Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Betrayal From the Inside

Let me preface my remarks by saying I am a radical for capitalism. I'm talking about no-holds-barred, laisseze faire, free market capitalism unimpinged by misguided politicians with all the economic expertise of Neanderthals. I provide this disclaimer so my critique will not label me as another anti-capitalist, socialist/collectivist knucklehead.

On Tuesday, October 30, Merrill Lynch announced the retirement of CEO Stan O'Neal. Mr. O'Neal was shown the door after the country's largest brokerage house reported a quarterly loss of $2.24 billion dollars, the worst quarter in its 93 year history. This, combined with almost a fifty percent decrease in its stock value, sealed the CEO's fate. For his inept and incompetent mismanagement of the company, Mr' O'Neal was rewarded with a "departure package" of nearly 160 million dollars. It begs the question: How much would he have gotten had he done a good job?

These humongous golden parachutes given to failed executives goes beyond the absurd and irrational. They are fundamentally wrong for two reasons. First, they make for horrendous public relations. Big business and the corporate world have enough trouble with their image without such profligate and irresponsible spending. What is the public to think when they see their stock investments plummet and people losing their jobs, while the CEOs' responsible for the debacle receive severance packages the size of Rumania's Gross National Product? No wonder people hold a dim view of big business.

Second, these packages breed incompetence. Where is the incentive to do a good job? Who would be overly concerned with their performance and quality of their work when they will become rich whether they succeed or fail? What kind of message does this send?

What we have is a case of the "good-ole-boys" executive club taking care of one another. Once you become a member, your financial nirvana is all but guaranteed.

All it would take to end this stupidity is for one major company to come forward and declare that there will be no golden parachutes for failure. If you screw up, you get a pat on the back, six months salary and don't let the door hit you on the ass on your way out. Only trouble is, a company taking that stance would never be able to hire a quality executive--not when every other corporations is still offering the golden parachutes to top managerial talent. And who could blame them?

A CEO who heads up a successful and highly profitable firm is entitled to whatever the market will bare in terms of financial renumeration for a job well done. But to reward failure is the corporate equivalent of injecting yourself with the E Coli virus. Capitalism's biggest players may ultimately be its biggest threat.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Hillary care scare

It is a mystery as to why anyone with normal intelligence and the ability to count past ten without using their fingers would support Hillary Clinton's proposal for universal healthcare. If you've been walking around this planet for more than a couple of decades with eyes and ears intact, one thing should have become painfully obvious: Whatever government touches turns to crap. One only has to look to Social Security, Medicare and the Medicare drug program, Medicaid, the Postal Service, Fema, the IRS, the Viet Nam War, the Iraq War, ad nausem. Can you name one government bureaucracy that is run with the efficiency and cost effectiveness of Microsoft, Walmart or Toyota? Of course you can't; nonetheless, we still demand that the government take charge of our health. For those of you still clamoring for Hillary care, let me drop one more name: Walter Reed Hospital. It was only a matter of months ago that we found out about the deplorable conditions at that facility--a facility that is supposed to provide state-of-the-art care for our brave warriors injured in the ongoing war on terrorism. It is no coincidence that Walter Reed Hospital is run by the Federal Government.

Those with a socialist mindset attack our healthcare system, while praising the Canadian, Cuban and European systems. If you want a similiar system put in place in our country, consider this:

In the Canadian "single payer" system, every major medical procedure is put on a waiting list. According to Canadian physicians, patients are forced to wait twice as long as is medically reasonable for specialized care such as surgery and chemotherapy. As a result, cancer death rates are twenty percent higher than in the United States. Those who are financially able come to the US for their healthcare. So much for the glory of the Canadian system.

The National Center for Policy Analysis in Great Britain says that one in eight patients in that country is forced to wait over a year for neccessary surgery--the same surgery that patients here receive within a matter of days following diagnosis.

In his documentary "Sicko," Michael Moore paid homage to the Cuban system. What the movie didn't show was its two-tier approach to medical care. The top tier, which has access to the finest doctors and facilities, is reserved for Communist Party leaders and other elites. The bottom tier, infamous for dirty , understaffed and woefully ill-equipped hospitals, is for the average Cuban citizen. The best testament to Cuban healthcare came months ago when Fidel Castro fell seriously ill. He was cared for, not by the doctors of his glorious Socialist healthcare, but by doctors flown in from Venezuela.

Finally, someone, somewhere has to pay for universal healthcare. Again, taxes in Canada are 28 percent higher than in the US.

Libertarian writer P.J. O'Rourke said it best: If you think healthcare is expensive now, wait till it's free.

Friday, October 26, 2007

The Solution To War

The same crazies who protest free trade in the United States and around the world are usually the same crazies who participate in anti-war protests. What they fail to realize is that they are contradicting themselves.

Economics--along with religion--is a major instigator of war. When a country is isolated from the rest of the world, it becomes a prime candidate to strike out at surroundings nations in order to insure its economic survival. The Second World War is a perfect example. Japan, isolated for centuries, attacked its neighbors to gain much needed land and resources. Germany, hamstrung by the Treaty of Versailles, took military action against its neighbors for the same reasons.

Only international free trade can forestall such catastrophies. This concept is the bane of leftists and socialists around the world, who see it in the narrow Marxist context of capitalist exploitation. In reality, it is the natural antidote to war.

When nations engage in open and free trade with other nations, they become entwined like tree roots, each dependent upon the other for its economic prosperity. With such economic co-dependence, it is highly unlikely countries will initiate military action against each other. Japan attacked us on December 7, 1941. Can anyone even remotely conceive of Japan doing the same tomorrow? Of course not. Why? Because we have become trading partners. And trading partners have too much to lose to go to war against one another.

Maybe one of these days the free trade protesters will realize they are railing against their own solution.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Myth of Iraq Democracy

After Saddam Hussein, his two sons and the Republican Guard had their butts handed to them, the United States launched the second phase of its offensive: bringing democracy to Iraq. It has been a long and frustrating struggle, and for good reason. The only true democracy in the Middle East is Israel, and it is no coincidence that it is the only non-Muslim nation in that region. Why should religion be a factor? Because in order for a democracy and free market system to take root and flourish, there must exist two prerequisites: a belief in the sanctity of the individual; and the rule of law. Islam embraces neither of these.

Islam is a religion that repudiates human intellect and free will. The concept of the sovereignty of the individual is totally lacking in Shia law.One's needs and desires are subordinated to the religious collective. A primary example is the treatment of women. Are they free to fulfill their lives? They are not even free to show their faces in public. In some Muslim nations, they are not allowed to drive, and are permitted to work only as teachers and nurses. During the rule of the Taliban in Afghanistan,young girls were not even allowed to attend school. Religious police prowl the streets in search of the most trivial violations of Islamic law. Violations are met with swift and cruel punishment.

If you doubt the anti-intellectual charges agains Islam, then ask yourself these questions: Where are their renowned institutions of higher learning?Where are their major hospitals and medical research centers? What scientific and technological breakthroughs have they spearheaded? Other than oil, what other major industry thrives in the Middle East? And speaking of oil, it is Western technology and engineers that keep the oil flowing.

The reason for the dearth of intellectual progress and accomplishment is because the Islamic religion is mired in superstitious dogma authored over a thousand years ago. Note that despite the enormous wealth derived from oil, most of the populace live a lifestyle only marginally improved from their brethren centuries ago. And as for the rule of law, there can be none wherever tribalism is the primary means of social order. Throughout the region, violence between Shiite, Sunni and Kurd has existed for centuries, as warlords seek to broaden their power and control. Tribalism rules by brute force, and freedom is the first casuality. Regardless of how much money or how many troops we send to Iraq, there can be no democracy until the shackles of superstition are broken. Only the values of reason and rational thought can bring peace and democracy to that country.

Didja Ever Notice...

...Al Gore's winning the Nobel Peace Prize is the equivalent of Lassie winning an Oscar for best actress (or actor, since Lassie is actually a he, which would make him the first gender-bending actor in films. Oh, those Hollywood types.) the Southern California fires are being blamed on Global Warming. Shows you how stupid Smoky the Bear was. He blamed fires on people being careless with matches. Does a bear shit in the woods when its burning? Just thought I'd ask.

...due to long production time lines, Hollywood is finally releasing anti-Iraq films, like Rendition, and Lions For Lambs, all of which portray our military in a negative light, making one think that most of our soldiers are murderers and rapists. Could it be because Iraq is viewed as President Bush's war, and the war of the Republican Party? By contrast, do you recall the film, BLACKHAWK DOWN, released several years ago? That was the film about our military action in Somolia. In that movie, our military was portrayed as brave and loyal warriors. Maybe that was because that was the war of liberal Democrat president, Bill Clinton. Apparently when there's a Republican in the White House, only murders and rapists enlist.

...Congressman Pete Stark, Democrat from California, finally apologized for implying that our military in Iraq were killing innocent women and children...I forgot. It's a Republican President's war. that Dumbledore has been outed as gay, how long will it be before Harry Potter is revealed to be Dakota Fanning in reverse drag?

Tuesday, October 23, 2007


We are but a cooling cinder
left over from the Big Bang
a spec of dust lodged in the
corner of the eye of the universe


(Published in the OCT. issue of The Oak Magazine)

It is like being alone...

despite her constant presence--
the unraveling mind, shriveling heart,
the uncontested compression of thought

when the eyes resemble frosted glass
upon which longings etch random shapes,
lucidity fading like worn denim.

In front of a sun-mottled window
she eats a Hershey bar, the chocolate
melting on her tongue the way memories
melt away in her synapses.

I reach out to stroke her hair,
yet even this close,
it is like being alone.

Debating The Great Scam

Below are a list of ten points to use against Al Gore and his minions should you find yourself debating the validity of of the concept of Global Warming. Caution: Do not use around anyone allergic to the truth.
1. There has not been an increase in global temperatures since 1998.
2. Global warming isn't really global. In the past century there has been no recorded increase in the temperatures in the Southern Hemisphere.
3. Antarctica was warmer in the 1930's than it is today.
4. The period from 1300 to 1500-known as the Midieval Warming-had higher average temperatures than today.
5. Weather stations at the South Pole show a cooling trend.
6.Contrary to claims made by Al Gore, the polar bear population is increasing, and at its highest numbers in forty years.
7. 550million years ago, CO2 levels were 18 times higher than today. During the Jurassic period, they were 9 times higher.
8. Al Gore is correct when he states there is a correlation between increased warming and increased CO2 levels, except he has it backwards. CO2 levels increase has a result of atmospheric warming, not the other way around.
9. While ice bodies are melting along the coast of Greenland, ice formations are actually growing inland.
10. The five hottest days on record in Chicago--with temperatures between 102 and 109--all ocurred prior to 1940.