Tuesday, September 30, 2008

There's nothing erotic about errata...

The title of this post really has nothing to do with the content, but Bill and I had a funny little exchange about errata and erotica, since the two terms sound so very similar. He was complaining about a little work screw-up he was kicking himself over, and I was sympathizing by telling him I had many sleepless nights fretting about my errata. He said, "your erotica?" To which I responded "I wish! There's nothing erotic about errata." Those may be the truest words I've ever spoken...

But I digress. What I want to talk about is the fabulous weekend I spent in my booth at OFFF! I love this little festival more and more each year. I didn't bring my camera and neglected to snap any shots with my Blackberry (I am the worst photographer EVER), but you can see a nice shot of my booth over at Lavender Sheep. Yvonne and her hubby were our booth neighbors and we all had a great time out on the lawn, listening to the sheep and goat chatter drifting over from the barns behind us and being tortured by the wonderful smells of the barbeque and kettle corn booths that were our neighbors on the other side.

The show was CROWDED this year and people were in the mood to buy yarn and patterns! I guess when the economy starts to go, knitting looks like a better and better hobby - compare a scarf knit with a $30 skein of Sea Silk, providing hours of entertainment and then hours of practical use to a movie for a family of four, at $9 a pop for the tickets plus the ridiculous cost of concessions...the scarf looks like a pretty good deal! Socks are even better, since you can get a damn nice skein of sock yarn for around $20 and keep yourself entertained for a good long time knitting them up.

It was a nice break from the endless coverage of the current financial crisis. Since Bill works in the financial sector, he's waiting very impatiently for the bail-out package to be hammered out. He gets very frustrated with the news coverage, particularly people who comment on the situation who really don't know what they're talking about. It's such a complicated problem, and people rely so heavily on sound-bites and form their opinions based on others' opinions rather than taking the time to sort out the actual facts of the situation. Of course, without knowing exactly what's in the bill, we're all in that same boat. Bill's opinion is that we'll all be better off if there's more liquidity in the market, and that the bail-out could turn out well for both people who are in foreclosure and for the taxpayers, if it's structured well.

It's easy to see the bail-out as a parachute for wealthy executives who screwed things up, but it's so much more complicated than that - the plan needs to be structured to help people on the verge of foreclosure restructure their loans. Our current economy is based on the principle that the rich should get richer on the backs of the working class. While I think that it's ridiculous that CEOs get huge salaries and bonuses even when they fail, I find it more ridiculous that CEOs and executives are rewarded for short-term gains as opposed to working to make companies viable and strong over the long term. This short-term profit obsession is incredibly damaging, I think, and it encourages companies to continually come up with ways to increase profitability without any regard for their employees or even the quality of their products. Sometimes government regulation and controls are a good thing, even though free-market purists scream at that idea at the top of their lungs. Without any kind of controls, the pirates of high-finance reign (anyone seen Wall Street lately?).

Wal-Mart, aka the evil empire, is continually profitable because they're very aggressive in seeking out the best possible deals on their merchandise, abusing their suppliers and relying on foreign sweat-shop workers rather than quality goods made by Americans who are paid fair wages and get good benefits. I remember when Wal-Mart was all about "Made in the USA". How far they've fallen from that worthy goal. They also make their record profits on the backs of their employees, who aren't paid fair wages and are continually discouraged from unionizing in order to lobby for fair treatment. Instead of providing health benefits for their workers, Wal-Mart encourages them to go on Medicaid so that taxpayers provide their benefits and Wal-Mart gets off scot-free. Their employees, who continue to get paid poverty-level wages, have no choice but to shop at places like Wal-Mart because they offer such low prices (or so they think), completing the vicious cycle. Small businesses who pay their employees good wages, invest in their communities and provide benefits are forced out of business because they can't compete. Their employees than have to go work at Wal-Mart because it's the only game left in town.

Can you tell I don't like Wal-Mart? I just find it to be such a classic example of how the rich are getting richer on the backs of the working class. Why is it that Wal-Mart gets all these tax breaks even though they're rolling in dough already? Why are communities expected to subsidize Wal-Mart in this way, just because Wal-Mart will supposedly bring jobs to town? Never mind that they'll take away better-paying jobs by driving local businesses out of business... This cycle has got to stop if we want our society to become more equitable. Trickle-down economics just don't work, unless you happen to be one of the rich elite and don't care what happens to the rest of society.

SCREECH! All right, back up, I've been listening to too much NPR! I think I need to go knit something. Sheesh!


Blogger Beverly said...

People in my knit group don't understand why I won't go to Wal-Mart for them to sponsor any of our programs or projects and why I call them the Evil Empire, too.

After the story where they sued the employee for insurance money because she had the nerve to survive her illness, I am convinced I will never shop there again let alone allow them to use their 'blood money' to help us with our mission.

Thanks for the info on the bail out. It makes a great deal of sense. I hope it doesn't drive your husband completely crazy!

12:42 PM  
Blogger Tonya said...

I have NPR syndrome, too. We cut out cable (more money for yarn!) and have become even more addicted lately with the election/economy stuff. I hope everything works out for your husband (and the rest of the country - we're all in this together!)

1:53 PM  
Blogger Knifty Knitter said...

I have to kind of disagree with the "rich getting richer on the backs of the working class." When did rich people become a separate entity from the working class? All the rich people I know work extremely hard and earn every cent they make. I have a close friend whose father lived in a different city just so he could work and support his family. They lived in a very nice $2 million house but they weren't flashy or frivolous with their spending. And don't think the rich are untouched by the financial crisis. My friend's dad just got laid off about 6 months ago. He hasn't been able to find a job because, "Who would want a 65 year old man who was making 6 digits?" Now his family is in danger of losing their home and possessions. That certainly had nothing to do with riding the backs of the working class. I know there are rich people who worked their way up and deserve everything they got. My dad is the vice president of a company that he helped start. He started as a sales clerk and worked his way up. I can personally see the effect that raising taxes on "large business" has for our family. He has been working at this job for almost 30 years and he isn't able to retire any time soon or even work from home. In fact he still delivers things to customers on a daily basis. I think the issue of the rich getting richer at the expense of others has less to do with government perks and more to do with the personal ethics of the people in charge. Not all businesses should be lumped together and have to suffer because of some bad apples.

4:41 PM  
Blogger knittinmom said...

Knifty Knitter, I think you might've missed my point a little bit. I never said that "rich people" don't work hard - I'm sure that most CEOs who earn seven or eight figure salaries work extremely hard. They have burdens and responsibilities that most of us can't even imagine. However, I don't think that they should be rewarded with extra millions because they come up with some way to save their company gazillions of dollars at the expense of their workers. I don't think companies should get tax breaks for moving jobs overseas. I don't think business owners should fight every increase in the minimum wage tooth and nail. If the average person doesn't have any money to spend because it's all going to health insurance or housing payments, how are small and medium-sized businesses going to survive?

I like money as much as the next person, don't get me wrong. My husband's job is, I often joke, to help the rich get richer. However, those "rich" are executives at small community banks who are often very integral parts of little towns in the middle of nowhere. I think that small and medium-sized businesses are the lifeblood of this country, and I think they also share an unfair burden while the giant corporations get perks and tax breaks because it "helps the market" and "creates jobs".

Personally, I try to shop local as much as I can and vote with my dollars. I have nothing but respect for businesses who do the right thing by their employees - I am talking about those corporations that are only concerned with short-term profit regardless of who they have to exploit to get it. As a small business owner, I really like Obama's ideas for helping out small and medium-sized businesses. McCain? Well, he could care less about me and my business - he's only going to lower taxes for large corporations.

5:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bravo! (about evil Wal-Mart, etc)
I have a pix of your booth at OFFF on my blog if you want to see. http://goodfruit.wordpress.com
Happy Knitting!

11:33 AM  

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