June 2011

By Wink

Here is an interesting chart, from the Harvard Business School, showing the distribution of wealth in America.

it is not a complicated chart, but please focus on the top bar, because that is real. The other two are just opinions. They are interesting opinions, worthy of discussion, but opinions nonetheless.

The dark blue area represents the total wealth of the lowest-earning 20% of people who live in the U.S. The light blue is the next 20%. The red is the next 20%.

Those three categories represent 60% of us including, presumably, you and me. Our cumulative wealth is shown WAY over on the right end of the chart.

This chart didn’t surprised you, did it? You knew the top groups own almost all of everything in America. Fine, we accept that.

Look again at the chart. Of these color bands, who does the GOP most represent/protect? The orange, certainly, but most especially the yellow group.

Republicans never want to raise taxes on the wealthy. Never. They refuse to even consider removing the tax breaks that Bush and a Republican congress showered on them ten years ago.

Before the tax breaks, during the Clinton administration, the U.S. was flush. Businesses were booming, and our government was running surpluses and paying down our debt.

Bush and company would have none of that. Surpluses were ‘excess tax,’ in their opinion, and needed to be given back.

You know who they gave it back to, don’t you? Using the clever line of ‘it’s your money” they gave ‘your money’ to their donors, the very-very wealthy.

America instantly plummeted from the black into the red. Ultimately the country tanked into our current recession. (In fairness, the horrendous greed/malfeasance of home mortgage companies exacerbated our current condition.)

So President Obama agreed to bail out a few U.S. industries, including financial institutions and car companies. This was costly initially, but is slowly being repaid.

NOW the GOP wants to talk about fiscal responsibility, but not if it includes bringing tax rates back to what they were in the 90’s.

Republicans will walk out on meetings with the president, and have done so, to prevent Mr. Orange and Mr. Yellow from paying 2% more in tax than they now do. Two percent.

The GOP talks about balancing budgets, but they only really care about protecting those that ‘have.’

We pay taxes, you and I. Most likely you fall into the red or blue areas of this chart. If you do you probably can’t afford a tax accountant to find you loopholes to avoid paying tax.

Not only can Mr. Orange and Mr. Yellow afford tax accountants, they can also easily afford the congressmen who are forever protecting them.

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By Wink

Some people are born BS’ers. They love telling untrue stories. The constancy of these stories caused someone to create the phrase ‘Urban Legend.’

Long before the phrase ‘Urban Legend’ I had my own phrase for these types of tales: ‘Bar Stories,’ or ‘BS’ for short.

In any bar there is almost always one guy who can tell fabulous tales, and they all seem SOOOO believable. The other drinkers either believe the tale, or are amused enough by the story to pass it along to their friends as ‘true.’ Those friends also pass it on, and so on and so on.

No matter how idiotic a story sounds, people will believe it, and pass it along.

Each subsequent teller seems to take possession of the story. The teller is ALMOST directly involved, but not quite….

“You are never going to believe this story, but it’s absolutely true. Last spring, when my cousin was (insert Bar Story here)….”

The tale is usually a wild event, and usually happened to a cousin, someone ‘semi-close’ to add credibility. The story would be just a bit too easy to validate/debunk if the principle was a sister or mother, but ANYBODY could be this guy’s cousin. Cousins have different last names. Cousins live in other states.

One bar story is the classic ‘Hook’ tale. It goes back (at least) to the 1950’s, when horror movies became wildly popular. You know this one… Late at night a young couple is at lover’s lane. The boy leans over to kiss the girl, but is interrupted when a warning comes on the radio that a dangerous killer has escaped. The killer will be easy to spot because he has a hook where one hand used to be. To scare his date, the boy reaches out his window and starts making scratching noises on the top of their car. Frightened and angry, the girl insists on going home, so they leave. When they arrive at her home, she gets out only to find a bloody hook hanging from her door handle.

Admit it, that’s a good one… Next is a truly lame bar story, the ‘Chihuahua’ tale. It was popular in the 80’s, when Acapulco became a major destination for students on spring break…

In this one, some college girls go to Mexico for spring break. While there they spot a sad, sickly Chihuahua. The pathetic creature is so skinny that they just know it is abandoned. Since the father of one girl is a veterinarian they decide to sneak the dog back across the U. S. border to nurse it back to health. When they get to the clinic the vet has bad news for them: “This is no Chihuahua, it is a rat.”

I told you it was lame, but more than one person has related this tale to me, and in each case one of the girls was a cousin of the person telling me the story. More than one person I know has had a girl cousin that this happened to! An astonishing coincidence!

There are hundreds of these stories, looping and looping around.

I have heard many of these tales. Now my personal ‘BS-detector’ goes off whenever I hear something that is too fantastic to be true.

——————

I actually love stories like these. Storytelling is an art, to be celebrated, but I do begrudge anyone who tells one without fessing up to its inauthenticity.

When you tell a Bar Story, if you don’t let on that it is just a story, if you lead people to believe it is true, you are just lying.

This is a character flaw, and is uncorrectable. The people who start the stories are unrepentant, and just love jerking around gullible people.

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A ‘friend’ in college did this all the time, but with a twist. His stories were rarely outlandish. He was a talker, with tons of interesting or funny stories. Many were true, but many were not. He NEVER let you know which was which. I was young and naïve, so I had no reason to believe they weren’t true. I had never met anybody who was so comfortable lying all the time.

It is because of him that I developed such a sensitive ‘BS-detector’.

———————

In fairness, my personal ‘BS-detector’ is not always right.

I heard about a man who always played the lottery, and always picked the same lottery numbers. One time he forgot to purchase a ticket, and that is the time those same numbers came up. Seeing he missed out on a fortune, he killed himself.

I assumed this was a Bar Story too. It had all the markings, but Snopes says it is true.

God Bless Snopes.

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