Friday Follies

It is reported by our Advocate today that some outfit named “Accent Marketing” is closing – laying off 340 employees – up in Monroe, in the northern reaches of the state. That does balance out negatively against all that wonderful new job creation reported on just the other day – of 300 or so jobs at the merger of Embarq and CenturyTel. The Advocate did not point out the connection that there are thus Zero new jobs available in the state, then. What a wash, I guess, up in Ouachita (pronounced, apropos, roughly, Wash-it-taw.)

This is a “call center.” But there are apparently no calls to be made or taken, for the ONE client the company had is no longer a client. The client was Boost Mobile, a telephone company, which set up its own, um, telephone help service. Innovative of them, I suppose. Automated too, which means no people whatsoever – and we know how we all love talking to machines to find out what is the matter with the services we contract for. Who knows if such no-human service will negatively wash away Boost customers, and thus Boost themselves.

Now, this Accent has been open since 2007 – which should have been enough time to get a second, or a third client, no? Even a teensy one? No. However, Kelly Hilton, spokeswoman for the company said “we’re aggressively pursuing other clients.” Yes, well, no doubt they were doing so for two years, right? But it is good, no, that the “state and city have been true partners”? Why exactly the state and city are in partnership with private business is not clear, other than that they came up with the $3,200,000 needed to open up back in 2007. No word on how much Accent put up, but it seems not even enough to have their own marketing department to get a second client.

Meanwhile, it is said that the state owns the building that the company is in. Nothing like a little socialism right here at home, where government owned buildings are used to put in government funded companies with ONE client. Brilliance I say. Maybe it’s not “socialism” by name, but merely “economic development.” Who can say?

Even more brilliant is that the state expects “a portion of that incentive package will have to be refunded if the center cannot find another client.” Well, call me silly, but if a company can’t find even a second client in two years I doubt it will find one in two months – for the closing is scheduled for March. And if the company is presumably bankrupt and employeeless – where will it get the money to refund the incentive? And what portion will be repaid? And to which of the four government entities that banded together – state, cities of West Monroe and Monroe and the OECD – will any recompense go? Would have been nice to know where the tax dollars we don’t have are going to go, right? Sadly the state can’t even repossess or seize the building they are in – for it owns it already. How the state got the building which used to “house a regional center of State Farm insurance,” is unclear.

Perhaps it’s related to the fact that State Farm is begging for a 19.1% rate increase (imagine if, say, Circle K had to ask permission to raise their prices from a state board?) and it will almost certainly be denied. Which means that State Farm, unable to fund its leftover operations, might just say the dickens with it and close down what little business they have left in the state. Though they are the largest insurer in the state, and someone has to be that. The article about the 19.1% is right there on the front page of today’s Advocate – and completely unmentioned is the unused building the state has from State Farm. The entire article is about how each and every rate increase request made by the people who should know about State Farm’s business – that being State Farm – was denied by the state charm of the State Board of Insurance Regulators or some such important group of people – all run by our elected Insurance Commissioner. A politician knows running business dont’t they? They got us a ONE client company, after all, right?

Not mentioned is that three of the past four or five commissioners are in a penitentary somewhere, for the whole department has to reek of corruption – for how else does one get permission to raise prices in controlled business then by bribes, um, payments, um, contributions, um, lobbying funds, – what to call it – that’s the problem, right? — to the controllers? That’s the way it is done everywhere else in the world, why different here? Your word in Arabic today: Baksheesh – payments made to controllers for permission to get uncontrolled momentarily. What the Cajun French for Baksheesh is I don’t know. Perhaps Le Baquesheeshtee. But Baksheesh is the system of our times.

Now, if the state actually allowed State Farm to raise the rates to whatever they felt their business model required, that might induce other insurance companies to move into the marketplace with either better rates, better service, better products or other incentives. But why open to do business in a highly regulated environment? The logic of regulating insurance rates does escape me – other than the old standby: “the Public must be Protected.” Protected from, I suppose, rates that would cover all the contingencies of the insurance business. But we have the – and I may be bold here – fascist sort of government control of private business to the point that the “private” part is merely an appendage of the state. Not socialist ownership – just fascist control. And free market entrepreneurialism? Not to be found, uttered, contemplated or imagined. Harsh to claim that it is fascistic? Well, Mussolini, proud inventor of the concept (actually no, but certainly the perceived modern inventor,) did the exact same thing – so I’m at a loss at what else to call it.

Meanwhile, also on Page 1 – the Department of Health & Hospitals is using $66,000,000 from next year to pay for this year — “money planned for use next budget year” (Sic) (AKA, bad English) which presumably means that the money is sitting around somewhere. Though it is mentioned that the Department of Agriculture has a $90,000,000 budget from which it will pare a few expenses but not one employee – they are important I’m sure in keeping farm prices high, or sustainable, or controlled, or supported, or whatever it is they call it – which strikes me as odd since what exactly they do I’m not sure. But still – there seems a likely source of $66,000,000 by simply ridding us of a state run Agricultural Department – after all, we don’t have a state run Convenience Store Department and the convenience stores are conveniently running at a profit.

Though at least the Advocate does helpfully inform us that “One time dollars are unavailable from year to year” — Yes, well, that is the meaning of “one time” isn’t it? Good that that is clarified. But now, if the Agricultural Department was stripped of, say, $66,000,000 of its yearly $90,000,000 stipend to do not much – why, that’ll solve the one time budget problem right there, and for quite a number of years.

Why does the DHH need this money? Because the Federal Government has altered “health care policy.” And the new Health Care Taxation Reform Bill isn’t even passed yet! My my. And Landrieu can’t eke out the $66,000,000 for she already shot her load on making sure that Nebraska gets a bigger share of the federal monies for health care than Louisiana gets. What a vicious cycle, no? But they are “good federal dollars” until Big Daddy take the T-bills away.

Meanwhile, of the $8,400,000,000 in DHH funding only $1,450,000,000 is said to come from the state. And the rest from the Feds, who are cutting their share, causing the grief. And where do the Feds get their share? Why, from Louisiana. Or from some other state. Let’s say it’s from Louisiana – that means that our money took a vacation to Washington, and some of it got lost, or worse, kidnapped, up there – and Senator Landrieu could do nothing to stop the wandering or kidnapping – though to be fair – neither could Senator Vitter. Maybe if they cooperated they could get all our money back! No, for it seems they are not on speaking terms – since they are both entitled to their opinion and it seems to be different. Imagine having a Quarterback and Running Back just completely at odds on the play to run to get the touchdown and thus the other team wins. Why, the coach would be fired! Yeah.

What other team? Well, if the Fed share – oh, some $6,000,000,000 and lose change – comes from some other states imagine how much worse off they are! Why, we’re nabbing the money from the poor, downtrodden, taxpaying citizens of another state in a strict sense of fairness and equality touted as the hallmark of our Government and our times. How quaint – I wonder which state got the whammy? Not Nebraska of course, for they get all their DHH funded by the Feds. What a wonderful system of moving about the money state to state and hoping that no one notices that while in transit some gets lost or kidnapped in Washington, and goes to other states.

It’s very confusing of course. Far more confusing than if Louisiana just kept our own money. But then Landrieu could not make a deal to not only get our own money back – and at a measely $300,000,000 hardly enough to offset the loss – but she also apparently made a deal to have her brother helped to become Mayor of New Orleans, because he is so bored with his job running the state’s plantations that he seeks other employement. Or maybe he is so good at the job we hired him to do that he feels his talents should be put to good use down in river from his current office.

In one last bit of government stupidty – GM – General Motors as you know – is a wholly owned subsidiary of the We the People of the USA and Those the People of Canada – are closing SAAB – a formerly wholly owned subsidiary of the Taxpaying subjects of the King of Sweden which GM bought some time ago in a bid to be relevant in our times. No effort to develop a car anyone really likes, just buy a company from one of Europe’s Kings and hope it makes a difference. What a plan! It didn’t work, as could be expected, but they didn’t aske me. Still, SAAB is kaput. Unless – UNLESS – a partially owned subsidiary of the King of Holland buys it. One Skyper, “an exotic automaker,” wants to buy SAAB. And so does the King of Sweden – he wants to buy back his car company which GM ran into the ground. And what does GM – our government at work at this point say? NO! Audaciously, they say they are not sure that either the Kings of Holland and Sweden, or Skyper, or whoever else thinks so, can run SAAB into the ground as well as General Motors itself did – so they’re not going to sell. Thus We the People will take the loss, instead of recouping some small sum of a billion or two. Astounding really.

My advice? Take the money and run! If you are inept at running a company, and someone else comes along and wants to buy the carcass of what you are chucking anyway – take the money and run! What a bunch of morons. No word on if the US Taxpayer will get a cut of the money saved from not running SAAB any more. It’s such a SAAB story really, that I shall go out and cry. But, no, I can’t. For my tears would freeze to my face in our time of global warming. What a bunch of fools and follies of government competance. No doubt if Napolitano was in charge she’d say “the system worked.”

And in the last bit of good news – a recall petition has been started against Mary Landrieu – – yeah – let’s go get her – or least go down swinging. Maybe we can get a Senator who realizes that we should keep our own tax money at home to take care of our own issues as we perceive them – and not worry if we are going to subsidize the good people of any other great state. Nor will they, then, have to worry if we will take their money away from their problems. Hope and change, indeed.


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