Search This Blog

Monday, December 26, 2011

Comparison: a Prostitute and a TSA agent

What kind of person seeks the kind of job where hassling other people is the job description? I can kind of understand if you just happen to fall into that sort of profession but what kind of person says to themselves: 'I want to audit people for the IRS.' 'I want to be a debt collector' 'I want to give people parking tickets.' 'I want to be a TSA agent.'

You might think to yourself that somebody's got to do it, but while that might be so, I also think, why did they pick it. What does that say about them? Most folks performing these sorts of jobs fall back on the "I'm just doing my job," excuse. What does it say about a person if every day they have to explain to the outraged people that they've just pissed off that they're just doing their job? Well maybe they are just doing their job, but that lame-ass excuse didn't work for the Nazis. I seriously doubt these sorts of people ever give that thought a moment's consideration while they're busy just doing their job. Well, maybe it is their job but I have to wonder why these people picked a job that would make everyone hate their stinking guts?

Take the prostitute by comparison: Now that's a job that is not exactly on the high school guidance councilors approved list... not at all glamorous. There's a job someone'd pretty much just have to fall into. Their job is to make someone happy, to provide sexual relief. Let's face it; if it weren't for all the STDs so many prostitutes carelessly spread, the group as a whole might even seem admirable if you look at it from a certain perspective. In fact, prostitutes who demand their customers use condoms, who are knowledgeable about STDs and skilled in detecting them before sexual relations commence, and who get weekly examinations by licensed professionals could be considered useful members of society performing a necessary service. It's virtually a requirement that a customer enjoy the services prostitutes offer, otherwise they wouldn't ever get any repeat business. Here is an example of an occupation where the customer is happy that the professional is doing her job.

The TSA agent went to school―I assume―to learn whatever it is that he supposedly knows. He's memorized a set of rules which he's required to follow exactly. These rules were written out in committee by an assortment of bureaucrats who had in mind the good of the people as a whole and not the inconvenience that will inevitably be suffered by any particular set of individuals. While it's possible that some intelligence and commonsense went into the design of these rules, it's not very likely. You see, the rule designers are merely the winners of the most recent popularity contest and their ability and proficiency is focused entirely on winning popularity contests―not designing intelligent rules. This seems kind of pointless and stupid when you stop and think about it.

After these rules are designed, they are enforced by a completely different type of individual. This sort doesn't care if a rule is stupid or not. In fact, they will quickly inform you that "Rules are Rules" when questioned. If that amazingly cogent and insightful argument doesn't seem to work, they'll go on to explain that they're "just doing their job." No thinking or decision making is necessary for these people. It's a simple binary yes or no decision. By separating the rulemakers from the rule enforcers almost all common-sense decision making is removed from the equation. Thus incidents like the following ones become not only possible, but inevitable:
One sign the TSA has officially gone overboard: One of its agents deemed a Massachusetts woman's cupcake a security threat. Rebecca Hains says she was moving through security at a Las Vegas airport on Wednesday when a TSA agent took her aside and explained that the cupcake's frosting was "gel-like," violating the TSA's restrictions on liquids and gels and making it a security risk.
Two women in their 80s put the Transportation Security Administration on the defensive this week by going public about their embarrassment during screenings in a private room at Kennedy Airport. One claimed she was forced to lower her pants and underwear in front of an agent so that her back brace could be inspected. Another said agents made her pull down her waistband to show her colostomy bag.
These TSA horror stories are now a part of the American experience. We're told that when we walk through the doors at the airport we've just given up some of our Constitutional rights. Until that particular sentiment is abandoned by the rights-abusers in charge, you will never see me at the airport. When I look at a prostitute I see someone more admirable and a better human being than the kind of person who'd mistreat others in the name of doing their jobs. Both prostitutes and TSA agents screw people for a living, but the screwing given by the TSA is more like a rape.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Sisyphean Tax Laws Grinding Down the Little Guys

The worst job I ever had was as a dish-washer at a Mexican restaurant. When I walked through the door into that blistering hot smoke filled kitchen, the sauna-like steam-heat would hit me like a 100-degree wet blanket and from there it only got worse. A mountain of dishes awaited me along with another entire counter stacked ceiling high with dirty pots and pans covered in baked on cheese and rice and beans. The thing I remember most though, the thing that really made it worthy of true "wake-up-screaming-nightmare" status, was that from the time I walked through the door it just kept getting worse.

The faster I washed and scrubbed, the faster they seemed to bring dirty dishes back on trays and carts. Dishes and pots and pans! They kept rolling in on me like a slow motion greasy avalanche. The steam from that hot-water pressure sprayer just roiled around in the air surrounding me with a miasma of fog and smoke from burnt tortillas and the continual grease fires which kept springing up and kept being squirted down. And they kept urging me to go faster! I was always falling behind, further behind as that mountain of dishes only got bigger and bigger! It was my fourteenth summer and my first job.

I tell you this personal history so that you'll understand that when I say I'm getting overwhelmed you'll know I'm not exaggerating. I'm fairly pragmatic and pride myself on my unrelenting efficiency. I no longer wash dishes at a Mexican restaurant but that same feeling of facing a monstrous and Sisyphean task meets me today just like it did so many years ago.

I don't have a team of accountants to help me prepare payroll, and just one facet of my job working for a less-than-gigantic company is keeping up with the income tax regulations for the various states where my company employs workers. Every state in this country has their own ass-hat- bureaucrat-designed way of calculating how taxes should be deducted and their own assorted and various rules and exceptions along with their own special assortment of tables and formulas. If you think you understand it this year, just wait. It's not just the Federal Government and Congress who keep changing the rules every two months, the legislatures of various states play the same insane three-card-monty taxation game. And I can't keep up!
Many payroll systems may not be able to make all the needed changes in January, the NPRC believes. And some may even struggle to get the job done by February.

There are two reasons why: The first pertains to high-income workers -- those who earn more than $110,100 a year. Since many of them will earn more than $18,350 in the first two months of the year, payroll systems will need to be programmed to withhold their Social Security taxes first at 4.2%, then at 6.2% for earnings above the $18,350 limit.

The second reason concerns the quarterly forms that payroll processors have to fill out for the IRS. A quarter is three months, but the extension would be for two months. So those forms would need to be redesigned and the systems would need to be programmed to reflect those adjustments. If all that can't be done by March 31, companies may later have to amend their returns.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Is Newt Gingrich going Senile?

I would have voted for Newt. I like what he's been saying, but he just jumped the shark with his latest "judicial activism" interview. Yes, it's true. The Federal Courts―especially insanely liberal ones like the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals―have made a number of absolutely horrible decisions lately. Yes, activist judges are not just making decisions, they're making laws. Conservatives like me, who desire a strict literal interpretation of the constitution, are known as strict constructionists. I feel the same way Newt does about activist judges. I hate them. I want very bad things to happen to them. I also feel like they should be held accountable for their over-the-top activist renderings of anything but justice. But I'm not running for president. I'm not calling for Federal Marshalls to go arrest Federal Judges because of a decision that they made. I might think it, but only a crazy person would say it. And only a bat-shit crazy lunatic would say it if he happened to be running for President of the United States of America.

There are things that you might think, that you'd never say. That fine line is one that only crazy people cross on a consistent basis. Newt crossed it once with his comments about children working as school janitors.
“You have a very poor neighborhood. You have students that are required to go to school. They have no money, no habit of work,” Gingrich said. “What if you paid them in the afternoon to work in the clerical office or as the assistant librarian? And let me get into the janitor thing. What if they became assistant janitors, and their job was to mop the floor and clean the bathroom?”
Even though in some respects I agree with Newt that children have a poor work ethic, I disagree wholeheartedly on the specific methods that Newt is espousing. There's a very definite conflict of interest in employing children at the same school that they attend as a student. That's just the tip of the iceberg regarding this idea of Newt's. An employee-employer relationship is a completely different one from a student-teacher one. When you start crossing these lines you'll inevitably find abuses beginning to crop up that are very hard to address because of the complicated multi-boundary relationship that's been created by a student employee.

While I thought it was a bad idea and an even worse talking point for an aspiring president, I thought, okay everybody has a few hare-brained schemes and his advisors will bring him around before this goes too far. So, no big deal. However, at another interview just the other day, he started talking about how he would arrest sitting Federal judges for decisions that he disagrees with.
During an appearance on CBS’s “Face the Nation,” Gingrich suggested the president could send federal law enforcement authorities to arrest judges who make controversial rulings in order to compel them to justify their decisions before congressional hearings.

When host Bob Schieffer asked how he would force federal judges to comply with congressional subpoenas, Gingrich said he would send the U.S. Capitol Police or U.S. Marshals to arrest the judges and force them to testify.
Aside from whether these ideas of Newt's are good or bad, I think that because Newt is running for President, discussing them with journalists and television commentators was an incredibly bad―perhaps even insane idea.

I no longer have faith that Newt would be a good President. He's proven he lacks the kind of fundamental judgment and wisdom that is a mandatory requirement for the man who'll lead our great nation. Further, there is in my opinion a reasonable doubt that he is even sane. There are numerous types of dementia that disproportionally afflict the elderly and in my opinion it's possible that he's suffering from some form of dementia right now.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Total Cell-phone Ban while Driving?

If you've ever tried to give a message to a person who's on a phone call with someone else, you must know how incredibly difficult it can be. They've got that phone pressed against their ear while their mouth is running ninety miles a minute. You wait for a chance when they're not busy talking to tell them something―usually it's something fairly important or you wouldn't be bothering them while they're on a phone call. Maybe they look at you and grimace with some horribly exaggerated frown or maybe they wave their hands in some primitive sign-language gesture which essentially means, Can't you see that I'm on a phone call? Whatever it is that they do to make you stop bothering them, you should have learned by now that they didn't receive a single word that you just said.

Okay, maybe you doubt what I say. Maybe you're thinking, I'm on the phone a lot and I hear what people say all the time. Sorry, denial ain't just a river in Egypt as they say. If you've never noticed the almost complete absorption into the phone call of someone talking on a phone then I bet you're on the phone yourself way too much.

Everybody changes their personality when they're on the phone. Most of us don't even realize it. I can't explain why our personalities change but I know they do because I'm an observer. I pride myself on noticing things that everyone else just kind of ignores or takes for granted. For instance, did you ever notice that a lot of people become very loud talkers when they're on the phone? If you never noticed that, you're probably one of the loud talkers. Other people become gigglers; they laugh at least once in every sentence. It couldn't possibly be that funny. Then there are the braggers. These self-absorbed types love to walk around in places with lots of other people while they loudly explain to someone on the other end of the phone how incredibly awesome they are.

People on phones all have one thing in common: they're all busy putting on a show. So whose bright idea was it to put a steering wheel into the hands of these preening starlets, these closet prima donnas and budding thespians of every stripe? Not smart at all. While cell phone talkers are driving they're also trying to be entertainers. I would put cell phone use while driving into the same category as alcohol. Both alcohol and cell phone use impair driving ability. The level of impairment varies from one person to the next but there is no doubt that everyone is impaired by both to a certain extent.

Now I'll address the standard objections: What about having a conversation with a passenger? Doesn't that impair driving? Of course it does, however in this case there are four eyes watching the road instead of just two. If you've ever driven with a passenger in the car, then it's almost certain you were having a conversation of some kind when the passenger yelled: "LOOK OUT!" The person on the other end of the cell phone can't alert you like that.

What about fiddling with the radio or the CD player; isn't that a distraction? What about juggling a Big Mac and a super-size order of fries, while balancing an extra large diet Coke between your thighs and trying to drive with your knees. Isn't that a distraction? YES! And YES!

Listen, this isn't rocket science. Anything you do while driving that isn't driving, is a distraction and will impair your driving ability. The good drivers already know this and the crappy ones don't care. Making more laws to try and force crappy drivers into becoming good drivers is completely pointless, since it's just not possible. As concern over cell phone use while driving grows, I expect a fringe element to demand that devices which block cell phone signals be factory installed. This is yet another case of a few inconsiderate people ruining it for everybody else. Here again is another reason why it's too bad there's no more frontier to go settle, leaving behind the smothering web of restrictions and laws intended to somehow impossibly force a motley crowd of angry savages to be kind to each other.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Common sense solution to IEDs in Afghanistan

IEDs (Improvised Explosive Device) are the biggest killer of US troops in Afghanistan. While there are various systems in place to identity and diffuse these IEDs, when a Jeep is traveling 40 to 50 miles per hour down some road, it's a little hard to use a metal detector. Simple common sense dictates that the solution is to make it harder for the terrorists to obtain the necessary ingredients for their bombs. I don't know very much about bombs, and I hesitate to do my normal Google research about this subject for quite obvious reasons. What put me on to this topic was the following story:
A Congressional panel has frozen $700 million in aid to Pakistan until it gives assurances it is helping fight the spread of homemade bombs in the region, a move one Pakistani senator called unwise and likely to strain ties further.
I'm no genius but the solution is so simple that at the first read of this news article about the continuous smuggling of Ammonium Nitrate across the porous Afghanistan/Pakistan border I understood that we must stop those factories from manufacturing Ammonium Nitrate. Trying to beef up security at the border is a Sisyphean waste of time. It just can't be done; because we're dealing with people who don't like Americans anyway and the idea that some of our troops might be blown up with that truckload of smuggled fertilizer probably doesn't fill the average border guard with too much concern.

The solution is obviously to just stop those two factories from manufacturing the Ammonium Nitrate in the first place.
One businessman explained how easy it is to get through security. "We pay a 1,200-rupee ($13) bribe to the Pakistani Frontiers Corps on the border for every car carrying fertilizer," said Kamal Khan in the border town of Chaman. "Fertilizer is smuggled on trucks, pickup trucks, motorcycles, bicycles and donkey carts."

Pakistan's fragile economy is heavily dependent on agriculture, so cutting down on fertilizer output would hurt the sector.
In a nutshell, the solution to stopping IEDs in Afghanistan is to stop the production of a key IED ingredient in neighboring Pakistan. That ingredient is an important and vital fertilizer for the primarily agrarian based economy of Pakistan. Since they need fertilizer the answer is to create a version of that same fertilizer that is non-explosive. So even though it made me very nervous Googling Ammonium Nitrate and words like Nonexplosive, I went ahead and took one for the Gipper.

In only a few seconds I found this article dated September 22, 2008―three years ago! The solution to the IED menace in Afghanistan is to use that $700,000,000.00 we aren't giving to Pakistan to help the two factories in Pakistan retool to produce a non-explosive fertilizer:
A major chemical company will announce Tuesday that it has found a way to render nitrogen fertilizer useless as an explosive, and improve its value to some crops.

The company, Honeywell, of Morris Township, N.J., has patented a method for combining ammonium nitrate fertilizer with a second type of fertilizer, ammonium sulfate. Ammonium nitrate can be soaked in diesel fuel to produce a powerful bomb and is a favorite of terrorists, but when chemically tied to the ammonium sulfate, its chemical structure is changed so that it is no longer explosive.

Chemists had been looking for ways to render ammonium nitrate nonexplosive since the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City was destroyed by a truck bomb in 1995, killing 168.

In 2006, Canadian authorities arrested 17 people who they said were planning to use such bombs in Ontario.

The Department of Homeland Security has certified the new fertilizer, which Honeywell calls ammonium sulfate nitrate, under a federal program devised to encourage such innovations by offering the manufacturers immunity from liability, according to Honeywell.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Election 2012 or the Blair Witch Project Revisited

They are disappearing one by one. The pressure, the terror, the sense that every direction is the wrong one and the giant echo chamber that seems to catch only the mistakes and the missteps, the verbal fumbles and foibles, and the past history thought forgotten. The candidates have discovered that they are all alone in the dark scary woods and the mainstream media―The Blair Witch―has been successfully dispatching them one by one.

First down, was Michele Bachmann who started out ahead even going on to win the Ames Straw Poll in August 2011. Her star faded when she was eclipsed by spectacular new entry Rick Perry who upon entry took from Bachmann many of her own supporters. As if that weren't enough, she also lost her top two strategists Ed Rollins and his deputy, who both quit at the same time that Rick Perry threw his hat in the ring.
Perry has not just robbed Bachmann of money and momentum, he's caused her to backslide. Between June and August, Bachmann fell from 11 percent to 4 percent in the Fox News poll. She fell 3 to 8 percentage points from July to August in polls conducted by or for NBC-Wall Street Journal, Quinnipiac, CNN, Public Policy Polling and Gallup.
Next down, Rick Perry's own political demise was caused by repeated gaffs and forgetfulness in debates along with the Gardasil controversy which was headline news for weeks until every American had been brainwashed informed by the media that Rick Perry was another slimy crony capitalist who happily put the pursuit of money ahead of his constituency.
The more Texas Gov. Rick Perry tries to defend his decision to sign an executive order in 2007 mandating that all young girls in Texas receive vaccinations against the human papillomavirus (HPV) before being admitted to school, the more he exposes himself as a lying scoundrel that is unfit to govern his own state, let alone lead a nation.
The relentless pace of constant debating combined with the unrelenting media pressure to explain his Gardasil decision is perhaps what led to the mental sluggishness and forgetfulness that was the eventual cause of his recent unpopularity.

Next down, was Herman Cain. This CEO of Godfather's Pizza had no political experience but was a strong and respected Tea Party personality. Of all the candidates this one perhaps had the best shot. His problem was simply that he had no political clout and his naïveté in this arena was quickly demonstrated when scandal was ginned up by The Mainstream Media his political adversaries. Cain at first blamed Rick Perry, then he blamed The Mainstream Media others for causing the unending torrent of tall-tale-telling-women to come forward claiming sexual harassment and various adulterous affairs.

Finally we come to the latest unfortunate to venture cluelessly onto centerstage―Newt Gingrich. The result has been entirely expected―an unending avalanche of hatred. Newt is a flip-flopper a Washington insider, he can't be trusted, etc. Newt Gingrich is the LSM's newest piñata, and they will beat him mercilessly until he finally breaks.

The mainstream media has already decided the candidate that will run against Obama and that candidate is Mitt Romney, the celebrated architect of a universal healthcare program for every resident of Massachusetts.
The Massachusetts plan was supposed to accomplish two things-achieve universal health insurance coverage while controlling costs. As Romney wrote in the Wall Street Journal, "Every uninsured citizen in Massachusetts will soon have affordable health insurance and the costs of health care will be reduced." In reality, the plan has done neither.

Under the new program, about 219,000 previously uninsured residents have signed up for insurance. Of these, 133,000 are receiving subsidized coverage, proving once again that people are all too happy to accept something "for free," and let others pay the bill. That is in addition to 56,000 people who have been signed up for Medicaid. The bigger the subsidy, the faster people are signing up. Of the 133,000 people who have signed up for insurance since the plan was implemented, slightly more than half have received totally free coverage. The subsidies may have increased the number of Massachusetts citizens with insurance, but as many as 400,000 Massachusetts residents by some estimates have failed to buy the required insurance. That includes the overwhelming majority of those with incomes too high to qualify for state subsidies. Fewer than 30,000 unsubsidized residents have signed up as a result of the mandate.

The Massachusetts plan might not have achieved universal coverage, but it has cost taxpayers a great deal of money. Originally, the plan was projected to cost $1.8 billion this year. Now it is expected to exceed those estimates by $150 million. Over the next 10 years, projections suggest that Romney-Care will cost about $2 billion more than was budgeted.
Why on earth do the mainstream media love Mitt Romney so very much? It's not really love, it's simple practicality. When the contest is finally between just Mitt Romney and Barack Obama, the media will make Romney stand in the corner while they sharpen their knives. Meanwhile, as each new front-runner challenges Mitt Romney's supremacy, the media will delight in finding, or perhaps even creating all manner of juicy scandal and then hounding them with it until they at last break and say something inappropriate.

Mitt Romney cannot win against Obama. Here's why: Romney Care. The single most important plank in Obama's platform cannot be attacked by Mitt Romney. The most unpopular thing Obama did as president and Mitt Romney can't say a single word about it. Then there's the economy. The economy runs in cycles and ours is due for an upswing. I predict that this is exactly what we'll see. Unemployment figures are finally starting to drop―in spite of Obama's economic decisions, not because of them.

The only topic left on the table to argue about will be the monumental deficit and that―the media will explain―was caused by the "super rich who don't pay their fair share" and Wall Street of course. An army of "Occupiers" are already on the march to shove this particular morsel of bullshit down our throats. So there you have it. The LSM wants the contest to be Mitt Romney the rich white-boy vs. media darling and Rock Super Star, Barack Hussein Obama.

One final reason the media wants Romney to be the challenger―and you can write this one down―Mitt rhymes with shit and Romney starts with an "R". Simple rhymes and convenient alliteration will prove to be the last few coffin nails in "Romney the Racist's" political casket.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Cowardice and Appeasement on the Left

The stink of fear rolls off them in a miasmic wave of sweat and funk. The base coward stands on the political left and the object of his wave of hysterical fear is Iran and its goal of nuclear armament. Everyone with any sense at all understands that Iran seeks nuclear weapons with which it plans to destroy Israel. In 2005 when Mahmoud Ahmadinejad became the new President of Iran, he spoke before 4000 students and told them in no uncertain terms his belief that Israel must be obliterated, and that Palestinians would do this.
TEHRAN — Iran's conservative new president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, said Wednesday that Israel must be "wiped off the map" and that attacks by Palestinians would destroy it, the ISNA press agency reported.

Ahmadinejad was speaking to an audience of about 4,000 students at a program called "The World Without Zionism," in preparation for an annual anti-Israel demonstration on the last Friday of the holy month of Ramadan.
This candid opinion was a genuine look into the mind of the evil Iranian leader. Anyone who claims that the Muslim world is not set on destroying Israel is either a complete idiot or a contemptible liar. I give liberals the benefit of the doubt; I don't think they're complete idiots. It makes me wonder why they stand so firmly on the side of evil. After reading the latest ghastly terror-reeking editorial from a left-wing Manchester England newspaper "The Guardian", I finally understand why liberals lie so blatantly, so absurdly, so self-destructively. They're hoping the Muslims won't kill them once they take over the world, or at least that the Muslims will kill them last. Here are some excerpts from that Guardian editorial:
After a decade of blood-drenched failure in Afghanistan and Iraq, violent destabilisation of Pakistan and Yemen, the devastation of Lebanon and slaughter in Libya, you might hope the US and its friends had had their fill of invasion and intervention in the Muslim world.

It seems not. For months the evidence has been growing that a US-Israeli stealth war against Iran has already begun, backed by Britain and France. Covert support for armed opposition groups has spread into a campaign of assassinations of Iranian scientists, cyber warfare, attacks on military and missile installations, and the killing of an Iranian general, among others.

There is in fact no reliable evidence that Iran is engaged in a nuclear weapons programme. The latest International Atomic Energy Agency report once again failed to produce a smoking gun, despite the best efforts of its new director general, Yukiya Amano.
I was amazed that rubbish like this would ever be published, but of course I forgot that all the liberal liars march in lock-step. To me it seems so self-destructive to ignore the looming sword of Damocles that hangs over Jerusalem, but that is exactly what the liberals are doing. It's only a matter of time, perhaps only a couple of years before Iran has its first nuclear weapon. Shortly thereafter that nuclear weapon will be attached to a rocket and launched at Israel―probably by the Palestinians. Cowardly liberals all marching in lock-step chant: "There is in fact no reliable evidence that Iran is engaged in a nuclear weapons programme." This timorous whistling in the dark is nothing but the pathetic camouflage liberals use to try to cloak their abject terror. For liberals, terrorism has succeeded, as the following story illustrates:
On March 11, 2004, Spain suffered its most horrific terrorist attack: 191 people were killed and 1,400 were injured in bombings at Madrid's railway station. The government at first blamed ETA, but soon evidence emerged that al-Qaeda was responsible. When record numbers of voters went to the polls days later, Aznar's Popular Party experienced a stinging defeat, and José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero of the Socialist Party became the new prime minister. Many Spaniards blamed Aznar's staunch support of the U.S. and the war in Iraq for making Spain an al-Qaeda target.
When you understand that Israel will soon be "wiped off the face of the map," you will understand why liberals have been so angry and accusatory towards the Jews of late. They want to be able to say: "See we told you so you stupid Jews. We told you to just submit. We told you not to mouth off to the Muslims; you should have just given them what they wanted―all the land from the Mediterranean Sea to the Red Sea, and from Syria through to Egypt.

Friday, November 25, 2011

They don't represent America. They don't represent me.

I have a job, a car, food on the table, and a roof over my head. My family benefits from all these things as much as I do. Like most people, I worry about food, shelter, my kids’ college tuition and retirement. I look for ways to save money and economize. I have debts that I pay down monthly. I also pay taxes out of every paycheck. I try to never lose sight of the fact that my job is my lifeline. If I lose my job I’m screwed. I know that living on unemployment would be both undignified as well as difficult for me and my family. I don’t want to make an enemy out of my employer. He’s paying me a fair wage for the work that I do, so that wage he pays me, is not only for my work, but also for my loyalty.

I admire the fundamental character of America—a land of immigrants, most of whom came here to make a better life and most of whom did exactly that. Americans don’t wait around for a hand-out, but when we see suffering we’re willing to offer a hand up. I’m free to tell the world what I think about whoever I want to talk about, but I realize that sometimes a wise man keeps his mouth shut in spite of that freedom. I’m free to practice whatever religion I want to, as long as others aren’t hurt by that practice. I understand that the pursuit of happiness is an inalienable right but that happiness itself is not. I have a say in local, state, and federal government, both in the leaders and the laws. I have the freedom to risk my financial well-being and become an entrepreneur if I want to, or I can continue working my safe hourly wage job. It’s up to me.

I’m not rich, but I’m not poor. I’m very grateful for the opportunities that I’ve been given. I know that there is no country better than this country. I don’t whine. I don’t cry. I don’t complain about some half-empty glass. I love America. I stand up and place my hand over my heart for the Pledge of Allegiance, and the National Anthem. There’s a whole nation full of people just like me. We understand how bad it can get and we’re grateful that it’s not nearly that bad.

I’ve been watching the behavior of the Occupy Wall Street movement, and I’ve been listening to their complaints. They don’t represent me. I don’t believe that 99% of America is a bunch of bratty kids and smelly bums begging for handouts and screaming obscenities and turning over cars and setting fires and defecating everywhere. They claim that they’re the 99% but they act like a band of feral apes who’ve escaped from the zoo. They don’t represent America. They’re not the 99%. They’re not the 1% either. They’re nothing but a stinking fart in the wind, blessedly blowing away.

Friday, November 18, 2011

The liberal mantra of economic self-destruction: raise taxes on the rich

If you forced liberals to identify just one plank of their political platform that was the most important, I believe that the great majority of liberals would say that the rich need to be taxed more. The liberals always want to raise taxes on the rich. So many Americans understand this in such a short-sighted and limited way. They look at their own personal finance and say: Okay, I'm not rich and this doesn't hurt me; so go ahead and raise taxes on the rich.

How ignorant this belief is! How foolishly short-sighted and misguided it is to believe that just because you're not rich you won't be hurt by a tax-increase on the rich. The liberals' whole philosophy turns on this one premise: Take money from the rich and give it to the poor.

Grant O. Thank you for playing the devil's advocate as I railed at the stupidity of these morons who want to raise taxes instead of cutting spending to balance the budget. The Debt Super-Committee composed of Democrats and Republicans is trying to create an agreement to balance the budget and rein in our out of control over-spending. They have a time deadline fast approaching and no-one knows whether they will be able to accomplish their objectives by that deadline, failing which causes ostensibly punishing budget cuts to automatically kick in.
"Our debt crossed the $15 trillion number yesterday," said House Speaker John Boehner. "That ought to be a giant wake-up call to the Congress that it's time to rip the Band-aid off and do what needs to be done." Republicans say they've put $300 billion in new taxes on the table. There's confusion on whether Democrats, who wanted more, accepted that offer, "We have met their offer on revenue but we have said that it has to fair to the American people," said Co-Chair, Super-Committee, Senator Patty Murray.
The Republicans have agreed to raise taxes by a substantial amount. This is a mistake of course. They probably hope that their generous move towards the left will be met by a correspondingly rightward move by the Democrats. I want to scream in frustration! Say we do raise taxes on the rich...what is the response of the wealthy going to be to this? They can increase the sale-price of their own goods and services but not by too much or people will buy foreign goods. It seems logical that they will move to cut overhead instead. The number-one expense of any business is employee expense. There are various ways to cut employee expense and the most obvious is called "lay-offs." Additionally employers can cut benefits and salaries.

What is never understood by liberals is that punitive consequences for increased productivity will result in a response which lessons punitive consequences. Whether that means less productivity, or attempts to hide productivity, or travel to a place that doesn't punish productivity, the ones to be punished won't sit peacefully and complacently taking their beatings. They'll pass on the cost of increased taxes to consumers. They'll pass on the increased price by cutting employee cost. They'll just move their operations overseas.

Worst of all for the economy is that tax increases are passed on exponentially! When consumers purchase a product they seldom consider that it has passed through a number of hands, growing in price with each subsequent transfer. The price of the product is doubled and doubled again. Thus a "tax on the rich" is doubled several times before it is passed on to Average Joe at the retail store. From the manufacturer to the wholesaler to the distribution company to the retail outlet, each business passes on its own little piece of the increased cost of doing business―courtesy of the Democrats in Washington. So the poor guy who thought that this tax on the rich wouldn't hurt him is so terribly wrong. Any increase in taxation impacts the poor disproportionately. This is how the world turns. This is how the game is played.

Maybe you think that it's okay because the government will use those taxes to help the poor. Sure! That's worked so well already! Generation after generation of poor people are still living poorly and never doing anything but holding out their empty hands for another helping of government generosity. This is a vicious cycle which only ends when the cycle is broken. Uncle Sam has been pedaling this misguided cycle of helpless apathetic dependency for more than fifty years and every year it gets worse.

Poor people demand more money. In response liberals give them more and our debt grows. Liberals raise taxes to balance the budget and in return businesses cut costs by laying off workers and increasing sales price. More poor people are created by the lay-offs and all these poor people can't buy as much with their government hand-outs because prices keep going up, so they demand more money, causing taxes to go up for less people working for more and more expensive goods and services...and the breaking point has arrived.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Infinite Economic Growth

This picture caught my eye. If you look closely you can read the sign of one of the Occupy Wall Street protestors that says: "INFINITE ECONOMIC GROWTH IS NOT POSSIBLE ON A FINITE PLANET." I don't know why it's taken me so long to understand what the OWS crowd's underlying philosophy is, but I finally get it. They think the economy is a zero sum game. If one person wins, another person must lose an equal amount. The OWS crowd believes that billionaires have grabbed up all the money in the world and are hoarding it. They think that there's only so much wealth, and if billionaires made billions then other people must have lost billions. In the eyes of Occupy Wall Street, every billionaire has created millions of victims.

Are they right? Is the wealth of the world a finite sum that doesn't change? Consider the industrial revolution. What an incredible time that must have been to be alive.
The Industrial Revolution marks a major turning point in human history; almost every aspect of daily life was influenced in some way. Most notably, average income and population began to exhibit unprecedented sustained growth. In the two centuries following 1800, the world's average per capita income increased over 10-fold, while the world's population increased over 6-fold. In the words of Nobel Prize winner Robert E. Lucas, Jr., "For the first time in history, the living standards of the masses of ordinary people have begun to undergo sustained growth ... Nothing remotely like this economic behavior has happened before".
The Industrial Revolution―practically overnight―caused the wealth of the world to grow incredibly, like Jack's Magical Beanstalk. You might wonder how a gaggle of highly-educated student-debt owing liberals in New York―and elsewhere―could have learned about an event in history like the Industrial Revolution and yet still somehow hold the opinion that the economy is a zero sum game.

Perhaps they feel that the Industrial Revolution was a one-off―a unique one-time occurrence. The invention of industrial machinery that was powered not by human sweat but by coal, gasoline, or electricity, caused a massive explosion of wealth worldwide, but how could something like that ever happen again?

It is happening. It's happening right now and it continues to happen. Industrial machinery created the wealth necessary for millions of people to go to school, to get an education, and to go to work designing the next generation of more efficient and productive machinery. This allowed the invention of the solid-state transistor made from silicon, which allowed the invention of computers and automated systems that have further expanded the wealth of the world to an almost miraculous degree. We are right now living in an amazing time. I just read about Curiousity, an SUV sized robot that will soon be launched on its mission to explore the surface of Mars. It made the news, but not the headlines. It's an incredible story in a world where the incredible has become routine.

The discovery of graphene―a substance that is 200 times stronger than steel, nearly superconducting at room temperature, and a heretofore little noticed blip on the horizon of most people―promises to be another big game changer:
Much has been made of graphene's potential. It can be used for anything from composite materials - like how carbon-fibre is used currently - to electronics. Since its properties were uncovered, more and more scientists have been keen to work on projects. About 200 companies and start-ups are now involved in research around graphene. In 2010, it was the subject of about 3,000 research papers.

IBM has created a 150 gigahertz (GHz) transistor - the quickest comparable silicon device runs at about 40 GHz. "In terms of the speed of the transistor, we currently see no intrinsic limits into how fast it can go," says Dr Yu-ming Lin, of IBM.
The economy is not a zero sum game. It hasn't been since the power of man's imagination was finally unleashed nearly two centuries ago. Infinite economic growth is not only possible, it's inevitable.

Finally, this goes out to the useless idiots in Zuccotti Park: Why don't you morons go make something useful with those pricey diplomas instead of squatting happily in your own filth and screaming like a new-born for another suck at momma's titties.

The world is neither finite, nor infinite; it's what we make of it.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

No Game Plan, No Strategy in this Drug War

We've got a river of illegal drugs flowing north across our southern border, and billions of dollars floating back the other way. Everyone knows what an incredible problem this is. Everyone knows that street drugs are the cause of most of the murders, robberies, and muggings. Everyone knows that our porous unenforced borders allow these drugs easy entry and everyone knows that these borders are controlled not by immigration enforcement, not by law enforcement, but by a consortium of drug cartels that employ an army of smugglers, button men, and enforcers. But, nobody seems to know what to do to stop this from happening.
Arizona authorities have disrupted a Mexican drug cartel's distribution network, arresting dozens of smugglers in dismantling a ring responsible for carrying more than $33 million worth of drugs through the state's western desert every month, officials said Monday.

The ring is believed be tied to the Sinaloa cartel -- Mexico's most powerful -- and responsible for smuggling more than 3.3 million pounds of marijuana, 20,000 pounds of cocaine and 10,000 pounds of heroin into the U.S. through Arizona over the past five years, according to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Their efforts in that time generated an estimated $2 billion.
Two billion in receipts over five years...I believe that qualifies Sinaloa for membership in the Fortune Five-Hundred. Ma, Quick! Shut the barn door, the cows have done run off!

There is no overarching strategy. There is little communication. There is very little intel and no counter-intel at all. I'll start with a very simple premise and you tell me if it goes ding-ding. If our own multi-billion dollar funded drug enforcement agencies have undercover agents posing as drug buyers, drug sellers, and drug smugglers, don't you imagine that a multi-billion dollar drug cartel like Sinaloa has undercover agents posing as cops? If the cops can do multistate background checks, don't you think the drug rings can too?

The War on Drugs is fool's battle because we've got everything to lose―our children―while the drug cartels have everything to win―our children. There is no strategy! We've got millions of disconnected players running millions of different plays and nobody even seems to know where the ball is.

Well, let me give you law-enforcement geniuses a little hint. First, you call a huddle. That's where everybody on your team gets together and one guy―he's called the quarterback―calls the plays. Everybody on the team has their own role to play, and this is exactly what they do. The next thing everyone does―and this is a really important part―is take their place at this thing they call a scrimmage line. In my little analogy that would be our border with Mexico. Now, here's the most important part of all: We can't win the game unless we get the ball past our own scrimmage line. So far in this piss-poor game we've been watching, the USA's offensive team has yet to take the field. The drug war starts in Mexico. That's where the goal-line is. That's where we have to take the ball. Or we lose.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

They're not Occupiers; they're Squatters!

There is a large group of angry people who are gathering together and refusing to obey the law of the land. They call their group: "Occupy Wall Street." At some point though, after settling down in the park and erecting a variety of tents and other makeshift shelters, after assigning sanitation duties and communal kitchen duties, they stopped being a protest group and started being an illegal squatter settlement.
A squatter settlement is a residential area in an urban locality inhabited by the very poor who have no access to tenured land of their own, and hence "squat" on vacant land, either private or public.
These people have been around for many years. While they may have attracted some "new blood" by cynically manipulating the jealousy of twenty-somethings who've never been forced to grow up, they're the same old group that used to camp in the parking lots at Grateful Dead concerts, or in nearby public parks. Whether you call them Deadheads or the Rainbow Family, the parallels between the Wall Street event and events like Woodstock and the Rainbow Gatherings and Lollapalooza are evident. While they may claim that they're there to raise awareness for some cause, what they're actually doing is just having a big party, getting high, trashing the place, and pretending that their decisions have no consequences. John Lennon, who perhaps best exemplifies the paradigm that is quintessential hippyness, famously asked us to Imagine.
Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people
Sharing all the world
I can imagine no possessions. In my mind I see a naked five year old boy. His belly is distended from malnutrition, and you can clearly see every bone in his emaciated body. He's digging in hardened clay and sand for a bug of some kind to eat. His stomach is filled with indigestible leaves and bark and dirt. He's almost certain to die. In a different world with different parents he might have become an Einstein, a Shakespeare, a Michelangelo, but not in this world. So, yes I can imagine no possessions.

Well, what if the whole world just stopped working? If we all just decided to become children and camp in the park and trip LSD while passing around a doobie and periodically burping up some wurble of gas that we consider profound thought, then very soon our world would become the world of the possessionless five year old I just described. Is that what you really want?

These hippies on Wall Street aren't helping anyone. Millions of people are starving to death every year. Millions more are dying because of vitamin deficiencies. It doesn't have to be this way. If these guys camping on Wall Street really wanted to help their fellow man, they'd be at work right now, earning a paycheck and chipping in a few bucks every month to fund one of the thousands of charity organizations that are working in areas where they don't have Wall Street, where they don't have public parks, where they don't have clean water or even soap.

I'll tell you the truth. I'm filled with disgust. I'm filled with indignation! I'm truly outraged at the selfish self-centered hypocrisy and willful self-delusion of these egomaniacal hippy squatters with their incessant eructations of imbecilic absurdity, exacerbated by the Lame Stream Media who constantly assault our senses with this circus of vagrants and losers.

Hope and Change, Imagine, Brotherhood of Man, Right on! Down with the Man! OKAY! I get it! You media guys can stop it now. I get it already! This is your Obama 2012 campaign, and these are your volunteer campaigners, these drug-crazed hippies who all smell like a month's worth of unwashed ass. Good luck with that.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Corruption in the foodstamp program?

Neva is a young white mother who works as a receptionist at a limousine company. She is unmarried and while her hourly wage isn't too bad, it is not nearly enough to live on at only forty hours per week. She married poorly and her deadbeat ex-husband is unemployed and looks to continue being unemployed for the foreseeable future. Daycare expenses, rent, utilities, she's really struggling. There's no way she can work another job since babysitters are even more expensive than daycares are. Having no other recourse she went down to the social security office to apply for food stamps.
I was the only white girl there. It was like that old trope where the white person walks into a bar filled with black people, laughing, dancing, and drinking, when suddenly—with a screech of needle across vinyl—the music stops and everyone is staring at the person who just doesn't belong. I didn't belong, and I felt that immediately. Heads turned and whispered into ears while eyes stared with disapproval. I saw a room filled with black woman. They all had weaves.
In case you don't know, a weave is real or synthetic hair which is tied onto existing hair. It must be redone at least monthly and while the cost varies, it's usually more than one-hundred dollars and can go as high as three-hundred.
Some were texting on their cellphones, some were watching videos on their i-phones, most were staring at me. I took a number and sat down to wait. I noticed immediately that many of these women had brought their children with them. The women and the children were wearing namebrand clothing, there was Nike and Reebok and Tommy Hilfiger on display everywhere I looked. There were expensive looking manicures, expensive weaves. It was strange. These women were obviously doing well for themselves and by listening to conversations it was obvious that I was the only one who was there for the first time. Everyone else was there to requalify.
To make a long story short, Neva was turned down. She was told she made too much money to qualify for any assistance at all. Barely making ends meet, bringing her kids to work on Saturday—she had a really easy-going boss—and steadily going deeper into debt, was not sufficient to qualify.

It makes me wonder. I wonder how well the Social Security Office checks out their applicants? I wonder how many of the millions of unwed mothers receiving benefits are actually living with the fathers of their children in the same household? I wonder how many applicants disclose the fact that they have several wage earners living in the same household? I wonder how people who are so poor that they don't even make minimum wage can afford manicures and weaves and cigarettes and i-phones?

This was several years ago. Times have gotten harder for everyone since then. I don't know where Neva is these days, though I hope she's doing better. Recently, benefits have been cut across the country as the government struggles to cut costs. They've been looking more closely at who is receiving benefits and finding ways to eliminate some of them from the roles. For instance, many states are now drug-testing food-stamp recipients. Naturally there is outrage. People want what they want and don't want to have to choose between two things that they want, like free money and illegal pharmaceuticals for instance.
In Florida, people receiving cash assistance through welfare have had to pay for their own drug tests since July, and enrollment has shrunk to its lowest levels since the start of the recession.The law, the most far-reaching in the nation, provoked a lawsuit last month from the American Civil Liberties Union, arguing that the requirement represents an unreasonable search and seizure.
The unreasonable search and seizure argument has grown so weak in recent years that police are now allowed to break down a door and storm into a private residence without possessing a search warrant. At airlines, TSA security officers are allowed to use X-Rays to thoroughly inspect your genitalia in enhanced and lurid detail. A refusal to allow this x-ray peep show will result in the humiliating manipulation and invasive fondling of your crotch. So, I think I can safely say that we're far beyond worrying whether a drug test might be an unreasonable search.

One thing seems certain: the ones on the welfare and foodstamp roles right now will move Heaven and Earth to stay there, and if that means that new applicants have a much harder road in qualifying, or even that no more new applications will ever even be accepted then so what? I'm sure those who already have that EBT card in their purse will not be losing any sleep over it. They lied and cheated the system. They were taught how to do this by their own mothers and for generations this has been the status quo.

The problem with this status quo is that it is unsustainable. This whole house of cards is due to come crashing down and the only training these welfare mothers have, is the ability to fraudulently fill out a welfare or food stamp application. What will they do when that fails? Drugs and prostitution are a possibility. Prison seems a likelihood as well. All these new restrictions on receipt of public assistance will result in millions of children flooding into orphanages and foster homes, resulting in child abuse, sexual abuse, fraudulent receipt or use of foster care expense money...but that's another story.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Unintended Consequences and our Current Economic Crisis

The following post is just a few random thoughts about our society and how its economic situation was caused by mostly good intentions that went wrong. By the way, I just finished reading The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine. By Michael Lewis. My knowledge and my opinion are therefore strongly influenced by this book―which I recommend.

If you never fed the dog begging under the table, table-scraps, the dog wouldn't beg under the table. If no one gave money to beggars, there would be no more beggars. This sounds cruel to you I suppose. So, instead, you just give some money to the beggar insuring that he'll continue to beg. Every homeless vagrant panhandling with his absurd sad story, hat in hand, is doing what he does because soft-hearted misguided chumps worry. What do they worry about? Maybe they worry that the panhandler will go hungry. Maybe they worry that other people watching might see them as some kind of stingy Scrooge type. Maybe they're trying to impress their date. Regardless of the reason, the action―giving money to the beggar―just makes sure he never does anything else.

Plenty of people are poor―more than there should be. Why are they poor? I think the root cause is gambling, and I'm not talking about casino gambling, although that has certainly caused its share of poverty. The gambling I'm talking about—the gambling that has caused more poverty than anything else—happens on Wall-Street and on the penthouse floors of skyscrapers in our biggest cities. The price of gasoline that everyone complains about is caused by gambling. But that's just the tip of the iceberg.
Before most people were even aware there was an economic crisis, investment managers abandoned failing mortgage-backed securities and looked for other lucrative investments. What they settled on was oil futures.

An oil future is simply a contract between a buyer and seller, where the buyer agrees to purchase a certain amount of a commodity―in this case oil―at a fixed price.
The housing bubble that is the central cause of the current economic crisis was caused by speculation. That this is true is the subject of much debate. However, what can't be denied is that the almost inconceivable speculation in the housing market would not have been possible were it not for a bill that President Clinton signed into law. It made it possible for banks and insurance companies to bundle and reclassify mortgages into CDO tranches. These investment "products" were an unfathomable melting pot of structured asset-backed securities, debt obligations including bonds and loans. They are composed of a portfolio of fixed-income underlying assets, as well as of bits and pieces of other CDOs. The purpose of this mortgage backed three-card-monty was to fool the rating agencies: Moody's and Standard & Poors. These agencies had little understanding of the financial instrument they were grading; very few people had any understanding of these massively complex bundles of crap. This was how a bundle of subprime mortgages could through dishonest financial shenanigans be transformed into a triple-A rated security, suitable for retirement funds to invest in.

We know what the end result has been, a massive bailout costing many billions, and along with this has been economic destruction with millions of foreclosures. The law that deregulated the financial institutions and allowed them to engage in this insanely perilous speculation was passed by William J. Clinton.
The Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act overturned much of the Glass-Steagall Act of 1933. Gramm-Leach-Bliley effectively eliminated barriers between investment banks, commercial banks and insurance companies. The idea behind keeping these institutions separate was to prevent conflicts of interest when evaluating risk. The lack of these barriers is blamed for some of the rampant speculation in the housing market.
The cause of everything bad, our current economic crisis, every social ill, from the unwinnable drug war to the hundreds of thousands of homeless people, all of it can be laid at the feet of an unending series of horrible unintended consequences. Looking back it's easy to see that nobody understood that once we started down the quick and easy path it would forever dominate America's destiny, and would doom us to eventual and ineluctable oblivion as each temporary problem was patched up with a jerry-rigged fix, creating the permanent problem of crumbling patches holding together our corroding society.

If you can, for just a second, picture a country grandma from the Ozark Mountains or an eight-year-old from the projects suddenly placed behind the wheel of a 747, with no training and no friendly advice from a nearby tower, then you begin to understand why we're now where we are and in the condition that we're in. Nobody had the slightest idea of what the hell they were doing. We put an idiot in the cockpit and he's just grinning away, pushing buttons, turning knobs and flippling levers. Buckle your seatbelts ladies and gentlemen. Put your tray-tables in their upright positions. This landing might be a little bumpy.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

What is Social Security?

Those campaigning against Rick Perry―the other Republican Presidential Candidates and the Main Stream Media―are making the case that Rick Perry made a huge blunder by calling Social Security a Ponzi scheme. You had to notice the blizzard of editorials disguised as headline news snarkily scoffing at the stupid hick from Texas who called Social Security a Ponzi Scheme and the incessant drum beat from economists, politicians, and media figures demanding that Rick Perry must admit he was wrong when he called it that.

If Social Security is not a Ponzi scheme, what is it?

Some might claim that Social Security is essentially an insurance program, but they must answer this question: Is Social Security a financially sound business model based on rational principles that allow private sector insurance companies to make a profit? The answer is of course a resounding and scornful: "Hell No!"

Insurance companies generate profits in two ways, through underwriting―receiving more money in premiums than they pay out in claims―and through investment income. The difficulty inherent in underwriting is simply that while it is easy to estimate income derived through premium payments, it is very difficult to predict expenses paid out as claims. Insurance companies are essentially casinos. They make predictions of estimated loss through claims based on actuarial science, and these predictions in general have proven reasonably accurate over the years. I.E. in general the house wins.

In contrast, Social Security―including Medicare―is not based on actuarial science. Its premiums are not based on the actuarial science of risk, but on populist notions of the public welfare and the common good. All the Social Security income generated over the years has already been spent and there is not enough revenue coming in to pay the claims going out. If this program were a private sector company, it would have already had to file bankruptcy. Right now it is propped up solely by borrowing money from an entire world of starry-eyed investors foolishly enchanted by the full faith and credit of this ancient and decaying Republic.

If Social Security is not an insurance program, what is it?

Some might claim that Social Security is essentially a pension fund. Those who do would be hard pressed to answer this question: If Social Security is a pension fund, then where is the fund? A pension fund typically uses member payments to invest in a wide variety of income generating investment vehicles in order to ensure against market downturns. In contrast, Social Security has already spent all the investment capital it ever received, so there is nothing left to invest with. This is a fund without a fund, also known as nothing at all.

If Social Security is not a pension fund, then what is it?

Rick Perry is not the only one claiming that Social Security is a Ponzi scheme, just the most famous. To those who are outraged at this appellation I must ask this question: What is a Ponzi scheme?
A Ponzi scheme is a fraudulent investment operation because it pays returns to separate investors, not from any actual profit earned by the organization, but from their own money or money paid by subsequent investors. The Ponzi scheme usually entices new investors by offering returns other investments cannot guarantee, in the form of short-term returns that are either abnormally high or unusually consistent. The perpetuation of the returns that a Ponzi scheme advertises and pays requires an ever-increasing flow of money from investors to keep the scheme going. The system is destined to collapse because the earnings, if any, are less than the payments to investors.
  1. Pays Social Security recipients with the money of subsequent workers and their employers...check
  2. Forces workers and their employers to invest and promises returns that are unusually consistent...check
  3. Requires an ever-increasing flow of money from workers and their employers to keep the scheme going...check
  4. The system is destined to collapse because the earnings, if any, are less than the payments to retirees...check

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Proof the President is no Genius

My first read through opinion on Breaking the war mentality, by Barack Hussein Obama, 1983:

Honestly, I have a already formed a depressingly low opinion of this President's intellectual capacity. He is in my opinion an Affirmative Action President. If you are able to continue reading past my openly dismissive and patronizing bias, then I believe you will discover that you and I share similar grave apprehensions concerning this wholly unqualified executive.

This odd and disjointed article truly is the genuine article. Later works attributed to be solely the creative genius of our President must inevitably fall victim to the infinitely rational disbelief of a discerning reader who cannot reconcile "Dreams of My Father" with the lost rambling and discursive jumble of malapropisms and bizarre thesaurus choices that the young Obama tossed helter-skelter into this litany of unintelligible idiocy. I held my nose and read through the entire disjointed linguistic morass to the bitter end. Frankly, on a one-time read through I got the impression that it was mostly about the student groups on the Columbia University Campus who were at the time politically active in protesting the USA's nuclear weapons program, but the wandering topic kept changing, altering, skipping, and time-traveling until at the end I'm not at all sure what is was that Barack Hussein Obama was trying to tell me.
Most students at Columbia do not have first hand knowledge of war. Military violence has been a vicarious experience, channeled into our minds through television, film, and print.
The opening paragraph is clumsy and inaccurate. I'm no Shakespeare mind you, but vicarious? really? Another odd choice is the word "knowledge." Knowledge is knowledge. If it weren't knowledge it would be myth or fallacy or some other word that meant something other than knowledge. Do you suppose he meant experience? Armchair quarterbacking suggests simplifying it, yet at the same time spending a few moments trying to empathize with the warrior on his battlefield. The same humdrum thought process in unbroken English might sound slightly more interesting had the author spent only a few minutes empathizing with the soldiers he writes about:
How very few students at Columbia University have experienced the soul-draining terror of crouching in a muddy trench while the mindnumbing thunder of artillery explodes everywhere around them. The typical Columbia University student is completely unable to comprehend the horror and loneliness soldiers face when the friends they relied on, trusted to guard their back, and finally grew to love as brothers, fell, one by one by one. At some impossibly indefinable point these soldiers lost the common and mundane threads that tied them together with the rest of humanity. How can some young petted and groomed college puppy with no connection at all to this unique brotherhood forged in the hell-fire of the battlefield have any understanding of what the word "war" even means? The outrageous audacity of some little college boy even expressing his sophomoric opinion threatens to draw the deadly raptor's gaze. It's unwise in the extreme for foolish children to run their mouths, lest they unthinkingly invite the unremitting savagery of killers born in the furious crucible of war.
The first sentence of Obama's essay was the best one. It just gets worse from there. He has no idea himself what he's trying to say. Paragraph after paragraph of pointless rambling about nothing. I could almost accept this sorry excuse of an essay from a lackluster highschool sophomore, but this is supposed to be our President. The LSM is calling this guy the smartest president we've ever had. I disrespectfully and thoroughly disagree!

Monday, September 5, 2011

Fisking Talibah Chikwendu on her Rick Perry Hit Piece

At the top of the Google news page I read a hit piece against Rick Perry by an unabashedly biased Talibah Chikwendu. The title of this editorial: Texas Blacks Advise Looking at Rick Perry

Now you may think me shallow, but the name of the author "Talibah Chikwendu," reminds me of an Islamic terrorist armed with a Lightsaber. So starting from my admittedly less-than-objective perspective, I read a dishonest and biased sampling of simple-minded anecdotes by a linguistically challenged cross-section of Texas. There were quite a few so I decided to bullet point them for ease of reading.
  1. "I just want America to wake up and look at the true picture, He's [Rick Perry] talking out both sides of his neck."
    So the "true picture" according to Karen Hasan, a black Texas postal worker, is that Rick Perry has two holes in the sides of his neck that he can talk out of. There has been non-stop media coverage of Governor Perry since he threw his hat in the ring; you'd think we'd all have seen evidence of this astonishing physiological anomaly by now.
  2. "I haven't seen him try to create any jobs for people or anything, I don't think he's done anything that's worked out well for Texas." The kind of plum jobs Regina Holley wants Governor Perry to create, are the kind that are mostly handed out to unqualified affirmative action bureaucrats who themselves create nothing but reams of paperwork and more hurdles designed to strangle the private sector and redistribute wealth from the hard-working to the hardly-working. So, thank you governor Perry for not "creating" more government jobs.
  3. "Texas has the lowest average hourly income of any state in the United States other than Mississippi. I think people need to understand the type of jobs being created." Charles Dorsey seems certain of his facts. Nevertheless, I looked it up myself. I checked average hourly wage at the Bureau of Labor Statistics. I didn't check every state, just enough to know that Charles Dorsey is talking out of both sides of his neck.
    TX $20.30/hour
    TN $18.43/hour
    NV $19.82/hour
    UT $19.29/hour
    ID $18.56/hour
    MS $16.31.hour
  4. Ronni Bowman, student at the Thurgood Marshall School of Law, complained about the large number of Texas residents without health insurance.
    Hmmm, isn't there someone running for president with a state run health insurance albatross hanging obscenely around their neck? Wait, isn't there some national health insurance program by some incumbent President that everyone who already has health insurance absolutely loathes?
  5. "Unfortunately, the people of Texas cannot even get his calendar for last month or months before. One of the things that really bothers me is that the guy is so secretive about what he's doing that every seven days all of his emails are purged. So people don't really know what he is doing and what he has done. He is one of the biggest phonies I have ever seen." Hey, Charles Dorsey, since your hourly wage averages by state were so completely off-target, I wonder how much belief we should give to you concerning Rick Perry's transparency?
  6. "He has a reputation for being all fluff. Everything is ceremonial." George Powell, fifteen year black Texas resident also said this about Governor Perry's day of prayer and fasting: "Clearly it was just to jumpstart his campaign." Clearly George Powell also has two loud talk holes in his neck, since on the basis of absolutely no evidence at all about somebody he doesn't even know, he proclaims his disbelief that Governor Perry believes in any religion and only held the Prayer day for political reasons.
  7. "That's why I'm saying he's a phony. Up until recently, Rick Perry has not been a very religious person. In fact, if you ask his church, he's only tithed like $98 for the whole year. But now, all of a sudden, he's become this religious person." More unverified claims from the Energizer Bunny of neck talking, Charles Dorsey, who now claims to know the exact amount of money Rick Perry has donated to his church, and this while nonetheless also claiming that Rick Perry is "so secretive that his emails are purged every seven days." Charles Dorsey sure talks like he knows the score. Who is this "in-the-know" Texan? It sure doesn't look like Miss Taliban Macewindu is going to tell us. I'm amazed that Taliban has spent one half of her hit piece quoting this [one] guy Charles Dorsey from Texas, and she hasn't even told us how he knows so very much.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Obama's Obsessive Focus on Jobs Ignores Grim Reality

The unemployment rate is one tiny little data point in the monstrously complex system we call the Economy. You want the truth? I'll spell it out for you. The problem is not just that too many people are unemployed. It's important for people looking for work to have a job―yes there are too many people without jobs―but even if you gave all fourteen million unemployed people who are actively looking for work a job, you'd still see an economy languishing and sputtering like a truck fueled by sub-prime gasoline that is too watered-down by quantitative easing to drive our economic pistons very forcefully.

The problem is not just that too many people with jobs are living paycheck to paycheck because of inflation. The cost of oil has affected the cost of everything. It directly affects the cost of electricity and natural gas. It has inflated the cost of farming, shipping, building, manufacturing, and the cost of every little thing that we have to purchase in the day-to-day process of living as Americans want to live: with heating for cold times and air-conditioning for hot times, with lights, refrigerators and Mobile Phone service, cable TV service and Internet. It even increases the price we pay for all that insurance. We need home and renter's insurance, health insurance, dental insurance, car insurance, and life insurance, to name a few. Insurance companies are affected by inflationary pressure just like we are, and they raise our rates accordingly.

The problem is mostly lack of confidence; it is lack of trust in a leader who doesn't lead but instead follows a populist chimera of impossible to achieve wealth and prosperity for everyone. This heat-mirage in the distance that our bewildered leader stumbles towards is a complex gestalt. It is illusion crafted from inane and misleading polls which are then interpreted by shallow and dishonest pollsters. It is magnified through the warped lens of mainstream media coverage and agenda driven kid-glove wearing journalists who carefully guide our leader with light-weight gently leading questions. This beguiling will-o'-the-wisp beckoning Obama on into an economic quagmire is speckled with lies and misunderstanding and ignorance. It sparkles with affirmative action policies and wealth redistribution schemes and the occasional ugly gleam of racism on full display by such demagogic figures as Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson and Jeremiah Wright. It is a cacophony of complaining voices demanding a bigger share of other people's money.
It is a tale, told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.

So, is it any wonder that investors won't invest? Should there be surprise that factories neglect to retool or wait to upgrade or expand? Are we supposed to be shocked that new start-ups just aren't starting up? Obama's focus on jobs is not enough to solve the economic problem. Lowering taxes is not enough to solve the problem. From the richest corporation like Exxon-Mobile down to the tiniest one-man show, they are all sitting this dance out. They are all waiting to see what Obama and his cronies are going to do next. They aren't going to make any risky moves until they have a clear indication that the economy is on the mend. And so, a monstrous pile of cash just sits on the sidelines. There is no confidence. It's too bad the President of the United States can't be recalled by the People. How's that's for a Constitutional amendment?

Some of us pay taxes. Not many of us; less than one in three. The population of the USA right now is 312,119,976. Only two-hundred-forty million of those are old enough to be considered part of the work force. As of July 2011, only one-hundred-thirty-nine million were actively employed. Of that number only about 53% will actually end up paying taxes. That's seventy-nine million or just 25% of the population. The rest of America just bitches and whines about how unfairly the government treats them, and how they can't live high on the hog when they're living on the government's dime.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Can Government Spending Stimulate the Economy?

I think this is the trillion dollar question. Unquestionably in the past government spending has helped stimulate the economy. So the answer is yes. But wait...this question is more complicated than that. Perhaps a better question is...Can Government spending always stimulate the economy?

I think it's fair to say that the "economy" is an almost infinitely complex witches' brew of a million different discrete ingredients. These separate ingredients together create a potion that is greater or more powerful that the sum of its parts. There is one ingredient however that is the most powerful of all, and that is belief. When there is little belief or faith in the economy investing slows. When there is no faith in the economy people don't spend their money. When every bet is a guaranteed loser, people just don't bet...Unless they're worth billions, like Warren Buffet for instance.

When you get to the level of extreme wealth that someone like Warren Buffet has, rational explanations just go out the window. Here is someone who says he wants to pay more taxes. We all heard him say it. Is that rational? Either he's fallen victim to age induced dementia, or he's playing a deeper game. He's too smart a businessman to toss away five billion on a longshot. I just don't buy that explanation.

Warren Buffet invested in a failing bank and perhaps we're supposed to believe that, since he's always been fairly successful as an investor, this huge investment proves that this bank will make a big comeback. Maybe, we're even supposed to believe that all the banks and the economy itself are about to make a miraculous recovery... I call shenanigans! Where's the SEC on this? It doesn't make sense and I suspect some shady behind the scenes double dealing. Bank of America is a publicly traded stock and therefore must follow strict rules of disclosure. One thing is certain, Warren is privy to inside information and he's using that information—which the public doesn't know—to make investment decisions which could garner him profits that he would otherwise be unable to garner. Yes, I said it. Something really smells about this deal.

I've always said that investing isn't fair. Yes, we have the SEC, but where was the SEC when the Dow Jones dropped 512 points the day before Standard & Poor's downgraded America's credit rating? Martha Stewart was one of the few people who has ever been prosecuted for insider trading, and I gather she was targeted because of who she isn't rather than who she is.

There's some kind of underground rumor mill that the run-of-the-mill American Public is not privy to. I don't know how it works but I know it exists because first the market reacts, and then after the market reacts, the news is finally broadcast. It's always been shenanigans and more shenanigans. You can look at case after case after case of stocks dropping just prior to bad news, or rising prior to good. How does this happen?

Wait, I've gotten off-topic. So, the government spends money to stimulate the economy. Everyone disagrees on how this money should be spent but they all agree it should be spent somehow. We've run up trillions more debt and devalued our currency and what have we gotten? Nothing. It's not working because there is no belief that the economy is going to improve. Across the world countries are failing, banks are failing, economies are failing. Who's going to invest in something that's obviously failing?

If I'm an investor and it appears as though the only one spending money is Uncle Sam, and Uncle Sam is fifteen trillion in debt and still spending like there's no tomorrow, I have to wonder whether there will be a tomorrow. Is this government spending sustainable? Absolutely not. What's going on here? It's like Uncle Sam is a terminal cancer patient completing a few more items on some asinine bucket list.

There is no belief. There is no confidence that anything is going to get better, ever. People are waiting on the sidelines buying gold or anything they think can hold value in these incredibly uncertain times. We are all very uncertain, aren't we? Why would anyone invest billions in such an uncertain time as this? Hey Warren, what have you been told that the rest of us haven't?

Hello SEC, are you there?

Sunday, August 28, 2011

We are Too Dependant on Technology Medicine and Debt

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
—William Butler Yeats (1865-1939)
A thousand referents circle endlessly in my head. I'm reading the Stand by Stephen King. I'm also reading The Law of Nines by Terry Goodkind. Finally, I'm reading After America Get Ready For Armageddon by Mark Steyn. These three books together are a perfect storm of end of the world fiction combined with end of the world fact.

Terry Goodkind, in The Law of Nines, has an excellent exposition of what would happen if for some reason our technology suddenly failed. If phones stopped working, if cars wouldn't start, if cash registers wouldn't ring up purchases and even if they did debit cards wouldn't work, if planes fell out of the sky, if life prolonging medical appliances of every stripe failed, what would we do? What would we do in the deafening silence of no radio, no television, no internet? I can make a few guesses: riots outside of grocery stores for a start, followed by looting on a scale never before imagined. Fires would start. Fires always start in large-scale riots, because in every crowd there's a pyromaniac looking for his big chance to burn the world. In a world suddenly stripped of working fire-engines or even a way to contact the fire department, burning the world is guaranteed.

Cities would be deathtraps and hundreds of millions would die. Not right away, of course. I'm not talking about a short-term blackout where guys with radios and radio stations with emergency generators would keep the city informed of developments to getting the electricity back on. Don't mistake me. If loss of almost every benefit of technology occurred and it lasted for an indeterminable time, perhaps until every piece of damaged technology was replaced or repaired with new undamaged circuit boards, the loss of life would be unimaginable.

Not many people understand how fragile our society has become. It is a house of cards built upon the sand, and it cannot hold. An EMT pulse is one method of completely destroying every technological artifact within its range. This EMP pulse could be delivered deliberately by a nuclear airburst, or it could arrive as the likely result of a supersized solar storm.

Electromagnetic pulses (EMP) are oversized outbursts of atmospheric electricity. Whether powered by geomagnetic storms or by nuclear blasts, their resultant intense magnetic fields can induce ground currents strong enough to burn out power lines and electrical equipment across state lines.

Fear is evident. With the sun's 11-year solar cycle ramping up for its stormy maximum in 2012, and nuclear concerns swirling about Iran and North Korea, a drumbeat of reports and blue-ribbon panels center on electromagnetic pulse scenarios.

In The Stand, we have an instruction manual for managing the end of the world. Page after page after page of horrifyingly detailed instructions for deceiving the citizens of the world about the string of disaster and destruction they are scarcely aware is happening all around them. Here's why The Stand is such a plausible story: Every year we hear about some new flu, whether swine or avian, or SARS, or perhaps something yet unknown. Every year the world is being conditioned by these overblown stories. Every year it's the next big superflu, and every year it turns out to be just another plain old flu. The boy keeps crying wolf over and over and eventually we just ignore these sensational stories that don't fit our world view that we are invincible.

A plague of Smallpox would kill billions. This disease killed billions in the past and ironically it is Smallpox that was the weapon of choice carried by European colonists as they took America from the natives who'd lived there. We no longer even vaccinate against this disease that is thought by many to be for all practical purposes, extinct. We don't have the knowledge to treat those who have it anymore, nor the natural defenses within our own bodies to fight against it. It doesn't have to be Smallpox though. A regular mutation of the common flu can sometimes have incredibly deadly consequences:
The 1918 flu pandemic (the Spanish Flu) was an influenza pandemic. It was an unusually severe and deadly pandemic that spread across the world. Historical and epidemiological data are inadequate to identify the geographic origin. Most victims were healthy young adults, in contrast to most influenza outbreaks which predominantly affect juvenile, elderly, or weakened patients. The pandemic lasted from June 1918 to December 1920, spreading even to the Arctic and remote Pacific islands. Between 50 and 100 million died, making it one of the deadliest natural disasters in human history.

Tissue samples from frozen victims were used to reproduce the virus for study. This research concluded, among other things, that the virus kills through a cytokine storm (overreaction of the body's immune system), which perhaps explains its unusually severe nature and the concentrated age profile of its victims. The strong immune system reactions of young adults ravaged the body, whereas those of the weaker immune systems of children and middle-aged adults resulted in fewer deaths.

A baited banker thus desponds,
From his own hand foresees his fall,
They have his soul, who have his bonds;
'Tis like the writing on the wall.
—Jonathan Swift
The book: After America Get Ready for Armageddon identifies our next world threat, and it's not fanatical Muslims by the way. China holds more than two trillion dollars of our national debt, mostly in treasury bonds.
The Eisenhower Administration saw British occupation of the Suez Canal Zone as antagonizing other Middle East governments and undermining broader American interests in the Middle East. It therefore demanded that the British withdraw. Knowing that British finances were weak, it threatened to sell its holdings of British government securities. It indicated that it would not allow the British to prop up their exchange rate with a loan from the International Monetary Fund. Fearful of a currency collapse and sharply higher interest rates, the British had no choice but to agree.
Now China holds the same leverage over America that we held over England. Keep in mind though that America and England share a common heritage, a common language, a common system of jurisprudence. England is our sibling and while siblings may squabble from time to time, they will quickly join together whenever one or the other is threatened, yet we were willing to threaten to destroy the British economy merely to advance a minor geopolitical objective.

Contrast this circumstance with China. The terrible threat that China holds over us cannot be overstated. China is alien to us in every sense of the word, sharing a different culture, a different language, even a completely different alphabet. They are communists with so little respect for life that the world watched as a Chinese tank rolled over a Chinese protester like he was nothing but a squishy dirt clod. They have a one child per couple law and this has had the unintended consequence of creating a nation with a billion excess men and very few women. War is the traditional result when a nation has excess men.
China has engaged in widespread intellectual property theft, as well as industrial espionage against America. It has also waged a cyberwar against America with multiple hacks of America's military and commercial computer systems. It has blinded U.S. satellites with lasers and it has assisted Teheran with its nuclear program and actively cooperated in a growing worldwide nuclear black market.
If you think China is our friend or even friendly, then you haven't been paying attention. They are coming and it's only a matter of time. I suspect that the buildup to any invasion of American territory would be commenced by a concerted cyberattack that will cripple our cybernetwork and this will be followed by selling off two trillion in T-Bills causing a run on the bank. These acts of war will cause massive economic damage to our already faltering economy.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Push Back or Become a Puppet.

One day riding on the school bus, a boy sat down next to me and let his knees sprawl apart. His leg was touching mine. Uncomfortable about this, I moved my leg further in towards the window. Can you guess what he did then? He spread his knees apart even further. Now what I remember most about this was that at first it was unconscious behavior on my part. I didn’t think to myself: he’s pressing his leg against mine so I must move my leg. No, it happened that I moved my leg without considering it at all. Then it happened again. And again. At some point I became aware of the fact that both my knees were pressed together against the wall of the bus. I had literally been backed against a wall without even realizing it.

Yes, boys and girls there is a moral to this story. Realizing what had happened to me, I began pushing back. Whenever the other boy's leg gave me the slightest room I took back my inch. And I did it again. And again. At some point we’d reached a halfway point and I never pushed past it. Why not push past? Why not take the entire seat like my neighbor had tried to do? Because I’m not an asshole like this kid was.

This brings me to the moral of my story. As you go along in your adult life, you are going to run into the kind of person who wants to push you against a wall. They’re going to try and push more work onto you and off of themselves. They’re going to make deals that have no cost to themselves but cause great difficulty and time lost to you, while you are performing some absurd exercise for the ostensible benefit of “the client.” The reality of this elusive benefit to “the client,” is that it is often nothing more than make-work. It is yet another checkmark on someone’s “Let’s Push Them Against The Wall” checklist.

Now, some of you may accuse me of being cynical. Well, perhaps I am. I really sometimes wish I were one of those popular smiling friendly types, like the ones who sell cars for instance. I could go around working on points for style with my customers, like the sudden look in the eye and the easy smile. And if a client wanted something silly and pointless that I would never ever agree to do myself, I would just smile and nod, okay! “Of course sir, the customer is always right.” That would be my motto. After that, I would just hand-off the insane directive to the peons and the serfs sitting in their squalid little accounting cubicles, typing their little serf hearts out. And if for some reason they became angry and claimed that the request of the client was asinine, pointless, and certifiably insane, well then, I would merely point out that it was what the customer wanted.

No logical argument of sanity or common-sense would sway me from my argument that if, for instance the customer wanted his invoice hand-illustrated like the ancient Catholic monks once did when hand copying pages from the Bible, then accounting would get it done, with crayons or paints or stencils or whatever they’ve got, by cracky. Or perhaps if the customer wanted his receipt before he’d even decided what to order. Well, by damn, he’d get it! The serfs in accounting would just have to get out their Ouija Boards or their Tarot Cards or their Astrological Charts or whatever it is that they have down there in their little calculator and computer cluttered holes, and by damn get me what the customer had asked for. Sometimes I wish I were that kind of person, but like I said, I’m not an asshole.

You can choose to be a nice guy. You can choose to be agreeable. You can be a leaf blown around by the whisper of a breeze if that’s what you really want to be. But remember, that if once you start down the dark and easy path of appeasement and expediency, forever will it dominate your destiny. It’s hard to get yourself turned around once you’re against the wall. Some people spend their days on the job, working through a laundry list of asinine and pointless tasks that make no sense to anyone. Other people—mean and spiteful people—pushed them up against this wall of futility with nonsense phrases like “It’s what the customer wants.” Some people never push back because they know that after all the arguing is done, they’ll still have to do it anyway. Well, so what? Make them pay a little bit for pushing their inconsequential exercises in futility onto you. If you make it difficult enough for assholes to have their way, maybe they’ll think twice before eagerly nodding yes to the foolish request of the client. Expediency may save you a little time in the short run, but it makes you nothing more than a puppet in the long run. So, if you have a speck of self-respect, push back!