September 21, 2018

Liberal single-issue groups and anti-labor stances

This is an issue that seems to be getting worse rather than better.

Colorado Planned Parenthood's blatant attempt at union-busting has brought it to the public eye, with plenty of condemnation.

But it's really not that new, as I have recently been reminded, having kind of forgotten about it.

Among the worst of anti-labor liberal interest groups?

Environmental organizations.

I first came across this about a dozen years ago.

Sierra Club was still headquartered in the city of San Francisco at that time, rather than in the moderately less expensive Oakland. (That's of course relative.)

It needed a copy editor for its "Sierra" magazine, its main national publication.

And it was offering? $33,000 per year. To work NOT in the "Bay Area," but in the city of San Francisco.

Yep.

And, this isn't unique.

A couple of years ago, the Public Interest Network, parent organization of the various state PIRGs and part of Work for Progress, was still offering 20-somethings about $26,000 a year to work as two-year campaign organizers. That was on salary, with the pay just high enough to be above the federal threshold where you couldn't put people on salary. They've now bumped that to $27K and offered VERY modest cost of living additions for the highest-priced of cities, but no more than that.

There's a reason for that. These people were being expected to work six-day weeks regularly and often seven-day weeks. Don't believe me? Go to Glassdoor, where you'll find a problematic inverted U of ratings for Public Interest Network. It has enough people who like it that it's above 3.0 stars, but there are almost no three-star ratings. It's a fair chunk of 5s, probably more 4s, almost no 3s, and at the other end, some 1s and more 2s. At these starter jobs, people talk about working not 60 hours a week but 70 or more. They also talk about other things, some of them even worse. And, even "just" 60 hours a week is ... ridiculous.

But it's not just PIN.

There's another "tell."

If you go to a place like Idealist or Opportunity Knocks, you'll see something like this at many PIN jobs:
Details: Target annual compensation for this position is commensurate with the relevant professional experience and/or advanced degrees that a candidate has.
Without a dollar amount.

I remember that from something else Sierra-related more than a dozen years ago. Its tchotchke of choice at the time for membership renewals was a daypack. Problem? No country of origin tag on it. I, and many, many others, emailed to complain.

Sierra said, shorter version, "trust us." Longer version was "Country of origin is commensurate with the values of Sierra Club" or words to that effect.

But, hey, that's better than some folks.

Take Center for Biological Diversity. On both Glassdoor and its own website, it doesn't even mention that much. In fact, it says NOTHING about pay. Only about benefits and "relaxed work atmosphere." And, on corporate ratings at Glassdoor, it has a similar inverted U to PIN/PIRG/Work for Progress, and for largely the same reasons.

At both places, some critical reviewers add notes about "get things in writing" or similar.

One additional factor is the lack of diversity that still plagues the environmental movement, despite urban environmental justice campaigns by groups like Sierra. Commenters noted that, too, especially at PIN. And

Of course, there's also the hypocrisy factor of enviro groups being heavy junk mailers.

There's also the fact that at least some of these groups, while being green, aren't "Green" if you catch my drift. PIN's organizing campaigns are as much or more about the Democratic party than about the environment.

But, let's get back to the bottom line. Any company or nonprofit group that won't post a salary range for most of its jobs should rightly be looked at askance.

Now, unions aren't perfect themselves. And, on environmental issues, traditional manufacturing unions have too often drunk too much of the ownership class's Kool-Aid. Also, many decades ago, most unions had more of a racism problem than the likes of Jacobin admit today or ever will admit. But, other than the lead-in from Colorado Planned Parenthood, I didn't talk explicitly about unions — I talked about labor issues.

But, let's take it back to unions. PIN's development sister, the Fund for the Public Interest, has engaged multiple times in union-busting.

Finally, this all speaks to poor management, and poor management that is driven as much by late-stage capitalism as things in the for-profit business world.

The amount of job turnover they generate, above all at PIRG/PIN/Work for Progress, but to some degree, I think, at CBD et al, is high. Horrifically high at the PIRG family. Even with the low-funded crappy training they provide (and the free guilt-tripping they give you on the way out the door) surely this is penny-wise, pound-foolish.

September 19, 2018

Our Revolution — grifting away

Per a piece a week ago, if you think the Sanders Institute is dicey, what about Our Revolution? Both got some coverage in the same VT Digger piece.

In May, Politico noted that it, the much larger organization, seems to have the same, or more, disarray.

It has other problems, per Politico. As a 501(c)4, it can't directly promote candidates. So, it formed a separate PAC. Both that PAC, and the fact that the parent org, as a (c)4, can take dark money, seem to backfire on Sanders' image of his 2016 campaign. But, given the history of Vermont nepotism, this was probably deliberate. As a (c)4, not only do donors not have to be disclosed, but generally, expenditures don't have to be itemized. Plus, as VT Digger notes in a critique specific to Our Revolution, other political (c)4 orgs have not been explicitly connected to elected officials, creating other problems.

And, as I've noted before, like the Sanders Institute, Our Revolution has a firm nepotism basis. If nothing else, since it is an IRS-official nonprofit, it's an easy way for Bernie to pay Jane a nice salary while getting a nice tax deduction in return.

Bottom line? Don't be sheepdogged by Bernie.

That's not to say that Our Revolution locals aren't doing what they should in terms of political activism.

The Harris County local refused to endorse Beto O'Rourke for Senate, as well as refusing to endorse Lupe Valdez and Mike Collier for guv and lite guv.

September 17, 2018

Why endorse Beto O'Rourke if you have a DSA rose?

This is largely adapted from my "Is Beto a ConservaDem," but I was getting to the point where I thought this needed a separate pullout — and I wanted to give it one.

People who are knowledgeable about this year's Texas US Senate showdown between Robert Francis O'Rourke and Rafael Edward Cruz know, as noted in my original post about him this year, that Beto is a squish on health care issues. He has called single-payer "one way to get there" on health care access, stresses "access for all," and never signed on as a co-sponsor of HR 676, the House's "Medicare for All" bill. He's elsewhere discussed "universal health care" without defining it.

Per that original post, I partially agree that HR 676 had the flaw of not including for-profit hospitals. That said, per the Texas Observer, he said he couldn't support Bernie's bill in the Senate, either. Why? He wants everyone to have both a copay and a premium payment. I might "accept" that as part of a compromise to get something passed, but making that my starting point? No way.

On Facebook, others have challenged him too, including Green Party Maryland Senate candidate (and MD) Margaret Flowers. Elsewhere, Flowers says that Bernie's bill is itself considerably weaker than the House bill, and Beto can't even support it. She also provides the background to HB 676, including explaining why Conyers' bill excludes investor-owned for-profit facilities and other things.

And with that, let's jump into the angle behind this post's header.

Sema Hernandez — maybe to remain a good-graces Democrat to prepare for running against John Cornyn in 2020 — as of Sept. 3 decided to drink the Kool-Aid herself. See the letter for details.

Sorry, Sema, but not buying.

Why doesn't Beto flat-out endorse HB 676 right now, if this is the case?

Or, why didn't he ever create his own bill, as he told the Texas Observer he was going to?

Or, at a minimum, why doesn't he endorse S 1804 now, and retract his previous dissing of it?

And, per my link above, given that Beto has already rejected Bernie's bill, I see no reason to believe that he would change his stance and then endorse it next year if he becomes a senator.

Would you believe him, if he were instead running for House re-election, and he said, "Oh, next year, I'll finally back HR 676"?

Not me. I stopped believing in Santa Claus long ago.

Beto ALSO promised, last year, to put forth his own Medicare for All bill. Still waiting on that, too. You're also still waiting, aren't you, Sema?

Further evidence to support my cause? O"Rourke not walking the walk on marijuana legalization, decriminalization or anything close to that.

Sema, I think, knows better. She's wanting to run against Cornyn (good luck on that, if you get the nomination; Cornyn isn't personally disliked the way Cruz is) and so is keeping her Democratic Party bread buttered and gunpowder dry. And, that explains the problem that DSA Democrats face.

If she doesn't know better, and is actually now taking Beto at his word, then we have a serious error in judgment already presenting itself.

Beyond that, Our Revolution's Harris County branch has refused to endorse Beto, as David Bruce Collins noted. In an update, he notes that Our Revolution, Texas Gulf Coast Region, though not having a website link, has made basically the same endorsements — and lack thereof with O'Rourke (and Lupe Valdez and Mike Collier). Collins adds that normally, a group like this doesn't endorse without being asked. But, that's on Beto, still. He knows Our Revolution's roots, and probably, if he was thinking about it, realized that his head fake on "universal health care" wouldn't pass the sniff test.

Sema, even with political ambitions, you could have kept radio silence rather than endorsing Beto. If you do run against Cornyn in two years, people like Our Revolution — the type of people that are supposed to be your focus — may well ask you about this. (It should be noted that, as of the time this post was written, Our Revolution Texas and active local chapters within Texas, outside of the Harris County one, had not issued general election endorsement lists.)

Then, there's this, along related lines:
Sorry, Scap,  but as you'll see in me tweeting the link to this blog post back to you, that's not true. I note above, of course, that O'Rourke doesn't support Bernie's bill, and even if he did, it's quite arguably weaker than HR676 anyway.

And, there's two other points here.

One is that Beto is a ConservaDem at worst, a ModeratoDem at best, per the header. He's certainly not a DSA Dem, whether official like Scap, or either quasi-official or official, like Sema.

The second is that DSA Dems are still Dems at bottom line. If they're activist DSAs, they're presumably activist Dems at bottom line, refusing to take the ultimate pressure step of publicly calling for a candidate undervote to pressure that person.

To the degree that icons in a person's Twitter handle mean anything, that's why I have a sunflower, not a red rose. And, if the Green Party cracks up enough for me to drop that sunflower, I'd be more likely to add a red flag than that red rose, if you catch my drift.

This also illustrates the tyranny the duopoly — and duopoly-based thinking — continue to have.

Thus, just as a Beto, like a Dear Leader, needs to be pushed from the left, DSAers like Sema Hernandez also need to be pushed from the left. We've seen this in one other case already. DSA Democrat Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez beat a hasty retreat from staking out even a mild pro-BDS stance. If you DSA folks are going to fold on major issues, at bottom, aren't you just another subgroup of current Democrats? (Hernandez, in her 2018 platform, did say she wanted to "end the wars." That's also more than Beto wants to do. More on this in another piece.)

See Brains' own good piece from last week, and our conversation, for largely similar, but not exactly the same, thoughts on some of these issues. Per that conversation, I can't think of any reason why, other than running against Cornyn and wanting a Gilberto Hinojosa head-pat, that Hernandez is staking out this position.

Let's put this another, stark, blunt and snarky way.

Let's say our country did NOT have Roe v. Wade-based reproductive choice freedoms. Let's say some Democrats were trying to pass that in the House. And, one House member said, "I favor getting there (Iron Stache!) but I don't support that bill because it forces certain hospitals into this." Then a Senator proposed a weaker bill, but one that might get us some sort of reproductive choice freedoms. And this House member said, "I favor getting there, but this bill doesn't make women pay enough for reproductive choice freedom."

Let's say this person then said, "Elect me to the Senate, and I'll (I guess) support that weaker bill then."

You buying that, Sema?

Otherwise, especially as I get closer to certain "finish lines," I'm getting closer to being a single-issue voter on this substance. I didn't buy vacuous Obama promises in 2008 and I'm damn sure not buying vacuous O'Rourke promises in 2018. And, that's why I remain officially not a Democrat. Also per convo with Brains, it's why I've blogged occasionally about the Socialist Party USA; Greens, on this whole "decentralization" nuttery, you need to nationally get your act together.

This is also not to say that all DSAers — including past, present and possible future candidates — will "cave" to the traditional Democratic hierarchy. Nor is it to say that those who give a bit here are there are "caving." But ... when you give more than a bit, and on a blank check, you could at least be charged with a cave.

Speaking of that? Some Hillbot types aren't all wrong in talking about usage. The DSAers actually are NOT "democratic socialists." If you go to a place like Wikipedia, you'll see that, as one moves gradually left politically, you have "social democrats," then "democratic socialists."

Hernandez, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez et al are all "social democrats." They're not "democratic socialists." None of them advocated for government ownership of any means of production. The same is true of Bernie Sanders.

Note: None of this is meant to crush DSAers, especially young ones running for office. You're better than non-DSAers — including better than the ones you endorse to suck up to the DSA establishment. But, you're not really democratic socialists.

I am. And, I do, in at least some cases, support the government ownership of a few "means of production."

I support a National Health System like Great Britain's. I don't think single-payer will be enough by itself to get capitalism out of our health care.

I support converting the U.S. Postal Service back to the pre-1971 directly government owned U.S. Post Office.

I support having that Post Office be allowed to do postal banking, but we don't need to restrict that to a quasi-private Postal Service.

I support 49 other states following North Dakota and creating something similar to the Bank of North Dakota, only with that bank's original powers, not with later trimming.

I'm a democratic socialist.

You all are social democrats.

And, with that, I'll stop there, but will likely do a pullout of this into a separate piece in the future.

I'm a leftist, at least for America. But, yet, a skeptical leftist.