Tag Archives | Labor

The U.S. Government Stops Paying Dead People

I See Dead PeopleThe U.S. government sees dead people. Explains a lot. Mark S. Smith writes on the AP via Yahoo News:

Here’s an idea, Uncle Sam: Stop writing checks to dead people.

The government sent benefit checks to 20,000 departed Americans over three years, totaling more than $180 million — a remarkable number that provoked the Obama administration to create a government-wide “do not pay” list as part of its brainstorming for ways to save taxpayer money.

Once the database is up and running, agencies will have to search it before sending out payments. A pre-check check, so to speak.

“We’re making sure that payments no longer go to the deceased — it sounds ridiculous even to say it,” acknowledged Vice President Joe Biden in describing the database.

Also planned for inclusion: contractors who’ve fallen behind in their payments or, even worse, landed in jail, and companies that have been suspended or otherwise deemed ineligible for government work.

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Adderall Receives Honorary Degree From Harvard

The above headline is from the good folks at The Onion, please read their story here. What is alarming is, if you watch this recent report from 60 Minutes, this really isn’t a joke.

I have to imagine the chemically induced behavior (i.e. “productivity”) makes it way into the workforce, what does this say about the state of America, is this is commonplace among the so-called best and brightest?

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Americans, You Have the Worst Quality of Life in the Developed World — By a Wide Margin

American Flag

Photo: BrokenSphere (CC)

Lance Freeman writes on Escape From America Magazine:

Americans, I have some bad news for you:

You have the worst quality of life in the developed world — by a wide margin.

If you had any idea of how people really lived in Western Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and many parts of Asia, you’d be rioting in the streets calling for a better life. In fact, the average Australian or Singaporean taxi driver has a much better standard of living than the typical American white-collar worker.

I know this because I am an American, and I escaped from the prison you call home. I have lived all around the world, in wealthy countries and poor ones, and there is only one country I would never consider living in again: The United States of America. The mere thought of it fills me with dread.

Consider this, you are the only people in the developed world without a single-payer health system.

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Apple iPad-Maker Foxconn Makes Employees Promise Not To Kill Themselves

The iPad KillsThe Sydney Morning Herald reports:

Apple manufacturer Foxconn was taking extraordinary measures to safeguard its business and workers following a spate of suicides at its sprawling plant in southern China.

Workers have reportedly been told to sign letters promising not to kill themselves and even agree to be institutionalised if they appeared to be in an “abnormal mental or physical state for the protection of myself and others”.

Nets were also reportedly being hung around buildings to deter suicidal employees.

The moves came after a 19-year-old employee fell to his death at the Shenzhen factory — the ninth apparent suicide at the enormous site this year.

The deaths have raised questions about the conditions for millions of factory workers in China, especially at Foxconn, where labour activists and employees say long hours, low pay and high pressure are the norm.

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Life In Foxconn: Undercover In The iPod Factories

foxconnundercover05172010-1274313201A Chinese newspaper went undercover at a Foxconn factory, the production site for Western gadgets such as iPhones and iPods. The workers are an army of overworked, ill-treated, but optimistic twenty-year-olds whose existence is typical of many in China’s young adult generation. Translation via Engadget:

In front of a newly-opened phone shop, the sales assistant flashed an iPhone to the Foxconn employees, with everyone focused on his every “cool” gesture, as if it was something new. But actually every part of this “new” device would’ve come from the hands of these workers, except these guys had never thought of owning the final product. And now, this whole thing is right in front of their eyes with a “smashing price of ¥2,198 ($322)” — just above their monthly pay.

This super factory that holds some 400,000 people isn’t the “sweatshop” that most would imagine. It provides accommodation that reaches the scale of a medium-sized town, all smooth and orderly.

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Times Square Bomb: The Right’s Nuttiest Theory

Was the recent incident in Times Square an attempt to demonize the labor and environmental movements?  Mother Jones reports:

from T.L. Miles at Wikimedia Commons

Photo: T.L. Miles (CC)

This much we know: A US citizen born in Pakistan has been arrested for allegedly parking a Nissan Pathfinder in Times Square Saturday night, loaded with fertilizer that doesn’t combust, a kid’s alarm clock that likely didn’t tick, several gallons of gas, some propane tanks, and a few M80 firecrackers.

Attorney General Eric Holder has released a statement saying Shahzad was “taken into custody at JFK Airport in New York as he attempted to board a flight to Dubai.” There’s a lot we have yet to learn about what this news means, but it probably rules out one favorite conservative theory about the attempted bombing — that left-wing protesters took advantage of May Day (aka International Workers’ Day) to make a big bang in New York’s neon-soaked seat of capitalism.

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Work Kills More People Than War

Another chapter from my book, 50 Things You’re Not Supposed to Know, published in 2003, by Disinfo.

For more on me, please check out The Memory Hole.

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Office SpaceThe United Nations’ International Labor Organization has revealed some horrifying stats:

The ILO estimates that approximately two million workers lose their lives annually due to occupational injuries and illnesses, with accidents causing at least 350,000 deaths a year. For every fatal accident, there are an estimated 1,000 non-fatal injuries, many of which result in lost earnings, permanent disability and poverty.

The death toll at work, much of which is attributable to unsafe working practices, is the equivalent of 5,000 workers dying each day, three persons every minute. This is more than double the figure for deaths from warfare (650,000 deaths per year). According to the ILO’s SafeWork programme, work kills more people than alcohol and drugs together and the resulting loss in Gross Domestic Product is 20 times greater than all official development assistance to the developing countries.

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