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Saturday, September 24, 2011

MONEY: Spending Your Money Wisely

       I think everybody gets ripped off at sometime in life.   When we do it to ourselves it is one of the ones that hurts the most.  Over the years it has happened to me more than a few times.  Sometimes it was when my reasoning and logic failed to take in all the factors.  A couple of examples come to mind, mainly cause they still irk me even after twenty to thirty years.
      After leaving the service my wife and I bought and old fixer upper that was within our budget and we could easily afford the payment on one of our incomes.  More about that later.  Anyhow as it was an old house a lot of the rooms, especially upstairs,  had very few plug ins. In fact many of the rooms did not even have light switches.  The house had turn of the century two strand wiring which we failed to notice.  It even had the old screw in glass fuses in the electric box.  We learnt a lot buying that house.  Like learning if the seller is friends with realtor and the banker.  They might be helping her get out from under a loan she could not afford.  It may well be at your expense. Get an inspector to check out the house.  It could save you a lot of work and tons of money.  Anyhow, to avoid stringing extension cords all through the house I bought  a fitting to screw into the light fixture.  It was one that had room for two plugs and a pull chain for the light.  When one of them went bad I went to Wal-Mart and decided to purchase it there.  After Wal-Mart I was going across town to a smaller chain store.   However using the infinite logic of a college level freshman it seemed safe for me to assume, which is a dangerous thing to do,  that the big national chain would be cheaper.   Upon arriving at the local chain store that illusion was quickly shattered.   The fixture cost half the price at the local store that it did at Wal-Mart.  The lesson learned was that big chains make their money by giving you a discount on the necessities of life and bend you over on the stuff you buy only once in a while.  Cheap as I was at the time I bought the fixture at the local store and took the more expensive one back to Wal-Mart and got a refund.  This has happened several times over the years and it burns me each time it happens that I am stupid enough to fall for it.
     It is not my intention to pick on Wal-Mart but they are a chain most people deal with, at least in the United States.  If you are economically well off enough that you do not go to Wal-Mart this article may still teach you something before it is through.  Another day in Wal-Mart I noticed that when it came to buying sugar there was a pricing problem.  Simple math told me that two five pound bags were almost fifty cents cheaper than one ten pound bag.  I pointed the matter out to about ten different people.  Only about three out of the ten put the ten pound bag back and got two five pound bags. Lesson learned was that bigger is not always cheaper.  What is fifty cents to an individual?  Not much really, but if you buy ten pounds a week you would be spending twenty six dollars a year that you could have saved.  When you add that up by the thousands of customers and thousands of stores it turns into big money for Wal-Mart.  The same pricing techniques are used in the meat department and in cereals.  Other departments use the same tactics I imagine.  These are things that people buy everyday or at least every week.  It is little things like this that help the big chain become the big chain.
     Later in my college career I took a mandatory class in Personal Financial Management.  Being thirty-two when I started college and having been married for eight years I was sure this class would be a waste of time for me.  It turned out to be one of the most valuable classes I took in my four years of going to college.  The class taught how to figure interest, how to read a stock report, and how to plan a budget.  The two excercises that taught me most though were about things that I was sure I already knew.   The first one was an excercise where we had to go to at least three different grocery stores and price fifty different items.  Then we had to figure out what the lowest price was for the items.  What the highest price was and finally what the price was if we bought all the items at one store.  It really shocked me.  Buying only the lowest priced items totaled about seventy-seven dollars.  If you bought only the highest priced items the bill would have been about one hundred and forty-five dollars.  However when you bought all the items at one store the price aveaged between one hundred fifteen and one hundred and twenty-four dollars.  It taught me that it paid to shop. It is easier than it sounds.  Most of the stores send out weekly adds with the local papers.  Some items may not be on the advertisements but a quick trip around the stores can save quite a bit of money.
      A couple of other minor bits of advice.  Always shop with a list and stick to it.  Only make exceptions for necessity items.  Also after you get all the prices go somewhere cheap and eat something.  While eating go over your list and plan what you get where.  Not being hungry helps stop impulse buying.
      Getting back on track.  Just based on my experience it would be possible to save as much as nineteen hundred and seventy-six dollars per year by paying attention to detail.  Sure it takes a little longer but how many hours do you work for those nineteen hundred and some dollars.  If your pay is fifteen dollars an hour that would work out to about one hundred and thirty-one hours.  That is three weeks worth of pay that you can spend on yourself.  Even if you spend an hour a week checking prices you still save a couple weeks worth of pay.  Use some coupons save even more.  You can put your savings in the bank and build a fund to protect yourself in case you are laid off.  The choices are yours to make.
      Another excercise we had to do was to price twenty five items we might need at some point.  The list included things like Appliances, TV's, Stereos, Furniture, Tools or other items we felt were important to the average person.  Computers were not even on the market, along with microwaves, cell phones and many of the other things we consider necessity items today.  It again showed me that careful shopping could save a lot of money.  Money not spent is money you have for other items.  This concept is even more important to someone living on minimum wage.  While it represented one hundred and thirty-one hours for the person making fifteen dollars and hour.  Which is just over three weeks pay.   The person on a minimum wage of around eight dollars an hour would pay two hundred and forty-seven hours of his or her pay.   Based on a forty hour work week that would be over six weeks worth of pay.  This is a perfect example of why having a budget is so important.
     This does not solve all of the financial problems for the average person, but it certainly can help make life a little easier and more enjoyable.  Another question we addressed in class was if both parties in a marriage should work outside the home.  If the one spouse stayed at home and the family gave up the second car.  The savings with a few other minor adjustments, like maybe having a garden in season, made it the more practical way to go.  The savings on day care if children were involved and the stay at home partner managing the shopping looking for the bargains.  It often worked out that a stay at home spouse made for a better family situation.  I did not say it had to be the wife at home.  Even back then sometimes it was obvious the wife would be the bread winner for the family.  Most men back then were to chauvanistic to accept that arrangement though.  During the course of my sixty five years I have seen some couples get by on one minimum wage salary.  In the same period of time I have seen families with two large incomes go belly up.  The well to do couples got buried by what I call stuffitis.  Trying to keep all the toys took them down.
      The point is that regardless if single or married managing your money is a wise thing to do.  How you handle your finances will determine if life is something to be enjoyed or a burden to bear.  Life is short so I recommend paying attention and enjoying it.  The best way to do that is share it with others.  That is why this nation used to be so blessed.  It is summed up in one verse from the Bible that says it all.
      Malachi 3:10  "Bring ye all the tithes and offerings into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me(test me) now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to recieve it."
     America had all those blessings but we are falling away from them fast.  If you want to see where America was and where it is going I challenge you to read one chapter out of the Bible.  It is about the Blessings and Cursings that come from God.  Then you decide where America is at.  It is the 28th Chapter of Deuteronomy.  I will leave it at that.  It has worked in my life. It works on the personal and on the national level.  I am not trying to preach I am just trying to give a standard to measure America against and beings America calls itself a Christian nation.  It seems the Bible would be a good source to measure it against.
                                                         

Friday, September 23, 2011

MONEY: Live One Month A Year For Free

      Saving a house payment a year might sound hard, but it is really just learning to do things a little smarter.  This idea is really simple, but it is little things like this that add up over a years time.  Some people will say I do not need to go through all that to save a few dollars.  Well it is each individuals choice to live how they see fit.  This sounds simple and if you think about it, it is.   Most people work fifty weeks a year.  Five days a week.  That works out to 250 days a year.  Yes some people get paid holidays.  However there are many jobs that do not pay for holidays. Here is how to save money for your holiday or a house payment.  Whichever would make you happier.  Most people drink pop or water at work and buy it out of the vending machine.  There is a much cheaper way to do so.  All it takes is a little planning on your part.  I am not asking you to give up your soda or pop, whichever you call it. 

      Being honest I did not figure this all out myself.   A friend of mine showed me how to do it and I must say he also taught me the meaning of penny wise and pound foolish.   He spends most of his time thinking of ways to save on everyday purchases, but when it comes to bigger stuff like cars he is totally wasteful.  It is not because he is wasteful, but because he can fix it himself.  He would rather fix something than buy a newer one which might save him gas and money, but not time.  Time which could be spent driving it, or with his family,  instead of fixing it.  We all have to figure which is more important to us time or money.

     Sorry for getting side tracked but here goes.  Hope I can explain it well enough.   If you buy three pops a day for the 250 days you work, you will spend roughly $1125.00 dollars a year.   That is based on a $1.50 vending machine price for a twenty ounce bottle.   If you were to buy a two liter bottle at the store which averages around $1.89 where I live and pour that big bottle into a twenty ounce bottle you save about about $2.61 cents a day.  Actually you would save a little more because a two liter bottle actually holds about 3 and a half twenty ounce bottles.  You say it will get hot well put it in a small cooler you bring from home with ice you freeze yourself and put it in a glass.  The hot problem is solved.  If you put the cap back on good and tight it should not go flat.  That simple act saves you based on the $2.61 a day the sum of $652.50 a year.  Now I do not know how much your house payment is, but I based it on mine which is $599 a month.  So it is possible to save more and actually drink an extra half bottle of pop a day.   Or if you choose to maximize the savings and carry the half bottle forward to the next day the savings would go up to $787.51 dollars a year.

     This works for the person who drinks water also.  Unless your home water is horrible, taking a gallon or so to work every day could save you $750.00 dollars a year.   That is if the water in the machine at work is just a $1.00 dollar a bottle.  When you add to this the money you can save buy brown bagging your lunch (fixing it at home and carrying it in)  You can probably save twice as much.   I am not a total grinch.  However if you go to a pizza buffet and it is almost $7.00 with the drink figured in how much pizza can you eat?  I usually go to Taco Bell and get their $2.00 Dollar Meal Deal off  the menu.  For just $2.00 you get a drink, a bag of Doritos and your main entree, which for me is the five layer burrito.  If I am really hungry I can get a second burrito for just $1.27 dollars more. 

      The same process can be applied to loosing weight.      It helped me loose 90 pounds without even trying and without really suffering in the process.  It required no excercise.  It really works and it is really simple.  You just eat smaller servings.  My daughter called it "The Way Down Diet."   The idea is to just learn to eat smaller servings as you go along.  What I like about it is that you do not count calories or give up your favorite foods.  You do have to pay attention to what you are eating and not eat anything after 7 PM.   That is probably the rule I have  the biggest problem with.  You learn to eat smaller meals and to eat more often.  It helps keep your system in the digestive mode.  Every one knows how much or what they eat.  The first thing to give up is the second plate or second helping.  If you say I can not do that.  Well you are not ready to lose weight.   If you seriously want to lose you will have to make some changes.   This diet is the easiest one I ever tried and it works.  I do try to eat less bread and pasta, but other than that I did not change what I eat.  I just eat a little less.  Instead of two big scoops of spaghetti I get one and a half and after a few months I found I could get by with one scoop.  The thing I noticed is that by limiting myself a little I enjoyed what I do eat more.  As you can see I did not totally eliminate pasta, just cut back on it.

      Almost anyone can adapt this program to their needs.   You can save some money and maybe loose a couple pounds in the process.  It is the little things that bleed us dry and we do not realize it.   To really get ahead it helps to plan an overall budget.  However before you try to budget spend a month or two keeping track of every penny you spend.  If you write it all down you will start to see where the waste is.  Do you need a new magazine or a new music CD.  Why not wait for a friend or family member to give you their old one.  How about spending some time at the library reading.  Then you do not have to pick it up and move it to dust or pay to have it hauled away as trash.  You can get really creative in saving money.  The first thing and most important though is that you need to know where what you do get is going.  The key to any good program is staying focused and paying attention to the little details.  I have been debt free two or three times in my life, but it is easy to get back into debt.  All debt is not bad.  However you need to be the one in charge of your finances and not your creditors.  Every dollar you borrow or owe means you now have to make two dollars.  You have to make one for the creditor and you still need one to live on.  Eliminating your debt will make life much easier and more enjoyable.  The key as I said is staying focused on your goals.  Good luck hope this helps someone.  If you like this page let me know and I can do more.  If you do not let me know and I will put my efforts to better use.  Thanks for taking the time to read it though..

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The Postal, Postal System!... A Symptom? or A Sign?

    
    It seems the ship of state is sinking fast and no one seems to know how to plug the hole and get it sailing again.  The steady bleeding of jobs is taking its toll.  Everybody knows the problem but nobody seems to have an effective solution.  If it is not fixed soon it could drag us into another Great Depression.  In the first one the market fell 89% from its all time high.  A comparable fall today would mean a bottom of 1564 points.  This article addresses the problems and offers a workable solution.  If Congress continues to fail to come up with a sound solution it could be a long and painful fall.  The housing market will continue to fall and as more people lose their unemployment income it may even escalate.  The Fed is certainly not offering any workable solutions.   Mine may not be liked but at least it is one.  Got a better one lets hear it.

   Further proof of the problem showed up on the television this morning.  The U.S. Postal Service is in danger of going out of business.  Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution requires the government to establish and manage a Postal System.  It also requires the posting of Roads.  Does that mean making roads or just posting signs so people know where they are going.  I am not sure on that one, but I am sure that the Founding Fathers meant for the government to meet these obligations in perpetuity.  So maybe if we look a little harder at the Constitution we might find the answers to our problems are in there.  Let me start with showing how the Postal System and Posting Roads are good/bad signs of the problem.  One thing is certain if the ship of state continues on its present course it will soon pass the point where it can be salvaged.  Based on polls even the average citizen understands this.

    Their seems to be several problems with the system.  It is mainly a failure of Congressional oversight.  Unsound business practices also are contributing to the problem.  It is not a labor problem, though Congress would like to blame the problems on labor.  There are a lot of factors contributing to the growing shortfall of the system.   Some blame it on competition, the sudden growth of the internet and even the social media explosion.    They keep raising and raising rates and yet service is not improved.  The question is, is the Postal Service doing what it was designed to do?  It was designed to deliver the mail.  It was not required to deliver mail to homes.  This can be proven because in many small communities you have to go to the Post Office and pick up your mail.  In the news clip I just watched the Postal Service wants to not only reduce service by eliminating Saturday delivery, but also close 3700 locations and lay off as many as 120,000 jobs.   That I am sure will not help the economy out of its problems.  Those actions do not address the problems at all.  Cutting back is sometimes required to help a business stay in business.  The first thing that should be looked at though is the operational goals and getting rid of things that do not contribute to that goal.  The proposed cuts certainly will not help them produce the 5.5 Billion dollars that they are saying they will not be able to pay.  How about addressing the real problems.  The Postal Service is being totally mismanaged and it is not using todays technologies to help solve the problem;  The Problems are really pretty simple to fix.  Yet when dealing with government nothing is simple.

       Actually the Postal System problems are a reflection of the whole problem of government.  The system is not working because it is doing what politicians want it to do.  That is not necessarily what the Constitution instructed them to do.  As I said earlier Article1 Section 8 outlines the obligations of the government.  The Post Office does not come up till paragraph 7.  The first paragraph of section 8 gives Congress not only the power but the responsibility to collect Taxes, Duties, Imports and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common defence and general Welfare of the United States.   If all of this is in the first paragraph it all must have had equal importance in their eyes.  The question is what is the general Welfare?  Having read many of Paine, Franklin and Jeffersons writings they all felt the state had a responsibility to take care of the elderly, disabled, veterans and those in need.  Many politicians argue against that view.  If one looks at the providing for the welfare of your family. It includes providing shelter, food, protection, education, health and  a means or way to get to and from where they need to be and go, even if it is just to the outhouse.  It is a duty of the parent and leader of a family.  The same should hold true for the state.  As our infrastructure collapses around us it is clear that our leadership has not and is not providing even these basic necessities.   In fact what does America have to show for its great mountain of debt.  Not a fuctional government that is for sure.

        It is time to create a new tax that the Federal Government gets none of and which goes directly to the states in which it is collected and spent strictly to repair the infrastructure.  That will create jobs and put the country back on a sound footing.  There is an old business axiom you have to spend money to make money.  So far the government has mastered spending but not the making or creating money.  Building and rebuilding infrastructure will create jobs and stimulate the economy by buying materials for the work being done, which create taxes for the government.  It needs to be a permanent program as infrastructure is an ongoing issue.  It is not a one time thing.  The key is keeping the money out of the hands of the Fed.  The only role the Fed should have is oversight to make sure the states are in fact spending the money only on infrastructure and using it to fill gaps and pay salaries. The states are not much better than the Fed when it comes to spending money.

         My solution advocates for a $1.00 a gallon gas tax dedicated just to that purpose.  You say that is unfair.  At least a person could feel something they pay is going to help America.  It would help reduce our dependence of foreign oil.  It would also show the world America is serious about fixing our problems.  It also would inspire people to get out of their twelve mile per gallon truck and demand not only power, but economy also.  More people might be inspired to get a forty mile per gallon car.  That will not only cut your tax obligation, it will again help reduce America's dependence on foreign oil.  If you have to have the twelve mile per gallon vehicle for work add the costs in your contracts.  Making the tax apply only to gas, and not diesel which is used by farmers and commercial truckers, should avoid any inflationary charges for food and transportation costs.

        The Congress will no longer have to deal with this issue.  That alone should save Americans money.  Then Congress can focus on undoing the mess they have made and start getting the tax system in order.  They need to get rid of all special deductions and loopholes and make it fair across the board for every American citizen.  No breaks for big business or the rich.  The currently proposed plan to cut one and a half trillion dollars is a drop in the bucket.  America spends 1.2 Billion dollars per day in interest on the national debt.  Over the ten years they are proposing to cut one and a half trillion in debt, the interest on the national debt alone will accumulate another 4.38 Trillion dollars of debt.  So America will be at least 2.88 Trillion more in debt than when they started the ten years.   That is providing everything goes as planned and there are no more setbacks.

       To show the total incompetence within the present government.   The argument is being made that the system is unfair and that China needs to lower the value of their money.  If that happens several other things will happen.  The value of the dollar will go up.  That is good.  No that is bad.  That means American products cost more overseas and we will be less competitive in foreign markets.  Also we will have to pay China wih more valuable dollars on all the debt we owe them.  Finally lowering their money makes their products more competitive with America's products.  They want to cut something, cut their own pay build shower rooms and bedrooms in all their offices and send them home nine months out of the year.  That is how Congress started out.  It was not meant to be a full time job.   They certainly could not do anymore damage than they presently are.   They could go to Washington two weeks every other month and just use that time to pass and repeal bills.  Repealing legislation would probably go a long ways to solving many of America's problems.  If they did all their planning and preparation at home, maybe the citizens would have a voice in the government instead of the lobbyists and special interest groups.  This is totally possible thanks to the new technology available today.
  
      Getting back to what this whole blog is about. The first thing the Postal Service needs to do is set a realistic rate for the postage.  What is a fair rate.  Well if rates had just kept up with inflation they would be at least 69 cents.  How I got this figure was pretty simple.  Most of the things that were a nickel when I was a kid, candy bars and soda pop being two examples.  Candy bars that were a nickel are now like a $1.15.  That is an increase of 23 times.  Soda pop is hard to compare because when I was a kid you only got 8 ounces for your nickel.  However then you could take the bottles back and get 2 cents which would buy a whole hand full of candy.  Soda pops today are generally in 12 or 20 ounce containers and while pop cans are recyclable it is hard to figure exactly.  At $1.50 which is an average vending machine price the increase would be thirty times which means the rate should be around 90 cents for a stamp.  That only allows for the inflation since 1958.  It does not address the period from 1885 to 1958.  From 1885 to 1958 the price of a stamp only went up 1 cent.   In fact for a period from 1885 till 1932 a stamp was only 2 cents.  It went to 3 cents for a year or so during World War I but dropped back down after the war.  From 1932 till 1958 it stayed at 3 cents.  Then after 1958 stamps started changing.  In the next ten years the stamp jumped 2 cents.  From 1968 on the jumps became more costly.  Two things happened that changed the dynamics of the problem. The Postal System was unionized and the dollar went off the gold standard.  Which effected prices more is hard to tell.

       It is my understanding that the Postat System is not allowed to make a profit which is acceptable.  It also should not operate at a loss.  The system has not adjusted to the economic realities it operates in.  Costs do go up and the Postal Service has raised rates often.  The question is have the increases reflected the actual costs that the Postal System was, and is incurring.   The cost of vehicles to transport mail for the carriers and the increased size of the United States since the Constitution was passed do not reflect that they have.  The history of the stamp system only goes back to a period just after the Civil War.  Prior to the war rates and methods of mail distribution were much different.

       From the above information it is easy to see that the system is a bit obsolete.  Had prices kept up with inflation over the 126 years a postage stamp would realistically be around $2.00  So the system does definitely need fixed but the cuts the Postal System is proposing are not the right answers.   They need to revamp the totally unrealistic system they have in place.  It defies business sense and common sense to run it the way it is being run.  Where is the Congressional oversight.  It would probably not make things any better if the Congress was doing it's job, but at least we would know who to point the finger at.

      One major sign of a management problem is giving away free materials and then discounting their service.  I am talking about their package shipping program.  They will give customers "free" boxes and then give them a discounted rate to ship them.  So who is paying for the boxes and discounts. This makes absolutely no sense. I am sure the company with the contract to sell the boxes to the Postal System would disagree with me.  Of course ending the program will add to the unemployment problem.  I guess you will have to make your own decision which is worse and if you want to write your Congressman to complain.
  
      On top of the box problem they are spending tons of money on TV advertising to tell about their guaranteed loss program. I am sure the advertising company making the TV adds is charging a very "fair" rate to the Post Office.  The evidence of the mismanagement problem is magnified when they are putting things on stamps like the Simpsons.  Are they paying for the rights to those adds.  Either they paid fees for the rights to use the Simpsons on stamps or they are just providing free advertising for the Simpson's.  In either case it is wrong.  Stamps should be restricted to leaders and events that have contributed to America in some way.  Someone needs to make some decisions to correct these problems.  It is like no one is in charge.  They go from one stupid idea to the next.

     The stamp buyers of course foot the bill for all of this stupidity.  Shipping packages is not what the Postal Service was designed for.  I do not think the Pony Express riders carried packages.  They carried mail, and yes I know the Pony Express was not part of the Postal Service, but they were competing with the Postal Service and were put out of business by a new and improved service.   The telegraph lines finally crossed the country and the Pony Express's nitch service dried up.  The point is that the Pony Express saw opportunity in meeting a need and met it. They did it profitably if I understand correctly. That is how UPS and Fedex came into being.  They saw a need that they could do better and cheaper or at least more efficiently.  They built solid business' models. With all the delivery services available the first thing the Postal Service needs to get out of is the package delivery service.  Especially doing it for free.  Shipping materials are a business expense that any business can write off and not pay taxes on.  Please explain the logic of doing it the way they are.   They also need to stop delivering catalogs and advertisement flyers, which they handle while also giving a discount.  Here is a novel idea, how about focusing on MAIL.

     The second thing the Postal Service intends to do is cut out 3700 locations.  So they intend to make themselves less accessable.  That is a really smart move. DUH!!!!!!!!!!!  How about opening thousands more offices and  making them all mail pick up points.  The money saved not running delivery vehicles would about balance the budget I am reasonably sure. Americans could definitely use the exercise and for the disabled and those who do not desire to pick up their own mail a job opportunity is created for someone who is willing to do so.   The final thing is the cutting of 120,000 jobs and putting that many people out of work.  I am not a rocket scientist, but that definitely would not be good for the economy.  Instead of fighting and complaining about the computer competition how about setting up computer access points in Post Offices and helping the customers.  For a fee of course.  How about printing out E-mails and putting them in a patrons personal box.  The need for a hard copy may still exist.   Yet this would be a move toward eliminating the need to pollute the atmosphere with exhaust fumes. The creation of many more postal locations would require that they be manned. Eliminating Saturday service is something that is long overdue and the easiest to adapt to.  My personal opinion is the whole country needs to go to a four day week.  It is time for it to happen.  It would create thousands of jobs if companies actually complied with it.  Most business's other than retailers no longer work on Saturdays.  The Postal Service problem is really that they do not want to adapt and move into the new age.  They are in a really bad rut, (which is nothing more than a grave with both ends kicked out) and unwilling to move forward.  Their problems can be solved but it will take some major adjustments. One more issue to address.  Already overloaded with work who decided that the Postal System should handle Passports.  If they are going to do it they should have dedicated personel for that purpose so that those handling mail issues can do so.

      On the issue of Posting of Roads.  This is a personal one being a retired trucker.  Every state in the United States uses the green and white signs for the interstate system.  They mark the exits and entrances and each mile is posted so a person has a reference point to know their exact location.  This can be important in cases of an emergency.  However there is one state that has put themselves above the law and does not comply with it.  That is California.  The police officers I questioned about it said they did not post the signs to make it harder for speeders to evade law enforcement vehicles.   Excuse me but every other state in the United States manages fine.  It is a pretty lame excuse.  Of course California's financial management seems to not be much better than the Postal Service or the Federal government, which mandated the signs on the interstate system.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Class Warfare, You Betcha. A Little Radical?

     Sometimes people miss the best possible chances to put their enemies in their place.  A few elections ago in Missouri a Republican was swiped at with the remark,  "There will be riots if the Republicans win."  That Republican backed down and lost the election.  Had he thought about it he could have thrown that one right back into the Democrats face and scored big points with it.  If he had just said,  "Well as a member of the Republican Party of which Abraham Lincoln was a member.  Yes the one who freed the slaves. I have to agree.  However there will not be riots because the Republicans won, but because the Democrats are sore losers."

     Recent newscasts have stated that, "Raising taxes on the wealthy and big business is class warfare."  Instead of backing off President Obama should have said, " Your darn right it is,  the poor in American are tired of being pissed on by you rich assholes."  Of course a President can not use that language, but he can sure plant it in the system.  What is wrong with the rich and business paying their fair share of the taxes.  It is money they took from the poor by overcharging for goods and services anyhow.  The Republicans are the ones who ran up all the debt to pay for the wars they started buy telling lies to the American people.  Had the military been allowed to plan as long and methodically as Al Qaeda did on their attack.  The war would have been over in one good raid or at best a few and billions and billions of dollars would not have been wasted not to mention an additional seven thousand lives.  The cost in lives on 9/11 was enough.  How many thousands of lives have been needlessly wasted in both Iraq and Afghanistan.  It is the same stupidty as was done in Vietnam.  Those people are so poor and so uninformed that they have nothing better to do than fight.  They do not care who it is with.  What should have been done is telling the Afghanistan people how they had been used by a group of fanatical thugs who hijacked their religion and their country.  Once that was made clear to them and that America does not hate them.  That we are the ones who helped them defeat the Russians.  Make it clear Al Qaeda does not care about them, but is using them and they will take care of Al Qaeda.  They are the type of people who do not like being used by anybody.  Which is something they have in common with the American people.

     It might seem I am a long ways from where I started, but the point was that no one likes being lied to or used.  Whether they are Afghans or Americans.  We need a third party to take that message from the American people to the American government.   The exploitation of Americans by the wealthy upper class and big business needs to end.  Make the rich and big business foot the bill for their frigging war.  They have lied to the American people to justify their goals.  They have no conscience about it.  The American people need to take back their country and if it takes class warfare.  So be it.   It can be done within the system by creating a third party.   If that does not work then the American people need to return to a bartering society and quit paying taxes.  Quit supporting big business and big government and see how long it takes them to change their ways.  Maybe it is so messed up it is time to tear it down and start over.  That is a scary thought.  Sometimes the truth is.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Constitutional Duct Tape for a Sinking Ship of State

     It seems the ship of state is sinking fast and no one seems to know how to plug the hole and get it sailing again.  The steady bleeding of jobs is taking its toll.  Everybody knows the problem but nobody seems to have an effective solution.  Further proof of the problem showed up on the television this morning.  The U.S. Postal Service is in danger of going out of business.  Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution requires the government to establish and manage a Postal System.  It also requires the posting of Roads.  Does that mean making roads or just posting signs so people know where they are going.  I am not sure on that one, but I am sure that the Founding Fathers meant for the government to meet these obligations in perpetuity.  So maybe if we look a little harder at the Constitution we might find some sound answers.

          It is my feeling the Constitution address's what I am about to propose.  If it does it is a duty the government is not only required to do, it is something the government is required by the Constitution to do. The Constitution requires the government to provide for the welfare of the country and taking care of our home(infrastructure) should be covered.  It is a duty the government is not performing. They certainly have tax offices in every state.  Considering that the duty to collect taxes and providing for defense and common welfare are all in the first paragraph of Secion 8, Article 1 it would seem they have equal importance.  It is my opinion that the founding fathers felt our nation would be very blessed and providing for the few who were not was the responsibity of those of us who are. However providing for the welfare requires more than taxation.  When you provide for the welfare of your family you provide a home, food, clothing and the necessities of life.  If you have children you provide them a safe and healthy place to play and live.  Those are things you do to provide for your families welfare.  It is by that understanding and my reading of the Founding Father's writings that I believe they felt those things should be provided to every American. If the government was doing what it is required to do we would not be in the situation we are in.  There are a great number of Constitutionally questionable agencies and programs the government runs.   One more that is Constitutionally mandated, to take care of infrastructure (necessary to the welfare of the people), should not be a problem.

     It is time for all hands to come on deck.  The ship is going down if it is not fixed.  Their is ample proof that the present politicians do not get the gravity of the problem.  They want to put a band aid on the problem and it needs many rolls of duct tape at a minimum.  This can be proved by their solution of the debt limit problem after much bickering.  They intend to cut a whole $2.4 Trillion dollars out of the budget over a ten year period.   It may be admirable that they see there is a problem, but they do not get the magnitude of the problem.  This can be seen in the fact that the daily interest on the national debt is $1.2 Billion dollars.  Well over ten years that equals $4.38 Trillion.  So in ten years they will be over $2 Trillion dollars more in debt than when they started.  Another of their brain farts is to give business's a $5,000 tax break for hiring someone, to make something they can not sell because the economy is dead. With all the other problems that is not good at all.  However there is a solution.  A "New Program" that pays for itself.  It is our only hope and I think it is Constitutionally mandated.

     The Constitution in Article 1, Section 8, Paragraph 1 requires the government to be in charge of collecting taxes and also for the defense and general welfare of the United States.  Taking care of your home(the Nation) is a duty that comes under providing for the welfare.  The problems with infrastructure need to be addressed with a tax that creates a permanent program to maintain our home.  You do not take care of a home part time or only when  you want to.  It requires an ongoing and long term commitment to keep things in working order.  You do not wait till bridges are falling down or roads are collapsing.  You have to be continually at it or the cost of repair is magnified.  In my previous blog "Getting Our House In Order"  I outlined a plan that would do this.  We need a program that is paid for by a continous influx of funds to keep it going.  My solution is to put a tax of $1.00 per gallon surcharge on gas.  It should be given directly to the states in which it is collected.  Nobody wants to pay more tax,  but nobody wants to sleep in the streets or risk having Chinese become the national language because of our debt obligations.  I like to call it a One for America Program.

     We need a balanced budget, but more than that we need jobs and this program creates jobs and  creates them in perpetuity.  The jobs created generate tax payments that help get the government back on its feet.  The heavy machinery required to build and maintain infrastructure is mostly American made and the materials will mostly be American made and supplied.  Once this is in order America needs to reign in and down size our military.  We need to quit being the world's police force.  Yes we need to maintain our defenses, but having troops all over the world is not the answer.  Vietnam should have taught us that, if nothing else.  America needs to start taking care of America.  We need to quit swatting flies with sledgehammers.  If we had put as much time and planning into the retaliation for 9/11 as the enemy did getting ready to attack.   They(the enemy) would be history.  The attackers spent almost seven years getting ready for that attack.

      From a program I watched President Bush gave the order that if it was necessary military aircraft should shoot down a commercial jet.  A little later in the program they interviewed a pilot who was scrambled on 9/11 to defend America.   He stated the only way he could have taken down a commercial jet was to ram into it with his plane.   His, hundreds of  millions of dollars, jet was not even armed.    When we have aircraft the taxpayers pay hundreds of millions of dollars to build and then  they are not even armed.  This is a problem and a waste.   If we are suddenly attacked by whoever for whatever reason.   What do we say, "Wait a minute I need to go load my guns."  This is not the exception this is the norm.  I was in a rear echelon job in Vietnam and when our base was attacked we had to stand in line and sign to get a rifle and one clip of ammunition.  I mean the enemy was supposedly coming through the wire, but signatures were more important than our lives.  The armorer was just doing his job, but he got over ruled and thumped pretty good for failing to use some common sense.  He was over ruled by a knuckle sandwich.  Please note this happened in a combat zone that had no fronts.  The enemy was everywhere, not just in front of us. If the military can not be trusted to hold armed weapons we have a problem.  If soldiers did carry armed weapons maybe so many would not have died in the Fort Hood shooting incident.
     
    The Constitution requires the government, in the same paragraph that provides for taxes and the military,  to provide for the welfare of its people. Several of the key writers of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution advocated for government responsibility for the poor, needy and aged.  Paine, Jefferson and Franklin agreed it was a duty of the state.  No one in this country should go to bed hungry and no one should be living on the streets  unless they choose to do so.   No one should die for lack of medical care.  It is something that should be furnished to every American and not just 80% as Medicare does.  That was a conspiracy with the insurance companies I am sure.  As I am just a few months from turning 65 that is being made clear to me by the daily pleas for my money to insure me for the other 20%.

              Do we have to have a dole?  No we should not, but we should provide a means for those receiving assistance to perform some service in return for what they get.  If they refuse to work, fine they can eat in soup kitchens(which by the way create jobs cooking and cleaning) and sleep in a bed in a government flop house that provides nothing more than a bed, bath and a shower.  If that is not acceptable to them they can either find a job or go sleep under a bridge.  The choice is their's, those in need, to make.  There are plenty of things communities need done that those getting assistance can do.   If they physically can not work fine, but just handing it out for nothing is an insult to those who are trying to make the system work.  Nobody gets a free ride, unfortunately that is not the truth.

     When the government starts cutting off  people's checks, that they worked all their life to get,  the politicians will find out what anarchy is all about.  When people no longer believe in the system and return to a bartering society as many did during the Great Depression.  The government will feel the impact of their incompetence. In my opinion we are not far from that day.  If somebody does not stand up and do something the ship is going down.  When our economy collapses it will make the Great Depression look like a cake walk.  It does not have to happen, their are solutions.  If you agree with me share this with someone, if you do not, then you can tell me why I am wrong.  Thanks for reading.  They say the pen is mightier than the sword and I believe it.  If enough people share this, someone who can make a difference may get a copy.