Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Profound Happiness

I ask myself a lot of questions, and often use this blog to answer them. I am literally developing the words you are reading as I type. When prompted, the words come.

I am not sure that answering my own questions accomplishes anything. I have found that people learn and truly grasp ideas and information when they answer the questions in their own ways and their own styles. I found this true in my life as I worked my way through various levels of education. Until a subject became applicable to me and my life, it simply didn't make sense and didn't sink in.

In this spirit, I will propose a question to any who read this. I started the blog so that I would be prompted to practice writing, while at the same time, building the courage to make my views known while I still can. Perhaps I will continue to lead with the questions that fatigue my mind, and while I may give some commentary, I will encourage you to answer the questions in your own way.

Where have you found profound happiness?

I have experienced profound happiness at many times throughout my life; reminiscing with friends about some college events, watching my daughter breath her first breath, saying "I do", enjoying the beauty of creation, having goals and achiving them etc, etc...

What environments have prompted this profound happiness? Does this profound happiness exist under a dictators rule? When socialism rules a nation, does this profound happiness exist?

As I examine this question, it seems that some semblance of personal freedom and responsibility is required. It seems that people will never be happy when THEY have the world on their shoulders. When we can rest in the grace of God and understand that we might actually have a purpose on this earth, it seems to lead towards happiness. How do you answer this question?

Monday, May 18, 2009

Derivative Markets

Heidi is the proprietor of a bar in Detroit. She realizes that virtually all of her customers are unemployed alcoholics and, as such, can no longer afford to patronize her bar. To solve this problem, she comes up with new marketing plan that allows her customers to drink now, but pay later.

She keeps track of the drinks consumed on a ledger (thereby granting the customers loans).

Word gets around about Heidi's "drink now, pay later" marketing strategy and, as a result, increasing numbers of customers flood into Heidi's bar. Soon she has the largest sales volume for any bar in Detroit.

By providing her customers' freedom from immediate payment demands, Heidi gets no resistance when, at regular intervals, she substantially increases her prices for wine and beer, the most consumed beverages. Consequently, Heidi's gross sales volume increases massively.

A young and dynamic vice-president at the local bank recognizes that these customer debts constitute valuable future assets and increases Heidi's borrowing limit. He sees no reason for any undue concern, since he has the debts of the unemployed alcoholicsas collateral.

At the bank's corporate headquarters, expert traders transform these customer loans into DRINKBONDS, ALKIBONDS and PUKEBONDS. These securities are then bundled and traded on international security markets. Naive investors don't really understand that the securities sold to them as AAA secured bonds are really the debts of unemployed alcoholics.

Nevertheless, the bond prices continuously climb, and the securities soon become the hottest-selling items for some of the nation's leading brokerage houses.One day, even though the bond prices are still climbing, a risk manager at the original local bank decides that the time has come to demand payment on the debts incurred by the drinkers at Heidi's bar. He so informs Heidi.

Heidi then demands payment from her alcoholic patrons, but being unemployed alcoholics they cannot pay back their drinking debts. Since, Heidi cannot fulfill her loan obligations. Forced into bankruptcy, the bar closes and the eleven employees lose their jobs.

Overnight, DRINKBONDS, ALKIBONDS and PUKEBONDS drop in price by 90%. The collapsed bond asset value destroys the banks liquidity and prevents it from issuing new loans, thus freezing credit and economic activity in the community.

The suppliers of Heidi's bar had granted her generous payment extensions and had invested their firms' pension funds in the various BOND securities. They find they are now faced with having to write off her bad debt and with losing over 90% of the presumed value of the bonds. Her wine supplier also claims bankruptcy, closing the doors on a family business that had endured for three generations, her beer supplier is taken over by a competitor, who immediately closes the local plant and lays off 150 workers.

Fortunately though, the bank, the brokerage houses and their respective executives are saved—bailed out by a multi-billion dollar, no-strings attached, cash infusion from the Government.
The funds required for this bailout come from new taxes levied on employed, middle-class, non-drinkers.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Quotes to File Away

“If you want a happy ending, that depends, of course, on where you stop your story.”
Orson Welles

Friday, May 15, 2009

Reality Check

I went on a diet a few months ago and believe it or not, it has been pretty successful. I have lost over 60 pounds since January. Things are looking up.

I dare you to disagree.

You don't believe me? Obviously, if I had not gone on a diet, I would have gained 55 pounds, so while my scale may only show a loss of 5 pounds I actually lost 60 pounds. I think I'll go out for some Mexican food tonight to celebrate my achievement.

Think of this next time you hear that our government has saved 10,000 jobs or reduced our deficit by $200 billion. What is really going on?

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Human Spirit

If you haven't noticed, I am on a quest to show what I believe to be the underlying problems with the liberal progressive philosophy. Conservatism, which assumes life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness to be at the very foundation of every individuals human rights, is in my opinion the only philosophy that will lead to prosperity for all and a land that truly offers freedom and opportunity to any who enter it, regardless of race, religion and hair color.

Our country was structured by its founders in a way that provides the basic tenants of life and freedom. The things that snuff out these basic tenants are in violation of the law. There is room for social aid, to strengthen the weakest links in the chain, but that aid should not be taken at the expense of another.

In my view, the leaders of the progressive movement, the truly progressive, believe that there are fundamental rights more important than life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. What those fundamentals are, I cannot say, but they clearly believe that a system like socialism is superior to capitalism. It seems that we must make "progress" regardless of the cost. Can we really call it progress. They fail to account for the human spirit. Within my worldview, the progressives have failed to account for humans created in the image of the creator.

Regardless of your personal philosophies, I believe it would benefit you to examine life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness in your own life. Examining these basic tenants will help to put your views in perspective and defend them when necessary.

The human spirit wants to grow, invent, achieve, accomplish, explore and serve. It is perhaps a futile attempt at containing the spirit, yet throughout history we have seen ever expanding governments take it upon themselves to dictate to the masses what they can and cannot do. Thanks to cousin Laura for highlighting a National Geographic article about how science explains the 'how', and faith explains the 'why'. She knows of course that I respectfully disagree. I am also trying to make it clear that disagreements are under-rated. We need to be challenged more often.

I don't believe that the How and Why can exist separately. The human spirit is the perfect example of this concept, and I believe "Why" matters. Can we appreciate a work of art, a sunset or a musical composition without both the How and the Why? Of course we understand [how,] that sound waves enter our ears and create noise; but the emotions, feelings and sense of awe that this may create come from our spirit, which tells us why we like it. When we stop our busy routines to gaze at a sunset, we cannot explain How it affects us the way that it does, but we can explain Why we believe it to be so beautiful. If we ignore why something has happened, we may be ignoring the cause, and will never truly understand how it happened. When we ignore the Why, we ignore the very inquisitive nature of the human spirit. If no reason exists for something, we have no need to know how it exists. If we assume that no reason exists, the human spirit and the very feelings that move us to action are meaningless.

Now that I have taken us down a terribly confusing philosophical road, let me get back on track.

–verb (used with object)
to merit, be qualified for, or have a claim to (reward, assistance, punishment, etc.) because of actions, qualities, or situation: to deserve exile; to deserve charity; a theory that deserves consideration.
–verb (used without object)
to be worthy of, qualified for, or have a claim to reward, punishment, recompense, etc.: to reward him as he deserves; an idea deserving of study.

What we "deserve" is an interesting question. Does a murderer deserve death? Does a homeless person deserve a roof? In reality, we each have passions and desires that prompt us to help others get what they deserve. The real dilemma is: Who gets to decide what you deserve?

Should the government have that power, or you?

Does your answer change depending on who is in charge? Should it?

We each make judgements about what other people may or may not deserve, but people will ultimately disagree on some points and agree on others. When we infringe on life and liberty, we deteriorate the very values, our unalienable rights, that allow our unique and individual human spirits grow in their own ways. The government is a necessary evil. Regardless of the cause, as we continue down the road of bigger and bigger government, we must understand that as our liberties are taken, we are destined to lose them all. That is how Benjamin Franklin saw it, and I think he was right.

We must take a stand for our basic human rights, the rights of the individual. Unless our spirit be dimmed, these are the foundations of conservatism that we must understand and follow.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Quotes to File Away

"Sometimes your only available transportation is a leap of faith." - Margaret Shepherd

Thursday, May 7, 2009

The End of Waste?

"We can no longer afford to spend as if deficits don't matter and waste is not our problem," ..."We can no longer afford to leave the hard choices for the next budget, the next administration -- or the next generation." - President Barack Obama, 5/7/2009.


This is the perfect example of our President saying what he knows we want to hear, while doing something completely different. He is either referring to the 3+ trillion dollars of debt his administration has committed us to in the last 3 months, or the "mistakes of the past 8 years"? Probably both. Politicians love to place blame on everyone else.

I could scream when I hear our President say stuff like this while blatantly walking a different line. Luckily he has saved the day by announcing $17 billion in cuts of current programs, a mere .5% of the budget.

For your own edification, last years budget was about $3.1 trillion, $400 billion less than this year. These cuts being announced are a joke and a ruse. President Bush spent too much, and President Obama is making that look like chump change. Our President should at least be honest about his spending, and about how he thinks it will ultimately make things better. Why the charade?

Does anyone truly believe what he is saying?

It's a shame that real, passionate questions like this will never be addressed by our leaders. They are all so concerned about their political clout, that they have forgotten how to tell the truth.

THIS, is change we can believe in.