Sunday, November 29, 2009

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas...

My wife informed me the other day that we are cutting back on our Christmas spending this year. Sounds like a good plan to me, although I’ve decided to take a wary “I’ll believe it when I see it” approach to the whole deal. There’s always the possibility that I’ll end up being a real schmuck on Christmas morning if I over-estimate what “cutting back” actually means, maybe even worse than the time I bought her a pant suit that was two sizes too big. Or the time I bought her a new can opener that was just like the one I had given her the Christmas before.

We never have been ones to go overboard buying presents. Socks and underwear have always been a staple. Our children and grandchildren have probably fared better than some and worse than others, but we’ve never bought anything for Christmas that we couldn’t pay for at the time. It seems to work out better that way, and it certainly makes January and February a lot more tolerable.

I’ve heard of people that were still paying for last years presents when they started buying this years presents. I imagine that has to take some of the joy out of giving. Credit and credit cards seem to be the major culprits in the deal. People tend to lose track of what they’re spending if they don’t have to fork over the cash on the spot. A study by found that people who pay with credit cards tend to spend about 25% more than people who pay with cash. And then there’s that interest thing to contend with.

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas up in Washington, too. They don’t really have a pay as you go system in place up there anymore, and you just about have to believe that our representatives have lost track of how much they’re spending. Our national debt passed $12 trillion sometime last month, but that’s only if you don’t add in our future obligations to Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. That kicks it up to $60 or $70 trillion, give or take a trillion or two.

Like people who charge more on their credit cards than they pay on the bill each month, the government is spending and adding to the debt more than it is paying on it. By about a trillion dollars a year. And just like those people with their credit cards, it doesn’t make it any easier when you have to pay all of that interest, which in the government’s case is over $1 billion per day.

Of course, we all know that government doesn’t actually pay anything on the debt. Taxpayers do. And right now they’re also paying a lot of interest. In fact, 40 cents of every dollar of individual income taxes collected goes just to pay interest. And it doesn’t appear that the government is being overly frugal with the 60 cents that’s left over, either.

We also know that we aren’t going to be able to pay off this debt. We are going to hand it over to our children and grandchildren. In 10 years it ought to be up around $22 trillion.
If we don’t add anymore spending. And if nobody else loses their job.

Thomas Jefferson had some excellent advice years ago when he said that “It is incumbent on every generation to pay its own debts as it goes.” Sounds like a good idea to me all year, not just at Christmas.

And if you want to get the kids a little something extra this year, slip a bill in each of their stockings for $39,118.00. That’s each ones share of the federal debt. And be sure to remind them that just like the socks and underwear, it’s gonna be even bigger next year.

Merry Christmas.

Labels: ,

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thanks again, I hope...

I saw a letter to the editor in our local paper the other day exalting the virtues of a meatless Thanksgiving. One of the things I'm most thankful for this Thanksgiving is that apparently nobody in my family paid much attention to that letter.

The first attempts at this holiday got off to a rocky start. Here's a short report from William Bradford, Governor of the Plymouth Colony, 1646, describing the Pilgrim's failed experiment in socialism that was supposed to lead to shared prosperity...

"The experience that we had in this common course and condition, tried sundry years...that by taking away property, and bringing community into a common wealth, would make them happy and if they were wiser than God. For this community was found to breed much confusion and discontent, and retard much employment that would have been to their benefit and comfort. For young men that were most able and fit for labor and service did repine that they should spend their time and strength to work for other mens' wives and children without any recompense...that was thought injustice."

Thankfully, the pilgrims realized the error of their socialistic ways before it caused total failure, and converted to a system of private ownership and private enterprise that rewarded hard work and success, more than it rewarded sloth and failure. That move lead to the first Thanksgiving, and many more to follow. I hope that we as a nation can remember what created such a great nation, and what almost caused its downfall before it even started.

We have a lot to be thankful for this Thanksgiving.

We also have a lot to be wary of.


Sunday, November 22, 2009

I'm afraid it's going to get awfully crowded around here...

I've always realized the fight against bigger government is an uphill battle. As long as the government continues to rob from Peter to pay Paul, Paul is usually going to throw his support the governments way.

Now the battle is becoming even harder. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has stated that "Today we vote whether to even discuss one of the greatest issues of our generation - indeed, one of the greatest issues this body has ever face: whether this nation will finally guarantee its people the right to live free from the fear of illness and death, which can be prevented by decent health care for all."

Free from the fear of illness and death? Illness and death can be prevented by big government health care?

It's gonna be hard to top that.

Labels: ,

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Who are you gonna call?....

A few years ago, "Ghostbusters" was a popular answer to that question. Never having been troubled by ghosts, I never had need for their services. I do have my plumber on speed dial, and the electrician. Also Gary down at the hardware store and Jarod at the lumber yard. I've got three numbers to get ahold of my wife, and two to get ahold of Mom, so I think I'm pretty well covered for most emergencies.

I guess sometimes situations might change your calling circle. The rumor at coffee this morning was that as soon as Richard Lugar learned that his wife Charlene had been arrested for DUI and a hit and run accident, the first call he made was to Indiana State Representative Thomas Saunders.

Makes sense to me.

Although if he had called earlier she might have had three days to sober up.

Labels: ,

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Can you hear me now?...

The current health care debate has generated a lot of discussion on just what constitutes a "right". I've always maintained that our rights cannot conflict with somebody else's rights. That is, if something you consider to be your right requires the initiation of force against another individual, it isn't really a right. I don't think it matters whether you forcibly take some one's property on your own, or whether you designate someone else to take it for you.

I've heard arguments from a lot of people that as long as the government is doing the taking, it's somehow different. That your "right" to health care entitles the government to take something from Peter and give it to Paul, even if it would be wrong for Paul to take it from Peter on his own.

Apparently, the government has decided that it's now a right to have a cell phone. I guess it's also a right to get to use it for 70 minutes a month.

I'm glad my kids didn't find this out a few years ago.


Thursday, November 12, 2009

Yah, thot wood sock...

Apparently the authors of the health care bill that the House of Representatives just passed were really serious about making sure everyone complied with the law. People who fail to buy insurance are subject to a $250,000.00 fine and up to 5 years in jail. Since the bill is almost 2000 pages, I haven't found time to read the whole thing yet. I hope my $10,000.00 deductible, catastrophic coverage policy suits them. I'm not sure I could come up with a quarter of a million dollars or 5 years, either one.

I do have some concerns for my Amish friends and neighbors, though. They're not the insurance buying type, opting instead to take care of themselves with an old fashioned co-op system. I have always been envious of the fact that they have been allowed to opt out of the Social Security plan that most are forced to fund. I hope there is a provision in the house bill that allows them to opt out of the government health care plan.

I just haven't found it yet.


Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Thanks pfor nothing...

For those of us that still believe in private property rights, Kelo vs. New London, the case where the Supreme Court ruled that government could seize a person's home for almost any reason, as long as the seizure resulted in more money for the governments coffers, remains one of the most horrible decisions the court has ever handed down. And that is saying a lot.

That was in 2005, and since then, the town of New London, Connecticut has torn down the houses of Suzette Kelo and her neighbors. The town then gave the property, along with a fist full of abatements to Pfizer Pharmaceuticals, Inc., which in turn built a research and development center on the lots.

Pfizer announced Monday that it is closing the facility.

Do you think there might be a chance that the New London Town Council, and the Supreme Court, and Pfizer will offer those homeowners an apology?

Neither do I.


Saturday, November 07, 2009

Get the lead out...

I've seen a lot of changes since starting a construction company 35 years ago. Some of the materials we use in the business is better than it used to be, and some of it is worse. Some of it isn't even in existence anymore. Some of the tools we use have also changed, again, some for the better and some for the worse. Some haven't. They're all a lot more expensive than they used to be. I have managed to keep the same hammer for 35 years, although I've had to replace the handle 3 times and the head twice.

Some things are pretty constant. There are still a lot of good people to work for out there, and even in the worst of times, there is always somebody that needs something done. It's also a pretty safe bet that there will always be someone out there trying to add another layer of regulation on all of us. Earlier this year, a local builders organization was lobbying to make sure that anybody wanting to work in Wayne County was licensed. Last year, the Department of Natural Resources notified us that if we uncover any signs of certain past human activity on a job site, we would be required to shut down the job site until the DNR had time to come out and investigate.

The latest silliness comes from the Environmental Protection Agency. Starting next April, federal law requires that any company that "engages in remodeling and repair/maintenance, electrical work, plumbing, painting, carpentry, or window replacement that disturbs 6 square feet or more of paint per room inside, or 20 square feet or more on the exterior of a home, child care facility or school built before 1978 must have at least one worker in the firm that is a certified lead renovator."

Ayn Rand said that "The only power any government has is the power to crack down on criminals. Well, when there aren't enough criminals, one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws."

I don't imagine most people will pay anymore attention to the new EPA regulations than they do to the old DNR regulations, so I'm guessing the government just created another group of criminals.

There's also a $32,500.00 fine that goes along with non-compliance, so I'm planning on laying low until this all blows over, just in case I ever have to buy another hammer.

Labels: ,

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Frankly my dear, I don't give a darn...

I don't know what an acai berry is. I did see an advertisement the other day about some juice that they make from it, and the ad promised that I would be shocked by the results if I drank some of it. I'm not so sure. It's been a long time since anything really shocked me.

I've heard people say how shocking it was when Clark Gable said "damn" in the closing scenes of Gone with the Wind. I don't think to many people would be suprised today if they heard it on Sesame Street. I've seen things on prime-time television that used to garner an "R" rating at the movies. 6th graders use words that I never even heard until I moved away to college.

The federal debt passed $12 trillion a few days ago. We live in the United States of America, and the government is about to make a law requiring everybody to buy health insurance. Every day we hear people demanding that the government take away more of our freedom and choices, and replace them with regulations.

So yes, I might be a little suprised by what some berry juice can do for me, or by what people say, or by what people do, but I don't think I'll be shocked.

Not anymore.


Sunday, November 01, 2009

Take it or leave it...

Stinky Wilmont was my best pal back when we were attending Millville Grade School. I guess we had a lot of things in common. We both thought Rin Tin Tin was a lot smarter and faster than Lassie, and we were convinced Popeye and Bluto could both have done a lot better than Olive Oyl . We didn’t think much of the creamed peas they served us in the cafeteria on Wednesdays, and if the truth was told, neither one of us was really all that happy to be in school at all.

Of course, we had our differences, too. Stinky seemed to place a little less emphasis on personal hygiene. As I remember, that kind of ran in the family. He also liked to go coon hunting. I tried it a couple of times, but I just never saw the attraction.

It all worked out pretty well, though. We still got together when necessary to hide the creamed peas under the Best-Ever milk cooler, but I didn’t try to make Stinky take a bath, and he didn’t try to make me go coon hunting. It just seemed like the natural solution.

That philosophy has served me fairly well through the years. I’ve made friends that like to go hunting and friends that don’t. I’ve made a few friends that don’t like to bathe, although we’re not really that close. I’ve made friends that share my religious beliefs, and friends that have different religious beliefs, and friends that have no religious beliefs. I have friends that drink alcohol and friends that don’t, friends that smoke and friends that don’t, and a couple friends that chew or dip snuff. As long as people are tolerant enough that no one tries to force their choices on someone else, we seem to get along pretty well, although I do pay closer attention to the wind direction when I’m around one of the chewers.

I think for the most part, Americans have usually behaved that way, at least in their personal dealings. That’s not to say that some individuals aren’t pretty insistent about bringing others around to their way of thinking, but for the last 150 years or so, even with some major differences in opinions, we’ve managed to keep things half-way civil.

One of the things that has set us apart from some countries around the world is the way we have handled our elections. No matter how nasty the campaign was, or how much difference there was in the ideologies, in the end, the loser steps aside and the winner takes office ( except for a few local mayoral races, that is). It’s not like that everywhere. In some countries the losers grab guns and start shooting at the winners. Not much tolerance, I guess.

I don’t think we’ve reached that point in this country yet, although there does seem to be a growing divide among people concerning what they expect from their government. Right now there is a large group of people that want the government to provide health care for everybody. There’s also a large group of people that don’t want the government to provide health care for everybody. Although we haven’t seen too many guns brought out yet, several people on each side of the debate are getting pretty insistent, and even downright nasty, trying to make sure that their side gets to make the rules.

Before we do get to that point, maybe we simply need to step back and allow the people who want government health care to go ahead and pay for government health care plan, and allow people who don’t want government health care to go their own way.

I think that would work for a lot of government programs. At least it always worked for Stinky and me.

And while we’re at it, you’re all welcome to come to church with me next Sunday if you want to. But nobody’s forcing you. Yet.