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You Are Dumb, which is not a blog, posts new columns every weekday, except for a couple of days each month when it doesn't. It is also a Twitter feed, @youaredumb, with content in a similar vein but much shorter. My spinoff food site, Forkbastard, can be found easily enough by the clever.
Archive - Feb 2010
Memo to Blackwater, WellPoint, and Goldman Sachs: YOU ARE WHY WE HAVE GOVERNMENT.
One of the things we have somehow lost over the years, starting with Reagan and continuing on to the present, is that government exists in no small part to ensure that corporations and business interests act in the best interests of society as a whole... because there's no way in hell they'll act that way unless they're forced to.
This should be self-evident. I mean, just abstractly, companies exist to make a profit, and while you can always make a profit in a way that benefits society, you can always make MORE profit by fucking people over. But we don't need to look at it in the abstract. Abuses in the name of profit abound through our history - slavery, child labor, unsafe working conditions, the company store, sweatshops... we have proven time and time again that we will ruin lives for a quarter of a percentage point. Sane people would agree that the only thing keeping this from happening is government regulation, but we haven't been sane for a long time. Still, as a reminder, enjoy these three tales of rampant corporate malfeasance.
First up is everyone's favorite corporate whipping boy, Blackwater, now known as Xe. Their crimes are epic, yet they still receive billions in federal contracts. The latest? They "diverted", or "procured", or, to use a less contractor-friendly term, completely fucking stole, hundreds and hundreds of AK-47's intended for Afghan security forces. And in one instance, signed for them under the name "Eric Cartman".
There are two reasons these motherfuckers are even still in business. Neither of them acceptable. The first is that decades of increasing reliance on outside contractors to do things the U.S. military used to do for themselves has made Blackwater completely indispensable in the middle of two wars, no matter how corrupt and incompetent they are. The other possibility is that they've got friends in both parties protecting them even as the truth about their operations trickles out.
Next there's Wellpoint, the California insurance company that provided more ammunition to the health care debate by raising rates on California premiums by up to 39 percent. It's funny how these fuckers keep handing us bullets, yet we somehow manage to lose them before they can make it to our gun. Anyway, they had a bunch of reasons for why they needed these rate hikes, but somehow, someone in Congress got hold of an internal e-mail with the real reason. ACTUAL QUOTE TIME!
"The average increase is 23 percent and is intended to return California to a target profits of 7 percent, versus 5 percent this year."
See that? Motherfuckers were making five percent profits, which, in the health insurance industry is billions and billions of dollars, and they proposed hiking premiums by an AVERAGE of nearly a quarter so that they could make two percent more profit. That's the industry we're working with? That's the industry we're making deals with? That's the industry we're so desperate to save that we have to shelve even the idea of a government-run competitor? There should be pitchforks and guillotines, tar and feathers, perp walks, forced breakups, and a huge fucking banner that says SINGLE PAYER being hoisted above the Capitol building. Instead we spend the day farting around while Republicans bitch about the page count and lie about the few good things the current bill would do.
And then there's Goldman Sachs, who's already had one CEO boggling minds with his ludicrous claim that his company was doing "God's work". Now their former CEO, failed New Jersey governor Jim Corzine, showing everyone exactly the kind of mentality we're dealing with here. ACTUAL ASSHOLE TIME!
"When you're successful it brings envy... These things are at a time when people are extremely sensitive -- and the other issue is that people are broadly frustrated with the financial institutions, and since it is the leader of the industry and has shown great success over a long period of time, I think it's more vulnerable."
In Corzine's defense, I'd be pretty fucking smug too, if I walked into a casino with a bag full of other people's money, lost it all, went to the government to get the money back plus interest, kept it all for myself, and got away with calling it "success".
But at the same time, Corzine is walking, talking proof that there is no God (and therefore no godly work for Goldman Sachs to be doing), because religion tells us that pride goeth before a fall, literature tells us that hubris is always rewarded with some wildly ironic, humbling, twist of fate, and reality tells us that Corzine will die fat and rich, and his kids won't even have to pay estate taxes on his ill-gotten gains, because the government refuses to do its fucking job.