Tag Archives for " GOP "

Aug 16

Just Thinking Again

By kevin | Current Affairs

In the “I told you so” category . . . and you’ll recall my previous rant on follow the money and who would benefit from a faux debt crisis . . . the answer to the question “What will corporations rolling in cash do with that cash?” is not, employ people.  It is “merger Monday” where Google writes a check for billions of dollars to buy Motorola Mobility.  Pink slips to follow.

In other news, Warren Buffet paid 17% in taxes last year.  His calls to the know-betters on the right is to sniff.  What could the second richest man in the world possibly know about capital formation and job creation?

Rick Perry, the latest savior of the Grand Old White People’s party is now accusing our Fed Chairman of “treason.”  Not an especially nuanced word.  Hmmmm, let’s see, what are the twin mandates of the Fed.  The first is hold down inflation.  Check.  The second is full employment. Seems like the FRB has done everything it can to pay off the bets made by the idiots on Capital Hill and back stop their non decisions. Yeah, that seems like treason to me.

And to think I used to have a bunch of Swiss Francs sitting in a drawer some place.

It’s been awhile so don’t be surprised if there isn’t a Somali pirate siting, perhaps in Galveston Bay this time.

Note to RIM senior executives.  I assume your golden parachutes are packed and ready?

I don’t know about you but I know I’ve been thinking that what this country needs is another Christian Conservative, never had a real job other than in government President from Texas. Let the snide remarks about community organizer begin.  Is this really the best we can do?

Note to Red Sox nation.  You may be able to beet CC Sabitha but you can’t beat the Mariners.

And the market’s response to the SP downgrade?  Joe and Mary Sixpack panicked, went to cash, and got screwed.  Again.  The high frequency guys made tons of money. And treasuries are flying out the door at the lowest yield anyone can remember.

Speaking of the dollar, have you met it’s idiot brother the Euro and its crazy uncle the Yen?

Next year, I vote for the Mariners just skipping the first half of the season so we can get straight to the youth movement part.  Much more entertaining.

Any thought that the patent laws might be overhauled were deep sixed by GOOG, MS, and APPL

Does anyone know the over under on the date Greece gets kicked out of the EU?

Feb 25

Why Joe and Mary Don’t Have Health Care (Or a Job): A Parable

By kevin | Current Affairs

Bill Smith has a nice Main Street business. He is the third generation of his family to run the company. The government is his biggest customer.  He’s a member of the community and his employees are too.  His employees pay taxes but Bill doesn’t because he made a sweet deal with the city fathers to keep his business in town. Bill hates the government.

Bill decides to sell his business to his good friend Dick. He needs the money to pay for his third divorce. Dick, who doesn’t know anything about Bill’s business hires Bill back at more than his existing pay package.  Dick doesn’t use his own money to buy Bill’s business, he borrows all of it from from Bob.

Servicing all that debt, paying that big salary, and generating a return for Dick puts a strain on the business Bill’s grandfather built.  Bill announces that he can no longer afford to offer health care and that people will need to take a pay cut.  He blames the government (the one he got the tax break from; the one that buys half his product) and foreign competition.  He blames his employees.

Meanwhile Bob has bundled Dick’s loan with a bunch of other loans and sold them to George.  This allows Bob to lock in his return while completely eliminating his downside.  George pays Bob to service the loans.

Bill becomes less and less interested in doing things that made his grandfather’s business great, like developing new products, thinking of new ways to delight customers, and keeping his employees motivated. He has too much to do courting his soon to be fourth wife.  He moves out of town to a big house.  He plays golf with Dick, Bob and their Senator.  They discuss things that they shouldn’t, but there’s nobody around to listen or to enforce the law anyway.

Dick needs more money to fund his other financial adventures so he pressures Bill to increase his margins and generate more cash.  Because Bill hasn’t been taking care of business, most of his customers have moved on.  In fact, the only customer he has any more is the government.  He blames his employees. He makes a contribution to his Senator’s PAC. Soon another contract shows up.  He also cuts benefits further, cuts pay, and fires his older workers.  He travels to China and negotiates a contract to have some of his manufacturing done there.  Margins improve. Bill and Dick pays themselves a bonus.

Meanwhile Dick buys three more businesses with money he borrows from Bob. He’s now his own conglomerate. Bob is celebrated as a hot shot at his bank. It’s a great American Success Story. Dick pays himself a bonus. Bob gets paid a bonus. George buys more loans from Dick which he packages and resells. He also buys a credit default swap that will pay off big if Bill’s business goes in the tank and shorts the stock of the bank where Bob works.

It turns out that the orignal loan to Dick had a variable rate and reindexed after three years.  Payments are now going up.  Dick, Bob, and George all want more money from Bill.  Productivity at Bill’s company has gone down, perhaps having to do with the fact that the employees have taken repeated pay cuts, have no more benefits, and have watched as their brothers and neighbors have been fired over the past several years. Bill blames them for the financial pressure he’s feeling . . . when he’s not blaming the government, the same one that buys his product and to whom he doesn’t pay taxes, and the Chinese competition that he buys from.

Bill makes across the board cuts.  He also borrows more money to buy some equipment that will allow him to replace even more employees.  He buys a new car with tinted windows so he doesn’t have to look at all those sullen homeless people that keep popping up. He gives himself a raise.

Oh no, suddenly the economy turns sour.  Who could see it coming?  Nobody.  These things just don’t happen.  It’s not supposed to be this way!  It’s a plot!

Bob is in a panic because his whole world has just collapsed: He may have to close up the summer place early this year! He pressures Dick to collect his loan even though it’s not due.

Now Dick is in a panic.  All of his loans are coming due, he doesn’t actually have any equity, and his investors want their money back . . . and there isn’t any.  It turns out he used it to buy art, boats, jewelry . . .

Now Bill is in a panic.  He fires even more people, becoming nothing more than sales agent for the Chinese. He blames rapacious lenders. He blames short-sighted shareholders. He blames his employees for not doing more.

Bill goes to town hall meetings and rails at the blight of all those homeless people in the town he used to live in.  He becomes apoplectic at the idea of the government stepping in to help his former employees, even though he doesn’t actually pay any taxes himself.  Taking money from the government is socialism.  It’s nothing but income redistribution from productive people like Bill, Bob, and George to people who should do more to help themselves.  He and Dick pay themselves a bonus.

In the end, the company that Bill’s grandfather built and his father turned into a success is closed. George makes a killing on the credit default swap and even more on shorting Bob’s bank.

Dick goes to jail where he finds religion.

Bob now specializes in troubled debt and is making a fortune. Again.

Bill rediscovers his grandfather’s entrepreneurial fervor.  He is now seeking stimulus money from the government he loathes and didn’t pay taxes to in order to start a new business building wind mills.  He will buy parts and assemblies from the Chinese and Fins and use equipment bought from the Germans, Japanese and Chinese to do final assembly. He will get a tax credit for hiring back some of his old employees at 60% of what he used to pay them.  He offers no benefits figuring that the socialist government he hates will take care of that.

The first thing he does upon receiving his stimulus money is pay himself a bonus.

The second thing he does is make a contribution to the local Tea Party.  He’s mad as hell and he’s not going to take it anymore.

And so it goes.

Oct 23

Has Conservatism Become the New Moral Relativism?

By kevin | Current Affairs

Some interesting articles in the Seattle Washrag this morning having to do with South Carolina.  Normally 47 people give a rip but for two factors:  Boeing is threatening to move more production there and the political leadership of the state, and I’m using that term loosely, can’t seem to stay out of the news.  So here’s what’s stuck in my craw.

Their idiot governor was part of the famous class of ‘94 that swept into Washington DC during the early stanzas of the Clinton opera.  Among their many accomplishments were shutting down the government (over Medicare among other things, something that conservatives are fiercely defending these days by the way) and impeaching the President.  As a sideline, a noticeable percentage of them subsequently specialized in every imaginable form of moral turpitude.

Mark himself rode into town on the strength of his piety and cost cutting ways.  He has worn both of those credentials with pride up to the present day.

So what has the conservative darling accomplished recently?  Well for starters, he shut the state down over his grandstanding about not taking $700 million in federal stimulus funds.  By the time that was litigated and slammed back down his throat the legislative session was toast.  They got nothing done.  On the heals of that he decamped to the Appalachian trail, and who knew that it ran all the way to Buenos Aires, and you know how that one played out.  Given that all things government are presumptively evil, some I’m sure find at least the first part of this agreeable in the extreme.  But what about the second bit?

The pious one is now barnstorming the state on what is described by many as a “reconciliation tour.”  Or to put it bluntly, he is giving his personal testimony to every Christian with an ounce of power and the time to listen.  This is standard fare for besmirched believers and serves all players in the drama well.  The forgiver accrues political power and the forgiven gets to return to the playing field.  It’s political kabuki at its finest and as long as everyone plays the part correctly, all is forgiven.  This will be true for governor Mark, just as it has been true of a long, long line of politically powerful and politically useful sinners for lo these many years (even mass murders are washed clean in this life if they confess according to the formula to the right people).  The fact that his wife wants nothing to do with him and is writing a tell-all is another thing.

So now, the man-who-won’t-resign is holding secret negotiations to shower Boeing with huge financial benefits, benefits by the way that will exceed the financial value of the stimulus money he so roundly rejected, to entice the company to come on down and give 3000 jobs to all those non-union workers who have no experience building airplanes and no education in what it takes to do so. 

(As an aside, given Boeing’s recent and appalling record at doing just about anything right, particularly delivering the 787, I can see why they would want to have even more work done in a part of the country best known for the Confederate Battle Flag on the State House Building and that last enjoyed a strong economy in the 1860s but that’s another matter.  Attention management.  Your problem isn’t cost control. It’s competence.)

So my question is, what does it mean anymore to be a conservative? 

Mark Sanford’s pecker problems have more to do with hubris than religion, so I’m not generalizing based on his fine example.  No party or political belief system has a lock on stupidity, hubris, and especially falling from grace, but American conservatives have turned the whole fall-forgiveness-redemption-back to work thing into high art.

But how do you square the part about handing Boeing massive chunks of the tax payers’ money other than it’s expedient?  Is that not a shining example of the moral relativism that conservatives bleat so loudly about when it comes to liberals?  Giving money to taxpayers who are down on their luck is bad.  And let us be clear that the reasons people like Sanford believe this are a toxic mix of big-business capitalism and a perverse 20th-21st century Calvinism.  But giving equal or greater sums of money to a large enterprise whose leadership has eviscerated one of the greatest engineering and manufacturing companies in the world and whose competitive strategy is based on taking work from people who know how to do it and give it to firms and people who don’t is a good thing?

None of this is surprising or even noteworthy other than it’s such a stunning example of what the GOP has become, at least on a national scale.  There, in the span of a single narrative it is: Big Business socialism wrapped in a thin free-market candy coating joined up with a fervent religiosity where anything goes as long as its done by the washed.

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