My Roots Are Showing (And They Are Angry)!

I had planned to write about something else for today’s posting. It will have to wait. It wasn’t the most important news item of next week. What I’m asking you to explore with me is!

The first part of today’s title has nothing to do with coloring hair. If you had one look at me it would be obvious that I do not color mine. It has to do with the roots you develop from your environment growing up. I was born, educated and grew up in the Buffalo, New York metropolitan area. Back in the ‘50’s and ‘60’s that was auto and steel country. The best jobs to be had were at the auto plants and steel mills. Many others made a living supplying those industries or the needs of the workers in those plants and mills. The men (and a very few women) who worked in the plants and mills made a good living and were able to support their families largely because of the compensation packages their unions won for them. They would have never been able to obtain similar compensation bargaining as free agents! Those supplying the prime industries and serving the needs of the populace did reasonably well (often aided by union representation) because the unions effectively set the prevailing wage. A smaller employer didn’t have to meet the union package but they couldn’t be radically below it for fear of losing their best workers.

There was a time in this country where factories were dangerous sweat shops. If you don’t believe me just explore early 20th century literature and history from credible sources. Starting in 1933 the federal government, aided the unions, gave American workers a decent standard of living. Much of that was accomplished under the Franklin Delano Roosevelt administration and the point person was Secretary of Labor Frances Perkins. Ironically I just inducted her into the Progressive Hall of Fame so her major achievements are fresh in mind. Among them are the 40 hour work week, overtime pay and the minimum wage. Thursday the President-elect announced his pick for Secretary of Labor and the cause of my outrage – Andrew Puzder.

In a succinct and deadly accurate phrase Puzder is anti-labor. He is exactly the type of person who should not even be considered for Secretary of Labor unless you are writing a satirical piece of literature! I know and have written that the Trump faithful heard “Make America white again” when Trump said, “Make America great again”. For those longing for the good old days of the 1920’s (before the Republicans put the world into the Great Depression) or the post-war boom of the 1950’s when being a white male in America was a ticket to a lifetime job at a living wage Puzder is not your savior; he is your worst nightmare!

Puzder is the CEO of CKE Restaurants whose principle holdings are the fast food outlets Carl, Jr. and Hardee’s. Originally it was publically traded but was taken over by a private equity firm a few years back and now operates in a more opaque manner as a privately held corporation. The last reporting we have of Puzder’s stock holdings they were valued at $25.6 million in the then publically traded company. His annual compensation is difficult to verify but in 2011 it was reported to be $10.1 million. Keep those amounts (sketchy as they may be) in mind when we look at some of Puzder’s stances on issues.

Puzder is not only anti-union he is against almost any workers’ rights to the point where I will say he is against workers’ dignity. He is on record complaining about the regulations that require lunch breaks after five hours of work and bathroom breaks. I guess Puzder feels his employees should starve and “hold it” while on the clock. There is some continuity to his logic: if you don’t eat or drink anything you are less likely to need to use the bathroom.

Not surprisingly Puzder is against Obamacare. His reasoning is that if Americans are paying health insurance premiums they have less money to spend on consuming goods and services. (I’m not making this up!) I would counter his theory with one that professes that if Americans ate less greasy burgers and fries (a sin I must confess to) they would be healthier and thereby lower the cost of health insurance premiums.

Puzder is not only against the movement for a $15 per hour minimum wage, he was a vocal opponent of the $10.10 version of the movement. Despite them being repeatedly disproven, Puzder gives the typical right wing mythology arguments about the minimum wage earners not being heads of households and that a minimum wage increase would lead to massive job losses.

Of course he is an opponent of the stalled (and I feel gravely endangered) initiative to raise the salary threshold for overtime exemption from $23,660 to $47,476. Now let’s try and put that into perspective. It is fine for Puzder to earn $10.1 million a year but someone making $50,000 should not be entitled to overtime. At $50,000 (I wanted to use a round number) it would take 202 years of labor at Hardee’s to make what Puzder does in a single year. To follow along with his “wisdom” just a bit, you should work those 202 years without eating or potty breaks. That’s some remarkable longevity and a lot of burger flipping!

Reportedly Puzder donated $332,000 to the Trump election effort, (another example of the self-funding lie). At $15 per hour (which Puzder thinks is dangerously high) you would have to work just over 22,133 hours just to earn the $332,000; and I didn’t even account for deductions. That’s a little over two and one-half years of non-stop working without taking breaks for sleeping, let alone eating or bodily functions.

Puzder is either insane or insatiably greedy! The problem is that he will fit right in with the rest of the crowd that will be surrounding the most incompetent and corrupt President in at least America’s modern if not entire history! I respect the labor of my ancestors and appreciate what it did to make my life better. Yes, I’m angry!

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