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Wednesday, March 16, 2011

WE ARE FAR TOO TOP-HEAVY!

"Corporations are NOT people! Money is NOT free speech!"
- TomCat, www.politics.plus.org -


"Advertising is legalized lying."
- H.G. Wells -


Big business AND government have grown far too large and inefficient in this country. They have handicapped themselves by turning boards of directors into buddy clubs filled with out-of-touch officers who actually drag their companies down, by manufacturing a bogus air of profitability through the outsourcing of labor and cutting wages down. Huge corporations have managed to buy off large portions of Congress through massive campaign contributions to Republicans and Democrats alike. Corporate lobbyists, rather than Congresspersons, often write bills themselves and offer them up to be enacted! They have managed to corrupt government regulators to the point where these "regulators" are no longer acting in the vpublic's best interest. THAT, ladies and gentlemen, is why we see the government seemingly paralyzed and unable to deliver what we all need from it. It is the reason why only laws beneficial mainly to the privileged and wealthy get passed and why everyone else is left wanting. It is the reason why our activist Supreme Court has now allowed corporations the exact same rights as individuals, and has declared they may contribute all the cash they can muster to spend freely without restriction in our political campaigns!

This perverse corporate influence is rampant and permeates all areas of American life today. It is why TV shows are constantly interrupted by lying commercials which insult our intelligence, and why these obnoxious commercial breaks have steadily grown from 8 minutes per HOUR in the very early 1960s to roughly 22 minutes per HOUR today. It is the reason why American jobs have been exported outside of our borders; why our wages have flattened out or have even been reduced in recent years; why labor union power, influence, and membership have all declined to dangerously anemic levels over the past 40 years; and why the middle class is rapidly disappearing. This entire country is being squeezed so those at the top of the income scale may grow even wealthier than they have ever been.

This is NOT how democracy is supposed to function, and it is a dangerously regressive phenomenon which must be halted and reversed!


A revealing study by Norton & Ariely, 2010, shows that Americans are clueless about how the country's wealth is distributed or is as concentrated as it now is. (Left click on the graphs to make them larger if you need to). When shown three pie charts representing possible wealth distributions, 90% or more of the 5,522 respondents -- whatever their gender, age, income level, or party affiliation -- thought that the American wealth distribution most resembled one in which the top 20% has about 60% of the wealth. Of course, the top 20% actually control about 85% of the wealth!

Even more unbelievable, they did not come close to the amount of wealth held by the bottom 40% of the population: the lowest two groups which compose the lowest 40% hold just 0.3% of the wealth in the United States! Most people in the survey guessed the figure to be between 8% and 10%, and two dozen academic economists got it wrong too, by guessing about 2% -- seven times too high. Those surveyed did have it about right for what the 20% in the middle have; it's at the top and the bottom that they don't have any idea of what's really going on.

Table 3: Share of wealth held by the Bottom 99% and Top 1% in the United States, 1922-2007.
Bottom 99 percent / Top 1 percent
1922 63.3% / 36.7%
1929 55.8% / 44.2%
1933 66.7% / 33.3%
1939 63.6% / 36.4%
1945 70.2% / 29.8%
1949 72.9% / 27.1%
1953 68.8% / 31.2%
1962 68.2% / 31.8%
1965 65.6% / 34.4%
1969 68.9% / 31.1%
1972 70.9% / 29.1%
1976 80.1% / 19.9%
1979 79.5% / 20.5%
1981 75.2% / 24.8%
1983 69.1% / 30.9%
1986 68.1% / 31.9%
1989 64.3% / 35.7%
1992 62.8% / 37.2%
1995 61.5% / 38.5%
1998 61.9% / 38.1%
2001 66.6% / 33.4%
2004 65.7% / 34.3%
2007 65.4% / 34.6%

Sources: 1922-1989 data from Wolff (1996). 1992-2007 data from Wolff (2010).


Table 4: Percentage of wealth held in 2000 by the Top 10% of the adult population in various Western countries:
Switzerland 71.3%
United States 69.8%
Denmark 65.0%
France 61.0%
Sweden 58.6%
UK 56.0%
Canada 53.0%
Norway 50.5%
Germany 44.4%
Finland 42.3%
It is interesting to note that all of these countries EXCEPT THE UNITED STATES have generous universal health care services provided by their governments that are financed by their taxpayers!

Source: 2006 study, World Institute for Development Economics Research

Corporations love to talk about how lower taxes and huge profits are necessary to provide stockholders with generous dividend checks, as if millions of lower income folks will benefit. But as the table below clearly shows, only 8.9% of the bottom 80% of wage earners are even stockholders!

Table 5a: Concentration of stock ownership in the United States, 2001-2007
Percent of all stock owned:
Wealth class / 2001 / 2004 / 2007
Top 1% 33.5% / 36.7% / 38.3%
Next 19% 55.8% / 53.9% / 52.8%
Bottom 80% 10.7% / 9.4% / 8.9%


Table 5b: Amount of stock owned by various wealth classes in the U.S., 2007
Percent of households owning stocks worth:
Wealth class $0 (no stocks) / $1-$10,000 / More than $10,000
Top 1% 7.4% / 4.2% / 88.4%
95-99% 7.8% / 2.7% / 89.5%
90-95% 13.2% / 5.4% / 81.4%
80-90% 17.9% / 10.9% / 71.2%
60-80% 34.6% / 18.3% / 47.1%
40-60% 52.3% / 25.6% / 22.1%
20-40% 69.7% / 21.6% / 8.7%
Bottom 20% 84.7% / 14.3% / 2.0%

Source: Wolff, 2007 and 2010

THE TOP 400 WEALTHIEST AMERICAN WAGE EARNERS HOLD MORE WEALTH TODAY THAN THE BOTTOM 155 MILLION COMBINED!

In 1970, CEOs made $25 for every $1 the average worker made. Due to technological advancements, production and profit levels exploded from 1970 - 2000. With the lion's share of increased profits going to the CEO's, this pay ratio has now dramatically risen to a whopping $90 for CEOs to $1 for the average worker!
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Graph courtesy www.politicsplus.org/

Our economy has become top-heavy, folks. This unhealthy trend toward repeated tax cuts for the very rich combined with ever-accelerating CEO pay and benefits coming at the expense of average workers' pay and benefits is unsustainable and must be REVERSED! Like most top-heavy items, if not corrected soon, the country itself will collapse altogether. The signs of economic collapse are all around us. Our infrastructure is in serious disrepair. Corporations grow greedier every day. Labor has become a scapegoat to be neutralized and exported. Debt is rising at an alarming rate.The very rich are sitting on their money or investing overseas while the country they were born in stagnates and putrifies.

A PEOPLE'S PARTY dedicated solely to reversing these threatening trends is the ONLY answer! It must restore the power of labor and, through government regulation, roll back runaway CEO pay, minimize corporate influence over government, and revamp our grossly unfair tax system which benefits only the very wealthy. It must reduce the power and influence of weak, blue dog Democrats and help push the hopelessly out-of-touch and ultra-conservative Republican Party into its deserved place on the scrap heap of history. Time is running out for the middle class. Proudly hoisting the banner of the People's Party, the middle class and poor must strike back NOW!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

BRING ON THE PEOPLE'S PARTY - NOW!

The following article, which I am reproducing whole here, came from a March 7 posting over at former Labor Secretary Robert Reich's brilliant blog "http://robertreich.org/". I have taken the liberty of bolding where I felt necessary. My own comments will follow this piece at bottom and will appear in bolded italic. Enjoy!
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The Birth of the People’s Party
Monday, March 7, 2011

Look at the outrage in Madison, Wisconsin. Look at the crowds in DesMoines, Iowa. Look at the demonstrations in Indiana and Ohio and elswhere around America.

Hear what they’re saying: Stop attacking unions. Stop making scapegoats out of public employees. Stop protecting the super-rich from paying their fair share of the taxes needed to keep our schools running.

Stop gutting the working middle class.

Are we finally seeing average Americans stand up and demand a fair shake in an economy now grotesquely tilted toward the wealthy and the privileged? Are Americans beginning to awake to the fact that our economy now delivers a larger share of total income to the very top than at any time in living memory? That big corporations are making more money and creating more jobs ABROAD than in the United States?

That this concentration of income and wealth has so corrupted politics that corporations can extort whatever they want from the government — tax breaks, loan guarantees, subsidies — while the super-rich can take most of their income as capital gains (taxed at 15 percent), and the rest at the lowest top rate in 25 years? And that because of this our kids are crowded into classrooms, our streets and highways and bridges are falling apart, and our healthcare bills are out of control?

The Tea Party grew out of indignation over the Wall Street bailout — an indignation shared by the vast majority of Americans. But the Tea Party ended up directing its ire at government rather than at big business and Wall Street. Was this because billionaires Charles and David Koch and their like funneled money to the Tea Party through front organizations like Dick Armey’s Freedom Works, and thereby co-opted it?

Now we may be seeing the birth of a genuine populist movement. Call it the People’s Party. Like the Tea Party, the People’s Party doesn’t have a clear organization or hierarchy or single address. It doesn’t have lobbyists in Washington. It’s not even yet recognized by the mainstream media.

But the People’s Party seems to be growing in numbers and in intensity. And it’s starting to push elected officials — first at the state level — to listen and respond.
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I WHOLEHEARTEDLY support this creation of a new PEOPLE'S PARTY! I say, let it become as powerful and influential a faction within the Democratic Party as the Tea Party has become in the Republican Party! Conservative Republicanism failed this country way back in the 1920s. Foolishly, today's reactionary Republicans stubbornly cling to those thoroughly discredited, unfair, and HARMFUL "supply-side" and "free market" CRAZY economic beliefs and practices! Blue Dog Democrats, too cowardly or too conservative to behave as REAL Democrats used to, (being a strong force for econpmic change and fairness), have dragged the Democratic Party down. They have saddled it with heretical corporatist ideology. They have undercut the President's more progressive planks and weakened him politically, forcing him to make unnecessary and damaging overtures to, and compromises with, the reactionary Repulicans.

People are understandably frustrated. I share that frustration.

NEITHER PARTY REPRESENTS THE MAJORITY OF THE POPULATION ANY LONGER. The Republicans are ALL bought-out, corporate shills and represent only the religious right, big business, and the wealthiest 2% of the country. Scott Walker and his reactionary Republicans' actions in Wisconsin prove that this miserable party is bound determined to attack American workers to aid the rich. The Democrats have become impotent and no longer represent the poor OR The middle class, either. They, too, have become plutocratic puppets who are completely compromised by the oligarchy this country has become. Only a handful of progressives, notably Vermont Senator BERNIE SANDERS, Minnesota Senator AL FRANKEN, Ohio Senator SHERROD BROWN, and Oregon Senator RON WYDEN have shown any gumption at all, by consistently voting in favor of "normal, everyday, working Americans" who make up most of the remaining 98% of the population.

Writing in www.forbes.com, in an article called "Is Wisconsin the Real Republican Waterloo?", E.D. Kain says, "In Wisconsin, Democrats are already promising to step-up recall efforts. But the recalls are only a small part of what is likely going to be a huge anti-Republican backlash across the nation, as working Americans finally realize what that party actually stands for: a playing field heavily tilted toward the rich and powerful, toward corporate power, and against worker rights...And now conservatives have chosen public-sector workers and teachers as their hill to die on. They have followed the most radical voices in the party and the movement, and elected Scott Walker, Rick Scott, and various other Tea Party candidates. Heavily funded by big campaign donors like the Koch brothers and other corporate interests, the Republican party has made a concerted effort across the country to take on unions, public pensions, and social services for the poor...Republicans have a long history of union-busting and anti-labor rhetoric, but taking on teachers and cops is a big mistake. This blatant effort to weaken the Democratic party will have precisely the opposite effect...Now Scott Walker has given progressives their chance. This is the Democrats' chance to recapture that narrative, to turn the discussion back to the dignity of the middle class, to the importance of policies that do not simply push power and capital ever upward. THIS is the Republican’s Waterloo." PRETTY ASTOUNDING OBSERVATIONS FOR ONE WRITING FOR FORBES.COM!

NOW IS THE TIME! People are fired up and are now starting to recognize the threat the conservative Republicans pose to us all. This country needs President Obama and ALL Progressives to wean Democrats away from the timid Blue Dog and conservative influencees and unite under a new, MUCH more responsive, pro-labor, and progressive PEOPLE'S PARTY. The time is ripe for all progressives to flood Democratic Party caucuses next year and slowly replace the corrupting influences within, eventually filling them with progressive-minded PEOPLE'S PARTY activists instead! This would not only ensure the President's re-election, but it would free him from the confines he's been forced to operate under. When this occurs, I'll bet we see an invigorated President who will actually be able to accomplish just what voters need and really want, and what they expected when they elected him in 2008. Remember, the President started out with a much more progressive agenda. After lukewarm Democratic support and no support at all from Republicans, he grew more timid in his approach. I believe that, with an overwhelming new Democratic majority composed of a strong PEOPLE'S PARTY faction, he will return to the form he showed right after he was first elected.

Like Robert Reich, I, too, believe this to be a growing, GENUINELY populist movement in dire need of an activist launching. Will you join me in this push for a truly progressive alternative to the phony, Koch brothers-financed ultra-conservative Tea Party? Will you attend next year's Democratic caucuses, write repeated letters to the editor of your local paper, TALK TO YOUR FRIENDS AND CO-WORKERS, and post info about what you're doing to attract others on Facebook and Twitter? By doing so, we may just be able to completely reverse this long downhill slide the conservative Republicans have had this country on for the past 30 years!

This is NOT a move to radicalize the Democratic Party. Rather, it is a way to RESTORE it to the party it once was: a party deserving of respect, which will again actually deliver for its constituents (and the entire country), as it should!

JOIN ME, PROGRESSIVES! THIS IS THE MOMENT WE'VE BEEN WAITING FOR!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

ASH WEDNESDAY, AND THE SEASON OF LENT

Today is Ash Wednesday, which marks the start of the season of Lent in the western Christian church. It is a season of inner reflection, doing penance for the wromgs one has done, and fasting, which prepares one for Christ's Resurrection on Easter Sunday, by which all Christian believers get the chance for redemption.


Modern Christians will be anointed on the forehead with ashes today. These ashes signify three things: that one should always be humble; that one should emulate the ancient Ninevites, who followed Jacob's advice to repent by doing penance in sackcloth and ashes; and that all will not remain here on earth forever - the human race will someday return to the dust from which it was first created.

As this Lenten season begins today, each and every one of us can engage in sacrifice for a higher purpose. One need not even be a Christian to achieve some good with this. One need not do something monumental, either: each of us, in his or her own way, can engage in this sacrifice for a good cause of our own choosing. Doing so certainly won't break us or kill us. For example, business owners and corporate CEOs could hire one extra employee off of the unemployment rolls, or give existing employees a little unexpected bonus or raise. Employees who are accustomed to engaging in unproductive activities on company time (like internet surfing or shopping) could refrain from doing that for the season so as to quit taking advantage of the boss. Office employees and CEOs alike could agree to donate $1 each per month for the next year or two to support orphans or needy children somewhere. The American Institute of Philanthropy publishes a guide to charities you can trust, and this guide is available for only $3. Just contact them at this address:

American Institute of Philanthropy
P.O. Box 578460
Chicago, IL 60657



Mortgage bankers could give those facing foreclosure 30 to 60 more days grace. In the lunch line, or at the highway toll booth, one could pay the next person's fare as an act of anonymous kindness. Each of us could easily spare some pocket change or even $5 to give to the next homeless person we see on the street. Politicians and pundits alike, such as Michele Bachmann, Sarah Palin, Mike Huckabee, Rush Limbaugh, and Glenn Beck, could all refrain from telling lies about their opponents for political gain during the next six weeks. Children could step up and do the dishes or other chores out of turn every so often. Oil company executives and Wall Street speculators could refrain from raising gasoline prices every time there's the least little bit of tension reported from the Middle East. Come April 15, just for this year, taxpayers could refrain from taking deductions they aren't really supposed to. Fundamentalist Christians could stop their holier-than-thou attacks on Muslims and gays just long enough to realize Jesus Himself would never approve of their hateful actions.

If all of us take the time and make the effort to find little ways we can each sacrifice, the net result will be something very large and meaningful indeed! I invite readers to suggest other little things which could be done this season to make our world be a better and fairer place for all.


If each of us will only look within ourselves for the next six weeks, we will certainly find our own individual way to improve the world situation and we may help develop some true and lasting peace as a side benefit. There is nothing to lose, and VERY much to gain, by doing these little acts of sacrifice. Let's give it a try, shall we? What are YOUR suggestions, readers?

Sunday, March 6, 2011

BAN ALL MONOPOLISTIC CORPORATIONS INSTEAD!

A corporate CEO, a teabagger, and a unionized public employee are sitting around a table. A plate with a dozen cookies has been placed before the CEO. He takes 11 of the cookies, and then says to the teabagger, "Watch out for that union guy. He wants a piece of your cookie."

This ingeneous fable is a perfect illustration of the American economic system today. Big corporations have experienced gains in worker productivity as a result of, and despite, freezing wages, conducting layoffs, and reducing workers' hours. REAL unemployment (not the "official" government statistic, but those who are still without a job) is still unbearably high. Meanwhile, CEO salaries and benefit packages continue to skyrocket. Outsourcing of American jobs continues. Union membership in the private sector is at an all-time low, as repeated union busting attempts over the past 30 years have been largely successful. The corporation and its kingpin, the CEO, rule the roost. They have devoured the Republican Party whole, and have succeeded in neutralizing and making impotent the once formidable (former) party of the workers and the poor, the Democratic Party. Now they wish to make their victory all but complete by doing away with public sector unions. They know if they are successful in this attempt, the few remaining private sector unions will also disappear. It is a disgraceful and indefensible action being undertaken in this so-called "land of the free," where the only freedom in the marketplace belongs to those who set the wages, not to those who actually produce wealth through their labor.

The corporatists and their willing parrots in the reactionary Republican Party are trying to turn non-union employees against union employees. They circulate wild and crazy rumors about how union employees make vastly more than non-union employees for the same type of work (in most cases they DON'T); how union employees' benefits dwarf those of non-union workers and are paid for by taxpayers (although most union pensions and medical insurance are either fully or partly worker-funded); and how closed-shop companies are costing jobs overall (a baldfaced lie). Their strategy is simple: divide the workers, and then conquer them. Whip up public opinion against unions (especially public-sector ones), and remain safe and untouched and able to further increase revenues and profits while both groups of workers fight among themselves. It is a dishonest and cynical ploy. It is a tactic these plutocrats and their far-right parrots are attempting to institutionalize. It must therefore be resisted to the bitter end by all who aren't members of the upper 2% of the income scale!

Scott Walker and John Kasich, the extreme far-right Republican governers of, respectively, Wisconsin and Ohio, have tried to destroy the effectiveness of public-sector unions by stripping them of their ability to collectively bargain. They have proceeded with this radical agenda even though nationwide polls indicate that, by a landslide margin, most voters disagree completely with their approach. Being ideologues who detest unions, they have nonetheless gone straight ahead with their plan.

Both claim it is the only way to reduce their state's budget deficit. But that is a deliberate lie, and they know it. Keep in mind: Neither the Wisconsin NOR the Ohio public sector unions have a history or pattern of strikes, walkouts, or other disruptions. This is just a conspiracy devised at the last Republican Governors Association meeting to directly attack these workers, done completely without provocation. And these sneaky, dishonest two governors do not mention that prior to their action, both states granted huge tax cuts to corporations (Ohio even completely did away with their corporate income tax)! BOTH MEN MUST THEREFORE BE RECALLED AND THROWN FROM OFFICE AT THE EARLIEST POSSIBLE MOMENT FOR THIS ARROGANT, DEFIANT, AND DISHONEST ACTION!

Corporate taxes have steadily decreased as a percentage of our Gross Domestic Product, as the chart below clearly shows. Yet corporations still send out swarms of lobbyists to get Congress to lower their taxes even further! It defies logic, and such behavior can only be filed under the heading of GREED. For, along with tremendous gains in productivity per worker over the past 20 years, corporations have caused an actual REDUCTION in the number and pay scales of American workers' jobs. That's right: rather than take their tax decreases and apply them to the creation of new, better-paying AMERICAN jobs, corporations have either sat on their savings, or, worse yet, exported American jobs overseas. Even worse, much of the taxes bthey used to pay have been moved steadily from them over to personal income taxes over the years!
The thoroughly bought-out Republican Party in the House of Representatives recently voted unanimously to defeat a Democratic bill which would have ended our $36 BILLION federal subsidy to the nation's top 5 oil companies, who together have netted $1 TRILLION in profit over the past decade! That should give you an idea of the REAL Republican feeling on cutting our nation's deficit!

To further show how greedy corporate America has become, not only has their average rate of taxation declined steadily, but they have also taken to using creative ways to present themselves so as to incur even less taxation! Designation as a sub-S corporation provides for an even larger tax savings, as the steady rise in companies doing so is shown in the chart below.
To put this in proper perspective, I am presenting below two graphs which I obtained from TomCat's post of March 3, which appeared on his marvelous blog www.politicsplus.org. (Left click on each graph to make it larger and more readable). They show exactly how corporate America has robbed YOU over the past decades, and what the current table of income levels reveals. It is DISGUSTING!
It is an unfairly reckless act for Govs. Walker and Kasich to effectively be balancing their state budgets on the backs of middle class and poor workers, and an added insult to bar public unions tfrom bargaining collectively for better pay and working conditions. These are not the actions of men who truly believe in a free market. Rather, these are puppets of the plutocracy this country has become. They aren't public servants; they are servants of an evil, greedy oligarchy which wishes to push all wealth upward into the hands of a select few. For if these clowns really did believe in a free market, rather than ban collective bargaining among public employees, they would heed my call to BAN ALL MONOPOLISTIC CORPORATIONS INSTEAD!


PROGRESSIVES AND INDEPENDENTS: REMEMBER THE WISCONSIN PUBLIC SECTOR WORKERS!!!

In closing, I say to the Republican Speaker of the House of Representatives:

OK, you got your extended Bush tax cuts for the rich; NOW WHERE ARE THE JOBS WHICH WERE SUPPOSED TO RESULT? You've regained control of the House of Representatives; NOW WHERE ARE THE JOBS WHICH WERE SUPPOSED TO RESULT? You've been Speaker of the House for over 2 months. You have done nothing to create new jobs and have instead wasted all your time on social issues. NOW, WHERE THE HELL ARE THE JOBS YOU SAID WOULD BE CREATED WHEN THE REPUBLICANS GAINED CONTROL, MR. BOEHNER?

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

WDGY'S JIM DANDY (1942-2010)

James Brian Everts (aka "Diamond Jim Dandy") February 24, 1942-October 20, 2010, R. I. P.

To my utter dismay, I found out last week that I had lost my boyhood idol, a radio DJ who used to broadcast from the now-defunct Twin Cities radio station WDGY, AM 1130. I am saddened that I didn't have the chance to speak with him one last time, or to thank him once again for the countless hours of enjoyment his show provided for me from early 1966-spring 1968, and again briefly in the spring of 1969. So I'll just have to do so here in this memorial post I now dedicate to him in his honor.

During the 1960s, WDGY (or "Weegee" as we locals referred to it) was THE most listened to, most popular radio station. It was a powerful 50,000 watt directional station, and it vied for no.1 with WCCO-AM as the most listened-to station in the Minneapolis-St. Paul market. Whereas 'CCO was mostly a talk/sports/easy listening type of format, WDGY played all the current pop-rock top 40 hits of that time, and was an absolute staple among pre-teens to young adults of the day (circa 1964-1973 or so). FM radio was still in its infancy at that time and a suitable FM rock station didn't emerge here until about 1969 or so, so our main choice was always WDGY. It was where we first heard The Beatles, the Stones, the Dave Clark Five, the Supremes, the Temptations, the Four Tops, Johnny Rivers, Petula Clark, Lesley Gore, the Lovin' Spoonful, the Left Banke, Sam and Dave, Simon and Garfunkel, the Byrds, the Four Seasons, and scores upon scores of other classic sixties groups and singers. And the king of Weegee was Jim Dandy.

Diamond Jim Dandy was a true radio personality, not your tired, safe, benign radio DJ of today. He was very lively, fast talking, and slightly irreverent. He didn't have what you would call a deep or resonant radio voice, but he held his listeners quite well with his quick wit and conversational, uplifting personality. His Monday-Saturday 7 PM-12 midnight slot constantly outdrew main rival 'CCO in the Arbitron ratings. Back in those days, it was customary for most stations to play two or at most three selections and then run several commercials or do a short news break. Not Jim Dandy, though: sometime in 1966, he began to call for what he termed "a six pack." He mentioned that if 6 people would call him and DARE him to play six records in a row without a commercial break, not only would he play the records continuously, he would even mention the callers' names and cities on the air! He ended up doing this several times a night, and each time he'd have all of us scrambling to call in and get our names mentioned. I can remember furiously dialing 827-9999 on our old rotary phone over and over, until I finally got through without a busy signal, and most nights I succeeded. As a matter of fact, it got to the point where I would say, "Jim, I'd like to dare ya for a six-pack" and he would say "OK, Jack, you're in. How ya doin' tonight?" I was tickled pink that he recognized my voice, so, naturally, I just kept on listening and calling nearly every night. Homework was ALWAYS done in the kitchen in front of the transistor radio and close to the phone. It got to the point where I swear I was one of three or four callers who most often got his name read on the air. (I remember my fellow "rivals" at the time as being a Bruce Ness of Minneapolis and a Diane Eid of Richfield - funny how, 42+ years later, I can still remember those names)! As time went on, sometimes Jim would ask for dares for a 12-pack, something that was truly unheard of in AM radio of the time. That, of course, was 12 records played in a row without commercials and 12 listeners' names being read on the air. He also asked for people to call in to dedicate songs to their particular girl or boy friend of the moment, and I did that quite a few times too.

Saturday, July 15, 1967, is a date I'll always remember. My uncle had previously provided me with two good box seat tickets for the Minnesota Twins-Kansas City Athletics baseball game. I asked Jim Dandy if he'd like to go with me to the game, and he accepted. He actually pre-recorded his show for that night on tape so he could be at the game! He came by at the appointed time and picked me up in his flashy red 1965 Chevy convertible, and away we went! The Twins didn't play particularly well that day, and K.C. really stunk, so we barely eked out a 3-2 win. Jim asked me if I would like to visit him and get a guided tour at the radio station in a week or so, and I said "YES!" very enthusiastically! So about a week and a half later my mom drove me out to the station (I was only 13 at the time) and in I went, all wide-eyed with wonderment! He took me into the broadcast booth where later that night he'd be broadcating from, mentioning that we must be very quiet so as not to disturb Scott Burton, who preceded him in the rotation. We crept in quietly and I was all eyes! Later he took me into the basement, where they stored past hit records and did production. Their collection of 45 rpm records was incredible.

Jim Dandy left the station the following May and didn't return until a brief stint the following year. Then, all of a sudden, he was gone without an explanation. It took me nearly 40 years, but I finally tracked him down through an email address I saw somewhere. I wrote him about much of what you see here and asked if he remembered me. I didn't hear back for quite some time. But finally, one day, I got a phone call. I didn't recognize the voice on the other end. It was hoarser and gruffer than I remembered. But then the caller idebtified himself as JIM DANDY! I damn near dropped the phone! He mentioned that he was in Minneapolis, and asked if I'd like to join him for a drink. "You're on!" I hurriedly replied. So we met for SEVERAL drinks and had a wonderful time reminiscing about 1960s radio and WDGY in particular.

Jim Dandy in the broadcast booth during his brief return stint at WDGY in 1969.

I asked him what had brought him back to town, and he told me he had always liked Minneapolis and remembered his stay here fondly, and that he wanted to retire here. I was delighted to have him back in my life after so many years, but I was concerned about his health. He didn't look that good, having become very heavy set. He smoked like a chimney, and his voice had gotten noticeably deeper and hoarser. It was also obvious that he was drinking quite a bit, judging from the 4 or 5 vodka tonics he consumed during our visit that afternoon together. We decided to keep in touch, and he did call me from time to time, and I him. One day, though, he called and told me he was now in a nursing home. He had fallen and couldn't get up, and was taken to the hospital by paramedics with a severely bruised arm. I visited him at the nursing home in the spring of 2009. That was the last time I saw him alive. I called him and wished him a happy birthday last year, and we talked one time after that as well. I had been preoccupied with my own mother's poor health most of last spring, and she died at the end of May. 5 months later, my buddy Jim Dandy died too, and I didn't even know until I called for him again last week. I don't know a cause of death, but I would almost bet it was lung cancer or emphysema, or perhaps a heart attack...

Jim Dandy was the type of guy who never held back and said whatever was on his mind. He wasn't as offensive as Rush Limbaugh in that regard, but he sure wasn't shy. For some reason, he never cared that much for British sixties singer Petula Clark. Clark was 32, and already married with two children by the time her no. 1 monster hit "Downtown" entered American charts very late in 1964. Jim objected to the goody-goody, British schoolgirl image which had been created for her by record executives. To give you an idea of his irreverence, he once said of her, "she had more fingerprints on her than the front door of Duff's" (a popular Twin Cities lounge of that era). I laughed like hell at that one. Another time, he quipped, "somebody said that I could get rid of gas by eating pineapples. So I did that, and now I can't stop doing the hula and singin' "Tiny Bubbles." He always used to end his show by saying, "love is love, and fun is fun, but isn't it quiet when the goldfish die---goodbyyyeee..."




It IS quiet now, Jim, and I'm heartsick about it.




Thank you, Jim Dandy, for the thousands of hours of enjoyment you provided a young teenage boy back in those glory days of 1960s radio. I will NEVER forget you!


For an aircheck of what Jim Dandy actually sounded like, go to http://www.radiotapes.com/WDGY.html. Scroll down until you see 5/25/68 Diamond Jim Dandy, and click on it. It's not one of his better airchecks, but it does give you some idea of how he sounded. (Regrettably, this is not hyperlinked, so you'll just have to enter the address yourself).

LONG LIVE JIM DANDY! AND, LONG LIVE WDGY AM 1130!