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Wishes & Resolutions December 31, 2008

Posted by Kate Ryan in Auto Bail-Out, Barack Obama, Economy, popular culture.
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25005So, 2008 is almost a memory, and not a minute too soon.  The year was a mixed bag in the Ryan household – as I’m sure it was in many others’.    It started off OK, got a little rocky, regained it’s equilibrium, then tanked into the toilet when the neighbor’s tree fell on my house on Sunday.  What a ride! 

For my last post of this year, I wanted to send out my wishes for 2009 and share some of my resolutions.

Wish number one.  I wish inauguration day was tomorrow – but failing that – I will hold onto my hopes for our new President.  My goal is that the triumphant American spirit will get us through the next few months of really bad times so that we can get out of the economic and political dog sh*t of the Bush administration.  I want America to be strong and respected again around the world.

Wish number two.  I will wish for strength and success for the working people of America.  One of the first acts of the new Congress should be to pass a card check law so that American workers can unionize and be economically viable and productive again.  Also, the Obama administration should review the Bush auto bail-out and modify the terms so that the success or failure of the industry is not placed solely on the backs of the workers.

Wish number three.  I wish Al Franken will win in Minnesota so all the Democrats have to do is swing a few moderate Republicans over in the Senate to get things done.  We saw during the auto bail-out talks that our Republican Senate friends from down south (Corker, Shelby, & Sessions) will do whatever they can to stop the Progressive agenda.  Senator Reid needs to stop playing nice and rule the chamber with some iron.

Resolution number one.  I resolve to finally quit smoking in 2009.  I had two parents that died from cigarettes, but I haven’t been able to give them up.  Enough is enough.  I hate to admit that I am an addict, but just like a crack-head, I could always find lots of excuses to justify continuing my habit.  I have made the decision that I am better than my addiction.  Stay tuned – I’ll keep you up to date on the struggle!

Resolution number two.  I promised my doctor that I will lose 20 pounds by my next appointment (in May).  Since I have spent the entire holiday season consuming anything that wasn’t nailed down, I may have to make it 25 to break even.  I have resolved that I watch what I eat, take the stairs at work, and start walking again once the snow melts (though today it looks like it won’t melt until July).  Failing that, I just might do a giant colon cleanse in April.  I hear it can really pull some weight off.

To all my friends and followers (small in number though you may be), I want to say thanks for sticking with me.  I started doing this in September and I have really enjoyed sharing my thoughts with you and hearing your comments.  And thanks for referring me to your friends, too.  I have had increasing readership for the last two months and I’m looking forward to sharing more with you in 2009.

Have a safe and happy new year, everyone!

Let Them Eat Cake December 22, 2008

Posted by Kate Ryan in Auto Bail-Out, Bank Bail-Out, Economy.
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marie antionette

The story goes that during the French Revolution, Queen Marie Antoinette asked a councilor why the people were rioting.  He replied because they were hungry and had no bread.  The Queen’s apparent response was, “Well, let them eat cake.”

Historians dispute that Marie Antoinette ever actually uttered those words, but the mythology remains in our culture.  The phrase “let them eat cake” has come to symbolize the attitude of the out of touch wealthy classes with all the rest of us.  It intimates an indifference to the suffering of the masses – a “who cares, I’ve got mine” sentiment – and a sense of detachment and disdain for them.

During the endless weeks of talks to save the American auto industry, I have had a sense that the people who shower after work – much of the middle and working classes – have been told to eat cake.  While the government fell all over itself to save the Wall Street elites (those who shower before work) and dumped $700 billion with no strings attached into their laps, the American companies that actually make something were made to wait.  The President and treasonous members of Congress (Sens. Shelby, Sessions, and Corker) took the auto makers and its employees to the brink before lending 2% – two per cent! – of what they gave the financial industry.  In the ultimate betrayal, the workers of these companies were forced to agree to more wage and benefit cuts to save their livelihoods.  Even then, there are no guarantees.  The spectre of unemployment and poverty looms in the background.

Over 12 million Ameicans are out of work right now.  Those numbers are supposed to surge by an additional million people before spring.  Workers are facing bankruptcy, homelessness due to foreclosure, and hunger. 

Hunger is a growing problem in America.  According to the non-profit group Feeding America  (formerly Second Harvest), hunger and food insecurity is a growing problem in the United States, especially among children and the elderly.  Food pantries are having a hard time as increasing food prices and economic insecurity have donations lower than in previous years.  Though they don’t have increased stocks, pantries are serving 20% more people this year than last, and expect the numbers to increase.  The demand for food from charity sources is about 4 million households per week.  The free school lunch program, food stamp program, and WIC programs have been inundated with applications.  The average working person in this country is falling fast.

Meanwhile, MSNBC Business reports this morning that $1.6 billion of the financial services bail-out has gone to pay bonuses to banking executives.  The people that are largely reponsible for the misery that the workers are facing have done quite well for themelves on the taxpayer’s dime.  According to MSNBC, “Benefits included cash bonuses, stock options, personal use of company jets and chauffeurs, home security, country club memberships and professional money management, the AP review of federal securities documents found.”

The shamelessness of these bonuses is breathtaking and the government’s complicity in them is unforgiveable.   Many of the people standing in line for a free turkey this Christmas are there because of the greed exhibited by these banks and financial institutions.  It’s the ulimate “fuck you”.  We’ve just been told to eat some cake.