Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Business failures

Businesses and business people frequently think of themselves as rationally self-interested. They used to add the word enlightened, but they don't much any more. That's so retro, an anachronism of a time before shareholder value became everything, before greed was good, before Ayn Rand told them they were virtuous to be bastards.

But, are they even rationally self-interested?

I see a local gas station with a sign supporting the end of automatic indexing of the gas tax to inflation. Is that really in their interest? I remember 1991, the previous time the gas tax went up 3 cents. All - and I mean all - gasoline retailers raised their prices 6 cents. Indexing gives them the chance to gouge every year, not just every 20 something years.

Democrats manage the economy better for growth, jobs, GDP, and the stock market. The Koch brothers have made their vast fortunes tremendously vaster with Barack Obama as President, yet they hate him and all Democrats to the tune of a billion dollars. It's not rational, just their ideology.

The stock market has done tremendously during the Obama administration, yet investment businesses want more. More, more, always more. It's clear the banks won't be satisfied unless every fraudulent, high risk, socialized risk/privatized profit "innovative product" that steals from honest people is permitted. Yet they're making huge profits, just not enough to feed the tapeworm of Randian bullshit economic feudalism.

Export businesses should look at their international competitors and come out for single-payer health care. They need that huge drain off their books and on someone else's. Nope, after supporting Obamacare when it was still Heritagecare, they're looking to dump what coverage they offer - despite Obamacare's early successes at slowing the growth of health insurance costs.

Businesses and business owners prefer weak government because that's their ideology, not because it's better for their businesses. Weird.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Radical Christian extremist ISIS

Phil Robertson is the moral equivalent of ISIS tyrant Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. Robertson quotes Proverbs, "All who hate me love death."



His choice for Muslims is the same choice that ISIS has posed to Yazidis (and doesn't even offer to Shias): Convert  (to my extremist religion) or die.

In fact, Robertson thinks it's too late even for conversion. "That time has come and gone," he says.

For Robertson, there's no place in the world for moral reasoning, only for winning the war over which god is the bigger murderous asshole. And he thinks Satan is the problem!

Of course, Sean Hannity, handmaiden to genocide, is just fine with all this.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Killing the golden goose

Democrats have gotten pretty good at raising small dollar contributions via email. This will not last because they are drowning their supporters in spam.

Especially at the end of every reporting period, I get scores of emails from people I'd like to contribute to - and a few from Democrats I won't contribute to, such as John Tierney, unless he found himself in the unlikely position of being vote 218 for Nancy Pelosi as Speaker. Then, I suppose I could hold my nose. Till it bled.

Tierney's emailing me daily, as if I were an ardent supporter whose absence from his list of contributors must be an oversight - or I'm a slacker who needs a reminder to change my underwear. When did it become permissible to spread email addresses to everyone?

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee was emailing me on multiple addresses, demanding to know why I haven't renewed my "membership." The day I got five separate emails on each address, I started unsubscribing, and I let them know in no uncertain terms why:

I'm tired of the insulting and manipulative spam. You're destroying a potent Democratic advantage by promiscuously sharing my addresses. Stop it! I get 50 emails per day, and the ones that cast me as a deadbeat piss me the hell off.
The DCCC took me mostly off their list. But I suddenly found myself subscribed to the Democratic Majority PAC's list. It's not as frequent, but I'm not mollified.

Because of this abuse, more and more contributors who can't give to everyone (e.g. me), are going to opt out.

Maybe they're trying to cull their lists. As if.

Really, I think their email contractors are abusing the lists because that's where their incentives lie. If so, Democrats need to learn to write better contracts - or pull their operations back in house.

The alternative: Republicans will still have the Koch brothers and a long line of oligarchs. What will the Dems still have?

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Heroes without guns


We Americans privilege our warriors with the label hero. Maybe this follows the long course of Western civilization from the ancient Greeks to Rome's dominating (yes, and pacifying) violence, through the English (never mind the costume dramas of Masterpiece Theatre and the BBC) and the Celts. Maybe it's just ours, born of prison colonies and the scapegrace sorts who needed a fresh start, rather than the devout Pilgrims and their dream of a the city on the hill. But they executed Quakers.

America is a martial, violent culture. In our nation's history, we've gone to war over and over again, so often that it seems to be a cultural necessity. Instead of one night a year for unpunished mayhem, as in The Purge, we think we need a war every few years as catharsis against the savage violence that lives inside us all - or all men, anyway.

Digression: A Greek connection I hadn't known, crypteia, precedent it seems for the killing of Michael Brown. Is my liberal problem that I'm searching for Athens in Sparta? At least, I live in the Athens of America.

Back to heroism...

Heroes speak to me. To be valiant, to be stalwart, to be known as a stand-up guy, these are all in the myths I want to live.

This doesn't require a gun. The New York Times today reports on heroes in the so far losing fight against ebola in West Africa. 
Ms. Sellu, the deputy nurse matron, is a rare survivor who never stopped toiling at the government hospital here, Sierra Leone’s biggest death trap for the virus during the dark months of June and July. Hers is a select club, consisting of perhaps three women on the original Ebola nursing staff who did not become infected, who watched their colleagues die, and who are still carrying on.

“There is a need for me to be around,” said Ms. Sellu, 42, who oversees the Ebola nurses. “I am a senior. All the junior nurses look up to me.” If she left, she said, “the whole thing would collapse.”
These health workers have little to no effective support from their own communities, from their governments, or from the world at large. There are a few western aid agencies, some religious, some secular.

Here at home in America, we celebrate the survival of our fellow Americans. But there's no groundswell of support to save the thousands of Africans who are infected or will be. Why is it that we can't see them as just as human as we are?

Why, too, does a Facebook friend of mine post support for Darren Wilson, who killed Michael Brown? What lack of human sympathy leaves behind only tribal sympathy?

Sunday, August 10, 2014

More stupid shit

Apparently, I provide tag lines to the White House.

Apparently, Hillary Clinton believes in magic, at least for electoral purposes.

This is what Clinton said about Obama’s slogan: “Great nations need organizing principles, and ‘Don’t do stupid stuff’ is not an organizing principle.”
No, it's not an organizing principle.  It's a minimum standard.  One we've been regularly fucking up for the better part of three and a half decades.

Monday, July 28, 2014

The real Massholes

They're going to fight for their right to make you sick.

“Who does the EPA think they are to tell us what we can and can’t do with our vehicles?” Wedge said.
The vast majority listen to Rush, I'd guess.

Next up, shitting in the public water supply.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Lame response to Elizabeth Warren on banksters

The criminal conviction of Credit Suisse is long overdue. But it's a lame sop to Elizabeth Warren, not a significant ramp-up in enforcement.

For Credit Suisse, other than the fines and the reputational stain of being a felon, the implications are likely to be limited. The bank may lose some clients but is otherwise expected to survive largely unscathed. [Emphasis added]
Modern investment banking is tantamount to organized crime.

  • Cream profits off the top by selling fraudulent securities and then betting against their customers in the market. Check. 
  • Launder billions for drug cartels. Check. 
  • Criminally seize properties without title using forged documentation and perjury. Check. 
  • Manipulate the LIBOR to steal from borrowers. Check. 
  • Do business with outlaw regimes internationally. Check. 
  • Crash the economy and through political influence take no haircut at all. Check.

The banksters are not going to change their racket until they feel the hot breath of the law on their well-groomed necks. Eric Holder only wants us to think he's breathing on them so that we stop breathing on him. He's not trying to change the banking racket.

This "industry" probably shouldn't be burned to the ground and started over. The consequences of killing available credit for conscientious citizens and their value-creating enterprises would be too dire.

But investment banking as a whole should be seized, its management imprisoned, and each institution's continued existence made contingent upon its ability to operate without criminality.

Does this sound radical? It should. We have got to cut this cancer of criminal greed out of our economy before it kills us.