Saturday, October 29, 2011

The Truth Comes Out When The Party Starts



This is fairly sickening, but probably goes on more than people realize. It is news that there really are people making money off of the misery of their fellow Americans? No, but it is news when it can be presented in a visual way. These photos are the real story.

Who has the karma to be this callous?

The young lady pictured above is not homeless. She is mocking someone who has been made homeless by the predatory tactics of the law firm for which she works or is associated with. She is making light of the fact that Americans are being thrown out of their homes because the Steven J. Baum law firm makes money taking away the homes of people who aren't able to keep up with their mortgage payments. And while someone has to do this work, it is more than apparent that the Baum firm sees this sort of predatory behavior as necessary and justified.

Again, karma is a real bitch. Economic disaster can hit any time and anywhere. And now the world knows what the Baum firm thinks of itself and the people it has spent the last few years tearing apart. Well, 'may you live in interesting times' was never more apt.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Over the Moon in Brisbane



No, you shouldn't moon the Queen of England. I can't believe we're even having this discussion.


Unsanitary and unpleasant, yes. But, what do you accomplish by mooning the Queen? You accomplish nothing, you end up bothering a lot of busy people who have to protect the Queen from real outrages and the like, and you end up ruining a perfectly good Australian flag.

There's no victory here. Only chafing and poor hygiene choices.

Monday, October 24, 2011

What Really Happened After the 1986 Tax Reform


Martin Feldstein at the Wall Street Journal is arguing that the tax reform enacted in 1986 had a positive impact on the American economy. In many ways, sure, I'll buy that. He even goes so far as to say that, when you cut taxes, the amount of actual taxes paid into the system goes up, not down.

Ignoring the usual "trickle down" theories that go with this sort of thing, I'll add one piece of evidence which will show what tax cuts really do to the American economy. Taxes paid into the system are important, don't get me wrong, and Feldstein is not a liar, a cheat, or a thief in any sense of the word because he seems to be making a great partial argument. As seen above, he actually has evidence to back him up. But his evidence is missing something crucial.

The rest of the argument is here:


When we cut taxes, for some bizarre reason, the amount of wealth concentrated at the top goes up and when we raise taxes, it goes down. Look at three specific areas on that table. In 1922, the American economy wasn't in great shape, but wealth was more evenly distributed; when we skip ahead to 1929, look at how much wealth became concentrated upwards in this country, thanks to the policies of Warren G. Harding and Calvin Coolidge (and a little Herbert Hoover thrown in). The mantra of the 1920s was fiscal responsibility and no Federal spending.

After that, the tax rates kept things more or less in balance, and it was a sustainable balance that led to the great economic expansion of the American economy. Our economy grew when our top tax rates were in the 90 percentile range and the wealthy still held on to their money. During the 1940s and 1950s, the wealthy enjoyed an almost steady hold on around 30% of the nation's wealth; that would drop precipitously in the 1970s under Nixon and Ford. That's the economic record we should be investigating. What happened? Insert your own OMG and your own LOL on that one.

Our Gross Domestic Product has been growing at a massive rate, don't get me wrong. This rising tide has lifted a great many boats. But our economy is stagnating and wages are going down; it's time for a change of direction.

Look at what happens after 1986, as seen above. The bottom 99% of the economy saw their portion of the nation's wealth shrink by 4%. That's a shocking drop, even more so since it had fallen by roughly 12% in just ten years. So much for the Reagan tax cuts--all they did was redistribute income upwards.

Look at the spike that occurs after the Bush tax cuts--another sharp redistribution of wealth upwards, resulting in a steady, almost confiscatory level of wealth redistribution that continued unabated through the last decade. The wealthy are enjoying twenty-odd years of fabulousness and fatuousness that is absolutely killing out economy. Feldstein argues that one of the improvements that came about after 1986 was in the area of entrepreneurship and risk taking. How's that working out for us now? The wealthy are not creating jobs; they're hoarding their ill-gotten gains. This is why there's so much legitimate anger out there.

This is what tax cuts do--they put more wealth into the pockets of the top tiers of the economy. They do not increase the amount of wealth held by the bottom 99%. That's a fallacy that is constantly being rammed into this debate. Unemployment is a much larger issue, and when there is low unemployment, tax receipts increase because more people are paying into the system. That accounts for part of what Feldstein is saying, but not all of it. Unfortunately, we can't afford any more tax cuts. Not for another generation. But the Wall Street Journal is never going to stop beating that dead horse, no matter what.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Why Won't Americans Pick Potatoes?

This is where you have to comment on the brilliant leadership of the State of Alabama. Every one of them thought that if they could just drive out the so-called "illegal immigrants" that it would magically fix everything. It didn't. Now they have produce rotting in the fields, which will drive up prices and hit the people at the bottom of the economic spectrum even harder. When you make healthy food too expensive to buy, you create a downward spiral for public health and public wellness. The only left to do is eat the seed corn, buy more Twinkies, and stock up on insulin.

It actually reveals a great deal about this country and it speaks volumes about why the rhetoric has gotten it wrong every time. Let me just say that if there weren't low-paying, hard labor jobs in this country that ordinary Americans were unwilling to do, we wouldn't be having this discussion. The fact is, these jobs have always been around. Remember slavery? That's what slavery was designed to do--fix the problem of how you get human beings to do backbreaking work. Migrant workers have had to fill a lot of the labor gaps in this country's history and they have had to do it for terrible wages. Think of that sort of life--months and months on end of doing nothing but farm work, hoping to make enough money to survive. And these are the people who are the problem?

No, they're not the problem. Poor people are not the problem with America's economy or society or culture. The real problems run deeper than that. Americans are conditioned to vote against their own economic self-interest and they are fed lies about why times are tough. It's that simple.

After shooting itself in the foot, and after terrorizing thousands of families, Alabama still can't figure out how to deal with this issue. There is high unemployment throughout the state, but nobody is willing to go pick potatoes and harvest other crops by hand. You see, that's "Mexican" work and people who have a very high opinion of themselves simply refuse to spend more than a pleasant, sunny morning working in the fields. Oh, the horror of it all! Having to bend over and pick things up--why, that's just not right. Americans should be in charge of the people who have to do that sort of thing, right? And when the jobs of the overseers are filled up, certainly we can create jobs were decent Americans can stand around with cattle prods and shotguns to ensure that no one misses a potato or takes a twenty minute break, right?

Hey, instead of spending Saturday watching college football, get out there and spend ten or twelve hours picking up vegetables in the field, okay? And then come back and tell me that things are better now that all of the "illegal immigrants" are gone.

People in Alabama screamed for this law and now they don't know what to do. There is work waiting for them, but they are unwilling to do it. They are too lazy to do it. There are people who have seen their unemployment benefits run completely out and they are not ready to go into the fields and dig potatoes out of the ground for any amount of money.

I guess the answer now is to criminalize laziness. Alabama should now pass a law that says that anyone who can't walk into a dirt field and harvest a cash crop for fifty or sixty hours per week should flee the state in the middle of the night and abandon their belongings and disrupt the lives of their children.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Cheap Shots


This is one of the sillier pieces of counter-occupy propaganda that is flooding the Internet. Cheap shots are easy to take. The problem is, pointing out that these people use products and protest corporations is fairly simple-minded. They're protesting the fact that the corporations are violating a basic social compact with the American public.

And, in point of fact, many of them are there because one of the things these corporations "made" was a product that repackaged thousands of home mortgages into junk debt which they sold and resold multiple times in order to destroy communities and create a vast amount of misery and hardship for these same people who are protesting.

I don't see them wearing or using their repackaged mortgage products because those things weren't marketed and sold to the American people. They were traded by speculators and fund managers and crooks and thieves and they helped ruin the American economy. That's patriotism, though. In the richest nation on Earth, you are free to create an instrument of destroying the economic fabric of the nation and no one thinks twice about punching the hippie who notices what you did.

As with anything, there's a little "more" to this story.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Lowe's Shuts Down a Handful of Stores, Distressing More of the Gentlefolk

Store Closing Fact Sheet - 10.17.11
An interesting document, and the thing that caught my eye is the fact that, from New Jersey to Maine, things aren't going very well for Lowe's right now. With almost half of the stores being closed in this area, there isn't much to celebrate in the economy right now. If Lowe's can't make it, what does that say about the possibility that a lot retail businesses are on the verge of folding? And, if they are, doesn't that mean thousands and thousands of people who are now underemployed are going to be out of work?

No wonder people are Occupying Wall Street. Every time there's a clear indication of what's going on, we get media confusion and obfuscation. It's a better story when you can read about the dirty hippies stealing from each other and doing drugs, isn't it? Meanwhile, thousands more out of work.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Good News for Catholics of Royal Blood and Standing

Much of what is being proposed by the Prime Minister does away with centuries of anti-Catholic vitriol and equalizes the sexes. This is good news for anyone harboring secret feelings towards Catholicism, and that's about it.

These changes seem to signal that Britain is not ready to get rid of the monarchy. By making it all more equal, egalitarian, and palatable, perhaps all Cameron is doing is postponing the day of dissolution of the monarchy. This new couple seems to be in it for the long haul.  If they can maintain their status as one of the most wildly popular couples in history, their grandchildren will probably live in an England that is ready to be ruled under this new Act of Settlement.

Does This Sound Like Justice?


Nothing I'm reading here sounds like justice. It sounds like economic displacement and xenophobia.

Ideally, yes you'd want people to come here legally and make a life for themselves. These people couldn't do that. But they were still able to get trailers, put their kids in schools, find work, pay taxes, and live in these communities. In many cases, Hispanic workers in the deepest parts of the South outwork everyone around them and live happy, productive lives with sound family values.

Hispanic families are stronger than other families because they find a way to live their lives according to basic rules that I certainly find appealing. They are honest, trustworthy, and do things that are very admirable. They take care of the elderly members of their family, their extended family structure means more children have more positive role models, and their way of life is centered around celebrating their family relationships and, basically, staying out of the way of everyone else.

I'm generalizing, and I'm stereotyping, but I get sick of all the negative stuff that I read and hear. If you look at that trailer, and consider it the best chance those kids playing soccer had in this world, and then you read about how their terrified parents basically had to give away everything they own for nothing and flee the state of Alabama in the dead of night, praying that a Johnny Law wouldn't stop them and demand papers from them, well, you have to wonder why even bother having a country anymore.

I would rather have Hispanic family values around me than the ones found in many parts of white Alabama, where alcoholism, divorce, violence, and infidelity seems to have a free rein (I use that rather than "free reign" because it's the correct form) in those communities. We're all just people. Everyone is basically just trying to live their lives and not get hassled. African-Americans have been trying to find a hassle-free way to live with the establishment in Alabama since before anyone knew there was an Alabama.

And yet, the powers that be in that state cannot lead, cannot do the decent thing, and cannot make a law that doesn't stick a fist in the eye of liberty and grind a boot heel into the throat of decency. As God is my witness, I'll never live in Alabama, ever.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Way to Go, Alabama

The State of Alabama has now become a national laughingstock. Faced with the ruins of Tuscaloosa and a fall harvest, the wise and just leaders of that state passed a law that basically kneecaps anyone who has work that needs to be done. Brilliant.

Interestingly enough, the article goes on to make the claim that unemployment in Alabama is going to go down because now legal residents will be able to take the jobs that the Hispanic workers have abandoned. How many of them will take up the slack in the roofing business or the tomato picking business is anybody's guess.

It's fashionable to hate illegal immigrants. But the problem goes beyond the law and immigration. There are jobs here no one wants to do. There are people who will do whatever they can to fill those jobs and make a life. Employers profit from this situation, and they've been begging the government to fix this situation. The government, at both the Federal and State level, is incapable of finding a political solution to a very simple problem. This is why we end up with what we have.

First of all, poor people aren't the problem. Second of all, the laws involved here are part of the rules of immigrating here. These laws are not in the same league as the laws that cover violent crime, stealing millions from a hedge fund, or setting up a Ponzi scheme. Third, the need for workers who will do the undesirable jobs is not going to dry up so fixing this problem can be done simply by granting right-to-work visas and permits.

I can't stand the demonization of people who come here to work. I think it's an issue of social justice, and we're going to look back at this period of American History and see a period of shameful decisions and misguided legislation, and, more importantly, a time when millions of good people were punished and humiliated and ruined for no good reason.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Does This Sound Like Justice?


Nothing I'm reading here sounds like justice. It sounds like economic displacement and xenophobia.

Ideally, yes you'd want people to come here legally and make a life for themselves. These people couldn't do that. But they were still able to get trailers, put their kids in schools, find work, pay taxes, and live in these communities. So long to those good citizens. And if you think a white worker is going to go and do whatever those Hispanic workers were doing to make ends meet, please. I was born at night, but I wasn't born last night.

In many cases, Hispanic workers in the other parts of the South outwork everyone around them and live happy, productive lives with sound family values. You can hate on the truth all you want, and scream about the law, but when push comes to shove, there are plenty of people who were born here who live in the underground economy and work for cash under the table and live outside of the system. That's what this is about. People who scream about the law can't admit that they, themselves, would gladly take a few hundred bucks for doing something off the books so that Uncle Sugar doesn't get his cut. This underground economy pays a consumption tax back into the system via local sales taxes, so don't tell me that people living in this manner don't pay taxes and contribute to society.

Hispanic families are stronger than other families because they find a way to live their lives according to basic rules that I certainly find appealing. They are honest, trustworthy, and do things that are very admirable. They take care of the elderly members of their family, their extended family structure means more children have more positive role models, and their way of life is centered around celebrating their family relationships and, basically, staying out of the way of everyone else.

I'm generalizing, and I'm stereotyping, but I get sick of all the negative stuff that I read and hear. I look at that trailer, and consider it the best chance those kids playing soccer had in this world. When I read about how their terrified parents basically had to give away everything they own for nothing and flee the state of Alabama in the dead of night, praying that a Johnny Law wouldn't stop them and demand papers from them, well, why even bother having a country anymore? It's a nation of envious, hateful, ignorant people who consistently vote against their economic self-interest. So far, I haven't seen a single Republican solve our economic problems, provide a decent plan to put people back to work, and try to solve our health care issues. I've seen some Democrats try and fail. But only one side dares to blame it on Hispanics who come here, live by the rules, and try to build a life.

I would rather have Hispanic family values around me than the ones found in many parts of white Alabama, where alcoholism, divorce, violence, and infidelity seems to have a free rein (I use that rather than "free reign" because it's the correct form) in those communities. We're all just people. Everyone is basically just trying to live their lives and not get hassled. African-Americans have been trying to find a hassle-free way to live with the establishment in Alabama for decades now. Do they have the rule of law in Alabama? Are they acquainted with it? Or is there just a penchant for screaming and posturing? How brave. I was always taught that being a Daddy meant taking care of people and doing the right thing. I guess Alabama doesn't have any Daddies.

In many Hispanic families, you'd better believe there's a Daddy. And a Mommy. And uncles, aunts, a grandma, a grandpa, three cousins and a whole lot of other people who watch out for each other. Hey, how about more of that as opposed to a jackass in a baseball cap with greasy hair, 2.4 kids he never sees, and a Confederate flag window decal? How about more responsible adults and fewer inarticulate, immature, inconsiderate bums who can't stop fucking women they're not married to and who can't avoid drinking themselves into a fender bender before 9 AM?

Since when are poor people the problem? I don't get that. Poor people are not the problem. They're not taking anything away from anyone. They're just living their lives.

And yet, the powers that be in that state cannot lead, cannot do the decent thing, and cannot make a law that doesn't stick a fist in the eye of liberty and grind a boot heel into the throat of decency. As God is my witness, I'll never live in Alabama, ever, and I'll never go there unless there's a damned good reason.

Alabama, welcome to the official status of Hateful Shithole of America (Arizona, I'm looking at you with one eye, and I know you're jealous, but there it is).

Monday, October 3, 2011

Another Misunderstood Genius of Comedy

I really think that, when you use three exclamation points, nothing you say can or will be held against you, but that's me. I get this whole comedy thing.

Somewhere, a genius is misunderstood. I think that genius used to run a QC Mart somewhere in Iowa.