Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Guest Blogger: Snapshot

Take a look at your life and where you are now. Ask yourself a few questions, but do so by flashing back.
15 Years ago: If you are like me, you are sneaking booze from your parent liquor cabinet. You have long hair and think you have it all figured out. You probably aren't screwing anyone, but it occupies your time to think about who you could screw, and what that would mean to your life. Bill Clinton is probably getting blown by some unknown, but you don't care because politics are a million miles away and something you hear your parents discuss in passing. Your only thoughts are that the friends you have now will be there forever. You know someone who has smoked weed, but you haven't got there yet, but are excited at the chance. You dream of the day you will be free, because only then will you be so sheik.
10 years ago: Are you still drinking the same think you drank then? Probably not, because you were drinking schnapps and thought you had it all figured out. The friends you run around with are going to be your friends forever. You smoke pot on the weekends, because its the thing to do and you are so sheik. Bill Clinton is still getting his dick sucked, but now you care because it occupies the media and you think you should have some idea of what is going on, because you will be voting soon. You are screwing someone, but you will not be screwing them for long, because you are on the move. Life is your oyster, and you crack that sucker in half and have your way with it, because that it what is going on. You drop acid and figure out what life is all about, but forget, because you didn't bother to write it down. You are still smoking the same cigarettes you smoked 5 years ago, but now you have friends that buy them for you because you are oh-so-close to being able to buy them yourself. You get drunk when you can, and nothing else matters, because you are the king of the world. You skip school because you have figured out its a joke, and what can they tell you that you haven't already figured out for yourself anyways?
5 years ago: College is as big a joke as high school, but you found new drugs, made new friends and think to yourself, "The 18 year old me would kick the crap out of the 23 year old me." You take comfort in knowing that you know it all, but you are still occasionally screwing the same person you were 5 years ago, even though you know you are both shadows of what you stood for. Life is your oyster, and your pry it open gently, because you don't want to shatter it. You think of your friends from 10 years ago, and most of them are gone. The ones that are left know you, and know you are only lying to yourself. Your friends of 5 years ago are mostly there, but unfortunately you have tragically lost a couple of them. You would give it all to have 10 minutes with them again, but only in your dreams does it happen. You are still smoking the same crappy pot, but its not enough to get you off. You bury your nose in a pile of whatever pill it is you crushed, because you are so sheik. You have voted and learned that democracy is pretty much a joke, and the popularity contest that you were not interested in 5 years ago has come back to haunt you. You have someone new in your eye and she is the one, or at least a possible one, but you dont concern yourself with that, because the subject at hand is to stay sane. You still smoke the cigarettes you smoke 10 years ago, but now you hide it only from no one, and are glad the world knows you care only enough to know that you shouldn't care.
Today: You are still smoking those god damned cigarettes, because they take you back. You have given up snorting drugs, but still consume them because it takes you back. The person you were thinks about the person you used to screw and questions what you were thinking. The friends you have now really will be with you until the end, but you wonder if they have the same thoughts. Politics is important, because you dont want to loose any more friends unnecessarily. Instead of crappy pot, you smoke kill, and at the same time think, "It didn't used to be like this." You have given up on acid, because the thought of being awake for that many hours wears you out. You occasionally run into old acquaintances and think, "Were we really friends?" To say your life has been a blur would be untruthful, because the important parts ring through loud and clear. The friend(s) you lost haunt you in your dream, and you start to question, "what if". What if is never answered though, so you post this to a blog and hope for the best. Now when you drink, you know your limits, but still go to far, because that is so sheik. Work sucks, but it pays the bills, and thats what its all about. You think 5 years down the road and realize, "It may blow, but those friends will still be there." You pray this isn't your last cigarette or drunken rant.
The point: You tell me...thanks for those who are still there, and lets smoke a bowl of that old crappy pot. For those who aren't, this is for you, with eternal love and hopes that damnation is a thought only for the living.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Re: CNN - Bush wants OK to spend $700B

Bush wants OK to spend $700B (http://money.cnn.com/2008/09/20/news/economy/bailout_proposal/?postversion=2008092012)

Aside from being generally disgusted all around by this plan, I wanted to address the fundamentals of the plan and give my reasoning for why it is a bad idea and will not work. Also, I'm sure I'm going to oversimplify this a bit. I feel that is what needs to happen so people can understand what is going on and form an opinion on the issue.
"President Bush has asked Congress for the authority to spend as much as $700 billion to purchase troubled mortgage assets and contain the financial crisis."
So, in idiot terms; our government wants to buy risky assets from risk taking institutions to "stabilize" those institutions which would allow them to get back to operating as normal (should they be?). The question is, how will this help you and the distressed home owners? I mean...surely your representatives are looking out for your best interests, right?

Well, the administration feels that by letting these banks get back to business as usual, we will avoid a recession or depression. This obviously ignores value of U.S. currency, and the formerly stated importance of the housing economy. What I mean is that, years ago, the "ownership society" created by easy credit was touted for much of the strength of the U.S. economy. That's all gone now, so where does that leave the U.S. economy? Hmmmmm. More obvious is the fact that creating $700B from thin air is going to cost someone. That someone is all of us living in the U.S.

Next, many of you who have been following this crisis-in-slow-motion may remember when folks first started talking about how the housing issue was "contained." One of my favorite financial analysts said at the time, "Yes, contained to earth." Since then three of the five largest U.S. investment banks have gone the way of the dinosaur. Thus, I'll have a hard time believing this master plan will be the one that seals the deal.

Lastly...$700B. That's a big number most people can't grasp. So I want to put it in perspective. First we should tack on the other billions for Bear Sterns, AIG, liquidity, etc. Just for fun, we'll skip that part. If we take $700B and divide it by the number of citizens in the U.S., we get $2293. So...that's your share. That's your wife or husband's share. That is your children's share. Share of what exactly? Troubled mortgages. Once again, this is a classic example of fighting the symptoms rather than the causes. The cause is that people cannot afford their homes, so...the government's solution to fix the visible symptom is to simply buy those un-payable mortgages so that banks can keep doing business as usual.

As an aside, I feel it would be better to let those risk taking banks fail - to cleanse the system of the risk takers. It would also be better to let those souls who can't afford their homes to leave them. This would allow the home values to reset to reasonable levels. The reason I advocate this painful serum is because that is what is going to happen anyway. Well, maybe not the banks part. The point is, our economy still sucks, those people who cannot afford their homes now will not suddenly be able to afford them after this plan is implemented. Simply, the at risk mortgages that the govt is buying will most likely fail. (Remember that is why these banks are failing!) Nevertheless, the home owners will most likely still lose their homes. The difference under this plan is that when the mortgages fail, the government will be the bag holder rather than the investment houses who took inappropriate risks. Hmmmmmm. I would much rather have seen $700B contributed towards infrastructure, jobs, or perhaps a program that would let people refinance their home loans at fixed rates or let them leave their homes and get a new loan - for a reasonably priced house - at a fixed rate. Surely that would be better than a blanket bank bailout.
"The legislative proposal - the centerpiece of what would be the most sweeping economic intervention by the government since the Great Depression"
Remember, the government keeps telling us everything is fine, that the economy is fine. Every emergency step they've taken thus far was supposed to fix the "isolated" problem. "most sweeping...intervention...since the Great Depression." Does that sound like everything is OK, or will be soon?
"officials have said in recent days that the lack of easy credit between banks and other financial institutions threatens to inflict serious damage on the economy if not addressed immediately."
Wait...I though easy credit created this problem? So...more easy credit will fix it? Hmmmmm.
"The aim is for the government to buy the securities at a discount, hold onto them and then sell them for a profit."
We're not talking about holding onto baseball cards here. Again, I reiterate that I'm not sure how this will happen if folks still can't pay their mortgages. If any of you have ever loaned money on a wide scale, you will know that it doesn't take too many defaults to start eating into the principal you originally loaned. The cause is the inability of the people to pay their mortgages, the symptom is failing banks. We are fighting symptoms.

"The administration's proposal also requests that Congress authorize an increase to the nation's debt ceiling. Currently, it's set to rise to $10.6 trillion for fiscal year 2009 - which runs from October 2008 through September 2009. But the proposal requests that limit be increased to $11.315 trillion to allow for the purchases of mortgage-backed assets."
Now this is something I can sink my teeth into. $11.315 TRILLION! Not 6 zeros, not 9 zeros, 12 zeros. Unfathomable huh? Well, your share is $37,072! That's is your current tab of the irresponsible spending of YOUR government. My question is, do you feel live you've gotten your #37K worth? Sure, we have paved streets, public schools, etc and I can't downplay our great society, but that is not your share of what they've spent....that is your share of how much they have OVERSPENT! So...if you or your government can't cut that $37K check...well....the meter is running, the interest is building, and you can bet your ass china will collect. Surely you can see how this is quickly becoming a national security issue.

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