Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Since when can corporations cast votes?

So I am watching Keith Olberman ranting about the fact that "major news organizations" were too busy reporting on John Edwards' love child" and basically ignored the Supreme Court striking down the McCain-Feingold Campaign Finance Reform legislation by declaring that Corporations are essentially "ENTITIES", and as such as entitled to free speech under the constitution?

I am speechless. I am thoroughly convinced that the U.S. government should be declared legally insane. What do our tax dollars get spent on? One branch of government circumventing the will of another branch of government. And the tax payer once again gets the shaft. We can now count on corporate interests subverting every campaign they can with their dollars.
Perhaps they'll use the money they saved on raising working womens wages to match male workers wages to finance their own campaigns of lies, innuendo and mud slinging.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Rant du Jour - FREE Gifts

About 9 months ago I began receiving US WEEKLY magazine in the mail. Funny, I didn't (and wouldn't) subscribe to that kind of trash. But there it was in my mailbox every week. At first, I tried to get the USPS to send it back saying there must be some kind of mistake. The USPS is not interested in stopping mail that is delivered in error - they are interested in keeping their jobs - so no help from the USPS.
Knowing that US Weekly is the kind of junk that most of my neighbors would enjoy, I started giving it to a neighbor who lives on gossip about celebrity culture. Over time, I got tired of taking it to her mailbox - it isn't like it was a quality gift or something I was giving her, but it did warrant at least a HELLO when our paths crossed.

So, over the months, I simply took to tossing the magazine into the recycling bin. Unread. I mean, who cares about so and so's 6 pack abs? I got stuff to do.
Then, I started receiving bills from US Weekly.

Getting billed for trash made me angry. I began a campaign with email messages. To be fair, I guess there was a response - automated. Still, the trashy rag kept showing up in my mailbox.
I started again with second campaign. Hunting for the magazine's impressum only took most of 10 minutes as it is barely there - buried on the last page, at the bottom of the page, in tiny font, is the legally required impressum. But there isn't any good contact info.... hmmmm.
Online I find that there is a hint that US Weekly may be owned by Rolling Stone Magazine. What a huge letdown. An institution from my contemporaries - and here it is, the owner of celebrity soft porn.

Finally! I get a phone number. I call US WEEKLY. 3 Days later I am no closer to finding out where US Weekly got my name, who started the subscription, etc.
I try again, this time threatening legal action. AHA! Someone with a pulse and connecting synapses on the other end of the phone! And yes, my "subscription" was initiated by...... LIVE NATION TICKETING.
Yes, well I did buy tickets for Michael Franti and Spearhead last January from LiveNation. Those same tickets barely paid the band - most of the charges were taxation/entertainment fees, administration fees, and fees on fees because it seems to be a good idea. As if Live Nation wasn't making enough money as middleman on fees alone - they had to sell my name (or add it to their corporate marketing list).
So, does Rolling Stone own Live Nation? How is Live Nation tied in to US Weekly?
Will I ever buy another fecking concert admission from Live Nation? I think I'd rather pull out my toenails with a tweezer.

BTW, the "subscription" is canceled. At least I won't be subjected to naked torsos and 6 pack abs as I reach for the Hagan Daz and wish that winter was over.

So How Callous am I?

America empties its collective pockets for Haitian earthquake victims. Faster than you can say "Katrina", tens of millions of dollars have been collected to enrich the coffers of corporations such as Pepsi (Aquafina) and Coke (Dansani), those ubiquitous suppliers of bottled water. Never mind the empty bottles, what about the carbon footprint just getting it distributed, whether in Haiti or Honolulu?
A moot point you say in the face of the suffering in Haiti. But, Haitians have been suffering for years; mostly from different forms of exploitation - colonial or governmental (or lack thereof). What have Americans been seeing for all these years if Haiti seems to be a new problem? American Idol hasn't been on all that long....

So, what exactly is my beef other than with CocaColaCorp and PepsiCo? Maybe it has something to do with our ostrich like belief that bottled water can save a nation in distress while we do nothing to conserve the water that we bequeath to the next generations. Perhaps my callousness stems from my belief that rather than the empty promises of the spiritual hereafter, organized religion has done nothing for desperate countries like Haiti, other than with hold birth control and reproductive choice.

Over population is a looming issue with implications that many nations have yet to understand. If times be tough now, imagine how tough they'll get in the future when rich nations find that water is so expensive we hoard it for ourselves alone.

As we viral humans expand to all reaches of the planet, we displace the niche life that has developed in our absence. Ever where humanity walks, nature suffers.

While we extend our generosity toward the stricken of Haiti, how can we assure that population that it can go forward? Do we rebuild their world with the same technologies that have devastated ours? Or do we add insult to injury by delivering on the same empty promises that we make to the next generations?
What hope for Haiti when we can't seem to reach out to our own future?

To answer a question which I don't think is anyone's business; No, I have not donated to Haitian Disaster Relief. But I have donated to International Programs dedicated to conserving wetlands and aquifers. I donate money to conserve land where wild things can thrive - not to build tent cities and support corrupt political systems.

The people of Haiti should project their anger where it is deserved, on their own government, not the international effort to bring them aid. The people of Haiti perhaps have lived on "island time" too long and allowed their regimes to dictate their expectations.
If civil unrest can unseat efforts to assist the dying and sick, why not direct that same anger at the people who allowed a nation to sink into such despair in the first place? If Haiti is to survive and rebuild, it will be through the efforts of Haitians, not relief efforts.

The Universe, playing tricks of Irony

And to think, by the time Scott Brown appeared butt nekkid in Cosmopolitan, I had quit reading it because it had become insipid.
Yesterday, the universe decided to play the ultimate trick of irony on the millions of people who have waited years for better access to health care: a Republican actually took the state of Massachusetts' Senate seat. Kind of goes to show how narrow it is to think that it's always about "location, location, location". Although, even I was a bit surprised at the end to see that Boston isn't a Democratic town anymore. Nope, it won't be business as usual.

It is a blow to many who have waited patiently for regulation, or just access to health care, not to mention so many who will simply 'fall through the cracks' because their situation is not dire enough to 'merit' statistic. America routinely sacrifices its elders on the altars of youth; today, "retirement" is forced before access to Medicare is possible. With unemployment continuing to rise, fewer and fewer Americans will be able to afford health care just when they find they need it most.
If I believed in conspiracy, I'd be adding this one to the list. It all smacks of employers using ageism to oust workers, reducing health care costs, just at a time when the workers' health begins to decline.

And all because the FEW wish to control reproductive issues, keep their portfolios healthy with a still viable investment option, and, don't trust their government enough to submit to a plan instituted by same.

We can raise tens of millions of dollars for relief efforts in Haiti where the local government is all but invisible in the face of the disaster (and have let the people of Haiti down yet again); but we can not accept any change to our own tax status long enough to endow everyone in our own country with access to health care.

America is full of enigmas, not the least of which is its' citizens.

Take Care with What You Wish For ....

To establish my personal belief: every person who does a specific job should be paid the same for their work regardless of gender, race, religion, etc. Equal Pay for Equal Work was a no-brainer, long overdue, and a lay down victory for the Obama administration.
But, could anyone have foreseen the effect that HR 2831 would have on the American workforce during the last 18 months?

In August 2006, it was reported by the Institute for Women's Policy Research (IWPR), that: "Women’s Employment Falls More Than Men’s In Wake of Hurricanes
IWPR Report Finds Deep Segregation in Gulf Coast Labor Market by Sex and Race". While female workers took the hard hits in 2006 (without the benefit of HR 2831), the same can not be said for our current unemployment rate.
The New York Times (NYT) reports that while layoffs surge, women are surpassing men in the workforce.
How very convenient for corporate policy to see that it is easier to fire all the men than it is to raise the women's salaries to that of their male counterparts.

As an old adage goes, be careful what you wish for, you never know how the universe will conspire to bring it all about.

I sincerely hope that American men won't be expected to be compensated in the future as they were in the past. No, their status as workers has now been lowered to the same as women had held exclusively before Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act.
Yes, men and women alike will now earn the same money for the work they do. And the corporations will have found another loophole in which to leap for shareholder profits.
Never mind that without the worker, there are fewer consumers.