Mar 302010
 

It’s been I don’t know how long since I wrote here and a few of you have contacted me to ask where I’ve been.  The short answer:  a good portion of my time has been spent seeking dinner ideas.

Most of my adult life I’ve eaten roughly 75% of my meals at restaurants (fast food or sit-down).  Another 20% has been pre-packaged, prepared food (deli sandwiches, chips, etc).  Well, back in September my job changed dramatically, forcing me to actually stay in my home 24/7.  Obviously this made it difficult to access my traditional food sources.  In February my job changed dramatically once again.  At that point I needed to find another place to live 3 days a week while still spending 4 days at my former apartment 24/7.  Since the only place I could afford has no kitchen, either, this continued to limit my food choices.

As a result, I now eat in my traditional manner while at “home”, but have been forced to learn to grocery shop and cook actual meals while at the work apartment.  Which, of course, led me to the internet in search of better dinner ideas.  Luckily, there are numerous websites dedicated to food, cooking and recipes.  I’ve found myself returning to the ‘Food’ section of iVillage more and more of late.

My diet has definitely become more varied over these last few months, and that’s been exciting.  However, much like the caveman of lore, I’ve dedicated a disproportionate amount of my time, energy and budget to such seemingly simple concepts as feeding myself and Zaira.  Luckily for all of my dedicated fan out there (‘s’ intentionally left off, BTW) I now have a nice little repertoire of dinner ideas and both Z and I are still quite a bit away from starving to death.  Thus, y’all can expect to see more words from me in the near future.

At least as long as the groceries hold out 😉

Nov 252008
 

It was just last year that the television writers went on strike. You may not remember because the only real effect it had was on television news: they couldn’t stop talking about it. Well, it was shortly after that strike was resolved that I gave up on television all together. So, imagine my surprise when I stumble across the story today that now the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) is considering following the trail blazed by the television writers and going on strike themselves.

Of course, when the writers went on strike SAG supported them. What else were they going to do? These people can’t speak without a script in front of them and I’m sure they’re hoping for a little reciprocation this fall. Me? I’m tired of the whole thing.  All of these worker bes spend far too much time whining about how much the studios make.  Hello?!? It’s basic economics.  The studios make the money because they take the risk.  Actors (and writers) get paid whether a show survives or not.  Maybe when these actors, writers, directors, etc start funding some of the outrageous production costs in Hollywood I’ll give a damn what they think.  Until then I recommend they be thankful they have a job at all.  Or just quit and move on.  Strikes are for lazy, egotistical, bums who know they could never survive in a free marketplace.

Aug 272008
 

It’s been a very busy summer and I’ve allowed myself to get off track here at Philaahzophy, essentially ignoring the fight for freedom that I started on its pages.  However, with Labor Day being celebrated this coming Monday here in the United States I thought it was about time I revisited a topic I promised to further expound upon all the way back in November 2007 in a post titled Reason #1,872 To Detest Striking Workers.  That post was the first to generate a revocation of my “anarchist credentials” (as if such a thing could possibly exist!) by fairly well known anarchist blogger FSK of FSK’s Guide To Reality, who managed to both defend and attack labor unions simultaneously within his comment.

The labor and anarchy movements have long been associated despite the diametrical opposition of their end goals.  This association is most likely a result of the early anarchist writer Mikhail Bakunin who wasn’t an anarchist at all as he had no desire to live without government.  Rather he wanted merely to replace the existing government under which he toiled with another one.  I’ve always been very open with y’all about my ignorance of the actual writings of historical anarchists such as Bakunin, so please comment and correct me if I’m wrong, but my understanding of Bakunin’s philosophy is best summed up in Per Bylund’s essay The Statist Mindset of Anarchists

The Russian anarcho-communist Mikhail Bakunin does just this in his writings: he proposes abolishing the state for the sake of stopping its capital exploitation of labor. This is fine by me and should be fine by any anarchist, but he goes on: post-state society will be based on labor workers’ ownership of the means of production. Furthermore, the stateless society will be organized in local labor unions that come together in regional labor unions, national labor unions, and – at the top – one single, global labor union federation.

In no way, shape or form is what Bakunin desires either freedom or anarchy.  The masses are still controlled by the few.  The only differences being the names on the doors and the new government’s (supposed) focus on the benefits of the workers rather than those of the owners.  Of course, the United States government was (supposedly) founded upon the principles laid out in the Bill of Rights, and look how few of those actually remain untainted.  But, I’m getting off track here…

The point I was trying to make is simply that, historically, anarchists and labor activists have been linked.  However, it’s time that those who truly believe in a world without government learn to back away from this association and see labor unions for what they really are.  We do seem to be moving in that direction in general, but many still hold to the old associations.  Even FSK seems to have finally come to terms with this reality as in a recent post he stated-

In the early 20th century, there were 2 big unions competing for members, the AFL-CIO and the Wobblies. The AFL-CIO lobbied for official State recognition (along with the bad guys). The leaders of the AFL-CIO became State agents rather than true workers’ advocates.

That last sentence is the key, and it can easily be expanded to cover 99% of existing trade unions.  Even worse is that the state is the first weapon in the labor union’s arsenal to be wielded against employers and workers alike.  Worse still is that the ultimate dream of the labor unions is to completely replace the existing state, allowing them to force their will on 100% of the people 100% of the time.

Even the upcoming holiday itself, Labor Day, is a result of the pull the labor movement has with the state.  The first Labor Day holiday was celebrated on Tuesday, September 5, 1882, in New York City, in accordance with the plans of the Central Labor Union.  Less than a dozen years later Congress passed an act making the first Monday in September of each year a legal holiday in the District of Columbia and the territories.

According to the American Heritage Dictionary a labor union is “[a]n organization of wage earners formed for the purpose of serving the members’ interests with respect to wages and working conditions”.  What, you may be asking yourself, is so terrible about that?  Nothing at all.  In fact, I have no doubt that in a functioning market anarchy there would be labor unions (and trade unions) galore.  The problem comes from the laws that existing labor unions have had passed to protect their position at the cost of the employers’ and workers’ freedom.  For example-

U.S. Code
TITLE 29 > CHAPTER 7 > SUBCHAPTER II

§ 158. Unfair labor practices

(a) Unfair labor practices by employer
It shall be an unfair labor practice for an employer—

(5) to refuse to bargain collectively with the representatives of his employees, subject to the provisions of section 159 (a) of this title.

In other words, the labor unions got the US Congress to pass a law requiring that employers negotiate with unions.  This is a clear violation of the employer’s natural right of association and interference with how he runs his business.  Under current law should an employer refuse to negotiate with a labor union he will face the violence of the state.  In a market anarchy an employer who refuses to collectively bargain would merely lose his workforce.

For those of you cheering about the unions putting a boot on “the man’s” neck, let’s not forget that the labor unions have still have a free boot which they wasted no time placing on the workers necks-

U.S. Code

TITLE 29 > CHAPTER 7 > SUBCHAPTER II

§ 159. Representatives and elections

(a) Exclusive representatives; employees’ adjustment of grievances directly with employer
Representatives designated or selected for the purposes of collective bargaining by the majority of the employees in a unit appropriate for such purposes, shall be the exclusive representatives of all the employees in such unit for the purposes of collective bargaining in respect to rates of pay, wages, hours of employment, or other conditions of employment: Provided, That any individual employee or a group of employees shall have the right at any time to present grievances to their employer and to have such grievances adjusted, without the intervention of the bargaining representative, as long as the adjustment is not inconsistent with the terms of a collective-bargaining contract or agreement then in effect: Provided further, That the bargaining representative has been given opportunity to be present at such adjustment.

Assuming I’m interpreting the legalese correctly, “any individual employee or a group of employees” is free to forgo the collective bargaining process and strike their own deal with management as long as it winds up being the same deal the union received and a union rep is present during the negotiation. Does that actually sound like freedom to you?

Let’s put all of this into some real world terms and see how these things play out…

…first under current law…

  • Joe runs a construction company, building houses, and pays his 100 carpenters $10 per hour plus benefits.
  • 51 of Joe’s carpenters vote to form a union (or join an existing one) and demand that Joe raise their pay to $50 per hour plus benefits.
  • Joe refuses to even discuss such a ridiculous salary as he knows that he cannot afford more than the current wages.
  • The same 51 carpenters vote to go “on strike” refusing to work and intimidate both the other 49 carpenters and any replacement workers willing to work for $10 per hour into not working for Joe either.
  • Joe calls the police to stop the intimidation, but is told that under Federal labor law his workers have that right and arrest Joe for refusing to negotiate.
  • Joe gets fined by the federal government for violating their rules against “unfair labor practices”.
  • Unable to pay the fine because he has no workers to generate income Joe goes to jail.
  • All 100 of Joe’s former employees are now unemployed
  • 50 go on unemployment, earning half their pay and then welfare to support their families. 25 go to work for Sam’s, a union shop, at $12 per hour, and 25 others drift into other fields or move to another location.
  • Upon his release from jail Joe can’t afford to start another business so seeks work as a carpenter st Sam’s.
  • Sam tells Joe he can’t hire him because he already has a surplus of union workers since Joe went out of business.
  • Joe offers to work for only $10 per hour without benefits and Sam agrees that he can afford that.
  • The union finds out about it, complains to the federal government, and Joe gets fired because Sam doesn’t want to lose his business as well.

…now in a market anarchy…

  • Joe runs a construction company, building houses, and pays his 100 carpenters $10 per hour plus benefits.
  • 51 of Joe’s carpenters vote to form a union (or join an existing one) and demand that Joe raise their pay to $50 per hour plus benefits.
  • Joe refuses to even discuss such a ridiculous salary as he knows that he cannot afford more than the current wages, puts out a “help wanted” sign and offers to cut final paychecks.
  • 25 of Joe’s carpenters quit, 60 simply return to work, and 15 come back to the table with a lower offer.
  • Joe replaces the 25 workers who quit, offering whatever salary is necessary to get new carpenters to sign on.
  • Some of those who quit find other jobs with Sam, some return to working for Joe, and others drift into other fields or move to another location.

Which situation would you rather have?  As either the emplyer or the worker I’d rather have the latter.

The only thing a person truly owns is his own body and, therefore his own labor.  All other possessions come as a result of those first two possessions.  If a person isn’t free to market his labor as he sees fit, then he no longer owns that labor and is, therefore, no longer a free man.  It’s simple really.

Is it fair that someone else is willing to do your job (just as effectively) for a lower cost.  Maybe, or maybe not.  But it’s right that they be allowed to do so.  We’re all taught from a young age that life isn’t fair.  Why, then do we (as a people) insist on trying to force others into acting in a manner that we deem fair?  Coercion clearly isn’t fair, so its results can never be truly fair either.

Happy Labor Day 😉

Aug 132008
 

Part of my job as a live-in caregiver to two developmentally disabled adults is to spend the night here. I actually get an hourly wage for sleeping in my own bed each night. Kind of bizarre, but now I know why. As I wrote on my Morgan Hill blog, my entire apartment building was roused a few minutes after midnight this morning by a fire alarm.

As soon as the alarm started squealing I headed for the door.  Roommate/client #1 was already heading downstairs, but my other roommate (the one I get paid overnights to watch) was sitting quietly, watching The Tonight Show and wondering what all the racket was.  After getting everyone safely out of the apartment I went to investigate and the alarms were going off in every apartment in our building.  People were starting to come outside in their robes and slippers and everyone was asking what happened.

Luckily, no one was hurt (not just in my apartment, but everywhere).  It seems that one of the fire sprinklers malfunctioned, flooding an upstairs balcony and sending water poring downstairs as well.  The biggest tragedy is that although the complex’s fire insurance will cover damage to the building, neither tenant has renters insurance so the loss of their personal belongings will not be covered.

Jan 202008
 

If Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King, Jr hadn’t been shot on April 4th, 1968 while standing in front of his Memphis motel room he’d have celebrated his 79th birthday last week. Hmmm… actually he probably would have been dead from something else by age 79, but that’s not really the point. The powers that be have decreed that we should all memorialize him today. Don’t get me wrong. I’m a huge fan of Martin Luther King. The man was brilliant and accomplished far more than the vast majority of men. My problem is with the government arbitrarily moving people’s birthday’s around just to fit their whims. But none of that is what this post is about. I just felt it needed to be said. MLK was assassinated 40 years ago this April as a result of his work for civil rights in America. And yet, today, Americans are still slaves.

Frederic Douglas, probably the most famous slave this side of Kunta Kinte, wrote the following in his autobiography in regards to being able to “buy his time” from his owner-

After mature reflection – as I must suppose it was Master Hugh granted me the privilege in question, on the following terms: I was to be allowed all my time; to make all bargains for work; to find my own employment, and to collect my own wages; and, in return for this liberty, I was required, or obliged, to pay him three dollars at the end of each week, and to board and clothe myself, and buy my own calking tools. A failure in any of these particulars would put an end to my privilege. This was a hard bargain. The wear and tear of clothing, the losing and breaking of tools, and the expense of board, made it necessary for me to earn at least six dollars per week, to keep even with the world.

Does that sound familiar to anyone? It certainly should, because if you replace “Master Hugh” with “the government” we’re all living pretty much the same way today. The only difference between Frederic Douglas and any modern American is that we deny our slavery while he worked to free himself. Let’s do a little compare and contrast, shall we-

SLAVES: Labor all day only to turn the fruits of those labors over to their masters
AMERICANS: Work all day to earn money which we turn over to the state in the form of taxes

SLAVES: Can be beaten or even killed for not following their masters’ directions
AMERICANS: Can be tasered, pepper sprayed or even killed for not following police directions

SLAVES: Can only marry who their master permits and only with the master’s permission
AMERICANS: Can only marry who the government permits and only with a marriage license

SLAVES: Can have their children removed from their home at the whim of the master
AMERICANS: Can have their children removed from their home at the whim of Child Protective Services

SLAVES: Can be sold to another master without being asked
AMERICANS: Must follow the rules of different politicians regardless of their vote

SLAVES: Can’t own land, but must live on master’s land at no cost
AMERICANS: Can’t own land, but must may property taxes to the government for the land we occupy

SLAVES: Personal possessions could be taken by the master at any time
AMERICANS: Personal possessions can be confiscated by the state at any time

SLAVES: Could only travel with master’s permission
AMERICANS: Can only travel with permission of the state through the form of drivers’ licenses and passports

SLAVES: Could be taken from their family without warning and sent to another plantation never to be heard from again
AMERICANS: Can be picked up on the street as a suspected terrorist and sent to a detention camp never to be heard from again


Maybe it’s me, but I’m not seeing a lot of differences. Where’s Martin Luther King (or even the ‘origina’ Martin Luther for that matter) when we really need him?