Is the Political Pot Calling the Kettle “Black”?

About a month ago, I wrote a response to an editorial piece for my local newspaper.  It wasn’t published there, so I convinced the author of this blog to post it here for all the world to see.  Obviously, I didn’t take much convincing considering I’ve in away for the better part of the month.  Still, with my average of one to two posts a month, it’s probably about time that I put something up again.  I am legitimately trying do publish more often.  I suffered the same sort hiatus from blogging as did my Tucson counterpart (and I use that term loosely, he is far more prolific than I).  I’ve tried to revamp the direction of the blog, and each time I settle into the same routine of churning out a post a month.  At least I’m consistent.  At this point,  I still have visions of sugar plums and a more focused topicality to the content here.  The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.  Thanks Lao Tzu.  I’m moving forward here, if only by a step.

So what I have below my response to a satirical editorial by Will Durst.  Mr. Durst is self-proclaimed as America’s Top Political Satirist.  In late-August, he wrote an article, “Mister Muzzle and Nuzzle.”  You can find it here (scroll down to August, 27, 2011).  It’s a great article – very sarcastic.  On a whim I penned a reply in the same style.  It’s not quite my style, but I enjoyed the opportunity to step out of my literary skin and try a response in the same manner.

Now technically I wrote this reply in August – so this today is only a quasi September post.  Will there be another?  Stay tuned.

In response to “Mister Muzzle and Nuzzle” by Will Durst

Mr. Durst’s laugh-and-bash editorial of Rick Perry’s Texas-style entry into the GOP presidential race largely ignores the reality; even a generic-flavored Republican from the candidate buffet is a more palatable alternative than Obama’s medicine.  I didn’t care for Obama’s healthcare pill, and I didn’t care for the elixir of injecting greenbacks into Wall Street.  Last I checked, America is still hooked up to an I.V. monitored by S&P and Moodys.  And if those monitoring stations indicate anything other than a clean bill of health, the Feds launch an investigation.  At least Biden will celebrate the boost in payroll numbers.

Let’s face it, America is waking from its Obama fairytale with a huge hangover.  This isn’t like quite the Cinderella story topped with sugarplums and happily ever after endings that we envisioned – not when nearly 1 in 10 can’t get a job.  Apparently census workers are seasonal positions.  Check back in ten years Detroit.  Unbeknownst to Obama, most of America can’t take weeklong vacations every month or afford to have working wives make celebrity appearances on Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.  But hey, every job has its perks.  I get my jollies after I punch out at after work, sit down and watch stocks jump like yo-yos.  What a rush; my net worth jumps around more than Tigger on a pogo-stick.   Talk about entertainment.  Do we still need another four years of Obama in his Washington bubble?

Who cares about numbers though– Social Security isn’t a Ponzi-scheme.  I’m glad Big Government will be there to support me.  Thanks Obama.  I like spending money too.  Let’s do that cash for clunkers thing again.  Yeah, I know the program cost taxpayers about $24,000 for the $4,000 I saved on my new Kia Rio.  And yeah, it’s a foreign car.  So what?  The new Chevrolet Equinox our Labor Secretary drives around Washington in was assembled in Canada.  At least it feels good driving a Chevy.  Looks good in photo shoots too.

Remember those trillions we pumped into the economy?  And those bailouts?  Thank God for those new jobs.  Like $500,000 equals one job?  That’s a Black Friday deal if I ever saw one.  But math wasn’t my strong suit, so I guess me and Washington have one thing in common.  But hey, we can build more industrial plants in Singapore; they need work too.  It’s the cost of doing business.  And that Nobel Peace Prize is looking mighty fine.  Whoops.  I forgot about those wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya.  Wait.  Not Libya.  “Kinetic Military Action.” How’s that for linguistic jujitsu?

Let’s not be too hard on Obama.  He has a country to run.  Without his clairvoyant government intervention into nearly every. single. aspect. of our lives, private markets would surely collapse.  Re-election takes front and center too.  Move over Bachmann, Perry, Romney, Cain, Paul, America – Obama has a bunch more goodies coming.  I don’t think I sent my thank you card for the last Christmas present.  You know, that whale of a healthcare bill Obama-Santa gave us all on Christmas Eve, 2009.  It’s the gift that keeps on giving.  Won’t forget that one anytime soon, no sir-ree.  I’m totally looking forward to my upgraded MVD-style doctor office visits.  Where’s my Medicare card?

What other dollops have me salivating this year?  Oh, oh – immigration reform!  Yeah!  That’ll seal up this Hispanic vote.  Don’t touch Social Security or Medicare.  Takes care of elderly.  Drop “G-d” around enough and pick up some of those crazy Christian southern folk too.  Hmm. Why do so many conservatives want to run against Obama?  Can’t they tell Obama offers something for everyone?  Just leave the milk and cookies on the counter.

Mental Fortitude in the Early Morning

Today the sun rose at 5:52AM this morning and I’m proud to say that I was up – well up before then.  Back in the day, which technically isn’t incredibly far removed – I would be running already – maybe have even completed a good portion of ten miles.  It was an incredible feeling when one could start and finish the workout before the the sun appeared over the mountains.  For me, I had already accomplished something – a workout, part of my training routine during the cross country or track season.

Yet it required a great deal of mental fortitude.

I’m not sure that that waking up early ever comes easily – with or without coffee.  It’s almost as if the heavy presence of tryptophan in the air continually pulls down on my eyelids until I wake up at the same time as of the sun.  Maybe this is as life should be.  In heaven.

But again, I’ve reverted to my early bird discipline – not with running in the morning (I’m only disciplined enough to work out in the evening), but with attempting to seize the day – err morning.  (How many of these blog posts are actually *written* in the morning?  Few).  In following with my last post, the morning time helps to re-evaluate and formulate my objectives in the short term.  I know, impromptu habit/discipline sounds like a New Years Resolution – which, in that case, it’s either overdue or premature.

I wonder how much Congress could accomplish by grabbing a cup of joe and hashing out the details of cutting a trillion dollars from the budget in the disjointed raucous of a heavily trafficked coffee shop in downtown D.C.  (or Phoenix) in the early morning.  My guess is that they may be able to accomplish more here than behind closed doors.  Sarcasm aside, I think the larger sentiment reflected by the myself and portion of the nation is that we are less than optimistic over any budget deals.

With the election battle lines being drawn, the economics the debt ceiling and sequelae  will be pushed back until at least December where a vote isn’t required until just before Christmas.

Until then, we can only hope that our government will possess the mental fortitude needed to place the nation ahead of politics.  And that’s a venti hope.

Setting the Stage for 2012

Say what you want for 2010, but it seems as if the battle lines for the 2012 presidential election were drawn in the sand this December. What are these issues? The forefront of the election will center on the economy. It’s not quite surprising is it? After all, since 2008, “we” – Congress that is – bailed out banks, car manufacturers and it was even proposed that the pornography industry could benefit from this economic “stimulus.” As if.

Even while economists claim a glimmer of hope exists for the coming year, this reassurance is hardly comforting given that 2010 has been so dismal. Housing prices have stagnated, and no one seems quite sure if they have bottomed out. It’s just as difficult to read the tea leaves of applications for unemployment benefits. Still we try. Even the television stations try to spin the news to make it palatable to the American public. The problem, of course, is the reality of the situation. The mirage of future economic prosperity being right around the corner does little to placate the family whose house is underwater and the homeowner who has become recently laid off.

One of our greatest problems is our fundamental failure to understand that we are far more than a stone’s throw away from our economic solution. For the past two years, we’ve tried putting on band-aids to plug the aortic rupture of our financial problems. In doing so, our congressional leaders have used neither a scalpel nor a hatchet to operate on the economy. Rather, we’ve treated the symptoms but failed to address the cause. How have we treated the symptoms? Predominately though stimulus and bailouts.

If we use a band-aid when stitches are required, we jeopardize exacerbating the condition. Unfortunately, this is the case. The federal deficit is larger now than at any time in American history – the last two years have added more to it than any other administration, Washington through Regan, combined.

Taxes, too, form part and parcel of the economy. Too high, taxes retard growth and depress the economy. Too low, the government cannot provide for the safety and welfare of its citizens. The Bush-era tax breaks, of course, were only extended for two more years and will lapse shortly after the next presidential election absent congressional intervention. For many Americans, this issue will remain dormant for the next twelve months until 2010 when the gears of political machinery will place this in contention.

So what of 2011? If past is prelude, 2011 won’t be greatly different from 2010. Certain those on Capitol Hill will continue to suggest that recovery is nigh, but I suppose that isn’t any different from the past twelve months. It’s not that I’m pessimistic, but I’m not quite even guardedly optimistic. Until our leaders decide to take more aggressive steps to address federal spending and the deficit, I expect the band-aid to stay on another year.

Americans: The Overcomers

It strikes as both frightening and eerily fascinating how many individuals live one paycheck away from financial oblivion. I see it nearly every day. Resilient but shaken are most clients that walk through the tinted glass doors at the personal injury law firm where I work.

Many are blue-collar, state-dependent individuals that manage to stay afloat financially – but just barely. A substantial number have no formal education beyond high school. Some are secretaries, medical assistants, and waitresses. Others are unemployed, or illegal. Still a few are drug dealers, drug abusers or homeless. Regardless of one’s background, these are our clients, and we treat them just as we would the upper and middle class folk; we have those clients too (though few and far between).

For being one accident away from fiscal ruin, these clients do survive. For example, Sally (a pseudonym) was rear ended when an F-250 barreling down at thirty miles an hour failed to stop. The impact totaled her 1997 Oldsmobile Alero. Sally did not have insurance on her car; it lapsed because she needed to pay rent – not that it mattered anyway since originally she only possessed state-minimal liability coverage. It’s frightening really. Sally has no other vehicle and the defendant insurance company in this case will take three weeks to accept responsibility for the accident. Her boss will fire Sally if she does not arrive at work on time. Besides her injuries, transportation is her main issue.

Sally represents the majority of our clients. Clients like her live paycheck to paycheck with little to no rainy-day savings. One auto accident potentially cripples them. Here, Sally manages to bum rides, take the bus, bike and think of other temporary ways to plan for the next day. I cannot commend her lack of financial planning, but I am fascinated with how clients like Sally manage to survive. Without fail, the hardships they endure because of an accident are overcome. I’m not sure how they do it, but they do.

As of late, I can’t help but think this is the American way, for better or worse. With the depressed economy, underwater mortgages, unemployment near ten percent and more debt in dollars than stars in the sky, I often wonder what the future holds for this country. Somewhere along the way, Americans have failed to grasp the basic principles of sound financial planning. “Saving for a rainy day” takes a back seat to “buy now, pay later.” When that rainy day arrives, Americans struggle not to drown.

I don’t mean to criticize or demean those that are barely making ends meet. Just the opposite, even those hanging by a thread manage to press onward; this is commendable. Nonetheless, proper planning is always an acceptable trump card to play. While we can overcome accidents and terrorist attacks man-made disasters, we also need to be prudent in planning for the unanticipated. Baby steps like saving a portion of one’s paycheck in a bank can offset many of the financial disasters that inevitably occur. Though it is important to help clients like Sally, it is equally important to teach those like Sally the methods to adequate prepare for life’s interruptions.

Arizona’s Budget Deficit: More Cuts to State Programs

Lest ExDeserto drift into blog heaven, I am pleased to finally post this month. At least I can check the box for “September Postings” even though it is a meager meal for voracious readers.

Earlier this morning, I am across this article on the Arizona budget deficit. Arizona is now in $850 million dollar deficit. That’s the good news because the next year, it gets worse with the projected budget next year at $1.4 billion dollars. I have stated before that raising taxes is not the appropriate response to this budget crisis.

Reliance on state funded programs – particularly on non-essential services – creates a welfare state. It’s not uncommon to confuse the non-essential with the essential. Without a doubt, government is needed to police its citizens and maintain stability. When it grows beyond those confines, it risks creating unsustainable benefits or committing superfluous expenditures, even if it is well-intentioned.

To cut this deficit, certain programs will be reduced. To a certain extent, this is unfortunate because corporately, Arizona citizens have become accustomed to certain benefits. Still, while budget and service cuts are inevitable, these cuts will hopefully stimulate the private sector to profitably operate a previously subsidized operation.

So where are we looking to trim these costs? The state-funded universities are not out of the clear yet. In fact, they are probably among the first on the chopping block – rightfully so too. Over-funding public education risks watering down the quality of education. It’s the same problem with socialized medicine.

Speaking of health care: the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System (AHCCCS) – the state and federally funded health care program – will receive its share of benefit reductions too. These are not easy cuts, especially with healthcare. Nonetheless, a time existed when these programs did not exist, yet we managed; and we will continue to do so.

Recession Slows Almost Everything: Even Marriage

As an array us U.S. Census data comes to light today, some of the findings are bleak: more people are unmarried now than ever before. While this may come as good news for seeking suitors, it appears they are in the minority.

The data suggests that Americans are delaying marriage for the sake of pursing higher education or due to lack of financial independence.

With people struggling to find work in this economy, the wait is understandable.

The full article can be read here.

On the bright side, 76% of those who have ever been married have married just once.

See here.

Paid Subscriptions to Online News?

Bad idea.

“We intend to charge for all our news websites,” Mr Murdoch said.

“If we’re successful, we’ll be followed by all media,” he added, predicting “significant revenues” from charging for differentiated news online.

He warned that “the big competition will be coming from the BBC,” which offers online news for free, but said: “Our policy is to win.”


There is a great article in the Atlantic that questions the wisdom of such a move.

I do too.

News articles are ubiquitous. Google News gives instant access to hundreds if not thousands of articles on a particular subject at a moment’s notice. To practically absolute certainty, I would not pay to subscribe for news content that I can obtain just as easily for free.

Does Murdoch’s move strike anyone as a good idea? Maybe if you own BBC.

Monsieur Deficit and Economic Stimulus


Maria Antoinette’s life with Louis XVI was marked with frivolousness and extravagance; it was also attributed as a factor bringing France to the throes of financial disaster. Fair or not, she became known as Madame Déficit and was publicly beheaded at age 38.

Life expectancy has grown since 1793, if only for lack of guillotine usage. No matter the economic condition of the nation, I doubt beheading will be reinstated. So, here’s to you, Mr. Obama – Happy 48th – and ten years longer than Mrs. Antoinette.

To celebrate, it may be sweet to reflect upon (or revel in) McCain’s concession: “the stimulus has had some effect.” Perhaps that’s the icing?

But as shortsighted and forgetful as Americans can sometimes be, sometimes the obvious needs to be stated: pumping trillions of dollars into the economy will affect it. Pumping trillions of dollars into *anything* will do *something*.

The ultimate question remains: what is the long term impact of these decisions? Let’s be real – contrary to what some politicians might imply – money does not grow on trees. And while printing new money does seem fun (“Look ma’ – a crisp dollar!”), it’s no fun when the negative effects are felt years down the road by the next generation.

Let’s consider the short term impact. Jobs will be created. People will spend. The Cash for Clunker system aptly exemplifies this (“Look ma’ – car dealerships are making great money again! We’re saved!”). But unless lasting, long-term changes are made, we’ll end up right where we started (“Ma, the Cash for Clunker system ran out of money! Ford needs help). No doubt, Ford needs help. Giving them money without addressing the problem leads to failure. C’mon folks – you don’t need to read tarot cards to figure this out.

In a more drastic, albeit tangible example, Oregon invested an additional $176 million into the state to create over three thousand new jobs. The catch: these jobs lasted a week. I’m not here to debate the finer points painted by the Obama administration. Whether the jobs “created or saved” last a week or a year is largely irrelevant. My point is this:

Present artificiality does not equate future reality; but future reality will reflect the consequences of short term stimulus.

Someone, somewhere down the road, will pay for the trillions we are spending today (“Ma, am *I* going to pay for this?”). Future generations will feel the reverberations: higher interest rates, inflation, less available tax revenue, and a declining American dollar.

But we can worry about those problems another day; today is a celebratory time, right? I’m waiting for the announcement, “qu’ils mangent de la brioche.”

A Perfect Anecdote in Support of Limited Government

Apparently, some “stimulus” money has gone to support the production of underground pornography. In the name of “art,” of course.

According to Foxnews.com, stimulus grants to San Francisco are funding “nude simulated-sex dances, Saturday night ‘pervert’ revues and the airing of pornographic horror films at art houses in San Francisco.”

Among the National Endowment for the Arts’ $80 million in stimulus disbursements are more than a few (beyond) questionable ones, including $50,000 for the Frameline film house, “which recently screened Thundercrack, ‘the world’s only underground kinky art porno horror film, complete with four men, three women and a gorilla,'” according to Fox.

Undoubtedly, there are more than a few other absurd awards in the NEA’s pot. Why? Well, the people in charge of these programs believe that “pervert revues” are worth your tax dollars, and Congress was too busy in February to read the stimulus bill or to place meaningful controls over its execution.

At the time, President Obama said, “We can’t afford to make perfect the enemy of the absolutely necessary.” Of course, many Americans may wonder why spending $80 million on a kinky art porno horror film is “absolutely necessary” to jump-starting the economy.

An employee of the San Francisco arts council told Fox that these expenditures, such as the thousands that went to the The Symmetry Project, a show featuring “the sharing of a central axis, spine, mouth, genitals, face, and anus reveal their interconnectedness and centrality in embodied experience,” will play a critical role in our economic recovery.

These absurdities might be funny, except that they’re true–and paid for with our tax dollars.

Because the Recovery Act spent most of your money in absurd ways such as this, Obama’s popularity is falling. Perhaps if he were actually committed to transperancy or job-creating stimulus, such as an across-the-board corporate tax cut, he wouldn’t have to look at the polls every night and wonder what he could have done differently.