César Chávez, Charlie Sheen & the Price of Gasoline
Barbwire by Barbano / Expanded from the 3-6-2011 Daily Sparks Tribune / Updated 3-21-2011, 7-31-2011
Everybody knows the dice are loaded.
Everybody rolls with their fingers crossed.
Everybody knows the war is over.
Everybody knows the good guys lost.
Everybody knows the fight was fixed.
The poor stay poor, the rich get rich.
That's how it goes. Everybody knows.
The new season of Barbwire TV. The first show will be about (what else?) jobs. The lack of them is well documented. How we've blown them and where they can be regenerated, that's something else. I guarantee you'll get mad enough to want to get even. Watch NevadaLabor.com for show times. Help us get the word out.
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If Reform Fails: Health Care, Jobs and Unions new power to the people on the public airwaves
The program premiers were available to every television set in the region because of a high-mileage media hybrid.
The shows appeared on both commercial and community stations. The non-corporate entity produced the events, commercial TV greatly expanded distribution.
Thus began an ongoing series of sane public interest programs which generate both entertaining heat and more than a little light.
Please spread the word and consider contributing to the cause online at ReSurge.TV.
You may also take the public option known as the U.S. Postal Service and send a check or money order to ReSurge.TV, P.O. Box 10034, Reno NV 89510.
Your contribution will help fund the distribution of the Dec. 6 and Feb. 21 programs as well as ongoing efforts at developing new media, including a regional, non-corporate community radio station.
You are present at the creation of what I hope can become a new media model where the programming accurately reflects what's happening on the ground and the media impact is powerful enough to forcefully pass the message upward.
Be well. Raise hell.
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If you're tired of getting raped and pillaged at the gas pump, you will find all you need to know at the NevadaLabor.com Oilogopoly Archive and that's the end of today's column.
But I don't think our indefatigable editor would agree, so I have to write it again like I've been doing for the past two decades.
Here goes: The price you pay for gasoline has little or nothing to do with Libya, Alaska, the Gulf oil spill or anything other than corporate greed.
It is also burning testament that BigOil can afford much better lawyers than do governments.
It all started in those halcyon early days of Reagan deregulation. ARCO killed its credit card program in 1982, promising lower prices. They sorta kinda delivered and that's why gasoline costs so much today.
ARCO began acting as the stalking horse for the seven sisters, setting the benchmark price in western regions.
The rest of the major brands marked up from there. They were willing to let ARCO set the floor because ARCO's prices would drive independent discounters either out of business or force them to become major brand affiliates to survive.
Once a dealer signs that deal with the devil, he or she yields price control to the company, which allows retailers to fluctuate only two or three cents up or down. Deviate and you don't get gas anymore.
Meanwhile, ARCO's cut-throat pricing kills the independents, executions now largely complete.
More than three of four indies have disappeared in California. A few are allowed to remain in order to preserve the illusion of competition.
In reality, the big boys have successfully conspired to fix prices and it's all legal because they never talk to each other. They need merely check ARCO's signs every morning to see how to price their products.
ARCO, now owned by those wonderful folks at British Petroleum, jacks up the price upon any bad news: an oil refinery fire, a pipeline burst, a war, Mitch McConnell's pants catching fire, you name it.
For decades, we have seen the price of retail gas inexplicably skyrocket immediately after news of some disaster even though current stocks come from petroleum purchased perhaps years ago on the futures market.
So what gives? You do. You give till it hurts and almost nobody will publish the story.
Maybe this will help: Charlie Sheen went nuts because he sniffed overpriced gas. Somebody call FOX News.
Only six major categories are worthy of mass media attention: Sex, drugs, rock 'n' roll, murder, mayhem and rape.
BREAKING NEWS: Incensed over high prices while topping off his tank, Charlie Sheen ripped the top off a gas station attendant.
Unfortunately, it was a hairy guy named Bill.
Better luck next time.
The point is that gasoline price fixing is both boring and expensive.
Four-dollar gas, combined with local, state and federal government budget cuts, will send us into the second half of Great Depression, Part Deux no matter what Duke Boehner of Orange says to the contrary.
There is no chance that Congressional Demolitioncrats will have the courage to push for trustbusting like Teddy Roosevelt a century ago.
Indeed, the breakup of Standard Oil accomplished by TR and the Progressive Era has now largely been reversed and John D. Rockefeller's monster is back at full strength.
A long forgotten commentator came up with the best analogy during the Arab oil embargo of 1973: The oil companies are like the title characters in French novelist Alexander Dumas' The Corsican Brothers, who could read each other's minds without saying a word.
Until the U.S. Justice Department or some ambitious state attorney general decides to screw with the oil companies, we remain screwed, condemned to pay permanently inflated prices by what in effect is a domestic cartel.
They fix prices at whatever level they want and we are allowed to pay if we can. Any politician who says otherwise does so at career peril.
The fight is fixed and American consumers roll over and play dead. We have become so conditioned to making choices where no real choice exists that we say it's hopeless and give up.
Ole John D. Rockefeller could not have engineered it better.
MAGIC MONEY AWARD. The winner is NV Energy boss Michael Yackira, who announced in 2008 that he was voluntarily freezing his pay but somehow still took home about $1.6 million extra over the past two years.
Meanwhile back on Planet Earth, the Nevada Public Utilities Commission sided with IBEW Local 1245 and ordered a full investigation into NVE's allegedly dangerous levels of understaffing which is apparently evident everywhere but at the top. [Update7-31-2011: Responses filed]
POWER TO THE PEOPLE. César Chávez Day IX happens on what would have been his 84th birthday, Thursday, March 31, 2011, at Circus Circus-Reno. Doors open at 5:30 p.m, dinner at 7:00. Go to CesarChavezNevada.com for news, ticket and sponsorship info.
The new Nevada legislative Latino caucus has been invited. As always, we expect a large representation from César Chávez's immediate family.
I invited Gov. Sandoval several weeks ago, but he has not responded.
Hope springs eternal.
BACK FROM THE ASHES DEPT. Support the return of community radio/TV. Go to Barbwire.TV for more information, to join the club and contribute via the web.
Be well. Raise hell.
Andrew Barbano is a 42-year Nevadan, chair of the Nevada César Chávez Committee, producer of Nevada's annual César Chávez Day celebration, first vice-president and political action chair of the Reno-Sparks NAACP, labor/consumer/civil rights advocate, member of Communications Workers of America Local 9413/AFL-CIO and editor of NevadaLabor.com. As always, his opinions are strictly his own. Check local listings for other Nevada cable systems. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Barbwire by Barbano has originated in the Daily Sparks Tribune since 1988.
Nevada Press Assn. annual award winners announced 9-18-2010.
HAT TRICK: Barbwire takes first place for third year in a row.
Next year, we go for the sombrero.
The winning entries:
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The Dean of Reno Bloggers could very well be Andrew Barbano, self-described "fighter of public demons," who started putting his "Barbwire" columns online in 1996 and now runs 10 sites.
RENO NEWS & REVIEW, 11-9-2006
The 2009 first-place Nevada Press Association award winners
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Barbwire / 8-3-2008
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TOLJASO LONG TIME AGO
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Expanded from the 9-6-2009 Daily Sparks Tribune
Propaganda fuels gasoline price fixing
Phillips, Kevin; Numbers Racket: Why the economy is worse than we know
Harper's Magazine; May 2008; page 43
Phillips has authored numerous books on history and politics over the past 40 years. His most recent, Bad Money: Reckless Finance, Failed Politics and the Global Crisis of American Capitalism, was published by Viking on April 15, 2008.
NAOMI WOLF: Fascist America in 10 Easy Steps
There are some things common to every state that's made the transition to fascism. Author Naomi Wolf argues that all of them are present in America today.
Johnson, Chalmers; REPUBLIC OR EMPIRE? A National Intelligence Estimate on the United States; Harper's magazine; January, 2007. I love it when heavy hitters validate what I've been saying for years in the tiny Sparks Tribune.
Barlett, Donald L. and Steele, James B.; America: What Went Wrong? (1992); America: Who Really Pays the Taxes? (1994); America: Who Stole the Dream? (1996) ; Andrews & McMeel/Universal Press Syndicate.
The Orwell Diversion by Alex Carey
Excerpted from the book available below
ORDER Taking the Risk Out of Democracy
Corporate Propaganda versus Freedom and Liberty
By Alex Carey
Edited by Andrew Lohrey
Foreword by Noam Chomsky
University of Illinois Press
SEE ALSO: Lapham, Lewis H.; Tentacles of Rage: The Republican Propaganda Mill, A Brief History; Harper's Magazine cover article; September, 2004, page 32.
By one conservative estimate, the corporate right has spent about $3 billion over the past three decades manufacturing public opinion to suit big business goals. Lapham's number covered the early 1970's to the present day. Alex Carey noted that by 1948, anti- New Deal corporate propaganda expenditures had already reached $100 million per year, not adjusted for inflation, for advertising alone. (Carey, ibid; page 79)
Adjusted for inflation, that 1948 $100 million becomes $801,659,751.04 in 2005 dollars.
Conservatives Help Wal-Mart, and Vice Versa
As Wal-Mart struggles to rebut growing criticism, it has discovered a reliable ally: conservative research groups.
New York Times 9-8-2006; Free registration may be required.
BARBWIRE: Labor Day '94: People vs. corporate con job, 9-4-94
Chilling forecasts from Alex Carey
BARBWIRE: The Nevada Republican Party Becomes Communist, 3-30-97
A prescient Plato on the dangers of oligarchy
The sands of time do not cloud the long memories of the sheiks of Araby
Rinfret, Pierre A.; Peace is Bullish; Look magazine, 5-31-1966
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Copyright © 1982-2011 Andrew Barbano
Andrew Barbano is a 42-year Nevadan, editor of NevadaLabor.com and JoeNeal.org; and former chair of the City of Reno's Citizens Cable Compliance Committee, He is producer of Nevada's annual César Chávez Day celebration and serves as first vice-president, political action chair and webmaster of the Reno-Sparks NAACP. As always, his opinions are strictly his own. E-mail email@example.com.
Barbwire by Barbano premiered in the Daily Sparks (Nev.) Tribune on Aug. 12, 1988, and has originated in those parts ever since. Tempus fugit.
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