"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Just Before the Revolt

Two stories that make such great bookends in WaPo today on the American oligarchs and their minions. Not only have the oligarchs' front men paid for the executive salary caps to be taken out of the Stimulus bill, but now the oligarchs and their lawyers are waging war on those who are losing their jobs due to the excess, greed, and thievery of these same oligarchs. The corporate target: unemployment benefits of their former employees.

First, the end of the empty rhetoric on compensation caps:
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, February 12, 2009; Page D05

Congressional efforts to impose stringent restrictions on executive compensation appeared to be evaporating yesterday as House and Senate negotiators worked to fine-tune the compromise stimulus bill.

Provisions to impose a penalty on banks that paid hefty bonuses and to cap pay at $400,000 for all employees at firms applying for additional government funds did not survive the compromise, sources said.. . .

And then this:

By Peter Whoriskey
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, February 12, 2009; A01

It's hard enough to lose a job. But for a growing proportion of U.S. workers, the troubles really set in when they apply for unemployment benefits.

More than a quarter of people applying for such claims have their rights to the benefit challenged as employers increasingly act to block payouts to former workers.

The proportion of claims disputed by former employers and state agencies has reached record levels in recent years, according to the Labor Department numbers tallied by the Urban Institute. . . .

. . . . "I couldn't believe it," said Kenneth M. Brown, who lost his job as a hotel electrician in October.

He began collecting benefits of $380 a week but then discovered that his former employer, the owners of the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center, were appealing to block his unemployment benefits. The hotel alleged that he had been fired for being deceptive with a supervisor.

"A big corporation like that. . . . It was hard enough to be terminated," he said. "But for them to try to take away the unemployment benefits -- I just thought that was heartless."

After a Post reporter turned up at the hearing, the hotel's representative withdrew the appeal and declined to comment. A hotel spokesperson later said the company does not comment on legal matters. Brown will continue to collect benefits, which he, his wife and three young children rely on to make monthly mortgage payments on their Upper Marlboro home. . . .

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