Friday, September 14, 2018

The Pirates of the Congress


I have an analogy that may not be the perfect metaphor but for me it is a cautionary tale.  Currently Congress is trying cut way back on social security benefits including Medicare.  I am neither politician nor economist but I do possess a normal amount of common sense.  Social Security and Medicare are not gifts from a benevolent government.  Every employer takes money out of your pay check and sends that money to the government earmarked for your retirement needs. You don’t pay taxes on the money when it is taken out of your salary, but you do pay the taxes on the money when you start receiving it.  It is not free money but it is definitely your money. In principle that money is held by the government as a quasi-saving account that is used for your personal benefit when you reach retirement.  It is your money and my money...not the governments money.... that is never to be forgotten.
Here is my cautionary tale.  
In the rock and roll days of the 80’s comedy clubs,  there were at least two major comedy clubs in ever town of any size. A comedy club is an easy convert from any type of business.  You just need a bar to serve drinks (sometimes food) a small stage and a microphone on a stand. All a comedy club needed to draw a crowd was a funny comic who people wanted to see.  The “product” of a Comedy club was the presentation of comics. 

At first it was a reciprocal deal. Club says to the comic, “If you perform and draw a crowd I will give you part of my profits for the evening.” With more people there, more drinks and dinners were sold.  Comics did well and their salary was somewhat based on their “drawing power”. 

Pretty soon the club was drawing crowds based upon the fact that they were known to employ funny comics.  They said, “How can we make more money given the fact that we are sharing the bar profits with the comic?”  So.... they decided to make the show a “Two drink minimum” making twice as much from the same number of people.  Comics were fine with this because they shared in the increase. 
But that was not enough for the Club. They wanted to keep all the profit from the increased bar sales. So they said, “Comics will no longer get a percentage of the bar profit, we will charge a “cover” or “door charge” and that will be the comics salary.”   Depending on the size of the club and how well the comic could draw, that deal was okay, if not as profitable as the bar percentage.  

This was the standard for awhile, but as the club saw the amount of money that was being taken in “at the door” they said, “We need to keep some of that money.” So the comic was then offered a “percentage” of the door charge.  (A fee that was set up originally as the comics salary.)  But that was eventually not enough.  The club decided that the percentage would begin only after the Club recouped a certain amount of money.  In my day it was a percentage after $6000.00 profit, at the door.  After some time even these contracts were reserved for comics that were a sure draw.

Comedy Clubs are not the steam roller they once were.  They are still around but paying comics minimal salary or “letting” them do a “showcase” for free.  But they do not exist in the numbers they used to.  The greedy clubs were the ones that disappeared first. 

The point is... the minute money was coming in the club decided it was all theirs.  Once the money started coming in the rules changed. Substitute government for the word club and American worker for the word comic and you will see the connection I do.  In a congressional spread sheet the legislators can, with a mere accounting post, take the money you have paid in away from you to use for themselves.  They are trying to make up for the government money short fall from giving tax breaks to the rich by using YOUR money.   The money that was "set aside" for your future benefit. It is greedy, it is uncaring and it is doomed to failure. How long will the workers be willing to have money taken out of their salary, in addition to the taxes they pay, so that the government can fund the rich.  When you are no longer contributing money, because you retired from the work force, you are useless to the government.  Becoming old and sick is your fault, you should have made more money and put some away for these "emergencies".  But wait wasn't that why the whole social security system was set up for, just that contingency?  

The clubs that did not treat its comics well did not survive.  A capitalistic government that does not treat its workers well will not survive either.  This is not an illegal immigrant taking your job, this is the government taking YOUR money. Vote for people who understand this principle.

As you were,
Jay

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Mule Deer Meme

This is a quick anecdote. (An anecdote is just a joke that a raconteur stretches out to a story). Probably too short to be a proper blog, but I didn’t read the terms of service. 
The two things you need to know in advance:
Gary Mule Deer is one of the funniest people I know and I have known him for several decades. He lives in North-South Dakota but travels all over the country. Gary Mule Deer is not necessarily a household name, but he is a comedian’s comedian and a great guy.   It is always a treat when I get to work with Gary Mule Deer, and it never happens often enough. 
He sings funny songs and delivers deadpan comedy lines causing an audience to explode with laughter.    A typical Gary Mule Deer joke: “I saw a butterfly the other day. It had the tattoo of a biker chick on it’s shoulder.”

The second thing you need to know is that I take a regular Pilates class once a week. It is the only time I wear tee shirts out in public. That said I have some great tee shirts that represent my level of humor and I like to show them off in the class. 

Recently I wore one of Gary Mule Deer’s merch tee shirts to class. There is a picture of it above. It is a souvenir from the last time we worked together. Midway through the Pilates class the teacher noticed my tee shirt.   She starred at the image for a second or two, kind of tilted her head to get a different view and said, very slowly, “ A Gary... Mule... Deer.  I don’t get it.” 

Gary Mule Deer is not a Meme. 

As you were,
Jay 

Monday, September 10, 2018

Prime Time Pitch



This is a new game show reality program that is sure to keep America watching.  Shot on location at the Whitehouse and privately owned golf courses, starring an aging television pitch man and failed public servant.  
The opening season of twenty episodes features five “senior staff” members from the Presidential Cabinet each week, competing for Trumps loyalty. Each “contestant” will have a few minutes to verbalize why they love the job of Presidential sycophant more than any others on the staff.  The truth will not be required for this round.  
At the end of the episode the President will have all the contestants into the Oval Office.  Sarah Sanders will read the most flattering things said about the President from each of the contestants. Their actual identity is unknown to the President.  The President will then tweet the flattery he likes the best about himself.  The person who actually said that line will be revealed.  The President will then use the catch phrase.. “You’re a kiss ass.”  
The”kiss ass” then goes to the next round after all 100 senior staff members have a chance to charm the president.  
The 20 “ass kissers” who make it to the second round are divided into 5 groups for the next four shows.  Each one is given an opportunity to tell more about themselves and why they choose to work in an administration so toxic and full of hatred.  More importantly each one will be given a lie detector test with pertinent questions about Russia, actually loyalty and knowledge of who wrote the New York Times Op Ed piece.  At the end of each second round show the President will, based on whim and fantasy, pardon two of the contestants.  
The season finale will bring all those left of the senior staff into the blue room of the Whitehouse.  Their polygraph test results will be displayed on a big screen, with out analyzation results. Finally the results uncovered and the writer of the New York Times Op-ed is revealed. The President will then tweet that the person had nothing to do with his administration and is barely known to the staff. 
Assuming the ratings are big enough for a grand finale season recap special,  the President will shoot the writer of the Op-ed on 5th Avenue in New York to see if he loses voters. 
As you were,
Jay