Inured To Work

March 20, 2018

In his final year in office Governor John Kasich has befuddled political news aficionados by actively promoting the consolidation of Ohio’s Department of Education with the Governor’s Office of Workforce Training (House Bill 512). He has denigrated the independence of the Education Department and called for control of education to be within the purview of the governor. Since he is in his final year, and his children are likewise in the last of their K-12 education, what is the intention or rationale behind such an aggressive position? Adrian Ma, reporting for WOSU, headlined Ohio School Board Opposes Education Consolidation Bill (3-14-18). “Members of the Ohio Board of Education [which the Governor dissed in his promotion] have approved a resolution speaking out against a bill being considered in the General Assembly.” “Both the Ohio Education Association (OEA) and the Ohio Federation of Teachers (OFT) released statements in opposition to the bill Wednesday.” “Speaking to the Board of Education, OEA Vice President Scott DiMauro said even though the bill’s intent is to consolidate to improve collaboration between the agencies, but K-12 officials have to collaborate with more than just higher education and workforce development. DiMauro said they also have to work with local districts, the state Medicaid office, mental healthcare and addiction specialists and many more.” 3-19-18 The Plain Dealer’s Patrick O’Donnell headlined Computers are now grading essays on Ohio’s state tests. “No, not just all those fill-in-the bubble multiple choice questions. The longer answers and essays too. After Ohio started using American Institutes for Research in 2015 to provide and score state tests, Artificial Intelligence (AI) programs have increasingly taken over grading. Computers are now scoring the entire test for about 75 percent of Ohio students, State Superintendent Paolo DeMaria and state testing official Brian Roget told the state school board recently. The other 25 percent are scored by people to help verify the computer’s work.” “According to the department, some students copied large portions of the questions or of the passages that they had to read into their answers.  That led the computer to give them zeroes on the question – either as apparent plagiarism or simply because the student offered little original thought in the answer. That’s a sticky point because the tests ask students to show what parts of the passage led them to their answer.” “The most clear guidance so far: An update this month of all the ways students can earn a zero on a question. “A score of zero also is earned when there is a significant amount of text copied directly from the prompt and/or reading passage, with little to no original writing from the student,” that new guide states. “Copying limited text from the prompt is allowable but, as a rule, at least 30 percent of a response needs to be original to demonstrate understanding and earn points.”” Analysis can’t help but ask how the AI program determines writing to be original (since AI is based on data in/data out, that is past examples of “writing” determine the algorithm)? Wiki gives “In mathematics and computer science, an algorithm is an unambiguous specification of how to solve a class of problems.” Fair or unfair? We’ve all become captive to algorithm solving our problems, taken this to be “naturally” equitable. Is it? Speaking with Harry Shearer (Le Show, 11-26-17) Cathy O’Neil, author of Weapons Of Math Destruction: How Big Data Increases Inequality And Threatens Democracy, explained how they are really rather biased, depending on how the plan is put together. Analysis would liken this to be analogous to routing a road map to a given destination by various sources – AAA, Google, Travel and Tourism Bureau, etc. Speaking with Guy Raz on the TED Radio Hour (1-26-18) she elaborated: “I mean, look – it’s really important to understand the difference between accuracy and fairness. So it used to be that life insurance companies made black men pay more for life insurance than white men simply because they were going to die sooner. That lasted for a long time before the regulators in question were like – wait a second – that’s racist. And it’s racist because we have to ask the question why. Why are black men living less than white men? And is that their fault that they should take responsibility for and they should pay for, or is that a problem that society itself should take on and fix? So it wasn’t an inaccurate fact that black men lived less time. But the question was, how should we deal with that? And that’s a question of fairness, and it’s a question that we all have to grapple with together. And many of these questions are of that nature. So yes, it’s true that people who live in this ZIP code are more likely to default on their debt. Does that mean we don’t loan them any money, or do we make a rule that people of this age who have a job, who finish college or whatever – what do we decide is fair? And that’s a really hard question. Data science has done nothing to address that question.” “This is Roger Ailes. He founded Fox News in 1996. More than 20 women complained about sexual harassment. They said they weren’t allowed to succeed at Fox News. He was ousted last year, but we’ve seen recently that the problems have persisted. That begs the question, what should Fox News do to turn over another leaf? Well, what if they replaced their hiring process with a machine learning algorithm? That sounds good. Right? Think about it. The data – what would the data be? A reasonable choice would be the last 21 years of applications to Fox News – reasonable. What about the definition of success? Reasonable choice would be – well, who’s successful at Fox News? I guess someone who, say, stayed there for four years and was promoted at least once – sounds reasonable. And then the algorithm would be trained. It would be trained to look for people to learn what led to success. What kind of applications historically led to success by that definition? Now think about what would happen if we applied that to a current pool of applicants. It would filter out women because they do not look like people who were successful in the past. Algorithms don’t make things fair if you just blithely, blindly apply algorithms. They don’t make things fair. They repeat our past practices, our patterns. They automate the status quo. That would be great if we had a perfect world, but we don’t. And I’ll add that most companies don’t have embarrassing lawsuits. But the data scientists in those companies are told to follow the data, to focus on accuracy. Think about what that means. Because we all have bias, it means they could be codifying sexism or any other kind of bigotry.” Which brings us back to the lame duck Governor enthusiastically promoting consolidating the Department of Education into the governor’s Office of Workforce Training, although his children (and grandchildren) will be unaffected. In A People’s History of the United States (pg. 73-74) Howard Zinn writes: “The philosophy of the Declaration [of Independence], that government is set up by the people to secure their life, liberty, and happiness, and is to be overthrown when it no longer does that, is often traced to the ideas of John Locke, in his Second Treatise on Government. That was published in England in 1689, when the English were rebelling against tyrannical kings and setting up parliamentary government. The Declaration, like Locke’s Second Treatise, talked about government and political rights, but ignored the existing inequalities in property. And how could people truly have equal rights, with stark differences in wealth? Locke himself was a wealthy man… As adviser to the Carolinas, he had suggested a government of slave owners run by forty wealthy land barons. Locke’s statement of people’s government was in support of a revolution in England for the free development of mercantile capitalism at home and abroad. Locke himself regretted that the labor of poor children “is generally lost to the public till they are twelve or fourteen years old” and suggested that all children over three, of families on relief, should attend “working schools” so they would be “from infancy… inured to work.”’


The Right To Look

March 13, 2018

“President Donald Trump is telling reporters that he made the decision to oust Secretary of State Rex Tillerson “by myself.”” (Trump choice to oust Tillerson made “by myself” AP 3-13-18). Collateral damage but significant nonetheless is the same AP’s headline from a little later the same day — The Latest: Officials say White House fired Tillerson aide. “The officials said Steve Goldstein, the undersecretary of state for public diplomacy and public affairs, was informed of the move shortly after he released a statement in his name saying that Tillerson was “unaware of the reason” for his termination. Goldstein had also told reporters that Tillerson learned of his firing Tuesday morning from Trump’s tweet announcing he was nominating CIA chief Mike Pompeo to lead the State Department.” Same day, CNN headlined ICE spokesman in SF resigns and slams Trump administration officials (Dan Simon, 3-13-18). “Schwab [James Schwab, a spokesman for the San Francisco Division of Immigration and Customs Enforcement] cited Acting Director Tom Homan and Attorney General Jeff Sessions as being the purveyors of misleading and inaccurate information, following Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf’s controversial decision to warn the community of an upcoming ICE raid.” “”Director Homan and the Attorney General said there were 800 people at large and free to roam because of the actions of the Oakland Mayor,” he told CNN. “Personally I think her actions were misguided and not responsible. I think she could have had other options. But to blame her for 800 dangerous people out there is just false.” “It’s a false statement because we never pick up 100% of our targets. And to say they’re a type of dangerous criminal is also misleading.”” Simon takes pains to include “The Oakland mayor said in response to the former spokesman speaking out, “I commend Mr. Schwab for speaking the truth while under intense pressure to lie. Our democracy depends on public servants who act with integrity and hold transparency in the highest regard.”” as well as mentioning that Schwab was a 16 year employee, and a democrat. Analysis finds several less than obvious items of interest. Do we want an elected official to act unilaterally “by myself”? Mayor Jeff Hall made the same move with the late night demolition of Newark’s Gazebo. He was unmoved by others in his own party who thought it inappropriate. Isn’t that the rational behind the existence of parties in a representative democracy? That decisions are not with the individual but with a group consensus? Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf’s referencing “transparency” becomes even more significant in light of the continuous firing and resignations within the current culture of government. Do the American people have a right to look? Finally, it is the entire package of consent, trust and “belief” that the police and prosecutors are involved with keeping crime in check. What happens when we start to question whether or not someone was prosecuted because a crime was committed? Or were they set up because it helps with the “reality TV show” of political party propaganda (an unnecessary contribution inadvertently made by Simon when he couldn’t help but mention that Schwab was a “democrat”)?

Not Quite Ready For Prime Time Stand Up

March 6, 2018

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before. A young man at the corner of Cedar and East Main asks a bent over elderly gent how he could get to the hospital (or Zanesville, Columbus, or New York City, any or all of the above). “Can’t get there from here, Sonny” replied the octogenarian. (Thank you, thank you very much. You’re too kind) Unfortunately the old coot would be correct. Just prior to the old coot’s infancy, there was an interurban that operated from Newark (and surrounds, like Granville) to Moxahala Park just south of Zanesville. The park is long gone but the vestige of the town remains in its name (the tunnel at Black Hand Gorge isn’t because someone wanted to remove everything that wasn’t a tunnel). From the same period, Cedar Point benefitted and grew from the public transportation provided so park goers could get from Cleveland to Sandusky. There was city wide public transportation in Newark as well as passenger train service to Anytown USA (what do you thing that “station” is just south of the Canal Market?). Half way to now, the grey dog stopped in Newark. Now to access the grey dog requires getting to Zanesville or Columbus (“can’t get there from here”). Flying to NYC involves the same “can’t get there from here.” Newark, another “destination” like Moxahala? “The future is flying cars!” we are told. Those unable to afford a new one can just make do with a used one. Maybe it won’t fly as high, or as long, or crash and burn, but they will have to make do. It’s all about the future (everything’s up to date in Newark city!). Unfortunately right on, but wrong. The future is self driving cars, autonomous vehicles. And in case you were thinking of buying a used one, read the tea leaves again. The big car makers aren’t collaborating with the big internet companies in order to sell these puppies. The major hurdle yet to be resolved is liability (and yes, Virginia, congress will have to pass laws). Which precludes much individual ownership. More like buying a service and paying whatever the service provider charges whether you use it or not. Sound familiar? Sigh! But then again there’s always the future, like hyper loop. There’s even talk of running one from Cleveland to, you guessed it, Cedar Point (get to the Point). But these, like the old interurbans, will be “mass” public transportation – i.e. lots of folk traveling in the same compartment. OMG The future is actually Public Transportation! Yes, Virginia, busses, light rail and autonomous vehicles are all part of the future unfolding before us. So much for flying cars. The last time the future roared through these parts, Newark was left behind and its downtown languished. If you don’t wish for a Ground Hog Day scenario, come to the Public Transportation meeting at Trinity Episcopal Church, 76 E. Main, 10 – noon, Saturday March 10 and help plan the future. “What possessed Analysis to go in depth on something like this” you ask? “Local leaders receive award for historic preservation efforts” Kent Mallet headlined for the Advocate, 4-5-18. “The award recognized preserving historic assets, including the investment to preserve the Licking County Courthouse, historic rehabilitation in downtown Newark, and advocacy for the World Heritage designation that includes the Newark Earthworks.” Unfortunately, you “can’t get there from here.” Thank you, Thank you very much. You’re too kind!

Red Herring

March 4, 2018

Red herring: “noun, something, especially a clue, that is or is intended to be misleading or distracting.” No, Analysis is not going to consider immigration (DACA has run out), nor how hot one has to be to obtain an “Einstein visa”, or the links of chain implicated by such legitimation. Rather, Analysis would like to stay with a recent interrogation – reliable, accessible, affordable and sustainable Public Transportation in Licking County. Though the need for Public Transportation has been covered many times in the past, a recent study jumps out with its contribution to the current urgency. Late last week an MIT study was released that was covered by many news outlets. Analysis will quote from “Uber, Lyft Drivers Earning A Median Profit Of $3.37 Per Hour, Study Says” by James Doubek for NPR (3-2-18). “A working paper by Stephen M. Zoepf, Stella Chen, Paa Adu and Gonzalo Pozo at MIT’s Center for Energy and Environmental Policy Research says the median pretax profit earned from driving is $3.37 per hour after taking expenses into account. Seventy-four percent of drivers earn less than their state’s minimum wage, the researchers say.”  Inevitable “push back” will be around the methodology (as it usually has been with tobacco effects studies, the demise of the honey bee studies, and climate change studies, yadda, yadda). “The conclusions are based on surveys of more than 1,100 drivers who told researchers about their revenue, how many miles they drove and what type of car they used. The study’s authors then combined that with typical costs associated with a certain car’s insurance, maintenance, gas and depreciation, which was gathered in data from Edmunds, Kelley Blue Book and the Environmental Protection Agency.” “Drivers earning the median amount of revenue are getting $0.59 per mile driven, researchers say, but expenses work out to $0.30 per mile, meaning a driver makes a median profit of $0.29 for each mile.” Analysis finds a local area university reimburses its employees at 54.5 cents per mile, the IRS rate for personal vehicle deduction. This corroborates the claim that “MIT authors also calculated that it’s possible for billions of dollars in driver profits to be untaxed because “nearly half of drivers can declare a loss on their taxes.” Drivers are able to use the IRS standard mileage rate deduction to write off some of the costs of using a car for business. In 2016, that number was $0.54 per mile. “Because of this deduction, most ride-hailing drivers are able to declare profits that are substantially lower,” researchers write. “If drivers are fully able to capitalize on these losses for tax purposes, 73.5% of an estimated U.S. market $4.8B in annual ride-hailing driver profit is untaxed,” they add.” Of course, an Uber spokesperson said of the study that “its methodology and findings are deeply flawed.” Yadda, yadda. In light of the recent meetings on Public Transportation in Licking County, the study nets a plethora of quandaries. No, not the need for more immigrants to work at jobs that don’t pay enough to sustain minimum standards of living, let alone allow one a future. “Uber and Lyft both have “notoriously high” turnover rates among drivers. A report last year said just 4 percent of Uber drivers work for the company for at least a year.” And the existing LC Transit Board says it has a hard time retaining drivers! A bulwark of the GOP solution to most problems (in Licking County, Ohio, and the nation) is to opt for the free market to “take care of” the problem through the incentive of tax credits, abatements and cuts (or no tax at all! see recently passed US tax code with its partiality to business tax cuts). Indeed, we are repeatedly told by Republican free market ideologues that “the market” is the solution to all problems, including epidemics, health care for all, as well as individual retirement (Dear Leader or John the governator makes little difference). “Both Uber and Lyft have been fighting legal battles for years against initiatives to classify their drivers as “employees” instead of “independent contractors” — meaning drivers don’t receive benefits like health care or sick leave.” Contractors (whether independent or not) are what currently the LC Transit Board, as well as others, rely on as a solution for public transportation needs. “According to MIT researchers, 80 percent of drivers said they work less than 40 hours per week. An NPR/Marist poll in January found that 1 in 5 jobs in the U.S. is held by a contract worker; contractors often juggle multiple part-time jobs.” Analysis finds that though ride sharing (contractors) may appear to be affordable and accessible, it is actually unsustainable and unreliable. Promoting a virtual platform as a solution for Public Transportation in Licking County is in fact, if not intent, misleading and distracting.

There Is An App For That

February 25, 2018

That seems to be a proffered solution to a good many problems these days. Although not everyone has a mobile cell phone today, let alone smart phone, there is no end to the app offerings available and in development (for purchase or even “free”). Entrepreneurs board this as Christopher Columbus did the Santa Maria. Apple has even trademarked the phrase. And yup, you guessed it, it was suggested as a partial panacea at the recent community Public Transportation meeting sponsored by the Freedom School of Licking County (2-24-18). “Parlance,” you say (“a particular way of speaking or using words, especially a way common to those with a particular job or interest”)? Yes, but Analysis finds more than that occurring here. Rather, it is more the embrace of a mode of conduct or behavior by the culture, the population contemporary with its use, that is significant; i.e. “texting” was in use, accepted parlance and part of the vernacular in Europe well before its nascence here in the US. Now it is ubiquitous everywhere. Would the reader oblige Analysis and kindly step into the way back machine. Not so far back, maybe set the time at about a century ago when village wide water and sewer first came to Granville. Prior to that? The reader’s imagination (or historic research) can fill in the everyday niceties. Well, OK, so far back is unnecessary. How about the historically uncomfortable, just recent past, like the 1980’s and water and sewer coming to Beechwood Trails (outside what was then Pataskala)? The upscale development was all individual well and septic. Some of the septic was not necessarily staying on the individual owner’s property, or worse yet, surfacing there. There was a lot of grumbling “I don’t need it or won’t use it” when a public water and sewer service was mandated by the county. Now, a good part of that area is covered by this public service and folks can’t imagine otherwise (like “texting” or “app”). People in Licking County relying on their own personal well for water can’t imagine the sense of a public service for that. Yet some pretty gnarly Ohio counties (like Gallia or Muskingum) have exactly that.  Two things became clear after the energetic and well attended Public Transportation in Newark/Licking County meeting. Amazingly enough the two are inseparable and require each other (don’t stand alone). One is the lack of political will by elected “leaders” to implement. It became surprisingly apparent toward the end of the meeting that all the elements needed to implement a working order are present. Like the scattered parts of a puzzle (or an IKEA purchase), some assembly is required, some leadership is needed to bring the pieces together. Neighboring communities are doing it (like Knox or Fairfield County). See above re: what a public service is. The second thing symbiotically attached to the “political” of elected “leaders’ was the stuff of app’s, texts, and public service. One participant ruefully pointed out that the major stumbling block to assembling the puzzle of public transportation in Newark/Licking County is that it is presented as an “entitlement” by the political “leaders”, rather than a “service”, like EMS, Fire, Police, water and sewer, etc. Analysis finds the community subjected to this  distorted imaginary in a myriad of ways – from economic class, racial, behavioral innuendo and stereotyping to large scale institutional (higher learning as well as business) promotion, advertising, and projection. We all know Grow Licking County and Newark Development Partners plan and project a gleaming Emerald City. But how ya gonna get there? (editor’s note: they were absent from the community meeting) Analysis finds that the everyday inclusion of Public Transportation as a service, not an entitlement, within the ubiquitous parlance would be a hefty start. Commenting on a mundane Facebook entry? Referencing the reliable, sustainable, affordable and accessible nature of public services like public transportation, would go a long way. “App,” “text,” “public water and sewer,” “911 caller service” became acceptable through entry into the parlance of the times. Their meaning was formed through their use in communication, language. Speaking of which the next community meeting of the Freedom School for achieving reliable, affordable, accessible, sustainable Public Transportation in Newark/Licking County is March 10, 2018, 10 -12, Trinity Episcopal Church downtown Newark. Be there.

Tomorrow’s Leaders Today

February 23, 2018

Leadership isn’t an award bestowed on top achievers, a trophy for top earners, a category for a sanctioned few. On March 24, 2018 Newark Ohio will be a sister city in solidarity with major cities around the globe – March For Our Lives. Don’t just plan to attend. Rather, be there and participate in actual solidarity and promotion of tomorrow’s leaders today.

Internationalism,It’s More Informative Than You Think

February 22, 2018

February 22, 2018 disparate professionals walked off the job in equally disparate locations on the globe. “Public schools across West Virginia are closed Thursday as teachers and other school employees hit the picket lines, demanding higher wages and better benefits. According to Dale Lee, president of the West Virginia Education Association (WVEA), teachers in all of the state’s 55 counties are participating in the planned two-day walk-out, and a group will march Thursday morning to the capitol building in Charleston. Organizers expect thousands of teachers to participate.” “The work stoppage comes after Gov. Jim Justice signed legislation late Wednesday night granting teachers a 2% pay increase starting in July, followed by 1% pay increases over the next two years. “We need to keep our kids and teachers in the classroom,” Justice said in a statement after signing the pay raise bill. “We certainly recognize our teachers are underpaid and this is a step in the right direction to addressing their pay issue.” But the bill did not address further concerns of teachers, including issues with the teachers’ public employees insurance program, the rising costs of healthcare, and a tax on payroll deduction options, according to Campbell [Christine Campbell, president American Federation of Teachers – West Virginia]. The pay raise, which amounts to 4% over the next few years, is a reduction from an earlier version of the bill that proposed a 5% total increase in wages, Campbell said, also remarking that teachers in surrounding states make anywhere from $5,000 to $20,000 more than teachers in West Virginia.” (West Virginia teacher walk-out closes all public schools, Sarah Jorgensen for CNN, 2-22-18) Writing for Great Britain’s Independent, Simon Calder headlines Air France Strike Grounds Dozens of UK Flights, Leaving Hundreds of Passengers Stranded, 2-22-18. “Tens of thousands of Air France passengers have been stranded by a coordinated one-day strike involving pilots, cabin crew and ground staff. The airline’s management has offered a basic increase of one per cent to staff, but the unions are demanding a six per cent rise. They are also unhappy about job losses and staff workloads.” (the statistics portal) shows that worldwide, the airline industry showed profits for the last 8 years with each of the last three years nearly tripling that of the previous 5. Projections for 2018 are to be even larger. The wage increase for either public sector or private sector workers was 1%. Any coincidence? Before you answer that, consider the third meeting of the International Trade Union Network of Solidarity and Struggle 2018 recently held outside Madrid Spain; covered by Cole Stangler for In These Times, 2-20-18 (Meet the coalition building a global union movement against capitalism). “a four-day conference in late January attended by nearly 300 labor activists from 25 different countries and 35 different groups”. “A spirit of radicalism and internationalism runs deep within the Network of Solidarity and Struggle, a loose alliance organized by three national-level unions: Solidaires in France, the General Confederation of Labor (CGT) in Spain and CSP Conlutas in Brazil. All of these unions are on the left of their countries’ respective labor movements. “We need to function as a class, and for us having contacts is fundamental,” said José Manuel Muñoz Póliz, general secretary of the CGT, which claims to have grown to nearly 100,000 members in recent years and defines itself as anarcho-syndicalist. “The resolutions that are being passed here won’t be defended by political parties or governments: They’re being defended by workers.” Póliz said ties among union activists in different countries make the movement stronger as a whole — whether that’s by sharing information about broader threats like privatization and employer-friendly legal reforms or by adopting common actions and tactics. Because of the network’s commitment to working-class autonomy, he said it is more effective than the larger, more mainstream international union federations like the European Trade Union Confederation, whose agenda, he believes, is weakened by ties to parties and governments.” “Yet, activists at the conference insisted the U.S. labor movement stands to gain from a stronger dose of internationalism. According to them, it isn’t just a question of principle, but of practical advantage. In the day-to-day tussles between multinational corporations and labor unions, the latter often suffer from information deficiencies that hurt campaigns.” (sounds like something straight out of Hardt and Negri!) This in the age of information, information technologies and multinational media corporation control of information distribution (as well as misinformation dissemination). Though, on the same day, Dear Leader suggested paying teachers packing heat a premium bonus, the 1% pay increase offered WV professional educators differed not from the 1% increase a private corporation offered to its professionals. The only difference is in our ability to know that it is so. Internationalism, it’s more informative than you think.

Arbitrary Notions About How Much Things ‘Should’ Cost

February 16, 2018

“The more books I read the more passionately I embraced the truth that widespread human well-being demands a system that clearly defines and protects private property rights, allows people to speak freely without intimidation or legal repercussions, refrains from interference with private parties’ agreements and exchanges, and allows human action—rather than arbitrary notions about how much things ‘should’ cost—to guide prices” (Charles Koch from 2015 Good Profit found as mission statement on Charles Koch Foundation website) Remember the Constitutional Convention to Balance the Budget initiative promoted by Ohio’s governor and other GOP leaders? Of course you don’t after the GOP’s tax cuts of December 2018 followed by the national budget just recently passed. Both covered the “deficit” in manure and kept it in the dark so it could mushroom. But back then “One of the two main groups pushing an Article V convention is the Convention of States, a project by Citizens for Self-Government, a nonprofit that doesn’t disclose its donors and has a variety of connections to David and Charles Koch, the billionaire industrialist brothers whose eponymous company is one of the country’s worst polluters and who have become synonymous with both overt and covert political spending in pursuit of limited government. Another nonprofit supporting the movement is the American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC, an organization “dedicated to the principles of limited government, free markets and federalism” that brings corporations and lawmakers together to draft model legislation that is then introduced in the states. ALEC doesn’t disclose its members, although the group’s opposition to climate change measures, gun control and voting rights has led to a recent exodus of member corporations and lawmakers.” (The Koch Brothers Want To Rewrite The Constitution Josh Keefe, International Business Times, 6-14-17) Locally ALEC’s agenda is heavily prevalent at Licking County GOP Commissioner Tim Bubb’s radio station. More on that later. All of these folk are elbowing each other to be in the driver seat of the Right To Work (but can’t get there because of lack of public transportation) bus. GOP state legislators “John Becker and Craig Riedel have proposed a package of six separate constitutional amendments that would limit how unions are funded, ban project labor agreements where the state or cities require union labor for construction projects and eliminate prevailing wage, which sets a floor wage for skilled labor on publicly funded projects.” “Their proposed constitutional amendments:

Private-sector right-to-work: Eliminates requirement employees pay fair share dues. Employees would have to opt in to pay dues.

Public-sector right-to-work: Eliminates fair share dues for public sector unions.

Prevailing wage: Repeals Ohio’s prevailing wage law, which sets a minimum hourly wages and benefits for skilled workers on certain projects. A standalone bill on this issue has not advanced in the Ohio Senate.

Dues withholding: Prohibits state and local government employers from withholding union dues or fees from workers’ wages. Unions could not spend dues on political activities without workers’ consent.

Project Labor Agreements: Bans state and local government entities from requiring project bidders or contractors to enter into project labor agreements, which are pre-hire agreements that set timelines for project completion and methods for resolving disputes, among other terms. A standalone bill was introduced during the last legislative session but did not pass.

Union recertification: Requires annual “recertification” where workers vote to renew public collective bargaining units.” (Right to work’ could be on the ballot in Ohio with support from lawmakers 1-23-18, Jackie Borchardt, Another tact of the Koch ALEC coalition is the promotion and legitimization of parallel or multiple unions which can be “funded” variously (by foundations such as Chuck and Dave’s), and offer lower health care premiums, retirement, etc. (so laborer’s can have “choice”). Of course they also dilute any kind of worker negotiating capacity. All of which begs the question of why? Why, in a free market, is it so outrageous for labor to negotiate what it has to offer and contribute in return for an agreed upon wage?  “allows human action—rather than arbitrary notions about how much things ‘should’ cost—to guide prices” Maybe the GOP County Commissioner’s radio station could inform us as to the answer. In addition to school closings plus hogs and frogs reports, the service is underwritten by a plethora of advertisers. Vying for first and second position are not big box food stores and car dealers (remember public transportation?), but rather gun dealers and jobs creators – and we ain’t talking about temp services which were number one years ago. The jobs creators, the lions and kings of the Jobs! Jobs! Jobs! economy are now neck and neck with multiple gun dealerships, from feed stores to boutique “we aim to please” specialty shops (no bumps in price here). And the jobs creators aren’t advertising their products or services. They are looking for employees to fill positions right now. Analysis finds this unprecedented scale of help wanted advertising to be indicative of a wide spread lack, a need. For them to be profitable requires someone to tote that barge, lift that bale. “The Art of the Deal” isn’t required reading to recognize that when it comes to negotiating, admissions of lack, of need, are a vulnerability. One solution for a business to set the price (wages) while maintaining hegemony in negotiating working conditions and benefits (if any) is to eliminate collective representation. Collective representation is the only way that “allows human action—rather than arbitrary notions about how much things ‘should’ cost—to guide prices” of actual labor costs.

Making Lemonade Out Of Lemons

February 12, 2018

Remember Governor Kasich’s 20 million dollar solution to Ohio’s opioid epidemic? Of course you do. Spring of 2017 Ohio’s presidential wannabee offered a high tech solution to the epidemic. He put money down, no, not separately in the budget but by offering $20 mil in Ohio Third Frontier Funding to innovators who come up with high tech solutions. This was touted as a win-win for Ohio. The opioid addiction scourge would be addressed while Jobs! Jobs! Jobs! would be provided through the entrepreneurial endeavors of Ohio based new technology providers. Well, back in December of 2017 $10 mil in winners were announced. One winner was Elysium Therapeutics. “It is developing a new kind of pill that would limit how much of the painkilling substance would be released into the body.” “Other projects that got state money include programs that use analytics to identify and prevent addiction, other types of pain management devices, and a web-based service that can streamline recovery services.” (Ohio Awards $10 Million For New Technology Projects To Fight Addiction By Andy Chow for WKSU,12-7-17) . This week Analysis noted a story out of Cleveland. Various reports but Analysis will reference “Cost of methadone treatment skyrockets leaving local treatment center to scramble for funding” by Brenda Cain for, 2-7-18. “The price of methadone is skyrocketing — from $1 per dose to more than $14 per dose — at one local addiction clinic. Funding for the drug, which interrupts the symptoms of withdraw in recovering addicts, has run out, leaving the agency to scramble for options for its patients.” “Community Action Against Addiction (CAAA), one of two nonprofit suppliers of the drug in the region, told on this week that the abrupt price hike is the result of a loss of funding.” “Clinical Director Mary Bazie said the agency has stopped accepting new clients, unless they are covered by insurance or can self-pay. CAAA has a team of caseworkers helping existing clients, many of whom have low incomes, find other ways to pay for their medication. “Treatment saves lives and we have no intention of just pricing people out of their medications without trying to find alternatives for them,” Bazie said. The agency dispenses an average of 570 doses of methadone every day. Methadone is used to treat heroin abusers and people who have become addicted to opioid-based painkillers. The drug interrupts the symptoms of physical withdrawal from drug abuse. In an email, received Thursday, CAAA Chief Executive Officer Gladys Hall clarified that the potential price hike is not an increase in cost for the methadone, itself, but rather for the entire treatment process — which includes: a daily dose of methadone or Suboxone; random monthly drug testing, medication monitoring, medical consultation, initial physical examination, annual follow-up physical examination, annual tuberculosis test, individual and group counseling, as well as Narcan training and education.” The funding loss was through the Cuyahoga County ADAMHS (who of course gets their funding through other public sources). “Those affected by the price increase included the working poor who earn too much to be eligible for Medicaid and patients who have allowed their Medicaid coverage to lapse, or have shifted to Medicare, which doesn’t cover addiction medication.” Analysis can’t help but note that the Ohio Governor’s magnanimous solution is not one the governor or state would take with regard to the current flu epidemic. The win-win solution proffered by the Governor is characteristic of a perpetual motion machine solution to social problems continuously promoted by the GOP – whether Kasich or Trump GOP matters little. This mechanism prioritizes any opportunity to create wealth in the midst of dire public need. One of the oldest proven methods for recovering addicts to function as productive members of their community is jeopardized by the Pollyanna precedence of making lemonade out of lemons.

Cracks In The Clicking Economy

February 4, 2018

The recent testimonials from the Licking County transit board members left Analysis with a Karl Rove math aftertaste (from previous post: Though budgeted to employ 45 drivers, they can only fill less than 35 positions. Their wish list is 60!). One of the prime reasons given for the lack of drivers was new applicants’ inability to pass drug tests. This was likewise elaborated by Jay Hottinger in the meeting referenced. Indeed, even the Governor and his entourage of wannabees touts this same refrain. Ohio’s 77th district representative, Tim “Pee in the cup” Schaffer, gained notoriety for his repeated legislative attempts to purge the food stamp, TANF and unemployment compensation recipients through the use of “drug tests.” Just for tickles, how many people in the U.S. have a substance addiction? EZ to say illegal immigrants are criminals and killers. Not so EZ to verify the accuracy of the claim. This is not the case with statistics dealing with populations that are not illegal (are you legal?). LiveScience reports in September of 2016 that Federal estimates show over 21 million Americans afflicted with a substance addiction. Of these two thirds would be alcohol, one third drugs (prescription, opioid, etc.). Well, “How many people in the U.S.?” you ask. Good question. The Census gives an estimate of 323 million (latest). Well, EZ, just divide the users by the totality. Not so fast. True, true, true, some kids may be hooked on Bud Lite but according to Kaiser Family Foundation 24% of the U.S. population is under 18 (you wouldn’t want to thin the CHIP enrollment through drug tests, would you?). Then again Kaiser lists 15% of the total population being over 65 (generally not considered in the pool of eligible workers). This leaves 61% of the total population eligible for employment. 197 million Americans are lumped into the employment eligible pool. 21 million of that has substance abuse issues, just over 10% of the normally considered work force population. We are told that our unemployment rate is just over 4%. Analysis finds there to be people already employed with substance addictions. But drug tests don’t screen for alcohol (which is legal). So one third of substance addiction in the U.S. is drug related (which is screened by Tim Schaffer’s test of choice). 7 million Americans with drug substance addictions is 3.5% of the eligible work force and not likely to pass a urine test. Which leaves roughly over .5% of eligible working age Americans (currently unemployed) to fill the 4% unemployment gap that drives so much of the “Jobs, Jobs, Jobs!” rhetoric. No wonder the Karl Rove math leaves so many people scratching their heads! True, true, true the “elderly” over 65 are plagued by substance abuse. Analysis also finds them still working. Likewise true that pre 18 year olds are working, but likewise also entering into substance addiction. Analysis finds the inability to fill jobs to be a very real need, though 5% unemployment was traditionally considered full employment as 5% were deemed “unemployable”. I guess the clicking economy is operating on an accelerated efficiency. Every man, woman, child and machine must be at full capacity to keep up with the global competition. Please excuse the digression. Analysis finds the actual “employable” population statistic to have a great bearing not only on transportation’s importance as a public service, but the real rate of earnings (wages), as well as the real need for immigrants. Then again, we could all hold two jobs in order to make America great again.