RJ's Corner

Let Me See If I Got This Right?

2016-01-06_08-13-16.pngLaVoy Finicum says the Feds won’t take him alive

One of the armed protesters occupying a federal wildlife refuge in rural Oregon said he would rather die defending the building than be arrested by the FBI.

Source: Oregon Occupier Warns FBI He’d Take Death Over Jail | TIME

I guess that not all the nuts in the country are running for president. Some of them are waving the flag and the constitution in the name of getting “free” stuff and saying they will die rather than pay for it.

Ok, maybe that is a little harsh, lets look at it a little more.  The major conflict of these guys known as the “Oregon Occupiers” is grazing rights. They all have ranches/farms  close to federal land and think they should be able to use that land for their own purposes. They get upset when the federal government says they have to pay rent on it via grazing fees.

How much is the rent? -I’m not sure if I got all this straight but it appears that people using government land to feed their cattle pay about $1.50 per cow a month. That comes to about $18 a year. If the rancher is not fortunate enough to be close to federal land he would have to pay  about $1/day. That’s about 20 times more than grazing fees.

How is this rent money used? – About half of it goes to the States to compensate them for not being able to get property taxes from that land. The other half goes to the costs of managing the land and to preserve additional land for public ownership.

All this doesn’t seem very evil to me and it certainly is not worth dying for. It doesn’t sound like it is the big bad feds putting it to the little guy. To me it kind of sounds like these guys are getting a deep discount for their cattle business but they want it free instead! I’m sure the vast majority, if not all, of these guys are ultra-conservatives who rail against all those free-loaders who are living off welfare checks but are they really any different in wanting free stuff?

As of this writing, and I hope into the future, the FBI and other law enforcement branches are choosing to just ignore these nuts who are ranting in the northern wilderness about their constitutional rights but actual history shows they are on the wrong side of this issue. I suspect they will prosecute some of them for the laws they are breaking, especially when they do so at the point of a gun. But that will come later.

As soon as the press leave I suspect even the guy who claims he will fight to the death for free stuff will leave. Let’s end this post with another group of armed insurrectionist occupying federal buildings..

2016-01-07_11-25-06.png

 

As If We Didn’t Have Enough To Fear…

2015-12-13_09-45-20.png

If strong enough, the storm of electrons and other charged particles from an EMP could disrupt the Earth’s magnetic field, disable satellites and the internet, ground all commercial aviation, silence telecommunications, and fry much of the electrical grid — catapulting our society back to the 19th century for months or years.

Peter Pry, executive director of the federal EMP Task Force on National and Homeland Security, told Congress this year that a major EMP could cause widespread “starvation, disease, and societal collapse” that could lead to the deaths of tens of millions of people. The Obama administration recently released a multiagency battle plan to study and defend against what many scientists consider the most likely source of EMPs: solar storms, which Bill Murtagh of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy calls “a real and present danger.”

SOURCE:  The deadly threat of a solar superstorm.

Having training in electrical engineering I have known about EMPs for quite some time and their possible impact on the world. According to this article the last solar super-storm with a massive EMP occurred in 1859 long before we had microchips.

I guess we need to add this one to our overgrowing list of fears for today.

Being The Adult….

McConnell said that this year, Democrats objected to spending bills drafted under existing tight budget caps — known as sequestration — because they want more spending for domestic programs. Republicans are seeking more defense spending than the current caps allow….

White House spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters Tuesday  “I would expect that in the weeks ahead we’ll have more of a discussion about how Democrats and Republicans in Congress can work together to make sure that we adequately fund both our national security and economic priorities, while of course taking the necessary steps to prevent a government shutdown in an unnecessary injection of volatility into the national economy.”

Source: Congress gears up for major budget talks with White House

I’m going to put on my fiscal conservative hat here.  I don’t like to wear the “C” cap very often but  it is necessary. Fiscal conservatism used to be the job of the GOP but since they are now in the “anti-” mode someone has to be the adult and talk about our spending.   It seems that both parties want to pile on more spending year over year. One for the safety net for our citizens and one for  expanding an already over bloated war machine so that we can get even more involved in all the conflicts around the world.

Instead of constantly increasing our spending someone needs to look at what we spend our current budgets on and eliminate those items that are no longer useful.  Some one needs to be the adult here.  Let’s start with the military.  We spend more on our war machine than the rest of the world combined and we are only 5% of the world’s population.  I say ENOUGH IS ENOUGH. You hear almost every day about the next “$1000 toilet seat”. I’m sure there is at least 25% of that budget that no longer serves any purpose. Why can’t we root that out and get rid of it instead of just piling on more money? One of the answers is that if someone tries to cut military cost someone else will scream “you are making our soldiers less safe!!” But someone has to be the adult and do it anyway as the vast majority that wasteful spending it has nothing to do with the safety of our soldiers.

One the domestic side I personally have seen several people who are on disability payments who when no one is watching work just as hard as the rest of us. It is just too easy to get a government payment. I know I sound like a card carrying member of the GOP here. But, I am not saying that most, or even many, are in that mode but there are sufficient numbers who do game the system that if we took a closer look could substantially reduce our safety net costs.  I”m sure there are  many other examples of where we could reign in spending if we just put our mind to it.

I have been on a fixed budget for over 15 years now. Yes, some things change for instance the ever increasing cost of healthcare. Medicare pays for 80% of my medical costs for about $100 a month and that hasn’t changed dramatically but to cover the other 20% has increased from about $100 to over $250 and for my wife over $350.  In order to pay those bills we have had to cut back other places. Why can’t the government do the same?

Goodbye ATT/Yahoo News…

I’m not paranoid so I don’t think they are targeting me personally but I am once again very annoyed by my news feed of choice for the last year or so.Thumbnail

Let me give you a little background before I wade into this topic. I have discovered that I am without any doubt a morning person. I just don’t seem to be able to conjure up anything in a creative nature after lunch. For that reason a part of my usual morning routine is to browse the news from  the past day. I do this so that I stay informed with what is happening and also so I can create some ideas on what I want to blog about in the coming week. I have some special news sites such as  Time, The Week, and PBS Newshour that I read by but I depend on broader news feeds for most of what is happening.

That newsfeed for the past year or so has been Yahoo News but over the past months it is just too annoying to read any more.  Maybe because I am deaf I may be more sensitive than others for distractions in my peripheral vision. It seems that whenever there is a self-starting video anywhere on the list of news articles on my screen I can’t concentrate on what I am trying to read.  These self-starting videos have become to common on Yahoo News that I looked elsewhere for my morning reads.

I spent an hour or so trying to find if my current browser, or any browser for that matter, had the capability of stopping the annoyance but was unable to come up with anything. Months ago I shut down Adobe Flash as it is reported to be the source for many of the malware that prowls the Internet but it also created these self-starting annoyances. Shutting down Flash stopped the videos to some extent but not it seems they come from somewhere else.  Since there seem to be no viable way to stop this I looked elsewhere.

I am now over to Google News and have yet to come across this problem.  It is nice to be able to concentrate on what I am reading again. Google news provides you with a list of areas that you want to see. That is kind of nice but it may be preventing me from seeing something that I don’t have on the list but need to.

Anyway goodbye Yahoo news and hello every morning to my new friend Google News.

Low Info Voter…

2015-08-16_09-14-05

I pulled this picture off of one of the many articles about how Donald Trump is number one in the polls for the GOP candidate.  But Donald Trump is not the topic of this post. Instead it is about a phrase that David Brooks has used a few times on the PBS Newshour. He calls many if not most of the Trump supporters “low information voters”. I thought that was a very descriptive and I imagine an accurate term.

QE BannerJust who  might be described as a Low-Info voter?

I don’t know why but I picked this guy above as be typical of that category. I did a little playing with the photo in order to give him emphasis.  Now don’t get me wrong, I have no idea who this person is but I am choosing to make him the poster child for that category.

Low info voters are:

  • guys (for the most part) that don’t like paying any form of taxes
  • angry at most everything in and about their lives
  • haven’t picked up a book or newspaper in ages
  • listens to Fox News as his primary, and probably only, source of information
  • has a low self-esteem and even lower view of most people
  • is just pissed off at most things in the world

I don’t know, maybe I have it all wrong here but since this is my blog I can say whatever I want.  The trouble with this whole concept is that I am afraid that the legions of low-info voters is growing by leaps and bounds. Politics has become so nasty lately that only the strongest among us, of which I am not one, tries to stay informed about all the candidates.

I’m afraid that the saying that we only have choices between bad and worse in our election process these days is becoming true. No one of a noble mind and heart dares to get into that arena now days. No one seems to have the stomach for it.  If we believe the pundits come next year we will have either another Bush or another Clinton in the White House!  Why can’t we get some who we really think can do the job to even put his/her name on a ballot??

Question everything….

Something For Nothing…

2015-08-12_18-19-20But since Piotrowski describes property taxes as “unethical, unchristian-like” and a form of “financial slavery,” he decided to make a statement.

“Since I’m being forced to pay for something against my own will, I’m paying in pennies,” he told The Philadelphia Inquirer.

SOURCE: This man collected 50,000 pennies to make a statement about paying his property taxes – Yahoo Finance.

QE BannerI don’t know about you but these sort of stories get on my nerves but kind of like a train wreck I just can’t seem to look away. This guy claims paying taxes is “unethical, unchristian-like and a form of financial slavery”. Oh come on…. Paying taxes is a very necessary part of living in a democracy. Who does this guy think builds our bridges, maintains our police and fireman forces, and a myriad of other services we come to expect? Those things don’t come free and I’m sure this guy’s eyes glaze over when someone tries to explain that to him.

Its bad enough that he is ignorant enough to think paying his share of taxes is unethical and financial slavery but he had to add his religious leanings too. Yeah I know there are a lot of conservative, especially evangelical, Christians out there that don’t want to be forced to pay for things like helping the needy, infirm, or mentally challenged. Jesus Christ made it very clear that we are to be our brother’s keeper and since  religious organization don’t remotely begin to meet that need we should happily support our government do so in our place. But again, I’m sure this guy’s eyes also glaze over when that is explained to him.

I kind of put this guy in the same league of all those millionaires who have off-shore accounts to hide their money so they don’t have to pay their share of taxes. Both are shameful.  Before you say I am painting with too broad a brush here I will say that fortunately this guy does not represent the majority, or even a slight minority of Christians  with this behavior the same as that rich guy doesn’t represent everyone who has more money than they know what to do with… I kind of hope this yahoo got a hernia from lifting his 50,000 pennies :)

My Take On The World

QE BannerFirst off I hope you are enjoying the new and expanded view from RJ’s Corner. Its kind of more a neighborhood now than just a corner but that’s the way it is.  Its fun to be able to put all my posts in one place. Let me know how you like the new format and anything that would make it better. I have been doing some serious maintenance on the site for the last week or so and that is why recent postings have dropped.  I hope to finish that up this weekend and will then start posting on a more regular basis.

2015-08-07_08-41-01There is so much to talk about recently that it is hard to decide what to tackle. The Republicans just had their A-team and B-team debates and of course Donald was the star of the show. I guess it is totally appropriate that Fox News which is the epitome of conservative fringes hosted the debate and I’m sure that many of their loyal viewers, even though it went on beyond their bed times, tuned in.  As for the rest of us… well let’s just say we have other higher quality comedies to spend our time with. It looks more like a three ring circus than anything serious.  I will wait until the “ready for prime time” players have been decided before I even think of watching all those yahoos..

Ok, lets move on to some more serious stuff. Of course the latest is about the Middle East and our dealings with Iran. Was the deal that was worked up with them worth anything? I don’t know but it is better than charging into another trillion dollar war that too many of our young people would die in.  Does anyone really believe that the Iranians will drop a nuclear bomb on Israel? I’m sure even they can see that would be a suicidal thing to do. Yeah, they might be able to make a couple of bombs but just look around the neighborhood and you will find hundreds of them in close by countries.  Drop one and be assured that ten times that many are used on you. Does that make any sense even for the whacko clerics that run that country??

2015-08-02_13-21-01But looking at the bigger picture, I still can’t figure out why we are so fixated on that part of the world? We now have all that shale oil to process so doing without Middle East oil would not be a terribly burdensome thing. ISIS is a threat but what if we just let them have their own theocracy as they want.  As long as they only played with themselves and promised not to bother us, would that be a bad thing?  After all isn’t Israel a Jewish Theocracy and the world hasn’t ended  in the last sixty years because of that one. I got a radical solution to all these constant issues over there, just get out as my hero Will Rogers would say…

I know that Jon Stewart just retired so maybe I am trying in some minute way to fill the void here… :)

Prosperity and Taxes…My Recollections

QE BannerI know all you young folks out there who might accidentally come across my blog know very little about the history of prosperity but most of the older folks have recollections of more prosperous times.  I can remember the 1950s where everything seemed to be going well  for many of us. We couldn’t build enough houses or cars to meet our needs.  Instead of our returning vets coming home to unemployment, jobs were being created at a vigorous rate.

The 1960s was my decade for growth. Even though I was raised in the single parent household and my father was a milkman I managed to get accepted by a great State college and worked my way to a bachelor’s degree paying all the expenses by working in a dormitory cafeteria up to 40 hours a week. It was a struggling time but probably the happiest of my life. I made such good friends during those years before I became deaf.

In the 1970s things started to change. Good middle class jobs for those without a formal education beyond high school were starting to disappear.The Oil Embargo put a hamper on things and inflation was roaring along. Things were starting to change by the end of that decade and then came the 1980s.

The 1980s seemed to be a pivotal decade. It is the time when we elected a very conservative president who believed that government was the main problem in our society. It was a time when the elite among us began to get inordinate influence in our society. It was a time that the social conservative that seemed the dwarf the emphatic among us. It was a time when the rich started getting much richer.  It was also a time when the MBA college degree started taking root. The MBA degree taught that people where no longer to be considered valuable members of a company but instead liabilities that needed to be trimmed as much as possible.  At that point the middle class shrinking came fully into force.

The 1990s, or the Clinton years as I knew them, brought back prosperity at least the a degree and to a limited segment of society. These were my most productive years from a financial standpoint. My retirement funds and 401k’s grew at a rapid pace. The growth of the stock market rivaled that of the 1930s. A new thing called the Internet was taking hold of everyone including corporate America. I took advantage of the trend by re-purposing myself into an IT guy (information technology). I was suddenly in demand for my skills. but toward the end of the decade panic started. Luckily I got pretty much out of the stock market before the crash.

The 2000s were a very pivotal and dramatic decade that saw  the stock bubble burst and then years of a stagnant economy. When Mr. Bush came into the Oval Office the DOW Industrial averages were at 11,000, When he left eight years later it was at 8,000 and due to too much deregulation much of the banks were on the verge of bankruptcy along with a couple of our biggest corporations.

The 2010s finally ushered out the president who started two wars and huge increase in military spending. The new president managed to get us out of these two catastrophic emergencies and as a result in six years the DOW averages went from 8,000 to 18,000.

2015-04-15_07-48-38

So, studying the above graphs let’s recap all this. When the super rich were being taxed at up to 90% of their income we had prosperity. Then when that was reduced to about 30% things started falling apart. I think you should get the idea  that giving big tax breaks to the super rich is not a way to get us once again to prosperity.

I am way over my word limit here so I have to stop.

About Our Defense Budgets… An Historic Perspective..

2015-03-25_14-59-11Total U.S. defense spending (in inflation-adjusted dollars) has increased so much over the past decade that it has reached levels not seen since World War II, when the United States had 12 million people under arms and waged wars on three continents. Moreover, the U.S. share of global military expenditures has jumped from about one-third to about one-half in this same period. Some of this growth can be attributed to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, but the baseline or regular defense budget has also increased significantly. It has grown in real terms for an unprecedented 13 straight years, and it is now $100 billion above what the nation spent on average during the Cold War. The fiscal year 2012 budget request of $553 billion is approximately the same level as Ronald Reagan’s FY 1986 budget. As a result of this “gusher” of defense spending—to quote former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates—Pentagon leaders have not been forced to make the hard choices between competing programs as they traditionally have. And the ballooning defense budget played a significant role in turning the budget surplus projected a decade ago into a massive deficit that forces the U.S. government to borrow 43 cents of every dollar it spends. As the nation attempts to bring this massive deficit—which chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Michael Mullen calls the greatest threat to our security—under control, leaders from both parties recognize that these unprecedented levels of defense expenditures cannot be maintained. The question currently facing Congress and President Barack Obama—how much to spend on defense in times of large deficits or in the final years of a war—is not new. Presidents Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton had to identify reasonable levels of defense expenditures as the United States transitioned from war spending to peacetime budgets, while President Ronald Reagan needed to control defense spending in the face of rising deficits. Presidents Dwight Eisenhower and George H.W. Bush confronted both scenarios at once, like President Obama today.

SOURCE: A Historical Perspective on Defense Budgets | Center for American Progress.

In looking at the chart above it is obvious that two American presidents are primarily responsible for most of our outrageous military spending. I don’t think I have to tell you which ones those are. Sadly, for the most part those increases in spending were matters of choice. Yes, the Iron Curtain was up for one president but it had been up long before he came into office.  Yes, a rag-tag bunch of fanatics managed to kill three thousand of our citizens with some box cutters but in the world scheme of things  more people than that have died daily in the world from lack of food and drinking water. If we had just gone after the rogues instead of invading nations that had nothing to do with the tragedy our military expenses would never have risen to such mammoth levels.

Can we continue to spend such levels in these times of rising deficits? Aren’t the deficits causing us more harm than the enemies we are supposedly facing. Fear just seem to be the primary driver of our nation today. We have long forgotten one of our most meaningful American quotes “All we have to fear is fear itself”. We need to just get over this paranoid fear that has come to grip us so  forcefully…

Clinton-Bush Fatique

2015-03-10_08-45-45Have you ever felt as if a mysterious black cloud of despair was rising from the great depths of the universe? That it was cresting over the horizons of your life, blotting out all sunlight as it closes in and paralyzes you in fear? And maybe you felt that this slow-motion tsunami of dread was a deserved punishment for you personally, and humanity in general. And you realized, as I have, that this unstoppable, groaning wave was a natural outgrowth of your own moral torpor — the listlessness you had demonstrated over and over again, allowing injustices, petty cruelties, and incompetence to extend their reign over everything you loved, until finally it crashed on you, plunging you into a darkness beyond the reach of light, hope, and redemption…. The inevitable Bush-Clinton presidential campaign is gathering itself along the horizon. It will be a boring, substance-less grind that turns on just which candidate’s operation can direct slightly more of the public’s disgust over the worst parts of the last two decades at the other candidate.

SOURCE:  Why a Clinton-Bush presidential race fills me with nothing but despair.

I remember a time, way back thirty years ago before President Reagan when there was not Clinton or Bush on the national scene. But for the last almost twenty years those two families seem to have dominated the news and as a result I have severe Clinton-Bush Fatigue. I am simply totally exhausted with all the vitriol ranting that has taken place in our country since these two families have been battling for the supreme Monarchy of the USA.  About two-hundred and fifty years ago we went to war to rid ourselves of a monarch and as far as I am concerned I don’t want to return to that state.

There is so much baggage surrounding these names that if they are nominated by the parties it will surely be the most dirty mud-slinging presidential election in our history. To me it would come down to which would cause the least harm to our country and right now that is probably a close call. Our country needs to get away from all this hatred surrounding us lately and Bush and Clinton are the source for much of it.  Surely the two parties can at least give us voters an alternative to these two but given that money pretty much controls all of our political processes now who becomes the candidates will probably be a done deal before we have our say.

Sadly because we have made running for public office such a rancid experience I’m not sure that any really qualified candidate can make it anymore or even want to make it for that matter. We are just stuck with the ones we get (sigh)… I hope not…

2015-03-10_08-53-13   2015-03-10_13-12-34

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 71 other followers

%d bloggers like this: