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Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Energy Is Driving American Economy Toward A Cliff, And Into An Abyss

      Heard a man I normally like make a statement that I totally disagree with.  He argued energy had nothing to do with the housing bubble bursting.  As a retired owner/operator truck driver and history buff.  He blew it on this one.  From 1995 till 2005 I watched many truckers fold and go out of business.  Most of it was because they could not deal with escalating fuel prices.  Many of them were driving trucks they could barely afford the payment on.  The escalating cost pushed them over the edge.
       That is exactly what happened to many in the housing market also.  They got into houses that were really unable to afford.  That was thanks to a program endorsed and pushed by the Clinton Administration.  At the same time they passed the housing bill they also passed the largest cut in Capital Gains taxes in history. The capital gains tax was pushed by them Speaker of the House Gingrich. That set the stage for failure and laid the foundation for the economic crisis America finds itself in today.  While they cut the capital gains tax they did not cut the spending it had paid for.   Yes they balanced the budget for a couple of years.  It looked good on paper.   However the seeds of destruction were growing.  Finance companies started making less than sound decisions and lending more and more.  They did this so they could rake off the capital gains and put them in their pockets in the form of bonuses.  It worked fine for awhile.  As they say though, all good things come to an end.   All those marginal loans started riding on very thin ice as energy prices continued to climb and climb.
      People who had bought the houses had virtually no margin for increases in cost.  As prices went up decisions had to be made.  Not so suddenly but increasingly they had to make decisions about how and what to pay.   When it came to a choice between eating, keeping the family wheels and usually their job or the house payment it was an easy decision.   The house was the money eater.   They had little commitment to it. They had not been forced to make the sacrifices many of the previous home owners had.  They chose to bail on the house.   They simply moved to a less costly place.  Slowly the market started to fill with houses that had been bought and sold at inflated prices.  I know this because I had friends who were wheeling and dealing in real estate.  Banks simply wanted to move houses and get the papers to sell on the market.  It waa a boom time.  It was not uncommon for a real estate dealer to buy a house for one price,  inflate the price 40 to 50% and then get it financed with someone who had a "guaranteed loan." The qualification standards were very, very liberal.  The amounts and income of many buyers had nothing to do with reality at all.  It was a game.  Find the appraiser who would say it was worth what you wanted and who the bank trusted.   Many appraisers got rich taking under the table payments to get a loan that all the parties involved, including the buyer, knew had nothing to do with the reality of the situation.
     It was a period when money was fast and loose.  When you could borrow almost any amount on anything as long as you knew how to ask for it in a way that made the bank feel they were making a good deal.  Bankers often had no more knowledge of the real worth of the house they were lending on than they did of how many inches of snow might fall next winter.   Many of them were just as gullible as the buyers, or as willfully blind,  when they made the deals.  None of them thought there would be a day of accounting in the matter.
   Some of the ignorance was acquired because of market trends over a long period of time.  When the oil embargo hit in 1973 and again in 1979 the American auto industry tried to respond and built a number of small cars in response to the crisis.  They came out with the Chevette, Omni, Horizon, Pinto, Vega, Maverick and other small cars.  However as the gas crisis eased Americans started trending back to the powerful cars they had always preferred.  Cars my kids jokingly refer to as barges.  When the next crisis came American auto manufacturers had decided Americans would pay any price for gas and ignored the rising prices.  Bankers basically followed the lead of the auto industry.
    Then in the late 90's the perfect storm hit politically.  Politicians started playing fast and loose with the rules.  As I said earlier compromises were made which led not only to the housing bust, bu to the very situation we find ourselves in today.  The only solution is to come up with the funds for the government to manage it bills.  The people who should pay are those who raped the system.  However they have convince the government it is not their fault.  It did not happen in a vacuum and somebody is responsible and should pay.  My vote is those who benefited from it the most.  As many average Americans contributed to their retirement accounts and the same flakey dealers were dumping paper and loans they knew to be worthless into retirement funds. Raping them along with the home buyers.  It is a very tangled web and simply punishing the banks only continues to strip people of their retirement investments.  The system does need to be changed.  However the Congress that needs to fix the problem is the same one that caused the problem.  They do not have the will to do so.  If they do not fix the problem though  America is headed for a depression that will make the Great Depression look like a cake walk.  It is going to take them standing on their own two feet and passing tax increases and making very severe cuts in spending that will hurt everybody somewhat.  Failure to do so though will carry much more disastrous consequences.  It will be a world wide depression, much like the one that set the stage for World War II.   With all the turmoil in the Middle East already that is something that I do not think the world really wants to see.
     So yes John King whether you like it or not,  Energy prices did drive the housing market and burst the bubble.  It is still driving the economy.  If you read my older post on what WMD really means.  You will get the whole picture of what is wrong.  It is not something that happened in the last couple months or years.  It is something that has played out over a very, very long period of time.  Much like the men who passed the Constitution with the statement that some men are only 3/5th's of a man.  A day of accounting was coming down the road.  It took almost seventy years to rectify, but the seed was planted with the passing of the Constitution.  Just as it says all men are created equal.  The rich are not better, just luckier or more blessed, but that carries obligations.  They will pay them one way or the other, sooner or later.  As they say, "the writing is on the wall"  America has come up short of its ideals.
     If you do not think actions in the past have consequences.  Consider that our Constitution was created to deal with issues created by the Revolutionary War and the pirates of the Barbary Coast (Libya today)  We find ourselves in the mess over there.  Because we violated our own doctrines.  That being the Monroe Doctrine which was our guiding doctrine for years.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Open Letter To Obama, What is Wrong and How to Fix It

      I sent an open letter to President Obama showing him a way to create thousands of jobs, with technology that is already available.  My hopes and expectations of getting a reply are slim to none.  However I put in my two bits and can show there are ways to create jobs and not with taxpayer money.   The program I submitted also addresses America's energy crisis.  The more I hear the president the less I think he is sincere in his desire to help America.  I am posting this just so people can know he has been sent viable solutions. His actions or lack of them is on him.  So the rest of this post is stuff I sent him.  Part of it is a previous post but it is important at least I think so.

Dear President Obama,

      This letter is sent as a concerned citizen   I am neither Republican or Democrat, but Independent and concerned with the situation America finds itself in.  Having spent thirteen years in the military it is my observation that leaders are defined by the situations that arise on their watch.  In my opinion you got a raw deal.  You were given a broken economy and an empty piggy bank and the obligation to fix it.  I think you have done an outstanding job considering.  Being a history buff I fear we are headed toward making the same mistakes that were made by Hoover.  His actions or lack of them plunged us into the Great Depression.  He denied the gravity of the situation, which you have not.   However he waited till it was to late to turn it around to take action.  He thought it was just a temporary blip.  This situation we find ourselves in is nothing knew. It happened in the 1870’s, 1890’s and 1920’s and always does after large moves forward.
      It is my opinion that the present situation is going to define your presidency.  It is also my opinion there are ways out of this situation.  It will be determined by your actions and by thinking outside the box.  I would first like to make a couple comments.  I come from a very democrat area.  Enclosed you will find a picture taken on election day in 2008.  It should not take you long to see what is missing in that picture.  On twitter and the internet I hear people slam you and it bothers me.  While I did not vote for you it is my job as an American to support the person in the White House.  I post the below paragraph on my blog and twitter account all the time and I believe it.  That is why I am writing this.  It is to offer you a view that is outside the box.

                 “Obama was fed the American dream & naive enuf to believe it, determined enuf to
                             pursue it, proved it is true.  Now what is he going to do with it”          

     The attached sheets have ideas and opinions that could turn or start a turn around. They can be initiated by private industry and would create thousands and thousands of jobs.  The governments only roll would be to eliminate red tape and maybe give some tax breaks as incentives.  The thing it will take to get it rolling is a call to arms.  If nothing else I have learned from President Obama, he is good at putting forth ideas.  This one would require calling together the leaders and asking for their help.  This would bypass Congress and from what I have seen at many rallies and your State of the Union speech.  Americans are willing and want to help America.  What they need is leadership.  You got the job, now what are you going to do with it.  Your actions or lack of them will be what defines your Presidency.  I agree with you that the dream still works. However it is not just going to happen.  Look again at that picture and you will see that some parts of America were trying to stop you before you even got started.  Good Luck in all you do.      

Respectfully Yours,

Richard F. Ryan

                               America Needs Energy Independence & Jobs, Here’s A Solution              

       I am glad for once to say I am wrong.  Today the Dow is above where it was three years ago and the Nasdaq is higher than it has been in eleven years.  That is clear back before Bush took office.  Jobs are up and while the housing market may not have hit bottom some trends show signs of improvement.  There is a trend toward multi-generational housing.  That is not all bad as it may help America return to the values it had in earlier generations.  If you have ever driven the back roads of New England you often see rambling built on and extended frame homes.  Especially in the country.  They are houses that were extended to meet generational needs, most of them during the Great Depression.  Today many of them are Bed& Breakfasts.  While those facts are  nice my goal is to put out a plan that will create jobs nationwide and also conserve energy.  So what is my expertise that qualifies me to  make such a proposal.  I spent thirty years in transportation. Thirteen of it in the military logistical fields.  My civilian experience includes being self employed and hauling produce.  Being married to an X-migrant worker for almost forty years.  I have seen the produce industry from several sides.  As a business owner(trucking) I had opportunity on many occasions to talk to other business owners.  I watched a man who had years of experience at farming fail when he tried to enter the produce business.  A big part of the reason for his failure was the high cost of energy to heat the greenhouses.  They hired Mexicans, but many of the Mexican families no longer follow the crops.  They are getting out of the fields. In my wife's family all thirteen kids left the fields. Three went to college, four went into factories and some work in other administrative type jobs.  With all that being said here is the idea.
       At present most of the produce that goes to markets on the east coast and New England states, especially in the off seasons up north, comes out of Florida, California and Mexico.   All of these suppliers are thousands of miles from the markets they are serving.  It does not have to be that way.  There are hundreds of power plants all through the Midwest and North Eastern states.  They all have abundant supplies of energy that they burn to generate energy.  The waste product, "heat" goes up the chimney and is wasted.  To power companies the heat is simply a by product.   With very slight modification the plants could capture much of that energy and use it to heat greenhouses built in proximity to their power plants.  This helps in several ways. First thousands of trucks do not need to run clear across America just to deliver some produce.  Each truck running from California to say New York City burns between 500 and 600 gallons per truck.  You multiply that times the thousands of trucks that are making the trip daily, weekly or annually and you are talking millions and millions of gallons annually.  There are hundreds of intermediate markets that need serviced also.  Look at a map.  All those cities represent people that need to eat.  Building thousands of greenhouses across the country shortens the supply lines and creates local jobs.  The technology is available and the engineering modifications required are minimal.  The energy and cost savings to America would be immense.  It would make a major stride in moving toward energy independence.  It would create jobs upgrading the plants, jobs building and maintaining the greenhouses, jobs for workers to grow the plants, pack and ship them to local markets.  It will take good management and eventually the power plants would see a return on their investment.  The key is keep the cost low so it is economically feasible.
     Another benefit is that it would lessen the wear and tear on America's highways, bridges and other infrastructure.  It would not eliminate trucking jobs.  It would change how and where they run.  It would change the types of jobs.  The main impact would be on the economies of already hurting states like Florida, California and Texas.  These changes could be offset with some business changes.  Not all plants and produce would adapt to the changes.  However enough would to make it worth while.  There are plants that take mass acreage to grow like watermelons and cantaloupes,  also products like citrus that would not work with a greenhouse operation.  Over time with development even some of the need for those products might be met.
     What would it take to get this program in gear?  How about the President calling a meeting of all the major power distributors in America.  He could lay out the plan and ask what kind of tax breaks they would need to get this going.  The upside is that it could be done by private industry and not with government money.  It might require changing some regulations and securing some land near the power plants.  It will also take developing teams to run the greenhouses and market the produce effectively.  It is all doable with technology that is out there right now.  It mainly takes committing and doing it.  It is not pie in the sky, it is real jobs and it is available right now.  With proper motivation the first greenhouses could be in business for the fall season.
     Oh yeah I almost forgot.  One other possible benefit is a reduction in cost, because of the shorter supply lines required to get stuff  to market.  This would lessen the demand for energy and possibly prove to be a way of lowering costs for the average American.
     This could be beneficial to American national security.  We would not be as at risk in case of attack by a foreign country or natural disaster. In the this age of terrorism,  What if a group of terrorists decided to cut America in half.  Ten to twenty tons of fertilizer made into a bomb could easily drop a bridge into the river.  If you think I am wrong remember the Oklahoma city bomb was only about two tons.   Dedicated terrorists like the ones who planned 9/11 could easily get hold of a semi and make the bomb or bombs.  Trucks are stolen all the time.  If we look at the Mississippi River it has from Minneapolis to New Orleans only eleven interstate bridges across the river.  Six of those bridges are in the New Madrid fault zone.  If the “big one” which is said to be overdue happens and at the level of the 1811-12 quakes those bridges might be out of commission.  This would effectively cut America in half.  There are only twenty eight bridges total on the Mississippi in the same area.  Over half of those are in the New Madrid zone.  The collapse of those bridges would effectively cut America in half.  With the present system in the right season a large quake could place all the states east of the Mississippi in danger of not being able to get food supplies.  This is a situation that could be remedied by proper prior planning.  It is why I also think the movement towards renewable energy should focus on individual home units.  This would limit the effects of some kind of major disaster.  All of America would not go down if the grid did.  It would be more effective for national preparedness in case of a natural disaster or attack.
      Having spent thirteen years in the Army and over twenty years in civilian trucking I have had time to ponder the what if’s.   In my humble opinion America is not ready for some very possible what if’s

                                             America What Is Wrong and How To Fix It

      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.  It should be run at the state level. With Fed oversight.
       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.

Monday, February 20, 2012


     Years ago there was a phrase used to describe the nuclear arms race.  It was MAD or Mutually Assured Destruction.  It dealt with the issue of mutual annihilation that would happen if a nuclear war ever started.  Well today with a little history study I have found out that the two party system in American is headed towards and Economic MAD scenario.  All the problems happening in the United States economy right now are the result of incompetent leadership.  Leadership passed laws years ago that have pushed us into this situation.  They failed to follow the "Eight P's Program."  When I was in the Army we had a saying that if you followed the Eight P's everything would turn out right.  What were the Eight P's, simply put Professional and Proper, Prior Planning, Prevents Piss Poor Performance.  The problems in America today are happening because both parties failed to look at the long term consequences of their actions.  The situation we find ourselves in was caused by the efforts of both parties working together. The real sad part is that one of the key players and planners that caused this whole fiasco is presently running for President of the United States.
    When you read or listen to a lot of the political and financial commentary you would think all the problems we have in America have just come into being in the last few days or months.  The reality is much of what is going on today was created and set in place clear back in the mid 90's.  Yes clear back when Bill Clinton was President and fighting a Republican controlled Congress headed by none other than Speaker Newt Gingrich.  They pushed through compromises and made some deals that were not at all well thought out.  They sounded good at the time, sort of like having a spur of the moment affair with some good looking Bimbo.  It sounded good at the time and was probably fun at the time.  However several years down the road when you are dying of Aids, in hindsight it might not seem like the best decision you could have made.  The irony of the situation is that both parties were distracted from what they should have been doing by their weak moral characters.  They were both lacking in principles and made bad decisions.

     The sad part is America is paying for them taking their eye off the ball.  Either they did not really think out the legislation that they worked together to pass. Or they intentionally stuck it to the American people. The Republicans, much like now were narrowly focused on cutting and balancing the budget and defeating an incumbent Democrat President.  They convinced President Clinton that passing a balanced budget was possible but each side wanted some minor concessions.  The Republicans to make a point shut down the Federal government and refused to pass legislation till they got a balanced budget.  They also wanted a couple of other concessions.  The Republicans wanted a concession on the capital gains taxes. They passed the largest capital gains tax cut in history with 389 members of the house voting for the measure. This in essence reduced the national income, but they made no cuts in spending to offset what they did, which has had the effect of raising the debt to unprecedented levels. They also argued that dividend, investment and capital gains should not be taxed.  The Tax Payer Relief Act of 1997 sowed the seeds of the problems we face today.
    The other legislation that sowed seeds to the problems we have today are more easily seen.  They passed legislation to make it easier for low income families to purchase their own homes.  We all know where that went.  It caused the housing bubble.  It was not an accident.  It was regulation that was not at all well thought out.  If you can’t afford a house, you simply can’t afford it.  When the energy crisis hit a few years later as the housing programs gathered steam.  Suddenly people who were living on the edge were forced over the edge.  However it was the perfect storm about to happen.

      The three years of balanced budgets started to hit the economy.  The market was having problems before 9/11 but those events pushed things to the breaking point.  Suddenly we were at war and needed all that money that the Republicans had given away in the form of tax cuts for the rich.   The national debt started to sky rocket and not all because of the wars.  In the short eight years Bush was in office the national debt doubled.

     The wars absorbed our attention and things started to get better but it was short lived.  Shortly after 9/11 gas prices started a slow creep up.  The earlier Enron scandal created a bump in the markets in 1999-2000 along with the technology bubble bursting.  These was aggravated by 9/11 and the two wars going on.  The heads of the Enron scandal had been arrested and sentenced, but that did not fix things.  The traders were still loose and started pushing energy prices up again.  The energy problem really started taking its toll from mid-2006 to mid-2007 as people started having to make choices between which bills to pay.  When it came to eating, keeping the wheels and letting the house go.  The house went.  It was the big money eater. 
     The government programs that had encouraged lending to low income and marginally qualified started taking a toll.  The speculators that had played fast and loose with the mortgage market started bailing.  As the mortgage bubble burst the energy speculators scrambled for safety.  Capital gains were being scraped off the top and socked away.  They started trying to protect themselves.  The market took a major hit as the rats scrambled for safety.  It all came to a head in October2008.  Suddenly everything started shutting down.  Jobs just disappeared as people could no longer invest.  The markets collapsed, so did many people's safety net.  Retirement accounts lost as much as 50% of their value.  I know this to be a fact as my wife happened to retire during this time period.  Businesses scaled back.  We got through all that but just barely.  It is still ongoing almost four years later.

     What most people do not realize is that the second wave is headed our way.  As Congress and the President have not a clue which way to turn.  Gas prices are starting to go up.  They are predicted to hit $4 a gallon by May.  AGAIN.  The millions of unemployed can barely get by now as it is.  However unemployment is running out for many.  Many that had been holding on by their fingertips are going to be forced into the financial abyss.  Foreclosures will start a gradual climb up as the gas prices increase.  Layoffs will start again.  I do not like to forecast gloom and doom but the writing is on the wall.  The only good thing is that most of the rest of the world is in the same boat as the United States.  If they do start getting better financially it could be bad for the U.S.  Should they decide to quit investing in America, as they are getting nothing for their money.  As the saying goes, you ain't seen nothing yet.

    The thing is, it is something that is addressable. However the politicians are too busy fighting each other to see what is coming.  They are in denial.  That is obvious as they are doing nothing to reduce the debt.  It is dragging the whole nation down.  They are so busy pointing fingers at each other they fail to realize there are four pointing back at them.  They created this mess, but none are smart enough to fix it.  I sent a letter to President Obama with a possible and functional solution to at least get the ball headed in the right direction.  I do not expect to hear from him.  However I am going to post it next.  I encourage you to send it to the president, your congressman and your local power plant operator.  Also to your friends and have them send it in.  Or you can sit on your hands and do nothing and say later," How did I get into this situation."

   I am sixty five and I am not that smart, but I have spent most of my life studying history.  As they say history does repeat itself.  My career was spent in logistics in the military and transportation in civilian life.  My goal at my job was to find better ways to do things.  I have enough knowledge of the Great Depression to know that America right now is like a man with one foot off the cliff over an abyss.  The next step will determine what happens and if they make the wrong decision and do nothing.  The cliff is going to give way and it is a long, long hard way to the bottom.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

America, Crash Just Ahead

    Sad to say it sounds like another Crash is just around the corner. Just a matter of time. In spite of  hearing some nice things in the news.  Jobs are up. Unemployment is down. Some companies are posting record profit. Foreclosures have leveled off and the housing market seems to be hitting bottom.  That would all sound good except for one minor piece of bad news. Gas prices are predicted to go up.  Maybe as high as $4 by May. That is not good news because it was high fuel prices that drove the housing bubble to the breaking point.  Already hearing people talking about cutting back to survive. The 06/07 gas price spike was the catalyst that drove the housing market over a cliff.  Americans are definitely not much better off that they were back then.  Many have been working to dump debt.  If gas prices go up so does everything else.  Almost every thing is tied to the price of gas.  Slowly it eats the very small margin many Americans live by.  Most Americans do not have a cash reserve.  They live from paycheck to paycheck and pray nothing comes along to bust the bank.
    In the Great Depression it was about 3 1/2 years from top to bottom and that is where we are at right now.  The market is slowly climbing back up, but it is a house of cards and there is nothing to really support it.  There is plenty of money but those who have it are not willing to let it go.  Really you can hardly blame them.  What really burns me is to listen to the supposed gurus of finance telling people to keep investing in a broken system. It is madness.  Why keep shoveling money into a bottomless pit with very little hope of seeing a return.  There are lot safer ways to invest your money.  Just putting it in your pocket is better than investing in a system that you know is going to lose you money.  At least in your pocket you have control of it.
    One sign of the problem is the escalating prices of everything you need.  Food prices are up, utilities are up, every thing you need is up and as gas prices go higher they will continue to go up.  The only way I see to survive is invest money yourself and my preferred way to do that is real estate.  However that is not done by paying market prices and interest on a piece of property.  The idea is buy a piece of property at a tax sale for a $1000 or less.  No payment means no interest.  Then you can either move in it and dump the house and payment you are now paying.   Or you can put it on the rental market.  It will pay you back your investment five to six times over.  If you take half and put it back in and buy more property and rent it out on the market. You are building a source of income.   Beings you owe nothing on it you can afford to sit on it and pick good renters.  You can also afford to be a hair below the going rate which will make your tenants want to stay in your rental property.  If you keep working a side job and putting half the money from the houses back into buying more property.  In just six years you can have enough houses that you will probably not have to work anymore unless you desire to.
     You certainly can not do it buying houses through banks with payments and taxes you end up doing nothing for yourself.  The house payment on a bank financed house is usually to close to the rental price of most properties.  I am getting away from the whole point of this post.  It is to warn that hard times are coming and to rein in your spending and do not make any big commitments that limit your ability to react to what is happening in the economy.
     Oh but the market is going back up.  It made several false reversals in the Great Depression.  When all was said and done thought the market had fallen 89%.  The scary part is that the Fed is in such a sad financial situation it is not going to be able to do anything but watch the collapse happen.  When all the outside money quits flowing into our system because they no longer consider it a safe investment.  Or they fear losing their money and start bailing out on the U.S. the bottom could fall out.  Just based on what happened back then the bottom would be around 1560.  You say that could never happen. That is what happened back then.  Hoover kept saying it ain't that bad.  We will get through it.  We did, but not till it destroyed almost everything in the process.  It took almost 12 years to recover and the only way that happened was by a World War.  Maybe that is why we are pushing so hard on Iran to justify a way to build our way out of the debt.  However wars nowadays are not destructive enough.  When they are we jump in to fix the problems we created and end up being farther behind than when we started.
     Not to rationalize or change topic, but it sure looks like America has turned it's back on God, and now he is going to return the favor.  It says clearly that in the end of days hard times will be the norm.  Good luck.  Hopefully you can read this a year from now and tell me I was wrong.  I will be glad to hear it, cause we have to also get by the Mayan doomsday prophecies which predict the end in December of everything.  Sorry about all the good news.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

MONEY: From Trash To Treasures with Pictures----- How I Do It. Hope U Enjoy It.

 Over the last three years I have written about 27 articles dealing with personal finances.  They started with what to do when you become unemployed and how to deal with it. As the saying goes, "Been there done that."  While times may be hard it is not the end. See my 2/6/12 post for the story. Over a 20+ year period I also ran my own business. If you type in Money in the search bar at the start of my blog, it will bring up blogs that might help those that are in financial trouble. They cover everything from how to generate some income, how to start over, how to get a house cheap, and starting your own business. Hope some of them help somebody.  Thanks for visiting my site

     I have explained in several of my blogs that when I had my heart attack and became unemployed we needed to cut back.  The one area I could help with was the trash. I knew I could do it cheaper than the $25 a month we were paying to get it carried away.   Just hauling it to town and paying per bag was cheaper than what we were paying.  We did not have a lot of trash.  About eight bags on average.
   Having had several people ask about it I decided to do a page with a lot of pictures to show you how to do it. You can make your stuff out of about anything.  This first picture is of an old detergent bottle.  Pictures of birds using it is what sells it.  I get $3 to $5 out of them,  I call them redneck feeders, gets laughs and a few
bucks.  The whole thing is to use your creativity to help meet your needs.  Hopefully you will see something you can find or use that will work for you. Like anything you have to plan it, pursue it and do it to make any money at it.  It does not just happen.  If your waiting for the government to help your wasting your time.  The only thing they care about is their own paychecks. As long as they continue to get them you will not see them worrying about you.

 If you go to a Farmers Market or Flea Market good pictures will sell the item for you.  You just have to be creative enough to take the time to do it. That whole deck and patio area is all made from recycled materials.  The little fireplace was a gift from my daughter Angel and her family.  The sunflowers came up volunteer from what fell off the bird feeders.  Hope this helps someone to find a way to help themselves make a few bucks to get by.  It helped me  in several ways.  It gave me something to do and money for the little things I need that the retirement check does not quite cover.  So here we go.

Milk jug feeders usually bring only about $3 but but even a $1 beats paying to get rid of it. It is another of my Red NeckFeeders.  Selling point is that the buyer does not have to do the work.  A razor knife, a piece of clothesline and drill a hole in the cap and your in business with this one.  You can make about ten of these an hour.  Some days they fly away and some days they just sit.  Sooner or later they sell though. Especially if you have proof they work.  With all feeders make sure you make plenty of 1/8 inch holes for drainage so the feed does not go bad.  You can get creative and paint them bright colors, but I usually leave them the color they are.  My big contributions is to take a marker and put the words Red Neck Feeder on them.
 A little time, a little paint and a few pieces of scrap wood and you have the makings for this green feeder.  One of the later pictures shows how it works.  The perch holds in a bottle or a can, which acts as the living area.  Selling point is the easy clean out. Get about $7 to $10 on these.  The more elaborate the paint job the more you can get out of it.  The point of these things is that if you are out of money it can make you some change to get by and save you some as you do not have to pay to get rid of it.
    I break my trash into several groups. Garbage which goes in my compost pile and helps the garden.Burnables which is exactly what I do with them. Junk mail makes good fire starting material.  I live in the country but still have to burn in a metal container.  If you work it right you can get a $1 to $2 from neighbors for hauling off their trash.  Then you break it down and end up with only about one bag to get rid of and you have made $10 to $20 if not more. Being a trash man is beneath some peoples dignity though.
Patriotic colors sell good.   Everybody loves the red white and blue.  It is the same style as the earlier one with the sunflower on it.  It takes time to do this but when you get the hang of it, it's not bad.  You can almost make an assembly line production system and really pump them out.  Once you get going you can cut out the pieces. Print out some basic directions and sell them as kits for kid to do. The magic number is $4.95.  Much over that and they do not sell good. You can always cut prices.  If you are using scrap wood the only thing you buy is a piece of clothesline and a 100 foot will make about 66 hangers and that means you have about 8 cents in the project + time.

You can make lots of things from gourds.  The hard part is getting them started, but if you put them in sunny area, Give them a place to climb you can get 10 or more per plant.  If you get more than that. Take the time to pinch them off so you get bigger gourds..I try to limit mine to about 5 per plant.  Bad thing is it takes two years to become self sufficient with gourds.  First year you grow them then lay them out over winter in a dry place. Like a barn loft and by spring they are ready for you to make something out of them.  When picking make sure the vine has turned brown.  That means they are grown.  Freezing does not seem to hurt them. Like I said just make sure the place is dry and out of the weather. You can make lots of things out of gourds or you can just sell the gourds.  People who do crafts will buy them.  Here I have two patriotic bird houses and a gourd bird house chime.  It is in the background.  The spoons I pick for virtually nothing at yard sales.  A drill some fishing line and a few washers and you are in business.  I get the beads from jewelry I buy for next to nothing at yard sales and take apart.. My trade mark an preference is to use a piece of dowel rod to make the hanger. You can buy it at any hardware or lumber place.  Usually 3 or 4 feet for a buck.  You only need 8 inch pieces so you get 8 to 10 per rod.  Like I said when you clean them out you get seeds for your next years crop.  You should wear a mask when sanding on gourds.  The dust can cause breathing problems if you get to much. It is commonly called Gourd Flu and can be serious/
Sometimes you create something so fine or funny you decide to keep it for yourself. This coffee pot was one of my very first projects and I have had it for about 8 years.  If people hang the gourds out of the weather they will last quite a few years.  However out in the weather with a good coat of enamel or varnish they will last three to four years before mother nature takes her toll on them. I found the best thing for drilling holes in gourds is the type bit you use to drill door knob holes.  Some people say make smaller holes but I like at least 1 1/2 inch holes and I have a pretty good occupancy rate.  You do need to clean the old nest out in late fall or early spring or it probably will not get used the next season.  I have one on my front porch that has had occupants every year. The last three years have been cardinals, which normally nest in my hedges..  You'll also get finches, sparrow, chickadees and several others.

This is a side view of the earlier sunflower and patriotic bird house.  You can use cans, old plastic coffee cans or glass bottles.  I have about three or four sizes I like to use.   Especially the Vlasic Pickle jars.  You do not need the lids, but do not pitch them. I use the lids for paint mixing cups to get the color I want when I am doing something I want to looks a certain way. Notice how the piece of dowel hold the bottle in placed.  I leave the labels on, but many take them off and some have told me you can watch the birds making nests and feeding.  I have not done it myself.  I am more into feeding.  Some winters I go through over a 100 pounds a month.  I do not mind it as these little critters make me my spending money.  Only fair they get their share.  I have found on the bottle houses a 1 1/2 inch opening seems to work best.  Some people will tell you they do not want perches on the houses cause predators can use them.  One thing I will tell you is that if you get into making this stuff.  There's always going to be the people who tell you a better way to do things.                                                                   Just smile and take their advice and their money.

   These gourd characters are my favorites to make for a couple reasons.  One is that it is just fun figuring out how to make a neat face that will attract people.  The second is they sell real good and make real good money.  Some of them I get $20 and more out of.

Notice the skin color and the eye color.  That is what I use those lids for.  Just mix enough to do the job at hand.  It does not seem to keep good.  After a while you will know how much to mix for almost any project.  When done pitch them and cut down on the amount of cleanup you have to do. I keep my paint in my garage. Drilled a hole in the side of an old freezer and rigged up a light fixture.  One sixty watt bulb will keep the temperature about 60 degrees when the outside temperature is at 10 degrees.  Paint can be expensive.  Make it last.  Clean your brushes as you go and it will make life a lot simpler.  The idea is to keep the cost down and some spending money

    These swords and shields I made from wood scraps I would normally have burnt.  The handles on the shields is held on with rivets and the material is old lawn chair seating straps cut to size. The more creative you are the more you can make.  I usually sell the swords for $10 and the shields for $10 or $17 for a pair and believe me kids rule and they will get both.  Remember the only thing you have in this is your time and some paint.  You just saved something from being thrown on the burn pile.  You just helped beat global warming if your into that.  It is a good line that sells the stuff.

is rather high.  I am asking $500 dollars.  I don't figure I will sell it for that, but if I did I would be happy and I would figure how to make me one similar.  No two are exactly alike.  The one here is called "The Clean Out." which is where it came from.  I was cleaning out a drawer and made several of these small ones out of the stuff.  Asking price on this one is $20 and it  is a working and functional wind vane. Again it is a little high but I do not really care if I sell it.  It is art.  At least I think it is. Others might have a different opinion. People tell me that is awful high, I say "Then go to Walmart and get one."
This one is made from some old pans.  A cake pan, a skillet lid.  The hanger parts are from an old lamp which I took apart and scraped for the copper in it. If you don't have a lamp and eyebolt will do.  The dowel is from an old broken shell unit.  Have enough dowels to make about twenty of these.  I have used a piece of PVC for the spacer to separate the top and bottom pan.  The problem with that is you need piece of threaded rod about ten to twelve inches long and that is expensive.  Later models I used a 3 inch eyebolt screw in from the top and a 3 inch lag screw inthe bottom to hold it
together.  The beads and shiny stuff on the bottom attracts the birds to the feeders.  I use cotter pins to hold them to the pan.  You need to drill lots of 1/8 inch holes around the edges and all over the bottom pan that holds the feed.  That lets the water out so it does not make the seed or feed moldy that you put in the pan.  To fill it I use a coffee cup,  You have to keep the pans far enough apart to be able to fill it.  These sell for anywhere from $10 to $25.  The look will determine the price.   Do not try to charge high prices for cheap work.  Give the customer his moneys worth but charge for your creativity.  If you spend three hours making one charge accordingly.  I can make one in less that 30 minutes, but I been doing it awhile.

Tea pot wind chimes easily bring $15 to $25 dollars.  The hard part is finding the pots.  I get mine at yard sales normally,  The most I will pay is normally $2 which I do not mind if it is a nice pot it will make ten times my money back.  The chimes can be from metal pipes, silverware, bamboo, trinkets or beads, Really anything you might want to try and have enough of to make it look right.  The trick is finding the right balance and not overloading the thing with to much stuff.  Weight can also be a factor.  Have made some pretty heavy ones myself.  Sometimes I buy wind chimes for a $1 or so at a yard sale with the idea to tear it apart and make something more marketable or the way I want to make it so it will sell.  After awhile you know what your customers want and what will and will not sell.   If it will not sell it is a waste of your time.
As the old saying goes, Time is Money.  Don't waste it.

  This one is made from an old porcelain teapot.  Porcelain is hard to drill but it can make some really nice pieces.  I usually buy one ten foot rod and it divide it to get five pieces. They have to vary in length. I usually use 2" or 3" variations.  I use chain to last and cotter keys and fishing swivels to make it so it is strong and will spin.  The clanger can be about anything you want to use. To give the clanger good mobility I use a piece of an old license plate and attach it with a fishing live swivel.  Then I bend it so the wind can make it spin.  Even when it is not blowing hard enough to ring the chimes.  One like this can bring $35 to $40 easy.  You can always cut prices if stuff is not moving, but do not even think about raising prices.  It will get you bad word of mouth, even if you never hear it yourself.
 This piece is made from an old Miracle whip bottle. A pan lid,  a cake pan, a finial (hanger) , a few nuts and bolts and some washers. First I take the knob off the lid. Then place an appropriate size screw into the bottom of the jar sticking out.  I recommend use a washer as it will keep the screw from tearing threw the bottom. Screw it into the finial and the top part is done.  You can find finials at building supply and hardware stores.  For the bottom you need for 1/4 inch nuts and bolts about 1 1/2  to 2 1/2 inches long.  Drill a 1 1/2 inch hole in the center of the cap.  Then half ways from the edge of the hole and the lip of the lid drill four evenly spaced holes.  You will need four spacers that are at least an inch thick.  You can use wooden beads, nuts, washers or anything else that will give a one inch space between the bottle lid and the pan..  They keep the lid far enough away that the food can flow out to so the birds can get it.  You can use old thread spools, wood beads, washers or small pieces of pvc plastic.  Whatever you have that does not cost much.  You can put the screws in from the bottom or from the lid out.  It does not matter, but again you need washers to keep the lid from tearing.  I prefer to have the nuts inside the jar and sort of hidden.  Either way make sure they do not block the lid from screwing onto the bottle.

  Finally my favorite pot chime with spoons and beads.  These can bring really good money if they are shined have good balance, good sparkelies and make a pleasant sound.  Have seen these go as high as a hundred dollars at flea markets.  It is all about how good of a salesman you are.  You have to pitch the sale to make it work.  Farmers markets and flea markets can be great fun and you can have a great time doing it.  Just remember your doing it to make money and keep your eyes open for new and better ideas you can steal and improve on.  The best money makers versus investment I have seen are the guys who do the sandblasted rocks and the guys who are really good at making scroll work art(very time consuming though) with a jig saw.  They make some awesome bucks.
    Hope somebody gets some use out of this article.  Especially ones that need to make a couple bucks to get by. You can now make going to yard sales into a tool. You can find materials and ideas for things to make. Also if you have business cards hand them out with the date and place you will have your yard sale and what you will be selling.  Network,,,,Helping each other, helps everybody.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

America's Moral Crisis.

    With all the things going on in the media and the country it is becoming clear there is a moral crisis in America.  It is not something that just happened.  I quit driving my truck and retired in 2004 and a couple years before that I heard one of the Liberal West Coast Congressional Witches during a debate over partial birth abortions say, "Passing this legislation will create a moral crisis in America."  I was dumbfounded that a leader in Congress could be so dumb.  Did she really not know the definition of the word "moral."  I am sure she chose the narrow definition of the difference between right and wrong.  However the broader definition is, "good in conduct or character; specifically sexually virtuous."   Going further virtuous means chaste, and chaste means not indulging in unlawful sexual activity.  It used to be that a woman who had sex outside of the bonds of marriage was looked down on.  On the other hand women who didn't were held in high regard.  However America has come so far down the slippery moral slope that the attitude is "if it feels good, do it."
    That debate was ten to twelve years ago and now in the 2012 election cycle the question of birth control has come to the surface.  The sad part is that the debate does not center on if birth control is right or wrong.  The debate is over who is going to pay for it. That would seem to be a simple answer, but not in this day and age.  The government says the insurance companies must provide and pay for birth control.  In other words the government is endorsing promiscuity.  At the same time, same sex marriages are on the rise and fighting for recognition in many states.  America is walking off of a moral cliff.  This nation has fallen so far that it is no longer a battle between what is right and wrong.  It is now a battle of " The Rights of the Wrong."  What was unacceptable behavior has now become the norm.  In fact standing up for what used to be considered the right way is a good way to become persecuted.
    That is totally against what the Bible says. In the Bible Leviticus 20:1-5 says a man who sacrifices or kills children should be killed.  It goes even farther to say that anyone who sees it happen and does nothing should also be killed.  Finally if mankind will not take care of the problem God said he will wipe them out.  So it is easy to see why America is falling into the state it is falling into.  The problem is that America wants to be a Christian nation, but does not want to act in a Christian manner.
    The sexual perversion in America is not the only problem.  To me the greater problem is America's attitude toward the poor and the needy.  Being poor is almost looked upon as being a curse.  If you are living it, I am sure it feels that way.  Especially when you see all the prosperity around you and the unwillingness to help.  Many people feel God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah for their immorality.  While that might be part of it the Bible says in Ezekiel 16: 46-50 that he destroyed them because of their treatment of the poor and needy.  The Bible says their acts were worse than Sodom and the judgement will be greater.  James 1:27 makes it clear as to what our Christian duty is.  "Pure religion before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep yourself unspotted from the world." James 2:15-16 makes it even clearer. "If a brother or sister be naked and destitute of daily food, And one of you say onto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding  ye give them not those things which are needful of the body; what doth it profit?  You are bringing judgment on yourself.
     This past holiday season made me think maybe the Christian spirit is alive and well.  It is just trying to find a place.  A way to be seen in this day and age.  All across the country people went in and paid off lay aways for people.  It was an act of kindness to help.  If Americans all across the country would just reach out to their neighbors and friends the hardship could be minimized that America is feeling in these hard times.  If you hired someone to rake your leaves or clean up your yard instead of doing it yourself it could help someone. Little things like that could help lots of people all across the country.  It just takes opening your eyes, heart and wallet and sharing with those who need it. You will find you are blessed in blessing others.  Most people do not want a hand out.  They want a hand up.  They want to rise up out of the problems they are facing.  They need someone to show them the way.  Instead of giving the usual presents.  Give a ticket to a local car wash, or for a meal in a locally owned restaurant.  Your helping two people that way.  The one you directly help and the business owner.   Support some locally owned business in some way by sharing with others.  That is the hope America needs.  That is the Christian spirit that needs to be reawakened in America, not the moral judgmental  attitudes that help no one.  Share your faith by actions and maybe you can help someone to find a better way to live their life.  While living a better one yourself.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Elections For Sale, Time For Election By The People & Not The PAC's

     The Presidential election process appears to be for sale.  The  PAC's are financed by groups who want to influence elections to their benefit.  That is not necessarily to the benefit of America in general.  Individuals still do the voting in America, but they are influenced by groups that are determined to spin elections to their benefit.  That means people and groups with money have undo influence.  Corporations, businesses and interest groups do not vote however they try swing the vote the way "they" want it to go.
     A law needs to be passed that only people who can vote can donate to the election process.  Groups who have no vote should not be able to spend any money on the elections.  Those who can vote should be allowed to spend however much of their money they desire.  The catch is they should be required to show the source of their funds above a certain level, say $100 or even $1000 dollars. They should have to show their voter registration card to donate.
    PAC's and interest groups do not donate because they are being benevolent to the election process.   They spend their money with the intent to influence the outcome they see as beneficial to their interests.  They do not care about the candidate, the party or the country.  Their only concern is influencing the outcome to their benefit. This is sad because America gets a bunch of candidates running that do not represent the people.  Many of the candidates running have no convictions.  They flip flop back and forth strictly based on which way the current wind is blowing.  Especially any wind that might send a few dollars their way.  Morals and values will be twisted and bent to fit what ever situation they find themselves in.
     Candidates with commitment and integrity find themselves swept aside.  Especially if what they believe conflicts with the interests that PAC's and special interests are promoting.  The Supreme Court was wrong and while I do not buy the Tea Party Bull they could be useful in fixing the problems with the election system. They need to push through legislation banning pacts.  At the same time they need to reduce the Supreme Court back to the seven justices it used to be.  It is not anymore efficient with nine justices that is for sure.  That would send a message to the Supreme Court that they are not in charge.  It should be done by attrition which no justices would be appointed for probably ten to fifteen years.  Hopefully America will be better off by then.  Especially if the court quits meddling and trying to make laws. Lifetime appointments should end at age 80.  If they survive beyond that force them to retire and replace them.  I do not know if it is true that if the government makes an across the board pay cut that the Supreme Court is exempt.  If it is true that rule needs to be over hauled.  Also as I understand it if a justice becomes unable to perform his job he stays on the court regardless.  That needs to be amended and after ninety days they need to be placed in a retired status.  If they have been replaced they may come back to active duty the next time the court needs a judge to make the designated seven members.  However they must retire again at 80.  They would still hold the title of judge,but they would not be allowed to rule on cases after they turn 80.  This would not go good with the justices I am sure, but it would be better for America I am sure.
    The goal of these changes it to return the government to the people.  If the Tea Party wants to start cutting the budget they need to start with the body that is undermining the values of America with their rulings.  Especially the ones like the court in California just passed to reinstate same sex marriages.  The first thing the court needs to do is reread the Constitution.  Especially Justice Ginsburg who can find no value in it.  I think she should be impeached for undermining the system she swore an oath to uphold.  That is my opinion, just as hers was hers.  The difference is I did not swear and oath to uphold it like she did.  If your wondering what I am babbling about follow the link...   Make up your own mind on the matter.  That is one less that would be no loss to the court.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Money,How I Went From $150,000 to Nothing In A Heart Beat & Back

 Sometimes things happen from circumstances that we have no control over.  How we react to them can determine the outcome.  I am a sort of a go with the flow type person.  Over the course of life I found not going with the flow sometimes creates more problems than it solved.  In January 2004 my income level went from between $150,000 and $180,000 to nothing in the time it takes your heart to beat, or not beat, which was my experience.  I drove my own truck till I had a heart attack and they put a defibrillator in me.  A defibrillator makes you no longer fit to have a commercial driver's license.  It made me eligible for disability but there is a six month waiting period till you get your first check.  Needless to say this can wreck a budget and took some quick adapting.  First thing I did was sell my truck, trailer and equipment.  Then we sold off some land that we had. We made it through that time and never missed a payment. At the end of it all my wife and I managed to make everything work within our new budget.

The only thing I had a hard time selling was my barn.  My daughters helped me turn it from a liability to an asset.  Driving a truck I had a large barn in the small town. It was a 105 years old and originally the local livery stable. It still had the horse stalls in it.  It was a good place to work on and park my truck when I was home.  After getting rid of the truck I did not have a clue what I was going to do with it. 

 My daughters realized I was getting in a funk and needed something to do.  Every year our little town has a city wide yard sale.  My daughters asked if they could use my barn to set up in so they would not have to pick everything up overnight.  They just bought the stuff in off the side walk and closed the doors.  The building had over 5000 sq.ft. of space.  Several weeks after the city wide yard sale I asked my daughters when they were going to come get "their" stuff?  Their reply was. "Oh, that is your stuff now."  Well I slowly built me a wood shop in the back of the shop and would set stuff out if I was working in my wood shop.  It made a few dollars a week.
Then the game changer happened.  My youngest daughter had a brain tumor which was diagnosed about six months before I had my heart attack.  Glenda fought a good fight for seven years and never lost her spirit or her will to fight.  She went home in August 2010.  She was more ready than any of us. She taught me the meaning of the word character.  Her memorial service let me know the impact she had made on the world in her thirty-three years.  That is another story for later.  Anyhow one of my wife's cousins was moving back to Texas and he had an old square hay baler.  He donated it to a fund raiser we had for my daughter.  He told us if we did not get a $1000 he would take it back and give her the money.  Well I got nominated to get rid of it.

After a little checking around, one of the ladies my wife worked with at the time said to take it to "Dinky's."  Dinky's is an Amish auction that is held every Friday night starting at 6PM.  Actually it is ten auctions at once.  They have two cattle auctions.  One is large cattle like cows, horses and pigs.  The other is small stuff like rabbits, ducks, chickens and peacocks to name a few things, a furniture auction, box lots auction, barnyard auctions, where they sell fence posts, feeders and whatever.  They also have a vehicle auction, hay auction,  high dollar auction where they sell collectables, mowers and motor cycles auction.    One that I call a garage clean out auction,  beause that is what it looks like.  Oh yeah and a household decorations auction. 
Well I took the hay baler over there like the ladies husband told me and got there at noon.  He advised that so I would get top dollar.  It starts high and at the end they are giving it away. We were in it for the money and it paid off.  However I had to wait till almost 10PM to collect the money after the auctions were all over.  With the hundreds of Amish horse buggies it is pretty neat..  We got about $1500 out of the hay baler if I remember right.  The problem was I had time to kill and I wound up spending about $20 and bought a whole pickup load of stuff.   I figured I could sell it at my barn and make money. My business was born. Oh yeah, I forgot the ten baby ducks for two dollars.  I just bid to get the bidding going and nobody bid against me. Lesson learned, if you don’t really want it keep your mouth shut.

 It started with a good omen so to speak.  I bought an old console stereo system with turntable, radio and an eight track tape player for a $1.  When I got it to my shop I started cleaning it out. The cabinet under the turntable had about thirty 33 1/3 RPM records and  almost a hundred 45 RPM records.  I was telling my grandson what I had and he was looking at me like I was speaking a foreign language.  It also had a wind chime still in the box, almost a dozen VHS tapes brand new and never opened.  It also had a few other odds and ends.  There was a small thing that looked like a miniature safe. which appeared to be a piggy bank.

 I plugged it in and the radio worked fine,  So did the turn table.  I used the turn table as a sound system for my shop until the time I sold the building.  After cleaning out the stereo cabinet I took a break and started fiddling with the little safe.  Well I finally got it open and it had $23.74 cents in it.  Eighteen of the dollars were silver dollars. The rest was in real silver dimes, Indian head and Lincoln head pennies.  I divided most of the silver dollars among my daughters and grand kids. The other stuff I sold and made almost a hundred dollars.  I still have the stereo and the little safe.  I was watching American Pickers, a TV show about junking, and they had a little safe just like mine and they said it was worth about $75.  So I would say I got my dollars worth out of that deal.  The problem was I was hooked on it.
Nowadays I do auctions, flea markets, farmers markets and yard sales and simply buy sell and trade to make my spending and gas money.  While I am not getting rich at it, it helps.  If a younger person in good health did it and was dedicated they could make some good money at it.  At present I am building me a new barn where I can do my crafts that I take to the markets to sell.

Another money maker is going to farm auctions and buying outdated farm equipment for virtually nothing, then taking a cutting torch and cutting it up for scrap metal.  This one you have to not mind getting burnt (literally) and must be in half ways decent physical health which eliminates it for me.  It can end up making ten to twenty if not more times the money you spent. 

My thing is making art and crafts from old bottles, pans and silverware and it sells fairly well as recycled art.  It is all one of a kind stuff.  It gives me something to do.  For a while I was into buying broken wood furniture for virtually nothing at the auctions and repairing it.   Then I would sell it for next to nothing to help people who are just starting out.  The barn I had was originally a horse barn and my goal was to divide it into storage units. Then I planned to rent the units, but a percentage of them I wanted to fill with furniture.  My goal was to have what a family would need to start out.  Couch, chairs, dining set, beds and whatever anyone would need if they were starting out.  Then if I heard of a house fire I would be able to say here you go.  Just give it a good home when you are done with it. That all ended when I got a good offer on the building and sold it.

Being 65+ has its advantages.  I am over the make a buck thing and know that helping others pays far more than a dollar ever will.  It does not hurt to conserve where you can though.  It takes adapting.  We paid $75 every three months to get rid of trash prior to my heart attack.  While I could not do a lot I did learn to sort it into groups.  I had recyclables, which went a couple directions.  Plastics went to the community center and free disposal.  Pop cans went to a metal recycling center and made money.  I also learned to make green/recycled bird feeders and houses from the trash and now I figure I might make money if I am careful from what used to cost me to get rid of.

It is amazing what you can make out of stuff instead of sending it to the land fill.  Thanks to all the family, friends and acquaintances that have helped me enjoy the last eight years of my life.  Sometimes we forget to say thanks. Hopefully this will be around to tell those who shared my life I miss them and hope to see them all again soon, but not too soon. Not that I have any plans on leaving anytime soon. Writing this just put me in nostalgic mood.

Life is short, enjoy it.   KNOW JESUS, KNOW PEACE

                                            no Jesus,  no peace