Saturday, December 22, 2012

NRA Donation List: John McCain Tops It

  Many people have wondered as of late just how the NRA is able to influence the gun policy so much in America since the group only consist of something like 4 million members out of a population of 313 million. Of course, you and I already know the answer to that one. It is through political contributions to our Senators and Representatives in the Congress.

   So, who gets the most money from the NRA? as the post title says, Republican Arizona Senator John McCain is number one in donations with slightly more than $500,000. I note that the amount is more than $400,000 above his number 2 recipient.


   More facts for you can be found right HERE.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The Teabonics Reference Guide

   So you are one of the many who are stuck having to visit your family out of state, in Red States? They are also Tea Party Republicans? You have my sympathy, but, fret not as we now have a Teabonics manual so that you can speak the language with ease and comfort.

   You can thank Elisabeth Parker at Addicting Info for the English to Teabonics translation.


Holidays are joyful and most of us look forward to seeing our families. Nonetheless, returning to the conservative parts of the country where some of our families live can prove challenging — especially when your loved ones share their neighbor’s beliefs, and when nothing they say makes even the slightest amount of sense to you. That’s why we, here at Addicting Info, have compiled this handy conservative phrasebook so you can converse like a native, while fully appreciating the offensiveness of conservatives’ beliefs while you’re sitting at the dinner table this year.

- Numbers -

9-11: Justification for torture and pre-emptive warfare abroad; and for domestic racial profiling and invasive security precautions at airports.

- A -
Activist Judges: State and Federal judges whose decisions support civil rights and/or abortion.
Anchor Babies: Children whelped out by pregnant illegal immigrants who sneak across the border in droves to steal citizenship and free medical care for their brown demon-spawn, who will grow up and vote Democratic.

- B -
Bible-Based: Selective use of biblical texts to justify hitting children and denying climate change, evolution, civil rights for gays, and equality for women.
Big Government: All government functions that go beyond invading other countries and putting people of color in prison; Wasteful, inefficient, corrupt, and un-economical (unlike big corporations).

- C -
China: A backward country with no minimum wage, safety and environmental regulations, or workers’ rights … which the United States should emulate.

Freedom to choose amongst various crappy options you can’t afford.
Class Warfare: Working people asking for a living wage.
Climate Change: Global warming? What global warming?
Compassionate Conservatism: An oxymoron.
Confederate Flag: A symbol of Freedom (see also, “Freedom”).

- D -
Death Panels: Bureaucrats who will run our healthcare system and deny treatment to Sarah Palin’s grandparents if we enact Obamacare.
Death Penalty: Retroactive abortions performed after the 54th trimester (or earlier in states that allow trying juveniles as adults)

- E -
Elitist: Reads above an 8th grade level.
Energy Exploration: Drilling for oil or mining coal in wildlife reserves and national parks.
Enhanced Interrogation: Torture.
Entitlements: Stuff you aren’t entitled to: Like earned benefits, food, housing, education, and healthcare.

- F -
Family Values: In keeping with the values held by the authoritarian, dysfunctional families that warped conservatives’ minds to begin with. Not to be confused with values that actually support families.
Faith-Based Initiatives: Church-based charitable programs which would supposedly replace government-provided social programs … as long as recipients receive Jesus as their Savior.
Filibuster Reform: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s unconstitutional attempt to obstruct obstructionists.
Fiscal Cliff: A non-existent precipice over which we’ll tumble if we don’t enact tax cuts for the wealthy and draconian austerity measures for the rest of us.
Founding Fathers: A bunch of guys who loved Jesus and dressed like Tea Partiers.
Freedom: The freedom to carry guns, discriminate against homosexuals and people of color,  and to bully people who aren’t like you.
Free Markets: Socialized risk, privatized profits.

- G -
Gerrymander: Something only Democrats ever do.
Government: (See, “Big Government”).

- H -
Hawaii: Located in Kenya, Africa.
Healthy Forests: Logging.

- I -
Intelligent Design: What evangelical Christians would have our schools teach instead of evolution.

- J -
Jesus Christ: The son of God, who sacrificed himself in a brutal and drawn-out manner just to save the sorry, self-righteous, and hypocritical asses of jerks like Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum.
Job: Something people complaining about unemployment need to go out and get.
Job Creators: The 1% who stash money in off-shore tax havens instead of making investments that create jobs.
Job Killing: Holding businesses accountable, taxing wealthy people at the rate everyone else pays on their earnings.

- K -
K-Street: Where disgraced GOP politicians eventually go to make a living.

- L -
Liberal: Evil.
Liberal Bias: Applies to most proven facts.
Liberty: (See “Freedom”).
Limousine Liberals: Wealthy socialists who think that just because they enjoy giving their money away to worthless moochers, everyone else should, too (See also, “Elitists”).

- M -
Moderate: (See “Liberal”)
Moral: Cheating on spouses, embezzling cash, scamming supporters, abusing prescription drugs, and soliciting young boys for gay sex, as exemplified by the behavior of conservative leaders.
Muslim: Any brown person who isn’t a conservative Christian.

- N -
National Rifle Association (NRA): America’s foremost defender of Americans’ non-existent “Second Amendment Rights” to bear arms assault rifles.

- O -
Obama: Osama Bin Laden
Obamacare: Socialized medicine, which — to Republicans — is a BAD thing (See also, “Death Panels”).

- P -
Personal Responsibility: A facile justification for not helping anyone.
Poor: Moochers.
Privatize: Hand public resources over to profiteers, who will supposedly manage them more efficiently while charging us exorbitant rates for accessing them.
Pro Life: Pro-Fetus.Once you’re born, you’re on your own (see “Death Penalty” above).

- Q -
Quorum Call: Not nearly as fun as a booty call.
Quotas: The soft bigotry of low expectations.

- R -
Rape: The only way God intended for unmarried women to have sex.
Rapture: An event preceding the end-times when all believers are bodily taken from earth into heaven by God, before the ravages of armageddon begin. Seriously, I’m not making this up.
Reform: Rolling back reforms.
Religious Freedom: The right to worship Jesus and force others to worship Jesus.
Right to Work: The right to work for low pay and no benefits.

- S -
Stars and Bars: (See “Confederate Flag”)
School Choice: Undermining public schools with vouchers for Bible-based education (See “Bible-Based”).
Second Amendment Rights: The total whack-job’s constitutional right to carry assault rifles and stockpile weapons in their underground, barbed wire-covered bunkers (See “National Rifle Association”).
Socialist: Anything left of Rush Limbaugh.
Stand Your Ground: The right to shoot anyone on sight who seems like a threat because they have brown skin and are wearing a hoodie.
States Rights: The right of Republican state governors to deny civil rights, unemployment insurance, and health coverage to their citizens.

- T -
Tea Party: Nutcases in pseudo-colonial clothing who think they’re a grassroots movement, but are actually funded by evil rich people like the Koch brothers.
Tort Reform: Preventing people from seeking legal restitution and compensation for corporate abuses (but suing the US government is encouraged).

- U -
Un-American: Urban, non-white, multicultural, progressive, non-Christian, homophobic, educated, and/or tolerant.

- V -
Very Poor: Lucky Duckies who get everything handed to them on a silver platter; People former presidential candidate Mitt Romney is “not concerned about.”
Victimization: Calling out conservatives when they — or organizations they support — victimize people.
Voter Fraud: Voting for Democrats.

- W -
War on Christmas: Publicly acknowledging the existence of other (non-Christian) winter holidays besides Christmas.

Welfare State:
A horrible state of dependency that occurs when we have any social safety net provisions or public services whatsoever.
Welfare Queens: Tramps who keep having children out of wedlock so they can collect huge welfare checks to buy gas for their huge pink Cadillacs.

- X -
Xenophobic: An apt description for many conservatives, although few of them would admit it.

- Y -
Yellow Journalism: Any news reporting that makes conservatives look bad.

- Z -
Zionism: Something conservative evangelicals support because the Rapture won’t happen until the Jews retake Jerusalem … and after which, Jews who don’t accept Jesus as their Savior will die horrible deaths and go to Hell. But we don’t need to tell them that.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Christmas Things That You May Not Know

1. Christmas was once against the law in America. When the Puritans came to this continent they brought their objection to Christmas with them. They believed it was a creation of man, not Christ, so it should not be considered a holy day. They weren’t too keen on the revelry that went along with the holiday, either. Christmas was celebrated in America by Anglicans but most Protestant groups forbade it. It wasn’t until June 26, 1870 that Christmas took its official place on the American holiday calendar.

2. Christmas trees were forbidden as a part of the celebrations until as late as 1640. Since the tradition of bringing evergreen boughs or trees into the home at the Winter Solstice was pagan in origin, the early Church forbade them. The first recorded instance of a Christmas tree dates to 1510 when the town of Riga in Latvia brought a tree into the town square, decorated it and then burned it. Thankfully, we have relegated the burning part to the Yule log. Approximately 30-35 million Christmas trees are sold each year in the U.S.

3. Speaking of “Yule,” that word is believed to originate from the Anglo-Saxon for “wheel” (though scholars are not completely certain). A mid-winter festival known by this name has been celebrated since well before 1000 CE, marking the Winter Solstice. The term “yuletide” as a reference to the Christmas season dates back to about 1475.

4. Christmas songs date back to the 4th century: St. Hilary of Poitiers composed Jesus refulsit omnium for a Christmas Mass. The Renaissance brought lighter songs and the earliest English carol came in 1410. It was composed by Ritson and is found in the Ritson Manuscript. One of the oldest carols that we still sing today is “O Tannenbaum” from Germany. The most popular Christian carol is “Silent Night,” while the most popular secular song is “White Christmas.”

5. The date on which we celebrate Christmas was chosen by Bishop Liberius of Rome in 354 CE. The actual date has been debated since the formation of Christianity. The biblical account says, “And there were shepherds living out in the fields near by, keeping watch over their flocks at night.” Shepherds in the Middle East would have only had their flocks in the fields from Spring into Fall. In December, the animals were brought in close to shelter to protect them from the cold and rain. The likeliest date for the birth of Jesus is March, 6 BC.

6. Santa Claus is an amalgamation of several figures: St. Nicholas, the Bishop of Myra (modern-day Turkey), the Norse god, Woden, and the Celtic Holly King primary among them. The beard, the cloak, the reindeer… these are associated with the aforementioned figures. Our modern Santa was created by cartoonist Thomas Nast in 1860 for Harper’s Weekly magazine. Every year he added more to Santa, including his home at the North Pole, the “naughty and nice” list, and coming down the chimney. When the Coca-Cola company started using Santa Claus in its advertisements, it built even more on the lore.

7. Gift giving at the Solstice did not originate with the Magi. During the Saturnalia, which had some influence on our own modern Christmas holiday, gifts were exchanged among friends. As for the Magi… the Bible doesn’t say that there were three of them. There were three kinds of gifts – gold, frankincense and myrrh – so it was just assumed that there were three men who brought them.

8. Mistletoe was a sacred plant to both the Druids and the Norse. According to Norse myth, when the god Baldur was killed by a mistletoe arrow, his mother Frigga wept white berries which brought him back to life. The mistletoe was then blessed by Frigga so that whoever stood beneath it received a kiss. The Druids collected mistletoe by cutting it with a gold sickle, catching it in a cloth before it could hit the ground. The sprigs were placed over doorways to protect the dwelling and bring blessings.

9. The first Christmas cards appeared in 1843, designed by John Horsley, and sold in London for one penny each. The image on the front was of a family raising a Christmas toast which caused the Puritans to denounce it. But cards became very popular anyway. A German lithographer named Louis Prang brought the tradition to America in 1860, printing the cards in his press in Boston. Nowadays, more than 3 million Christmas cards are sent in America alone!

10. Santa’s reindeer are based upon the eight-legged Sleipnir, the Norse god Woden’s flying horse. The reindeer received their names from Clement Moore in his poem, “A Visit From St. Nick” in 1823. Rudolph didn’t join them until 1939 when Robert L. May wrote a verse for Montgomery Ward. Gene Autry recorded the song that Johnny Marks adapted from the poem, releasing it during Christmas week, 1949. It became the second best-selling song of all time until the 1980′s, selling over 25 million copies.

  Originally posted at Addicting Info by T. Steelman on 2012/12/10          Creative Commons License

Friday, December 14, 2012

Friday Funnies: The Fiscal Cliff, Obama, Republicans

Jay Leno: "Today in Washington, President Obama met with leaders of the American Indian tribes and they honored the president by giving him his own Indian name: 'Running Deficit.'"

"According to a new study at UCLA, Latinos live longer than non-Latinos. More bad news for Republicans."

"There was one really awkward moment with the American Indians. In the middle of the meeting, Joe Biden walked in wearing a Redskins jersey."

"Are you sick and tired of hearing the term 'fiscal cliff'? people don’t understand it. It doesn’t tell you how serious the situation is. They need more colorful metaphors. Here’s how to explain it: 'It's 4 a.m. for our economy and Lindsay Lohan is behind the wheel.' That says danger. People understand that."

"'Fiscal cliff' is a big fancy phrase right now. If you want people to understand though, use language they get: 'We're headed for Broke-Ass Mountain.' That’s what it is."

"Over the four-day holiday weekend Americans spent $15 billion a day! That almost breaks President Obama's record."

"Santa Monica has banned nativity scenes on public land. Opponents want to use real people to make a display instead of statues to get around the rule. The problem is, it’s Los Angeles. So where are you going to find three Wise Men and a virgin?"

Conan O'Brien: "The governor of Arizona punched a reporter who asked her about global warming. Afterwards she apologized. She said, 'Sorry, I'm a little touchy because it's almost Christmas and it's 135 degrees outside."

"A new book coming out reveals that Florida Sen. Marco Rubio was born a Catholic, became a Mormon, then returned to the Catholic church, then became a Baptist, then again returned to the Catholic church. And I think he's at it again because he's now asking people to call him Marco Rubinstein."

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Mad Consumerism: The Real War On Christmas ( OP-ED )

  The following is an Op-Ed posted at Addicting Info used under Creative Commons License.

 T. Steelman  on December 8, 2012

Thousands storm the doors of the Fashion Place Mall in Murray, Utah which opened doors to shoppers at 12:01 in the morning Nov. 24, 2006.  Photo by Tom Smart for The New York Times

Holiday consumerism @

With the regularity of the tides (you can’t explain it), Bill O’Reilly began his whining about the terrible “War on Christmas” a couple of weeks ago. He rails about salespeople saying “Happy Holidays” and the lack of Nativity scenes in public areas and Christmas trees becoming Holiday trees. He spews and foams at the mouth about how atheists and humanists and pagans (oh my!) are trying to take Christmas away from the poor, besieged Fox News viewers. Oh, what a show he puts on! But who is really waging war on Christmas?

The War is, according to Fox and O’Reilly, being waged by the atheists, the Pagans and the “evul Libruls.” Anyone who believes that the Constitution forbids a state-supported religion is a threat to their holiday celebrations. For some reason, they are much more concerned about what they can’t do than what they can do.

But this is about more than the naming of a tree or a salesperson’s greeting. It’s a question of the spiritual symbols of the holidays being co-opted. It’s about the commercialism that has replaced the true meanings of those symbols. In the face of the media onslaught, the never-ending ads for sales, the songs, the decorations – the whole brouhaha that Christmas has become – so many of us have lost the spiritual side of the season. This isn’t about saying “Happy Holidays” or Christmas trees or reading Luke at a school pageant. It’s about what the holiday should mean to those who celebrate it.

For Christians, this holiday is about the advent of their God, His becoming flesh. It’s about how their God decided to become human and try to show everyone on Earth how to do the same. Now, I’m not Christian but I know that the real meaning of this holiday is very deep and profound. It is the very basis of this religion. Christmas should be a celebration of this miracle. But instead,  Bill-O and his pals focus their ire on superficialities.

What does saying “Merry Christmas” truly have to do with how the holiday is celebrated? The irrelevance of a greeting is stark in contrast to the real meaning of the day. What does dropping almost half a billion dollars on things have to do with the birth of Christ? The real affront to the season – no matter which holiday one celebrates – is the mad consumerism. The material frenzy has become a desecration of the miracle that the holiday is based upon. It’s fine to celebrate the season with gifts and decorations but can’t we be a bit more… I don’t know… less conspicuous? Do we really need to have lights on every inch of the house with 20 foot rubber snowglobes and Santa on the roof? Do we need to have a dozen gifts for each family member? Do we have to be so greedy?

Jesus was a poor man. He ministered to the poor. He loved the poor, the sick, the elderly and the young. I think He would be appalled at how his birth has become a wallowing in materialism. I think He would be heartbroken.

And that’s just one aspect of this trumped-up War on Christmas. It’s interesting that some of the traditions that Bill-O and his minions get so worked up over are ones that were…stolen is such a harsh word; how about co-opted…from Pagans.

The Christmas tree goes as far back as the Romans, who decorated the trees in the Sacred Grove of Diana during Saturnalia. Germanic Pagans venerated evergreens because they did not “die” over the winter. Druids and Vikings alike would bring evergreen boughs into the house during Yuletide.

The date of Christmas itself is Pagan in origin. The 25th of December was a Roman holiday, Dies Natales Solis Invectus, the Birth of the Unconquerable Sun. The Persian god Mithra was also born on that date. Most biblical scholars agree that Jesus had to have been born in the Spring, but the Pagans celebrated the birth of many gods around the date of the Winter Solstice. Hence, the date was adopted by the Church in the 4th century as a way of making the transition from Pagan holidays to the Christian one a little easier.

There are many other traditions that were adopted by Christianity. But that’s not really very important in the scheme of things. All of the traditions and stories and foods and festivity have been homogenized into a secular holiday. And most of us are pretty okay with that, whatever our religion.

If there really is a “War on Christmas,” it is being waged by Bill O’Reilly, Fox News and everyone who chooses to look away from the bright light above the manger in favor of the bright lights of the Mall. Whatever holiday you celebrate this season, try to reach beyond the stuff to the spirit. Happy Holidays!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Santa Is A Democrat, So Says America

   As if you and I did not know this already, Public Policy Polling just released their latest “ Holiday Poll “ concerning the Christmas cast of characters, polling 500 people where over half of them were age 45 and older.Polling was evenly split between Democrats and Republicans at 36% apiece, with Independent/Other making up the remainder.


By a 16% margin, poll respondents leaned toward Santa being a Democrat rather than a Republican, undoubtedly due to his generous nature. (Not sure that I agree with this consensus – Santa’s an old white guy, after all, so odds put him in the Republican camp. I guess I’d have to see his shop’s working conditions and how he treats his elves before settling on a verdict.) Regardless of Santa’s political affiliation, over half of respondents believe the “Fiscal Cliff” will force him to cut back on the goodies he’ll be bringing.

  A few more PPP tidbits for you:

    • Only 1 in 10 women said they would not be attending a worship service over the holidays, compared to 25% of the male respondents.
    • 3/5ths of women thought Obama would receive gifts rather than coal, compared to 2/5ths of men.
    • An almost-equal number of Democrats thought Obama would get gifts as Republicans thought he’d get coal (86% and 85% respectively).
    • Only 4% of Republican respondents celebrated a winter holiday other than Christmas, compared to 16% of Democrats.
    • 79% of Democrats thought Santa was a member of their party, compared to 61% of Republicans thinking Santa was a member of their party.
    • Republicans were three times more likely than Democrats to believe in the ‘war on Christmas.’
    • Democrats, by a 12-point margin, were more likely to turn Santa in for running over their grandmothers
    • Republicans were twice as likely as Democrats to list It’s a Wonderful Life as their favorite movie, while Democrats preferred Miracle on 34th Street by a six-point margin.
    • Almost twice as many Democrats as Republicans listed Rudolph as their favorite holiday character, and more than four times as many Democrats preferred The Grinch.

    But wait! There’s more!

For instance, 47% of respondents really and truly believe there’s a war on Christmas. (Seriously.) Oddly enough, that’s the precise percentage of votes received by presidential candidate Mitt Romney in the 2012 election (and of course, we all know the other reason 47% is a significant number for Romney).

Additionally, 51% of respondents think Santa will be bringing Barack Obama gifts rather than coal this Christmas. Again, that’s the precise percentage of votes the President received in the 2012 election. (A greater number of respondents – 63% — thought Mitt Romney was more likely to get gifts than coal, perhaps out of consolation.)

“Spending time with family,” “cookies,” and watching the movie, It’s a Wonderful Life topped the lists of favorite holiday pastimes.

Grandma loses out big time this holiday season: 61% of respondents would not press charges against Santa if his reindeer ran her over, and the “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer” song came in third place for Most Annoying Holiday Song, behind “The Chipmunk Song” and “Santa Baby.”

  From Addicting Info


Monday, December 10, 2012

Small Business and Obamacare, The Facts

   as many of you are aware, the right-wing noise machine has made an issue of how much the ACA will have an impact on small businesses, and that employee hours will be cut back due to the increased cost to the employers. You have no doubt heard from Papa John Pizza founder and CEO John Schnatter threatening to raise his crap pizza prices by 10 – 14 cents in order to cover the added expense of Obamacare, which, as it turns out is bullshit.

   Apparently Papa forgot that this is the Internet age and that there are people out there who can actually still do math, and that is exactly what Maggie Mahar over at has done. She basically sums up what economist and others have reported on the obamacare costs to Papa.

Managed Care Matters’ Joe Paduda recently took a hard look at the numbers that led Papa John Pizza founder and CEO John Schnatter to announce that he’s going to have to hike the price of his pizzas by 10 to 14 cents to cover the added cost of complying with Obamacare’s provisions.

“Turns out that it’s only 3.4 to 4.6 cents” for an average-sized pie,” Paduda observes.  “Let’s think about that,” he continues. “Fourteen cents a pizza gets all of his employees excellent health coverage (only about a third are covered now), even though Schnatter says he’d ‘like to cover all of them.’”

Over at Forbes, Caleb Malby eyeballed Schnatter’s balance sheet and confirms Paduda’s appraisal: Obmacare does not constitute a major threat to profit margins. “Last year, Papa John’s International captured $1.218 billion in revenue,” he reports. “Operating expenses were $1.131 billion.” Schnatter claims that Obamacare will his cost his company $5-8 million annually. “If Schnatter’s math is accurate,” Malby writes, “ the new regulation translates into a .4% to .7% (yes, fractions of a percent) expense increase.”

“Using Schnatter’s figures,” he concludes, “the costs his company will incur due to Obamacare are not equal to the price increases he mentions. Those increases would more than make up for damage done to the company’s net income through increases to operational expenses.”

    So, Papa Johns, Denny’s, and The Olive Garden are not making good business decision when it comes to the workers and health insurance, they are making political decisions by vendetta. Their claims are nothing more than the usual conservative BULLSHIT.

Friday, December 07, 2012

Sunday Satire: Mitt’s Bored,Obama’s Christmas Trees, And WTF?


Jay Leno: Mitt Romney is going back to work. Romney is joining the board of directors at Marriott hotels. See, who says President Obama can't create jobs? There's one right there."

"Texas Gov. Rick Perry says he's taking steps to run for president in 2016. In fact, this week he's meeting with donors. He better hope they're brain donors."

Conan O'Brien: "Kim Kardashian has been touring the Middle East, touching off angry protests among conservative Muslims. You would think conservative Muslims would be happy to see a woman who's never had a job."

"A new study says the average American now weighs 176 pounds. May not sound too bad to you. But the study was conducted at elementary schools."

"The CEO of the Olive Garden blames his company's low profits on Obamacare – which is odd because most people won't eat at the Olive Garden until they have health insurance."

"The Obamas have decorated the White House with 54 Christmas trees. It's all part of their 'For the last time, we're not Muslim' campaign."

David Letterman: "Mitt Romney of course lost the election. Think about it this way. One day you're the Republican candidate running for president of the United States, and the next day you're sitting in Applebee's blowing on your soup." 

"It's a very proud night for myself and my family and my staff and my friends. I received a Kennedy Center Honor. And today the Republicans are trying to block it."

Jimmy Fallon: "Friends of Mitt Romney are saying that he’s bored now that he’s no longer running for president – though not as bored as the rest of us were when he WAS running for president."

Computerized Brain By 2020?

   It appears that science and the military are well on their way to creating a “ computerized brain “ by the year 2020. Of course, the medical field would also benefit from the technology in combating disease, according to USSpinWatcher  at DailyKos:

Three ongoing research projects have convinced me that it's inevitable that humanity will create a computerized mind.  For example, the IBM funded Blue Brain Project which is scheduled for completion in 2020 requires no new inventions to complete.  The Blue Brain Project uses existing technology to reverse engineer the human down to the molecular level by scanning information obtained from brain tissue into a highly specialized computer..  All this project requires is time and money and it's well funded. The project has already demonstrated that it can do this with neurocortical columns of a rat brain and that it can apply that knowledge to other species.

Since 2020 is a long way away, the Europeans are applying for a billion dollars to increase the level of funding of the project.  It won't be known till next year if the project will be funded but experts say the chances are good.

The military has taken a big interest in such projects.  For example, Britain has commissioned robotic intelligent honey bees for among other things search and rescue missions.  Tiny bees with brains are expected to be able to fly extremely well as they can automatically adjust to wind and obstacles without operator instructions. They are also expected to develop a hive swarm mind. 

So how much additional effort could it take to create killer bees for search and destroy missions?

The U.S. military research agency (DARPA) has also shown a great deal of interest in developing computer brains.  They are helping to fund another IBM project that will greatly increase computer power for computerized minds.  The project is setting new speed records ever day and can process more neurons than are contained in a human brain.  However, the computerized neurons are much less power efficient and 400 times slower than human brains at present.

The direction of the research suggests that these computer minds will initially be copies of existing minds.  The physicality of the brains is being developed by the Canadians.

Thus far, I haven't heard any scientist or politician yell stop!  Apparently, none of these project scientists have ever read Frankenstein, watched an episode of Battlestar Gallactica or are concerned that these projects have a high potential for being controlled by the military industrial complex. 

However, it's not the potential for creating intelligent destructive machines that is my only worry. 

When the projects are completed then humanity will have created intelligent life but the scientists on the project clearly have no qualm about using their new brains for experimentation.  The scientists on the project are discussing using the first initial brains as essentially lab rats to test drugs and other medical treatments for human brains.

Originally posted to USSpinWatcher on Tue Dec 04, 2012

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Fox Sidelines Karl Rove and Dick Morris…For Now

By Lorraine Devon Wilke   2012/12/04      Original

In the continuing, squirming readjustment of the Republican party since the gut punch known as Election 2012, and in a story that’s either completely stunning or pulled from the “why’d it take so long?” vaults, Fox News chief, Roger Ailes, has seen the light and given the boot to crow-eating duo Karl Rove and Dick Morris.

It’s no secret that both Rove and Morris took preposterous punditry to its height during the election – Rove with his infamous post-Ohio “it’s premature!” hissy fit and Morris’ smarmy, smiling, absolute assurances that “Romney will win in a landslide.” In the pre-election culture at Fox News it’s likely everyone would’ve looked away and neither would’ve been called on their crazy. But it’s a new day, the playbook has changed, and this one says both were wrong, both made the boss look bad, both are gone.

Stunning and “why’d it take so long?”

New York Magazine reports that given the new, somewhat chagrined post-election atmosphere at Fox News, it’s time for “freshening story lines – and in some cases, changing the characters”:

According to multiple Fox sources, Ailes has issued a new directive to his staff: He wants the faces associated with the election off the air — for now. For Karl Rove and Dick Morris — a pair of pundits perhaps most closely aligned with Fox’s anti-Obama campaign — Ailes’s orders mean new rules. Ailes’s deputy, Fox News programming chief Bill Shine, has sent out orders mandating that producers must get permission before booking Rove or Morris.

In other words, gentlemen, you are no longer needed.

Likely they’ll find other pulpits, other soapboxes; other carnivals at which to bark, probably sooner as opposed to later. But until then the airwaves will seem somehow clearer. Take a deep breath and enjoy. Ahhhhhh

Monday, December 03, 2012

Boehner’s GOP House Terrorist Prepare to Attack America…Again!

      House Majority Leader John Boehner and the rest of the House Republican’s are still planning on an attack against the majority of America who isn’t in the GOP’s 1% fan base over the usual tax cuts for the wealthy and their corporations          After the disastrous results for the clan in the November elections, one would think that they had gotten the memo saying to tax the wealthy at a fair amount. Guess not, or ether the American public and their desires mean nothing to Boehner and friends.  More debt-ceiling hostage taking is forth coming from the House, as reported by

Steven D at DKos.

That's what John Boehner told President Obama when Obama told him that there  had to be a deal on the debt ceiling. But he wasn't really talking to Obama - he was talking to the people of the United States who re-elected Obama to a second term and helped Dems pick up seats in the Senate and House.  In essence he's telling all of us the price for the Democrats winning the election is that the Republicans in the House are going to ruin the US economy if they don't get what they want - no tax cuts for the rich and cuts to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. For starters - repeal of Obamacare is also "on the table."

This is how the Movie Mafia Gang Lords talk.  It's extortion.  It's a direct threat to tank the country's economy.  In fact, we've seen this real life political hostage taking before in 2010 and 2011 when Republicans played a crude, reckless and dangerous game with the lives of their fellow citizens as part of a naked grab for complete power over the budget and also to wreck Obama's re-election by any means necessary.  That a last minute deal to keep the Bush tax cuts in place resulted in a downgrading of America's credit rating and damaged the economy was just "collateral damage" as far as Republicans were concerned.

The threat that the country might not pay all its bills caused a slump in financial markets and led in August 2011 to the first downgrade of the nation’s credit rating. It left broader economic scars, too. Many economists contend it hurt economic growth and jobs, and a July 2012 report by the Government Accountability Office found that it increased the country’s borrowing costs by about $1.3 billion in the 2011 fiscal year.

On short, Republicans didn't give a damn about the millions of unemployed, improving the economy so people could find jobs and provide for their families, or protecting the social safety net for millions of people on Medicare and Social Security.  All they cared about was preserving tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans from rising 3.5%.  They were willing to cut spending on everything for essential scientific research, funding for the National Weather Service, the safety of our food and medicine the FDA, money for disaster relief, etc.  Only cuts for defense spending were off the table. In brief, it was their version of Austerity or nothing

You know Speaker Boehner, we've had the chance to watch how well austerity, during a deep recession, has worked out in real time in Europe these past few years.  The result: A European Union on the brink of economic collapse.  Why?  Because austerity measures take money out of the hands of people who would spend it thus eliminating demand for goods and services. You don't have to bring up Greece or Spain or Portugal to make that case.  Just look at the United Kingdom:

he UK economy is flatlining, unemployment is rising and around 13.2 million people live below the poverty line. The prospects of building a sustainable economy remain distant.

The common factor behind these grim statistics is that the purchasing power of ordinary people has been severely eroded and without adequate resources people cannot buy goods and services produced by businesses.

The UK gross domestic product (GDP) has increased from the 1976 figure of £621bn to around £1.5tn, but the share going to employees in the form of wages and salaries has declined. In 1976, the amount of wages and salaries paid to UK employees, expressed as a percentage of GDP, stood at 65.1%. By the end of 2011, it was around 54% ...

That's from the well known leftist publication the Business Insider. Austerity in Europe isn't just an economic policy with economic consequences.  It has led to an increase in suicides, the closure of health clinics and signs of a rise in infectious diseases.  To be blunt, Austerity policies endanger the lives and health of real people, as well as affects the bottom line of many small businesses.  Believe it or not, Goldman Sachs CEO is against austerity measures right now.

TORONTO (AP) — The chief executive of Goldman Sachs said Wednesday he is against austerity measures in the short term as the U.S. "fiscal cliff" looms.

Lloyd Blankfein, also chairman of the investment bank, said during a talk at the Canadian Club of Toronto that he's all for budget cutbacks in the long term but not right now.

Blankfein said, "You can't austere yourself into a higher GDP" and added, "It's not going to be very good if the medicine kills the patient." He said there can't be another stimulus because of the consequences to the government's balance sheet and said the U.S. has to convince the market it will deal with its problems in the long term.

Even Wall Street Banksters know that austerity in a time of the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression is a "short-sighted" idea.  Yet, a failure to raise the debt ceiling would impose immediate and long lasting austerity effects on the US economy.  So why are the Republicans continuing to push for policies that will hurt our economy, but more importantly impact and in many cases devastate the lives of their fellow Americans, many of them already just barely getting by? 

Because frankly they care more about their rich benefactors, the billionaires who spent all that money this last election cycle to defeat President Obama and reclaim the Senate.  Well, that flood of money did not do what the financiers of the Republican election campaigns expected, and they are royally pissed at the GOP. Combine that with the still powerful bloc of Tea Party ideologues in Congress led by Paul Ryan, and you have the explanation for why Boehner is promising that he will not raise the debt ceiling to allow the government to function unless the Republican agenda, the one voters rejected at the polls, is passed.

To call the GOP a political party is an oxymoron.  The republicans in office are merely the means by which right wing media outlets generate infotainment programming and revenues, large corporations preserve the ability to make obscene profits at a time of economic distress, and a fee hundred billionaires protect their monstrous hoards of wealth from a small rise in taxation.  It's not a political party,it's simply the bought and paid for political machine of people like the Koch Brothers. It will not compromise or do the "people's business" because it does not care about the people, nor is it able to compromise.

Less extreme Republicans, like Richard Lugar and Charlie Crist, have either left the party or been pushed out.  Others have simply adopted the extremist views of the most rabid portion of their base, a base that has been brainwashed by conservative media outlets such as Fox, talk radio, etc.  The famous Yeats poem "The Second Coming" has a verse that perfectly describes them: "The best lack all conviction, while the worst/Are full of passionate intensity."

We learned in 2009, 2010, 2011 and this year that Republicans will say anything, repeat any lie, and worse, do anything, no matter how disastrous the consequences would be for our country in order to oppose the policies that would help ordinary Americans at the minor expense of a few uber rich individuals and corporations.  We've witnessed hate speech, racism and even violence at levels not publicly seen since the Jim Crow era.  We've watched Republicans pull every dirty trick in the book to keep people from voting, and pull every political stunt to delay and obstruct Democratic policies (e.g., the unprecedented abuse of the filibuster) while also grabbing every opportunity to pass laws promoted by ALEC that protect the profits of the wealthiest and most polluting industries on the planet.

Nothing they do should surprise us anymore.  Republicans do not support America as a nation of diverse peoples and cultures with a common dream of creating a better life for themselves and their families.  What they do support is whatever Fox News or their benefactors demand they support.

They will not compromise.  They will not give in.  On the contrary, they expect the Democrats to meekly surrender to their demands.  Well, I didn't vote for Democrats to cave in at the first sign of these egregious bullying tactics by the extreme right, and I suspect neither did you.  There have been hopeful signs from Senator Reid, Senator Durbin and from the White House that the Democrats have learned the lesson of the past four years and will not abandon the principles and policies they espoused to win our votes in order to appease these extortionists.

I pray they are right.  But in the meantime let your Democratic officials, your representatives know that you will not stand for a repeat of 2010 and 2011.

Get on the phone, send in your emails and tweets and tell them to fight, and as Harry Truman once said, "Give them hell."  Certainly Republicans deserve nothing after this election other than a resurgent, combative and united Democratic Party that won't stand for these brazen attempts to essentially hold America hostage once again.  Tell them to tell Boehner there is no price we are willing to pay to see the Republican agenda passed against the will of the people.

Contact links here:  LINK and LINK

UPDATE:  From the comments (mithra): 

Obama Wants You to Tweet Congress on Fiscal Cliff

He's even got a hashtag

The hashtag is #My2k.

A list of Congressional twitter accounts can be found here: LINK


Thursday, November 29, 2012

Carly Fiorina Complains About ‘Rich’ Public Employees On ‘Meet The Press’

   Former HP CEO Carly Fiorina now has a problem with public sector workers making to much money. This come from someone who ran HP into the ground on her watch and fired thousands of workers after she made HP pretty much worthless.

Elisabeth Parker has the story on Fiorina’s latest bullshit.

AddictingInfo     11/26/2012     Creative Commons License

“It is not fair that public employee union pensions and benefits are so rich now,” Carly Fiorina — vice chair of the National Republican Senatorial Committee and former chair and CEO of Hewlett-Packard — whined to host David Gregory and her fellow panelists during the Fiscal Cliff segment of MSNBC’s November 25th edition of Meet the Press.

This, coming from a woman whose yearly net worth is $80 million, despite her incompetence and colossal failures at everything she attempts. It never even occurs to individuals with her massive sense of entitlement that the $38,461.54 Fiorina makes PER HOUR for screwing up is more than most of us earn in an ENTIRE YEAR for competent or superior job performance. Like some sort of Bizarro-World King Midas, everything Fiorina touches turns to sh*t while her bank accounts turn to gold:

As vice chair of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, she presided over resounding defeats and the loss of two GOP senate seats in this year’s election. Way to go, Carly.

As chair and CEO of Hewlett-Packard, Fiorina became the FIRST WOMAN to lead a successful and legendary Fortune 20 company to the brink of collapse and a 50% decline in stock price (which rebounded by 10% when she was ousted in 2005). According to Andy Barr’s 2010 article in Politico, Fiorina fired 28,000 workers and walked away with a $21 million “golden parachute,” which financed her forays into politics.

As consultant for 2008 Presidential Candidate John McCain and fundraising chairman for the Republican National Committee, Fiorina’s popular war hero lost the election to an unknown African American with rather unfortunate middle and last names.

As a senate candidate for the State of California running against established Democratic incumbent Barbara Boxer, Fiorina repelled Californian voters with her homophobic, pro-global warming, anti-tax (and anti-demon sheep) platform.

  Fiorina’s statement was in response to her co-panelist Reverend Al Sharpton’s (Host, MSNBC’s Politics Nation; Founder and President, National Action Network) assertion that in order for Congress to hammer out a deal and avoid the ‘Fiscal Cliff,’ in a way that is palatable for voters would mean raising taxes on individuals who make more than $250K per year:

“This is about fairness.  Why do we need to deal with the tax on the rich first?  Because we must assure Americans we’re dealing with fairness.  We keep talking about shared sacrifice, there was not shared wealth and shared prosperity.  So you’re asking people that didn’t enjoy the good times to share in paying for the tab that they never enjoyed.”

To which Fiorina replied:

“Let us accept Rev. Al’s point and the president’s point about fairness. But equally, it is not fair that public employee union pensions and benefits are so rich now that cities and states are going bankrupt and college tuition is going up 25 and 30 percent or police and firefighters are being cut. There’s a lot that isn’t fair right now.”

Of course, Fiorina has absolutely no clue when it comes to the concept of fairness. According to the Economic Policy Institute, the average annual earnings of top one-percenters like her grew a whopping 156% from 1979-2007, while the bottom 90%’s wages — including both public and private sector employees — grew only 17% in the same time period.

And neither the unions — nor their public sector employees — are getting “rich,” as Fiorina claims. How many retired teachers and DMV employees do you know of who can afford to finance their own US senate campaign? According to AFSCME’s The Truth About Public Service Worker’s Pensions fact sheet, The average public service worker earns less than $45,000 per year and receives around $19,000 per year upon retiring after long careers in serving their communities.

You can see MSNBC’s November 25th edition of Meet the Press in the video below:

Sunday’s panel was hosted by journalist David Gregory, covered a range of topics, and also included the following guests:  US Representative Peter King (R-NY, House Intelligence Committee); Carl Levin (D-MI, Chairman, Armed Services Committee); US Representative Gregory Meeks (D-NY, Represents Far Rockaway, Queens New York); David Cote (Chairman & CEO, Honeywell); David Brooks (Columnist, New York Times); Ken Burns (Documentary Filmmaker); and Andrea Mitchell (NBC News Chief Foreign Affairs Correspondent).

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Republicans Suffer From ‘Taking My Ball And Going Home’ Syndrome

By John Viall   2012/11/19

    THESE ARE BLEAK TIMES FOR OUR FRIENDS ON THE RIGHT as they face up to the horrid reality that they tried to “Take Back America” and failed in ignominious fashion. The only solace they seem to find since Barack Obama won a second term in (to them) a stunning fashion comes from churning out petitions demanding the right to secede from the Union they so badly wanted to take back.

Still, there are embers in the ashes of even the worst defeats. The Nut Job right still rules the radio air waves. Fox News has four more years to convince unbalanced individuals that Obama is a Muslim or maybe a Cylon. And the U. S. House of Representatives is still firmly in their all-taxes-are-poison political grip. Michele Bachmann, the queen of the Nut Jobs, returns for another term, ready to deny that gay people actually exist. Steven King is back, too, prepared to go to his grave denying that President Obama has ever had a valid U. S. birth certificate. In fact, when last heard from on the topic, King was insisting that Obama’s parents might have faked the birth announcements that appeared in two Hawaiian newspapers, which announcements poor Steven King was forced to admit during a town hall meeting that he had personally seen in the Library of Congress records, by sending a telegram from Kenya.

What we’re saying, all boiled down, is there’s a whole lot of denyin’ goin’ on!

Marco Rubio doesn’t exactly deny that he once supported Mitt Romney long ago; but he has been busy this week denying that he agrees with Romney’s post-election statements, which sound suspiciously like Romney’s pre-election statements when you think about it. No, says Rubio. The GOP doesn’t hate people on food stamps. No. The GOP doesn’t think Latinos and women and young voters are stupid and only voted for Obama because he promised lavish “gifts.” No, no, no. Rubio denies that Republicans believe any of this. Indeed, based on answers to questions in an interview he did this week, Rubio seemed to be warming up for a possible Nut Job-backed run at the White House in 2016. Talking to a reporter from GQ magazine, Rubio stood by his party’s basic position of denial on gay rights. That is: gay people should vote with us next time around, even if they don’t exist, and even if the loudest voices on the right insist God sends hurricanes to punish America for giving gay people who don’t really exist something akin to equal rights.

The reporter, apparently realizing that our friends on the right are know at times to deny…well, let’s just say basic science…asked Rubio if he might care to comment on the age of the earth. Rubio answered carefully, knowing that on the Nut Job right the deniers are always ready to explode into anger:

I’m not a scientist, man. I can tell you what recorded history says, I can tell you what the Bible says, but I think that’s a dispute amongst theologians and I think it has nothing to do with the gross domestic product or economic growth of the United States. I think the age of the universe has zero to do with how our economy is going to grow. I’m not a scientist. I don’t think I’m qualified to answer a question like that. At the end of the day, I think there are multiple theories out there on how the universe was created and I think this is a country where people should have the opportunity to teach them all. I think parents should be able to teach their kids what their faith says, what science says. Whether the Earth was created in 7 days, or 7 actual eras, I’m not sure we’ll ever be able to answer that. It’s one of the great mysteries.

Meanwhile, three GOP experts in climate change denial now stand in line, one of the trio almost certain to become the next head of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology! (Ironically, this committee oversees NASA, the National Weather Service and the National Science Foundation among other entities.) Representative James Sensebrenner from Wisconsin is mildest in his denunciation of scientists, who he believes are twisting the facts to make climate change sound worse than it is. Lamar Smith of Texas sees it in a more sinister light and sniffs out willful bias in reporting on global warming at ABC, CBS and NBC.

Not Fox, of course. Oh no, oh no.

Dana Rohrabacher, goes all-in on the paranoia when he insists there’s an an even bigger conspiracy afoot. As Christine Gorman reported for Scientific American, in a speech on the floor of Congress this past December Rohrabacher warned about an “insidious coalition” of research scientists and politicians:

[A] coalition that has conducted an unrelenting crusade to convince the American people that their health and their safety and–yes–their very survival on this planet is at risk due to manmade global warming. The purpose of this greatest-of-all propaganda campaigns is to enlist public support for, if not just the acquiescence to, a dramatic mandated change in our society and a mandated change to our way of life. This campaign has such momentum and power that it is now a tangible threat to our freedom and to our prosperity as a people.

AT THIS POINT, IT’S GETTING HARD to keep track of all the Nut Job right’s denials and a brief recap is probably in order. As it stands, our friends on the right don’t believe in:

Thermometers–as in National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association records that show September 2012 temperatures marked the 331st month in succession during which global temperatures were above the 20th century average.

Photographs–as in NASA satellite cameras that showed the Arctic ice sheet had been reduced by fifty percent this summer compared to historic coverage limits.

The speed of light–which would seem to prove, according to scientists (but not necessarily anyone like Marco Rubio who might want to run for president with support from the Nut Job right) that the universe is a little older than a few thousand years.

Fossils–sure those ancient sea creatures and dinosaur bones embedded in limestone appear to be tens of millions of years old; but who are you gonna’ believe? Scientists, who insist on considering evidence, or Steven King and a book written thousands of years ago to guide the Jews, at a time when no one had heard of light-years or dinosaurs or Bunsen burners.

Sperm–as we all now known, sperm don’t work in cases of rape.

Lamestream media–everyone except Megyn Kelly at Fox News and Glenn Beck, in whatever bunker he’s currently hiding, hates the right-wing with implacable resolve.

Percentages–as in percentages in any opinion poll that might have shown that President Obama might actually win a second term in office. Which of course, the Nut Job right absolutely knew was mathematically and politically and morally impossible.

Liberal pollsters– people like Nathan Silver and their lamestream math, with their liberal bias, insisting that President Obama would win all the battleground states except North Carolina, win the popular vote, and pile up more than 300 electoral votes. Which all the real news people at Fox said was impossible, and Rush Limbaugh said it, too. And who are you gonna’ believe, real patriots with tea-bag hats or these fossil-loving commie freaks?

Actual voters–in 2010 the Nut Job right scored a huge victory in the mid-term elections; but actual American voters vanished two years later and idiots and members of the “entitlement class” showed up like herds of sheeple and voted for Obama.

American women–who sometimes lived under the same roofs as American men who tended to go for Romney; but somehow these females went for Obama by a sizable margin, perhaps in part because they fell for lamestream reports about the powers of sperm.

Colleges–Americans with advanced degrees voted in favor of Mr. Obama by a sizable margin. This has something to do with the fact that college students are all brain-washed by professors, and maybe the fact that the educated people prefer actual facts and tangible evidence with their political discussions. Like fossils or birth certificates or the speed-of-light.

Finally, our friends on the seem ready to deny the unique place in history of the United States of America, which is, despite various imperfections, still a land of surpassing freedoms. They say they love freedom more than liberals do. They say they believe in the Founding Fathers more than liberals do. They say they believe in the Bill of Rights more, too. They used to say, if you criticized this country, that you ought to move to Russia or some other communist country.

NOW, THEY LOSE ONE ELECTION and they’re ready to bail out to furl the red, white and blue.

They’re ready to give up on the country they say they love. They reveal themselves as great babies. But if you point that out, they’ll deny that, too.    

Creative Commons License

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Studies On Both Sides Agree, Say To Increase The Minimum Wage

   By Nathaniel Downes  2012/11/19    

It is a red-letter day when think tanks and pundits from both sides of the debate agree on something. Today is that day, when groups as diverse as the American Conservative magazine and the progressive think tank Demos stand in agreement on one very important topic – raising the minimum wage.

In comparison to historic highs, the minimum wage today is at a near record low, you need to go back to the 1950s to find a lower effective minimum wage, as you can see here with this chart generated by the date provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics:
However, the productivity of the US worker has never been higher, with the average GDP “worth” of the average worker coming to approximately $70,000 per year, a value to the companies which hire them of $33.65 per hour, making the US worker the most productive in the world, ahead of Germany, Japan, and leaving China in the dust.

In both studies, they find that the minimum wage in the US needs to be increased, and both make a solid argument as to why. Lower minimum wages do not translate to lower unemployment rates. In fact, the inverse is true, with countries such as Australia having some of the lowest unemployment rates (5%) while also having one of the highest minimum wages ($16.50 USD). An increase in the minimum wage effects not those in high-paying fields, but those at the bottom of the socio-economic ladder. Wage increases down at that end ripple faster because, simply, the people at the bottom have little room for luxuries, so added wages immediately generates added revenue into the economy without adding more than a minor blip to inflation.

Both groups studied the issue, and hit the same conclusion, that the minimum wage needs to be at, or above, $12/hour, in order to create a real benefit to society. They both found that increasing the minimum wage to $12/hour, the increase to the economy would translate to a true shot in the arm stimulus. For those arguing that this would increase costs, they are correct. The two papers do differ on how much of an increase in cost this would be, with one finding a total increase of 3% while the other finding a total increase of 0.5%. The difference between these two on the average retail purchase price change varies from $17.73/year to $106.34/year. But it would be a wage increase of 27% for your average minimum or low-wage worker, adding an estimated $11.8-$15.2 billion per year in extra spending, many times the amount paid.

This move would also reduce the number of people on programs such as the Earned Income Tax Credit, Food Stamps, and Medicaid as well by raising their standards of living to the point they no longer needed the programs. This would reduce the federal budget by several billion per year without painful cuts to programs which hurt people directly. As it is right now, these programs effectively subsidize lower wages, an unintended consequence of the stagnation of the minimum wage for decades.

Those supporting the increased minimum wage will surprise many as well. The Beast from Bentonville, Walmart itself, has lobbied congress for a significant increase in the minimum wage. Walmart, by virtue of its position as the low-cost king, finds itself in a hard place. It cannot raise its workers paychecks without raising its prices slightly, but then its competition can undercut their pricing by virtue of their refusal to raise wages. As a result, Walmart cannot raise its wages without hurting itself. By a minimum wage increase, however, all of its competition would be forced to match as its wages rose, preventing someone from undercutting them. For Walmart, a minimum wage increase would be the best thing to happen to them, as their employees can be raised to the point of being strong customers, with brand-loyalty, bringing in an estimated $1.3 billion in revenue per year, while increasing their costs less than half of that. A huge windfall for the Arkansas megacorporation.

For those thinking it would hurt the competitiveness of the United States abroad, you should think again. Minimum wage jobs are not manufacturing, but service and support roles, and cannot be outsourced. You cannot have someone in the Philipines tend bar, or flip burgers at your local sports club, or handle retail sales in the mall up the street. Those jobs are what is called “non-tradable service sector jobs” because they are tied to a physical location. They are immune from outsourcing. As for manufacturing jobs, the average factory worker would likely not see any wage increase at all, as their average wage is already many times the minimum wage. The benefit for an increase of the minimum wage grossly outweighs the problems.

One thing both discussed is that the United States simply has too many people with higher educations. While 30% of our workforce has a higher education degree, less than 20% of our jobs require such skill. This creates wage competition, and a personal debt crisis as one in three post-secondary educated people has to settle for a job unable to pay for their education, leaving them unable to particpate in the economy properly. But people go for this not because of an aptitude, or to fill the job market, but because it is the only way in which for many of them to have a livable wage, due to the floor, the minimum wage, having been stagnant for so long. They try to get ahead, to make enough to make a living, and find themselves further behind unless they have a stroke of luck.

Another thing which increased wages would do is eliminate one of the incentives for businesses hiring undocumented workers for lower end work. As it is right now, many jobs simply are too demanding for the amount of money one can make from them. Working 10 hour days of hard labor to bring home $77.50, just does not add up. However, with those wages increased from $77.50/day to $122.50/day, now you suddenly change the situation. It becomes large enough to be worth the labor associated with it for many people. And it would not hurt people at the retail level either. For example, the agricultural industry is one with a heavy immigrant force. The total cost for a years grocery bill would on average increase by just $15 per year. And unlike the illegals, the citizen-workers would be spending their money locally, not sending money back home. Eliminate the jobs for illegal immigrants, and the problem effectively solves itself. And some sectors, like food service, have not had a wage increase since 1991. Who on Capitol Hill believes that anyone can live while having the same paycheck today as they did in 1991?

It is not often when a left-wing think tank, and a right-wing magazine are in full agreement. When they are, it is a sign which we should take seriously. An increase of the federal minimum wage to $12/hour is the solution to many of the problems facing the United States today.       Creative Commons License

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Hostess And Senior Management

Hostess management awarded company execs absurdly large raises around the same time as filing for bankruptcy in January 2012 - including a 300% pay raise for then-CEO Brian Driscoll.

According to the the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union:

"As the company was preparing to file for bankruptcy earlier this year, the then CEO of Hostess was awarded a 300 percent raise (from approximately $750,000 to $2,550,000) and at least nine other top executives of the company received massive pay raises. One such executive received a pay increase from $500,000 to $900,000 and another received one taking his salary from $375,000 to $656,256."

I know this 300% pay raise has been mentioned within other diaries (e.g. Mark E Anderson's), but I wanted to add a diary highlighting just this one data point, because it's such a striking piece of evidence undermining the myth that organized labor killed Hostess.

Originally posted to marianevans on Sat Nov 17, 2012