Trivia 1N

The main reason that Americans should fear the immediate financial future of the world? It's because the vast majority of the value increases that are occurring on the world's stock markets are being created through the simple function of far too much money chasing a very limited number of shares. Where is all of this money coming from? From the fact that the idea of personal savings has virtually disappeared from the individual investor's financial vision and the overuse of credit accounts of all manner. What this means is that the world's markets will continue to increase in value only as long as the majority of investors believe them to be a better choice than the act of placing those funds in savings accounts or CDs or any other form of passive savings. Consider this scenario, then; the markets grow to such an extent that the average growth rate becomes such a small percentage of capital that the interest rates offered by traditional savings accounts become more attractive. Money moves from the markets into savings, the value of the shares and bonds begin a steep decline, corporations find their assets becoming far less valuable which will result in the inevitable massive layoffs and recession turning to a global depression which can be rectified only, as history shows over and over, through a world encompassing war. Sound too far fetched? Let's hope so. (1)

Are you one of those folks who think that the FDA (Food & Drug Administration) is protecting you and yours from the dangers lurking just beyond your limited knowledge? Ignoring the various drugs now on the market that were approved via the Republican's disastrous "Fast Track Approval Process", you had best watch out for those hot dogs you cook at your next barbecue. The summer of 1998 saw the deaths of 11 people, the sickening of 70 others and five miscarriages from eating Ball Park Franks (the same ones touted by Michael Jordan). That was, as an added piece of information, only the number of cases that the FDA could trace to that particular brand of frankfurters. The reason that so many folks could be stricken is directly attributable to the fact that the FDA only conducts limited random tests for listeria bacteria. Far be it from me to remind you that this space has often predicted that instances such as this would begin appearing now that the once respected department began finding its funding disappearing in every Republican budget. Between the reduction in staffing and the foolish "fast track" policies and the lax enforcement of government safety and health standards, this nation is selling out our lives and our health in exchange for higher profits for Corporate America and its wealthy owners. (2)

The LA Times had an interesting juxtaposition on their Commentary page recently. As has been shown very clearly both in these articles and in that small part of the media not completely owned by Corporate America, every instance in which Congress has raised the minimum wage the economy has not only chugged along as if nothing had happened but, for those at the lowest end of the economic spectrum, the results were a slightly better standard of living. Not one job has been found to have been lost due to the increases and you can be very certain that the conservatives have looked long and hard since they hate the idea of any sort of restrictions on just how low of a wage their owners in Corporate America can force on Americans.

Nevertheless, the paper had Robert Pollin, co-director of the Political Economy Institute at the University of Massachusetts and co-author of "The Living Wage: Building a Fair Economy" writing for the left under the headline "Living Wage Gives a Boost to Demand".

Writing for the Right was Diana Furchtgott-Roth, resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and co-author of "Women's Figures: An Illustrated Guide to the Economic Progress of Women in America".

Ms Furchtgott-Roth claimed that the wonders of the market will always force companies to pay for the level of skill which is needed for the work at hand and, therefore, any manipulation of that part of the economy will cause havoc and massive unemployment and other horrors too numerous to mention. She even wanders off onto the subjects of unions and declares their usefulness over in a time when corporations are paying what she deems fair wages and moving any jobs overseas that becomes too expensive in America. I would like to hear an explanation of how that fits in with the likes of the Levi Strauss Company, who plans on moving their production to Asia not because the company was losing money due to wages paid here but, and their top executives openly admitted this, because they were unable to foresee the changing markets and are simply selling styles no longer desired by the teen market, which is the majority market for most jeans manufacturers such as Guess! and Hilger. By lagging so far behind the needs of their market, the executives lost a huge portion of their original market share and, instead of being honorable about their failures and handing the reins of the company over to someone capable of doing the job better, they decided to cure the problems caused by their stupidity by means of laying off thousands of American workers who had been loyal to Levi's for decades and make production costs less by having children make the product, instead, thus making the profit margin appear to increase until the next batch of stupid and short sighted decisions begin to be felt and, by that time, the executives will just cash out their stock options, rake in millions and declare bankruptcy. (I seem to have gotten side tracked there for a minute but I think I made a point in there, somewhere. If I failed to do so, then I would probably make an excellent executive at Levi's, don't you think?)

In any event, the last time that the minimum wage was increased, in 1997, a national poll found that only 6% of all businesses changed their hiring practices in any way and the nation's unemployment rate was unchanged in the quarters previous to and following the raise. Interestingly, in 1968, the minimum wage was $7.50 (in today's dollars) and the economy was 50% less productive than it is today.

Gentle readers, the fact is that Corporate America, given half a chance, would lower wages in this country as far as possible in order to create even more competition between American workers and the children that Corporate America so happily exploits in Asia and other areas. If we, in any way, allow ourselves to fall into the trap of believing, for even a moment, that Corporate America and their allies in the Global Economy care one whit for the well being of you and yours, then the idea of the American Dream will fade forever for all but the very wealthy and the most greedy, but I repeat myself. (3)

Okay, change of subject. Given these three choices, which would you choose to be our next President?

1) Candidate A chain smokes and drinks 8 to 10 martinis a day, associates with ward heelers, consults with astrologers and he's had two mistresses.
2) Candidate B was kicked out of office twice, sleeps until noon, used opium in college and drinks a quart of brandy every evening.
3) Candidate C is a decorated war hero, a non-smoking vegetarian who drinks an occasional beer and hasn't had any illicit affairs.
4) Candidate D cheated on his first wife and divorced her in order to marry his mistress, refused to pay to have his mother placed in a quality care home, used astrology to determine policy and was unable to remember the reasons for most of his actions when asked.

Want to see whom you would have selected? (4)

An interesting piece of information was forwarded to me by one of my readers in Australia. It's a one sentence Letter-to-the-Editor commenting on the entire sex-scandal and impeachment here in the good old U. S. of A. It states, "Thank God we got the convicts and they got the Puritans". I wonder if it's too late to trade?!?

Finally, according to an Associated Press report, Israel's National Parks Authority is building a 13 foot wide, 28 foot long crescent shaped floating bridge that will be submerged two inches below the surface of the water in the Sea of Galilee. The purpose of this rather odd structure? To enable the faithful to experience a simulation of what Jesus felt when He walked on water. Can the Apocalypse be far behind?

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Copyright 4/19/99