Sean LaFreniere

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Sean's Political Dictionary
So that YOU know what SEAN is talking about when he opens his big mouth:

 

Conservative:

Date: 1831. From Latin conservare, for "to keep", "guard", or "observe". A Conservative relies upon family traditions and figures of authority to establish and maintain values. 

A Conservative puts group security above personal freedoms. 

A Conservative believes that successful use and maintenance of power proves God's favor for the government. 

A Conservative believes that social values, religious rules, and forms of governments may only be altered gradually. 

Stability and continuity are the goals of government.

 

Liberal:

Date: 1820. From Latin liberalis for "free". A Liberal uses reason and logic to set personal, social, and religious values. 

A Liberal places personal freedom above group security. 

A Liberal believes that governments rule by the consent of the governed. 

A liberal believes that governments may be changed or removed at the will of the people.  

A Liberal supports rapid change in the pursuit of progress and reform.

Freedom and Justice are the goals of government.

 

Note: a nation, and an individual, may move back and forth between these positions often. They rarely sum up a personality completely. And they should never be permanent blinders for anyone to view the world.

When a people succeed in a Liberal revolution, for instance, they often find themselves in the Conservative position protecting these gains. Similarly a person might have a Liberal view on public financial assistance and then move into a conservative position once these demands are met.

One might say that Affirmative Action is a prime example. At one point instituting Affirmative Action was a Liberal position, it was needed to reverse decades of discrimination following the end of Slavery. However, today the Liberal position might well be the ending of Affirmative Action, as it has largely completed its task and now stands as a stumbling block to truly moving the nation beyond race as a discriminatory trait. Meanwhile, the position of defending AA is now actually a Conservative stance (whether its so-called "liberal" defenders realize it or not).

Another way to think about this is that these terms describe a way of thinking about issues, not the positions on those issues. That is a Conservative might support a war because politicians they respect urge it, because the enemy scares them, and ultimately because it just "feels right". A Liberal might also come to support the war in spite of the position of authority figures and celebrities, not because it feels right, but because hours of research and consideration support the cause.

Neither is a "better way" of coming to a position, necessarily. Sometimes too much thinking interferes with a solid moral judgment, such as on the Abortion issue. And then other times only rational examination can skip over the emotional baggage and come to the most reasonable decision, as we see in the Abortion issue.

I realize this might be difficult for some people to accept after a long time of hearing party dogma on the issue. Personally I find value in BOTH positions. On some issues I am myself rather Conservative and on others I am quite Liberal. The same with the terms Radical and Reactionary, noted below. I found that stepping beyond these labels opened up my thoughts and cleared my head of a lot of bs.

 

Reactionary:

Date: 1840. From Latin reagere for "to act". A Reactionary uses government pressure as a means of containing and responding to changes in society.

 

Radical:

Date: 14th century. From Latin radicalis from radix for "root". A Radical supports social movements and political pressure groups as a means of affecting change in government.

 

The Right:

Date: early modern. The term comes from  English Parliamentary Rules; which place the party in power on the right of the Speaker. As the Conservatives held sway for a long time, the term Right came to be associated with the "Establishment" and thus with Conservative politics.

 

The Left:

Date: early modern. The party in Opposition sits on the Speaker's left. The Left came to be associated with labor movements, the lower classes, and socialist politics. It has also come to be associated with Liberalism. This was useful for Conservative politicians, and Socialists as well, during the 60's. But I find this to be a big intellectual and political mistake.

 

Capitol Goods:

Date: circa 1639. From the French from Latin capitalis for "top", used in French for "principal" or "chief". (1) : a stock of accumulated goods; especially at a specified time and in contrast to income received during a specified period (2) : accumulated goods devoted to the production of other goods (3) : accumulated possessions calculated to bring in income

 

Capitalism:

Date: 1877. An economic system characterized by private or corporate ownership of capital goods, by investments that are determined by private decision, and by prices, production, and the distribution of goods that are determined mainly by competition in a free market

 

Socialism:

Date: 1837. From Latin socialis for "friend" or "companion" or "associate". Any of various economic and political theories advocating collective or governmental ownership and administration of the means of production and distribution of goods; usually there is no private property; in Marxist theory this is also considered just a transitional stage between capitalism and communism and it is distinguished by unequal distribution of goods and pay according to work done.

 

Communism:

Date: 1840. From French communisme, from Latin communis for "common". A doctrine based on revolutionary Marxian socialism and Marxism-Leninism in which goods are owned in common and are available to all as needed. It is the final stage of society in Marxist theory in which the state has withered away and economic goods are distributed equitably. In its only examples of practical application, in the USSR, China, and Cuba it became a totalitarian system where a single authoritarian party controls state-owned means of production and the people are enslaved in production geared to support the power of this party.

 

Note: in Marxist theory these three systems represent a sliding scale, with Capitalism on the Right, Socialism in the middle, and Communism on the Left. A nation was supposed to move from one to the other over time. However, in practice few systems in the world have ever been purely one or the other. Most national economic models employ some of all three.

While the US and Europe are considered the paragons of Capitalism, they both retain many Socialist elements. Both the US and Europe offer state sanctioned monopolies of public utilities. The American Postal Service is a state owned enterprise, as are the European aerospace entities. Europe offers state run healthcare, as do many American states, and both regulate the health industry heavily.

Through out history Europe and the US have also held some Communist elements. The common grazing lands of town centers and the great unfenced Western plains were both representative of these traditions. One might say that Social Security, Unemployment Insurance, and the Dole are also holdovers from our more communal days.

On the other hand, while China has long been a paragon of Socialism / Communism, it still has many elements of free enterprise. They allow small farmers and craftsmen to sell excess production on the open market, they have private telecoms and industrial companies, and now they have a stock market, the ultimate symbol and apparatus of Capitalism.

When one system or the other fails to serve a nation, many proponents argue that actually the system simply was not implemented purely enough. However, attempts to purify these systems require a heavy hand in government, education, and economic practice. And this has led to oppressive regimes and brutalized citizens.

 

Democracy:

Date: 1576. From Greek dEmokrati, from demos "people" + kracy "rule". A government in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised by them directly or indirectly through a system of representation usually involving periodically held free elections; usually accompanied by the absence of hereditary or arbitrary class distinctions or privileges.

 

Republic:

Date: 1604. From Latin respublica; from res "thing" + publica "of the people". A government having a chief of state who is not a monarch and who is elected by popular vote.

 

Note: that the root of the word Democracy is Greek, while the root of the word Republic is Latin. These terms are NOT antithetical, they do not even derive from the same language.

In common use they both have come to describe types of Liberal governments, specifically the one is a type of the other. It is possible for a nation to be a Democracy, but NOT also a Republic. However, a nation that is a Republic is ALWAYS also a Democracy. A Republic is a TYPE of Democracy.

The UK is a Democracy, but not a Republic, because of the Queen. Ireland became a Republic only after it dropped from the Commonwealth and replaced the Queen with an elected President

 

Fascism:

Date: 1921 From Latin fascis for "bundle" or group. Last, but not least, is this term, which actually combines the economic system and the political system entirely. In this system the state and large corporations merge, the rights of the individual are subordinated to the glory of the State, and all dissent is suppressed. It often utilizes a racial or religious cause to motivate the people into giving up their rights in the first place. These states usually rise out of an economic collapse or hardship with high inflation and unemployment.

 
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Wednesday, January 14, 2004

Slave Mart

Steven Greenhouse at the NY Times reports on America's most successful retailer being flogged in court last month.


A federal jury in Portland, Oregon, found Wal-Mart Stores, the world's largest retailer, guilty yesterday [December 18] of forcing its employees to work unpaid overtime in the first of 40 such lawsuits to go to trial.

The Oregon suit was not a class action. Instead it involved a mailing sent out to 15,000 current and former Wal-Mart employees in Oregon that invited individuals to join the lawsuit. [Damages are expected to be typicaly low in these cases - essentially limited to lost wages only].

Carolyn Thiebes, the lead plaintiff who worked as a personnel manager at stores in Salem and Dallas, Oregon, said in an interview that Wal-Mart asked her to use her computer to erase hours from employees' time records to help hold down costs, especially overtime costs.

Bill Wertz, a spokesman for Wal-Mart: "We tried to demonstrate to the jury that we have a strong policy against requiring our workers, our associates, to work off the clock, and that any violations were scattered and infrequent. We apparently did not make our case well enough."

Lawyers for the plaintiffs said Wal-Mart lost credibility when it put more than 50 managers on the stand to testify that they had never seen employees work off the clock. "The company's witnesses said this absolutely never happens at Wal-Mart, and the jury didn't believe them," said Shane Youtz, one of the lawyers for the plaintiffs.

In a class-action lawsuit in Colorado, Wal-Mart reportedly paid $50 million two years ago to settle a case involving 69,000 workers in that state. In another case, it agreed to pay $500,000 to settle a case covering 120 workers at one store, in Gallup, New Mexico. Lawyers have sued Wal-Mart in more than three-dozen states.


Heck, Walmart even found itself guilty last month... Again from Steven.


[And internal] audit of one week's time-clock records for roughly 25,000 employees found 1,371 instances in which minors apparently worked too late at night, worked during school hours or worked too many hours in a day. It also found 60,767 apparent instances of workers not taking breaks, and 15,705 apparent instances of employees working through meal times.

If the same rate of violations were found throughout the Wal-Mart system, that would translate into tens of thousands of child-labor violations each week at Wal-Mart's 3,500 stores and more than one million violations of company and state regulations on meals and breaks.

Several months after the Shipley audit was finished, Wal-Mart stopped requiring employees to clock out and in for 15-minute breaks. Wal-Mart officials said they eliminated this requirement for their employees' convenience, but Frank Azar, a lawyer involved in the off-the-clock suits, said Wal-Mart did this to make sure no paper trail could show that employees were not taking breaks.


Hey but at least prices are low, right? What's it matter if a few employees are whinning? (again via Steven).


Leila Najjar said that when she worked for a Wal-Mart in a Denver suburb at age 16 and 17, she sometimes was forced to miss breaks, work past midnight and work more than eight hours a day even though Colorado bars minors from doing that. Time records from a court case [verified her claims].

Maria Rocha, who ran the restaurant inside a Wal-Mart in Dallas, said her workload was so great and the restaurant so understaffed that she never took breaks and often missed lunch. "It was just too busy to take a break," said Ms. Rocha, who quit in October. "There were a lot of customers, and the managers would be mad if you took a break."

Bella Blaubergs, a diabetic who worked at a Wal-Mart in Washington State, said she sometimes nearly fainted from low blood sugar because managers often would not give breaks.

Verette Richardson, a former Wal-Mart cashier in Kansas City, Mo., said it was sometimes so hard to get a break that some cashiers urinated on themselves.

John Lehman, who ran several Wal-Mart stores in Kentucky, said he was sure that large-scale violations on child labor, breaks and meals continued at Wal-Mart. In the months after the company distributed the audit internally, he said, store managers like him received no word to try harder to prevent violations.

"There was no follow-up to that audit, there was nothing sent out I was aware of saying, `We're bad. We screwed up. This is the remedy we're going to follow to correct the situation,' " said Mr. Lehman, who said he quit in 2001 because he was disgusted with the company's treatment of employees. He now works for a union trying to organize Wal-Mart workers.

"Wal-Mart stores are so systematically understaffed that they work minors just like they do adults," he said. "They don't have enough workers to take care of the business. Yes, their prices are low but then the stores are so understaffed that workers often don't have time to take their breaks or lunches."

"This case is about people working for free for America's largest employer," the plaintiffs' main lawyer, James Piotrowski, said in his closing argument last Friday.


The company policies of this behemoth are barely above slave driving. But then, let's keep in mind that this corporate "family" is from The South, from Newport, AR, in fact. But, I'm sure there is "no connection". You can read more here.

When this company opens up in your hometown you can kiss goodbye your own local "mom & pop" photoshop, grocery, drugstore, etc. Then you will probably find the mom and pop's "greeting" you at Wal-Mart's doors, working past their bed times and off the clock. More on Walmart's impact upon the general business community can be found here.

More corporate evil doing... the RIAA police.

Sean: Wednesday, January 14, 2004 [+] |
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