I tuned into the M$NBC moron-palooza for about 5 minutes and you would think, based on their coverage of the election, that Trump was winning 45 of the 50 states and that Hillary was about to be arrested and charged with high treason...
The way this race is being covered, the media is going to have to answer for why they no longer report but instead desperately try to shape the story. Journalism is dead. Punditry is the currency of the realm.
I do not begrudge any industry or business a FAIR profit for their labor and efforts and careers and jobs...but I LOATHE when they externalize costs of doing business to inflate the profits and then take an UNFAIR share of the money while leaving the public at large on the hook for their thievery.
The oil companies have been pulling BILLIONS of dollars in profits out of the gulf for DECADES. The executives at BP, Exxon-Mobil and others have pocketed bonuses and options worth many times my meager CAREER EARNINGS will be ANNUALLY!!! I work 50-60 hours a week in what by ANY definition is an outstanding job - rewarding mentally and financially as well, but it will never make me "rich" to the point where budgets and spending and saving are not stressful, even though I know my stress is nearly heaven for most of the population.
As a result, I do not mind paying my taxes - I do not love it seeing more than 35-40% of my gross income disappear - but I want it to provide a better, more just and equitable opportunity for all of society, and don't go out of my way to avoid paying taxes. But it is still very easy to recognize from my middle-management, upper-middle class income seat that the fat cats skimming their compensation packages have no rational tie to the performance, or far more importantly the long-term HEALTH of their professions.
They award themselves ludicrous salaries and benefits that the line worker or drill operator or refinery foreman NEVER see 1/10th of in a lifetime of service. They take the extra stock options, feeling they "earned them". They grant each other seats on Boards of Directors and scratch each others' backs while filling their pockets at every step. Sucking more profit than their contributions truly earn and never thinking twice about it. They then stuff the money they suck out away...in private investments, in private property, in private clubs and institutions.
They have been fully aware of climate change and its very REAL impacts to their business model of nearly as long (otherwise there would be no need for the BS 'research' they selectively fund and promote to deny it). They have done NOTHING to invest the profits of their supposedly success businesses into the long-term securitization of the business model itself. Focused solely on drilling for cheap oil whenever and wherever possible, but never thinking the money they were partying in and swimming in and skiing on and throwing around like they were really "deserving" or "worth it" WAS the future. Instead of taking reasonable pay and reasonable benefits relative to the workers they lead, they gorge themselves like the pigs they are.
And now, when the shit is starting to hit the fan, the rats are fleeing...I am making mental note over the next 5-10 years of the scumbag oil executives that take early retirements or 'step down for health reasons' or 'move on to other opportunities', all while lining their pockets further with golden parachutes to boot. I hope the workers of the oil industry are paying attention!
My grandfathers both served in WWII and came home from the war to start families in the Chicago suburbs. They both worked for Standard Oil, and the refineries in Whiting, IN. One of my grandfathers passed away at the wheel of the car on Christmas Eve, some 6 weeks before I was born. His wife, my paternal grandmother, is still alive and still living on the residual benefits of his pension and retirement accounts and investments because they were so generous and were intended to share the prosperity of the industry with the men and women who made it all go. She lived a frugal but comfortable life of 45 years after her husband passed, largely due to his union pension that was paid out before the companies gutted the unions and tore up the pensions and called them 'legacy costs' that make us too non-competitive...while not slowing down the executive pay scale or benefits or largesse one tiny bit.
My maternal grandfather lived to be 84 years old and spend 29 years in retirement. He did not live like a king in a mansion far from the people. But he did have a retirement home on a spring-fed river that he could fish and swim and take his grandkids on slow pontoon boat trips up and down. If I am lucky enough to ever retire, it will be after I am 70 years old (my official Social Security retirement eligibility does not kick in until I am 69 anyway). I will have savings to last a decade or so at most with the cost of living increases, meaning if I live as long as my grandparents on either side of the family, I am quite likely to run out of money around 80-85 years of age...and I am NOT saying these things to illicit ANY sympathy for myself...I KNOW I have it better than most and pretty damn near luxurious to some. But THOSE things are gone - jobs that had union protection, benefits and a real opportunity to retire and provide a life for one's family.
My mother and father are entering their mid-70's and its a miracle that my mother is still with us after a decade plus of fighting and holding off cancer 6 times to date. My father worked in the steel mills of Northern Indiana, put 3 kids through college and was rewarded for a lifetime of work by having his pensions slashed to penny-on-the-dollar lump sum buy outs when the mills like Bethlehem Steel and US Steel sold out to foreign investment companies. He has been in forced retirement for a decade and change, pushed out a few years before he would have wanted to go and a few hundred thousand dollars poorer in the exchange. He and my mother had some wise investments and thought they did everything "right"...they raised a family, supported my brother and sister and myself in all of our education and endeavours in life beyond the 21-22 years we spent living under their roof. They are good people, the kind that America knows all too well...Baby Boomers who chose a traditional family and work arrangement over the 'grab all you can no matter the cost 80's' and the even more disgusting 'greed-fest 90's'.
Instead of looking out for themselves, instead of trying to soak every last dime out of every last person they came across, they worked jobs, collected paychecks, participated in community life and even found ways to make family vacation trips to Florida an annual rite of summer for our family. But they did not take more than they were owed or worth. They did not 'invest' by ripping people off in real estate swindles or tax evading schemes. They did not open businesses, carve out huge portions of the profits to themselves and then cut and run when the business went belly up.
I'm no different than millions of other Americans...my family story is echoed around the block and across the country. But I am barely holding on and that is from a position of privilege economically, racially, gender-wise...you name it. I came out of college in 1993 debt-free, with nothing more than a car loan for a used sedan and rent for a 1-room apartment as my expenses. That allowed me to consider jobs and opportunities others could not then and never will now. But the sense of loss for me is palpable. I understand why people are angry, why people look around and can't wait to blame someone, anyone for the same losses in their lives, maybe felt far more acutely than mine. I get it. It hurts to know that my children are not going to be as well off as I am and I am not close to my dad who was losing ground to his dad and all of this packed into the last 40 years.
But understanding the rage, the anger, the fear is all I have in common with many people now. I do not share their turn to a wannabe strongman or a lying and maleficent political party and its enablers and benefactors. I do not see the way forward as closing things off and retreating into self-pity and nationalism.
I see the enemy and the enemy is big business in all its guises.
It is the lawyer who helped to gut the union contracts in exchange for grotesque pay and benefits and future business.
It is the executive who took a bonus for decades and then started laying off workers and selling plants to ensure that his nest egg was the last thing possible to go - and usually parachuting out ahead of the final crash.
It is the hedge fund manager, making over $1,000,000,000.00 annually, yet somehow bitching about how unfair it is to have to pay more than 15% in taxes when others making fractions of his income pay 2 to 3 times as much on a percentage basis.
It is the oil executive, who for decades approved compensation packages for himself, his board and his "team" of executives with little to no regard for what the end game price for that would be.
The enemy is the Koch brothers (two disgusting human being determined to leave the world a far more greedy place then they entered), Lloyd Blankfein (who has a feeling boo-boo when people even MENTION the excesses and culpability for the mess we currently inhabit, and sees criticism for it as persecution), Paul Manafort (who literally would sell his soul to the devil and charge it COD), Donald Trump (who is the poster boy for incurious, dangerous sociopathic narcissists everywhere), and their ilk. Being angry or allowing one's self to be ginned up in outrage at ANY other class of human beings - white, black, red, yellow, straight, gay, bi, trans, old, young, religious, sectarian - is utterly missing the reality of our world and is in fact a type of modern slavery, not in the unimaginable physical sense of an era thankfully abolished (and a moral stain that remains unwashed on America's soul), but in an insidious and limiting way putting the vast majority of the population into servitude and bringing us ever closer to a return to Kings, Nobles and Serfs in a dystopian future that simply does NOT have to be that way....
Hillary Clinton is the lesser of two evils for me. She is light-years better than Donald Trump and even has strongly adopted policies (thanks to Sanders and his supporters) that she is naturally inclined to recoil from...but the fact of the matter is we need the House to advance an agenda, the Senate to confirm a SCOTUS that is no longer gag-inducing in its hypocrisy and the Presidency to be bold and FDR-like in attacking the status quo, reversing the inertia of the last 40 years and returning the nearly ethereal American Dream to the hearts and minds of the American people, instead of the emerging American Aristocracy.
If you read all of this, I thank you and hope it means something to you or inspires you to talk to one person about making sure they vote. If it did resonate at all, please share the message freely and get out the vote...without victory in all three branches of government , we will be position to do just that in November...if we remember what is important and best in life is not the dollars in an account or the power we wield over others, but the passion in our relationships and the joy we can have a part in giving to others.
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