Slack Chat: Small Hands, Small Feet, Small Business

T: Ok, J, let’s start with the premise: Mueller won’t move. The idea is that this is factual, and that we can safely eliminate any possible malfeasance on Mueller’s part, that this is not a partisan witch hunt.

That’s a pretty confident premise, so take it with a grain. But we want to analyze the reaction, not the investigation. That – the investigation’s conclusion and the far left and right’s psychotic overreactiona – will come in time.

J: Duly noted. As the wise man once said, we’ll burn that bridge when we come to it.

T: So given that premise, what are the reactions from each of these perspectives?

J: My guess is a lot of drinking.

T: Hold on, I’m not done setting it up.

J: So we’ll drink out of the bottle, then.

T: Just hold your horses.

J: Hold your donkey.

T: So the far left … the educated left – the far left – is where you find your environmental-Nazis, your Rainbow-Nazis, and all your other forms of fascist liberalism.

What are these yahoos thinking?

J: The far left believes that Trump is ipso facto evil. The antifa types, Bernie Bros and suchlike probably think that Mueller is moving too slowly. In their mind, Trump should have been impeached yesterday, as well as Pence, Ryan, McConnell, and their respective dogs.

T: My take on the Nazi left is that they are so obsessed with hating Trump that a centrist dictator could replace him and they would throw a party. They are, like any extreme group, so off balance that they can be tipped over by a butterfly’s feather duster. They think every Mueller interview subject is automatically a traitor to the nation.

T: Just to be clear, I don’t think Bernie is far left. Bernie is middle left, in my mind. The far left is more like drunk Bernie. They’ve lost their inhibitions, their self-control, and their perspective.

J: OK… it doesn’t really change my assessment, except that Bernie probably wouldn’t impeach the dogs.

T: Bernie is almost a smart far-lefty, which doesn’t actually exist (Easter Bunny, etc.). Anyone that smart can’t be that far left unless it’s the Unabomber, or somebody like that. So he can’t be that far left and still be sane. Ipso facto, bingo bango, he’s mid-left. Whoopo doopso, or whatever the Latin is for that. E. Plurbus Getonthedonkey?

J: E. Normus Donkey

T: We can’t stay on the rails very long, can we?

J: We do seem to have a way of sliding onto different tracks.

T: Getting on the wrong donkey.

J: There’s a RIGHT donkey?

T: There are right whales. But enough about my mother in law.

J: Ba-dum, WHACK! (your mother-in-law’s rolling pin)

T: She was a professional wrestler.

J: Really?

T: Yep. As far as you know.

J: That joke – using the term loosely – sounds like a British thing. “My sister weighs 30 stone; she’s a right whale.”

T: That’s 420 pounds.

J: Do whales not weigh more than that?

T: Well sure, but they don’t have to walk.

J: Or eat kidney pie.

T: One of my college classes talked about how whales didn’t stay in the ocean, but how they returned to the ocean. That right whale is actually an evolved manatee.

J: It evolved to be 20 times the size?

T: Is that a fat joke?

J: I’m not sure.

T: Well, 20 is a lot. Even Blue Whales top out around 100 feet, and Manatees aren’t exactly svelte.

J: “How much does a manatee weigh?” “Honey, come step on the scale, will ya?”

T: And then the fight started.

 J: “Local Man Found With Scale Rammed Up Ass, Film at 11”

T: Film at 11? Why would there be film?

J: Breaking news: Local manatee needs new scale.

T: Wow, you got ‘em locked and loaded today.

J: Local proctologist: “I’ve never seen anything like this. Maybe a champagne bottle, but never an entire bathroom scale.”

T: Especially not one of those stand-up scales with the weights and the extension bar to measure height. I’m afraid to find out how long that thing is extended right now.

J: “Rectum? She damn near killed him!”

T: If she wants revenge, plug him with super glue and feed him beans, Ex-Lax and lots and lots of Velveeta.

J: The human torch wishes he could burn things like that asshole can.

T: Whatever you do, do not type “painful insertion” into google.

Judging by your delay, you just did, didn’t you?

J: I’m back. But I’ll never be the same.

T: So how far are we from the memo road?

J: Recalculating….

A long fucking way.

T: We’re so deep in the weeds now we couldn’t get out with a chainsaw.

J: With a combine.

*****

T: Hey J, did you see the article that said, “Trump claims memo vindicates him, but he never read the memo”? We both know the writer made it up, but we both know it is true too, don’t we?

J: The more amazing thing to me is that Nunes never read the damn thing; Gowdy did most of the writing. Nunes just signed off on it.

T: Isn’t Nunes the guy who ran to the White House with classified information and shared it with Trump, despite everyone telling him it was illegal?

J: Yeah, he already got himself ethics-investigated for that. He went through the legal process this time, so he won’t get the carpet-call again, but the whole charade shows that he’s a hopeless partisan hack.

T: Was he part of the campaign, or is he just a tool?

J: He’s just a tool. He’s a congressman, so he wasn’t part of the campaign.

Speaking of tools, did you see this?

Social media users slam Ryan for tweet on $1.50 pay hike

Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) was criticized Saturday on social media for citing a Pennsylvania woman whose paycheck went up by $1.50 a week as a success of the recently passed GOP tax-reform bill.

T: The corporate tax cut might best compare to what was going on in the late 19th century. Have you looked at that?

J: I hadn’t thought about that, but that’s actually a pretty good comparison. Instead of trusts, there are all these enormous corporations, and robber barons running them. We need a Teddy Roosevelt to come along with his big stick and start busting up some corporations.

T: I think the key word here, to replace “trust,” is “franchise.” I don’t care about the multi-company corporations as much as I care about how a few businesses are allowed to corner every retail market in the country.

J: What kinds of businesses are you talking about? Most corporations don’t franchise… things like Walmart are everywhere, but they’re corporately owned, not franchised.

T: The common thing isn’t independent ownership; it’s absentee ownership. The fascist business model, where the bosses act like the owner is looking over their shoulder. Any business that is required to use a strict template from a central office is a franchise, in my mind. If there is a template, it’s a franchise, no matter who owns it. It’s controlled by the template, not the so-called independent owner.

J: I see your point about standardization, and it’s a fair one. Standardization just serves to stifle creativity, but in a really large business like McDonald’s, standardization works. If you go to a McDonald’s pretty much anywhere in the US, you know what you’re gonna get.

T: Yes, it’s standardized, like a goose-stepping soldier. And it shuts out everyone else. I mean, what are we bemoaning here? It has nothing to do with stifling creativity. It stifles competition.

J: Well, I like knowing what I’m getting for my money, you granola-munching Luddite.

T: What? I’m a what?

J: A Luddite. They are like the Amish, but without all that human kindness and technological savvy.

T: So I’m the Unachurner?

J: More like the UnaMilker.

T: I can’t churn butter, but I can milk a cow?

J: Or a bull. I don’t judge.

T: That always takes forever.

J: Ok, you win. I’m not climbing the next logical rung on that ladder to bovine Hell.

T: Yeah, run away, you swastika-polishing Hittite.

J: Hittite? I’m – no, never mind. You were saying?

T: Hittites all had heads shaped like candy corn.

J: You were saying????

T: Franchising kills small business. Neighborhood markets can’t compete with big-box stores.

J: There’s always going to be a place for the mom-and-pop store in the business world. Not everyone lives close enough to a Walmart to make it worthwhile to go there, and a lot of the people who do don’t go there because going to Walmart sucks so hard.

Mom and Dad can’t compete with the company that buys 10,000 refrigerators at a time on price. But what good is saving a hundred bucks on a refrigerator if you have to pay $200 to have it shipped to your house in Outer Bumbolia?

T: Walmart isn’t a bad place to go, but having a Walmart close by kills mom and pop businesses. And Walmarts always build on the edge of cities, where they can suck the money out without having to pay local taxes.

J: That’s where Teddy comes in, I think.

T: Trustbusting … how about franchise-busting? Corporations can own as many businesses as they want to, but they cannot standardize their stores.

J: How do you put the genie back in the bottle?

T: Call Standardization plagiarism. Advertising will have to adjust accordingly. Give ’em five years to divest or diversify. After the five-year waiting period, no two businesses in the same state can have the same name. No businesses owned by the same person (or LLC) can have the same name, or operate with the same template. Punishable by death.

J: Death?

T: Ok, punishable by forced liquidation and a fine large enough to keep them from just rebuilding on the next block. We need to stop these bloodsuckers, not merely slow them down.

J: Well, bloodsuckers don’t die easily.

T: Anyone caught giving standardized instructions will be tossed into elephant porn.

J: Well, that would stop me from standardizing. Just sayin’.

T: We might need something different for all the elephant fetishists.

J: So what size business gets the stick?

T: Size doesn’t matter. It’s all about standardization. Any business with a standardized template is a franchise. If you own two stores it’s fine, but the manager of each store has to be allowed to operate independently. You can’t have a regional manager come in and standardize operations, products, menus, prices or policies.

It sounds draconian, but I guarantee if the founding fathers (or Teddy) had thought of it, they would have done it. Franchising kills innovation, it kills competition, and ultimately it kills neighborhoods. The only decent neighborhoods anywhere are the ones where they outlaw franchises.

J: I agree that something needs to be done to protect the small retailer, but I think the better answer is on the carrot side. Give small retailers tax advantages or incentives rather than penalizing big businesses for being big. The big businesses are here to stay, so we have to find a way to keep the little guys from being squashed like a beetle under a cement truck.

T: Well, how to you get on a donkey like Maria?

J: If I could get on a donkey like Maria, I wouldn’t have to work.

T: That’s not what I meant, but I’m not arguing. Maria can really get on a donkey.

J: Who is Maria, anyway?

T: I don’t know.

J: People have come to like the convenience of being able to buy anything in the world on Amazon and have it in their hands in a day or two. Brick-and-mortar stores need to adapt to the changing times. They’ve done it before, and they’ll do it again.

T: They are going to adapt by dying out.

J: They’ll adapt by going into online business themselves. It’s already starting to happen. Commercial real-estate vacancy rates are skyrocketing. I think Sears will eventually be an online-only business; and a lot of its competition will suffer the same fate.

T: Well, they still have to have products to sell. Storefronts might become glorified warehouses, with a bit of traffic but mostly just a back room. In effect, instead of a restaurant, with tables and waiters, there will be front rooms with an attendant who can get stuff, a driver to deliver, and a crew that sends shit out through the mail or UPS. Storefront express.

J: Do you think small business can make a comeback any time soon?

T: Sure, but I’m talking after the current battle of the old white guy bulge is over.

J: That’s an unsightly bulge.

T: Her: “is he really hung?”

Her friend: “No, that’s a hernia.”

T: We are in the midst of a consolidation right now, going in the wrong direction for small business to thrive. With Trump in office, the tax rates slashed and a half-dozen mega-businesses dominating the American market, small business is priced completely out of the market. But it can only get so greedy before the pendulum swings back, and it will be time to let the little guy breath again. He’s been choking since Reagan cut his tax jugular, so it’s been a long time coming.

J: At what point do we start seeing antitrust actions? I know there have been some in the insurance industry; Aetna wanted to buy Cigna but that got nixed by the feds. When do you think we’ll start seeing similar actions in retail?

T: One encouraging sign is that most of the giant businesses – Amazon, Facebook, a couple of others – are owned by liberal-minded people. I don’t subscribe to liberalism in general, but fiscally we need restraint, balance and discretion. The one percenters, the Trump-era fat cats, they were raised to be greedy, cheaty and selfish. The new generation of newly-rich seems to have some depth to it.

J: How do you classify Facebook as a monopoly? You can’t… but it obviously has an enormous influence throughout society.

T: Facebook isn’t a monopoly, but they are allowed to profit freely off of the intellectual property of others to such a grotesque extent that I can’t imagine it would be hard to fit a constitutional exception up Zuckerberg’s rectum.

J: One fart and he’ll go up like the Hindenburg.

T: Speaking of gasbags.

J: I got a good one about gasbags.

T: Well, put a pin in it for now; this thing is long enough as it is.

J: Ok, I did, and now it’s flapping around the room.