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Saturday: Power Wash

It’s a nice day, the kid is available, why not power wash the house? That’s what’s on the menu today. I’m headed off to the rental place to pick the washer up. Fun, fun.

In the meantime, remember a couple weeks ago when I wrote that Pfizer was a poster child for The Strategy of No Strategy and that the pension fund would start looking like a target soon?

Gettin’ closer. Pfizer announced on Thursday that they were ending their pension plan. Yep, everyone will now be transitioned to a 401K. Isn’t that special? It looks like people with pensions in companies that were acquired may be safe (please, please, please) but, you know, who knows at this point. The change in the pension plan will affect people who will be turning 55 in about the year 2018. Unfortunately, I know a number of Pfizer employees who may be affected by that and can only imagine how thrilled they are at this news after the cruel amount of stress they’ve been through in the past 4 years.

So, to recap, for scientists living in America but not some parts of Europe:

  • Pharmageddon continues at a steady pace, throwing many, many scientists out of work, perhaps permanently.
  • The only jobs we can get pay a LOT less. You don’t even want to know.
  • Benefits are few to non-existent.
  • Job-hopping and instability is now “expected”. You may have to leave your family behind. Better yet, don’t have a family.
  • You might end up working for a CRO where your input in projects is restricted to task oriented, boring procedures all day, like widget making. No more creativity or learning will be necessary after all those hard science courses.
  • You probably won’t be getting that pension you were counting on after 2 decades of work.
  • If you want health insurance for yourself and your family, you’ll have to pay through the nose for it from your vastly reduced salary at a CRO.
  • Your 401K is tanking- again. But THIS time, because you are out of work, there won’t be any build-back.
  • You are slowly being turned into an “entrepreneur” without any of the benefits. No group insurance rates, no labor protections, no reasonable business loans, and the costs of starting your own pharma, with all of it’s associated risks, are astronomical and suicidal. If you haven’t asked yourself whether all of the entrepreneur talk politicians keep touting will eventually lead to abuse and exploitation of workers without protections, now’s the time to think it over.
  • And finally, the morons in Congress whose skinny necks you would like to wring right now are blithely and capriciously talking about significantly reducing the only retirement option left to you- Social Security. (BTW, see Charles Pierce’s destruction of David Brooks this week. Very satisfying. I strongly suggest David Brooks stay out of central New Jersey because there are a lot of unemployed cancer researchers who he finds indistinguishable from Maury Povitch trailer trash who would like to rip the face off of people like him- metaphorically, of course.)

You know those elected people in Washington? Yeah, I hate those people. I knew the bastards would be putting the screws to us before the election to make people panic and agree to anything. But I never thought they could be this clueless, savage or viciously cruel. I’m not afraid but I am extremely angry at both parties. And, Yes, I know one party is much worse than the other but it hardly makes a difference which party is the worst when both have now crossed the threshold to the dark side. That leaves the vast majority of us without representation but still paying taxes, unemployed or not. And taxation without representation fueled the last revolution.

We are living in a kleptocracy and Democrats did not try hard enough to keep it from happening. Everything you’ve ever worked for your entire life can be stolen from you piece by piece. Your career, your patents, your house, your pensions, your retirement nest egg and all of those extra taxes you paid into a Social Security plan. Promises can be broken, you could get screwed and end up dying poor and no one is held accountable.

Yep, what Washington, DC needs is a good power wash, on the inside.

P.S.- Working people who vote Republican because of social issues should have their heads examined.

One more thing: according to a new book by James Mann, Hillary Clinton and Timothy Geithner didn’t get along at the beginning of the Obama administration. Geithner was muscling Clinton aside when it came to dealing with China. It seems that Geithner wanted the Treasury department to be in charge of foreign policy with China and to concentrate solely on economics. Clinton wanted to address more than economic matters and wasn’t going to yield on China. There was a standoff and Clinton won. But she was overruled on the issue of ambassador appointments. Why is that significant? It’s because the ambassador that Obama appointed to China is none other than former Republican presidential candidate and wealthy chemical company scion Jon Huntsman. Yep, read it and weep, labrats. The guy that Obama appointed to China at a time when our jobs were hemorrhaging there was none other than a Republican chemical company guy who speaks Mandarin.

No wonder this administration doesn’t give a royal F#%* about the destruction of our American research industry. It was the plan all along. Right, Mr. Geithner? You guys did nothing to slow things down. In fact, you went out of your way to make it easier for our companies to relocate to Shanghai.

So, let’s review: the people who really didn’t get along with Tim Geithner were all women. They were Sheila Bair, Elizabeth Warren, Christina Romer and Hillary Clinton. I’m sure there are others but any woman who stands up to Geithner and disagrees with him is ok by me. All of these women proposed policies that were ignored by Geithner and the White House but would later turn out to be right. In every case, Geithner had the upper hand except in his interactions with Hillary, where she had a victory on overall policy with China but didn’t get to pick the ambassadors.

And we’re still not at war with Iran.

It’s amazing how so many Democratic party activists got it so wrong. I wonder how that happened, given that they supposedly do not fall for political mind tricks and propaganda…

35 Responses

  1. We are living in a kleptocracy and Democrats did not try hard enough to keep it from happening.

    Try? They are right in there with the republicans putting the screws to us on orders from Wall Street. Lets drop the pretense that today’s Democratic Party is for Joe and Jane Sixpack or FDR’s values. They are republicans without the crazy. Remember, you can’t spell Obama without the “O” from GOP.

    Be careful with the power washer, they can rip siding off.

  2. I’ve always had a very bad attitude to bullies. As soon as I feel pressure, the answer is “No.” (Yes, that reflex gets me in trouble when I react before thinking.) So it seems screamingly obvious to me that when one gangster threatens to beat you up, which lets the other gangster “protect” you, the two thugs work together. And who cares whether they mean to or not. They do. That’s all that matters. And the only thing to do is get away from both of them.

    It’s horrible, watching people I like and respect freaking out over crazy talk and swarming to get protection from the same damn thugs who’ve done nothing but drive buses over them.

    • Ditto.
      I think the Democrats have a real sergeant Schultz attitude about what’s going on. They don’t want to acknowledge that what they’re doing is having real consequences to real people.

  3. It is telling that when Geithner wanted to leave the Administration earlier in the year that the Lightbringer pulled Carole Geithner aside at a White House party, took her for a stroll in the Rose Garden and convinced her Timmy should be allowed to stay longer. Looks to me like little Timmy has more issues than National Geographic.

  4. We are living in a kleptocracy and Democrats did not try hard enough to keep it from happening. Everything you’ve ever worked for your entire life can be stolen from you piece by piece.

    It’s not only everything you’ve ever worked for, RD, it’s everything your parents and grandparents worked for as well. One of the most effective wealth-extraction tools used by the kleptocracy is the “the best way to finance your start-up entrepreneurial business is use all the equity in your home and 401K as seed capital” line. A substantial portion of the wealth built up by the Depression, WWII and Korean War generations was extracted from them with this tool.

    This was one of the greatest concentrations of wealth collectively owned by a nation’s working class–meaning people who work for someone else for a wage or salary alone–in the history of the world. And most of it is gone now.

  5. I think the time has come to add a little more to your education, RD. Allow me to introduce you to my good cyberfriend Hypertiger.


    Never forget that the top lives off the yield from the bottom…

    • Thanks for that. It’s wholly unsustainable. But I am really disturbed by the number of congressional representatives who seem to be completely oblivious. It’s like, if they don’t look, it’s not really happening.

      • “It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.”–Upton Sinclair

    • What can the bottom do to produce a poisonous yield that kills the top? Failing that, what can the bottom do to produce so little yield that
      the top goes yieldless? A good first step would be for the bottom to at least begin thinking in those terms. Mass Leaderless Economic Rebellion. Uncivil obedience ( grudging obedience without cheerful compliance). Economic scorched earth. Etc.

      I remember hearing a speech-snippet from President Clinton many years ago about everybody being responsible and playing by the rules, etc etc. Perhaps it was my foul bias against President Clinton which led me to hear that as: be good little sheep and produce good wool for your master(class) that your master(class) might keep feeding you. Was I biased to hear it that way? Maybe. But here’s what I thought in response to my understanding of that little speech snippet: “No! I will be a bad little sheep and grow rusty used brillo for my social class enemies to destroy their sheepshears on”. Actually, I haven’t made much progress on becoming a bad little sheep in practice, but I keep thinking about how to do that. Things like “move your money” and “cash not credit or at least checks not credit” and “pay more for something from better paid people if possible” and so forth.

      Every dollar is a bullet on the field of economic combat.
      I am not my keeper’s brother.
      Nobody owes the rich a living.
      Lead the money around by the nose.

      People like Ran Prieur, Dmitri Orlov, Catherine Austin Fitts, Sharon Astyk, Woody Tasch, John Michael Greer, and thousands of others are working on their own little thousands of variants of that approach.
      All are worth studying for adoptable understandings to guide one’s thinking and weapons to add to one’s own toolbox.

      Someone should do a satirical update on that “acres of diamonds” speech given by some Horatio Algeroid or other. It could be called “acres of tire irons”. Their are tire irons lying around on the ground all around us. The System has a thousand unprotected kneecaps. There is a tire iron for every kneecap, and a kneecap for every tire iron. Every Passive Agressive Obstructionary just has to find the tire iron that best suits herm’s own taste and style, and best matches the
      kneecaps within his/her reach.

  6. Which federal-level DemParty officeholders can be somewhat expected to respect the New Deal Legacy? In my semi-one-issue-mind, those who at least respected a part of what made that legacy possible: a First World economy achieved by Protectionism against race-to-the-bottom outsourcing. And how do I know which DemParty officeholders really supported that part of the New Deal Legacy grid-framework background? By looking at which ones opposed the Free Trade Agreements when they came before Congress. Those who voted against EVery FTA without exception have my trust. Those who voted against SOME of the FTAs have SOME of my trust, on a sliding scale based on how many FTAs they voted against. Those who supported EVerey FTA are my social class enemies and clearly servants of the CEO biznazi establishment. (CEO is my oh-so-clever acronym for Class Enemy Occupation.)

    The rest of the Dems, as well as every Dem who supports the Simpson-Obama catfood plan, are my enemies. I can’t give them an “oblivious bystander pass”. They are my enemies.

    I had a polite little talk with a volunteer DemParty activist with his Obama buttons about whether a President Obama or a President Romney would be more dangerous to Social Security. He kept making excuses for Obama at every level and he even tried to convince me of the Rightness and Balance of the Simpson-Bowles Catfood Plan. He of course is already ON Social Security, so stealing MY Social Security from me IN adVANCE, AFter I have spent my worklife PRE-paying for it, was just fine with him thank you very much. He asked if I would like to buy one of his Obama buttons and I said that I would not vote for a ticket with Obama on it. I would vote for downticket Dems but not for a PrezVice ticket with Obama in either place. Maybe he will pass that on to his superiors.

    If the structured-choice being engineered for de-jobbed scientists is pre-set as being between making widgets in labs or waiting tables or working in call-centers; would de-jobbed scientists consider these to be equally bad choices? Or would de-jobbed scientists consider one of these pre-set laid-out-choices as being less bad than the other two? Are the de-jobbed scientists going to have to spend several years going through Kubler-Ross’s stages of grief before being ready to move on in life? If one in a thousand de-jobbed scientists could get
    a job testing soil samples and plant-tissue-samples and livestock-blood-samples at one of the little privately owned agricultural consultant laboratories in the Midwest and Midsouth, would even one in a thousand de-jobbed scientists take such a job where the cost of living is lower to match the lower rate of pay over what has been burned down in the coastal states?

    • Are the de-jobbed scientists going to have to spend several years going through Kubler-Ross’s stages of grief before being ready to move on in life?

      Unfortunately, the answer is basically “yes”.

      At the present time, de-jobbed scientists simply cannot imagine themselves carrying a union card, or engaging in a sit-down strike to prevent a laboratory shut-down, voting for “Red” candidates, etc.

      When they reach the end of the Kubler-Ross process, maybe. But not today.

      • Are you kidding? Derek Lowe had a post a couple of weeks ago hinting of exploration into a more professional org and the response was overwhelmingly positive

        • The response may have been very positive, but until we see scientists engaging in sit-down strikes or engaging in union organizing a their places of employment, it’s still all hypothetical. Scientists still don’t really think in collective terms–collective action, collective bargaining, etc. The problem is, and you’ve said it on more than one occasion, managment no longer considers scientists to be “professionals”–you’re all WORKERS now. It’s going to take a while for the reality that scientists are now in a fundamentally adversarial relationship with management to thoroughly sink in. It will happen, but r u reddy makes a good psychological point. American scientists may have to go through a grieving process first to deal with the permanent loss of their former place in American society.

          And after that, the union cards.

          • I’m not sure a union is the way to go here. I think a professional org on the lines of the AMA is more like it. The last thing we need is the management class seeing us as the equivalent of an autoworker. No offense to autoworkers but scientific research is just different and needs to be treated as such if it’s going to work.

          • Different groups of ex-working scientists may have different viewpoints on which way to go: Union or Professional Guild. Hopefully those ex-working scientists (and even what few working scientists remain) who support either concept can group up to try applying those concepts on the social-class combat workplace battlefield.

            Scientists for Union might well use a slogan like: White coats, hard hats – same difference. Scientists for Professional Guild can think up
            equally snappy slogans for that approach.

    • To answer your questions, it depends. I am implementing my plan B. It involves relocating. But I wouldn’t just relocate anywhere. There has to be something more to it than a job. Low cost of living is very important and I am not wedded to the coasts but being stuck in some place like Missouri running an HPLC is pretty close to the 11th level of hell for me.
      Would I take a job testing soil or do other analytical work? Only if I didn’t have any other choice. I started out in analytical work and got out of it as quickly as possible. It’s not the status of the work or the low pay that bothers me. It’s the sheer tedium. My guess is that most STEM people do not go into the sciences in order to be bored. They are full of satiable curtiosity. That’s why so many of them continue their educations. So, no, nah-gah-happen. I’d rather wait tables. It’s low status work with variable pay but it’s never boring.
      I do take consolation in the fact that the kind of science I do is not restricted to a lab. I have some secondary experience working in structural biology and know protein production and crystallography techniques from an intermediate level experience point of view so I’d love to do that in the future. But if I can’t get into a lab, I can always go look up a new protein in the RCSB and use what publicly available tools that are available to design drugs and amuse myself. That is the saving grace for me. I can do almost anything else for a living and will never get bored when there are so many biological targets to play with.

      • Well . . . the more you get to do in science, the more benefits the rest of us might get in life. So I hope science works out for you individually and you-all collectively, one way or another; for our shared society-level selfish benefit.

        The 11th level-of-hell problem could indeed be a problem if analysing soil samples in Missouri could provide a living but waiting tables could not provide even a living. De-jobbed scientists walking up that box canyon may face some Final and Ultimate existential and life-choice decisions.

        Perhaps my willingness to pre-settle for less to begin with has been a very lucky personal feature. IFF! my brute economic survival could be assured, I would be easily self-amused in a decent little college town in Missouri or Iowa or mid-south Illinois or somewhere else with a multi-foot-deep layer of topsoil to garden in.

        • I’m not the kind of person who needed the biggest house or the latest Lexus SUV. My wants are pretty modest. I’d be an excellent European with a small house, tiny car and long vacations. Possessions don’t really have a hold on me so I plan to get rid of a lot of them soon.

      • France? Germany?

        • {{snort!}} I wish. The kid might be able to emigrate there, but she’ll have to be my sponsor.

        • I know there’s a language barrier and a social standards/ development index barrier, but Slovakia and Hungary as seen from a train window and a bus window sure did look “like” Michigan in certain ways, what with the cornfields and abandonded factories and so forth.
          I didn’t see any bomburned abandoned center-cities, though. That may be unique to the Midwest.

      • Do you have a region of the U.S. picked out yet for your new place of residence?

        Bozeman, Montana perhaps?

  7. Gettin’ closer. Pfizer announced on Thursday that they were ending their pension plan. Yep, everyone will now be transitioned to a 401K. Isn’t that special?

    Not special – typical. I am certainly sorry this happened to you guys, but my sense of outrage is somewhat tempered by the fact that nobody howled for me when my pension was “transitioned” to a 401K back in 1982 or when much of the retirement for Federal civilian workers was transitioned to the 401k-like TSP in 1986.

    I can hardly wait for you guys to discover that, even if you could afford to, the “nondiscrimination provisions” enacted 1996 won’t let you make the maximum 401K contributions – mainly because the low-paid H1B workers your company is bringing in to displace higher paid Americans are lowering your company’s “average contribution rate”. None of this will affect executive bonuses, options, and golden parachutes, of course. That would be “class warfare”.

    What I find especially delicious about the 401K scam is the way it takes long-term capital gains, which would normally be taxed at a low rate, and magically converts them into “ordinary income” so that you can be taxed at an artificially high rate after you retire. Less income, more risk, and ultimately higher taxes – all covered with a tasty frosting of brokerage commissions and management fees for Wall Street! That’s the 401K in a nutshell. It’s the perfect weapon of mass financial destruction, aimed right at the middle class.

    • how is it that you’ve missed my diatribes against the 401k ponzi scheme? I’ve been speaking up for a long time. Go do a search on it. You’re preaching to the crowd here.

    • When “they” came for you in 1982, propertius, we didn’t say anything, because we weren’t you…And when “they” came for the Federal workers in 1986, we didn’t say anything, because we weren’t Federal workers…Now they’ve come for the scientists, and…

      • . . . bitter Federal workers and bitter Federal civilian workers as well as outsourced ex-manufacturing ex-workers are saying: ” at last, a taste of their own medicine.” That vengeful bitterness, however misplaced, will have to be somehow overcome or disarmed before ex-thingmakers and ex-labworkers can merge ranks and battleplans in the social class warfare underway.

    • For someone who still has a job and makes “so much” money over brute survival expenses that contributing to a 401k would be possible, would it be mandatory? If it is not mandatory, that would make it voluntary by default, would it not? And that would mean that a still-employed worker in that position would be able to opt out of 401k and put the money into genuine personal wealth-and-survival building, right? Such as pre-paying the principal on their mortgage as fast as possible to disconnect themselves soonest from the interest-extraction system. And paying more for shinola food today to avoid the sickness expenses tomorrow which befall those who spend a lifetime saving money on shitfood rather than saving health by investing in shinolafood. There are other such ways by which one can
      invest ones otherwise-401k money in genuine unmonetized unmonetizable personal financial-system lamprey-immunized wealth.

  8. Well, I power washed the deck. I won’t say it looks new but it definitely looks different. There was a layer of oxidized wood that came off. There’s a section of the deck that is exposed to full sun for most of the day. That even came clean and looks better but I’ll get a better look tomorrow when it’s all dried. The power washer is amazing.
    I also chopped down some volunteer trees that always seem to congregate outside my dining room window. This is the third time I’ve had to cut the suckers back. I feel like an explorer chopping through the jungle with a machete. It wears me out. So, anyway, my nosy neighbor just happened to be strolling in the back of my house by the retention basin, no particular reason. Jeez, she has to check everything out. Do I go around to her house and poke my nose into her business? No, I do not.
    Tomorrow, the creeping juniper has got to go and I have to contact the association about the pine tree that is eating the front of my house.
    I’m exhausted.

    • One wonders if there is a way to put some malaria mosquitos in that retention basin for the nosy neighbor.

  9. has anyone here ever sanded a deck?

    • Oh oh…power washer not a friend to old wooden decks. My DH power washed an older wooden picnic table and benches. It lifted the grain and we all get splinters now. I bought cushions.

  10. “And we’re still not at war with Iran.”

    I figure she begged, borrowed, and stole 20-30 years of relative stability. The creative class genuises of the Facebook generation will have to take it from there.

  11. Trying to protect the ‘crown juvels’, is he? It certainly doesn’t look like Geithner is all that, ahem, comfortable being so close to Hillary Clinton. 😀

  12. Riverdaughter,

    If your Plan B involves living somewhere in Pennsylvania, you might want to read an article by Curt Cobb over at the Energy Bulletin website. The article is called How The Fracking Crisis Is About To Make The Mortgage Crisis A Whole Lot Worse. If I were at a better computer, I could offer the link.

    At the very least, you might want to see whether there is any Marcellus Shale deep underneath where you plan to live . . . and whether your possible house location choices are downwind or downstream or downplume from present or future fracking operations.

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