Thursday, November 18, 2010

Unhappy Holidays

The first official action of the new GOP controlled House was to block extension of unemployment benefits through the end of the year.


Perhaps if they had instantly created gobs of new jobs as they promised FIRST, then this action may have been warranted. After all, I couldn't agree more that we can't have a nation living forever on unemployment. But, if there are no jobs available - then all they have accomplished is to move the jobless from unemployment to welfare. That is counter productive all around.

But wait! The Tea Party is just beginning! Next up they will keep their promise to make sure these new jobless, welfare recipients also don't have access to health care either. Disgusting.

Well at least those rich folks will have a nice cushy Holiday with all their nice tax cuts. They need it more - right?

Monday, November 08, 2010

Fair Pricing - A Thing Of The Past

Living paycheck to paycheck has never been more real. If you are like me (your basic average dude) you've been struggling to make ends meet for a long time. Part of the problem is that wages have gone down but we have more things to pay for these days (cell phone subscriptions, internet subscriptions, virus software subscriptions, subscriptions of all sorts) and the prices for all those things are just barely in reach. That is no accident.

I'm going to use my cell phone provider as an example: there is no doubt in my mind that Sprint would make a very good profit if all of their plans were $50 or less. But most of their pricing is at least double that sometimes triple -and now they don't even allow negotiation. You can also bet that Microsoft would have still made a huge fortune if their Windows products would have been priced at even $25 per computer. But they charge $200 instead. How do they get away with it?

In the past most businesses tried to determine what was a fair price for their goods or services. Most used a markup percentage over the cost of manufacturing, R&D and marketing. These companies made a good profit and most people could afford their products and services and still have a little discretionary spending for a vacation or a college education.

Today we have a different pricing structure. Modern pricing is based on what companies determine is the maximum price a typical customer will be able to bear for their products and services. They use the process of Data Mining to determine how much typical families make, what they spend on other things and how much they might have left. They then set the price based on what they determine is the maximum that the customer could pay. I wrote a 3 part article a while back on how they gather all this information - most of the time without you ever knowing about it.

This type of pricing has increased profits for companies many times over. At the same time it has obviously diminished any disposable income you may have had in the past. These companies don't believe you should have disposable income - anything you have left should be spent on their products. It is little wonder then that most of us struggle to get by.

But wait - there is still more........

Companies know that people who are broke will work harder to make money to pay for these goods and services. They can get by with fewer workers - often at lower wages - and still get the same productivity because they know people who are struggling will work extra hard to keep their job - no matter what. Corporations do not care about the stress level of their employees - that's why it is very easy to eliminate jobs when profits fall - even for a short while. Their overall operating costs drop as productivity increases (along with your stress level) and their prices rise to keep the cycle going.

Modern pricing structures are a win-win for corporations and a lose-lose for consumers. The situation looks hopeless but it is not. If corporations did not have access to every piece of personal information about you, they wouldn't be able to determine how much you can bear to pay. What we need are strict limits on how much data can be collected and used by corporations. You do that with your vote in local and national elections. Our political parties are very divided right now between those that support business (Republican) and those that support people (Democrats).

I once told a friend of mine (who I know reads this blog) that I really didn't care what information was being collected about me - after all, I have nothing to hide. I had no idea how conniving corporations would become in order to drain me of every last dime. Now I know and I'm spreading the word. I hope you will too.

Friday, November 05, 2010

Instant New Priority

During this last election cycle the Republican candidates hammered the current Administration that the top priority in the USA is JOBS! They were hopping mad that the President spent time on health care reform when they felt jobs were a higher priority.

Today I'm hearing the top priority of Republicans now is repealing the Health Care Reform.

What?? I thought it was Jobs?! Why don't you focus on JOBS - as you promised?!

Compassion Is Not a Republican Value

Most people remember the devastating earthquake that hit the island of Haiti last year. It was only one of many major natural and political disasters to hit this impoverished country in recent years. The people of this nation have been left penniless by government corruption and homeless by force of nature. I have many Haitian friends and I've been following this sad story for years now and it breaks my heart. As I write this a hurricane is adding more misery to this tiny nation. Many Americans share my heartbreak but some apparently don't have a heart at all. Here is a link to the story in USA Today and a few of the associated comments taken from just the first few pages. I want to note that many of these same screen names have been posting comments both pro-Christian and pro-Republican (My comments follow each).

LivFree (0 friends, send message) wrote: 10h 9m ago
Haiti doesn't want help. They want hand outs. This Hurricane will be like a giant, naturally occurring colonic.

Earthquakes, floods, hurricanes, Government corruption - the common people of Haiti did not ask for this. But they do need help.

Mister Grumpy (137 friends, send message) wrote: 5h 7m ago
Yet the Haitians continue to pump out children like there's not tomorrow............. and those that are old enough....... appear to be just waiting around waiting for a handout............ when they should be picking up the rubble................ These people are worse than helpless........... they are just plain lazy.................

Contrary to the belief that most Haitians believe in voodoo - most are Christians and many are Catholic. They are following the teaching of the Church - abundant life - procreation above all else. Birth control is not allowed. This is the result. And they are rebuilding - with what little resources they have to do so with.

rickp0000 (0 friends, send message) wrote: 4h 41m ago
cant say the idiots werent warned.....

Yes, they had plenty of warning a storm was eminent. Where would you suggest they go? What do you suggest they do? They are living in TENTS (if they are lucky). They are penniless and homeless. Can you try to understand that?

lunchtimereader (0 friends, send message) wrote: 2h 15m ago
A lot of $ has been sent there for decades, yet, there is no progress.
Just more of the same.

This is somewhat true. Corruption in the govenrment continues at the expense of the common people. This country needs more than just money - but it's easier to just turn our backs to their calamity.

Mister Grumpy (137 friends, send message) wrote: 1h 49m ago
Horaceofcourse (0 friends, send message) wrote: 1h 25m ago
Somebody has to do something to help these people...put them to work rebuilding their country.
I don't have any great ideas...may God have mercy on them.
God is showing them mercy............ Tomas is only a Cat 1 storm.............

I repeat - they are living in TENTS (if they are lucky). I've been through several Cat 1 storms here in Florida and they are frightening in a brick shelter - let alone a tent. But the most damage from a storm like this isn't wind - it is flooding rain. They are on the wet side of the storm. Floods are also not the fault of the people living there.

These type of comments go on and on. There is a total lack of compassion which I dare say is a core value of the Republican party and many so called Christians. If it isn't happening to ME right NOW then it doesn't apply and THEY likely deserve it.

Very sad indeed.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

A Message to President Obama

I watched the Presidents press conference the day after the election and I have this message for Mr. Obama:

Once again, I am honored to have such a smart, competent courageous and eloquent person leading this country. Much of the USA has a short attention span and honestly has forgotten the major crises you have been battling these last 2 years were not caused by your policies. Further, they can't grasp the concept of how much worse things would be right now had you not acted swiftly and firmly. But many of us have been paying attention and we know the truth. We still support you and your policies. We hope this new division of power will bring balance to our Government, but we realize that is not likely. Please try co-operation again as you have these last 2 years. However, if the only answer you continue to get is No - then please stand firm on your principles. You have put people ahead of corporations and that is the hope and change we voted for.

Since I know you read my blog regularly, I want you to know we still strongly support you! Keep up the great work!


Fraud for Florida

There isn't much I could say about the election this week that hasn't already been said a gazillion times but our Florida Governor race is a clear indicator of what is wrong with this country and so I must write a short bit on it.

Wikipedia has this to say about our new Governor elect Rick Scott:
"In 1987 he helped found the Columbia Hospital Corporation with two business partners; this merged with Hospital Corporation of America in 1989 to form Columbia/HCA and eventually became the largest private for-profit health care company in the U.S. He was forced to resign as Chief Executive of Columbia/HCA in 1997 amid a scandal over the company's business and Medicare billing practices; the company ultimately admitted to fourteen felonies and agreed to pay the federal government over $600 million"

This is not really new news - it was clearly known during the campaign. This man should be in jail but instead he will be running this state. Why? Because people voted for their party and not for the best person for the job. That's not how it is supposed to work folks. And it happened all across the country. Thankfully some of the real crazy wing-nuts like Christine O'Donnell did not get elected - but she did get over 40% of the votes.

Rick Scott was considered a long-shot in this election (duh!), he was not endorsed by a single major news paper (because he refused to be interviewed) and was trailing in the polls just prior to election day - yet somehow he won. It was reported that he spent $75 million of his own money (that he stole from Medicare) on this election. That's right folks - the company he ran was forced to pay $600 million in fines but Rick kept all his money and YOU paid for his election campaign.

Should we trust that he will run the state of Florida any differently? I think not.

The whole thing is totally revolting.