17 December 2008

Free choice with fries...

If anyone doubted the Labor Agenda and its potential negative impact on our economy, you need do nothing more than read Andy Stern's anti-McDonald's missive.  McDonald's is a large company which provides solid entry level jobs, decent benefits and flexible working arrangements for its employees.  No one is forced to work there - there are a host of entry level positions available - not as many with flexible hours though.  McDonald's offers management training, ownership opportunities and contributes of strong social programs across the country.  They are many of our first experiences of work. 
What the SEIU is trying to do is bully McDonalds employees into becoming a member of their union.  The disparity of CEO pay to base employee compensation is a matter for a responsible compensation board and the 770x multiple is misleading as it takes into account stock options (which may be worth zero at any given moment).   McDonald's provides simple food (one can make any case about nutritional value - it's about OUR choices) that people want.  I would be very interested to know exactly what benefits SEIU would offer organized members.  It was partly labor's intransigence which led the United States automobile industry, textile industry, steel industry and electronics industry overseas. 
Will their efforts cripple McDonald's as well?

From: Michael Whitney-SEIU.org [mailto:info@seiu.org]
Sent: Wednesday, December 17, 2008 2:47 PM
Subject: Go to McDonald's tomorrow at noon

McScrooged: Talk To McDonalds Employees Dear,

Last week we told you that McDonald's wasn't lovin' free choice at work. Several thousand of you stood up and told the company what you think about their efforts to stop their employees' free choice.

Now we're kicking our campaign into high gear. We want to speak directly with McDonald's employees about what it's like to work for a CEO who is paid 770 times what his workers earn, leaving working families with barely enough to afford the "Dollar Menu."

We're organizing events at McDonald's locations around the country for TOMORROW at NOON. Can you take an hour tomorrow to go to your local McDonald's to educate McDonald's employees about free choice?

Click here to find an event at a McDonald's near you and RSVP now.

If you can't find an event near you, you can plan your own - it's easy, quick, and we provide all the materials you need.

According to published reports, the fast food giant is organizing its store owners to oppose the Employee Free Choice Act. McDonald's has reportedly even formed an "internal response team...to actively participate in the opposition to the Employee Free Choice Act."

The Employee Free Choice Act gives workers the free choice to join unions so they can bargain for better wages, benefits, and retirement security. But it's apparent that McDonald's doesn't want its employees to see any of that.

It's time for McDonald's to give workers more of the wealth they help create, and it's up to us to tell them how to do so.

Find or plan an event at a McDonald's near you TOMORROW at NOON to tell employees why they need free choice at work. Click here to RSVP.

Thank you for your support of McDonald's employees and workers everywhere.

In Solidarity,

Michael Whitney
Change that Works

1800 Massachusetts Ave NW, Washington, DC 20036

10 December 2008

Protect your Visa card online...

My father will be 80 years old this year.  He was born in 1929, prior to the stock market crash.  He has lived through an extraordinary life and continues to do so.  I can truly say that he is someone whom I admire deeply and would list as my top hero.  It is, perhaps, with age that we appreciate the contribution of our parents to who we are.  One thing I admire about my father is his ability to connect with people.  He carries with him some surprising biases, but he maintains a courtesy and civility to everyone which (I think) truly reflects his feelings.  This courtesy, alas, also extends to the internet. 
A couple of years ago we set him up with a computer.  He is interested in genealogy and we though this may be a good way to get him moving on his projects.  Like me, my dad has a variety of interests and often starts projects with good intentions, only to see them idle on a shelf.  Family history has remained a constant, if inconsistent, pursuit.  In his introduction to the internet, he has met every Nigerian bank officer, deposed dictator, European heiress and other e-mail persona hucksters and con artists care to offer.  I am not sure he has a skeptical bone in his body.  Worse, these e-mails are becoming more sophisticated.  Social engineering techniques and phishing sites are creating more compelling messages designed to part us from our identity, cash or both!  
The message below arrived in my inbox today and I though of dad.  Aside from the horrible English, the message appears legitimate - save that any contact from your Visa card would have at least two or three personal identifiers.  My dad is not alone, there are a host of individuals on the net who - with complete innocence - respond to suspicious e-mails and enter far too much information on websites.  Who we are is one of the last elements that remains protected.  Even the Lifelock CEO, who promotes his program by using his social security number, has found himself the victim of fraud and deceit.

From: VerifiedbyVisa [mailto:protect@protectvisa.com]
Sent: Wednesday, December 10, 2008 2:33 AM
To: undisclosed-recipients
Subject: Protect your Visa card online with a personal password
Importance: High

Protect your Visa card online with a personal password


Create an additional password to protect your existing card for online purchases

We are proud to announce that Visa Europe in association with all European and U.S. banks launch a new campaign against online fraud and reward all participants with a 50,00 Euro bonus just for enroll and secure your card. Your personal bonus code is VISA-884AM-4423-2008 ( after you use the code please delete the email or keep it private, conform our privacy  and policy you cannot use your code twice, for more info please visit our Privacy and Policy )

Please enroll now by clinking the Global Visa Site select your country and follow the easy steps for a better security on your card.


    Do not be the next victim and fight with us against credit card fraud. 

  • The overwhelming amount of deception and trickery on the web is not simply confined to attempts to steal your identity.  A host of individuals who promote their own agenda or worldview make their home in the ether, complete with seemingly authentic endorsements, credentials and "facts".  Most recently, Deepak Chopra quoted Wikipedia for a count of civilians killed in the Iraq war.  Never mind that this figure is hotly debated by expert agencies, to quote Wikipedia is akin to saying;
    "I heard it from my cousin's, brother-in-law's step sister."   
    There is a lot of good research and information on Wikipedia, but all of it must be validated and no one will take a Wikipedia reference as a valid source.  No matter your cause, you can find support on the web.  Denizens of Lemuria among us, Chemtrails, Illuminati control of the banking system, suppression of real news (Ken McCarthy's BrasscheckTV is a purveyor of such bunk), anti-Vaccination / Autism adherents (Jenny McCarthy is a dedicated mom and a passable actress - but she is no scientist), and the list goes on forever.  In fact, take this challenge.  Make something up.  Google it.  I would be willing to bet that your neophyte idea is on the web - even if only in satirical form. 
    Trouble is, like these compelling e-mails, it takes time, energy and a skeptical approach to sort the truth from the lies.  Most people either don't care, don't have the time or skills to dig a little deeper.  Do you read all the terms on that credit card application you just filled out?  Do you realize the introductory rate is null and void if you are more than 15 days late on a payment?  Do you know the new rate will be the maximum allowed by law, sometimes as high as 31% APR? 
    Read the fine print.
    Check the sources.
    Dig a little deeper.
    Know the bias.

    02 December 2008


    Famed author and thinker Sixpack Chopstix, also known as Deepak Chopra, has been featured on a number of television shows (including CNN and Larry King) saying that the attacks in Mumbai are the product of America's war on terror.  To this I politely offer to Mr. Chopra, you are out of your mind.  The tension between India's minority Muslims and their Hindu cohabitants has been simmering since prior to America's existence.  This greatest divide crystallized in the separation of Pakistan and India and the battle over Kashmir.  The brutal attacks were not against American interests, only icons of Indian prosperity.  Hotels, train stations, a hospital and other "quality of life" targets.  These are classic soft targets easily placed at risk by even the smallest group of attackers.  Think about how American schools "lock down" every time there is an armed crime in their vicinity.
    Truth is, I like Deepak.  I like his philosophy and his beautiful ability to convey complex ideas.  I have heard him speak in person several times and own a couple of his books, even getting a few autographed.  Most of what he offers is "quantum flapdoodle", a coined phrase courtesy of Richard Feynman.  But I take it metaphorically.  Deepak may believe in all the things he says and writes, but I view his work as a message that we are all interdependent in this world.  Connected in our lives here on spaceship Earth. 
    The assault on Mumbai is a perfect example.  This was an attack by the ignorant and hateful on all that humanity hopes to achieve.  India may still be a terrifically poor nation, but it has a spirit and vitality to it unmatched on the planet.  It is a nation struggling to get better.  The terrorism of the past few days was designed to throw it back to a darker period of caste segregation, religious persecution and intolerance.  For those readers who subscribe to a post-modernist, relativist view of our world, I ask this question.  What, exactly, was the grievance of these attackers?  They left no note, no manifesto of concerns and to date no one has claimed responsibility.  Even the Muslim Council of India has asked that their bodies not be buried - in recognition of their heinous crime. 
    There is evil in the world.  It is bred in fear, ignorance and intolerance.  It feeds upon hateful ideology and is spread by gullible people willing to carry a satchel charge into a hospital or an automatic weapon into a train station.  It must be met with defiance and determination.  It can be co-opted but it must be crushed.