Baseball91's Weblog

May 11, 2010

Using the American Express Card

They were careless people, Tom and Daisy—they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness, or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made. —F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby

If it was not bad enough when taxpayers are liable for the recent $23.7 trillion the Fed and Treasury handed out. Now comes word that the Federal Reserve Bank is participating in the rescue of the Greek government, along with the International Monetary Fund, the Japan Central Bank and the European Central Bank. The New York Times noted today that the sovereign debt crisis came on after an admission that the level of Greek debt was much higher than previously reported, due to bad management. The value of the euro, dropping from US $1.36 on January 21st to US $1.26 by the end of last week, was eroded by the debt issues of Greece, Portugal and Spain.

With the inability of these nations to share a single treasury, tax system or budgetary authority, the euro is largely a concept. A crisis, which centered seemingly on the recognition of the illusion of the currency, when those European countries lacking a coordinated financial backing for the euro, controlled by the independent European Central Bank much like the Federal Reserve, was resolved Sunday on nearly a one trillion dollar rescue fund to deal with the European debt problems.

While Americans argue about offering health care coverage to illegal immigrants, The Federal Reserve Bank was offering more than good words to these European political problems. This news is not going to play well in Peoria.

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January 31, 2010

When Statistics Stole the Show

Filed under: Banking,Business,currency,Current Affairs,TARP — baseball91 @ 7:34 PM
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The “statistical economic recovery, with a human recession.” And so the story in February 2010.

Accumulating cash and highly liquid securities protects banks from the volatility of credit markets and prepares the bankers for stricter liquidity requirements expected from regulators, the chief executive of Wells Fargo noted during the conference call with brokers on Wednesday. Those banks had the rationale to hold back. The real worry is that WHEN INTEREST RISE, and it will happen, rising short-term rates over the life of a loan will eat away the banks’ profits, IF a bank made the loan in the first place.

The real story of the decade was the ongoing off-budget black holes in the budgets. The Iraq War has been one such ongoing black hole responsible for the eroding value of the dollar.

POST SCRIPT: The Federal Reserve would consider, it was announced on February 5, 2010 by William Dudley of the New York Federal Reserve Bank, IF interest rates spiked or the economy showed new weakness, reopening the $1.25 trillion purchase in mortgage-backed securities scheduled to end on March 31, 2010 which has been propping up the economy. Dudley said the time is right to end the program because the economy is growing, and because expanding the purchases would make it harder for the Fed to unwind its support down the road.

The meaning of the puzzle? This one piece of the puzzle suggests more Fed printing is on deck. The Federal Reserve within the first quarter of 2010 would announced that it was extending and expanding its money printing operation to support a failing economic system. As the European Union was wrestling with the economies of Poland, Ireland, Greece, and Spain, the United States was trying to finance wars overseas which have not been part of any reported deficits spending by Washington, along with dealing with the credit derivative scandal.

January 28, 2010

The State of the Union

When credit card companies gave you zero percent rates….giving away product, charging nothing. Now the government is doing the same. For banks,getting zero percent rates so they could keep operating. As the banks were not extending anyone credit.

By Congressional Act, the Federal Reserve was founded in 1913 specifically to combat financial panics, including runs on banks. Since the Fed, when the economy was overheated during the subprime mortgage boom, did not regulate interest rates to dampen the ardor of member banks for mortgages as it could have, Ron Paul was calling for greater Congressional control of this private entity.

When would the banks get hit by the government by the over the limit fees, like those banks charged their customers on their credit cards?

The system….when the affluent paid the least, and the poor paid the most. For free checking accounts. Unless you had less than $800 in your account, and the bank charged you a monthly fee of $12. At banks, or at your dental clinic, it was all the same. The poor were charged the most. Unless you paid Delta Dental who got a special discount, and the rest were left to pick up the slack. At the banks, U S Bank in Minneapolis, the poor were paying for the rich.

And there were no more free toasters. Nor free checking. Ending TCF’s long-time “totally free” checking account, the regional bank TCF Financial Corporation plans to begin charging maintenance fees to customers with checking accounts, CEO Bill Cooper said in a conference call with investors on Thursday. The rationale was prompted by new federal regulations which likely will reduce revenue from overdraft fees.

Milton Friedman’s fundamental flaw was his fixation on the business cycle as expressed by the stock market, rather than looking at the whole economy with its wide range of meta-finance concerns such as agricultural economics, labor economics, population economics, and the economics of war, pollution, and development. The current administration did not seem to recognize the ongoing fundamental flaw. There was little real difference between the Republican and the Democratic leadership, under the influence of the lobbyists who paid both parties.

December 16, 2009

Burning Bright

TIGER, tiger, burning bright
In the forests of the night,
What immortal hand or eye
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?

Twas the night of Thanksgiving and all through his house

Tiger came flying, chased by his spouse.

She wielded a nine iron and wasn’t real merry,

After a bimbo’s cell number was found on a Blackberry.

With a harem, he had cheated on Swede wife Elin,

As each day passed by, another floozie came squealing.

On Holly, on Jaimee, on Rachel, on Cori,

On Joselyn, and Kalika, TMZ had the story.

From the top of the world to above the fold,

Tiger Woood’s sorted tale was told.

With waitresses, VIP Services, there was lots of sex,

And when he wasn’t hosing them, he sent them hot texts.

He crashed his Caddy, but didn’t call OnStar,

Yet he played “spank me daddy” with a skanky old porn star.

He’s been so naughty that with Santa he hadn’t a chance,

Except the big lump of coal that matches the lump in his pants.

But despite all his crying and begging and pleading,

Elin went out and bought a new home in Sweden.

As I heard she’s not pouting, in fact she’s of good cheer,

Because the pre-nup made Christmas come early this year. – STOLEN, AUTHOR UNKNOWN

TIGER, tiger, burning bright
In the forests of the night,
What immortal hand or eye
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?
William Blake

Sports Blogs

December 3, 2009

Those Numbers Concerning Sexting

An Associated Press-MTV poll has found more than a quarter of young people have been involved in some form of sexting — sharing by cell phone or online sexually explicit photos, videos and chat — despite the sometimes grim consequences involving conviction in some states for those who do it, with lifelong registration as a sex offender.

This news story comes this week as I heard Rick Steves do a travel show on public television. He said that the most compelling moment of his piece was when an Iranian woman crossed the street to tell him that she did not want her daughter to grow up to be like Britney Spears. That, Steeves said, was the universal human conflict in the secular world. It was the same conflict which defined American politics.

It was 12 months ago that I wrote this piece. Read it again in light of todays’ Associated Press-MTV poll about sexting.

In the age of abundance, with an abundance of ideas, in the ongoing age of ideology, comes a story about a survey by the Minneapolis-based Search Institute –an organization that foster in “all sectors of society a healthy development and thriving among children and adolescents” –of a group of young people who are “spiritual,” who are not at all religious. A newly released Search Institute survey of 6,853 young people ages 12 to 25 indicates that 55 percent of the respondents are spiritual, not at all religious. Miriam Cameron, a University of Minnesota’s Center for Spirituality & Healing professor, said the results confirm what she has observed in her classes. Nearly one-third of these young people said they don’t trust organized religion.

“Spirituality is bigger than religion,” said co-director of the institute’s Center for Spiritual Development in Childhood and Adolescence, Peter Benson. “One of the things we have to focus now is disentangling spiritual development from religious development.” According to the website, Dr. Benson became Search Institute’s president in 1985. Prior to 1978, he was chair of the psychology department and chair of the program in human development and social relations at Earlham College in Richmond, Indiana. He hold a Masters in the psychology of religion from Yale University. In an age of ideology, I wonder the reason it is, the basis that Yale offers a Master’s program in the psychology of religion, so that years later we can get these survey results. It sounds like Dr. Benson’s focus is funding his own program, and creating a need along the way, with the help of corporate sponsors.

Most students pay tuition to listen, read, and study what the experts have to say. Except those on scholarship. “We’re not paying enough attention to what our kids are saying,” Gene Roehlkepartain, co-director of the institute’s Center for Spiritual Development in Childhood and Adolescence said. “We need to listen more and talk less.” Yeah, Gene Roehlkepartain. Buy you kid another Ipod. You were not supposed to worship your kids, Gene. Why are kids, ages 12 to 25, being asked this nonsense? Your kids might not like taking physics or calculus either. These are the years you are supposed to have passed on a tradition that they had to learn. My 30-month old niece does not like to eat vegetables. Or potatoes. She has to anyway. Yeah Gene! How can we disentangle God and His history, from religious development, from spiritual development? Can we hold class outside?

Nearly one-third of these young people said they don’t trust organized religion. Do they provide locks at their church? What did they lose? Was it another kid or organized religion that stole their cellphone? What else did they not trust? Were any other questions ever asked?

If you ever were looking for an arsonist, you started focusing on 3 factors: Motive. Opportunity. Accelerants. Search Institute mission statement is collaborating with partners (foundations, corporations, schools, communities, faith-based organizations, and other systems) to broaden and deepen commitments, capacity, and effectiveness in fostering healthy development and thriving among children and adolescents.
In this case the Search Institute, Center for Spiritual Development in Childhood and Adolescence who funded the study, hopes to profit from their own survey, based upon their website. This was not exactly the Gallup Poll, where surveyors had disinterest. Search Institute would seem to aim at a secular society, to add to the divison between religions, serving “all sectors of society, including K–12 and higher education, faith communities, youth-serving organizations, social-service organizations, families, businesses, and the public sector.”

According to the news article, “The disconnect between spirituality and religion” was clear in the comments from young people. Drawing a line between spirituality and religion, University of Minnesota senior David Horn said, spirituality ‘doesn’t make distinctions, and religion is all about making distinctions.’” It sounds like the issue once again is relativism. Religion was providing an absolute moral authority. Distinguishing right from wrong. And this did not seem fair.

Or maybe the young, educated in secular schools without any religious training, are ignorant about specific belief, and the history of a belief. Even by the time they get to college and are thought to be the best and the brightest. Serving “all sectors of society,” the survey either shows the need in society for more teaching of theology and philosophy, or the need to encourage ignorance. Most Doctors of Divinity spend time actually studying theology and philosophy before they are allowed to teach and preach.

Speaking as the daughter of a minister, Miriam Cameron said she doesn’t think religions needs to feel threatened by the growth of spirituality. “Not at all. Many of my students equate religion with dogma and spirituality with harmony. Spirituality works well with most religions. The only ones it doesn’t work with are the angry people who say that everyone else’s image of God is wrong. … The spiritual view of God is much more inclusive.” Dr. Cameron’s viewpoint seems to include an American culture bias and fails to see the dimension of spirituality that is fueling the growth of Islamic fundamentalism. From my reading, Islamic dogma was not responsible for the growth of Islamic fundamentalism in Iran, as one example. Dr. Cameron seemingly does not believe there can be anger among those of the New Age “spiritual,” not religious. Dissecting her comment, she mixes apples with people and oranges, when she begins to discuss angry people in the midst of th discussion of spirituality and religions.

Few religious professionals would equate dogma with theology.

One of the things I came away with studying history, was that the human condition remains unchanged. Two hundred years ago there were slaves in this country. Actually in a lot of places. A lot of people never really asked the “why” question. My conclusion is that the basic human condition involves a degree of laziness. There were slaves because landowners were lazy. That laziness, to one degree or another, was still around.

“If that’s the way they really feel,” said the director of youth ministry for the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, Terry Dittmer, said, “it means that we have some serious questions that we need to ask ourselves.” It is the Missouri synod’s fault? Or maybe Mr. Ditmer is looking for a new response in the growing secular world.

Imagine there’s no countries, it isn’t hard to do, nothing to kill for or die for, and no religion too. Mr. Lennon, I don’t have to imagine much any more.

The Center for Spiritual Development concluded its report with a suggestion that the place to start is with conversations, asking young people open-ended questions such as, “What is most important in your life?” and “What does being spiritual mean to you?” I actually would start with the basics. Like asking about God before asking what spiritual meant. Like asking about the Greatest Commandment. Do you know God? Do you want to know God? Do you want to make an academic commitment to study God? You might have to buy a book and actually spend some time.

In other news, according to Josephson Institute, a Los Angeles-based ethics institute, which surveyed 29,760 students over the past year at 100 random high schools nationwide, 30 percent of U.S. high school students have stolen from a store and 64 percent have cheated on a test. That is a lot of stealing. I wonder if this was by the same nearly one-third of the young people who said they don’t trust organized religion.

These surveys give me pause to quote a high school biology teacher: “If ignorance is bliss, ’tis folly to be wise.”

Perhaps those grim consequences involving conviction in some states for those do sexting, with lifelong registration as a sex offender, will call the question as to public policy that keeps some sins subject to public notice to neighbors. Where there is no registration kept on those convicted of homocide.

November 4, 2009

Getting to the Next Party

Filed under: Banking,Current Affairs,euro — baseball91 @ 10:41 PM
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Somewhere in the world the party was still going on? The Roaring Twenties just moved to a new neighborhood, under the brightness of a new sun?

Somewhere in the world the party was still going on? After the Crash of 2008? People living off the labor of the masses. Like the Lost Generation, Hemingway, Fitzgerald, living in Paris. As the Germans paid the French war reparations. In the Weimar Republic, where the currency was delivered by the wheel barrow.

Like on Wall Street and their salaries? Somewhere the party would keep on going on. Like In China. On September 3, 2009, Chris Oliver wrote a piece about the biggest movement in gold which might have gone little noticed by currency traders. The Hong Kong Monetary Authority, which functions as the territory’s unofficial central bank, will transfer its gold reserves stored in other vaults to the depository later this year, and the Hong Kong Mercantile Exchange had signed an agreement to use the depository for its physical settlement and storage needs.

Somewhere in the world the party was still going on? In China. What about the transparency of China? China and corrupt local political war lords, living off the backs of the laborer? The Chinese. A government that limited families to one baby each. To all those advocates of abortion and Planned Parenthood ( not to be confused with family planning decisions), how is that in the way of “choice?” How is that in the way of repression? Would I invest in China? In their currency? China and human rights. How would that be in the way of repression, when I bought into their system?

George Soros. Was it ethical to make $1 billion in one day against the British pound. When the UK, with all of its taxpayers, paid a price. Then the quest of Soros for power through funding the Democrat Party. Warren Buffet. Living off the backs of the laborer? With his growing investment income and value of Berkshire Hathaway. Which was not the same as blue collar hourly wage. These investors who were, who had, reshaped the Democratic Party.

The Democrats who chased away the blue collar worker. The Democrats who chased away the Catholic voter. All to get funding from those Warren Buffet and George Soros-types, reshaping party platform in the name of women’s rights? Or really not much different than in China? With all the transparency of China. China and corrupt local political party bosses, living off the backs of labor? The Chinese family, limited to one baby families. All those advocates of rescuing the free markets, when I bought into their system that allowed the pay scales at Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, at the cost of the new blue collar worker enslaved by the technology of Bill Gates. Where workers were required to have cell phones and Black Berries and pagers. Even on vacation.

Economic collapse, with a falling currency? With little difference between the 2 political parties on issues of labor and economic policy. The only difference was based on “women Issues.”

Somewhere in the world the party was still going on, having just moved to a new neighborhood, under the brightness of a new sun? With the hyper-inflation still to come, should I buy in? In China?


Religion Blogs

October 2, 2009

48 Hours

Letterman Hush money.

The Telegraph had the news of David Letterman’s revelation that he had sexual relationships with female employees of his show. Letterman said after his monologue last night on the air that he had received a demand by an alleged extortionist, according to CBS an employee of “48 Hours,” to either pay $2 million or risk his relationships being made public.

Letterman’s own production company according to the Los Angeles Times, does have a sexual harassment policy in place which does not prohibit sexual relationships between managers and employees, said a spokesman for Worldwide Pants.

After making a living off as a comic over Monica Lewinsky and Eliot Spitzer jokes, Letterman put the spin that the real story was about extortion, and the “threat” to him over his “creepy behavior.” According to Nick Allen of the The Telegraph.co.uk, during the CBS “Late Show with David Letterman,” Letterman revealed earlier that day he appeared before a grand jury about an alleged extortion attempt connected to his sexual liasons with women who worked for him which would clearly involve issues of sexual harassment in his admitted “creepy stuff…relationships.”

The Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau, with a perceived timing orchestrated by Worldwide Pants, held a press conference within 14 hours to announce the specifics, revealing charges brought against CBS News producer Robert “Joe” Halderman.

Worldwide Pants. Caught without their pants on. “We have a written policy in our employee manual that covers harassment. It is circulated to every employee every year. Dave is not in violation of our policy and no one has ever raised a complaint against him.” So said the statement. Letterman’s own production company. Letterman did not believe in sexual harassment? He was an agnostic when it came to sexual harassment? What about the people who did not get the promotions that his staffers got in the Worldwide Pants world?

Thursday CBS said the “48 Hours” employee charged with attempted grand larceny was suspended from his job. Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau in a press conference revealed the charges against CBS News producer Robert “Joe”Halderman. Mr. Halderman has not gotten the same public forum to address the world that Letterman was given about his alleged wrong doing. There also was no word on how CBS was dealing with the issues of sexual harassment, if corporate policy was violated. What a time for those human resource staffers. Apparently CBS feels extortion from an entertainment star was a worse offense than sexual harassment of female staffers, or the collateral damage of sexual harassment.

Fox News New York has reported that according to a search warrant, Robert “Joe” Halderman’s girlfriend Stephanie Birkitt was one of the women that Letterman slept with. According to Fox News New York, Ms. Birkitt is Letterman’s former assistant. Fox News New York has reported that the search warrant states the package Halderman sent Letterman contained copies of parts of Stephanie Birkitt’s diary and correspondence.

Entertainment Tonight showed later featured appearances of Stephanie Birkitt over the years on “Late Show with David Letterman” from venues like the Winter Olympics.

Letterman was quoted on his show as saying: “I was worried for myself. I was worried for my family. I felt menaced by this. And I had to tell them all of the creepy things that I had done.

According to Nick Allen of the The Telegraph.co.uk, “The creepy stuff was that I have had sex with women who work for me on this show.”

Letterman described how three weeks ago he had got in his car early in the morning, found a letter within a package saying: “I know that you do some terrible, terrible things and that I can prove you do some terrible things.” The package contained the proof, Letterman said. He called his lawyer to set up a meeting with the alleged extortionist, with two subsequent meetings, the last one resulting in the delivery of the fake check. Robert “Joe” Halderman allegedly had threatened to write a screenplay and a book about him unless Halderman was given money.

According to Nick Allen, Letterman admitted on Late Night Show Thursday night to having “had sex with women who work with me on this show. My response to that is yes, I have. Would it be embarrassing if it were made public? Yes, it would. Especially for the women.”

According to Nick Allen of the The Telegraph.co.uk, after telling all to his audience Letterman lightened the mood. “I know what you’re saying. I’ll be darned – Dave had sex.”

So it was about hush money? The bizarre experience? The audience had scattered laughter throughout the confession.

Yeah. On with the show.

“It’s been a very bizarre experience. I felt like I needed to protect these people. I need to protect my family. I need to protect myself. Hope to protect my job.”

The bizarre experience! For the audience. An inappropriate place to make the revelation, by a host with an inappropriate sensibility about himself. A repeat offender. Someone who had to be making overtures. But on with the show. Before we gave it all too much thought. One-liners.

It might be a while before the president is going to be booking an appearance again.

Maybe Bill Clinton will show up next week to offer some support. Or guest Host Elliot Spitzer? What a time for those staffers trying to line up guests for next week.

The age of television. Performance enhancement egos and salaries. As people get bigger than the game, over time.

November 15, 2014 Post Script:
dateline NEW YORK – Bill Cosby’s upcoming appearance on CBS’ “Late Show with David Letterman” has been canceled amid a growing uproar over allegations that he sexually assaulted several women in past decades.
 

I originally thought that even five years later, Bill Cosby was showing the high road, refusing to appear with David Letterman over the clear violations of sexual harassment at the Letterman-owned World-Wide Pants Production Company. It had been on Mother’s Day ten years ago that I heard Bill Cosby calling for African-American men to marry the women that they impregnated and to become involved in the lives of their children. With the unusual increase in readership in the past few days of this blog posting, it is worth remembering that the Telegraph story first mentioned that Letterman’s revelation was that he had sexual relationships with female employees — plural — of his show. And what is common in both long-time shows is that the stars had successful production companies, to keep control of their worlds — as Bill Cosby came to own 33 percent of Carsey-Werner Productions, the vanguard independent production company which resisted affiliation with a major network or distributor that continues to hold the rights to the brand name of the show still in world-wide syndication. In the era of free agents, as those show business stars get bigger than the game, in this era of Vigara sponsorship of prime time television, in the era of net neutrality, those production companies have a way of controlling the spotlight; the spotlight however is not on the aging host of late night television but on an older star. Somehow in old age, Cosby has not been able to side-step the criticism of the media that David Letterman had been so apt to do, with the help of the Manhattan District Attorney, on issues not much different than sex trafficking in any form, or in allegations made and proven against Thomas Jefferson.

The ‘reserve clause’ was still around in the new system like at Carsey-Werner. Belief that is spread by behavior. As your belief that you owned your employees was replaced in a world with lost belief, with no “reserve.”

Ironically, this had all started as Cosby solicited from the public their memes. A meme acts as a unit for carrying cultural ideas, like the one described “in order to form a more perfect union.” According to Wikipedia, a meme “becomes a behavior that spreads from person to person within a culture.”

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September 29, 2009

Performance Enhancement After Affects

Tsunami warnings. Times of panic. When the water recedes.

Money-market funds are no longer insured by the US Treasury. When the Reserve Primary Fund share price fell last September a bit below a dollar, the U. S. Treasury stepped in offering protection against losses, to prevent a “run” by money-market depositors. Commercial banks paid premiums for federal deposit insurance for such protection to the federal government which they are required to have. That money-market fund protection continued in the panicked climate of the last 12 months but came to a stop Friday.

On September 3, 2009, Chris Oliver wrote a piece about the biggest movement in gold which might have gone little noticed by currency traders. The Hong Kong Monetary Authority, which functions as the territory’s unofficial central bank, will transfer its gold reserves stored in other vaults to the depository later this year, the Hong Kong government said in a statement. Local newspaper reports said the Hong Kong Mercantile Exchange had signed an agreement to use the depository for its physical settlement and storage needs. According to its International Reserves and Foreign Currency Liquidity statement, the Hong Kong Monetary Authority reported $63 million in physical gold reserves as of July 31, 2009, thought to be stored in London.

A newly built 3,660-square-foot depository, located at the city’s main Chek Lap Kok Airport,will serve as a “storage facility for local and overseas government institutions. The facility would support Hong Kong’s emergence as a Swiss-style trading hub for bullion and would lessen London’s status as a key settlement-and-storage center, Chris Oliver wrote. Marketing efforts will be launched to convince Asian central banks to transfer their gold reserves to the Hong Kong facility, according to Raymond Lai, finance director with the Hong Kong Airport Authority. Managing director at Scotia Capital, Sunil Kashyap, said the facility was the first with official government backing in the region. Martin Hennecke, a financial advisor with the Hong Kong-based Tyche Group, said, “Central banks are increasingly aware of the importance of having gold reserves at time of financial crisis and having it easily available at their own disposal,” and this could be appealing to regional central banks unnerved after watching the global financial system teeter on verge of implosion last year.

Management firm Value Partners planned to launch an exchange-traded gold fund that will use Hong Kong instead of London as a repository for the gold backing the fund, a local newspaper reported. Traders said the new depository facility could foster new financial products, such as exchange-traded funds based on precious metals. “Having a central government-sponsored vault would create a situation where you could conceivably look at Hong Kong as being a hub, where metal could be traded for the region,” said Sunil Kashyap.

China has always shown a respect for the American dollar which comes from the history of the dollar. Now however, a larger interest is growing in China not to fall prey to wide currency fluctuations. Exports which have until now needed a reasonable balance in foreign accounts, a major share made up of the U S dollar. Paul Volcker spoke last night on the Charlie Rose show of the need in China to avoid social tension that is directly linked to currency.

The moves by the Fed last October are now starting to look a lot like a patient weened off steroids. It was not just the American electorate looking at how all the newly minted money was going to be paid for. It was either through tax increases or budget cuts. If the dollar was going to maintain any kind of value.

September 6, 2009

In the Shadows of Those Cloakrooms

Twelve months ago, there was talk of a revolution coming in the financial markets, which was financially supported by the 3500 lobbyists in Washington, for both parties. There was a new form of fascism in those stories at the time. That is if “fascism” was a word about comforts, with government offering instruction how all of us could live easier. With the help of former Goldman Sachs officers in government, government was now deciding, 12 months later, who were saved, which among us were rescued, at least amongst financial institutions. The free market had been replaced.

If the revolution in the financial markets was not enough, how did you feel as Congress was coming back from summer recess, from all the dog and pony shows, to address not the health care crisis but how, with a nation with an aging populace, to pay for health care. At a point in time when government through Medicare had not exactly been covering the cost of new technology in hospitals, was not paying a fair share. Yet health care itself had never been better.

In the debate, there are people who desire government to decide all of the issues of health care. How much to pay medical institutions, when government was not, had not been, reimbursing hospitals the true cost of taking care of patients with Medicare. Government now wanted to mandate the amount of reimbursement for all procedures, and somehow distribute the cost throughout the entire population in the form of premiums. People who thought government was honest seemed to support the concept. Did they know about the 3500 lobbyists in Washington who had been working for more than a generation to make sure the system was not fair? How had these health care reform supporters felt about the bailouts? (In the case of my Congressional Representative, Betty McCollum supported both the bailout and health care reform.)

Like in those financial bailouts, government was now deciding, if Betty McCollum got her way, who would be saved, which among us would be rescued, amongst both health care institutions, and their patients. Suddenly aware that government knew it had the power to print money, increase property taxes in the states, and if the need were come, to confiscate everything, now they would decided every health care procedure. We had yet to hear specifics how Washington would replace those Blue Cross Blue Shield claims people to make the same kind of every day decisions with all the love and care I found when I went to renew my license plate tabs.

The timing was not real good in September 2009, less than 12 months after the revolution in the financial markets. Not when this discussion seemed more like elective surgery. With a lot of swine flu around. I hoped the vote might be postponed for 6 to 12 months. Until the patients had a lot more strength. Until the president had the courage to introduce the specifics of a bill himself, with some accountability, rather than rely on Congress or the 3500 lobbyists in Washington to take the citizens to a health care destination. Congress had not done a very good job dealing with triage in the last crisis, but that might have been due to a president who just wanted to get out of office after creating the mess himself rather than actually lead.

I wonder if somewhere in those August dog and pony shows from New Hampshire to Montana, if the president heard someone ask when he might introduce the actual legislation that might work. If Congress had spent the time to approve his appointment so he had enough staff to work on a bill.

August 9, 2009

In the Wake of the Aquino Death


Cory Aquino died this week.

There had been a revolution in the Philippines after her husband who was the opposition leader had been killed.

In 1972, Ferdinand Marcos declared martial law. No one knew how long it might last. Marcos effectively exiled and deported Benito Aquino, probably the most popular politician in the country. In 1983, following a kidney transplant, with access to the president curtailed by physical health issues, Imelda Marcos and Chief of Staff General Fabian Ver limited access to the president. Imelda Marcos was said to have flown to New York in May 1983 to convey that Benito Aquino would never again set foot on Philippine soil. There was total chaos as no one knew what was happening, and how the Filipinos might regain control of their country.

Benito Aquino swore to return and, in August 1983 he did, amidst the medical and political crisis. Aquino was assassinated on the tarmac of the airport as his plane landed, by one of the aircraft guards. The guard then committed suicide. Though it was widely believed that Imelda Marcos pursued the elimination of the opposition leader, the chief of staff Ver was tried for the assassination and received a not guilty verdict. The day of the verdict, Cory Aquino announced her candidacy for president, as the EDSA ‘People Power’ revolution removed the Marcos dictatorship and restored democracy in the Philippines in 1986.

The majority of the young people in the Philippines today immediately give an adjective of their Congress men and women. Corrupt is the adjective. Filipino history provides the basis for these feelings, for what occurred both before Cory Aqunino’s election and in the history subsequent to her time in office.

The strength of a democracy is judged by the safety extended to journalists pursuing their stories. Th Philippines ranks next to Russia with pursuit of justice when either an opposition leader or a journalist is killed.

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