Tag Archives: conservative views

Hunger Games Or Gaming Hunger

Just yesterday I hear another of those public service announcements saying that one in five children go to bed hunger ever night.  You’ve seen them in the papers and heard similar stories or seen the non-profit or HHS ads promoting the same idea.  Who wouldn’t want to help starving children?  But the question is first is that true and secondly what is the best way to render meaningful aid to those in need.

As the American sage said there are statistics, lies and damn lies.  Do you really believe that one in five American children are going to bed hunger every night?  I don’t.  It would be nice if every now and then these groups promoting such an idea would publish the details of how they arrived at that conclusion.  I mean the exact details.   There is no way that number is even remotely close to the truth.  Go park outside the school is the poorest neighborhood in your city and watch the kids coming out of school.  Take a look at them and you tell me how many have the appearance of someone starving.  Starving people and children have a distinctive appearance.  We are a very large nation and there is no doubt that there are some children who probably do go to bed hungry at night.  But the unasked question is why are they going to bed hungry.   We have plenty of food.   We ship literally millions of tons of food stuffs overseas every year to the third world countries to augment their food needs.  Do you honestly think our politicians would allow that to happen if our own children were starving at home?  We have many sources of supplying food to the needy.

First there is the Federal government with that bloated food stamp program.  There are approximately 48 million people getting that aid now.  Gee whiz, that is a lot of people, about one in six Americans.  You would think that alone would be enough. But in addition to that with have a plethora of charitable organizations and church associations that also provide aid to those in need including food and shelter.  Your church is probably just like mine and it would come to the assistance of anyone in need short term and help them get to other government sources of aid especially to see that they are fed.   We, the big “we” as a nation and society simply do not allow those we know about to go without food.  That is a fact, not conjecture.  We have to bear in mind that many many of these non profit organizations and government welfare entities have their own agenda.  Follow the money and self interest.  Those government bureaucrats have their jobs at stake.  Same with many of the non profits.  They do some good sometimes and this is not a blanket condemnation but a proposal to take an objective look at them.  Welfare is their “business”.  If their business drops off then they are out of work.   All those thousands of federal employees administering the food stamp program sure don’t want hunger to be eradicated because then they are done, not needed.  They need hunger to justify their position and large salaries.

We may have a distribution problem or identification problem with those few,  very few who have a hunger problem or we may have a societal problem that causes the hunger.   There are some children from well to do families that go to bed hungry and maybe regularly because they have rotten parents who have addiction or other problems and simply don’t see to their needs.  It is not a money problem but a parent problem.   Likewise there are some kids who might not get fed at night even though their parents are there and have the money or food stamps but are indifferent or abusive parents.  The poor, however defined can get the food stamps and feed their children or get food from Catholic charities or Salvation Army if they would make the effort; sadly, many of those parents don’t.  Remember too that the needy children can and do get free breakfasts and lunches at school and can even do so during the summer recess.  There is no shortage of sources for food.  The problem is that society can’t go inside every home at night and assure compliance with decent parenting standards.  The fact that very soon perhaps big brother will be able to do that and might is a topic for another entry.

We as a society and our government have provisions to feed hungry children.  What we lack is the resources and will to have more responsible parents.  When you do have a child truly suffering from hunger I wager that it is almost every time the result of a bad parent not that food is not available to that child.  I mean take a look at the percentage of illegitimate children born in the black community.  It is estimated now to be over 2/3  of all black births.  Bill Cosby and Juan Williams have written spoke about the need for black fathers to be resp0nsible and be dads; dads that take care of their family.   The same sad tale of increasingly higher percentages of  absent fathers is true across the ethnic spectrum.  We have the problem also of the parents who have all the resources; the food stamps and school feeding programs even when they don’t deserve them because they are gaming the system for everything free from society they can get and ignoring their own parental responsibilities; being hedonistic.

Next time you hear the suggestion that we have a hunger problem be sure to make the prop0nent of such a notion give specifics and get into  what the real problem is with the hunger.  It is not lack of food or government and non profit resources being made available.  Our problem with that issue as a society is not in the stars but in our society to paraphrase the Bard.

“If men were basically evil, who would bother to improve the world instead of giving it up as a bad job at the outset?’  Van Brooks, American critic.  http://www.olcranky.wordpress.com

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2 Cents Worth On Life Its Ownself

The offerings here beat the prices at Wal-Mart.  Even those of dubious distinction are still a bargain.  So, with a nod to Blackie we are off again.

Even the most ardent fans of Obamacare must have some pause when they consider the individual mandate that was just struck down by the Federal Court in Virginia.  If the Commerce Clause permits that then there is no limit to the reach of the Federal government into your daily life.  They could require that 25% of all your food purchases by veggies, which might make some moms happy, but many might feel their right of a personal choice has been infringed upon.  It would be easy to issue vouchers (like the ration coupons during the War) and they voucher required that 25% of it use be for veggies.  Ponder that a moment.

It ain’t just olcranky here worrying about the expansion of Chinese military power for the long-term.   Those smart folks in notoriously pacific Japan have begun revising their strategic military policy to counter some of that Chinese threat.   Lots of the “smartest guys in the room” are beginning to get nervous about the future threats from China, perhaps we should take note ourselves.

The Fed’s announced purpose in the latest QE2 600 billion printing binge is to hold down long term rates.  Yet, since that announcement became official the rate on the 10 treasury has risen about 1 percentage point.  That affects the mortgage rates and other lending rates for small business.  How’s that working out for us?   Do those Fed printers really know what they are doing or is the King not wearing any clothes?

Over the course of history there have been many attempts to redistribute the wealth of a society to make everything “fair”.  That effort has existed since the time of the Jubilee in the Old Testament to the Soviet Union.  I have a question.  If that idea is so good and makes everything fair for everyone then why did they have to repeat it every few decades?

The subject of tax rates and tax reform is much the rage these days.  We got a brief extension of the current rates by a whisker past the lame duck Congress.  Olcranky would like to see a completely new tax system and tax code.  If he were King for a day the first rule in the endeavor would be a requirement that the new tax code couldn’t be more than 50 pages long, including definitions and footnotes.   If it can’t be done in that length then it is too complicated or too many special interests (crony capitalists, public unions, etc) are having too much influence in its drafting.   Like folks did in the old days when they paid off their mortgage they would have a party and invite family and friends and burn the mortgage; we need a bonfire for the 70,000 existing tax code.

Most of you have never heard of or have any idea what the CFR is.  Good for you but you should.  It is the Code of Federal Regulations.  It is hundreds  of thousands of pages long.  Tt is written by almost all Federal agencies, bureaus and commissions.  From the Labor Department, OSHA, EPA, FCC, Commerce department, Transportation Department, etc.  The list alone would take pages to delineate.  Those regulations have the force of law unless and until overturned by a Court and to win a challenge you normally have to prove the regulation is frivolous, or arbitrary and unreasonable which is a very high hurdle legally.  These are laws not approved by Congress but formulated by bureaucrats with pointy heads and making over $100,00 per year to make your life better.  At least that is their story and they are sticking to it.

Before you rush out to buy that electric car you best consider the charging issues.  You do know that you can’t just plug it into your existing outlet.  If you did it would take even longer than the estimated 8 hours of charge time.  You will have to install a new 240 watt outlet.  Get an estimate from your local electrician.  What do you do in the middle of the night when there is an emergency and you have to drive 30 miles but the useful electric life is only for 10 miles?  We won’t even talk about the increase in your electric bill each month.  But you can breathe that pure air (which is already 80% nitrogen).  When are they going to tackle all that excess and damaging nitrogen?

Many disparage investing in gold alleging that it has no inherent value and that the current prices are artificial and will fall.  I’m not smart enough to predict that but I know people since recorded history have always treasured gold in every society.  When civilized nations, empires or people spread out to the far corners of the earth and met the savages they always noted that even the savages liked gold and sought it out.  Don’t argue with history or the markets I say.  It might only be good for filling cavities but people like it and it will always have some value and it can’t file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy like the “Golden” GM.

Great Britain is enduring another strong snow storm and bout of cold weather just like they had last year.  I wonder how much longer they can endure all this Global Warming? 

It is pretty amazing that a new-born infant smells so special and nice.  You don’t have to add lotions, creams or powder and they smell terrific.  Well, except when they have been “busy”. 

“Men show no mercy and expect no mercy, when honor calls, or when they fight for their idols or their gods.”  Schiller www.olcranky.wordpress.com

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Government Motors Scam–Wow, GM Can Survive On Unlimited US Funds

It is with increasing disgust and even outright anger that I watch the guy in the WH travel about and tout the “rescue” of GM and Chrysler.  To hear that version millions of jobs would have been lost but for the government intervention and that only government could ride to the rescue.   It is held up as an example of benefits of a large and domineering government presence in the market place.  The money poured into those companies is claimed to be a tremendous success and those who disagreed are supposed to humbly bow their heads in awe and seek forgiveness for their shortsightedness.   So often in the arguments about the economy I can only use my common sense and do some math and try to ascertain the truth about what is occurring because some specialist or economists is spouting facts and figures that come from a computer model and we don’t really know what the situation is  and the facts are for ourselves.   The GM/Chrysler case is something I do know something about at least and can speak with some confident authority, it feels good on that score at least but it doesn’t take away the agony of seeing the government continue to ever expand its scope and power over us and our livelihoods.

I have spent over 40 years specializing in Chapter 11’s and workouts.  I have been involved in a number of large cases during that time.  I know how bankruptcy works and rights of creditors and shareholders in those proceedings.  The WH in early ’09 constantly made the claim that this was an all or nothing situation.  That either the government bailed out GM/Chrysler or they would both be liquidated and all supporting parts manufacturers and dealerships would likewise go under.   They claimed it was about saving US jobs.  That whole scenario is a lie and was from the beginning.  It was a lie from not taking the time and effort to find out how these situations play out in bankruptcy or knowing the truth and deliberately ignoring it.

Assume the government had not done a thing, not advanced one thin dime to GM or Chrysler.   What would have been the outcome.   First of all the rule of law would have been followed and more importantly respected and held up to the public as a good thing.   Not something to be tossed aside when it was inconvenient.  GM and Chrysler would have filed for Chapter 11.  Those proceedings would have been successful.  You can rewrite history but it doesn’t take any stretch of informed thinking to postulate the most likely outcome.   The two companies do make products that some Americans want and will pay for at competitive prices.  For sure their truck divisions, pick ups and SUV’s would have continued to have a viable market.  No doubt at least a few of their standard vehicles would still have had a market also.  The companies would have ended up being owned by their creditors.   The shareholders would have been mostly wiped out.  They may have retained a very small piece of the company so a public market would still be extant.   They would have downsized for sure and that was probably something that needed to happen anyway.   And the unions would have  been given a real haircut on wages and benefits.  The companies would have emerged with new debt that was sustainable and competitive pricing.   Yes, there would have been some loss of jobs.  But at least the jobs remaining would have been real jobs that the market place could and would sustain rather than jobs that are totally dependent on subsidies from Government, Inc. as far as the eye can see.   Maybe 10 thousand jobs lost, maybe 20 thousand, and real pain for some. But we have had pain anyway and we the taxpayers would not have been out 70 billion!–and counting.

Now we have a GM/Chrysler that it on the public dole for Lord only knows how long.  Don’t forget that the $7500 subsidy for those Volts is coming out of your pocket and mine and we haven’t even discussed the pension obligation that the US stepped up to take own along with the health care benefits for people who could retire in their early 50’s for heaven’s sake.  Don’t you wish you could retire with those pension payments at age 52?

We all know the real reason the WH took the action it did in ’09.  It was politics pure and simple.  It was a giant payoff for the UAW and labor unions generally.  The Democrats in control took 70 billion of our dollars and bought votes with it.  That is the truth.   If GM/Chrysler had gone through a legitimate and legal Chapter 11 proceeding they would be building cars today but there would have been a political price to pay for the Democrats and they weren’t willing to do the right thing for the country.  It is especially galling since they didn’t even have to do any fund-raising for all those votes they just used our money.   The WH didn’t save jobs, it  saved the UAW and its political power structure. 

We haven’t even discussed here the appalling lack of respect for the law that the Administration showed when it did the Chapter 11 and rammed this matter through with thuggery and threats to anyone who dared to oppose their view.  If an attorney in  a real case had had such conflicts of interest and had engaged in such fraudulent claim buying and manipulation he would have been turned into the Justice Department and the local grievance committee. 

If you are thinking of buying a GM or Chrysler I urge you to think again.  Think about exactly what type of crony socialism and outright Chicago thuggery you are supporting with that buy.  It is a Faustian bargain.

The Sun shines bright and is warm but there is nothing brighter or warmer than the smile of a child.   http://www.olcranky.wordpress.com

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Water, Water, Everywhere

It is with alarm that thinking people are very concerned about the latest legislation proposed in Congress to expand the authority of the EPA to regulate and control another vital area of our economy and private lives.  The EPA from its inception has had the power unfortunately to control and regulate the “navigable waters” of the US.   That phrase has a long and well established history in the law under the Commerce clause of the Constitution.  The interpretation is sadly over broad in the first instance.  It has historically meant that the waters had to be large enough to support shipping.

The Courts over the years have further refined that definition to mean waters that can be modified to support shipping.  Thus a pretty small creek already was subject to Federal regulation.   The large rivers and lakes throughout the US have long be also subject to the control and regulation of the US Corps of Engineers.  Over the last three decades though the Corps has become in many instances nothing more than a branch office for the EPA.  The Corp mostly only regulates for safety issues such as dams, levees and the like.  It is the EPA that gets to swing the big stick of control by enforcing its rule to protect the water if any activity or agents are deemed to have a material “impact” on the quality of the water.  Of course the EPA gets to determine what is an “impact” and what will affect quality.   No one argues against have clean and safe water for our personal use or our industrial use.  The rub comes when the EPA is setting regulations to support some much large social or policy agenda and uses its powers to further those aims which are well beyond its original precept.   Such as a green agenda or a climate change agenda.  That is well beyond assuring safe, clean water.

The new legislation being proposed will drop the word “navigable” from the law.  So that the EPA has jurisdiction over all the “waters” of the US.  Under the already existing laws the EPA was allowed to regulate and control not just the navigable waters but all  the drainage areas and basins that affected the river or lake.  That is already a huge slice of America.  Now with the broader definition they can expand exponentially their powers to regulate.  Every drainage ditch, creek that you literally could step over and all those private ponds and livestock tanks in the US will be subject to EPA regs.   You might just roll your eyes and say well, it won’t have any effect on me in Milwaukee or Kansas City.   You better think again.  Those private livestock tanks number in the hundreds of thousands.  Likewise there are countless little creeks and rills running throughout the country that ultimately feed into one of the larger rivers.   Cattlemen have dug out and created Lord only knows how many thousands of these things.  It might not be much of an issue on the Upper West Side of Manhattan but it is everywhere else, especially west of the Mississippi.

Can you imagine the cost to ranchers of cattle, sheep, goats and horses and any other livestock if they have to control the drainage into and out of those tanks?  They use chemicals on their ranches, the livestock create their own mess by heeding the call of nature where the mood strikes them including when they are standing on the bank of the water tank.   They will be able to dictate what you can do with your yard and garden area if you have a little rill running behind your house that is three feet wide but your land drains into it.   They might decide those composts plots for your tomatoes are a danger to everyone downstream.  You think that is an exaggeration?    Who would have thought the Feds would issue rules to protect a 1 inch fish that no one cares about that jeopardize the livelihood of thousands of farmers in central California?  Never underestimate the thirst for power and control of a Federal bureaucrat or Federal judge supporting them.

The EPA will be able to control any discharge of any chemical, including natural chemical like compost matter over virtually the entire US.  Just look at a map or take a drive out West and look at all those water tanks.  They will be able to control all drainage issues to and from those creeks and tanks.  You likely will have to get a permit to dam up a small creek on your own property even if it is miles from any “public” water source.   Your livestock might  die waiting for the approval process to be completed.  But, hey, we’ll stimulate the economy because of all those thousands of extra Federal employees that will be needed to make up rules and enforce them.   Between the new EPA hires and those at the IRS to enforce the health care mandates we will be able to tax, spend and regulate our way out of the recession.  The Feds aren’t just a menace but are menacing.   It is a long way from Cody, Wyoming to Washington but we are told those folks who’ve never been west of the Appalachia chain know best about everything and they are only doing it for our own good.  Gee, I have more faith in the public myself, I think they can usually get what is best for them without outside help.

“There is no nonsense so arrant that is cannot be made the creed of the vast majority by adequate governmental action.  B. Russel  http://www.olcranky.wordpress.com

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Health Care And Too Big To Fail

Since last fall we have had a great deal of discussion and debate concerning the phrase of too big to fail (TBTF) which was a newly coined term created seemingly just for this current economic mess.  That concept led to the TARP; it also produced the TALF program, remember that?  Likewise, a substantial portion of the Stimulus bill was indirectly to support the same idea that some companies were TBTF.   Additionally, we must recall the Federal Reserve has gone to extraordinary lengths to prop up those institutions with their 1.5 trillion dollar purchase of mortgage-backed securities, treasury bills and the simple act of printing more money and keeping the funds rate a virtually zero.  Yes, some of those actions and some of that money was for the general economy allegedly but huge bundles went directly to those TBTF concerns.

First it was Fannie and Freddie, they were followed by AIG and after Lehman collapsed they blinked again even worse and the major banks were brought into the fold along with GM and Chrysler.   The worst of the panic is over.   The economy is still hurting badly and will continue to do so for years to come especially if the current proposals for cap and tax and health care and the other tax increases all take effect.  The theory was that these TBTF’s went down or any one of them it would destroy the economy.  Well, I am not an economist but I have dealt with bad times and struggling companies during my 43 year career and have seen over pretty severe down turns.  The ’70’s were no picnic.  That entire decade was a downer for those of you too young to know about it.  Here is not the place to examine in detail the likely results if we had let those institutions go under or some of them.  If Fannie and Freddie went down there would still be a demand for housing and house loans and a profit to be made there.  The S and L’s made money for decades doing just that.   Lots of big investment houses, many foreign might have lost lots of money on an AIG failure but all those policies would have been honored which is much more important to my mind.  The decision to bailout GM and Chrysler and have them become Government, Inc. entities was clearly a political decision not an economic one.  New smaller companies would have emerged from a Chapter 11 and no one would have been left without a car if they wanted to buy one. 

We made a mess of things by allowing ourselves to be duped with that concept of TBTF.  Yes, things would have been difficult if they had gone down.  But I can argue just like the White House that but for those actions things would have been better by now, not worse.    They say everything would have been much worse if we hadn’t taken all those actions.  An argument can be made to the contrary very cogently.  Remember that only 350 billion of the TARP  money had been spent by inaugural day.  Everything else came after that date.  The GM/Chrysler bailout, the extra money to the institutions, Stimulus, TALF and all the buying by the Fed at the urging of the WH.   Whether you agree or not is not important, but I bet most of you would agree that it hasn’t been handled well.  It could have been done better.  I favor letting any failing company to fail, others would promote more government regulation and takeovers.  Guess a lot depends on your trust level in the free market system vis a vis Government.  Take your pick.  I will trust a businessman any day over a politician.

However we now will soon face another serious problem of the same ilk.  All the current proposals for health care reform will raise taxes greatly and will severely cut back on expenditures to hospitals, insurance companies and doctors.  There will be special taxes assessed against the medical device makers and pharmaceutical companies.  Hospitals do go broke in spite of what you may think about them making way too much money. I have represented three hospitals over the years in Chapter 11.  Yes, the insurance companies will get more customers but they will also have to add many new ones that carry much higher risks and thus larger claim payouts.  Doctors facing cutbacks will make choices.  Many will decide to move locations, probably to the larger urban areas.  Not many will quit practicing altogether but those moves will further deplete the need for medical care in the rural and outlying regions.  Many of the health insurance companies are affiliates or subsidiaries of life insurance companies.  If some of them go under because they can’t make sufficient profits then that will impact the life company they are affiliated with.  Those life policies will be endangered and those annuities that many people bought.

We need to think long and hard now on the front end how we are going to deal with those hospitals, insurance companies and drug makers that are TBTF.  Will we even acknowledge that concept for any of them?  What about the drug company that has promising research for a specific cancer cure but then goes under due to the weight of the new taxes imposed on it and the reduction in the tax breaks for research.  Trust me there will some of these entities that do go under as the Government, Inc. health program develops over the next decade.   They are proposing a 21 % cut just for the doctors.  Would you like a 21% cut in your pay today?  How would that effect you?  For some such a cut would produce bankruptcy.  If you live in an outer suburb and have only two hospitals and one goes under then you might have to drive 50 miles for medical treatment or wait inordinate amounts of time at the survivor hospital.    Are we going to simply bailout these failing hospitals, insurance companies, and pharmaceutical companies like we did GM?  Where is that money allocated in the CBO report.   www.olcranky.wordpress.com

“The lust of government is the greatest lust.”   James Harrington

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2 Cents Worth–Constitution, Dollar, Sports, Weather

It appears we will have some sort of health reform bill in the near future.  Forgetting all the political and indeological arguments I do wonder how much more it will cost each of us.  The free lunch analogy will apply here like it does to everything.  To pay for all those without coverage who say they can’t afford it will cost something and there is only one place the money can ultimately come from–you and me.  Regardless of how it is structured or the nomenclature used the cost will be passed to us directly or indirectly.

With health care I note that the Dems still will not allow an amendment to specifically deny coverage to illegal aliens.  In my home county I pay $1500.00 per year for the county hospital tax and that facility’s patients are now majority illegals.  I got no problem with charity for anyone.  But I do have a real problem with pre natal care for months before delivery and other like medical services.  Mexico should be responsible for its own health care issues. 

Have you noticed the gyrations of the players in the NFL lately?  They are getting more and more animated with each passing year.  I found it appalling and disgusting myself.  Sportsmanship should be a vital part of any sporting activity.  This fist pumping, jumping around like rabbits in heat and finger pointing is narcissitic and self promotion.  A gentleman or real man should never act that way especially after he has done something well.  A simple handshake with teammates, a slap on  the back or wave of the hand is enough.  They can yell with their teammates as loud as they want.   Just don’t “play” to the audience.  It is becoming more like WWF every week.  A vaudeville of true athletic contests.

I wonder why the Army and Marines don’t bring back the Browning Automatic rifle as part of their regular arms for the combat platoons and companies.  Talk with any of the older vets from WWII or Viet Nam and you will  find they loved those heavy 50 caliber machine guns and that Browning.  Those modern rifles are about the size of a .22 and have no “knock down” or killing power.  Those heavy bullets from the Browning will go through walls and certainly bring down the opponent in a firefight.  Ask the soldiers that is what they want in those moments of sheer terror when the bullets are flying.   Each platoon should have at least one of them.

Have you noticed how no matter when Easter comes there is always a cool spell that accompanies it?  Whether it is an early one in March or late in the third week of April it seems mother nature also wants us to pull out the sweaters one last time before the settling in of warm weather.

Why do I so often have to sit beside someone on the plane who chews gums incessantly?  Not only do you have to see the movement of their jaws but inevitably they smack and slurp the gum.  I don’t care if they chew but put a sack over their head at least so I don’t have to particiapte.

There is something always so refreshing and invigorating about standing up high on the mountain side in Colorado or the other western states and lookint out over the great vistas.  There is one spot on the highway from Colorado Springs as you head west toward Breckenridge where you can stop and see for at least 50 miles across a wide valley and up to the next range of mountains.  It is like looking at the Grand Canyon.  At least for a few moments the politics and worries of the economy don’t seem so bad as you sit there and take in the view.

Will the US dollar slowly evaporate like a drying lake bed during a drought or will it collapse quickly in an avalanche?  Current policy from D. C. and the Treasury and Fed are weakening the dollar and the continuing deficits for everything on the Dems wish list and the soaring debt guarantee the fall of the dollar.  That fall will damage our economy for years and years regardless of any other factor.  Others around the world will suspect, rightly so, that we will be tempted to either simply print more money to pay off the debt with cheaper dollars or else tax ourselves into oblivion and that will likewise curtail any economic growth.  Unless the course is changed within a couple of years it will be too late to stop this disaster.  The correction will take a generation.   If you think things are difficult now wait until the dollar has been devalued by 30% in the next few years.  Try getting a job then.

It is time to revive the idea of a national Constitutional convention.  Most folks only think of the method of amending the Constitution by the 2/3rds of each house of Congress and then  a submission to the States for approval by 3/4ths of them.  But there is the alternate method of having 2/3rds of the States demand the call for a convention to propose amendments.  There was growing talk of considering that in the late ’70’s which most of you won’t recall but then Reagan came and the need and seeming need for it diminished.  Now with the polarization of the nation growing more apparent with each passing day perhaps it is time to finally do that.  The basic amendments would allow the country to split along ideological lines and each area implement its own version of the welfare state or not.  Then we wouldn’t have to argue so much with each other.  Those who want a socialized society could have it and if they thrive good on ’em.  Others could take a different path.  The Dems could allow every illegal in their areas to instantly become voters and citizens if they wanted.  Of course with the division of the political power they really wouldn’t need those votes any more; one wonders if they would be as anxious to include them if they didn’t bring needed political clout to the table.  The Dems would already run their areas.  The common defense and other vital issues of interstate commerce would remain a national matter as long as it would work. 

“The iniquities of the wicked ensnare him, he dies for lack of discipline, and because of his great folly his is lost”  Proverbs   www.olcranky.wordpress.com

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Divided Nation or Divide the Nation?

During my lifetime there have been repeated comments on occasion about how the US was divided into two groupings based on political outlook.  It always was about more than just Democrat or Republican.  It broke along conservative versus liberal perspectives in the most general way.  This talk was first more rampant during the ’60’s as there were those who had an international and socialist outlook on the world and  US society counterbalanced by those who adhered to a much more traditional look at our nation and its position in the world.  Those suggestions that we should divide the country and let the left and rights go their separate ways have been around from our very birth as a nation. 

The first serious discussions of secession did not come from the South but rather from the New England states in the early 19th century.  That was the time period when the English and French were both harassing our shipping and the Embargo Act was being enforced half heartedly to restrict foreign trade.  Many in Massachussetts and Connecticut were very upset because their livelihood was dependent on foreign trade and they felt the US government was not doing enough to protect American shipping and they were really mad about the Embargo Act which attempted to shut down all trade with Britain and France.  There were serious rumblings about secession by those states but the international situation improved and the pressure of the issue faded before the momentum built.  Free trade was restored and the matter dropped.  The next serious talk of secession was in the 1850’s shortly before the War.  There were many scholarly works on the topic.  Sound legal arguments could and were made that the individuals states were sovereign prior to the Constitution and still retained their complete sovereignty after the Constitution was adopted.   Just like a country is free to leave NATO if it chooses; the argument was made that the Constituion was a freely made compact among equals and that each retained the right to withdraw.  Obviously there were differences of opinon. 

During the ’30’s the gap between right and left was even more  intense than it is now.  The worst atrocities of the Soviets and Stalin were not known or were intentionally not reported by sympathetic observers.  Of course the observers of those days went there with preconceived notions about the Soviets or they would not have been allowed to go in the first place and what they observed was strictly limited to what the Soviets wanted them to see and hear.  Those on the right in the ’30’s felt very much left out because they were then outnumbered in Congress and the White House.  The radical labor movements were  more active and vocal than they are today.  Again there was discussion about whether the nation could survive as one unit because the vision of each camp was so different. 

Now there has been renewed discussion over the issue of the separation of the nation into two parts.  There were the recent comments of the Texas Governor about secession.  I heard so many commentators saying both jokingly and seriously that the issue had been decided by the War Between the States.  Legally that is not true at all.  The Yankess won the war.  The South surrendered.  That was all that was established as a result of that war.  Please look up and read some of the arguments made about secession before the war.  Many Yankees were in favor of letting the South go and supported the legal and Constitutional arguments that they had a legitimate right to do so.   As always the real facts are more complicated than  the historic sound bites crawling across the bottom of CNN’s screen.

Now the arguments for division are resonating again.  The Texas Governors has even gotten press for his off hand comments about secession.  Maybe we would all be happier if we did divide the nation into two camps.  Why have the turmoil and disruption of contrary and very different views of our future.  Those views do not appear reconcilable at the moment.  There is a sensible way to do it without the necessity of another war.  California, and perhaps Oregon and Washington along with the New England states and one or two from the Midwest like Michigan would make a natural fit.  They are ideologically aligned.  That could be the Coastal US.  The South, most of the Midwest and the West could be Continental US.  We wouldn’t have to abide  any longer those views each camp finds so repugnant about the other.   The disagreements between these two region are profound as we all know and should be intelligent enough to recognize.  I can’t fathom a state that would put Charles Schumer in the Senate and I am sure some on the Upper West Side would assess me as worse than a yokel.  Each of these new nations would have ample natural resources and access to the oceans of the world.  Those contentious issues would be resolved in a more sensible and less threatening way.  Everyone could be happy. We wouldn’t have to constantly be blaming “them” for everything that was wrong.  Each new nation would reap the rewards of its vision of the world and each would bear the consequences of bad policy.

The Coastal US could open it borders and allow illegals complete entry to their nation and grant immediate citizenship if they liked.  They would be free without a filibuster to raise taxes on individuals and companies as high as they liked.  They could punish the rich to their hearts content and even redistribute the wealth on any basis they thought prudent and their government could take over and run any industry for the good of the people.   They could run up debts as they liked and have deficits as long as they wanted and provide free government run health care for everyone from cradle to grave.   Those trouble makers with access to firearms would be a thing of the past and they could outlaw any gun ownership–only the government would be allowed to have any weapons.  They could bypass the paperwork hassle of the proposed Card Check uni0n sign up system and mandate that everyone had to join a union at age 18.  They could have judges on their courts who couldn’t win elections as legislators and who love re-writing the law as they believe it should be to conform to their world view and cultural instincts–activist from head to toe.  Coastal could be as “progressive” as it liked without anyone trying to step on the brake.  The New York Times could even be subsidized by them.  Everyone could be made to drive a green car and install solar or face jail time.  They could do all this because the left in Coastal would have such an overwhelming majority that there would be no opposition and they wouldn’t have to give a moment’s thought to the opinions of the yokels in the hinterland.  They could terminate their war on terror for real because they would be such a feel good and groovy place that no one in the world would dislike them.  They could offer a blanket apology for everything and anything to the entire world.  It would be their political nirvana.  If all those ideas are good ones then they would prosper and be quite happy and good riddance to those troglodytes in Continental. 

The Continental US could shut down its borders, deny any benefits to illegals such as schooling and free health care and deny citizenship to illegals born here as the original 14th amendment intended.  They could lower taxes on individuals and companies.  They could reform health insurance by requiring a vigorous competition in a free market.  The governmental powers would be restricted and required to be those essential to the public good and safety and regulators and bureaucrats would be reined.   The taxes of the Continental US would be very low so as to allow the maximum amount of tax revenues to be collected at the state and local level to be used and utilized as each state and locality saw  fit.  Contintental could burn coal to its heart’s content and drill baby drill.  Judges would be required to interpret the law and never allowed to mandate new law from the bench.  Debt and deficits would be limited against projected revenues and the books of Continental would have to be kept just like the books of any public company.  No “off  book” accounting would be allowed.  Again the majority would be large and there would not be the inconvenience of stalmating debate with the opposition.

What not let everyone have the nation and the future they wish.  All things and Empires come to an end.  I can’t imagine anything I have in common with Bernie Sanders or Carl Levin and I am sure they feel the same way about me.  So why put up with each other?  It is not written in the stars we have to co-exist in the same nation. 

The ten year T-bill rate is now up to 3.35.  You give some thought to why that is happening.  Your analysis will not comfort you about the future of our economy.

Read more at www.olcranky.wordpress.com and the commentary on Texas secession written months ago.

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Treasury Off the Reservation?

The premier cabinet positions and the ones that have the longest history are Defense, State and Treasury.  Of course in the old and more honest days, Defense was called the War Department.  It was only after WWII that political correctness started making inroads and euphemisms became the standard of the day and the War Department was changed to the Department of Defense.   Over our history we have had some quite bright fellows as Secretary of the Treasury.  Hamilton was the first leading light in this regard.  Samual Chase during the War Between the States was the architect of the financial schemes that allowed the Yankees to fund their war effort to invade the South.  He was clever, no doubt about it.   He had greater resources at hand than his counter part in the South and used them well.  The Yankees used their industrial base and control of finances to maximum advantage under Chase.  By the way he and Lincoln were bitter political enemies and many speculated rightfully that he had his own ambitions for the White House.   He was also a target of the Boothe conspiracy that ended in the assassination of Lincoln.

A little study of history and some common sense make it apparent that the only reason for a Treasury Department is if we have a capitalist economic system.  That is its raison d’etre.  If the Government is socialist or communist then you don’t need a Treasury department at all.  A simple Comptroller to disburse funds would suffice.  After all under such a system the Government owns everything and controls everything in the economy.  The purpose of the Treasury is to support and nurture private enterprise.  Yes, does  issue Government debt but only for purposes of fostering a free flow of commerce throughout the nation which in turn produces tax revenues for the Government to function.  It is there to sustain a banking system for the private economy.    The whole idea of taxes implies a captitalist system.  Stalin didn’t need taxes to run the Soviets.  He owned everything already.  There was no one to tax but the Government itself.  Again if you don’t have a capitalist system their is no need for a banking system as we know it.  A money dispensary to convert notes to cash would be sufficient.    In a socialist system you don’t need a bank to start your small business venture.  Under the capitalist system you go to a bank with your plan and proposals and projections and seek funding to start your barbershop.  But in the socialist system you ask a bureaucrat if you can run 0ne of the state owned barbershops.  There is no need for banks or a Treasury. 

I fear our current Treasury is going very far afield from its intended purpose.  Its mission is being changed to foster Government programs rather than the private economy.  The bailouts and takeovers of private industry are occurring at break neck speed.  Our Treasury will soon be that dispensary to hand out funds to those favored by those in power and for no other purpose.  We are watching this transformation with our eyes wide open.  But it is incremental in its growth and many are not looking at the big picture and  nor looking far enough down the road.   I think we are better off having some banks fail and yes, maybe have some temporary pain in our economy, than  we are having the Government take over a vast majority of our banking system.  Once the Government owns the banks then they have become nothing more than an arm of the Government.  Regrettably the current Treasury department is helping with this program rather than opposing it.   I suppose the only good news is that if we continue on this road we will eliminate at least one Government bureaucracy and all those employees because it simply won’t be needed anymore.  We need Treasury to do its  job to support private enterprise and not be a co-conspirator with Congress to socialize our economy.

Of all the statistics and numbers I have seen  bandied about in the news over the last week or so, the most troubling was the information from the census bureau about the birth rate.  Births are up substantially it appears.  The largest increase if over 50 years according to the reports.  What is so sad was the detail that of all those births about 40% were to unwed mothers.  No matter what happens with anything else we are doomed as a nation if that number holds true.  The family unit is vital.  A mom and child (or children) are not a good unit for society in large numbers.  The implications of those numbers overshadow so much else.  They bode ill I fear for the future.

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AIG Bonus Witchhunt

There has been an enormous hue and cry in the last few days about the bonuses paid to some executives at AIG for last year’s work.  Even the guy in the White House made threats against these people and likewise the chorus from the politicians is loud and strong.  They make it sound like these folks robbed an armored car carrying your money in it.  As I have written before on these pages I have had some dealings with AIG in the courtr0om in times past and I frankly don’t like them.  I found them to be unfriendly and not inclined to deal fairly with others.  I have no sympathy for their plight.  However I do have a regard for the rule of law and I don’t like hypocrisy at all.  It is especially the undeserving that test our devotion to the idea of the rule of law.  It is easy to agree with the rulings we like and to applaud the contract interpretation that matches our own inclinations.  It is when the recepient of the the law’s favor is not likeable that our mettle is tested.   This right- wing semi -Liberaterian does have a real passion for our rights and that rule of law.  It is what allows us to move up the step ladder of success in our country and prevents plutocrats from becoming embued with the power of the law on their side.  The law is on the side of right, not the side of any ideology.  At least that is the way it should function.  Let’s review a little history here and see if the current outrage fits the circumstances or is merely a convenient cover for political ploys.

First, it is my recollection that AIG did not go knocking on the door of the Feds asking for anything.  It was the Feds that dictated how things were to be done.  No money had to be advanced to AIG.  Its primary business is insurance and those companies are regulated by the States, not the Federal government.  It also had a holding company and other subsidiaries involved in the market trading.  I have written before that the company and its shareholders might well have been better off if they had allowed the holding company to file a Chapter 11 and if any of the insurance companies were indeed insolvent then they would have been placed into receivership by the respective State regulators.  From the reports it appears that the insurance portion of their empire was sound and profitable.  It was the other market trading businesses that were the losers–the ones dealing in those credit default swaps and such.  There is no doubt such a move would have been better for the shareholders of AIG.  I don’t know what their prospects would have been for a successful plan of reorganization but at least they would have had a chance.  The main creditors were not holders of insurance policies with loses but those parties they dealt with on the swaps.   You have seen in the last few days were most of the money went that they paid out from the funds given them by the Feds.  It was for those institutional lenders, banks, and private investement houses ar0und the world. 

The Feds came in and insisted that AIG agree to their program and agenda.  The company was denied the option of even seeking a Chapter 11 and the shareholders were not allowed to vote on the agreement in advance.  The Chapter 11 would have prevented all those bonuses from being paid.  The bankruptcy proceeding would have voided those contracts and those executives would have had a claim like everyone else owed money.   The bankruptcy does allow a priority claim for wages and salaries but it is limited to a few thousand dollars.  If negating those contracts with employees was so important there was a way to do it.  The government foreclosed that avenue and accepted those contracts when it used force majuere to seize the companies.

These people all had contracts and apparently performed as specified in the contracts and earned their money as much as anyone else.  I mean what social justice is there for a rock star with a high school eduction and limited command of the English language earning hundreds of thousands for a one night concert?   He performed and got paid.  These people had contracts.  They continued to work and perform  their duties.  No one asked them their opinion of the government takeover.   It was imposed on them.  Do I like it that all that money went to them?  No I do not.  But I am glad that the rule of law prevailed and very dismayed that these people are now being threatened publicly by our highest officials.  It is outrageous that they were paid these hugh sums of money but the outrage would be if the Government extorted the money back from them.  The Government should have to honor contract rights like the rest of us.  The Government took the company the way it found it.  The government had options.  Now it is having buyer’s remorse.  The government should follow the law and indeed it should be setting the example.  If they can squeeze and hammer these people then they can do it to you. 

It is that time of year for the ladies to start their spring gardens and flower planting for the season.  Tulips are about ready to be planted and those other colorful flowers of spring.  The azaleas and crepe myrtle are in bloom not along with the dogwoods and the redbud trees.  They always seem so bright after the gray of winter time.

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