Sat. Feb 07, 2009
My Brain As A Source Of Steam Power
There are days that I believe my brain could be a wonderful source of energy, if I could just tap the steam venting from my ears due to the acts of our elected representatives, and the businesses that support them. Three such stories are heating my home at the moment.
First, from right here in Georgia, we have the Peanut Corporation of America: “As far back as 2007, salmonella-laced products were shipped by a Georgia peanut company that knew the peanuts probably were tainted and sometimes after tests confirmed that contamination, inspection records show.”
They knowingly shipped tainted product. In the end, eight people died and nearly 600 more were made ill in 43 states.
In some circles, knowingly giving someone poisoned food is called “premeditated murder.” There are certainly people in Guantanamo who’ve done less.
Why is this company … still a company? Why are there no criminal charges yet filed?
Because we live in the Land Of No Accountability.
It’s a land where you can run your multi-billion dollar financial services company into the ground, cost your customers their nest eggs while giving out billions in bonuses, then get a government bailout to save your butt, and have your hefty salaries defended by sitting Senators against the $500,000 annual salary cap proposed by the President:
Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl (R-AZ) blamed the “tone deaf” bankers for creating the political environment that allows Obama to call for a cap.
“Because of their excesses, very bad things begin to happen, like the United States government telling a company what it can pay its employees. That’s not a good thing in America,” Kyl told the Huffington Post.
“What executives have done is troubling, but it’s equally troubling to have government telling shareholders how much they can pay the executives,” said Sen. Mel Martinez (R-FL).
Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK) said that he is “one of the chief defenders of Obama on the Republican side” for the president’s efforts to reach across the aisle. But, said Inhofe, “as I was listening to him make those statements I thought, is this still America? Do we really tell people how to run [a business], and who to pay and how much to pay?”GOP Opposes Pay Limits On Bailed-Out Bankers
Yes, sir, Senator, we do. We tell them “you may forgo a public bailout, go bankrupt, and pay yourself whatever you want out of the remnants. But if you’ve run your company to the point it is  too big to fail,  is failing anyway, and  therefore requires a bailout to stay in business, you have already effectively lost control of your company, and you will have to live by the terms of the lenders. Or go home. This is life in the ‘free market’.”
We tell them, “Apple Inc. is free to pay Steve Jobs and his VP’s as much as they wish, because they haven’t run their company so poorly they required a bailout. You, however, need some forced humility.”
We tell them, “the fact you are being allowed to keep ANY job, never mind one earning a half million per year, makes you far, far, FAR luckier than the 600,000 Americans who lost their jobs in January.”
Then you tell them to STFU before a rider is added demanding that all CEO’s and board members of bailed out companies must resign immediately, due to their clear professional failure. Because they deserve to lose their jobs far more than the 600,000 who lost theirs in January.
Of course, that pay cap was a part of the stimulus package that the Senate is still arguing about. It’s my understanding that Republicans have pointed out $19 billion in spending in this package that they consider wasteful.
It’s about an $800 billion package, so that’s about 2% “waste.” Or as we know from our American advertising, it’s “98% pure” or “98% fat free.”
And some of the objections are laughable. One example:
What in heaven’s name does Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell have against honeybees?
That question haunted my days after I saw the Kentucky Republican on TV fulminating about a provision he found in the proposed government stimulus package. The provision, he said, would provide $150 million for “honeybee insurance.”
“This is nonsense,” he said, as if he took it personally. You had to think he got stung as a kid or maybe caught a local swarm in the act of recruiting aphids for Al Qaeda.
Their campaign was joined Tuesday by Sen. David Vitter (R-La.), who stood on the floor of the chamber challenging “any member to come and explain what that provision was.”
I’m no senator, but I’m pleased to inform Vitter that it is, in fact, a disaster insurance program for all livestock producers. Beekeepers obviously would be minor beneficiaries next to, say, cattle ranchers, so it’s a tad bit dishonest to label the whole program “honeybee insurance.”
The provision simply continues a program enacted by Congress last year, overriding a veto by President Bush. In other words, the Senate voted on it twice in 2008 — once to enact and once to override. Connoisseurs of political comedy will see the punch line coming: McConnell and Vitter voted yea both times.
So it turns out that McConnell isn’t really against honeybees. He’s only using them to pretend that he’s got a principled objection to a stimulus plan aimed at pulling the country out of the most severe recession in decades.
The honeybees, and the rest of us, are merely collateral damage.Michael Hiltzik: Republican buzz on stimulus plan has no sting
So, he’s now raising Cain about the extension of an expenditure he already voted for twice, once over the objections of his party leader. In other words, he was for it … twice … before he was against it.
For me, the steam comes from these silly word games our elected leaders play while the majority suffer. For others, the issues are far more near and dear:
As a mother of a severely disabled child I resent the question posed by the Republican leadership, and the stance of the party against special education funding for years, how is funding special education stimulative?
I had my baby. This is what you want, right? Moms to do the right thing and bear the disabled child? OK – she’s here. Where is the help, the love, the care, the support from the party that encourages this anti-abortion behavior?
Education is stimulative. Special education more so. For every child in regular ed, we hire 1/32 of a teacher. For every child in special education we hire 1/10 of a teacher, 1/5 of an aide, 1/10 of a bus driver, some part of a nurse, some part of an occupational therapist, a speech therapist, a physical therapist.
These are GOOD jobs and these are people who do good works every day of their work lives, works that most of us do not do, and that many of us, apparently, would not even pay for.Chambliss, Isakson will vote against Obama stimulus package
The market on “tone deafness” has not been cornered by the CEO’s of financial services companies. It has always resided in the greatest quantity in the US Congress.
For now. However, events like the above make me think it is very possible that much of it will be forcibly shipped out in 2010. The people who are more concerned with winning some partisan battle than with fixing our country’s huge problems, may find in 2010 that they become far more familiar with the unemployment lines so many Americans are in today.