Capitalism destoyed the American family

I run into many people who live apart from their family and where they grew up.  Lot’s of people face the challenges of caring for their aging parents while living in another place.  Young parents don’t have family nearby to help them with childrearing.  I remember when I was young that my Aunts and Uncles would babysit my sister and I while my parents were away at social functions.

Most people move away from where they grew up to pursue job opportunities.  Sometimes this means moving to another state or country.  The heavy industrial jobs that were once so plentiful in America have moved offshore.  The steel mills and machine shops in the Pittsburgh area are long gone.  These were high-paying jobs that formed the backbone of the middle class in America.  These have been replaced by lower-paying full and part-time service positions.

What drives the shift of work overseas?  In many cases it’s the pursuit of lower cost labor by corporations.  Yes, some would argue that it is the pursuit of new markets, i.e. manufacturing the goods closer to the end users.  However, when you look at the amount of goods that are shipped back to the USA from Asia, you realize that the North American market is still one of the largest markets in the world.

The migration of work overseas has created unprecedented pressure on American families.  No longer can a family survive on a single “bread winner.”  Now both parents must work in order to make ends meet.  When the heavy industrial jobs moved out of the USA, their was a depression in real wages as people were forced to find work in service industries.  In pursuit of higher paying jobs in the USA, people were forced to accept relocation as a means of survival.

The big winners are the corporations.  U.S. government policy has enabled corporations to shift work offshore with little concern for the American worker.  Wages are just one of the factors.  Fringe benefits, once a key component of compensations packages, have been diminished by the move to part-time work.  Companies that employ workers for less than 40 hours per week are permitted offer little or no fringe benefits under US law.

It’s time to bring the jobs back home to the USA.  American workers are among the most productive workers in the world.  It’s time for corporations and our elected officials to recognize that fact and to bring the work back to America.

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Tipping should be banned. Here’s why.

I’ve noticed that there is a growing debate taking place in the USA about tipping.  Should tipping be banned?

Tipping is is the most perverted byproduct of capitalism.  Yes, that’s right capitalism.  Why is it perverted?  The restaurant industry, for example, has created a public mandate that when you go to a restaurant you have to leave a tip for the server.  These are the comments I’ve heard.

“Oh, they don’t make that much, we have to give them a nice tip.”

“Oh, she gave us really good service, let’s leave her a little bigger tip.”

What has happened in America and other western countries is that the capitalists have shifted the payment of employee wages to the customer.  That’s right the customer.  How do you feel about that?  Someone starts a restaurant and they don’t have to pay the servers minimum wage.  Yes, restaurant workers are exempted from most minimum wage laws.  So the restaurant owner, with support from the government, pays the servers sub-minimum wages, and expects the customer to pay the rest through tipping.  What a great business idea.  So what has happened?  The restaurant owner has lowered his wage costs, thereby increasing the profit potential of the restaurant, and passed on to the customer the expectation of making up the wage differential through tipping.  The public has been completed bamboozled into thinking this is perfectly acceptable.

When you go to a bank, do you tip the teller when they give you good service?  How about the department store, do you tip the sales person for helping you select something? No you don’t.  Why not? These people all provide you with good service because it is part of their job to do so.  The same applies to a server in a restaurant.  Their job is to serve the customer.

My proposal is that servers should be paid a “living wage” and we should do away with tipping alltogether. Make the restaurant owner pay the wages of the servers 100%.  In order to attract good people they will have to provide good wages and benefits.  This isn’t going to push any restaurant owner out of the business.  This will create fairness for the customer, fairness for the servers and fairness for the restaurant owner.  Why should restaurants be allowed to pay sub-standard wages when thousands of other businesses are not?

It will also make the working conditions for the servers better.  The server knows they have to provide good service.  Why should they have “hustle” for tips?  The truth is that when something goes wrong with a meal, it is usually the kitchen’s fault, but the server gets the blame and most likely a smaller tip.  That’s not fair!

I think we should ban tipping, pay the servers a living wage, and make the restaurant owners face up to the real cost of running their business.  What are your thoughts on this issue?

Here’s some links to more information on this subject.

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US Tax Revenues

I saw a post from one of my friends the other day, talking about relief for individual taxpayers.  I found the following graph on Wikipedia which shows the percentage of tax revenues from various sources.  It’s interesting the taxes from individuals have remained relatively flat at 40% over the past 60 years.  Tax receipts from corporations, on the other hand, have declined over this same period of time.  Payroll taxes which are partially paid by individuals and partially by corporations have increased dramatically.  Without a doubt individual taxpayers carry the lion’s share of the US tax burden.


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Debating US-China Policy

To read about the presidential candidates bashing Beijing at a Toledo, Ohio town hall meeting is political theater at it’s best.  US policies with China are exactly where the US Chamber of Commerce wants them to be. Free trade with China benefits US companies doing business there and as long as that benefit exists, nothing is going to change.

US companies with manufacturing operations in China benefit from China’s monetary policies in controlling the RMB from rising too much against the US dollar.  The lower cost of importing goods from China adds to the profits of US corporations.  As long as that is the case, nothing will change.

Politicians can bash Beijing all they want.  That’s the public theater to make the American people “think” that something actually might change when in fact, nothing will.  America’s policies toward China do not benefit the American people in the long run.  Oh sure, Americans can buy less costly products because the products are made in China; but in the long run that benefits the corporations more than the people.  Corporations need to keep demand high in order to generate greater profits.  They’ve been able to do that because US policies are tilted in favor of corporations and not American workers.

There has to always be a balance between the needs of Americans and the demands of American corporations.  This is where government has failed the average American.  Unregulated, capitalism is an insidious form of tyranny.


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Don’t blame the 47%

I found the latest ‘gaff’ by republican candidate for president Mitt Romney so misleading that I have to write about it.  This is typical republican rhetoric making ordinary American citizens the scapegoats for the problems in America.

I wonder if Mr. Romney would care to comment on the millions of dollars in agriculture subsidies that go to benefit the big food companies, bio-fuel, beef, poultry, and pork producers.  Why is it that we subsidize the growing of corn in America at prices that are  below the cost to produce it?  These big corporations do not need these indirect handouts from the federal government in order to compete or to be successful.

Mr. Romney should stop complaining about the 47% of American citizens who don’t pay taxes and start talking about cutting back on the unnecessary agricultural subsidies that are distorting market prices and creating additional profits for big corporations.


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Beware the Trans-Pacific-Partnership (TPP)

It’s time to wake up America.  Have you heard of the Trans-Pacific-Partnership?  No neither had I until a friend of mine in Germany brought it to my attention.  And there’s a good reason we haven’t heard so much about it in the USA.  Here are some links that provide some of the details about this murky trade agreement that appears to be moving fast “under the radar” to avoid public scrutiny.

Take action to stop the TPP now!

I found the last link particularly interesting because it was an article published by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, an organization dedicated to free speech and protecting the rights of all internet users.

Be informed.  Read about this issue and then take action.  Write to your elected representatives asking them to hold public hearings on this trade agreement and to stop this agreement from moving forward.


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Re-enact the Glass-Steagall Act

I was really encouraged the other day when I saw an article in the Financial Times reporting that Sandy Weill, former Chairman and CEO of Citigroup commented in a CNBC interview that the big banks should be broken up and that investment banking should be separated from banking.  Hoorah!

First let me say that I have always admired Sanford Weill.  I watched his career with great interest and admiration as I read about this deal making and managerial skills in Fortune Magazine.  And here’s a man who puts his money where his mouth is.  Did you know that in those early days of Citigroup’s demise after the financial sector crashed in late 2008 that he invested more of his own money in Citigroup?  Now that’s commitment.

His comments triggered talk about that vaunted piece of US legislation – The Glass-Steagall Act.  You know the legislation that was passed after the stock market crash of 1929 and that protected our country from another financial meltdown for more than 75 years!  That was of course until a steady barrage of lobbyists from the banking and financial industries got the most stringent provisions repealed around 1995.  That’s when thinks took a major turn for the worse.

That’s when Allen Greenspan thought and commented that the financial markets could regulate themselves.  Hello!  We all see where that kind of thinking has landed us.

So, I’m taking this occasion to call on all Americans to write to their congressmen and ask that the major provisions of the Glass-Steagall Act be re-enacted.  Separate the commercial banks from the investment banks, separate the insurance companies from the investment companies.  Put up the walls between these different entities so this type of financial disaster never happens again.

Read more about Sandy Weill’s comments here:

Also here:

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The Government doesn’t control the Financial Sector

I few years ago a friend of mine who lives and works in Italy told me, “the Italian government does not control Naples.”  That was hard for me to believe, that a government doesn’t control one it’s own major cities.

But as I reflect back on that statement and look at what’s been happening around the world as a result of the financial crises, it makes me ask, “do the world governments really have control of the financial sector?”  I have to say no, they don’t.  In fact it seems to be the other way around, the financial sector has more control over governments.

The way the financial sector has put pressure on the countries in the European Union is unprecedented.  They have been able to put Italy and now Spain “in play” the way they have driven up the rates on their borrowing costs.  I wonder what will happen now that the EU leaders have decided to drop their pursuit of a financial transactions tax.  Will the borrowing rates for these countries return to more reasonable rates?  We’ll have to wait and see.

One thing is certain – the governments of Europe do not control the financial sector.


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Is it Steak or Frankensteak?

Consumers beware.  Another warning about meat glue.  This time consumers may be being duped by restaurants who glue pieces of lesser cuts of meat together to form what looks like a filet; and then selling it as a filet.  Not only is this a deceptive practice, it may pose health concerns.  See for yourself.

Watch the video and you decide.

We are what we eat.  Know what’s in your food before you eat it.

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Now what? – Ractopamine

It’s amazing what you can learn by reading news about what is going on in other countries.  I saw an article about the Taiwanese protesting against the importing of American meat.  At the heart of the protests is the fact that the meat (pork and beef) comes from animals that have been fed the supplement Ractopamine.

So what is Ractopamine?  Well check out the following link for the details. 

What I find interesting is: I didn’t know American cattle and hogs were being fed this stuff.  Have you noticed that pork is a lot leaner these days than say 20 or 30 years ago?  Did you ever wonder why?  Well it seems that Ractopamine has a lot to do with that.

The stuff is controversial.  Read this article to see for yourself.  It seems that is hard on the livestock.  This is another negative consequence of industrialized food production. and the food industry’s zeal for profits over food safety.

Hey, I don’t know if the stuff is good or bad.  I never heard of the stuff before I read an article about Tawain banning the import of US meat meat containing the substance.  All I know is that meat from animals that have been fed Ractopamine is banned in the European Union, China, and Taiwan.  We are what we eat.  Be informed.  Know what’s in your food – before you eat it.


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