Sunday, January 30, 2011

First Tunisia then Egypt who's next?

This is the image that started it all. Sorry if it offends you.

How did all this happen in such a short period of time one might ask and what was the motivation? A symbol of human desperation occurred in Tunisia about two weeks ago in mid January. A 26 year old college graduate Mohamed Bouazizi was selling produce on the street. Police came and checked his permit. When he couldn't produce one they confiscated all of his products. In total desperation he poured gasoline on himself and lit himself on fire. When that story hit the media it started another fire resulting in the downfall of the Tunisian government.
In Cairo on January 17th Abdou Abdel-Monaam Hamadah, a 48-year-old owner of a small restaurant from Qantara wanting to contact his member of parliament was refused access by security. He pulled a bottle of gasoline from his pocket dosed himself and lit himself on fire.

But this is only part of the story for the middle east. We might have known a bit about the U.S. rendering people to Egypt to be tortured and interrogated, but we failed to look at the rest of the conditions in the country. Egypt has an unemployment rate of around 40%. And the nearly half of the population that does work make at or below the poverty level. Some for as little as $2 per day. In the cheapest countries that's not enough to buy food to survive. Is it any wonder they've lost their fear of authority. When all hope is gone what's the worst that could happen to me I'm sure they are thinking.
Aside from years of oppression, torture and no work there are other factors that lead to this. The bulk of Egypts' income had come from agriculture but with a growing population and a shift to internet and telecom. But something happened in 2005 that really changed the landscape. That year the government lowered the corporate tax rate from 40% to 20%. Those at the top saw record profits and bonuses but for most money didn't trickle down to the rest. Does this sound familiar?

That's not all folks. Don't leave now because the story is not over yet.

The desperation is spilling over to other countries:
ALGIERS — A third Algerian has died from self-immolation, the daily al Watan reported, while another tried to set himself alight Sunday, adding to a grim tally of Tunisia-inspired acts.

A 26-year-old jobless and homeless man died at dawn Saturday in a hospital in the eastern city of Constantine.

There has been in the last month 10 such people to set themselves on fire out of sheer desperation.
If you follow world events here's something to keep a eye on as time goes by that would by PIIGS. Standing for Portugal, Iceland, Ireland, Greece and Spain. These are the countries in financial trouble. And Ireland it's important to note did the same thing as Egypt by lowering its' corporate taxes. Now the U.S. wants to do the same? It's also important to note that Japan was in a similar economic situation in the late 1980s. It took them over ten years to dig their way out. Their real estate had inflated to the point where a two bedroom condo in Tokyo went for $2 million at that time. The government was forced to lower interest rates and hold them there for quite some time. But if you think our debt is bad Japan's debt is 200% of it GDP. By comparison the U.S. debt is around 100%.
What I'm seeing in all this are events repeating themselves. Economies moving from manufacturing bases of producing goods to the service industries that sell paper. With the efficiencies of computers these days it doesn't take an army of workers for a corporation to make massive profits. Even stock trades can be automated with lightning fast speed. Super computers do that in fractions of a second. Have humans become obsolete? Even our production methods require fewer and fewer people. What once took a farmer a whole day to accomplish can now be done in a few minutes with mammoth farm machines. With most of our factories closed (42000 in ten years) and jobs shipped overseas there's been nothing to replace that void. Maybe we'll be seeing some of the same events happening here if things don't turn around soon only for us it will be a gray revolution as most of the unemployed here are 50+.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Wow how times have changed

NBC lost its' bird.

Fifty years ago we saw the above image although it was for most of us in black and white. Back then you had to wait for the TV to "warm up". It took two to three minutes for the electricity to fire up the tubes and a picture and sound would slowly appear. And if you remember that you're about as old as dirt now. Back then there were no live feeds from Europe. News from that part of the world came from newsreels captured by an army of film reporters covering the globe. All of their footage had to be processed and shipped air mail back here.
And now everything is instantaneous. You can get the latest views from some very obscure places. It's really rather neat to get the experiences of an event as it's unfolding. And we can give our own feedback and comments. But then again there is a drawback to the process. There are those who like nothing better than slap graffiti on the comments page and ruin the experience for the rest of us. Maybe there needs to be a split in comments. One for serious objective dialogue and another for the snarky rants and flaming rhetoric that we know happens. Just need to think of a name for such a place. The rant room? The psycho shack?

It's kind of hard to watch the latest happenings in Egypt. While I feel empathy for what they are going through the continuous images tends to desensitize one to the violence. Much like watching the destruction from a tornado or hurricane after a while there's a loss of feeling. That should not be, because we hope for the same empathy when we are hit with a bad situation.

I've been watching Al Jazeera for a few minutes for a view from the streets but if you want to hear from the people themselves here's a link to a reporter and his friends who are experiencing it first hand:

the arabist

Side note; As ugly and violent as things may appear there are a few good things happening there. This could be a foreshadowing of what could happen here. I hope I'm wrong.

Hey and no stupid comments this time around please. Direct those to the other side where they'd be appreciated. That is until I can set up a rant rumpus room for the children.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Must be Friday

What was the tipping point? What was the final straw? For my feline friends here it was lack of cheeseburgers. In other countries it was a stolen election or an assassination or lack of jobs. Idol hands are the devils' workshop you know. Rampant greed with few getting it all and above all no compassion. Maybe it was all headed in this direction and we just didn't see it coming. There were the good years when values went to the clouds and money flowed like a wild river, but not for all. Some had to endure the whims of a dictator and watch silently as he plundered the countrys' wealth. Truth will set you free but be careful what you wish for you just might get it and not like what you see. And now that the shouting has stopped and the flames are almost out it's time to pick up the pieces and make do with what's left. Yes, I know it's not over by a long shot, but I only outline the process. It seems a part of nature as predictable as the setting sun. You could almost set your watch to it. Famine and pestilence death and destruction ignorance and greed grace the pages of history every hundred years or so. And we always fall for the lie of denial, oh that was in the dark ages we're not like that now. But are we? We think nothing of killing another on this planet after all they're a member of (..........). We kill them and cage them and wonder who's next and does it ever stop? A fool's errand would be Shakespeare's reply.
We'd love nothing more than to see life on an even keel but I know that will never happen. Maybe that's just one of the very core items of living on this planet. Call it part of the nature of man. But then how boring would that be if there were no ups or downs ever? I guess there really is a time for all things. And I know that my feline friends will eventually be let out of that cage only to start all over again.

Bank fails: There were four this week in various states.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Ya can't have your cake and eat it too.

Taxes or services?

Seems I've hit a small pocket that's newsworthy when I posted about tax and spending problems in the deep south. Those at the lower end of the spectrum are not the only ones facing difficult situations. Even the richie rich have their problems and it doesn't involve which choice of which wine to have for dinner either. The folks out on Long Island (that'd be Nassau County) are having their financial decisions taken over by state government. Somebody forgot to tell them that taxes actually pay for real things like police, firefighters, and of yes even retired county commissioners. But you know with that crowd, anything to do with taxes is evil and must be put in its' place. They rant and rave about what it costs to have public services. Those evil unions just make things so expensive you know. All the while they fail to realize what it costs for the average joe to live there. With average property taxes running $11,000 per year (some of the highest in the nation) is it any wonder a cop or fireman makes what we could only dream about making? And you sure wouldn't want your police living off island and having to commute during an emergency. But nobody thinks of those little details. Interestingly enough the Canadians are looking into addressing just this very problem, They realize that in places like Vancouver, BC most of the police and firemen don't live in the city and in the event of an earthquake there would be little response should roads become impassable.

None of this seems to matter to the "something for nothing crowd" who will try and fight the issue in court. But it won't matter from a legal standpoint because as much as you'd like you can't change facts no matter how much political spin you put on it.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Cut off your nose to spite your face

They played by all the rules and got nothing.

I'm seeing a very ugly pattern rearing it's head in this country. Maybe I wasn't looking closely enough or just distracted by the latest natural disaster. I like to tune into the latest news but not from our Lame Stream Media. Who'd watch that unless your interests are the latest dancer to trip on Dancing With The Stars. No I speak of our friends to the North the Canadians. Unlike our obsessions with the cost of a Bieber haircut the Canucks (at least from what I see) can look past their own navels and across their own borders and seas. This is much like the news of 30 or 40 years ago before corporate America became the overlords of the nightly. I am seeing a slant creeping into the mix but that's another story.
Canadian news has never been one to hang out in their own backyards reporting on nothing but hockey even thought it is a national obsession. No they like to jaunt around the globe and sniff out stories that might only get a ten second blurb near the end of one of our network nightlys. A trip to Pritchard, Alabama (What business does a Canadian have in Alabama? We don't even pay attention to Alabama) gave a very revealing glimpse into the future for many a small city in this land. A small city facing financial shortfalls was forced to stop paying its' retired city workers. Now I don't know the exact particulars of where the money went. It may have been invested in some complex hedge fund or maybe their plan was never fully funded a fact that was never revealed. But to add insult to injury the Mayor and all his staff just voted themselves a 50% raise. Being in the heart of blood red republican country here the retirees sit with no income. A woman stood up before the city counsel meeting and dared speak of a tax increase. Out of the question was the general response! The retired workers have hired an attorney to try and get their money but with not much hope.
All of this got me to thinking about the perfect exit plan. Sell everything you have then borrow to the max, on all home loans, credit cards and such then leave the country. Let some other slob worry about the balance sheet and the write offs. This is exactly what Wall Street did to us and we were dumb enough to lend them more money. What are they doing with the money other than giving themselves nice bonuses? The exact same things that got us into the mess in the first place, re-leveraging, is going on again. What better way to make a fortune than selling promises to suckers then wagering on the outcome especially when you know where the chips will fall?
What cities and small towns fail to realize is that there is no free lunch. They can't continue to underfund or not fund their obligations and expect something in return. And rather than take precious funds set aside for grandma and grandpa's retirement and gamble it away in investments that are beyond comprehension it would be more prudent to invest it locally where they could keep an eye on it.
They are now experiencing the results of their own conservatism. When they keep cutting the funding for government programs it bore the fruit of their own cheapness. Now they face the lack of retirement, the lack of money to repair the roads and a crumbling business base that's failing or leaving town. With that comes lower tax revenues and lower home values that leads to even less money for city coffers. At this point I don't think they could borrow the money because with their current financial position no bank would touch them without a guarantee of payback and that would mean raising taxes.
The Mayors' solution is to rob Peter to pay Paul. He plans to take the money from the sewer department in exchange for that department not having to pay a required annual fee. Exactly where he thinks the money to pay for the scheme in the end will come from is anyones' guess.

This is not just an issue for Prichard, Alabama though it's happening in other parts of the country as well. Camden, New Jersey just laid off 1/2 of its' police force and a third of the firemen for lack of funds. The small town of Sultan, Wa. eliminated its' entire police force shoving the job to the county police which itself is hurting and looking at cuts. Most funding is local and state sponsored but some monies come from the federal government. Imagine what federal cuts would do to already strained budgets.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Freeze the economy and demand will be nil. If areas like our massive defense budget aren't pared to realistic levels and the domestic pork barrel known as Homeland Security isn't trimmed then this is merely lip service to the issues of the budget. Normally when trimming a home budget one looks at the most costly areas first which aside from the roof overhead is usually the last stupid things purchased. A certain war, an unpaid for drug plan, and tax breaks for people who don't need it comes to mind.
I was out yesterday running errands looking at all the empty for lease spaces around town. Couldn't go one block without at least one empty space. Buildings that had been occupied for as long as I've been here sit empty. A quick stop at a store gave an image of a near ghost town. I could have rolled a bowling ball down a shopping aisle and been lucky to hit anyone. Many walked empty handed. No cart, no basket and no sales. Seems that people are buying only what's absolutely necessary like a part to repair the toilet or a pair of jeans to replace the worn out ones. Two women in front of me passed through the checkout and walked out with nothing. Unheard of just a few years ago.
People are still not spending. Business isn't spending and the government wants to cut back? The Carebear is about to speak but I have lost confidence. He's asked for bipartisanship for what two years now with not one finger lifted in that respect? He preached Hope and that's about all we have left but Hope doesn't pay the bills. Hey and since they're sitting together when Wilson opens his trap to holler "You Lie!" somebody can smack him upside the head. So this might just be a good thing.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Oh it costs. It always costs

A group called Femen a feminist protest group from the Ukraine has been actively bringing issues by bearing it all in public. They've protested the tourist sex trade in the Ukraine as well as the proposed stoning of an Iranian woman for adultery.

Sex not for sale? Oh it's always for sale only the legalities and costs must be worked out first. It can be as cheap as dinner and a movie or a walk down the aisle but it always costs.

Here we have protesters bearing it all. To their credit any group that can bring attention to an issue without violence can't be all bad. I guess they don't have much to bear or is that bare?

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Tolls and cameras and fees

It started simple enough with a toll on the Tacoma Narrows bridge. Okay I can understand that. You need a bridge built and can't get enough bond money so you throw a toll on it. And then another bridge gets a toll but this time its' replacement isn't even started. Then they got creative and slapped an electronic tolling feature that automatically bills you. On the Narrows bridge it was a transponder card that you had to pay a regular fee for. Not much of a problem there unless like most computer systems do they screw up which they have. But the Evergreen Point Floating Bridge takes a photo of your license and sends you a bill. Think about that the next time you lend somebody your car. Then there's the confusion of out of state drivers who have no idea how our systems work. This should do wonders for tourism. Imagine getting a bill in the mail when you're on the East coast. Or worse going through the toll gate because you didn't understand the system and having to try and fight it half way across the country.

But the biggest set back to our area will be drivers looking for alternatives to avoid having to pay to go to work. There's only so many alternative routes which are fairly clogged during rush hour now. The idea has always been to increase traffic flow not slow it down. So to deter these toll avoiders the powers that be want to put more tolls on other roads. Not a good idea. On any given Friday things are slow enough. Imagine an accident anywhere near one of these collection stations and you'll be lucky to get home by midnight. Not that I drive much these days but eventually things will change.

Then there's the cameras. You can just about have a view of nearly any major road from the Canadian border to Oregon. And if that's not enough there's one at every supermarket, department store and mall. Of course there's the ones at the banks both inside and out. And if that's not enough coverage for you every cell phone seems to have a camera. Seems you can't sneeze in this country without it landing up on the internet. This is not good folks. We're turning into a nation of detached voyeurs. The human psyche was not meant for this. And we wonder why mental illness is on the rise.
I understand that the UK has us beat. There are places there where their overlords can look into apartment windows. I can just imagine the boys in blue ogling the babe in 36 D who just stepped out of the shower. And we know they can from the latest fountain dive at the mall that went viral. The thing is is that their cameras are even better than the cheap shop owner variety used to "nab the nickers" as they might say over there. Wouldn't surprise me if they were able to count the hairs on.... I won't go there. Everywhere you go there are cameras. And you have to ask has it really made anybody safer? Has it stopped crimes or terrorism? Obviously not. There are still robberies rapes and murders. And god forbid you should forget your lunch box or backpack because you know the next thing you know you'll see it on the 11 o'clock news being blown up by the bomb squad.
Cameras cameras everywhere and no place to hide to even take a dump. But hey they even have a camera that you can swallow just in case they want to get up close and really personal. Privacy laws? HA! You didn't bother to read the fine print on that one. They always have an out when it comes to violating YOUR rights. Laws governing THEM they just ignore. That would be too complicated and hard to prosecute. Jeez I just read this and I'm already starting to sound like I'm cracking around the edges. But I think you get the picture (pun intended).

Friday, January 21, 2011

Pussy is thrifty but...

Republicans in congress want to cut the budget by 2.5 trillion dollars. I can find a very easy way to do that. Pull out of Iraq and Afghanistan and undo this tax break extension. The two wars were estimated to cost 2 trillion when they began and the tax break is costing $700 million. You see that would actually result in more savings to the bottom line 2.7 trillion to be exact.

It's been raining to beat the band here for the last several hours (pineapple express it's called). Only wonder if some smart enterprising soul could store a bunch of this water and send it to drought areas when they needed it. Guess not. Too costly to capture store and transport.

No work yet. Guess I need to let my handler know. Workers are kind of like produce, if not used for a certain period of time then they spoil. WHERE'S THE JOBS BONER!

Bank fails later...

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

You need more?

What better to wash that 50lb. hamburger down than with a 31 oz. coffee. Good grief have we gone totally mad? Forty plus years ago a regular cup was something like 6 to 8 oz. And rather than go swimming in a fountain drink it was considered extra large if it was more than ten ozs. Guess when some executive did some research and found that the human bladder could hold 16 ozs. then all bets were off. More is not better. More is just more and results in more around the waistline. Now there are prizes to see who has the latest entry into the Guinness Book for the largest (fill in your entrée of choice). And the fools that be actually think that one human being can actually consume such gargantuan portion in one sitting. And the prize if they do? It's free! I can only assume that this has become the latest diversion much like flag pole sitting or marathon dancing was back in Mom's and Dad's day. But really do we need food items that would feed half the town when so many on this planet consider themselves lucky if they can eat grass or dirt in any given day? I'm no wet blanket to spectacles but you'd think that we could get just a bit more creative and practical in our feats.

With the current economy I can appreciate what those at the bottom of the pile are experiencing. I know now why the less fortunate carry the weight both figuratively and literally. They have everything going against them. The bulk of what comes from food pantries is rice, pasta and potatoes. It will keep a body alive but not in the healthiest of terms. Then there's the Russian Roulette of caned goods. Will they consume something that's been at the back of a cupboard two years beyond its' use by date? A broth soup is not supposed to slosh in a can when it's shaken as if it were a solid glob. Any fresh foods like produce must be consumed within the first 48 hrs as they were close to being composted anyway.
There is the stress of what I'd call "you can't have your cake and eat it too". That's the fear that if you eat something then you might not have anything for later or tomorrow. This results in skipping meals in order to save. But that's not a good idea since hunger will eventually kick in with a vengeance resulting in over eating. There's that never ending array junk foods. Like it or not a bag of chips looks very tempting and would fill a hunger pang for at least one meal. But such substitutes are no answer for good nutrition. It's all about survival and the subconscious takes over in desperation. I can only imagine what the Russians went through during WWII. I understand there were no dogs to me found on city streets during the German siege.
The thin veneer of civility slowly erodes when circumstances change for the worse. A war, a natural disaster an economic down turn or being born to poverty kicks in the survival instinct. We got to witness that some years back when the Kurds of northern Iraq were forced to flee their homes and live in the hills. These were by American standards middle class folks with homes and cars and jobs. Had it not been for their dress you'd have though they were from middle America. Yet in just a few short weeks conditions in their camps were reduced to something close to a Mad Max village. People at the bottom aren't necessarily lazy they're terrified. As we see from the latest events fear moves people to work against their own best interests. Survival is a great motivating factor. We will do what it takes to get by.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Super size me or as Randal would say "embiggen me"

Perusing the web last night I came upon someone with a few choice words of wisdom. Not the usual mommy blog or regurgitation of the latest talking points and yes no overwhelming academic discourse was to be found there. Just a simple discourse on the state of man/woman/child was to be found. It was is if someone took off the blinders and took a good look at ourselves without jaded eye. How refreshing that was. It got me to thinking just who the hell we are and how did we get here.
I give you one Sam Spruce of Toxic Drums
Don't know where he resides so I put him in the bestest blogs from around the world on the right hand side.

A couple of motivating ideas spilled from his pages that got me really thinking about our own image, what we believe and why.
A quarter of this planet goes to bed hungry each night but junior proudly proclaims holding his clean empty plate that he ate the whole thing. Remember there are starving children in third world countries so you need to make a pig out of yourself to show (just who?) that you didn't waste any food. Any logic to be found there? And shining the light of a microscope on our educational system that was set up at the beginning of the industrial revolution we find that its' entire purpose was to make for good little cogs in the wheels of industry. Must fit the square peg in the square hole lest the entire production line come to a screeching halt. The boys in the carpeted offices wouldn't like that. It might just put a dent in their annual bonuses. Yet once we pass through the ivy halls and into the cold cruel world we're told to "think outside the box". Gad I hate that phrase. It's as if someone doing the hiring actually expected you to think. Here we have this creative person who just might have a solution only to be saddled one more time with company policies and procedures that will of course put him back in the box. Not that all are bad mind you. There are safety issues but most have little to do with that.

Those at the top of the power heap have stuck to their game plan. Keep the masses uneducated barefoot and pregnant is the order of the day. Entertain them with themselves because after all who wouldn't want to make a few scraps competing in a great race or survival contest? Makes for great show and don't forget to text your pick for winner at a dollar a call. There seems to be a reality show for nearly every profession take your pick. The food challenges are the best or should I say the worst. Let's see if Bubba here can consume half his body weight in deep fried brussel sprouts. Then there are the cooking competitions where one lucky winner will be head chef at some five star Cordon Blue bistro. Starting with a couple dozen contestants we watch the back stabbing and name calling (expletives deleted) until the gaggle is pared down to two lucky finalists. But watching the tearful goodbyes the thought comes to mind that hey, Denny's needs late night cooks too because you'll never make it in the big leagues baby. So like the thought of winning the grand humongous lottery they keep us glued (or should I say suckered?) into coming back for more of this drivel. And like dry rot for the mind they've created a habit worse than any vice I can think of to date.

So what exactly do we have here? The powers that be have created in a little more than one generation a society of overweight undereducated self centered over consuming slackers. But how did that happen you might ask? Simple in an attempt to have what our parents had that took thirty or forty years to accumulate we were told we could have it all with just a little money down and easy monthly payments. Mom and Dad are too busy trying to pay off the mortgage, the car and the credit cards to be full time parents. Junior needs dinner, here's twenty bucks go eat at the mall. And the ruling elite have made a life's profession keeping the game just as it is and will continue to do so. Keep them dumb and working against their own best interests. It increases the bottom line.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Blue Monday

Happy Blue Monday? Am I being flippant? Maybe. This is said to be the most depressing day of the year. Any takers? Let me know how your day went in comments.

I was all set to do some errands today and then remembered that this is

Martin Luther King Day
Maybe that ties together perfectly with current events: An attempt on a congresswoman's life, Blue Monday and MLK Day. We've had two black Americas professing hope and change overshadowed by violence and hate. So I guess it is Blue Monday after all. They say nothing lasts forever and I hope that holds true for hard times but jeez it's sure taking a long time to get over this dark cloud. Me, I'm a realist. I always assume things will go wrong and plan accordingly. Maybe that's what's kept me alive for the last 20 years.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Playoff Sunday

Chicago bears take on the Seattle seahawks.
Choke you say? No this was no choke. This was nothing more than being outplayed at nearly ever level. Didn't know football had a farm league.

More later...

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Truth in advertising

Candy Co. Recalls Toxic Waste Bar See I told you this was truth in advertising. A candy bar made in Pakistan actually contained elevated levels of lead. Can't fault them for being honest now can we? And anyway kids these days will eat just about anything if they think it's cool. And now I know where some of the nasties went that I removed all those years. I wondered about that. Always thought they went to an industrial waste landfill. Silly me.

J&J Voluntarily Recalls Medicines Including Tylenol, Benadryl
Johnson and Johnson has recalled several of it's over the counter medicines because somebody didn't do a good job cleaning the equipment. Oh well I guess that's what happens when you cut back on the staff because who wants to pay for a janitor these days?

In other environmental news I'm a bit concerned about the floods in the southern hemisphere. I realize that this is a reoccurring event that happens from time to time but it looks like much of the crops down there could be wiped out. It is La Niña that large mass of cold ocean water that changes weather patterns. Now for those climate change deniers out there this is what happens when the arctic ice starts melting. The natural flow of heat in the oceans stops and that is why you can have ugly winters in the north and droughts in the south. Can't say that I've ever seen such large areas affected all at once like this though. Keep your eye on the jet stream though. If it shifts to the far west for any length of time then we'll have crop losses in the midwest like we did during the 1930s.

The magnet poles are shifting. Guess we'll have to change that song "Go north to Alaska". It will now be "Go north to Russia". Hope all the airport people remembered to reset their runway markers.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Pussy for slacker Friday

Not much going on today. There seem to be a lot of floods in the southern hemisphere with Australia, South Africa, and Brazil leading the way. Water water everywhere and not a drop to drink. And they still deny global warming. So when they're drowning we'll just tell them the water is imaginary.

Noticed that some of the links in the sidebar to the right haven't posted in months. Wonder if they died. That was a problem when I was putting down job references, people either changed their cell carrier or died. Try getting a home phone number these days. Good luck with that.

Be back later with the bank fails.

Only one failure this week in GA.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Are you certified?


A license, a card, a certificate suitable for framing it only says that you sat through umpteen boring hours listening or not to somebody who took the trainers' course and maybe he/she was paying attention or not. Then there's the truly boring course train the trainer. Taught by either an old foggy who tells you that's the way we did it way back in 62 or by some green twenty something who's diploma ink is still wet and has not a clue to the realities of a real job. Or the pizza delivery guy who just managed to land a spot robosigning papers for the Easy Credit Mortgage Company and is now holding financial seminars at the local Holiday Inn. But hey, he's now a CFP so he must be legit right?

Certifications? Yeah I got certifications.

That and five bucks will get you a cup of coffee. And if you think you know what those letters mean think again. Did I leave any out? More than likely. Problem is it's not about a card or a paper even though they're nice to look at and flash before an inspector. Hey wait a minute. Where's your inspectors license? Let me see your papers please. We think there may be a problem here.

So starting shortly you'll now need to take the ( insert name of blog software here) class followed by a 100 question test. Passing grade will be 85% and those not making the grade will no longer be able to blog. Sorry all results are final and no retesting until you've taken the additional recertification class that's only given at 4pm on Fridays every other month. It will be held in you states' capital by appointment only. Please have a certified check for the proper amount upon arrival. Sorry no cash, personnel checks or credit cards accepted.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

State of the Future (my take)

Looking into the future is a difficult thing when you're gazing in the rear view mirror to do it. We've come a long way since the financial melt down but there are so many left moaning in the ditch by the side of the road wondering if they'll ever be able to get back on the bus. Companies that survived actually did quite well. They trimmed staffs, cut back on inventories and equipment and made due with much less. Not to mention help from the government. Profit margins were increased. But this was all at the expense of about 15 million workers who are still wondering who sucker punched them and stole most of their retirement and home equity. From what the smexperts are saying many of the jobs that went away will never come back. Business is still leery of adding more personnel and why shouldn't they be? They're still pulling in profits without the extra luggage of adding to the payroll. Couple that with the fact that many of the workers were replaced with younger cheaper ones. Why hire a fifty something when you can get two twenty somethings at less than half the cost?
Where is this all headed one might wonder? To a new lower class of people would be my guess. But unlike those of any other era these will be well educated with some assets. The question will be then will they be able to hang on until it's time to retire? Will they burn through what's left of their nest egg or have even that snatched from their hands from rising costs and a dim future? No they wouldn't burn through it but they would watch it slowly melt away like a faded dream. It's happening now. You can't sell your home if you're underwater in the loan. Two choices there. Either continue paying on it or let the bank have it. To continue paying may result in having nothing in the end as retirement funds are cashed out for expenses. Or let it go, cash out the retirement to use for a roof over your head. Some are already beyond that point now.
The new powers that be would love nothing more than slashing spending. Okay what if they do? Where will that get us? You throw yet more people out of work and where exactly would they find jobs with an unemployment rate at near 10%? And with thousands more hitting the unemployment lines you cut that much more demand in the economy for goods and services. People can only survive on tuna and mac and cheese for so long. And that goes hand in hand with the issue of health care but as we know those at the top don't want us having any. What they fail to realize is that they'll land up paying for it one way or another. They could do it the cheap way by having everybody covered but they'd rather let an emergency room handle it and have the cost come back at them with higher medical bills and premiums later. Penny wise and pound foolish I believe is the expression.
So what does this year hold? I'm expecting higher prices in gas at least in the short term. Higher prices for food (remember the new boys in town would love nothing more than to eliminate farm subcities). A temporary increase in raw materials (Australia mines over a third of the coke - coal for making steel and nothing is moving there at the moment). Then I'm sure there are other natural disasters we haven't seen yet as the year unfolds. I'd also expect more industrial accidents as the profit mongers have not yet learned that it's still cheaper in the long run to do it right the first time.
And one last item of note, the federal government has for years been passing the buck to states with unfunded mandates and the like. Now that the states shoulder the burden they are passing that on to the counties and it's trickling down to the cities. With nowhere left to cut we're seeing police and fire get hit. Maybe it is time to go out and buy a handgun or rifle and a good fire extinguisher as well.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Sometimes the stories just write themselves

News items from Yahoo News:
Snowshoe walks at Snoqualmie Pass offer chance to see beauty of winter.

Followed by:
Four lost snowshoers found near Snoqualmie Pass

On the Az shooting. In looking at current events I must note that we are at present a nation on edge. There's some 15 million plus out of work and it will take some time before things turn around. Most of the safety nets were cut under Reagan with more under Bush. Now it's the states' turn. With no other choice governors are closing down mental health facilities and cutting other programs. It's as if the entire government is turning its' back on the very people who need it most. They may save a few cents now but what about the long term costs to society? Isn't it cheaper to put a few stitches in a garment before it becomes a big tear and an even greater expense to fix? If we do this to our people and we do this to our infrastructure then what will we have left?
As we have seen from this current action it doesn't take much to push someone over the edge. And those on the right sure aren't helping with their rhetoric. You don't go around shouting armed insurrection any more than you wouldn't shout fire in a movie theater. And in my opinion that is what they've been doing for the last year and a half. Free speech is one thing but it also has to be responsible speech. There are after all as the congresswoman herself said consequences to what you say.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

News you can't use

News looks pretty gruesome this morning. 15 heads found in Acapulco shopping center. Sounds like the drug lords are cleaning house early this year. Sales so great you'll loose you head over them. No that's just too sick even for my perverted sense of humor.

Okay then how about the latest footage of a former Bush official found in a dumpster? Nope think I'll pass on that one too.

Two of three missing men found dead in Phoenix after test driving a jeep. Jeez you can't even buy a car in this country without risking your life.

All righty then how about a nice mid winter vacation to New York City? I'm sure the snow and garbage is now long gone.
Portuguese television journalist was found castrated and bludgeoned to death in a New York City hotel.

Okay too much violence for you? Then we'll turn to the next best thing - sex. Surely there are titillating tidbits to peak your puerile minds.
Nope again. The Islamists have one upped even those of the Victorian era.
have banned unrelated men and women from shaking hands, speaking or walking together.
Good grief no wonder they go around killing people. They're all sexually frustrated.

Friday, January 7, 2011

The Friday economic pussy

I'm seeing cracks in the once frozen economy. Unemployment is starting to go down. Just wonder if the corporate fat cats realize that they can't squeeze much more out of us lowly peons without having to kill the host. Strange but if anyone bothered to actually read the Stimulus Bill (I did) they'd know that the remaining funds were due to be spent in 2011. That bill by the way was over 600 pages but with the size of the font it was more like 50. Sometime I'll sit and read the Health Care bill but I just haven't had that much time. And here's something to pass on. The actual name of the bill is the Affordable Health Care Bill and not Obamacare. People seem to forget that fact and that it was to be named after Ted Kennedy. Something that never happened.

I still feel bad that there are a lot of folks out here who are in their late 50s and early 60s who may never get back in the workforce through no fault of their own.

Bank fails later...

Thursday, January 6, 2011

John Boehner takes the stage

Rallying his minions to do such important business as repealing the health care bill because who with a preexisting condition doesn't want their insurance eliminated?
And what elderly soul doesn't want to play Texas holdem with their Social Security when the Boner diverts their monthly check to Wall Steet.
But the Kabuki will continue with impeachment hearings that will amount to nothing more than show. They'll definitely need to reduce the deficit by lowering taxes yet again and thereby add to the deficit.
Not to forget food safety, the environment, education and worker safety because after all it's so easy to underfund those programs as they've been for the last ten years.

And who wouldn't want to make a career out of saying no and undoing (or at least trying) what the opposition just passed into law. After all it's what you do when the assignment came due and you were too busy playing the back 9 in Ohio and getting drunk to come up with a real plan. It's much easier than saying the dog ate my homework. The real question becomes can they keep this performance up for two whole years and keep the masses amused and confused?

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

How not to fly a plane

A United pilot accidentally spilled his coffee into the controls of the aircraft he was flying and set off a hijack alarm. Humm, maybe he was trying to sober up before landing. So I guess we can give him the tippy cup award complete with bib.

Looks like there were two winners in the "BIG" lottery. I believe they each get something like $100 million each. Knowing lotteries as we do it will probably be a couple of old farts who don't need it and wouldn't know what to do with it when they get it. And I'm just sure if they're still working at the rendering plant that they'll continue working there because it's such a great place to work.

Good cop bad cop
No good image could I find for this last bit.
Now that the drunken thieves have taken back the House, the Dems will have no choice but to trade places with the Rethugs and be the party of "No". No to the defunding of programs just passed into law. No to unfunding Health Care passed just last year. No to defunding Food Safety. No to cutting out farm subsidies No to underfunding the EPA. You'll see all of these programs and agencies sit as zombies with no life or power. But they won't stop there. They've already started to undo social security by cutting withholding that pays for it. And with all the cutbacks we're seeing what it's doing to the states and their budgets. Expect worse. Much worse. Our state has already cut to the bone and it still wasn't enough. When you cut basic health care for the needy they have no choice but to head to the emergency room costing ten times as much as seeing a regular doctor. The next round of cuts estimated at $4 billion will cut into fire and police because there's nowhere else to cut. So you may just want to invest in a good fire extinguisher and a gun.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

I just don't care

A lot of the news is psychotic anymore. One story tells us that things are great or getting better while another says they're getting worse. Who ya going to believe? I know that anything that comes out of Fox is a lie because they've lied so much they've passed up the boy who cried wolf. So I look with jaded eye over the days' events. We've lost that objective sense once seen by the likes of Edward R. Murrow, but even he was able to change opinion with his opinion pieces on Joe McCarthy. And If you don't know who they were then you're too young to be reading this.

Now I must ask have we gotten better at covering the news or are criminals just getting sloppy? In any given day we see robberies, thefts and embezzlements. Murders and suicides seem to be on the rise but then someone goes and reports that the latest government data proves otherwise. Makes you start questioning their figures. So you really don't know who to believe unless it happens in your own neighborhood or to someone you know.

As for politicians they are about useless as tits on a boar hog and at this point it's either party. They haven't fought for anybody but themselves. Stand by their principles? Just flash enough cash under their nose and they'll be whatever you want like a cheap crack whore. They get in office just long enough to learn the ropes then it's off to raise campaign funds. Do anything important? Why would they have to when it's so easy to threaten a filibuster. This isn't about a difference of opinion on a bill it's about stopping progress and basically doing nothing for a pay check. As complex as our system is a four page budget doesn't begin to cover the necessities. Screaming tax cuts over and over does not solve problems. And now the shoe is on the other foot. The other party wants to undo what was just done. Hey I've got an idea. Why don't you all just go home and save everybody a lot of money. Fire the lot of them. They're aren't doing anything productive anyway. If they actually had to do an honest days' work they'd all get a pink slip at the end of shift.

So where's the jobs Bonner? That's right it's supposed to trickle down from the fat cats above. Right. From the Buffets to the Gates or is it the other way around?

I'd have more but at this point I just don't care.