Friday, January 30, 2009
California is close to a $42 Billion (that's a B... Billion) deficit. They have run out of money, and are going to send IOUs to the taxpayers in the state.
How are the government workers reacting? Instead of pitching in to help in a crisis, that they themselves may have helped create, what do the union employees do... Why, they are suing the state. They're protesting and getting the newspapers to write sob stories about how the two days off a month will change their lives forever.
And, here's the kicker: The state can't lay off workers, because it costs more in time and money than just getting them to cut back.
So, when you hear that more government spending and programs will stimulus the economy, ask yourself: For how long? How long will it be before the stimulus of employing more government workers flips to a drag on the economy when they are paid for with your tax dollars and won't leave? They won't cut back... and you can't fire them.
Remember, they are unionized. The People's employees are unionized. Ain't that a kick in the pants.
Thursday, January 29, 2009
On the one hand, President Obama implores Congress to pass a $800+ BILLION "Stimulus Bill" that has little hope of stimulating anything, but more government spending. Because, for anyone that knows anything about Congress, he has effectively created a new baseline. Baselines are never cut. And, interestingly enough in the Orwellian speak of Congress, not increasing it enough from year to year is called a "budget cut." For example, if you only increase the baseline 1%, when inflation is 3-4%, it's considered a "cut" to our friends in Congress. And, within this spending Bill, that is larger than the combined amount spent on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, all the people in the nation are now responsible for covering the irresponsibility of state and local governments that can't pay their bills -- based on their overspending. But, somehow, someway, this "stimulus bill" is supposed to create jobs.
But, on the other hand, President Obama signed into law today the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. Now, while on its face people may say, this is wonderfully fair. But, for anyone that has run a business, you immediately understand the ramifications of such an act. He has effectively unionized the private sector. Every person a large or small business hires will effectively have to be paid an equal amount, or you could be sued.
Now, if you haven't run a business, let me clue you in: All employees are not equal. All employees are not equally productive. It doesn't matter if they are in the same department or do the same job. There is always one more productive than the other. One that you can't do without, and one that you are willing to keep for a particular pay. There are even some that you really don't want to keep, but the cost of re-training another to do the job may outweigh his/her lack of production, so you eat the cost.
As I stated in the post below, the more government intervention, the less business is interested in hiring. But, with this new wrinkle, businesses right now could be out of compliance. They could be sued today. And, in these economic times, the cost of the current and potential lawsuits will force companies to outsource labor. They will shed jobs. New workers will be Temps. You pay a bit more, but you won't have to deal with health-care issues, potential lawsuits, etc. etc. Companies will keep their core employees that they can't do without, and fill extra positions with independent contractors. Downsizing is inevitable.
Sooner or later, people will come to understand that "feel good" policies of "fairness" only hurt the very people they are designed to help.
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
If and when this fails, I see Obama wrapping himself in a sweater, like Carter, and talking about a "national malaise"... Then history will really be repeating itself. Won't happen for a couple of years. But, if history is our guide, businesses won't hire in 2010 when the tax rates go back up. Government demands for universal healthcare will take their toll. There will be more unemployed. And, if they aren't unemployed, they'll be "self-employed," since businesses will use temp agencies to fill vacancies. Make work public projects will kick in for those that can't go the independent contractor route, and commodities will go through the roof. All of which leads us to a televised "national malaise" speech, where it's not the government's fault, or that of it's economic policies. But, rather, the people's fault for not being upbeat about their prospects.
Thursday, January 22, 2009
"Watership Down" is a wonderful tale about a small group of rabbits, written by Richard Adams. I read it as a child, and loved the movie. I was remembering it today after seeing a couple of rabbits in a nearby wood, and thought about it again. For those that haven't either read or seen it, the novel recounts the rabbits' odyssey as they escape the destruction of their warren to seek a place in which to establish a new home, encountering perils and temptations along the way. It may be a great novel to assign, and even watch in class. Here are the other links to other sections on youtube:
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
It's snowing here in South Carolina! Seriously. In South Carolina! Here's proof... my dog, "Dr. Yuri Zhivago" (Yes, that's his full name on his AKC license) chillin' in the snow at the nearby baseball field. I'm begging for a little of Gore's "Global Warming." Beggin'!
Friday, January 16, 2009
"The Interlopers" is a story of two men, Georg Znaeym and Ulrich von Gradwitz, whose families have fought over a small strip of forest in the eastern Carpathian Mountains for generations. It's kind of like a Romanian Hatfield's and McCoy's story. Ulrich's family legally owns the land, but Georg – feeling it rightfully belongs to him – hunts there anyway. One winter night, Ulrich catches Georg hunting in his forest. The two would never shoot without warning and soil their family’s honor, so they hesitate to acknowledge one another. As an “act of God,” a tree branch suddenly falls on them, trapping the men next to each other under a log. Gradually, they realize the futility of their quarrel and become friends to end the family feud. They call out for their men’s assistance, and after a brief period, Ulrich makes out eight to ten figures approaching over a hill. The story ends when Ulrich realizes who the "interlopers" are.
Thursday, January 15, 2009
This a wonderful video discussing all forms of government, where they land on the political spectrum, what we have here in the United States, and why it was chosen over the others. Please feel free to pass it along.
Wednesday, January 14, 2009
All the world's a stage,
And all the men and women merely players:
They have their exits and their entrances;
And one man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages. At first the infant,
Mewling and puking in the nurse's arms.
And then the whining school-boy, with his satchel,
And shining morning face, creeping like snail
Unwillingly to school. And then the lover
Sighing like furnace, with a woeful ballad
Made to his mistress' eyebrow. Then a soldier,
Full of strange oaths, and bearded like the pard,
Jealous in honour, sudden and quick in quarrel,
Seeking the bubble reputation
Even in the cannon's mouth. And then the justice,
In fair round belly with good capon lin'd,
With eyes severe, and beard of formal cut,
Full of wise saws and modern instances;
And so he plays his part. The sixth age shifts
Into the lean and slipper'd pantaloon,
With spectacles on nose and pouch on side,
His youthful hose well sav'd a world too wide
For his shrunk shank; and his big manly voice,
Turning again toward childish treble, pipes
And whistles in his sound. Last scene of all,
That ends this strange eventful history,
Is second childishness and mere oblivion,
Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.
You can now have your students be able to read and listen to Jack London's "To Build A Fire." The free Audio - Text version, can be found here.
"To Build a Fire" is about a man on the Yukon Trail on a very cold day (Seventy-five degrees below zero). His only traveling companion is a husky wolf-dog. The story describes the hardships the man is going through at starting a fire and trying to keep himself warm. The cold does not faze the man, a newcomer to the Yukon, who plans to meet his friends at an old junction. He walks along a creek trail, mindful of the dangerous, hidden springs, because getting wet feet on such a cold day is dangerous. The man continues on and, in an apparently safe spot, falls through the snow and gets wet up to his shins. He remembers an old-timer who had warned him that no man should travel in the Klondike alone when the temperature was less than fifty degrees below zero.
After having this accident, the man becomes scared and immediately starts a fire to dry his wet clothes. He foolishly starts the fire underneath a spruce tree, which is covered with snow, and keeps pulling twigs from it to feed the flames. The agitation eventually upsets the loaded boughs, which dump their weight of snow onto the fire and extinguish it. He then tries to start a new fire, aware that he is already going to lose a few toes from frostbite. He gathers twigs and grasses, then tries to light a match with his frozen, numbed fingers. He grabs all his matches and lights them all at once, then sets fire to a piece of bark. He starts the fire, but accidentally pokes it apart while trying to remove a piece of green moss. The man decides to kill the dog and to put his hands inside its warm body to restore his circulation. But due to the extreme cold, he cannot kill the dog because he is unable to pull out his knife, or even throttle the animal. He lets it go.
In a desperate attempt to keep himself warm, he starts to run, trying to let the exertion heat his body. However, he has no stamina, and soon he stops and sits down. He imagines his friends finding his dead body in the snow, then himself telling the old-timer that he was right: It was foolish to travel alone. A warmth covers him and he falls into a deep, deadly, relaxing sleep. The dog does not understand why the man is sitting in the snow and not making a fire to warm them. As night falls, the dog comes closer to him and smells death on the man. It trots away "in the direction of the camp it knew, where were the other food-providers and fire-providers."
You can now have your students be able to read and listen to D.H. Lawrence's "The Rock-Horse Winner." The free Audio - Text version, can be found here.
"The Rocking-Horse Winner" describes a young middle-class Englishwoman who "had no luck". Though outwardly successful, the family's lifestyle exceeds its income (sound familiar in today's economy?), and an unspoken anxiety about money permeates the household that her children, especially her son, Paul, sense acutely.
Tuesday, January 13, 2009
Ask any Ohioan, New Yorker, Pennsylvanian, or even Californian why they moved away from their home states to either North Carolina or South Carolina (for those that don't know Fort Mill, SC is just outside of Charlotte, NC), and they will tell you to a person, lower taxes, the opportunity to own a home, and a better quality of life.
But, what really drives me insane is that many of these same people don't make the connection between what they left, why they left it, and what they want out of their government when they get here. Let me give you an example...
My neighbor is a wonderful guy. He moved down here from Philadelphia last year with his wife to purchase a home and (soon) raise a family. For a new housing development, like ours, the same house would have approached $1 million. In his words, "it would have been impossible in Philly." And, having lived in Southern California, I can echo that sentiment. I figure our house would still be worth 2-3 million in the area of Los Angeles where my wife and I lived, even with the declining home values.
But, as we tend to our yards, visit, or watch football games on weekends, we occasionally delve into the taboo conversational topic of politics. Actually, he more than me. (What is it about liberals and political proselytizing?)
Anyway, in almost the same breath that he rails on the politicians in his home state for ruining it, he decries the fact that here in the South Carolina there are fewer programs and less government. I'm not kidding. The second time we ever talked, he actually said, "South Carolina needs to raise taxes."
When I asked, "For what?"
He didn't really know. But, they were too low all the same. And, for that matter, he went on "So are our homeowner's association fees." I didn't know whether to laugh (in case this was some sort of East Coast humor) or cry.
Over the last couple of months, however, I've learned that he was indeed serious. And, I have grown to love ribbing him about his conflicting personal and political philosophies. Truth be told, he's one of my better new-found friends out here.
But, lately, whether it be in business relationships or at some of the places I frequent, I find the same phenomenon among other migrants to the South. It must be some sort of fetish. They loathe the pain that the policies of their ideology have caused. They flee it. Then, while in paradise, they long for a return to the same. It's unbelievable.
If I were a liberal, I'd enact a law requiring all those that voted for the politicians that created the problems be forced to stay and live with the results. Take a little responsibility and be accountable. Don't come down here and look to mess things up.
I like the low taxes. Waving and saying, "Hi" to those that I pass on the neighborhood streets (I would have been locked up in LA doing that.) Only paying 1.40 for gas. And, living in a huge, brand new home for less than the rent of one-bedroom apartment in Westwood. And, lest anyone in the Northeast or California think I'm missing out on anything there, we're not. We have every store, every restaurant, pro football (actually, we didn't have a team in LA), pro basketball, and a AAA baseball team -- which I think is more fun to watch anyway -- within in a 15 minute drive. Not to mention 10 times more golf courses. I can hit a golf ball to the closest one to my house.
But, I didn't mean any of that by way of advertisement. For you out-of-state liberals, stay where you are!
Monday, January 12, 2009
So, please feel free to have your students listen and read Saki's "Tobermory" here.
So, please read and listen to "The Gift of the Magi" here.