Thursday, September 29, 2016

Heard this one before?

Think back to the antebellum South, in 1850.

The census of that year shows that, of roughly 660,000 households in the southern states, the 1,000 leading households of the plantation elite received about $50 million in annual income. 

The rest of the population earned only about $60 million annually.

Can you say “inequality”?

Any part of this sound familiar?


Howard Zinn, A People’s History of the United States, 1492-Present (1980; repr., New York: Harper Perennial Modern Classics, 2005), 236.

Copyright © Richard Carl Subber 2016 All rights reserved.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

What happened to the cream?....

My trusted personal advisor shared this insight about inspired management and charismatic leadership:

An acquaintance who had worked at Walt Disney World during most of the 1970s recalled that each area of the park and each attraction had a daily designated "Lead," that is, an hourly employee who was temporarily paid $1 extra per hour and had limited authority and responsibility to make on-the-spot decisions regarding any facet of that area's or that attraction's immediate need.

The “Lead” was particularly focused on the “magic,” making sure that the guests had a supercalifragilisticexpialidocious experience. If you were at Disney at that time, as a cast member or guest, you know what I mean.

This system worked pretty well, and a "higher up" manager was rarely ever called in to make a final decision.

Fast forward to 1993. Disney had eliminated its reliance on a designated “Lead” hourly worker, and, of course, stopped giving extra pay to the designees. The expectation in the executive suite was that when an on-the-spot decision needed to be made “the cream would rise to the top," in Disney management's exact words, and that a self-motivated employee would step up and make the call.

Overall, it was a huge failure. Disney execs couldn't understand why the areas and attractions fell so quickly into mismanagement, why there was extensive down time, why the "good people" quit, and why there was a notable loss of "magic" in the Park….

….ummm, d’ya think of any possible explanation?

Sunday, September 25, 2016

American elections aren’t rigged

Once again, let’s be clear on this: voter fraud doesn’t exist in the United States.

Here are the numbers:
About one billion—that’s 1,000,000,000--votes were cast in elections all over the country during 2000-2014, a 15-year sample.

There were 31 reports of possible voter impersonation fraud.

That’s 31 out of 1,000,000,000.

Here’s another way to understand that:

Say there are 500 people voting in your election precinct. The teeny number of possible fraud cases suggests that in your precinct, once every 32,000 years or so, someone might try to impersonate another voter.

We don’t need any restrictive voting laws to fight “voter fraud.”

Data from New York Times editorial, September 20, 2016

Copyright © Richard Carl Subber 2016 All rights reserved.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Better than releasing Trump’s tax returns

Trump’s hiding stuff by refusing to release his tax returns. We all know that.

The New York Times says that Trump and all his companies have pulled in at least $885 million in “tax breaks, grants and other subsidies” in New York for all of his real estate projects.

Here’s my idea: if Trump pays back the whole $885 million before November 8, I’ll stop clamoring for him to release his tax returns.

The guy’s worth billions, right? Does anybody think he couldn’t afford to do that?

The payback wouldn’t make him presidential material, but it would be the right thing to do.

Copyright © Richard Carl Subber 2016 All rights reserved.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Another legal way to stop Trump

Count on Garrison Keillor (the Lake Wobegon guy) to bring a fresh perspective to the current dangerous corruption of our political process. At, he wrote:

“A week ago, a panhandler in Times Square sat holding a sign reading, ‘Give me a dollar or I’ll vote for Trump,’ and people laughed and reached into their pockets. His bucket overflowed.”

Keep a few singles in your pocket in case you walk past that guy or someone he’s talked to.

Copyright © Richard Carl Subber 2016 All rights reserved.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Pricetag on bigotry

What does bigotry cost? Well, for starters, in North Carolina, it costs more than $200 million.

You remember this: the Republican-dominated legislature in North Carolina passed H.B.2 earlier this year, to prevent transgender people from using the public bathroom of their choice.

So far, that hateful act has cost the state and its business community and its citizens hundreds of jobs and more than $200 million in taxes and business revenues.

Why? One high-profile answer is: the NCAA canceled seven big sports events—including the NBA All Star game—that were scheduled in North Carolina this year. Another answer: Bruce Springsteen canceled a concert. Other businesses, organizations and musicians canceled performances, conventions and building projects.

Bigotry hurts. In many ways.

p.s. Really stupid bigotry hurts just as much as the other kind. This bathroom law was always unenforceable—no one ever thought the police would order sports fans in Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte to drop their pants for inspection before using the toilet.

Copyright © Richard Carl Subber 2016 All rights reserved.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Don’t vote for Johnson or Stein “to make a statement”

Paul Krugman laid it right out in yesterday’s New York Times:
"Nobody cares” if you vote for Johnson or Stein on November 8 because you want to raise the middle digit to "the system."

Krugman’s key point: Clinton or Trump will be the next president of the United
States, so “don’t vote for a minor-party candidate [just] to make a statement. Nobody cares.”

Rightly enough, he says that if you really think Johnson or Stein, and the platforms of the Libertarian  Party or the Green Party, are right for America and they should have the power of the presidency, then by all means vote for one of them.

But. Seriously.

Krugman bets that many Johnson/Stein supporters are mostly anti-Trump/anti-Clinton kinds of people, who haven’t read those party platforms and really haven’t thought through the consequences of Johnson or Stein getting to redecorate the Oval Office.

Here’s Krugman summarizing the Libertarian platform:
“…it calls for abolition of the income tax and the privatization of almost everything the government does, including education. What really struck me, however, was what the platform says about the environment.
It opposes any kind of regulation; instead, it argues that we can rely on the courts. Is a giant corporation poisoning the air you breathe or the water you drink? Just sue: ‘Where dam­ages can be proven and quantified in a court of law, restitution to the injured parties must be required.’ Ordinary citizens against teams of high-priced corporate lawyers — what could go wrong?”

Here’s my simple summary of the Green platform:
It's chock full of really good, really feel-good, and mostly unrealistic ideas that have nothing in particular to do with world trade or job creation or infrastructure investment or effective regulation of the financial markets or health care reform or bipartisan government or…..

Neither Johnson nor Stein is going to win the election.

If you strongly endorse elements of either or both of these platforms, image what will happen if Trump wins the presidency?

Krugman again: “Your vote matters, and you should act accordingly—which means thinking seriously about what you want to see happen to America.”

photo from
Copyright © Richard Carl Subber 2016 All rights reserved.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Not exactly a beach book....

I am particularly strong on urging every single person to make a best effort every day to do what’s at the top of his or her TO DO list.

So when I found out that Dr. Toby Wilkinson, an Egyptologist at Clare College, Cambridge, has published a translation of Egyptian hieroglyphics intended for a mass audience, my first thought was “Go for it, Toby!”

Now I’m having second thoughts. Roughly a couple million books are published every year. The books in my personal collection are stacked higher than my head along a wall in the basement. I haven’t read all of them yet. I think I’m going to pass on Writings from Ancient Egypt.

Here are a few excerpts, courtesy of

Letters written by a farmer called Heqanakht date from 1930BC but reflect modern concerns, from land management to grain quality. He writes to his steward: “Be extra dutiful in cultivating. Watch out that my barley-seed is guarded.”

Turning to domestic matters, he sends greetings to his son Sneferu, his “pride and joy, a thousand times, a million times”, and urges the steward to stop the housemaid bullying his wife: “You are the one who lets her do bad things to my wife … Enough of it!”

Other texts include the Tempest Stela. While official inscriptions generally portray an ideal view of society, this records a cataclysmic thunderstorm: “It was dark in the west and the sky was filled with storm clouds without [end and thunder] more than the noise of a crowd … The irrigated land had been deluged, the buildings cast down, the chapels destroyed … total destruction.”


If you were thinking maybe it would be something like “Downton Abbey,” or maybe Fifty Shades of Grey, or maybe “The Simpsons” with cats and pyramids, think again….

Copyright © Richard Carl Subber 2016 All rights reserved.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

The other boondoggler….

The horror of Trump’s lies continues.

Meanwhile, Paul Ryan is still doing his thing, inviting careless journalists to call him a policy wonk while he continues to offer the standard claptrap about helping Americans by giving more money to the super rich. pointed out yesterday that the latest incarnation of House Speaker Ryan’s “tax plan” would funnel 99.6 percent of the proposed tax cuts to the wealthiest 1 percent of Americans, according to the Tax Policy Center.

The stupefying bottom line: the 1 percenters would get average annual savings of about $240,000 per household.

Last year, the median household income for all Americans was $56,500—that’s the median, meaning half had more and half had less.

So Ryan’s tax chicanery means that the richest 1% would get tax SAVINGS equal to more than four times the amount of PRE-TAX total income that the median household earned last year.

That’s not a tax plan. That’s legalized robbery.

Let’s not even talk about what the Republicans want to do about business taxes.

Copyright © Richard Carl Subber 2016 All rights reserved.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

“Kabuki citizenship” isn’t the worst of it….

The continuing self-degradation of the media is enabling, in all too obvious ways, the shipwreck of our public discourse on politics and government.

The advent of Trump’s nativist demagoguery—and the media’s willing role in keeping him on life support—has largely legitimized the public expression of prejudicial fears and hatred and bigotry that we know have always existed, but which have been at least nominally derided by decent and/or “politically correct” folks.

The New York Times’ Wesley Morris highlighted a specific element of it yesterday in his commentary on “Who Gets to Be Called a ‘Patriot’?”  Read it here.

Morris digs in to the doctrinaire spew of the folks who lead the charge in disputing the patriotism of folks who have a different skin color or a different religion or a different political stance or a birth certificate that was signed in another country….

Such despicable bias gets all too much air time and, thus, all too much credibility among folks whose powers of reasoning too often aren’t used for full effect.

Morris offers this zinger: “As a result, modern patriotism has become Kabuki citizenship.”

The masks and the make-believe and the stylized exaggerations of sentiment are meant to be instruments of entertainment….

…not the bling of the horrifying world of Twitter morality and anonymously obscene commenters who hide behind ad hominem attacks……

Copyright © Richard Carl Subber 2016 All rights reserved.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

When the next step is a jump….

Admit it, this is the kind of thing you want to do sometimes….

Face it: this is the kind of thing you should do now and then.

If you’ve already got the bathing suit on, take the jump.

If the lake is there right in front of you, take the jump.

Just sayin’….if the door opens, and you’re thinking “Hey, this is it!” and you know it’s the chance you’ve been waiting for….

Take the jump.

Copyright © Richard Carl Subber 2016 All rights reserved.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Pay your taxes to rebuild schools

About half of all American schools were built more than 50 years ago, and they’re wearing out. Get ready to pony up your school taxes to renovate and rebuild them.

1950s school building
The American Society of Civil Engineers gives “public school facilities” a grade of “D” because of declining budgets for building maintenance, repairs and new construction.

Many of our schools are nearing the end of their useful life.

You want your kids to go to decent, safe schools, right?

You know what you have to do.
1950s school for black kids

Copyright © Richard Carl Subber 2016 All rights reserved.

Friday, September 9, 2016

The umbrella thing….

This is a little weasly, I admit it, it’s not a reason to do anything or change your mind about who to vote for on Nov. 8.

I noticed this candid picture of Trump and Pamela Bondi (Florida Attorney General). It was raining. 

They were walking together, Trump was holding the umbrella. Good show, that’s what a guy is supposed to do.

Who’s walking with the brolly centered over his head? Who’s squeezed out to the side, getting rained on?

You know what’s wrong here.

Copyright © Richard Carl Subber 2016 All rights reserved.