time out for some economics…

At about the same time as New York was pointedly asking when they might expect a check, many of America’s largest corporations were receiving millions of dollars in refunded taxes from the last 15 years. This was sold as a shot in the arm for the economy. With more cash on hand corporate America would produce jobs and we’d head off that recession. Uh huh. You know corporate America, when they get extra cash they don’t turn it into executive bonuses, they make jobs.

The “incentive” plan would produce over 170,000 new jobs according to the White House. Um, do the math. Those 170,000 jobs would have a salary of 2.5 million apiece. Well, OK… I’m cheating and not including health benefits.

Just days before Enron filed for bankruptcy and laid off 4,000 people, it paid out $55 million in bonuses to about 500 employees. Those lucky 500 were “key people” that would be needed to get the company back on it’s feet when the situation changed. It was, uh, an *incentive* for them to stay. Yeah, that’s it.

This is the way it has always been. Insiders prosper, outsiders get hosed. The insiders could be born that way by carefully choosing their noble ancestors. The insiders could bludgeon they’re way to the Big Table by being more violent and sociopathic than their neighbors. Hmmmm. Must be noble blood, look how far he’s come.

Or maybe society has evolved beyond that stupid class-conscious nobility thing. I mean, we still need insiders and outsiders, but now anyone can buy their way to the Big Table. All you need is umpty gazzilion simoleons and you’re there. Anyone that is willing to work hard enough can get that. Much better than some system where just because your Dad was something you automatically become important too.

Now here’s the thing. Work with me here because it’s subtle…and do me a favor and don’t assume what I’m railing about is some feeble-minded CapitalismSocialism, poor people goodrich people bad thing. I’m back to the Root of All Evil and virtualization.

Look at all the misery that can result from numbers going up or down. At one level of perception real airplanes smashed into real buildings and killed real people. But there is a virtual reaction to that reality by a bunch of numbers plummeting because of projected perceptions. Then real people lose their real jobs to make the numbers go up again. We read about all these millions and billions of dollars whizzing around and changing hands, but are there trucks pulling up to a corporate HQ with bundles of cash? And even that would be another symbolic transaction.

At one time a noble would have to get some thugs together to kick people out of their homes, a lot of thugs if there were a lot of neighbors. At one time someone wishing to gut the treasury and move on would have to get wagons and horses and hire laborers. And even that would be a symbolic theft, because he wouldn’t be stealing a castle and food and servants and baubles and bedtime companions, he’d be taking gold… He’d have to hire a bunch of warriors to go with him so that he could keep it, and he’d have to pay some exceptionally well so that they’d keep an eye on the others.

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