SATAN’S EMPIRE - ANTI-CHRISTIAN SATANISTS - FLEECE & KILL US - IN - GOD’S NAME! JOIN “THE CHURCH OF ALL FOR THE RICH FUCKS IN GOD’S NAME IS OVER!” CHRIST - WORKERS OF INIQUITY - THOSE WHO DO NOT TAKE CARE OF THOSE IN NEED - “FRY IN HELL!”
TRUMP’S SIGNATURE LEGISLATION: A TRANSFER OF WEALTH TO THE RICHEST AMERICANS
Published — September 18, 2020
Allan Holmes Editor
We spent more than two years digging into the origins and impact of the signature legislative victory of President Donald Trump’s first term, the 2017 tax law. This week, we launched “The Heist,” a five-part podcast that encapsulates and advances that reporting, with fascinating (and sometimes appalling) details about how billions of dollars were transferred from middle class families to a handful of large corporations and billionaires. Subscribe here or where you get your podcasts, and consider leaving a review!
— Matt DeRienzo, editor in chief, firstname.lastname@example.org
THIS EDITION: TAX CUTS
Voters will head to the polls in just 46 days, delivering a referendum on President Donald Trump.
The signature legislative achievement of Trump’s first term was the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, which, he has claimed, boosted workers’ wages and created jobs. Critics say it was mostly a huge transfer of wealth to the richest Americans.
In The Heist, a five-episode podcast that launched this week, the Center for Public Integrity digs deep into the tax-cuts law to show who benefited. The podcast is based on a two-year Public Integrity investigation; an episode will be posted every Thursday through Oct. 15.
This week, we introduced podcast subscribers to an influential Republican donor who explains how he withheld campaign donations to goad the Republican-controlled Congress to pass the law, which slashed tax rates for corporations and the wealthy.
“I said ‘Hey, I don’t see any movement on … tax reform,’” said Doug Deason, whose father, Darwin, made a fortune by selling a computer-services company he later sold to Xerox Corp.. “We’re gonna hold back money. We’re canceling fundraisers that we’re doing for some of these politicians.”
Republican lawmakers got the message.
“My donors are basically saying: ‘Get it done or don’t ever call me again,’” Rep. Chris Collins, R-New York, said as Congress was debating the tax-cuts bill. (Collins was convicted this year of insider trading and sentenced to more than two years in prison.)
Deason revealed, in unusually candid fashion, how Washington really works.
Donor Doug Deason withheld giving to Republican candidates and political committees until the GOP-controlled Congress was close to passing a tax-cuts bill. (Brandon Wade/AP Images for T.D. Jakes Ministries)“The most surprising aspect of it is that essentially the quiet part got said out loud,” said Eric Shickler, a professor who teaches American politics at the University of California at Berkeley. “That’s just not something that’s usually done. And here it is, at least to some extent, being done right in front of us.”
The point man on Trump’s tax bill was his secretary of the treasury, Steve Mnuchin, who is profiled in the second episode of The Heist.
He followed his father, Robert, to the investment firm Goldman Sachs and later started a hedge fund. With other investors, Mnuchin bought a bank that failed during the 2008 financial crisis and then foreclosed on thousands of mortgages.
Mnuchin became Trump’s campaign finance manager when it was clear Trump would get the Republican nomination for president in 2016. Asked by friends why he signed up with Trump, Mnuchin “said something like, ‘Well, this is a bet, and if I win, I’m going to get a really big prize,” said David Dayen, executive editor of the left-leaning American Prospect and author of a biography on Mnuchin.
In Episode 3, Public Integrity investigates the tax bill’s quick trip through Congress and how the Trump administration claimed the tax cuts would pay for themselves. They didn’t.
Adding $1.5 trillion to the nation’s deficit initially was a sore point for Sen. Bob Corker, a Republican from Tennessee who retired in 2018. Public Integrity examines how Corker, a fiscal conservative, switched positions and chose not to derail the tax bill.
In Episode 4, Public Integrity exposes the fallacy of Republicans’ promises that the law would raise wages and create jobs. We look at American Airlines, which received massive tax breaks but used most of the savings to buy back shares and raise its stock price.
The podcast concludes with an episode showing that loans made through the Paycheck Protection Program, passed by Congress to blunt the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, went first to the politically well-connected and the wealthy.
“It’s pretty clear that the [loan] process was run in a way that pushed needy small businesses to the back of the line while prioritizing the influential,” said Matthew Gardner, a senior fellow at the nonprofit, non-partisan Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy.
In Donald Trump’s America, wealthy people and large corporations have won big. The Trump Administration promised the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 would pay for itself and boost the middle class. But in truth, the tax cuts funnelled hundreds of millions into the pockets of the rich and ballooned the national debt. Then, something similar happened again with the 2020 pandemic bailout. Promises made, promises broken.
The Heist is the story of a huge political swindle, how it happened, and how power works in a Donald Trump presidency. Reporters spent months behind the scenes: we get to know a big Republican donor, a senator who caves to political pressure, and the enigmatic Secretary of the Treasury, Steven Mnuchin, who led the charge for these laws.
If you want to get updates about our podcast The Heist, subscribe here.
Subscribe on Spotify | Apple Podcasts | Google | Stitcher | Pandora
The Dallas Piggy Bank
In 2017, rich Republican donors demanded a legislative victory, and this is how they got it. We meet one big donor from Dallas who goes on the record to explain how money and power work in Trump’s America. This is the behind-the-scenes story of how political pressure led to the 2017 tax bill, a huge giveaway to the wealthy.
Who is Steven Mnuchin? He somehow manages to fly under the radar, but as Treasury Secretary he has tremendous power. How did a man with no record of public service and the nickname the “Foreclosure King” become the guy in charge of America’s money? The answer? This is how power works in Trump’s America.
The massive triumph of the rich, illustrated by stunning new data
Opinion by Greg Sargent
Dec. 9, 2019 at 6:28 a.m. PST
The triumph of the rich, which is one of the defining stories of our time, is generally described as largely the reflection of two factors. The first, of course, is the explosion of income among top earners, in which a tiny minority has vacuumed up a ballooning share of the gains from the past few decades of economic growth.
The second factor — which will be key to the 2020 presidential race — has been the hidden decline in the progressivity of the tax code at the top, in which the wealthiest earners have over those same decades seen their effective tax rates steadily fall.
Put those two factors together, and they tell a story about soaring U.S. inequality that is in some ways even more dramatic than each is on its own.
A new analysis prepared at my request by Gabriel Zucman — the French economist and “wealth detective” who has become famous for tracing the hidden wealth of the super-rich — illustrates that dual story in a freshly compelling way.
The top-line finding: Among the bottom 50 percent of earners, average real annual income even after taxes and transfers has edged up a meager $8,000 since 1970, rising from just over $19,000 to just over $27,000 in 2018.
By contrast, among the top 1 percent of earners, average income even after taxes and transfers has tripled since 1970, rising by more than $800,000, from just over $300,000 to over $1 million in 2018.
Among the top 0.1 percent, average after-tax-and-transfer income has increased fivefold, from just over $1 million in 1970 to over $5 million in 2018. And among the top .01 percent, it has increased nearly sevenfold, from just over $3.5 million to over $24 million.
AS AN ECONOMIC DEMOGRAPHER WITH A FOCUS IN POLITICAL ECONOMICS, EMMANUEL SAEZ’S WORK ON THE INSANE INEQUITY IN INCOME AND WEALTH DISTRIBUTION IN THE US HAS BEEN OF INTEREST TO ME SINCE THEY FIRST PUBLISHED THEIR WORK. WHEN I SPOKE WITH HIM AT UC BERKELEY AROUND THE TURN OF THE CENTURY, JUST AFTER THEY PUBLISHED THOMAS PIKETTY’S AND HIS WORK, I SPOKE WITH HIM ABOUT MY OBSERVATIONS.
THEY WERE - THE INEQUITY OF WEALTH AND INCOME DISTRIBUTION IS MUCH WORSE THAN EVEN THEY DOCUMENTED DUE TO:
1. “HOUSEHOLD INCOME” - THAT THEY USE FROM IRS TAX DATA. DISTORTS THE IMPACT OF - WOMEN’S PARTICIPATION RATES RISING FROM ROUGHLY 30% OF WOMEN IN 1970, TO ROUGHLY 66% OF WOMEN WORKING NOW. SO THE “HOUSEHOLD INCOME” RISE OF THE BOTTOM 99%, IS HIGHLY SCEWED BY MORE WOMEN WORKING, THAN IN 1970, ADDING TO “HOUSEHOLD INCOME,” THAT IS NOT DUE TO A RISE IN - “HEAD OF HOUSEHOLD INCOME.”
THE RESULT IS THAT THE SLIGHT RISE IN THE INCOME OF THE BOTTOM 50% OF WORKING FAMILIES’ INCOME RISING FROM $19,640 IN 1970, TO ONLY $27,642 IN 2018, IS ALMOST COMPLETELY OR MORE, ACCOUNTABLE DUE TO MOST WOMEN WORKING IN THE BOTTOM 50% OF WORKING FAMILIES.
THE AVERAGE - “HEAD OF HOUSEHOLD INCOME” - FOR THE BOTTOM 50% OF INCOME EARNERS, WHEN YOU DIVIDE $27,642 BY 1.66 WORKERS PER FAMILY, ON AVERAGE, EQUATES TO $16,651.80 PER YEAR. THIS IS SLIGHTLY LESS THAN THE AVERAGE - “TRUMP NEW JOB” - WHICH ACCORDING TO CNN WAS ONLY $18,000 PER YEAR. THIS EQUALS AN AVERAGE “HEAD OF HOUSEHOLD” PAY OF ONLY $8.32 PER HOUR, AND $9 PER HOUR, FOR THE AVERAGE “NEW TRUMP JOB.” . . . . .
. . . OF COURSE, THESE SLAVELANDIA JOBS - DO NOT - INCLUDE ANY HEALTHCARE, RETIREMENT, PAID VACATION, EDUCATION FUNDING, FAMILY LEAVE PAY FOR HAVING CHILDREN, ETC., ETC. AT LEAST THE SLAVE OWNERS TOOK CARE OF THEIR - “SLAVES’ HEALTHCARE!”
. . . THE US - IS - “NAZI SLAVELANDIA!” COMPARE THESE CONDITIONS AND PAY TO . . . THE ONLY SUSTAINABLE, HUMANE AND EGALITARIAN SOCIETIES . . .
. . . THE ONLY - TRULY CHRISTIAN SOCIETIES - THAT TAKE CARE OF . . .
. . . “THOSE IN NEED!” . . . WHICH IS WHAT CHRIST COMMANDED! . . .
. . . “THE NORDIC COUNTRIES: DENMARK, FINLAND AND NORWAY!”
“HEAD OF HOUSEHOLD” INCOME - WOULD BE BEST TO USE - BUT EMMANUEL NOTED AT THE TIME, WHICH I ASSUME IT IS STILL THE CASE, WOULD BE TOO HARD TO DECIPHER, USING IRS TAX DATA, AS THEY DO NOT HAVE THIS INFORMATION PROVIDED. AS MOST FAMILIES FILE “JOINT TAX RETURNS.”
2. THE MASSIVE DECLINE IN THE TOP TAX BRACKETS - WAS NOT TAKEN INTO CONSIDERATION IN THEIR ORIGINAL WORK, WHICH GABRIEL ZUCMAN AND HE, DID TAKE INTO CONSIDERATION IN THEIR NEW WORK - WHICH CONSIDERS THESE TRANSFER PAYMENT CHANGES.
3. THE MASSIVE OFFSHORING OF WEALTH AND INCOME - TO OFFSHORE ACCOUNTS - BOTH PRIVATE AND PUBLIC WEALTH AND INCOME - STILL - IS NOT TAKEN INTO CONSIDERATION. BOTH - “THE PANAMA PAPERS” - AND - “THE PARADISE PAPERS” - ARE - JUST THE TIP OF THE - TRILLIONS AND TRILLIONS OF DOLLARS OF WEALTH AND INCOME - NOT ACCOUNTED FOR - IN THE - IRS HOUSEHOLD TAX DATA THAT SAEZ AND ZUCMAN DOCUMENT IN THEIR BOOK - “THE TRIUMPH OF INJUSTICE: HOW THE RICH DODGE TAXES AND HOW TO MAKE THEM PAY.”
4. THE MASSIVE AMOUNT OF - STOLEN PRIVATE WEALTH - NOTABLY WAR STOLEN WEALTH. THE KOCH BROTHERS STOLE BILLIONS AND BILLIONS DURING WORLD WAR II, BOTH FRED AND ERIC KOCH, CHARLIE AND DAVID KOCH’S DAD AND HIS BROTHER. THE REPORT: THE KOCHS, A NAZI PAST, OIL & THE FOUNDATION OF THE RIGHT, SPEAKS TO THESE - VERY EVIL GOTTEN GAINS OF WEALTH!
5. THE INSANE AMOUNT OF PRIVATE WEALTH - NOTABLY - THE WEALTH OF - “THE ROTHSCHILD’S” - GAINED BY - OWNING - ALMOST ALL - CENTRAL BANKS GLOBALLY! THE DOCUMENTARY - “MONEY MASTERS” - SPEAKS TO THESE ENORMOUS WEALTH AND INCOME AMOUNTS THAT ARE UNCOUNTED FOR IN - THE IRS HOUSEHOLD DATA THAT SAEZ, PIKETTY, AND ZUCMAN USE.
6. THE IMPACT OF THE ENORMOUS DROP IN - GOVERNMENT SPENDING - ON - “THE REST!” DUE TO THE DROP IN EDUCATION FUNDING, SOCIAL PROGRAMS, ETC., ETC. ALONG WITH THE ENORMOUS INCREASE IN - GOVERNMENT SPENDING - ON - “THE RICH!” MASSIVE DEFENSE SPENDING THAT GOES TO - THE IMPERIALIST PROFITS OF THE OIL AND WAR LORDS - AND - THE OTHER BILLIONAIRES GLOBAL IMPERIALIST PROFITS GAINED BY - “ECONOMIC HITMEN!”
7. ALONG WITH THE ENORMOUS RISE IN “FUNDING” FOR FOSSIL FUEL COMPANIES, AND OTHER GOVERNMENT FUNDING OF - “THE CORPORATE STATE” - VERY NOTABLY - “THE CORPORATE STATE BAILOUTS OF THE BILLIONAIRES” DURING “THE GREAT RECESSION,” “THE COVID-19 COLLAPSE,” AND THE COMING “GREAT DEPRESSION 2021” BAILOUTS FOR THE CORPORATE STATE, WHICH ARE THE PRIMARY FOCUS OF - “THE EVIL RIGHT WING” - AND - “THE RIGHT WING DEMOCRATS,” ARE NOT ACCOUNTED FOR IN SAEZ, PIKETTY AND ZUCMAN’S WORK.
SO ALTHOUGH THE INSANITY OF - “THE BOTTOM 50%” - OF HOUSEHOLD INCOME BEING AT BEST FLAT AND LIKELY DOWN FROM 1970 TO 2018, WHEN YOU FACTOR IN - WOMEN’S PARTICIPATION RATES RISING FROM ROUGHLY 30% TO 66%!
WHILE THE TOP .01% OF THE WEALTHIEST INCOME EARNING HOUSEHOLDS SAW THEIR INCOMES SKYROCKET 6.6 TIMES, FROM $3.7 MILLION, TO $24.2 MILLION!
THE REAL AMOUNT OF WEALTH AND INCOME DIFFERENTIAL GAINS OF - “THE RICH” - VERSUS - “THE REST” - IS - MUCH MUCH WORSE, IF YOU COULD FACTOR IN THE OTHER VARIABLES I NOTED TO EMMANUEL SAEZ AT UC BERKELEY AROUND THE TURN OF THE CENTURY, WHEN THEY FIRST PUBLISHED THEIR EXCELLENT WORK.
I’m emphasizing the phrase “after taxes and transfers” because this is at the core of Zucman’s new analysis. The idea is to show the combined impact of both the explosion of pretax income at the top and the decline in the effective tax rate paid by those same earners — in one result.
The declining progressivity of the tax code is the subject of “The Triumph of Injustice,” a great new book by Zucman and fellow Berkeley economist Emmanuel Saez. It charts the slow strangulation of that progressivity at the top.
As they demonstrate, the effective tax rate (federal, state, local and other taxes) paid by top earners has steadily declined since the 1950s and 1960s, when the tax code really was quite progressive, to a point where the highest income groups pay barely more, percentage wise, than the bottom.
Indeed, in 2018, the top 400 earners for the first time paid a lower effective overall tax rate than working-class Americans. There are many reasons for this radical decline in progressivity, including domestic and international tax avoidance, the whittling away of the estate and corporate taxes, and the repeated downsizing of top marginal rates.
ADI asked Zucman to calculate the average totals in raw dollar amounts that each income group has taken home over the decades — after taxes and transfers. This includes federal, state and payroll taxes of numerous kinds, and government spending on transfer programs, including Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and disability and veteran benefits, among other things.
Zucman is able to do this because he and Saez created a database to do the new book’s calculations, and this database includes as much income, tax and transfer information at all levels of government as they were able to assemble.
Here are Zucman’s results:
As noted, real after-tax-and-transfer income edged up just a bit among the bottom 50 percent while rocketing upward to an extraordinary degree among the top-earning groups.
Meanwhile, among middle-class Americans in the 50 percent to 90 percent section of the income scale (sometimes called the “middle 40”), average income went from just over $44,000 in 1970 to just over $75,000 in 2018.
“After government transfers, the income of the working and middle class has grown a bit faster than before, but still their income growth rate has been very low,” Zucman told me. “For the working class, their after-taxes-and-transfers income has barely increased.”
And among those in the group from the top 10 percent to 1 percent, average income went from just over $90,000 in 1970 to over $185,000 in 2018. For this group, income doubled — they showed real gains. But the bottom very decidedly did not, and the middle 40’s gains were comparatively modest.
Here’s another way to look at what happened at the turn of each decade:
All this offers another way of looking at a phenomenon that political philosopher Samuel Moyn has labeled the “victory of the rich.”
These data help debunk frequent arguments against making the tax code far more progressive. Hedge-funder Leon Cooperman recently penned a whiny letter to Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) — demonstrating what Paul Krugman describedas an odd billionaire “self-pitying” streak — arguing that the superwealthy already pay a lot and that the current tax code is more progressive than you think, once you factor in transfers.
ADIt’s true that the wealthy often pay a lot. But the fact that after-tax income has pulled into the stratosphere at the very top, even as effective tax rates have fallen dramatically, shows that the current tax bill of the rich does not, in and of itself, constitute any kind of meaningful argument about the fairness of today’s after-tax distribution.
What’s more, the above also shows how limited the impact of transfer programs has been on soaring inequality over the decades.
“People have this idea that government redistribution has upset some of the rise in inequality, but essentially that’s not the case,” Zucman told me.
Finally, Zucman’s analysis could give weight to progressive arguments for a deep structural economic overhaul. Even Joe Biden’s plan, which would raise corporate tax rates and return top marginal income tax rates to where they were before President Trump’s tax cuts, is surprisingly progressive, a sign of how much this debate has shifted.
Meanwhile, Warren has proposed a tax on extreme wealth. And Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) has offered an even more ambitious wealth tax, plus a proposal to boost top income tax rates far more than any other rival.
The larger context for this debate is that real-world take-home income has positively exploded at the very top, even as it has barely budged for the bottom half — the sum total of two separate but intertwined stories that have unfolded over the decades.
“You have two trends reinforcing each other,” Zucman told me. “There has been the rise in market income inequality — the rise in pretax income inequality. At the same time, the tax system has become much less progressive at the top of the income distribution.”
Zucman’s bottom line: “The U.S. tax system is slightly progressive at the bottom and in the middle of the distribution, and then it becomes regressive at the very top.”
How to change this is a debate progressives will relish. These new findings should help their case.
CHRIST WAS VERY CLEAR - IF - “YOU” - “WORK INIQUITY” . . IF . . .
. . . “YOU” - SUPPORT - “INEQUALITY” - IN - INCOME, WEALTH AND JUSTICE!
. . . IF - “YOU” - DO NOT - “TAKE CARE OF THOSE IN NEED!” . . .
. . . “DEPART FROM ME!” . . INTO - “THE HELL OF HELLS” . . .
. . . “YOU” - DAMNED - “ME” . . TO SUFFER IN . . UNNECESSARILY . . .
. . . “FOR YOUR PURE EVIL GREED!”
The Narrow Gate
13 “Enter at the narrow gate, for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who are going through it,14 because small is the gate and narrow is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.
A Tree and Its Fruit
15 “Beware of false prophets who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. 16 You will know them by their fruit. Do men gather grapes from thorns, or figs from thistles? 17 Even so, every good tree bears good fruit. But a corrupt tree bears evil fruit.18 A good tree cannot bear evil fruit, nor can a corrupt tree bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Therefore, by their fruit you will know them.
I Never Knew You21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven.22 Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonderful works in Your name?’ 23 But then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you. Depart from Me, you who practice evil.’[a] . . .
. . . 23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity. (King James Version)
. . . “YE THAT WORK INIQUITY!” THOSE THAT SUPPORT THE - EVIL GREED OF THE EVIL RICH!
The Two House builders
24 “Whoever hears these sayings of Mine and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on a rock. 25 And the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house. And it did not fall, for it was founded a rock. 26 And every one who hears these sayings of Mine and does not do them will be likened to a foolish man who built his house on the sand. 27 And the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house. And it fell. And its fall was great.”
28 When Jesus finished these sayings, the people were astonished at His teaching, 29 for He taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.
. . . THE ONLY SUSTAINABLE HUMANE AND EGALITARIAN SOCIETIES - THE ONLY SOCIETIES THAT - TAKE CARE OF THOSE IN NEED! THE NORDIC COUNTRIES: DENMARK, FINLAND AND NORWAY!
Matthew 25:31-46 New International Version
The Sheep and the Goats
31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne.
32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.
34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.
35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.
42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’
44 “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’
45 “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’
46 “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”
By Chris Hedges
September 8, 2020
The enraged, polarized segments of the population are rapidly consolidating as the political center disintegrates.
The tinder that could soon ignite widespread violent conflagrations throughout the United States lies ominously stacked around us. Millions of disenfranchised white Americans, who see no way out of their economic and social misery, struggling with an emotional void, are seething with rage against a corrupt ruling class and bankrupt liberal elite that presides over political stagnation and grotesque, mounting social inequality.
Millions more alienated young men and women, also locked out of the economy and with no realistic prospect for advancement or integration, gripped by the same emotional void, have harnessed their fury in the name of tearing down the governing structures and anti-fascism. The enraged, polarized segments of the population are rapidly consolidating as the political center disintegrates. They stand poised to tear apart the United States, awash in military-grade weapons, unable to cope with the crisis of the COVID-19 pandemic and its economic fallout, cursed with militarized police forces that function as internal armies of occupation and de facto allies of the neofascists.
The spark that usually sets such tinder ablaze is martyrdom. Aaron “Jay” Danielson, a supporter of the right-wing group Patriot Prayer, was wearing a loaded Glock pistol in a holster and had bear spray and an expandable metal baton when he was shot dead on August 29, allegedly by Michael Forest Reinoehl, a supporter of antifa, in the streets of Portland. A woman in the crowd can be heard shouting after the shooting: “I am not sad that a fucking fascist died tonight.” On Thursday, Reinoehl, allegedly armed with a handgun, was shot and killed by federal agents in Washington state.
Once people start being sacrificed for the cause, it takes little for demagogues of the radical left and the radical right to insist that self-preservation necessitates violence and is a prerequisite for victory.
Violence is a narcotic. It fills the emotional void. It imparts a feeling of God-like omnipotence to the powerless. It instills feelings of comradeship and belonging to the alienated. It gives to social outcasts, crippled by humiliation and rejection, a sense of meaning and higher purpose. It obliterates the despair that once defined their lives and replaces it with feelings of ecstatic self-importance and self-adulation, a state of being outside the self. The world suddenly becomes a Manichean battleground between them and us, the forces of dark and the forces of light.
When I wrote War is a Force That Gives Us Meaning, a reflection on the culture of war after two decades as a correspondent in Central America, Africa, The Middle East and the Balkans, I meant it. I have seen this dark elixir at work in other disintegrating societies. I know too intimately the rush that violence engenders, the overpowering lusts that seize a mob or armed unit when it destroys, even human beings, and the heady attraction of suspending all personal morality and individual responsibility for the wild intoxication of violence. It is the absence of empathy, perhaps the best definition of evil.
The words left and right, once violence becomes the primary form of communication, are meaningless. These are death cults. They venerate and worship death. The martyrs justify the murder of the enemy, including the detested voices that call for understanding, reconciliation and nonviolence. To suggest anything other than the total annihilation of the enemy—and the enemy includes all who do not fully and uncritically support the cause—is apostasy. It is the dead who rule. Their voices cry out from beyond the grave demanding vengeance and new heroes and martyrs to take their place. There are constant and repeated acts of remembrance for the fallen.
The body of Michael Reinoehl is taken away early Friday morning, Sept. 4, 2020, in Lacey, WA. Reinoehl was killed Thursday night as investigators moved in to arrest him after he had been suspected of fatally shooting a supporter of a right-wing group in Portland, Oregon, last week after a caravan of Donald Trump backers rode through downtown Portland. [AP Photo/Ted S. Warren]
This cult of the dead is integral to combat units in the military. Those who attend the Ranger Assessment and Selection Program, an 8-week course held at Fort Benning, Georgia, to become an Army Ranger must select a “Ranger in the sky” who was killed in action. Recruits, who are warned not to pick Pat Tillman, are required to know the details of the dead Ranger’s personal life before enlistment and his military career. They must carry this information on a piece of paper with them at all times. It is an inspectable item. Idealists, seeking to lift themselves up from the depths of social obscurity and be fêted as heroes, become, whether as Army Rangers or members of violent militias, willing sacrificial victims. But as deaths accumulate, these martyrs, once so important and precious, disappear into faceless, nameless piles of corpses.
The Nazi Party in 1930 found its primary martyr in the 19-year-old brownshirt Horst Wessel who led a branch of the Nazi paramilitaries that attacked Communists, especially those who made up the rival Communist militia the Red Front-Fighters’ League (RFB). Wessel was shot dead by Albrecht “Ali” Höhler, a Communist militant and petty criminal — later assassinated by the Nazis — after a complaint was made to the party about Wessel by his Communist landlady. Wessel instantly became a “martyr for the Third Reich.” The Horst Wessel song became the official anthem of the Nazi Party. Fascist and Communist violence, with deaths on both sides, exploded in the streets of Weimar Germany in the early 1930s. The mayhem, much of it instigated by the fascists, eventually exhausted the German public and made it susceptible to the right-wing and fascist promises to impose law and order.
Martyrdom also played a central role in the eruption of the war in the former Yugoslavia. On March 1, 1992, a wedding procession of Bosnian Serbs in Sarajevo was attacked by Ramiz Delalić, a career criminal and a Muslim known by his nicknameĆelo. The father of the groom, Nikola Gardović, was killed. A Serbian Orthodox priest was wounded. The shooting of Gardović, like that of Wessel, was used by Serb nationalists to whip up a blood fury. It saw Serbs erect armed barricades and roadblocks throughout the city, that led not long afterwards to a war in which most of Bosnia was destroyed, 2.2 million people were displaced from their homes and at least 100,000 died.
“It is the first death which infects everyone with the feeling of being threatened.”
I watched many funerals in Gaza for Palestinian martyrs. They were little more than recruiting ceremonies for militants and suicide bombers. A truck with a generator in the back and huge loudspeakers on the cab would be at the head of the funeral procession. The speakers would blast out verses from the Koran, along with slogans calling on heroes to fight and die for Palestine and become a “shaheed,” or martyr. Young boys would run alongside or behind the truck. The funeral processions made their way slowly down the dusty, narrow streets of the refugee camps, past the concrete hovels, the walls decorated with pictures of the newest martyr or murals that depicted past attacks, such as a bus with the Israeli Star of David on it being consumed in a fiery explosion. “Don’t be merciful to those inside,” the Arabic script read below the picture of the bus. “Blow it up! Hit it!”
“It is the first death which infects everyone with the feeling of being threatened,” wrote Elias Canetti, a Bulgarian refugee from Nazi persecution, in “Crowds and Power”:
“It is impossible to overrate the part played by the first dead man in the kindling of wars. Rulers who want to unleash war know very well that they must procure or invent a first victim. It need not be anyone of particular importance, and can even be someone quite unknown. Nothing matters except his death; and it must be believed that the enemy is responsible for this. Every possible cause of his death is suppressed except one: his membership of the group to which one belongs oneself.”
The flashing red lights are all around us. Joe Biden and the Democratic Party will do little to restore the social bonds or address the social inequality and disenfranchisement of tens of millions of Americans, now facing evictions and bankruptcy, which is fueling the social collapse. Donald Trump and the Republican Party, along with media outlets such as FOX News, in a bid to retain power, are fanning the flames of violence, seeing in the incitement of far-right mobs a route to a ruthless police state.
In armed conflicts, facts and truth no longer matter. Lies, if used to further the cause, become righteous. Truth, if it hurts the cause, is blasphemy. If your side commits an atrocity, it’s justified by an atrocity, real or invented, carried out by the enemy. The ends always justify the means. The moral universe is banished, replaced by a self-serving pseudo-morality.
“In the beginning war looks and feels like love,” I wrote in War is a Force That Gives Us Meaning. “But unlike love it gives nothing in return but an ever deepening dependence, like all narcotics, on the road to self-destruction. It does not affirm but places upon us greater and greater demands. It destroys the outside world until it is hard to live outside war’s grip. It takes a higher and higher dose to achieve any thrill. Finally, one ingests war only to remain numb. The world outside becomes, as Freud wrote, ‘uncanny.’ The familiar becomes strangely unfamiliar — many who have been to war find this when they return home. The world we once understood and longed to return to stands before us as alien, strange, and beyond our grasp.”
[Chris Hedges writes a regular original column for Scheerpost twice a month. Click here to sign up for email alerts.]
Chris Hedges is a Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist who was a foreign correspondent for fifteen years for The New York Times, where he served as the Middle East Bureau Chief and Balkan Bureau Chief for the paper. He previously worked overseas for The Dallas Morning News, The Christian Science Monitor, and NPR. He is the host of the Emmy Award-nominated RT America show On Contact.
How Trump Is Helping Tycoons Exploit the Pandemic
The secretive titan behind one of America’s largest poultry companies, who is also one of the President’s top donors, is ruthlessly leveraging the coronavirus crisis—and his vast fortune—to strip workers of protections.
By Jane Mayer
July 13, 2020
On June 22nd, in the baking heat of a parking lot a few miles inland from Delaware’s beaches, several dozen poultry workers, many of them Black or Latino, gathered to decry the conditions at a local poultry plant owned by one of President Donald Trump’s biggest campaign contributors. “We’re here for a reason that is atrocious,” Nelson Hill, an official with the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, told the small but boisterous crowd, which included top Democratic officials from the state, among them Senator Chris Coons. The union, part of the A.F.L.-C.I.O., represents some 1.3 million laborers in poultry-processing and meatpacking plants, as well as workers in grocery stores and retail establishments. Its members, many defined as “essential” workers—without the option of staying home—have been hit extraordinarily hard by the coronavirus. The union estimates that nearly thirty thousand of its workers in the food and health-care sectors have contracted covid-19, and that two hundred and thirty-eight of those have died.
For the previous forty-two years, a thousand or so laborers at the local processing plant, in Selbyville, had been represented by Local 27. Just two years earlier, the workers there had ratified a new five-year contract. But, Hill told the crowd, in the middle of the pandemic, as the number of infected workers soared, the plant’s owner, Mountaire Corporation—one of the country’s largest purveyors of chicken—conspired, along with Donald Trump, to “kick us out.”
Hill, who is Black and from a working-class family on the Delmarva Peninsula—a scrubby stretch of farmland that includes parts of Delaware, Maryland, and Virginia—was used to the area’s heat and humidity. But, as he spoke to the crowd, behind dark glasses, his face glistened with anger. “It’s greed, that’s what it is,” he said. “It’s a damn shame.”
The jobs at Mountaire rank as among the most dangerous and worst paid in America. Government statistics indicate that poultry and meat-processing companies report more severe injuries than other industries commonly assumed to be more hazardous, including coal mining and sawmilling. Between 2015 and 2018, on average, a slaughterhouse worker lost a body part, or went to the hospital for in-patient treatment, about every other day. Unlike meatpackers, two-thirds of whom belong to unions, only about a third of poultry workers are represented by organized labor—and those who are unionized face mounting pressure. The industry, which is dominated by large multinational corporations such as Mountaire, has grown increasingly concentrated, expanding its political influence while replacing unionized employees with contract hires, often immigrants or refugees. These vulnerable workers are technically hired by temp agencies, relieving poultry plants of accountability if documentation is lacking. Trump has weakened federal oversight of the industry while accepting millions of dollars in political donations from some of its most powerful figures, including Ronald Cameron, Mountaire’s reclusive owner. In 2016, Cameron gave nearly three million dollars to organizations supporting Trump’s candidacy.
Founded in Little Rock, Arkansas, but incorporated in Delaware, Mountaire has operations in five states. It reportedly generated more than $2.3 billion in revenue last year. Because it is owned almost entirely by Cameron—and because it supplies poultry to other companies that put their own labels on the meat—the company’s public profile is virtually nonexistent. Cameron himself has received almost no media attention. “I’ve tried mightily over the years to bump into him, but he lays low,” Max Brantley, a longtime editor at the Arkansas Times, told me. According to trade journals, however, Mountaire has been spectacularly successful. Arkansas Business reported that the company’s sales in 2019 were a billion dollars higher than they were in 2010, nearly doubling the size of the business. Information on profits isn’t available, but as Mountaire’s revenues have risen wages for poultry workers have fallen even further behind. In 2002, workers were paid twenty-four per cent less than the national average for manufacturing jobs; today, they are paid forty-four per cent less. On average, poultry workers now earn less than fourteen dollars an hour.
By long-standing custom, labor contracts are binding for at least three years, giving a union time to prove its value to members. But in April a laborer at the Selbyville plant, Oscar Cruz Sosa, raised a legal objection to the contract, arguing that he’d been forced to join the union and pay dues against his will. He wanted a vote on whether to decertify the union. Mountaire maintains that it played no role in Cruz Sosa’s actions, and that the move to decertify the union was “entirely employee-driven.” But Cruz Sosa has had some outside help. His case was supported by lawyers from the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, the foremost anti-union advocacy group, which is funded by undisclosed tax-deductible donations. Meanwhile, a mysterious group calling itself the Oscar Cruz Committee for Employee Rights sent out mailings, in English, supporting Cruz Sosa’s complaint. (Cruz Sosa speaks only Spanish.) The return address was the Rehoboth Beach branch of MailBiz, which rents post-office boxes.
Jonathan Williams, a spokesperson for the union, suspects that Cruz Sosa was a stalking horse. “It’s not hard to find one individual, who may get special privileges from management, and who maybe is offered a future position,” he told me. “It’s very, very rare, though, when an employee does the research, contacts the Department of Labor, and goes through all this effort. Usually, someone is being coached.” (Cruz Sosa didn’t respond to interview requests.)
“Can I get my badge now?”
When the union reached out to Cruz Sosa, his lawyers filed a grievance with the National Labor Relations Board, claiming harassment. The specific legal dispute is abstruse. Mark Mix, the president of the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, has called the contract’s language “illegal,” claiming that it didn’t make sufficiently clear that—as stipulated by law—new employees had thirty days to decide whether to join the union. The union argues that applications presented to new employees are unambiguous about the time frame, and says that the current contract has virtually the same boilerplate used in every contract with Mountaire since 1982.
After Cruz Sosa got thirty per cent of his co-workers to sign a petition, the National Labor Relations Board ordered an election at the Selbyville plant. When the union protested that this would violate the customary bar on overturning contracts before three years, the N.L.R.B. decided to broaden the case, reëxamining the entire concept of barring challenges to settled union contracts. The move has shocked labor-law experts. By statute, the N.L.R.B. has five members and is bipartisan, but the Trump Administration has filled only three seats, all with Republicans.
Given the pandemic, the union argued that there was no way an in-person election could be safely and fairly held in Sussex County, where Selbyville is situated. Delaware’s governor had declared a state of emergency on March 23rd, because of the surge in covid-19 cases, almost half of them in Sussex County, which has many poultry plants. The union asked for a stay, but on June 24th the N.L.R.B. moved to proceed with the election, by mail. The ballots that were sent out must be received by July 14th. Meanwhile, the board will weigh the larger question of whether such elections are legal, potentially overturning a precedent that dates back to the New Deal.
“We’re really being let down by the federal agencies,” Williams, the union spokesperson, said. He also lamented a shift at the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the division of the Labor Department that enforces workplace safety. Since osha’s inception, in 1970, the agency has enforced federal law that makes it illegal to subject employees to “recognized hazards.” But during the pandemic the Times editorial board has been prompted to ask, “Why is osha awol?” Democrats pushed for the agency to issue an emergency rule forcing businesses to comply with the Centers for Disease Control’s health guidelines for covid-19, but the Labor Department refused.
Instead, on April 28th, forty-eight hours after Tyson Foods, the world’s second-largest meat company, ran a full-page ad in several newspapers warning that “the food supply chain is breaking,” Trump issued an executive order defining slaughterhouse workers as essential. The White House had appointed Cameron to an advisory board on the pandemic’s economic impact. The executive order commanded meat-processing facilities to “continue operations uninterrupted to the extent possible.” The Labor Department released an accompanying statement that all but indemnified companies for exposing workers to covid-19. It assured employers in essential industries that the agency wouldn’t hold them responsible if they failed to follow the C.D.C.’s health guidelines, as long as they made a “good faith” effort.
Meat and poultry workers had to keep working and risk infection—or lose their jobs. By July 7th, osha had received more than six thousand coronavirus-related workplace complaints but had issued only one citation, to a nursing home in Georgia. David Michaels, a professor of public health at George Washington University, who headed oshaduring the Obama Administration, told me that the agency was “saying that the Labor Department would side with the employers if workers sued,” and added, “That would be unthinkable in any other Administration. osha’s job isn’t to protect corporations—it’s to protect workers!”
The prospect of food shortages understandably caused concern in the White House. Yet reports show that in April, as Tyson and other producers were warning that “millions of pounds of meat will disappear” from American stores if they had to shut down, exports of pork to China broke records—and Mountaire’s chicken exports were 3.4 per cent higher than they were a year earlier. The next month, the company’s exports were 10.9 per cent lower than in 2019, but its exports to China and Hong Kong grew by 23.1 per cent in April and by fourteen per cent in May, according to statistics provided by Christopher Rogers, an analyst with Panjiva, which tracks the food-supply chain. Tony Corbo, a lobbyist for Food and Water Watch, a progressive nonprofit advocacy group, said, “They were crying about shortages, and yet we’re still exporting meat. The shortage was phony.”
Meanwhile, coronavirus cases exploded in the meat-and-poultry industry. Initially, Mountaire released statistics about employee infections. At the end of March, the company told the union that there had been forty-one cases in Selbyville. However, Hill’s shop steward, Manuel Rosales, told him not to trust this number. “Half the plant isn’t there,” he explained, either because the workers were sick or because they feared becoming so. A month later, a television station in North Carolina reported that a Mountaire plant, in Siler City, which employs some sixteen hundred workers, had at least seventy-four positive cases among workers and their families. After that, the company stopped sharing its covid-19 numbers. Mountaire became so secretive, Hill said, that workers “were seeing people disappear, and they didn’t know what the hell was going on.” In many cases, a “co-worker had tested positive, but the company wouldn’t tell anyone.” Rosales, who works in the deboning department at the Selbyville plant, told me, “People are coughing and they don’t look well, but they just want to keep the chicken coming. It’s all hush-hush.”
Cathy Bassett, the communications director for Mountaire Farms of Delaware, confirmed, “We’re not releasing any numbers,” adding, “I don’t even know those numbers. We’ve told our workers that if you’ve been exposed we’ll notify you.” According to Hill, the company argued to the union that it was protecting employee privacy. “They were hiding behind it,” Hill told me. “We weren’t asking for private health information—we were just trying to report the numbers.”
Corbo said that, after “the President said these plants had to stay open,” the meat and poultry companies “clammed up.” Trump’s executive order was interpreted as superseding state and local health departments. In a private conversation with the union, Delaware’s governor, John Carney, a Democrat, admitted that he had wanted universal testing in the plants, and had considered ordering them shut, but felt “handcuffed” by Trump’s order. The result has been an extraordinary blackout of public-health information. “I can look online and find the number of covid-19 cases in nursing homes,” Corbo said. “But not in the poultry industry. If you walk into a poultry plant, you don’t know whether the person next to you has got it. It’s unconscionable.”
The union also maintains that Mountaire charged employees for the protective equipment necessary for them to work safely. The company denies this: Bassett told me that Mountaire has distributed cloth masks to workers, although not N95 masks, and, “where possible,” has erected Plexiglas shields between employees, along with instituting daily body-temperature checks. But Williams, the union spokesperson, sent me a screenshot of a Mountaire paycheck stub that shows deductions for “plant supplies.” Williams said that the supplies in question were “gloves and aprons and such,” adding that deductions like these were illegal. At the rally, Hill protested that, if Mountaire’s owner could afford to give “two or three million dollars—or whatever it was he gave—to Trump, they shouldn’t be stealing money from workers’ paychecks.” Noting that Cameron is “Trump’s buddy,” Hill added, “I guess they feel like they can do whatever they want.”
The union’s struggles with the Labor Department are part of a much larger reversal of federal protections for workers, consumers, and the environment under Trump. In 2016, the President promised to “dismantle the regulatory state,” as Stephen Bannon, his former White House strategist, often put it. Given the complexities of federal rulemaking, this proved somewhat difficult in the first three years of the Administration. But the pandemic has offered Trump an opportunity: now that he can invoke an economic emergency, he can relax, rescind, or suspend federal regulations by fiat. In May and June, Trump issued a pair of executive orders directing national agencies to ignore federal regulations and environmental laws if they burdened the economy—again, in many instances, the companies were told that they just had to act “in good faith.” As the Times and the Washington Post have reported, these moves have weakened regulations on all kinds of businesses, from trucking companies to oil and gas pipelines. In Corbo’s view, many in the media have missed one of the biggest aspects of the covid-19 story. “Everyone is looking at the shiny object—the pandemic,” he said. “Meanwhile, the government is deregulating everything. It’s unreal.”
Cartoon by Bruce Eric KaplanIn April, for instance, the United States Department of Agriculture granted fifteen waivers to poultry plants, including a Mountaire facility in North Carolina, authorizing them to increase the number of birds per minute—or B.P.M.—that workers must process. The waivers enabled companies to accelerate the pace from a hundred and forty B.P.M. to a hundred and seventy-five. Angela Stuesse, an anthropologist at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, who has studied the poultry industry, told me that, in the chicken business, “you make pennies on a pound.” Among the few ways to increase profits are squeezing labor costs and accelerating line speeds, which are set by the U.S.D.A. to accommodate federal inspectors, who are supposed to assess every bird. The regulations have long been a point of contention between poultry-plant owners and unions, because as the line speed increases so do injuries and other stresses on workers’ bodies. “They move the birds so fast, you have to be really close together to get every bird,” Williams, the union spokesperson, told me. “It’s like the ‘I Love Lucy’ episode at the chocolate factory.” Even though the C.D.C. has emphasized that social distancing is necessary to maintain safety, faster production lines require more workers, who must then squeeze closer together. In many areas of a plant, poultry workers already stand two feet apart at most, often facing one another. Nonetheless, the U.S.D.A. has now indicated that it plans to permit faster line speeds throughout the poultry industry. The National Chicken Council, the industry’s trade group, had lobbied for precisely this change. Williams fears that “these policies will result in the deaths of many more workers.”
Debbie Berkowitz, a program director at the National Employment Law Project, a pro-labor group, who previously headed the health-and-safety division of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union, told me that, thanks to the pandemic, “the Chamber of Commerce is getting everything they always wanted.” An analysis of public records by her group found that, of the fifteen poultry plants granted waivers to increase line speeds in April, eight had covid-19 outbreaks at the time. “If you’re a worker in a plant bursting with covid-19, it’s a shitshow for you,” Berkowitz said. “The industry is getting away with murdering people.”
Michaels, the former osha head, told me, “We’re very much back in Upton Sinclair’s ‘The Jungle’ ”—the 1906 novel that exposed abuses in the meat industry. The book so shocked Americans that President Theodore Roosevelt ordered an immediate investigation of slaughterhouses. The result was landmark consumer-protection legislation that formed the foundation of today’s Food and Drug Administration. But, for the past four decades, wealthy donors to the Republican Party have pushed hard for the dismantling of Progressive Era reforms and later curbs on corporate power. The 1980 platform of the Libertarian Party, which was underwritten by the billionaire conservative donors Charles and David Koch, laid out a road map, calling for the abolition of almost every federal agency, including the F.D.A. Although Trump claims to be a defender of the working class, he has delighted wealthy donors—and their pressure groups, such as the Club for Growth—by reliably serving their agenda. Michaels told me, “Mountaire and others are taking advantage of the covid-19 crisis to say, ‘We need more chickens.’ The Trump Administration is aiding and abetting this. They’re saying, ‘Produce more food,’ regardless of the cost to workers. If companies cared as much about their workers as they do about their chickens, we’d be a better country.”
The union rally in Delaware wrapped up with a surprisingly impassioned endorsement from Chris Coons—ordinarily a moderate in the Senate and a booster of the state’s poultry industry. Coons, who studied at Yale’s divinity school while getting a law degree there, later told me that supporting the union had become a moral imperative. Addressing the rally, he explained that the labor showdown had brought to a head three crises: “We’ve got a pandemic that’s already taken more than a hundred and twenty thousand American lives. We’ve got a recession that’s already knocked forty million people out of work. And we’ve got a nation where millions of people have taken to the streets in the month after George Floyd was murdered by a police officer.” Coons concluded, “All three of those come together in this moment, in this vote tomorrow, because the plants of the Delaware poultry industry only work because of Black and brown workers, and they only have safe conditions because of organized labor.”
As the temperature in the parking lot climbed into the nineties, the rally dispersed. The participants drove in a convoy to the Selbyville plant, in a show of support for the upcoming vote. The facility is a hulking mass of industrial tanks and largely windowless buildings crisscrossed by a maze of metal pipes and ventilation shafts. Surrounded by concrete barriers and chain-link fences, the complex has the feel of a prison.
A few miles away, at the Oasis truck stop, I met with an employee from the Selbyville plant. A feisty mother with three kids still at home, she explained, with a laugh, that she had put on her “Tina Turner wig” for the occasion.
She had worked in Mountaire’s chicken plant, off and on, for years, after attending a local high school. Although she and her co-workers had felt frightened as more and more colleagues disappeared after contracting covid-19, she was grateful to the pandemic for one thing. “I’ve wanted to speak out for so long—I thank God that this pandemic happened, so that my voice can be heard,” she told me. “It’s terrible in there. I want these people exposed.”
She asked to speak anonymously, because she feared retribution both from Mountaire and from local racists, who, she said, seemed more aggressive recently toward African-Americans like her; when out shopping, she had noticed more Confederate-flag paraphernalia on public display. But she was eager to describe working conditions so exploitative that, as she put it, “it’s slavery, baby.”
Typically, her shift begins at 8:18 a.m. and lasts until 4:54 p.m. Since her youngest child is still a toddler, she works less than full time. As a result, she has lost her seniority, and gets only one week of vacation a year; workers don’t get two weeks until they’ve been employed for four full years. “You know what they give us for Christmas?” she said. “You think I ever got a bonus since working there? They give us two whole chickens and a bag of potatoes. Every year, that’s all we get.” She was paid about thirteen dollars an hour until the pandemic hit. Mountaire then instituted a hazard-pay raise of a dollar an hour, but in June the raise was cancelled. Even local convenience stores, she noted, gave workers a three-dollar-an-hour raise. “And then Mountaire took it back!” she said, shaking her head. “Why are they giving us a one-dollar raise and giving two million dollars to Donald Trump? What are we, animals?”
She works in the refrigerated side of the plant, handling eviscerated carcasses. The temperature, she said, is so cold that “it’s unbearable.” Although she is under fifty, she said that she already has arthritis. “Listen, girl,” she said. “My body hurts from that place. My hands. The cold air. Imagine you got to put your hands on that cold meat. I mean, sometimes it’s so cold I have to go home.”
She and other workers complained that, even before the coronavirus struck, their respiratory systems had suffered from inhaling harsh antimicrobial chemicals, such as peracetic acid, that are used to protect chicken from contamination. When she walks through some parts of the plant, “I hold my breath,” she told me.
When the pandemic hit, she said, “a lot of people died.” She wasn’t sure how many fatalities there had been, because her bosses were “not talking about it.” One co-worker she considered a friend—an elderly man named Hyung Lee, who was known as Pop Pop—disappeared. “Everything was hush-hush,” she said. “It was just ‘Go in there and do your work.’ ” Eventually, Lee’s son called to say that Lee had died from pneumonia brought on by covid-19, and that Lee’s wife was now “fighting for her life.”
“Oh, good! You’re moving out!”
The employee said of Lee, “God, it took him out. I’m hurt. I cried my ass off.” But management was silent. “You think the owner cares about people dying in that hell?” she said. “No! You think they posted one picture of a person who died, in memory of somebody? Nothing. Not one picture.” A co-worker confirmed this account and added, “They didn’t even take up a collection for the family.”
Soon afterward, the employee said, she warned her supervisor that another friend at the plant, an émigré from Guatemala, seemed sick. The supervisor sent the woman to see the company nurse. The employee told me, “The nurse sent her right back on the God-damned line to work. The nurses aren’t worth shit in there.”
ADVERTISEMENTThe Guatemalan woman eventually stopped showing up for work. One day, one of her four sons called and said that his mother was sick with covid-19 and was on a ventilator. “That woman worked right by me!” the employee told me. “I prayed for her.” The Guatemalan woman recovered, but vowed not to return to Mountaire. The employee told me, “It’s an evil company.”
According to the Washington Post, in April and May at least twenty-two hundred poultry workers on the Delmarva Peninsula contracted covid-19, and at least seventeen died. Delaware health officials began testing workers outside poultry plants, and at one plant thirty per cent of the results were positive. The paper reported that one infected Mountaire worker, in an effort to protect her family, tried to quarantine herself for two weeks in a windowless bathroom, sleeping on a foam mat. After the company provided two weeks of partial sick pay, it paid her nothing during the additional month it took her to recover. At the Oasis truck stop, the employee said of Mountaire, “They have all these signs that say stuff like ‘In God We Trust.’ But how, in a pandemic, can you treat people like this?”
Bassett, the Mountaire spokesperson, said, “This has really been a challenge for everyone. We tried to follow the C.D.C. guidelines, but they changed.” At first, the C.D.C. had advised that anybody exposed to the virus should quarantine for two weeks. But, Bassett said, “at some point the C.D.C. realized essential workers were being sent home for fourteen days.” Williams alleges that the C.D.C. rolled back its recommendation “after interventions from lobbyists and Trump.” As Bassett acknowledges, employees were henceforth permitted to quarantine only “if they were symptomatic.”
In a filing to the N.L.R.B., Mountaire conceded that it did not conduct its first plant-wide testing in Selbyville until May 27th. Thirty-four workers, it says, tested positive, and none were symptomatic—underlining the inadequacy of sending home only people with symptoms. Another surge appears to be coming: in late June, word spread through the Selbyville plant that fifteen more workers had been sent home because of the virus.
Bassett emphasized that, when the pandemic hit, Mountaire began offering paid sick leave even to contract workers, who ordinarily got none. The company also temporarily suspended a point system, detested by employees, that penalized them for missing work. “Managers in our plants have good relationships with our workers,” Bassett said, adding, “We are blessed, because there is medical care on the premises.”
The employee I met at the truck stop scoffed at this notion. She said that Mountaire had offered workers just five days of paid sick leave, and only at sixty per cent of their regular pay. Sick employees, she noted, couldn’t afford to stay home on such reduced wages: “People have to feed their families.” She paused. “It’s miserable,” she said. “The struggle’s real, but I’m thankful for what I’ve got. I wish I could have a whole lot more. But I’m thankful.”
She and her husband, who is self-employed, can’t afford the health-care plan offered by Mountaire. They rely on Medicaid, and on food stamps. Moreover, the quality of the company’s on-site medical care, she said, is poor—an opinion validated by osha, which, in December, 2016, levied a forty-thousand-dollar fine against Mountaire, which was partly for medical mismanagement. (Mountaire contested the citations but eventually settled.) osha launched an inspection of the company after the tip of a worker’s thumb was amputated. A second employee, it emerged, had also injured a thumb, and had asked to visit an emergency room; the doctor provided by the company’s health plan sent him back to work. A week later, a hospital X-ray revealed an open fracture.
At the time, Mountaire had a licensed practical nurse offering first aid, in what the company calls its “medical department.” The nurse had claimed to be making treatment decisions under the direction of a local doctor. But, when osha inspectors contacted the doctor, he said that he didn’t work for the company, and had never set foot in the plant. “There was no clinical oversight,” Kathleen Fagan, a retired physician with osha’s medical unit, told me, after reviewing an internal report. The nurse’s responsibility included keeping a log of worker injuries, as required by federal law, but osha found that workers were discouraged from complaining, and were unfairly accused of lying about health problems—likely in an effort by the company to avoid reporting injuries.
At the Oasis truck stop, the Mountaire employee told me that she was “praying for Local 27.” She suspected that the company wanted to replace the union employees with contract workers, many of whom, she said, were “illegal, temp-agency” hires who came from other countries. She understood why such immigrants took the jobs, but the terms of employment were “highway robbery.” She said, “Mountaire gives them less—no sick pay, no vacation. They can terminate you. That’s what they want.”
Before the employee drove off, she noted, “I’ve never seen the owner, long as I’ve been working at that company. I don’t even know the owner’s name. I just know that Little Rock is where the big headquarters is.” She said she’d heard that the owner was “doing business with Donald Trump.” She had a question: “How rich is Mountaire? They’re rich, aren’t they?”
“If I’m going to be your knight in shining armor, somebody’s got to polish it.”
Cartoon by Liana FinckThe house in Little Rock where Ronald Cameron grew up was perched high on the best street in town, Edgehill Road. The road was dyed pink—nobody recalls why—but it might as well have been painted gold. The Cameron family, who owned an animal-feed business, had a house with two-story pillars out front, and a porte cochère over which two Black servants lived. One was the cook, Lucille, who delighted the four Cameron children with her homemade chocolate pies; her brother, Robert, worked as the butler. When the Camerons spent summer weekends at a lake house, in Hot Springs, Lucille and Robert often accompanied them. A family friend remembers her squeezing fresh orange juice for breakfast, “just spoiling us.”
Ronnie Cameron, as he is still known today, was born in 1945, and was his parents’ only son. His sister Amanda, who is five years older, told me, “My father was a very generous man. He always made sure I had everything. But the minute my brother was born—it was the South, he was the son—he was raised, reinforced, and groomed better. It was hard for me.” She said of her brother, “He was almost worshipped. He was raised to be the prince.”
The feed company, which later became Mountaire, had been founded in Arkansas in 1914 by Ronnie’s grandfather, Guy Cameron. Guy’s son, G. Ted Cameron, who took over in 1948, began not just supplying but also buying up chicken farms.
By the time her father was running the firm, Amanda said, many of the workers were Black. She says that her father taught his children to show respect to everyone, but she acknowledges that racism was prevalent. In 1957, the governor of Arkansas deployed the National Guard to Little Rock, in an attempt to block nine Black students from integrating Little Rock Central High School. That year, Amanda’s parents sent her to a new public high school on the wealthier side of town. Amanda recalls the choral instructor teaching that “Black people could never pronounce the English language properly, because of the construction of their mouths.” At the time, this didn’t faze her: “I was a typical convertible-driving, self-centered débutante, whizzing through life.” It wasn’t until she read James Baldwin, and married and moved away, that she realized how bigoted her upbringing had been and rebelled against the family.
After living in San Francisco, divorcing, and growing disenchanted with the counterculture, Amanda returned to her family’s conservative roots. She said of her brother, “We have a horrible relationship, but I love him.” She added, “I support Trump, and am thrilled my brother is doing what he’s doing.” Trump, she believes, is the only thing standing between America and communism.
Ronnie Cameron followed a more conventional path. Blond, handsome, and well mannered, he left a good impression on schoolmates, but he, too, had a defiant streak. According to one of his best friends in high school, Bobby Duffy, who later became the culture editor of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Cameron was given a Ford Falcon at a young age, and was a “very reckless driver.” Duffy said, “It was white knuckles all the way—and if you told him to slow down he’d go even faster. Just like Trump, when challenged he’d double down.”
Cameron’s father was a Republican, and by the time Ronnie enrolled in college, at the University of Arkansas, he was one, too. Patrick Hays, who joined the same fraternity as Cameron a few years later, eventually became the mayor of North Little Rock; he recalls Cameron telling him that he was the only Democrat to whom he’d contribute, because the mayor dealt with mundane issues, such as collecting garbage. The Cameron family was firmly anti-union, a sentiment that was evident in a telegram that Ronnie’s father sent to President Lyndon Johnson in 1968—the year that Ronnie joined the family business. In the telegram, his father asked the President to intervene in a railroad strike, warning that it could ruin the Arkansas poultry industry. The strike, which lasted for five days, was settled the day after the telegram was sent, but the battle lines were drawn.
Arkansas had an ugly, racist history with organized labor. In 1944, legislators had proposed a so-called “right to work” amendment to the state constitution, which would prohibit making union membership or paying union dues a condition of employment. The Arkansas Farm Bureau Federation had pushed for the change, in alliance with a group calling itself the Christian American Association, which warned that unless the amendment passed “white women and white men will be forced into organizations with black African apes . . . whom they will have to call ‘brother’ or lose their jobs.” A similar drive in California failed that year, but in Arkansas, where Jim Crow laws and other forms of voting-rights discrimination disenfranchised many Black citizens, the amendment passed, insuring that poultry workers, and other low-wage workers, would have little bargaining power. North Carolina, where Mountaire has two poultry-processing plants, is also a right-to-work state; Selbyville is the only location where the company has a slaughter plant at which workers have organized.
Mountaire prospered under Ted Cameron, but Amanda told me that he was an alcoholic, which “was hard on everyone, but especially Ronnie.” In 1978, five years after Ronnie succeeded his father as president, Ted was found dead, in his swimming pool. “Either a person succumbs to those hard family things or rises,” Amanda told me. “I think it made Ronnie a more private person.” She added, “Ronnie’s a tough cookie. He’s seen weaknesses in people, and just toughened up.”
Pratt Remmel, who grew up down the street from the Camerons, recalls Amanda telling him bitterly, as an adult, that her brother “was in control of the family money.” She told me that it had been her choice “not to be part of it anymore.” Yet, she added, “the company was given to Ronnie.” The division of Mountaire’s shares isn’t public, and messages to its corporate headquarters went unanswered. A. Larry Ross, who is a spokesperson for evangelical leaders, and who travels in Ronnie Cameron’s social circle, forwarded my request for an interview, but there was no reply. A well-informed source said that, in the past, Cameron had held at least sixty-nine per cent of Mountaire’s shares. The company’s other shareholders are believed to include a few top executives and family members. Cameron’s son-in-law Kevin Garland is Mountaire’s C.E.O.
Cameron has been married three times. According to Amanda, his first marriage, which started when he was quite young, didn’t last long. He then married a former Breck Girl model, Sherrill Heerwagen. Duffy told me that Heerwagen, with whom Cameron had two children, learned that he was divorcing her only after her mother-in-law read about it in the local paper. (Heerwagen died in 2018.) Cameron’s current wife, Nina, is the daughter of a fundamentalist preacher and, according to Amanda, is “very Biblically based.” Nina once appeared on a Christian program, describing her effort to convert an anti-religious patient in a nursing home. After Nina sensed a “prompting of the Holy Spirit,” she flew the woman’s son in to visit, and it melted the woman’s resistance to reading the Bible. “She was seeing Christ in me,” Nina said. Cameron was raised an Episcopalian, but he and his wife now attend one of Little Rock’s biggest evangelical churches, Fellowship Bible. A hub of social conservatism, it lists condemnation of homosexuality as among its key beliefs, stating on its Web site that “Adam and Eve were made to complement each other in a one-flesh union that establishes the only normative pattern of sexual relations for men and women.”
Six years ago, Duffy told me, he ran into Cameron at a memorial service. They hadn’t seen each other in years, but, because they had been close in school, Duffy felt that he could speak openly about his life. “You know I’m gay, don’t you?” he said.
“I am not now, nor will I ever be, bored enough for pinochle.”
Cartoon by William Haefeli“Yes,” Cameron replied. “And I also know you’re going to Hell.” He turned his back and walked away.
“I was stunned,” Duffy told me. “I think he became very devout, and then, at some point, the devotion went to the right.”
Mountaire’s official creed says, “Good stewards of all the assets that God has entrusted to us.” Cameron increasingly began using his share of the company’s assets to influence American policy and politics by funding socially conservative and business-friendly candidates and advocacy groups. Low-level poultry workers have been described as cogs in a perpetual-motion machine, but big-donor politics can also be a kind of perpetual-motion machine—one that recycles profits to perpetuate profits.
By 2001, Cameron had extended his sphere of influence beyond Arkansas by becoming a director of one of the Washington area’s most secretive and best-connected religious organizations: the Fellowship Foundation, also known as the Family. Its public face is as the presenter of the annual National Prayer Breakfast, but it has also courted influential converts by offering dormitory-like housing for members of Congress in a mansion near the Capitol, and by hosting prayer sessions for V.I.P.s at another mansion, in northern Virginia. The Fellowship Foundation has purported to be politically neutral, but it was launched, in 1935, by a Seattle minister, Abraham Vereide, who viewed the historic labor strikes spreading across the West Coast that year as satanic. At prayer breakfasts, Vereide helped mobilize powerful business leaders to crush the insurrection.
Defenders of the Fellowship Foundation argue that it does good by disseminating the teachings of Christ to those in a position to make a difference. But critics such as Jeff Sharlet, a journalist who has written two books about the group, see its blurring of church and state as a threat to democracy. Cameron has long been a major funder of the group, typifying what Sharlet sees as its conflation of big business and Christian nationalism. After Cameron, in 2009, retired from the board, another Mountaire executive, W. Dabbs Cavin, became the group’s president, serving until 2016.
“It’s like the Dead Poets Society—a club no one knows about that is vital to its participants,” Eric Williams, the senior pastor of North Congregational United Church of Christ, in Columbus, Ohio, told me. A group that he led, Clergy Voice, has questioned the Fellowship Foundation’s authenticity as a faith-based organization. “It’s an old boys’ club,” he told me. “They think God favors the powerful, and that Jesus came as a leader of the rich and powerful, not of the powerless.” He added, “They should just own up to what they are—the American Religion of Autocratic Capitalism.”
Hays, the former North Little Rock mayor, recalls that Cameron once flew him to Washington, in a private jet, for the National Prayer Breakfast. “Ronnie’s got a strong religious affiliation, certainly—he’s a man of principle,” he said. But his conservative views, Hays speculates, are also driven by his corporate interests: “He’s business-oriented. It’s about free enterprise, reductions of regulations.”
For tax purposes, the Fellowship Foundation must skirt politics. But it has repeatedly stirred political controversy by cozying up to members of Congress and by forming ties with antidemocratic world leaders, including a Ugandan official who promoted the death penalty for homosexuality. In 2015, the Center for Responsive Politics revealed that the group had paid for the international travel of a congressman and his wife, and that Cavin, the Mountaire executive serving as the Fellowship Foundation’s president at the time, had signed the expense forms. The congressman, Robert Aderholt, a Republican from Alabama, insisted that the travel had been strictly religious in purpose, but the payment provoked criticism because Aderholt was the chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, which has substantial influence over poultry policy. In an interview with the Web site OpenSecrets, Meredith McGehee, then the director of the Campaign Legal Center, asked whether the Fellowship Foundation had been used “as a conduit for a poultry company.”
In 2016, Cameron reportedly discussed taking over the Fellowship Foundation. But some participants are wary of him, seeing him as an overbearing, hyperpartisan Trump supporter who is politicizing the group. Cameron’s business practices should also be of concern, according to Warren Throckmorton, an evangelical Christian and a psychology professor at Grove City College, in Pennsylvania, who has written about the Fellowship Foundation for Christianity Today. He said, “It matters how he treats his workers, because he’s making money off the backs of these people and is donating it to Christian causes—so there’s a moral connection.”
Cameron’s political activities extend well beyond the Fellowship Foundation. In 2004, he set up a private foundation, the Jesus Fund. Given the poverty of many Mountaire workers, the size of the fund is striking: according to the most recently available federal tax statement, the book value of the Jesus Fund’s assets in 2018 was three hundred and twenty-seven million dollars. The sole donors were Cameron and his company.
The gulf between Cameron’s spectacular wealth and his workers’ meagre circumstances echoes the findings of a recent study by two Harvard economists, Anna Stansbury and Lawrence H. Summers, the former economic adviser to President Bill Clinton and President Barack Obama. In the paper, “The Declining Worker Power Hypothesis,” Stansbury and Summers argue that, in the past four decades, the single largest driver of income inequality in America has been the decline in worker power, much of it stemming from the collapse of membership in private-sector unions. Since the fifties, the percentage of private-sector workers who belong to unions has declined from thirty-three per cent to six per cent. As a result, there has been an upward redistribution of income to high-income executives, owners, and shareholders. The economists argue that this decline in worker power, more than any other structural change in the economy, accounts for nearly all the gains in the share of income made by America’s wealthiest one per cent.
An outgrowth of this trend is the accumulation of enormous wealth and political influence by private foundations. The Jesus Fund has the same address as Cameron’s corporate office, in Little Rock, Arkansas, and shares the same phone number. A Mountaire administrative assistant who works in Cameron’s office also answers the phone for the Jesus Fund. (Calls to the number were not returned.) I.R.S. filings name Cameron and a former Mountaire employee as the fund’s sole trustees. The fund sometimes makes relatively small grants to secular charities—in 2015, it gave five thousand dollars to the Arkansas Hospice Foundation—but it contributes overwhelmingly to conservative Christian groups. In 2018, its only grant was an eighteen-million-dollar donation to the National Christian Foundation, in support of unidentified “organizations that esteem traditional, Scripture-based values for government.” Cameron’s fund could have donated to such organizations directly, but this approach kept the ultimate recipients of its money from public view. The N.C.F. is a “donor-advised fund,” and such groups redistribute charitable donations from various sources to many causes, acting as a middleman in a way that erases the fingerprints from any one gift. Donor-advised funds have become increasingly controversial, in part because they impede transparency.
The N.C.F. has been ranked as America’s eighth-largest charity, and in 2018 it redistributed $1.7 billion in grants to some twenty-six thousand organizations, ranging from the Boy Scouts to the Federalist Society. According to Inside Philanthropy, the N.C.F. has probably become the single largest funder of the anti-abortion movement. It is, for instance, a huge source of funding for the Alliance Defending Freedom, a group that facilitates lawsuits aiming to curb abortion and L.G.B.T.Q. rights, and also supports limiting insurance coverage for contraceptives—a position that the Supreme Court sided with in early July. The N.C.F. has supported twenty-three organizations that the Southern Poverty Law Center defines as hate groups, including the Alliance Defending Freedom.
In recent years, Cameron has also used his fortune to influence electoral politics. In a 2011 speech, Charles Koch praised him for being among a select group of backers who had given a million dollars or more to the Koch brothers’ political war chest, which became known as Freedom Partners. The next year, Freedom Partners gave a million dollars to the National Right to Work Committee, whose head, Mark Mix, had spoken at a Koch private-donor summit in 2010. In an illustration of how such contributions serve donors’ interests, Mix’s organization went on to represent Cruz Sosa, the Mountaire employee who is currently challenging the union.
By 2014, Cameron’s name was appearing on lists of the nation’s largest campaign contributors. He and his company spent $4.8 million on Republican candidates and groups that year. He was the biggest corporate donor to the Freedom Partners Action Fund, a Koch political-action committee. When Mountaire gave three million dollars to it, Cameron told Politico that it was “time to stand up and put my money where my mouth is.” He said that he worried about attracting publicity—“I work very hard to keep my name out of stuff”—but noted that he was even more worried about the possibility “that my grandkids could be living under Communism.” He told Bloomberg News that “Obamacare is a disaster,” characterizing it as an effort “to take over all of the private health-care services.” That year in Arkansas, Cameron heavily supported the successful Senate campaign of Tom Cotton, the archconservative former Army officer. And, according to the Wall Street Journal, Cameron helped Republicans get around campaign-finance restrictions in Maryland, where Larry Hogan, the Republican candidate for governor, appeared to be in trouble. The State of Maryland limits direct campaign contributions to candidates. The Republican Governors Association, which can spend as much as it wants, asked Mountaire for money. Late in the race, the company donated a quarter of a million dollars. The R.G.A. claims that it didn’t solicit the funds specifically for Maryland, but it went on to spend lavishly there. Hogan won, and on his inauguration day he blocked a proposal opposed by the poultry industry.
In 2016, Cameron made even bigger political contributions. After giving three million dollars in support of Mike Huckabee’s Presidential campaign—its largest donation—he gave two million dollars to Rebuilding America Now, a pro-Trump super pac. He and Nina contributed an additional $893,400 to Trump’s joint fund-raising committee. In the 2018 midterm elections, Cameron topped himself again; he and his company gave more than $7.7 million to Republican candidates, campaigns, and groups. His biggest gift went to a Koch-related organization pouring contributions directly into House and Senate campaigns. Cameron’s cash didn’t save the Republicans from big losses, but it did win him an invitation to an Election Night party with Trump at the White House, where guests were reportedly offered hot dogs and hamburgers, but no chicken.
This year, Cameron and the Koch network have reportedly been at odds, because Charles Koch, a libertarian, has declined to back Trump, whose leadership he has criticized. The network is expected to spend heavily in support of Republican House and Senate candidates but to stay out of the Presidential race, as it did in 2016. Cameron, who remains a strong Trump supporter, reportedly objected to the decision. He and Mountaire have already donated more than a million dollars in support of Trump’s reëlection, and about five million dollars to Republican candidates and electoral groups.
Before the 2016 elections, according to a well-informed source, members of Mountaire’s executive committee met. They complained that the Obama Administration had too many regulations—and discussed how much better it would be for the business if a Republican were President. It appears that Cameron’s bet on Trump has paid off.
Mountaire’s Web site says that it is now the sixth-largest poultry company in America. By 2019, thanks in part to lax antitrust enforcement in recent decades, the ten largest poultry companies controlled an estimated eighty per cent of the chicken market. Two current lawsuits question whether those gains were achieved entirely legally. A sweeping class-action suit representing chicken workers alleges that fourteen of the largest poultry companies, including Mountaire, illegally conspired to hold down the workers’ wages. And a suit filed by Maplevale Farms, which supplies food to restaurants, accuses many of the same poultry companies, including Mountaire, of having conspired since 2008 to fix chicken prices. Last year, the Justice Department halted the discovery process in the price-fixing suit so that it could launch its own investigation into the matter—raising the prospect of criminal charges. In both cases, the companies have denied the allegations.
Williams, the union spokesperson, called Mountaire’s culture particularly “brutal.” In 2010, the company settled a lawsuit in which it was accused of racial discrimination and retaliation. Three years later, it settled a class-action suit accusing it of charging workers for necessary protective clothing and of failing to pay them for the time spent putting it on; Mountaire denied the allegations but agreed to pay about eight million dollars. The same year, the company paid a fine of nearly fifty thousand dollars to resolve a retaliation case brought by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. At a Mountaire poultry plant in North Carolina, supervisors had allegedly discriminated against Haitian workers, denying them bathroom breaks, throwing chicken parts at them, and then firing a translator for complaining about this behavior.
Between 2010 and 2016, Mountaire had twice the number of oshaviolations per thousand workers as Tyson—a company with a workforce twelve times bigger. Since 2001, Mountaire has been responsible for a series of environmental and workplace violations in Delaware. The company currently stands accused of letting chicken-plant waste pollute the well water of at least eight hundred residents living near its plant in Millsboro, Delaware. Mountaire and state authorities reached a tentative settlement agreement, but the court hasn’t yet accepted it, and lawyers representing some of the affected residents are pursuing a class-action suit.
George Farah, a lawyer representing the poultry workers who are accusing Mountaire of fixing wages, told me that “it’s remarkable that someone committed to Christianity” would run a company the way Cameron has. “I think Jesus would have wanted the workers at Mountaire to be compensated more effectively and treated with more dignity,” Farah added. “But there’s a history in the poultry world where, every time a voice has stood up for the workers, they’ve been displaced by an even more vulnerable group.”
At the Oasis truck stop, the Mountaire employee expressed disgust that, in the middle of a pandemic, she might be replaced by someone paid even worse—a worker who had likely come from a foreign land to seek opportunity. “I’m telling you, Donald Trump wants to make this a Third World country,” she said. “Treat them like slave dogs. They come to the Land of the Free—but, honey, it isn’t free anymore.” ♦
Published in the print edition of the July 20, 2020, issue, with the headline “Back to the Jungle.”
Jane Mayer, The New Yorker’s chief Washington correspondent, is the author of “Dark Money.”
“GET YOUR SUCK BAGS” NOW! TIME TO “RAISE OUR SPIRITS UP TO GOD!” BY “ASCENSION THURSDAY 2022” AT THE LATEST!
MY MAJOR SCIENTIFIC ARGUMENTS: “HERD GENOCIDE“ - NOT - “HERD IMMUNITY!“ “It Is THE END!” BY 2030-2040! BY 2025 THE GULF & FLORIDA WILL BE DESTROYED BY “THE MONSTER SUPER STORMS” - EXIT NOW!
MOVE TO - CANADA - NOW! IF YOU CAN! BANF TO LAKE SUPERIOR UP TO HUDSON BAY, EAST. NORDIC COUNTRIES. NEW ZEALAND IF YOU CAN AFFORD TO. LAKE TAHOE, LAKE CHAMPLAIN, GREAT LAKES EAST TO COAST IN US!
MY WORK IS IN ALL CAPITALS - others work in non-caps. Sources are linked - blue text. POSTS
TO EXIT HUMANELY:
DUE TO - “THE LATENT HEAT EFFECT!” - UNLEASHING - “HOT STUFF!” I COMPARE MY FORECAST FOR EXTINCTION TO SAM’S AND GUYS!!” CAUSING GMAT TO RISE BY 18 C / 32.4 F BY 2026 ACCORDING TO SAM CARANA!
WHEN I SPEAK - AS MY FATHER - I SPEAK FOR MY FATHER! BECOME ONE! - NOW! HIS CHANNEL! LOVE U!
MY PRIMARY ROLE IS AS MY CLOSEST SPIRITUAL BROTHER, JOHN THE BAPTIST, TO PREPARE THE WAY! LOVE U! LOVE GOD WITH ALL OF YOUR HEARTS! NOW! MY MAIN GOAL!
PREPARE YOUR SOULS - NOW! BECOME "ONE" WITH "THE ONE!" NOW! THE END IS MUCH CLOSER THAN YOU THINK!
LOTS OF VIDEOS - TAKES TIME TO LOAD!
New Topic /Videos Each Post Plus Key Videos
ALL CREDIT FOR TRUTH IS TO - "THE ONE" - THE SUNSHINE BAND AND AUTHORS NOTED. MY CREDIT IS FOR ANY MISTAKES! SORRY!
THESIS SUMMARIES, Key Links SideBar Below
THE NORDIC MODEL & The Final Judgement: Take Care of "Those in Need!" Or Fry in Hell! Christ IS "The First Great SOCIALIST!" Last Warning! SUPPORT THE NORDIC MODEL or FRY Baby FRY! WHEN YOU DIE, BABY, DIE! SOON!
GLOBAL POLICIES TO
SAVE THE SPECIES:
ONE LOVE CLIMATE REFUGEES & PRISON COMMUNITIES
ENCASE NUCLEAR REACTORS - ENCASE POWER POLES - CAP SIBERIAN AND ARCTIC METHANE - TRANSITION TO PRIMARILY SOLAR AND WIND - USING THE SAVE THE SPECIES - NON-DEBT BASED CURRENCY! EFFECTIVELY A NORDIC MODEL / RESOURCE BASED GLOBAL RENEWABLE ENERGY ECONOMY! - NOW!
ALL POSTS (clickie)
"THE LOGIC OF THE GOD OF LOVE!" MEDICARE FOR ALL - CHRISTIAN! CAPITALISM - EVIL!
DO YOU CHOOSE - MONEY OR GOD!
"MY HIS STORY"
ANTARCTICA MELTING RAPIDLY! ANDRILL
2016 VIDEO - 60-75 FOOT SEA LEVEL RISE WITH 400 PPM CARBON, SAME AS TODAY, AND JUST SLIGHTLY HIGHER TEMPS THAN TODAY!
"LIVING GIVING NETWORKS:" THE THEISTIC HUMANISTIC MODEL FOR ACHIEVING -"ONENESS" - WITH - "GOD'S LAW" - TO TAKE CARE OF - "THOSE IN NEED!" TO ACHIEVE "THE SHE MATRIARCAL NORDIC MODEL!" (not a business solicitation)
"BECOMING ONE" CORONAVIRUS HELL ON EARTH! THEN - "HOT STUFF"- IS UNLEASHED!
EXIT - THE GULF & FLORIDA - NOW! “THE MONSTER SUPER STORMS” WILL DESTROY THEM . .
. . BY 2025! OMG!
"GET YOUR SUCK BAGS" NOW! "THE HAMMER AND THE DANCE!" THE MOST HORRIFIC CASE. . . . . "It Is THE END!"
WORLD'S ONLY MAJOR TERRORISTS GROUP!
THE EVIL RIGHT WING!
"AS IT IS IN HEAVEN - SO SHOULD IT BE ON EARTH!" SUPPORT THE ONLY CHRIST LIKE SOCIETY OR FRY IN THE HELL YOU SUPPORT!
RIGGED - The GREAT SIBERIAN METHANE COVER UP!
CAN "THEY" FIX IT? STOP HELL ON EARTH?
"HOT STUFF LIVES?"
The Clathrate Gun Fired
"BERNIE AOC!" OR A RUSSIAN ASSET OR A 9/11 PUPPET!?
FOR FULL SCREEN: Login to Youtube FIRST, then Open My Site, Then Click on Video you Want Full Screen. Now Go To Youtube, Switch Screens, Click on History, the First Is the Video You Clicked On - On My Site! If NOT close All, Repeat Process.
MUST READ and WATCH Viking Economics: How the Scandinavians Got It Right - And How We Can, Too; The Secrets of The Nordic Model, by the same author, and The Nordic Perspective!
US CORPORATE STATE SOCIALISM, Fascist Monopolistic, Homo and Transphobe, Racist, Kleptocratic / Thieves, Oil War Imperialist Focused, "ALL for THE RICH" - - "RAPE THE REST!" Especially Destroy the Lives of the Truly Good People Who Stand against THE EVIL GREED of THE FEW, The Sunshine Band. UNTIL The Horrific Demise of ALL God's Children, God's Species and Wonder Filled World for THE EVIL GREED OF THE FEW . . . .
. . . . is EVIL!
THE NORDIC MODEL: Libertarian Democratic Market Socialism: Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden, are Sustainable, Humane
and Egalitarian (Think - SHE - The Matriarcal Nordic Model). . .
. . . .it is GOOD!
Vote for THE MATRIARCAL NORDIC MODEL - NOW!
Bernie Sanders & Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez - 2020! VOTE!
MY HEROS OF "THE MATRIARCAL NORDIC MODEL!" BELOW
BERNIE SANDERS AND ALEXANDRIA CORTEZ 2020! IF NOT, JILL STEIN AND ABBY MARTIN - GREEN PARTY - 2020!
MY HEROS, ABOVE:
LESTER BROWN, "WORLD ON THE EDGE," "PLAN B 4.0," EARTH-POLICY.ORG
DR. GUY MCPHERSON, FATHER OF "ABRUPT CLIMATE CHANGE"
DR. JORGEN RANDERS, FATHER OF "THE LIMITS TO GROWTH!" AND, "2052: A Global Forecast for the next 40 Years!"
MICHAEL MOORE - DOCUMENTARIAN - FOR - "JC AND THE SUNSHINE BAND!" EXCEPTIONAL DOCUMENTARIES!
RICK STEVES - THE NORDIC MODEL - THE GOOD LIFE!
EVIL TRUMP! OF "THANK GOD!" - -
"It Is THE END!"
"THE SIBERIAN METHANE MONSTER!"
"House of Trump, House of Putin: The Untold Story of Donald Trump and the Russian Mafia"
“Damning in its accumulation of detail, terrifying in its depiction of the pure evil of those Trump chose to do business with.”--The Spectator (UK)
Watch "THE SIBERIAN METHANE MONSTER" - ABOVE - BURN UP and SUPER STORMS DESTROY Planet EVIL GREED! DAILY! OH BOY, WHAT COULD BE MORE EXCITING THAN THAT!? OK, Her Name is . . . . . . . "HOT STUFF!"
"The Limits to Growth: A Final Warning" tells you about the authors work since the early seventies, my work since 1980, and the stage of the "science of overpopulation analysis." Dr. Jorgen Randers, "2052: A Global Forecast for the Next Forty Years," and Lester Brown, "World on The Edge," have portended the fate of the world, due to overpopulation since the seventies! However limited I see their understanding of "abrupt climate change."