Category Archives: rich vs poor

That hotel cleaner you didn’t tip

“Maybe she wipes your child’s face at day care. Maybe he mops the floors at your church. Maybe she makes the beds in the hotel you stay at. Maybe he trims your shrubbery and mows your lawn. Maybe she lifts your elderly aunt in and out of her wheelchair each day at the nursing home.”

My wise school board colleague, Alanna Oswald, shared a column on what it means to be poor with the rest of us. It rings true to her. I recommend it. Here’s another sample:

“But today all that was about to change. She had landed a new job — still minimum wage, but this time with dental coverage. She sat in the waiting room, praying that today would be the day the pain finally stopped for good.

The dentist called Nicole into the exam room, poked and prodded a bit, and listed some treatment options. Nicole crossed her fingers.

But then he stood up and shut her file abruptly, not even trying to hide his disdain. “Look, there are plenty of things we could do,” he said frostily, hand on the doorknob. “But if you’re just going to let everything go to hell like this, there’s really no point.”

And the door clicked shut behind him.”

A little bit of Post-Trump here in the Northland

In my view America elected a demagogue rather than a scold. In fairness to Hillary Clinton, the unprecedented calls of “lock her up” at Trump rallies trumped First Lady Obama’s call “When they go low we go high.” Maybe Hillary should have responded in kind. After all Trump is facing charges of fraud in a court presided over by a rapist sympathizer – the judge being a Mexican-American).

This election is like two black holes colliding and sending gravity waves though our universe. Its having the effect in our public schools of loosening the tongues of adolescent jerks who are mimicking their elder’s public excrescences. (If you don’t recognize my fifty scent word its fancy for “excrement” or its plural “excrements.” Its got a more common four letter equivalent.)

“Liberal” window smashers hiding in mobs and anonymous “conservative” spray can wielding graffiti writers and Internet trolls are both tomorrow’s brown shirts if we let them have their way. Even so I take little comfort with the comments of the Duluth School Board chair at the pitifully attended unity meeting called together by DFLer Mayor Emily Larson and Republican County Commissioner Peter Stauber.

In response to the anonymous racist graffiti scrawled in our school bathrooms Annie had this to say:

Annie Harala, chairwoman of the Duluth School Board, spoke about racial slurs and other intolerant language that were found in a city school bathroom last week, promising the district investigate and punish the culprits.

Racism “roared up this week in Duluth schools” after the election, she said.

“We want to be clear that intolerance and hatred is absolutely not accepted in our schools,’’ Harala said, urging parents and the entire community to encourage respectful behavior at home so that flows into the schools.

Presumably the vandals are kids. Railing about punishing them seems Trumpian to me. In this case Michelle Obama’s call to “go high” seems like a better strategy than making threats that are largely empty because of the furtive nature of the offense. That would be a better way to achieve some kind of unity.

Staunch vs. stanch

My buddy sent me a couple proof reading corrections for the last post in the second paragraph. One pointed out I meant stanch when I used staunch. They can be pronounced the same way with the “aw” sound but I’ll admit I never recognized that they had different spellings. They both suggest something akin to the strength of reinforcement. For instance: The GOP must stanch the loss of elderly adherents by by being less staunch in its nativist inclinations.

The first nativist party in the US the “No Nothings” was anti immigrant. Too many Catholic Irish were fleeing the potato famine bringing their terrible religion with them. Subsequent bouts of nativism hit American shores when too many Chinese showed up during the California gold rush. Then horror of horrors strangely speaking Eastern Europeans started answering the Corporate advertisements from American firms looking for cheap labor. That was a straw that led to a law I couldn’t recall having ever heard about. At the turn of the Ninteenth Century Congress passed a law taking American citizenship away from women who married legal immigrants. For thirty years that law deprived tens of thousands of women of their birthright and did so retroactively including one woman from Two Harbors.

Abe Lincoln was a pragmatist who was quite happy to solicit Irish and German votes and even No Nothing votes. Today’s GOP wouldn’t have much use for that RINO kind of thinking. Over the next couple decades they will find it harder to stanch the loss of elderly nativists and will be forced back to Lincoln’s pragmatism. Viva el Rinos.

There is another tenant of the modern GOP that might have to undergo some revision, the wealth protection laws that turned estate taxes into “death taxes.” Apparently to discover just how it was that the once anticipated economic equality associated with democracy has been turne on its head one economist began reading antique novels from earlier centuries. inheritance and wealth. He quotes a character in a Victor Hugo novel who tells an ambitious young man to forget about work and to marry a rich woman. Hey my Mom could have told him that. She read lots of antique novels by the Bronte’s, Jane Austin Charles Dickens etc. We had talks about how families did their best to protect their wealth. I read about primogeniture in my own history books. That where only the oldest son inherited all the land and the younger brother’s took the hindmost.

Anyone who has watched a lot of PBS’s Masterpiece theater over the years has seen the same like Downton Abbey. Marry a rich American woman. That was the call of several generations of failing noble English families and its been grist for hundreds of period piece dramas.

Well-to-do Americans have jealously guarded their wealth by intermarrying their children in America for generations. Its been a fixation that has been shared by other rich folk throughout history. In more recent generations it has been aided by country club memberships and gated community living. Those knocking eagerly from the outside for a piece of the action have been regarded with suspicion. My Mother told me about the woman who married a cousin of hers who was regarded as a “grass widow.” I guess that meant she was hiding in the grass waiting to snare their precious son. The threat to disinherit never was broached but that is another very real threat that has made it into countless dramas.

Well, the rich are getting richer and not only because they have built a social wall around themselves but a legal and legislative wall built with a political agenda to keep taxes like the estate tax low.

What kind of folks would accrue this wealth and then fight back attempts to share it? That’s another NPR story. this. Is it any wonder that NPR and PBS are always on the GOP chopping block?

One billionaire’s message to the poor


Courtesy of Gina Rinehart, the richest woman on the planet, who inherited her family’s iron-ore prospecting fortune of $30.1 billion.

“If you’re jealous of those with more money, don’t just sit there and complain. Do something to make more money yourself — spend less time drinking or smoking and socialising, and more time working,”

Or maybe marry Gina and fight the estate (oops) I mean “Death” tax.

Eastwood wasn’t playing by Karl Rove’s playbook

which is getting the billionaires to kill Obama with kindness – but not Todd Akin.

On the final morning of the Republican National Convention, Karl Rove took the stage at the Tampa Club to provide an exclusive breakfast briefing to about 70 of the Republican Party’s highest-earning and most powerful donors. During the more than hour-long session, Rove explained to an audience dotted with hedge fund billionaires and investors, including John Paulson and Wilbur Ross, how his super PAC, American Crossroads, will persuade undecided voters in crucial swing states to vote against Barack Obama. He also detailed plans for Senate and House races, and joked, “We should sink Todd Akin. If he’s found mysteriously murdered, don’t look for my whereabouts!”

Paying your dues

My Buddy sent me this last week. I’ve only just now read it. It comes from a huge horse’s ass Andrew Breitbart. That said it is an important and as far as I can see journalisticly neutral appraisal of the politics of public employee union dues.

Here’s my take.

A. Public employees with enough seniority have very secure jobs.

B. As private sector unions have fallen on hard times over the past four decades of increasing “Right-to-work” labor laws the revenue from public employee’s union dues have become indispensable to the union movement as a whole.

C. The many rights won for all workers by unions in the 1940’s and 50’s have made union protection far less important in the eyes of workers with the result that many workers have adopted as anti union viewpoint as their fire breathing right-to-work fire employers.

D. Many of the protections that existed up until the Reagan ERA for workers are beginning to erode. The best example of this is medical coverage. This is just fine by a new Republican Party which has purged itself of moderate politicians who were comfortable with America’s less expansive version of Europe’s “cradle to grave” protection.

E. Today a right-to-work (and right to starve) GOP is faced with a public that has begun to notice that America has become a land of haves (Mitt Romneys) and have nots (the 99 percent)

F. Having done its best to put black drug sellers in prison and fence out Mexicans and cling to pale “european” skin the GOP is desperate to keep the Public employee Unions from raising money that could be used to challenge Republicans. They are probably right that unions grossly abuse their power to raise political funds from union members. There is a very big BUT in this assertion.

G. Here’s the BUT. The GOP inclined Supreme Court justices have givencCorporations an unlimited First Amendment right to spend money on politics as copiously as they wish. This threatens to turn American politics into a very unlevel playing field based on the 19th century premise that a corporation has Constitutionally guaranteed citizenship rights.

H. I think an equally persuasive argument could be made that corporations should have to allow their stockholders to withold political donations that they have not agreed to just as union members should have the right to deny their dues to be spent for political purposes to which they object.

I. If my point of view becomes law then both right wing business and left wing labor could find themselves muzzled. That would be OK by me.

Our kind of corruption

The founding father’s would have viewed it as such even if the laws today permit it. From a book review by Mathew Yglesias:

Lessig moves beyond quid pro quo corruption of the sort that typified the Gilded Age and recently ensnared such congressmen as Duke Cunningham of California and William Jefferson of Louisiana. Taking a broader view of the problem, Lessig develops a concept of dependence and independence that draws on the Founding generation’s obsession with the alleged corruption of Parliament at the hands of a monarchy that dispensed pensions and offices to compliant representatives. As part of this analysis, Lessig cites the anthropological concept of a “gift economy” to argue that a person can become indebted to another without any explicit agreement of a quid pro quo.

League of Women Voters forum?

I just saw on the news tonight that there was a school board candidate forum held by the League of Women Voters…….

They didn’t bother advertising it or I might have sacrificed the third installment of Ken Burns’ Prohibition to attend it. I could see that it was held in the School Board meeting room. Wonder if they were trying to control crowds by keeping it secret. I’m kind of glad I didn’t go. The PBS series has been great. I learned to my surprise about a famous women voter in history that I’d not known about Pauline Sabin.

She damn near single-handedly reversed Prohibition. She even quit the Republican Party to do it. She hated hypocrisy. Wow! My kinda gal.

Maybe the women of the League should have stayed home with me to watch it rather than put on a secret side show. They could have learned a thing or two. No wonder the Republicans want to stop funding Public Broadcasting.

No Joke 1

But its darned funny.

But there’s actual substance behind the punch line: Colbert is setting up a superPAC to run campaign ads. The FEC got involved when he asked for an opinion on how to finance the superPAC. His query suggested the possibility of a new loophole — a way for media companies to underwrite commentators with political ambitions.

Now Fox News can give Sarah Palin more than just a paycheck.

Unconscionable

Today’s story on Dr. Dixon’s continued plundering of a million in Desegregation funds to fund all day kindergarten needs some explanation. Here’s mine. Dixon convinced some of his acolytes like former Board member Bevan Schraw that new schools would attract back students from Edison and elsewhere. The folly of that is belied by Edison’s plans to build a new school which would be able to accommodate another 200 students.

All day kindergarten will be the supposed carrot to lure families to the Duluth Schools. Certainly the completion of some elementary schools will be enticing but the ballooning classroom sizes will put a lot of parents off. My guess is that after three or four years of losing students until all the schools are finally completed there will finally be a stabilization with a much smaller student population.

Dr. Dixon is trying to hide this transfer of money by giving the Board options to supposedly fund the all day kindergarten. That’s bull, of course. The board might do some of these other things but it can and will only do it by taking deseg funds.

The current all day kindergarten in Duluth is set up as a program that guarantees poor families free all day K if they want it. Better off families can take advantage of it if they pay for it on a sliding scale just as they would day care. The Deseg program allows for smaller classrooms in the deseg schools with minority children. Until Dixon showed up this was slowly improving test scores in Duluth. Now these funds will be dispersed through out the District and will mean schools with richer school populations will draw this money off. In other words spending for minority students will be drawn away from them to implement all day kindergarten.

Dr. Dixon claims that his other alternative deseg spending will prove superior. The best reason to treat this claim with skepticism is his sorry experience in Faribault where minority students fared worse under his tenure. This was pointed out by former Duluth School Board member Eileen Zeitz Huddleson in letters to the editor shortly after he replaced Julio Almanza. Ironically, I pooh poohed Eileen’s letters in a rebuttal shortly afterward.

Dr. Dixon’s manipulation of race has been shameless. Continue reading

Walmart’s Free enterprise/lunch

I recently heard the author of the book Free Lunch give a speech in which he said that the Sam Walton descendents had earned a large portion of their fortune, if not most of it, from taxpayers rather than consumers. He claimed they did it by extorting huge tax advantages out of the communities that they wanted to build a Walmart store in.

I wouldn’t have commented on it except that I just opened this page unrelated to the book’s author. It is an animation of Walmart openings since the store was started in Arkansas by Sam. I imagined every town giving millions to the Walton family to get their own Walmart and beat out the other poor schmuck communities nearby which were too cheep to pay the extortion.

The Peace Prize

I’m very impressed with the Nobel Committee’s Peace Prize selection.

I heard about Yunus’s small loans several years ago on NPR and they make so much sense. I wish a few Republicans would pay attention to this as it is exactly what the party used to encourage before it got the idea that a free enterprise economy meant steering big government contracts to cronies and campaign contributors, making them rich, and easing their tax burden.