Saturday, September 27, 2008

American Solutions Lab

STOP COMPLAINING AND DO SOMETHING!!

All across this country people are sitting at desks, around dinner tables, at bars and restaurants, saying "Well, if they would just do blah, blah, blah" everything would be
better. So here's your chance. If you think you have a solution to any of America's problems, propose that solution at www.americansolutions.com. If enough people think it's a good idea, there is a system for getting your solution implemented.

So stop ranting and raving, folks, and get to work!

Go to http://www.americansolutions.com and click on Solutions Lab. There are many issues and you can help in any or all of them. Good luck!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Ron Paul's Answer to the President

Dear Friends:

The financial meltdown the economists of the Austrian School predicted has arrived.

We are in this crisis because of an excess of artificially created credit at the hands of the Federal Reserve System. The solution being proposed? More artificial credit by the Federal Reserve. No liquidation of bad debt and malinvestment is to be allowed. By doing more of the same, we will only continue and intensify the distortions in our economy - all the capital misallocation, all the malinvestment - and prevent the market's attempt to re-establish rational pricing of houses and other assets.

Last night the president addressed the nation about the financial crisis. There is no point in going through his remarks line by line, since I'd only be repeating what I've been saying over and over - not just for the past several days, but for years and even decades.

Still, at least a few observations are necessary.

The president assures us that his administration "is working with Congress to address the root cause behind much of the instability in our markets." Care to take a guess at whether the Federal Reserve and its money creation spree were even mentioned?

We are told that "low interest rates" led to excessive borrowing, but we are not told how these low interest rates came about. They were a deliberate policy of the Federal Reserve. As always, artificially low interest rates distort the market. Entrepreneurs engage in malinvestments - investments that do not make sense in light of current resource availability, that occur in more temporally remote stages of the capital structure than the pattern of consumer demand can support, and that would not have been made at all if the interest rate had been permitted to tell the truth instead of being toyed with by the Fed.

Not a word about any of that, of course, because Americans might then discover how the great wise men in Washington caused this great debacle. Better to keep scapegoating the mortgage industry or "wildcat capitalism" (as if we actually have a pure free market!).

Speaking about Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the president said: "Because these companies were chartered by Congress, many believed they were guaranteed by the federal government. This allowed them to borrow enormous sums of money, fuel the market for questionable investments, and put our financial system at risk."

Doesn't that prove the foolishness of chartering Fannie and Freddie in the first place? Doesn't that suggest that maybe, just maybe, government may have contributed to this mess? And of course, by bailing out Fannie and Freddie, hasn't the federal government shown that the "many" who "believed they were guaranteed by the federal government" were in fact correct?

Then come the scare tactics. If we don't give dictatorial powers to the Treasury Secretary "the stock market would drop even more, which would reduce the value of your retirement account. The value of your home could plummet." Left unsaid, naturally, is that with the bailout and all the money and credit that must be produced out of thin air to fund it, the value of your retirement account will drop anyway, because the value of the dollar will suffer a precipitous decline. As for home prices, they are obviously much too high, and supply and demand cannot equilibrate if government insists on propping them up.

It's the same destructive strategy that government tried during the Great Depression: prop up prices at all costs. The Depression went on for over a decade. On the other hand, when liquidation was allowed to occur in the equally devastating downturn of 1921, the economy recovered within less than a year.

The president also tells us that Senators McCain and Obama will join him at the White House today in order to figure out how to get the bipartisan bailout passed. The two senators would do their country much more good if they stayed on the campaign trail debating who the bigger celebrity is, or whatever it is that occupies their attention these days.

F.A. Hayek won the Nobel Prize for showing how central banks' manipulation of interest rates creates the boom-bust cycle with which we are sadly familiar. In 1932, in the depths of the Great Depression, he described the foolish policies being pursued in his day - and which are being proposed, just as destructively, in our own:

Instead of furthering the inevitable liquidation of the maladjustments brought about by the boom during the last three years, all conceivable means have been used to prevent that readjustment from taking place; and one of these means, which has been repeatedly tried though without success, from the earliest to the most recent stages of depression, has been this deliberate policy of credit expansion.

To combat the depression by a forced credit expansion is to attempt to cure the evil by the very means which brought it about; because we are suffering from a misdirection of production, we want to create further misdirection - a procedure that can only lead to a much more severe crisis as soon as the credit expansion comes to an end... It is probably to this experiment, together with the attempts to prevent liquidation once the crisis had come, that we owe the exceptional severity and duration of the depression.

The only thing we learn from history, I am afraid, is that we do not learn from history.

The very people who have spent the past several years assuring us that the economy is fundamentally sound, and who themselves foolishly cheered the extension of all these novel kinds of mortgages, are the ones who now claim to be the experts who will restore prosperity! Just how spectacularly wrong, how utterly without a clue, does someone have to be before his expert status is called into question?

Oh, and did you notice that the bailout is now being called a "rescue plan"? I guess "bailout" wasn't sitting too well with the American people.

The very people who with somber faces tell us of their deep concern for the spread of democracy around the world are the ones most insistent on forcing a bill through Congress that the American people overwhelmingly oppose. The very fact that some of you seem to think you're supposed to have a voice in all this actually seems to annoy them.

I continue to urge you to contact your representatives and give them a piece of your mind. I myself am doing everything I can to promote the correct point of view on the crisis. Be sure also to educate yourselves on these subjects - the Campaign for Liberty blog is an excellent place to start. Read the posts, ask questions in the comment section, and learn.

H.G. Wells once said that civilization was in a race between education and catastrophe. Let us learn the truth and spread it as far and wide as our circumstances allow. For the truth is the greatest weapon we have.

In liberty,



Ron Paul

Monday, August 18, 2008

Deja Vu All Over Again

Sylvia and I are reading Barbara Ehrenreich's new book, "This Land is Their Land," and in doing a bit of research, I came across this book review. Just a week before the Democratic Convention, I think it's a worthwhile read. Let's be careful we don't repeat the mistakes of the "Great Society" era and expect Barack or the government to fix all our problems. We created this mess and it's going to take all of us to get

Arts & Culture | Book Review
One Brief Shining Moment

Two historians explain how liberals went from top dog to toxic
by Robert Sommer | July 25, 2008

This article was published in the July 28, 2008, edition of The New York Observer.

The Liberal Hour: Washington and the Politics of Change in the 1960s
By G. Calvin Mackenzie and Robert Weisbrot
The Penguin Press, 422 pages, $27.95

These days "liberal" is a word rarely used as anything but a pejorative in American politics. In the 1960s, however, it was the dominant political philosophy in Washington. President Lyndon B. Johnson ran his election campaign in 1964 as a liberal against archconservative Senator Barry Goldwater and won in a landslide. There were overwhelming Democratic majorities in both houses of Congress and a solid Supreme Court majority led by Chief Justice Earl Warren that viewed itself as a liberal, activist vanguard. Perhaps most important, the American public was urging government action in a wide variety of areas.

Given everything liberals had going for them, what went wrong? It’s a question that G. Calvin Mackenzie and Robert Weisbrot do a fine job of answering in The Liberal Hour: Washington and the Politics of Change in the 1960s.

America was a nation in transition during that decade. The growth of the suburbs at the expense of cities changed the face of politics as the country’s economy was shifting from manufacturing to service. At the same time, "Americans became more concerned with the quality of their lives, not just the quantity of their incomes. They wanted clean air … clean water … safer vehicles. Only government, they soon learned, could be counted on to meet these new needs," the authors write.

The Kennedy and Johnson administrations were ready to help. John Kennedy set the agenda: He changed the outlook of the country from conservative to liberal. Johnson made sure the assassinated president’s vision was fulfilled. L.B.J.’s Great Society achievements included Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps, voting rights, pollution control, higher-education funding and the creation of the Department of Housing and Urban Development. He also got Congress to pass a huge tax cut. It was an impressive display of executive power. And the Warren Court was ready to back him up.

This was a time when government officials were associated with the best and the brightest. In fact, as Messrs. Mackenzie and Weisbrot note, "By the 1960s the federal bureaucracy had become a thriving center of knowledge and expertise."

Liberals were on top—and yet it all collapsed so quickly. Indeed, we’re talking about the liberal hour—not era—though many of the programs still exist. Explaining the collapse is where the authors, who are both professors at Colby College, are at their best. The easy reason is the Vietnam War, but Messrs. Mackenzie and Weisbrot go much deeper, and their conclusions should be required reading for Democrats who are thinking of what they can achieve if they win the White House and large Congressional majorities this November.

The authors write that Johnson was devastated "when the intended beneficiaries of his policies seemed so ungrateful for his efforts. But he asked for it by promising more than he or any other government could deliver." Unfortunately, the experts in government didn’t know as much as they thought they did about how to fix problems, according to the authors: "Liberalism had come to be associated in the public mind not with its intentions but with its excesses and shortfalls."

The difficulty in solving problems led liberal support groups to fight with one another, especially after Johnson decided not to run for a second full term. Coupled with the protests against the war, the liberal bloc split apart among the candidates running to replace L.B.J. The struggle was highlighted for all to see at the 1968 Chicago Democratic convention, where police brawled with protesters outside the convention hall and delegates fought each other inside.

VICE PRESIDENT HUBERT H. Humphrey eventually won the nomination without competing in a single primary, much to the displeasure of supporters of Senator Eugene McCarthy. The Democratic disintegration accelerated when Alabama Governor George C. Wallace split from the party, ran as an independent candidate for president and won five states and 46 electoral votes.

By 1972, liberals’ revulsion with the manner in which the party bosses picked Humphrey changed the way Democrats chose their presidential nominee. More emphasis was put on winning factional support from liberal special-interest groups without maintaining the organizational ability of the bosses to keep things in line. The liberal hour was over.

But it wasn’t just internal problems that ended the liberals’ reign. The authors correctly note that conservatives built on the foundation established by Goldwater and exploited the public’s increasing distrust of government. The Great Society became the basis for what Republicans began to label, with punishing effect, the Democrats’ culture of tax and spend. Liberals became politically radioactive.

In due course, the liberal hour was replaced by the Reagan generation, which only now seems to be splitting apart.

Robert Sommer is president of the Observer Media Group. He can be reached at rsommer@observer.com

Friday, June 06, 2008

Warner-Lieberman Dead!

Hooray! Over 350,000 signatures were delivered to the Senate and something worked. The bill died in the Senate today and Harry Reid said they'd try again next year. That means that we have a year to let our Senators and members of Congress know what we would really like to see in an energy bill.

NUCLEAR
SOLAR
CLEAN COAL

Those three things would make a huge difference. I also wish someone would publicize the industries and/or companies that are the worst offenders when it comes to carbon emissions. Then we could boycott those industries/companies. Find a way to give an incentive to those companies who "go green."

Also, I'm going to try to buy products that are sold in glass containers, not plastic. It's another small step toward freeing ourselves from being petroleum gluttons.

Let me know what you're doing to make Congress accountable again!

Be safe.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Warner-Lieberman Bill

I have signed a petition to ask that Congress not pass the Warner-Lieberman bill. It's not that I'm against trying to do something about global warming, it's that I do not think the bill goes far enough.

Here are four suggestions that would have an immediate impact on the energy problem and carbon emissions. I would appreciate comments telling me if there is a fatal flaw in these suggestions.

1. MAKE SOLAR ENERGY MORE AVAILABLE. When we lived in New Jersey, the gas company loaned us the money to upgrade our heating/cooling system to be more efficient. The loan was at a very low interest rate and the savings probably paid for the system within 5 years. If our energy company, or the state, or the federal government would provide a low-interest loan (not another damned tax break - we retired folks don't pay any taxes anyway!) to help pay for the installation of solar panels, the savings on our electric bill (maybe $100/month) would encourage more people to purchase these systems. The government may even have to subsidize solar energy for a while, just like they subsidize mass transit. If more people wanted to buy solar panels, more companies would get into the business, more jobs installing these systems would become available, and innovation would eventually mean that the cost would go down. We just need to get the ball rolling.

2. DON'T DO ANYTHING TO ARTIFICIALLY LOWER THE PRICE OF GASOLINE. In Europe, the price of gas has always been about twice what it was here, and guess what? They have lots of public transportation, trains that run everywhere, people staying healthy riding bicycles, etc. If there were more demand for mass transit, there would be more incentive for communities to supply it. But if gas is cheap, people will drive. Auto makers will provide a product if everyone stops buying those gas-guzzlers. We saw lots of Smart Cars in Europe 18 months ago!

3. INSIST ON SCRUBBERS FOR COAL-FIRED PLANTS. I don't know very much about this, but Ron says that coal-fired plants can be made to run clean and the carbon they emit can be captured and stored or a use can be developed for it rather than it being released into the atmosphere. The Warner-Leiberman bill is supposed to be about global warming, but they don't even mention things like this.

4. TELL CONGRESS TO MAKE IT EASIER TO BUILD NUCLEAR PLANTS. I've heard that it takes something like 15 years to get all the approvals to build a nuclear plant. That's simply ridiculous! Scream and yell to fix that problem!

Here's a quote from an article about the bill:

"Both reports also say a climate bill could lead people to drive less, which would lower demand and therefore the price of gas." The present price of gas is leading people to drive less and perhaps we'll see some effect in a few months. At the very least, there won't be as many trucks and SUVs on the roads.

I hope that our presidential candidates are watching shows like the recent CNN special about countries that freed themselves from dependence on foreign oil many years ago. It's hard to believe that we didn't see this coming and do something a long time ago.


But all the news is not bad. Here's an article I found that may give us a little hope.


OIL'S PERFECT STORM MAY BLOW OVER

By Ambrose Evans-Pritchard
Last Updated: 1:23am BST 25/05/2008


The perfect storm that has swept oil prices to $132 a barrel may subside over the coming months as rising crude supply from unexpected corners of the world finally comes on stream, just as the global economic downturn begins to bite.

The forces behind the meteoric price rise this spring are slowly receding. Nigeria has boosted output by 200,000 barrels a day (BPD) this month, making up most of the shortfall caused by rebel attacks on pipelines in April.

Why oil could soon come barrelling down

Keep the motors running: increased oil production from countries such as Brazil, Sudan and Azerbaijan is helping satisfy rising global demand for the fossil fuel

The Geneva consultancy PetroLogistics says Iraq has added 300,000 bpd to a total of 2.57m as security is beefed up in the northern Kirkuk region.

"There is a strong rebound in supply," said the group's president Conrad Gerber.

Saudi Arabia is adding 300,000 bpd to the market in response to a personal plea from President George Bush, and to placate angry Democrats on Capitol Hill - even though Riyadh insists that there are abundant supplies for sale.


I came across this. too, and thought it worth passing on.

You cannot bring about prosperity by discouraging thrift.
You cannot strengthen the weak by weakening the strong.
You cannot help little men by tearing down big men.
You cannot lift the wage earner by pulling down the wage payer.
You cannot help the poor by destroying the rich.
You cannot establish sound security on borrowed money.
You cannot further the brotherhood of man by inciting class hatred.
You cannot keep out of trouble by spending more than you earn.
You cannot build character and courage by destroying men's initiative and independence.
And you cannot help men permanently by doing for them what they can and should do for themselves.

--William J. H. Boetcker, 1916

Friday, May 16, 2008

Update

I haven't updated this for a long time - just not that much to say, I guess.

Best thing lately is that someone chose one of my photographs to use on a website. The photo is on Flicker and is one I took of the Oregon Coast. Here's the website if you want to look at it: http://archaeology.about.com/od/pathroughpd/qt/pacific_coast_m.htm

Have finally quit my job at Chandler-Gilbert Community College. Was there for almost 8 years. I am now taking care of Sarah and Kurt's baby boy, Charlie. He's 4 months old and the best little baby ever. He never fusses unless he's tired and then a few pats and some shushing puts him right out. I go over to Sarah's (which is less than a mile away) and spend some time there in the mornings, usually let him nap there. Then when he wakes up, we come home and spend the rest of the day here. I get a lot more done at home and may even start cooking again! It's really kind of fun to take care of a baby when it's your job and you're not trying to do everything else a woman needs to do at the same time.

We're trying to figure out what to do to deal with the gas prices, food prices, and our electric bill with summer coming on. I found this web site called Gas Buddy which will find the cheapest gas in your area for you. The link is shown on the left. It's a good thing, as Martha always says.

I guess we all learn to stay home and enjoy our families. Learn to play board games again. Go in the back yard and play horseshoes. I feel sorry for those people who have a pool now because it's so expensive to keep up. Ron and I have started doing jigsaw puzzles and you can eat up a lot of time with one of those. If you're interested, buy them on ebay and then resell them when you're done.

Have moved the computer out to the kitchen because we're re-doing the office. We took down the shelves we put up when we first moved in here seven years ago, and are going to buy some other furniture for that room that will make it more comfortable for guests. So, I'm kind of liking this new location and maybe will use my Mac more.

Later,

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Schmap!

Hey! Guess what? One of my photographs that I took at the Rodin Musee in Paris has been selected by a new online guidebook/map called Schmap! Check it out! If you look for the Rodin Museum, the various photos rotate at the top right. Look for the one that says "Dottie Day."

And be sure and watch the Republican debate tonight. It may be the last one before Super Tuesday when the decision may pretty much be made. Listen carefully to what Ron Paul says about the economy.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Fox News and Ron Paul

Read "The Daily Dose" blog for news about Ron Paul's Presidential run. What's up with Fox News anyway? Ron Paul has proven himself to be a viable candidate whose views need to be heard by voters. I don't remember this happening to any other candidate in past elections. Thank God for YouTube! Watch for yourself - not something edited by the news media.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

VOTE FOR RON PAUL!

Not so long ago, someone sent me an email called "Pick Your Candidate" or some such title. There were a series of questions about current issues and a 1-5 selection of answers. Based on your answers, it chose the candidate that most accurately represented your beliefs and point of view. I was shocked to find that my candidate was Ron Paul.

Intrigued, I "Googled" Ron Paul and read his positions on everything from our monetary policy to his stand on immigration, as well as his feelings about the war (we can't afford it, Congress didn't authorize it, we should march out of there), education, health care, etc. As a medical doctor for many, many years, delivering babies he is in a position to know exactly what's wrong with health care and how to fix it.

He is the only member of Congress who has NEVER, repeat NEVER voted for a tax increase. He votes only for legislation that is constitutional. In other words, the Constitution didn't say anything about what we have to teach in public schools, so Ron would have voted against the "No Child Left Behind" law, not because he doesn't believe all children have a right to an education, but because the Founding Fathers thought education should be a local issue, not a federal one.

If you haven't yet googled Ron Paul, do it TODAY! Watch him on You Tube! He's beat Guiliani twice now - people are starting to listen to his message. See what you think and decide for yourself. Don't let the pollsters tell you who to vote for! They are wrong more often than they are right!

Oh, and by the way, one of my photographs was selected by the new web guidebook/map site Schmap! It is a picture taken in the sculpture garden at the Rodin Museum in Paris when we were there last April. WhooHoo!