Obama, Twinkies and Wal-Mart

THERE are three recent events that all share a common thread that runs through them. The recent reelection of Barack Hussein Obama, the failure and pending liquidation of Hostess and the toothless union threat on Wal-Mart.

WHILE all three have union involvement, the common thread is not that they all have undertones of organized labor, it is the idea that there are entities in the American economy that do not deserve to retain the payments for their assumption of risk, something that normal people recognize as profits (in these cases, these are the taxpayer, one failing business and one that is successful). There is a supposition in each of these situations that there is some entity that exists that is more efficient at making the decisions on what value these situations represent and therefore is somehow more “fair”.

IN the case of Obama, his position is clear. For Obama and his ilk, the fact that the “rich” have money is evidence enough that they don’t pay their “fair share” of taxes and instead of representing the results of bringing hard work, innovation, expertise an value to a market willing to enter into a voluntary exchange of things that they have for the value that the “rich” offer, they actually represent a parasitic plague on the “common man” and therefore persecution of this class is both morally defensible and economically desirable.

IN the case of Hostess, we have seen an intractable union place demands on a business with complete and total ambivalence to a company selling a product, one that has probably the best brand identity in its market, into a saturated market highly dependent on discretionary spending. No matter what some think, Twinkies are not a necessity. Of course, there is an argument to be made that the original sin belonged to the management teams that tried to resurrect the flagging business but it is also hard to ignore the lush union contracts that were negotiated during better days that played a big role by doing two things – first by raising the total labor cost of the business and increasing total costs thereby giving less of a cash cushion for the business to use during challenging economies and secondly, believing that the unions were due to a perpetual increase in salaries regardless of the condition of the business – businesses are like airplanes – when they are crashing it doesn’t really matter who is responsible for the dive, just what pulls the plane out of it because if it reaches ground, all passengers are equally as dead.

AS for Wal-Mart, the contention is that they don’t pay their employees enough, a “living wage”, even though people still go to Wal-Mart of their own free will in droves to get a job and those same people look to Wal-Mart for low priced, yet quality goods. The union argument is that they “make enough money” to pay their employees more. In short, even though the employees bear none of the risks of running a global supply chain, maintaining thousands of stores and distribution centers and the market has not role in setting the level of pay at which largely unskilled workers make a decision to exchange their efforts for pay.

THE common thread? One of the pillars of Marxism, the labor theory of value.  This is a proposition that the value of any good or service is only determined by the amount of labor required to generate it.

IN this theory, risk, capital and management skill plays no part in the creation of value and society should only assign value by the amount of direct labor input to a good and since the value is solely based on labor content, any and all gains are the property of collective to be shared with all the laborers. There is no decision to be made by the free market, the setting of price at where a seller is willing to sell and a buyer willing to buy, there only “fairness” as defined by the amount of work that a worker produces.

ONE doesn’t have to be Sherlock Holmes to look at these three situations and see the commonality.

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117 thoughts on “Obama, Twinkies and Wal-Mart

  1. In the case of Hostess, we have this….

    Forbes: Hostess Exited Bankruptcy Because Of “Substantial Concessions By The Two Big Unions.” Forbes explained that Hostess was able to exit bankruptcy in 2009 for three reasons, including that “substantial concessions” were made “by the two big unions” — the Teamsters and the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union. Forbes further explained that “annual labor cost savings to the company were about $110 million” and that “thousands of union members lost their jobs.” [Forbes, 7/26/12]

    Hostess Had Stopped Contributing To Pensions And Wanted To Cut Worker Pay Further. According to The Kansas City Star, union leaders reported that Hostess had stopped contributing to workers’ pensions and wanted to cut wages and benefits “by 27 to 32 percent”

    Meanwhile….

    In court papers, the creditors say testimony from Hostess’s executive vice president of human resources indicates that “in the run-up to bankruptcy”–when Hostess had already hired bankruptcy attorneys–it was also working to shift its compensation structure. Hostess slashed bonuses payable only if certain performance goals were met and, on July 26, the company’s compensation committee signed off on “substantial salary increases for numerous senior executives,” the creditors said, calling the jumps “dramatic.”

    Hostess’s then-CEO, Brian Driscoll, saw his salary rise to $2.55 million from $750,000–a 300% increase.

    “Other executives’ salaries were increased by from 35% to 80%,” the creditors said.

    This was not a case of an unreasonable union, this was a case of the Operwtors of the company looting it from the inside out.

    Not that I’d assume that you didn’t have any idea what the truth was, but did you have any idea what was the truth behind your idealistic rant? The Unions have conceded, twice, in good faith. Your corporate buddies took that faith and rammed it up the workers rest area.

    • G., I think you’ve made a good argument for the mismanagement of management. I’d like to see the unions’ contracts.Wonder if I can google that….

      I know that a CEO should be paid more than a baker, but a 300% raise during a recession is awfully generous……….and dumb.

      • kells – It’s the same old story; banks and auto manufacturers did the same thing in 2008. The economy was going to hell in a handbasket, the auto manufacturers were going broke, the big banks were folding – cutting employees and services, but the CEOs, CFO, etc. were getting gigantic bonuses and golden parachutes even as they were taking the government handouts so readily provided by Bush and Obama to “save the economy”,

  2. People go to Wal-Mart looking jobs because, to paraphrase Willie Sutton, that’s where the work is. Wal-Mart’s economies of scale mean that it can starve out any smaller competition. I wish that they would open medical clinics in every store, watch how fast doctor’s prices would drop :)
    Has anyone noticed the number of Dollar Generals being built? They are filling a niche, the smaller dry goods store, ,Taking advantage of Wal-Mart’s saturation of a market, they can build closer to growing customer bases than the Big Box can, who would only be cannibalizing customers at that point.

    • g – Yes, we’ve noticed the Dollar Generals being built. They are building in Fountain, Fl (pop. 3365), Grand Ridge, FL (pop. 800), Malone, FL (pop. 2008) and Walmart has noticed too. I recently read where they intend to change their business plan from supercenters back to smaller stores to address this, but people from all over Jackson county still drive to the supercenter in Marianna. The Dollar Generals employee about 4 people in each store.

  3. Greg, throughout your bellowing, bellyaching, and hyperventilation, you have forgotten a minor detail:

    None of these “corporations” ever once forced any person in to employment with them. Maybe you Free Sh*t Army folks should reflect on the choices you make. Not happy with the money? Find another job. Not happy with the benefits? Oh lord, time to find another job. Not happy with the hours, or work conditions? Oh heaven forbid you have to find another job.

    Bitching about it does nothing….except cost you your job. You can’t be the little bird that shits in the nest, and stays in the nest.

  4. “None of these “corporations” ever once forced any person in to employment with them.”

    Augger – That is a true – but misleading – statement. The corporation didn’t “force” anyone to go to work there. People go to work there because they need a job and that’s where the job is. Walmart builds these “supercenters” in small towns like Marianna and Chipley (FL) where I live. They put the small, home-town businesses (groceries, clothing stores, etc.) out of business. They employee more than 300 people in each store over their 24 hour shifts. They become one of the major (or only) job opportunties in the area. What forced the individual to take that job? The economy, the need to pay bills, the need to feed and clothe families, the need to survive, the need to feel self-worth. People (the Free Sh*t Army) are bashed here for not working. Don’t bash the ones who take the only job available in the area.

    • Horse-hockey FC. Anyone can do something to earn a living … even if the grab a lawn mower and shove it down the street. No one is “forced” to work for another, and your false reference endorses slavery. Amazing that you bash those that take a financial risk and offer employment to others. Without them, these people wouldn’t have something to bitch about, and then what?

      Successful people neither make, nor accept any excuses. Period.

      • Again true, again misleading. Anyone can push a lawnmower down the street, which by the way, will not support a family either, and in Jackson county many do for a second job because their primary job (Walmart, farming, etc.) does not pay enough. Get down off your “physician high-horse” for a minute and realize not everyone makes as much as you do.

        By the way, I’ve not bashed anyone. Perhaps you would care to show me where I did? You (and Utah) got your education, you earn your money. I’ve got no problem with that.

        • “Get down off your “physician high-horse” for a minute and realize not everyone makes as much as you do.”

          Let’s discuss my high horse (my God you sound like that flippant jer, Greg). I served in the military during a time that no GI bill was offered. After leaving the service, I went to school while I bussed table, and mowed yards. As far a Jackson County — well, you make your bed hard. Jackson County is not the last bastion of Americana left out there, pal. We clear on that?

          If I can do it, anyone can. All it takes is a bit of attitude, and fortitude. Am I smarter than anyone else? Hell no. But I damn sure have been, and continue to be willing to work harder than anyone around me for what I want to make out of my life.

          Again, successful people neither make, nor accept any excuses. Period.

          • augs – don’t you know that you and I are evil because we make more money than a Wal-Mart greeter? Never mind the sacrifices that each of us made to get there.

            • I’m seeing it played out right here … by folks I would never have imagined ever hearing it from. Amazing. Utterly amazing.

                • Yep. The Free Sh*t Army is entrenched. Maybe it’s time to just simply close up shop, put a few more folks on the unemployment line, and call it a day. Betcha I would get off the radar that way. Hell, I might even gain a little respect.

  5. If “melfamy” had any actual sources for his agitprop he would have linked to it. It’s easy to attribute Forbes, 7/26/12 or The Kansas City Star, because he knows the average reader can never find the articles. Of course having his head up his ying yang doesn’t help either.

    • frankl – Not hard to find these links, just type “hostess corporate bonuses” into your browser and its there for you to see. Here’s one for you;

      Hostess To Pay $1.75 Million In Executive Bonuses After Blaming Unions For Bankruptcy
      By Travis Waldron on Nov 19, 2012 at 1:55 pm
      “Hostess Brands, the maker of sweet snacks like Twinkies that filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection last week, will ask a bankruptcy judge today to approve a plan that will allow it to pay $1.75 million in bonuses to 19 of its executives. Hostess’ decision to file for bankruptcy came amid disputes with its union workers, who threatened a strike that Hostess said imperiled the company’s finances.”
      “Even as it blamed unions for the bankruptcy and the 18,500 job losses that will ensue, Hostess already gave its executives pay raises earlier this year. The salary of the company’s chief executive tripled from $750,000 to roughly $2.5 million, and at least nine other executives received pay raises ranging from $90,000 to $400,000. Those raises came just months after Hostess originally filed for bankruptcy earlier this year.”
      “Hostess is hardly the only company that has compensated its executives during bankruptcy or times of financial instability. Failed financial firm MF Global gave CEO Jon Corzine an $8 million pay package after it filed for bankruptcy, and Citigroup CEO Vikram Pandit received a $6.7 million pay package when he resigned, despite Citi’s 88 percent profit loss during his final quarter. And Hostess isn’t alone in giving executives massive raises while asking for concessions from union workers either: construction giant Caterpillar rewarded its CEO with a 60 percent pay raise, paying him $17 million, even as it forced a pay and pension freeze on its union workforce.”

      http://thinkprogress.org/economy/2012/11/19/1215811/hostess-executive-bonuses/?mobile=nc

      • Lemme just inject something in here. Hostess — private sector traded company. If you really want to hyperventilate about CEOs and bonuses, maybe you should take a look at companies who accepted massive, even colossal amounts of taxpayer monies to fund them, and the bonuses ultimately given to their administrators.

        Is your problem really with private sector companies & CEOs or the Federal Government who takes your money and hands it out freely to companies like Solyndra, GM, etc? Maybe you should double check your targets.

        • How about the fact that GM does not pay federal corporate taxes? How about the union bosses who rake in 6 and 7 figure salaries? How about public sector workers making 16% more than private sector workers with an unemployment rate at roughly a third of the private sector?

          • That’s why I am supporting your logic … ie, pointing out the ones Greg would never point out if he were a part of this conversation. :)

            “You” wasn’t meant directly at you (sorry for the confusion on that one)

  6. I would like to ask a question How many people on this site have started a biz? Do you know what it’s like to mortgage your home to start a biz? Do you know what it’s like to put everything you own on the line knowing if the new biz fails you will lose everything you own? Do you know what it’s like to lie in bed at night worrying that if you make a mistake the children of the people who work for you will suffer? That’s the very situation most small biz people are in when they start their biz and most of us never grow to be the size of Wal Mart either.

    I have read that when Obama took office 70% of Americans worked for a small biz. Some small biz even offer great pay and benefits. My top employee pulled down 300k a year, had paid medical, dental. 401k and profit sharing. On her birthday, she got the day off and a crisp $50 bill to take herself to lunch, 10 holidays, 3 weeks of PTO.

    While many folks point endlessly to WalMart as a “bad employer” most biz owners get up every day in this terrible biz climate, they risk all they own and work 60 hours a week for what? To be demonized by the President, the unions and more and more by the very American employees they lay awake at night worrying about.

    I have some advice for the folks who hate WallMart–don’t work there, don’t shop there. Pretend it’s still a free country full of free people and show your maturity by ignoring companies you don’t respect because your lack of respect doesn’t mean they don’t have a right to try, to struggle to get ahead, to exist. Let the market decide their fate.

    Capitalism, free markets, these are the best ideas America has to offer the world. These ideas can make poor kids who work hard into millionaires, They are the reason this country has been a beacon to others all around the world.

    Sorry if I lectured a bit in this post, as a former biz owner I have come to feel very strongly about this subject.

      • Don’t let them Kill ur dream Kells…..this is their goal….to make everyone as miserable as Mal-famy is.

        Start Small…learn the reg.s….leave yourself an out…..then if successful, grow slowly.

        • I was talking to a girlfriend today, and she has agreed to help me in my pursuits. In other words, my aim is to skip working at McDonald’s to get “cooking” experience in order to train at a nice place.

          Everyone wants me to teach voice and piano, and that would be lucrative; however, the only clientele I got last time on that endeavor were the Honey Boo-Boo types. :roll:

    • Trappedinca,

      I have now started 3. One was a wild success, the other — well, going nowhere at the moment, but we’ll see — and the third is just starting but I have every reason to believe it will do as well as the first.

      In ALL 3 businesses, my #1 problem has been the govt. My #2 problem has been the attitude of the people who came to me for a job.

      With all the differing opinions on this page, I notice something interesting: we live in a nation where you are still nominally free to make your own job, yet most look to others to provide and bellyache when they don’t get to be in charge. I suppose people are free to complain, but, as an employer, it falls on angered ears where I’m concerned.

      If you come to me for work, I MAKE THE RULES! If you do not like it, go make your own job. If you do not like it and form a union, I HAVE THE RIGHT TO FIRE THE LOT OF YOU! And if you go get govt. to take your side, YOU ARE A THIEF! Yes, THIEF — PLAIN AND SIMPLE! But worse, a cowardly thief. If you are going to FORCE me to do YOUR will, at least have the balls to do the dirty deed yourself.

      (NOT directed at you, Trapp. I think you will know I am standing with you on this issue :-) The guilty here know who they are. )

      • ” If you do not like it and form a union, I HAVE THE RIGHT TO FIRE THE LOT OF YOU!”

        No, not for forming a union, you do not have the right to fire anyone, but of course, you know that.

        • Actually, I DO have the right to fire ANYONE who works for me, for ANY reason. If I own a business and you work for me, I HAVE THE RIGHT TO FIRE YOU — PERIOD!

          Anyone claiming I do not have this right is actually claiming he/she has a right to MY property. This makes them a thief. When they send the govt. to do it for them, that makes them a cowardly thief.

          Man’s laws do not change this. This is natural law and it is eternal, and the reason our society is so messed up is because we have tried to function in opposition to this natural law for far too long. The most fundamental right in a civil and self-governing society is the right to property. When that right is no longer secure, you have tyranny and despotism — as we have now.

          • Again, you know better, Joe. If you fire an employee for trying to form a union, one of the government agencies you hate so badly, the National Labor Relations Board, will pay you a visit and order you to give the employee his job back and then penalize you financially. Now, you can trump up a reason to fire an employee who is trying to start a union and possibly get away with it, but then, maybe that’s why your employees were trying to start a union in the first place.

                • His point is that we should accept corruption and violation of natural law simply because evil men have declared it “legal.”

                  Tell me, Kells, how does that put society back in line with God’s natural law? Or can we have slavery again and it be OK just because we pass a law to allow it, only, this time, we include language that says “this time slavery is moral, so shut up.” Does that make it right if we do it that way?

                • “His point is that we should accept corruption and violation of natural law simply because evil men have declared it “legal.”

                  Now see, there ya go, doing what you often do, putting words into other people’s mouths (posts). My point is not that we should accept corruption and violation of anything just because it’s legal. I simply stated a FACT contrary to your post.

                • NO, FC,

                  I have not “put words in your mouth,” I have taken what you have actually said to their natural and logical extension. If you are willing to sit back and accept that which is unjust and immoral, and which is contrary to natural law, then you have embraced it and given it your blessing.

                  If you do not actively resist it, then you are part of it. Right and wrong is that simple to understand and that hard to live.

                • FC,

                  I understand what the law is. I just see that the law can and often is wrong — even evil. The law is nothing but man trying to force his will on God’s universe. When we do not write our laws to work according to God’s natural law, we violate the individual’s rights and we trample his/her liberty.

                  Now, yes, the govt. will not let me fire someone for forming a union, but that is EVIL as it tramples my right to fire an employee. When I lose that right, there really is no “collective bargaining” here – there is govt. control of the business and business owner’s property through the farce of the union. It is wrong — period. There is no way to twist it to be right, it is and always will be wrong.

                • Sorry, FC, but I do not “know better.” You are telling me that I cannot do something that I bloody well would do if I deemed it necessary — law or no. YOU may have accepted the laws as they are, and that is why I believe Trapp has said you are a slave. In that sense, I agree. I, however, am NOT a slave and I will resist unjust laws as they are not law — they are merely tyranny in disguise.

              • Joe, good for you! Owning a biz is never easy, but it is creative, innovative and gives a great feeling of independence and confidence. If you are in a “right to work” state you can terminate fairly easily, but always be sure to document all warnings etc to poorly performing employees. Also, it might help to have some written performance policies. I always explained to new salespeople that they had 6 weeks to bring in their first deal and if after 6 weeks they were not close to a sale then they would be moving on. Most seasoned salespeople understand they have to sell to keep their jobs, but kids coming out of college seemed to have more difficulties competing. It was sad! Never going to be be successful in sales if you can’t handle competition. One good thing about being a baby boomer is we all had to compete for everything so by the time we got to the workplace we were not afraid of competition. Some of us actually relish it!

                • Trapp,

                  Brother, if I was afraid of competition, I would NEVER have made it in my market. VERY small, VERY crowded and VERY “bitchy” clientele (yes, they know I refer tot hem that way and they still like me =because they know it is true and that I am honest :-) )

                  I managed what I am told few ever will: I took a hobby and turned it into a profitable business. Still, I made it by the tired and true formula of the free market: I provided a better product at a better price. And I was working 24/7 the whole time. You NEVER stop working when you own a small business, as you well know. You probably also know that there are times when everyone gets paid EXCEPT you, and you own the place. ;-)

                • Kells,

                  I don’t, but the English language has no equivalent of the neutral article “der” (es ist oft deutsch) so — whether one like it or not — he has become the accepted generic where gender is unknown (at least when dealing with most cases related to people).

      • I too have started a business (a practice), and I can tell you the same. Number one obstacle is the countless Federal Regulations. Number two is employees (or associates if you prefer that flavor). Interesting observation about “business”:

        Employees want to work just hard enough to keep their job, and employers want to pay only enough to retain an employees service. Now imagine how that dynamic would change if an employee worked like he/she truly wanted a raise. In my business, that employee could nearly write their own salary. Employees like that are very difficult to find.

  7. Trapped – Thank you for addressing augger’s comment on slavery better than I ever could have. I admire you and any other person who has guts enough to put it all on the line and start a business, but you were a slave to your business just a surely as a Walmart employee is a slave to the corporation. Your worries about your mortgage, your family, everything you own, and your employees welfare go right along with the employee who worries about how he/she is going to pay bills, provided for children, and keep the lights turned on are common. Augger is a slave to the hospital where he works (he has to follow their rules and regs or he can move on) because what they pay him pays his bills. We are all slaves to the system in one way or another because we have all these things in common, whether we’re the business owners or the employees. I’ve not said Walmart is bad, in fact, most of the people I know who work at our local Walmart don’t say that. No one here went on strike on Black Friday. In these rural counties you can work for the local, state, or federal gov’t, you can work for Walmart (or retail) you can farm, or you can work in the prison system (private or state). There is little or no manufacturing around here.

    • “Augger is a slave to the hospital where he works (he has to follow their rules and regs or he can move on) because what they pay him pays his bills.”

      Cracker, I like you. Really I do. But you and I are about to have a major misunderstanding based on your comments like the one above.

      Let’s be really clear about a hospital. They sit on foundations, and are not easily moved. Unlike them, my licenses is very fluid and dynamic. It can move whenever, where ever, as needed. Now that’s an important point to wrap your mind around as it leads in to my next statement …

      I am a “slave” to no one, or no situation. I am self motivated, and self directed as it relates to goals, and work ethnic. I deliberately did whatever it took to place myself in this position in life … whether it was bouncing at Spinnaker, grabbing ride tickets at Petticoat Junction, mowing lawns in any neighborhood I could walk too, or busing tables at the Blue Dolphin. These are the choices I made. Not those of any employer or government, but mine, and mine alone. I can (and have) opened wound care clinics, and office practices on this day, and I can close them the next. I deliberately pick and choose whom I work for, and how much my time is worth. Not to them, but to me.

      Self determination Cracker. It is the cornerstone of what this country is all about. More people should apply that to their lives instead of whining, whimpering, and bitching about their situations. You all have the freedom to change your environment, and if you are unhappy with your situation, then do not make excuses for it. Screw that. It’s wasted time. Take charge of your life, and create that change you want so desperately. That’s all.

      • Did you really work at ” Highway 98 will take you to the happy place that makes you smii….iile! You’re at Petticoat Junction! Amusement Park!” (Yes, I just sang the song.) And did you really work at the Blue Dolphin?

        I believe FL was trying to get across that we are all slaves to the govt., and this you cannot deny.

      • augger – And I like you. I don’t believe you are understanding me at all. When I say we are slaves to a job (any job; doctor, garbage collector, model maker, correctional officer) I simply mean we all MUST work to get where we want to be in life. You, by your own admission, worked your ass off to get where you are. Joe and Trappedinca both said their businesses took 24/7 effort to be successful. How many times have you heard someone say, “I’ve worked like a slave to get where I am today!” I’ve not whined, whimpered, or bitched. I’ve not criticized Walmart, in fact, I’ve stated people in my area are glad Walmart is here. They brough JOBS to a place where jobs are scarce. We all owe our employers a fair day’s work for a fair day’s wage. That’s all.

        • No my friend, I do understand you. However, I think “choice” & “slave” do not mix well in the glass. I suppose “slave” can be applied to self, however I try not to blend the language with self determination (that’s what the liberals are famous for doing). See my point?

          Yes, I have worked hard, and deliberately. However, I did it for myself first. Old saying; “You cannot help another until you have helped yourself first.”

  8. Florida, you see the world differently than I do. I have never been a slave! Even at the age of 14, all alone in the world, living in foster care I was never a slave. I was already plotting my escape and when I turned 16 I went to court and became an emancipated minor. I have been paying my own way ever since. We all have choices to make in life, mine came earlier than most. Starting a successful biz gives you so much more than just money, it gives you confidence. I still believe in capitalism and the free market.
    Perspective is an interesting thing, it makes some of us slaves, it makes others of us the captain of our own ship. Being captain comes with lots of worries and tons of responsibilities, but I wouldn’t have it any other way

    • Just a matter of semantics I’m sure. I have plenty of confidence in myself and my abilities. I believe in capitalism and the free market. I have never had the desire to start a business. Do I consider my a “slave” in the true sense of the word, not at all, but you (nor I ) can deny the responsiblities that we all have in life are dependent upon someone else (in your case your customers, in your employees case you). We have to eat, have a place to sleep, and need money to provide those things. Some people get so caught up in how great they are that they forget two things; we were all born without anything and when we die, we will take nothing with us. That levels the playing field between the haves, the have less(es), and the have nots. It is the great equalizer.

      • FC,

        I wish I knew how to make you see and understand that your last comment is internally self-contradicting. You actually affirmed Trapp’s point, but I don’t think you see it and I doubt I can figure out how to explain it for you. :-(

        • No, probably not. If you want to follow God’s law (or natural law), then one man is no better than another. One man may be more successful than another, but don’t fail to remember the Widow’s Mite. Just because you start your own business, or are paid $10m a year as a CEO, it doesn’t make you any better than that $8.50 an hour Walmart employee. We all have a two things in common – we are dependent upon each other, and we will die. How we can help each other during our lives is what makes us who we are.

          • FC,

            Now THERE is the crux of our social problems. You just hit on what Jefferson was saying by we are all created equal, and why this nation used to be different from what it is today. Have you ever read what de Tocqueville said about early America and our attitudes toward each other in terms of rich and poor?

            Americans are so enamored of equality, they would rather be equal in slavery than unequal in freedom.

            Only, he was not talking about material equality, but rather, about equality under the law. We are where we are now because we have inverted this desire — just like they did in Europe during the French Revolution.

            • “Americans are so enamored of equality, they would rather be equal in slavery than unequal in freedom.”

              Perhaps in the world of Barack Obama and his minions. I believe that hard work (success) has it benefits; more money, more material things, but I also believe that laws are written to apply to all Americans, rich and poor. A $10m CEO who breaks the law should be subject to the same penalties as the $8.50 an hour Walmart employee. I no more believe in “spread the wealth to make all Americans equal” any more than you do. You work for your money, you’re entitled to keep it. A person doesn’t work for their money, they’re not entitled to my money.

              Still, as we have all acknowledged here, there are changes that will have to be made if our country is to survive. The have nots will have to give up some of the entitlements, the haves will have to give as well. Neither side will be happy – both sides feel they are being treated unjustly.

              • FC,

                One of the things I do believe we need to address is the corporate structure and its legal status as a person under the law. This is not only a violation of natural law, it is what allows the great disparity that so many people see as immoral. Without these giant corporations, there would be far fewer people making hundreds of millions of dollars for doing essentially the same job they would be doing if they were running say, a local department store. If “conservatives” are going to identify the centralization of power in the government as a problem, they have to accept that their same criticisms apply equally to the centralization of power in the corporate world. I have come to believe that we must address this — soon — as the way we allow corporations to operate presently is resulting in a fascistic alliance between big business and government. In this, I agree with the Left. I just disagree that the solution is to give all the power to what is essentially 1/2 of the problem: government.

                • Yes, I agree. Also the tax structure HAS to be addressed. A person with no (or very small) income that pays NO taxes gets a refund. A wealthy person (over $250k in Obama’s world) doesn’t pay enough. The rapidly diminishing middle class takes it on the chin. Every candidate had a tax revision plan. Now the one we’re stuck with is Obama’s tax increase on the wealthy and a reduction of deductions.

                • You have just espoused a communist ideology. You have no right to worry about what the head of a company makes and how that is or is not equal to the head of a department store or even a janitor. The pay of CEOs are established by what the boards of the corporation decide is a competitive salary and it is up to the stockholders to say what is the acceptable level.

                  I completely disagree with you on corporations because in my opinion it violates the freedom of association guaranteed by the Constitution. The problem is the government, period.

                • Jesus Christ! What the hell is it with people who think that just because someone makes X amount of dollars more than they do should pay more taxes? Whatever happen to equality for all men in this nation? Sounds a lot like bigotry to me … I wish ‘wealth’ could be classified as a race, because I would love to play that damn race card. I’m sorry folks, but just because we may have acquired more wealth in our lives, we are not your second class citizens.

                  But really, what is it in your minds that makes wealthy folks greedy for the acquisition of wealth in your minds, and why is it not greed if you are demanding the government to seize our wealth and give to you through government programs?

                • I think what B. was trying to point out was the convoluted govt. tax code, which is Marxist. That and crony capitialism. Then again, I have no clue as to what B. was thinking or what I wore yesterday…..

                • utah – You are correct, you haven’t followed the entire exchange. I’ve not bashed Walmart nor have I said a CEOs pay should be equal to a Walmart employees. In fact, I’ve said the exact opposite. I understand how CEO salaries are set. I know you and Joe disagree on corporations all the time. Not my argument at all, but if you’re addressing my comment on taxes, I have to disagree with you. The present tax structure is screwed up.

                • LOL, interesting exchanges here. Let me see if I can toss a grenade in the mix for everyone.

                  First, FC, STOP WORRYING ABOUT WHAT PEOPLE MAKE! This is NOT an issue of morality. A person can be happy making NOTHING and living in a hole in the ground. Incidentally, if you have nominal shelter and enough food to sustain yourself, YOUR NEEDS ARE MET! Everything past that point is exactly what it is — A JUSTIFICATION OF GREED! What’s more, if you cannot find/provide for your nominal shelter and sustenance, then you do not survive. NO ONE has a “right” to lay claim to another person’s labor for their own sustenance. THAT is slavery — not the convoluted, new-aged clap-trap you’ve been calling slavery. Period, end of issue.

                  Now, as for this notion that corporations are private property: BS! There is no way for a corporation to exist without society allowing it to exist. This actually applies to ALL forms of “fixed” property. So, if society makes it, society retains control over it. Follow me here:

                  You own stock so you claim you own the company.

                  I own my vote, which creates and sustains the government that allows your corporation to exist which then issues you the stock. Ergo, I OWN STOCK IN THE COMPANY THAT HOLDS YOUR CORPORATION — the government. This silliness about a corporation being private property is also confounded by the legal mess created when corporations were granted legal personhood. Ah, all you who support corporations, YOU CANNOT OWN IT! That would be a violation of the 14th amendment, boys and girls :-)

                  In reality, corporations are a violation of natural law as they exist solely to provide a buffer between individual responsibility and the law. If you doubt me, tell me, when was the last time a corporation went to jail?

                  Our founders actually spoke directly to this issue:

                  “All the property that is necessary to a Man, for the Conservation of the Individual and the Propagation of the Species, is his natural Right, which none can justly deprive him of: But all Property superfluous to such purposes is the Property of the Publick, who, by their Laws, have created it, and who may therefore by other laws dispose of it, whenever the Welfare of the Publick shall demand such Disposition. He that does not like civil Society on these Terms, let him retire and live among Savages. He can have no right to the benefits of Society, who will not pay his Club towards the Support of it.”

                  –Benjamin Franklin, letter to Robert Morris, 25 December 1783, Ref: Franklin Collected Works, Lemay, ed., 1

                  “A right of property in moveable things is admitted before the establishment of government. A separate property in lands, not till after that establishment. The right to moveables is acknowledged by all the hordes of Indians surrounding us. Yet by no one of them has a separate property in lands been yielded to individuals. He who plants a field keeps possession till he has gathered the produce, after which one has as good a right as another to occupy it. Government must be established and laws provided, before lands can be separately appropriated, and their owner protected in his possession. Till then, the property is in the body of the nation, and they, or their chief as trustee, must grant them to individuals, and determine the conditions of the grant.”

                  –Thomas Jefferson: Batture at New Orleans, 1812. ME 18:45

                  OK, go ahead: tell Ben, TJ and me why we are wrong :-)

                • Joe, again, you put words in my mouth, intentionally or not (I suspect intentionally).

                  “First, FC, STOP WORRYING ABOUT WHAT PEOPLE MAKE! This is NOT an issue of morality.”

                  I’m not “worried” about what people make, in fact, I’m one of least worried people about that you’ll ever meet. I’ve worked for 3 telecommunications corporations. I’ve made $100k annually. I believe people are paid what they are worth to their company. I don’t advocate paying a shelf-stocker or sales associate at Walmart $50k annually.

                  “A person can be happy making NOTHING and living in a hole in the ground. Incidentally, if you have nominal shelter and enough food to sustain yourself, YOUR NEEDS ARE MET! Everything past that point is exactly what it is — A JUSTIFICATION OF GREED! What’s more, if you cannot find/provide for your nominal shelter and sustenance, then you do not survive. NO ONE has a “right” to lay claim to another person’s labor for their own sustenance.”

                  Funny thing. That’s what I’ve said about a dozen times in this thread. Does it sound like “new-age clap trap” coming from you?

                  • FC,

                    I have read all of your comments in this post and I have not seen you clearly articulate the position I took about happiness, but I HAVE seen you bring up the issue about money and wealth discrepancy. If it does not matter to you, why bring it up — repeatedly?

                    I’m sorry, but I remain unconvinced. In fact, I am starting to wonder how well you know what you believe and why. I do not say this to insult or even out of any ill will. I simply and honestly believe that you just need to think this through a bit more as — if what you say is true — then you are presenting the exact opposite appearance. It may be time to find a new way to make your point.

                  • I might say the same to you, but then, I try not to assume that others have NOT already considered the opinions of others and found them lacking — as you seem to be doing to me here.

                    FC,

                    Haven’t you caught on to how much I read? And — IF I am reading as much as I claim — how could I NOT care about the opinions of others? I mean, if I didn’t care and want to listen, why would I read them?

              • “Just because you start your own business, or are paid $10m a year as a CEO, it doesn’t make you any better than that $8.50 an hour Walmart employee.”

                Now maybe I am just mixing words, but I would like to point out that any of us here who is successful, rich, better off than others, etc. etc. etc …. has never asserted we are “better” than anyone else because of our assets. I claim my moral high ground on the fact that I have the morals and fortitude to state that I will never accept other people’s money to support me without earning it … and that I have always been willing to work for everything I want or need (mostly without borrowing a penny to get it).

  9. B said: “If “conservatives” are going to identify the centralization of power in the government as a problem, they have to accept that their same criticisms apply equally to the centralization of power in the corporate world.”

    And I agree.

    I have long believed that big government and big business are directly related. Consider the federal highway system. As it was constructed, old roadside businesses suffered, and larger interests competed for real estate near the interchanges. To qualify, they had to meet stringent government standards, hiring teams of lawyers, engineers, and marketing analysts. In short, you had to be big and close to government just to compete, and the would-be small-scale entrepreneurs were reduced to looking for wage jobs in these larger concerns.

    That is just one example. ANY government program, especially those designed to “help the little guy,” is likely to produce the same result; making it harder for the small-scale entrepreneur to compete. Following good intentions, progressives are making it harder for the rest of us to get anything done, and, by extension, they will end up more beholden to big corporations and subject to bureaucratically-controlled conditions somewhat akin to a sanitized form of slavery.

    Like B said, government is the biggest obstacle to establishing a successful business. With the implementation of Obamacare, my guess is that independent contracting will become the standard solution to evading government intrusion.

  10. I’ve been out all day and haven’t been able to follow all of this – but for those who were bashing Wal-Mart and “corporations” because “this is the only place that people can go to get a job”, would those same people be better off with or without those jobs?

    How do you think that companies set wages? Do you think that they just say “screw you” this is all I will pay and forget about other competing wages? Every company that I have ever worked for does wage surveys to determine the going rate for comparable jobs in the area – and guess what, so does Wal-Mart and other companies like them. The wages that these unions are bitching about are entry level rates where all of the Wal-Mart regular employees start – and if they paid below market, there would not be able to fill the jobs, so they pay at market and they have plenty of applications.

    You can argue whether or not the Wal-Mart model is good for the economy but in my mind a job with the possibility of a future is better than no job at all.

    • Could you just imagine the public outcry if Wal Mart just decided all this hoopla wasn’t worth it, and shut their doors?

      Stupid dolts. They would fall on their own swords just because they are so enamored with their own ranting, that they will never see the flaw in their logic.

      • Well, the baker’s union at Hostess WAS celebrating that they didn’t have jobs. They said that they would rather be jobless than work for Hostess.

        • I believe that. Hell, I might even understand that. Sure, I have money. Very easy for folks to overlook the fact that I have spent many 90, 120 hour weeks working when I was so tired to even think about driving home out of fear of falling asleep at the wheel to get where I am today.

          But honestly, the easy road of government entitlements has it’s appeals when you really think about it. However, I just happen to want a better lifestyle than that while I am on this big blue marble.

          • You know, I’ve lost the will to even care about folks like this – I have reached the point where I just want to be left alone. I’m willing to contribute 25% of my income in taxes without question just so that I don’t have to be demonized for actually being successful – because I sure as hell didn’t start out that way…

        • True enough – and stupid in my opinion. The Teamsters had settled. They lost their jobs along with everyone else because the baker’s union had rather not work than take concessions. Dumb.

      • I agree with Utah, Augger and Trapped in this.

        At the Heart of this discussion is FREEDOM…..and arbitrary rules based on Organizational structure and income and asset distribution are at root antithetical to freedom.

        Large Corporate Centralization being in bed with the Government is a problem of Government…..and of the slow drifting away from the Constitution. It is a problam of NOT following original intent ! America has become more like that which it left behind. Large landed interests being in league with the Kings and their bureaucracies. This time it is Large Corporations and especially Banking Cartels that are in bed with the US Gov’t…..all to ensurea kind of Monopolistic favor…through Lobbying etc.

        But that does not mean that The Corp. Structure is flawed. It means rather the Government has grown WAY beyond it’s original intent and has become the Intrument of preventing Organic Business growth from the Working and Middle classes (through regulation), in other words …a Gate-keeper. Governments other new Function is as a Protector (at public Expense) of Arbitrary Monopolistic power to certain chosen Companies and Industries…..those who support the increasing power of Washington over private life.

        KC seems to be basically espousing the Re-distributive rhetoric of the Progressive / Democrats…..re-worded versions of “you didn’t build that “.

        • Don,

          But that does not mean that The Corp. Structure is flawed.

          I must disagree. The corporate structure is the permanent and unregulated granting of a charter. Do you know why the Boston Tea Party happened? it was directly connected to the uncontrolled grant of a charter to the East India Tea Company. Look deeper into that issue some time.

          When a company is allowed to become an entity unto itself, it violates natural law. It cannot exist in nature, it must be supported by society. When society allows the company to take on the legal form of a person, then society is playing God: “creating life,” so to speak. This violates natural law as it leaves no one to be responsible for the actions of the company. How do I put a company in jail? How do I execute it when it commits a capital crime? If it belongs to its stockholders, then the company cannot be ended as that would be equally as wrong because you violate the rights of those private property holders. Or would we rather jail/execute ALL stockholders as owners of the corporation? Do you see where this is going?

          Then there is the matter of the creator ALWAYS being superior to its creation. Who creates the corporation? The government. Who creates the government (in a free and self-governing society, anyway)? The people. So who owns the corporation? The people. So why CAN’T the people — through their government — control that which they create???

          I understand that people think they are defending private property rights, but they are not. They are defending socialism in another guise. Hence, the flip side of the same coin.

    • Again, for this post – – Walmart is one of the few, if not the only place in this area to get a job. I’ve not bashed Walmart, their pay, nor their policies. Not one employee here even considered the Black Friday walk-out (that I’m aware of). We (our area) is better off because Walmart is here. I say that with qualification because you can argue whether or not the Walmart model is good for the economy. Again, it is better than no job at all.

    • Justin,

      Utah is correct: it isn’t how Wal-Mart or any other business runs that is the problem — at least not as I see it. I do not care if a business owner earns more money that the Fed has, so long as it is earned within the confines of NATURAL LAW — not man’s law. This is where I take issue as the corporation — as we know it — is a violation of natural law.

      I’m pretty sure one person or family could run Wal-Mart by themselves, so I could deal with the existence of a Wal-Mart. But no one person or family could run GE, so I DO take issue with the existence of GE — as it is currently structured. There comes a point where the very nature of a corporation is socialist, and how one can argue that this nature is both private yet dependent on the public support and permission of government is beyond me.

      As I see it, we are muddling around in the area Mussolini defined as the essence of fascism:

      “Fascism should rightly be called Corporatism as it is a merge of state and corporate power.”

    • I take you back to 1 day after the ultimate in job destruction was re-elected to a post on entitled “The Truth…It Hurts” In it is audio taken from Las Vegas. The employer gave the employees the “required” 30 day notification. Nevada is a “right to work” state and the pain in the ass federal government still makes life unbearable for employers even in that state. Those who worship at the alter of Barack “I’m The Monte Hall of Gifts” Obama believe in equality of outcome. They never understand that it the quantity of of outcome is directly proportional to the quantity of effort. Period. This theory of getting something for nothing will come to an end and those who don’t figure it out will be in the same shape as they entered the game. Poor, a drain on society, and crying like babies that life isn’t fair. But by then…. Barack “Give it away now” will no longer be in office.

      Barack’s followers anthem….

      [audio src="http://www1.freewebs.com/dh2005/Red%20Hot%20%20Chilli%20Pepers%20-%20Give%20it%20Away%20Now.MP3" /]

  11. Anyone looking for the government to create ‘fairness’ in the pay and tax structure of businesses should give it up. To say investment in America is already suffering as a result of unfavorable tax and regulation policies would be the understatement of the century. International competition has been chipping away at the economy for decades. Government fixes don’t help, and will not produce the desired result except for a select few.

    With that, it appears there may be a sort of ‘day-trader’ mentality among some – not all – CEOs and investors, and it also appears that some of them may be gaming the government for personal gain. There is at least the appearance of it; perhaps it is overblown. Right or wrong, there is not much that can be done about it, besides maybe just saying ‘no’ to government bailouts.

  12. Once again our education system has failed us greatly.

    The Concept of the Limited Liability Corporation mixed with Free Enterprise and the guarantee of Property rights is what enabled the Middle Classes to grow and prosper beyond what “rights” the European states bestowed upon them from time to time.

    It is amazing to see, even here, the infusion of and defense of purely communist ideology into discussions about American ideals. Even here people are angry that someone has more than they do.

    • Don,

      So you think me ignorant of the history of corporations? I hope not, because my views on corporations have spawned from my research into them. They are EXACTLY what I claim: a means to allow people to act without regard to others and without legal liability beyond fiscal penalty — which they then socialize by passing the cost to their customers.

      Next, if you think that I am “infusing communism” into the American ideal, I suggest you take it up with Franklin and Jefferson as I am siding with them — less you know propose the very progressive notion that you know better our founding ideals than two of the four men who drafted them. Is that what you are saying? because, if it is, you and I will stand in opposition to each other, and yours will NOT be the position of natural law and liberty.

      You see, I do NOT begrudge private property rights, but I see that there are two kinds. You have the unquestionable right to personal property, such as those items you can move and have physical possession of. And then you have socially constructed property, such as land and “intellectual rights.” These are the product of society. they are not natural rights because they do not exist in nature. They had to be created. And, as created things, they rightfully remain under dominion of their creator: in this case, the people, through their government.

      Still, I do not begrudge private property in the form of land and intellectual rights. My business is based on both, so why would I oppose them. What I oppose is the creation of an artificial person for the sole purpose of allowing people to avoid personal responsibility for their actions. If you want to form partnerships, this is your right through the natural right to contract. But, if you want the protection of an artificial construction such as a corporation, then you have NO RIGHT to also assert private control over that which the people must give you. THAT IS COMMUNISM INSERTING ITSELF INTO THE FOUNDING PRINCIPLES OF THIS NATION! What’s more, my friend, it is not me saying so, it is 1/2 of the drafting committee of the Declaration of Independence!

      If you disagree, take it up with them!

      • “Again and again, Smith warned of the collusive nature of business interests, which may form cabals or monopolies, fixing the highest price “which can be squeezed out of the buyers”. Smith also warned that a true laissez-faire economy would quickly become a conspiracy of businesses and industry against consumers, with the former scheming to influence politics and legislation.”

        Anyone agree with this statement? Disagree?

        • WM,

          I think — as you stated it — I have to disagree. IN a market where monopolies are allowed to exist, there can be no “free market” in the sense most of us understand.

          I think this is actually at the heart of what prevents both sides from seeing the other’s position (note: I did not say agree with, just see it). The reality is that we do NOT have a free market and haven’t for a long time. What’s more, neither the Left or the Right actually want a free market: they all have some special interest they seek government to do “for” them or “to” their opposition, and that is not a “free” market.

          In a truly “free” market, the government would bend over backward to avoid taking anyone’s “side” and to just focus on making sure that all players in the market had equal protection under the law, equal access for redress of grievance and were treated equally once before the law — nothing more. IF this were done while maintaining a true allegiance to Locke’s notion of Natural Law, then monopolies would be very difficult to build and — even if they managed to rise up — would be equally short lived (remember, under natural law, all heirs have to inherit equally, which, through the simple mechanism of natural talents, will serve to level any monopoly within a generation or two at most. In fact, this is why equal inheritance was actually the law of the land under our founders).

  13. There is a post on corporations brewing in me, but, for now, those of you defending them may want to give this a read as you are going to see it again very soon:

    Our Hidden History of Corporations in the United States

    When American colonists declared independence from England in 1776, they also freed themselves from control by English corporations that extracted their wealth and dominated trade. After fighting a revolution to end this exploitation, our country’s founders retained a healthy fear of corporate power and wisely limited corporations exclusively to a business role. Corporations were forbidden from attempting to influence elections, public policy, and other realms of civic society.

    Initially, the privilege of incorporation was granted selectively to enable activities that benefited the public, such as construction of roads or canals. Enabling shareholders to profit was seen as a means to that end. The states also imposed conditions (some of which remain on the books, though unused) like these*:

    Corporate charters (licenses to exist) were granted for a limited time and could be revoked promptly for violating laws.
    Corporations could engage only in activities necessary to fulfill their chartered purpose.
    Corporations could not own stock in other corporations nor own any property that was not essential to fulfilling their chartered purpose.
    Corporations were often terminated if they exceeded their authority or caused public harm.
    Owners and managers were responsible for criminal acts committed on the job.
    Corporations could not make any political or charitable contributions nor spend money to influence law-making.

    For 100 years after the American Revolution, legislators maintained tight controll of the corporate chartering process.
    Because of widespread public opposition, early legislators granted very few corporate charters, and only after debate. Citizens governed corporations by detailing operating conditions not just in charters but also in state constitutions and state laws. Incorporated businesses were prohibited from taking any action that legislators did not specifically allow.

    States also limited corporate charters to a set number of years.
    Unless a legislature renewed an expiring charter, the corporation was dissolved and its assets were divided among shareholders. Citizen authority clauses limited capitalization, debts, land holdings, and sometimes, even profits. They required a company’s accounting books to be turned over to a legislature upon request. The power of large shareholders was limited by scaled voting, so that large and small investors had equal voting rights. Interlocking directorates were outlawed. Shareholders had the right to remove directors at will.

    In Europe, charters protected directors and stockholders from liability for debts and harms caused by their corporations. American legislators explicitly rejected this corporate shield. The penalty for abuse or misuse of the charter was not a plea bargain and a fine, but dissolution of the corporation.

    Our founders understood the damage wrought by violating Natural Law…

    • Well, honey B., why don’t you repost your conversation with the traveler when he speaks to the OWS fella and the corporate fella. It’s very good. I should know because I liked it,,,,,,,,,,way better than those two planks stuck on Gilligan’s Island.

        • Metaphorically. And yes, I do see it. The Interloper (not Traveler) is far superior to the Stick and Twig story because his voice acts as a much-needed third person; that being the conscience that pervades in order to open the eyes of two differing ideologies. My only problem with Stick and Twig is that I wanted to slap the hello out of Stick. But with only two characters, a choice is set upon the reader. Your aim is obviously to have folks understand natural law. It’s just that, there will be those who will side with Twig if for no other reason than they dislike the character of Stick. I’m probably not making a lick of sense to you. I just think the Interloper is what you should publish.

          • You are making sense, I just don’t know if your dislike for Stick is genuine, or whether it is somehow connected to your dislike for me — personally. I question this because, of all the people who have read it to date, you are the only person who has disliked Stick.

    • The Constitution was written as the distillation of Many views. Just so no single one would “hold sway” over others. It is its great purpose and genius.

      If you are sure of what you believe, no one can turn you. Take heart.

      • Don,

        Then you DO stand in opposition to the men who considered what Jefferson and the other three in the drafting committee wrote and STILL passed it as it is now written???

        You see, they had many views, but they all had a general understanding and agreement with John Locke’s views on natural law and natural rights. If they did not, then this nation would have never been.

        But, yes, I will NEVER budge from my position on natural law because it is the sole source of man’s ability to claim individual rights and liberty. Once you break from it, you are in the land of Hobbes and the French Revolution. And once you cross that line, you will lose your debates with the Left every time — because you are trying to out-liberal a liberal. never works.

    • Justin,

      The Constitution only protects what is stated in the Declaration. Think of it as a wall, but a wall that is only as strong as the peoples’ understanding of what it is protecting.

      that said, there is NOTHING in the declaration that would stand with OWS. There is NOTHING in the declaration that would prevent a Bill Gates. In fact, if you left the corporate structure out of the equation, Bill Gates could still pretty much be what he is today. THAT is the way natural law works — not through giant corporations that are allowed to buy and sell people by sheer size as the East India Tea Company did.

      I am not opposed to societally protected private property status of land and intellectual things, just opposed to allowing artificial entities to shield people from the responsibilities of their actions.

  14. Pingback: The Last Option | The Rio Norte Line

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