Penny For Your Thoughts

December 28, 2008

A difficult year lies ahead. The country is not only broke, it is deeply mired in debt. Major companies have gone belly-up, and have been bailed out…or not. Credit is tight. Go figure.

Our federal government remains committed to borrowing or printing about $7.7 trillion dollars to hide reality from us, but we still know. We’re in trouble.

We also ought to know that after this initial orgy of spending is over, Barack Obama and the Congress are not going to cut spending back. Nor will the federal government become thrifty and accountable. At least, not by design.

Moreover, regarding our debt, when Social Security, Medicare, unfunded worker pensions and other commitments are included, the burden upon us swells to outrageous proportions. Many of the chickens are already on their way home, in anticipation of roosting. Social Security goes from the black into the red in 2017.

Or, with a depression in between now and then, that “then” may be sooner than predicted.

As an optimist, I know we can solve these problems. We can make adjustments to prepare for future commitments. We could, that is, if we were dealing with reasonably sensible people. We’re not. We’re dealing with politicians.

We the people are effectively out of the loop. Politicians don’t listen to us. Especially at the federal level.

Witness the pay raise that congressmen of both parties have nabbed – by not voting on it. (The cost of living adjustment is automatic, unless Congress says otherwise.) After hitting all-time lows in public approval ratings and regulating up the largest fiscal mess since the Great Depression, our congressmen are raising their own pay beginning in January. With CEOs schlepping up to Congress pledging to take one buck a year, members of Congress will make $174,000. Majority and minority leaders in both houses make even more, $188,100 per year; Nancy Pelosi makes nearly $30,000 more than that.

Now, I don’t begrudge people who make a ton of money. Or even several tons. But yes, I begrudge congressmen the salaries we pay. Not the dollar figure, no…

Paul Jacob is Senior Advisor to the Sam Adams Alliance, which sponsors Paul’s weekly Townhall column as well as Common Sense, a short radio commentary featured in over 100 radio stations throughout the country.

Are Attorneys Auto Qualified For Office?

Authored by William Robert Barber

I can only imagine the discussion(s) that took place over the thousands of years wherein the ruling persuaded the ruled as to the merits of their particular governing acumen. My assumption is that regardless of the persuasion utilized (by those seeking to rule) the objective of the persuasion was directed to (at the very least) the illusion of:  What was in the best interest of the ruled.

As part of the collection of merits that fit into the parcel presented (by those who seek to rule) was and is today a capricious blend of often pretentious intangibles with reliance on imagery of all sorts, associations, associates, educational, military, or business achievements, family credentials, moral virtues, and the all important ability to spontaneously deliver rhetorical melodiousness when addressing any audience. Tangible persuasion such as actually having the power to receive the blessings of those ruled, as well as, possessing the wisdom and skill to lead is a matter of belief that can only truly be measured in arrears. In other words, we peoples that are ruled value the intangibles presented much more than the tangibles in fact.

In the United States we of the electorate, evidence by our voting behavior, have this ‘feeling’ that attorneys, judges, and former military officers are better persons to lead the nation that the gardener, school teacher, candle stick maker, or truck driver. However, when one reflects, these accredited and licensed persons did not properly or prudently anticipate the nation’s challenges; history has numerous evidence of tragic consequential result simply because those in power did not either display the means to lead or indeed forthrightly with clear transparency provide the leadership that pushed and pulled the electorate into the abyss of stupid legislation.

Trying desperately not to put the reader to sleep, I will not recall the last two hundred years of facts but instead emphasize recent events. Recently, Mr. Bernard Madoff was exposed as a fraud. However for many years, Mr. Madoff was an accepted member of the ‘appointed to rule’. He is presently accused of crafting an upside-down pyramid system wherein he paid the former investors with the neophyte’s monies while clearing most of the funds for his personal benefit. I suppose this Ponzi scheme would have functioned as long as there was a continuum of neophyte investors to pay off the former.

This Madoff trickery, sleight of hand, deception, chicanery of the highest order, is exactly the resulting basis of our nation’s social security system, all of the states including the federals entitlement programs, the existing retirement systems distributed by all state employees including the military. The nation’s elected and appointed officials, the in majority, licensed and extensively educated persons, have lead this nation into an economic dysfunction. This dysfunction was in place as a reality way before our current so-called economic debacle; our attorney-judge-licensed elected officials could not or refused to address the issue. They could however vote themselves a pay increase; vote into law a 700B taxpayer financial bailout package; they did find the wherewithal to enlarge the size and expense of governing.

Simply founded on experience I think the nation should pass a law that anyone corrupted by attending law school, passes the BAR, or performing the ‘artful dodger’ means and ways dutiful in the practice of law should be excluded from public office.

My conclusion is that Caroline Kennedy is as ready to be appointed to the Senate as every other licensed attorney. Why not? She surely will do no worst or even if she does worst, so what, she will be in pace with her brethren. And as for Madoff maybe the electorate should put him in charge of Social Security and all entitlements?

How About Chapter 11?

According to Forbes:

Labor cost per hour, wages and benefits for hourly workers.

Ford: $70.51 ($141,020 per year)

GM: $73.26 ($146,520 per year)

Chrysler: $75.86 ($151,720 per year)

Toyota, Honda, Nissan (in U.S.): $48.00 ($96,000 per year)

According to AAUP and IES, the average annual compensation for a college professor in 2006 was $92,973 (average salary nationally of $73,207 + 27% benefits).
 Bottom Line: The average UAW worker with a high school degree earns 57.6% more compensation than the average university professor with a Ph.D., and 52.6% more than the average worker at Toyota, Honda or Nissan.
 Many industry analysts say the Detroit Three, must be on par with Toyota and Honda to survive.  This year’s contract, they say, must be “transformational” in reducing pension and health care costs.
 What would “transformational” mean? One way to think about “transformational” would mean that UAW workers, most with a high school diploma, would have to accept compensation equal to that of the average university professor with a PhD.

Then there’s the “Job Bank” When a D3 (Detroit 3 carmaker) lays an employee off, that employee continues to receive all benefits – medical, retirement, etc., etc., PLUS an hourly wage of $31/hour.
Here’s a typical story….  Ken Pool is making good money. On weekdays, he shows up at 7 a.m. at Ford Motor Co.’s Michigan Truck Plant in Wayne, signs in, and then starts working — on a crossword puzzle.  Pool hates the monotony, but the pay is good: more than $31 an hour, plus benefits.
  “We just go in and play crossword puzzles, watch videos that someone brings in or read the newspaper,” he says. “Otherwise, I just sit.”
 Pool is one of more than 12,000 American autoworkers who, instead of installing windshields or bending sheet metal, spend their days counting the hours in a jobs bank set up by Detroit automakers as demanded by the United Auto Workers Union – UAW – as part of an extraordinary job security agreement. 
Now the D3 wants Joe Taxpayer to pick up this tab in a $25 Billion bailout package.  
The “Big 3” want this money – not to build better autos.   No.   They want it to pay the tab for Medical and Retirement benefits for RETIRED auto workers.

Not ONE PENNY would be used to make them more competitive, or to improve the quality of their cars.  
We ALL have problems paying for our Medical Insurance – now they want us to pay the Medical Insurance premiums of folks who have RETIRED from Ford, GM and Chrysler.

Not a good deal for us.   
How about Chapter 11?

Will The Dragons Retreat?

I Fear My Fears Will Be Justified
Authored by William Robert Barber

The realignment of foreign and domestic policy is currently in the development stage of implementation; the world’s peoples eagerly await the presentation. Academic theories, rhetorical panegyrics as with politically inspired loquaciousness are put aside in favor of the one measurable tangible: Result.  Soon, the standard will be set, the policy will be in place, disagreements will be voiced, sides will be taken and the opposition will be heard.Read More »

What Will Come Out of the Obama Presidency – Change?

Authored by William Robert Barber

Opinions are Nothing BUT Opinions and Everyone Has One

Over the holiday I was engaged with a friend of a friend’s friends wherein the initial subjects of sports, sex, and business was discarded for a robust discussion about the general state of the union.  As we all most probably would acknowledge such a topic discussed in an ad hoc social form has a compelling potential to erode one’s predilection that Homo sapiens are, when compared, with the other members of the animal kingdom, the superior of intellect. These fellows had obvious difficulty with clarity of subject, staying on subject and the common social grace of a shark feeding frenzy.Read More »

The Game of Speculating in the Marketplace

The Natural Course is Up and Down

Authored by:  William Robert Barber

The market; be it equities, commodities, debt instruments, options, or any other tradable tangible or intangible is founded on one premise: A willing buyer matched with a willing seller, commission, tax, and fee obligations aside, the parties have entered a transaction that both believe is fair, equitable, or not; but, clearly to their benefit.

Often the catalyst that prompts market action (a beneficial transaction) is a speculator. This person or entity has discovered a potential positive market possibility and or even a strong probability either in the present or future and has decided to risk capital to gain a position between the willing buyer and seller; or to collaterally gain by participation in the before or aftermath of the transaction. Therefore, by means permissible under the law, this speculator enables a market placed opportunity; this market-action enabling is inherently an at risk of capital endeavor.Read More »