People are going to write me about this and say things like “Hey! Costco can’t be a patriot! It’s a business!” Oh, but my friends, as Mitt Romney used to say, corporations are people! So, once you get your head wrapped around the completely absurd concept of a bunch of crap lined up on some shelves being somehow human, the rest of the Orwellian idea will come a lot easier. Thank you, Supreme Court of the United States, for the silliest and most contrary decision of the nation’s judicial history.

But back to Costco. We live in times of dueling corporations, and they are dueling for every last nickel of discretionary income you’ve got in your wallet. Walmart, Sam’s Club, Costco, Walgreen’s, Kohl’s, ATT, Lowe’s, Piggly-Wiggly (couldn’t resist), and onward ad nauseum are those who vie for your cash.

But let’s compare Costco to Wal-Mart. It’s all the rage right now! Because it would appear that offering sub-poverty wages and manipulating the system so those poor souls you hire wind up working fewer hours and thus saving your megacorporation from having to foot the bill for their health care, isn’t translating into higher profits. In fact, Costco leads Wal-Mart by a significant margin. Wal-mart, only saw a 1.2% rise in year on sales, Costco’s most recent quarterly earnings report showed an 8% rate of growth in year on sales, a 5% rise in same-store sales, and an almost $70 million rise in membership fees.

Wow. So maybe screwing people isn’t actually the way to go.

Wal-Mart relies greatly on a concept called “externalization” to maximize their profits. Simply put, they take whatever they can get from whomever they can cajole, intimidate, crap on, or steal from to prop up their business plan of furnishing cheap Chinese trash for people who have almost no money. I haven’t bought anything from Wal-Mart that actually worked, and since I’ve only gone there like 3 times in my life, they are batting 100% for failure. I have almost cut off my fingers using other people’s flimsy Wal-Mart knives. I have seen people shred cheese on a Wal-Mart shredder and then have to pick pieces of broken plastic out of the bowl. Eesh. Virtually everything they sell has been produced in China at bottom dollar, and it shows. Yet people keep going there! Because they are BROKE! Why are they broke? Because if they work for Wal-Mart or some other corporation who has taken the Wal-Mart screw-everybody-you-can-including-your-customers path to glory and riches, they don’t make enough money to survive! I mean, there’s rent, there’s food, there’s bills, and there’s transportation.

If you are a schlub Wal-Mart employee, you average between $8 and $10 per hour. If you are an upper-tier Wal-Mart employee, you might climb into the $12 an hour average. If you are Mike Duke, Walmart CEO, you make over $23 MILLION dollar a year, which is over ONE THOUSAND AND THIRTY FOUR TIMES what the MEDIAN – not poorest, but MEDIAN – Walmart employee makes.

Half of Walmart workers made less than $22,400 in 2012, according to PayScale, which is below poverty level for a family of four. Which translates into this: the American taxpayer subsidizes the profits of low-wage/benefits employers like Walmart, through food stamps and Medicaid. Wal-Mart’s poverty wages force employees to rely on $2.66 billion in government help every year, or about $420,000 per store. In state after state, Wal-Mart employees are the top recipients of Medicaid. As many as 80 percent of workers in Wal-Mart stores use food stamps. This costs the American taxpayer about $1 billion per year!

And that’s some very cunning externalization of costs right there. You may never set foot in a scuzzy Walmart store, but you are paying them through the nose anyway.

So, what about Costco? Costco, for your info, is based in Issaquah, Washington. Yes, the very Washington State that hosts Microsoft and Starbuck’s. Washington State has this thing called a “gross receipt tax” (in Washington State it is called the “Business and Occupation Tax”. This means that companies based in Washington have to pay a tax on everything they sell, with different kinds of businesses paying different rates of the B & O tax. Example: standard retailer (which I would assume Costco is) pays a .0471 tax rate. But a service industry pays a LOT more – 1.8%. So Washington is not bad, but not that great, right? Whatever, because like most of the tax code, it is so completely and unnecessarily complicated that any conclusion is doubtless wrong.

So, let’s compare Costco to Walmart:
(These are workplace statistics as reported by the companies.)


 Employees covered by company health insurance
Costco – 82%
Wal-Mart – 48%
Insurance-enrollment waiting periods (for part-time workers)
Costco – 6 months
Wal-Mart – 2 years
Portion of health-care premium paid by company
Costco – 92%
Wal-Mart – 66%
Annual worker turnover rate
Costco – 24%
Wal-Mart – 50%
Company Size
Costco – fourth-largest U.S. retailer
Wal-Mart – world’s largest retailer
Fulltime employee’s average hourly wage
Costco – $17
Wal-Mart – s $9.68.
CEO’s total 2004 pay
Costco – James Sinegal [Issaquah, Washington-based] $2.7 million
Wal-Mart – H. Lee Scott [Bentonville, Arkansas] $17.9 million 

Wow! Kind of looks like Costco is doing some heavy lifting for the American way of life! Unlike Walmart, who is unrepentantly sticking it to the nation as a whole, and their own workers in particular. And remember, Walmart is the institution that was taking out life-insurance policies on their poverty-wage workers so if the unfortunate employee got run over by a bus while running to get to work on time, or got sadly killed by the manager of the local Walmart for attempting to unionize, or perhaps was crushed by a toppling pile of cheap Chinese imported crap, WALMART COULD STILL PROFIT OFF THE COLD DEAD CORPSE! I guess it is not illegal, but it sure is creepy. And we expect these sleazeballs to actually be good for us as Americans?

Oh, come on. Leopard, spots, you get the picture. How about if we all stop going to Walmart. It would be the patriotic, America-loving thing to do.





Pat Robertson, AKA The Proxy Boss of You

Recent question from a “700 Club” listener name of Ken:

“Why do amazing miracles (people raised from the dead, blind eyes open, lame people walking) happen with great frequency in places like Africa, and not here in the USA? What can we do to encourage those things to happen here? Is America too far gone for miracles like this?” — KEN

In other words, “How come cool Jesus-y shit just don’t happen in the USA anymore?” This, from a citizen in a nation where 8 out of 10 people express belief in angels.

Here’s Pat’s answer:
”Those people overseas didn’t go to Ivy League schools. Well, we’re so sophisticated, we think we’ve got everything figured out, we know about evolution, we know about Darwin, we know about all these things that says God isn’t real, we know about all this stuff.  And if we’d be in many schools, the more advanced schools, we have been inundated with  skepticism and secularism.  Overseas they’re simple, humble. You tell them God loves them, and they say ‘ok, he loves me’. You say ‘God will do miracles’ and they say ‘okay, we believe him.’ And that’s what God’s looking for, that’s why they have miracles.” – PAT ROBERTSON

Okay, so let me just see if I have got this straight. Cool Jesus-y shit don’t happen in the US anymore because we aren’t big enough suckers? Because we’ve been exposed to too much reality? Because we are not “simple” or “humble” or “freakin’ Third World cargo-culters?” We are “too educated”  and “too secular” and “too advanced”?

Pat, you are an idiot. There is a very simple reason that miracles don’t occur in the developed world. Pay attention, now.


No more Madonnas weeping bloody tears, or Jesus portraits appearing on oil tanks and tortillas. Because anybody with a cell phone can take a picture of some “miracle”, and guess what? IT ISN’T A MIRACLE AFTER ALL! It’s bugs walking on statues, or rusty steel, or burned tortillas that look like … burned tortillas. No miracles.

Maybe Pat should get behind the Obama multi-million dollar push to “map the brain”, because apparently, that’s where all this miraculous bullpucky occurs. Not out here, but inside – there. Your head. Grand Central of such marvelous brain-originated happenings like addiction, sleepwalking, waking dreams, mass hallucinations, hysteria, and Republican thinking processes.

If God is so red-hot to have people come on over to his side, why aren’t there more talking snakes and burning bushes? Because if I met either one, I’d probably be converted right then and there, and so would a whole lot of doubters. But it would have to be pretty clear I wasn’t just manufacturing the situation in my own mind. Like, when God told Pat Robertson that Romney was gonna win in a landslide, and when God told George Bush what a stellar idea it was to invade Iraq. WTF? Were they really convinced that God was talking to THEIR sorry asses, of all people? Was it because they were simple, humble suckers? (If there is one word that does NOT describe either W. Bush or Pat Robertson, it is the word HUMBLE). Or, could it have been – THEY WERE CRAZY, as in hearing-voices crazy? There are cases of temporary insanity, you know. And it would appear that these big blasts of faithfulness were calculated to get the faith-havers what they wanted, like a Romney presidency or a big-ass war. Susan B. Anthony said it best: “I distrust those people who know so well what God wants them to do, because I notice it always coincides with their own desires.” But for ordinary Citizen X, unquestioning faith gets you mostly nowhere very different from where you were going to be anyway, and sometimes to a lot worse.

Here’s the question most of us atheists would like to ask devout religious people – how would you know it’s actually God talking to you and not that other guy? Cuz from what I’ve been told, sometimes it is hard to tell them apart, especially judging from what happens to lovely good-hearted religious people, like cancer, Alzheimer’s and car wrecks, and what happens to evil people, like Wall Street bankers, who are still screwing all of us, getting away with it, and massively enriching themselves in the process. Wow, that’s one just God you’re talking about there, Pat! Definitely a candidate for my simpleminded, unreasoning, unsophisticated FAITH!

Here’s what bugs me about Pat’s version of “faith”. Not only are there no legitimate miracles being perpetrated, either here or in Swaziland (how racist can you get, Pat?) but what actually goes on in the world is the exact ANTITHESIS of what this superbeing with an interest in our paltry little lives would want us to believe. The evidence is that IF (very big “if”) there is somebody with powers out there, he/she does not give much of a shit about what any of us do or don’t do. No deserved rewards, no meting out of justice, no karma, instant or otherwise, no smiting or punishing or whales swallowing people or pillars of salt. Just luck and being in the right (or wrong) place at the right (or wrong) time. But still, we are all supposed to have FAITH, because some dudes from the Bronze Age cobbled together the myths and stories from previous epochs into this thing called a Bible, and then other, newer dudes decided they didn’t like a bunch of it and threw it out (that would be the Gnostic Gospels, if we are talking Christianity), and then some even more recent dudes decided there was stuff missing that they wanted in there, so they wrote it in. Now of course, there is another Biblical rehash going on where the Republicans have decided that a bunch of that social-service emphasis in the New Testament is just too nicey-nice, so they are beavering away to rewrite the parts they don’t like. There’s a text to be trusted, all right! One that’s had so many hands picking around in it, it looks like the aftermath of a Chinese restaurant family feast!

Pat Robertson … sigh. The real miracle here is that the guy gets paid huge bucks for spreading self-serving manure. If only we were all so blockheaded and simple as he. It would indeed be a blithe existence.