Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Thoughts about the "Crisis" and the "Bailout"

So, we are to have a new Bank of the United States. I thought Andrew Jackson got rid of that in 1836. $700 billion. That’s $700,000,000.00. I don’t know if you got the email I’ve received a couple of times, but if you take that amount and divide it among all the adults in the United States, we could each have something like $280,000. Each. That’s after taxes.

HEY CONGRESS! You want to save the economy and help people? Send us each just $200,000. A lot of us would pay off our house and that would send cash flowing into the troubled banks. Others would be able to catch up on their back payments. The poor could finally afford a few nice things, like a house, a car, a college education, and 400 channel cable TV. Oh wait, a lot already have the cable.

And, with 200 million Americans spending that money on a new house or an addition to the house, a new car, new appliances, beer, decent clothes, CDs, DVDs, and so on, the economy will automatically kick up a notch. Yes, some people will waste the money and in two years will be no better off than they are now, but think of the few fun years you in Congress provided. What better way to buy votes? Much better than only helping the executives that drove their company into the ground.

But, since this plan makes too much sense and sounds too much like socialism (unlike the government running the banks, which apparently is not socialism for some reason), this brilliant idea was not even considered in Congress or by our Presidential hopefuls.

Seriously, one of Jackson’s reasons for killing the Bank of the US, is that it had too many foreign investors. The US Government is in debt. To who? To foreign investors and foreign banks. This puts the US in a horrible disadvantage. Many of these countries are in a precarious friendship with the US. If something should happen that would cause a break in relations, what happens to the money supply? I admit it is all too complex for me, but I know enough to be worried.

The US needs to stop spending so much, even for “good causes.” “The power of collecting and disbursing money at pleasure is the most dangerous power that can be intrusted to man…” We need to chop pork and make people and companies pay for the services they use. Maybe more of our interstates need to be toll roads, though those that use them will complain mightily. Maybe we could do away with a few government departments. Maybe someone in Congress needs to read the Constitution and see what the Government is supposed to do.

The banks are in a mess for two reasons. 1. The Clinton Administration thought it would be nice to let “the poor” (i.e. people with insufficient means) buy a house so they loosened the regulations. A “good cause.” 2. Greed, pure and simple. Banks were more than happy to extend credit to anyone, and to extend more credit than warranted. When we moved to our current town, we went to get pre-approved for a house loan. It would be our first house. I was going to be making $38,000 a year and I am the sole support for a family of six. The bank said, “You are approved for $200,000.” I said, “Are you nuts? Did you see how much I will be making? I didn’t get an A+ credit rating by being stupid.”

But, too many people were stupid. Others lost their jobs or had other unexpected hardships. They bought too much house (or too fancy a house) and when hard times hit, then they really suffered. The banks were stupid, they should suffer. Now the Nation is suffering, and that extends to the world. Other than sustenance farming, I don’t know what to do about it, I just needed to rant.

Buy my book: How to Fix-up Your House to Sell.

Monday, October 13, 2008

I just joined Netflix

I’ve just joined Netflix. I waited a couple of years to this, I’m glad I did cause the price has come down, but man, I wish I'd done it sooner. I love it! I love old movies, and Netflix has them by the truckload. We don’t have cable or satellite, and living in a small town limits your video store options severely.

We got 3-movies-at-a-time (16.99 a month) and we set it up with 3 different “queues.” I have a queue, my wife has one, and the kids have one. When my wife sends back one of hers, (usually an old TV show) they send the next movie (or TV show) from her queue. When I send one back, they send the next one in my queue. We also have Netflix send the movies addressed the name of the queue. So, my movies come addressed to Robert Lindsey, the kids movies come addressed to Kids Lindsey (I’m serious), and my wife’s come addressed to Hot Mama Lindsey (I’m kidding, but they should).

They have educational shows (we homeschool so this is great), documentaries (this too), concert videos, TV shows, and best of all, old movies. And you don't have to return them across town, just drop them in your mail box. I didn't realize just how convenient that is until we started doing this.

If you have a fast internet connection, many of the movies can be watched online or downloaded to your computer (I don't really know much about this part as we are on dial-up, but my brother watches them like this all the time). These instantly watched movies don't count against your 3-at-a-time (or whatever).

The reason I chose Netflix over Blockbuster is that Netflix has more movies, especially classics. Plus every place I looked online that compares them said Netflix was better.

The one thing that could be better is the "recommended movies" they give you when you log in. They just keep showing the same movies over and over, though they say they have "about 104 suggestions" in a particular category. So, why show the same movies over and over on the intro screen? Rotate them a little. Small quibble.

I’m a nut, I have 153 movies in my queue (that doesn't count the Kids or wife). It’ll probably take me a couple years just to get through what I have in my list now. I'll keep adding though, it is so much stinkin' fun. Try it out, you’ve got 30 days, if you don’t like it, cancel, but I’m guessing, you’ll be addicted like I am.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

P.J. O'Rourke has Butt Cancer

One of my favorite writers, P. J. O'Rourke, has cancer. He has written a thoughtful and funny article at the LA Times.

Furthermore, I am a logical, sensible, pragmatic Republican, and my diagnosis came just weeks after Teddy Kennedy's. That he should have cancer of the brain, and I should have cancer of the ass ... well, I'll say a rosary for him and hope he has a laugh at me. After all, what would I do, ask God for a more dignified cancer? Pancreatic? Liver? Lung?

Which brings me to the nature of my prayers. They are, like most prayers from most people, abject self-pleadings. However, I can't be the only person who feels like a jerk saying, "Please cure me, God. I'm underinsured. I have three little children. And I have three dogs, two of which will miss me. And my wife will cry and mourn and be inconsolable and have to get a job. P.S. Our mortgage is subprime."

God knows this stuff. He's God. He's all-knowing. What am I telling him, really?

No matter where you sit on the political spectrum, you need to read a little of his work. For some non-political writing, check out his writing for Automobile Magazine in Road Trips, Head Trips, and Other Car-Crazed Writings. He has a hilarious story about the time the magazine sent him to Mexico in new Lincoln with a tall blond woman as his photographer.

We wish him well.