Jim Hightower

US Postal Service selling out workers and … America

You know what America needs? More jobs, that’s what.

Not Walmart-style “jobettes,” but real jobs, stable ones with a good salary and benefits, union jobs so workers have a say in what goes on, jobs that have strong protections against discrimination. A job you could make a career, do useful work, take pride in it, earn promotions, and be respected for what you do.

Believe it or not, there is at least one place where such jobs still exist. But – and you really aren’t going to believe this – those in charge are pushing like hell to eliminate them, turning positions that ought to be a model for American job growth into just another bunch of jobettes. The place? Your local post office.

Right-wing government haters in Congress, along with the corporate executives now sitting atop the US Postal Service, claim that in order to “save” this icon of Americana, they must decimate it. These geniuses are privatizing the workforce, selling off the invaluable community facilities, and shrinking services. Hello – the workers, facilities and services are what make the post office iconic and give it such potential for even greater public use.

Their latest ploy is a “partnership” with Staples, the big-box office supply chain. In a pilot program, 82 Staples outlets have opened “postal units” to sell the most popular (and most profitable) mail products. Rather than being staffed by well-trained and knowledgeable postal workers, however, the mini-PO’s will have an ever-changing crew of Staples’ low-wage, temporary sales clerks with weak performance standards and no public accountability.

Cheapening postal work might be good for a few profiteers like Staples, but it will diminish postal service – and it’s exactly the wrong direction for America to be going. For info and action go to www.apwu.org.

“Staples Plucks Postal Jobs,” www.labornotes.org, January 27, 2014.

The psychic pain borne by the rich

One thing about the tea party Republicans in Congress is that they do know who butters their biscuits. Several have recently rushed forward with an anguished plea in defense of Wall Street barons, CEOs, and billionaires: “Stop the vilification of wealthy people,” is their cry.

A crusade to protect pampered plutocrats from having to hear the public’s scornful words about them is not likely to draw much support from… well, from the public. Still, it is true that being a 1 percenter is not an easy burden to shoulder. Yes, they do have money and power, but don’t you see, they never have enough. If your sense of self-worth is tied up in your net worth, then what if your net is comparatively small?

It’s important for us riff-raff to realize that there are the rich – and then there are THE RICH. The relativity of status within the 1 percent creates enormous stress, even feelings of wealth inadequacy. They’re constantly thinking: “Is his bigger than mine?” Imagine if you had to live with that!

Perhaps you didn’t know, but the average household income for the 1 percent as a whole is a mere $1.26 million a year. Okay, that’s rich, but it’s not RICH. For that honorific, you have to step it up many notches and climb into the elite class of the richest one-tenth of 1 percenters. Their average household wealth is $6.37 million a year. Now that’s money.

Yet, it’s not enough. Those elites are looked down on by an even thinner slice of net worthies: The royal class of the richest one one-hundredth of 1 percenters. This is the stratosphere where the richy-richiest of THE RICH dwell, making ends meet on an average household income of $31 million a year.

Come on, people, have some feeling for the psychic pain of those who’re struggling to keep up with the one one-hundredths of 1 percent. It’s a tough world up there.

“Even Among the Richest of the Rich, Fortunes Diverge,” The New York Times, February 11, 2014.

 

 

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