Saturday, January 30, 2010

the picking of pockets...

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Calvin: "Do you believe in the devil? You know, a supreme evil being dedicated to the temptation, corruption, and destruction of man?"

Hobbes: "I'm not sure that man needs the help”



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My friend Carol, a schoolteacher in California, told me about this story...

In Madera just recently, the local school district superintendent received a 9% raise:


Budget-tight Madera Unified gives chief a raise


Facing severe budget cuts last year, the Madera Unified School District was forced to furlough workers, increase class sizes, and lay off more than 30 teachers and two dozen other employees.

But last month -- as another round of cuts loomed -- the district's board of trustees offered Superintendent John Stafford a new contract with benefits that equaled a 9% raise. It also promised him a retirement bonus. He was the only superintendent among similar-size school districts in the area to get a raise.

Teachers and union leaders were outraged. They chided the board for giving the district's top administrator a raise at a time when teachers are being pressured to work harder and, in some cases, are buying school supplies with their own money.

Stafford said that even though he asked for the new benefits in his contract, he didn't expect it would be so generous.


So what the heck is going on? I mean this isn't uncommon, this apparent spending of money like rich folk, when really there just isn't any money to be spent and others are making cuts and trying trying to find ways to make this all not hurt so much.

I've heard it said that every dollar spent on education is worth two dollars to society. I also know that one of the chief factors in keeping people out of prison is education. One overriding common denominator shared by those housed in our gulag of jails and prisons is that they are grossly illiterate and have only middle school education levels.

So, what's up MADERA? You lay off 30 teachers and your suprintendent of schools gets a raise? That must be one hot rocket of a super - a super superintendent - I tell you what. Because even tho' 30 teachers have been laid off you didn't have an equitable decline in student enrollment I'm sure...

This is one of those head-shaking moments... sigh... if someone can explain the wisdom in this (or even any common sense to it), please advise. Thanks...

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When the economy debacle hit there was a story that caught my eye:

Retirement Savers Lost $2 Trillion in the Stock Market


and rather than quote the story I'm grabbing this comment:


Lost Money

I'm 58, retired and totally disabled. My wife and I lost over 70% of our retirement based on what our "financial adviser" at Merrill Lynch told us. What a laugh. Now we are scrambling to keep our house, food in our mouths and medicine in our blood streams.

Does anyone know of law suits, individual or class action against Merrill Lynch for abusing and violation their fiduciary duties???

Just drop me an email-----

Regards

S.


So was there a bailout for the working folks like S? Didn't think so...

... but now we need to move on to this Mammonistic bit of gluttony - the Wall Street/Banking bonuses.

I'm not sure if our heads are entombed in the sand or we're (we being you and I, the distinctly individual citizens) just really not able to communicate with each other anymore but I know this blue collar, under employed senior male is pissed off. C'mon... what the hell!

- ok, I'm about to go off on a tangent so I'm gonna save that tangent and not digress, as hard as that is for me to do -

Here are 3 different takes on these executive bonuses, I found them to be both entertaining and relevant:

The earnings report for Main Street: A sorry account, indeed

Prakash Laufer


To add insult to injury to working America, in came the earnings reports from Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan Chase. At these mega banks, balance sheets are healthy, profits are up and bonuses for top executives are bigger than ever. JPMorgan Chase just reported $11.7 billion in profits and $26.9 billion in compensation and bonuses. Goldman Sachs made a record-high profit of $13.4 billion in 2009 and is slated to hand out $16.2 billion in compensation and bonuses.

These are some of the same institutions whose predatory and unethically risky actions brought our economy to its knees. But, thanks to billions of dollars in government resuscitation, they seem to be recovering nicely from their near-death experiences.

The "earnings report" for the rest of the U.S., however, includes — drum roll, please — higher unemployment and continued foreclosures, with no relief in sight. It sounds like a raw deal because it is. Big banks and Wall Street financiers ignited the foreclosure crisis, setting our economy ablaze, resulting in the loss of millions of homes and jobs.


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Tax Wall Street Bonuses

Jim Hightower


Start with those bonuses. Yes, say the bankers, we're stuffing ourselves with money that we should be loaning out to help Main Street recover from the crash we caused, but – hey – we've also started a few charities to help, you know, the little people. So buzz off, killjoy.


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and then this little dittie from that bastion of the liberal media, CNN Money:

Botox to vacations: Where bankers spend their bonuses

Blake Ellis


Wall Street bankers are putting together their wish lists for 2010 -- and they're not holding back. After last year's dry spell, bonuses for top-level executives are expected to be sky high. Maybe even records.

At Goldman Sachs and Chase these execs are anticipating bonuses of more than $500,000 a piece, on average, so they'll have plenty to spend.


Read that one and weep, suckers!

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But seriously, back to my digression which is now no longer a digression! I knew I could do it... now what was it again?

... oh yeah...

I'm pissed! Listen, if there is someone using the terms liberal or conservative as hot button words, trying to get a rise from folks by lambasting in what I guess they hope is Twainesque in its literary brilliance, ignore the bastards! And you know who I'm talking about - the Limbaughs and his loud-mouthed peers. And I'm not talking about just those on Limbaugh's end of the political scale, I'm talking about all across the political field.

We cannot afford to be divided further. Lord knows we can always find reasons to not like and hate each other. Heck, a lot of us can't get along with our own families let alone neighbors or strangers, but we really have to take a break. We can't afford to let our national experiment in liberty fail. (and liberty has nothing to do with government)

Liberty is essential, it's like water. Without it we die. Either physically or spiritually... we die without the essentials.

Liberty, freedom... that is a state of being. It is in our contract, a universal declaration of individual human sovereignty. But with that sovereignty comes a great weight of responsibility. Because to be free we cannot deny freedom to another. Freedom is reciprocal recognition of another's right of existence as much as it is of our own existence. Were this a world of only one... cooperation would need not exist. But there are 7 billion of us crowding together here on this earth.

And we allow others to excite us to dischord at our own expense and at great risk to our social order. Finding ways to hate one another takes no effort, but it does tend to create a need for a referee - aka government. And the more dischordant we become the more need for someone to break up the fights.

We've moved beyond (and yes there are still some bastions of ignorance remaining where this doesn't hold true) using inciteful speech like "nigger." I mean I was a kid who thought the story of Little Black Sambo (there was a Sambo's restaurant chain - try opening a restaurant with that name today!) was great. I loved it. The first time I saw a black man I asked my dad if that man was little black Sambo. I'll wager he was embarrassed just a bit.

I see it these days... skin color is about as significant as hair color. We notice but we move on. So what keeps us apart? Why are we allowing our pockets to be picked like this? How can 1% of the population hold as much wealth as the the bottom 50%?

If someone is using inflammatory rhetoric, ignore them! Seriously... we need to seek cooperation, we need to create cooperation, we need to work this out together, cooperating is the only way to do do that! And this is a big ship and it's gonna take some strong arms to keep that wheel turning us back to the good.

It is not a competition of insults - that's for friends - and those who insult are a large part of the problem. They're the scab pickers that won't let wounds heal.

[and trust me, I'm not a liberal, I am a true independent and take my own stands on issues - the two party system is also part of the problem but that is another whole blogpost - æ]

So listen for venom, don't get sucked in thinking there is another segment of humanity that for some reason needs reviling. We're all the same, we all were once seed and egg (except for Dick Cheney), and those who seek to divide us are our enemies.

Those who seek to divide us... from within or without...

are our enemies.


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Reason # 32 for not tailgating...

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“Every kind of peaceful cooperation among men is primarily based on mutual trust and only secondarily on institutions such as courts of justice and police”

- Albert Einstein

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