Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Jim Webb Kicked Some Serious Ass Last Night

These are issues many of us have discussed and blogged about for years, but this is the first time I've seen an elected politician on the national stage discuss them in such blunt and forthright terms:

"When I graduated from college, the average corporate CEO made 20 times what the average worker did. Today its nearly 400 times... Wages and salaries for our workers are at an alltime low as a percentage of national wealth, even though the productivity of American workers is the highest in the world...The middle class of this country, our historic backbone,and our best hope for a strong society in the future, is loosing its place at the table...We should measure the health of our society not at its appex, but at its base, not with the numbers that come out of Wall Street, but wit the living conditions that exist on Main Street.

Regarding the economic imbalance in our country, I am reminded of the situation President Theodore Roosevelt faced in the early days of the 20th century. America was then, as now, drifting apart along class lines. The so-called robber barons were unapologetically raking in a huge percentage of the national wealth. The dispossessed workers at the bottom were threatening revolt. Roosevelt spoke strongly against these divisions. He told his fellow Republicans that they must set themselves "as resolutely against improper corporate influence on the one hand as against demagogy and mob rule on the other."

How long before this guys runs for president?


BlackLabelAxe said...

Wow, I really enjoyed reading that. I think this may be the first post that Sabob has ever posted that I've agreed 100% with.

If you read my Viking rant, you know that I believe in hearty sharing, and that profit should not be reaped off the backs of your team without giving back generously.

The instrument of enforcement then was a combination of Leadership by great men (like T.R.) and a call to a greater sense of civility.

I don't know how a CEO can look himself in the mirror and know that he makes nearly a million dollars a month when he has people fixing his car, cleaning the office, fixing his computer, growing his food, preparing his food, and taking out his trash that don't even take home $10 an hour for their service.

...but that's just my opinion. I will run my business as such. It brings no joy or fulfillment to the soul to treat people like their labor is just a number.

As always, I leave others free to abuse knowing that the wages of selfishness is misery and loneliness. People really do get what they deserve.

B.L. Sabob: now "completely heterosexual" said...

Unfortuntely, I am of the opinion that sociopaths feel neither misery nor lonliness and actually enjoy the feeling that they are benefitting from the suffering and/or subjegation of others.

I'm not claiming that all corporate CEOs are sociopaths, but a signficant percentage are. I business colegue was recently decrying why the super-wealthy don't devote a significant protion of their earnings to research in curing disease and ailments of aging. I responded that its because generally speaking, kind, generous concerned people don't become billionaires, or hundred-millionaires. It takes a special kind of super-driven, super-egotistical, super-selfish sociopathic personality to accomplish that level of wealth. Of course there are exceptions, like Bill Gates and Warren Buffet

BlackLabelAxe said...

I think you make an incredible point when you say that the greatest and most civil people among us don't aspire to be billionaires.

I am working hard and trying to live below my means so that one day I don't have to compromise on the nice stuff that I want, but there's just no way I could spend a billion dollars on myself without some serious personality flaw or mental illness.

The most fun thing to do with money after you know that you have money to eat with and a house to live in is to give it to other people, or spend it taking care of other people.

I despise wealth envy, but I'm really scratching my head to figure out why a CEO needs a $6,000,000 salary when the company can't even pay their retired employees' pensions or even the company's subcontractors or consultants.

I think it's just a moral conviction that the people at the top need to find. That, and corporate wellfare has got to end. No more tax money handouts to companies- if you can't make it on your own then you go out of business.

Some of the right-wing hypocrisy pisses me off like nothing else: They preach about smaller government, but they pass laws letting their campaign contributors take tax money to run their companies. You've gotta take the bad with the good, and that's why I'm not a Republican anymore.

B.L. Sabob: now "completely heterosexual" said...

Wondering why some guy needs to earn 8 figures a year and needs to fill his 3 palacial homes with enough gold to make Liberce blush, or needs a 150 foot yacht named for his mistress' vagina is NOT envy. Its common decency and good taste. All that bullshit about class envy is just a propaganda tool used by the owner class to dismiss any kind of criticism of their ethics and/or lifestyles.

And let me go on record as saying that none of this is a morality or ethics issue to me. It is simply a matter of what works and what does not work. I think when you look at the history of various civilizations, you will find that the more class stratification in a society, the smaller and weaker the middle class; the closer that civilization gets to collapse. Is is an economic and social model that just doesn't work. Period.

BlackLabelAxe said...

I respect what you're saying about it not being a morale issue, I just wish people would look at it as if it were.

If morals can make people behave without the infinite bulwark of government and their half-ass attempt at doing anything, then I think that's a good thing.

The Scandavian countries, especially Sweden, would serve as perfect examples of what you're talking about.

B.L. Sabob: now "completely heterosexual" said...

The problem with the concept of a morally self-directed society is that it is Utopian and therefore illusory. If you take three dudes to Blockbuster, you're going to have a difficult time getting them to agree on what video to rent, much less getting an entire society to agree and adhere to a code of conduct voluntarily.

Government, like any group of people, including the vast majority of nuclear families, will always be completely dysfunctional. But like the family, that does not mean that we seek to throw the baby out with the bath water. The ideal is to confront those dysfunctions honestly and rationally and remedy them. Baring the ability to remedy the problem, we must seek ways to function as well as possible with the problems.

Government, at its best, is intended to represent the will and well-being of the vast majority of the people. It is there not only to provide guidance and education as to how best to prosper and get along with one another, but also to enforce the public's right not be abused by its own predatory elements.

Every body, no matter how healthy, needs white bloods cells to help it fend off viruses, infections and such. I consider the government and its various regulatory bodies to be society's white blood cells. There are times when a body' white blood cells can malfunction and actually cause harm. But that does not mean that one can live without them.

Even if we could get people to agree on a voluntary code of conduct, you still need an enforcement entity. In a nation of one thousand, you could get 9999 people to be the most moral ethical people in the world, and all it would take is one person to fuck it all up and get the rest and get them to cast suspicion on each other. And unless you want a completely vigilante society, you need an entity entrusted to enforce the will and well-being of the majority against the machinations of the few.

While I don't see too many people complaining that we have cops to prevent people from harming society through theft, murder, violence, drunk driving, etc., I do find many people decrying the notion that we should have public agents who enforce the needs of the people against harmful predatory business practices, corporate pollution, manipulative financial practices, etc.