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by shep

Yup, if you don’t have an important face-to –face meeting at the office tomorrow, or the next day, or the next…tell your boss you’d like to work from home.

In the age of ubiquitous high-speed home internet access, cellular telecommunications, VoIP, video capable computer monitors, WiFi hot spots and GHz-fast home computers, what could be stupider than millions of us slogging through miles of crawling traffic at the exact same hour of each day so we can sit in a cube and phone and e-mail each other?

About 114.5 million people commuted to work in 2004 with a round trip of around 30 miles at roughly 21 mpg.

What if government provided incentives to business to telecommute say 15 or 20 or 25 percent of its employees each day of the work week. They could be different employees, based upon what they needed to do, or some of the same employees who mostly work by phone or email anyway (e.g., sales and customer service employees). (BTW, this is happening now on a growing scale in progressively managed companies because they’ve done the math and know that: 1) individual employee productiveness goes up and 2) they can reduce brick-and-mortar and other costs associated with a large office-based workforce.)

That’s more than 40 million gallons of gasoline that could be saved each year with this one measure, which increases productivity and reduces corporate brick-and mortar costs. That's without considering the 5.7 billion gallons of gas and $100 billion lost from resulting rush-hour congestion.

Only the shortcomings of own management psychology prevents us from implementing this (and probably many other) cost and pollution-saving changes. I’ve helped develop telecommuting policy for $multi-million organizations, only to see them be relegated to “don’t ask, don’t tell” policies that result in little or no increase in the advantageous use of telecommuting. The reason: executives and managers don’t believe they can trust their employees if they’re not in the office, regardless of the data. Not to mention that, for many mid-level managers, their jobs would be even more redundant without the responsibility of glorified babysitter.

My favorite repost to those managers is, “look around you; could these employees be any less productive than they are at the office? It’s the office that provides endless opportunities to socialize and chat, compared with the home-office." Granted, that has a value that mangers also seldom grasp but those benefits (esprit de corps, comraderie, peer competition, etc.) can be easily achieved with one fewer day in the office per week – at least.

It's way past time to get our heads out of our traditional boxes, whether they be cars, cubicles or 20th-century MBA orthodoxy.

(Cross-posted at Queen of All Evil)

Lou Dobbs interviews James Webb, Friday, Nov. 10.
WEBB: I believe you measure the health of your society, not at its apex but at its base. You can't, any longer, measure the health of our society simply by what's happening in the stock market because there's been such a tremendous migration of wealth toward a very small percentage of people who are owning stocks and those sorts of things.
Yes, I know that lots of people own stock now in their 401k plans and so forth. But Webb is talking about the disparities in the way we treat wealth versus the way we treat work. It's a refreshing viewpoint all the more so because it comes from a former Reagan acolyte. Webb simply doesn't buy "trickle down" economics anymore -- in fact, it's the reason he left the Republican party and got elected to the Senate from Virginia -- Virginia!

You know there's something happening in this country when a guy like Webb beats a guy like George Allen.

Debunk Away!

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by Mark Adams

Economic analysis can be a tedious chore, at least for me.  Number crunching was never my passion.  Fortunately Hale Stewart at BOPnews -- Complete Refutation of New GOP Economic Talking Points is more than willing to do my homework for me.

Raw Story is claiming it has obtained a copy of the GOP election playbook. All of the points made therein are crap -- as in pure crap. Assuming this is the true playbook, here are the basic rebuttals to the economic claims made therein. This information is free to all to use.

If you only take away one fact from Stewart's analysis, here's the clincher:

Even using the Republicans incorrect figures, the economy is only creating about 158,000 jobs/month.  The economy has to create 150,000/month to keep up with population growth.  In other words - using their numbers - the rate of job growth still stinks.
This has been a public service message for mathematically challenged Republicans who may also tout the fiction that average wages have increased -- a lie when you factor in inflation.

Other quick points?

  •   A 16% increase in tax revenue during an expansion is nothing to be proud of when the post 70's recession saw revenue increase by over 77%, and the 90's expansion drew almost double the revenue -- a 96% increase.

  •   The yearly deficit they report does not reflect the actual increase in debt issued by the government  -- Tthere's so much "off book" and "emergency" spending that you just know to take the "over."  They aren't even coming close to balancing the budget.  Last year alone the government spent $553 billion more than it took in, but the GOP will use the "deficit" figures of merely a $318 billion abuse of your children's credit card. With two months left in fiscal '06, they've already overspent by $481 billion.

  •   Discretionary spending (non-military) is up by 48% since '01. (They did freeze non-defense, non-discretionary spending).
    In fact, the Cato Institute - a bastion of liberal thought and action - called Bush the biggest spender since LBJ. I'm sure that's a name the Republicans would love to be compared to.

  • by Mark Adams

    Check out Think Progress' counter argument to the same old tired propaganda against raising the minimum wage regurgitated by Ohio's right wingers.

    Since we can't count on Congress to raise the minimum wage, progressive Democrats in the State House have picked up the cause, and face the usual, "it'll cause unemployment" crap the wingers always say.

    The facts tell a different story, past raises have been unemployment neutral and advance growth, payroll and tax revenue without costing jobs.

    If the GOP weren't such effective liars, the world would be a much better place for everyone, not just those in the top ten percent.

    The Bush Economy

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    The economy is humming along, is it? Baloney.

    The facts are simple and straightforward:

    1. The Bush Economy has the worst rate of job creation in 40 years.

    2. Bush's new jobs pay $9,000 less per year.

    3. Working people haven't had a raise in 5 years.
    Details on The Bush Economy.

    by Mark Adams

    I don't believe the U.S. Department of Labor's mandate is to is to promote anti-labor, union busting organizations.  Neither does Jordan Barab of Confined Space.

    The folks at CREW obtained E-mails between the office of Labor Secretary Elaine Chao and conservative lobbyist and executive director of the anti-union group Center for Union Facts, Richard Berman through the Freedom of Information Act, which shows that the Department of Labor is actively anti-labor.  In the words of Confined Space:

    Those younger than a certain age may not remember that the law of the land encourages the formation of labor unions, and that the Department of Labor was created to improve the working conditions and welfare of working people.  Yet, these days the sole purpose of the Department of Labor seems to be ignoring workers and acting as if all unions are mafia offspring that deserve about as much sympathy as Al Queda.

    Barab, a former Labor Liaison for OSHA who 16 years running AFSCME's health and safety program, has been documenting the fact that Berman's "Union Facts" is neither factual nor about anything much but the destruction of organized labor.

    The FOIA request -- which has the promise to bring out even more "smoking guns" now that Secretary Chao has claimed some of the Department's communiques with Berman are privileged -- documents "a close and supportive relationship between the two entities," to the point where the Department actively distributed an "op-ed drafted by Berman, anti-union newspaper accounts as well as anti-union blogs and news releases".

    Also, in addition to promoting Berman's web-site as "dedicated to providing information on labor unions and their expenditures," the Secretary herself agreed to be profiled by one of Berman's front groups.

    Look, you don't like Unions?  Fine.  You're misguided, but entitled to your opinion.  In fact you can campaign against them, lobby against them as Berman does.  Be a hired gun for corporations and fight against them, making a buck or $8 million along the way.  This is America, an allegedly free country.

    But the Department of Labor was not created as a marketing tool to spread anti-union propaganda.  In fact, it's very purpose is to promote the rights of workers to organize.  Like it or not, hate unions or love them -- not only is collective bargaining a right in this country, but the government is supposed to protect that right, not work against it.

    Hey, maybe the Labor Secretary and her staff are just incompetent.  Too dumb to realize that not every group with the word "union" in their name is,

    "encouraging the practice and procedure of collective bargaining and by protecting the exercise by workers of full freedom of association, self-organization, and designation of representatives of their own choosing, for the purpose of negotiating the terms and conditions of their employment or other mutual aid or protection."
    Protecting and encouraging unions is what the National Labor Relations Act says is the "Declared policy of the United States."  We have no business doing official government business with a paid hit-man for union-busters like Berman.

    Heckuvajob they're doing at Chao's office.

    (Tip 'O D'Hat to Linkmeister Avedon.  Wag of the finger, as always, to the Bush Administration and their corporate minders)

    As faithful watchers of The West Wing know, the incoming President has 18 months, tops, to get anything done. So his/her campaign has to focus on what that is -- and leave the rest for later.

    That said, I was interested to see this list of issues that Democrats in Blogville have reached consensus on.

    Scan the list and tell me -- which one of these you would campaign on?


    I think the "liberal netroots" does have a fairly clear consensus on a number of issues. I'm not going to claim every liberal blogger or blog reader agress with everything on this list - that'd be ridiculous - but nonetheless I'd say there's a pretty obvious general consensus on the following:
    • Undo the bankruptcy bill enacted by this administration
    • Repeal the estate tax repeal
    • Increase the minimum wage and index it to the CPI
    • Universal health care (obviously the devil is in the details on this one)
    • Increase CAFE standards. Some other environment-related regulation
    • Pro-reproductive rights, getting rid of abstinence-only education, improving education about and access to contraception including the morning after pill, and supporting choice. On the last one there's probably some disagreement around the edges (parental notification, for example), but otherwise.
    • Simplify and increase the progressivity of the tax code
    • Kill faith-based funding. Certainly kill federal funding of anything that engages in religious discrimination.
    • Reduce corporate giveaways
    • Have Medicare run the Medicare drug plan
    • Force companies to stop underfunding their pensions. Change corporate bankruptcy law to put workers and retirees at the head of the line with respect to their pensions.
    • Leave the states alone on issues like medical marijuana. Generally move towards "more decriminalization" of drugs, though the details complicated there too.
    • Imprison Jeff Goldstein for crimes against humanity for his neverending stupidity
    • Paper ballots
    • Improve access to daycare and other pro-family policies. Obiously details matter.
    • Raise the cap on wages covered by FICA taxes.
    I'm sure I could think of a few more things. I left off foreign policy because I find that most people who write about it imagine they're playing the game of Risk. It's nice to have nice bumpersticker doctrines which are ultimately meaningless, but basically "put grownups in charge" is my prescription. Kick the petulant children out.

    ...adding a few more things which would be obvious if we weren't living in the Grand and Glorious Age of Bush:

    • Torture is bad
    • Imprisoning citizens without charges is bad
    • Playing Calvinball with the Geneva Conventions and treaties generally is bad
    • Imprisoning anyone indefinitely without charges is bad
    • Stating that the president can break any law he wants any time "just because" is bad
    ...oh, and I meant to include:
    • Marriage rights for all, which includes "gay marriage" and quicker transition to citizenship for the foreign spouses of citizens.

    I've only had limited exposure to Mark Warner (mostly on paper). And I wasn't exactly bowled over.

    But the following piece presents Warner in a different light. And the post is so good that I'm going to apologize in advance for copying-and-pasting the whole thing...

    From Reality Bites Back:

    How does a pro-choice, pro-government, pro-tax Democrat get elected with an 80% approval rating in the state of Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, and Grover Norquist? How do you counter Republican fear mongering, deception, fear mongering, cronyism and fear mongering? How do you win amidst an ocean of red, riled to a blood-thirsty, mouth-foaming torrent by Rove, Luntz and shotgun Cheney? Last night, I got to meet former Virginia Governor Mark Warner and hear from the man myself. And here's what he had to say...

    "Virginia is a southern state." He made that clear as day. `It's not part of New England. It's the state where the Christian Right makes its home. It's 2 to 1 Republican, but there is a way to win.'

    His tactic to approaching the Republican base starts with: "I'm a Democrat but, contrary to what you may think..." He paused, indicating that's the way he begins every appeal to a conservative area. He continues `I may not check every box of what you want, but I want to work with you to solve the problems that are important to you.' He mentions jobs, healthcare, education, economic development, and key to this, creating opportunities for `regular Americans' to stay in the community they grew up in by helping those communities compete in new industries of the future. He says he also boldly declares "I will never take away your guns. We need to enforce our existing laws. I'm not going to add a whole bunch of new ones." This, to counter the wall of deception by the NRA's constant "lib'ruls wanna take your guns away" droning.


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