Saturday, February 27, 2010


I saw a commercial on TV the other day advertising a paint that you could put on a Formica counter top to make it "just like new". Now, I know that isn't true, and most of you know that isn't true. I suspect the company that makes the paint knows it isn't true, and I imagine even the announcer in the commercial knows it isn't true.

I'd rather have the announcer just tell me that the paint might make your Formica counter top look like new for a little bit, until you use it a little bit. At least I'd think he was being honest while I decided I probably didn't want to buy his paint.

I understand that there are a lot of people in this country who feel strongly that it is the role of government to step in and make sure everybody in the country carries health insurance. A lot of them also feel that it is the governments role to make sure that everybody who can afford insurance for themselves chips in to buy insurance for people that don't have it.

I disagree with the people that feel that way. I believe government should have a much more limited role than that. But even though I disagree with them, I do understand why they might feel that way.

Apparently President Obama is one of the people that feels that way. And since he feels that way, I would expect him to tell us that he feels that way. But he also told us that his $1.5 trillion health care plan won't add to the federal deficit. I don't believe he believes that anymore than I believe it. And I'd just as soon he would tell us that.

My old buddy Stinky Wilmont used to say "Don't pee in my ear and try to tell me it's raining".

I think that is a fair enough request.

And while you're at it, don't tell me you can paint Formica and make it like new.

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Thursday, February 25, 2010

What's in a name?...

On the plus side, I didn't have to spend a lot of time learning to spell my name when I was younger. I pretty well had it nailed by the third grade.

On the negative side, if I had a dollar for every time someone told me "We used to have a dog named Rex!" when I introduced myself, I could take my wife out for a nice dinner somewhere.

A lot of people have had their names legally changed for one reason or another. I've never considered doing that, even with all of the "dog" comments. Didn't want to learn to spell another name, I guess.

One of my favorite Aunts, Eullillian, is having a birthday today. When she was born, her parents named her Oval Eullillian Fannin. When she married Uncle Hobart, it changed to Oval Eullillian Bell. She used to claim that when she started to school, she had to bring a note from her parents to verify for her teacher that Oval Eullillian was really her name. One of the rites of passage when I was growing up was learning to pronounce her name. And spell it.

Anyway, Happy Birthday, Aunt Eullillian, from Rex.

And that's the long and the short of it.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Promissory Promises...

Most of the time, whenever my old buddy Stinky Wilmont and I got into trouble back at Millville Grade School, we ended up down in Principal Baker's office. And most of the time, Mr. Baker would call us in one at a time, probably counting on the intimidation factor to garner an apology from us. It usually worked, and each of us ended up promising that both of us would do better from then on.

I learned a lot about promises back at Millville. The first thing I learned was that sometimes it's easier to make a promise than it is to keep it. The second thing I learned was it's hard to make a promise for another person. Stinky didn't always share my convictions. In fact, often times he didn't even share my intentions.

Since my learning experience with Stinky, I've become a little more careful about the promises I make. I've found I'm the one that has to keep my own promises. I know nobody else is bound to keep mine, and unless I agree otherwise, I'm not bound to keep anyone else's.

I think every once in a while politicians run into the same situation. It's a lot easier to make a promise during a campaign than it is to make good on it after the election. Especially if delivering on a promise requires the cooperation of someone who didn't make the same promise that you made. I think President Obama is finding that out right now. I suppose most elected officials find that out at some time or another.

Unfortunately, that doesn't keep them from making promises, especially if they think they can get someone else to keep them. Politicians out in California have promised state employees that if they work for 30 years, they can retire at age 50 and draw 90% of their salary for the rest of their lives. Even if it's another 50 years.

Politicians in New Jersey promise, according to Governor Christie, that a state employee can retire at age 49, and qualify for $3.8 million in pension payments and health care benefits over the course of his retirement. And again, it's a lot easier for politicians to make these promises knowing that they aren't the people who will have to keep them. That wouldn't necessarily be a problem if the workers and their employer were putting the money aside to cover those retirements. But that's not how that works. According to Chris Edwards over at the Cato Institute, a recent study found that local and state public employee retirement accounts across the country are underfunded and over promised by $3.2 trillion.

That means a lot of the people who will be paying that state worker's $3.8 million retirement haven't even entered the work force yet. A lot more of them haven't even been born yet. Some of their parents haven't even been born yet.

Our federal government's official debt is approaching $14 trillion. According to the Congressional Budget Office, the debt, including unfunded liabilities, is closer to $60 trillion, and every time the government takes on more debt, our elected officials promise that someone will pay that debt. But not them.

Thomas Jefferson warned that "It is incumbent on every generation to pay its own debts as it goes." Good advice, I think. And by all rights, every generation ought to keep its own promises.

Just in case the next generation decides not to.


Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Raindrops keep fallin' on my head...

This year, I'm going to have to put a new roof on the part of our house that we added on about 20 years ago. It's not like it's leaking yet, but it was a 20 year shingle when we put it on, and it's showing some wear. Besides, I figure it's always better to replace a roof before it starts leaking.

Back in 2004, the Libertarian Party candidates for Wayne County Commissioner and Wayne County Council, as part of their platform, suggested that it was feasible that Wayne County government could realistically trim the budget of each county department by 10%. The county newspaper, the Palladium-Item, said some pretty unkind things about the Libertarians' proposals in their endorsement of the Republicans before the election.

As I pointed out a couple years later, when the City of Richmond ran into some financial difficulties, the Palladium-Item recommended 10% cuts to help solve the problem.
Now we are finding out that the county's overspending is about to catch up with us.
According to the County Treasurer, in about six weeks the county won't be able to make payroll. I imagine a lot of people will start figuring out how to make needed cuts.

And I suppose I could wait until my roof starts leaking before I replace it. But I think it makes more sense to get out in front of it.

So I think that's what I'll do.


Sunday, February 21, 2010

Who's the monkey now?....

I've never been to India, but I've heard the story that if someone wants to catch a monkey over there, they can drill a small hole in a secured gourd, and add some rice. When a monkey reaches into the hole and grabs a paw full of rice, it can't get its paw out of the gourd, and it refuses to let go of the rice so it could escape, even if it means it will end up as monkey stew by evening.

As I stated, I've never been to India, and I've never tried to catch a monkey, so I can't verify if the story is true. I have seen a lot of similarities, though, between the monkey in the story and people in the United States who insist on hanging on to things that are bankrupting our country.

Jacob Hornberger recently wrote about a plan to save the Titanic on his blog over at the Future of Freedom Foundation website. It describes how people on the Titanic refused to take the steps that could have saved the ship.

Now, I wasn't on the Titanic, but I'm pretty sure it didn't happen exactly like Jacob describes. The timeline for sacred benefits doesn't exactly line up. I guess my preacher might call it a parable. Or it could be called an analogy. Similar stories told to make a point.

There are a lot of parables and analogies that can be told about entitlement mentality in the United States today, and the impending financial meltdown that we are facing as a nation.

None of them end well.


Friday, February 19, 2010

Consent of the governed...

The Declaration of Independence made some pretty good points about why the United States ought to be established:

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness."

According to the people over at Rasmussen Reports, a majority of Americans aren't as willing to give their consent as they used to be. I have to believe it's because our government started doing things to us, (in the name of doing things for us), that we really never consented to at all.

Of course, when it comes right down to it, nobody that you or I know signed the Constitution, or voted to ratify it the first time around. Some of us are old enough to remember the addition of a few amendments, but some of us aren't. When it was first written, the Constitution had both minor and major flaws and omissions that needed to be worked out over the years, some fairly peaceably, some not. About 150 years ago a good part of the nation decided to withdraw their consent to be governed by the other part of the nation. It made an awful mess for the longest time. Some people from both sides never got over it. Some people from both sides still haven't.

But, for the most part, within a few years after that war ended, most people gave at least their implied consent to be governed. And the more consent we implied, the more the government governed. And they ended up governing a lot more than the Constitution says they can govern.

So that's where we are today. And I hope the people over at Rasmussen are correct. I don't know if most people will ever consent to not be governed at all, but I do hope most of us would start consenting to be governed a lot less.


Thursday, February 18, 2010

Ya'll had a real nice tea party git...

You hear a lot of talk about compromise today. Having been married for going on 34 years, I realize that sometimes compromise is necessary, if not always gratifying.

And then sometimes it's necessary to stick to your guns.

Like if you're in a bus with a group of people about to drive off of a cliff at 60 MPH. Some on the bus might want to slow down to 40 MPH before you hit the cliff, and the majority might decide to compromise and drive off the cliff at 50 MPH. Some might just want to compromise by changing drivers. You're not going to be happy with the end result no matter what.

I saw Sarah Palin spoke at the Tea Party Convention the other day, and told them that while they had a real nice party, if they wanted to effective at all, they really needed to rejoin the Republican Party or the Democratic Party. I think the assumption was that most would rejoin the Republicans. I imagine a lot of them will, believing that the Republicans they vote for this year will be somehow different than the Republicans they have voted for in the past.

Before the 2008 elections, the Libertarian Party issued this release explaining the fallacy of that thinking:

Sen. John McCain accuses Sen. Barack Obama of being a “socialist,” but it is President George W. Bush, supported by Sen. McCain, who has done the most to socialize the U.S. economy. Courtesy of the Republican Party, the federal government is set to own a sizable chunk of the housing, auto, banking and insurance industries, as well as pieces of individual companies lining up to sell securities to Washington. Even individual homes, with Uncle Sam preparing to become the mortgage guarantor of last resort, are the targets of nationalization.

What will be left for the next president to socialize?

The Republican Party once campaigned against irresponsible federal spending and government red ink. Then George W. Bush became president. With a Republican Congress, he turned a budget surplus into a half trillion dollar deficit, added trillions of dollars in unfunded liabilities with creation of the Medicare drug benefit, and expanded virtually every federal program, domestic as well as foreign.

How is this different from what the Democratic Party has been promising to do for years?

Only after the Democrats retook control of Congress did President Bush suddenly become concerned about fiscal responsibility. But that lasted only until the sub prime mortgage crisis enveloped Washington. Taking its cue from Democratic tax and spend policies of the past, the administration then opened the Treasury doors to all comers.

So far, the Bush administration, Congress, and Federal Reserve have provided more than $2 trillion in bailouts. Congress got the ball rolling, with an assist from the administration, with a $300 billion bailout of the housing industry. The president even agreed to a multi-million dollar taxpayer pay-off to the left-wing activist group ACORN to grease the legislative wheels.

Then Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson abandoned his contrary assurances and nationalized Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac at a cost of $200 billion, though the price could go higher. Bailouts began sprouting like mushrooms after a heavy rain—$29 billion to cover Bear Stearns, hundreds of billions of dollars from the Federal Reserve to banks and investment banks, as well as to buy mortgage-backed securities, $85 billion to nationalize the big insurer AIG, followed by another $38 billion for AIG and $25 billion more in loans to the auto industry.

Then there was the grand pay-off to Wall Street. Secretary Paulson came up with the wholly arbitrary $700 billion bailout—his aides admitted that he just wanted a really big number. And the administration accepted an extra $150 billion in pork and special tax breaks to win over reluctant congressmen. The purpose, we were told, was to clear “toxic” paper off of corporate balance sheets.

It turns out this was nothing more than another Bush Administration bait-and-switch.

Now the $700 billion is being used to buy up the U.S. economy. First, the administration decided to “invest” in big banks, whether they wanted it or not. The Bush administration put pressure on even sound institutions and argued that bankers must accept Republican socialism as a matter of patriotism. Who knows when, if ever, the government will sell off its stake in America’s financial system.

Then the administration suggested a new $40 billion homeowners program. The federal government is going to start guaranteeing individual mortgages. A lender who makes a bad loan will be assured of repayment so long as he cuts the interest rate or principal. A homeowner who should never have bought the house will get bailed-out by responsible homeowners and renters.

But the administration isn’t finished. On Friday, October 24, the Treasury Department announced that it was going to buy ownership stakes in major insurance companies. After all, the insurers are in trouble too. So The Hartford, MetLife, and Prudential already are in line for a government hand-out.

Now the Financial Services Roundtable has asked the Treasury Department to buy into securities dealers, auto manufacturers, and even U.S. subsidiaries of foreign companies. After all, they “play a vital role in the U.S. economy,” explained the Roundtable. By that criterion, what industry or company doesn’t qualify for a bail-out?

Is Sen. Obama “socialist?” Yes, he wants to “spread the wealth,” as he puts it. But that’s what the Republicans have been doing for the last eight years. We already have "big government," "socialism," or whatever else you want to call it—and it was Republicans who gave it to us.

I know there are Tea Partiers that really want limited government. There are also Tea Partiers that are simply opposed to Democrats. The ones that want limited government had better stick to their guns and find a party that shares their beliefs to change the government's direction.

The others are just looking to change drivers.

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Monday, February 15, 2010

What a bear....

I'll be the first to admit that a lot of today's technology has passed me by. A lot of times I don't know what commercials are even advertising. I only use about half of the buttons on my cell phone, and our VCR has been blinking 12:00 since 1986.

Even most of our grand children's toys require batteries or an AC power adapter. So I probably wasn't using my best judgement the other day when I bought 4 stuffed animals for them for Valentine's Day.

When I handed a Teddy Bear to 4 year old Hannah, she said "Thanks, Papaw. What does it do?"

I had to explain that it was just a Teddy Bear. It doesn't do anything.

I think I'll let Grandma do the shopping from here on out.


Saturday, February 13, 2010

What goes around, comes around....

Sixty one years ago Uncle Ancel and Aunt Betty Bell built the house we live in today. It changed hands a few times before Susan and I bought it in 1986, and it's seen a few other changes over the years, but it did make it back into the Bell family.

The people that owned it before us turned the attached, one-car garage into a business office sometime in the mid seventies. They covered up the concrete garage floor with 2x8 sleepers, plywood underlayment and carpet. When we bought the house the room served as our sons' bedroom until we added on the second story about twenty years ago. Since then it's been our family room.

Our grandchildren, and especially our grandson, necessitated seeking an alternate flooring instead of the carpet that had been down for a while. Our son Jonathan installs decorative concrete, so like sixty one years ago, we're back to a concrete floor again. Of course, this one looks like wood, and it has some electric heat cable under it to make it warm on the grand kids' feet, and Susan probably won't let me pull my truck in on it, but other than that, I think we've come full circle.

What goes around, comes around.


Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Some bloating and dizziness may occur...

It seems like there are a lot of commercials for medications on TV these days. Sometimes I have a hard time figuring what the medicine is for. It helps if they mention a malady I recognize early on in the advertisement.

The other day I saw an ad for some type of pill that was supposed to help alleviate depression. Being that it's the dead of winter in Indiana, the ad caught my attention for a moment. But after brief description of the pills benefits, the announcer launched into a speed reading disclaimer about the possible side effects of the product, including, but not limited to,nervousness, weight loss, bloating, dizziness, nausea, skin rashes, diarrhea, head aches, joint pain, nose bleeds, loss of sex drive and thoughts of suicide.

I decided I'd just try to get through the winter as best I could on my own. I was pretty sure if I didn't have full blown depression before I took the medicine, there was a pretty good chance that I would have afterwards.

I see now that President Obama wants congress to have a health care summit to see if they can come up with some kind of a plan to fix the nation's health care problems. Now, that makes me nervous. As I and others have pointed out many time before, a lot of the problems we face in the health care field today are the result of government over-regulation in all aspects of the health care industry. From Medicare and Medicaid, to mandatory insurance benefits, government regulations have helped health care costs increase 400% faster than our wages.

I won't pretend that we don't have some problems in the system to work through if congress doesn't come up with a plan, but I don't believe they're as bad as the problems the government is about to create.

Every time the Republicans and Democrats decide to work together, we seem to lose a little more freedom, and a little more weight.

From our wallets.


Friday, February 05, 2010


It's not that I'm opposed to borrowing money. There are times when it is simply a necessity. The problem is, whoever lends it always expects to be paid back. And whenever I borrow money, I'm the one who has to make the payments, so I usually try to make sure I can come up with a way to find enough money for them. If it wasn't for that little detail, I'd probably try to borrow a lot more.

Our Representatives in Washington just increased the federal debt limit to $14.3 trillion, so that they can borrow enough money to hopefully get us through until the end of the year. I imagine it makes it a lot easier knowing they aren't the ones who will have to pay it back.

But then, we may have reached the point where the question is not "Who is going to pay the debt?", but instead, "Can the debt ever be paid?"
This article makes the case that it is mathematically impossible to pay off the debt as it now stands. There just isn't enough money in the country to cover it.

Normally, when there isn't enough money to cover the debt, some of the guys on the wrong end of the line don't get paid.

That doesn't seem to bother our representatives up in Washington. But then, I don't suspect many of them will end up on the wrong end of the line, either.


Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Do as I say, not as I do...

Sometimes you just have to wonder. I read this morning that Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Danny Williams passed on Canada's national health care and came to the United States for his open heart surgery.

Can't say as I blame him. If I was needing doctoring, I would look for the best care available.

Apparently it isn't in Canada.