Saturday, May 31, 2014

Morality, Anyone?

Most of us like to think we are moral. So, when did our nation become dominated by people who place their own luxury above another person's survival?

The brief "minimum wage" message below was written by a fellow named Earl Dibbles Jr. It has been posted on tens of thousands of Facebook pages. My comments follow. Please share your opinion.
Don’t like the minimum wage?

If you’ve got minimum skills, minimum education, show minimum motivation, and provide a minimum contribution to the workplace, why the hell should someone be forced to pay you more?


Well, think about it.

Is that the kind of person you see when you are served by a waiter or waitress, buy a burger at McDonalds or a garden tool at Walmart? Those Walmart workers, paid an average of about $19,000 a year, contributed enough to the workplace that profits from their labors have provided six Walmart owner families with as much wealth as the total combined wealth of the poorest one-third of Americans. But they earn so little that we taxpayers keep them out of abject poverty by providing $400,000 a year worth of Medicaid, food stamps, earned income credits, and other services for those workers at every average Walmart store.
And six Walmart families--four of whom are among the 10 richest in the nation-- get the extra profits from the help that taxpayers give to their employees.

 Minimum education?

 If those minimum wage workers have minimum education, is that because they are lazy? Or is it because they are born with below average IQ, which is one half the people in the nation? Or because they were born to a single low-income parent in a ghetto where they face danger of getting shot or robbed or beaten on the way to school? Or because they have poorly motivated teachers with too few supplies in a school house that is falling apart? (See a recent New Yorker article on the Newark schools.)

 One More Thing.

Census Bureau records show there is a single Wall Street hedge fund manager who makes $1.4 million an hour. This is as much as 85,000 school teachers combined. What does he do? He moves money around for the very wealthy people. And he gets paid even if his investors lose money through his efforts. He pays only 15% tax because his lobbyists got him (and other hedge fund managers) a special provision in the tax law.
Who contributes more to society, the hedge fund manager or the school teacher? How about 85,000 school teachers?
Those are my opinions. What are yours?

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

TruthExchange: Scrooge Is Among Us

Christmas is drawing near. It’s time to watch out for Santa Claus, and also for Scrooge.

This is a summary of information from the 24/7 Wall Street blog. It is based on a survey done by

Ten of the largest U.S. employers pay their workers an average of about $19,000 a year, or about $9 an hour.  They pay their CEOs an average of $15.3 million a year, or about $7,356 per hour.

Those are rough averages, based on 40 hours a week and 52 weeks a year. CEO compensation varies from the two highest of $28.9 million at Starbucks and $20.7 million at Walmart , to the two lowest of $1.3 million at Sears and $11.1 million at Krogers.

Walmart is the largest U.S. employer, with 1.4 million workers. The smallest in this group of 10 low-wage companies is Starbucks with 120,000 employees.

The other eight employers in this list are McDonald’s, Target, Krogers, Yum! Brands, Sears, Darden Restaurants (Olive Garden, Red Lobster), Macy’s, and TJX Cos. (Marshall’s, TJMax).

Another report currently in the news estimates that the employees at a Walmart Supermarket in Wisconsin receive $900,000 a year in taxpayer support because their low wages qualify them for Medicaid, food stamps, and other benefits. 

 Estimates made in other states a few years ago placed the taxpayer cost at $400,000 to $800,000 for each Walmart store.

So, in a sense, what we don’t pay at the cash register, we pay in taxes to supplement with food stamps the low wages of the person who operates the cash register.

Walmart management disputes the salary figures for its employees, citing $25,000 a year average. Much depends on how figures are calculated.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Conservative Health Care

A converted former right-wing Republican contributed this story:

Luci and Her Visitor

Luci was sick at heart. 

On the way home at 10 PM, from her second  job as a cleaner, the stars finally aligned and three pieces fell into place;  she saw an open drugstore, she had twenty extra dollar in her purse, and she remembered she hadn't had her period since -- well, she couldn't really remember.  It had been at least four months.  She stopped at the store, and bought a pregnancy test.

She'd missed periods before, which her girlfriend Katya had put down to overwork, bad diet, and the strain of trying to raise a child with almost no money.  Luci and baby Liza lived in a fleabag motel which served two types of patrons -- those who rented by the hour (Luci could hear their rutting through the thin walls), and those whose only alternative was the street.  A tenement-style apartment would be cheaper, but Luci found it impossible to save up a security deposit.  Liza, a terrible two, was cared for by the kindly old lady in the next unit, who cleaned the motel toilets in lieu of rent.  Luci had no idea what she'd do if the old lady died or moved away. 

Luci had been home for ten minutes, and had gone straight to the bathroom with the test.  She knew she had to go next door and collect her child, but first she had to compose herself and find some strength.  The test had been positive.

Luci knelt by her bed, her face on the threadbare blanket, and sobbed.  "Dear God, why?"  she said.  "I'm not a bad girl.  It's just that I get so lonely, and when some man looks at me cross-eyed, I get pregnant.  Billy told me I looked pretty, gave me one beer after work, made love to me in the bed of his truck, and then he never called, and now I have his baby in me.  It's not fair.  Help me, God.  Help me."

There was a sighing as of wind, and a dim red glow appeared in the corner of the room.  A voice said, "I vill hear your petition."  The voice had an Eastern European accent.

Luci didn't stop to question the reality of the apparition.  She poured out her heart -- the poverty, the dead end jobs, the pain of trying to do right by Liza, and now the unexpected pregnancy -- a pregnancy in a state where an abortion in the first trimester was hard to get, even if you had money, and a pregnancy in the fourth or later month was unobtainable.

"So vy did you fall pregnant?"

Luci confessed her lapse in judgment, precipitated by loneliness and some unaccustomed alcohol.

"This is vat you need to do.  Fly to San Francisco.  Check into the Four Season hotel.  Speak with the concierge.  She can set everyting up."

Luci was dumbfounded.  "What would that cost?"

"If you are careful, not more than ten  tousand."

"Ten thousand?"  Luci screamed.  "I don't have ten!"

"Den svallow your shame, and see your GP. He can refer you to an OB-GYN who takes your employer's medical plan."

"I don't have a GP.  And my employer doesn't give me medical.  I have two part-time jobs, and neither have benefits."

"Vy do you have such miserable jobs?"

"Because I can't find anything better.  Say, what sort of angel are you, anyway?"

"And vy can't you find anything better?"

"Probably because I'm a high school dropout.  As you ought to know, angel or lady or whatever you are, I can barely read.  I can't even add without a calculator."

"And vy is dat?  Are you lazy, or stupid, or boat?"

"Well, I wasn't lazy.  I tried hard.  But my teachers were all shit;  fifty kids to a class, and we all got A's and B's.  One teacher actually said, 'I'm not going to let a bunch of stupid kids destroy my career.  You will all pass.  Let somebody else tell the principal that you're unteachable."

"Ant vere you unteachable?  Vat is dat, if not stupid?"

"I don't know.  All I know is, my Mom couldn't help me.  She was a dropout, too.  I had no place to study at home.  My teachers went home at four.  The school library closed at four."

"So vy didn't your mother put you into a better school?"

"We were POOR!  Don't you get it?  POOR!"

"Many poor people overcome many obstacles and achieve great success.  Vy veren't you vun of dem? I vas."

"Many poor people?  How many is many?  Out of how many millions of poor people? Are most of them ...fools?"

"Ach, dere it is.  As Herbert Spencer said, 'The only consequence of saving fools from their folly is to fill the world with fools.'  The world is full of fools because misguided people helped fools like you.  Vell, I'm not going to make the same mistake."

"Go to hell!"  Luci screamed.  "Who, or what, are you, anyway?"

"Vat you should say is, 'Go BACK to hell.' I am da ghost of da great philosopher Ayn Rand.  In recognition of my great visdom, Lord Satan has appointed me ambassador to the human race in general, und to da  Republican Party in particular."

"Great wisdom, my ass.  Just go to hell.  Or back to hell.  Whatever."

"Of course, Lord Satan did not SAY it vas because of my great visdom.  He is such a tease.  Vat is said vas, 'I'm kicking you out of hell because I can't stand  the sight of you.  You'll never be a demon, you're already too big a bitch.'  Funny, is it not?"

"Yeah. Hilarious."  At the red glow faded, Luci's eyes fell on the room's single closet, a dusty alcove with no door.  Between her threadbare clothes, there hung  a wire coat hanger.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Truth Exchange: ACA Is Great

If you read or listen to Republican obstructionists, you get the idea that the Affordable Care Act is a disaster. Listen to ordinary people and the story is different. Note this unsolicited response in an Oklahoma newspaper about one man's early enrollment:

By R.D. Miller on Nov 13
The ACA is great. I enrolled and went from 700 bucks per month to 328 starting in Jan. My old deductible was 10K and the new is about 6200.. There seems to be a lot of ranting about a good thing.

My 700 bucks a month was via my wife's policy as a state of Oklahoma teacher. My new policy for me will be BC/BShield and cuts my insurance in half or more. My doctor and hospital choices will not change. 

Monday, November 11, 2013

Job Creators?

How often are voters taken in by the pious slogans of conservatives about "job creators" and "makers" and "takers?" Bob Bianchini of Tulsa offers this insightful observation:

Frank Wang, who is paid $75,000 a year as president of Oklahoma School of Science and Mathematics, rejected an opportunity for a large raise because he feared the adverse impact it likely would have on one or more of his employees.

A consultant had recommended a salary range of from $87,212 to $130,818 for his position. "I told our finance guy that I would decline any increase because 70 percent of our expenditures are for personnel, and I likely would have to let someone go or reduce someone's work hours to get the pay increase," Wang said.

Compare that to the president of a Rhode Island-based toy company, whose pay was bumped up from $25 million to $28 million, at the same time the company let 170 employees go. Can you imagine how many jobs the so-called "job creators" actually would create if they had the same attitude as Wang? Don't hold your breath.


Sunday, November 10, 2013

Is Medicaid Anti-Christian?

If you ever wonder what evangelical pastors think about government helping the poor, this link from CNN will enlighten you. . I personally have had Baptist ministers give me the same interpretation of Christian theology that you will find in this article. I don't mean to exclude other denominations; I just have not asked them.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Truth Exchange: Blame Dems for Saving World

A Republican sought to get even with a Democrat who had posted a list of the Republicans'negative accomplishments. He sought to do it with sarcasm, which immediately backfired on him. Here is his sarcasm, followed by our response:

By Charles Reed 

A Democrat posted a list, of the Republicans' accomplishments in the last 100 years. So, I think it only fair to name a few of the Democrats' "accomplishments."

1. World War I: 53,000 killed; total casualties, 204,000
2. World War II: 400,000 killed; total casualties, 1,078,000
3. Korean War: 50,000-plus killed; total casualties, 103,000
4. Vietnam War: 53,000 killed; total casualties, 153,000

The sad thing is that most of these men were from 17 years to 23 years old. Thousands lost legs, arms, eyes.

I guess maybe for some people this pales in comparison to things like Watergate, the Great Recession and shutdown of the federal government for a few days.

 Truth Exchange
Mr. Reed,

Can you remember a little incident known as Pearl Harbor? If President Roosevelt and Congress had not responded with war, you would be speaking either Japanese or German today and ruled by either an emperor or a dictator. You seem to approve of that idea.

Do you also like the idea of a nuclear armed North Korean dictatorship controlling the great industrial capacity of South Korea, if Truman had not intervened?

Or even Europe and England ruled by Germany, in whatever form it might have taken, if we had not entered WWI (which historians now label as "the useless war" but which, nevertheless, would have ended with a German victory if Pres. Wilson had not first shipped supplies to England and then joined in the fighting.)

Vietnam was a terrible mistake, taken by a Democratic president. 1968 I made the mistake of voting for Nixon, who promised to end the war but instead expanded it into Cambodia and also brought us Watergate.  I regret that personal mistake.

Without Democrat President Roosevelt's job-creating and bank-regulating emergency actions, my family would have starved during Hoover's Great Depression. So, I would not be here to chide you for your ill-considered statements. Presuming you survived all those other calamities, I suppose you could thank Pres. Hoover and the conservatives in Congress for that.