Archive for the ‘Capitalist swine’ Category

A workin’ man can’t get nowhere today

September 6, 2021

Luck of the draw.

Happy Labor Day, comrades.

I’m barely a worker these days; my paying chores have dwindled to one “Shop Talk” cartoon per month for Bicycle Retailer and Industry News.

Of course, now that BRAIN is a part of the Greater Outside Globe-Spanning Vertically Integrated Paywalled Conglomerate, I find myself negotiating a contract to keep my faded Levi’s up and buckled while I continue to do what I’ve been doing for nigh on to 30 years. So it goes.

Thus, in solidarity with all y’all still on The Man’s clock, here a few random tales culled from our workaday world:

• Hotel workers serve as an unsung pit crew for the firefighters battling the Caldor blaze.

• Job openings outnumber the unemployed. But a gulf between the jobs available and what workers want has led to a “Great Reassessment.”

• Speaking of assessments, are the bots trying to upend the MeatWorld JobMart or are we just stumbling around in the dark as per usual? Kevin Drum has some brief thoughts on the topic.

• Is the boss watching, even when you’re working from home? Maybe. Say hello to “tattleware.”

• Can a workin’ man get somewhere today? He surely couldn’t back in 1978, according to Merle Haggard.

Fuelishness

June 19, 2021

Keep on (not) truckin’. Photo courtesy Groendyke Transport

Here’s a fun story. My man Hal was homeward bound after a track meet in Lakewood and lo and behold, there was no gasoline to be found in either Florence or Weirdcliffe.

There’s no shortage of gasoline. But there is a shortage of tank-truck drivers, thanks in part to The Bug® and decisions made around same. And we two old newspapermen, to our everlasting shame, had to get the deets from (choke) the TV stations’ websites.

KRDO had the best piece, quoting spokespeople from AAA, the National Tank Truck Carriers, and Groendyke Transport.

Something like a quarter of tank trucks were parked in April due to a lack of qualified drivers, sez the NTTC. Older drivers decided to retire, sez Groendyke. And driver schools shut down, which kept new drivers from getting certified.

And if Circle K can’t fill its tanks, well … neither can you, Skeezix.

AAA Colorado is urging motorists not to panic-buy gasoline the way they did toilet paper. Yeah, good luck with that. They’ll be panic-buying both because right now they’re out of gas and shitting themselves.

Oh, eat me

April 20, 2021

“No one wants to work anymore.” And yet somebody posted this sign at a place of business. ’Ees a puzzlement, to be sure.

Here’s an interesting story. Not “interesting” in the sense that it was solidly reported, written, and edited, which it was not. Interesting in that it calls into question the business model of the fast-food industry.

The story — headlined “We’re competing with unemployment” — focuses on the hiring problems that outfits like Fresquez Companies, Twisters, and Sonic-Inspire Brands are having locally in Year Two of The Plague®.

Back in the day, when newspapers still had copy desks, a cynical old rim rat might have wondered at some volume whether the corporate types quoted in the piece had coordinated their tales of woe.

Says one: “Why would anybody want to, I guess, start at a minimum-wage job when they can be earning more money … on unemployment?”

Adds another: “People are making a lot more money being unemployed than employed, and the world is coming back to dine-in and eat-in a little bit at a time, so the stimulus really paused people applying to jobs.”

And a third: “I think it’s pretty easy to connect … unemployment benefits to it. I think a lot of us feel like a lot of people have chosen not to go back to work yet, because they’re still receiving the benefits.”

Well, shucks. It makes a man’s eyes damp, for sure.

My first question was, “How many of these struggling companies have received SBA Paycheck Protection Program funds or some other form of governmental assistance to make ends meet in these troubled times?” The story doesn’t say.

Nor does the reporter speak with any current, former, or potential employees. The one nod to working people came in a quote from OLÉ Education Fund executive director Matthew Henderson, who said: “Essential workers have risked their lives to keep New Mexico running during the pandemic. Some have decided, however, that the risk to their family’s health is not worth the poverty wages and lack of benefits that many employers offer. Don’t fault workers for refusing to be exploited.”

When I was young and even dumber than I am now, I briefly dated a single mom who availed herself of the various forms of governmental assistance to be had at the time. She was always strapped for cash, and since I was young and dumb, I asked her why she didn’t just get a job.

She explained patiently that the kind of job she would be able to get wouldn’t begin to pay the bills, much less the cost of child care while she worked. So she chose to keep jumping through the hoops of public assistance and raising her child. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.

How many potential recruits for the Paper Hat Platoon have decided to stay home, collect assistance, and help their kids navigate remote learning with the goal of giving them a future that doesn’t involve pitching greaseburgers through windows at the Duke City’s drive-thrus? I mean, you don’t need a Ph.D in Google Search to find horror stories about the life and times of the fast-food worker.

I suspect this story may have had its roots in the photo above, posted on Twitter by a local TV reporter. Snapped at a local Sonic, it shows a sign reading: “We are short staffed. Please be patient with the staff that did show up. No one wants to work anymore.”

Wrong, pendejo. They just don’t want to work for you.

Reality show

September 28, 2020

No wonder this hand is empty. I pay my fucking taxes.

Raise your hand if you paid more than $750 in taxes in 2016 and 2017.

The whole hand, please. Not just the one finger.

Kibboleth

August 12, 2020

I had one of these back in 2001. I got all the strength training I needed pushing the sonofabitch when it broke down.

Top-shelf “van life?” Four-figure “smart” strength-training equipment?

Betimes one wonders whether The New York Times ping-pongs back and forth between Manhattan and San Fran without paying much attention to what’s in between.

Clearly, what Joe and Jane Sixpack are crying out for in Middle America is a Mercedes-Benz Sprinter with a factory-installed Tonal.

Either that or, y’know, like, a Bug vaccine, dinner with friends, and maybe a fucking job.

Let’s ask Studs Terkel, shall we?

Masque of the Red … Revolution?

May 7, 2020

¡Viva la huelga!

I’ve been wondering when someone in the mainstream media would write something about the potential for increasing union membership and labor strength in the Year(s) of the Plague.

Here’s a start. It’s short, focused largely on the so-called “gig economy,” and written before a Washington Post-Ipsos poll that indicates some laid-off and furloughed workers may be overly optimistic about whether they will be able to return to their old jobs.

How does an activist pitch a union to a worker with no job? Is a patchwork of small, decentralized, tightly focused labor organizations preferable to One Big Union? Are people ready to rethink their notions of who is an “essential” worker? Will stock clerks trump stockholders?

Nick French at Jacobin gives us a look at the protests that arose shortly after the Great Depression took hold. He argues that radical groups, among them the Thirties-vintage Communist Party, forged a bond of solidarity between the jobless and those still working that helped make FDR’s New Deal possible.

The conditions are different today, he concedes. But the public-health issue may give workers more leverage this time around. Writes French:

By forcing sick people to come to work, or by unnecessarily exposing people to coworkers or customers who might be infected, employers are hastening the spread of the coronavirus and putting everyone at risk. This means that all workers, employed or unemployed, have a common interest in these workers winning their demands.

Boy howdy. Dead broke is bad enough. I hear dead is worse.

• Addendum: As white-collar types join workers from the restaurant, travel, hospitality, and retail industries on the sidelines, experts say there’s no way to calculate how many jobs might come back as states consider lifting shelter-in-place rules. according to The New York Times.

Many businesses, particularly small ones, may not survive, while others are likely to operate with reduced hours and staff. The job search site Indeed reports that postings are down nearly 40 percent from a year ago.

“We don’t know what normal is going to look like,” said Martha Gimbel, an economist and a labor market expert at Schmidt Futures, a philanthropic initiative.

• Addendum the Second: How should unions organize? From The Nation.

• Addendum the Third: Comrades, identities, and attachments. Also from The Nation.

Comrades, come rally. …

May 1, 2020

… whilst observing the proper socialist distancing, of course.

• Labor Day demonstrations reimagined worldwide.

• Virtual May Day rally, live on Vimeo.

• Amazon, Instacart, Shipt workers plan walkouts.

• Thousands of Americans expected to join rent strike.

Wish you weren’t here

April 26, 2020

Uncomfortably dumb.

“Miley Cyrus plays Pink Floyd?”

All in all, you’re just another shtick in the mall.

 

Let me hear your balalaikas ringing out

February 13, 2020

KC hipsters shake their groove thangs to the swingin’ sounds
of KCXL and Radio Sputnik.

I don’t remember what was playing on the radio when I was hitchhiking through Kansas City back in 1972. Number one on my personal hit parade was getting the hell out of Missouri.

Forty-eight years later, guess who wants in?

Radio Sputnik, that’s who. Actually, the Russian propaganda outlet has already landed, at three KC-area radio stations.

According to Neil MacFarquhar at The New York Times, Radio Sputnik — formerly Radio Moscow — is one cog in a state-run Russian “news” machine that focuses on “sowing doubt about Western governments and institutions rather than the old Soviet model of selling Russia as paradise lost.”

“(T)he constant backbeat,” says MacFarquhar, “is that America is damaged goods.”

Well. I guess it must be. It’s a hell of a note when we have to offshore our bitching and moaning to the Russians.

Can’t Alpine Broadcasting Corporation find some red-blooded, home-grown, U-nited States of America Americans to talk shit? I mean, I do it for free, which is about as cheap as it comes. Alpine honcho Peter Schartel has the Russkies and their stooges do it for him and he gets $27.50 an hour. What’s that work out to in rubles, or pieces of silver?

I don’t expect that KCXL plays many cuts from the early Merle Haggard catalog between swigs of milk and honey and preachin’ ’bout some other way of living. But if you slip Schartel a few dead presidents, why, I expect he might just accommodate you.

It’s a free country, but everything in it costs money.

12 Days of ’Toonsmas: Day 3

December 22, 2019

Moles don’t get that big, even if they drink beer.
From the March 2019 issue of BRAIN.

Felix Magowan, one of the original Trio that acquired what had been called Velo-news from founders Barbara and Robert George, had long wanted to add Bicycle Retailer and Industry News to the Inside Communications portfolio.

He never got it done. Eventually Inside Communications sold VeloNews to a passing crew of brigands, and Felix wandered off to do other things.

Episode 19 of Radio Free Dogpatch, “Can’t Find My Way Home,” from February 11, 2019.

Imagine giving Dave Stohler’s Masi Gran Criterium to your meth-addict nephew as a present for graduating from reform school. A bleak period ensued, thick with the sort of belligerent dumbassery once found only in high-school locker rooms, family trees shaped like flagpoles, and the lower houses of state legislatures in the Deep South.

I finally sat up and slipped off the back because VeloNews seemed to be careening into the sort of future in which plague-carrying aliens burst out of people’s chests while they’re battling killer robots. The Old Guy Who Gets Fat in Winter went with me, to do the occasional walk-on in Bicycle Retailer’s “Shop Talk” comic strip.

And then, shazam! Felix reappeared as part of Pocket Outdoor Media, and not only reacquired VeloNews, but snapped up BRAIN and a couple other properties as well.

The Fat Guy and I didn’t go back to the old home place. I didn’t care about bicycle racing anymore, and anyway, we weren’t invited. But it seemed like a good time to make a meta joke about how Fatso was a spy for his old bosses.

Unlike the vulture capitalists who nearly burned VeloNews down to its foundation, the “Shop Talk” dudes seem to know they’re cartoon characters.

Also, unlike vulture capitalists, they’re funny.

• Editor’s note: Today’s blast from the past includes a bonus audio component — episode 19 of Radio Free Dogpatch from February 2019.