Tag Archives: US economy

2 Cents Worth On Life Its Ownself

Coming out of a winter hibernation and a move so its time to crank up the word machine and brush off the mental cobwebs…..

Moving ain’t fun.  A fundamental truth.  Especially true if you have been in the old homestead for a long time.

The Russians call the Ukraines in Kiev Nazis.  Even some of the media has picked up on that theme and talks about the Ukrainians who fought with the Nazis during the War leaving the clear impression that the Ukrainians were true Nazis at heart.  The truth is much more complicated.  Stalin during the ’30’s literally starved to death untold millions of Ukraines.  The exact number will never be known.  In addition many of the Ukraines like the idea of owning their own piece of dirt as had been their tradition for centuries.  When the War and the Germans came it is true that many of the Ukraines joined the German army to fight against the commies and Stalin.  That did not make them fans of Hitler or the Nazis but simply people who were faced with two difficult choices but decidedly believed the Nazis were the lesser of the two evils and the Germans fostered that notion with hints of some autonomy.  They weren’t Nazis, they were Ukrainians fighting communism.

If Monica wants to be taken seriously then she should have avoided that picture spread with her lounging on the couch.  Didn’t exactly portray the image of a mature gal not trying to exploit her prior persona of the Linda Lovelace of the White House.

When will the civilized world quit pretending that Africa is a legitimate part of the world community?  The latest episode in Nigeria is only representative of their dysfunction.  There is not only Nigeria but we have Mali, South Sudan, Somalia, Kenya, Cameroon, the Congo, Uganda, Chad and Libya to name merely the most outrageous places.  The West needs to stop sending any kind of aid.  Those people have the resources to do quite well.  It is up to them to make the countries and world they want.  We can’t import decency or democracy.  Their militaries by turn are cowardly, incompetent, tyrannical or corrupt.   They need to live in a house they built, not one provided by the Peace Corp.  Can anyone honestly say that the generosity and sympathy of the West has made any significant difference in the last 60 years?  That is three generations.  How would letting them fend for themselves possibly be any worse than the current situation.

Remember that science is never “settled”.  The very nature of the beast is questions and then more questions after apparent answers are found.  Not my brilliant observation but from David Deutsch.  He refers to the dire predictions due to  global warming, prophecies, not science.  Just for you consideration, he is an Oxford don, world renown physicist, philosopher and member of the Royal Society, not exactly marginal thinker or denier.  He would no doubt be apoplectic being called a “denier”.  Check out his The Beginning of Infinity.  Pretty heavy going but worth it in the end.

The current rate for a 10 year Treasury note is about 2.5%.  That rate is strictly a function of the market manipulation of the Federal Reserve.  What do you think  the rate would be if the Fed was neutral and let the market alone determine what the proper rate should be?  Maybe 2% or maybe 6%.  Whatever you think it would be the difference between a true market rate and what the Fed is dictating now means that there are some serious losers in the market due directly to their policies.  Those losers aren’t so-called fat cats on Wall Street necessarily but there are some of them too.  For every trade on Wall Street remember that there is a seller for each buyer whether for stocks or bonds.   Pension plans and unions are some of the biggest investors along with endowments of major universities on Wall Street.  Current losers are the seniors for sure and the savers among us.  It makes those in their mid years to start eating their seed corn rather than save because there is no incentive or reward for saving  in the near term.  Supposedly the Fed works for our benefit but its hard to discern that benefit.  Seems more like the inmates are running the asylum or Dr. Frankenstein let loose on the financial system and sure enough he has created a monster he can’t control.

We’ve all known someone who talks too much.   They will never shut up.  Worse they think you are interested in everything they have to say;  even the stuff that is stupid,  logically inconsistent or borders on that line between outright lies and embellishment.  Why does such a thought evoke images of daily briefings or speeches from the occupant of  the White House of today?

We are approaching  the 70th anniversary of D-Day.  I wonder what the average heart rate was for those boys jumping out of a C-47 or down the ramp from a LST?   It had to be a terrifying experience and their bodies reacted accordingly.  We should be very thankful that they were able to overcome that fight or flee syndrome all men have in face of extreme danger.   I not only tip my hat to them but am grateful and worry whether this generation is worthy of the sacrifice they made.

Strange we don’t hear a peep about the antarctic ozone hole or the impending ice age that were all the rage 30 years ago based on “settled” science.  Although the Yankees might have thought they were in at least a mini ice age last winter.   But, lo, spring came again as it has since the earth began spinning and circling the Sun.

“The instinct of ownership is fundamental in man’s nature”  William James, American psychologist and philosopher. http://www.olcranky.wordpress.com





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2 Cents Worth On Life Its Ownself

We’ll take a peek at some history to get perspective on the news of the day and add a couple of random life thoughts for free….

Regardless of other troubling issues with the proposed comprehensive immigration reform what difference does it make if the illegals have to go to the “back of the line”?   Yeah, they have to pay some fines and wait for a while.   But the fact is they are “golden” once the immigration reform is passed.   They won’t be worried about having to wait.  They go the golden ring on the merry-go-round.  They can stay work, get benefits (read the fine print) and will get citizenship if they don’t commit a felony.  Doesn’t seem like much of a burden to have to wait until those who applied legally get processed first.   The line may be long but the point is they will get to the head of the line–guaranteed.

Another sore spot is that those who stole ID’s or forged paperwork should have to pay a special fine of at least $10,000.00.   If they stole someone’s social security number that money should go directly to the victim and those who made one up or forged paperwork should have the money go to the Border Patrol.

How many times have you read about some Federal employee who was derelict or really pulled a bad one that got “reassigned”, “fired” or demoted yet learn later that they were only shuffled around or in fact never fired.   You know, on the street without any pay.  Lois Lerner is the most recent example of this; she clearly was out of line if not doing something illegal yet she is on administrative leave with pay.  This problem is part politics and part the difficulty of firing a Federal worker due to the Civil Service Code and companion laws.   We’ll do an examination in detail later about the Civil Service Code.  For today though is suffices to say that it must be made easier to fire Federal employees for incompetence, laziness, criminal acts, negligence and those who simply can’t cut the mustard.  They system needs to be revised so there is a very quick appeal after a supervisor fires someone.  It should be like private industry where those above can fire those below.  The review board should meet within 30 days.  The board should consist of a union representative, a Federal worker and three private citizens.  The citizens should be at least 60 years old and have never worked for any governmental agency.  You want people with experience in life, who’ve seen the way the  world works, have some wisdom from living and understand the requirement that people do their jobs correctly and ethically or they get removed.  No appeal after that hearing.   Boy would that change things for the better.

You probably read the story about the 72 year-old fellow shot by the cops in his own yard.   They were responding to a burglar alarm across the street.  The man and his wife heard a commotion and he got his gun and went out back and then was shot by the cops.  Supposedly the cops were shining their flashlights and yelled “police” and when he didn’t drop his gun they fired and killed him.  A real tragedy.  He was no doubt pumped up with adrenaline and nervous.  Who wouldn’t be with those loud noises.  Even if they did yell out he might not have heard them correctly or at all and those lights were probably shining in his eyes so he couldn’t see clearly.  Under the circumstances how would he have known who they were and why would he believe they were cops even if they said so?   I mean this man was on his own property and doing something completely legal–carrying a gun which he had the right to do even without a carry permit and he had a right to defend home and hearth.   Why the hell didn’t they knock on the door or make a phone call to the house before they just barged in?  A sad case of friendly fire.   Can you imagine if he had shot one of the cops and the evidence was they never had identified themselves as such?

The headlines for the last month or so thunder with the news about the resurgent boom in housing.  They cite year over year increases that are dramatic.  Of course the percentages seem dramatic because we are starting from such a low base.  The raw numbers aren’t that impressive.  Only about 800,000 new starts a year last I read which is actually not very good and far below 6 years ago.  Also I have a question.   New housing starts require lots and lots of new lumber production for the building.   Yet, one–we are cutting timber for wooden pellets to ship to Japan for power plants and, two, the lumber futures have dropped sharply for the last 90 days by about 40%.   Some piece or pieces of that housing picture puzzle don’t fit.   Normally in a real housing upturn the lumber yards are working flat-out just to keep up with domestic demand and the price of lumber rises accordingly.

We’ll find out in time if Eric Holder lied under oath I hope.  You are reminded that there are three elements to taking an oath when testifying.  One–tell the truth.  Two–the whole truth.  Three–nothing but the truth.  If you fail on any of those three then you are lying under oath.  Q–was it day or night?  A–day, when if fact it was at night.  That is a lie under oath.  Q–did you see anyone come out of the house?  A–yes.  But in fact it was a one-legged man wearing a pirate hat and you simply state you couldn’t remember anything but a man.  That is a lie under oath.  Q–Tell us about that man?  A–well, he was carrying a large knife, when in fact he had nothing in his hand.  You lied and added an embellishment to the truth.   From watching the testimony and learning the facts of his personal review of subpoenas it is hard to see how Holder can pass muster under all three standards of the truth.

“No one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American people”   H. L. Mencken.  Pundit and social commentator.  http://www.olcranky.wordpress.com



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2 Cents Worth On Life Its Ownself

Contrary to rumor I am still awake although mentally I do go into “sleep mode” more often these days.

Iowa is a good example of the Good, The Bad and the Ugly of government actions.  First we have the ethanol mandate pushed by both parties that does nothing but drive up the cost of gasoline and food by requiring a set number of gallons to be used each year regardless of demand or cost.   Corn growers love it and the Iowa caucuses come first.  Then there is the EPA going after the pig farmers for pollution because of the pig waste.   You’ve heard of a pig in a poke, well this is the problem of the pig and the poopery or so the EPA assures us.  Boy I can sure sleep better at night knowing those pointy headed bureaucrats are protecting my safety.  Hmm, left out the Good didn’t we.  Well, we’ll have to come back next week with an expert to figure out what the good is in any of the above.

You can believe all the official economic numbers you like out of China to make your IRA investment decisions if you want.  Those numbers have all be approved by the Commies before they are released.  I don’t trust our bureaucrats and sure as hell don’t trust a Commie bureaucrat.  They say they are growing at a 7.5% rate and based on their numbers many investment advisers remain bullish on China as they are alleging still building out their huge demand for infrastructure.  Well, some numbers that indicate the activity in China are reliable because they don’t come from China.  Look at the Baltic Dry Index.  It documents the tonnage of raw material shipments around the world.  Those numbers come from Australia, Singapore and other Western countries.  Fact is that the amount of iron ore being shipped to China is way down as is the price of iron ore.  Those bridges, roads, industrial plants, commercial buildings, apartments, cars, dams and consumer staples all require steel, lots of it.  If China is growing so fast why aren’t their imports as high as they were a few years ago?   Riddle me that Batman.

Have you heard enough about the “Charm Offensive” by the guy in the White House?   I assume it is the type of charm that is in the nature of a hex or spell.  That guy can’t pass himself off as a leprechaun but maybe some might buy the notion of a shaman or witch doctor.   Rather than constantly being the showman it would be nice if we had a President who actually worked.  You know, report to the office early each day and meet with key folks and look at real numbers every day and come up with weekly ideas to reduce and eliminate the plethora of useless and redundant expenditures in addition to those that are outright ridiculous.  Do this till dinner time.  Then repeat day after day.  Treat the position like it is supposed to be, a job, not a platform for self promotion.

My idea of tax reform is quite simple and understandable.  First you take a match to the existing Tax Code and the thousands of pages of regulations.  Out, everything out.  Then the next step would be to legislate that the new Code could not be more than 50 pages long.  Go with a flat tax or a consumption tax, tax only income.  No capital gains tax or estate tax.  Encourage people to invest and build, sell then start over again.  One minimum limit for those who don’t have to pay any tax at all to make it progressive enough to satisfy the Left.  No deductions or exemptions or tax credits.  That is it.  Our economy would love it.  The tax lawyers, CPA’s and special interest groups would be apoplectic but that would be a sign you got it right.

North Korea announced to the world that the Truce is at an end.   We noticed that many in the media seemed to blow that off referencing the many blustery remarks that have come from the North over the decades since the cease-fire.  It was even reported in several outlets that North Korea couldn’t renounce the Truce on its own.  Well, folks that can and have.  Recall your history please.  The Korean War was not concluded with a peace treaty between the belligerents.  It merely ground to a halt with both sides agreeing to a cease first and exchange of prisoners and a line of demarcation between the opposing armies.   It was not any different from many countless cease fires in numberless wars over the ages where both sides for whatever their reasons decided to quit fighting for a while.  It happened many times during the War Between The States for example.   There were many local cease fires during both World Wars to allow treatment and collection of the wounded and dead.  All North Korea agreed to was to stop firing for a while.  It didn’t promise to never fight another day.  Why the devil do you think we have maintained tens of thousands of US troops in Korea and Japan for all these decades?   Lastly it is usually wise to take someone at their word when in a dangerous encounter.   If that nut job says the cease-fire is over, then you best assume it is over.  Hopefully, some rational heads still exist in North Korea but their actions against even their own people makes that a marginal proposition.

The CERN guys say they have found the Higgs-Boson element, force or mass, whatever it is.  Some like to call it the God Particle.   It is an amazing feat if true and the quantum physics behind it all makes one’s head swim.   Love the science and cheer own further research but I prefer my God to have a purpose and offer me hope.

“They do abuse the king that flatter  him: For flattery is the bellows blows up sin; The thing the which is flatter’d, but a spark, To which that blast gives heat and stronger glowing; Whereas reproof , obedient, and in order, Fits kings, as they are men, for they may err.”  Pericles, Prince of Tyre, by Shakespeare, Act One, Scene Two.  www. olcranky.wordpress.com

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Pathway To A Better State

The recent 2012 campaign season has highlighted once again the stark and irreparable divisions within the US.   Those divisions have been manifest for decades now and river of discord runs deep and  wide.  They transcend simple explanations over one or two contentious issues.  The divide separates along core values for each constituent group.  We still compose a single nation-state but clearly are two separate societies within that framework.   Like identical twins originating from a single miraculous event but then pulling apart to become distinct individuals even though from a common bond.  We now must deal with that reality and the current organization of the US political system ill serves each of those societies denying to both their own vision of the future.

Most of us share a common pride in what the US was.  Many on the Left do not.  We are now confined to a nation that no longer gives expression to our values.  Certainly the Democrats and Left want a radically different set of values from those in common use today.  It is beliefs, values and social abstractions that bind a people not political divisions on a map.  It is the coalescing of those common values that gives life and energy to the political divisions that result in different states.  It cannot be gainsaid that we have two sets of value oriented views of the world.   They don’t mesh and never shall the twain meet.   The tensions and conflicts between these approaches to self-governance of a free people will escalate as the tides of advantage to one side or the other ebb and wane.    Many of us believe this is not the US the Greatest Generation fought so hard to preserve.   We abhor the direction we are taking and those of the Left wish to accelerate that direction.

This fact of divide and polarization has been brought to light in the recent movement for secession that has cropped up since our most recent election.   A peaceful and orderly re-organization of the US over the next generation is a much better path for the future of all regardless of Right or Left.  Our current path is one that will ultimately lead to true civil unrest, societal pain and divisions brought about by violence or near war-like discord.   These pages have previously mentioned the best path for this alternative approach.  We need to begin the process of calling a Constitutional Convention to give voice and reality to the two separate visions of the US.  Article V permits this approach.  The last time it was seriously considered was during the ’70’s and early ’80’s by those advocating the passage of the ERA amendment to the Constitution.  When their effort was falling short some of the Left mulled over the idea in public of trying the Convention as an alternative method to assure its passage.  That Amendment and the effort failed.   Are our current divisions so fundamental and endemic as to require such a step?   A realistic assessment says that the divide cannot be breached in our current political structure.

We have two very opposing views of the role of our Federal government and it is at that level where almost all the contentions collide.   The Democrats and Left believe in a large and almost omnipotent federal authority.  They view the Federal government as the helping hand encased in the velvet glove lifting up those in “need”.   They define need broadly and want everyone else to accept their definition.  To even disagree with their definition makes you an enemy.   Others believe the Federal government is the boot on the neck of the people.   That it intrudes into areas best left to the States and into the personal and economic lives of everyone.  There is a dramatic and irreconcilable chasm regarding the concept of Federalism.  The Democrats view it as a quaint and outdated concept from another era.  The rest view it as the bulwark of our freedoms.  The Democrats really would prefer that States be merely provinces of the nation with all control emanating from Washington.  TV talk show hosts and others love to make their cute little jokes about “fly over country” but sadly there is great truth to that comment and it reveals the true attitude of the Democrats.  They would prefer States be  administrative districts like they have in Metropolitan France or had in ancient Rome following the directives and edicts of
Washington.  They want power, power concentrated in Washington and obeisance from the populace.  Please review carefully your Solzhenitsyn, read lots of history of the Communists regimes around the world.  Stalin thought of himself as a champion of the little guy.  As an elite though he also believed he knew better than they want was good for them and certainly knew what the societal mores should be.   Opposition was not brooked.   But whether we of the Right  like it or not there are millions in the US that desire that kind of government.   Why not let them have their Eden commune on earth as long as we all don’t have to bow down to their Baal.

This has been building for decades.  It had its core with FDR and then was accelerated with LBJ and is reaching a zenith with the election of the current occupant of the White House.  But when they are gone there will others in their mold to step forward and continue the  road left.   If those on the Right could prevail it would not bring peace because the Left would ratchet up their venom and fight to tear down opposition to their forward march to a larger more powerful and ultimately more socialist government.  If we are going to become a Socialist European style government then what are the advantages to being in the US for those who believe that is so wrong on a moral level and destructive to individual freedom.   Why not live in Switzerland, Sweden, Scotland or Germany?

We’ve had a wonderful history even with our bumps along the way.  Mostly we have been a force for good in the world, at least the Right believes that we have, the Left not so much.   But things do change eventually as they have from the beginning of recorded time.  Rome didn’t last forever, neither did the British hegemony, nor the Kublai Khan.  It is not necessary to destroy the ideal of the US as envisaged by each political segment.  Left and Right can each have their domain without the opposition of the other.  But that destruction is assured if we don’t address our differences and divisions intelligently and forthrightly.  Many have said in times past that there is more than unites us than divides.  Only the hopeless optimist or foolhardy could possibly believe that today.  The fact is that there is far more that divides us than unites us today.  Pride of nation is deeply split along values.  Many take no pride whatsoever in the current actions of the Federal government, others cheer all its actions and want even more.   We can both be happy  if we each have a Federal government more in tune with our beliefs, values and aspirations.  In coming posts we shall explore specifics of some of the major differences and how each element in on nation can pursue its own course without so much interference  and outright obstruction by the other.   Yes, there would be problems but none any greater to solve that living in a nation divided and heading to civil disharmony and dysfunction.  There is a better way and a better place for all of us.  The Democrats should love this change.  Yes, they will lose some minions and slavish robots to the Federal government but truly they will rejoice in getting rid of most of those gun-toting, Bible- thumping rednecks and yahoos.   We of the Right do not respect or trust them and they disdain us.  Do you really think that will change?

Come again for details and the guide map that Pathway to Coastal America and Middle America where each pursues its own vision of governance and each allows the freedoms demanded from only its own citizens.  (Central power, Taxes, Supreme Court, environment, role of military, Rule of Law, social issues, size of government, economic system, capitalism.)

“A House divided shall not stand”…..stated in several places in the Bible, both Old and New Testaments.   http://www.olcranky.wordpress.com



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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

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2 Cents Worth On Life Its Ownself

Let’s go right to work.  At these prices I can’t afford to spend time lingering….

All those that are surprised that Putin favors BO to win the election hold up your hands.  You do recall BO’s captured comments by the open mike when he told old Med that Vladimir should just be patient until the election and then BO would have more “flexibility dealing with Russia.  Of course Vladimir wants someone in the White House he can rollover.   In the meantime the Russkies don’t help with Iran or Syria or, well, where exactly are they being supportive?

Don’t take my scepticism for much weight regarding the whole issue of man-made global warming but you are encouraged to read the letter to the WSJ about three weeks ago on that topic.  We are constantly bombarded with the idea that the science is established that such a phenomenon exist.  That letter is by three very distinguished scientist and some at those elite Eastern schools.  They decry the lack of scientific purity in the research on the subject and posit that the subject has become captive to conclusions before data analysis.  Indeed the entire “green” movement has become its own industry.  The last thing they would want is for the world to solve the problem.  Then they would have nothing to do and frankly those cushy jobs with institutes, foundations and charities supporting the green agenda would disappear.  Their raison d’etre would be gone.

A footnote to the above topic.  You note that just in the last week the battle has begun over the huge solar panel projects planned for the deserts of the West.  That big project in California has already drawn opposition by three green groups talking about the environmental damage such a large solar array will have on the area.  Interestingly they also take the position that there is no evidence to support the notion that solar energy would improve the environment.  One of their arguments is that working the desert earth would release more methane and other harmful elements into the atmosphere than would be eliminated by the solar project.  These aren’t right-wing Tea Party types opposing the project.  Ah, ain’t watching the human play fascinating.  Wonder if we are in Act III yet.

We note that Biden has only given 2% of his income for charities.   Guess he couldn’t afford more with the expense of his hair transplants and all that dental and orthodontic work.

Bush was the epitome of evil for keeping all those poor terrorists in Gitmo but BO is still works on water and calms the seas even though he has followed the same policy for nigh on 4 years.  Don’t believe for a minute he needs some kind of Congressional approval for closing it down.  He is commander-in-chief and can order the military to do whatever he wants with those prisoners whether we like it or not.  He could release them tomorrow or send them to any other of our military bases around the world if he really wanted that.

Well, we have the announcement from Europe that the ECB will save the day a la our own Fed by printing up more Euros to support the Spanish, Italians, our Greek friends and assorted others.   They say they will do it in s “sterilized” fashion.  By that they mean that they won’t be printing more money and increasing the size of their balance sheet.  Allegedly they will sell other assets to make the new purchases.  But you let me know if you have seen an explanation of exactly how that will work and what assets they will redeem to buy the new bonds to support the Euro.  Those minor details have not been reported yet in the WSJ or Financial Times or any of the business news channels.  Conclusion–they are hiding the ball and will in fact just print more money.  After all if they didn’t then they wouldn’t accomplish what they view as they mission in this crisis.   Of course we hoi polloi just aren’t sophisticated enough to understand high finance right and they sure don’t want to trust us with plain language or simple truths.    I really believe that you could take an Italian or French politician and stick them into our Democrat party and you wouldn’t notice any change.

I am NOT a birther person.  Don’t hyperventilate.  But all that discussion did cause a new look at the Constitution.  Under the 20th amendment it would seem that if there is a serious question regarding the qualifications to be President and those are timely raised that an “elected” President would be denied his office and the Vice President would take the office at least until his qualifications were proved or removed.  Just read the amendment for yourself, it is pretty plain.   The presumptive President has to be “qualified” to assume office.

Just a word to the wise and those who want to make informed investment decisions–keep a constant eye on the Baltic Dry Index.  It monitors the shipping of hard goods and basic commodities.  Four years or so ago it was at 11,000, now it is at 675.  It is down over 60% just year to date.  Iron ore which is a fundamental item for all economies is down over 30% this year in shipments.  China ain’t buying much at all and has ample inventories.   Thus Australia is beginning to slow down significantly because it supplies the bulk of iron ore and coal to China.  No one else around the world is picking up the slack, not in South America or anywhere else.  Steel, lots of steel, is necessary for any thriving economy.  Until that Baltic Dry Index starts moving up big time the world economy will continue to languish.  All the other headlines are interesting and should be watched because monetary policy can help or screw things up badly, but bottom line you need that steel production to go up or we are just treading water at best.

You think Clint wasn’t a big hit at the Republican convention?  Well, the next week Smith and Wesson stock shot up about 15%.   He made their day.

“Newspapers nowadays use facts merely as the raw material of propaganda.   By suppression, or alteration, or overemphasis , or by the trick of false perspective, or by scare headlines and editorial comment, the “facts” are made to convey exactly the particular idea which the newspaper desires to suggest to its readers”.  P. Gibbs, English novelist, 1944.  http://www.olcranky.wordpress.com

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2 Cents Worth On Life Its Ownself

If you can stop crying maybe you can see the humor in some of the political manoeuvering of the WH these days.   What are you going to believe? –your own eyes or what the Administration tells you is true?

As long as the current left-leaning Federal Reserve cooperates with the Administration; it will be able to continue running trillion plus deficits.  If it ever stopped buying the Treasury bills and notes to fund the ever-growing debt the Administration would face real difficulties running so far in the red.  Who else around the world would buy those Treasuries to fund the Federal budget?  At least who would do so at today’s ridiculously low rates? 

Reminds me of the fellow who wanted to make a small loan from the local bank and the banker wanted to see his balance sheet and income and expense statement to determine if he would be able to repay the borrowed money.  Even though his balance sheet was in the red and his income showed he couldn’t even pay his current expenses much less service the new loand he told the banker not to worry.  The fellow told the banker that he had his right pocket write a note to his left pocket and that those notes would serve as great collateral.

Heard an interview with another guy who is propsoing that we go to a cashless society because it would save money and be fairer to everyone and especially the poor.  Well, it might save the cost of fabricating and distributing the currency but not sure how much we would like that.  He argues that criminals and drug dealers and other such menances to society are the only ones who benefit from cash.  Well, another example of big government thinking.  The main thing he totally overlooks is the right to privacy.  The examples of such intrusion into your private life are as big and broad as your own imagination.   Take a 70 year-old fellow going to the drug store to buy viagra or hemorhoid salve or he wants to buy a lottery ticket.  Why should that transaction become a permenant electronic record?  Don’t even try to tell me that such records would be protected and safe from hackers or any government agency that decided it wanted to investigate him.  Such a system of credit or debit card use goes to the very heart of our privacy.  There are no firewalls strong enough to keep your secrets.  Yes, you are entitled to some secrets in your life that are your business and no one else’s.  How you spend your hard earned money is no one else’s business.   Leave us alone for God’s sake in our own affairs.  With all the minicams and surveillance systems and forced GPS monitors there is little enough privacy as it is.

When we have really bad leadership at the national level and we’re headed in the wrong direction I draw encouragement from the history of the Roman Empire.  It had its many ups and downs over the course of centuries.  Sometimes really bad guys worked their way to the top with bribery, buying votes or even assasination but then things would settle again and decent folks would emerge.  Caligula, Nero and others of that stripe were followed by Marcus Aurelleus even though it took a long time.  The people of all levels of society kept the dream alive through all the terrible times to remember their heritage of basic democracy and the rule of the  Senate.  It wasn’t one man, one vote democracy but it was one nevertheless for its age.  Even those who didn’t have a vote still influenced the votes of those who did.  The Senate was after its fashion responsive to the people.  Even after Rome was sacked by the Vandals in 465 AD (which most standard history texts mark as the fall of Rome)  the Empire came back in a few more iterations of itself for over a hundred years.   If most of our people keep as their Pole Stars freedom, liberty and sovereignity of the people over government we have a chance to endure yet for a while.

What do we owe Winston Churchill?  He was our “cousin” since his mom was American.  After the fall of Dunkirk in 1940 and the surrender of France there was no opposition to Hitler on the Continent and he was at peace with Stalin indeed they were still allies; they had just finished their mutual military operation against Poland.  All seemed quite hopeless and in fact there were many in Great Britain that believed they should sue for peace with Hitle from the man on the street to members of the War Cabinet itself.  Even if Hitle didn’t try to invade there was no realistic possibility that they saw to ever defeat him and the land of Avon would be pounded mercilessly by the Luffwaffe.  Churchill beat  back and/or ignored such calls for peace and used all his oratorical skills to rally the people to resist which they did for another long 18 months before the US joined the fray.  The time called for bold and heroic clarion calls to the ramparts.  The people were scared, they had seen what had happened on the Continent and the British army had just been hammered at Dunkirk.  He delievered.  It is hard to imagine the course of history if Great Britain had not held out until we joined.  Remember the anti-war faction was very strong in the US then and there is no way we would have taken on Hitler by ourselves.   A peace with Great Britain would have allowed all the German troops to muster for the assault on the Soviet Union and minimal forces to garrison the West.   If Churchill had heeded the faint of heart and capitulated it is not hard to imagine that the Nazis would have endured for generations.   Why did BO return the bust of such an icon of heroism to Great Britain?  

The latest possible Fed move reported is that it will print more money to buy Government bonds but then borrow that money at short term with low rates.  This supposedly will assure those concerned about money printing leading to inflation.  I am not making this up, Lord I wish I were.  But not to worry those mad scientists in there no how to take care of you; you just aren’t smart enough like Geithner, the tax cheat or fumbler, to understand the wisdom of all this.

“God give me strength to face a fact though it slay me.”  Thomas Huxley, of the famous Huxley family and biologist.   www.olcranky.wordpress.com

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2 Cents Worth On Life Its Ownself

A few thoughts to ponder during the Holiday Season and ideas of the inquiring mind about the current state of affairs.  Buckle up and take the ride.

Greece has been much in the news lately because of their debt problems stemming from their very generous welfare state and highly regulated economy.   They are in a death spiral at the moment and trying to right the ship, or at least so they say.  There are some of us old enough to remember a little history about how they got to this point.   After the War most of Europe made substantial progress and improved the economic situation greatly all the way into the ’70’s.   Greece, Portugal and Spain were the noticeable laggards.  Their economies were third world during the period.  The European community was formed and the free trade zone established during this period which ultimately lead to the Eurozone with the Euro currency.   Greece wanted in badly in the ’70’s but lots of Europe was skeptical but they did want the whole nine yards and all of Europe to be in the economic union.   Greece couldn’t qualify on its own merit so it was granted special subsidies to be a member.  (No one ever accused the Greeks of being bad bargainers).  It was a great deal for Greece and the rest of Europe hoped it would be a good deal down the road for everyone.   Shortly after Portugal  and Spain applied for membership having ended the authoritarian reigns of Salazar and Franco. 

They were no bargain but again “Europe” wanted everyone in the deal because it would benefit all, at least that was the belief.  Guess who raised the most objection to them?  You guessed it, the Greeks.   They were already running deficits and their economy was still lagging behind everyone else but they thought the Iberians were too much of a load to carry.  To induce the Greeks to approve the addition, the rest of Europe again granted special privileges (subsidies) to the Greeks for them to go along with the Iberian additions.   With the extra money in their pocket for doing nothing more than saying yes, the Greeks were happy to welcome them in the early ’80’s.  We all know how that has worked out.  The Eurozone with the Euro came into existence finally in the late ’90’s.  The Greeks continued to have a bloated public payroll, low productivity per worker and huge deficits.  Others are having to step in and pay off the debts for the Greeks for their profligacy and the Greeks riot in the streets about how unfairly they are being treated!   Funny, I was always taught that whoever pays the Piper gets to call the tune.

Speaking of our friends in Europe are you getting as confused as I am about the way they intend to fix their debt problems.   We have the EFSF which is the European Financial Stability Fund that was is going to get money from somewhere; they can’t seem to articulate exactly where.  Then we now have the ESM, the European Stability Mechanism which is going to add more money to the bailout pot.  New ideas seem to emerge every week.  Will the ECB (European Central Bank) simply print up new money like our Fed does for its bailouts?  There has been talk of some authority, as yet not clearly specified, that will issue bonds and then loan that money out to the needy hands.  Maybe I am just not smart enough to understand the thinking of all those European “smartest guys in the room”.  I do know it all boils down to the Germans because they are the hardest working ants in the field and the most frugal.  Can you blame them for asking what they are getting out of all this?

You all remember the story of Robin Hood.  The complaint was tha the local Sheriff of Nottingham was in cahoots with some of the local big wigs and stealing money from the public coffers.  Am I the only one who has ever wondered why Robin Hood didn’t just go after the evil Sheriff and leave the others alone.  He ended up stealing from anyone he believed was involved in wrongdoing without trial or proof and then gave the money to his preferred special interest group and built a political machine.   Had the bad Sheriff merely been replaced with another Sheriff that had another coterie of cohorts after the same bag of money?  Was he really a hero or just another wannabe dictator?

I don’t get the Payroll Tax reduction for one year.  It will add up to about $80 per average family per month for the next year.  It is like the $600 check most of us got back a few years ago and the cut we’ve had this year.  That amount spread out over a year just doesn’t motivate lots of renewed spending by consumers.  I mean look at the economy for this year.  Has that cut of 2% in the payroll tax boosted the economy this year?  A year flies by really fast.  You reach your own conclusion.  I love all lower taxes but cuts need to make sense in a broader picture.  We would all love to have that extra 80 bucks a month but that won’t cause us to go buy a pick up truck; maybe we’ll do a couple of trips to Appleby’s with the family.  

After all the sound and fury of the last year the fact is that the National Debt is higher still and going up like a rocket.  All the talk about cutting hasn’t happened yet and the so-called cuts are merely reducing the amount of the growth of the debt which is currently projected be 44 trillion in ten years.   Maybe we are just Greeks writ large.   Everyone can’t live on the Federal payroll directly or indirectly forever.  Someone has to actually work in the private sector to create real wealth and money.  The Government doesn’t create wealth, it takes wealth for allegedly the common good.   As it grows the private sector shrinks and soon there won’t be anyone to tax if we keep on the present road.

“I desire what is good; therefore, everyone who does not agree with me is a traitor”.   George III www.olcranky.wordpress.com

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2 Cents Worth On Life Its Ownself

Even with the recent market volatility and crash we believe the price is still a fair one….so pay up and read.

Let’s see, the inflation rate, the real one that includes food and energy is up 3.6% per last week’s report.  The 10 year T-bill is paying barely above 2.0%.   So there are folks and institutions out there willing to pay the Government 1.6% per annum to park their money.   You don’t have to be an economist to see that something is seriously wrong with that picture.   The people who are the backbone of our economy, that work and try to save on a regular basis and keep their debt within the limits they can repay, are being punished for their prudence.   Pardon me, but shouldn’t we be rewarding such behavior?

So with the stroke of an executive pen in the Administration, 300,000 illegal aliens in the deportation process are being given a do-over.  Not only that but they are encouraged to apply for a work permit.   Only those with “serious” criminal records will be subject to the deportation they all deserve.   Again, what kind of behavior are we rewarding?   Isn’t the President sworn to see that the laws are “faithfully executed” per his oath of office?  If this gambit works then why not shoot for 3,000,000 certainly in time for the 2012 elections.   The only limit to this outrage is the depth of venality of the guy in the White House.

In spite of the fact that the Constitution requires compensation for the taking of property, some still argue that our form of government doesn’t favor capitalism and free enterprise.  It is interesting to note that the Virginia Declaration of Rights enacted in May of 1776 in section mentions that purpose of government and the rights of the people.  Including among those rights “the enjoyment of life and liberty, with the means of acquiring and possessing property”…Similar comments and expressions are found throughout the early commentaries and enactments of the Colonies and States in our formative years. 

Speaking of the Revolution, it gets lost in the fog of war and history but the British did make attempts to negotiate a peace.  They proposed free trade, no troops quartered in the Colonies except by mutual consent, representatives allowed in Parliament, etc.  Indeed they made clear we could have a great deal of autonomy “short of a total separation of interest”.  But this was in June of 1778 and the blood was up in the Patriots regardless of the fact that our fortunes on the battlefield were not boding well.  The proposal was rejected by the Continental Congress and we know the rest of the story.

Human nature hasn’t changed a wit since the Garden of Eden.   With the markets in some turmoil everyone you note points the finger at someone else for the troubles.  It’s the big banks, it’s the speculators, it’s the hedge funds or the Europeans in one form or another.  Folks we need and want banks.  Unless you want to go back to the barter era of the barely post cave man stage we have to have a credit function for an economy.  The banks get their money from us and help us.  The speculators are putting their money where their mouth is.  You are free to do the same thing anytime you like.   Real inside information abuse is quite rare.  Do you really believe there is a secret network of tens of thousands of people exchanging secret data among themselves and it stay quiet forever.  Yeah, just like the government secretly is still hiding those aliens that landed in Roswell in 1947.  Hedge funds get their money for all of us.  Pensions, endowments, union funds, IRAs and all the rest and of course the major companies like insurance companies invest their money.  The interest in a hedge fund is spread throughout our society.  Folks, take a look in the mirror.  That secret enemy so many perceive is themselves as Pogo famously noticed.   The market moves based upon hundreds of thousands of decisions made every day around the world.  The median of that needle moves regardless of the decision of individual investors or institutions.   It’s a 24 hour investment world and even if you had New York in your hip pocket with your secret cabal how do you control London, Frankfurt, Singapore or Tokyo?

I guess we got what we wanted with the removal of Mubarak.  But of course there was the attack on Israel just yesterday for Egypt.   The Egyptians disavow any involvement.  Take a look at the map of the region. When the Brotherhood comes to power this fall do you really think they will be pursuing a peace initiative with Israel?   If Qadhafi falls anytime soon don’t you know the Brotherhood will be all over that one too and have a strong influence on whoever ends up running the show in Libya.   We could soon be facing a very hostile environment from Yemen all the way to Tunisia.  Again, look at the map.  Not an encouraging development.  If those revolts are being led by such liberals and freedom lovers do you think they will let your bring your Bible when you go there to visit as a tourist?

Just as we humans are a part of the primate family so is visible light and gamma rays part of the electromagnetic spectrum family.  So are ultraviolet rays, infrared rays, microwaves, television signals, radio signals, radar, and the ordinary electricity that comes out of your wall socket.  Some of those items seem quite different but they really are just variations or branches of the same family grouping.  The more complex a system the greater the simplicity of its design so often.

The White House announces the famous buses costs 1.1 million each.   Wish the media would check that out.  There is no way that is an honest statement.  They may have paid 1.1 million for the basic bus but with those add -ons there is no way in hell the costs came in at 1.1 million, not even close.   The secret service is just like any other government bureaucracy and once given approval for a project they ain’t going to be careful with your money.

“Today it is not big business we have to fear. It is big government.”  W. Wilkie, industrialist and politician.   www.oclranky.wordpress.com

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Deja Vu All Over Again

The economy was booming.  Money was easy and the interest rates charged by the Federal Reserve were very low on a historic basis.   Brokerage firms and banks were lending money on margin to almost all comers regardless of credit quality.   The US was riding high with exports moving higher and industry growing and jobs plentiful.  

There was concern about sovereign debt.  A neighbor had defaulted on its bonds and no payments were being made.  That concerned the markets but buyers were still plentiful.   The US sent private bankers to the neighbor to negotiate terms of the repayment of the defaulted bonds.  The US government didn’t want to be seen publicly putting pressure on the neighbor because of diplomatic concerns.   Great Britain had abandoned the gold standard to ease its economic burdens from war debts.  Then it went back on the gold standard to demonstrate its leading role in international finance.  This of course constrained its ability to expand its burgeoning socialist agenda of that day and transfer payments to the Dole.  It and particularly France were counting on reparations payments from Germany to shore up their balance sheets. 

The German economy was in the doldrums due to revolutions, near revolutions and hyperinflation that destroyed savings and what little wealth was left after the War.   The terms of the reparations were renegotiated for slightly easier terms.  But even though payments were too much as everyone really knew and there was another default in only a couple of years.  

Meantime in the US foreign debt bond were a hot item for purchase even after the default of Mexico and other nations.    Then there was the explosion of common stock issues for all sorts of industries and enterprises.   There were calls and demands for some quarters to cool speculation in the market, some from the highest levels of government, including Herbert Hoover.   Some mergers were made and huge deals structured during this period.  GE acquired American Marconi which became a company you are more familiar with–RCA.  Also AT&T made a deal to protect its market with an up and coming competitor–ITT.  They agreed that ITT could build and operate systems overseas but not in the 48 States.  That deal lasted for over sixty years.  There was plenty of cash and liquidity.  That was considered a good thing and sign of wealth.  It might also have meant there was a dearth of really good investments with long term prospects.  All that liquidity meant it was easier for companies to raise money by issuing new stocks rather than borrowing money even though rates were relatively low.   All of this activity was reflected in the explosive growth of broker dealers from about 250 before WWI and over 6500 by 1929.  

The Federal Reserve finally raised the discount rate to 6% from 5% which many wanted to cool the economy which almost everyone thought was over heating. But it was too little and too late.   One notable financier got out of the market before the ’29 crash when he heard his shoe shine boy talking about what stock he was going to buy.   He knew that was not a good sign and he was right.  Of course there were those who believed things were just fine.  One noted academic in August of 1929 that the market had reached a permanently high plateau.   But it had reached the edge of a cliff.  When the Crash came the Federal Reserve poured money into the system buying government bonds and giving liquidity to Wall Street banks.  But, alas even with this pool of money and other efforts made by the major banking houses on Wall Street these efforts could not overcome one major problem.  There simply were no buyers.  Even if banks were willing to loan money for stock purchases there were no takers.  Yes, there were a couple of rallies but within a year or so the market had lost 90% of its value.

First they pumped money, then they tightened the money supply and deflation came along and reduced prosperity across the board.  The Smoot-Hawley Act that imposed high tariffs on imported goods to protect American jobs had exactly the opposite effect and cost jobs.

If you want to understand the headlines of today it would do you well to read some histories of the 1920’s.  There are many choices.  Discount rates of the Fed, inflation rates, deflation fears, easy money, lose lending standards, speculations and accusations of speculations, gold standard and foreign debt defaults were issues of that day just as they are now.  Then unemployment became the issue of the day.

For those who procrastinate too much–remember, don’t worry about the mules yet, just load the wagon.  My uncle.  www.olcranky.wordpress.com

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