Thursday, September 27, 2012

Random Thoughts - Eleven

I want to welcome the White House staffer that is assigned to read my little blog. I have suspected that you are out there for a while now. But I found your virtual fingerprints on one of my posts. So now I am pretty sure. That having been said, you are most certainly welcome. I am, in fact, really proud that I have caught the attention of the power center of the world.

Maybe it's just me, but is Obama beginning to look like the clumsiest kid at the prom lately?

If your into conspiracy theories and UFOs and you like to read, get hold of the book "Groom Lake" by Bryan O. It's available on Kindle. And, if you're a reader and you don't have a Kindle you are missing out. Friend Kindle authors on Facebook and you get tons of free books from new or self-published authors. The preceding was an opinion, not a commercial. I don't get a penny for any of this stuff that I mention. Just sayin' 'cause I know somebody out there will think nasty that I'm on some payroll.

I've written a little bit about possible new sources of energy. Three areas to be watched are methane hydrates in the short term. Helium three and cold fusion in the longer term. Sandia Labs has just made a breakthrough in nuclear fusion. A successful experiment in recovering methane hydrate was just concluded on the Alaskan North Slope. And I wouldn't be surprised if there were other systems being tried that we haven't even heard about yet.

With the mid-east on fire and the UN in session in New York City, with almost every world leader in New York for this important session, the President of the United States of America chooses to go on "The View" and refer to himself as "eye candy". Has he no sense of presidential dignity? Actually, I know the answer to that.

Do we want a President who is glib and charming and really reads a tele-prompter well, or a President that is competent, experienced, and will lead from the front? I'm going for competent.

If you are as disgusted with the NFL as I am, I suggest not tuning in to these pseudo-games on TV. If they don't get the ratings their advertising money diminishes and we all know how much the owners hate that with all that high priced talent on the field. If enough people do it, we will get their attention.

My grandson told me last night and it seems to be confirmed this morning that the strike or lock-out or whatever is over. I don't care, I'm still angry.

Breaking news - Madonna has just announced that Obama is a Black Muslim. I guess if Madonna says it, it must be true. I give Elvis credit. Someone asked him for a political opinion once, he answered "how should I know, I just a singer". Good clear thinking.

Note to Michelle: If you are thinking about running for president in 2016, you might want to leave that high school lunch thing alone. They're getting up hungry from lunch and they'll be voting in 2016.

The president says the economy is improving. Do not be fooled. It is not improving. The stock market is improving. That is not the economy. More people are out of work than last week. More people have stopped looking since last week. The GNP is barely moving upward. Sales are down. Salaries are down. Food stamps are up. That is the economy and it stinks.

Also in this morning's news, last quarter GDP revised downward to 1.3%. Thank you Barack!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Conspicuous Consumption vs. Rediculous Consumption

Economist Thorstein Veblen (1857 - 1929) wrote a book titled "The Theory of the Leisure Class". In this learned tome he posited the idea that the leisure class could be identified by "conspicuous consumption". For some strange reason Mr. Veblen was a big deal as an economist in his day based on this book.

To take his book and cut it down to a few sentences, he said that the leisure class were different from us. Where we had a rental flat (common in those days), they had huge homes. While we walked or took trams, they had carriages with teams of matched horses. While we wore work clothes, they wore bespoke suits and the ladies changed their gowns five or six times a day. While we used our non-working hours maintaining whatever life style we could achieve, they had servants. But you get the idea.

It surprises me that this was such a show stopper in  the glory days when Newport, RI was home to the Astors and Vanderbilts and Rockefellers et al. It was the location of the Vanderbilt's seventy room cottage called the "Breakers". It was conspicuous consumption because you couldn't miss it. Really, a book to tell folks what was blazingly obvious to even the most casual observer.

Today, while we still have conspicuous consumption, we also have a new phenomenon. I call it the theory of ridiculous consumption. And I promise that I won't write a book about it. This amazing theory came to me fully formed as I watched the news two nights ago. I saw a huge line of twenty-somethings standing in this long line. They expected to be in this line all night. It wasn't to get into the hottest new club. It wasn't to see the Lady Gaga. It wasn't even to get World Series tickets. (That one I might understand.) It was to buy a cell phone. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, to be able to be the first of your crowd to have the I-phone whatever.

Look, I am no Luddite. But my cell phone is so old it is made out of wood (just kidding). But it is at least five years old. It works fine. I can make calls. I can text. I can take pictures or video. But if you are out there in the economic conditions of today and buying each new version of your favorite time waster, that is ridiculous consumption.

Moving on, I hear that you can now purchase sneakers for over  two hundred dollars a pair. My guess is that they are no longer called sneakers. But if you are a mom or dad and you are buying your little monster shoes that cost over fifty or sixty dollars a pair, look stupid, and make your child a target of every bully that doesn't have those slick new shoes, but your child's will do just fine for him, then you are well into ridiculous consumption.

There are so many more examples; women's shoes with red soles that sell for over two thousand dollars a pair, twelve thousand dollar watches that keep no better time than a fifty dollar watch that "takes a likkin but keeps on tickin".

It was announced on the news today that Apple sold five million of the new I-phone 5 over the weekend. It looks like a lot of those twenty-somthings were successful. Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, that is rediculous consumption.

I needed a break from politics. I thought you might too. So here's hoping that I gave you a change of pace, entertained, and informed all at the same time.

Friday, September 21, 2012

?? President Michelle??

Maybe this is a reach. OK, so no maybe, it is a reach. But in my mind's eye I see bumper stickers that say "Michelle for President in 2016". Barack Obama sees himself as the only possible winner in 2012. With his oversize ego and trapped inside his bubble of sycophants, Romney is but a minor annoyance and a good excuse to travel the country and hang with the beautiful people that he so loves. In his thoughts there is no alternative to winning. I have written in another post what could happen if "his hopes are dashed on the rock of despair".

Since he cannot legally run in 2016 if he should win in 2012 another Democrat candidate must be found. The obvious front runner is Hillary Clinton. Most of the other power brokers or familiar names in the Democrat party are either reprobates or seem to be whack jobs or a little of both. Reid, Pelosi, Biden and Wasserman-Schultz for example. Obama doesn't want to hear the footsteps of any bright, attractive, young candidates sneaking up behind him.

Lately Hillary has been showing up in strange places, putting forth odd explanations for untenable situations, and looking stressed to the breaking point. I do not think this is accidental and I don't think this is of her own volition. If Obama is given four more years he can use that time to control the situation. And control it he and his minions will. That will leave Hillary with three options after the 2012 election. She can stay on as Secretary of State and accept what ever terms and difficult assignments given her. These will not be designed for her glorification, believe me. She can resign and try to keep herself in front of the camera in a meaningful way. Difficult but not impossible. Or she can retire from public life and write books. Were it I, I would pick door number three. She could actually have a peaceful, meaningful life and make a ton of money.

So the, who in 2016? Michelle started out getting bad publicity with the fancy vacations at taxpayer expense towing an entourage behind her. I have noticed that that has abated of late. With the help of an over co-operative press, she has been getting good publicity with fewer barbs accompanying it. And they would have four more years to build her image. I would put her on a plane to meet with some of the female heads of state to build up her international credentials and keep the Secretary of State in lesser known climes.

Add a more business like wardrobe. A few trips around the country to meet with friendly governors, maybe a junket with a congressional delegation and suddenly she would look presidential.

As I have stated before, I love to pick up on little bits and pieces and speculate on outcomes. I wouldn't bet serious money on my speculations but it is fun to do. I hope it makes interesting and entertaining reading and makes readers come back for more .

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Random Thoughts - Ten

I have read a lot of what I consider rash statements about American companies shipping jobs overseas. When a company opens a branch, lets say in Ireland, to manufacture their product and sell it in Europe, that is not shipping jobs abroad. That is expanding your business into European marketplaces. No jobs are being taken away from the US. Usually an expansion of this type will involve new American jobs to support for the new European business. Also, profits made in Europe are coming back to an American company. This is good business for the company and great business for our country.

I just found out how Obama's going to deal with the $716 billion that he took from Medicare. He's increased the Medicare co-payments by 33%. So once again he proves that his plan was ill conceived and designed to hurt the elderly with the collusion of AARP.

Has anyone noticed that the price of gasoline has more than doubled since Obama took office?

We are truly fortunate. The cost of food has only risen by about 30%.

There is so much happening so fast that I may use more of these "Random Thoughts" to try to keep up.

The Republican candidates have to hit it out of the park at the debates. Right now they are drowning.

Let me see, according to the administration, Benghazi wasn't planned. It was an exercise in pure spontaneity. So, answer me this, how do you get a throng, ready to riot, AK-47s, grenade launchers, and American flags to burn together in Benghazi in fifteen minutes? That kind of spontaneity takes a lot of planning.

Has it become a "right of passage" for royals to get naked when there are cameras in the area?

So now it comes out that AG Holder is using Media Matters, a public advocacy group to spin bad news about him and his department. Is Media Matters a non-profit? This has got to be illegal. If it's not it's immoral.

Not really surprising but when Romney talks about the forty-seven percent of the population that doesn't pay taxes and tend to be more reliant on government programs, it creates a firestorm in the press. When Obama whispers to Medvednev to ask Putin to give Obama a little more time because after he's re-elected he can be more flexible. The press never even asks, "More flexible to do what?".

The United States, Great Britain, et alia put an armada of warships off the coast of Iran at this point in the history of the middle east and the press hardly blinks. They have all lost their minds? Have they forgotten the premise of being in the press in the first place? What is the point in freedom of the press if the press does not want to be free?

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Our Past Must Be Our Future

The economy is terrible. Thirty-six percent of people who are willing to work can find no job. Many who are working, are in low paying or part time jobs out of desperation. People coming up on retirement are scared to death because their savings are not growing.

Enter the geniuses at the Fed, led by Ben Bernanke. Since nothing that they have done so far has worked so far, they are going to double down and try more of the same. If you people, worried about your savings, feel some body's hand in your pocket, that is Mr. Bernanke's. He is ordering the Fed to print more money to buy back more bonds to lower interest rates to free up more cash so people will buy stuff to jog the economy. Get it?

Now Egan Jones Rating Company is lowering America's credit rating again, based on this round of quantitative easing (that is such a nice euphemism). Twice now during Obama's tenure in office our nations credit rating has been lowered. This is unheard of.

If you have a savings account, you are getting no interest to speak of now. Maybe three quarters of a percent or there abouts. Well it will get worse. So, let's say you are ten to fifteen years out from retirement. Your savings account is growing at one quarter the rate of inflation. Not good. Equity investments, including funds, are iffy. Precious metals are good if you got in ten years ago. Maybe. And don't think that is without risk. Frankly, your government has put you in a box.

OK, I've gone full bore negative. But that is what we face today as I see it. I may be missing something, but I don't think so. I spend a lot of time thinking and reading about these things. Is there no hope? Is it all over for the American people? Hell, no!!!

We have just gotten away from what we do best. We innovate. We grow businesses with new and better products. We are smart and original and unrestrained by the past. In America, every day is a new day. All we need is the freedom to make our dreams and ideas work.

We need a country without a government that taxes and regulates the dreamers to death. We all won't succeed but enough of us will. Remember, this is the country that brought the world IBM, Kraft, Intel, Microsoft, Boeing, Ford and so many many more. We have done it before and we can do it again. This is the country that fought for it's freedom against the most powerful nation on Earth and won. Then they came back in 1812 and tried to beat us again. Well we beat them again. This is the country that twice went to war to protect our allies in Europe and won. This is the country that John Kennedy challenged to go to the moon. And we did.

If the government gets out of our way, we can do anything. Then you folks coming up on retirement can go back to investing in America and sleep well at night. That will be our winning position.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Random Thoughts - Nine

Always remember 9-11.
Never believe we are no longer a target.

I wrote the above before 9-11. Then on 9-11 soverign American soil gets attacked again and the State Department immediatly appologizes because we have freedom of speech and do not censor what people say or write or what movies they make. Not only that, we continue to give these people taxpayer money as foreign aid. This country is out of control and Obama smiles and looks the other way.

Thinking back on the George W. Bush administration, it occurs to me that many weekends were spent either at Camp David or the Texas ranch with dignitaries from other countries. The relationships built and the understanding achieved is like nothing I have seen since.

Seeing Bill Clinton at the Democratic convention reminds me of guys that you knew in  college. They bragged, they lied, they exaggerated, but they were so much fun you still hung out with them. And, Dear God in Heaven, could they get the girls.

Thankfully, the pro football season is starting. I have sworn off the Red Sox for the duration. I don't watch pre-season games. So I am in dire need of a sports fix. Go Patriots!

Well the Democrat convention is over. There were so many race cards played that I was able to keep a full deck. But when I turned them over, they were nothing but a bunch of jokers. Isn't that wild!             I'm sorry. I won't do that again.

Not for nothing but I sure hope Joe Biden and Debbie Wasserman Schultz stay out there on the campaign trail. Campaigners like that can have a real effect on that independent vote, if you get my drift.

The new energy source that we have all been waiting for appears to be just around the corner. We just don't know how far down the road that corner is. And unless you read some pretty weird stuff, as I do, you have never heard of it. Solar and wind are just cover ups. I have noticed some incongruities in the news of late and along with some stuff I've read things may be happening. I hope so. In all honesty, I may be adding two and two and getting twenty-two.

"Hopeless Change" is here again. New job figures. I'm giving you the only one that counts. Thirty six percent of people able to work cannot find jobs. I repeat, one third of all American workers that want to work, cannot find work. Any work. That is the worst employment record in thirty years. And that is a crying shame.

Sure the stock market is up! Companies sales are down but they are profitable because they have laid off workers and closed plants. They have plenty of cash but they are sitting on it because they are afraid to invest in an uncertain future. In short, the stock market isn't the economy. People are the economy.

I just read an article on reviving the gold standard. As it is a subject that I know little about, I would like to see more rational discussion by knowledgable people. It sounds interesting and may be what we need.

Did you hear, they were passing out "Journalists for Obama" tee shirts to the press at the Democratic convention. Oh, and AG Holder is now suing pollsters that don't show Obama in a good light. When did we become a totalitarian country?

Hillary signed the United Nations Arms Accord. This has to go before the Senate to be ratified. If they ratify it, gun owners in this country could have problems. I don't think they could over-rule the Second Amendment, but they might try. A lot of chaos could ensue before it gets to the Supreme Court. If ,at that point, you have a liberal court, we may lose our individual protection.

And people wonder why I'm Cranky.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Is Failure An Option?

In my last blog, I discussed, briefly, the possibility of the administration failing to right the ship over the next four years. I think that is a subject that deserves deeper examination. I firmly and honestly believe that Obama and his advisers have been on the wrong track since they took office.

Let's examine the past a bit. He immediately went after shovel ready projects to get the construction industry back on it's feet. Anyone with experience in the construction industry will tell you that it takes as much time to get a project started as it does to build it. Sometimes it takes more. If a project should involve the government, it takes twice as long. With all of the different agencies, permits, fees, inspections, planning meetings, making the pols happy, and change orders there is no such thing as a shovel ready project sitting there waiting for the funding to get off the ground. But without real world experience you would not know that.

Since he felt that he had started to help the construction industry, Obama then dished out money to the states to pay for teachers, police, and firefighters. Much of that was not  accepted because the states and municipalities realized that the funding was short term and then they would have the expense for these new jobs in their future budgets. Budgets that were already over strained. But to make another point here, all these jobs that Obama supported with your money were union jobs. What about waitresses and engineers. Factory workers and nurses. How about all the non-union families that were, and still are, in financial pain.

Then, of course, there were the wheel barrows full of money that were pushed out to Obama's supporters in the "green power"industry. You remember. The ones that grabbed the money on their way to bankruptcy court. Good job there oh faithful stewards of our tax dollars! Simply put, the technology of solar energy is not ready for prime time. Wind farms will never be. They will create a sorry sight twenty years from now. Those big tall towers with physically large but electrically small generators on the top are extremely difficult and costly to maintain. In twenty years they will be abandoned and rusting, a blight on the land scape or seascape.

Then the Obama administration took a sudden left turn into health care. Obama wanted the government to control every citizens medical care, except congress of course, and one sixth of the nations economy. Although this program is commonly called Obamacare, he mostly talked about it while others, including a lot of lobbyists, did the heavy lifting. And heavy lifting it was, with over 2,000  pages.

So after four years of wheel spinning we are about where we started. The worst part is, that for the first two years, the Democrats controlled the House, the Senate and the White House. They could have worked wonders. But the net result was nothing. It was time wasted never to be regained. Based on this Obama feels that he deserves another four year to finish what he started. But since nothing has been accomplished regarding jobs and the economy, what does it mean to finish? Really, nothing of substance was ever started.

What if we get four more years of failure? We already have at least three years of high school and college graduates that are struggling to find jobs. Not careers, jobs. If this country ends up with eight to ten years of job depletion we will have stolen the hope of most of a generation. If we don't have people out there working, where will the new technologies come from? Where will the new and better products come from? I'll tell you where they will come from. They will come from the first country that will free their businesses to create without the weight of government holding them down. They will come from the first country willing to be what America used to be. 

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Let's Talk About Money

Some parts of this discussion will be basic and familiar territory to most readers. Hopefully, it will be new to some and starting with basics helps me to organize my thoughts. A little history first. Back when people realized that not all trade was an even item for item swap they knew that they needed a medium to facilitate trade that would signify value but not necessarily of great value in itself. What required was a certain degree of rarity. In some parts of the world cowrie shells were used. Native Americans in the northeast made wampum from quahog shells. Neither of these was terribly valuable but they took time and effort to collect. Time marches on and various metals were introduced as coinage. Governments were formed and control of the money supply was in their pervue. Sometimes, especially during wars, chits were issued on paper to pay soldiers, since transporting heavy coinage in areas of military danger was close to impossible.

More time passes and paper money becomes the world standard. First it was backed by gold. Then it was backed by silver. Now it is backed by the good intentions of the government underwriting the issue. And, as Shakespeare said, "therein lies the rub". How do you anchor the value of paper money backed by a promise? You don't. And I don't. And, for the most part, governments don't. Well, who does? Speculators that work the money market control value. They will buy currencies that are down relative to other currencies and trade them when and where they can get a higher value. The money market, to me, is insanely complicated. But it is the market that controls the value just as with any commodity.

Can the government control value? The government can affect value more than control it. Which brings me to my first point. The U.S. government has a nice euphemism called "quantitative easing". In the past eight years the United States government has built up an irresponsible amount of debt. As a matter of fact, as I write this, it just passed 16 trillion dollars. That, my friends, is unconscionable. So to help to pay off some of this debt they resort to "quantitative easing". Doesn't that sound nice and friendly and benign. It is not. It means, start up the presses and print a bunch of new money. This, of course, dilutes the money supply and makes every dollar in your pocket worth less. So prices go up and net worth, in terms of tangible goods, goes down.

Prices going up should cause the inflation rate to rise, right? Yes, it should. But the government also controls interest rates. Keep those interest rates down and price inflation vanishes as a line item in a statistical analysis spreadsheet.

But low interest rates are good, right? Yeah, if your getting a loan. But loans are hard to come by with all the new regulations and not may people want loans right now anyway with unemployment and such. But all this does have one other effect worth noting. How are you doing with the interest rate on your bank savings account? Getting a great three quarters of a percent are you? Maybe even a full point? So if you trying to save for the future, saving accounts just aren't doing it.

I don't know about you but I'm skittish about the stock market. It seems to be idling between a rock and a hard place. Real estate in out for now. Where can you go? An index fund? But the indices aren't moving. Precious metals? Maybe a metals fund. I have no answers. I doubt that anybody has any real answers. But I do know one thing, the politician that you have supported over the years, and especially the last decade, have screwed you over badly. That is about as rude as you will ever see me get in these posts. And I am sorry but I am bitterly angry. You all deserve better for all that wasted money.

One more brief thought if I may. President Obama has had a hugely unsuccessful four years. He claims that he underestimated the problem and will need four more years to finish what he started. What if, as I believe, he is on the wrong track and gets his four more years. That will be eight years in the history of this country wasted. That will devastate the hopes of half a generation that are trying to start a life. Ponder that if you will.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Conservatives Love Women,Really

If you buy the liberal meme about the conservative "war on women", you are not going to believe this. But I'm going to tell you anyway. About half of the conservatives out there are women. The other half are men. Profound, no? For some reason, the liberals that spin these stories seem to forget one thing. Conservative men have mothers, wives, sisters, daughters, girlfriends, and even women that they just plain like and admire. So the conclusion here is, or at least, should be, that conservatism is not some evil boy's club bent on destroying women for sport.

The liberal spinners would have you believe that conservatives dislike abortion because they want to control women. I think that I can speak for most conservative men, when I say that we realize that we are incapable of controlling women.  And in fact we have no desire to. If there are any doubts, just recall the number of bright young conservative women on stage at the Republican convention that hold or have held high political office.

Conservatives dislike abortion because of moral precepts. We may now get into an area that liberals ignore. When an abortion is performed a child is destroyed. You may not agree, but conservatives do agree on this point. Where there is difference of opinion is at what point in the process does it become a life. There are some that feel that the second a sperm cell meets an ovum life is there. My opinion, for what it's worth, is once there is a fetus and a heart beat can be detected it is a child. The concept of "start of life" is a combination of philosophy and medicine. I doubt there will ever be a universal consensus. Be that as it may, I think all conservative would like to see abortions disappear fro medical practice because nobody wanted one. No I am not naive. But I think if the effort were put forth we could go a long way in that direction.

I have been around long enough to remember when abortion was illegal. I remember the result of back alley abortionists. It was primarily the poor and the repressed that went to these butchers. The result was lives were lost in a most heartless ways through bleeding or massive infections. The rich were able to send their daughters off to Europe for abortions. Some women found doctors willing to perform a "D and C". With all of that in mind, I do not think Roe v. Wade will be overturned any time soon. 

That brings up the question of rape and incest.  These are serious issues. Any woman that has suffered in that way should not wait until she is carrying a child. There are things that can and must be done within the first 24 hours to deal with the situation. Please don't leave a comment telling me this won't cover one hundred percent of the situations. I know that. But we can and should do better.

Having said all that, to me, a man, a conservative, (I know women will beat up on me for both of those faults) once the fetal heart beat is there you have a child. It is no longer about a woman's control of her body. It is about a woman's control of two bodies. Women used to say, "I'm eating for two now". In truth they are living for two. Don't destroy the life within, it is precious. There are many out there that are desperate for a child. Do the right thing save a life and build a family. Either your family or someone else's. Do the moral thing.