Jim's BLOG -- 2008
To : Marshalltown Commentary
Current and Prior Blogs
FDR inauguration took place on Saturday, March 4, 1933. .Executive Order 6102 was signed on April 5, 1933, thirty two days later,
"forbidding the Hoarding of Gold Coin, Gold Bullion, and Gold Certificates."
It required all persons to deliver on or before May 1, 1933 all gold coin, gold bullion, and gold certificates owned by them to the Federal Reserve.
Massive government spendings must be paid with taxes. Are there
other sources of money? (2) The U.S. government devalued the U.S. dollar by 41% in 1934; this decreased the value of all savings. (3) Inflation, the average inflation rate since gold was devalued has been 3.9%. ( But only 2.4% for last decade Carter mismanagement years was 10.7%. ) Inflation has the effect of raising prices and destroying savings by that amount. (4) War Bonds -- citizens loan money to the government at 4% while WW2 inflation averaged 5.6%; a gift of 1.6% by citizens. (5) National Sales Tax. A tax by any other name is still a tax, raising personal costs and reducing standard of living.
(6) Billions of retirement dollars exist in clearly identified IRA accounts reported to the government. Money hunters go where the money is. Compensation would be in the form of social security. But isn't the Social Security system bankrupt already? Which brings
us to (7) Default on government obligations and reduction of S.S., etc. This would not occur, the
government can print money. The effect is (3.) Inflation) above.
How secure is your retire fund?
Legislation required banks to grant mortgages to unqualified people .
This social extravagant led to a collapse of previously reliabilable mortgage backed securities.
When this error reached a critical point, savings and retirement funds were decimated and a world-wide depression resulted. Legislative social excess concerning immigration will cause collapse of state and local governments. California, a center for immigration, is now bankrupt. What does this mean -- taxpayers, ie.real people, will have their taxes increased and standard of living fall. We have already seen many measurements of the nation fall -- health, crime, education, morphology, and longevity issues.
The impact is not always obvious. Unhealthy arrivals require public medical services. On the surface, tax money goes to improving the well being of people. It also cause taxes to go up. It returns risk from diseases previously eliminated from the nation. It causes additional personal and public expense for medical security. It cause reduces life expectancy . It cause insurance rates to go up.
If humanitarian legislation is carried to a logical end and the wealth of nations extended globally,
the US standard of living will fall from $48,000 per person to $10,500 That is, 80% of your money will go
to provide equal services to the world. There is no free lunch -- to legislate improvements for others is to be paid by us.
The British want their guns back.
Boom and Bust
The nature of capitalism is investment in profitable ventures. Enthusiasm can lead to
a boom, eventually to over expansion, a bubble, followed by a bust or a return to a more stable condition, tho at higher level than before. To control the
extremes of boom and bust cycles, governments issue and withdraw money. control interest rates
and regulate through taxation.
The ultimate in government control is state ownership, centralized planning, or communism in which there is no profit in ventures, no development, and stagnation at the lowest sustainable level. Over enthusiasm for
stability and control leads to a first a cowed people and then revolution by those desiring freedom.
Billions to the Auto Companies.
The government is giving (lending) $17.4B to two failing auto companies with more promised for April. The idea is
to pay for the lack of production during this recession. Would it not be better to give gift cards to
each tax payer towards purchase of a new American car. This would put the same money into the
auto companies, but also to allow workers to earn their pay, suppliers to provide parts, and local dealerships to do business. Plus it would put new cars in the hands of the taxpayers. And would let the free market determine
which companies are doing the best job. This adds five very useful benefits that the money going into
the auto companies general fund -- including bonuses to those who conned the congress and executive into handing them money -- does not.
Define corruption. The President decided that $700 billion was required to forestall a problem. The Congress decided it was wrong. They "negotiated" payment of a 20% bribe of "pork". Now instead of a $700B waste, there is a $840B lost to the taxpayer. Is this pure corruption, graft? Is it something fundamentally wrong in the American system? This is behavior that we "tut-tut" about when we see it
in other nations or Chicago. It is fundamentally a human flaw?
A house purchased with a down payment of less than 20% and a conventional loan (not FHA or VA), requires(-ed) Private Mortgage Insurance to protect the lender against the higher risk that the loan will default. Why is the government bailing out banks and people without insurance? We heard the stories
for years of banks afraid to turn down loans to privileged poor. Did this extend to waving insurance protection?
Can we have sympathy for anybody involved in this foolishness? This includes Congress, banks, and unqualified borrowers. Should home buyers who been living above their means for years have their living space subsidized by sensible taxpayers who lived a less elegant lifestyle? Should banks and investors who traded in unsound mortgage backed securities by bailed out from their unreasonable business practices?
The solar powered car just completed a 32,000 mile drive around the world. Sponsored as
a vehicle of zero emissions for environmental benefit, I see it as a way to get out from under the oil cartel.
Seizure of 401K.
An option being circulated in the Democrat circles of the new administration is interesting.
Remember that Republicans wanted to let you put your retirement finds into private hands, ie, you would put the
tax advantaged money into mutual funds, where your retirement wealth would be funded by the national economy.
With the collapse of the stock market, this plan is dead and the reverse is being proposed. The government would
save your retirement by converting all 401K and similar funds into US Treasure Bills paying a "secure" 3%.
On retirement, you would be granted an annuity. On death
the balance reverts to the government, that is the government become the beneficiary of your retirement account
The qualification of treasury bills being secure is that with the massive amounts of government borrowing
to bailout the recent financial crisis, stimulus payments to the public, and expected new government welfare programs,
the nation will have to print money. (The other option is raise taxes, a political no-no.) Printing money is easy to do, but brings inflation,
that is, the more dollars printed ,the less valuable each becomes.
Inflation will take away part of the 3% T-Bill earnings, taxes take another part, and inflation has in the past (Carter Administration) has
exceeded 10% This means that your guaranteed 3% earnings, is really a loss of 7% to you of each dollar taken into the government retirement plan.
Hint : anyone concerned about this should transfer money from their corporate IRA and roll it over into
a private IRA account where it will be managed by you in a good mutual fund -- growth, income, or fixed -- at your desecration and
where it will be more difficult for the government to seize, where you will get the income, and your estate will go to whomever you desire.
My essay on global warming -- the real cause, the difficulty of solution, recommendation
They must have know what they were doing to have picked Panama for the Canal. But the route from the Caribbean at the town of Colorado, Costa Rica, up the San Jaun River to Lake Nicaragua and then across the Rivas plain to the tourist town of San Juan De Sur seems similar in excavation to the Panama site and offering a net 500 mile shorter trip for shipping.
Many Gold Rush '49ers followed this path, 120 miles by steamboat upriver to San Carlos, 80 miles across the lake, and 20 miles by stage coach to the coast and on by ship to San Francisco
During the recent national election, the subject of race was suppressed, as it should be.
After the election, every media source heralded the results as a victory for race. If the press sees a racial victory, then they are race conscience, more so than the public, and the press did not cover what they believed was the major issue during the long campaign. Who then are the racists?
Weather Radio ; whither not.
On Sunday morning at 6:12 everyone in the Upper Mississippi Valley was shocked awake with the government provided emergency radio. A high wind will begin at 9:00 a.m. After turning
it off, the damn thing blasts again at 6:14 with the local forecast of breezes 15-20 mph, increasing to between 36 and 39 mph where winds could gust as high as 55 mph. This is rather typical day in a state that uses wind for energy.
Such winds actually arrived about noon. People could have completed their sleep before the warning. Can the government do nothing right? How many people will never hear a real tornado warning because they have trashed their emergency radio over nonsense such as this? This is by the same people who located that emergency radio transmitter on a flood plain, that flooded, so as not to be able to warn of flash floods of last Spring. Government : "Here to help you." Can we next expect an emergency warning to vote on Tuesday?
New American Way
If there was ever a reason for cynicism about the American way, then this period will serve as the bad example. "Everybody deserves a home," The government coerced the banks to lend to unqualified people in the guise of minority rights. The banks sold the risky paper to others who packaged them into a collection of mortgages. What could be more secure than to own a chunk of America? Historically there are a low percentage of foreclosures. Laws favor the home buyer such that foreclosure is also expensive to the lender. There is safely in owning a number of mortgages ; if even one percent failed, the rest would make up for it. But when several percent failed, the investment package did not earn a reasonable return, those becoming worthless on the books and the unthinking lender became bankrupt. All because the do-gooders think everybody deserves to own a house and money lenders did not think the market history had changed.
In the new era of government largess, two groups needed help -- unqualified home buyers and those who bought bad mortgages. The responsible people said, "No". The government chose to buy the votes of legislators with pork rather than find a better way. The total cost of bad government policy went up to the tax payer. What next ? -- To avoid raising taxes, the government will print money. The saving of responsible people will be taken as inflation such that a good set of people will bear the burden of government policy to help an unqualified set of people. There is reason for cynicism in what has become the new American way.
When the responsible majority of home buyers pay their mortgages, now to the government, what will happen to the money? Can we expect government to relieve the burden placed of taxpayers and to reduce inflation? This bonus money will be spent on other social needs -- after all, we have just shown that the costs of bad policy can be taken from good people.
Earning millions per picture and hundreds of thousands per episode , actors want more.
Greed is not limited to Wall Street and sports. Is there a difference between success and value?
I have called and/or written to my three congressmen as follows:
If the government will get its money back from the bailout,
then it should be done by private enterprise.
Else, if we will not get out money back, then don't do it.
I am a responsible person who paid my mortgage, bills, and taxes.
Printing press money to pay for the bailout will cause inflation and
wipe out my retirement that I have spent a lifetime to build.
How will the financial bailout be paid? Two choices, raise taxes or print money. Nobody likes taxes, whereas printing money press allows spending now and it takes a while until the bad effects are felt and the offending politicians have been forgotten. Prepare for inflation -- this is a tax upon fixed incomes such as pensions, savings, and bonds.
Father Christmas world-wide
Foreign banks will be able to unload bad financial assets under a $700 billion U.S. proposal ... "because ... if a financial institution has business operations in the United States, hires people in the United States, if they are clogged with illiquid assets, they have the same impact on the American people as any other institution," I wonder if these are the same people that are located off-shore to avoid paying US taxes?
I have complained in the past that the news media seeks the negative side of everything -- to be news it must be bad. A sports reporter last night has taken this to heart. Every score of the long list he read was cast in the negative. Arizona was defeated by Georgia ,Tennessee was swamped by Florida , Buffalo was beaten by Missouri , Rice went down before Texas , . . . Not one victory or win in the whole list. Only defeats.
Before the Ice
Archaeologists are having a field day finding objects dating as far back as the Neolithic to the later Bronze and Iron Ages and the Medieval era in former ice fields. The earth warms and it cools. Mankind has lived in all climates. All in all, warm is preferred, but an occasional freeze is required to weed out the weak. I am not sure the recent cool period
was long enough.
Why are we told that we are losing glaciers and not gaining land?
Answer : news to be news must be bad. The idea permeates society -- have you ever noticed that baseball reports "errors", not "spectaculars".
I used to send the local paper to prospective new hires, but stopped from embarrassment
that nothing positive appeared on the front pages ( virtually every front page picture for months was of an auto accident ) -- there was nothing presented to recommend people to come to what we knew to be a wonderful town.
Some say that drilling for oil of the East and West Coasts, as we now do in the Gulf, would not
effect the price of gasoline. But a hurricane warning cause a temporary halt to production, notice that prices to go up. Can one then assume that greater production will cause prices to go down, or at least not go up as fast?
The people who did not start us on the road to energy independent twenty years ago now want to delay action for more decades.
DTV is better television?
With an antenna we can receive 11 channels of varying quality:-- 2, 5, 7, 8, 9,11,13,17, 23,,28, 39. Many are doubled up, so that we receive well seven different networks -- ABC, CBS, IPTV, NBC, Fox, CW, ION.
With digital we have again 11 channels with varying quality,-- two are new weather channels, two duplicate on two channels (one letterbox, widescreen and one full screen); and public TV has three channels (that seem to time-shift the same fare) altho seldom are all received at the same time ; frequently all three have "no signal".
Thus we have only two reliable networks, we are losing two full networks,and get two more only intermittently, dependent on weather or something. The seventh is not yet broadcasting digital so we don't know about our movie channel.
Not much of a benefit for this government sponsored "better television" -- providing only about half the TV choices we currently enjoy.
Also we have five TV radios stationed around the house to follow TV shows while working on other things. I enquired, these become junk in February. Thanks guys.
By setting precedents of paying families who had someone in the wrong place at the wrong time,
of rebuilding housing for those who chose to live below sea level, by subsidizing those who have been living in housing beyond their means, -- what have we set ourselves up for when those who live in an earthquake zone find that California has shaken itself into the ocean?
Foreign Travel is Broadening
A tourist trip through nine countries in nine days generates exhaustion and gives talking points over cocktails.
Does not generate foreign affairs wisdom for either a tourist or for a previously uninterested presidential candidate?
Dumb Statement of the Day
"The minimum wage has increased today and it couldn't come at a better time as prices are going up."
Yes, prices are going up in part because of inflationary rise in wages. Fuel prices may come back down, wages never will.
There is a fact of statistics that applies and is always available for groups lobbying for increased anything --
the (subject area) ranks (below average) in (some condition) for (interest group). "The state ranks 30th in salary of teachers" . The idea is that raising the state salary for teachers will result in equity. It fact, the result in an increase in the average that will perpetuate the feeling of inequity, thus creating an ongoing demand for even more to "catch-up".
Those entities at the very bottom of the ranking, by granting an increase will further increase the averages. Those at the top, high cost states, will be compelled to increase to remain competitive and further raise the averages. There is no end to this cycle.
But is anybody hurt by this continual increase? How about tax payers, those paying for anything, those with savings, and those without a lobby group?
Why is it "green" to not drill for oil in the barren wilderness in Alaska
or in the ocean outside the 12 mile limit, yet it is okay to drill for oil within the 48 states where we live?
To maintain the pristine conditions
there makes one think of trying to keep an innocent image of Britney Spears ; we are never going to personally interact with any of them.
Another illogical idea. Don't drill now because the help it offers will be several years in the future, not effecting our high prices in 2008. Are we not going to be around in 2010, 11, 12? We lament today that no actions were taken in the last decades that led to today's troubles. Put off till tomorrow ! Sure.
The Supreme Court has upheld the right of citizens to not fear their government. The purpose of guns is not hunting, but to cause the government to treat the citizenship with respect. A bit of gun history.
Those contributing to a free market have a right to make policy for the good of the nation.
Payment of taxes from earnings in the private sector should be a requirement for voting. People living off of the government should not be allowed to vote more gifts for themselves. Government employees, teachers included, should not be permitted to grow their powers of controlling freedom and influencing policy. Everybody should be encouraged to participate in the productive economy and learn its values.
100 MPG Car Race
A project of the X PRIZE Foundation is to build a production-capable, 100 MPG vehicles that people will want to buy by meeting needs of price, size, capability, safety and performance. Winners of the $10 million prize will exceed 100 MPG fuel economy, with strict emissions caps and finish in the fastest time. The cross country stage race will begin in New York City in September 2009, and will continue in nine other major U.S. cities. Each stage race will feature a driving competition over city, suburban and rural roads between 30 and 200 miles in length. The Qualifying and Final Races of the competition will conclude in 2010. To date, 94 teams from 14 countries and 24 states have signed up -- established auto makers from round the world as well as start-ups.
Lists/photos at X Prize Cars and links at Wiki X Prize.
Feds Probe Deadly Chopper Collision
Why does this headline lead with "Feds" as if they are the only ones interested?
The reason is two fold. One, federal agencies are well funded to give good news releases to reporters to file without effort. Second, it makes the reporter sound as if reporting on a national scale. This reduces to laziness on the part of reporters and of headline writers who just copy the template from earlier stories. It also carries the risk of seeming as if the feds and only the feds can address any issue of interest to the people -- an attitude directly supportive of the big brother concept of government. Most reporters think this is all right, so laziness leading to big government is the winner. Feds probe . . . (anything that happens).
Resident in 30 days
Idaho Supreme Court ruled that local tax payers must pay when an illegal resident incurred more than $187,000 in medical bills. The solution to the Idaho 30-days-and-you-are-a-resident rule - - raids every 28 days. Include the entire family.
Aren't you getting tired of the sob stories of illegal wives left behind when illegal husbands are sent home?
Children hold the citizenship of their parents ; accident or design of birthplace is not the criterion. Loyalty is in the Constitutional criteria.
The Federal Emergency Radio station has not allowed a full nights sleep lately with alarms announcing severe thunderstorms, high wind, tornado watches and warnings, flash floods. After a good night's sleep, one turned on the emergency radio to static. It seems the emergency radio station has been shut down due to flooding.
An example of great planning.
Really Renewable Energy
Alcohol is considered renewable because corn can be grown every year. But what about really renewable? Look at toys as a way to provide motion without burning fuel -- rubber bands, springs, flywheel, baking soda and vinegar, and sails come immediately to mind. A company in India has created compressed air powered cars, it takes only a couple bucks to fill the air tanks for
125 miles of travel that would cost $20 for gasoline. The idea of energy storage is now limited to batteries. We have to broaden our imagination. The price of oil may continue to rise, whereas technology generally reduces future costs.
Malthus is right.
The world is entering a period of food shortage. Malthus once predicted that because population grow exponentially and food production grew linearly, that demand and supply would diverge creating famine. This prediction did not come to pass for many decades because the Green Revolution increased crop yields, technology provided water, China heeded his advice, and urbanization reduced population growth. Meanwhile public health has increased survival of births, reduced disease to extend the life expectancy of age, and deaths have been reduced from plagues and wars such that world population is increasing ever faster, and unfortunately, among the least productive populations. Ground water has been depleted thereby expanding deserts from feet per year to miles. Increasing population with reduced resources call for something to happen, else the rules of arithmetic suggest dire things.
There is no good candidates for president. An unAmerican man of no qualifications except skin color, an amoral woman, and a rebel without a cause except to continue on. And if the last selects the preacher rather than the businessman as running mate, then we will have to scan the third, fourth and fifth parties of somebody to vote for. You can't complain if you have not voted, and I intend to complain.
How much is a job worth?
Monsanto awarded $7.5 million to provide 47 jobs and offer 700 seasonal jobs.
We can assume that the seasonal jobs are a few weeks at minimum wage to detassle corn for students and immigrants that pay minimum taxes. Lets go wild and pretend they are ten-week summer jobs, equivalent to 200 real jobs, then the gift is $37,500 per job. Corporations expect a two to four year payback life from any spending. This makes the gift equal to $12,500 per job. There is more going on here than meets the eye. We wonder if any of it is of benefit to the tax payer.
Giant Coal Fired Power Plant.
I was neutral on this until an electric rate increase was announced to pay for it. It the project won't pay for itself, then don't do it. The townspeople are going to suffer the congestion and collateral costs of construction and live with a permanently dirtier environment. I was willing to accept that, it has to go somewhere, but to suffer the inconvenience, the health risks, but then to pay for it, too. Count me out.
Gasoline or Food?
Unintended consequences of grain alcohol replacing oil/gasoline -- World Bank reports food prices up 75% since turn of the century. With prices of corn ski rocketing, up 40% in the last four months; wheat to 3 times in the last 18 months as demand eliminated stocks; now, international rice is being priced out of
3rd world affordability, three times the price five years ago. "When the price of rice rises, governments fall." Several Asian exporters have weather/production problems and Asian and African countries are (further) in trouble with their people. There is less world reserve of food stocks.
Discovery of America
John Real and Didrik Pining discovered the new world twenty years before Columbus. Why don't we know much about it?
The king of Portugal sponsored, and the king of Denmark provided, three ships and crew for two voyages to the North Atlantic. The first, 1471, went to see Greenland whose colony had died out forty years before. The second, 1472 ran into ice (Little ice age, 1315-1850) and was blown south to Newfoundland. The voyage was not succeeded in finding the sought passage to Asia and the trips were kept secret from their rival, Spain. Portugal proceeded south to find a path round Africa, while Spain sailed west to the find the Caribbean which resulted in a land rush to the new world. After Portugal had made great wealth from Indian Ocean trade, a new king sent the sons of Joćo Vaz Corte-Real on three annual voyages, starting 1500, to again seek a shorter route to Asia. They discovered both Labrador and Newfound and brought back 50 natives. But the ice had not melted and there was nothing to draw attention to the discovery by the father, with a Danish fleet captained by Pining, almost thirty years earlier.
US will be moving 17,000 Marines and family members from Okinawa, Japan, to Guam about 2014, spending over $10 Billion on infrastructure. I take exception to issues related to Okinawa. The press likes to say we retain 17,000 troops in occupied Japan. In fact they
are not in Japan but on a island 400 miles from Japan. The signing
on the USS Missouri acknowledged Japan as four main islands and such
adjacent islands as the US determines. Okinawa was once a US coaling
station after the Civil War. Then Japan invaded that kingdom over a
hundred years ago, like they did Korea. Okinawa was site of a major WW2 battle
and became a large US Marine base. Later, the US made a GIFT of Okinawa
to Japan for support in the Korean War with acknowledgement of the US base.
Historic revisionists say the US has occupation troops in Japan -- how wrong. But, it worked,
the US is now "forced" to "remove" these troops to a smaller, more remote, and more
Snow is deep in March and we are changing the clock to summer time.
We will "spring forward" into the dark to get up an hour earlier, turning the furnace on earlier, and get home in time to enjoy an extra hour of evening. But we will have to go to bed earlier to get the same 8 hours sleep. Where is the extra hour?
Daylight Saving Time now covers 2/3s of our calendar, we have essentially moved one time zone west. In November we will move the clock back to our official time zone. If moving west is a good idea, should we move two time zones? Or just change one time zone and stay there all year? Or call
the months between November and March, "winter reduction time". Getting up an hour earlier in March does not lead to an outdoor BarBQ dinner. The idea, according to our Congress, is
to save electricity by getting up in the dark and spending our evenings with sunlight. However, the idea and data is old, from pre-air conditioning era. The biggest energy cost today is heating and cooling, not lighting, and the effect is to spend the "extra" hour with the air conditioning in summer and with heat on in winter using up more energy that is saved in lighting.
Majority of Muslims
Gallup World Poll made survey to show Muslims are peaceful; found about 93 percent of the world's 1.3 billion Muslims are moderates. That is, only seven percent are politically radical. ONLY!!! That makes 91 million fanatics who want us dead.
Drudge Breaks News Blackout
Editors have been sworn to secrecy over Prince Harry being sent to fight in Afghanistan three months ago. Drudge has blown their cover. One wonders whether readers will ever want to trust that Drudge is a human again. It is disgusting to raise the risk of lives for gossip points.
Our elected leaders seek to borrow billions of dollars from China, give it away so that people can buy Japanese electronics, and thereby further indebt our government to two foreign powers. The future ? These IOUs will be used to buy up American businesses and send the profits back home to Asia. Add to this the ongoing interest payments we must pay on our debt to them, long after the stimulus items are gone, and those countries can come back to buy ever more of our country. Does this epitomizes a flaw in government?
Solution to new disease
A new, highly drug-resistant strain of Staphylococcus (MRSA), is now spreading among gay men; "this is a national problem, and San Francisco is at the epicenter," researchers report. In the case of Mad Cow disease, the control is to dispose of the infected individuals and all associated with those infected. Well?
U.K. Passes U.S. in Standard of Living
The former sick state in Europe has passed that of France, Germany, and the United States.
Good work by the Brits who have more freedom in their economy than most of Europe. Passing the US is in part by the fall of the dollar, but also by the influx of lower classes into the US lowering the per capita numbers and absorbing wealth created by an industrious society. As Willy Sutton says, go where the money is. Or, the free services.
Prior Blog - 2007
Prior Blog - 2006