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Author Topic: gangster capitalism
otter
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posted 08 July 2006 02:29 PM      Profile for otter        Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Canadian Dimensions magazine was the first that i heard of this book. While there are some aspects of it that are questionable according to critics it is still a very interesting perspective on the profit takes in the U.S. of A. A perspective that could be expanded to include just about every major nation on the planet.

amazon.com

Also supported by Linda McQauid an itnerview

Russia and China also cited and more

Confessions by U.S.Major General Smedley Butler
here


From: agent provocateur inc. | Registered: Feb 2006  |  IP: Logged
Fidel
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posted 08 July 2006 04:42 PM      Profile for Fidel     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Thanks Otter. There are some very good insights into gangster capitalism and globalism described by your sources. Essentially, capitalism needs a handful of super-wealthy people to invest in the economy and be the ruling class. Sounds a lot like imperialism and colonialism to me. So the IMF and World Banks have gone about creating an "investor class" around the world.

I remember reading something cute about the establishment throughout history. It went something like, vagabonds and cutthroats roamed the countryside looking to plunder and pillage. In various places, they seized power and declared themselves blue bloods, nobility and royalty. I think our billionaire class in the west have achieved more wealth concentration and political power than European royalty could ever hope for.


Capitalism and "globalization" are essentially the same-old attempts by oligarchs to get rich and insulate themselves from the very thing these same crooks and liars preach to the rest of us about free markets. From imperialist China to enclosure era England, oppressive laws were passed that favoured wealth and power over the human rights of hundreds of millions of human beings for centuries afterward. The laws were utterly silly and would have no basis in intellectual justification today. But there they go with lying their heads off to us about FTA and NAFTA as being all about trade when they are about much more than that.


quote:
Q: You talk a lot about the role of greed in our society. But aren't you being idealistic, expecting anything different? Isn't that just human nature?

Linda McQuaig says: Greed and material acquisitivenss are certainly part of human nature. But our society has made greed and material acquisitiveness its central organizing principles. That's what capitalism, and particularly the "new capitalism" is all about. This seems utterly natural to us, because we're so used to it. But there's really nothing natural or inevitable about it.

Through most of human history and in just about every part of the world, greed and material acquisitiveness were not the central activities of society. They were considered less important than other things such as family, religion, clan, community, tradition. As the economic historian Karl Polanyi has shown, it is only in western capitalist societies, in the last few centuries, that greed and the pursuit of material gain have been given almost free rein, have been encouraged, massaged and even considered the very essence of the human personality. Polanyi argued that this wasn't some natural evolution, based on human nature, but rather was a deliberately imposed redesign of society, carried out by a small but powerful elite in order to enhance its own interests.

I would add that it is only in the last decade or so that we've pushed things an amazing step further by providing greed and material acquisitiveness - on the part of corporate interests - with special protections in international law.


Laissez-faire capitalism is an abomination of human nature, and they are trying to resucitate it from the grave in a 1930's era Wall/Bay Street morgue with lightening bolts at midnight. They're really quite mad.

[ 08 July 2006: Message edited by: Fidel ]


From: Viva La Revolución | Registered: Apr 2004  |  IP: Logged
otter
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posted 10 July 2006 10:24 AM      Profile for otter        Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
bump
From: agent provocateur inc. | Registered: Feb 2006  |  IP: Logged
jeff house
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posted 10 July 2006 10:34 AM      Profile for jeff house     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
One of the best things I have read recently is Harper's magazine article this month on Walmart.
It isn't on line, sorry.

There, they discuss the way in which Walmart uses its retail power to crush its own suppliers.

For example: one of every 5 dollars spent on retail items in the United States is spent at Walmart.

Therefore, their refusal to stock a product is ruinous to sales.

If they do stock your product, they will demand it at a very low price, far lower than anyone else. Their pressure on prices is so fierce that four out of their ten top suppliers have applied for bankruptcy protection.

They have a number of other sleazy tricks to cut off access to the market to those who won't do business with them. Read the article!


From: toronto | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
M. Spector
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posted 10 July 2006 09:48 PM      Profile for M. Spector   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Or check out the Frontline website and watch their Wal-Mart documentary online.
From: One millihelen: The amount of beauty required to launch one ship. | Registered: Feb 2005  |  IP: Logged
Sven
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posted 10 July 2006 09:58 PM      Profile for Sven     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by jeff house:
One of the best things I have read recently is Harper's magazine article this month on Walmart.
It isn't on line, sorry.

There, they discuss the way in which Walmart uses its retail power to crush its own suppliers.

For example: one of every 5 dollars spent on retail items in the United States is spent at Walmart.

Therefore, their refusal to stock a product is ruinous to sales.

If they do stock your product, they will demand it at a very low price, far lower than anyone else. Their pressure on prices is so fierce that four out of their ten top suppliers have applied for bankruptcy protection.

They have a number of other sleazy tricks to cut off access to the market to those who won't do business with them. Read the article!


As a supplier to Wal-Mart, our company has dealt with Wal-Mart's tough negotiations (I flew down to Bentonville myself about two years ago to negotiate a multi-million dollar contract with Wal-Mart). They were very tough but fair. I've dealt with companies that are far, far worse to deal with than Wal-Mart. If we have a contract with Wal-Mart, they live up to it. In contrast, I've dealt with a few companies that just ignore what they've committed to and who basically say, "Fuck you" if you complain about it (even then, those companies are a pretty rare exception).

Do you guys have Target stores in Canada (they are second to Wal-Mart in the big-box discount stores here in the USA)? They are much worse to deal with from a supplier perspective.


From: Eleutherophobics of the World...Unite!!!!! | Registered: Jul 2005  |  IP: Logged
N.Beltov
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posted 10 July 2006 10:06 PM      Profile for N.Beltov   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
The predatory business practices of Wal-Mart described by Jeff House could easily, according to some observers, also be used to describe some of the practices by Loblaw's here in Canada. Example: Supplier X is contracted for all, or most, of their top quality widgit at a certain price. They expand production and make a capital investment in order to do so. Then the business predator "renegotiates" the contract as follows: a substantially reduced price for the top quality widgit is offered as a "take it or leave it" proposal. And the little company is gradually absorbed into the Borg as the capital investment becomes an albatross around its little neck. The end.
From: Vancouver Island | Registered: May 2003  |  IP: Logged
Sven
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posted 10 July 2006 10:30 PM      Profile for Sven     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by N.Beltov:
The predatory business practices of Wal-Mart described by Jeff House could easily, according to some observers, also be used to describe some of the practices by Loblaw's here in Canada. Example: Supplier X is contracted for all, or most, of their top quality widgit at a certain price. They expand production and make a capital investment in order to do so. Then the business predator "renegotiates" the contract as follows: a substantially reduced price for the top quality widgit is offered as a "take it or leave it" proposal. And the little company is gradually absorbed into the Borg as the capital investment becomes an albatross around its little neck. The end.

It doesn't quite work that way. If the business "predator" contracted to purchase X number of widgets for $Y per widgit, the business "predator" can't unilaterally "renegotiate" the price.

We deal with companies all the time from which we purchase products. If those companies are going to make a significant capital expenditure in plant and equipment in order to supply us with a particular product, you can be damned sure they aren't going to do that without a purchase commitment from us!!

Would you invest $1 million in a plant expansion to produce a product for Wal-Mart with no guarantee that Wal-Mart will purchase a single widgit from you? No. And intelligently-run businesses won't either.


From: Eleutherophobics of the World...Unite!!!!! | Registered: Jul 2005  |  IP: Logged
Fidel
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posted 11 July 2006 10:02 AM      Profile for Fidel     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Wal-Mart has been prosecuted several times for predatory pricing behavior, which is defined as the practice of temporarily lowering prices in order to drive competitors out of business so that prices may be raised afterwards in a competition-free environment (a monopoly).

In the United States, Wal-Mart has faced several accusations of predatory pricing but there has been no successful federal or state actions to sanction Wal-Mart:

In 1995, Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. v. American Drugs, Inc., et al., in which the plaintiffs "…contended that Wal-Mart was selling individual items below cost for the purpose of injuring competitors and destroying competition…" The lower court ruled in favor of the plaintiffs, but the Supreme Court of Arkansas ruled in 1995 that Wal-Mart's pricing strategies, including the use of loss leaders, did not constitute predatory pricing.[24]
In 2000, the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection accused Wal-Mart of selling butter, milk, laundry detergent, and other staple goods below cost. The case was settled in 2001 with no fine and no admission of wrongdoing.[25]
In 2000, Crest Foods in Oklahoma accused Wal-Mart of predatory pricing designed to ruin Crest. Both parties later agreed to dismiss the lawsuit suggesting a settlement had been reached.[26]
Internationally, Wal-Mart has had mixed results:

In 2003, Mexico's antitrust agency, the Federal Competition Commission, concluded an investigation into Wal-Mart for "monopolistic practices." The agency found that Wal-Mart did not violate any Mexican anti-competition laws.[27]
In 2003, the German High Court ruled that "Wal-Mart's below-cost pricing strategy undermines competition and violates the country's antitrust laws."


It sounds to me, Sven, that Wal-Mart are key participants to un-American activities.

[ 11 July 2006: Message edited by: Fidel ]


From: Viva La Revolución | Registered: Apr 2004  |  IP: Logged
N.Beltov
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posted 11 July 2006 10:17 AM      Profile for N.Beltov   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Sven: It doesn't quite work that way. If the business "predator" contracted to purchase X number of widgets for $Y per widgit, the business "predator" can't unilaterally "renegotiate" the price.

C'mon. They just wait until the contract expires and do the renegotiating then. It's not rocket science. But the substantial investment has been made and our little company is faced with the prospect of (a) "agreeing" to the new, reduced price for their widgit; or (b) trying to find a range of customers to match the sheer volume that was sold to the one customer [in this case, Loblaws or maybe Wal-Mart]; or (c) fold up and die or be absorbed by the business Borg.


From: Vancouver Island | Registered: May 2003  |  IP: Logged
otter
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posted 11 July 2006 12:10 PM      Profile for otter        Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
So, it sounds like instead of breaking kneecaps Walmart simply breaks small businesses, but the crippling effect is still felt by all concerned.
From: agent provocateur inc. | Registered: Feb 2006  |  IP: Logged
jeff house
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posted 11 July 2006 01:51 PM      Profile for jeff house     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
The predatory business practices of Wal-Mart described by Jeff House could easily, according to some observers, also be used to describe some of the practices by Loblaw's here in Canada.

But Walmart accounts for 20% of ALL RETAIL SALES in the US.

I don't doubt that farmers get screwed by the big chain stores. My sense from the Harper's article is that their market power is both broader, and deeper than other chains have achieved.

Still, it is an empirical question which could be answered by someone more knowledgable.


From: toronto | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
N.Beltov
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posted 11 July 2006 01:59 PM      Profile for N.Beltov   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Yea, I'm sure you're right about that. I was just sharing a little inside knowledge with my widgit story.
From: Vancouver Island | Registered: May 2003  |  IP: Logged
Sven
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posted 11 July 2006 02:24 PM      Profile for Sven     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by N.Beltov:
C'mon. They just wait until the contract expires and do the renegotiating then. It's not rocket science. But the substantial investment has been made and our little company is faced with the prospect of (a) "agreeing" to the new, reduced price for their widgit; or (b) trying to find a range of customers to match the sheer volume that was sold to the one customer [in this case, Loblaws or maybe Wal-Mart]; or (c) fold up and die or be absorbed by the business Borg.

Huh. I didn’t know that you had so much experience with this.

I’ve seen many contracts that require a significant capital investment and, normally, the cost is the investment is amortized over the life of the contract and the minimum purchase obligation of the buyer.

I remember a contract that was going to require a $14 million investment in tools and molds. The per unit price of the product was grossed up to account for that such that after a certain threshold of product purchases had been achieved, the per unit price would drop. If the contract was terminated prior to the threshold being met, the buyer had to pay for the pro rata portion of the unamortized $14 million. But, either way, the capital investment was recouped. This is not uncommon.

Besides, if you go into a Wal-Mart you’ll notice the dominance of national, name-brand products. Those are not your wee “little companies” subject to the big bad bully Wal-Mart. They are big boys and girls how can make intelligent business decisions. If a smaller company does business with Wal-Mart and doesn’t take certain fundamental steps to protect itself (making sure the contract provides for minimums to cover capital investment, for example), Wal-Mart’s not going to do the work for them and tell them what they’re doing wrong. But, that’s not Wal-Mart’s fault.

Now, the benefit of all of this is to the consumers (who have saved tens of billions of dollars in lower-cost products). And, that’s why the Wal-Mart store parking lots are generally jammed with shoppers.


From: Eleutherophobics of the World...Unite!!!!! | Registered: Jul 2005  |  IP: Logged
jeff house
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posted 11 July 2006 02:51 PM      Profile for jeff house     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Besides, if you go into a Wal-Mart you’ll notice the dominance of national, name-brand products. Those are not your wee “little companies” subject to the big bad bully Wal-Mart.

Gee, I can tell you haven't read the Harper's article.

There, the author gives examples of Walmart's market power causing grave difficulties for companies such as Proctor and Gamble, with sales in the billions.

They also give an example of how Walmart forced Coca Cola to re-engineer a diet soft drink to make it acceptable to Walmart.


From: toronto | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
otter
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posted 11 July 2006 02:53 PM      Profile for otter        Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
check out this 'big box mart' animation, but you have to endure a commercial first.
jibjab

From: agent provocateur inc. | Registered: Feb 2006  |  IP: Logged
Fidel
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posted 11 July 2006 02:58 PM      Profile for Fidel     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Yes, it all means, "Get big or be swallowed by big fish." There is competition in the beginning until there is only one barracuda left in the aquarium. I don't think anyone has a problem with competition in the market place. When it becomes a problem is when there isn't any competition left because Walmart has become the largest private sector employer in your home town paying low wages. That's a captive labour force who would love for there to be an alternate place to work paying full benefits and living wages. Walmart pits poor people against poorer people in this race to the bottom while the profits trickle-up. It's colonialism made new again.
From: Viva La Revolución | Registered: Apr 2004  |  IP: Logged
Sven
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posted 11 July 2006 04:12 PM      Profile for Sven     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by jeff house:
Gee, I can tell you haven't read the Harper's article.

Did you say that the Harper's article is not online? Is it in the bookstores now?


From: Eleutherophobics of the World...Unite!!!!! | Registered: Jul 2005  |  IP: Logged
Sven
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posted 11 July 2006 04:26 PM      Profile for Sven     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
One thing to keep in mind is that the owners of Wal-Mart (i.e., the shareholders), presumably the ones enjoying all of the limitless profits that many people seem to think Wal-Mart reaps, have actually had their investment shrink by 6% over the last five years. In contrast, the average value of all stocks in the Dow Jones Industrial Average have increased by about 12.4% (the value of the stock of the company that I work for has increased by just over 100% over the same period of time).

So, obviously, Wal-Mart is not immune to the pressures of competition.

By the way, with regard to the earlier post above regarding illegal predatory pricing, if Wal-Mart has engaged in such conduct, then it should suffer the consequences provided by law.


From: Eleutherophobics of the World...Unite!!!!! | Registered: Jul 2005  |  IP: Logged
Stephen Gordon
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posted 11 July 2006 04:28 PM      Profile for Stephen Gordon        Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Why is this a bad thing? Wal-Mart's clientele is generally comprised of lower-income households; they benefit from low prices:

quote:
There is little dispute that Wal-Mart’s price reductions have benefited the 120 million American workers employed outside of the retail sector. Plausible estimates of the magnitude of the savings from Wal-Mart are enormous – a total of $263 billion in 2004, or $2,329 per household. Even if you grant that Wal-Mart hurts workers in the retail sector – and the evidence for this is far from clear – the magnitude of any potential harm is small in comparison. One study, for example, found that the “Wal-Mart effect” lowered retail wages by $4.7 billion in 2000.

quote:
The most careful economic estimate of the benefits of lower prices and the increased variety of retail establishments is in a paper by MIT economist Jerry Hausman and Ephraim Leibtag (neither researcher received support from Wal-Mart). They estimated that the direct benefit of lower prices at superstores, mass merchandisers and club stores (including but not limited to Wal-Mart) made consumers better off by the equivalent of 20.2 percent of food spending. In addition, the indirect benefit of lower prices at competing supermarkets was worth another 4.8 percent of income. In total, the existence of big box stores makes consumers better off by the equivalent of 25 percent of annual food spending. That is the equivalent of an additional $782 per household in 2003.

Because moderate-income families spend a higher percentage of their incomes on food than upper-income families, these benefits are distributed very progressively. As shown in Table 1, the benefits from big box grocery stores are equivalent to a 6.5 percent increase in income for the bottom quintile (average income of $8,201) and a 0.9 percent increase in income for the top quintile (average income $127,146).


From Jason Furman's Wal-Mart: A Progressive Success Story (16-page pdf file)

[ 11 July 2006: Message edited by: Stephen Gordon ]


From: . | Registered: Oct 2003  |  IP: Logged
Fidel
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posted 11 July 2006 04:55 PM      Profile for Fidel     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Stephen Gordon:
Why is this a bad thing? Wal-Mart's clientele is generally comprised of lower-income households; they benefit from low prices:

Stephen, according to a study done by private consulting firm, Global Insight and the Washington-based EPI, it's a false choice between prices and wages. It's not household goods and food prices eating away at low incomes in the states but rather the things that can't be bought at Walmart.

And with 50 percent higher profit margins for Walmart than its closest competitor, Walmart can afford to pay its workers $2000USD/yr more without raising its overall prices by even a penny.

I think working poor in the U.S. either need higher wages and unions, or socialized medicine, national daycare and affordable housing. The Yanks can way afford that too in aiding big car companies to get back on top. It's said that GM and Ford can compete with Toyota, but not with Japan.


From: Viva La Revolución | Registered: Apr 2004  |  IP: Logged
Sven
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posted 11 July 2006 05:09 PM      Profile for Sven     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Fidel:
And with 50 percent higher profit margins for Walmart than its closest competitor, Walmart can afford to pay its workers $2000USD/yr more without raising its overall prices by even a penny.

I'm not sure what you're smokin', Fidel, but I want some of it!


From: Eleutherophobics of the World...Unite!!!!! | Registered: Jul 2005  |  IP: Logged
Stephen Gordon
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posted 11 July 2006 05:15 PM      Profile for Stephen Gordon        Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Fidel, your point is addressed on pp 13-15 of that paper I cited.
From: . | Registered: Oct 2003  |  IP: Logged
jeff house
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posted 11 July 2006 05:40 PM      Profile for jeff house     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Gee, I hope that study isn't typical of research in economics.

To me, it reads like a puff piece. Too bad I can't reproduce sections of it here, due to some failure of my "copy" function.

It does, however, treat research funded by Walmart itself as worthy of consideration, (though it says it should be treated "cautiously".

I'll say.

More importantly, I didn't read anything about market domination in that article. It basically claimed that Walmart's low prices are good for consumers, and its workers are not paid too terribly. (It says that they can't aspire to an adequate living, either).

But if the main benefit is low prices, and that is caused by market domination and ability to squeeze its suppliers, then you'd expect low prices to be part of the strategy.

And you'd expect democrats and progressive people to decry the concentration of economic and political power in too few hands.

Wouldn't you?


From: toronto | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
Stephen Gordon
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posted 11 July 2006 06:09 PM      Profile for Stephen Gordon        Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I don't give points for style; I'm rather more concerned with the effects on the welfare of low-income families. If you want, think of Wal-Mart as acting as a giant consumers co-op would: using its market power to get the best deal for its members - who are largely taken from the lower end of the income distribution. I don't really have much problem with empowering low-income consumers.

Not all the evidence comes from research financed by Wal-Mart; Jerry Hausman is one of the best applied econometricians in the world, and he (and a co-author) are the source for Table 1.

I would certainly agree that there are things that we can do to improve the welfare of those who work at Wal-Mart. (The article mentions some, but in a US context). But these should involve direct support to low-income households, and not reducing the massive benefits that Wal-Mart's lower prices generate.

[ 11 July 2006: Message edited by: Stephen Gordon ]


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jeff house
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posted 11 July 2006 06:35 PM      Profile for jeff house     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
If you want, think of Wal-Mart as acting as a giant consumers co-op would: using its market power to get the best deal for its members - who are largely taken from the lower end of the income distribution. I don't really have much problem with empowering low-income consumers.

That'd be one GIANT co-op.

In the case of Walmart, 4 of its top 10 suppliers have filed for bankruptcy protection. I guess the workers in those places might disagree about all the "empowerment of low income consumers" that is going on.

Then again, the naive might think that Walmart would be obligated always to charge low prices. But once they become essentially the only retailer in large parts of the country, will they really continue to do that? Those who write apologetics for Walmart must have their fingers crossed.


From: toronto | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
Stephen Gordon
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posted 11 July 2006 06:48 PM      Profile for Stephen Gordon        Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Retail is an industry with very low entry costs. If Wal-Mart decided to use what it believed to be its market power and raise prices, it would find itself quickly outflanked by any number of competitors.

And Jeff, I can't understand why you can't acknowledge the main point here: Wal-Mart's low prices help consumers, and low-income consumers in particular. That's a good thing, isn't it?


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bittersweet
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posted 11 July 2006 09:21 PM      Profile for bittersweet     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
A biased site for information on Walmart is Walmart Watch.

They link to various reports. Here's one called "Everyday Low Wages: The Hidden Price We All Pay for Wal-Mart", a report by the Democratic Staff of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, February 16, 2004.

quote:
In analyzing Wal-Mart's success in holding employee compensation at low levels, the report assesses the costs to US taxpayers of employees who are so badly paid that they qualify for government assistance even under the less than generous rules of the federal welfare system. For a two-hundred-employee Wal-Mart store, the government is spending $108,000 a year for children's health care; $125,000 a year in tax credits and deductions for low-income families; and $42,000 a year in housing assistance. The report estimates that a two-hundred-employee Wal-Mart store costs federal taxpayers $420,000 a year, or about $2,103 per Wal-Mart employee. That translates into a total annual welfare bill of $2.5 billion for Wal-Mart's 1.2 million US employees.

Wal-Mart is also a burden on state governments. According to a study by the Institute for Labor and Employment at the University of California, Berkeley, in 2003 California taxpayers subsidized $20.5 million worth of medical care for Wal-Mart employees. In Georgia ten thousand children of Wal-Mart employees were enrolled in the state's program for needy children in 2003, with one in four Wal-Mart employees having a child in the program.[9]


...snip...
quote:
One of the ways to win this particular fight is to make sure that the growth of labor's productivity well exceeds the growth of its wages and benefits... When the productivity of labor rises and its compensation stagnates, then, other things being equal, the cost of labor per unit of output will fall and profit margins will rise. Wal-Mart has carried this strategy to extremes. While its workforce has one of the best productivity records of any US corporation, it has kept the compensation of its rank-and-file workers at or barely above the poverty line. As of last spring, the average pay of a sales clerk at Wal-Mart was $8.50 an hour, or about $14,000 a year, $1,000 below the government's definition of the poverty level for a family of three.[4] Despite the implied claims of Wal-Mart's current TV advertising campaign, fewer than half— between 41 and 46 percent—of Wal-Mart employees can afford even the least-expensive health care benefits offered by the company.
snip...
quote:
...when deciding how many workers to employ, Wal-Mart management relies on a formula guaranteeing that the growth of the labor budget will lag behind the growth in store sales, so that every year there will be more work for each employee to do… Each year Wal-Mart provides its store managers with a "preferred budget" for employment, which would allow managers to staff their stores at adequate levels. But the actual budget imposed on the store managers always falls short of the preferred budget, so that most Wal-Mart stores are permanently understaffed. The gap between the preferred and actual budgets gives store managers an idea of how much extra work they must try to extract from their workforce… The harshness of the working conditions at Wal-Mart helps to account for the exceptionally high employee turnover at the company. Some 50 percent of Wal-Mart workers employed at the beginning of 2003 had left the company by the end of the year.
...snip...
quote:
Wal-Mart has also set off a particularly destructive form of competition among corporations, which seek competitive advantage by pushing down the wages and benefits of employees. A clear example of this has been the conflict provoked by Wal-Mart's decision in 2002 to enter the southern California grocery market with forty of its "supercenters"—where the shopper can buy everything from tomatoes to deck furniture and spare tires. Although Wal-Mart has not yet opened any of these new stores, the response of California supermarkets, led by Safeway, has been to demand cuts in their employees' wages and benefits, with the cuts falling heavily on newly hired workers. This posed a serious threat to the supermarket employees, 70,000 of whom are members of the Union of Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) and have benefited from its bargaining with employers. While a sales clerk at Wal-Mart earns only $8.50 an hour, a worker holding a similar job at Safeway or Albertson could earn $13 an hour along with full health care benefits.[11] For employees that could make the difference between minimal financial security and a life spent scraping by on the poverty line.

From: land of the midnight lotus | Registered: Apr 2002  |  IP: Logged
Fidel
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posted 11 July 2006 10:48 PM      Profile for Fidel     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Stephen Gordon:
Fidel, your point is addressed on pp 13-15 of that paper I cited.

Stephen, I see some humming and harring to justify why COSTCO workers are paid more than Walmart workers.

quote:
Some have pointed to Costco (which has higher wages and more generous benefits), arguing that if Wal-Mart were more generous with its employees it would do better at attracting, motivating, and retaining them, increasing its total profits. I have no ability to judge whether or not this is true, although given the choice I would trust Wal-Mart to know more about maximizing profits and shareholder value than its critics.

And then it rambles on somewhere beyond that describing how COSTCO customers make more money than the average Walmart shopper, and that COSTCO customers are more sophisticated and expect high end service from workers who, I guess, will tend to be more refined, like the toffey-nosed middle class slobs who shop there and are therefore more deserving of the better pay. I tend not to see that as justification for paying lower wages and an admital of contempt for their own workers.

I've been in a COSTCO outlet, and there weren't very many "more skilled and experienced" workers in sight when I wanted to enquire about their merchandise. It's like Zellers - they all scatter when you need somebody.

And Sven, it's not me who said Walmart can afford to pay its workers higher wages - it was Global Insight, a private consulting firm, and the Economic Policy Institute in Warshington. How many jobs in N. America are lost when Walmart encourages its suppliers to move to low wage zones in Asia?.


quote:
Mar 2, 2006

Wal-Mart Increases Annual Dividend by Over 11 Percent Based upon this announced increase, the Company plans to return more than $2.7 billion to its shareholders in the form of dividends this fiscal year.


Walmart stock has split at least twice since 1999 by what I've just read. Dividends to shareholders have improved every year since 1974.

[ 11 July 2006: Message edited by: Fidel ]


From: Viva La Revolución | Registered: Apr 2004  |  IP: Logged
Fidel
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posted 11 July 2006 11:56 PM      Profile for Fidel     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
The Jason Furman piece does say this at the last.

quote:

Finally, most fundamentally, the “Wal-Mart economy” is not about an economy in which
corporations are squeezing workers. It’s about an economy in which the return to skills is rapidly growing, and technological change, among other forces, is leading to increased inequality. The most fundamental solution to these challenges is to invest in the education and training necessary to ensure that all Americans have the skills to be successful in a technologically sophisticated, global economy.

Stephen, at what point do governments of the developed world finally admit that a grade twelve diploma doesn't have the bargaining power in the workforce that it used to ?. Where is the incentive to get an education for children of the working poor who will face a quarter century of student loan debt sentence on average?.


From: Viva La Revolución | Registered: Apr 2004  |  IP: Logged
otter
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posted 12 July 2006 10:54 AM      Profile for otter        Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Let's not get lost in the walmart aisles folks. Gangster capitalism is everywhere in Western societies and, if you read some of the freedom fighters manifestos out there you might well find a very good reason behind why some folks just want to explode with rage at these coporate practices.
From: agent provocateur inc. | Registered: Feb 2006  |  IP: Logged
otter
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posted 12 July 2006 10:54 AM      Profile for otter        Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Let's not get lost in the walmart aisles folks. Gangster capitalism is everywhere in Western societies and, if you read some of the freedom fighters manifestos out there you might well find a very good reason behind why some folks just want to explode with rage at these coporate practices.
From: agent provocateur inc. | Registered: Feb 2006  |  IP: Logged
Sven
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posted 12 July 2006 11:22 AM      Profile for Sven     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Fidel:
Stephen, at what point do governments of the developed world finally admit that a grade twelve diploma doesn't have the bargaining power in the workforce that it used to ?. Where is the incentive to get an education for children of the working poor who will face a quarter century of student loan debt sentence on average?.

Getting an education, even if you pay for it yourself, it still about the best investment a person can make. My sweetie, the daughter of a janitor with an eighth grade education (with a stay-at-home wife and five other children) would definitely fall into the “working poor” category. Did that prevent her from getting a college degree and then a law degree? No. She worked her ass off. Normally, most law students, for example, go to school full time for three years (with maybe a few hours of clerking a month in the second and third years). She worked a full-time job (about 45-50 hour weeks) and did nearly a full load at law school (graduated in 3.5 years). Was it a grind? Of course. Was it worth it? Absolutely.

A young 19 year old woman that we know had a baby before she was 16, was kicked out of the house by her parents (yeah, real loving, caring parents) and she gets no support from the father. She went to cosmetology school and is a manicurist/pedicurist. She happily says that she relies on no government help and “bought my new car with my own money”. She’s a very hard worker and she benefited from trade school, despite the significant disadvantages she started with.

I simply don’t believe that, for the vast, vast majority of people, if a person wants an education that they will be prevented from getting one if they come from a “working poor” family.


From: Eleutherophobics of the World...Unite!!!!! | Registered: Jul 2005  |  IP: Logged
Fidel
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posted 12 July 2006 12:17 PM      Profile for Fidel     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
When did your sweetie get her college degree, Sven?.

I graduated in 1996 after about seven years of personal financial hardship. And I was able to access so-called decent paying work as a male. Here in Canada, post-secondary tuition fees have more than tripled since 1991 - and they want to raise them. Tuition fees in Ontario increased at four times the rate of inflation between 1990 and 2004. If tuition fees in Ontario increased by the rate of inflation, they would be less than half what they are today.

Sven, 80 percent of Ontarian's surveyed want tuition fees freezing, and then lowering. Kids in Cuba, Scandinavia, Europe and even Turkey simply go to school and worry not about being nickel and dimed to goddamned death for what used to be considered a basic human right in this frozen Puerto Rico with Polar bears, according to a UN declaration we signed over twenty-five years ago.

Kids need to study three hours for every one hour of lecture, Sven, and not be pulling the McNight shift to prop up a few fat asses and their bank accounts.

ya, here are the real reasons and methods to their madness with making basic necessities of life, like an education, too expensive for the working poor: http://www.conservativenannystate.org

We've got shortages of doctors in Canada, because there are doctor shortages among other things in the free market U.S. Sven. We've got over 9000 Canadian-trained physicians working in the states because, apparently, the middle class aren't stepping forward to fill those jobs that were traditionally filled by middle and upper class up until the last century and collapse of laissez-faire in the 1930's.

I think our idiots should finally admit that their version of free market has gone too far in commodifying what matters. We should barter Polar bears or the shitload of oil being carted-off to the states everyday at firesale prices for some doctor training in Fidel's Cuba. There are no shortages of physicians or access to post-secondary education in Cuba.

Banks and governments want us to be globally competitive for the sake of "competitiveness", but for whose benefit we're not told. So let's pull even with those first world nations where post-secondary education is considered a right for all citizens. If indentured servitude was such a good thing, then they should shove the $30 and $150 thousand dollar student loan debts up their assses.. sideways. A good thing can't hurt!

[ 12 July 2006: Message edited by: Fidel ]


From: Viva La Revolución | Registered: Apr 2004  |  IP: Logged
Sven
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posted 12 July 2006 02:47 PM      Profile for Sven     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Fidel:
When did your sweetie get her college degree, Sven?.

She got her law degree in the 1990s (she simply has zero free time, particularly since she was caring for her ailing father at the same time). My brother finished his B.S. in the 1990s as well, after eleven years of study (he took one class a term and sometimes took the summer off while working full time and raising a family). In his case, it was more of a shortage of time than just money.

quote:
Originally posted by Fidel:
I graduated in 1996 after about seven years of personal financial hardship.

That’s a lot of effort. Was it worth it? In other words, if you could go back in time, would you go through the effort again or choose not to get your degree?

quote:
Originally posted by Fidel:
Here in Canada, post-secondary tuition fees have more than tripled since 1991 - and they want to raise them. Tuition fees in Ontario increased at four times the rate of inflation between 1990 and 2004. If tuition fees in Ontario increased by the rate of inflation, they would be less than half what they are today.

We have the same issue here. My question is: Why the hell are educational institutions spending at a far greater rate of increase than virtually ever other entity? Four times the rate of inflation? Something is wrong with the administration of education institutions.

quote:
Originally posted by Fidel:
Sven, 80 percent of Ontarian's surveyed want tuition fees freezing, and then lowering. Kids in Cuba, Scandinavia, Europe and even Turkey simply go to school and worry not about being nickel and dimed to goddamned death for what used to be considered a basic human right in this frozen Puerto Rico with Polar bears, according to a UN declaration we signed over twenty-five years ago.

I’m sure 80% of Ontarians would like to avoid paying taxes, too.

With regard to Europe, I say, “Good luck to ‘em”. With their aging (and shrinking) population, they won’t be able to sustain their welfare state indefinitely. When they get to the point where they have one working person supporting every pensioner, social benefits will, of necessity, be cut back dramatically.

Cuba? Well, it’s not exactly a magnet for bringing people from around the world to study in its universities.

quote:
Originally posted by Fidel:
We've got shortages of doctors in Canada, because there are doctor shortages among other things in the free market U.S. Sven. We've got over 9000 Canadian-trained physicians working in the states because, apparently, the middle class aren't stepping forward to fill those jobs that were traditionally filled by middle and upper class up until the last century and collapse of laissez-faire in the 1930's.

I’m not quite following you here on this one, Fidel. Because there’s (presumably) a doctor shortage in America, there’s a doctor shortage in Canada? I know there’s a hell of a doctor shortage in Canada but there’s nothing quite like that here. If I went to Canada to work (like some of my colleagues have), I’d have a hell of a time finding a doctor in Canada (a friend of mine spent a few weeks trying to find a family physician in Canada but the answer she kept getting was “the doctor isn’t taking any new patients”). It’s my understanding that Canadian physicians’ wages are set (i.e., “capped”) by the government and once they’ve worked the hours to make the cap, they stop working (which is an insane system, but there you have it).

In any event, the discussion about physician jobs is drifting away from the main issues in this thread…

quote:
Originally posted by Fidel:
We should barter Polar bears or the shitload of oil being carted-off to the states everyday at firesale prices for some doctor training in Fidel's Cuba.

You’re mixing in a lot of things there, Fidel. Not sure where you’re going with that comment. But, in any event, what is the “firesale” price that Canada is selling oil to America for today? How does that price compare to the world oil market price?

quote:
Originally posted by Fidel:
Banks and governments want us to be globally competitive for the sake of "competitiveness", but for whose benefit we're not told. So let's pull even with those first world nations where post-secondary education is considered a right for all citizens. If indentured servitude was such a good thing, then they should shove the $30 and $150 thousand dollar student loan debts up their assses.. sideways. A good thing can't hurt!

I’m not sure that an argument for competitiveness is necessarily an argument against subsidized education.

But, bottom line, I just think that for the vast majority of people, if they want to get an education, they can. It may not be quick and it may not be easy, but people do it all the time.


From: Eleutherophobics of the World...Unite!!!!! | Registered: Jul 2005  |  IP: Logged
Fidel
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posted 12 July 2006 04:21 PM      Profile for Fidel     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Sven, we had the same woman try to get a college dimploma here in Ontario while she was pregnant in the 1990's. Straight "A" student in her third year, too. Her name was Kimberly Rogers, and she was nailed to the cross for collecting welfare benefits and going to school on her own borrowed student loan money, which poor Ontarian's were encouraged to do by social welfare agencies when Kimblerly first started her college studies. She was put under house arrest! and confined to her upstairs attic apartment during a fucking heatwave. Needles to say she and her unborn child died while living on reduced income and ordered not to leave the house.

And I understand why it is you're not understanding the way it is up here in Canada. In certain ways, our two old line parties are somewhat more conservative than America's. We didn't have New Deal socialists here - our lap dogs have shadowed U.S. policies for the most part since the 1930's. It's just slightly different up here, Sven. I know that the conservatives down there have been working hard to reduce the amount of money loaned to young American's from poor families, but up here they've budged only a little in allowing poor kids to go further into debt in paying for college. The feds sucked $5 billion dollars from post-secondary in the 1990's. And that was Canada's Liberals!.

I worked with a guy who grew up outside Istanbul. One parent from Germany, the other, Turkish. Erel and his engineer friend told me that kids in Turkey write something like your SAT's and need a 70 percent avg to get university paid for. No problem, according to Erel. Erel and his friend are now senior engineers at a large telecommunications company in Kanata, Canada's "Silicon North."

A kid in Germany doesn't have to lose sleep pulling McNight shifts, Sven. He just goes to school like kids in Canada from well-off families never give tuition fees a second thought.

How much student loan debt is too much, Sven?. $0 thousand, or $175 thousand for a doctor ?. How does even pay the interest on that while doing several years of interning ?. I'll tell you what they're doing in Canada - they're having to take out effing bank loans on top of the humungous student loan debt they're already in hawk for at that point.

And yes you do have a shortage of doctors in the states, Sven. Everyone knows it, including the Hispanic and Black American kids in Cuba right now and receiving six years of free medical training because they can't access the handful of mainly white medical colleges in the U.S. You've got tens of millions of your fellow countrymen who can't afford to be sick or see a doctor on a regular basis. And even if they could afford to, there's not enough doctors to see to them anyway.

Of course, the rich kids in Turkey don't study for their version of the SAT's, because they know they can get into a North American university with cash on the barrelhead!


From: Viva La Revolución | Registered: Apr 2004  |  IP: Logged
jeff house
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posted 12 July 2006 04:23 PM      Profile for jeff house     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Stephen asked me why I can't admit that low prices are good for poor people.

I thought it was pretty clear from my posts that low prices are good if they are not the result of low wages paid to ones employees and to the suppliers who one effectively controls.

Stephen then says that retail is a low cost entry field, and that if Walmart was so mean, they'd quickly have competitors.

To me, this is from la-la land. You are going to tell me that you, or anyone else, could cheaply compete with Walmart? They buy in bulk, and would get every product for 90% less than a small seller.

Whole downtowns go bankrupt and dry out due to Walmart. They can sell far below cost for as long as needed to undercut Mom and Pop.


From: toronto | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
Stephen Gordon
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posted 12 July 2006 04:42 PM      Profile for Stephen Gordon        Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
What if the gains to consumers - and remember, those gains are concentrated among low-income households - are more than 50 times greater than the losses to workers (para 2 of Furman's article)? Why not try to find a way to alleviate those losses without wiping out those large gains? Win-win, all round.

And scenarios in which Wal-Mart suddenly decides to play at retail monopolist simply aren't compelling, unless there are significant barriers to entry. I don't understand how this can happen otherwise, so you're going to have to spell it out for me.

[ 12 July 2006: Message edited by: Stephen Gordon ]


From: . | Registered: Oct 2003  |  IP: Logged
Fidel
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posted 12 July 2006 04:52 PM      Profile for Fidel     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Just PM'd you, Jeff.
From: Viva La Revolución | Registered: Apr 2004  |  IP: Logged
Sven
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posted 12 July 2006 05:11 PM      Profile for Sven     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Fidel:
Sven, we had the same woman try to get a college dimploma here in Ontario while she was pregnant in the 1990's. Straight "A" student in her third year, too. Her name was Kimberly Rogers, and she was nailed to the cross for collecting welfare benefits and going to school on her own borrowed student loan money, which poor Ontarian's were encouraged to do by social welfare agencies when Kimblerly first started her college studies. She was put under house arrest! and confined to her upstairs attic apartment during a fucking heatwave. Needles to say she and her unborn child died while living on reduced income and ordered not to leave the house.

I have no way of getting my head around trying to understand the rationale for those actions. What, specifically, was the legal justification???

quote:
Originally posted by Fidel:
I know that the conservatives down there have been working hard to reduce the amount of money loaned to young American's from poor families…

Link? I know there has been a crack-down on loan defaults (outstanding student loan balances are no longer expunged by filing bankruptcy) but I’d like to hear more about ratcheting down loan availability to the poor here.

quote:
Originally posted by Fidel:
I worked with a guy who grew up outside Istanbul. One parent from Germany, the other, Turkish. Erel and his engineer friend told me that kids in Turkey write something like your SAT's and need a 70 percent avg to get university paid for. No problem, according to Erel. Erel and his friend are now senior engineers at a large telecommunications company in Kanata, Canada's "Silicon North."

Interestingly, our Republican Governor here in Minnesota, Tim Pawlenty, has recently proposed that the state pay the college tuition for those students who graduated from the top 25% of their class.

quote:
Originally posted by Fidel:
A kid in Germany doesn't have to lose sleep pulling McNight shifts, Sven. He just goes to school like kids in Canada from well-off families never give tuition fees a second thought.

Like I said above, we’ll see how long that lasts once the population demographics in Germany (and the rest of Europe) make that kind of benefit unaffordable. That being said, hard work never killed anyone, nor did losing “sleep pulling McNight shifts”.

I just looked up the annual cost of full-time tuition and fees for a Minnesota resident to attend the University of Minnesota. It is $9,410 (which is already a heavily state-subsidized rate because a non-resident would pay about $21,000). Then, to live in a triple occupancy residence hall room (which includes three meals per day), it’s about $1,900 per semester (or $3,800 for the year). Let’s say you take out a loan for half of the tuition, fees and room & board. A person would have to work about 880 hours, at ten bucks an hour, for the year to pay for the other half (or 1,250 hours, at seven bucks an hour). Can’t work that much or don’t make that much? Take a smaller credit load or start at a community college (with full-time tuition for the year of about $4,500.

quote:
Originally posted by Fidel:
How much student loan debt is too much, Sven?. $0 thousand, or $175 thousand for a doctor ?. How does even pay the interest on that while doing several years of interning ?. I'll tell you what they're doing in Canada - they're having to take out effing bank loans on top of the humungous student loan debt they're already in hawk for at that point.

$175,000 for a medical student? In Canada? According to a slightly outdated edition of the CMAJ, a Canadian medical student’s tuition and fees are going to be about (a ridiculously low) $10,600 per year (I arrived at that number by using the 9.9% annual increase to adjust the 2001/02 tuition rates given in the article). So, how, exactly, is a Canadian med student going to have $175,000 in debt with those kinds of tuition rates?


From: Eleutherophobics of the World...Unite!!!!! | Registered: Jul 2005  |  IP: Logged
Sven
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posted 12 July 2006 05:13 PM      Profile for Sven     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by jeff house:
Stephen then says that retail is a low cost entry field, and that if Walmart was so mean, they'd quickly have competitors.

To me, this is from la-la land. You are going to tell me that you, or anyone else, could cheaply compete with Walmart? They buy in bulk, and would get every product for 90% less than a small seller.

Whole downtowns go bankrupt and dry out due to Walmart. They can sell far below cost for as long as needed to undercut Mom and Pop.


Mom and Pops are not going to be putting Wal-Mart out of business. But, Wal-Mart has severe competition. Target is a very aggressive (and successful) competitor of Wal-Mart here in the states. Wal-Mart pops its prices up? Target swoops in with lower prices and steals Wal-Mart sales.


From: Eleutherophobics of the World...Unite!!!!! | Registered: Jul 2005  |  IP: Logged
Fidel
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posted 12 July 2006 08:10 PM      Profile for Fidel     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Sven:
Link? I know there has been a crack-down on loan defaults (outstanding student loan balances are no longer expunged by filing bankruptcy) but I’d like to hear more about ratcheting down loan availability to the poor here.

Bush plan may reduce student loan availability

Your conservatives take money from the poor in a roundabout way that's very typical of ours, Sven. Remember Dubya's $600 billion dollar tax cuts for those who didn't need them?. Reaganomics still sucks.


robbing the poor and shovelling it to the rich

quote:
Like I said above, we’ll see how long that lasts once the population demographics in Germany (and the rest of Europe) make that kind of benefit unaffordable. That being said, hard work never killed anyone, nor did losing “sleep pulling McNight shifts”.

Germany exported almost $900 billion dollars worth of stuff and services last year or the year before. They're a rich country, Sven, even after reunification they still have a high percentage of unionized workforce. And they own a higher percentage of high paying, highly skilled employment than we do by far. Socialism in engrained in the German's and Swede's and Dane's and Austrian's and Finlander's, Sven.

Sven, both our countries do a fine job of handing out scholarships to the best and brightest. Prescott Bush and the eugenics movement in the 1940's would say we do an outstanding job in that regard. But not everyone has their shit together at 18 or 21. Albert Einstein certainly didn't. He flunked high school math, and they told him he shouldn't bother with university.

The largest number of us don't nail 3.8's and 4.0 GPA's in high school. I certainly didn't. Buddy o mine nailed a 94 percent avg in what we used to call grade 13 OAC courses. He did about as well as I did in engineering courses.

What Canada is doing a piss-poor job of is finding something to do for all those kids who received average to above average marks in high school, as if high school should be used as a yard stick for college acceptance in the handful of publicly-funded colleges we do have.

A young man gets out of high school with avg marks in Stutgart. He has a guidance councillor and is courted by unions and VW to enter into an apprenticeship. For the next five years, he'll learn the most advanced numerical manufacturing methods and robotics. He earns $60K USDN right off the bat, year one of his apprenticeship. His skills will be sought after in almost any country.

Meanwhile, a kid from a working poor family in the U.S. or Canada graduates with avg marks, and he has dreams of becoming an engineer. He's told he'll have to work at McDonalds or the Target store for several years before he can begin to pursue his dream, Sven. The German's know that nobody gives a damn about Puritan WASP work ethics or what fricking skills he learned on the McNigh shift. They want skills that apply to the job they've advertised for. Nobody wants to donate their bloody time to the McNight shift so some fat asses can pay people to count their stacks and stacks of money for them, fcs. Our workers are falling behind, Sven. Go flip burgers yourself - donate your own time if you think it's worthwhile - the newly classified manufacturing job in Bush's economy. But don't tell kids they need to waste the time of their lives propping up no stinking fat cats on wall st. for the sake of low wage philanthropy. Neither Siemens AG or General Motors gives a shit how fast they can slap a sandwich together, seriously.

quote:
$175,000 for a medical student? In Canada? According to a slightly outdated edition of the CMAJ, a Canadian medical student’s tuition and fees are going to be about (a ridiculously low) $10,600 per year (I arrived at that number by using the 9.9% ... So, how, exactly, is a Canadian med student going to have $175,000 in debt with those kinds of tuition rates?

To become a doctor in Canada, Sven, typically you will need an undergrad degree in something like biochem or biology. That's with two years of pre-medicine and nailing some decent marks. Med school is another four years. Average student loan debts by the time they graduate from med school is $150 thousand easily. They'll do another several years of interning with avg salaries of around $42K. So, after at least twelve years of schooling and on the job training, they're earning a physician's income. It's a long haul with cost of living thrown in there somewhere, too. Work it out from there.

From Finland to Germany to Cuba, Sven, medicine is a calling. No one in those countries who answers that calling has to haggle with banks and with student loan feds in order to become such a useful and necessary member of society.

[ 12 July 2006: Message edited by: Fidel ]


From: Viva La Revolución | Registered: Apr 2004  |  IP: Logged
otter
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posted 13 July 2006 09:57 AM      Profile for otter        Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Excellent points Fidel. You offer an important component to the debt trap being forced on all Canadians so that those at the top of the financial heap can acquire more and more endentured workers and create even greater guaranteed incomes for the already obscenely wealthy.

Some gangsters simply force the endentured into sex or labour slavery. The banks and loan facilities use professions as their whore and work houses.


From: agent provocateur inc. | Registered: Feb 2006  |  IP: Logged
Michelle
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posted 15 July 2006 08:15 AM      Profile for Michelle   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by jeff house:
One of the best things I have read recently is Harper's magazine article this month on Walmart.
It isn't on line, sorry.

Jeff, I finally got my August Harper's a couple of days ago (hmm, do you have an "in" with Canada Post? ) but I don't see that article in it. Or was it in the July issue (which I can't seem to find)?


From: I've got a fever, and the only prescription is more cowbell. | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
Fidel
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posted 15 July 2006 11:29 AM      Profile for Fidel     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Excerpts from Break Up WalMart - Harper's - by Barry Lynn

quote:
The idea that Wal-Mart’s power actually subverts the functioning of the free market will seem shocking to some. After all, the firm rose to dominance in the same way that many thousands of other companies before it did – through smart innovation, a unique culture, and a focus on serving the customer. Even a decade ago, Americans could fairly conclude that, in most respects, Wal-Mart’s rise had been good for the nation. But the issue before us is not how Wal-Mart grew to scale but how Wal-Mart uses its power today and will use it tomorrow. The problem is that Wal-Mart, like other monopsonists, does not participate in the market so much as use its power to micromanage the market, carefully coordinating the actions of thousands of firms from a position above the market…

As we make our case, we should be sure to call one expert witness in particular. Last year, Wal-Mart CEO Lee Scott called on the British government to take antitrust action against the U.K. grocery chain Tesco. Whenever a firm nears a 30 percent share of any market, Scott said, “there is a point where the government is compelled to intervene.” Now, Wal-Mart has never been shy about using antitrust for its own purposes. In addition to the Toys R Us case, the firm was also the instigator of a Sherman Act suit against Visa and MasterCard. And so such a statement, by the CEO of a firm that already controls upward of 30 percent of many markets and has announced plans to more than double its sales, sets a new standard for hubris. It also sets a simple goal for us – elect representatives who will take Citizen Scott at his word.


And in a healthy labour market, WalMart should have some difficulty finding workers. They don't.


From: Viva La Revolución | Registered: Apr 2004  |  IP: Logged
Left Turn
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posted 16 July 2006 05:20 AM      Profile for Left Turn     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Stephen Gordon wrote:
quote:
What if the gains to consumers - and remember, those gains are concentrated among low-income households - are more than 50 times greater than the losses to workers (para 2 of Furman's article)? Why not try to find a way to alleviate those losses without wiping out those large gains? Win-win, all round.

So you're essentially arguing that social programs could be implemented to offset the loss of income to workers who get laid off and have to take lower paying jobs because their companies had to move production to China. It's an absurd argument, and I don't buy it. Not even the best social programs possible will be able to restore the incomes of workers who's wages have dropped by half.

Stephen, your proposal produces winners and losers, and there's no way around it. I and many others here are making the moral judgement that picking winners and losers like this is wrong. I think standing against the picking of winners and losers is a core leftist principle. You claim to be progressive, and yet you favour the picking of winners and losers.


From: Burnaby, BC | Registered: Mar 2005  |  IP: Logged
otter
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posted 16 July 2006 02:40 PM      Profile for otter        Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Winners and losers is the environment that the Gangsters thrive in.

This is why we all have to 'compete' for our survival under their regime. There are more than enough resources in the world that no one should be living without full access to the basic comforts of existence.

Poverty anywhere on the planet is a shame. For poverty of existence itself be so lacking for so many on the planet is a clear indication of the failings of this latest power structure dominating human life.

It all makes one wonder when we will, in fact, become a race of human beings instead of squabbling sects?


From: agent provocateur inc. | Registered: Feb 2006  |  IP: Logged
Western Waffler
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posted 18 July 2006 12:31 PM      Profile for Western Waffler     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Sometimes I wonder what the definition of progressive really is? We argue about universal union staffed daycare and yet to fail to think where those limited funds could be best spent. Many a yougster has been well served by a relative that gave them impeccable early chilhood education. However the challenges are on the later years. University. Progressive- 4 years highschool in BC: contractually guarantee 4 years full time employment after university and we, the people will guarantee you 4 years university tuition, books, supplies, and dorm accommodation(live off campus you pay). Not much different (I think) from an armed forces agreement. Thats proggrssive and yet not talked about.
From: vancouver island | Registered: Jul 2006  |  IP: Logged
Fidel
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posted 21 July 2006 11:00 AM      Profile for Fidel     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
They believe in socialist ideas when it comes to funding military. If the feds couldn't entice youth with freely accessable college and university education, medical and dental and some decent pay, then nobody would be signing up. I think the feds did themselves damage by cutting back on subsidized housing for military personnel by what I've heard. Imagine the useful public services and jobs they could create in the U.S. with that military budget. They wouldn't have to fudge unemployment numbers anymore to prop up a failing ideology.
From: Viva La Revolución | Registered: Apr 2004  |  IP: Logged
otter
rabble-rouser
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posted 21 July 2006 01:09 PM      Profile for otter        Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
From what i have seen, much of the problem with military housing was the landlord's refusal to maintain the properties and the understandable renter indifference to maintenance as well.

Now if they had tied 'years of service' to a mortgaging concept and gave the enlistees a snse of ownership they would have had much more motivated workers methinks.

But then the gangsters would be out of pocket


From: agent provocateur inc. | Registered: Feb 2006  |  IP: Logged
Fidel
rabble-rouser
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posted 21 July 2006 01:45 PM      Profile for Fidel     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Maggie gave Britons a sense of ownership. And after the conservatives pauperized that nation in the 1980's, tens of thousands of them lost their homes after defaulting on mortgages. Of course, the military offers a sense of job security as well that the civilian economy cannot.
From: Viva La Revolución | Registered: Apr 2004  |  IP: Logged
otter
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posted 22 July 2006 10:24 AM      Profile for otter        Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Yes, it was the guarantee of an ongoing job and the history of poviding housing for soldiers that makes this idea more viable for military personnel than ordinary working stiffs.
From: agent provocateur inc. | Registered: Feb 2006  |  IP: Logged
Makwa
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posted 22 July 2006 02:23 PM      Profile for Makwa   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Western Waffler:
Many a yougster has been well served by a relative that gave them impeccable early chilhood education.
Sure, and many a youngster has been plopped in front of a television all day by an indifferent chain smoking relative who lacks any idea of age-appropriate education, positive stimulation or even basic first aid.

From: Here at the glass - all the usual problems, the habitual farce | Registered: Oct 2005  |  IP: Logged
Secret Agent Style
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posted 22 July 2006 03:12 PM      Profile for Secret Agent Style        Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Sven:

...hard work never killed anyone, nor did losing “sleep pulling McNight shifts”.


That's a catchy saying, but it doesn't ring true. Many accidental deaths and injuries are because of overwork and a shortage of sleep.

From: classified | Registered: Jan 2002  |  IP: Logged
Fidel
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posted 22 July 2006 09:53 PM      Profile for Fidel     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Yup, they were never too young to work the coal pits or suffocate trying to clean some rich person's chimney in Victorian era England. They flirt with revolution.
From: Viva La Revolución | Registered: Apr 2004  |  IP: Logged
DrConway
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posted 23 July 2006 08:16 PM      Profile for DrConway     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Big corporations talk a good game about capitalism, but if you really want to see capitalism at work where you gotta hustle with no handouts, go talk to your local hotdog vendor at the corner of Robson and Howe, or somesuch.

Look at the article above where the researchers showed that state governments directly or indirectly subsidize Wal-Mart's low-wage practices - that's not capitalism, that's socialism for big corporations by making taxpayers foot the bill for something Wal-Mart should be paying for by itself.

Now, SGordon will come along and say "But lo! If we increase the corporate income tax on Wal-Mart and enhance social programs, that accomplishes the same function as forcing Wal-Mart by regulation or law to internalize costs borne by the government!"

The standard answer in economics is "transfer payments". Whoever dreamed up transfer payments as the catch-all answer to letting socialism for big corporations run rampant must have a Nobel Prize by now.

Funnily enough, wouldn't an economist come along right after SGordon and say "But lo! The corporate income tax doesn't actually affect corporations!"

(which would seem to defeat the purpose of attempting to force corporations - like Wal-Mart - to internalize the costs they throw onto society as a whole... neat trick, I must say. What it amounts to is an ideology that's not really much different from laissez-faire of the 19th century, when the rich and the companies they owned were trusted to do right by everybody else, even though any idiot with half a grasp on human psychology can work out that in general, rich people didn't get that way by being generous with their money.)


From: You shall not side with the great against the powerless. | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
otter
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 12062

posted 23 July 2006 09:41 PM      Profile for otter        Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
rich people didn't get that way by being generous with their money

No kidding. I am reminded of the Canary wharf development in London England in which the Reichman bros. where involved. Of course they did put any of the family money into the project.

Instead they borrowed from Canadian Banks and when the project went bust in the early 90's the bros. went bankrupt and left the Canadian banks with a 20 billion dollar loss. A loss that all the other bank cumstomers have been paying off ever since.

But The bros. were not finished yet. Right after going bankrupt they reviewed a minor compnany they owned and turned it into a multi billion dollar enterprise. But they were never apporached to repay any of the debt they left behind because THAT company no longer eixsted.

a brief history


From: agent provocateur inc. | Registered: Feb 2006  |  IP: Logged
otter
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posted 30 July 2006 12:54 PM      Profile for otter        Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
edited to avoid double post

[ 30 July 2006: Message edited by: otter ]


From: agent provocateur inc. | Registered: Feb 2006  |  IP: Logged
otter
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 12062

posted 30 July 2006 12:56 PM      Profile for otter        Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I had the opportunity to see the movie Catch-22 last night. A movie that i have not seen in a decade or more.

Yet when M & M Enterprises was created by a couple of entrepeneural officers to use the war to make a fortune for themselves i found myself in awe that, even 40+ years ago Gangster capitalism was very much in the public eye. But few of us seemed to have grasped the significance of the message at the time.

Talk about FAIR TRADE! Even when the u.s. officers cut a deal with the germans they were fighting to use u.s. planes to bomb the u.s. air field in return for market concessions for M & M Enterprises, laughter at the obsurdity of such a thing was the primary response of most viewers.

What an amazing movie even today. And just as relevant today as it was then too.

Thank you Joseph Heller. I guess i better re-read the book too


From: agent provocateur inc. | Registered: Feb 2006  |  IP: Logged
Merryblue
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posted 05 August 2006 08:07 AM      Profile for Merryblue     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Not too many here acknowledge the fact that WalMart still takes advantage of slave labour--maybe even still from Burma, but more secretly now. Nike goods are virtual slave labour made. Gilden (Quebec-based) mostly gets its stuff made under abusive and tyrannical condtions in Mexico or Honduras. I boycott its foreign-made goods. I boycott WalMart, Nike, The Gap and anything made in Bangladesh, Philippines, Thailand, etc., too. And as for Sven's claims on getting educated, that anybody can do it on pauper's wages is ridiculous. I have met the odd, unbelieveably healthy person with the physical and mental strength to get through a workday and still go to college at night (you have to be living in a city, however), or who can juggle it all around shiftwork, but I have seen no woman do it on rotating 12-hour shifts without an extremely supportive family around her to help out. The best you can do is the first 2 years via correspondence. Then you're stuck. Even online, there are no courses to finish properly. Rural reality is 99% of Canada, and there are no complete colleges or universities there. Poverty is not about laziness, but of hopelessness and an utter lack of opoportunity. Kids of alcoholics or two dysfunctional parents--even of poor single moms--have little chance of higher education, never mind turning out successful.
Greed, however, is a cultured thing. First Nations here in Canada did not have that trait, until mating with Europeans. Read the HBC archives, and women's history, oral history (Barry Broadfoot's books)--most elucidating.

From: Northern Vancouver Island B.C. | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
Fidel
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posted 19 August 2006 12:43 PM      Profile for Fidel     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Contract on America: the mob and fascism in the U.S. since 1963

quote:
In 1960 Sam Giancana was involved in talks with Allen W. Dulles, the director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), about the possibility of murdering Fidel Castro. It is claimed that during the 1960 presidential election Giancana used his influence in Illinois to help John F. Kennedy defeat Richard Nixon. The two men, at that time, shared the same girlfriend, Judith Campbell Exner.

After becoming president John F. Kennedy appointed his brother, Robert Kennedy, as U.S. Attorney General. The two men worked closely together on a wide variety of issues including the attempt to tackle organized crime. One of their prime targets was to get Giancana arrested.

On 22nd November, 1963, President Kennedy was assassinated. Rumours began to circulate that Giancana and other gang bosses such as Santos Trafficante, Carlos Marcello, and Johnny Roselli, were involved in the crime.

In 1975 Frank Church and his Select Committee to Study Governmental Operations with Respect to Intelligence Activities discovered that Judith Campbell had been involved with both Giancana and John F. Kennedy. It emerged that during the 1960 presidential election Campbell took messages from Giancana to Kennedy. Campbell later claimed these messages concerned the plans to murder Fidel Castro. Kennedy also began an affair with Campbell and used her as a courier to carry sealed envelopes to Giancana. He told her they contained "intelligence material" concerning the plot to kill Castro. ...

In 1992 Giancana's nephew published Double Cross: The Story of the Man Who Controlled America. The book attempted to establish that Giancana had rigged the 1960 Presidential election vote in Cook County on John Kennedy's behalf, which effectively gave Kennedy the election. It is argued that Kennedy reneged on the deal and therefore Giancana had him killed.

In his autobiography, Mob Lawyer (1994) (co-written with journalist Selwyn Raab) Frank Ragano added that in July, 1963, he was once again sent to New Orleans by Hoffa to meet Santos Trafficante(exiled from Cuba after 1959) and Carlos Marcello concerning plans to kill President John F. Kennedy. When Kennedy was killed Hoffa apparently said to Ragano: "I told you could do it. I'll never forget what Carlos and Santos did for me." He added: "This means Bobby is out as Attorney General". Marcello later told Ragano: "When you see Jimmy (Hoffa), you tell him he owes me and he owes me big."


The book, "Contract on America", by David E. Scheim, not only implicates organized crime in the assassination of Kennedy but, as the Giancana book alludes to, concludes that the JFK assassination required collaboration by public officials participating in the coup d'etat. The list of motives for mob-CIA collusion on the JFK assassination is lengthy.

"Act of Treason", by Mark North, documents the collusion between the establishment and organized crime in extending this theory and in buttressing Giancana's and North's books.


From: Viva La Revolución | Registered: Apr 2004  |  IP: Logged
otter
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 12062

posted 20 August 2006 10:12 AM      Profile for otter        Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Yes, Robert and John Kennedy really did exceed their grasp when they took on organized crime. And it is the reality that the gangsters will kill anyone that provokes them that the crime lords are so powerful.

But murder is their choice of last resort. Most would rather seduce, bribe, blackmail or otherwise manipulate public officials into their control.


From: agent provocateur inc. | Registered: Feb 2006  |  IP: Logged
Fidel
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 5594

posted 20 August 2006 09:28 PM      Profile for Fidel     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Yes, the mob became much more respectable after various FBI crackdowns. No more Santos Trafficante pulling $100 million dollar health care frauds in Miami. Health care fraud in the U.S. is down to an estimated $30 billion or so a year now. And they want our two old line party autocrats to hand them contracts for health care services here. Not our Libranos or the other guys. D'ya think?.

Carlos Marcello's end of the business in Louisiana was worth several billion dollars a year before he fled the U.S. for Nicaragua. Bobby Kennedy wanted him arrested and had the means at his disposal to do it at the time as Attorney General. Marcello slithered back in to the States sometime after the Kennedy's were murdered. Mob operations in Havana were said to be worth more than Atlantic City and Vegas combined leading up to the Revolution. Fidel tipped off the FBI about an infamous meeting of top mobsters in the Appalachians after giving Trafficante and friends one-way tickets to Miami. The FBI fumbled it as expected. Rounding up communists and investigating anti-American activities was their racket at the time.

Leonid Brezhnev was officially barred from visiting Walt DisneyWorld upon visiting the U.S. during the cold war. He wondered why all the hoopla over a fake theme park and commented that gangsters must have taken it over. tshhhhh

The Bush crime family was part of a savings and loan scandal that's estimated to cost American taxpayers $30 billion dollars a year for 32 years. Dick Cheney's former employers at Haliburton were awarded reconstruction contracts in Iraq worth billions of dollars. It's been one big hustle for these fascists since losing the election in 2000.

It's said there are hundreds of organized crime groups operating in Canada right now.

And after the release of some 8 million Soviet prisoners from gulags over the years, the FBI said they've never had to deal with such well-educated criminals and criminal plots so complex.

[ 20 August 2006: Message edited by: Fidel ]


From: Viva La Revolución | Registered: Apr 2004  |  IP: Logged
Martha (but not Stewart)
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posted 29 August 2006 07:32 AM      Profile for Martha (but not Stewart)     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Sven:
My question is: Why the hell are educational institutions spending at a far greater rate of increase than virtually ever other entity? Four times the rate of inflation? Something is wrong with the administration of education institutions.

OK, I am addressing this side-issue way late, but here goes...

A large increase in tuition is not the same as a large increase in revenues or spending. Suppose that a university charges $1K in tuition, and receives $19K per student in its core provincial grant. A 5.2% decrease in core provincial grant (i.e. a $1K decrease) requires the university to double its tuition, just to maintain its budget. This simplified scenario makes the point that increases in tuition might be necessitated by factors other than increases in spending.

In the Summer 2006 edition of The University of Toronto Magazine, President David Naylor has an article, University Finance 101. Here are some highlights:

(1) U of Toronto budget, 2005-2006: $1.2 billion.
(2) 2005-2006: Core provincial grant, 44% of revenues. Tuition: 34%.
(3) 1991-1992: Core provincial grant, 70% of revenues. Tuition: 16%.
(4) From early 1990s to 2004-2005: per-student inflation-adjusted funding from the provincial government fell by about 30%.

The main factor in tuition increase: decreasing core provincial grants.

[ 29 August 2006: Message edited by: Martha (but not Stewart) ]


From: Toronto | Registered: Mar 2006  |  IP: Logged
otter
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 12062

posted 29 August 2006 09:05 AM      Profile for otter        Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Greed and material acquisitivenss are certainly part of human nature. But our society has made greed and material acquisitiveness its central organizing principles. That's what capitalism, and particularly the "new capitalism" is all about. This seems utterly natural to us, because we're so used to it. But there's really nothing natural or inevitable about it.

So while we quibble about where the pennies should be allocated, the plunderers continue to harvest the wealth of the nation for their own selfish indulgences.


From: agent provocateur inc. | Registered: Feb 2006  |  IP: Logged
MacD
rabble-rouser
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posted 29 August 2006 09:07 AM      Profile for MacD     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Stephen Gordon:
What if the gains to consumers - and remember, those gains are concentrated among low-income households - are more than 50 times greater than the losses to workers (para 2 of Furman's article)?

The article claimed that the gains to consumers were 50 times more than lost retail wages. I don't believe the article addressed losses in manufacturing (i.e. to suppliers' employees) nor did it include increased costs to governments as a consequence of lower wages.


From: Redmonton, Alberta | Registered: Apr 2002  |  IP: Logged
otter
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 12062

posted 30 August 2006 10:03 AM      Profile for otter        Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Surely no one believes that the Gangsters that dominate the economics of the world today give a damn about what the minions that work for them think or want? Or that their complaints will achieve anything more than maybe a bullet in the ear in the form of another shop being shut down or the activities of the shop being outsourced to some foreign slave shop?
From: agent provocateur inc. | Registered: Feb 2006  |  IP: Logged
otter
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 12062

posted 09 September 2006 02:02 PM      Profile for otter        Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
I served in all ranks from second Lieutenant to Major General. And during that period I spent most of my time being a high-class muscle man for Big Business, for Wall Street and the bankers. In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism.

I suspected I was just part of a racket at the time. Now I am sure of it. Like all members of the military profession I never had an original thought until I left the service. My mental faculties remained in suspended animation while I obeyed the orders of the higher-ups. This is typical with everyone in the military service.


as cited from the book "I was a Gangster for Capitalism" by Major General Smedley Butler
link


From: agent provocateur inc. | Registered: Feb 2006  |  IP: Logged

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