Good Morning. Good Morning.
Nothing to say, but what a day
How’s your boy been?
Nothing to do, it’s up to you
I’ve got nothing to say
But it’s O.K.
Good morning, good morning, good morning-a
Written by Lennon-McCartney
From The Beatles “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Heart Club Band” 1967
The song was actually written by John Lennon and inspired by a post-touring lull in suburban London with his wife, Cynthia. At this time, son Julian would have been nearly 4 years old. From all accounts, life with John was not a walk in the park. Like many artists, the gap between the person and the art is wide. We end up enriched by the song and its place in our memories regardless of what John was doing as a husband, father, and bandmate.
For a simple set of lyrics, attributed to inspiration from a Kellogg’s TV commercial, the song was made complex and interesting in the studio. It opens with a rooster crowing, and ends with birds, a cat, a dog, a cow, a horse, a sheep, a lion, an elephant, and then the sounds of a fox hunt. A chicken clucking as the song fades out is replaced by the guitar opening of the reprise of the song Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band near the close of the album. The final song is A Day in the Life.
A horn group called Sounds Incorporated play throughout with the sound of the horns made “weird” by the engineers to suit Lennon’s tastes. The song has 7 sections with time signature and beat changes.
Most of the song is 12 or 16 syllable lines evoking a frame of mind, like:
Going to work
Don’t want to go
Heading for home
You start to roam
Then you’re in town
I’ve taken a break from the Lefty Boomer blog for a while due to T&E shortages. (time and effort) The recent mid-term elections have provoked me sufficiently to return to the fray. I’m opting to not began a long rant on the successes of conservative propaganda and the real dangers of oligarchy in the U.S. But I have a couple of points that may help with context:
Who came out to vote?
Fewer than 37% of eligible voters case their votes in the 2014 midterm elections. This is 4 points down from the 2010 elections. White males and older voters came out disproportionately, and they are both categories that skew Republican (63% Republican to 35% Democrat for white males generally, 56-43% Republican for seniors).
Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders wrote in a statement, “We should not be satisfied with a ‘democracy’ in which more than 60 percent of our people don’t vote and some 80 percent of young people and low-income Americans fail to vote.”
While unmarried women skew Democratic 61% to 27% that margin is slimmer than it has been in the past. It may be that these voters are above the fray of FoxNews vs. working America and simply see that the economy is not moving fast enough under Democrat’s control. Similarly, voters under age 30 skew Democratic, by 13% but their share of the electorate was down from 19% in 2012 to 13% in 2014.
Our last four full two-term presidents, Eisenhower to George W. Bush, have concluded their final two years in office without the support of either house of Congress. What is being portrayed as unprecedented and historical is in fact both precedented and non-historical!
Ballot Initiatives Favored Liberal Points of View
Binding initiatives raised the minimum wage in 4 states. Alaskans voted to raise the state’s minimum wage from its current $7.75 to $8.75 in 2015 and $9.75 in 2016, and index it to inflation. Returns indicate the measure was supported by more than 68 percent of voters. In Arkansas, 65 percent of voters approved a ballot measure to raise the state’s minimum wage to $7.50 in 2015, $8.00 in 2016 and $8.50 in 2017. Nebraskans passed a measure raising the state’s minimum wage to $8.00 in 2015 and to $9.00 in 2016, with 59 percent of voters approving. In South Dakota, 54.9 percent of voters approved a state minimum wage increase to $8.50 per hour, effective January 1, 2015, and index future increases to account for inflation.
Non-binding resolutions in Illinois and Wisconsin also favored raising minimum wage to $10 and $10.10 respectively, in spite of both state’s Republican governor wins.
Republican policy is against a hike in the Federal minimum wage, and Mr. McConnell, our future Senate Majority Leader, has voted against raising the minimum wage 16 times, and has never crafted a jobs bill despite 30 years in Washington.
On the cannabis votes, 3 of the 4 state initiatives to allow recreational use of marijuana passed. Illinois’s non-binding measure regarding the coverage of contraception passed. Stricter gun laws were passed in Washington state. Massachusetts’ measure to require one sick day for each 30 days worked also passed.
It’s difficult to imagine how these outcomes can coexist with the Republican victories except as a marker that the leadership and the populace are out of step with each other. Maybe I’m overly hopeful, but as these synchronization problems play out we may find that the pendulum of political thought is ready to swing back to the left.
Unions – Mixed messages
The longtime meme regarding unions are that we needed them in the bygone days but today, there is little need for them. But the fall of unions correlates to the rise of income going to the top 10% as this video shows.
The Economic Policy Institute writes that “By most estimates, declining unionization accounted for about a third of the increase in inequality in the 1980s and 1990s.”
Why bring it up now? Because for the first time, the Teamsters were able to get a vote for unionization at one of its locations: FedEx Freight’s East Philadelphia terminal in Croydon, Pennsylvania. Workers in a New Jersey location voted the union down earlier in 2014 but the victory in PA suggests that all workers for FedEx will be seeing some benefits as the company will move to block further encroachment by the Teamsters.
Pew Research Center research found that about half (51%) of Americans said they had favorable opinions of labor unions, versus 42% who said they had unfavorable opinions about them. That was the highest favorability rating since 2007, though still below the 63% who said they were favorably disposed toward unions in 2001. In a separate 2012 survey, 64% of Americans agreed that unions were necessary to protect working people. So the attitudes toward unions are just not as clear as traditional media would have us believe.
Unions also suffered a defeat at the Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee despite Volkswagen’s tacit approval and Germany’s success working with unions. From http://www.remappingdebate.org/, “In 2010, over 5.5 million cars were produced in Germany, twice the 2.7 million built in the United States. Average compensation (a figure including wages and employer-paid benefits) for autoworkers in Germany was 48.97 Euros per hour ($67.14 US), while compensation for auto work in the United States averaged $33.77 per hour, or about half as much as in Germany, all according to 2007 data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. For Germany-based auto producers, the U.S. is a low-wage country.”
Bruce Rauner, governor-elect of Illinois, offered “right to work” zone as part of his campaign platform. Right to work is, of course, the right to work for less! So anti-union policy (enforced and reinforced by a public relations onslaught regarding global competition) actually promotes the race to the bottom, not the race to the top as Germany’s policies promote.
Union successes are rarely offered as news, like when the Teamsters won bargaining rights for 7600 workers at Continental Airlines and it only rated a small non-bylined story in the Business Section of the New York Times while being ignored by other national media. Yet, if we want to reverse the trend of wealth gravitating to the top, unions may be the fastest and easier route there.