Trivia Is Its Own Reward

Now that we know that all of the shouting over Clinton allowing campaign contributors to be buried in Arlington National Cemetery was all just so many lies and unfounded innuendoes and that only one person was ever buried there illegally and, then, only due to his own false story of military service, we now learn that Republican Sen. Ted Stevens wanted a waiver for the burial of Daniel Terra. Terra, who acted as "ambassador at large for cultural affairs", a position created solely for him as repayment for the $21 million he raised for the 1980 Reagan campaign, also lied about his military record on his government resume. At the very least, Larry Lawrence, the man buried with Clinton's permission, was a real ambassador to a real country.

Did you know that, according to the Washington Post, an attorney for the National Meat Association drafted a congressional amendment that would delay an inspection program to protect consumers from salmonella and E. coli bacteria in meat and poultry products. An expected veto from the President was all that stopped it from passing through Congress.

Welfare for America's poorest citizens cost American taxpayers approximately $70 billion in 1997. According to Common Cause, Corporate Welfare cost working Americans over $338 billion. ADM (Archer Daniels Midland) received $3.2 billion to subsidize their production of ethanol, even though the production is profitable in and of itself. McDonald's, Pillsbury, ConAgra and Tyson Foods are among the extremely profitable corporations which siphoned off $6.2 billion in taxpayer funds to promote their products in overseas markets. Why does information like this always cause such absolute silence in the conservative camps?

According to the Seattle Times, toxic waste and even radioactive materials are being processed into farm fertilizers. Since there are no federal regulations concerning the ingredients of fertilizers or even the listing of the ingredients in a fertilizer, many industries have found it far cheaper to recycle their toxic and radioactive wastes by just adding it to the food chain through America's farmlands. Even Alcoa Aluminum is getting in the act, turning a 120,000 ton mountain of substances like arsenic lead into "nutritious" fertilizer. According to Alcoa's project manager, the Republican's cry for smaller government is a blessing to such activities, "It's a much more efficient system to have self-policing than to have government go out and do it.", said Ozzie Wilkinson, the project's manager. Yup, always better to let business have its way than to have that evil old government actively protecting Americans.

I simply fell in love with this quote. Speaking about the growing criticism of the massive collections of consumer information by corporations such as his Doubleday, V.P. Robert Posch. Jr. stated that the concerns are "the ultimate touchy-feely issue." Privacy, he concludes, is just, "some notion of the right to be left alone. Spare me." I'm sorry, but the knowledge that such asinine people actually exist makes me giggle with wonder at the vast stupidity of Corporate America.

Socialism has also crept into Corporate America's board rooms. Without feeling the need to inform their stockholders, many money losing companies are allowing executives with stock options included in their pay packages to cash in their stock bonuses at its original price. At Mentor Graphics, where stock prices fell 66% last year, executives were allowed to cash in at 1996 prices, giving them a tremendous profit for running the company into the ground. The rest of the companies stockholders, of course, are not offered this program but rather it is defended as the only way to hold onto qualified executives. Apparently, only the most qualified executives can run a company in such a way the its value falls 66% in twelve months.

Finally, a warm little story about Europe's largest insurance company, Allianz AG. In a suit in U.S. District Court in New York over the company's failure to pay policies for Holocaust victims before the start of WW II, the company claimed they refused to pay after Kristallnacht, the anti-Jewish pogrom of Nov. 9, 1938, because they considered the event "civic unrest". They also submitted a document which showed that they refused to insure the homes of Jews during that period because "they often burned down". Showing an appalling lack of decency, however, the company happily insured other housing for Jews; the barracks at Auschwitz and Dachau. Sigh!

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