Friday, January 30, 2009

Socialism: Definitions

Liberal definition of Socialism: "We want to share the wealth so that all people's basic needs are met."

Conservative definition of Socialism: "The poor people are gonna steal all their money back!!!"

Thursday, January 22, 2009

This Nice Tree

We look at a few different trees and the daydreams amid their leaves:

Here it is on YouTube with the better aspect ratio.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

But for Plastic Bags

Too much waste and
too much garbage and
too many chemicals
and too much smoke.

Too much coal and
too much petroleum and
too many tons of it
and too much heat.

We try to stop the damage and
we try to make amends quick and
we try to reconsider
and not waste want.

And to bring it home to dinner now
We're using totes for groceries but
to take take out all the garbage I
never have any plastic bags!

Before in the time of my childhood
and my mother's and my grandma's
and the people throughout history
threw their garbage in the slew;

But now I tidy mine in plastic if
to keep the vermin out and also
keep the city cleaner and
improve the trash-man's route.

And what about the city codes and
what about the smell?
Do I buy plastic bags in boxes now and
tote them home as well?

Friday, January 16, 2009

Phase Book

So far I have over a dozen friends on Facebook, but I still don't have a Facebook page. My friends have launched a campaign, it seems, to get me to join. I am getting emails a plenty telling me I have been added as a friend by some very lovely people who indeed, are my friends!

They're charmingly persuasive in their persistence. Months ago I said I didn't want to join because the founder is a neo-conservative. I can only find the one article from the Guardian that tells about this, but I still have the creeping feeling Facebook is insidious.

Mark my words.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Money and the State of California: Consider Nero

Okay, somebody with accounting skill, I have an assignment for you:

1) Please research the salaries of executives and administrators employed by the state of California.

2) Determine the number of salaries over $100,000 a year (do not include benefits, only taxable gross pay).

3) Determine the number of salaries over $250,000 a year (following the same criteria as in item 2 above).

4) Hypothetically "take" $10,000 a year from the employees in item 2 and $20,000 a year from the employees in item 3.

5) Add up the dollar amounts from the "take". Multiply by 3 (as in "we could institute these cuts over a three year period.")

6) Acquire the number amount of the budget deficit faced by the state of California.

7) Compare the sum of the "take" with the deficit.

8) If the sum of the "take" is greater than the deficit, open a savings account for the state, change the hypothetical "take" to a real one, and sock the surplus money away for a rainy day.

9) If the sum of the "take" is less than the deficit, slash $30,000 a year from salaries above $250,000 a year and keep cutting by five-thousands toward $100,000 until the problem is solved.

10) Restructure state spending policies so that expense budgets do not depend on the previous year's spending; state departments should not be forced to spend money unnecessarily just so they can receive the same amount of funding in the following year.

Cutting state services, education and health care should never be considered as options. If Rome is burning, first: take away Nero's fiddle. Next: fight the fire with the biggest hoses.

Friday, January 09, 2009

My Bailout, Please: Magic Monday

The latest word on bailouts is that the porn industry is asking for one, too, to the tune of several billion. This is perfect. This is the reducto ad absurdum we've been waiting for. The oldest profession has something to teach us about business.

I must qualify here: I'm no fan of pornography, but I have to step back and admit a bit of appreciation for the positive aspects of the industry's knack for changing the world it inhabits, starting at the fringes. Take the Polaroid camera, for instance. Photos with no negatives meant all those guys who wanted to take naughty pictures on the sly - could! So the invention, being a hit with them, made it into the mainstream. And of course there is the groundswell of curiosity the industry evoked with regard to this lovely internet we have now.

But porno is without substance; it's all thrill with no sense of responsibility - compare it to economics and it is the heart of spending with no real money to back up the purchases.

Without a bailout, I don't believe the industry will go under, though doubtless it will go down. As with any industry, pornography has tangentials. While no one will truly suffer for the lack of titillating images, people do suffer when they lose their jobs - writers, graphic designers, photographers, models, prostitutes, printers, publishers, clerks, accountants, restaurants, grocery and drug stores in the area of the business offices and studios, FedEx, Ross Dress for Less - as the industry falters, everyone is touched. Every type of employee who would be effected by the dissolution of the big three US automakers would be equally disturbed by the dissemination of the porn industry.

But that's the thing: nobody can afford the economy falling apart. You can't. I can't. Everybody needs a bailout, but it seems only big industries are being considered. If Wall Street and US automakers are off the hook for their debts, then why do I still have to pay off my credit cards?

I say we rescue everybody! Let's just go all the way! Here's my plan:

Say, this coming Monday, within the space of an hour, all bets are off. Each individual citizen of the US who earns under $250,000 a year - poof! - credit card and student loan debts are gone. This magical event would come unannounced and would last just enough time to zero out all the accounts. Don't imagine it would take that long - it wouldn't. And don't buy it when the creditors say they'll need weeks to carry out the mission, that's just a trick to cahoot with the lawyers for workarounds. One hour: balances zero. One button. All debts go to zero.

Then, say, Tuesday, everyone who had credit zeroed out gets a free credit card with a 20% APR right there in the mail. No application, no fee, innocuous and plastic. This leads us into Fresh New Wednesday. After recovering from this stunning good fortune, most people will follow this train of thought: "I pay $300 a month on my card. I have a zero balance credit card. I can go buy a six hundred dollar thing!" They'll head out shopping and run those cards right back up. Goods and services will spike, the economy will boom, commerce will sing, interest money will flood the banks, everyone will get to play the money game again.

Within a few months, most people will be where they were the Sunday before Magic Monday, (reference the result of the business of the oldest profession) but the true lesson underscored by the proffers of the oldest profession is that unless you're smart enough to quit while you're ahead, cheap and easy can cost you.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Happy New Year

It is not 2008 as of midnight last night.
It is 2009.
A clock click, swift shift adjusting January brings
The year of the human in better accord with its world,
as we all promised
and swore, even!

Happy New Year!