I voted today

2016-Aug-02

I got up early today to vote in the primary. On the ballot I saw the name Russ Carnahan. I remember him. He was our “Representative”. Practically every week one of the groups I was part of went to his office to ask to see him and speak with him of our concerns.

Not once did he ever see us or talk to us. Not for one second. And not one second did it take me to decide to vote for someone else. If they will not give me one second of their time, I see not one reason to give them my vote. Never again.

#NoMoreLesserEvils


Message to the Democratic Party

2010-Nov-02

Revelation 3:15-17:
I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth. You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked.


Layoffs up – for you and me

2009-Feb-17

A year ago I said that American workers would suffer huge layoffs…but that the guestworkers replacing us would not be laid off. We, I was right.

And once again, American workers are being laid off by the millions. But not the guestworkers being brought in to replace us.

Infosys has no lay off plans

CHENNAI: IT major Infosys has no plans to lay off its employees and is going ahead with placement of all the 18,000 candidates who were extended offer letters.
….
Asked about the US Government’s decision on restriction of H1B visas and the stimulus packages, he said, “Right now, I see there is no impact…” he said.


Looting the corpse of capitalism

2009-Feb-09

Yeah, I remember capitalism. I remember the fables that company officers have a fiduciary responsibility to manage the company for the benefit of the shareholders. Yeah, right. From the Economist, The bonus racket:

In its last three years, Bear Stearns paid $11.3 billion in employee compensation and benefits. According to its 2007 annual report, Lehman Brothers shelled out $21.6 billion in the three years before, while Merrill Lynch paid staff over $45 billion during the three years to 2007.

And what have shareholders got from all this? Lehman’s got nothing (the company went bust). Investors in Bear Stearns received around $1.4 billion of JPMorgan Chase stock, now worth just half that after the fall in the acquirer’s share price. Merrill Lynch’s shareholders got shares in Bank of America (BofA) which are now worth just $9.6 billion, less than a fifth of the original offer value. Meanwhile, Citigroup paid $34.4 billion to its employees in 2007 and is now valued by the stockmarket at just $18.1 billion.

So the “employees” got five or ten times as much as the shareholders. But, you say, doesn’t that mean that we got that money because we are employees? Nope.

For the last decade these companies and most others have been getting rid of all the “rank and file” employees they can, and replacing them with cheap foreign labor. Fifteen years ago most workers were Americans. Now the executives and middle management are American, but a huge percentage of the rest are guestworkers, except where whole operations have been offshored. (The janitors and such are often illegal workers now.) Most of the “employees” who are getting so much more than the shareholders are the CEO and top executives.

At a typical Fortune 500 corporation such as those listed above the project manager and a lead tech may still be American workers, but most the the rest of the staff, the analysts, the programmers, the systems administrators, the database administrators are now mostly contract workers rather than permanent staff. And the contract workers are mostly guestworkers. At my last gig, I was brought in on contract to a major financial services firm (not one of the above) to work on a major project. I found myself in a room of 90 people. Two of us were Americans, me and a secretary to handle the paperwork. All the rest were guestworkers, mostly from India, but the rest from a wide variety of countries. And that is the “new normal”. Not one was brought in because they had unique skills, and nearly all of them ended up getting canned after a few weeks because they couldn’t do the job they claimed. But they were brought in because they were being paid half as much as the standard wage for American workers. And all the money that was saved on employee expenses became bonuses for the upper management. Just look again at the Economist article. Who got the money and who got the shaft?

They don’t care about the shareholders, they don’t care about the quality of the products they create, they don’t care that when they lay off their workers that those workers they lay off can no longer buy their products. They care only about getting as much as they can get before it all comes crashing down.

And the time for it to all come crashing down is just about now…


Change we can believe in? Where??

2009-Jan-11

So far all of Obama’s picks for top posts have been establishment corporatists, panderers to the wealthy, Clinton retreads. I see no one who represents any change whatsoever, but simply placing those who created the problems into positions where they will just make things worse.

We are entering totally uncharted territory, a world that could make the Great Depression look like a mild ripple, and all we have is more of the same.

When those who “unorthodox” in some fashion, those who are minorities or politically or socially offbeat in some fashion, finally “make it” to be a public success (such as by becoming President), too often they feel a need to be seen as “normal” in every possible way except their own specific difference. They feell the need to be seen as part of the Establishment. And so they may be a small bit of change in making it themselves, but they are too fearful of rejection to dare bring real change.

I fear now that Obama is feeling the inner need for being accepted as “normal” and will break the entire promise of his campaign.

We hired him to bring change, not to merely be it.


“Like a Ponzi scheme…that works!”

2008-Nov-19

After spending the day looking at the pitiful remains of my 401K, and despondent of finding a good way to protect the rest of it, I got out of the apartment by going to the movies, this one a showing of I.O.U.I.S.A., a whodunit about our outlandish national debt, on its way to ten trillion dollars, a bit under two hundred grand of debt for each of us.

The movie, even the cut down version did a good job showing the problem, but didn’t say much about a solution. Neither did the panelists, who seemed to have nothing better to say than “Don’t buy what you can’t afford.”

But the quote of the day came from Bill Emmons, an economist at the Fed. After pooh-poohing the inflationary effects of the Bailout, claiming it would get lost in the wash, he then said that our debt wasn’t that bad at all, since we got it at very good interest rates that were less than our GDP growth rate:

It’s like a Ponzi scheme…that works!

Oh. Really. Well, yeah, of course Ponzi schemes work…if you are the one at the top of the pyramid–like the Fed, instead of at the bottom–like us.


Told We Need the Bailout Right Now

2008-Sep-23

Mr. Paulson said in prepared remarks to the Senate Banking Committee:

We need to build upon this spirit to enact this bill quickly and cleanly, and avoid slowing it down with other provisions that are unrelated or don’t have broad support.”

FDR: The First Inagural Address:

Faced by failure of credit they have proposed only the lending of more money. Stripped of the lure of profit by which to induce our people to follow their false leadership, they have resorted to exhortations, pleading tearfully for restored confidence. They know only the rules of a generation of self-seekers. They have no vision, and when there is no vision the people perish.


Bailout: Heads You Win–Tails We Lose

2008-Sep-21

The Great Bailout means we will be paying for the losses of the rich.

The stock market is a legalized gambling arena. It is not investing. Only buying into IPOs (Initial Public Offerings) is investing. Everything after that is just gambling whether prices will rise or fall.

And in the last few decades the market has created ways of gambling to allow rich people to gamble even more than they own, lately called “derivatives” which are ways to leverage bets so you can bet more than you own. Well, the high rollers gambled trillions of dollars, and they are now losing.

What happens when we gamble and lose? We lost everything. What happens when they gamble and lose? They ask the government to make us pay for their losses. When they won, and made billions of dollars for themselves, did we get any of that? Now that they are losing, are we going to make them use their winnings to cover their losses?

Don’t you wish you could gamble money you don’t own, and when you win you keep it, but when you lose then just make someone else cover your losses?

And we are going to let the people we voted into office do it to us.


The Surge or Ethnic Cleansing?

2008-Sep-21

Juan Cole, who knows more about the Middle East than most of us, doesn’t think it was the Surge:

Satellite imaging that shows Sunni Arab neighborhoods in Baghdad dark gives evidence that the ethnic cleansing of the Sunnis by Shiite militias accounts for the fall in violence in Baghdad, not the extra troops Bush sent, called the ‘surge.’


Executive Compensation…uh, Overcompensation

2008-Aug-10

I’ve been reading economics blogs lately to see how we will soon become just another third world country. Just came across this tidbit from The Automatic Earth:

What’s wrong with Wall Street? …:
* Rewards employees, not shareholders – It pays as much as 76% of its revenues to the people who work there (e.g., in 2006 Merrill paid $17 billion in compensation and its revenue totaled $22.4 billion). That pay is linked to revenue, not how much money their deals make for customers.

That money is not going to the real employees (the ones who do all the actual work). It is going to the leeches, those CEOs and top execs who get paid many millions, with multimillion golden parachutes beyond that) to take the companies for every dime as they ride its stock down into oblivion.

Decades ago one of my bosses said to me, “Well, a company can make money by selling things or by cutting expenses. And we are in the phone business and everyone has a phone, so our only choice is to cut expenses. And thirty percent of any company’s expenses are employee pay. So if the executives want to get paid more they have to cut rank and file employees. And that is what we are doing.” And the company laid off a quarter of a million employees while I was there, from 355,000 employees down to 120,000 (and many more since).

But right now, look at that thirty percent going to employee wages. That is management and non-management. But that was back in the 1980s, just as the era of downsizing was beginning. Since then per-employee productivity has been rising drastically, as huge numbers of employees have been cut and the remainder forced to do the jobs of those who left…or suffer the same fate themselves. And at the same time CEO pay has skyrocketed from about 30 times the average wage in 1980 to over 350 times now.

Now it appears that not only are CEOs and high level execs getting a much greater cut of employee pay, but now many execs are taking money that would have gone to stockholders or better or cheaper products and keeping it for themselves.

And you and I are paying for it…