Tuesday, December 31, 2013

I can't wait to see what happens next . . .

Happy New Year. We go into 2014 wondering what is going to go wrong next with Obamacare.

Did you know, by the way, that the Affordable Care Act -- Obamacare -- levies a 2% tax on all health care policies? So, supposedly you gotta buy health care insurance and if you don't, you pay a penalty for being uninsured, to be collected by the IRS, and if you do buy the insurance, you pay a tax on top of the premiums you have to pay, under penalty of law.

And your friendly neighbor from IRS is gonna see to it that you pay.


Sunday, December 29, 2013

A New Year's looming on the horizon . . .

Remember? This time last year you were saying to yourself that 2012 really blew backwards, and you looked forward to 2013 because you knew that 2013 just had to be your year, because . . .

How ya feelin' about 2014?

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Faithfully doing the business of government . . .

It was reported the UPS could not get all the package deliveries for Christmas done on time, by Christmas eve. Oh, and UPS drivers frequently can be seen running , not walking, from the truck to the door, to drop a package. Evidently, they were just overwhelmed despite planning for the season well ahead of time. Weather probably made things worse. Just another failure and we're used to failures by now, right?

What hasn't been so widely reported was that UPS drivers were out and making deliveries on Christmas day, when I'm sure they would have preferred being with their families.

Good job, guys. And I hope you were paid something extra for working on Christmas day, when I'm sure the customers didn't expect it. Best wishes.

By comparison, emergency unemployment benefits are due to run out at the end of this year. Not a surprise, the deadline has been notorious. Congress has been expected to take up the question of whether or not to extend the emergency benefits into next year. Congress can either decide to do it, or decide to not do it. So, what was the decision?

The decision was to go home without considering the matter one way or the other, and maybe decide what to do about it when Congress returns next year. Or maybe not.

UPS to customers: We'll get it to you as soon as we possibly can, even if we have to work on Christmas.
Congress to citizens: We'll get around to it when we get around to it, not a minute sooner, because shut up.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Merry Christmas to all . . .

As usual, I'm having a great holiday and I'll enjoy my children and grandchildren, with my wife. We're warm and dry and have more than enough to eat, with health and security. Life is good.

I know that my good fortune is not universal and for some, the season presents just that much more continuing struggle. I wish all of us, and especially those less fortunate, good things in the coming year ahead.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Where'd all the money go? . . .

When you save, you park some unneeded money somewhere -- bank, bond, stock, mattress -- in hopes that when you want to turn that money into something needed, like food or rent, it will be there. If you put the money into a bank you are thought to be prudent. If you put the money into the stock market you are thought to be a genius when the market goes up, and an unfortunate victim when the market falls, as it inevitably but unpredictably does.

When you put your money into any financial institution, bank or corporation, wonder of wonders, they don't actually keep it for you. The institution either spends it frivolously or loans it to some moron who can dress well enough to impress a lending officer. If you go to get your money out, the dollars you get are likely the result of somebody else who gave the institution some money. It's not your money; it's just money the bank owes you.

The financial institution frequently makes some money in spite of itself, in consequence of having a good lobby going in Washington. Sometimes it distributes some of the profits to you, the investor -- always first assuring that its officers get big bonuses at year end.

You, of course, would frequently not approve of how your money gets spent by the institution. And you are betting that both the money and the institution you put it into will be there when you need it to be, despite observing one institution after another bite the big one over your lifetime.

It requires a great deal of blind, unreasoning faith to make this bet, and this faith used to be called patriotism.

Nowadays, we have a new economic system. It seems a mere handful of exploited foreigners can manufacture all the products that are actually needed, and a great deal more besides. So we've turned ourselves into developers and marketers of unneeded goods and services -- just kinda to keep our hand in. Alternatively, many of us, finding there is nothing that even pretends to be productive that we can do, turn to work for the very government that pretty much screwed the system up in the first place. But most of us cannot muster sufficient cynicism or self-deception required to work for government, so we try to get jobs in the private sector, that is, laboring in some manner which hopefully makes a profit for a few years until it eventually sinks under the burden of supporting the self same governments, state, federal, and local, which we were too ashamed to work for in the first place.

Many of us basically get paid for peddling something unnecessary or possibly harmful, but if it doesn't sell we don't eat, so we keep at it anyway.

Many more of us, not wishing to peddle garbage, have become what is called -- with a straight face, mind you -- knowledge workers. We collect data and reassemble bits and pieces of it into new and exciting configurations so as to support the making of predominately inconsequential decisions, which in turn mostly have to do with how to sell more shoddy goods and unneeded services. Finally, if we are good at peddling garbage or mining data, we get to supervise others in the same sad trades, whether or not we are good at supervising.

But each and every worthless trinket that gets bought and pitched into a landfill ( a whole 'nother issue ) contributes even if only slightly to keeping some poor desperate drone alive and secure in the knowledge that somehow he matters. That drone may be you or it may be me, so spend while you can and don't be stingy. It all counts.

Of course, when times get tough, lots of us lose our worthless jobs, so we can't spend. Generally, the cause of such tough times is direct, government policies. This is known as capitalistic injustice, and is blamed on large corporations and "fat cats."

In such times, government steps in and gives money to those who are no longer getting paid for doing the stupid stuff they used to get paid for. The theory is that those people will thereby be able to continue to spend and will, in due course, continue to support this financial merry go round. But since we don't actually have a government that is quite right bright, those exalted government managers are unable to understand that every dollar they give to somebody to stimulate spending, comes from taxing somebody who now no longer has that dollar to spend because government took it. So, in fact, the effect of "stimulating" the economy which depends on spending, is really merely shifting the same spending from one sector to another, with no real actual gain. In other words, if you earned money and paid taxes, the government plan is to take money you earned and wanted to spend on something, and to give it to somebody else who didn't work and pay taxes, so he can spend it on something. Because government cares about people enough to spend your money on them. On penalty of criminal prosecution.

So hang on as long as you can, because our government leaders think that they have to keep the action going. So they are energetically whirling around in circles, because that's what big wheels do. And the fact that the economic system is slowly spinning around in one spot makes it screw itself in deeper and deeper.

In other words, we are so screwed.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

'Tis the season . . .

It is now the Christmas season, and once again we can see poor little Ralphie, longing for a BB gun. I remember it well, myself. When I was about nine years old, I, like Ralphie, wanted a BB gun. More than anything.

I made sure that everyone with any capability, authority or influence around me knew that a BB gun was necessary to fulfill my destiny. And, having been raised that way, I prayed to the all knowing and all powerful Big Guy upstairs, to please see to it that the grownups would furnish me with a BB gun. And, had the opportunity presented itself at the time, I would have happily traded away all future chances of salvation in the afterlife, if the devil below would just get me a damn BB gun.

There was no BB gun under the tree that year.

However, years later, when I was sixteen and had long, long before lost hope and lost interest in BB guns, guess what? I got a BB gun for Christmas.

Thanks Dad.

Now if either the Man above or the Devil below had anything to do Dad getting me a BB gun for Christmas when I was sixteen, I can't say, but if either of them did I am obliged to observe that there is something lacking in the reliability and efficiency, and timeliness, with which wishes are granted.

By the time I got the BB gun I had discovered girls, and with all the adolescent hormones sloshing around in my body, my perpetual wish from then and for very many years later had damn little to do with BB guns. At sixteen, I was certain that BB guns wouldn't work with girls. Maybe a new red, Ford convertible . . . but not a BB gun.

So, once again, I prayed, although I was a little more circumspect in the prayerful language used to describe who, I mean what, I needed.

So did I get laid that year? I did not.

Now, years later, experiences like the foregoing and others similar have taught me that it is the wanting that is the problem. If you don't want anything in particular, you certainly won't be disappointed.

And you just might get a BB gun.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Told by Someone's German Grossfather

Und whirren goon der potterish wheel
Gespinnen mit hummen of der potter
In machen der stuff of human life
Which might den call der potter Pater

Mit der muscle here und der bonisher there
Und ein great gross lump fer der belly
Der potter bin workin und sweaten blood
To mach perfect der humanish jelly

But der wheel ist untrue und der potter ist drunk
Und der clay ist gespoilen mach schnell
Cause der huffen und puffen mit der boozener breath
Has mach humans das stupidish hell

Und so it goon from morgan to nacht
Der potter bin constantly shtinkin
Und he botches each tag der humanish slag
Und das explains a lot Ich bin thinkin.

Sunday, December 08, 2013

And things that are hard . . .

Things that are hard, and things that are easy:

... The Manhattan Project, less than three and a half years,
... The Apollo moon project, less than three and a half years,
... Rebuilding the fleet after Pearl Harbor, less than three and a half years,
... Whipping Japan into submission after Pearl Harbor, less than three and a half years,

The so-called Affordable Care Act website . . . not completely working yet, after three and a half years.

Yeah, well, they didn't have computers back in those days. Computers are hard. All those floppy disks and stuff.

Monday, December 02, 2013

Equation: Failure plus Bluster equals Joyous Success. . . .

The various and sundry Obamacare proponents and pundits for the government have declared that the Obamacare website, known by some as the "Temple of Fail," has in fact met all their objectives by the end of November, just as they said it would.

We now get to see a working example of the oft-used phrase, "Close enough for government work."