Monday, March 30, 2009


Don't ask why, but my subject for this posting is the world's greatest toaster, for a friend in need. Is there anything more soothing in the morning than a slice of toast, jam and a hot cup of tea? Some might say toast is toast, and a toaster is just a toaster. Do not listen. They know not from where they speak.
"Show me someone who understands the complexities of toast,
and I'll show you a man of letters"
(I think Shakespeare said it first).
I read somewhere that when a Michelin star chef does a job interview, all they ask their potential sous chefs to do is cook an egg, because it is in the appreciation of what others consider banal that marks true genius. Such is the underappreciated nature of toast.
The picture above is the Dualit 4 slice toaster, known all over the world as the ultimate kitchen appliance. One might say once you have owned a Dualit, you have made it in the world. This, my friends, is the toaster craved by Miranda in Sex and the City (the princess of chic). This is the one, and let me tell you why it is worth the $170.00 (Of course you could pay more...they have a 6 slice model that is the object of Wolfgang Puck's wettest of dreams).
The bread doesn't pop up when done - rather than have one of those temperamental spring catch things, Dualit toasters have manual levers. You can set the bread to toast for the length of time you want using the time, and when it pings finished, the heater grills switch off but the bread stays put and remains warm until you go to retrieve it.
You can pick a Dualit to cook one, two, or all four slices, completely your choice. Meant for commercial use as much as anything, they are all about high capacity (up to 130 slices / hour, all nicely browned) and a long life span. But most of all, they have the widest and tallest slots available in the industry today. This will satisfy all of your breakfast desires.
So, my friend, I implore, I beg you to consider owning the best for once in your shitty little life. There will be comfort in the knowledge as you plod the endless treadmill of life, ultimately leading you nowhere, that you will be waking up to, and driving home to, the very best toaster known to man. Live a little, and stay away from the Hamilton Beachs of the world. They are mass produced pieces of crap solely designed to quiet the common man's outrage over the endless, futile struggles in life (retail price $20, available in three colors...almond, white and aluminum).
Now I feel better Sean.
If not for me you could have made the biggest mistake of your life.
Toast long, and toast hard my friend.
And if you get a little burnt, scrape it off and try, try again.


The Children’s Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act of 2009, passed in February this year, for enforcement starting April 1st, increases the Federal excise taxes on tobacco products and sets forth new permit and enforcement provisions regarding tobacco products and processed tobacco.
Not a big deal, most people these days do not smoke. Passed without a whimper. Not exactly going to spur on mass marches and demonstrations from smokers across the country, primarily due to the fact that they are smokers....and lack the lung power for a long summer walk (hello!!). The carrot on this stick is that the extra levied tax money goes to children's health insurance, which is a great cause. But it is a tax targeted towards one distinct group of people, and its very definition, discriminatory.
Apparently President Obama doesn't know about discrimination. Doesn't know what it is to be singled out because you are different, because you are out of the mainstream. Doesn't know what it is to be looked down upon. OH, he talks a good game, but at the end of the day, like the non-slave owners in our past, he will quietly go along with it as long as it doesn't effect him. Apparently equality was just a sound byte for him to get into office, because he has signed a bill that will discriminate against all users of tobacco products unfairly. And he targets a group of people who he knows are addicted, and that makes him gutless as well. You might say, long term smokers are absolute slaves to their addiction, which would tend to make our President of hope and change the largest slave owner in the history of the United States.
What are we talking about? For a pack of cigarettes, the federal excise tax goes from 39 cents up to $1.01, an increase of 258%!! This is an unprecedented and unequaled tax increase on any product.
The President has claimed that for every 10 cent increase in the price of a tobacco product, a certain percentage of smokers quit, a measurable but minimal amount. No one denies this fact. The tobacco industry not only knows it is a fact, they have already increased their pricing to make up for an anticipated drop in sales. So, they will be OK. But the majority of addicted smokers will keep consuming, and reduce their expenses another way, like in the money they spend on their children, creating a perfect circle.
If you can live with this, how about attaching the same 258% tax increase on other products, like distilled spirits, currently $2.14 on a 750ml bottle, it would be 5.35 per bottle. But every increase in tax revenue will result in a drop in drunk driving....let's not be naive. The alcohol industry would scream bloody murder, so would the restaurant industry.
So how about applying the same 258% excise tax on guns. Pistols are taxed currently at 10% of their sales price. Ammo is taxed at 11%. Let's bump this excise tax up to 27% and see what happens. We know what will happen...the Republicans will be up in arms, screaming bloody murder.
And they should be. This is an unfair and targeted taxation towards an individual group of citizens, and as such should be abolished and replaced for a fairer, across the board increase.
And that is the smoky, murky world today....the "World According to Kimba."

Thursday, March 26, 2009


Kansas Senate bill 160, which passed Wednesday in the Kansas House of Representatives, and if approved in the State Senate, will triple the wages of over 15 thousand workers in Kansas, effective January 1. That's the good news.
The bad news? As you may have guessed, it is to the state minimum wage, which currently is an abysmal $2.65 per hour. Should this bill pass, it will forever hook the states minimum wage increases to the federal level, and start at $7.65. Democrats have tried unsuccessfully for several years to raise the minimum wage and listed the effort as one of their top goals this year in the House.
There still is some resistance to the idea. "Minimum wage legislation is a bad idea. It is lousy economics. It is no economics at all. It is inflationary. It is counterproductive," said Rep. Mike Kiegerl, R-Olathe. "It hurts those it is intended to help and most of all it destroys jobs."


"You go into some of these small towns in Pennsylvania, and like a lot of small towns in the Midwest, the jobs have been gone now for 25 years and nothing’s replaced them. And they fell through the Clinton administration, and the Bush administration, and each successive administration has said that somehow these communities are gonna regenerate and they have not. So it’s not surprising then that they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations." Barack Obama
Long since spoken and backed away from in his pursuit of the Presidency, Obama's quote remains representative of our human nature in times of struggle. For many, the "hope" he was peddling has drifted away from Obama being the one to "change" the course of the country, to a much higher power. Statistics seem to indicate that for many, these tough economic times have drawn America back to simpler times; frugality, a much simpler way of living, and yes, their religion.
While the retail stores wait for customers, church pews are filling with people looking for solace during the economic downturn. Many churches and places of worship are reporting a 10 to 20% uptick in attendance in the last 12 months alone. In times of affluence and prosperity there is a tendency to be forgetful of the divine. But when a crisis hits, it is natural for people to drift toward institutionalized religion or spirituality. People are hoping to find comfort and a source of optimism. They have lost their investments, their hard-earned money and feel like they have been cheated. But they have faith that somehow whatever transpires is part of the divine grace, and indeed, a divine plan. As times worsen, the typical citizen is clinging to the hope and faith that somehow a force is controlling what they cannot. And in that hope, that the same force will see them through to better days.
As parishioners flocks increase, so do the calls for faith, hope and charity to see us through. And while most if not all charitable organizations are realizing less contributions, religious organizations are stepping in and filling the breech. Food banks, counseling, help to the homeless, and even employment assistance and credit counseling are but a few of the ways they are stepping in to help.
I am not one to proclaim the positives involved in these financial times, but I can certainly see that this country has a need to turn inward, to change their own lifestyles and habits, and if this includes a return to spirituality, so much the better.
And that is the world...."The World According to Kimba"
Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009


The picture above is TEN THOUSAND DOLLARS in $100 bills.
It is a nice small, pocket sized bundle neatly wrapped.
If you took enough of these ten thousand dollar stacks of hundreds to make
it would look like the picture below. A full pallet of bills.

The picture below is a BILLION DOLLARS.
Now we are getting somewhere.

If that is a billion dollars, imagine what a TRILLION dollars looks like (remember, we are talking about a thousand billion dollars). It looks like this picture below.

Notice that the pallets go on and on, and those pallets are double stacked.
Absolutely blows the mind doesn't it?
That is what we are talking about when President Obama and Treasury Secretary Geithner talks about when they mention a TRILLION DOLLARS.
Gives you a little perspective on the seriousness
of our current economic situation, doesn't it?

Saturday, March 21, 2009


Researched through many sources, including the collective works of Walter Williams, and George Mason University.
Imagine a country where the government regularly checks the waistlines of citizens over age 40. Anyone deemed too fat would be required to undergo diet counseling. Those who fail to lose sufficient weight could face further “reeducation” and their communities subject to stiff fines.
Is this some nightmarish dystopia?
No, this is contemporary Japan.
The Japanese government argues that it must regulate citizens’ lifestyles because it is paying their health costs. This highlights one of the greatly underappreciated dangers of “universal healthcare.” Any government that attempts to guarantee healthcare must also control its costs. The inevitable next step will be to seek to control citizens’ health and their behavior. Hence, Americans should beware that if we adopt universal healthcare, we also risk creating a “nanny state on steroids” antithetical to core American principles.
Other countries with universal healthcare are already restricting individual freedoms in the name of controlling health costs. For example, the British government has banned some television ads for eggs on the grounds that they were promoting an unhealthy lifestyle.
In 2007, New Zealand banned Richie Trezise, a Welsh submarine cable specialist, from entering the country on the grounds that his obesity would “impose significant costs … on New Zealand’s health or special education services.” Richie later lost weight and was allowed to immigrate.
Taxation as a tool to discourage unhealthy behaviors is as popular as ever. Taxation has historically been used effectively to control the consumption of alcohol and tobacco products through federal, state, and local taxes. Despite the addictive nature of tobacco products, studies indicate that tobacco consumption declines an average of 4% for every 10% increase in price. An upcoming Obama "sintax" will add $1 to the purchase of a pack of smokes, and this comes from a closet smoker, ironic at the very least. Not ironic enough for you? The very congress members given the power to regulate our collective behaviors can smoke in their congressional offices, while the general public cannot even smoke closer than 200 feet of an entrance to a public building in California.
Needless to say, the smoking nazi's have done an amazing job on curbing their control on smoking. And it has built their confidence to take on other industries as well. Clearly if one wanted to drastically reduce or eliminate public consumption of any product, one has only to tax it to the point of it not being affordable.
Building on these results, 17 states and the U.S. District of Columbia have placed specific taxes (either through sales or excise taxes) on foods and/or beverages of low nutritional value. The idea is that these taxes will provide a strong disincentive for individuals against purchasing and ingesting these products, resulting in a reduction in obesity counts. For those who still choose to purchase these products, tax revenues from sales could be used to fund healthy eating or obesity prevention campaigns. California's 7.25% sales tax on soft drinks, for example, generates about U.S. $218 million in general revenues annually.
But it won't stop there, threats of sanction or government regulation may force complete industries to self-regulate. Consider the 2006 voluntary agreement signed by soft drink giants Coca-Cola, Pepsi, and Cadbury Schweppes, to remove high-calorie sodas from schools by 2009. A 2003 lawsuit filed in California against the U.S. multi-conglomerate Kraft Foods sought to prevent the marketing and selling of Oreo brand cookies, which contained trans fats, to children in the state. The lawsuit was dropped when Kraft announced that it was working to reduce trans fat in its cookies and agreed to cease all in-school marketing.
Another bullet in the gun of the lifestyle police? Zoning laws. Local zoning laws in the U. S. can be used to create a healthier retail food market through several different themes, including (1) rezoning residential areas to restrict development to restaurants that do not serve "fast-food;" (2) providing incentives for developers to offer health food stores among commercial options; and (3) requiring fast food restaurants to offer a minimum number of healthy choices. Zoning laws can justify (1) outright bans of fast food establishments, such as San Francisco's (California) prohibition of "formula retail uses" in a historic neighborhood district, and (2) restrictions, such as the city of Detroit's (Michigan) policy that certain fast food restaurants may not be built within 500 feet of a school.
Is this crazy enough? Take a seat. Lifestyle Nazis aren’t settling on just obesity, they’re targeting meat consumption. Dr. Neal Barnard, president of Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, says, “It’s time we looked at holding the meat producers and fast-food outlets legally responsible. Meat consumption is just as dangerous to public health as tobacco use.” Doing their part to ban meat consumption, professors at law schools such as Harvard, Rutgers, and Georgetown are teaching “animal law” courses. Animals are seen as plaintiffs. Law professors are gearing up by studying old slavery statutes that authorized legal nonpersons to bring lawsuits. Possibly, before long, we might see chickens, cows, pigs, and other critters appearing as plaintiffs in court suing for crimes against animals.
It’s easy to dismiss these people “as only wanting to help” or as having only “limited goals.” Nonsense. These people want to control our behaviors, and take away our individual right to choose. Not all at once, incrementally, like they did on the tobacco industry. Confiscating rights in large chunks creates too much resistance. They started with no smoking on airplanes, to the point where you cannot smoke at all in public in Calabasas, California.
Many of us mistakenly label these people “nannies,” an inappropriate term for those who’d use the coercive, brutal powers of government to impose their values on others. More fitting labels are: tyrants, totalitarians, and yes, Nazis.

Friday, March 20, 2009


As AIG takes billions of dollars from the federal government to stay afloat, it is suing the government for millions more. AIG is trying to recover $306.1 million of taxes, interest and penalties from the Internal Revenue Service. Among other things, AIG is contesting an IRS determination last year that the company improperly claimed $61.9 million of tax credits associated with complex international transactions. AIG has also asked a court to make the government reimburse it for money spent suing the government.
Given that the government owns 79.9 percent of AIG and has been using taxpayer money to fill a seemingly bottomless hole at the company, the lawsuit might seem like a case of biting the hand that feeds it.
Because the dispute pits the government against a company that has essentially become a ward of the government, the only clear winners are likely to be lawyers. The legal expenses could consume millions of dollars, they said. Millions of our dollars, folks. Good money after bad. Pay the bonuses , incur the wrath of the American people, now sue the government that saved your corporate ass.
What's next? Congress passes the exorbitant tax structure on the bonuses and retention payouts you dished out recently, then sue the American taxpayers again? And, ultimately pay the lawyers millions and millions more of what is essentially our money, either way? I am so sick of this corporation I could vomit.

Monday, March 16, 2009


Sen. Charles Grassley is so angry over AIG bonuses that he says the executives should resign or kill themselves. In a comment aired this afternoon on WMT, an Iowa radio station, Grassley (R-Iowa) said: “The first thing that would make me feel a little bit better towards them if they’d follow the Japanese model and come before the American people and take that deep bow and say I’m sorry, and then either do one of two things — resign, or go commit suicide.”
In response to a POLITICO inquiry, Grassley spokeswoman Jill Gerber clarified Grassley’s comments, saying “clearly he was speaking rhetorically – he meant there’s no culture of shame and acceptance of responsibility for driving a company into the dirt in this country. If you asked him whether he really wants AIG executives to commit suicide, he’d say of course not.” “Point being, U.S. corporate executives are unapologetic about running their companies adrift, accepting billions of tax dollars to help, and then spending those tax dollars on travel, huge bonuses, etc,” Gerber said.

Sunday, March 15, 2009



A big hike in the federal tax on cigarettes taking effect on April 1 may prompt 1 million U.S. smokers to quit, according to public health experts. Expansion of a popular public health insurance program for lower income children is being financed by an increase in the federal excise tax on a pack of cigarettes of about $1.01 per pack, up from the current 39 cents on a $4.35 pack.
President Barack Obama signed the expansion of the State Children's Health Insurance Program on February 4. President George W. Bush had twice vetoed the bill, which also raises federal taxes on cigars and other tobacco products.
The industry is unhappy. Higher prices will lead to at least a 10 percent decline in cigarette sales and could put 117,000 people out of work, said Thomas Briant, executive director of the National Association of Tobacco Outlets. This tax increase will be the single largest tax increase on a single product in the history of the United States."
While everyone will agree that if you want consumers to stop purchasing any particular product, you can simply tax the hell out of it and make it so expensive that many people can no longer afford it. And in the case of tobacco products, raising the tax will cause a slight decrease in all cancers. Tobacco is bad for us, and large purchases of petroleum from nations who dislike us is bad for the nation. Such is the argument for tobacco and oil products, the two products with the largest taxes levied on them.
Following with this logic, may I suggest, in all fairness, some additional tax increases on other products deemed unhealthy. After all we are a free nation, and we have to be fair across the board, don't we?
MARIJUANA: currently untaxed, I propose a 40% tax on a baggie or bail.
ALCOHOL: a 25 cent increase on cans of beer, and a 10% tax increase on all other alcohol products, including wine. These products are known to cause alcoholism.
SATURATED FAT: a 25% increase on any product containing saturated fat. This product is known to cause diabetes, coronary heart issues and obesity.
BIRTH CONTROL: a 20% tax increase on all birth control products, which are known to promote promescuity.
GUNS AND BULLETS: A 50% tax increase as studiens have shown these products lead to death.
COMMUNION WAFERS: a 25% tax increase in these products as the users of these products have been proven to cause statatory rape in underage boys.
BATHTUBS: studies have shown that a majority of accidents occur in the home and many of these are slip and falls out of bathtubs. 35% tax increase.
AUTOMOBILES: studies have shown that accidents cause an alarming number of homicides involving many forms of transportation. I propose a 35% tax on all new cars, trucks, vans, SUV's....and what the hell...lets throw in skateboards, roller skates and Heelies (sneakers with wheels).
You get my point. If you want to raise taxes, raise the friggin' taxes, but do not target individual products. Let's make the taxation fair for everyone, say a 15% surtax on breathing.

Saturday, March 14, 2009


It's one thing to be smart. It's totally another thing to be intelligent. Michael Eric Dyson, my friends is VERY intelligent. He is able to articulate himself in such a way that you can't help but admire what he's saying. He has a vast knowledge of Theology, English and African American studies and utilises it to teach and influence others from hip-hop artists to students in the variety of universities he has taught in. Dyson uses the terms "Afristocracy" and "Ghettocracy" to describe a bifurcation in American black society.
He is a professor of Black Studies and Sociology at Georgetown University, a Baptist clergyman, and the author of numerous books of acclaim, his last book celebrating the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King and the effect he had on our nation, published on the 40th anniversary of his death.
The reason I bring this man up is his appearance on "Real Time with Bill Maher" last night on HBO (destined to be repeated at least five times this week). While I respect his opinions and viewpoints, he seemed to be on a mission to use every hundred dollar word he ever acquired. The result of which was having his message completely lost amid the rhetoric and pedagogy. What should have come off as clear thinking came off as mere pomposity.
After the episode, feeling somewhat disappointed by his performance (albeit very satisfied with Sarah Silverman, who also appeared on the episode), it occurred to me how ironic his verbage was. Here he was a champion of civil rights and representative of African American culture and history, and he still struggled with his own slavery of sorts. For all of his education and intelligence, he was still bound by shackles.
The shackles he fights to extricate himself from are the false and cruel bigoted age old notions that a black man will never be thought of as ultra intelligent, and can never be accepted as someone with a once in a generation mind. And so he speaks in defense of his education and standing within the academic world. He trades oratory and eloquence for linguistic ostentation. He speaks at us rather than to us. He speaks from a thesaurus rather than his heart. Pity, but I suppose we are all victims of slavery to one thing or another.
Perhaps I suffer the same malady. A chip on my shoulder over my failure to graduate from college, and prove my personal profundity, which is as yet unproven; and the failure to capitalize on a potential and measure of intelligence I was shackled with in my youth, whether a result of an accurate measurement or not.
Michael Eric Dyson remains a highly intelligent and important voice on the worlds scene today. I highly recommend doing some research on him. Here is a quote from him during a clearer moment.... "Charity is no substitute for justice. If we never challenge a social order that allows some to accumulate wealth--even if they decide to help the less fortunate--while others are short-changed, then even acts of kindness end up supporting unjust arrangements. We must never ignore the injustices that make charity necessary, or the inequalities that make it possible"

Friday, March 13, 2009


Everyone has heard the horror stories of factory closings, full scale business closings (especially in the retail sector), and overall lay offs mandated by the economic downfall we are currently experiencing, but what about the survivors? What are they doing to insure they do not become tomorrows statistic?
Many of the more benign employee cost reductions were in place long before 2009. What was once considered common place and a good business / teamwork practice, corporate events are certainly a thing of the past, lest you are in senior management for AIG. Corporate picnics, season tickets to sporting events, awards banquets and the like are all but gone; if not out of an absolute economic necessity, at least out of a public relations standpoint, with any such excess disdained by the general public.
Employee benefit packages have been trimmed back slowly but surely, and will get worse and not get any better. Corporate matching funds to 401K contributions are a thing of the past, as are incentive bonuses, at least until a definite upturn in the economy is guaranteed. Many in sales have found their corporate credit card limits reduced, as well as their commission rates.
Recent years have also demonstrated a sharp reduction in medical and dental packages, first switching to lesser grade carriers. When HR departments realized this was was not nearly savings enough, they executed an increase in the amount of contributions employees must pay each month to keep their coverages. This year has seen not only an increase in employee costs, but the hidden savings to a corporation when they raise deductibles across the board, often a silent killer of the family budget in case of emergencies. Often, the employee only sees the increase in his/her contribution rates, and not the increase in deductibles, a double hit for the corporations.
While these are having an effect on the quality of life, at least the survivors have lived to see another day of employment, with the slight reductions to their benefits packages certainly livable. But will these reductions save a company in trouble? Certainly not. For all out survival these days it takes a serious business strategy, a priorities list of initiatives which gets more severe as they go down the list.
First on every ones list is an all out hiring and wage freeze, which has taken over the business world like wildfire. "Do more with less" is the corporate mantra...."you are lucky to have a job." Next comes a good hard look at recouping all receivables, assuming the corporation you work for does business on anything other than a strictly cash basis. As companies fail, and the survivors tighten their grips on operating capital, receivables have skyrocketed. American Express' receivables became so out of control they are actually paying their riskier customers $300 to cancel their cards, and many credit card companies are silently raising interest rates to cut their losses.
Needless to say, all capital asset purchases have been put on indefinite hold, which has made a significant dent to the economic stagnation the nation is experiencing. This is a killer blow to manufacturing as corporations seek to extend the usable lives of their equipment and the like. One of the largest assets companies have is in their inventory costs, which most companies are taking a critical eye towards. The selling off of dead stock, even at a margin slashing discount can be a significant source of revenue for many companies, especially at the retail level. Many retailers have in fact, delayed the additional purchasing of new products and product lines until they can move their existing stock, an uncertain balancing act, as they risk losing sales for new items over the risk of tying up far too much operating capital in inventory.
While these are prudent steps to help an ailing business, the major dent is in its compensation, and there is no getting around it. Almost all firms have either made significant budget cuts, or have undergone "prophylactic layoffs," cuts in workforce due to the economic climate, but not absolutely necessary at the time. Along with these cuts, all intelligent corporations have undergone at least one round of workforce reductions, focusing on ridding themselves of their bottom performers. These cuts are not only financially wise, they have the least effect on over all performance of your workforce. Many management staffers find them to be a morale booster among their top performers as well who have to work harder to pick up the bottom feeders slack.
Should these cuts not be enough, corporations mull over the ultimate choice of whether to start reductions in the healthy performing employees outright through layoffs, or spreading the pain around with unpaid work furloughs.
A recent survey by Money magazine has shown that 17% of American corporations have preferred to go to unpaid furloughs rather than risking losing qualified (and well trained) personnel. Corporations have a lot invested in their human resources, both in training expense, and valuable experience. This has been the choice of most city, state and municipal employers, and especially popular with labor unions, who cannot absorb substantial measures of unemployment among their rank and file.
Should this economy get any worse, and certainly recent sales trends have indicated they might, most every American worker may experience an unpaid amount of time off as a result, if not a full and complete downsizing and loss of employment. Many companies have instituted giving their non-exempt work force 2 unpaid days off per month, and their salaried personnel one week off without pay on a bi-monthly basis. And while this definitely has an impact to their employees financial health, many companies have gone so far as offering vacation time to make up the loss of pay, at least until their vacation accrual exists to soften the blow.
Let's be clear, these economic times and future forecasts have demanded management to respond; some proactively, most reactively. And while most are loathe to take the actions necessary and reduce their staffing, the numbers do not lie. The biggest bang for the buck is in reducing compensation in order to maintain a prudent level of operating capital, which they will need when this mess turns around. For us in the American workforce, all we can do is hang on and produce as much as we can. And if all your corporation does is reduce your benefits, and demands some unpaid leave via a furlough, thank them. They are merely trying desperately to keep the employees they have on the payroll and keep their performers somewhat gainfully employed.

Monday, March 9, 2009


In 2010, assuming we begin an economic recovery, President Obama's budget will restore the top two marginal income tax rates to their 1990s levels of 36% and 39.6% for individuals earning more than $200,000 and couples earning more than $250,000. These changes will affect only the top 3% of taxpayers, the group that has enjoyed the largest gains in income and wealth over the last decade. In addition, for these taxpayers the tax rate on capital gains will increase to 20%, the lowest rate in the 1990s and the rate President Bush proposed in 2001, and the tax rate on dividends will increase to 20%, a rate lower than the rate of the 1990s and nearly 40% lower than that proposed by President Bush in 2001.
Critics charge that President Obama's tax rates for high-income earners will strangle small business and stifle economic growth. Such claims are misguided or disingenuous. A full 97% of small businesses will see their rates unchanged or enjoy additional tax benefits under the Obama plan. And the strong expansion of the 1900s proves that the tax rates on income, capital gains and dividends in the Obama budget will support rapid economic growth and substantial income gains at the top. Moreover, the higher tax revenues resulting from these rates will reduce the deficit by about $750 billion, bringing it down to an average of 3.9% of GDP over the next 10 years and to 3.1% of GDP by the end of the decade. This compares to an average deficit of 3.6% of GDP between 1982 and 1997, when the Dow Jones Industrial Average increased by 835%.
In addition, the president proposes to limit the deductions for dependents, charitable contributions and other expenses to 28%, the top rate for such deductions under Ronald Reagan. Some critics claim this is class warfare. But why should a family in a higher tax bracket get a bigger break on expenses than a middle-class family? And restoring this limit to its Reagan level will raise enough revenue to cover about half of the $634 billion reserve President Obama needs to finance health-care reform with the other half coming from savings in health spending. These savings include competitive bidding in order to reduce Medicare payments to private insurance plans, increasing the Medicaid rebate for brand-name drugs, and strengthening Medicare pay-for-performance incentives for hospitals.
The president's budget is progressive and ambitious. It will not, however, explode the size of government as some critics warn. If the economy recovers as projected, over the next decade taxes as a share of GDP at around 19% will be lower than they were during the second half of the 1990s, government spending as a share of GDP at around 22.5% will be about where it was under Reagan, and nondefense discretionary spending at around 3.6% of GDP will fall to its lowest level since that data was first collected in 1962.
The real risk lies in the possibility that the economy's recovery starts later and is much weaker than the economic assumptions in the budget. In this case, by no means remote, President Obama will have to adjust his plans while remaining true to his values. In a very few days in office, he has already demonstrated that he has the leadership skills to rise to the challenge.

Sunday, March 8, 2009


Yo Yos are a very efficient way of generating power, and iPhones don't really need all that much power to charge. So what's the problem with this idea? I'd even say that it's several times cooler, more convenient, and better for the environment than a solar powered charger. What remains to be seen is whether or not you can actually get enough power out of one of these things to charge your phone easily.

This piggy-bank-style device (called the "Power Hog"), aims to teach children about energy cost and conservation. The tail plugs into an outlet and any electronic device like a video game console or TV, plugs into the snout. Children deposit coins into the hog, which grants them 30 minutes of use. The dollar signs on the side of the Power Hog turn green when electricity is available and flash red when the time is running out. The coins are kept inside just like a piggy bank, so children are learning about the cost of electricity and about saving money.The Power Hog is marketed to parents who want to teach their children that electricity isn't a free, never-ending resource as well as those who want a clever way to limit TV time. The product is made from recycled materials and is 100 percent recyclable itself.
This is from Soliant Energy, a solar power unit that is produced at half the cost. The reason? Silicon is expensive these days, and traditional solar panels need a lot of it to convert light to energy. But two of the great opportunities for expansion in solar is using less silicon, by concentrating light on smaller panels, and increasing efficiency by tilting panels to follow the sun. These roof-mounted units created by Soliant Energy do both of those things, with no external power equipment necessary. The item above is called the 'heliotube.' It's a tube of glass that concentrates the sun's rays onto a very thin strip of silicon solar panels at the base of the tube. The tube is then connected to a frame in blocks, and the frame uses the power coming off the panel to tilt the tubes to track the sun. These panels use 88% less photovoltaic material, but are almost as efficient per square foot as traditional solar panels.

This is Hulu. It is a web site that will let you watch a ton of TV shows and movies, etc. at any time you want. Best yet, it gives you the option to watch a two minute commercial before viewing your selection, and watching everything else commercial free. Commercial free....I mean totally free. I am rapidly becoming a Hulu freak. This is obviously the wave of the future of television viewing. No more TV Guide, no more DVR recordings, complete freedom. And since today's entertainment does not compare to earlier television (at least in my eyes), I would much rather pick off a repeat from the past than watch whatever pablum they are showing today (with rare exceptions). I highly recommend Studio 60 Live on the Sunset strip (one of the most unappreciated shows ever in television history in my opinion...and a classic Aaron Sorkin production). One West Wing episodes.

This is the GigaPan, a computer you hook up to any compatible camera, and you can take amazing high resolution panoramic pictures. Click on this link, and zoom in. You can practically read the bands sheet music. Cost? $400.00.

Just five examples of American technology that can infuse the economy. None of them are earth shattering, but certainly examples of how we will bust our way out of our current economic doldrums, and five examples of why we need to focus our educational system on math and science if we are to stay ahead of the game.

Friday, March 6, 2009


The answer is simple. Every couple (any adult couple, straight or gay) is eligible for a civil union, which will be a legal contract issued by the state governments and will include all 1,049 legal benefits now enjoyed only by heterosexual married couples (1,049 as listed by the GAO in 1997).
Those wishing to get "married" before their God are perfectly free to do so, under the rules and restrictions of their particular religion and place of worship. These "marriages" will be deemed religious ceremonies, and as such, not recognized by the federal or state governments, any more than a briss or baptism carries any particular legal standing. Separation of church and state.
Under these rules, government agencies will no longer be issuing so called "marriage licenses," which were misnamed anyway. They were simply permission to enter into a civil union.
Those of a religious bent seem to revere the term "marriage." They can still do so without worrying about gays being "married." Gay couples will be proclaimed as legally entering into a civil union, just as their straight counterparts, and perfectly free to look for religious organisations who will facilitate a ceremony for them to proclaim their mutual love and devotion before God.


It seems a very clever Mexican drug dealer had found a perfect way to transport his cash crop into and around Texas. He cloned Texas Department of Transportation pick-up trucks and used them to build his business.
When authorities pulled over one of the trucks for a traffic violation, they found the latest shipment. But that wasn't the most disheartening part. Through investigations, they located the dealers Mexican home, and found the pictures above and below, proof positive that there are huge financial potentials for the raising of money in the drug industry.
We are in the middle of three wars at present, and the war on drugs is a absolute failure. Will we ever get to the point that we realize that the money and tax revenue we are not only losing, but shipping abroad is astronomical? I cannot see legalizing alcohol and tobacco, but not legalizing marijuana. I can't imagine being unemployed, on food stamps and completely without hope, then seeing pictures of complete rooms full of American dollars.


Are we making too much of the foreclosure markets, and not nearly enough on the unemployment figures? Of course, for many, these go hand in hand, however, the maps above suggest that the foreclosure densities are primarily focused on the southwest and southeast portions of the nation, and could be attacked from a state level.
A new study takes issue with the media narrative that foreclosures are dangerously widespread. The paper’s authors, William Lucy and Jeff Herlitz at the University of Virginia, examined foreclosure rates in every state, 35 metropolitan areas and 236 counties, and they found that 62 percent of foreclosures in 2008 were in the four states mentioned above.
California in particular was responsible for a disproportionately high number of foreclosures. The state may have had only 10 percent of the nation’s housing units, but it had 34 percent of the nation’s foreclosures in 2008. (Nevada, however, had the highest foreclosure rate, as you’ll see in the map below.)
California was especially vulnerable, the authors wrote, because the homes that its residents bought were quite expensive compared with their incomes.
The median value of owner-occupied housing in 2007 was 8.3 times median family income, the authors found, while the 2007 national average was 3.2. Housing costs relative to incomes were especially high in the Los Angeles metropolitan area, “where more than 20 percent of mortgage holders in each county were paying at least 50 percent of their income in housing related costs,” the authors wrote.
The huge run-up in housing prices in California created opportunities for large gains for home buyers if price increases continued. Thus, more households may have been attracted to potential gains, worried, perhaps, that they would be priced out of the home buying market if they did not act quickly. Some lenders (Countrywide) specializing in subprime, no principal, interest only, and no income check loans got their start in California and focused there.
Perhaps Proposition 13 was influential. Because Proposition 13 limited property tax increases to one and one-half percent per year, home buyers could buy with a low interest ARM, perhaps interest only, for two or more years, pay little more in property taxes in the second and third years as their property value increased, and sell at a substantial profit in two or three years before the reset ARM higher interest rate became too burdensome—an attractive opportunity for some young buyers anticipating moving.
The Obama administration's proposed foreclosure prevention program sets a target of households spending between 31 percent and 38 percent of their income on housing-related expenses. The program will try to prevent foreclosures in residences where Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have purchased the mortgages by permitting downward adjustments to mortgage rates, to where the value of mortgages is not more than 105 percent of the houses' value, which will certainly leave California, if not literally out in the cold, largely un helped by the proposals by the Obama administration, because of the dramatic downturn in home values experienced over the past two to three years.
Timing is everything in life. And if consumers made unwise home purchases at the top of the market swing, we simply cannot help them. Part of the freedoms we enjoy is the freedom to fail, and obviously, in thinking the real estate bubble would continue long enough for them to profitize it into 2010 and beyond was a failing proposition.
For me, as socialistic as I am, I cannot fathom how we can, or should help these consumers, except to continue to insure they can find gainful employment. To help them through what is now realized as faltering investment practises and hopes (as we continue to do for the banking / insurance industry), along with extremely unethical joint practices between the consumer and finance industries, is a recipe for disaster for our economy. And, as loathe as I am to admit it, we simply must let the housing industry run its course unabated to its inevitable conclusion. I am afraid our motto must be caveat emptor: let the buyer beware, lest the greedy among us will capitalize on the unfortunate unawares.
As for the government, I think their focus should be on refinancing any loan possible to a fixed rate, currently under 5% almost everywhere (and 4.5% with a qualifying FICO score), the creation of jobs--all job sectors, not just "green" jobs, and a look into the astronomic rise in credit card interest rates, as credit card companies run scared that their customers will be unable to pay off balances. And stop watching the stock market ticker. it would be more beneficial to watch the bond market.
But the Obama administration must spend every day looking at the unemployment figures. Every day. We have lost 4.4 million jobs since December of 2007. 655,000 in January and 651,000 in February. That is over 2.5 million in the last 4 months alone. Highest unemployment rates in 25 years, 8.1 percent. And if you add in the underemployed (part time workers desperately needing full time status), and people giving up on looking for work, the rate jumps up to 14.8% of the American workforce. Is this staggering enough? How about this....31.8 million people are currently on food stamps. Lord how many else need them, but are too proud to take them.
Save their houses? How can we do that if they are unemployed and unable to so much as afford food? The Obama administration needs to think jobs first. Everything else must take a back seat to creating jobs, or this downward economic spiral will end in us all living........ in our automobiles back seats.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009


During the great depression, Adolf Hitler blamed the Jews and the "New Jew Order" for the economic collapse. And as ridiculous as that seems, many Europeans bought into it. Now that many generations have passed since that horrific time, are we passed that ignorant rationale as a civilized world? Not so fast.
The Anti-Defamation League said recently that a survey it commissioned found nearly a third of Europeans polled blame Jews for the global economic meltdown and that a greater number think Jews have too much power in the business world. The organization, which says its aim is “to stop the defamation of Jewish people and secure justice and fair treatment to all,” says the seven-nation survey confirms that anti-Semitism remains strong. The poll included interviews with 3,500 people - 500 each in Austria, Britain, France, Germany, Hungary, Poland, Spain.
It says that in Spain, 74 percent of those asked say they feel it is “probably true” that Jews hold too much sway over the global financial markets. That is the highest percentage in the survey. Nearly two-thirds of Spanish respondents said Jews were more loyal to Israel than they were to their home countries.
In Britain last year, 50% surveyed thought British Jews more loyal to Israel than the UK. At the same time, 31% of Americans thought the same about American Jews.
The survey found that so-called “business anti-Semitism” has grown by 5% in France, 6% in Poland and 7% in Hungary since 2007. Only Britain can boast of a decrease in xenophobic and anti-Semitic moods, while the other six countries maintain this trend or have witnessed an escalation of ethnic enmity.
Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director, said: "We know from modern history that whenever there is a downturn in the global economy, there will be an upturn in the level of anti-Semitism and bigotry, and that is what we are seeing now."
Anti-Semitic stereotypes are nothing new for Europe, but what strikes the most is that the meltdown has not entered its worse phase so far, which automatically means that xenophobic sentiments will grow even stronger.
With a deflated Wall Street begging for a lifeline from Washington, small businesses across the country unable to secure needed loans, and average Americans being turned away by mortgage banks, many people are looking for a scapegoat.
“The age-old canards about Jews and money are always just beneath the surface. As we witnessed after 9/11, whenever there is trouble or uncertainty in the economy or world events, Jews become the scapegoats, and ugly anti-Semitic canards are given new life,” Foxman said in a statement.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009


Thanks to Media Matters.
"We are being told that we have to hope he succeeds, that we have to bend over, grab the ankles, bend over forward, backward, whichever, because his father was black, because this is the first black president." Obama's "only chance of winning" the presidency "is that he's black."
"If Barack Obama were Caucasian, they would have taken this guy out on the basis of pure ignorance long ago."
Democrats "want to get us out of Iraq, but they can't wait to get us into Darfur." He continued: "There are two reasons. What color is the skin of the people in Darfur? It's black. And who do the Democrats really need to keep voting for them? If they lose a significant percentage of this voting bloc, they're in trouble."
Responding to a Reuters report on a University of Chicago study that found that "a majority of young blacks feel alienated form today's government," He asserted on February 5, 2007: "Why would that be? The government's been taking care of them their whole lives."
My "cat's taught me more about women, than anything my whole life" because his pet cat "comes to me when she wants to be fed," and "[s]he's smart enough to know she can't feed herself. She's actually [a] very smart cat. She gets loved. She gets adoration. She gets petted. She gets fed. And she doesn't have to do anything for it."
Discussing the CBS reality TV program, Survivor, in which contestants were originally divided into competing "tribes" by ethnicity, he stated that the contest was "not going to be fair if there's a lot of water events" and suggested that "blacks can't swim." He stated that "our early money" is on "the Hispanic tribe" -- which he said could include "a Cuban," "a Nicaraguan," or "a Mexican or two" -- provided they don't "start fighting for supremacy amongst themselves." He added that Hispanics have "probably shown the most survival tactics," that they "have shown a remarkable ability to cross borders," and that they can "do it without water for a long time, they don't get apprehended, and they will do things other people won't do."
Following the disclosure of detainee abuse at Abu Ghraib, he claimed in 2004 that the U.S. military personnel involved were just "having a good time," and that their actions served as an "emotional release." He called the abuse "hazing," referred to it as "an out-of-control fraternity prank," and agreed with a caller that the abuse "was like a college fraternity prank."
On his TV show, early in the Clinton administration, he put up a picture of Socks, the White House cat, and asked, "Did you know there's a White House dog?" Then he put up a picture of Chelsea Clinton, who was 13 years old at the time.
And now the latest:
"I hope the President fails" If it means his socialistic methods are not vindicated, I hope the president fails"
"The President has no interest in stopping this economic collapse"
GOP leader Michael Steele: "He is a conservative leader"

Sunday, March 1, 2009


Barack Obama, in a speech this week: "We sent our troops to Iraq to do away with Saddam Hussein's regime -- and you got the job done. We kept our troops in Iraq to help establish a sovereign government -- and you got the job done. And we will leave the Iraqi people with a hard-earned opportunity to live a better life -- that is your achievement; that is the prospect that you have made possible."
The question is, were these comments spoken to give justification of his Iraq withdrawal date of August 2010, or was he declaring at least one of the Bush policies a success in Iraq? These comments were especially infuriating to the liberal base of his party, because it showed he was right and they wrong. Many in Washington have not yet admitted that, even to themselves. Mr. Obama seems to have. We know he has because he has elected to keep Mr. Bush's secretary of defense -- not something you do with a failure.
Not to mention, it brings those pesky campaign quotes to the forefront, which were the only true issue that separated himself from his opponent Hillary Rodham Clinton. Arguably, without this issue, the election may have, indeed would have, turned out much, much different.
Barack Obama, speaking of the Bush "surge," said he was "not persuaded that 20,000 additional troops in Iraq are going to solve the sectarian violence there. In fact, I think it will do the reverse." Three months after that, before the surge had even started, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid pronounced the war in Iraq "lost."
No matter how President Obama feels about the war ("a war that never should have been waged, and never authorized"), he seems to be taking the tact that for whatever his mistakes in Iraq were, George W. Bush's "surge" was a lonely call that has proven to be right; especially worrisome for some on the left, who believe the Bush era must be repudiated with prosecutions and a return to the pre-9/11 status quo. For those democratic leaders, the only solace was, at least Obama did not utter the words on a battle carrier, in front of a "mission accomplished" banner.
Of course the GOP came out of their shorts in praise for the Obama Iraqi reduction strategy, with his promise to leave 50,000 residual forces as well. And why not? Not only has he moved right on his Iraqi strategies, he has given Boehner and the rest quite a few sound bites to repeat over and over in 2012.