Tuesday, September 30, 2008

My take on the bailout

It's been repeated at least a few times that it is apparent that those in charge, both Democrats and Republicans, seem to believe that one fundamental rule when legislating our economy is to privatize profits and socialize the losses, but primarily for the rich.
So, when the rich are making lots of money, we dare not tax them or else trickle-down economics will kick in and everyone will be damaged. But if the rich lose large amounts of money, tax payers must socialize those losses, because again, trick-down economics will kick in and everyone will be damaged.
This makes Obama's cautious support for the bailout less bad than McCain's cautious support for the bailout. Obama wants to eliminate the corporate tax moratorium. He is socializing both large gains and losses, versus McCain wants the rich to have their cake and eat it too.
I disagree with both of them though, in that we should not bail out these companies. Yes, there will be short term consequences. By short term I n probably a couple of years at least. Those/these times will not be easy, but that is part of how capitalism works, and I haven't hear anyone explicitly suggest in all this an end to capitalism. Bad market ideas are suppose to yield losses, which should encourage future venture capitalists to not try anything like this, knowing they will go under if they do. That's the theory at least.
Anyways, lending will start back up sooner rather than later, even without the bailout. In trying times people come up with really creative ways to make money. If there are potential lendees out there, and it seems reasonable that they can pay back their loans, then there will be an entrepreneur looking to lend that money. The number of people able to pay back their loans will certainly decrease, but it will only be for the short term. Once financially stable people are making loans and paying them back, the lending system's gears will start to greased, and the train will eventually be back in full motion. It may take a little longer than artificially inserting 7$bill, but it will happen, it will just happen more responsibly.
Let's look at the history of bailouts. The first bailout was in 1970, and in 2008 dollars Penn Central Railroad was awarded $3.2 billion. Since then a total of $662.5 billion has been awarded in tax-payer funded bailouts. Over half of the $662.5 billion has been under George W. Bush, and all of it has been under a Republican administration. Bush has already more than doubled the amount of bailouts we have paid out, and this legislation would double it again.
What is interesting is that this legislation is largely backed by Democrats, though many are strongly opposing it, and has little support amongst Republicans. Also, all Republicans not up for election support it, while all of the Republican dissent comes from congressmen up for reelection. That certainly seems to imply the reason for the dissent is primarily political and not practical, but the same is probably true for most of the Democratic side as well, even if the numbers crunch differently.
Another large problem with the bailout is that we don't actually have $7 billion. We are in the hole, big time. The only way we can come up with this money is to borrow it, which is pretty ironic in and of itself. The idea of borrowing $7 billion from other countries who actually have their finances together to pay rich bankers for screwing up our economy so that they can fix the problems they created, and that is must all be fast tracked without much deliberation is astounding.
What may be a good idea is to put a moratorium on all foreclosure for at least six months, and then use tax dollars to subsidize those loans as conservatively as possible in a fashion that allows those who became a victim of predatory loans to make their payments. Then make those reasonable payments that are affordable to the borrowers static so that they never go up. This will allow home owners to keep their houses and not file for bankruptcy, it will make good (in the long run) on those debts, and the banks that took out insurance on these bad loans to not have to pay out on those insurance claims. It will be a long way from fixing everything, but it should be less expensive and offer a better long-term solution to the problem.


Thursday, September 18, 2008


When I was in California over the Christmas vacation last year I stopped in a store named teavana and bought some really great tea. One of the teas that I bought was called Monkey Picked Oulong. At $25 for 2oz it is not cheap, but since you can make ~4 cups per teaspoon out of it, it's not that bad. Today I put the last bit in my percolator. I will get four more cups and then have to buy more if I want it. This is truly the best tea I have ever had that I can drink without sugar and worth every penny if you can swing the money.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

A Good Day for Music

On Monday Athena was sick so picked her up from day care and take care of her for the day. Around noon she was feeling better and getting bored of sitting around the house so we went in to town. I stopped at Goodwill and looked through their record collection.
I ended up getting about four Peter, Paul & Mary albums, a Mamas and the Papas record, an Alice Cooper record, and The Very Best of the Lovin' Spoonful.
The Lovin' Spoonful record was really good. I really enjoyed it. When I went to put it away I noticed I had another album, The Best of the Lovin' Spoonful. This one was great too. So here I was with two albums, one I didn't even know I had, that I was pretty pumped about. Then in my Best of the Lovin' Spoonful album I notice a second record in there, its the first album by Moby Grape.
I had first heard of Moby Grape on NPR. I downloaded some of their music and really enjoyed it. I had never gotten around to actually buying an album. I had mentioned them to my mom and she said that she used to like Moby Grape back in the 70s, so I had picked up their "best of" album last week for her birthday.
Now here I am with their first album, and I had no idea I had it.
So Monday was a really good day for my music collection. Once I get some time I am going to rip the lot to my computer for easy digital listening.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Hiking in St. Marks

Last Sunday Andrew and I went hiking out near the St. Marks light house. You can view our walk here and pictures starting here and here.
We started around 1:30 or 2:00. We brought plenty of sun screen and deep woods off. The mosquitoes are really bad because of all the rain brought in by the tropical storms. Andrew wore long pants, which would have been a good idea for me to have done as well. I brought a water-bottle filled with water and ice. Andrew brought his man-purse thingy with his water bottle.
The mosquitoes surrounded us, but the off did a pretty good job of keeping them away. It is still annoying when the buzz around your head and in your ear, even if they aren't landing on you to bite. Next time I'm going to wear my safari hat.
At the start of the trail we saw a deer and a place where hogs had been digging in the ground looking for food.
Along the way we saw a few more dear, a large vulture flying low (if he was waiting on us to kick the bucket, he left disappointed) and panther prints. About 3/4 of the way down there was a primitive camping spot as well.
Just after the camping spot the trail continues as an unmaintained trail. This part was actually much more pleasant. Because nobody had knocked down any trees to make way for the trail, there was lots of shade no grass. The problem with a maintained trail is that if it is not maintained enough it gets grown in.
In the unmaintained part we found a banana spider. These are very common, but right as we looked at it a bug landed in its web. It ran over and began eating it immediately. Andrew got plenty of pictures of the event.
The trail ended at the St. Marks River. It was absolutely beautiful. We where pretty tired by this time. We would have been happy to end there, but walking back our only option.
As soon as we left the unmaintained part, and got back to the maintained trail Kim called. I was gone a lot longer than she expected. Right after my call Andrew got a text message. We both thought it was ironic that we where out in the middle of the woods in nowhere land and getting calls and texts on our cell phones.
The walk back was pretty rough. On major problems with trails that go East-West is that the shade of the trees doesn't really hit the trail that well at any time of the day.
The very last stretch we ran back as much as we could. The mosquitoes where getting worse, and the bug spray wasn't keeping them completely away. We where too tired to run too much, but we mustered all the running we could. Our water has also run out and we where both really thirsty.

The trip was a real success. I enjoyed every minute of it, even when I was tired, thirsty, and being eaten alive. As much as I enjoy being out in the woods, a seven-mile track through the woods can really make you appreciate all we have. I was very happy to take a nice-long shower and lay down in a soft bed with my AC blasting.
The worst part was finding two ticks on my feet. I really can't stand those things.