Thursday, January 21, 2010

See the future

So now the President thinks he is doing all America a favor. He is going to tell the banks what they can and can't do, in order to protect us from them. Whatever happened to free choice? Are we so lazy and ignorant that rather than do our own homework, we need the President to legislate the banks to protect us from our own laziness?

Newsflash people. You can protect yourself. Stay away from large chain commercial banks and stay with the smaller local ones. Ask someone in the bank what type of investments they are into. Whatever products the banks offer commercially should be a good indicator. Better yet, have a seat and ask an advisor. They want to bring your business into the bank, so they will give you information. Use the internet. Ask your neighbors. Go can do it. It's o.k. ....don't be scared. And if the bank looks sketchy, pull out your money and tell them why. Individual depositors like yourself and businesses are what makes them tick. If they get crazy, you pull out your money and be sure to tell them why.

This is all somehow a scam. There is an angle being worked that you can't or maybe can see. Somewhere behind this is a lot of money. Who stands to profit? Big investment firms. If the banks can't get in, that leaves more profit for them. So all the little special interest groups, and community organizers, and leftist types that think this is a good idea are probably in on it. And I can bet you that somehow they will profit from it. This is graft on the highest of levels. Just watch and see. 6-10 months from now there will be a big story about someone who profited big from this. And I will bet $5 that you can connect that person to the white house in 3 moves or less. Or at the very least to someone in the Senate Banking committee.

Let me leave you with a final thought from Ayn Rand that is starting to ring true:
"Do you wish to know whether that day is coming? Watch money. Money is the barometer of societies virtue. When you see that trading is done, not by consent, but by compulsion-when you see that in order to produce you need to obtain permission from the men who produce nothing-when you see that money is flowing to those who deal not in goods, but in favors - when you see that men get richer by graft and by pull than by work, and your laws don't protect you against them, but protect them against you- when you see corruption being rewarded and honesty becoming a self-sacrifice- you may know that society is doomed."

-Atlas Shrugged

Think about what that means and what you see in Washington. Then sit back on the couch, and see if you can still shrug your shoulders and agree with what is going on in D.C.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

All hail air travel

Why does the airline industry fall on it's ass year after year? Has commercial air travel become suddenly unsustainable? Here is an industry that on every level, is just riddled with problems.

Let's start with the obvious. On an airplane its o.k. to have a baby on your lap during take off and landing. But you can't have your tray table down. You can get on the plane drunk, get drunker as they sell you booze, but you can't text during take off, because somehow this might bring the plane down. Me texting "hey honey, they delayed my flight again, so don't leave for the airport yet" is somehow more harmful than the drunken ski team I had seated behind me. Hey FAA, if my 750 mhz, 1/100th of a watt, 3kb text message can bring down a 757 then why are we screening for weapons? The FAA really needs to yank its head out of its ass.

Which brings me to airport security. TSA. Transportation Safety Administration. First let me say, that they have gotten more efficient and learned quite a bit. But boy do they still have a long way to go. I got a pat down search because I was wearing a hoodie, and the guy missed half my body. I could have had a chainsaw strapped to my back and he wouldn't have known. And because we still don't have the stones to target people ethnically for extra search methods, I get to watch old white ladies strip, with no explanation as to why it is required. They could sniff everyone for bombs. The technology does exist. I use it at my job. This would solve a lot of problems. At Newark I watched about 5 people slide past the first security guy checking ID's while he chatted up a young girl. The rest of them he didn't even stop to do any kind of comparison. He was just looking to make sure you had the right "looking" one, and waving you by. At Cincinnati we had extra screening at our gate. Gee they compared your I.D. to the name on your boarding pass, again, you ask to see my papers? What does this do exactly? One guy even had his shoe untied with laces flopping everywhere. How's that for attention to detail? No regulations, no standard procedures, and rules that are completely open to interpretation. Just some vague guidance and knee jerk reactions set to regulations that really just helps to screw with your entire travel experience. Why would that be you ask? Because....

The airlines have given up most any semblance of customer service, good business skills, and common sense in general. I won't even try to rank them. Overbooked flights, rising ticket prices, the very fact that you have to pay for your luggage now, carry on restrictions, and the fact that once they totally screw you over if you show anything resembling normal human emotions at the customer service desk, out you go. In September as soon as our flight got delayed and people started to grumble, the deputies showed up at the gate. Really? Your going to use the increased security posture as a club to replace good old-fashioned customer service? Why deal with someone's complaint when they can just be escorted out of the terminal? And do you really need a "Bill of rights" for passengers to be crammed down your throat by the government? How about you just not leave people sitting in hot airplanes at the gate for several hours with no food or water. That would be a start. Or when weather shuts down an airport, and you strand thousands there to get your schedule back on track, you do something for them? Something more substantial than giving them a toothbrush and a t-shirt to sleep in if they choose to pay for a hotel room because even though you chose to strand them there, it was originally the weathers fault so you tell them you won't cover the room. But hey you saved $60. Good job. And while your at it, tell your baggage handlers that they are not trying out for the Olympic luggage hurling team. I left 3 days ago for Florida with a brand new suitcase. I got it back 3 days later and it looked like they threw it out at 10,000 feet to lighten the load and had someone pick it up and drag it it back on a leash tied to a car bumper. This thing is hosed. Do I need to insure my luggage so I can get slightly less screwed so you don't have to force your luggage monkeys to be more careful with other people's property?

Really. What has happened to the industry as a whole? Deep seated organizational, regulatory and cultural issues from top to bottom. Someone help them please, before we accidentally waste m0ore tax dollars on them.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Why you shouldn't trust the right, and why they use you.

I am no fan of the American left. Trust me when I say that. I'm not down with the nanny state mentality and how it seeks to rob your freedom of choice. I'm not for peacefully cooperating with people who think they can actually open dialogue with the puppet governments of states that sponsor terrorism. I really hate that I'm o.k, you're o.k crap. Or other people acting in my best interest trying to save me from myself by gradually eroding my freedoms and liberties for my supposed "protection".

All that being said, if I hate the left I should love the right, right? Wrong. This is most people's incorrect assumption that you have to support one or the other. We all tend to want to be part of the winning team. But we assume there are only two teams in the game, and ignore the fact that the game is rigged by the two teams so that no one else can play.

Why must I support the right, if I don't support the left? Is one really any better than the other? Our current duopoly controls the whole pie. Once in a while one side or the other gets a bigger slice, but the same two people eat it every time. Is that fair? Are we not entitled to more than two choices? I wouldn't keep going to the same place two eat if they only had two items on the menu, one that gave me heartburn, the other gas.

So back to the right. Why do all republicans think that their party is the only logical choice? As I see it the difference is this: I hate the left because it tries to be my master, and I hate the right because they slowly try to sell me into slavery so they can make a buck.

That's not all there is. I hate the overbearing use of christian dogma as a form of control. What makes the religious right so morally pure that they can actually think it is okay to wage war and destroy an entire country, just because the Commander and Chief told everyone that Jesus said its okay. And they all march blindly along with it, because they have to oppose whatever the left stands for. Again, duopoly in action. Think about that. Your entire system of moral and political principle is entirely based on just doing the exact opposite of whatever your "opponent" does. No common sense, no compromise, no free will. Just oppose.

Of course, its not that simple. The truth of the matter is masked from you. If the current president makes a decision, you are basically told how to feel right from the start. They take what he says, edit out the context, add their own, create some talking points, stir in some easily recognizable pundits and viola. They form an opinion for you. And whatever that opinion is, will surprisingly be directly in opposition with the other side. And you readily agree because the constant barrage of dissent tells you that no matter how many decisions he makes, how well informed, or well intentioned he is, the President is always, 100% of the time wrong. Now common sense will tell you that this is not possible, but it has to be. Otherwise the Republican party can't be right.

Another thing I hate,is the way the right tries to legislate my morality. Aren't we supposed to be a country based on freedom? Nothing is more satisfying to me than turning on the T.V and seeing yet another member of the party that claims to represent moral goodness, and all that is godly and just, caught with a mistress, or addicted to painkillers, or playing footsie under an airport bathroom stall. I love it. The right sets itself upon so high a pillar, that when they tip and fall they shatter.

Don't tell me how to live my life. Don't tell me what is right. That is for me to decide. Republicans are all about suffering, denial and repression. You can't smoke pot in the privacy of your own home, because drugs are bad. But you can drink, and smoke cigarettes. Because the Alcohol and tobacco lobbies pay them a lot of money. Military service among the right is like a badge of honor. But then they disrespect everyone wearing a uniform by hiring contractors and waging war for profit. Profits made by companies most of them own stakes in. Ask an enlisted Marine how proud he/she is to serve our country for $30,000 or less a year in some mid-east meat grinder. The look at the fact that the lunch they were just served was prepared by some third party national making minimum wage, while the company that hired him billed the crap out of the U.S. for it.

Let's talk family values. I'm all for the stable family unit. But don't talk to me about the definition of marriage when you are keeping a South American mistress on the side. Or sleeping with pages, aides, secretaries, campaign workers, or random strangers you met in a dimly lit park.

Take a good look at your party. Look past all the spin, the talking points, and the barrage of commercials paid for by "friends" of someone. Its all an illusion. A lie. A trick to make you feel a little better about supporting them. Because in the end, they don't want you to look around and realize that there is another choice. There is always another choice. If you don't like choice A, that doesn't mean you have to go with B. This is America. Wake up. Make your own. Just because you are not on the winning side, does not mean you still can't be in the fight. Sometimes that's all that matters.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Here once again...

I'm going to pose a question.

Name one thing that our state or Federal government does well. Take a moment and really think. If your answer is anything other than spend our money, please by all means tell me what it is. I have to see this miracle of legislation.

Notice, I said "spend our money". I didn't say spend our money well, or spend it efficiently, or wisely. I simply said spend our money. Think about that. We happily pay the salaries of everyone in those giant buildings in DC, or your state capital. And what do we get back? Can the money you ever spend in taxes, ever get you anything other than a negative return?

Think about that, I said a negative return. You wouldn't happily pay on average 20% of your income to someone to invest if you had to pay a 20-30% commission would you?

You pay tax on everything. Gas, food, death, your house, and then fees for everything else. Your tax dollars go from local to state to federal coffers. Only to have a watered down portion maybe return to your state to fund whatever project is deemed critical. So just to use an example, New york in total pays 10 Billion dollars a year in taxes. This is not a real don't start bitching about facts. Out of that 10 billion, how much comes back? Right off the bat take out all of the overhead at the federal level. Whatever program gave New York the money has people that are getting paid, so they get their cut. Don't forget about oversight. Somewhere in the vast federal ranks exists a group of people who get paid to ensure that money is wisely spent. Now go down to the state and repeat the process. Now lets say congress was extra generous and set aside 2 billion dollars for New York. Out of that 2 billion how much actually gets spent on what it is intended for?

Could we not save a few bucks by keeping as much money as possible at the state level? That would mean we would have more money to go around. And it would ensure that when New York pays that 10 Billion, part of it doesn't get siphoned off to another state due to that state having a more powerful senator.

Our country was founded with strong state governments for just that purpose. The federal government should not be taking money under the guise of responsibility for something the state is set up to handle in the first place. All it becomes is an excuse to create more federal jobs and more red tape.

Medicare is the best example of this that I can see. Every state doesn't even pay the same. I think New York pays almost twice as much for medicare as most other states. How is that equitable? If all of the money that New Yorkers paid for Medicare stayed in the state, we wouldn't have these medicare balloon payments that pop up every so often forcing the state to shaft the local governments to make it up.

You may seem to get from this post that I am no fan of government. I am not, never have been, and never will be. And neither should you. You should never, ever say your government is doing a good job. They use that as a license to steal. The call it"public mandate".

My vision of government is simple. It should be run like a business. Sure it should not try to profit off the taxpayers. But a business runs smart, it seeks the best product for its dollar, and seeks to provide the best service at the lowest cost. Our government operates for profit. Don't believe me? So how come the government can vote itself a pay raise? You know, just like a board of directors? They profit from our taxes, because we pay their salary. And if you don't think they profit in other ways, then you explain to me how someone with a salary of $174,000 for what amounts to essentially a part time job (Congress gets a lot of breaks), are millionaires. Not just like 2-3 million, but 15 million and up. Lets assume that they made $174,000 a year for 20 years and paid no taxes whatsoever out of that. That amounts to 3.4 million. Where did the rest come from? They started businesses to profit from their influence, they take money from special interests, leftover money from election campaigns, they right books, get t.v appearances. All of this money is generated and made possible by the salary that we pay them.

If you don't think they do this, you are the dumbest person alive. We should pay them almost nothing, except a stipend to pay their staffs. They all like to preach about how they enjoy public service. So, serve the public. They make enough money y virtue of the advantage their position provides. If your steel mill is having problems with the EPA, are you gong to hire a lawyer down the street? Or would you hire the firm that has a partner who sits on the Senate Committee that oversees the Superfund?

In 1885 we paid congress $3,000 a year. Adjust that for inflation and see where you stand. They weren't the equivalent of millionaires back then.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Back in the saddle...

Its been a long and interesting year. We have seen up close and personal, how "Politics" has destroyed our system of government, and over time has slowly changed what our standards and expectations are when it comes to our elected officials.

We have also seen the blatant, partisan side taking by mainstream media. That scares me more than anything. Tim and Rachel over at MSNBC continue to perform as resident apologists for the current administration, while still dragging the over-whipped, dead horse of the Bush/Cheney legacy around. Our good friends over at Fox news, continue to behave as if the GOP is still a bunch of morally true, grassroots, founding father clones who are not in bed with every corporate special interest. Hell, they even tried to hijack the Tea party folks. I don't think they understand just what a bumpy ride it will be once those banner toting activists realize that Haliburton bought the coffee for the latest meeting.

Now we sit back and spend, get ready........700 million dollars of taxpayer money a day. And not on stuff we need. Its all spent on stuff that other people say we need. Usually because someone pays them to say we need it. Cash for clunkers is the best example. In an obvious move to pay off all the good folks in organized labor, Obama fired the head of Chrysler, and put that under-educated puppet in place to run one of the big 3 auto makers. They then proceeded to sell off the company to the Union, thus ensuring that future collective bargaining will surely always be in the union's favor. Because we all know that paying someone with a GED more money than a police officer just to screw lug nuts on cars will never have anything to do with why 2 million models of a particular car cost that much. It must be the $7 million dollar bonus that drove the price of each car up by thousands of dollars. Can you follow my math here? So after we clean out every dealership that was a major republic donor, we then artificially inflated sales by paying people with taxpayer money to buy cars. Lo and behold the industry reported that sales were up, so we can expect to see this move again when the unions get in trouble.

Then we decided to put a TARP over the economy. Better out of site and out of mind. And what better way to hide something than by sticking it behind A GIANT PILE OF OUR MONEY. All of that money, which got ear marked to a lot of special peoples special projects still didn't help. Now according to every expert I have heard speak, this entire financial boondoggle was caused by the toxic mortgage assets that were packaged and resold as securities. Now for that to be true, we have to assume that every single mortgage in every single one of those securities is in default. Of course they aren't, and the banks could easily solve 40% of them be allowing people to refinance, or by having a 30/60/90 day moratorium on payments. But why? Congress needs that fictitious number in order to spend all that money. Let us not forget, the good folks who provide oversight of Fannie/Freddie were the ones who allowed the banks and other institutions to do this in the first place.

Now we have health care. The most obvious move that tells you that this is a total farce is Nebraska. That's right, Nebraska. In order to get one of the votes they needed, Senate Democrats payed off the Gentleman from Nebraska, by having the Federal government pay 100% of all of Nebraska's Medicare expenses. WTF? Really? Look, if you don't have health insurance, then you have 2 choices, get a job that offers it, or your income should be low enough that you can be picked up by a state program. I have health care, and I pay a lot for it. What really yanked my chain about the whole thing, is the public option. If we let the government provide health care, it will introduce competition into the market place. Really? So the HMO's can compete with the institution that has unlimited funding, no profit motive, and the force of law behind it? WOW. I didn't now that was fair. I'm going to apply that theory in reverse. I'm going to build some boats and introduce competition into the market, by creating my own private Navy. If this was not just an obvious attempt to buy votes, I don't know what is. Lets tax everyone a little more, and count on the fact that most voters are stupid enough to believe that the government run health care that they have, doesn't cost them anything. And of course those of us with health insurance can always elect to keep ours. So we can pay for it, and pay taxes to cover everyone who has the "public option".

One last thought. While she is so busy "Going rogue" can someone please tell Sarah Palin that she is not going to be President in 2012. She's nice and all in a folksy sort of way, but give it a rest. Are we really supposed to believe that every single move she makes right now is not planned and calculated by some strategist? Just shatter the idea now, so you don't ruin someone else's chances later. And can we fire whoever had the idea of putting an unknown first term governor from a sparsely populated state on the ticket?

Well, 2010 should be interesting, and I will make an effort to toss in my two cents as often as I can. For your part, if anything I write interests you, please subscribe and tell a friend. Even if only to post comments and argue. We have to keep the dialogue going, only because we can't trust the two party system to not manipulate facts for their own ends.