News comes from Dhaka, the capital city of Bangladesh, that a disastrous fire swept through a garment factory there, killing eight people. A factory fire in November killed more than 100.
The garment industry in Bangladesh is euphemistically called “loosely regulated,” so, regrettably, these things (fires and so forth) tend to happen with alarming regularity. An entire building collapsed there not long ago, killing more than 1,000. It’s a delicate balance, isn’t it? Between protecting human life and encouraging business investment? You don’t want thousands of people dying every year in preventable accidents, but on the other hand you don’t want to add a few cents to the price of a finished t-shirt.
Originally posted November 18th, 2012
By Michael Konik
So long as the American people are quite alright with their elected offices being available for rent, let’s have some fun.
We’re resigned to a world where money is speech, not property, a world where no one minds that half their Members of Congress are millionaires (as opposed to 1% of the population-at-large), where $372 was spent on promoting or attacking 11 California initiatives, much of it by secret donors who went to court to keep their identities shrouded. We get it.
Since the Supreme Court has taught us that corporations are people and since it has come to light that this particular group of people largely controls the Land of the Free, we think it best if all of us could stop pretending it’s otherwise. Let’s celebrate!
Gary Johnson, the Libertarian Party’s presidential candidate, had a cool idea. He thinks that . . . → Read More: The NASCAR President
Originally posted November 11th, 2012
By Michael Konik
In the days preceding the storm of the century, two candidates running for President of the United States strenuously assured voters that they would pump more crude, frack more natural gas, and burn more coal than the other guy. Whether or not an energy policy built on a fossil-fuel paradigm could or could not be sustained wasn’t discussed, at least by Messrs. Obama and Romney, who proudly reiterated their fealty to the oil and mining companies that sign the checks. Virtually every other candidate for President –the ones who weren’t members of the Democratic or Republican crime syndicates, such as Jill Stein of the Green Party and Rocky Anderson of the Justice Party — characterized our looming environmental disaster as the biggest threat facing America, not terrorism or the national debt, as the Military-Industrial complex would like us to believe.
Originally posted September 23rd, 2012
By Michael Konik
The Occupy movement celebrated its one-year anniversary this week. Professional pontificators wondered in print and on TV, What has Occupy Actually Achieved?
Prevailing sentiment seems to be: nothing much. At least nothing tangible, measurable, quantifiable, or, most important, commoditizable.
Since protesters took over Zuccotti Park, numerous polls have shown that the American public – the 100%, composed chiefly of the 99% — approves of Occupy’s message but disapproves of Occupy’s disruptive tactics. Presumably, the majority believes Occupy would do better to work “within the system” rather than reject the system as utterly rotten. Many Americans still think camping out to buy the latest iPhone is a better idea than camping out for social justice.
Some people think Occupy is fizzling out.
No new laws. No new regulations. No new policy changes. Occupy, the fizzler camp believes, hasn’t any accomplishment to call its own.
Originally posted August 5th, 2012
By Michael Konik
I was young like you once. Don’t laugh. It seems impossible, I know. An old codger like me of 77! You probably can’t picture when I was only 47 and healthy, with all my own teeth and a libido that didn’t yet require boner pills.
Sure, that was three decades ago, and I look a lot different, what with the thinning hair, sloping shoulders, and cute little pot belly. But my memory is still sharp, even with all the weed I smoked. I remember perfectly what we were like 30 years ago, back in ’12, and I’m glad your professor asked you to do this project. I’m glad you’re talking to the older generation. Folks like me know what America was like back then, back in the time of Obama. The USA was different.
Originally posted July 22nd, 2012
By Michael Konik
Whether or not you subscribe to the curious concept of “American exceptionalism,” you probably sense that America is exceptionally nervous about its future, long-term and short. Since the fall of the Berlin Wall (1989) and the old Soviet Union (1991), the United States of America has rapidly fallen from uncontested #1 global leader to our current state of terrorized tightfistedness.
Not long ago we we’re rich. Now we’re broke, and maybe permanently broken. Following surpluses under a spend-spend-spend Democrat named Bill Clinton, we twice elected a thrifty Republican named George W. Bush, who cut taxes while prosecuting two protracted foreign wars. So whose fault is it that the national debt is insurmountable? Blame George W. Bush!
Or you could blame the blissfully unregulated mortgage banks for selling money on credit to people who had neither money nor credit. Blame those folks, too. They didn’t . . . → Read More: Pointing Fingers
Prior to the dynasty of Bush the Younger, my chief embarrassment about being an American abroad wasn’t that we were a nation of belligerent, imperialist, arrogant bullies. It was that we were fatties. Among the French and Finnish, Dutch and Danish, American tourists were easy to identify, whether or not they wore fanny packs. The Americans, candid locals confessed, were usually the ones with their belly hanging over their waistband and flabby flaps of flab flapping on the back of their arms.
“Why are Americans so fat?” I would be asked. “Does everyone there eat too much?”
The short answer was (and is): yes.
It wasn’t until much later, after many trips to countries that organized their affairs differently than we do in America, that I recognized the direct connection between our cultural imperative to over-consume and our position in the world as Fatty-in-Chief. When . . . → Read More: Living Large
We’re really sorry about our most recent trading loss. People will say we require more oversight, and, in this case, maybe they’re right. It shouldn’t have happened, and we’ll take steps to make sure it doesn’t happen for a third time.
The $4,000 or so ($4,882) of your money that we failed to bring back from our annual company trip to Hollywood Park Racetrack and Casino will in no way whatsoever impact our ability to pay our promised dividend of .1% on all investments. We remain financially stable, with significant capital reserves — thanks to you, our valued shareholders — and enough gains from our other departments that the latest debacle in our Trading Department will not affect our ability to make more trades in the very near future.
No, it’s not the $2 billion that JPMorgan Chase blew on derivitative bets, but . . . → Read More: To Our Investors
Luckily for Barack Obama, news of improper shenanigans at the IRS stole attention from the week’s biggest story: that the President’s Justice Department had secretly seized call information from at least 20 phone lines belonging to Associated Press reporters, including personal cell phones and the main switchboard of the AP’s Washington bureau. While Obama thundered on about “inexcusable behavior” at the IRS, he said he would “make no apology” for his latest foray into Nixonian…
The commonly understood reason why terrorists wish to kill and maim Americans is because they hate our freedoms. That’s what’s behind all the civilian violence: they hate our freedoms. You can go ahead and enumerate all the freedoms the terrorists hate, but it doesn’t really matter which ones –freedom to…
Author James Goodale was chief counsel for the New York Times during the Nixon era. His new book, “Fighting for the Press: The Inside Story of the Pentagon Papers and Other Battles,” outlines our government’s pernicious (and ongoing) threat to media freedom. Some prescient authors get all the luck: Every morning it seems we’re greeted to [...]