One More Outsourced Job

November 15, 2010 at 3:31 am (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

This week during his visit to India, our inspiring leader spoke of the necessity for Americans to embrace global economics (big surprise, huh?). Mr. Obama, as one of those who can be comfortable that his job will never be shipped abroad, is convinced that globalism is just terrific.

But the smug attitude of our Republicrat politicians makes me pause & think: Since our domestic “leadership” is pf such poor quality, perhaps America should outsource it to some place cheaper like we have so much else. And after all, the Chinese, Mexican, or Sri Lankan politicians who would take-over the job of running America could not possibly have less consideration for the needs of ordinary citizens than have the U.S. politicians for these past 30 years.

The irony of the global economy is that it has turned into a real-life version of one of those corny movies like “The Prince and the Pauper,” where two people, one rich & one poor, trade identities & the next think you know the poor one is getting rolled in some seedy tavern. In this version, countries like India get the high-tech jobs and get to have a middle class while America winds up unemployed & mugged in some Detroit back alley.

So much for Barry renegotiating the free trade agreements or passing legislation to stop rewarding companies that ship their jobs overseas. Remember how he promised to do those things during the 2008 campaign? Yeah, well he was hoping you wouldn’t.

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Impeachment? Bring it On! (And Pass the Popcorn)

September 3, 2010 at 2:44 am (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

This afternoon I took a break from my internet job search & joined Myrtle’s 22 year-old son in doing some yard work. While we worked, I mentioned to him that I had gotten on the website of a major retailer that has a large nearby catalog-center (they have a huge sign out front advertising there are jobs available & to visit their web address). But I could find nothing under the “careers” tab referencing jobs here in our area; indeed, I could find nothing that admitted there was any facility anywhere near here, everything was in far-away places such as Delaware . The young man agreed by saying that he, too, had visited the website recently & was stymied by the same thing.

A short time later, it occurred to me how odd it is: a man of my age & experience reduced to applying for the same entry-level jobs as youths. By age 22, I had landed a well-paying position with a large company where I would spend the next 22 years, working my way up to management. I mean no denigration to those who make near minimum wage manning fast-food counters, selling tickets at the cinema, or delivering newspapers. But 30 years’ ago those were kids’ jobs. Grown-ups had higher-paying positions which also came with fringe benefits. Now here I am (and I am far from alone) seeking employment that doesn’t pay what I made when my daughter was born 25 years ago. How are Americans going to support their families on the low wages paid by the majority of employers?

I have no doubt that, if our nation’s “leaders” had screwed the workers this much back when my parents were my age, those leaders would have been dragged out of their cushy offices into the street & soundly beaten or worse. The “Greatest Generation” remembered the Great Depression & what it was like to have no job, no money, & maybe no future while seeing the fat-cats do nothing to help. They never would have allowed themselves to be put back into that box.
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I see that a new literary sensation is climbing the New York Times’bestseller list. The number 7 book is “Crimes Against Liberty: An Indictment of President Barack Obama” by David Limbaugh and it’s moving up fast. Some speculate that if the Republicans win these upcoming mid-term elections they will seek impeachment for President Ojellyfish. Instead of hand-wringing about such a tragedy, I will quote Obama’s mentor, President W. Bush: “Bring it on!”

My interest in B.O.’s political or personal survival would not register on even the most sensitive lab instruments. I see nothing he has done or likely will do that will benefit ordinary citizens in any way. He has neglected & insulted those who believed in his election. I am so fed-up with seeing his endless stream of glitzy vacations & appearances on tv talk-shows that I would happily assist the Republicans by reading the impeachment articles in front of Congress.

However, the Republicans would never be stupid-enough to impeach the best thing they’ve had going this side of Dick Cheney. The power structure tricked us into putting B.O. into office as a way to de-fang the youth, the liberals, the poor, the peace-nicks, and the blacks. Those groups will never become militant as long as the first African-American president sits on the throne. He provides cover for he oligarchs’ continued gang-rape of the nation. In the next 2 years, he will help the incoming Republican majority torpedo Social Security.

Impeach the emptiest suit to occupy the presidency in at least 150 years? Once again I say: “Bring it on!” But it will not happen. Republican political bosses would not risk reinvigorating the constituents whom B.O. & company have so completely dis-heartened over these last nearly 2 years.

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Hate the Unemployed

June 29, 2010 at 2:54 am (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

It’s become obvious in the past few months that the latest group Americans are being manipulated into hating is the unemployed. They are fast being set-up to join the ranks of dangers to “The American Way of Life” that have included (but have been far from limited to) the British, Amer-Indians, Japanese, Communists, Muslims, trade unionists, welfare queens, Cubans, uppity negroes, Filipinos, various immigrant groups, women suffragettes, gays, hippies, intellectuals, French, draft dodgers, Russians, atheists, liberals, and conspiracy theorists.

Former workers are being slandered as too lazy to take a job, drug users, a burden that increases the nation’s budget deficit, and actually the cause of more unemployment because (get this!) their refusal to jump at the rock-bottom-jobs keeps wages too high. But the millionaires’ club known as the U.S. Senate came up with one of their typically well-thought-out solutions: They cut-off all extended unemployment.

This means that, while the U.S. is still gripped in the most catastrophic downturn since the Great Depression (catastrophic that is, for the bottom 95% of Americans) our “leaders” have decided, on the basis of no concrete evidence, that the economy is recovered and the unemployed need no extra help. So now the unemployed will be FORCED to stop living in the luxury of living off about 40% of their former wages & take one one of those plentiful jobs.

BTW- one of the most egregious slanders is this constantly-repeated lie that the unemployed are getting 99 weeks of payments. The media has even taken to talking about the “99ers.” HOGWASH !!! Only a small number of unemployed got that much time; it all depended upon factors such as when one lost one’s job & in what state it happened. I am convinced this is another subtle way to rile the still-employed into jealousy.

The same corporate-owned professional politicians who masterfully steered the ship of state onto the rocks, then managed to save the wealthy without enacting any meaningful change of course, are now throwing those of us without jobs overboard to lighten the ship’s load.

Mouthpieces of the kooky right-wing watch us sink without so much as tossing us a life-preserver. Instead, goofballs such as president of the Libertarian (that means insane free-market zealot) Buckeye Institute, Matt Mayer spout drivel about it being an example of “tough love.” Gee whiz, Matt, to me it looks more like an example of “kicking people when they’re down.”

And the response from those who still, for the time being, have jobs is barely a whimper. In fact, my own experience is that many of the employed are falling for the hate campaign hook, line, & sinker. What is it within the American character that makes it so apt to parrot the most outrageously heartless & brainless propaganda? That willingness to believe the worst in people, that Puritan fear that somewhere, somehow someone is getting a free-ride, that deep-seated conviction that those who encounter misfortune deserve it. I suppose that is one of the reasons why, in the early days of Hitler’s regime he thought the U.S. was very likely to join forces with him.

But enough of that. Now on to happier news.

I’m pleased to see America’s neighbor to the north, the one with the big maple leaf on their flag, is doing just dandy. Not being run by a cadre of evil, greedy, short-sighted plutocrats has allowed Canada to side-step the banking crisis, replace 75% of jobs lost in the recent recession, and keep their housing market on the upswing. While Canada got hammered just like the rest of the world’s nations, their economy is now growing at over 6% per year and their budget is expected to be back in surplus by 2015. Their Finance Minister, the wonderful JIm Flaherty, refused to lead his nation off the cliff in spite of pressure from world leaders to relax banking regulations to make Canada’s financial system more hip & groovy.

But it wasn’t always thus. Back in the early 1990’s the Canadian economy was a shambles but its leaders took steps to build a better future and have succeeded. Prime Minister at that time, Paul Martin, reminisces that it had to be done so as to “…preserve our health care and our education system…” Get that? Canada’s economy has become “the envy of the world” while managing to take care of its people! Sadly, we in the U.S.A. can no longer even imagine what it would be like to have caring & courageous leaders such as those up north.

Nor can we imagine what it would be like to have a leader like Uruguay’s president, Jose Mujica, whose entire net worth consists of a 1987 VW Beetle. He refuses to move into the presidential palace & still lives on his wife’s small farm. He donates most of his salary to causes such as housing for the poor.

We in the U.S.A. know that people like the Canadians & Jose Mujica are socialists. And socialists are bad! We know that because we have been inundated with that message for about 100 years. This was driven home to me when I came across a book I hadn’t read in my extensive collection, “Great Reading from Life” Life was once the most popular general interest magazine in America, once having a circulation of 13.5 million readers each week. This book from 1959 contains excerpts from the magazine by such luminaries as John Kennedy, Winston Churchill, Richard Nixon, Aldous Huxley, & Sir Edmund Hillary and among its 70 articles are 9 that are directly anti-Communist/Socialist. There are also numerous writings that simply monger fear of Communism/Socialism in passing. Is it any wonder that most Americans have a knee-jerk reaction to fear Socialism, while most of the rest of the developed world practices it with mostly good results?

I confess that Myrtle & I have been talking for some time about immigrating to a more civilized nation. This urge has become stronger in the past 6 weeks in light of the monstrous stupidity of the BP oil disaster & the heartless evil of vilifying the unemployed. On top of all the other monumental cruel dumbness of post-Reagan America, life here has become pretty much unbearable for those who believe in kindness & rationality. If you feel that way too, here is a link to the Canadian government’s immigration website.

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Aristocrats on Unemployment

June 13, 2010 at 5:04 am (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )


My valet, Higgins, silently entered my stateroom earlier than usual. It was the crack of noon. He leaned over my custom double-king-size bed and gently nudged my shoulder to awaken me. “Sir,” he implored in the sort of hushed-tone one would use to awaken an infant, “you must dress and go into town for your appointment at the unemployment office.”

My groggy voice returned to him, muffled by the eider-down pillow covered with satin pillowcase in which my face was half-buried. “Go ‘way, Higgins, come back and rouse me in half an hour.” I reached my hand out from under the Siberian goose-down comforter to wave him off impatiently.

“A thousand pardons, sir,” Higgins replied consolingly, “but yesterday evening, when you gave instructions to awaken you at noon today, you impressed upon me the importance of your being prompt for this appointment.” He straightened-up and gathered my champagne glass and bottle from the night table. Then his voice took on a note of imperiousness, “I have taken the liberty of drawing your bath and laying-out your special unemployment office ensemble.”

I yawned, stretched, then threw-off the luxurious bed-coverings and sat up. “No, Higgins, I think it best that I do not bathe this morning.”

Hearing this, Higgins, who was walking for the door, halted in his tracks. He half-turned so that I could see his profile but still I could see that the blood had drained from his face. He was barely able to disguise his dismay. “Am I to understand then, sir, that you shall go to your appointment…” he searched for the word, “unwashed?!”

“A man must do what a man must do!” I replied emphatically. “When in Rome…and all that sort of thing.” I added.

“I see.” He replied slowly and with noticeable resignation he added, “Very well, sir.” He then hurried out, closing the door silently behind him.

Minus my usual morning routine of brushing teeth, combing hair, and shaving, it took me almost no time in the lavatory. I quickly donned a dirty t-shirt, baggy faded jeans, and a pair of well-worn flip-flop shoes. In the midst of dressing, I felt a longing for my usual attire of Armani or perhaps Hugo Boss and a comfy, comfy pair of hand-made Bertolis to clad my feet. But, I reminded myself, I must be strong for I was not going to the country club this afternoon. I was instead visiting the unemployment office, or as it was now called “the job center,” to file my request for extended unemployment benefits. And once that was done I would rush to shower, change clothes, and the missus and I would celebrate with a meal in the finest French restaurant, accompanied by a bottle of Romanee’ Conti.

I made my way on deck to discover that my chef, Marcus, had outdone himself with a feast fit for a king: a steaming pot of Hawaiian Kona coffee, truffles and cheese omelette, fresh croissants, buttermilk pancakes with maple syrup, fresh vine-ripened tomatoes, and Scottish Oats porridge with a tot of cream and whiskey. As always, Higgins had laid-out the morning newspaper on the table with the page folded to the latest stock quotations. He doffed a cloth napkin onto my lap and stood-by behind me. “Bless his soul,” Higgins told me as I dug into the exquisite repast, “Marcus heard of your impending pilgrimage and hoped to allay some of the discomfort.”

“Please relay my compliments to him.” I heartily replied. “And please also relay to the Captain that we shall set-sail early tomorrow morning at his discretion.” After thoroughly satisfying my hunger, I sat back to enjoy my third perfect cup of coffee. As my eyes scanned across the other yachts in the marina, I again addressed my servant.” I take it that Mrs. Girdle, as is her habit each time we dock, has gone shopping?”

“Oh, indeed, sir.” said Higgins with a hint of amusement. “She left about nine-thirty this morning.”

“Ah. She will, of course, return to us with arms full of purchases from the most exclusive shoppes.” I chuckled, “But I suppose it’s only money, eh Higgins?”

“In truth, sir.” nodded Higgins.

As I sat breathing-in the pure air and sunshine and listening to the gulls, I began to ruminate upon my great, good-fortune. Whereas only a short year ago I had been just another working stooge, my life had taken a turn for the undeniably better when I had lost my job. Since that time, unemployment benefits have afforded me a life usually reserved only for a relative handful of aristocrats. Once upon a time I struggled to pay my bills and now I live in sumptuous luxury, thanks to the public trough: a villa in Southern Italy, world-travel aboard my yacht (which once belonged to Aristotle Onassis), holidays in the Caribbean, hobnobbing with the jet-set at Cannes and the Riviera. The only fly in the ointment was that, every few months, I had to return to the United States to put in another request for more unemployment. However, it was a small enough price to pay.

“I suppose, Higgins, that if I were still working for a living I would now be having lunch. Probably something like a Big Mac and french fries.” I felt my stomach rebel at the thought.

Higgins answered impassively. “That is likely sir.”

“Well then,” I raised my fine china coffee cup for a toast, “here’s to the great American taxpayers. Long may they remain suckers!”


My trip into the city was uneventful. To assure my arrival in a state of optimum, sweaty dishevelment I ordered Sagamore, my chauffeur, to keep the limousine’s windows down during the drive to the unemployment office. But I emphasized he was have the car properly closed and chilled for my triumphant ride home. He dropped me off two blocks from my destination.

As I walked within sight of the job center, I changed my sunny demeanor to the one of proper hangdog shame. I shuffled through the door to take my place in one of the interminable lines. The greater part of an hour passed before I reached the head of the line. Once there, the receptionist assigned me a number and pointed to the overcrowded waiting area. Once there, I found no available molded plastic chair on which to sit, so I wandered about, being sure to listen for my number to be called.

I walked over to the wall-sized bulletin board on which was posted huge numbers and variety of available jobs of all descriptions. I pretended to look them over carefully but inside smirked that I would never be willing to work again as long as unemployment was available. A young black man dressed in regulation droopy pants, muscle shirt, and backwards ball-cap stood to my side, perusing the listings. We happened to lock eyes for a moment and he gave a broad smile. “Ain’t this a buncha bullshit?” he giggled. “Like I’m gonna take one of these jive-ass jobs and give-up my penthouse apartment and rolls? I never had it so good; wish I woulda lost my job a long time ago!” He laughed and slapped his hand onto my shoulder.

“Shhh!” I cautioned him, “You’ll give it away!”

He quickly sobered. “Oh, yeah, right.” We went back to pretending to look at the jobs. He muttered to me out of the side of his mouth. “I can’t wait to get outta these garbage clothes and back into my Jaegers. But like I told my butler this morning, “A man’s gotta do what he’s gotta do.””

“That’s the same thing I told my butler this morning!” We both laughed stealthily. Then the loudspeaker called out “number two-hundred-twenty-four” and he said, “That’s my number! Gotta go. Good talkin’ to ya; take care!” and he hurried away.

I strolled again to the waiting area, where a couple seats had been vacated. I settled uncomfortably onto the cheap plastic chair. Across the way, a thirty-ish caucasian woman in a day-glo pink jogging suit spoke loudly into her cell phone, “…I don’t care how much extra it costs. I’m expecting forty-five guests at this dinner and when I hired you to cater it you assured me there would be no trouble obtaining Almas caviar. Certainly, fly it in by priority shipment if you must! And don’t call me again because I’m in the middle of an important meeting!” and with that she hung up.

Sitting down the row from me, a thin young asian woman whose arms were covered with tattoos said sympathetically, “It’s so hard to find good help these days. You know, I had to fire my maid last week because she showed-up drunk!”

The middle-aged black man beside me spoke up. “You probably did her a favor.” he grinned, “Now she’s on unemployment and got a maid of her own!” We all laughed uproariously. Then, realizing someone in authority might overhear, we fell silent.

Shortly thereafter, my number was called. I ambled into my caseworker’s office with an attitude of dejection. Ms. Breene, the thin, nervous social worker sat behind her desk with my file open in front of her. “Hell, Mr. Girdle.” she said.

“Hello.” I replied.

Before I even had a chance to sit, she asked, “Have you been looking for work?”

I nodded again and said, “Oh, yes” I lied. “Every day.” I almost burst-out laughing.

Ms. Breene made a quick notation in the file. “Alright then. We will give you another four months of unemployment. See you again in four months.” Then she looked up and with a smile and a wink she said, “Say hello to Higgins for me.”

I smiled at her, turned and walked out. As I exited the building, across the plaza I saw the young man whom I had met at the job postings. “Hey, Mr. Two-Twenty-Four!” I shouted happily.

He stopped talking to the pretty, young woman who had his attention. When he saw it was me he grinned and called back, “Going home to cool-off in my swimming pool.”

I nearly danced the two blocks back to my limousine. Sagamore had the interior cooled to perfection. And that was not all he had cooled to perfection. Waiting for me in an ice bucket was a chilled bottle of Dom Perignon. A string tied around the neck of the bottle held a note from my wife that read, “Let’s Not Ever Work Again!”

As my car pulled-away from the curb and I poured a glass of the bubbly, I wiped-away a tear of joy. As my new friend, Mr. Two-Twenty-Four said, “I never had it so good!”

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Counting on You

May 31, 2010 at 1:27 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Here is a copy of the email I sent to the president, my Congressman, and my two Senators. I urge you to do likewise. There is a link to their offices here on this blog.

“It used to be only the Republicans who did not care about ordinary people. Now I see the Democrats have joined them. Going on vacation while millions of Americans lose their unemployment benefits? Shame on you!

I live in Dayton. Like me, you are old-enough to remember when this city was one of the top in the world for industry. Have you seen it lately? Maybe you should visit it during your vacation and see the closed businesses & factories and talk to the people who struggle to hold on to their lives without jobs.

The unemployed are not slackers or lazy layabouts. They are people who had jobs & lost them because the president & Congress did not do their jobs of keeping the economy on-track.

Why did I vote for a Democrat president & Congress if you are going to act like Republicans. And save me the nice-sounding speeches, show me some backbone and take action! If I cannot count on you now, then do not count on my vote in the next election.”

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Wall Street Gets the Goldmine & We Get the Shaft

April 23, 2010 at 1:49 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

In spite of my best efforts, America’s casino economy hums-along in its happy, fraudulent, and bonus-filled way. Meanwhile, the needs of the real economy and the hundreds of millions of citizens it supports are as ignored by the Washington crowd as coal mine safety.

Our wise “leaders” in business, media, and government grasp at every straw, twisting statistics to fit the “prosperity is just around the corner” scenario they need to keep us from rising-up & demanding the rotten system really be changed. For instance, they blew their trumpets loudly to announce that, Heaven be praised!, 162,000 jobs were created in March. So the economy is on the mend and Wall Street can go back to handing-out bonuses. Sounds good… but whoa wait a minute!, it turns out that at least 150,000 jobs must be created every month just to absorb new people coming into the workforce (like all those eager young people and immigrants). Well, ok, that leaves 18,000 jobs to chip-away (for 361 years!) at that nasty 6.5 million “long-term unemployed” number. But, oh my gosh! 88,000 of those 162,000 jobs were temporary work, such as working on the U.S. Census. The truth is that real job growth is still going in reverse.

And that does not even address the fact that America’s jobs increasingly lack wages & accompanying benefits that allow workers to share in their nation’s prosperity. Livable pay, health insurance, retirement, and vacations are all things taken mostly for granted by our Capitalist elite, Socialist Europe, and in the “mixed-economy” days of post-Great Depression-pre-Ronald Reagan America. But they are vanishing quickly in this country. The only real solution I can see is a turn to Socialism or at least a return to its milder cousin, the “mixed-economy” of the 1930’s-1970’s, wherein government’s main job was to make sure the playing-field is kept level by keeping a tight rein on big-business and helping the common citizen to flourish.

Back in November, when this blog had almost no readership, I posted the essay, Bring Back the Red Menace!” Now, I wish to re-print it, with apologies to those who would debate finer distinctions between “Socialism” (an intermediate step between Capitalism and Communism) and “Communism” (the ultimate destination in the flight from Capitalism), I use the terms interchangeably.

Bring Back the Red Menace!

We Americans are brought-up to believe that genuine, vigorous competition is the life-blood of our great system. Vying against one-another for victory, with the winner taking all the spoils and the loser conceding any claim is what makes social Darwinism tick. And so it is drilled into our red, white, and blue brains from cradle to grave until it becomes second-nature to believe that non-winners deserve to have nothing. Gaining or losing it all motivates us to try our best. Striving against a rival makes us strong!

Who would deny that in the 1970’s, our domestic auto makers had become bloated, complacent, and inefficient. They were insensitive to and exploitative of their customers; building increasingly lower-quality and higher-priced products designed for “planned obsolescence.” They were improved by stiff competition from foreign car companies that gave customers an alternative. Likewise, the United States Postal Service was improved when other carriers appeared. I could fill pages with examples of industries and organizations that were increasingly out-of-touch with their market, all of which were raised-up by vying against tough, strong, viable opponents.

That lack of competition is exactly why a monopoly does not function well. There is no rival to keep said monopoly under control so sooner or later hubris, greed, and decadence set-in (note that this is why government regulation is used to control these tendencies in monopolies). In modern American, Reagan-Bush-Clinton-Obama-nomics, monopoly is a diseased thing that must be cured through competition. If the schools, the airlines, or the electric company can’t face the challenge, then that’s too bad because it’s sink or swim for everyone (except for banks and Wall Street tycoons).

And now I come to my point. And here I am relieved to know that no one actually reads this blog, so I will not be hounded by threats and cat-calls for the assertion I’m about to make: The worst thing that happened to the average American citizen in the past 100 years was the collapse of the Communistic Soviet Union. Why? Simply because we now have no competitor to which we can turn when we are abused by the monopoly known as American Capitalism. And so that monopoly becomes increasingly abusive of its captive customers.

Apparently, I am the only one to notice that there was only one span of time when conditions consistently improved for American workers and citizens: the years from 1920 until the mid-1980’s while the Soviet Union existed and, in the minds of America’s leaders, there was real danger of a (cue-up the scary music) Communistic revolution in America.

Before that window of time, laissez faire Capitalism was firmly in the saddle and there was very little progress in the treatment of the vast majority of the population. Things didn’t really begin to improve until the Great Depression of the 1930’s caused a large percentage of Americans to start considering the alternative economics of Communism/Socialism/Populism (all close cousins). This scared the bejesus out of our political and business rulers who then reluctantly agreed to allow a little of the wealth to be spread around. And for the next 50 years, more and more wealth got spread in America so that the people were kept happy and non-Communist.* Overall, things kept getting better all the time for Americans across the board: the old, the young, all races, both genders. The poverty level crept down a little at a time and literacy rates kept going up.

Then in the late 1980’s, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics fell-apart under the weight of its leaders’ corruption and greed. The threat by the Communist menace was over. Sure there were still a few other Communist nations around, but none of them posed a real threat to Capitalism. American Capitalism boasted of being the only superpower remaining on earth. And, immediately, (actually it had started a few years earlier when the Soviet collapse could be seen on the horizon) American Capitalism no longer had to try to keep our hearts and minds. The tide turned against the average American. And it’s been downhill for us ever since.

So today we Americans are seemingly stuck with a bloated, uncaring, inefficient, corrupt, wasteful, unfair, and unresponsive system that is typical of any monopoly. But we are not stuck! Having no competition allows Capitalism to dismiss the needs of the citizens. There is only one solution: We must pick-up the threat of Communist revolution off the ash heap of history and, at the very least, pretend to be considering it as a replacement for Capitalism. That will scare the elite into once again being willing to share some of our nation’s prosperity.

* And contrary to what neo-conservative ideology teaches, in spite of having to share prosperity with the bottom 95% of the nation, there was still plenty of money for the upper 5% to stay very, very, very, rich.

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Senator: Start Doing Your Job!

March 9, 2010 at 12:23 am (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , )


Here is a map showing how the cancer of unemployment has swept our nation over the past couple years. Sadly, in spite of this devastation, the members of Congress still have their jobs.

Consumer bankruptcies continue to rise. (Yours truly will soon be joining their ranks.)

Here is more news on the unemployment front.

A young lady came to our door this afternoon. She was a volunteer for the “Working America” organization, which is helping the AFL-CIO unions canvass the neighborhoods. They are mounting a letter-writing campaign for citizens to send letters to Working America which they will forward en masse to Republican Senator, George Voinovich, expressing support for jobs programs in place of continued bail-outs for the fat-cats. Myrtle & I told her we email the Whitehouse & Congress most every week, but we’d be happy to compose & print a letter which she could put into Working America’s mass mailing campaign. I implore you to write to your public servants (that is what they are, although they have forgotten it!) at the links provided on this blog roll.

In case you want to join their letter-writing campaign, Working America’s address is:
815 16th Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20006

Here’s the text of the letter I sent them:

Senator Voinovich,

Nine years ago, [colonelgirdle] was downsized from his good job of 22 years. We put everything we had into a small business that went under in the economic crash early last year. (See the attached letter that has a reprint of our blog, “Then the Financial Tsunami Hit.”) We are struggling to hold onto what little we have left. Are we angry that our government takes money from people like us and bails-out BIG corporations and also gives incentives to send our good jobs to other countries? You bet!

At this point most everyone we know is in financial trouble. They’ve lost their jobs, businesses, and homes. Those who are lucky enough to still have a job have had their pay and work hours cut. They can’t afford to heat their homes, health-care, or educational costs. In short, America is in BIG, BIG TROUBLE. Soon people like us may be forced out of our homes and where are we going to go? Maybe onto YOUR FRONT LAWN.

We remind you that you are a public servant. So it’s time for you to do your job! We want:
Leftover bank bail-out money to be used for restoring Main Street’s economy.
Repair & expansion of our nation’s infrastructure.
Help in establishing alternate energy sources & green jobs.
Assistance to our local & state governments that are struggling to maintain services.
Additional funds for social programs to help the working poor & unemployed.
Cuts in out-of-control military spending & investigation of war profiteering.
EXTENSIONS IN UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS AND ADDITIONAL JOB TRAINING PROGRAMS.

Sincerely,

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Outstanding in His Field

March 3, 2010 at 2:09 am (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

You’ve got to hand it to him. As our nation’s government descends further into madness, the #2 (pun intended) Republican in the Senate, Jon Kyl of Arizona is delusional-enough to stand-out in the crowd. He argues that paying unemployment benefits makes people want to not get jobs.

If I were more famous, I’d issue this public challenge to the Senator: “Show me these people of whom you speak. In other words, put up or shut up.” Of course any sensible person knows Senator Windbag, er, I mean Kyl was speaking anecdotally in much the same way Ronald Reagan would cite the legendary “Welfare Queen” or 1950″s Senator Joe McCarthy claimed to have the names of hundreds of Communist traitors in our government- but never produced one real example.

It’s a pity the present pack of birdbrains in the government & among the citizenry don’t know history (particularly the Great Depression/New Deal) nor do they understand economics. Their ignorance allows them to fall prey to right wing charlatanism and hatred toward victims of an economic system that has gone insane. Because of this ignorance they are making decisions that are dooming us to repeat some of the worst errors of pre-FDR society. There are good reasons why social safety nets were put in place by the developed nations of the world.

For instance, if they knew more about unemployment they would realize that payment of benefits is not only a help to the individual collecting the money. It also acts as a prop for the economy by allowing the jobless citizen to continue to pay bills. This prevents an economic downturn from cascading into catastrophe.

Another example is Social Security payments and pensions that allow workers to retire at age 65. Social Security was instituted for a number of good reasons.One of which was to raise the elderly from the depths of poverty. Did you know that 80 years ago, senior citizens were the poorest demographic of Americans? Social Security succeeded so well that elderly Americans are now the nation’s wealthiest demographic. Another reason for Social Security was to get the older workers out of the workforce so there would be jobs for the younger citizens during and after the Great Depression. Now, thanks to a concerted effort of shortsighted stupidity, we have many of our senior citizens hanging on in the workplace and younger Americans shut out of the job market. This is a recipe for disaster.

And speaking of getting older workers to retire so younger people can have jobs. Congressman Dennis Kucinich, whom I consider one of the few members of Congress who is worth an owl’s hoot*, recently proposed a good idea. For a cost of $15 billion (chicken feed nowadays), he wants to temporarily lower the Social Security age to 60 in order to open-up as many as 4 million existing jobs for younger citizens. I’m willing to bet that you never heard of his proposal in the mainstream media, so of course it will go nowhere. Too bad ideas like that are never heard at the President’s “jobs summit.”

* Disclaimer- I contributed money to Congressman Kucinich’s 2008 Presidential campaign.

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Sucking More & More

December 28, 2009 at 12:37 am (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , )

Any working American knows our economy has gradually sucked more and more at higher and higher levels for decades. And all the while, that increasing suck-level has been vastly ignored by our media, our politicians, and anyone who occupies the levels up from where the suck reaches. For instance, I remember about 15 years ago when I worked in Engineering & Product Development and our building had an experimental machine shop. Well, one day the bigwigs decided to eliminate that machine shop and farm-out the work to outside shops. The Engineers I worked with couldn’t have been less sympathetic toward what they called “blue-collar” workers losing their jobs. I warned them that someday the tide would probably rise to eliminate them and the idea was soundly hooted down as preposterous. Now, of course, we see Engineering and developmental work increasingly off-shored. In fact, many of those same Engineers and Chemists were downsized along with me about 9 years ago when the company moved to greener pastures (that is, where labor was cheaper and environmental standards not as strict).

Our habit of turning-away from the plight of our fellow-citizens who are in need is much like that old poem about Nazi Germany that talks about (paraphrasing) “When they came to get the Jews, I did nothing because I wasn’t Jewish. When they came to get the Catholics, I did nothing because I wasn’t Catholic. Finally, they came to get me and there was no one left to fight for me.” The lower-class 90% of the population better wake-up and realize it’s in their own best interest to stand-up for each other. Our ancestors learned this the hard way, as we are now doing. To a great extent, during the Great Depression until the 1970’s, the working class usually stuck together and won higher wages, paid vacations, sick leave time, holiday pay, overtime pay, reasonable work-week hours, and many other benefits that the plutocrats didn’t want to give.  Since the workers stopped sticking together there has been a steady erosion of all those work place improvements.

One of our greatest weapons is the ballot box.  It is time to turn all the Washington, D.C. politicians out of office (my apologies to the handful that are not slime). And a mild form of that is just what voters thought they were doing when they elected Obama. His campaign of “change” resonated with citizens who didn’t want to destroy the underpinnings of our Constitutional system but knew America’s “public servants” are now only serving the plutocrats. And his sell-out to those plutocrats and war machine betrayed their trust. Like me, most of them won’t vote Democrat again and they already know the Republicans are nuts, so they are ripe for a third party.

On a related note, in the last few days our corporate-owned rulers have decreed yet another give-away to their masters. I’m speaking of the mandatory insurance company subsidy that was passed into law as “healthcare reform.” Over the next few years, the cost of forced insurance purchase will destroy many a family’s budget. Those who are already financially sinking will drown and those who are barely keeping their heads above water will sink. In advance of this bill’s passage, concerned citizens, politicians, and media rightfully asked how people who couldn’t afford insurance in the first place were supposed to buy insurance when required by law. The politicians gave solemn assurance  that there would be government help for those who couldn’t afford insurance (much like they assured us after Katrina that New Orleans would promptly be rebuilt). And, amazingly, the questioners swallowed it hook, line, and sinker.

But most anyone who has had to ask for government help can tell you, the gov’t help will turn-out to be an off-putting maze of underfunded bullshit that will amount to near zero help. In the end, millions of Americans will have to choose between buying insurance to avoid fines or paying for their rent, groceries, and utilities. Worst of all, because of factors such as unaffordable co-payments and insurance company denials for treatment, these new insurance customers probably won’t see any real improvement in their access to healthcare. And all the while America’s “leaders” will continue to pour unimaginable money down the rat-hole of endless wars and more tax breaks for the ultra-rich. I believe there is a very good chance this healthcare “reform” (which isn’t) may become the issue that will finally ignite a citizens rebellion.

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Bring Back the “Red Menace”

November 1, 2009 at 5:12 am (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , , , )

We Americans are brought-up to believe that genuine, vigorous competition is the life-blood of our great system. Vying against one-another for victory, with the winner taking all the spoils and the loser conceding any claim is what makes social Darwinism tick. And so it is drilled into our red, white, and blue brains from cradle to grave until it becomes second-nature to believe that non-winners deserve to have nothing. Gaining or losing it all motivates us to try our best. Striving against a rival makes us strong!

Who would deny that in the 1970’s, our domestic auto makers had become bloated, complacent, and inefficient. They were insensitive to and exploitative of their customers; building increasingly lower-quality and higher-priced products designed for “planned obsolescence.” They were improved by stiff competition from foreign car companies that gave customers an alternative. Likewise, the United States Postal Service was improved when other carriers appeared. I could fill pages with examples of industries and organizations that were increasingly out-of-touch with their market, all of which were raised-up by vying against tough, strong, viable opponents.

That lack of competition is exactly why a monopoly does not function well. There is no rival to keep said monopoly under control so sooner or later hubris, greed, and decadence set-in (note that this is why government regulation is used to control these tendencies in monopolies). In modern American, Reagan-Bush-Clinton-Obama-nomics, monopoly is a diseased thing that must be cured through competition. If the schools, the airlines, or the electric company can’t face the challenge, then that’s too bad because it’s sink or swim for everyone (except for banks and Wall Street tycoons).

And now I come to my point. And here I am relieved to know that no one actually reads this blog, so I will not be hounded by threats and cat-calls for the assertion I’m about to make:  The worst thing that happened to the average American citizen in the past 100 years was the collapse of the Communistic Soviet Union. Why? Simply because we now have no competitor to which we can turn when we are abused by the monopoly known as American Capitalism. And so that monopoly becomes increasingly abusive of its captive customers.

Apparently, I am the only one to notice that there was only one span of time when conditions consistently improved for American workers and citizens:  the years from 1920 until the mid-1980’s while the Soviet Union existed and, in the minds of America’s leaders, there was real danger of a (cue-up the scary music) Communistic revolution in America.

Before that window of time, laissez faire Capitalism was firmly in the saddle and there was very little progress in the treatment of the vast majority of the population. Things didn’t really begin to improve until the Great Depression of the 1930’s caused a large percentage of Americans to start considering the alternative economics of Communism/Socialism/Populism (all close cousins). This scared the bejesus out of our political and business rulers who then reluctantly agreed to allow a little of the wealth to be spread around. And for the next 50 years, more and more wealth got spread in America so that the people were kept happy and non-Communist.* Overall, things kept getting better all the time for Americans across the board:  the old, the young, all races, both genders. The poverty level crept down a little at a time and literacy rates kept going up.

Then in the late 1980’s, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics fell-apart under the weight of its leaders’ corruption and greed. The threat by the Communist menace was over. Sure there were still a few other Communist nations around, but none of them posed a real threat to Capitalism. American Capitalism boasted of being the only superpower remaining on earth. And, immediately, (actually it had started a few years earlier when the Soviet collapse could be seen on the horizon) American Capitalism no longer had to try to keep our hearts and minds. The tide turned against the average American. And it’s been downhill for us ever since.

So today we Americans are seemingly stuck with a bloated, uncaring, inefficient, corrupt, wasteful, unfair, and unresponsive system that is typical of any monopoly. But we are not stuck! Having no competition allows Capitalism to dismiss the needs of the citizens.  There is only one solution:  We must pick-up the threat of Communist revolution off the ash heap of history and, at the very least, pretend to be considering it as a replacement for Capitalism. That will scare the elite into once again being willing to share some of our nation’s prosperity.

* And contrary to neo-conservative ideology, in spite of having to share prosperity with the bottom 95% of the nation, there was still plenty of money for the upper 5% to stay very, very, very, rich.

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