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Author: Subject: Po' Folks

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  posted on 5/3/2004 at 09:40 AM
Making this it's own thread, maybe too late..

Rogue: Maybe I phrased that wrong? When I said that the poverty line is ridiculously low, I meant that it could be raised significantly (say, to $25-30K a year for a family of 4) and people would still be struggling. Whereas right now, the cutoff seems really low to me at $18K. I think by keeping it so low they can say "look, only x% of our population is under the poverty level." When if the poverty level were even slightly higher, a much larger percentage of the population would be considered poor. And you're right, compared to what people are forced to live on in other countries, our level of poverty seems insignificant. But I still think with so many "haves" in this country, we should take care of the have-nots (including worldwide) as best we can. Doing so creates a more productive society and lowers the crime rate, besides just being the nice thing to do.

Anya: It's not about me proving you right or wrong, because whether you think poor people deserve cuts/welfare or not is your opinion. I am only saying that you may want to make sure you really understand what people go through before making up your mind. And you certainly should try to make sure you know what you're talking about before you go off making sweeping statements about any group of people. So far you don't have me convinced. Again, I fail to see what any of this has to do with quotas or race.

Just because some people (including your teacher, or whoever) raise up in class by working hard doesn't mean it is that simple for everyone. In fact, I'm guessing by your posts that you most likely only encounter poor people who have worked their way up. That excludes, of course all the "bums" who are on welfare and probably spending all their money on alcohol because they have an addiction. It also excludes the poor people who *are* working very hard and still finding it difficult to advance financially.

I'm all about personal responsibility, but you also have to understand that sometimes things happen that fall outside the scope of a person's actions. And people fuck up occasionally, but that doesn't mean they should have to live in squallor. People who can help should try to get them back on their feet...even if it means (gasp!) paying a little extra in taxes.

 

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  posted on 5/3/2004 at 10:09 AM
Kira: You didn't phrase it incorrectly at all, I totally agree with you. I actually think that the government should determine what a realistic living wage is and make sure that every working person or family unit is at or above that level. That and I would like to see more companies distribute profits to their employees in addition to, or instead of their stockholders. I just wanted to point out that the underpayment and exploitation of the poor doesn't stop at our borders and in fact our companies are even worse to the citizens of other nations.

http://www.livingwagecampaign.org/wagelevel.php

 

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  posted on 5/3/2004 at 10:36 AM
I also think that we have individual as well as collective responsibilities, that as a society we have the obligation to take care of those who are not getting enough despite trying, but that each individual has the obligation to try. I have no sympathy for people like an ex-coworker of mine who wouldn't marry his girlfriend because she would lose welfare and they were collecting from three counties for the same kid while she sat around all day. I also have no sympathy for the guy that drives an Escalade and tries to hide his income so he can avoid paying a few grand into the system so the system could help the genuinely needy. Both hoarders and leeches are detrimental parasites to the system, but in different ways. Responsibility, collective or individual, is not popular these days though, as evidenced by the McDonalds coffee lawsuit and numerous other examples.
 

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  posted on 5/3/2004 at 10:48 AM
Kira I agree with your statements... but raising the line won't make any real difference... I tire of people that are not in the situation thinkin that it just takes hard work to get out... sometimes... when they are lucky it can happen... but it rarely works...

Feral

 

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  posted on 5/3/2004 at 11:22 AM
Feral: Sure, raising the poverty line wouldn't have a direct effect on the impoverished. But since the U.S. is so image conscious politically I think it would really hurt our national ego to have to say almost 50% of our population is below the poverty line.

Just to keep on stirring the pot:

1998 - Median net worth of an white person in America = $81,700
1998 - Median net worth of a Hispanic person in America = $3,000

http://www.inequality.org/factsfr.html

Sorry, worker's rights and weatlh distribution are extremely interesting/important topics to me, and often completely overlooked in the media.

 

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  posted on 5/3/2004 at 11:24 AM
Whoops, I swear I logged in!

 

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  posted on 5/3/2004 at 12:22 PM
Feral, saying that it just takes hard work is an oversimplification, but I think it does take considerable effort of some kind plus the presence of some opportunity (which can be created on occasion) plus the willingness and ability to sieze opportunity when it arises.
Ten years ago, I lifted 60,000lbs (weight, not money) a day by hand in a warehouse just to make maybe $20k with four children and a single income. I attended school and took a shot at every opportunity I could. I finally got laid off from there and called back by the warehouse office in the same week, about an internal position for which I had applied. In another week, I was working again with a substantial pay cut but in the office as a mainframe operator trainee. I have played that up into jobs doing software development work, software configuration management, and other descriptions that all basically mean "professional slacker". There was luck involved, to be sure, but I had to put myself out there and do things like learn mainframe in four months and teach myself Java and XML/XSL while getting paid to program it. Luck alone is not enough, unless you win Powerball or something, and hard work alone will only keep you treading water. I agree with you, but I still think that effort is key.

 

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  posted on 5/3/2004 at 12:22 PM
Kira, you really should go out and buy "the redneck manifesto" by Jim Goad, not only is it a hillariously angry and indignant history of "white trash" and "race issues", but he goes seriously in depth into "class descrimination" and poverty, and how the two coincide. One section goes into how if we were to compare the average bluecollar american wage of today and what it costs to live, versus the average bluecollar american wage and cost of living from 20 years ago, it equals out to working something like 10hrs extra a week at three dollars LESS an hour.

Plus what really irks me is when companies do "cutbacks", ie fire a load of people to "save money". If most companies that needed to "save money" cut their CEO's income by 2%, TWO PERCENT, most of the time they wouldn't have the need to lay off employees.

I don't know where this thread came from, but it's an excellent discussion topic if you ask me.

 

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  posted on 5/3/2004 at 12:31 PM
Bettie, the layoff I mentioned in my post...it was done entirely to bump the stock price so the CEO could cash out and retire. They kept most of the people working on-call so they could decrease headcount on paper and brought back all of them within a few months when the CEO's stock sales were done.
 

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  posted on 5/3/2004 at 02:57 PM
Rogue: A good point... I do the same thing... every posting is applied for... I may have an opportunity comin up... but the reason I am against the statement because it IS simplified... and I get so tired of people simplifying things till they loose and meaning...

 

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  posted on 5/3/2004 at 04:50 PM
I can't say much here (yet) that hasn't already been touched upon (and very well, I might add) by others, but I just wanted to say how refreshing it is to hear people intelligently and realistically discussing the problem. Kudos!

I know that I have mentioned elsewhere that a large portion of this situation stems directly from the internalization of very, very hurtful values. Whether we want to blame human nature for that (I am not inclined to; society-wide avarice/apathy about the condition of others seems to be a more recent phenom and seems to coincide with a "disposable" mentality... up to and including one's fellows) or the media (which is where I am at with it), makes little difference. It is absolutely unsustainable. To continue to prop up the apex of the pyramid (if one wants to think of a minority leisure class as an apex) at the expense of a foundation is a recipe for disaster. Also, I feel our expectations about what constitutes "profit" and how much we can reasonably expect need to be re-evaluated. In the words of David Suzuki, "Unlimited growth is the creed of the cancer cell."

~M.

 

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  posted on 6/3/2004 at 02:33 AM
I happen to know from experience that it takes two people, working full-time and overtime, making an average of $10 an hour, to support a family of three, a one bedroom apartment, payments on a modest but reliable vehicle, and child support for two children. This is without childcare, and with extremely minimal luxury expenses.

I've been on the dole before, and I've received state and town aid and medicaid in my time. Also benefits from charitable organizations. Personally, I hated it. I would much rather work my tail off and do it myself, like I do now.

However, I know something's wrong when two children have to move from friend's home to family's home, because their lazy mother won't work, and because their hard working father and step-mother can't afford a large enough home no matter how hard they work. I don't want help for me - I'm doing fine. I just want to see those kids get a decent, stable home. Preferably with us, not with their neglectful mother and semi-abusive step-father (from all I've heard).

I don't pretend to know what should be done politically about the situation, or even if something SHOULD be done politically. It's easy to say, give us more money, but that money has to come from someplace, and it seems too easy to say, just take it from the rich. I'll have to think about it some more, not that it matters. Even if I come to a conclusion, it won't change anything.

 

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  posted on 6/3/2004 at 04:58 AM
I should probably save myself the aneurism from writing this, but hell, I'm on a ski trip, I don't ski, and I just paid more than my fair share to use a pc for a while, so buckle up people cause your going for a ride.

Most of this has to do with the social welfare system. I see lots of people quoting excellent sources in reference to what was posted early. I also went back and read over the rather disturbing remarks about Hispanics getting more then their fair share. So here we come to my two cents.

I actually spent the two years before coming to Korea working in Social Service and working with those who were in need of, applying for, or trying to qualify for public aid. I spent a lot of time working with lots of families, many immigrant Hispanic families, and other immigrants, as well as those of every other race, shape, color and creed, and here is what I can say with absolutely certainty.

First of all, during the Clinton Administration a program was begun to start phasing people off of social service programs. If you did not qualify for Social Security and were otherwise able bodied, then you had a clock of time in which to make yourself completely independent of welfare. You may have heard of it as welfare to work. (pro view: http://www.issues2000.org/Celeb/Bill_Clinton_Welfare_+_Pove rty.htm con view: http://www.greens.org/s-r/12/12-15.html) The program itself is somewhat sound, the problem is that finding jobs and getting those who have been on welfare for years, or those who are newly immigrated to the country and must work illegally to work can be difficult.

Regardless, there is a time-line for which you can draw welfare, and once that time-line has expired you could be finding yourself seriously SOL, as many of the families I worked with in Chicago were coming to realize back in 2002 when there clocks were about to run out.

As for the welfare program itself, the perks are not so glamorous.

Lets first talk about Medicare. In a city like Chicago if you are on Medicare, Medicaid, or any other sponsored health care program, if you qualify, than you will be referred to Cook County Hospital for treatment. I had the good fortune to be able to spend a hot summer day in the gynecology ward with about 300 black and Hispanic women waiting to be served. There were about 600 people total crammed into the waiting room, around 200 kids wandering around screaming in the heat, and not enough chairs for anyone, so many of us were sitting on the floor. There was no air conditioning but there was a large metal fan in one corner to move the air. The wait was between 4 and 5 hours to see the doctor. Once you got in to see the doctor you were taken to a line of chairs that stretched out in both directions. Everyone could see you, there was no privacy. The doctors treated the patients like cattle, and that is exactly what the patients were, they were cattle being shepherded in because they could afford no better.

And this was just gynecology, that scene was taking place all over the various floors of the hospital. Perhaps Medicare seems glamorous, but really, it's the most degrading and humiliating way to receive service, and I know that from personal experience, I got to sit on the floor and be part of it, with all those other women. And at the end of the day, you know how I felt, humiliated and completely stripped of my humanity.

There is a look that those who must survive by using welfare have, and it is a look I can recognize. It is a look of being removed from what is basically and essentially human. It angers me to see the response given to those who use food stamps in a store, to see the treatment of those who must subsist on welfare, because it is degrading. Are there those who enjoy receiving welfare? Potentially, but in my working experience with those who were so far below the poverty line that food pantries, holiday baskets, and Medicare was a way of life, I never saw a single soul that I worked with who had joy shining in their eyes.

So, there are my two cents. Say what you will but please don't bash the poor, what is taken away is far more than can ever be given back with a tax incentive.

 

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  posted on 6/3/2004 at 07:20 AM
That domkitten for pointing out the hard and horrible fact that the rest of us were dancing around. To be that poor is to be treated as less than human, and over time, you come to believe it yourself. If you have no hope, no faith in yourself, you are truely poor. And getting $1600 (the max amount where i am for a single person) is not going to change that state of hopelessness.

Some of you may be saying "wow, 1600? that is buckets! I want that much to do nothing!". I say go for it. go down and apply, fill out the 200 pages of paperwork at 7 different offices spaced around your county. But remember take the bus, since you will probably have to give up that car your parents gave you. wait the three months to get rejected and then refile your claim. go to the doctors visits they send you to and wait all day to see someone that KNOWS you are lying. spend your days waiting in the offices with hard chairs waiting for the chance to talk to your case worker, or in most cases to find out WHO your case worker is now. And once you get your check, be ready to do it all again in 6 months when some rule changes.

sit there with all the other people who are getting paid to do "nothing". Go to the "job training" classes. Be ready to spend the whole day learning where the "a" button is on the keyboard. Go to all the interviews they make you go to. See the eyes of the interviewer. Now be prepared to see them waiting at your front door to inspect your house. Go to the manditory money management classes, lifestyle management classes, and compliance education classes.

Now ask yourself why they do drugs. ask yourself why they seem so unhappy. ask yourself where all your freetime went. Is it any wonder that so many people on the dole break laws?

these people work illegally because they have to, not because they want to. they steal because they have no access to money any other way (sligtht exageration but not by much). They do drugs not because it is a thrill, but because it numbs the fear, desperation, and pain. I am always suprised that more of them dont sell thier ass for beer money.

I knew a guy growing up. actually i knew a bunch of them, but let me talk about just one here, a "success" story. he grew up on the dole. That means that he was hungry, very cold all winter, too hot all summer, badly dresses, and EVERYONE knew that he was on the the dole. so the teachers didnt try to get him to learn anything (whats the point since welfare kids arent going anywhere and are (perception) too dumb to learn). he got in trouble in school more, not because he did more "bad" stuff, but because he was a good scapegoat. He commited a major crime when he was 20 so that he could go to jail. he wanted the rehab help, education assistance, and job training. He couldnt get that outside of jail. so he picked a crime that would put him in for 5 years and did it then stood there til he was caught.

You might think he was stupid, to go to jail on purpose and a loser. Well he wasnt. He was one of the smarter people that i knew in my "smart kids" classes. Its hard to get scholarships and college offers when you dont have a permenant address. Its hard to make it to school when you are living on the streets (his mother lost thier appartment a few times in highschool). its tough to pay attention in class or do your homework when you are worrying about getting your next meal or feeding your younger siblings (in his case 3 younger sisters). so he often missed school or failed to turn in homeowrk. and we all know that means getting your grades lowered.

Well you say, he could have gotten a job and gone to Community college like so many of us do. Sure he could have, and let his sisters starve on the street. he could have gotten a place and let his sisters live with him until the 4 of them got kicked out for having too many people in the house. he could have put his sisters in foster-care. He tried all those, and that is why he waited until he was 20 to go to jail.

In the end, he went to jail. and got his BA and got accepted to a real school to get his Masters. smart man. He has a PhD now too. He got off the dole, eventually. But at what cost to himself? its strange to me to think he is a 'success" story. he is an ex-con and always will be. He started his career 3 or 4 years late. Most places he works he will always be the first to be suspected when some temp worker starts stealing paperclips. But he "made" it. Just dont ask about his sisters.

 

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  posted on 6/3/2004 at 10:12 AM
I agree with you to an extent on the poor vs. rich thing, Rogue, but I still have that "a lot of them worked their ass off to get that high" echo in the back of my head. I think many of those rich people started off with scratch before rising in the system...at least I hope many of them did. They (or their ancestors) had to start as a worker before becoming a leader. I'm mostly Capitalist though so my position in the big arguement probably affects how I feel. I understand wanting to help the poor...do not agree with it, but I can understand that set of morals. In fact, I actually gave spare change when I came here until I saw the same people purchasing alcohol.

Most European countries are Socialist so I think a lot of you guys probably would like it there better than the US. Then again, I'm probably making an ass out of myself thinking that a lot of you guys oppose Capitalism.

*moved from the other thread*

 

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  posted on 6/3/2004 at 10:26 AM
http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,109386,00.html

http://www.americandaily.com/item/3867

I gave the wrong URL on the previous source. Here's what I was referring to plus a Fox News article. We still have some homeless, but it's not as bad as people dramatise it to be.

I don't think we should get rid of Welfare or the social programs completely, but I think there should be some sort of system where those using the social program has a sort of Debit Card or something...so that people can watch what they buy with it. Then they can catch the abusers and cut them off. That's me, though. I know there are some who do need it, but there has to be a way where it isn't abused.

I might consider visiting a homeless home for community service, if it's near...not sure. I'm interested more in why they're such an issue...being a Capitalist pig and all. *snickers*

Rogue: I know I came off wrong and I apologise for it. There are still minor quotas in the system though, but I think it can be said for almost the whole immigration population (including the less noticable Cuban, Asian, and European ones). People are giving them somewhat more of a sugar-coat. On the other hand, I almost can say that I have more respect for them for the sheer fact that they're willing to work harder with less pay compared to your average American. One of the big bitches I have with it is the fact that people are letting them get away with not speaking (or learning) any "American English"...along with people getting laid off for them. It's unfair to me that most people emmigrating to other countries have to learn those countries' language, yet they can get away with not doing it here (then again, life isn't fair, heh)...if I am wrong about this point it out. I'm aware that a lot of countries are working on bi-lingual (sp?) with the English language, but there are still a lot that do not.

Now I'm not trying to pick on Hispanics just because they're Hispanics, there's many who are US citizens and earned their citizenship...as said before, I'll say this for other forms of illegal immigrants now. I am, though, sick and tired of how certain people exploit them...I think you all seen how that's been done with people letting illegal immigrants (guess I should call them "Foreign Nationals") take the jobs of US citizens without the making of alternatives. In a way it's good for the economy, but at the same time, we need more jobs without losing them to 'cheap labor' or we'll not really have an economy left (since there would be less consumption due to less money). I really just wish someone up there would make it where they earn their citizenship like many other people had.




[Edited on 3/6/2004 by Anya]

 

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  posted on 6/3/2004 at 10:34 AM
they already use debit cards. and get to wait in Russianlike lines to get them refilled every 2 weeks or a month. everything they buy with the cash they are given is monitored (and strangly more money goes to monitoring for "abuses" than goes to dental care)

as for learning a the native language when you move to a new country, well its hard to do. In your case, california, the first, and most lasting Europen language, that was spoken there was Spanish. Spanish was the main language for some 300 years til the gold rush started (roughly) then English moved in. It has been a "spanish" area for some 400+ years and only entered the union in 1850 with no "legal" language. For the record in the 1800's and early 1900's many states were bilingual, not just california. We are a country of immigrants so why would we make other immigrants learn another language when our grandparents refused to?

As for english in other countries, most European nations have populations that speak a non-native language. Some, especially the younger ones (under 40) know 3 or 4 languages. In some countries, its the civil law that you must learn at least 3 well enought to hold conversations and read the newspaper.

and over there, English was only the language of one nation, and often not its main or legal language either. In asia there are major pushs to teach the children English, but not as thier main language, adn why would it be?

English is presently the major trade language in the world. so what. so was french for awhile, and dutch has its place in history there too, as well as spanish and farsi and manderin.

If i am understanding you tho, you are saying that its not "fair" that people move here with an imperfect understanding of English, while when americans move to other places, they have to learn the language there before they go. To give a small and totally incomplete answer to that; americans find it very hard to get refugee status in other countries, while the US does accept some refugees every year from places that dont teach english to all of thier population. When Us citizens go to other countries it tends to be to take up work that is white collar work, not farm work, or other menial labor. Those americans, as one of the jobs skills that they must possess, speak at least some of the language that the other workers will be speaking to get that job. you cant really compare the migration of tech workers and university teachers to impoverished dirt farmers and political refugees.


and are you aware that we have oddles of "illegals" from canada? that they make up almost as big of a group as the semi-legals of hispanics? Just wondering if you had heard about that "problem" as well.

wait tho, why is it so hard to cross borders and work in other countries? why all this border control and people control in the first place? is that some countries dont want to have tooo many people? or that some countries dont want to do what it takes to keep their people and instead make it hard to leave? Is it a fear that all the servants will leave? or that too many will show up?

 

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  posted on 6/3/2004 at 01:10 PM
quote:
http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,109386,00.html

http://www.americandaily.com/item/3867



The first article refutes itself at the end by saying the statistics for living space were comparing rural areas to city areas. Plus, it acts like having a space to live and a car for transportation are huge luxuries. Due to the sprawl in this country, cars are almost necessary except for those living in the very inner city. So if you have a house (no matter how crappy, or how bad the neighborhood/school system) and a car (no matter how crappy or unreliable) you're in GREAT shape! See, you're not really poor at all! Now sit down and shut up and stop complaining.

The second link, again (and I notice that die hard repubnicans/conservatives love to do this) deals with one person cheating the system. So, by logic EVERYONE on welfare must be cheating the system! Free rent in section 8 housing? Jeez, why don't we just put her up at the Hilton! Here's some homework for ya: contact your city and find out what sections are considered section 8. Then go drive around in those neighborhoods and see if you would want to live in them, even for free.

quote:
I have the wrong URL on the previous source. Here's what I was referring to plus a Fox News article. We still have some homeless, but it's not as bad as people dramatise it to be.


Have you not read any of the above posts here, or the excellent articles Meranda_Jade posted awhile back? Of course, it isn't *really* as bad as people dramatise it to be.

quote:

Now I'm not trying to pick on Hispanics just because they're Hispanics, there's many who are US citizens and earned their citizenship...as said before, I'll say this for other forms of illegal immigrants now. I am, though, sick and tired of how certain people exploit them...I think you all seen how that's been done with people letting illegal immigrants (guess I should call them "Foreign Nationals") take the jobs of US citizens without the making of alternatives.



So, you're just picking on illegal immigrants in general? Oh, well...that's *much* better. I shouldn't even have to say this, but you must realize that some people didn't have the luck to be born in a country where they could make a sustainable living? Free from persecution? And not everyone has the resources to immediately obtain citizenship.

And yes, all those illegal immigrants taking our precious jobs...washing dishes, doing manual unskilled laobr, cleaning toilets, running quickie marts. Whatever shall we do to replace those valuable jobs? And we exploit them by paying them 1/4 of what a legal worker would get paid. I know that every friend of mine is just *dying* to break into the custodial industry. Too bad there aren't any jobs there anymore.

quote:

In a way it's good for the economy, but at the same time, we need more jobs without losing them to 'cheap labor' or we'll not really have an economy left (since there would be less consumption due to less money). I really just wish someone up there would make it where they earn their citizenship like many other people had.
[Edited on 3/6/2004 by Anya]


Hey, look! We agree on something. We do need more jobs w/out losing them to cheap labor! But you are blaming the wrong people completely. It's not the fault of the poor, or the illegal immigrants. It's your own beloved capitalists moving jobs that used to be done in the US to cheaper, deregulated places like China or India. Because if you are a die hard capitalist, the bottom line is making money. And the people in those places will work cheaper.

Management: Number of jobs moving overseas by 2015: 288,281
Business: Number of jobs moving overseas by 2015:348,028
Computer: Number of jobs moving overseas by 2015: 472,632
Architecture: Number of jobs moving overseas by 2015: 184,347
Life sciences: Number of jobs moving overseas by 2015: 36,770
Legal: Number of jobs moving overseas by 2015:76,642
Art, design: Number of jobs moving overseas by 2015:29,564
Sales: Number of jobs moving overseas by 2015:226,564
Office: Number of jobs moving overseas by 2015:1,659,310

Source: Forrester Research, Inc. November, 2002

http://www.commondreams.org/headlines03/1224-07.htm
http://www.rense.com/general49/midl.htm

 

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Registered: 31/12/1969
Status: Offline

  posted on 6/3/2004 at 01:18 PM
D'oh, me again.

 

____________________
Wind me up and make me crawl to you, tie me up until I call to you.

 

Extreme Fanatic




Posts: 759
Registered: 31/12/1969
Status: Offline

  posted on 6/3/2004 at 01:43 PM
the other facinating thing is that many of those jobs that are being "taken" away are not here now. they are being created in other countries and US workers will go there so that they too can get paid.
Im part of that 500k jobs market of tech workers. There are 14 thousand jobs (last weds.) available in germany in the tech sector. there are 48 in my state. hmmm lets think about that one for a moment shall we?

 

____________________
Real goths wear silver and crosses to keep the werewolves and vampires />
away.

 
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