While driving home tonight, what little sympathy I had for the grocery workers' strike vanished when I heard on the radio that the Stanlinist group International ANSWER has joined forces with them in the "racist, criminal war against workers." Some news: the strikers stopped picketing the Ralph's grocery chain and decided to concentrate on Vons and Albertson's; unfortunately for them, the three grocery companies saw this coming, and put a secret pact into action to share revenue. People are pouring into Ralph's, and some of that money is going to the other two chains to support them while the strike continues.

I'd like to speak directly to the workers: you've lost. You've been on strike for a month, and you've been out-maneuvered every step of the way. From the reciprocal lock-outs at the beginning to the revenue-sharing plan now, you're getting beaten like a rented mule. I know that many of you are just trying to make ends meet; you're trying to save free healthcare for your kids; you're hard-working and honest. It doesn't matter.

See, you're not fighting against other folks who stock shelves all day, you're fighting against an army of lawyers, accountants, scientists, businessmen, and marketeers with one simple unified goal: maximize shareholder value. The nature and origin of your plight (such as it is) is irrelevant. No one cares if you want more money, free healthcare, or sharks with friggin' lasers on their heads.

These corporations have hundreds of officers who devote their lives to maximizing shareholder value. They've got banks of computers that spew out reams of paper, covered in numbers that tell them how to screw you over; those stacks of numbers are fed into even more computers, and those computers determine the prices of every piece of inventory, including you. They know what you're worth, and it doesn't matter how much you want to get paid. They've got scientists with beakers of bubbling liquid, smoke, test tubes, bunsen burners, and those cool electric doodads with the sparks that shoot up into the air between the two metal spikes. I don't know what these scientists are for; they're probably working to genetically engineer cheaper and more efficient bag-boys -- then what are you going to do?

Here's the thing: it's almost Christmas, and little Timmy and Susie are going to want more under the tree than a pile of picket signs. People are starting to care less and less about your marching and chanting. Plus, it's starting to rain. Take the hint -- go back to work. Be thankful you have jobs, because I know what it's like to not be able to find work. Been there, done that, got the t-shirt. I think $40,000 a year is pretty decent for putting boxes on shelves, and if you have to buy your own health insurance, well, join the club.

And if you want to hedge your bets, buy some stock in your companies. Then you'll be a shareholder yourself, and you'll have all those capitalists working for you instead of against you. That's the only way to win, otherwise you're just a pawn. Pawns don't win, even kings don't win -- they've just pieces that get moved around and stuck back in the case when the game's over. Only a player can win.



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