Showing posts with label economy. Show all posts
Showing posts with label economy. Show all posts

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

In the year 2020, this crap just ain't funny


NEBRASKA: "Mister, put down that microbe!"

COVID-19: "Shut up! Now c'mon. Your money or your life!" 

(Long pause.)

COVID-19: "LOOK, BUD. I SAID YOUR MONEY OR YOUR LIFE!"

NEBRASKA . . . AND DIRK CHATELAIN: "I'm thinking it over!"

In the hands of the great Jack Benny, that used to be one of the great comedy skits of all time. In the hands of the University of Nebraska and the Omaha World-Herald, it's just another display of our society's seriously screwed-up priorities in the year of our Lord 2020.

In the year 2525? Screw that. Apparently, Zager and Evans were off by 475 years.


Consider the hypothetical: The president of Rutgers University obstructing Nebraska’s ability to produce one of its biggest economic commodities. Its chief source of entertainment and cultural influence.
Sounds foolish, right? But not fictional. That’s essentially what happened this week when Big Ten leaders voted to cancel an entire college football season.
This is not an argument about immunology or sociology. It’s civics. Who has authority over the welfare of your flagship university? Is it Ronnie Green and Ted Carter? Or is it Kevin Warren and Big Ten presidents?
There’s a reason Nebraska school districts made their own decisions on opening schools this fall. Because the circumstances in Platte County are different than those in Lincoln or Omaha.
Maybe losing football doesn’t qualify as a crisis in Piscataway or College Park or Bloomington. But it’s DEFCON 1 in Lincoln, Ann Arbor and Columbus. No wonder Scott Frost and Ryan Day aren’t going down without a fight.
Had the Big Ten really valued its members this week, commissioner Warren would’ve resisted the urge for uniformity and enabled schools freedom this fall. Freedom to compete — or not. If that meant the Big Ten refusing to sanction games and calling off conference championships, so be it.
But if Nebraska wants to play North Dakota State, if Penn State wants to play Syracuse, if Ohio State wants to play the Cleveland Freaking Browns, let them. This is not the time to demand lockstop. This is a time to preserve local economies — and cross country scholarships. This is a time to foster creativity and open minds.

Thursday, May 28, 2020

100,000 and counting


One. Hundred. Thousand.

Dead. In less than four months.

Our economy is in ruins. We're not near done.

God help us, because Donald Trump and his followers sure as hell won’t.

And wear a damned mask.

Wednesday, April 04, 2018

Back to the future with President Stupid


Well, ladies and germs, it would appear that President Stupid is about to get us all into a real, honest-to-God trade war of the Smoot-Hawley variety.

Those never end well.

I fear the chill'uns are about to get a lesson on what it was like when their grandparents -- folks my age -- were teenagers and college students. The cool stuff you really wanted was really expensive, and you seriously had to save up for it.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/economy/trump-administration-targets-chinese-electronics-aerospace-and-machinery-goods-with-50-billion-in-tariffs/2018/04/03/9be42e5e-3786-11e8-9c0a-85d477d9a226_story.html?utm_term=.06d82e62a1d6In 1980, I was working about 20 hours a week at minimum wage -- then $3 an hour. Today, that would work out to $9.22. And being a total gear head, I really wanted a cool new stereo receiver.

To get one, I had to save for months. The Yamaha receiver I bought cost just shy of $400, or around $1,100 in 2018 dollars. That was serious money then, and it's even more serious today, as wages haven't come close to keeping pace with inflation the past four decades.

Later, I decided I wanted a color TV, a nice one, for my bedroom.  So I got a "Sony of my owny," to borrow the phraseology of the era's advertisements for the brand. It was a 12-inch Trinitron color set with push-button tuning. I also could tell you the model, but that would just bore you and out me as a total anorak, which is a particularly geeky way to say "nerd."

My Sony cost a mere $369.95 ($1,086.25 today).

GOOD LUCK doing that now as a student making minimum wage at a part-time job. For one thing . . . your wages have been depressed.

For another thing, your depressed wages in 2018 go toward lots of stuff we didn't have in the late 1970s and early 1980s -- like monthly cellphone bills.

And monthly cable-TV bills to watch programs and sporting events that were on free, over-the-air TV in 1980.

And then there's Hulu and Netflix and Amazon Prime Video so you can watch the popular shows that aren't on cable.

Oh, yeah. There's your monthly broadband-Internet bill, too.

Then there's college tuition. In 1979, my old man shelled out $295 in tuition and fees for me to attend Louisiana State University full time for the fall semester ($995.29 in 2018, about a $2,000-a-semester discount over one of today's "reasonably priced" state universities). Back then, state legislatures tended to think public universities were, well . . . public.

By the standards of today's Republican Party, we all were pinko-communist, socialist radicals living in a thoroughly collectivized country . . . and we liked it. We particularly liked not being bankrupted by student-loan debt which, of course, can't be erased by bankruptcy.

And I saw Bruce Springsteen in 1980 for the princely sum of $8 a ticket ($23.30 today). The Who cost $12. I had great seats.

Sucks to be you, kids. There's a reason so many of you live with Mom and Dad till you're 30. 

SUCKS TO BE us old farts, too. When prices go through the roof, the economy craters and our 401(k) retirement accounts come to naught, we'll probably die at age 80 . . . shivering in an unheated hovel, eating cat food and wallowing in our own shit.

On the bright side, maybe Donald Trump will just get us nuked instead, and we'll never know what hit us.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Trumpiana


Alas, alas . . . whither my poor alma mater, Louisiana State University? Yet another semester, yet another budget cut, in all likelihood.

Bigly.

With cuts right around the corner, the president of LSU warned Louisiana lawmakers Wednesday that his university cannot handle many more budget reductions.

“Another cut to higher education furthers the dire straits that we're in. I don't know how much more efficient we can become,” President F. King Alexander told the House Appropriations Committee.

For the 16th time in nine years, LSU is once again preparing for the legislative knife.

“It's endless, it's like Ground Hog Day,” said Rep. Larry Bagley, R-Stonewall.
In order to fix the state’s $313 million shortfall left over from last year, higher education will like have to endure another multi-million dollar cut. Back in November, the governor proposed about $18 million in cuts to higher education overall, with more than $8.5 million from LSU. Those could be enacted through executive order. Any changes to that plan could be announced Thursday, at which time legislators could also vote to increase cuts to education.

Over the last decade, LSU has cut back on courses while freezing faculty salaries time and time again, according to Alexander. Meanwhile, competing universities have lured away their LSU faculty by offering them better pay. Overall, Alexander said budget cuts have led to a net loss of 500 faculty members over ten years.

“We would take notice if we were losing football coaches,” Alexander told the committee.

With regards to how much the university spends per student, LSU currently ranks near the bottom. The school is 46th out of the 50 flagship schools across the country and 12th out of the 14 SEC schools, according to Alexander.

“This day is the worst day of hearings every year because we talk about what should be the hope of the future of our state, and then we talk about how dramatically we've dis-invested in it over the last nine years,” said Rep. Walt Leger, D-New Orleans.

Added to that, the shortfall is holding up maintenance projects. The LSU system current has a backlog of $750 million in upkeep projects that cannot be completed under current budget restrictions. About $500 million of those projects are on the main campus.

When it comes to TOPS, which is only partially funded in the spring, Alexander said it is unclear how it will impact enrollment. His bigger concern, he said, is next fall and beyond.

“The uncertainty of all this has the potential to drive the best and brightest out of the state,” Alexander said.
THERE REALLY isn't much to be said about this ongoing tragedy any longer. It all has been said, and we're all getting tired of repeating ourselves.

Here, though, is one thing I don't think has been repeated to the point of ineffectiveness.

You want to know the best way to describe my woebegone home state? This way.

Louisiana is just like its favorite politician, president-elect Donald Trump: It spends its life acting like a stupid asshole, then it goes bankrupt.

Trumpiana, for short.

That is all. That's enough.

Saturday, February 08, 2014

No shelter at all


This was the view Friday of the homeless camp just off Omaha's Keystone Trail.

Sometimes, a crude shelter is no shelter at all -- no good against the cold and worthless in the snow. It looks like whoever was camped here is long gone . . . thankfully.


THE HIGH on Friday was 13. That was a big improvement over Thursday, which started out at 10 below.

If this is all the shelter you have, there's a word to describe you. That would be "dead."

Still, consider there are folks out there . . . in the cold. In rough camps not much better than this. It's what they call "home."

Ours is a society of cracks, through which "the least of these" fall, much like the snow through the gaps in this lean-to.


Lord, have mercy.

Thursday, February 06, 2014

Disappearing in plain sight


This is the Keystone Trail, right in the middle of the middle of Omaha.

You'll find yuppies and bobos and DINKs and hipsters and bikers and joggers and slackers and workers and old folks up and down its paved pathway beside the Little Papillion Creek whenever the weather isn't totally unfortunate.

Sometimes, you'll find idiots like me there even when the weather is unreasonably unfortunate. Not today, however. Too much snow, too damned windy and cold.

Some things . . . some folks whom you might find there, you'd probably rather pretend aren't there -- there right under our reasonably affluent noses. But evidence is evidence.

Like this. Right under our noses.


IT'S QUITE easy today to routinely ignore what's right under our noses. In our society, we all live in our own little worlds, and we all live by those whose worlds are a lot like our own.

No longer are we forced to exist cheek and jowl with the great unwashed, so we don't.

And they become invisible, even when they're in plain sight. Or, as the case may be, tucked just into the tree line.

Would that all our failures were as out of sight and out of mind as the homeless, some of whom -- beset by mental illness, addiction or whatever -- never come in out of the cold. Even when it's snowy and 10 below, like it is this harsh February night in Omaha.

I hope whomever this encampment belongs to gave in to the siren song of central heating at a local shelter. A lean-to this crude can't keep out the snow, much less the subzero cold.


MAYBE WE fail to notice what's right under our noses -- or pretend we don't notice what's right under our noses -- because we're just overwhelmed. We are so overwhelmed by our own problems and clutter and, yes, demons that we figure we can't afford the luxury of contemplating or acknowledging those whose problems and clutter and demons have left them wandering through the Nebraska deep freeze.

As opposed to merely being distracted and stressed out.

Me, I don't know. I'm just spitballing here.

Whatever is the case, the evidence is clear that none are so blind as those who will not see. "Those," of course, being you. And you. And you.

And, by God, me.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

SMASH RUNNING-DOG VERBAL DIARRHEA
OF DILETTANTE U.S. REVOLUTIONARIES!


Does anybody in his right mind take crap like this seriously?

I found this hand-scrawled tract lying on the ground at Omaha's almost-dead, soon to be razed Crossroads Mall today, and I think there's a metaphor somewhere in that circumstance. I'm also thinking somebody watched "Reds" five times too many. Sheesh.

What's worse is that I agree with the general sentiment, hiding though it be in a steaming pile of outraged agitprop. Yes, the growing inequality of our society is a bad thing -- it's a very bad thing if you're the minimum-wage bug and not the overcompensated windshield. And what Wall Street bankers and bond traders have gotten away with the last decade (and more) is outrageous.

You can't even call it beating the rap. There's no rap to beat, and that is an affront to both social justice and civil society.

Furthermore, balancing a budget on the backs of those who most need "entitlements" like Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid when the "1 percent" -- indeed, even the 10 percent -- are well capable of paying a fairer share of taxes would be fundamentally unjust. Cruel, even.

WE ARE our brother's keeper -- this comes from a Very High Authority, indeed -- and a society for which that is not an organizing principle is one that would be, in a word, brutish.

There's a lot you can say on this subject in support of reining in Wall Street and bestowing a little governmental mercy upon Main Street, not to mention Skid Row. It all would comport with what Abraham Lincoln called "the better angels of our nature," and some of it might even persuade a few Fox News Channel viewers.

Hand-scrawled tracts parroting a bunch of Leon Trotsky's B-sides?  Not so much. 

It's a natural fact that anywhere you land on God's green earth, those who are quickest to lend a helping hand -- to share with you whatever they have -- tend to be those who can least afford their own generosity. It doesn't take much for these souls to "give until it hurts."

"The widow's mite" wasn't just something Jesus pulled out of thin air.

BUT the thing is, those in our society who have the most right to be damned angry at their plight generally aren't half as mad as America's outraged, tract-scrawling, fill-in-the-blank-occupying dilettante revolutionaries, whose sound and fury thus far has signified pretty much nothing. Kind of like John Reed back in the day.

Frankly, I think America's have-nots deserve better representation.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Congressional cliff diving


This country, at least on a national level, has really, truly become ungovernable.

And we are Thelma and Louise, putting the pedal to the metal as we steer straight for the edge. Here's some of the story of Congress' fascination with the abyss from CBS News:
"[W]e'll see what the President has to propose," McConnell said in a statement. "Members on both sides of the aisle will review it, and then we'll decide how best to proceed. Hopefully there is still time for an agreement of some kind that saves the taxpayers from a wholly preventable economic crisis."

Meantime, on a conference call with the House GOP Conference this afternoon, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., told Republican lawmakers to be prepared for votes on Sunday night.

All of this action is not indicative that progress is being made on the tax hikes and dramatic budget cuts set to go into effect next Tuesday, however.

On the same conference call, Boehner reiterated to his conference that the ball is in the Senate's court. He called on Senate Democrats to pass legislation the Republican-led House passed earlier this year that would extend tax rates for all wage earners and another measure that would replace the across-the-board spending cuts to domestic and defense programs with targeted cuts.

"The House will take this action on whatever the Senate can pass - but the Senate must act," Boehner said.

But Reid had a similar message for Boehner earlier in the day: "Take the escape hatch we left you."

Reid called on Boehner to take up a bill the Senate passed weeks ago that would extend current tax rates for all wage earners making less than $250,000. "The way to avoid the 'fiscal cliff' has been right in the face of Republican leaders for days and days and days...," he said.

On the floor of the Senate this morning, Reid said Boehner "seems to care more about keeping his speakership" than avoiding the tax hikes and federal spending cuts set to go into place in just five days.
ON ONE LEVEL, one sees the outraged secessionist petition-signers' reasoning, such as it is, in wanting out of a country that no longer can organize a one-car cortege, much less manage the decline of a morally, intellectually, militarily and economically spent empire.

On a more realistic level, do you really think a country whose leaders can't control the urge to jump off a "fiscal cliff" -- despite all that would mean for a shaky economy and future unemployment -- could manage letting various states go their own uncertain ways without a river of blood and a sea of ruin?

Even if such a thing were constitutionally possible, that is?

In such a country, I suppose it's also pointless to think that we the people might consider for a second, as we behold this pathetic spectacle staged by politicians we put into high office, that we have exactly the kind of self-destructive, chaotic and silly governance we so richly deserve.

Of course it is. We're Americans. Pointless is what we do these days.

Monday, September 10, 2012

This patient's chart doesn't look so good, Doc


God in heaven.

Look at this from the American Enterprise Institute:
The blue line in the chart above displays total annual print newspaper advertising revenue (for the categories national, retail and classified) based on actual annual data from 1950 to 2011, and estimated annual revenue for 2012 using quarterly data through the second quarter of this year, from the Newspaper Association of America (NAA). The advertising revenues have been adjusted for inflation, and appear in the chart as millions of constant 2012 dollars. Estimated print advertising revenues of $19.0 billion in 2012 will be the lowest annual amount spent on print newspaper advertising since the NAA started tracking ad revenue in 1950.The decline in print newspaper advertising to a 62-year low is amazing by itself, but the sharp decline in recent years is pretty stunning. This year’s ad revenues of $19 billion will be less than half of the $46 billion spent just five years ago in 2007, and a little more than one-third of the $56.5 billion spent in 2004.
ANY MARKET for those of us with skill sets worthy of the Bronze Age? You know, like newspaper journalism and radio broadcasting? Some of us also have rudimentary skills in hunting and gathering, as well as cave painting.

Will cue up records (45, 33 1/3 and 78 rpm), edit reel-to-reel recording tape, hand-set metal type, tutor students in proportion-wheel and pica-pole use, change typewriter ribbons and develop film for food.

Also will backtime records to end at the top of the hour for a legal ID and the radio news for whatever alms you see fit to give.



HAT TIP:
Rod Dreher.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Don't trust any entrepreneur under 30


It all started when Wall Street created an "unlike" button for Facebook. And it may not end well.

At all.

Damn you, Mark Zuckerberg.
Punk.
However, the valuation of Facebook may be moot. Because tech finance expert, Michael Wolff, presents a different doomsday scenario about Faceook in the MIT Technology Review - one where Facebook literally brings down the internet advertising model.

It all starts with the incredible growth necessary to keep Facebook stock price up, just as Aswath Damodoran assumes it must.

Woolf says that this will destabilize the ad market online, with negative results. He suggests . . .

“In its Herculean efforts to maintain its overall growth, Facebook will continue to lower its per-user revenues, which, given its vast inventory, will force the rest of the ad-driven Web to lower its costs. The low-level panic the owners of every mass-traffic website feel about the ever-downward movement of the cost of a thousand ad impressions (or CPM) is turning to dread, as some big sites observed as much as a 25 percent decrease in the last quarter, following Facebook’s own attempt to book more revenue.

You see where this is going. As Facebook gluts an already glutted market, the fallacy of the Web as a profitable ad medium can no longer be overlooked. The crash will come. And Facebook—that putative transformer of worlds, which is, in reality, only an ad-driven site—will fall with everybody else.”

Monday, May 21, 2012

Monsters.com


I have pretty much drifted through my adult life, doing a little of this and some of that, but still not knowing my true vocation.

No more. Praise the Lord, I saw the light.

I
now know what I was meant to do in life, and I owe this big change in my aimless existence to a couple of big, big dogs by the names of Sadie Sue and Boo Radley.
We have been foster pet-parenting the old girl and her big little brother for the past couple of months while their real parents' house has been torn asunder and put back together in a radically different order. I think the technical term for this is "remodeling," and the aim of this major surgery -- involving sledgehammers, flooring, cabinetry, lots and lots of drywall, lots and lots of tile, lots and lots of construction workers, stainless-steel appliances and a stained-steel I-beam that now holds up the second story -- has been to create the "Kitchen of the Future."

Which, after all this time, labor and -- yes -- money is starting to look a lot like the woo-doo Kitchen of Today.

ANYWAY, I have been reliably informed that big, big dogs and construction workers coming and going is not an optimal combination. So we got the dogs instead of the cool new kitchen.

I know, Molly the (little, little) Dog. It sucks to be you. You will be rewarded with limitless dog treats as you await Mama and me at the Rainbow Bridge when your time on earth is done.

Soooooooo . . . back to my true vocation. These slobbery and hairy weeks at La Casa Favog, as it turns out, have been a time of self-discovery for yours truly. At age 51, to my great surprise, I seem to have an innate talent heretofore unknown to me.

I am a great hair sweeper-upper. An artiste with a broom, as it turns out.

And I just wanted to share this with you. See the top picture? Some of my handiwork from this afternoon. I do this every day, three times a day -- take hairy floors in the living room and kitchen and sweep them clean, creating neat little mountains of fur and then dispatching them out the back door.


I'LL BET
the rabbits and squirrels are scared spitless at the overwhelming scent of danger that now wafts over their previously unremarkable universe.
Tee hee. Just a little devilish lagniappe that comes with my new career, which I discovered on Monsters.com.

After 5½ years of college and decades of drifting between this dead end and that, I now know I can step right into a fulfilling life as a minimum-wage barber-shop floor sweeper.

It's not everybody who, thanks to a couple of monster dogs and a yappy one, stumbles into a perfect career for the new economy. I am a lucky man.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

America'$ 13th Amendment workaround


Mother Jones writer Mac McClelland took a job in a megawarehouse that serves up all the crap we buy off the Internet.

What she saw and what she lived isn't pretty. What it is, increasingly, is a pillar of our economy. Kind of like King Cotton was for the antebellum South.

When that much money's at stake, you can justify a lot of shit. And you will.

And we have.

The days blend into each other. But it's near the end of my third day that I get written up. I sent two of some product down the conveyor line when my scanner was only asking for one; the product was boxed in twos, so I should've opened the box and separated them, but I didn't notice because I was in a hurry. With an hour left in the day, I've already picked 800 items. Despite moving fast enough to get sloppy, my scanner tells me that means I'm fulfilling only 52 percent of my goal. A supervisor who is a genuinely nice person comes by with a clipboard listing my numbers. Like the rest of the supervisors, she tries to create a friendly work environment and doesn't want to enforce the policies that make this job so unpleasant. But her hands are tied. She needs this job, too, so she has no choice but to tell me something I have never been told in 19 years of school or at any of some dozen workplaces."You're doing really bad," she says.

I'll admit that I did start crying a little. Not at work, thankfully, since that's evidently frowned upon, but later, when I explained to someone over Skype that it hurts, oh, how my body hurts after failing to make my goals despite speed-walking or flat-out jogging and pausing every 20 or 30 seconds to reach on my tiptoes or bend or drop to the floor for 10.5 hours, and isn't it awful that they fired Brian because he had a baby, and, in fact, when I was hired I signed off on something acknowledging that anyone who leaves without at least a week's notice—whether because they're a journalist who will just walk off or because they miss a day for having a baby and are terminated—has their hours paid out not at their hired rate but at the legal minimum. Which in this state, like in lots of states, is about $7 an hour. Thank God that I (unlike Brian, probably) didn't need to pay for opting into Amalgamated's "limited" health insurance program. Because in my 10.5-hour day I'll make about $60 after taxes.

"This is America?" my Skype pal asks, because often I'm abroad.

Indeed, and I'm working for a gigantic, immensely profitable company. Or for the staffing company that works for that company, anyway. Which is a nice arrangement, because temporary-staffing agencies keep the stink of unacceptable labor conditions off the companies whose names you know. When temps working at a Walmart warehouse sued for not getting paid for all their hours, and for then getting sent home without pay for complaining, Walmart—not technically their employer—wasn't named as a defendant. (Though Amazon has been named in a similar suit.) Temporary staffers aren't legally entitled to decent health care because they are just short-term "contractors" no matter how long they keep the same job. They aren't entitled to raises, either, and they don't get vacation and they'd have a hell of a time unionizing and they don't have the privilege of knowing if they'll have work on a particular day or for how long they'll have a job. And that is how you slash prices and deliver products superfast and offer free shipping and still post profits in the millions or billions.

"This really doesn't have to be this awful," I shake my head over Skype. But it is. And this job is just about the only game in town, like it is in lots of towns, and eventually will be in more towns, with US internet retail sales projected to grow 10 percent every year to $279 billion in 2015 and with Amazon, the largest of the online retailers, seeing revenues rise 30 to 40 percent year after year and already having 69 giant warehouses, 17 of which came online in 2011 alone. So butch up, Sally.

"You look way too happy," an Amalgamated supervisor says to me. He has appeared next to me as I work, and in the silence of the vast warehouse, his presence catches me by surprise. His comment, even more so.

"Really?" I ask.

I don't really feel happy. By the fourth morning that I drag myself out of bed long before dawn, my self-pity has turned into actual concern. There's a screaming pain running across the back of my shoulders. "You need to take 800 milligrams of Advil a day," a woman in her late 50s or early 60s advised me when we all congregated in the break room before work. When I arrived, I stashed my lunch on a bottom ledge of the cheap metal shelving lining the break room walls, then hesitated before walking away. I cursed myself. I forgot something in the bag, but there was no way to get at it without crouching or bending over, and any extra times of doing that today were times I couldn't really afford. The unhappy-looking guy I always make a point of smiling at told me, as we were hustling to our stations, that this is actually the second time he's worked here: A few weeks back he missed some time for doctors' appointments when his arthritis flared up, and though he had notes for the absences, he was fired; he had to start the application process over again, which cost him an extra week and a half of work. "Zoom zoom! Pick it up! Pickers' pace, guys!" we were prodded this morning. Since we already felt like we were moving pretty fast, I'm quite dispirited, in fact.

"Really?" I ask.

"Well," the supervisor qualifies. "Just everybody else is usually really sad or mad by the time they've been working here this long."

It's my 28th hour as an employee.
MAKE SURE you go and read the whole thing. Sleep tight tonight, America, as we all contemplate the possibility that, yes, there is a God and, yes, He is a just one.

Monday, February 06, 2012

Twinkle, twinkle little bat-s***. . . .


This is how you run a state today. Please take notes.

First, you buy a copy of Through the Looking Glass. Pay for it with a check from a bank you just made up in your head last week. Sign the check "Alice."

Then commit yourself to believing "six impossible things before breakfast" every day, nine days a week, and twice on Gloopday.

Third, vow never to make sense again. Coherence, consistency and commonweal are the three K's to avoid at all costs -- they will just mess you up when, as The Man, you're trying to gin up popular outrage against The Man as a means of sucking up to the booboisie.

Fourth, if the public pays for it, the public owns it and the public benefits from it, convince the public that's just "socialism," a nefarious plot conjured up by pointy-headed geeks to steal taxpayers' money.

And finally, tell people there is such a thing as a free lunch, that they can get something for nothing . . . and that nothing is really Something, because when you're paying for something, that's not as good as getting nothing, which is Something, for nothing. Make this point to voters twice every Gloopday.

NOW THAT we've completed our overview of Political Science 1001, I think we're ready for a look at the latest public-policy pronouncements by Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman, the Pillsbury Doughmagogue. (Envision the Mad Hatter, only closer in appearance to Poppin' Fresh and prone to go "Hoo hooooooooo!" every time a state employee gets his pink slip.)

In today's edition of the
Omaha World-Herald we observe Flippin' Nuts (which I think is the governor's Twitter handle, but I could be wrong) compare the state university to "a wealthy 'special interest group' with its hand out for taxpayer dollars while the state's citizens want tax relief."
Heineman, in an interview Friday, said that his top priority remains passage of his proposed tax-cut package and that the university needs to reprioritize its spending or use private dollars from its foundation to finance the $91 million in new construction spending it is requesting from the state.

The university is seeking funds to expand nursing classroom space in Lincoln and Kearney, do design work on a new veterinary laboratory in Lincoln, and build a $370 million cancer research tower at the Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha.

"Here's what the average Nebraskan tells me: 'The university has over a billion dollars in their foundation, and they can't afford $400 million to $500 million to afford that (cancer tower) project?' " Heineman said. "They're offended, and they have a right to be offended," he told The World-Herald.
THAT'S BECAUSE there's nothing more offensive than cancer research. Unless, of course, it's the resulting economic development that would plague Omaha as a result of any major enhancement of the med center.

Everybody making money long-term -- or lives saved through cancer research -- doesn't change the fact that nothing says "socialized medicine" like a state med school and a state hospital run by a state university.
Go Big Red, indeed!


MEANTIME, to borrow a quote from next semester's POLI 1002 required text, "Pay no attention to that comsymp behind the curtain!"
Ron Withem, an NU spokesman, said the university has worked well with the governor in the past and hopes to do so again this year. Withem said, however, that 30 "average Nebraskans" were among those testifying Thursday in support of NU's spending priorities before the budget-writing Appropriations Committee.

"There were nurses, students, medical professionals and cattle producers telling legislators that they should invest in economic development and health initiatives at the university," he said. "We think the average Nebraskans did speak yesterday."

Withem added that the state's largest business groups, including the Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce, also support the NU requests.

Several members of the Appropriations Committee have voiced support for the university project, although they doubted NU would get the entire $91 million. Much, they said, would depend on the health of the state economy and competing demands for state dollars, including the governor's tax-cut proposal.
IT'S A TERRIBLE thing when the chamber of commerce has been infiltrated, I'll tell you what.

Some people just don't get --
to put it mildly -- that today's best practices for state governance do not include investing taxpayer money in public institutions. Especially education.

The most recent literature in political science clearly indicates that the only message Nebraskans need to hear is "Lie back, have another cigarette, and think of Reagan."

Of course, it's an entirely different thing if we're merely
not putting money into state coffers in the name of non-socialistic private economic development. I mean, that money wasn't there in the first place, right?

Not putting money in isn't the same as spending taxpayers' money,
right? It's just giving a tax cut to future corporate citizens. Tax cuts are good. And if we have enough tax cuts, maybe more state employees will get pink slips.

"Hoo hooooooooo!"

STILL, one has to have standards and procedures -- even when it involves not making future corporate citizens pay taxes . . . so that Nebraska is the state to which they won't be paying taxes.

For one thing, you have to recognize the devil you know
(like the University of Nebraska), you know damned well is a devil. The devil you don't know -- like a secretive bunch of investor types who may or may not be from the West Coast -- you don't know is the devil at all. Really, they're probably great guys.

But we can't talk about it. Hell, we can't even know it. "N" stands for Nebraska, but it also stands for "no nowlege," which is always the best policy because "noing nothing" means there's one less thing you have to lie about.

In running a state's affairs, honesty, remember, is always the best policy. Unless, of course, it isn't.


And before we can move heaven and earth in the Legislature to give secretive investors massive tax breaks so that it's here they come to not pay taxes and build this really cool thing that might or might not be something that's really big and really high-tech, we have to know a few things. Like, we need to know that we only know their first names.

This, again, is consistent with best practices in the state-government racket. (See "no nowlege" above.)

We also need to make sure that the 30-something executives who want to not pay taxes here don't leave any business cards with anybody. And, like I said, we need to know that we don't know where they're from -- that's important.

Then, we need a fancy code name for whatever it is they won't be paying taxes on. The
World-Herald said something about "Project Edge." Ooh! That's got kind of a certain je ne sais quoi to it!

Again, it's pretty important that
je ne sais squat about quoi. Except that We Don't Know Who from We Don't Know Where are promising us a lot of Mystery Quoi.
But the potential economic impact of their project is no secret among state leaders: a projected $1.2 billion data center that could grow even larger.

It could bring a major high-tech business, one that would become the single-largest consumer of electricity in Nebraska.

The state is in hot pursuit of Project Edge, which is looking at breaking ground in May with an initial investment of $500 million.

State lawmakers are acting quickly to land the economic big fish, swiftly advancing two bills from committees last week in hopes of sweetening Nebraska's tax and electric-rate incentives to better compete with the reported main competitor for the project, neighboring Iowa.

"It's quite an extraordinary investment," said Gov. Dave Heineman, who has been involved in the recruitment effort. "We're one of the finalists, and I think we have an outstanding opportunity to have this occur."
[Emphasis mine.]

State Sen. Abbie Cornett of Bellevue, who is championing one of the data center bills, used the words "huge" and "unprecedented" to describe the business opportunity.

The first phase of the proposed Project Edge data center would be nearly three times larger than the $140 million, 175-job Yahoo data center lured to La Vista in 2009.

Project Edge is projected to become twice as large as the $600 million center that Google located in Council Bluffs in 2007. Nebraska officials say the proposed new center comes with the potential to expand even more than the $1.2 billion projection used by state officials.


WHAT WE
can take away from this is the absolute importance of distinguishing between a wealthy special-interest group with its hand out for taxpayer dollars and a wealthy special-interest group with its hand out for taxpayer dollars.

Providing state funds for a wealthy special-interest group affiliated with the people of Nebraska is bad --
offensively bad -- when it would further medical education, target a deadly disease that kills millions, enhance the prestige of the state university, eventually add to the state's tax revenues and be an economic windfall for the state's largest city.

Indirectly providing state funds for a wealthy special-interest group affiliated with men who
(as far as we know) have no last names and (as far as we know) have no permanent address is good -- the best thing ever!!! -- when whatever the hell it is they're promising just might be big. Really big. Bigger than that Google thing those damned Iowans have.

We think.

At least that's what they're saying. You know . . .
them.

But at least these Them aren't greedy public-university thems.
And that's good.

Because the guy who runs the state -- the guy in charge of the government -- says government is bad. And we believe him because he's a good guy.

Go ask Alice. I think she'll know.

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Pat's always the last to hear


Actually, God told Paul Krugman this long ago, the economic collapse thing.

Or. . . .

Great googly moogly, can you imagine how pissed Republicans would be if it turned out Paul Krugman were the Almighty?! Naw, I'm just spitballing here.


Then again, maybe God just got on the Internets, did a little crowdsourcing and then decided He would mess with the mind of a doddering old man by repeating memes and musing about the logical consequences of present sociopolitical trends.

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

I'll bet they stomp puppies, too


I don't believe in torture. I am willing, however, to consider an exception to this for certain multinational bankers after watching the above WSB-TV report.

Others well to my right, though, might think the real problem down in Georgia is that Fulton County sheriff's deputies are a bunch of squishy-soft socialists. For refusing to throw a 103-year-old woman and her 83-year-old daughter out of their house and onto the street after Deutsche Bank AG and JPMorgan Chase foreclosed on them, with the blessing of a local judge.

Chase, which services the loan for Deutsche Bank, took $25 billion in TARP money from the American taxpayer after investment bankers blew up the U.S. economy. And those who received much financial mercy from the American government and people showed none to two little old ladies in the dead of winter.

That is, until the TV cameras showed up, and the cops discovered that sometimes the law is no fit thing for a just man to enforce.



THERE'S EVEN a scripture for this. Let us turn to Matthew, Chapter 18:
21 Then Peter approaching asked him, “Lord, if my brother sins against me, how often must I forgive him? As many as seven times?”

22
Jesus answered, “I say to you, not seven times but seventy-seven times.

23
That is why the kingdom of heaven may be likened to a king who decided to settle accounts with his servants.

24
When he began the accounting, a debtor was brought before him who owed him a huge amount.

25
Since he had no way of paying it back, his master ordered him to be sold, along with his wife, his children, and all his property, in payment of the debt.


26
At that, the servant fell down, did him homage, and said, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay you back in full.’

27
Moved with compassion the master of that servant let him go and forgave him the loan.

28
When that servant had left, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a much smaller amount. He seized him and started to choke him, demanding, ‘Pay back what you owe.’

29 Falling to his knees, his fellow servant begged him, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay you back.’

30
But he refused. Instead, he had him put in prison until he paid back the debt.

31
Now when his fellow servants saw what had happened, they were deeply disturbed, and went to their master and reported the whole affair.

32
His master summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you your entire debt because you begged me to.


33
Should you not have had pity on your fellow servant, as I had pity on you?’

34 Then in anger his master handed him over to the torturers until he should pay back the whole debt.

35 So will my heavenly Father do to you, unless each of you forgives his brother from his heart.”
WATERBOARDING: It's not just for Muslim "enemy combatants."

I wonder whether the present crop of publicly God-fearing Republican presidential candidates -- some of whom are chomping at the bit to torture somebody . . .
anybody -- are willing to go there with the very folks the Bible says have it coming. Their pals the bankers.


Something tells me the answer is no.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Pigs fly. Europe over. End nigh.


Germany is the only country in Europe that can act to save the eurozone and the wider European Union from “a crisis of apocalyptic proportions”, the Polish foreign minister warned on Monday in a passionate call for more drastic action to prevent the collapse of the European monetary union.

The extraordinary appeal by Radoslaw Sikorski, delivered in the shadow of the Brandenburg Gate in the German capital, came as the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development called on European leaders to provide “credible and large enough firepower” to halt the sell-off in the eurozone sovereign debt market, or risk a severe recession.

The OECD’s comments came as the organisation slashed its half-yearly forecasts for growth in the world’s richest countries, warning that economic activity in Europe would grind to a near-halt.

Yet their calls were met by a stubborn insistence in Berlin that only EU treaty change to forge a “stability union” in the eurozone would revive confidence in the markets.

In a startling comment for a senior Polish minister, Mr Sikorski declared that the biggest threat to his nation’s security was not terrorism, or German tanks, or even Russian missiles, but “the collapse of the eurozone”.

“I demand of Germany that, for your own sake and for ours, you help it survive and prosper,” he said. “You know full well that nobody else can do it. I will probably be the first Polish foreign minister in history to say so, but here it is: I fear German power less than I am beginning to fear German inactivity. You have become Europe’s indispensable nation.


-- The Financial Times,
Nov. 28, 2011