GMoney's Dope Journal - Archives
In his book "The Wrecking Crew" from 3 or 4 years ago, he made the argument that Republicans suppress government wages so that people make somewhat (to a whole lot) less than comparable jobs in the private sector. The motive being to scare off the "best and brightest" from gummint work, leaving those jobs for the C and D students. That way, government would be inefficient, ineffective, corruptible, and unable (or unwilling) to regulate or enforce regulation, as part of their efforts to wreck and dismantle as much of the government as possible in the name of free trade and unbridled capitalism.
Something tells me a lawyer working FOR the EPA trying to enforce regulations makes a whole lot LESS than the BP attorneys trying to defend BPs reckless actions. Same for financial oversight agencies, energy, transportation, military, health, and all other government positions.
I'm sure it's just a matter of skewed averages in that there probably aren't too many government jobs that pay as little as WalMart or McDonald's slave wages. And yes, government workers have unions that probably ensure even the janitors and cafeteria staff and file clerks make a living wage -- until someone decides that to reduce "headcount" they have to lay off 20% of their staff, only to "subcontract" that work out to a private company at 150% of the cost of maintaining those employees as government workers.
We saw it in the military in the Iraq war and occupation... they'd have an army PFC driving the truck who makes $35K a year, and sitting on the seat next to him was a Blackwater mercenary "providing security" and costing the government $35K a MONTH (or even a WEEK).
They also ignore the notion that paying government employees a reasonable wage may help guard against temptation to accept bribes or favors for NOT doing their job. There was the argument that it would be cheaper to pay all the Congressmen $10 Million a year or so, so that it wouldn't be cost-efficient for businesses to try to buy them off.
As usual, Orwell had it all figured out...
"The primary aim of modern warfare (in accordance with the principles of doublethink, this aim is simultaneously recognized and not recognized by the directing brains of the Inner Party) is to use up the products of the machine without raising the general standard of living."
"If the machine were used deliberately for that end, hunger, overwork, dirt, illiteracy, and disease could be eliminated within a few generations. And in fact, without being used for any such purpose, but by a sort of automatic process -- by producing wealth which it was sometimes impossible not to distribute -- the machine did raise the living standards of the average human being very greatly over a period of about fifty years at the end of the nineteenth and the beginning of the twentieth centuries.
"But it was also clear that an all-round increase in wealth threatened the destruction -- indeed, in some sense was the destruction -- of a hierarchical society."
"The problem was how to keep the wheels of industry turning without increasing the real wealth of the world. Goods must be produced, but they must not be distributed. And in practice the only way of achieving this was by continuous warfare.
"The essential act of war is destruction, not necessarily of human lives, but of the products of human labour. War is a way of shattering to pieces, or pouring into the stratosphere, or sinking in the depths of the sea, materials which might otherwise be used to make the masses too comfortable, and hence, in the long run, too intelligent. Even when weapons of war are not actually destroyed, their manufacture is still a convenient way of expending labour power without producing anything that can be consumed."
They claim that 22% of the cost of everything we buy is "embedded taxes" paid by all those involved in the production process, which may be true. But the WHOPPER is that if we pass the "Fair Tax" and outlaw all the various other forms of taxes, everyone will magically cut the cost of their goods or services by that 22%, thus largely offsetting the amount of the new 25% sales tax.
There is NO WAY that every business will cut prices by 22%. I doubt many of them would cut prices at all, just either feeling exceptional, or that they need to make up for all the money they lost in the past years. And, most companies pay very little tax, other than employer contributions to payroll taxes. And what about export goods? Will they suddenly be 22% cheaper for buyers from other countries, or will they be charged, even if they're purchasing wholesale goods or raw materials?
And I presume this will only be a retail sales tax, not on wholesale goods... otherwise, the 25% would quickly snowball to huge inflation. So yes, if you can claim your jet plane or yacht as some sort of business expense, then it will probably be free of sales tax.
What about local and state sales taxes? Those will remain in effect? How about state income taxes, property taxes, etc? If I buy a house, do I have to pay sales tax on it up front?
They ALSO say that the way it's not overly burdensome on the poor is that everyone will receive a "pre-bate" from the gummint of a few thousand dollars, intended to offset the taxes one would pay on maybe $15k or $20K of "essential" purchases, so that they're effectively "tax free." Not sure if they're talking annual payments or monthly, but they'll create some huge agency responsible for issuing a few hundred million checks or online payments. This of course presumes that everyone has a bank account to receive the funds, or a way of cashing checks that doesn't charge a 25% fee. It also assumes that people will be able to budget out that money over time as they make purchases -- if it's annual, I'd look for lots of folks to buy big screen TVs or cars, then try to support themselves paying more for everything than they did before. And who is "everyone"? Adults? Citizens? Wage earners? Heads of household?
While they say they'll eliminate the IRS, they'll have to create another huge agency to collect all the Federal Sales Taxes and enforce sale tax collection requirements. ("We need to audit all your sales and ensure that the proper tax was collected, and that it's all be remitted to us.") As it stands now, state sales tax audits are hugely burdensome... something tells me the Federal ones would be even worse.
This would also lead to a huge black market or grey market of "sales tax free" transactions. Would every eBay seller or roadside fruit stand be obligated to collect and pay the tax?
Even if these fantasy conditions came true, it still really only benefits those who "earn" more than they spend.
and sorry for the misstatement of "protection" versus "coverage" -- not a distinction that most customers would recognize unless both were explained.
I've done marketing for a couple different banks over the years... even at my low level, the sneaky shit they would practice and approve still makes me a little sick to think about.
I remember when one bank I worked for introduced "Home Equity Lines of Credit" as if it was some wondrous new thing, rather than the dreaded "second mortgage" it really is. My boss basically said "everyone knows better than to take out a second mortgage on their house, so someone came up with this idea." That product was a huge factor in the housing bubble, and the resulting subprime mortgage market collapse -- that's a big way lenders were able to finance over 80% of a home's value, allowing people to buy with almost no money down, and buy more house than they could truly afford. All basically because someone figured out that calling it something besides a "second mortgage" would make it easy to let people suck all the equity out of their house and squander it.
Stories of people who are paid basically to show up and sit in a room or do useless work because the union protects certain positions, even though that position has been rendered obsolete due to technology or other reasons. The union prevents these positions from being modified so the employer can have these people actually do useful work. For instance, a story about our local newspaper goes that long after the paper shifted from setting metal type to using computerized methods, the union still required typesetters to set metal type for each story in the paper. So, while they were actually years behind, typesetters would still set the type in metal, make a proof, then melt down the slugs and start the next one.
Stories of quotas -- my dad tells the story of back in the 50s, employees were required to produce a certain number of parts in a day, so they would pull the "Cool Hand Luke" move of hustling in the morning, meeting their quota early, then spending the last few hours of their day in the bathroom reading or smoking. So even though the employees were demonstrating they could produce much more than their current quota, if the employer tried to raise the quota, it was unfair and grievances were filed.
There was a news story the other day, forget all the details other than a union was going to go on strike because management did not want to honor an 8% annual pay increase in this economy... ties into the perception that some unions will destroy their employer rather than compromise.
A lot of people blame the teachers unions and tenure for keeping bad school teachers employed by giving them "jobs for life" essentially, rather than holding them accountable for student performance.
A lot of people blamed the unions for the near-collapse of GM and Chrysler, as meeting union wage, benefit, and retirement obligations was over burdensome and didn't allow them to be competitive with "import" non-union automakers.
Then there's the whole set of corruption and organized crime stories from back in the day. Slush funds and union bosses living like kings...
It's been a long time since the movie "Norma Rae" painted a favorable picture of unions. Heck, even "Roger and Me" is over 20 years old now.
There's a strange disconnect between how the more physically demanding a job is, the lower it generally pays. Some people still marvel at how a union auto worker with experience may take home $100,000+ a year, but have no trouble with an insurance agent who sits in an air conditioned office talking on the phone all day receiving 3 or 4 times that much. And don't get me started on financial "wizards" who receive millions while getting astounding perks and lavish working conditions. I know I get paid a lot more than a lot of people who work a lot harder than I do... but don't expect the "haves" to change the system. And too many of the "have nots" have been led to believe that unions are a bad thing, so are happy to take non-union jobs and even vote against unionizing their own workplace.
So that BP's army of lawyers can clog up the courts, and battle everyone to the death, knowing that most individuals don't have the resources to engage BP in a long-term legal battle, especially while they've been stripped of their livelihood. And every time someone DOES manage to win a judgement, they'll cry about how trial lawyers are ruining this country, and then launch appeals and stonewall any sort of payment. It's almost uncollectible if BP dug in their heels.
They also want to give BP the chance to spin off their various divisions to protect them from judgment and just leave some sort of holding company with no actual assets to be the legal defendant, and then just fold up that tent so there can be no collectible judgments against them.
Republicans call this "The Rule of Law."
Once they get an initial donation, they keep after those people they know are sympathetic to the cause, and enough of them continue to respond, and enough of THEM continue to escalate their level of donations, that as an aggregate, they take in more than they spend. And every so often they get some serious benefactors. But for the masses, they follow the Law of Diminishing Returns to determine how many times they can send out a mailing and it still be profitable.... some people respond on the first mailing, some on the third, some on the tenth. But they know, like all good marketers, how many times they can send a mailing to a list and still take in more than they spend.
The charity enlists fundraisers, who make their money writing and printing and mailing the solicitations, regardless of donation level. And if the charity spends $1,000,000 to net $1,001,000 in donations, then it justifies the program because they have a profit. (That may be a stretching a bit... but you gotta spend money to make money.)
Sort of like Hannity's scam... they take in millions at his "Freedom Concerts" but spend virtually all of the money on private jets and caviar and appearance fees and publicity. But there's enough left over that they can throw a few thousand into the "scholarship fund" and consider the whole thing a "legitimate charity" at least for tax purposes.
They all just say "proceeds go to Charity ABC" and that can mean almost any percentage of the take AFTER expenses.
Not ALL charities do this, but a LOT of them do, especially those that do a lot of outbound solicitation.
Four engineers were sitting around talking, and one of them pipes up and says "You know, I think God must be a mechanical engineer. The structure of the skeleton, the weight/strength ratio of bones, the built-in shock absorbers in the joints. Clearly the work of a mechanical engineeer."
The second one says "well, it's impressive, but it nothing compared to the chemical processes of the body, taking in all sorts of random food and converting it into bones, muscle, tissue, blood, and energy to make everything move. Obviously, God is a chemical engineer."
The third one says "but none of that works without the most impressive electrical system ever designed -- the brain and the central nervous system. It's more powerful than any computer, and the electrical impulses that control even the most delicate operations like brain surgery or playing a violin. It's all done with electricity, so God must be an electrical engineer."
The fourth one has had his arms crossed defiantly and says "You're all wrong. God is a civil engineer and I can prove it. Look at the genitals... who else but a civil engineer would put a recreational center so close to a sewage plant?"
The less popular follow up to "Little Old Lady from Pasadena"
"Granny's Impala wasn't runnin' right,
So Grandpa got his tools and souped it up tight,
Took it down to Earl Scheib, asked for Eggshell White
But it came back painted purple with pink headlights!
Granny's Purple 'pala, gonna pass you by
Granny's Purple 'pala, man it sure can fly
Granny's Purple 'pala, gonna pass you by
You can't keep up man, don't even try..."
I think this guy may be the inspiration for all the Tea Party window breakin' -- I doubt any of them are edumacated enough to have heard of kristallnacht.
It's hillbilly civil disobedience, pure and simple.
Boortz was saying that Caterpillar claims HCR provisions will cost them $100 Million this year so they'll be cutting jobs, and that one of the cellular companies is going to have to cut 1000 jobs because of it.
Of course, if it had NOT passed, Caterpillar and the cell company would still be cutting those jobs. But now they have a scapegoat.
Maybe not for the purists, but good fun nevertheless...
Isn't Wyclef Jean on the hot seat for giving his girlfriend a hefty salary out of his Haiti relief organization?
And a lot of star-studded fundraisers, the celebrities only "donate" their time, but are given the red carpet treatment as part of the overhead.
I was just reading about a "celebrity poker tournament" at NAB in Vegas that promises "to donate a portion of the funds raised to the 'American Red Cross Haiti Relief Fund' " -- clearly "a portion" could be 10% or $10. They're soliciting "sponsors" which means more income, or goodie bag stuff, or whatever, with no real indication of what will go to the Red Cross. (And of course, the Red Cross has their own overhead, further reducing the effective donation amount.)
Hannity and North's "Freedom Concert" scam is terrible, bilking families who buy tickets thinking ALL the proceeds are going to actually help people, instead of providing Sean with Gulfstream V's and luxury hotel suites. My guess is Hannity & Co. also gets some sort of stipend from Fox or Heritage or some RW slush fund to appear at and promote these jingoistic propaganda and hate festivals.
I think in the future, if a "celebrity" is asking me to donate money, I'll step around them and find a direct way to donate, thank you very much.
"rare-stuffium" wasn't subtle enough?
They should have just been looking for hen's teeth.
And who would make any system that depends on some resource that's unobtainable? I think it was Jimmy Fallon on SNL who said "Yeah, I've invented a car that gets 500 miles to the gallon, but it runs on California Condors and Fabrege eggs."
Which is sort of like Facebook, except it's all about shopping and selling. Turns out when someone registers, it worms its way into your e-mail address book and spams basically everyone you know urging them to join, etc.
I don't really want anyone knowing my compulsive shopping habits, let alone broadcasting it to everyone.
Part of me wonders if there isn't a concerted effort being carried out to get everyone to overshare every aspect of their life so that privacy can effectively be eliminated, but almost on a voluntary basis.
"Why yes, Mr. Winston Smith, you'll get this free large screen TV installed in your living room with free programming 24/7 and all you have to do is let the TV watch YOU at the same time! Fun, eh? All your friends could sign on and watch you do your calisthenics in the morning, and party with you as you drink your Victory Gin! Everyone's getting one, so why not join in the fun!"
Orwell was right. Orwell is ALWAYS right.
The ten most recent threads posted on the Democratic Underground Discussion Forums.
FL GOP tries to close state pension system to new workers, yet take THEIR pension at 2X accrual rate
FL GOP denies $51 billion federal Medicaid to poor, yet order cheap health care for themselves
Happy Mother's Day
I love DU2!
Florida Senate President Don Gaetz (R) ran company now accused of Medicaid fraud (Rick Scott redux)
Mediterranean diet cuts risk of heart dis-ease
By No Elephants
The ten most recommended threads posted on the Democratic Underground Discussion Forums in the last 24 hours.
Use the tools below to keep track of updates to this Journal.
Today's Featured Forums