Monday, February 13, 2017

Fun With Your Clothes On: Meet Andrew Puzder, Anti-Labor Secretary In Waiting

<The Daily Beast:>
 <"I Want You...To Wear Scanty Outfits And
Help Me Make More In A Day Than You Make In A Year">

Andrew Puzder, Donald Trump's Labor Secretary nominee, epitomizes that old line: "If he didn't exist, you'd have to invent him." Bulging bottom line? Check. Defensive to criticism? Double-check. Ethically challenged? Triple-check. Hostility to those below him, or his department's mission? Quadruple check. Tin-eared to any notion that he, well, crosses a line or two? Quintuple check...you get the idea. Supposedly, America will get its first in-depth look at him during his initial confirmation hearing on Thursday, one that's already been called off four times. We'll see how that one works out.

Although American CEOs, by and large, are hardly a warm and fuzzy bunch, Puzder's public posture suggests an extreme caricature of the tone-deaf prick at the top of the pyramid. His demeanor resembles that of a "Batman" TV villain like, say, Mr. Freeze, who can't fathom why nobody fancies being turned into a human Popsicle. Unlike his relentlessly manic colleagues -- like, say, Joker, Riddler, or Penguin -- Mr. Freeze, er, Puzder, doesn't exude the sense that he's actually enjoying himself.

Unless, of course, he's sticking it to the rest of us. Like most of his tribe, the CEO of CKE Restaurants -- the corporate daddy for the Carl's Jr. and Hardees restaurant chains -- sees nothing hypocritical letting taxpayers pick up the slack for his fast food empire, whether it's forcing his (largely part-time) army of underpaid workers to go on food stamps and Medicaid, while they forgo little things like health insurance, pensions, and savings. (For an analysis of how much this, ahem, slight inconsistency costs the taxpayer, read the National Employment Law Project link below.) But that doesn't stop him from putting his foot in his mouth, all the same.

Don't believe us? Take this Ramen Noodle Nation economy tour of Mr. Puzder's wackier, less nuanced statements, and judge them for himself. There's a saying in the business world that describes the situation perfectly: "Past behavior is the best predictor of future behavior." For further snapshots of life in Puzder-land, read the links below, make up your own mind...and then, run like hell.


<I've got the world on a string, sittin' on a rainbow

Got the string around my finger
What a world, what a life, I'm in love!
I've got a song that I sing
I can make the rain go, anytime I move my finger
Lucky me, can't you see, I'm in love
Life is a beautiful thing, as long as I hold the string
I'd be a silly so and so, if I should ever let go>
"I've Got The World On A String"

1. Bye-Bye, Pesky Workers, Hello, Machines"They're always polite, they always upsell, they never take a vacation, they never show up late, there's never a slip-and-fall, or an age, sex, or race discrimination case." (Puzder to Business Insider on his dream of pursuing a totally automated restaurant) 

2. Closet Michael Moore Fans, Unite (It's Only Entertainment): "If you were buying products or going to movies based upon the politics of the people involved, well, I probably couldn't go to half the movies I go to."

3. Guess My Talent Tool Got A Little Polluted: 
"In fast food, you sort of compete for the best of the worst. In other words, you're not getting the Microsoft guys. At Hardee's we were getting the worst of the worst. Nobody wanted to work at Hardee's." (Puzder's summary of his talent search troubles in a speech at California State University, as reported in CNN Money)

4. It's Those Horny Young Guys, Stupid
:
 "I like our ads. I like beautiful women eating burgers in bikinis. I think it's very American." (Puzder's response to his infamous ad campaigns that featured scantily-clad women hosing themselves with water and riding mechanical bulls in peddling his burgers)

5. Lighten Up, Folks, It's Only A TV Commercial: "We believe in putting hot models in our commercials, because ugly ones don't sell burgers." (CKE's corporate rationale behind its advertising, as outlined in its press release)


6. Look, Parting With A Nickel Of My Bottom Line Would Only Hurt You: 
"This is the problem with Bernie Sanders, and Hillary Clinton, and progressives who push very hard to raise the minimum wage. Does it really help if Sally makes $3 more an hour if Suzie has no job?"

7. McJobs Are Just That...McJobs: 
 "I started out scooping ice cream at Baskin-Robbins at a dollar an hour. I learned a lot about inventory and customer service ... but there's no way in the world that scooping ice cream is worth $15 an hour, and no one ever intended it would ever be something that a person could support a family on. ... Those jobs just don't produce that kind of value like a construction job or a manufacturing job does." (Puzder reflecting, to the LA Times, on his rise to the top of the fast food heap 

8. Oh, That's Why You Want This Gig: "
I think it would be ... the most fun you could have with your clothes on." (Puzder's response to FOX Business in November, on whether he'd want a Cabinet position)

9. Scrooge McDuck Says (Stay Away From My Money Bins): "Low-skill jobs are important because that’s what gives you access to the high-level job. If you focus on redistributing income, you’re not going to create growth.”

10. Trust Me (I've Been Around The Block On This One)
"It sounds good to say we're going to give everybody a raise, but I don't think people think about the implications of that. If the business community doesn't speak up, the politicians who garner votes by making those claims and passing this legislation are just going to keep saying things that just aren't accurate. It's important to speak up, so I did."


UPDATE (1/15): Unhandy Andy withdrew his nomination today, apparently after a growing number of the Republican herd in the Senate couldn't stand the stench that never stopped swirling around him...proof positive, depending on your theological orientation, that a) there is a God, or b) if there is, His sense of the absurd is no less attuned than our own. However, we couldn't allow Unhandy Andy to exit the stage, without one posting more goofy quote to his credit (or discredit):



Oh, That's Why Apu Mans The 7-11 Counter 24/7: "They're very hard-working, dedicated, creative people that really appreciate the fact that they have a job. Whereas in other parts of the country, you often get people that are saying, 'I can't believe I have to work this job,' with the immigrant population, you have the 'thank God I have this job' kind of attitude." (Puzder, apparently waxing lyrical on why immigrants make ideal fast food employees -- versus those ungrateful, underpaid natives)

Links To Go (Hurry, Before Andy Hoses You Down):
National Employment Law Project:
Bilked: How Trump's Labor Secretary Pick
Costs Taxpayers $250 Million Per Year:

http://www.nelp.org/publication/bilked-how-trump-labor-secretary-pick-costs-taxpayers-250-million-year/

The Washington Post: Andrew Puzder
Will Be A Disaster For Workers: I Know He Was For Me:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/posteverything/wp/2017/02/07/andy-puzder-will-be-a-disaster-for-workers-i-know-he-was-for-me/?utm_term=.e1e478563a72

U.S. News & World Report:
Andrew Puzder Won't Work For Women
:
http://www.usnews.com/opinion/civil-wars/articles/2017-02-08/donald-trumps-labor-pick-andrew-puzder-is-bad-news-for-women

Monday, February 6, 2017

Guest Cartoon: The Highwayman: "Out Of Money Experience"

<Courtesy Of: The Highwayman
<For The Full Effect...Click On The Image!>

This latest Highwayman effort slipped over the RNN (Ramen Noodle Nation) email transom yesterday after I got back from my latest trip to Family Dollar. One of the cashiers and I started running over the political situation. I mentioned some local anti-Trump protests are already underway, and she said, "Yeah, it's either when I have to work here, or take my kid somewhere. But I'm hoping I can make one of them."

She further noted that her eldest daughter happens to be good at science, but isn't likely to capitalize on that interest any time soon. "Why's that," I asked. The answer? "Well, she still owes about $45,000 in school (college) debt. That's why she's waiting tables." She paused. "Oh, and they just told us our hours are getting cut." I waited for the punchline. "Guess that minimum wage was just too much!"

I promised to let her how the protests pan out. In the meantime...enjoy the cartoon. If that's the right word for these truly desperate times. --The Reckoner

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Lottery Winners, Your Medicaid Days Are Numbered (So Says Fred Upton)

>Snapshot Of Satisfaction (2014-Style)<

Lottery winners, your Medicaid days are numbered. That's the gist of a news release from U.S. Rep. Fred Upton (R-St.Joseph) that slid over the email transom this week, and -- like nearly all of the current Republic majority's communiques, is a masterful snapshot of satire. That is, unintentional satire. However, I'm being much too modest. Fred's style speaks well enough for itself, Orwellian grey front and all:

"U..S. Rep. Fred Upton, R-St. Joseph, introduced legislation, H.R. 829, the 
Prioritizing the Most Vulnerable Over Lottery Winners Act of 2017, in the U.S. House of Representatives that would strengthen Medicaid for those who need it most.


“Medicaid is meant to help the most vulnerable amongst us – not high-dollar Lottery winners,” said Upton. “Our common-sense solution would alter how Medicaid eligibility is determined for those lucky enough to hit it big playing the Lottery, while continuing to prioritize the low-income population the program is meant to assist. I will continue to work on a bipartisan basis to strengthen critical programs like Medicaid to ensure they best serve our communities.”
"Under Medicaid regulations, income received as a lump sum, such as lottery winnings, is counted as income only in the month received. As a result, states are effectively not allowed to dis-enroll lottery winners from Medicaid. This forces taxpayers to bear the burden of paying the health care benefits for individuals who no longer require assistance. H.R. 829 will close this loophole by requiring states to count monetary winnings from lotteries of $80,000 or more as if they were obtained over multiple months, even if obtained in a single month.
In 2015, Upton created a Medicaid Task Force to strengthen and sustain the critical program and has a long record of working hard to ensure programs like Medicare and Medicaid are there for those that need them now and solvent for future generations. "

Got that, then?

Mind you, I don't personally know any Lottery winners living it up on Medicaid, but in UptonWorld, that's who we apparently need protection from -- as exemplified by what he catchily calls his proposed bill (Prioritizing the Most Vulnerable Over Lottery Winners Act). This, of course, is a time-honored Republican trick: slapping some fuzzily-sounding Orwellian euphemism to mask the real purpose, however vague or ill-defined, (Undoubtedly, when Trump and his finks push their bills to put Medicaid and Medicare on the chopping block, they'll be named: The Preserving Medicaid & Medicare For Future Generations Acts, or something along those lines.)

The other issue is, what constitutes a big enough payday: As former Replacements frontman Paul Westerberg once noted, there are times when no amount feels like it's enough: 
“I’ve never really worried about money. I’ve had enough to get by. I was a millionaire for one whole day and then came the manager, the taxman and I bought a house. This was around the ’14 Songs’ album. I signed a deal with Warner Chappell. The money was gone in an afternoon, literally.” (Classic Rock, November 2004)

Some states, like Michigan, have pushed aggressively to protect the Great Unwashed from those lottery-wnning freeloaders, as the mlive.com clipping below makes plain. In most cases, though, the winners turn out to be elderly, the poor, or people with disabilities, whose lifetime needs are way bigger than any one-time payout. (And, don't forget, those amounts shrink drastically, once the state and federal taxmen take their cut.)

Of course, this is the far right Republican mentality laid bare. (And we can put those phrases in the same sentence, because, hell...how many liberal GOP'ers are walking the landscape these days?) When you try to take a buck from them or their overstuffed buddies in business, they howl with outrage: "That's class warfare, man! You can't do that!" But when it's time to take that figurative candy away from a baby, especially one from a poor area, they don't even blink. Out come their greedy, greasy, grimy, grubby little fingers to snatch it away. 


However, if the barrage of boycotts, lawsuits and protests that are already greeting Trump, Upton and the finks who walk, talk -- and smell -- just like them are any indication, this baby is beginning to show distinct signs of keeping a kung fu grip on its lollipop. --The Reckoner

Links To Go (Hurry, Before The GOP
Bumps You From Public Assistance):
800-Plus Michigan Lottery Winners Kicked Off Public Assistance
:

http://www.mlive.com/lansing-news/index.ssf/2014/10/more_than_800_michigan_lottery.html

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Anti-Inaugural Card (Clip & Save For Future Reference)



RAMEN 
NOODLE NATION...



welcomes

president trump


& his cabinet!


IF YOU
BELIEVE THAT...



WE'LL SAVE YOU
A SEAT
ON THE TRICKLE DOWN TITANIC:





BOTTOMS UP
(& BON VOYAGE!!!)




The savage mutilation of the human race
is set on course
Protest & survive
Protest & survive

It is up to us to change that course
Protest & survive
Protest & survive
Discharge ("Protest & Survive")



THE RECKONER
THE SQUAWKer

Guest Paintings & Artwork: Five Hundred Pound Peep

And now, carrying on with our latest batch of graphic-orientated material....here's a couple of paintings by our friend, and supporter, Five Hundred Pound Peep....so feast your eyes on these works, from Peep's private archive, and enjoy. --The Reckoner



<Five Hundred Pound Peep>


Says It All, DOESN'T IT?



<Five Hundred Pound Peep>

support oUTSIDER ART!!!

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Anti-New Year Greeting Card (Take I)

Farewell, 2016:
Kiss My *rSe...

'COS...
IT REALLY HASN'T
BEEN A PLEASURE...

...&
THERE'S NOWHERE
TO GO...

BUT UP...
FROM 'ERE!!!




TAKE NO HEROES,
TAKE NO
PRISONERS:

...SEE YA
IN 2017!*

[*OH, aND...
don't watch
that bloody bALL

DROPPING DOWN
TIMES SQUARE...
IT ONLY
CLOUDs
YOUR MIND UP!]

CHEERS...
THE RECKONER
& THE SQUAWKER


Sunday, December 25, 2016

Anti-Xmas 2016: A Holiday Screw You, An Orwellian Interview


<From 
Ramen Noodle Nation's 
Movers 'N' Shakers (w/LOVE):
Have An Anti-Christmas...
...And An Anti-New Year>

<"Anarchy Recipe">

<i.>
Every time I visit a retail shop around this time of year, it only takes a second for my vision of Hell to register: Christmas music pumped over the speakers, making me eternally thankful that I don't work here. My chief aversion is "O Holy Night," but not for its religious content, honestly. That aversion started at my last day job, where I heard -- over 'n' over, to the point of Chinese water torture -- some crack-brained parody of  someone garbling the song in a shredded wheat-style falsetto. It was funny the first time -- barely -- at noon. By five o'clock, my eyes and ears felt glazed beyond recognition, having heard my clueless co-workers crank it God knows how many more times. Such experiences put the "nausea" back into "ad nauseum."

That said, why do so many of us feel so ambivalent about Christmas, then? I reckon it's the disconnect between the approved sentiments (birth of Christ, comfort and joy, goodwill toward men, blah-blah-blah) and the reality (crass relatives, food pantry visits, rich jerks bragging about their endless foreign junkets). For me, this season carried an especially bitter sting that dropped in mid-November -- when I got an email from my writing outlets, entitled, "Next Seven Weeks." That heading, as I quickly found out, provided ample reason to say "Oh, crap!"

The email duly informed me that the corporate masters were making immediate budget cuts, so I'd have to skip some meetings, and clear any other ideas in advance. That freeze will lift on Monday, in conjunction with that organization's new fiscal year, but the damage has already been done. Thanks to this sudden email stinkbomb dropping, I've lost about half my monthly income. There's nothing like a big "screw you" before Thanksgiving and Christmas to show you how little you matter in the scheme of things.

And I don't know what pisses me off more -- the lack of notice, the havoc wreaked on my household budget (slender as it is), or all the extra (rmainly, transcription) work I'm doing to staunch any further bleeding. So while I'm not out to dampen anybody else's holiday, I'm not getting caught up in all this artificial, enforced holiday cheer, either. When a financial landmine blows up in your face, "Bah, Humbug!" hardly seems like the ravings of Ebenezer Scrooge -- your favorite elderly, friendless, financially endowed killjoy, and mine. Right now, it seems like the only honest, sane response.

The Damned - There Ain't No Sanity Clause.jpg
<The Damned: "There Ain't No Sanity Clause."
1980 UK SIngle (Chiswick Records>

<ii.>
The story doesn't end there however. Squawker and I gotten a couple breaks to make the last eight weeks somewhat tolerable. A friend sent us $200 here. I made $195 there for helping track our county's vote results last month.  I'm cranking out transcription files almost every night, which will likely be necessary until February 1 rolls around, when my prospects might finally pick up again. (Remember, as a freelancer, you're typically paid next month for everything that you did last month. Hence, that email should have read: "Next 12 Weeks.")  And I've been pounding the pavement, searching for new opportunities.

Anyhow, last week, I spent half an hour interviewing with a transcription firm that works with the insurance industry. My test results looked good, the recruiter said. Only 2 percent of the initial applicant pool even gets an interview, she confided. (But I didn't feel that "space cadet glow," as Roger Waters calls it. Statements like those are part of the recruiter's repertoire, to make you feel: gosh, maybe I'm one of the Fortunate Few!) We had a cordial conversation, or so it seemed, and hung up. I'd hear something by the end of the week.

Word came last Friday: thanks for your time, but...no. I've no idea why, because -- like so many of these situations -- you never hear the rationale (anymore than I did for the budget axe wielded against my paycheck). All I got was a vaguely worded puff letter whose verbiage would have done George Orwell proud: "Unfortunately we are not able to offer you a position as an independent contractor at this time...Again, thank you for your interest in [NAME WITHHELD] and we wish you much success in your job search."
Huh? Come Again? Say What?

Uh, not to sound like a killjoy, old chaps, but...we have a language disconnect, don't we? An independent contracting position is not a job. They're recognized categories of labor, but they're not created equal, either. Jobs, however poorly they pay nowadays, tend to come with health insurance, 401(k) plans, and paid time off -- items that you rarely (if ever) see in the Gig World. (But if you do, take a photo, and email it to me. I'll keep it next to the flying pig that I just snapped cruising past my window.) Now that I remember it, the recruiter also repeatedly used the J (Job)- word during our interview. Either she really buys her own spiel, or it's another piece of ammo in her ass shining repertoire, I don't know. Take your pick: you're probably right either way.

 In some ways, I'm not upset. Like so many of these outfits, they were demanding a lot. Sign a nondisclosure agreement. Buy a foot pedal and three software programs, just so you could do their piecework. Submit to an annual criminal background check. I'm surprised they didn't ask me to Fedex a urine sample, really!  Of course, they waited until the eleventh hour to drop these little details. But that's not the point, is it?

Crappy as these experiences have been, they've hardened my will to carve a different path that doesn't involve giving away so much power to such outfits. I'm working on a few ideas as we speak; I'll let you know how they end up. The moral here? Whatever business relationships you enter, keep a keen eye, and a clear head. Why feel buddy-buddy with someone who doesn't see (or treat) you as an equal?  So, in that spirit...have a Merry Anti-Christmas, an Anti-New Year...and Bah, Humbug," all the way. -- The Reckoner

Links To Go: Some  Anti-Christmas Faves
(Hurry, Before The Copyright Nazis Yank 'Em Down)

Crass: Merry Crassmass
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CNRVl7LUuI0

Damned: There Ain't No Sanity Clause:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oN8n99BUO-A

Fear: F#ck Christmas Snoopy Video:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TJOFBq7cV5U

Kinks: Father Christmas:(W/Lyrics)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Mgwlxtrfgg

Graham Parker: Christmas Is For Mugs (W/Lyrics):
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aexekTNY0_I

UK Subs: Hey Santa:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h8FSXXeDAUI