Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Tom Nichols gives a lesson in history at the Gainesville Times

Just as we need to look at history for possible lessons on economic downturns, Tom Nichols rewrites history for his point of view.

In today's Gainesville Times, Nichols says, "During the First World War, German officials chose to borrow money to finance its war effort rather than to raise taxes, because increased taxes were highly unpopular."

Tom, you have a very selective memory but I guess your World War One service was a long time ago.

Not only did Germany borrow money, but all the belligerents went into debt. But, since I believe you have an agenda to attack Obama, of course you would use Adolf Hitler's name in your essay.
As Marshal Trivulzio wrote to Louis XII of France in 1499, ‘To carry out war three things are necessary: money, money and yet more money.’

Shame on you for not discussing how all the countries borrowed from abroad.

The essential precondition for such warfare was economic mobilization. Before the war many pundits imagined that the principal constraint on sustained operations would be war finance—that states would be unable to extend their credit. They were wrong: by borrowing from abroad, from their own citizens, and ultimately from themselves (through accepting treasury bills as security for currency issue), the belligerents postponed payment until after the war.

Tom also says, "
France entered the war because it had a treaty alliance with Russia." Actually, the Germans were invading France using a modified Schlieffen plan developed in 1904. The plan called for a "wheeling" attact through Belgium with a goal of taking Paris so quickly that the French wouldn't know what hit them. Germany had a pledge to protect the neutrality of Belgium, as did Britain. It's not a matter of Belgium being a British ally as Tom remembers it.

If alliance were the issue, then Belgium was also an ally to Germany. But, Belgium doesn't enter the war on Germany's side.


Tom says German "hyperinflation ruined bank savings and forced almost a quarter of the German workers to become unemployed." Was the 50% shrinkage in GDP the cause of unemployment in Austria aka Germany or was it hyperinflation? Maybe it was from losing the war?

I'd vote that winning the war would have been very good for "Germany's" economy. Losing the war destroyed the economy, Tom. You might have mentioned a little flu epidemic called the Spanish Flu that killed at least 50 million around the world. It started in Europe in the last few months of the "Great War."

Pretty much Tom, if you want to compare Obama to Hilter or the current world economic crisis to hyperinflation post WWI, you're not much more than a mustached corporal yourself.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

FOCA response

Recently, a paid advertisement appeared in the Dade County Sentinel concerning The Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA) (http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/z?c108:S.2020). The advertisement was, sadly, the kind of partisan, ideologically driven “wedge” we’ve come to grow weary of in our politics. It is part of a Georgia-wide effort led by state Senator David Shafer (GOP-48th District, Northern Fulton and Gwinnett) who has introduced resolution SR156 in Atlanta (http://www.legis.ga.gov/legis/2009_10/versions/sr156_As_introduced_LC_28_4524_2.htm) protesting the FOCA bill.

Of course, the problem is…FOCA hasn’t been introduced in the 111th Congress! The FOCA bill which Senator Shafer and his supporters are “protesting” was a U.S. Senate bill introduced in 2004.

In the midst of the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, with Georgia’s state budget facing severe cutbacks to vital programs, a significant portion of the Republican Party seeks not solutions to our common problems, but to inflame old issues that are no closer to being resolved today than they were 40 years ago.

FOCA may be re-introduced eventually, I don’t know. And if Senator Shafer and his allies seek to oppose it, I wish them well and congratulate them for doing their civic duty as they see it. But it comes sadly as no surprise that he over-reaches in his protests concerning as yet-non-existent FOCA legislation.

In his bill, Senator Shafer states that it’s a “top priority” of President Barack Obama’s. President Obama has now been in office over a month, and his administration has introduced a number of bills, some of which have already become law…and not one mention of FOCA. During the campaign, he stated his support for the idea of FOCA, but with everything else going on, it simply isn’t a “top priority” of his or the Democratic Party at large.
Second, Senator Shafer uses the word “invalidate” to describe the effects of FOCA, as in it would “invalidate all laws, federal, state and local,” concerning abortion. The only thing is the 2004 version that no longer exists didn’t seek to do that.

Current law concerning abortion is still largely shaped by Roe v. Wade. However often opponents of abortion like to use scare phrases like “abortion on demand,” Roe v. Wade does not provide “abortion on demand.” It and subsequent rulings have provided that women have the right to have an abortion up to “viability” which is generally around the 24 week point. This is used as one of the “trimester” marking points.

So, currently, women have the right to have an abortion up through the 2nd trimester, and then they have the right in the third trimester if their health is an issue. Otherwise, Roe v Wade left the third trimester up to the states.

And FOCA does not “invalidate” this. The wording of FOCA was “To prohibit, consistent with Roe v. Wade, the interference by the government with a woman’s right to choose to bear a child or terminate a pregnancy, and for other purposes.”

So, in essence, FOCA was largely symbolic. It essentially stated what already exists…a woman has a right to have an abortion up to viability, and after that, if health is an issue, that right holds. It simply attempts to state that in one legislative law, instead of a variety of court rulings. It doesn’t change the current situation at all, as the wording of the 2004 bill makes clear.

For the past 30 years, the Republican Party has led some or all the branches of government at various times. In all that time, party leaders have scarcely lifted a finger to actually do anything to prohibit abortions. That’s because it is far more valuable to the GOP as a political wedge than the actual outlawing of abortion ever would be.

A suggestion: Instead of more demagoguery on this issue, why can’t Republicans and Democrats, liberals and conservatives, work toward reducing the number of uninsured children, the number of teen and unwanted pregnancies? We all want to see those reduced, as well as the actual number of abortions. Why don’t we work together and pass legislation allowing for the teaching of abstinence and birth control to our teens? No less of an authority than Sarah Palin’s daughter has stated publicly “Abstinence-only doesn’t work!” And yet, Governor Palin and her party continue to place their ideology above the needs of young women like her own Bristol.

We want a government that works to solve the problems that government can solve, not a government driven by ideology and a desire to divide the American public in endless and unproductive squabbles.

Sincerely,
Tom McMahan
2nd Vice Chair, Dade County Democratic Committee

Monday, February 23, 2009

GOP's latest whine production, vintage 2001

No big news. Governor Perdue thinks the federal government is borrowing too much money.

Let's look at the figures. ex-President Bush went into office promising to create a cash surplus of $1 trillion. He also promised to pay down the national debt to $3.7 trillion. When Obama entered office, the debt was $10.6 trillion and cash on hand was roughly $25 billion.

Bush et al missed their budgets by a trillion dollars a year for 8 years. Where was Perdue then, China?

With just 8 years of Bush to study and analyze, it's no surprise great leaders like want to second guess the current President after 30 days on the job.

We can't afford another eight years of fiscal conservatives like Bush and Perdue. Bush's time ran out and Perdue's time will soon be up. God help us all fix the local and national problems caused by 'conservatives.' Including the huge state deficit and the Bush deficit and the desire to become Yankee carpetbaggers.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Work like 1929 to save 2009

If in 1929, and the years after, we did 'give away' seeds to farmers, why not give away money to homeowners today?

First, place a moratorium on all residential foreclosures of owner occupied homes.

Second, allow the moratorium only with these conditions. The owner and his/her family continues to live in the home. The owner does not make any payments of any sort until adjudication of the mortgage by a local board. The owner makes all other payments of bills and debt until adjudication. The owner's credit is frozen until adjudication.

Those two steps would take place in a courtroom and through the owner serving 'notice' to the lender or the service agent of the mortgage. The owner would have to prove at a hearing that no other borrowing has occurred since sending the notice and that all other debts and bills are being paid.

Step three would be to empower local boards to settle the mortgage.

The board could determine that the matter is beyond their scope and ability to handle and the matter could go back to bankruptcy or foreclosure.

The board could takes some or all of the following steps.

Order a market appraisal or other real world appraisal of the home.
Order tax records, financial reports, and income statements for the borrower.
If the owner does not appear solvent because of predatory lending practices, the board could seize the property from the lien holder. Once seized, the board could reset the loan balance and interest rate as well as the monthly payments. All this must be done to a reasonable formula that balances debt to income and the 'greater good.'

That greater good would not be keeping people from bankruptcy. The process would be very much like bankruptcy with the owner unable to borrow any more money from any source during and after the process. After the process, the original loan would be moved from one 'bank' to one of the bailed out banks, partly owned by taxpayers. And, remember, taxpayers would set on all the boards.

Home owners who survived the process would have a mark on their credit histories for a length of time to be determined by the amount of assistance given by the local boards.

The private banks would get a lump sum settlement equal to the new appraisal value of the home without attorney or real estate fees, a small savings.

Economic contraction would be smaller than if all the owners stopped paying all their bills.

The banks which have been bailed out by taxpayers would get fresh loans on their books as well as interest income.

Am I being naive?

Thursday, February 19, 2009

1929 Depression Questions

I would like some help from anyone who might have direct or indirect knowledge of farming programs started under Roosevelts New Deal. The New Deal has so many web sites and links that unless I have a very good starting point, I might never find what I'm looking for.

So what do I want?

In 1982 or 1983, as I worked in a national bank located in Southern Indiana, a customer talked to me about the Great Depression. During the Depression this man worked in some very small government job reviewing farm credit. Farmers who needed credit to buy things like seed would apply to the board. The board reviewed the 'need' rather than the ability to repay. Only when there seemed to be no hope of repayment did the board turn away a farmer.

I want to learn about this 'board' or agency in detail. I have no clue as to what might have been the name, if it was a federally funded loan or grant, or a local program.

I just remember how rough the economy was in 1982-1983. A man told me his Depression story about providing 'loans' for farmers to buy seeds. And, his only regret was refusing a seed loan to a woman with small kids. His excuse was that without a man, she wouldn't be able to plant, raise, and harvest a crop.

I would really like to know more about this program if it ever existed. Any help?

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Stolen from the Gainesville Times

We’ve all heard the criticism lately about the stimulus plan advocated by President Obama. Will it work? Will it help the economy recover? Create jobs? Bolster consumer confidence? Or is it really just a Democratic power grab and spending clearing house?

These, however, are not the most relevant questions anymore. The bill is headed for the President’s desk very shortly and will become law. Questions about its efficacy are moot. The right question is not whether it will work. The right question is, will it work for you?

Think of the stimulus plan like a piƱata at a child’s birthday party. Most partygoers are jumping around screaming with delight as the dizzy blindfolded cherub with his cardboard crown swings in the dark for something solid. Invariably, among the gregarious gaggle will be one or two precocious tots who 'get it'. They realize the one with the most candy at the end of this thing will be the one with the dirtiest knees.

And so it goes with the stimulus plan. Slithering around on the floor will be the handful of dirty-kneed opportunists who thrive in the vacuum created between exuberance and reality. Those who read the final version of the bill front to back, all 500 or 1,000 pages of it, and position themselves advantageously. Those who shun all politics except that of the omnivorous self-interest.

The opportunities will perhaps involve investing in companies which stand to benefit from government infrastructure contracts. In the job market, one might seek obscure employment opportunities in industrial sectors likely to receive government incentives for growth. In the entrepreneurial sector, businesses will be started with a focus on available government grants and entitlements. There’s close to a trillion dollars at stake here. That’s a lot of opportunity.

Of course, I’m obviously not speaking to the typical Democratic voter. Not the ones still basking in the warmth of victory and giddy from the anticipation of change. For them, it will be pocket change at best. Indeed, those who need the most help will wait in desperate futility while the buying power of whatever monetary token they receive is sapped by inflation. The bulk of the stimulus money will quickly find its way to capitalists and opportunists only to trickle down in lackluster dilution to the masses. You might say it’s the same as we’ve had the last 8 years. More like the last 200 years, actually. Sorry, but that’s how it works in practice, political rhetoric notwithstanding. The dealers change, but not the game.

So if it is your nature to scratch for every opportunity to better yourself under whatever circumstances might occur, rejoice! The stimulus bill offers great promise for you. However, if you think simply voting one way or another will enhance your station in life, I would suggest lottery tickets as a back up plan. With the lottery, at least you have some chance to win.


Reproduced with permission of the author, Mr. John Galt.

My thanks to you, Sir.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Ditch digging, the most important of all human activity

Ditch digging has done more good for the human race than any other human activity.

That one sentence should get me into the history books, if I were the first to express the idea. I abhor the idea of the wheel as the great invention. Yes, as inventions go, the wheel is a great labor saving device, perhaps even a labor multiplying device. Yet, it has done less than the humble ditch of proper width and depth.

Given the proper width and depth, a ditch can irrigate a field, protect an army in a castle, provide water transportation like the Wabash and Erie Canal.

But, those things miss the prime reason for inventing the ditch.

Sanitation.

In one form or another, even today, we use a ditch to carry unsanitary waste, and disease, away from our ... cities.

Had we not invented the ditch and ditch digging, we would still carry our humble belonging from temporary resting place to temporary resting place. Perhaps during a resting cycle, the wheel would have been invented to save the labor of carrying our 'stuff.' (See George Carlin for a full discussion of our stuff)

Beware those who belittle the mighty Ditch Digger. Without 'him', we would have nothing but what we could carry on our backs.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Here's to you, Horse Face.

What is Harris Blackwood smoking?

"The Georgia Department of Labor has released data showing 2,351 persons filed new unemployment insurance claims in Hall County in January."

Or, is the man right about those numbers?

California only lost 20,000 jobs in January and it's the most populated state in the nation with 36 million people.

"There were 9,260 persons who filed for unemployment in Dalton..."

If Harris is stone cold straight, that's 11,611 people filing new unemployment claims in just Hall and Dalton.

The AP story, also in the Times, says the entire state only had 4,392 new unemployment claims.

"Among the states, California saw the biggest increase in jobless claims, a jump of 20,000 that it attributed to layoffs in construction and service industries. The next largest increases were in: North Carolina, with 8,663; Ohio, with 4,738; Georgia's 4,392; and Kansas, with 3,232."

Must be an explanation besides a smoke screen.

National unemployment, unadjusted, is reported as 8.5%.

13 million people are unemployed.

Ten years ago, the annual average was under 6 million. January 1999 was 6.6 million. Unemployment is roughly double today was it was in January 1999.

I just wish the Horse Faced Ann Coulter was pulling a plow or digging a ditch.

Ann Coulter in my email

The wicked witch is back this week with two new emails to me.

"The stimulus bill isn't as bad as we had expected -- it's much worse. Instead of merely creating useless, make-work jobs digging ditches -- or "shovel-ready," in the Democrats' felicitous phrase -- the "stimulus" bill will create an endless army of government bureaucrats aggressively intervening in our lives. Instead of digging ditches, American taxpayers will be digging our own graves."

I didn't know that ditch diggers were useless. Thanks Ann for making that clear to me. Now, I have another reason to ignore the working class.

Digging our own graves ... because of government bureaucrats. Well, we just dug nine graves for corporate murder victims. With shovels. Those worthless things.

But, Ann is right. We just can't have aggressively monitored corporations. Isn't that what she means by "our lives?"

Nine dead people strongly suggest what to Ann?

Nothing.

Send Ann a couple jars of peanut butter. She can eat it with her fingers like a proper Neanderthal woman.

Nathan Deal Brain Dead

WOW! The brain dead can say the brightest things.

The Favorite Son of Hall County says the peanut scandal will hurt our state. Could he say something more obvious like it killed people? Yeah, he could and did. He called the actions of Peanut Corporation of American "questionable."

QUESTIONABLE!

We have a string of emails to and from the company president that have the proverbial smoking gun. The email describe the gun as a fully automatic assault rifle that killed nine people across the country.

Had the CEO used an AK-47 those people would have been murder victims. As victims go, they are just involved in a "peanut scandal." The other 600 cases of "poisoning," what shall we call them if not innocent.

Deal is running for re-election. Sadly, that means someone will pull his strings and put some words in his mouth again for 20 months. This month, it's outrage over money.

It should have been outrage over murder. People truly are more important than corporations or profit.

Michael W. Parker

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Help

Okay, besides the obvious mental health help, I need some help finding this other blog called Hall Monitor.

I want to put up a link to it.

I also want any other serious blog in the 9th District listed here.

How about it? Know some good sources in the 9th?

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

The idiots of the Gainesville Times Editorial Board

I ain't done yet.

How about these apples.

Government shouldn't interfere in schools? Let me quote the Times. "Second, neither does more regulation and government intervention in schools."

Government shouldn't regulate or intervene in schools.

Jesus H. Christ and his brother Bob!

The fricken fracken government only builds, staffs, and runs the schools. All the employees are government employees. Do the dumb asses at the Times think the KIDS should "regulate and intervene" as needed to maintain control, finance, and quality?

How many words did the Board waste on that editorial? Every word. Every single one.

All they needed to say was, "End public schools."

Monday, February 9, 2009

Teaching to the Test

I heard this phrase in the recent debate on Georgia education. Someone explain it to me like I've never heard it before? Please?

Correct me if I'm wrong again. Schools buy books on suitable subjects. Teach the material in the book. Then, give a test about that material. How can it work any other way?

Wasn't last years educational controversy caused by using a test that didn't conform to the subject taught? Social Studies wasn't it? Where half the kids failed.

That's how it works when you don't "teach to the test," isn't it?

Or, in that glory of Southern Wisdom, tests shouldn't match teaching materials.

I bet a few teachers will confirm that textbooks come with tests already prepared. So, let's get it clear. The test has always matched the classroom materials. That's the friggen' point of the test.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

The Gainesville Times editorial

I like the Gainesville Times. The bungling fools that run the Times give me about half of my blog material.

Today, the Editorial Staff came out in favor of school vouchers. Ho hum.

But, they did have a nice twist on the idea. Check out the brain dead:

"The voucher plan, if passed, wouldn't be a cure-all. For one thing, $5,000 wouldn't be enough for tuition to most private schools, which may not have enough space to handle an influx of new students (though the free market would take care of that over time)."

Nevermind that Alan Greenspan said that the current economic crisis and its causes have destroyed the foundations of market thinking; giving away government money has nothing to do with the mythical free market.

Look at the basics of the idea. The State government, which is an estimated $2 billion dollars in the RED for THIS year, is going to give away $5,000 per student for parents to withdraw from public schools. And, eventually someone will build enough good private schools that public education will either get better or just go away.

Why don't we call it just another bailout for private CEOs? If our state government is going to spend money in the private sector, it is a bailout. If that money props up a new industry with wealthy CEO's, how do we know as taxpayers that the CEOs won't buy private jets, take skiing trips to Aspen, and give out huge bonus money? Not to mention 'donations' to politicians to keep the subsidies coming.

Let the private schools earn their keep before giving them taxpayer dollars and free loans.

Roger that.

No. I didn't misspell editorial.

In today's online edition of the Gainesville Times, the edicts flow like the microscopic flora and fauna of a septic tank.

"Over the years, we've learned a couple of lessons. First, throwing more money at education doesn't fix it. Second, neither does more regulation and government intervention in schools."

There's so much of a septic nature in that paragraph, maybe I should not waste time ridiculing the writer.

But, I'm one of those nasty Yankee kind of guys, who unlike Lincoln, tells it how it is.

When exactly did your state throw money at education? How much was thrown? By who or whom?

Obviously the esteemed author went to school in the south and never learned basic writing skills. Cliche'

The esteemed author doesn't know how to throw a cliche'. I hope heads don't roll but I am calling for someone to take the bull by the horns at the Times. But, I never put all my eggs in one basket but if this cloud has a silver lining, maybe the Edictorial Staff will get a better ghost writer.

Did Herr Ghost Writer compare the population growth rate to the education spending growth rate before issuing the Edictorial cliche's?

I would have. Georgia is growing and growing very rapidly. Among the states, some claim it is the 6th fastest growing state. Let's cut and paste a couple quotes.

" In the last ten years alone, Georgia grew by 26 percent—one-fifth faster than the rest of the nation. Between 1995 and 2000, the state had a net increase of over one million people—the fourth largest net gain in the nation. Georgia adds about 540 people every day. "

"Between April 1, 1990 and July 1, 1999, natural increase in Georgia accounted for net growth of 527,844. During the same period, the Census Bureau estimates net domestic migration for Georgia at 665,418 and net international migration at 105,839. Thus, 40 percent of all growth in Georgia came from natural increase, and 60 percent came from migration from other states and countries." (http://www.npg.org/ga_poll/georgia.html)

From the U.S. Census, "One of the primary purposes of the U.S. Census is to measure population distribution and change. Although the nation as a whole has continued to expand, growth has been far from uniform. Between 1990 and 2000, 684 of the nation's 3142 counties reported a population loss, many of these in the Great Plains states. At the same time, five counties (three in Colorado and two in Georgia) more than doubled their population, and another 80 counties experienced growth rates greater than 50 percent. Altogether, 1109 of the nation's counties reported growth that exceeded the national growth rate of approximately 13 percent between 1990 and 2000."

If I were prone to throwing cliche's, I'd say the world has been throwing kids at our schools.

I promise to get back to this topic of throwing money versus throwing septic flora and fauna.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Economic Solutions

I've gone over these ideas before but I decided to revisit them again.

President George Bush announced a recession weeks before taking the oath. Before the oath could echo off the Washington Monument, Bush was pushing tax cuts to end the recession. His $2.4 trillion dollars in tax cuts probably started the recession of 2001 which began in March 2001 and ended in September before the 9/11 attacks.

How do I justify saying that?

The announcement of the tax cuts changed behavior among the elite and powerful. That change in behavior didn't increase productivity, it reduced productivity.

Think about the way Republicans think about welfare. Welfare gives black women no incentive to work or use birth control.

The certainty of an increase in take home pay without working harder, smarter, or better, removes any incentive to increase production.

So, let me make it simple. Bush cut taxes $2.4 trillion dollars. Our government had to borrow the money. That money then went to people who weren't more productive as a result. In the end, there was a short recession and $4 trillion dollars in more debt. No job growth. No increase in wealth. No improvements in our society or way of life. Just money for CEO deadbeats.

Just my humble opinion.

How is a spending program any better?

If Bush had spent the $2.4 trillion on buying new cars, the Big Three Auto Makers could give away a $17,666 dollar car to every taxpayer in America. But, it would take them about 11 years to make and deliver the cars. And, the government wouldn't be $4 trillion in debt over an alleged $2.4 trillion "economic stimulus package."

So we could have metered out $218 billion in more spending per year under Bush. And, we could have made sure the money was spent in America on American jobs and American goods.

Yes, we would have still gone in debt. But, only $2.4 billion as promised. And, that would have been at a controlled rate that could be stopped or sped up as needed.

How did we monitor the tax cuts and the economic "stimulus" from them? We didn't. Bush especially didn't.

It's better that we use economic stimulus tools that resemble a hammer and saw instead of tools that resemble the casting of bread onto water.