Friday, March 30, 2007

Lou Dobbs is Right

Lou Dobbs has been arguing for awhile now about the fact that there has been a war declared on the working class in America. Consider what has happened within just the last few days:

Headline from Wednesday's Boston Globe: FIDELITY INVESTMENTS TO END PENSION PROGRAM. Isn't Fidelity the company that advertises (or used to) "Let Us Manage Your Retirement." 401K Plans are fine, up to a point, if some little old lady wants to spend her retirement years poring over investment portfolios and mutual fund brochures, but a 401K Plan is no subsitute for a fixed pension plan. The fact is, a 401K is similar to gambling in a Keno Hall in Las Vegas, hoping against all kinds of odds that the 'right' combinations of funds come up. Pension plans provide a certain stability and piece of mind knowing just how much money you'll have coming in on any given month, which allows you TO MAKE PLANS on how to spend or save the money.

The middle class is being asked, yet again, to manage their own investment risks, and when a compamy like Fidelity offers around 3000 mutual fund plans, that's like asking people to go out and get a degree in Finance before they retire.

The other news item from a few days ago concerns Circuit City. They've announced that they will be laying off all their 'high-paying' employees (25K of more?) and replacing them with new hires, to save money. So the next time you go to Circuit City, you'll be greeted by a store full of newbies who haven't a clue what they are doing or where anything is, or even if the store carries that item. But the more important question is - if you take a job there, are you supposed to 'give it your best' so you can get a 'decent' raise and if you get one, is your job now at risk because you make 'too much' money?

The third item comes from NBC News that reported the other day about the skyrocketing foreclosure rate in the Cleveland, Ohio area due to 'high-risk' mortgage holders, like ARMS are going under. On the one hand, ot os easy to say 'caveat emptor' to anyone who would sign onto one of these loans without reading the fine print, but let's be realistic here as well. With the 'average' home price in the US running around $300K, it is extremely difficult for any middle class family to scrape up $60K for the 20% downpayment on a traditional mortgage and many lenders know this, of course, and thus they came up with the 'no money down', 'no interest', ARMs, to turn lower income people into homeowners. But one slight problem like LOSS or CHANGE in income can mean keeping a hosue or losing it.

Its a well known fact that the GOP has had it out for unions, a raise in the minimum wage and a proponent of 'globalization', which in today's terms means, "My job has gone to India, now I have none". But if they really were proponents of 'family values' as they seem to ahve been when they welcome in all the illegal aliens, then surely they must understand that a stable future, a stable family life and a stable homeownership, starts with a stable, decent paying job. And if employers want dedicated workers, they had better start offering their workers incentives. to do a decent job.

And in yet another, bone headed outsourcing scandal that puts the country's defenses at risk, is the fining of $10B to ITT selling defense secrets to the Chinese and other countries, because they outsourced workers to 'save money'.

And one last item - I am working with a 'well known' temp agency, who keeps providing ME with contact numbers and expecting ME to do their work. And if *I* get the job, I'll get paid $10/hr while they will get paid $50/hr. One office contacts me, the others CLAIM they can't reach me. If one can, they all can, the same number is in their database.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Another stupid law

I heard yesterday on the news that a town in Southern California wants to ban smoking in apartment buildings when a neighbor complains. As a Libertarian, I think these anti-smoking laws are all absurd. Portland, ME, has made it a crime for you to smoke a cigarette in your own private vehicle, if a child is oresent who is under 5. A town in Massachusetts is considering the same thing. There are also ordinances on the books that prohibit smoking in public areas such as parks

Let me just say from the outset, that I quit smoking a year and a half ago as of April 1, so I have been truly on both sides of the aisle on this issue, and my opinion has changed that we should stop persecuting people who buying a legal product. In fact, if anything, I am truly a confirmed non-smoker now, as I was walking home a few weeks ago and I found an open pack of cigarettes on the ground (not my brand). As luck would have it, I was carrying a lighter on me, as I had been rummaging through my 'top drawer' (everybody has one) and I found a few lighters and decided to bring it to Braintree to light candles, so we won't have to rummage for matches. So I said to myself "Why not?" to bring back the memories of when I walked and smoked. Two puffs, and only two puffs, is all it took before I wanted to vomit. All I did was gag. Hard to believe I was a pack a day smoker for 33 years. Now I am a confirmed non-smoker.

Bur nonetheless, if states and federal governments were REALLY interested in healthm why don't they just BAN tobacco? When Firestone had exploding tires, weren' the tires recalled? Isn't asbestos, Agent Orange, cancer causing compounds banned from production in the US? How about DDT and Freon, since it harms the ozane layer. We've known that tobacco is harmful since the Surgeon General's warning was put on them in 1964, so why are the tobacco compaies STILL allowed to producr them. Hell, they've ADMITTED that they add chemicals in a deliberate attempt to make them more addicting and they market to children. And yet senior citizen's cannot get drugs that could save their lives from Canada, because the FDA 'isn't sure' of their safety? And speaking of children, would these laws ever have a chance of passage if politicians didn't drag in the 'its to protect the children' argument. Wouldn't people just take the view that 'its my car, my property' and if I want to smoke in it, its my right?

And what happems if you OWN a condo in a building where the neighbors complain? Will 'common areas' such as air-conditioning ducts, trump home-owner ship rights in America? And what if you have a neighbor who justs wants to be an asshole and he knows you smoke?

Here are more reasons why tobacco should be banned - sattes will be forced to stop 'selectively' taxing certain groups of citizens because smoking is considered a 'sin', but for years alcoholics have been getting a free ride on that score for years. RJ Reynolds ahs other things it can sell, like coffee, (Maxwell House, I think). Make smoking patches free to everyone who wants one. Don't worry 'bouut RJ Reynolds, it could still market to children in China and India. China has about 300 million smokers, a tobacco company's dream come true.

Legislatures everywhere can concentrate on where to fix roads, bridges, build schools, etc. rather spending countless hours on where next to ban smoking, and what new ways they can abuse purchasers of legal products. Do they harass YOU for buying an exploding Firestone tire? No, they went after the producers and made them replace them with safe tires. Sounds like common sense to me. But please, we have more serious issues facing the nation, like the 2 TRILLION dolalr estimate for the Iraq War by 2010. Let's bring back sanity and end the stupidity.


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