Saturday, February 28, 2015

Really Bad Haiku

I want to stab winter with a fork

Die, monster! Die!


Thursday, February 19, 2015

You're Just Minutes Away from Being Business-Friendly!

Inspired by the famous J.F. Kennedy quote (“Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country”) and Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner's new favorite thing, I have spent considerable time wondering how you and I can become more business-friendly.

A bit of disposable income would seem to be the obvious answer, but then our employer's CEO would starve to death.

So that's out.

Undeterred, I have endeavored mightily to create four paths employees can take to ensure their employer remains healthy and wealthy, while simultaneously keeping the executive suite corpse-free.

1. Lease your office space. This would be a revenue torrent if every working American agreed to rent their desk, chair, cubicle, workstation and office equipment from their employer.

Imagine our corporations and chief executive officers, gloriously lifted into the trillion-dollarsphere! 


This is just a missed opportunity. Bleeping golden as a former Illinois governor would have said.

2. Pay to work. Traditionally, Americans have expected to be paid for their labor. This needs to stop. Have you ever considered what your employer's bottom line would look like if you paid for your employment?

Would there even be enough zeros in the mathematical spectrum to measure the annual windfall?

Again, this is a missed opportunity that demands a feasibility study. Or an urgent inter-office memo.

Either one works.

3. Volunteer. You've always suspected you were a non-profit organization. Here's your chance to make that a reality.

Like the previous suggestions, this might provoke concerns about your survival, but that's just being selfish. We're talking the greatest good for the greatest number here. Kind of.

Give till it hurts.

4. Slave labor. The problem with volunteers is they can leave. Slaves can't. And enabled by a stable workforce, business can plan and project. The better to build an indomitable empire upon the backs of a resource they know will be available—regardless of economic conditions.

Nothing says 'continuity' like shackles and leg irons.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Happy Valentine's Day

Like WABC once did in New York, Chicago now has its very own Cousin Brucie. But instead of spinning records, our Cousin Brucie spins facts. 

You see, our Cousin Brucie is governor.

Bruce Rauner is a billionaire vulture cap, er, venture capitalist, who assumed office by outspending and relentlessly trashing his opponent. Like so many of these things, last year's gubernatorial election was a choice between tepid and not-so-hot.

Cousin Brucie was always a little short on details, at least when they didn't concern the atrocities committed by the previous administration. Which is why his Valentine's Day gift to the workers of Illinois is such a surprise.

You see, Governor Rauner wants to give workers—drum roll, please—the right to work. That might sound a little redundant and confusing, buts that's only because it's supposed to.

In that cunning way Republican wordsmiths have, they take an idea, cloak it in a deceptive-sounding name and make it sound like the most patriotic and sensible thing ever. 

The right to work? Gosh. That just makes my chest swell with pride. I want to run to the nearest window, fling it open and shout “I am an American, dammit! And I have the right to work!”

Okay. Deep breath, LPG.

If you aren't aware of it already, Republicans are cold. And where you have cold and water (which Illinois does), you frequently have icebergs. And the sneaky thing about icebergs is that most of their mass is underwater.

So while you're coming in for a closer look, BOOM! The part you couldn't see punches a great big hole in your boat, and now it's sinking. I hope you're in compliance with local nautical safety codes, because you're going to need a life jacket.

And let me tell you: the patriotic affirmation offered by Right to Work proponents is one big, freaking iceberg.

It seeks to destroy unions. It seeks to destroy them by eliminating the source of their support, which is M-O-N-E-Y. 

Contrary to just about everything Republicans have done for the past one-hundred years, they will offer workers something for nothing, but only as long as they agree to slit their own throats. Workers can theoretically enjoy union benefits without paying union dues. 

But I say theoretically because guess what happens to a union when no one is paid to represent it?

That's right. It dies. Which is the whole idea.

This is a spectacularly good thing for Republicans and businessmen. And who doesn't want that?

Another benefit of de-funding a union is that you also eliminate an important source of income for the Democratic party. Still another is that when wages in a union-free environment fall, profit margins zoom, further concentrating wealth in the hands of the already well-off.

You don't have to squint very hard to see the outcome.

Do you know what Feudalism is?

Of course, Cousin Brucie isn't admitting any of this. He's sticking to script, and spinning Right to Work as a legitimate plan to strengthen Illinois' economy and boost its regional competitiveness.This despite a complete lack of supportive data. 

It's not union-busting. Honest.

But it's worth noting that at numerous campaign fundraisers last year, Rauner stressed to donors his urgent desire to lower the minimum wage. Not maintain it. Not raise it. Lower it.

The great poet Maya Angelou once said “When people tell you who they are, believe them.”

The governor doesn't want to restore the economy of Illinois. At least not yours. No, he wants to make Illinois “business-friendly”, which is code for an open house free-for-all where profits are high and costs are low and the skies are not cloudy all day.

So. Have you figured out what Feudalism is yet?

I can't wait for Labor Day.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Lions and Tigers and Unions! Oh My!

You have, in the optimistic parlance of the day, reinvented yourself as a bus driver. There is great exposure to risk and liability. Stress. And a wondrous assortment of unusual smells. There are no benefits—unless you count the olfactory stimulation.

Applicants must undergo extensive background checks, as you have regular contact with children, the elderly and the developmentally-disabled. 

It would be a public relations disaster to have a sex offender stopping by the local high school or assisted living facility. Or someone with domestic violence complaints collecting residents at a shelter for battered women.

And who wants that? 

Not you.

So yes, it's tough getting in—like a country club.

Not surprisingly, the help wanted sign out front is permanent. But despite the rigorous entry requirements and the risk, the pay is low. Turnover is high. There is a very peculiar dynamic at work here.

If there is such a thing as a living wage, yours would be on life-support. It is a frequent topic of discussion, or more specifically, grousing, among your co-workers.

While the grizzled types with whom you work enjoy the semi-autonomy of being on the road, they wonder why call-takers, nestled inside cozy cubicles with very little exposure to risk or liability aside from the occasional raised voice, make more money.

It doesn't add up.

But neither does your co-worker's refusal to consider the union option—until you realize the majority of them are pick-up-truck-driving, climate-change-denying, dyed-in-the-wool Republicans.

And if unions aren't the first step to a socialist hell, they are mafia-run crooks. Just ask a teacher. Or a cop. Or LeBron James. They'll tell you.

In the eyes of your co-workers, it is better to accept the status quo. Or continue to grouse. Either is preferable to incipient socialism. You wonder if they recognize the similarity between their circumstances and the income disparity ravaging the country.

You doubt it.

The important thing is you/we/they don't unionize. That would be destructive. And socialist. Just ask Rush Limbaugh. Or Fox News. Or the boss. They'll tell you. 

You attempt to impart the idea there is no prison so confining as closed-mindedness. But despite your co-worker's demonstrated ability to receive information on evolving traffic conditions over the company-provided radio, this falls on deaf ears.

Owing to the nature of the position, it appears that for the time being you have little choice but to take this sitting down.


Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Letter to a Terrorist

Dear Middle-Eastern Terrorist,

I won't refer to you as Muslim or Islamic, because you have the same connection with that religion that I, a white, non-Muslim infidel does.

But I will say that I totally get you. Like, I am passionate, too.

I just love the way John Bonham's drums sound in “When the Levee Breaks”. And Roger Daltry's scream just as the dam holding back the torrent of the Who's musical fury gives way in “Won't Get Fooled Again”.

And the way Bob Dylan experiments with his phrasing on a good night while singing a song he's sung hundreds—if not thousands—of times. And the Beatles' ascendant voices during the intro of their remake of the Isley Brothers' "Twist and Shout".

And who among us has remained unmoved by the cowbell that introduces “Honky Tonk Women”? It just rocks!

But there are some things I don't get. 

Like why you guys are such pussies. I mean, what's with the face covering, anyway? Did you just moisturize or what?

It's like you're embarrassed to be sociopaths hiding behind the skirts of religion as you feed your true passion, which is beheading children, raping women and setting fire to guys in cages who, thanks to your barbarism, have long since lost the will to live.

Come on.

If Jamie Dimon over at JP Morgan - Chase Bank has the chutzpah to come out and publicly whine about how rough it is to be a twenty-first century banker—even as he makes billions of dollars and essentially dictates policy to America's government—can't you come out and likewise own your passions—such as they are?

It's just really hard to respect you, otherwise.

Even as one with an admittedly faint sense of patriotism, nothing arouses it as does your petulant campaign of coercion, callousness and cowardice. You are the political equivalent of a seven year-old who was denied the use of his iPhone because he didn't eat his vegetables. 

Weren't you breast-fed? 

Perhaps you are a middle child.

Be the man your overheated harangues say you are. Strip away your masks. Show us who you really are. Besides, is it not a bit ironic to realize that in the end, we want the same thing? Does not each of us want to see you reunited with Allah as soon as is humanly possible?

We could even send along some Astroglide and Viagra for those 40,000 virgins. You know. Just in case.

Think about it. You know where to find me.


La Piazza Gancio