Friday, December 3, 2010

Crazy News For a Crazy World

I meant to do a post last night but an extreme level of exhaustion prevented me from finishing it. So I scraped it and decided that since I haven't posted in a few days I would make two posts, one dealing with news and issues and one dispensing most awesome wisdom.

News first, which as always is mostly bad. The government's monthly job report came out today and told us two things: 1) 39,000 new jobs were created in November, which fell short of the predicted 170,000 and 2) that short fall has pushed the unemployment rate up to 9.8 percent. Now I bring this up because it's mostly a joke. Many people have estimated that the jobless rate is somewhere in the mid to high teens and that this number hovering at 9 percent is manipulated because the government only counts unemployed people who are still looking for jobs. Those who have stopped looking because they've given up hope aren't entered into the equation.

The President's deficit commission failed to reach an agreement on their proposed spending cuts and tax increases. They voted 11-7 in favor of a variety of measures. Now the thing to understand is that this commission wasn't making any official policy, they weren't writing any laws and no matter what they said people would still have the option of ignoring them. And they still couldn't come to an agreement on how to reduce the deficit. Par for the course in Washington.

Of course these are the same people who have failed to realize that it is actually impossible to pay off our national debt because of how high it is. The fact that they were trying is commendable but the fact that they couldn't get their shit together and come up with a recommendation shows that the road to Hell really is paved with good intentions. But I'm not going to rag on the commission too much, since they were already taking heat from the Democrats and the Republicans when they read some of the ideas they came up with, so it isn't like anyone would have agreed with them anyway.

Meanwhile, the main story on Capitol Hill is that the Republicans are refusing to work on any legislature during the lame duck session until the new fiscal budget has been sorted out and the expiration of the Bush tax cuts are addressed. Personally, I couldn't be happier about this, because it means it will take them longer before they fuck something up and the always fuck something up when they're making "progress". Of course the fear is that, since the fiscal budget was supposed to have been passed in early November, the government might shut down.

To me, that would be like Christmas coming early. After all, even if the federal government grinds to a halt, state, county and city governments won't because they have their own budgets (with budget problems) that they work with. So it's not like the cops, firemen and paramedics won't show up if you call 911. The courts won't close up their doors if you have business there. Life will go on, except for the feds. Personally I would love to see the TSA shuttered for awhile.

It's a nice dream.

Parents! Hope you like not having bake sales for your kids' schools! Thanks to the efforts of the First Lady, who decided to make childhood obesity her crusade of choice, a bill is going to her husband's desk that will limit bake sales. This actually pisses me off, because it's another example of how the Federal government is trying to reach it's hand into every aspect of American life. Of course, short of eliminating every fast food place in the country and banning the sale of anything that comes in a box and can be cooked in a microwave, fighting the "bad" foods that are murdering our children is almost impossible. However, since the cafeteria at school is a government entity, they can still reach out there.

I hope that this won't stop communities from holding bake sales and other events to raise money by selling food. The law seems to limit these sales on school property, so it would be excellent if they found ways around it by holding bake sales for school events somewhere else. I imagine some local churches or community centers would be willing to donate some space for an afternoon for this purpose. When I was a senior in high school, we bought big boxes of candy bars, M&Ms and skittles and sold them for a dollar each to anyone willing to buy (students included) to raise money for our prom tickets. Ah well, the times they are a changin'. Speaking of which...

Did you hear about the Fed?

If you haven't watched this video, watch it. If you have watched it, watch it again. In fact, if you haven't watched it, stop reading right now and watch it so you'll understand what comes next. In an interview on 60 Minutes, Ben Bernanke, the Chairman of the Federal Reserve stated that he is not ruling out buying more bonds, after the Fed already bought 600 billion dollars worth of bonds. Dark times ahead for everyone as it is, even worse if they buy more bonds.

In the book "7 Habits of Highly Effective People", there is a section that talks about your circle of influence and your circle of concern. Your circle of influence is all of the things in your life that you have direct control over, while your circle of concern is the things that you worry about. The idea is that you need to eliminate things in your circle of concern that are outside of your circle of influence.

Be aware of what's going on in the world. Fretting over what the Fed will do or what Congress will do isn't something you can influence. However, when you're informed about what problems may be coming over the horizon, you can take stock of your personal situation and decide what aspects of your life that you hold direct influence over can be changed to minimize the damage from the problems that are coming.

To put it another way, if you know a hurricane is coming ahead of time, you can leave before it hits you. But if you never watch the weather channel, never open the newspaper and never venture out to see what everyone else is doing or why they're all suddenly leaving, you'll get slammed by the storm and swept away.

Peace be with you.

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