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Saturday, June 23, 2012

How to Impress one-half of the Electorate

Except for the President of the United States a candidate for public office only needs to motivate one-half of plus one registered voters to cast their ballots for you. When the tally is done, the candidate that has the most votes wins the office. That may seem simple but getting to the ballot is the bigger task.

Most candidates for public office start out with a built in electorate constituency that will back them no matter what else they might say or do. That is, no matter what else they say or do than the single position that the candidate declared at the outset to assure that he/she has the necessary support. In American politics today the key word is Abortion. The candidate is either for it or against it. The alignment of support is more zealous and frenetic on the side of being against it.

The American voter is notoriously single-minded in his/her support of a candidate. If the candidate has declared a position against abortion the anti-abortion voter has no choice but to support that candidate against all challengers who are for choice no matter how compelling the need for choice is. When being compelled by ones moral compass means overlooking the flaws in the candidate or his/her other positions, the alleged moral position must prevail. This is why we can get an anti-abortion Governor, Senator or Congressperson who will also support gutting state and federal budgets, decimating employee pensions, cutting upper-income tax rates, laying off tens of thousands of public sector employees, hamstringing environmental protections, deregulating financial institutions so they can self-regulate, in short all the things that are helpful to everyone on the socio-economic ladder on the rung below the "very wealthy." The seminal issue remains abortion, but in recent election cycles who may marry who and who may have access to legal employment has become additional cause celeb for the electorate to hurl insults about.

Charles and David Hoch of Koch Industries fame don't really have a strong opinion on same sex marriage or undocumented immigrants, or on abortion for that matter. What they need are the pivotal issues that voters will get behind and give support to the candidates that will vote in favor of the issues that their corporate industrial empire does care about. Koch Industries' behavior is just the opposite of the voters. Voters will cast their ballots for a candidate who will do them harm, while KI does not. If a Senatorial candidate was both against abortion and for higher corporate taxes and more stringent industrial regulation, do you think the Koch's would support that person? I think not.

There are other million dollar deep pockets that support the anti-abortion candidates, but they too are depending on the voters to commix their emotions about abortion with the economic benefits that accrue only to the wealthy and corporate strata.

Does abortion hurt Koch Industries and the other mega-million dollar conglomerates? Let's look at it. Abortion removes about ¼ of 1% of the population of the US. This number will easily be made up for by both immigration and other births. So KI will not suffer for a loss of consumers. If even one million same sex couples married and did not have the requisite 2.1 children per family, that too is negligible to the economy. The Koch's and their ilk would hardly notice. Actually, I suspect that they would develop goods and services that same sex couples would flock to and business revenues would not suffer.

What would be detrimental to the KI, et al would be the loss of about 12 million undocumented immigrants who pick our fruits and veggies, do our lawn work, clean our offices, drywall our new houses, pluck our chickens at the lowest wage practicable. Supporting a candidate who wants to deport all the "illegals" and their spawn will not get any of them deported, but supporting the candidate who claims conservative positions that include deportation of undocumented workers and their families will get the anti-tax on corporations and wealthy people candidate elected. Now that WILL benefit Koch's and Friends.

A candidate that declares him/her self against business regulations, against higher taxes, against public sector employees get the attention of the moneyed deep pockets of the world. But in the end it is the voters who do the actual electing. They need causes that they can actually understand. On one single level abortion is a simple concept to grasp. One abortion equals one less person born. But nothing is really that simple.

One abortion also equals one less share of a family's limited income; one less mouth to feed if you will. If the anti-abortion contingent stepped in to claim all non-aborted fetuses and provided that child a good life until age 18 and for life if developmentally disabled then there would be a good case for a significant reduction in abortion activity. David and Charles, where are your billions to make that a reality? I suspect that they only use the abortion issue as a means to an end. That is what I call Tuna! – buying and selling without concern for the consequences.

Abortion, and access to health care and the right to marry have become the emotional issues that get a candidate elected or defeated for office. They obscure the real issues that hurt people in far worse ways. Human needs and the needs of a corporation are vastly different. Those needs are at odds with each other. This is why corporations and humans cannot both be persons in the same reality as the Citizens United effort has begun to establish.

A simple equation demonstrates that there will be millions more people in the United States (and the entire world) who just won't be needed for the production of goods and services. We are seeing this in the now chronic unemployment level in the US. About 14 million people want to work and can't secure a living wage to support themselves and families. Our fiscally conservative response to this is what? We have politicians call for tax cuts, reductions in pensions, curtailing of Food Stamps and the other social support services that might allow some taxpayers to keep a few more dollars in their pockets. The other side of that equation is that the lower taxes result in lower revenues to pay for the support of people who are denied jobs. The economic activity spirals downward resulting in more unemployment and a greater need for social support systems.

Conservatives rely on the Them And Us mentality to attempt isolation of themselves from the realities around them. Instead of solving the economic woes of poor people, they are more inclined to wall off their homes in gated communities. Instead of educating people and creating a place for them to live and enjoy liberties, the Conservative is far more willing to build a prison and wall them in using petty crimes and minimum sentencing as their weapon of choice.

The fearful voter is so much more approachable with simple black and white issues than with the realities that are out there waiting to overwhelm the system when they reach Gladwell's Tipping Point. We need to devise a new economic system that accounts for the millions of people are neglected by our present bank-and-profit capital system. This is not to say that Capitalism is not a big part of what is needed. The big change must be in how we measure "profitability" and successful capital investments. Investment success is when more people are benefited by our actions and our votes.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

The End of an Era

The End of an Era
Cross posted from my "Principle of Imminent Collapse" blog

The world is facing the end of the era of massive corporate production of goods and services. It is not really the fault of the corporations because they too are victims of the progress they made possible in the first place. There is a cyclic dependency of businesses needing to contain costs that feed into the reduction of the need for labor and therefore making it difficult for people to afford what the businesses provide. Unfortunately this reduction of the need for labor creates a cyclic dependency that results in much larger profits for the businesses. So while people are displaced from the means of personal wealth creation, the capital providers (Those Evil Capitalists) do better as the result.

There is a natural process of system aging that is referred to in environmental circles as eutrophication. While there is a precise chemical process associated with the aging process where excess nutrients are loaded into an aquatic environment causing algal blooms and degradation, there is an observational component too. A pond that starts out with clear clean water will ultimately fill in on its own with plant and animal detritus and slowly become a swamp or bog, then a meadow and finally a forest. Humans have accelerated the process in many places but it remains a natural system aging process.

Social, political and economic systems experience their own characteristic eutrophication process. Take for example the soft ice cream stand that was a ubiquitous part of the highway and byway landscape from the early days of inter-city automobile travel. Mr. Yost and his wife bought the manufacturing equipment, bought a cheap parcel of land out beyond the City Limits and built his little store. Motorists stopped by on hot summer afternoons with the kids fussing in the back seat. A cool cone and a hotdog settled them down. The Yosts made a good living off that place for 32 years. In that time he mostly only needed food supplies and electricity. The milk came from a local farmer and he could slice his own potato fries. His costs were low and all the profits were his annual income.

Then along came the Coca Cola regional sales representative. He convinced Mr. Yost to put in a red and white fountain and sell Cokes in cups with ice. He saw the benefits of this action posted on every billboard from City Limits to City Limits. He needed an ice machine now and some more space. All of these items were gladly provided by that Atlanta, Georgia corporation for a price. A bit of the Yost business revenue left the community. He took out a business loan from his local Savings and Loan, or Farmers and Mechanics Bank and expanded to include other menu items and accommodate the larger volume of weekend traffic that he came to rely upon. Business was good and he made more gross revenues even as the cost of doing business continued to rise and his net annual earnings remained flat.

Then along came the state highway department with a plan to build a town bypass to alleviate the traffic volumes in the town. The townies supported the plan but Mr. Yost was going to get bypassed too. With the inevitability of the construction, Yost used his savings to relocate out beyond the bypass. He now had to sell 60% more product at higher prices just to equal the money he used to make in his old location of 32 years. The land price was far higher than the first place along the old highway. The cost of construction was higher and there were new requirements for safe and hygienic operations. The now old Mr. Yost decided that he had had enough of the soft ice cream/burger and fries business. He put the business up for sale.

Mr. Yost needed to get enough money from the sale to retire on. After all he had sunk his saving into the relocation. The new buyer figured that he would buy the place, hire local kids to run it and have a pretty good investment on which to live. He borrowed the purchase capital from the Big Bank, NA and hired the kids. Now a huge interest principle was paid to a distant bank and that money left the community each month. The "kids" were from a town 20 miles away, because all the local kids were now too old to work for such low wages as this new Entrepreneur was willing to pay. All his supplies were shipped in from distant locations and that purchase money left the community.

Because everyone else was making their annual revenues off of Yost's Ice Cream Stand, the location had to sell 300% more product each year at higher prices than old Mr. Yost had to do in all his years of business. The new owner could not make a living on the location because all those other people and businesses were getting their share of the revenues. This business underwent the natural aging process that is akin to eutrophication.

Towns die when they age in this manner. The wealth creation that used to be present is removed to a distant place and the remaining people send all their income, pensions and savings to those places instead of keeping it local and sustaining their community. When the town was young, the corn came from a field the children walked past to get to school. Their peas and beans did not come in a can. The chicken parts did not arrive frozen from Alabama.

More people worked providing labor to produce things, and supportive occupations like accountant, lawyer, storekeeper, doctor, barber, service station attendant. Many of those people have aged and retired allowing someone else to take the reins. They did not go away. Mostly, they are still in the community collecting Social Security, pensions and annuities. Those funds increase the collective wealth of the community, but all their money leaves the community not to return.

The doctor is part of the health plan in an urban center, miles away, when he used to be the neighbor. Pharmaceuticals come from billion dollar multi-national corporations. Phone service is global with not one person employed to operate the system in any town. The money paid for telecom, internet and television content all leaves the community and ends up in the accounts of huge telecommunication corporations. Hint: TV used to be free.

While this aging process is a natural one, humans are accelerating it. Too many companies are depending on getting a percentage of every dollar of commerce, instead of their people doing something physical to increase the value of what they do. There are too few opportunities for an individual person to provide his labors for compensation that will allow him (her) and family to buy the necessary things of life that are priced by the companies who are getting their share of the dollar. Too much of business and commerce is funded with borrowed capital. This borrowing level makes everything more expensive. Mr. Yost originally could make a good living in half a year at his original location just outside the City Limits, doing much of the work himself. But when the investors and the banking system got involved the whole business when out of balance and ultimately failed. It's not really anyone fault, it's a natural aging process. The problem it we don't have a way to stop it or reverse it, yet.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Why Public Education?

Only a wise and educated person would be against a good public education system in America. This nation is built on substandard education and training. How else would people be incentivized to do jobs that are undesirable, tedious, boring and repetitive? We need poorly educated job applicants to fill those jobs. I have all due respect to people who use entry-level jobs as the stepping stone to a better life and better earnings. They are to be commended. The big problem is who with a college degree or even a high school diploma is going to wipe the bums of the nearly 16 million people with Alzheimer's that are projected by the year 2020?

Someone needs to ring up my groceries at the Food Lion. Someone needs to collect my garbage. Only people with multiple college degrees who can't find a job commensurate with their student debt or people with no GED dips fries at the local franchise. Someone has to do that. We need high school dropouts to be the next generation of low-wage earners who can be exploited for business profits and the Low Price Guarantee.

This also extends to recent immigrants who don't have English proficiency. We need them to keep their native languages so they can be pigeon holed into a service class of low-wage jobs.

So here's how it works. Businesses need low-wage employees to the jobs that make money for the company. Educated workers want more income. Businesses are made to pay taxes that serve to educate the people who do the low-wage jobs. This is counter-productive. The businesses enlist people in the community who don't like taxes on principle and tell them how bad public educations is and that adding money to the budget is good money after bad and a big waste and contributes to Big Government and the paying for unqualified teachers who are sucking on the public teat.

Taxes pay for bad education and tuitions pay for good education. See the difference? People with money will always have a school for their children so they won't have to pluck chickens in an Alabama poultry plant along with 300 Pacific Rim refugees who barely earn minimum wages. But when those refugees do learn English, get a driver's license and a GED in evening classes, it will be difficult to get them into the chicken plant then. Maybe then the nuggets will cost $2.50 or we will import more refugees.

Historically, American wars have been fought by hung-ho boys whose daddy fought in the last war and by the least educated men who could not get out of the draft. America needs minimally educated boys and girls to fill the ranks of cannon fodder. Less education equates to an easier time convincing a person that there is a patriotic duty that can only be met with a rifle and camouflage fatigues. Our national security depends on the least educated among us to stand between our Mothers and those mothers. A few college educated career men and women fill the ranks of officers and high-tech warfare personnel, but the core corps are the composed of the ones who can't do much better.

Religion is best passed from mouth to mouth and assimilated by minds that have precious little else in there for the dogma to conflict with. No Evangelical or Pentecostal needs a wise-acre posing the question," but who did Cain and Able get married to?" Everyone is just supposed to accept that each brother "knew his wife" and she bore children to him. So it is written.

Religion is not taught in public schools. It is during Sunday school that boys and girls are supposed to be indoctrinated in the ways of the Lord. Indoctrination in such heresies as EVOLUTION, climate science, treating everyone with respect as an equal are the evils of SOCIALIST public school indoctrination. The teaching of these heresies form the basis of why public school taxes are hated.

Businesses love religious consumers because they are far more brand-loyal than educated thinking and discriminating minds. "Believe what we say because it is the Truth. There is no other Truth than our truth. See it is written right here in the report that says there is no connection between tobacco and cancer, stroke, emphysema; there is no connection between HFCS and sugar and diabetes, kidney failure or heart disease; there is no relationship between dumping CO2 into the air and the melting polar ice caps and glaciers.

You don't have to understand all that junk science, just listen to us, the corporate word and we will tell you all you need to know. You don't want Big Brother watching what you eat and drink and having Big Government telling you what you can and cannot eat, smoke or drink. That is the job of our Corporate Cartoon Spokes-icon. Without those fonts of contemporary knowledge how would anyone know what or how much to eat? How would a new mother know how to diaper her baby. You wouldn't even be able to figure out how to get to work unless you have a sleek new automobile (with the GPS voice to tell you.)

Education is useless. You have the Googles to tell you everything you need to know. You don't need a big student loan balance when you have unlimited data at $99.99 and 18G wireless speed. Besides, every click on a sponsored link to what you were really looking for is 2 cents that supports the correct content provider that has your answer.

Business has your interests at heart and the interest you will pay. Soda machines in the elementary cafeteria. Power bars for that quick pick-me-up that future employees will need when working the 60th hour in the week.

Business, the religious, corporate and military world already know everything that is important to the world. Liberal college studies only confuse the Freshman and Sophomore minds of the recent high school students who already had the foundations of modern learning burned into their adolescent brains. When you have an opinion and an Internet connection, you have a voice in global affairs. Why waste your time waiting until you have a useless degree from some university like Harvard or Yale. All one has to do is join the Corporate Person Community and your $100 political contribution will be pooled with millions more to shape the outcome of elections to come. Be the Corporate Person.