SEPTEMBER 26, 2010 TO NOVEMBER 30, 2010


"The Pawn Stars" from the left, Big Hoss, Rick, and the Old Man


Entry Date: November 30, 2010

We'll be into December starting tomorrow. There's nothing that can be done about it. The days will keep getting shorter until about December 22nd. After that, we will start gaining again, about a minute every day. It really won't take long, those of you who groan when this cycle starts. I recently remembered one of the few memories I have from before I started First Grade. I was the first to wake up in our first house in Parker. We had learned a song in Methodist Sunday school about the tax collector Zacheaus who climbed a sycamore tree to see Jesus walk by as Zacheaus was a short man. That song was running through my mind as I sat alone in the living room listening to a train running through the early morning darkness. That happened over a half century ago and it seems like a few seconds to me now. Winter won't take too long to get through.


November 15,2010

I don't usually give out make-up tips to the feminine members of the readership, but I finally watched the first episode of AMC's Walking Dead out of curiosity tonight. An actress named Sarah Callies plays the wife of the protagonist, a Sheriff named Rick Lincoln, who is hiding out on the outskirts of Atlanta, Georgia from the zombies. This little band lives in campers and tents in the woods with zombies dominating the city and a few wandering around the countryside. The thing is, she was wearing mascara and eyeshadow. I suppose a woman should always look her best, even when she is in danger of being the main course of a zombie picnic, but it struck me as strange. Of course something came to me as I noticed the blue-gray color of her eyelids. Covergirl could change their ad slogan. Drew Barrymore could show off her eyes with her voice over saying, "Easy, breezy, undead Covergirl."


November 12, 2010

It is hard to maintain even the most casual of friendships or acquaintances when you have to keep the kind of schedule I did from October 2007 until December 2009. It got so bad that the management at my apartment building started chafing at the fact that I was rarely there as a good part of every weekend and day off had to be spent at my mother's former residence and visiting at her new one. Well, I lost contact with a friend of mine during that period. I ran into her today while at work, locally for a change. In fact, it was at the "client" that provided the parking space for my all the fishing outings I posted about this summer. I had to look twice to realize who she was. It was one of those, "I KNOW that person" moments. I think she had to do the same, and then we didn't really say anything to each other. There's been no time since everything was over to try to look her up and explain what was going on that prevented my usual comings and goings. It'll just have to simmer until an opportunity presents itself. Right now, I think she's going through one of those, "I must have done something wrong" things, and that just wasn't the case. Things happened too fast and time went by. Almost three years flew by and everyone changes. Hopefully, this will get cleared up just as all the work at my actual residence has been slowly getting caught up.


Entry Date: November 11, 2010

"Luke, I am your mortgage banker!"

The G-20 nations are meeting as I type this, but before that meeting there was a celebration on Jekyll Island, Georgia. It was an anniversary of the creation of the Federal Reserve System, and former Chairman Alan Greenspan was there along with his successor, Benjamin Bernanke. Greenspan said something very interesting, which reflected something I wrote on the FYI page in the other section of this Web site back in May of this year. A lot of our banking and finance problems today are the results of fraud. Yes, Alan Greenspan said the "F" word and was videotaped saying it. Bernanke looked like he was going to freak out when Greenspan let it all hang out. After all, no one has gone to jail for any of this. How did the scheme work?

First, the bank makes terrible mortgages to anyone who asks for one, using the excuse of the Community Reinvestment Act which was aimed at eliminating the "red lining" of selected neighborhoods. In fact, they make so many bad mortgages, and make them so fast, the banks have to farm out the paper work to servicing companies that have a hard time hiring people with any knowledge of putting the paperwork together. What the heck? What do the bankers care if the paperwork is right? They took all of those mortgages, packaged them up into "mortgage-backed securities" (As if a DEBT instrument is collateral--Think about that one awhile.) and sold them all over the world to gullible investors. This means the banks got the money right away and didn't have to worry about the debtor ever paying off the mortgage after selling the mortgages to make the securities. On top of this, the banks packaged up some derivatives, which are something like casino betting slips. The "investor" (bettor) holding the derivative gets paid off in the event that a specific event takes place. In this case, they bet that the debtors responsible for paying the mortgages would default. Many of them did. When that happened, it was another pay day. On top of that, some of them held Congress hostage to get $750 billion dollars in bail-outs. When Congress told the bankers they would have to discuss it, the market got crashed. Congress coughed up the dough.

Being "too big to fail" means never having to say you're sorry.


Entry Date: November 9, 2010

With Veterans' Day this week, it seemed fitting to discuss, for just a bit, one thing veterans are always praised for defending, our "rights." In the earlier days of the Internet, I encountered some individuals in discussion forums about the subject of rights. The forums being political in nature, a high number of the posters were thinking more about how their party would do in the next election than principles of law and government. Some would actually speak with disdain toward those more concerned with individual rights when those concerns might just put their party, or favorite office holder, in a bad light. If their guy was President, bringing up bad weather wasn't a good idea as some of them would think you were campaigning against is reelection. The discussions about "rights" challenged me to come up with a basic idea about why they were important, and exactly what the word "rights" means. Here is the conclusion that came to me. Rights and justice are related. When we respect the rights of others, we behave in a just manner. Doing justice means upholding the rights of others. Where no one's rights are respected, there is no justice. One is the product of the other. To deprive another of their rights is to commit an injustice against them. So, when someone fights for their rights, or the rights of others, they are fighting for justice at one and the same time. The two are intertwined. That's about as far as I've gotten so far, except all you need to have a just society is to respect the rights of others as you want yours respected. It really is that simple.


Entry Date: November 7, 2010

Here is where we are financially: this country is in an interest rate trap as far as financing the massive debt and financing our current period deficit. Should the Chinese government choose to not by US Treasury debt instruments, it's either raise interest rates to attract other countries, individuals, and entities to buy the debt instruments, or the Federal Reserve starts buying the debt instruments, or we go bankrupt. As far as raising interest rates is concerned, that will add to the current account deficit, which will increase pressure to "get a handle on spending" and/or raise taxes. Interest on the debt is the largest portion of the federal budget. Increased interest rates causes a rise in the deficit unless spending is cut and/or taxes raised without hurting job creation. So, the dilemma is that the federal government has to attract money to pay the interest on the debt., but they can't raise interest rates to do it without compounding their problem, which is OUR problem. When you can neither raise nor lower interest rates to have a positive effect on the economy, you are in an interest rate trap. The Federal Reserve is opting for "Quantitative Easing," or QE, which means the Fed is going to buy the paper. Commodity prices are already rising to compensate for this as the increased money supply will cause prices to rise. Been to the gas pump lately? Have you noted how the prices of gold and silver are rising? How are prices at the local supermarket? They will get higher.

How did we get here? There are a number of reasons, but the chief one is ignorance. We think we know things and we don't. We make our political choices on faulty ideas. One party is for the "little guy'" and the other is for "the rich." A politician makes lavish promises about how "government money" will be spent to the voters' advantage when there is no such thing as "government money." That money belongs to the people of the United States of America, not to the government. So, the politician is promising to take money from the voters, run it through Washington, and dribble it back. Nothing else happens. It is just a variation of "trickle down." If direct checks had been given to the unemployed, rather than a stimulus program, one calculation was that each unemployed could have received $200,000. That is what I mean by "trickle down." We embrace parties because our parents, friends, or colleagues embrace that party, or we just like a certain "political celebrity" and vote for that politician. We confuse slogans, as I've posted about earlier, with meaningful thought, whether it is "Freedom isn't free" or "Do It for the Children" we think in Madison Avenue slogans and confuse them with wisdom. Bankruptcy and war have been the only results. Comedians make light about political corruption and thievery, and we laugh while some of the corrupt politicans manage to avoid justice, even becoming celebrities. We are distracted by nonsense stories in the media, obsessions with sports and other trivia which, combined with family responsibilities, leaves no time to educate ourselves about what constitutes good government.

Good Government--understanding what that means is the only way back for us. Good government is what we should seek out of every elected official and every bureaucrat, and we should insist on that standard. It shouldn't matter what party the candidate represents. The thing is, good government is a concept that is totally independent of political parties. Good government is good government, no matter who delivers it. It is up to the people to demand that. First, the people have to learn what good government is, and it is not what Sarah Palin or Barack Obama say it is. The concept of good government is something that is embedded into reality and existence, as written by the Creator of reality and existence,something like the way our individual physical selves are embedded within us in a code or language known as DNA. Good government is the same in any time or place. The problem is, it might just be too late for the people to get this.

Here's a start. In fiduciary, or agency law, the agent has to perform the agent's duties to the principal according to the standard of "the reasonably prudent person." When you have a real trust account, in a bank or independent trust company, you are the principal and the people managing the trust are your agents. The agent cannot act in a reckless or imprudent manner with your assets. If the agent behaves recklessly, the agent is liable for the losses of the principal. Start thinking about what "reasonably prudent" means and that is probably the best place to start.

We better hurry.


Entry Date: November 5, 2010

I think partisanship in this country has just gone completely insane. I thought it was bad when some registered Republican partisans were elated at Bush invading Iraq as that would be an "easy war" that would lead to GOP victories in the next several election cycles, thus relieving these "home team rooters" of the fear and dread of all those elections that enthralls them every two damn years. Well, it looks like some of the partisan Democrats in the media have decided to walk on over to the same Dark Side. Why waste time? Let the Washington Post's own David Broder dispense advice to President Obama how to get reelected by bombing another patsy country:

"Here is where Obama is likely to prevail. With strong Republican support in Congress for challenging Iran's ambition to become a nuclear power, he can spend much of 2011 and 2012 orchestrating a showdown with the mullahs. This will help him politically because the opposition party will be urging him on. And as tensions rise and we accelerate preparations for war, the economy will improve.

"I am not suggesting, of course, that the president incite a war to get reelected. But the nation will rally around Obama because Iran is the greatest threat to the world in the young century."

Broder is "not suggesting" that President Obama bomb the stuffing out of Iran just to get reelected, but this is right after he suggests that, "Here is where Obama is likely to prevail." Yes, Broder was suggesting that going to war with Iran is a way to improve the economy and get Obama reelected. Not only is this a depraved idea, and I thought that when some "conservative Republicans" were hoping for their easy Iraq war in 2003 for the same insane political reason, but it won't work anyway. We don't have enough domestic industry to get any economic benefit, and we've been fighting for ten years in Iraq and Afghanistan. All that did was put this country poised on the edge of the maw of bankruptcy. I warned the Republicans of bankruptcy in 2003 over the Iraq War and subsequent nation building expenses, and now I'm issuing the same warning to the Democrats who might be thinking the same way. Do yourselves a favor and forget about it. War of any kind right now will not achieve any desirable economic or political ends, and going to war for those reasons is just immoral as any sane person should know. Hasn't ten years of this kind of "war for the next election" crap been enough?


Entry Date: November 2, 2010

 The book by the late social commentator, Neil Postman, Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business, described some of the causes of a phenomenon I have encountered over the decades that I have described as "Thinking in Boxes." Postman took a critical look at how mass media, particularly television, presents information. Basically, each item of information is presented as an isolated or random event with no connection to any other event. As one reviewer on Amazon put it, one television presentation is not connected to the one following it. When looking at television news broadcasts, the different stories covered in less than 30 minutes are all presented as unconnected events, which I describe as "boxes." There is a box for Iraq, and a box for the economy, and a box for other stories. They are all treated as random, or unconnected events that have to be looked at separately. Interconnecting links that could tie some of the news stories into a coherent whole, is not done. Some people I have encountered in other fields would call this "focusing narrowly on a matter" in order to dispose of it more efficiently. Maybe in the future the matter can be revisited, and maybe any links with other events can be explored. Typically, they weren't, and any attempt to do so was discouraged. Some reviews refer to this ability to search for, and find, connections between events as "context." To not try to integrate an event into the totality of a person's experience is to lack context for what is happening in the world. It also inhibits the development of a flexible mind that can more readily apprehend an understanding of all the events that are now treated as random, or chance, happenings.

In education, the "information" provided to students is narrowed into speciality presentations fed to them in separate rooms by different instructors. It was during school years that I first perceived the "thinking in boxes" phenomenon. Each academic course is a box which is presented to the students in its own box, a classroom, and there are lines of demarcation between the different subjects that are never "permitted" to be crossed. English literature cannot inform biology. History cannot inform English literature. Computer programming cannot inform philosophy or law. We are supposed to think about each subject only when applying our minds to that one subject. Each subject is stuffed into a mental box and we go from box to box and never find any connections between them, including applying the tools we learn in one subject to help us to learn an "unrelated" subject. An example of this is the use of flowcharts to design computer programs. I once used flowcharts, which illustrate the movement of conditional statements, or conditional logic to the understanding of business and criminal law which consists of nothing more than the "If--Then--Else" reasoning of conditional logic. Many people looked at the legal flowcharts I drew and wondered why I didn't understand that it isn't "permitted" to use computer programming tools when trying to understand law. In other words, computer programming is in one box, and the law is in the other. No one is allowed to reach into one box, take something out of it, and put it in the other box. I scored 98% on the final law test and wrote some of my answers in Cobol programming's pseudocode, which I explained to the instructor prior to using it.

Neil Postman put a lot of the blame on television. Actually, all news media have presented news events in the form of boxes. Just look at a newspaper. Stories are separated into boxes, and you read the stories one box at a time. The medium of the newspaper is not conducive to trying to grasp the cause and effect that an event in one box has on an event in the other box. The news events are just random happenings. More investigative reporting might help people grasp the interconnections of events, but that isn't done too much anymore. When it takes 47 years for someone to find links between Lee Harvey Oswald and an owner the Texas School Book Depository in Dallas that extended back to 1955, it is difficult to refer to American news investigative reporting as being "thorough" or "exhaustive." It isn't a good idea for private citizens to try to inform other private citizens of such facts as everyone assumes that newspapers and television are already informing them, and if they have not heard or read them in the media, the facts presented by another private citizen just can't be true or just "don't mean anything."


Entry Date: October 27, 2010

Back in 1967, when some of us had recently celebrated a very early birthday in our lives, but I was waiting for Number 15, I was struggling with some Algebra II homework on a Thursday evening when I heard this stirring music wafting up the stairs. It turned out to be a theme for a television show written by Maurice Jarre, who did the soundtrack for Doctor Zhivago the previous year. It was the theme from the television Western Cimarron Strip. After hearing that piece, there was more than enough motivation to get through that assignment. The composition sounded like it would make a better National Anthem than The Star Spangled Banner. Well, maybe not, but it really does make the blood roar. Check it out for yourself.





Entry Date: October 20, 2010

Avian Genius: A typical crow taking flight. These are very intelligent birds.

We reported back in summer about Blue Jays since I saw one flying off with discarded french fries. Blue Jays and crows are both members of the Corvid family of birds, with crows and ravens topping the rest of the corvids for intelligence. Crows are human watchers, like some humans are bird watchers, and crows can have their likes and dislikes where humans are concerned. Some humans crows like, and other humans they don't like. They have good memories and can distinguish among individual people even after a long time has passed. Once crows know the face of a particular human, they can pick that human out of a crowd of humans. They are good listeners when it comes to people, picking up human words and, perhaps, the context in which those words are used. As I reported in the blue jay posting, I once saw a pair of crows duking it out with a pair of songbirds. The songbirds would dive bomb the crows in flight. One of the crows would make a certain call every time one of the songbirds dove at it. The call sounded just like a human exclaiming, "Uh-Oh!"

Crows can learn, and most ornithologists think crows are fast learners. Kill one of a flock, called in the English of the Twentieth Century and earlier as "a murder of crows," and the rest of the flock will remember your property for years and avoid it. Feed unshelled peanuts to a murder of crows and they will stick around. When they see you, or even your car, they will get excited and expect you to give them more peanuts. Some crows, once they learn to trust an individual human, will eat from the human's hand. Crows can learn to use tools and bait fish with bread crumbs. If a crow has a nut that is especially hard to shell, the crow might leave the nut under your car and wait for you to drive over it. Apparently, crows know that humans make cars move.

Crows are curious about you. Crows are watching you and listening to you. Crows can learn about you and make decisions about you. Some crows just might think you are a nice human, while others raise a squawk everytime they see you because you did something the crows didn't like. If you ever encounter an injured crow, and decide to nurse it back to health, be sure to release it as soon as it is able to fly and walk around. Crows are social, but their social need is really for other crows. An individual crow doesn't do well separated from its "murder of crows."


Entry Date: October 17, 2010

Petula Clark, of the town of Epsom, County of Surrey, England, backed by a chorus of Muppets

The tiny English singer with a voice as flexible as an Olympic gymnast, is always in the car with me on a long distance drive. Her hits of the 1960s are real "head bobbers," like a lot of the music of the early British Invasion years, 1964-1966. In the Petula Clark, the Ultimate Collection CD, all of the best of Petula Clark is available to keep you alert and pumped. There are some softer sounds on the CD, but for keeping a hopping beat going, and the blood pumping, there is nothing like A Sign of the Times, Color My World, You're the One, I Know a Place, Downtown, and my personal favorite, I Couldn't Live Without Your Love. I only needed one coffee for the entire 250 miles today. It's been a long time since I first heard Downtown when I was in seventh grade in 1964, but whenever a singer is this good, and causes fairly simple songs to lighten your mood and boost your energy, they have this kind of longevity. In this case, it is 46 years of longevity. Through all of these decades, I have met several people from England, always asking if they are from Surrey. Last Sunday, I actually found one near Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. He is from Epsom, too. They all still remember that Petula Clark was raised in their town.


Entry Date: October 13, 2010

Metaphysics is the science dealing in first priniciples and ultimate properties of being and reality. Today, someone brought up the subject of Unidentified Flying Objects (UFOs), and asked me about them. Actually, he told me that someone else told him to "ask him about UFOs." It was a "joke" of some kind, but I saw it as an opportunity to explain how one branch of Metaphysics, Ontology, can be applied to subjects such as UFOs. First of all, most people ask if you "believe in" UFOs. Well, UFOs are not a question of "belief," as faith has nothing to do with them. There are an unknown number of government reports about these things, and (at least) millions was spent by the government attempting to investigate what these phenomena are on a case-by-case basis. So, we know a few things about UFOs, we don't believe a few things about them.

Ontology is the study of being, or how we know what things are. Are they real? Do they exist, in contrast to just being real? When something is real, we all know about the thing. We know what the thing is. If we didn't all know what the thing is, we couldn't have a conversation about it without first defining what the subject of the conversation is. If we all didn't know what UFOs are, no one could just ask what someone else thinks about them, but, when someone mentions "UFOs," we all know what the other person is talking about. No matter what they are, UFOs are real. The definition of "UFOs" is in their name, which I will paraphrase as, "Objects that appear to fly, but we can't identify what the objects are," thus the name "Unidentified Flying Objects," and the acronym, UFOs.

Okay, we all know what UFOs are in reality, "things that appear to fly, and might be flying machines or objects, but we don't know what kind of flying machines or objects they are." UFOs are real things, or more accurately, real phenomena. The name the United States Government gave these things doesn't provide enough clarity. Something like Unidentified Aerial Phenomena would provide a clearer meaning. By using flying objects in the name it was like a concession that these things are material objects in every case, and that they are actually flying. It causes people to jump to conclusions.

Do UFOs exist? Those that have not been identified as even flying objects cannot be said to exist. These are the unexplained cases that the Air Force and federal agencies have not been able to explain scientifically. Since we don't know what they are, we cannot say that they are actually flying objects, or flying machines that exist. We don't know what they exactly are, so we don't know if they physically exist as flying machines. They might be optical illusions,like some of them have been proven to be, or some other kind of phenomena. If an even smaller percentage of these unresolved cases are actually flying objects, or even flying machines, we don't know what kind of flying object or machine they might be, but they would certainly exist in the physical sense.

Something can be real, but not exist. A dragon is real. We all know what dragons are, and have known since we were children. You ask someone what they think of dragons, and they will immediately know what you are talking about. Dragons have a definition, or essence, or substance. They are real, but they do not exist.

I think someone thought that I think UFOs are "alien spaceships." The term "alien spaceships" would presuppose knowledge about what the "flying objects" are. We wouldn't call "alien spaceships" UFOs, as the alien spaceships would no longer be Unidentified Flying Objects, but would be Identified Flying Objects, namely, Alien Spaceships. The answer to this more probable question that was posed third hand is, "No, I don't know that there are alien spaceships flying around up there. I just know the United States Government calls certain things, that may be flying objects or machines that the United States Government cannot classify, "Unidentified Flying Objects," or "UFOs" for short. After that, I have no idea if there are any alien spaceships flying around up there, somewhere."

I hope that helps the curious. It always helps if you ask your questions first hand. As anyone can see, it wasn't difficult answering the question. The problem was in the terminology. To get the right answer, ask the right question, and be sure to use the right terms. Using the wrong terms can yield unsatisfactory results. Just ask people if they believe in alien spaceships, not "UFOs." Some people have the belief that some UFOs are alien spaceships, but that is a belief, not a fact that we all know to be true.


Entry Date: October 9, 2010

I can't help it. Former Dallas Cowboys coach Jimmy Johnson gives me the creeps with those "Extenze" Commercials. Take a pill and get bigger? Frankly, I don't believe it works. The next thing you know, there will be machines that are supposed to do the same thing. I'm not sure I want to think about machines doing that because the thought of malfunctions make my blood run cold, but then again Jackass 3D is in theaters right now. I can see the Jackass crew now. One is tied to the back of the car, if you get my meaning, and the other is behind the wheel poised to put the car in Drive and punch the gas. That should make it "bigger," or make him the most peculiar soprano ever to sing a solo at the Met. Let's face it. When you get to be as old as some "Baby Boomers" are now, who cares about such things? When you're that old, you have no business flirting around with the younger women Johnson does those commercials with, unless you want to wake up in intensive care with some machine breathing for you. Just one of those models would force Johnson to get a full hip replacement, probably titanium. This is just another manifestation of that hackneyed image of "the antelope passing through the python" that the media uses to describe the "Baby Boomers" passing through society. They are OLD now, so they are looking for any way to try to act like they are still the inept, self-absorbed, narcissistic, sex-crazed teenagers they once were. Madison Avenue is catering to their needs because the "Boomers" make up so much of the population. As they are soon to comprise all the senior citizenry, the "erectile dysfunction" quacks and patent medicine drummers pursue the "Boomer" market. What really freaks me out is all the disclaimers about possible side effects from taking the erectile dysfunction pills. Stuff about erections lasting for a full lunar phase should be enough to scare off even the worst "sex addict." There's no way I would take any of these things after hearing about all the side effects, which sound something like:

"Side effects for Erectile Bliss include possible heart attacks, cancer, strokes, blindness, bubonic plague, morbid obesity, strange body odors, hair growing on the palms of the hands, sweating like Secretariat, and chronic halitosis. If you feel yourself turning into a squirrel, stop taking Erectile Bliss immediately and call a veterinarian or your closest local zoologist."

The fake side effects above are not as bad as the real ones. There are warnings of "sudden loss of vision and hearing," and, of course, "erections lasting more than four hours." Try this for a scenario. You're whipping down the Interstate at 70 MPH. It's bad enough that you get a spontaneous erection that won't go away, but "suddenly" you're blind and deaf. Now what are you going to do? Call 911 while racing down the Interstate, you can't see or hear, and your bladder is about to explode because your long-term erection won't let you do anything about it?

You've solved "erectile dysfunction," but you are basically screwed.


Entry Date: October 8, 2010

Your typical American Robin. In cherry season, they could get busted for FUI (Flying Under the Influence)

Most people associate the robin with the coming of spring. A member of the Thrush family, the robin's most familiar call is a staccato series of deep chirps or short warbles. The familiar red breast and black cap are even more familiar than its call. Robins nest as individual families, but can cooperate in flocks, particularly when feeding as they prefer ground food, with their favorites being earthworms and grubs. My dad and I watched a few robins in the backyard once when I was still in grade school. The birds tend to tilt their heads with one side close to the ground. My father explained that the robins listen for earthworms in the ground that way. Robins will not hunt in your yard if there is a large cat population around, apparently, as sightings were rare in my parents' old backyard when I was housesitting there for at least half of every weekend in 2008 and 2009. The red-breasted (it's actually more of an orange) thrushes build very substantial nests that can hold their shape for many breeding seasons. One robin couple built a nest on the the "shelf" formed by the top of one of our porch pillars. For years, robins raised another season's young in that nest. Robins can build nests in places where humans can see them, so maybe we don't frighten them in every situation of life. The birds are very good parents, with both male and female on feeding duty. In the parking lot of a hotel in Carlisle, I watched a single dad robin work his tail feathers off to feed a nest of young in the low branch of a tree. Robins are great small fruit eaters, and really like cherries. The birds will even eat cherries that are a little overripe, which means they will eat fermented cherries if there aren't any fresh ones. The fermentation can make the birds a little tipsy, or downright drunk, with males doing goofy things like fighting their reflections in a polished automobile hubcap, or robins flying into windows. Don't be surprised if you keep seeing some into November as some of them must migrate late. I saw some hanging around in the town of Brentwood near Pittsburgh last November, but, chances are, you won't see any robins now until late next February or March.


Entry Date: September 26, 2010

The real silly season is back again. Yep, it's another election time. Everyone is talking about what they would do, or not do, to lower the deficit, which just seems to get bigger and bigger like it has a life of its own. Some want to raise taxes, others want to cut spending, and some want to do both, but once the politicians are in office, the deficit just seems to ignore them, or the politicians ignore the deficit. Sooner or later, the President just might have to do something really drastic to lower the deficit. Ideally, everyone should be committed to do this. Having been through a credit crunch in my personal finances, I can tell you that there is no way out that does not involve some pain and sacrifice. You have to scale down your expectations and tighten your belt, but in this society, it might be hard at first, but you will still have enough diversions to ease some of that pain. I had the television, some books, fishing, and other inexpensive pursuits. I stayed at home a lot. A lot of life plans get put on hold or derailed with tight finances. I had $50 leeway between paychecks until a tax refund arrived to rebuild a reserve savings. I drove a 1975 car until 1993.

The problem is, you have to pay down your debt with one hand, and raise income with the other. As your debts are reduced, your income rises and you are out of it in a few years, and hopefully wiser from the experience. One of the errors being made is confusing government tax revenues with income. Government tax revenues come from the incomes of the people. In order to raise tax revenues, the incomes of the people have to rise. There's a double squeeze in this situation because, as government debt rose so did the indebtedness of the people. Neither the politicians nor the people realized that this phenomenon would effectively reduce the incomes of the people, due to personal debt service. Every time payment that must be made comes out of each person's income after taxes. With a lot of people, there isn't much room for more taxes. Businesses also went into debt. When the financial crisis hit, people lost all of their incomes by being laid off from their jobs. These people went on unemployment compensation, becoming tax recipients rather than payers. Many defaulted on debts, causing more strains on the banking system, which is insured by the government, and also prolonged the recession.

Hard choices have to be made by all of us. We have to do without more from government so that the debt doesn't rise as fast, while some might have to pay more in taxes, but there will have to be a balance between these two. Those who don't want to give up anything from the government, or in slightly increased taxes, are going to make the problem worse. Where the taxes come from has to be prudently decided. What is needed are jobs. Jobs mean people coming off unemployment and other programs that increase the demand of the government for credit. As they come off the programs, and become net tax payers again, the deficit goes down. Raise taxes in the job creating sector, and this doesn't happen. The problem gets worse until it can't be sustained any longer. We can't afford to get in that position.

Look, whether your priority is national security or helping the poor, neither is sustainable in the long run unless sacrifices for both military and social spending are made as part of this solution. It's just that simple. We aren't so rich anymore that we "can afford to do anything." I heard that old saw about being "the richest country on Earth" all of my life. Hey, that's over now. When you are this far in hock, you are poor, not rich. Now choices are going to have to be made. It will mean pain, and I know that from experience. I tried to make this whole thing lighter, and play it for laughs, but this just isn't funny anymore. We have to grow up as a people. This isn't the time to paper this over with more entertainment, escapism, and jokes. It stopped being funny a long time ago. That doesn't mean we won't have anymore laughs in here. This might be one of those inexpensive diversions we just talked about. We just all need to see the truth for what it is, and someone needed to say it. We'll share some laughs again about other things that really are amusing. This isn't one of them.