Saturday, March 22, 2008

Welcome To The Bush-Leagues

“And the great owners, who must lose their land in an upheaval, the great owners with access to history, with eyes to read history and to know the great fact: when property accumulates in too few hands it is taken away. And that companion fact: when a majority of the people are hungry and cold they will take by force what they need. And the little screaming fact that sounds through all history: repression works only to strengthen and knit the repressed. The great owners ignored the three cries of history. The land fell into fewer hands, the number of dispossessed increased, and every effort of the great owners was directed at repression.” — John Steinbeck from the novel “The Grapes Of Wrath”

A friend I just made at our recent precinct convention whose helping coordinate our delegation for Obama just found out her position writing contracts has dried up and she’s going temp now. With the foreclosures starting to pop up again here, and my friends losing jobs, it’s almost like Reaganomics again. So far, we haven’t seen the folks mailing in their house keys and walking from their homes as they do up north, but how far away can this be if our jobs start evaporating again? I still recall the 17–18% unemployment days of the 80’s ….

With all of the news on the economy lately, the pain at the pump and the grocery store, the skyrocketing insurance, medical care and housing costs along with the flatlined wages (if indeed we still have a job!) for the overwhelming majority of this country, the President spoke from New York financial district just over a week ago on how the economy is resilient, strong and how we’re not in a recession! What the hell is this guy snorting?!?

The only person in the country that truly buys that garbage is Dickless Cheney! What kind of reaction is he expecting, and how clueless is he making the Republican Party look?

Sayeth the W: “Our economy obviously is going through a tough time. The challenge is not to do anything foolish.” Yeah, like borrowing money from China to give every American a $600 rebate check to … go out and spend on more stuff (not save and pay off bills) and drive up the National Debt and drive our dollar down on those same Chinese (and other nation’s) imports with our ever-devaluing dollar, thanks to our inability to pay off debt and drive away foreign investors in dollars. Sadly, this is something both parties think is a great idea – instant economic boom! I’m not close to being an economist, but that’s so stupid it insults even my intelligence – limited as it may be!

On the subject of foolish … Bush also had the audacity to repeat that the economy is still “fundamentally strong” (WHAT?!?) and was not going to admit we’re in a recession even though the experts, the regular joes in America and even the failing banks (like Bear-Stearns) are all screaming that we’re already in the recession. At the very least we’re in stagflation that’s making the Nixon-Ford era of this look like child’s play! At one point, our illustrious prez thought the subject was so funny, he cracked himself up on the podium. Seriously.

But Bush-baby wasn’t done! “It’s important not to overcorrect, because when you overcorrect you end up in the ditch.” Too bad the economy and the country have been stuck in the money-draining ditch known as Iraq for longer than the Vietnam War now! We never even tried to finish Afghanistan or the hunt for Bin Laden … does anyone remember Bin Laden? 9/11?

“So welcome back baby, to the poor side of town.” — Poor Side Of Town, Johnny Rivers

So here we are in probably the most difficult economy since the Great Depression and we can’t get much more than a bit of press from the Dems – but they seem too intent on tearing down each other. Economy doesn’t get much press. Meanwhile, friends from my former job are losing their jobs at the end of this coming month and prospects are drying up out there. My sister, a single mom of two in the title insurance biz who gets zero help from her deadbeat ex is feeling the pinch at her job.

At least my temp positions have kept me going the past few years – nothing to be able to catch up, but it pays the bills in demand. My current job ends July 1 when we complete the transition phase of moving our American home office finance department processes (two miles from my home) to India.

Oh, did I tell you this is one of the major oil producers/refiners in the world? Yes, times are purportedly tough in big Oil, and they need to be mindful of maximizing their bottom line.

If oil companies with their record-shattering quarterly and annual profits are finding it necessary to outsource and offshore their functions, can there be any company that can really afford to keep employees in America? Even with stagnant wages, we’re still too expensive to hire. Making it more attractive, these corporations can actually avoid taxes by producing overseas. Making more money and paying few taxes, what a deal!

Maybe if our dollar falls far enough, we can start attracting back jobs like those burgeoning third-world countries. We can be a cheaper version of China’s workforce, though we’ll have to get rid of all our benefits, shitcan the OSHA safety standards, and always remember we need to work with no expectation of raises, bettering our collective lot or retiring. You see, we workforce folk are a dime a dozen … really more like a penny a dozen with stagflation.

The root of our current problem is that nobody learned from history. We’ve been through this economy before a century ago with Pres. William McKinley and the robber-baron era. How we got out of it was what once made Detroit great and was championed most famously by Henry Ford. It was a simple concept really. Produce a product that is affordable to the masses (though an ultimate essential), and pay the workforce that produces it a generously competitive wage.

You don’t make as much profit per unit and don’t do as well early on, but then all your workers are eligible to buy your product – increasing your market and pushing overall revenue and profits up. America today is all about maximizing their profit margin and looking at nothing beyond the next quarter. Jack up prices, keep your employees desperate and hold the wages low.

Then a funny thing happened … suddenly only the rich had money to spend. And the vast remainder of the country didn’t … and didn’t spend any more. And the less we spend, the more stores close and factories lay off … which means even few people spend, and profits wane and on and on the cycle goes.

If the government really wants to fix the issue, they’ll give tax breaks only domestically and only to those companies whose top-level officers and owners make no more than 25 times their lowest-level employees wage. Those who want their profit and paychecks much heftier can just pay a comparatively heftier share of taxes on it. Author Thomas Friedman said the “world is flat” for the American workforce … I say it’s time to flatten out the CEO paychecks in similar fashion.

And we don’t want to hear the righteous indignation and outrage of the privileged “good old boy club” complaining about having to shell out for taxes! Tell it to the employee who just got pink-slipped or the former homeowner who was just foreclosed on.

“The fields are all bare and the cotton won’t grow,
Me and my family got to pack up and go,
But I’ll make a living – just how I don’t know
’cause I’m busted.” — Busted, Nazareth

“They're workin' away our spirits, tryin' to make us cringe and crawl, takin' away our decency.” — Henry Fonda as Tom Joad from the movie, “The Grapes Of Wrath”

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