Railroad barons, Robber barons, and the Mafia…

Posted in Economics, Economy, Politics, Work, Writing with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 6, 2016 by urbannight

This started out as a Facebook comment that turned intoOld Monopoly a much longer post.  It is something I’ve kept meaning to write more about but for which I never get around to doing the in depth research.  Partly because I am not an economist or interested in economy.  I am interested in history and this is something I’ve been putting together in my head based on viewing of a number of documentaries and articles and books that were not specifically about the economy.  But the past decade or so has had me pulling these threads together into this concept that I think has a valid point.

In the fight to change minimum wage into people being able to earn a living wage if they work full time may be easier to understand if one understands that our modern economic system was developed by the same people who create the ‘trunk’ system of work compensation. Once upon a time, these people were called ‘Railroad Barons’. Not because their work on the railroads made them rich but because they way they made money made people think of the old ‘robber baron’s’ back in the Old Country. These were people with titles who took to robbing travelers and merchants crossing their lands in order to have an income.

Railroad Barons as a term came about because most of these people were in the business of building railroads.  But it included others that were not but practiced business in the same manner.  These were the people who came up with the idea of creating towns at their factories or operations and paying people in company script that had no value outside the company town. Then getting the families in debt to the company so they would never be able to leave their jobs and move away.

The government determined this was simply a way to try to legally enslave people and made company script illegal. Wages must be paid in legal tender.  The government seemed to be less concerned with the payment itself and more concerned with the fact that it limited mobility, trapping people.  They probably could have paid the employees anything so long as it would have been considered to have an equal, legal value, anywhere they wanted to take it so it could be used and spent in other places.  They could have been paid in pocket watches because they could be sold and traded for a relatively constant value.  Well, at least until the market got flooded with pocket watches.  But it gets the idea across.  These company scrip were bit of paper that held NO value once outside of the company town.

But in response to the Great Depression, these people changed the perception of their characters. They became known as captains of industry. They were praised for attempting to put some kind of organization and structure onto the economy. We called it capitalism and made a board game praising the concepts of making as much money possible off of others while trying to compensate them with the least amount possible without getting in trouble with the law.

Another reason that people don’t really realize that the Mafia came really close to taking control of the government back in the day is the reason that so many people were willing to work for the Mafia and to protect them. It wasn’t because they were family members. It wasn’t because these were people with natural criminal inclination. It was because, back at this time period, the Mafia in the U.S. took better care of its workers and their families than any other employer did. Older kids and young men took jobs doing stuff for the mob because the work was more likely to be steady, reliable, and better compensated and their families were looked after better than any other job in the cities they could have found, for the most part. Which may be a really sad thing to say.

Our entire economy was solidified and fine tuned by people so questionable that they made the Mafia look good. Think about it. This is the Free Trade Capitalism that so many people say is the best method of Economy.  It is a method that says anyone can get rich if they work hard enough.  This ignores the fact that unless there is an unlimited source of money, it is blatantly not true.  Given a finite source of wealth in the world, that means only so many people can get rich while most people never will, no matter how hard they work.  Free Trade Capitalism is best for funneling the most money into the fewest pockets.

I’m not saying that people should run out and become the exact opposite.  That isn’t any better.  What I’m saying is that our system isn’t all that and a bag of chips and the very roots of that system is why a living wage is anathema to what most people have been taught.

Handicapped Parking

Posted in Writing with tags , , , , , , , , on December 5, 2015 by urbannight
r7_fasciitis

The source of my heel pain.

I admit that when I see people parking in the handicapped parking spots that look perfectly able I have a twinge of annoyance. But I have two things that could enable me to get handicapped parking that are not visible so I know that you can’t know by seeing.

I have Plantar Fasciitis which has never really gone away. I have to wear ugly shoes all the time. I have some okay flats I can can wear for dress up but I can’t wear them to many days in a row, even with my inserts, without triggering a flare up. This pain is crippling and makes walking any distance a nightmare. I also have severely painful nerve pain in my thigh that developed when I was not overweight. So my doctor said that losing the weight gain that it and the Plantar Fasciitis resulted in may never make it go away.

My first doctor just kept telling me to lose weight and didn’t really treat anything. The nerve pain slowed me down and started the weight gain process and the Fasciitis developed as I was still trying to lose the weight and started a two year period where I could barely get around. I had to switch doctors until I found someone who would treat the problem problem instead of telling my weight was the problem, seeing how the weight gain was all after I developed the first issue and made worse by the second issue.

I could barely get from my car to the office at my job. I was in the lower parking lot. I could barely do my shopping. I was told I could have gotten a handicapped tag to park closer and when shopping I suppose I could have used the carts you sit in and drive around. I never did because of a stubborn streak inside that equated that with giving up and giving in.

But because of that I know that you can’t always see why someone has to park in a handicapped spot.

The reason I get annoyed with people parking in those spots is that I often see people who do not have the plates or the hang tags using those spots. I see these articles about people posting notes they find on their car when they park there. Some people do say, or even show, that they have the plates or the tags to park there. In those cases, the people putting notes on cars are totally in the wrong.

But some of these stories avoid saying if the person parking there didn’t have the correct plates or didn’t put up a hang tag. If you don’t have anything indicating that you need to use those spots, you shouldn’t get so upset when people complain about it. Admittedly, that doesn’t give other people the right to be nasty about it either.  Being upset because people were nasty is one things.  Being upset because people complained is another if you don’t have handicapped plates or a hang tag.  If you are going to use those spots and don’t want people to think you are doing something wrong or being selfish and taking a spot someone might need then just fill out the paperwork and get the hanging tag at the very least.

The Old Apartment sent a screwy bill.

Posted in Apartments, Writing with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 24, 2015 by urbannight

The former apartment sent a bill for 1,000$ saying that they had to replace the carpet and for some strange charges. $75 for rent. As well as a 465$ that would be half a month rent but we each paid our half so I don’t know where that was coming from.  Although there was no explanation what that was.  Actually, it was smaller than half a month. And a strange $50 fee with no explanation.

We paid rent up through the month we moved. We moved midway through the month but paid for the full month.

There was one darker spot on the carpet from a clear soda, sprite I think, that never came clean no matter how many times I cleaned it.  Puck knocked it off the counter onto the carpet while I was asleep on the couch one day.  The only other stuff was that the heavy traffic areas were darker even after several vacuuming passes.

They subtracted the cleaning deposit but not the pet deposit I paid. Where does a pet ‘depost’ go if it isn’t used to go against things like this? I would have rented a good carpet cleaner but Jeff said don’t bother. He wasn’t worried about it. So I didn’t.

They want payment in 14 days or else they will send it to collections.

IMG_0023

Puck, who lived 13 years and passed away August 2015.

WTF? No bugs and they want us to do WHAT?

Posted in Writing with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 28, 2015 by urbannight

Last year a unit next to us had bedbugs and they treated the building. This year, they are treating again. Only this time they want us to move all clothing and bedding out of the apartment (mine will not fit in my car), empty all closets (our are filled so where are we supposed to put all this stuff?) move everything from the walls, (the living room is totally lined with stuffed bookshelves) and upend all the mattresses. They didn’t have us do that last year. The notice also said no bedbugs were found and this was a precaution. Are they trying to get us to move out? Oh, did I mention, we have two days to do this.

Flu (film)

Posted in Entertainment, foreign films, Korean films, Movies with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 4, 2015 by urbannight

Flu is a Korean disaster film that is very good.  Like a lot of Korean disaster films, there is a lot of humor in them.  Although the serious parts are very serious indeed.

The more I like a movie the less I have to say about it.  The less I care about spoilers.

The writing is good.

The acting is excellent.

The drama is intense.

You should watch this.  Everyone should watch this.  It is like the American film from a few years ago, Outbreak, only much better.

I group of illegals are transported into South Korea via a shipping container.  One has a cough as they take off.  They arrive in Korea with only one survivor.  He gets away but a lethal and very fast acting flu starts to spread through the city.  The city is quarantined.  Things go from bad to worse after that.

CDC people from the US come in and some politico types and they try to take over and eventually want to solve the problem by bombing the city to make sure the flu doesn’t get out of the city.    The Korean president has some difficulty wresting control back from the American’s who think they have the right to tell every other country what to do.

Well, that does sound about accurate.

Go watch it.  Go watch it now.  It is on Netflix at the moment.

Ring of Fire, HAHAHAHAHA, Sorry.

Posted in Entertainment, Movies, Writing with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 3, 2015 by urbannight

This little disaster movie must be made for t.v. because it is a two-part movie.  The human drama was pretty good in most places, a bit melodramatic in others.  The writing for most of it wasn’t bad.  The science is pretty awful.

An oil company is secretly using a new laser drilling system to drill over twice as deep as they are legally allowed.  They are after what they think is a pocket of oil.  The geologist who signed off on it, but only at the legal depth, is aware of the target but had identified it is compressed magma.  Which it turns out to be.  The volcanic structure of the area is a caldera type volcano with a number of towns that had been built-in the caldera.

This is part of the ring of fire and they expect it to trigger an extinction level event.  In fact, they keep talking about and counting down to one massive event happening all around the entire tectonic/volcanic area called the Ring of Fire.  This is a massive area going around in a circle on both sides of the Pacific Ocean.

At least they are having some of the initial events related to this having occurred around five months before.  But this one break through into the magma chamber has destabilized the entire Ring in a matter of hours and they are expecting the entire ring to start erupting all at one time in under a day.

Now, when I was in college and minoring in Geology, there was a theory that something could set off the Ring of Fire.  But not in the way depicted in this movie.  It would take something very massive and if it triggered any part of the ring it would only  be certain parts.  That might trigger other sections.  By trigger it was only in the sense that it would increase the tectonic and/or volcanic (although both are intrinsically related) activity in the area which might be enough to trigger eruptions or might not be.

Theoretically, something might possibly be able to trigger the ring in stages and it might cause eruptions, eventually, in stages, but nothing that would go off all at one time or that could trigger a mass extinction event.

Charles and Harry

Posted in Entertainment, New, Royals with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 3, 2015 by urbannight
Windsors

Press photo from something or other some time or other.

I can remember how there have been rumor after rumor, for many years, that Harry was not the son of Prince Charles.  But looking at this image, how can anyone think that?  Harry is a red-haired version of his father.  The slightly wider face he inherited from his mother makes his father’s admittedly homely features look less homely.  The noses are not identical but how much is that due to Charles’ age?  The eyes and that smile are the spitting image of one another.  So is that identical hairline.  I guess trying to figure out who Harry’s ‘real’ father might be is a way for some people to try to keep Diana’s memory alive.  Seems silly to me.  Don’t people have enough REAL problems to worry about?

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