Tag Archive | "corporate America"

Piling On

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In the world of professional sports, when players pile on top of one another, there usually is a penalty to pay.  But, in the United States of America, when corporations pile on top of overburdened taxpayers, Big Business gets off Scot-free each and every time.


Consider, if you will, the price of gas.  Even before OPEC shuts off the world’s supply of oil, a familiar scenario at the gas pumps ensues, like that line from the old Cole Porter song about repeating and repeating in your ear.  The scenario begins with taxpayers getting stiffed as the prices at the pumps creep upward with each passing day and the media heralding this information — as if it takes investigative reporters to alert the American public that it is once more getting the shaft from the people that gave us the Great Recession.  We, the suckers, bailed out Big Business to the tune of $710 billion, to avoid an alleged financial calamity.  But even with the bailout, the calamity occurred: taxpayers were hit with rampant unemployment as well as escalating prices.


Our dependence on foreign oil has existed for more than a century.  This issue is kicked around and around the halls of Congress as a necessary evil, yet all our fearless leaders do is argue with each other instead of providing us with viable solutions.  We are told ad infinitum that we have alternatives to foreign oil, alternatives that include natural gas, shale oil, oil from a friendly nation (Canada), clean coal, and green energy such as wind power.  With all of this alternative energy, we could easily leave our dependency on oil from unfriendly, price-gouging countries in the dust of their own deserts.


But, not only do we continue to line the pockets of these oil-rich nations in exchange for their black gold, our lawmakers add insult to injury by sending them foreign aid (hard-earned taxpayer money).  Let one tsunami or earthquake occur   on foreign soil, and we respond immediately, sending millions of taxpayer dollars to the affected — even if they hate our guts!  $140 millions American taxpayer dollars were poured into helping the victims of the earthquakes in Haiti.  Yet, no one can account for where the money actually went!  Has the United States become a collection of masochists or fools?  Or has it become a nation ruled by “the haves” who play as fast and loose with taxpayer money as gamblers blithely rolling the dice in Las Vegas casinos?


Washington, as usual, turns a blind eye to the plight of our citizens.  The legislators in our nation’s capital rail that our problems stem from entitlements that are to blame for our economic woes.  Yet, “entitlements” such as Social Security and Medicare are funded by government-mandated taxes!  You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to figure out that, with 10% or more of the working class unemployed, and our young people migrating overseas to find jobs, these programs are doomed in the future.


Instead of continuing to pile on to the little guy, why doesn’t government mandate that corporations keep jobs on American soil?   Let’s put the shoe on the other foot.  With such mandates, the percentage of outsourced jobs would be negligible.  More Americans would be gainfully employed, creating disposable incomes that, in turn, would create larger markets for manufacturers.


On the opposite side of the employer coin lie the entrepreneurs, that ambitious breed of emerging business professional that creates jobs for others and actually built this country.  Why not give tax breaks to entrepreneurs, after they have passed a means test to see if the number of jobs they create is worthy of the tax breaks?


These are win-win situations.  But they are not happening, because our lawmakers are paid off by big business to turn a blind eye to the plight of the taxpayers.  And that bribe money is only the icing on the cake.  If Washington is so concerned about entitlements, why not deep-six the entitlements of our career politicians?  Entitled to separate retirement plans and all the perks that go with the job, no wonder so many lawmakers die in office!


How long must the American people endure this kind of treatment before saying “Enough is enough!”?  Charity must begin at home. The dream of owning a home in America is now nothing more than a fairytale.  The reality is that unless jobs come back to America, unless we stop throwing hard-earned taxpayer money at undeserving nations and into the pockets of filthy-rich CEOs and politicians, we ourselves will become a third-world nation.  I wonder who the filthy rich CEOs and politicians will prey upon, then. 


Baloney!

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Youth equals naïveté.  In our youth, we accept things presented as fact, even if they are untrue, because of our inexperience.  We assume that as we mature, we will be better equipped to separate fact from fiction.  This assumption leads to the perception that we will significantly reduce the baloney told to us, and/or perpetrated by, others.  But when the baloney is stacked high enough to fill a cold-cut factory and then some, we fight a losing battle.


Case in point:


Our law states that any person born in the United States, who holds U.S. citizenship, may run for public office.  While the letter of the law is factual, the underlying truth is that only the wealthy can compete effectively in a political race.  Big bucks allow candidates to air advertisements and bash their opponents on TV and radio.  Big bucks allow candidates to flit about the country, waving the flag, shaking hands, and kissing babies.


While Washington claims that our government is penniless, our two-party candidates are projected to spend $2 billion currying votes for the 2012 Presidential election.  Sixty-eight million of that staggering sum has already been amassed by our incumbent President, who has once again hit the campaign trail.  Since average citizens don’t have this kind of money, the wealthy slip like butter into political office.


Movies such as the classic Mr. Smith Goes to Washington have perpetrated the baloney that honest, everyday people represent us in Congress and the White House.  Clearly, they don’t.  In the current Presidential debates, it’s plain to see how candidates prostitute themselves to achieve the Holy Grail (a lifetime in office).  And to retain the Holy Grail, once in power, legislators build their war chests to perpetuate their jobs.


The legislators are, of course, in bed with Corporate America, who continues to slice and pile the baloney high.  We taxpayers are told that Corporate America is sitting on billions of dollars, waiting to see what the future holds for them.  If the past is indeed prologue, like it says on that statue in Washington, DC, then the future looks rosy for Corporate America.  Who among us has forgotten the special tax offered to big business, not to mention $710 billion in bailout money handed out freely like candy on Halloween?


And what did the average taxpayers get?  We got the shaft, that’s what we got!  In return for robbing us of $710 billion in tax money, Corporate America never stopped outsourcing jobs to foreign countries.  Had Corporate America been grateful for the bailout and returned manufacturing to the U.S., countless Americans would be gainfully employed and our economy would be a hell of a lot stronger.  So much for JFK’s pointed directive to the nation, “Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country.”


It’s nothing but baloney.  I like my bologna with mustard on rye, not spewed by lying, backstabbing weasels in government and big business!


Free Enterprise?

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Historically, America has always been known as a country with a system of free enterprise, but is this still true?  “Free enterprise” means that a private citizen is at liberty to establish, operate, and earn a profit from some type of business that produces or distributes products, or provides a service.  This capitalist system, as once protected by our government, enabled citizens to put food on the table and make a better life for their children.  Other countries have different types of economies and forms of government.  Interestingly, there is an old saying that claims the best form of government is a benevolent dictator, for he alone regulates his nation and provides for his subjects.

 

Although Robin Hood, a fictional hero, was never crowned king, he did turn the tables on a non-benevolent dictator, a pro tempis despot who ruled Merry Olde England, including Sherwood Forest.  Robin Hood was an earl who, without the king’s permission, had killed a deer roaming the forest.  Under the law, the king owned not only the forest, which should have been public land, but also everything that lived on it.  Robin’s act constituted a crime.  But instead of reaping a punishment, he fled into Sherwood Forest, became an outlaw, joined forces with, and eventually lead also others suffering at the hands of the greedy king.


Angered by the injustices of a system that forced people to starve while the king enjoyed the excesses of his wealth and power, Robin and his band of Merry Men stole from the rich and gave to the poor.  The story ended happily when the rightful king returned from the Crusades and Robin Hood was knighted for his vision and leadership.


This, of course is a fairytale.  In this nation, if you steal from the rich to feed and empower the poor, your ass winds up in jail.  Well, what happens when you try to go the legal route vis a vis free enterprise? Can you, as a free person living in America, start a business without permission from the government?  The answer is “No.”


First, you must apply and be approved for a business license.  Then you are subject to inspection regulations and taxes — all before you have even earned a dime!   In addition, the site upon which you choose to establish your business may require the approval of your neighbors.  You can’t even shoot a deer without permission.  I believe that you can still shoot a moose in Alaska … well, Sarah Palin, for one, does … in order to put meat on your table.  But the majority of Americans live in the “Lower 48.”


So where is all this freedom that our politicians claim that we possess?  Is it simply rhetoric, a bone tossed to the principles upon which this once-great nation was built?   Or is it a placebo, a sugar pill pushed onto angry taxpayers to keep the masses quiet?


The truth of the matter is, that true freedom, like the tale of Robin Hood, is pure fiction.   Freedom of choice and freedom from want exists only in the minds of poets, writers, and of course, the politicians who seek fortune, fame, and power, all at our expense.


The United States of America has changed drastically from what its Founding Fathers envisioned.  The land of the free and the home of the brave is now a caste system, with the tiers of power defined by the wealth that one accumulates.   Wealth has bought, indeed extorted, the keys to the kingdom.   The wealthy heads of Corporate America have bought off our greedy and immoral elected leaders, murdered our tenets, and made virtual slaves of our average citizens.


Between escalating taxes, rising unemployment, whole industries outsourced overseas, and benefits for illegal aliens for which native-born Americans are forced to pay, the average citizen digs himself further into a financial hole even as he works his butt off.


But, never fear.  As  Sean Hannity says at the close of his Fox News program, “Let not your heart be troubled.” 

The Pledge

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Storm clouds are gathering over the upcoming 2010 elections, as they do most election cycles.   But these clouds are darker than those that have preceded them.  As Republicans and Democrats in the House and Senate vie for our votes, each party promises the best type of control over government so as to resolve our national crises. 


The Democrat Party has pledged healthcare reform, oversight of the financial industry, workforce stimulus, transparency in government, and anything else it deems beneficial for the people (or at least, beneficial for garnering votes).  In the short time that the Democrats have controlled government, they have achieved healthcare reform, oversight of the financial industry, and workforce stimulus.  I guess you can’t win ’em all. Or, to paraphrase Meatloaf, the musical legend, “Three out of four ain’t bad.”


Unfortunately, “ain’t bad” ain’t cutting it in this country.  We are still reeling from the aftermath of the financial market meltdown that occurred in September of 2008.  That meltdown sparked a domino effect in many other markets.  Taxpayer monies were appropriated to shore up the financial industry and allegedly save the country from a deep Depression.  But the nation as a whole is in a hole and having difficulty climbing out of it.  Who is to blame?


“Not us!” say our elected officials.  “It’s those greedy financiers who caused this mess!  By   manipulating funds as well as bankruptcy laws, they gambled on a bailout and won.”  Funny how no politicians are mentioning all the bribe money they’ve accepted over the years from big business in order to see to big business’s own best interests. 


Is America better today since the bailout? What did we gain by bailing out the financial institutions?  The answer to these questions is evident.  Before September ’08, America was the most prosperous nation in the world.  What exactly was the plague that befell us?  What was its cause and who was at fault?  Absent the bailout of the financial industry, would the meltdown have been considered “a market correction” or financial Armageddon?  We will never know.


One thing is for sure.  We may have suffered from the meltdown, but we would not have incurred the debt that we have today.  Even our President, Barack Obama, has stated that recovery will take time.  With the economic situation in America worsening, who will guide us to the Promised Land?  It took Moses forty years to accomplish this for his people, and Obama is not Moses.


Seizing a political opportunity, the Republican Party has “seen the light” and offered the following Pledge to America:


  1. To honor the Constitution, especially the Tenth Amendment
  2. To advance policies that promote liberty, opportunity, defense, and prosperity
  3. To honor family, traditional marriage, and private and faith-based organizations
  4. To be transparent, honest, and careful in its stewardship in governing
  5. To uphold the purpose, promise, and hopes of a better America


They claim to pledge truth, faith, and allegiance to the people they represent, and invite fellow citizens and patriots to form a new governing agenda for America.  Gee, I thought we already had all this without their pledge!


As you can see, we’re wallowing in government’s promises yet again.  But the real pledge to the American people should be:


  1. To have one pension plan for Americans and governmental representatives (i.e., no special privileges/plans for elected officials)
  2. To have term limits for the House and Senate
  3. To have real transparency in government and abolish lobbying, which can only be accomplished by the Fat Cats among us (i.e., Corporate America, including the insurance and finance industries)
  4. To uphold, first and foremost, the welfare of American citizens
  5. To uphold signed treaties/agreements with Native American tribes
  6. To consider salary decreases for elected officials during hard times


These are a few of the pledges we need to place on the agenda in reforming government.


America was the greatest nation on the face of the earth, but power, greed, and personal financial gain has taken its toll; our political leaders have abused the power conferred upon them by public office. When social security beneficiaries are denied a cost of living increase, and our elected official vote for their cost of living increase and get it, this tells the whole story.  Shame on the politicians!


The following excerpt, taken from President Abraham Lincoln’s “The Gettysburg Address” is not only a piece of history; it is a warning concerning the fate of this nation and advice as to how to create a workable government:


“That this nation under God shall have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people, by the people, and for the people shall not perish from the earth.”


It is time that those seeking political office pledge to return our government to its original Constitutional purpose:  to protect and promote the general welfare of the American people. 

Bastille Day, Revisited

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Recently, I caught an old Lewis Black performance on the tube.  Dating back to 2004 and performed in the lovely Brooks Atkinson Theatre on Broadway, our hero decried, and provided his unique solutions for remedying, the status quo.  Anyone familiar with the work of this acerbic stand-up comic knows that it’s largely political in nature, and that the reason he’s won the hearts of the general populace and the grudging respect of politicians is that he is unflaggingly honest: no deserving elected official, candidate, or governmental agency is ever spared his stiletto tongue.   I was a little startled, however, when Lewis quipped that he finally understood why Marie Antoinette had lost her head, and why her constituents had wanted that head so badly.  You see, I myself have been muttering over the past few years that it’s inevitable that Bastille Day is repeated here — and soon! — on America’s shores.


When the noggins of the CEOs of Corporate America, who ripped us off to the tune of $710 billion dollars, and those of the politicians who stole that money go rolling in the streets, I’ll shrug it off to karma.  I don’t advocate violence and I certainly won’t contribute to it, but when it happens, I won’t be surprised.


Just this week, I uncovered evidence that we’re inching a little closer to Bastille Day. Vive la France!


In my mind burned a simple legal question whose answer I already know, but I wanted the particulars just for my own edification, as well as a lawfully sanctioned weapon.  Specifically, I’d wanted to know the legal parameters for maintaining the temperature of a privately owned office complex, in which a group of unrelated business tenants pay rent.   I called 411 to get the number for the State Department of Labor; the robot that answered informed me that I’d reached the Department of Planning.  Another call to Information — and yet another call to my phone provider to secure a credit for the incorrect number — also yielded an incongruous Department.  I got a robot there, as well, so I was beyond all human help from Trenton … as any New Jersey taxpayer has been since time immemorial (Governor Christie’s recent efforts to the contrary notwithstanding).


Truth to tell, I think Trenton has purposely organized its phone system this way to significantly reduce the number of complaints through which to sift, much less to track and investigate.  Okay.  I honestly wasn’t expecting much from the most corrupt State capital in the nation … with the exception of Washington, D.C., that is.


Getting nowhere at the State level, I then attempted to contact the Middlesex County Department of Labor … where I received a robotic menu.  Guess what?  My area of inquiry apparently is not covered at the County level, either.  Next, I called the local Department of Unemployment, assuming that their reps must be cognizant of labor laws.  There, I got yet another robot (damn, they breed like rabbits in Jersey!).  Disgustedly, I hung up and, in desperation, called the Legal Aid Society.


Now, I could have traded all of this frustration for another brand of angst, simply by calling my private attorney.   But I know from hard experience that it will take me an average of two weeks to get a response from him … despite my leaving several messages a day.   So, in desperation, I phoned Legal Aid.


And this was interesting, to say the least.


Legal Aid, it seems, no longer trucks in employment legislation — at least, not on a case-by-case basis.  Now they deal only — or at least my branch does — in family law, personal injury, and immigration law.  Just as I was wondering if Information screwed up and gave me the number for the ACLU, the robot stated that “for all other inquiries” I should direct my queries to their website (another non-human).  I did, after two attempts, for the address that the robot gave me was utterly incorrect.  When I finally arrived at the correct site and clicked on Employment Legislation, the page read “Under Construction.”  The site suggested I contact the American Bar Association.  Well, if I’d wanted to go that route, I’d have called my lawyer in the first place!  That’s when I screamed loud enough for the people in the next town to hear, “Off with their heads!!!!”


For the Legal Aid’s site, you see, was truly my last straw.  Initially, before reaching out to Trenton, I’d attempted to get my answer online, via bing.com, yahoo.com, and google.com.  What popped up on all three browsers, in response to my carefully phrased and then repeatedly re-phrased inquiry, was a plethora of sites concerning the employment rights of illegal aliens!   There were a few sites that also deal in inquiries concerning immigration law, but that’s like trying to separate a rich man from his money: the two are intertwined like conjoined twins.


I’ve never broken a major law.  A blind poll of my colleagues, family, friends, and even clients will attest that I’m a conscientious soul and a generous one.  I pay my taxes; I give to select charities when I can.  I try to “do the right thing.”    As a native-born American, all I wanted was a simple answer to a legality; an answer that I should have been able to receive long before I opened the window and, like Alice’s Red Queen, called for a lopping off of heads.


What happened here, and when?  When did the interests of illegal aliens — read that phrase again for its mind-numbing dichotomy — supplant those of native-born American taxpayers?   Why can’t a native-born American get a simple answer to a simple legal question, without incurring a 60-minute attorney’s fee?  Five’ll get you ten that if I were here and working illegally, I’d get all of my questions answered in a heartbeat   Hell, I’d have to; even the Internet caters to those who disregard and disrespect U.S. law!


What is happening here?   Is this a culmination of internal and external forces leveraged with the specific aim of toppling a nation that’s lost its focus, its morals, the very tenets upon which it was built?  And is it indeed a massive plot designed to frustrate U.S. citizens to the point where we no longer question what is legal and what is not?   Is it a diabolical plan to give the “haves” even more and the “have nots,” such as your run of the mill taxpayer, even less?


If we stop questioning, we’ll never get answers.  And knowledge is dangerous.  Now re-read that statement and let it sink in, like slow ice.  If we have the answers and don’t like them, why hell, we might just do what the citizens of France did on Bastille Day.  We might just revert to what we, as a budding nation, did in bucking the system more than two hundred years ago, when we established a free and independent country that is, in essence, fast disappearing from the face of the Earth. 

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