The Widdershins

Archive for March 2014

Libertarian Island

Libertarian Island

Good Morning, Widdershins.  Madama B is off on another work adventure. I could use a (not working) trip myself.  Since it’s Spring Break, y’all go home and back your bags – we’re off on the Annual Widdershins Convention at our favorite resort – Libertarian Island.  Save me a deck chair.  Can’t wait for one of those drinks with the little umbrella in it. Seriously, Mad wrote this is 2009.  See how close we have come to the precipice?  Read through the comments that were posted at the time – it’s more than just a little bit scary, folks. That said, we of the Great Unwashed 99% might as well have a little fun at the beach ourselves.

 

SCENE I: A busy urban street. Two middle-aged white men, BOB and JOE, are waiting at a stoplight, having a spirited political discussion. They have been friends for years and the discussion has the feel of ritual. BOB: Look, I just don’t trust the government to run my health care. In fact, I don’t want ’em doing anything for me at all. I just want to live my life without government interference. What’s wrong with that? Besides, the American health care system is the best in the world! JOE (sighing): Oh, forgawd’ssake, BOB, give it a rest already. I wish just for once you could live in that Libertarian Paradise you’re always talking about. I’d bet you’d be begging for government to come back in about half a second! (The light changes. BOB and JOE start walking across the street, too absorbed in their conversation to pay much attention to where they’re going.) BOB: No, seriously, JOE. The only thing to do is make government so small we can drown it in a bathtub. Every man for himself. It’s the only way we can be free! JOE: Ahhh, BOB, don’t you get that all corporations care about is their bottom line? I’m telling you — (Out of nowhere, a bus, out of control, careens into the intersection and smacks right into the hapless friends. Strangely, the marquee on the top of the bus reads “Liberty Express.” BOB and JOE fly in opposite directions as the scene fades to black.) SCENE II: A lush island Paradise. The sky is a lovely blue festooned with decorative, puffy white clouds. BOB is lying on a hammock strung between two palm trees. Behind him, the facade of an impossibly luxurious resort hotel can be seen; in front of him is a beautifully landscaped infinity pool, complete with waterfall and fat-free bathing beauties in bikinis. BOB is unconscious, but appears to be otherwise unharmed by his encounter with the Liberty Express. Slowly, he opens his eyes and takes in his surroundings. BOB (wonderingly): What the fuck?! (One of the bikini-clad babes, perfectly tan and blonde, strolls over to BOB with a drink in her hand.) BLONDE (liltingly): Hello, Bob! Welcome to Libertarian Island. Care for a complimentary beverage? BOB (confused): What – what happened? BLONDE (comfortingly): That’s really not important, Bob. Everything will be explained to you shortly. I’m just here to provide you with your complimentary beverage. Do you want it or not? It’s got a cute little umbrella and everything! BOB (totally lost): Uh…yes??? (The BLONDE hands him the drink, which he sips tentatively. A huge smile blossoms across his face.) BOB: Wow! That’s the best martini I’ve ever had. How did you know it was my favorite? BLONDE (wagging her finger, flirtily stern): Uh-uh-uh! Drink up! (BOB finishes his drink. His eyelids lower to half mast as the potent alcohol kicks in.) BOB (tipsy): Thanks, uh…what did you say your name was? BLONDE (coldly): I didn’t. (lifts her wrist to her mouth) Okay, he’s ready. (She walks away, completely indifferent now that she has performed her duty, and happily situates herself on the lounge chair from whence she came.) BOB: What – where are you going? (He starts to follow her, but a man clad all in white robes steps in front of him, blocking his access to the BLONDE. The man looks like a Ken doll, the ultimate Republican idea of perfection. In fact, his name is KEN. Cool, huh?) KEN: Now, BOB, let’s just calm down. My name is KEN, and I’m here to officially welcome you to – Libertarian Island! (A banner unfurls from the palm trees between which BOB’s hammock is tied. The pristine white, beautifully-inked banner reads, of course, “Welcome to Libertarian Island.” Below that declaration are the words “Freedom IS Free! Free, Freedy, Freedelicious Freedom!”) BOB (in awe): Cool! KEN: I’m here to be your guide and to help make your stay more enjoyable. BOB: How could it be more enjoyable? I mean, (gesturing) LOOK at this place! KEN: Well, BOB, this place certainly is beautiful. But this is not where you’re going to be staying. Step this way, please. (KEN leads BOB past the bikini babes, who loftily ignore him, and towards a dirt path in the elegant green sward. After a minute of walking, BOB notices something strange.) BOB: Hey KEN – is that a door?! KEN: Yes it is, BOB. You see, you were in the visitor’s section of Libertarian Island. When you go through this door, you will see the rest of the island. I promise, you’re going to love it! BOB (confidently): Of course I will. I mean, this is Libertarian Island, so I’m assuming we’ve got that damn government out of our lives and are free to create a better society through choice and competition! KEN: Ab-so-LUTELY! (opening the door) And heeeeerrrre we are! Read the rest of this entry »

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Good Sunday, Widdershins. I have had the same ringtone for years.  Not that it really matters, as I own an ancient flip phone that rests in the bottom of my purse in the “off” mode unless I am going to be late or need roadside assistance.  Nonetheless, I am bored with my ringtone, and I am auditioning tunes for a new one. I’ve found a bunch of songs that deal with telephone calls, but all suggestions are welcome.  Any song of any genre and any topic will be welcome. This is an otherwise open thread

(1) Call Me Maybe – Carlie Rae Jepson

(2) Ring My Bell –  Anita Ward

(3) You Talk Too Much – Frankie Ford

(4) Call Me – Blondie

(5) Yackety Yack – The Coasters

Have a great day. Widdershins.

Nola river fog

Nola river fog

Good Saturday to you Widdershins.  If it’s Saturday then it must be time to take a look at some of the odd or humorous things I’ve come across on the web, plus a few youtube videos that I’ve found cute or amusing.  Remember, no heavy lifting required today.

So do they recommend specific blends or varieties?

Well, we know pot is going mainstream when there is now a teevee show where folks discuss their experiences smoking pot, who they have smoked with and other sundry topics related to the evil weed.  “Pot comedian” Doug Benson now has a teevee show that streams on the internet.  Benson, 49, has established himself as the pre-eminent pot comedian through his comedy tours, podcasts and the 2007 documentary “Super High Me.”

“People shouldn’t feel shame for enjoying marijuana,” comedian and “Getting Doug With High” host Doug Benson told Yahoo News. “I like having guests on my show who are happy to smoke on camera and show the world that you can get high and have fun and nothing terrible is going to happen.”

Benson’s show has several recurring segments, including “Pot Topics,” in which Benson and his guests discuss marijuana stories in the news, “High History,” in which guests share their history as pot smokers, and a bit where Benson asks guests to name the most famous person they’ve ever smoked pot with.

Tommy Chong was on the show (surprise!) and said among the famous that he had smoked were “Ahnold”, the guv, Schwarzenegger, Frank Gehry the architect and “all of the Beatles except for Paul.”  He’s also had guests such as Sarah Silverman, Aubrey Plaza, Anthony Jeselnik and comedy roast master Jeffrey Ross.

Despite the popularity of pot and its use going more and more open, Benson said he’s had some folks to turn down an invite:

“Even some of my friends have said ‘no’ because they don’t want their family to see them smoke, or because they don’t want to lose lucrative gigs on children’s TV shows or something like that,” Benson said. “Which sucks, but as more states and countries legalize weed, then I’ll get better and better guests.”

Although he believes pot culture will eventually just be “culture” he says he believes it will still be some time before marijuana is legal completely across the country.

“It could be another 20 years,” Benson said. “And I don’t think Obama will decriminalize it. I’m sure he knows that legalization is going to happen everywhere. All he has to do is stay out of the way.”

Well, he would be the man who probably knows.  I don’t see this happening anytime real soon in the South and until then I guess lots of folks will be making airline reservations to Colorado and Washington state.  Hmmm, I wonder if any travel agencies have created any “pot vacay” packages to either place?

 

 Meanwhile, in the “what are they wasting time on now” category…

the Congress Critters in the House (mainly Repubs with a couple of Dems) have passed a law that makes it easier for them to sue the President for not enforcing laws that are on the books.  Oy!  The bill allows a lawmaker who is concerned with Obama not doing his job to file a lawsuit directly to a three-judge panel on a federal district court and appeal directly to the U.S. Supreme Court.  Before they took a vote a bunch of the repub critters took to the well of the House to rake Obama over the coals over “failing to fully enforce several federal laws, including the Affordable Care Act, current immigration policy, sentencing laws and the federal ban on same-sex marriage.”  Another oy here!

“The Constitution gives Congress the responsibility to write the laws and the executive to enforce them,” said Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.), a lead sponsor. “We don’t pass suggestions. We don’t pass ideas. We pass laws.”

Of course this is going nowhere because it probably won’t even be taken up in the Senate and besides which Obama said he’d veto it.  Utter nonsense and a total waste of those more and more precious and few days that Congress gets together to do something.  (Note:  you’ll have to download the pdf of the calendar to view it.)

And what did he want if she was good?

Drake Parks went to his bank in Van Buren Arkansas and completed a transaction.  Then a short time later, the teller said she got a call from someone saying that they were Drake’s father and that ole Drake had called the teller a bad name. “Daddy” Parks said Drake needed to be punished and the teller could make $50 if she would do the punishing.

The teller then stated that Drake got on the phone and said that he wanted her to do what his father told her to. He started to give her an address when she hung up and contacted the police, according to the news release.

Parks was arrested on Thursday after a warrant was issued for his arrest for Harassing Communications. He was booked into the Crawford County Detention Center.

Sounds terribly British to me.  Just sayin’.

I have no idea why he did this

I don’t know if the guy was depressed and this was a form of suicide or if he is a candidate for the Darwin Awards (what surprise – there have been no entries since last year).  In a few words let me sum it up:  Man is on platform at a train station in New Jersey.  Man leans over platform(to check for a train?).  Voila!  Train shows up…right…about…the…same…time.

According to eyewitnesses, the man was on the platform when he was struck and killed by an oncoming northbound train shortly before 5 p.m. local time, said spokesman William Smith.

The impact was so intense that four commuters standing nearby were struck by blood and body parts, Smith said.

One of the injured refused medical attention while the remaining three were taken to a hospital for non-life-threatening injuries, according to Smith.

The thing that seems so odd is that the train wasn’t even scheduled to stop at the station where this happened.

Some assorted youtube clips

Here’s a parody of the “First Kiss” video that was so popular.  This one is with dogs and we can maybe say it was pupular (groan).  [Note:  canine butt-sniffing involved]

This one is a clip of a boxer who is all-so-tough but turns out to be terrified by a leaf!

Lastly, I wonder how many times ole Gus practiced his head tilt and mannerisms in front of the mirror before he was ready for prime time.  Goo stah vo ama doe var!

Okay Widdershins, let me know below how your day is going.

 

Good afternoon Widdershins. Happy Friday!

For my next trick, a Newt will disappear and a rabbit will appear in a Mitten...

For my next trick, a Newt will disappear and a rabbit will appear in a Mitten…

We are already in primary season for 2016. Not the voting type of primary, the Sheldon Adelson beauty contest primary. There’s no particular talent component since no one has come up with a grading scale for such obnoxious obsequious, cloying behavior. There’s no bathing suit competition since all the contestants have laid bare their blind ambition. There’s nothing beyond “tripping the trigger” of Sheldon and his magical, mystical, fantastical whims.

Adelson is hosting the Republican Jewish Coalition at the Venetian in Las Vegas. Under the guise of the RJC, Republican wannabes are coming to kiss whatever Sheldon wants them to kiss in order to secure his blessing. Those being measured for kneepads are Jeb Bush, Chris Christie, and Governors Scott Walker and John Kasich. I give Scott Walker the inside edge because of his pronounced, telltale bald spot on the top of this head — it isn’t his first time at this type of rodeo.

You will remember Sheldon and his wife Miriam from the 2012 election cycle. Sheldon was Newt Gingrich’s sugar papa. He kept Newt afloat long after Newt should have dropped out and been out sunning himself on a rock somewhere. Sheldon dropped $20 Million on Newt. When Newt finally took a powder, Sheldon then dropped $30 Million on the come-lately Russia expert Mittens Romney.

All told, publicly Sheldon and Miriam spent $92.8 Million on the 2012 election cycle. That $93 Million was only in reported contributions. The donations to the dark-money non-reported PACs are not included. Who knows how much they actually threw around? There are estimates of $150 Million, but those are just estimates.

Sheldon and Miriam...

Sheldon and Miriam…

For those of us who have trouble finding two nickels to rub together, that seems like a lot of money. Honestly, that is sofa cushion change to someone who makes $1.4 Million an hour or around $32 Million a day through his various gambling dens both domestically and in Macaw. Sheldon and Miriam can afford it.

What does someone expect to get for this kind of money? Officially, Adelson is a huge donor to all things Israeli. There is no doubting his commitment to Israel and the Jewish faith, but there are certain other things upon which he is not as publicly conversant. He loathes organized labor and is a fierce opponent of anything that smacks of unions. He’s also been investigated on federal charges stemming from the federal Foreign Practices Act — you might know the law as the “Corrupt Foreign Practices Act.”

Of late, Sheldon has had a laser-like focus on online gambling. He no likey gambling on the googling machine. He wants it banned. Conveniently, after donating a mere $15,000 to Lady Lindsey’s senatorial campaign, the Lady has also gotten the vapors about online gambling. Quite coincidentally, he is introducing legislation to ban it. Funny how that works and for a mere $15K — the Lady should have held out.

All that prologue leads me to the next somewhat unexpected sentence, but here goes. I think it is just peachy for Mr. Adelson to exercise his free speech rights, I think it is fine for him to publicly contribute, and I think it is fine for him to advocate positions consistent with his interests. That is what happens in a democracy. We too often forget the Framers of the Constitution were the Sheldon Adelsons of their day — the wealthiest guys around and all advocating for their particular interests.

Where Adelson’s activities go seriously off course for me is the dark-money activities — all the millions going to groups where there is absolutely no accountability to the public because of arcane IRS rules. These rules are there through benign neglect more than anything — Congress turning a blind eye in anticipation of the next election. There’s little that can be done about the idiocy embodied in the Citizen’s United ruling until after the 2016 election, but voters need to be aware and wary of the shadowy corners of these dark-moneyed groups.

Ron White the comedian says, “You can’t fix stupid. Stupid is forever.” Adelson isn’t stupid, but his policy ideas, like Adelson Glassesso many coddled and opinion-pampered CEOs, are just flat-out wrong and uninformed. People of Adelson’s ilk have a not too surprising habit of crawling in the conservative echo chamber and securely locking the door behind themselves.

The best way to sum this up is in the words of a spokesperson for the Las Vegas Sands Corporation speaking on behalf of Adelson in explaining the preseason primary:

He doesn’t want a crazy extremist to be the (Presidential) nominee. He wants someone who has the chance to win the election, who is reasonable in his positions, who has conviction, but is not totally crazy.

From the choice of pronouns, I guess females need not apply and while “not totally crazy,” is the standard for fifteen minutes before closing time, it seems a rather low bar for the Presidency.  Conversely, it isn’t such a low bar for a pet adoption from a rescue shelter.

This is an open thread.

Good Thursday, Widdershins.   I do not know how many years I have in front of me.  I’m pretty certain, however, that I have many more behind me.  All in all, those have been years that have made me generally proud.  My generation got quite a bit accomplished in our younger years. Just for starters, I attended segregated schools until my senior year in high school.  My guidance counselor advised me to attend college and prepare myself for a career in teaching, nursing, home economics, or bookkeeping.  In many states, even married women with their own income could not establish credit without their husband’s signature.  LGBT rights were non-existent.  This was my world, less than fifty years ago. Fifty years seem like a very long time, but I assure you that it is not.

We did grow up in a stronger America.  A huge proportion of our fathers fought in WWII, and returned to a country that was ready to go.  They moved into factory and construction jobs, sold insurance, and went to college on their GI Bills.  They purchased homes with their GI mortgages, and raised their families in a time of general prosperity.  Indeed, there were some horrible poverty pockets and a great deal of social change that was sadly needed, but people in general worked, were well fed, and lived in relative comfort.  Our fathers retired on a defined pension after 20 years employment if they stayed with the same company.  They sent us to college courtesy of 4% Federal loans that were not difficult to obtain.  Many of the guys worked summer jobs in construction, and the co-eds found easy summer employment in retail and food service.  Those of us who did not attend college found jobs after high school that allowed then to raise a family in their own home as well, assuming that they were fortunate enough to survive an excursion to Vietnam.

I bring this up because of the sudden onslaught of articles regarding the Boomers and what horrible blood-sucking people that we are.  I have read any number that excoriate my entire generation, and they are proliferating over the internet.  Here’s one from Tom Tankersley of the National Journal, via the Huffington Post:

Tankersley told told MSNBC that he wrote the article because “it’s a really important issue for America, this… long-held idea that every generation passes on a better life to the next and it’s stopped. The baby boomers have done three really egregious things… they have presided over an economy where economic opportunity has shrunk for people coming along now; they’ve run up a huge national debt both by voting themselves lower taxes and by voting more generous benefits with no plan to pay for them other than have their kids and grandkids pay for them; and they’ve filled the atmosphere with carbon dioxide burned cheap fossil fuels and left the rest of us the tab for cleaning that up.”

First and foremost, the economy has slipped.  No doubt about that whatsoever, but I’m not quite certain that we are completely to blame.  After all, Generation Jones, Gen X and Gen Y have been making decisions for some time now, and my Gen X daughter views corporate America very differently than I do.  She shares some of her (now) Republican father’s feelings that corporate America must be supported.  While we were married, he accused me of being a Fascist reactionary – ah, how the pendulum swings.  Exie is not the only member of my generation that has morphed into a corporate tool, either – witness John Boehner, who worked his way up with the winds of the Great Society at his back, and now everyone else can go whistle.  Some of us are forgetful, but most of us are not.

Second, the aforementioned Great Society came to be while most of us were in high school.   Few Boomers were old enough to vote for anyone or anything at that time.  Further, Medicare Part D was voted in by Congress, not in a general election.  As far as fossil fuels go, the true muscle cars and big gunboats like my father’s 1965 Chrysler New Yorker were purchased by our parents – few Boomers were making a living at that time.  (Gas was about 30 cents a gallon back then.) We bought Volkswagens and four-cylinder automobiles of all stripes in order to conserve fuel, and painted flowers and anti-war slogans on them.  The BFF owns a huge truck because he does gravestone and monument restoration, and it’s tough to drive a monument around in your hybrid, but I have personally never owned an eight-cylinder automobile in my life.  My daughter, on the other hand, drives the Sea Scouts around in a Durango.

Mr. Tankersley is nice enough to mention that advances have been made by minorities, women, and the disabled during our adulthood, and I appreciate that.   We have worked pretty hard at many causes:  equality, ending the Vietnam War, cessation of the draft, Earth Day, the Peace Corps, and volunteerism in general.  I’m not ashamed of our activism.

I also heard some unknown Third Wave Feminist rail against those of us who comprised the Second Wave.  It seems that we were remiss in not seeking out women of color and lesbians, so therefore our accomplishments are woefully lacking.  During the heyday of feminism, lesbians did their best to blend in, and far from being out and proud, many were miserably married because that was a societal expectation.  Most women of color were kind of tied up with the Civil Rights movement at the time.  We were a bunch of straight white women, and we went for it.  We did the best that we could, and birth control pills and abortion became legal and safe.  The presence of women on universities increased from the deliberate quota of 30% in my day, to the better than 50% that we enjoy today.  Women in professional schools have now become commonplace. I will not apologize, now or ever, for anything that we did.   I’m really beginning to wonder how much this spate of Boomer bashing has to do with the impending 2016 run of Hillary Clinton.  She’s a Boomer!  (Boooooo!)  She’s a Second Wave Feminist! (Booooooo!)

We seem to get it coming and going.  Our parents insisted that we were all Communists, and our grandchildren think that we are selfish corporatists.  What’s a poor Boomer to do?

This is an open thread.

 

 

 

Good afternoon Widdershins. For those tuning in for one of Fredster’s always insightful posts, you’ll have to suffer me today. Fredster’s computer is “CPU”ny and “app”opletic today and I’m subbing for him. He’ll be back in a day or so.

Personal religious ascendancy can be triggered by many things — it might be a burning bush, an archangel, a miracle, or something as mundane as a call to your corporation’s general counsel. It’s that last thing that spawned yesterday’s case before the Supreme Court, Hobby Lobby, et al. v. Sebelius.

You see, Hobby Lobby was already providing contraceptive coverage, even emergency “Plan B” contraception, to Hobby Lobbytheir employees until that fateful day when their General Counsel’s phone rang. It was the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, a poseur victimhood factory, calling to ask if Hobby Lobby was interested in suing the federal government over the provisions of the Affordable Care Act.

Hobby Lobby, with its 500 to 640 stores and 13,000 to 28,000 employees (differing accounts give differing estimates), was soon joined by Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp., a Mennonite owned company from Pennsylvania with 950 employees. Both agreed to serve as the plaintiffs in this first blush attempt at endowing personal religious freedom upon corporations. I’m sure after a torrid tryst punctuated with passionate disdain for the ACA, Hobby Lobby, et al. v. Sebelius was conceived in the appropriate missionary style.

At the heart of this case is the 1993 Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA). RFRA itself was a congressional reaction to a prior Supreme Court case Congress wanted to rectify. That case was Employment Division v. Smith. Decided in 1990, the issue presented in Smith was whether or not Oregon could deny unemployment benefits to two Native American men who were fired for using peyote, even though peyote was part of their religious rituals.

ScaliaNone other than Justice Scalia wrote:

A person’s religious beliefs cannot prevent him or her from abiding by laws that are neutral and not aimed at restricting religious freedom.

After the Smith case, Congress wanted to ensure minority religions were protected and passed RFRA in response. The RFRA legislative history is without question — Congress wanted to protect individuals, religious institutions, and religious organizations. Nowhere within the legislative history does RFRA mention or even hint at for-profit corporations like Hobby Lobby.

In any discussion of RFRA, you might have heard the term, “shield versus a sword”. The Congressional Record is unambiguous about this point, RFRA was meant as an individual shield and not as a sword when it came to religious rights. Simply put, RFRA was meant to protect individual religious rights and not to be used as a weapon to force religious beliefs upon others.

In the words of a smart 17th century guy, “Therein lies the rub.” The question of the Hobby Lobby case is whether or not a corporation can force, through its actions and overwhelming economic power, its religious fervor upon its female employees when it comes to certain types of contraception — not all contraception mind you, just those types of contraception the billionaire Green family find objectionable.

 

Read the rest of this entry »

Good afternoon and happy Tuesday Widdershins. I hope your NCAA brackets survived a weekend of upsets — mine didn’t since it now resembles an overused prop from the Walking Dead.

That squish you are tasting isn't a cream filling...

That squish you are tasting isn’t a cream filling…

Remember the great Twinkies fiasco — five years of bankruptcy with huge cuts in workers’ salaries, then private equity and hedge funds stepping in, then huge management contract fees, then outrageous raises in executive compensation, and then another bankruptcy followed by selling off the brands before they again reappeared on the shelves.

That little free enterprise vignette is about to teach us another lesson. Not something as edifying as “bread making” means two entirely different things to a hedge fund manager and a baker, but something quite scary if you are a pensioner. The whole Hostess debacle is about to teach us when it comes to pensions “promises are not forever”.

A little background first: There are 10,000,000 workers whose pensions are parked in multiemployer pension plans — large investment pools once considered low risk because they don’t rely on the fortunes of a single company. Or at least that’s what their promotional material claimed.

There are hundreds of these multiemployer pension plans that have blown holes in their actuarial forecasts. It’s not rocket science to understand why these businesses want to off-load their pension obligations — and honestly, who would have ever dreamed of people getting older and the possibility of economic recessions?

Surprise, surprise — workforces do get older when you don’t hire younger workers and inevitably there are things called recessions when the watchdogs of the federal government become the lap-dogs of Wall Street.

These multiemployer pension funds are facing enormous shortfalls over the next decade — some estimates are in the neighborhood of $400 Billion. There is a small government agency called the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) charged with overseeing the country’s pension plans.

The PBGC was created in 1974 and it oversees the 26,000 single and multiemployer pension plans.  These plans pay premiums to the agency and in turn, the agency uses the premiums to pay workers’ benefits when their employers can’t. It paid out about $3.0 Billion in 2013.

Here’s one of the many rubs, the PBGC only guarantees a maximum benefit of about $1,072 a month for the most senior, highest-paid participants, a fraction of what many of these workers were entitled to for their decades of service and labor.

Okay, let’s hop back to Twinkies for a moment. When Hostess declared bankruptcy, the company’s drivers were in a multiemployer pension fund with some employees of Ottenberg’s Bakery, a family owned business in Baltimore. Needless to say, the Ottenberg folks got really nervous because if Hostess couldn’t meet its obligations, the pension fund would collapse like a deflated cup cake.

The PBGC stepped in — merging the Ottenberg bakery employees into another, stable multiemployer plan, and taking over the pension obligations for the Hostess workers (a prime example of hedge funds benefiting from government redistribution).  This was only the third time the PBGC had stepped in and carved up a pension plan to rescue parts of it.

When this took place, suddenly the PBGC started getting calls from other plans. The message was simple, “What about us?” Trouble is, the agency can’t afford to absorb all the plans that are in trouble so the PBGC is in need of a bailout in order to continue to bail out the failing plans. The agency posted a record $35.6 Billion deficit in 2013. For the austerity crowd populating the pain caucus of the Tea Party, an increase of the premiums seems too much like a tax increase so what to do, what to do?

PromisesThis is where the parade of horrible picks up. There is a coalition asking permission to do what was once unthinkable: Cut benefits to retirees before retirement plans get into trouble. This is HUGE!  By law, employers can’t reduce accrued benefits — heretofore, accrued benefits have been deemed untouchable. Now, that might change.

These pension plans want “flexibility” to act before they run into trouble, but paradoxically this flexibility doesn’t extend to the utility payments, grocery bills, or pharmacies of retirees. In reading about this impending tsunami, not one business article has mentioned the bald-faced fact that the decisions to place retirees’ future well-being in these undercapitalized multiemployer plans are made by the same financial geniuses who are looking for any avenue to pump up quarterly earnings and engorge their own bonuses.

And it doesn’t end there — if these multiemployer plans get the go-ahead to cut benefits, it won’t be long before single-employer plans will demand the same right. In short, it will throw millions of people’s retirements into doubt and completely undermine the whole point of defined benefit retirement plans.

The things with the shortest shelf life these days — promises.

This is an open thread.

 


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Kellyanne Conway’s new job

Take the kids to work? NO!

So similar

That moment when *your* pussy gets grabbed

You go gurl! h/t Adam Joseph

“The” Book

Nice picture of our gal

Time till the Grifter in Chief is Gone

Hopefully soonerJanuary 21st, 2021
2.6 years to go.

Mueller Time!

Wise Words from Paul Ryan

Heroine of the Resistance

B-I-N-G-O!

Only the *best* politicans bought by the NRA

Marching for their lives

Perfect Picture

Perfect Name For Him h/t Daily News

Scary a.f.

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