November 21, 2012

Tolerating the Intolerant

Credit: Eva Rinaldi
Although he may get some flack for this, I think Russell Brand struck the right chord with the representatives from Westboro Baptist Church. He managed to treat them with respect (that is, in the context of his zany style) but managed to hit home that their message is a total perversion of Jesus's. If having a civil, public conversation with these folks makes your average born-again Christian want to run in the opposite direction, it's worth it.

November 19, 2012

What Drives Executive Compensation?

Per ThinkProgress, nineteen executives of the Hostess company may be awarded bonuses as part of a bankruptcy agreement. The bankruptcy has come to pass because Hostess would not or could not pay its unionized bakers an acceptable wage and consequently the union advised its members to seek employment elsewhere.

Why would a company wish to reward its executives with bonuses, when they oversaw its demise? In trying to find an answer to this question, the following assumptions seem safe to make:

  • A union's demands from a company on behalf of its workers can't be a bluff if it advises those workers to find other employment rather than accept the status quo.
  • Those demands can't be frivolous if the union is willing for their workers to lose pay or even jobs fighting for them.
  • An executive's pay can't be based on the productivity or profitability of their company if they get a bonus when the company goes into bankruptcy.
  • Executive compensation is meant to reward accomplishment.
So, since the only thing that these executives do seem to have accomplished was capping workers wages, is it possible that this in and of itself is worthy of compensation? Has our free enterprise system become so twisted that managerial talent is focused: not on creating more and better products, selling more of them to more customers; but rather on reducing labor costs so as to funnel a greater share of profits from current sales to shareholders?

Free enterprise is not inherently good or bad. It can serve the greater good or the cynical desires of a crafty elite. I think the latter prevailed in this instance.

Anonymous Thwarts Election Theft?

According to a public letter from the hacker group Anonymous, they prevented a second group of hackers organized by Karl Rove from stealing the 2012 Presidential election. These alleged election thieves were purportedly working covertly through Project ORCA, which was established by the Romney campaign as a key part of their get-out-the-vote campaign.

Karl Rove (l.) and Anonymous (r.) (Wikimedia Commons)
Although Anonymous' tactics are questionable, I have never heard them misrepresent their accomplishments. I think this situation bears watching, because if some sort of digital fingerprints of this attempted election theft can be traced back to the ORCA project, we could have a huge scandal here.

November 16, 2012

Obama as Svengali

Source: abbasj812 on Flickr
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has obtained a video capturing a briefing on October 11, 2012 held in the Georgia Capitol building for Republican state senators. The briefing indicates that Obama is using mind-control to sway the public to his side on a UN initiative for sustainable development, which it purports is actually a secret agenda for collectivization.

Agenda 21 Full Video from Bryan Long on Vimeo.

It goes without saying that this is bonkers. What evidently doesn't go without saying is that people who are bonkers should not hold public office.

(The senators who attended and gave credence to this theory are hereby awarded the second Tomheader Award.)

Gerrymandering to the Nth Degree

It has been a long time since my last post. I think that is due to the fact that the political climate leading up to the election has been so poisonous and surreal that I was truly at a loss for words. However, now that the election is over and data has been gathered, congealed, and crunched, one particular fact has presented itself that must become a primary topic of our political discourse -- gerrymandering is determining the composition of the House of Representatives. The following chart from Mother Jones clearly demonstrates that Congressional districts in states governed by Republicans were re-drawn in 2010 to favor Republican Congressional candidates.

It is absolutely insupportable for this misrepresentation of the popular will to continue. We should as a nation institute policies that inhibit these anti-democratic tactics. Yes, there are spoils that come along with winning elections. But those spoils should not include being able to rig the system so that you can continue to win.