Friday, March 27, 2009

when you're number two...

according to figures released today, south carolina has the second highest unemployment rate in the country, at eleven percent following michigan's twelve percent. with a little help from our governor, i'm confident that our proud state can overtake michigan and claim the first place prize, provided sanford sticks to his guns and doesn't use the federal stimulus money to actually create or sustain jobs.

i wish there was a way to get it across to the thick-headed multitudes that goverment spending is actually spending on jobs. every penny that governments spend goes to somebody's job. the spending that affects the fewest jobs is probably bond payment/debt retirement.

as an example of how government spending affects jobs, let's say the governor's office buys ten cases of paper. how many jobs play a part in getting those ten cases of paper to the governor's office? there would be the person who took the order for the paper and the person who delivered it, the driver that brought the paper from the warehouse to the jobber who sold it, the person who brought the paper from the factory to warehouse and the person who unloaded and loaded the trucks at the warehouse. of course, there are numerous workers at the paper manufacturing company, but drilling deeper there is the driver who brought the pulp wood to the paper mill, the loggers who cut the trees, and the workers who planted the trees that eventually grew to be harvested by the loggers.

granted, we are in a less than optimal situation, but with a state constitution that mandates a balanced budget, and shrinking tax collections due to the economic downturn, taking advantage of the federal stimulus money should be a no-brainer. too bad our governor is the scarecrow from the wizard of oz.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

right wing whine-o's

i am more than a little tired of the constant negative whining coming from the spoiled children on the right wing side of the political spectrum. it would, perhaps, be tolerable if this were something new, but this bad behavior has been going on since at least the 70's, and, to tell you the truth, enough is enough.

it seems as if we, as a society, have lost of all sense of camaraderie and cooperation. let's take a little look back so i can show you what mean.

nixon was elected in 1968 after the democratic party's complete self-destruction, in an election that was only 'close' because george wallace syphoned off 9.9 million votes and 46 electoral votes in his quixotic quest. the 'righties' had regained the white house after 8 years out.

the 1972 election saw nixon employ a win at any cost strategy, which won him re-election in a landslide at the price of his reputation and legacy. after vice-president agnew resigned amid a corruption scandal, the inept nice guy, gerald ford was appointed vice-president months before nixon resigned from office to avoid impeachment and removal.

gerald ford, who would still be the most ill-equiped president in modern history were it not for george w. bush, lost a close election to jimmy carter in 1976 and the whining began in earnest. the strident negativist drumbeat of the right wing whiners provided the disco beat for the soundtrack of his presidency and lead to the thumping loss 1980.

with the election of ronald reagan in 1980, the whiners grew silent as the regulatory supports began to be chiseled away and the groundwork was laid for our current economic collapse. with reagan's re-election in 1984 and george h. w. bush's election in 1988, the whiners were reinforced with a sense of entitlement thanks to the efforts of groups such as the moral majority and the christian coalition. the whiners were right and they had the right to direct the course of the country. if you disagree, too bad, the majority rules and does not care about anyone who is not on board with their narrow agenda.

this attitude was more than apparent after bill clinton won the presidency in 1992. no sooner had clinton's shadow darkened the white house door than the efforts to undermine his presidency began. the whiner's were able to retake the congress in 1994 and keep clinton running the scandal circuit for most of his presidency.

enter george w. in 2000, with his pledge to restore honor and decency to the white house after using his father's supreme court to prevent a proper count of florida's ballots. the whiners were happy to turn their attention to the slim democratic margin in senate [though cheney would provide the tiebreaker]. once the whiners had control of the executive and legislative branches, they were able to complete control of the judiciary with the appointment of roberts and alito, so they targeted anyone who disagreed with the administration.

when the whiners lost congress in 2006, they targeted pelosi, byrd and clinton, the presumptive nominee for 2008. in a sense, the whiners helped obama win the nomination, and indirectly, the presidency. now that the democrats are in control all we hear from the right wing whine-o's is their desperate fear-mongering and criticism. no ideas, no leadership, nothing positive. it makes me tired.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

mensa me

there were two segments on cbs sunday morning today about mensa, the high i.q. society [the segments are online here and here]. as a one-time mensan, a couple of things caught my attention.

in the first segment, two children who were mensa members were interviewed, a boy and a girl. the boy had on his name tag 'mr. know-it-all.' both children related what i already knew. it's not easy to be a gifted child. both children were picked on and encountered a degree of animosity from their peers because they were 'smart.' i know it was puzzling for me in elementary school, trying to understand why other kids didn't 'get it' or understand things in class when it was easy.

in the second segment, richard lederer makes the comment 'i believe it is possible to be severely gifted.' just after that comment was this from lesly sthal, who narated the piece: 'there are an unknown number of mensans with high-end autism or asperger's syndrome' noting the aversion to being touched [which i sort of got over] as the reason for the green and red dots on the name tags at the annual gathering [green dots, ok to hug, red dots, hands off].

watching the segments reminded of why i joined mensa, years ago. it provided a place i could go and find people like me. that never happened very often anywhere else, before or since.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

cousin mark

i'm so happy to be living in a state where our governor knows what is best for us and doesn't need to consult with or listen to anyone with regard to spending the president's stimulus money. after all, cousin mark knows the needs of south carolina better than uncle sam.

thanks to cousin mark, south carolina currently has the second highest unemployment rate in the nation. we have been able to achieve this lofty position thanks to his tireless leadership over the last six years. i have no doubt that, given his management skills, south carolina will soon be recognized as having the highest unemployment rate in the country.

when cousin mark took office, south carolina wasn't second in the nation in any category. now, not only are we within shouting distance of the highest unemployment rate, but we have made great strides toward mediocrity in education, and our teen preganacy rate is rising.

we now have fewer highway patrol officers to enforce needless traffic safety laws, so we have a good chance of increasing our highway traffic death toll. since we have been in top three in years past for highest death ratio per mile, registered vehicle and per capita, perhaps we can achieve a trifecta and lead the nation in all three categories there as well.

yes, i am so happy to have cousin mark looking our for us here in the grate state of south carolina, where everyone falls through the cracks, except for cousin mark's wealthy friends and donors.

Monday, March 9, 2009

this is not 1933

it may come as a shock to some people, but this is not 1933. president obama is not facing the same situation that faced president roosevelt in that year. 2009 is, in many respects, a more formidable challenge than roosevelt faced.

some have made comparisons between bush and hoover for their presiding over economic meltdowns, but that comparison falls short. herbert hoover had only been in office for six months when the free fall began, whereas george bush had been at the helm for six and half years when the present downturn began in the fall of 2007. the downturn became a free fall as the election played out.

roosevelt had the luxury of picking up the pieces after everything had completely fallen apart. obama is faced with the daunting task of trying to halt the downward momentum, before being able to effect an economic rebound. i see some justification in applying the principles of basic physics, economic ergonomics, if you will. it is much more difficult to reverse momentum than to overcome inertia.

obama has taken office amid tremendous expectations, which, given the debacle of the bush administration, is quite understandable. the temptation is great to expect too much, too soon. we are at a unique moment in our history. we face challenges unlike those faced by any other generation. the challenges we face are unlike, not greater than, but unlike, anything that has ever come before. we must temper our expectations and remember that, regardless of how much the president may pattern policy responses after franklin roosevelt, this in not 1933.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

helmets, seatbelts and freedom

yesterday dozens of bikers gathered in murrells inlet and rode into myrtle beach to protest a local ordinance requiring motorcyclists to wear helmets when riding within the city. the so-called myrtle beach helmet freedom ride was organized to 'fight for people's rights'.

'fighting for rights' is a well-worn phrase used to protest laws or ordinances which were enacted to promote public health and safety such as seatbelt and helmet laws. 'it's our right' they argue, and if we don't 'it's a matter of individual choice.' some years ago, south carolina's legislature bought that argument and repealed the state requirement that motorcyclists wear helmets.

the problem with that logic is that automobile liability insurance rates are calculated by the distributed risks of the insured. when motorcyclists don't wear helmets, their risk is distributed to the rest of the insured pool, riders and non-riders, to make sure there are sufficient funds to cover liabilities that may arise. the same thing goes for seatbelts, everyone in the state pays higher insurance rates because of those who don't or won't wear their seatbelts.

our state legislature would rather everyone pay higher rates than hold those responsible for increasing risks accountable for their actions. south carolina still has one of the weakest seat belt laws in the nation. the fine is only twenty five dollars and not really worth the time for our law enforcement officers to enforce. the ticket carries no points, and is not reported to the insurance companies and not wearing a seatbelt cannot, under south carolina law, be considered contributory negligence as far as any injuries received. besides that, every day i see local law enforcement officers not wearing their seatbelts in their patrol vehicles.

those who don't wear their seatbelts or don't wear their motorcycle helmets have a freedom that i don't have. they have the freedom to keep my insurance rates high and there is nothing i can do about it, except not like it. when will our representatives in the statehouse start looking out for people who try to be responsible and hold irresponsible people more accountable for the costs they incur on the rest of us? given the high level of both irresponsibility and irresponsiveness of our state legislators, i don't hold out much hope.