More scenes from the class wars

More scenes from the class wars October 1, 2012

“As you know I never duck the tough calls. So I went ahead and made the List.”

Now I’m not quite sure how I feel about it.”

“From the looks of it, nothing short of an Roman Imperial cult — complete with their apotheosis as state deities upon their death — would satisfy them.”

“The fairness of taxing more lightly incomes from wages, salaries and professional services  than the incomes from business or from investments is beyond question.”

Wage theft and low-wage work often go hand in hand, the report finds, and low-wage workers often have the most to lose.”

“How is it that so many who seem to be such golden winners of life’s lottery manage to generate so much hatred, fear, and contempt for those who have fared less well?”

“Who better than me … to come up with programs to do away with Medicaid and Medicare.”

“When you see a PowerPoint presentation, usually the first thing you should do is put your hand on your wallet.”

“Let’s be blunt and acknowledge the biggest threat to the world’s biggest economy are the cranks and crazies that have taken over the Republican Party.”

“The conservative Media Research Center has posted a public letter urging supporters not to listen to non-conservative media.”

“All of this might be of interest only to historians if Strom Thurmond’s Republican Party had nothing in common with today’s. But it does.”

“He is discussing QEII and how interest rates will shoot up when it ends. It ended in July 2011.”

“This man is a lout. A shameless lout, who, among the supposed privacy of close supporters, reveals that he can conceive of no idea larger or more profound than self-interest.”

As Mitt Romney said, 47 percent of the people that are living off the public dole, living off their neighbors’ hard work, and we have a lot of people out there that are too lazy to get up and get out there and get the ID they need.”

“You can’t justify taking food from the mouths of children — even to yourself — until you have sufficiently demonized those children, or at least their parents, so as to paint them as totally undeserving of even their small sliver of the pie.”

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  • Wage theft in this country, huh? While I was overseas, I had an employer withhold hundreds of dollars in wages from me for various fictional “taxes” and “fees.” It wasn’t too much of a shock, because it was a very corrupt place and many other people reported similar theft. It made for a nice homecoming because I figured businesses in this country wouldn’t steal from their employees.

    Unless you’re poor and live in North Carolina, apparently. Who wants to bet that this is actually pretty common and just never gets reported?

  • Ah, the Obama achievements list. A few legitimate achievements – higher
    funding for NEA, repeal of DADT – but mostly a laundry list of
    neoliberal priorities. Forgive me if I’m not cheering.

  • It made for a nice homecoming because I figured businesses in this country wouldn’t steal from their employees.

    Haha what. You can’t get away with it as blatantly in the US as you can in some countries, because thankfully while labor rights are slowly eroding in the US we’re in a better position than we could be thanks to several decades of strong labor pre-Reagan. But capital’s contempt for labor knows no borders.

  • The_L1985

     Of course it’s common.  Large corporations have proven abundantly that they will not obey the law, and consider fines to be just the cost of doing business.

    The problem is that the amount of money these corporations lose in fines is less than the amount they’re swindling out of their own employees.  Frankly, I think the solution is a mandatory minimum sentence of 1-5 years for wage theft, such that the person directly responsible is the one who sits in jail.  If necessary, then yes, the CEO or CFO should sit in an ordinary jail with ordinary blue-collar criminals.  I honestly believe that this is what it takes in order to make the madness stop.

    (Note: I also believe in repealing mandatory minimum sentences for non-violent drug offenders.  My rationale is that a fine is damaging to a poor person but not to a rich one; therefore, limiting punishment of corporations to a fine is inherently unjust.)

  • dongisselbeck

    I’ll continue uselessly repeating – if the members of the predator class work as hard as a Montana logger, they should make as much.

  • LL

    Sorry, I haven’t clicked on every link yet, but if it hasn’t been mentioned above, give this one a read, if you need more indigestion: you don’t have time to read it, the upshot is this: If you haven’t “made payroll” or “built” something, you’ve never worked a day in your life. So it’s not just the 47% who are worthless leeches, it’s everybody who’s never been a boss or owned a business. Which is almost everybody. And if it is mentioned above, then it deserves to be called out again. These people (the Whiny Wealthy) really are repellent. 

  • Becca Stareyes

     I recall one of the Nordic countries has a traffic fine system that scales with income, so that it’s less tempting for the wealthy to just take the fine.  Then again, considering all the contortions wealthy American people and corporations do to look like they make no profit to the IRS so they can skip out on income taxes, we might end up with negative fines. 

  • Ville Vicious

     In Finland there are two types of fines, fixed amount ones for small things that the police can write you on the spot, and the day-fines that are 1/3 of  your daily earnings with a minimum 6 Euros, that are can only be issued by a judge. If you don’t want to pay you can sit out the day-fines in jail 1 day in jail = 3 day-fines. there is “discount” on the fine if you have dependants.

    So for example going doing 100 km/h on the road where the limit is 80 km/h will get a fixed fine of 100 Euros, at least if you are not a repeat offender but doing 180km/h there will cost you around 100 day-fines or a bit more than you make in a month.

  • Kirala

    In fairness, I see nothing outrageous about the “Now I’m not quite sure how I feel about it” quote. There is quite a lot that I think is right that I also think is none of the government’s business (e.g. restraining oneself from creating and distributing highly offensive videos). Others may feel the same way about calorie disclosures. I do think that associating Obama with Police State is a little odd – and extremely ridiculous if one is comparing to, say, Dubya.

  • SisterCoyote

    Thing is, though, it’s information the public has a right to know. What the government is mandating here isn’t that they stop selling unhealthy food, nor even that they stop promoting it, or promote healthier food instead – all things that would probably be very much right, but definitely divided opinions on whether they’re right to mandate. All they’re forcing the business to do is tell people up front what it is they’re buying. That’s something everyone else has to do – foods have ingredient lists and calorie counts and serving sizes on the packaging. Who disagrees with that (beside Coca Cola)?

    It’s something that should be mandated. These aren’t private citizens having their freedom of speech violated, they’re major corporations being forced to come clean about their products. And the guy clearly knows it’s what the businesses should be doing! I don’t see how the clarification being mandated (because otherwise, they won’t) makes it a bad thing.

  • What’s ridiculous is that this guy likes the calorie disclosures, thinks they’re beneficial to him as a consumer, but doesn’t want them if the gubbamint’s making the restaurant do it.

    Who exactly is being  forced to do something here? McDonald’s – a billion-dollar corporation that doesn’t exactly have a spotless track record of social responsibility. The consumer’s freedoms aren’t being infringed on here, and the consumer isn’t forced to do anything. But a corporation is, and corporations being forced to do or not do something by the government is entirely appropriate.

    So why does this guy care if McDonald’s is doing it voluntarily? Does he really think that McDonald’s is his friend? Would he really rather be the beneficiary of the whims of corporate largesse than of consumer protection laws? Apparently so. Because apparently the freedom of a non-living, billion-dollar corporation is more important than the ability of each of us to make informed decisions about what we eat and purchase.

    This guy benefits from similar non-voluntary mandates (redundant, I know) every single day. Does he think Coca-Cola tells him what’s in a can of soda out of the goodness of their hearts? Or that ConAgra gives one shit about his health and ability to make informed purchasing decisions?

  • Kirala

     I don’t see it, either, but I can see seeing it, if that makes sense. Of course, now that I’m working my way down through the links, I’m much more concerned about wage theft in my state – particularly since a friend of mine was shafted her Waffle House wages (“what do you mean you didn’t make minimum wage in tips?”) at a time when she was desperately trying to support herself and her daughter while fleeing her abusive husband.

    Those lazy poor.

  • AnonymousSam

    Heh, I’m still some dollars short from the company who ruined my health. So yes, it happens in the US.

    Advice: Never work for a company which makes you sign a 1099-MISC.

  • David Frum, the author of the “Axis of Evil” speech, is chastising someone for using “vituperative” rhetoric. Now I’ve seen everything.

    Romney is right about the Federal reserve as well. QE operations, shadowy as they are, do continue. They buy lots of debt

  • Carstonio

    Is there anyone here who doesn’t believe that the Balloon Juice guy simply doesn’t want a black man telling people what to do?

  • P J Evans

     The only thing that surprises me is that it’s taken so long for McD’s to post their calorie information everywhere. It’s been required in California for some years, and it doesn’t seem to stop anyone eating fast food.

  • Jessica_R

    That McDonald’s story is why I find Luther so cathartic (nsfw language)

  • How about self-employment tax?  My refund went down by $150 on my 2010 income tax return due to self-employment tax.

    Did I build that?

  • Jessica_R

    With Gilded Age 2.0 we really are the worst of all possible worlds. Carnegie and the robber barons of old could be absolute bastards, but they also built universities and hospitals. Granted it might have been nothing more than nagging bad conscience wanting to do some legacy padding. But still, hospitals and universities got built. 

    Put it this way, I can see back then those coal miners getting a day’s pay with the expectation they’ll go to the Romney rally. Still unethical and kinda icky, but not the absolute grinding of the heel in the face of mandatory rally attendance with a day’s loss of pay for it. 

  • Carstonio

    I see the guy’s reaction as childish rather than outrageous, like he’s a 12-year-old who doesn’t want to be told what to do.

  • Agreed 100%.  It amazes me that the financial elites of America push this “we’re the only productive citizens” rhetoric so hard when they are, by far, the least productive members of society. Or if they’re beating out meth cookers, it’s not by much.

    The “titans of industry” were called that because they used to produce things. Mitt Romney’s own father got rich making cars, not through predatory financial practices and fraudulent records.

    Now we have a situation where we’re the richest country in the world, yet bridges and highways are in disrepair, colleges and school districts are being bled dry, real wages haven’t risen in decades, all because Mitt Romney and his friends have managed to convince enough of the right people that that money belongs in their pockets, because playing their little numbers games in the NYSE is more important than everyone making a living wage or breathing clean air.

    Like you said, it’s not like the Gilded Age robber barons were compassionate souls, but the social forces of the time pretty much required them to be productive members of society rather than simply leeches, not to mention that they get off on seeing their names plastered all over institutions that would last long after they were dead.

  • Reminds me of when my siblings an I were young.
    KID: Hey mom, this [food item] is great!
    MOM: Your sister made it.
    KID: Oh, well it sucks!

  • LouisDoench

     Thing is, to paraphrase Office Space, a term in Federal POUND ME IN THE ASS prison would stop this shit right up. None of these pricks have what it takes to do real time.

  • EllieMurasaki

    You seem to be suggesting that rape is, at least under certain conditions, a good thing. Rape is never a good thing. Do not ever say that again.

  • LouisDoench

     David Frum’s new job is to be appalled at the behavior of the very people who made his previous career possible. Also, he’s an expatriate much like Andrew Sullivan who has never really internalized how different AMerican conservatism is from the Tories he knew in Canada.

  • LouisDoench

     I understand that Ellie, I’m quoting a movie and exaggerating  to make a point.  My position remains unchanged, give these business criminals actually hard time in federal prison and the recidivism rate on their chicanery would rapidly approach zero.

  • EllieMurasaki

    I have no problem with that position. I agree with that position. Do not use rape references to support that position ever again.

  • aunursa

    I agree with you.

  • LouisDoench

     You are absolutely right of course, it is a crummy joke. Unfortunately it was the first scenario that popped into my head.  Jokes can be pernicious that way.

  • AnonymousSam

    Personally, I can totally understand wanting to see violence visited upon them in any and every possible way. I’m not Christian and don’t have the same mechanism for loving thine enemy, etc. What I see are people who stand for the very opposite of what I do — my ideal world is one of countless people with unified purposes, whereas their ideal world is one where they win the game and everyone else loses.

    I won’t dress it up by wishing ill upon them by proxy, though. Prison alone is good enough for me, removing them from society and delegitimizing their operations, but if I had a way of compressing all the heartbreak and trauma and illness people have suffered at their hands and delivering it to them in one shot? I’d be a very happy Eric Draven indeed.

  • The_L1985

     Burger King has printed calorie info on their paper placemats for quite some time.  (I can’t remember if it predates the ACA or not.)  It isn’t nearly as helpful, since you get it after you order, but at least they provide it.

    A lot of fast-food chains have offered calorie info on their websites, but that’s not fair to low-income consumers who don’t always have fast, reliable Internet access (and certainly didn’t in 2000 or thereabouts when this was first promoted).

  • The_L1985

     Yes, but I take offense at the idea that rape is in any way acceptable.

    Being in prison doesn’t make it any less wrong for you to be raped.

  • AnonymousSam

    Some calorie info offerings can’t be trusted, either. Subway in particular offers calorie information and comparisons against McDonald’s burgers, but the info on their own subs is deeply misleading.

    1) They only provide caloric info on their healthy subs, not the meatball marinara, chicken teriyaki or anything along those lines.

    2) Their offerings also assume drinking water, not a soda. You know, like the fountain sodas they have right next to the counter. They also assume you don’t buy a bag of chips, like the bags they have right next to the counter.

    3) Their offerings also assume you’re getting the six inch subs, not the foot longs. You know, the foot longs they also offer at prices that make the six inch subs a ripoff? (You shouldn’t be paying 80% of the price for 50% of the content.)

    4) Their offerings also assume that your sub has no cheese and only “one teaspoon” of oil. Cheese comes first in the process and asking for any without specifying quantity gets you at least four pieces, often as many as eight, which is adds many calories. Asking for any oil or vinegar gets you a generous double squirt, well beyond a single teaspoon. Oh, and did I mention that your choice of bread counts too?

    So despite constantly harping about how much healthier a sub is to a burger, the majority of Subway’s menu, treated the way the majority of customers will actually get their sub, really isn’t any better than a Whopper.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Having worked at Subway, if someone’s giving you eight pieces of cheese when you haven’t ordered double cheese on your foot-long, someone’s in trouble. And customers tend to load on the vegetables. On calorie count and calories-from-fat count, yeah, probably comparable to a Whopper, but those aren’t the only axes on which to determine whether a food is “healthy”.
    Sneer quotes because I saw a rant recently to the tune of ‘nobody ever tells you what to eat when you want to gain weight’, direct quote from the ranter’s sister who, the ranter explains, was losing weight and who, given our society’s fucked-up notions about healthy weight, looked perfectly healthy if you didn’t know the weight loss was due to cancer. As someone who’s spent most of my life around the tenth percentile on the weight chart while being taller than most of my classmates (till I stopped growing at 5’6″, anyway), I sympathize.

  • The_L1985

    This is all true and is a genuine problem.  (I disagree with your apparent insistence that the calorie listings for chips, which are listed on the bags themselves, and soda, which varies widely among brands and flavors, should be included in the calories for subs, though.)  There is also the issue that Subway harps on fat and calories alone, ignoring the fact that carbs also make a difference for most people (and carb-wise, there’s very little difference between a 6″ sub and a Whopper).

    You can’t really complain much about things that they specifically state. Subway has always stated that only 7 of their subs have that legendary < 6 grams of fat. They also give all those disclaimers right there on the napkin. Is it still misleading? Yes. Is there anything we can do about it from a legal standpoint? No.

    I was simply pointing out:  Some fast-food places are providing calorie info (if not other important health info) voluntarily.  This is better than nothing but still not ideal.

    Also, it is unfair to only provide this info online instead of also inside the restaurant.  Moreso at the time online calorie listings debuted in 2000, when smartphones didn't exist yet, and working-class families didn't necessarily have a reliable Internet connection.

    I never said an incomplete health listing was ideal, or that it wasn't misleading.  I simply said it was better than not mentioning anything about the nutritional content of your food at all.

  • The_L1985

    Separate but related issue:  Kids’ breakfast cereals (and some cereals for adults, like Raisin Bran) have obscene amounts of sugar in them.  Most kids’ cereals also have plenty of artificial colors and flavors (read: chemicals that are safe in the amount that 1 serving contains, but can be toxic in large quantities).

    Yet these same cereals tout the presence of various vitamins (some of which are added artificially), and call themselves “part of a balanced breakfast” in pictures that show a very small bowl of cereal, some fruit, a piece of toast, and a glass of juice.*  (When I was a kid, I remember eating 3-4 bowls of Trix at one sitting.  At age 5.  With nothing else for breakfast that day.  I doubt my experience is all that unusual.)

    Yes, they still show complete nutritional information and a list of ingredients that makes the cereals look as horribly unhealthy as they really are.  But those misleading ads are still used, because they’re technically true under a limited set of circumstances, and they trick just enough parents into thinking that the cereal is healthy.

    * I would argue that such a breakfast is seriously lacking in protein, but it’s still better in all respects than cereal alone.

  • The_L1985

     I was well below the 5th percentile on height and weight for most of my life.

    At 8 years old, I barely got my weight up to 35 lb.  I was thin as a rail, partly because I was an insanely picky eater and partly because I was taking Ritalin (extremely effective as an appetite-suppressant, as it turns out).

  • aunursa

    Ellie, do you remember a discussion from a couple of months ago in which I asked how the use of rape as a metaphor is so harmful in a way that other crimes, such as murder, hijack, and mugging, are not so harmful?  In spite of the fact that you and others were very patient and insistent, you were not able to get me to understand the distinction.

    While I was away getting a bite to eat this morning, I thought about your comment here, and it triggered a sudden revelation.  I now understand why rape as a metaphor is so harmful while the others terms are not.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Not sure if sarcasm.

  • aunursa

    No, I’m sincere.

  • The_L1985

    Sometimes it takes people a while to understand that they live in rape culture and how prison-rape jokes clearly influence that.

  • EllieMurasaki

    I know. I’m just not at all sure what I said differently this time or if simply hearing it again was enough. This is good, though. One more person with a clue is always good.

  • aunursa


    It wasn’t what you said, but something about (how I perceived) your tone triggered a revelation for me.

    Rape is a personal, invasive, dehumanizing, humiliating assault.  Other crimes  — murder, hijacking, mugging — can be committed in an impersonal manner.  During some murders, the attacker and/or the victim never see each other’s face.  Rape is an assault that can only be committed by a person in close physical contact with a victim. 

    Unlike the other crimes, the act is always invasive and inherently humiliating to the victim.  The victim’s own body — her own personal space — is violated.

    IIRC, you noted (in the prior discussion) that a rape victim’s story often is questioned or doubted.  And that causes her to suffer further humiliation.

    Therefore it would be extremely unusual to find a situation in which rape would be an appropriate metaphor.  Moreover, the flippant use of rape as a metaphor would cause further pain to rape victims by minimizing their suffering in such a harmful way that other metaphors do not cause for victims and relatives of those crimes.

  • EllieMurasaki

    The up-close-and-personal-ness is a bit I hadn’t considered, actually, but now you mention it, yes, absolutely.

  • For my part, and avoiding any specific references: I agree that references to traumatic events can cause further suffering to the traumatized, and that flippant references can cause further suffering on top of that by dismissing that suffering, and that both are best avoided when practical.

    I will also observe that individuals vary significantly in terms of how traumatized they are by particular events, and that I usually don’t need to judge particular categories of events as exceptionally traumatizing in order to respect and accommodate the sensitivities they create.

  • aunursa

    Your point is well taken.  I would say that’s in addition to a matter of degree, it’s also a matter of likelihood.  I would take care to avoid using a term that is likely to cause another person to suffer.


    I would take care to avoid using a term that is likely to cause another person to suffer.

    Absolutely agreed, both in general and wrt relevance in this particular case.

  • AnonymousSam

    Didn’t this come up recently? It’s the AdjacentToThisCompleteBreakfast trope. XD

  • AnonymousSam

    Oh, absolutely agreed. It’s just the usual “Lies, damned lies and statistics.” It’s not enough to look at the nutritional facts tables and compare numbers; you have to bear in mind that companies will do everything in their power to make the numbers say what they want them to. The numbers might be accurate, but only as long as you’re going by the same assumptions made when they were printed…

    (It’s really too bad my pepperoncini-laden, salt ‘n’ pepper, oil ‘n’ vinegar subs are so horrible for me. They’re tasty.)