Sunday, February 22, 2009

Testing FDR's Legacy

Talk is we are in another Great Depression. If that’s the case, we will be testing some of FDR's legacy we have not tested before – or at lease not to the extent we are fixing to test it. That is, if we are in another Great Depression.

The Great Depression tested Capitalism as it has never been tested before. The bread lines, the Hoovervills, the bank failures, the really, really bad PR pics that we can still googly up today, these all attest to the failure of our all American capitalist system in the 1930's. Communism and Fascism rose to try and take it's place, and would have had not capitalism - or at least its war fighting capabilities - proved the better system.

FDR came in and made changes, even bigger changes than today's largest stimulus package – ever. One of these was social security. Seeing seniors citizens who worked all there lives and were passed their productive, wage earning years become wards of the state – homeless in today's jargon – and everyone just knew in their bones, this wasn't right. So, employers and employees paid into a fund from which workers could draw when they got too old to work anymore. No more old farts who had worked all their lives and are now living in the parks and out past the edge of town where nobody wanted to live became a thing of the past. Sure, we still got them, but nothing like it would be if we didn't have social security.

Unemployment insurance, the economists' friend – economists love unemployment payments because when the economy get bad, they go up, and it's the government who pays for it. It's all automatic. Is this not a great country, or what? End a recession, no. Soften a recession, yes. Unemployment insurance is the legacy stimulus plan from FDR, and it will kick in long before any Obama stimulus package hits the streets.

Things like social security and unemployment insurance were put in place, or at least started by the likes of FDR and his Skywalker, LBJ, and now they will be tested like they have never been tested before.

That is if we are in the next Great Depression. If this depression is not as great as its more infamous predecessor, then it's due to the automatic system, FDR legacy, that was put in place some seventy or so years ago.

Just so you know.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Stimulus Package: Diamonds, Timebombs and IED's*

*Improvised exploitive device (No, that's right exploitive not explosive)

With any major economic or social programs, laws, and budgets passed by Congress and signed into law, they are wrought with all manner of unforeseen consequences and hidden agendas. And we shouldn't expect the Stimulus Package to be any different.

What they may be, only time will tell. Notables that jump to mind at this posting is FDR's social security for our seniors. If you worked you will have a retirement was the promise – that is if your Social Security taxes were paid while you worked. Look what the old SS has become. No Baby Boomer that has a good retirement under almost any other retirement system should expect to collect social security if you are not already or about to.

Eventually, leaving Social Security to those who have nothing else may be the only way to keep it going. However, given our current economic situation, many who had thought they had a good retirement in which Social Security was considered supplemental may now be depending on Social Security alone.

I'm not sure if SS is a diamond or a timebomb. For those that have nothing else to fall back, it certainly is a diamond but paying for it is the every present timebomb.

Another example of a diamond buried in the legislature is the college tuition in the GI Bill, another FDR innovation. When the bill was proposed, the presidents of Harvard and Yale spoke against it. They didn't want all those unruly servicemen descending onto their campuses raining all kinds of hell that servicemen are infamous for doing. However, the opposite prove the norm. The ex-GI's had raised all the hell they wanted to raise in the service. They proved to be a moderating and leveling agents in the class and on campus when compared to the typically riotous kids coming from home and whose biggest experience at that time was leaving home.

When the original GI Bill was set up, the home loan portion was thought to be the part that would have the biggest affect on the economy and the lives of ex-GI's, but it was the college tuition that proved to have the biggest impact. One look at the list of Congressmen and judges who used their GI benefits to attend college confirms this.

While any legislation has its unforeseen consequences, it's those of a hidden agendas and IED's that are the worse. Special lobbyists are able to insert their clients' interest into seemedly innocuous passages the power of which only becomes know after the bill has been passed, signed, and implemented. When you have an evenly matched Congress that has trouble passing anything, this becomes double disastrous.

And so now we must wait and see what crops up.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Hamas for that Rocket?

Why doesn't Israel supply Hamas with the rockets they are firing at them? Of course, they wouldn't work, or they would blowup when fired, or even better, they would double back and hit in the area from which they were launched.

If it looks like a good place for an ambush, it usually is.

Since Israel can't seem to affect the supply once Hamas gets the rockets, Israel should supply them with the rockets they want them to use. How many of those double-back rockets would have to occur before Hamas hesitates to use them? If Hamas wants money, give them counterfeit.

Surly that would be better than the current tactic, wholesale attack on Palestinians in Gaza. Israel for all its modernization still has a ways to go in smart bomb technology or at least the use of it. The statistic of thousands of Palestinians for a few hundred Israelis just has an unbalanced ring – and injustice – to it.

I wouldn't like the never-ending threat of rocket attacks interrupting my life, making me take shelter, fearing if my family has done so, but thousands of Palestinians is no pay back. How many Palestinian children died in comparison to the Israeli children who died from rocket attacks? Two wrongs don't make a right.

With a bunch of Americans holding Iraq, I'm in no position to pass judgment, but still, so many dead. If I'm going to support Israel's right to exist and have a homeland, I must give as much support to the Palestinians. A people's right to a secure homeland is nonspecific

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Obama's Blackberry, the Beginning of a New Era

Sometime in the 1950's, letter writing as a form of communication died. Instant communication via telephone was much easier than sitting down to write someone a letter, and rapid transportation made letter writing seem meaningless, anyway. Why write the wife and kids when you can see them the next day. This was especially true for Presidents of the United States and their appointees, assistances, subordinates, lackeys, and hanger-on's.

Historians wept.

Certainly the letters of John and Abigail Adams, Lincoln's letters, those of the Roosevelts and Truman flesh out their histories and humanize them in a way bills and laws and observations and memories cannot. But all that ended in the 1950's.

Yes, we have more reporters' reports, newsreels, and TV footage, but not the ruminations or expressions of those making policy. Somehow it seems like overcooked meat, dry and wanting of natural flavor.

However, that which taketh away also giveth. Technology made letter writing as a form of communication oh so last century, and email and texting makes it cool. Anyone from those doing corporate policy to those trying to organize an outing for the kids has seen communications that are forwarded and amended with comments as consensuses and plans develop and formalize.

Being a student of history, emails offer an opportunity to observe it in the making. I get emails that have been forwarded numerous times. I will scan the previous entries sometime because it is necessary to understand what is going on and sometimes just for the love of history. History is where you find it.

And now Obama has found a way to keep his Blackberry. The instant communication between him and his family, those in his administration, and whoever else is in his list will one day prove invaluable to understanding what is going on now. Knowing the government, it will all be backuped, and thus, preserved for posterity.

A small but significant event at the beginning of 2009. Just so you know.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Dell Hell Number 3 (or is it 4?)

Well I’m back. I’m getting better at this. Didn’t lose anything important. I got almost everything loaded – still got the printer to load but I got my installation on a stick, so should not be to hard – but I got it down to a routine.

The Dell machine starts acting a little funny, getting slower and slower and then one day, Hello blue screen!

It takes about two days to get everything back up and running again. I reload the original installation and everything has to be restarted and reinitialize. Runs great for a while.

And eventually I come over here and make a note of it.

Did I miss anything?