On Prophets and Predictions

You may have heard this morning that a Russian “expert” in the field has predicted the demise of the United States of America next year.

I am reminded of the years leading up to the fall of the Soviet Union (or extreme reorganization).

Our own Central Intelligence Agency predicted its fall ten years from the date of the prediction (it “fell” not long after the report) (1, 2, 3).  An interesting factoid concerning this botched prediction was based on the fact that the CIA may have relied too heavily on Soviet information and data (just look at one of their newspapers (Pravda or TASS) and you can see how “unbiased” they are; you might as well use government-issued press releases).

The point is, propaganda oversells or over-states issues.

That is what propaganda does.

Now where do you suppose this Soviet “expert” would gather his data to conclude that the U.S. will fall next year?

All we have been hearing out of the Democrats and the Obama administration is that we are repeating the Great Depression of the early 30’s and that they are representing the new Roosevelt-doctrine (the “new”, New Deal).

This is the problem with propaganda.  It paints a certain perspective for the entire world.

Let’s break it down a little further.  The latest unemployment stats that I have heard mentioned put us somewhere in the vicinity of seven percent.

Keep in mind – we were running in double digits under the Carter administration (that was the 1970’s; fourteen percent, I “think”).

During the depression years after the 29 stock crash, unemployment was running in the thirty percentile.

Thirty percent !

That is a far-cry difference from this seven percent that we now face – and yet what do we get from Obama?  He screams that we are in the grip of depression and failing by the minute.

He is setting himself up for a self-fulfilling prophesy.  It is his policies that are driving the markets down, not to mention the perception he is creating with his speech.

I am trained in public relations.  We are taught that the best approach to dealing with a sticky situation is to try and present it in as true a light as is possible.

In other words, base your communications on the facts and try your damndest to see that the facts are corroborated by more than one party.

Then have a game plan.  Communicate to the public that there is a problem, that we are aware of the problem (restate it for clarification) and that this is what we are doing to address the problem (again, restate the problem so that everyone understands).

Now it is also important that the problem is legitimate.  Look at the problems with selling the world on global warming and you will see what I mean.  There is no consensus on the subject by experts.  All you hear are the “experts” representing one side of the issue.

What we are not taught to do is manufacture problems.

Believe it or not, in spite of what you have heard about “spin” – we are taught to do what the journalists do not seem to be doing.  We are taught to deal with issues in an above-board fashion.

I believe that it is under-handed to continue down this path of self-destruction.  To continue to paint the situation we now face as a “depression” is as bright and shining a lie as has ever been told by any politician.

The viability of our nation is based on a free and open marketplace.

Men have tried to emulate that freedom in terms of intellect and thought as well (a free and open interhange of ideas).

Now I realize that when approaching a problem, all things must be put on the table.  For example, I understand that the CIA actually has a contingency plan set up in case of an attack upon the United States by Canada.

We all know it is not likely to happen, but we have the game-plan just in case.

We as a nation have built in protections to avoid another financial collapse like the one of the Great Depression.

It is fine to have a plan for that.  Where I have a problem is when a government official continues to panic the entire world with rhetoric, and in so-doing affect the markets in such a terrible fashion.

If you’ve ever read “The Scarlet Pimpernel” you will see that a similar tactic was used in the French market place of the period where the character “whispers” stock information at parties and galas to manipulate the markets.

You can plainly see what an affect it has when a world leader such as our President makes blatant and open remarks (no whispers) about the subject.

This is wholly and completely malevolent, and it is absolutely irresponsible.

The repercussions you can plainly see in the prediciton of this Russian.

Now here is the “other side” of the coin.

Our CIA overestimated the Russians strength prior to their collapse.  What I believe is happening here is that this Russian is underestimating our markets, and he is doing so based on all the rhetoric coming from our President and the Democrats in Congress.

The fact is, we are not in the greatest shape ever, but then again, we are NOT in a depression.

There is a wise quote that states that a man should only be judged by the company he keeps (now, I do know that we shouldn’t judge at all – but I do think we have to use some discernment to avoid running with the devil).

It is tacitly ironic to me that Barack Obama finds an ally in his rhetoric coming from a Soviet “expert”.

One socialist talking about another.

You do the math.

A Revolting Situation

They say that nothing stinks like old money, and apparently B.O. is completely immersed in the stench (no pun intended).

Today, the British Prime Minister Gordon Brown visits Hollywood-on-the-Potomac to discuss a “New Deal for the World”.

I find it most ironic that the very nation from which we broke during our forefather’s revolution is now the country Obama turns to in order to unite in his socialist undertakings.

Back during the campaign I got a call from a fellow I knew in school.  He intimated to me that this country was in need of revolution. He always was one of those stylized, hippie-types – no need to detail it; I’m sure you get the picture.

Well, looks like he got his wish.

Welcome to the revolution.

Here we are, completely abandoning all that is reasonable in capitalism and in favor of socialist collusion with Great Britain.

You know, with no economic stability, the world will begin to look more-and-more like Haite-Ashbury, or worse, the Manson family farm, or “Wavy Gravy’s” – take your pic of collectivist utopia (I wonder what the clothed guy in the drawing is trying to explain to the nude dewd?  From the look on the naked lady’s face, he could just be explaining that his “advertising” may not be doing the product any justice – just like Obama’s great socialist promises, sounds great until you uncover the facts).

It is akin to displaying socialism as the answer to world’s ills.  What kind of sales pitch is it to use the woefully inadequate as a sales pitch for our own approach to economics?

Well, let’s think about a few facts about the situation in this model Obama seems intent on following (Europe’s model).

Their (Britania’s) banks are in worse shape than our own.

In the United States we are “running in the band” of between 15% and 25% of our Gross Domestic Product (thank you, Mr. Perot)  In other words, we are taxing and spending at a full one quarter of what we make (remember, the church only asks for 10%).  Now these statistics, you will please note, are based on data between 1980 and 2007; they do not account for the recent wanton love fest in spending of President Obama and his merry band of “revolutionaries”.

But consider the rest of the world and the financial situation they are in (trust me, we are talking about degrees of stench here – there is a saying in the hills that once it gets below 20 degrees Farenheit that it doesn’t get any colder – it is just damned cold.  The same rule can be applied to financial stench.  Socialism, even in a mild and benign form, stinks, and stinks even on ice).

It doesn’t get worse, it is the pent ultimate in revulsion; it is the absolute zero of maloderous and rotting decay.

Great Britain, in some estimates, has a ratio of 45% of its Domestic Product. Some quadrants estimate France at 2/3 of its product, and Norway is estimated at 159% of its Gross Domestic Product.

Back during the early stages of the “financial meltdown”, as it is called, I even heard one pundit describe the Royal Bank of Scotland’s toxic debt at THREE times GB’s Domestic Product (and you thought 150% was bad, Norway).

So I guess this leaves me scratching my head.  After our forefather’s had the good sense to break with all that “old” European money in order to “form a more perfect union” – why then is Obama chasing after their failed economic policies?

I suppose one could conclude that it is the Nature of the Obaman’s (after all, it would seem none of them know how to use a calculator when it comes to their own, personal taxes).

Isn’t this rich?

They keep up the same mantra of “the rich getting richer, and the poor getting poorer”, and yet they do not even pay their own taxes.

With the wealthiest in this Nation already footing the bill for 80% of the taxes raised, I wonder how much longer we can tolerate an individual who screams for revolution and yet does nothing to contribute to our Nation’s tax burden.  He increases our debt, and yet all around him, he is surrounded by people who cheat on their own taxes.

“Do as I say, and not as I do” ?

Well, I for one am not interested in teaming up with the world under a socialist banner.  We all know that this financial crisis is world-wide dilemma.  We must all face it together, but I would suggest that the best approach is to whittle away one’s financial burdens to a fraction of your income, and not approaching it as a multiplier of what you take in (one could think of GDP in relative terms as one’s own income).

Is it a wise man who borrows at a rate three times what he earns?

Big Louey probably loves such a guy (or does he).

How does a man ever re-pay his debt with broken legs?

Well, I tell ya, socialism is breaking our backs.  If you think it is difficult with gimp legs, it is overwhelming with a broken back.

Our forefathers set up a model of capitalism for us to follow.  Adam Smith’s “Wealth of Nations”, John Locke’s “Social Contract” and in modern terms even Dr. Milton Friedman (1, 2) – all espoused ideas consistent with the invisible hand of a free market, capitalist economy regulated only by the social contract (my rights end where your nose begins).  The Reagan revolution was based on such principles.

Why then abandon them for a failed economic principle (look no further than the debt ratios of Europe).

In no uncertain terms, the stench associated with Obama’s economic ideology just continues to get more odoriferous.

The only disinfectant for this odor-most-foul is a return to the principles espoused by not only our forefathers, but by other proven approaches such as Milton Friedman (1, 2), or Ronald Reagan (1, 2).

What part of this equation is not obvious? I guess the stench of socialism has overtaken any rational thought.

Thanks, B.O.

On Solidarity and Salesmanship

Watching John McCain debate on the Senate floor this morning (countering the Demonrat “spend-feast” with a proposal right at half of their boondoggle) reminds one of a time long ago and a man who brought a nation together to stand firm.

This analogy is not meant to compare Senator McCain to anyone specifically, but rather the whole of the GOP to Poland.

When a moderate like McCain stands shoulder-to-shoulder with the rest of the GOP we are seeing the birthing pangs of something akin to Solidarność, that uprising against communism in the Lenin Shipyards of Poland.

It is imperative that this line not be broken, that this chain of men devoted to the precept that all citizens are truly equalized in a free-market society, that together they must stand solid, with no link weakened, frayed or broken.

It is a true test of the mettle of men as to what they do when force is applied in such fashion.  Like the chain, the must never buckle under the stress.

What the left is now doing is akin to the salesman on the car lot who says to you that you “must buy now – this deal may not be on the table tomorrow, and think of the consequences”.

As a lesson in sales (and anyone who has worked in it knows this), a smart consumer never buckles under such pressure.

When the President tells Congress that they must adopt his bill today or face dire consequences tomorrow, the taint of salesmanship just begs for notice.

Everyone is complaining about the ridiculous wastefulness that is in the Democrat’s package.

Who can forget when Gingrich and the rest of those boys “shut Washington down”; perhaps it is time to take note of such brave acts.

The Precipice today calls on all of our GOP sisters and brothers in Congress to stand firm in the Senate.

Do not waffle.

Do not “cave”.

Together, with resolve, we will bring this Nation back from the recesses of the abyss, back to her eagle’s perch, cliff-side, talon’s dug in to the precipice, and an eye fixed on the rats lurking below; rats responsible for this financial crisis we are now in.


On the “Best”, “Bad” Plan (so far)

I caught Jack Welch, Chuck Schumer and a self-described “fiscal conservative” economist from Harvard on Charlie Rose last night.

As early as one week ago, I was beginning to “lean” into the concept of “bad” banks as being perhaps the best option (only option, really) on the table; they are going to spend our money anyway, and everyone who has ever studied the “great” depression knows we simply must regain confidence in the banks.

So, I figured, why not consolidate the bad paper in one “socialist, bad” bank, let the others attend to the business of keeping our businesses running, and then PRAY that the “bad” nationalized bank is able to recoup at least some losses on the toxic paper they hold.

I feel as if I’m talking to an unruly dog.  “Bad” dog (“bad” bank).

Well, I actually heard something that sounded like semi-good sense coming from the Harvard economist (and I apologize to all – did not catch his name, and it is not published on the PBS website).

His idea was to put enough money into the system to insure that no-one’s mortgage “goes negative” – in other words, do not eradicate the toxic debt, but rather, put enough into the system to insure that the over-all home values do not fall (essentially the toxicity makes all the properties as worthless as the notes).  More or less, he is talking about a buffer designed to keep the value of the homes greater than the losses incurred by the worthless loans out there.

Put enough money into the system to insure those people who are paying their notes and then keep them viable so that their investment is not dragged into the waste pond with the rest of the polluted loans.

This seems more reasonable than using a central bank to essentially “wipe away” the toxic issues.  I can’t help but think this scenario does nothing more than create public housing all across our great land, essentially turning everything that the housing boom built into bright shining ghettos.

It may very well be smoke and mirrors, but I tend to think the old boy was telling the truth.  He said that as a fiscal conservative he doesn’t like it.  I get the real sense that we are at a point where we simply have to do something, as the saying goes, “even if it is wrong”.

There simply are not a lot of good options here…but we should try and minimize the damage caused.

These guys (save for Schumer, naturally)  have some good ideas.  Practice triage, minimize the impact, quarantine.  Do what you would do if the predicted “pandemic” hit our country.

I am quite certain that Schumer would rather see all of houses in the U.S. go toxic so that the government can then absorb them in the same manner that they are swallowing up the banks – this way everyone would live in the public housing ghetto.

The other concept that was mentioned that appeals to this conservative is the idea of breaking this problem down into a rate concept.

As in business, one looks for the rate of return on an investment; our leaders will have to look for a similar rate based on the positive business impact the bailout moneys will have – in other words, how many jobs will the moneys “create” (or sustain) but then further, how do those jobs feed back into the system in terms of revenues collected and the contribution (especially the contribution) that the created job made to the Gross National Product and the over-all value of our economy.

Add “worth” to it.

I think the guys may in fact be on the right track now.

Jack Welch also had a really good point in that what happens at the round-table of most corporations is (and if you have ever sat in a meeting, I know you’ve witnessed this attitude) “admittedly, the company is doing poorly, but my division had a record quarter”.  And then, what spins from this “That Bluestein fellow is really on the ball.  We need a fellow like that in our division (or, here at corporate).  Let’s give him a bonus and promote him”.

What is happening here is that essentially the forest is dying, and with each successive tree death, a new tree becomes the tallest.

What should be happening is a situation whereby the other managers learn from the one who is doing well, thus elevating tree height and health across the forest and in turn adding to the health of the whole.  It would seem that Darwinian engineering is winning,  even though its effect is to kill the species.

The really bad news from the show was the same economist seems to think it may be 2010 before we actually see any results and that what we are doing in terms of bailouts is simply, not enough.

Brother, can you spare a job?

The Audaciousness of Sheer Survival

Stock markets plummet.

Some predict a 21st century depression (what a great start to the new millennium).

Wars rage in the holy lands.

Entire segments of the marketplace are on the verge of collapse (auto, housing).

Unions hold firm to their wages (and golf courses).

All, it would seem, is bleak (and not brightening up very much either, unless that is you are Joe Ironworker playing the eighteenth hole).

And what is offered from the left? “The Audacity of Hope”; inflated credit scores for first-time buyers via “ACORN” (small seeds, mighty oaks?); promises of helping “the working man”, but no offers of bailouts for any but the most prestigious among us.

So what do the spinmeisters in Hollyweird and DC Dreamland really leave us with?

I say it will come down to the audaciousness of sheer survival.

When you are up against it, and there is little hope (maybe none) – there is only one thing you can depend on – it is your God-given, God-inspired, God-conceived gut.

I fall back on the creed from my family crest “God, or no God, there is always God” (without respect to our own perceptions of His presence and divine works, He is (and they are), always, there.

In football we used to say “gotta ‘gut’ it out” – got to get through the gut-wrenching experience – gotta keep eye and heart focused on the game, and the steps it takes to victory; it is simple, and biblical: never turn, never deviate – always focus on His teachings.

Whatever it takes…press on! Ignore slogans and do what is right.

I don’t believe in mantras, I believe in God.

I believe that it is HIS armor that will get us through these difficulties (and not some manufactured bunch of malarky put together by so-called leaders who print money until it becomes completely worthless – if you don’t believe me, look at how the dollar is stacking up against the yen, or even better, against the ruble).

This is not our finest hour.

But just as I believe fervently in God, and that He will provide, I believe that He provides to those who are willing to help themselves (and I do NOT intend the bastardization of the concept in “help yourself”) – I mean REAL help, ala “pick yourself up by your bootstraps”, help.

I don’t know, exactly, what it will take, but I hear a few inklings coming from the maddening crowd; inklings I tend to think are spot on.

We have to get back to the basics. We have to cut our personal debt, which means making absolute, out-and-out war on the banks and credit card companies.

Do whatever it takes to get the balances paid off, and then begin saving our money.

To hell with retail collapse. It is this spending frenzy that got us into this mess in the first place (and our political leaders are obviously not going to take the high road – they are spending like drunken bandits – spending OUR tax dollar).

When everything is out of control, somebody has to step up and be responsible.

Somebody has to drag the needle across the record, stop the party and remind everyone what reality looks like.

As always, it will be up to us to be responsible; it looks altogether a “done-deal” that our incoming peerless leader will offer little more than platitudes and campaign slogans; unfortunately, his backers believe the party will simply go on forever.

Deep down, I look to see all of them covered in cheap wine and sleeping on the beach or in the gutter in the future.

I doubt seriously that any will be “captains of industry” for very long; one has to be industrious to be a captain of industry, and all I see coming from them is disgruntled hot air.