Bernie Sanders: Heartless Scrooge


A little bird told me layoffs are coming

Bernie Sanders announced layoffs of almost half of his staffers this week as the campaign prepares for the final primaries. The move makes sense. As Sanders himself explained, “We have had a very large staff, which was designed to deal with 50 states in this country; 40 of the states are now behind us.”

For a while the Sanders campaign needed these employees to help meet the goals of the organization. Now it doesn’t. Why should Sanders keep paying for staff he no longer needs? Mitt Romney described this logic well when he said in 2012, “I like being able to fire people who provide services to me.” For some reason Romney’s remarks were received differently than Sanders’.

What if Bernie Sanders had to operate his organization under the rules he’s trying to impose on the nation’s employers? How would he navigate the final months of his campaign if he lacked the freedom to hire and fire employees to fit his organization’s needs?

For starters, it would take months for him to lay off that many employees. Sanders himself has worked hard over the years to stiffen the terms of the WARN Act, which requires 60 days’ notice for any layoffs. Sanders’ campaign meets the requirements of the Act in terms of size and the nature of his employees’ work. Why shouldn’t be have to comply with basic statutes protecting workers from abuse?

If Sanders had to operate under his own rules, his staffers would be protected from his greedy whims by a union. Terms of employment would be dictated by a collective bargaining agreement.

Want to keep or even increase staffers for the coming contests in California while dropping staff in New York? Sorry, no can do.  Almost any collective bargaining agreement in a western country will include rules requiring an employer to protect senior employees over junior ones, regardless of business needs. If your most senior workers are in places you no longer need staff, tough luck.

Think you’re going to ask them to move to place where the campaign needs to focus its efforts? Nope. They will be protected from your heartless effort to dislocate them from their community. You’ll keep paying staff you don’t need in a place that no longer matters as long as the contract says, or pay penalties.

As for the employees who were let go, what retraining has the Sanders campaign offered? After all, these jobs are going away for the next three years or so. They need a fair opportunity to prepare for non-political work. See where this is going?

Why, one might ask, should the Sanders campaign be subjected to the same rules as a corporation? After all, Sanders is running a plucky small enterprise taking on the giants of business. His opponents have bottomless resources while he just has his “small donors.”

Let’s take a look at the numbers.

The average American employer (excluding self-employed businesses) earns revenues of about $5m a year. There are about 6m companies in America that carry employees. About 1% of them earn more than $100m in revenue. A fraction of a percent of US companies employ more than a thousand people.

At its peak the Sanders campaign had more than 900 employees. In this year alone, the campaign has revenues well over $100m. When the latest layoffs were announced, Sanders’ campaign still had over $17m in cash on hand, more than every remaining Republican candidate combined. In fact, no candidate has raised more money than Sanders this year.

Considering revenue and the number of employees, the Sanders campaign is among the largest fraction of a percent of American employers. Sanders is a 1%’er, firing employees he doesn’t need without providing the most basic employee protections.

Is it absurd to ask the Sanders campaign to comply with labor laws designed to protect 19th and 20th century industrial workers? Of course it is. But those rules no longer makes sense almost anywhere else in our economy. The Sanders campaign fits the criteria of a big business enterprise far better than most of the businesses subjected to federal rules.

Does this make Sanders a hypocrite? No, but it might provide some insight into the frustrations experienced by millions of American business owners. It is extremely difficult to design from Washington a dense network of infinitely detailed economic regulations without creating absurd outcomes. Federal worker protections are important, but we should be very careful in how we craft them.

More than 40 years ago an earlier model of Bernie Sanders actually won the Democratic nomination. George McGovern, earned the 1972 Democratic nomination, losing the General Election in a historic landslide. After retiring from the Senate McGovern became a small business owner. It was a brief, failed experiment.

Here’s what McGovern said he learned in the transition from regulator to regulated:

“I do know that if I were back in the U.S. Senate or in the White House, I would ask a lot of questions before I voted for any more burdens on the thousands of struggling businesses across the nation.”

The Sanders campaign should have the right to hire and fire as needed to meet its goals. Burying his campaign under a landslide of half-considered regulations and union rules would be absurd. Perhaps if Sanders were forced to answer questions about the way he has treated his employees he might be less comfortable ranting against the men and women who keep our economy on its feet.

Chris Ladd is a Texan living in the Chicago area. He has been involved in grassroots Republican politics for most of his life. He was a Republican precinct committeeman in suburban Chicago until he resigned from the party and his position after the 2016 Republican Convention. He can be reached at gopliferchicago at gmail dot com.

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Posted in Election 2016, Uncategorized
96 comments on “Bernie Sanders: Heartless Scrooge
  1. flypusher says:

    A familiar but still scary theme:

    Methinks Trump never read Plato.

    • 1mime says:

      Fascinating read, Fly. Frightening as well in its prophecy and accuracy built upon history and logic. Thanks so much for the link. I plan to share it. So much to think about here. Lifer has said as much in fewer words.

  2. unarmedandunafraid says:

    Did anyone here compare the Universal Basic Income to the One Cuts and One Chooses plan for dividing cake for young children? The OC?OC only requires one rule but it is still a rule that can apply to cake, pie and odd shaped fruit. And it certainly ends tearful fits of rage forever.

    I see UBI as an equalizing force that would require a company with a reputation of bad behavior to pay more to entice a worker to hire on. Work at will? Sure, it its worth my time when I do work. Arrogant management? Maybe I’ll just stay home until I find someone more pleasant.

    And it would certainly ease the pain of unexpected layoffs.

    • unarmedandunafraid says:

      Should have said One Cuts and the Other Chooses.

      • 1mime says:

        OC/OC is definitely not how things are working today, Unarmed! OC/SOC is more like it. (One cuts; same one chooses)

    • duncancairncross says:

      Re UBI

      As an engineer every time I do anything I am reminded about how high the shoulders that I am standing on are

      Everything we do is only possible because of the common heritage of mankind – the people who started by clubbing tigers then invented writing and mathematics through to the guys who created the measurement systems and the metals we use today

      The most original possible patent can only cover one or two percent of the underlying knowledge that is required to make it work

      This means that 90+% of the wealth that we currently enjoy was actually created by our ancestors – and the ancestors of all of us

      Somebody who get a universal basic income of 90% of the average income (not the median) is simply getting what he/she is entitled to – his/her share of the common heritage of all of us

      This is slightly tongue in cheek – nobody is talking about a UBI of anywhere near that level
      and I would not be in favor of a level as high as that because it would probably effect the improvement engine in our society
      But arguably that would be the fair level

  3. MassDem says:

    I’m sorry, but this post is purely concern trolling.

    With the WARN Act, employers actually have to plan ahead for mass lay-offs and give their employees a 60-day warning; note that WARN does not apply in cases of a faltering company, unforeseen business circumstances (cancellation of a major order for example), or natural disaster. BTW, many employees are exempt from WARN. Businesses mostly run into trouble with WARN in the event of a sale, especially if it is a hostile takeover. IMHO, the WARN Act is a good thing.

    I personally am more disgusted with the practice of undeserved golden parachutes, such as HP paying Carly Fiorina $21 million in cash plus another $19 million in stock and benefits after her poor business performance as CEO. But that’s me.

    • flypusher says:

      Socialism for the rich, rugged individualism for everyone else.

    • flypusher says:

      So here’s an economic question, how do we fix the system so that bad CEO’s are NOT rewarded for failure to perform? I don’t want a gov’t regs here, I want to market to correct such things. So you people who are better at Econ, how can we get rid of grotesque unfairness like golden parachutes?

      • 1mime says:

        I believe that Boards of Directors (who are paid handsomely for their appointment thereof) should be more diversified and more accountable. I do not know what regulations apply to the “boards”, but this group of people should be held to not only “legal” standards, but disclosre standards. Before he announced he was running for president, Jeb! had served on over 150 BOD, earning a very nice passive income. BOD members have ultimate power over golden parachutes. More women need to be added to boards and there should be worker and stockholder reps on boards. Every time I get a proxy for an investment, if there is an option that requires greater disclosure, I select it. Dodd Frank has been so watered down that it offers some but little real protection against the same problems that led to the Great Recession.

        If Democrats win POTUS and retake Senate majority, I would bring back Glass-Steagall and I would empower the Securities and Exchange Commission to enforce it by giving them the budget to properly staff and conduct the monitoring necessary to identify abuses. Then I would increase the budget for the Justice Division so that outstanding attorneys would work there and these cases which drag on for years, would have the requisite funding to allow the justice process to work effectively.

        Those are my neophyte ideas.

      • 1mime says:

        Sorry, typo. Jeb! served on 15 BOD, not 150. He is not alone in this. It is SOP for retiring governors, members of Congress to be appointed to these boards. Read this artlcle as one example of how lucrative such service can be and then think about how this can compromise integrity. If one is no longer drawing a public paycheck, if you are seen as influential, you can enjoy a pretty high income just from making board meetings. He is not the only one, just one example.

      • objv says:

        Correct me if I’m wrong, but didn’t Hillary serve on Wal-Mart’s board of directors for six years?

      • 1mime says:

        Yes, Hillary did serve. As I stated, Jeb! wasn’t the only public official (she was wife of then Gov. Clinton) to serve on boards of directors. I was responding to Fly’s comment about how golden parachutes could be trimmed and recalled that the issue of Jeb’s numerous board affiliations (large by most standards and very lucrative) would have to be reconciled for him to seek office. However, here is an article about Ms. Clinton’s appointment and service on the Walmart board.

      • johngalt says:

        The short answer is that I don’t think you can eliminate golden parachutes and the like. Activist investors can help by challenging executive compensation plans, but this rarely changes things. I wonder if changes to the tax system could help. Currently, most employee compensation is a pre-tax expense. What if there were a cap to this? I don’t know the right number, so let’s say it’s $10 million per employee. A company could choose to pay their CEO more than that, but every dollar over that limit would come out of profits, if there were any.

      • 1mime says:

        Now, that’s an interesting concept, JG. I still believe that BOD (boards) need to be more closely monitored but your idea is a fine work around.

  4. WX Wall says:

    I realize you’re trying to tweak Sanders (And his liberal supporters like me 🙂 ) as being hypocritical, but most liberals are all for improving regulations that are truly unfair or impede productivity. But most deregulation is about externalizing costs and foisting them on the government, not truly about making business more efficient (see e.g. Wall St deregulation that led to bailouts, environmental deregulation that leaves us paying for Superfund cleanups, etc.). Remember that every single regulation was written into law due to some abuse that happened in the past. While it’s fair to re-examine them and see if we can do better, forgetting why that regulation was put there in the first place usually guarantees we’ll repeat past mistakes (see Wall St, again…)

    Furthermore, if you wish to make the labor force more flexible, the only way to do that is to *increase* the social safety net, so as to relieve business of the burden of providing it. There is absolutely no reason why we should force businesses into the healthcare business. But if we as a society think it’s important that everyone has health insurance, then the only other option is to make the Govt responsible for it. Indeed, in the first Bush presidency, the biggest supporters of universal healthcare (including Medicare for all) were big businesses like GM, because they were already providing healthcare while their competitors (Toyota, Mercedes) didn’t have the same burden.

    Don’t want to burden business with pension planning? Strengthen Social Security.
    Hate unions and want to fire people at will? Strengthen unemployment insurance and federal job retraining / search / support services.

    In fact, a true fan of a gig-based, entrepreneurship economy should support a social welfare scheme more extensive than Scandinavia’s: only by guaranteeing the basic necessities of life can you incentivize people to take the extraordinary risk of starting a new business or working on a new idea.

    • goplifer says:

      ****if you wish to make the labor force more flexible, the only way to do that is to *increase* the social safety net, so as to relieve business of the burden of providing it. ****

      Yes. That’s it. I get there with a basic income, but yes.

      • 1mime says:

        Does your basic income replace social security? Insure health care for all? Maybe I missed this part of your explanation. People are much freer to pursue different kinds of work and education if they don’t have to deal with expensive health care and worry so much about retirement. I applaud the basic income concept but I don’t see it as a “catch all” plan that would end the necessity for SS and universal health care that is affordable and adequate.

      • texan5142 says:

        What would be the basic requirements for a basic income? I would love to have a basic income and universal health insurance . I hear the rent is cheap in Puerto Rico as of late. The weather is nice. I could be content to live a simple beach life. Sign me up !

      • antimule says:

        So how do you sell Basic Income in a country that considers healthcare reform communism?

      • 1mime says:

        That is THE question, antimule. (interesting moniker – what does it mean?)

        Concerned people could make a start by voting.

      • goplifer says:

        **So how do you sell Basic Income in a country that considers healthcare reform communism?***

        First you fix the Republican Party. Let’s remember, the core idea behind the ACA was devised by the Heritage Foundation and first implemented by a Republican Governor. It was a fundamentally conservative idea that everyone should be individually responsible for obtaining health care. If the GOP weren’t so infected with paranoia you would see most of these problems being solved from the right.

      • 1mime says:

        It’s not a matter of “who” gets credit, it’s that it gets done. In a functioning government, it would be bi-partisan. I am so weary of the “who” and ready for the “when”.

        Speaking of which, for those who didn’t see last night’s final WH Correspondent’s Dinner, here’s a link. Enjoy.

      • 1mime says:

        No, Lifer! I do not agree that needs such as basic health care are the province of the Republican Party – or, for that matter – the Democratic Party. It is the responsibility of the American government, to which both parties are merely functionaries.

        Getting the Republican Party to grow up and accept responsibility is not my problem, but neither should health care be my problem. There are basic needs for people in civilized nations that should be guaranteed. The idea that: ” everyone should be individually responsible for obtaining health care” belongs to one party? No. I understand that you are a Republican and I am a Democrat, but first and foremost, I am an American citizen and a human being. That everyone should pay “something”? Fine, but don’t enact policies and taxes that reduce people’s ability to earn a living.

        Paul Ryan talks about voucherizing medicare. That might work well for healthy people, but not for people who suffer from chronic illnesses, debilitating injuries, or congenital medical conditions. This is what I can’t stand when we get into a discussion about health care. Those who insist upon anything but universal, affordable, quality health care for all people are either totally oblivious to the health and financial problems millions of people suffer from, or they just don’t care. It wouldn’t take much time around people such as I have described for any decent person to understand the critical importance of health care. Please broaden your awareness and sensitivity to needs that transcend politics. The solution may have to be worked through the political process but I’ll be damned if I agree that the only people who have valid ideas and competence are the very ones that have been screwing the middle class and poor for decades. No way I’m on board for that.

        Way too simple a response to a very complex, serious, critically important issue. I could write a book on the subject or, better yet, invite all who have such elitist views on health care to walk in my shoes or anyone who is dealing with a debilitating illness. Then, multiply these situations by millions and the problem becomes unavoidably clear.

        I will restate my opinion in case anyone misunderstood me: health care is not the domain of one party; it is the responsibility of a nation to its people. Period.

      • Stephen says:

        I have read somewhere that a basic income was something Nixion pushed.

      • antimule says:

        I still just don’t see it implemented. Who is going to push for it? Base? The base wants protectionism when it doesn’t want racism. Donors? They want low taxes above all else and Basic Income costs money.

        Don’t get me wrong it is an interesting idea, but I don’t see it implemented, ‘specially not by Republicans. They ran away from ACA.

      • flypusher says:

        “I still just don’t see it implemented. Who is going to push for it? Base? The base wants protectionism when it doesn’t want racism. Donors? They want low taxes above all else and Basic Income costs money.”

        The base is pretty much a lost cause, at least in the near term. They could warm up to such a plan after it is implemented and they see first hand it’s keeping them from being homeless and hungry. As for the donors, yes they hate taxes, but do they hate them as much as they would hate social unrest? The bottom line is that all these economic changes are redefining work, and it’s a recipe for disaster if you keep to the the old-school “you have to work to eat” but at the same time no nothing adequate to help people rendered obsolete with this massive ecomonic change that doesn’t require all that labor. The donor class is smart enough to understand an appeal to enlightened self interest.

      • MassDem says:

        “First you fix the Republican Party” 🙂

        538 had a nice post recently on the basic income idea. Some countries may soon try small pilot programs.

        The article makes several good points. One is that equal is not always fair, in that there are individuals with significantly higher needs than the general population, such as those with serious health problems or who are disabled. Basic income would need to make provision for them. Also, making the basic income universal seems silly when you consider how useless it would be for HNWIs (high net-worth individuals).

        On the other hand, it seems the best way to deal with the loss of traditional jobs with more and more being automated. So perhaps the good outdoes the bad, as long as it doesn’t break the bank.

      • flypusher says:

        “Also, making the basic income universal seems silly when you consider how useless it would be for HNWIs (high net-worth individuals).”

        IIRC, in a previous discussion here there was mention of a progressive taxation on that for incomes above a certain level ($20K? $25K?) so that if you were HNW enough, you’d not be getting the basic income. I think some sort of means testing would be needed to make it economically feasible.

      • Bobo Amerigo says:


        Fix is not the appropriate f-verb for the repubs. Republican hostility to science alone harms the country big time. Their disregard for the lives of women and children is flat out cruel. They know they can’t win elections forever so they destroy slice after slice of voting rights. Their unwillingness to perform constitutional responsibilities feels criminal. Whatever drew you to them no longer exists.

      • 1mime says:

        Whig-Lifer to the rescue!

      • Ryan Ashfyre says:

        @Bobo Amerigo:

        >] “Fix is not the appropriate f-verb for the repubs. Republican hostility to science alone harms the country big time. Their disregard for the lives of women and children is flat out cruel. They know they can’t win elections forever so they destroy slice after slice of voting rights. Their unwillingness to perform constitutional responsibilities feels criminal. Whatever drew you to them no longer exists.”

        In the words of Joe Biden: “There isn’t a Republican Party anymore. I wish there were.”

        Would Teddy Roosevelt recognize the so-called Republican Party of today? Would Dwight Eisenhower? Richard Nixon? Ronald Reagan?

        Yes, there are still Republicans today, but the political party that bears their name doesn’t represent them. It’s a party overtaken by racism, paranoia and fear. Vice-President Biden said it quite correctly. By any metric that matters, there isn’t a Republican Party anymore.

      • flypusher says:

        “Fix is not the appropriate f-verb for the repubs. ”

        “Fracture” is the other one I’m thinking of. This election cycle has to run its course. Probably the best case is what Chris has already spelled out- the Tea Party and radical evangelical types leave, but don’t get to take the brand name with them. That creates the opportunity to rebuild, but it will take time. The big downside is not enough political counterbalance to keep the Dems honest.

      • 1mime says:

        “There’s not enough counter balance to keep Dems honest…” Oh, I’m not so sure about that. For one thing, Sanders doesn’t look like he’s ready to fade away nor his mighty band of Sandernistas….who are already forming a group pledging to upset the mid terms…thinking long. They could flame out, of course, once their hero loses his bullypulpit, but I’m not so sure that will happen.

        I’m at the point of “whatever happens” I can’t control, and that is depressing enough.

    • 1mime says:

      Bravo, WX Wall! Well said.

    • Ryan Ashfyre says:

      >] “I realize you’re trying to tweak Sanders (And his liberal supporters like me:-) ) as being hypocritical, but most liberals are all for improving regulations that are truly unfair or impede productivity.”

      Politics is the art of bullshit and hypocrisy. If you’re involved with politics, you inevitably become a hypocrite at some point or another; it’s just a part of the job.

      • Creigh says:

        “If you’re involved with politics, you inevitably become a hypocrite at some point”

        Thats a bit cynical. Politics is how we decide what kind of society we will live in, and is strongly influenced by human nature and organizational behavior, and it, like many aspects of human life, is inherently messy. And mostly it’s messy because many of the good things we seek through politics are inherently in conflict. Think of freedom vs. order, competitiveness vs. equality, and so on.

      • 1mime says:

        I agree, Creigh, though it is getting harder and harder to find a politician that will speak bluntly. This is a large part of Sanders’ appeal, and what I personally find refreshing about his campaign. (as do millions of others)

  5. antimule says:

    Speaking of workers, automation is coming to China:

    What is interesting is that low wages are no protection any more.

    • 1mime says:

      The world is changing. I fear a lot of people will be left behind. Those who can, need to actively seek new skills. Undoubtedly, people with skills and education will be able to transition to other jobs, but for those who can’t, society will have to care for them – one way or another. What can and should society be doing to prepare for this eventuality?

    • johngalt says:

      China is not a particularly low wage country any more (relatively speaking). Without significant changes to their heavy-handed “hukou” or household registration, system, they’ve probably recruited about as many people as possible from the hinterlands to the coast and their population will soon begin to decline. This has put upward pressure on wages and some low-added-value manufacturing has been leaving for lower cost places like Vietnam and Cambodia.

  6. duncancairncross says:

    Hi Bobo
    I made that call 16 years ago
    For an English speaker it’s difficult to beat New Zealand

    That was what I decided then – and I would make the same decision now

    • Bobo Amerigo says:

      Thanks, Duncan! I’m looking into it.

      • MassDem says:

        I am so sorry to hear about your job loss. Do you really want to move abroad? I don’t know what the prospects are for employment in another country (maybe teach English?), so you would have to be able to live off your savings. Of course, those would go farther in many other countries, but probably not Europe.

        In the meantime, if you want to find temporary work, there is always substitute teaching–no nights or weekends, and flexibility if you need to take a day off for an interview. Most places only require a bachelor’s degree and a character reference. Pay isn’t great–around here it’s anywhere between $75 and $100 dollars a day (6 1/2-7 hours)–but it’s something. Usually, the higher the pay, the more challenging the student body.

        I wish you all the best in figuring out where to go from here.

      • Bobo Amerigo says:

        Thanks, MassDem. My thinking at the moment is that my thinking may be too limited. Maybe living off my savings could be better accomplished in another country.

        I’d never heard of WARN until reading here. I could have used 60 days’ warning, even though I think my former employer was too small to be covered by many federal regulations.

        Truly, I was laid off about 30 minutes after giving a mechanic approval to do some expensive work on a car that I would have otherwise sold had I known there was going to be a steep drop in my income.

        Like a lot of writers, Chris somethings needs a hook to get going on a post. I don’t always agree with him, but I appreciate that that he gives thought to the subjects he writes about. Unlike most other Repubs, who appear to have willingly lost their minds.

  7. Stephen says:

    IT workers can be replaced at times by H1B visa workers or have their jobs outsourced overseas. Any smart kid with a laptop and an internet connection can program and sale or give away software from just about any place on the planet.

    Blue collar workers for a while have been displaced by automation , outsourcing overseas or replaced by immigration labor often illegal. Now white collar workers are being replaced in similar ways. These include paralegals, lawyers, engineers and other knowledge workers.

    Lifer I have no doubt you are a high skilled, high paid worker. But you still labor for a living. You are vulnerable like most workers to being exploited by Capital. And this includes small business owners who labor beside their employees if they even have any. Regulations protect you and other workers.

    Working in Utilities, I have always worked under heavy government regulation. Some times it has been a burden but over all a blessing. There are always bad actors who do not respect the rights of others. With out regulation being enforced they will do bad things. They undo the trust necessary for a market place to function. To me the current obsession of the GOP to deregulate and reduce the size of government to the point it cannot do it’s job smacks of the goal really being removing the sheriff so the crooks can case and burglar the joint. The close call of the economy world wide collapsing in 2007 was the result of deregulating banks and Wall Street. A few people made a lot of money off of this swindle but the majority of us got the shaft . These bad boys have to be rein in and only government has the power to do that.

  8. duncancairncross says:

    What part of “Temporary Project” is unclear to you????

    By your logic the guy I employed to put a roof on my shed would become a permanent employee

    • goplifer says:

      I know. The gig economy is great isn’t it? I love having that flexibility in using labor.

      • Martin says:

        What?? No, you cannot have it both ways.

      • Griffin says:

        But if there are exceptions to the WARN Act for temporary projects and other general situations like that I don’t think it’s a great example of being a threat to the New Economy. I see where you were trying to take this post but it kind of fell flat.

        Perhaps it would be more effective to list some specific arbitrary regulations that small businesses pointlessly have to deal with and big businesses are indifferent to. My Dads a small general contractor in Santa Monica so trust me when I say I’ve heard about some crazy regulations and when you give specific examples even most liberals nod in agreement those laws should be updated (or rolled back if they are completely out-of-date) and that the government can hurt small business. The main issue most liberals have with the modern GOP economic approach is their knee jerk radical deregulation of the economy and desire to shut down entire government agencies and rip out our tax code, not the little deregulations to help small businesses.

  9. Martin says:

    It was a real teaching moment when I recently ended up in your small local screening room to see Michael Moore’s latest movie “What to invade next”. You probably shun Michael’s movies, but this one caused a really funny reaction as people walked out. You could have sold one-way tickets to Europe to most attendees. And yes, most were very surprised to learn how things work in other countries.

    I spent many years living and working in Europe and I can tell you that the climate at work is so much better than here. Michael nailed it when he simply shows you what people in Europe take for granted. I’ll exclude the 1%, but for everyone else live in the U.S. is unreasonably and unnecessarily hard. We get screwed by corporations all the time, both as workers and as consumers. And we don’t realize it.

    Your gripe about labor laws is misplaced. Not to say that things could not be improved – they can. But the situation in this country is so lopsided as compared to all other Western countries it is not even funny.

    We lost our common sense to invest in the common good. The American people are good people, but we are pitched against each other in a way that is even crazier than our politics. We accept a standard for what we think is normal that is way out there on the extreme. And we don’t get anything in return. Our economy is not better off. We are not better off. Our retirement is not secured. Our families are not secure. Our kids cannot afford college. Our healthcare is crazy. Our infrastructure sucks and lags way behind.

    What is really left of America as the greatest nation on earth? Our military? I can tell you that it is not that Europe relies on the US to defend it. Europe has a different threat assessment and finds it obscene and unnecessary to invest that much into its military. They invest in infrastructure and their people and it is paying off. Maybe you should spend some time somewhere in Europe and experience how life could be. I am convinced you would change your mind.

    • 1mime says:

      I could not agree more, Martin. I would be a perfect “expat” if my life’s responsibilities didn’t require that I be here. I will say this for those who think America is so “exceptional” and that “capitalism” is the be all, that view belongs to a smaller and smaller subset. The country has many strengths – mostly the industrious and creative people who live and work here, but they are not being rewarded. I’ll bet that we see another candidate like Sanders in the next election. This problem, these needs, are not going away. In a way, I would be curious to see how or if a President Sanders would change things in America. Since he will not be the nominee, we’ll never know but I hope he stays active and keeps the pressure and spotlight on the issues which he has exposed. He may not be the person to lead the revolution and his goals may be unattainable, but he is speaking the truth. That is refreshing and that’s why young people who can’t stand BS love him.

      • Martin says:

        You are right. It seems to me though that we have to go through the tunnel first. A Trump or Cruz presidency might be required for people to realize what they are missing.

        A country in decline on the road to ruin. I liked this one the best:

      • 1mime says:

        Martin, that was a very deep read, and disheartening because I see it all unfolding just as the author presents. Reducing people to the lowest common denominator strips dignity and purpose. When society descends to this point, we have truly regressed to a very dark place.
        Powerful essay.

      • Bobo Amerigo says:

        mime, where would you go? A recommendation, please.

        I was laid off about two weeks ago. Total surprise. I’d just received a nice performance-based bonus in the previous quarter. Immediate boss really liked my work, I was effective and co-workers said they liked that they could count on me. Nonetheless, I was laid off. (I may have been the only one; if that’s the case, my story just gets more interesting….)

        Which European country would you investigate as a place for an American woman to live?

      • 1mime says:

        I have visited Costa Rica and like how they respect expats. Their standard of living is pretty good, it is a democracy and they have no military. They took the military budget and turned it over to health and public education. Two thirds of C.R. are environmentally protected. Otherwise, It would be Italy. More likely, because of my age (72), and the fact that I can’t make any plans until my husband’s death, I might be too old to make a move out of country. In which case, I have thought of NM. Reality is that my age, health, and available resources will play a big role in my decision.

      • 1mime says:

        I’m sorry. I didn’t comment on your job loss. That sucks. I guess I should be asking you what your plans are….altho you may not have had time to work that out. If you don’t have a family, you have more independence in looking for a new job if you’re young and still need or want to work. I really am sorry to hear that Bobo. There are so many people hurting and the conversation in political circles never gets around to working people’s needs.

      • vikinghou says:

        I’m very sorry to hear about your job loss, Bobo. I am retired, but many of my former colleagues have recently had the same experience. I don’t know what type of business you’re in but, in the oil industry, all of the slackers have already been laid off. Last week there was a bloodbath in my former department (20% reduction), and the victims were very high caliber. It wasn’t a performance decision, it came down to whether your current project was a priority or not. There was also some age discrimination in that many of people who were let go had or were approaching 20 years with the company.

        The survivors were called into a meeting with the department manager. One person asked the question “Now who are our mentors going to be?” The manager really didn’t have a satisfactory answer. The company is going to suffer when (or if) the industry rebounds. Hundreds of years of experience were shown the door, and people of this caliber are not coming back.

      • 1mime says:

        And the boss who made the decision to terminate people? He will probably get a bonus.

      • Bobo Amerigo says:

        Thank you, viking.

        Not in the oil business, but I hear it’s painful out there.

        I picked up some new skills and interests in my former job, which I think will pave the way for part-time or temporary work, which is what I prefer.

        Martin’s post reminds me of just how burdensome is the nagging worry of workers in America: Have I saved enough to stop working? I had to take social social early when I was laid off in 2010 (remember 10% unemployment?). And I can live small. I do think, though, that worry can damage one’s health.

      • 1mime says:

        Bobo, I can share a little wisdom on the subject of living simply. Live small, think big. Do something that you have always wanted to do. As you note from my diatribe to Lifer on health insurance, this is a huge problem for the uninsured because it is a lifetime obligation. It seems that you are close to being eligible for medicare, which is a great program but constantly on the GOP radar. If you don’t have a medical condition that is costly, medicare advantage is a good choice; otherwise, prudence dictates that you add a supplement to assist with the 20% medicare doesn’t cover. Talk to a financial planner who you respect – a woman if you know one as they can better relate. Your future might be different than you planned, but it could be better than you hoped if you are happier in what you do. Still, bills must be paid, retirement provided for. This could be the perfect time for you to enjoy expat life, or, premature. I know you’ll give it the depth of thinking it deserves because you are a smart lady. Wherever you end up, keep posting!

      • objv says:

        Sorry to her about the layoff, Bobo. My husband was laid off a few months ago. Fortunately, he had been working for the same company for 34 years and he was ready for early retirement.

        My daughter has not been so lucky. She was laid off on the same day as my husband and found another job almost immediately. However, after three months on the job, most of the employees were called in to a meeting and told the company was having financial difficulties and they would have to find other work. Only three out of twenty plus people kept their jobs.

        NM is not everyone’s cup of tea, but we are happy here. Mime, where in NM were you thinking of moving? Ruidoso and Santa Fe are quite nice. We live in Farmington which is not nearly as picturesque, but we like its proximity to national parks and forests. In any case housing prices have plummeted, so we’re stuck here for awhile. 🙂

      • Creigh says:

        I don’t think people sufficiently appreciate what Sanders says at every campaign stop and in almost every interview about his ability to accomplish his political objectives. He says very clearly that if we elect him, he will be powerless to accomplish his vision without millions of people forcing Congress to pass the necessary legislation. What he’s saying, in other words, is that what people demand is more important than what the President wants. This is really what attracted me to Sanders in the first place, not his “electability” or his institutional effectiveness or the details of his agenda. It’s about democracy itself, and politics at its most basic; deciding what kind of society we will live in.

    • Bobo Amerigo says:

      Costa Rica is a fine idea. Thanks, mime!

      • flypusher says:

        My sympathies Bobo. I get high approval ratings in my current job too, but it’s a year to year thing with me. I heard informally that I’ll be getting renewed for another year this fall, but I assume nothing until it’s in writing!! And while age discrimination is technically illegal, if you are 40+, you know it is real.

      • vikinghou says:


        I am retired but still do consulting work for my former employer. Contractors are financially attractive to many companies during difficult times because no benefits have to be paid. You may be in better shape than you think.

      • Bobo Amerigo says:

        fly, I didn’t know you worked year to year (grant to grant?). And that age discrimination thing? Indeed, it is real. I wish you the best.

  10. momrois says:

    Some days I wonder if the Chris I am reading is the same Chris whose email I signed up for.

    • formdib says:

      How do you mean? This has been relatively consistent with his discussion about the future of employment and government’s role therein as far as I have followed:

      * The wage and salary employment system of modern industrialization is a temporary transitory stage between agrarian subsistence labor and the post-industrialized ‘gig’ economy focused on services supported by highly efficient and productive automations

      * which is decoupling health, financial, and retirement benefits from employment, despite the employment requirement in the US’s structure (and arguably hegemony)

      * which means old school rules and regulations that tie employee to employer in return for structured support systems that grow with productivity are ironically being undercut by productivity’s disalignment with labor, so that

      * good governance requires rethinking those support structures while still nurturing productivity growth, which need not be necessarily contradictory or mutually exclusive.

      Unions or regulations like the WARN act are designed to protect workers’ employment and benefits to companies under the assumption that workers want to dedicate their labor to individual companies and individual employers want to have dedicated full time workers.

      A look at the current court cases over Uber describe exactly the issue here: Uber doesn’t consider its ‘partners’ to be ’employees’. The State of California disagrees. The actual drivers probably range the entire gamut between Uber’s logic and California’s. If Uber gets its way, it signals to a variety of new businesses methods of structuring themselves to pay lots of people lots of wages without having to handle the costs of employees, which could be seen as a new way of evading labor rights; if California gets its way, employing Uber drivers may become prohibitively expensive, or the rides themselves increase in cost in a manner that reduces the profitability of Uber, the wages of the drivers, AND the value to the costumers in one fell regulatory capture.

      So, how do we go about creating a society where Uber can make ride sharing accessible to all consumers and help individuals gain value out of their vehicles, but also protects the individuals operating in the gig economy from getting completely screwed when they get sick or some accident happens? It’s not going to work to require Uber drivers drive 40 hours a week and require Uber to pay its 8% Social Security and Medicare part of taxes. We need a third way, that benefits both. That’s where the government’s job lies.

      Instead, we have a Republican frontrunner who wants to cripple the economy with rent seeking, and a a Democrat challenger who wants to cripple the economy with regulatory capture. Both are economic isolationists who believe in rules that were never really well followed the half-century ago when they were at least relevant.

      FYI, the above is not me speaking for Chris, but from some amount of what I’m receiving from his blog mixed with my own thoughts on the matter.

      • 1mime says:

        I think most are on board with your analysis, it’s just this particular post seemed a stretch, which is not Lifer’s style. Clearly the whole point revolved around drawing a parallel between Sanders decision to release field staff in contradiction to the WARN Act which he has steadfastly championed. The act doesn’t apply in this situation as it is temporary employment therefore the comparison failed. Sanders may deserve rebukes for other aspects of his candidacy, but this was a bridge too far.

        The solutions you suggest, which are very real, simply don’t matter to the Republican Party which is in power. And, I submit, unless there is a major shift in the philosophy of the GOP, working class issues will never matter to it. If the Democratic Party is successful in the general election, your ideas and others that Sanders and Clinton support, should top the agenda simply because that is what working people, who are the base of the Dem Party, are concerned about. We will see if the Dem Party has the organizational focus and commitment to hammer these points into law and policy. If mainstream America will GOTV, there is a shot to implement some of these changes, but the window is narrow and the odds – while good – do not guarantee a Democratic victory. People have to stop complaining and VOTE. It’s the only way.

      • formdib says:

        I can see what you mean about the ‘stretch’ in the logic here, but after a point it became clearer that he was using a bit of purposeful exaggeration to illustrate that the idea of a ‘gig’ economy. Otherwise it’s all about the special cases of Uber or AirBnB et al as individual companies, when the ‘gig’ economy is really about how labor is transforming in general and employment situations like Bernie’s own staff are no longer ‘seasonal work’ but typical employment.

        I don’t think that’s too much of a stretch. Shorly after 2010 I remember an article in BusinessWeek covered a so-called ‘gray economy’ that featured unlicensed hair stylists, drivers, petty mechanics, and other sorts of small services within neighborhoods that were pretty much unregistered, untaxable, and not even considered employment by the practitioners even though they made money and got by on it, with a few favors in kind from friends.

        These gray economy participants were for the most part not considered ‘unemployed’ because they weren’t looking for jobs. They didn’t need them.

        A friend of mine is a good example. He’s an amateur car mechanic and custom / retro car builder. He has no official business. He’s been living off of each new ‘client’, all of whom are really just friends of his or friends of friends of his that become friends of his because they all hang out in the same retro car community in the same area, and they pay him $100, $200 a day for the work. He doesn’t seek clients, he doesn’t advertise, he doesn’t even charge, they just offer the money in gratitude, and he doesn’t consider it a job, he considers it his hobby. He’s been ‘searching for a job’ while living off this ‘hobby’ for five fucking years. He pays rent, eats well, and does whatever he wants with his free time.

        He certainly knows the lifestyle isn’t sustainable, so this isn’t an argument that he’s doing great. He’s making ends meet while he figures out how to, name it, ‘grow up’, ‘get a job’, ‘gain wealth’, ‘find some security.’

        I also once asked him about just turning it into a business, and that was while I was hanging out with a friend of his who just had some retro engine installed, and his friend said (quoting from memory imperfect),

        “Oh there are totally businesses like this in this city. I know a lot of the guys who do this work and they’re really cool. But we’re not actually working on my car, like I’m not asking for a specific service. We’re just playing around with stuff together and since he’s so knowledgeable I help him out with rent.”

        Or there’s the joke I make whenever I lose a waged or salaried position and go back to freelancing to make ends meet and find new jobs (it’s all really the same thing, networking, working, and freelancing, anymore). When people say, “Are you self-employed?” my response is, “No, I’m self-unemployed.” I’ve managed to work for six years straight paying my rent and bills, saving money, finding health care, putting together a retirement account, and going debt free all while being only officially employed in any signatory w2 capacity for maybe a total of a year and a half of the six. Sure, lots of it is still w9, but more of it than I would like to admit was just ‘Hey can you help me with this one project some weekend? I’ll throw you $500.”

        But I’m in film and video production. That’s expected for my industry. The irony of the whole situation is that I originally had that dilemma between, “Should I risk constant employment insecurity or should I find secure employment in a different industry?” and now that’s not even a dilemma. There’s no such thing as employment security in any fucking industry. So now that I have that clarified, I’m done worrying about it and just focus on managing my own career as its sort of ‘business’. I’m self-unemployed.

        Anyway but however so anyway, going back to Bernie Sanders, that’s the point I’m seeing with this article. He’s writing regulation under the assumption that there is a coupling between ’employers’ and ’employees’. There may not be such a thing in the economy moving forward. I don’t have an employer. But I work for companies with hundreds to thousands of people working for them. And in most of those cases those people aren’t ’employees’ of the company either. And that’s not unusual, at all, anymore.

        So, Bernie’s policies are drafted from an incorrect assumption that employers can protect ‘jobs’, which as his very own campaign shows (even if it were successful and he were elected), isn’t really the status of most wage earning mechanisms anymore.

      • 1mime says:

        We all bring our personal experiences and situations into our understanding and our remarks. Your experience seems very manageable for you, but, what if you got sick? Couldn’t work? Or, had a family who had needs? Or, lost your job? I’m trying to think in “macro” terms from a “micro” understanding and it is admittedly difficult. Aging lends itself to more caution and focus on security. Whatever works is great but life throws curve balls and there are a lot of people who get hurt in the process. I may have taken Lifer’s post too simply and missed the larger message he was trying to make, or, I may simply disagree with him. There are complicated issues at work in our country right now and I am well beyond anointing one political party as savior. In my “perfect” world, I want old fashioned governing to reflect bipartisan, honest deliberation from a broad spectrum of ideologies. I value consensus and intelligence and I abhor grandstanding and hyperbole. That’s where I’m coming from.

      • formdib says:

        “Your experience seems very manageable for you, but, what if you got sick? Couldn’t work? Or, had a family who had needs? Or, lost your job?”

        Right, we’re all talking about the same thing.

        My friend the retro car tinkerer knows in the long run he’s going to want to afford a mortgage. I have health insurance (the ACA requires it), but that’s only because of a combination the ACA and my own personal financial discipline.

        The gig or gray economy is stripping away labor rights. I feel Chris’ statements on the matter reflect that. New safety nets have to be woven.

        It’s just that the Democrats aren’t doing it either. It’s easy to point at the Republicans’ pretty much disdainful disregard for any human being’s dignity and self-representation (‘bathrooms’ indeed) to citizens as a whole, if not obstructionism to governance in particular, but the problem is that only leaves us to the Democrats’ clientelism to resolve these matters. Since the Republicans are currently developing a power vacuum, I’m only hoping people like Chris represent an opportunity to develop a ‘party of ideas’ out of platform and infrastructure of a dying group of bigots, since new ‘third parties’ tend to be relatively unremarkable for their narrow scope and lack of infrastructure.

        Or, you know, a third party will grow a wider infrastructure and platform for ideas out of their current narrow / single issue scope.

      • 1mime says:

        For the life of me, formdib, I don’t see how you can fault the Dems for not doing more for the worker during the O administration. The first two years were dominated by the Great Recession and passage of the ACA. Now we can quibble all day about the weaknesses of the latter and I would be in agreement, but for folks like yourself and 19+million others – at least you have access to health care. The President offered a $700M jobs bill focused on infrastructure but You know who did you know what with that proposal…put it in a cool, dark place.

        When people are critical of what Dems didn’t do, I always want to ask “what” could have been accomplished under the total GOP obstruction they faced? You could go back to the Clinton administration and there are certainly some things I’d change there, but what, specifically do you think they should have/could have done in these past 7+ years? My chief complaint about the party is twofold: one, they are not developing their seed corn thus leadership is old; and two, their messaging is terrible. But, if you want a party of “great ideas”? Go all the way back to FDR and then LBJ for some of the most significant programs that helped the working class of our nation. The one area I do think O has achieved a great deal is in pushing forward on equal rights. Is there more that needs to be done? Damn straight, but let’s give credit where it’s due.

        Republicans used to offer a solid, rational conservative counterpoint that served a valuable purpose to the liberal Democratic agenda. Along the way, things changed to an elitism at the expense of all else and a denigration of rights that is unparalleled in history. I don’t care which party Chris Ladd supports, he would make a solid contribution in either. We have what we have until it changes, if it changes. I am not convinced that even with a major GOP loss that the party will change its spots. It may take longer and more defeats which the base may not deliver.

      • formdib says:

        I have no problem with Obama’s administration and as such see value in either a Clinton or Sanders administration. With regard to Congress, there’s either taking them as a whole including Republicans, or focusing on the people I’ve directly voted for, each of whom I feel do sufficient, albeit not spectacular, jobs. I don’t really see good ‘ideas’ coming out of them but they at least seem to make good decisions.

        But here we’re discussing Sanders and then the Democratic Party as a whole. So on the one hand we have Sanders’ economic protectionism already discussed, but we also have the clientelism of the Clintons, which has lead to stuff like the the 1997 Telecommunications Act, private prison expansion and vestment, and so forth.

        Lastly, Republican and Democrat aside, my frustration stems from a laggard government debating between outdated assumptions and then refusing to budge on compromise anyway. So they can’t even pass imperfect policy, but even if they do it’s imperfect policy.

        As for what my ideas are, I’m taking my time on them but I’ll give some generalisms. First off, I’m interested in the basic income idea but really not sold on it, re: cost sustainability and amount. I feel it would have to be administered as a negative income tax to be possible at all. The problem is that it would have to go hand in hand with a single payer health insurance and there’s just no way I see BOTH being affordable.

        Secondly I’m interested in sales, ‘vice’, and luxury taxes rather than employment taxes. They have problems too though. Even a 1% flat sales tax on ‘everything’ makes larger purchases even more unattainable for lower income people. But stuff like alcohol, cigarettes, marijuana (legalized), and so forth should all go into healthcare. Stuff like yachts, high fashion accessories, luxury vehicles, and all other rich people nonsense can be taxed at high rates because once you’re spending money merely to show off how much money you have, some of that money ought to go to help the needy. If rich people complain, we can point out that them buying their solid diamond watches can allow them to add the word ‘philanthropist’ to their Wikipedia profile.

        I also frankly believe candy should be taxed to subsidize fruit and vegetable sales, and this comes from my experience working in Dubai where a KitKat bar cost $4 but a box of strawberries cost 25c. My junk food habit outright died from sheer economics and it took me a few years back in the States to fall back into the sugar habit due to the low cost of candy versus fruit. If an apple costs significantly less than a Snickers bar, you’ll see a change in Americans diets. That’s the sort of thing the Republicans would probably stand against as “Nanny state” behavior.

        A third thing I’m interested in is widening the scope of trade deals to include requirements for international minimum wages pegged to the international poverty line, and other labor, climate, and human rights requirements. This may not be possible for all I know — I imagine it would make it a hard sell, and in many cases even the US would fall short of requirements (for example, paid parental leave time if we maintain the employer-employee coupling assumption). Also there should be more of these trade deals just generally.

        Those are the ideas I’m concentrating on the debates over while I keep my eyes out for others. None of them do I think are easy or perfect, but I think they have a fundamental resolution in mind that can then be worked toward in manners more wonkish and precise. And unfortunately as the world gets more interconnected, interdependent, and institutionalized, I think the biggest problem is keeping all the rules simple enough to follow, broad enough to apply, adaptable enough to change, and welcoming enough to be successful.

      • 1mime says:

        Here’s a good example of the ongoing interest on the part of the Republican Party to help the uninsured. Notice – “gone” is an assurance of “no pre-existing conditions exclusion”. Instead, the new idea is for a high risk pool of these unfortunate folks…..Oh,well, at least the Republican Party “says” it is doing something about health insurance….I mean, we just gotta get rid of Obamacare (which is insuring 90% of those not receiving health insurance from their employers) because it’s horrible! Right – so what’s your plan? Ryan is giving us bits and pieces so as to blunt the shock and awe.

      • formdib says:

        Sorry I also forgot to get into the party aspect of this:

        my philosophy on the party, both in general and with regard to these issues discussed, is that the Democratic party is well meaning but hopelessly outdated, whereas the Republican party is basically the consecrated anxiety, hatred, and fear of all basic and fundamental modern assumptions, as well as also hopelessly outdated. Whereas I vote Democrat mostly to stave off the fascist theocrats of the rightwing, yeah, I’d totally vote Republican if they in any manner resembled the humanistic technocrats Chris represents the party to be.

  11. Stephen says:

    I think I posted somewhere on this blog a link to the Big Picture blog of a graph showing that for all income groups except the upper 10% and mostly the 1% actually earning less money than 50 years ago adjusted for inflation. Workers have definitely lost bargaining power.

    I actually have relatives who have ran small businesses. They are in the same boat as workers as rules and regulation hurts them while helping big employers and those with large amounts of capital to establish and keep monopolies. The sane solution is somewhere between Sanders and the plutocratic wing of the Republican party. Small government advocates really want no sheriff around so they can establish marketing power and take advantage of everyone else.

    We need the right size government to regulate the economy so we retain a competitive capitalist market. Other wise we will drift towards Feudalism. And the system of capitalism self destructs. This is not new as Adam Smith wrote about this tension and the role government needs to play to keep markets open and establish the trust need for capitalism to work in the first place. It usually is a red herring when you hear about big government and too much regulation. Those advocating that really do not want no regulation, just establish rules that help them mass marketing power while also hindering any competition against them.

    People are on to the ruse advocated by the Plutocratic wing of the Republican party and the split personality of the Democratic Party of supporting the plutocrats while saying they are for the middle class. Which is why Bernie and Trump have done well.

    I actually agree with your paradigm but see it through a different prism and interpret it differently. We do not need less regulation as much as we need regulation that restores the balance of barter power between Labor and Capital.

    • 1mime says:

      We need appropriate regulation, Stephen. If there wasn’t a need for regulation, it wouldn’t exist. Key is that it not stifle growth or allow management OR labor to run amok. Small businesses are typically family run and lack the resources to hire out compliance and deviance efforts. They follow the rules and they are the ones who are getting hammered.

  12. Martin says:

    Chris, seriously? You are still young, well educated, with a job in the tech industry that pays 6 figures. Great. My wife works as a nurse @ $24 per hour. She gets up at 5am to start work by 6:30am. Quite often she is home again by 8am. They did not need her that day. She got up, drove to work back and forth, and got nothing for it. If she does not like these work conditions, too bad. Go work someplace else they say. When you start a new job in a new place you don’t get healthcare benefits for the first month or two. What a scam! She has a M.Sc. degree and is a professional.

    It is so backwards to believe that businesses have all the rights and employees have none. We were indoctrinated in America for decades that our economy would literally die if we were to give workers more humane conditions. Now we have a workforce that has to work two jobs and underperforms both. We get lousy two weeks vacation if at all and nothing else. Salaries stagnated or went down. No wonder people are upset. No wonder they vote for people you don’t seem to like.

    There is no perfect system, but what we got here in America sucks. Work conditions in America are among the worst in the Western world, but we don’t even know about it. Except of course if you got a good paying tech job somewhere. It is a very uneven playing field. There are millions of very brave people in America who make ends meet with very little and work exceptionally hard. But that is not the way it has to be. This could be the year where people finally realize that trickle down is a fallacy. That they need to stand up for their rights. And that they need unions to do so.

    As to Bernie’s workers, your comparison is totally off. These staffers knew going in that this is a temporary assignment and they never assumed they would get thus far. To then spin this into a story of unions is the same BS we hear from candidates. A good reality check would be really helpful. Do you live in the real world?

    • goplifer says:

      “As to Bernie’s workers, your comparison is totally off.”

      If you’ve ever tried to change job rules under a collective bargaining agreement, you might have said the same thing. But you’d still fail.

      “These staffers knew going in that this is a temporary assignment and they never assumed they would get thus far.”

      So what? Legally, under WARN he still isn’t allowed to lay them off w/o 60 days notice. The law doesn’t care about your exceptions. The law doesn’t care about your unique situation. The law doesn’t care that those rules logically shouldn’t apply to your unique situation. Sanders will get away with it, but a local employer will not.

      Sen. McGovern’s advice makes a lot of sense. Be careful what you wish for. It isn’t easy to write very specific detailed rules that will apply to incredibly diverse business scenarios from Biloxi to Bangor. Get sloppy or arrogant and you’ll create terribly damaging outcomes.

      • goplifer says:

        Planning to go with “faltering company” or “natural disaster?”

      • 1mime says:

        “The WARN Act is not activated when a covered employer:
        closes a temporary facility or ‘completes a temporary project, and the employees working in the facility or temporary project were hired with the clear understanding that their employment would end with the closing of the work facility or the completion of the project;’ ”

        Of course, I’m not an attorney so take me to the judge!

      • Griffin says:

        I’d imagine they’d go with “closes a temporary facility or completes a temporary project, and the employees working in the facility or temporary project were hired with the clear understanding that their employment would end with the closing of the work facility or the completion of the project.”

      • 1mime says:

        Exactly. The opening paragraph spells out that if it is a temporary project and those employed were aware of the fact, the WARN Act doesn’t apply.

        That’s my free, non-lawyer interpretation of the exceptions to the act…..I’m sure the legal eagles will be all over my interpretation (-;

      • johngalt says:

        Be careful what you wish for in the WARN act. “Temporary” projects start lasting for years. Protections like these exist in many southern European countries (Italy and Spain come to mind, but they’re not alone) where it is virtually impossible to fire permanent employees. So the companies don’t hire permanent employees. Instead they hire young people on temporary contracts in what is basically an extended internship and from which they can be easily fired. And so the youth unemployment rate (under 25) in Spain is 46%. Coincidence?

  13. 1mime says:

    “Using this as an excuse for business layoffs is, at best, ingenuous.”

    Might I suggest a different form of the word “ingenious”? How about “disingenuous”.

  14. 1mime says:

    Surely, ye jest…..But, just in case you are being “serious”, I offer a few points in rebuttal:

    1. The difference between Sanders and Romney is that Romney freely stated he “enjoyed” laying people off. Sanders wouldn’t and didn’t. It was responsible to do so as a sound business decision, but most business owners – small or large – don’t enjoy laying people off.
    2. Staffers and field personnel involved in national elections do not sign on for “life” they sign on for the campaign or as needed. There is never an expectation for lifetime employment in their field position….maybe key staffers if the candidate wins, but that’s it. These are temps and they know it from the get-go.
    3. It is really stretching to say that Sanders or any presidential candidate should offer “basic employee protections” such as those unions bargain for or such as a small business would. This is a transient position. I have never heard of any presidential campaign in the history of America that directly employed unions, so a better comparison is needed than unions.
    4. As for re-training, these young men and women got the best possible training for any future job, on the job. Plus, they had the experience of a lifetime – throwing themselves for the first time into the political process with their whole hearts and their small and many contributions of money and time. I’d say it was pretty satisfying temporary employment. Unlike many, most were working “for” a person and a cause they deeply believed in rather than simply pulling down a paycheck. There is never any obligation by any campaign by any party to field staff or campaign managers that I am aware of. Those who distinguish themselves will rise to the top for consideration in a future administration or possible employment by marketing or political consulting firms who are impressed with what they have been able to learn and accomplish for their candidate. BTW, there is a push going on right now by Sanders base to organize for involvement in the mid-terms. Wouldn’t this be a terrific extension of their skills and personal commitment to changing the political scene.
    5. I am surprised and somewhat confused at the statement: “labor laws designed to protect 19th and 20th century industrial workers….those rules no longer makes sense almost anywhere else in our economy.” Really? 40 hr work week? Sick leave? Workmen’s Comp? Time and a half? Or, possibly you are referring to “different” labor laws than these which universally benefit all working people. I’d like more specifics here if you care to respond.

    Other than these disagreements, it was a clever post….if one considers it as satire. If it is intended to make a point that Sanders (who I am not supporting, btw) is being dishonest in how he runs his campaign versus a “real long term small business” and how he treats people working for him in these “temporary” jobs, then, it missed. In fact, there are many concrete accomplishments that Sanders has achieved – not the least of which is his organization and his fundraising capability. A recent article suggested that his “campaign template” will forever change how campaigns are run. IOW, look for more campaigns based on the Bernie model because it has been very successful. The fact that he will not win the nomination doesn’t mean he didn’t win the award for the most interesting campaign we have seen in decades.

    Lifer, we may just have to agree to disagree on this one.

    • objv says:

      Romney’s quote was taken way out of context. He was not actually referring to firing people as individuals. From Lifer’s Atlantic link:

      “But let’s be reasonable for a moment. It’s quite clear that what Romney was trying to say was that consumers like firing service-providing companies, not people. “

  15. TheMeansAreTheEnd says:

    I agree that any industry that has to try to sell one thing to each of 50 states, and once they sold it or not they don’t need any further operations in that state, should be allowed to lay off employees once their state is done. Especially if there is a fixed date on which they’ll find out whether they made the sale or not.

    But in that case, they could give layoff notices most of a year ahead, together with a promise that they’ll rehire them for a different state if they need more employees in that state. And isn’t that the understanding that everyone has when they go to work on a campaign? It’s not like the lower level workers join political campaigns to make a living — a lot of campaigns don’t even pay those people, unlike Sanders.

    Further, businesses don’t buy capital equipment unless they foresee a stable need for the equipment — and then they are stuck with it unless they want to write off the non-depreciated cost. Do we think companies should be allowed to treat employees as being more disposable than capital equipment? In the tech industries, they typically offer a compensation package to employees who are being laid off, despite the labor laws not applying. Other industries can’t do that?

    As for protecting senior employees over junior ones, that has one simple purpose: to prevent management from playing games over who gets fired. Like firing those who complain about safety problems, or call for a union, or do anything else management doesn’t like. In the tech professions, laying off only the least essential people is legal and in theory how it is done, but it’s amazing how often it’s really a matter of finding scapegoats.

  16. irapmup says:

    “The men and women who keep our economy on its’ feet” are not for the most part involved in what at best is a temporary situation. Both he and they knew it going into this campaign. Unless saddled with incredulous ignorance, I suspect you know this as well.

    Using this as an excuse for business layoffs is, at best, ingenuous.

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