Uncommon Sense

September 24, 2013

Hey, Rich People—

Since you have bribed our legislators to make sure that we, the middle class, pay most of the taxes (including some $6000 per family per year for corporate welfare), the simplest way to eliminate the annual deficit and national debt is to . . . raise our wages. Raise middle class wages; raise the minimum wage while you are at it and then we pay more taxes (more than you do) and “poof” the deficit is gone. Also, since we are middle class and living very close to the bone, we will spend every dime of our post tax income on something your blood sucking corporations are selling and you . . . will . . . make . . . even . . . more . . . money.

I call this theory “trickle up economics” and recommend it highly to you.

May 31, 2013

It’s The Effing Corporations (Business as Usual is Killing this Country)

There needs to be a healthy debate about corporations because business as usual is killing this country.

First I want to set aside the idea of “small business.” The tax definition is simply a business which has a small number of owners, so the Koch brothers own small businesses. It is a completely useless definition. Let me also set aside all “little” business that are owned and operated by the same folks. I am a part of several of these. These businesses are run by the same people who own them and generally aren’t incorporated, but might be.

What I am talking about are larger corporations with hired gun CEO’s and Boards of Trustees. Here’s the problem: these corporations are run based on totally fallacious “business models” that are ruinous to this country. Here’s why I say this.

Public owned corporations, those with stock “shareholders,” are completely distorted by the stock market. Their management teams operate in such a manner that they show a small amount of growth in profits every quarter of every year. Slack periods aren’t wanted, nor are bumper years wanted. Just slow steady growth of profits. There is, of course, no real value in slow steady growth. The reason this is so is the stock market. Stock market analysts create predictions as to how much growth each of these companies will have for any year. The stupid thing is that if the company meets those expectations they are rewarded by people buying their stock, driving up its price. Since the officers usually are given generous stock options, they aren’t exactly innocent bystanders, plus most companies hold some of their own stock, and it is a good thing when it becomes more valuable.

But if, the fates forbid, the company fails to meet the analyst’s expectations people sell the stock and the price falls! I can’t think of any other situation where this sort of thing happens. If the weatherman predicts rain and it doesn’t, what do you assume? The weatherman made a mistake, no? If a sports commentator has a prediction of which horse will win a race or which team will win a ball game and he is wrong, what do you assume? The sports commentator made a mistake, no? If a radio talk show guy says that a particular singer is the “next big star” and she wasn’t, what do you assume? The talk show guy made a mistake, no?

How is it that Wall Street analyst are so effing good that people buy and sell their stocks based on how well a company did compared to their predictions rather than assume the analysts made a mistake? The answer is that they aren’t all that effing good and their public records show this. Those analysts get their data from … anybody know? Yep, the companies themselves, through public filings and such, but those companies know how the game is played and they regularly “massage” the data so that it appears as they want it to. Thus a faulty predicting ability, based on data massaged to be somewhat unreal, results in perfect predictions? WTF?

Plus, the completely synthetic rules of this game are designed for abuse. The CEO’s pay is tied to the stock price, so what is important to the CEO? Yep, you got it in one. So, if it is necessary to fire a bunch of people he felt were necessary to be hired six months ago, to “lower costs” and “raise profits” to meet this quarter’s Wall Street expectations, then that is what is done.

Most of these CEO’s don’t actually run anything. The actual performance of the company is due to underlings efforts. The CEO’s job is to manage the stock price by hook or crook. The amazing thing is that the “owners” don’t give a rat’s ass and accept this as the status quo. Even though this behavior doesn’t correlate with the long term health of the company, it’s all good to the shareholders.

One of the most profitable ways to bolster a company’s profits (showing a whopping 26:1 return on investment) is to bribe our politicians to create special tax breaks for their companies. And if we need to cut Social Security and Medicare to pay for it, so be it. Corporate taxes as a fraction of federal receipts have been shrinking for years.


We need to ask ourselves if the fantasy we learned in school about the value of corporations is really playing out like we thought, because by shipping jobs overseas, shirking paying their taxes, and playing the Wall Street Mambo for profit they are ruining this country.

July 25, 2012

You Want No Regulations? . . . You Can’t Handle No Regulations!

I was driving home from a guest spot with a youth sports team last night and on the radio was a discussion of sugar consumption, focused mostly on the sugar fructose (fruit sugar). The science is pretty clear that fructose, in the quantities injected into our foods in the form of “high fructose corn syrup,” is not good for us, leading to obesity and metabolic diseases like Type 2 diabetes. The corn syrup industry has responded with TV commercials showing a perky Soccer Mom cum Farmer walking through a corn field saying things like “it’s just sugar.” Unfortunately they left out the words “the wrong kind of” in the middle of that phrase.

There is no such thing as “sugar,” but there are a great many “sugars.” There is “table sugar” (sucrose), and “fruit sugar” (fructose), and “blood sugar” (glucose), and “malt sugar” (maltose, typically used in baby foods because it is more digestible). The science on fructose is pretty clear: it is fine in small doses, but we aren’t getting small doses and it is killing us. The “sugar industry” is down to playing the “no regulations” card because Republicans have plowed the field and it is ready for planting. No regulations are needed, they say, because people make a choice to consume sweet products, and besides government regulations are bad!

If that (government regulations are bad) were really true, then we don’t need traffic regulations and we can all just decide each morning which side of the street to drive on, and we don’t need work safety regulations because workers chose to take those dangerous jobs, nor do we need child safety laws, food purity laws, clean air and water laws, etc.

“But I want one more government regulation—just one itty-bitty regulation—just this:
companies which receive tax breaks or direct subsidies from the federal government
may not make donations of any kind to federal legislators.”

Unfortunately people are swallowing this “government regulations are bad” bunkum. I think we ought to double down on these “no regulations” people. I’ll start with the sugar industry. Currently just the cane sugar industry alone gets $32 billion dollars a year in the form of subsidies. Those subsidies are an attempt of the government to regulate what should be a free market! Dratted government regulations! Yet, every time legislation is submitted to remove those subsidies and restore a true free market, the sugar industry uses some of that 32 billion dollars to bribe sufficient legislators to make sure it does not pass. I’ll believe that the sugar industry wants no “government regulation” when they give up their corporate welfare.

Similarly, the corn industry has had gobs of government help and subsidies in creating a huge market for fructose that didn’t exist 30 years ago. I’ll believe they don’t want any government regulation when they pay us back.

But I want one more government regulation—just one itty-bitty regulation—just this: companies which receive tax breaks or direct subsidies from the federal government may not make donations of any kind to federal legislators. They can talk all they want, they have free speech, but I’ll be damned if they will use my money to bribe my officials to make sure they get more of my money!

Stop the madness! Write your legislator today. Tell them that you want a new law: companies which receive tax breaks or direct subsidies from the federal government may not make donations of any kind to federal legislators. This will be a condition of accepting the funds; if they don’t agree to this condition, well, they don’t have to take the funds, now do they. It’s a choice you make.

And you want it now! Tell your legislator to provide it or they won’t get your vote again . . . ever.

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