We have several PrariePops Authors gone into meatspace right now, so bare with sekan while we try to get through this. I know I’m not that entertaining. Rest assured that Iggy, fnord and others will be back! ~sekanblogger


 These are hard times for debt collectors. After all, who can pay their bills these days? Not Wall Street, Detroit, millions of homeowners, the rising number of jobless folks – not even several states and cities.
But, wait – here are some lively prospects for debt collectors: the dead. Yes, there’s a boom in dunning the deceased!
We’re not talking about collecting from big time debtors who still owe several hundred thousand dollars on their yacht. No, these are workaday people who died while still owing maybe a couple of hundred bucks on their bank credit card, health insurance, or utility payment. It’s not possible, of course, to squeeze money out of a corpse, so the target becomes the bereaved next of kin. “Hello, I’m very sorry for your loss, but there’s this $211.36 balance on your mother’s Visa, and we wondered who will be covering this?”
By the way, there is no legal requirement whatsoever that the debt of those who’ve passed on must be paid by relatives out of their own pockets. Thus, what the industry calls “deceased collections” requires a delicate dance to cajole money out of the family without actually demanding it. The industry actually rationalizes its work as a service to those who have departed. As one insider  asserts: “We want the dead to rest easy, knowing their obligations are taken care of.” How benevolent.
The actual work is done by a corps of specially trained agents working from cubicles in companies that specialize in this rather macabre fishing for cash. The job is so distasteful that about half of those hired quit within three months. Those who stick it out get such on-the-job stress relievers as yoga sessions, foosball games, free snacks and neck massages.
They tell us that we can’t escape death and taxes, but it appears that one more thing we can’t escape are debt collectors.


Filed under Economics, Populists, Weird news



My grandparents married during the Great Depression and began raising their young family during World War II. 

My grandmother would tell me stories about those times with pride. She couldn’t buy a car or nylon stockings. But she did save every bit of aluminum for the war effort, mended socks, and planted a victory garden. Though they had very little, when they could save ten cents, she would get another stamp for her war bond book.  

As tough as those times were, my grandmother felt that what she did every day mattered for the country and her children’s future. Families across the nation took these same actions, and, together, they did indeed make all the difference. The victory gardens, the recycling, the $185 billion in war bonds raised by 85 million cash-strapped Americans (nearly $2 trillion in today’s dollars), and the retooling of Detroit for tanks and planes provided our country with the resources and capacity for the war effort. 

Taken together, these actions gave the economy a whole new set of  priorities—moving from a failing consumer-based economy to an economy focused on providing for the country’s future.  

As a nation, we are again at this kind of pivotal time. We can choose to reprioritize the economy. And we know how to do it — we did it during World War II.  

The steps this time around will look familiar to those who experienced these days. We need to embrace thrift as a fundamental value, and collectively shift our economy from one depending on consumerism, debt, and speculation, to one that spends its precious resources on what sustains health and well-being for people and the planet. 

Like the economy my grandmother experienced during World War II, the consumer sector can no longer be the economy’s driver. But instead of a war effort, the priority now needs be to on economic activity and jobs that bring about a sustainable future—from energy efficiency, mass transit, and sustainable agriculture to education, health, and building resilient communities, that make sure no one is left behind.  Continue reading


Filed under Economics, Populists

Give Us Your Disabled, Your Criminal, Your Kodachrome….at least for now

  The End of an Era, again, for Southeast Kansas and the world. Southeast Kansas is no stranger to ‘End of an Era’ stories though. Endings that I’m familiar with? The M-K-T railroad, the Kansas Army Ammunition Plant (KAAP), and that’s just a couple of the larger ones from one town, Parsons. At one point those two comapanies together would have employed around 5,ooo people between them. You would be hard pressed to find people in the area without a connection to one or both industries. Parsons, of course, is not alone. It’s not a good time to be looking for work anywhere.

A couple of remaining area employers (that are always on the Kansas State budget chopping block), are the Parsons State Hospital and Training Center (PSHTC)and the Labette County Community Corrections (LCCC) military style boot camp.

The PSHTC has suffered budget cuts again and again, as well as depending on government grants for research. The LCCC is already slated to close, even though it is cheaper to house these young offenders there. A last ditch effort to teach state legislators basic accounting and common sense is ensuing.

So what’s left here? We still have some area employers doing well in niche’ markets. With today’s announcement from Kodak, one of those niche’ markets is dissapearing also.

“On June 22, 2009, Kodak announced the final manufacturing run of Kodachrome 64, the last remaining Kodachrome film. Dwayne’s Photo plans to continue processing Kodachrome films through the end of December 2010. As long as supplies last, Dwayne’s will continue to offer Kodachrome film for sale. This is a sad occasion for us, as we’re sure it is for many of you. While we understand the business realities driving Kodak’s decision, we are still sorry to see the film go. Kodachrome was truly an icon of the 20th century and has certainly been a very important part of Dwayne’s business for many years. Once it’s gone, nothing will ever capture “those nice bright colors” in quite the same way. We want to say thank you to all the customers who have been loyal to Kodachrome and to us over the years.” –  Dwayne’s Photo

 Dwayne’s Photo, Parsons Kansas is the last certified Kodachrome processor IN THE WORLD.

So for now at least, Parsons still offers an excellent destination for criminals, mentally retarded wards of the state (including sex offenders) and….KODACHROME.

We want all three, lots of it. At least for now.  ~sekanblogger

Those of you who were surfing for Paul Simon music and actually read all this crap anway?…….. – click here Continue reading


Filed under Economics, Humor, Kansas, Kansas History, Music

What do you do?

The United States likes to think of itself as the very embodiment of meritocracy: a country where people are judged on their individual abilities rather than their family connections. The original colonies were settled by refugees from a Europe in which the restrictions on social mobility were woven into the fabric of the state, and the American revolution was partly a revolt against feudalism.

In Thomas Jefferson’s day, aristocracies were far-reaching. European nations had powerful nobles who inherited their status, promoted their own self-interested politics and often considered their interests to be superior to those of the majority. They demanded legal privileges unavailable to others. In contrast, Jefferson hoped to create a society in which all citizens were considered equal.

Jefferson described the creation of meritocratic America as, “aristocracy of talent and virtue.”  Toil, which had been seen as a necessary evil at best and mostly as a penance, was transformed into an expression of identity, a way for people to measure themselves and others.

“What do you do,” became an unavoidable acid test of relevance.  And, there was much ‘happy talk’ about work being fun and the workplace being family.  We started to expect our jobs to feed both our savings accounts and our souls.

In today’s economy if you’re lucky enough to have a job — especially a cushy, high status, well paying job — you might feel guilty about how much you hate it.  Prosperity perpetuated a little white lie that work is supposed to make us happy.

pleasures_of_workAccording to British author Alain de Botton in The Pleasures and Sorrows of Work, the big question is, “When does a job feel good”?  In his book his answer is, “Rarely.  The tragedy is that we expect anything more.”  Sometimes a job should just be a job — not what we live for, but what we do in order to live.

shopclassMatthew B. Crawford, an academic turned mechanic, echoes de Botton’s pessimism about the search for satisfaction in the daily grind, but goes further.  In his book Shop Class as Soulcraft, Crawford says more people should consider manual labor which offers the comfort of objective results (does the car start or doesn’t it?) and says this offers a fusion of thought and action that makes a man “quiet and easy.”

We may not be able to identify ourselves as easily today with the answer to, “What do you do?”  In fact, we might be talking about the importance of work that can’t be outsourced overseas.



Filed under Book Reviews, Economics, History, The Economy

Legalize Weed And Speed?

While I’m on a roll (pun intended) about pot, Republicans and Jokes, we must discuss one more huge republican fiasco. The ‘war on drugs’.

As I’ve posted here: https://iggydonnelly.wordpress.com/2009/06/05/legal-weed-may-save-america/ I already believe in legalizing weed, but speed too? Heroin? LSD? I’m not sure I want that. But this post is not about me, It’s about what law enforcement wants. Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, or LEAP. Apparently some want to spend their resources on real, violent, actual ‘bad guys’. Not some pot smoking, or even crank snorting. As one former police chief puts it in today’s New York Times; “I had arrested a 19-year-old, in his own home, for possession of marijuana,” he recalled. “I literally broke down the door, on the basis of probable cause. I took him to jail on a felony charge.” The arrest and related paperwork took several hours, and Mr. Stamper suddenly had an “aha!” moment: “I could be doing real police work.” zigzag

Oh the gall of that guy, not wanting to enforce the law. Not only could he be doing real police work, what about the teenage ‘criminal’? He had his door broken down, he’ll hafta pay for that. Probably got evicted, lost his job, got demonized by the local gossip mill, and will never be able to get a decent job because he’s a FELON. He can’t even own a gun because sherrif Stamper broke down his door and ruined his young life! Was he that dangerous to himself and others? I think not. I also feel that the millions of “Johnny with a joint” prosecutions of the past should be wiped off the record. Being a felon for smoking pot is not an appropriate level of punishment.

Okay, let me turn the soapbox over to the professionals. Read the Times article here Continue reading


Filed under Crimes, Drug Wars, Economics, Republicans


Immigration  – Makes me yawn; Long as someone, Mows my lawn.


Illegal immigration, fueled by desperation back home, is common and risky the world over. Senegalese and Nigerians die in open boats heading for the Canary Islands. Haitians do the same en route to Puerto Rico. Mauritanians likewise perish aiming for Italy. And it’s no picnic even when they arrive safely. Abuse and death await Tajiks in Russia, Zimbabweans in South Africa, and Pakistanis in London.

Rewards, however, are alluring. While citizens in receiving countries may respond brutally to foreign competitors angling for their jobs, employers love them. There is nothing like cheap, vulnerable labor to increase profits. Thus, sweatshop and plantation owners everywhere become natural allies of human rights activists in seeking amnesty for the undocumented.

If this sounds to you a lot like the United States, you win. We’re little different from the rest of the world in this age-old dilemma, and in some ways we’re worse. Our own trade policies with Central America foist on those sad lands cheap subsidized American agribusiness corn. This has put their farmers out of business and forced them to sneak up here under cover of darkness. Continue reading


Filed under Crimes, Diplomacy, Diversity, Economics, Kansas

Will equality for females be silver lining of economic dark cloud?


Men bear the brunt of US jobs lost

The US recession has opened up the biggest gap between male and female unemployment rates since records began in 1948, as men bear the brunt of the economy’s contraction.

Men have lost almost 80 per cent of the 5.1m jobs that have gone in the US since the recession started, pushing the male unemployment rate to 8.8 per cent. The female jobless rate has hit 7 per cent.  This is a dramatic reversal of the trend over the past few years, where the rates of male and female unemployment barely differed, at about 5 per cent. It also means that women could soon overtake men as the majority of the US labor force.

Men have been disproportionately hurt because they dominate those industries that have been crushed: nine in every 10 construction workers are male, as are seven in every 10 manufacturing workers. These two sectors alone have lost almost 2.5m jobs. Women, in contrast, tend to hold more cyclically stable jobs and make up 75 per cent of the most insulated sectors of all: education and healthcare.

The widening gap between male and female joblessness means many US families are solely reliant on the income the woman brings in. Since women earn on average 20 per cent less than men, that is putting extra strain on many households.

Another report says — So the men of corporate America created the financial mess. Big surprise. Can the growing ranks of female CEOs help clean up the mess? The latest Fortune 500 rankings show a record number of women are running top companies. And while many of these women pull in relatively modest salaries, some of their companies are weathering the economic storm with relative ease.

Will this economic storm result in women proving themselves and finally attaining equality in the work force?



Filed under Economics, Woman Power