4.22.2005

Catching Up

Folks, we here at Outsourced America all to often these days face a problem: do we just give you the bullet a la Buzzflash & the Hamster? Do we pick one story a day and go to town like Brandoland? Or do a bunch of little ones everyday like Atrios? Lately it just seems like there's too much out there to really help put it all together... so here's a collection of things we think might have been missed + plus our song of the week at the end (a special dedication this week!)

Wal-Mart: the $288 billion welfare queen

Wal-Mart is the sort of company for which superlatives were invented. Just named the number-one corporation on the Fortune 500 list for the fourth year in a row, the country's largest private employer pulled down roughly $288 billion in revenue last year - and over $10 billion in pure profit.

[snip]

As states across the country struggle to balance budgets and keep their Medicaid programs in check, data from Florida and 12 other states show Wal-Mart to be a top corporate beneficiary of state-run, taxpayer-funded programs like Medicaid.

That is, the retail behemoth deliberately cuts corners on employee health care, forcing a disproportionate number of its employees into state programs in order to receive health care for themselves and their families
.
No kidding? Wonder how they give such "great" deals... they do it by screwing their employees.

Kos puts some more pieces of the Wal-Mart picture together & how it effects us all: GM loss, Wal-Mart, and universal health care and makes the brilliant observation we've been telling folks for months:
GM and Wal-Mart can be potent allies in a new (and this time successful) push for universal health care. It would be the ultimate corporate welfare, instantly adding billions to the bottom line of American businesses, yet at the same time helping insure the entire nation.
See, you'll get universal health-care when Big Business tell the Insurance companies & for-profit health-care providers to shove it.

And that may come sooner rather than later in An economy going nowhere!
Economic fundamentals haven't changed much in the past few months. The dollar has been weak for more than a year, the worsening trade imbalance is an old story, and oil prices have been high for months. So why the big dip last week?

[snip]

The economy has been vulnerable for some time. The recovery has been built on government borrowing at a rate that can't continue. More troublesome, a rising share of this borrowing comes from overseas. That puts pressure on the Fed to keep interest rates higher than it otherwise might to keep the foreign lenders on board and keep the dollar from sinking even lower.

Job creation and job quality have also been weakening. Although the measured unemployment is officially a decent 5.2 percent, the fraction of workers who have given up looking for jobs keeps rising, as does the percentage of long-term unemployed. And worker pay is sagging.

[snip]

We last went through a serious bout of ''stagflation" in the late 1970s. That is a condition that isn't supposed to exist in economic theory -- rising prices and rising unemployment at the same time. That inflation was triggered by high oil prices. For several years, the Federal Reserve's cure of very high interest rates worsened the disease, since the high interest rates added to consumer financing costs and also pummeled business. Inflation was eventually wrung out of the economy, and the long boom of the 1990s and that era's high-flying stock market were both built on steadily declining interest rates and well-behaved oil prices.

No longer. And now there's a new factor: the arrival of China and India as major players. On the one hand, consumers benefit from inexpensive imported products. On the other hand, American workers have trouble competing at the going wage, and earnings are battered down.

The latest wrinkle is that China and India are adding to worldwide demand for raw materials -- oil, but also steel, timber, and all the other ingredients of an advanced economy. The result is that oil prices and other commodity prices are likely to stay high and even rising for the foreseeable future. That adds to consumer costs, shows up in inflation statistics, and prompts the Fed to hike interest rates.
So thanks Big Business for helping our competitors out! See, you might enjoy short-term profits but long term? You're hurting our economy and with folks like the "Christian" right trying to dumb down our kids by attacking the fundamentals of science... well, let's just say we aren't too hopeful that your kids will be able to compete in the global economy.

See this competition with India & China? Not going away. Only going to intensify. And what are "we" doing? Cutting taxes for the wealthy and thus under-funding for schools and programs to help our kids and workers compete. We fear the American Century may have ended...

And just one question: How Rich is Too Rich For Democracy?
Since the so-called "Reagan revolution" more than cut in half the income taxes the multimillionaires and billionaires among us pay, wealth has concentrated in America in ways not seen since the era of the Robber Barons, or, before that, pre-revolutionary colonial times. At the same time, poverty has exploded and the middle class is under economic siege.

And now come the oligarchs - the most wealthy and powerful families of America - lobbying Congress that they should retain their stupefying levels of wealth and the power it brings, generation after generation. They say that democracy doesn't require a strong middle class, and that Jefferson was wrong when he said that "overgrown wealth" could be "dangerous to the State." They say that a permanent, hereditary, aristocratically rich ruling class is actually a good thing for the stability of society.
More there about how the Founding Fathers really were looking out for us... give it a read.

More soon on new plans to tax us by the mile soon & to screw hybrid owners that don't consume tons of gas and therefore "don't pay their fair share of the gas tax"(???), but for now our song of the week... a dedication to Tom Delay: I Think I Smell A Rat by The White Stripes
Oh I think I smell a rat
I think I smell a rat
all you little kids
seem to think you know
just where it's at
I think I smell a rat
walking down the street
carrying a baseball bat
I think I smell a rat

Oh I think I smell a rat
I think I smell a rat
all you little kids
seem to think you know
just where is at
I think I smell a rat
treating your mother and father
like a welcome mat
I think I smell a rat

Rock & Roll!!

4.20.2005

Good Luck Folks...

Well the Bankruptcy bill went through and is now on it's way to Bush to sign so it's official: Corporations now have more rights and protections than you do!

Americans weighed down by credit card bills and other financial obligations will have a harder time wiping out their debt under a bankruptcy bill President Bush is poised to sign.
Lovely: the article starts with the canard that folks go into bankruptcy because of credit card debt. >sigh< Most are apparently due to medical bills & divorce.

Many debtors will have to work out repayment plans instead of having their obligations erased in bankruptcy court under the law, which will go into effect six months after Bush signs it Wednesday. The legislation is the biggest rewrite of the bankruptcy code in a quarter-century and was pushed for eight years by banks and credit card companies.
Gee, wonder why? And we wonder why every other ad on talk radio, during the morning news or on SPIKE TV is for credit debt consolidations?

The bill got final congressional approval last Thursday, and Bush said he was eager to sign it. "These commonsense reforms will make the system stronger and better so that more Americans — especially lower-income Americans — have greater access to credit," he said.
Yes, that's our president: always eager to stick it to the American people who just aren't paying attention.

Something else to note: the 10 States with the highest rates of folks declaring bankruptcy? Solidly 'red' ones.

Good luck out there folks because it is increasingly obvious that no one is looking out for you.

4.19.2005

Help Save the Energy Companies of America

Please sir, can't you spare some change help our Poor American Energy Companies?

The House this week will consider $8 billion in tax breaks targeted to the energy industry at a time when some of those companies are enjoying soaring profits from high consumer prices.

The vast majority of the tax breaks would benefit companies that produce and supply traditional forms of energy, with a large portion going to the oil and natural gas sector.
Oh... apparently you can. Lovely.

This paragraph, however, has us really confused:
Dana M. Perino, a White House spokeswoman, would not comment on the House measure but referred to comments made by President Bush last week. "I will tell you with $55 oil we don't need incentives to oil and gas companies to explore," Bush said in a speech to newspaper editors in Washington. "There are plenty of incentives. What we need is to put a strategy in place that will help this country over time become less dependent."
Wha-huh? Clearly this is the Bizarro-Bush White House so... we're still so confused.

We also recommend using iPodder to download Monday's (4/18) To The Point about "Neo-cons, Environmentalists and Plug-in Hybrids"... fascinating.

4.17.2005

Thomas Jefferson On Religion

Why did Thomas Jefferson hate America so?

I may grow rich by an art I am compelled to follow; I may recover health by medicines I am compelled to take against my own judgment; but I cannot be saved by a worship I disbelieve and abhor. (Thomas Jefferson, notes for a speech, c. 1776. From Gorton Carruth and Eugene Ehrlich, eds., The Harper Book of American Quotations, New York: Harper & Row, 1988, p. 498.)

Subject opinion to coercion: whom will you make your inquisitors? Fallible men; men governed by bad passions, by private as well as public reasons. And why subject it to coercion? To produce uniformity. But is uniformity of opinion desirable? No more than of face and stature. (Thomas Jefferson, Notes on Virginia, 1782; from George Seldes, ed., The Great Quotations, Secaucus, New Jersey: Citadel Press, 1983, p. 363)

Is uniformity attainable? Millions of innocent men, women, and children, since the introduction of Christianity, have been burnt, tortured, fined, imprisoned; yet we have not advanced one inch towards uniformity. What has been the effect of coercion? To make one half the world fools and the other half hypocrites. To support roguery and error all over the earth. (Thomas Jefferson, Notes on Virginia, 1782; from George Seldes, ed., The Great Quotations, Secaucus, New Jersey: Citadel Press, 1983, p. 363.)

No man complains of his neighbor for ill management of his affairs, for an error in sowing his land, or marrying his daughter, for consuming his substance in taverns ... in all these he has liberty; but if he does not frequent the church, or then conform in ceremonies, there is an immediate uproar. (Thomas Jefferson, Notes on Virginia, 1782; from George Seldes, ed., The Great Quotations, Secaucus, New Jersey: Citadel Press, 1983, p. 364.)

"The legitimate powers of government, extend to such acts only as are injurious to others. But it does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods, or no God. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg." (Edwin S. Gaustad, Faith of Our Fathers: Religion and the New Nation, San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1987, pp. 42-43. )

I am for freedom of religion and against all maneuvers to bring about a legal ascendancy of one sect over another. (Thomas Jefferson, letter to Elbridge Gerry, January 26, 1799. From Gorton Carruth and Eugene Ehrlich, eds., The Harper Book of American Quotations, New York: Harper & Row, 1988, p. 499.)

I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibit the free exercise thereof, thus building a wall of separation between church and state. (Thomas Jefferson, as President, in a letter to the Baptists of Danbury, Connecticut, 1802; from George Seldes, ed., The Great Quotations, Secaucus, New Jersey: Citadel Press, 1983, p. 369)

I will never, by any word or act, bow to the shrine of intolerance, or admit a right of inquiry into the religious opinions of others. (Thomas Jefferson, letter to Edward Dowse, April 19, 1803. From Gorton Carruth and Eugene Ehrlich, eds., The Harper Book of American Quotations, New York: Harper & Row, 1988, p. 499.)

And here's one we wish the so-called "conservatives" in Congress would remember:
All, too, will bear in mind this sacred principle, that though the will of the majority is in all cases to prevail, that will, to be rightful, must be reasonable; that the minority possess their equal rights, which equal laws must protect, and to violate which would be oppression. (Thomas Jefferson, "First Inaugural Address," March 4, 1801; from George Seldes, ed., The Great Quotations, Secaucus, New Jersey: Citadel Press, 1983, p. 364.)
Commie. More here.

Theocracy Rising

Good editorial in the Washington Post today:Beyond the Pale

SENATE MAJORITY Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) plans to participate next weekend in a telecast sponsored by a conservative interest group that seeks to end the use of filibusters for judicial nominations. The Family Research Council bills what it terms "Justice Sunday" as "a live simulcast to engage values voters in the all-important issue of reining in our out-of-control courts." The group claims that President Bush's judicial nominees "are being blocked because they are people of faith and moral conviction" and says, "We must stop this unprecedented filibuster of people of faith."

Mr. Frist is not responsible for the rhetoric of others. But it will be a distressing new low in the debased debate over judges if the Senate leader appears at an event predicated on slander, unless he makes clear that he does not condone such slander. Whatever one says about the aggressive Democratic use of the filibuster -- which we do not support -- it simply is not motivated by anti-religious sentiment. There are people of faith and goodwill on both sides of the issue. If he attends, Mr. Frist should make clear that he knows as much.
Good times, good times.

Some interesting thought in this post over at AmericaBlog.

We 2nd Brando's prayer: We wish "the rapture" would just get here so we can all get on with our lives.

Max Speak, You Listen!

Knocking down the Myths of the 'Death Tax' (what we call the Paris Hilton Tax), Max makes many, many good points including:

1. The event that triggers the tax is NOT death. "Death tax" is a politically-interested misnomer. Most who die (98%) pay no such tax. The occasion for the tax is the transfer of a large amount of wealth. That's why it is called "The Estate and Gift Tax."

...

3. Estate taxation IS NOT double-taxation. Much of the income accumulated in estates has NEVER been taxed. This includes appreciation in the value of financial assets, unincorporated businesses, and farms held until death. Even so, double taxation is not exactly unknown. If they don't like double-taxation, why don't the wingnuts campaign for the abolition of the sales tax? It taxes the use of income that has already been taxed. I think I know why.
Hmmm, why do the Rich hate America so?