The Gross National Debt

Monday, February 28, 2011


No blog today. Between ear problems and a tooth that's been hurting A LOT since Friday night, I can't concentrate well enough to write decently.

Some folks will say they can't tell a difference.

Friday, February 25, 2011

And gave it 20 whacks

It's easy to talk about taking a giant ax to cut budgets, trim government and eliminate spending as long as it's done on a macro scale. It's when things come down to the micro scale that cuts become hard, verging on impossible, to do.
Hoping it'll fall on someone else. That's the problem.
Budget cuts always have a human component. Someone, somewhere is going to get a financial whupping. Cut enough and someone is going to lose their job.

Can you look someone in the eye and say "I'm firing you because I don't want pay the taxes that pay your salary."?
Yes. Spell it correctly while YOU'RE at it.
Sure, that's easy to do in theory. As long as the person being fired is someone far away, whom you've never met and so on. Keep it nebulous and everything is copacetic.

Can you walk next door and tell your neighbor, who has a mortgage, kids, a car payment and has watched your house for you when you were gone on the weekend that "Hey, I'm cutting taxes and eliminating your job."?

Brutal? Absolutely.
Own up to your actions and don't pass the buck.
 Unfair? Absolutely not.
Reality ain't Sesame Street. Get used to the idea.
Consider your own situation. How much of what you do is directly covered by tax dollars? More than you think, I'll bet.

Unless you are even more a hermit and luddite than Ted Kaczynski, a significant amount of your life is directly related taxes and how those taxes are spent. Roads are made and maintained with tax dollars. Cut the budget, cut road work which means more potholes and for you in the frozen areas, less salt and less snow plowing.

The very infrastructure that allows you to read this is supported in some measure by tax dollars. Electrical lines, the internet and the software you use are eventually linked to the government and government spending.

The question is not are you willing to drop the ax on your neighbor.
The question really is: Are you willing to hammer yourself?

The answer to that, for most people, is no. If the pain can be put one someone else, people want that done. That's understandable. It's also the problem. It's called refusing to take responsibility.
I ain't a Tundra Barbi fan, but I completely agree with the overall sentiment expressed herein
It's also short sighted is what got the nation into this mess. Short sighted is going to continue to drag us down. How far down? You don't want to know.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Non Patriot Act

The newly minted Congressman from the South Georgia district where I live voted to extend the Patriot Act. - Austin Scott, R, defeated Jim Marshall, D, in the November election.
I ain't happy. I told him so.
Your humble expresses his satisfaction with the Patriot Act.
He replied to me that prior to his vote he and his staff in Washington had a long and involved discussion on how he should vote. He said it was as close to an argument he and the staff have come since he's been in D.C.

He said he voted to extend the act for the "security of the people."
Exaggeration, but still based on truth.
I think his staff should have argued with him longer.
Editorial commentary on Washington.
Austin knew I was opposed to the Act. He knew I opposed his vote. I hope he also knows that this single vote is not enough to put me on the side of getting him defeated come next election, but it is a step toward that. (Yes, he did vote the way I believe he should have on some other issues)

As we talked, he pointed out a few things about me which need not be discussed here, but which probably do show up in the records the federal government has on me.
He ain't my brother, but he's still watching.
Yeah. The feds have a file on me. Austin was a bit surprised about this. I told him when he gets back to D.C. to look up the file.

What's in the file? I'm not entirely sure. I don't really care either. I do know some of the information is incorrect. How do I know? Because of things which have happened which resulted in my getting ahold of some of the information in that file in a second-hand manner.

I do not know that I am or am not on the federal watch list, such as it is, for suspected terrorists. But I also know I ain't real far away from being on that list.
Why am I listed in federal files? Put aside the fact that if you exist legally in the United States you have a file and put aside all the stuff which goes into that. You wanna know what separates me, makes my file larger and more detailed.

Short answer: I am a Rebel Patriot.

Slightly longer answer: I'm in pretty good company, starting back with George Washington, Ben Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, coming forward to the General, Stonewall Jackson, Jefferson Davis and coming forward again to Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King and so on.

Yassee, we believe in individual freedoms and the rights of the people.

It's HERITAGE, not hate.
Which really doesn't explain why my file has stuff yours doesn't.

Another short answer: I have gone out of my way over the years to be a dissident. I have, in other words, acted in the best traditions of those who have gone on before me and worked to the end of an oppressive regime.

Patriotism in action.
I digress a moment cause I have something specific I wanna end with and this ain't it.  There are people who will complain about and criticize me. Lemme ask you, do you trust the government? If you say yes, then do you trust the EPA, the IRS, the Federal Reserve, Bureau of Land Management and all the other bureaucracies? If you are gonna pick and chose what to trust and what to not trust, what do you base that trust and non trust on? I've already told you the government file on me contains errors (which I am happy to leave in place because contradictory items in that file make the rest of it appear suspect as well.)
The problem is - you know the link is Blue. You don't know how strong it is.
Back on the narrow - since I have a file, am an admitted dissident and a whole bunch of other things, I ask you: Am I a terrorist? What do you base this information on? How complete do you think your information is? Regardless of what you say, I also ask: What is your definition of terrorist?

One man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Enough to go around

I don’t often point a finger at a single major political party and say “It’s your fault!” but this time I’m gonna.
Generally, there's plenty to go around.
It’s the Reboobican’s fault. Afterward the Damnocrats joined in, turning the situation into a Pre-K classroom of hurls insults “You’re a booger head!” and “I’m rubber you’re glue, bounce of me and stick to you.”
If yer gonna be insulting, how about being intelligent about it?
In an effort to tame the shrew, a National Institute for Civil Discourse is being set up at the University of Arizona.

How much effect and affect this will have can probably fit inside an expended .22 short brass, or less. That’s very, very, very little, in case that reference is too esoteric for you.
Need a semi-load of these for Washington.

Telling quote from the story: “At a time when our discourse has become so sharply polarized, at a time when we are far too eager to lay the blame for all that ails the world at the feet of those who think differently than we do,” Mr. Obama said, “it’s important for us to pause for a moment and make sure that we are talking with each other in a way that heals, not a way that wounds.”

This is from the SAME person who campaigned last fall against the other party saying “They can’t have it back.” He referred to the other party. This is the same president who campaigned on a platform of “reaching across the isle” and has consistently ignored and attempted to marginalize the opposition.

In case you haven’t figured it out, I refer to the present state of heat filled rhetoric and invective that has replaced intelligent discourse (inasmuch as it ever existed) in our nation’s legislature. Yeah, I blame the Reboobicans.

I will go even further to narrow the blame for the state of affairs that leaves both sides engaged in hair pulling contests - Newt Gingrich.
Newt Gingrich prepares to blame the everyone else.
This will, I’m sure, generate some argument. Someone will say this state of non-affairs is much older, something I will not gainsay. I merely say I refer to the present political climate. Why? Because despite my personal distaste of Ronald Reagan, he and Tip O’Neil were able to work together to forge alliances and agreements between both sides.

Then along comes Newt.

Newt, as a freshman Reprehensible in Washington, was famed for having a desk that was at chest level. No chair. He said, at the time, he didn’t have time to sit down.

Led by the fiery N. Georgia native, the Reboobicans launched an attack of illusions, glitter and hairstyles on the Damnocrats. Hairstyles, in case you wonder, is my personal euphemism for worrying about things that don’t matter instead of concentrating on items of substance.

For a brief while, the Damnocrats were content to let the Reboobicans hyperventilate and act like a rabid dog in the middle of a busy intersection. Then they got infected and things degenerated from there.
Alternately, a member of Congress commenting on the opposition.

Newt, I remind you, ran for office, got elected and got his feelings hurt when the Reboobicans lost out to the Damnocrats so he resigned.

I'd expect no less.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Vile imprecations

I have GOT to stop listening to talk radio.
If this launches a new round of attacks, my apologies.
Pick a side. Any side that is current assaulting the airwaves. Conservative. Liberal. Neoconservative, Neoliberal (although what The Matrix has to do with talk radio, I dunno).
Now in one easy-to-read book!

All of 'em drive me around the bend.


They insist their weltanschauung is the only one which will work and everyone else must adopt it or die in a variety of ruins.
This will scare some people. Really. Not kidding.
GAAAAAAAAAAAAH. That was me being frustrated, not scared.

If you listen to all of 'em closely enough you'll find they all don't care about you and me. They are all pushing an agenda of increased centralized power. The only and I do mean the only difference is who will hold the power under their New World Odor. You read that correctly. Odor. Nor order.

Egad. Sometimes the interest has EXACTLY what I'm looking for.
And who holds the reins in this New World Stench? It ain't gonna be me or you.  

If you listen close, you witness none of 'em are willing to even seriously entertain the idea that perhaps the other side may be have valid ideas. Compromise only until you back the other side into a position where you don't have to meet in the middle.

Live and let live is a concept they cannot grasp. It's either control or fight for control.

The idea of just letting the other person alone and personal responsibility and accountability is something they are pathologically incapable of understanding.


Before you decide to hand me my own various body parts on a variety of farm implements as you accuse me of doing the same thing, go back and read s'more. Yes, I am opinionated. Yes, I will tell you what I think. Yes, I attack people, persons, groups and idiotologies.

OK, I don't have that much hair.
But if you look close, the only folks I rip into are those attempting to force me to fit their preconceived notion of whom I should be, especially those who either have the power to make the attempt or can reasonably be expected to achieve that power. Leave me alone, I leave them alone.

That's what separates from the others,, especially talk radio. I ain't saying my way is the correct way for you. It is the correct way for me. If you go your way and leave me alone, then everything is copacetic. When you start telling me what I must and must not do, then someone call Houston 'cause we have a problem.

Look, I ain't you, you ain't me and neither one of us is that funny looking guy with a knife behind your back who just ducked around the corner when you started to turn around to see who was there.

People need to quit trying to force other people to be clones of themselves. Talk radio is the world's biggest cloning experiment. Both sides, when the dust settles, are trying to do the exact same things, even if the ones behind the mic aren't willing to admit it.

Stereotypical talk radio fan.

I don't understand part of this

I come before you this Monday morning to express ignorance - beyond the usual ignorance I express in my musings thankyouverymuchforasking.

I don't get Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. I'm willing to lay down some cash to bet that you don't either, unless you are a banker or someone else intimately involved in the financials market and money handling.

Now what follows is gonna be bloody confusing for a moment. I can't help that. But if you stick with me, I promise after the confusing bit I will be clear again. Well. As clear as I ever get.

We are told these two quasi-federal government agencies are on very intimate terms with some 90 percent of all new mortgages in the United States.

What does that mean? I can't get a straight answer. This article by the Motley Fool may help.

Here's a clip. "Fannie Mae provides a guarantee to these investors that they will receive timely principal and interest payments, no matter what happens with the underlying mortgages. If there are large numbers of defaults, Fannie Mae will have to make the investors whole. If there is a massive crash and defaults overwhelm Fannie Mae, it has an ace in the whole: your tax dollars. Even though the company's debt offerings clearly state otherwise, the financial markets believe that Fannie Mae's status as a government-sponsored enterprise implies that the government will provide full faith and credit for Fannie's debt. It is for this reason that Fannie Mae maintains a AAA credit rating, even though at a 78:1 debt-to-equity ratio it is levered many times what is allowed international banks. (Debt is defined as mortgages on its books plus the value of its guarantees.)"

Is your head spinning yet? Mine spun right out the door.

Now I can go back to being non brain-wobbling.

Being in the newspaper business, I run home foreclosures. I also see banks take a beating on a foreclosure. They lose money, in other words.

But according to what I read about F&F, these two agencies are supposed to insure the folks who issued the mortgage don't lose money. How? By taking money and paying the mortgage holder.

Where does F&F get that money? The money comes from taxpayers. We all lose in other words.

Now some in Congress are calling for the elimination of F&F.

HOORAY! Kill 'em to death. Get a stake and drive it through their hearts, decapitate them, burn them at the stake and scatter the ashes over Iran. Get taxpayers OUT Of taking care of private debts.


If F&F are done in, what does this mean to the 30-year mortgage?


Banks are going to be a LOT less willing to extend credit for 30 years, especially at today's interest rates, unless that loan is guaranteed.

The real estate bought with a mortgage is not enough of a guarantee. Foreclosed property often sells for less than the mortgage cost. Banks just want to get rid of the property.


This means shorter term mortgages, higher interest rates or variable interest rate loans.

None of which are conducive to putting people in homes.

Example - If you have a 90K mortgage at 7 percent for 10 years your payments are $1,149.14

The same loan over 30 years is a mortgage payment of $702.94.

This includes a small property tax and does not include insurance.

Banks are not going to lend money over 30 years at 7 percent. 12 percent maybe.

Why the change in interest rates? Bankers plan long term. Over the past 30 years I have seen mortgage rates as low as 3 percent and as high at 17 percent.

Over 30 years you can bet bankers will be looking for inflation to increase, meaning they'll need to change more interest to make a profit.

Banks are in the business of making money, not making sure people have a place to live. Banks are incredibly UNresponsive to demands of consumers with less that perfect credit - i.e. pretty much everyone. Banks may argue this, but I tell you to look at the fine print and you'll see how unresponsive they actually are.

However, banks indeed are in the business of making money. That means they do have to loan money and loan it at rates and payments people can afford and are willing to accept. If enough people say no, banks will change their policies or go out of business.

Home loans won't go away. 30 year mortgages will get a more expensive, which means more people either won't be able to buy a home or will be forced to save more to buy a home.

Then again, banks may start lending for mortgages the way Islamic financial institutions do. And that one is WAY more confusing, but history also shows it's a lot more stable too and it does turn a profit for the lender.

Six legged lunch?

This article from the Wall Street Journal discusses how people around the world chomp the same kind of things we step on.

It may be disgusting to you, but the simple reality is some people depend on these for protein. If you are Christian, I note John dined on wild honey and locusts and God did say we are not to make unclean that which He has provided.

If you are not Christian, I tell you that you've already eaten far more exoskeleton entities than you can possibly imagine. Well, if you are Christian you've also done that.

The US FDA has guidelines for the maximum amount of insects parts which are allowed in canned food. Yup.

If you've ever been in a food processing factory you know there is NO WAY they can remove everything that gets into the production lines.

A f'r'instance for you from the FDA website:
BROCCOLI, FROZEN Insects and mites
(AOAC 945.82)
Average of 60 or more aphids and/or thrips and/or mites per 100 grams
DEFECT SOURCE:  Pre-harvest insect infestation

 This is maximum allowed. Anything over this requires action by the company. I also note this is called an "aesthetic" issue meaning it poses no harm to humans, merely looks bad.

And Sue is never going to allow me to come eat at her house again.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Looking for some accountability by unions and a challenge at the end

I have watched, without much interest, the ongoing saga of the new Wisconsin governor as he grapples with a state budget that has to be balanced.
heh heh heh heh heh

He is being accused of union busting. Until today (Saturday) all the news was the union people yelling and the governor trying to be heard.

That changed Saturday. The other side showed up.

"It comes after days during which many Wisconsin schools closed because teachers went to join protests at the capitol building. On Saturday, according to Associated Press reports, supporters of Gov. Scott Walker (R) sported signs reading, "I was at work yesterday. Where were you?" and "Sorry, we're late Scott. We work for a living."" reports Mark Trumbull in the Christian Science Monitor.

Ya got that?

Wisconsin schools CLOSED DOWN BECAUSE TEACHERS WENT TO JOIN PROTESTS! The other side of the protest had to wait for the weekend because they had to work for a living.

So much for kids, education and caring about the students, eh?

Makes me wanna take a page from Ronald Reagan's playbook. He fired the nation's air traffic controllers. If I was Gov. Walker and I was able to do it, I'd fire all the teachers who went to the protest.


I am not a fan of unions as they exist today. What I see, and I admit I may not be seeing the entire picture, is unions which promote increased worker pay with decreased worker responsibility and accountability.
The strongest most longest lasting union in the nation and Japanese cars outsell domestic cars.

If unions work to promote and support and demand increased safety in the workplace, I'll be right there with 'em on the front line. I just don't see many of them doing this.

I do see unions working hard to insulate members from reality.

Teacher unions are great at protecting members from reality. Teacher unions go to great lengths to protect incompetent teachers, irresponsible teachers and block efforts at education reform.

Yes huh. There is a reason the United States is sliding down internationally in educational efforts.
I ain't making this up.

I ain't saying all teachers are bad. I am saying if public schools were run like a private business, a lot of teachers would be looking for a job.

I am saying a lot of people go into teaching because it is a sinecure.
Wonder if some teachers could handle this job?

Wanna bet?

Since I am beating on teachers for lack of accountability on their part, I add to this I believe they should be given more authority in the classroom to HANDLE their classroom.

Ahem. Unions? Yoo hoo, teacher unions? Where are you? Come out come out and start raising hell and demanding teachers have more classroom authority please, the kind of authority they had when I was the 4th grade.
The kind of teacher we need more of.
Oh right, I forgot. The unions are more interested in teacher pay and making sure teachers can't be fired except if they commit a major felony in the classroom.
A teacher union president attacks the real problem.

Anyway, a reason teacher unions are so against School Vouchers is they know parents will find schools which are accountable, which are responsible and which demand student achievement. This means poorly performing schools and poor teachers will be out.

In this thing I call the Real World, people who can't produce don't get to keep their job. Unions aren't interested in the Real World, as far as I can see. This includes teacher unions.
The Real World as seen by unions.
Such concepts make the bad teachers erupt in near violence while the good teachers go right on about the business of filling young minds with new concepts.

I ain't saying private schools are any better than public schools. As a product of a private high school I believe I got an adequate education, but not nearly as well rounded had I attended public school. But resources at the private school were limited. For instance, I had to take French as a foreign language. WTH? As a South Georgia farm boy, what good would French do me? Spanish, ¡aye caramba! that would have been useful.

At the same time, the private school teachers were subjected to immense pressures from the very wealthy parents to do favors for poorly performing students. (NB - this is the same kind of pressure teachers often face from public school administrators and the unions are NOWHERE to be found when this happens. If unions are there to protect the members, why does this keep happening?)

This pressure from parents and increasingly exclusionary attitudes by the most very wealthy students eventually led to the school closing because students of lesser economic status refused to attend. There simply was not enough uber wealthy in Molutrie Ga to keep the school afloat.

A clear case of market forces at work.

Unions abhor market forces because it demands accountability.

But I could be wrong. If you think I am wrong, send me a union contract. Unions could be interested in the safety and well-being of their members and interested in promoting an efficient, organized and increasingly productive workplace. We'll go over it line by line and see who is right.

I ain't worried about having to dine on fresh corvid.
This ain't me. This won't be me.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Anything but neutral

Anyone remember the Anarchy on the Net campaign? You could find supporters who posted black ribbons on their websites.

They advocated an internet with no rules. Do what you want when you want and how you want. Ultimate freedom.

Do you have an opinion on that? Anything goes?

Most sane people say no, pointing to things like child porn and child molesters. Beyond that, even the sane people advocate for very few limits. A free exchange of information, they say.

What about you? Wide open spaces?

Lemme tangentially ask you this, do you think private business has the right to operate as it sees fit? In other words, can a business do business the way it wants to? Or should government force a business to act in a certain way?

Let's make this narrower. Should government force a business to act in a certain way if that business is not important to keeping people alive?

In other words, is it OK to regulate utility companies because they supply power that keeps people alive? Think very cold climates, very hot climates, people who need insulin which must stay refrigerated and so forth.

Ok, Then is it appropriate for government to regulate businesses which are not critical to survival? Say a newspaper. An appliance store. A car dealership.

Careful how you answer that. If you say it's ok to regulate non essential businesses, then you agree to government regulation (control) of all business. Do you want that? A nanny state? A totalitarian state?

Now lemme slap this upside you.

Net Neutrality. This is where an internet service provider must allow the same speed of access to everyone. In other words, the service provider cannot slow service for competitors who use the provider's lines.

Putting it a bit simpler, should Comcast be allowed to slow delivery speeds for Netflix?

I say yes. Comcast is in business to make money. Company directors decide how to best achieve this goal. If enough customers demand change, Comcast will change.

The question is, do you have the guts to demand the change? So far evidence shows most people don't.

Myself, I am against net neutrality. Let businesses run the way they wanna run. If you don't like the way your internet service provider operates, get another one or do without.

You will survive.
Do you feel lucky? Well, do ya? I don't. (sigh)
As you may have come to expect, I bring you some very loaded questions today with the admonition - Careful how you answer as your answers may be used against you.

I never said it would be easy.

Now with that cheery bit of information outta the way, I ask

Do you believe in the will of the people?
If only this were reality...

By that I mean, do you think the average citizen’s wishes, wills, dictates and so forth should be followed by government?

OK. Obfuscatory question. I rephrase.

Do you believe in allowing public to hold binding votes? By that I mean do you believe in actual democracy? Binding public referendums. Democracy defined as the people make the decisions, not elected representatives.

If the citizens vote and say “THIS is the law of the land” should it be the law of the land?


What about the Constitution?

“What about it,” you say.

The Constitution has safeguards and provisions inherent to it to protect a minority group of the citizens from the dictates of a majority of the citizens. Yes huh. Read it if you don't believe me.

“Ghead Baker, throw another monkey wrench in my already sandy gears why don’t you,” you mutter.

OK. The Constitution also provides safeguards that the will of the people can be carried out.

Seems contradictory? When you understand the safeguards are in place to guard against infringements on personal rights and liberties, you see there is no contradiction.
It does not say WE THE TEA PARTY...
So I ask again, do you support the will of the people?

Let’s make this a bit less fuzzy.

A voter referendum. Pick a subject. Voters head to the polls and vote.

Liquor sales on Sunday. Abortion. Gay marriage. Sales tax. Property tax. Letting people were blue hats on Monday morning.

Should the vote stand?
A low blow? Hardly. Everyone should have the right to vote.
Gimme a yes or no. Don’t equivocate. Pick a side and stand there. If you straddle the fence, I warn you it is a bobwar fence and you are about to experience some seriously unpleasant sensations.
On second thought, g'head. Sit on this fence.

If you pick and chose, then you waffle. If you are willing to let a vote on Sunday beer sales stand and not willing to let an abortion vote stand (or even vote on the subject), then you are actually saying you are against letting the people decide. Therefore whatever referendum YOU support should not be allowed to stand either.

There’s no grey area here to me.

What say ye?

If people are given a chance to vote on an issue, should that vote be allowed to stand? No court challenges. No attempts to change the laws. Of course, you can come along next election and try to repeal the original decision. That’s only fair.
Fair means everyone gets their say.
The sad fact is the people do not have the right to determine their own fates in this nation. Prostituting lawyers out for a buck will take anything to court and challenge it. A judge or three then takes his (their) opinion and supersedes the will of the people.

I say let the people vote, let the vote stand. If you don’t like it, fire up your campaign to have it repealed come next election.

That is for gay marriage, Sunday alcohol sales, wearing blue hats on Monday, owning guns and everything else.

If the vote of the people contradicts an existing law or laws or contradicts a state constitution provision, that provision is hereby repealed, made null and thrown out.

Let the people decide.

Then, oh yes then, let them discover what it means to rule themselves. It won’t be pretty.