Thursday, November 29, 2012

Billionaires, Bakers, Bankruptcy and Backpedalling (Part Two)

Now... Where was I?

Oh, right! Sorry. I got distracted by Angus Jones for a few minutes.

At this point, I guess I should continue on with my commenter's, uhm, comments.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with working our way to the top and accumulating massive amounts of wealth...
My friend is absolutely right about this! She and I are in agreement 100%!

There is nothing wrong with working your way to the top. And there is nothing wrong with enjoying the fruits of ones success.


There is something deeply, morally, ethically wrong with achieving that success or protecting your personal profit margin by short changing the hard working employees who you could not have achieved that success without.

There is nothing right about trading in your mansion for a compound, buying a second personal jet and adding four more classic cars to your collection while laying off employees, cutting the remaining employee's benefits (and tripling their workload) and raising the price of the product you are selling to your customers, because, "Things are tough all over."

The Blog personally witnessed the following conversation between an employee and the company's CFO a couple of years ago....

Employee: How was your Christmas vacation?

CFO: Miserable! We are having our kitchen and dining room remodeled and it has taken longer than we expected. We had to spend the whole holiday at the Ritz Carlton. It was awful.
What makes this exchange galling is that the employee, a divorced mother of two (who was, frankly, just trying to make polite conversation) was, at the time, in the middle of fighting the foreclosure of her house, due to the fact that the CFO in question had cut her annual income by a third the previous year, in order to keep the company's profit margin at status quo.

The employee in this story walked a way, at that point, and cried.

*A quick digression*

In many cases, one of the main jobs of a company's CFO is to keep the CEO out of the loop where employee wages are concerned. In a, sort of, defense of CEOs, many CEOs would be appalled if they knew how little their employees were being paid. On the other hand, that's why they employ CFOs.

*end digression*

Moving on...

I think Poppa John's has great food...
Well, that is a subjective opinion. I think Poppa John's pizza sucks.

To be fair, I'm not a fan of Pizza Hut pizza or Dominos, though both are better, IMO, than Poppa John's. Also, to be fair, I think Poppa John's is superior to Numero Uno, Godfather's, Little Caesar's and Chuck E. Cheese.

But, that's not saying much.

Poppa John does a lot of charity work.
Sure he does. And that's good! So do most corporations and multi-millionaires.

Philanthropic foundations are a great tax shelter. And, it's cheaper PR than any television ad buy. The fact that they get to support some of their pet charities in the process is almost accidental.

Call me a cynic, but it's true.

Philanthropy is a good thing, whatever the motivation. I'm all for it!

Is it fair that he (Poppa John) doesn't want to pitch in a few cents for healthcare?
No. It's not. It is also short sighted. Sick employees are unproductive employees. Full time or part time. Employee healthcare is a win/win situation.

"Poppa John" has backpedaled on his comments. I'll get to that in "Part Three."

See you here tomorrow. 

What's the Deal With Angus T. Jones?

The Blog got online late tonight.

Unlike some bloggers, The PC doesn't write a bunch of stuff in advance, then set a timer to post later.

Because that would be cheating.

(And because The Blog hasn't figured out how to do it.)

So Part 2 of last night's blog won't happen until, hopefully, tomorrow night.

For tonight, a couple of quick comments about "Two and a Half Men" star Angus T. Jones' bizarre YouTube "testimony."

In case you have been under a rock for the last few days, Angus is the titular "Half" man of the wildly successful and, evidently, indestructible CBS sitcom.

A couple of days ago, Jones posted a video on the YouTube channel of the cult like "Forerunner Chronicles," a supposed offshoot of the Seventh Day Adventist church.

I don't wish to drive any traffic to this video or their web site. But, if you want to catch up, a quick Google search will take you there. You're on your own here.

The Blog doesn't pretend to know much about the Seventh Day Adventist church. They have a church right around the corner from The Blog's house. What I do know is that, after several years of claiming that "Jesus is returning soon!" on their marquise sign, they exhibited a wry sense of humor the day after the supposed Rapture last year by adding "Just not on May 21st."

This is pure speculation on my part, but I suspect that the "Forerunner Chronicles" has as much to do with the Seventh Day Adventists as Warren Jeffs' "Fundamentalist Church of Latter Day Saints" cult has to do with the Mormon church.


"The Forerunner Chronicles" sounds less like a church and more like a "Young Reader's" series about student wizards or sparkly vampires.

*end digression*

In the video, young Mr. Young calls his show "filth" and asks people to stop watching the show.

A day later, Angus issued a press release "apologizing" for his comments. The apology reads like it was written in a hurry by a panicked publicist.
“I apologize if my remarks reflect me showing indifference to and disrespect of my colleagues and a lack of appreciation of the extraordinary opportunity of which I have been blessed. I never intended that.”
Because calling the show that he has been a part of for the last ten years of his life (and which he is being paid a reported $350,000 per episode) "filth" should not be construed as disrespect.

Emmy award winning television writer, sports announcer and blogger Ken Levine has observed that, "...the next time we see Angus on television will probably be on an "E! True Hollywood Stories" episode or "Celebrity Fit Club."

Angus' Mom is deeply worried about her son's newfound devotion to this organization.

And here is where The Blog has some information that no one else has mentioned.

For all of his mother's hand wringing, she is culpable.

Angus spent his elementary school days, the days of the early seasons of "Two and a Half Men," when he wasn't on set, attending a private school attached to a fundamentalist "Christian" church.

The Blog knows this because one of his teachers at that school is an old college friend of The Blog.
She was fired from the school when she admitted that she had read the Harry Potter novels and thought that they were really nice stories.

Yeah. THAT kind of fundamentalist school!

So, you see, young Angus was well primed to wind up going all Kirk Cameron.

I will say this...

Angus must be one heck of an actor.

In spite of the "filth" that he now derides, he didn't appear to have any problem, this season, when Miley Cyrus was jumping his bones.

My biggest worry is that he may have already turned his $350,000 per episode over to his newfound "church."

But, it happens in Hollywood.

Tom Cruise, John Travolta, Nancy Cartwright and others have all been there.

That's Hollywood.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Billionaires, Bakers, Bankruptcy and Backpedalling (Part One)

In response to the criticisms by The Blog, and others on Facebook, of Papa John's Pizza CEO John Schnatter's claim that he, a multimillionaire, can't afford the 14¢ per pizza cost that The Affordable Care Act would inflict on his personal profit margin will force him to cut employee hours and increase costs to his customers, a lovely young lady, who is not just a friend of The Blog, but damned near family of The Blog, who is predisposed to lean to the right, posted the following question...

She continued....

I thought that her central question was an excellent one. So excellent, in fact, that I asked her permission to allow me to use it as the basis of a blog post, here.

***** Two weeks have passed since The Blog pecked out the above.*****

When the old PC set out to write this post, he wanted to give a well thought out response. Research was done. Sources were found. Graphics were collected.

Thanksgiving week arrived and The Blog went off-line to spend time with his family.

But the world does not rest. Not even over a holiday week. And, Holy Crap! did things get weird last week! So much so that, what I thought would be a pretty straightforward post suddenly developed more twists than an Ira Levin play.


So, in the interest of keeping this post from becoming completely unruly, I'm going to try to break it down into two or three parts to be posted over the next couple of evenings.

Tonight, I will try to address the basics of her question. In later posts I will discuss some of the stories of interest that have come to light over the past few weeks. Especially last week.

So, here we go....

Why are people so bitterly outspoken about CEO's and Founders?
Because, 40 years ago, the average CEO made eight times more than his/her average employee. Around 1980, that began to change. CEO salaries climbed while employee wages began to stagnate. Today, CEO compensation is nearly 300 times higher than employee's wages, while those wages have flat-lined in that time. 40 years ago, CEOs and founders still had their mansions, household staffs, expensive cars and such. But, they also treated their employees as valuable assets to their companies, rather than as expendable cogs in their profit machines. Or worse, as thieves, stealing from their "rightful" profits.

The Blog once, personally, witnessed a $40 million a year CEO berate a $20 thousand a year employee for walking on his $80 thousand turkish rug with his shoes on. A bit of a disconnect, no?

And, by the way, those employees pay about 27% in income tax on their wages while their employers use loopholes to pay about 12%. 

It's not like they just woke up one day and inherited all of that prosperity.
Well, sometimes no. But, very often, yes, they did inherit that wealth.

Inherited wealth is far more common than "Horatio Alger" style, success from nothing wealth.

I have observed, over the years, that those rare few who built their success from scratch are more likely to have empathy for their employees than those who inherited their wealth.

Not always. But, generally speaking.

Consider Howard Schultz, CEO of Starbucks, who rose out of "the projects" and has, personally, seen to it that his employees are paid a living wage and receive medical benefits, as opposed to the Walton siblings, who inherited their Wal-Mart fortune from their father (who must be spinning in his grave.) They didn't "work their way to the top." They were born there. And it shows.

(More about the Waltons in tomorrows post.)

Do you really care about their beliefs... on certain issues.
 Yeah. Actually. I do.

It is a sad fact that it is virtually impossible, in today's world, to not do business with people whose business policies are contrary to my beliefs. But, given the choice, I will do business with a company that does right by it's employees and customers over one that does not. Even if I have to pay a few cents more for the product. 

Quality is the only thing that matters to me. 
The truth is that quality is lacking in much of today's corporate climate. Quality is certainly not something that you will get from "Papa John."

My invitation stands. Come visit me sometime and I will buy you a quality pizza made by actual Italians in a hole-in-the-wall pizzeria.

You will never eat a Poppa John's pizza again! 
Success breeds jealousy.
Mitt Romney called this "the politics of envy." And, it is an exquisite pile of steaming bullshit.

The Blog can't speak for others. But, I don't begrudge the successful the spoils of their success. I just want them to recognize that they didn't succeed without the help of us "little people."

It's a matter of basic ethics and, dare I say it, morality.

More tomorrow night...

Monday, November 26, 2012

Sorry For the Delay...

The Blog is still jet lagged and scrambling to catch up on some "real world" business that has to be done. And it looks like the "catch up" post is going to be an epic that will have to wait until he can get it finished.

Until then, here is a little something to tide you over....

This past week, The BlogDad (that would be, The Blog's Dad) recounted a story that The Blog had never heard before.

The Rev. R. Buffett was not just the associate pastor of the church that The Young Blog was brought up in, for a number of years. He and his family were dear friends of the family. In fact, as a young blogling, The PC baby-sat their kids on a number of occasions.

In the late 1970s, the Buffett family left the church and the town and moved to Madison, WI (where, according to Bill O'Reily, "... they worship Satan.") mostly so that R. and his wife could study law and ethics at U of W. (But, The Blog suspects, partly because they got tired of the racist epithets hurled at them whenever they took their adopted, African-American, infant daughter out in public.)

A brief digression...

The Blog's home town is a paradox. Proud of the fact that one of the big houses on the shore of Lake Erie has a secret sub-basement that was the last stop before Canada on "The Underground Railroad." Not so proud, but a fact none the less, of the fact that the city is home to an active John Birch Society and the KKK.

End digression.

When The Blog's family went to Wisconsin, R. mentioned the help they got from his wealthy, investment guru cousin.

"You didn't think..." he asked, "...that we could afford a nice house like this on an associate pastor's salary, did you?"

Yep! The Blog never made the connection. But, the Rev. Buffett's cousin was none other than Warren Buffett.

Apropos of that...

Here is the latest news story about Warren Buffett's comments.

The Blog is Back!

The Blog has returned from his visit to "Real America" and is back in his beloved "People's Republic of Southern California." And, Holy Shit! a lot had happened since he was gone!

J.R. is dead, Twinkies are in limbo, CEOs are walking back their anti-Obamacare rhetoric and a Walton sibling is standing in solidarity with striking Wal-Mart workers.

And your Uncle PC has a whole lot to say about all of that.

But tonight, The Blog is suffering from jet lag and a food hangover.

So, nothing more until tomorrow.

See you then!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving!

The Blog will be taking the next week off from posting. He will be in a part of the "Real America" where internet access is limited to his 3G iPhone capabilities.

Take the week to enjoy your turkey, mashed potatoes, candied yams, green beans with mushroom soup and French's onions, and some sort of mix of cottage cheese, carrots and green Jello, just as The Blog will be doing.

And, while you are doing so, give thanks to the Native Americans who welcomed a bunch of illegal immigrants from Holland and England to their homes.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

A Passing Thought

General David Petraeus, Director of the CIA, (I mean... former Director of the CIA,) has called his extramarital affair a matter of "poor judgement."

And, The Blog is thinking... No. A matter of poor judgment is an action that begins with the words, "Hold my beer and watch this!" or ends with a tattoo.

A career ending, marriage shattering, security breeching affair goes way beyond the definition of "poor judgement."

Just saying.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

GOP "Fantasyland"

The Blog is feeling tired and lazy tonight.

So, instead of one of my semi-coherent rants, allow me to redirect you to a post by New York Magazine's Frank Rich.

Succinct and to the point.

The Blog is going to bed.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

A Cautious Sigh of Relief

So, Obama has won a second term. Becoming the first half black president to serve a second term.

Romney conceded after an hour and a half of keeping us on the edge of our seats.

                                                             "I see you shiver with antici............... pation!"

The POTUS is giving his victory speech as I am writing this.

The Blog gathers that Congress will still, pretty much look the same. So, unless the president knocks off the "reaching across the aisle" shit and starts kicking some ass, we can probably count on another four years of obstructionist gridlock from The House. We will know the final numbers on that tomorrow.

In the two hours since the election was called, we have already heard Karl Rove and Donald Trump whine like little bitches. We can count of more of that in the ensuing days.

Here is a brief look back at the past 18 hours or so...

On my way to work this morning, I passed my polling place and saw a line around the building a full hour and a half before the polls opened.

When I went to vote at 2:30 PM, the line was still out the door.

The Blog has been voting in presidential elections since the first time Ronald Reagan ran. The Blog has never had to wait for any length of time to vote. Not even in 2008.

Today's turnout was like nothing I have ever seen.

The Blog would like to thank his mother state, Ohio, for stepping up and voting for their best interests.

Finally, as your Uncle PC was driving to his voting place this afternoon, he found himself behind the last, wild eyed optimist in America.

                                                           The Blog thinks that Libertarians are so adorable!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Ben Stein and Healthcare

The above graphic was on The Blog's Facebook newsfeed today.

Here is The Blog's response...

I know Ben. I like Ben. Ben is pretty much always the smartest guy in the room.

And yet... He sometimes says things that make me scratch my head.

I have visited many modern, industrialized countries all over the world.

In two of those countries (England and France) I have received medical treatment. In both countries, I was not asked for payment. I was not asked for insurance. I was not asked to prove my citizenship. They knew that I was a visitor.

They gave me treatment because that is how their systems are set up. Citizens and visitors alike get prompt, decent medical treatment. Because it is the right thing to do.

I'm not clinging to party line (as the original poster suggests.)

I am stating the facts as I have experienced them, first hand.

Isn't it high time that America, "The Greatest Country in the World" catches up?