Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

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Income Inequality: the Imaginary Powderkeg

February 25, 2011

Mother Jones recently published a set of infographics on income equality in America, which is understandably kicking up some dust around various corners of the internet. The numbers are shocking: the top .01% make an average of $27 million per household. The bottom 90%? Only $31,000.

Looking at this chart, it’s easy to believe that some sort of unfairness exists. That somehow the richest 10% (who control over 70% of the wealth in this country) are undeserving of their income. The knee-jerk response is to start thinking of the nation’s wealth as zero-sum, and for every dollar going into Bill Gates’ pocket, a corresponding dollar is being taken away from the lower 90%.

Obviously, nobody believes this is done directly. But many do believe that this is being done indirectly through layoffs, wage suppression or actions along those lines.

But it’s an illusion.

It’s an illusion created by those who believe there is some sort of caste system, aided by political action, that serves to make the poor poorer and the rich richer.

But don’t fall for it. There’s nothing there.

The supposed “problem” of income disparity only exists if you believe it exists. I’m not saying that these charts aren’t accurate or that there is not a large gap between the top 10% and the bottom 90% of earners. I’m saying that this gap is only a problem if you choose to believe it’s a problem.

The thought process as to why you should believe it’s a problem is false. The theory is that the more the top 10% makes, the less you make. Unless the CEO of Goldman Sachs is siphoning money out of your bank account, this simply isn’t true.

“But I don’t work for Goldman Sachs, I work for X company.” Exactly. And every chart like this is intended to make you feel as though the CEO of X company is getting richer by suppressing your wages. People look at infographics such as these, compare that with their paycheck and subjectively apply it to their situation, forgetting that there are several people in the top 10% who don’t (directly or indirectly) have any effect on their paycheck.

Ask yourself this question: what do the super-rich have that I don’t? Multiple houses, luxury vehicles, housekeepers, etc. are not the sort of thing any reasonable person expects out of life. Even in the lower income levels, we still have access to services and consumer goods that used to be the domain of only the rich: decent medical care, a house, multiple vehicles, high-end electronics, computers, appliances, schools, and so on. These all used to be available only to the very well-off. In the past, only the rich could afford qualified doctors and education for their children. Computers used to cost thousands of dollars. The same with high-end electronics. Washers and dryers were luxury items.

As life has gone in the US, the cost of these goods has fallen dramatically. Everyone has a free option for their children’s education. Life expectancy has gone up. As the wages spread further and further apart, life has not gotten collectively worse for everyone outside of the top 10%. Life continues to get better for a majority of the other 90%. There are some outliers in the lowest percentiles but generally speaking, life is better for a majority of Americans despite this perceived inequality.

In fact, as wage disparity has increased, happiness levels in America have risen as well. Income disparity increased over 50% between 1972-2004 and yet a GSS (General Social Service) poll shows happiness levels increasing from 30 to 31 percent.

“If the egalitarians are right, then average happiness levels should be falling. But they aren’t. The GSS shows that in 1972, 30 percent of the population said that they were “very happy” with their lives; in 1982, 31 percent; in 1993, 32 percent; in 2004, 31 percent. In other words, no significant change in reported happiness occurred—even as income inequality increased by nearly half. Happiness levels have certainly shown some fluctuations over the last three decades, but income inequality explains none of them.”

There are a lot of reasons for people to be unhappy now. We’re in the middle of a recession. The housing market has collapsed, dragging down net worth for the bottom 90%. A jobless recovery is slowing progressing. People need a villain to take the blame and the top 10% is better than nothing. The perception that America is run by robber barons is taking hold again.

A lot of this perception stems from the financial industry’s top level compensation. There’s a huge disconnect between what CEOs in this field make and the perceived value of their actions. Resentment has built from the bank bailouts and other special treatment these institutions have received over the years, which when coupled with the current recession tends to bring most people to the conclusion that these same CEOs are extremely overpaid. I’d agree with this conclusion. They are overpaid. But then again, so is most of their rank-and-file. It’s a feeling that those who push imaginary money around shouldn’t be compensated this well, especially when their money-pushing results in hardship for the bottom 90%.

But this isn’t totally the fault of the financial institutions. If you want to blame somebody, blame the government. And keep blaming them because they’re never going to fix it. Goldman Sachs, in particular, is a revolving door that circulates its executives in and out of government positions and vice versa. Even if the government decided to step in and raise taxes appreciably on big business and the incomes of the top 10%, it would have no effect on the bottom 90%.

The ugly truth is that if you tax something more, you get less of it. Just ask New York City, whose latest tax increase (to $6.86 a pack!) resulted in an influx of tax-free bootleg cigarettes and the relocation of tax money to neighboring states with lower prices. Sales dropped 27% between July and November, far exceeding the 8-10% the politicians predicted.

A higher income tax would simply mean that more of the top 10% would relocate to countries with lower tax rates. The same goes for the businesses. They would incorporate in tax havens and dodge the bullet that way. The bottom 90% would pay more for goods and services as any applied tax meant to “punish” the high end would simply be passed along to the low end. It’s always this way and those who yearn for the golden era of 90% marginal tax rates on millionaires are kidding themselves if they think a tax hike will actually result in some sort of windfall for the bottom 90%.

Contrary to the images painted by those with class warfare on their minds, a majority of the rich did not simply “luck” into this money or exploit the hell out of others to get it. Many of them were innovators (Bill Gates, Lawrence Ellison, Sergey Brin) who developed new products and services. Others were savvy investors (Warren Buffet, Carl Icahn, Sheldon Adelson). With the exception of the Wal-Mart inheritance and the Mars family, no one on the Top 20 list of richest Americans simply had money given to them.

It’s at this point that merit comes into play. Do people who hate the income gap really want all people to be rewarded equally? Do they want the top end skewed down or do they want the bottom end to rise? Should this be handled via “redistribution” (in other words, taxes – an impossibility but we’ll let it slide for rhetorical reasons) or wage caps? Do they really want a world where hard work and foresight is punished?

Take Mother Jones, for example. Their ad income is most likely several times that of smaller online commentary sites. Should they be forced to toss their “excess” in a pool for the smaller sites to benefit from and close the “gap” that way? I would imagine they’d disagree with this, stating that they’ve built up their brand and hired talented writers and thus, deserve this additional income.

Is that any different than deciding that Bill Gates should be forced via taxation or salary cap to cough up his “excess” income so that those in the bottom 90% can have more? And how exactly does anyone expect this to happen?

All the ideas I’ve read revolve around raising the tax rate on the top 10%. This is the ever-popular “soaking the rich” tax plan. It plays well with voters but will never be instituted, thanks to the fact that many of our nation’s representatives are wholly beholden to the ultra-rich, if not actually part of the ultra-rich themselves. (Interesting note: Democrats are more prone to painting the Republican party as champions of the ultra-rich, but 7 out 0f 10 of the richest representatives listed below are, in fact, Democrats. And not just any Democrats, but Democrats who crossed party lines to vote FOR Bush’s tax cuts on higher incomes.)

Beyond the fact that there is nobody in Washington willing to do this, a further issue is the fact that the government is quite possibly the worst Robin Hood analogue imaginable. They cannot, despite constant assurances otherwise, redistribute wealth. They cannot take Bill Gates’ money and spread it among a random sampling of the bottom 90%. They can’t even do it indirectly through taxes, as much of that money is already promised to a variety of earmarks, subsidies and entitlements already.

Not only that, but a higher taxation rate wouldn’t close the gap. Gross income is still gross income, no matter what the tax rate. Someone making $20 million will still make $20 million, even if 60% of it is siphoned off in taxes. And the person making $30,000 will still be making $30,000, even if $12 million just rolled into the IRS offices.

They also have no business setting wages. Despite governmental creep into the private sector, there is no way these self-interested players should be allowed to cap wages or set minimums. They already have screwed up with the minimum wage and granting them the power to cap maximums is asking for a quasi-socialist system where even fewer people have a chance to get rich but many, many more will have the chance to be poor.

Beyond that, no one seems to have any idea how to close the income gap. If this were a real problem, rather than just a shoddy platform plank, ideas would flow freely. As it is, it’s just a political haymaker and another reason to get pointlessly angry.

My suggestion? Let it go. It won’t change. It can’t change. And anyone who thinks it can be changed wants to enlist the worse people possible to handle/redistribute other people’s money: the government. That’s not a solution. That’s a farce.

-CLT

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Great Lion Tamers of the Past Vol. 3

September 21, 2010
[And here it is… the last episode of the fakest family tree to ever grace WordPress. Originally published July 7, 2009.]

Time for another dive into the historic dumpster called “Great Lion Tamers of the Past.” As in previous installments (see here, and also, here) we will cast a jaded eye back at the various scoundrels, ne’er-do-wells and boy band managers that secured the Lion Tamers place in history as society’s black eye.

Cartoon-Constit

Jerome Noble Lion Tamer
As the proprietor of upscale strip-mall favorite “Barnes & Noble Heavy-Ass Coffee Table Books,” J.N. gained a reputation for only stocking the most ostentatious titles, each weighing no less that 25 lbs.

He is shown here handling, with disastrous results, Vol. 14 of the U.S. Constitution, on his way to the discount table. Only mildly popular, due to the tremendous amount of revisions, amendments and missing pages, all volumes of the Constitution usually wrapped up the year collecting dust with other deeply discounted tomes.

Older versions were often found placed next to such illustrious and swiftly forgotten favorites, such as The Collected Doodles of Lance Bass, Freight Cars of America, The Collected Nude Portraits of Gertrude Stein, and Booze Broads and Bedlam, the last of which soon became the children’s cherished sketch pad due to its enormous size and completely blank pages.

Cartoon-Situation

Elijah Montegarde Lion Tamer
A former sideshow performer and the 1903 winner of the “Most Ungainly Hairdo: Facial Division” award, E.M. would often “entertain” guests with various feats of daredevilry featuring his indoor cannon.

Named “Congress,” not after the hair-triggered legislative branch, but rather in a very blatant and poorly thought out attempt at subtle innuendo (the other side says “Sexual”). “Congress” was often used as a very frightening form of foreplay in his deviant rumpus room, or “War Office.” E.M. often lamented that no matter how explicit he was about his preferences in his many Craigslist personals, most “War Office Key Parties” tended to be sparsely attended “sausagefests.”

E.M. died alone from a self-inflicted headwound as did “Little Elijah,” who succumbed to a self-inflicted gunshot wound from E.M.’s pistol, “Little Congress.”

Small22Jan1900

Octavius Rockefeller Lion Tamer
The richest man of all time, O.R. amused himself as only the insanely rich can: by doing insane (and insanely expensive) things. He spent a little over $7 million ($380 billion in today’s dollars) on reconstructive surgery in order to become the largest man on the Eastern seaboard.

Once finished with this physical ordeal, O.R. found it easy to “pocket” Congressmen and Senators, forcing them to run the legislative treadmill for years at a time.

With the Capitol building converted to a rib smoker, O.R. headed east to terrorize Europe and Asia. After a minor struggle with the 300-foot Spectre of Fascism, O.R. strode, unchallenged across Asia. His comeuppance finally occurred in downtown Osaka, Japan, where he was defeated by the eight wonder of the world: Mecha-Godzilla.

Though his outsized remains were greeted by thousands of mourners stateside, astute observers of the funeral noticed a disproportionate amount of “Thank god he’s dead,” and “It couldn’t have happened to a bigger prick” comments, leading modern historians to subsequently place mourners in quotes.

29A

Roderick Arthur Lion Tamer
Another in a long-line of circus and sideshow performers within the Lion Tamer clan, R.A. turned his years of scamming and entertaining rural yokels into a long run as the official Jester to the President.

After various attempts at politically-charged piano tunes and scathing Letters to the Editor, R.A. soon settled on his bread-and-butter, riding around like a idiot on his handcrafted Silver Dollar Unicycle. Having never bothered to learn juggling, R.A. would simply wave his hands about in a somewhat carefree fashion, using a sort of proto-juggling mime. More often than not, his act consisted entirely of his rolling, fake-juggling antics, all set to the “Benny Hill” theme for maximum comic effect.

Universally reviled, R.A. nonetheless lived a successful life. His show ran for 34 consectutive years as government red tape constantly delayed his dismissal and his multiple appearances in tear-jerking melodramas (The Good Doctor Adams Who Made Laughter from Tears; Good Morning, French Indochina!) gained him new fans, while simultaneously alienating his old ones.

cvfixed

Phillip Albertson Lion Tamer
A consummate ladies’ man and clotheshorse, P.A. was often seen gadding about town, gold watch on a chain and rohypnol in his pocket. He is seen in this etching, posing for an etching while asking the artist’s assistant if she would like to come see his etching as soon as it is finished and hanging in his bungalow.

Blessed with a smooth tongue, a full head of hair and an honorary doctorate from the University of Phoenix Online, P.A. tore through the fairer sex of Upper Illinois, leaving illegitimate children and bounced checks in his wake.

During his declining years, P.A. began to take stock of his life. As the wolves of paternity bayed mercilessly (and metaphorically) outside his window, P.A. suffered a change of heart, when it went from “ticking away normally” to “not really working at all, is it.”

On his deathbed, P.A. asked his numerous bastard offspring and former paramours to gather close, at which point he delivered his final message to the world: “My will has never been proven legal. Good luck dealing with the state of Illinois and my next of kin, whom I alienated years ago.” His body was buried in the St. Mary Hospital parking lot, after being hurled from the 23rd story window.

His legacy lives on, however, as the tougher restrictions and faster moving wage garnishments have been entitled “Phillip’s Law,” which also requires those arrested for child support non-payment to post signs in their yard stating that they steal from children and single mothers and are required to stay at least 500 feet from bars, casinos, hotels and family planning clinics.

-CLT

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Leaked! – TSA Internal Memo

February 3, 2010

Making the skies safer, one nap at a time...

To all TSA (Travel Security Administration) personnel:

As America’s last line of defense in the fight against domestic terrorism, we have instituted the following guidelines and procedures to help our frontline personnel stop potential terrorists, preferably before they board the plane. (Once they are on the plane, it’s all in Allah’s hands. Or God’s. Or the Dutch.)

Be aware! At any time, someone could set us up the bomb!

Profiling
To this point, our “if it looks foreign, detain it” policy has served us well. However, some recent minor (but potentially calamitous) glitches have presented us with a chance for improvement. To this end we have devised the following list of “red flags*” to be on the lookout for:

*May also be “orange” or “yellow” depending on current threat level as determined by the NSA’s random number generator. Fun fact: number generator can also be used for office keno games!

Clothing and Accessories

  • Unseasonably warm clothing/loose-fitting clothing – Can hide bomb components.
  • T-shirts with drug references – Implicit support of terrorism/troublemaking punks.
  • Abnormally large purses – Use your judgment. Some women carry these year-round as part of a generally nomadic existence.
  • I “Plane” NY shirts – Just seems wrong in a way we can’t put our finger on/troublemaking punks.
  • Fanny packs, man purses – Anything that can be done to discourage use of these items would seem to be a good idea.
  • Open-toed shoes – Considered “unsafe” in most workplaces, doubly so in a workspace where everyone is forced to breathe the same recycled air. Also tends to indicated “freeminded” hippie types, who have been nothing but trouble since the Nixon administration.
  • Diaper bags – Often filled with deadly fluids, deadly nail clippers/safety scissors, deadly powdered formula and deadly interminable stacks of baby photos.

 

"TSA officials often complete their useless pre-flight screenings by uselessly praying for their passengers' safety."

Mandatory Strip Searches

  • People of a darker complexion travelling with visas
  • People of a darker complexion not named Jose
  • People of a darker complexion named Jose
  • Women rated higher than 7.5 according to hotornot.com
  • Troublemaking, sarcastic bloggers

Suspicious Activities

  • Loitering
  • Twittering
  • Talking loudly into Bluetooth headsets
  • Sexting
  • Bomb or weapon assembling
  • Blogging (especially “live-blogging”)
  • Periphery-circling
  • Post-checkpoint shoe adjusting
  • Gathering of 5 or more people without the proper permit
  • Fieldtripping
  • Raving
  • Masturbating
  • Speed walking
  • Complaint/lawsuit filing
  • Drug dealing
  • General bitching

Look kids! Bomb ingredients! And all of these can be found in your parents' carry-on bags!

Confiscatables
(Note: please post this list inconspicuously and be sure to inform travellers that the forbidden item list is subject to change at anytime, especially if they insist on being indignant or uncooperative. Use the following phrase to defuse tense situations: “You’re about five seconds from travelling to Cleveland in the nude, buster. [Use “bustette” if speaking to a female.]

Remember: Irrational fear is your best weapon. [Note: Feel free to use your actual issued weapon if need be.])

  • Nail clippers
  • Saline solution
  • Homemade snacks
  • Moonshine
  • Explosives
  • Lighters/matches/two sticks/flint/magnifying glasses
  • Laser pointers
  • Snuggies
  • “That smartass mouth of yours”
  • Shoelaces/belts/zippers
  • Off-brand sodas
  • Lifesaving medicine
  • Battery-powered toothbrushes (manual toothbrushes are still allowed)
  • Non-fluff reading material
  • Valid photo IDs
  • Keepsakes
  • Rosary beads
  • Anal beads
  • Wallet-borne prophylactics
  • Manual toothbrushes
  • Opened copies of Microsoft Flight Simulator
  • Artificial limbs
  • 50,000+ frequent flyer miles
  • Black-market kidneys
  • Your dignity

In-Flight Rule Changes
As you know, we are constantly striving for a safer travel experience. To that end, we have made the following changes to our patented “too much, too late” policy of overreaction and obtuseness.

  • Passengers will now line up single file in alphabetical order (last name first) and be led on-board by the on-duty air marshal, whose weapon must remain drawn for the duration of the flight. (Remember to check that the safety is safely in the “off” position for speedier overreaction time.)
  • For the first and last hours of the flight passengers are to remain in a supine, spread-eagled position with fingers interlaced behind their heads. No conversation or eye contact will be allowed.
  • No conversation while the aircraft is in motion.
  • Passengers must ask permission to use the restroom. Tipping your restroom attendant is mandatory.
  • In the likely event of an airborne terrorist situation, passengers are encouraged to “take matters into their own hands” as 1.) it has a proven track record and 2.) your air marshal will most likely be going mano-a-mano with the restroom lock or contemplating a mid-air career change.

Let’s all hope that these changes will lead us into a new era of regulated inefficiency and borderline brutality.

Remember, only YOU* can prevent domestic terrorism!

*”YOU” meaning “us” as a bureaucratic entity with far-reaching power and minimal oversight.

-CLT

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The Stabbing Knife Vol. 4 – Bono

January 14, 2010

Not crazy. Just stabby.

[After a 2-month hiatus, the Stabbing Knife returns! And it brought presents! Nice, stabbed little presents! Awww… And yes, I have stabbed before.]

Once upon a time, there was a nice, earnest lad named Bono. He fronted a nice, earnest band who wished to make the world a better place. Or at least improve his own country where, when they weren’t warily eyeing their potato reserves, they were blowing each other the fuck up over religious differences.

Remember this guy? So young and idealistic. And turtlenecked.

But then he grew up. And so did his band. They discarded their veneer of Christianity and set out to become the Most Important Band in the World.

They sold millions of albums and made millions of dollars.

But still Bono’s heart ached.

When he wasn’t busy counting his money or shouldering the weight of the world or getting stuck in a malfunctioning lemon, he was alone in the back of his private jet, hunched over a MacBook writing screeds against Western conspicuous consumption and how to save the planet using his bold, Irish ideals and other people’s money.

And then Bono, head steadily inching its way up his own ass, caught a fleeting, non-anally blocked glimpse at the latest P&L for U2, Inc. and got righteously pissed.

And when he got angry, he got stupid.

We’re used to his manager’s stupidity. Paul McGuinness is an idiot. He’s made a number of dubious claims and attention-grabbing statements in the effort to wring a little more money out of everybody from MSN to random ISPs to Joe Downloader.*

*Not his real name.

Here’s a few choice quotes:

“I suggest we shift the focus of moral pressure away from the individual P2P file thief and on to the multibillion dollar industries that benefit from these countless tiny crimes. The ISPs [internet service providers] the telcos [telecoms companies], the device-makers.”

On Silicon Valley:

“Embedded deep down in the brilliance of those entrepreneurial, hippy values seems to be a disregard for the true value of music.”

Entrepreneurial? Hippies? ???

His theory seems to be that the Internet service providers need to pay because they’re making a ton of money trafficking in illegal downloads.

Let’s do some math: I pay $39.95/month for my internet connection. If I download 0 free music files, I pay $39.95/mo. If I download 25,000 free music files, I pay $39.95/mo. Granted, some ISPs do tiered pricing based on use, but they’re not very popular and they won’t last for long.

Here’s some more.

On Radiohead’s pay-what-you-want release:

“It’s important to remember the traditional worldwide star-making functions of the big record companies. There’s nothing on the horizon to replace that.”

Hmmm. We can just let that one go.

Here’s a beauty:

“I started to glimpse the politics of it at that stage. I hope that our politicians, our journalists, our media gain a sense of how much we stand to lose if free prevails. Ultimately free is the enemy of good. “

...and I said, "Google, find me a metaphoric picture for obtuseness..."

But now Bono’s gone and topped him. In his latest for the New York Times, Bono suggests that we look to China for the solution to pirated media:

“But we know from America’s noble effort to stop child pornography, not to mention China’s ignoble effort to suppress online dissent, that it’s perfectly possible to track content.”

Bono doesn’t need a manager. He needs an editor. He may have thrown the modifier “ignoble” in there, but he still wants the same ends, which will then allow him to justify the means. Or to put it another way, “ignoble” when it affects Bono’s privacy but rather more noble when it’s unleashed on the thieving hordes that are The Internet. 

At what point do you decide that it’s OK for you to hold up (however badly worded) one of the world leaders in “Human Rights Violated” as a solid business model, and even worse, a solid government model?

Who here thinks it would be a great idea for the government to install tracking software on every new computer? Who thinks that the government (and their best friends, big failing media) should have the keys to everything you do online? Does anyone actually feel this will turn out well? That the wrongdoers will be caught and punished and the Most Important Band in the World can begin stocking up on ivory backscratchers again?

Or will it turn into the tragic farce that is today’s mommy-state/fucked legal system that does immensely stupid things like turn “sexting” teens into child-porn possessing sex offenders?

Bono takes a moment to reflect on how truly fucked he is financially.

The overwhelming arrogance and crass stupidity of Bono’s article boggles the mind. Just because your business doesn’t run the way it used to is no reason for you to use your considerable wealth and power to try to legislate and litigate your way back into an acceptable profit margin.

Major labels: you lost. The battle is over and the only thing you can do is lash out by harassing, fining, suing and jailing random individuals. It’s not winning you any more fans and it’s certainly not cobbling together some sort of time machine to the mid-90’s jackpot that was CD sales.

And who bitches about this lost revenue the most? The richest, fattest artists. U2, Metallica, Garth Brooks, the Cure, KISS. All of them mention the “little indie bands” as if those were the ones affected the most.

The indie bands have moved on. The RIAA, ASCAP, BMI, etc. are all taking care of lining their own pockets and the top 5% of their stables.

Bono should know better. He said it himself:

“It’s not the place for rich rock stars to ask for more money, but somebody should fight for fellow artists, because this is madness. Music has become tap water, a utility, where for me it’s a sacred thing, so I’m a little offended.”

I guess he couldn’t help himself. And his advice to the movie and television industries, which he feels are next to be downloaded to death? Do the same shit that didn’t work for us, only harder and faster.

To reiterate: Bono, a singer from a country with serious anarchy leanings, recommends an all-knowing government should start following China’s lead into a bold, new era of human rights violations and privacy invasion. Just so that he and the other top 5% of musicians can finally get more of the money that they’re already getting a sizeable chunk of.

Fuck you, Bono.

Fuck you if for no other reason than you made me end a sentence in a preposition.

-CLT

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The Fancy Plans Guide to Illegal Drugs

December 23, 2009

In an effort to educate, divert stoner pageviews and retain our title of “Enabler of the Year,” we at Fancy Plans present our well-rounded guide to illegal drugs. Please note that the editors of this site encourage drug use, especially among teenagers, whose disposable income levels are fast approaching the baby boomers.

In the issue of balance, we would also like to point out that there are several reasons not to take drugs, but we can’t really think of any at the moment.

Another smuggling attempt gone horribly wrong.

Cocaine
aka: Blow, Coke, Snow, Yayo, Nose Candy, Baby Laxative, White Man’s Burden

First discovered in the 1980s by stockbrokers, cocaine has been the go-to drug for jet-setting youngsters and jet-setting oldsters, who wish to reclaim their youth with a combination of poorly cut product and occasional heart failure.

In its heyday, cocaine had a drawing power unrivalled by other substances, thus ensuring the men’s room was at least as crowded as the ladies’. Coke is also handy for generating “big” ideas, perfecting conspiracy theories and removing unwanted septum.

Pros: Energy; hooker “bait”
Cons: Nose bleeds; insta-death

How marijuana reproduces...

Marijuana
aka: Weed, Pot, Chronic, Mary Jane, Crepes Suzette, Medicine

[Note: Also known as the “gateway drug,” as possession of this substance, which has been tried by an estimated 102% of the American public, will earn you a quick trip to the “gates” of your nearest federal penitentiary to serve a sentence on par with lesser crimes like armed robbery and involuntary manslaughter.]

Easier to obtain than pseudoephedrine and only slightly less illegal, marijuana is much like Kevin Bacon: only a few people away. Grown in the wilds of Mexico and Canada and domesticated in a million basements and walk-in closets around the U.S., marijuana is one of America’s most popular drugs.

Perhaps the most social of social drugs, marijuana can create an instant party. Like cats around a can opener, all it takes is the sound of fire igniting cannabis to fill your house with acquaintances, well-wishers and “friends of friends” who are only too happy to smoke your weed, drink your beer and empty your pantry before vanishing the moment the bowl is cashed.

Recently an effort has been made to legalize marijuana due to its medical qualities, which acolytes believe can cure several ailments, from the legitimate (cancer, glaucoma) to the dubious (rickets, chlamydia, male pattern baldness, boredom).

Be aware that heavy users will often clockwatch until late afternoon, when an impromptu (and hazy) celebration will break out as the clock hits 4:20 (also known as “giggle o’clock”).

Pros: Relaxing; sociable; inspiring
Cons: Scooby Doo; whoever the hell that is passed out on the couch

"Well, it made a lot more sense when I was tripping..."

LSD
aka Acid, Trip, Tabs, 13th Floor Elevator, Fun

LSD is a psychedelic whose sole purpose is to “fuck shit up” perceptively speaking and provide lazy music critics with a go-to analogy. (“Band X sounds like band Y. On acid.”)

Based on what I’m informed is personal experience, LSD derails spatial awareness and thought processes to a point where it can take up to 1.5 man hours to collect cigarettes, lighters and ashtrays and take them to a hopefully non-flammable area. For this analogy to hold true, said band “on acid” would most likely resemble this:

or this:

Pros: Makes everything more fun; pitch the occasional no-hitter
Cons: Lots of stuff shouldn’t be that fun; flashbacks (regular and ‘Nam)

"Let us get you the help you need to abuse crystal meth properly. Today."

Crystal Methamphetamine
aka Crystal Meth, Meth, Dental Damn!, NOS for Rednecks

One of a small set of truly American drugs (crack, Oprah), crystal meth is harvested year-round from its natural habitat: trailer park bathtubs.

A fast-acting and smokable amphetamine, meth provides users with a potent combination of energy and insomnia which allows them to “power through” such diverse activities as cramming for a shop class final, sorting the change jar chronologically or making more crystal meth.

Pros: High amounts of energy; made from common deadly household products
Cons: Hockey Players’ Mouth; Camaro ownership

"Would you please keep your fucking heroin picked up? I think I broke my ankle."

Heroin
aka Smack, Horse, Dope, Junk, Kentucky Fried Chicken (regional dialect – Manchester), Cliff Richards

Originally developed as a dietary supplement, heroin has been used for over 40 years to develop lanky, Kate Moss-ian supermodels. As supermodels began dating rock stars, heroin’s influence spread. It reached its peak in Seattle during the late 90s when it was crossed with coffee beans to develop lanky, suicidal rock stars.

Though not generally known as a social drug due to its side effects of vomiting, unconsciousness and death, junkies (as they like to be called) are usually large-hearted (and weak-veined) individuals who are always willing to share their needles.

Pros: Hits like a motherfucker; methadone “gateway” drug
Cons: Randomly fatal; second only to Joe on Blue’s Clues as the leading cause of soul decay

For added uncomfortable fun, replace Grandma's Tums with these.

Ecstasy
aka E, X, Disco Biscuit, Dolled-Up Speed, The Unscrupulous Club Owner’s Best Friend

 Originally developed as an empathy drug for therapy, ecstasy soon headed for the underground after therapists discovered it turned their patients into ovulating cats, constantly rubbing themselves against textured furniture, each other and anything emitting a low-frequency pulse. There were also numerous complaints that it made the patients “really thirsty,” which the therapists responded to by selling water at 8$/bottle.

Having escaped its legitimate usage, ecstasy threw caution to the wind, left its inhibitions at the door and worked its way through several other metaphors on its way to clubland. Once there, it was ingested by clubgoers seeking to enhance their night, which often included such activities as applauding someone playing other people’s records and getting anonymously pregnant.

Pros: Cheap and readily available; makes you really horny
Cons: Inconsistent product; increased horniness tends to make the user “cheap and readily available”

-CLT

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The Stabbing Knife Vol. 2 – Garth Brooks

October 17, 2009
Roberto prepares for Daylight Savings Time with several stabbing and thrusting exercises.

Roberto prepares for Daylight Savings Time with several stabbing and thrusting exercises.

Garth Brooks is back. Ending eight years of self-imposed retirement to start an open-ended run of shows at the Wynn in Las Vegas, Brooks has dusted off his hat, boots and false sense of entitlement.

Picking up where he left off in 1993, Garth is moaning about how he’s getting fucked by all his freeloading fans. Granted, he does mention other “artists” (of course, none by name) and breaks out his gold-plated hanky for a good old bitchfest.

Brooks prepares for his rigorous Wynn shows by "tripling-up" at their famous buffet.

Brooks prepares for his rigorous Wynn shows by "tripling-up" at their famous buffet.

Our government’s not doing anything about piracy. Until we can hear what a day of radio is like with no music, until this place sits silent because the music creators and the artists and copyright (holders) are not happy because they’re not being protected like everyone else is, then, yeah, I would like that power myself.”

First of all, what the fucking fuck? The government’s not doing anything about piracy? Where in the hell did he get that idea? Did he spend the last 8 years living in a tin-foil coated basement somewhere in Montana?

The government is spending a great deal of time bedding down with ASCAP and the RIAA to make sure that copyright protection continues its steady march to perpetuity. Just last week the House Judiciary Committee approved the hilariously named “Performance Rights Act” which will ensure that radio stations get to pay even more for the privilege of advertising the major labels’ artists.

On top of that ASCAP and BMI are pushing their respective legislators to increase the performance royalty fees that radio stations already pay.

So first the RIAA tags the stations for playing the sound recording and then ASCAP reams them again for royalties due to the musicians playing on the recording. A nice double-dip with all the subtlety of a revolving-door gangbang.

So, obviously Brooks is ill-informed or just genuinely stupid. Let’s flashback to his original enemy: used CDs.

Garth used his considerable weight to blackmail Capitol into blocking shipments of his latest album to stores that sold used CDs. This came back to bite him right in his label’s ass thanks to some anti-trust activity. Despite his best efforts to piss everyone off, In Pieces went on to sell 10 million copies in the U.S. alone.

The end result of 6 months of "cheek sucking" workouts.

The end result of 6 months of "cheek sucking" workouts.

Not content to rest on his huge piles of money, Garth continued to bitch and moan about his hard knock life until he was tossed under the wheels of pop culture with his ridiculous Chris Gaines “concept album,” which touted the soul-patched pop-country  pre=”pop-country “>chubster as a “conflicted artist” who was all angsted-up by life in the public eye.

So what is Garth Brooks’ problem?

Tough to say. According to the RIAA, he’s the best-selling solo artist of all time.

Brooks has sold more than 128 million albums in the U.S., according to the Recoding Industry Assn. of America, second only to the Beatles’ 170 million albums. Brooks has outsold the Fab Four — more than 68 million to the Beatles’ 58 million — in the 18 years since Nielsen SoundScan began monitoring retail sales in 1991, two years after Brooks released his first single.”

Couple that with his lucrative concert tours and the man has to have more money than Oprah Winfrey (or possibly U2).

So why can’t he shut the fuck up and enjoy his success?

Garth appears to be one of those (highly-stabbable) “sore winners” whose life revolves around concerns that his boatloads of millions may be leaking nickels and dimes somewhere. Apparently all the time off allowed him to mellow into a fat, bitter shit who wants everyone to pay for everything, like they used to in the good old days before people could decide what they wanted to do with their purchased property (CDs) or had any choice in how they got their music delivered (single-song mp3 downloads or *gasp* piracy).

Check out his “I showed them” take on his meeting with iTunes:

“Sweet guys. They’ve allowed me to come into their building several times and pretty much tell them how much I didn’t like the system. They listen. But iTunes won’t do what (it) needs to until (musicians) find a way to join together, and show them what an iPod sounds like with no music. … They truly think that they’re saving music. I looked at them right across the table with all the love in the world and told them they were killing it. Until we get variable pricing, until we get album-only (downloads), then they are not a true retailer for my stuff, and you won’t see my stuff on there.”

I cannot fathom how this must sound to him when it comes out of his mouth. I’m sure he feels he’s coming down from Mt. Sinai with the tablets but to anyone else who has actually seen how the real world (and music industry) work now, it must sound like the disjointed ravings of bitter retiree who’s sure the world would be better if we could just go back to the good old days of poodle skirts, lead paint, asbestos and the labels raping you out of $17.99 for a couple of good tracks and 50 minutes of filler.

“Album-only downloads?” I’m sure Garth is invested heavily in Time Machines of America if he thinks he can get a majority of Americans to welcome his “Buy One, Buy ‘Em All” plan. That shit went out with Discmans and Fen-phen.

Garth displays his vestigial opposable thumbs.

Garth displays his vestigial opposable thumbs.

But he’s not through yet. Garth’s mouth has unlimited foot space (possibly due to elective surgery). Here’s his contradictory and pure evil plan for getting back what’s his:

“I’d love to see us get it together, and that’s one of the things for the next five years is to try and figure out how. Athletics has it — anti-trust. That’s the only way these guys get the attention of the leagues they work for. Until we can unionize, until we can bond together, we have no power.”

Pause for breath and some oxygen to the brain. He likes anti-trust but wants to unionize into one group that would oversee the entire record industry, presumably with the power to set prices regardless of market demand and constrict delivery methods. Sounds like a monopoly to me.

Back to King Garth, RIAA mouthpiece and jackass supreme:

“I want us to be able to come together and represent as a whole to tell the nation. … It has to be placed in the right hands, so it can’t be one person, but a board that represents music, its creators and its content owners. I think that’d be more than fair to stand up and say, ‘Look, you’ve ignored us, because there’s 50,000 of us and 300 million voters. You’ve ignored us, and now to show you, we would like to just simply stop for a day,’ and see how dry this world gets.”

Wow.

Garth is no longer just interested in the music-buying public. He now wants 300 million voters to take it in the ass because starving artists like himself are outnumbered and outgunned by Joe Public and his considerable lobbying power.

Hey, public. Meet dictator-for-life Garth Brooks. He’d like to welcome you with a hearty “fuck you” in appreciation for your purchase of 128 million albums during the course of his career.

There is a silver lining to this colossal bullshitstorm: Garth is offering to swing his massive, platinum-encrusted weight around until he gets his way, even if that means pulling all major label music off the radio for an entire day, just to show us stupid “little people” what’s the motherfucking what.

To raise awareness for "totally screwed" multi-platinum artists like himself, Garth Brooks will eat all major label music for one day.

To raise awareness for "totally screwed" multi-platinum artists like himself, Garth Brooks will eat all major label music for one day.

I say let him.

I haven’t listened to the radio in years and there are millions of hours of independent music just dying to fill the void. It would be better for the radio stations, the indie artists and the world in general.

So please please please. Pull that shit off the air. Teach us a lesson, Garth, you spoiled 47-year-old brat. Smack us around with your superiority. Kick us right in our deserving asses with your size 3 jack-boots of cowboy justice (+1). Show your loyal customers that you made them, not the other way around.

Or better yet, SHUT THE FUCK UP.

Go home and count your money, you fat bastard. Pile it all into huge stacks, knock ’em over and start again. Go wander your mansion or take one of your several cars (or horses… whatever) out for a spin. Go get a botched tonsillectomy and a good case of tetanus. Whatever shuts you up.

Go Roberto. Get him. Fuck you, Garth.

Sincerely,
Joe Fucking Public
300 Million Strong

-CLT

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A Letter to Voters

October 12, 2009
"As your candidate, I promise to be not only different, but better, than all of you..."

"As your candidate, I promise to be not only different, but better, than all of you..."

Dear Registered Voter:

With the election season upon us yet again, like an overaggressive and needy lover, I just wanted to take a few minutes of your time to ask for your support. This is my first race for the recently and tragically vacated city council seat, and as a long-time privileged outsider, I feel I have the qualifications need to fill this position.

I think I would prove to be a valuable addition to our city’s legislative team. Here are some of my past achievements which I believe will give me a “leg up” on my opponent, Tim Wilkins.

  • All-district debate team alternate (Junior and Senior years).
  • Co-promoter for 1998’s Mixed Doubles Ultimate Fighting Championship, whose proceeds went directly to local domestic violence shelters
  • Sign waver #31 at last year’s Democratic National Convention
  • Purchaser of over $1200 in bake sale goods (1987-present)
  • Have watched Wag the Dog over a dozen times
  • Once, while kind of tuned up and listening to Toby Keith on the jukebox, kicked a guy’s ass for questioning our country’s foreign policy decisions
  • Voted twice in our most recent national election, thanks to a loophole in our town charter (a loophole I intend to close after this coming election)
  • Extra-large trust fund makes me less susceptible to bribes or misuse of public funds, at least theoretically.
  • That guy whose ass I kicked? My opponent, Tim Wilkins. A letter has been sent to his campaign headquarters requesting he change his slogan to: “Tim Wilkins: Talks Like a Commie; Hits Like a Girl”

While this powerful body of work should assure you that I am the man for the job, I would also like to take this opportunity to run down my stance on several important issues facing our 2,800 registered voters.

Proposed 4-way Stop at the Intersection of Willow and Pine
Despite the fact that I drive past this intersection daily on my way to the adult bookstore and have no desire to stop, much less slow down at this point, I think we cannot ignore the fact that there have been two (2) accidents in the last 31 years. Perhaps the last one was the most tragic, as a busful of children collided with another busful of smaller children. Fortunately there were no injuries (or witnesses), but it could have gone another way.

My vote: Yes on Prop. 127

Property Tax Hike Adjustment
As much as we would all like to see your taxes stay unchanged, pressing issues at the local school make a case for additional funding. Chief among these would be additional funds for the Music Department, which would free them from having to make the tough choice between new instruments or new uniforms.

Voting Yes on Prop. 131 would free district parents from either watching a band wearing nothing but their shiny new instruments or “listening” to a field full of smartly-dressed mimes.

My Vote: Yes on Prop. 131

Anti-Sag Legislation
Another “hot button” topic is the Baggy Pants Ban, which was put to a popular vote earlier this year. Although this bill passed with a healthy 69% of the vote, various interfering entities have stalled enforcement of said bill with claims that the bill itself is “unconstitutional.”

Unfortunately for those challenging the ordinance, the town charter contains many clauses and loopholes that allow the governing body to circumvent the U.S. Constitution altogether. For example, Article 12(a).2 states:

The Town’s governing body is encouraged to act as a ‘law unto itself’ and is not subject to overreaching legislation at the State or National level.

It also states that each elected official will be allowed to hold that office “for life,” subject only to “promotion/demotion, voter recall or vigilante justice.”

My Vote: Unchanged on Prop. 151 (a.k.a. the Baggy Pants Ban)

Thank you for your time and I hope that I can look forward to your vote in November.

-CLT