Friday, August 19, 2011

Sorry, I gotta run out on you for a while. I've got "Mal de Republicanism."

I'm gone until after the Labor Day Weekend. I'm outta here. On vacation. I have my reasons for blowing town.

First of all, I'm having problems with Republicans stealing my stuff. Now, Republicans haven't had an original idea in years. Their political ideas were new three centuries ago. Their notions of religion and freedom of religion are medieval. Their ideas about economics and science have the sophistication of a Neanderthal throwing rocks at an elephant

To make up for a complete lack of imagination, they steal. They make money for their rich buddies by stealing money from the middle class and the poor. (I guess they've either got the Robin Hood story backwards, or identify with the Sheriff of Nottingham.) Okay, the world is watching when they pull that kind of flim-flam. But I draw the line at their stealing from me.

At the beginning of this month, I posted a piece suggesting that Eric Cantor and other "Tea Party" Republicans were treasonous in their political behavior, which was sinking the U.S. economy.

And guess what? As you've probably read in the papers and noticed on TV, Rick Perry, the know-nothing governor of Texas who's seeking the Republican nomination "suddenly" got the bright idea of declaring that Fed Secretary Ben Bernake is guilty of "treason" and sinking the U.S. economy. They stole my hammer. And now they're trying to drive a rubber band into a brick wall with it.

Is somebody on the Perry campaign staff is gleaning my cranky little blog for ideas? (Is that really you, Rick?") Mabe.

Or maybe it was merely a coincidence – a spontaneous idea that flew into Rick's mouth. At any rate, I've had it with the Republican crazies and those who kowtow to them. I've had it with Michelle Bachmann. I've had it with the sudden reemergence of Christine O'Donnell. I've had it with Ron Paul, Rand Paul, Sarah Palin, and – well, you get the idea.

So I'm taking a short vacation, from this blog, from work, even from New York.

See you in September.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

How the middle class is getting nickeled and dimed to death

NOTE: Don't leave until you watch the video at the bottom of this rant.

Yikes! The month's electric bill arrived yesterday from my power supplier, Consolidated Edison of New York. According to their bill, I used 116 kilowatt hours of power. for which they’re charging 13. 3190 cents per kilowatt hour, a total of $15.95.

Therefore my bill ought to have been $15.95, right? Hell no! It was $48.56.

So how can anybody be billed $48.56 for $15.95 (retail value) worth of electricity? I am so glad you asked?

1. The "somebody else is a deadbeat" charge. Con Edison charged me a 55-cent “Merchant function charge.” What’s that? Con Ed helpfully explains that it’s a “Charge associated with procuring electricity, credit and collection related activities and uncollectible accounts.” Which means, in part, that they’re charging me extra because they couldn’t get the money out of some anonymous deadbeat, so they're taking it out of my pocket. God help us all if Con Ed's chairman ever goes to Las Vegas and loses his own wad.

2. The "you-pay-my-taxes" charges. Con Ed also charged me for “Taxes on Con Edison gross receipts from sales of utility services and other tax surcharges.” In other words, I’m paying a tax because I, and a bunch of other consumers, gave them money and Con Ed doesn’t want to pay its own taxes on the money we're pouring into their coffers.

3. The "shipping not included" charge. I paid a “delivery” charge of $10.78 because the power company is “maintaining the system through which Con Edison delivers electricity to you.” It's like having an extra charge tacked on to your groceries because the supermarket has to sweep out the store at night. Well, I suppose the power company is entitled to a delivery charge, although a charge costing two-thirds of what the product itself costs sounds a trifle steep to me. Suppose you bought a necklace for, say, $1,000 and the jeweler tried to charge you $666 for delivery. See what I mean?

4. The "this is only temporary (har-har!)" charge. I have to pay charges for renewable energy, a “temporary” New York State surcharge of 46 and a half cents per kilowatt hour (I’m betting that charge is "temporary" until they raise it to 63 cents). There was also another gross receipts tax on the “delivery” charges that Con Ed socked me with, plus there were sales taxes. These brought the bill for my less-than-fifteen-and-a-half bucks worth of electricity up to the $48.56.

I keep finding the same kind of nickel-and-dime charges on my cell phone, cable, Internet connection and landline telephone bills. While buying legislators to destroy the middle class by reducing the services, benefits and Social Security and Medicare support you and I get from the government, the corporate honchos get bigger and bigger salaries and tax breaks. And now they're doing even more to destroy us with these blood-from-a-stone charges.

Which brings me to this:

Monday, August 08, 2011

Is Rep. Eric Cantor deliberately trying to sink the U.S. economy to line his own pockets? If so, it isn’t politics he's playing, it's treason.

Mr. Cantor, the Republican congressman from Virginia, may be trying to line his own pockets by working to destroy the U.S. economy, if you read between the lines of this article.

In essence, he's gambling that he'll make a lot of money if we suffer an economic collapse – the kind of collapse brought on by a loss of confidence in the U.S. Dollar and the U.S. Treasury. And that's just the thing that's happening now thanks to Cantor's no-budging-on-the-budget stand on the debt ceiling.

Such an act isn’t merely politics. It isn’t merely greed. It’s an act of war against the United States that will contribute to the ruin the national economy – an act committed so that Eric Cantor can make money while millions of Americans lose their jobs, their homes, and their standard of living, and while the United States capacity to defend itself is weakened. I read that as treason, pure and simple. Treason, treason, treason!

Thursday, August 04, 2011

Moron Business 101 for Budget Balancing Republicans (and also for President Barack Obama)

Okay, ladies and gentlemen. Welcome to your first day at the College for Dummies, class for slow learners in economics and business administration. Let’s start with a quiz.

For the following question, let’s assume that you own a candy store that brings in $30,000 a year and that it is in debt for $30,000.

Let us also assume that you also want to stay in business and not turn into the most ghastly failure in your town’s business history. However, you have some problems.

Your overhead is $15,000 a year. Fresh stock costs you $15,000 a year. You’re nearly out of stock, and a lot of your products are old, stale, out of date, and looking tired. Moreover, the big, new, and very shiny China Candy Store across the street not only sells fresher candy, but also milk shakes and hamburgers, so it’s attracting nearly all of the business you used to get.

Oh, and one more thing: A friendly banker is ready, willing and able to lend you all the money you want – provided you use it to buy fresh candy and other products, freshen up your store’s infrastructure, and advertise.

Should you:

A) Say, “No, I’m going to pay off my debt first so my son won’t have to inherit any debt when I die. To do that, I’m not going borrow any moey so I can sell fresh candy or renovate my store or add new products and employees. Instead, I’m going to keep selling stale candy until I run out of stock and have nothing to sell and no customers. That’s the only practical way to pay down what I owe and leave something for my son.

B) Borrow enough money from your friendly banker to get fresh stock, open up a milkshake and hamburger counter that competes with the China Candy Store across the street, and renovate your premises so it will look nicer and attract more business than your competitor’s. Oh, and also spend some money on advertising, so people will know what a great candy store you’re running these days and will want to patronize your store again. As the money starts coming in, use some of it to slowly pay off your debt, and the rest to keep refreshing your stock, your advertising, your product offerings, and to hire new employees to handle the overflow business you start getting.

C) Go home and beat the crap out of your wife, Democrata. Tell her it’s all her damn fault that you’re in hock and you’ve got almost no customers left, and that if she didn’t keep asking you to borrow some more money to get your business restarted, everything would be better.

D) Call your banker and say, “Look asshole, stop saying that if I don’t borrow some money and fix up my business and start selling more, new and better products I’m gonna go bankrupt. Bankruptcy isn’t so bad. Even if the Sheriff padlocks my store, people can pass money to me through the mail slot and I can slip stale candy back at them through the same slot. And if the Sheriff has the nerve to seal the mail slot, I'll pass the candy through the keyhole. And that way I can pay off my debt. And if the sheriff comes and starts selling off my stale candy and store fixtures, the money from those sheriff’s auctions will pay off some of the debt, too.

E) Borrow money from your banker, but instead of using it to by fresh stock and renovate your store, use it to firebomb the China Candy store across the street. And maybe some of those Muslim-owned stores down the block.

ANSWER: If you chose B. You’re a Democrat. If you chose A, C, D, or E you’re either a Republican and an idiot, or you’re Barack Obama trying to pretend you’re reasonable.