Left Coast Voices

"I would hurl words into the darkness and wait for an echo. If an echo sounded, no matter how faintly, I would send other words to tell, to march, to fight." Richard Wright, American Hunger

Archive for the tag “strike”

What’s In A Name – Obamacare, Shutdown, Blackmail, Extortion.

Tom kind of stole my post with his excellent Whose Shutdown Is It Anyway. Here are two memorable quotes.

“John Boehner, Rush Limbaugh, Fox “News”, and just about every Republican politician out there is trying to pin this shutdown on President Obama. This is due to the fact that Obama stubbornly refuses to accept a Republican-crafted budget that takes away the funding for the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which Obama and other Democrats worked for years to make the law of the land.”

“It’s OK to disagree about this. It’s OK to hold the opinion that Obamacare is a bad thing. But don’t shut down the government and then claim it was the other guys’ doing. Though we can continue to debate health care, out here in the world, the law has passed. We supposedly have majority rule in this country, and the majority want serious health-care reform, and the majority made Obamacare the law.“ 

imagesI really want to hear from a coherent, thinking Republican (and there are plenty around to be fair), how s/he can justify shutting down the government to object to a democratically passed law? And how can our representatives have the audacity to deny government workers a salary, but continue to pay themselves? Leading by example? I think not.

But there was one thing that stood out for me and, as I listened to various radio stations, read a couple of articles, it occurred to me, that the President and the Democratic Party have lost the war on language.

Look again at the two exerts above. One talks about the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, while the other mentions Obamacare. One of the biggest mistakes this government made was to use and allow the use of the term Obamacare. I have yet to hear someone offer a coherent opposition to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act without using the term Obamacare, and using it often. 

images-1It makes for a nice legacy and might flatter our leader, but democrats should refuse to use the word. Every time a Republican uses that term, they should stop him/her and ask that the correct term is used. It’s easy. Just ask what Obamacare is.

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is not defined as only for democrats. It is an essential tool to offer what is a basic human right: healthcare without personal bankruptcy. 

If we are going to discuss language, how about ditching the Government Shutdown – if this was a union, we would be calling it a strike. So the Republicans have gone on strike. Good luck dealing with labor disputes in the future!

And while we are at it, perhaps there are a few other words we might want to begin using to describe the shutdown: how about blackmail and extortion? Maybe callousness and immunity to suffering?

Not that I’m in favor of inflammatory rhetoric or imagery. Who had the audacity to design this? Thankfully, let it be said, many Republicans have come out against the comparisons of President Obama to Hitler. 



Alon Shalev is the author of the 2013 Eric Hoffer YA Book Award winner, At The Walls of GalbriethThe First Decree, Ashbar – Wycaan Master Bk 3 – all released by Tourmaline Books. Shalev is also the author of three social justice-themed novels including Unwanted Heroes. He swears there is a connection. More at http://www.alonshalev.com and on Twitter (@elfwriter).

Stay Competitive – Tom Rossi

During a recent grocery-chain strike, in which the workers were not trying to gain anything, but stop the company from taking away a large part of their health benefits, we all got to hear the broken-record, trump card ubiquitous employer-speak in these situations – “We have to stay competitive.”


“Oh, OK. Competitive. Yeah.” That’s the unspoken response. Everybody accepts the argument. But wait a minute… What argument? What does “competitive” mean, anyway? This is such a magic mantra of capitalism, that we all just accept this vague smokescreen without question.

Well, here’s the cheat-sheet on this code: “competitive,” in this usage, refers to nothing except a company’s value on the stock exchange. It has nothing, whatsoever, to do with attracting customers, nothing to do with whether or not new stores can be opened up, and nothing to do with the prices of food and other items in the store.


This is the direct result of our wonderful corporatocracy. For a company’s stock to compete with other stocks, for it to keep rising in price and paying dividends, profits always have to be rising. And half of the profit equation is costs, including labor. That’s why corporations are always trying to cut pay and benefits, at least when they can get away with it.

This particular strike, however, took place at stores mostly located in San Mateo County, just south of San Francisco, CA. Sorry, bean-counters. In the Bay Area, people care about each other, and they care about fairness.

When the workers went on strike, the customers did something miraculous… they honored the picket line and refused to shop at the stores. This caused revenues to drop like a stone, and soon the company realized it was losing much more money than it would cost to keep their employee’s health benefits intact.


There’s a not-so-subtle lesson here: If we stick together, we can at least hold our ground against the corporate onslaught. Instead of envying our neighbors pay or benefits, we should demand a reasonable living from our employers too. Think about it, instead of jealously berating public employees for having things like a retirement benefit, shouldn’t we all be asking why we don’t all have that?

Don’t buy the vague, bogus “competitiveness” argument. It’s a cliché meant to cow the populace and trick people out of actually thinking.

-Tom Rossi


Tom Rossi is a commentator on politics and social issues. He is a Ph.D. student in International Sustainable Development, concentrating in natural resource and economic policy. Tom greatly enjoys a hearty debate, especially over a hearty pint of Guinness.


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