The Mandela Legacy

I was watching the news last week when word came that Nelson Mandela had passed away.  A giant of a man and leader he changed the way people think and he changed South Africa.  Once a repressive state ruled by a tyrannical white minority under a system of segregation called Apartheid, Mandela led the African National Congress’ opposition and he spent 27 years as a political prisoner.

Influenced by the non -violent philosophy of Ghandi he successfully led the movement to dismantle Apartheid peacefully and then courageously established a Truth and Reconciliation Commission whose mission was not to punish or take vengeance.

I’m old enough to remember the movements here for divestiture.  This was a way to put pressure on South Africa by forcing investors, pension plans and endowments to sell their investments in South Africa.  Students on college campuses led sit-ins and demonstrations to convince their Boards of Trustees and others to divest themselves of stock, bonds and other South African related investments.  When legislation was passed in Congress enacting trade sanctions the bill was vetoed by President Reagan and leading American racists like Jesse Helms and Dick Cheney led the fight for the white government of South Africa.

Justice prevailed however and Nelson Mandela was elected President of that nation after it reorganized.  He passed away after a long and very distinguished life having touched souls all around the globe.  Rest well Mandiba, you’ve earned it.

Obama Pushes For the Buffet Rule

The Buffet Rule is legislation which would reform the tax system by repealing taxes for ultra rich people making them pay the same rates as the rest of us.  For example Mitt Romney paid an effective tax rate of about 14% last year while most working people paid 25%.  If most of your income comes from investments or you work on Wall Street your income is taxed differently, at a rate of 15%.  Deductions can lower that as they did for Romney (he owns seven homes).  It’s Unamerican for a secretary to pay a higher tax rate than her (or his) boss.  The Buffet Rule would reverse these Bush era tax cuts.  It is named for billionaire Warren Buffet who, with others like Bill Gates, has said he thinks its unfair and he would gladly pay regular tax rates on his wealth.

You can compare your rate with Mitt Romney’s with a nifty new calculator at the Obama/Biden campaign website here.

Even Ronald Reagan agreed with this philosophy but I’m afraid he’d be punished with a Tea Party opponent these days and pushed out of office.  The right wing hysteria which has overtaken common sense and sane, rational policy is ruining this country.  The tail is wagging the dog because corporate owned media keeps broadcasting their messages.  Stop watching cable news, reading corporate newspapers and begin getting your information from reputable sources.

President Obama said this about it yesterday (from the White House):

Everybody, please have a seat.  Thank you.  It is wonderful to see you.  Lately, we’ve been talking about the fundamental choice that we face as a country.  We can settle for an economy where a shrinking number of people do very, very well and everybody else is struggling to get by, or we can build an economy where we’re rewarding hard work and responsibility — an economy where everybody has a fair shot, and everybody is doing their fair share, and everybody is playing by the same set of rules.

The people who have joined me here today are extremely successful.  They’ve created jobs and opportunity for thousands of Americans.  They’re rightly proud of their success.  They love the country that made their success possible, and most importantly, they want to make sure that the next generation, people coming up behind them, have the same opportunities that they had.

They understand, though, that for some time now, when compared to the middle class, they haven’t been asked to do their fair share.  And they are here because they believe there is something deeply wrong and irresponsible about that.

At a time when the share of national income flowing to the top 1 percent of people in this country has climbed to levels we haven’t seen since the 1920s, these same folks are paying taxes at one of the lowest rates in 50 years.  In fact, one in four millionaires pays a lower tax rate than millions of hardworking middle-class households.  And while many millionaires do pay their fair share, some take advantage of loopholes and shelters that let them get away with paying no income taxes whatsoever — and that’s all perfectly legal under the system that we currently have.

You’ve heard that my friend Warren Buffett pays a lower tax rate than his secretary — because he’s the one who’s been pointing that out and saying we should fix it.  The executives who are with me here today, not just behind me but in the audience, agree with me.  They agree with Warren — they should be fixed.  They, in fact, have brought some of their own assistants to prove that same point — that it is just plain wrong that middle-class Americans pay a higher share of their income in taxes than some millionaires and billionaires.

Now, it’s not that these folks are excited about the idea of paying more taxes.  This thing I’ve always made clear.  (Laughter.)  I have yet to meet people who just love taxes.  Nobody loves paying taxes.  In a perfect world, none of us would have to pay any taxes.  We’d have no deficits to pay down.  And schools and bridges and roads and national defense and caring for our veterans would all happen magically.

We’d all have the money we need to make investments in the things that help us grow — investments, by the way, that have always been essential to the private sector’s success, as well, not just — they’re not just important in terms of the people that directly benefit from these programs, but historically, those investments that we’ve made in infrastructure, in education, in science, in technology, in transportation, that’s part of what has made us an economic superpower.

And it would be nice if we didn’t have to pay for them, but this is the real world that we live in.  We have real choices and real consequences.  Right now, we’ve got significant deficits that are going to have to be closed.  Right now, we have significant needs if we want to continue to grow this economy and compete in this 21st-century, hyper-competitive, technologically-integrated economy.  That means we can’t afford to keep spending more money on tax cuts for wealthy Americans who don’t need them and weren’t even asking for them.  And it’s time we did something about it.

Now, I want to emphasize, this is not simply an issue of redistributing wealth.  That’s what you’ll hear from those who object to a tax plan that is fair.  This is not just about fairness.  This is also about growth.  This is also about being able to make the investments we need to succeed.  And it’s about we as a country being willing to pay for those investments and closing our deficits.  That’s what this is about.

Now, next week, members of Congress are going to have a chance to vote on what we call the Buffett Rule.  And it’s simple:  If you make more money — more than $1 million a year, not if you have $1 million, but if you make more than $1 million a year, you should pay at least the same percentage of your income in taxes as middle-class families do.  If on the other hand, you make less than $250,000 a year — like 98 percent of American families do — your taxes shouldn’t go up.

That’s all there is to it.  That’s pretty sensible.  Most Americans agree with me, so do most millionaires.  One survey found that two-thirds of millionaires support this idea.  So do nearly half of all Republicans across America.

So we just need some of the Republican politicians here in Washington to get on board with where the country is.  I know that some prefer to run around using the same reflexive, false claims about wanting to raise people’s taxes.  What they won’t tell you is the truth — that I’ve cut taxes for middle-class families each year that I’ve been in office.  I’ve cut taxes for small business owners not once or twice, but 17 times.

As I said, for most of the folks in this room, taxes are lower than they’ve been, or as low as they’ve been, in 50 years.  There are others who are saying, well, this is just a gimmick.  Just taxing millionaires and billionaires, just imposing the Buffett Rule won’t do enough to close the deficit.  Well, I agree.  That’s not all we have to do to close the deficit.  But the notion that it doesn’t solve the entire problem doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t do it at all.

There are enough excuses for inaction in Washington.  We certainly don’t need more excuses.  I’d just point out that the Buffett Rule is something that will get us moving in the right direction towards fairness, towards economic growth.  It will help us close our deficit and it’s a lot more specific than anything that the other side has proposed so far.  And if Republicans in Congress were truly concerned with deficits and debt, then I’m assuming they wouldn’t have just proposed to spend an additional $4.6 trillion on lower tax rates, including an average tax cut of at least $150,000 for every millionaire in America.

They want to go in the opposite direction.  They want to double down on some of the inequities that already exist in the tax code.  If we’re going to keep giving somebody like me or some of the people in this room tax breaks that we don’t need and we can’t afford, then one of two things happens:  Either you’ve got to borrow more money to pay down a deeper deficit, or you’ve got to demand deeper sacrifices from the middle class, and you’ve got to cut investments that help us grow as an economy.

You’ve got to tell seniors to pay a little bit more for their Medicare.  You’ve got to tell the college student, we’re going to have to charge you higher interest rates on your student loan or you’re just going to get smaller student loans.  You’re going to have to tell that working family that’s scraping by that they’re going to have to do more because the wealthiest of Americans are doing less.

That’s not right.  The middle class has seen enough of its security erode over the past few decades that we shouldn’t let that happen.  And we’re not going to stop investing in the things that create real and lasting growth in this country just so folks like me can get an additional tax cut.  We’re not going to stop building first-class schools and making sure that they’ve got science labs in them.  We’re not going to fail to make investments in basic science and research that could cure diseases that harm people, or create the new technology that ends up creating entire jobs and industries that we haven’t seen before.  In America, prosperity has never just trickled down from a wealthy few.  Prosperity has always been built from the bottom up and from the heart of the middle class outward.  And so it’s time for Congress to stand up for the middle class and make our tax system fairer by passing this Buffett Rule.

Let me just close by saying this.  I’m not the first President to call for this idea that everybody has got to do their fair share.  Some years ago, one of my predecessors traveled across the country pushing for the same concept.  He gave a speech where he talked about a letter he had received from a wealthy executive who paid lower tax rates than his secretary, and wanted to come to Washington and tell Congress why that was wrong.  So this President gave another speech where he said it was “crazy” — that’s a quote — that certain tax loopholes make it possible for multimillionaires to pay nothing, while a bus driver was paying 10 percent of his salary.  That wild-eyed, socialist, tax-hiking class warrior was Ronald Reagan.

He thought that, in America, the wealthiest should pay their fair share, and he said so.  I know that position might disqualify him from the Republican primaries these days — (laughter) — but what Ronald Reagan was calling for then is the same thing that we’re calling for now:  a return to basic fairness and responsibility; everybody doing their part.  And if it will help convince folks in Congress to make the right choice, we could call it the Reagan Rule instead of the Buffett Rule.

But the choice is clear.  This vote is coming up.  I’m asking every American who agrees with me to call your member of Congress, or write them an email, tweet them.  Tell them to stop giving tax breaks to the wealthiest Americans who don’t need them and aren’t asking for them.  Tell them to start asking everybody to do their fair share and play by the same rules, so that every American who’s willing to work hard has a chance at similar success, so that we’re making the investments that help this economy grow, so that we’re able to bring down our deficits in a fair and balanced and sensible way.  Tell them to pass the Buffett Rule.

I’m going to keep on making this case across the country because I believe that this rule is consistent with those principles and those values that have helped make us this remarkable place where everybody has opportunity.

Now, each of us is only here because somebody, somewhere, felt responsibility not only for themselves, but also for their community and for their country.  They felt a responsibility to us, to future generations.  And now it’s our turn to be similarly responsible.  Now it’s our turn to preserve that American Dream for future generations.

So I want to thank those of you who are here with me today.  I want to thank everybody who is in the audience.  And I want to appeal to the American people:  Let’s make sure that we keep the pressure on Congress to do the right thing.

Thank you very much, everybody.

The Reagan Revolution Endgame

Ronald Reagan was sworn in as President on January 20, 1981.  At the time our national debt was $907 billion.  Under George W. Bush doubled the debt in his eight years in office which wasn’t easy because his father and Reagan had multiplied it several times in just twelve years.  GW Bush left Barack Obama with a federal budget deficit of $1.3 trillion for a single year.   Stop and think about that for a moment.  In the entire history of the country, from the Revolutionary war (we borrowed money to finance our independence) until January 1981 America had amassed a total debt of $907 billion.  Bush exceeded it on a single federal budget year.  The total amount of debt contributed by George W. Bush in eight years was $4,901,104,747,205.59, not counting the $1.3 trillion Obama inherited from his final budget.

Now we find ourselves enmired in a national discussion about the debt, a discussion led by the very people who put us in this mess.  Once upon a time conservatives were fiscal conservatives.  They hated debt and the national debt when Reagan took office was a national shame to them.  I remember this because I grew up in a very conservative household.  My father was a member of the John Birch Society and he was always railing against the spendthrift Democrats who put the country into debt.  All of the Republican candidates they worked for swore to reduce the debt.  This was one of their key mantras.  Then Ronald Reagan was elected and it all changed.  What happened?

It was called the Reagan Revolution and it was a clever plan.  What we’re witnessing right now is the endgame.  Here’s how it happened…

David Stockman was Reagan’s Budget Director.  The geniuses (and this really is genius) was to begin bankrupting the country.  By creating massive federal budget deficits gradually more and more of the budget would be consumed with the cost of paying for the debt.  When America runs a deficit we borrow money by issuing U.S. Treasury bonds upon which taxpayers pay interest to investors.  Over the years as deficits accumulated and interest compounded more and more of the budget was eaten up by interest payments making less and less available for government programs.

Conservatives hate government and despise government programs unless they are defense or tax cuts for the rich.  Much of the deficit over the past thirty years was created by such tax cuts.  Reagan also skyrocketed defense spending, something we witnessed again under Bush 43.  By drastically cutting revenues while increasing spending (good spending in their eyes) we began driving huge deficits.  Stockman was known to mention that this, indeed, was the the plan.

At some point the nation would collapse under the debt burden and government programs would have to be cut.   Guess what is happening as I write this?  Republicans in Congress are holding the country hostage to massive spending cuts.  John Boehner, Speaker of the House, is now threatening to put the country into default if trillions of dollars of federal spending are not cut.  There is only one way to cut trillions from the federal budget:  eliminate Social Security and Medicare.

Conservatives have been trying to cut these two programs since they were first introduced.  The Reagan Revolution was designed to make it happen.  By slowly “starving the beast” they’d collapse government until it was so small they “could drown it in a bathtub” as Grover Norquist was fond of saying.  We’re now in that tub and it isn’t comfortable.

Though on paper Social Security appears to be a huge government program (and it is) it doesn’t contribute anything to the federal deficit.  Thisis because it was set up entirely separate from all other federal spending and pays for itself.  Projected deficits as Baby Boomers retire can be paid for simply by eliminating the cap on taxable earnings.  Billionaires pay only on the first $106,000 of their multi billion earnings per year.  Because of this fact Republicans are bent on ending the program for seniors, disabled people and orphans.  

How do you drive the elderly, the disabled and orphans into abject poverty and live politically to tell about it?  The Reagan Revolution was the answer.  Bankrupt the nation until there would be no other choice.  Of course there is a choice and it is called The People’s Budget.  We can repeal the massive tax cuts for the rich, end the costly wars and revive the economy.  Cutting Defense spending to a sane amount is yet another key part of the strategy.  In spite of all the spending cuts conservatives have actually increased defense spending.

This has been a major cog in the plan.  Reagan began a series of military interventions, Panama, Grenada and elsewhere.  His budgets kept increasing Pentagon budgets in response to these “threats.”  The specter of the Soviet Union was a key until he literally bankrupted that corrupt empire.  George W. Bush and his father used full fledged wars to justify their increases in defense spending.

It was all part of the Reagan Revolution.  Now we’re at the endgame and these same people are insisting we must slash federal spending and end critically needed programs to pay off the debt they created.  It was sheer genius.

Are we going to fall for it?  All you see in the major media is how we have to cut spending.  Corporations of course own all the major media outlets.  That was yet another cog in the plan.  Republicans allowed media consolidation so now only a handful of giant companies control what we see and hear.  You are seeing and hearing anything about The People’s Budget.  Ask them why?

Ironically David Stockman has now come out against the tax cuts for the rich.

Do you want to see Social Security dismantled?  Do you want your children having to support you in your retirement?  Do you want to have to move in with them?  What if you don’t have children?  Do you want to spend whatever years left to you living on the street?

Do you want an end to Medicare?  How would you obtain private health insurance when you’re 65?  The Ryan Privatization Plan means you’d receive a voucher good for about 50% of the cost of such coverage assuming you’d qualify medically.  How many senior citizens could pass a health exam?  Every year your voucher would cover less of your costs.

This is the endgame of the Reagan Revolution.  Republicans know only a Democratic President, politically, can end these programs.  They are trying to box Barack Obama into a corner so he’d have to do so.  The expiration of the debt limit provides that opportunity.  Facing an economic calamity they are blackmailing the White House into eliminating Social Security and Medicare.  Don’t let it happen.

Koch Brothers Instructed Employees on Voting

The infamous Koch brothers, Charles and David, financiers of the hard right wing, instructed 50,000 employees on whom to vote for in 2010.  The packet sent to their company personnel included a letter from their lobbyist.  Of course for whom one votes once in a secret booth is no one else’s business but coercion from a powerful employer is a line no compnay should cross.  I know because I was subjected to such coercion in 1980.  At the time I was employed by Kellogg Sales Company, the marketing arm of Kellogg’s of Battle Creek, MI, the giant cereal manufacturer.  They instructed me to vote for Ronald Reagan (I didn’t) in return for the candidate’s promise to drop a federal antitrust suit against the company for price fixing.  Six months after his inauguration Reagan had his Justice Department drop the lawsuit.  My work for Kellogg’s at the time included price fixing and led to a great deal of personal stress and soon after, my departure from the company.

No company should be allowed such control over an employee and any retaliation should be met with litigation.  This is but one more example of the horrors of the Citizens United decision.

The Reagan Revolution Endgame

We’re witnessing the endgame of the Reagan Revolution.  Thirty years later the policies put in place by The Great Communicator are coming to fruition:  deregulation into a crazed, free market, federal deficit spending crippling the budget, union busting, elimination of the middle class and a government completely in control of Wall Street.  Reagan’s Budget Director David Stockman famously said the goal of deficits was to starve the federal budget until vital programs had to be cut and eliminated.  

Here’s how the philosophy worked:  run up massive spending, preferably in defense where attacks on the massive outlays could be defended against “soft on Communism” liberals.  Gradually the annual deficits, funded through Treasury Bonds on which interest was paid by the government (taxpayers), combined with huge tax cuts for the rich, would eventually spiral finances out of control.  Revenues devoted simply to paying interest on this debt would begin eating discretionary funds for the social safety net, for Social Security and Medicare and eventually force the government into eliminating these programs.

Meanwhile they would begin challenging unions, change rules for organizing, deregulate Wall Street and as much of the business sector as possible, and churn federal dollars to the major defense corporations who, in turn, would fund GOP campaigns.  A key factor in their long term strategy was packing the federal courts with radical right judges who would uphold these policies.

We’re now in the endgame.  Interest payments on the $12 trillion national debt ($2 trillion in 1981 when Reagan took office) now comprise 15% of the budget.  They have necessitated a national dialogue about what key and vital programs (including Social Security and Medicare) are to be cut to preserve tax cuts for the rich, deregulation, and a free market economy capable of collapsing the global economy.  Busting unions and restricting organizing rights weakened working people’s power to challenge the inevitable.  In fact we’re seeing working people actually duped into supporting these efforts.

No Tea baggers were seen for thirty years while Republicans were running up $10 trillion in debt.  None of them were on the front lines when George W. Bush pushed through the tax cuts for the ultra wealthy, two wars for which he didn’t pay and failed economic policies which crashed the economy.  He left office handing a $1.3 trillion federal deficit to Barack Obama.  The tea baggers immediately began blaming that debt on the African-American instead of the Texan.  They forced the nation into forgetting it was Republicans who created these problems, that it was Republican policies, begun under Reagan, which created this disastrous result.  Instead of doing the responsible things, stimulating the economy to create jobs, taxing the rich once again and passing stringent regulation of corrupt businesses and banks, they launched a war on working people.

Contracts for Wall Street bankers are sacrosanct while contracts for union workers are socialism.  Annual salaries in the billions for hedge fund managers are an honest day’s wages while $50,000 for teachers are awful.  Tax cuts for those billionaires are off the table while pay cuts for workers are required.  

Yes, Mr. Cheney, deficits do matter.

Reagan on the Fifty?

Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-NC) wants to pass legislation putting Ronald Reagan’s picture on the fifty dollar bill.  McHenry is a far right wing ideologue who apparently worships Reagan.  I think this is a good idea with one provision:  replace the “In God We Trust” with this:  “This Man Tripled the National Debt In Eight Years.”  Having his face on our money with this reminder of his horrendous fiscal management might remind Americans to be more financially responsible with a bad example such as Reagan on their money.  It would have one unfortunate side effect:  millions of Americans and foreigners would spit on their money.  At least blind people wouldn’t have to fold the corners.  They’d know their fifties because they’d be wet.

The Kellogg’s Boycott

The public is feigning outrage over Kellogg’s firing swimmer Michael Phelps after he was caught on camera taking a hit from a bong.  The idea of paying the Olympic champion at the same time he is using marajuana seemed like a sensible move.  Critics however justifiably ask why Kellogg’s hired Phelps in spite of his drunk driving conviction a few years ago and are crying about hypocrisy.  Both sides have good points in this fray.

The proposed boycott would mean not buying cereal, tea (Salada), cookies and crackers (Keebler), waffles (Eggo) and Pop Tarts.  Kellogg’s has long hired sports champions to put on cereal boxes as does General Mills for its Wheaties brand.  Corporations want squeaky clean figures to promote their brands and parade around at company sales conferences.

I worked for Kellogg’s for five years back in the day.  I was in sales and marketing and I can say this is not a squeaky clean company.  At the time we had 42% of the market and were being prosecuted by the Justice Department for price fixing.  When Ronald Reagan ran for president in 1980 I recall a promise he made while in Battle Creek to end that legal case.  Kellogg’s used that promise to send a letter to every employee to vote for Reagan who did cease the DOJ prosecution after winning.

The fact is Kellogg’s was engaged in price fixing even during the prosecution.  I know because it was part of my job to engage in such illegal behavior.  This caused me much stress and health problems which led to my leaving the company.  I kept those records until the day the statute of limitations expired then threw them away.  As an account executive I had responsibility for a supermarket chain in the Philadelphia region.  Known then as A&P (now Super Fresh) their price for our Raisin Bran was 25 cents less than Post’s.  Keep in mind that a box of cereal then was about a buck a box and this was a significant amount.  We were getting killed by th eprice difference and I was ordered to correct the situation by threatening to withold shipments of Corn Flakes unless the disparity was corrected by A&P.

At that time Corn Flakes was the tenth most popular single item in any supermarket so this was a serious threat.  It didn’t take A&P long to cave and raise the price of the Post Raisin Bran to ours.  Note that our demand was to raise their price, not lower ours.  The consumer got screwed.  All this happened while the company was being prosecuted for such behavior.

I am reminded of all this because of their outrage over Michael Phelps smoking a little dope.  Which is worse, screwing consumers by engaging in illegal price fixing or taking a few hits from a bong?  You be the judge.

Update:  Several months ago I received an email from someone asking for more details about my claim of price rigging.  Not knowing who they were or what agenda they might have I asked about their credentials.  I got nothing back.  Nonetheless I feel compelled to establish exactly what happened and the context of the crime.

I began working for the Kellogg Sales Company in January 1977.  I wound up getting two key accounts of my own and backed up at numerous other wholesalers.  These were either grocery chains or companies which provided groceries to smaller stores.  One of my accounts was A&P.  I handled both the Philadelphia and Altoona offices.  The A&P warehouse was in Yeadon and about once a week I’d receive an urgent message that one of their employees had misplaced pallets of cereal.  I’d have to drop whatever I was doing and drive to Yeadon, walk the entire warehouse until I found the item then drive to King of Prussia with the slot number (obviously this was before pc’s and cell phones).  A&P wasn’t the most efficient company (cough, cough) in the world, their employees were mostly incompetent.  My buyer was an exception, a younger man who was articulate, intelligent and out of place in this office because he knew how to do his job.

One week for some reason Post Raisin Bran suddenly appeared on A&P shelves for 25 cents/box cheaper than our brand.  Remember at the time cereal was selling for about a buck a box so a 25% price gap was devastating.  Our sales plummeted as shoppers bought the cheaper national brand.  I received a written memo from my Metropolitan District Manager ordering me to correct the situation by demanding A&P increase the shelf price of the Post product.  If they did not I was told to tell them their next shipment of Corn Flakes would be delayed.  Kellogg’s Corn Flakes, at the time, was the 10th best selling item in any supermarket in our region.  Withholding this product would hurt A&P.

My manager accompanied me on my next HQ visit to A&P (these happened weekly) to insure the message was delivered.  Our office was also in KOP just a few blocks from the grocery chain’s.  Our Assistant Division Manager (an alcoholic named Fred something) was also intimately involved in this “negotiation.”  A&P raised the price of Post Raisin Bran to match ours and consumers got screwed.  No one ever debated dropping our price to compete.  Instead extortion was used to fix the prices of these two competing products.

To put this in further context Kellogg’s, at the time, was under prosecution by the U.S. Department of Justice for price fixing.  The lawsuit was costing them $1 million per year in legal fees and the company was constantly bitching about it at sales conventions.  In 1980 during the presidential election Ronald Reagan went to Battle Creek and said he’d end the prosecution were he to be to elected president.  The company then sent a letter to every employee telling us to vote for Reagan.  I didn’t.  Reagan won and fulfilled his promise.

I kept the written evidence of the price fixing for the seven year statute of limitations (I’d called the FBI to discover what it was) then tossed them all in the dumpster.   I wanted nothing more to do with this company.  The severe stress this caused me resulted in a serious health problem which made it difficult for me to continue performing my job and I left Kellogg’s.  Had this incident not happened I’m sure I might still be there today.  It is interesting how life’s twists and turns seem to come out for the better.  Now I’m in a position where I can reveal this company’s treachery and corruption.