Be Thankful You Have A Job And Other Corporatist Hogwash

image showing A Walmart protest in Maryland in 2012

There was an organized protest of Walmart employees timed for the largest shopping day known as Black Friday. Some cheap labor Republicans complained about the protests saying it was an attack on job creators by Unions. One of my conservative friends said that people should be thankful to have a job. When I hear that excuse for poor treatment of workers it makes me mad. Walmart is one of the worse offenders and if we didn’t have laws against sweat shops they would probably do that too.

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“But Rep. Paul Ryan has a BA in economics…”

Rep. Paul Ryan has a BS in Economics

What really drives me insane about the debt ceiling debate and discussions about cutting spending when the economy is in the tank is the politicians in DC ignoring the people who actually do economics as a job. Paul Ryan’s budget, Obama’s grand bargain, and the final deal all ignore the economic facts. Recently a tea party Republican was schooled by the Congressional Budget Office and I think all cheap labor conservatives need to read the detail of the event.

I had the following conversation with a conservative friend of mine recently:

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American Capitalism: short term gain and screw the future

My one major complaint about American style capitalism or a better term would be corporatism, is the need for short term gain at the expense of the future. Corporations and their lackeys in the Congress seem to bend over backward to protect profits but ignore the consequences of that short sightedness. Take for example the comments made by Rep Jim Jordan (R-OH4) and Marathon Petroleum Co. President Gary Heminger on Thursday to the Findlay Courier concerning the proposed carbon cap and trade program.

U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan and Marathon Petroleum Co. President Gary Heminger on Thursday said congressional Democrats’ plans to reduce carbon emissions would raise utility bills and kill jobs.

The hardship to the 4th District would be compounded by its large number of manufacturers, whose costs would climb. The Democrats’ plan would be a “job killer,” Jordan said.

“It takes a lot of energy to manufacture things,” he said. “We are a huge manufacturing district.”

A study by The Heritage Foundation, a public policy research institute, said the 4th Congressional District would be the fourth hardest hit in the nation.

Marathon employees also are vulnerable, Heminger said.

“I talk to our employees (and tell them) … ‘What this does, is, this is going to eliminate your job. It is not just an extra 50 cents, a dollar, whatever per gallon at the pump, and whatever the increment is in your electricity bill, or your natural gas bill,'” Heminger said. “‘But it is going to eliminate one of the largest industries in the country.'”

Marathon, Jordan warn about ‘job killer’ legislation

Yes, a carbon cap and trade program would force a change in how we do business. The change though is for a future long term benefit by leveling the playing field. The one obstacle to a clean energy economy is the cost. A cap and trade program would remove that obstacle.

Leveling the playing field by forcing fossil-fuel prices to reflect their true cost will spur a wave of clean-energy investment: research and development in new technologies, new factories to produce solar panels and wind turbines, and energy-efficiency retrofits of commercial and residential real estate. That means jobs, and lots of them. While some businesses that rely on dirty energy will be hurt, many others will thrive in the clean-energy economy.

Most carbon cap plans are set up to fail because they reward energy companies with permit giveaways and fail to compensate consumers for increased electricity bills. One such proposal hit the Senate floor last year, only to collapse under the weight of too much spending and not enough protection for the middle class. Obama’s cap-and-refund plan avoids these mistakes.

Obama’s Carbon Cap-and-Trade Plan Can Boost Growth

A clean energy economy would help reduce climate change, improve the health of the population, add to our national security by removing our dependence on foreign oil, and bring about greater technology investment.

We may have to buy electric cars that cost $40,000 but the technology is still pretty new. Heminger doesn’t seem to be aware of Moore’s law in the computer industry and that would happen in the electric car industry as we move forward. Five or six years ago I had to spend about $20 for a compact florescent light bulb, now you can buy them for less than $10. When consumer VCRs came on the market you had to spend thousands of dollars now you can buy one for less than $20 – if you can find one.

We must change our energy policy and get rid of the dirty fuel. I would much rather do it now while the transition costs are relatively low then be forced to do it through some major crisis like the melting of the ice caps or cut off of foreign oil when it will cost us all much more.

Why do Wall Street Bonuses cause complaints? It is simple math and common sense

Everyone knows about the bail out of the nation financial institutions after they risked too much on junk assets that failed to deliver. Most people also should know that after getting the tax payer funded bail out some of these same banks, investment houses, and insurance agencies used that money to pay billions of dollars in “bonuses” to CEOs and employees. Even though such pay outs look stupid and in this case they are, it isn’t because the workers may not deserve it but it is simple math.

Some business experts have tried to cast bonuses as commissions earned for sales. But again if there are no sales how can you justify a bonus. It is still simple math. If you have red ink on the books then you shouldn’t have any money to pay for bonuses.

The bigger question might be why there will be bonuses at all.

After all, even if bonuses fall 50 percent, that hardly matches the drop in profits and revenues plaguing Wall Street. At Lehman Brothers, the employees still left are expected to receive $3.5 billion in bonuses from the firm’s new owners, Barclays Capital and Nomura.

In a system where huge profits bring huge rewards and huge losses bring, well, smaller rewards, can you blame Wall Streeters for taking big risks in hopes of getting the brass ring?

Take a look at what happened to banks in 2007: Citigroup, for example, reported a profit of $3.6 billion, down 83 percent from the previous year. Many other firms saw similar declines. Yet bonuses across Wall Street declined only 4.7 percent from the year before. The payout was $33.2 billion, according to DiNapoli.

Open season on the Wall Street bonus

That’s why I get upset about Wall Street people like John Thain and others who still pay out bonus out of whack from reality.

I’ve been taught that bonuses are tied to the performance of myself and the company I work for, and all the places I’ve worked have done that it that way.

At my current job, there are certain benchmarks I have to meet in order to qualify for a monthly bonus and the size is set based on how I did, above that initial bar. The current maximum is 12% of my base pay if I hit 100% of all the benchmarks.

Our managers, on the other hand, get a bonus based on how all of us do in reaching certain goals for the company for that month.

At another job I worked, which was a retail company, bonuses were tied to the “Earnings Before Taxes” of the company. The amount you got depended on the percentage your department contributed to the EBT. At that job, I worked long enough to get one bonus and it was $600 after taxes. I still have the TV I bought with it.

The common wisdom is if you have lost money there should be no bonuses paid out. That’s why people are pissed off about Wall Street bonuses.

McCain and Palin hope Findlay people are stupid

Sarah Palin gave a stump speech at the University of Findlay in Findlay Ohio on Wednesday. It was her standard stump speech tweaked to give the Findlay faithful a shout out. Unfortunately, many of the items she pointed out weren’t truthful but the crowd responded as if it were true. It’ss ironic because back in June much of Findlay were up in arms when a Washington Post reporter did a story about some people who believed the various false rumors about Barack Obama. I guess McCain and Palin think Findlay people are stupid.

“He got our opponent to state his intentions in plain language. Senator Obama says now he wants to spread the wealth. What that means is government takes your money and doles it out however a policitian sees fit,” Mrs. Palin said to big cheers.

“Barack Obama calls it spreading the wealth. Joe Biden calls it patriotic. From right here in Ohio, Joe the Plumber said to him it sounded like socialism,” Mrs. Palin said.

She claimed that Mr. Obama wasn’t happy about the encounter.

“It seems their staged photo op got ruined by a real person’s question,” she said.

Palin hands it to ‘Joe the Plumber’ during Findlay appearance

Both John McCain and Palin have been hammering on this “share the wealth” mantra even calling Obama a Socialist.

What is failed to be reported is that in the exchange with “Joe the Plumber”, Obama didn’t say he would take Joe’s money and give it away or redistribute it. Here is the transcript from the video of the exchange in Holland, Ohio:

Obama: And I do believe that for folks like me who are, you know, have worked hard but, frankly, also been lucky, I don’t mind paying just a little bit more than the waitress who I just met over there, who’s … things are slow and she can barely make the rent. Because my attitude is that if the economy’s good for folks from the bottom up, it’s gonna be good for everybody. If you’ve got a plumbing business, you’re gonna be better off if you’ve got a whole bunch of customers who can afford to hire you. And right now, everybody’s so pinched that business is bad for everybody. And I think when you spread the wealth around, it’s good for everybody. But, listen, I respect what you do and I respect your question. And even if I don’t get your vote, I’m still gonna be working hard on your behalf ’cause I want to make sure … small businesses are what creates jobs in this country and I want to encourage it. All right.

Joe The Plumber: A Transcript

Here is the actual video of the encounter. The part I quoted above begins about the 4 minute mark of the 5 and half minute video.

Now if one understands English, the context is quite clear. Obama believes, as many people do that when everybody has money to spend then everyone benefits and that the foundation of economics in the US is the small business. This is the opposite view of people who favor the trickle down idea – giving tax breaks to the rich in the hopes their spending will trickle down to the rest of us. Obama’s view is the bottom up idea. Cutting taxes for those below the $250,000 income level would free up money for a large portion of people.

Cutting taxes for the rich and those who invest doesn’t put money in people’s pocket quick enough to help small businesses – if at all. It isn’t socialism just a different idea on how to fix the economy.

Of course Palin and McCain knows all this. Back in 2000, John McCain said much the same thing that Obama said to “Joe”:

Just another example of how indispensable Jon Stewart and the Daily Show are, catching things the media don’t. McCain and Palin (indeed, the entire GOP establishment) have been bashing Obama as a “socialist” the past few days for having the audacity to propose raising the top tax rate from 36% to 39% while giving working folks (95% of the rest of us) some relief. The only problem: Stewart dug up footage of McCain making the exact same argument a scant eight years ago.

Stewart: “Now you can argue that this country has dabbled in socialism ever since the income tax was introduced, and that calling Obama’s plan ‘socialist’ is a cynical ploy that even McCain realizes is a bankrupt tactic. Or, should I say, realized.”

Audience member: “Why is it that someone like my father who goes to school for 13 years gets penalized in a huge tax bracket because he’s a doctor.”

McCain: “I think it’s to some degree because we feel obviously that wealthy people can afford more.”

Audience member: “Are we getting closer and closer to, like, socialism?”

McCain: “Here’s what I really believe: That when you reach a certain level of comfort, there’s nothing wrong with paying somewhat more.”

Stewart: “That, of course, is the late socialist leader John Mccain. I believe he passed away during the Republican primaries. He will be missed.”

Daily Show Flashback: McCain is a “socialist”, too!

McCain and Palin are counting on Findlay citizens to be stupid and based on the cheers during Palin’s speech, it seems they might be right – or they are hypnotized by her flashy wardrobe.