Ned Pepper's Outrages

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Selfish ignorant geezers

Ned has a new Contempt Citation to award to a very deserving group: those selfish and ignorant geezers (Medicare recipients) who are seen carrying signs saying "Keep Your Government Hands Off My Medicare!"
The reason? What they seem to be "protesting" is a plan by the Obama people to reduce the government subsidies to private insurance companies that compete with traditional Medicare, and thus to "reduce the deficit" and "live within our means", not to mention "reduce the national debt."
Now, this plan would not reduce anyone's Medicare benefits, but to the extent that private companies can use the taxpayer subsidy to undercut Medicare, which of course gets no subsidy, then a reduction in the SUBSIDY might result (Ned emphasizes MIGHT) in a reduction in the "benefits" a private company offers. But, Ned reminds his friends they could just as easily respond to the reduction in the subsidy by paying less to their filthy rich sneering plutocrat CEOs, as some of these people receive more than $10 million a year. The administrative costs of private "health insurance" companies is closer to 30% than the 1-2% that Medicare spends, so they might try reducing that, too.
But, the Republicans, using the maxim that nobody ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of American voters, are spending millions screeching that the Democrats want to CUT MEDICARE!!!!, even though the Republicans would ELIMINATE Medicare if they could.
So, hat's off to these selfish, ignorant, whiny, rapacious "seniors." (And, by the way, only about a quarter of Medicare recipients even USE a Medicare "Advantage" plan, so the rest of those pissed off geezers are subsidizing them.)
[Smiley face here.]

Saturday, October 30, 2010

A hypothesis for narcissistic people

Ned has been musing of late on what causes the kinds of narcissistic behavior that he has documented with wry amusement in the modest pages of this blog. Ned's friends recall what he means: the dog owner whose beast craps on one's flowers; the shower spitter; in fact, anyone who routinely appropriates public space for private use. He has a hypothesis that he would like to try on his friends for their analysis: that narcissists are either supremely ignorant or are members of one or the other political extreme.
Now, Ned's friends might respectfully suggest that Ned himself is an extremist--to which Ned would reply, not so. Ned is in fact an extremist only in the pursuit of truth, beauty and logic. He holds that all else is relative.
Ned has in fact never claimed to be infallible: he has changed his mind on many subjects and will continue to do so as the evidence may require. For example, he was an early supporter of Barry Goldwater for all the wrong reasons: to wit, that Goldwater denigrated social security without realizing that much of the fund goes to widows, survivors and the "disabled." When this was brought to Ned's attention he immediately changed his tune. Moreover, he supported Goldwater because, in those regrettable times, Ned was unenlightened on the subject of brotherhood and racial equality, having grown up among the poisonous weeds of the South. Moreover, he thought that deficits and the national debt were anathema, much like the ignoramuses of the modern extreme Right, until it was (patiently) explained to him that the country's investors needed a place to park their money that is absolutely safe. Ned, however, is forever grateful that he was never a supporter of that Supreme Ayatollah of the ignorant, Ronald Reagan.
But we digress.
Back to our hypothesis: Ned thinks it is at least arguable that selfish narcissists glide through life absolutely convinced that they are right about everything and everyone else is a cretin, unworthy of their notice. Ned thinks this may apply to those of extreme political views more so than other cohorts, because of his experiences with both right wing and left wing extremists who are to ready to insult (in print of course) anyone whose views do not agree with their own. Ned considers some of his own views to be left wing, such as his hatred of the sneering plutocracy, and other perhaps to more appropriately be called rightish--such as his rather extreme views on immigration.
At least, that is Ned's hypothesis.
(Smiley face here.)

Friday, October 29, 2010

A new Contempt Citation

Ned's next Contempt Citation goes to National Blowhard, self-styled 'intellectual', dethroned House Speaker and defender of marriage Newt Gingrich, who, in a speech before that bastion of intellectual enquiry Liberty "University", offered this jewel: "Imagine a small secular political elite imposing its radical values on a massive majority of worshippers. You can see how strange Poland was -- or maybe you can see how relevant this story is to America today."
Or, maybe you can't.
(h/t TPM)

Thursday, October 28, 2010


Ned had occasion to drive (yes, he occasionally drives, and let his enemies make the most of it) to his health club and back yesterday due to an imminent delivery. His route took him up Arrowwood Drive. As he turned onto Arrowwood, he noted a Prius passing him. Then to his surprise and delight, that Prius in turn was passed by another Prius going the other way. Now, this is no longer an unusual occurrence in as progressive a place as Oregon, although residents of benighted places like Mississippi and Tennessee (outside Nashville of course) would find much to marvel at. No friends, what set Ned to musing was the fact that (1) Toyota has sold upwards of TWO MILLION PRIUSES in the US alone since 2000, and (2) the GM CEO in 2000 said 'nobody wants hybrids in this country, they all want SUVs and trucks, and we intend to give Americans what they want.' "Fast-forward" to 2009 and GM is bankrupt, due to the sneering arrogant idiots who ran the company (into the ground, of course) and the UAW which clawed and scratched for every dime of filthy lucre it could get.
Now, of course, Toyota remains one of the most profitable companies in the world and makes lots of money on each Prius, while GM is a ward of the state, having been bailed out by taxpayers to the tune of several tens of billions of (borrowed) money.
Once again we see the sneering plutocrat class land on its feet while its cringing, sniveling, lickspittle enablers in the Republican Party press for ever more tax cuts for the same sneering elites that ran Lehman, GM, Chrysler, Citi, Wachovia and a hundred other companies into the ground and walked away with millions in golden parachutes, like Halfbright Fellow Carly Fiorina with her private jet from the slobbering complaisant fools on the Board of Directors at HP.
And the "Tea Party" voters are set to crawl out from under their rocks and give the plutocrats and Republicans even more, at the expense of the few sane people left in this place.
Is this a great country or what?

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The election

Ned has decided to speak "out" on the upcoming election. It is certainly the Democrats' election to lose. They came into office with a real mandate, not the sham "mandate" of the Bush regime, and what did they do with it? Ned recalls the Bush stooges pushing through the tax cuts that are the source of much of the country's fiscal trouble in the Senate in 2001 on a TIE VOTE. That's right, friends, Dick Cheney had to crawl out from under his rock to cast the tie-breaking vote, 51-50. But what do we hear now from the cringing, pants-wetting Democrats in the Senate? "(High, whiny, nasally voice) We need sixty votes to pass anything and the mean Republicans won't work with us!"
Where is the leadership to translate a big majority into action? Does anyone believe this so-called health care reform bill represents real change? It basically enshrines the for-profit health "insurance" industry, and guarantees them billions in profits, and billions in overhead fees. Sneering plutocrat CEOs making tens of millions a year. When did Ned wake up and find that "for-profit health care" made any sense?
So the Dems wet their collective pants when the Republicans stood in the way in the Senate. For that, Ned blames the Senate leadership, and the buck stops with Harry Reid. Should Reid be defeated by the Candidate from Another Planet, Sharrrrron Angle, the country and the Democrats could in the long run be better for it. They need someone like Dick Durbin as Majority Leader.
In the House, let the bastards take it over. Maybe they'll put some sense in federal immigration policy. This country has about eleven million unemployed and about elveen million illegal immigrants who will work for a pittance. Do the math. Other than that, they won't get anything done except "investigations", and since the Obama people have basically done nothing anyway, maybe they'll get around to investigating the crimes of the Bush regime and put that criminal Dubya behind bars where he belongs, along with Cheney, Rumsfeld, Condoleezzzzza Rice and that despicable crew that got us into this mess.
Now, having said all that, the by-and-largely ignorant "voters" ultimately deserve the blame for whatever happens, and that includes all the black folks who came out for Obama mainly because he was black, but won't lift a finger to support Democratic candidates who could help with his agenda, such as it is.
Ned concludes with the Bard: "A Pox on all their houses."

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Another contempt citation

Ned's second Contempt Citation goes to that intellectual Titan, Mitch McConnell, Minority Leader of the Senate, for declaring that the Obama administration, is "trying to turn us into Western Europe as fast as they can," but of course, those wily voters, perceiving this nefarious plot, are having none of it. Ned is sure that tens if not hundreds of millions of Western Europeans are likewise breathing collective sighs of relief.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Ned's first Contempt Citation

In response to (no discernible) popular demand, Ned has decided to add regular Contempt Citations to his (and Q A Wagstaff, FRS's) Halfbright Fellowships, to be awarded for an Act of Excessive Stupidity or Egregious Mauling of the English Language.
Ned's first trial CC goes to the unnamed news summary writer who reported that "a British fisherman has joined the select list who can claim to have caught a tigerfish, the most dangerous fish in the ocean." Ned would point out with contempt that anyone can CLAIM to have caught one, just as anyone can claim to be a witch, to be The Second Coming of George Washington, or to have been abducted and experimented on by aliens.
Congratulations to our lucky winner!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Three brief items

Ned has time, regrettably, for only three brief items, but he will have more to say on at least one of them later:
1. Ned encourages all his followers to read his other blog for the latest in health tips, news and recipes.
2. The media report today that Google pays taxes at a rate of 2.4%, so the next time some craven pants-wetting Republican apologist for sneering plutocrats whines nasally about the unfairness of corporate taxes, tell them that.
3. Ned wonders why there is a class of persons who feel they must let the water run in the sink while they shave. The amount of water and energy wasted is enormous, and the avoidable greenhouse gases colossal, all for nothing, and many of them are the same whiners about taxes and how high their utility bills are.
(Smiley face here.)

Gun nuts

Ned cannot, for the life of him, understand the "mentality" of the gun crazy fraction of the adult population of this benighted country. Today comes word of some idiot who carried an M16 into a Michigan football game. On top of that, we have crazies waving firearms at political rallies, where the President is portrayed as a Nazi and worse. Sow the wind, reap the whirlwind. The situation seems to Ned to have gotten worse, if that is imaginable, over the past twenty years, perhaps beginning with the demonization of Bill Clinton by the Republican slime machine, which of course was picked up by media outlets more interested in fomenting controversy than any real analysis of events. Then Fox "News" entered the picture and all the 24/7 Cable Channels, with their "all hysteria, all the time" mentality.
What worries Ned is that the average person in this country is not very smart, and to Ned's way of thinking, only slightly removed from a severe form of mental illness--paranoia, psychosis, or what-have-you. In fact, this is not as hyperbolic as it may seem, since "experts" attest that around 20% of adults have some sort of mental problem at some time in their lives.
Combine this nascent paranoia/psychosis with the hysterical presentation of events by cable along with the ready availability of guns and ammo, and you have a conflagration ready to happen. Ned only wonders why it hasn't happened sooner, and then he remembers Oklahoma City, Columbine, VPI, ad nauseum, and wonders how many more of those we will have to endure before we achieve some sort of gun sanity in the US.
He is not hopeful.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Sometimes bad things just happen

In more news, the Graco Stroller people have "recalled" millions of baby "strollers" made since 2008 because 4 children have reportedly strangled in them. Now, Ned would feel devastated if one of his children were to strangle in a stroller, but sometimes shit happens, and its nobody's fault.
But wait. The strollers were manufactured in -- you guessed it--China, at of course the cheapest possible price. And if you look at these things, they are almost bewilderingly complicated, with all sorts of "fail-safe" add-ons designed, apparently, to protect the infant during transit. But even so, 4 children dead out of two million seems infinitesimally few tragedies, when dozens of children are shot each year, hundreds are poisoned, hundreds more are beaten to death by "parents", and dozens more are left to cook in cars, abandoned by their parents.
Ned wonders moreover how children who are attended by their parents could strangle. Aren't these kids being watched? Are the ones who died in the care of nannies?
Like so many "news" stories, Ned expects that the devil is in the details, but wonders how many "bereaved" parents will take advantage of this tragedy to sue the manufacturer for millions.
Stay tuned.

An SSDI boondoggle?

Salon magazine recently did a study of the impact of Social Security Disability payouts. SSD Insurance is a little-known part of the Social Security system, along with survivor's benefits. These two parts explain why only simpletons say one could make just as much return by investing one's SS payments in the stock market, or government bonds or even the white slave trade, favored by some of the sneering plutocrat crowd in countries like Lower Slobbovia. But we digress.
The not-so-startling conclusion of the article is that we are spending more than $180 billion a year paying people "disability" for life, or until they decide to work or notify SS they are "cured." The main reason people get SS Disability: "mental" problems.
Now, most people know someone who knows someone on disability, but most of us are unaware of the colossal expense of the system--Ned will refrain from calling it a scam.
Still, $180 billion a year ain't hay, and according to the article the number of people applying for disability is--surprise!--growing each year.
Wonder how many of these folks are really disabled, how many of them are elderly immigrants whose sponsors, usually family members, promised to support them but reneged, and how many of them have conned some psychologist into certifying that they are mentally "disabled?"
The payments aren't colossal, not like the payouts to sneering plutocrats like Mark Hurd or Halfbright Fellow Carly Fiorina, only averaging about a grand a month. Still, how many of Ned's followers wouldn't take a grand a month if it fell into their hands?

Saturday, October 16, 2010

More dead miners

In a barely-noticed story in today's NYT, Ned observes that yet another coal-mine disaster has occurred in China, killing between 20 and 40 miners. Ned's readers might like to know that he has co-authored a book in part describing the real cost of importing "goods" from China, as that country relies overwhelmingly on dirty coal to produce heavily-subsidized electricity. The Chinese government acknowledges that 2,600 miners were killed last year, but labor and environmental activists put that number at maybe twice that high. Every time we buy something from China we take a little bit of that blood on our hands. And we may well ask as did Macbeth, "Will all great Neptune's ocean wash this blood clean from my hand? No, this my hand will rather the multitudinous seas incarnadine, making the green one red."
And our coal industry, for all its faults, suffered only 34 fatalities, still too high, in all of last year. But because we put a high price on dead miners, and the Chinese put a small one, they can make products that can undercut in price anything our people can make. Furthermore, since fuel for cargo ships is untaxed and the fuel is the dirtiest and cheapest available, it literally costs less to ship an item from China to Portland than it does to ship the same item from LA to Portland by truck. And, our own government, Republican or Democrat, stands idly by, sniveling, cringing and wetting its pants at the very thought of offending the WTO or the Chinese.
The next time you see a Chinese-made item on a shelf, say to yourself, "Nothing to see here folks, move along. Move along."

Voter Polls

Alfred North Whitehead is reported to have said, "It takes a very unusual mind to undertake an analysis of the obvious." Having been forewarned, Ned's readers are invited to engage in the following such endeavor.
Ned is wearied to his very soul when faced with the tiresome necessity of dealing with the incessant drumbeat of "poll" after "poll", purporting to take the mood of some portion of the voting age population. One of Ned's most painful experiences occurs when he has to deal with those polls which purport to measure the "satisfaction" of the voters with Obama. Such polls today generally show the voters are more dissatisfied than satisfied with the President, by about 46% to 43%.
Ned must point out that these sorts of responses do not measure whether Americans would VOTE for Obama, only whether they agree with the direction of the country. Many persons are dissatisfied because they feel the President does not go nearly far enough in health care reform and tax increases on the filthy rich plutocracy. Others comprise the usual bunch of hate-filled Republicans. Ned would opine, if he were done the great favor to be asked, that he is dissatisfied with the President, but that in no way translates into an iota of support for the anti-intellectual, conniving, scheming, lying, sanctimonious hypocrites that comprise his opposition. A more cringing bunch of snakes in the grass and wolves in sheep's clothing it is hard to imagine (and Ned has a vivid imagination, let it be said).
So the next time you read a "poll" that concludes that the voters are dissatisfied with Obama, remember the devil is in the details.

Friday, October 15, 2010


The NYT and other media are reporting that, following the SS law, there will be no "cost of living" increase in Social Security checks next year. Already the geezer entitlement crowd (of which Ned is a proud member) is commencing a loud shrill nasally whine demanding that the actuarial basis for an increase be damned and 'we want our increase and we want it now!'
Earth to geezers: the country is in financial trouble, brought about by monumental greed, selfishness, and mismanagement by such 'free market' darlings as Alan Greenspan and Halfbright Fellow George W Bush. Wall Street and the sneering plutocrat crowd got obscenely rich at the country's expense, and the voters who enabled them justified it by hoping to pick up a few half-eaten crumbs at the foot of the rich folks table, otherwise known as 'trickle-down economics.'
Now, it IS true that many geezers, perhaps one-third, depend on SS for most if not all of their income. For those, Ned would propose a food-stamp debit card containing perhaps $200 a month until inflation rears its head to the extent that SS checks can rise. To the rest of us, the remaining two thirds that have additional sources of income, Ned would say please shut the **** up and stop whining. Ned reminds all of us that Medicare premiums will not rise for the vast majority (+80%) of SS recipients when no SS raise is forthcoming. And many of the poorest retirees only have Medicare Part A which is free anyway.
And remember: we all got a 5.8% raise a couple of years ago, which was due to a quirk in the law.
Now, shut up and pass the rum.

Content-free content

In his weekly "job" as a political volunteer, Ned had occasion to read a "Letter to the Editor" in his local paper. In it, a presumably well-meaning and earnest woman encouraged readers to vote for "conservative" candidates, who support "lower taxes, less government, and faith in Americans and American values."
Now, Ned is convinced that the writer believes she is making perfect sense, but Ned points to it as yet another example of a series of content-free statements. What are "American values?" and what form does "faith in Americans" take? One wonders whether this person has "faith" in all Americans, or just Americans who look and think (if that word applies here) like her?
She further proposes that we "suit regulations to need", and Ned would very much like to know the details of that little gem, as, no doubt, would the residents of Louisiana since 2004.
She closes her letter with the exhortation that we "live within our means" and "balance our budgets", but Ned is sure that she doesn't want to have programs cut that benefit her or her family, or, perhaps, repeal taxpayer funding to send her children through school.
In short, Ned would encourage all such letter writers to think before they leap, and include at least some substance in such typically content-free material.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Not forgotten

While Ned has been practically incommunicado for several days, on undercover assignment as he is in his Undisclosed Location in the wilds of northern New Mexico, he wishes to assure his perhaps nervous followers that he has not forgotten them. Upon his return to Home Base on Tuesday he will have more pithy and prescient remarks to make on the global, national, and, yes, local scene. For today, suffice it to say that Ned has been following the Governor's race in New Mexico with some interest, and learns that both candidates favor denying illegal immigrants the right to a driver's license. They also favor punishing employers who knowingly hire illegals. This is good news to the otherwise bleeding heart Trotskyite Ned because he feels there are too few decent jobs for Americans, and the reason immigration apologists can claim that 'there are jobs here that Americans won't do' is clearly because there are desperate people here illegally who will woek for peanuts, thus undercutting the opportunities for citizens.
Some of Ned's less logically orientred readers may disagree but Ned would advise them to, with the greatest respect, shut up.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

More undercover work

Ned has returned to an undisclosed location in Northern New Mexico to continue his undercover surveillance work. He can report that it makes little sense to fly into Colorado Springs in order to drive to Taos, as it is a 4 and 1/2 hour drive, I-25 is no amusement park, and Colorado Springs, while populated by happy and friendly persons, and blessed with a salubrious climate, seemed on the whole to Ned to be a Stepford Wife sort of locale, full as it was of persons of a military persuasion or religious fanaticism (or, regrettably, both). His Undisclosed Location, however, has proved so far to be very satisfactory. So far, Ned has built a fire, and encountered a local in the process of shooting pigeons to use as catfish bait. Ned assures his followers that he is not so dismissive of their time as to be making this up. Apparently the catfish are habited in the Rio Grande and are of sufficient size as to swallow a modest-sized pigeon in one gulp, or so Ned's source attested. Ned wished him well as he collected his sack of sacrificial pigeons, and turned his attention to the main unclassified purpose for his trip, an art exhibition featuring one of his favorite artists, Angus Macdonald. Ned will have a more extensive report ready for his friends at a later date.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Stigmatizing the "poor"

Mayor Bloomberg of NYC has proposed the novel idea of prohibiting food-stamp users from buying sodas and other sugary drinks with taxpayer dollars. The reason: at least 40% of children in NYC are overweight or obese, most of these are poor and on food stamps, and any fool knows that drinking cola and other such crap is a leading cause of obesity. The Ag Dept is said to be "seriously considering" this request.
Now Ned's readers, and those who read his companion blog, nedshealthandfitness, know of Ned's commitment to health. So, Bloomberg's proposal would seem to be a no-brainer, since the people on food-stamps would not have their benefits cut one cent. And they could still buy sodas if they wanted, only not at the taxpayer's expense, who is also paying for their diabetes and other obesity-related illnesses. And their emergency-room visits, etc.
As one might expect, however, the usual whiny bleeding-heart suspects have crawled out from under their rocks to decry this as an attempt to 'stigmatize' welfare users. Some idiot with the Center For Science in the Public Interest (!) was quoted thusly, "there are a great many ethical reasons to consider why one would not want to stigmatize people on food stamps."
Ned wold respond, after slapping his foolish face, that obese children are already terribly stigmatized, and anything that contributes to reducing obesity will help their self-esteem enormously.
Now, of course the "beverage" manufacturers oppose this proposal, saying it is 'just another attempt on the part of government to tell people what they can and can't have.' (One wonders why the cigarette makers don't use the same ingenious argument.)
No, friends, Ned would say to those who oppose Bloomberg's proposed ban on "ethical" grounds to crawl back under their rocks and leave Planet Earth to its rightful inhabitants.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Shower etiquete

Ned's foray to his "sports club" today was not without another opportunity to make one of his typically pithy observations on the human condition. Ned's shower room has six shower heads, spaced three on each wall, facing each other. As Ned was undressing, he heard the water running on one of them, but, since his vision does not extend to the x-ray spectrum, he cold not tell which one. Imagine his surprise, and delight, to find a narcissist in possession of a middle shower. Now, Ned's more astute followers will immediately ask, perhaps, why anyone entering an empty shower room with three showers on each wall would take the middle one, thus making it awkward for the next individual to use one of the adjacent showers. Ned would always choose one of the end showers in such a circumstance, so as to allow the next user to comfortably use the end shower on the same side, but would never choose a middle shower unless one of two circumstances was in evidence: first, if the middle showers were better than the end ones, and second, if a middle shower were the only choice. Neither of these circumstances applied here.
Ned would conclude, perhaps too harshly he admits, that he witnessed yet another example of narcissistic, selfish behavior on the part of a Being gliding through life, blissfully unaware that other humans are in residence on the planet as well.
One day, Ned will have something to say about shower spitters, the lowest of the low, but for now he will quietly, and as unobtrusively as possible, slink away...

Sunday, October 3, 2010

The National Debt

Ned has read that a darling of the "Tea Partiers", extraterrestrial eye doctor and Ayn Rand worshiper "Rand" Paul has declared that the most important problem facing this country is the-- wait for it-- not unemployment, not political corruption, not climate change, not moral decay, not tooth decay, not hair spray, not even manta rays, or even lines at the Post Office, but "the national debt."
Now, Ned knows about as much about the ins and outs of the national debt as most reasonably educated humans, meaning not much, but he does know one thing: if something is in big demand from foreigners and the filthy sneering rich in this country as well, it can't be much of a problem. Now take the National Debt. It looks big, as does the deficit. But if one compares, say, the deficit to that of, say, 1865, which was three TIMES federal revenue, it doesn't look that serious, especially with many millions of people unemployed, and 11 million illegal immigrants waiting to take any available job they can get at starvation wages.
Nor does the debt loom bad when you consider how much the gummint has to pay in interest each year to keep it going: 10-year Treasuries are paying 2.5%. This means, for those who are mathematically-challenged, we pay $25 billion a year for each TRILLION in debt. So, if we have a $13 trillion debt, most due to the policies of Bush I and II, and, oh yes, Ronald Reagan, we pay $325 billion a year in interest, most of which goes to rich sneering plutocrats in this country, japan and the UK. Now, if we wish to address the deficit in part caused by these interest payments, we could try CUTTING WAR SPENDING, WHICH IS RUNNING AT AN OBSCENE $800 BILLION A YEAR.
One thing Ned recalls is a lecture by distinguished economist (and there aren't many of them) Robert Heilbroner (sp?) who said that if we didn't have a National Debt we'd have to invent one, because people have to have an absolutely safe place to park their money. So the very plutocrats who make up the sneering rich, and their lickspittle sycophants in the Republican Party would be aghast if there was no National Debt.
So, please, "Rand" Paul and all other mental midgets and self-styled "libertarians", do your logic homework, and have the goodness to stop "off" to kiss Ned's a** when you leave.
And please don't slam the door as you slither out.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Fool efficiency

Ned recalls with a bit of sentimental nostalgia when the world was new, and innocence flourished. About that time, the country began to get serious about auto fuel efficiency. After spending billions of dollars in R and D and retooling, the American auto companies were dragged kicking and screaming into the post-OPEC age. National fuel-efficiency standards, after a fashion, became the policy, if not strictly the law, of the land. But as soon as we thought in our innocence and simplicity that the battle had been won, someone came up with the SUV, and, calling it a truck, undermined years of fuel-efficiency rules. Then, someone thought of putting "bug deflectors" on their trucks and SUVs, thereby rendering any gains in aerodynamic design useless.
And so things stood for a decade. Now, the Obama people have undone years of Bush foot-dragging and auto industry stubbornness (leading to GM and Chrysler bankruptcies, by the way, but we digress), and increased the fuel-efficiency standards again, to something where they should have been twenty years ago.
But a new demon has quietly raised its ugly head, again promising to undo years of regulation and work, proving, yet again, that there's no accounting for human fecklessness. Ned speaks now of the "car top carrier." Look around you, and count the number of cars that sport these ridiculous devices, which, Ned is assured, are almost always empty. The bottom line: people are losing 10-20% of the fuel efficiencies of their vehicles by putting these anti-aerodynamic devices on top of their cars, all for nothing, since they are almost always empty.
Ned proposes that we scrap all fuel-efficiency standards and institute a $5/gallon fuel tax. Let the bastards drive what they want, and MAKE THEM PAY.

Friday, October 1, 2010

voluntary servitude

Ned's more cultivated readers will no doubt be aware that, before World War One in Europe, and before the '60s here, a large class of persons were gainfully employed as domestic servants. Ned recalls his mother, hardly more than lower middle class (but satisfied with it), having several domestics who served us with dignity, and faithfully and well. To them we paid a modest wage, which included at least one meal and "carfare."
Today, voluntary servitude may be making a comeback, but in the form mainly of hired "maids" who come to clean the houses of busy professional persons, mainly women, like Ned's cherished daughter-in-law.
Alas, hiring such persons continues to be a bane to some of those of the sneering plutocrat class. Most recently, the California GOP Governor candidate, obscenely rich plutocrat Meg Whitman, has been caught hiring an illegal immigrant as a domestic servant for $23 an hour. Meg's story is (and she's sticking to it), when she found out that her Hispanic employee had forged documents, she fired her.
The domestic's story is, Ned's readers can appreciate, somewhat different. In fact, her "case" if that's what it is, has been taken up by a high-priced lawyer, Gloria Allred.
The whole situation is beginning to develop all the trappings of a made-for-cable reality TV drama. But we digress.
Ned's point in raising this matter is to wonder why these plutocrats insist on hiring persons of dubious legality, when there are millions of persons in this country willing and able to produce a valid birth certificate and more than happy to do domestic service (under somewhat less-than-onerous conditions, Ned surmises) for $23 an hour plus meals. So why do these persons hire overwhelmingly Hispanics, when most of the illegals seeking work in this country are, without prejudice--just stating facts--Hispanic. Is it they feel that these persons are likely to be illegal and so would be willing to do what they are told and, "What is the phrase? No questions will be asked" (h/t Peter Lorre).
Ned would like to take this opportunity to express to his plutocrat readers his willingness, for $23 an hour, to don a tuxedo and serve as door-opener or butler to any plutocrat in need of such assistance.
Ned can even commandeer a passable English accent if desired (at no extra charge).