Friday, December 23, 2011

A National New Year's Resolution

We the People of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure the domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
Preamble to the Constitution of the United States

While we as a nation have never completely achieved the high ideals outlined in the Constitution, we have got ever closer over the last 224 years. And why is that? Because as a people we have kept our eyes on the prize. And I think that although we still have our eyes on the prize, it has become more of a moving target, and it is moving away from us. Washington is following the new Golden Rule: He who has the gold makes the rule.
An October report issued by the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office spells out who is getting the gold: between 1979 and 2007 the top 1 percent of Americans with the highest incomes have seen their incomes grow by an average of 275 percent; the rest of us saw our incomes grow at a rate of just under 40 percent. During the same period the top one-fifth of earners in America earned more money than the bottom fourth-fifths combined.
And now the Supreme Court has decided that corporations are entitled to free speech (read: political campaign and lobbying contributions) the same as natural persons, except that corporate contributions are unlimited, while those of natural persons are capped at $2,500.
It is not surprising that politicians, Democrats and Republicans, are in the pockets of the wealthy. When your local representative holds a “town hall” meeting, he is listening but he is not hearing. If you wish to participate in the best government money can buy, you need to approach him with a $50K check in your hand.
As a result, the middle class is getting smaller, the homeless class is getting larger, at least five applicants show up for every job opening (although there have been reports of over 50 for some jobs), school budgets and programs are being cut and classes are getting larger, union-busting is going strong, and Republicans now want to privatize Social Security and all other so-called "entitlement" programs.
And Washington's response: "Tighten your belts – we are all in this together." Bullshit! Our current crop of politicians is in it for their puppet-masters; the rest of us can sink or swim. So much for forming a more perfect union, insuring domestic tranquility, yada, yada, yada. Congress almost shut down the country this past summer over a normally routine procedure: raising the debt limit.
So I suggest a New Year's Resolution for everyone: Let's elect representatives who really represent their constituents – leaders who will try to do what is good for the country regardless of whether it fits their ideology. And let's work to pass a constitutional amendment limiting personhood to human persons.

On another matter, Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner, R-Wisc. was heard saying that, “[Michelle Obama] lectures us on eating right while she has a large posterior herself." 
And here is a quote from Rush Limbaugh: "I'm trying to say that our first lady does not project the image of women that you might see on the cover of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue or of a woman Alex Rodriguez might date every six months or what have you." 
Here are pictures of these two gentlemen; I concede that both might be experts on the subject of overweight. We are so lucky to live during a time when there are no more important matters in Washington to discuss than the First Lady's butt.

In order not to offend anyone, I want to wish you a Merry Christmas and/or a (insert your own holiday).
My books, “There Are Only Seven Jokes” and “The Spirit Runs Through It” are available in paperback, or at the Kindle Store.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Executive Salaries.

     Much heat has been generated on the subject of the huge salaries received by the CEOs of major corporations. One popular method of illustrating the obscenity is by showing the CEO's salary as a multiple of a typical production worker's salary. It is not unusual for the CEO's salary to be equal to 300, 400 or even 600 times the hourly workers income.
     The following table is a listing of the 2010 salary and other income paid to the heads of several of our largest corporations.* Much of the “other“ income is not taxed until it is actually received. Because much of it consists of stock options, it may be considerably more valuable at that time then as shown here; options will be taxed at a maximum rate of 15%.
     Also shown is the executive's total earnings per minute, based on 40 hours per week for 52 weeks.

   Company            Total          Salary         Other        Per Minute
General Electric  21,428,765  7,300,000  14,128,765     171.20
Halliburton         14,893,916  1,358,500  13,535,416     119.34
IBM                   31,718,608  1,800,000  29,918,608     254.16
Gen. Dynamics   13,751,115  4,500,000    9,251,115     110.19
Ford                  26,520,515  4,550,000   21,970,515     212.50

     During the two minutes you have spent reading this article, the CEO of IBM would have earned $508.32. The earnings of a median worker would have been $.54.
     Not too bad.

* Earnings reported by Executive Paywatch.
My books, “There Are Only Seven Jokes” and “The Spirit Runs Through It” are available in paperback, or at the Kindle Store.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays

Meaning (mëning), n. what is intended to be, or actually is, expressed or indicated. (Webster's Encyclopedic Unabridged Dictionary).

At this season a large number of letter-writers to the editor of any newspaper express concern over the use of the term “Happy Holidays” instead of the traditional “Merry Christmas.” The writers feel that the holiday is somehow demeaned by the former greeting.
The meaning of any expression is what the speaker intends it to be – nothing more, nothing less. If the listener takes some other meaning from the expression for any reason, e.g, the speaker has expressed it badly, the listener did not hear it correctly, or even if he disagrees with the speaker, it has no effect on the meaning. For this reason, the speaker should be careful to say exactly what he means. If he is a Christian, and Christmas has its usual deep meaning for him, he should say “Merry Christmas.”
In return, if the listener truly intends for the speaker to celebrate the holiday in a meaningful way, he should reply in kind: “Merry Christmas.”
If the speaker means only that the listener should enjoy the spirit of goodwill which the season implies, there is nothing wrong with “Happy Holidays.” The most devout Christian, Jew or Muslim should take the greeting in the spirit in which it is offered: a goodwill wish for joy and celebration.
But what about the banners and signs in business establishments?
Again, it is the preference of the store management which guides the choice. It is definitely not out of line for, say, a Christian bookstore to have a “Merry Christmas” banner. But not wishing to offend any customers - Christian, Muslim, Jewish, etc. - a large department store will probably opt for “Happy Holidays.”
Political correctness has been blown way out of proportion. Although a word is only a sound we make to convey a meaning, there are some words which almost all people consider to be offensive, e.g., George Carlin's seven dirty words, or certain other words which are deliberately meant to be racial, ethnic or religious slurs. When these words are used, the speaker has demeaned himself far more than the object of his venomous outburst.
But whatever expression a speaker uses to convey goodwill, peace and joy, the listener should consider the intent behind the expression and accept the offering graciously, even though he might say it differently.
My books, “There Are Only Seven Jokes” and “The Spirit Runs Through It” are available in paperback, or at the Kindle Store.