Saturday, July 12, 2008

Picture of today

What to do, what to do...

Despite the horseshit coming out of Washington, new evidence continues to arrive that shows the United States is beginning to spiral up to Latin American levels of hyperinflation. Today, the lesson comes in the form of our electric bills:

Utilities across the USA are raising power prices up to 29%, mostly to pay for soaring fuel costs, but also to build new plants and refurbish an aging power grid.

Even more dramatic rate increases are ahead. The mounting electric bills will further squeeze households struggling with spiraling gasoline prices.

"Consumers now face a tough reality on electricity," says Mark Cooper of Consumer Federation of America.

Rocco Sacramone, the owner and executive chef at Trattoria L'incontro, a well-regarded Italian restaurant in Queens asks:
"What are we going to do? We're going to pass it on to customers. What else can we do?" he said, adding that that hikes come at a particularly bad time. "My meat prices went up. My fish prices went up. Everything went up."

And that's everyone's answer, starting with the electric companies. Raise prices. Pass the costs along to the customer. And if you are a giant oil or utility company, tack on a whopping windfall profit to make you feel better.

Is it true that there is no other solution? Perhaps not for the struggling restaurateur in Queens, but for large companies making billions in profits?

Would it not be possible for them to take less profit?

Well, no and yes.

In today's political economy, it is not even possible for a company to decrease the rate of profit growth without dire consequences. This is because we have bought into the ideology of Shareholder Value, which posits that the purpose of a company is to enrich its shareholders. It's not like the old days when a family run business could ride out the hard times and emerge stronger. Today, a business must sell out everything for current share price, which is largely dependent on the rate of profit growth. This is what used to be known as a pyramid scheme.

Perhaps that's all fine and good for companies selling widgets, but it makes no good sense whatsoever for a company selling basic public services.

The alternative is government control or strict oversight of essential service providers. That's how it works in the most successful countries. That's how it worked in the United States when we were a successful country. And that's how it will work in the future after this pyramid scheme reaches its inevitable conclusion. The only realistic question is how much damage will be done before the economy is totally wrecked and we have to buy Euros from hustlers on street corners as soon as we get paid in or else we wake up the next day with another pile of worthless paper.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

We've established what she is... (continued)

Senator Barack Obama continues to urge us to pay off Senator Hillary Clinton's campaign debts. Keep in mind that Senator Clinton is a multimillionaire who can easily pay her own debts and still be a multimillionaire. But no, she'd rather you and I ration our beer money and feed the kids macaroni and cheese so that she can regain a smidgen of her pride. Keep in mind, also, that she ran up those debts after she had effectively lost the nomination. She wants you and I to sacrifice for her folly. Or if not you and I, then the wealthy people who might otherwise help other Democratic Party candidates.

Personally, I find it morally monstrous that anyone would give her a dime when the election is in doubt. Or if people are not going to support the black guy no matter what, they should at least help the homeless or some worthy cause if they are in the mood to give.

The fact that Senator Clinton keeps playing these games provides a wonderful demonstration of what a twisted sociopath she has become. That's what I like about her. And that's why I have still not counted her out for the Democratic Party presidential nomination. Even if she loses, I suspect she will not go down without making an ugly scene or three. What price must Obama pay to get her to turn over her delegates? If there is a price, I'm sure we'll find out. And it will be high.

And I pity Senator Obama if he becomes President Obama. Dealing with the Republican dead-enders will be bad enough, but he'll have Senator Clinton in the senate working late nights to thwart his every move.

Then there's the cult she created, Our Women of the Perpetually Aggrieved. It looks like they'll be wailing until the end of days, or at least until Senator Clinton claims her rightful crown.

You have to wonder about how Senator Obama is handling this. I think it's one of those situations where all of the answers have ugly consequences. Nothing he can do will make her go away. Giving her everything she demands would not make her happy and she would never stop increasing her demands. Worse than that, it would make him appear weak. No, it would show that he is weak. If he's that much of a doormat, imagine how he'd handle Iran. He wouldn't just talk to them without preconditions, he'd right them a check without preconditions in the hope that they would talk.

I trust he's better than that. My guess is he'll do whatever he has to to get through the convention and then try to lose the psycho. Of course he can never lose the psycho entirely, but he will try getting as far away as possible so that she can only bite his ankles rather than his jugular.