Unconscionable!!!

Jeff-BezosJeff Bezos, the man who co-founded Amazon and today is the CEO and 12% shareholder in the highly profitable company, has a net worth of $118 billion.  Just to make that a bit more visual, that’s $118,000,000,000.  It’s a lot of money, anyway you look at it.  Bezos is said to be the richest individual in the world.  The world.  Perhaps now we understand the source of the “Amazon smile”. Last year (2019) alone, Amazon posted $280 billion in revenue and $11.9 billion in profits.  At least they will actually pay federal income tax for 2019, unlike 2018 when they paid $0 on $11 billion in profits.

Amazon is one of the few companies whose business has surged during this time of coronavirus pandemic.  More and more people are ordering household supplies and even food that they cannot find in their local stores, or just to keep from having to spend much time in the local stores.  Amazon announced last week that they will be hiring up to 100,000 additional workers to cover the increased demand.  And yet …

Amazon maintains one of the stingiest paid sick leave policies among major corporations.  To add insult to injury, Amazon under CEO Bezos is requesting donations from their customers to cover sick leave for their employees!  Think on that one for a minute.

Amazon-donations

The man with more money than anybody deserves or needs, more money than he could possibly ever spend, is too cheap to fully cover his employees sick leave, but expects his customers, many of whom are currently laid off from their jobs, to pitch in.

As if that weren’t enough to make you want to dump a pan of hot berries on his bald pate, he also managed to profit ‘bigly’ by selling $3.4 billion in Amazon shares just before the stock market peaked in mid-February.  Can we say, insider trading?  Had he held onto those shares until this week, he would have lost $317 million … not that he’d even notice, for that’s pocket change for him.

I have been an Amazon customer since 2003, have a monthly standing order for household cleaning supplies, and frequently order other things we need, but … I’m going to start looking for alternatives.  Today!

Official Book Launch

I have BIG news! Our friend Roger, aka Heroically Bad Writer, aka Woebegone But Hopeful, has just published the second book in his series, “Of Patchwork Warriors:  The Precipice Dominions”!

Volume II picks up where Volume I left off, and according to the author … “Arketre (Flaxi) and Karlyn (Kitlin) have been making the best of diversion into a North Eastern princedom, sort of where Estonia is; they are having something of an extended working honeymoon. Trelli is settled in somewhere which might be Italy learning to cope with her powers under the tutelage of the Devoteds a very strong and tight group of women. Although separated three are soon together again wrapped up in a confusion of hidden agendas and one invasion.”

Curiosity piqued yet? Head on over to Amazon, or read Roger’s post here to find out how to get a free copy! And be sure to give Roger a big “congratulations”, for he has put a lot of blood, sweat and tears into this book.

Thanks Roger!!!

And The Winners Are …

I wrote a good bit about the republican’s tax cuts that would benefit mainly the wealthy back in 2017 when it was first passed into law.  Since then, I have only mentioned it in passing for the most part.  But today I would like to revisit the topic.  A lot of middle income wage earners are just now figuring out that it was not much more than a shell game whereby they saw a slight increase in their weekly pay, but at the end of the year, when it came time to file their taxes, they were left slack-jawed, wondering why, for the first time in decades, they owed money at year end.

If you have found yourself in that situation, take heart, for some people truly did receive a benefit from the 2017 tax cuts!  Companies like Amazon, Chevron, General Motors, Delta, Halliburton, and IBM paid NO income taxes for the year 2018!  Aren’t you happy?  Aren’t you dancing a jig?  According to the Institute for Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP), some 60 Fortune 500 corporations were highly profitable, yet paid no income tax, and in some cases even received rebates!

Take Netflix, for example.  The company earned $845 million, its highest profit ever, and paid not a single dime in income taxes.  In fact, they recorded a $22 million federal tax rebate.  Then there was Amazon who nearly doubled their pre-tax income from $5.6 billion in 2017 to $11.2 billion in 2018, yet paid $0 … that’s right Zero, Nada, Zilch … in income taxes. trump-tax-memeThe tax cuts for the wealthy in 2017 lowered the maximum corporate tax rate from 35% to 21% and allowed companies to write off the total cost of capital equipment in the year of purchase, rather than via a depreciation schedule over the course of the life of the equipment.  Look at the results for the top earning Fortune 500 companies …

Company

U.S. Income (millions)

Federal Tax (millions)

Effective Tax Rate

Amazon.com $10,835 –129 –1%
Delta Air Lines $5,073 –187 –4%
Chevron $4,547 –181 –4%
General Motors $4,320 –104 –2%
EOG Resources $4,067 –304 –7%
Occidental Petroleum $3,379 –23 –1%
Honeywell International $2,830 –21 –1%
Deere $2,152 –268 –12%
American Electric Power $1,943 –32 –2%
Principal Financial $1,641 –49 –3%
FirstEnergy $1,495 –16 –1%
Prudential Financial $1,440 –346 –24%
Xcel Energy $1,434 –34 –2%
Devon Energy $1,297 –14 –1%
DTE Energy $1,215 –17 –1%
Halliburton $1,082 –19 –2%
Netflix $856 –22 –3%
Whirlpool $717 –70 –10%
Eli Lilly $598 –54 –9%
IBM $500 –342 –68%
Goodyear Tire & Rubber $440 –15 –3%
Penske Automotive Group $393 –16 –4%
Aramark $315 –48 –15%
AECOM Technology $238 –122 –51%
Tech Data $203 –10 –5%
Performance Food Group $192 –9 –4%
Arrow Electronics $167 –12 –7%

Source: Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy                                            

Still feeling really good about that extra $20 on your weekly paycheck? Let’s take a look at your tax rates.  If you were single and earned between $38,701 and $82,500, your effective tax rate was 22%, or between $8,514 and $18,150.  Sure, you probably paid less if you had any deductible expenses, but still … look again at the chart above.

ITEP’s Five Things To Know on the One-Year Anniversary of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act:

  • The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act will substantially increase income, wealth, and racial inequality.
  • The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act will continue to substantially increase the deficit.
  • The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act is not significantly boosting growth or jobs.
  • The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act continues to be very unpopular.
  • Despite the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act’s lack of popularity and ill effects, many Republican lawmakers are calling for even more tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations.

Next time somebody tries to tell you that the 2017 tax cuts were to benefit the middle class, remember this post and tell them in your loudest voice:  HOGWASH!  And in case your blood pressure isn’t already through the roof, take a gander at this …Corporate tax cuts

😏 Two Snarky Snippets 😏

I just seem to be full of snark these days, don’t I?  These two crossed my path and I found myself unable to resist them!  I am working on a more serious piece at the moment, but these two little snippets gave me an interlude of mirth, and so I had to share them with you all!


Out of the Mouths of Babes …

huntsmanAbby Huntsman is a general assignment reporter for Fox News Channel. She currently co-hosts Fox & Friends Weekend.  In addition, Ms. Huntsman is the daughter of US ambassador to Russia and former Republican presidential hopeful Jon Huntsman.

On Saturday, Huntsman had none other than Trump’s former communications director, Anthony Scaramucci on Fox & Friends, when she said this …

“Anthony, talk to us about this moment. I mean, this is history, we are living history. Regardless of what happens in that meeting between the two dictators, what we are seeing right now, this is history.”

Did you hear it, folks???  She plainly said “meeting between the two dictators.”

The word, once spoken, can never be unspoken, and once heard, can never be unheard.  This word was heard ‘round the world, and when I read it on The Guardian, I literally let out a WHOOP!!!  GOTCHA!!!

Scaramucci didn’t catch her ‘faux pas’ either, but somebody backstage must have, for later in the show, Huntsman apologized …

“I do want to point out that earlier, as you know sometimes on live TV sometimes you don’t always say things perfectly. I called both President Trump and Kim Jong-un a dictator. I did not mean that, my mistake, so I apologise for that.”

Yeah, right, sweet cheeks!  And by the way … I have a beautiful bridge in Brooklyn for sale real cheap!

Trump, as of this writing, had not responded to Huntsman’s Freudian slip, but many others did …

“Abby Huntsman calls it a “meeting between two dictators.”  Believe it.  We are here!” – Amy Siskind

“#TwoDictators walk into a bar.  The short one says; “I like your hair”, the tall one says “did you see the size of my crowd”.”


Know your deplorables …

Quite by accident I stumbled across this little gem on Amazon this morning.

deplorables-1deplorables-2deplorables-3Yes, folks, it is a deck of playing cards featuring such utterly deplorables as Kellyanne Conway, Ivanka, Jeff Sessions, Jared Kushner, Sean Hannity, and of course, that #1 deplorable, Donald Trump himself!  At only $9.99, this is a must have!  I am considering ordering a case and giving a pack to all my friends!

Details:

Sold by A Patriotic LLC and Fulfilled by Amazon. Gift-wrap available.

Standard poker-sized (2.5″ x 3.5″) deck of 52 playing cards, plus 2 jokers

Information about a different deplorable political figure on each card

A portion of sales donated to nonprofits that support freedom of the press

The top positive review reads:

“Extremely well-done — the information is good (the pack includes citations!), the logic is solid, and the print quality is very high. The only thing this deck can’t do is self-update, but then again, every member of the Resistance can enjoy putting an X on individual cards as this feckless administration carries on with its personnel shenanigans…and as Mueller time draws nigh.”


Well, back to work for me … I hope you enjoyed these two little gems!  Have a great day!

Roger’s Book Launch — CONGRATULATIONS!

Our friend Roger Llewellyn (woebegonebuthopeful) has just published a new book available on Amazon, Of Patchwork Warriors: (Being Vol.1 of the Precipice Dominions).  While I would love to be able to write a review to include in this post, I cannot, for while I have read a few chapters here and there, as Roger posted them on his blog, my own schedule was such that I missed more than I read.  So, here is the introduction from the Amazon page:

Patchwork Warriors

“There came an era when the threat of incursion from the infernal other world realm of the Zerstorung was strong, placing the survival of entire unsettled Oakhostian Empire at risk and thus disparate forces began to marshal, to take up any cause or seize any opportunity.

There in the background The Ethereal, The Stommigheid or The Astatheia just a few names for the force which had arrived upon The World in Ages faded from record. Viewed either as a pernicious creature seeking to control, a power for good, an aspect of Nature to be treated with caution or a means to an end, it remained a constant. With an oft forgotten tendency to engage with the unwilling, the unassuming and the unruly from the ranks of lesser folk whose consequential and various struggles would unsettle many a careful plan.

This is the tale of three such, an innocent housemaid, a dutiful soldier and a self-appointed scourge of evil quite unaware the safety of an Empire would soon be resting on them.

They did not take uniformly or conventionally to the task, for that was the way of things, when involved with The Ethereal, The Stommigheid or The Astatheia.”

Though I cannot review the book as yet, I can tell you from the bits I have read that this tale is fun and the characters whimsical and delightful.  I found one who reminds me much of me … I will not tell you who … you can figure it out as you read the book.

Roger likes to make up words … he sometimes makes up words for me to use in lieu of others in my somewhat … colourful vocabulary.  For this book, he has almost invented a whole new vocabulary, words for which he helpfully provides brief explanations at the beginning.  Some are so much fun that I may take to using them on occasion, for example “Twonk – Elidian term of insult.  Means ‘fool’” (Surely I can think of a few people to call twonks!).  Or one of my very favourites “Kerfluffeg – A Karlyn word for confusion or confused” (I can use that one on myself most often!)

Roger also designed his own cover for this one, and I think he deserves kudos for both a book well-written and a charming cover.  Now, obviously, I wish all my readers would hop straight over to Amazon  and buy this book.  It is only $0.99 USD … c’mon guys, that’s less than a bottle of water!  But if you prefer, at least download the free sample and read that … at which time you will know that you must buy the book!  Or at the very least, pop over to Roger’s blog, heroicallybadwriter,  and congratulate him, for I know that he has worked long and hard on this book.

Congratulations, Roger … beautiful cover, beautiful book, and a job well done!  I will read and review as soon as humanly possible.  And thank you, my friend, for the mention on the dedication page … you brought a huge smile to my face with that!

Now readers … go check out the book!!!

Updates and Tidbits – Funny, Scary, Sad

Updates:

  • As I reported in my April 23rd post, former Speaker of the House, Dennis Hastert was to be sentenced today. The prosecution had asked for a sentence of six months, while Hastert’s lawyers argued that he was ill and should get probation.  I thought it was likely he would get probation, but … wait for it … Judge Thomas M. Durkin, after asking Hastert a number of questions, handed down a sentence of fifteen months … yes, folks, 15 months!  Granted, it is not nearly long enough to be considered justice for the young men Hastert abused, but it is significantly more than we could have logically hoped.  Though the statute of limitations had run out on his sex crimes against minors, the matter of those crimes obviously weighed heavily in Judge Durkin’s decision.  In addition, Hastert must pay a fine of $250,000 and will undergo two years of supervised probation after his release. It may yet be that Hastert will never see the inside of a prison, as he is old and unwell, and there is no doubt that his attorneys are working on filing appeals as I write this.  But Judge Durkin did his job and did it well.  Full story.
  • Follow-up to  Filosofa Rants, 26 April 2016 The City Council of Oxford, Alabama unanimously approved a new ordinance that will punish individuals for using restrooms that do not match their biological sex as stated on their birth certificate.  What is it with people south of the Mason-Dixon???  Is there something in the drinking water that kills brain cells?  Who carries a birth certificate around with them?  I can honestly say that I have never once carried my birth certificate in my pocket, nor am I about to start now.  Here is an excerpt, directly quoted, from the text of the new ordinance: “… citizens have a right to quite [sic] solicitude [sic] and to be secure from embarrassment and unwanted intrusion into their privacy while utilizing multiple occupancy bathroom or changing facilities by members of the opposite biological sex.”  They cannot even spell, yet they feel qualified to make totally unenforceable and discriminatory laws.  It also warns that “… single sex public facilities are places of increased venerability [sic] and present the potential for crimes against individuals utilizing those facilities which may include, but not limited to, voyeurism, exhibitionism, molestation, and assault and battery.”  For. Pete’s. Sake.  Each violation of the ‘law’ is punishable by up to a $500 fine or six months in jail.  I like to think that upon the first violation, a smart person will challenge it in court with equally smart lawyers and it will quickly be overturned.  But it is the south.  Full story.

Tidbits:

  • Senator Ted Cruz just committed suicide.  Political suicide.  He named Carly Fiorina as his running mate should he win the GOP nomination.  Apparently, in light of Hillary Clinton’s successes and the fact that we are all 99% certain she will be the Democratic nominee, the GOP candidate felt pressured to select a woman as his running mate to level the playing field.  What he achieved, instead, was to tilt the entire field in Donnie Trump’s favor.  If Trump feels that same compulsion to select a woman, it will likely be Sarah Palin.  I should be upset by Cruz’ utter stupidity, and for the briefest of seconds, I was.  But then I realized that Trump is headed for the nomination anyway, unless the nominating committee can pull a rabbit out of their collective hats, so it doesn’t matter much.  I was hoping, however, that Cruz could stay in the race long enough to keep Trump from gaining his magical 1,237 delegates, forcing a contested convention, and giving the powers-that-be a chance to ‘dump trump’ once and for all.  If Trump chooses Palin as his running mate, he will have equally doomed himself, though he is already doomed to begin with.  If Cruz or Trump think that selecting a woman is a running mate is the way to beat Hillary, that simply points up their ignorance of women.  Women, contrary to what Mr. Trump has already asserted, do have brains and we generally keep them right inside our heads, also contrary to Mr. Trump’s assertions.  We are not going to vote for a candidate merely because she is a woman, but because she is a woman who is qualified, whether it is for the position of president or vice-president.  Neither Carly Fiorina nor Sarah Palin are qualified for anything much beyond dogcatcher, if that.  Then again, neither is Mr. Trump.

 

  • amazon truckOnline retailer Amazon just announced the launch of a new service called Prime Now. Apparently for some, one-two day shipping was not fast enough, so with Prime Now they can get one-two hour shipping!  Two-hour shipping is free to Amazon Prime members, just as two-day shipping has always been.  Now … I have been an Amazon customer since 2003 and a Prime member since 2005.  I have always been pleased, on the rare occasions there was any problem, they went well above and beyond to make it right.  But never, not once, have I felt the need to order something and have it delivered that very day, let alone in an hour or two.  I am not sure whether to think this is consumer laziness, consumer greed, or some combination of both.  As one friend said, it is the “I want it now” mentality, and Amazon is quite good at being in tune to the needs and desires of their customers.
  • Amazon droneAmazon is also working on a future service that will see drones delivering packages.  My feelings about that are similar to the self-driving car … too much technology and too many things that can go wrong.  I can envision a drone dropping my monthly shipment of Tide pods and Clorox wipes, and coffee right on my head some morning as I step out for my morning walk!  Thanks, but no thanks!

And last, but not least … 

  • Mary Lou Bruner is running for a seat on the State Board of Education in Texas. A reminder for those who do not live in the U.S., Texas, like Alabama, is in the southern half of the U.S.  Among her beliefs are that “President Obama had worked as a gay prostitute in his youth, that the United States should ban Islam, that the Democratic Party had John F. Kennedy killed and that the United Nations had hatched a plot to depopulate the world.” I believe she has been watching too much X-Files! New York Times  Bizarre enough, but she also claims that “The GLBTQ [sic] agenda is one of the big reasons the liberals want 3-year-old and 4-year-old children to attend public school Pre-K programs. The federal government wants to indoctrinate the little children, teaching them a homosexual marriage is just as good as a marriage with a father and a mother.” And finally, “The government curriculum plans to tell the little children their parents are ignorant, and they don’t understand because of the way the parents were taught. Or the little children will be told their parents are bigoted because they do not accept Islam and gay marriage,” Oh yes, and she also believes that the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings in 2012 was a government hoax.  Try telling that to the parents of the murdered children.  Now for the really frightening part:  she was the winner of the primary, winning 48% of the votes cast.

After that last story, I am too discouraged, almost sick, to write any more tonight.  I am seriously considering renouncing my membership in the human race.  G’day.