May 28, 2010
Oh. Sure. Blame the whiskey.
Some asshole in Montana got drunk and took a shot at a cop. The officer, rightfully, shot back at him and put said asshole out of the misery of (apparently) just about everyone who knew him. Sadly, this is the kind of thing that happens too often in this country, one of the many reasons I try to be nice when I'm being stopped. Imagine what it's like for an officer working traffic, never knowing if the person they've stopped is going to pull a gun.
But that's not really the point of this post. No, this is about an asshole who was, according to everyone who knew him, an asshole because of whiskey.
Witnesses testified Tuesday that Davis' taste for whiskey and a bad case of jealousy were to blame for the fatal confrontation.
Shannon Diaz, bar manager at Hamilton's Office and Silver Coin Casino, said Davis was acting strange enough on the evening of Jan. 1 that she wouldn't serve alcohol to him.
"He was completely not like himself ... when he starts drinking whiskey, he just completely turns into a different person," Diaz said.
She told him he needed to leave.
Davis returned later and found his girlfriend, Diaz and another man sitting outside. The man - who is African-American - had loaned Davis' girlfriend his coat.
That set off Davis, Diaz said.
He shouted racial epithets and later texted the same to his girlfriend. When he returned to the bar, Diaz had bouncers and her husband put him out.
She said someone later received a text message saying Davis had a gun.
Tracy Womack, owner of the Ponderosa Bar, said Davis was fine when she first saw him around 9 p.m., but she knew he'd been fighting with his girlfriend when he came back later and continued drinking.
When Davis' girlfriend came back to the Ponderosa later, she asked to hide behind the bar.
"She sat on a little stool. ... She didn't want him to see her," Womack said.
He spotted her the second time he came back and started yelling racial epithets at her again. Womack told him to leave.
"I knew I needed to protect her and get him gone," she said.
Davis moved to the Rainbow Bar, where he continued to drink.
The bartender there, Nicholas Renzo, remembered wrapping up Davis' hand, which was bleeding.
"He said he hit a wall or something. ... Anyone who knows him, knows he shouldn't drink whiskey," Renzo testified. "He gets violent."
He later told Renzo later he had a gun.
Just before Davis got ready to leave at about 1:30 a.m., he looked at Renzo and told him "It was nice knowing you. I'm not going to see you for a while."
Renzo said he thought was the alcohol talking.
This guy was shouting racial epithets at someone who was just talking to his girlfriend? Yeah, it wasn't the whiskey. This guy was just an asshole.
I'm writing about this because it pisses me off when people blame liquor for behaving like dicks. Liquor did nothing to these people, except try to give them a little happiness and booze shits. Even the cheapest, nastiest whiskey doesn't demand that you try to murder a policeman just to make it happy.
May 26, 2010
Choking on 39%'s failure
Since 39% and his appointees at TCEQ have consistently failed to protect the citizens of this state in the name of ever expanding profits for the Governor's largest donors, the EPA had to step in and take over the permitting process for 40 facilities around the state. This action is, of course, unprecedented and completely due to the lack of any real oversight at TCEQ.
“We've (the EPA) never objected to 40 permits issued by a state permitting authority, and we've not federalized a permit in a state in this manner before unless we were requested to do so by a state or a particular facility,” Armendariz said. “The action we're taking today, together with the 40 objections, is unprecedented.”
The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, which issues permits, released a letter from Executive Director Mark R. Vickery to the EPA that lays out the state agency's efforts and communication with the EPA and said it “remains committed to reaching resolution of Title V (operating permit) objections.”
“We still have significant differences in opinion on a number (of) issues, but processes for moving forward have been developed,” Vickery wrote. “A collaborative effort will continue to be beneficial for both agencies' limited resources and the continued protection of the environment and public health.”
Oh, Mark... you've done an appallingly bad job of protecting public health. Here are just a few examples of your failure featured in the Texas Observer. We've even discussed some of the problems with the revolving door between TCEQ and industry. Frankly, you should be giving thanks that EPA hasn't turned TCEQ and 39% over to the Justice Department for prosecution under RICO.
39% was about as angry as a hornet since he's facing a stiff challenge on the campaign finance front from Bill White. Without the polluters he's protected from actually having to do much of anything to reduce their emissions, he's going to have a tough time raising money. With the EPA stepping in, they don't really need to pay off 39% any more since they're going to be spending a lot of money to actually, you know, install pollution control equipment.
“Because Texas involves the Legislature, TCEQ, business owners and the public in the process, and focuses on results instead of big-government control, our state’s air is cleaner than it was ten years ago and our economy is stronger than most other states.
That part about the air being cleaner? That's because the Fed's made us start burning additives in auto fuels and using cleaner diesel. Texas fought both actions tooth and nail, by the way. Not to mention the fact that as individuals started polluting less, industry started polluting more. The Observer has a nice little counterpoint for that 'our air is cleaner' lie...
Garcia and his colleagues frequently cite gains in urban air quality over the past decade or so. They usually fail to mention that the reductions are the result of federal mandates, or that local elected officials in the Metroplex and Houston have had more aggressive smog-cutting ideas repeatedly shot down by the TCEQ.
What pisses me off most about this is that we have a coward Governor who is the preferred cockwipe for polluters. The question is, Governor, WHERE THE FUCK ARE YOUR BALLS? Why aren't you telling polluters who refuse to clean up their act that if they leave, the state will take over the plant and run it at cost, completely eliminating ANY potential gain from moving the plant overseas to a more pollution friendly environment? You sure do love eminent domain, why the hell not use it for something good? THAT'S how you dance with the big boys, moron. You threaten to bankrupt their companies and watch how quickly they fall over themselves to do whatever is necessary.
The reality is that every other state requires far stricter controls. The only reason these businesses are here is because they know they can spew anything they want into our air and water without so much as a slap on the wrist from TCEQ. In fact, their management teams will, if so desired, be able to obtain a deeeeeelightful hummer from 39% as a thank you for making Texas home to what is usually their most pollutive enterprise.
The EPA is forced to step in and do the job we taxpayers pay TCEQ to do and 39% puffs out his chest and starts talking about the 10th Amendment? What an asshole.
May 25, 2010
Oh, I agree
Harold Cook took a bite out of the highly subjective PolitiFact and in the process gave me some great laughs. Go check it out when you have a chance.
May 23, 2010
Don't Cluck For Me Nevada
Not if you're within 100 feet of a polling place, that is.
Voters dressed in chicken costumes won't be allowed inside Nevada polling places this year.
State election officials on Friday added chicken suits to the list of banned items after weeks of ridicule directed at Republican Senate candidate Sue Lowden.
The millionaire casino executive and former beauty queen recently suggested that people barter with doctors for medical care, like when "our grandparents would bring a chicken to the doctor."
May 22, 2010
Balczak on Balzac
Sometimes I like to imagine how much better I'd be doing if only I were a sociopath. Allow me to explain.
Balzac (and here I'm referring to the 19th century French playwright; not that weird and annoying rhetorical device of referring to oneself in the third person like Bob Dole and many professional athletes do...because by the way that would mean I misspelled my own name - Balczak - Um, OK, now this is too long a parenthetical for the original idea of the sentence to be decipherable, so let me start over now that you know I really mean Honore' de Balzac and not myself).
Balzac once coined the phrase "the oily wheels of every fortune" - essentially alluding to the idea that where there's wealth, there's probably what Waylon Jennings in his role as the narrator on Dukes of Hazzard would refer to as "some shuckin' and jivin'" going on in the backstory of how so much wealth concentrated in one place.
Now if you're rich and feeling all defensive reading this, it's not my intent to accuse you of chicanery, flimflammery or even hijinks. The only point here is that in the abstract, there are very few ways to honestly come by wealth without employing at least a little bit of gamesmanship. And the more money that's involved, the higher the probability that some portion of that wealth is "unearned" in some sense.
Put another way, you will never come by a dollar more honestly than by slaving over a vat of refried pinto beans for minimum wage at a Taco Bell. (It took me all of 9 days before I finally said "fuck honesty"). Conversely, further along the economic continuum, you might pull down an ample check in a cushy office gig even while devoting portions of your regular office hours to frivolous avocations like blogging (a purely hypothetical for-instance, by the way).
But if you really wanna make the big bucks, you have to totally free yourself of all guilt and compunction and just ask questions like "what sells?" and "how can I make the most amount of money for the least amount of effort?" Unfortunately, most of us have some glitch in our character that gets in the way of this. Usually it's something like ethics, pride, respect, or one of those other hang-ups our parents instilled in us at an unfairly young age before we were capable of putting up much resistance.
But not Tony Davis. He's reaching for the big brass ring. And so is his Turkish/Afrikaner lawyer buddy, "The Vast Cooter." Get a load of what scam these two have been running.
Now I know what you're thinking: "Harry, do you really need to mock a man's name in order to make your point?" My response: It ain't mockery if it's the truth. It just so happens that "Engin" is indeed a Turkish name meaning "Vast". My best guess is that "Derkunt" is Afrikaner, but I think we can all agree on the universal meaning of that name. So there.
Anyway, the point is, these two have made money hand-over-fist by selling an illusion of hope to desperate people willing to pay dearly for that illusion. In short, Tony D and Vast Cooter sell shit at premium shinola prices. My objection here isn't so much that they con prisoners looking for a way to dodge responsibility for their own actions. In that sense at least, these two are just karmic agents restoring some balance to the universe. (There's a jumping off point here to rant about people victimized by their own stupidity, but that's a whole 'nuther post, if not a theme for a whole 'nuther blog).
No, my real beef is that when I compare my prices to theirs, and consider the amount of effort that goes into my end product versus what apparently goes into theirs, well hell. I'm insanely jealous. I'll just leave it at that.
But at least today there is some consolation. As this story teaches us, there is great risk in the Balzacian pursuit of fortune. Sometimes people reach for the fortune and get caught while still oiled up between the wheels, as ol' Honore` might say. So it is gratifying to see that at least for Tony D and Vast Cooter, crime doesn't always pay.
It reminds me of a saying we have in our profession, "pigs get fat; hogs get slaughtered." If you're going to pursue the grand fortune, it might be your demise. If, on the other hand, you're willing to settle for a mere comfortable living, hawking your wares at a reasonable price in a nice office with time to occasionally blog, well, you just might get away with it.
May 19, 2010
Let's gut Greece
The Greek Prime Minister is threatening legal action against US banks
Greece is considering taking legal action against U.S. investment banks that might have contributed to the country’s debt crisis, Prime Minister George Papandreou said.
“I wouldn’t rule out that this may be a recourse,” Papandreou said, in response to questions about the role of U.S. banks in the crisis, in an interview on CNN’s “Fareed Zakaria GPS.” The program, scheduled for broadcast today, was taped on May 13. Neither Papandreou nor Zakaria mentioned any banks by name.
U.S. stocks fell and the euro slumped on concern that Europe wouldn’t be able to contain the debt crisis stemming from Greece. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index declined 1.9 percent May 14, while the euro fell below $1.24 for the first time since November 2008.
Papandreou said the decision on whether to go after U.S. banks will be made after a Greek parliamentary investigation into the cause of the crisis.
“Greece will look into the past and see how things went,” Papandreou said. “There are similar investigations going on in other countries and in the United States. This is where I think, yes, the financial sector, I hear the words fraud and lack of transparency. So yes, yes, there is great responsibility here.”
Oh, fuckall you piece of fucking shit. I HOPE OUR MOTHERFUCKING BANKS CONTRIBUTED TO A RUN ON YOUR SHITTY LITTLE COUNTRY. Why? These morons set their retirement age at 55 and don't pay their taxes. What did they think was going to happen? Oh, and they cooked the books to qualify to join the EMU. So, yeah, I think the Germans should be allowed to shit all over them.
You're going to 'look into the past'? Try a mirror, asshat.
And, once again, I'd just like to point out that if the demands of the teabaggers are just like the average Greek... early retirement and someone else to pay for it. Teabaggers, the ultimate socialists.
May 18, 2010
Oh, fuck... ANOTHER deficit hawk on the right
At WILLisms, there's a massive amount of concern about the deficit because of some IMF report.
While I'm not entirely sure what part of Social Security, Medicare/Medicaid or DoD Will would like to cut, I am certain the mook (I mean come on, he works for 39% and was crowing about that stupid Rasmussen poll that listed Latinos as 'other'*) probably thinks that cutting jobless benefits and food assistance for the poor will solve the problem entirely.
Of course, it won't. Will also apparently doesn't get that with an estimated 16% of the working age population either unemployed or underemployed, there's a whole lotta money going out and not a lot coming in to government (it's also worth noting that government's take of the national income is actually pretty low right now, thanks to the tax cuts the Democrats passed last year). It's during times like these you absolutely need government to do just that. The amazing thing is that as the economy strengthens, the money stops going out for assistance and starts getting paid in as taxes which automatically resolves the deficit, as long as we don't decide to cut taxes even further to the left on the Laffer Curve.
Will can't be expected to understand what the IMF was really saying since, according to Krugman, not many did. So, he took some time to explain it. Now by clicking here you can be smarter than Will.
Finally, as a variation on WHERE THE FUCK WERE YOU WHEN... that I always like to ask know-it-all dbags, I'd like to ask Will, DUDE, where the FUCK were you when Shrub and The Republicans turned a massive surplus into a deficit?
Hypocrisy makes me goddamn sick.
*Don't get me wrong... White, for me, embodies all the enthusiasm and excitement of a box of hair. However, he's eminently more able than 39% who, after his coyote shootout in Westlake (REALLY, MoFo?), really defines 'pussy'. I know girls who used to go jogging in the fucking Bronx without a gun and Rick Perry seriously felt threatened by a coyote? IN WESTLAKE?!?!
Pansy ass motherfucker. Another Republican who is all hat and no damn cattle.
May 17, 2010
Dull, lifeless and lackluster... and that's just Kim!
Most of you already know this but for those that don't (or need a reminder), I'm a huge fan of porno, but even I have to draw the line. F-list celebrity Kim Kardashian and some guy with a famous sister made a porno that, honestly, is so boring and without energy that it would drive a virgin to ask, "Yeah. So what's the big deal?"
If you're just desperate to rub one out, click here and prepare to be underwhelmed much like that time your grandparents took you to Aquarena Springs or some other similarly stale 'amusement' park.
May 16, 2010
Palin to 'write' new book
While I would title it 'The Grifter', Sarah Palin has decided to name her new book 'AssMonkey'. No. Wait. That's not right. Oh, yeah, she's calling it 'Blah. Flags. Words 'n Shit. Jesus. Burp'.
Sarah Palin is writing another book titled America By Heart: Reflections on Family, Faith and Flag. It will be a "compendium of items that inspire Palin: speeches, sermons, letters, literature and poetry, biography, 'even some of her favorite songs and movies,' as well as portraits of some "extraordinary men and women she admires," according to the prospectus released today by publisher Harper Collins.
Click the link and see what the commenters think will be some of the key points. As for Team McBlogger, we'll be releasing our own book in the fall. It's going to be a compendium (love them 50 cent words, Missus Pain) of things, people and places that piss us off. It'll also contain some amazing things that we think are really gross and/or titillating.
We know, it makes you tingle in your special place.
May 14, 2010
The evolution of privacy on Facebook
One of the many reasons why I'm less and less interested, daily, in Facebook.
May 13, 2010
Reg Reform : What fresh hell is this?
Sen. Lincoln's bill to spin off derivatives businesses of the banks survived yesterday, despite the efforts of Saxby Chambliss and the Republicans. Obviously, there are going to be some modifications to this proposal, probably something that allows the banks to keep derivative trading as part of the bank. What's making me happy is that the central thrust... exchange clearing, collateral requirements and some real transparency... will likely remain intact which does exactly what the market needs, create a stable insurance market for financial products. While the banks profitability will be reduced somewhat (they've been raping clients on derivative trades for decades on the open and the close), this will create a much bigger more stable market that will ultimately end up serving all participants well. Frankly, that's what makes the Republican argument so silly...
In floor debate, Mrs. Lincoln defended her tough rules. “The Chambliss amendment does not meet the test of what our markets require,” she said. “It is a stark reminder that if we do not act boldly in the face of the near collapse of our economy, tragic Wall Street abuses and abysmal regulatory failures, we will all suffer the consequences.”
Mr. Chambliss, echoing arguments from some bankers, warned that the legislation would harm businesses and drive derivatives trading to overseas markets outside the reach of American regulators.
“Our approach on transparency, on clearing, on end users, on capital requirements and on trading mandates are much more appropriate, much more reasonable, much more business-friendly,” he said. “My amendment will ensure that Main Street businesses will still be able to appropriately use derivatives in hedging their daily business risks.”
Sure. As an American business, I'm totally going to go set up a trade to hedge my risk on something with an unregulated (possibly undercapitalized) foreign bank and which I will only be able to settle with that bank. I will also be fine with the bank posting no collateral. Sen. Chambliss, that's just fucking retarded. Of course I won't; I'll enter the trade transparently, I'll know my counterparty has posted collateral and I know I can settle with an alternate party if needed. This argument is just bone headed dumb because it's like insurance... would you rather buy insurance from a respectable company that has an agent with a local office or from some guy in a conversion van in the parking lot at HEB representing a company that's overseas?
Sen. Lincoln deserves a ton of support based on this... what she's proposing would have stopped the collapse of AIG and saved tax payers $180 billion. Sure, the FP division was effectively unregulated, but with these regs, they wouldn't have been able to so egregiously cut their own throats.
There was a minor bit of comedy, courtesy of Republican Senator Brownback
In an unusually aggressive foray into the Senate floor debate on Wednesday, President Obama issued a statement in opposition to another Republican amendment, by Senator Sam Brownback of Kansas, that would exempt auto dealers from coming under the purview of a proposed new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
REALLY?!?! You want to exempt used car dealers? Is it because everyone knows they're paragons of integrity and excellent business ethics?
In his statement, Mr. Obama said the amendment would create a “special loophole for auto dealer-lenders” that “would carve out a special exemption for these lenders that would allow them to inflate rates, insert hidden fees into the fine print of paperwork and include expensive add-ons that catch purchasers by surprise.”
Thank you, Mr. President.
Todd Hill over a BOR has been interning with the Financial Services Roundtable and he's had some fun learning about the industry and reg reform. I think he's also come away with an appreciation for just how many different ways we can slice and dice an asset. He's done a series on reg reform (here and here) that's worth checking out as a primer ( I know I sometimes don't explain things too clearly). I wanted to just mention one thing with regard to Too Big to Fail (TBTF)...
While I think the asset caps are a good idea, there's a misconception regarding TBTF that somehow you can allow firms with smaller balance sheets to go into bankruptcy without negative effects on the rest of the banking system. That's false. The problem in 2008 wasn't that Bear Stearns or Lehman were too big to fail, it was that their failure would have had serious impacts across the board because of two big issues that are unlikely to change with any regulatory reform...
1) Derivative risk...both wrote a ton of derivative business and both had a lot of derivatives written on them with specific triggers related to credit events.
2) Mark to Market... when all banks are carrying the same or similar assets, if one large bank goes into an uncontrolled bankruptcy (where it must be liquidated rapidly), those assets will be selling at distressed prices. However, because of mark to market, those firesale prices become the market clearing price and everyone must change the valuation used for accounting purposes of the same or similar assets on their books. Suddenly, from just the collapse of one firm, you have gigantic holes in the balance sheets of 20 firms.
It's the second one that's a real killer, one of the reasons I really liked the bank funded workout fund since it could be used to effect an orderly dismantling of a firm. It's also one of the reasons we need a long term solution to FAS 157 that creates a concrete valuation model for illiquid or distressed assets based on performance and cashflow.
Until we get a real handle on accounting issues, TBTF is going to continue to haunt us.
Like a bunch of damn vampires
Travis County Commissioners voted yesterday to expand their blood drawing in accordance with state law by putting a phlebotomist on staff at Central Booking.
I know it'll come as a big surprise, but I don't have much of a problem with this. I do have a problem with the already too low blood alcohol limits in the state of Texas. The reality is that that the lower limit has done nothing to cut alcohol related accidents but has done a lot to increase alcohol related arrests that cost taxpayers millions per year.
I'm all for strong enforcement but can we please stop prosecuting people for DWI who are clearly not impaired?
May 12, 2010
Roundin' Up The TPA
The Texas Progressive Alliance hopes everyone had a lovely Mother's Day as it reviews the highlights from the blogs.
Neil at Texas Liberal posted a picture of the Mayflower landing in West Texas. Under Texas State Board of Education guidelines, you can teach kids just about anything as long as it is false.
WCNews at Eye On Williamson states that the 2003 Texas GOP/DeLay redistricting scheme continues to cost Texas dearly The perils at the national level of being a majority minority-party state.
Rick Perry's ad attacked Bill White's ad this past week, and Rick Perry's ad lost. Not because it was filled with lies and mischaracterizations, and not because it used Yao Ming in a weirdly inappropriate way. No, Rick Perry's ad got kicked because Rick Perry is man so terrified of everything in his life that even laser sights and hollow points aren't enough to comfort him. PDiddie at Brains and Eggs has "Perry v. White over the air", a fight which resembled Mayweather-Mosely in its one-sided outcome.
May 11, 2010
Shut it, Teabaggers!
While the teabaggers are bitching and moaning about their taxes, USA Today and CNN both have found out that taxes now are lower than they have been at any time since 1950, before most of these people were even born.
So, how about it, Teabaggers? You want to maybe cut the black guy a little slack BECAUSE HE GOT HANDED ONE FUCKING HELL OF A SHITTY DEAL AND HAS DONE A PRETTY GOOD JOB?
Taxed Enough Already... indeed. As for your bullshit about spending, more than half the federal budget is Social Security and Medicare/Medicaid. The other half is 90% interest on our existing debt and Defense spending. So, if we can't cut SS and M/M, how about we cut DoD?
(H/T to Katherine)
May 10, 2010
Knowing me, knowing the Teabaggers, ah ha
Yeah, ABBA should really be stuck in your head right now.
The NYT did a piece about what some thoughtful, intelligent people (and Amity Shlaes) thought about a poll conducted on behalf of the Times and CBS. Since you're going to learn so much about all those white, older, middle class and middle intelligence people (seriously, they want to cut the size of government but they want to keep Social Security as it is and keep their Medicare) and what they think, I thought it's only fair for me to let you know what I think...
I think the Tea Partiers are a bunch of fat, white old boomers who can't stand the fact that they never did as well as their parents and blame it all on taxes when they've actually had LOWER taxes than their parents. I think they're all a bunch of a selfish, greedy pigs who've fucked themselves by continuing to vote against what was really best for this country and themselves. I think Tea Baggers, though they'll never say it, are THRILLED that in eight years the President they loved (after that horrible Bill Clinton, the man who was President during our last period of real economic growth, who got a BLOW JOB in the WHITE HOUSE! OMG! WTF!) managed to double the federal debt while giving them a tax cut that covered their trips to the salad bar at Sizzler.
I'M really tired of fat, stupid, smelly old white people with bad fucking teeth who are on Medicare telling me that a public option is socialism. I'M really tired of people who rely on government services and want more from their government, yet bitch about their taxes. I'M tired of people who want tax cuts, but never cut spending (goddamn! don't you even think of taking their COLAs or their 'scrip money!) and vote for Republicans who lie and say you can have tax cuts and no deficits.
Yeah, that ain't fucking true, is it?
So that's what I think and feel... and I didn't even need a pollster to share it with you. I know I'm not alone so I'd like to invite all the tea baggers to shut the fuck up before we do vote to take away their goddamn Medicare because we don't feel like being burdened with the debt they're leaving behind.
The Rude Pundit also shared his feelings on the Teabaggers.
Nicely done, TDP
Lets also not forget that taxpayer dollars are being wasted interjecting the state into a divorce case (which also, strangely, has also included Toll Road Todd, our Agriculture Commissioner). Oh,and there's also this. This money could have been used to help the disabled and elderly (many of whom are Veterans) with food assistance. Instead, we spent it on a program that failed spectacularly. Oh, and Toll Road Todd was involved in taking money from the food program, too.
Can we please just say no mas with the R's? And to the peeps at TDP, damn fine work!
May 08, 2010
The jobs report and where we move from here
Don't kid yourselves, yesterday's jobs number was a blowout. Expectations steadily ratcheted up Thursday from a 140k increase to a 190k increase and the number still blew it away by 100k jobs. Add that to the increase in the February and March numbers by 120k and we now have much stronger job growth coming into this recovery than anticipated. The even bigger news is the household report which was FAR higher.
Which means shit like this ain't gonna fly much longer...
"Companies are still using productivity growth and cost-cutting as a major part of their business plan," said Joshua Shapiro, chief U.S. economist at forecasting firm Maria Fiorini Ramirez. "They are still being very slow to bring back people. Labor costs won't be an issue."
Nowhere is this more evident than at small businesses such as AlphaGraphics, where Alcanter is one of eight full-time employees, down from 12 two years ago. For those who remain, the modern-day mantra of "doing more with less" has changed the rhythm and intensity of daily life.
Brenda Middleton, 40, has been with the company for seven years, long enough for it to feel like family. It hurt when she saw four co-workers leave last year, three of them in layoffs. That's when she noticed the change in workload.
"It was a little bit of whiplash effect — you got used to doing less and now you have to do more," Middleton said. "When we did have to downsize, the people that remained were the ones who could wear more than one hat."
A few weeks ago, a corporate adviser visited to offer tips on efficiency. Middleton said the consultant observed her from afar and then told her that she was quick.
"I have to be, to get my work done," she replied.
The most disturbing thing to me about this recession has been the unnecessary depth of the cuts made in employment. Companies went way overboard with downsizing and have managed to muddle through by making retained employees work dramatically more. While employers can still replace employees, it's expensive. Employees, however, are already finding it easier to tell employers that they want a better deal or they're leaving.
Now, since we still have a high unemployment rate, it's unlikely that any real wage growth will occur since existing workers are already maxed and a raise won't result in more work. So, employers will continue hiring new people but even that will drive economic growth and eventually (as long as tax policy changes) lead to the holy grail, wage growth.
Now everyone is going to freak out about inflation and demand that the Fed raise interest rates...those people could really do with a nice tall glass of STFU. Here's what I'm looking at:
1) There is a eurozone debt restructuring (not a crisis, despite the media BS) problem which is driving investors into US assets. This is driving the dollar up, relative to the euro, but relative to other economies it's staying stable so it shouldn't hurt exports. It is, however, helping out nicely with oil prices which have come down aggressively which puts a huge lid on potential inflation.
2) Employment is still slack between full and current which means no wage push.
3) While growth is increasing and accelerating, there are still massive restrictions on credit and the balance sheet in the US, on the consumer side especially, continues to delever.
In other words, until we reach 4-5% unemployment, there's no reason to even think about increasing rates to slow growth.
So what does all this mean? For starters, it should be obvious that Republicans who poopoo'd the stimulus and other job saving programs were, you know, wrong. Just like we knew they would be. We also know conclusively that yes, the stimulus was too small and has taken too long to get into the economy, which was exactly what I and others said a year ago when Democrats caved to the Republicans demands for tax cuts vs. spending (here, here, here, here, here and here). Even still, despite it's diminutive size, if we'd just concentrated the entire package into spending, we could have had the recovery in employment long ago. Just so we're crystal on this, Republicans played politics with the entire country and as a result, caused a lot of people to stay out of work longer than they should have. And the President and Democrats let it happen for bipartisanship. People suffered to two political parties could work together. Doesn't that make you feel good?
At last it seems like the D's have finally realized that working in any way with the Republicans is just doomed to failure which is good news for them going into November. It's also going to be real clear, real soon that Republicans have been full of shit on economic issues since Reagan.
Finally, since there's been so much BS about the deficit, it's worth noting that the majority of the non-war, non-stimulus deficit is nothing more than a loss in tax revenue as a result of people out of work and extended benefit claims. With people going back to work, tax revenues go up and benefit claims go down. In other words, we may not have a deficit too much longer. Maybe then we can start paying down some of the Republican debt that we accumulated during the Bush years.
May 07, 2010
It's quite a lot for those narrow, feminine shoulders
39% has had a pretty rough time lately for a variety of reasons that all revolve around a central theme... for years he's not had to monitor what he says or does in any way. Now, everyone is so sick of his act they're observing everything he does and they find most (if not all) of it, well, lacking.
Take his comment that the spill in the Gulf was an act of God and that we shouldn't rush to judgment. So far, no one is panicking about offshore drilling, especially when you consider that the safety systems have worked pretty damn well so far, not to mention that there are more than 3800 platforms in the Gulf that don't leak (well, at least not like this one). The issue is, this time safety features didn't work and just this one, minor, 5,000 bbl/day leak is causing a massive disaster. Even that wouldn't be a huge deal except for one thing... it's really closer to 200,000 bbl/day and is under tremendous pressure. This is the thing that people like 39% will never get, that offshore drilling is incredibly dangerous not only to people but to the environment. Now we have an open hole in the floor of the Gulf, spewing out raw crude at pressures that we clearly have problems controlling. It's like trying to control the flow from a firehouse with a thimble.
The issue for those of us living in the real world is that this was always bound to happen and blaming God for it is just like a lifetime hard drinker finally developing cirrhosis at 86 and blaming it on God. Given that it's happened, we need to do everything we can to refine safety plans and contingency plans. Frankly, BP's response to this has been pretty weak. We also need to look at real alternatives because, ecological disaster aside, at some point there's just not going to be any more to pump up. Further, BP needs to pay for the lack of safety...nationalization of BP's American assets should not be taken off the table. We could liquidate those assets and use the proceeds for the remediation that will be required into the foreseeable future.
But back to 39%... he also shot a coyote last week near his rental manse in Westlake. This one really gets me because, well, you usually just scare off a coyote unless you're running cattle in which case you shoot the coyote lest it cause problems for the herd. 39% has no cows, at least not at his taxpayer funded rental mansion in Westlake. So, we have to ask, WTF... and who the hell goes jogging with a damn gun? OTHER THAN people who live in the Bronx? Is 39% just the ultimate chickenshit, scared of his own shadow?
Then there was Leo Berman's decision to announce he'll be filing a bill to double to food prices in Texas. He expected 39%'s support but, instead, 39% kinda crapped all over Leo.
More bad weeks like this and Bill White's star keeps getting brighter.
May 06, 2010
Gee, I wish George Carlin were around to see this
You didn't skip the sidebar with Justice Breyer's concurring opinion, did you? Damn it. Go back and reread it.
Wouldn't it be great if this were an article from the Washington Post, reporting on what REALLY happened in Supreme Court news? Well it could be. It all starts with nominating Harold O. Balczak to the United States Supreme Court. So write your congressman and call the White House to show your support. I shit you not, bitches. I'm up to the fuckin' job.
In the meanwhile, let's all do our part to introduce the phrase "five ways from Fuddrucker's" into the public consciousness.
May 05, 2010
Dear Eurozone : Fuck Greece
Seriously, y'all, just let that little basket case of a country go down the motherfucking tubes? Retirement at 55 with a full government pension?!?!? Oh, and more than a third of the population doesn't pay any tax and the rest of the country is actively engaged in tax evasion?
Cut these fuckers lose and let them sink into the Aegean.
Fuck Greece. Honestly, it's like a teabagger heaven... They get government services, but they don't pay for them. And now, you get to see what happens as a result, your country goes broke and no one gives a shit about it.
May 04, 2010
Dewhurst, you ignorant slut
Unless you've been trapped under Bill Hammond's ample ass (IT JUST NEVER GETS OLD), you're aware that the state is facing a massive budgetary shortfall in the next biennium because of incompetence on the part of the Lt. Governor, Governor and Republican leadership.
Well, it's also due to a particularly nasty recession but they can't really use that as an excuse since 39% says we're doing just swell (which even R's don't believe any more but is still funny since it means we've finally reached the point where The Big Lie can't overcome Reality). We could use federal money to close the gap, but the Republicans have been bitching about bailouts and debt publicly (and privately, with Republican members of the Texas Congressional delegation, begging for as much federal money as they can get their hands on. Go on, say it ain't so, 39%). Needless to say, our options are either
1) Massive cuts to essential services
2) Raising revenue through (gasp!) taxes
Dumb David Dewhurst finally figured that out and said as much in this piece. But then he went on to say that doing away with Health Care Reform was a big priority because it was going to cost the state a bunch of money. Which it won't since the Feds are picking up most of the tab (that whole efficiency thing).
So, why did Dewhurst lie? It can't just be to throw reporters of this scent of his incompetence since their nostrils are lousy with that stench. So what is it? Did he just not understand the problem?
May 02, 2010
Plop Plop, Fizz Fizz
They say some goober head tried to set off a car bomb in Times Square last night. The explosion didn't amount to much, though. Apparently most of the bomb material had mistakenly been placed in Jay Leno's routine at the White House Correspondents' Dinner.