The computer screen told the story. A weather system, shown as a menacing blob of glowing crimson on the screen, was bearing down on us and about to engulf the whole damn island. Isla Nublar was really in for it. Gale force winds, 40 foot swells, the whole nine yards.
Communications were already out.
The control room shook as horizontal rain punished the windows creating enough background noise to decidedly get on my nerves. I took a moment to glance out the window. The tropical trees were whipping in the wind like piñatas under a baseball bat.
It was up to me.
I realized a voice was coming out of the high-tech radio I held in my hand. “Sqwk! Say again, say again, we are pinned down. No way out. Request immediate EVAC. Do you copy? Over. Sqwk!”
Sending out the chopper in these conditions would almost certainly be suicide. Yet there stood the flight crew, having already volunteered, now impatiently awaiting my decision. Risk three lives to save eight? I could barely comprehend the mathematics that involved.
The weather display was blinking now. It has just been updated with the name of the storm which was now closer than ever. “Fiona” they were calling in. Wow, I thought. They named the storm. That’s extremely useful information.
“Clever girl,” I said without realizing I was saying out loud.
Time was growing short. It was do or die. This command decision had to be made so I could triage the next looming disaster only seconds away.
“Send ’em out,” I ordered. I keyed the mic. “Help is on the way. Out.”
“This post doesn’t have a price tag? It must be free, right? Ha ha ha ha ha ha!”
In response, the Abyssian customer service associate doesn’t lose his shit and calmly points at the the wall. “Clearly you did not see our sign.” It reads:
“The next customer to crack the ‘it must be free’ joke on an unmarked item will be stabbed in the eye. Thank you for shopping Abyss Inc.”
–Our humorous sign (patent pending)
And no, this post is not free. By reading this far, per our implied EULA buried on some other page you’ve never visited, you already owe me $2.99. I’d immediately quit reading if I were you.
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This week’s Saturday Reblog touched briefly on the minimum wage issue. In light of current events and the passing of Labor Day (that sounds about right) I wish to expound on this topic a bit more. My goal is to make a couple of points that I think are patently obvious that I haven’t quite seen before, not that I’ve looked very hard. –Ed.
The Federal minimum wage is $7.25 per hour. This minimum rate of pay became effective way back on July 24, 2009, as part of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). That was over four years ago.
Like practically all business laws in this country, the FLSA law provides plenty of exceptions and loopholes in favor of business. The standard practice is to make laws that appease the mindless masses by rendering them toothless. If the law was a ravenous tiger it wouldn’t even be able to gum anyone to death.
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It’s another Feckless Friday so I’ve decided to riff on a theme. Today’s theme: Us and Them – Workplace Style.
“Us” is those who work. Those who do what they are supposed to do as productive members in this society. The we who produce goods and services. Why, without us, there would be a lot less widgets in the world. Imagine a world without so much plastic fake vomit and whoopee cushions and what not? Shudder.
“Them” is those who profit from the labor of others. You might think of them as the 1%. The political elite. The bankers and CEOs. The people who work the least and benefit the most from a system designed to convert the Earth’s resources into profits for a few. Or, on a more personal level, you may choose to put this face on someone must more close and personal like the boss.
I recently had my “Aha! Moment” (sponsored by Mutual of Omaha, a fucking insurance company of all things). I tweeted my great moment of clarity and awareness and the world took no notice. Nary a retweet. Nay, not even a star. As your humble proprietor here in the Abyss, I reserve the right to shove my unloved tweet in your face:
Okay. Enough about that. What else is going on in the world of economics, work, labor, job and bosses? Remember, I did promise to riff. I guess I’d better get on my black velcro-strapped riffin’ shoes. I’m about to boogie down.
Warning: It’s quite possible I don’t really know what “riff” means.
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True. The tweet above had absolutely nothing to do with this post. It was actually about me going insane. (A very worthy topic.) But not, alas, the topic for today.
Instead, the word “stream” caught my fancy. Yes, I’ll admit. At first it was in a “don’t stand under this” sort of way. But then my thoughts turned to things like revenue streams and product streams. While in that place, I wrote the following little ditty (sung to the tune of The Streets of Laredo):
As I walked out with my Wall Street Journal
As I walked out with my Journal one day
I spied a rich douchebag with a bad hairpiece
A hairpiece as fake as the the caring I feigned.
I see by your outfit that you are a douchebag
I see by your hairpiece that you’re a douchebag, too
I think we should do business we’d both make a killing
There are lots of dumb marks that we can both screw.
We both love money so much that we eat it
We both use work to avoid our home lives
A partnership formed in our quest for more profits
To chase that worthy dream we’re both willing to lie.
Oh cheat and lie and gray the lies lowly
We’ll giggle and laugh as we roll along
Take it the bank and pull the wool o’er
If wealth is right we don’t ever wanna be wrong.
I’ve got greed in my chest and so I must lie.
This sad story is one about the “free market.” Yeah, that free market. You know the one, right? The one that people on the right love to ejaculate about so much? Yeah, that one. This story will provide a glimpse of insight into how that sucker really works.
It started with a phone call…
“Hello, this is Blowhard.” (That’s my boss! And no, that’s not his real name.)
“Hi, this is Madame X with Acme-Fun-Time Distribution.”
Madame X (not her real name) is a representative with a product distribution company. Blowhard has been courting a business relationship with her for some time. It’s very important to him and he worked very hard to build it up. He milks her for information that she probably shouldn’t share. When they met at the convention in Vegas, she took him out to dinner on the company credit card. When he recently toured their plant, she arranged to have his room paid for and got him the all-you-can eat buffet for free. He was as happy as a pig in shit. His two greatest loves are free and food, and she went and gave him both.
You’d think he’d be nice to her after that, right?
“Hey, Blowhard. I need to ask you a question. Have you ever heard of a company called Decepto International?”
My boss didn’t miss a beat. When lying becomes a way of life, you get real good at it. “Nope. I’ve never heard of them.”
I love it when chickens come home to roost.
“Oh,” she said. “That’s a bit odd. You see, they have the exact same address as you.”
Uh oh!! The jig is up! One of our dummy companies just got busted. It turns out that the boss greedily used the dummy company to sell products on Amazon.com but forgot to use a different address. Don’t you hate it when that happens?
Mom was right. When you tell lies, it gets increasingly difficult to keep things straight. Obviously, since my boss was hatched, he never had the opportunity to learn this lesson.
How do you show someone that you respect them and care about them in the world of business? Yup. You lie unabashedly right to their face. Classic.
You see, Blowhard had set up a dummy company to purchase products from Acme-Fun-Time Distribution. He did this after his main company had been blacklisted by certain product manufacturers. He was blacklisted for selling products at prices lower than manufacturers wished. Yes, this cousin of “price fixing” is alive and well here in the United States. For more about this, see my earlier post entitled “Term Stomping” and Wikipedia’s page on “resale price maintenance.”
I guess most people would feel somewhat shamed after getting caught red-handed in a lie like that. Not my boss. Not when money is involved.
I could only chuckle at how he had just taken a major shit on the relationship he had worked so hard to build. Oh, they’ll still do business with us. After all, that puts coin in their pockets. And that’s the way the game is played. You deceive me, I’ll deceive the manufacturer, and we’ll all make money.
And this “free market?” It is one where product manufacturers exert a lot of pressure to maintain prices artificially high. It’s a murky world of blacklisting, contracts, gray markets, and companies ratting each other out. And, I’m willing to bet, most of the players are just like my boss.