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Location: Germany

A proud member of the reality based commentosphere since 2000. You can find my two Eurocent mainly at liberal and centrist discussion threads, but also at some other surprising places. Also tweeting now, as user "graygoods".

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Three sentences that are worth remembering

As voiced in a posting at the A-Blog recently. Ladies and Gentlemen, here's John Aravosis:

The President is supposed to help further your ideals, not take the place of them. So it's not disloyal to try to hold the President accountable to his promises. In fact, I'd argue that you're being disloyal to yourself, to your own principles, and to the entire reason you got into politics in the first place, when you don't.

These are important sentences, a necessary reminder to distinguish between the means and the goals! People should print these and put them into a frame on their wall. Kudos to John!

Friday, September 17, 2010

"We are just not getting applicants." Boohoohoo!

I'm so sick and tired of that lame ole apology that we see making the press every other day, here in Germany, too. It's blame the victim all over again. Really, how come there can be a lack of applicants at a time of high unemployment? Obviously, it has to be a logistical problem, the people are there, but they don't have what the industry wants. And that is the "right" qualification and up-to-date experience! But that's NOT the people's fault.

Qualification is expensive, and at a time when folks barely manage to make ends meet, it's VERY difficult to "invest in yourself". The costs of training are prohibitive, especially in the technological sector. And some courses aren't even open to private customers. That didn't use to be a problem in better times, when the companies themselves invested in their people. But that has changed, the horrible focus on quarterly profits has ruined any long term planning, and it's obvious that qualifiying your own staff is an investment that will reduce your immediate profits and only bear fruit in the future! That's not helping the managers to get their big bonusses now, so, generally, it isn't done anymore.

Instead, the industry BURNS their human resources! Employees have become throwaway items. Industry wants them young and with the most recent qualification. They exploit them for some years, at an unsustainable pace that leads to burn outs, health problems, failed relationships, marriages and families, and that doesn't leave time to renew qualifications (which the companies don't want to pay for anyway). And once the efficiency of that worker is shrinking, he/she will be fired, and the company will look for the next fresh face instead. The fired folks, with their obsolete qualification, don't have much chances on the job market, it's all downhill for them. And once their job experience is older than one year, it becomes almost impossible to find a position in their old field. They will end up in McJobs instead.

Of course, people aren't totally dumb, and they react on all the stories they hear about these practices. Less and less are willing to go into a profession where they would be only cannon fodder for the industry. And that's when the companies start screaming "there aren't any applicants!". Well, they're lying, of course, there are applicants, but they are older and need a refreshing of their knowledge. The companies don't want that, too costly, so they prefer to wait for the young fool fresh from university to become their next victim.

It's high time this hypocrisy and stinginess becomes exposed! And the media shouldn't fall for the umpteenth show of crocodile tears about "missing applicants" anymore. There should be hard hitting journalism that questions the statements and demands to see the applications. And that doesn't let the companies get away with excuses like "that guy is too old" or "this engineer lacks the qualification in XYZ". Really, what does age have to do with it (that's pure discrimination, btw), and if the manager has time to wait for MONTHS for the "right" applicant to show up, what's the effing problem in hiring the next best guy and sending them to training for some weeks?

Really, why doesn't the media finally pick up this topic, and exposes the sham? This would be a sure nomination for the next Pulitzer for every good journalist!

(based on a comment to a story at OpenLeft)

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Friday, September 10, 2010

Cuba, Reforms, and Communism in General

A Rawstory report about recent critical statements about communism by none other than Fidel Castro himself inevitably led to many comments about the practical value of communism in the modern world. One commenter, LeftyDude, voiced an opinion that is common among many left wingers:
"There is no good reason communism can't thrive, in principle."

Well, as Radio Yerevan would say: "In principle, yes. However, some small problems have turned up in adjusting the human nature to the demands of the theory. But these will certainly be corrected by the next five year plan!" So, sure, in theory, there is also no good reason people can't be totally unselfish and willing to subordinate their own wishes to the larger interests of society. In practice, those people don't exist (or, at least, they are seldom exceptions of the rule). And that's why communism is a nice theory, but not a system that works in the real world. As countless examples have proven, each and every time communism failed because the power ambitions and the greed of people tore the thin fabric of solidarity apart, resulting in a state where some were more equal than others and where the unfulfilled wishes of the majority constantly provided a centrifugal force that had to be held in reign with overbearing "security" forces. In short, with real life people, communism simply isn't a stable base for a nation!

But still, among all those unsatisfying and often horrible precedents, Cuba probably is the most positive one. And the achievements of the revolution, measurable in countless statistics that show the Cubans in several important areas ahead of their more capitalist neighbors, should not be belittled. Under the constraints of their system, it's impressive what those people on their small island without any natural resources of high value have achieved! Especially when you consider how difficult it must have been to be the target of an unfair blockade by the US for decades. Here's hoping that the Cubans will manage to carefully reform their nation into a socialist democracy that allows more enterprise and entrepreneurship without giving away the levers of power to big money. It will be a balancing act, for sure, and the Chinese example shows that "reforms" can easily result in combining only the worst aspects of communism and capitalism. But if anyone can manage to successfully accomplish this difficult synthesis, it's certainly the people on that small island in the Caribbean. !Viva Cuba Libre!

(based on a comment at Rawstory)

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Thursday, September 09, 2010

Bob Creamer ain't wrong, but he ain't right, either.

A blog post by Mike Lux at OpenLeft mentioned this story by Bob Creamer at the HuffPo, where that "political consultant" tries to make a happy face about the Dem chances in the upcoming election. As I see it, it's simply whistling in a storm in a very dark and dangerous forest. It's not that Creamer doesn't produce some nice tunes, it's simply that it's not good enough in the deafening cacophony of alarms sounding at every corner!

Like that effing ole fool Deeds, Creamer essentially argues that the rethugs are even worse. But we already know this campaign strategy doesn't work! If nothing changes, and soon, the election will be decided by right wing nutcases running to the polls and Dems and left leaning independents staying at home. And nothing that Creamer writes gives any hope that this won't happen.

Just look at his lame points: 1) and 2) suffer from still making sense if you exchange "Republican" for "Democrat" in them. Both parties are guilty, and neither one can score in this regard! The problem with 3) is that the Dem party simply doesn't stand for "progressive-Democratic values" nowadays. So, by their own fault, this won't help conservative and centrist Dems in any way, and polls show they are most vulnerable.

The issue with 4) is that voters don't see that much difference between GOP and Dem candidates in many races. The new ombudsman of the NYT, who voted for both Obama and Scott Brown, is a good example of this confused mindset. Also, there is a strong anti-incumbent mood right now, and since the Dems have more incumbents, that works against them.

We can totally forget about 5), there are no facts supporting this prophecy. This simply is wishful thinking. And the same goes for 6), there's no evidence that "Democratic Campaigns will be better organized and in many cases have more resources". No, Dem campaigns suffer from a serious depression among the activists who do most of the laborious footwork, while on the right side, the supporters are on fire because they feel the trend is working for them. Just remember the huge participation, and the impressive show of organisation, at the Beck rally! And don't forget that the rules of the game have changed, the Supremes allowed big money to weigh in on the elections now, and the fat cats will exploit that opportunity big time! This will make it hard for Dems to compete financially.

So, sry, but imho Bob Creamer is delusional. This kind of stomping for the party by downplaying clear and present dangers won't work. Actually, it only makes matters worse when Dem Congressmen are led to believe they can still get away from destruction without decisive actions of their own! But the reality is, without a determined effort at passing hugely popular programs now, at the very last minute, many Dems will be toast in November. And deservedly so.

Bad policies -> enthusiasm gap -> low turnout. Not only political consultants, but everybody should be able to see that this is a recipe for disaster! And if the Dems have nothing better to offer, they will end up with that rotten egg on their faces.

(based on a comment at OpenLeft)

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