Meh Culpa

What should happen to McChrystal: In case anyone was wondering. Or not.

When  Congressional subcommittees or committee-committees chew you out, it doesn’t mean anything.  It’s only PR masquerading as a consequence when nothing bad is really going to happen to you. Bad things don’t happen to the Big People, they happen to the Little People.

For instance, the American auto execs were chewed out for flushing their businesses (and lots and lots of jobs) down the national toilet.  The chewing-out did not stop the same execs from taking private planes to their meetings (hadn’t they heard of carpooling?) or from standing up the President of the United States.  One executive head rolled, but only one.  Not that bad.

The heads of Banks Too Big To Fail might have squirmed a little when they were introduced to a new orifice courtesy of a committee hearing, but nothing happened to them either. They continued to collect vast bonuses and so did their underlings. We could probably balance the budgets of several states using the money they doled out to themselves. OK, so Ken Lewis might get a little hand slapping for not talking about the problems with Merill Lynch’s balance sheet, but then again maybe not.   Lewis has already portrayed himself as a patriot doing his civic duty, as not having a choice because Hank Paulson said so.

Fast-forward to Tony Hayward’s testimony before yet another freakin’ committee looking for air time so its members can emote righteously and pretend that it means something.  Because it doesn’t.  There isn’t going to be any meaningful regulation on the oil industry any more than there were regulations sicked like rabid dogs on the bankers, who were then free to do everything they did before the recession, which will bring our economy land in even more do-do.  Nope,  most if not all of our politicians are basking in the well-lined pocket of  industry, like tanning addicts bake in the sun, no matter what that industry’s name.  BP has been and/ or will be penalized, but the industry itself will keep on chuggin’ like the little engine that could.  I mean,  a Federal district judge just lifted the President’s moratorium on drilling because the administration hadn’t proven that all of the new offshore rigs in question were bound to fail as BP’s Deepwater Horizon did because of a faulty assumption.  The thing is, I’m not sure it can be proven that any or all of the rigs are not bound to fail.  The point is that it’s more important to secure the oceans and shores from spills extending for months, and perhaps years if the relief wells don’t work, than it is to generate oil.  The environment depends on it; our people’s livelihoods depend on it.   What we can’t depend on are the courts,  the oil companies, and the politicians to make sure it never happens again.

So, now that I’ve gotten that out of the way, what should happen to McChrystal after the disaster that is the snarktastic  Rolling Stone article?  The same thing that happens to everyone else–a little public humiliation, then back to work for the sucker.*


* I don’t really care about McChrystal.  He was ineffably stupid to be that free and easy around a journalist, but I don’t really care.  But as a rule I am against war.  I’m against the Afghan War on  that principle as well as on the grounds that we can’t win. Trying to win in Afghanistan bankrupted the Soviets.  Then their government crashed and burned. Who is to say we’ll be any different? (Hint: it takes a big helping of hubris to assume we won’t be.) So as far as I’m truly concerned, we can just end the war and bug out while out soldiers still have an intact country to go back to. No matter how many millions of dollars in minerals we succeed in letting corporations dig up, prolonging this war just isn’t worth the cost.

June 23, 2010 Posted by | Afghan War, Afghanistan, automakers, bailout(s), banks, Congress, Economy, Foreign policy, House of Representatives, politics, Russia, Senate, Uncategorized | , | Leave a comment

Re: Universal Health Care. My questions for Senator Sherrod Brown

(AmericaBlog took questions from readers today, which will be transported to Senator Sherrod Brown for review.  With any luck he’ll answer a few good ones.  I hope he doesn’t mind a little familiarity.  I used his first name because I hadn’t heard of him. Well, it’s actually more interesting than his surname. 🙂 )

Greetings, Senator Sherrod.

I would like to know how a person who qualifies for and uses an indigent health care plan can afford to get well. For instance, let us say that a person with a chronic illness might be able to work with the right drug cocktail. Since,according to law, drug companies must provide patient assistance for those poor enough to qualify, imagine that this person has improved using an indigent health care program. He has become more functional so he would like to contribute to society.

Bravo.

Unfortunately, he faces a few hurdles. For one, being out of work for a long time, as often happens with the disabled or chronically ill, doesn’t look so nifty on a CV, and while it’s difficult for a healthy person to find work nowadays what with the unemployment rate being so high, a disabled person will have that strike of a lengthy unemployment against him.

Let’s give him a little luck here. Let’s say this person obtains a fairly good job: his wages begin at entry level, yet once his health insurance kicks in, he must pay the going rate for medications and insurance coverage. Unless he’s taking generic medications, and even then, the cost of his medication is prohibitive.

He then realizes he’s experiencing the ultimate health care Catch-22: if he keeps working for as little money as he makes, he won’t be able to pay the co-pays for doctor visits or buy his medication; without medication, he will become too sick to work; and his health will suffer because he won’t be able to see his physician. He might even develop a life-threatening condition in the meantime.

How do you propose to help people such as this man afford their health care? I’m sure you’re aware of insurance companies’ tactics. If they have to take a customer with a pre-existing condition or a serious illness that arises while the customer is covered, those companies will make sure he pays a much higher rate than anyone else.  If it comes to pass that this man cannot be denied health insurance because of his chronic illness, who will make sure his premiums are truly affordable? (I don’t buy into the competition scheme because I think insurance companies could pull an Enron or develop secret cartels like OPEC. ) Who will decide what is “affordable”–even with a public option? Will demographics, such as cost of living, be taken into account? Will a person’s debt be factored into the mix? Will a person living in San Francisco pay the same rate as someone in, say, Mississippi?

And *why not* single payer? I mean, we already have single payer: Medicare. It’s easier and it works.  Or we could have a combination: single payer with an option to go with private insurance like people do in the UK. (By the way, most Brits *like* their health care system.)

Frankly, I do not trust the insurance companies to initiate or complete true reform. I think we’re witnessing the same song and dance they’ve fed us like pablum us since Franklin Roosevelt and Harry Truman (http://cthealth.server101.com/why_doesn%27t.htm). We did the same thing with the auto industry–trusted the Big Three to change and allowed them to dictate terms–and look where they are now. We need to stop bending over backwards for these companies. They don’t deserve it.

I realize that our nation’s leaders are chary of single payer in part because so many people in the insurance industry would lose their jobs and that wouldn’t help the economy. But why not retrain them and/or give them jobs doing mostly the same thing in the public sector? Why is Congress so short on answers and ideas? Why not look at the countries with the best health care and try those on for size? We’re number 37 in health care, for goodness sake! Behind third world countries! We’re behind Colombia! Can you believe it?!

As I see it, our nation’s leaders would rather pay for wars, help the Wall Street gangsters (who then made out like bandits), and protect their own campaign dollars. What does that say about us as a nation that we put up with such morally reprehensible derangement? What does it say about the Legislative and Executive branches of our government that politics is almost always more important than our own people?

Thank you for reading, Senator. If you’ve gotten this far you’ve got quite an attention span. 🙂

September 21, 2009 Posted by | automakers, bailout(s), banks, Congress, corruption, Economy, Executive branch, political parties in the US, politics, recession, Senate, unemployment | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

I’m not an economist and I don’t play one on TV

I’m just a mathematically challenged American, yet I,–yes, I!–have a plan for the banks.  And for that matter, the automobile industry.

I can remember way back  when the Former Husband was attending grad school for his MBA (*cough*in the 1980’s*cough*), the so-called logic of egregious salaries was gaining sway,  greed was all  good, and ethics were [possibly] questionable.*  Here we are, about 20 years later and  gone are the days when anyone can argue that executives are paid such vast sums because they’re the ones with the expertise, and if you want to keep them on the job, you need to  compensate them with astronomical salaries, bonuses, perquisites and parachutes.

Uhhh, hellooo?!

NOT.

Here’s the Plan: I think we should fire all the overpaid executives at the top.   C’mon, who needs retention?  When those narcissistic fools drove their companies into the ground, they planted all of us taxpayers as well.  Then too,  the automobile moguls drove a stake into the Big Three’s collective heart, the one pumping with the lifeblood of its distressed employees.   You know, the folks who had some of that $28 an hour lifeblood siphoned to keep the bottom line from bottoming out.  If any other American employee had done such a masterful job,  he  (or she) would have been pink-slipped as soon as the ink on the annual report dried red.  Hey, not even HP’s former CEO, Carly Fiorina, was spared when she failed to produce after the merger with Compaq, so neither Wall Street nor Detroit should off the hook.  Besides, the corporate cultures could use a little fresh air.  The thing is,  you can’t open the windows without throwing out all the upper level execs.

What, we can’t do that?

Sure, we can. They aren’t the only people in the world who know how to run a business, whether it be money business or car business.  Import ’em if you have to.

Next, do away with creative accounting. Let’s see those balance sheets balance without any fancy tricks. If they don’t,  then nationalize the insolvent banks.  (I’m sure Geithner and Bernanke already know which are which. They’re just not telling.) If shareholders have to take a hit, then so be it.  Shareholders know  going in that they’re taking a risk.  We shouldn’t change the rules of the game just for them.

Merge Chrysler and General Motors.   Sell off everything  that can’t make a profit, but keep GM’s parts business for all the used cars.  That’s a market that won’t go away.  Sell a line of Light Weight Classics that make 60 mpg for starters.  (If China can do it now, why can’t we?)   Bring in new design teams and Green Teams.  Let there be independent quality control.  Educate the workers, and along with them, repair techs, in greening the fleets.  Now that’s an investment.

(If I have any other ideas, I’ll let y’all know…  :D)


* I think the Former Husband’s class was asked a rhetorical question that went something like this: “If you had the chance to steal $40,000 (or $100,00) and get away with it, would you?” When the fundage increased, ethics decreased by an equal margin.  It was a long time ago, but I’m pretty sure no one said they would resist temptation.

February 13, 2009 Posted by | automakers, bailout(s), banks, Chrysler, Economy, Federal Reserve, GM, recession, Treasury | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment