Saturday, June 27, 2009

Check this out

The Bureau of Labor and Statistics has an indexing program where you can look at how many dollars you’d need now to equal a dollar from years ago.  The oldest year you can look up is 1913…the creation of the Federal Reserve. 

Go ahead…select different years from the drop-down list.  You’ll get a good picture of how well the Federal Reserve and Congress has taken care of the value of our dollar.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Shoes – update

I got a lot of feedback on this post.  Emails, comments, Facebook thingies, you name it.  Nearly everyone had advice and I would say there was not much of a consensus (except maybe that I'm a jerk) which I think really just shows how much of a conflict there is when confronted with this sort of thing.

None of you changed my opinion but I'll share insight that I did not share within the original post.   After all, this was a bit of a thought experiment.

  1. The man mostly had legitimate food in his basket and paid for it with cash.  He was not using any governmental assistance to purchase this.  I suspect it's true for the coffee too.
  2. I absolutely did not judge him to be a panhandler/bum.  He fit the profile of someone who was simply poor.
  3. He is not unlike about dozen other people at this same store, at this same time, just about everyday.
  4. I'm not a bleeding heart.  I don't help people with a gesture to make myself feel good.  I help where I see help will actually help.
  5. He seemed genuinely happy and greeted people around him.
  6. I never, at any point, felt like I was enabling him to have a certain lifestyle by buying him shoes.  He needed shoes.  I don't consider poverty to be a crime or a virtue.  The poor will always be among us.
  7. I called myself judgmental and this was a problem for three of you.  Being both judgmental and discriminate are good things.  We practice judgment and discrimination every day in the choices we make.  They are good things when done with the right motivations. 
  8. My first instinct on this was to buy him shoes.  This was MY first instinct...I totally understand if it wouldn't be yours.  I don't compel people to apply my own convictions of mercy and charity to their own lives.  Any thinking person could raise credible arguments for letting him continue in those shoes…many of you did.
  9. I’m also wearing worn shoes and with my longer hair and beard I could’ve been a candidate in someone’s eyes for help also.  That makes me laugh kind of.
  10. Based on all that I've told you...I still decided not to get him shoes.  I judge that as a this case.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Walk a mile in a man’s shoes

Today I went to a local store near where I work.  It's in a poor neighborhood.  I've written before about this store in another post.

I got my two items and suddenly ran into the CEO of the company I work for.  He looked at me and I looked at him.  He may have known my name but I doubt it.  We’ve talked before and have been in the same meetings but honestly I try to be a person that people forget easily.  If a time comes in the future where I’ll be required to live a life of crime, it’ll work to my advantage.

I made my way to the self-checkout line which was a bit long and a man with a backpack and a basket full of food was in front of me.  I’d like to think I’m not a judgmental person but my life is full of cultural bias.  He had long hair and dressed like he hadn’t had new clothes in awhile.  (the hair doesn’t bother me as long hair is not an unusual thing in my own life)

Then I noticed his shoes.  They were open-toed shoes.  Not by design mind you but rather from wear and tear.  I could see his socks through the front of very worn out tennis shoes.  This man needed new shoes.

My first thoughts were to buy him new shoes.  Seriously.  I’ve done this before and I’m absolutely not against helping anyone with an immediate need at my own cost of money and time.  I’m not patting myself on the back either, I like to help people when my help can really…well…help.  Just one of those “unto the least of these” kind of things.

Then something happened.  I looked in his hand.  Starbucks.  I looked in his basket.  Zingers.  I thought to myself that if he was willing to buy unhealthy desserts and designer coffee and was still willing to walk around in crappy shoes then why should I buy him shoes?

I got to my car and it hit me.  I knew nothing about him.  I knew nothing about what he was buying, or if what he was buying was even for himself.   Maybe someone bought him the coffee and he was grateful for having something to drink.  I realized that I only knew one thing about him:  This man needed new shoes. 

Forgive me, but I am a judgmental jerk sometimes.  If I see him again he’s getting new shoes.

Top 10 US Debt Holders

1. China 767.90 (Billion)
2. Japan 686.70
3. Caribbean Banking Centers 213.60
4. Oil Exporters 192.00
5. Russia 138.40
6. United Kingdom 128.20
7. Brazil 126.60
8. Luxembourg 106.10
9. Hong Kong 78.90
10. Taiwan 74.80

Interestingly number four doesn't make sense without some research behind it.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Collecting Stuff

I collect a few things. Nothing I collect is worth much really.

Events today put me in position to waste time at a car collector show. Lots of restored cars. I wasn't impressed.

I walked around watching these people sit in lawn chairs next to their cars that were in various phases of restoration and you could tell their very lives were wrapped up in these projects. On what seemed like a nice day they had nothing better to do except hang around with other people who have dedicated their lives to restore their own bucket of bolts. I felt sorry for them really.

Then the weather turned. It really turned.

The first day of summer rolled in and along with it came an awesome hail storm. Panic erupted as every collector imagined the specter of their beloved old cars having as many dimples as a golf ball. They ran around...some started their cars and headed where...who can say? Where would they escape the hail storm? Others ran for cover as the lightning showed up shortly after the hail. What fun. I laughed inside and laughed a great deal.

They should all get a new hobby or at least move their weird gathings indoors...where moth and rust do not quickly.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

David Letterman and the Palins

I've always liked Letterman and have preferred his show to both Leno and Carson over the years. His joke about A-Rod knocking up the Governor's daughter was just another joke in a long line against the Palin family. One of the jokes was going to go too far...unfortunately it was Letterman's.

During the election, Obama simply stated to the press that his family was off-limits and the press honored it. Hell, they honored everything he did to the point of worship. Palin's family was the subject of a great media focus...most of the time unfairly.

Letterman apologizes and now finally Sarah Palin's family is off-limits because one joke could be taken to mean something that was beyond the taste of the average American.

I hope the Palin's enjoy their time of being left alone and I hope this joke doesn't become a Don Imus moment for Letterman.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Silliness from The Federal Reserve

I enjoy this video montage of Ben Bernanke. You could bring up video from the past on anyone and demonstrate how their opinions were short-sighted or just plain wrong. I guess what makes Ben's video more fun to watch is his ABSOLUTE ARROGANCE in his faith in central economic planning. He should stick to more general predictions like a horoscope.

Dear Capricorn, you are feeling a little thin in the wallet but don't despair! Inflation on a small level means economic growth and more opportunities for love. Whatever was draining your wallet will soon be gone and you'll be back in the driver's seat with joy and romance as your co-pilot. Take out another credit card and spend some of the capital that will be coming your way.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Satan Hates You Trailer

Friend of the blog, television carpenter, and former pilgrim Don Wood stars in Satan Hates You.  Enjoy.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Duckies rescued by cop!

I’m always assured by people that there are good cops out there.  This must be that good cop to whom you were referring.

I'm sure I'll be updating this post later once it's reported she tazered the ducks for not respecting her authority. This one is for you Mr. Anonymous.

72 Year Old Woman Tazered

The cop had to use violent force against the elderly woman because she was committing the terrible crime of initially refusing to sign a traffic ticket. If only this brave police officer had called for back-up so that he and other officers could take turns beating her with clubs while screaming "CALM DOWN!" in her face.

Peter Schiff on the Daily Show

I know many of you saw this already, but worth a repeat.
The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Peter Schiff
Daily Show

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

No one is looking for me. Trust me.

Facebook has many interesting ads, but this one really made me laugh.  I present you the ad aimed at horndog males thinking a hot woman they don’t know is probably looking for them:

I take it back…there might be some people looking for me.  People I forgot I owe money to…or maybe even the Jehovah Witnesses that came to my door last Saturday.  So fat chance…I’m not fooled by your ad.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Friday, June 05, 2009

GM - the new Amtrak

Richard Nixon forced the merger of two railroads and then subsequently moved to subsidize them and force them to nationalization. The promise was, back in the 70's, that the need to rescue the railroads would be temporary and that once the government got them back on their feet and profitable, the assets would be sold off.

How did that work? Well 40 years later Amtrak still exists and operating at a loss...and you pay for it whether you ride the train or not. Because of lobbyists (who now are paid by federal money) legislation has made it illegal to compete with Amtrak...ensuring no profitable passenger train company will ever exist in this nation.

Like Amtrak, GM now has their employees paid with federal dollars...including their lobbyists. You are going to begin paying for lobbyists with your tax dollars to go to Washington and make sure that GM gets more of your dollars. They will never have to be profitable again...and with constant lobbying pressure it could become illegal some day to sell a car for less than a GM car.

I'm skeptical that GM will ever be turned back over to the private marketplace once it exists under protective umbrella of government force and coercion.

Have a good weekend!

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Nice timing

I got home...the phone rang...I answered...

It was the police union asking people to donate to programs to help families of cops who have been hurt or suffered from the inherent dangers associated with their jobs.

I told them I'm looking to give as much money as I'm able to give to victims of police to pay for their medical bills and fund their legal costs to sue police departments and take legal action against individual cops who break the law by traumatizing citizens.

This guy chose to point out to me that I should appreciate it that the police make sacrifices to keep me and my family safe and would I consider even making a $15 donation.

I told him because he asked again I would double my donation and fundraising effort to help the family of Christopher Harris, who still remains in a coma.

On a side note: Courts have ruled several times over the years that it is not a police officer's job to keep individuals safe but to restore general order. Police talk about protecting and serving when they want our accolades but they'll readily hide behind "restoring order" when they've hurt or killed an innocent citizen.

Monday, June 01, 2009

I own GM!

Now that I own GM I’m going to bring back Pontiac and get rid of Saturn.  I’m going to make cool cars like the Trans Am from those old 70’s movies. 

As for Suzuki…bye bye…no more GM/Daewoo vehicles…I have nothing against Korean cars (I own two) but no one should buy a Daewoo at GM prices. 

I’m going to be so busy with my new car company that I know my summer is going to be booked. 

Drop off your suggestions in the comments about how we should steer our new car company.

Beating a Dead Horse

This video involves a high speed chase where the suspect is likely guilty…The suspect leaves his vehicle and fails to scale a fence to get away…realizing he is trapped he gives himself up to police (in a fashion that leaves me thinking he’s done this before) and then the brave police officer approaches the man who has given himself up and kicks him in the head while another officer comes along and beats him with a PR-24 baton. (Watch from 6:00 mark on for the money shot) This is for you Mr. Anonymous.

Is the piece of crap suspect deserving of arrest and the full force of the law against him if he’s found guilty? You bet! Is anything that these two officers did after he gave himself up peacefully lawful? I doubt it. They should see some jail time as well.

Don’t worry, I’m not turning this blog into an anti-statist, hate police blog…there are already those out there and they do a better job than I could. I just wanted Mr. Anonymous from the last post to realize that I could (if I wanted to) backup my claim that I could post a different video or news story of police brutality about everyday.