3.24.2005

It's Official: Conservative Pundits Hate Marriage Pt II

Oh poor Charles Krauthammer. He really has gone around the bend hasn't he?

In this case, the loved ones disagree. The husband wants Terri to die; the parents do not. The Florida court gave the surrogacy to her husband, under the generally useful rule that your spouse is the most reliable diviner of your wishes: You pick your spouse and not your parents, and you have spent most of your recent years with your spouse and not your parents.

The problem is that although your spouse probably knows you best, there is no guarantee that he will not confuse his wishes with yours. Terri's spouse presents complications. He has a girlfriend, and has two kids with her. He clearly wants to marry again. And a living Terri stands in the way.
Um, this poor man's wife, for all intents and purposes, died 15 years ago. He's been fighting with her family for most of that and you begrudge him wanting a little companionship? What the hell is wrong with Krauthammer?
That is why this is a terrible case. The general rule of spousal supremacy leads you here to a thoroughly repulsive conclusion. Repulsive because in a case where there is no consensus among the loved ones, one's natural human sympathies suggest giving custody to the party committed to her staying alive and pledging to carry the burden themselves.
Ummm, no: we side with the spouse. Sorry, call us old fashioned that way.
here is no good outcome to this case. Except perhaps if Florida and the other states were to amend their laws and resolve conflicts among loved ones differently -- by granting authority not necessarily to the spouse but to whatever first-degree relative (even if in the minority) chooses life and is committed to support it. Call it Terri's law. It would help prevent our having to choose in the future between travesty and tragedy.
Oh Chuck, Chuck, Chuck... why do you hate marriage so? Marriage is where you start a new family with someone you choose. A NEW FAMILY.

You know what? We're starting to miss the old conservatives who thought that marriage, the union of a man & woman, was the foundation of society? Where did those folks go because at least they were consistent.

And Chuck? Stop bad mouthing someone you know nothing about: you've never met the man, his poor wife and it's bad form to talk about him like it's a bad episode of CSI or Law & Order.

The Bankruptcy Bill & the Bastards Behind It

Oh, we might have a new 'man-crush': Terry Neal of the Washington Post thanks to his outstanding article If You Ain't Broke, Congress Has Fixed It... especially if 'It' is replaced with 'You' or 'Us.' But read on gentle reader...

Members of Congress, who continue to run up record budget deficits with their big spending ways, wagged a finger this month in the collective face of the American consumer and said, "Learn to live within your means, or else."
Shut up... shut up. You had us at "hello"!

Republican leaders finally pushed changes in bankruptcy law through the Senate after decades of trying. They -- and the 18 Democrats who joined them in supporting the bill -- sent a clear message that the explosion of credit card debt that led to more than 1.6 million bankruptcies last year was entirely the fault of consumers, this being the era of personal responsibility and all. The House is expected to pass the bill soon.

In a nutshell, the bill makes it more difficult to wipe out debt through bankruptcy by making it harder to file for protection under Chapter 7, which allows debtors to erase their debt almost entirely.

[snip]

During the debate on the bankruptcy bill, some Democrats joined Republicans to defeat Democratic amendments that would have placed new limits on lenders, too. Among the amendments that were shot down was one that would have discouraged predatory lending, a topic on which Congress has failed to act in recent years.

In an eye-opening Washington Post story on March 6, Kathleen Day and Caroline E. Mayer reported that "bankruptcy experts say that too often, by the time an individual has filed for bankruptcy or is hauled into court by creditors, he or she has repaid an amount equal to their original credit card debt plus double-digit interest, but still owes hundreds or thousands of dollars because of penalties. . . . Penalty interest rates usually are about 30 percent, with some as high as 40 percent, while late fees now often are $39 a month, and over-limit fees, about $35. . . . According to R.K. Hammer Investment Bankers, a California credit card consulting firm, banks collected $14.8 billion in penalty fees last year, or 10.9 percent of revenue, up from $10.7 billion, or 9 percent of revenue, in 2002, the first year the firm began to track penalty fees."
Oy. 5 paragraphs in and our heads are swimming! If penalties are up, profits are up, and folks don't declare bankruptcy because of credit card debt (Harvard-and what could they possibly know- say it's because of Medical Bills and Divorce) why put the screws to common folk like this? Our Man Terry thinks he knows...
So, why all the focus on the consumer rather than the financial institutions that are profiting off the annual load of $690 billion in revolving consumer debt?

The people at the nonpartisan campaign finance watchdog Center for Responsive Politics believe they have an idea.

The millions of dollars in campaign donations contributed by the credit card industry over the years was money well spent," wrote the center's Steven Weiss on March 14 on the center's Web site, www.opensecrets.org.

The Washington Post reported that the banking, credit card and retail industries -- the powerful forces behind the measure -- gave a combined $56 million in campaign contributions to members of Congress in the 2004 elections.

But if you follow the money trail a little further, it gets more interesting.
You're kidding? How could it be more interesting than the so-called "representatives of the people" selling those same people out? We're not sure we can take the answer...
According to the Center for Responsive Politics, the finance and credit card industries gave the bill's supporters in the Senate an average of $36,600 between 1999 and 2004. The industries gave an average of $20,221 to senators who voted against it.

All of the Senate's 55 Republicans voted for the measure, and received an average of $38,600 from those industries during that time. But one of the things that the center's report makes clear is how much these industries have done to court some Democrats.

The Democrats who supported the bill received an average of $12,600 more than the Republicans who voted for it and $31,000 more than the Democrats who ended up voting against it.

The banking and credit card industries had a larger hurdle to overcome among Democrats because there is more opposition to the bankruptcy bill from the left. So it seems to me that bill proponents targeted Democrats they thought they could sway. Of course, no politician would ever acknowledge voting a certain way based on campaign contributions.
Fuckers. Wankers. Bastards. Actually I love the unstated assumption to this last part: we totally expect the Republicans to full-on sell the common folk out to business, but it's only bad when then Democrats do it. What does that sub-text tell you?

One last point from our man Terry:
But until a viable, well-funded lobby for broke people comes to Washington, don't expect Congress to do much to crack down on the financial and credit card industries in the same way it has their customers.
Ha Ha Hilarious! A lobby for broke people!!! Good one Dawg! Next time we're in DC we owe you a beer... if we can afford one.

As always, read the rest for yourself and THINK because nobody automatically deserves your support and help. But if you think the system "sucks" and you don't vote? Then you get what you deserve.

Why Do Conservatives Hate Marriage? The Return of the 'Nanny State'

As a follow up to the post below, we think the following can never be repeated enough:

"The sanctity of life overshadows the sanctity of marriage. I don’t know what transpired between Terri and her husband. All I know is Terri is alive…. Unless she has specifically written instructions in her hand, with her signature, I don’t care what her husband says."
And what marriage hating, liberal commie pinko fiend said that?

Tom "The Exterminator and/or Hammer" Delay.

And he knows that poor Terri Schaivo is alive (and we thought he as an exterminator prior to serving in Congress... we had no idea he was a doctor of any kind and had, apparently, examined this woman), doesn't know what happened between a husband and wife but that doesn't matter because he doesn't care what her husband says.

Marriage is officially no longer the building block of our society... the Government is.

So let us here at the Outsourced American be the first to Welcome the Return of The Nanny State! Yes, that's right apprently 'conservatives' are now ready to officially tell us how to live our lives (and die our deaths)!! And we welcome our new Overlords because, well to be honest, decisions are hard and we don't like making them for ourselves. So Thank You Tom Delay. Thank you Bill Frist. Thank you 'Jeb' Bush. Thank you Bush Co. for taking decisions about our lives away from us!

3.23.2005

It's Official: Conservative Pundits Hate Marriage

WOW. What a night. Normally we skip the cable news networks because it's just so much garbage, but we admit that we got sucked in tonight and... it was amazing: without fail each and everyone of the so-called conservatives thought the parental relationship should trump that of a relationship with a spouse.

Again: WOW.

Pat "Much Taller In Person Than You Think" Buchanan actually thought that Bush should have federal marshalls take Terri Schaivo into custody (under what legal authority? "because it's right") and screw the husband.

Oh yeah, folks are now starting to compare Michael Schaivo, someone who tragically lost their wife 15 years ago, to Scott Peterson.

So much for the whole "respect for marriage" thing eh? Somehow we don't think letting the homos marry could hurt the institution of marriage as much as modern conservatives are.

If it weren't so tragic it would be funny.

An Oligopoly By Any Definition

Lou Dobbs Gone Wild!
Yes, it was bizarre but Monday night Lou Dobbs said the following:

DOBBS: This is an unpleasant increase, to put it mildly, for all of us in this country, but particularly a tough blow to working men and women in this country, their families. We've seen a 50 percent increase here in energy prices in the past year. That's intolerable, isn't it?

BINGAMAN: Well, it's something we're obviously tolerating. It's a terrible burden on our economy and on a lot of families, you're exactly right about that.

DOBBS: And as we look at what's happening, as Bill Tucker just reported, the consolidation in this country of oil companies and the energy companies has now reached a point where we're talking about controlling two third of the market, a handful of companies, an oligopoly by any definition.

How has it that we've come to this point where we've got this kind of concentration on the part of these companies?
Did Lou just call the 'Oil Companies' an "oligopoly"? You bet he did... and what does that mean kiddies?
ol·i·gop·o·ly
Pronunciation: -'gä-p&-lE
Function: noun
Etymology: olig- + -poly (as in monopoly)
: a market situation in which each of a few producers affects but does not control the market
Hmmm, well as you gas prices go up remember that the 4th Quarter was a banner one for the oil companies in terms of profits: Exon Mobil "earned" $8.42 BILLION alone.

Who's zooming who folks?

Outsourced, Offshored, Nearshored... Dizzy

No matter what you call it, it isn't good for workers.
Is Nearshoring A Real Alternative to Offshoring?... Now this is all about saving money to increase profits, but as we always ask: when does a company's responsibiltiy to a community kick in? Isn't this just a race to the bottom?

As companies struggle to compete in today's global economy, offshoring work to other countries has emerged as a valid alternative in reducing the costs for crucial business operations. More than 75 percent of businesses are using offshoring companies to perform vital business functions — call centers, back-office operations and other strategic business operations, to name a few-to stay competitive and run efficiently. Such countries have the talent that companies desire: government-sponsored workers; Capability Maturity Model (CMM) level 5 certification; and low pay rates.
HAHAHAHA! We're sure that CMM level 5 is more important than low pay rates! HILARIOUS! (Oh and we have CMM training too)

Folks, it's about $$$. Companies that offshore/outsource/nearshore/whatever don't have to pay those workers as much, pay them benefits (particularly in countries that have universal health-care), and don't involve them in profit-sharing! Keep your eye on the ball and see if you can figure out who profits.

3.22.2005

Where To Start? So many stories without Terri Schiavo in them...

Here? More offshoring on India's way
Well bully for India...

More than 127,000 new offshore outsourced call centre agent positions are likely to be added in India and the Philippines over the coming five years. Several outsource providers are seeing their order books filling up once again with offshore projects destined for India and the Philippines. As per the latest report by the independent market analyst, Datamonitor, both India and the Philippines will see substantial growth in call centres now that US presidential elections are out of the way allowing US and UK businesses to ramp up their offshore operations. Besides the attractions that India and the Philippines offer western firms in terms of low cost access to highly skilled call centre and back-office staff, the two markets will also demonstrate substantial growth in their domestic call centre markets, London-based call centre analyst Ryan Powell predicts. By 2009, close to 100,000 agent positions will be serving the Indian domestic market whilst the Philippines will have 21,600. The US represents the vast majority of overseas demand, followed by the UK.
Yes, and remember there was no one in the US qualified to do those jobs... oh wait: folks here get paid "too much" and then there's the matter of "benefits."

Benefits, entitlements, benefits, entitlements... do you know the difference?

And thanks to Chris & the folks at AmericaBlog for pointing out this one in the Washington Post:

Executives Cash In, Regardless of Performance. To quote Jon Stewart: "Whaa???"
High-profile meltdowns aside, it still pays to be the boss.

Hewlett-Packard Co.'s Carly Fiorina, recently muscled out of her job over lackluster performance, walked away with an exit package worth $42 million. Boeing Co.'s Harry C. Stonecipher, pushed out over an affair with a female employee, nonetheless is eligible for retirement benefits of about $600,000 per year. Franklin D. Raines bowed out under heavy pressure in December following accounting problems at Fannie Mae. But the firm says he is now owed $114,393 per month in pension benefits.

At many other corporations untouched by scandal, pay continues to climb whether performance is great, lousy or middling.

[snip]

Between 1993 and 2002, total compensation paid by all public companies to their top five executives was $260 billion, according to a study by Bebchuk and Cornell University professor Yaniv Grinstein.

From 1993 to 1997, executive pay amounted to 6 percent of total corporate profit, the study said. That number increased to 10 percent of aggregate corporate profit from 1998 to 2002. At companies whose shares are part of the Standard and Poor's 500-stock index, average chief executive pay rose from $3.7 million.
Fantastic! Our CEOs are our most precious resource and should be protected, pampered and taken care of at all costs. Your pregnant wife/sister/sister-in-law (yay!) can do with a little Mercury in their diet because how else would industry pay it's CEOs?

What else did we miss? Oh yeah: GM to slash jobs up to 28%!! And what does that mean?
The automaker could cut as much as 28 percent, in certain areas, from its 38,000 U.S. white-collar workers, The Wall Street Journal reported Monday, citing "industry officials and analysts."
Actually it just means that a few more thousand mommies & daddies can spend quality time with their kids unburdened by nasty jobs and financial stability! That's GM: Strengthening American Families!

More? Sure how about how The Worst California Governor EVER has a bold new plan to take money from Dead folks! Medi-Cal proposals prompt outrage The governor wants to enact emergency rules to boost asset collections (subscription needed)
To the outrage of advocates for the elderly and disabled, the Schwarzenegger administration is trying to declare an emergency so the state can immediately start collecting more of the assets of Medi-Cal recipients after they die.
Federal law requires the state to recoup the cost of Medi-Cal benefits provided to the low-income elderly who die leaving assets, but courts have said California's collection policies are inconsistent.

Now Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger not only wants to expand the types of property the state collects, he wants to do it right away, without a public hearing.In proposed emergency regulations filed last week, officials in the Department of Health Services said they wanted to start seeking repayment from the heirs of Medi-Cal recipients who shelter their homes in life estates. Life estates allow people to transfer ownership of their houses while they are still alive.

Administration officials also said they would start demanding that heirs of Medi-Cal recipients repay the state for the cost of home-care services.

The administration also wants to charge heirs 7 percent interest on the amount owed to the state if they are unable to pay off the entire bill at once.
Now remember folks, this isn't gonna apply to the wealthy? Oh no, thanks to you that silly "death tax" is a thing of the past (maybe)... no, no this applies to the middle-class and the poor. That's right: Schwarzenegger sticking it to you after you die... but at least he can always drop a few lines from his movies when he appears in public! Man, no other governor in the US can say that! How fucking cool is Cali now??

>sigh< we can hardly take it anymore.

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