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Author Topic: Ruthless To The Amazon Degree: Today's Sweatshops, Tomorrow's Layoff's Back to Topics
SemiSteve

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Message Posted: Aug 22, 2014 5:31:14 PM

Jim Hightower is a say-it-like-it-is kinda guy. And he holds nothing back when calling out pure naked greed by the .01%. It's really sad that there are such tyrants in the world as Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, but at least we have bold truth-tellers such as Jim to let us in on the degree to which this guy has raised the ugliness of nasty employers. Lots of folks are super-pleased with the way Amazon saves them money on products and makes them money on stocks. But the cheer is not universal:

"The establishment media are unabashedly infatuated with Bezos and have crowned him with numerous laurels, from "Person of the Year" to world's best living CEO. This May, however, the reigning God of TechWorld was awarded a less-coveted prize by the International Trade Union Confederation: "World's Worst Boss."

Even high-rankers in the corporation's hierarchy describe him as a cold, remote, controlling, ungenerous, and often vengeful gnome of a man with no empathy for the people who work for him. As far back as the 1980s, when he was a Wall Street banker, he was perceived as lacking the human touch. "He was not warm," remembers one who knew him then. "It was like he could be a Martian for all I knew.""

" the pace is hellish. The pickers' computers don't just dictate where they're to go next, but how many seconds Amazon's time-motion experts have calculated it should take them to get there. The scanners also record the time each worker actually takes--information that is fed directly into a central, all-knowing computer. The times of every picker are reviewed and scored by managers who have an unmerciful mandate to

Mac McClelland, a fine investigative reporter formerly with Mother Jones, took a job as a picker in an Amazon-contracted warehouse named Amalgamated Product Giant Shipping Worldwide, Inc. On her first day, her scanner told her she had 20 seconds to pick up an assigned product. As McClelland reported, she could cover the distance and locate the exact shelving unit in the allotted time only "if I don't hesitate for one second or get lost or take a drink of water before heading in the right direction as fast as I can walk or even jog. " She concedes that, "Often as not, I miss my time target."

That's not good, for Amazon has a point system for rating everyone's time performance. Score a few demerits and you get "counseled." Score a few more, and you're out the door. And everything workers do is monitored, timed, and scored, beginning the moment they punch-in for their shift. Be one minute late, you'll be assessed half a penalty point; an hour late gets you a whole point; missing a shift is 1.5 points--and six points gets you fired."

"In fact, when you toil for the man, don't even expect air conditioning. Three summers ago, a series of heat waves hit Pennsylvania's Lehigh Valley, and Amazon's cement warehouse there became literally a sweatshop. Yet, workers not only were expected to endure the heat that reportedly rose as high as 114 degrees, but also were prodded to maintain the usual relentless pace dictated by the corporate timers. Many couldn't make it... so Amazon had to adapt.

Slow the pace? Don't be ridiculous! Instead, the bosses hired paramedics to tend to workers who, in effect, melted down. As reported by The Morning Call in Allentown:

"Amazon arranged to have paramedics parked in ambulances outside, ready to treat any workers who dehydrated or suffered other forms of heat stress. Those who couldn't quickly cool off and return to work were sent home or taken out in stretchers and wheelchairs and transported to area hospitals." "

"There's even a category of uniquely vulnerable Americans that Amazon goes after: "Workampers," they're called. These are modern day migrants who could've stepped right out of a Steinbeck novel or Woody Guthrie song. Unable to get stable jobs, they travel in RV campers, taking whatever temporary work they can get, then move on down the road. McClelland, the Mother Jones investigator, says there were hundreds of these migrants where she worked, noting that Amazon's warehouse operator "advertises positions on websites workampers frequent.""

"Why not just replace those pesky humans altogether? Last year, he announced that "Amazon Prime Air" is in the works--a fleet of drones to deliver goods, gizmos, and gadgets to premium customers within 30 minutes after placing their must-have-now orders. But that's only phase one of his grand automation machination. Phase two is to take advantage of recent advances in artificial intelligence and ultimately replace all floor workers with robots.

Far-fetched? In 2012, Amazon bought Kiva Systems, Inc., a leading developer and installer of robotic warehouse systems. Guided by the central computer, hundreds of Kiva robots can glide seamlessly through the aisles to pluck the items. And they don't do lunch or take breaks (though they do require air conditioning), so for Bezos the Martian, robots eliminate the pesky need for any human touch."

--What the guy. First treat workers like dirt; and then dump them out. Is this the new mega-corporate M.O.?



[Edited by: SemiSteve at 8/22/2014 5:35:10 PM EST]
REPLIES (newest first) Post a Reply
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SemiSteve
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Message Posted: Sep 23, 2014 8:41:37 PM

Wow. Just finished the next installment of Hightower Report.

Treating workers badly is just part of the ruthlessness of Amazon.

Amazon is worse for the economy than Walmart.

Stories of using monopolistic power against competitors, suppliers, States, local communities, and even nations.

Amazon is like Wallmart on steroids. Power-drunk, greedy, and completely out of control.

Bezos is competing with the Koch brothers for most selfish snob in the nation.
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SemiSteve
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Message Posted: Sep 10, 2014 5:10:18 PM

"Then by all means --- dont work there Steve. If enough folks chose not to work there the bosses will rethink their policies. They will either pay what it costs (time or money or benefits etc) to get good employees or they will automate or they will offshore."

"Steve how in the world is that being a lousy boss?"

What? Crafting your business so that working there is just tolerable enough to attract the most desparate and gullible with the intent that nobody makes a career of it and that you expect the workers to burn out and be replaced frequently with fresh meat?

You're wondering how that is being a lousy boss?

Remind me to never work for you.
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MarkJames
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Message Posted: Sep 10, 2014 8:44:07 AM

One of my relatives works in human resources for one of the most abusive employers I know of.

It's rare to meet an adult that hasn't worked for this employer of thousands, or doesn't know several that have worked for this employer, so their abusive practices are well known.

They've been abusing workers for decades, yet average over 2 dozen applicants per low skilled job opening due to the tough job market and over-supply of low skilled job seekers.

Speaking of commuting distances, due to the tough job market, poor job quality and poor job security more and more are willing to commute 50 to 100 plus miles per day to work low paying, part-time and temp jobs.

Regarding reasonable commuting distances, unemployment and some social programs define reasonable commuting distances as 1 hour by private transportation, or 1-1/2 hours by public transportation.
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flyboyUT
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Message Posted: Sep 9, 2014 4:49:59 PM

Steve how in the world is that being a lousy boss?
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AC-302
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Message Posted: Sep 9, 2014 4:30:01 PM

SemiSteve said: "Well of course there is an endless supply of workers! All they have to do is pay a little more than min wage and there will be lines out the door of naive people wanting to earn that much. And if there are not enough applicants all they have to do is bump the wage up another 50 cents."

--No, there is not an endless supply of workers. First off, there's only going to be so many people within "reasonable" commuting distance (whatever that is, means different things to different people). So that right there ought to end that argument. But even further, what you're saying only proves my point that they will have to offer even more money if working conditions are that bad. Trust the market. Word gets around that an employer is a bad employer and don't go to work there. And again, the internet is a fantastic communications tool for reporting bad employers.
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SemiSteve
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Message Posted: Sep 8, 2014 12:55:33 PM

Fly, all you're doing is justifying being a lousy boss.

AC-302: "--But the fallacy in your argument is that there is an endless supply of workers. There most certainly is not. And if the employer is so harsh, nobody will want to work there, or won't work there for long. (example - take a job at Amazon until they can get something better. For those who cannot or will not improve themselves, then that's all they're going to get. Eventually Amazon will be like fast food - temp only, not a career). "

Well of course there is an endless supply of workers! All they have to do is pay a little more than min wage and there will be lines out the door of naive people wanting to earn that much. And if there are not enough applicants all they have to do is bump the wage up another 50 cents. That's the carrot. Once they are in the door then it's all about bust butt or out you go. That's the stick.

I've got no problem with expecting hard work for good pay but this place sounds ridiculous. 114 degrees in the building? Ambulances and spare workers waiting outside? No time for drinking water or going to the bathroom or you're given points? Too many points and out you go? They've turned humans into robots! And obviously that's what they want because eventually that is exactly what will replace them.

Of course they have recognized that the robots do require certain environmental characteristics so at that point they will have to get serious about the AC.
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AC-302
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Message Posted: Sep 8, 2014 11:57:59 AM

SemiSteve said: "Which is exactly what happens to most Amazon workers. Easily explained by the high turn-over rate. As soon as Amazon 'burns out' a worker, that worker is replaced with fresh meat, oh, I mean a desparate and unsavvy starving recruit. And then that one burns out and is replaced, and so on."

--But the fallacy in your argument is that there is an endless supply of workers. There most certainly is not. And if the employer is so harsh, nobody will want to work there, or won't work there for long. (example - take a job at Amazon until they can get something better. For those who cannot or will not improve themselves, then that's all they're going to get. Eventually Amazon will be like fast food - temp only, not a career).
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flyboyUT
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Message Posted: Sep 8, 2014 11:52:59 AM

Then by all means --- dont work there Steve. If enough folks chose not to work there the bosses will rethink their policies. They will either pay what it costs (time or money or benefits etc) to get good employees or they will automate or they will offshore.

Regardless your problem will be solved wont it.
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SemiSteve
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Message Posted: Sep 8, 2014 11:50:32 AM

IF?

-> IF <- that place is so bad to work?

There is no 'if' about it, fly.

'the pace is hellish.'

There are probably prisoners who have better jobs.

[Edited by: SemiSteve at 9/8/2014 11:50:56 AM EST]
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flyboyUT
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Message Posted: Sep 4, 2014 11:46:54 AM

Hey Steve - nothing like a little 'over the top' hyperbole is there.

If that place is such a bad place to work then by all means dont go to work there. The choice is yours and every other person who is interested.
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SemiSteve
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Message Posted: Sep 4, 2014 11:44:18 AM

AC 302: " If Amazon, as temps, is such a bad place to work, with no security and no benefits, then eventually people will quit or be let go/laid off."

Which is exactly what happens to most Amazon workers. Easily explained by the high turn-over rate. As soon as Amazon 'burns out' a worker, that worker is replaced with fresh meat, oh, I mean a desparate and unsavvy starving recruit. And then that one burns out and is replaced, and so on.

It is a bad business which treats workers so badly that few stay. The profits are tainted. Nobody who really cares about people would do this. Only the uncaring cold greedy selfish types would.
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AC-302
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Message Posted: Sep 4, 2014 10:00:21 AM

SemiSteve - and again, what MarkJames is saying is the same as what I'm telling you. If Amazon, as temps, is such a bad place to work, with no security and no benefits, then eventually people will quit or be let go/laid off. If that is the case, the business will get a reputation, and workers won't even apply there anymore. Word gets around about bad employers. That would mean either 1) they'd have to change their practices to be more employee friendly or 2) they'd have to offer to pay more to get people in the door. The free market works. It's especially good with the internet. Websites like GlassDoor allow you to anonymously report on and review bad, or for that matter, great employers.
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MarkJames
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Message Posted: Sep 4, 2014 9:28:45 AM

Yes, these were permanent full-time workers with benefits.

Had they been temps they would likely take the pay-to-quit offer since temp jobs are a dime a dozen.

Most new hires at the businesses where they work are temps and few become permanent full time year round employees.

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SemiSteve
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Message Posted: Sep 3, 2014 10:19:45 AM

OK, it's the security.

I presume if they had benefits they were not working for Amazon. From the sound of it Amazon prefers to contract for workers through an outside firm so all the workers are 'rented.' This allows Amazon to fire them at will; seemingly without repercussion. Few workers at Amazon are directly employed or enjoy such things as 'benefits.' (a joke on them)

And, of course, as you posed it the question was hypothetical. Nobody was really making those offers to the folks you talked to.

Surprising that Amazon would do that, though. It doesn't seem to fit their ruthlessness M.O.
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MarkJames
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Message Posted: Sep 3, 2014 7:02:56 AM

<<Pretty impressive. Offers of being paid to quit turned down. Why would anyone make such an offer?>>

They claim they make the offer since employees that really don't want to be there aren't healthy for the company.

<<MarkJames, did you make that offer to your employees? For what reason?>>

No, I asked workers at 2 local warehousing/distribution businesses that hate their jobs, commutes, hours, days, shifts, working conditions, bosses and many co-workers hypothetical questions.

I wanted to get an idea of how much money it would take to encourage them to quit permanent, full-time, (40 hours plus plenty of overtime) year round, long term and somewhat secure low skilled jobs with benefits they hate.

Since these jobs are very hard to find, they likely wouldn't find another, hence why they stay despite hating most everything about the jobs other than pay, benefits and job security.

Most of these workers would burn through the cash offers in a few months, then they'd be screwed if they didn't find another job or two.

Two of these workers lost jobs at another warehousing/distribution businesses and it took them roughly 2 years to find similar jobs.
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SemiSteve
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Message Posted: Sep 2, 2014 3:20:41 PM

Pretty impressive. Offers of being paid to quit turned down. Why would anyone make such an offer?

MarkJames, did you make that offer to your employees? For what reason?
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MarkJames
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Message Posted: Sep 2, 2014 10:16:39 AM

Regarding pay-to-quit, I made my first pay to quit offers to workers and tenants when I was 19.

I have little tolerance for whiners, so the offers are made to get rid of whiners, or stop/minimize whining.
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MarkJames
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Message Posted: Sep 2, 2014 10:07:24 AM

Full time, year round, long term and secure low skilled jobs are so rare that many won't quit them despite the poor working conditions, long commute times, hours, shifts, abusive practices, humiliation, nor offers of money, goods, services etc.

More and more have zero savings, zero/negative net worth and tons of debt, so X thousand dollars wouldn't last long without a job.

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Troller_Diesel
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Message Posted: Sep 1, 2014 7:35:49 PM

MiddletownMarty: It sounds like MarkJames asked the question as a hypothetical...

Which makes the replies to the negative even more telling.

Let me know if you need me to break that down into shorter sentences and words with less syllables...
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MiddletownMarty
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Message Posted: Sep 1, 2014 2:11:48 PM

Perhaps they suspected you weren't serious about the $5K.
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MarkJames
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Message Posted: Sep 1, 2014 9:23:39 AM

For kicks I asked several desperate warehouse workers that hate their jobs, hours/shifts, bosses and many co-workers how much money it would take for them to quit their jobs.

None would accept $5,000.

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MarkJames
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Message Posted: Sep 1, 2014 9:18:17 AM

<<"Why Amazon pays employees $5,000 to quit

You know the kind of workers who hate their job, but stick it out just to get that next paycheck? Amazon (AMZN) does -- and it doesn't want them. In fact, the company will pay them up to $5,000 to leave.

CEO Jeff Bezos explained the policy, called Pay to Quit, in his letter to shareholders this week.

Here's how it works:

Amazon makes the offer once a year, but only to workers in the fulfillment centers where orders are boxed and shipped. In the first year of work, the offer is $2,000. It goes up by $1,000 every year after that until it hits $5,000. The deal even has a special headline: "Please don't take this offer."

The idea, Bezos wrote in his letter, is "to encourage folks to take a moment and think about what they really want. In the long run, an employee staying somewhere they don't want to be isn't healthy for the employee or the company."

An Amazon spokeswoman told The Tennessean that "a small percentage" of employees take the deal. The company also offers to pay up to 95 percent of the tuition for warehouse workers who want to take classes for in-demand fields such as nursing or airplane mechanics -- even if those classes aren't relevant to their jobs at Amazon.

"We know that for some of our fulfillment center employees, Amazon will be a career," Bezos wrote. "For others, Amazon might be a stepping stone on the way to a job somewhere else -- a job that may require new skills. If the right training can make the difference, we want to help.">>

..Why Amazon pays employees $5,000 to quit
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AC-302
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Message Posted: Aug 29, 2014 9:21:12 PM

The bloody link didn't post. I got the military spending vs. GDP numbers off of the world bank website. If you are interested, go to google and type in "military spending vs gdp in the US". The World Bank website should come up.
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AC-302
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Message Posted: Aug 29, 2014 9:18:41 PM

SemiSteve said (and somewhat logically, I might add - Kudos to you): "Let's look at where we are: The USA spends more on weapons than the next TEN NATIONS COMBINED. Over A THIRD of all military spending worldwide is done by the USA. That means the USA spends one third+, and all the other nations in the world combined make up the other almost two thirds."

--Fair enough. But do you understand what constitutes military spending in the US? 2/3 of it is wages and pensions. Only 1/3 of that is leases, hardware and operating costs. But let's look at spending vs. GDP.

During the Reagan/Bush 1 years, it peaked to about 5.6%. And IMHO, spending on military hardware (including R&D and putting people back to work) actually helped out economy to grow robustly. During the early Clinton years, it dropped to a lower 4.3% or so. Through '98, it dropped to a low of 3.0% of GDP. At the end of Clinton, it dropped to 2.9%, but increased to 3.6% under Bush 2. During the later Bush 2 years, it held steady at 3.8%, then peaked in 2008 at 4.2%. Under Obama, spending vs. GDP actually jumped to 4.6 and 4.7%, though it was back down to 3.8% of GDP as of 2013 and the troop drawdowns.
*

*
I think it is inaccurate to compare the US to the 10th largest Army in the world. Turkey, South Korea, Japan and Israel are all allies, and aren't even a force to be reckoned with vs. US might. Russia and China ARE. But if you look at Russia and China, Russia INCREASED it's spending by 30%. China increased it's spending by 12.5% or so, and continues to do so. The US has actually CUT it's budget. As well, China is doing their best to steal sensitive US technologies that have cost us PLENTY to develop. Hey, innovations cost money. You found that out with big pharma, too. The same paradigm exists in "big defense." And it would appear that we NEED what we have and what we are developing, and our allies want to buy what we innovate. If they didn't, they'd be buying French, British, Israeli, Chinese or Russian arms. And they're free to do so. However, the allies seem to like what we've got. Nobody's talking about 'armed to the teeth'. But again, "If you want peace, prepare for war." Cicero's quote was true 2500 years ago when Roman legions roamed Europe protecting from marauders, and is still true today with our terrorists and tinpot dictators, like Chavez was, or like the Ayatollah Khomeni (jr), or Bashir Assad and Kim Jong Il still are today.

SemiSteve also complained: "What you are calling a 'logical interpretation' is anything but. You painted me as an extremist. Here's what you don't get: You don't have to interpret my words. That's where you get in trouble. Here's how to avoid that. Take what I say at face value"

--Rather, I would say that you deliberately are vague in your responses in order to be able to play the chameleon and say: "but..but I didn't say that and I didn't mean that." Sir - if you do not want to be misinterpreted, then say what you mean, and mean just what you say. Don't be vague, and don't leave a gray area. I don't paint you as what I would call an extremist, but your words indicate to me that you would prefer to dismantle some of our capabilities, rather than to further DEVELOP them. If that is not what you mean, then you ought to have said that very explicitly. And again, when I look at our spending vs. GDP, vs some other nations's spending vs. GDP, I'd say we're not too far out of whack. Particularly in light of the fact that we are a nation that innovates in the defense sector, and that those innovations lead to hardware that helps offset our trade imbalance. Seems OK to me.

SemiSteve further defined his argument (and I wish you would have said this the first time around, then I wouldn't have had to "bust your chops" over this): "I'm saying we should have an ample defense. What we have is too much. We're wasting money on stuff we don't need and will never use. And we are wasting the efforts of smart intelligent creative minds coming up with too much destructive devices. Then we spread 'em all over the world and act so surprised when there is so much war. Funny how when you ship a load of hammers somewhere all of a sudden every problem there begins to look like a nail."

--Again, define "ample"? And I say again, what about stockpiles to help in our time of need, or an ally's time of need? The hardware needs to be built as spares for us and as stockpiles in case of world emergency. While we will ship low-tech stuff to smaller countries, generally the higher tech stuff only goes to a certain group of allies who are NATO countries, or what I'll call "NATO-adjacent" (Israel is an example of that category, as are a few African nations). A country building up arms is a deterrent and can also be interpreted as a way of preserving the peace, or did you not get that?

What I also find amusingly naive is your interpretation that constructing and selling arms is the "cause" of war. Are you sure it isn't the expansionist tendencies of some countries, and the blind intolerant hatred found in others? (or a combination of the 2, as was found in Germany before and during WW-II)? (hey, that's a paraphrase of your "hammers/nails" complaint, and don't call it a strawman, because that is exactly your sentiment by throwing out that comment. Ditto your 'killing machines' comment.

So you decry intelligent minds working on defense programs? Do you want mediocre or sub-standard minds working on them? I don't get what you're saying here? I personally don't think working on defense programs is immoral. Do you? Again, people work on these programs for a number of reasons. Some of them (the programs and most of the people) are incredibly bright. There's some interesting technologies out there, and innovation will attract bright minds. But as I said before, and I think you didn't get it, many of these technologies for military use HAVE USEFUL civilian applications. Personal computers, dehydrated food, enhanced weather prediction and observation, dehydrated food, canning technology, space travel, satellites, cell phones, GPS, long distance and satellite telecommunications are but a very few examples of military spinoffs that touch about all of our lives daily. So what if they came from the military. They ended up being useful to all mankind - a peaceful use of that technology. Military research often times winds up being used for purposes other than "killing". And I would tell you that military orders for tech actually generates GDP and jobs, unlike fool social programs, which cost money and don't necessarily pay off. That was how Ronald Reagan got us out of the Jimmy Carter "deep recession" - and the benefits and momentum carried right on through the Bill Clinton years - 3 terms and 2 presidents AFTER he was out of office. Reagan did the right thing at the right time, IMHO.

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SemiSteve
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Message Posted: Aug 29, 2014 5:05:55 PM

OK, that was short and sweet. I was hoping for a longer more in-depth article but it was to the point.

A little edgy; but of course I like that kind of thing.

More power to the writer. Somebody needs to be saying those kinds of things.

They make us think.
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SemiSteve
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Message Posted: Aug 29, 2014 4:59:07 PM

Thanks, I75.

This part is right in the beginning. They're calling it like it is:

"For the past 35 years, the American economy has “persistently redistributed rewards away from workers and toward shareholders,” wrote economists Daniel Greenwald and Sydney Ludvigson, of New York University, and Martin Lettau, at the University of California at Berkeley, in a recent paper. They calculated that this trend, not “rising productivity” or technology, is the main reason the stock market has done so well over that time. "

Which calls to mind an interesting observation. We have a lot of people who are very worried and even convinced that we are sliding gradually into socialization. Now correct me if I'm wrong, but in socialization everybody has roughly the same amount of wealth. Certainly far less inequality than a free market which rewards striving harder for more. So if we are getting so close to socialization then how is it possible that wealth distribution is so heavily skewed toward the titans of capitalism? ???

I'll just read on in your link now. Very interesting... Thanks for posting it.
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I75at7AM
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Message Posted: Aug 29, 2014 4:48:45 PM

An Op-Ed in MarketWatch is sure to please Steve:

Labor Day Is A Joke (page1) Labor Day Is A Joke (page 2)

"Let’s just scrap Labor Day, shall we?

After all, if we’re not going to treat the working man or woman with respect in this country, why don’t we just stop pretending?"

Most of the rest of the piece repeats what Steve has been telling us for a long time.
- Poor people pay too much in taxes (sucks to be them)
- Wealthy owners disdain the workers, consider them "labor costs"
- You might work for free (internship) and maybe they will hire you to a low-paying position. They still won't like or respect you.
- Manufacturing jobs get outsourced to nasty hot sweatshops overseas. Low-paying service sector work gets filled by desperate immigrants (while smarter All-American poor people sit back in subsidized luxury and collect bennies)
- But we must let these people into the country. To do otherwise would be Racist !!!

Happy reading.

It must have taken a lifetime of crappy jobs or else a fully-Liberal education to get that jaded.....
I almost feel sorry for the writer. Almost.
I just wonder if he posts under his real name......
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SemiSteve
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Message Posted: Aug 29, 2014 4:06:51 PM

"By your response, and those were your words, I'm not twisting them, you must feel that 1) we have too many weapons and 2) they are too effective. Again, it sounds like you decry our ability to defend ourself. Strawman? Hardly. But a logical interpretation of your words."

No, you didn't rewrite what you quoted. But then you went on to draw conclusions which were of your own origin (everything after: "you must feel that ...") and proceeded to assign that conclusion to me. What you are calling a 'logical interpretation' is anything but. You painted me as an extremist. Here's what you don't get: You don't have to interpret my words. That's where you get in trouble. Here's how to avoid that. Take what I say at face value; Don't re-write it, don't interpret it. Let it be. What I said is what I said. It is in English. It's understandable. Just leave it alone. You don't get to write my posts. I don't get to write yours. You really have a problem with that. You always have; and probably always will. But if you want to improve your ability to debate you will learn to accept what others say as what they mean and stop trying to redefine it.

Can't you see how redefining others' statements is absurd? If you want to write my posts and then respond to them you are having a conversation with yourself.

I'm saying we should have an ample defense. What we have is too much. We're wasting money on stuff we don't need and will never use. And we are wasting the efforts of smart intelligent creative minds coming up with too much destructive devices. Then we spread 'em all over the world and act so surprised when there is so much war. Funny how when you ship a load of hammers somewhere all of a sudden every problem there begins to look like a nail.

"You should be THANKFUL that your fellow Americans are out there designing new and better military systems to outwit and outgun those of our enemies who would seek to do us harm."

Didn't say I wasn't. There you go putting words in my mouth. Again.
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SemiSteve
Champion Author Tampa

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Message Posted: Aug 29, 2014 2:09:55 PM

AC-302: "you decry military hardware orders"

I decry excessive military orders.

"you failed to acknowledge ... {defense spending] provide[s] good paying middle class jobs right here at home."

OK, I acknowledge such. Yes, there is plenty of money to be made building weapons. But does that mean the more weapons the better with no limit? Is there some point where we can say we have enough? And if we go beyond that point is it then too much? I have never thought of you as an extreme kind of a guy, AC-302, so where do you draw the line on this? Is there such a point, or should a society deny itself all other endeavors so that every last cent or effort can be put toward military spending? Obviously we are not at that level, but what I am asking is what do you think the ideal level is? And if you can attach a figure or reference to it do you think we are there? And if not, are we spending too much or should we spend more to get to that ideal level?

Let's look at where we are: The USA spends more on weapons than the next TEN NATIONS COMBINED. Over A THIRD of all military spending worldwide is done by the USA. That means the USA spends one third+, and all the other nations in the world combined make up the other almost two thirds.

If it can be determined that we actually are over-spending on destructive devices, then imagine how much better off we could be if we devoted our efforts to peaceful endeavors. We could modernize power production and infrastructure, education, medicine, space exploration, communications, weather and climate research, forward science, find a better way to address poverty. All of that can be done without military spending.

And just because we have some great things that resulted from military build-ups, does not mean that is the only way to achieve advances. Science has developed far more in peaceful commercial pursuits than it ever did trying to blow people up.

In a way this whole enchilada can be boiled down to this:

Would you prefer that we try to be primarily destructive or constructive?

Should we build things or blow them up?

Personally, I favor building things.

There are plenty of good jobs building things, and these are jobs that people can feel good about, rather than wondering what terror they are helping to inflict on other people. Innocent civilians die in every war. If you helped to build the weapons that did that, or invested in the companies which did, then part of that blood is on your hands. Eeew.
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AC-302
Champion Author Los Angeles

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Message Posted: Aug 29, 2014 1:14:46 PM

SemiSteve said: "The reality is that most who oppose excessive military spending, including myself, want appropriate levels for ample defense without overkill and waste."

but SemiSteve also said in his previous post: "Oh, there's a brilliant game plan. Let's get rich by arming the world with ever more effective killing machines."

and then his most recent response said: "That's you knocking the stuffing out of your own straw man."

and then he said: "After you're done thrashing your straw man that it has to be a choice between overKILL armed-to-the-teeth weapons, weapons, weapons, or no defense at all, perhaps you'd like to try to grasp the concept of stopping after we have enough weapons.."

--Ahh.. where to begin? Steve, I think you managed to knock the stuffing out of your own argument right there. It looks like game, set and match to the AC.

But to your points directly, what EXACTLY is "appropriate spending"?

Also, what ideas ought we to research or not? Do you not think we employ technology experts to evaluate these ideas and try to figure out which ones will or will not work? The government will provide some research money to determine feasibility, but only to a degree. And the money is provided in smaller stages, not millions for boondoggles - you know, like Solyndra? And again, you decry military hardware orders. But what you failed to acknowledge is that 1) these programs provide good paying middle class jobs right here at home and 2) the spinoffs from military production and research are useful in civilian life, as well. GPS is a prime example, but others exist. Modern computers are the result of military research, too.

But let's get back to the argument at hand - you decry being "armed to the teeth". Great. So how much is "enough" in your mind, versus how much is "too much"? And what about when the next war or conflict breaks out? Don't we need a stockpile of hardware to deploy in case of emergency? And what about supplying our allies? And you complained about "arming the world with more effective killing machines." (your words, not a paraphrase - it's your complaint in your own words) Isn't that part of what it's about? In your opinion, should we go back to sticks, spears and slingshots? And should we allow our potential enemies to get the better of us? Is "knocking our warmaking capability down a peg" one of your aims also? And if one of our allies has a perceived "need" for, say, MRAP vehicles, Tanks or fighter jets, why wouldn't we sell to them for them to meet what they feel is their need?

By your response, and those were your words, I'm not twisting them, you must feel that 1) we have too many weapons and 2) they are too effective. Again, it sounds like you decry our ability to defend ourself. Strawman? Hardly. But a logical interpretation of your words.

You should be THANKFUL that your fellow Americans are out there designing new and better military systems to outwit and outgun those of our enemies who would seek to do us harm. Deterrence is a HUGE advantage, and one HUGE reason why we don't get attacked, except by terrorist scum who can only attack us surreptitiously. The countries that sponsor terrorists would never dare to attack us 'head on'. We'd annihilate them.

I'll leave you with a quote: "If you want peace, prepare for war" - Cicero.
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teacher_tim
Champion Author Maryland

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Message Posted: Aug 29, 2014 12:40:55 PM

"Why be nice to workers, or care about them when there's more money in treating them like dirt? That's the way greed thinks."

Why be nice to workers, or care about them? Because it's good business to take care of your workers so they stay and you don't spend all your profits hiring and training replacements.

When there's more money in treating them like dirt, it is because there is little investment needed in hiring or training them and consequently, there is little skill needed to accomplish the task and the job usually earns minimum wage.

The employees in such places often have little interest in bettering themselves or in the welfare of the company and do only the minimal work to stay employed, if that. They then complain about being mistreated and how they're not paid enough and should be naking $15 an hour for minimal effort on their part. That's also the way greed thinks [from the workers perspective].

There are always at least three ways to look at a situation, yours, mine and the truth.
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SemiSteve
Champion Author Tampa

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Message Posted: Aug 29, 2014 12:04:59 PM

Why be nice to workers, or care about them when there's more money in treating them like dirt? That's the way greed thinks.

Once the greedy capitalist dismisses compassion and empathy it is more profitable to think of workers not as people or fellow human beings deserving of respect but as beasts of burden, animals, to be overworked and burnt out, used up, and then tossed aside like so much garbage.

Then just get more! Since there is an ample supply just desparate enough to accept the brutal conditions the greedy capitalist would never in a million years want to perform himself making money the greedy way is easy.

They just have to be cold enough to not care about people.

IGMTHWY

I Got Mine; The Hell With You!
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MarkJames
Champion Author Albany

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Message Posted: Aug 29, 2014 10:42:39 AM

Yesterday I counted over 20 signs in 2 counties placed by temp staff agencies advertising warehouse worker jobs.

Few last long at these jobs due to the low pay, poor working conditions, hours/days/shifts and tough labor standards.

Many of these jobs have a starting pay range from $9 to $11 per hour.

To attract and keep local workers and out of area commuters they'd have to start in the $15 plus per hour range like Walmart, Target etc.
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SemiSteve
Champion Author Tampa

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Message Posted: Aug 29, 2014 7:12:28 AM

Ac-302, your strawman is that you are making up a fantasy about opposition to excessive military spending wanting no spending at all. That is not the case, but since you are arguing against it, this straw man of a notion which you have contrived, you have imagined an opposition which you can sound all righteous and 'patriotic' putting down. That's you knocking the stuffing out of your own straw man.

The reality is that most who oppose excessive military spending, including myself, want appropriate levels for ample defense without overkill and waste.
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mudtoe
Champion Author Cincinnati

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Message Posted: Aug 28, 2014 9:18:34 PM

SS: "Capitalism these days is more about eliminating work than rewarding it."


It never was about either. It was and is about creating or producing something that someone else is willing to buy or barter for from you. Work is simply what you have to do to accomplish that in most cases. It's not an end in and of itself.

Of course I understand your confusion, being a leftist. Leftists believe that entrepreneurs and their businesses exist for the sole purpose of paying taxes to government and hiring and paying workers so that those workers can also pay taxes to government. Sorry to burst your bubble, but that's not what capitalism is all about. You are confusing capitalism with socialism and communism where the purpose of the citizenry and their labors is to serve government and those who run it.


mudtoe
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AC-302
Champion Author Los Angeles

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Message Posted: Aug 28, 2014 2:22:32 PM

SemiSteve, complaining again, said: "Oh, there's a brilliant game plan. Let's get rich by arming the world with ever more effective killing machines. What could possibly go wrong? After you're done thrashing your straw man..."

--Once again, SemiSteve has no obvious answer other than "killing machines" and "strawman! Strawman!" What this tells me is that you have ZERO argument against what I've said, except emotion.

We have a former lawyer here on the radio named Larry Elder. He has a great radio program here on 790AM. Anyway, Mr. Elder says that when he was a lawyer he was told: "If the facts are on your side, pound on the facts.. if emotion is on your side, pound on emotion.. if neither is on your side, pound on the table!" Well, guess what, Steve? You're pounding on the table.. again.

Please explain why you consider a country's sovereignty and defense to be somehow immoral or wrong?

You know, we tried that "peace dividend" crap during Bill Clinton's tenure in office. He cut dozens of military programs, and a whole lot of middle class people innovating a whole lot of technologies got laid off. Then guess what? Our enemies started to innovate technologies, and our technologies started to lag behind. Sad, isn't it? We compromised our defense capabilities so that liberals could "feel good". Let me tell you something - I consider defense of your and my freedom to be of utmost importance. And if you think so little of your freedom of thought, then perhaps you need to move to Russia or North Korea or Bhutan or even into ISIL territory to really understand the precious gift you have been given, simply for having had the lucky accident of being born in this great country. I see nothing wrong with defense articles being made or sold. I see nothing wrong with helping countries to have the same freedom of thought and choice that we maintain through a vigilant defense. And if that vigilant defense includes planning and executing the manufacture of the next upgrade of weapons to better and better technologies, so be it.
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SemiSteve
Champion Author Tampa

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Message Posted: Aug 28, 2014 1:35:16 PM

If a system only 'works' for the few; then it can not be said to 'work' for the whole of society.

Therefore, capitalism does not seem to be working.

And how could it work?

Capitalism these days is more about eliminating work than rewarding it.
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mudtoe
Champion Author Cincinnati

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Message Posted: Aug 28, 2014 1:25:07 PM

AC: "If conditions are bad, and they can't get people for that wage, then they'll need to pay higher wages and offer benefits. Then again, they may have to rely on more automation to get the production rates they're looking for."


Exactly! It's called capitalism and freedom, and it works every time it's tried. That's why the left hates it so much.



mudtoe
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SemiSteve
Champion Author Tampa

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Message Posted: Aug 28, 2014 12:38:54 PM

AC-302: " military hardware is one of the few bright spots for the US with respect to international trade."

Oh, there's a brilliant game plan. Let's get rich by arming the world with ever more effective killing machines. What could possibly go wrong?

After you're done thrashing your straw man that it has to be a choice between overKILL armed-to-the-teeth weapons, weapons, weapons, or no defense at all, perhaps you'd like to try to grasp the concept of stopping after we have enough weapons for an ample defense and not letting contractors run our federal debt through the roof.

And perhaps if we did build a few more garden hoses instead of millions of boondoggle over-priced unneeded jet fighters then maybe more Americans could plant more 'Peace Gardens' (a take-off on the Victory Gardens of WWII celebrating peace instead of destruction) to grow healthy food instead of eating the heart-attack-on-a-bun junk food from the 'burger thing from the cholesterol? lagoon.'

***

"you don't HAVE to work there." [BeZon]

Well apparently many feel that they do. The Workampers have a minimalist lifestyle in which they drive around old beat-up campers and pay for their nomadic wanderings by interrupting their limited freedom to subject themselves to the absolutely brutal work conditions described above. They probably don't get much slack when they do get booted out the door after the crunch, either. Since $10-12 per hour doesn't go far, and campers EAT gas, they probably move along to pick tobacco or other crops, or do whatever tough demanding physical seasonal work they can find. These people are probably one cracked block away from being homeless and a million miles away from the American dream.

If you can't cut it on that level then the likes of greedy big corporatists like BeZon have no use for you. Wherever they go they are not even considered people by their employers. PEOPLE have personal needs. HUMAN employers understand this; often making adjustments in business to accommodate reasonable treatment which would lead to them being allowed to enjoy Justice, domestic Tranquility, and improve their own part of the general Welfare. Instead, they are treated like rented industrial machinery. They are treated as if they have no personal needs what-so-ever. No health? No pay. Not strong enough to work? Get out of the way. Sick child? IGMTHWY.

Win/lose philosophy can be highly profitable but there's no way to get the stink off of it enough to call it moral, good, proper, admirable, OK or acceptable to anybody with a heart.
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AC-302
Champion Author Los Angeles

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Message Posted: Aug 28, 2014 10:20:16 AM

I don't eat there too often, but I have to admit, the Whopper at BK is my favorite of all the fast food burgers by a long shot. The fries are good there, too. I have a pal who also likes it, and suspects they use a bit of MSG - it tastes to good NOT to have MSG in it!
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AC-302
Champion Author Los Angeles

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Message Posted: Aug 28, 2014 10:16:16 AM

SemiSteve said: "BeZon eats people up and spits them out as soon as they burn out. Then he gets more. Few can last in such brutal zero future demeaning work. He is a tribute to capitalizing on desperation."

--As others have pointed out, you don't HAVE to work there. Slavery was made illegal in 1865 by Lincoln, as I recall. And understand that if conditions are that bad, nobody but nobody will want to work there. All I can say about metal detectors is that they must have had some "shrinkage" that the MD helps curb. Now, I can just hear you saying: "so pay your workers more." And that may have to happen. If conditions are bad, and they can't get people for that wage, then they'll need to pay higher wages and offer benefits. Then again, they may have to rely on more automation to get the production rates they're looking for.

SemiSteve also said: "Buffet DOES have it both ways. He can SAY the rich should pay higher taxes and he can put HIS MONEY into a company that takes advantage of lower foreign taxes in a nation whose economy is NOT strangled by an out-of-control Military Industrial Complex that has produced so much extra war weaponry that our hand-me-down police forces are now resembling sophisticated third world armies."

--Buffet is one of the biggest hypocrites in America. He is against paying taxes for himself and his business, but he thinks that CA should dump "prop 13" - that has a moratorium on property tax increases and prevents seniors and others from losing their homes to politicians that may want to "gentrify" a neighborhood, and kick the seniors out to 'redevelop'. And further than that, you decry our "military industrial complex." And I get why - you probably think we ought to be making garden hoses, rather than satellites, jet fighters or M-4 automatic rifles. And that's great. But what you fail to understand is that jobs in the defense industry are those "good" manufacturing jobs that are sought after. Defense employs people who innovate and make useful products. Many of those innovations actually make it to civilian markets. For example - dehydrated foods, GPS and my personal favorite - Tang! Innovation and support are middle class jobs for educated engineers and scientists. And the assembly trades are skilled and semi-skilled trades for those who are HS graduates, not necessarily college grads. But even some of them are involved. So before you crap on the "military industrial complex", at least understand very carefully what you are carping and groaning about. And also understand that military hardware is one of the few bright spots for the US with respect to international trade. Along with chemicals, it's a definite trade surplus for us and helps balance out our trade deficit.
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Hemond
Champion Author Providence

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Message Posted: Aug 28, 2014 9:58:12 AM

Although I rarely patronize BKs, I think its time to support them in this controversy by getting a Whopper and fries today.
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I75at7AM
Champion Author Dayton

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Message Posted: Aug 28, 2014 9:21:24 AM

Now Steve, stop telling such a whopper!
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SemiSteve
Champion Author Tampa

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Message Posted: Aug 28, 2014 9:10:44 AM

For a short while the tendency to turn all topics into 'bash Obama' has been replaced by turning all topics into burger king.
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MarkJames
Champion Author Albany

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Message Posted: Aug 28, 2014 8:07:13 AM

<<You mean Burger King is moving all of it's McDeath stores out of the country?>>Unfortunately no.

The demand for slow death fast foods, processed foods, junk foods, sugary beverages, speed and convenience will only increase.

If one fast food joint or convenience store closes, 1 or 2 more will open or pick up the slack.
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I75at7AM
Champion Author Dayton

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Message Posted: Aug 27, 2014 2:07:56 PM

Sour grapes, or maybe a nice Pretzel Logic. With honey-mustard sauce. Just wow.
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Troller_Diesel
Champion Author Denver

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Message Posted: Aug 27, 2014 1:20:04 PM

mudtoe, now that's FUNNY! LOL!

You win the internet for the day!

Hey, mudtoe, you hear about this one? Apparently, conservatives are much better at using the internet to spread their ideology, and reply to errors and propaganda by the leftstream media.

Know why? Libs still haven't figure out how to turn their computers on!

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mudtoe
Champion Author Cincinnati

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Message Posted: Aug 27, 2014 1:02:42 PM

SS: "You mean Burger King is moving all of it's McDeath stores out of the country?"


Why don't you visit a McDeath store and order a heaping helping of sour grapes?



mudtoe
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SemiSteve
Champion Author Tampa

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Message Posted: Aug 27, 2014 12:20:22 PM

All WHAT Americans whose jobs are moving to Canada?

You mean Burger King is moving all of it's McDeath stores out of the country?

Buffet DOES have it both ways. He can SAY the rich should pay higher taxes and he can put HIS MONEY into a company that takes advantage of lower foreign taxes in a nation whose economy is NOT strangled by an out-of-control Military Industrial Complex that has produced so much extra war weaponry that our hand-me-down police forces are now resembling sophisticated third world armies.
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teacher_tim
Champion Author Maryland

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Message Posted: Aug 27, 2014 12:10:48 PM

Yup, just ask Warren Buffett. You can't have it both ways, Steve. What will happen to all the Americans whose jobs will move to Canada?
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