About Representative Bachmann……

I see from the pundits reports of the first Republican Presidential debate that the House member from Minnesota is considered one of the front runners in the coming election. It looks like she has stole Ms. Palin’s thunder. Maybe they will run together for the White House. Wouldn’t that be something to watch! ūüėČ

In a previous post I mentioned that the Republican Party is founded on four things: God, Guns, Guts, and Country. Here is a picture of Rep. Bachmann proudly combined all of those things. Her office door is plastered with a shooting rage target with many holes through the pictured torso. She holds an American flag containing a gun permit. And of course she is wearing a denim jacket to show the world that she is a “Sarah Palin” rouge. Some one on her staff probably spent weeks coming up with all the ideas for this picture.

The only thing missing from the picture is the God part. I heard the illustrious congresswoman is a graduate of Oral Roberts University so she’s got that one covered too. If any of you don’t know who ¬†Oral Roberts was here is my version of him. He was a popular tele-evangelist¬†in his day. When his television empire was imploding, like they all seem to do, he was forced to sell quite a bit of his properties including his Beverly Hills estate and his Palm Spring home along with several of his Mercedes cars. The poor guy only ended up with six houses to live in. I don’t know how he managed. I’m getting off track here….

So it is clear that Michelle, if I can call her by her first name, ¬†is properly aligned with ¬†the Tea Party wing of her party. But what I don’t see about her is that she really cares much about us simple folks. If she ever hopes to get my vote she needs to let the caring side of ¬†her religious upbringing come through. ¬†At some point she will have to get away from all that complaining and actually do something. ¬† But that would be pretty unusual for any politician now days.¬†When I look at this picture my hero a Will Rogers quotes comes to mind.

“Common sense is not an issue in politics, it’s an affliction”

It doesn’t look like the congresswoman has any afflictions in that area.

But what do I know….

The Rites of Retirement….

One of the rites of retirement is being able to take a vacation pretty much whenever you want.  Well, my wife and I want! We will soon be heading out for our Canada and New England trip. This one could take up to a month of our time. That is another privilege of retirement, we can take as long as needed.  We have a house sitter who will take care of our animals and such as long as we are gone.

We plan on going into Canada¬†via¬†Wisconsin and then traveling the interior to¬†Ottawa. Then up the St. Lawrence seaway to Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island. Coming back we will go through New England to NYC for a visit to Ground Zero and then westward toward home. This is going to be one of our freestyle vacations in that we don’t have a day-to-day itinerary planned. My wife loves it that way; me not so much. So I have been sneaking in some plans for some of the major cities such as Ottawa, Montreal, Quebec, and Charlestown.

On our last major trip in 2009 I pretty much blogged everyday. I can’t make that promise this time as I just don’t know when we will have internet connections and even if I want to take the time to do it. ¬†But I am an avid journal writer so it’s not much of an additional chore. I still refer to the blog entries (found here under “In The Slow Lane/On the Road” to remember our daily adventures on that one.

I took two years of french in high school but that was almost 50 years ago so I don’t think that will do me much good in Quebec. I know they are a pompous bunch in that city so even though they might know English they often stubbornly refuse to speak it there ūüôā .

So if you don’t see as many of my posts as usual you will know why. We think we are safe from winter storms being we are going in July but you never know. ¬†Yvonne, who packs for everything will probably put some blankets and such in our trusty HHR for this trip.

And the journey goes on….

It's Done

It’s Done… (but it’s never really done)

I finally completed the merging of five of my six blogs to this site! I hope you like what you find here. Don’t forget to bookmark this new blog and remove any of my old ones (I will not be closing them but they will no longer be updated). ¬†This will make my life a little simpler and make it easier for you to see all of what I have to offer in the blog world. I have also purchased one of the premium themes (Tapestry) to make your browsing a little more pleasurable. If you have any comments let me know. I welcome your input.

As the title says this work is done but it really never is done (at least for me). Being a retired IT guy I am always¬†tweaking¬†things to try to make them better.¬†Tweaking¬†and planning are just part of my ingrained nature ūüôā

I’m Getting Too Serious For My Own Good….

The Democrats take the whole thing as a joke. Republicans take it serious, but run it like it was a joke ¬† — Will Rogers

Some of my posts lately have just been too serious for my own good. I can feel my blood pressure rise as I am writing them. One of the main reasons for this blog is to have fun writing about things about things that deserve being poked. I thoroughly enjoy putting words to paper (or electronic ink in this case). But I just have to step back from some of the topics I choose to pursue.

But I need to take some lessons from my hero Will Rogers (that is his caricature to the right). One of Will’s most famous quotes was¬†I never met a fellow I didn’t like.¬†I need to keep that quote in mind with every post I put here.Will never dissed those he wrote about or he never took himself too seriously. I need to learn those lessons.

If I can’t poke some friendly jabs at the topic then I will move on to other subjects. Life is too short to get all upset about things happening around us. ¬†Particularly for us in our senior years. Let’s face it, beside for privatizing Social Security and Medicare most other topics will not be settled until after most of us seniors have already “met our maker”.

But all this talk doesn’t mean that I will quit poking fun at all my Republican friends. There is just too much material there to pass up. But I don’t intend to take them very seriously in anything they say anymore. None of them should either. ¬†The whole lot of them need to step back once in a while and laugh a little. It just seems that politics and humor go hand in hand. Always has and always will. ¬†A good portion of Will Rogers posts in the many newspapers of the time was about politics since I am trying to emulate him here I will likely do the same.

One other thing I am going to try to do is to always finish up a post with a quote from Will. Sometimes they will be related to the my post and sometimes not. I’m too lazy to always find a corresponding quote for the topic at hand. ¬†So here I come with my new improved “All I Know” postings. As part of this new, less serious, line I will also be moving this blog in with my others at RJ’s Corner. This will be the last post on this site so come on over to my corner of the blog world to see more about what I know.

But what do I know…..

Workers as Liabilities….

In the old days, I’m talking about pre-Reagan, a company’s workers were considered an asset but it seems like today they have turned into a liability. ¬†I read an article recently (I don’t remember the source right now so I can’t give it to you here ūüėČ ) that basically said that many companies can’t find adequately trained people to fill their jobs and won’t hire someone and then train them for that job. It seems they would rather complain about not having skilled workers than actually training someone to do the job.

I can almost remember when I was turned from an asset to a liability by the “major communications company” I worked thirty years for. Indeed it was in the early 1980’s. This was about the time that telecommunications was being deregulated by Mr. Reagan’s clan so I thought the change was a result of that action but looking back on it now it was a broader thing than just the deregulation. ¬†It was happening across U.S. industry.

What caused this to happen? Part of it was of course the Reagan White House. The guys he had around him never met a regulation that they thought was really needed or a company CEO they didn’t love and respect. We were all told that we should leave our future totally up to the benevolence of the corporate structures. They knew what was best for us and that was all we needed to know. Another part of this change was caused by the newly invented MBA degrees. That is “Masters of Business Administration”. All of the¬†professors¬†teaching at these schools had suddenly declared that “Greed is good” and that workers are liabilities.

With all these things coming to a head at the same time I was now treated like a cost that my company would rather do without but couldn’t figure out how to totally do that. ¬†Of course, I watched over the years as my wages became¬†stagnant, my benefits constantly shrink and my workmates constantly¬†disappearing¬†for one reason or another. Every time someone came up missing I was told I had to do “more with less”. ¬†Every time another benefit was taken away I was told it was to give me more “choices”. Those words became the mantra for the next 15 years until I was ¬†finally downsized and retired.

Will this type thing ever swing back to where the workers are treated with respect and given their fair share of the company profits? ¬†We can only dream of that day but I kind of doubt! Now instead of deregulation, Reagan, and the MBAs they blame it on globalization. It’s all the same thing; the company want to squeeze blood from you their turnips. As long as we let them nothing is going to change. ¬†Where is Norma Ray when we need her??

But what do I know….

Where To Live in My Senior Years…

A couple of posts ago I talked about how I chose to spend my fixed income in my senior years. One thing that has a huge effect on how I would spend my money was where I was going to live. When we chose to come back to Indiana for our final years this had a huge effect on our finances. Compared to California and many places within fifty mile of an ocean the hinterland is very affordable in deed. The house we have now is a renovated 1925 farm house that has been expanded to more than 2400 square feet. It sits on almost 2.5 acres of forested landscape. If we were to find a similar place in a higher expense area this house would easily cost four times more than what we paid for it. No we can’t drive to the ocean from here but when we did live so close to the Atlantic we seldom went there more than four or so times a year. I could easily spend the saved money going to a¬†luxury¬†hotel along the coast that many times a year and still have mucho left.

Sometimes I wish I could get away from the winters in the Midwest but my wife loves them so we will stay where we are. ¬†But really I do appreciate the change of seasons; they change my daily schedules. I do more writing and reading in the cold months and more lawn care in the hotter months. This keeps boredom at bay, at least for me. ūüôā One nice thing about being a retired senior in the winter months is that we can choose not to have to get out when the weather is bad.

What we choose to do with the extra thousands  and thousands of dollars is up to us. We have no heirs to leave our estate to even if we did wish to do that. So instead of locking our assets up into an overly expensive house due to where it is located we keep them more liquid to have fun in life.

House Hunters??

I must admit that during my semi-required down time each day I am a sucker for the TV show entitled House Hunters on HGTV. I’m also not one to shy away from technology so I have a digital video recorder (DVR to those of us who are tech¬†savvy). So, I have House Hunters episodes just about any time I want to see them.

The basic structure of each episode is as follows.

  • For one reason or another a family (loosely defined) wants to get a new house
  • We get a brief look at their backgrounds, occupations, etc.
  • They look at¬†three places
  • They decide which of those three they will buy
  • After a given time, usually between 1 -4 months the show checks up on how they like their new house.

Every show pretty much follows the above scenario. One of the reasons my wife and I like to watch is that we have an ongoing competition as to who will guess the house they choose. We often wish that somehow the show could be interactive in that we could ask some questions and maybe give them some of our senior wisdom.  Here are some of the observations that are made for almost all of the episodes

  • Where do all those young folks get all the money to buy such big houses? I personally had to save for almost ten years before I had the required down payment.
  • I thought this housing bubble thing taught us a lesson so I am confused as to how so many of them can buy houses with zero percent down? Isn’t this a big part of the reason for the current housing crisis? ¬†Why are banks still allowing “no money down” purchases?
  • Someone needs to point out to all these young people that their grandparents and maybe even their parents raised three or four kids in a house of around 1200 square feet. Almost everyone on the show seems to think you need a minimum of a 3,000 square foot home if you have one child. Maybe it is because we start our kids out learning the “stuff” syndrome as such an early age that they have so many toys that have to be stored away. ūüôā
  • Since the twenty-some years olds, who seem to be the most frequent searchers on the show insist on having the big¬†luxurious¬†house what right off the bat what will they aspire to in later years? In thinking about this I guess there are enough things out there to really not make this a problem. How about a couple of $60k cars every couple of years?

It just seems like these kid’s parents just didn’t get any family history lessons across to them about how previous generations lived. Like I said before my wife and I make a game out of guessing which house they will choose. But, it usually ends up that she picks one house and I pick another and then the people on the show pick the one we didn’t. I guess we just are not attuned to the current generation of home buyers. ¬†ūüôā

And the journey goes on.

Those Who Don't Know History Are….

Being a history nut I like the old saying “those who don’t know history are doomed to repeat it”. The premise behind this statement is that we should know what got us into past problems so we don’t end up making the same mistakes again. ¬†I think this is especially true when it come to our country’s debt problems. So, that is what this post will be about.

First, let’s look at a graph showing the history of our debt. It is shown above. We were going along with only¬†somewhat¬†marginal increases in debt until the early 1990’s at that time President Bush (papa bush that is) raised taxes on some of us. Doing that caused him to fall out of favor with the¬†stalwarts¬†of his own party and therefore made him a one-term¬†president. ¬†But it did slow the increase of debt. Then came President Clinton who tweaked the tax code in order to make them fairer. As a result of his actions the federal budgets were balance for several years and some of the national debt was actually paid off.

Then came President Bush (baby bush that is). The first thing he did when he came into office was to give massive tax cuts to the upper 10% of the country. At the same time he took us to war on two fronts. That would not have been too harmful from a monetary standpoint but he chose to take the wars “off the books” which resulted in directly adding them to the national debt. During his years as president the national debt soared. He also did his best to eliminate as much regulations as he could find. As a result of that action Wall Street and the banking community became very creative in generating false profits. These actions came crashing down during the last year of his presidency.

So in come the dreamer President Obama who had to take over all these problems from a failed president. He like almost all of his predecessors had to increase government spending in order to try to stabilize a failing economy. Doing this and not being allowed to restore the tax codes to where they were during our budget surplus years cause the debt limit to continue to increase as they had during the 2001 to 2008 years.

I could have gone back even further to the 1980s when President Reagan invented “trickle down economics” some called it “voodoo economics” that went something like this. The way to decrease the debt is to cut taxes in order to increase taxes. Only the most conservative of us bought into this mentality. Most believe that this policy was the beginning of the runaway deficit problems.

Ok, so this is my history lesson for today. I’m sure my conservative friend would have a few revisions to my version but that is how I see it. What can we learn from history about how our debt got to the point where it is. ¬†In my mind there are two basic lessons here. One is that if you want to increase spending you have to have a good reason and can’t say the spending doesn’t count (off the books). ¬†One good reason would be to prevent a total collapse of our economy. The other is that you must levy taxes/income in proportion to the amount you need to spend. Some seem to think that like Mr. Reagan you can increase spending (primarily on our war machinery in his case) and decrease taxes at the same time and somehow our debt would not be affected. I’m a pretty simple guy but even this didn’t make any sense to my back then.

But what do I know….

Will Rogers Quote

I have been away from quotes by my hero Will Rogers for a while. I am bringing them back starting now.

There ain’t any finer folks living than a Republican that votes the Democratic ticket. –Will Rogers —

Internet RFD….(Chasing the Web)

A recent post about the post office got me to thinking about the Internet and how it is not available, at least at a reasonable speed, to those of us in more rural areas. I am the last person on our county road who is allowed to have a DSL connection from the phone company. And even my connection is spotty at best. My router deems it necessary to reset itself at least a dozen time a day. Even when it is working it frequently freezes. There are at least two hundred homes beyond me where even having the luxury of freezing DSL is not an option.

Being a U.S. history buff I am well aware of the time when electricity was not commonly available to rural customers. That was during the early to mid parts of the last century. The electric companies just didn’t see the profit in stringing power lines through such¬†sparsely¬†populated areas. It took Franklin Roosevelt and a depression to start supplying that 20% of the population with electrical power. This didn’t happen because of some benevolence of power holder but through required regulations set up by the government.

President Obama, as part of the economic stimulus plan passed last year gave several billion dollars to the telephone companies to assist them in supply internet access to the U.S. population. It’s intent was to provide lines to rural America similar to what was done for electricity seventy or so years ago. But it seems that a good proportion of that money was to enhance the internet bandwidth in areas such as Manhattan! ¬†It seems that they were responding to the outrage of the citizens in that area to having to wait for their movie downloads and such. ¬†So instead of providing the very basic Internet connection to those currently without they chose a different route.

So here we are on the county roads depending on a connection that is 100 times slower than our urban neighbors. It is widely recognized that the internet is the pathway for the 21st century and a good percentage of the population is being left out because of a profit motive. At the same time as this is happening I hear word that the Republicans in congress are thinking of deregulation the telephone industry. ¬†If that happens rural internet access will never be a reality. Do we really want yet another place where there are “Haves” and “Have Nots”?

Without access to information for all I am fearful for our democracy.

But what do I know……