Elizabeth Warren’s Damages

November 2, 2012

No Patty Hewes

In the long-running series DAMAGES, high-powered attorney Patty Hewes (played by Glenn Close) takes on corporate criminals on behalf of victims of pension fraud and industrial poisoning.  The fictional Hewes & Associates always represents the little guys, never the fat cats.

Elizabeth Warren claims to be on the side of the little guy, too:  “I have been out there fighting to help protect people who have been run over by big corporations”, Warren insists. Except her lengthy list of clients is devoid of plaintiffs, instead comprised entirely of billion-dollar defendants, most who sought to avoid paying asbestos- and other toxic material-related liabilities.  Everyone knows Warren is a bankruptcy expert. Few realize her specialty is helping big corporations hide behind Chapter 11 to evade compensating the people they robbed, poisoned or got killed.

Expert Advice

The latest Warren case to be uncovered is the Dow-Corning breast implant suit, in which Warren states she “served in an advisory capacity to Dow Chemical in the early days of the Dow Coming bankruptcy.”  Dow and Owens-Corning partnered in Dow-Corning (“D-C”) to manufacture and market breast implants beginning in 1962.  In 1994, 240,000 women filed suits claiming a variety of medical problems resulting from silicone leaks.

A tentative $3.75 billion settlement was proposed that year, but a judge, finding that amount grossly insufficient to cover all the claims, ordered the parties to return to negotiations.  Then, in May of 1995, D-C filed for bankruptcy, blocking any new lawsuits and “indefinitely delay[ing] settlement of existing litigation against the company.”

Warren’s “advisory capacity”, it seems, was to counsel Dow to protect its assets behind Chapter 11.  Dow, with around $20 billion in annual revenues and $70 billion in assets, could easily weather that one settlement.  But with more than a million women having received D-C implants over the years, Dow — facing accusations of negligence stemming from its original silicone research — had motivation to put a lid on the matter. A November, 1995 ruling on a D-C implant case, awarding a single plaintiff  $14 million, gave further reason to follow Warren’s advice — sacrifice the child company to protect the parent.  D-C now offered a reduced, final settlement of $2.4 billion, with a cap of $200,000 per claimant and as little as $650 each.

Richard Broude, one of Dow’s attorneys (and frequent Warren collaborator on bankruptcy cases) said at the time, “Dow Corning, like any independent company, is doing what’s best for itself. It doesn’t matter whether it has two shareholders or thousands.”

This bankruptcy-as-firewall ploy was was pioneered by Johns-Manville Corporation in the ‘Eighties to evade asbestos poisoning liabilities.  Warren later worked for the resulting Johns-Mansville Trust.  In addition to the token D-C trust fund, Dow shielded itself with a bit of legal chicanery — D-C would have to win a suit against its parents before it could pay out to the victims.  This same trick was later used by another Warren client, Travelers.


A Snake

Elizabeth Warren claims to defend women’s rights, especially on health issues.  Then why did she help a $70 billion company get away with paying as little as $650 to each woman it poisoned?

In all of her extensive legal work, Warren has only represented big corporations.  Her standard tactic: set up a token trust fund that pays a pittance while shielding corporate assets.  Not once has she fought for the victims.  Nor is there any record of Warren ever doing any pro bono work.

Warren is the worst of hypocrites, a two-faced liar who pretends to be on the side of the common people, but who really works for corporate criminals.  Warren promises that if you send her to Washington, she’ll fight for you.  But we already know she’s a mercenary for the plutocrats.

Do not vote for Elizabeth Warren.  She’s a snake.


h/t Legal Insurrection for its diligent research.

(c) 2012 by True Liberal Nexus.  All rights reserved.

The Labor Pains of Robert Reich

September 4, 2012

Robert Reich is sorely disappointed in obama’s economic proposals, or lack thereof.  So why does Reich still support obama?


Robert Reich isn’t happy with either Mitt Romney or barack obama.  Reich, Secretary of Labor under President Clinton and ardent advocate of leftist ideals no longer embraced by the Left, wants to hear how they’d remedy “the worst economy since the Great Depression.”

“Neither candidate,” Reich laments, “wants to take any chances by offering any large, serious proposals. Both are banking instead on negative campaigns that convince voters the other guy would be worse.”  Reich believes this “anti-election” spells disaster for the next president. “The public won’t have endorsed any new ideas or bold plans, which means he won’t have a clear mandate to do anything on the economy.”


 Desperately Seeking Bold

Reich is especially pained by the lack of “any bold ideas” coming from obama, who Reich endorsed early in the 2008 primaries, and whose stinky jockstrap he’s faithfully carried ever since.  As one of those who still believe obama is just too timid to act on his good intentions, Reich offers a few friendly suggestions to the Democrat’s choice:

  • “Propose a new WPA, modeled after the Depression-era jobs program that hired hundreds of thousands of jobless Americans to rebuild the nation’s infrastructure, or a new Civilian Conservation Corps”
  • Permanently exempt the first $25,000 of income from payroll taxes, and eliminate the income ceiling;
  • Reinstate Glass-Steagall;
  • Break up the big banks, “so Wall Street doesn’t cause another financial collapse.”

C’mon barry, we can do it!


Cognitive Disconnect

It’s frustrating to watch someone as highly intelligent as Reich become so incredibly stupid. Actions speak louder than words, and after 3 1/2 years, it’s obvious that obama has no intention of doing any of those sorts of things. For obama is Wall Street’s bitch.  But that’s obama’s one great gift: he’s a stupid-maker, with the power to turn otherwise sane, rational people into blathering fools.

To date, obama’s economic policy has been very un-Reichian: failed bailouts of failed big banks & failed big auto; a dogged refusal to go after mortgage swindlers or Wall Street brigands; the eager signing of a series of jobs-killing “free trade” treaties; a jobs (sic) bill that contained under-funded, already-failed measures — what union boss Richard Trumka labeled “nibbling around the edge” — sandwiched between gratuitous guttings of Social Security and Medicare.  The economy remains moribund and real unemployment remains stuck at c. 15% — a figure Reich himself cited to justify labeling our current malaise a “depression.”  Most of the ‘new’ jobs created under obama are low wage substitutes for lost high-paying ones.  Half of recent college graduates can’t find employment, while job-seekers over 40 are plain S.O.L. As a result, obama is reduced to speaking about jobs ‘saved’, not created — or promising to be more like a Clinton next term.

Reich, like most Americans, falls for the ‘lesser of two evils’ trap.  When faced with Romney’s promise to bring back the economic policies of the Harding, Coolidge and Hoover administrations, dragging along obama like a petulant child seems the only option.

Were Reich to wrest free from obama the Deceiver’s svengali spell, he’d see that there is indeed someone running for president who proposes just the “big bold ideas” Reich yearns for — Jill Stein.


Got Bold?

Want bold, Bob?  While Romney promises 12 million jobs — eventually — through laissez-faire policies & expansion of fossil fuel production, and obama hints at another million or so jobs ‘saved’, Jill Stein takes the bull by the horns:

“We will end unemployment in America once and for all by guaranteeing a job at a living wage for every American willing and able to work”, Stein proposes, including 16 millions jobs in sustainable energy, retrofitting, and mass transit.

Want aggressive financial reform?  While the obamney twins are mute on the subject, Stein will:

  • Create a federal bank to take over distressed mortgages and either restructure the mortgages or rent homes to the occupants;
  • Nationalize the Federal Reserve;
  • Break up “too big to fail” banks;
  • End future bailouts for financial institutions, instead using FDIC powers to reopen them as non-profit public banks;
  • Regulate all financial derivatives;
  • Reinstate Glass-Steagall.

Hey Bob, want tax justice?  In contrast to obama, who carefully avoided every opportunity to repeal the Bush tax cuts for the rich, or to Romney, who advocates even more tax cuts for the nobility plutocrats “job-creators”, Stein proposes:

  • A 90% tax on bonuses for the bankers Bush and obama bailed-out;
  • Making corporate tax subsidies transparent in public budgets;
  • A fair, progressive tax system “distributed in proportion to ability to pay.”

Finally, in contrast to the imperial war-monger, obama, or Romney, who wants to increase military spending to unprecedented levels, Stein will cut the military budget in half, a $360 billion savings toward reducing the stifling deficit.

Wrong Horse, Bob

Clearly, Robert Reich should endorse Jill Stein for president. Why he, like so many liberals, still clings to the vain hope that obama will change at some point, deserves scrutiny.

Perhaps Reich believes that only someone well-integrated into the political machinery can hope to accomplish anything in Washington.  Hardly a plus-point, when that political machine is comprised exclusively of politician-whores who’ll sell their votes (and their souls, if they had any) to the highest bidder.

Likely, Reich falls for the bogus argument that vast amounts of experience is required to hold office.  Ignoring for a moment how this trope perpetuates the Dem/Gop choke-hold, look at the “experience” of the obamney twins.  The one was a mafia lawyer who wormed his way up the party machine hierarchy; the other, a financier, born to the manor, adept at making gobs of money by clever shuffling around of other people’s money.  When the backgrounds of the occupants of the Oval Office are limited to corruption, graft, and plunder, it’s no wonder the state we’re in.

Finally, Reich may think that third parties have no chance in our elections system.  That’s a tautology — they have no chance because no one gives them a chance. Stein’s name will be printed on at least 33 state ballots this November, and write-ins for her will count in a further three.  Her campaign is currently working to get on every state ballot except Oklahoma.  Were every liberal and moderate to vote this November based on their beliefs, and not some vestigial team loyalty, Jill Stein would be our next president.

And, if prominent, influential liberals like Robert Reich began supporting a candidate like Jill Stein, who advocates true liberal ideals and programs, instead of continuing to make lame excuses for a devious, corrupt, corporatist whore like barack obama, we could end this farce and quick.

(c) 2012 by True Liberal Nexus.  All rights reserved.

Late For Work

September 5, 2011

Vacation season is officially over.  Time to shake the sand out of your beach blankets, throw the clubs in the trunk, and catch the

961 days and still no jobs plan? You're late for work, Mr. President!

last ferry to Wood’s Hole.  Time to get back to work.  AP reports that our Slacker-in-Chief will be spending this Labor Day at an AFL-CIO rally.  Presumedly, this is meant to:

  1. Offer a kiss & make-up session to AFL-CIO head Richard Trumka;
  2. Show obama’s solidarity with ordinary working folk.

The first bullet point is critical, considering all the things Trumka has said about obama lately:

“This is a moment that working people and quite frankly History will judge President Obama on his presidency; will he commit all his energy and focus on bold solutions on the job crisis or will he continue to work with the Tea Party to offer cuts to middle class programs like Social Security ;

“I think he made a strategic mistake when he confused the job crisis with the deficit crisis a number of months ago — when he would talk about job creation and then in the same sentence talk about deficit reduction and people got the two confused;

“I don’t know whether [obama’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness is] making a difference or not…it’s a legitimate question whether that commission has done anything worthwhile.”

Trumka described obama’s job proposals to date as “nibbly things that aren’t going to make a difference,” and warned that “if they don’t have a jobs program I think we’d better use our money doing other things.”

The second action item will be covered by a mellifluous sound bite assuring that Dear Leader “gets” the struggles of us ordinary folk, along with a promise to make lots of promises in that jobs speech that’s been promised for a month now.

Does anyone else detect a certain lack of urgency here?  Ignoring the PR faux pas of not delivering The Big Jobs Speech at least by Labor Day,  what can we surmise about a president who, facing the worst employment figures in decades, (1,579 mass layoffs in July alone, totaling 145,000 workers) waits until Day 961 of his term to offer a proposal?

That barack obama does not actually give a rat’s ass about the “struggles of ordinary folk,” that’s what.

  • barack obama doesn’t care about my friend who called me this Labor Day weekend to tell me they’re losing their house.  After working for years as the CFO of a small manufacturer, that company went belly-up.  The only job they could find, bookkeeping, doesn’t pay enough to keep up on the mortgage;
  • He doesn’t care about my sister, scrounging for work after years of dedicated service as the E.D. of a large charity.  When the donations dried up (a serious problem for most non-profits, and a hidden cost of this not-officially-a-recession), the charity shut its doors;
  • He doesn’t care about the two young people I met this Summer, who despite having good degrees from good colleges, have zero prospects on the horizen for gainful, full-time employment;
  • He certainly doesn’t care about either me or my new client.  Me, desperate for some new business, I find someone who, after watching me ride their horse, wants to put it in training.  But they can’t, because their hours were just cut in half, and may be laid off soon.

How could barack obama, and his poncy wife, Mechelle Antoinette, relate to ordinary folk when they’ve coasted their entire adult life, and spend the past three years living like royalty on the people’s tab?   Barry’s own work history is a bit dubious:

Barry Barack Hussein Dunham Obama Soetero Soebarkah II

(Alleged) Curriculum Vitae 

  • 1975 or 1976 — ice cream scooper, Baskin-Robbins — Honolulu
  • Date unknown — deli counter clerk, business name unknown — Honolulu
  • 1980 — gift shop sales clerk, business name unknown — Honolulu
  • Sometime between 1981-1983 — construction worker, business name unknown — New York; (yeah, right)
  • Sometime between 1981-1983 — position unknown, company unknown — New York
  • Sometime between 1981-1983 — telemarketer, company unknown — New York
  • 1983-84 — data entry clerk, BIC — New York
  • 1985 — project coordinator, NYPIRG — New York
  • 1985-1988 — community organizer — Chicago; whatever the fuck that entails
  • 1992 – Project Vote, Chicago; registered voters
  • 1993-2004 — associate, Davis, Miner, Barnhill & Galland — Chicago; one litigation, handled Tony Rezko’s financial affairs
  • 1993-2004 — part-time lecturer, University of Chicago Law School — Chicago; no lectures given
  • 1997-2004 — state senator, Illinois; 129 ‘present’ votes, no legislation 
  • 2005-2008 — U.S. Senator; no legislation, no committee meetings
  • 2009 – present — President, United States — Washington; jack shit accomplished

So why should anyone in America care what this loafer has to say in his Jobs Speech?  His record of inaction, failure, and broken promises leaves him a sad joke without a shred of credibility.  Sure, a dwindling cadre of obots, like cargo cultists scanning the skies for the return of John Frum, faithfully await the day their Messiah will finally reward them with acts of wonder and majesty.  But they can forget about the promises of “green jobs” ever being fulfilled, as barry just yesterday caved to corporate interests and killed a clean air measure.

And that leaves us with…

… Rick Perry, who’ll no doubt have a photo op at some Texas factory, claiming that  ‘Every Day is Labor Day in Texas.’  When that really should be, ‘every job in Texas is a shitty job.’   Because, sadly, Perry’s “jobs miracle” (sic) was a momentary blip fueled by new jobs at or below minimum wage.  Texas can now proudly share with Mississippi the title of “State with the most low-paying jobs per capita.”

Looking at it from another perspective, over the past decade, a million Texans have merely been compelled to trade in their old, good careers for new positions at Wal*Mart and Pollo Loco.  And now unemployment there is creeping up again, while Perry has gutted schools, social services, and infrastructure — all the things “struggling ordinary folk” working one of Perry’s shit-ass miracle jobs might need.

Helping the likes of Perry get elected will be the likes of Michelle Malkin, who dedicated this Labor Day to slandering trade unions, with a list of Top 10 Union Thug Moments (no, I will not link).

I find a list of the Top Ten CEO Killers of Jobs more appropriate:

  1. Jack “Neutron Bomb” Welch, GE, 100,000
  2. Fritz Henderson, GM, 100,000
  3. Vikram Pandit, Citigroup, 75,000
  4. Lou Gerstner, IBM, 60,000
  5. Ken Lewis, Bank of Fucking America, 35,000
  6. Jeff “Job Czar” Immelt, GE, 34,000
  7. Mark Hurd, HP, 33,600 (including 24,000 in one day)
  8. Carly Fiorina, HP, 30,000 (not HP again!)
  9. James Owens, Caterpillar, 27,500
  10. Ivan Seidenberg, Verizon, 21,000

With at least a lifetime achievement award going to “Chainsaw Al” Dunlap.

Alternately, Malkin could have listed the Top 10 Mass Layoffs of 2011:

  1. Merck 13,000
  2. Borders 10,700
  3. Cisco 6,500
  4. Lockheed Martin 6,500
  5. Pfizer 5,530
  6. Blackberry 2,000
  7. Delta Airlines 2,000
  8. Boston Scientific 1,400
  9. Sears 700
  10. Gannett 700

We’ll leave Goldman Sachs 1,000, off the list, as that’s poetic justice.

Malkin has no use for unions, or ordinary folk for that matter, having never put in a single day of honest, hard work in her life:

Michelle Malkin

Curriculum Vitae

  • 1992-1994 — Cub reporter for Los Angeles Daily News
  • 1995 —  Intern at libertarian think tank Competitive Enterprise Institute
  • 1996 — Free-lance columnist, Seattle Times
  • 2002 — present —  Book author
  • 2004- 2009 —  Commentator, FOX News
  • 2007- present  —  Blogger

Malkin could use some broader experience to pad out her resume.  Maybe she could move to Texas for a year to work at a Wal*Mart or a Pollo Loco.

Like Malkin, neither barack obama nor Rick Perry understand what it’s like to be an ordinary folk struggling to keep a job, struggling to find a job, struggling to survive on the low pay of a crappy job.  We ought to help them understand.  Both barry and Rick have performed miserably in their current positions.  Yet Rick is asking us to give him barry’s job, while barry wants us to re-up him for another four years.  Here’s how we should respond:

Hi, Rick?  Don’t call us: we’ll call you.

Hello, barry? — you’re fired!

If ever there was a time to hang a “Help Wanted” sign, it’s now.  To fill our open position, we need to recruit someone who’s hardworking and has a proven track record in high government positions.  They need to be intelligent, confident, and exhibit exceptional leadership qualities.  They must be ready to hit the ground running and assume the full responsibilities of the job on Day One.

It’s a hard job, even more so as the previous employee made a total mess of things.  It may be a tough sell to convince the right person, but we need to make an offer they can’t refuse.

If you know of anyone who fits this description, let them know the job is theirs for the taking.
Read the rest of this entry »

How to Fix the American Economy in Nine Simple Steps

July 4, 2011

 – by ‘tamerlane’

Get off the Pot

It’s going on eleven years since the American economy last didn’t suck. Bush spent eight years

F.P.O. Insert kitchy patriotic image here.

trashing it; barry’s spent another 2 1/2 years fiddling while Rome burns. In desperation, the American people are open to anyone offering a solution, however drastic.

From the Right, Rep. Paul Ryan offered a suitably draconion budget with cuts to the bone across the board, but especially on social services. From the lunatic fringe, Rep. Ron Paul suggested the federal government declare bankruptcy. The moderate republican obama administration, they of the “transformative change” — have been content with a few tweaks — a bailout here, a quantitative easing there, with a smokescreen of serious speeches pledging to seriously do something serious one of these days. From the left have come no comprehensive plans, only shrill warnings not to touch Medicare or Social Security.

Such “plans” are drivel.  Most are just fiddling with the knobs on a broken machine. Proposals like Ryan’s are on par with the medieval surgeon’s bleeding of the patient to dispel bad humours. We sent these people to Washington to get things done, specifically to fix the economy. Since they refuse to piss, it’s time for them to get off the pot. Time for the common folks to take charge.

A Simple Plan

Once you identify the real problem, great or small, the solution turns out to be fairly simple.  While the baboons in Washington sit around scratching their monkey butts, this ordinary American citizen decided to work out a real plan.  You may reject it on principle, or quibble with its details. But it’s comprehensive, is strengthened by synergies, is straightforward, and it’s bold.

Right now, we need bold. The patient that is the American economy has flat-lined, the EMTs need to crank up the defibrillator and quick. In contrast, the prescriptions coming from Washington are about as useful to our patient as “get more exercise” or “try to cut fats from your diet.”

Most of all, I’m convinced my plan will work.

1) “First Thing We Do, Let’s Kill All The Economists”

For the past 30 years, our nation’s economy has suffered the ministrations of members of a bizarre religious cult known as “Economics.” Many splinter sects of this cult exist, each decrying the others as heresies. But all the cults of economics share one trait — they don’t work. All economics is voodoo. Astrology. Tarot reading.

Some sects are not as bad as others, but none have anything at all to do with the real world, and consequently, none have any predictive powers whatsoever. The great scientific thinker, E.O. Wilson, who considers economics “folk psychology” and “mostly irrelevant”, notes that it

“… cannot answer definitely most of the key macro-economic questions that concern society…. The world economy is a ship speeding through uncharted waters strewn with dangerous shoals. There is no general agreement on how it works. The esteem that economists enjoy arises not so much from their record of successes as from the fact that business and government have nowhere else to turn.”

Since Reagan, the United States has fallen victim to the most deluded and destructive sect of the cult, “Libertarian/Anarchist” economics. Known variously as the “Chicago School” or “Austrian School”, its witch doctors included Milton Friedman and Alan Greenspan, both former acolytes of that psychotic priestess of greed, Ayn Rand.

Thanks to their gris-gris, the once mighty bodybuilder of American industry has been transformed into an emaciated heroin junkie. Admittedly, some modern economists, realizing that (again, from Wilson)

“[s]eldom are the premises of [economic] models examines closely. Seldom are their conclusions tested to any depth with quantitative field data. Their appeal is in the chrome and roar of the engine, not the velocity or destination”

are earnestly trying to take a more scientific approach that offers real predictive power.

Ultimately, though, all economists make the same fundamental error of placing the cart before the horse. They tweak our society to fix the economy, when it should be the other way around.

‘But tamerlane,’ you’re surely saying, ‘is it really necessary to actually kill them?’  It sure would be fun, and, one might argue, deserved. But no, all we need to do is ignore whatever they say. That’ll be hard at first, because, like the fortune tellers they are, economists lure us with vague prognostications of the tall, dark stranger we’ll meet in the next quarter with half a million new jobs, or the exotic destination we’ll visit, where housing starts are up 11%.

In place of such gibberish, we’ll rely instead on our own common sense:

  1. Where do we want to go?
  2. What’ll get us there?
  3. Do that, and to hell with the rest.

2) Put Most Bankers in Chains; Put a Leash on the Rest

There’s a colony of parasites lviing in the bowels of our nation’s economy. These parasites produce nothing, provide no real services, yet makes obscene mountains of money just by shuffling around other people’s money. They’re called the financial “industry”, and they need a smack-down.
First off, the up & downs of the stock market are essentially meaningless. Unlike the current Washington baboons who fixate on Wall Street, we’re gonna ignore it. Sure, the stock market is essential in providing investment money for business. But mostly it’s just a pack of gamblers who bet on the success of other people’s businesses. Many now bet on the success or failure of the other broker’s bets. Heck, we’d do no worse aligning our economy to a Vegas sports book.

We’ll let the gamblers play, and even get rich now and again. There will, however, be strict regulations and oversight to prevent the abuses so prevalent on Wall Street that damage our economy. I know what you’re thinking, but that’s how other countries with healthier economies handle things, so put a sock in it. We’ll also be throwing into jail anyone who engages in things like predatory lending. Long sentences. In nasty, rat-infested jails. Filled with mother rapers and father rapers.

3) Create Jobs (Duh)

Every politician chants the same mantra: “Jobs, Jobs, Jobs!” By which they mean, ‘in this economy, you’re gonna need three jobs to make ends meet.’ These baboons do nothing tangible to create a base that’d generate real job growth, yet upon the latest report of 100,000 McJobs, they preen like a toddler proudly displaying their first potty.

It’s stupid to promise jobs to people if there’s nothing for them to do. Since we’re not stupid like, say, an economist or a politician, we’ll move right along to the things that’ll create not thousands, but millions, of jobs, and damn good ones, too.

4) Resurrect American Industry

I say “resurrect’ because, let’s face it: we spent the past 30 years intentionally killing off the largest industrial base the World had ever known. The economists clamored for the “World Economy”, then the corporate tapeworms shipped everything off to other parts of the world, mostly China. Now, everyone in Washington says we’ve got to “get competitive” to win back the jobs and manufacturing we so recklessly gave away. But in the Brave New World Economy, “competitive” means working 14-hour shifts for 59¢ an hour without bennies, in dangerous, polluting factories churning out shoddy crap that breaks.

This brew the economist witch doctors cooked up has been great for the world, and great for about 2% of Americans. But it’s sucked big time for the other 98% of us. So guess what, people — “World Economy” has just been cancelled.

There are a few American manufacturers clinging to life, But We’re gonna have to pretty much rebuild a manufacturing base from scratch. Our solution will be bold and it will be broad. The Federal government will:

  1. Invest properly in R&D, the way nations with strong economies — Japan, China, Germany — do;
  2. Kill the sham R&D subsidies (corporate welfare, really) to industries like mega-agriculture and fossil fuels;
  3. Undertake large-scale infrastructure projects that require heaps of both manpower and stuff made in America;
  4. Provide concrete assistance — not just lip service — to innovative & small business start-ups in the forms of loans, support programs, contracts, and tax incentives;
  5. Levy tariffs on foreign imports equaling the cost savings those countries enjoy from exploiting their workers and destroying the environment. The stuff we still make is already of better quality, but now we’re talking honest “competitiveness”!
  6. Close the loopholes in the corporate tax code that allow nominally “international” corporations to enjoy all the advantages of doing business in the US., while shielding their assets abroad from US taxes.

5) Get Cracking on That Green Economy, Already!

To win the latte liberal vote, obama made sweeping promises to create a “Green Economy” that would at once revitalize our economy while saving the environment. Like any good compulsive liar, once elected, barry did squat to fulfill his promise.

Yet the concept is still a sound one. It offers the best hope, in fact, to cure a host of ills. To make any real impact, though, the creation of our Green Economy has to be implemented on a massive, national scale. It’ll be like a 21st century version of the Tennessee Valley Authority, but on steroids.

Like the TVA and its hydro-electric power, our Green Economy will rely on already existing energy technologies. Also like the TVA, Federal underwriting will break the logjam by providing the capital investment the insipid “free market” is unable to muster.

The various elements will range in scale from private households to large power plants:

  1. Provide seed money and investment for large solar-mirror turbines and next-generation wind turbines that truly are “shovel ready”;
  2. Support and expand the military’s initiative toward becoming 50% self-sufficient from renewable energy by 2020;
  3. Rescue the few remaining domestic renewables makers by placing orders for solar panels atop the roof of every federal building in the nation. The resulting economies of scale will make renewable energy affordable for everyone;
  4. Make a “Solar Mortgage” available to every household and business in America. This is a simple yet brilliant idea already being implemented by private local vendors to remove the roadblock of prohibitive initial costs of these systems. Any participating household or business will have a renewable (usually PV panel) system installed that meets their energy needs. The Federal program will pick up the tab. The participant then makes a monthly “mortgage” payment equal to their average monthly utility bill. The term of the mortgage is flexible & based on that payment. Like a bank does with a house, the government covers the upfront cost, then gets paid back over time with interest. As the Solar Mortgage Program would only contract from American vendors, and employ American workers, it helps meet several goals of our overall plan.

Many other innovative programs will be part of the Green Economy initiave. All of them represent an investment in our industry, and our future. The advantages of going green vs. buying fossil fuels — either abroad or at home, is the same as paying a mortgage on a house you own vs. giving rent to someone else.

6) Make-Work Projects

When the previous great depression hit America, Hoover sat idly while millions suffered, waiting for “the market” to eventually sort things out. FDR actually did something — he created jobs through programs like the WPA and CCC. The suffering was ameliorated, while the workers’ paychecks helped spur more economic growth. And some very useful things got built, too — roads, bridges, national parks.

Today, our nation is falling apart at the seams. Our transportation network is crumbling, our large cities rotting. Out West, forests overgrown with brush lead to devastating mega-fires. Let’s tackle all these problems, and more. We’ll employ people — the young, those undesirable 40- & 50-somethings — who’d have no other hope of getting a job. Their paychecks will create other jobs, and we’ll fix up our nation in the process. Yes, this is government fiddling with “the market.” No, this may not force people to “take personal responsibility.” Yes, this is “socialism.” But guess what — Socialism Works.

7) Take Back Jobs Given to Foreigners

The tariffs in #4 above will reverse the ruinous practice of outsourcing jobs. Yet even at home, jobs that should go to Americans are instead taken by foreigners.

  1. Crack Down on Unfair Work Visa Practices — When not shipping jobs oversees, corporate tapeworms import ever-increasing numbers of foreign workers to the US. Arriving on work visas intended only for when a company can’t find a qualified American applicant, these foreign employees are willing to work killer hours for less pay than Americans. Not only do the tapeworms reap the direct payroll savings, the presence of the foreigners allow them to squeeze their American employees on wages and benefits. This practice is not only bogus, it’s unethical and un-American. Under our common sense plan, the INS will be directed to implement a new policy that only issues work visas in the rare instances when truly no suitable American worker can be found. Any corporate tapeworm caught trying to get around this policy will find themselves sharing a cell in that nasty jail mentioned above.
  2. Stop Illegal, & Curb Legal, Immigration — This may be too controversial for some, but it’s worth putting on the table. Fact: There are as many as 30 million illegal immigrants in this country; Fact: That represents 10% of the population; Fact: Unemployment is around 10% OK, it may not be that simple. But let’s dispense once and for all with the canard ‘illegals are willing to take jobs that Americans don’t want.’ No, illegals are willing to work for wages that Americans won’t accept.

The Saga of the Georgia Peaches highlights our muddled thinking on this subject. Following the passage of a strict anti-illegal worker law in Georgia, peach-growers suddenly found themselves at harvest time without their usual work force of illegals. ‘See why stopping illegal immigration is a bad idea,’ they all sung, ‘now y’all are gonna have to pay more for peaches at the supermarket!’  Ignoring for a moment that all these growers had been committing a federal offense, the sky isn’t really falling.

They’ll just have to buck up and hire Americans, pay them (at least) minimum wage, and pass the cost onto us. Yeah, the price of peaches will jump to $6 a pound, but we’ve been paying the real cost all along, only not at the checkout counter. And what we’ll get for that $6 is nothing to sneeze at: unemployment in Georgia goes down, bigger paychecks spread the wealth around, and the State’s social services will be relieved of the departed illegal workers. If that all seems too draconian to you, then pass a goddamn bill naturalizing the illegals who are currently dragging down wages.

8) Kill the Minimum Wage; Institute a Minimum Income

We Americans take strange pride in our byzantine approach to regulations. We have a federal minimum wage, but individual states have their own minimum wages, sometimes special minimum wages for teenagers or part-time workers. One teensy-weensy flaw in our system is that even the federal minimum wage is not a living wage — for anyone not living on their sister’s couch, it leaves you about $6,000 p/a short of what you need to survive.

Just raising the figure isn’t sufficient, so long as there are corporate slaveholders like Walmart who make everyone “casual” employees. Even when the baboons in Washington rouse themselves to belatedly raise the minimum wage, they stupidly enter a fixed figure in the bill, which quickly falls behind inflation. Under our plan, we will create a minimum wage law that sets the wage as a variable linked to inflation, price indexes, etc. Presto! No need to ever pass another bill!

Going further, we’ll establish a Minimum Income (“M.I.”), also a variable linked to indicators. This will be the minimum amount of money a person/household needs to survive. Can’t find a full-time job? No problem! The government will cover the gap between your wages and the M.I. Oh, we’ll also be assigning you to a job, maybe something you’re skilled at, but also maybe sweeping streets or in the kitchen of a retirement home. We’ll also train you for some steady job. Once the M.I. program is in place, we can terminate the various welfare and workfare programs that are so costly and utterly worthless.

9) Damn the Deficit – Full Speed Ahead!

Yo! All you babbling baboons in Washington — sit down, shut up, and pay attention: The federal deficit is not the problem; it’s but a symptom of the problem. Stop trying to fix the deficit — sucking on cough drops won’t cure pneumonia. If you fix the core problem, then the deficit will eventually go away on its own.

Those politicians most eager to cut the federal budget also usually urge that the government “be run more like a business.” I agree. A business in trouble can either react by cutting things like promotion, shutting plants, and laying off workers. Those ones almost always end up closed. Other business respond by taking out loans and expanding operations. They bravely invest, in anticipation of an eventual Return on Investment. These are businesses that usually persevere. Let’s apply this winning business strategy to our nation’s current woes:

Problem: Expenditures are up.
Solution: Cut non-essential costs. The only area where sizable savings can be realized is the military. We operate several wars in branch locations that have yielded zero ROI. We should shut down these operations ASAP, and assign the employees to other departments. There’s also some room to cut our Medicare line of products, but it’s very popular with our customers. All other potential savings combined are relatively minor. Social Security is a wholly self-funded subsidiary which actually extends loans to other departments. Shutting it down it would be counter-productive.

Problem: Revenues are down.
Solution: We have two remedies available to us. First, we should increase taxes — or more accurately, return to previous levels on the upper tax bracket. Earlier reductions of this income stream account for nearly all our current shortfalls. Second, we can take out a loan to cover the difference. Fortunately, as we ourselves print money, we can do this as needed.

Problem: Our plant operations are inadequate.
Solution: The previous management foolishly shut down profitable factories and branches. We need to reverse that by investing in new factories, new markets, and hire the necessary employees. We’ll print some money to cover the start-up costs, but are confident that the ROI will begin to be realized early, and will eventually be significant.

A Simple Plan?

‘Can it really be that simple?’ you ask. My plan is a good one, or at least a good starting point for a serious discussion. But simple and easy are not the same. Too many people with power & influence have too much personally to lose. They’ll make it hard to implement this simple plan.

The question then is, do we let them keep that power, and let them continue destroying our economy and our nation? Or do we wrest that power away, and do what needs to be done to save our country?

(c) 2011 by True Liberal Nexus. All rights reserved.

Time For an Air Strike

March 7, 2011

Who's afraid of a 39-year old plane? We are.

For the second day, rebels seeking to overthrow beleaguered Libyan dictator, Muammar Gaddafi, were hit by a devastating attack by war planes.

While much of the country is in rebel hands, Gaddafi continues to hold out in the capital, Tripoli.  The rank-and-file of the Libyan army have largely gone over to the rebels, as have most of Libya’s senior diplomatic corps and several key ministers.  Despite a few defections, the Libyan air Force, composed mainly of foreign mercenaries and members of Ghadafi’s local tribe, remains loyal to the dictator.

With the rebels unable to press their initial gains, and now subject to withering counter-attacks supported by Gaddafi’s air force, the situation in Libya threatens to deteriorate into a bloody & protracted civil war with uncertain outcome.

All Quiet on the Western Front

The West’s leaders have largely turned a deaf ear to appeals to intervene diplomatically and militarily.  Only Great Britain, led by the tireless efforts of PM David Cameron, seems eager to take bold action.  Last week, Britain made (a botched) attempt to establish diplomatic contact with the rebel leadership, as an overture to likely recognition of the rebels as the legitimate government.  It was recently revealed that Britain’s crack Black Watch Battalion had been placed on 24 hours’ readiness to deploy to North Africa.

For over a week, Cameron has attempted in vain to spur the West into action.   In Washington, the obama administration is displaying its trademark aversion to decisive foreign policy.  France and Italy insist any action be sanctioned by NATO, while NATO insists any action be sanctioned by the UN.  Russia and China promise to veto any UN involvement.

Cameron is right.  The time to take forceful, military action in Libya is now.  Humanitarian concerns aside, and the lofty ideal (call it crazy) of democracies supporting democratic movements, immediate intervention in Libya makes sense for several pragmatic, selfish reasons:

  • Usher in an orderly transition from Gaddafi to a pro-Western government already forming in Benghazi;
  • Avert the co-opting of the rebellion by radical elements and the establishing of an anti-western regime in Libya;
  • Prevent the recently-raided stockpiles of shoulder-launched, surface-to-air missiles from getting into the hands of terrorists;
  • Avoid general destabilization in the region;
  • Send a clear message to other regimes in in the region facing local pro-democracy movements, hopefully avoiding bloodshed and encouraging peaceful reforms.

While this week’s emergency EU summit may produce a consensus to act, Cameron and Britain may need to take unilateral action to break the logjam of reluctance and cowardice among the West’s leaders.

90,000 Tons of Diplomacy

As President Clinton once noted, “When word of a crisis breaks out in Washington, it’s no accident that the first question that comes to everyone’s lips is: ‘Where’s the nearest carrier?'”

For decades, the United States possessed the unparalleled ability to project its influence around the Globe via its numerous and powerful aircraft carriers. The answer, during this present crisis, as to the location of our carriers is:  ‘otherwise engaged.’   Of the 11 fleet carriers in active service, 4 are in port undergoing maintenance or awaiting decommissioning, 1 is on stand-by, 2 are in the Western Pacific taunting North Korea, with the remainder committed to constant rotation through the Persian Gulf supporting President Bush’ obama’s wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Because of our entanglement in Iraq and Afghanistan, for the first time in nearly half a century the US fleet in the Mediterranean has no carrier attached.  In late February, the 50-year old USS Enterprise, which had just sailed through the Suez Canal to augment the forces in the Persian Gulf (The USS Abraham Lincoln having just been dispatched from there to the Pacific), did a 180º and steamed back to the Med to meet the Libyan crisis.

Obama’s Prime Directive

If only this Enterprise had a captain as brash and disobedient as its science fiction namesake!  As it stands, obama’s Prime Directive, of never acting internationally if it might possibly hurt his Approvals at home, remains inviolate.

Thus far the Obama team has given the impression of being too often behind the curve on events in the Middle East, both in anticipating the revolutions and in responding to them….   At some point soon, the administration will need to shift from merely reactive mode into asserting more leadership and setting the agenda.

As bad as obama’s foot-dragging during the Egyptian crisis was, the administration’s stubborn, almost petulant refusal to budge in response to the rapidly escalating and far more volatile Libyan crisis is inexcusable, bordering on criminally negligent.

Following reasonable suggestions by observers — and impassioned pleas from the rebels — to impose a no-fly zone over Libya, Defense Secretary Robert Gates dismissed the idea as “loose talk” and condescendingly sneered that a “no-fly zone begins with an attack on Libya to destroy the air defenses.”  The commander of US CENTCOM obligingly added, “It wouldn’t simply be telling people not to fly airplanes.”  Gates went on to claim that it would require more airplanes than available from a single carrier.

Gates’ comments are fatuous.  Not only are the military assets already on hand sufficient for the US to unilaterally impose a no-fly zone over Libya, it would be almost child’s play for us to do so.

Piece of Cake

If you accept the word of the obama administration and its lackeys in the MSM, the Libyan air force is a potent threat with sharp, pointy teeth that would maul American air power.  The MSM glibly tosses out figures of 200-250 fighter planes at Gaddafi’s disposal, and points to the ominous threat of hundreds of surface-to-air missiles.

A brief review of expert sources, however, reveals a starkly different picture of the Libyan air force.

Fighter Planes

Of the alleged 200-250 front-line fighters, no more than 70 are actually airworthy:

–  1 Mirage F1 (down from two following a pilot defecting to Malta)

–  30-50  MiG 23

–  21 of the antiquated MiG 21

As well as:

– 39 Su-22 fighter-bombers

– 3  Su-24 fighter-bombers

The pilots and ground crew are mostly foreign mercenaries, neither poorly nor superbly trained.  The aircraft themselves date from the nineteen-seventies and -eighties.  While ammunition is abundant, maintenance is known to have been spotty over the years, with spare parts scarce.  Most of Gaddafi’s planes simply can’t get off the ground.

To face these 50+ front-line fighters, the US already has the 48 F-18 Hornets aboard the Enterprise: three squadrons of the new “Super-Hornet” air superiority fighter, carrying sophisticated tracking and guidance systems for their many onboard missiles, and one squadron of Marines specially-trained in dogfighting.   Contrary to Secretary Gates’ low opinion of them, in a straight-up battle, the Enterprise’s Hornets would make mincemeat out of the Libyans.

(Gates perhaps also neglected to consider the 175 aircraft of all types in service with the US Sixth Fleet based in Naples, or any the USAF assets in Europe and the mid-East.)

Surface-to-Air Missiles

Of legitimate concern are the 88 long-range and 53 short-range anti-aircraft missiles in Gaddafi’s arsenal, all Soviet-made.    But here, too, the obama administration is grossly overstating the threat.   The location of every static Libyan missile battery is clearly known and easily targeted.  As was done over Iraq and Serbia, AWACS tracking planes could detect the instant a missile battery attempted to get a radar lock on one of our aircraft, and F-117 “Stealth” fighters (or possibly the brand-new F-22s in their first combat action) would obliterate each battery in succession.

Most experts consider the Libyan air defenses highly vulnerable: “Advances in electronic warfare and [Electronic Counter-Measures] have made many of the older Soviet-era SAM systems obsolete in a modern air combat environment. Libya’s … systems are no exception.”

One former Air Force chief of staff equates the Libyan missile defense to that of Serbia’s, which was completely neutralized with the loss of but a single plane.  With Libya, this former Air Force official envisions a scenario similar to the no-fly zone imposed over Iraq in 1991:  “Every time the Iraqis turned on a radar, we hosed them.”

AWACS are already monitoring Libya, while long-range stealth fighters are capable of reaching Libya from their bases in the US.  Imposing a No-Fly zone long-term would require additional, land-based combat aircraft, operating either from Europe or out of bases currently at our disposal in Oman, Tunisia, Qatar and Egypt.

Attack Helicopters

By far the greatest threat to the Libyan rebels are the numerous ground-attack aircraft, primarily helicopters, in Gaddafi’s air force.  These include about 38 of the devastating Mi-24 “Hind” heavy gunships, 14 medium attack helicopters, and numerous lighter aircraft that could be pressed into the ground attack role.  (As with the jets, chronically poor maintenance likely means only limited numbers of these aircraft are actually flyable.)  Once air superiority is achieved over Libya, these helicopters can be quickly neutralized, most simply by destroying them on the ground and their airbases along with them.

As noted above, complete and swift victory over Gaddafi’s air power is achievable by just the US assets already on-hand.  Add the potent Italian Aeronautica Militare, with two major bases just 300 miles away on Sicily, the French Armée de l’Air, and the RAF flying from Crete, and it’s obvious that total eradication of Gaddafi’s air power within 48-72 hours would be a piece of cake.

And, without his air force, Gaddafi cannot hold out.  As Der Spiegel notes:

Although a large part of Libya’s army has defected and joined the rebel forces, its air force appears to have remained almost completely loyal to Moammar Gadhafi. Indeed, it is one of the main factors still propping up the regime and the most serious threat to the insurgents who control the eastern part of the country.

Making the World Safe for Hypocrisy

Quite frankly, the West’s reluctance to aid the Libyan rebels in their struggle for freedom is despicable, especially considering how eagerly we sullied ourselves in a deal with Gaddafi a few years back, when he promised support against al Quaeda (with a little sweet crude thrown in to sweeten the deal) in exchange for us forgetting his own active role in international terrorism.

On the whole, the Western democracies’ record on promoting democracy around the world is embarrassing.  The USA has little to be proud of:

  • In 1918, the United States took sides in the war in Europe, ostensibly to “make the world safe for democracy”, but really to make the shipping lanes to England safe for American capitalism;
  • In Vietnam, the US was willing to lose 40,000 killed to prop up a corrupt regime and ostensibly save the Vietnamese from the perils of communism;
  • Reagan zealously crushed 700 Cuban construction workers on tiny Grenada who were threatening future malpractice cases, but bugged out of Lebanon, where a US presence could have actually fostered peace;
  • Papa Bush didn’t hesitate to depose a minor tyrant in central America, but carefully preserved the genocidal Hussein sitting atop vast oil reserves;
  • We’ve spent the better part of the past decade mired in Operation Iraqi Freedom, which should really have been named Operation Halliburton Profit;
  • The most obama could muster in support of the Egyptian revolution was a severe tongue-lashing of Hosni Mubarak.

And now, the United States, with by far the most powerful military in the world, is claiming utter impotency to grant the appeal of a popular but outgunned freedom movement to take out the rotting air force of a fading tyrant.

Strike Now

The president and the Secretary of Defense have intentionally misrepresented the situation, by belittling our military capability while grossly over-inflating that of Gaddafi.  Why?  Because, when the interests and profits of capitalists are concerned, we are more than ready to spend copious money, effort and blood.  But when freedom, democracy and human rights are in the balance, we can’t be bothered to lift a finger.

It’s time for an air strike on Gaddafi.  Time to blow his pathetic little air force to smithereens and send him to hell.  Time to atone for our sins all these years.  Time to put our planes where our mouths are, time to use the power we possess to support the ideals we allegedly espouse.  If we do not, we should rightly be deemed a pariah among the nations of the world.

(c) 2011 by ‘tamerlane.’  All rights reserved.

Poor, Poor Rich Folks

September 24, 2010


Allow me to introduce myself. I am Todd, comte du Henderson, and I am trés riches.  But, even though my family earns $400,000, which is eight times more than the average peasant family, (we are at least eight times better than you, of course), we can barely make ends meet.  Nous sommes pauvre!  That’s because the jacobins in the IRS take a criminal 35% of the last $26,350 of our paltry wealth.

I am a law professor, and my wife is a doctor, so you can be assured that we are kind-hearted people with the best interests of you, the peasantry, in mind.  But soon we will be forced to live in some dirty hovel, and eat sewer rats, as you do, because the Socialists in Paris, I mean Washington, are robbing us blind.

Why, for example, must my family finance the government with 1/4 of our earnings?  It’s not like the government does anything for us.  We probably should hire one of those fancy accountants to help us evade taxes, but we can’t afford one.  Marie says we just drank the last d’Yquem and she’s scrounging for loose change in the couch. Those atheist revolutionaries also penalize us for having married and started a family.  How else is overpopulation going to progress if two people are not given tax breaks for having three children?  Talk about perverse!

After paying for a government we don’t use, our next biggest expense, like most white people, is our mortgage.  In the exclusive neighborhood we live in, houses aren’t cheap.  Is it really fair to penalize us for wanting to live far from the rabble?  We pay $15,000 in property taxes. Mon dieu! — that’s nearly what a peasant earns in an entire year!  Half of that goes toward paying for peasant children to attend public schools.  Since we want our own scions to be prepared to one day assume their rightful role among the nobility, we send them to expensive private schools where they can associate with their peers.

Honestly, I have no idea where the remaining $285,000 goes!  We live a practically spartan lifestyle (thankfully, basic cable has FOX), with only a few hundred dollars per month to spare.   We could fire the servants, I suppose, and stop taking the babysitter out to Ruths Chris.  Or maybe cut Fifi’s art classes.  This is scary — we’re this far from losing our house and living in a trailer park with … peasants.  And then what will happen to the entrepreneurs we employ and the “new arrivals” (wink, wink, nudge, nudge) they employ in turn?  Surely they prefer working for a noble house like the duHendersons, than having some government protecting their interests!

The bigger question, though, is, by what right does the government collect any taxes at all, then fritter it away recklessly?  My family certainly can make wiser spending decisions.  In fact, I’m not sure why we even have a government.

So, mes amis, s’il vous plait, take pity on us poor rich folks.

(c) 2010 by ‘tamerlane.’  All rights reserved.

Love of Labor

September 5, 2010

When you’re on the phone this weekend, talking to tech support in India about your product made in China, try to remember that it’s Labor  Day in America.  The holiday was originally intended to honor the men and women (and, sadly, the children) who labored so hard to build this nation.  Now The Day of the Laborers is just another 3-day weekend, the semi-official End of Summer.  Like the Ramadan cocktail parties in Brave New World, we tend to drain our commemorations of any real significance.

In addition to your last beach visit and your last BBQ, Labor Day will allow you to shop some AMAZING THREE-DAY SALES, with BLOW-OUT PRICES on crap made by Chinese laborers.  Your grille and your beach umbrella come from there, too.

But Labor Day is fun.  The only people who hate Labor Day are conservatives.  For them, Labor = Communism.  They can view society only in Ayn Rand’s false dichotomy of Karl Marx vs. John Galt, of collectivized industry vs. robber-baron capitalism.  Yet there is a middle way, where a truly free market coexists alongside a strong social network, and with regulations to protect everyday people from exploitation.

The archetypical image of The Laborer is a posterized factory worker in overalls, short-billed cap, burly biceps below rolled-up sleeves, sledge hammer clutched in raised fist.   This icon hearkens back to the era when organized labor fought for and won the fair wages, safe working conditions, and livable retirements they deserved.  True, many unions later exploited their power.  The Teamsters, for example, is nothing less than a mafia.   But no one can deny that labor needed to organize to end its terrible exploitation, or that exploiting workers is a bad thing.  No one except libertarians, that is.   The fact that school teachers in America are so dependent on their unions and on strikes to get fair pay is a sad, sad indictment of our priorities.

Too much is made of the strife between blue-collar and white-collar workers, when in reality, the two ought enjoy a symbiotic relationship.  Both classes work, usually very hard, and both make indispensable contributions to our society.  Both should be paid fairly, neither too little nor too much.   As someone who has personally done nearly every kind of job imaginable, I appreciate all honest labor.

We all saw the ugly face of “Creative Class” elitism bared during the obama campaign, but I have often encountered the inverse, what I call “blue collar bushido.”  Once, in a business office, I overheard two secretaries: “what is it exactly that managers manage?  I mean they just sit at their desk all day.  We’re the ones who do all the real work — the typing, the filing, the answering of the phones.”   Years later, when our start-up was struggling, I suggested to my partner that we ask my dad, a retired senior executive, to oversee some projects.  “You and your dad don’t know how to get things done,” she sneered, “you just know how to get people like me and my dad to do the actual work!”  (My dad & I can do both, actually.)  Blue collar and white collar have coexisted since at least the first city-states. They need each other. The rancor of their rivalry should not exceed that of the annual Army-Navy game.

There’s also a third class, with growing influence in America —  a small, elite cadre of financiers, stock market players, business magnates and investors.  We could call them “gold collar,”  but the term “workers” would be too generous.  Or we could refer to them by their technical name: “Tapeworms.” Though but a tiny fraction of the population, these tapeworms possess most of the total wealth.  Their lust for wealth consumes their entire existence, so they must constantly acquire more — which they do primarily by exploiting the real workers, blue and white.   Even worse, these gold collars don’t actually produce or provide anything to earn their riches.  Like the parasites they are, they simply have positioned themselves in the flow and suck it off their host.  Meet a few of these tapeworms lurking in our collective gut:

Bill Gates:  Rewarded each year with $2,100,000,000 for having once bought DOS for 50 grand off the guy that actually wrote it, then preventing anyone from writing anything else useful;

Warren Buffett:  Won $62,000,000,000 gambling on whether other people made or lost money;

Koch Brothers:  Reap $100,000,000,000 p/a from coal mining that lays waste to entire counties, kills miners both fast and slow.   A slice of their profits is parlayed back into the GW denial industry they single-handedly set up;

Tony Hayward: Collected a $1,600,000 severance package — equal to one year’s salary — plus a $1,000,000 p/a pension for life, for overseeing unethical business practices … oh, and for being the cool-headed, quick-thinking, forceful presence should a crisis ever occur;

Richard Grasso: Director of the NYSE, earned $145,000,000 each year for sending the other parasites home each day by banging a gong. His salary nearly bankrupted the 168-year old Exchange;

Goldman-Sachs:  Like a thick ball of heartworms, GS threatens to choke the life out of its host – America.  GS hit paydirt  — $4,000,000,000 — on the collapse of the sub-prime mortgage bond market which it created.  GS amasses mountains of money by shuffling around other people’s money, and by betting that those people will lose their money in one of GS’s schemes.  When GS bet wrong, we bailed them out with TARP.  GS used our cash to give its executives $1,000,000 bonuses for a job well done.

In ever increasing numbers, these tapeworms are ensconced in senior executive positions.  In my father’s day, most business execs worked their tails off doing real managerial work, and were paid fairly and in proper ratio to other positions.  Of course, many of them were probably like my dad, a son of blue collar workers and grandson of day laborer immigrants, none of whom ever shirked or loafed a day in their life.  Today, the tapeworms at the top of the org charts have no concept of what real work is.  Instead, they are masters of office politics, of posturing, of indulging in privilege and cashing in on power.  Their business decisions concern only the short-term profit of stockholders — and themselves.   The fact that most of them spend all their waking hours at the office says more about their lack of an healthy personal life than their diligence.

One such executive tapeworm is Meg Whitman.  Born with a silver spoon in her mouth,   famous as the former CEO of eBay,  Whitman is running for governor of California on her putative managerial skills.  Meg has a plan to create jobs.  And Meg actually has a long track record of creating jobs — in India and China, that is.  As the California Labor Federation warns in a video, Whitman’s M.O. has been to join a company in a senior position, offshore the jobs of entire departments, make a couple mill’ on the side with insider trades, then move on to the next hatchet job.

In 2002, Whitman also inadvertently axed her own position at eBay.  Notorious for hounding and berating her employees, one day Meggers got so upset with the maid … er, senior marketing director, that she shoved the woman to the ground.  Whitman left eBay pronto to join that squirming mass of bloodworms, Goldman-Sachs, where she’d already been earning (sic) $475,000 to sit on their board.  Proving that, for a tapeworm there’s no conflict of interest when it’s all about your self-interest, Whitman had steered millions of dollars of eBay’s investments to GS.  This year, Whitman accepted a $105,000 “thank you” campaign donation from GS.  And now she wants to apply her work ethic to California.  If Whitman wins, she’ll join a thriving colony of gold collar parasites infesting government.  Worms in the gut are debilitating.  Worms in the brain are fatal.

So this Labor Day, workers of the world, toast yourselves.  And while you’re at it, unite!  After all, you’ve got nothing to lose, except your intestinal parasites.

(c) 2010 by ‘tamerlane.’  All rights reserved.

All the Best Cowboys Have Chinese Boots

August 11, 2010

The other day, I went shopping for cowboy boots. I tried on a pair from an unfamiliar brand — Smoky Mountain.  They were so comfortable that I wore them out of the store and kept them on all day.  It wasn’t until the next morning, when I pulled them on to do my barn chores, that I saw the “Made in China” label.

For some time now, I’ve tried to boycott Chinese products, for reasons given below.  It can be hard.   Practically everything, from tools to kitchen utensils to pet food, comes from China.  Even if you’re prepared to spend a bit extra, most retail stores carry little or nothing else.

I’m Just a Material Cowboy, Living In a Material World

Packaging can trick you.  Not for a second would I have considered a pair of boots from Anping Julong Animal By Product Manufacture Co. Ltd.  I assumed (admittedly, without thinking too hard) that these boots, in their buff box with a woodsy green logo of a mountain range topped by “Smoky Mountain” in Cooper typeface, came from east Tennessee or North Carolina.  In my subconscious arose an image of doughty Appalachian folk in plaid shirts lovingly hand-crafting my new boots in a bat-on-board workshop surrounded by tall pines.  I now know that my leather-upper-balance-man-made-materials footwear was slapped together by slave labor in some pollution-belching factory in Guangdong Province before traveling across the Pacific in a 40′ container.

Now alerted, I pulled out all my boots & shoes.  With the exception of two pairs, my Justin packers and my sturdy, Wisconsin muck boots, all were from China.  I reeled.

Marketing doesn’t have to be deceptive.  There’s no sin in effectively communicating a product’s benefits, even if its primary benefit is low cost.  The Smoky Mountain mark, however, is a deliberate lie.   It fooled me into believing I was paying a premium (the boots were as expensive as Justins) for an American product.  Neither the box nor the company web site give any indication who Smoky Mountain is or where they are from.  Somewhere out there is a rich bastard who just got a littler richer by first exploiting a Chinese laborer and then duping me.

We Americans, though, need scant help with our self-deception.  We complain when  jobs get shipped oversees, yet we exclusively bargain-shop.  Granted, most of us were raised to view bargain-hunting as praiseworthy thrift, but in today’s global economy, ostensible bargains come with an hefty, hidden mark-up.

The graver problem is not how we shop, but why we shop.  Instead of buying things we need or would enjoy using, we buy things for the sheer thrill of acquiring them.  This pleasure in finding & acquiring must originate from hunter/collector days if not earlier, but in a world where artificially lowered prices combine with a culture obsessed with possessions, our primeval instincts have been perverted into a mad, insatiable lust.

Birth Of An Addiction

The perversion of the American work ethic into the American acquisition addiction can be dated fairly accurately.  Near the end of WW II, when, after seven years of a brutal depression, and another five of a tough (by our standards) war, average Americans craved,  & felt themselves deserving of, the gamut of comforts and luxuries.  By happy coincidence, we had just undergone massive expansion of  our manufacturing base while obliterating that of our competitors.  US-made TVs, autos, dish washers, blenders and baseball gloves were all plentiful and affordable.

Steadily, we frittered away that huge lead.  Germany started offering high- end products at acceptable prices, while Japan flooded the market with acceptable products at low-end prices.  Meanwhile, our bulwark industries, especially auto, ossified and disgorged inelegant crap.  Somewhere along the line, the American people morphed from producers into “consumers.”

Jimmy Carter, in a serious buzz kill, tried to warn us.  We were instead drawn to Reagan’s siren call, telling us America had never been healthier.  Reagan unleashed the dogs of capitalist consumption and the rich got richer and trickled down some table scraps to the rest of us.  People started having to work longer and longer hours, while real wages stayed flat and productivity actually went down.  But the rich kept getting richer.

When they shut down the steel mills and the factories, and shipped those jobs oversees, they told us we were transitioning to a “Service Economy.”   When they shipped all the service jobs oversees, they told us we now had an “Information Economy.”  And now we’re down to a “Jobless Economy.”

The Pawn Shop School of Economics

Through these many decades of steady decline, we Americans have stubbornly clung to that shopping habit we first picked up in the late forties.  To maintain our habit, we first used up our savings (individual and collective), and then we went into debt.

Our primary pusher has been East Asia, and more and more, China.

A savvy drug dealer, China is intimately familiar with our special cravings and caters to them fastidiously.  What? I must choose between the DVD, the swing set, or … these spiffy new boots?  I want them all now! Thanks to China, I can afford them all at once — with the caveat that the DVD will break within 6 months, the paint on the swing will poison my kids, and if I saw the factory my boots were made in, I’d probably retch.   Products from China are cheap because because unethical means are used to keep costs down.  The raw materials increasingly come from poor countries, where the Chinese come in, strip the land of everything of value, then leave.   Chinese factories are inefficient, polluting nightmares, with horrific working conditions.  The products are shoddy to the extreme.  So they fall apart.  Which isn’t really a problem, because we buy them not so we can use them; we buy them so we can buy them.  Everything revolves around getting that next shopping high.

How have we been able to pay for this sustained and growing trade deficit?  Like any desperate junkie, we’ve pawned off our valuable possessions, our national assets.  Twenty-five percent  of US debt is in the hands of foreign nations, a doubling over the past two decades.  We now owe China almost one trillion dollars.

Getting Clean

Every recovery begins by acknowledging that you have a problem.  Capitalism and its twin, consumerism, are destructive diseases.  Possessions and comforts can provide happiness, but the obsessive pursuit of them only brings woe and devastation.  Anyone who tells you capitalism is a good thing is either evil or insane.

The second step is to take some concrete actions to curb your addiction.  Ideally, the government could stage an intervention.   The regulations on business & finance, never terribly strong, that were lifted in the eighties, could be reinstated in force.  US firms that offshore jobs could lose their right to do business in the US, with their CEOs stripped of US citizenship.  Perhaps granting “most favored trading nation” status to countries that rig their currency or who permit inhumane labor practices is not such a hot idea, after all.  The FTC could also crack down on deceptive advertising.  The “America’s Choice Seafood” brand with its red, white and blue logo, would instead have to display a red star and the slogan “China’s Rape of the Oceans.”

Don’t hold your breath — the government was long ago bought and sold to the capitalists.   The GOP has always been the champion of laissez faire, but of late Democrats have shown they differ only in degree … and hypocrisy.   The libertarians behind the Tea Party movement don’t think capitalism and offshoring have gone far enough!

A Seven Step Program to Recovery

No, we must clean up our act ourselves.  Here’s a suggested recovery plan each of us can implement:

1. Tune out the propaganda. Advertising is shrewdly — and scientifically — designed to tap into your primal emotions: don’t let it brainwash you.  Instead, practice an healthy internal dialog:  No, that new laptop will not make me sexier. My closet is already full.  My existing stereo still works.  I can slice an hard-boiled egg perfectly fine with a knife.

2.  Don’t Buy Chinese. Read the label on every item before tossing it into the cart.  If it’s from China, toss it back.  This will be hard, as most items in most stores only come from China.  The Dollar Store is off limits.  For products from other foreign countries, practice discretion.

3. Buy American. If you plan your purchases, and are willing to spend a little more for better quality, buying American is entire feasible.  A great place to start is this site with links to hundreds of US makers of quality products.  You can even find china made in the USA!

4. Buy Used. Regardless of where it was made, a used item won’t have to be re-made.  As a bonus, it’s usually missing that wasteful packaging.

5.  Make an Inventory, Make a Plan. Like I did with my shoes, check what you own and see where it came from.   Next, assess your regular and upcoming purchases, and craft a plan to alter your buying habits, buying American or even abstaining.   I did this exercise with my barn attire.  I’m stuck with my Chinese cowboy boots, but my next pair will definitely be American Justins.  I have an Australian hat (a nice country), and new, hand-crafted American gloves, but I need another pair, and these ones from New Mexico look nice.  I found some exquisite and very reasonably-priced leather belts from Illinois.  My Wrangler 13MWZ’s are almost non-negotiable.  Wranglers are made in Costa Rica, another nice country that protects its environment and offers universal healthcare.  But if I wanted, I could find suitable US-made substitutes.  Compiling this list took me about 30 minutes.

6. Spread the Word. Tell everyone you know that you’re a shopaholic but that you’re on the road to recovery.  Ask them not to buy you gifts made in China.  Like AMERICAN MADE on Facebook.  If you’re the agitating type, write letters to inform retailers and wholesalers that from now on, you’ll only buy quality, preferably American-made, products, and never Chinese.

7. Compile a “Sound of Music” List. As in “raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens … these are a few of my favorite things.”  It’s a safe bet that high on your list will be intangibles like snowflakes and kittens, time spent with family, quiet walks, sunsets at the beach, home-cooked dinners with friends.  And if so, then why not focus on enjoying the real happiness those things provide, instead of the effervescent pleasures of material acquisition?

Perhaps we will finally hear what Jimmy Carter was trying to tell us thirty years ago — our personal value does lie in what we do, not what we own.

(c) 2010 by ‘tamerlane.’  All rights reserved.

BP is Burning Sea Turtles Alive

June 22, 2010

In an effort to make its spill look less horrific, BP is setting fire to surface oil which has been cordoned off by shrimp boats carrying booms.

Tony Hayward, serial killer

Ongoing efforts to rescue endangered sea turtles trapped in the oil were shut down by BP as it interfered with the burns.  The captain of one of the rescue boats explains in an interview how BP ran him off, forcing him to leave numerous turtles trapped inside the burn cordon.

The Endangered Species Act metes out stiff criminal penalties, including imprisonment and $25,000 per death, to anyone responsible for killing a member of an endangered species.

Rescuers are putting on ice every animal they find killed by the oil.  So BP can actually save money by roasting the turtles at sea, instead of risking a rescued turtle might later die.

If you discovered someone setting the neighbor’s dog or cat on fire, and assuming you did not bash in their skull on the spot, what sort of punishment would that sick monster deserve?

In an earlier era, BP’s assets would have been seized, its leaders imprisoned — or tarred & feathered by the mob.   America has grown soft and weak, doped out on SOMA.  All we can do about this nightmare, it seems, is grumble under our breaths.

BP is a sociopathic entity; its executives & management are twisted murderers.   Their punishment must be swift, it must be ruthless, it must be complete.  If obama continues to aid & abet their killing spree, he must be impeached.

(h/t littleisis)