Raw material by @BloggersRUs

Raw material

by Tom Sullivan

Now that you have dispatched your morning texts, calls, e-faxes, whatevs to your senators demanding they stop Judge Brett Kavanaugh from ascending to the highest court in the land, consider another reason for doing it. Besides what he's likely to do to women's rights. (Should you require more motivation, I echo Michael Tomasky's recommendation that if you haven't read the Slate post by Lisa Graves, a Democratic Senate staffer who wrote some of those stolen emails, take a couple of minutes.)

Grover Norquist in his heyday dreamed of rolling back the 20th century and returning America not to the 1950s, but to the McKinley era. William Grieder wrote about Norquist's vision:

Governing authority and resources are dispersed from Washington, returned to local levels and also to individuals and private institutions, most notably corporations and religious organizations. The primacy of private property rights is re-established over the shared public priorities expressed in government regulation. Above all, private wealth–both enterprises and individuals with higher incomes–are permanently insulated from the progressive claims of the graduated income tax.
Industrial giants would be free at last (again) to strip-mine the economy, plunder natural resources, and re-establish the natural order of land barons and serfs.

With Kavanaugh on the Supreme Court, new Gilded Age corporate behemoths will have the protection of the Supreme Court for another generation, as they have for the last. Valued at $1 trillion, Amazon is one, writes Kelly Weill for Daily Beast. The one-time online bookstore is now everywhere. After acquiring Whole Foods, Amazon now sells groceries its employees cannot afford to eat:

“In the last three years we have experienced layoffs, job consolidations, reduced labor budgets, poor wage growth, and constantly being asked to do more with less resources and now with less compensation,” Whole Foods workers in a pro-union group wrote in a letter to colleagues, which was shared with The Daily Beast.

The letter took aim at Amazon CEO Bezos, describing “majority of his workers” as living “paycheck to paycheck.”

More than one in ten of Amazon's fulfillment center employees in Ohio are eligible for SNAP benefits. (Amazon argues those employees work part-time.) Ohio celebrated the center as a boon for job creation and handed Amazon over $17 million in tax breaks, with $125 million more on the way.

West Licking Fire Station 3 makes runs to the Inc. warehouse 20 miles east of Columbus about once a day to treat employees (more often during the holiday season). "Shortness of breath. Chest pains. Myriad minor injuries," the fire district administrator told Bloomberg last fall. The company pays no property taxes to support the service. Locals do.


The drive for profit über alles gets better, Weill writes:
Workers at Amazon fulfillment centers elsewhere have complained of dangerously hot facilities and impossible deadlines that left employees peeing into garbage cans and water bottles to avoid taking bathroom breaks. White-collar Amazon workers complained of a similar ethos at their desk jobs. In a 2015 New York Times report, corporate employees complained of punishing workloads and saw “nearly every person” crying at their desk, 80-hour work weeks, and a competitive work environment that encouraged employees to sabotage their colleagues.
The American Dream, baby.

Sen. Bernie Sanders has proposed the Stop Bad Employers by Zeroing Out Subsidies Act (Stop BEZOS Act) to tax such employers for every dollar of public subsidy their employees receive. Sen. Elizabeth Warren's solution seems less like a band-aid, but neither seems viable in the short term.

“Amazon is raising a generation of precarious workers and that is against everything our union stands for,” Stuart Appelbaum, president of the RWDSU, told The Daily Beast in a statement. “We will not back down until Amazon workers are treated with dignity and respect.”

Whole Foods said it was receptive to employee concerns—but emphasized those rights on an individual, not a collective basis.

Fodder. Grist. Raw material. Inputs. Human "resources" is the worst.

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