Walgreens decides to stay and play…for now.

August 8, 2014 Leave a comment

A few weeks ago I wrote about Walgreens’ potential move overseas for the express purpose of avoiding taxes.

Well, now it appears that they have abandoned this idea after fierce criticism from both Washington politicians and the public (their customers).  This is a good thing.  But.  Going forward, American Corporations will not use this as an object lesson in the same way you or I would use it to teach our children about good citizenship: if what you are about to do is a bad thing, don’t do it.  Instead, I can assure you, Corporate America will use this as a lesson in stealth and secrecy: don’t talk about it until it’s a done deal.

Walgreens and the exporting of the American Dream

July 17, 2014 1 comment

Walgreen’s is contemplating moving its headquarters overseas to avoid paying federal taxes. Unfortunately, this has become more and more common. For an American corporation, born in the United States, to pack up and leave simply to avoid paying taxes is traitorous.

These corporations have been built on the backs of American workers. They enjoy the benefits afforded by the American system of government and monetary policy. The Coast Guard and Navy provide transportation channels free of piracy to ship their products to and from overseas. They take advantage of a domestic system of paved roads and bridges to ship their products to market. An energy grid built with government subsidies provides them with continuous, reliable power for their stores and warehouses. A national intelligence and law enforcement network keeps them and their businesses safe. An Internet built by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) using public money allows them to open their doors to the entire nation. They rely on a national weather service to warn them of potential disasters that could harm their assets and employees, and; should they need it, they take advantage of government subsidized flood and natural disaster insurance. They hire employees educated in public schools to perform the labor necessary to generate profits. Walgreen’s, in particular, profits from the massive government subsidies given to pharmaceutical companies for research, and billions in Medicare funding and healthcare plans for public employees and retirees. They’re protected by the largest, strongest military every built in the history of humanity to secure lines of communication and logistics and access to natural resources. The taxpayer underwrites almost all of the food products they sell – especially if they are sweetened with corn syrup. And most importantly, they enjoy the benefits of a stable currency provided by all of the above and more. Without all of these things, they would have nothing. Every morning, they would have to chase off thugs and thieves from their front doors just to open for business. But they don’t want to pay for any of that.

They want the privilege of profits without the responsibilities of citizenship.

Hobby Lobby Update #2: the hits just keep on comin’

Categories: Uncategorized

Hobby Lobby update

July 5, 2014 8 comments

Well, this was faster than I thought.  I wrote yesterday that the line at the Supreme Court’s door would wrap around the block.  It’s already forming.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/plum-line/wp/2014/07/04/the-supreme-court-opens-the-floodgates/?tid=recommended_strip_1

Hobby Lobby: Corporate Personhood with a Prophet as CEO

July 5, 2014 3 comments

For-Profit Corporations that believe in god.

Humans are the only organisms capable of pure imagination – pure invention – the ability to create a separate reality from whole cloth and then act upon it. Elephants do not pray and whales do not dream of an afterlife. Only humans do this. Only humans create religious beliefs. Until now. The Hobby Lobby decision bestows upon corporations the human characteristic of supernatural belief.

By claiming that certain elements of the ACA’s contraception coverage mandate violated their company’s deeply held religious beliefs, Hobby Lobby convinced the US Supreme Court that corporations are capable of having religious beliefs. Their argument was that in regard to these religious beliefs, there is no difference between The Corporation and The Human Owners. And the acceptance of this argument by the Supreme Court represents an astounding shift in legal thinking. Corporations, effectively, now have more rights and privileges than do actual flesh-and-blood human beings because unlike corporations, humans cannot insulate themselves from liability for their actions, which is the essential reason for the existence of the legal status of incorporation.

By incorporating, a person or group of persons insulate themselves from personal liability regarding claims that may arise as a result of their business enterprises. The corporation may be sued, but the founders and stockholders are not held personally liable. The corporation is a wholly synthetic construct, like a marionette, providing a legal separation between it and its human operators. This is rather insidious when you think about it. It is the illusion of the ventriloquist made real. “I’m sorry your husband died in one of our cars, Mrs. Henderson, but it’s not my fault. The dummy did it.”

Yet this is the essential privilege of incorporation: personal immunity from litigation. Corporations are not encumbered by the vicissitudes of ordinary existence: they do not have a limited lifespan, they cannot go to prison for their actions, and they never get called for jury duty. And therein lies the danger of the concept of corporate personhood. It allows corporations to have it both ways. They get to hide behind their artificial facade of existence when they want to shield their human operators from recrimination but don the garb of humanity when it will advance their interests. No other organism on earth, natural or synthetic, gets to do this.

David Green, the CEO of Hobby Lobby successfully convinced the court that there is no difference between himself and his company – that they are both one and the same. The court granted him this concession. But rest assured, should the day come when a shelving unit falls over on a customer and kills them, he will not stand behind this claim. He will say, “I’m sorry about your husband, Mrs. Henderson, but you can’t blame me. The dummy did it.”

 

Religious Offence as Legal Standing.

The ridiculousness of the Hobby Lobby decision is breathtaking. In one ruling, the Supreme Court extended the already ludicrous concept of corporate personhood by granting it the human capacity of religious belief and, at the same time, elevated the intellectually bankrupt notion of religious offence to the level of legal standing.

The concept of legal standing is the requirement that you have skin in the game. A litigant must show that a ruling by the court will either create an injury or redress an existing one. This is a tangible and demonstrative requirement. Lack of legal standing is precisely why the proponents of California’s Proposition 8 lost their case in the Supreme Court. They could not show legal standing. But they did not dare make the argument of religious offence even though, clearly, that was their primary complaint – that gay marriage violated their personal religious beliefs. Perhaps, in hindsight, they’re wishing they had. Hobby Lobby’s argument was religious offence and, it worked.

Proving legal standing, as with all arguments made in a secular court of law, demands exhaustively researched case law, statistics, hard-won data – in short, demonstrative evidence. But this is not the case with religious offence. With religious offence, no evidence is required. One only need to claim belief and it is accepted with the same weight and gravitas as any other empirical data ordinarily demanded by a court of law. Anyone else attempting to present a case before the US Supreme Court would be required to dump mountains of painstakingly acquired research on the bench. But with religious offence, one only need stand and claim belief. The argument from religious offence is nothing more than a semantically elaborate version of “I don’t like it.”

Let’s be clear: religious offence is precisely the same logic used by Muslims to justify going bat shit crazy over a cartoon.

Hobby Lobby’s owners didn’t have to prove that the legal, vetted, tested, FDA approved, and widely used contraception methods that they objected to were an affront to humanity. They only needed to stand before the Supreme Court and, state for the record that, they think they are. By stating that he “considers” these particular forms of contraceptives to be abortion, and that he “considers abortion to be murder,” David Green is playing prophet. Only by claiming to speak for god can anyone stand in open court and make such baseless claims and still be taken seriously. This is the poverty of the argument from religious offence. In no other arena of human discourse or endeavor are the standards of evidence so blatantly ignored. Religious offence becomes, then, the perfect defense – no evidence, logic, research, or comparative analysis is required. The statements made by the believer are accepted without question and, more importantly, assigned the same value of evidence demanded of others.

Religious beliefs are man made and exist outside objective reality. Religions that reject broad sectors of modern medicine (Scientology: Psychotherapy) or medical practice entirely (Christian Scientist) already abound. This decision sets a dangerous precedent. Anyone can now claim standing for whatever unsubstantiated fantasy they can cook up provided they can successfully couch them in the guise of religious belief. So, next up: the anti-vaccine crowd.

 

Corporations and the ownership society.

David Green’s argument was that he shouldn’t have to pay for medical processes he believed were sinful (and yes, sinful is exactly the right word). But is that really true? Corporations have a host of people who come to work everyday and labor in order to generate revenue for the company, which includes the workers themselves. Workers work for themselves. David Green’s workers don’t labor everyday to ensure that he is able to buy a new Mercedes Benz. They do it to pay their rent. The revenue they generate on a daily basis goes into a general fund from which all company overhead is paid. This overhead includes the pay and benefits that the workers receive. Workers work to generate their own pay and benefits. None of that money belongs to any particular person until it’s portioned out, including Green himself, who presumably receives a salary. Until then, it belongs to the collective for the benefit of the collective: the workers who earned it, the individual stores for the light bill, the company for future growth and finally, Green himself. This is his reward for founding the company. The ACA never called for Green to come out of his own, personal pocket to pay for worker benefits. It only called for his company to set aside a certain portion of the gross revenues the workers generate on a daily basis for the security of their future employment. Green’s contention that his pocket was being picked is specious and a modern leftover from the Antebellum South.

In the days of slavery, slave owners claimed that the fruits of the worker’s labor were theirs from the moment of creation and forever. When workers themselves were considered property, this argument might have made sense, but no longer. After slavery, this attitude persisted throughout the gilded age and the rise of the robber barons and it was precisely this attitude and its accompanying behavior on the part of the ownership class that resulted in the establishment of worker’s unions. Today, worker’s unions are on the decline and this idea that whatever the worker creates is automatically and instantaneously the property of the owner still persists.

This proprietary attitude that workers are beholden to the company for their every breath ignores the reality that the owners would have nothing without them. Certainly, Green never consulted his workers on this issue because he never considered their contribution to the general fund from which these monies would be distributed for their benefit. He only thought of himself.

Thus, Green becomes a prophet to his employees. This is the hubris of religious mentality – a mentality that declares, “I know what is best and it’s my responsibility to protect you from yourself.” Green successfully argued before the Supreme Court that the dollars generated by his thousands of workers was his, and his alone, from the very moment it was collected from the customer and that only he knows best how to spend it. Forget about allowing each worker to decide, along with their doctor, which procedures are best for them according to their medical needs and, if they feel, their religious views. No, David Green has made that decision for them without regard to their input, even though they’re raising the money to pay for it.

Going into the future I foresee more and more corporations, each one larger than the previous, lining up at the door to the Supreme Court to demand their own exemptions. For-profit corporations have a well-documented history of looking for ways to socialize their overhead and weasel out of government mandates. Now they have a whole, new tactic.

I Don’t Get It

March 4, 2014 1 comment

   I don’t get it. I made the mistake of  tuning  in to network news, only to be greeted with the fact that the  Russian army has invaded the Republic of Ukraine. As expected, our own “fearless leader” responded with the usual condemnation of “aggression” against a sovereign country by an outside force. Great!!! Just what we need; Another pissing contest between Putin and Obama and a reverting to the good old days of the Cold War.  

   This got me to thinking, which usually gets me into trouble. I am nearing my sixty-fifth birthday now and if memory serves me correctly, in that span of six decades America has exhibited a great deal of aggression in just about every corner of the globe. I am too young to really remember the Korean conflict. It can’t be called a war because a formal declaration of war was never issued. Nonetheless, hundreds of thousands of people lost their lives in the “police action”.

   The 1960’s saw my coming of age and a new battlefield in the headlines, Vietnam. Just what the hell American forces were doing there, no one has provided a satisfactory answer to. It was justified by bullshit and outright lies by the intelligence community and the military. I use the  term “intelligence’ in the loosest possible manner. As a result, over 58,000 Americans lost their lives. For what?

   In the years since, I seem to remember almost unilateral aggressive actions against Granada, Panama, Somalia, Iraq,(not once, but twice) Afghanistan, and threats against both Iran and North Korea. I omit other covert actions that we aren’t made aware of. All of the above are justified by simply using the time worn cliché, national security. We were spoon fed lies about Weapons of mass destruction and imminent threats to the security of the United States. And true to form, we seem to swallow the crap, hook, line, and sinker every single time.

   I guess what my rant is leading up to is simply this. Man has built for himself a society based upon competition, brutality and aggression. And aggression is aggression, regardless of who is inflicting it upon others. Until the human race awakens to the reality that we can no longer accept the old ways of doing things, the old norms, aggression and brutality will continue to be the way of the world. Is the President of the United States correct in condemning the Russian government for its actions in Ukraine? Absolutely so. But the pot is calling the kettle black here. And both Russia and America need to step back and try to see the world from a global point of view. Is this ever going to happen? Probably not. At least I can dream of a world free from aggression, a world safe for my children and their children.

 

Categories: Uncategorized

Weddings Are the New Treasure Hunts

September 4, 2013 Leave a comment

     My daughter is getting married December 1st.  She is not in her home state at present and will not arrive home until the end of September.  Phone contact is spotty as she works in the mountains.  Texting gets through once in awhile.  She wants a big, white wedding with a dinner and dancing and formal attire and her groom is bringing his guests over from Europe.  We don’t even have a dress yet.  

Anybody who has ever put together a wedding recognizes the insanity of the above paragraph.  

How will this all happen, you say, in such a short amount of time?  Jesus, that question is why I am frazzled, writing for therapy, and have been drinking coffee in my nightgown since 2 this morning.   Well, apparently, I am doing this.  

Yesterday was the day from wedding hell.  After having two venues fall through (Ashland Springs Hotel who insisted I sign a contract saying that -if the wedding never even happens at all – I STILL owe them very penny of the 5 grand it costs) and Callahans Lodge whose owner was all smiles and gave me a grand tour and told me it  would easy, the banquet rooms free with just the cost of the dinners, everything done for me, no worries – sent me off in a cloud of euphoria – and THEN HAS NOT RETURNED MY CALLS AGAIN FOR THREE WEEKS!    I had to venture out and look for new places to have a wedding.

Firstly, most people marry in the summer.  I now see why.  Theoretically you could just host the thing on your dang lawn if all else fails.  In the winter you are forced into hotels,  restaurants, wineries.  bed and breakfasts that are massive enough to host you inside, churches, –  mmm –   how about under bridges?  bus stations?  the airport lobby?  big coffee shops?  after hours at the mall?   –  These things now pop into my head at odd moments.   Sort of like a facial tic or something.

We aren’t religious and, even though I would work with a church, my daughter states she “has no emotional connection with a church.”  Well – Gees!  Does she have an emotional connection with a hotel?  I don’t know.  I am getting snarky now because I am on the line alone now.

Do you know how you order invitations these days?  You call a printer.  He is nice, but refers you to his wonderful comprehensive website.  He tells you that – AFTER the final draft has been approved – it will take two weeks to print these out.  He gently disengages from your gasp of tortured surprise.  You go to his website.  How many forms of invitations for weddings can you find one ONE little local printer’s website?  1,112.    Yup.  I am supposed to choose from over a thousand invitations for my daughter’s wedding.  And, whoa be to ME if I choose incorrectly.   A pissed off bride is NOT what you want arriving home end of September and living with you for the next year or so until they get on their feet.  Uh uh.  Want to do it right.

I visited tons of places yesterday.  Started at the Jacksonville Inn, a historic hotel restaurant in downtown Jacksonville, Oregon.  Nice guy named Platon (he is Greek and charming!  Calls everyone,   Daaahling!)  is the event planner.  He showed me the dining room and it was fine.  Bride and Groom could marry in one part of the room in front of the fire and dine in the other part.  Would work great.  Where would we dance, I asked?     “Oh, Daaahling!  You can’t dance in this hotel.  It was built in the 1800’s and the floors would not take contemporary pounding music.  Somebody would go through the floor with Gangnam Style, you know, daahling?”  

   Paton was helpful, though.  He got into his address book – he knows everybody.  I went out on his referral to a  historic mansion – beautiful, but $2,000 just to walk in the doors.  Food, decorations, everything on top.  Figured the wedding would be open ended cost time.  Too Scary.     On to a winery.  Beautiful views, lovely facility, same drill.  $1,500 just for 3 hours of rental.  Includes nothing.  Another money pit.  A beautiful suite of rooms in Medford regularly hosts ballroom dancing.  Our wedding would not be that big, but I wondered if they maybe had a smaller set of rooms or something.   The guy asked my wedding guest number.  I told him it could be as small as 25.  He just kept laughing.  “We could stick you in a corner?  Which corner would you prefer?”  

    Okay, today I have some tenters coming.  Yes, tenters.  They could make me a big tent on the lawn or something.  We’ll see.

    I am sure everything will be okay.  The lady from Callahans might decide to call me after 3 weeks.  Maybe she had the flu or something.  Jacksonville Inn could let us dance on the street?  Ashland Hotel could drop the contract because who else is going to put a wedding on a Sunday night mid winter?  

Invitations?  I will just open my browser onto the Printer’s website, pick a midway  price point,  close my eyes, put my finger on the screen and – choose those!  Oh, woops, those were for recommitment ceremonies – okay try it again.   How about …..those?  Well, pumpkin is a little weird for the color.  I’ll try it again.

Today I tour another winery!    It is historic.  It is affordable.  It is set up exactly like a neighborhood bar, though – kind of looks like  Cheers inside – I know because I have been to “tastings” there.    I can just SEE my Mormon sister arriving for the wedding.  Oh,  crap.  Maybe not.  

Wish me luck, people.   And if you know of any abandoned old haunted houses or anything – I will be happy to check them out.  I could RENOVATE for the cost of this wedding.  

Kaye D Proctor

 
 
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