of an inverted yield curve in bond markets. This refers to a situation in which the return on long term government debt falls below that on shorter term bonds. This phenomenon is regarded as one of the most accurate indicators of recession as investors seek a “safe haven” in longer term bonds, pushing up their price and lowering their yield. The price of gold is rising as investors seek safe havens.

Peace & Justice

A short video is at https://youtu.be/xGcaPOknI5A

Discord is rising in the G-7 meeting. Trump has been at odds with traditional allies on climate, Iran, and trade. Volatility is occurring as Trump largely dismisses international alliances and cooperation in favor of his America First policies, creating a vacuum in global leadership. https://youtu.be/xGcaPOknI5A A short video is at Discord is rising in the G-7 meeting. Trump has been at odds with traditional allies on climate, Iran, and trade. Volatility is occurring as Trump largely dismisses international alliances and cooperation in favor of his America First policies, creating a vacuum in global leadership.

“The whole idea of world order is something that these other countries think a lot about, are quite preoccupied with. And they’re worried about how to sustain it without American leadership for world order,” said Jon Alterman, a global security expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a nonpartisan Washington-based think tank.

“In principle, especially with the Chinese getting more powerful and the Russians in decline, the G-7 should be the guys that really get [along], and they just don’t,” said Ian Bremmer, president of the Eurasia Group, a global risk-assessment firm in New York. “It’s a very dysfunctional group. They can’t agree on climate, trade, technology — these advanced economies should have common cause, and it’s not just because of Trump that they don’t. A lot of these countries are increasingly divided.”

Other “me first” governments include Brazil, Italy, Great Britain, and Austria.

Saudia Arabia is destroying Yemen. The U.S. is still occupying Iraq, Afghanistan, and Syria, Pakistan and India are at each other’s throats. There are very real threats of war over who will dominate the newly-unfrozen territories inside the Arctic Circle. That is the reason Trump wants to buy Greenland. It’s not a joke.

Former U.S. president Jimmy Carter said that the world is at a “turning point in history” and governments must choose policies of peace and human rights over war and human suffering.

Democratic

Short video at https://youtu.be/YNA90eP1eIc

Big money is unleashed on our elections. Gerrymandering now has the legal seal of approval. Almost constant schemes to remove voting rights. Almost constant schemes for voter suppression.

Noam Chomsky has argued the Republican Party is the most “dangerous organisation in human history” and the world has never seen an organisation more profoundly committed to destroying planet earth.

Union busting is a common activity for this government.

Environmental

Short video at https://youtu.be/xWp9FTgLX30

Michael Moore says Donald Trump just began the ‘extinction of human life   on Earth’   

Brazilian rainforest, “lungs of the Earth” is burning.

The Dallas paper on 8/23 ran a letter from Ed Soph of Denton:

Ice melt portends disaster

….Economically, 3.7 degree Fahrenheit warming will produce $551 trillion in damages. (Total worldwide wealth today is $280 trillion.) If we continue our current ice-melting mining, transport and combustion of fossil fuels the planet will warm over 4 degrees. Flood damage will increase 160% to 240% with 2.7 degrees of warming; 3.6 degrees will guarantee that flooding deaths will be 50% higher than today.

…This will be the end of the planet, of a secure and safe and civilized life for our children, grandchildren and beyond. The future death, destruction, suffering and unthinkable global chaos ensured by our current suicidal fossil fuel economy massively outweigh the temporary inconveniences of a timely transition to a life-affirming, renewable energy future.”

In Western history, there were three periods of relative quiet:

Pax Romana  27 BC – 180 AD

Pax Brittania 1815 – 1914

Pax Americana 1945 – present?

The final one had the distinction of holding off the end of the world. But that period is ending.

Who’s to blame?

Sunspots?

Moral decay?

Low Church attendance?

Mr Donald Trump?

A few bad apples?

A long time ago, it was theorized that crisis is the result of sunspots. You often hear that our downfall is the result of moral decay or low church attendance. Mostly, lately, one hears that it’s all Mr Trump’s fault. But the source of our crisis is none of those things or people.

The crisis is the direct consequence of the greed of the people who have the most. They have done this since civilization began and they would do it to the end of civilization because they cannot act otherwise.

The peace crisis comes because the wealthy control incredible military powers, but only in their own nation. To gain advantage, they ultimately have to use that military power against weaker powers. They always have and they always would because they cannot act otherwise.

The environmental crisis is the direct result of wealthy people, acting within their own military units, to accrue more riches at the expense of life on the planet.

THE REMEDY

A short video is at https://youtu.be/9MgLUjFA1XE

The remedy is democracy. Instead of being ruled by a wealthy few, we must make it possible to rule ourselves. The wealthy few are not going to allow that willingly. They have to be overcome. The people being oppressed by this system must organize and rise up against the ones doing the oppressing.

This is not a call to arms. You couldn’t possibly overcome the military might of this nation’s wealthy. There are only two ways that ordinary people can overcome their rulers and only one of them has the potential to work.

It is also not a call to somehow vanquish the opposition. Some think that Trump supporters are not capable of learning and should somehow be written off. But you cannot afford to write anybody off. What are you going to do? Kill them?

Push the envelope on voting as far as it will go, however, “Never be fooled,” said Lucy Parsons, “Into believing that the wealthy are going to allow you to vote them out of power.” Elections are tremendously important, but not for the fundamental kind of change we need.

A general strike, on the other hand, can work. In fact, it just worked in Puerto Rico last month. To a lesser extent, it worked in West Virginia, Oklahoma, and Arizona for teachers last year. The only real strength that working people have is to collectively stop working.

It’s a wonderful word, “Organize.” Also “Solidarity.”

But those are abstractions. I told you I would tell you what you could do, in material, not abstract terms. Here it is:

In your interactions with people and organizations, try to move them leftward toward greater understanding and upward toward more activity.

Right now in America, the AFL-CIO is as progressive, as single of purpose, and as powerful as any organization in the nation. Join us.

–Gene Lantz

I’m on KNON radio’s “Workers Beat” program at 9AM central Time every Saturday. If you are curious as to what I really think, check out my personal web site

The Texas AFL-CIO convention was depressing, even though it showed continuous improvement in labor’s aggressiveness and strategic action.

If you aren’t subscribing to Ed Sills’ regular labor e-blasts (write ed@texasaflcio.org), then you aren’t staying up with Texas working people. Ed sent out a good comprehensive report and it was upbeat. I assume that eventually it will be on http://texasaflcio.org. Every participant I talked to was upbeat. “Pumped” was the word they used.

Some of the best parts of the convention were the resolutions passed and the opening speech by President Rick Levy. Levy said we are at a crossroads and it is time for Texas labor to “Go big or go home.” In other words, we are in an extraordinary situation with unusual problems and challenges that have to be met aggressively and with our best thinking. I really liked that.

The other thing I really liked was the resolutions. Ed Sills summarized all of them, but I’ll mention just one: “Support for the concept of Medicare for All.” That resolution put Texas out front.

Off the Record

I had two personal conversations that were real zingers. One of them evaluated how to measure success for a Central Labor Council and the other evaluated today’s possibilities for working people.

All of the Central Labor Council leaders, of course, were at the convention. One of them told me that the true measure of local work is whether or not they can shut down the economy. If a Central Labor Council can’t shut down its local economy, then it hasn’t reached its potential, he said. He agreed with me that none of them in Texas has, but that’s where the bar must be set.

There are a lot of professional organizers at these things, and nearly all of the speakers said that the labor movement must, in so many words, “organize or die.” No argument anywhere, BUT: When I talk to union leaders individually and off the record, they tell me that they really don’t have time to organize. The American labor movement is tied up with servicing their members, settling grievances, and negotiating with bosses. Organizing is almost an afterthought and is usually shunted off to one or two individuals, almost as a sideline. The best thing said at the convention about organizing was that we have to make every member an organizer. It’s true but it’s going to be really hard to do.

But one organizer had an entirely different story. A short informal conversation with him made the entire 3-day convention worthwhile for me. This guy talked about turning labor actions over to the members, about looking high and low for allies, and about all things being possible when the members come together and run their own show. The most prominent example of that recently has been the teachers of West Virginia, Oklahoma, and Arizona. I talked about that in another blog. I was absolutely delighted to see another union applying those lessons so well!

I put all kinds of photos and videos on my Facebook page “Gene Lantz.”

So why was I depressed?

On the way to San Antonio for the convention, I was agonizing over the advances that fascism is making in America. We are heading for an awful crossroads and we will either emerge with fascism or a new, extended democracy. The other thing I thought about on the way to San Antonio was the youth of Puerto Rico, who were overthrowing their government with a general strike.

I expected the speakers to deal directly with the danger of fascism and the solution, nationwide labor actions. No matter how good the Texas AFL-CIO convention was, and it was certainly good by any usual measure, if it didn’t deal with those two phenomena, it worried me. These are not normal times.

–Gene Lantz

I’m on KNON radio at 9 AM every Saturday morning Central Time. If you want to know what I really think, glance over my personal web site