July 9, 2012

Fox News Indoctro TV


October 15, 2011

Yes We Cain?


September 2, 2011

The Self-Delusions of the Wealthy: Are They Really Worth What They’re Paid?

“If the wealthy had to work as hard as the janitor, they’d demand enough money to hire someone else to do the job.”
– Richard Sherricky

As summer slides into fall, if not the financial fall that’s eventual, some things haven’t changed, such as the investment bank aristocracy of Wall Street, already wallowing in obscenely large salaries, apparently believing they actually earn their pay for continuing to peddle worthless paper and hoodwinking their own customers. This addled belief, however, is nothing new.

Having misspent a part of my youth as an advertising executive at a publishing company, I once had an opportunity to encounter wealthy people at business lunches and social functions, and noticed a few habits of hypocritical thinking most of them had in common:

– To a man — and they were all men back then — they believed, even the silver-spoon trust fund scions and coddled bosses sons, that they were ‘self-made’ and everything they had was attained by their own hard work, even if their wealth was derived from dividend income, the result of a long-dead relative fortunately picking the right investments or starting a successful business.

– Speaking of hard work, when these CEOs and corporate presidents drifted in at 10 or 11 in the morning to check the mail and sign a few letters, left for a two-hour lunch at 12:30, and then went golfing for the rest of the afternoon, leaving their overworked and underpaid secretaries to run the place, they would still insist that they had ‘worked hard’ all day. The trust fund scoundrels were even worse; they’d sit in a quiet bar in the afternoon hunched over a drink, or lounge at home in their bathrobe, and their ‘work’ for the day consisted of a few calls to the office to see if everything was all right. As usual, a secretary or senior manager was running the company.

– Whatever their educational institution, Ivy League or state university, they all thought they graduated because they ‘studied hard’ and ‘put their noses to the grindstone’ even though some would laughingly brag, after a few too many cocktails, about how they had hired poor ‘scholarship brainiacs’ or ‘eggheads’ to teach them how to cheat on their tests.

– While most of them abhorred any publicly-funded program that enabled poor kids to get a better education, and especially affirmative action, they were blind to their own advantages, beyond just being born white. If Uncle Joe picked up the phone to make sure they got into the ‘right’ college, or Daddy was once a student and fast-tracked their ‘legacy’ acceptance into a good university, that was fine — just the way the world worked. Of course, left unsaid was how they would have been able to make their way through college if such financially-strapped ‘scholarship brainiacs’ were not there to help them cheat, just one of many mental cul-de-sacs that these sons of privilege passed by quickly, lest they get caught on their own conundrum.

– Although most of them supported the war in Vietnam, none of them came close to serving in it. They either received school draft deferments like Dick Cheney; or, like Rush Limbaugh, had a note from the family doctor describing some dread condition that made them militarily unfit, but somehow didn’t interfere with their golf game. Others had a family-friend Congressman intervene to keep them out; or, like Junior Bush, had the Old Man pull a few strings to get them ‘Weekend Warrior’ duty in the National Guard. Privately, they had little regard or compassion for the troops in the field; in fact, they believed them stupid and that the grunts should show gratitude for the opportunity that military service provided to raise their lowly selves out of the ghetto or trailer park. Should they die or be maimed for life during this process of elevation – well, that’s just the price they pay for not having the foresight to be born in better circumstances.

– Most of them hated paying taxes, the hatred much more intense than that of those lower on the income ladder. Like Leona Helmsley, they thought taxes were fine — for the ‘little people.’ A couple of them were even said to spend more money on lawyers and accountants to avoid paying taxes than the amount they owed in taxes. But they didn’t mind one bit freeloading off poorer folks by using roads, highways, airports, parks, sewer lines and other public facilities partly paid for by the taxes of the non-rich; and they took it for granted their class would receive preferential treatment from cops and firefighters they didn’t want to pay taxes to support. I won’t even get into the courts, prosecutors, and military all arrayed to protect their property that they also didn’t want to pay to uphold — suffice it to say that they didn’t believe in any taxes for themselves, even for those things that benefited them greatly. It would be a mistake to take this as any sort of reasonable consideration on the subject of taxation; it was not – it was a nearly-hysterical emotional reaction born of mindless greed or sheer obtuseness.

Because of my position at the time, I couldn’t easily debunk or refute their various delusions and fits of psychological zoanthropy; to do so might affect my company and my employment there and, frankly, I needed the job. While I would pose a mild question or two — nothing too challenging or confrontational — I mainly just listened to their hallucinations. Two of the great common myths of American culture are that you can’t be too rich or too thin. Anyone who has seen a person dying of anorexia knows the first is false, and anyone who has encountered the wealthy as I did knows that an excess of money can be just as harmful to a healthy mind as eating nothing but candy is to the body. One thought, unexpressed, went through my mind repeatedly as I listened and watched these well-heeled business acquaintances go through the motions: what exactly do these people do that is worth so much money? One-thousand dollars an hour or more for calling into the office or letting your secretary handle things? Doling out a few million to someone who cured cancer would seem appropriate; but paying that to a man who rarely worked and took months off for vacation while begrudging his employees a slight raise and a couple of weeks off for a holiday? It was outrageous and the situation has worsened in the decades since these events happened. Then, top executives received about 50 times more than the average worker; today, it’s about 700 times. Yet, are they working any harder than the top execs of the mid-70s? I’d bet Lloyd Blankfein’s yearly salary of $55 million they aren’t.

(Incidentally, I’m exempting here those who really did start their own businesses from scratch with next to nothing. They worked hard getting the place running and deserve to be paid for their effort if they succeed. That said, I don’t know if that effort is worth billions, but that’s a question for another time. Also, I’m not taking a swipe at artists, entertainers or sports stars; most of them also worked hard to get where they are, generally have brief professional lives, and merit compensation for their talents since it’s usually based on public approval rather than a board of directors stocked with your cronies.)

Until executive compensation is brought into line with actual worthwhile work done, and the wealthy have to pay their fair share of taxes, including payroll taxes and capital gains taxes commensurate with what the average worker pays, I don’t think we can resolve our current economic mess.

That aside, the thread running through all of this is the massive degree of self-delusion practiced by those with wealth. It’s scary enough when they know they’re lying to make a buck; it’s pathologically dangerous when they buy into their own fantasies about themselves as have, it seems, the current crop of Wall Street bunco artists and banking grifters. In this case, it won’t end until Richie Rich, ensconced in an office at Goldman Sachs, dreaming up the next fraudulent financial instrument for his firm to foist on the gullible markets, hits bottom – an inevitability since they refuse to learn from their mistakes — and seeks another ‘loan’ from the contemptible ‘little people’ who pay taxes via the federal Big Daddy and, to mix metaphors, the cupboard is bare.

Then these Masters of the Universe will learn the tough lesson the cosseted Junior Bush as president had to endure: there are times when even Big Daddy can’t save you from the hard consequences of acting like a spoiled brat with too much for your own good.

© 2011 RS Janes.

August 21, 2011

Rick Perry in Outer Space


April 14, 2011

The Facts of the Leisure Class


“All business sagacity reduces itself in the last analysis to judicious use of sabotage.”
– Thorstein Veblen, author of “The Theory of the Leisure Class.”

March 12, 2011

The Tattlesnake – Defending Charlie Sheen Edition

Is it crazy to stand up to corporations and media parasites that are trying to tell you how to live your life?

Charlie Sheen’s gotten a bum rap from the media lately because he refused to play the corporate and tabloid-TV game: the Shamed Celebrity is supposed to enter rehab and emerge contrite and chastened and just so gleefully grateful his corporate employer stuck by him during his time of need. Instead, Sheen called CBS and his producers on their ‘we care’ bullshit, and told the media hypocrites that parasitically cover celebrities to stuff it where the moon don’t shine. Here’s a news flash you won’t see on the MSM: When celebs enter rehab, it’s mainly for PR, career, or project-insurance purposes and there is no shortage of drugs and alcohol at any of the well-known rehab ranches that cater to the famous. What are they going to do, kick them out and lose all of that money? No, they turn a blind eye and cooperate in the fraud that the celebrity is ‘cured,’ and everybody goes home happy. Charlie Sheen just refused to indulge in this fetid game and, for that, he should be applauded.

Is he crazy? Maybe, but no more than most of us, and he’s not advising that we hurt or hate anyone. If you read his quotes below, he often makes considerable sense and he frequently lampoons himself, which the TMZ-style media are apparently too obtuse to recognize. He’s certainly more honest and lucid than the demented wolfpack of politicians and pundits that appear on Meet the Press every Sunday and are treated as sane and reasonable.

If a Hunter S. Thompson had given Charlie’s recent interviews, some of the same people pointing the ‘nutjob drug addict’ finger at Charlie Sheen and ‘tsk, tsk’ self-righteously shaking their heads over his sure demise, would be laughing with or praising him. But because he’s known as a film/TV actor, and many of them don’t want to offend Viacom/CBS for professional reasons, they toe the corporate line that Sheen is spinning out of control and needs help. Haven’t we learned by now that large corporations do not have compassionate souls that take pity on their employees, and neither do the heads of Hollywood production companies? It’s all about the money.

Aside from that, when did Charlie Sheen’s personal life become the concern of anyone but himself and those around him? How would you like your personal problems exaggerated and splashed all over the TV beast and the Internet?

As you read the poem below, pretend they are the words of a beat poet rather than a movie star. It might give you a whole different perspective; “Droopy-eyed armless children” by itself is a line worthy of a Jack Kerouac novel or Allen Ginsberg epic.


The words of Charlie Sheen edited into poetry

I so desperately wanted to be
Mr. Somebody.
Instead, I was the little brother…
As kids we’re not taught how to deal
with success; we’re taught how to
deal with failure.
If at first you don’t succeed,
try, try again.
If at first you succeed,
then what?
C’mon, bro, I won best picture at 20!
I wasn’t even trying.
I wasn’t even warm.

Fame is empowering.
My mistake was that I thought
I would instinctively know
how to handle it.
But there’s no manual,
no training course.
The run I was on made Sinatra,
Flynn, Jagger, Richards,
all of them look like
droopy-eyed armless children!
Sure, I did a lot of things in excess.
But if you look at the core,
the foundation of what I pursued,
what red-blooded young American
male in my position wouldn’t?
But you can’t focus on things
that matter if all you’ve been
is asleep for forty years.
Funny how sleep
rhymes with sheep.


February 22, 2011

Crapitalism Rules?


February 19, 2011

Hard-Working Americans Are ‘Bottom-Feeders’ and ‘Freeloaders’ to the Elitist Limbaugh


January 21, 2011

Miracles of Modern Crapitalism!


November 30, 2009

FOXhole Tales — Business Ethics


November 17, 2009

The Tattlesnake – Palin: the GOPs Political Poison Pill Edition

“Her agenda was not necessarily to show me in the best light.”
– Sarah Palin to Oprah Winfrey, complaining about Katie Couric’s 2008 interview that revealed her to be an uninformed pageant sash, as quoted at NBC’s Today Show website, Nov. 16, 2009.

As this quote shows, Sarah Palin still has no idea what the role of the news media is in a Jeffersonian democracy, apparently believing that reporters should have the ‘agenda’ of lobbing affable Wiffle balls that make her look good rather than exposing a candidate’s fitness for office. That she was so vexed by Couric’s mild inquiries – asking her what she reads, for instance, becoming in Palin’s mind a ‘gotcha’ question without parallel – and then whining to Oprah that she had just been ‘pumped up’ by walking a rope line of enthusiastic followers only to encounter the bummerooski of Katie the ‘Perky One’ with microphone and camera ready to pounce on her with school-test interrogations suited to a spiteful teacher – well, it was just too much to bear!

This, then, is the Beauty Pageant Contestant (BPC) view of the world; you memorize certain attractive-sounding answers, such as advocating world peace or groceries for the hungry, and it’s not fair of the judges to delve into what particular set of policies you would promote to achieve those goals. Isn’t it enough that you have shown yourself to be a really good caring ‘people person’ by just desiring such cures for the world’s ills?

In the same way, Palin thought it was sufficient that she merely presented herself as informed on a daily basis by newspapers and magazines without actually having to bother to learn some by name or talk knowledgeably about their contents. Isn’t it enough that she said she reads all that intellectual stuff, for Pete’s sake? Hey, Real America doesn’t care – they’re too busy shooting wolves from circling Cessnas.

She showed a similar BPC understanding of the law in the campaign of 2008 when she failed to come up with any Supreme Court decision other than Roe v. Wade that entered her memory – but, then, come on — a real leader can always call on her staff to review such inane details for her, as befits a princess with a yen for higher office, such as Ms. Vice President of America.

As for calling Couric ‘The Perky One’ – the giddy Sarah often gives irony a hernia from too much stress, but this was an entry worthy of an Olympic record.

The late Kurt Vonnegut would have heartily appreciated the alternately peevishly snippy and wholesome Hockey-Mom vacuity of Sarah Palin. The Tattler can picture him with his kindly grin, the world-weary eyes twinkling in satirical amusement, a Pall Mall with a droopy ash poised in mid-air, observing one of his more incongruous characters come to life and dominating the American political landscape – always slightly absurd, now keeled over into open farce — promulgated by a national news media that is no longer paid to tell the difference.

For incongruity is the Barracuda’s calling card – she supports the infallible efficacy of sexual abstinence for teens while her own 16-year-old daughter swells in unwed pregnancy; she bleats about clean government while papering over her own administration’s manifold corruptions; she assaults small-minded cruelty while delivering velvet-gloved blows to those who dare criticize her; she talks of lofty Christian ideals while she’s perpetually immersed in petty paybacks; she decries government bailouts while the citizens of her home state accept nearly twice as much in federal money than they pay in taxes; she insinuates darkly of the evils of socialism and nationalization while Alaska annually divides its energy wealth equally among its inhabitants; she natters on about responsibility while refusing to own up to her own mistakes; she deplores politicians abusing their power while she used her office to settle personal scores; she hails freedom while sentencing other members of her gender to do without it; she supports the troops while wanting to prolong their agony in lost wars; she respects tough people who stay in the race, and then quits halfway through her stint as Alaska’s governor when either her ambition or her malfeasance, or both, catch up with her. Most of all, she admires honesty while practicing its opposite, either the result of intentional deception or the BPC’s natural tendency to slap sweet frosting on the ugly realities of human existence, especially when those realities are embedded in one’s own character.


October 13, 2009

America’s Health Care Nightmare


September 28, 2009

Companies Love Health Care Misery


September 17, 2009

Tales From the FOXholes, Part Three


September 9, 2009

The Tattlesnake – Obama Must Stand Up, Van Goes Down, and Comedy King Beck Edition

“If you tell the same story five times, it’s true.”
– Larry Speakes, Ronald Reagan’s White House Press Secretary.

It’s a Given: President Obama must strongly stick up for a public option in his health care speech tonight or the game’s over. The Dems will lose big in 2010, maybe even a majority in the Senate, while Obama himself will be marginalized by the right, abandoned by his progressive base, and become a one-term president, battered into a cartoonish wimp by right-wing lies and smears. We’re begging you BHO – bring out your inner FDR; boil the corporate moonshiners in some salty Truman oil. Even if you don’t manage to pass a health care reform bill, at least stand up for yourself and those who supported you!

Camp Whiggy-Watchee: Howsomever, knees are knocking at Republican HQ these days at the idea that the GOP will be heading into the 2010 election without a solid trusted leader of the party and dragging the chock-full-o-nuts baggage of the screwy-squirrel teabaggers with them. While the shouters and doubters are good public theater for astroturf airtime to dilute health care reform, independent and MOR voters – most of us, in other words – are put off by these nattering ninnies yelling ‘Nazi’ at anybody who dares disagree with them. The TV shots of men armed with rifles and handguns at the various ‘protests’ didn’t help improve the GOP image of maturity and stability either. (White Ex-Republican Soccer Mom: “How can you trust Republicans when they cater to people like that?”) Outside of Old Dixie, how do you get Congress-Creatures and other GOP detritus elected without the moderates tossing in some votes? The Repos, to their distress, are about to find out the answer – you can’t, at least not without the help of quivering Democrats.

(Speaking of Teabaggers, Here’s Some Free Advice: Dip yourselves in boiling water for ten minutes, then add sugar or lemon to taste.)

Bell Curve to Hell-Care Reform: The Dems will also feel the pain in 2010 if they don’t smarten up their act on health care reform. The unions, as well as many progressive groups, have already said ‘nada’ to putting the ‘GO’ in GOTV in the next election, if a public option isn’t in the final bill. Some (alleged) Dems central to the health care issue – Max Baucus, Harry Reid and their mealy-mouthed, corporate cash compadres – may also feel the heat from the left as real progressives challenge their nominations. Sure, they might still win, but it would cost them a bundle and leave a residue of ill-will, making them easy pickings for the GOP. If somebody like a Gov. Brian Schweitzer challenged Baucus for the Dem nomination, I think Montana primary voters would dump Max in a mixed-cliche New York heartbeat.


August 10, 2009

The ‘Dick Armey’ on the March!


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