Category Archives: Ideas and Issues

Women in the Draft – Yes

Pearl River     The draft was a central issue in the opposition to the Vietnam War.  It touched all young men from eighteen to twenty-six, and the families that loved them.  It was a terribly unifying horror that was shared throughout the country, forcing life changing, and often life and death decisions at a very, very early age that would determine your future, if you were lucky enough to have one.  There was no choice to register, just as there is no choice to register for young men today, but once registered you might be on your way to Vietnam, Canada, or jail or any space in between that you could find.  You might be able to avoid the draft, but you could not avoid the decision.

Though draft was universal for young men, that did not mean it was one-size-fits-all and equitable.  It was class and race-biased with a vengeance.  During that period, when going to college was not as ubiquitous as it is now fifty years later, if you were a student, you could get a 2-S deferment, as a special middle class your-life-is-more-important-than-mine card.  If you knew someone at the local draft board, you were rolling as well, if you ran into trouble on the grades.  I did time as a draft counselor and in draft resistance during that period in both New Orleans and western Massachusetts.  I stopped when I felt like I was running a college service center.  Dropping out of school to organize, I went through draft physicals in Springfield, Massachusetts and New Orleans.  This was a working-class congregational meeting with the preponderance of draftees were people of color.

Anti-war protests were key, but the draft was the trump card in making opposition to the war grow and prevail.  Working offshore on oil platforms in the summer is shift work. I was on 14 and 7.  Company guys were on 7 and 7.  Coworkers were from Florida, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Mississippi, Alabama, and of course Texas.  If the money was good, the drive in and out was no big thing.  You worked twelve hour shifts and were stuck out on the water.  You talked, and it was surprising in 1967 when I was a teenager to hear the roustabouts and tool pushers state plainly that they would not let their kids go to Vietnam.

Look at our endless wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.  You want to end a war, institute a compulsory service draft.  You want to end it even faster, given the powers that be, draft women, too.

Not that women can’t fight.  Some 17% of the US military is now composed of women on the front line, as pilots, and any other job that they are able to muster.  They are no longer restricted from combat roles.  As this number grows, it will give some lawmakers pause.  It’s one thing for many of them to volunteer, but as their percentage increases, these old schoolers who want to control their bodies in every other way, are not going to be happy seeing them come back home to their districts in body bags.

A national commission is reportedly recommending that young women be required to register for the draft at eighteen, just as young men do.  I’m all for it.  It virtually guarantees that a compulsory draft will never be used again.


Uber CEO Wins Lie of the Week Award on Gig Workers Unemployment

New Orleans       In the Age of Trump, we biscuit cookers get used to hearing disassembling, tall tales, falsehoods, exaggerations, spin, or, not to mince words, lies, on a daily, sometimes hourly basis.  These are dangerous days in the White House.  After many moons with a drought of press conferences, now there is one on a daily basis.  Trump now gives medical advice, second guesses the FDA on drug cures, and generally teeters around between trying to look serious while selling snake oil.  It’s hard to beat the president in any contest for big whopping lie-of-the-week.

Somehow, the CEO of Uber, the rule and regulation defying ride-hailing service has managed to do so.  The New York Times asked the CEO, Dara Khosrowshahi, how they were handling all of their gig workers.   “…Suggesting that his hands were tied because Uber drivers are independent contractors,” he said, “This situation certainly demonstrates the downside of attaching basic protections to W-2 employment.”


We’re left with a choice in reading this lie.

Either he is stupid with a multi-million-dollar paycheck or we are stupid and left, like his employees, holding an empty bag.

Let’s fact check this lie.

Unemployment insurance is insurance paid equally by the worker and the employer.  Uber is trying to pretend that it is a “basic protection,” whatever that means, but let’s assume Uber thinks it means something like welfare.  Uber actually knows this full well, as does its CEO.  They refuse to pay it!! Furthermore, in states, like California where legislation has classified gig workers, like their tens of thousands of drivers as workers, they have challenged it in court.  Furthermore, they have refused to turn over employment and income data to the state required of every other employer.

Khosrowshahi knows this full well, underlining the fact that this is a lie and he thinks all of us are stupid.  The entire business model of Uber is based on not paying unemployment, social security, or anything else for its huge gig-force.  They flaunt the “basic protections,” no matter how minimal for workers around the world by continuing to pretend that his so-called “W-2 employment” is a government responsibility, rather than an employer mandate.  W-2 employment simply means acknowledging that you are the employer and your people are the workforce.  It’s not hard, except for scofflaws like Uber.

Inadvertently in lying to all of us, Uber is allowing even more of its business model to be exposed.  They want to rake in the money and leave the workers somewhere in the middle between on-their-own and the problem of the government.  Not enough work?  Not Uber’s problem, but the governments.  Too old to work and no social security paid for your labor, once again, not Uber’s problem, but something the government should sort out one fine day when the bill comes due in the future.  Uberites claim this is part of their libertarian Silicon Valley commitment, but it is the opposite.  They want a welfare state to allow them to make the money and take care of the workers while they keep the income the workers earn for them.

I’d love to see the fool pay back unemployment credits out of his own paycheck, but even he doesn’t make enough to do that.  Once again Uber has proven that it doesn’t play by the rules and doesn’t have any intention of ever doing so, whether it is run by the cowboy founder or Mr. Fix-it.

Tragically, Uber workers are paying for this lie instead, while the company cruises along continuing to assume it can tell all of us any cock-and-bull story it feels like, and we’ll swallow it whole.


Please enjoy A Little Soon To Say by Jackson Browne.

Thanks to WAMF.