Tag Archives: Federal Reserve

2 Cents Worth On Life Its Ownself

Do we laugh, cry or just go into our hole when we read the headlines from today?…thoughts and reflections on same follow.

Well, it is Yellen for the new Fed Chairmanship.  One wonders  a year from now who will be yelling for Yellen or yelling at her.   The elderly and the prudent savers of the US certainly won’t benefit from her severe easy money policies and extremely low interest rate regime.  The ants will continue to get crushed for their diligence and hard work and the grasshoppers will continue to eat off the fat of the land produced by the ants.

The arguments and conflict over the debt ceiling and payment of the Federal debt has been around since literally the inception of the country.  As we transitioned from the interregnum after the Revolutionary War to our current Constitution we had a big argument then about the debts run up by the Colonies to fund the War.  There were many who advocated not paying all that debt especially to the foreigners who had bought it i.e. the Dutch and French and even some Brits.   But Hamilton’s view prevailed and the Constitution honored all the outstanding debt of the US, Colonies.  Yes, there were some “fat cats” in the US who also profited enormously from this decision because they had bought up many of those bonds for pennies on the dollar.  But Hamilton and the like-minded believed we had to pay all those bonds to protect our credit and against the future need to borrow more and that meant paying all creditors regardless of their moral worth.  They were all paid 100 cents on the dollar with interest.

We are not yet bankrupt or a dead beat because the US does have the capacity to pay all its debts in full.  The current argument is correctly about future fiscal policy to see we remain that way.  The current trajectory of the Democrats will indeed drive us to bankruptcy.  That can and must be changed so we remain solvent.  The existing fight truly is about making the Democrats recognize that reality and adjust our spending accordingly.  Yes, the guy in the White House has it right–the numbers do not lie.   Houston, we have a problem!

Unless you keep up with the foreign press reports you would not know that the Arctic sea ice has in fact increased this year by 60%.  Strange that the Europeans are even more paranoid about the global warming hysteria than we are but they are the ones that most often report the facts and critiques of the IPCC reports and global warming alarmists excesses.

Historically, the Democrats and the Paul Krugman’s of this world have taken the position that the US debt is not a major worry because with just a little tinkering we can grow our way out of it.  They believe that increases in population will result in constantly growing GDP and thus the size of the debt will be manageable in relation to that larger economy.  Many arguments can be made against that proposition on the merits and the numbers especially when you include in the off balance sheet liabilities like Social Security and Medicare.   However there is one other flaw in the dialectic, who can guarantee they we will continue to grow?  Japan and Europe are already in the midst of a significant population slow as is China.  Why wouldn’t that happen here?    Then the debt would loom even larger not seem manageable relative to the size of the overall economy.   Those Democratic liberals are making a gamble on the future based on what scientific evidence?  They love to talk science.  But that theory is faith, not fact.

We’ve passed the Harvest Moon and already the moms in our neighborhood are putting out their Halloween stuff in the yards and on the doors.

I want to be safe and secure in the US and have no problem at all with taking out  the bad guys around the world.   The radical Muslims are our enemy and we do need to be vigilant and aggressive in combating them.  But, but, but….do we really need a million square foot facility in Utah for NSA in addition to all those thousands of worker bees there in the DC area?   Do we really need those 50,000 plus TSA folks doing those ridiculous searches at the cost it requires?  I don’t travel much anymore but when I do I sure don’t feel any safer with them around.  I don’t think they would deter in the slightest a serious terrorist bent on mayhem.  Indeed my last trip through their procedures I was questioned by a black lady wearing her hajib.  That didn’t exactly increase my level of confidence and it sure didn’t help that she was rude to boot to everyone passing through her line.   There are over 35,000 in the FBI and 114,000 in the Justice Department.  There is no way we need that many people protecting us from those breaking Federal criminal statutes.  They need to be cut back, not eliminated but cut back for heaven’s sake.   The FBI used to do most background checks for security clearances but they don’t even do most of that anymore it is done by contractors.    It seems to some of us that we have lost our sense of balance on these issues.

And on that subject why does the EPA, the IRS, Labor department, Interior department and many others have guys running around with guns and badges?  Can’t they have the FBI do the arresting when they come across a crime.

Wouldn’t it be interesting if the Feds were required by law to list all their departments, agencies, bureaus and the zillion other special committees along with their cost and personnel count online.  It wouldn’t be binding of course but then allow the public to “vote” on each one.   Either to eliminate it completely or change the funding level for each identified entity.  Might be a true wake up call for the Feds.

“All I know is what I read in the papers.”  Will Rogers  http://www.olcranky.wordpress.com



Leave a comment

Filed under business, Culture, Economics, Global Warming, government, Politics

2 Cents Worth On Life Its Ownself

The surprise isn’t that history repeats but that folks are surprised when the same thing occurs again and they think it is something new.

If you  searched or stumbled across the back pages of the news today you may have seen the article about the arctic sea ice.   Since spring of this year we have seen repeated stories about the allegedly alarming reduction in the arctic sea ice and as a harbinger of global warming doom.  Yet, today in the small print we note that the sea ice there has actually increased by 30% this year.  But the media types immediately in the same articles continue the warming that the “models” show that the ice will decline rapidly.  Where’s Groucho when you need him–who you going to believe your lying eyes or what these smart folks tell you?

Both the message and the messenger are important on the major issues of the day.  Syria is a case in point.   Hitler was a great messenger regardless of his evil.  His message was evil for the most part.  Yet it can’t be denied that he could sell the message extremely well.   Check out those old videos of his speeches.  He was very effective with his audience and that is what counts.   In Syria we have the bad combination of a terrible message and an ineffective and arrogant messenger.    The I, Me, My guy in the White House is so egocentric that he makes the issue all about him.  That wears thin after a while and has in this instance.  There needs to be a compelling message and that hasn’t been presented.  Exactly what are we attempting to achieve in Syria?   Whatever that may be, do the facts at hand regarding the combatants there and their goals match up with any vital interests of the US?

Harry Truman was not my guy.  Didn’t like him but he did speak plainly which is appreciated.  At least you knew the devil and his designs.  When faced with a similar conundrum about picking sides between two abhorrent foes he was direct.  When Hitler invaded Stalin’s play pen old Harry said clearly that he didn’t like either of them and he hoped that would slaughter each other.  This was before he become vice president.  At least he knew evil when he saw it.

Vladimir Putin, the great peace maker.    That is something for an old KGB hired hand and ruffian.   I believe he has read his Machiavelli more carefully than our guy.

After a long hot summer it is hard to believe that in only a few weeks some parts of the country will see the first flights of Canadian geese heading south.

We are all familiar with  the basic story of William the Conqueror and his conquest of England and the Battle of Hastings in 1066.   The Normans were on the move during this period of history.  What very few know is that a relative of his Robert Guiscard was during the same time frame conquering and liberating much of central and southern Italy and Sicily.  He and his quite small army threw out the Muslims from Sicily and areas of southern Italy and at the same time dominated Rome and the Pope.  The Pope was glad to have him because he was Christian and was fighting the Muslims and restoring the prestige and power of the Church.  Old Robert also was about gaining power and dominion over as much land as he could.  He even expelled the Byzantine empire from those central portions of Italy.  His children were married off to cement alliances and his 12 sons aided in the conquests.   Those independent Italian  principalities lasted well into the 19th century.  Napoleon’s son become the King of Naples centuries later.  Robert never had more than 10,000 Normans to accomplish all this.  He formed alliances with local groups who had their own  reasons to want the Muslims out and have different rulers in other areas that weren’t dominated by Constantinople.

It is a truism of investing that you don’t buy or sell stocks of feelings or emotions.  But I guess those green tree -huggers slept through that part of the class.  They are still buying Tesla even though the stock is selling at a negative, yes, negative 89 times earnings.  And about 80% of their “earnings” come from selling those energy tax credits to others, not selling and making a profit on  cars.   Good luck to you if you are one of those investors.  Sooner or later morning comes and one has to face the reality of the day, not the dreams of the night.

The Great Pyramid of Cheops is the largest.  The square base is aligned correctly on a north /south and east/west setting.   From the chamber of the Pharaoh buried in the middle there are two passage ways that run at about a 45 degree angle up to the surface hundreds of feet about ground level.  The one facing south points directly at the belt of Orion; Orion was the Egyptian Osiris God.  The one pointing north faces true with the North Star.   Clearly those two markers in the sky were very important to them for whatever reason.  We’ll likely never know for sure why but we know when they constructed these huge structures that those stars were very important.  They went to a lot of trouble to make those alignments happen.

Even as late as this summer Bernancke has continued to insist that the Federal Reserve is not monetizing the debt.  That simply means printing up new money to cover the Federal deficit.  Let’s see, they have been buying 45 billion per month of US Treasuries for well over a year.  The US has run a deficit over or near one trillion dollars for 5 years now.  The Fed now owns more US Treasuries than even China even though some politicians keep talking about the Chinese being our largest creditor.  The Fed is buying about 75% of all US Treasuries trying to keeping rates low. Those rates have jumped dramatically this summer from 1.4 in May to near 3.0 as of today.   Would the US treasury have been able to borrow all those trillions without the Fed at such low rates?   And remember when the Fed “buys” treasuries it does so with a keystroke on a computer, not real money.  But not to worry we’re aren’t monetizing the debt.

“The law is silent during war.”  Cicero.  http://www.olcranky.wordpress.com






























































Leave a comment

Filed under business, Economics, Foreign Affairs, government, history, military history, Mother Nature, Politics, science

2 Cents Worth On Life Its Ownself

So much to learn and so few students of life…..

When passing through the Panama Canal you are of course moving from the East to the West, the Atlantic to the Pacific.  In your mind’s eye you naturally conjure up the vision of the canal aligned East to West.  Take a look at the map however and you will see that Panama has a pretty sharp slant on that East/West alignment and the Canal passage from Atlantic to Pacific is actually moving from North to South.  After you make the passage it is in the open sea that you finally turn westward for your journey to the Pacific and the Far East.

Whether you support the Senate Immigration bill or oppose you should at least make sure you do understand the actual language used to implement those supposedly severe “trigger” requirements.  Look at it and pay special attention to the many times that the provisions of the triggers can be waived by the Homeland Security Secretary.  Criminal violations, language requirements, prior immigration law violations, fencing and other security requirements, etc. can all be waived at the discretion of the Secretary.  Of equal concern is the age-old problem that the Federal government regardless of who is in control will simply refuse to enforce the law or slow walk enforcement to such an extent that it is meaningless.  If we are going to have specific requirements for the path to citizenship they should at a minimum be real.  Example, the English language requirement only requires signing up for an English course, not completion or real proficiency in English and even that can be waived.  Remember also under existing law the President or Secretary of State can grant special status to anyone they choose for whatever reason.

In the Fall of 1942 as the German army was closing in on the epic battle at Stalingrad, the Soviets launched a massive counterattack north of there against the Nazi armies.  The area they attacked was manned mostly by the Romanian allies of the Germans.  They were there to fight the Communists, not support the Nazis.  Over 200,000 of the Romanians were killed, wounded or captured.  It was a major battle by any standard and one you have never heard about.  German reinforcements rushed to the breach and the Soviet attack was blunted and the battle for Stalingrad entered its bloodiest stage.

The Supreme Court ruling on the California Prop. 8 that had disallowed gay marriage is of great concern.  That concern has nothing to do with the merits of gay marriage.   The Supremes held that the proponents of Prop. 8 had no standing to even bring the case.  The Governor and other California officials had refused to defend the initiative passed by the people.  What if that Proposition had dealt with the tax rates or had mandated a flat tax and the Governor and other officials had refused to enforce that new law and would not defend it in court?   Who is in charge of our democracy?  The people or the politicians?  Under the law of the Supremes the folks who urged and passed that Proposition were mere “bystanders” with no stake in the outcome of the litigation.  The Angels on the head of the pin ruled the day and no one was allowed to move legitimate new laws through the legal process.  It may have been gay rights today but the grave concern is where this direction takes us on other non social issues in the future.

Snowden and the NSA matters raise areas of great concern and the old issue of matter of degrees.   We really don’t like the NSA looking into all of our calls, emails and locations with GPS devices.  We do want them to target terrorists and try to keep us safe.    If your 70-year old mom or dad has early stage Alzheimer’s and goes missing in the car with maybe an Iphone or IPad in tow and they are gone for a few days  you would surely want the police to be able to contact Apple or ATT and try to find the location of your missing parent.  This doesn’t even involve a crime but you wouldn’t want ATT to refuse saying it would violate your parent’s privacy rights.  It could be your 17 year old runaway son or daughter.   I want my privacy.  Let the Government target, profile like crazy and go after the really bad guys and leave the rest of us alone.  One of our greatest threats is our own home grown political correctness gone mad.

For our economy and job situation to improve and return to something resembling normality we need the Federal government in all its forms to back off and back out.  All financial institutions are overly regulated and their interests rates are under the thumb of the Federal Reserve.  The Stock market is dominated by the bond buying of the Federal Reserve.  The housing market is totally controlled by FHFA; over 90% of all mortgages are now backed by it.  Those interest rates affect the car industry and sales.  The new Obamacare looms over 1/6th of our economy.  All these factors are outright manipulations of prices, wages and the advancement of our economy.  The actual fundamentals of price, supply, demand and free bargaining between a willing buyer and will seller are completed distorted.   We need the Federal government in all its forms and its machinations to fade away.  Let’s have a real market based on consumer demand, true wages, profits, and innovation without regulation that kills entire industries such as it being proposed with the EPA death warrant for the coal industry.

Word choice can be so curious.  In England an elevator is called a “lift”.  Why isn’t it called a “down”.  I mean the elevator goes down as often as it goes up.   Maybe it is because lift simply sounds a bit more optimistic than down.

“to smell a rat” from Shakespeare.  Good advice when it comes to trusting Government.  http://www.ocranky.wordpress.com

Leave a comment

Filed under business, Economics, Foreign Affairs, geography, law, Politics, terrorism

2 Cents Worth On Life Its Ownself

In spite of sequester the computer still works and I even managed to fill up the tank this morning, at a high price I might add, so let’s review the thoughts, comments and musings of the day…..

Why didn’t anyone at last week’s testimony of Bernancke ask the most salient question?   He should be made to answer under oath what the interest rates would be for US bonds if the Federal Reserve quit buying any of them.  Since the Fed is buying approximately 80% of all such bonds their price and interest rates are being manipulated outrageously.  The Fed is in fact cornering the market on such bonds.  We all need to know what the true “market” value  is for such US debt.  That false and fraudulent market manipulation is simply allowing the US to run deficit and higher debt ceilings as the Fed prints up new money to “buy” the bonds.  The market for US debt is phony now.  We all need to know what people around the world would loan and what interest rate they would demand for our debt.  Those rates and market demand drive everything in our economy from credit card debt and car loans to house mortgages.   The cost of profligacy can only be postponed, not eliminated.   Yes, because of the Fed we have very low interests costs now.  But that doesn’t mean we’ll not have to pay for the borrowing later when interest do go to a real normal market driven level and spike even higher to compensate for the higher debt level of your prior profligate ways.

Folks say the Republican party is absolutely doomed because of demographics.  Assume they are right.  When the Democrats have won everything there is to win and control the political process nationally and even in most of the States one wonders what their immigration policy will be then.  After all at that time they won’t be needing any new voters coming to their clarion call.  They will have won.  Who will care about new votes?  What incentive will they have for new immigrants and of course at that point the unions will be riding very high and they certainly won’t  be promoting any new immigration platform because their whole purpose is to protect union jobs not open them to competition from immigrants.  Be interesting to see how that turns out, if the predictions are true of complete Democratic dominance.

Maxine Waters says sequester will cause us to lose 170 millions jobs.  Hmmm, didn’t realize we had that many 12 and 10 years olds in the workforce.   Last I heard there were only about 150 million workers of all types in our economy.  But facts and logic never get in the way of a good Leftist rant.   Just think you and I pay her 174K a year for that brilliance plus whatever under the table profits her hubby makes off of his banking investments from regulators that get calls from her.

Greece established colonies around the Med.  One such was Marseilles.  They called in Massilia.  About the time of Alexander the Greek, one Pytheas sailed from there for the open sea beyond Gibraltar to  search for tin and amber from England.  It had been the dominance of the Carthaginians for centuries.  He was a merchant and obviously a true explorer.  He worked his way up the west coast of Europe from Portugal to France then across to Cornwall where the tin mines were. He wrote of an ancient monument that may well have been Stonehenge and gave a description of the land and his climate and people.   He sailed north beyond the Scottish coasts and went to Iceland or Norway although the descriptions are too vague to specify.  He was far enough north to describe sea ice and pack ice floes.  He wrote of the nights being only a few hours long.  What is amazing is that he made in and essentially open boat all that way and returned through the English Channel and home.   Julius Caesar may have had access to his writings to influence his decision to make a reconnaissance in strength into England almost three centuries later.   No magnet, no GPS and no maps or sea charts.  Pretty remarkable feat.

North Korea makes another threat to nuke us because we are hostile and our sanctions amount to war on their people.  That Kid they have running the place must be as dumb as he looks and he sure looks dumb.  I don’t know why we don’t take out all their nuke facilities now, right now.  Yes, there would be the usual hue and cry from certain quarters around the world.  Even China would verbally raise hell but the truth is that everyone would be relieved.  The Chinese, Russians, Japanese  and the South Koreans would love to have that threat removed from their back yard.   The world would be a safer place.  Nuclear bombs shouldn’t be in the hands of dolts and guys who think it is cool to hang out with the likes of Rodman.  Having access to nukes is way beyond his pay grade.   It makes no sense for the rest of us to suffer catastrophic harm because of his schoolboy antics.

All our politically correct and civil rights laws could be summed up in a short phrase from Proverbs:  “I will render to the man according to his work”. Proverbs 24/29.  We really don’t anymore guideline than that.

“Take heed lest thou become a Caesar indeed; lest the purple stain thy soul”.  Marcus Aurelius.  Roman Emperor and philosopher.  180 AD.  http://www.olcranky.wordpress.com

Leave a comment

Filed under business, Economics, Foreign Affairs, government, Politics

2 Cents Worth On Life Its Ownself

We didn’t even  look for things to interest us but the flow of information and misinformation from the media compels further review…..

Wow, Mother Nature revealed again how puny our doings on earth are in the grand scheme of things with that asteroid display over the Urals mountains Friday.   The reports are of hundreds of injuries and some relative severe damage to windows and structures from the sonic boom caused by the explosion of the descending asteroid.  Ironic that the news has also been ripe in the last week with the information about the passage of that large asteroid some 17,000 miles away today which in astronomical terms is whisker close.   Of course what we never remember is that each and every day we are bombarded by thousands of smaller asteroids which in turn shower us with hundreds of tons daily of debris from space. It pollutes our atmosphere and the EPA is doing anything about it!

The blooms on the Bradford Pear trees are going to burst out today or at least by tomorrow; they are on the verge.   At our latitude you can about set your calendar by them; they come out within 48 hours either way of Valentine’s Day each year.

Noticed several news items this year critical of the whole concept of the State of the Union address as a relic that should be radically changed.  It has become pure political pageantry.  I have said it should be eliminated for several decades now.  The President should issue a formal written report to Congress and have a serious working meeting for a day with top Congressional leaders where in fact they question him about the current concerns and issues of the day and the actions he purposes.  We get enough campaign speeches during the election season there is no need for another.  This should become the norm regardless of the party in power in the future.  The Congress can control this if they have the will.  After all it is they who have to invite the President to make the address in such a formal setting.  They can change the rules of the delivery of his report.

Once we got the cell phone it was only a matter of time til we reached the Dick Tracy stage of a communication device like he had.  Yep, the news now is that a couple of outfits in the biz are thinking of a “watch” smartphone.  You can phone with it, send messages, see videos and pictures and receive everything you get on the smartphone your carry in your pocket.  It was bound to happen.

Those people much smarter than me are finally also talking about the problem of our debt/money printing style of economic planning and policy and its effect on the value of the dollar.  A few decades ago well over 70% of all international transactions were denominated in dollars, today the figure is just barely over 60% and declining steadily.  Have a very strong and esteemed currency is good for our US economy even though it makes our exports a bit more expensive.  There are many more off-setting advantages to having the world standard currency.  More and more the yuan, Swiss franc and Japanese yen are used for those international transactions.  Factually, the Chinese have stopped buying our Treasuries already.  For a couple of years now they have bought them but at the same time have sold off other that matured and thus there net holdings have held steady at about 1.1 trillion.   The world markets (think Singapore, Australia, the Middle East, Japan) will one day soon turn on our debt (Treasury bills and notes) and stop buying them because they will fear even more Federal printing to cover our debt and deficits.  The interest we have to pay on those bonds will skyrocket.  You ask what does that have to do with Joe Blow–plenty, all his credit card, car loan and mortgage debt will go up even more and the Feds will likely demand even more taxes at the same time to cover the increased government expenditures.   The ONLY reason our Treasure debts are so low right now is because the Federal Reserve is buying over 80% of all of them with freshly printed made-up money on that money tree they have out in the back yard.

Chuck Hagel, Secretary of Defense or Surrender?

Some watch the science or history channel and see those episodes about how the Earth is doomed in the long run because our Sun will someday go nova and literally devour us as it expands.  Yep, that is true.  But we will already by long gone anyway.  The outer core of the Earth is molten iron that rotates around the inner solid core.  That movement of the iron is what gives us our electromagnetic field.  You know, the magnetic north pole and south pole.  Well, it is what also protects us from the Sun’s radiation now, today.  Without that protection we’ll not survive.  Mankind and all other forms of life worth discussing with be fried.   Just as Man doesn’t live forever, Mankind will not last forever.  We would have to leave the Solar System for another world.  That ain’t likely for lots of reason not the least of which is we won’t find another earth-like planet and it would take millions of years to get there unless you can find one of the time warp thingies.

The good and bad in man, the noble and venal haven’t really changed since recorded time.  The nature of Man is so poignantly revealed in the Bible stories.  The worst of evil, Satan, and lots of heroes but most of them as to be expected have their faults too–David, he slew Goliath, was a hero but he also had Uriah slain just so he could have his wife.  We haven’t and won’t fundamentally change regardless of modern secularist theories and that isn’t all bad because we each still have the choices to make that direct our life.  We have plenty of examples of the choices we should make even when they are the harder ones.   You just don’t go wrong doing the right thing even when you are pummeled by others at the time for doing it.
“Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the Lord, and depart from evil”  Proverbs 3, 7.  Good advice then and now.  http://www.olcranky.wordpress.com

1 Comment

Filed under Astronomy, business, Culture, Economics, geography, government, Mother Nature, religion

2 Cents Worth On Life Its Ownself

The Earth wobbles and spins and makes its orbit and we managed to find the keyboard again so let’s get to it….

Is there anything that will get a bigger or more genuine smile than a parent or grandparent seeing that little tyke with their first couple of missing teeth when they come running with that gap and tell you about the Tooth Fairy.

Unfortunately, it seems that far too many of the Liberals continue to believe in the Tooth Fairy into adulthood.  Just like the Tooth Fairy, they think money can fall off trees magically and that the money doesn’t really come from anyone.   There is only so much GDP and money to go around and it is a zero sum game–money out of the private economy is lost for production of new technology, jobs and higher standards of living.

The GPS system is ubiquitous these days and taken for granted.  So few have even the most basic understanding of it workings or history yet we have become very dependent upon it.   Lord help us if in some future war an enemy takes out those satellites with an Electronic Pulse Bomb or missile.  The program started with the US Navy wanting a more accurate and quicker method for navigation.  It requires satellites in orbit about 12,000 miles distant from Earth.  There are 24 of them today and we have 6 backups.  They send signals which are absorbed by the receiver in your car or mobile GPS.  Like radar is measures distance by speed relative to time.  It requires more than one of course to get an accurate fix.  There days your GPS device uses four most likely so they can triangulate your location.  Also those satellites have an onboard clock which is vital to its functioning.  The Satellites and the clocks are of course affected by Einstein’s theories of relativity, both the Special Theory and the General theory.  Special Theory is the one about the speed of light; General Relativity is about the effects of gravity.  Remember that clocks in motion run slower due to the Special Theory, likewise the clocks are affected by the Earth’s gravitational pull.   The little nerds figure all this out to adjust for those effects otherwise your GPS wouldn’t be nearly as accurate; they adjust the time calculations to account for the differential as the electromagnetic speed back and forth from space to Earth.   It is a concern if that system is ever lost due to hostile action.  How many, even in the military, can navigate and locate their destination with a compass or sextant or the Stars have men have done for centuries?   We have a lot invested in a very fragile and exposed method of navigation.

Feel sorry for those millions of Yankees that have never been out West to see the night sky.  Someplace where there is not a light in sight, no street light, building lights or even home lights.  The only light is that from a campfire or your Coleman lantern.  You can actually see the Milky Way with the naked eye quite clearly.  It is quiet.  The only sound is the talk with your family or friends or the scuff of boots on the ground or the sipping of hot coffee around the campfire.   Such a place is where you can feel God reaching down and making you look at that marvel of a universe and challenges the notion that is was all merely an accident of nature.  Nature ain’t a Michelangelo; it doesn’t have the concepts of beauty or majesty or worth.

We note the spate of articles about the tunnels from Mexico to the US, mostly in Calif. and Ariz. that are used to convey drugs, money and/or weapons.  Some go on and on about the how well- engineered they are and that they are quite marvelous.  Uh, pardon me, folks have been building elaborate tunnels forever.  Geez, look at all the tunnels built by POW’s during the War, or during the trench warfare of the War Between the States.  Usually they would simply enlist someone with a bit of mining experience if available and off they would go.   Motivation will prod innovation.   I doubt if any engineers were needed to construct these things.  The labor would be cheap and they have the time to keep  looking for the right direction and exit point by trial and error.   It is simply a matter of time and plenty of money and that cheap labor that builds these thing, not genius as some have claimed.

Some economic pundits worry about what will happen when the Federal Reserve starts reducing its balance sheet by selling its trove of Treasuries and mortgage-backed securities because they will take enormous losses.  A few thoughts on this matter–first there will have to be buyers for those instruments and there is no question that the buyers will not pay face value for those Treasuries thus driving up the yield (buy for 90 cents but collect 100 cents on the investment for example);  this will drive up dramatically the interest rates on new Treasuries issued simultaneously; the Fed will take a loss.  Of course the loss doesn’t really matter to the Fed because it can print up all the money it wants without authority from anyone else.   The political outcry will be huge however.  Likewise the Fed and the Federal government will not enjoy the idea of the general public looking behind the curtain to see the way the sausage of an economy is run.  They might realize that the Fed is “monetizing” the Federal debt making it easier for the Liberals to continue spending and running deficits with no end, ever.  Even  the most liberal Keynesian Democrat would acknowledge though that the Fed can’t keep buying 85 Billion forever.  We’ve allowed the Government to make us all jump on the rotating merry-go-round when it was slower but now it is at warp speed and its going to be really hard to jump off.   By year’s end the Fed will have about 4 Trillion of assets versus about 900 Billion a few years ago.  Good luck to us all.

Another definition of crony capitalism–“Private profit by public servants at the expense of the general welfare is corrupt period.”  E. Kefauver, Democratic Senator and Presidential candidate.  http://www.olcranky.wordpress.c0m

Leave a comment

Filed under Astronomy, business, Culture, Economics, geography, Mother Nature, Politics

2 Cents Worth On Life Its Ownself

As long as the politicians keep moving their lips we’ll have something to discuss besides the weather….

The recent lively discussions regarding renewed efforts for more gun control mostly avoid or completely avoid the elephant in the room.   Cuomo talks about his restrictions complying with the 2nd Amendment rights of hunters as though hunting was what those folks had in mind with the Amendment was approved.  Not true.  Also so many proponent talk about the abuse of that Amendment or that it leads to abuse.  True that does occur but, my Lord, how many abuses of the 1st Amendment right of freedom of the Press do we have to endure every day?   Some severely challenge our trust in that Amendment right but we stick by it.  Those who use and abuse the 1st Amendment don’t have to explain or justify their use of that right and that is as it should be.  Same should be true for the 2nd Amendment.  I don’t need to justify to anyone for any reason why I wish to exercise my right to own a gun or guns.   Fact is that the most important reason for the citizens to have guns is to let the Government know we do have them and can use them if the Government over reaches or tries to rule in a tyrannical manner.  Yes, the Government should always take pause that a free people can only be pushed so far.   That is the unspoken raison d’etre behind the 2nd Amendment.

The Germans in the last week or so have announced their intention to repatriate over 374 tons of their gold held and the New York Federal Reserve and the central bank in Paris.   I have no special insight into the future price of gold; you can make your own assessment but it is clearly highly valued by even the socialist leaning egg-heads who run the monetary and financial affairs of the Germans.  If gold doesn’t really have any intrinsic value and isn’t a hedge against inflation then what difference could it possibly make where it is stored?   Indeed ask yourself why the Germans have any gold at all if it is of no consequence.    As an aside it is interesting that the New York Fed still stores the physical gold for some many nations around the world.  It is stored in secured bins in the bowels of the building and they literally move the ingots from one cage to another when nation pays nation and such instructions are received.

Japan and China continue their games in the East China sea over those small islands.  Small places can have enormous effects on world affairs.    Look how WWI started in an obscure Balkan nation with the assassination of an obscure prince or archduke.  Most around the world would not have been able to get within a few hundred miles of locating that place or knowing who the archduke was but they certainly learned of the consequences a few months later as the war settled into the trenches from Switzerland to the North Sea.   Japan and China will not go to all out war over those islands but there might well be some shots fired and deaths between the two before all is resolved.   It will be big headlines sometime in the next few years for a while.

Many hate globalization for ideological and social reasons.  They argue that it is capitalism’s way to thwart the ambitions and hopes of the middle class and third world nations.   You have seen their protests in Seattle and other locations over the last decade or so.  Of course some of the greatest beneficiaries and participants in the globalization movement are those paragons of capitalism China and Russia, to say nothing of the socialist European Union.  One factor cannot be denied and that is that globalization whatever its faults, if any, it dramatically reduces the likelihood of another great world war or a war between major powers.  The interconnectedness of globalization makes it very difficult for those large powers to contemplate a major armed conflict.  It could happen of course but the odds have been reduced because regardless of outcome of any future major war even the “winning” side would suffer huge economic loss and its own people would have a much lower standard of living for decades because of the cost and disruption of any such war.

The guy in the White House is either historically challenged or so filled with hubris as to boggle the mind.  That line about “peace in our time” echos such sad mistakes and missteps of the last century.  You recall that Hitler had already invaded the Rhineland and absorbed some of the Czechs and Austria when Neville Chamberlain went to confer with him in Munich.   He negotiated with Hitler without pre condition (like some have proposed with Iran) and even brought back a deal.  That famous quote comes from his remarks after he got off the plane returning to Britain as he waved a piece of paper in his hand saying we have “peace in our time” because of his negotiating skills.   Of course what he and the world got was WWII 18 months later.  He had claimed he could bargain with Herr Hitler.  He showed him respect.   He didn’t say bad things about him.  Chamberlain did all the touchy-feely things some in the Democratic party claim we should be doing with the Muslim world today.    Appeasement is not a winning strategy; it is simply surrender to an opponent just on a more gradual time reference.

The Democrats and press keep harping on the alleged “default” if the debt ceiling isn’t raised.  Well, there wouldn’t need to be a default at all.  The Federal Reserve could simply buy all the Treasury bills and notes as they mature.  The Fed regrettably can print money for any reason it deems appropriate.    Hell, they have bought over 2 trillion dollars worth of mortgages and Treasuries since the guy in the White House took office to fund the deficits of the Federal government.   What’s a few hundred billion more?   Last year the Fed bought 75% of ALL Treasuries issued.   While this would be perfectly legal it is probably more transparency than the Democrats would want; some might start to think long and hard about what the dollar is really worth when they see fake money printed to buy debt to support programs that can’t otherwise be paid for.

Social and economic advice from a strange source–“Call it what you will, incentives are what get people to work harder.”  N. Khrushchev.   Soviet leader of the ‘5o’s and early 60’s.  http://www.olcranky.wordpress.com


Leave a comment

Filed under business, Economics, Foreign Affairs, government, history, military history, Politics

2 Cents Worth On Life Its Ownself

Another whirl around the block and we still find new stuff that amuses or confuses us……

Little inside info for the non-lawyers out there–in the old days when the criminal defense lawyer hadn’t yet been paid his fee in full before the trial date the lawyer would often make a motion for a continuance to delay the trial because an important witness “Mr. Green” was not yet available.  Of course that meant the money was short and if he had decent relationships with the local DA office and judges it would be usually be granted at least a time or two.   Wonder how they handle that these days.  Probably about the same.

Two items that ought to be getting your attention–one, the Feds in the current administration have already indicated that they will be seeking an increase in the Federal debt by another 2.4 TRILLION!   That will bring the total debt to almost 19 TRILLION.  Two, your good friend and tax cheat Timmy Geithner at Treasury has put voice to the long sought Democratic goal of having no limit on the debt ceiling.   He uttered those sentiments just this past week.  They want the people to simply hand over our national credit card and trust them to use it wisely.  Does history support the notion that the Feds are trustworthy when it comes to controlling debt?

One wonders how many Italians will use the new self test for taxes due that the government there has put on the Web.  You download this program and enter all kinds of personal information about income and assets and then this program will flash red or green indicating whether you owe more taxes.  Supposedly it is an idea to reduce the amount of tax cheating in that country.  How many stooges will use that thing?  Of course you are told that the government can’t and won’t access the information.   Sure, and I’ll respect you in the morning he told her.

Speaking of privacy and your private emails did you read about the law proposed by that wonderful Lib Leahy.  He wants a very long list of Federal agencies and bureaus to be able to access your email if they declare an “emergency”.  Of course they get to decide what is an emergency.  Some of those friendly folks in the Federal government that would be able to utilize this new warrantless search of your email would include–the Dept. of Labor, SEC, FDIC, IRS, EPA, National Maritime Board, the Federal Reserve, among about 25 more.   Why in the world does the Labor dept, the Federal Reserve or the EPA have any business looking at your private email?   Leahy said he didn’t realize it went that far and is reconsidering but watch out; it will be back in modified form but amount to the same intrusion into your private life.   You have to fight to protect your freedom or it will slip away in the avalanche of Federal laws and regulations constantly cranking out in Washington.  Where is the ACLU?

As a young lawyer I called and offered to do work for the ACLU.  I was willing to work on freedom of religion and free speech matters. But I was rejected because I didn’t buy into the complete left-wing agenda.  They insisted I be willing to work on affirmative action and gender cases.   I suppose those non-union electrical volunteers from Alabama and Florida turned away from helping the Sandy victims felt pretty much the same way I did.   Ideologues would rather make common cause with a rogue than accept aid from a Good Samaritan.

Ask one of your doctor friends and you will find out that Thursday night and Friday after Thanksgiving is one the very busiest times in the ER.  People just can’t seem to resist over indulging in all manner of rich food and drink.  Yep, they overload their systems and clog them up.  Lots of emergency gall bladder operations at that time and the stomach pumps are kept busy.  Just ask and take heed.

For those who believe we can run up unlimited debt, run the printing press as long as it feels good, even consider defaulting on national debt and taxing the “rich” into oblivion, you might want to take a peek at the current state of the economy and political atmosphere in Argentina.  They have done all of that in the last decade or so.   The government has finally about run out of other people’s money, those with any money left are trying to get it out of the country around laws preventing that and making it a crime to remove your money.  The inflation rate is about 25% and they have unrest in the streets.    Kirchner and her left cohorts kept promising more stuff to the alleged poor and middle class and they are running out of “stuff”.   Will they go the complete authoritarian route and just confiscate all property a la the Commies or endure yet another revolution and a return to some semblance of private enterprise.  It could tip either way it appears at the moment but change for sure is a coming.

You always resent it when a friend or relative  tells you they know what is best for you.  Then why the devil do so many of us allow the Feds to do the same thing in every aspect of our lives?

As a child I loved Thanksgiving.  All the uncles and close friends of my mom and dad would come over for the big meal.  That was OK but what I really enjoyed was after the meal all the men folk would gather and begin talking about their experiences during the Depression and the War.  I always f0und those stories fascinating.   Some of the very best lessons I learned about life was sitting quietly over in the corner listening to those men talk.  They never bragged about anything but simple shared their experiences, the good and the bad ones.  In my mind’s eye I got to travel the world with those tales, from the Mediterranean to the Atlantic, the shores of Normandy, the jungles and atolls of the Pacific and the skies overhead.   It was instructive to hear how they all managed without any government assistance to endure the Depression and the lengths they and their families went to in surviving that episode.   The current generation thinks Operation Enduring Freedom was a real war and that not having an “entertainment” room in the house is suffering a real hardship.  That is if they get off their smartphones long enough to ponder such matters.

I personally wish almost all retail was close on Thanksgiving but I truly don’t understand the fuss about Wal-Mart and the workers protests.  I mean lots of people have had to work on Thanksgiving since forever.  Even the greenest Liberal likes the electric power to work and the toilets to flush on Thanksgiving.  You think those power plants and water treatment plants operate on automatic during a holiday?  They have workers.  Then of course there are the firemen, cops and the like and we all want at least a few gas stations to be open in case we have to travel on a holiday.  The list of those who have to toil on holidays is and has always been pretty long.  If you get the day with your family then merely being with them should be a reason for Thanksgiving.

Tax fairness as defined by the Old Testament–“The rich shall not give more, and the poor shall not give less, than half a shekel”   Exodus 30, 15.  http://www.olcranky.wordpress.com

Leave a comment

Filed under business, Culture, Economics, government, history, law, Politics

2 Cents Worth On Life Its Ownself

Buckle up and here we go for some thoughts, reflections and opinions from the cheap seats…

There have been some murmurs about the Federal Reserve taking action to reduce its Treasury holdings without destroying the bond market and at the same time reducing the National debt and the deficits.  They would simply forgive the debt owed by the US Treasuries they have bought in the last few years.  This would reduce the debt by at least hundreds of billions if not over a trillion easily and simultaneously would reduce the deficit because no interest would  be due on that forgiven debt.  It sounds so simple.  But the problem is that such an action would focus attention on the fact that is funny money to begin with printed out of thin air by the Fed as a means for the government to fund its deficit spending and that there is nothing really supporting the value of the dollar other than “confidence” in our money.  It would be severe blow to that confidence.  After all if they can do it once they can do it twice.  Why not then just default on the Treasuries held by the Chinese; we don’t like them all that much anyway and they manipulate their currency.   It would be so appealing politically short-term but devastating in the near and long-term to our economy.  The politicos could brag and say “see, we fixed all that debt and deficit stuff” .  Of course what would it make the dollar worth in your pocket?

Both Dow and Dupont have recently announced pretty negative outlooks for the near and mid-term future of their businesses and industry.  Between they have also announced plans to cut 4000 jobs.  That is not a good sign.  When the economy is doing well those plants are humming putting out products for both industrial  and consumer use.  We all use tooth paste whether the economy is good or bad and that use doesn’t really indicate the health of the economy but when basic materials used in everything you can imagine are cut back we aren’t doing so well.

Greece just got a two-year extension of time to comply with it bailout loan terms.  Two more years to meet both revenue and deficit reduction goals.  This should come as no surprise.  Regrettably it is like a person going on a diet saying they will have only two more pieces of chocolate cake and then start next week.  Good luck with that.

The Federal Reserve at this month’s meeting stated it is continuing its ongoing purchases of goodies in the market place to the tune of at least 40 billion a month and will continue to crush savers by keeping interest rates near zero for two more years minimum.   They also posited that the economy is still sluggish.  Hey, we all know about the latter but some of us are concerned about the former.   How much more money can they prune off that money tree growing in their back yard before they kill it and our soon to be hyper-inflated economy they are fostering?

Good for the Brits.  They had the good sense and back bone  this week to tell the EU court to stuff it.  That court in a spasm of political correctness gone berserk had ordered Britain to allow all its prisoners to be allowed to vote in elections.  Not gonna happen at least with Cameron there.

With regard to Biden and his comments at the debate about Iran’s nuclear capacity one should caution him to know a bit more about engineering and history before he states so positively that Iran can’t have a nuke for a long time because even after they have the fissile material they still have to have a weapon for it.   Well, Joe, the weapon is the easiest and quickest part.  All they have to do is watch the History channel to see how to construct the bomb. They just need a big iron ball with ordinary explosives on the outside to ignite and force the fissile material to the middle where the nuclear reaction will take place.   Does the Joke really believe they are developing the material and haven’t given a moment’s thought to how they will deliver it to the intended target?   They already have some missiles we know and it doesn’t even have to be delivered that way necessarily.  They could simply build the device and put it 0n a truck or on a small ship and or even a cranky old DC-3.   They could quite likely get any of those all the way across Iraq to Israel without being intercepted.  They for sure good get them to the Strait of Hormuz which is their own shoreline.   I hate glibness with serious issues.

Sanctions against Iran are very problematical.  History should teach us that.  Doesn’t hurt to give them the old college try but don’t bet the ranch on them working.  The Soviet Union had an effective and real blockade against it for decades both by law and by inclination of much of the world and the Soviets themselves self-imposed sanctions by not trading with most of the West because to do so went against their ideology. They couldn’t allow their people to import Mercedes or Cadillacs and let them be compared to the cars the Commies made; nor TVs and a long list of other items.  They never reduced their danger to the western world in spite of being cut off.   Likewise North Korea has been a pariah for decades and sanctioned out the wazoo but that hasn’t fazed them, ditto for Myanmar.   Fanaticism and locked-in ideology doesn’t bend to normal logic.  The Iranians in spite of timid protests here and there are obviously content to let their country be dominated by the Ayatollah and his cohorts.   As long as their religious beliefs and goals remain pure in their minds they really don’t care about the condition of their people, after all, they will all end up in paradise for their sacrifices.  Sadly my friends it will require a much firmer hand than saying they will have a lower standard of living.

“There is no worse heresy than that the office sanctifies the holder of it.”  Lord Acton, British historian and statesman.  http://www.olcranky.wordpress.com

Leave a comment

Filed under business, Economics, Foreign Affairs, government, history, Politics, terrorism

2 Cents Worth On Life Its Ownself

Let’s take a quick turn around the old attic of the mind and clear some cobwebs and peek into those dark corners of memory and reflections on the world of today.

How long did it take you to do that special Halloween decoration the little lady wanted for the front of the house?  Why is they always seem to think you can do these creations in a few minutes and that you  will have fun doing it?   My miserable looking scarecrow took a total of five hours and two trips to Home Depot and one to the drug store and no, I did not have fun.    But it makes them happy and she lied and said how good it looked.   Just think you are only a couple more weeks away from starting on the Thanksgiving lay out and then on to Christmas decorations.

Would you want BO or Biden in a foxhole with you when the bullets were flying?   BO would never fire his weapon and want to negotiate and let the bad guys know how much he loves them in spite of the incoming fire.  Biden, my Lord those shiny teeth would be a dead give away to the enemy, drawing fire like the bees to the hive.   Give me Clint any day.

The Federal Reserve now controls about 20% of our GDP and is buying about 75% of all the new debt issued by the Treasury with freshly printed dollars.   If you read the international news you may have noticed that Bernancke not only has critics at home but the international finance community last week had some pretty harsh criticism of his printing mania and machine.   Some may think he is the smartest guy in the room but do they really believe he is the smartest guy in the world?

In spite of last year’s agreement to increase the national debt limit to a depressing and eye-popping 16.3 trillion we are already within less than two hundred billion of reaching that limit.  It might well happen before year end.  One more headache in addition to the fiscal cliff we are approaching.   The debt limit has been lost somehow in the current political debate.  That is too bad for all of us because we need to know the intentions of the politicos regarding our unsustainable debt.

One must wonder if Alsace and Lorraine in eastern France are still happy to be part of the French nation.  They have floated back and forth over the centuries between German and French control.   Some in the area still speak
German more than French.  Would you rather be living in the German economy or the French?  Well, sometimes you get leadership and nationhood  remorse.   But they can dine well, that is if they can afford it.

A123 battery filed for Chapter 11 this week.  That is another crony renewable outfit that has bit the dust after taking hundreds of millions in grant money from the current administration.  They have all kinds of excuses for why things haven’t worked out.  The bottom line those is success or no.  Does the administration have even one real success story for its renewable energy program of government “investment” and government central planning?  Remember that A123 and Solyndra were celebrated by BO as huge success stories at one time but the congratulations were premature.   Maybe you have noted that people are much more careful and thoughtful when they have their own money at risk rather than playing with other people’s’ money–in this case our money.  The investment was made not by us though but by politicians.    Would you have allowed your 401 or IRA money to have been invested in such ventures?  If the answer is no then why would you tolerate the government doing it?

Democrats often criticize Republicans for spending on defense items.  They reference Reagan’s large increase in defense spending and his SDI program (strategic defense initiative, Star Wars) and that he didn’t fully pay for it.   Well, those decisions of Reagan directly resulted in us finally winning the Cold War and the consequential “peace dividend”.  Clinton benefited from that peace dividend  to the tune of hundreds of billions of dollars in savings and in fact we still are.   The Democrats were vicious in their attacks on Reagan at the time.  Thank God he stood firm.

You will hear regularly that big oil has so many special tax breaks and tax loopholes working in their favor.  What they are talking about is the depletion allowance for oil and gas wells.  It is not really a mystery or hard to understand why they get to take that deduction from income.  If you had a landscaping company and bought a truck for your business you would get to depreciate the value of the truck over a period of years because the value of the truck would decline with age.  It is the same for an oil and gas well.  As you pump the oil or gas out the amount remaining is diminished.  No well last forever, each one has a finite limit.  Just like you with your truck that get to take a deduction for that depletion of the well as it ages.  It is an ordinary business expense like any other.  It is ok if you don’t like the oil companies for whatever reason but don’t argue they get “special” breaks any different from any other company like Apple or Google for all their hardware purchases they depreciate.

The British Meteorological Office recently reported that world temperatures have remained the same for the last 15 years.  There is a very thoughtful and comprehensive article in The Mail from last week you can look up.  You should regardless of your position on global warming.   It is rather long but worth the read.  It doesn’t take a position really but does rely more on actual data for the article rather than so much interpretation.  It also noted as was mentioned here that while the Arctic ice field is reduced at the moment the Antarctic ice fields are at record highs.

Is there any tool more useful and used more than the common pocket knife?  When I was a kid virtually every man carried a small pocket knife.  Not many do today but guess they are carry a Leatherman in the glove box of the car.

“These are the times that try men’s souls.  The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands it now deserves the love and thanks of man and woman.”  Thomas Paine, patriot pamphleteer, 1776  http://www.oldcranky.wordpress.com

1 Comment

Filed under business, Economics, Foreign Affairs, Global Warming, history, Mother Nature, Politics