Friday, March 24, 2017

Trader Joe's; Your place for wine?

Got a Trader Joe's near you?  Like to drink wine.  Read on. You might just learn something that can be of benefit...

You might not be aware that Trader Joe's is America's largest purchaser of bulk, finished, aged, ready-to-drink, but as-yet unbottled wine.

Didn't know that, didja?

Well, it's true.  And here's why.  Wineries never, that would be never, make exactly the right amount of wine.  They either make too much of it, presupposing that they will have the market demand for that quantity, or too little, presuming that you and me will not want as much of their glorious liquid as we actually do.

So what do they do if their production falls into either extreme?  

If they make too little, they then buy up some grapes from fellow vineyards to supplement their underproduction, turn those grapes into wine, and then plant some more grapes for future needs.  

Or if they make too much, they then either, (a), create a second channel of wine, such as another brand just below their usual quality and price of product.  You know of this whether you've thought of it before or not. Think of Beaulieu Vineyards.  They have regular, inexpensive BV wines at $7 or $8 a bottle.  Then they offer "BJ Coastal" at a couple of dollars more per bottle.  And then they feature "BV Napa" at $13 or $14 a bottle. Or, you can opt for "BV Tapestry," which is really special, for around $35 a bottle.  And lastly they offer their top-tier, super fantastic, "BV Georges de la Tour," which is one of the very best wines made in America.  It goes out for upwards of $125 a bottle.  You can often find it at Costco or Sams, on the other hand, for as little as $75 - $80 a bottle. 

If you ever have need of a really special present for a very important someone, who really likes good red wine, consider a bottle of this amazing stuff.  They will be overjoyed.  

By the way, Georges de la Tour was a Swiss viticulturist who ventured to Napa, CA way back in the late 1800's.  He decided that the Napa area had the perfect climate to grow Cabernet Sauvignon, very similar, as it was, and is, to the area around Southwestern France where Cabs are usually made.  And thus, he was the first to plant it in California.  For doing so he's recognized as the guy who actually started what would become the internationally recognized craze for California wines.  But back to our story...

Other wineries that offer two or more tiers of wines would include Coppola, Sebastiani and Kendall-Jackson Vineyards. Ever heard of "Screaming Eagle?"  That's the iconic small-production winery in Napa's Stag's Leap, ultra-special growing area that limits its annual production to only 500 cases a year. The uber-rich swells stand in line to buy this stuff for as much as $350 a bottle.  They offer no wine clubs, no pick-up parties, and no discounts to anyone.  They're waaaaay to cool for that! Yet, they always sell out.  

But that doesn't mean they only make what they can sell. They ALWAYS make more than their self-limited 500 cases a year.  What do they do with the excess?  They bottle it under another brand, called "Whispering Dove."  Get it? "Screaming Eagle" becomes "Whispering Dove?"  And the price?  $40 a bottle at discount wine stores or on line.  Nice to know this stuff, yes?

And (b), those wineries that find themselves with excess production prepare their extra juice as if they were going to bottle it. They add yeast, they ferment it, they put it into barrels and then they sell it as "bulk wine."  It is their normal wine, ready to age, and then ready to bottle and drink.  But they don't need it, so they sell it.  And where they sell it is at wine auctions.

The premier wine auction in America is conducted monthly under the clock tower on the Embarcadero in San Francisco. Those in need of excess wine, but who have decided they either don't have the time to produce it from grapes, their own or someone else's, or don't have the time or production capacity to do so, buy the juice at these auctions. And they can score some serious wine at favorable prices by doing so. And the Number One Buyer of this excess juice is Trader Joe's.

TJ's has as many as 9 distinct brands they use to bottle this juice. Some are labeled simply as "Trader Joes" wines. They may call it "Trader Joe's Select," or "Premier," or "Reserve." But some aren't.  One such "aren't" is "Tribunal."  It is usually their very best bulk wine, and by my reckoning, is always superb. And it just might be a really special wine that you usually couldn't afford if bottled by the winery that sold it under their own label.  

Recent bottlings of "Tribunal" contained "The Prisoner," by "Orin-Swift Wine Company.  This wine goes out at a retail of $39.99 a bottle at the winery.  And it's delish!  I've bought cases of this stuff from TJ's and loved every drop.  And the cost?  $9.99 a bottle.  In fact, almost all their house brands sell for this not-so-princely sum.  And all are great buys. Just remember this:  Trader Joe's makes no wine, either "before its time," or after.  It BUYS all its bulk wine from others, and then contracts with area wineries to bottle it for them at other-than-peak bottling periods.  

Soooooooooo, cheap juice, coupled with cheap bottling, creates cheap...but expensive tasting, wines.  And wines you should check out.  

How did I learn this stuff?  Having a wine budget quite a bit smaller than my taste buds, I'm always on the lookout for some great values in wine. So I got to know the Wine Managers at several Trader Joe's.  They are happy to inform and delighted when their customers show an interest.  

And believe it or not, some of them didn't even know about this process. But they DO know the best wines they offer, the true specials, and they'll clue you in if you get to know them as well.  They offer great wines at great prices. But they also offer even greater wines under their own labels at super prices.  

The moral of this story:  We can all drink like we're rock stars, even if we can't hit a lick on an axe and don't have access to their fat bank accounts.  A word to the wise should be sufficient... 

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

The Mexican-American War, Part Deux...

I have the answer to ending illegal immigration from Meheeeeeeeeeeeko, our jolly good neighbor to the south.

And to every other problem we've had with our cousins "down there," for that matter.

Yes, my friends, and you are my friends, the Number One (or Two or Three, maybe) topic of conversation around Foggy Bottom these days is ending the flood (trickle? stream? rivulet?) of illegals pouring over the border between us and Meheeeeeeeko. Our newly-minted Prez Trump has promised to put an end to that gusher and then get rid of the criminal illegals who are laughing at us for being so stupid as to allow them to come here so easily, commit crimes and then hang out unimpeded.  I'm keeping my fingers crossed that he comes through on that promise.  

But whether he does or not, building a wall won't stop it. They'll get over it, or under it, or around it. But for sure, they'll manage to come here and screw us and our beneficence. It's always been that way.  It likely always will.

But I, The Chuckmeister, have a plan.  Yes, my friends, A PLAN!  I have a plan to fix this whole sordid mess, right now, before anybody else pulls up their pantaloons and wades across the Rio Grande.  And before anybody else gets one of our jobs, and before anyone else starts illegally receiving Gummint benefits, and before another illegal gets a drivers' license here in the once-Golden State of Taxifornia, and then votes.  So, here goes...

I have a friend who owns a Chevy dealership.  I've spoken with him and he has agreed to loan me six or seven good, used Suburbans. Suburbans, as you know, are really, really big SUVs that can hold like 7 or 8 beefy guys.  

I have another friend who owns a gun store.  Yes, I am a gunner, and I enjoy punching holes in pieces of paper with high-powered rifles and pistols.  And my friend has lots of those shiny, powerful things hanging around his shop.  And he's agreed to loan me several AR-15 rifles and some Baretta 92-S pistols, and lots and lots of ammo, only blanks, of course, to go with both.  

And I have yet another friend who owns a bank.  And he's upset at illegal immigration and wants to do something about it.  And he thinks I can help.  And he's willing to front me $250,000 in fresh, uncirculated $twenties, which I can put to good use.

Yeah, I know, I have a lot of friends.

And what I intend to do with those Suburbans and rifles and pistols and crisp, new $20's will be the stuff of legends. LEGENDS, do you hear me!

I have a bunch of old, overweight friends with high blood pressure who served in that unpleasantness known affectionately back then as the Viet Nam War. And they're pissed!  Pissed that they were so taken for granted by the country they served so loyally, and pissed because the country they love so dearly has become a magnet for Meheeeeeeko's poor, and pissed because they miss all the action!  You know, bullets flying, ducking and bobbing and weaving, digging foxholes and then hiding in them, etc.  And they're pissed because America of today is nothing like the America they risked their lives to protect and serve.  

The "entitled" generation wants lots of free stuff for doing nothing. Our vets are already pissed about that.  But illegals pouring over the border and taking Americans' jobs, and causing all sorts of crimes and causing lots of grief, has left the Viet Nam Vets upset and ready to rummmmble! And they're more than willing to do something about it. 

And so, after a little bit of training (damn little, I'm guessing!), on a bright, sunny Tuesday morning to come, or maybe a Wednesday, we'll position a Suburban, filled with coffee- and tequila-fueled old veterans, each with an AR-15 and a Baretta, filled with blanks, at one of the border crossings with Meheeeeeeko. And in each SUV there will be a briefcase loaded with brand-new $20's. At a given time, say 11:00 a.m., just about the time the sun is high in the Heavens and the border guards down there are starting to get really sleepy, the vets will gun their motors and rush headlong toward the border crossings. Say, San Diego and El Centro and Nuevo Laredo, and another four or five locations.  

Just as they begin to breach the border crossings, they'll open the briefcases, power down the windows, extract a bundle of $20's, crumple them up and begin tossing them out at the Meheeeeeekano border guards. They, being money-grubbing, underpaid civil servants, will begin scrambling on the ground and fighting with each other to pick up the money. And as they do so the Suburbans will blow past them without a single shot (blank!) being fired.  And off they'll go toward their ultimate destination:

Meheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeko Citeeee!

I'm guessing that they'll head south unimpeded because the border guards will now be tossing back tequila shots at some sleazy border bar, using all that fresh new gringo money, and will have failed to notify any of the authorities to be on the lookout for a bunch of fat, heavily-armed old ex-soldiers in SUV's.  

A few hours later the SUV's will all converge on the Capitol Building in Meheeeeeeeeeko Citeee, jump out of their vehicles and storm the Seat of Government!  Considering that most all of the elected officials who are supposed to be there are probably vacationing at one of the tony hotels in Beverly Hills, our soldiers will meet little, if any, resistance. 

And so, just before dark, they will plant the Stars and Stripes on the front lawn and take the Meheeeeeeeekan capitol without any drama at all. Not a shot being fired.  And we can then do what we should have done in 1848: Take Meheeeeeeko as part of the spoils of war.

And by that I mean we should have done that back then when the Treaty of Guadalupe Hildago was crafted.  We took "Aztlan," the giant chunk of territory north of the current border.  That area of "Nord Americano" includes half of California, all of Utah, Nevada, Arizona, New Meheeeeeko and a large part of Texas.  But it could have, and should have, included all of Meheeeeeeeko.  Had it done so we wouldn't be having all these problems today.

Now you know that Puerto Rico is owned and operated by us, the Americans.  We pay their way, we welcome their visitors, ummm, immigrants, for life, in most instances.  That doesn't include Jennifer Lopez, who's more than welcome. We put them on our food stamps. We permit them to vote in our elections.  We send them boat loads of cash when they run out.  I mean, they're basically another state.  So why not welcome another third-world country?  I suggest that we're better off owning and operating Meheeeeeeeeeko then simply trying, unsuccessfully, to keep their poorest citizens out.  I mean, after all, they're mostly here anyway, aren't they?

To be sure, you can Google the population of Meheeeeeeko and you'll discover that there's supposed to be 103,000,000 people living there. The Feds tell us that there's somewhere around 11.3 million of them living here.  It may well be more like 15 or 20 or 30 million. Who knows? We sure as Hell don't.  But one thing's for sure: Considering that there's so few of them left there, my overweight Viet Nam Vets will likely not encounter any serious resistance from them while our guys are on their way to Meheeeeeeeeko Citeee, right?

So, when it's all over, we will own this toilet of a country.  We will begin to exploit their copious quantities of natural resources, including vast oil reserves,  copper, zinc, nickel, silver and gold.  There's more than 4,000 miles of pristine shoreline surrounding Meheeeeeeeko, including up and down the Baja, and up and down the Sea of Cortez. We'll line them with Hiltons and Crowne Plazas and Holiday Inns and Best Westerns and Marriotts.  We'll then begin to hire them to work in these resorts, giving them no reason to try and break in to what was once a "foreign country." We can help build up their infrastructure, including hospitals and schools and power plants, benefiting the population that chooses to stay there versus come here.  All in all, it should be a "win-win-win."

Oh, and we'll hand back over the slightly more used Suburbans, AR's and the Barettas, plus whatever cash is left over.  And what's left?  An America twice the size, and with twice the natural resources.  And a much more stable, reasonable, reliable situation than the one we started with. 

And what might be next?  How about we then annex Canada?  I mean, there's only 25,000,000 of them up there, and they're not doing too much with a country much bigger than America anyway.  Not likely they'll put up much of a fight, considering many of them are already here anyway. I mean, if it wasn't for hockey, and people going "eh?" all the time, there wouldn't be anything to do up there anyway.  

And then where will we be?  We'll have a completely self-sufficient nation, three times its previous size, comprising all of North America. We'll be able to survive and prosper without any imports of oil, natural gas, coal, or other energy source.  No more imports from the Middle East, a place which hates us and wants us dead.  And with no more need to protect the oil fields over there, we wouldn't need to garrison troops there, and no more reason for those misunderstood locals to want to blow us up at every opportunity.  Or so they say.  

In fact, by truly exploiting the fracking revolution, we'd become the world's largest exporter of these self-same vital energy products, freeing much of the rest of the free world from the armlock Middle Eastern Arabs have had them in for decades.  Peace would break out world wide!  And with all this new energy production, and even a glut, oil would be only $10 or $15 a barrel, and the poor throughout our newly-enlarged nation would enjoy a much lower cost of living! And, there would be no more need for electric cars or solar panels or wind farms, which already cost too much to build and too much to operate. And no more eagles chopped to bits by windmills whipping around at 3,000 rpm's.  And no more giant container ships filled with oil just waiting to run aground and do another giant oil spill like the one that happened up there in Alaska.  What's not to like?

All this from a simple guy's plan to launch a preemptive assault on Meheeeeeeeko and take over the country.  

Whaddaya think, 'Murica?

Monday, March 13, 2017

Need More Proof There's a MainStreamMedia Bias?

When a new POTUS and his Administration takes over the Federal Government, it is the right and the custom to replace the previous President's political appointees.  

That's because the politics of political appointees tend to mirror those of the guy who appointed them, and thus, they might try and undermine or refuse to carry out the new POTUS' policies.

That would include the 93 U.S. Attorneys, protecting us, The People, from all sorts of evils nationwide.

Most promptly resign upon certification of the results of an election.  Usually, on the very same day.  The remainder are formally asked to resign, and they do, promptly and professionally, without kicking and screaming or comment of any kind.  That's because they're supposedly professionals. Some, it seems, must be asked to go.  And they go also, because that's the way the system was designed. And if they don't, they're unceremoniously fired. 

When Billy Jeff "Blue Dress" Clinton took over in 2009 he fired all 93 U.S. Attorneys. No notice, no drama, no hand-wringing, no outrage, no grief.  It was expected, and it took place.  

And the MainStreamMedia say about it.

Oh, by the way, one of those attorneys was Jeff Sessions, Trump's new Attorney General.  No Republicans chose to condemn such a termination, nor should they.  It was business as usual.  And the AG is the boss of all things Department of Justice, by the way, including all U.S. Attorneys. Karma's a bitch, doncha' know.

The Trump Administration just asked for the resignation of the remaining 43 hold-over U.S. Attorneys who had not yet resigned. One, a guy named Preet Bharara, U.S. Attorney for Manhattan, refused to go.  Trump dumped him.  Predictably, Democrats went absolutely nuts. Lefty Senators and Representatives, like Chuck Schumer, (D-NY) and Pat Leahy, (D-VT), took to Twitter and Facebook and Instagram and talk shows to condemn this ordinary, regular, routine, expected action by threatening to withhold approval of the attorneys Trump may put forth to replace those just departed. 

As I said, predictable.

POLITICO, the left-wing political website that carries water for all things Liberal, posted a story back then entitled, "Obama "asked" U.S. Attorneys to resign."

Today?  Let's take a look...

POLITICO 3/10/2017:  "Trump to "oust" Obama Appointees."

From the bland headline put forth 8 years ago, you'll note the snarky, negative adjective the writer of this article chose to now use.

Oh yeah, by the way, the author of both headlines, was the self-same Josh Gerstein.

Wonder how Mr. Gerstein votes?  I didn't think so.  As per a recent USA Today poll, I'm guessing he votes exactly like 96% of all American journalists vote: Democrat.  

Wonder why America's voters chose to believe Donald Trump when he spoke so often about Lap Dog Media bias?  I didn't think so...

Friday, March 10, 2017

Surviving Obamacare...

As this is written, literally, the so-called "repair and replace" Obamacare fight is going on in the halls of Congress.

It's not going well, by my reckoning.  Republicans are of the opinion that the best health care program is one the Gummint has nothing to do with at all.  That's because Republicans know that the Declaration of Independence guarantees us all the right to "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness," with no suffix continuing on adding "...and the right to lots of really good, cheap, or even free health care."  

The Democrats, on the other hand, believe the only good health care program is one that's owned, operated, managed and paid-for by the Federal Government.  Ummm, that would be you and me.  Single-payor, universal, socialist-style, everybody-covered, everything covered, taxpayer-paid health care like that offered in the U.K. and Canada is their primo model.  Like where you have to wait 7 or 8 months to see a doctor and a year or more to see a specialist.  Rigggggttt.

And the lawmakers in Foggy Bottom these days seem to be trying to come up with something approximating degrees of both. 

I believe that's a prescription for disaster.

Those of us who study this stuff, like me, who spent an entire professional career in health care, know that Obamacare was a deeply flawed law that should never have been passed. 

We know that it was rammed through Congress late on Christmas Eve of 2009 without a single Republican vote, using an arcane parliamentary trick called "reconciliation." That allowed the Democrats, who were in control of the House, the Senate and the Presidency, the "hat trick," to take hostage one-sixth of the entire U.S. economy on a strict, Party-line, simple majority vote.  Bad way to do business, by my reckoning.

And this is what they wound up with:  Those who had employer-paid health insurance lost it.  Many of those who had no insurance got it, and it was paid for by those who had lost it, along with taxpayer-paid subsidies to insurance companies who were assembled into co-ops to cover them. Those who had lost it were given the opportunity to buy it back at three or four times what they'd previously paid, along with a deductible of four or five or six times what had been the case. The excess fees for this much worse coverage were used to pay for some of the insurance of those who never had it. And those who lost it and bought it back, and those who hadn't had it and wound up with it, discovered that they had health insurance, but little or no health care. That's because physicians wanted no part of this crappy health insurance that paid bupkus for their services.  And so, most weren't accepting it.  Most likely you wouldn't have either.

A poll taken of the American Medical Association right after passage of O'Care showed that fully 83% of all physicians were planning to retire early.  With no plan whatsoever to replace them.

Got it?  Good.

And what's the current state of Obamacare?  18 of the 23 insurance company co-op exchanges that were created by the Obamacare administrators, using taxpayer-paid subsidies, $Two Billion Dollars so far, have already failed. They've lost so many hundreds of millions of dollars on this failed experiment that they've dropped out.  

Pay attention to this fact:  Of the 3,000 counties in America, 1,023 of them have only one insurance company still offering coverage, or none at all. If that's "competition," I want none of it.  

Those in the know, know that Obamacare is on its last legs. It will fall apart like a K-Mart watch in less than a year. This is what happens when a bunch of bureaucrats get together and hammer out a law to do something they don't understand and know nothing about, but are too damn dumb to know it.  And all of this was done so that the Democrats could count on their newly-insured young and poor constituents voting for them in perpetuity.

And we should also know that the Republicans, if they take charge of this mess and try and fix it, will be blamed by all those who lose their Obamacare, and also by those now unseated-from-power Democrats who breathed life into it in the first place.  And they'll likely suffer for it in the 2018 elections.  In short, they'll be shown the door, and with their leaving, the Republican majority will be threatened.

So, what's the Chuckmeister's Rx?    

Republicans would be wise to sit back, relax and observe Obamacare circle the drain. When it fails, they should step in like a superhero and offer up some minimal conservative solutions to help those who need health insurance to afford it. 

Once its gone they should enable the sale of health insurance across state lines, like car and life insurance, finally fostering true economic competition. They should toss in tort reform, removing the incentive from "slip and fall" lawyers to sue for gargantuan, multi-million dollar sums due to medical malpractice claims. They should establish risk pools for preexisting illnesses so that younger folks won't have to pay the exorbitant price for the huge premiums of the elderly and the really sick.  They should enable HSA's, Health Savings Accounts, so that citizens have a choice as to what sort of care to seek, because they'll be paying for some of it.  They should establish incentives for educating physicians and other health professionals in exchange for a negotiated number of years of service from them in community health centers, relieving the cost burdens from hospitals of having to treat people for "free," with the true cost of such care passed along to those with health insurance.  After all, the only thing really needed is what's called "catastrophic coverage," so that true emergency situations, cancer, broken limbs, etc., are taken care of. Everything else has already been underwritten by the various states' Medical/caid insurance programs. And block Medical/caid grants to the states could help to insure this level of care continues, insuring that no one loses their coverage.  Simply stated, Republicans need to let the whole thing to go back to exactly where it was when the Democrats unfortunately chose to take a little trip down this road, and then put it back together the way it ought to have been in the first place.

The Republicans have been preparing for this moment since Obamacare was rammed through Congress 7 years ago, without a single Republican vote.  And now, after having voted to dump O'Care more than 50 times, without success, Republicans, who now control all three aspects of power in D.C., that same "hat trick," are flailing about wildly, mired in the throes of indecision.  What to do, what to do...

I know what to do.  Do nothing...

But before concluding this little rant, allow me, The Chuckmeister, your humble scribe, to back up a bit and provide you one of President Ronnie Reagan's better quotations:

     "The nine scariest words in the all of creation is, "I'm from the Government and I'm here to help."

How prophetic.  O'Care cratered the job market, put a multi-year damper on economic growth, put tens of thousands of business owners out of business, increased the cost of health insurance by huge percentages (Arizona's premiums will increase 113% this year!), brought us breast exams for men and prostate exams for women, and inserted Gummint into virtually every aspect of our lives.  And it gave Democrats the bums rush out of Washington, D.C.  I guess we'll all find out whether Republicans can successfully unwind this Democrat mess without having the window of opportunity close on their fingers.

Really, really hard...

Monday, March 6, 2017

Ever wondered what would happen if...

...there was no Federal minimum wage?

Answer:  We would all be better off.

Better?  Really

Sure.  Let me explain...

First of all, ask yourself if there's anything, ANYTHING in the Constitution of the United States that gives the Federal Government the authority to impose a Federal minimum wage upon anyone.  You'll find upon a wee bit of research that the answer is...nothing. Nothing at all.

The 10th Amendment to the Constitution, the last Right in the Bill of Rights, which, by the way, comes as a "boxed set of ten," and not a "pick and choose which ones you like and disregard all the rest," specifies clearly that all rights not granted to the Federal Government by the "several states" remain the province of the "several states."  In other words, if we didn't give the Feds the authority to do something, they don't have the authority to do it.  

And what authority did we give the Feds?  Four things:  (1) Mint our money; (2) Deliver our mail; (3) Defend our borders from all enemies, foreign and domestic; and, (4) Organize agreements and referee disputes between the "several states."  And one could reasonably argue they're doing a really crappy job of all four.  But back to the subject... 

Then why, one could reasonably ask, did the Gummint come up with such a thing as the Fed min-wage, and how does it manage to still hang around, and even grow, up until today? 

Good question.

Think about it.  What gives the people you elect the right to say that the Korean grocer down the street, the Indian 7/11 convenience store owner on the corner, the lumberyard at the end of town or the bowling alley at the mall must pay their employees a certain minimum wage?  They have no such right.  Yet, they imposed it way back when and it just kind of grew and grew, like Topsy, I guess.

I took a job cleaning up a retail store after school while still in my early teens at the rate of $.75 cents an hour.  And I was damned happy to get it.  Yet, had there not been a min-wage of that amount back then, what would that store owner have been willing to pay to get his shop cleaned?  

I offer up here and now he might have been willing to pay more.  Because had there not been a min-wage in effect, then "supply-demand" economics that controls every aspect of our capitalistic society, except for those situations in which the Federal Government insinuates itself, would have taken hold and dictated a wage acceptable to both the employer and the employee.  A negotiated hourly wage that would have attracted and kept the employee and a price of goods or services sufficient to cover, via profits, that often "dirty word" to the Liberals among us, the wage the employer had to pay.  Shocker!  And that, kiddies, is how capitalism works...

BTW, this little posting is being brought to you by a graduate and certified economist who is both a rabid believer in capitalism, and an entrepreneur with more than 40 years of business ownership and operation.  And that's the basic problem:  The people usually dictating what an employer must pay via min-wage have never started a company, or hired anyone, or met a payroll, or tried to make a profit and remain in business while suffering the onslaught of insufferable bureaucratic rules and regulations and fees and requirements.

Just look at what's happening now.  There's a major league push to increase the min-wage from the $7 - $8 range nationwide to a flat $15.00 an hour.  A doubling of the hourly rate.  What could possibly be behind such a huge, and most who know would argue, unworkable, bump in hourly wage? 

It's really simple.  The union participation rate in our Country has gone down from almost 50% of the work force back in the post-WW2 era to just over 6% today.  And it's decreasing. And the union bosses that depend upon the collection of union dues to continue paying themselves hundreds of thousands of dollars per year are worried. Very worried. They should be.

The SEIU, or Service Employees International Union, as an example, the nice folks whose membership is comprised of hotel maids and hospital janitors, the $10 an hour-types, have spent $50 million dollars so far to try and unionize the fast food industry. And they've selected McDonalds as their main target to try and force, force the fast food folks, most of which are franchised, to accept a flat $15.00 an hour.  They would then be able to unionize these workers and charge them dues, thus doubling their membership virtually overnight.

Of course, there's a couple of problems with this strategy. First, if they are successful, their new members would wind up making too much money for Earned Income Tax Credits, that check from the IRS they get for not making enough money (!), losing their food stamps and being left out on rent and other low-income subsidies.  So they'd go from $10 bucks an hour or so, to less than that when income taxes and union dues get subtracted, and benefits get taken away.  Of course, the SEIU isn't telling them that...

Second, the Mickey D's of the world, you know, Jack-in-the-Box's, the Carl's Jr.'s, etc., franchise their stores.  That means they have nothing, NOTHING to do with how much their franchisees pay their workers.  They cannot, by law, have an input.  That's the way franchise laws work.  So, roughly 95% of all the 36,000 MickeyD's out there are off-limits to this Oak Park, IL-based franchiser.  

Yet, the SEIU has their paid protesters out in force in front of their headquarters marching and pissing and moaning each and every day, doing their level best to get the Media to help them shame this burger chain into forcing its franchisees to increase what they pay their workers.

They can't.  It's against the law.  But the SEIU is just damn dumb to know this, apparently.  I guess we should be shocked, but hey, I'm not.  

What they have been able to accomplish is to coerce the Liberal-managed cities they own and control to implement such a new hourly standard.  Cities like Lost Angeles, Santa Monica, Santa Cruz, San Jose, San Francisco, Portland, Seattle, etc.  L.A.'s new min-wage of $15/hour kicks in on New Years Day, 2020.  By then, every employer in the City must be ready to cough up that much dough if they want to stay in bizz.  Think it will work?  I don't...

-  Take Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, for an example. Sea-Tac implemented $15/hour last year.  As of last count fully 30% of all its retail and food stores have closed. Couldn't stand the new pay rate, it seems.

-  Applebees has just gone over to an I-Pad ordering system. No more waitresses bringing you water and taking your order.  Only a wait staff to bring your food. Thousands have been laid off so far.

-  Wendy's has just announced that 1,000 of its 3,600 stores will do the same by early next year.  Customers will order via a kiosk and the only employees will be cooking the food and delivering it to the customer.

-  Carl's Jr. has just relocated its HQ from Santa Barbara, CA to Plano, TX.  Its CEO, Andy Puzder, the almost-Secretary of Labor, has decided the one year and $one million cost to open a new store in CA versus the three months and $60,000 each in TX means there will be no more new stores in CA. It has built more than 70 stores in TX so far, with many more to come.  That's more than 35,000 new employees in Texas and 35,000 fewer employees in California.  Hey Gov. Brown!  The handwriting in on the wall!

-  And MickeyD's has begun installing robots into its company-owned stores to cook the burgers and the fries. These electronic employee-replacers cost $250,000 each, but are proving to pay for themselves in just over two years. Thereafter, no coming in late, no breaks, no excuses.  And every burger and every order of fries will be produced perfectly.  This, plus kiosk ordering systems, and franchisees will no longer have min-wages to worry about.  Each McD's has more than 50 employees.  Think of its new profit picture when two-thirds of them simply vanish.  

There are many more examples.  But suffice it to say if a business can't make money at $15.00 an hour, it will go out of business.  Or it will take its business out of state. Both are happening here in California. 

So, even if the SEIU is successful in making $15.00 an hour America's new standard, it's highly likely that by the time the dust settles there will be hundreds of thousands, perhaps even several million fewer min-wage positions looking for unskilled people to fill them.  Think that's what the SEIU had in mind?

I don't... 

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Why Meheeeeeeko Won't Honor the Border

Have you ever wondered why Meheeeeko won't seem to honor the border between our two sovereign nations?  

Me too.

So I did a little digging, which is what any good quasi-journalist-without-portfolio or formal training of any kind would do when faced with an existential question like this. And I came up with the answer. And here it is...

Meheeeeeeeeeeko (I mean, that's how you pronounce it, right?) is still pissed over the outcome and resolution of the Mexican-American War.  As you may recall, unless you went to a public school and thus did not learn anything, ended with the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, circa 1848.  That's the piece of paper that gave us (we took it from them) all of what was then called "Alta California."  Or "Aztlan," as some of them prefer to call it.  That means everything north of the current border, all the way up to just past San Francisco, over eastward past Utah and Nevada and Colorado, down southeast-ward through Kansas and a bit of Oklahoma, and all the way through to Brownsville, Texas.  

In other words, a major, major chunk of real estate which they wanted to keep and we wanted to get in order to sort of fill out what is currently thought of as "America."

They really liked that choice bunch of land.  Remember, they actually sent Spanish padres up the coast to build missions and plant vineyards and herd cows and goats and sheep and convert the Indians.  They colonized it, and carved out vast swaths of it to farm and produce veggies and grain and send it back home to where the land is quite a bit less arable.

They were upset to lose it.  Too bad, we said.  To the victor goes the spoils, we said. And we were the victors.  They shouldn't have picked the fight in the first place, we said, what with raiding parties of killers and rapists and robbers and burglars marauding all willy nilly into what was then a territory known as "Texas." Remember the Alamo?  Couldn't resist.  

To be sure, they actually disagree; they said we provoked the conflagration. Who knows?  Anyway, many of us said they were damned lucky we didn't take the entire toilet of a country and simply annex it as an official state.  Or at least a protectorate. That "many of us," by the way, would include me, The Chuckmeister.  

Just imagine how much trouble we could have saved ourselves if we have simply made Mexico a part of the good ol' U.S. of A.  Think Puerto Rico, if you doubt me.  P.R. is a "protectorate" of America, which means they get to offload their poor here anytime they want to, and take advantage of our laws and benefits and welfare state.  And we get to send them boatloads of money, anytime they need it, which is waaaay too often, BTW. 

Meheeeeeeko, on the other hand, gets to export its poor northward with abandon, who then take advantage of our laws and our benefits and our welfare state, but without an "official" stamp of approval.  And that's what we're all talking about these days, and what will consume a major portion of our legislative and diplomatic activities during the first couple of years of the Trump Administration.

But why, one might ask, is Meheeeeeeko so unwilling to assist us in stopping the flood of illegals who make their way to "El Norte" night and day, and have for generations? Because, my silly friends, they didn't like the outcome of the War, and because they're going to punish us any way they can for as long as they can, just because they can.

Look at a map.  That "line" between our two countries isn't called a "border" on their maps.  It's called "La Frontera," the Frontier.  So, they don't feel bad about casually forcing themselves upon us by violating our border, because they don't consider it a "border."  It's just a minor inconvenience on their way to a better life.  Think of a muddy stream through which they must wade.  They're leaving a giant, draconian, medieval fiefdom, controlled by 500 super-rich, uber-powerful and -connected families who dole out plumb jobs and positions and titles like Christmas presents to their friends and political associates, and where those without that "ooomph" toil night and day just to keep a few tortillas on the dinner table.  Everything there is controlled to the benefit of the "haves," and to the detriment of the "have nots."  That includes jobs and educational opportunities, and almost everything else.  That's why their people are so damned anxious to get out of there and come here.  And why they're so unwilling to help us avoid their rejects, their nobodies, their otherwise welfare recipients.

I don't blame them, by the way.  If I was so unfortunate as to have been born there, I would do anything in my power to get out of there ASAP.  However, I feel the same way about North Korea.  In either case, it's illegal.  And, as Sonny Bono once said, when asked what he thought about illegal immigration, he said:  "It's illegal, isn't it?"  Hard to argue with that sort of simple logic, even coming from a guy never accused of having a ton of what's called tremendous brain power.

And yet, there are those of us here in 'Murica who warmly embrace illegal immigration as good, good, good.  An example would be California State Senator Kevin DeLeon, Majority Leader Pro Tempore.  He stated quite proudly the other day, in session, by the way, on camera, that "half of his family are here illegally."  And that "...they had phony green cards and Social Security numbers and driver's licenses" which enabled them to blend right in to our soon-to-be-declared "sanctuary state."  Nice.  When the third most powerful politician in California is bragging about violating America's immigration laws, you can understand how more than 5 million illegals got here, and why they're not planning on going back anytime soon.

If you Google "population of Mexico," your 'puter will tell you "122.3 million."  Of course, that doesn't draw a distinction between the number there, and the number of those who should be there, who are nonetheless here.  And further Googling will tell you "11.7 million" Meheeeeeekanos are here.  So, that means roughly 9% of Meheeeeeeko's population are living in El Norte.  And these are the folks that Meheeeeeeko would have to be supporting if they hadn't made the trip north, violated our border, broke our laws, and stolen our jobs.  Annnnnnnd, my friends, these are the folks who are regularly sending home, back to momma and the kids in Cuernavaca and Guadalajara what's called "remittances."  That's a fancy term for "money." That's money that Meheeeeeeeko counts as a part of its gross national product.  That's the second largest piece of Meheeeeeeeko's income, just behind oil production.  And if we build a wall, and make it tougher for their exported poor to come here illegally, and work illegally, and send home money illegally, then Meheeeeeeeeko would have to find some other source of income to replace this yuuuuuuuuge loss.  

How much?  $25,000,000,000 a year!  That's Twenty Five Billion Dollars a Year! That's some serious pesos, my friends! 

So, perhaps you now know why Meheeeeeeeko is so dead-set on not honoring our immigration laws.  Think of it.  They have trenches dug all across their southern borders, connecting to El Salvador, Nicaragua and Honduras.  In those trenches are soldiers with machine guns.  And they will shoot anyone with extreme prejudice who tries to invade Meheeeeeeeko without official permission.  And if you manage to somehow get in without them killing you, and they find you later, they'll throw your ass in prison for two years. And then they'll deport you after you get out, IF you're still kicking, that is.  

And what happens if you come back after then being deported?  Ten years in their very worst, nastiest and most dangerous prison.  Good luck living through that.  And these people bitch and moan about how badly we treat their cast off peons who stream north trying to find a job and something to eat.

Oh, and don't forget if you're a foreigner, even one with permission to be there, you can't pilot a plane or engineer a train or helm a ship or serve in the military or be elected to a political office or own property on or near a body of water or buy a gun or picket or protest or vote.  And a whole bunch of other stuff.  Yeah, they treat their "visitors" with respect.  


So here's the deal:  They are giving us the finger, each and every day.  They don't give a damn what we think about them screwing us deeply.  They are encroaching upon our sovereignty, and couldn't care less.  They're using us and our sense of humanity to feed, clothe and educate their poor. A Heritage Foundation study from 2015 showed graphically that illegal immigration costs us, the American taxpayers, more than $54.5 Billion Dollars a Year!  That would pay for picking a whole lot of tomatoes, my friends.

And then they have the absolute gall to get all up in our faces, so to speak, when we ask them to help pay for their failures as a country while expecting us to do for their poor what they either cannot, or will not.  Either way, with apologies to Yoda, up with this we shall no longer put.

My idea?  And it's certainly not new.  Build the wall.  Beef up our border patrol and ICE agent rolls to the point where we can actually handle the flood of illegals.  Take over old department stores and Federal buildings and turn them into interment camps for illegals for processing and deportation preparations.  And then summarily deport those who are here illegally and are proven felons and criminals.  And those who return, build enough prisons to make them wish they had not. Cease sending Federal monies to cities who refuse to reverse their "sanctuary" policies.  Begin to push the idea that a country without a border is not a country.  Pay our own veterans and homeless and poor and those who can't find gainful employment and welfare recipients whatever it takes to pick our fruit and wash our cars and clean our homes. Just think how much we could save by not having to pay for the flotsam and jetsam of our neighbor to the south's failed feudal society.  

Yeah, just think...

Saturday, February 18, 2017

More Proof of California Craziness...

If you live in California it would be a good idea if you just keep on doing what you were doing and stop reading right here.

That's because reading this posting will remind you once again just how unfortunate you are to live in the once-Golden State.

Why?  Because the crazies in charge of this insane asylum seem to make it a point to come up with the weirdest, strangest, most inane and unworkable ideas and then turn them into law.  Examples?  Sure...

Plastic bags are now illegal, except that they're not...

So go to work or to the beach or to the grocery store, where you'll now have to pay for what used to be a free plastic bag, which is no longer free, because that will somehow help to "save the planet."  Yep, actual voters here actually voted to reduce the number of plastic bags in the landfill.  And that will happen by you no longer receiving a free bag in which to lug home your food stuffs from Grubbies' Grocery Giant.  Of course, you can  BUY a plastic bag, the very SAME plastic bag, from the very SAME store, for $0.10 if you so choose. So how does this help the planet?  Don't know.  But it sure makes for a new profit source for your local grocer.  Does this make any sense at all, to anyone, anywhere?  

Anyway, now that we've gotten rid of Californians, who value the weather here more then they do their wallet or their jobs or their health care or their sanity, the rest of you should sit down, grab an expensive snifter of a silber reposado anejo Tequila and prepare to laugh out loud.   

Okay.  Ready?  Here goes.  Regular readers of this unassuming little blog will know that I make it a point to report on all the dumbass laws the liberal elites who own and manage the State from that backwater town known as Sacramento just luuuuuuv to pass.  We have some of the stupidest, most ludicrous, ridiculous, painful, restrictive and completely unworkable laws than you could even imagine. But now those brain-dead bozos have gone and passed a few new ones that just defy the imagination. And here they are...

You!  With the fireplace!  Up against the wall!

Because burning wood, and presumably anything else, contributes to "global warming," or "climate change," or "climate chaos," or whatever they choose to call it tomorrow in an effort to scare the bejeezus out of us, the "sheeple," the idiots in charge have just made it illegal to burn wood in your wood-burning fireplace if your little warmth-provider is located at an altitude of 3,000 feet or below.  "Really," you might ask? Yes, really. That's because the "Air Quality Management District," which consists of a dozen or so appointed bureaucrats who get paid tons of money to meet every three or four months for an hour or so and then head on out to an expensive luncheon, and who report directly to the "Air Resources Board," which consists of a dozen or so highly-paid bureaucrats who meet every three or four months to talk about the weather and then head on out to an expensive luncheon, has decided that our air quality at lower altitudes is not so good.  And that burning that log in your fireplace would make the situation worse.  Yes, really.  

Oh, and don't try to burn one of those fake-ass, waxy four-hour logs either! They're illegal as well.  Your fine for violating these laws against God and nature, or at least nature if you're a godless Liberal, will be $50.00 for the first violation, and then increase all the way up to $1,000 for subsequent infractions. 

Now, I don't know how they're going to determine just who is using their fireplace the way fireplaces ought to be used, but they're certainly going to try.  My guess is they'll create a whole new bureau and hire a bunch of new UNION guys to drive around in shiny new cars we provide for them (probably electric), just looking for smoke coming out of our chimneys. And then they'll whip out their ticket book and ruin another of your fine-weather days. I'm guessing they'll each be making about $200,000 a year, plus a whole raft of benefits.

BTW, you should know that the Los Angeles Basin is actually a "basin," or chunk of real estate bounded on all sides by mountains.  So, when the on-shore breezes start to blow, any crap in the air stops when it hits the big hills a few miles from the water, and then backs up all the way to the coast.  That's called "smog."  You should know also there is undisputed evidence that smog (a mixture of smoke and fog) was ever-present 500 years before the first SUV arrived here due to hundreds and hundreds of Indian campfires.  Oh, sorry. They're now called "Indigenous Peoples."  The very same "Indigenous Peoples" who own and operate the most lucrative casinos anywhere.  I can tell you this:  The very next time somebody wants me to play cowboys and Indians, I want to be one of them there Indians...errrrr, "Indigenous Peoples."

Think it can't get any dumber than that?  Read on...

Build that wall between California and the "Flyover Country."

Everybody by now knows that Taxifornia is the very heart of Liberal Lunacy.  We have more than two dozen towns that have declared themselves to be "sanctuary cities." That means they simply refuse to call up ICE and hand over criminal illegal aliens who may have been found to be on the wrong side of the law and wound up in their jail cells.  I mean, we're talking criminal illegal aliens!  Not some poor fool who crossed the border illegally to work in the kitchen of a Chinese restaurant in order to send back remittances to momma and the kids back in Cuernavaca.  They're illegal criminal alien crooks!  Murderers!  Rapists!  Burglars!  

So these cities, from San Diego to Lost Angeles to Santa Monica to Santa Cruz to San Francisco have decided which Federal laws to honor and obey, and which to simply ignore. 

But Trump has thrown down the gauntlet and is threatening these sanctuary cities with withholding Federal monies if they don't quickly get on the right side of the law.  And some have seen the light.  But others, such as L.A. and San Fran have doubled down. They have declared themselves to be sanctuaries forever and always.  No questions! But Taxifornia's Legislature has tripled down. It has decided to name itself a "sanctuary state."  That means the entire State will refuse to honor ICE detainers.  In essence, it is giving the finger to the Federal Government and daring it to do something about it. And to show just how serious it is on this matter, it has hired Eric Holder, ex-U.S. Attorney General, to help it fend off Trump if he decides to come after it for its lawlessness.

Remember Holder?  He's the only Cabinet-level officer to have ever been held in contempt of Congress in the entire history of America.  That's because he refused to turn over subpoenaed documents to Congress relating to "Fast and Furious," the illegal and unconstitutional gun-running scheme entered into by the Obama Administration. Remember that one?  Obama/Holder bought thousands of assault weapons with our Stimulus money and proceeded to hire pimply-faced twenty somethings to "slow walk" them across the southern border and into the hands of drug cartels.  The thinking was, we're told, that one or more would be discovered at a crime scene and Obama/Holder could point to it as proof-positive that U.S.-made guns were fueling the Mexican drug crisis.

But a border guard, Brian Terry, was shot dead by one of these guns before the nefarious scheme could unfold.  And it was summarily scrapped and Obama/Holder went into spin-mode in an effort to explain it away.  They couldn't.  And haven't.  

So this same Holder guy is now working for me and all other California taxpayers at the rate of $25,000 a month, to protect us against Trump and the rest of America, while we are breaking the law at flank speed.  The politicians who made the decision to take this tack held up their hands and swore to defend and honor the laws of the United States. Does this sound like their honoring that oath?  Me neither...

Cross your legs, Bossie, cross your legs...

The otherwise-unemployables in Sacramento who get together and pass laws just to have something to do have now outdone themselves.  Ready? They have just decided that a major source of pollution here in La La Land is...ta da!...cow farts!  Yes, my friends, and you are my friends, the methane that leaks out of the back end of cattle is a major source of air pollution.  The experts are saying that 15% of all California pollution comes from the south end of old Bossie. It is estimated that one single cow can produce 130 gallons of methane PER DAY!  

So, they passed a law and Governor Jerry "Moonbeam" Brown signed it into law on September 16th, that dictates that dairy farms must reduce methane emissions to 40% of the 2013 level by 2020.  That's part of the State's new push to reduce our overall greenhouse gas emissions to 80% of 1990 levels by 2050.  Confused yet?  Me too.  

And what about non-dairy cattle?  What about those that get turned into steaks?  Don't they need regulated?  I'm thinking they should stop farting also.  But no, they're not targeted. I'm guessing somebody has something against dairies, which are leaving the state at flank speed.  Of course, once they're gone, we'll be importing our milk and cheese from Nevada or Utah or Arizona, which all have adult supervision and choose not to pass dumbass laws like this one.  And the price we pay for this tomfoolery will go up exponentially, due to the fact that our milk will then be imported from these other states via semi-trailers, which will produce emissions and thus foul the air, and cost two or three times what we're now paying. Which will, of course, negatively impact poor families most of all.

And what happens if cows don't stop farting enough to make the politicians happy? Their owners get fined, just like those who try and stay warm in front of their fireplaces! I don't know about you, but I'm thinking maybe the nice folks who drive around looking for smoke signals coming out of your chimney could somehow be cross-trained to multi-task and include the inspection of bovine buttocks into their bureaucratic repertoire.  I mean, since it's going to cost Californians the $50 Million that Sacramento has budgeted to help get this new money-wasting program kickstarted, we might want to find some way of making it more efficient.

Oh my God!  I'm sorry!  What was I thinking?

Pre-pubescent hookers and their pimps, you're welcome!

Just as I was about to push "publish" and send this little posting off into the ether so that you, my loyal readers, could begin to inculcate the enormous truth that it happily conveys, I was struck by a new and even greater example of dumbassitude!  Ready?

The Democrat-controlled Legislature up there in Sacrascrewyou just passed a brand-new law that makes selling your body quite alright for 12 year-old's.  No, I'm not making this up.  And, if you're a 12 year-old's pimp, you're off Scot-free as well.  It seems they believe that to make a criminal out of a grade-schooler would be bad, so they decriminalized sex with minors and those who help sell them. 

But wait!  What if you're an 18 year-old and you engage in consensual sex with a 16 year-old?  Too bad, pimple face! You're guilty of statutory rape and need to visit the Gray Bar Hotel for an extended visit.  Soooo, consensual sex with a minor gets you hard time, but selling a Girl Scout's body gets both you and the girl an official reprieve.  

Anybody else besides me think this whole mess is a...mess?