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It’s Enough To Make You Sicker!

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It's been just over a week since I wrote about my ongoing adventures with "the best health care in the world" (many thanks again to those of you expressing support!), and the hits just keep on coming! While the American medical system remains on my short list, they are not the main problems of which I relate in this post. They are just the mitigating circumstance which make the new problems worse.

To set the stage for one side of the Rock-and-Hard-Place condition in which I find myself, I present this article which related the findings a study conducted by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research. This study found a correlation between workers not having sick days and the spread of the swine flu. One such employer -the infamous Wal-Mart, world's largest exploiter of low-wage labor — has such a convoluted sick day policy that I'm amazed that it's even possible for one of their "associates" to take off sick. You can't take a sick day until three conditions are met: 1) you have to have worked for Wal-Mart continuously for six months, 2) you have to use up your personal leave day (if you have one — an "associate" doesn't earn one of those until after a year of continuous employ) AND 3) that your supervisor approves your absence. You know the drill here: "If you KNEW you were going to be sick, why didn't you schedule this day off four weeks ago when I was making up the schedule? Now we're going to dock your pay!"

Wal-Mart's policies are so Dickensian, some people have quit their jobs rather than try to keep up with Wal-Mart's ridiculous policies. Wal-Mart reserves the right to terminate "associates" if they accrue too many demerits for being sick, no matter what the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend. So if you know you aren't going to get well quick, your job dies quicker. How Republican! Just try to get reimbursed when their desperate employees make a mistake which costs you YOUR job!

I only raise this issue because I just received a letter from my employer practically accusing me of faking my illness, threatening to find me conducting "an unauthorized absence", and making me subject to termination. My doctor is to submit a report justifying my absence (in progress), and they reserve the right not to believe him. They also reserve the right not to allow me to come back to work even if I'm better, and to compel me to visit a doctor of their choice (at least they will pay for the visit!) should they reject my doctor's explanation.

But Wait! There's More! Having introduced you to Rock, I now present Hard Place!

On a completely unrelated issue, my homeowner's insurance is trying to force me to make expensive repairs in the next six weeks or else they will drop my coverage. The repairs must be made by a licensed contractor, and photographic proof of completion must be submitted along with the invoices. Even if I wasn't off work as I have been, I couldn't meet this schedule and remain solvent. The entire function of my home would be disrupted for weeks, even if I found a qualified contractor to do the work. I know that few vendors are stocking many of the supplies they would need (I know – I've begun the repair work myself just prior to my ailment striking and I always had to wait for delivery). So there is little likelihood that the repairs would be completed in the time frame allowed, even if I took off work to spend full-time locating and overseeing the necessary craftsmen. This puts me back to having my job be at risk due to a lack of attendance.

I only have one possible outcome for this, and that is to not renew my insurance. I will also be taking away the numerous auto insurance policies we have with the same underwriter. It's the only thing I can do to protest the shoddy treatment I've been handed by an ambitious agent seeking to score points with the higher-ups. At the risk of being a bit petty myself, I hope her Scrooge-y actions cost her HER job!

That's enough about my personal issues. The family has taken a couple of hits as well. Mrs. Realist has been notified that her employer is to conduct layoffs, and she could be among those affected. We just went through this process last year, and repeating the experience isn't doing her sense of well-being any good. Somehow this is all my fault. Enough said about that.

My son Bookseller just got his hours cut again. His management has instituted a point system for sales, yet they have not been scheduling him for any sales work. He's been called in for every shift but sales, and thus has "earned" the lowest point total. It smells like they are trying to set him up for termination, not that he's alone in that category. The 20-something moron who's currently running the place is after everyone who is hourly. What he's going to do when he runs everyone off remains to be seen. All I can see him doing is living there and doing all the work himself!

Meanwhile, daughter Sensei has been selected to have her financial aid "examined" to verify that she qualifies for continued support. I have to submit detailed tax returns and other information just to prove that she is in need and not ripping the system off because her parents don't reside in the top 1% income bracket. Never mind that they said her top grades merited that support and that they were going to give her a full-ride scholarship (upon which they immediately reneged, forcing me to co-sign several loans for her variances). Considering the various income issues now facing the household, it is becoming possible that I will not be able to continue to support her educational plans. That issue is also still in doubt.

I don't tell you all of this to ask for alms (although I appreciate that someone thought enough of my welfare to consider raising some donated aid), so please don't go there. You just might need to help yourself at some point soon. I only relate all of this primarily to get it off my chest, and to let those out there who read this know that they aren't alone. Maybe their situation isn't as bad as mine, or maybe it's worse. The point is that many of us are in this situation, and we need to be in contact with each other. Maybe we can make some good come of it.

There is allegedly some good news on the employment front, according to Intuit's online payroll service. They claim that an average of 800 jobs are being created daily based on the increase in payroll that small businesses are registering on their online bookkeeping service. What this means in American is that the 50,000 businesses with fewer than 20 employees — 87 percent of the total private employer base in the United States — have each increased their payrolls by an additional 3 employees since June of last year. This means that just over 260 private businesses hired someone each and every business day since July 1, 2009! I'm sure that this will be seen as a soothing balm for the 8.25 million Americans who haven't yet recovered from a job lost in the last two years, and who are now smarting from the knockdown spitballs repeatedly thrown at their heads by Hall of Fame ex-pitcher Jim Bunning this week. That pain isn't going to stop opportunists from taking advantage of them even more.

Speaking of opportunists, one has to wonder what prompted the Wall Street Journal to print an article advocating that people walk away from their mortgages. Says the author, "Do you think your lenders would be shy about squeezing you for an extra nickel if they thought they could get away with it?"

And this is the paper now owned by Rupert Murdoch, a man who has always promoted business über alles and to hell with the little people?

The only thing that remains undiscussed is what happens should we lose the house, as many have in this nation. I'm not yet in danger of having come about so please don't panic! As a technologist involved in engineering activities, I know that one does have to consider worst-case scenarios. They do sometimes arise.

All over the nation, from New York to Los Angeles, from Seattle to St. Petersburg, from City of Big Shoulders, to the shadow of the Rockies, and even next door to the Corporate Games in Vancouver, people are returning to living much closer to Mother Nature than we have since the 1930s. Just not by choice. Dictator Circumstances insists!

Bush-Obamavilles are sprouting up everywhere — well, not quite everywhere. Not yet. There are no reports I can find just yet of a tent city emerging on Wall Street no matter how loudly the banksters there complain about how the threat of a special tax to be imposed on them makes them feel impoverished. Boo-freakin-Hoo!

But there are tent cities nearby to where I currently reside, and I happen to own a tent. Most of our vehicles are paid for, so we can survive in our cars if we have to. There are wonderful deals on used RVs, many in great shape. I can stay in one (assuming I could pay for it) at what California State campgrounds remain open after Arnold's recent budget cutting. All I have to do is move to another one no longer than 28 days after I check in — if I can get a reservation in the first place. I could also wander out into the desert and find a place where no one cares if you park on the side of the road. I know this happens on the way to Death Valley even in good times. The only problem we would have there is food. At least winter is coming to an end!

But long before I get to this stage, I have two appointments this week with my doctors. There is a good chance I will be able to get back to work — assuming my employer chooses to allow me. I hear they are going after everyone they can, an action which goes against their public statements to hang on to everyone they can "in these trying times". But like our government, it wouldn't be the first time they didn't quite mean what the words they used appear to say. That changes day-to-day as do the conditions which prompt them.

So keep your fingers crossed and wish me luck. I'm sure I'm going to need it!

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About pessimist

  • Good luck.

    Your story is one I’ve heard over and over in the last five years here in Michigan. Remember, we were the fore bearers of bad times. The really bad part is that it’s not going to get better for a long time. In fact, I foresee it getting worse.

    I’ll be sending you and your family positive energy. Don’t know if it will do any good though…

  • I’ll be posting this article in various places to make clear to people world-wide that America is indeed going down the crapper, and if they want to hear the flush sound loudly enough, all they have to do is read your articles.

    And I’m sending positive energy, along with prayers for your welfare and that of your family. To use a bit of Hebrew hashém yishmór ‘aleikhem – G-d will watch over you – all of you.

  • Baronius

    The Chicago Tribune messed up the Bunning story. He didn’t filibuster; that would have been simple for the Senate to terminate. All he did was insist that the Senate follow its own rules. Bunning didn’t join the otherwise-unanimous consent for accelerating the $10B bill through the Senate.

    The leadership of the Senate, particularly the majority, is to blame for allowing this to happen. They’ve known that the previous extension of unemployment insurance was going to expire. They could have scheduled the bill any time. Instead, they waited until a few days beforehand and expected to vote it through. Forty Republicans voted yes. One didn’t.

    As for the cause itself, Bunning was in the right. This bill adds another $10B to our national debt. The Dems could have financed it with tax increases or spending cuts, or just paid for it out of unspent stimulus money. But they’ve completely lost touch with the idea that the money they’re spending comes from somewhere.

    Good for Bunning. He’s always depicted as a cranky old fool, but for a few days there an inattentive senator schooled the parliamentarians.

  • Realist,

    I was with you here all the way until Bush-Obamaville popped out!

    If it wasn’t for, Obama, you would be out of your house, your bookseller son would be out of a job, and you would be trying to get a moonlighting job at Walmart.

    Please consider that, Obama, did not bring us here, he is trying to get us back to were we should have been to begin with.

    True growth and prosperity for everyone, not just the top ten percent.

    This is not a socialist idea, it’s an intelligent one.

    :)I hope you are feeling better.

  • Thanks to all for the kind words. I hope to have some better news soon.

    @jeannie danna

    There are about $24 trillion reasons – some expended, some promised, and some already repaid – why I lump Obama in with Dubya when it comes to the homeless and unemployed. You will find them all hidden away in Wall Street’s deepest vaults where you and I can never reclaim them. It would have done far more good if given to us, at far less cost to We, the People since it’s OUR MONEY that is being used, than as used to keep the banks in Oysters Rockefeller while the people in the tent cities – or those about to join them – have to settle for stone soup.

    Which brings me to my imperious friend Baronius. If what Bunning did was so wonderful, why didn’t he stand so tall in 2008/9 when Wall Street had THEIR hands out for a free fix? Or is it now just the fact that Leona’s “little people” were asking for a crumb after Rick Santelli’s “Real Americans” got theirs that has the Son of Daffy Dean in a dizzy tizzy?

  • Realist,

    ARGH! I’ll be back in the morning with all the reasons that I don’t agree, but it’s too late now, I’m tired. :)see you tomorrow, we have a lot in common, but you don’t realize it yet.

    nite, Realist. 24 trillion? RUsure?

  • Imperious is indeed the word I was always looking for. It even rhymes.

    A perfect match.

    I was trying to e-mail you, BTW, but your site features no email address.

  • Baronius

    Realist, by all accounts, Bunning is an erratic jerk who has no interest in the Senate. For all I know he did this because he was bored. That doesn’t make me admire his move any less. Just like I may disagree with you on, well, everything, but I still hope that you get through this ok.

  • Thanks, Baronius. I just wish Bunning had been bored in the time frame I cite.

  • Yes, jeannie danna, I’m VERY sure.

    Straight from the crypts of Wall Street itself.

  • Boeke

    This is a home-grown catastrophe, created and nurtured right here in the USA by the dominant rightwing. No way to blame our disaster on foreigners. No way to blame it on some insidious ideology, it is the ideology of greed that we have advertised to the world for a century. The self-centered mania exemplified by Baronius, that has the predictable result of moving all wealth into a few hands and then finally destroying society.

  • Boeke,

    Great comment, however, please don’t give up on America no matter what you’ve heard, we are not doomed.

  • Mark

    Boeke, it’s time to focus on what we want the Phoenix to look like.

  • Here is an article that I read and commented on this morning. It appears there is a lot of information available to all of us.

    How do we discern the difference between truth and propaganda?

    Although a lot of articles bash or praise the President, I know that many of these have been written by paid writers in order to further the Republican/conservative and Democrat/Liberal agendas. It all depends on what you chose to read and believe.

    Realist, we are all being spun.

    :)Hope today is better concerning your health.

  • oooooo, #13 is a very mysterious and scary number!

  • Mark

    Only to the foolish, jeannie.

    But fear of death and rebirth — change — is commonplace.

    Realist, good to read that at least you’re feeling ok enough to return to work. I’ve gotta go with Ruvy…with these last articles you’ve filled in your critique of US ‘society’.

  • Realist,

    I just posted a link to this article with the Root & Branch Information Service, where I am the chief editor, and hope to get it distributed through there throughout the world. You have done an excellent job with your articles of outlining the terrible crisis the United States is heading into.

    Personally, I lean to the conspiracy bent Pablo takes in viewing all this, but the absence of that kind of material in your pieces make them more convincing to the vast majority of readers, who just can’t handle the idea that we have been set up for a terrible fall over a period of time.

    kol hakavód l’khá! All honor to you! And may you see a full recovery from whatever mysterious disease(s) ail(s) you.

  • My advice to you is that really outta separate yourself from the spongily.

  • That was for, Mark.

  • Baronius

    Boeke – Self-centered?

    I reject your argument that there’s a transfer of wealth from poor to rich. But what I really object to is the accusation of selfishness. The intergenerational transfer of wealth seems far more selfish to me. We’re living beyond our means and leaving the debt to our children.

  • Mark

    Technically correct, Baroniusn #20, as the transfer of wealth is from that subset of workers who produce it, to the ‘rich’, ie the owners.

  • Baronius

    Mark, only in Marxist theory.

  • Mark

    True, Baronius. Marginalism doesn’t ‘float my boat’.

  • Clavos


    Did someone say boat?

  • I suppose the opposite of the Marxist theory would be a “trickle down” theory.

  • Mark

    It’s weirder than that; it’s and ‘economics’ of quantified greed and desire.

  • I didn’t know that greed was quantifiable. But leave it to the science of economics, and voilà!

  • jeannie danna #14

    The yardstick (does anyone even have one of these anymore?) I use has to do with the standard of preponderance. If enough evidence from enough diverse sources offers similar information, then the general gist of what is said can be taken at face value. Specifics will emerge when the facts can be verified.

    For instance, the Times of London article you linked to offers a lot of information regarding the current economic condition that I have read from several other sources. But when I compare it to the experiences of those I know seeking employment, it doesn’t match. Not yet.

    What this means is that a change is indicated, and local conditions have to be observed to see if the thesis is correct. So far, all the assertions that the economy is improving are not playing out on the street.

    Ignored in all of this is the crashing commercial real estate sector. This is going to drag what little progress Obama has made right back into the pit of recession, only this time the detritus pulled in with it will make it harder to get out so easily. We don’t have any more credit with the world to promise the failing commercial RE lenders that we can bail them out like we did Wall Street. China is reportedly not buying T-Bills right now (the reason for the recent talks?), and the Japanese government is not either. The Japanese commercial sector is, only this is seen as a temporary dodge into value with the Greek crisis damaging the euro.

    To sum up, I agree that we are being spun. But the spin runs down eventually, freeing the truth to emerge – if one is both patient enough not to jump to a conclusion and diligent enough in the verification process. Only then can The Truth set you free!

  • Boat?

    Did someone say boat?

    Down, boy!

  • One-track mind.
    Once a salesman, always a salesman.

  • Hey, Dreadful.

    Just for you.

    You might like it.

  • STM

    Realist, I love the info in that story from the WSJ about walking away from your home. It is right – the lenders would go you in a heartbeat if they thought it worthwhile. Unfortunately, there is pain on the horizon here but no such relief in that form as they pursue you for the debt here. Also, as we have never gone into recession in Australia during the GFC, interest rates are going up and here we pay variable rates: ie, the Reserve Bank puts up the official cash rate, your mortgage repayment goes up as the banks put theirs up in line with it. Since the government has been giving grants of up to $A21,000 (about $US20,000) to first homebuyers building new homes and $14,000 to those buying older houses or apartments, there will be some who have got into the market recently who will lose their homes.

    Hope everything works out OK on the homefront. Hang in there.

    Please, everyone, also spare a thought for your BCer from Down Under today. I have a tooth that has snapped off at the gumline and have to go to the dentist’s. A long session is predicted. Aaaargh.

    I broke my leg very badly a few years back and getting it put back together (at zero cost, and with three months’ paid sick leave legislated for by the federal government and serious consequences for my employer should they renege on that, so I couldn’t be sacked!!!) lives in my memory as being a lot less frightening than my last trip to the dentist.

    When I rang them yesterday, I was hoping they’d say something like: “Can’t fit you in for two weeks”. But, no, they said: “Oh, we have a cancellation tomorrow. We’ll fit you in then”.

    “Gee, fantastic,” he mumbled.

  • There’s another story line that validates Realist’s take.

    The present concentration of the world’s wealth is over 65 percent – all in the hands of few banks and financial institutions.

  • I have a tooth that has snapped off at the gumline and have to go to the dentist’s.

    Stan, if I’ve told you once, I’ve told you a thousand times. Hold on with your hands when you’re water skiing.

    For Pete’s sake. You ex-RL players think you’re invincible…


  • Mark

    …and here I figured it must have been the result of one of those friendly Aussie brawls.

  • Otherwise known as the National Rugby League.

  • John Wilson

    #20 – Baronius

    “I reject your argument that there’s a transfer of wealth from poor to rich.”

    This has been documented so many times in so many ways that it seems odd to dispute it.

    ” But what I really object to is the accusation of selfishness.”

    But The Victors, The Class Warfare Winners shamelessly boast of their greed and selfishness, even claiming that it’s a Good Thing.

    ” The intergenerational transfer of wealth seems far more selfish to me.”

    By which, one would think, you must mean the indebtedness incurred by BushCo to fight his ego wars and hand out Big Tax Gifts to his friends, the Havemores. After all, he handed his successors a $5trillion debt increase upon leaving office, plus saddling us with a $192billion/year mideast war expenditure.

    ” We’re living beyond our means and leaving the debt to our children.”

    Speak for yourself. Are you one of those spending crazy nuts who favors expensive wars abroad and big handouts to failing US businesses?

  • It’s the free enterprise spirit, JW, Baronius’s true God.

    And there’s no injustice in his order of things. We just reap our just rewards for being less adept and agile than those whose sole purpose on earth is to accumulate wealth. God wants us wealthy and prosperous, and those who fail to measure up are obviously deficient and are due for hard schooling to sharpen their sense of personal responsibility demanded of all productive members of society. And if they insist on being poor, they are damned.

    Protestant ethics, Catholic edition.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Baronius –

    “I reject your argument that there’s a transfer of wealth from poor to rich.”

    Then why is it that the divide between the richest and the poorest is greater now than even during the Depression? Why is it that in the past decade, the ultra-rich have made record profits…while during the Bush administration the average household income for the American middle-class family actually went DOWN?

  • Baronius

    John, by my calculations, Bush overspent by $2 billion in 8 years. Obama has overspent by $1.4 billion in 1. That’s a 460% increase in deficit spending.

    Alternately, the deficits of the 12 years of Republican control of Congress (1995-2006) total $1.25 billion, whereas in the last three years, the Democratic Congresses have added more than $2 billion. That would be 6.4x as much per year.

    These are raw numbers, and you should take inflation into account, although the rate of inflation over these periods has been low. I was critical of Bush and the Republicans at the time, and I still am critical of them, for spending as much as they did. But we’ve jumped to a completely different scale of deficit spending in the past couple of years.

    Anther statistic, since I’m on the CBO site: Defense spending as a percentage of GDP is still lower than it was in the Carter years.

  • Baronius

    Yes, Roger, that’s exactly what I believe.

  • Clavos

    “A transfer of wealth,” in whatever direction, assumes there is a finite amount of wealth, when in fact, the nation’s total wealth, until recently, has been steadily growing for decades.

    So, no, there isn’t a transfer of wealth from poor to rich. For one thing, the poor don’t control enough wealth to make a significant enough transfer to even show up in the data; that’s why they are the poor.

    What IS happening, is that the wealthy are accumulating wealth at a much greater pace than the middle and lower classes, especially since the recession began.

    That, however, is neither unusual nor unprecedented; wealth begets wealth.

  • It was a caricature, Baronius.

  • Mark

    “A transfer of wealth,” in whatever direction, assumes there is a finite amount of wealth…

    This argument doesn’t really apply here, does it Clavos — you could be producing new wealth and transferring it right off all the time…which is exactly what workers who create wealth do.

  • Clavos

    Mmmm, I think you’re stretching the concept of “transferring,” here Mark. The workers create wealth, true, but do so in a milieu created for that purpose (the enterprise in which they work) by the capitalist. Without the capitalist’s investment’s the enterprise would not exist, and neither would the workers’ opportunity to work and create wealth.

    The workers receive a portion of the wealth thus created (their wages), but the remainder rightfully belongs to the entity (the investor, whether public or private) who provides the means for the wealth to be created.

    I see a sharing, or even a partition, if you will, but no “transfer.”

  • But to subscribe to this notion, you do have to buy in into Marx’s theory of surplus value.
    And the idea of wealth begetting wealth is perhaps a wholly separate idea – the crowning achievement of the capitalist system.

  • Clavos

    Wealth has always begotten wealth — even in Medieval times, although then, an even smaller percentage of the population had it.

    I think capitalism’s crowning achievement has been to spread the wealth to a much greater extent than any other economic system that came before it, or since.

  • Realist,

    RE. to #25,

    [What this means is that a change is indicated, and local conditions have to be observed to see if the thesis is correct. So far, all the assertions that the economy is improving are not playing out on the street]

    The reason that we are not seeing improvement on the street is because of the refusal of the very people we bailed out to lend back to us. Oh, they lend a little, but at a very high interest rate that guarantees them huge profits, while our small businesses cannot even survive. Now the large institutions are failing.
    In addition, the Republican/ Conservative stall and obstruct game rages on, in Washington and even here.

    I see this as the truth.

  • #47,

    So yes, the idea of money attracting money may not be proprietary to capitalism but rather more on the order of a natural law.

  • natural law (delete the article)

  • Realist,

    I really appreciate you addressing me directly, many here cannot do this. They hide and run and when I really make them mad, then they respond.

    I’m tired of all these games, so I seek out the intelligent comentors, the ones that can display maturity.

  • No one has deleted American Pie, so why are you complaining?

  • realist,

    You’ll see the lack of a response here to #52.

    I rest my case (on to the subject at hand.)

  • Mark

    jeannie, you really are too much. Let’s go through this slowly. Roger was saying to drop the ‘a’ — an article — from comment #49.

  • I tell you why, Jeannie, the American Pie has not been deleted.

    Because I make certain to keep it within the bounds of propriety.

    Does this answer your question?

  • Roger,

    Propriety? Then which articles have you managed to get deleted then?

  • Then why didn’t you say letter?

  • Roger,

    I really thought a lot of you at one time, It’s sad to think that I will not be able to see you in the same light anymore, but I suppose the same is true, when you look back at me.

  • Mark

    #57 – Because Roger knows the names of the various parts of speech. ‘a’ as used in #49 is more than just a letter. It is a word…an article, in fact.

  • Jeannie,

    I’m more saddened by this than you are. But for some reason, you’ve been trying to crucify me ever since, and for no reason.

    You called me an old fart, a liar, an unemployed truck driver and a chaser of skirts – in fact, every name in the book. And I haven’t responded to any of those epithets, why should I? My back is broad enough and I can take abuse.

    But aren’t you going to run out of nails soon? So why don’t you save one for last?

  • Roger,

    I never called you an old fart, where did you get that? and the truck driver crack was just that, a crack to make you look at my comments directed to you. You are just slightly a skirt chaser, but that’s not so bad. Actually, this shows that you are human, whether you chase skirts or pants. Don’t flip-out now, I’m including anyone who is gay, equal praise.

    I have even wondered if you were a computer, the way you respond to every subject here, morning, noon, and night!
    Talk about cyber-illusion, I wake up in the middle of the night now, and I still see you commenting! It frightens me, Roger, it really does.

  • Why aren’t you over on my thread talking to me?

  • And besides, what’s wrong with being called an old fart? It’s sort of an endearing title, don’t you think? LOL 🙂

  • STM

    Clav: “capitalism’s crowning achievement has been to spread the wealth to a much greater extent than any other economic system that came before it, or since.”


    However, I like the idea that, with all parties firstly recognising that they can reach accord or consensus on this, corporations and businesses, even small companies, can work hand in hand with workers to a) up production and b) more equitably share the wealth generated.

    When the bottom line is company profits, there is a creeping effect … the more workers produce, and the more wealth they generate, the more likely it is that business will see this as normal and refuse to pay higher wages commensurate with those productivity increases.

    Which is why governments need to legislate for that more even distribution of wealth, either by encouraging collective enterprise bargaining between unions/employers, through courts of workplace abitration, or statutory laws.

    Because left to most – not all – employers, workers are always the last rung on the ladder when it comes to financial recompense, despite the fact it is the worker who generates the weath in the first place.

    None of this is socialism, but recognition of a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work, and can only work properly in a society based on free-market capitalism.

    But it always seems to me that a lot of people in the US see the two things as mutually exclusive, when they’re not.

    There is no doubt in my mind that Australia’s high standard of living is the direct result of federal workplace laws going back 100 years and guaranteeing the rights, pay and conditions of workers.

    The last government that tried to undo that 100-year legacy was unceremoniously booted from office two years ago, with the Prime Minister only the second sitting PM (occupying a seat in parliament before the election) in Australian history to lose his seat at an election, such was the uproar caused by that government’s workplace policies.

    It didn’t help that, in something straight out of the CIA or MI6 handbook, they gave it the Orwellian name of WorkChoices when everyone knew that what they really meant, when it came to workers’ rights, was NoChoices.

  • Mark

    Yup, Clavos, capitalism’s done perdy good, but its necessary cyclical crap-outs and inherent gross inequities are apparent…time to move on. We’ll have to work out some other approach to gathering/concentrating resources for production.

  • Clavos

    Well, until we do, Mark…

  • Mark

    Here’s where we break into song, right?

  • STM

    MarK: “We’ll have to work out some other approach to gathering/concentrating resources for production.”

    Such as???

    I’m leaving back through history and can say unequically: Nothing else has worked so far. The key is protecting workers in a free-market system, and paying them decent wages that close the gap between the have-some but not quite enoughs and the have much more than you(s).

    Then everyone’s happy. Beer helps, too.

  • STM

    Make that: “I’m leafing back through history and can say unequivocally”.

    Dental effects still haven’t worn off

  • zingzing

    “Beer helps, too.”

    that’s why they imported gin. so you could be its bitch.

  • STM

    Gin is a poofter’s drink

  • zingzing

    poor english=poofter?

    good to know…

    history begs to differ…

    history: “i’m no fookin’ poofter!”

    stm: “poofter!”

    history: “why i oughta…”

  • Mark

    “MarK: “We’ll have to work out some other approach to gathering/concentrating resources for production.”

    Such as???”

    Dunno, Surfer Dude. The whole not-for-profit micro investment movement (voluntary wealth transfers – gifting) is interesting, but I don’t see how it will stand up to entrepreneurial failures.

    In any case, I suspect that, just as ‘pre-capitalist’ practices existed while feudal production ruled, the solution to our present dilemma exists already.

  • Mark

    (Actually, Wayfaring Stranger’s recent article and its comments look at this question a bit.)

  • STM

    Yeah, that was a pretty interesting article.

    Now, on to more important stuff, and why America is still great even in its darkest hour.

    Some great games with boilover results having been played in New Zealand and Australia earlier in the night, I thought there might have been an overnight Super 14 Rugby game being played in South Africa, so I’m flicking around the sports channels … and zilch.

    Then I notice on Fox Sports a thing called Lingerie Football League.

    At first I thought it might have had something to do with the British.

    But no, it wasn’t the Tory Party having a normal Saturday night out in London with fishnets, suspenders, horse whips and ball gags, but an American show.

    I’ve just decided I love America all over again 🙂

    Even better than roller derby, which used to be on TV here in the ’70s.

  • Baronius

    Mark, a lot of threads have speculated on what should follow free-market capitalism. The threads always fizzle out, though, because no one’s got anything better. There’s a tendency to think that now that we’ve achieved a level of prosperity, we can allocate things differently. The flaw is that not everyone’s achieved prosperity, and the best engine we’ve found for providing prosperity is capitalism. And who’s to say that we should be content with our current standard of living? In the early middle ages people thought that society had peaked, too. I’m glad that humanity didn’t sit on its hands.

    Microfinancing isn’t contrary to capitalism, anyway.

  • Right, we’re great at providing people with entertainment. Don’t forget, Hollywood is our invention.

    Welcome to the world of the unreal!!!

  • Great point, Mark, about the germs of a solution already existing in the present.

    I have a different take, however, regarding the system’s hiccups. To my thinking, they’re more indicative of the corrupted form. Perhaps installing a self-mechanism to prevent their occurrence could be a way out.

  • Your argument, Baronius, contains self-contradictory elements.

    One the one hand, your’re saying you’re glad that humanity doesn’t sit on its hands; but on the other, you’re apparently content with the present system, thinking somehow we’ve reached a pinnacle.

    (But historically, every radical improvement in humanity’s material advance was accompanied by a similarly radical change of the economic system.)

  • Mark and Roger,

    Is 74 an answer to 68? I don’t see it as one. Like I keep saying, you’ve got to work with what you’ve got. Life is not a Hollywood movie, it’s real.

    :)This is a nice question for both of you, not a pointless dig.(on my part!)Today is the second day that my back has not hurt, so I’m going shopping for food. I’ll look back later and hopefully, I’ll find an answer to my question. :)see you both later.

  • Baronius


    (I just thought I’d mess with Clavos.)

  • Mark

    Rog, I am open to any solution that will stabilize the cycles. What would such a self-regulation mechanism look like? We’ve tried government regulation, convinced ourselves that we’ve licked the problem and found out otherwise.

    jeannie, solutions will come by folks pushing the edges of ‘what we’ve got’.

  • Mark

    Baronius, I was focusing on the gifting experiments rather than the for profit microlending projects. I see the former as attempts to move away from private property.

  • It’s got to be more radical than that. The way I see it, the system has got to be subsumed under some central authority.

    I’m not arguing for that, only speculating. We both know that three or five-year plans have a bad rap. But if one is intent on preserving the mechanism on any large scale and ridding it of its inefficiencies and social waste, it can’t be just regulated. It must be controlled or, better yet, used as a means to an end.

  • Baronius

    Mark, I don’t see how. I’d be very interested to read something about it.

  • Mark

    Baronius, see Mauss’ “The Gift”. Also look at Baudrillard and Bataille’s work if the idea interests you.

  • Mark

    (Then go read Miranda Joseph’s work to dissolve any illusions.)

  • Are #s 86 and 87 directed at me?

  • Mark

    They’re for Baronius who expressed interest in the notion of the gift.

  • I’m aware you don’t want to come near anything that might smack of a Fascist solution.

  • Boeke

    Baronius:”Mark, a lot of threads have speculated on what should follow free-market capitalism. The threads always fizzle out, though, because no one’s got anything better.”

    First of all, we never had Free Market Capitalism. Our markets have always been open to monopoly domination, to the point that monopolies can hold the economy hostage to extort money from the government, witness the TARP.

    “Capitalism” , after all, is opposed to free markets, and works hard to dominate any market it sees.

    You don’t have to look far to see ‘combined’ systems such as several in Europe (and Australia!)that work better than the US system and which successfully combine the better features of capitalism and socialism, as if those two were ever deadly enemies (they are not, obviously).

  • It is a matter of making the best possible use of capitalism, isn’t it? if keep it we must. Which is to say, harnessing it and making it work for us – again if keeping it we must.

  • Mark

    Rog, what gives you the idea that a fascist model could tame the beast?

  • Well, it had to an extent in the old Soviet Union, when industrial production and allocation of productive and human resources were subject to a five-year plan.

    Again, I’m not approving of the scenario, only thinking out laud.

  • out loud

  • I can’t answer for Mark, Jeannie. You’ll have to ask him himself.

  • Mark

    What were the internal reasons (vrs its ‘competition’ with western capitalism) that led to the failure of the Soviets?

  • I’m thinking beyond nation-states, and of the economic project becoming a global project.

  • Baronius

    Boeke – I’m sorry I didn’t spell this out better. I’ve had this discussion a dozen times before on BC, and it’s not your fault you weren’t here for them.

    I used the phrase “free-market capitalism” because I don’t like the word “capitalism”. It is often understood in the sense you used it. I have come to believe that everything is substitutable, and that there’s no such thing as a natural monopoly or a practical monopoly in the long run. In the short run, everything’s a monopoly (you can’t buy a Big Mac at Burger King). With those thoughts in mind, I don’t find the concept of monopoly to be worthwhile.

    That’s an extreme position, I realize. You could take the more moderate stance of emphasising the free market and arrive at a similar place, though.

    So I don’t see capitalism as a threat or an exploiter in the C. Montgomery Burns style. You note that capitalism isn’t incompatible with socialism, and I kind of know what you mean, but also, the free market isn’t incompatible with producers trying to capture a larger market share.

  • The concept of monopoly is no longer a useful term, because it’s a prevalent condition, I presume?

    Them in what sense can we speak of “free markets” other than as fiction?

  • Baronius

    Roger, I’m not going to fall for it. Reread my comment #99 for the answer.

  • Sorry, Baronius, but I don’t see your #99 as clarifying anything.

    BTW, I wasn’t trying to trip you.

    I really don’t know what to make of the following:

    “I don’t like the word “capitalism”. It is often understood in the sense you used it. I have come to believe that everything is substitutable, and that there’s no such thing as a natural monopoly or a practical monopoly in the long run. ”

    I suppose you do, though.

  • Roger,

    Why couldn’t you answer #80?

  • Baronius

    Roger, eventually Charlie Brown stops trying to kick the football, even when Lucy insists that she’s not going to pull it back. Comment #99 means what it means.

  • Well, Baronius. You may as well talk to yourself.

  • doug m

    Baronius, when did Charlie Brown do that? It contradicts what I’ve seen and the point of Schulz’ gag? Not that I don’t see your point about repeatedly touching a hot stove, but as a longtime Peanuts fan, I don’t think your analogy is accurate.

  • John Wilson

    #99 explains nothing.

    My experience as a Free Market Entrepreneur was that Capitalists wanted to crush us and grab our business, i.e., monopolize the market. NOT thru competition.

  • Baronius

    Well, Doug has me on the facts, and I don’t think I’m going to persuade John, so I guess I can only say…


  • I would have talked to you.

  • Clavos


    Puleeeze don’t play with my emotions like that!

    You’ve never even met me!

  • STM

    Where can I see more games of Lingerie Football League????

    This is, without doubt, one of America’s greatest inventions.

  • STM

    Baron: “capitalism isn’t incompatible with socialism, but also, the free market isn’t incompatible with producers trying to capture a larger market share.”

    This is three-way compatibility … which makes me wonder why a certain portion of America is so fearful of anything that even has the whiff of “community” (a better word than socialism … none of us is living in socities that compare to the Soviet Union).