incoming (2006-05)

Steps Toward Recovery

Sink the Scum, Save Your Vote

News of the Humble

Steps Toward Recovery

Addiction is a hard thing for people who are not addicted to anything to understand. The 12 steps are simply a way to stay sober one day at a time. I went in and out of treatment for five years until I fully conceded to myself that I was an alcoholic. This is not something you can just “get over”; it is a disease that has no known cure. For me, going in and out of treatment proved that to myself.

Today it is the central fact of my life and if I ever forget that then I am surely going to drink again, and for me to drink is to die.

The only known treatment for the disease of alcoholism/addiction is the 12 steps of recovery, and yes, helping the newcomer is the best part; it gives them hope and it shows me where I don’t want to go back to.

Steps House is “The Home of Unconditional Love.” They are not into money, even letting addicts and alcoholics come in off of the streets to run up hundreds of dollars in unpaid rent, only to leave after they are asked to start repaying back rent. I know I was one of them.

Today I owe all that I have to God, who sent me a message through the people of Steps House. Those people really did help to save my life and hundreds just like me. Thank you all for all you do.     

Andrew Collette

Sink the Scum, Save Your Vote

Politicians (from the Greek “poly-” and “ticks,” blood-sucking insects) are voted into office time after time by the real problem—you Americans (I’ve elected Martian citizenship as well, which is how I know Dupree is part eggplant). Politicians are just the pond scum we see floating on top of the water—decorative stuff that pond scum-loving Americans think makes them look like a democracy. The problem is far worse in the corporate world, though, aided, abetted and rewarded by politicians with CEO envy (like penis envy, only without the balls).

To show this kind of ignorance and immorality isn’t confined to politicians, I manage a stock mutual fund, so I read boring but revealing stuff like shareholder proxies that unmask senior management pay in detail. Annual compensation of the hired help (not even the founders of the company, typically only on board for a few years, yet most of the directors—the so-called shareholder watchdogs, commonly misunderstood as watchdogs for shareholders) in public corporations is typically in the millions, and sometimes tens of millions, of dollars per year. Not all of them, but so many there’s no doubt America is a nation consumed by greed, status and display. [To] illustrate if shareholders manage against great odds to get a proposal on the annual proxy ballot over management’s inevitable objections and crooked tactics, and vote overwhelmingly in favor of it, they are simply ignored by management, as well as the board of directors selected by the CEO, the board whose legal and fiduciary obligations are to the shareholders alone, although you would never know it from their actions.

Two or three years ago Meg Whitman, CEO of eBay, in a display of chutzpah that would shame even Abramoff or DeLay, asked shareholders to award her and a few other senior executives over 31 percent of the total outstanding market value of eBay! It was a management incentive package, you see, and it would only be paid out over a few years, and only if management met one of the dozen or two metrics the board would elect to apply only after the fact. Righto. This is a huge company with a market cap of $60 billion. That’s real money, even to a Congressman and his handlers (the polite term is lobbyists, I believe). Shareholders and institutional money managers (all of whom, like boards, also have a legal and fiduciary duty to put the interests of their shareholders before all other considerations) voted overwhelmingly (over 95 percent) in favor of this outrageous proposal. Why? Simple greed—eBay had made them a lot of money.

So what behavior do you Americans chose to criminalize? Prostitution (the non-political variety), drug dealing (the non-corporate, non-tobacco kind), vice (narrowly defined to exclude Congresscum and CEOs). Using taxpayer dollars to support people who grow tobacco and sell cigarettes to children; tolerating CEOs who loot shareholders and employees’ retirement funds so they can “earn” yet another million or two, or add another penny to earnings for Wall Street; and making sure it’s overwhelmingly only the poor who fight wars—that’s okay by most Americans. How many of you supported our troops by serving your country, or asking your kids to? Hell, pimps and Mafia knee-breakers are only marginally unethical compared with the likes of these.

Brother Steve, don’t be so hard on the pond scum. It’s only there because of the conditions in the water below the surface. Aim your editorial cannon at the greedy and immoral creatures swimming in the water below the pond scum—American voters.

Robert Loest

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Joe Acree

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