You Get What You Pay For

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Man, the news was so bad tonight, that I just turned it off and went outside in the backyard to scream!  Which really doesn’t do me a whole lot of good, but I just love watching the neighbor’s dog run to the end of his chain and then pow!

This evening I am thinking about that old gag, where the Senator is filibustering and he says to the body, “My esteemed colleague from Alabama wants $22 million for a road, and this Senator wants $65 million for a wind tunnel project, and my brother from Utah, is asking for $85 million to build a dam in his home state.  The first thing y’know, we are going to be talking about some REAL money here.”

The time is right for a set of federal policies designed to provide stabilization, stimulus, recovery, and growth. Without action, there is too great a risk of further collapse and an ever-worsening spiral of job loss and economic decline. In addition to action aimed at stabilizing the extremely shaky auto industry and financial and housing markets, Congress should act quickly to pass measures to stimulate the broad economy and commence the road to recovery.

Which is what they did with quickly moving with Secretary of the Treasury Paulson, and he has changed the playbook three times that I know of, and seems to be flying the Treasury by the seat of his pants.  Meanwhile, Congress sits back and in their usual fashion, does nothing about it.

In broad categories, the $350 billion package outlined here includes approximately:

■$55 billion to spur demand and assist those most in need.
■$70 billion in aid for states and localities.
■$50 billion for tax cut stimulus.
■$175 billion for infrastructure investments in stimulus and recovery, including $100 billion in green job creation.

And that is the “good news” what we are not seeing or being told, is what is going to happen in the future.  When all of these federally slopped hogs come back to the trough next year for even more money.

Today, after investing almost half of the $700 billion appropriated by Congress to buttress the capital reserves of the banking system, the evidence suggests that the Treasury and the Federal Reserve have not achieved their goal of easing the cost or availability of capital. Instead, the major banks are cutting back credit, increasing fees and looking for ways to further solidify their balance sheets. In other words, “the people who promised to have your best interests at heart, have already reneged on the deal.”

The lesson for the major commercial banks in the wake of AIG’s collapse was simple: Do everything in your power to rebuild your financial strength and stabilize your credit ratings. Cut back lending, reduce outstanding credit facilities, increase fees, conserve capital, and rebuild your balance sheets. In sum, the lesson for the commercial banks is that if you want to survive — if you don’t want to be the next AIG — you should not do any of the things — such as increase lending — that the Treasury is trying to get you to do.  Now you might think that all of this is new thinking, but it isn’t.

I predict future happiness for Americans if they can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them.

Thomas Jefferson

Does President-Elect Obama represent the change we need? His mainstream appointments — largely veterans of the Clinton administration — have sparked a clamor from worried supporters. A full 31 of his 42 picks so far, are Ex-Clinton pro’s or in other words, it’s the same old circus.  But in one of the critical challenges facing the country — how to get the country out of what will be the worst downturn since the Great Depression — Obama is calling for dramatic and long overdue change.

While President Bush continues to oppose any major plan for Main Street, Obama has been calling for a substantial recovery program, focused on public investments rather than tax cuts.

And Congress must do all this by NOT giving GM, Ford and Chrysler the $34 billion they are asking for in “loans” (a few days ago they only wanted $25 billion; that’s how stupid they are — they don’t even know how much they really need to make this month’s payroll. If you or I tried to get a loan from the bank this way, not only would we be thrown out on our ear, the bank would place us on some sort of credit rating blacklist).  Like a freshly pulled bathroom drain plug, our way of life seems to be shooting down the pipe, and no one appears to be listening.  What was our sturdiest generation seasoned by World War II, is gradually fading and now that we are in charge, we are failing miserably.  They left us in fairly good shape, and now that we are running the ship of state, everything seems to be out of control.

Let’s call a spade a spade here.

GM’s outstanding stock is worth about $3 billion on the current market, why doesn’t the government just outright purchase the company, throw the current managers out, and hire new people to run the company (that would be change).  This is a bargain, considering the $18 billion they want now, and who knows what they will want in the future?  They are going to default on the note in the end, and we are going to own it outright anyway.  Why not get it for the bargain price, instead of the inflated bloated overpriced pig they are offering for market share now.  I change the channel … no help there either.

Then the media moved onto Foreign Policy.

It’s too early to tell what changes Hillary Clinton will bring to Barack Obama’s foreign policy, but she’s already had an enormous effect on his brand. Her addition to his team has turned “No Drama Obama” into “Mo’ Drama Obama.” Hillary’s appointment isn’t even official, but the Obama/Clinton narrative has already left the realm of politics. Its twists, turns, shadings, and complex emotions are the stuff of literature (When Hillary Met Barack. Sleepless in Chappaqua. You’ve Got Fundraising Email).

Late into the day and I find myself in an old familiar surrounding, the backyard, staring up at the sky and there are never any answers in the sky.  Some of us seek anesthesia of escape in strange forms, some of us seek the validation of everyone-thinks-alike media tailored to one ideological or political mindset.  We separate into our niches, shredding the fabric of our common future.

You get what you pay for … At least “you used to get what you paid for.”

Nowadays, I don’t know what it is we are getting, and it is hard to see the results, when you find yourself “constantly bending over and taking it in the shorts.”  I hope Mr. Obama understands that “if you are not the lead horse, then the view is always going to be the same.”

I am driving a 12 year old truck, that passes every thing but a gas station, and on most days, the best of days, “it might start on a cold Oklahoma morning.”

I sure wish someone would be kind enough to bail me out of it.

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Nobody Cares About Your Dreams

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Coffee is good this morning, a little bite to it, but that is okay, it is cold here and uncomfortable.  Americans drink about 400 million cups of coffee per day, that is a lot of coffee, that is an ocean of coffee.  Which is kind of strange, when you stop to think about it.  Coffee has no nutritional value that I know of, why we drink it is truly somewhat of a mystery.

Four out of five adults in the U.S. drink coffee every day.  I know one person who doesn’t, his favorite quote about coffee is this.  “How can something that smells so dog-gone good when it is perculating in the pot, taste so rotten afterwards.” He is not a caffeine junky like the rest of us.

We average about two cups per day in this country, per consumer, that would be about 1/3 of the worlds’ supply of the elixir.  I understand that coffee contains 100 milligrams of caffeine; a cup of espresso has 200.

No More Free Toasters

You can now add Credit Unions to the list of people signing up for the bailout money, they applied for and received $40 billion worth this week to bolster against mortgage losses.  You know the other day I was sitting at the beanery waiting for them to bring me my order and I was staring out the window.  And I got that glazed over look in my eye and the wife said to me, “I know I shouldn’t but I am gonna anyway.  What are you thinking about”?”

And I said, “Oh, I was thinking back a long time ago, when we were young and stupid and we invested in that Ponzi scheme.  You remember that?” and she said, “Oh Lord, whatever made you think of that?”

For all of you that are not aware, a Ponzi scheme is a get rich deal, most of the time called a “Pyramid Scheme” and the people, who get in early, make tons of money, the others, well they don’t do so well.  They mainly lose their investment.  We were in the later group, we lost, about $1,000 and interest, and I made every stinking payment on it, 36 of them suckers.  (I told you we were young and stupid, we didn’t even have the money to lose, we borrowed our entry level amount … Now that was really d-u-m-b.)

So here is the deal.

I am thinking about how it is that I did something really dumb, really stupid, and I lost what I considered a large amount of money.  AND NO ONE … NOT ONE SOLITARY SOUL CAME FORWARD TO BAIL ME OUT … I HAD TO PAY EVERY DAMN DIME OF IT … AND I HAD TO TAKE MY KNOCKS THE HARD WAY. Since then, several lucrative offers have presented themselves, and we always say “no thank you.”  Our official position is that we have had so many good deals in the past, we cannot afford any more of them now.

When do WE get bailed out … Who is going to help us out … those of us that are struggling.

Business has gotten so bad here lately, even the people who were not planning on paying for it anyway, are not buying. I asked my neighbor about it and he said, “The bible says cast thy bread upon the waters and it will be returned to you 100 fold.”  Which is fine, but what are you supposed to do with 100 soggy wet loaves of bread?  When I was young, my paycheck would burn a hole in my pocket, these days it isn’t enough to keep my pocket warm.  It is truly a shame that at this point in life, you have only one regret.  And that would be that you have not accumulated enough cash to be able to fly on a moment’s notice to Japan to bid on Paul’s Sergeant Peppers uniform.

The Governor will see you now … Please have your checkbook handy

Corruption has tainted politics in Chicago (Illinois in general) since the prohibition days and Albert Scarface Capone, but the arrest Tuesday of Illinois Governor Brad Blagojevich revealed alleged conspiracy and bribery schemes so brazen that the veteran investigators and prosecutors could barely hold their revulsion.  Government for sale .. to the highest bidder, the American Way, kind of makes you proud doesn’t it?  Shades of Bill Clinton when he was governor of Arkansas.  When the highway patrol stopped you there, they would say, “Have your wife get out of the car, so the governor can frisk her.”

Here is another one out of Illinois for you. In Springfield, Zachary Holloway, 20, and a pal were arrested and charged with breaking into one car and stealing, among other things, a motorcycle helmet, then attempting to break into another car.

To try to get into the second car, Holloway put on the helmet, stood back from the car, and charged into it, head-butting a window, unsuccessfully, twice.  They were arrested and booked that day.

Finally coming clean

Some 20 years after the Exxon Valdez oil spill, plaintiffs in the case are getting what’s left of the money they were originally awarded, the Anchorage Daily News reports.  Some plaintiffs will get amounts ranging from several hundred dollars to $100K or more.  Most had just about given up hope of getting anything from it at all.

Now lets see, you take an amount of money, put it in the bank and allow it to sit, for say …. Oh let’s just say “twenty years” … that might accumulate enough in interest where you end up never paying a fine at all.  Just thinking outside the box.  Naw, “our friends in the oil and gas industry” wouldn’t do that to us … would they?

Oh well it could be worse (how could it possibly be worse?) you could be in your car, stranded on an Alaskan highway and the only human within 200 miles is a Cro-Magnon Woman wearing a torn parka who communicates through a series of bizarre grunts, winks and gesticulations and she not only comes to your rescue, but you have to “talk to her” all the way back to town.

Lying crooks what is this world coming to?

In the city that launched the national crime-stopper movement, Albuquerque, New Mexico, which pays informants for tips that help police solve local crimes there could be a possible snag.  It appears now the highly successful program designed for, “people that hang out with crooks to do part time work” might be providing the cops with “less than truthful information” for the rewards.

It appears that even in hard times, the low life’s will resort to less than honest approaches at generating funds.  Police are now saying that they are going to have to be more careful because they “might be playing games with us” in order to get the money.  Geeze, do you think so?  Bad cop, bad cop, no donut.

Man, I would like a shot at that myself.

Barre, Vermont. A man who hit Governor Douglas in the face with a pie during an Independence Day parade will spend five days on a work crew for the prank.  Matthew Manning, 23, pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct and apologized.  Manning, dressed as Santa Claus ran up to Douglas during the Montpelier parade and threw the pie before being tackled by the mayor and being detained.  I would like to pay this man’s fine, if there is one, but I am curious.  “Santa Claus at an Independence Day celebration, what were you thinking?”

Time to wrap this one up.

If you attend the job fair/money seminar at the Holiday Inn this weekend?  When the speaker begins the seminar by saying, “By a show of hands, how many of you don’t know the difference between a stock and a bond?” and you are the only one with your hand in the air?

Go immediately to the Lobby … American Xpress or Bank Of America are looking for you.  You might have a new job Monday morning.

Who says things aren’t looking up.

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Between The Lines

Recently I found myself very much engaged in a spirited conversation with my thirteen year old grandson.  I don’t know why, common sense would dictate that I would be better off minding my own business, but never the less, there we were.  Both of us locked into our ritual of trying to find some common ground, but hopelessly out of sync with each other.

Been There.  Done That.  Got The Headache.

Some of us born before color television, penicillin, polio shots, frozen food, Xerox (who incidentally never has anything original to say), contact lenses, Frisbee’s and the pill, kind of resent all of this new stuff being shoved down our throats.  Another thing that kind of rankles me, is being told that “I am old hat.”

That kind of irritates me to no end.

So I will now share some of my free adolescent language lesson (this time) which consisted of a few things I was blissfully unaware of until this pimply-faced offspring of our first born, arrived on the scene.  First, you cannot say “cool” it appears to be out.  You are not cool, if you say you are cool, got it? This has changed to “spanky.”  You are spanky.  Sounds like something reserved for a bottle of wine, a dark bedroom and a Friday night to me (batteries optional), but I just nodded my head and moved on.

Often I just nod my head and reply, “I understand.”  (He doesn’t have a clue and this works over and over, without fail.  I understand.)  He will leave me alone … which is often … just fine with me.

So if you by chance, give the local basketball coach a problem, and “trigger him” as I understand it, this is really “disrespecting him” what should be referred to as “dissing” the coach and you can expect him to go ballistic.  Which used to be really pi**sed off or mad.  Now days that doesn’t seem to come close at all.  You get mad, you are now an employee of the U.S. Postal Service according to the younger set.  “I mean the guy went postal grandpa.  He really did.”

Now my generation they called that “disgruntled.”

I have met some pretty messed up people in my lifetime, and I have seen people go off the deep end of the pool, but I have NEVER met anyone who was disgruntled that I know of.  Think about it, when is the last time the doctor asked you “have you been normal lately or a bit disgruntled?”  I mean, does anyone actually know what the meaning of the word might be?

All this might be some of that “change” that Mr. Obama is talking about.

A few of us remember a time when there were no cops with radar, no limit credit cards, split atoms (or Quarks for that matter), laser beams, ballpoint pens, panty hose, dishwashers, clothes dryers, electric blankets, air conditioning, drip-dry clothes, wrinkle free pants, and man had not walked on the moon.

So much change anymore that it is virtually cluttering up the empty space between my ears, something my father would have testified to as “literally impossible.”  I must have slowly, seemingly overnight, according to my grandson, turned into some kind of prehistoric social dinosaur.

A modern day fossil.

And I guess he is right to a certain extent.  I am the generation that came from a society that believed closets were for the storing of clothing, not coming out of.  Bunnies were those little furry things that you gave your kids on Easter and were not found in the page of a magazine.  Having a meaningful relationship basically meant that you get along with the rest of your cousins during the holidays.

What else?

Fast food was something you ate during Lent, and outer space was the back of the drive-in.  There were no house-husbands, gay rights, computer dating, dual careers, and computer marriages.  No daycare centers, group therapy, or nursing homes, or as they are affectionately known today, “Assisted Living Centers.”.  No FM Radio, No Howard, No Rush, No Hannity & Combs.  CD’s, tape decks, electric typewriters, artificial hearts, lifestyle-same-sex-partners, significant others, word processors, yogurt and guys wearing ear rings.  Time-sharing meant togetherness, a drive by was a cruise down Main Street, and a chip meant a piece of wood, hardware meant exactly that … hardware.

Software wasn’t even a word, in Silicone Valley or anywhere else for that matter.

Made in Japan back then meant it was “junk.”  Making out was finding a good job or getting a passing exam in Mrs. McGee’s English class.  Pizzas, McDonalds, and instant coffee, were kind of basically unheard of.  A five and ten cent store, sold stuff, for five and ten cents.  Ice Cream cones cost under a quarter, a movie was six bits.  A Chevy from the dealer cost about $600-$800 fully loaded but unfortunately, most of us didn’t have the money to purchase it.  Which was a real pity, because gasoline was only 15 cents per gallon then.

Times have changed

  • Smoking was fashionable
  • Grass was mowed
  • Coke was a cold drink on a hot day
  • Pot was something Grandma or Mom cooked in
  • Rock Music was a grandma’s lullaby
  • Aids were student helpers in the principles office
  • Ecstasy was fogged over windows in the back row of the finger bowl (you figure it out)

Sex, the one constant that remained the same, was discovered by most of us, surely before a sex change operation.  We made do with what we had, and most of the time, were happy to have that.  We were for the most part … The dumb generation that had to have a husband/wife before we got married in order to have a baby.

My grandson asked me one time, “Why is it that your generation is so resilient Grandpa.  What makes you guys so tough?” And I mulled it over in my mind a little, smiled my quirky smile and I said, “I think it was all that Dinosaur hunting we did as kids, I mean jeeze, the decoy weighed almost three tons.  That is a lot of crap to drag around all day long.”

Now I ask you …. Wasn’t that spanky?

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