Your Daily AFL-CIO Headdesk

The only time I really have issues with Walmart is when they use the machinery of government to their advantage. They supported the ACA, for example, because it would benefit them. They’ve support eminent domain seizures in the past. Other than that, however, I really don’t understand the Walmart hatred. They provide cheaper products to the poor and middle class thanks to the economy of scale. They are known to hire people with little job experience of checkered pasts and give them a chance to move up. And, earlier this year, they announced a plan to hire 100,000 veterans and returning soldiers. Veterans have an unemployment rate that is a couple of ticks higher than the general population and could use a little bit of a boost.

This is a good thing, right? Giving entry-level jobs to people who’ve served our country? Well, it isn’t if you’re one of the biggest assholes on the planet:

Walmart’s recent announcement of a plan to hire returning honorably discharged veterans is more about public relations than honoring our heroes. That this effort was valorized by President Obama and Vice President Biden reflects an acceptance of economic failure out of line with America’s history or future.

We owe it to our returning veterans to make sure they are treated as the heroes they are, rather than as symbols used to “greenwash” Walmart’s eroding brand. After facing enemies abroad, is an $8.81 an hour part-time job the best we can offer returning veterans?

Already, working families and our economy are struggling against an epidemic of low-paying, low-benefit, part-time work. Instead of legitimizing that trend, we need to treat the talents of our veterans—and of all of America’s people—as a critical national resource.

We need businesses in this country to step up and make family-sustaining jobs available to returning veterans. Previous generations of heroes returned from overseas service to critical jobs in manufacturing, construction and public service, jobs that enabled veterans to help build the nation and support families. With the right policies, including those in President Obama and Vice President Biden’s American Jobs Act, we can live up to the standards of our past and empower our veterans for the future.

That’s Richard Trumka, head of the AFL-CIO, in case you didn’t recognize his style about three sentences in.

Yeah, it would be great if we had waiting jobs in factories for returning soldiers (although it bears noting that after World War II, a lot of those jobs were created by women leaving the workforce to become housewives again). But we don’t have that. We have an economy that is slowly creeping along thanks in part to the policies supported by Trumka’s allies and the debt-busting spending they have engaged in to try to “create jobs”. To the extent that manufacturing jobs have recovered it is because of innovation and improving living standards in foreign countries.

I would love for every veteran to come back to a $25 an hour job building solar panels. I would also love it if, every month, I were given two comely lasses of virtue true. But that’s not the world we live in. We live in a world were over 10% of honorably discharged veterans are unemployed. We live in a world where long-term unemployment is crippling: many employers simply throw out the resumes of those who’ve been unemployed for a couple of years. $8.81 an hour may not sound like a lot to Richard Trumka (current salary about $283,000 a year). But for someone looking to get a leg up into the job market and build up some experience, it could be a godsend.

The Cold War Vets

Today is Veterans Day, when we honor those who have served. The WSJ has an interesting article up today on a group of veterans that are often neglected: those of the Cold War.

This weekend, Americans will honor soldiers who fought the country’s wars, from the Somme to Kandahar. In Manassas, Va., 30 miles from the nation’s capital, a parade on Saturday will honor veterans of another big war: the one that never happened.

The Cold War, from 1945 to the Soviet Union’s breakup in 1991, was all about avoiding total nuclear war. It turned hot in Korea and Vietnam and sparked conflicts from Lebanon to Grenada. But soldiers on duty between flare-ups didn’t do battle. When the war that wasn’t came to an end, they got no monuments, no victory medals.

Nor can they join the American Legion—which makes the parade of Cold War vets in Manassas a minor hot spot of its own.

The Cold War erupted into two major conflict in Vietnam and Korea. But for many, it was an undeclared quiet war, without parades or victories or medals; only casualties. But the millions and men and women who, sometimes figuratively sometimes literally, stood on the wall against the encroachment of one the greatest evils in human history should not be forgotten. The only reason the Cold War did not erupt into a shooting war in central Europe was because they stood on that wall, rifle in hand, tank manned, missiles ready to fly — letting the Soviet Union know that not a step would be taken into the free nations of the world without a price.

I know we have veterans who read this blog, including some who served in shooting wars. Today is the day we set aside to remember and thank them not just for the freedom we enjoy, but for the peace we enjoyed. The ones who fought in Vietnam and Korea shed real blood and all too many made the supreme sacrifice. But those who stood on that wall for almost half a century did their part too, making sure that war stayed as cold as it did. Had they not, it’s likely all of us would be somewhere quite warm right now.