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Bernie Sanders, Defender of Bread Lines as Sign of Prosperity, Attacks Amazon's Corporate Lingo as 'Orwellian'

The senator has made a few past statements that one might also consider Orwellian.

Alex Edelman/CNP/AdMEdia/SIPA/NewscomAlex Edelman/CNP/AdMEdia/SIPA/NewscomYesterday Sen. Bernie Sanders (I–Vt.) renewed his attacks on Amazon by sharing a new video in which the company is accused of using "Orwellian language" in referring to its staff and facilities.

On Monday, Sanders tweeted out a video of British journalist James Bloodworth talking about his own experience working in an Amazon warehouse in the United Kingdom. Among the horrors Bloodworth discovered was that workers and managers were not referred to as such, but were instead given the title of "associate."

This according to Bloodworth was "Orwellian language to blur the distinction between you as a worker and what the management were doing." Also included in this authoritarian doublespeak was the company referring to the buildings where it fulfills customers' orders not as warehouses but as "fulfillment centers," describing fired employees as being "released," and referring to conversations between employees and bathroom breaks as "idling time."

Sanders by all accounts agrees with Bloodworth's assessment of Amazon's language as Orwellian, tweeting out the video of the author talking along with the caption "listen to how Amazon uses its own lingo to blur the distinction between billionaire CEO Jeff Bezos and the average Amazon employee making minimum wage."

It's a typical complaint from Sanders, who has launched a full-frontal attack on Amazon in recent weeks, accusing the company of poor working conditions and pay. It's also a bizarre complaint given some of the senators past statements, which one could very well consider Orwellian in their own right.

Take Sanders' defenses of the authoritarian Sandinista regime in Nicaragua, which he visited and enthusiastically supported while mayor of Burlington, Vermont in the 1980s. When asked about his support for the Sandinistas in light of the food shortages in the country that resulted in people standing in bread lines, Sanders retorted:

It's funny, sometimes American journalists talk about how bad a country is, that people are lining up for food. That is a good thing! In other countries people don't line up for food: the rich get the food and the poor starve to death.

Then there is Sanders' support for the Castro regime in Cuba, which, according to his telling, had "deficiencies" but also instilled in the population a genuine love of the government.

"The people we met had an almost religious affection for [Fidel Castro]. The revolution there is far deep and more profound than I understood it to be. It really is a revolution in terms of values," Sanders told the Burlington Free Press after returning from a trip to the country.

Obscuring the crimes of authoritarian regimes by praising signs of poverty as examples of enrichment, or employing meaningless adjectives to justify the oppression committed by those same regimes is basically the definition of Orwellian language, and a damn sight worse than Amazon referring to its worker bees as "associates."

To be sure, these are old examples of Sanders' rhetoric, but it's not like Sanders has given up on deploying Orwellian language in the present. In fact, the video the Vermont senator tweeted out of Bloodworth describing Amazon as authoritarian also included screen shots of an anonymous worker who claimed that working at the retail giant was "worse than being in jail some days."

A fuller quote from that worker can be found in a press release lauding Sanders' introduction of a bill that would tax Amazon and other large employers for hiring workers who're receiving certain welfare benefits. It reads in part: "I have emotional trauma from working there as well as physical. It felt worse than being in jail some days. Because you had chosen to be there."

Freedom is slavery anyone?

Photo Credit: Alex Edelman/CNP/AdMEdia/SIPA/Newscom

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  • Agammamon||

    "I have emotional trauma from working there as well as physical. It felt worse than being in jail some days. Because you had chosen to be there."

    That's . . . look, I don't like Sanders, but his quoting part of this didn't change its core meaning. That wasn't Orwellian. If that was the point you were trying to make here. Quoting part of someone's words is not what 'Orwellian' means.

  • sharmota4zeb||

    The original quote was Orwellian. The person making that statement choose to be at work instead of sitting at home. Working at Amazon for pay is better than sitting at home according to his actions. The real source of his dissatisfaction is an inability to get paid to sit at home. He should try working in IT from a home office instead of complaining about Amazon.

  • Agammamon||

    The original quote is not Orwellian either. In any case - that wasn't the point Britschgi seemed to be trying to make.

  • Chipper Morning Baculum||

    You know what's literally Orwellian? Being an outspoken supporter of democratic socialism.

  • Jay Dubya||

    I found this to be more ironic than anything else in this article. 1984 is an explicit denunciation of an advanced western nation adopting socialism. Orwell - a diehard liberal - came to despise many socialist groups after his experience with Stalinists in the Spanish Civil War (pro-Soviet socialists very much sold out an actual leftist anarchist revolt to the Fascist Franco in order to preserve a Russo-French treaty - the French favored fascism to anarchism in their backyard at the time). Homage to Catalonia remains an excellent read & contains a detailed account of Orwells personal experience with the socialist stab in the back that came very close to landing Orwell in a Spanish prison or dead.
    So then you have Bernie Sanders using a man who repeatedly denunciated socialism to support his ass backwards socialist agenda. Its unclear what Orwell would think of Bezos or Amazon. And in fact Orwell would very likely support the introduction of nationalized medical services in the US. But without a doubt Orwell would hold a useful idiot like Sanders in absolute contempt.

  • Jay Dubya||

    The doe-eyed support for the Sandistas Sanders is quoted as offering in this article reads precisely like the 30s-era Stalin apologea that Orwell spent millions of words uncovering. In The Road to Wigan Pier, Orwell bluntly savages the instinct of the well-off liberal to utter meally-mouthed platitudes about the poor while holding them in utter contempt. Sanders very much fits the profile of the faux revolutionary indicted by Orwell in Wigan Pier.
    Like any man who in the year of our lord 2018 calls for state control of the economy with a straight face, Bernie Sanders lacks even the faintest twinge of irony, literacy or historical perspective. Unfortunately, these are traits he shares with a great deal of American voters (Trump partisans in particular are as literal minded as a sack of bricks). Trump and Sanders are the newest heads on the gorgon of the electorate & their influence will assuredly be felt as constantly as an ingrown ass hair.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    "Average Amazon employee making minimum wage".

    Kay. It's my opinion that Amazon workers are some of the most overpaid in the industry. I personally know several snot-nosed brats who can't even tell you what life was like before Twitter was invented are making well over 6 figures for entry-level coding jobs.

  • Zeb||

    I think he means warehouse employees. But I can't believe they are getting minimum wage in this job market.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    Yeah, I know where he's going. Whatever amazon employees are making minimum wage, they ain't "average" though. Amazon has warehouses all over the country so I suspect there are some markets where they might actually make minimum wage.

  • The Last American Hero||

    But how are you going to have time to wait in the bread line if you are working at the warehouse?

  • ||

    Bread line start very early in the morning, comrade.

  • Rossami||

    While we're at it, let's string up Sanders for being mathematically illiterate. "Average" is a measure of all members of a population. Unless all the members are identical, it is mathematically impossible for the average to be the same as the minimum.

    Sanders would have been closer if he'd said the "Median Amazon employee" but I doubt the actual data supports that either.

  • Agammamon||

    Well, a better way of putting that is that it would be *legally* impossible for the average wage to be the Minimum Wage.

  • Wizard4169||

    Unless every single employee associate in the company made minimum wage. But since they operate in multiple jurisdictions, that might still mean different wages for different workers.

  • sharmota4zeb||

    Amazon gigs are some of the most coveted gigs among the workers I know because of the relatively high hourly pay. Yeah, they expect you to hustle more there than at your average warehouse or construction site, and the way they handle the signing of legal paperwork makes me not want to work there, but guys who don't pay attention to legal paperwork like that gig the most.

    If you want a very sweet gig, go to an Amazon warehouse around lunch time with a food truck full of low price, high quality lunches, and sell them to the workers there. Make sure they sign your paperwork quickly before you hand them their lunches. ;)

  • Zeb||

    In other countries people don't line up for food: the rich get the food and the poor starve to death.

    I guess that's why there aren't any poor people left in central America except in Nicaragua.

    How does someone get along as well as Sanders has saying shit that is just so blatantly stupid and false?

  • ||

    It's mind boggling he gets elected.

    He's mental.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    It's Vermont.

  • sharmota4zeb||

    I all fairness, Vermont does not have homeless people. Vermont has a coyote-wolf-dog hybrid. What do climate change activists say about correlations? Does that work for negative correlations too?

  • Crusty Juggler||

    He is a rarity in American politics!

  • Trollificus||

    "How does someone get along as well as Sanders has saying shit that is just so blatantly stupid and false?"

    Well, see that little "D" next to where it says "Senator, Vermont"??

  • Zeb||

    No. I don't see no "D" there. Despite running for president as a Democrat, he still is officially an I.

  • Longtobefree||

    He's a democrat.
    If you caucus with the democrats, run with the democrats, vote with the democrats, and fund raise with the democrats, you are a democrat.

  • Zeb||

    But there isn't a "D" next to his name. So I'm technically correct, which is the best kind of correct.

  • MiloMinderbinder||

    Seinfeld: The Bookstore, April 9,1998:

    JERRY: (Rubbing it in) Ah, the drunken make-out. An office classic. Did you end up xeroxing anything?

    ELAINE: (Gives Jerry a look) Do you know how embarrassing this is to someone in my position?

    JERRY: (Confused) What's your position?

    ELAINE: I am an associate.

    GEORGE: Hey, me too.

    (A waitress, passing their table, speaks up)

    WAITRESS: Yeah, me too.

  • Just Say'n||

    Elaine has gotten so much hotter since that show ended. It's like she discovered the fountain of youth and it involves pencil skirts, combing her hair, and an excellent plastic surgeon. God bless capitalism

  • Zeb||

    She does look amazing for someone in her mid 50s.

  • ||

    I remember a cover of a porn mag with Candi Evans saying, 'Man goo makes my hair look fabulous!'

  • sharmota4zeb||

    Dude, the last time a neighbor of mine sobered up and combed his hair, I didn't even recognize him. Now, if I could only find a way to get that old man to wear a pencil skirt ...

  • ||

    Grandpa Gulag hates Prime.

    What the heck does that left-wing boob know about the value of work anyway? He never had a real job. He was kicked off a fricken hippie commune FFS just to give you an idea how lazy he is.

  • Agammamon||

    Let's be fair to hippie communes - you have to work really hard in them. Farm livin' ain't the life for meee!

  • Curt2004||

    Hippie...work really hard... nah.

  • sharmota4zeb||

    When I was a boy, my mom paid for me to go to a farm during the summer. Four hours per day of farm chores is fun and educational. Twelve hours of farm chores per day violates child labor laws.

  • BYODB||

    ^ This. Communists that actually live on a commune work just fine as long as they can kick out those who don't actually work. That's sort of the thing about Communism, it still works on it's own form of a social contract.

  • Zeb||

    And those commune communists probably figure out pretty quickly why communism doesn't work in broader society.

  • Mark22||

    Communists that actually live on a commune work just fine as long as they can kick out those who don't actually work.

    In Soviet Russia, vee kick out vith firing squad.

  • Cynical Asshole||

    A fuller quote from that worker can be found in a press release lauding Sanders' introduction of a bill that would tax Amazon and other large employers for hiring workers who're receiving certain welfare benefits. It reads in part: "I have emotional trauma from working there as well as physical. It felt worse than being in jail some days. Because you had chosen to be there."

    I'm assuming that the intent of the bill is to force Amazon and other employers to pay their workers more so that they no longer qualify for welfare, but does it occur to these fuckwits that the more likely outcome is to automate more jobs so that they don't have to employ as much low skilled labor and therefore the only workers left will be the ones who are making enough to not be on welfare? I guess it's better to be unemployed with no hope for the future than a "wage slave," right?

    As for the poor downtrodden worker who hates working for Amazon, grow the fuck up. That's life, we all have to trudge off to work at jobs we hate everyday. Life sucks, get used to it snowflake.

  • Agammamon||

    That's a feature, not a bug.

    They like to talk about welfare as if its a last-ditch survival line. Its not. It pays pretty darn well (if you have low-expectations). So, Amazon automates all its low-end jobs away, government increases the threshhold for being able to claim welfare benefits, more people take advantage - if only to get their own damn money back from the government, Amazon is hammered for more people being on welfare, rinse, repeat.

  • Sevo||

    "...but does it occur to these fuckwits that the more likely outcome is to automate more jobs so that they don't have to employ as much low skilled labor and therefore the only workers left will be the ones who are making enough to not be on welfare?"

    From experience with the brain-damaged left in SF, no. No it does not occur to them that their desired course of action has alternatives which they won't like.
    It always comes as a surprise.

  • Brandybuck||

    I remember when I was explaining to a leftie in SF that I was actually working on the robot to replace them. They didn't believe it. Then it rolled out. They still didn't believe it.

    Not that minimum wages caused the robot, but it sure as hell made it a more attractive investment.

  • BYODB||


    Not that minimum wages caused the robot, but it sure as hell made it a more attractive investment.


    Except that it directly does, since it bends the cost curve in favor of automation to the extent that you'd need to be insane to employ humans.


    That said, it's not just the minimum wage it's also all the other labor protection rackets that coincidentally make illegal immigrant labor way more attractive than even the robot, albeit far more illegal. Plus, last time I checked, robots can follow god damn directions whereas 'bargain basement' labor usually has trouble figuring out a pencil.

  • mpercy||

    As always, the real minimum wage is $0.00.

  • BYODB||

    At least until 'libertarians' pass a UBI, that is.

  • Zeb||

    All those "libertarians" in congress.

  • Johnimo||

    Hundreds of GD libertarians in congress! Yeah ... that's the problem with the US congress!

  • Wizard4169||

    I love the claims that welfare payments are somehow "subsidizing" low-wage employers. This is just classic insane troll logic. Would workers' value to the company somehow magically increase if they weren't on welfare? If anything, it makes a lot more sense to say Amazon, Wal-Mart, et al are subsidizing welfare by employing low-value workers, who would otherwise need higher welfare payments to survive.

  • Crusty Juggler||

    Freedom is slavery anyone?

    Freedom is just another word for nothing left to lose.

  • Just Say'n||

    Would Bobby McGee

  • Dillinger||

    feelin' good is good enough for me

  • sharmota4zeb||

    That's why all those suicides in America confuse me. If you want to die anyway ... do something interesting with your life. Heck, you might end up improving your situation enough to make you want to live. There's some wisdom to that live free or die thing.

    In related news, I plan to start writing a play this week and submit it to the annual Fringe Festival in NYC. It's an off-Broadway thing. ;)

  • I am the 0.000000013%||

    The New York fringe is primed and waiting for the play "Wilson"

  • Zeb||

    Suicide is rarely a rational decision.

  • perlchpr||

    If you want to die anyway ... do something interesting with your life.

    This is just not how suicidal depression works.

    When you're in that black of a space, there is no "interesting" any more. Your favorite food tastes like ashes. Your favorite drink tastes like gall. There is no pleasure to be had.

  • Johnimo||

    Yes

  • Mark22||

    That's why all those suicides in America confuse me. If you want to die anyway ... do something interesting with your life

    Most suicides involve depression or some other altered mental state.

  • Number 2||

    This has all the earmarks of a labor union trying to organize the warehouse workers at Amazon and Amazon fighting them off. One of the standard tactics of union organizing campaign is to convince the public that workers are whipped within an inch of their lives every day at work while being paid sub-minimum-wage in play money from the boss' Monopoly game.

  • Just Say'n||

    He's an old man. He gets confused sometimes.

    Demanding that Bernie start making sense is elder abuse.

  • Dillinger||

    bern. feeling the bern of envy.

  • esteve7||

    This is rich coming from them. This is basically business's version of political correctness.

  • Rockabilly||

    Man, Comrade Sanders is always angry.

    My advise is to smoke some reefer, maybe have a hit of MDA, and chill out somewhere like Ibiza.

  • Inigo Montoya||

    If Bernie feels the use of the word "associate" by a company like Amazon is somehow Orwellian, I would like to propose a simple solution that's sure to please Bernie and his supporters.

    Simply refer to everyone as "comrade."

  • Homple||

    Bezos is smart enough to know a de facto Universal Basic Income when he sees one and use it to his advantage.

  • Ska||

    That's what they get using white collar descriptions for entry level warehouse serfs.

  • Paloma||

    Bernie thinks Orwellian is a compliment.

  • Alcibiades||

    How many houses do you need comrade - man of the people - Bernie?

  • Tony||

    My understanding is that he has a main house and a summer house and... maybe a place in DC where he works? Nothing extravagant.

  • TrickyVic (old school)||

    How many houses does the average American own?

  • Tony||

    Three?

  • TrickyVic (old school)||

    Ha!

    I think that falls in line with ask a stupid person a question, expect a stupid answer.

  • Johnimo||

    Does poor Tony really think it's "Three"? If so, that's an incredible miscalculation on Tony's behalf.

  • prolefeed||

    He paid about $600K for that lakefront summer house.

    This is what you consider non-extravagant for someone who self-identifies as a socialist?

  • Tony||

    My family's lake house is a compound of one big house, two cabins, and a pool house. I enjoy every minute of being there, and I identify as socialist-adjacent.

    It's okay to be rich as long as you made it honestly. I don't know why I need to explain this to libertarians.

  • I am the 0.000000013%||

    You are right, but strangely for the first time ever I feel a slight interest in a draconian inheritance tax.

  • TrickyVic (old school)||

    ""It's okay to be rich as long as you made it honestly.""

    The word honestly is the rub. Who defines it?

    What is dishonest about how Bezos, Musk, Jobs made their money?

  • NashTiger||

    You didn't do shit. No wonder you are generally worthless

  • sharmota4zeb||

    I would like to see Sanders hold a protest against Amazon in Grand Central Station ... in the Apple Store located on floor space that used to be public ... because the MTA can spare the space to rent to Apple ... because the MTA is getting a free expansion of Grand Central Station as a concession from the guy who needed permission to build that new skyscraper on Vanderbilt. The sky is not free in the progressive utopia of New York City.

  • Ska||

    Hell no it's not. Air rights sell for 400-450 a sq ft, that is if the property owner has the legal right to sell them.

  • TrickyVic (old school)||

    ""Also included in this authoritarian doublespeak was the company referring to the buildings where it fulfills customers' orders not as warehouses but as "fulfillment centers," describing fired employees as being "released," and referring to conversations between employees and bathroom breaks as "idling time.""'

    I find calling that doublespeak pretty funny. I remember a sales job I had and we were supposed to refer to each other as "associates". I never thought that as doublespeak, just rebranding of a sales job.

    Doublespeak is more what the government does when it names legislation such as the Affordable Healthcare Act or Privacy act, that are the opposite of their name.

  • Curt2004||

    The Patriot act for the win!

  • Longtobefree||

    Game, set, match

  • TrickyVic (old school)||

    If liberals really have a problem with Amazon. They should not give Amazon money.

    The same liberals I see complaining about capitalism and/or the 1%, are the same ones talking about how much they love Amazon Prime.

  • sharmota4zeb||

    +1 TrickyVic.

  • Leo Kovalensky II||

    The whole point of 1984 apparently went right over the head of Comrade Sanders. It's one thing if Amazon acts tyrannical, people can just disassociate with them. In other words they'll go out of business if the employees don't want to work there.

    It's entirely a different thing when the tyrants are wielding the full authority of a government with guns and all.

  • Trollificus||

    I thought Bernie's "bread lines" comment was based on Venezuela.

    It's inexcusable hyperbole, because the poor never actually starve to death in South America, so it's not the food that "the rich" get all of, rather, the MONEY.

    He should have to explain how Maduro, Chavez and their relatives and associates all have become millionaires while the Venezuelan economy caught fire, fell over and sank into a swamp. What part of the socialist process is THAT?

  • Longtobefree||

    "What part of the socialist process is THAT"
    The part they don't really want to talk about.

    A Russian peasant was being interviewed by the commissar of his collective after the initial socialist session.
    The commissar asked him, "if you had two houses, would you give one to the state for your comrades?", the peasant replied "But of course comrade commissar."
    The commissar asked him, "if you had two cows, would you give one to the state for your comrades?", the peasant replied "But of course comrade commissar."
    The commissar asked him, "if you had two plows, would you give one to the state for your comrades?", the peasant replied "But of course comrade commissar."
    The commissar asked him, "if you had two coats, would you give one to the state for your comrades?", the peasant remained silent, and look embarrassed.
    The commissar prompted him; "look, you have answered correctly about houses, cows, and plows, why are you hesitating?" The peasant replied, "But commissar, I actually DO have two coats."

  • HeteroPatriarch||

    The poor are currently starving to death in Venezuela.

  • Johnimo||

    It must be glorious, comrade! Starving so that socialism can be so successful in another S. American country ... it's so romantic. Just think how proud Che would be!

  • Longtobefree||

    Actually, those phrases are the ones currently in vogue in the brain dead world of Human Resources. (Note I did not say employment office, I said Human Resources.)

  • HeteroPatriarch||

    Have you *seen* how many different kinds of deodorant Amazon sells? It's sickening!

  • HANSENWT||

    Will the DNC nominate him in 2020?

  • Johnimo||

    Bernie? Is that who you mean by "him"? I think they feel compelled to go with a woman. Now that they've failed with a woman (Hillary) they will need to show how dedicated they are to the proposition of the "first woman President." It's pure fantasy I know, but I'd love to have another campaign with Hillary against The Donald. OMG! Too much fun! The left can't bring themselves to admit how irritating, to most of us, that woman's voice is.

  • Mark22||

    Bernie? Is that who you mean by "him"? I think they feel compelled to go with a woman.

    Can't Bernie just identify as a woman? Or perhaps they can just chop it off.

  • Tony||

    Well nobody can compete with the mellifluous tenor of Donald Trump's voice.

  • macsnafu||

    It's depressing how many take Bernie Sanders seriously.

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