Saturday, March 17, 2012

Holy Shit, What a Nightmare...

Interesting piece from Alternet/Dissent Magazine - Holy Shit, What a Nightmare! How Austerity Destroyed our Small Towns - two excerpts:

"The gap between comfortable and confident got much wider in the spring of 2011, when a Republican-dominated state legislature passed a battery of laws that tightened school standards, imposed a merit-pay system on teachers, limited their collective bargaining rights, and diverted substantial funds from an already struggling public education system to a private voucher program."
We're seeing this pattern in many of the Republican led states, the school systems are literally being starved to death, all the while the conservatives in control are promoting 'market led solutions'... which means charters... more often than not, corporate led, private charters... the conspiracy theorist in me thinks back to Grover Norquist wish that Government get so small it could be drowned in the bath tub, Grover's dream is damn near a reality.

The only thing more precarious than being an itinerant GM worker, it turns out, is working for a Japanese automaker. Maybe in Japan there’s still something called lifetime employment, but in Nissan’s Smyrna plant, forty miles east of Spring Hill, permanent insecurity comes with the job.

Like the other foreign automakers that have concentrated in right-to-work states in the South over the last thirty years, Nissan has kept the UAW out of Smyrna and its two other U.S. plants, in nearby Decherd, Tennessee, and Canton, Mississippi. Employment-at-will, which is how Nissan prefers its relationship to its 13,000 American workers, implies no long-term commitment in the event of injury, illness, layoff—one reason why so many of the workers on the line today are younger than LaDonna and Tony. Nissan is not a place that many people retire from. And, in 2006, the company made it a lot harder for those who might want to when it cut retiree health coverage and switched all new hires from a defined benefit pension to a 401(k). After Nissan bought out a third of its Smyrna workforce a few years ago, it started replacing many of them with temporary subcontracted employees starting at lower rates than direct hires.
Economic developers believe it to be a home run to locate that big plant in town, the South has been named the new Automotive Corridor in the United States... this illustrates why... the workers will continue to be squeezed, the middle class will continue to shrink, and all the while corporate leaders will scream for our education system to be more "Demand Driven"... because they demand a docile labor force that won't push back against a system that increasing is stacked against them and putting them and their families in no-win cycles right on the edge of poverty... 

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