Member since: Sat Jan 5, 2008, 07:45 PM
Number of posts: 41,251
Number of posts: 41,251
No lesser of two evils.
Two dramatically counter visions of America.
This is all out political war.
Will the most powerful government in the world be turned over lock, stock and barrel to an elite group of extremely rich manipulators that have corrupted capitalism and now want to undermine the basic foundations of the modern developed state simply so a privledged few can start adding zeroes to a largess that they will never be able to consume in a hundred lifetimes,
Does the government provide basic services, health, education, safety net and leadership for all its citizens so that the maximum level of opportunity can be spread to the maximum number of citizens.
The differences are wider than the gap of the Grand Canyon.
Any liberal or leftwing Democrat or independent that is not 100% behind the reelection of President Obama is the best friend of the most reactionary national ticket to have run for the Presidency in a hundred years. From today on there is nothing lower than a Naderite (or Stein-ites) in the 2012 election.
Posted by grantcart | Sat Aug 11, 2012, 08:31 AM (19 replies)
Last week, John Schnatter, the founder and CEO of Papa John's Pizza, announced that the Affordable Care Act will raise the cost of his pizza 11 to 14 cents each, or 15 to 20 cents per order.
In 1988 I cashed in my retirement account and started a factory making leather furniture in Thailand and within 2 years we had grown the company to 450 employees and dominated the discount leather furniture market in Europe, replacing cheap discount production in Italy with better quality and lower priced product. IKEA was our largest, but not only customer and Ingmar Komprad came to visit our factory. We had Thai and Japanese shareholders, shipped more than $ 10 million a year, paid our workers 30% more than the market and had zero turnover. A few years later they took down the Berlin Wall and IKEA took our model to Poland where the inflated post liberation currency made labor virtually free and they could ship directly to their European stores, saving a 20% warehousing fee. We had signed personal guarantees on our loans we lost everything, house, retirement account. But I really enjoyed it, everyday was a different problem solving exercise.
I did learn however to look at markets like a CEO and I am continually shocked how idiotic statements by American CEOs are allowed to stand. Now I am not talking how their are idiotic from a public policy or morals point of view, as this one is, but how they are idiotic from a CEO point of view. I keep waiting for somebody with some business background to make the points in the national media but they never do.
Putting aside all morale, ethical, human issues regarding the wisdom of adding of dimes to a pizza so that the employees can have access to a doctor there are numerous reasons why they are just plain stupid from a CEO's point of view.
1. Marginal increase in costs are completely irrelevant.
The only thing that is relevant is are you going to get a cost disadvantage versus all of your competitors. Is Papa John's going to have to pay an additional 20 cents a pizza that other pizza makers are not going to have to pay? Of course not. So where's the harm? To think of it another way the direct cost of gasoline that goes up because say "President Romney attacks Iran and with 1/3 of the oil going through the Persian Gulf gas prices would go to $ 6.00" would have a much greater multiplier effect on Papa John's per pizza cost because not only would his raw material costs, direct energy costs and delivery costs would go up much much more than the lousy 20 cents he has mentioned. But Schnatter doesn't really care about this because he knows that if those costs go up for him then they will also go up for all of the other Pizza makers.
For this reason marginal increase in costs are completely irrelevant if they are applied to all the manufacturers equally, there is no competitive advantage or disadvantage, they are irrelevant to the manufacturer's position in the market place.
2. It eliminates one of his major benefit nightmares
Now Papa John's doesn't have to fight it out in the benefit wars where a competing company poaches his workers by offering better benefits. Working as a management consultant my first task was to ask the CEO what his major problems were. They were never the real problems but you had to let the guy ventilate. Sometimes they would say "unions" and this was never the case. Most of the time they were in prevailing wage bids so that the union rate had to be paid whether they were union or not. I would ask "since you are costing and paying on prevailing wage set by they government and your union now becomes responsible for discipline (if you had a problem with a particular worker he could simply notify the shop steward and they would send that pipe fitter back to the shop and get another one) where is the disadvantage? None.
By having a universally defined benefit Papa John's is spared the headache of trying to compete in the market place trying to convince workers that his companies health benefits are competitive with another company, they are now all going to be more or less equal.
3. It puts more disposable income into his customers pockets
What is Papa John's major problem? Disposable income in his customary base is declining. The Affordable Health Care Act will mean that when the working Mom has to go to the doctor and get breast examination or a new prescription her monthly budget isn't going to be wiped out. Now when she is on her way home from the doctor and doesn't have enough time to make dinner, she can order a pizza rather than feeding the kids breakfast cereal.
There is a famous story about how Ford increased his daily labor pay to $ 15 per day even though he had plenty of workers willing to work for half of that. He wasn't being generous, he needed them to be able to make enough money to buy a car.
I predict that eventually the management of Walmart will become big advocates for increasing minimum wages. They are coming quickly to the point where there are not that many quality locations to build new stores. They are trying to expand the range of quality products and services that they provide to get in more customers. But as the disposable income of the middle and lower class continues to disintegrate they will see (and I believe that they are already seeing) that the per trip ticket for their customers start to decline. In the stock market they are competing against other companies for investment and they are required to find ways to increase profits. For their domestic market they are fast approaching the point where the only way that they can increase profit is to increase the per ticket total of their customers buying and that can only happen if the minimum and working wages at the bottom increase.
4. Communicating a negative message to your employees
In addition to all of the above is the callous, heartless point that John Schnatter is communicating to his employees. He is saying I will not provide and I do not care if you have access to medical services and he is putting his lack of care with a price tag, 20 cents a pizza. Businesses can only be successful on the long term if a) their suppliers win b) their employees win and c) their customers win. If any of those three are threatened then the long term viability of the business is uncertain. Papa John's has now communicated to all of their employees that they are nothing more than cannon fodder and are completely disposable. This puts Papa John's at a competitive disadvantage in hiring and attracting the best workers, or keeping morale up. And he created this disadvantage without gaining any comparative bottom line advantage. It doesn't help your bottom line to alienate your employees, especially when you do it without actually increasing your bottom line performance, it is an unforced error.
Of course there is the whole moral, ethical and public policy point of view as well. But looking at it strictly from a business point of view Schnatter's comments rise to the level of a junior high school business class. If I was a major shareholder in Papa John's I would be worried about how competent a CEO was managing my investment.
The fact that the media simply passes on statements like this without challenging them simply shows again that they are becoming less and less professional with each election cycle and are completely intimidated by business people no matter how senseless their comments are.
Posted by grantcart | Fri Aug 10, 2012, 06:38 AM (66 replies)
That is why Somalia, without a functioning government, is such a rich country
And why Switzerland, that has more regulations per citizen than any country on earth, is so poor;
The country of Switzerland spends over 11 percent of its Gross Domestic Product on universal health coverage for its citizens. This is a very high expenditure per capita, but gives its residents a high healthy life expectancy of age 71 for men and age 75 for women. Switzerland’s physician density is about 3.61 per 1,000 residents. Switzerland also has a high level of air pollution. There are many gardens and parks located in Zurich for citizens to walk and bike in. Most of the people of Zurich enjoy an active lifestyle and sports are an integral part of Swiss culture. The abundance of sporting facilities make Zurich a gathering place for sport lovers in Switzerland. Several international sport federations make their home in Zurich.
Posted by grantcart | Sat Aug 4, 2012, 12:27 PM (24 replies)
We are seeing the first major shift in the campaign. The significance of this is big because all pollsters have, so far, noted how static the race has become and the likelihood of a big swing back is not great as so few people are undecided.
Here is Silver on Ohio (the whole article is useful, he shows that Romney has almost no chance to win the electoral college without Ohio)
Nowhere was this more apparent than in Ohio, where there were two new polls out on Friday. One of them, from the firm We Ask America, gave Mr. Obama an eight-point lead there. Another, from Magellan Strategies, put Mr. Obama up by two points.
Now Drunken Irishman brings us news of yet another poll (Quinnipac Obama + 6) that shows similar results for Ohio:
This would seem to indicate that the outsourcing and outbanking ads are having a huge impact in Ohio.
Note that Nate Silver has downgraded Romney's chances of winning the electoral college to 31%.
There is no reasonable path to an electoral college victory for Romney without Ohio. Portman is the only VP pick that helps in Ohio, so Portman's chances of being on the ticket just went up.
Romney's chances on Intrade have gone below 40 %
Posted by grantcart | Wed Aug 1, 2012, 08:43 AM (18 replies)
It was a web ad with a patriotic message that went viral.
But it turns out that the web ad released by Mass. Senate race Scott Brown last week - “Let America Be America Again” – featured some scenes that were shot in Europe.
The ad is a critique of comments made by Democratic challenger Elizabeth Warren in 2011, runs 2 and a half minutes long. It features video of past presidents talking about free enterprise, interspersed with footage of businesses throughout the country- and, it turns out, in Ireland and Spain too.
The Boston Globe reported that the ad, which has received over 800,000 hits since it was released, features stock footage of small business. One scene- about a minute into the video, features a man standing outside of O’Connor’s Family Butchers. O’Connor’s, it turns out, is located in Dublin, Ireland. Another shot features a man standing inside a restaurant kitchen- a kitchen which is in Barcelona.
The Brown campaign had no comment.
It appears that the Brown spokesman was not available because he was on the phone with his banker and the banks in Zurich close 5 hours before those in Boston.
Posted by grantcart | Tue Jul 31, 2012, 12:04 AM (5 replies)
My good friend "The Desperate Blogger" has just published his finest satire ever and perhaps the greatest of the whole campaign season and I base that solely on the title of this brilliant satire piece.
Romney in Israel: “Governments Should Spend Like Jews”
A mere 48 hours after impressing London residents in a manner unmatched by a foreign dignitary since renowned German aerospace engineer Wernher von Braun shared with them his love of rocketry some seventy years ago, former Massachusetts governor and one-time presidential candidate Mitt Romney brought his three-nation ‘Barnstormer of Charm’ tour to Israel Saturday. And speaking at an international economic symposium at Tel Aviv University, he delivered remarks many experts agree may even overshadow his Olympic performance.
Sharing his views on current global economic conditions, most notably the Eurozone crisis and the slow rate of recovery in the United States, an uncharacteristically emotional Romney whipped the crowd into a frenzy when he concluded his remarks by offering his solution while simultaneously paying his own unique form of tribute to his audience’s heritage.
“For far too long, liberal and socialist policies have led not only to increased dependence on government, but also to unsustainable budget deficits,” the man many from England now refer to affectionately as the ‘taxation tallywacker’ lectured. “Governments have been spending money like they’re drunken sailors when they should be spending like they’re Jews.”
So impressed was the Sabbath day crowd in attendance that immediately following the speech, calls went out to prestigious academic fraternity Delta Tau Chi to bestow – for the first time upon a Mormon on Israeli soil – its highest honor, “The Goy Clip”, a ritual form of retaliatory circumcision.
Reaction in the United States was not only overwhelmingly positive, but also unusually bipartisan.
Conservative radio personality and amateur pharmacist Rush Limbaugh was quick to praise Romney’s statesmanship.
“He not only sent a message to the rest of the world about the importance of getting their fiscal houses in order,” the porcine pill-popper gushed, “but he also made it clear to our key ally in the region that even though the United States is a Christian nation, we nonetheless appreciate many of the positive aspects of their Jewness.”
Pueblo State University professor Newton Toomey, a former aide to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton who was recently pressured by Congressional Republicans to resign after being heard on a wiretapped phone conversation uttering the words ‘Muslim Brotherhood’, also praised Romney for “forever improving future relations with Israel by ensuring their leaders will be much more receptive to dealing with an American President who has ‘Hussein’ in his name.”
If you have followed The Desperate Blogger's other satirical pieces you will see that they are so funny because they are so close to what is actually happening, to what is actually being said. Time and time again he comes out with his satire a few days before and event only to have the people he is lampooning say almost exactly the same thing.
And no one more richly deserves the "Goy Clip" than Governor and one time Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney, make it so.
Posted by grantcart | Sat Jul 28, 2012, 12:01 PM (6 replies)
The salute to England's National Health Service wasn't political it was saluting United Kingdom's deep affection for all things humane.
It was a constant thread through all of the ceremony.
Noting the joy of the 7/7 announcement ceremony they took a brief moment to remember those that were killed the next day in a terrorist attack (and that other threads have pointed out was edited out by NBC for the Seacrest/Phelps interview).
But this wonderfully generous view of humanity was seen through out the entire ceremony. It was appropriate for a country that has taken telling adventurous children's stories where good always wins into a national industry. They didn't salute their tradition of childrens stories because it helps with their national trade balance they did it because it helps give a better view of the world.
Its a world where everyone should be able to see a doctor if they need to.
Now I have been roundly lampooned in my family for having the worst singing voice in human history even bringing all of the loud cathartic weeping to a standstill at a funeral while people looked around in my direction trying to find out 'what in the hell that noise is". So how is it possible that you can have an integrated choir of hearing and deaf children sing like angels when they sang the British National Anthem. There are two issues here. One is that they would be so clever to think to invite them. The second is that some music teachers were so brilliant to think of such a choir. Singing and signing together. How wonderfully humane.
Read about the choir here: http://www.thekaos.org/#/the-kaos-signing-choir/4534466631
And then they had dancers in wheel chairs. Did you see that. Wonderfully athletic dancers jumping around and then if you looked carefully you could see dancers wheeling around in wheelchairs.
There is a common value in British society that no one should be left behind, not in singing, not in dancing and not in health care.
It wasn't always that way. They had a conservative opposition that wanted a minimalist government.
Then World War II landed on their doorsteps and they learned that they really did literally need each other.
After the war that sentiment was used to form the NHS. It wasn't easy.
Doctors were initially opposed to Bevan's plan, primarily on the stated grounds that it reduced their level of independence. Bevan had to get them onside, as, without doctors, there would be no health service. Being a shrewd political operator, Bevan managed to push through the radical health care reform measure by dividing and cajoling the opposition, as well as by offering lucrative payment structures for consultants. On this subject he stated, "I stuffed their mouths with gold". On July 5, 1948, at the Park Hospital (now known as Trafford General Hospital) in Manchester, Bevan unveiled the National Health Service and stated, "We now have the moral leadership of the world."
Through the combined sacrifice and terrible experience of WWII where the whole nation was under attack a profound change occurred in Great Britain where a simple empathy for every single other citizen became the norm. That is what was on display last night. It was beautiful to see. Everyone benefits from it, even the conservatives for they too have children in wheel chairs and children who have to sign when they sing and children who need to see a specialist.
Well done English cousins, well done.
Posted by grantcart | Sat Jul 28, 2012, 11:46 AM (7 replies)
Ohio has been ground zero for the President's campaign. Its where he is running ads non stop on Bain and Romney's outsourcing.
We Ask America (read Jenmito's thread about them here) a pollster based in IL that is " is a partisan Republican pollster and an arm of the pro-business Illinois Manufacturer's Association" is showing that Ohio is moving for the President 48 to 40.
But here is the big news:
What pops out immediately is the high percentage of self-described Republicans who say they will vote for Barack Obama over Mitt Romney. An outlier? Perhaps. But we went back into the field last night to test it again. The results: almost identical. Hmmm. We going to keep an eye on that.
Since Independents are leaning toward Romney, if the “wayward” GOP electorate come back home to roost, this will tighten up considerably and quickly. And a rumored choice of Ohio Senator Rob Portman as Romney’s VP running mate could reverse what we’re seeing today.
Then again, maybe those GOP voters leaning toward Obama are the result of the President working Ohio like Rocky Balboa on a side of beef…breaking a few political ribs while he’s at it.
And those take a long time to heal.
Posted by grantcart | Fri Jul 27, 2012, 11:24 AM (9 replies)
We all know Americans like that don't we? One of my cousins. One of my neighbors. One of the secretaries of the office. They are just so full of American hubris and so intellectually rigid that they should just never leave the country. Not good for them, not good for the people they meet and not good for anybody who is going to base what they think the US is like on meeting them.
Those Americans that shouldn't leave the country, they also shouldn't lead the country. The last one that needed to be held by the hand as he went from country to country was George Bush and we saw how that worked out.
Mitt Romney has been rebuked by the US Olympic legend Carl Lewis after the presumptive Republican presidential nominee questioned whether London was fully prepared for the Olympic Games.
As Romney was mocked on US television and by the London mayor, Boris Johnson, in front of a crowd of 60,000 people, Lewis called on him to return home.
"Seriously, some Americans just shouldn't leave the country," the nine-times Olympic gold medal winner told the Independent.
Asked whether London was ready to stage the Games, Lewis said: "Of course London is ready."
Posted by grantcart | Fri Jul 27, 2012, 08:54 AM (0 replies)
On edit: Just for fun I emailed this to the Guardian writer who wrote about Romney's other gaffes.
As reported by the Political Wire
Romney wrote, in his book, No Apology:
"England is just a small island. Its roads and houses are small. With few exceptions, it doesn't make things that people in the rest of the world want to buy. And if it hadn't been separated from the continent by water, it almost certainly would have been lost to Hitler's ambitions."
I made a prediction that the President's campaign would be leaking little tid bits, and wonder if this is one of them.
Remember Mitt, No Apologies now.
Posted by grantcart | Thu Jul 26, 2012, 02:12 PM (180 replies)