Make A Run For The Border

Chimpy BarfingTaco Bell Lobbyists Thank Congressional Staff With 6,000 Tacos

“Taco Bell franchise owners are lobbying Congress to help prevent their workers from organizing a union or qualifying for employer-based healthcare. They’re also asking for assistance with real estate tax credits and other issues on their legislative agenda.”

“On Tuesday afternoon, to thank congressional staffers for all they do on behalf of the fast food industry, franchisees hosted their annual reception at the Rayburn Office Building on Capitol Hill, a free food giveway in which staffers and interns gorged themselves on unlimited free Taco Bell tacos and nachos.”

This gives me heartburn: Taco Bell had their under-paid workers make free food for the congressional staff who have been working on novel ways to to keep them down.

Some Stupid For Your Coffee?

Uber, the taxi-like service that only Ayn Rand could love, was surge-charging $100 per ride to Australians who were fleeing an armed hostage situation in Sydney.

The Uber spokes-weasel explains it thusly:

We are all concerned with events in CBD. Fares have increased to encourage more drivers to come online & pick up passengers in the area.


This is how Wingnuttia rolls

The Finger

We’ll start the day with a story that illustrate the point that for Wingnuts, it’s not how you play the game that counts, it’s that you win at all costs:

Boy exorcist and noted volcano scholar Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal signed a bill into law on Friday that kills a current lawsuit against 97 oil and gas companies that was filed by the New Orleans regional levee board Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority-East. The new law could negatively affect state and government claims against BP over the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

Before everyone gets huffy and puffy let’s recall that politicians are hired to do their jobs by the corporations that represent them. They do not work for you and me. So while we might be outraged at Jindal’s actions, for BP (for instance) Jindal represents a good return on their relatively small investment.

David Brooks and the United States of Amnesia


If you go back and read oral histories conducted in the 1950s and 1960s, you’d be amazed by how benign the labor market seemed back then. People would announce that they were moving to a new city and assume they’d be able to find decent work after they got there.

That image of a benign job market is pretty much gone (as expectations about what constitutes a good job have risen). Even incoming college freshmen seem to fear they will not find lucrative and rewarding work. Harsh economic thinking plays a much bigger role in how students perceive their lives. Their parents feel that anxiety even more acutely.


In the first place, they are very conscious of how much college costs. In 1974, 77 percent of students enrolled in their collegiate top choice. By 2013, only 57 percent were able to. Cost is a very important factor in why students decided to stay away from their favorite school.

Second, they saw college much more as job training than students before. In 1976, 50 percent of freshmen said they were going to college in order to make more money. By 2006, 69 percent of freshmen said that. Since 2005, the number of students who say they are going to college to get a better job has spiked upward.

Their overall values change. In 1966, only 42 percent of freshmen said that being well-off financially was an essential or very important life goal. By 2005, 75 percent of students said being well-off financially was essential or very important. Affluence, once a middling value, is now tied as students’ top life goal.


I’m not sure if students really are less empathetic, or less interested in having meaning in their lives, but it has become more socially acceptable to present yourself that way. In the shadow of this more Darwinian job market, it is more acceptable to present yourself as utilitarian, streamlined and success-oriented.

Gosh, I’m really mystified how all the optimism and altruism that existed pre-St. Ronnie could possibly be gone now?


There’s a lesson here…

Dracula Starring

…but I’m not sure what it is:

Two hundred fifty employees of the United Parcel Service (UPS) walked off the job for 90 minutes in February to protest the firing of one of their coworkers, Jairo Reyes. Reyes had driven for the company for over 20 years, and they felt his firing (which occurred after a complicated saga over the hours that senior UPS workers could hold) was unfair.

This week, all of those employees were given a pink slip, New York Daily News reports. “They just called me in … (and) said, ‘Effective immediately, you are no longer on the payroll,’” one UPS employee told the outlet.

The workers are represented by the Teamsters, so what happened?

UPS workers are unionized under the Teamsters, and UPS alleges that the protesters not only delayed package delivery for customers, but also violated their union contract. Gaught invited the Teamsters of Local 804, where the workers were fired, to appeal the termination under contract rules. But the union insists it already has.

“Since UPS fired Jairo Reyes and 250 drivers walked off the job in protest, Local 804 has repeatedly tried to bring UPS to the table to settle the issues,” the group’s local wrote on its page. “Local 804 will continue to work with political leaders and the public to bring UPS management to the table to reach a fair settlement. We will do whatever is necessary to achieve this goal.”

Oh, wait a moment! I know what the lesson is: USE THE GODDAMN US POSTAL SERVICE TO MAIL YOUR PACKAGES.

(Think Progress)

The Midday Quote: Get Off The Cross Edition

“You know, it’s interesting, in America there’s only one group you can legally discriminate against in America anymore: rich people.”

–Steve Moore, former Wall St. Journal writer and current Heritage Foundation economist.

Tainted is such an ugly word…

…how about, “Now with added adventure”

Food giant Nestlé has issued a voluntary recall of several of its Hot Pocket brand products out of fears that they’ve been tainted by diseased beef that was never inspected by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Last week, California-based Rancho Food Corp. recalled nearly nine million pounds of its uninspected beef that could have posed a potential threat to consumers’ health.

Oh, the miracle of Galtian unregulated and corporate-commodity food. How many times do we have to repeat this story before Wingnuttia realizes that there is a reason to have regulations and pay for inspectors?

(Think Progress)

Ann Frank weeps for Tom Perkins

…because being wealthy is exactly like the Kristallnacht:

Regarding your editorial “Censors on Campus” (Jan. 18): Writing from the epicenter of progressive thought, San Francisco, I would call attention to the parallels of fascist Nazi Germany to its war on its “one percent,” namely its Jews, to the progressive war on the American one percent, namely the “rich.”

From the Occupy movement to the demonization of the rich embedded in virtually every word of our local newspaper, the San Francisco Chronicle, I perceive a rising tide of hatred of the successful one percent. There is outraged public reaction to the Google buses carrying technology workers from the city to the peninsula high-tech companies which employ them. We have outrage over the rising real-estate prices which these “techno geeks” can pay. We have, for example, libelous and cruel attacks in the Chronicle on our number-one celebrity, the author Danielle Steel, alleging that she is a “snob” despite the millions she has spent on our city’s homeless and mentally ill over the past decades.

This is a very dangerous drift in our American thinking. Kristallnacht was unthinkable in 1930; is its descendent “progressive” radicalism unthinkable now?

Tom Perkins

“First they came for Venture Capitalists…” just what the hell is he trying to accomplish? Sympathy? Lessons from history?

For those of you outside of Silicon Valley, the name might not be on the tip of your tongue, but Mr. Perkins is a founder of Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, which is pretty much the mother ship of Venture Capital, and yes, he is one of the richest men in the world.

Fun fact: Tom Perkins is also one of the few people to ever have been convicted of killing someone using a yacht as the deadly weapon.

His comment was so offensive that KPCB actually had to disclaim it:

As for me, I’m also offended that he considers his ex-wife and not-really talented dirty book writer Danielle Steel to be the #1 celebrity in SF. Poor old Tom doesn’t get out much anymore.


CEOs: Staunch Defenders of the Free Market Conspire Against Free Market

As part of a law suit here in Silicon Valley, via the emails of various CEOs, we have learned that titans of industry–those Galtian overlords–conspired to keep engineers from switching companies and presumably receiving higher wages. Instead of letting the invisible hand of the market determine the going rate for engineering talent, they had a Gentlemen’s Agreement to not steal employees from each other.

The inner workings of Apple, Google, Intel, Adobe, and others are in the public spotlight.

Steve Jobs, who was a world-class asshole, which might be the secret to being such a gifted CEO, threatened a patent lawsuit against Palm if they did not stop poaching Apple engineers. Jobs wrote to then-Palm CEO Ed Colligan:

I’m sure you realize the asymmetry in the financial resources of our respective companies.”

Which is about as close to making him an offer he cannot refuse as you can get. Seriously, when the company with the highest value in the world tells you about its deep pockets while threatening litigation, you better believe that you’ve been warned. Next thing: a horse head on your pillow.

Eric Schmidt of Google (motto: Don’t Be Evil) of course was evil: Google’s former senior staffing strategist Amnon Geshuri informs Schmidt that a recruiter, having pursued an Apple employee, will be “terminated within the hour.”

Schmidt seems to have realized that all of these gentlemen’s agreements were probably unethical and potentially illegal. But being Eric Schmidt, instead of stopping the practice, he ordered everyone to quit leaving a paper trail, “less the company be sued later.” So, in short, a cover-up to a conspiracy. Nice work, Nixon. Can you recommend a plumber?

Likewise, Intel’s CEO Paul Otellini doesn’t want the handshake agreements to be “broadly known.” This pretty clearly indicates that these guys knew what they were doing was wrong, if not illegal and in a delicate knife-in-the-back twist of irony, declaring that there be no paper trail is now in the paper trail.

Yes, these CEOs are the same guys who squash any attempt to collectively bargain, who fight any regulations that might interfere with the alleged free-markets.

Now if only we had an Attorney General who was amongst the breathing, there might be charges and a highly entertaining frog-march of the elites to the pokey. But we don’t. We also don’t have a media that is covering this story. The business press isn’t covering this story, and if you want to consider how it could be that wages did not improve with the economy, here is one part of that puzzle. But the press is covering the vital issue of Beyoncé lip-syncing and the ever-present threat of celebrity side-boob.

The Verge has the entire collection of documents up in a gallery. It’s infuriating, but it is really worth reading.

Eat the rich

Prarie Weather has a really good post up that deconstructs the mythology that the economy is ready to roar back if only there were some qualified people to fill the jobs.

While it might seem obvious, the issue is that the employer is not willing to pay for the skills that they want. So it is really that they would hire people if only they were willing to work for a pittance, or better yet for free.