Op-Ed Wall Street’s Jet Setters

Wall Street’s Socialist Jet-Setters By MAUREEN DOWD – Published: January 27, 2009

How are these ruthless, careless ghouls who murdered the economy still walking around (not to mention that sociopathic sadist Bernie Madoff?) — and not as perps?

Bring on the shackles. Let the show trials begin.

Very frustrating indeed, but I don’t know of any means of invoking a change. We can complain on the net and raise virtual pitchforks in anger… but there’s nothing which will come of it. If there was something we could do to force CEOs who are still treating themselves like kings while all of their peasants toil and scramble, fear and get fired… I’d be all for it. But there isn’t – we are in a society where those people (the real aristocracy) make the rules and are for the most part, above the law (or will get the laws changed).

The 5%, the 1% – they got really, really (more) rich over the last 20 years, especially the last 5-10… and their economic strategies are plunging us into the current depression. And you know, that 5% are still perfectly fine… Well, they might have to sell of one of their several vacation houses.

Re: Memo to All My Valued Employees

Here’s my response to the following “letter” which I received as a forward today:

Letter subject: “Memo to All My Valued Employees”

Basic gist of the letter:

Most of my time is now occupied with government mandates and regulations and all the accounting that goes with them. On October 15th, I wrote a check to the US Treasury for $288,000 for quarterly taxes. You know what my “stimulus” check was? Zero. Nada. Zilch.

The question I have is this: Who’s stimulating the economy? Me, the guy who has provided 14 people good-paying jobs and serves more than 2,200,000 people per year with a flourishing business? Or the single mother sitting at home pregnant with her fourth child waiting for her next welfare check? Obviously, government feels the latter is the economic stimulus of this country.

The fact is, if I deducted (read: stole) 50% of your paycheck, you’d quit and you wouldn’t work here. Why should you? That’s nuts. Who wants to get rewarded for only 50% of their hard work? Well, I agree, which is why your job is in jeopardy.

The first comment on the post where I found the letter posted, which I like:

December 30th, 2008 at 9:32 am

One has to seriously question the motivation of a business owner who would send this to his employees. Essentially, this letter is sour grapes bitching to those who can do NOTHING to change the situation. 14 employees are not going to stem the tide of tax law changes about to come in. No way on earth will that happen. Instead, all this fellow has managed to do is to de-moralize his employees and leave them in a state of fearful agitation for the holidays. This is illustrative of a certain sort of behavior common among very small business owners that serves no good purpose and only harms their business and their credibility as worthwhile leaders. The oldest rule in leadership is that bitching runs uphill (hat tip to Saving Private Ryan). The mailroom worker complains to the mailroom manager and he in turn complains to the operations Vice President and so on. All this fellow is doing is showing that he is an inept leader and that he wants everyone to know it. Failure of leadership is really what’s killing this country – at all levels – and this highlights that perfectly.

More to the point though… no matter who is getting taxed, they aren’t going to like it. The email makes strong sounding points and I can certainly see the logic in them, but they are not the only points to make and there’s more than enough comparable rhetoric on the opposite side of these issues.

The basics of which I would think might sound something like: “if you tax someone who has money more than someone who doesn’t, the burden is spread according to the money in question.”

This has been the case for a long time and the current tax changes proposed are simply an alternation of where the lines are drawn, in fact putting some of the lines back in place.

Check out this from Date: 09/19/2008 By: Senator Bernie Sanders:

The top 0.1 percent now earn more money than the bottom 50 percent of Americans, and the top 1 percent own more wealth than the bottom 90 percent. The wealthiest 400 people in our country saw their wealth increase by $670 billion while Bush has been president. In the midst of all of this, Bush lowered taxes on the very rich so that they are paying lower income tax rates than teachers, police officers or nurses.

You can’t make everyone happy. The wealthy and powerful are more likely to get their way in most things, because of their wealth and power. They are already at an advantage. It is only fitting to have a government that helps even the playing field a bit – One our country’s principles has always been humanitarianism and care for those less fortunate. “Give us your tired and poor. Your huddled masses yearning to be free.” Right? Isn’t that who we are?

Yeah, not really. Not any more.


We have elected Obama, and the country has taken on a mantel of hope again… but we are still very self-centered and interested mainly in our own profits and wealth and safety and comfort. Virtues and Moralities are mostly buzz words used to sell something anymore, and though many great things are done in this country by great people in the spirit of our past… the country as a whole is not focused on helping the world by being a shining light of hope… we are interested in keeping our lights on, and the searchlight and guards on the fences we have been literally and figuratively building.

In closing…

Sorry, I can feel sorry for business owners who are going through hardships… but not enough to think that we should be taxing the poor or lower or middle classes more. Hell, they’re not even talking about increasing taxes for people who make < $249K a year. I suspect that most of the people who do make more than $249K/year could afford to give their employees a raise if they wanted to… perhaps they should just take it out of their salary until they get down to $249 and then they wont have to worry.


Obama’s 27 year old speech writter…

Helping to Write History
By Eli Saslow
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, December 18, 2008; Page A01

During the campaign, the buzz-cut 27-year-old at the corner table helped write and edit some of the most memorable speeches of any recent presidential candidate. When Obama moves to the White House next month, Favreau will join his staff as the youngest person ever to be selected as chief speechwriter. He helps shape almost every word Obama says, yet the two men have formed a concert so harmonized that Favreau’s own voice disappears.

“He looks like he’s in college and everybody calls him Favs, so you’re like, ‘This guy can’t be for real, right?’ ” said Ben Rhodes, another Obama speechwriter. “But it doesn’t take long to realize that he’s totally synced up with Obama. . . . He has access to everything and everybody. There’s a lot weighing on his shoulders.”

Especially now, as Favreau and the rest of Obama’s young staffers begin a transition that extends far beyond new job titles. Three months ago, Favreau lived in a group house with six friends in Chicago, where he rarely shaved, never cooked and sometimes stayed up to play video games until early morning. Now, he has transformed into what one friend called a “Washington political force” — a minor celebrity with a down payment on a Dupont Circle condo

Inspiring to see someone so young accomplishing so much, through composition alone.

Recently read an excellent article on walmart’s perception as evil.

An excellent article on Walmart being evil or not – a fairly objective seeming overview of the major points of discussion for the different camps on Walmart.

That’s a good thing, right? If a company achieves its lower prices by finding better and smarter ways of doing things, then yes, everybody wins. But if it cuts costs by cutting pay and benefits–or by sending production to China–then not everybody wins. And here’s where the story of Good Wal-Mart starts to falter. Just as its Everyday Low Prices benefit shoppers who’ve never come near a Wal-Mart, there are mounting signs that its Everyday Low Pay (Wal-Mart’s full-time hourly employees average $9.76 an hour) is hurting some workers who have never worked there. For example, unionized supermarkets in California–faced with studies showing a 13% to 16% drop in grocery prices after Wal-Mart enters a market–have been trying to slash labor costs to compete, triggering a protracted strike. The $15 billion in goods that Wal-Mart and its suppliers imported from China in 2003, meanwhile, accounted for nearly 11% of the U.S. total–contributing, some economists argue, to further erosion of U.S. wages.

Where you stand on Wal-Mart, then, seems to depend on where you sit. If you’re a consumer, Wal-Mart is good for you. If you’re a wage earner, there’s a good chance it’s bad. If you’re a Wal-Mart shareholder, you want the company to grow. If you’re a citizen, you probably don’t want it growing in your backyard. So, which one are you?

G20 – Bush getting snubbed

I’m one of the first to speak out against the current (soon-to-change-thank-god) US government, but this video really does make me sad. I have little to say positive toward G.W.Bush and have certainly complained about him (often) when really complaining about the actions of many many people… but I don’t think I’d go so far as to refuse to shake his hand. I mean, he’s still a person.

On the otherhand, I myself have toyed with the idea of considering him a mass murderer… so from that perspective, I wouldn’t want to shake his hand or be in the same room with him.

Mr. Bush is no longer president and no longer resides here

One sunny day in 2009 an old man approached the White House
from across Pennsylvania Avenue, where he’d been sitting on a
park bench. He spoke to the U.S. Marine standing guard and
said, ‘I would like to go in and meet with President Bush.’

The Marine looked at the man and said, ‘Sir, Mr. Bush is no longer
president and no longer resides here.’

The old man said, ‘Okay, thank you’ and walked away.

The following day, the same man approached the White House
and said to the same Marine, ‘I would like to go in and meet with
President Bush.’

The Marine again told the man, ‘Sir, as I said yesterday, Mr.
Bush is no longer president and no longer resides here.’

The man thanked him and, again, just walked away.

The third day, the same man approached the White House and
spoke to the very same U. S. Marine, saying ‘I would like to go
in and meet with President Bush.’

The Marine, understandably agitated at this point, looked at
the man and said, ‘Sir, this is the third day in a row you have
been here asking to speak to Mr. Bush. I’ve told you already
that Mr. Bush is no longer the president and no longer resides
here. Don’t you understand?’

The old man looked at the Marine and said, ‘Oh, I understand.
I just love hearing it.’

The Marine snapped to attention, saluted, and said, ‘See you
tomorrow, Sir’.

Obama is our president, and there is much rejoicing

I feel like I should have something profound to say.  I’ve been a supporter since I picked up one of his books and have grown more so as I’ve found out more and more about Obama and his family and views and campaign.

We watched the results at our friend’s house and were ready to cry together, but thankfully we didn’t have to.  After the last two presidential elections, I was pessimistic and ready to be disappointed – when Obama won I really had to do a couple of reality checks.  I’m still amazed to live in a world where we have elected Obama.

On the whole, I’m very hopeful.  As a country, we are ready for a “new deal” type of paradigm shift and we’ve elected someone capable of effecting that change in a positive and beneficial way.  I keep saying that I feel naive to be so hopeful, but I am. 

There has been a flurry of wonderful information, reflections and projections by many different people about Obama and the upcoming presidency.  Here are some great Fresh Air shows:

Mark Sawyer On Implications Of Obama’s Election – Political
scientist is an Associate Professor of African American Studies and
Political Science at UCLA and the Director of the Center for the Study
of Race, Ethnicity and Politics

The Future Of The Conservative Movement – Former
Republican Congressman Mickey Edwards argues that the conservative
movement has strayed from its founding principles. His book, Reclaiming Conservatism, offers a critique of the movement’s current incarnation — and a blueprint for its future success.

‘Obama’s Challenge': A Transformative Opportunity Robert Kuttner has reported on elections for more than 30 years. His new book, Obama’s Challenge, looks at the Herculean obstacles the president-elect faces — and what it will take to tackle them