Saturday, August 29, 2009


I haven't posted until now because my internet (and cable TV) connection was down.

Comcast is the provider, a monopoly in my area for highspeed internet until recently when Verizon put in lines for speedier connections. But both are giant corporations that have provided pretty good service a lot of the time, unbelievably bad service some of the time, and no service at all on too many occasions.

My power was entirely out a week or so ago for a day. I've lived in the apartment I'm in for three years now and the power has gone out I'd say about twelve times. Some of those were just for several hours, but a couple lasted a day or more and one lasted several days meaning all the food was rotten and I was trying to sleep in a heatwave with no fans let alone air conditioners, etc. (And I'm talking about power in a relatively large area that's part of the metropolitan New York area, not Bagdhad.)

It seems to me that it happens more often these days than when I was a boy. The 1950s was a terrible time for many of us in terms of civil rights and women's rights and gay rights and human rights in general. But what it did do well was keep corporations relatively regulated so that they operated with less outright greed and more public concern.

The tax rates were so high it didn't make sense to make the kind of gargantuan salaries or bonuses we've seen since the Reagan era when the regulations got thrown out and taxes decreased so that most of us began paying more in taxes (payroll, social security, etc.) than the wealthy did on their incomes. Back in the day, a CEO had an incentive to look toward long range financial goals rather than the quick kill in which he (or the rare she at that level) could score enough to insure a wealthy lifestyle for generations of his family to come, which is the dominant trend among the greedheads that run too many corporations these days.

But my point is a larger one. Big corporations let me down on a daily basis. Either the connection isn't working or the power's down or the repairman doesn't know what he's doing or doesn't show up when he says he will etc. etc. etc. And trying to get through the robotic answering programs, which are obviously designed to discourage any real contact with a real human, is so frustrating I would guess most of us give up in disappointment (my attempt to get Verizon recently to reduce a long distance bill because somehow I had "chosen" a plan that would make me pay over ten times as much as any other plan (and this was explained to me and I chose it why?). Etc. etc. endlessly etc.

The rightwingers would have us believe, and this began under Reagan mostly but was intensified and became more widespread under the last administration, that the only good government is one that doesn't exist, or only exists to raise a military and use it to defend, well, basically, the corporate interests and the maintenance of rightwing power which they identify as "the national interest" or "national security."

To bolster their argument, they're always accusing federal agencies of being unproductive or basically failures and corporations, the bigger the better, as the answer to all our prayers. But here's the deal. I get my mail every day, pretty much around the same time. Sometimes there's errors (there wasn't any by the way back when the Post Office was actually a federal agency and not a semi-public agency as it is now and became under a Republican administration) but they're usually pretty easily corrected. Yeas, there's lines sometimes at the Post Office, but there's lines sometimes at the place where I go to use Fed Express.

I get checks from the government every month as well, and they've so far always come on time and been correct. Just like my unions have always functioned well when it comes to getting checks for my work etc. But every time I have to deal with a large corporation, I find myself getting the run around, or becoming so frustrated with the run around I want to just give up in despair (or go join a group to get the corporation regulated and create more competition etc.).

When I had to deal with Social Security, I called and got a human being, who not only was congenial and informative, but who pointed out the best ways I could maximize my Social Security earnings when it came time, asking me if I was a veteran or had any minor children etc. When I went to see this woman in a Social Security office that is in the middle of what they used to call "the ghetto" in Newark, and was the only person there who might be considered "white" by those that use that term and actually believe there's some kind of "white race" as opposed to a "black" one etc., I found quick service and once again this woman was kind and helpful and actually made the whole process easy. Something that has never, never, can I say that again, never happened when I'm dealing with a large corporation. oh, and by the way, this woman was not only what classifiers call "black" she was a Muslim with her head wrapped etc.

The only problems I've had with government agencies, be they the Veterans Administration, Social Security, or others, has been when underfunding (the Veterans Administration under recent Republican administrations) led to not enough workers to handle volume etc. An excuse the big corporations use all the time ("We are busy with other customers and will get to you when we can" or "in approximately fifteen minutes" etc.).

The basic truth that the right ignores and sometimes those on the left as well, is that we're all human and any corporation or government agency is going to involve human error and human frailty. What the difference is is easy, the corporations main goal is profit, as much as possible as quickly as possible (used to include customer satisfaction when the financial rewards were more limited and CEOs made only ten times as much as a worker as opposed to a hundred times or a thousands times as much) whereas the government agency's goal is to serve the public in whatever capacity the agency has been formed to carry out.

I prefer my chances with someone attracted to public service than someone attracted to self enrichment at the expense of the rest of us.


tom said...


Butch in Waukegan said...

This video speaks to your point quite clearly.

Also, if government health care is so terrible in Canada and Europe why are there no political parties in those countries campaigning for its abolition? Third rail?

Mostly ignored by the established and right wing (do I repeat myself) media is the open, undeniable waste and corruption by the biggest recipient of un-audited tax dollars - the Pentagon.

JIm said...

"I prefer my chances with someone attracted to public service than someone attracted to self enrichment at the expense of the rest of us." mlally

It is a wonder to me that people will endure great hardship and emigrate to pursue opportunity and profit that is available in a free enterprise system but the a son of small town entrepreneur and his progressive socialist friends would trash the American system and turn it into a Cuba or Venezuela.

Lally said...

Keep my old man out of this Jim, He was an FDR Democratic partisan all the way. And only an imbecile would equate liberal democracy with Cuba. Or even Democratic socialism. As for Venezuela, last time I looked it was still a democracy, though Chavez is obviously trying to stay in power. But unlike Bush Junior, Chavez was elected by a majority of his countrymen. You obviously have no idea what you are talking about most of the time Jim. You cling to the big lie technique over and over again. But, why do I even bother.

JIm said...

In February of 2007 the Venezuelan congressional leader said the following after granting Chavez sweeping extraordinary powers.
“Long live the sovereign people! Long live President Hugo Chavez! Long live socialism!” said National Assembly President Cilia Flores as she proclaimed the “enabling law” approved by a show of hands. “Fatherland, socialism or death! We will prevail!”
Obama is catching up with the Venezuela model of rule. He has nationalized the banks, autos and is attempting to nationalize medicine. He has unelected tsars regulating large amounts of the economy and American life. He is attempting to expand Americorp into a domestic army. Free speech is threatened through Obama's view of "Localism". I look at Venezuela and I see Obama’s vision of America.

"Communism is the death of the soul. It is the organization of total conformity - in short, of tyranny - and it is committed to making tyranny universal".
Adlai E. Stevenson

I suspect a man who supported Adlai Stevenson would not support Chavez’s or Obama’s vision of America.

Lally said...

When Adlai Stevenson was running for president and I was handing out flyers for his election, I encountered for the first time the uncivil anger and resentment of rightwing Republicans who would be nasty to a little boy just because he wanted someone other than their man to be elected president. Those same rightwing Republicans constantly characterized Stevenson as a "pinko"—meaning a "communist sympathizer"— and a "socilaist." There has been no Democratic candidate more like Adlai Stevenson than Obama (I've comapred them many times during the campaign last year). The most arch conservstive, most rightwing Republican we've ever had as president, geroge W. Bush, started all the actions Obama has taken so far as the banks and financial institutions are concerned, and W. also caused all the problems Obama is using the government to attempt to solve so that this country doesn't sink even further into the mire. And before you bring up the trillion projected deficit you should check your sources once again, because that number is based on facts that were in place when Obama took office and would have been exactly the same had the last administration been in charge for the next eight years as well (or worse, because of their disastrous policy decisions).

JIm said...

You refer to the “Pinko” comment at the time of the “Red Scare”. The question is whether that scare was legitimate. Many on the Left are in denial about some Americans' complicity in Soviet evil and the guilt of true traitors like Alger Hiss or the Rosenbergs, who helped Stalin and his heirs. Some liberals, communists and Democrats were bona fide traitors during the Cold War. I am unaware of any Republicans who were traitors during that time. Adlai Stevenson was not one of these, as some of his quotes make clear. The very real Red threat was made clear when the Venona translations of decoded cables between Moscow and its American agents in the years 1939 to 1957 were released in the 1990’s.

Communism is the corruption of a dream of justice.
Adlai E. Stevenson
Communism is the death of the soul. It is the organization of total conformity - in short, of tyranny - and it is committed to making tyranny universal.
Adlai E. Stevenson

Stalin and Khrushchev never endorsed Stevenson. Obama made very clear in words and actions that he favors at least socialism and some of his movements on a domestic army and attempts to rein in free speech suggest something harsher. Castro and Chavez endorsed Obama, since he is obviously politically closer to the Cuban and Venezuelan model of government than to traditional American Free Enterprise.

PS Nationalism of the Autos and a possible nationalization of health care was not in place. The Congressional Budget Office bumped the projected 7 trillion 10 year deficit estimate, that they estimated in the spring, by another 2 trillion to 9 trillion. The insane Democrat party Stimulus bill had nothing to do with Bush or Republicans and is, mostly, responsible for the run away debt.

JIm said...

John Mackey CEO and one of the founders of Whole Foods had the temerity to right an article in the Wall Street Jr. in opposition to Obamacare and in favor of free market solutions to America’s health care problems. “Whole Foods Market is one of only two Fortune 500 companies listed among the 25 Best Companies to Work For in 2005, a fact which Mackey ascribes to his pro-employee philosophy. He supports non-adversarial unions and advocates their legalization in the U.S. According to the BBC, John Mackey wrote a letter in 2006 to all of his staff announcing that he would reduce his own salary to $1 a year, donate his stock portfolio to charity and set up a $100,000 emergency fund for staff facing personal problems.[8] He wrote: "I am now 53 years old and I have reached a place in my life where I no longer want to work for money, but simply for the joy of the work itself and to better answer the call to service that I feel so clearly in my own heart."
Loony left Obama supporters found his free market solutions offensive and worthy of a boycott. There has been an opposite reaction to the boycott which has been termed a buycott. Whole Foods Market’s sales are supposedly up. It is good to see the loony left lose another one.