On Saturday mornings I cook a big breakfast centered around a multi-layered frittata (dubbed Eggs Rebane in the family) and sautéed vegetables all served with toasted slices from one of my artisan breads (have baked all our bread since 1998). Jo Ann makes the coffee, cuts my vegetables, and then gets to sit down as Lynne Warfel on KXJZ plays musical hits from the movies in the background. We then start munching and dive into the morning newspapers (The Union and WSJ) with our trusty iPad at the ready for in-depth research.
Opening this morning’s newspapers for the 50Kft scan I noted two pieces in The Union that deserved a thorough read, and one little bagatelle from a local lefty that was whimsically ensconced in the ‘far right’ column of the op-ed page. There we are informed by a Ms Jane Calbreath that “capitalism is an ‘ism’ and it has created more poverty in our country over the past thirty five years, exactly because it has become runaway hoarding of wealth by the very rich, who seem to have no end to their greed.” Wasn’t quite sure how to picture her revelation – were there mattresses in big mansions all over the country overstuffed with $100 bills, gold bars galore buried in hidden concrete bunkers, …? A little googling revealed that her wisdom was acquired from the California Institute of Integral Studies and her higher learning certified with degrees in Transpersonal Studies and Organizational Development and Transformation. I leave the reader to puzzle out the kind of organizations that would pay this woman a living wage.
That little nugget served as a proper segue to Mr Darrell Berkheimer’s column. He is another one of The Union’s progressive pundits who regularly share their insights. I don’t know the man other than by his columns, and that he has authored three(?) books and “studied at Temple University”. He explains that ‘When buying power plummets’ its ripple effects draw the country into a vicious cycle that can only end in economic calamity, and presumably a crisis of governance. The causes of the current vicious cycle are the greedy employers and the ignorant rich. But take heart, Berkheimer’s curative for the whole thing is simple and comprehensive – “provide a more equitable share of profits to those who produce the products and services”. These monies, and those clawed back from overpaid management, will release the needed funds to re-establish America’s middle class with ample wages and benefits that will restore their buying power and our economy.
His poster child solution to all this is Costco which has “proven that providing good benefits and paying employees well will yield more stability” and provide “happier employees” who will “build the customer base and produce little turnover”. Unfortunately, the concept that Temple University omitted from his curriculum was the effects of sales volume and efficiencies of scale. Costco is able to pay their remaining employees so well because in their ‘big box’ business model - banned in Nevada County - their current revenue is more than $830K per employee (here and more here), with past levels having exceeded this figure. Such sales productivity levels are not possible for the thousands of smaller businesses that do not scale well and cannot command these sales volumes. And therefore these businesses must pay lower wages, or get by with a fraction of an employee, or fold. (What is more cynical is that Costco is a major contributor to Democrat causes, apparently with the understanding that the progressive elites in politics and the media don’t blow their cover to the great unwashed. To which cohort does Mr Berkheimer belong?)
Nowhere in his palliative does he recognize, let alone see the impacts of stifling government regulations, high corporate taxes, and the substitution of advancing technology for ever more burdensome human labor. As with his socialist brethren, the man’s solutions come from the mythical well of abundant unrequited altruism practiced abundantly. I complained that Ms Hodge could not connect the dots (here) in her lament about the country’s un- and under-employment. Here Mr Berkheimer demonstrates to the thinking reader that he cannot even see the dots to be connected.
To be fair, The Union also included a column by Mr Manny Montes – ‘Genesis of socialism is that of communism, fascism’ – that, while not directly addressing Berkheimer’s errors of commission and omission, attempts to give some perspective and balance to the strong liberal voices in the newspaper. And so we are informed in these tranquil foothills in this most unusual of election years.