The Best of the Web

"Works Progress Administration Project 19...

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I thought it was time to brag on some other writers and visionaries for a change. There are a lot of other great blogs out there that are doing creative things, making progressive statements, advocating for women, and featuring more important stories than Jesse James’ tragic breakup from Kat von D. I really thought that would last forever. I’m just devastated!

First off, there’s a great cartoon site that I found through WordPress, mostly because she was kind enough to click the “Like” button on one of my posts. The Adventures of Gyno-Star: Fighting the Forces of Evil & Male Chauvinism is a cartoon gem that gets updated twice weekly on Tuesdays and Fridays. The artist is supremely talented. Her superhero has a sidekick named Little Sappho, and together they fight nemeses like Stay at Home Mommy and Vlad Deferens. Clever fun, and the illustrations are fantastic!

At Rebuild the Dream you can sign a contract for a return to the American dream. Van Jones heads this campaign with the support of many other progressive organizations, most notably MoveOn.org. The idea is pretty simple. Start investing in America again. Update our infrastructure and invest in the future, create jobs to do this and hire Americans to fill the jobs.

What does that sound like? Why, if it weren’t for the green energy component, I think it sounds an awful lot like the Works Progress Administration. The WPA? You don’t say. The brainchild of FDR, a plan to bring us out of the Great Depression, improve our great nation, and feed our families, the WPA is still present in concrete and signs in small and large communities throughout the United States. How do we pay for this? By taxing the rich.

This brings me to another great website. Sometimes people, myself included, like to cast the rich in the role of villain in the deterioration of the American dream and the American economy. But that’s not entirely fair. There are some millionaires out there who are lobbying that their taxes need to be raised.

You can find those millionaires and billionaires on a great website called, Patriotic Millionaires for Fiscal Strength. These people are true patriots, and their message reminds me that with great wealth comes great privilege and with great privilege, great responsibility. These people incredibly, selflessly get that. They make me proud to be an American.

Speaking of being proud to be an American, some people make me proud to be a Christian as well. John Shore, whose blog I’ve championed before, had a great article about a woman named Kathy Baldock and how she came to form a non-profit called Canyonwalker Connections. Kathy had t-shirts made, and she attends gay functions like Pride parades and wears her t-shirt, offering an apology to any LGBT who’s been traumatized by the bigotry of churches who reject homosexuals.

Here’s a great video I found:

The video is a commentary on how household cleaning products are always marketed to women, using women almost exclusively to sell the products to women almost exclusively. The only exceptions I can think of to this are Orange Glo and Oxy Clean. Mr. Clean doesn’t count since he’s a fictional character who never actually cleans anything anyway. The Tidy-Bowl Man is a tugboat operator; he doesn’t clean anything.

What is marketed almost exclusively to men? Beer. How is it marketed to men? Using scantily clad beautiful women to imply that if only you drink enough beer women will want to have sex with you. Maybe if only the women drink enough beer they will forget that they have to do all of the cleaning and will want to have sex with you. Or, and here’s a novel concept: maybe if a man did his share of the chores around the house a woman might be inclined to have sex more often. Beer is optional.

I found this website by happy accident. Hugo Schwyzer is a Christian and a gender studies professor. He’s written many, many enlightening blog posts about issues relating to feminism and Christianity, including weighing in on the recent controversy over actor Doug Hutchison’s marriage to a 16-year-old child and SeekingArrangement.com’s pimping out of college girls. He writes about his views on porn and even cites Andrea Dworkin. He’s sharp, and he’s a pleasure to read.

Hugo Schwyzer also blogs on The Good Men Project. The Good Men Project bills itself as “a cerebral, new media alternative” to glossy men’s magazines. In other words, it’s the anti-Maxim. There are great articles on gender issues and relationship advice, and something for everyone. This website renews my good faith in men.

The Women’s Media Center is a non-profit that seeks to make women more visible and women’s voices more audible in all forms of contemporary media. Their website features a Sexism Watch. They sponsor conventions and leadership panels and encourage women to produce films and documentaries that tell women’s stories. They are fighting to see women represented more in the news and on political commentary shows. Check it out.

August 13, 2011 at 3:30 pm Leave a comment

The Queen of Rage

Cover of "The Stepford Wives"

Cover of The Stepford Wives

Usually whenever some Fox news pundit goes on and on like a broken record about the liberal bias of the mainstream media, I have to laugh. However, the conservatives have a point when they bring up the latest Newsweek cover of Michelle Bachman. They titled the cover story, “Queen of Rage,” and they have a photo of Bachman looking like a mildly surprised homicidal Stepford Wife.

Tina Brown, the female editor of Newsweek, has worked overtime at implying that Bachman is crazy. Now, don’t get me wrong, Bachman is no friend of mine, and she certainly is no friend of the feminists. However, that doesn’t mean that tactics like Brown’s are acceptable in an attempt to make her unpalatable to Iowa voters.

Here we have a woman who’s running for the office of President of the United States of America. Ask yourself this: would any man who’s running for President be treated with the same indignity? I think the answer is no. So, is the Newsweek cover blatantly sexist? You bet your sweet bippy it is.

You don’t need to go searching through the galleries until you come up with the one photo of Michelle Bachman that’s actually unattractive. I mean, just how long and hard did Tina Brown have to search to come up with a single photo of Bachman that’s not flattering? My guess is: hours. In fact, the woman is so beautiful that I’m going to have to see her and Sarah Palin in a room together before I’m convinced that they aren’t the same person.

Michelle Bachman can be called a lot of things, including, perhaps, legitimately crazy and even dangerously simple-minded, but the way we judge those things shouldn’t be based on her appearance, but rather based on the substance of her campaign, her platform, her speeches, her words. There’s lots of fuel for the fire there.

Shame on Tina Brown for resorting to this kind of yellow journalism. It’s like a one-sided catfight in print. It’s the picture that was substituted where a thousand words would do. And Brown makes the loonies at Fox News actually right for once. She also makes me, as a feminist, have to defend a woman whose politics I abhor.

August 11, 2011 at 12:34 am 8 comments

The Queen of Coincidence

I am the Queen of Coincidence-incidence-incidence. Or, as I like to imagine it, to the tune of Cult of Personality:

Look in my eyes

What do you see?

The Queen of Co-coincidence

The Queen of Co-coincidence

The Queen of Co-coincidence

I’m probably, like, a cousin of Kate Middleton’s or something, fourteenth cousin, five times removed, whatever the crap that means. I can’t even keep track of that in my own family. I just say, she’s my cousin, but she’s not my first cousin.

Oh! As a side note, to get fully off track, have I ever mentioned that I have a double cousin? No joke.  And the best part is that there’s absolutely no incest involved. My dad’s sister’s daughter married the son of a first cousin of my mother’s father. Seriously. So, I have this really snotty cousin who acts like she thinks she’s better than me but isn’t too good to ask to be my friend on Facebook that I probably share more genes with than, well, anyone outside of my immediate family. And actually, if you think about it, I mean, that is somewhat related to this post. What are the odds?

Now to get a real feel for this blog post, we have to go way back into the annals of Gooseberry Bush, to a little blog post that I like to call, The Accidental Stalker: An Ironic Tale of My Date with Destiny. Go ahead and read over that post and acquaint yourself with the awesomeness of my unrequited love for one Mark Foster. Mark Foster was an acquaintance of mine that I had the hots for who probably knew that I had the hots for him and didn’t see the point in chasing after a girl who fell into his lap.

Or, perhaps, despite my magnetic personality, he just plain old wasn’t interested. And this is actually a good thing because if he had been interested I’d probably now be married to a Republican, Presbyterian MBA who would force me to name our first-born son after a certain Scientologist alternative rock god. I’d also be married to a man who once described a former fiancée as a talented pianist who just didn’t have what it takes to be a professional musician.

With my healthy self-esteem, by now we’d have three children all named after professional writers, and I’d be a stay-at-home mom, hitting the bottle by 3:00 in the afternoon and bitching about how I coulda been a contender, like Jonathan Franzen. We would go to dinner parties with other business executives where my husband would describe me as a talented scribe who wasn’t talented enough to be published.

Can’t you just see the slurry scene of afternoon domestic melancholy?

Gooseberry: Charles Dickens Foster, you gets yo ass up here, young man!! Jane Austen Foster, didn’t I tell you to clllean your rrroom? [BELCH]

Thank God he didn’t find me the teensiest bit attractive. Instead, he married a horse faced, bug eyed woman. There’s no accounting for taste. But just maybe he prefers horse faced and bug eyed to fat, loud mouthed, opinionated and neurotic. I don’t get it. Really, I don’t. Clearly, he coulda had all this. And the bag of chips. I mean, look at me. I’m not going to begrudge him the bag of chips. What could I say about it that wouldn’t sound like hypocrisy?

So, to get on with it, I’m at the Central Market on North Lamar this evening, going to get something to eat at the café before I meet with my Writers Group. Yes, I meet with a Writers Group. Okay. It’s one other writer, but she’s awesome, and she’s written a rape satire that I’m going to publish as a guest post in another week or two, so keep your eyes peeled.

I go to Central Market early because I get off work at 5, and the Writers Group meets at 7, and I figure that I can eat dinner and goof off on the internet while I’m waiting for my new friend to show up. Also, I have no life. But that’s really not important right now.

I get in line and pick up a menu, and then I move my head just slightly to the right. And I’ll be damned. There he is. I have not seen this guy in…how old am I? I’m thinking I haven’t seen this guy in about 13 years. And I lock eyes on his for about 2 seconds, long enough to see the adorable baby girl in his arms wearing a pink floral sundress. And I figure Horseface must be right behind me.

So, I turn my head very quickly and then turn my back and then, after spending some time pretending to be interested in a magazine rack full of periodicals for breeders, I head for the second floor where I get out my laptop and hide until my friend shows up. By then I figure it might be safe to go downstairs and get something to eat, even though my stomach has been growling for the whole hour and twenty minutes that I wait for the Mark Foster family to finish their dinners. At the same time, I’m on the iChat with one of the Mr. Brewsters.

oh. my. god.

you really are the accidental stalker. who got there first?

i don’t know. i was checking out the prepackaged sushi when i decided I wanted something from the café instead, and there he was.

i think you should aim your sights higher and try for the soup peddler next time. can’t you run into jesse james?

i didn’t aim for anything. i just turned my head, and he was there.

I have a feeling that he’s moved back to Austin with his family and is now really active in the same Presbyterian church that Mr. & Mrs. Landlord faithfully attend.

I swear, this guy is like a boomerang. Thirty years from now when I hit the nursing home, there he’ll be, in the dining room, dentures in a glass by his plate, eating cherry Jell-O. And I will still instantly recognize his ass…and then run and hide.

August 4, 2011 at 3:24 am Leave a comment

Freedom Redux: This is Water

David Foster Wallace at the Hammer Museum in L...

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So, that review was kind of snide and snarky. And I did like the book in one way, and that is that I thought that it was entertaining, even if it was only half-way original. I think Jonathan Franzen is definitely talented. So, I have some second thoughts.

Even if the date rape was clichéd, I still recognize that the reason that it may feel clichéd is that is so true to life. After all, I wrote my own post that was somewhat similar to a Lifetime movie, only it wasn’t fiction, it was from my very own damn life.

[http://gooseberrybush.wordpress.com/2010/08/09/monster-at-the-picnic-table/]

It’s not just a cliché, it’s also my life.

In addition to that cliché there was also the love triangle between the “nice” guy and the “sexy” guy, as if nice can’t also be sexy. It struck me, after reading the book and then also reading interviews and biographies of Jonathan Franzen, that perhaps this book was somewhat personal. Richard and Walter are stand-ins for someone else, and that someone else is Jonathan Franzen and David Foster Wallace.

Even though Franzen is the bigger environmentalist and the bird watcher and probably the less flashy of the two, and even though Wallace superficially resembles Richard, with his greater charisma and physical beauty and tobacco chew, I think that Walter and Richard are actually just dual aspects of Franzen’s personality. It’s Franzen against Franzen.

Also, if anyone is Walter, the more spiritual one, the kinder one, the more worthy one, it’s Wallace, who couldn’t possibly hurt a fly other than himself, if it weren’t for the one fact of his suicide. Wallace was the “churchgoer,” the one with the reputation as the “nice” guy, and yet it was Wallace, and not Franzen, who hanged himself on his own porch for his wife to find his body. Maybe not so selfless a death as David Foster Wallace would have wished for himself, if he had been in his right mind at the time.

It strikes me that Walter’s eventual forgiveness of Patty, and, by implication, Richard, is Franzen’s final tribute to his friend David Foster Wallace. And with this act, his overvalued novel is somewhat redeemed and maybe even worthy of half of the superfluous over-the-top “critical” literary views, if the idea was to transcend the selfish and self involved characters of his Seinfeldian universe, with this one final act of grace.

It occurs to me that  the repitition of the word and the ideology of “freedom” in David Foster Wallace’s commencement speech and the fact that Jonathan Franzen’s novel is titled, Freedom are no coincidence.

July 28, 2011 at 1:55 am Leave a comment

Freedom

A screenshot from To Beep or Not to Beep.

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After writing a blog post about Franzenfreude nearly a year ago now [http://gooseberrybush.wordpress.com/2010/08/27/ill-weep-into-my-royalty-statement/], I thought I’d get around to finally reading the book that caused the controversy. I ordered a copy of Freedom from half.com and got a hardcover version that had been withdrawn from a library in Schaumburg, Illinois. I read it over the weekend. I have some thoughts about the book, and I’d like to share them.

First of all, even though much of the book is an “autobiography” written in the third person, by the novel’s female protagonist, Franzen doesn’t seem to have a very high opinion of women. The only woman who’s really fully fleshed out in the book and still remains likeable, is the daughter, Jessica, one of the few people in the novel who doesn’t have her own vantage point recounted in the book. She is a character who is only discussed upon by her mother, her father, her brother, and her father’s college roommate. She is the only one of the four Berglunds who doesn’t get her own story told.

Freedom is a family drama that’s over 500 pages long. I couldn’t help feeling that the same story could have been told more eloquently and economically, by someone like Joyce Carol Oates, who would have most certainly given Jessica a voice. But I don’t know what I expected from an author who actually snubbed Oprah Winfrey’s Book Club Selection the first time he was chosen, because he feared that it would cause male readers to reject his book. Bear in mind that Winfrey’s book club has included the likes of such gynocentric authors as William Faulkner and Cormac McCarthy. Real pussies, those guys!

Franzen is indisputably a good writer. I’m not arguing that he has no talent. What I am arguing is that he’s not our generation’s Messiah of the Great American Novel. Franzen has been so overly and overtly hyped that, even though he himself comes across as a smug, pretentious and self-satisfied bastard, even he probably doesn’t believe his own press.

The novel starts off with what could have been a short story on its own, the story of the disintegration of a once happy Midwestern American family, told mostly through the eyes and ears of the family’s busybody neighbors. The son starts up with a neighbor girl, and the wife alienates her son to the degree that he chooses to move out of his family home and in with his teenage girlfriend and her mother and stepfather. This causes the wife to come unhinged. We’re told the neighbors suspect her of slashing the tires on the truck of her son’s girlfriend’s stepfather. They also suspect that she has a drinking problem.

After this preface, we’re treated to several chapters of the autobiography of Patty Berglund, the wife and mother with the drinking problem. The writing assignment was for therapy. She starts with a cursory description of the dynamics of her family of origin and then goes into the story of a date rape that she survived as a teenager, an assault that was swept under the rug by her parents.

The chapter is called Agreeable, and it was originally published as a short story in The New Yorker, a periodical that I subscribe to, which might explain why the story seemed so familiar to me. But nah. On top of having probably read the story already, it reads like a 1980’s afterschool special or a Lifetime movie that I remember seeing once. The story of the dutiful daughter raped by the son of a politically powerful family and then encouraged to accept the boy’s insincere apology as penance for his crime – there’s nothing new here. Franzen serves up Mom’s meatloaf and expects us to praise it as if it were filet mignon.

The biggest example of predictability is the love triangle between Patty, her husband Walter, and Walter’s narcissistic musician friend, Richard Katz. Katz is described as promiscuous, unreliable, irresponsible, and prone to addictive behavior. On top of his finer traits, he also happens to be a fundamentally decent fellow with a glossy sort of asshole charisma.

It’s easy to see why Patty might find him attractive in a superficial way. He’s the sort of guy who believes in gender equality and likes women in theory but in practice has nothing but contempt for virtually any female, or at least, for the ones he wants to fuck. I might have found the character of Richard Katz somewhat attractive myself, but Franzen ruined it for me by describing him as looking like Muammar Gadaffi. Maybe this is an example of the “funny” that the book jacket reviewers credit Franzen with.

After Patty and Richard inevitably scratch their itch at Walter’s mother’s vacation home, Richard records an album of sad love songs with his alternative country band Walnut Surprise and becomes a hit with the middle-aged and pretentious set. The album is reviewed and featured on NPR. Richard Katz experiences his first taste of fame, tours the world with a girl in every harbor, and then eventually bottoms out after a DWI conviction and a stint in rehab. Richard Katz isn’t a character. He’s a conglomeration of hackneyed musician clichés.

Walter is a humanistic do-gooder type, passionate about the ecology and the sustainable living movement. He’s so earnest as to come across as self-righteous, a difficult feat for an atheist to pull off. Walter is so good, and Franzen underscores his very goodness so repeatedly, that Walter’s only fault is in his self-righteousness, and perhaps, in his naivete. He comes across as a caricature of a good man rather than a fully realized character. Still, when he finds love with his young and gorgeous Indian assistant, you root for him. But alas, Lalitha is not long for this world.

Franzen foreshadows the novel’s conclusion, setting you up for Patty and Walter’s reconciliation hundreds of pages before, with a speech from Walter’s mother Dorothy on the virtues of loyalty. I suppose Franzen thought his readers would find this a satisfactory conclusion, but I just wondered how long it would take before Patty decided to shit on Walter again. If Freedom is supposed to be Jonathan Franzen’s oeuvre I think he needs to make like Wile E. Coyote and go back to the drawing board. As far as works of art named Freedom go, George Michael has Jonathan Franzen beat.

July 24, 2011 at 2:58 pm Leave a comment

Man Hater!

Sexual equality symbol

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Recently, I’ve been accused of being a man hater. I won’t tell you who did it, but it was hurtful. Apparently, I really hate men. I didn’t know I hated all men, but apparently, I do.

Someone mentioned that in a book she was listening to on tape, one of the characters, in the opening line of the book, discovers that he is a father of a daughter that her mother kept secret from him. She mentioned that it was a frequently used plot device, and I agreed with her. In fact, I think it’s practically a hackneyed cliché.

I told her that was a popular male fantasy, the child you didn’t know about that would carry on your family’s genes and, perhaps, even, your name, with no effort or responsibility on your part. The child, usually a son, is one you had no idea existed. It was raised with no money or responsibility on your part, and shows up magically at your doorstep, either finding you on its own or with the help of its mother, usually when it’s grown or very nearly so.

A son to have a beer with and carry on the family genes and name with no contribution of yours apart from sperm is so popular a notion that it carried some of the plot of the most recent Indiana Jones film, with Shia La Barf in the role of the grown son that Indy never knew about.

She mentioned that there were also popular female fantasies, such as the one with the Princess who’s rescued by a Prince who showers her with gifts and affection. This is dramatized most recently in the movies Maid in Manhattan and Pretty Woman. There’s also the ever popular frog who turns into a prince, modernized as the man who is in need of reforming, a la As Good As It Gets, where a single mother waitress takes on a bigoted OCD victim and makes him into a loveable curmudgeon.

She said I was trying to make men into villains by making my observation about popular male fantasies while making females into victims with theirs. Here’s my official take on all of this. We’re all victims here. The men lose out on their possibilities of being loving parents. The females settle for men who are less than they’re worth by taking on losers with the hope that they will reform. Jesse James, anyone?

Feminists often get cast in the role of “man hater,” simply because they won’t tow the line and, instead,  continue to work toward gender equality. What I didn’t expect is that someone who had professed to be my sister in feminism would taint me with the label of man hater simply because I continue to bring up obvious inequities and myths that perpetuate the sicknesses of our culture?

She actually dared to say that I should be glad that I don’t live in China or the Middle East and ease up because of that. You shouldn’t speak out about sexism; look at our sisters in developing countries. They have it so much worse in comparison. It is BECAUSE those sisters have it so much worse that we have a duty to carry on toward greater equality on our own homefront.

The feminist backlash has run virtually unabated since the early 1980s when the Reagan administration virtually ignored the needs of women and pushed all women back into the role of barefoot and pregnant. Whether through a systematic media campaign or legislation and court rulings, feminism was virtually eradicated. The 1950s returned in the 1980s. We were even betrayed by our own sex, with the efforts of Phyllis Schlafly and Beverly LaHaye, amongst other women. These were women who made a career out of encouraging women to return to the Dark Ages and failed to see the hypocrisy in their own actions.

And here I am, betrayed by someone that I thought was a sister in the battle for gender equality. Just yesterday I mentioned that divorce rates for stay-at-home dads are much higher than that of the general population, with about half of the divorces initiated by the wife and half by the husband. I said that was a travesty, and that if these men were contributing to child rearing and the maintenance of the household that they should be given the same respect that we would give to a female homemaker. Men shouldn’t feel like they are less than men because they aren’t the primary breadwinner in a household. And that somehow makes me a man hater!

I should mention what this same woman said about my recent article on slavery in the U.S. military that wasn’t covered in the mainstream media: I hate the military. That’s right. I hate the U.S. military. That’s why I want our boys brought home so they won’t continue to die so some soccer mom can fill the gas tank on her S.U.V. It’s because I hate the military. Really, I do.

She never thought that maybe, just maybe, the post was written because I HATE SLAVERY. I love our men in the military. I want them brought home safe and sound.

So, to all the people who call me a man hater or a feminazi, or whatever Rush Limbaugh is using as a misnomer for feminism nowadays, I say: Fuck you! I will continue to fight for what’s right. And what’s right is equal rights for both men and women. Men should get custody of children if they are fit parents. Females should pay child support. Men shouldn’t be ashamed of being stay-at-home dads. Parental leave for all. Both men and women should have equal rights to an education and a rewarding career. And we should stop having such rigid societal views of just what it means to be a man…or a woman, either. But frankly, men have much less freedom with that definition. It these views are what makes me a man hater, then so be it!

July 13, 2011 at 2:59 am 4 comments

The 99%

Classic General Electric neon sign, in Willaco...

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An article in Vanity Fair from the May edition (the one with Rob Lowe on the cover) talks about income disparity in America. I’m sure it’s nothing that people in America don’t already intrinsically sense, but just in case you missed it: 1% of the people in America make 25% of the income, and the same 1% own 40% of its assets.

Instead of being the land of opportunity it dreamily advertises, America is on par with Russia and Iran in terms of the disparity between its haves and its have nots. This only addresses the top 1%: the wealthiest of the wealthy. Income and wealth distribution in America is much more unfair when you factor in divisions amongst the remaining 99%.

Once upon a time in America, this was a land of opportunity. Our founding fathers and subsequent leaders wanted to ensure an equality of opportunity (or at least as much of one as possible) and fought to keep America from becoming like a feudal European state. Part of the point of having a graduated income tax and estate and capital gains taxes and anti-trust laws was to keep the wealthy from, in effect, owning the country and then having those wealthy pass it on to their children. And so on and so on and so on, in perpetuity.

Now the rich get around these laws with special tax breaks for big corporations and the wealthy. I’m not anti-business. I’m not even anti-big business. The problem is when I hear that multi-billion dollar behemoths like General Electric paid no federal taxes last year. That’s something I take issue with.

The problem is when I see executives that make millions of dollars a year go unscathed after they make unethical decisions that cost “regular” people their jobs and their homes. That they haven’t been prosecuted is something I intend to remember in the next Presidential election.

The 1% elect other members of the 1% to represent the 1% and the interests of big business (not surprisingly, how much of the 1% makes its money). The 1% funds the campaigns of the 1% it elects. They fund the lobbyists who barrage the lawmakers with their requests on behalf of the 1%.

But there will be a day of reckoning. Make no mistake about it. I hope that day of reckoning will just be a day at the polls. One day the 99% will wake up and see what’s going on, and I only hope that the 1% make adjustments towards greater equality before that happens. I hate to think about what else could happen. Read The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. Ask Anistasia. Ask Marie Antoinette.

Now, since I sometimes criticize certain conservative politicians for bitching about problems without solving them, I would like to propose some prospective solutions. For one thing, we have laws in place to protect consumers in this country. It’s time we started enforcing them. Let Elizabeth Warren head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and give her the power and influence necessary to carry out her job instead of being a mere figurehead.

Take away all the special tax breaks and loopholes for the wealthy. Who are the wealthy, you might ask? Well, that probably depends on the size of a person’s family and the number of his dependents. However, I think most people in America would consider themselves very fortunate to make a six-figure income. Certainly, if you are making $250,000 a year, then I don’t care if you’re the Duggards or the Browns of The Sister Wives, you couldn’t possibly have enough children to be hurting on a quarter of a million dollars a year. No “special” tax credits for you.

With 401(k) plans, the government makes employers conduct something called nondiscrimination testing on an annual basis. If the rank and file workers in a company are making a disproportionate percentage of income compared with a company’s officers and upper management, then the upper management doesn’t get to sock away as much money on a tax free basis. These people received distributions from their 401(k) plans, and they are taxed on them at the normal rate…or they have to find other tax loopholes created for the wealthy. I have no doubt that there are some.

How about doing nondiscrimination testing on salaries as well. Establish a percentage that seems reasonable, and then for every dollar they make above what’s considered a fair amount, tax the hell out of it at a higher percentage rate. It’s unconscionable that executives, officers, and managers at a corporation should make well over 10, 20, or 30 times the salaries of the typical worker.

It’s immoral when these executives take all of the credit for a company’s success and none of the risk or the blame when it fails. A company’s success or failure depends on all of its workforce. I’m not advocating equal pay for everyone regardless of risk, stress, education, experience, and competence level. What I am saying is that it’s wrong for a few men to make billions of dollars while the men who work hard to keep his company afloat have to apply for food stamps and Medicaid when the company flourishes and get pink slips when it doesn’t.

I don’t expect that this post will get much traffic or inspire much thought or change. I expect things to remain in the status quo, right where they have been for the most part since Ronald Reagan was elected. I had hoped that Obama might accomplish change, but apart from his health care plan, I see little that has changed. And the health care plan hasn’t taken effect yet. If the Republicans and Tea Party revelers have their way, it never will.

http://www.vanityfair.com/society/features/2011/05/top-one-percent-201105

July 1, 2011 at 1:44 am 1 comment

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