Friday, March 26, 2010

Giving Legitimacy to Hate

The faculty of attention has utterly vanished from the Anglo-Saxon mind, extinguished at its source by the big bayadère of journalism, of the newspaper and the picture magazine which keeps screaming, "Look at me." Illustrations, loud simplifications... bill poster advertising - only these stand a chance. ~Henry James

This is the front page of the Washington Post this morning:

Small President Obama, BIG teapartier, on the morning after an event of historic proportions--an event pulled off IN SPITE of the tea partiers, not because of them, and yet the tea party guy gets center stage. (Don't look, Mrs. Graham.  It's not a pretty sight.)   

The online link to the teapartier story has a lovely photo gallery on those nice people and the efforts they go through in order to make their voices heard:

I'm all for public dissent.  I wish we would have seen more of it during the Bush years.  I wish we would have seen ANY of it during the Reagan years.  But for the Washington Post to relegate the president's picture to a small square at the top of the page after an historic achievement in order to highlight the dissenters who are off to join the crazies is tabloid journalism at best and reckless anointing of the fringe elements at worst.

WaPo staff writer Eli Saslow followed a man named Randy Millam as he prepared his protest sign on his kitchen table and drove his "muddy Ford Fusion 50 miles across the cornfields" to Iowa City, where President Obama was scheduled to speak.  Two years before, Millam lost his job as an assembly-line worker at Kraft Foods, and he was angry.

"Millam's resolve Thursday was reinforced by the sense that he was taking part in a movement -- a rising tide of anger, fear and vitriol in the wake of the health-care overhaul signed into law by Obama this week. Millam joined a chorus of discontent surrounding the president's visit: a warm-up protest Wednesday night, a greeting party of protesters waiting at the airport and hundreds more with plans to chant outside the downtown arena while Obama spoke. In the hours before he left for Iowa City, Millam watched reports on Fox News Channel about vandalism at Democratic offices and visited a Web site of the conservative "tea party" movement, where he was inspired by a Thomas Jefferson quote about how bloodshed might be necessary to protect a country from tyranny.
"I'm not ready for outright violence yet. We have to be civil for as long as we can," Millam said. But, he added, "we are watching the infrastructure of this country crumble under our feet. The government doesn't want to hear us. We have to make them listen."

Mr. Saslow apparently never got around to asking Mr. Millam how exactly he would go about "making them listen". When you're writing a feel-good story you want your readers to feel good. The jolly Mr. Millam is just a'jawin' when he mentions the Jefferson quote (The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants). It's all in fun.

"'The president just about declared war against the American people last weekend,' [Millam] said. And it is a war Millam intends to fight."

Hey, Eli!  Did you even read your own piece?  The guy is giving you signals, and you're not picking up.   His anger over not having a job is legit.  Boy, can we all relate. (Those Bush years were doozies.)  But by giving him and his buddies everyman status, heroes of the people, out to right a wrong by any means necessary, you've given them license to do damage.

Where was the other side in that article?   Here:

"By now a group of about 200 Obama supporters had stopped to watch and listen, congregating across the street from the protesters. Seven police officers stood in the middle of the road, monitoring both sides. On one sidewalk: Obama T-shirts, health-care-reform advocates, and students from the University of Iowa, one of whom held a sign inviting Obama to join him at a local bar for Thursday night's $1 you-call-it drink special."

And here:

"Finally, one student walked across. He wore dark sunglasses and carried a poster-board sign, made moments earlier. It read: "These People are Idiots." He stood with the protesters, his sign mocking them, while he listened to an iPod."

Memo to WaPo Front Page editor:   You missed the big news.  The big news is that American health care just took a baby step toward actual reform.  You might be bored with it, it's been going on for so long, but trust me, the millions without adequate health care can't get enough of it.


Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Fear and Loathing - Part 2 - Rachel Maddow takes them on

This is important enough to add an addendum to yesterday's post.  Rachel has once again done her homework and takes a scathing look at the fear-mongering tactics on the right.  It's chilling.  Here is the segment from Rachel's program last night, in case you didn't see it:

This is the link.  Share it with everyone you've ever cared about.


Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Fear and Loathing - The New American Vision

At some point, we have to decide as a country that we just can’t have this: We can’t allow ourselves to remain silent as foaming-at-the-mouth protesters scream the vilest of epithets at members of Congress — epithets that The Times will not allow me to repeat here.
It is 2010, which means it is way past time for decent Americans to rise up against this kind of garbage, to fight it aggressively wherever it appears. And it is time for every American of good will to hold the Republican Party accountable for its role in tolerating, shielding and encouraging foul, mean-spirited and bigoted behavior in its ranks and among its strongest supporters.    

Bob Herbert, NYT, 3/23/10

 Honestly, unless you've been monitoring the ticking time bomb that is the far-right media in recent days, you probably don't appreciate how frighteningly possible that cultish scenario has become, as the GOP Noise Machine, led by Fox News, publicly suffers a nervous breakdown. It's a mental and emotional collapse that's been advertised in recent days as cablers, radio talkers, and right-wing bloggers have reached for increasingly hysterical, often blood-curdling rhetoric to describe the irreversible atrocity -- an incurable, metastasizing malignancy!! -- that's about to seize and destroy the United States in the form of a bill to expand health care coverage.

Eric Boehlert, Media Matters, 3/23/10

Okay, I'm getting scared now.  I've been a political junkie ever since Adlai Stevenson lost to Ike for the second time in a row.  I wasn't even old enough to vote, but I cried my eyes out as much as if I'd been watching my best friend go down for the count.  I've followed politics all my adult life, sometimes rabidly, sometimes just out of the corner of my eye, but I can safely say I have never seen anything like this monumental 15-month temper tantrum egged on and cheered on by the Republican party and, yes, the mainstream media.

Are the crazies really in the majority?  Are they so powerful these days that what we're seeing--the vicious, frothing attacks on care for the poor and the sick, on blacks, on gays, on disabled protesters, on 11-year-old grieving kids--is now the American norm?

From the coverage bombarding us, it would seem that way.  The rabid crazies are being fed their favorite dish--publicity--and, gluttons that they are, they're eating it up and going after more.  They understand how it works--in order to get more they have to give more, which means that each time they're out there in front of the cameras they have to step up the action.  More hate!  More fear!  Louder!  Louder!

This is what the media have never understood--their complicity in all of this.  They're feeding these monsters, goading them, energizing them, when the way to starve them out of existence is to simply ignore their cries for more. 

Where are the signs of support for real reform in this country?  Nowhere to be seen.  The SEIU (Service Employees International Union), on their Labor's Lens page, highlights numerous demonstrations, protests and vigils by union members and supporters.  I had to go to their pages to find them. I didn't see them anywhere else.

As I write this, President Obama is signing into law the beginnings of health care reform.  With our help, he'll be able to strengthen it and give it some real teeth.  Our patience is at the limit because the need is so urgent, but there is urgency in putting our support behind our leaders now.  It's the only way to counter the factions so desperate to take down this president they're willing to destroy any chance for millions of Americans to receive adequate health care.

If we're ever going to bring our vision of America back, we have to vanquish those who are standing in the way of repairing and nurturing our country.  We have the power to do that by exposing them for what they are.  They do not represent our America--not now, now ever.

Pass it on.


Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Integrity, you out there? Is Honesty with you? Gonna be Gone Long?

Yesterday morning I heard Dick Armey tell Kiran Chetry and John Roberts three of the biggest, bald-faced lies I ever heard and when he was finished, I heard Kiran and John thank him for coming, and off he went, lies intact and embedded nicely, no questions asked.  This is what he said:

Lie #1:
"Nearly every important office in DC is occupied by someone with an aggressive dislike for our heritage, our freedom, our history and our constitution"

Kiran Chetney (to her credit):  "Do you really believe that?"

Lie #2:

"Absolutely.  I don't have a doubt about it.  I've lived with liberals all my life.  Liberals simply don't have appreciation and respect for America."

Lie #3:
 "Today if you are a Christian Scientist and you do not sign up for Medicare you lose your Social Security.  Nobody put that into law.  Where did that come from?  It came from their pure audacity and their need to be in charge.  So you take a person who, by religious conviction, has never attended a physician in his entire life and will never intend to do so, and you say you must sign up for this government program and if you don't you lose your life savings which you were forced to put into a bad program in the first place. Now are you telling me that's respect for our freedom?  That is an audacity of control."

The first two are flat out lies, the third is a blatant fudging of the truth, formulated and propagated by Freedom Works, the anti-government Tea Party headquarters.   Their leader monologued it long enough that either Kiran or John would have had plenty of time to step in--ala Maddow--and ask where the hell that was coming from.  But they didn't.  They smiled---rather uncomfortably, I'll give them that--and let the lie go on to live another day. 

 The truth is this:  Medicare rules have not changed since they were enacted in 1965.    Everyone on Social Security has to sign up for Medicare when they turn 65.  Armey is right about that.  But he would like us to believe this is something new and audacious.  It's suddenly "Obamacare".   It's not.  It's not new to Christian Scientists, either.  They know all about Medicare and offer clear guidelines on their website for applying for and using it.  The government-run program is accepted in most of their facilities.  Christian Scientists pay into and take advantage of Medicare just like almost everyone else.  Their people get old, too--and without Medicare (or government paid Cadillac plans) they would be up a creek--or out on an ice floe along with the rest of us.

Why is Dick Armey so opposed to important government programs like Social Security and Medicare?  Why is he making such a case for shutting them down when so many people in this country benefit from them?  Last year he even went so far as to attempt to sue the government for "forcing" him to accept Medicare.  In an article published in the the Washington Examiner, May 22, 2009, he said (emphasis mine),

"Medicare and Social Security trustees on May 12 painted a grim, but not surprising picture of the failing financial health of two entitlement programs.  Social Security will be insolvent by 2016, a year earlier than predicted just last year; Medicare by 2017, two years earlier than last year’s forecast.

So why are the Department of Health and Human Services and Social Security Administration fighting tooth and nail to prevent a handful of seniors – including yours truly – from opting out of Medicare Part A, the costly hospital insurance program?

Having some percentage of seniors pay for their own hospitalization coverage would seem like a gift to the cash-strapped Medicare program. From a financial standpoint, the more seniors who choose this option the better.

But the government will have no part of it. Why?  Perhaps because doing so could undermine the push for universal health care.

If the government allows us to exercise our legal right to pay privately for medical care, Washington also will have to allow other seniors to decide whether they want Part A coverage or private coverage. And this is the exact opposite of the direction the administration wants to go."
So, fine.  A handful of seniors want to pay their own darned way, thank you very much!  Why that is, nobody seems to know, when they've already paid into Social Security and Medicare, and when they're assured of a certain amount of paid coverage, but if Armey and his little army want to do it, I say--let 'em.

But shouldn't somebody let his straggling army know WHY they're fighting so hard against Medicare?  Do they know who their leader really is?  A former lobbyist for pharmaceutical companies.  A fine gent whose company, DLA Piper, raked in upwards of 6 million dollars from medical interests from 2005 to 2009.  An upstanding citizen whose company lobbies for a dizzying number of dubious interests not particularly keen on cozying up to the government or helping out the little guy.  That's who Dick Armey is.

Today I watched a video clip showing some of Dick Armey's fine, upstanding Tea Partiers harassing a man sitting on the ground.  The man has Parkinson's Disease, but is out there working hard for health care for everybody.  They had to bend down to get in his face.  One of the white-shirts threw dollar bills at him. Someone in the background shouted "Communist!"   He sat quietly throughout it all, not because he knows his place, but because he knows he's right.

I want that man on the ground to know how much I appreciate what he's doing.  I want him to know that the video of his harassment is going to go as viral as the video of the Tienanmen Square student facing down the tanks.

And I want him to know I found integrity and honesty.  They were sitting on the ground beside him.



Friday, March 12, 2010

Job fairs, census jobs, and--wouldn't you know? Nut jobs

Austin, Texas 2009 - Timothy J. Silverman photo

Here's another sign of the times:  Job Fairs are going out of business.  In January the Myrtle Beach Area Hospitality Association canceled its annual Jobs Expo, scheduled for this month, because, apparently, nobody needs a Job Fair anymore to draw in workers.  They're out there banging down the doors already, so why pay a booth rental to pull in people?  That's what 70% of last year's Expo participants decided this year.

Myrtle Beach unemployment numbers in December were a frightening 15%, up from 12% the year before, so one of the fears (besides not having any Expo booth takers) according to the Expo planner, was a stampede.   "What we didn't want to do is host a job expo and get the hopes up of thousands of job seekers and then not have jobs for them."  Yes.  That would be bad.

Other job fair planners are thinking the same thing.  The job fair booth rental market is in trouble.
Last April a Glenwood, Colorado job fair had to be canceled when the "five to seven" employers who had initially signed up decided they could probably find workers on their own.

Last June a job fair in Marietta, Georgia was canceled for lack of jobs.

Last May, a newly built shopping center in Dedham, Massachusetts canceled a job fair over fears that 10,000 people might show up for about 1500 jobs.

But Monday in Somerville, Massachusetts, the U. S. Census Bureau  held a job fair.  They're predicting  they'll be hiring 1,000 workers with pay ranging from $16.50 to $23.50 an hour, 20 to 40 hours per week.  That's terrific, even if it is short-term.  The census, conducted every 10 years since 1790, will be employing over one million people to make sure the numbers are as accurate as we can get them.   A million people who didn't have jobs will be working for a few weeks to a few months, thanks to the system we've established to count the people who live in our country.  Pretty cool, huh?

The 2010 census form is shorter than in many other years.  Just ten questions per household member, none of them particularly invasive or personal.  Standard census questions.  The census measures population numbers and trends:  who lives where and how many live there.  The numbers decide the number of representatives from each state.  Money comes to the states because of census numbers.  It's the census. You know?

So why did I get an email that read, in huge red letters,  "Good luck to any census taker that [sic] comes to my house after watching this"?     The email links to a YouTube presentation by "Emmy-winning producer" and Ron Paul supporter Jerry Day telling me what I can expect from those underhanded liars hired by the Census Bureau. who are out to get private info from me by trying to violate my rights.  It's the damn gov'mint out to get us again.

Another website, "MyTwoCensus" is watching the Census Bureau like a hawk, ready to swoop down any time it looks like they're spending taxpayer money unwisely.   They've got a few things wrong so far, like coming up with a story, "The Salvation Army vs. The Census Bureau",  about how the SA is not going to let those census workers through their doors!.  Seems it's not quite like that.  Their directive clearly says they understand how important the 2010 census is--to them and to everybody--and then they outline how it will be done in order to comply.  (They have a problem with an auxiliary census designed to give info to business interests, but not the general census.)

MyTwoCensus asked one question that, in their minds, the Census Bureau didn't answer correctly:
Can you please confirm or deny that most 2010 Census jobs will last 1-3 weeks as opposed to 6 weeks-8 months?  (which has been stated by elected officials…)  (Some of the commenters answered the question pretty well.)

It could be that the admins at MyTwoCensus are doing something worthwhile, but their nitpicking is the kind of thing that the Jerry Days--growing more ubiquitous by the minute--latch onto to try and convince us that the damned gov'mint is going rogue.

My point here is that we have a census every ten years.  It should come as no surprise to anyone that questions must be asked, nor that mistakes will be made.  That's the nature of the beast.  Something will go wrong somewhere.  But the census is a valuable tool and life would be much harder without it--possibly even for those who think their precious liberties are being taken away by the required answering of a mere ten questions.

There's also this:  So far it hasn't been privatized.  That has to stick in the craw of the business interests behind much of the gov'mint bashing.  It's not theirs for the taking.  It's a government program run by the government.  Gaahh!  They HATE that!

That a million people will get to work for a few weeks or months can't be ignored.  It's a good thing.  And, let's face it--it's more than the private sector is offering at the moment.

Virginia's governor, Mark Warner, maybe not aware of what happens at job fairs these days, promoted a federal job fair at the Mary Washington University campus on Monday.  Before it even began they were warning people that it might be crowded.  Well, yeah!

STAFFORD, Va. (AP) - A federal job fair at the Stafford campus of the University of Mary Washington has backed up traffic as thousands of jobseekers flocked to the event.
Sponsored by U.S. Sen. Mark Warner, the job fair had attracted nearly 4,000 people by noon Monday and job seekers who were not already at the site were advised to turn back. A spokesman for Warner said the event had reached capacity and people already there were facing long waits.
The Stafford Sheriff's Office has deputies on the scene helping with crowd control and traffic.

So then, as if it isn't hard enough already, we have people like Jim Bunning, Tom Delay and John Kyl, who look and talk like clueless blockheads, but--make no mistake--every word out of their mouths is calculated to undermine any attempt by the current people in power to recognize the jobless situation for what it is:  an unmitigated, long-term disaster (brought along nicely by many of the people from the Bunning, Delay and Kyl camps, in case they'd have us forget).

Former House Majority Leader Tom Delay called Sen. Jim Bunning (R-Ky.) "brave" on Sunday (March 7) for launching a one-man filibuster of unemployment benefits, arguing that they dissuaded people from going out and finding work.
Appearing on CNN's "State of the Union," the Texas Republican said that Bunning's fiscal responsibility was commendable, even if his shenanigans (refusing to allow unemployment benefits to be considered by unanimous consent) nearly brought the Senate to a halt.
"Nothing would have happened if the Democrats had just paid for [the benefits]," Delay said. "People would have gotten their unemployment compensation. I think Bunning was brave in standing up there and taking it on by himself."
Asked whether it was bad strategy to make a budget stand on a $10 billion extension of unemployment (as opposed to, say, the Bush's $720 billion prescription drug package), Delay insisted that if the PR had been done right, Bunning would have been applauded. Helping the unemployed with federal assistance, he said, was unsound policy.
"You know," Delay said, "there is an argument to be made that these extensions, the unemployment benefits keeps people from going and finding jobs. In fact there are some studies that have been done that show people stay on unemployment compensation and they don't look for a job until two or three weeks before they know the benefits are going to run out."

Last week, Jon Kyl, senator from Arizona, picked up the momentum and argued on the floor that unemployment benefits keep people from looking for jobs "because people are being paid even though they're not working."   Unemployment insurance "doesn't create new jobs. In fact, if anything, continuing to pay people unemployment compensation is a disincentive for them to seek new work."

Let me suggest first off that Sen. Kyl might want to rethink what he said there.  "People are being paid even though they're not working," he said.  While not working.  For the people.

How many jobless people took in what those baboons were saying?  What does it take to get those jobless, demoralized folks mad as hell?  I know it's a struggle just to get through the day for millions of people these days, but, damn!  Enough is enough.  They're thumbing their noses at us, spitting in our faces, and, in the case of Tom Delay, grinning like Jack Nicholson in "The shining" while he's thumbing and spitting.

And why does the media care what the disgraced politician Tom Delay thinks, anyway?  I'll tell you why.  It's the goofy grin behind the words.  It's the jeering words behind the grin.  It's all about the entertainment.

I know, I know. . .   Let us eat cake. 


Monday, March 1, 2010

No, Really - The Sky is Falling!

Even as the American economy shows tentative signs of a rebound, the human toll of the recession continues to mount, with millions of Americans remaining out of work, out of savings and nearing the end of their unemployment benefits. Economists fear that the nascent recovery will leave more people behind than in past recessions, failing to create jobs in sufficient numbers to absorb the record-setting ranks of the long-term unemployed.
Call them the new poor: people long accustomed to the comforts of middle-class life who are now relying on public assistance for the first time in their lives — potentially for years to come.

 Peter S. Goodman, NYT 2/21/10

The lost decade for the economy

The U.S. economy has expanded at a healthy clip for most of the last 70 years, but by a wide range of measures, it stagnated in the first decade of the new millennium. Job growth was essentially zero, as modest job creation from 2003 to 2007 wasn't enough to make up for two recessions in the decade. Rises in the nation's economic output, as measured by gross domestic product, was weak. And household net worth, when adjusted for inflation, fell as stock prices stagnated, home prices declined in the second half of the decade and consumer debt skyrocketed.


Henny Penny is exhausted.  She's been running around like a chicken with her head cut off, trying to make the Big Guys see what's coming.  The sky is not only falling,  great chunks of it are already on the ground.  The Big Guys in charge have no use for small pullets bringing bad news.  From where they sit, everything looks fine.  Life is good.  Nothing a well-positioned tax break couldn't fix.  And besides, the depression never happened, and the recession is over, so stuff a sock in it.  (But all you little people still collecting paychecks?  Don't forget to pay your taxes by April 15.)

I'm remembering a time not so long ago when we built things and made things and anyone who wanted a job could find one, but for years now we've been hemorrhaging jobs like Niagara flows water.  The unemployment numbers are drooping, not because so many people are back to work now, but because so few people are still collecting unemployment benefits.  Many millions of people without jobs aren't being counted anymore.  For millions of people who used to be employed, job seeking is a fruitless game, and they've quit playing. That's not to say they're not still out there--by the millions

This from the Bureau of Labor Statistics for January, 2010:

In January, the number of persons unemployed due to job loss decreased by
378,000 to 9.3 million. Nearly all of this decline occurred among permanent job losers.

The number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks and over)
continued to trend up in January, reaching 6.3 million. Since the start of
the recession in December 2007, the number of long-term unemployed has risen
by 5.0 million.

In January, the civilian labor force participation rate was little changed at
64.7 percent. The employment-population ratio rose from 58.2 to 58.4 percent.

The number of persons who worked part time for economic reasons (sometimes
referred to as involuntary part-time workers) fell from 9.2 to 8.3 million
in January. These individuals were working part time because their hours had
been cut back or because they were unable to find a full-time job.

About 2.5 million persons were marginally attached to the labor force in
January, an increase of 409,000 from a year earlier. (The data are not
seasonally adjusted.) These individuals were not in the labor force, wanted
and were available for work, and had looked for a job sometime in the prior
12 months. They were not counted as unemployed because they had not searched
for work in the 4 weeks preceding the survey.

Among the marginally attached, there were 1.1 million discouraged workers in
January, up from 734,000 a year earlier. (The data are not seasonally adjusted.)

Discouraged workers are persons not currently looking for work because they
believe no jobs are available for them.

So let's multiply one person without a job by 9.3 million.  (Because we surely wouldn't want to waste our time thinking about just one miserable person.)  Okay, now we have 9.3 million people collecting unemployment checks.  But let's say six million of them have a partner and a couple of kids.  Now we're talking about 24 million people trying to survive on that one check. (Unless both partners are, you know, unemployed.)  Then add all those other people noted above in the BLS report and multiply them by the numbers in their families, and. . .
We're talking real numbers.

So my first solution (because I don't have a real job and I've had time to think about this) was to encourage the unemployed and underemployed to take on two part-time jobs.  The unemployment numbers would plummet, our work force would be productive,  and we wouldn't look like such ninnies to the rest of the world.

My plan would have everybody working for less, but working, which is the main thing--and all of those jobs just waiting to be filled would be filled.  (Because everybody knows if you really want a job in this country you can find one.)   Health care bennies would have to go, but let's face it--they were on their way out, anyway.

So that was my original plan.  That was yesterday.  Today I had the brainstorm of all brainstorms, and I am hyped!   Get this:  We export our unemployed to the countries that provide us with our goods!  China, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Bangladesh, Viet Nam, Hong Kong, Swaziland (Swaziland??). . . They have factories over in those places.  Our workers need jobs.  Voila!

My God, it's brilliant.  No more fuss about unions or OSHA or health insurance.  No more worrying about where or how all those people are going to live.  Send the workers AND the jobs overseas.  No more jobs anywhere in America!  (except--see below*.)

What a relief.  You don't know how I've been worrying about this.  Something just hasn't been right for a long time now.  It's true I have a few details to work out, but then I'll be sending it on to congress ASAP.  Remember, you read it here first.  And--it would help me a lot if you stood by me when the Republicans try to take credit for it.

So here it is:

Since only the wealthiest one percent of the population would still be living in America,  they could do away with the Constitution and, in fact,  the entire government, and run everything from their gated communities, with CEOs and Boards of Directors and, if need be, hefty under-the-table bribes.  They would need  massive assistance from *hired help, of course, but that could be worked out, too.  The help would live outside the gates in company housing, arriving in buses at their scheduled time to mow the sweeping lawns and polish the frosted titanium faucets and pick the nits out of the privileged heads of the gated children. (Their own children would be laboring overseas, too, so no need for baby-sitters.  Or, come to think of it, public schools!  Man, this is getting better all the time.)

The help would receive paltry but steady paychecks which would go toward their rent, and they would, of course, owe their souls to the company store.  There would be company doctors and company hospitals, paid for by deducting health expenses from their pay, but services would be basic so if they became really sick, they would die.

But here's the good thing:  There would be no slums, no welfare, no food banks, no jails, no prisons.  The poor (which by this time is nearly everybody) would be working in the factories overseas and the common criminal element* would be shipped off to Effincommies Archipelago, a previously uncharted chain of desert islands surrounded by sharks and patrolled by pirates, where they would finally be productive,  turning out Marni shearling vests and Brioni leather bomber jackets and over-the-knee Christian Louboutin boots,  working v-e-r-y s-l-o-w-l-y in order to keep that shortage thing going so the prices would stay at dazzle level.   (The *rich criminal element, if you were wondering, would be forgiven by an Almighty God of their choosing.)

I'm already seeing a few problems with my plan, but once the rich get wind of it all the kinks will be worked out to their advantage.  I'm thinking--who's going to be here to buy the cheap stuff?  The stuff our former American workers are over there making?  Never mind how K-Mart and WalMart and Target and Macys and Nordstroms and Saks are going to feel about it.  How is China going to feel about it? 

And who decides on the lucky few who would be left to help the helpless rich?  Who wouldn't want a job like that?  So I thought about a TV show, an "American Idle", where three or four judges would call in likely candidates, insult them in brutally clever ways,  and take so long pretending they weren't going to hire them, the lucky few would promise to work for even less.

If that didn't work, it could be done by holding a lottery, I suppose.  It is, after all, the American way.  We have a penchant for deciding everything by whim or by chance.

So what do you think?  But before you answer, remember that the best government is no government, and my plan, so far, is the only one that effectively addresses that.  And don't worry about me (and I won't worry about you).  I have relatives in Canada and if I can get there before the other DPs I'll have a place to stay.