How and When Did Scrooge McDuck Take Over Disneyland?

New Orleans    My dad was born and raised in Orange County, California, first in Tustin, then Santa Ana, and finally Orange itself where he lived until he finished high school. My grandfather was a foreman on an orange grove ranch until he couldn’t be, and then he worked as the janitor at the Lutheran Church, next to the parochial school that my dad, his brother and three sisters all attended at various times.  My dad used to tell us about delivering papers on his bicycle before dawn along the hills covered with orange groves that are now all occupied by one housing development after another.

We used to drive out to visit my grandparents in California every five years after we moved to New Orleans.  Of his two weeks of his vacation, we would spend three days driving out and three driving back, leaving at 4 AM in the morning to beat the humidity of the Gulf Coast and then the aridity of the desert until we arrived.  Once we went by his cousin’s carpet store to watch them build the Angels stadium in Anaheim.  We once went to Knott’s Berry Farm.  Twice we went to Disneyland.

I was shocked to read in an old copy of the New York Times that 85% of the 17,000 Disneyland unionized workers make less than $15 per hour, and that’s in California where the minimum wage is over $10 per hour, not $7.25, and on its way to $15 by 2022.  Furthermore, that’s in Orange County, not Sunflower County, Mississippi where my mother was raised.  Living costs are in another dimension in California.  The Times references a California Budget & Policy Center that calculates that a single adult would need to make $33,000 to meet a basic monthly budget, which is about $16 per hour at full-time work.  The story followed several Disney workers around as they slept in their cars, brushed their teeth at Starbucks, and tried to make it on their less than full-time shifts.

What’s going on here?

Disney is the largest employer in Orange County.  In 2017, the company made almost $9 billion in profits.  In the 3rd quarter of 2017, the parks and recreation segment of Disney, which includes Disneyland and Disneyworld in Florida, was the only major division that beat expectations with $1.2 billion operating income in that quarter alone.  No question, Disney has the money.

And, these workers have a union now and forevermore.  Walt Disney built the place union, and it was been union since it opened in California.  Even Disneyworld in Orlando is union in anti-union Florida.  The unions are organized in various trades councils where in theory every union and craft are part of the bargaining and representation from the skilled trades in maintenance to the large number of service workers in the hotels that are part of UNITE HERE.

Usually, we would think this is a great thing, but what’s gone wrong in Orange County that is allowing Disney to be Scrooge McDuck in dealing with its workers?  This should be Neverland, not Frontierland.  The Times story was triggered by a union-backed survey that indicated that 75% of the responding workers said they “do not earn enough money to pay for their basic monthly expenses, and one in 10 said that they had been homeless in the past two years.”  Clearly, we must demand that the unions stand up to Disney to force this rich company to pay living wages or make sure that visitors stop allowing their children to witness this daily hypocrisy in the name of profits.


How Breitbart and Bannon Work Their Politics Using Innuendo and Random Association

New Orleans   You know Google Alerts, right? If not, it’s worth a spin around their block. You put your email on a list to get a daily, weekly, or monthly email that gives you some of the hits on things within your wheelhouse. I have alerts for “community organization” of course. I have one for “boycotts,” thinking I’m going to do something with that one day, and of course companies we are targeting on campaigns and certainly for ACORN. We’re in the season I particularly enjoy as fall breaks and Thanksgiving looms ahead. You wouldn’t believe the number of recipes that focus on acorns or the meticulous way that that the season’s acorn crop, so to speak, informs deer hunters preparing for the bounty of their own hunting season.

While I was waiting for a meeting in Canada, I looked at the daily alerts for ACORN and saw a strange one tying Alabama Democratic US Senate hopeful Doug Jones who is running against the controversial former bible-thumping Chief Justice of the Alabama State Supreme Court Roy Moore in the general election to ACORN. Moore of course flipped the script on a semi-incumbent Republican Senator supported by Mitch McConnell and less enthusiastically by President Trump. The headline was “Roy Moore Challenger Doug Jones Pushing ACORN Pet Project Known for Devastating Small Businesses and Workers.” You, guessed it, the almost 2000-word piece by Aaron Klein had to be in ‘s premiere site, Big Government. Stephen Bannon is now back at Brietbart and disruption of the establishment is his current “war,” and innuendo and guilt by association are his favorite weapons. The article is a case study for how this kind of modern right wing red-baiting works.

Doug Jones probably had to have some young staff member on his campaign go to Wikipedia to even get a grip on ACORN, and how he was now intimately involved with the organization. The ACORN “pet project” is fighting for living wages. So is Doug Jones now becoming a fierce advocate for living wages in Alabama and beyond? Well, I wish, but this whole screed is based on Jones saying on his website that he is in favor of increasing the federal minimum way, and, oh my god, raising it to $10.00 per hour from the presently frozen level of $7.25 that has been in effect since the Ice Age.

The factual thread that unleashes this flood of associational offense for Breitbart is this highly non-radical comment on Jones’ website, quoted by Klein:

The brief economic policy listing on Jones’s campaign website calls for the enactment of a “living wage,” which would hike the minimum wage above the federal minimum.

A short “living wage” section on his website reads:

People in Alabama should not have to work two or three jobs just to provide food, housing and other necessities for their families, often foregoing healthcare and other needs. I strongly support ensuring working Alabamians receive a living wage for their hard work. It is past time. They are then less reliant on the government and those dollars help lift the economy.

Oh, and Jones told USA Today, “I’m not one of these people who thinks that raising the minimum wage to a living wage is going to stifle competition, or going to lead to automation and cost jobs.”

Bannon and Brietbart then try to hang him from the nearest tree with that thin thread. The rest of the piece is a brief thumbnail sketch of the history of ACORN’s living wage campaigns, the horrors allegedly visited on workers from the victory for living wages in Santa Fe and Seattle, neither of which were ACORN wins.

The other alleged connection to ACORN is even more far-fetched, because no Brietbart piece can omit George Soros either, but here’s Klein on his witch hunt:

Contributing to the living wage campaign was the George Soros-funded Brennan Center for Justice at New York University’s law school. The Center’s lawyer, Paul Sonn, took a leading role in helping to craft wage ordinances and ballot measures for numerous cities and states, the Times reported. Jones himself has close ties to the Brennan Center. In 2014, Jones served as co-chair of a panel of then current and former federal prosecutors that produced a white paper for the Center on criminal justice reform.

Surely you can follow this. Jones, a former federal prosecutor worked on a paper about criminal justice reform with the Brennan Center, a legacy project of the former US Supreme Court Justice, and another project of the same center had a lawyer who worked with ACORN, so therefore Jones is probably wearing an ACORN t-shirt around his house and sleeping with an old ACORN button under his pillow.

It’s clear how Brietbart wants to herd you to their conclusion, but come to your own, and keep your feet on the ground, rather than jumping down their wormhole to the beyond.