Congress as Shareholder

Congress as Shareholder

Yesterday corporate stadiums were attacked. Many people, and many members of Congress, believe that a corporation should not be able to put its name on a stadium if it gets bailout funds. Here’s a short list of athletic fields adorned with corporate names; Petco Park, Energy Solutions Arena, Quiken Loans Arena, Minute Maid Park, Invesco Field, U.S. Cellular Field. Don’t forget the new Citi Field, named to advertise Citibank, the bank that taxpayers have bailed out twice. And the bank is asking again.

In today’s Wall Street Journal we read of an outcry over Northern Trust’s sponsorship of a golf tournament. It “paid millions to sponsor the PGA event.” Is that good advertising? Barney Frank knows. He says it is not. Within hours of the word getting to him, he demanded that, “it return to the federal government all the money it ‘frittered away on these lavish events’.” Maureen Dowd and John Kerry joined the criticism. Northern Trust had received TARP funds to the tune of $1.6 billion. And with the government as shareholder, they begin to act like a shareholder, demanding that “their” money be spent wisely.

When the government demands caps on CEO compensation, they pretend to know how much it takes to keep a decent CEO on the job- if there is such a thing. If they must control CEO pay, what about the other executive officers such as COO and CFO? They get high salaries. What about all those $100,000 middle managers? Should they get paid that much? Now the government will decide. The government will decide on the details of labor contracts, on how much to spend on R&D, and where to spend money advertising. If Barney Frank and Nancy Pelosi have enough clout it will not be with Rupert Murdoch, that unashamed capitalist that owns newspapers such as the Wall Street Journal and FOX TV. Not on Clear Channel Radio’s thousands of radio stations, because it allows Rush Limbaugh to speak. This is the problem with government as the shareholder. It acts like it can run a business.

Business that take the dole, acquiescing to the siren song, will find their other stockholders’ interests shunted. Instead of attempting to make products that consumers want and need, the slave corporations will have to produce things that Congress thinks people should want. Tinny cars, soppy magazine content, politically correct foods, drugs that Congress deems needful. It will be what Nancy likes. That’s what happens when you team up with the government. You get Barney’s New Business. He’s some manager!

I Hardly Know Myself

Here are the lyrics to my original song, I Hardly Know Myself.

For the tune, refer to the video at You Tube here. I’ll post a version on You Tube soon with me singing

it, accompanied by guitar.

I Hardly Know Myself

Many years ago I was weak and sort of dense

My hair stuck out, my eyes were wide and often I felt tense,

I really didn’t need the thing that next afflicted me,

I ran my little car into a solid old oak tree.

My face was scarred, one lung was poked,

It made me short of breath,

I got a lung from some poor soul whose fate was actual death,

I got a new face from a star, (it cost a little more),

But what the heck, I made the choice,…handsome, but poor!

I hardly know myself,

I hardly know myself,

When I look in the mirror, is it really me there?

I hardly know myself.

As time went on I needed more and more to make me whole,

A transplant here, a transplant there, New body- Old soul.

The ligaments and corneas and pancreas are new,

As are the heart, the kidneys, both, and my intestine too.

One hundred fifty people died to make me who I am

I have a chip implanted in my frontal hippocam,

It helps me to remember things that otherwise would fade,

I really do appreciate the electronic aid, But,

I hardly know myself,

I hardly know myself,

When I look in the mirror, is it really me there?

I hardly know myself.

Spare parts and circuitry are not the only things I use,

I have a drug that picks me up and helps me beat the blues,

Some Ritalin prepares me for the tough tests that I take,

It makes me sharp and calms my nerves, My hands now never shake.

Sometimes I miss the “old me” that was born to fade away,

But life is good, I will go on to live another day,

I’m trying to ignore the feeling sticking in my gut,

Between the transplants, drugs and chips I’m stronger, smarter, but…

I hardly know myself,

I hardly know myself,

When I look in the mirror, is it really me there?

I hardly know myself.

Returning the Stimulus Check: Independent Americans

This video shows an elderly couple refusing, even returning, the federal stimulus check last summer.

That’s independence! That’s self-reliance.

How to Read a Paystub

How to read a paystub.

The employee earned $853.91 over two weeks.

Federal Witholding was $36.00. Another term for this is Federal income tax.

State Withholding was $28.00. Another term for this is Montana State income tax.

Social Security Employee was $52.94. This is money that goes to retired people. Many retirees are better off than this employee. (I, the employer, had to write a check for $52.94 and send both halves to the Treasury, $105.88.)

Medicare Employee was $12.39. This money buys health insurance for retirees, many of whom are wealthy. Retirees have better health care insurance, Medicare, than many of the workers who are paying the Medicare taxes. (I, the employer, had to write a check for $12.39 and send both halves to the Treasury, $24.78.)

Together, Social Security and Medicare deductions, in this case $65.33 total, are called the employee’s “Payroll Taxes.” If you are self-employed, say as a house painter or weekend mechanic, you have to pay both halves of the Payroll Tax.

Full size paystub

Full size paystub

Where do Federal Income taxes get spent? Of the $36.00:

Defense:                                       $12.96

Income Security, (Welfare, not Social Security):                        $9.36

Interest:                                    $5.30

Other:                                          $5.04

Education                                   $1.80

Environment                             $.61

International affairs:              $.61

(Spending by the State of Montana is not shown here.)

This is where the money goes. Is it worth it? Only the taxpayer can say.

Cheaper Than Thoreau

Thoreau Cabin. This file is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 2.0 License

Thoreau Cabin. This file is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 2.0 License

Our Parents Were Cheaper Than Thoreau!

Henry David Thoreau boasted of having lived simply. He built his cabin for $28.12. But our parents beat him. They built their house, the one they are moving back into this summer, in 1957 for $5,000 in materials. In 1957, average hourly wages were 65 times as great as in 1850, so we can say the cost of materials and the value of the dollar was in the same proportion. Sixty-five times Thoreau’s $28.12 is $1,827.80. But Dad and Mother housed five people, not just one. So they would have had to spend more than $9,135, ($1,827.80×5), to have outspent Thoreau. He was a profligate!

“I have thus a tight shingled and plastered house, ten feet wide by fifteen long, and eight-feet posts, with a garret and a closet, a large window on each side, two trap doors, one door at the end, and a brick fireplace opposite. The exact cost of my house, paying the usual price for such materials as I used, but not counting the work, all of which was done by myself, was as follows; and I give the details because very few are able to tell exactly what their houses cost, and fewer still, if any, the separate cost of the various materials which compose them:– “

Boards........................... $8.03 1/2 mostly shantly boards.
Refuse shingles for roof
and sides, ..................... 4.00
Laths, ........................... 1.25
Two second-hand windows
with glass, .................... 2.43
One thousand old brick, .......... 4.00
Two casks of lime, ............... 2.40  That was high.
Hair, ............................ 0.31  More than I needed.
Mantle-tree iron, ................ 0.15
Nails, ........................... 3.90
Hinges and screws, ............... 0.14
Latch, ........................... 0.10
Chalk, ........................... 0.01
Transportation, .................. 1.40  I carried a good part on my back.

Still, they disallowed us getting free school lunch.

Coming up This Week

Scheduled posts:

(Something worthwhile every day!)

Cheaper Than Thoreau

100% Pure Computer Button

You Tube video of me singing an original song, “I Hardly Know Myself”, satirizing biotechnology.

Chairman Mao’s Cat. A children’s book.

Can Pet Owners Be Environmentalists?

Cost Per Flush in Yellowstone

Government on ‘Roids

Send Money: I’m “Shovel Ready”

Sneaking the Ten Commandments into the Schools

West Yellowstone to Bozeman and Back

Interview with Mary Vaessen, West Yellowstone Foundation, 406-640-2030

Feb 20, 2009

Bus runs from West Yellowstone to Bozeman two days per week, Tu and Th.

Leaves WY at 8:00 a.m. returns to West Yellowstone at 4:00 p.m.

(This requires the driver to wait around Bozeman the full day or ferry riders to different locations in Bozeman. How does he adjudicate who gets to go to their desired location first and whose convenience is most honored?)

She works for the West Yellowstone Foundation.

She didn’t know what the tax funding sources were.

She files reports to the Montana Department of Transportation, Adam.

She didn’t know what the costs were.

My estimate of costs:

250 miles. $3.25 per mile. $812.50 per round trip.

Riders, usually 14, pay $10.00 round trip or $140.

There is no means test; rich and poor riders pay the same, though

Mary said most were low-income.

For riders to pay the full cost, they would have to pay $58.04 each,

round trip.

Taxpayers pay $672.50 per round trip.

Two round trips per week, 104 per year.

Taxpayers pay $69,940 per year.

Benefits of the Downturn

Is it my imagination, or are we getting fewer credit card solicitations in the mail? In one recent year, 2.9 billion of them were sent out in the U.S. That’s 15 per year, per adult. If the recession is causing this, glory be!

We may see a decline in obesity. People may eat less prepared food. They’ll work more hours and watch less TV. They will patronize the buffets less.

Crusade Against Words

Most of us have shed the use of the word “like”. That is SO “Valley Girl”. But it lingers. I find myself slipping, using “like” as a filler word from time to time. Why should I? I don’t eat styrofoam peanuts.

The next word to die is “just”. It litters everything.

Evangelists pray that  God will “Just look down upon us and just bless us with Thy grace. We just feel so weak before Thee”.

The author of a book on graphic design, “The Non-designer’s Design Book” succumbs, strewing “just” lazily into her copy.

Even the much admired columnists of the Wall STree Journal Daniel Henninger, (Feb. 19 “Just politics as usual”), and Paul Ingrassia, (Feb. 19 “And that’s just the conclusion that President Barak Obama’s new automotive task force should reach.”), should repent. Surely there are other, tauter phrasings.

As for me, I’m trying to catch every use and work a way around this pummeled word. Join me.

Recycling is a Waste

Can recycling harm the environment?

· Gallatin County recycling. Waste $110,000 per year.

· City of Bozeman recycling. Waste: $230,000 per year .

These amounts are how much the city and county recycling programs lose annually. Financial losses are also environmental harms.If these monies were not wasted on recycling that doesn’t work, they could be put to better uses. What might some of those be?

Buying habitat

De-littering rivers

Investing in better scrubbing technologies for smokestacks

Botanical cataloging, research


Teaching children Shakespeare or long addition

Teaching children virtue and morality

There are lots of potential uses. The main point is that if you spend money driving around town in an expensive truck, picking up paper that no one wants, or can turn into anything useful, you are wasting money, and taking money from some more worthy purpose, even some more worthy environmental purpose.

Recycling that loses money is wasteful.