Belated and Annotated Bailout Post

From Holly Sklar's 2006 "Imagine A Country" essay:

"Imagine a country where some of the worst CEOS make millions more in a year than the best CEOs of earlier generations made in their lifetimes. In 1980, CEOs of major companies made an average 45 times the pay of average full time workers. In 1991, when CEOs made 140 times as much as workers, a prominent pay expert said the CEO "is paid so much more than ordinary workers that he hasn't got the slightest clue as to how the rest of the country lives."...In 2005, CEOs made even more - 352 times the pay of average workers." [Emphasis mine]

Bailouts and other forms of corporate welfare, such as tax loopholes and tax shelters that result in both corporations and their CEOs paying a lower tax rate than their regular employees, need to come with an expectation of corporate responsibility. In other words, with the sames "strings attached" as individuals experience. Non profit companies with over fifty employees manage to survive and thrive with restrictions similar to those below.

If we are going to bail companies out or afford special reduced taxation, we need to limit the CEO pay to 10 times the pay of the company's lowest paid full time worker. At the present annual minimum wage earnings of $14,872, CEOs would be paid a minimum of $148,720 annually. It would serve as an incentive to compensate employees better: the individual CEO's salary will rise proportionately as the company's lowest pay rate is increased. That is more than adequate income for people who have driven our economy into the ground, and it would encourage corporations to support raising the minimum wage to a living wage for single parent families with 3 kids, instead of keeping it brutally low. Minimum wage goes up, CEO's wage goes up. Compensation through company shares is a great idea for all employees, so CEOs can enjoy the same number of shares issued to all employees. It will motivate all employees to higher productivity and loyalty to the company.

Companies getting bailouts and tax reductions need to be held to worker-friendly personnel policies as well. They must staff their workforce by hiring their own employees and provide full benefits packages with a minimum of one sick day per month, one week of paid vacation a year, medical insurance with full maternity care included (with contraceptive coverage required) and parity in psychiatric rimbursement and benefits (no restriction on number of treatments, any more than Parkinson's patients would have such limits). Temporary and contract employees can only be used for twelve weeks - the duration of the Family Medical Leave Act. If the company offers paid matenity AND paternity leave, they can extend this period by the number of days of paid leave to ensure they can hold an employee's job. Likewise with paid sick leave. After that bailout companies will need to hire these people as company employees with benefits, or fill the position with another person if and only if the temporary worker was measurably failing to meet job requirements.

In the interest of public health, bailout companies employing food and health workers must provide unlimited paid sick days to employees for airborne or bodily fluid communicable infectious diseases, with a doctor's note required. A reasonable provision for excessive infections would of course be included, it could be managed through the Americans with Disabilities Act guidelines.

WHOO HOO!!! Obama just capped bailout company executive salaries at $500,000 - so close to what I wanted that I'm overjoyed. Non-profits are some of the most dynamic, creative and best run companies in our economy, and executive salaries seldom crack 100K. Despite dire warnings that nobody good would POSSIBLY agree to work at five times that salary, there's a huge reserve of expert executives out there who would be happy to take over. And they are USED to fiscal frugality, which is exactly what we need.

US Poor Children Should Apparently Go Naked

Check out THIS new law going into effect February 10 - a friend questioned if it could possibly be true because it's so mind-numbingly stupid, based on a complete misunderstanding of actually toxic levels of lead. I'm sure this is due to the outcry over Chinese toys with lead based paint, but STILL. Here's the LA Times report:

Regulators rethink rules on testing children's clothing and toys for
lead The Consumer Product Safety Commission gives a preliminary OK to exempt
some items from testing after complaints of hardship to thrift stores
and sellers of handmade toys.

By Alana Semuels
January 7, 2009

The Consumer Product Safety Commission has given preliminary approval to
changes in new lead-testing rules after complaints that the measures
could have forced thrift stores and sellers of handmade toys to dispose
of merchandise or even go out of business.

If formally adopted, the changes approved on a first vote Tuesday would
grant exemptions to last year's Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act,
which seeks to ensure that products for children do not contain
dangerous amounts of lead.

As currently written, the act would require all products aimed at
children 12 and under to be tested for lead and phthalates starting Feb.
10. Phthalates are chemicals used to make plastics more pliable.

Large manufacturers and retailers say the cost of testing will not be a
burden. But small businesses such as handmade-toy shops and thrift
stores say the requirement would force them to spend tens of thousands
of dollars to test products such as clothing, in which the threat of
lead is almost nonexistent. Many thrift stores said they would be forced
to stop selling children's clothing or close altogether.

The commission's two members (a third seat is vacant) voted tentatively
to exempt:

* Items with lead parts that a child cannot access;

* Clothing, toys and other goods made of natural materials such as
cotton and wood; and

* Electronics that are impossible to make without lead.

The commission also tentatively approved a rule that clarifies how it
determines exclusions from the law.

The vote opens up a 30-day public comment period that will begin when
notice of the rules are printed in the Federal Register. Interested
parties can find out how to submit comments by signing up to receive
e-mail from the CPSC at .

No final rules will be approved until after Feb. 10, when the testing
rules go into effect.

That means retailers and manufacturers who sell untested children's
merchandise would technically be in violation of the new law starting
Feb. 10. Whether federal regulators will enforce the rules -- which
might entail inspections at thousands of secondhand stores and toy shops
across the country -- is another question.

"The CPSC is an agency with limited resources and tremendous
responsibility to protect the safety of families," said Scott Wolfson, a
CPSC spokesman. "Our focus will be on those areas we can have the
biggest impact and address the most dangerous products."

So I went to Snopes, and this outrageous and ridiculous legislation is for
real - and it is unfounded in reality - especially when you know how little
clothing and footwear the exceptions allo. And citizens are not allowed to
formally object until AFTER the law goes into effect. The only reason anyone
knows about this is because Consumer Protection is "considering" relaxing
the restrictions, which have no scientific merit in any case.
I signed up to comment when the agency grants the opportunity.

The "exception" under consideration would still ban (re)selling or
buying the huge majority of children's clothing items. This would effect
everything from thrift stores to grannies who knit baby sweaters and sell
them on eBay to garage sales.

It only allows pure wool, cotton, leather, felt, REAL velvet made with
wool or cotton instead of microfibers, suede, fur, silk, cashmere and
angora - plus lesser known "natural" fiber clothing to be exempted from lead
inspection. Any of which could have the miniscule, completely harmless
lead levels enforced here. These are exponentially lower than the
lowest estimate of any hazardous level of lead. Have you checked the
price of even The cheapest natural fiber (100% cotton) clothing recently?
All mixed fiber or non-"natural" fiber kid's clothes would be illegal
to buy or sell without costly lead inspection. This means all pajamas
for infants and children will be illegal to sell by any individual or
thrift store, since flame retardants are non "natural". All permanent
press, fleece,rayon, microfiber, nylon, acrylic, lycra and polyester
clothing would be illegal for thrift shops or family and small businesses
to sell. Most shoes and boots (including any with velcro closures), socks with
elastic so they will stay up, waterproof coats and snowpants, any gloves or mittens with
thinsulate, most hats and belts and all UNDERWEAR with elastic
waistbands instead of cotton drawstrings, metal zippers and snaps or
buttons made of ivory, wood, metal, stone, or bone. Even glass probably
isn't technically a natural material, since it is artificially created,
and plastic is right out. Indeed, any fitted wrist sleeves, wool and
cotton pants or sweats with elastic waist bands or polyester drawstrings
would be subject to inspection. Can you even begin to imagine the cost
of inspecting all of that clothing, or of legally clothing the under 12
crowd in your family with none of these fabrics available to you second
hand or for sale by a clothing maker you hire? And are diapers
considered clothing? Back to metal pins, metal snaps and non-plastic
buttons on those pure cotton diapers with wool as the only allowable
"waterproof" cover, and I can attest from wearing woolen sweaters in
rain storms that wool soaks all through relatively easily. I'm not concerned about
disposables or plastic/latex covers and toddler accident proof undies,
since I don't see them being handcrafted or resold. How about baby
swaddling blankets? are they clothes or bedding? And wouldn't you think
that metal fasteners are a damn sight more likely to contain trace lead
than cloth?

It's like some cultish cross between fanatic pushers of organic fibers
and Levitican Law observance being enforced by the federal government.
What's next, outlawing shrimp, crab, lobster and tuna? Or forbidding
women from living in their homes every menstrual period until they
undergo ancient Jewish purification rituals - and do we even know what
those rituals involved? Or outlawing visual arts and electronic media
because they are graven images?

This incredibly short sighted, expensive and stupid policy comes at a
time of economic collapse, with unemployment higher than any decade since
the Great Depression, when thrift shops will be more necessary than ever
for struggling families. Even WE routinely buy our kids' clothes at
Goodwill because they grow so fast and clothes are so expensive. And that was
before my job ended last month. We now qualify for subsidized housing because we are
officially low income (which would be nice to move to, if there were subsidized
apartments available in our county). I have no idea how we'll dress our
twins if this law goes into effect even WITH the exceptions. Despite
the fact that the agency could never actually enforce inspections due to
its small size, the legal obligation could still drive thrift shops out
of the children's clothes businesses, and possibly out of business
altogether as usually children's clothing and footwear represent at
least 50% of sales.

I urge everyone reading this who was ever a child to go to the
Commission's website and tell them to revise the restrictions in even
the present amended version under consideration. I'm going to strongly
suggest an exception for all second hand and small businesses or individuals
from ALL of the clothing restrictions. The level of lead here wouldn't harm
a Chihuahua,let alone a human child. What happened to science as the basis of such
regulation, instead of irrational panic?

My answers to an interesting Fairy Tale Princess Survey.

Pallid Regina (grin) at has a fascinating questionnaire related to her thesis. I strongly encourage everyone who reads this to help her out with your thoughts. Here are mine.

1. Describe a fairy tale princess: what does she look like, what are her primary personality traits?

A fairy tale princess is always stunningly beautiful, with skin as pale as milk, petite and slender build, and evident extreme youth (barely pubertal, usually). Her primary personality traits are focused on a tabula rasa ideal - she is a blank slate without experience or opinions of her own. She is completely "innocent and ignorant." (Jane Austen phrase that I love - if you haven't already read it, check out _Northanger Abbey_'s first chapter for a brilliant mockery of the gothic "princess" ideal, which continues throughout this funny and charming novel.)

The fairy tale princess is perpetually sweet and obedient, even to those who abuse her, she is completely passive. She does not think for herself, but must be guided by others even in completely plain circumstances (think Snow White needing to be told by the pitying servant that she is an assassination target, although she is too beautiful for him to kill her directly as ordered). She is usually a single child and typically wealthy with a few exceptions, so she has minimal exposure to other people (siblings, and especially *male* siblings who might familiarize her with men destroying her innocence) and "real life" (the need to work for a living and ability to gain knowledge). She is a blissfully ignorant sexual commodity.

However, sometimes fairy tale princesses DO develop character. Cinderella is honorable. Snow White is actively kind and helpful. Beauty becomes non-judgmental and accepting of difference.

2. Describe any connection you feel, positively or negatively, to a fairy tale princess or fairy tale princesses in general.

As a very little girl I remember being impressed with the bling surrounding a princess. As a skeptical 10 year old I liked the Little Mermaid because she decided walking on knives for the sake of someone who didn't love her was bullshit, and sensibly returned to the sea where people DID love her. (In fact, when the Disney version that changed the ending came out I was FURIOUS, because it destroyed the entire point of the story.) Mostly I was a tomboy though and didn't have much interest. As a teen I fell in love with Robin McKinley's retelling of Beauty and the Beast, and as an adult with her Deerskin.

3. Which fairy tale princess do you relate to the most?

Cinderella - I was from a working class family and abused by my grandmother. I'm a slob and hate housework. I thought her fairy Godmother was awesome and wished I could have one.

4. Please describe why/how you relate to this princess the most.

I couldn't imagine wealth. Cinderella was actively turning the other cheek and not stooping to her stepmother's level. So she wasn't passive. She was trapped in abusive circumstances she had no power to escape, like I was.

5. What book versions of fairy tale princess stories did you/do you own?

I own Robin McKinley's _Beauty_ and _Deerskin_.

6. What movie versions of fairy tale princess stories did you see in the theatre?

Snow White, when I was very little. I enjoy both Cinderella and Beauty and the Beast as an adult. I hated the Little Mermaid movie.

7. What movie versions of fairy tale princesses did you/do you own?

Beauty and the Beast.

8. In what ways do fairy tale princesses represent positive female role models?

Cinderella, the Little Mermaid and Beauty, even in the original stories, represented honor, kindness, determination, recognizing and learning from mistakes, loving herself, overcoming adversity, accepting others as they are and prizing character over looks to the extent that she could choose a partner that others unjustly rejected.

9. In what ways do fairy tale princesses represent negative female stereotypes?

Where do I even begin?! Beauty = good, not beautiful = evil, dark skinned = ugly AND evil, mature woman = evil. Ignorance and passivity. Greed. Reinforcement of women as a sexual commodity rather than an independent beings. Real or pretended stupidity so as not to outshine the Prince, who is seldom an intellectual giant himself. Women as tricksters. Young = good, old = evil.

10. Would you/do you read fairy tale princess stories to your child?

I read my 7 year old twin daughter and son Cinderella sometimes when they were younger. I plan to introduce them to Mckinley when they are young adults.

11. Would you/do you take your child to see fairy tale princess movies in the theatre?

There aren't any, but we have a dvd of Beauty and the Beast that Katie likes to watch with me once a year or so. She's been too young for the jokes in "Cinderelly" but might be growing into them. I'll consider Ever After when she's a young adult. Teddy isn't really interested in any kind of fiction and never really has been. Even as a preschooler when he would make believe play he would stop in the middle to clarify that he was not REALLY a dragon or puppy or whatever, he was really still himself.

He stopped believing in Santa Claus when he was 4, and showed doubts even at age 3. We feared this would ruin his twin's Christmas, but Katie blithely disregarded his opinion about Santa ("You're just wrong, Teddy.") and continued to believe with all her heart until this year, when she made a smooth transition from Santa as a real person to Santa as a metaphor of generosity and love, which she believes in with all her heart.

12. Would you/do you allow your child to own fairy tale princess movies for repeated viewing?

I let my kids watch the ones I approve of with discussions of the ideas in the movies and how they compare to real life. They don't happen to want to see them more than once every six months to a year. They're at the slapstick age.

13. Describe your first memory of Cinderella.

I think Cinderella was my first introduction to social injustice, I remember being enraged by the treatment she got and loved the idea of a fairy godmother who could make everything right.

14. Describe your current opinion of Cinderella.

Overall I believe that Cinderella is a good portrayal of an honorable and hard working woman who overcomes adversity, both internally and externally. Traditional portrayals of Cinderella as good and deserving due to her sexual attractiveness and the Ugly Steps as evil and undeserving due to their lack of it piss me off, naturally. I emphasize the behavior and not the physique as "ugly" to my kids.

15. Describe your first memory of Snow White.

Loved her red cheeks and brown hair and primary colors dress - I was probably 3 or 4, so that's pretty much it. Oh, she liked to sing like I did. And the dwarves were amusing.

16. Describe your current opinion of Snow White.

She's an idiot who can't recognize danger when it's right in her face. Her calling is to be a servant to dwarves and reform them in a creepy way. Wouldn't actively introduce it to my twins and if they saw it I'd want to talk about the assumptions and implications in the movie.

17. Describe your first memory of Sleeping Beauty.

It's vague I think I only read it once in first or second grade. There was nothing in it to appeal to me at that age.

18. Describe your current opinion of Sleeping Beauty.

This is a straight up sexual allegory involving "malevolent old woman curses baby" and a conquering/hunting/possessing man "saving" the ultimate passive child-bride. Repulsive. I don't think I know anyone who would show this to my kids, but it would piss me off and prompt a discussion that I could probably not resist turning it into a lecture. With the friend first. :)

19. In what ways do you think fairy tale princesses are still relevant in today’s society?

They accurately reflect the patriarchy that still exists, with women as a sexual commodity and men as owners/buyers/determiners of which women go for the highest price. See also racism, ageism, looksism, classism... They're an excellent introduction to what is wrong with that kind of thinking.

20. What else would you like to say about fairy tale princesses?

They are typically nasty, petite and brutish representations of racism, sexism, classism, ageism, pedophilia and a host of other social ills.

On the other hand, several of the traditional princesses appeal to me precisely because they break the mold (albeit not completely), providing important and positive lessons, and/or modern retellings turn them to good account.

Little Mermaid - don't sacrifice or change yourself trying to make someone love you because it's a self betrayal and won't work anyway, choose the people who DO love you over romance.

Cinderella - mean people can imprison your body, treat you harshly, and force you to work for them, but they can never own your spirit and dignity if you don't let them, and good people exist who will love you as you are.

Beauty - form your own opinions of others based on character and not appearance or reputation, choose partners to your own liking and ignore prejudice against those partners.

21. Would it be OK if I asked you follow up questions on your responses?


Sub-questionnaire (optional)

1. Do you identify as male or female?


2. What is your age range (under 18; 19-25; 26-30; 31-39; 40-50; 51 & older)?

I'm 41.

3. What is your ethnicity?

White mutt - obviously our families immigrated here at some point, but nobody keeps track of who, where, or when. At a guess based on the degree of generational knowledge loss and the Irish, Dutch, English and German surnames involved I'd say some time after the Civil War but before the 1880's. My dad's dad was born in 1898 and his parents weren't first generation immigrants. My mom's grandpa was an American WWI fighter pilot and barn stormer after the war, which was kind of the James Dean of the Twenties. Great grandma Ruth's parents did NOT approve and they essentially had a shotgun marriage after she came home after ten o'clock one night. Their wedding photo is one of the most beautiful, happy pictures I've ever seen and they were lovebirds right up to my great grandpa Charlie's last breath.

4. What social class do you identify with (poor, middle class, upper class, etc.)?

Both working class and middle class.

5. What country do you live in?

The US.

Fat Women Killed by Doctors' Ignorance Rant


When training doctors are taught science involving research rather than memorization at all, it is usually epidemiology, which can NEVER establish anything more than a *chance* that there might be a statistically significant correlation between one thing and another. Correlation can never establish causation at all (Did you know that over 80% of child rapists drink water?! See what I mean? Correlation never implies causation.) This is the kind of study all over the news that makes people think that eggs are a wonder food one decade and a Silent Killer the next. BTW, when the correlation is lower that 200%, it means there is no relationship between the studied factors better than chance.

So, "Men who ate kiwi fruit more than twice a month were 198% more likely to have their penises shrivel up and fall off." means exactly the same thing as "Men who ate kiwi fruit more than twice a month were no more likely than other men to have their penises shrivel up and fall off." So feel free to ignore any such media "proof" that there is a magic food or diet. There isn't. We're omnivores who have lived on every possible type and range of foods. Actual malnutrition syndromes like beri beri or scurvy, and toxic exposures as with lead poisoning from food storage jars painted inside with lead based pigments are the exception, not the rule.

Epidemiology is a perfectly sound scientific method: it identifies out of the endless range of possibilities which correlations *might* actually have a causal relationship, and warrant a true scientific test with controlled diverse populations, double blinded so neither researchers nor participants know who gets what. And even when a cause and effect relationship is established in that test, the direction of cause and effect is not established. To do so we must do another true test with proper methods.

There are many things we truly do not know, and it's not malpractice to do your best to treat people with illnesses based on existing observations, even if they are technically guesses and hunches. Qualitative research is just as important as the above quantitative methods, because they can yield important "your mileage may vary" case evidence about individual differences and group differences that can't be quantitatively captured. Quant research can only reflect populations and are biased toward the average - evidence for outliers or any other individuals can't be adequately captured.

Studies linking BMI to cancer in populations can't yield any information at all about an individual's risk of getting cancer based on her BMI. Medical practice is not currently scientfically based for the most part, even when there's good evidence.

For example, in reproductive medicine there would be essentially no episiotomies or circumcisions performed in hospitals if medical practice were truly scientifically based. Episiotomies (cutting the vagina with a scalpel to make more room) CAUSE vaginal/labial/anal tears 90% of the time and worsen them when cut after a tear starts, while outcomes for the babies are just as good for the the mothers without episiotomies, meaning that episiotomies aren't "saving babies' lives". Circumcision has no scientifically significant health benefit at all, it's basically just a cultural genital mutilation ritual. (Which is admittedly up to the parents, many of whom don't regard it in this light.) Some obstetricians simply won't believe the science on either common practice because their approach to medicine uses faith based thinking rather than scientific thinking.

Faith based thinking is wonderful in the proper context, of course. But it has deadly results when used in medicine, where the faith based belief that fat people are less healthy because of their own moral turpitude, the "fact" that they are chronically non-compliant pathological liars because they report that they followed treatment but did not lose weight and that they are less deserving of care because they are perceived as (these are quotes from medical professionals) "repulsive" and "lazy" and "sloppy" and "lacking in self control." If fat people lived morally upright lives eating less food than the WHO and UN call starvation levels, they wouldn't be fat, and moreover they would enjoy all the health benefits that malnutrition brings. Like the scurvy, beri beri, and brain damage caused by malabsorption of necessary nutrients.

Fat Women Being Killed by Doctors Witholding Correct Chemo Doses

Chemo dosing key to ovarian cancer survival in obese women
Monday, January 05, 2009
News staff writer

Adjusting chemotherapy doses so they are consistent with body weight appears to eliminate higher death rates that have been found among obese women with ovarian cancer, according to a new UAB study.

The study compared survival rates between obese and non-obese women with ovarian cancer.

Earlier studies had found that obese women with ovarian cancer were likely to have shorter survival times than non-obese patients with a similar type and stage of ovarian cancer.

The new study, which is being published in journal Gynocology Oncology, found no statistical difference between obese and non-obese patients who underwent similar surgeries and were given chemotherapy based on their body weight.

"Often chemotherapy dosing is calculated using ideal body weight as a guide," said Dr. Kellie Matthews, an OB/GYN at the University of Alabama at Birmingham and lead author of the study. "We found using actual body weight works best, and it wipes away much of the difference in survival rates between obese and non-obese patients."

Researchers looked at records from 304 patients diagnosed with an aggressive form of epithelial ovarian cancer, and showed that when actual body weight was used in chemotherapy dosing the overall survival was 40 months for non-obese patients and 47 months for obese patients - statistically identical rates when considering the relatively small size of the study.

This life-and-death medical need to dose by the actual woman's actual weight has been known for YEARS with respect to breast cancer. A cancer, I might add, that exists mostly in fat tissue, making dosing based on "ideal weight = lean mass content" less tenable in the first place. Even if muscle absorption vs. fat absorption differ, an ignorant guess/assumption that fat does not absorb chemo meds at all is uncalled for. Doctors persist in dosing fat women inaccurately, despite controlled, double blinded research showing that mis-dosing of chemo is both killing fat people and leading to the assumption that being fat, and not widespread malpractice, is why high weight is linked to cancer deaths.

And practicing medicine without basing it on sound existing science IS malpractice. Yet most med schools teach next to nothing about research and interpretation of it. The "science" classes involve identification of structure and function, a rote memorization of information, which has little to do with the complete scientific method.