Recently in Culture, or the lack thereof Category
Before I even read the post about boredom and smart phones, I knew I was going to agree with the premise.
"Doug Gross writes that thanks to technology, there's been a recent sea change in how people today kill time. 'Those dog-eared magazines in your doctor's office are going unread. Your fellow customers in line at the deli counter are being ignored. And simply gazing around at one's surroundings? Forget about it.' "Indeed.
How often have you looked around at others while you're walking down the street, waiting at the subway station, or standing at the checkout line and seen people with their heads bowed as if at prayer, gazing down at their smart phones and pecking away at its keyboard or browsing the web? I look around all the time and I see this phenomenon all the time. This is particularly so at social gatherings, be they with friends or at family events.
On more than one occasion at a family gathering of the WP Clan I've seen the teens and young adults pecking away at their phones. They're engaged with whatever is going on on their screens but aren't really in the here and now with everyone else. Whether it's due to boredom (likely) or the 'need' to be connected 24/7/365 (also likely), they're physically present but they aren't interacting with the people actually around them.
Call me a fuddy-duddy, but I have a phone that lets me make phone calls and to text. And while it does have the capability to surf the web, I don't use it (and don't want to pay for it). Texting comes in handy if I need to send or receive messages from the missus or my son that don't require an immediate response (usually reminders about appointments, things to pick up at the supermarket, etc) I won't spend hours at a time pecking away at the keypad to 'talk' to my family, friends, or acquaintances. If I need or want to do that I'll call them and talk to them or, a novel idea, visit them.
I have no problem with being bored on occasion. During the summer I'll go down to the town beach or the boat ramp and just watch people. It amazes me what I'll see there from time to time. Sometimes I take a walk and will think things over. (That helps me a lot at work when I get stuck on something - I'll go take a walk outside and mull things over. I've solved a lot of problems and come up with interesting ideas doing just that.)
However, with the constant stimulation provided by smart phones, tablets, and the like, that opportunity has disappeared for a lot of people. That's a shame.
This reminds me of something I heard a long time ago from a number of different sources that describes exactly what has been going on: Too many people are merely living on this world, not in it. Those in this world live in a state of constant amazement at what they experience.
I'd like to think I'm one of those living in it.
Next, it's "Government is the only thing we all belong to."
It's merely another part of the Democrat mind-set, being that we owe everything to the government and that we are owned part and parcel by that same government. In other words, they are trying to tell us that we are slaves of the State and that we should be grateful for our indentured status.
What's worse is that at there are a lot of people who look forward to becoming vassals as if that will somehow relieve them of some great burden. It will. They will be relieved of their freedom to choose for themselves. They will become nothing but a disposable cog in the machine that is the State.
Is there anything we as Americans can do to prevent this from happening? Sure.
Vote them out of office. Ridicule them at every opportunity. Show the rest of the people that what these folks are advocating is not a solution, but a trap. There are plenty of examples to prove the point.
One of the biggest in more recent American history was LBJ's Great Society, a social welfare program that trapped millions in poverty and kept them dependent on the government, generation after generation. Minorities that had been making great strides to lift themselves out of poverty after World War II were again made second class citizens, having sold their freedom for a regular check from the government coffers. What's worse is that very folks who pulled this off painted their efforts to re-enslave them as a means to reach some kind of never-to-be-reached 'equality'. They were sold a lie, one too many still continue to believe.
If they need other examples there are plenty to choose from - the Bolshevik Revolution, Nazi Germany, Cuba, Nicaragua under the Sandinistas, Chavez's Venezuela, and a whole host of other nations that tried what the Democrats have been attempting to do (and failed miserably). It's a system that is always doomed to fail. Some have failed in spectacular fashion while others have been slowly fading away. But all of them have had one common element - surrendering individual freedoms to the State.
Ron Kessler's tell-all book about the Secret Service gives us a view of the observations and opinions from the agents whose sworn duty it is to protect the President, the First Family, the Vice President and his family, as well as some members of the White House staff.
What I found interesting was how different the various Presidents and their families were, at least in the eyes of the agents assigned to them.
A few excerpts (edited for formatting and clarity):
John & Jacqueline KennedyI find it interesting the way the occupant of the White House treated the Secret Service and the rest of the staff followed along party lines. Republicans were respectful and well liked while Democrats were not. Of course I realize these examples just go back to JFK, so we only have a sample of nine Presidents and their spouses, two Vice Presidents, and one White House staffer. But it is telling.
He: A philanderer of the highest order.
She: She ordered the kitchen help to save all the left-over wine during a State dinner, mixed it with fresh wine and served again during the next White House occasion.
Lyndon & Ladybird Johnson
He: Another philanderer of the highest order. In addition, LBJ was as crude as the day is long. Both JFK and LBJ kept a lot of women in the White House for extramarital affairs, and both had set up "early warning systems" to alert them if/when their wives were nearby. Both Kennedy & Johnson were promiscuous and oversexed men.
She: She was either naive or just pretended to "not know" about her husband's many liaisons.
Richard & Pat Nixon
He: A "moral" man but very odd, weird, paranoid, etc. He had horrible relationship with his family, and in a way, was almost a recluse.
She: She was quiet most of the time.
Nice, decent man. Everyone in the Secret Service was surprised by his downfall.
Gerald & Betty Ford
He: A true gentlemen who treated the Secret Service with respect and dignity. He had a great sense of humor.
She: She drank a lot!
Jimmy & Rosalyn Carter
He: A complete phony who would portray one picture of himself to public and very different in private, e..g., would be shown carrying his own luggage, but the suitcases were always empty; he kept the empty ones just for photo ops. Wanted the people to see him as pious and a non-drinker, but he and his family drank alcohol a lot! He had disdain for the Secret Service, and was very irresponsible with the "football" with nuclear codes. He didn't think it was a big deal and would keep military aides at a great distance. Often did not acknowledge the presence of Secret Service personnel assigned to serve him.
She: She mostly did her own thing.
Ronald & Nancy Reagan
He: The real deal -- moral, honest, respectful, and dignified. They treated Secret Service and everyone else with respect and honor. Thanked everyone all the time. He took the time to know everyone on a personal level. One "favorite" story that has circulated among the Secret Service personnel was an incident early in his Presidency, when he came out of his room with a pistol tucked on his hip. The agent in charge asked: "Why the pistol, Mr. President" He replied, "In case you boys can't get the job done, I can help." It was common for him to carry a pistol. When he met with Gorbachev, he had a pistol in his briefcase. Upon learning that Gary Hart was caught with Donna Rice, Reagan said, "Boys will be boys, but boys will not be Presidents." [He obviously either did not know or forgot JFK's and LBJ's sexcapades!]
She: She was very nice but very protective of the President; and the Secret Service was often caught in the middle. She tried hard to control what the President ate, and he would say to the agent, "Come on, you gotta help me out." The Reagans drank wine during State dinners and special occasions only; otherwise, they shunned alcohol; the Secret Service could count on one hand the times they were served wine during their "family dinner". For all the fake bluster of the Carters, the Reagans were the ones who lived life as genuinely moral people.
George H.W. & Barbara Bush
He: Extremely kind and considerate. Always respectful. Took great care in making sure the agents' comforts were taken care of. They even brought them meals, etc. One time Barbara Bush brought warm clothes to agents standing outside at Kennebunkport; one agent was given a warm hat, and when he tried to nicely say "no thanks" even though he was obviously freezing, President Bush said "Son, don't argue with the First Lady, put the hat on." He was the most prompt of the Presidents. He ran the White House like a well-oiled machine.
She: She ruled the house and spoke her mind.
Bill & Hillary Clinton
He: Presidency was one giant party. Not trustworthy -- he was nice mainly because he wanted everyone to like him, but to him life is just one big game and party. Everyone knows of his sexuality.
She: She is another phony. Her personality would change the instant cameras were near. She hated with open disdain the military and Secret Service. She was another one who felt people were there to serve her. She was always trying to keep tabs on Bill Clinton.
An egotistical ass, who was once overheard by his Secret Service detail lecturing his only son that he needed to do better in school or he "would end up like these guys" -- pointing to the agents.
George W. & Laura Bush
He: The Secret Service loved him and Laura Bush. He was also the most physically "in shape" who had a very strict workout regimen. The Bushes made sure their entire administrative and household staff understood they were to respect and be considerate of the Secret Service.
She: She was one of the nicest First Ladies, if not the nicest; she never had any harsh word to say about anyone.
The guy who was the most caring of the Secret Service in the administration.
Barack & Michelle Obama
He: "Clinton all over again" - hates the military and looks down on the Secret Service. He is egotistical and cunning; looks you in the eye and appears to agree with you, but turns around and does the opposite -- untrustworthy. He has temper tantrums.
She: She is a complete bitch, who basically hates anybody who is not black; hates the military; and looks at the Secret Service as servants.
If the Democrats treat their protective details and other staffers poorly, how will they treat the rest of us? I suspect there would be little difference...unless the cameras are on.
I could go into detail about my thoughts about it, but I won't other than to say he was masterful with his humor, his pointed jibes at the President, and his homage to Jimmy Stewart as done by Bob Newhart.
I will however link to a piece by Stuart Schneiderman, giving his analysis of both Eastwood's speech and the reaction by the ever humorless Left.
A small portion of his post:
Representing President Obama by an empty chair is salient, high concept, and very much to the point.'Nuff said.
It offers an image that conceptualizes the Republican critique of the Obama administration. It says that President Obama has failed to lead and has failed to discharge the duties of his office because he is more interested in being out and around campaigning than sitting at his desk in the oval office being the president.
Obama and his campaign staff were sufficiently torqued by the trope to have felt a need to tweet back a picture of the president at a cabinet meeting.
When you have to point out that the chair is occupied, that means that it isn't.
Jennifer Rubin covered Ann's speech, stating:
She showed a determination and soberness that was appropriate to a still doubting public. No one speech is going to turn an election. But Ann Romney delivered as promised. Romney and his team should consider themselves lucky to have a candidate's wife who can look her fellow Americans in the eye and sound both sincere and ebullient. She is indeed his greatest asset.But to read the comments to Jennifer's post, you'd think Ann was something that crawled out of a sewer, becoming someone even more reviled than Palin. But what do you expect from readers of the Washington Post who are "true believers" in the cause of Progressive Socialism, (thought they don't call it that...assuming they even know what it is.)
All kinds of accusation were leveled at her, all kinds of claims about her background made, and attacks made against her sons. But every single one of those supposedly enlightened bits of information were so easily debunked with just a little bit of search time on Google or Bing. But the facts don't fit with the narrative and therefore must be discarded.
What it comes down to is the folks posting those kinds of comments ceased thinking for themselves years ago and are capable only of regurgitating what they've been told by their leaders/friends of a friend/etc. If what they hear backs up their 'beliefs', then it must be true, right? After all, the Democrats and the Left never lie about anything, do they?
I expect that the closer we get to the election the worst the attacks against Mitt, and particularly Ann will become, harking us back to the days of the character assassination of Sarah Palin and her family. And like the last election, I expect the Obama campaign to go after the Romney kids and grandkids. But I also expect to hear a hew and cry if anyone were to make cracks about Michelle or the Obama girls. After all, the rules only apply to the GOP and not the Democrats, right?
And considering some of the other activities seen by the Left and their lapdog media, I expect the racist looting hypocrites to pull every dirty trick in their book to keep the Narcissist-in-Chief in office, including making sure all of the dead, the non-citizens, and other ineligible people 'vote' for their guy as many times as they can. After all, aren't the Democrats, and particularly the Chicago machine, the party of voter fraud? (See, I can make accusations, too. But at least I can prove mine.)
One of Glenn's biggest suggestions for the brick-and-mortar shops: "I do feel, though, that brick-and-mortar stores ought to be trying harder to make the shopping experience pleasant. Instead, I often get the feeling that the staff views me as a disturbance to their texting-their-friends time."
I've gotten that same feeling, too.
Around here in the Lakes Region of New Hampshire there are lots of shops that cater more to the seasonal visitors and many of the items they sell probably wouldn't do so well online. Sometimes you've got to be visceral about what you're buying. I find they also tend to bend over backwards to serve their customers.
Unfortunately that effort does not extend to many of the chain stores out here. On more than one occasion I've had problems finding anyone in some of these stores with at least a modicum of knowledge about what they sold. Probably the worst examples can be found at some of the big box stores and electronics retailers.
On more than one occasion I have needed help at one of the big box home improvement stores. I won't name them, but I will tell you they like using signs in Spanish...even in areas where French is the second most spoken language behind English. Trying to find someone who knows anything about what I'm looking for, particularly where I can find it, can be frustrating. That's why I rarely go there and frequent one of the locally owned hardware stores instead.
The same is true of both one now defunct electronics chain, Circuit City, and another chain which shall remain nameless. After Circuit City laid off their more experienced sales staff (supposedly as a cost cutting measure), the remaining staff was too inexperienced and not very knowledgeable about the equipment and accessories they sold. It was no wonder they ended up going under. The other chain is still in business, but they're struggling. Only their online sales operation seems to be doing moderately well. Again, it all comes down to their staff and how they treat their customers.
Is it any wonder online retailers are doing so much better than brick-and-mortar stores?
But then I came across this over at Maggie's Farm and it struck such a chord in me I had to watch it again and again. And every time I watched it I became both angrier and sadder at the same time.
While this video did not come from a real debate (it's from a new HBO series The Newsroom), the fact that this character spoke his mind rather than act like a gladhanding politician by giving a 'safe' answer in order to at least not lose ground to his competitors shows that at least in some screenwriter's mind, someone recognizes the problem we have with this nation. (I am not a fan of HBO, particularly after the hatchet job they did on Sarah Palin.)
It all comes down to this, as expressed by one commenter on the original YouTube page:
We WERE the greatest country in the world until socialism, lawyers, unions, and television lulled us into mediocrity. They convinced us to give up our lofty pursuits for the security of never failing.While the sentiment is a little simplistic, it does get to the heart of the matter. Over the last 5 decades we have been told by our supposed 'betters' that by merely being American that we are somehow inherently evil, that we must pay for the crimes of our long-dead forebears and that we must apply late 20th/early 21st century 'sensibilities' to 18th, 19th, and early 20th century actions, laws, and morality. How incredibly stupid is that?
But we've seen this kind of stupidity multiplying over the years and the fact that it no longer surprises me brought me up short. When did I get so jaded that I no longer point out such stupidity?
It's been a while since I've pointed it out and ended up looking through the Weekend Pundit archives and came across something I posted a little over three years ago. It illustrates just how much damage we have allowed to be done to this once great nation, how we've been fooled into becoming nothing but a mediocre nation more concerned with feelings and not about facts.
Unless we change that this nation will go out with a whimper, and woe to us if that is the case.
To say that people between the Carolinas and New Jersey are upset that power hasn't yet been restored would be an understatement. But then Mother Nature wreaked destruction over such a wide area that even with the help from out-of-state and out-of-country (Canada) work crews, it will take time to make all the repairs required to get the power back on. But this outage has given the people affected a lesson of what their lives will be like on a permanent basis should the aforementioned We-Gotta-Save-The-Earth wackos succeed in their efforts.
In regards to the widespread outages, more than a few people have suggested burying all of the power lines. While it makes sense in some circumstances, I doubt it's practical for all power lines. Most of the residential developments over the past 20 years or so have buried the low-voltage and medium-voltage utility lines, doing away with all of the overhead wires and cables. But burying other medium and high-voltage distribution lines or long-haul high-voltage lines may not be practical from a technological or financial point of view. However it never hurts to take a look at something like that.
Another possible solution: small self-contained nuclear power plants with between 50 and 100 Mwe generating capacity. More plants spread out over wide area might make the electrical grid less vulnerable to inclement weather, terrorist actions, or alien attack. I don't know if it would help against an EMP attack or massive solar flare, but it might. Call it something to think about.
Take a close look, kiddies. This is what happens when you let feelings overrule your logic, something that happens to those on Left all too often.
In light of the Supreme Court's ruling on ObamaCare, my only response is "We're screwed!"
It seems it took the majority, including Chief Justice Roberts, all kinds of elaborate and painfully twisted reasoning to justify the continuing existence of this godawful law.
While all hope is not lost, meaning it will take Congress to kill this law, repealing the ACA will probably have to wait until after the November elections, assuming Obama is kicked out of office bag and baggage and Harry Reid ends up as the Senate Minority leader. Otherwise we're stuck with a law that will seriously cripple a sixth of the American economy with draconian regulations and taxes. (One has to remember that the ACA requires 10 years of tax revenues to fund 6 years of benefits which is why the major part (and most expensive) doesn't go into effect until 2014. But what happens after those 6 years pass? Tax hikes, that's what.)
So once again the will of the American people is overridden by our supposed "betters" and we're still going to get stuck with the bill for their 'party'.
Now that the Wisconsin recall election is in the history books, the Democrat Machine has switched to the Max Extract Spin Mode, trying its best to make Scott Walker's successful defense against the public employee union onslaught seem like nothing more than a fluke. The union thugs lost this one by losing support of the very people they believed were firmly in their pocket - the working stiffs. These same working stiffs are also less likely to support a President they see as doing everything he can to kill jobs despite his claims to the contrary. His record speaks for itself. The spin the Dems and the White House are trying to put on Walker's win isn't resonating very well across the country.
So why did the public employee unions lose after spending millions in union funds to unseat Walker? It's simple, really.
It's tough to convince someone who's barely making ends meet all while seeing their taxes going up year after year that it's in their best interest to support state and municipal employee demands for gold plated benefits packages those of us in the private sector can only dream about. It was a major disconnect between the public employee unions and the average working folks.
What made this disconnect even worse is that Walker's actions did exactly what he said they would - turning a $6 billion budget deficit into the first budget surplus seen in years, all without raising taxes; lowering property taxes; and helping reduce benefits costs paid by school systems across the state. It's not easy convincing people who see more of their money staying in their pockets that they should "go back to the way it used to be." That's a tough sell.
Do the results in Wisconsin automatically mean Obama is doomed and Romney will have a cakewalk? No, not in the least. But it does mean that a state the Democrats saw as safely in the Obama camp is now in play, and that does not bode well for the President.
Too bad. Or not.
Detroit, whose 139 square miles contain 60 percent fewer residents than in 1950, will try to nudge them into a smaller living space by eliminating almost half its streetlights.When you have block after block of abandoned commercial buildings and homes, it makes no sense to waste money lighting streets where no one (except squatters) live. Of course many of those buildings and homes wouldn't be abandoned if decades of Progressive leadership hadn't driven the city into these dire straits. The city is a perfect example of the Thatcher Axiom: "The problem with socialism is that eventually you run out of other people's money." That certainly fits Detroit to a 'T'.
As it is, 40 percent of the 88,000 streetlights are broken and the city, whose finances are to be overseen by an appointed board, can't afford to fix them. Mayor Dave Bing's plan would create an authority to borrow $160 million to upgrade and reduce the number of streetlights to 46,000. Maintenance would be contracted out, saving the city $10 million a year.
Detroit's dwindling income and property-tax revenue have required residents to endure unreliable buses and strained police services throughout the city. Because streetlights are basic to urban life, deciding what areas to illuminate will reshape the city, said Kirk Cheyfitz, co-founder of a project called Detroit143 -- named for the 139 square miles of land, plus water -- that publicizes neighborhood issues.As Glenn Reynolds stated in his link to the story, it's like something right out of Atlas Shrugged or I Will Fear No Evil.
Meantime, [Detroit Chief Operating Officer Chris] Brown said, the city will fix broken streetlights in certain places even as it discontinues such services as street and sidewalk repairs in "distressed" areas -- those with a high degree of blight and little or no commercial activity.
The Obama Administration seems to be doing all it can to make sure life is "fair", even if it has to destroy long standing traditions, activities, and other bits of American culture to do so. The latest bit of "fairness" comes by way of the rather overused and severely twisted ADA, or the Americans with Disabilities Act. The most recent salvo threatens to close down both public and commercial swimming pools because they don't have easy access into the water for the severely disabled.
Last week, news was made as today's deadline approached for commercial and municipal swimming pool owners to install means, by which disabled swimmers could enter the nation's swimming pools. It is the kind of regulation that would make a great punch line for the conservative version of the Daily Show, if conservatives were that funny. The Obama Administration has recently construed the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Standards for Accessible Design to apply to the act of swimming.How many municipalities, hotels, and other facilities will close their pools rather than worry about facing fines or spending money they can't afford to comply with this latest application of the ADA, particularly when it was never really meant to be used in such a punitive fashion?
Today, this regulation was supposed to go into effect, opening up the owners to $100,000 fines as well as trial lawyer liability. However, thanks to the kindness of the Justice Department, existing pools now have until January 2013 to comply. "Newly constructed or altered places of public accommodation, commercial facilities and state and local government facilities" operating swimming pools will now be required to install permanent structures that lower physically disabled patrons into the pool.
Call it yet another example of the Law of Unintended Consequences punishing the innocent all in the name of "fairness".
While New York also has problems with its public employee unions, it's nowhere near the level seen elsewhere. Instead, the City Council is proposing rules that will help drive the last surviving industry out of the city - the financial industry.
For the life of me I can't figure out how making it too difficult and too expensive to remain in New York City is going to help the city's finances. Is it possible the City Council has been infected with the "California disease"? After all, California's state and local level governments have been doing their best to drive businesses out of business or out of state. They have succeeded. That's why California is in the fiscal mess it's in. And now New York City wants to do the same thing?
Yet in the wake of JP Morgan's massive losses last week and the continuing controversy surrounding the Wall Street bailouts, the New York City Council is debating a measure that would require city banks to publicly disclose their efforts at "socially responsible" banking.This is the same attitude held by many politicians in California and we've seen how well that's worked out for them. The City Council doesn't seem to understand that the banks and other financial institutions will have no problem departing the city for greener pastures. As the post linked above states, Fortune 500 companies have been leaving New York for decades. Wall Street firms will have no problems following them to places with better business climates. And with today's telecommunications infrastructure, those greener pastures can be anywhere, even here in New Hampshire.
Many bankers, as well as Mayor Michael Bloomberg, have voiced their opposition to the new plans. The regulations, they say, would add another burdensome layer to the web of regulations that already exist at the federal and state levels. The Council, however, appears unmoved, and support of key council leaders...give it a fighting chance at making it into law.
If it does, its supporters on the Council will hail it as a major victory, but it will be a loss for the city as a whole. The financial industry is the one industry keeping the city alive, yet New York's blue politicians seem unconcerned about the risks of antagonizing their major cash cow.
As more than one pundit has stated, California does not have a revenue problem but a spending problem. Even the once-and-again governor Jerry Brown knows the state is in a deep fiscal crisis, but his solution is raise taxes again. This after the last tax increase failed to raise the projected revenues, leaving the state with a $16 billion budget deficit. Whether he and the rest of the tax-and-spend Democrats realize it or not, they're on the wrong side of the Laffer Curve, meaning even if they continue to raise taxes, revenues will be well below projections. At this point the taxes have become punitive and outright confiscatory, punishing financial success. Once you start doing that people either stop trying or they leave. In the case of California, it's both. And it's not just those providing jobs who are packing up and leaving, so are many of the workers, including illegal immigrants. The net population change has shown more than 4 million more people have left California than have entered over the past 10 years. And this figure does not include the illegal immigrants, many whom are heading back home because there's no work to be had in the economic wasteland that is California.
Other states have been struggling with economic crises, including New Jersey. It is here where we see the difference in approaches taken to solve fiscal problems. Governor Chris Christie dove head first into the problem, understanding New Jersey's fiscal crisis was due to runaway government spending at all levels and overreaching public employee union demands. He went after both and managed to cut spending and dial back a lot of the union benefits that were unsustainable, particularly during this ongoing recession. As the piece linked above stated, "More states are realizing that the road to fiscal hell is paved with progressive intentions." Christie gets it. Brown does not.
There was also another thing Christie did that Brown did not: Canceled a multi-billion dollar commuter rail project between New Jersey and New York City that his state could not afford. He knew it for the money-wasting boondoggle it was and wanted nothing to do with it. Brown on the other hand, caved in to federal demands and decided to go ahead with a high-speed rail project that is doomed to fail before the first rail tie is laid down, committing California to billions upon billions of taxpayer dollars it doesn't have for a project no one (except the watermelon environmentalists) wants or needs. What use is a high-speed train to nowhere? (The initial stretches will be built out in economically depressed and less urban and suburban areas. Why would they need such a train when the only place it will take them is to another economically depressed area?)
Need more proof California is heading to an inevitable financial meltdown? Then look at the local level where municipalities are struggling to meet unrealistic demands from their public employees and the state. Here's an example:
A mere handful of people are left to hear the San Jose city manager offer the latest bleak financial news: the state of California was clawing back tens of millions of dollars more, and "140 employees have been separated from the city." (New times call for new euphemisms.) A pollster presents his finding that, no matter how the question is phrased, the citizens of San Jose are unlikely to approve any ballot measure that raises taxes. A numbers guy gets to his feet and explains that the investment returns in the city's pension plan are not likely to be anything near as high as was assumed. In addition to there not being enough money in this particular pot to begin with, the pot is failing to expand as fast as everyone had hoped, and so the gap between what the city's employees are entitled to and what will exist is even greater than previously imagined. The council then votes to postpone, for six weeks, a vote on whether to declare the city's budget a "public emergency," and thus to give to the mayor, Chuck Reed, new powers.We're not as bad as Greece. Not exactly an overwhelming vote of confidence from the mayor, is it? San Jose isn't the only municipality facing the same kind of crisis. It is, unfortunately, an all too common problem across the state.
The relationship between the people and their money in California is such that you can pluck almost any city at random and enter a crisis. San Jose has the highest per capita income of any city in the United States, after New York. It has the highest credit rating of any city in California with a population over 250,000. It is one of the few cities in America with a triple-A rating from Moody's and Standard & Poor's, but only because its bondholders have the power to compel the city to levy a tax on property owners to pay off the bonds. The city itself is not all that far from being bankrupt.
[Mayor Chuck Reed is] a Democrat, but at this point it doesn't much matter which party he belongs to, or what his ideological leanings are, or for that matter how popular he is with the people of San Jose. He's got a problem so big that it overwhelms ordinary politics: the city owes so much more money to its employees than it can afford to pay that it could cut its debts in half and still wind up broke. "I did a calculation of cost per public employee," he says as we settle in. "We're not as bad as Greece, I don't think."
Stockton is on the verge of bankruptcy. Vallejo's government is all but shut down after that city's bankruptcy in 2008, with police and fire departments gutted, a relocated city hall with few staff, and a general feeling of hopelessness.
Eighty percent of the city's budget--and the lion's share of the claims that had thrown it into bankruptcy--were wrapped up in the pay and benefits of public-safety workers. Relations between the police and the firefighters, on the one hand, and the citizens, on the other, were at historic lows. The public-safety workers thought that the city was out to screw them on their contracts; the citizenry thought that the public-safety workers were using fear as a tool to extort money from them.Is this is what is in store for other cities and towns in California? Yes, unless things change and the public employee unions either give up their over-the-top compensation (which has put municipalities into these dire fiscal straits) or are broken or decertified. Otherwise California has no chance at all.
Since the bankruptcy, the police and fire departments have been cut in half; some number of the citizens who came to [city manager] Phil Batchelor's office did so to say they no longer felt safe in their own homes. All other city services had been reduced effectively to zero. "Do you know that some cities actually pave their streets?" says Batchelor. "That's not here."
Germany's push to become "greener than everyone else" is now showing some of the major downsides of the quasi-religious environmental movement.
We buy organic food, put E10 in our gas tanks and switch to green electricity. Our roofs are covered in solar panels and our walls plastered with insulation. This makes us feel good about ourselves. The only question is: What exactly does the environment get out of all this?The answer is not much, really. One downside to a lot of the environmental measures being taken is that things stink more than they used to, literally.
Showerhead technology has undergone rapid development in recent years. Less water, more air, says the European Union's environmental design guideline. Gone are the days when it was enough for a showerhead to simply distribute water. Today an aerosol is generated through a complicated process in the interior of the showerhead. The moisture content in the resulting air-water mixture is so low and the air content so high that taking a shower feels more like getting blow-dried.Save water on one end, but blast huge amounts of water through the sewer systems to flush out what used to flow easily before the days low flush toilets and low-flow shower heads on the other end? I'll bet the Greenies didn't see that coming. Net savings? Probably somewhere on the negative side of the balance sheet, particularly if one takes into account the increased maintenance and replacement costs of the infrastructure. What makes this even more ironic is that Germany isn't suffering from water shortages by any means, yet they're acting as if the country is located in an arid climate.
..."Think about how you can save water! Taking a shower is better for the environment than taking a bath. Turn off the water when you're soaping yourself. Never let the water run when you're not using it. And maybe you can spend less time in the shower, too."
This is all very well and good, but there's only one problem: It stinks. Our street is filled with the stench of decay. It's especially bad in the summer, when half of Berlin is under a cloud of gas.
Our consumption has declined so much that there is not enough water going through the pipes to wash away fecal matter, urine and food waste, causing blockages. The inert brown sludge sloshes back and forth in the pipes, which are now much too big, releasing its full aroma.
...But toxic heavy metals like copper, nickel and lead are also accumulating in the sewage system. Sulfuric acid is corroding the pipes, causing steel to rust and concrete to crumble. It's a problem that no amount of deodorant can solve.
The waterworks must now periodically flush their pipes and conduits. The water we save with our low-flow toilets is simply being pumped directly through hoses into the sewage system below. On some days, an additional half a million cubic meters of tap water is run through the Berlin drainage system to ensure what officials call the "necessary flow rate."
As the author of the article states, much of Germany's environmental regulations and requirements are more of the "this makes me feel good about my contribution to saving the environment" type than any real efforts to "save" the environment. In other words, it's all feel-good legislation with a net-negative outcome.
The Spiegel article goes on to list a litany of failed environmental issues that are costing the German economy billions of Euros while giving little in return, including energy efficiency requirements that cause more problems than they solve, and intensive recycling efforts that end up with a lot of the materials saved from the landfill being "thermally recycled" - burned to generate electricity - which has its own environmental issues.
As much as we can point to Germany's problems with going green, we can't assume we won't go to the extremes the Germans have. All we have to do is look at California to see how many of their environmental regulations have done far more harm than good. While there are differences between Germany and California, one of the biggest being large parts of California being arid, many of the same side effects are being felt there as well. We can't assume that many of the same actions taken in California won't make it to the rest of the states, particularly if Obama's rogue EPA gets its way.
(H/T Small Dead Animals)
I cannot say with any certainty how much history the pastor has studied, remembers, or understands. But it appears to me that he does have blind spots when it comes to the actions of those who do not hold freedom dear and would prefer to run things, even if it means killing millions in order to enforce their will.
This e-mail has not been changed other than some formatting and corrections made to some typos.
I apologize for labeling Pres Obama as a Fascist. I should have done that only after presenting arguments that satisfy me that he deserves the label. I have listed below a variety of reasons I have for believing he is a socialist and will become a Fascist.Indeed.
1. The President's major political asset is his charisma. Polls show that more often than not voters disapprove of his policies, yet he has a high personal approval rating. His accomplishments are meager other than getting elected. Even there his foray into local Chicago politics succeeded because his opponents for the nomination were mistakenly omitted from the ballot.
2. His cabinet appointments have been disappointing. I think that Eric Holder's major accomplishment has been to shield the President. Prior to his appointment his only noted achievement was to obtain a pardon for a major donor who had fled the country after conviction. He slipped the pardon into the list of Pres. Clinton's last day pardons as if it had been vetted and approved in the normal manner by the justice department. His appointee to the Energy Department, as late as two weeks ago was that it was necessary to drive up fossil fuel costs to make green energy more attractive.
3. Assistant Cabinet members require approval from the Senate. Rather than follow the Constitutional requirement, The Pres. appointed numerous Czars who became de facto Assistants without approval. We got ideologues who were avowed communists or revolutionaries.
4. Under Pres. Obama's stewardship, the nation is being reshaped into a secular society. There has been an increasing effort to drive religion from our society. Witness eliminating prayer from our schools, removal of any religious overtones (like the Ten Commandments) from public buildings. Morality is officially suspect, to be replaced by legality and regulation. Each year we add multiple thousands of pages of regulations to control behavior and Congress feels they have accomplished nothing if they haven't passed batches of laws. Is all of this to replace what was once accepted as morals and ethics.
It is documented that those that call themselves liberals do far less charitable work and give far less to charity. I suppose if Government is responsible for the welfare of every individual, then I have met my obligation to my fellow man if I simply pay my taxes That looks to me as an inducement to accept socialism. Socialism always fails because as Margret Thatcher said, "Eventually you run out of other people's money." When Socialism fails the most common result is despotism.
5. Charismatic leaders tend to have cadres of militant supporters. Cuba and Venezuela, Castro and Chavez have co-opted their armies. Mussolini, Hitler and Lenin/Stalin had Brown Shirts, Black Shirts, and Red Shirts. Pres. Obama has Purple Shirted goons. How else would you identify the mobs of union members who descended on Wisconsin in an attempt to over throw the duly elected Governor. They claim that the Tea Party is violent and racist. Not as violent as the Purple Shirts.
6. Pres. Obama and his administration have diligently worked to expand their natural base. We are reaching a point where too great a portion of the voting populace either work for or are married to someone working for a government. Their unions negotiate for improved pay and perks. On the other side of the bargaining table are the unborn generations who will have to pay the wages and perks "someday".
Another huge constituency are the poor. If we are in danger of running out of poor people we simply change the threshold. Of course we have always had a very mobile society. Thomas Sowell had a very revealing essay about mobility. Many of those who are poor were wealthy less than a decade ago. Many recent graduates from high schools and universities are poor until they get work and earn promotions. Many of the wealthy are recipients of one time windfalls and they won't be wealthy ten years from now.
Once you start subsidizing poverty you get more poverty. Much of what we give the poor is not counted as income - food stamps, rent subsidies, unemployment is counted. I've often wondered how many of those who collected unemployment for the full ninety-nine weeks had a working spouse and the unemployment benefit amounts to wages for staying home and being a house husband/wife.
7. The stimulus package was going to 'kick start' projects that were 'shovel ready', but a very large portion of the money went to state and local governments to cover their shortfalls. Instead of shrinking payrolls, these government employees were shielded while productive workers in private employment were laid off or downsized. In particular the stimulus money went to Unions, specifically the teacher's and autoworkers unions. In the case of both Chrysler and GM the bond holders who were legally entitled to protection got cents on the dollar and were not allowed to reorganize the companies. I don't understand why there weren't lawsuits. By the way, it is my contention that the UAW created the Asian and European invasion of our market. Every increase in productivity went to overpaid employees and never to the consumer. Eventually prices for domestic cars were so high that they created a spacious umbrella for competitors to emerge.
There was a time when our technology improvements helped us to protect our markets. The unions couldn't organize the Asian companies, but technology is easily exported. It was thought that the Asian workers were not capable of utilizing our technology, but in reality the 'worker bees' were better educated and better motivated than our domestic scholars.
8. The President has been decrying the Do Nothing Congress, but it is the Democrat controlled Senate that is doing nothing. Pres. Obama is complaining that the days of cooperation and compromise have gone away. In those good old days there was a fair consensus about where the country should go and the compromise was about the best way to get there. Today, there are two opposing ideas about where to go. One side says a democratic capitalist society has served us well and the opposing side says the wave of the future is European style socialism. Compromise is seen by both sides as surrender. Progress will hinge on the will of the people. Even if Pres. Obama is reelected, I'm betting that the Tea party will control both houses.
9. Education has been in decline for decades. The only country that spends more per pupil is Switzerland, but the U.S. has continually slipped in the hard sciences. I believe the Universities have become the home of Lenin's 'useful fools' Government subsidized Universities and tuition increases matched the subsidies. Government began to guarantee student loans and in response to fairness dicta Universities began admitting unqualified student and the dumbing down curricula. Lots of students took gut courses and many flunked out. When these ungraduated student began reneging on the loans, government made student loans ineligible for bankruptcy. One drag on the housing industry has been the large numbers of graduates who owe so much that they are not able to get mortgages. They move in with Mom and Dad, don't get married but they do have children. The government subsidizes unwed mothers.
We castigate greedy Wall Street, but Wall Street can't hold a candle to institutes of higher learning. Too many classes are taught by itinerant instructors that move from campus to campus teaching for meager wages without benefits, while professors retire handsomely. There was a recent article by a retired Sociology professor that recounted his perceptions. There are excessive classrooms and laboratories because neither students nor professors want to start work before 9:00 or work after 3:00, The facilities are less than 50% utilized. Administration used to account for about 20% of payroll and today it is closer to 50%. Part of the reason for this is the excessive regulations impose by government.
Colleges aren't the only culprits. Public schools are also overloaded with administrators. My speculation is that teachers who fail in the class room can't be fired, so to protect the students the under-performing teacher become part of the administration.
In the meantime 'shop' has virtually disappeared from high schools. We now have VoTech. Let me tell you of a recent family experience. One of my grandsons had perception problem that made book learning very difficult, but he was good with mechanical tasks, particularly small engines. He was denied access to a Vocational school because the classes he wanted were over-subscribed by college bound kids that wanted easy courses to improve their GPA. Naturally we now have a shortage of skilled mechanics, carpenters, electricians and plumbers. My son has a neighbor that drives his high school kids around Concord and points out the best houses. He tells them that is where my plumber lives...
Goodness gracious. That certainly enough and I really want to go to bed. I have to add, I am slightly optimistic about the future. Life is going to be difficult for a while but the nation will survive even if Obama is reelected.
Mister Veverka shows up regularly in the Letters section of our local newspapers, and in particular the Laconia (NH) Daily Sun.
For the most part I ignore Mister Veverka's leftist rants as almost everything he writes is right out of the left's talking point templates. I doubt he's had an original thought of his own in years. But it was one of his latest rants about the GOP in the March 17th edition of the Sun that goaded me into deconstructing yet another of his emotion-filled unthinking rants.
Let's get started, shall we?
Some things to consider.Ooh, I love this guy! He trashes the First Amendment as if it means nothing because he's been told it does not trump "equality under the law" and then builds a strawman argument about why anyone who believes they should not be forced to go against their religious beliefs about the sanctity of life due to an unconstitutional governmental edict is automatically a religious fanatic who wants to return us to Medieval dogma and the auto de fe. How far would he take this? Would he demand Christian Scientists abandon their faith and beliefs in the power of prayer to heal and force them to support his "beliefs" against their will? (After all, Mister Veverka's deep religious faith in the power of an oppressive government to make sure everyone is equal is no different than the very religions he besmirches.)
First, religious liberties do not trump equality under the law. If one wants to be a religious fanatic, a bigot, a sexist, or a homophobe , they can do it in their own home, church, or private affiliation. People have used religious beliefs to support wars, cruel and unusual punishments, beating children, religious oppression, slavery, miscegenation laws, segregation, anti-semitism, anti-suffrage, polygamy, homophobia, and its all a failed Medieval argument.
Basically, Mister Veverka, you have libeled and slandered those of faith who have no designs to create a theological dictatorship. They just don't want to be told by an overreaching government that they must pay for medicines and medical procedures they see as no different than murder. After reading a number of your diatribes over the past few years, it has become quite evident that you have a deep seated hatred of religion or those who profess to religious belief. Who is the intolerant one here, Mister Veverka?
Let's move on.
For a bunch of tea bags who are concerned with abortion and welfare, they sure haven't thought this one out in the slightest. If one wants fewer abortions and less welfare families, family planning, sexual health care, sex education, and contraception are the only answers. Making contraception unavailable and abortion illegal is as about an intelligent a solution as the drug war is for drug use or banning guns is to end violent crime.Here, right off the bat, he aims a sexual slur against Tea Party supporters, implying they are homosexuals. (Who's the homophobe, Mister Veverka?)
His statement also shows he is woefully ignorant about the Tea Party and what it stands for, and from earlier rants he's written, it's clear he doesn't want to. He'd rather stay within his own narrowly defined 'reality' so he can convince himself he's the only one who knows "The Truth!" If he even bothered to find out what it's all about he'd know that for the most part the Tea Party isn't interested in social issues he brings up. They just want the government to stop spending money it doesn't have on things we know don't work or is a waste of taxpayer dollars, stop passing laws and imposing regulations that do far more harm to the American public than any of the things Mister Veverka has accused the the GOP of trying to do, and for the government to stop its increasing meddling in our lives and our businesses.
If he wants fewer people on welfare, it isn't the GOP or the Tea Party (they aren't the same thing) that have trapped millions in poverty or want them to remain there. It is the government, and particularly the Democrats, starting with LBJ and his "Great Society". More people on welfare means more control by the government, something the Democrats love because it gives them a captive constituency.
He brings up that the only answers to this problem are "family planning, sexual health care, sex education, and contraception." He assumes these are the only solutions to the welfare problem. But the best way to get people off of welfare is to make it harder for them to get on it and easier for them to get jobs. But most of the programs created over the past 50 years and the rules and regulations handed down by the government have done just the opposite. And who created most of those programs and have been heavy handed in creating economy killing regulations? Hint: It's not the GOP.
To Be Continued...
I see the double standard as applied to conservatives by liberals still stands.
Rush Limbaugh calls an advocate for employer provided birth control a "slut", and the leftist media goes nuts and he loses 9 advertisers. Bill Maher calls Sarah Palin a c***, and not one word of protest is uttered by the Left, nor do his sponsors abandon him.
So by their rules, the Left and their minions are free to disparage any conservative woman, using the most offensive language. But should someone on the Right use a disparaging term that is orders of magnitude less offensive against a liberal woman, it's tantamount to rape and the tar and feathers come out.
These a**holes need to grow up.