Friday, November 12, 2010

And the Beat Goes On

Thanks to Spewing Truth, here is a link to a New York Times Op-Ed by Nicholas Kristof that speaks to the growing divide between the wealthy and the not-so-wealthy in this country.  In view of the coming debate on fiscal responsibility in government (is that too lofty a description?) I will just say: I am no economist but certain things just make common sense.  The more the wealthy skim off the top - and they are skimming deeper and deeper - the less there is to go around.  We are quickly becoming a so-called "third world" country or as Kristof calls us "a Banana Republic" or a plutocracy.

Think about farming, for example.  I can buy a pork roast for $1 per pound on sale at Discount Foods.  How can a pig farmer make any money at all even if he sells his pig at $1 a pound.  But even poor people must buy food so food costs must remain within some reasonable parameters.  Maybe a farmer who produces high quality organic tomatoes can sell them at a premium but certainly not for $1,000 per pound.  The farmer is not likely to get wealthy, at least not just from farming alone.

A $2 loaf of bread costs two dollars regardless of your income.  If you make $10 an hour, a loaf of bread costs 20% of your hourly wage or 12 minutes.  While Charlie Sheen makes 1.25 million dollars per episode or (for 24 episodes) = 30 million dollars or $14,423/hour based on a 40 hour week.  So even if Charlie buys an Artisan Whole Grain Hand Made Loaf of the Finest Bread made with Hand Ground Organic Winter Wheat from Kansas, at say, $12 a loaf, it costs him .000832 of his hourly wage or .05 minutes or 3 seconds!  And how much "work" does Charlie do in 3 seconds?  He barely inhales and exhales.  Compare him to what a physician does - seconds can save a life!  But the cost of college, medical school, internship, malpractice insurance, billing insurance companies and other "costs of doing business" makes doctoring an almost losing proposition.

What I don't get is the so-called christian moralists who quote the bible, chapter and verse, to condemn gays but totally ignore the many admonitions about wealth and the wealthy.  Perhaps we should be reminding our "conservative", "tea-party, right-wing, fundamentalist, literalist, religionists about those chapters and verses.

NBC nightly news has been doing a week-long series about "Living Better with Less" which really makes me laugh.  They have featured women who are foregoing their regular high fashion shopping trips in an effort to "live with less" and others who are living (well) off the sale of their "stuff" in their effort to "downsize"... after selling their expensive silver, antiques, art collections, furs, cars, and other luxuries, they sell their mansions for more money than most of us make in a lifetime.  They can downsize  to 2,500 square feet and never have to work another day in their lives.

Well, as the wealthy downsize and "get back to basics" the rest of us carry on.  They are glutting the market with used wealth which only makes our Sears and KMart "stuff" even less valuable.  Have you tried to sell a used refrigerator on Craig's List lately?  The wealthy remodel their kitchens and put their old refrigerators on CL for "free".  So we can't even get a break when we try to get rid of the old fridge in the garage or the snow tires left when we totaled the Mazda.

Anyone need four used winter treads on mag wheels that fit a Mazda or Prius?  Make me an offer.

The beat goes on.


  1. Thanks for the hat tip and I loved the part of your analysis regarding the religious moralists completely missing the lessons about the evil of money.

  2. Thanks, Truth, I knew you would!

  3. Erik, your comment strikes me as "generic", so, Thanks, but I think I'll pass for now.

  4. " . . . but totally ignore the many admonitions about wealth and the wealthy . . . ."

    Yup. Fundamentalist religion seems to be about only two things: gays and abortion. Oh and KILL THE ENEMY.

    In Texas, at least, they add a fourth item to the creed: Friday Night Football. I'm not joking.

    All of which makes me want to just throw up.

    Along with those multi-million dollar salaries and "downsizing" to 2500 square feet.

    Hell, I've never ever lived in a place that was half that size!

    As someone once said: "The poor are always with you." Yup. And there's a reason for that.

  5. I have many thoughts along these lines, and can become very confused by them. One thing that really bothers me is why people like Charlie Sheen, and all celebrities really, get paid so much money. It's truly obscene. The main reason is that our society worships celebrities. But why? I know I certainly do not, but it seems like everyone else does.

    The most basic, lowest-level trait we have is greed. We desire things and no matter how much we have, it's not enough. It's a terrible trait and I wish it could be bred out of us.

    Is greed what is behind all the celebrity worship? We cannot be celebrities ourselves, so by worshiping them we get a sense of 'ownership', and by worshiping them a lot we feel like we 'own' the celebrity more than other people do. This sounds logical to me. It all comes down to greed.



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