Re-Enforced Cynicism

December 5, 2010 at 4:28 am (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Last week, I took my 5 year-old granddaughter to McDonald’s so she could play on the indoor playground. While she romped, I became so bored that I read the Happy Meal box. To allay my guilt at supplying the yellow-arched juggernaut with more money the box proudly proclaimed, “Now with every Happy Meal or Mighty Kids Meal purchase, a donation is made to Ronald McDonald House Charities.

My sensitivity to corporate weasel-speak immediately set-off my bullshit detector. “…a portion…” eh? How large a portion of the $3.09 I paid for the Happy Meal is McDonald’s going to donate? I suspect most sheeple would give the matter little thought & expect perhaps 50 cents, a dollar, maybe 2 dollars to be channeled to such a worthy cause. But if that were the case, then the box would proudly state the generous specific amount.

“Probably a penny.” I said to myself with a smirk.

Within a split-second I berated myself for my cynicism. I reminded myself to give McDonald’s the benefit of the doubt. No wonder my wife, Myrtle, teases me about being such a pessimist. I felt shamed.

And then my eye fell upon the tiny footnote at the bottom of the box: “McDonald’s donates a penny per Happy Meal or Mighty Kids Meal sold.”

So McDonald’s trumpets its benevolence & then gives the smallest coinage possible. Once again I am reminded that I was not born a cynic but became one through long years of experience.
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I saw in today’s headlines that official unemployment has “leaped” to 9.8%. That is a laughable statistic in light that actual joblessness in America is easily double that figure. And two years into the economic depression, the only reliable solution our pathetic so-called leaders have devised is to let unemployment benefits lapse for the long-term jobless as they’ve been letting happen since summer. The jobless who are no longer eligible for unemployment payments are no longer counted as “unemployed.” Viola! “Unemployment” problem solved.
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About once a year I re-read Kurt Vonnegut’s brilliant 1990 novel, Hocus Pocus, a prescient satire about America in 2001 when the nation has been thoroughly raped by its Capitalist owners & sold-off to other countries. Here is a brief excerpt taken from where the college-professor protagonist recollects a speech given by the college’s Writer in Residence. A speech that causes consternation among the college’s Board of Trustees:

He predicted, I remember, that human slavery would come back, that it had in fact never gone away. He said that so many people wanted to come here because it was so easy to rob the poor people, who got absolutely no protection from the Government. He talked about bridges falling down and water mains breaking because of no maintenance. He talked about oil spills and radioactive waste and poisoned aquifers and looted banks and liquidated corporations. “And nobody ever gets punished for anything,” he said. “Being an American means never having to say you’re sorry.”

Could have been written in 2010, huh?
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Somewhere along the line I read that President Ohwhatabummer plans to let the Bush tax breaks for the rich keep on rolling for another few years. That is, long enough that he will have been voted out and then the new Republican president can finally make the tax breaks permanent. Also, I see B.O.’s Deficit Commission is getting bolder about letting us peons know just how much they are going to hammer us. Gotta pay for the billionaires’ tax breaks so wave goodbye to Social Security!

And you can be sure that in 2012 a whole bunch of liberals will still delude themselves into believing that Obama is worth their vote.
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I am curious. Just when did you finally realize that our system simply exists to work-over every non-wealthy sentient being in the Milky Way? For me it was last summer when all that oil kept gushing into the Gulf of Mexico & millions of ex-workers were losing the lifeline of their unemployment benefits & the multiple wars were grinding on and the attitude of our government toward those crises was one of… peaceful detachment.

The U.S. has now reached the level of the old Soviet Union. Our economic, government, & social systems are completely wrecked & getting worse by the day & instead of fixing the mess the elites in charge spend their time grabbing all they can. And the common people have divided into 2 camps: a small percentage who still believe the lies or at least hope those around them still do & hope to grab some swag for themselves & the majority who know it is hopeless & we are going off a cliff.

If you are one of the shrinking minority who thinks our democracy will repair itself, I urge you to take a look at what is happening surrounding the revelations of government & corporate lies exposed by Wikileaks. There is a clear-cut case of “shoot the messenger.” It is enough to make baby Jesus cry.

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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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The Jobless Recovery

September 26, 2010 at 1:47 am (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , )

I went to a job fair on Thursday in a local hotel ballroom. It was scheduled to begin at 10 am and so I arrived 20 minutes early. By then there was a group of a couple hundred people waiting at the locked doors. When the doors opened, I was swept in with the tide of job-seekers.

The fair consisted of 15 “exhibitors” of which 5 were colleges & training schools looking to recruit students. Most of the remaining exhibitors were for companies that do things like paste advertising billboards onto automobiles.

I had attended so as to apply at a local retailer that was seeking management candidates. When I entered the fair I made a beeline for their booth, where I was 2nd in line to receive a job description & application package. By the time I filled-out the paperwork 10 minutes later, I found that I was well over 100th in line to hand it in.
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For this past week, a local grocery had a flier posted in its window saying cashier applications would be taken this morning. I arrived a half hour before time and was, therefore, 4th in line. Since I shop at the store regularly, the cashier on duty recognized me on my way out & I stopped to talk. She said she must have given-out 1000 applications during the week.

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Corporations & Government Exist for Us!

September 20, 2010 at 5:53 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Surely you noticed how much better the economy has gotten in the last 15 months.

Happy days are here again! Break out the bubbly!


You haven’t?

Well, neither have I. But the National Bureau of Economic Research, the august body charged with officially declaring when recessions start & stop, has officially declared that our latest recession ended in June 2009. An expansion started in July 2009.

Yes, I know, like you my first inclination was to almost fall out of my chair laughing. But in its report the NBER reminds us that they “…did not conclude that economic conditions since that month have been favorable or that the economy has returned to operating at normal capacity. Rather…the recession ended and a recovery began in that month.” Then they caution that business activity sometimes lags well into an economic expansion.

Sure, I think we all understand that the economy doesn’t instantly return to normal after a downturn. But 15 MONTHS should be more than enough time for the ground to stop falling out from under the feet of the bottom 90% of the country! And out here in the real world, that is the world outside D.C. & NYC, the ground is continuing to fall. Businesses are still closing, houses are still foreclosing, & jobs are still evaporating. And yet the NBER declares we are in a 15 month economic expansion & the politicians will happily grab onto that declaration as an excuse to keep ignoring the disaster they have brought upon the nation. After all, why help the jobless & poor when the rising tide is again lifting all boats?

Well, I think it is obvious that if the measurements show this is an economic expansion then THERE IS SOMETHING VERY WRONG WITH THE MEASUREMENTS! I do not pretend to know how the books are being cooked, do you? I suspect that all those bailouts to banksters & Wall Street con-artists & increased profits for offshoring our jobs is now being falsely measured as rising GDP (Gross Domestic Product). When a large portion, perhaps a majority, of a nation’s citizens can be on the financial ropes but the statistics show things getting better & the experts believe it, then the wrong things are being measured & the experts are fools.

One last thing. I keep hearing the “leaders” & “experts” telling us that we are in a long-term “jobless recovery.” They better keep in mind that for 300 or so million Americans it doesn’t matter how great corporate profits are or how high the Dow average or even how much the GDP grows. If all those things don’t translate into prosperity & a good quality of life for the citizens, then to Hell with the corporations, the government, & the few people who are doing great for themselves. That is why the corporations & government exist in the first place… to bring a good life to our communities!

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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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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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714 Years

June 5, 2010 at 2:59 am (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , )


Only the topsy turvy logic of a Washington D.C. politician could take May’s unemployment numbers as evidence that the economy is getting stronger. When all the hiring versus firing are balanced, the U.S. economy created a net of 431,000 jobs created last month. But 411,000 of them were temporary jobs working for the U.S. Census.

Said Washington politician is one President B.S. Obama who was touring a truck dealership in Maryland this morning. Obama took the opportunity of speechifying in front of the dealership’s 50 employees & cited the report as proof that “we are moving in the right direction.” How did the crowd resist pelting him with their shoes?!

Let us do a quick calculation: Take the “official” number of unemployed of 15,000,000 (the actual number of involuntary jobless is much, much higher. But we will use the official number because it is daunting enough). If we use our handy pocket calculators to divide the 15,000,000 unemployed by the 21,000 jobs created, we find that it will take 714 years to provide jobs for the unemployed. And that says nothing about the jobs that will be needed for the young people and immigrants who continually enter the workforce. But to a delusional, detached, empty suit like Barack Obama we are “moving in the right direction.”

Twenty-five years ago I had a boss who was a thorough, tenacious, argumentative Reagan Republican. One of the crackpot theories he extolled was that Americans not only should be permitted to smoke but should be encouraged to smoke. His reasoning was that more citizens would die sooner and relieve the burdens on society. Hey, maybe Obama needs to think outside the box like that! As it is, he has no noticeable job creation program beyond happy talk, in spite of campaign promises he continues policies that actually encourage American business to ship jobs overseas, and his promise to create oodles of green jobs has not amounted to a hill of beans. Congress balks & stalls every time they have to extend unemployment benefits to all those pesky former workers (it’s a lot less fun than voting for more war money).

So our “leaders” better come-up with a solution, fast. Because hundreds of thousands of temporary Census jobs have helped the unemployment numbers for the past several months. Soon those jobs will end and all those workers will go back into the ranks of the unemployed.

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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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Get Out Of Our House!

March 24, 2010 at 8:44 am (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

The group Get Out Of Our House bills itself as “a non-partisan plan to evict the career politicians from the U.S. House of Representatives. With all my heart I believe the only way to save our nation from further ruin is to unseat our uncaring, unresponsive, elite “rulers” and replace them with sensible, compassionate citizen representatives.

The GOOOH home page video shows a more conservative slant than I support. But I think their overall approach makes sense, so I plan to join and participate. Here is an excerpt from the “learn” section of their website; read it and see what you think:

The GOOOH process allows Americans of every political leaning to participate in the selection of their District’s Representative while being considered themselves. Through GOOOH’s Candidate Selection Sessions you and your peers will select the candidate in your district who best represents your district’s views. Even if you do not wish to become your district’s representative you will want to participate in the process and have a direct say in who is chosen to represent your district. GOOOH will fund a single national campaign to promote the 435 candidates (one from each district) who are selected to run against the party politicians. Because GOOOH is a process for selecting representatives (not a “party”) we expect a person left of center to be selected in San Francisco and one right of center in Colorado Springs — but it will be up to the GOOOH members in each district to decide.

Originally, the founder of GOOOH proposed excluding lawyers, members of political families, and individuals with more than $11.5 million in assets (250 times the median income). They were not to be excluded because they are bad people, but because they are overly represented in government today and, generally speaking, no longer seem to represent the common man. However, based on input from our members, the Question Committee has voted to remove the exclusion of lawyers and the wealthy. Instead, it has been decided that members of these two groups must simply declare that they are a lawyer or have more than $11.5m in assets in each Selection Session in which they participate. It will be up to the participants in each pool to decide whether or not that is of concern. We believe this change is indicative of the continuing evolution of the GOOOH system.

I am completely fed-up with the antics of both political parties. If you are too, then I encourage you to visit the GOOOH website. You’ll find them in a column to your right, under this blog’s “your public servants” links.

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