Wednesday, December 10, 2008

War Against Safety Nets - A Few Skirmishes

Many thanks to Ahavah Gayle, author of the blog Shalom Bayit (http://shalomhabayit.blogspot.com/) for the following news items:

First, General Motors, the automotive corporation whose existence is so vital to America's prosperity that we must bail them out, has been caught in the act of instigating an ad campaign to portray users of public transit as “creeps and weirdos.” They did this in order to sell more of their Chevy Cavalier sedans. This is even though the system of relying on private automobiles for transportation is clearly breaking, as seen in the recent spike in the price of oil and gasoline, and the fact that increasing numbers of people can't afford to drive in the United States. I must confess that I'm one of those creeps and weirdos that rides public transit, and that I do such weird things as trying to save the planet by reducing my carbon footprint, resisting the temptation to become a consumatron, trying to stay out of debt, and treating my fellow humans with respect and dignity. On the other hand, I have run into such fine normal car-driving citizens as the selfish, fat driver of a red brand-new Chevy Suburban I saw last week, who blocked a bike lane with his vehicle and refused to move.

If you want to see the evidence of GM's foot-in-mouth disease, you can look here: http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_Fd_dIsEkgvI/ST1P3K5MRDI/AAAAAAAAAXk/xuriidC2R0M/s1600-h/Bad+Transit+Ad.jpg and here: http://www.southphillyreview.com/view_article.php?id=284. Nice one, GM. And you deserve a bailout?

Then, there's the very recent arrest of Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich by the FBI on corruption charges. The arrest and corruption investigation seem to have been spearheaded by Patrick Fitzgerald, United States Attorney General for the Northern District of Illinois, and by Robert Grant, FBI special agent in charge. Among the evidence against the governor are several recordings of allegedly wiretapped conversations between the governor and his aides.

The funny thing is, though...that this arrest took place one day after the governor announced that he was ordering the Illinois state government to suspend all dealings with Bank of America, due to that bank's alleged involvement in prohibiting the issuance of severance and vacation back pay to workers at Republic Windows and Doors in Chicago. Richard Gillman, owner of the company, had recently bought a plant in Iowa that also manufactures windows and doors, and had abruptly told his Chicago workers that he was closing the Chicago plant immediately, and that they were all terminated. This is a violation of Federal law that requires that employers give their workers 60 days' notice before a plant shutdown. Mr. Gillman also alleged that it was Bank of America's refusal to extend credit for the Chicago plant that forced him to shut that plant down, and that Bank of America had required him to fire his workers without giving them legally-owed severance pay as a condition for obtaining further loans.

If these things are true, then both what Mr. Gillman and Bank of America did are immoral, unethical, and illegal. Yet Bloomberg News, the source for those with money, wrote an article highly critical of the Illinois government's “interference in private commercial affairs.” And one day after telling B of A that the Illinois state government was going to punish the bank by no longer doing business with them, Governor Blagojevich got arrested. Could it be that the governor was “Elliot Spitzer'ed”? “What does it mean to 'Elliot Spitzer' someone?” you ask. Ah, that's a story for another time...

Further sources:

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