All you need to know about class warfare

Check out this episode of “The Daily Show,” where Jon Stewart tears apart the idiots at Rupert Murdoch’s Fox News and Fox Business channels for saying it’s unfair to tax the rich because the poor don’t pay their “fair share” of taxes.

Then go to this clip from PBS that shows most Americans are out of touch with income inequality in the U.S. When presented with three charts, they thought Sweden‘s distribution was where America stood. As for the chart that represented America’s distribution, most people though it was a chart for a Third World country. (Just for the record, the third chart, where things were distributed equally, was idiotic, and people who selected that one shouldn’t be allowed to operate heavy machinery.)

There is no excuse for anyone not understanding what the distribution of wealth is in this country.

Here’s a chart posted on various blogs back in February:

The truth is out there. Not the “truth” created by Fox News, but the thing rational people call reality.

If your world view has been shaped by Fox, and if you fall for the GOP line that the rich are under assault and the poor are a bunch of freeloaders, you are a sad, sad human being.

Workers of America unite!

Logo of Ikea. Drawn by Mysid on a PNG original...

Image via Wikipedia

A globally known company based in Europe decides to open a plant in America. The company is considered a model employer throughout Europe. Here’s what happens when you apply American know-how to its business practices. (From the Los Angeles Times via Balloon Juice.)

Some of the Virginia plant’s 335 workers are trying to form a union. The International Assn. of Machinists and Aerospace Workers said a majority of eligible employees had signed cards expressing interest.

In response, the factory — part of Ikea‘s manufacturing subsidiary, Swedwood — hired the law firm Jackson Lewis, which has made its reputation keeping unions out of companies. Workers said Swedwood officials required employees to attend meetings at which management discouraged union membership.

Plant officials didn’t return calls and declined to meet with a Times reporter who visited the Virginia facility. Swedwood spokeswoman Ingrid Steen in Sweden called the situation in Danville “sad” but said she could not discuss the complaints of specific employees. She said she had heard “rumors” about anti-union meetings at the plant but added that “this wouldn’t be anything that would be approved by the group management in Sweden.”

The dust-up has garnered little attention in the U.S. But it’s front-page news in Sweden, where much of the labor force is unionized and Ikea is a cherished institution. Per-Olaf Sjoo, the head of the Swedish union in Swedwood factories, said he was baffled by the friction in Danville. Ikea’s code of conduct, known as IWAY, guarantees workers the right to organize and stipulates that all overtime be voluntary.

“Ikea is a very strong brand and they lean on some kind of good Swedishness in their business profile. That becomes a complication when they act like they do in the United States,” said Sjoo. “For us, it’s a huge problem.”

Laborers in Swedwood plants in Sweden produce bookcases and tables similar to those manufactured in Danville. The big difference is that the Europeans enjoy a minimum wage of about $19 an hour and a government-mandated five weeks of paid vacation. Full-time employees in Danville start at $8 an hour with 12 vacation days — eight of them on dates determined by the company.

What’s more, as many as one-third of the workers at the Danville plant have been drawn from local temporary-staffing agencies. These workers receive even lower wages and no benefits, employees said.

The unfair treatment of American workers is big news abroad, but practically ignored here in the States. And you can’t blame this on corporate overlords overseas screwing American workers. Americans are screwing themselves. Meanwhile, the president of the U.S. continues to make deals with the opposition party that hurt the poor and make it harder for those in low paying jobs.

There are reasons American workers should embrace unions. This is a great example.