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The Horror of Paying Over Minimum Wage

English: 1978–1979 Honda Civic 3-door hatchbac...

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This insightful article in CFO Magazine alerts employers avoid the (apparently common) pitfall of paying employees too much:

The Worst Thing You Can Do to an Employee

The example they use is of a person earning $12.50 an hour for work that the rest of the market only pays $8.50 for.

Here are the perilous dangers, as noted by writers Doug White and Polly White:

  1. Overpaid employees don’t know they are being overpaid!
  2. Because they don’t know they are overpaid, they live beyond their realistic means
  3. When the inevitable layoff occurs, the sad employee cannot adjust to earning what he or she actually “deserves” to earn

“Paying significantly above market rates to employees who cannot justify the premium through increased output is not only irresponsible, it’s an abrogation of the company’s fiduciary responsibility to its shareholders.

Most people who find themselves out of work will try to replace the income they have just lost. They believe they can, because they think they are worth what they were making. Refusal to accept lower-paying jobs lengthens unemployment and makes matters worse. They try to hang on to the lifestyle they built, not realizing they will never again attain their former level of income. We’ve seen cars repossessed, foreclosures on homes, broken marriages, and even suicide.”

Note the paternalistic condescension. Wrap your brain around the assumptions made in this article.

Do the authors imagine that with the “extra” $4.00 an hour difference between the “overpaid” and the “properly paid” employee will mean the difference between a used Honda Civic and a Ferrari?

Unbeknownst to the likes of people who write for CFO Magazine, people making the wages described are quite capable and practiced at making the most of their meager wages.

The authors give no word on how overpaying CEOs of companies that lose tons of money is unfair to the all-important shareholders or to the poor CEOs.

I guess that’s because in the current corporate world, CEOs are like migrant farm workers, moving from place to place collecting a crop of benefits, stock options and bonus compensation without worry of having to adjust their lifestyles one iota — even after fucking things up royally.

It sounds to me that the compensation package of the Whites should be scrutinized to make sure they aren’t earning more than the market bears for shovelling bullshit.

We wouldn’t want to be unfair to them.



December 7, 2011 Posted by | Economics, Media Criticism, Wall Street | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Alan Moore on Frank Miller

If you remember a few weeks back, comic legend Frank Miller decided to take down the Occupy Wall Street movement with some choice slurs.

SF writer David Brin came back with a deconstruction of Miller’s world view by dismantling Miller’s history-challenged “300”.

Now, Alan Moore puts in his two cents:

Alan Moore Responds to Frank Millers ‘Occupy’ Rant

I have always been a huge fan of Moore’s work. I love that the guy is crazy and always pushing the envelope. He’s unafraid of touching any material.

Miller, on the other hand, helped change comics in the late 80s with his take on characters who were at that point getting stale.

His work since then has been kinda Meh.

Miller’s work is riddled with right-wing fantasy and misogyny, and most criminal of all seems to have stayed absolutely still for decades, opting to move into film.

His last film offering, “The Spirit” in 2008 was a boring disappointment.

Miller’s comments on OWS really struck a nerve with comic book fans and now Moore:

“Well, Frank Miller is someone whose work I’ve barely looked at for the past twenty years. I thought the Sin City stuff was unreconstructed misogyny, 300 appeared to be wildly ahistoric, homophobic and just completely misguided. I think that there has probably been a rather unpleasant sensibility apparent in Frank Miller’s work for quite a long time. Since I don’t have anything to do with the comics industry, I don’t have anything to do with the people in it. I heard about the latest outpourings regarding the Occupy movement. It’s about what I’d expect from him. It’s always seemed to me that the majority of the comics field, if you had to place them politically, you’d have to say centre-right. That would be as far towards the liberal end of the spectrum as they would go. I’ve never been in any way, I don’t even know if I’m centre-left. I’ve been outspoken about that since the beginning of my career. So yes I think it would be fair to say that me and Frank Miller have diametrically opposing views upon all sorts of things, but certainly upon the Occupy movement.

“As far as I can see, the Occupy movement is just ordinary people reclaiming rights which should always have been theirs. I can’t think of any reason why as a population we should be expected to stand by and see a gross reduction in the living standards of ourselves and our kids, possibly for generations, when the people who have got us into this have been rewarded for it; they’ve certainly not been punished in any way because they’re too big to fail. I think that the Occupy movement is, in one sense, the public saying that they should be the ones to decide who’s too big to fail. It’s a completely justified howl of moral outrage and it seems to be handled in a very intelligent, non-violent way, which is probably another reason why Frank Miller would be less than pleased with it. I’m sure if it had been a bunch of young, sociopathic vigilantes with Batman make-up on their faces, he’d be more in favour of it. We would definitely have to agree to differ on that one.”

What he said.


December 5, 2011 Posted by | Civil Rights, Entertainment, Media Criticism, Politics, Republicans, Tea Party, Unemployment, Wall Street | , , , | Leave a comment

Nice Takedown of Katie Roiphe

Over at Salon.

Katie Roiphe discovers the Internet can be mean

If you don’t know who Katie Roiphe is, she’s the writer (currently writing for Slate) who has made a two decades-long career of dismissing women’s complaints of sexual harassment and date rape:

Katie Roiphe still doesn’t understand sexual harassment

In Roiphe’s world, women should grow a thick skin, and learn that demeaning salty sailor-talk in the workplace is fun!

Except when it comes to her.

Then she can barely disguise her hurt when people respond to her from outside her bubble — you know, that real world.

Her rant is here: Back Off, Angry Commenters

A representative sample:

Though I haven’t admittedly done a scientific study, it’s my impression that angry commenters are a little harder on women writers than male writers, for reasons I am not sure of, though angry commenters themselves are both male and female.

Roiphe’s rigorous research on complex, broad-ranging subjects appears to consist of scribbling overheard nuggets from conversations at the upscale cocktail parties she attends.

Salon writer Mary Elizabeth Williams comments on how completely alienated from reality Roiphe’s writings are, and brings the knife:

There’s something almost painful in the profoundly unself-aware yammerings of someone clearly so unnerved by readers who get “some small thrill in hating something,” when that’s Roiphe’s entire raison d’etre. You can’t fully blame Katie Roiphe for being so clueless. But every new missive generates the same unease you feel watching the tone-deaf mortify themselves on “American Idol” auditions. People don’t read Katie Roiphe pieces for her insights. They read them because someone else told them, “Oh my God, you won’t believe the bottle of whine she opened up this time.”

Roiphe, like a number of other media “social commentators” share the cultural acumen of Pat Robertson (macaroni and cheese – exotic new African American foodstuff).


December 2, 2011 Posted by | Media Criticism | Leave a comment

The Decline of Paper Books

A friend of mine shared a link on Facebook today about the book business.

“Barnes & Noble Up, Borders Down” details B&N’s celebration of fourth quarter sales by the New York-based (and largest book retailer in the world).

However, the sales did not really come from selling paper books.

The company attributed the gains partly to interest in its e-reading devices, especially the Nook Color, which was introduced last fall.

I have worked at a bookstore on and off for 15 years, and have noticed a steady decline in the number of people who come in regularly to browse and buy.

The regular browsers have disappeared, having purchased an e-reader of one kind or another.

Despite the sales pitch, these devices are anti-social and raise some serious concerns about the future of society and our political system.

Some concerns:


  • Eliminate face-to-face human contact and the direct dialogue.
  • Help foster the already rampant epistemic closure that threatens the free exchange of ideas (something necessary in democratic society).
  • Put a reader’s access to information in the hands of corporations (see digital rights management).
  • Remove the incentive to publishers to actually produce physical books (why go through the expense, when you can put a file up on a server?)
  • Will cost hundreds of thousands of jobs, once enough people purchase them and make physical books way too expensive
  • Will bar information access to people who cannot afford computers, e-readers and the cost of books

Much of the above has already happened with the proliferation of a cable news station devoted to partisan bickering and the equally virulent sites on the internet.

Most young people don’t read, and most older people only read what the personalities on television tell them to.

The kids I see in bookstores almost invariably are there for an assigned book (ridiculously mispronouncing book titles and authors) or for the latest in teen “romance”.

There is actually a section of on major retailer for “teen paranormal romance”.

Older people come in to get books on the bestseller list, or political books they see hawked on television by Fox News drones.

Fewer and fewer come into the bookstore to really browse and intelligently seek out books on interesting subjects.

People are told what to read, usually by a corporate marketing machine, or a political propaganda outlet. Obediently they shuffle in, grab the book in question, and leave — never glancing at anything else in the store.

We have become a nation, perhaps a world of sheep-like consumers, conforming to marketing needs of corporations.

How else to explain the runaway success of the offensive “Eat, Pray, Love”?

E-reader devices are only going to accelerate this process, and make it harder for people to break out of their boxes and expand their horizons.

Can you imagine that browsing books online will ever be as satisfying as wandering any bookstore and finding a previously unknown work that immediately grabs your interest? Me neither.

Don’t get me wrong, I love gadgets, and some of the e-readers are nifty and do some amazing, useful things, but I fear that the end of printed books is closer than you may think.

Last nail? Meet coffin.

Soon, books may go the way of the CD, and the DVD movie rental place.

Hopefully, creative people can come up with solutions to the above problems that the end of print will bring, but I am not optimistic.

I can’t help being sad about the decline of books.

In my lifetime, I have seen the beautiful artistry and package design of LP records shrink to the palm-sized jewel cases for CDs, which will soon give way to files on a thumb-sized MP3 player.

Similarly, I have seen the death of Betamax and VHS, and the birth and decline of DVDs and Blu-Ray — which will likely be supplanted by file downloads before I die.

The saddest part of all for me is watching the parade of people  in and out of the bookstore, who don’t realize that with every “I’ll just order it online” and “I just got my Kindle/Nook/Sony” they are helping kill a piece of culture that I have had a personal and satisfying relationship with.

For the time being, I will console myself with a long-standing practice: I will continue to hoard books in my apartment, collecting sturdy volumes of classics and my favorites to pass on to my children and to lend to (trustworthy) friends.

As Egon says in “Ghostbusters” — “print is dead”.

Long live print.


January 7, 2011 Posted by | Books, Entertainment, Media Criticism, Technology, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Compare and Contrast

Cropped headshot of Keith Olbermann

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It seems that MSNBC has taken swift action against one of it’s liberal stars for donating to three Democrats in the recent midterm campaign cycle.
Keith Olbermann SUSPENDED From MSNBC Indefinitely Without Pay

The major crime, it appears, is not requesting permission from NBC brass before doing so.

Over at another cable outlet, one that pretends to be “balance” for the super biased liberal media, standards are different.

Let’s take a look at the journalistic ethics of Fox News:

  • Allowed Glenn Beck to attend, host and promote Tea Parties across the nation
  • News Corp donated $1 million to the Republican Governors Association
  • Fox News sponsored several Tea Parties, providing millions in free advertising
  • Fox “reporters” at the anti-Democrat protests were caught stage-managing the crowds to push a particular message
  • The cable outlet coordinated attacks on specific Obama Administration employees by fabricating false stories (Media Matters has a nice summation, “2009: A Year of Fox News Political Activism”
  • The Media Matters piece also mentions that they allowed sleaze operative Dick Morris to raise money on air.
  • In coordination with lie-merchant Andrew Breitbart, Fox launched a sustained campaign of falsehoods and misinformation about ACORN

Anyway, you get the idea.

By the way, Fox personalities regularly make appearances to pump up the conservative base and donate money to conservative candidates like clockwork.

I’m counting down to hear the snickers and feigned outrage from the right. And I’m also sighing and rolling my eyes in advance of hearing:

“MSNBC is exactly like Fox!”

No it isn’t. Not even a little bit.


November 5, 2010 Posted by | Fox News, Media Criticism, Politics, Tea Party | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Conflict Of Interest, Much?

The current logo of Fox Television

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It looks like the liberal media has finally shown its true colors after disclosing they are spending millions to elect Democrats into office.

Oh, wait — it was News Corp (owner of Faux News), and they just spent another million to get Republicans back in office:

“News Corp spends another million bucks on electing Republicans”

Conservatives from mainstream newspapers to the blogosphere immediately decried the move, lambasting Fox, and….well, no.


The donation, to the extremely right-wing U.S. Chamber of Commerce, follows another $1 million gift to the Republican Governor’s Association earlier this year.

Imagine the outcry had the situation been reversed.

At least there is transparency to disclose this fact — not that it will make any difference.

Fox lost whatever claim it had to being a news organization long ago, and has regularly confirmed their status as a propaganda arm of the GOP by their on air sponsorship of the Tea Party rallies and manufacture of race-baiting non-stories designed to whip up their low-information following.


October 1, 2010 Posted by | Democrats, Fox News, Media Criticism, Politics, Republicans | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

GOP Darling Does Something Offensive Again

Senators Office Arrests

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You might remember Jame O’Keefe.

He’s the arrogant little punk who videotaped ACORN workers, and then intercut the video with scenes to make it look like they were assisting him in a prostitution ring.

Of course, it was later revealed (way too late) that it was all a fabrication.

Congress cut all funds and ties to ACORN, and the organization pretty much closed up shop nationally.

Several people lost jobs, and ACORN, an organization that signed up poor people to vote, was destroyed.

Which of course was their real crime. We can’t have the disenfranchised voting.

It was all part of the right wing voter suppression strategy. Study after study has shown that the more people who vote, the more likely liberals will prevail.

O’Keefe is also the guy who tried to wiretap Sen. Mary Landrieu’s office while posing as a telephone company person — in order to “prove” the senator was not responsive to constituents or some such nonsense.

He comes off as a spoiled rich brat with unlimited cash who decides to do stupid shit to people  because their existence offends him.

Well, now Salon is reporting that he has tried to “punk” a CNN reporter in a bizarre scheme that I have yet to understand:  “James O’Keefe’s planned sexual harassment “prank” goes awry”

Was O’Keefe trying to create irrefutable evidence that he has deep, disturbing problems with women?

A document “explains” his plan:

According to the document, O’Keefe was to record a video of the following script before Boudreau arrived: “My name is James. I work in video activism and journalism. I’ve been approached by CNN for an interview where I know what their angle is: they want to portray me and my friends as crazies, as non-journalists, as unprofessional and likely as homophobes, racists or bigots of some sort….

“Instead, I’ve decided to have a little fun. Instead of giving her a serious interview, I’m going to punk CNN. Abbie has been trying to seduce me to use me, in order to spin a lie about me. So, I’m going to seduce her, on camera, to use her for a video. This bubble-headed-bleach-blonde who comes on at five will get a taste of her own medicine, she’ll get seduced on camera and you’ll get to see the awkwardness and the aftermath.

It’s already part of the record that he is reflexively racist .

Remember, this is the guy that the right venerates as an example of their new journalism. He and enabler Andrew Breitbart pull disgusting stunts that destroy people in an effort to intimidate and silence discussion and opposition.

What a cad.

Update: Media Matters has a nice summation of O’Keefe’s “career”: The Lies of James O’Keefe.


September 29, 2010 Posted by | Media Criticism, Republicans | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Krugman in the Crosshairs

Paul Krugman Talk

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Apparently, Paul Krugman is continuing to be a problem for the powerful elite.

From time to time you read a snide comment or a post purporting to prove Krugman wrong. If it comes to his attention, the Nobel Prize-winng economist usually takes the argument apart like a cheap suit.

This past week, he has faced two attacks from the gatekeepers of knowledge in the media.

The first is from a media columnist who has a history of conflict of interest and of missing the point of the subjects he writes about completely.

Most of the article is standard profile fluff, but there is undercurrent of snobbery throughout that seems to say that rich people are hypocrites when they advocate for the middle class and poor.

For example, in Kurtz’ Media Notes profile of the New York Times columnist, he writes:

Krugman would seem to have an exceedingly comfortable life. There’s the large house in Princeton, described by the New Yorker as being in “Japanese modern style,” the New York apartment and the condo on the beach in St. Croix. There are trips to international conferences, most recently in Sweden and Japan. He makes a bundle on writing textbooks with his wife. People’s heads turn in restaurants, like the one where he is lunching.

So, Kurtz seems to say, why doesn’t he just shut the F*&K up?

Like many of the media elite, floating around in the rarified air (and sipping champagne with the politicians and other power brokers they write about), Kurtz cannot fathom why someone would be upset that American is going to hell in a handbasket.

After all, he’s got plenty of money, right?

Krugman started his early columns in the New York Times at the time the Bush Administration took the reigns. As Kurtz does manage to note, the Princeton professor didn’t like the lies and sleight of hand the Bush economic team used to rig the economy for the wealthy.

He called them on it in print. A lot.

This has made Krugman a target for the elite and the right, who bluster nonsensical pronouncements about magical economic forces the defy scrutiny. They usually do this without a shred of evidence to back them up, or by distorting and misreading data.

Krugman writes in a way that takes the complexity of the worlds of finance and economics and makes them understandable to the layperson.

And so, he must be marginalized. Immediately. Mercilessly.

The second attempt this week is also the most hilarious.

As reported in Salon’s “The dumbest attack on Paul Krugman, ever”, blogger Gonzalo Lira, writing for Business Insider tried to twist the Times’ columnist’s word to make it seem that he was advocating starting a war to improve the economy.

Dumb, dumb, dumb:

It’s Krugman’s disturbing, nihilist inference, which he makes over and over, tucked away in his articles, but always there, like a nasty aftertaste of a drink laced with a roofie: So maybe another total war might not be such a bad idea now, so as to get us out of this new Global Depression.

That is what I object to in Paul Krugman: He seems to be offering up another war as the only way to fix the economy.

Of course, Krugman never said or suggested any such thing.

Lira tries to state that Krugman’s reference to World War II’s role in helping bring the U.S. out of a depression (a little-debated fact among economists) as advocacy for starting another war.

Bullshit was called on Mr. Lira by large segments of the blogosphere, and Business Insider yanked the piece with a weak mea culpa:

The post that previously appeared at this URL by the writer Gonzalo Lira makes some claims about Paul Krugman’s stance on war being necessary for the economy that we feel distort Krugman’s actual stance.

It’s clear that certain factions are scrambling to find something to nail Krugman with, with little success.

It’s a good indication that what he is saying is making certain people uncomfortable.

You should read him.


September 29, 2010 Posted by | Debt, Deficit, Economics, Media Criticism, Politics, Tax Debate, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment