Friday links! Richie Richer edition

Just do the right shoe—no, the left! Never mind; do them both. Hang on a second. What do you think?

God, I love it when Mitt Romney does things. Yesterday the presumptive Republican nominee went to London the way your aunt goes to a new Olive Garden: critically. While most of his remarks about the 2012 Olympics have been positive, he told Brian Williams that reports of logistical problems before the games were “disconcerting.” I hope you’re happy, Mitt Romney, because your wife’s horse is screwed now. Today is Friday, and rich people around the world will take a half day but get no less money. It’s a fantastic time to be wealthy, even if you are an asshole, and today’s link roundup is bedazzled with cash and anuses. Won’t you get it but not get it with me?

First, the good news: Caterpillar earned record profits last year, and they’re projecting an even greater windfall for 2012. The better news is they’re insisting that workers accept a six-year wage freeze. Union members at Caterpillar’s Joliet plant have been striking in protest for the last 12 weeks, but company executives—who have received lavish bonuses in the last few years—aren’t budging. “A competitive and fair wage package is a must,” operations manager Carlos Revilla said in a statement. “Paying wages well above market levels makes Joliet uncompetitive.” Caterpillar is so uncompetitive that last year, selling construction equipment in the midst of a recession, they made more money than they ever have in the history of the company. American politicians who argue that increased corporate profits mean job creation can hold me gently in their mouths.

Maybe I should say “American celebrities.” It’s hard to tell the difference anymore. Sarah Palin continued her transformation into Joy Behar Tuesday by appearing at the Beverly Hilton for an NBC promotional event. She isn’t actually involved in any NBC programming, but Todd is on a game show called Stars Earn Stripes. Those who object that Todd Palin is not a real star will be comforted to know that he will not be earning real military ranks; the show features celebrities “competing in challenges designed to emulate actual military missions.” I assume that on the first day Todd will shake hands with a man introduced to him as the show’s producer, and that man will explode. Todd will spend the rest of his life in a wheelchair, listening to his wife talk about what a great idea that show was.

Among actual policymakers, things are looking up. In a rare show of comity, Senate Republicans did not filibuster a Democrat-sponsored bill on Wednesday, allowing a tax cut for households making less than $250,000 a year to pass by simple majority. Don’t worry; it’s DOA in the House. The bill contains a tax hike on the wealthiest households, which means that John Boehner will strike it down like an insolent kitchen maid. That’s also why 44 Senators voted against it, instead throwing their support behind a bill that would extend tax cuts for the rich and allow various credits for low- and middle-income households to expire. Let Mitt Romney run on the economy; President Obama should run on taxes. There are many, many more of us than there are of them.

That being said, there are more Mitt Romney’s than there are most of us. Ben “The Angel” Gabriel sent me this video of old Mitt Romney, who is way better in pretty much all regards. He’s even a better public speaker:


Granted, at :52 he again makes the rookie mistake of mentioning when his mom ran for the Senate. Rich people who are running for public office: you must stop mentioning your relatives who were also rich enough to run for public office. It makes us feel like America has an entrenched aristocracy, and no one wants that.

Rome has no king; Rome needs no king. We only have an aristocracy of desirability, as The Onion reminds us in their brilliant—probably too brilliant—reality show parody, Sex House:


“It would be a major oversight not to cast another homosexual man,” Derek says. Casting at The Onion’s video department continues to be better than in many full-time television studios.

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  1. Maybe Caterpilar has enough people capable of long-term thinking that it doesn’t immediately increase the wages of its workers because it has a successful year. Maybe they’re aware of the business cycle and how in the next 20 years agricultural mechanization is going to reach saturation (maybe the same is true for the construction equipment they make), and they don’t want to have legacy costs that drive them into bankruptcy like happened to the auto manufacturers.

    I’m with you against income inequality. But I don’t think it’s fair to assume that a profitable company is trying to bilk it’s union workers just because they have a dispute. They might just be operating in a profitable manor, and we might just be hearing about it because a particular journalist thought this strike, above others, was newsworthy.

  2. I submit that if the disconnect between the success of a company and the success of its workers is so great that they need a wage freeze after record profits, then profit might not be so good. Surely a good system would see corporations and the people who work for them succeed at the same time.

  3. The grand bargain of the postwar (WWII) years was that workers would work hard and both management and labor would prosper. That worked for awhile.

    Then came 30 years of what Robert Reich calls The Great Divergence.

    Next Stop: Plantation Nation

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