Corporate Gluttony has Ruined the American Workforce

This is a fictitious examination of my Uncle Sammy’s career. He was the pillar of strength and financial stability to his family and a contributor, on many levels to his community, as a whole.

 

My Uncle Sammy had a stellar career working for the Freedom Mutual Insurance Company. A mutual company basically means it is owned by the policyholders. Uncle Sammy started in the mailroom, fresh out of school. He worked hard, went to college at night and eventually started a progression of promotions. My uncle went to work early each day and stayed late each night and spent many Saturdays at the office. He was a team player and followed all of the company rules. Sammy felt secure with his employer and his employer viewed him as an asset and valued employee. Eventually he married, started a family, bought a new automobile, took family vacations and had a new home built. He was the epitome of a strong work ethic and company loyalty.

 

Freedom Mutual had infused a local economy by providing several hundred jobs. Restaurants, dry cleaners, department stores, clothing stores, specialty shops, grocery stores, real estate companies, car dealerships, gas stations, an excellent school system, the medical community and service stations all prospered and expanded because of a vibrant economy. The county, surrounding towns and villages operated with balanced budgets, while maintaining a first-rate infrastructure and top-notch police and fire services. Interestingly, the other anchor companies in Uncle Sammy’s area also treated their employees much like Freedom Mutual. Education, training and experience meant much more than words. Workers were valued and in order to retain their prized people, companies offered up a smorgasbord of incentives, cost of living increases, merit based promotions, employee associations, company sponsored educational assistance, low cost health insurance and just as importantly, company associates were treated with dignity and respect.

 

The crevasse in the glacier was forming. It split the area in half. The moral compass of fairness was broken. North was south and east became west as equality began to spin out of control. The climate of seeing wage earners as colleagues became clouded in a smog of industrial, deregulated passionate gluttony. Subordinates of a company were no longer observed as individuals. Now they were wage slaves and the corporations were reborn, with supreme assistance, as people.

 

Uncle Sammy watched helplessly as Freedom Mutual, looking for instant monetary gratification, changed to a stock company and before long Freedom Mutual was taken over by a foreign insurance company and it no longer existed. Experience, training and education didn’t mean what it used to. The seasoned, well paid worker bees were let go and the outsourcing of services commenced. Sadly, the same atmosphere of a nor’easter blew through the entire business environment and an ice age of stagnation for the masses had set in. Yet, on top of every ice berg floating in the frigid business climate, thermal blankets of astronomical proportions were spread out to warm the surface for the construction of ice castles which housed the barons, thereby giving them superior scenery of the Inuit working class below.

 

My Uncle Sammy doesn’t work for the insurance company anymore. They laid him off. He also doesn’t have a new car or even a house. They are all gone and now my poor uncle….the man who played by the rules and who worked long, arduous, days and hours, was still working the same way. The difference is he did it with two minimum wage jobs, no benefits, no health insurance, no paid vacations and no acknowledgement of respect for who he was as an employee. I’ve lost my Uncle Sammy. The great divide turned him into a broke and broken man.

 

With the furloughs of thousands, not just from the insurance company, but also from manufacturing companies and other corporations, the county, towns and villages started to implode. The onset of home foreclosures and a shrinking labor force brought with it a heterogeneous collection of doom and gloom problems. Mom and pop businesses shuttered their doors and windows. Teachers lost jobs as schools closed. Roads were left in disrepair, bridges deemed unsafe to cross, parks closed, health insurance coverage became unaffordable, taxes kept rising, police and fire departments saw major cuts in staff, food prices continued to soar as a blizzard of company and corporate overindulgence swirled around the rest of us offering zero visibility of hope for the future.

 

The people (corporations) claim there is class warfare occurring. They are absolutely correct in that statement. The class warfare and income discrepancies were perpetrated upon the real people and it is time the people stood up to the mega-conglomerates and take back our jobs, our country, close the gap between rich, poor and middle class and more importantly, regain our dignity. How did we let this happen?

 

Oh, and my Uncle Sammy? Well, as I mentioned, he was a broke and broken man and he didn’t have medical insurance anymore, so death was imminent. Upon learning of his fate the audience cheered during a Republican debate and it sickened me. I’m not part of the 1%-2% who are satisfied with our current socioeconomic affairs….are you? If you are, then all I can say is “Rest in peace Uncle Sammy, because our country is lost to the corporate people and it is time to light the candles at the altar of bygone decency and fairness in the workplace.”

 

Written By: Dennis L. Page

How Did I Become the Old One

The question is so simplistic and the answer is somewhat involved. One day I was a child and the next day I asked, “How did I get to be the old one?” Growing up I knew my great grandfather on my mother’s side of the family, both of my great grandparents on my father’s side, grandparents, great uncles and aunts, uncles and aunts and numerous cousins. We weren’t necessarily a large family, but we were big enough where I had a difficult time remembering names and relations.

Unfortunately, I was an only child. For those of you who had siblings that statement alone most likely causes pause to fantasize about not sharing toys, clothes, bedrooms and most importantly affection from parents and family members. However, from my perspective, it would have been heaven sent if there were brothers or sisters to share the spotlight with.

“We’re going with your grandmother to visit Aunt Flossy and Uncle Jim honey, so hurry up and get ready,” would be my mother’s command.  “Let’s get going, your grandmother and I are going shopping,” which, at times, involved me sitting there like a boy in detention, while the two ladies I loved most were busily being fitted for brassieres. “Oh please don’t let any of my schoolmates see me here,” would be the screaming voice in my head. I was hauled off to the local smoke filled fire stations, Elks Clubs or churches to sit and listen to the din of “I 19 – B6 – O66,” during horrid, long and monotonous bingo games. If only I had brothers and sisters they could have taken my spot, while I made excuses to play ball, have a sleepover at my friend’s house, and go to the movies or a host of other options that didn’t involve me hanging out with the family all of the time.

As a youngster, we didn’t have computers, video games, DVDs, CDs, cell phones, or any of the myriad of electronic distractions that abound in the world today. When the family went for a ride in the car our time was spent in conversation, sightseeing or playing road trip games. Even FM radio didn’t come on the scene until the 1960s. We sat around a dinning room table with relatives and played penny ante Rummy or Jacks or Better poker. We discussed things. We knew each other. We above all, loved each other. Yet, as a child this could all be so boring! It really wasn’t that bad because at one house there would be homemade donuts served, another grandmother would make southern style fried chicken, a great aunt pan fried fresh water perch, another made apple butter and another relative would play the banjo. I lived a childhood filled with people interacting with other people.

My God, I can vividly still see and smell the room my grandmother was in as she sipped her coffee (sometimes it was from the day before), a Viceroy cigarette in her right hand, smiling at me with all the love the world could hold as we chatted the hours away, all the time figuring out her jigsaw puzzle. Her husband, who I called “Pop,” was a Norwegian immigrant, but a wordsmith of wordsmiths. Although he spoke in broken English he also knew proper grammar and heaven help the poor soul that bastardized a word in his presence. His concrete exterior intimidated the strongest, however, if you sat, listened, observed and talked, one soon learned that Pop’s heart was putty and deep down inside he really was an old softy.

One by one the pillars of the encircled coliseum which defined my life started to crumble and fall. As if the Pearly Gates were having a grand opening my family started to form a line. By natural progression, first to leave were my great grandparents, followed by my grandparents. Sadly, but surely my great aunts, uncles, aunts and uncles and ultimately my parents all died. Gone were the smiles, conversations, card games, jokes, story telling and the hugs and kisses. The physical beings who were my role models and mentors have crossed over and each is missed in their own special way.

So it came to pass, one day I awoke and became the “Old One” in the family. I wish I could offer up some sage, worldly advice for the younger family members, but they’re savvy enough to just Google most of life’s questions.

 

Written By: Dennis L. Page

Media and an Era of Lost Professionalism

A caveat to this article is merely an acknowledgement I am not a journalist. Quite frankly, I am probably more of a “hack” as a writer, rather than one who wears past credentialed accomplishments on their sleeve. However, I am a keen observer of my surroundings; the rise and fall of tides (metaphorically), our political climate and the global warming of the media which has melted away their professionalism and credibility. No longer revered are reporters, news anchors or basically any member of the 21st century media and to me it is the result of a myriad of problems encompassing their respective employers.

 

While growing up and into my adulthood I was fortunate enough to have observed the uncontestable, hard hitting and irrefutable likes of Chet Huntley, David Brinkley, John Cameron Swayze, Edward R. Murrow, John Charles Daly, Walter Cronkite, Peter Jennings, John Chancellor, Roger Mudd, Mike Wallace, Tom Brokaw and Dan Rather. The journalists, reporters and news anchors of yore communicated information in an intelligent, reliable, trustworthy and non-gossipy manner. There was continuity in the separation of fact from fiction and the public was unaware of the communicators’ political affiliations or personal feeling regarding the topics at hand. These professionals were the “Switzerland” of reporting events and current affairs.

 

CBS newsman Walter Cronkite, long hailed as the “most trusted man in America,” made a commentary, on air, after a 1968 visit to Vietnam in which he stated, in part, “But it is increasingly clear to this reporter that the only rational way out then will be to negotiate, not as victors, but as an honorable people who lived up to their pledge to defend democracy, and did the best they could.” History shows after Mr. Cronkite’s editorial, President Lyndon Johnson declared, “If I’ve lost Cronkite, I’ve lost Middle America.” Subsequently, a new form of journalism was born.

 

Ted Turner also changed the scenery of news when he built his new stadium to launch CNN. We were spellbound with the idea of exposing us to chronicled, worldwide reports 24 hours per day, 7 days per week. Competing networks were running in the backfield, trying to catch the pop fly ball Ted had hit. The bases were soon loaded with ABC, NBC, CBS, MSNBC, FOX and local cable affiliates. The crowd was and is growing restless during the extra innings of information overload. All the teams involved seem to be using the same playbook on the pitches thrown. Managers and owners are throwing the same fast balls of headline bleeps, which ultimately miss the strike zone more often than not. The jerseys worn may be different, but the final score is a tie and the fans leave the park wondering why they even bothered to go in the first place. Another disappointing season comes to an end.

 

It is gut wrenching torment for news hounds like myself to be inundated with stories of Lindsay Lohan, the breakup of Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore, Miss Piggy and Kermit, the hedonistic cast of Jersey Shore or Desperate Housewives, who was voted off Dancing with the Stars, the Kardashians, celebrity weddings and so on and so forth. In what appears to be a concerted effort, the networks regurgitate the same nauseating, nonsensical dribble, in a half  hearted effort to fill their respective time slots with shallow, cheap reporting.

 

News Corp. owns Fox and 27 other television stations in the United States, along with cable and satellite television stations all over the world. Space prevents me from listing all of News Corp. holdings, but when it comes to publishing they own more than 150 newspapers, numerous magazines and even a publishing company. CBS has 30 television stations and their cable interests are vast, spanning from Showtime to the Movie Channel. Then add Simon and Schuster Publishing and 130 radio stations and you begin to see how full their portfolio is. Walt Disney takes the helm as captain of ABC, ABC News, the ESPN franchise, the History Channel, the Lifetime Network, to name a few and in excess of  226 affiliated television stations reaching nearly 99% of all U.S. households. They also own Citadel Broadcasting that operates 227 radio stations in the United States. In addition to their rich holdings are several magazine and book companies. Although General Electric still has an ownership of 49 % share holding in NBC –Universal, Comcast is now the majority stockholder. There are 26 television stations and 46 affiliate stations they operate.

 

Being armed and informed with the above information draws me to one conclusion; Real, down to earth, core investigative reporting has been pushed aside in order to promote the other interests of the networks, thereby plugging stories that bring in better stock returns to their shareholders. If I am wrong, please let me know where I erred.

 

In the meantime, I will continue my quest for truth in reporting, without a hidden agenda. I watch at least 5 different TV news networks, listen to numerous radio pundits and read several newspapers on a weekly basis, not to mention all of the email alerts I receive. I want to be informed and learn something new on a daily basis and seriously; it doesn’t come from “WINNING” with highlights of Charlie Sheen,

 

Written By: Dennis L. Page

 

 

J. Edgar Hoover: The day the FBI hired me

In 1924 J. Edgar Hoover was named Director of the Bureau of Investigation which changed names in 1935 and became the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). As Director, Mr. Hoover had positioned himself into one of the most powerful, influential, covert occupations in America. He was a mystery to his critics and someone to be feared if you were on the wrong side of the law….Hoover’s Law, at times.

 

As a child and with limited access to television, I along with many of my peers was thrilled when the TV show “The Untouchables” came on the scene in 1959. The magnificent actor of movies, Robert Stack starred in the series as none other than Eliot Ness. The interminable efforts of pursuit against gangsters and mobsters made Mr. Ness the poster boy of the FBI and certainly an iconic hero to my friends and me. The show aired 118 episodes before finally going off the small screen in 1963. However, by the time ABC had taken a “Tommy gun” to “The Untouchables” I was hooked that good always beats out evil. To instill this code of ethics even more, my mother had taken me on a trip to Washington, D.C. – headquarters of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. As a 9 year old my eyes were as big as silver dollars during our tour of this magnificent institution. A potpourri of confiscated weaponry was proudly on display for all to see and then we went to the indoor gun range. A precursor to the shooting exhibition was a short talk on how agents only shoot to kill. Nope, no wounding of criminals if the FBI had to fire their revolvers. Then the demonstration of marksmanship began as the life sized targets were riddled with bullets in the kill zone. “Okay, I’m only nine, but sign me up,” were the words I wanted to shout.

 

Growing up I observed America losing her innocence. The unfolding events were depicted in newsreels and explained through the perceptiveness of Walter Cronkite. It was horrifying when police dogs were unleashed to attack protesters in Alabama during desegregation. I watched adults sob at the assassinations of John F. Kennedy, Dr. Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy, along with witnessing the deaths of over 50,000 U.S. military casualties in Vietnam.

 

Through it all I matured, got married and started my career. I also wrote a letter to my childhood hero J. Edgar Hoover. I conveyed my admiration to his organization as I showered the Director in accolades and wonderment surrounding his life. Several months passed and I had forgotten about my tribute letter until exiting my car after work one evening when my landlord stopped me and asked, “Are you in trouble Dennis?” “No,” I relied, “Why are you asking me that?” Apparently two men in suits had stopped by the landlord’s office with a host of questions about me and my character. Other people had called me mentioning the same experience and still I was clueless, until the letter arrived.

 

The envelope was addressed to me, but it was the return address, FBI Headquarters, 935 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Washington, D.C. that had my hands shaking as I tore it open to see the prize inside. I was instructed to telephone the local office of the FBI and ask to speak with Mr. Quick. Room 313 in the old Post Office at Clinton Square, Syracuse New York is where our meeting would take place. I nervously entered Room 313 and found an empty office with only one desk. However, a door to an adjoining room opened almost immediately and Mr. Quick invited me in.

 

“The reason you are here Dennis,” the federal agent began, “is because Mr. Hoover received the letter you wrote him and he was so impressed he wanted to offer you a job with the FBI.”  Oh dear God I nearly fell out of my wooden chair. It was a fingerprint technician job and I was furnished with the government graduated pay scale and when classes would begin. The position was actually in the headquarters of the FBI. Like a greyhound chasing a rabbit I flew home with the news to share with my wife. She did not follow my enthusiasm and was quick to point out we were newlyweds and couldn’t afford to live in Washington. My brain knew she was correct, but my heart was heavy with disappointment.

 

When I informed Mr. Quick of my dilemma he immediately invited my wife and me back to his office, whereupon he offered her a job as well. We were given the extensive background paperwork to fill out and sent on our way. I diligently filled in all of the information about my parents, grandparents and organizations any of us belonged to. My wife, for whatever her reasons, refused to complete her paperwork and my career with the FBI never came to fruition.

 

I have fought my own version of good versus evil. I stand up to anyone who is not treating others properly. I fight for equality in all aspects of life. My career involved adjudicating claims for disability fraud, suicides, homicides and accidental deaths. I stand up for those whose voice isn’t as strong as mine. Even yesterday I scolded a man in a bakery after he continually slapped his hand on the counter for service and then berated the young girl who waited on him. He was rude and his actions unacceptable and I told him this to his face.

 

Yes, J. Edgar Hoover, Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation hired me and that fact I will always be proud of.

Misguided Morality in American Politics

“In God we trust” is clearly labeled on U.S. coins. In the Pledge of Allegiance we proudly proclaim in part, “One nation under God.” As Americans we adore Irving Berlin’s patriotic song “God Bless America.” Although we advocate the separation of church and state, in reality the two are intertwined. How many times do we say, “For the love of God and country?”

 

Let’s start by looking at the pro life movement and their attempt to reverse Roe v Wade. On its face “Pro life” sounds morally honorable. However, the majority should not be forced to swallow what people with tunnel vision surrounding their religious beliefs wish to impose on a society. A woman is raped or a child sexually molested and these “Right to lifers” would rather the victims be traumatized even more by requiring their attacker’s baby to be carried full term? Where is the morality in that decision?

 

Is it morally correct to embrace capital punishment? How many innocent people have been executed because of over zealous prosecutors and detectives who forced a confession through long, tiresome and aggressive questioning and then once a conviction has been rendered, refuse to look at new DNA evidence? Is this viewpoint ethical and moral? In fairness though, the topic of capital punishment is addressed through state laws and not the federal government and personally, I think that is a smart move.

 

When it comes to health care, ask yourself if all life is sacred and then pick your political side of the aisle regarding health care reform. Each individual and family has their own set of circumstance in life. Some hard working folks have either lost their health insurance coverage, or because the cost is so outrageously prohibitive they can no longer afford to keep it. Then there are those who are unemployed and most certainly they don’t carry health insurance. Accordingly, if your political views are pro life, then naturally, you would agree that all people should receive the same medical treatment. Can one argue it is morally correct to not value all humans as equals?  Is it ethical to medically treat one ailing child and not another because of a lack of insurance?

 

Businesses neither have the desire nor the motivation to self regulate their respective industries. All one need do is look at our polluted lakes, streams, wells, rivers, soil and forests to know that lax regulations do not work for the betterment of our country. Are company profits over the health and safety of the citizenry morally and ethically just?

 

Republican candidates for president most assuredly will not be elected to the highest office of the land without the endorsement of the evangelical conservative right. God’s values (according to their interpretation) wrapped in the American flag is what really stirs the passions in this group. With that in mind, it is reassuring to know that Michele Bachmann, Rick Perry and Herman Cain have all been “Called by God,” to run for president. I feel so blessed knowing these fine people have had a calling. Okay, so there was a little sarcasm in my comment.

 

There are many who want only marriage between a man and a woman recognized as legal, citing the Bible’s teachings. If we want to use their logic then in reality marriage would be between a man and several women because numerous wives are mentioned throughout the Bible.

 

I am a Christian, having been raised Protestant. However, my religious beliefs in no way trump the beliefs of any other group or sect. I was raised to believe we are all equal and all entitled to be treated with dignity and respect no matter what your sexual preference, religion, skin color, nationality or socioeconomic circumstance.

 

The Tea Party and right wing movement are first to claim they do not want judges legislating from the bench, yet it is a right wing Supreme Court that legislates in their favor. After all, it is this same court that declared corporations as people in order to tip the scale of election fairness in the direction of Wall Street, banks, the ultra wealthy and big business. Dear God, corporations are run with only one main emphasis and that is profit. Excessive profit is gluttony. Corporate America is not moral America and that statement you can take to the bank. Oops, correction. Please take it to the credit union instead.

 

Written By: Dennis L. Page

 

Herman Cain the Angry Parent

Is it just me or do others feel as though we are constantly being scolded by Herman Cain? “What part of no don’t you understand?” sounds like something from an angry parent lecturing their young child on something they have done wrong. Well, here’s a news flash Mr. Cain….the voting public are adults who are merely seeking a viable and strong candidate for president and not a cantankerous, grumpy and pugnacious parent in their sixties talking down to the rest of us.

“Excuse me” spoken in a condescending manner, coupled with thumb pressed to index finger and stir in “end of story” and now you have served up a steaming pot of crab legs ready to crack open. A reporter simply inquires if they may ask a question. A snappish Mr. Cain curtly replies “no!” “Don’t even go there” barks the candidate. “I’m not going to talk about that anymore,” he again replies in a bristling and exasperated tone to news reporters’ questions. After all, Herman apparently is of the impression he is the older alpha male in the room. He has removed the belt from his pants and is waiting to strike and give anyone a whipping if they dare question his authority. Quite frankly, this man scares the living daylights out of me.

There is an old saying that respect is earned and not given away. Being ornery and argumentative prove to me that Cain is definitely not ready for the White House. Like so many others in the race to be a leader of this country Herman Cain has certainly exhibited his share of faux pas along the campaign trail. He likens his lack of foreign policy to his days at Godfather’s and learning how to make pizza. Is he Serious? Then there is the comment about China wanting to have nuclear weapons. Hello Mr. Cain I have a news bulletin for you. China has had nuclear weapons since 1964. Hasn’t he read any newspapers in the last 47 years?

When addressing immigration Cain being ever so belligerent barks that he would build a 20 foot. high fence around our borders with electrified barbed wire and a sign reading “it can kill you.” The next day we were all chastised as Americans who had lost their sense of humor because he was obviously joking. Wow, if that is Herman’s idea of a joke then let me be the first to build a fence to keep him away from me.

Something very troubling about the sexual harassment case and an issue the media really hasn’t handled too clearly is the fact a settlement was made with one of the alleged victims. To me this is representative of Cain’s hand (no pun intended) in the settled lawsuit.

Herman Cain has been married for 43 years, has three children and grandchildren and yet I haven’t even seen a picture of any of them, let alone witness them on the campaign trail. Maybe the reason we don’t see any family members is because they refuse to be around the smoking campaign manager. I’m being facetious, of course, but come on was that an advertisement for Cain or RJ Reynolds?

Personally, I will not vote for a seething, antagonistic and pontificating candidate for president. No Mr. Cain, I am not your child and you certainly are not in a position to discount questions from an inquiring nation regarding the type of character you really are.