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Tuesday, March 08, 2005

The Ebbers Circus

Has anyone else been following the Ebbers trial? I've tried to follow as much as I can, but it seems that the only thing you have heard is only sensational items. Koslowski we heard about, but not too much about Ebbers.

What interests me is their (Ebbers, Kozlowski, Lay, Sullivan, etc.) mind set. Having dealt with these people most of my career it amazes me that it took so long for the "wheel" to come around. I wonder how their parents raised them that they felt that they had some inalienable right to more then their fair share. Believe me, if these people saw people starving they wouldn't go out of their way unless there was a benefit for themselves. GE's Jack Welch use to answer critics whenever they questioned his methods to increasing the share values of GE stock (mass lay-offs that caused other employees to have to take on additional workloads, etc.) by saying that he was doing it as a benefit top the shareholders, that they expected him to do those things. At this point he'd always hide behind widows and orphans who he said were the shareholders. Never mind that for every $1 increase the average shareholder received, Ole Benevolent Jack got $10. A real philanthropist Jack was. I still believe that Jack, even though he's retired, would have sold his own mother if:
  1. She was still alive.
  2. He got the right price.

I don't know if any of the prosecutors in any of the corporate scandal cases will or have proved their cases or not, but I know these guys are guilty. You'll never find any memos, letters, or other documents that they wrote that their intentions were to steal, pilfer, or scam money that wasn't theirs...but in their minds they believed they deserved. You'd have to enter a time machine and go back to actually see their attitudes, conversations, and actions to know them for what they really are. Trust me when I tell you that what came out over the Enron, Worldcomm, Global Crossing scandals wasn't anything new. This has been going on since Reagan gave corporations free reign in the 80's. It's just that these guys got too greedy. To the point where a reasonable man couldn't ignore it. The government HAD to do something...even half-heartily.

Did anyone else notice that the ONLY person that the government went after with both feet was Martha Stewart? Probably because she never donated a substantial amount of money to any politician. So she wasn't a financial threat to them if they went after her. And if you ever question your representative's lack of definitive action on then government's part regarding these corporate scandals, I will bet ANY amount of money that they will disagree with you and cite Martha Stewart as a support of their actions.

Lastly, let me make one final point pertaining to Enron. The Board of Directors were either criminally negligent or criminally stupid. And I make this point based on watching the Congressional Hearings with the board members testifying.

I hope and pray that all of those people involved in the thefts are found guilty and are given substantial prison terms. But that's not enough. To steal an idea from that World-Class Comedian, Lewis Black, they should all given electroshock treatment each and every day of their prison sentence...IF they even get any.

Saturday, March 05, 2005

America's Aristocracy

This ia another article that I had published on the original Rant Place page back in 1998. Read this article and let me know if you feel that the attitude that I present here still applies to our elected officials. A couple of major changes from when this article was first published on the Net is that a) the underground bunker has been exposed and is no longer set aside for its originally intended purpose, and b) Christine Whitman is no longer Governor of New Jersey. But before we get to the article, I have one question......

Is it just me or does anyone else notice that even when a Senator retires from office, they are still called "Senator"? They're no longer in the Senate so why should they still be called Seantor??

But, onto the article:

Self Proclaimed Royalty!

So, what could I be referring to here? America's super-rich? Nope. Our elected officials.
Elected officials. That seems to be something they always forget until it comes time for re-election. Then they cater to us and tell us everything we want to hear. They play us like finer-tuned instruments. But in reality, they treat us like mushroom....feed us BS and keep us in the dark.
What brought this rant on from me?? I happened to catch a small segment of a TV show this weekend. The show aired on A&E and they dealt with the bunker that was built in the '50 under The Fairchild (some premier, top-level hotel/resot near Washington DC). This bunker was built during the Cold War and was intended to house Congress and other members of government. I started to think.....Hell, if we had a major nuclear war I could think of quite a few other people that I would like to see housed in that bunker; and none of them would be politicians or bureaucrats. Let's face it, if anything that drastic happened, whoever was left COULD ELECT NEW OFFICIALS. Isn't that what democracy is about? But doctors, nurses, construction engineers....those you can't elect. They all have ACTUAL talents that could be put to use after a nuclear holocaust. I kept thinking to myself how presumptuous they (Congress at the time)to think that THEY deserved to be saved. If a nuclear holocaust had occurred, it would more than likely have been caused by either their actions or inactions.
Is the current Congress any different?
Nope!! I don't think so. I think that their attitude has gotten worse. Has anyone ever listened to any of the TV shows where Congressional representatives answer questions of people who call in? I know, some of you are like me....it only annoys me to listen to them. But take the time and really listen to them. Listen to their tones and the words they choose. Most of the time the answers they give are no clearer than before. But I've listened and I've heard the patronizing tones the simplistic phrases that are used. Like they are talking to children who are too stupid to understand. That THEY (the Congress) are much more intelligent, so people should worry their "little heads" about all that Congress-stuff....that THEY will take care of US. I always wonder....when did WE start working for THEM?
We had an incident recently here in NJ that pretty much drove that idea home. We had an election for governor. Well, anyone who knows me and has communicated with me knows that I refer to our Gov. Whitman as "Her Ladyship". Why? Because the attitude that I described in the previous paragraph fits HER to a T! She knows what's good for us and doesn't feel that we should have any control over her nor does she feel she is accountable to the citizens of NJ. Well, back to the elections. She won by the slimest of margins. Now, you would think that she would be concerned this? That this would send her a message that many people aren't happy with her job performance. Nope! Does she acknowledge the close election results? Does she look to the people of NJ to find out what they are looking for from her? No to both. Her acceptance speech painted such a rosy picture of her and her administration. She attributed her slim margin to the fact that there were more of the "smarter people" who weren't swayed by her opponents nor their campaigns. What I got out of her speech was that those of us who didn't vote for her were stupid, not worth her time, and were to be discounted. All she's ever done is put money in her friends' pockets and helped her political allies at the expense of the citizens of NJ. I pray to God that "Her Ladyship" never gets a national office.
So? What's the answer?
Well, no matter what any of the Aristocracy say, our form of governement is still the most successful in the world. It is unfortunate that the new aristocracy has bastardized it so much so that they can get the lion's share of the benefits exclusively for themselves. The answer is the standard answer that we have all heard all of the time. VOTE! When we don't vote, they win. They present the stats that show that less than half vote in the general elections. They use that to justify their actions. They say that the people don't care. That if people cared, they'd vote. So, they cater to the special interests....those that can put money in their pockets, assure them of re-election, offer them a cushy job after they leave "public office" (except for the actual re-election year). Wouldn't ANY of you want even a fraction of what they reserve for themselves??

Played for Fools

That's what happens to us in the middle. You know, the middle between being so poor that the Liberals bend over backwards to cater to us and being so rich that the Conservatives bend over backwards to cater to us. Remember, the poverety-striken are the Liberal's powerbase and the rich are the Conservative's powerbase. As long as the poverty-striken are kept poor and that Liberals can make them promises of free give-aways (because if they weren't poverty-striken anymore, they wouldn't need the give-aways), the Liberals increase their chances of re-election; and this holds true for the Conservatives. As much as the rest of us are viewed as their "subjects", these groups are viewed as their "loyal subjects".

Sucking on the Teat of Society

Below is an artcile that I had originally published on the very first Rant Place page back in 1996. I believed that it was very relavent back then and in the light of recent corporate state of affairs (Enron, Worldcomm, etc.), I believe that it is still relavent. Even though we would like to believe that things have changed regarding America's corporations, they really haven't. We, as a people, are still the "fodder" for their profits and the corporate execusitve really don't care about anyone else other then themselves. So, without further adeiu.......

Corporate Irresponsibility


There are so many things that I find annoying that I needed to focus on one thing. That one thing is the total disregard that corporations are conducting their business.
Look at any newspaper, on any given day, and you'll find somewhere written about corporations and downsizing, rightsizing, or whatever PR words they're using that day. It always amazes me whenever a spokesperson talks about the corporation they refer to it as a living entity, expecting all the rights and priviledges that are bestowed on us citizens. However, they do NOT expect to be placed under the same obligations asthe rest of us. When was the last time you heard that a corporation was drafted to serve in the armed forces? Serve on jury duty? BUT, when they hear about "their" taxes going up, they will scream and threaten to shut "their" operations in the area dowprotect them.
Wouldn't it be nice if the government would send in the Marines whenever a US citizen called for them?? Yes, it is definitely one-sided. With all the downsizing/rightsizing going on, why don't we hear about some of the overpaid executives' jobs being eliminated? Why don't we ship their jobs overseas? You hear about people's jobs being shipped overseas because the labor is cheaper and then we know that the Japanese can manage corproations better. Why don't corporations ship the executive jobs to Japan?
I've always wondered what the corporate executives do to warrant such high salaries that go up into the millions. What service or value to they add to the product being sold? Are they more important than the assembly worker, the engineer, the office supCan you vote them out? Probably not. None of us "little people" own enough stock on our own or carry enough influence to sway from the path that the board has already decided.
Why aren't the corporations required to be "good citizens"? They expect the same service as we do. We, as citizens, are expected to "do our fair share". Maybe it's time that the corporations, and mainly the actual people behind the facade, be held accountable for their actions and decisions.
How many people remember these wonderful corporate gems:

  • General Electric "buy-out" of RCA. I wonder who the winners and losers were?
  • All the different defense corporation mergers, etc. Too many to list here!
  • Anyone remember the insurance companies' reaction to NJ State going to have them account for the manner in which they establish their rates? They threatened to stop doing business in the State of NJ!
  • Bell Atlantic and NYNEX merging. Did I hear someone say no jobs were to be lost?? I think someone should tell the 200+ people whose jobs will be eliminated.

As more coporations move their operations overseas and they desert the US, all the while expecting the same support from the government as before, they should lose their registration as a US corporation when their percentage of overseas operations exceeds 15%. Now that would be an interesting concept. It'll never happen, though. The powers to be in Washington will never agree to this....they're looking for their next job after they leave office. Gee, and guess where they'll end up? You got it!! On the board of one of the coporations.

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