The Occasional Tendown April 14 2013

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Dear Internet...

You know who didn't believe in any of that nonsense?  Roger Ebert.

That's the soft version of that sentence.

You know who understood all of that was nonsense?  Roger Ebert.

That more accurately reflects the evidence.

My facebook feed got hit with the "Siskel and Ebert are in heaven reviewing the new Vince Vaughn movie" posts pretty hard.  I had a hard time looking at them, not just because it was in disagreement with Ebert's understanding of existence, a Christian appropriation of him in death that it could not have accomplished in life (sort of like Mormons baptizing dead Jews), but because I was genuinely embarrassed for the adults expressing this thought.  Roger Ebert isn't really dead - he's on a farm upstate!

I hate thinking about death; hate that the reality of my existence and of the people I love is that it ends, no different than a pig or a chicken.  If there were an escape hatch that I could take to avoid that truth, I'd take it.  I don't know how eager I'd be to bow down to my master and admit I'm nothing and all of those other pretty nakedly obvious methods of social control that facilitate the domination of the many by the few - but if the tradeoff was a bottomless bucket of eternal popcorn, you know, that's a hard deal to turn down.

But its nonsense.  Ebert's dead.  Siskel's dead.  I will be too one day.  Sucks.

Tendown 154 is here. This is Tendown 155.

1. Moyers

The United States collects less in taxes as a share of its economy than all but two other industrialized countries. Only Chile and Mexico collect less. Chile and Mexico. Right now a powerful group of CEO's, multi-millionaires and billionaires are calling on Congress to fix the debt. And their enablers in both parties are glad to oblige. Okay. But why not fix the debt by raising more taxes from those who can afford to pay? Close the loopholes. Shut down the tax havens. Cancel the Mitt Romney Clause Congress enacted, allowing big winners to pay a tax rate far less than their chauffeurs, nannies, and gardeners.
Instead, as we speak, our political class in Washington is attempting to fix the debt by sequestration – Washington doublespeak for bleeding services for veterans and the elderly, the sick and poor, for kids in Head Start.
Marching in lockstep beneath a banner that now stands for “Guardians of Privilege” -- GOP -- Republicans refuse to raise revenues, while Democrats have a president whose new budget contains gimmicks that could lead to cuts in Social Security. Social Security! The one universal safety net -- and a modest one at that – and yet the main source of purchasing power for millions of aging Americans.

2. Economic Inequality Contributing to Gap in Life Expectancy

Remember that the next time you hear about raising the retirement age.

3. We're a Plutocracy.
Rule by the Rich.

The United States today qualifies as a plutocracy – on a number of grounds.  Let’s look at some striking bits of evidence. Gross income redistribution upwards in the hierarchy has been a feature of American society for the past decades. The familiar statistics tell us that nearly 80% of the national wealth generated since 1973 has gone to the upper 2%, 65% to the upper 1 per cent. Estimates as to the rise in real income for salaried workers over the past 40 years range from 20% to 28 %. In that period, real GDP has risen by 110% – it has more than doubled.  To put it somewhat differently, according to the Congressional Budget Office,  the top earning 1 percent of households gained about 8X more than those in the 60 percentile after federal taxes and income transfers over a period between 1979 and 2007; 10X those in lower percentiles.  In short, the overwhelming fraction of all the wealth created over two generations has gone to those at the very top of the income pyramid.  That pattern has been markedly accelerated since the financial crisis hit in 2008. Between 2000 and 1012, the real net worth of 90% of Americans has declined by 25%.

4. CEO Pay

5. Don't Listen to Meryl Streep - Thatcher Was Awful
Trained the Khmer Rouge.  Called Mandela a terrorist.

Margaret Thatcher was a zealot, a friend to the worst mass murderers of the 1980s, a force for antisocial cruelty, and her violent means of ending the great British experiment in social democracy made the country a more brutal, less equal county. One of the most telling, and disturbing, of Thatcher’s catchphrases was “there is no alternative,” which was always invoked specifically to close off the possibility of considering the many extant alternatives to her top-down class warfare. At this point, the alternatives that might’ve produced a more equitable future are indeed long since gone, and the future — for England’s indebted, jobless youth and people the world over ground down by her philosophical comrades — looks about as grim as those horrid 1970s must’ve looked to the people who originally voted Thatcher into office. The world is better off without her, and it would’ve been much better off had she never existed in the first place.

6. Every Drop of Juice.
Your company is squeezing you for all you have.

The relentless drive for efficiency at U.S. companies has created a new harshness in the workplace. In their zeal to make sure that not a minute of time is wasted, companies are imposing rigorous performance quotas, forcing many people to put in extra hours, paid or not. Video cameras and software keep tabs on worker performance, tracking their computer keystrokes and the time spent on each customer service call.
Employers once wanted long-term relationships with their workers. At many companies, that's no longer the case. Businesses are asking employees to work harder without providing the kinds of rewards, financial and psychological, that were once routine. Employers figure that if some people quit, there are plenty of others looking for jobs.
“Wages are stagnant, jobs are less secure, work is more intense — it's a much tougher world,” said Paul Osterman, co-director of the MIT Sloan Institute for Work and Employment Research. “Employers have become much more aggressive about restructuring work in ways that push for higher levels of productivity.”

7. How Much Did Halliburton Make From the Iraq War?
Try 40 Billion Dollars.

8. The Best News From the First Two Weeks of the Baseball Season

Well, the best news is the Giants are in first place and the Dodgers are going to miss their second best pitcher for the next two months.

But the second best news comes from the broadcast booth.

And the best piece of schadenfreude comes courtesy of anti-PED moralist and libertarian Curt Schilling, who probably should go to jail.

9. I Watch 4 Star Wrestling Matches
8 of them over the past two weeks.

Tanahashi v. Okada 4 1/4 NJPW
Devitt v. Shelley 4 1/4 NJPW
Nakamura v. Smith 4 NJPW
Lethal v. Elgin 4 ROH
Lesnar v. HHH 4 WWE
Undertaker v. Punk 4 WWE
American Wolves v. Fish/O'Reilly 4 ROH
Bret Hart v. Steve Austin, Sept 1996 WWF

And here's Grantland discussing John Cena's "go away" heat.

10. Ebert's Goodbye.
Thanks, Roger.

That's all for this time.  I'll be back next time, if there is a next time...

Your pal,


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