Category Archives: Finance

On The Money; A Suit, a Cell Phone and a TV

On The Money;

Economics for the 99%

A Suit, A Cell Phone and a TV

suit cell and tv

According to the UN, in order to participate fully in American society, you need to have three things:

un

1, a suit, 2, a cell phone and 3, a TV set, which begs the question: Why would anyone in their right mind want to participate fully in American society? I own none of these things. I don’t miss them one bit, and I pity the poor people who have them. Think about it.

think-about-it-debbi-granruth

If you need a TV, I presume that you are expected to watch it too. That can’t be good for you. Don’t you have something better to do with your time in American society?

cat-makes-fun-of-your-television-show-selection

Then again, what can you do while wearing a suit?

dorcus sweat

You can pose for pictures. You can work at a desk. You can chat with other people wearing suits. You can walk a short distance, a couple of blocks or so, if it is paved, mowed, tiled or carpeted the whole way. You can watch TV, I suppose, and you can drink. If someone serves you, and you are very careful, you can eat, but that’s about it.

5322852-young-male-model-in-suit-speaking-on-phone-and-eating-bread

What can’t you do in a suit? Fix a car, build a house, paint, weld, cook, fish, hunt, climb a tree, hike the Appalachian Trail, have sex, mow the lawn, clean the bathroom, or pretty much anything else that you really need to do to survive, or would actually enjoy doing, you probably don’t want to do it in a suit.

Man in Suit Hiking

You cannot launder a suit. You must have it dry-cleaned. This costs money, and has the bonus of impregnating your clothes with toxic chemical residue, which you then breathe in, and absorb through your skin. Perchlorethylene, or “Perc” a ubiquitously used dry-cleaning solvent, causes cancer and acts as a powerful neurotoxin, so it makes you dumber before it kills you.

dry cleaning toxic

I imagine someone participating fully in American society, sitting there in front of the TV in their suit, poisoning body and mind, and then they pick up their cell phone.

C-Lockhorns-phone

I guess they use it to order food and have it delivered, or call their mechanic, or any of the other contractors who actually live their lives for them. Funny that the UN did not list “money” as one of the things that you needed to participate fully in American society.

man-phone-tv-computer-story-top

Really, if you have money, you don’t need a suit, you don’t need a TV and you don’t even need a cell phone. If you have enough money, you can afford to pay people to wear suits for you, make your phone calls for you and you can pay attractive and interesting people to sit on your own sofa and make idle chit-chat, so I really think the UN missed the boat on this one.

mediaburn

This is like saying that to participate fully in heroin addiction, you need a syringe, a spoon and a candle. No, if you are a heroin addict, you have a syringe, a spoon and a candle, but you need heroin. The syringe, spoon and candle are not going to help you get heroin. It’s only your sheer desperation and willingness to do anything for your fix, that gets you the heroin. That’s how you participate fully in heroin addiction.

12429628-recreational-drugs-cocaine-isolated-on-black-with-syringe

So it goes with American society. It’s only your willingness to do anything for money that makes you put on that toxic suit, and answer that blasted cell phone. The hypnotic glow of television is always there to absorb what little attention you have left at the end of the day, and insure that you never even imagine any other way to live. That’s what I’d call full participation in American society, and I pity anyone who does it.

PityTheFool


The Ballad of Bobcat McKee

The Ballad of Bobcat McKee

 bob mckee

I heard Dennis Huber interview Bob McKee this morning on KMUD’s Monday Morning Magazine show. I listened mainly because Bob McKee sounded so much like Bobcat Goldthwait. I thought, “Man if anyone can make real-estate law funny, it’s Bobcat”, but the punchlines never came.

 bobcat goldthwait

No, the joke was on me. I was listening to the desperate, quavering voice of a millionaire real-estate developer, whining about the fact that he broke the law, then fought the county in court, at tremendous expense to the taxpayers of Humboldt County, and lost. Now he hopes to drum up a wave of popular sympathy that he can use to force the county to let him off the hook.

 off the hook bail bonds

I’ve heard Bob Mckee interviewed at length on KMUD, at least half-a-dozen times, but I never noticed how much he sounded like Bobcat, until today. Thanks to all of these shows, I know more than I ever wanted to know about The Williamson Act, the law Bobcat violated. It sounds like a stupid law, but it only applies to landowners with large rural holdings, totaling, what, 1% of the total population of Humboldt County?

 1 percent burns

Well, Bob, we have a lot of stupid laws in Humboldt County. Most of them only apply to poor people. Poor people get punished for violating stupid laws in this county, every hour of every day. Poor people get punished in this county, even when they haven’t violated any stupid laws, and the county gets away with it, because poor people don’t have six million dollars to spend on their own defense. I wonder why we don’t hear much about those people on KMUD.

 1 percent problems

Personally, I’m glad the county spent six million dollars of the taxpayers money to prosecute Bobcat, and I want them to spend whatever it takes to punish him for his stupid Williamson Act violations. I hope they seize all of his property, demolish his home, take his kids away from him and throw him in jail for it, just like they do to poor people around here every day. It would reassure me greatly to know that we have injustice for the rich, as well as the poor here in Humboldt County.

 cops beating w nightstick

While I have learned a lot about the stupid Williamson Act, thanks to all of the in-depth interviews on KMUD, and full page ads in our local papers, I haven’t seen anything that leads me to believe that Bob McKee did not violate the law. For all of your high profile, mostly bought and paid for, media coverage, Bob, you really haven’t made your case very effectively.

 make.your.case.

I know that Bob McKee has a lot of friends down here in SoHum. Every blood-sucking dope-yuppie around here talks about Bob McKee in glowing terms, because he sold them logged-over timber land at a price almost anyone could afford, and they got rich off of that land by flouting the law. Now Bob seems to be saying, “Hey, I helped you get rich off of your criminal behavior, now come help me get rich off of mine.”

 criminal behavior

It really amazes me how many of KMUD’s programmers have answered Bobcat’s call to action. Bud Rogers even immortalized Bob McKee in a song. That’s how fucking sick we are down here in SoHum. We sing folk songs about real-estate developers. Can you imagine Bob Dylan singing about a real-estate developer?

Ol’ Bob, he knew how to cut parcels in two.

He sold half to me and he sold half to you

The county, it said he had broken a rule

He spent six million fighting them just like a fool.

Now he wants you to come out and stand by his side

But I think they should just take it out of his hide.”

bob_dylan

Those aren’t the lyrics to Bud Rogers’ song, but you can imaging Bob Dylan singing them, at least I can. Musicians should save their folk songs for people who can’t afford to hire their own jingle writers. Really, artists need all of the paid work they can get.

 jingle writer

I know Bob McKee donates a lot to KMUD. I mean, it’s pretty widely known, and I have been there at the pledge drive when Bob McKee stopped by to make a donation (and talk about his case, incidentally), but the fact was not mentioned on Monday Morning Magazine.

 kmud

Dennis followed his half-hour interview with Bobcat, by badgering Humboldt County Supervisor, Mark Lovelace, with a bunch of loaded questions about, you guessed it, Bob McKee’s Tooby Ranch Williamson Act case, as though Bob McKee’s Tooby Ranch Williamson Act case was the biggest scandal in the county’s history.

 bob mckee tooby ranch

Bob McKee never made me a great deal on a piece of land, nor has he donated money to support this blog. No, my opinion of Bob McKee was forged when I heard him say, on KMUD, in an interview with Bud Rogers: “Well, you know, there’s a lot of poor people around here these days. I can’t do anything about that. I hate to tell people what they’ll have to pay for a piece of land these days.”

 Homeless-And-Cold

Guess what, Bobcat. I’d love to want to care about your stupid lawsuit, but we have a lot of stupid laws here in Humboldt County, and we have a corrupt, brutal and abusive county government. The streets of Humboldt County are full of victims of injustice and abuse, and there’s nothing I can do about it. I’d hate to tell you what I’d charge to write you a catchy jingle.

worlds smallest violin


Dear Santa

this piece should appear as a “letter to the editor” in The Independent and The Redwood Times this week.

dear santa

Dear Santa,

Dear-Santa

This Christmas I found a very special gift beneath a fir tree, about half a mile from my home, a cracked and leaking 12v deep-cycle marine battery. I found the battery behind a fir tree, about 6ft from the road, where it had been carefully placed to be invisible to the motorists who pass by. Fortunately I walk that stretch of road nearly every day, so I found my holiday gift before most of the lead and acid could leak into the nearby stream.

deep-cycle

I realize that folks around here don’t seem especially concerned about the serious environmental crisis you face at the North Pole, what with the ice caps melting and all, but really Santa, have you lost your mind? Lead and battery acid are incredibly toxic to fish and wildlife, and I’m pretty sure that a 40lb slab of heavy metal pollution was not on the Mattole River’s Christmas list this year.

polar bear

However, you know how much I love to recycle, and a battery like that is worth about seven dollars to the good people at the recycling place in Redway, right across from the hardware store. Seven dollars folks, for one battery, cash on the barrel-head, no questions asked. That’s real money! That’s enough to buy a fat burrito from Nacho Mama. Seven bucks will buy enough diesel fuel to get you back and forth to town in your huge jacked-up pickup truck. Really, who couldn’t use $7?

seven-dollars1

So, if you’ve got dead, useless 12v automotive, marine, deep-cycle, golf cart, solar system, or any other type of lead-acid battery lying around, don’t re-gift them to your watershed. I know you are glad to see the salmon return, but the salmon don’t want your leftover poison. Instead, bring your dead batteries to town, and trade them in for cold hard cash, in Redway.

redway_dribbble


Crack Heads, Flu Season, Fake Crises and Bill Gates

Crack Heads, Flu Season, Fake Crises and Bill Gates

 gates gilligan

Look, I know most of you don’t read this blog to learn about economics or for articles about science. You should. Just because I’m a fool, doesn’t mean I don’t know what I’m talking about, but I know you don’t give a shit about economics or science, you just want me to say something stupid enough for you to chuckle at, and make it snappy. I know I’m just a short stop on your craven quest for amusement.

craven cigarettes

For you, immediate gratification takes too long. You don’t want context, edification, or even a set-up. You don’t even want to read a punchline, you just want the punch. You’re looking for a crack-house where you can free-base funny. Even a one-liner is too long, if it’s over 140 characters. You’re like, alright, I’ll read one line, but skip the vowels and punctuation, I haven’t got all day.

twit-on-twitter

So flu season is upon us again. This year many Americans will contract the Mexican Swine Flu because they can no longer afford German Measles. I suggest they hold out for the Chinese Bird Flu. I’m sure it will be a bargain. Some people won’t be able to make up their minds, they’ll be like “Mexican or Chinese… I had Chinese for lunch, I’ll have Mexican flu this year”. With the Chinese Bird Flu you wish you were dead, and you think you can fly, but if you sweat it out 14 hours a day seven days a week you can survive it. Speaking of China, what do people in China call their nice plates? …And why doesn’t anyone catch American made diseases anymore?

chinese bird flu

Speaking of American made diseases, while Congress wrestles with the ‘Fiscal Cliff” and the “Debt Ceiling” I though I might help them get a jump on their next fake crisis scam. How about these fake-crisis-scam names:

Scam alert

“Taxageddon”

taxageddon

“Financial Firestorm”

financial firestorm

“The Deathstar of Debt”

DeathStar of debt

“Economic Tsunami”

economic tsunami

“Entitlement Apocalypse”

entitlement apocalypse

“Health-Care Holocaust”

health care holocaust

“Thermonuclear Budget Bomb”

bubget bomb

Don’t those all sound scary? I now own the copyright to all of these fake-crisis-scam names, and dozens more. I would be happy to license any of them to Congress and the media.

contract

I got this brilliant idea after I realized that if I had a nickle for every time a politician or media pundit mentioned “the Fiscal Cliff”, I could afford to hire Bill Gates to empty my ashtray and clean my bong. So keep some pipe cleaners in your pocket-protector Bill, the next fake crisis scam is right around the corner.

pocket protecter w pipe cleaners


On The Money; What Middle-Class?

On The Money

Economics for the 99%

What Middle-Class?

 middle class

If you took a drink every time you heard a politician say “middle-class”, you could have stayed smashed since last January. Isn’t it strange that here in the US, where “Marxism” “communism” or even “socialism” have become foul language, the Marxist concept of an expanding middle-class remains hugely popular. So much so, that every politician in America constantly promises to help grow the middle-class.

drinking contest

For a while in the US, we had a real middle-class. Strong labor unions organized workers and wages rose for workers as a result. Thanks to unions like the Teamsters, the AFL-CIO and the UAW, working people enjoyed home-ownership and considerable creature comforts. This was the age of Levittown houses and populux consumerism, and a brand new vision of widespread middle-class affluence that came to be known as the American Dream.

american_dream

Just like Marx predicted, workers organized, took control of the means of production, demanded higher wages, and the middle-class was born. And, for a while, it persisted, until capitalists found plenty of cheap, unorganized labor in China. Today, that middle-class has mostly retired. Thirty years of union-busting, outsourcing, downsizing, and wage stagnation have exacted a huge toll on the middle-class. In fact, you’d hardly recognize it today.

chinese_labor

Today, instead of an economy based on manufacturing, we have a service based economy brimming with low-wage, high-stress customer-service jobs. Facing lower wages (the “new normal”), higher housing, food, energy and health-care costs, the standard of living for most American workers has plunged precipitously in the last twenty years. Strangely, we still think of ourselves as middle-class.

MiddleClassPoll

Hey, our parents were middle-class, doesn’t that automatically make us middle-class too? Like it was genetic or something, but no, you are not middle-class anymore. The fact that you have three roommates helping to pay the rent should clue you in to that. The middle-class has vanished.

middle-class stinking

In the crater left by the imploding middle-class, we find the bourgeois. That is, the landlords, lawyers, cops, and businessmen, the people who most directly serve, and emulate the super-rich, the ones who already had money before the middle-class was born. These people are happy to be rid of the riffraff, and glad to have a whole new underclass of people to exploit.

landlord wannabe

That’s why you hear politicians talk so much about “the middle-class”. They know that the term only really applies to retirees from that bygone era, and their bourgeois, landlord/cop/lawyer/businessman supporters whose asses they already kiss. They know that a lot of people, who do not own property, or stocks, or investment income, but instead work for a living, at low wages, still identify with the middle-class, even though they got kicked out of the club decades ago.

middle class

When politicians promise to help the middle-class, they don’t mean that they will help you become middle-class. They mean that they will hold you down so the bourgeois can fuck you over. If you don’t like this old French term, call them the gentry, or the property owning class, or better yet, the landlords. Would you vote for a candidate who promised to help landlords? How about a candidate who promised to punish landlords? Now we’re talking, am I right?

landlord gets his

We have good reason to despise landlords, as we do cops, lawyers prisons and politicians, and they have all earned our contempt. Don’t dress them up in picket-fence-leave-it-to-beaver imagery, and then pretend like you live there too. The middle-class, Marxism, and the Berlin Wall all crumbled to dust a long time ago. It’s time to face facts, and call a spade a spade. The middle-class is dead, or at least retired, and the bourgeois are not on your side, and the politicians who promise to help them are not your friends. There’s a view of the middle-class that’s On The money.

american-dream


On The Money; An All-Cut Solution to the Budget Impasse

On The Money;

Economics for the 99%

An All-Cut Solution to the Budget Impasse

While a strong consensus exists among the American people to tax the rich, the rich themselves have enough political clout to insure that they won’t pay any more in taxes, unless they also see drastic cuts to the social safety net, already the weakest in the developed world. So really, what’s the point?

If all of our tax dollars will go to pay for more cops, prisons, guards, bombs, soldiers, drones and high-tech surveillance equipment, while it leaves millions of Americans homeless and out in the cold, why bother? Why throw good money after bad? I say it’s time to cut our losses, cut the crap, and cut to the chase.

Yes, it’s time to cut to the bone, through the bone, the spinal column, the carotid arteries and the windpipe, and the time to do it is NOW!!! There’s never been a better time, and no one has ever deserved it more. It’s time to AXE THE RICH!!

Really, what have the rich ever done for you? If you work for them, you know those jobs suck, and that they will work you to death, and destroy the whole world just to take a little more for themselves. It’s time to rid the world of this sickness called greed, and to do it, we must cull the herd. We must exterminate those already terminally infected with this pathogen so they don’t infect others, and this bloodletting will help inoculate the rest of the population.

As long as we live in a culture that protects, rewards, and celebrates greed, we live in a culture bent on ecocide. Every sustainable culture on Earth punishes greed, and every culture that fails to do so, also fails as a culture, and fails to survive. If you examine the cultures around the world that have endured for more than, say, 40,000 years, without depleting their resource base, you will find egalitarian societies that maintain their equality by punishing greed.

Sustainable tribal cultures treat greed as a childish tendency, to be scorned. Those who refuse to grow out of their childish selfishness are driven out of the tribe, or killed, though this is rare, because the benefits of living in an egalitarian society, far out-weigh any benefits one can achieve living alone with their avarice.

That is how sustainable cultures deal with greed. They recognize that violence is a natural part of life, and while they do not undertake it lightly, they do not shy away from it when violence becomes necessary. For them, violence is sometimes necessary to feed and clothe themselves and to preserve their culture and way of life. Sustainable cultures embrace and celebrate this kind of violence, but they do not tolerate greed. If we wish to live sustainably on this planet, we should emulate the people who do it best, and have been doing it the longest.

We cannot afford to continue to coddle, cultivate and incubate the most virulent disease to ever afflict humanity. We must wipe greed off of the face of the Earth, and we need to do it now. We can learn to live differently, but we must first stop the spread of this plague. If we love our children, and want a better future for them, we must not shrink from this responsibility.

That, my friends, is a plan to solve our budget crisis, entirely with cuts, that’s On The Money.


On The Money; What’s Weird About Health Care in America

On The Money

Economics for the 99%

What’s Weird About Health Care in America

 

I don’t read the New York Times because New Yorkers have all lost their minds. If “the Gray Lady” ever published an above the fold headline proclaiming “We’re Live in a Cockroach Infested, Piss Drenched, Rat Maze and We Fuck the World Over by Remote Control, for What? Spiderman?!?” I might believe New Yorkers had finally come to their senses, but I don’t see that happening any time soon.

I don’t watch Fox News, or Comedy Central. I’ve seen Bill O’Reilly and Steve Colbert. One’s a little scarier and ones a little funnier, but it’s all the same idiocy, and that gets depressing, so I don’t bother with them. I don’t look at The Economist, The Wall St. Journal or Barron’s, because I figure that as long as they’ve got something to write about, we’re all doomed.

However, I do think it important to stay informed about the world around me, so I always make a point of reading Chuck Sheppard’s News of the Weird, and so should you. If you had read News of the Weird this month, you would have read the following story, which tells you everything you need to know about health-care costs in America. The following paragraph appeared in News of the Weird this month, under the heading:

Leading Economic Indicators

Scorpion anti-venom, made in Mexico, sells in Mexico, for about $100 a dose, but for a while over the past year, the going rate in the emergency room of the Chandler (Arizona) Regional Medical Center was $39,652 a dose, charged to Marci Edmonds, who was stung while opening a box of air-conditioner filters. She received two doses by IV and was released after three hours, to later find a co-pay bill of $25,537 awaiting her (with her Humana plan picking up $57,509), according to the Arizona Republic newspaper. The Republic found that Arizona hospitals routinely retail scorpion anti-venom for between $7,900 and $12,467 per dose – except for Chandler. Following the newspapers report, Chandler decided to re-price the anti-venom at $8,000 a dose, thus eating a $31,652 “loss.”

This was no typo or computer error. That was the real price Chandler had set for a dose of scorpion anti-venom in their ER. You’ll notice that Humana didn’t bat an eyelash about paying almost $60,000 for a three-hour hospital stay. They were quite happy to simply pass those costs on to you, in the form of higher premiums. It was only after The Arizona Republic reported the story, that the Chandler Regional Medical Center reduced its price for a dose of scorpion anti-venom to the lower end of the range of astronomically high prices charged by other Arizona hospitals.

Just for reference, a pound of marijuana also sells for about $100 in Mexico, but only retails for about $1,000 in Arizona. That’s because, compared to hospitals and insurance companies, Mexican drug cartels are run by good honest businessmen.

For the same price as her three hour IV drip in the ER, Marci could have spent the whole night in a luxury suite in a Las Vegas resort hotel, and enjoyed the services of sixteen Elliot Spitzer class, $5,000 a trick prostitutes, with enough money left over to cover the mini-bar bill and cab fare home.

Instead, she had the misfortune of being stung by a scorpion in a rural part of Arizona, where they have a lot of scorpions, but only one hospital, and she lives in a country where the whole health care system is set up to fuck you the hardest when you are the most vulnerable.

Scorpions only sting in self-defense, but hospital administrators and insurance executives intend to eat you for dinner. There’s a view of Health Care in America that’s On The Money


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