A New Direction

1280px-Red_B-double_truckPolitics and my personal and professional lives, or the closest thing the capitalist economy has allowed me to have of a professional life,  have always been very connected in my mind. So I figured that I might as well go all out and take this website in a whole new direction.  As a writer, I value creating new, or at least unique, material. It seems I’ve been saying the same stuff over and over again since I started my first blog eight years ago, and it hasn’t really gotten my message very far.

Right now I’m in school working to obtain a Class A Commercial Driver’s License.  I’ve already got two endorsements lined up, but that doesn’t mean I’ll end up driving vehicles that require them. I might even end up in a Class B vehicle for all I know.

So from now on I’m going to have two sections for articles on this website. One section will be for news commentary and my theoretical/political essays, and the other will be a journal of my experiences and thoughts as a political trucker. I think I’ll call it “Red Comet” because I’m a red who is in a hurry.

I am hoping to make the Red Comet section relatable to those in the transportation industry. I also hope to do some organizing out there on the road, whether it’s a local job or one that sends me to the ends of the highway. Of course, with your average truck driver and long-distance bus driver working between 60 and 70 hours a week, it won’t be without a good helping of roadblocks and hiccups.

Martin’s to Close 3 Stores in Richmond

martinsstonyGrocery chain Martin’s, owned by Royal Ahold NV, plans to close down three Richmond, Virginia area stores by summer. Stores will be closed in Petersburg, Mechanicsville, and Richmond city. 357 people will lose their jobs as a result.

Corporate officials say it’s due to “expiring leases.” Apparently the stores weren’t profitable enough to keep running despite the fact that Martin’s is the top chain in the Richmond area. Some speculate that, despite what executives say, these closings are relevant to a merger between Martin’s parent company Royal Ahold and the Delhaize Group which owns the Food Lion stores.

Corporate executives seem to think that allowing the workers who will soon be unemployed to apply and compete for positions at other locations is fair, but the workers are losing their livelihoods due to corporate shortcomings and mistakes. It isn’t the employees’ fault, but they are being kicked as if it is. Other locations already have employees, meaning the majority of these workers will have to hope and pray that they find work with another company. When workers from the shuttered locations are brought in to the other Martin’s stores, it will only result in a reduction of hours for everyone. Those who are already not getting enough hours to pay their bills on will get even less.

Richmond has been described as the most “over-stored” area by industry publication Food World. James Ukrop, who sold his family chain of stores to Martin’s in 2010, told the Richmond Times-Dispatch that the Richmond market “has been overcrowded for years. And with the German stores taking hold and Wegmans coming, it’s going to get worse.”

Martin’s, Food Lion, Kroger, Walmart, Whole Foods, Target, and others have been operating in Richmond for a long time. Now stores that are new to the area, such as Wegmans and Aldi, are moving in to increase the competition.

The grocery competition in Richmond, as well as the rest of the country, has been heating up for quite some time now, but what does this mean for the average worker? With increased competition between employers comes lower wages for workers. The cost of competition cuts into the profits of the business, and so the difference is made up by getting more work out of fewer workers for less pay. Grocery workers across America should stage wildcat strikes and occupy their workplaces in order to demand an end to layoffs caused by the continuous competition and mergers. Those who are being laid off should demand full, collective ownership of the stores. The workers make the store run, the executives just take the money. Labor is entitled to all it produces.

Defend Basic Rights, Stand with those who Defy the French Ban on Demonstrations

Originally published on the International Luxemburgist Network website.

The French national government’s ban on public demonstrations, now extended for up to three months, is an assault on the basic rights of working people not only in France but in the entire world. The so-called “Socialist” government of President Hollande, backed by almost the entire parliament, has made its first huge capitulation to the growing force of fascism by emulating its tactics. They have made a terrorist attack into the excuse for the suppression of basic rights—a scenario that originated in the Reichstag fire of 1933. If this ban is allowed to succeed, it will encourage every capitalist government to copy it, at untold cost. In France itself it will pave the way for the National Front.

But France 2015 is not Germany 1933. The working class movement, the left organizations, the unions have not suffered the crushing defeats that the German workers had leading up to 1933. And sections of the French movement have already declared their willingness to defy the ban on demonstrations.

It is crucial that activists everywhere express concrete solidarity with those in France who fight against the repression of basic rights. While the struggle will begin with the planned November 22 demonstrations in defense of immigrants, it will almost certainly not end there. As in Quebec in 2013, when similar prohibitions against demonstrations were defeated by mass mobilizations in the streets, a defeat of this repression will probably take weeks or months. Demonstrations of solidarity with the struggle in France throughout the world will not only strengthen the movement in France but build global working class unity.

Wildcat Strike Wins Change for Young Athletes in Michigan and Missouri

Young athletes from Michigan down to Missouri have made waves and won changes this week after successful wildcat strikes.

Flint, Michigan was stunned this week when hockey players from the Flint Firebirds staged a walkout on Sunday. The players went into the General Manager’s office and threw their jerseys on the floor in protest after learning that management fired all of the coaching staff without reason.

While many hockey teams have fired coaches already this season, including the NHL’s Toronto Maple Leafs and the Swiss NLA’s HC Ambri-Piotta, the decision to fire the Flint coaches remains puzzling.

OHL Insiders has floated the theory that they were fired because the owner, Rolf Nilsen, felt his son, Hakon, wasn’t getting enough ice time. Interestingly, Hakon Nilsen was among the players who walked out. Team officials have denied that Hakon’s ice time had anything to do with the firing.

On Monday it was announced that all of the fired coaches were reinstated, and the players would be returning as well. Rolf Nilsen described his decision as “an irresponsible mistake.” The Ontario Hockey League is now investigating the situation.

Down south at the University of Missouri, dozens of black football players (and sympathetic white players) refused to take the field until University President Tim Wolfe resigned or was fired. Student activists had been pressuring Wolfe to take action against racism, sexism, and homophobia on campus.

Minority students at the overwhelmingly white university simply wanted officials to do something about the widespread racism on campus.

Students of color were often targeted for verbal harassment, such as when student body President Payton Head was followed down the street by a truck full of people screaming racial slurs at him. Last month a swastika was drawn on the wall of a gender-neutral bathroom. While you’ll find many swastikas throughout American restrooms, this one was unique in that it was drawn with human feces instead of a marker or pen.

Graduate workers were also set to stage a walkout of their own on Monday.

Both Wolfe and Chancellor R. Bowen Loftin resigned on Monday after realizing they just couldn’t win.

Both of these incidents show the power of the wildcat strike. You don’t need union bureaucrats to tell you when a strike is in your best interests, and management and owners can be defeated when people stand in solidarity and shut down production so that no profit can be made.

Tuscaloosa Police Beat Non-Violent Students

ynjpd41srkev7r64t47zTuscaloosa Police arrested three University of Alabama students after responding to a noise complaint early Sunday morning. The altercation ended with police beating and deploying a taser on one of the students.

Multiple videos of the incident have been posted on various news websites. The videos begin by showing the officer standing in the door and the residents telling him he isn’t welcome inside. The officer then proceeds to tell one person that he is under arrest, but he doesn’t say why. The policeman then begins to pull the man out of the apartment, but he doesn’t succeed. After this, the original cop and other officers swarm the apartment, drag out three students, and arrest them. Throughout the video the students were non-violent and within their rights to deny entry to the police, ask for a warrant, and demand to know why they were being arrested.

Matthew Gimlin Macia, 22, Brandon James Williford, 21, and Caroline Elizabeth Giddis, 22 were arrested. Macia is charged with obstructing governmental operations and resisting arrest. Williford is facing the same charges plus harassment, and Giddis is charged with obstructing governmental operations and harassment.

The Tuscaloosa police department has placed three of the responding officers on (paid) administrative leave and is conducting an internal investigation.

None of the arrested students have made comments to the media.

This goes to show that, despite what the activist cool kids table deems important, young people are oppressed in this country. This is how young people are treated over a minor noise complaint, and you can bet it will be impossible for them to find steady work at a livable pay rate in the future because of this unjust, unconstitutional, and scandalous arrest, as well as the fact that the media has demonized Millennials so badly they aren’t even viewed as human anymore. You are encouraged to watch the video and see for yourself.

All Cops Are Bastards.

50 Million Americans Among World’s Poorest

Credit Suisse

Credit Suisse recently released new data for its Global Wealth Databook which states that 50 million American adults are part of the world’s poorest 10 percent.

This means that one out of ten of the poorest people in the world is American, and much of this is due to the fact that they are burdened by incredible amounts of debt. On the flipside, the richest 10 percent of Americans have gained the majority of the wealth since the beginning of the recession, meaning the increase in US wealth since 2009 has gone almost entirely to the upper-class.

The new data also states that only 21 percent of the national wealth is held by the North American middle-class, which is in stark contrast to the rest of the world.

“The average wealth of middle-class adults in North America is barely half the average for all adults,” Credit Suisse states.

“In contrast, middle-class wealth per adult in Europe is 130% of the regional average; the middle class in China is three times better off in wealth terms than the country as a whole; and the average wealth of the middle class in both India and Africa is ten times the level of those in the rest of the population.”

Only Kazakhstan, Russia, Libya, and Ukraine were reported to have more wealth inequality than the US.

This is bad news for all the “third-worldist” activists out there who think Americans have it easy. It’s also bad news for the hopes and dreams of the average, working American unless they wake up to the horrible realities of capitalism sometime soon.

PM Says Denmark Isn’t Socialist

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PM Rasmussen

Danish Prime Minister Lars  Løkke Rasmussen gave a speech at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government recently in which he mentioned “socialist” presidential candidate Bernie Sanders (I-VT). Speaking about how Sanders often refers to Denmark and other European countries as “socialist,” Rasmussen expressed his disagreement.

“I know that some people in the US associate the Nordic model with some sort of socialism,” the Prime Minister said, “therefore I would like to make one thing clear. Denmark is far from a socialist planned economy. Denmark is a market economy.”

According to Rasmussen, the economic model followed by Denmark isn’t socialism, but rather “an expanded welfare state.” Although Sanders and Rasmussen differ over what to call their political ideology, they basically advocate for the same things.

Rasmussen leads a “right-of-center” political party, but still attended an American Democratic Party conference four years ago because the politicians of Denmark are normally further left than in the US.