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Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Cat Poor

We’re cat poor.

I imagine many of you know exactly what I mean. Oh, you might not be cat poor, but maybe car poor, or dog poor, or gun poor, or clothes poor—you get the idea. You have so many of a particular item that its cost is outrageously out of proportion with your other expenses.

Folks dump cats our in our area, and my wife hates to see any animal abused. I don’t know how many times we’ve sworn ‘no more cats!’

Guess what?

Next morning, a soaking wet kitten wanders up meowing pitifully. Naturally, we have
a new boarder.

It’s nice to have one or two cats around. When they’re small, they’re cuddly and bouncy, darting here, jumping there, pawing at first one thing, then another.
As they get older, they’re not as cute. They eat more. Some grow surly. Whenever you go outside, they rush to meet you, curling around your ankles, doing their darnedest to trip you.

It’s next to impossible to maintain a neat yard, for they sleep everywhere, doo everywhere, leave their hair everywhere, leave piles of feathers from unlucky birds everywhere, and strew half-eaten rats about everywhere.

If you provide sleeping quarters for them, you have to include litter boxes, which they not only fill up regularly, and I mean regularly, and cost to refill. And then you have to buy plastic bags in which to dump the used litter and carry it out to the road for the garbage truck. Contrary to the widely held myth that cats are clean, they can soil an area faster than Obama can blame Bush for the next crisis.

Naturally, if one becomes ill, there is the visit to the vet. Suddenly you find yourself involved in shots, preventive tests, and necessary treatments. More expenses.

Cats are expensive, make a mess, take time to clean up after, tie us down, and seems like they always are trying to trip us.

And that is something to look forward to?

Without them, I’d save money, the place would be clean, we’d have extra time and wouldn’t be tied down, and as we aged, we wouldn’t have to worry about tripping over one and busting a hip or arm.

In the last six years with about the same number of cats, food and care have escalated by twenty-six percent. Another fifteen years, my bill will have jumped by 100%.

Retired teachers have not had a raise in the last six years; social security recipients in the last three. If this continues, I’m going to have problems in the next ten or fifteen years.

I would imagine there are millions out there just like me, making it today, dreading it in the years to come.

With no changes, in the coming years, I’ll have to choose between air conditioning and cats; food and cats.

Party’s over.

Essentially the same relationship exists between 50% of the American citizens and their local, state, and federal governments.

When the financial meltdown comes, and as things are now, it will, what will that 50% do when there are no more handouts? Cats can survive. They can forage.

You say it won’t happen?

You know yourself, governments spend like the proverbial drunken sailor, but when he’s out of money, he has a ship and bunk at port.

Unless you’ve been hiding with Alice down in Wonderland, you are aware of the country’s 14 trillion mess; of Beaumont’s Ford Park’s fiasco that will never be forgotten. Now Beaumont’s neighbor, Port Arthur, is falling into the same trap.

They’re buying an armored car, but, their selling point is that the taxpayers only have to pay a hundred thousand, saving three hundred that the government will provide.

That is the core problem defining our wasteful spending.

The feds will give us our tax money to buy something we could well do without, but because they give such a large chunk, our ‘leaders’ (a laughable use of the word) decide to spend our tax money on an object that would indeed be nice to have, but which we’ve done without for decades and will probably collect dust in the garage except on days the city puts it in a parade.

Port Arthur and Beaumont’s leaders can’t complain about federal waste of money. They waste taxpayers’ money with the best of the Washington spendthrifts.

Forget the armored car. Put that hundred thousand to work on infrastructure; instead of cleaning one block a month, hire unemployed to clear ten blocks a month. That helps more of the citizens.

Unfortunately, you can’t put clean city blocks in a parade.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Chicken Little Is Alive and Well

The last few weeks, we’ve been bombarded with dire threats that the sky will fall if we don’t raise the debt ceiling. The president’s Treasury Secretary, Timothy Geithner claims a financial crisis more severe that the one from which we are now recovering will occur if the ceiling isn’t raised.

The president also insists that eighty percent of the American public wants the ceiling raised. If it isn’t raised, Armageddon is upon us.

He says, if we don’t, perhaps no social security checks, mortgage rates will rise, housing sales will plunge, panic on the world market, destruction of the value of the dollar, and no more kid meals at McDonalds.


Now, I’m not the brightest bulb on the tree, but there’s enough incandescence remaining to realize I’ve just been subjected to a prime example of Chicago politics, 2011 style.

Bully and frighten the people with unverifiable consequences that threaten that which they hold most dear.

Armageddon? Not quite. Despicable politics? You bet!

Did you know that in December, 1973; March, 1979; November, 1983; December, 1985; August, 1987; November, 1995; December, 1995; January, 1996; and September, 2007 that debt ceilings were not raised by the deadline, and the sky didn’t fall? Yep, there was no default.

How can the president and his staff claim such when the 14th amendment to the constitution explicitly says debt payments must be made before any other spending?
If I’m not mistaken, the president is a constitutional lawyer, so he has to be aware of that law.

In late ’95 and early ’96, during a government shutdown, President Clinton used incoming revenues to pay interest on the debt to ward off default.

Many of us who haven’t the good fortune to be born with a silver spoon have been forced at one time or another to pay interest on a bill. You might not have thought of it as interest on your loan, but simply as a gesture to your creditor of you intention to maintain your credit. That’s all the whiz kids in Washington have to do, pay the interest, a mere 20 billion a month.

Let’s talk more about the social security checks. He said he didn’t know if there would be enough money to pay them. He is either prevaricating or ignorant, and no way could you convince me he is ignorant. If he is the ‘professional politician’ he claims, he knows very well over two hundred billion a month flows into the government coffers.

That is enough to cover all social security, Medicare, Medicaid, children’s health insurance, defense, federal law enforcement and immigration, all veterans’ benefits and—and interest on the debt, according to John Lott, economist and author of ‘More Guns, Less Crime’ from University of Chicago Press, 2010.

The present administration claims mortgage interest will rise if the debt ceiling isn’t raised. That doesn’t make sense. If there is less money available, there will be less spending. Lending institutions would be foolish to raise rates, making those reluctant to spend even more disinclined.

I find it hard to believe in policies that have yet to cut the deficit, lower unemployment, or create 200,000 jobs a month.

Now, what about the dollar losing value?

Look at it this way. If the government doesn’t borrow more money, it won’t need the taxes to pay additional debt. If it doesn’t need the taxes, rates could drop eventually, and lower taxes would make the United States more attractive for businesses from other countries.

Pie in the sky? No more than the misrepresentations designed to frighten those on social security and other entitlements.

Oh, yeah, he mentioned that eighty percent of the public supported raising the debt limit, yet CBS News and New York Times poll showed Americans against raising it by 69-24 percent.

Our president dismissed the poll with the condescending response that American citizens do not have the comprehension of the debt ceiling like ‘professional politicians’.

You know what the definition of ‘professional politicians’ is, don’t you? Professional crooks.

You and I have to share some of the blame for this mess. After all, we, the citizens who voted and the citizens who did not vote, are the ones who put those guys up there.

The hubbub reminds me of the spoiled kid whose parents finally got tough and refused to give in. The kid falls down on the floor, kicks his heels, bangs his head, and says he hates you.

Sound familiar?

The sky is still there, and it will be there long after you and I are gone from here.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

A Billion Here; A Billion There; Just Money!

If you’re like me, I’m getting tired of every time I pick up the paper or watch the news, I’m slammed between the eyes with horror stories about the lousy economy.

And it is lousy, although throughout most of Texas, it isn’t as lousy as elsewhere.

What if you lived in Reno or Detroit or Flint? All three have 16+% unemployment and staggering job losses from industry that will never return.

General Motors once employed 80,000 workers in Flint. Today, 8,200. Detroit has lost 323,400 jobs; Reno, 36,000.

We could go on and on, but why torture ourselves?

The economy stinks and Washington is doing little to help.
I know one step to take, and after reading this, I believe you will agree.

I’ve often wondered why our government doesn’t cut out some of the monies sent to other countries and instead use it here, in our country. I don’t mean as gifts, although recent statistics on taxes suggest that almost fifty percent of our citizens (those who paid no taxes) would kill to be first in line for something for nothing.

I’d like to know what percent of that group of non-payers are the true deadbeats; the third and fourth generation entitlement recipients; the welfare cheats; the unemployment thieves; the social security swindlers—

Sorry. Didn’t mean to get carried away on our deadbeats.

Last year, the U.S. handed out billions in foreign aid to other countries for various reasons. That’s bad enough, but wait for the kicker. Sixteen of those countries each hold at least ten billion in U.S. Treasury securities-many hold much more.

In other words, we’re giving foreign aid to some of the world’s richest countries.
Ready for another kick in the rear? We then turn around and borrow money from those to whom we’ve given it.

No wonder we have a $14 trillion dollar debt those incompetents in Washington are arguing over.

That doesn’t make sense to me, but that’s Washington. What do I know? I’m just a average Joe Dunderhead trying to stay within my own budget and pay my bills.

What they’re doing is like you making a gift of a hundred bucks to your neighbor, then turning around and borrowing fifty with the obligation to repay it.

Make sense to you? Doesn’t to me either.

And that isn’t all.

One third of all foreign aid goes to Israel (2.25 billion) and Egypt (1.5 B)for armaments, yet neither is a ‘developing’ country, a prerequisite. (and Egypt hates us except for the few seconds they stick out their greedy hand for the annual check)
Columbia received 561 million for drug abatement; Jordan 540 million to leave Israel alone (that’s right- no mistake); Pakistan 734 million to chase terrorists (your guess as to where they chase them is as good as mine); Indonesia, 159 M for oil reserves; Kenya, 437 million to do as it wishes (no lie here either); and then amounts from 69 million to 474 million for drug abatement to over another twenty-odd countries ranging from India to Russia.

Oops! I forgot Bosnia--43 million for reparations. What reparations? The war ended sixteen years ago over there, and our only involvement was NATO and brokering a treaty between the warring parties.

The list goes on and on.

China-27 million; Brazil-25 million; Mexico-316 million; Philippines-128 million, and Thailand-16 million. Oh yeah, can’t forget Turkey at 8.2 million. And Obama signed a bill that, among other things, gave the Palestinian Authority 500 million.

Now, I know you don’t like looking a figures- math ones at least, but bear with me.

To whom do we owe money? Where to start?
Well, let’s begin with the big boys.

China-1.1 trillion; Brazil-193 billion; Russia-127 billion; India-39 billion; and Egypt-15 billion.

There are more, but you get the idea.

So tell me, how do we stop such flagrant waste of our tax money? Seems to be we get nothing in return.

This suggestion is a simple one, but I’m a simple person. If we give money to a country to whom we are in debt, they must deduct the amount we tender them from what we owe.

We need to do something. I’m no ultra-conservative or ultra-liberal. Sort of a mish mash between them, but I know that sooner or later, money will either run out or we’ll have hyperinflation of 50% monthly like Zimbabwe.

What kind of spark will it take to ignite outrage against the wastefulness with which Washington blows our money?

If I knew, I’d sure as heck touch a match to it.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

On Reflection of Paul Revere's Ride

Listen my children and you shall hear
Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere,
On the eighteenth of April, in Seventy-five;
Hardly a man is now alive
Who remembers that famous day and year.

Most of us have been able to quote that particular stanza of Longfellow’s from memory since childhood. I don’t know if it is still taught in public schools or not.
But, I bet when old Paul leaped into the saddle that night and spurred the animal for Lexington, he had no idea the furor his ride would create over two hundred and thirty-odd years later.

Of course, everyone reading this knows exactly to what I am referring, the brouhaha a few weeks back over Palin’s remark about Paul Revere warning the British.

I’ll be honest. I thought she had goofed. Warn the British? No way!

So, I did what many of her critics should have done. I researched the ride, discovering a letter Revere had written of that particular ride to Clergyman Jeremy Belknap, a gentlemen who held counsel with many of the rebels like Revere.

On page four of his letter, he writes of being captured by the British. They asked his name. Here is what he wrote, without editing. “I told him. it was Revere, he asked if it was Paul? I told him yes He asked me if I was an express? I answered in the afirmative. He demanded what time I left Boston? I told him; and added, that their troops had catched aground in passing the River, and that There would be five hundred Americans there in a short time, for I had alarmed the Country all the way up.”

His words, as he wrote them.

‘There would be five hundred Americans there in a short time.’ Now I don’t about you, but to me, that is a warning.

So why all the fuss about Palin?

Some say she is intellectually dishonest; some say she tries to dictate other people’s opinions; and others claim she is ignorant. (and all this time, I thought those were the prime prerequisites for a successful politician)

Not being a national pundit who is smarter than everyone else, I can’t say whether she is guilty of the assertions.

I do know it was not Sarah Palin who said “I’ve been in fifty-seven states. I have one left to go.” Nor was it Palin who uttered the unbelievably insensitive remark “On this Memorial Day, as our nation honors its unbroken line of fallen heroes, and I see many of them in the audience here today. . .”

Nope, those eloquent observations were delivered by the silvery, but slippery tongue of President Barack Obama.

One pundit jumped her case because in her discussion of Paul Revere, she rambled. I saw the video, and she did. Who doesn’t as Obama’s speech at a recent campaign stop illustrates all too clearly.

“What they'll say is, 'Well it costs too much money,' but you know what? It would cost, about... it. .it. . . it would cost about the same as what we would spend. Over the course of ten years it would cost what it would costs us. All right. Okay. We're going to. It. . . It would cost us about the same as it would cost for about. . hold on one second. I can't hear myself. But I'm glad you're fired up, though. I'm glad."

Now the previous paragraph has to be a strong contender for a playoff spot in the World Series of ‘Rambling’.

All politicians ramble. That’s how they avoid answering us, but the media plays favorites, and Palin makes a good target, which gets them off the hook when they overlook Obama’s pathetic explanation for health reform in this disjointed remark.

“Everybody knows that it makes no sense that you send a kid to the emergency room for a treatable illness like asthma, they end up taking up a hospital bed, it costs, when, if you, they just gave, you gave them treatment early and they got some treatment, and a, a breathalyzer, or inhalator, not a breathalyzer. I haven't had much sleep in the last 48 hours."

All of us garble our messages at times. I always got a big kick out of George W and his Bushisms, but Barack O can match the W goof for goof.

When I first read the following remark, I honestly attributed it to George, but it belongs to our president, “The reforms we seek would bring greater competition, choice, savings, and inefficiencies to our health care system."

I knew immediately the source of the next remark because of the first sentence. “Let me be absolutely clear. Israel is a strong friend of Israel’s.”

Obama? Right. I don’t know about you, but I’ve never known someone to want to be so absolutely clear about everything.

Palin is a politician like the others. Good points, bad points.

You know what tickles me. The media who pushed to have her emails made public came up with zilch—called egg-on-the-face.

If the media isn’t careful, they’ll start pushing voters her way. No one likes to see another treated unfairly, and that’s they way it seems to be going.