Archive for November, 2011

Can You Spell Dumb?

This woman certainly can’t. She was disfigured for life in a 2004 meth lab explosion and she was recently found right back at it, cooking methamphetamine in her trailer. The meth cooking process is extremely dangerous and claims many lives and hundreds of homes every year. The chemicals and process used in making meth is volatile and dangerous at the best of times in proper facilities, doing it in the kitchen with home made equipment is a recipe for disaster.

So why do they do it? The answer is money. It is easier to make meth and sell it as crack than to get a job and work hard. In the USA where someone like her with not education would be making $2.75 an hour as a waitress plus tips (and the IRS presume you will make $X an hour in tips and tax you regardless) or less than $8 an hour minimum wage in other industries it is often worth the risk. America carries on about communism and socialism and what have you, yet unless you are making $250K a  year some experts say there is little value voting Republican. Make no mistake, the land of milk and hollywood is one tough place to make it in. If you keep your head above water it can be a wonderful place to live your life in. But if you have some bad luck and fall through the cracks, then you are doomed.

The middle class is scared stiff of becoming poor and it is no wonder. They are the tool of the rich, keeping the economy going with their consumerism in response to the conditioning of Madison Avenue on behalf of the Wall Street 1%. Will Rogers said back in the Great Depression that alone out of all the people in the world, only Americans would drive to the poor house. Poor takes on a different meaning in a developed nation like the USA and while you should make no mistake there are some 30% or more of the population considered officially poor, they do have it better than the poor of a third world country. It is relative after all.

Part of the affect of poverty is the poorer nutrition that contributes to lower average IQ levels. Garbage in, garbage out and if the baby and child don;t get the nutrition they need, their brains are not going to develop to their full potential. Then there are other factors like the school boards being partly funded by property taxes so if the district is full of slums, there won’t be as much funding as there will be in a more upscale area. But then this is the user pay capitalist way. Let’s not even start on health care. If anything, the amazing thing is how many Americans manage and even thrive. How many people, despite the draconian laws and political motivation behind so much they mislabel as ‘justice’, the one sided bias towards the haves at the expense of the have nots and the societal shame placed on those less fortunate through cultural mores that are no longer present in other western societies, manage to stay alive and well and keep consuming and using their credit and keeping the dream alive, albeit a dream that sees the top few percent enjoy by far the majority of the wealth and prosperity of the world’s richest nation. Personally, the vast majority of Americans I have known through my military service and as an expat overseas have been brave as lions and generous to a fault. Particularly when you are on their turf in the USA, they are some of the most hospitable people I have ever had the pleasure to meet. I like and respect Americans and love vacationing there, I just would not want to live in the place.

While this is all going on, many just take the initially easier road and turn to crime. Violent crime is rife but so too fraud in various forms and larceny. Desperate people do desperate things and the system is such that it is easy to become desperate in the US of A. We here in Australia can learn from this because we follow the USA more or less, sooner or later. We need to be selectively tough on criminals and selectively compassionate, too. Not hammer everyone into the ground for a mistake usually caused by a circumstance change beyond their ability to control or manage. Not give them the keys to the candy store and pay for dental check ups while apologising for rotting their teeth. No, a happy medium needs to be struck.

Keep in mind not everyone is as smart as you and even if you are just average, with an IQ of 96-98 for Australians and Americans, there are plenty who are dumber than you and many of those end up in prison. Being dumb is not a crime but too often it leads to a life of it. If we are smart enough to know better and keep out of trouble we should spare a thought for those too dumb to know better and try not to judge them. Don;t trust them, but don’t tread on them and make it any harder for them either. By all means give them a fair go if you can, but don’t turn you back at the same time. Maybe in time they will realise that they don’t have to exploit everyone who isn’t busy kicking the crap out of them. Maybe they will learn to trust society and society can lower its guard and trust them. Maybe.

 

Can You Spell ‘Disconnected’?

The recent QANTAS grounding is just one event in many that show how the rich 1% are totally disconnected from the 99% of the rest of us. Alan Joyce is a classic example in my eyes. I have no idea why QANTAS needed to hire a foreigner to head our national airline. There is an old Irish saying; ‘If you are going on a journey,never take an idiot with you, you’ll always find one when you get there’. I’m not saying Joyce is an idiot, far from it. He is, however, totally out of touch with the reality that is our lives. I believe the last time he worked in Australia was for another airline, Ansett and that went out of business around that time! He is a hatchet man, brought in because he is not Australian, doesn’t have to live here and can always scuttle off somewhere else with his golden parachute once he has done the dirty work needed to make a few rich people richer. The same thing happened with that other former public entity, Telstra and the yank Trujillo. No connection to Australia, do the dirty deeds and disappear. Surely we have an Australian citizen as able as this bloke?

He was paid $3.8 million a year to be the CEO. A disgusting amount of money when you think how half of that could make a huge difference to many old age pensioners, or anyone on a low income for that matter. Then during the worst period of industrial disputes in the airline’s history, he gets a $1.7 million pay rise! The very next day he strands 68,000 people around the world and blames it on the unions. He makes all sorts of mouth noises about being forced to do this or suffer a ‘death by a thousand cuts’ as industrial action would otherwise drag on but the truth is he had other options. I think pilots are paid too much and so too many of the staff of QANTAS but then they would disagree and fair enough. I definitely think CEOs and politicians are paid too much, too. Look at the woman in charge of Westpac Bank. She used to be the boss of St George Bank, then switched banks right before the new employer bought out her old one. And of course we are expected to believe she knew nothing about it, didn’t bring over any confidential info to help the buyout and so on. Then, like all the big banks they make phenomenal profits at our expense and still have to sack people and take jobs offshore as well as refuse to lower interest rates because of the cost of money or whatever! The truth is it is all about the dividend to the share holder and they hold a lot of shares themselves, these CEOs. They don’t care about lost jobs, they think people can just get another one right away but they can’t. These people, the disconnected 1% are different to you and me in many ways. Not necessarily smarter or more hardworking but definitely more focused and ruthless and without a care for anyone but themselves. They are a form of corporate sociopath.

The problem lies in the mindset these huge salaries help create. If I was making $150,000 a year I would not worry about being ripped off at the petrol pump for ten cents or more a litre for my imported, luxury vehicle. A few years ago when the AUD$ was worth US$0.70 and oil was US$150 a barrel we were paying up to $1.50 a litre. Today the Aus dollar is worth the same or more than the US$, oil is US$90 a barrel and we are still getting stiffed up to $1.50 a litre except for a day or two a week when Woolworths, Coles and the big oil companies play footsie with us and drop it a few cents. The government will say nothing because they would lose billions in tax revenue. Instead they create an overpaid bureaucrat and give him a budget and cost us millions a year and he has done nothing to watchdog petrol prices like he is supposed to. He has probably watched them but that is all. He, like the politicians and the corporate executives are disconnected. Big Time.

The ‘Occupy’ movement is reminding them of this but they see it merely as a nuisance. The rest of us are being manipulated y the media into siding against the Occupy protestors because a few long hairs will agitate the protest beyond common sense and stir up the police and make good television with violence and so on. I support the Occupy concept, but I think once you have occupied and disrupted you have made your point, no need to give the other side any sympathy by overstaying your ‘unwelcome’.

Times are a’changing and we will see more and more civil disobedience as ordinary people, the 99%, finally have too much. The ignorance and arrogance of the 1% and those who suck at their teat will be their undoing. As we trend more and more towards fighting hot wars in smelly, remote places, we will find the new cold war will be an economic one and between  the haves and the rest of us who have not as much and never will, thanks to the haves owning everything, including the politicians we think we voted for to represent us. Mark and Engels will be laughing their beards off.

 

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