All posts by adean

Obama Bankrupting America on ‘Stimulus’ Spending

Gordon BishopAmerica’s Marxist President Barack Hussein Obama is ready to destroy the USA’s capitalistic economic system by borrowing $9.3 trillion in deficits over the next decade — more than four times the deficits of Republican President George W. Bush.

This is the guy who promised voters and taxpayers that he would reduce taxes for 95 percent of the working class.

His meaningless campaign slogans — “Hope and Change” — are simply hollow words that mean nothing in the real world of language.

As I warned in many of my columns last year that Obama was a “Snake Oil” salesman who has a smooth, slick tongue when it comes to speaking on his always ready TV prompters.

This fraudulent President looks good, speaks clearly and has been pumped up as the new “Messiah” to save our nation’s corrupt political system.

You gotta be kidding!

Obama is a product of the most corrupt city in America — CHICAGO! There is nothing original or moral about what he is doing to turn the United States — already a Socialist State — into a Marxist Communist society.

Before Obama was elected President last November, the stock market was hovering around 12 to 13 thousand points. It dropped in half that amount in his first 100 days in office. It’s now around 6,500 to 7,000.

Millions of working class investors lost trilions of dollars in the aftermath of an economic blood bath. It was almost like the beginning of another Great Depression, like the one that Americans suffered thorugh in the 1930s. I know because I was born in 1938 and my parents told me all about the millions of people out of work and couldn’t find jobs. Who knows how many unemployed works had to sell apples for a nickle on the street corners to feed their families.

The unprecedented borrowing and spending Obama is dumping on our nation’s economy is called “unstainable” by his own budget director.

Is that what all of the ignorant fools who voted for Obama really expected?

Not in a million years!

Obama’s $3.6 trillion budget for the 2010 fiscall year beginning October 1, contains overly ambitious programs to overhaul the U.S. health care system and launch a new “cap-and-trade” rules to combat “global warming.”

“Global Warning” is former Vice President Al Gore”s “Junk Science” publicity stunt.

The majority of America’s professional meteorologists don’t buy into the “Global Warming” projections concocted by the liberal Democrat party’s Far Left propaganda machine: “The sky is falling!…The Sky is Falling!…”

The Left always envisions “doom” and “gloom” in their radical speculations — and the liberal media immediately support such unscientific blather.

I know that as a fact. I worked for 27 years at New Jersey’s largest newspaper, The Star-Ledger (from 1969 to 1996). Page 1 was always reserved for “sensational” stories, whether they were true or false. That’s the way the liberal media works — like it or not.

Bad news sells. Good news winds up on the inside pages

My job at The Star-Ledger (a Newhouse paper) was as a columnist and investigative reporter. They were the best years of my 50-year career in journalism. My first job was as a reporter/columnist of The Herald-News, once the largest daily paper in North Jersey.

Daily papers have become dinosaurs in the news media. By the time the papers are delivered to the homes, businesses and newsstands, the electronic media (TV, radio and the Internet) have posted their news when it happens.

We live in an “Immediate Now” world of over-saturation of information. Most normal folks can’t process that much information — and commercials, or ads. They’re burned out!

I’m closing this column with another Obama promise: His budget will cut the deficit to $553 billion in five years.

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) says the red ink for that year will total $672 billion.

That could easily turn out to be a multi-trillion-dollar budget if all of Obama’s socialist programs are signed into law.

God Bless America!

(Gordon Bishop is a ‘Who’s Who in the World’ award-winning journalist and New Jersey’s first “Journalist-of-the-Year” — 1986/New Jersey Press Association.)

Picture This – 3/26/09

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Identify the location and win

Picture This! We’ll show you a photo taken in Monmouth County. You tell us where it is located. If you have not won in the last 3 months and you know the answer, send your response to [email protected] This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it

Please include with your name and the town where you live. Be the first person to respond with the correct answer and we will publish your name and town.

Previous winner:

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Andrew Crawford of Atlantic Highlands, NJ was the first person to respond with the correct answer.

A.  All Saints Memorial Episcopal Church (The Stone Church) in Navesink.

Atlantic Highlands Business Leaders Brainstorm at Meeting

jack_archibald_120The downturn in the economy has touched everyone, from Wall Street to Main Street as well as First Avenue in Atlantic Highlands.  In an effort to improve the business climate, Atlantic Highlands Mayor Fred Rast held his first summit of business owners this past Monday evening at the Shore Casino. Like most Atlantic Highlands events, the participants were passionate, opinionated and respectful of each other.

In a room with over 100 interested business owners and landlords, that is no small accomplishment. The Mayor took the lead and organized a meeting to brainstorm and listen to the concerns of our business community.  Mayor Rast had an ambitious agenda which included presentations from companies that could possibly produce savings on energy costs, as well as a local banker that promised to sit down with any business in town.

While a few participants grumbled about the presentations, most of the action came in the brainstorming portion of the meeting.  Mayor Rast had local officials, including the borough administrator, the borough attorney and the planning board attorney on hand to answer those questions that he could not.  As a local business owner himself, the Mayor understands the small businessman and has a fairly good idea about what is helpful for Atlantic Highlands.

At the very beginning, the Mayor urged business owners to stay together and offered suggestions of his own that could help the business climate.  Among his suggestions was the creation of a master list of available rental space, so that landlords could suggest other venues in town if their facilities do not match the prospective business.   He also promised to look into weekend ferry service, to attract visitors from NYC to Atlantic Highlands.  The Mayor also committed to streamlining the inspection and approval process at borough hall, so that businesses do not suffer an undue delay during the start up period.

There were suggestions from the audience to improve our economy as well.  Some ideas appear to be very workable, including a visitor’s service at the harbor or the placement of a sign at the First Avenue jug handle to alert travelers to Atlantic Highlands. Some suggestions won’t fly for legal reasons, such as the moratorium on certain types of businesses along First Avenue.  Zoning issues don’t allow for such restrictions while others gladly welcome competition as a means of getting more people into town.

Throughout the evening, the Mayor reiterated the governing body’s commitment to making the borough business friendly. He mentioned several steps that the borough has taken to help the local business, and promised to keep the dialogue open.  He believes that the business community will rise together, so long as they stand firm with each other.   Everyone knows that this is a difficult economy, and Mayor Rast should be applauded for his efforts to bring everyone to the table.

US Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers – pt 2

Daniel VanceRecently, I featured in this column 39-year-old Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), who in 2007 gave birth to a son with Down syndrome. Now age two, Cole is an inquisitive and happy toddler making his presence felt.

McMorris Rodgers is in her third term, Vice Chair of the House Republican Conference, and one of the House’s highest-ranking Republicans. Having Cole has opened up new avenues for her to represent families affected by disability all over the nation.

“I want to tell Cole’s story,” she said in a telephone interview from her Capitol Hill office. “Cole has given me a whole new reason and passion for life right now in Congress.”

Last year, along with others, McMorris Rodgers helped launch the Congressional Down Syndrome Caucus, which claims 50 members. The other three founding members were Pete Sessions (R-TX), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), and Patrick Kennedy (D-RI). Sessions and Norton also have children with Down syndrome.

She said, “Cole has opened doors for me to work across the aisle and even in the Senate in ways I could never have done on my own. People are aware of Cole and they often ask me about him and are very supportive. I’ve become acquainted with members of Congress because of Cole.”

She has talked over the telephone with Gov. Sarah Palin, who also has a child with Down syndrome. In their conversation, Palin mentioned having seen McMorris Rodgers’ YouTube video that helped launch the Congressional Down Syndrome Caucus.

Overall, nonprofit groups representing people with Down syndrome haven’t been nearly as politically active as groups for people with other disabilities. Historically, Down syndrome groups have focused more on interpersonal support, she said.

“But I think it’s important the Down syndrome community get involved in the national debate over funding for research and educational opportunities,” she said. “A lot of the research with Down syndrome has been focused on prenatal diagnosis. But we believe there is potential for other research. Down syndrome is simply a duplicate No. 21 chromosome. The Alzheimer’s gene is also in the No. 21 chromosome. We believe if we were to study what is happening in that chromosome, the effort could also help adults with Alzheimer’s disease.”

Children with special needs often help families clarify life’s priorities, she added. She wants to do all she can to help Cole maximize his potential.

Contact: danieljvance.com. [Palmer Bus Service and All American Foods made this column possible.]

The Diplomatic Disciple

ImageIn the Gospel of St. John we have this introduction to the passage that is known as Peter’s Denial of Jesus – “Simon Peter and another disciple were following Jesus.  Because this disciple was known to the high priest, he went with Jesus into the high priest’s courtyard, but Peter had to wait outside at the door. The other disciple, who was known to the high priest, came back, spoke to the girl on duty there and brought Peter in.” (John 18:15-16)

In his gospel John has an interesting way of describing himself.  He does not want to say “I was there” when these things are happening.  His signature is ‘the other disciple’.  This is what I call the diplomatic identification because whenever other disciples are doing something, he refers to them by name.

At the Last Supper, we find this insertion, after Jesus reveals that one of the disciples will betray him. “His disciples stared at one another, at a loss to know which one of them he meant.  One of them, the disciple that Jesus loved, was reclining next to him.  Simon Peter motioned to this disciple and said ‘Ask him which one he means.’  Leaning back against Jesus, he asked, ‘Lord who is it?’ Jesus answered, ‘It is the one I will give this piece of bread when I have dipped it in the dish.’  Then dipping the piece of bread, he gave it to Judas Iscariot the son of Simon.” John 13:22-26) It is interesting that Peter and Judas are mentioned by name, but the other disciple is not.

The next event that we find this disciple is at the foot of the cross.  Again the text is clear. “Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his mother’s sister, Mary, the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, ‘Dear woman, here is your son!’ and to the disciple, ‘Here is your mother.’  From this time on, this disciple took her into his house.” (John 19:25-27)

John reappears in the next passage after the soldier has pierced the side of Jesus. “The man who saw it has given his testimony and his testimony is true.  He knows that he tells the truth, and he testifies so that you also may believe” (John 19:35)

In the Resurrection chapter of John’s Gospel, John refers to himself again as the disciple that Jesus loved (20:2) when he races to the empty tomb and runs faster than Peter.  However, when he gets to the tomb he does not look inside.  The empty tomb is first seen by Peter.  However, John started to create a belief gospel now when he writes: “Finally the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went inside.  He saw and believed.” (John 20:8)

In the 21st chapter which is the last chapter of the gospel, John inserts twice “the other disciple, the one that Jesus loved.”  In the first place, he is the one that recognizes that the man waiting on the shore is the Lord Jesus. In Peter’s reinstatement, he is trying to deal with the rumor that the loved disciple will not die until Jesus returns (21:7, 22-23). The penultimate verse of the gospel is, “This is the disciple who testifies to these things and who wrote them down.  We know that his testimony is true.”

We do not know exactly why John decided not to introduce himself.  Was this because of humility or because by the time of the writing of the gospel, the “we” of the penultimate verse was the entire church who accepted his testimony.  We also glean that he was well-connected with people in Jerusalem and for a Galilean fisherman to have entry into the high priest’s court it means that he had business dealings with people in the Jewish leadership.  Yet with all of these connections, he treasured his relationship with Jesus the most and he was known as the beloved disciple – the disciple that Jesus loved.

Those (Hated) AIG Bonuses – Let the Hangings Begin

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ImageFar be it from me to help Democrats while they are in the process of destroying themselves. Like many other conservatives, I have been enjoying the spectacle of Democrats frantically trying to flee from a mess of their own making – namely, the AIG bonus uproar.

Congressional Democrats who lent $150 billion of taxpayer-funds to insurance giant AIG – i.e., The American International Group – reacted with outrage (and looked a little foolish) when the company promptly awarded $165 million in bonuses to hundreds of managers and executives. AIG officials explained that legal contracts obligated payment of the bonuses. Recent disclosures also reveal that pressure to allow the bonuses came from the Obama administration. [1] Congressmen and senators had egg on their faces for not realizing they had passed a bank-rescue bill that contained provisions for the bonuses.

Even liberal Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-CA) – one of Mr. Obama’s staunchest allies -publicly suggested that perhaps the president wasn’t “up to speed” on the AIG bonus situation. (“Damned with faint praise,” in other words.) I am not the first observer to point out that if Mr. Obama knew about the bonuses, then his “surprised” act is a lie. If he really didn’t know, then he is uninformed and out of touch, and his close advisors and cabinet officers let him down.

Reacting to public indignation, senators and representatives have been in high dudgeon for the past week, denouncing AIG managers as “irresponsible,” “greedy,” and even “criminal.” Despite his apparent complicity in allowing the bonuses, President Obama has joined the chorus of those calling for awardees to return the money. “Why should people who ran the company into the ground be rewarded?” was a question heard frequently.

On March 19, the House of Representatives voted 328-93 to tax away most of the bonuses, after the fact. (Note to students: this is called a “bill of attainder” [2] – a kind of law specifically prohibited by the Constitution.)

Some Republicans have tried to reach the rarified levels of high dudgeon, but most have achieved only medium dudgeon, at best – probably because they saw no reason to let Democrats off the hook. The week has been bracing for pundits, commentators and reporters, too, with much head-shaking and faux-amazement among the fetching info-babes and guys who gab on cable TV. There were a few faint attempts to drag George W. Bush in, but the efforts died aborning. “How could AIG executives have been so dumb?” was a question I happened to hear in passing.

Well, yes, that is a question, but it’s not the only question. Although tempted to remain quiet while Democrats monster-mash each other in their mad pursuit of the “fools” who let AIG do this, I decided it would be unethical to keep mum on a matter I know something about. Perhaps this small journalistic effort will contribute a little knowledge – even among Democrats.

Few government employees have worked in a business environment where performance bonuses or commissions framed their compensation packages. Some schools have tried it, but setting objective performance standards – the foundation of a real bonus system – for teachers is hard. Education-bonuses often are simply spread around to all teachers, defeating their purpose.

The fraction of the work force in the employ of government – federal, state, county, local, military, teachers, etc. – was about 17% when I last saw any data. It might be 20% now, perhaps more. Younger private sector workers also tend to hold jobs where their compensation consists entirely of salary – unless they are salesmen. Thus, sizable numbers of American workers are unfamiliar with the bonus system used by many companies.

Competitive companies pay bonuses to their top executives, as well as to mid- and upper-level managers, for reaching defined objectives. Above a certain level, managers of many firms are responsible for building the business. Some companies have sales departments, but in others, responsibility for business-generation is spread across the management ranks.

I spent a long career in a technical company whose managers of at least 30 people were also business developers. Each manager’s annual bonus was pegged to the amount of business he had brought in that year and the profit it generated for the company. Bonus could be as much as 40% of annual compensation at lower management levels. For higher-level executives, the bonus-fraction of compensation was even larger. This was not “extra” compensation, but planned compensation made conditional on reaching performance goals. If a manager didn’t meet his goals, his bonus suffered – sometimes grievously.

“Attaboy” bonuses were also given to lower-level employees – usually subjectively. These were a nice surprise when given, and were not really missed when not given. But performance bonuses, being planned compensation, were a different matter. Top executives didn’t mess around with them, for fear of losing valuable generators of the company’s business.

I say all that by way of pointing out that we have not been given an accurate picture of the AIG bonuses. The public has been left with an impression that these were subjectively awarded “retention” bonuses. (Retaining valuable people by rewarding their good work is why any bonus is paid.) Reporters and government officials seem ignorant of the possibility that performance objectives might be involved in the AIG bonuses. If AIG managers who received bonuses met their annual objectives, they were contractually entitled to those parts of their compensation.

Even the company’s overall profitability or unprofitability might not affect bonus awards. In the company I worked for, bonuses were reserved in a fund distinct from the company’s annual profit. If the company had a bad year, bonuses were still protected because top management considered them critical to the company’s future success. Lower-tier managers got their bonuses if they had fairly met their objectives. Typically, only top-tier executive-compensation was directly linked to the company’s overall performance.

Did the bonus-system used by AIG resemble the one I have described? We don’t know. If so, hundreds of managers across a company of 116,000 employees might be eligible for performance bonuses, even if the company had a bad year. I doubt if Mr. Obama or very many Congressmen would insist that AIG employees should forego their salaries because AIG got federal “bailout” funds. But denying performance bonuses could amount to the same thing. We really have no idea, because “journalists” who ought to be digging into this are having too much fun joining the media/congressional feeding frenzy.

But aren’t bonus-recipients the same people who “ran the company into the ground?” Well…let’s think about that a little. First of all, what is an “insurance company?” Silly question. Everyone knows an insurance company collects premiums and uses them to pay benefits to people who bought surety against certain untoward events – e.g., accidents, storms, death, etc.

Do insurance companies have rooms (or bank accounts) full of money from the premiums people have paid? No, because if they did, they would eventually run short. If you’ve ever added up the premiums in a whole-life insurance policy, you’ll see that the total is nowhere near the promised death-benefit. I bought a $10,000 policy when I was 20. The premiums were originally $180 a year, but they gradually shrank to zero some time ago. I doubt if I have paid $5,000 in premiums over the policy’s life. Yet the benefit has increased to $13,000. How do they do that?

The non-secret answer is investment. The insurance company immediately invested my premiums – well enough that it could gradually eliminate them and raise the promised benefit. All this was done according to regulations. Insurance companies are really gigantic investment houses. They make their money by growing premiums into enough money to pay the promised benefits, plus a profit. “Actuarial” mathematics helps them estimate life expectancies and other risks accurately, so they can charge correct premiums.

The fly in the insurance ointment can be any of the following:

(1)   Unexpectedly high incidence of storms, accidents, deaths, etc.;

(2)   Poor actuarial calculations that set premiums improperly;

(3)   Staff incompetence, poor investing;

(4)   Unexpected behavior of financial markets;

(5)   Corrupted financial instruments.

Congress and the media have focused primarily on reason #3. Incompetence might have played a part in AIG’s difficulties, but there has to be more to it than that. Given the current market environment, #4 and #5 are probably primary reasons why AIG and other investment houses are teetering today. The financial paper of even solid businesses collapsed in the crash of 2008-‘09. Those companies might still be OK, but their stocks and bonds have tanked, eroding the market stability on which AIG’s investment managers based their decisions. The wealth of AIG and other investment firms evaporated. Much of this was not their doing. (As an investor myself, I know this is true.) We are all victims of the market’s 50% crash since late 2007: i.e., reason #4.

Theories abound on what caused the great crash of 2008, but the primary culprit is known: too many “non-performing” mortgages, which were then “bundled” into marketable securities whose internal rottenness was not suspected by investors like AIG. This is essentially reason #5.

Non-investors find it easy to hammer executives of companies like AIG for not seeing that there was a problem with these instruments. I managed to avoid these flawed securities, myself, but I’m not inclined to criticize any who got burned. Investors have a right to expect that the financial instruments they invest in are sound. Investing should not resemble a race where you don’t know if the horses have been drugged. We have government regulators who are supposed to assure that things are straight. Investors – even giants like AIG – can’t be expected to know that unseen government intervention has caused a structural weakness in certain securities. Had that intervention come from a private individual, he would be headed for jail. Yet government “regulators” who countenanced millions of “soft” mortgages that ultimately crashed the market are skating by with little notice. There’s something rotten, but it’s not in Denmark.

A well-known radio talk-show host says the uproar over the AIG bonuses is a “diversion,” which Democrats are exploiting in order to draw attention from the more important matters of the rotten mortgages and the riotous misapplication of “stimulus” funds. I concur with that assessment. I’m not the only person in the country who knows about performance-based bonuses, but I have seen very little substantive reporting about them. The lack of information suggests a deliberate effort to keep the public’s attention off the real issues. More facts are needed before we hang any more AIG executives or strong-arm them into returning their bonuses. I never made their kind of money, but I can recognize unfair persecution when I see it. I don’t like the smell of it.

Those of my fellow citizens who are seated at the guillotine, howling for the heads of AIG bonus-recipients, also need to reflect on the wisdom of granting Congress the power to punitively retro-tax legal compensation. Once the highly political Congress gets into that mode, where would it end? Your salary or bonus might be next. I urge readers to consider whether this is a good idea.

They came first for the Communists, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Communist; then they came for the trade unionists, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a trade unionist; then they came for the Jews, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Jew; and then . . . they came for me . . . And by that time there was no one left to speak up.” (Pastor Martin Niemöller)

*******

[1] “The Obama administration and one of its key allies in Congress belatedly acknowledged Wednesday [3/18/09] that they were responsible more than a month ago for clearing the way for large bonuses to be paid inside taxpayer-supported companies such as AIG…” (The Washington Times, 3/19/09)

[2] A bill of attainder (a.k.a. a writ of attainder) is a legislative act declaring a person or group of persons guilty of some crime and punishing them without benefit of a trial.

Hugs for Halie – Please Help

ImageEvery now and then, you hear something that tugs at your heart strings, brings a tear to your eye, makes you feel sad. And you want to help. But you don’t know how. “What can I do?” You wonder. More often than not, that fleeting thought is lost in the shuffle of everyday life, and you miss a chance to make a difference in someone’s life.

Consider the case of Halie Palmer of New Monmouth. Halie, a 6th grade student at Thorne Middle School, was recently diagnosed with medulloblastoma, a brain tumor that originates in the cerebellum. You can help Halie, even if you have never met her or her family. Here’s how.

Friends of Halie will be selling bracelets after mass at Mary Mother of God Church (formerly St. Mary’s Church) on Cherry Tree Farm Road. The cost of each bracelet is $3.00. If you are not a member of Mary Mother of God parish, and would like to purchase a bracelet, please email Lori Piscernurek at  [email protected] This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it <!– document.write( ‘</’ ); document.write( ‘span>’ ); //–> .

On March 27th, Thorne Middle School will raffle a wine gift basket. All proceeds will be given to the Palmer family to cover Halie’s health expenses. If you would like to contribute, or purchase a raffle ticket, please contact Theresa Bemko at [email protected].

Thorne Middle School is collecting clothing, shoes, toys, etc., Thirteen cents per pound will be donated to Hugs for Halie. All clothes collected will be given to needy families. The first drop-off date is scheduled for April 18th at Thorne Middle School. For further info and a list of acceptable items for donation, please contact Tracy @ [email protected]This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it <!– document.write( ‘</’ ); document.write( ‘span>’ ); //–> .

The Junction Deli is running a tab for the Palmer family. The family often stops in for food to take with them to New York City, where Halie is being treated. Why not donate to the Palmer’s fund? The family is also in need of Pathmark gift cards. Halie eats pudding and Gogurt yogurt. Her mother brings her some daily; a gift card would help the expense, and bring a smile to Halie’s face.

Additional fund-raising efforts, including an Elks Club spaghetti dinner, are planned to help defray medical expenses the Palmer family will incur over the next several months. If you would like to donate to Hugs for Halie, or assist in fund-raising, please contact Theresa Bemko at [email protected].

If financial assistance is beyond your ability, prayer is not. There is a prayer chain circulating on the internet that requests a prayer for Halie each evening at 6:00 pm. In fact, that’s how I found out about Halie Palmer. Even though I am not acquainted with Halie or anyone from Thorne Middle School, the prayer chain found its way into my mailbox. There are no coincidences in life. Thus, this column.

That a young girl should be stricken with serious illness definitely tugs at the heart-strings. What can I do? You wonder. Thorne Middle School, and Halie’s friends, are coming together in true fellowship to assist this family in need. Join them. Buy a bracelet. Give a gift card. Say a prayer. Please don’t let this get lost in the shuffle.

You can help Halie.

Middle Age Dating Part 2

 

daniel_murphyI have had a number of women read  part 1 of this series,  most laughed nodded and said I was right on the button.  The mother and daughter of my best friend agreed with most of the article.  Two women, both about 50, one single and one married for 18 years also agreed while citing a lot of their girl friends were attractive smart, but still had a very hard time meeting anyone.  When they did date some of the men out there it was “disastrous.”  Most of the men I speak to say the same thing.  All seem to agree that “men are crazy and women are nuts.’  I guess it is the Mars vs. Venus thing.

 

I did get one email and one phone call contradicting the article.  The single woman that called is going to send me her opinion on dating and the rules she follows as a single 50 year old.  Some of them were, “Let’s say your meeting for the first time at the boardwalk at Pier Village and he shows up on a bike wearing the multi-colored spandex riding suit with padded fanny, gloves and helmet, the date is 75% over.” “You’re in the middle of a first date and a really strange sexual question hits the floor…in about 2 minutes and I’m out the door.”  I can’t wait for the rest of her rules.

 

The lady of the email contradicted the point that most women rush into another relationship.  She wrote, “Very good story….Hopefully, you’ll get plenty of feedback on this one.  Mention the ones that just don’t want to be in a committed relationship immediately after a divorce and the fact that they simply wish to have a person slowly enter their life and wish to be treated with honor, appreciation, gentleness, respect, shall I go on?”  Yes, please go on to both of you and anyone else that would like to comment on this series email me at [email protected].

 

The physiologists will give you a litany of dos and don’t about dating after being divorced and being single again.  Most of them make a lot of sense and of course most of us out here don’t follow them.  The first basic rule is not to get emotionally involved with someone that has just been divorced or going through a divorce.  Or worse yet going through a divorce while still living with there “soon” to be ex-spouse.  If you have ever been in the latter relationship “soon” can be 2 months or 2 years or more.  Most people need a year or two to recover from the trauma of it all regardless of who wanted the divorce.

 

Possibly the second rule is not to rush into a relationship until you get to know a lot about the other person.  This is something that most of us men don’t do…if you’re attracted to her and the chemistry is right and she seems to like you, we’re there.  We totally ignore the red flags that are flagrantly flying (on both men and women)…we know we can fix or overcome anything.  She wants us, what more could we ask?  The married woman of 18 years in this story told me that women love the conquest.  Really, I thought we were the ones doing the conquest.  I guess the next thing would be to write about where to find someone to date socially or otherwise.  I guess I will have to answer that in Part 111 to the best of my ability and with your help.

Who’s Paying for All This?

Woody ZimmermanAmericans are experiencing big-number fatigue, as President Obama and the most radical Congress in generations roll out one massive spending plan after another in amounts that boggle the mind. I’m a numbers guy, but even I have lost track of the “score” of trillion-dollar bills. To paraphrase Everett Dirksen, a trillion here, a trillion there – before you know it you’re talking about real money.

Soon your eyes and your mind just glaze over, and you can’t comprehend how much debt it represents per family – projected out into the later years of the century. It is a spending spree like never before in the country’s history. Liberal mainstream media organs (is that a redundancy?) – agog over the “historic” scope of Obama’s “vision” – are near-orgasmic over how much is “being accomplished.” But they ask few questions about whether these expenditures are actually prudent, necessary or productive. The title-question also goes unasked.

Most politicians (including Mr. Obama) also ignore concerns about how these massive expenditures will be funded, and the media’s supine “watchdogs” are, for the most part, letting them get away with it. The messy details are put off for another time. They will be dealt with “when the time is right” – possibly by Republicans, once they are again relegated to being “tax collectors for the welfare state”, as they were for 40 years, starting in FDR’s time. (If the GOP falls for this again, they will deserve to be in the minority indefinitely.)

Mr. Obama has shown himself to be an adroit politician who knows where the political landmines are and uses modern political tools well. Reassuring, reasonable-sounding talk is his most formidable instrument. Brilliantly heading off conservative criticism, he has recently started talking about “reducing the deficit” in ways that sound almost plausible. But they aren’t, really.

For example, he says he will let the Bush tax cuts expire for people who earn more than $250,000 per year – implying that this extra revenue will fund the gazillions in new spending enacted during his first month in office. Analysts note that even taxing those high earnings at a 100% rate – effectively killing all future incentive to earn – would not come near to paying for all the extra spending. His deficit-reduction story is just a nice story meant to reassure us and put us to sleep.

Absurd though it might be, Mr. Obama’s explanation of how he will pay for his big spending will probably sell. This is because it is a Big Lie – a construct popularized by Josef Goebbels (Hitler’s propaganda minister). Dr. Goebbels (among others) found that a significant part of the public will believe even the biggest whopper if it is published often enough and loudly enough. The new electronic media – radio in Hitler’s time – enhanced this tactic. Experienced politicians know that a large segment of the public is not curious enough or sharp enough to parse details and evaluate whether a Big Lie holds water. Later, when the truth hits them where it hurts – right in the wallet – they are finally shocked into reality. But by then, it is usually too late.

The cost of today’s big spending will hit voters’ wallets in one of two ways – and possibly both. First, people making far less than $¼ million a year will soon find themselves paying higher taxes. Yes, I know The Big O swears on a stack of (non-sectarian) Bibles that lower-income people will have their taxes cut, but you have to read the fine print. Mr. Obama is talking about income taxes. Other tax increases are still on the table. Some will certainly happen.

For example, a plan is afoot to tax us on how many miles we drive each vehicle we own. Drivers currently pay 18¢ in federal taxes on a gallon of gas, but they might soon pay new mileage taxes, too. Carbon taxes and other “green” measures that will raise energy bills are flying below the radar. They won’t be detected until they impact our pocketbooks. Despite Mr. Obama’s studious avoidance of the topic, taxes will have to go up – and not just on “wealthy” people. Somehow, it always works out that way.

The more subtle way to handle government deficit-spending is via inflation. Based on the experience of our own history, most analysts would probably say this is government’s preferred method for dealing with large budget deficits. Democrats almost always use it. In fact, one can reasonably argue that Republicans’ failure to use it led to their congressional defeat in 2006 and presidential defeat in 2008. Many people’s incomes went down, and there was no inflation to pump them back up. That made people feel poorer, and they blamed Republicans for it.

It is 30 years since we had serious inflation – a long time in political terms. Since Ronald Reagan slew inflation in the 1980s, a whole generation of young people has grown up having no experience with it. We have still had inflation of 3-5% a year, of course – but not the “galloping” 10-15% inflation of the Carter era. At 4% inflation, prices double in about 18 years. But 12 % inflation doubles prices in just 6 years. (This is the “rule of 72” – i.e., divide the annual inflation rate into 72 to get the approximate number of years needed to double prices.)

The great thing about inflation, politically speaking, is that most voters love it because they are able to ride its wave. As prices go up, so do their wages. Clerks earn salaries that make them feel like a Rockefeller. On my first real job, in 1963, the company’s executive secretary made $300 a month. She was a bright, efficient lady who practically ran the place. Today, a person like her makes 20 times that salary. Top executives in the firm made $15,000 a year then. Today their pay would also be close to 20 times that. Inflation is the reason for these big numbers. It makes workers (voters) feel rich. It’s fun to handle all that cash.

The downside – the dirty secret – of inflation is that our “progressive” income tax grabs more tax out of inflated salaries. We pay higher rates of tax, not the same rate, on more income. Your tax on $80,000 a year won’t be just twice as high as on $40,000 a year. Progressive rates might make your tax three times as high. Savvy politicians love inflation because they know that inflated wages will produce disproportionately higher taxes. This is why conservatives always want to lower taxes. They know inflation has pushed people into higher brackets.

Like a frog being gradually boiled to death in a pot of water, taxpayers don’t know they’re being had by inflation. Instead, they think they’re beating the game by seeing their incomes go up. Very few are able to see through the inflation scam.

The other great thing about inflation – and here’s where we intersect with the issue of the big deficits – is that it trivializes debt. Most people don’t know this term, but they can probably see that paying off the $100 you borrowed in 1960 with dollars you earned last year is a great deal. If you were of age in 1960, as I was, you know that $100 was serious money. Today, you might blow that taking the fam to the movies, if you buy popcorn and drinks for all the kids. Your $100 today buys far less than it did in 1960. Paying off debt with “cheaper” dollars is what inflation is all about, in political terms. Politicians love it. In fact, there’s not very much about inflation they don’t love. That’s why inflation is coming back. It wasn’t dead – it was only sleeping.

Why is this a problem? Because inflation trivializes not only debt but savings. Most voters are net debtors – meaning that their debt exceeds their savings. They love inflation. Millions of others are net savers, however. Many older people, in particular, live off savings they accumulated for their retirement. If inflation really gets cranked up again, the value of that million dollars you saved – and the $50,000 a year income it produces – will swiftly evaporate. Combine that fact with a greatly reduced portfolio, because the stock market has crashed by 50% since late 2007, and you have a real financial problem for millions of net savers.

One would think, then, that government would try hard to keep inflation at bay, since it brings the serious byproduct of wealth-shrinkage. But one would be wrong. The thing to remember about progressive government, particularly, is that it is not about helping people to accumulate personal wealth and keep it secure. Progressives are innately suspicious of wealth that remains outside the control of governing elites. They prefer a kind of shabby gentility for everyone – not too rich, not too poor, and always in need of government largess. Handing out goodies to preferred groups is their source of power. Check out the focus of the “stimulus packages,” and you’ll get the lay of the political landscape. This is where progressives always want to go.

So the answer to W. C. Fields’ famous question, which titles this article, is: YOU. Whether it’s via higher taxes or inflation, when the bill for the Obama-extravaganza comes due, we’ll all pay. All grownups know there’s no free lunch. For us, that lesson is about to be reinforced. Others who bought Mr. Obama’s shtick are about to do a lot of growing up in the near future.