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Sunday, January 29, 2012

Government Conspiracy To Kill Off Citizens and Cut Social Security Costs

    When you consider most of the technology available today is geared toward making people more sedentary you might wonder if it is all a conspiracy to kill us off.  It is a fact if people live a healthy life they can live much longer in this day and age.  So maybe the government knows the average citizen does only as much as they absolutely have to.  They also know if people sit around and get no exercise,  eat according to the government health guidelines they will increase their cholesterol, weight and coronary risks and probably check out much earlier in life.  So maybe there is an ulterior motive to their inventing all this technology.
    I mean the government is not above doing tests on its citizens.  In the 50's and 60's they did LSD tests on soldiers and did not even tell them they were doing it.  They put a mild virus spray in tunnels on the Pennsylvania Turnpike to see how the virus would be spread around the country.  They also sprayed stuff off the coast of San Francisco and let the wind carry it to shore to see how it would effect the population.  The government did intentional exposure of citizens and soldiers to nuclear tests to measure the effects of radiation.  Most people have heard of the Tuskiegee Experiments where they did syphilis tests and did not treat the victims.  Who authorized all this crap is the good question and what kind of minds in the government would allow it to happen.  All of the stuff mentioned above is documented and can be proven.
    When they developed the atom bomb in World War II several of the scientist felt it would start a chain reaction and turn the earth into a miniature sun.  The really scary part is that knowing that, that might be a potential outcome they dropped the bomb anyhow.  You have to wonder if anyone is really in charge of the government.  Or is it one big nut farm that just keeps morphing into the next big piece of stupid.
    So a simple thing like developing programs to intentionally make Americans lazy and shorten their life expectancy so the government can keep the money and not pay it out in Social Security payments would be a very viable way to cut the national budget. I left out the possibility of brain tumors from cell phones.  Microwaves and plastics are under suspicion of causing cancers also.  If you think it is not possible to get money from the government to do crazy stuff.  Read the book, Charlie Wilson's War, about how he single handed got the American government to fund the secret war in Afghanistan against the Russians.  It is a much better read than it was a movie.  They left out a lot and if you really want to know how the CIA and the government work you should read it.  It will scare the average person to question anything the government does.  Then you will see that the whole thing is not as far fetched as it sounds.  Yes I loved Conspiracy Theory with Mel Gibson and Julia Roberts.  Enemy of the State and The Pelican Brief are also very good thrillers that might make you wonder how the government operates. There is always a little nugget of fact behind the fiction.  Hope you enjoyed this.  Been wanting to do something crazy like this for awhile.  Like I said it is all based on documented facts anyone can find if they look on line.
    Did you know the United States government conspired with Britain to overthrow the democratically elected government of Iran in 1953 because of worries about oil in the Middle East.  It it any wonder that Iran does not trust us or like us. Type "Iran" on the search bar and you will find several blog articles with more details if you are interested in such things. Thanks for taking the time to read my blog.  It is not always that far out, though it may seem like it.

America What is Wrong and How to Turn It Around.

       Watched the State of the Union speech and learned a couple things.  Some I already knew, but got a new perspective on them. The first thing I learned was how proud Americans are of those who serve our country, but found it is unanimous as both side rose to their feet.  Only a few things managed to get both sides to their feet and some real hand clapping.  Every one should get a fair shot and play by the same rules was pretty popular.  America  still believes we can succeed and all we need is a level playing field.  That is one thing I have personally always felt was true.  Most Americans support the idea of ending subsidies for the oil companies and spending the money to make America energy independent.  Fixing the tax code and passing the tax break for lower income Americans got a real good response also.  The one that really got a strong response was the comment for government to do only what the people can not do for themselves.  We can achieve anything if we work together as Americans was a double sided hand banging success. Our freedom endures because of those who defend it. Having spent thirteen years in the military and ten years overseas I really appreciated that one and it feels good to know America is totally behind the servicemen and women of America.  The final one I noted both sides rising on was the statement that We rise and fall as One.
     The basic thing one can take away from all those comments is that Americans are proud to be American's. I have always known that.  All you have to do is ask one and he will tell you in no uncertain terms that America is the greatest. The problem is there is a very fine line between proud and pride.  God hates prideful people. With all that positive attitude why can't America get things turned around then.  It is turning but very slowly.  We need some form of stimulus to get it moving faster.  There is nothing wrong with the work ethic in America.  American's still can and do work hard when given the opportunity.  The problem is the lack of opportunity.  It is not all foreign countries fault.  If you look at all the foreign car and manufacturing companies that have plants in America that becomes very clear.  One problem in America is we have invented ourselves out of our jobs.  This is something that happens on pretty regular cycles.  It some times takes a while to see it happen but looking at history will prove it.  The civil war stimulated industrial growth and it kept going so good that by 1873 America went into a major depression.   Then came the railroad expansion into the west and a series of economic turn downs running through 1897.  Then started the automotive and aviation expansions they carried us to the great depression with just a couple slowdowns along the way.  So the ups and downs are nothing more than normal cycles.  Eventually America adapts and moves forward.
     The problem this time comes in two areas.  First America is becoming a service economy.  Construction and factory jobs are being eliminated and may never come back because they are being eliminated altogether.  The question is how many service jobs can be created.  The second area is the collapsing infrastructure in America.  Infrastructure creates jobs that are temporary in nature, but the nature of repairing infrastructure is that it is ongoing.   It must continually be addressed.  Let me address them separately.
     The first deals with the so called Free Trade problem.  Which is another way of saying jobs being shipped overseas.  American industry has found they can get many things done cheaper overseas and make a bigger and better profit.  Does that make it right.  As an example I would like to use the Apple computer company.  Mainly because they have been in the news lately in two ways.  One is that their plant in China has been having a lot of employee suicides.  That is not Apples problem but China's for tolerating the exploitation of their citizens.  China has not set a high enough income standard to keep the employees happy.  The problem is they are more concerned about keeping the people busy than making profits.  At the same time Apple has become the richest company in the world.   How did they do that?  They did it buy exploiting conditions abroad that they could never use in America.  They could build the computers and phones in America, but it would cut into their profits.  The question is, is it right for the American government to turn a blind eye to actions by an American company abroad that they would not tolerate in America.  I argue they should place an import tax that would make them pay an equivalent price to what they would pay if they made them here.
     The argument is that they are not American workers.  Are foreign workers somehow subhuman when compared to American workers.  The argument that they do not need as much money to live in China is a flimsy justification.  Wal-Mart has many of its products made overseas for the same reason.  It increases their profit.  Is the bottom line all that matters to American business.  America claims to be a Christian nation but it is not practicing Christian concepts in business. Wealth gotten by vanity or being to proud will diminish a person, business or nation.  However that which is gotten by honest labor shall increase.one.  So is the reason America is suffering because of the unscrupulous practices of her business class. That is in Proverbs 13:11 and proverbs 16:18 says it even better, "Pride goes before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall."
I had to look haughty up but it sure fits the attitude of most American business companies. It means having or showing great pride in ones self and contempt for others.  That is the attitude of most wealthy Americans toward the poor.  The Constitution says it is the duty of the government to look out for the welfare of the nation.  If you read it closely enough you will find infrastructure comes under the title of welfare.  That is what was quoted when they built the Capitol and the White House.  They quickly rebuilt them when they were destroyed during the War of 1812 so upkeep evidently is a responsibility of the government.  So from my point of view the government is failing America because they have not created a means or way of taking care of America's infrastructure problems.  Some kind of program needs to be set up.  It would create jobs to take care of the problems.
       I can hear the screams now that we need to cut the deficits and reduce spending in America.  That is true, but if you do not stimulate the economy at the same time you will fail.  If the tax base is not there the system will not work.  Could infrastructure work be considered some kind of service work.  That is not the issue to me.  What is the issue is that the wealthy Americans need to reinvest their money in America.  If all they are going to do is sit on it and put it in off shore banks maybe their taxes need to be tripled if not more.  At one point taxes on the wealthy were almost 90%, maybe we need to return to that system and get the money flowing.
     The mega millions being spent on elections to buy favor with the government could create hundreds of thousands, if not millions of jobs.  The problem is not that there is not enough money in America.  Or that the money is not being spent.  It is how and on what it is being spent on that is the problem. There are many ways that American business could work to make America energy independent. One of my blogs has "Seven Radical Ideas" to get America back to work and energy independent.   America could be energy independent tomorrow if the right legislation is passed.  The technology already exists.  The problem and road block is government red tape and regulations that can be changed with the stroke of a pen.  However Congress needs to step up to the plate and accept and implement the changes to get it done.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Money, How You Get The Free Car

      My last blog was on how to get a free car.  Here are some more details on the best and cheapest way to get it. First of all the catch is that you have to wait five years.  However it is a worthwhile wait.  Also it will happen quicker if you are one of the people who "was" driving a 15 to 20 MPG vehicle.  It is not really free, but it technically is.  Because if you keep driving the gas sucking hogs you will keep spending tons of money you do not need to spend.  The trick is saving the money by not spending it.
      First thing to do is pick out your car and find it.  There are several ways to go about it.   First thing is if you want a loaded, all the bells and whistles car you are wasting a lot of money.  Unless you drive around 50,000 miles per year you can probably do without most of that stuff.  From my experience I do recommend air conditioning and a radio.  That is it.  I prefer manual window cranks and locks.  They do not usually quit working after a year or two like the power ones.  If you have ever been trapped in a powered car one time it will cure your love for electric.  Especially if it is sinking in water or on fire.  Just something to think about that most people do not worry about, but that can happen.
     Now how do I get my absolute best deal.  Try to buy a model you like but last years model.  Dealers discount new cars when the new models come out. Especially if it is a discontinued model.  If it gets into the model year that the car actually is the price does not go down anymore till the next one comes out.  I am going to explain how I did it when I wanted one.  Several members of my family had Dodge Colts.  The manual 5 speeds got right at 40 MPG and that impressed me and this was when gas was around a dollar a gallon. I live twenty miles from anything so it costs me to go anywhere.  Well in March 1995 I went to the Dodge dealer looking for a Colt.  They tried to sell me a Neon.  I did not want a Neon and made it clear if they could not find me a Colt they were not going to sell me a car. I had my own money and financing and if they could not meet my needs they were not going to sell me a car.  Dealers hate to see money walk out the door.  Well 1994 was the last year for the Colt and the dealer had a hard time finding one.  Finally he found one two hundred miles away in St. Louis.  In the fall of 1993 that car was just over $12,000 dollars.  Then in 1994 it went down to $11,000 dollars.  When the 1995's came out in September 1994 it went down to about $10,300.  When I went to buy it in March of 1995 the price had fallen to just $8900.  Patience and waiting and demanding to get what I wanted saved me $3100 dollars up front.  Well they drove the car from St. Louis with my permission and it had about 250 miles on the odometer but I could live with that.  They had a couple of dealer used cars that had been used for customers who had there car in the shop and they had less than 4000 miles but I took the no bells and whistles car.  The dealer cars were automatics and I did not want an automatic.  It had no radio, no air and manual windows.   That was okay for me.  I was interested in the MPG and that was my only reason for buying the car.   Did have to settle for a manual 4 speed.  I wanted the manual 5 speed.  Kept the car for ten years and it was right at the 200,000 mile mark when we gave it to my niece who needed a car so she could get a job.  She drove it for three or four years and then she sold it.  I still see it occasionally when I go to my home town.  The only thing I spent on that car beside gas and oil which I changed regularly is a couple sets of tires and some windshield wipers.
     So I had my "new" car to drive.  I was blessed enough and shared the blessing.  Over the years I have given away over ten cars.  Mostly to family, but it was always to someone who really needed a car and a break.  Not bragging, but that has come back to many times over.  Hopefully this will help some other people understand how to get the best possible deal on a car.  So in conclusion here are the tips.  1. buy last years model.  2. If you can live with it take one with a few miles on it, if it is a dealers car. 3. Make sure it gets at least 30 MPG and try to find a 40MPG model.  4. As gas prices go up your savings will be magnified. 5. Try and not pay for a lot of bells and whistles you do not need.  Hopefully this will help someone who has learned how to be debt free to live a lifestyle that will help keep them that way.
      Spending top dollar for the newest model when it first comes out with the big muscle car motor is one way to keep yourself in the debt cycle.  You have to decide if you like your financial freedom more than your ego.  Enjoy the ride.  If you put your gas savings in the bank and save them.   The next time you walk into a dealer you will have done your homework and you will pay for that car with money you saved by breaking your addiction to the gas sucking hogs America is famous for.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Money, Dump The Gas Hog and Get A New Car Free.

      Many people are still driving the 15 or less mile per gallon gas hogs.  That is real sad.  I understand some of us still need the gas suckers.  I do flea markets, farmers markets, yard sales and auctions as part of my way to generate funds to survive on disability pay.  I hardly ever buy anything new. Especially furniture and cars. Many people who are poor can not afford to pay the price for an economical car,  I know it is hard but they really can not afford to keep driving the gas hogs either.  I am currently looking for something that gets at least 30+ MPG for myself.  It has to be in my budget.  The thing is that it will pay for itself in a short while.  I did the math and if you drive 10,000 miles per year and by a 40 MPG car it would cost you $875  That is at gas prices of $3.50 a gallon.  If the price of gas goes to $5.00 the cost jumps to $1250.  That is compared to a cost of $2333 and $3330 respectively for the 15 MPG car.   A savings of between $1456 dollars and $2080  a year.  Does that sound a little crazy well keep reading and I will show you how I figured it out.
    If you have a 15 MPG car and drive just 10,000 miles per year, which is only 192 miles per week.  You will spend $2333 per year at $3.50 per gallon.  If the price hits $5.00 the cost to drive goes up to $3330 per year. If you run that out for five years which is what it usually takes to pay off a new car the total is $16,650 and that is with no payment, not figuring in insurance or maintenance like oil changes and a total of 50,000 miles over five years.  Over the same period and the same 50,000 miles a car getting 40 MPG would only spend $6250 on gas.   That would be a savings of 10,400 dollars.  Most people would consider that a good sized savings.
    Just to put it in perspective.  If you are one of the people who drives for a living. Maybe a paper carrier or some other job where you drive a lot the amounts becomes staggering.  If you drive a 15 MPG car for 5 years and put 50,000 per year or a total of 250,000 miles on it, it will really pay to move to a cost saving car.  If you don't it is going to cost you $58331 over five years at $3.50 per gallon and if it goes up to the $5.00 mark the cost will climb to $83,325.00.  Those prices are just for the gas with no payment.
   So how much can you really save?  I was looking at the Ford Fiesta and the price was $240 a month. Full coverage insurance was $100 a month.  So an annual cost of $4080 or a five year cost of  $20400.  If gas stays at the $3.50 mark the fuel cost would be $21875 over five years.  That would be a total cost of $42,275 and if it went to $5.00 it would be at a cost of $51650.
    At the end of five years you will have paid $42,275 or a savings of $16056.   That savings will buy another $14400 Ford Fiesta and you will have change to boot.  If fuel goes to $5.00 you will have a savings of over $31675 dollars.  Remember these prices included the car payment and the car insurance as well as the gas.  The cost for the 15 MPG car did not include insurance or replacement costs of a new cars.
    Even a 30 MPG car driven 25,000 mile per year, over a five year period would save the owner $14, 583 which would cover the cost of the car but not insurance and gas.  Each person will need to figure out what works for them.  read some of my other blogs to get an idea of the cost.
   So you can save way more than the price of a car if you switch to the better gas mileage car.  In essence you will get a free car.  Or more money in your retirement account.  The decision is up to you.  Can you really afford to keep driving a gas hog? If you would like to figure the cost of driving your car and know the miles per gallon of the car you are interested in my blog on The Cost of Driving from 10/28/11 has a chart that will give you a cost per mile to drive your car.

Monday, January 23, 2012

The Republi-can'ts versus The Dum-ol-crats= Economic Collapse Ahead

    The 2012 Election will take a major shake up if it is going to help anything.  The Republi-can'ts can not seem to produce a candidate with a chance of winning.   The Dum-ol-crats must be almost gleeful.  If something does not change the Pubs have no hope of winning.  The leading candidate can not get more than 50% of his parties vote because he has to many personal issues.  The main one being, no one likes him.  The second place alternative has so many skeletons in his closet he needs to start a construction program to make a closet big enough to hold them all.  Neither one will pull enough of religious rightwing base to win.  The third and fourth candidates are having a hard time getting recognition.  Regardless of which one becomes the nominee for the Rep Party they have very little chance of beating Obama.  That creates a very scary scenario of continuing on with the status quo as it now is.
     While I am willing to admit that Obama did not create the problems he finds himself in the middle of.  He also has done little to nothing to change or fix the problem.  The Solyndra Scandal will not help him and the one program he seems to be pushing, "high speed rail," does to little, at too high of a cost.  It does not create long term jobs nor does it produce benefit, except for the limited few who will be able to use it.  It is not cost effective or long term solutions.  My blog of 4/16/11 offers Seven Radical Solutions that not only create jobs, they help America achieve energy independence while using existing technology to do it.  The biggest thing the solutions need is promotion and changing regulations to enable private industry to put them into effect.  They are not pie in the the sky, they are doable  solutions that will produce long term benefit for America.  The real problem is that the leadership in America is to busy looking out for their own interests.  They do not care about the average citizen.   That only means we are going to keep going the way we are going and that means we are headed for an inevitable economic collapse.  The present way of doing business is not a sustainable way of doing business.  I was self employed most of my life,  I have been through bankruptcy and I have experienced hard times.  Unless America is willing to change their ways and their direction hard times are ahead.  At this point it is not to late, but time to change our ways is certainly running out.
     However American leadership is to busy trying to play an asinine game of brinkmanship with Iran that helps nothing or nobody. Getting Osama bin laden was a well thought out and planned operation that was lucky enough to succeed.  What is going on in the Gulf with Iran is not a thought out operation but a game with extreme consequences if it fails. Pushing Iran to react and give America a justification to attack and destroy their nuclear capabilities is stupidity at its extreme.  Risking 5000+ American lives to prove a point, not to mention the loss of a very expensive piece of equipment will prove nothing.  If Iran were to fire a missile and give us the self justified opportunity to attack them.  Is it worth the risk that Iran "might" get lucky.  The Persian Gulf limits the carriers ability to take evasive action that is afforded in the open ocean.  Focusing America's efforts on attaining energy independence would accomplish much more.  Then we could share that knowledge with the world and let Iran and the Middle East eat sand.  They would no longer have any power or be needed.  The seven ideas I proposed in my earlier blog all move toward that goal, which is far better than risking American lives.
    If we survive till the election without an economic collapse or an unneeded military action it will be a miracle.  An economic collapse is the only hope of winning the White House that the Reps have.  Hopefully it will not be a cause used to justify an attack on Iran.  America has a habit of getting sucked into wars, Remember the Alamo, or how about Remember the Maine,  or the Luisitania, Pearl Harbor ring a bell.  Could make you wonder about 9/11.  No wonder there are so many conspiracy nuts in America.  It is time to wake up and pay attention people and let your voices be heard in Washington.
    Maybe the only path back to sanity is a solid and Constitutionally based third party.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Assassination versus Annihilation or Political Incompetence At Its Extreme

     Is it better to kill one bad person by assassination or to kill thousands, hundreds of thousands or even millions to accomplish the same goal by the virtual annihilation of a country.  America supposedly has high moral standards and does not allow the assassination of an evil or bad leader in another country.  Yet it has no problem with finding or creating a just reason to invade a country.  Over the years America has supported many leaders who in the long run turned out to be quite evil.  Then because of a turn of circumstances has chosen to invade a country to correct a problem they created by meddling in other countries affairs in the first place.  Just to name a few the Shah of Iran, Saddam Hussein and even Osama bin laden.  America's meddling created the situations that allowed these leaders to rise to power.
     If the people in the countries involved had been asked what should be done or how.   Would they prefer we assassinate their leader, overthrow their country or just leave things alone.  It is pretty reasonable to believe they would have said leave things alone.  Especially since they were probably going to be the ones who suffered the misery and pain of decisions that involved aggression.  It is the little guy on the street that is called on to pay the price of any choice.  Even if the leader is assassinated they are the ones that have to live through the turmoil and upheaval caused by any form of aggression.
     The war in Vietnam is a perfect example of the cost of incompetent decision making.  Especially leadership that is moved by slogans and fear.  "Better dead than Red"  "If one country falls it will start a domino effect and many will fall."  If the end result is all that counts or matters.  America blew it in Vietnam.  First let me say I am a Vietnam Vet 1967-68 and I would do it again, because at the time I felt I was doing the right thing and still do.  However time has shown me that if America had done nothing to meddle in Vietnam's affairs the outcome would still have been the same with one exception.  Millions of Vietnamese, almost sixty thousand American lives  and hundreds of thousands of others who were maimed would not have died or been mutilated for the rest of their lives.   Was the price worth the outcome.  Everyone has to make their own judgment on that issue.  What I find hard to take is that America still has not learned to weight the cost and consider the consequences before we get involved in foreign entanglements.  The liberation of Kuwait was necessary and justifiable.  The only thing we did wrong there was not finishing what we thought was a worthwhile undertaking.  Years later that decision came back to haunt America.  The decision to aid Afghanistan in throwing out the Russians was a worthwhile cause, but again we left a vacuum and did not follow up.  Failure to follow up created the situation that grew into Osama bin laden.   Years later we again paid for failure to weight the consequences of our actions.  Was the invasion of Afghanistan necessary and justifiable, Yes.  The problem and the failure was too not plan a course of action that would not entangle us in a ten year nightmare that it has become.  Had America spent as much time and planning on getting even as the terrorists did in planning the 9/11 attack it would have been over long ago.  We did not do that though.  We did it the same way we did in Vietnam.  We used the standard American tactic of  "Swatting flies with Sledgehammers" which is the way America solves problems.  We use money and power and very little common sense in dealing with our problems.  Which is part of the reason America is in the financial crisis it finds itself in today.
     There is no discourse or attempt to solve the problems facing America in a practical and sound way.  The leadership just keeps changing hands and stumbling forward.  America needs a third party that it guided by common sense, sound and thought out policies and long term direction when it comes to dealing with foreign affairs.  How many Americans know that America helped Britain overthrow the democratically elected government of Iran and place the Shah in power because it was thought he would be more friendly to western goals in the Middle East.  Considering it is not stressed or taught in most history classes and the fact that almost 75% of Americans were not even born sixty years ago when it happened.  The answer to the question is very few.  If you would like a short history of how all the events played out together I suggest reading my blog of 3/9/11.  Hope this inspires some to at least voice their opinions against America invading Iran which the stage is being manipulated and set up for.  America has a habit of making themselves or using their victim status to attack other countries.  The Spanish American War, World War I and World War II,  also the invasion of Afghanistan.  In all the cases a reply was necessary and justified.  It is the how that might have been changed of the actions that provoked the attacks in the first place.  History is an interesting subject, but sometimes ignorance is bliss.  Especially if you are a politician.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Money, The Secret Of Getting Is Learning To Give

      What is the most important thing to learn if you want to get rich?  You need to learn to give.  That may sound like a contradiction but it is based on some Biblical rules that apply universally.  Many of the rules in life and society  really have nothing to do with religion.  They apply equally to the religious and non-religious.  Many Christians will argue with me on this.  However in the course of my sixty-five + years of life I have found it to be true.  God does not discriminate.  Some people will not give credit to God when good things happen.  Just as many Christians blame every bad thing that happens on the devil.  The Bible states very clearly that the rain falls on the just and unjust alike.  It is the same for all other things that happen in the course of life. There is a verse in Proverbs that says it better than I can. "There are those that scatter, and yet increase: and there are those that withhold more than is necessary, but end up poor."  So it is not about how much you give, but how you give.  The next verse sort of explains it, "The liberal soul shall be made fat: and he that waters shall be watered himself."  That verse implies that the secret to getting, is giving.  Yes I have seen wealthy misers who give nothing to others and hoard everything they can get.  From my experience over the course of my like I have seen that most of those people are very miserable people.  If they are happy they are so wrapped up in their wealth that they miss out on the real joys of life.  Joy is not about and does not come from things, or having things.  They might argue with you or me, but they usually have very shallow lives and associate with equally shallow people. They miss the real meaning of life.  Life is to be enjoyed and shared.  At least that is my view of life.  Everyone is entitled to his own views.
      In the book of II Chronicles it says, "The eyes of the Lord run to and fro though out the whole earth, to show himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward him."  What is a perfect heart.  It is lined out and explained in the Bible we do not have to figure it all out ourselves.  That is what is neat about the Bible.  It explains itself to those who are willing to take the time to study it.  The more you study the more you learn.  The more you learn the easier it is to live a life that is blessed by God. What does God require of man to get along and be blessed in life. " He hath showed you what is good and what the Lord requires of you,  To   do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with God.?  What is religion and how is it defined I think James says it best, "Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this,  to visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.  It seems from reading the Bible that God places a premium on helping the poor and needy.  He has judged nations for it and destroyed them. Most people think that God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah for homosexuality.  It may have played into the decision to get rid of them but the Book of Ezekiel says there were other reasons for their destruction.  The following reasons were given in plain language.
      "Behold, this was the iniquity of thy sister Sodom, pride, fulness of bread, and abundance of idleness was in her and in her daughters, neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy. 50And they were haughty, and committed abomination before me: therefore I took them away as I saw good."  Not trying to be judgmental, but that sure sounds like a pretty fair description of America today.  If I were being judgmental God's views on abortion and killing children is far harsher than the judgment he declares here.  In Ezekiel God was judging Israel yet he claimed they were like there sister Sodom.  Isn't America like Israel's sister as we protect her.
     The point here is not about judgment, but about why and how we treat the poor.  It clearly shows that there are consequences for not looking out for those who are less fortunate.  While the opening line of the Constitution says its goal is to provide for the welfare of the nation.  Yet in this day an age welfare has become a curse word and being poor is something to be looked down upon.  My goal is not to turn this into a Bible study or a commentary on religion.  It is too show that there are writings that explain the proper attitude towards wealth.  The first quote I gave explained that there are those who go through life scattering their wealth and obviously not saving for their future.  However it says in the end that they gather where they have not sown any seed.  Very simply they are blessed.  Some blessings have nothing to do with money.  Good health and a happy family are not determined by money.  Money can help make life easier, but good relationships make It far more enjoyable.  Most people notice and like people that always have a smile on their face and a good attitude.  They are easy to be around and make those around them feel better because they share their joy.
    Getting back on track the book of Haggai gives a very good description of how many Americans live today. "Ye have sown much, and bring in little; ye eat, but ye have not enough; ye drink, but ye are not filled with drink; ye clothe you, but there is none warm; and he that earns wages earns wages to put them into a bag with holes." In other words you work your tail off and have nothing to show for it. The question is, Why? Is it fair to work hard and have nothing to show for it.  Just because you do not share what you have is it fair for you to suffer.  The real question is how can you fix the problem.  Can it be fixed.  I will assure you it can be fixed. At one point in life I lost all I had earned and was a very bitter person.  Finally I decided to give God a chance in my life.  At the time I had nothing, but an old Bible that was given to me when I was a teenager.  I started reading the Bible and had a enough knowledge that I understood you were to give 10% of all you got to God.  Being shrewd I made a deal with God.  I promised to give him 10% of my time reading the Bible and that I would share what I got as a blessing from it.  That is half of why I am writing this.  I know it works.
    Every Sunday when I go to church I see people who are making the effort to go to church but not trusting God to help them.  They put a $1 in the collection plate.  If they have a minimum wage job they make about $280 a week.  So 10% would be about $28.  Some say I only take home about $230 or so.  That is fine.  Just give God a chance.  You might start by thanking him that you even have a job.  I mean really you are already getting $280 gross income off the dollar.  Most will say, but I can not afford to do that.  I do not have enough to get by as it is.  Maybe you ought to challenge God by trying it for awhile and seeing what happens in your life.   God invites you to do it.  I invite you to read the following quote from Malachai,
      "7Even from the days of your fathers ye are gone away from mine ordinances, and have not kept them. Return unto me, and I will return unto you, saith the LORD of hosts. But ye said, Wherein shall we return? 8Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings. 9Ye are cursed with a curse: for ye have robbed me, even this whole nation. 10Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove 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 receive it.  11And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, and he shall not destroy the fruits of your ground; neither shall your vine cast her fruit before the time in the field, saith the LORD of hosts.
      God says to give him what you owe him.  Read the highlighted and underlined verses and see that God clearly challenges you.  He says he will open the windows of heaven and poor out a blessing that you will not have room enough to receive it.  That is a pretty incredible offer.  Just remember the blessings may not be in the form of money.  Someone may be healed.  The opportunity for a better job, a better house or a better car may all of a sudden materialize.  Those are blessings but they are not in the form of dollars and sense.  My challenge to you is to go even farther.  As you see things start to happen step out in faith and give more.  Give time to help friends build a home, work in a soup kitchen,  or whatever you feel called to do.  Just remember you can not out give God no matter how hard you try.  I could turn this into a mega blog if I told of the things I have seen and experienced with my own eyes.  I have already told you in one of the previous blogs to get out of debt and work for yourself if possible.  In the verse after God promises to open the windows of heaven  he even promises to protect the things you put forth to grow.   That includes good works.
      A preacher I used to listen to said, " If God knows he can get from you, he will get it to you."  So few people are willing to help others that God is looking for people to bless.  There is a man who owns a company that makes big earth moving equipment and he gives 90% of the profit from his company to helping others and the church.  His view is very simple. "If God can live on 10%, so can I" and he has for years.  When you look at big corporations, and many Americans hate them, realize they are growing on Biblical principals even if they are not a Biblical based or owned and operated company.  I will leave this with one final but fairly long quote from the Bible.  Read it, take it to heart and you will understand how God operates and how giving becomes a blessing in your life.
      The Book of Isaiah says, "Is not this the fast that I have chosen? to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke?   7Is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry, and that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house? when thou seest the naked, that thou cover him; and that thou hide not thyself from thine own flesh?
8Then shall thy light break forth as the morning, and thine health shall spring forth speedily: and thy righteousness shall go before thee; the glory of the LORD shall be thy rereward.  9Then shalt thou call, and the LORD shall answer; thou shalt cry, and he shall say, Here I am. If thou take away from the midst of thee the yoke, the putting forth of the finger, and speaking vanity; 10And if thou draw out thy soul to the hungry, and satisfy the afflicted soul; then shall thy light rise in obscurity, and thy darkness be as the noonday: 11And the LORD shall guide thee continually, and satisfy thy soul in drought, and make fat thy bones: and thou shalt be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters fail not.   12And they that shall be of thee shall build the old waste places: thou shalt raise up the foundations of many generations; and thou shalt be called, The repairer of the breach, The restorer of paths to dwell in.
13If thou turn away thy foot from the sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on my holy day; and call the sabbath a delight, the holy of the LORD, honourable; and shalt honour him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words: 14Then shalt thou delight thyself in the LORD; and I will cause thee to ride upon the high places of the earth, and feed thee with the heritage of Jacob thy father: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it.
     That is a long quote but the last few words say it all. "I the Lord have spoken."  Most of the verses are the very ideals America was founded upon.  It is the core values of America.  However, In this day and age America has slid away from following those principles.  In closing I will make one more challenge to you to prove that America is or was a blessed nation and that we are sliding away from God's Grace and need to turn back toward our roots and the principles this nations was founded on.  Those are the principles that made this nation great.  I invite you to read the 28th  Chapter of Deuteronomy which discusses the blessings and curses God puts on those that follow him and those that do not.  This nation is sliding steadily towards the don't side and eventually it will pay the price Sodom paid.  This is not my judgment.  It is simply God said it, God will do it.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Iran,The Whole Story. Why Wouldn't Iran Want A Nuke

      It had been my intention to start this blog off with how America is such a peace loving nation.  However as I do not like to make mistakes I did a military timeline of U.S. Military Actions.  It was a shocker.  In 230 years as a nation the United States has been at war, occupying or policing somewhere for all but 6 years of our existence as a nation.  That was sure a wake up call.
      The point I wanted to make and the point the mass media is missing is that Iran may have justifiable fears of the United States.  The problem with Iran did not start with the Hostage Situation during the Carter Administration.  It started clear back during World War II.   It has gone down hill from there.  The problem really started when the United States let Great Britain talk us into helping them overthrow the legitimate and democratically elected government of Iran.  Not because of a real threat, but because of a perceived threat by Britain to "their" interests in the Middle East.
      At this point a little history might help shed some light.  During World War II the United States and Britain  used an overland route through Iran to get military supplies to the Soviet Union who at that time was our ally.  Britain had dominated the area and what the Iranian concerns were did not matter to the parties involved.  This was all fine and dandy till the end of the war and Russia getting their own nuclear bomb.  After the war ended Britain became unhappy with the democratically elected government of Iran.  They felt the government was a little too cozy with the Russians.  Britain came up with a plan to alter things and try to make things more favorable to themselves.  They tried to get the United States to help them but the Truman Administration said they were not interested.   When Truman left office they asked the Eisenhower Administration and they agreed to help.  This was the first screw up.  Letting Britain lead us into anything.  Britain had and has a habit of occupying civilized countries by force.  Countries with thousands of years of history.  If you remember that Americans came here to get out from under British control why would we let them talk us into anything. We came here to get out from under their control.
      Many people do not realize we got sucked into the Middle East in the late 1700's because of our relationship or lack of relationship to England.  Till the Revolutionary War our merchant ships were protected on the high seas by Britain, but after the war started and our victory.  Britain no longer protected our ships.  Which is how we came to have a Constitution.  A neat story, but a long one.  Time to get back on track.
     The United States helped Britain overthrow the democratically elected government of Iran in 1953 to put a more pro western government in power. Britain was worried that the original Iranian government was to friendly with the Russians. Britain in turn felt this threatened their oil holdings in the Middle East.
      In 1979 a bunch of Iranian students overthrew the American Embassy and held the occupants hostage for almost 400 days. They felt it was a payback for overthrowing their government.  They turned the hostages loose the day Ronald Reagan came into office.  Needless to say this made for hostile relationships between the two countries.  The Shah of Iran was also kicked out of the country when the Muslim revolution took power.  The relationship has been hostile every since that time.  America also supported Iraq and its leader Saddam Hussein in a war with Iran from 1980 to 1988. Which amounted to payback for the payback. In the period of 1985 to 1987 the Reagan Administration was found to be involved in the Iran Contra Affair the CIA was selling arms to Iran to fund a war in Central America.  So in essence we were selling guns to both sides, which is a real Christian thing to do I suppose.  I had intended to say that the United States was and is a peace loving nation.  However when I ran the timeline.  I found since 1776 the United States has been in a war or occupying some country, some where all but eleven years out of 235 we have been around.  So I backed off on that statement.
     At some point after the Iraq-Iran war ended we severed ties or quit supporting Iraq.  Saddam must have felt the United States would not stop him if he invaded Kuwait and took their oil.  He was wrong and felt the full force of the United States military.  Iraq also received sanctions and was under some kind of sanctions right up to the start of the war in Iraq.  Saddam Hussein found a way to circumvent some of the pressure of the sanctions by going to the United Nations and getting permission to sell his oil for Euros instead of dollars so he would not lose so much money when making currency exchanges.  This is what led to his ultimate downfall.   He messed with the dollar.  For more info on how all that came about and why I encourage you to read my 4/15/11 blog on WMD's and you will have a better understanding.  The first thing the USA did after defeating Iraq was put their oil back on the dollar.
     Which brings me to my  final point. Iran is still selling their oil for Euros as are many of the "Axis of Evil" nations.  Taking their oil off of the dollar and selling it on world markets has made the dollar much weaker and not quite so "almighty."  That is the real reason the USA is so uptight about Iran's nuclear program.  They want to sell it as a WMD which it truly is, but like I said at the start it is about the dollar.  Is Iran really going to commit national suicide.  Sure they would love to take out Israel.  That can be averted by simply making it clear that any attack on Israel will be considered the same as an attack on the United States of America and will be retaliated against the same as if it was American soil.  I may be naive, but I do understand why Iran does not trust the United States.
       When you consider almost half of America was not born till after the events mentioned in this article.  It is understandable how the government can dupe the public into thinking they are truly concerned about nuclear weapons.  The reality says that it is not really and issue to worry about.  If I was going to worry about nuclear weapons it would be the ones that already exist in Pakistan with a terrorist friendly government.  The news today shook the dice in Korea and who knows where that will go.  Hopefully some of the facts I put in here will help Americans make sound decisions.  Maybe if we just apologized to Iran for overthrowing their government and tried to back it up with "some act of Christian friendship" the situation would defuse itself.  It won't happen as long as we have an in your face attitude though.  The whole Middle East is a powder keg waiting to blow. What happens when the Arab Spring hits Saudi Arabia and takes their oil out of the equation.  Then we have a problem.  Especially if the USA does not start moving toward an energy independent position.  It has gone down hill since 1979.  The problem really started when the United States let Great Britain talk us into helping them overthrow the legitimate and democratically elected government of Iran.  Not because of a real threat, but because of a perceived threat by Britain to "their" interests in the Middle East.
      With all the "Chicken Hawks" screaming for blood and pushed by the military hawks advising the administration we are headed towards a war.  Do we really need to fear Iran.  They are not a threat to us and the idea of supporting Israel by making a first strike is totally ignorant.  Israel needs to be told to stand down. If we make the cost of attacking Israel clear to Iran the threat of attack will be lessened.  If they would attack Israel or close the Straits of Hormuz we have all the threat and justification to attack and knock out any target we so chose.  If they choose to build a bomb let them.  It is not a threat.  If it becomes one we need to make Iran an example of what a nuclear wasteland looks like.
      We need to drop all the sanctions on Iran and extend a real olive branch.  At the same time we should make it clear to the people in Iran unhappy with their government that if anything happens to their country it is because they failed to act and remove a government that is hostile to world peace.  It is on their own heads if their country provokes the rest of the world into attacking them.  If they have anything to fear it is the irrational actions of their own government in provoking hostilities on the world.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Tax Break? How Do You Figure That? With The "New Voodoo Economics"?

       In December the President and Congress reached a compromise to keep the tax cuts in place.  The truth is they did not do you a favor.  Many previous administrations tried to figure out how to raid the funds in the Social Security Trust Fund.  Obama figured it out and he made it sound so good most Americans think they are getting a break.  What they are really getting is bent over and they are not even going to get a kiss.  It is not a tax break it is stealing from the future of the retirement system.   The truly sad part of the whole thing is that Congress went along with it and no one stood up for the American Taxpayer.  Obama made it sound good but what you are getting is your own money.  What they are not telling you is that down the road that money will not be there for your retirement.  The government is simply letting you keep 2% of your own money that should be going to your Social Security Retirement Account.  As the system was already in trouble and is going to have problems down the road. Now it is going to have bigger problems.  The money that should be there will not be there because you already got it as a tax break.  The only way it could be there is if they would raise the tax 2 or 3 % above what it is now suppose to be. That is counting on the economy getting better, but they are doing nothing to make it better.  The can is going to get worn out if they keep kicking it.
     Phony numbers seem to be the Obama trademark.  I guess his "Change you can believe in." is simply a change in how they count the numbers.  To be more electable Obama needs better unemployment numbers.
His administration has come up with a very effective way to do that.  The people who run out of unemployment benefits and the long term unemployed are simply no longer counted.  They still exist, but not in the database that the government bases its unemployment numbers on.  The truth is that nothing is better, but you just do not count up all the problem people anymore.  Looks good on paper and in the statistics that are released each month.  Everybody knows our government would never lie to us about anything.
    Want some more of the "Obama Math" which is solving Americas problems.  Obama claims that his administration is making over 1.1 Trillion dollars in spending cuts.  How is he doing that.  Well the money we have been spending on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan is no longer going to be spent.  His logic is that since we are not spending it that is a spending cut.  That is like taking money out the wallet in your back pocket and putting the money in your front pocket and saying you now have more money.  You do not and you did not save a dime.  It is all smoke and mirrors and has no connection with reality.  The money the government was going to spend is still going to be spent.  They are just not gong to ask for as much to spend.  That is the "New Voodoo Economics"if you do not ask for as much you have cut spending?  I do not think that is how it works.  If the debt level has not been cut then you have not cut spending.  At least that is how "old math" worked.
     So what has the Obama Administration done to improve the job market?  Not much. They have simply let time take care of the problem.   They have done nothing to create a job program that might solve some of America's problems, like crumbling infrastructure.  The government needs to create a long time, on going and funded program to take care of America's infrastructure.  Article 1., Section 8  of the Constitution lines out the obligations and duties of the Congress to America.  They took care of taxes and tariffs, they even raised and Army and Navy to protect the country.  However the Founding Father's also declared the Congress was to take care of Welfare of America.  At the end of section 8 they allocated money for the Capitol and the White House and they built them.  Those are items of infrastructure.  When they were destroyed in the War of 1812 they rebuilt them.  They took care of the infrastructure.  Somewhere down the line the government dropped the ball on taking care of infrastructure.
     Congress needs to examine the spending in America and make cuts where they can be made and where they violate the Constitution.  In the Bible, God said in Genesis 1:29 "Every herb and seed bearing plant was given to man for his use. That makes it and inalienable right as it was given by God to man.  The Founding Fathers grew plants that the government now says are illegal.  Why are we spending billions of dollars fighting a war that we can not win.  Prohibition should have proven that.  Are the gangsters still selling booze.? NO!!! They are selling drugs.  The same thing needs to be done to end that war and save the American taxpayers billions of dollars.  They need to tax, regulate and inspect crops.  At least then the ones abusing the drugs will be paying for the programs to take care of themselves instead of dumping it on the taxpayer in the form of prisons and prison guards.  Especially as it is a very racially biased system that tends to discriminate against minorities when just as many if not more whites use the same drugs.
    Will anything be done by the government to create jobs and balance the budget.  I really doubt it as it is to easy to just let things go on as they have been.  Nobody wants their piece of the pie reduced.  So the truth is it will continue to get worse and worse.  The second dip is coming.  It may take time, but it is coming as sure as the sun will rise tomorrow morning.  Countries that are lending America money for little or no return will sooner or later cut off the faucet to cut their losses.  When that happens America will have to face some grim realities and some very uncomfortable hardships.  Gas may hit a $1 a gallon again, but it will not matter if no one has a dollar to buy it.  I studied the Great Depression in detail and while times are hard.  They have not even come close to what the people in the Great Depression went through.  However if it continues the way it is going we will get there.  The only way to survive in that kind of an environment is to be debt free.  That is what my first blogs of this year dealt with.  My advice is to get your lifeboat in order.  The ship of state is going down if it does not change its course.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Money, Starting Over With A Direction and A Plan

      What do you do if the bottom falls out of your life?  It has happened to millions of Americans over the last couple years.  It is survivable but you have to have a plan.  Many people go through life responding to the disasters that occur.  It seemed that way in my life in 2008 as I watched the market collapse and my wife's retirement plan slowly crash right along with the market.  She lost almost forty per cent of her plan. That was not fun, but it did not hurt us as bad as it could have.  We had been planning on retiring for years.   I had a heart attack in Jan 2004 and had to sell my truck and quit trucking.  Fortunately we had been planning long before that and we just modified the plan.  The money we got out of the truck paid off my bills from trucking.  My wife fortunately had enough left when she got her cash settlement to pay off the rest of the bills and buy her a new car.  That car will hopefully last us till checkout time.  My car is an old beater, but it does what I need it to do.  We still have a house payment for a couple of years but we had planned for that and it was in the budget.
      The question is what do you do if unemployment falls on you without warning.  The first thing to do is adapt and get a plan. Cut costs and figure how to stretch every dollar to the max. That starts with down sizing.  Yard sales are the worst way to get rid of excess.  Craigs List is a much better way, but you have to take the time to put together good adds.  Where and how will you live if you  lose your house.  Many people do not know about tax sales, but that is a good way to get a house really, really cheap.  You can often get one for less than a thousand dollars.   The trick is to have the money at tax time.  The best way I know to do that short of selling something is to take your tax return and put that money back till the tax sale and use it for that purpose.  There is a catch though.  You buy the house at the tax sale but the person who owned it has a year to redeem the house.  If they do redeem it your mainly out for your time.  You will get your money back with interest.  As I said the catch you have to wait a year to move in.  So if you get your tax return sometime between March and June you have to figure how to provide a place for you and your family to live for anywhere from eighteen to twenty months.  If you use every trick in the system it can take the bank six to ten months to get you out of your present house.   If you can you can make the payment right up till you move into the house you bought at tax sale.  Why would you walk away from a house you can make the payment on.  Well if you still have fifteen to eighteen years to go and and you are going to have a house that is worth thirty to forty percent less than you paid for it, why not.  If it is nice and you like it go for it.  However if you simply walk away and let the bank have it back they do not have many options.  They can come after you for for the difference but you can fight that.  The best argument in that situation is that you counted on their expertise and they ripped you off.  The court will probably decide in your favor.  Even if they force you into bankruptcy you can keep the house you are living in most of the time. That would be the one you bought at the tax sale with no payment.  In the end you still get out of the debt and your now in a home with "NO PAYMENT."  If you can not work it out to stay in your house at least you shortened your survival period.  That takes your survival period down to eight to twelve months.
     The goal is to get the house and survive the wait.  Once you move in you have no payment except your property taxes and utilities.  Then you can start fixing the house as you go and either make it a permanent home or you can plan the sale of the house to get you enough to live a year and then move into another tax sale house. Ideally you would buy a second house make it liveable and rent it to provide yourself some income.  Doing this will be hard.  If push comes to shove you can move to an area where there is some work till you can move in the house.  You need to provide mowing and keep the lot neat till you can take possession of the property.  That reduces  the chance of vandalism.
    If you decide to go this route to get a house with no payment you need to do your research before the tax sale.  The county assessor will have a list of properties that may be sold at the tax sale.  They will tell you how much is owed in taxes.  That is your starting point.  Pick several properties that fit your budget.  Try to do it so you will have a few hundred left to get the utilities turned on.  Once you get your list of houses try and find out if there are liens on the property.  The liens will be released if you buy it, BUT it is a property that the bank or the one holding the lien may make a move to get the property.  Again if you bid and get the property you will get your money back if they exercise their lien.   However, that means you will be waiting another year and you do not want that.  You find out about liens at the county recorders office.  You can also find out who the actual owner is of the property.  Once you have that information you can simply ask them if they intend to pay the taxes.  Some will say yes just to keep people from bidding,  You have to make your own judgment on that.  If you find a property with no liens or minor liens ones up to a couple thousand dollars, they are usually by a contractor.  If the owner has no intention of claiming the property you have found one to safely bid on.  If the owner does not want the property try to make a deal with the lien holder to release the lien for part of the money. Now you have a property with no one going against you and you may well get the house.
     How can this happen.  Sometimes old people die with no Will and no heirs to leave the property to.  They may have had repairs done and the contractor may simply want his money.  The trick is the contractor may not know the house is available and just want his money.  If you let him know it is available he may go for it.  You can act like and tell them you have an interest in the house.  The trick is you have to make sure they release the lien.  If they do and there is no one to contest the or redeem the property you end up with a house.  Sometimes a house will get into this situation because a person simply left the area and has no desire to move back to the area.  You can determine this by simply contacting the owner and asking them.  Often they will tell you if they are not going to redeem the house simply to get the tax collector to quit hounding them for the back taxes.
     Hopefully you now can see why I say you need a plan and a budget.  You need to get your self organized to get out from under the debt beast and be an property owner.  One that actually owns the property.  Then fix the property as you can afford it. "DO NOT GET A LOAN"  it may be tempting but if you do you will end up right back where you were at.   Many people do not know you can do this and therefore they do not do it.
The trick is find a modest house in a decent neighborhood and follow through with your plan.  You will find some really nice homes at the tax sales.  However those are usually the ones that have a loan against them that the bank will redeem to get part of their money back.  Read all of my blogs on money and any other solid information you can get.  If you have questions ask me and if I can answer your question I will.  Thanks for reading  and I hope this helped someone.

Money, When You Are Underwater On Debt, When Is It Time To Bail Out

      Underwater is a term very common today.  It simply means you owe more than something is worth.  It may mean you owe more than you are worth.  At least in dollars and sense and not as person.  Another term for the same condition is upside down.  Whichever term you use and however you got there, it is not a good situation to be in.  The question is how do you deal with it.  Do you struggle and suffer and try to pay your way out of debt.  When you find yourself in this situation it comes down to a battle between the honorable thing to do and salvaging what you can to start over.  The banks and your creditors will push you to do the honorable thing. That way they get all they can out of you.  However when they feel threatened they will not extend you the same courtesy.  I know this from personal experience.  Your duty is to yourself and those who are dependent on you.
     Banks and creditors can write off debt and do not hesitate to do so.  That was proven during the housing crisis and the banking crisis.  Actions that put America into the sad financial situation it finds itself in today. Federal law guarantees each citizen the right to file bankruptcy when there is no hope of redeeming there situation.  That law was created to give citizens a second chance and an opportunity to rebuild there life.  The reality that sometimes though no fault of the borrower situations would arise where forgiving the debt was the only solution. However, be advised that certain debts are not terminated through bankruptcy.  Debts to the Federal government and student loans will remain as debts even after filing bankruptcy.  That being said bankruptcy is not a cure all.  You need to study your own situation and make your own determination which way is the best way for you to go.
    Pride and honor are important, but they are not worth putting yourself in bondage over.  In the early eighties I filed bankruptcy myself.  If you are interested my blog of 10/10/11 explains why and how I came to file bankruptcy in the last half of the blog.  During the bankruptcy I found some of my debtors worked with me and actually tried to reach reasonable solutions.  You can exclude some debt from a bankruptcy filing, but be advised that once you file the bankruptcy you are stuck with it.  Under the advice of my lawyer I filed on all my debt.  I owed taxes and student debt, but the rest was forgiven.  I kept track of who I owed what and and after the bankruptcy I paid off several of the creditors who had tried to help me.  I did not have to, I chose to.  The creditors who jerked me around and caused me to have to file bankruptcy did not get a penny. I have never done business with any of them since.  I am sure it did not hurt their feelings, but I also did not and do not send them any business either.
    Bankruptcy will ruin your credit.  That is a myth.  You will have more credit opportunities thrown at you than hopefully you can deal with.  The reason is they know that for seven years you can not file bankruptcy.  It may hurt you when buying a house or a car, but otherwise it won't really matter.  Also if you are following my plan you are working to be debt free and owe nobody anything.  Once you get in that status it will not matter about a credit rating.
   In closing let me say that the decision is yours and you have to make it.  If you are struggling to save a house or car that you are underwater you need to ask yourself a couple questions.  Is this a situation that I will be happy with when it is all resolved? If you save your honor and when you get done you are worth less than what you spent your time and money to save.  Why would you do that.   It is not a good business decision.  If you are confidant the property will eventually recover its value or you satisfied that you are staying in the home of your dreams.  Go for it.  However if you will end up with far less than you put into the investment it may be time to bail and file the bankruptcy.  One advantage of filing the bankruptcy you are released to move to a better location.  You are free to go where there may be more opportunity.  Like I said though you are the one that has to live with the decision.   Do not base it all on dollars and sense.  Base it on what is best for you and your future.  What is best for reaching your goals in life.  If you are going to put in the effort make sure that in the end it gives you what you want.  If it is what you really want out of life fight for it.  If it has issues and you could be just as happy starting over, start over.  Just make sure when you leave you know what the shortcomings of your present house are.  When you get your next one make sure it is even better or it is a step towards that better situation. Good luck in whatever you choose.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

New Year><>><> ><><>< ><> Will It Be A Good One Or A Bad One?

      It is hard to base the whole years outlook on one week. Do you base it on what has happened so far or what could happen in the future.  Well mine started out okay.  Watched the ball drop and then took a shower. At least I could start the year off with a clean record.  Later that day though I burnt my supper while talking to my grandson who had locked himself out of his car. Which was compounded by the fact his house key was on his key ring in the car.  Oh and it was like 30 degrees out.  His girlfriend was at work, his Mom was at work, and everything within walking distance was closed for New Years Day.  So I turned off the stove and left my burnt meal and drove twenty miles to pick him up.  Fortunately an eighty mile key trip was avoided when we tried the keys on my key ring.  Found one that worked on his door. I look like Santa Claus and my key ring sounds like jingle bells when I walk.  Anyhow most of the week went smoothly for me, but my brother's house almost burnt down on Tuesday.  My wife's brother got T-boned on Thursday and they took him to the hospital. He may have had a stroke.  Don't know all the details on that one yet.  Then I decided to clean up my shop beings we were having such spring like weather.  That was one of my resolutions and I wanted to get a head start on that project.  While at it I decided to set some stuff out front to see if anyone would stop.  I sold over two hundred dollars worth of furniture.  Made my day.  Do not know if the economy is getting better or it was just the two sunny spring like days that lifted people's spirit's.  Had not had a $200 month since summer of 08.  It was really shocking.  I do crafts and make stuff from recycled materials at my shop.  Then I take the crafts and sell them at flea markets and farmer's markets.  Mostly make "Bird Houses, Feeders & Chimes" which is the title of my Facebook Group page.  You are welcome to check it out and look at the pictures.  You can even make a comment and make my day.  So based on all that happened in the first week it is hard to tell which way to call it.  Was watching a news program on CNN and they were predicting Europe would cause a recession if America didn't.  Most of the people I talked to over the week seem to be in an upbeat mood.  That makes me feel America will survive whatever comes.  What with Christians waiting on the Rapture and the Mayan's predicting the end of the world I will just play it by ear.  Hopefully the last week of this year I will give an update looking back at the year.  From my point of view I am looking for and anticipating a good year.  Having had a heart attack and technically died in O4 any day and every day is a good day.  Or as the old fellow told me one day when I asked him if the was having a good day.  He said, "Any day I spend looking down at the grass and not up at it is a good day."  Having past that big 65 hump last month I tend to agree with him.  To everybody that reads my blog.  I wish you the best of everything for the coming year and pray you have peaceful and prosperous New Year.  Go with the flow or whichever way works best for you.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Money, Learning To Make It Work For You, Killing The Debt Beast

      How do you make your money work for you.  The first thing you need is a budget.  Budgets suck and they are a pain, but they work.  Why do you need a budget.  It tells you where your money is really going versus where you think it is going.  As I said in my previous blog, you need a plan and a budget.  With a plan you figure out where you want to go.  With a budget you figure out how you can get to where you want to go.  Budgets have three parts.  At least ones for planning things.  The first part is to figure out how much you need to achieve your goals. How much do you want to retire on.  How much is your favorite car going to cost.  How much for your dream home or vacation.  That is part A.  Part B is the important part.  You need to account for every penny you have and how you spend it.  If you already have bills.  How much goes on the principal and reduces what you owe.  Next figure how much you pay in interest on each bill every month. This part helps you figure out what your cost are.  Which things can you change and cut back on.  Or better yet totally eliminate. Finishing Plan B helps you do Part C.  Part C is where you figure out the difference between A and  B and establish how much you need to save or earn to realize your goal.
     It is not uncommon for people to owe as much as one quarter of their income in interest on their home, car and credit cards.  That means that half of your income is not yours.  How is that?  Remember what I said in my previous blog.  The borrower is the slave of the lender.  Unfortunately it is a truth that many people have fallen captive to.  Fortunately bills with interest can be paid off.  When the debt is eliminated the money becomes yours again.  The money that was obligated for bills becomes yours to do with as you please.  If you  still have debt the best thing you can do is continue to pay off the debt.  As you become debt free you have more money to live on.  Not only that but you do not need near as much to survive. You will always have some bills like utilities and groceries but it will not take as much to pay your bills.  You are moving towards real freedom. You will feel as if a burden has been taken off your back.  There are several ways to get the interest burden off your back.  How you do it will be determined by you and how serious you are about achieving your goals or dreams. The more of your money that is really yours, the sooner you will reach your goal.
     There is another thing that is nice about living debt free.  Your credit score does not matter.  Banks charge you more if they think you "MIGHT" be a risk.  It can be over something very minor or it could be over something that was totally out of your control.  Something like a medical bill that had a very high copay or maybe you did not have insurance.  So in essence you are being punished because you were poor or at least to poor to pay a very large bill that you had to pay through no fault of your own.  I will touch on this issue again later when I discuss the cost versus the benefit of having health insurance. I am sort of getting off track.
    You will learn something when you do a budget.  The big things that most people have financed like cars, houses and credit card debt are the things that take the most out of your pay.  Fortunately all these can be dealt with over time if you are serious about achieving your goals.  There may come a point in life when your debt becomes overwhelming through no fault of your own.  If one of you becomes unemployed it can be hard.  If both it can be devastating.  If you are single it may be hard to face, but most of the time going back home can give you a chance to reorganize.
      At this point I am going to use a figure that is easy to work with to show what I am talking about.  Say you make a $1000 a week gross income or about $4000 a month. Now right up front you loose as much as 30% for taxes insurance and whatever your employer deducts.  We are already down to $2800 a month to live on.  So now you take out the house/rent payment of say $600,  the car payment of $400 a month, utilities $200, cable/TV/internet $100, groceries$400 per month,lawn care$100.  Well now we are down to $1000 a month and we have not included gas, entertainment, cell phones, pet care or many other little things that you have to do monthly.  Hopefully when you get done your total budget will be less than $4000.  However do not be shocked if the number comes  up  to say $4500 or more.  That is not uncommon.  However it is how people get in trouble.  They do not look at  the whole picture.  They look at little pieces and many have no clue how much they actually spend.  The little pieces do not seem like much. You say I can afford this.  Then you say I can afford that.  The trick is can you afford all of the this's and that's together.  When you total them all up you might be surprised.  If you are monthly robbing Peter to pay Paul that is a good sign you need to sit down and really do a budget.  It is a sign you may have passed that point where all the this's and that's total more than you make per month.  If you are going to start saving towards a dream or goal you have to have income that is not committed each month.  If that is not the case, decisions have to be made.  What do I have to have? What can I get rid of that actually helps?
      How big of sacrifices are you willing to make.  If the totals come to over $4000 dollars you need to make some kind of adjustment or you will sooner or later be in bankruptcy court.  Many people have no idea how they got there.  What can go?  You can dump the cable and internet, you can start doing the yard work yourself.  You can be more frugal with the groceries and the eating out.  Where do I suggest you start. Well with you. If you are always broke and miserable you will not stay on a budget.  Give yourself say $10 a day to spend anyway you want.  Give yourself an allowance, but be reasonable.  My preferred method is to use envelopes and put in so much a day or week and stick to it.  Don't feel guilty. You work hard and you earn your money.  You deserve to be paid first not last. Now redo the bills and see where you stand.  With house, car and credit cards it is not uncommon for people to pay as much as a $1000 dollars a month in interest.  Getting rid of the interest debt is one goal you should strive for.  Eliminating bills you pay interest on will be a big help.  Do your really need the shiny new chick magnet to drive around in and stroke your ego.  Hopefully you are not upside down in the car.  If you aren't and get rid of it you are ahead.  Buy a cheaper car that you can pay cash for.  Now you no longer need the high cost full coverage insurance the bank required.  From my own experience my wife pays $1200 a year insurance on her car.  It is paid for but it is pretty new.  My car cost less than her yearly insurance.  I pay $200 a year for the insurance on my beater and I have no payment.  Just taking care of the car problem can save as much as $500 a month for the payment and insurance.  The next thing that most people do not need, but like to have are credit cards. You may have bank cards or store cards.  Store cards are okay if you pay them off every month.  If you do not they usually have high interest rates.  Bank cards vary.  Once you make up your mind to get out of debt cut up all the cards but one.  The one with the lowest interest and the lowest balance.  Start looking in the mail and on line for the no interest for 12 or 18 month deals.  Read all the fine print though. Make sure there is no annual fee. Then roll as much of the card debt as you can into a no interest card.  You will see why shortly.
     Here is how you handle the rest of the cards.  Most cards today have a section in the statement that tells you how much you have to pay to pay the balance off in three years which is a good goal.  Pay that amount as a minimum. That is not the minimum amount on your bill.  If you only pay the minimum amount which is on the bill you will never pay it off.  The credit card companies do not want you to pay them off.  They love taking that interest money. It you can not pay that much you are already in trouble.  Now take the total of the monthly payments and divide by ten.  Say the total is $1000 dollars.  You now commit by adding 10% to the total and paying $1100 a month till the debt is gone.  Here is how you do it.  Some people say to pay off the highest interest card or the largest debt card.  I prefer attacking the smallest debt card.  It will pay off quicker and you will see progress and that will encourage you to keep at it. Once you pay that small card off you roll that into attacking the next card.  Say the payment was $40 a month.  You added the extra $100 to it and paid it off in say three months.   Remember it was the little card.  Now you pick the next target.  Say its payment is $60 a month.  Now you add the $40 you paid off and the $100 extra a month to the $60 a month and you start paying $200 a month on the $60 bill. Hopefully it pays off in say four months and you go after an $80 a month bill.  Now you are paying $280 on the $80 bill.  Hopefully you see how this is working. The trick is to keep doing it till all the credit cards are paid off and hopefully torn up.  Suddenly you now have a $1000 a month that is "YOURS" and you do not owe to anyone.  You can start saving toward that dream or goal you had.  In just a year you can walk in and pay $12,000 cash for that low mileage next to new version of the car you got rid of. Buying a brand new car is like throwing money away.  As soon as you drive it, it looses several thousand dollars in value.  Is your ego that important to you?  You can buy the lower insurance and you have no payment.  Also you have the title.  You can use that title as collateral to get a loan from a bank.  Hopefully you read my earlier post and know how to do that through a credit union.  Even a regular bank should work with you if you have money in savings.  My dad used to get the banks to lower the interest rate on car loans by 2 or3 percent just by telling the banker he got a better offer at a competing bank.  It is learning how to play their game and if they are going to use your money.  Make them make it worth your while.  My next blog is about what to do if it is really drastic and you still are not in a positive income situation.  That means you owe more than you make.  Remember budgeting is something you have to stay at and  on top of.  It can make your life a lot easier.  Also there is nothing wrong with borrowing as long as you are the one who benefits.  I often borrow money to buy things I know I can sell at a profit.  In that case I do not mind using the banks money.  It is making money work for you, instead of you working for money.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Money, Do You Work For It, Or Does It Work For You.?

In the last month or so I have had several conversations with people who are near retirement. Many see no way that they will be able to do so. Even young people I talk to seem to have a negative attitude. They expect the system to be broke before they reach retirement. Then on the other hand I have a grandson who is a sophomore in high school who has two houses and plans to retire by age twenty-five. The whole thing is about attitude. If a person is only willing to work an eight hours day and makes no effort to get out of the rut of life they will die there. For those who do not know the definition of a rut let me tell you. A rut is nothing more than a grave with both ends kicked out. It just goes on and on.

If you want more out of life you have to drag yourself up out of the ditch of life and make something of it. No one is going to give it to you. You have to grab hold of it and take it. It is not my intention to start this off by preaching but there are some nuggets of truth in the Bible that confirms that attitude. Joshua says, in 1:8-9

" This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success. Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the LORD thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest. "

Notice in the underlined part it says "thou shalt" or more modern "you will" Who does it say will make your way prosperous? Not God, but you. The catch is you have to do it God's way and you have to apply the effort. Many will argue with me on this but, God will honor his word even if it is to a heathen. The difference is they will not know why they are being blessed. The reason they succeed is they are doing what God says to do even if they do not understand or know that they are doing it. The Bible says the rain falls on the just and the unjust. So do blessings to those who are doing what God says to do.

When you look at some of the wealthiest and most successful men in history they were not necessarily religious men. Andrew Carnegie made his fortunes in steel and then gave them away. The same is true of John D Rockefeller who made his fortunes in oil. In this day and age it is Bill Gates that could be an example. The easiest one to show how and why he made it big though is Henry Ford. His goal was to build cars anybody could afford.  He also paid his employees a wage above average for the time so they could buy the cars they built. None of these men is noted for his faith except maybe Carnegie. The thing that made each of them rich was that they provided jobs and met the needs of the societies they lived in. The common bond of all these men is that none of them started out wealthy. They all made their fortunes in the course of their lives. They all shared several characteristics. They were all tenacious, determined, frugal, focused and energetic men. The traits required of anyone who really wants to succeed in life.

Many, if not most, people go through life with no goals, no direction and no plan for what they would like to get from life. They live life one day at a time and let events steer their lives. Certainly things happen that the average person has no control over. Terminal illnesses and disabilities, even death is sometimes unavoidable. Many times though people just let the flow of life take them where it will. When dealing with the issue of wealth in life this is especially true. Most people I meet know that if they had a savings account life might be a little easier. Savings requires discipline when dealing with issues of money. However their are two things even more important than discipline even though indirectly they are tied to it. First is a budget. Without a budget discipline is useless. Without a budget you do not know how much you have and where it is going. You may argue that you do know. You pay your bills and there is nothing left to save. Over the course of my life I have often seen two men making the same money. One lives a very comfortable life and has savings and enjoys life. The other is constantly in debt and constantly coming up short. What is the difference. A budget, without one you can not account for your money. A good budget accounts for every penny and knows which ones do not need to be spent and which ones can be turned into savings. The second one is a plan of what you want and how you can accomplish your goals. This requires using your budget and managing it to get the things you want out of life.

How do I know this works. Well after 65+ years of life I have had the opportunity to see it in action and experience it on a first hand basis. I have been through bankruptcy and I have run my own businesses. I have been virtually debt free three times in my life and I have managed to get back into debt. Early in my business life I went bankrupt and had barely $15.000 dollars in debt. Yet later in life I had over $100,000+ dollars in credit card debt alone and managed to pay it off. At one point my total debt business and personal debt was almost a half million dollars. Fortunately by the time I died. (They managed to bring me back) my debt was low enough that when I was forced out of business for health reasons I could almost pay the balance off by getting rid of my equipment. That was strictly from being blessed, not from any great planning or skill on my part. The point of telling the above was not to brag but to show I have been down the road I am talking about. While I was always willing to take chances and go where I felt life and God was leading me, my wife was just the opposite. She graduated college, got a job for the college and stayed in the same job her whole working life.

A short sidebar: The Bible says that gray hair is a sign of wisdom. Well my hair is all gray and so is my beard. As I am the type person who only learns from their mistakes you can see I made quite a few. My wife also has a beautiful head of gray hair, but hers came from all the things I put her through in life.

Getting back on track my goal is to share some of the things I have learned over the course of my life that hopefully will enable someone else to do like my grandson and retire young. Not after being beaten down by the burdens of life. Why is my grandson in that position at such a young age. The mistakes of his grandparents and parents have been shared. We all cared enough to help him see that there was a better way to live life. Will he succeed in his goal. As long as he stays focused and continues work diligently toward what he wants out of life. Hopefully I can break this blog into several parts that will all be helpful and that make sense when put together. It will be far to much to put it all in one blog. Well I guess it is time to get started. Some of this will make sense and some you may already know. This is written for the person who is just coming to the conclusion there has to be more to life than starving to death on an eight hour a day job or working two or three jobs to get what you want out of life.

The first thing the average person needs to learn is a Bible verse. That is Proverbs 22:7 and it is true whether you are a Christian or an Atheist. " The Borrower is the Slave/ Servant of the Lender" Remembering this truth will help set you free. It is one of the greatest truths ever told. Why is it true? Because for every dollar you owe, you need to make two dollars. You still need the dollar you are giving the lender to live on. Therefore to pay him back you need to make two dollars. One for the lender and one for yourself to live on. Lenders even rip you off when you are saving your money. I am not advocating using a mattress to hide your money, but it will help you to understand some of  these things and how they work.  Then you can use them to your advantage. The lender/savings bank holds "your" money because you let him. He may pay you a pittance for its use. Today a savings account is lucky to pay 1% on your money. Yet while it is in the bank the banker will lend it to some one else. If it is something like a mortgage he may get 4% to 6% on your money. He gets five percent just for holding your money. If he lends it for something riskier like a personal loan or a used car loan he may charge 9% to 12%.  You still just get 1%.  Are you starting to see how banks work. Well how do you beat the system? There are two ways to do it. Invest your money in things that may make you more money.  I prefer physical assets that I can control and do not evaporate with the fluctuations of the markets. Even holding assets you need to be careful. If it can not be converted to cash or something you need it may really be costing you in the long run.  Stocks and retirement accounts are not necessarily going to make you money. Why do I say that? I watched my wife through no fault of her own watch her retirement account shrink by almost 50%. Over fifty thousand dollars just evaporated during the housing crisis and there was nothing she could do about it. The state was looking out for her interests? Short of quitting her job which was not a viable solution at the time she just had to bite the bullet and bear it.

      If you have no control over your money that is one thing. However with a little research you can find far better alternatives to a regular bank. You might try and find a local Credit Union you can join. They have some far better programs. Aren't they going to charge you money to borrow money just like a bank? Yes but they usually pay a little better rate on your savings. They also have a unique program that not many know about. You can get an account secured loan. How does that work. Well you take out a loan but you put money from your savings up as security.  You can not spend the money while it is securing your loan, but if it is your savings you probably did not intend to spend it in the first place.  Say you want to buy a new car and you have the money to cover it in your savings account.   The loan rate for a new car is three and a half per cent.  The credit union charges you interest on the loan, but they also still pay you interest on your savings.  If they are paying two per cent on savings you end up paying only the difference which is maybe one and one half per cent.  Can you see how it works.  The good part is that as you  pay the loan down they lower the amount they are holding as security.  So when the car is paid off you still have the money in your savings account and you have a paid off car you can use as collateral to get a loan if you might need one. This can put you in a much better position than dealing with a regular bank.

    Hopefully you now see why banks are so eager to lend you money and give you credit cards.  Especially if you are a responsible person who pays their bills when they are do.  You are their dream client, but if you are really that responsible you owe it to yourself to break out of the debt cycle and learn how to live debt free. It can be done but it takes discipline and will power.  It will not happen over night but it will happen a lot quicker than you anticipate.  Especially when you start taking control of your life and you start making decisions based on a sound understanding of how money works.  The trick is learning to make it work for you.  It can and it will.  You have to be the one who not only has a budget, but the one who controls your budget.  You also need to have goals you can aim for to keep you focused.  Next time I hope to explain how to budget and how it helps you.