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It’s Time to Ditch Abusive Corporate Management Styles

What is a Cycle of Abuse?

In mid-October of 2008 I left a job that provided me with health insurance, a 401k, life insurance, and a regular income because I just couldn’t stand to do the work for one single minute more in good conscience. But beyond that, I realized that by staying in that particular work environment, I was legitmating a management style that is based on something psychologists refer to as a ‘cycle of abuse’.

What is a cycle of abuse?

In the first part of the cycle, the abuser, frustrated by factors often totally unrelated to his/her relationship to the abused, lashes out in a negative way through violence, harsh and/or unwarranted criticism, or verbal and/or emotional abuse, (such as swearing, demeaning put-downs, withholding praise and affection when it is clearly warranted, etc). Unreasonable expectations are often placed on the victim with harsh penalties for not meeting these expectations. This kind of treatment leads to a crisis of confidence and an erosion of the Continue reading It’s Time to Ditch Abusive Corporate Management Styles

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Use It Up, Wear It Out, Make Do

Use It Up, Wear It Out, Make Do

Rejecting the Consumer Economy

As Wall Street continues to fret and fuss over whether or not Americans will return to spending money we don’t have on cheap crap we don’t need, I would like to offer an idea that’s been nagging at me for a couple of years now:

How about we just knock it off?

Seriously, maybe it is at least possible that a “consumer driven economy” is complete madness and the time has now come to admit it and get real.

I recently accepted a paid project ghostwriting an E-book on 100 Money Saving Recipes for a website that aims to help people through the coming recession by sharing common sense solutions most of our grandparents took for granted. I quickly realized that most of the consumer-madness that has been driving the US economy is a fairly recent form of insanity.

For example, when I was growing up in the late 50s and early 60s, buying convenience foods was considered to be just a step up away from killing puppies and sleeping in your own vomit after a night of debauchery. No woman in my extended family would have been caught dead making Pillsbury canned biscuits. To this day, I can make biscuits, cornbread, pie crust, and muffins without a recipe, in about 3 to 5 minutes, tops.

So what, you say. (Thanks Dick Cheney.) Well, so, a dozen big biscuits made from Continue reading Use It Up, Wear It Out, Make Do

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The Price Of Oil

The Peak Oil Crash: Eight Ways to Survive the Coming Hard Times

What to Be Doing When No One Seems to Be Doing Anything

While the 2008 political candidates argue about whose ads are dirtier and whose friends are more suspect, while Obama bowls badly and Hillary knocks down Jello shots and McCain forgets who is fighting whom in Iraq, ordinary working Americans are losing interest and are instead quietly freaking out.

Americans have good reasons to be freaking out.

The price of oil breaks a record every other day, literally. Gas is nearly unaffordable and is beginning to spike the cost of food. A worldwide food shortage is well underway and haunts the news nightly. Costco shoppers are already hoarding so much rice (entire pallets in some cases) that Walmart is now rationing large bags of rice to one per customer per visit at its Sam’s Club outlets. They warn that flour and beans could well be next if people don’t knock it off.

How did this happen? Why isn’t it being talked about more directly? It might surprise you Continue reading The Price Of Oil

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100 Tips for Recycling Your Useless SUV

Gloat? Who, me?

A couple of weeks ago I was walking Rocket, our Malamute dog, which is pretty much what I do every day after I get home from my slave shift at the cube farm. Looking both ways at the four-way stop at corner of the suburban block on which we live, I confirmed the way was clear and stepped into the intersection.

Immediately a HUGE SUV jolted to a stop inches from me and the dog. Where did it come from? Who knows! Where do any of them come from? I stopped too, right there in the middle of the street, and stared right into the dull, dead eyes of a well-dressed young woman talking on a cell phone. She barely registered the fact that she had nearly killed me and my dog, and continued to talk on her cell phone as if nothing had even happened.

Then I said a really bad word that described her and her mother in an unflattering, even vulgar way. Continue reading 100 Tips for Recycling Your Useless SUV

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Top 10 Most Annoying Office Traditions

Annoying Office Traditions

Annoying Office Traditions
Annoying Office Traditions

Fix Yourself Up Will You?

Today at work we all got one of those e-mails–or more accurately, about six of those e-mails–about an impending visit by a corporate manager, reminding us of the time and date of the visit and insisting that everyone be on their best behavior, have their desks spotless, and be dressed up. In other words, don’t be yourself, be some other anal, overdressed person for a day or two, and then once this guy leaves we’ll let you know.

Don’t you just hate that?

I got to thinking about how many times I’ve received an e-mail like this one over the course of my working life, and I realized that this particular e-mail is only one of a number of office traditions that just really chap my ass. I thought laying them all out would make a good hub.

Hopefully I can think of ten of them. Here goes:

(Feel free to add any of your own favorites.)

#10 Quick, Everyone Act Professional

You know, if you have to alert your staff a day in advance to tell them to dress correctly, clean the yogurt off their keyboards, put away the Office Space posters and defaced photos of the CEO, and remember to wear shoes, then chances are you aren’t really fooling anybody anyway. If, on the other hand, you already have a professional, hard-working staff, why insult their collective intelligence by sending out a notice instructing them all to please keep their fingers out of their butts for a given day so you will look better to Mr. Fancypants?

If you are the sort of manager who sends out this kind of memo, you can be sure that no one cares if you look Continue reading Top 10 Most Annoying Office Traditions

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How China Provoked the Fannie Mae Freddie Mac Bail-Out

Fannie Mae Freddie Mac Bail-Out

China Bail Out Money
Fannie Mae Freddie Mac Bail-Out

China’s Place in Our Economic Ecosystem

Today the thing that we were assured would never actually happen, happened: The U.S. government took mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac into conservatorship–a fancy way of saying that U.S. taxpayers are now on the hook for as much as $500 billion in bad debt.

Wall Street responded with relief and a rally of 2% in one day. How long-lived this rally will be remains to be seen. Wall Street has been nothing if not volatile this year: Up 2% one day, down 3% the next. Whatever happens next, expect to hear the phrase “Fannie and Freddie were just too big to be allowed to fail,” lots of times in the coming weeks from all sorts of public figures as they pat themselves on the back and reassure a jittery public that this is absolutely the right move and it absolutely had to be done.

What you might not hear quite as often, if at all, is an explanation of precisely why it Continue reading How China Provoked the Fannie Mae Freddie Mac Bail-Out

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Lehman Brothers, AIG, Wamu, Merrill Lynch: Get in Line, Folks, Here We Go

Lehman Brothers Expected To File for Bankruptcy

As I write this, it is Sunday night on Wall Street, but most of the major players in that neighborhood are having a less than restful weekend. After calling an emergency meeting of the heads of major Wall Street investment firms in a frantic attempt to get them to pool their resources and thereby broker a sale of the troubled investment firm Lehman Brothers, Federal Reserve Chairman Benjamin Bernanke has so far failed to pull another rabbit out his hat. No more bail-outs, no more rabbits: that hat is so empty you can hear the wind whistling through the graveyard if you put your ear to it.

It looks like Lehman will be going belly up tomorrow.

That’s a problem. It’s a problem because the U.S. government just took over the two largest mortgage firms in history: Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac; in an effort to reassure jittery foreign investors who were starting to pull out of U.S. mortgage backed securities thus causing a global slowdown. No sooner were foreign investors calmed, than things went sour again.

Fannie and Freddie, it turns out, were cooking the books even more flagrantly than suspected. The amount of bad debt that American taxpayers have to shoulder will almost surely be much bigger than anticipated. In spite of that fact, the Bush administration made the controversial decision today not to include the Fannie/Freddie mess in the national debt, which is already twice Continue reading Lehman Brothers, AIG, Wamu, Merrill Lynch: Get in Line, Folks, Here We Go

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Can You Trust the News?

Can You Trust the News?

Can You Trust the News
Can You Trust the News

Propaganda & the Corporate Agenda

Does the mainstream media use “moral panic”, “truthiness”, and “the wisdom of repugnance” to press an agenda? If so, what agenda? Is this propaganda?

Over the past ten or fifteen years, the U.S. economy has witnessed a feeding frenzy of corporate mergers and acquistions. We’ve seen this trend in the banking and financial services industry with regional banks changing ownership every year or two, and we’ve seen it in the telecommunications industry with all the Baby Bells being eaten up by AT&T after AT&T was first broken up into, well, all the Baby Bells.

Many companies that used to be locally owned no longer exist, bought up or driven out by corporate interests. Bookstores are a good example of this. Ten years ago a few independent bookstores were still holding onto their status by selling products that were not books. Now most of them are long gone, eaten up by Barnes and Noble or just boarded up and out of business.

Book distribution centers also used to be locally owned. Now only a couple of corporate players remain nationwide, and only two main distribution centers exist: one west of the Mississippi and one east of the Mississippi. These huge distribution centers give deep discounts to corporate retailers, thus making competition by small, local players impossible.

Not only have the major distribution centers driven out most of the small bookstores, they have also drastically reduced the power of small presses to distribute lesser known authors and titles. First, almost no small bookstores remain to buy these titles directly from the small presses that would otherwise print them. Second, the two big distribution centers offer the best deals and deepest discounts only on titles that major publishing houses consider to be potential best sellers, effectively cutting out the viability of small presses altogether and reducing variety.

So, while you can sip a latte while browsing books at Barnes & Nobles, what you can’t do is find the variety and unique selection that used to be available at smaller independent bookstores. At B & N, you will find books Continue reading Can You Trust the News?