School Bus Safety Shouldn’t Go to the Lowest Bidder

Cross-posted from DailyKos

It was announced today that UK transportation giant FirstGroup PLC will be purchasing Laidlaw International - the owner of Greyhound - for nearly £2 billion. For most, this may sound like another stale business story. But FirstGroup and Laidlaw are also two of the largest private sector school bus operators in the U.S.

Roughly half of the nation's school districts outsource the responsibility of driving your children to and from school. The Teamsters are not against outsourcing services to achieve savings through economies of scale. We represent both public and private sector drivers. What we object to are companies that cut corners, fail to pay descent wages and put children at risk.

First Student, the U.S. subsidiary of FirstGroup, is just such a company. And that is what should concern every parent who sends their child off to school on First Student bus.

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Campaign Season Kickoff in Michigan GOV - All the Ammo Against Dick Scamway DeVos You'll Ever Need

(Cross-posted to DailyKos.)

Labor Day has come and gone, and as you probably well know, that means the fall campaign season is "officially" under way, so far as the Beltway media is concerned. So to kick things off for the fall, I thought I'd give a rundown on where the Jennifer Granholm reelection campaign stands vs. Dick DeVos, one of the creepiest and most dishonest candidates in the country. This election has been called the closest race in the country, and it's one I've been following closely, though from afar, through the summer.

And there's a lot to tell. It's a story of fraudulent get-rich-quick-scheme cults, shady paramilitary mercenaries, lie-riddled TV ad transcripts, pay-for-play, and a disembodied head. Follow me below the jump:

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Granholm's Lead Stabilizing in Michigan?

I had been pretty sure for awhile that Jennifer Granholm would pull ahead in the race against Dick DeVos in Michigan, even if I did have my fingers crossed. Well, I see two polls this week that make this point pretty clear. Separately they have been discussed here and here. The other good news is that Granholm is starting to make an issue of Scamway, and that isn't the only questionable company in the family.

Results from Republican outfit Strategic Vision:

1. Do approve or disapprove of Governor Jennifer Granholm's overall job performance?
Approve 47%
Disapprove 45%
Undecided 8%

4. Do you approve or disapprove of President Bush's overall job performance?
Approve 34%
Disapprove 58%
Undecided 8%

16. If the election for Governor were held today, whom would you vote for Jennifer Granholm, the Democrat or Dick DeVos, the Republican?
Jennifer Granholm 48%
Dick DeVos 43%
Undecided 9%

Debbie Stabenow looks strong, too. And this one from the Wall Street Journal:

Jennifer Granholm 50.8%
Dick DeVos 43.6%

And as I've argued before, Granholm doesn't need to get into a tit for tat about whether the state is better or worse than X. The more she goes out as her self, and from time to time reminds voters of just what DeVos's true background is, she will continue to improve. If you haven't seen "See Dick Run" from the Michigan state Dems, I recommend it. Maybe nothing you don't know, but information Michigan voters need.

But Scamway isn't the only company in the DeVos family portfolio deserving closer scrutiny. Consider Blackwater, which is run by DeVos's brother in law, brother of crazy ex-Republican chair Betsy DeVos. It's a Halliburton you don't hear about, making a war profiteer's killing, as it were, sending mercenaries to Iraq and even to New Orleans, where they have claimed the U.S. government has given them authority to use lethal force. Got that? But there's a lot more to say about that, maybe I will soon.

Meanwhile, Granholm has been under siege by a man who might just be the wealthiest ever to seek office in American history. The Granholm campaign should be commended for standing firm against unfair attacks and the governor should be praised for leading in difficult times. We could all learn a thing about that kind of perseverance. And I think the polls above show the people of Michigan are recognizing how great a governor they have, even if the political pundits are late to the game.

DeVos is a disaster in waiting for Michigan - and for America. Granholm is not in the clear yet (standard disclaimer) but she's looking strong now, and she'll keep getting stronger going into the fall.

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Is Our Children Employable?

For that matter what are the job prospects for any of us? A soft economic recovery and an increasingly level (or "flat," to borrow Thomas Friedman's strange phrasing) global marketplace are rapidly reducing the options of American workers across a range of careers and vocations.  Harold Meyerson of the Washington Post asks "Will Your Job Survive?" Meyerson's alarm bells were tripped by a disturbing report from Princeton University economist Alan Blinder. I hate to go all "Lou Dobbs." But Blinder's prognostication about the job market of the not too distant future should send a chill down the spine of any American concerned about the future of the US economy.

In the new global order, Blinder writes, not just manufacturing jobs but a large number of service jobs will be performed in cheaper climes. Indeed, only hands-on or face-to-face services look safe. "Janitors and crane operators are probably immune to foreign competition," Blinder writes, "accountants and computer programmers are not."

There follow some back-of-the-envelope calculations as Blinder totes up the number of jobs in tradable and non-tradable sectors. Then comes his (necessarily imprecise) bottom line: "The total number of current U.S. service-sector jobs that will be susceptible to offshoring in the electronic future is two to three times the total number of current manufacturing jobs (which is about 14 million)." As Blinder believes that all those manufacturing jobs are offshorable, too, the grand total of American jobs that could be bound for Bangalore or Bangladesh is somewhere between 42 million and 56 million  . [emphasis mine] That doesn't mean all those jobs are going to be exported. It does mean that the Americans performing them will be in competition with people who will do the same work for a whole lot less.

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Outsource US All, Begin With Bush ©

I received this press bulletin weeks ago and I was overjoyed.  The opening statement was "For Immediate Release."  I meant to share it in the moment; however, my delight overwhelmed me.  I misplaced the pleasurable piece.  Nevertheless, the thought of it stayed with me.  I found my way to this announcement again.  Now, I am offering it with you in hopes that it might be genuine. 

You too may have acquired the same and dismissed it.  Possibly, you thought it to be only humor; however, I wonder.  Is it not accurate that all actions begin with a thought?  Might we not all think this to be true?  If we believe together, and if we all regard this as fact strongly enough, might it not come to pass?  Let us commune with the powers that be and hope that GW's connection to God is no more influential than our own.

The document addressed the Outsourcing of our President, Bush Would Become A Statistic. 

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