Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Tis the Season

At this time of year let us put aside our political differences, our personal quirks and remember those who are less fortunate than ourselves. Those who have lost jobs, homes and even their lives during this last year. There are more of them than ever and we who are blessed to still have jobs should do what we can to help those who are in need.

No matter our own personal situation, if we can contribute money, time or anything to improve the life of someone in need, we improve our own life as well. With all of the recent focus on bailouts for big business, don't let us lose sight of the important things in life.

Spend time this holiday season with family and friends. Start a new family tradition of volunteering at a shelter or soup kitchen instead of having a party. Give back instead of taking.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Common Sense

A temporary staffer at Wal-Mart was trmpled to death on Black Friday when the doors opened and shoppers surged forward to get bargains. Even other staffers, the police and EMTs were shoved around. All to save a few dollars. I can understand wanting to save money but come on people, was it worth a person's life?

Man has not evolved so far above animals afterall. The only true difference is that man supposedly has common sense which offsets or curbs our baser instincts. Common Sense, that most precious of senses. While life can exist without it, living is much more rewarding with it.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Beginning of the end?

Mitt Romney, in an article in today's WS journal, indicates that the Big 3 should fail. Why, you ask? Because then they will be forced to come to grips with their own short-sightedness. Then they would be forced to admit that they made mistakes and that their collective pasts have caught up with them. Give up their corporate jets, eliminate the golden parachutes, cut the salaries of their entire management staff and renegotiate their union contracts.

On paper it looks good and in theory it should work. But will they do it? Someone has to make the hard choices. Unions improved the working conditions for everyone who has ever held a job; union member or not. However, we are now at a point in time where we have to decide between 30 people making $21.00 an hour plus benefits and maybe 100 people making $12.00 an hour plus benefits. We also need to look at retirees whose income and benefits are guaranteed regardless of the economy.

My benefits are not guaranteed after I retire. At this point I am not even sure I can retire and there are million of others who have to make choices between food, medicine and utilities even with Social Security and Medicare Part D.

I have exaggerated to make a point. The Big 3 with the Government's help has been allowed to become dinosaurs. They can no longer sustain themselves in the manner to which they have become accustomed. Government kept pushing back the deadlines for fuel efficiency and foreign auto makers stepped in and filled the void. At first the cars were not very attractive or comfortable. However that has changed.

In order to survive, the Big 3 must change and make the tough decisions. They must also do it without taxpayer money bailing them out. Taxpayers are not an endless source of funds for every corrupt, greed monger. Auto-makers and businesses in America cannot continue 'business as usual'. This is a new world we live in. There are nations providing services and goods that at one time, only the US could provide. Our place in the world is changing. We can chose to embrace it as we have done in the past and become stronger. Or we can bury our heads in the sands of the past and pretent we are still the greatest nation on the earth. Resting on the laurels of the past is one way to be run over by the future.

Americans have never run away from a challenge. We are or were noted for being ingenious and going where no one had come before. Status quo was not good enough, we had to prove that we could do it better. That the nation born of castouts, ruffians and ne'er do wells was every bit as good as the aristocats in Europe.

We, the descendants of those original colonists, have become complacent with our lot in life. We are no longer the dreamers, inventors of the past.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Naughty or Nice

You can tell the holidays are here, more and more of corporate America is drafting their Christmas lists for the taxpayers. First, the $700 billion supposedly to purchase toxic assets from banks in need. Next, AIG is given $85 million to prevent failure. Now add the auto industry is crying for assistance not because of their own stupidity but because of the economy.

Gee, maybe I should have used that logic when I couldn't pay my bills. Hey, it's not my fault, it's the economy. So, Uncle Sam do you think you could bail me out too? I mean, even if no one else is going to be hurt if I fail, there is a possibility that someone might and we can't have that happen.

Since I pay taxes and it is taxpayer money that being used, can deduct my pro-rata share of this expense on my income taxes for 2008? I mean that has got to fall under charitable contributions, right!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Not Again

Well more of the taxpayers money is being handed out like we are an endless supply. As more people are losing their jobs and those of us with jobs are wondering for how long, it is released that the Federal Reserve authorized $2 Billion in additional bailout funds to banks. Who received these funds and why, you ask. Only the people who authorized the additional funds and they aren't talking for fear of the stigma that could be attached to those banks and the possibility of depositor runs. What collateral was offered? Here again, no public disclosure.

Also more money is going to AIG and once again the auto industry will be bailed out because of their short-sightedness and slowness to adapt to the real world.

Companies and our government, both national and local must come back to reality. If fewer people are working and those who are working are barely getting the ends close let alone meeting, where is this money coming from.

Politicians say we must bail these companies out to preserve jobs. Where were these people when jobs started flying to Mexico, India, China and other places. The companies who outsourced these jobs are still in business but their employees don't pay taxes to the USA and we have created millionaires in other countries at the expense of Americans.

A new day has dawned, but for many it is too late.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

The Real Work is Just Beginning

The election is over and all of the sound bites and rhetoric done. Whether your candidate won or lost, now is the time for all Americans to roll up our sleeves, dig in our heels and make the dream come true. Personally I feel like I have stumbling around in a dark, scary place and suddenly the sun peaked through and showed me a new way.

But we must exercise Common Sense. The Nation didn't fall into this mess in one day so it cannot be cleaned up in one day or even the first one hundred days. Our new president and us have a tremendous task ahead of us. Only by all Americans, Democrat & Republican, black, white, hispanic, all of us working together can we restore our great Nation to the role outlined by our founding fathers.

A new day has come, a new path chosen, let us all walk it together.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

We Hold These Truths

Have you read the Constitution, Declaration of Independence or Bill of Rights lately? No, high school or college doesn't count unless that is where you are now. I have spent some time recently reviewing these most sacred of documents because during the last few years there has been talk that they were no longer relevant. That the tenets outlined in the 18th century no longer were applicable in the 21st. Well other than the sentence structure and spelling I found the basic concepts and ideas to be just as pertinent today as they were then.

These declarations were so far reaching and showed concern not only for the citizens living at the time but for future generations. These sacred documents are the very foundation of our great nation. Our founding fathers wanted this to be a nation governed not by tyrants or religious zealots but by laws. Laws applied equally to all citizens not to some but to all.

Over the years we have strayed from these tenets and tried to follow a different path. But there have always been leaders who came forward and brought us back to right.

Over the years we have forgotten that we are a melting pot of beliefs, both religious and cultural. The one thing that binds us together is our belief in this nation and the laws on which she is founded. If we forget that basic premise then the brave men and women who have fought and died in combat over the years have died in vain and we dishonor their memories.

Sunday, October 26, 2008


Well we know now that the Bailout was just another form of handout to the greediest of the greedy. According to today's WS Journal, the focus of this travesty has changed. No longer are we focusing on the purchase of toxic assets to free up credit and preserve homeowners, shore up small businesses, but we are now encouraging banks who managed to stay afloat without government help to take help so no stigma will be assigned to those troubled bank that really need help.

Case in point, PNC Financial not previously listed as in danger if failing because of toxic assets, receives $7.7 billion of bailout money. What does PNC do with money? It purhases National City Corp for $5.58 billion. Now some may say that PNC merely saved National City from failing which is what the government wanted and the timing was a mere coincidence.

Okay, how about Bank of New York Mellon Corp? This entity was hired as custodian of the troubled asset program. They would schedule reverse auctions to establish the lowest purchase price to guarantee the sale of these toxic assets. The Treasury Department also picked BNYMC to receive $3 billion from the program.

Oh and just to make matters worse, the insurance industry and the auto industry want in on the action too. Guess the $86 million to AIG and the recent $25 billion in low cost loans weren't enough.

Where does this leave the taxpayer? Right where he has always been, holding the bag. His retirement eaten up; his home, if he stills has one, worth less than his outstanding mortgage; his job, well who knows where the job losses will occur next. They should come at the management level of every company involved in creating this crisis. No golden parachute, no stock options. We should also eliminate the elected officials at every level who espoused tax breaks, help for the wealthy and return our great nation to the tenents of our founding fathers.

We have moved so far away from the simple truths that this country was built on, the truths that young men and women haved died for. With God's help, we can be that nation again.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Bailout or Handout

Well the greed mongers got their bailout and once again the taxpayers will be left holding the bag. It wasn't enough to ship jobs overseas under the guise of improving relations with our neighbors or to save corporate America money. The thought being that if corporations could save money on salaries they would lower prices and/or increase wages to those employees still employed in the US. Also the removal of the expense of complying with various regulations would lower costs and here again allow for increased salaries.

Wrong, the old trickle down theory didn't work before, it hasn't worked and will not work in the future. People have lost their jobs and then lost their homes because of the greed that has been enabled by members of both parties. Now we are frightened into excepting this $700 billion gift to the greediest. Even now we are being told that they are not sure that this will work but they are sure that doing nothing would create an even worse situation.

As long as corporate America is not held accountable for their actions; as long as senior management is given 'golden parachutes' regardless of how their companies perform employees and taxpayers will continue to be screwed. This the same type of logic that people employ when they ask for federal help in rebuilding their vacation homes after they are repeatedly destroyed by hurricanes. 'I made a stupid decision not once but several times but I shouldn't have to bear the expense of this mistake on my own.'

Well I pay for my mistakes and when I can't meet expenses I get penalized, no one comes to my aid, at least not more than once. Yet as a taxpayer I am tired of repeatedly bailing out companies that should know better. The auto industry, the airline industry.

Ah, common sense, how I long for the return of good old fashioned common sense.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The Common Sense Party

If they ever establish a party and call it the Common Sense Party, I believe those individuals would have a chance to win. Why because that is exactly what is lacking in so many of our politicans today. They either never had or lost the ability to utilize common sense.

People are wondering how the economy got in the mess it is in. Well for starters, the politicans began deregulating everything. The first I can remember was the S&L industry. The taxpayers had to bail them out. They broke up Ma Bell into all of the little Baby Bell's and guess what most of them have combined into Teenage Bells and are merging with cellular providers. Guess we dodged a bullet on that one. The airline industry is a great example of deregulation at its finest. I don't think we have stopped bailing an airline out since deregulation happened.

Banks initially operated within specific areas and no farther. I remember when they couldn't operate outside the state they were established in. Now, Bank of America is everyone because they have merged with just about every small to medium sized bank in the region and beyond. Banks also couldn't sell insurance and now everyone sells insurance. Banks holding companies also have investment firms operating along side their own investment department.

Mortgages were only for those who had money and could afford to borrow. Most individuals could only borrow from loan companies. These companies didn't make mortgages but lent money for just about everything else. Their interest rates were higher than banks but they were dealing with higher risk. Banks only made mortgages to account holders and only if you were a great credit risk.

That has all changed. The greed mongers thought up new and creative ways to make money and if they were a little on the shady side, they called up their friendly neighborhood congressman and asked for a little favor. Regulations were dropped or severely crippled and oversight became a thing of the past. The old trickle down theory. If you eliminate the regulations that are strangling businesses, they will make more profit and that profit will trickle down to their employees who will have a better standard of living.

Wrong!!!!!!!!!! The only thing it did was increase the profits for the businesses which in turn created large bonuses for the senior management so that when they decided to move to another industry they could trade their silver parachute for a golden one or even a platinum one. Leaving the employees high and dry still working for the same salary.

The only thing that trickles down is crap.

But I digress. The Common Sense Party would be founded on the premise that if it doesn't make sense and does more harm than good, you just don't do it. If it benefits the few to the detriment of the many, you just don't do it. In other words, we return to the values that this great country was founded on. Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, freedom and justice for all. Sounds very pollyana but at one time not too long ago this country valued these things. A couple of world wars were fought for the protection of these ideals.

Yep, The Common Sense Party. Sounds like a winner to me. But then I can remember when......................

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

What ever happened to .........

We have had those moments when we asked the question, What ever happened to...???? Usually it refers to an old college roomate, boyfriend or girlfriend, co-worker, etc.

Today, I am wondering what ever happened to Common Sense? You know, it is what keeps you from touching the burner after you remove the pot because it is hot. You did know that didn't you? Or it stops you from taking a sip of coffee because you just made a fresh pot and it hasn't cooled off yet. Well, unless you're that person who sued McDonald's because they didn't tell her the coffee was hot.

But anyway, Common Sense. Just about everyone had it when I was growing up and the ones who didn't stood out like a sore thumb. Their parents were pitied because you just knew they were not going to amount to much. But today, lack of common sense appears to be the norm. Was the common sense gene destroyed some how? Is it one of those things that you lose if you don't use it?

Common Sense, it kept us from doing things that would thoroughly embarass us and everyone around us. It also kept us from doing serious harm to ourselves and anyone else dumb enough to follow us.

America Land of the Free????

When I was in school we learned that our country was based on the freedoms that were denied under English rule. The freedom to speak our minds, to worship how and who we wanted or not, if we so chose.

Every 4 years we go through the process of selecting the individual who will head our government. Increasingly over the last few elections the process has become more negative. The contenders are more interested in attacking the merits or lack thereof of their opponents. This is done at the expense of the issues that are really important to the voters. This type of campaigning trickles down to the followers of the respective candidates. Why am I mentioning this??? Well because of an experience that a co-worker had while on vacation recently.
I will not recount the entire episode here. But it entailed he and his wife being terrorized on a highway in the United States because of the bumper sticker on their car. A fast food drink container was thrown at their car. Their car was surrounded and obsenities yelled at them, an individual even got out of his car and performed some indecent acts and made some threatening gestures.

When they got to their hotel and described their ordeal, they were told to remove the bumper sticker. They even approached the police and were told the exact same thing.

Thankfully no guns were pulled but if this had happened in the movies, guns would have been pulled, lives would have been taken. My co-worker and his wife, had they survived, would have taken in custody and locked away.

All of this because of a bumper sticker.

The last time I checked Freedom of Speech was a right that we all enjoyed, not just the supporters of one particular political party. You might say, that the perpetrators were just exercising their right to free speech and you would be right. However, the right to free speech ends when you jeopardize the lives of other individuals. When the individuals who are witnessing your free speech feel threatened and fear for their lives.

We need to exercise some common sense. We are all Americans, it doesn't matter who we vote for as long as we vote. It doesn't matter who or how we worship as long as we don't try to force others to believe the same as we do. Once we start turning on each other, those who would destroy America and our way of life have won.

Together we will prevail, separately we will fall.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Points in Time

We tend to mark our lives by important events that occur. We remember where we were when we heard our favorite song. We remember where we were when man first walked on the moon, when Kennedy was assasinated, and on 9/11/2001. Those and many others in the past and the many to come in the future define who we are and who we are to become. Each event whether good or bad leaves a mark in the fabric of our lives. It changes us, how we think, how we view the world and how we feel about life or death in general.

We can't avoid these events. They play out without our input or our consent. How we respond and how we learn from these events will aid us in the future.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Life is too short to worry about the small stuff. If you have your priorities in order life is much simpler. Family, friends are much more important than stuff. Stuff can be replaced, loved ones cannot.

Also try not to sweat things that you have no control over. If you can't change it, influence it in some way, then it is not worth worrying about. You can control how you respond to those things.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Today's comment refers to the lack of common sense that appears to be running rampant. For example, the front page of today's paper noted a request to the city council to ban saggy pants on young people. Yes, it is a fashion statement and generations of young people have been shocking their elders with fashion statements. However, this latest craze of saggy pants not only is offensive but could be dangerous. How can someone possibly walk comfortably with their jeans riding under their butt cheeks. Besides, I don't know about you but men's underwear in public was never a priority with me.

However, having said that, I don't believe that government can regulate clothing. If you ask for regulation on this, what is to keep someone else from requesting that the council ban t-shirts or flip-flops. I believe what is called for is a return to common sense. The more you try to ban something, the more that the young people will want to do it or wear it .

Of course another way to get young people to stop is for the adults to start wearing or doing it too. No young person would be caught dead looking like his mother or father. Of course, this could backfire and we could have 70 and 80 year old individuals running around with their pants hanging under their butt cheeks and that could really be offensive.