Cap & Trade or Michael Jackson

July 7, 2009

Regardless of which side of the issue you’re on, it should bother you that the news media is spending far more time keeping the American people up to date on the Michael Jackson memorial service than they are in informing us of the progress of the Cap & Trade legislation.

And why are they placing so much emphasis on a dead celebrity? Why are they ignoring more important issues that could affect all tax payers?

Some right wing conservatives would have us believe that the left leaning media is intentionally taking the focus away from Congress so the Obama administration can shove another giant spending (and taxing) bill down our throats.

The left wing radicals would argue otherwise.

Naturally – and unfortunately – the truth has nothing to do with politics. Sadly, the media is giving the American public what the American public wants. I’ll admit I haven’t checked, but I’d bet that any broadcast of the American Idol show garnered a much larger share of the viewing public than any of the Presidential debates.

The truth is a large portion of our population doesn’t care about what goes on in Washington, D.C. In fact, they care even less about what goes on in their own state capitols.

Many years ago I attended a Key Club convention in Philadelphia. Each delegate was given a key ring. On one side was the Key Club logo. On the other was the phrase, “Combat Complacency.”

I believe we’ve lost the battle. In the 1960’s, college students stood up and voiced their opinions. While many of them were wrong in their beliefs, they all had the courage to stand up for what they believed. As a result, many things in our society were changed.

The youth of my youth took the time to learn about things that mattered. Sometimes they heard one side of the story and jumped to incorrect conclusions, but in most instances, they looked at both sides and came to good logical conclusions.

I’m afraid today’s youth are too busy twittering their lives away.

Perhaps that’s the major difference. While we didn’t have CNN, FOX News Channel, C-SPAN, or… come to think of it, we didn’t have any cable channels because we didn’t have cable. We also didn’t have lap top computers and the Internet. But we did have newspapers, news magazines, and the library.

We paid attention to the world around us – sweat bullets during the Cuban Missile Crisis – and felt a responsibility to speak out against what we saw as injustice.

Perhaps that was the influence of John F. Kennedy. I know we all admired the man and took the “New Frontier” very seriously. And we all deeply mourned his passing.

Until President Obama came along, we hadn’t had another President who could reach out and stir the interest of the youth as JFK did. But it appears that the interest of our current youth petered out once their man was elected.

It’s a shame because, the way I see it, it’s the youth and future generations who will be most harmed by what is currently happening in Washington.

The U.S. Government has no business being in business. Every time government has taken over an industry, that industry stops being self-sufficient. For example, independent bus and trolley companies operated in major cities for decades. They competed for riders and most of those companies were profitable.

The companies that couldn’t compete went out of business and their assets were bought up by the other companies. Then, the government decided to take over. The two ‘companies’ I’m most familiar with – the Port Authority Transit (PAT) in Pittsburgh and the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit  Authority (MARTA) – have both operated at a loss for decades. Taxpayer subsidies are the only way they stay afloat.

Will General Motors be any different? Will taxpayer subsidized pricing put Ford, Chrysler, and others out of business?

The Federal Government has put itself in a very awkward position. Congress is talking about passing a ‘clunker bill’ that will give citizens a tax break for trading in an old car for a new, more fuel efficient, car. Will the tax break be higher for those of us who buy a GM product? It would make sense if the government wants their ‘company’ to flourish.

But wouldn’t that be unfair to the other companies? Does the government care?

There are many people who believe the economic crisis could’ve been solved months ago simply by the government letting workers keep their entire paychecks. Think about that. The typical worker has almost a third of his or her paycheck withheld every pay day. If that money had been available to the individuals, they would’ve spent it. Even if they simply paid off some bills, the economy would’ve improved.

Foreclosures would’ve been reduced dramatically and banks would’ve had more money for other loans. Consumers would’ve bought more cars, televisions, and other big ticket items… which would’ve resulted in more jobs.

If consumers bought Fords and Toyotas rather than Chevys and Buicks, GM would’ve had to fix their problems or go out of business. With increased sales, the other auto makers would’ve been able to buy GM factories and put the former GM employees to work building other makes of cars.

Is it too late for the government to get out of the auto business? I hope not. And while they’re at it, they should also get out of the banking and investment businesses.

Come to think of it, maybe it’s time for MARTA and PAT to liquidate and let the private sector show the politicians how it should be done.

Considering the business acumen of most politicians, it wouldn’t take a business genius to repair the damage done by congress. Think of it! How many politicians have held a ‘real’ job during their adult life. There may be a few, but most of them were borderline lawyers who recognized they could make a lot more money supporting the causes of special interest groups.

If they were intelligent enough to be successful business people, why would they even consider becoming a member of Congress?

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go and see if Michael has been buried yet.


The Colonel is Spinning

June 18, 2009

I have a lot of respect for the late great Colonel Sanders. He loved to cook and hated the idea of retiring on a meager Social Security check. So, rather than take up residence in an old folks home and hope that the government would pay his expenses, he developed his Kentucky Fried Chicken recipe and became world famous.

So, now that he has moved on to cooking for the bands of angels, what has his beloved company done?

This has to be a sin against nature

This has to be a sin against nature

They don’t even mention the secret recipe of herbs and spices. They totally ignore the legacy of the company. Perhaps that’s why they changed the logo to simply KFC. In years to come, we old folks will be gone to join the Colonel and no one will know what those letters stand for. How about the Kentucky Feather Corporation?

In the meantime, the general public appears to agree with me. It seems almost sacrilegious to think about cooking the Colonel’s chicken without grease. People have not rushed to the restaurants to try out the new concoction.

Therefore, at least one KFC decided to run a special promotion. I didn’t hear the details; they were either giving the chicken away or selling it at a discounted price. Regardless of the deal, they were caught off guard by the sudden demand, and they ran out. (That leads me to believe they were giving it away!)

In years past, when vendors ran out of the product, they simply put up a “SOLD OUT” sign and closed up. That didn’t please all those who missed out on the special deal, so lawyers suggested the phrase “While supplies last!” be added to advertisements to avoid lawsuits.

Again, I’m not real clear on the details. They may not have followed the advice of their lawyers. However, they did hand out vouchers to everyone who missed out on the special deal. Those people could return on any other day and use the voucher to get the same deal. What a DEAL!

Unfortunately, one person refused to be satisfied with the KFC solution and has filed a law suit claiming the KFC was using ‘bait and switch’ tactics to bring in customers.

Obviously, the lawyer representing this client has been having trouble finding work. As I understand it, ‘bait and switch’ – a tactic used by car dealers – involves a product that cannot be produced. Once the advertised product is gone, any other customers must buy something else.

In this case, the customer is inconvenienced by having to return at a later date. But, he or she will receive the exact same product at the exact same price.

I’d imagine at this point the Colonel is glad to be wherever he is.


The Writings of Others

April 4, 2009

The Weather’s hot, days burning eye
Doth make the earth in favor fry,
Dick on the Hay doth tumble Nell,
Whereby her Belly comes to swell.
The Dog star now we hot do find,
And some have Dog tricks in their mind.

That verse was written in 1714 by Daniel Leeds. I am a direct descendant of Daniel and the grandfather of another Daniel. Perhaps that is why I have such an interest in writing and humor. We’ll have to wait and see if the newest Daniel has the same interests.

In 1706 (and again in 1708) Daniel Leeds printed the following in his almanac:

Lo, here’s a Trade surpasseth all the rest;
No change annoys the Lawyers’ Interest:
His Tongue buys Land, builds Houses without Toil,
The Pen’s his Plough, the Parchment is his Soil.

Daniel published his first almanac in 1687 and continued the task for twenty-seven years. He often used lawyers as the brunt of his jokes.

It’s a pity that most Americans are familiar with Poor Richard’s Almanac and the sayings of Benjamin Franklin. Daniel Leeds was using maxims in his almanac forty years before Franklin’s Poor Richard was first published. For example, in 1710, “We think lawyers to be Wise, but they know us to be Fools.” In 1712 a Leeds jingle informs us that poor “Will Woodcock” is spending all his money on lawsuits.

He lost one case:

Another which he hoped to have try’d,
Is by Demurrer at present laid aside:
Nothing effected, only all his Money,
Is by the Lawyers swallowed down like Honey.

In 1714, Daniel’s sons Titan and Felix took over the publication. In 1726 Titan playfully accuses the lawyers of fomenting fights in the best bear-baiting tradition.

He wrote, “Lest Bear Defendant and Plaintiff Dog should make an end on’t,” the lawyers…

Do strive and toil with Writs of Error,
Reverse of Judgment and Demurrer;
To let ’em breathe a while and then,
Cry Whoop! and set ’em on again.
Until with Subtil Cobweb Cheats,
They’re catch’d in knoted Law like nets,
In which when once they are imbrangled,
The more they flip, the more they’re Tangled;
And while their Purses can Dispute,
There’s no end of th’ immortal Suit.

In his 1729 almanac, Titan Leeds wryly comments on the “Marriage State”:

In Marriage are two happy Days allow’d
A Wife in Wedding-Sheets and in a Shroud,
How can the Marriage State then be accurs’d,
Since the last Day’s as happy as the First?

In case my bride reads this, let me re-emphasize that these are the writings of others.