fresh voices from the front lines of change







Michelle Obama’s speech last night got rave reviews. (If you didn’t see it, you can watch it here.) It was a very well written and well-delivered speech, personal and yet political, subtly showing the differences between the Obama worldview and the Romney worldview.

Sadly, they aren’t that different in some respects:

Last night at the Democratic convention, Michelle Obama defined “the very best of the American spirit” as “teachers in a near-bankrupt school district who vowed to keep teaching without pay.”

That’s actually not the best of America. It’s desperation. I get what she was saying, but it’s a sad comment on our time that (for different reasons) both parties embrace the “spirit” of teachers working for free.

The Republicans talked a lot last week about the US turning into Greece. In this way, we already have. The bankers and the government are going to take it out of the hides of the workers:

Greece’s international lenders have suggested measures including increasing the maximum working week to six days.

It is one of several unofficial proposals to liberalise the labour market and increase government revenue, contained in a paper seen by the BBC.

The proposals were not included in the original bailout agreement signed with the Greek government.

Inspectors from the EU, IMF and European Central Bank, known as the troika, are due in Greece this week.

They are writing a report, due in October, that will decide whether Greece receives its next instalment of bailout funds.

Greece needs the next payment of 31.5bn euros ($39.6bn; £24.9bn) to allow it to continue servicing its debts.

Proposals in the document from the troika included:

Setting a single rate statutory minimum wage
Reducing regulatory burdens
Making work schedules more flexible
Setting a minimum daily rest of 11 hours
Eliminating restrictions on the minimum and maximum time between morning and afternoon shifts.

The best of the human spirit is not being forced to work yourself into an early grave, whether it’s here or in Greece. There was too much extolling of the American worker’s willingness to work more hours for less pay in various speeches last night. As long as 1%ers like Mitt and Ann Romney are spending millions for dressage horses that’s just not acceptable.

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