What's All This Then?

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Monday, August 01, 2005

Your Government At Work

I have to admit that I haven’t read any of the pages of the energy bill or of CAFTA, but a couple of things about them struck me right away. The energy bill doesn’t do anything to lower gasoline costs - or home heating or cooling. But apparently what it does do is give all kinds of tax incentives to energy companies that are already raking in record profits - and sticks individual taxpayers with the cost of those incentives.

I also have to admit that I never could understand the concept of tax incentives for companies to keep on doing the same thing that they do anyway - whatever it is they do without incentives. A tax incentive perhaps is a good idea and would work if it’s an inducement for a company to take a huge chance on something innovative that might work out well for the public and for the country and generate huge profits - but that could also fail miserably, cutting deep into profits.

Companies that make huge profits and pay no taxes are already a scandal that seems to generate little interest with this administration - and plenty of them get tax rebates, which I think comes under the heading of the phrase popularized by Bush senior when he was running against Ronald Reagan - voodoo economics.

If we are to make any sense out of that portion of the energy bill that provides tax incentives, we need to be able to ask each and every company that gets a tax break a simple question. What are you going to now do that you were not going to do before? And then year by year - maybe even quarter by quarter or month by month, some watchdog organization needs to go back to these companies and ask for a progress report and publish it on the Internet or in newspapers. It won’t happen of course, but if it did, I’d be willing to bet that the initial and all subsequent answers would only be decipherable by someone with multiple PhD’s in gobbledygook!!

As to CAFTA, which some people are calling NAFTA LIGHT - I have no words of wisdom. We hear from those who supported it that it will create jobs and cut down on illegal immigration. Isn’t that what NAFTA was supposed to do? If that’s the case, there shouldn’t have been any need for the heavy lobbying that got it past the House by a two vote margin. All it needed was a list of all the jobs that were created by NAFTA and where and at what rates - and have a whole flock of those newly hired available to testify. Not just general statistics of any kind of improvements claiming they were or are because of NAFTA. But specifics!! The supporters should have been able to show specifically how all of these wonderful things were the result of NAFTA. And they also should have had a raft of verifiable information available to show how the number of illegals flocking across out southern borders has been reduced since NAFTA was enacted.

CAFTA would have passed with almost no opposition.

I guess those in favor of CAFTA could have provided that kind of compelling information but I think the International Society of Gobbledygook Concocters and Interpreters were having their annual convention in Minsk while the House debate was going on.

Unfriendly Curbsides

Speaking of gobbledygook, I think that must have been the school of economics and public relations attended by the geniuses now running United Airlines into the ground.

Here’s a company that has no business being in business. They’ve fired thousands of employees, cut the pay of those they kept and dumped their pension obligations - all in the name of trying to stop hemorrhaging losses and eventually emerge from bankruptcy. Then they asked passengers to "sacrifice" by paying for meals on domestic flights. I’m not one of those who thinks airline food is that bad , but only as a "perk" - as something that’s part of the cost of your ticket. When the flight attendant tries to collect seven to ten bucks for what they call breakfast or dinner - that I think of as airway robbery. I’ll snack before I get on the plane thank you. Or bring my own sandwiches.

Now they want me to pay two bucks a bag for curbside check in - on top of the normal tip to the sky cap who takes your bags - usually two bucks a bag!!! At the airport that I use to fly around the country or overseas, the guy who takes my bags at the curb makes $3.90 an hour!! His living comes from tips - not from his paycheck. But if we’re handing over the amount that we usually tip just to use his service, are we still going to tip the same or are we going to not tip at all or maybe just say screw it and schlep the bags inside the airport ourselves? And if we do, will United start charging us for checked luggage, no matter where the check in occurs?? I wouldn’t put it past their brilliant management decision making.

I’m so sick of reading how this airline is trying to save itself - by sticking it to workers who had nothing to do with their downfall - now including skycaps - that my inclination would be to look for ABU - anyone BUT United, the next time I have to fly.

I hear that George Voinovich is joining in the chorus of dismay over the recess appointment of John Bolton to the United Nations. But he shouldn’t feel all that bad because I also hear that the Guinness Book of Records has moved his performance in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on April 19, 2005 to the top of the all time list of woulda coulda shoulda moments in history. He will be remembered.