Boycott Wal-Mart

Call for media giant ABC to boycott Wal-Mart, the mecca of shopping hell. Tired of Wal-Mart taking over the country and driving down U.S. wages while fat cats get rich in cushy mansions beyond your reach? Sign the petition here.

And for you naysayers who think you’re getting a bargain, we all like low prices. But, think about this – what if you were forced to work for less because your boss decided to cut the price he charged your company’s customers just so he could edge out smaller competitors and gain a monopoly position?

The up side? Cheap bread.

And for those of you who hate government hand-outs, why is the government giving welfare to Wal-Mart? If Wal-Mart was made to play by the stark rules of a free-market, capitalistic economy, would it still be so successful?

More about Wal-Mart’s transgressions in this world here.


Confederate History

The persistency of the Confederacy movement in America is a phenomenon that has baffled me for quite some time. Usually, a country that defeats a civil uprising does not allow its former enemies, or the decendants and sympathizers thereof continue celebrating its causes. You win. You win.

I suppose this is a testament to the unique nature of the American Civil War and how close it was. A decisive victory on the side of the Union (i.e. the United States of America, the country we live in) would have brought the Confederacy to an utter end. No one would want to remember its sad legacy and envision its undeniable demise.

On the other hand, the African-American community are equally baffling on this subject. The Civil War did not solve their problems. The Civil War did not create their problems. The strength of our country is that we are all free to express ourselves as we see fit. Even if I’m baffled by it, others are free to fly any flag they chooose. Word of observation, however: until African-Americans discontinue referring to themselves as African-Americans, they will always be treated as less than American. Until they discontinue referring to themselves as ‘black’, they will always be less than ‘white’.

For the truth of the matter is – ‘black’ and ‘white’ are not racial terms. They are fabricated terms based loosely on skin tone, hardly an accurate category for gauging someone’s ethnic background, if ethnicity is truly an important idea to focus upon. I believe it isn’t.

But, I digress. To the issue of celebrating the Confederacy, the problem is – too much heritage. Rebels believe that they have a right to revel in the past glory of a long dead rebellion, celebrating the bravehearts of that era as if it were something to be happy about. They do. Word of observation, however: until these Confederate sympathizers begin living in the here and now, facing the problems and challenges of our current era, we will always have these ignorant debates over a war long ended.

Isn’t it time to bury the Civil War ghosts along with its dead? Isn’t it time to live in the freedom of today rather than dwell on the slavery of the past?

Government Transparency

This column was written by the Dean of the University of Richmond Law School. It’s interesting that it serves to bury the White House’s Plame blunder under a mountain of pro-democracy ‘feel-good’ platitudes. Good ol’ Times-Disbatch editorial staff, doing the bidding of their evil White House masters.

All Hail the King!

Despite the fairy tales we’re taught in school-age history books, the United States was built on the idea that Corporate interests replace the rule of kings.

To this day, our ‘government’ is ruled by often competing, but mostly colluding business entities who may do as they please, as they hide behind the corporate veil all the while funding the ‘representatives’ who pretend to speak on the behalf of the general public while fleecing, however benevolently, every American every chance they get. The stupidest among us are led off to slaughter.

Wars have always been fought because of enough of the will of big business was behind it and enough idiots were willing to sacrifice their lives for the Corporate Welfare as long as it was played off as patriotism. The freedom that is spoke of so highly by conservative thinkers has nothing to do with private freedom; it has everything to do with Corporate freedom. Witness the latest act of those Corporate puppets who call themselves ‘congress’ – S.256, the Credit Card Company Protection Act of 2005. This 500+ pages of wood pulp that incidentally, does nothing to reform Chapter 11 (which covers businesses) would:

– Make debtors pay more to creditors, both in bankruptcy and after bankruptcy, so that a bankruptcy filing will leave a family with more credit card debt, higher car loans, more owed to their banks and to payday lenders.

– Make it more expensive to file for bankruptcy by driving up lawyers’ fees with new paperwork, new affidavits, and new liability for lawyers, so that the people in the most trouble can’t afford to file.

– Make more hurdles and traps, with deadlines that a judge cannot waive even if someone has a heart attack or an ex-husband who won’t give up a copy of the tax returns, so that more people will get pushed out of bankruptcy with no discharge.

– Make it harder to repay debts in Chapter 13 by increasing the payments necessary to confirm in a repayment plan, so that more people will be pushed out of bankruptcy without ever getting a discharge of debt.

Those who would abuse the system are let off Scot-free by this bill. Millionaires can still use the unlimited homestead exemption. Even if they don’t want to buy a home under this trap door, they can just shift their millions into a trust fund, a loophole that lets them keep everything—all they need is a good lawyer. Meanwhile, middle and lower class folks are screwed to the wall.

A good story on the problem of credit card debt in America can be found here at The Washington Post website.

What I find most striking about S.256, officially known, however ironically, as the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005, is that it misses the obvious problems: loan-shark tactics of the credit card companies – preying on college students, outrageous late fees, and phony ‘low-interest’ credit card offers. Why aren’t our so-called elected representatives more concerned about these sheister practices? Because these individuals are already filled to the brim with wealth and power. What do they know about struggling to make ends meet? The only way most people can even make it from month to month is to use credit cards. Do rich congressman care? I think not.

What these privileged few fail to realize is that our consumer-driven economy would last about three seconds if consumers didn’t frequently push to max out their credit cards. We are a commercialized society where every chance to buy products is thrown in our faces – from every kind of insurance under the sun to drugs and health products that claim to fix every problem that covers the body. Then, at least every year we all pause to enjoy an annual orgy of spending loosely based on an ancient pagan holiday stolen from the x-stians that is nothing but a holy day for the merchants and bankers. No wonder it is the most celebrated time of the year, with dozens of films and other media that translate ‘good will towards men’ to ‘buy something for everyone you know’. Feel good and dig deep. We need to get into the black.

Speaking more generally, though, the only reason that there are two political parties is that, as the system evolved, major power players in big business couldn’t really decide between two very different ways of governing, so a competitive, power sharing plan known as our two party system emerged. They relied on a market, known as the political process, to see who has the better PR staff to push a candidate who represents the prevaling Corporate segment. The Oil/Energy sector always wins eventually, but during the Clinton era, it was the telecommunication industry. At one point, around, say 1776, it was the tea/importing interests that won the day.

The idea, though, is that we are better off, in general, with this system than we would be in a pure dictatorship/monarchy.

Too bad for us, though, that the Corporate Powers seem to have consolidated and are heading in a decided direction, a direction that effectively creates a new monarchy, with a new king called Big Business.