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Friday, February 27, 2009

Cheats in Congress

Trust Me, I’m Here to Help You.

“Trust me. I’m here to help you,” says the government.

If I had to choose the world's biggest lie, it would be between the previous remark and the oft used, “The check’s in the mail.”

Have you ever reached the point in a particular situation where you felt almost compelled to throw up your hands scream, “That’s it! I’ve had it! I’m washing my hands of it!”?

That’s exactly the way I feel about Congress as a collective group.

Now, I’m not ranting about the bailout any longer. It won’t do any good. I cringe when I think how it will affect my children and grandchildren, but there’s nothing I can do about it.

I’m just an average Joe Six-Pack on a fixed income dabbling in a few sidelines in an effort to bring in a little more income each month. And if you have any idea of the income of a journeyman writer, you know exactly what I meant by ‘little.’

Sometimes, I wish I had a place up at the lake where I could get up in the morning, hop in my jonboat, drop a line in the water, and let the world go to blazes.

What upsets me is that Congress is the ultimate hypocrite. Tell me this, how many of you make over $137,000.00 a year?

Well, that’s what every last member of Congress made back in 1999. Today, 2009, ten years later, they are making $174,000.00. Do the math and you’ll see that’s right at a 25% increase in salary.

How many of you had your income jump by twenty-five percent? How many of you make $174.000.00?

Years back, Congress voted itself automatic cost of living raises. So every year, they get an automatic raise.

They even got a $4,700.00 raise on January 1, 2009, while thousands upon thousands of plain old American citizens were being given pink slips.

I saw a movie where Washington’s shenanigans were called the ‘Potomac Two-Step.’ And is that appropriate.

Here’s why.

To stop the raises, Congress must vote on them. And neither party wants that to happen.

You see, such a bill must go through committee, and when it hits the committee, you might as well say ‘adios’ because that sucker will never see the light of day again.

In all fairness, some lawmakers have tried, Mitchell D-AZ, Paul R-TX, and Feingold D-WI. These decent folks have introduced bills, and all have me the same fate, merciless deaths at the hands of greedy Congresspeople who should be back in their own states sweeping garbage from the streets.

Now, if you pay attention to politics, you will learn Congress, fearful of voter reaction, did vote to decline the raise for 2010.

Don’t get excited for they specified 2010, not forever. See how sneaky they are? In 2011, they’ll be right back at it.

And these are the same hypocrites who have been lambasting CEOs over the past few months.

If Obama can freeze the seventy senior members of the White House Staff’s pay at $100,000.00, why can’t Congress follow suit? Of course, to be frank, I have reservations about anyone running a house, White or not, being paid $100,000.00.

But then, I’m just a plain old American hick down here in Texas.

But I tell what I am going to do. I’m going to find out which of my senators and representatives took the 2009 raise and campaign against them. I'll vote only for those who refused it or turned it back to the government to go against the horrendous deficit our president has created.

Monday, February 16, 2009

when is a bill not a bill

When is a Bill not a Bill?

Answer me this.

As the world’s population continues to climb, more and more of us are getting on more and more of everyone else’s nerves, right?

Consequently, the necessity for more and more guidelines to prevent such problems is obvious.

Today, people are nailed to the wall and skinned alive for doing something that forty years ago would have been laughed at or at most, resulted in a slap on the wrist.

Examples abound everywhere.

Gone are the old days when local law found a citizen sleeping off too much booze in his car and transported him home. Today, the guy is hauled in and booked, and chances are, will find himself a couple thousand bucks poorer.

Gone are the old days when kids were kids, and a mischievous boy could sneak up on that special girl and give her a sloppy kiss on the cheek. Perhaps the only reprisal he would get was a sharp slap to his cheek, or even more of a punishment, she might even have chased him down and returned his sloppy kiss.

Today, the kid is arrested, charged with sexual assault; outraged parents sue for five million bucks, and the national media interviews child psychologists to determine whether or not global warming has affected the sexual impulses of eight-year-old boys or not.

Growing up, I never paid much attention to the political spectrum. This was America. We were a free people to do as we wished, when we wished, and with no one to tell us otherwise as long as we didn’t infringe upon the rights of anyone else.

Along the lengthy and tortuous journey from the Framers of the Constitution up to the present, there were those who believed they knew what was best for everyone. While most of the time, their zeal did not come to fruition, it did bear fruit enough to begin placing constraints upon American citizens.

With our growth, many of the constraints were necessary, constraints with which I have no argument. With the number of vehicles on the road today and the easy availability of alcohol, tough laws are essential. The same holds true in many other situations.

But, one aspect we seem to have forgotten is that every law that goes into effect takes away a piece of our freedom. And often those who frame these bills, despite their protests otherwise, have their own agendas.

Probably by the time you read this, the president has signed the stimulus bill into law. I wish he hadn’t. I wish the bill hadn’t been jammed through like it was.


Let me name some of the whys I considered major.

First, National Health for EVERYONE. Your doctor will conduct his practice according to federal guidelines.
Second, 300 million for endangered mouse in Pelosi’s district.
Third, 200 million-clean burning power plants
Fourth, 750 million for national computer center
Fifth, 500 million for National Institute of Health.
Sixth, 275 million for flood prevention
Seventh, 200 million for public computer centers at colleges and libraries.
Eighth, 650 million for digital TV converter box coupons. (haven’t we already done this?)
Ninth, 1 billion for administrative costs and construction of national oceanic and atmospheric office buildings.
Tenth, 100 million to construct U.S. Marshals’ office.
Eleventh, 1.3 billion to NASA
Twelfth, 450 million to science
Thirteenth, 300 million - (what a jewel) hybrid and electric cars and golf carts for government employees.

By no stretch of the imagination is this all, but I dare anyone supporting the bill to explain how these are either tax cuts or will stimulate the economy.

One other caveat here. Not counting health care, the items I mentioned only add up to about six or seven billion.

Does anyone have any idea where the other 780 billion is going?

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Two Faced American Business

Cable, a First Cousin to Janus?

I seldom get upset about the craziness of the world about me. I accept, reluctantly, the fact business is interested in my money, not me. Sometimes, I’ve gotten upset with a business and declared I would never go back.

The only problem with such a hasty decision is I end up hurting myself more than anyone else. You see, I am quite aware that no business would miss me if I withdrew my patronage. If you stop and think about it, there are no businesses that would go under if a single person withdrew his patronage.

Of course, if three-quarters of us withdrew our business, we could accomplish something; but have you ever known three-quarters of Americans to agree on anything?

Naturally, small businesses are much more solicitous of customer satisfaction, and that’s why I prefer them.

Big business? That’s a whole new ball game. If you complain to management, they make an effort to salve your wounded feelings. They tell you what you want to hear, but deep inside, they’re just waiting for you to leave and get off their back.

Many of them capitalize on the fact most of us won’t(maybe can’t) change business to a competitor. And, so what if a customer leaves: who’s he hurting?
Certainly not the business.

You stop and think about it, that’s a sad assessment of American business.
But that’s the double standard of too many American businesses. They tell customers what the poor joker wants to hear then do whatever they wish. Two-faced. That’s the only way to describe them.

If the Roman god, Janus, had not been simply a myth, I would seriously have wondered if American business might have been his illegitimate offspring.
Janus was a lower tier god in Roman Mythology. He was the god of doors, gates, that sort of thing. Nothing truly spectacular about him.

You would probably recognize him if you saw one of his statues. A bearded Roman with curly hair on both his heads. That’s right, he’s one who has two faces, back-to-back; two-faced, untrustworthy.

Sometime back, a series of editorial letters concerning added charges for paying cable bills by mail came out in a local newspaper. The letters caught my attention. The main reason was that a friend of mine had just experienced a similar incident with the cable company to which I subscribe.

I didn’t pay a whole lot of attention, figuring it was just another case of someone jumping to conclusions. My hunch seemed correct when a couple days later, the Director of Digital Communications (impressive title, huh?) for my cable company stated in the newspaper the charges were incorrect; he said the company was offering a 99 cent credit to people who used paperless billing. Sounded good to me. Those who continued to pay by mail would not be charged extra. Still sounded good.

And then I received my bill, and all of a sudden, I spotted the old American business two-step. Not only did my bill go up by $1.12, but and I quote “Effective January 1,2009, Time Warner Cable will initiate a Paper Statement Service charge of $.99 per month for customers that continue to receive a monthly paper bill statement.”

Now, I might not be the sharpest stick on the branch, but as my old grandfather would say, “somebody here is as shy of the truth as a goat is of feathers.”
And folks, it ain’t me.

Maybe that director of whatever was telling the truth. If he were, then communications at his company are a lot worse than old George W. had with the national media.

I have one reason not to go paperless. Identity theft.

Every time you turn around, someone has hacked into a database and stolen personal information. You can’t deny that.

I’ll make my company a deal. Give me a signed contract they will reimburse my
entire obligation incurred by identity theft should their database be breached, and I‘ll go paperless.

How about it, folks? Sound fair to you?