Party like it's 1929
Expanded from the 8-12-2007 Daily Sparks (Nev.) Tribune

UPDATED 8-21, 8-22, 9-21-2007

"Anyone who ever made money sold out too early."Bernard Baruch

CRASHING THE PARTY FOR FUN AND PROFIT. Nobody wants to hear bad news. We live in a society which prizes can-do enthusiastic optimism. You know, the ga-ga excitement which impels the masses to bring that wooden horse through the city gates and party like it's 1929.

Just like the few remaining reasonable Republican conservatives, I have been warning that our financial house of cards will fall. (The Enemy Within 5-29-2005; Grandma's Coffee Can 12-31-2006; Crash and Burn 3-4-2007 and others will be linked to the expanded web edition of this column at Barbwire.US.)

Last March, I wrote "It won't take much of a scare for our financial house of cards to fall. My money, if I had any, would be on a crash caused by hedge fund speculation in market derivatives, a deadly financial game of Russian roulette with lots of zeroes to the left of the decimal point, which very few people understand.

" Let's just say that such investors are betting on a quadruple trifecta on any given day."

In June, the huge investment firm Bear Stearns bailed out two of its hedge funds to the tune of $3.2 billion. They had lost almost all their value in less than a month. BS didn't have to cover the losses of its casino bettors, but apparently did so to avoid a major crash in market confidence.

No less than Bill Clinton did the same thing – twice. When Brazil and Mexico at separate times teetered at the brink of financial collapse, the Clinton administration rescued them. The fear was the same: domino theory, a cascading worldwide financial cratering followed by global depression.

Late last week, the Federal reserve made two huge cash infusions into the market and bought up a bunch of probably worthless home loan packages in an attempt to stabilize matters. Some major banks tried the same thing in 1929, postponing that legendary crash by all of a single day.

Borrowing from the House of Saud and the Temple of Mao to finance our wars will haunt us for decades to come. The piper must be paid, the devil will have his due. Somebody pass the word that a cooling economy won't do much to offset diabolical global warming.

I wish I had sage advice for those in power on what to do before it's too late, but it's probably already too late. Since Dubya's dunces have made a pig's breakfast of everything they've tried – other than keeping blacks, Jews and senior citizens from voting – I wouldn't trust them to fix anything.

Everything they do is filtered through the lens of royalist dogma. They just don't see anything wrong with the way things have been trending. Like King Ronald the Vague, Bush the Lesser has lately been touting the economy's strong fundamentals. I believe that the captain of the Titanic was fundamentally a strong sailor.

All I can do is repeat that you should put some away for a rainy day because a hard rain's gonna fall and the first sprinkles have begun.

BETWEEN THE LINES DEPT. Last week, I debunked the recent self-serving Reno Gazette-Journal guest editorial by juice lawyer Mike Alonso praising Washoe Medical Center profits. (It's not supposed to have any.)

I didn’t have space to go into the apparent reason for the puff piece and Mr. Alonso totally failed to state one. He just said that the pirate ship is good for the pillagees – kinda like the Greeks were good for Troy.

A few days before Alonso's article, the RGJ printed an Associated Press story detailing the latest in a series of government reports.

"Many tax-exempt hospitals are difficult to distinguish meaningfully from for-profit hospitals," the AP article noted. Washoe Med resembles that remark, as I've been complaining for two decades. When its management bandidos convinced a corrupt Washoe County Commission to turn over assets worth up to $134 million for just $3 million in 1985, the pirates promised to reduce health care costs and cover all of Washoe County's indigent care expenses. Neither happened and they built an empire instead.

In 1995, the Washoe County grand jury published a scathing report which unfortunately came too late to prosecute anybody.

Oh yeah, the joint is now called Renown Medical Center. Renown stands for "RENO With Nothing." (Much more in the web edition.)


      RENO (8-20-2007) —Because of management stonewalling (standing fast on an offer of a measly 13-cent per hour raise!), Culinary Local 226 has scheduled strike votes on Aug. 30 for its members at the Grand Sierra (formerly the Reno Hilton, northern Nevada's largest gambling property) and Circus Circus in downtown Reno.
      Stay tuned.

Deja vu all over again — More than 600 union protestors line up at Circus Circus to march through downtown Reno on 2-18-2000 in support of Culinary Union contract negotiations. Current Secretary-Treasurer D. Taylor led the workers.

The Reno Culinary strike of 1949

Grand Sierra might see Culinary strike
Reno Gazette-Journal 8-21-2007

HOT AUGUST STRIKE vs. Reno Hilton by its security guards in 1996

PICKET LINES DEPT. Longtime Grand Sierra casino dealers, some of whom have labored at northern Nevada's largest hotel since it opened as the MGM Grand in 1978, are grumbling about the new ownership's takeaways.

Those who've earned four weeks of vacation have seen theirs cut to three. I have also received reports that the boss is no longer paying into employee retirement accounts.

The workers are well aware of the drubbing Gomorrah South mogul Steve Wynn just endured at the hands of his dealers, a three to one landslide vote for unionization.


$5 billion Arab oil money deal may fuel Culinary/MGM-Mirage contract settlement

The powerful Culinary Union is preparing for maximum muscle flexing with a walkout on the Las Vegas Strip. A strike vote is scheduled for Sept. 12.

Gambling bosses discount it as posturing, but major planning is underway on logistics like parking for 10,000 cars so that picketers can be bused to Las Vegas Blvd. South.

Strikes by southern Nevada workers against Embarq (the new bloodless name for the Sprint/Verizon phone system) and Nevada Power loom just over the horizon.

If strike fever moves north, you heard it here first. (See update at right —>)

Union fervor will rise to new levels at the Grand Sierra next week because of the superstar lineup headlining the Nevada State AFL-CIO convention.

Scheduled speakers include Gov. Janet Napolitano, D-Ariz., Southern Nevada Water Authority boss Patricia Mulroy, and Democratic presidential candidates (in alphabetical order) Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton, Chris Dodd and Bill Richardson.

Nevada historian Guy Louis Rocha will lecture on the legendary Wobblie "Big Bill" Haywood.

[8-20-2007 UPDATE — Hillary has scratched.]

[8-21-2007 UPDATE — Dodd has also gone doh doh. Why? Read the ultimate diss-claimer, below.]

ROCK BOTTOM LINES DEPT. The Washoe County School District Board of Trustees last Tuesday voted 5-1, with Barbara Clark in dissent, to place its high-tech future in the hands of Charter Communications.

They can't say I didn't warn them.

SUGAR SHOCK FOR SHELL SHOCK. How can you tell that war protest is fresh out of ideas if not fresh pastry? A local anti-war group is staging a support-the-troops bake sale.

God bless 'em, if they can't stop the war, perhaps they can kill it with calories. (Nothing else has worked.)

"Bake 'Em Home" will take place during the next installment of "Poetry, Peace, Puppetry & Music" from 5:00 to 9:00 p.m. this Friday outside Dreamers Coffeehouse in downtown Reno.

For more info, call Lee Dazey at (775) 324-4027.

Be well. Raise hell.

UPDATE: August 21, 2007, 12:55 a.m. PDT, 09:55 GMT/SUT/CUT — LAME EXCUSES DEPT. — Sens. Chris Dodd and Hillary Clinton both backed out of their commitments to address the Nevada State AFL-CIO convention in Reno on August 21. This round goes to Dodd, who came up with the superior lame excuse. According to Reno Gazette-Journal follytix reporter Anjeanette Damon, Sen. Dodd is "flying back to Washington, D.C. The reason the campaign is giving is that he wants to talk to the Fed chairman and treasury secretary about the mortgage lending crisis." Not very creative or convincing, but at least anchored in public service.

In contrast, Sen. Clinton's staff has been putting out pure diss, telling union members and reporters that Mrs. Clinton never committed to speak in the first place, that her engagement was always tentative. Tar and horsefeathers! On Aug. 8, the Nevada State AFL-CIO distributed an official bulletin to unions and delegates placing both senators on the morning agenda. Neither was listed as tentative. On Aug. 12, their appearances were published in the Sunday Sparks Tribune and posted at both SparksTribune.net and NevadaLabor.com.

Sen. Clinton's campaign apparently stacks up conflicting appointments like Post-it notes, then decides which to keep and which to break as the date approaches. That's no way to treat your friends. Stay tuned for future diss-patches. Be well. Raise hell. AB


(1) Like Washoe Med, Carson-Tahoe Hospital commits suicide and the taxpayers will pay — He who ignores the doofusses is bound to become one, Barbwire by Barbano; Daily Sparks Tribune, 8-5-2001; Carson City Nevada Appeal, 8-8-2001.

(2) Washoe Med antes into the game to put Medicare into a death spiral; Barbwire by Barbano; Daily Sparks Tribune, 6-12-2005.

(3) Washoe Med: Get Rich Quick at No Money Down; Barbwire by Barbano; Daily Sparks Tribune, 5 November 1995 et seq.

(4) Longtime local physician criticizes Renown/Washoe Med management, supports nurses
BARBWIRE 9-16-2007

...and more ammo

NevadaLabor.com Health Care War Room

The wonderfulness of Charter cable

The Dean's List

   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




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Copyright © 1982-2007 Andrew Barbano

Andrew Barbano is a 38-year Nevadan, editor of NevadaLabor.com and JoeNeal.org and a member of Communications Workers of America Local 9413/AFL-CIO which represents many AT&T workers. As always, his opinions are strictly his own. Barbwire by Barbano has originated in the Daily Sparks (Nev.) Tribune since 1988.


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