Views in brief

The devastation after Sandy

IN RESPONSE to "The Red Cross: Missing in action": I and everyone else who lost their home to the hurricane could probably have each one rebuilt with the Red Cross donation money.

I am 56 years old, and my profession is physical therapy. I know that I cannot afford to replace a home structure, floors, walls, siding, roof, windows, furnishings, etc. I will apply for loans, but who is going to give me a loan that I could afford for the amount of time I will be able to stay working in my profession? Who is going to employ a therapist who is in their late 60s, 70s or, for that matter, 80s?

Neither I nor anyone in my family has ever taken one penny of assistance from the taxes that everyone has paid their entire life. I need charity now. I am willing to work until the day I die to pay back this money, but in reality, I will be indebted--something that has nevertheless happened in my life before. I have never not paid my bills, I do not spend more than I can afford and have excellent credit. This situation will break me.

The Red Cross can rewrite their mission statement and start giving the money, not peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and hot drinks, to people who need it. We might be all middle class, but we are now the new poor.
Eileen Quinn, from the Internet

A failure of the Red Cross

IN RESPONSE to "The Red Cross: Missing in action": Thank you for the article on the Red Cross.

I live in Rockaway, and we didn't see the Red Cross for days. Then, when they showed, they gave out peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwiches. On day 13, a school bus with small supplies showed up at 95th Street, parked on Shore Front Parkway, away from the other donation site located in the parking lot at 95th Street. I was trying to get needed supplies to the First Congregation Church, which was three blocks away.

I spoke to the person in charge and asked, rather than put these supplies on the street, can you bring them to the church? They said no. Then I asked where are the trucks with supplies, and can they send them to the church? She said that all the trucks were being loaded up at Jersey City, and she would try to get a truck there. Then a truck showed up and I asked, "Can you send it to the church?" She just ignored me.

In the meantime, Occupy Sandy Relief showed up with supplies for the church. Then another truck was sent after several posts were put on Facebook. If it wasn't for the efforts of ordinary New Yorkers, Rockaway, Broad Channel and Breezy Point would not have received any supplies. The Red Cross is a sham operation and should be investigated.
Grace Miller, Rockaway, N.Y.

New Orleans stands against Israel's slaughter

IN RESPONSE to "Protesting Israel's bombs": In New Orleans, 80 activists staged a demonstration in support of Palestinians that began at the World Trade Center and marched to Jackson Square, where tourists and locals alike bore witness to the outrage we expressed in impassioned chants and picketing.

Hosted by New Orleans Palestine Solidarity and PATOIS, as well as other arts and civil liberties organizations, including the student group Tulane Students for Justice in Palestine, the protest turned out many Palestinian residents of the city and their families, including small children carrying signs and pickets. Chants included "Ethnic cleansing is a crime, why not say it on prime time?" and "From the river to the sea, Palestine will be freed".

The solid demonstration of the Palestinian community in New Orleans united with activists and students is part of an encouraging wave of resistance to the U.S. funding of the apartheid state of Israel.
Hilary, New Orleans

Being cheated on the job

IN RESPONSE to "Wal-Mart protests mark important step": The bottom line is that colleges and universities are pumping out millions of graduates, and there are NO jobs with equally matched pay for all of them. Hence, you may need a degree to manage a Wal-Mart, but it still pays far less (between $14-18 an hour) than what your degree cost.

Companies are dumbing down management titles such as "supervisor" or "foreperson" to "team leader" or "unit leader." It signifies fewer responsibilities and lower wages when an individual uses it for re-employment purposes with another company in the future. It's like a new used vs. a used car--the dealer's salesperson will tell you your car is not new used (same as used) rather it is used and commands a lesser value. This is the new corporate mindset for undervaluing experienced workers.

Employers are also nullifying cost-of-living wage increases. How? You may receive a cost-of-living increase for three years in a row, only then, your employer stops your cost of living wage increase for four years, and they may even reduce your hours or benefits--including both medical (higher deductibles and co-pays) and 401k plan (the employer stops matching your investment).

Such schemes control every facet of employees' financial stability. The new scheme is for employers to pay their employees two weeks in advance, so when the employer terminates or lays off the employee, they receive nothing (or the two weeks' advance pay is taken from their earned vacation time).

Employers also have been paying off state legislators to rescind state labor laws that once benefited the American working-class citizen. Today, there are fewer such labor laws that protect the average worker from employer abuse.

There are companies that are in abusing their employees by instructing employees to be at their desks 10 minutes prior to the start of their shift and boot up their computers so that they will be ready to start at precisely the beginning of their shift start time. The employer does not pay them for the 10 minutes of work time. Another example: Employees in a call center are required to answer all calls right up to the end of their shift--and should a call require working past their end of shift, say 10 minutes extra, the employer DOES NOT pay them for staying there to complete assisting the customer.

Do state labor departments randomly investigate companies to enforce fair wage payment? No.
Joe Oberman, from the Internet