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Archive for May 2008

Quotabull

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Exxon Mobil is acting like a dinosaur now, not adopting to a changing environment.

— Stephen Viederman, a New York shareholder, after “Exxon Mobil’s chairman and chief executive, Rex W. Tillerson, defeated a shareholder effort … to take away one of his jobs at an annual meeting punctuated by a debate of the company’s policy toward renewable energy and global warming”; May 28.

Despite significant challenges in the U.S. market, we continue to reshape our business for long-term success. This attrition program gives us an opportunity to restructure our U.S. work force through the entry-level wage and benefit structure for new hourly employees.

— from a statement by Troy A. Clarke, the president of G.M.’s North American operations, announcing that “19,000 hourly workers — a quarter of a unionized work force that already has been drastically pared down — have accepted buyouts“; up to 16,000 of these $28-an-hour workers may be replaced by “entry-level” non-assembly workers making $14 an hour; May 30; emphasis added.
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Written by Dr. Denny Wilkins

May 30, 2008 at 12:52 pm

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The Never-Ending Presidential Campaign: What’s it cost us?

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You’ve probably noticed a relatively new phenomenon in American politics: The Never-Ending Presidential Campaign. (Might make a good animated flick, eh?)

And you’ve likely thought Gee, this has been going on for-evuh. Well, it has: The 2008 presidential election campaign began as the mid-term elections ended in 2006. By February of the next year, look at all the Democrats who had tossed in the proverbial hat — Sen. Joe Biden, Sen. Hillary Clinton, Sen. Chris Dodd, former Sen. John Edwards, Rep. Dennis Kucinich, Sen. Barack Obama, Gov. Bill Richardson, Gov. Tom Vilsack and former Sen. Mike Gravel. All but two were sitting governors or members of Congress.

And the Republicans: Sen. John McCain, Sen. Sam Brownback, former Gov. Jim Gilmore, former Mayor Rudy Giuliani, former Gov. Mike Huckabee, Rep. Duncan Hunter, three-time Senate race loser Alan Keyes, Rep. Ron Paul, former Gov. Mitt Romney, Rep. Tom Tancredo, and the Thompson twins, former Sen. Fred and former Gov. Tommy. All but seven were sitting office holders.

This invites comment along the lines of Good god, what have we wrought? regarding Big Money and Running for a New Job While Not Doing the Current Job.
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Written by Dr. Denny Wilkins

May 29, 2008 at 2:48 pm

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Quotabull

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[P]erhaps the most compelling evidence against the existence of a boys’ crisis is that men continue to outearn women in the workplace.

— from a report by the American Association of University Women, “whose 1992 report on how girls are shortchanged in the classroom caused a national debate over gender equity,” that debunks the notion of a “boys’ crisis,” saying, “Girls’ gains have not come at boys’ expense”; May 20.

I would say the president really has a choice here to show how much he values military service.

— Sen. Jim Webb, D-Va., who has led the Senate’s efforts to expand education benefits for veterans, on President Bush’s threat “to veto a bill that would pay tuition and other expenses at a four-year public university for anyone who has served in the military for at least three years since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001″; May 22.
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Written by Dr. Denny Wilkins

May 23, 2008 at 2:23 pm

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‘I’ll stand up to those special interests.’ Really? How?

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We are all going to die.

When we do, an industry with 100,000 employees will annually collect about $11 billion in revenue from our survivors, who presumably love us and wish to put us to rest with appropriate pomp and circumstance. Requiescat in pace, although survivors’ wallets might not.

Since 2002, after authorities found the remains of 339 people scattered about the grounds of a Georgia crematorium, the funeral industry has been visited by a wave of regulatory activity in many states. Not surprisingly, the funeral industry, a monopoly in many ways, wishes to influence that regulatory activity. It has also sought to influence drafting and revision of federal regulations, most notably the Federal Trade Commission’s “Funeral Rule.”

According to a richly detailed and footnoted report by Scott Jordan of the National Institute on Money in State Politics, from 1999 to 2006 the industry has coughed up $6 million in political contributions spread over political parties and state-level candidates in 46 states, positioning itself “to have a hand in shaping legislation and regulation” [emphasis added]. Millions more have gone to federal candidates.

This is what lobbyists principally do — act to influence legislation and regulation. And they’re really good at it. Therefore it’s important to take notice when presidential candidates spout rhetoric promising to “curb this industry” and “control that industry.” How will they do that?
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Written by Dr. Denny Wilkins

May 21, 2008 at 4:56 pm

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Quotabull

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Hhaing The Yu, 29, in rain falling on the ruins of his home, in a township outside Yangon, Myanmar.

This is not about politics; it is about saving people’s lives. There is absolutely no more time to lose.

United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, pressing the military junta in Myanmar to accept international assistance as hundreds of thousands of its citizens reel from the effects of a devastating cyclone earlier this month; May 14.
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Written by Dr. Denny Wilkins

May 16, 2008 at 11:18 am

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WordsDay: A children’s story, complete with moral

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The Old Man and The Hawk
for Carrie

If he hadn’t been thirsty, the boy might have missed it. He saw it when he raised his canteen. It didn’t seem like much at first, he thought, just a black speck curling through the blue Utah sky. But he kept looking, curious. He squinted at the distant mystery, his thirst temporarily forgotten.

“Mr. Seth, is that a bird?”

The old man leaned against a stout but gnarled juniper, thumbs hooked in the shoulder straps of his worn canvas pack. He knew how and when to steal a few seconds’ rest as the minutes and the hours and the days and the life flowed by. He curled his arm around the juniper, letting his palm see and know the tree’s rough bark. He didn’t look up. He didn’t need to.

“It’s a hawk, son.”
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Written by Dr. Denny Wilkins

May 15, 2008 at 11:20 am

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Fortune 435: How wealthy is Congress?

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Jane Harman, who represents California’s 36th District, may be the wealthiest member of Congress. She may also be running second as the member of Congress who has seen the greatest accretion of net worth since attaining her House seat in 1994.

According to an analysis by the Sunlight Foundation called Fortune 435, Rep. Harman’s net worth in 2006 may have been $409,426,887, up from $241,334,326 in 2000. (Sunlight bills itself as “a catalyst to create greater political transparency and to foster more openness and accountability in government.”)

The site allows inspection of each member of Congress in terms of net worth. Tabs lead to “Wealthiest,” “Greatest Change,” “Started with $0 or less,” and “Ended 2006 with $0 or less.”

It’s great fun. But Fortune 435’s worth is not its revelation of congressional wealth; rather, it demonstrates the weaknesses in the Ethics in Government Act of 1978 that requires financial disclosures by members of Congress. That’s why “may” is the operative word regarding Rep. Harman’s wealth.
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Written by Dr. Denny Wilkins

May 13, 2008 at 2:02 pm

Posted in Uncategorized