Monday, August 23, 2010

New blog link

Well, I got bored doing nothing so I'm doing a little blogging over at Spellchek. It's geared a little different. Lots of music, cars, sports and whatever catches my eye at the moment. Oh yeah, some blowin' off steam on political rants will be there as well.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Mission Accomplished!

The Observer was born on December 4,2008.After 336 posts,it will now be put out to pasture.

A little background.I created this blog to essentially be a diary.In the fall of 2008,I found myself a bit overwhelmed as to what was happening with the economic meltdown.For far too many years,I did as so many others do.Just live each day whistling dixie without a care about global events.Workin' and playin' and raising a family.Ignorance is only bliss to a certain point.

I remember being mystified as to what was happening when the economic 911 hit that year.How could our entire economy implode almost overnight?Of course,when you rely on the mainstream news for your info,you have no chance of ever understanding what's really happening.

So,I dedicated myself to researching what happened.It starts with understanding the Constitution and a whole new world opens up after that.It quickly dawned on me that I had alot to learn.That led to finding a way to take notes on what I was learning and the result was the Observer.A perfect way to put your thoughts and opinions down.

I'm certainly different compared to the average blogger out there.Most are committed to gaining as many followers as possible,while this never motivated me.I didn't want to get stuck in that trap of always being concerned with site traffic and how to get my blog linked to yet another.Kinda like betting on sports.It takes the fun out of it for me when I'm watching the end of a game only concerned with the final score beating the spread.

Again,I realize I'm not the norm here and I don't have any problem with those that have different motivations for blogging.The point is that I accomplished what I set out to do.I have learned much and got to throw out my two cents on a variety of topics.

I haven't yet decided where I will go from here.I'm looking at creating a new blog that will focus more on in-depth,magazine style investigative reporting.Lord knows,there are more than enough bloggers out there covering current events.Fact is,I simply don't have the time to keep up posting on any type of regular basis.Certainly,I could keep on posting my opinion on the endless opportunities provided by Obama and his charade.I just think I would prefer to explore other avenues at this point.

So,thank those of you who have linked or commented in the past.Much appreciated.A very special thanks to Steve at the Motor City Times.He has gone way above and beyond in linking to my blog without reciprocity since the beginning.I encourage everyone to check him out everyday as he does a great job of linking and posting on topical events.I will post a link here when I decide on what's next for me.

No more to come!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Dio-did he choose Heaven or Hell?

Heavy metal heavyweight Ronnie James Dio is dead from stomach cancer at age 67.Here is the link to the story.

Here is a sampling of his hits.

More to come...

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Austerity in America

Austerity.One of those words you probably had to look up in the dictionary until recently.The Greek financial crisis has made it a household word lately.In short,it means that once a countries debt to GDP ratio exceeds a certain limit,their bond rating is cut forcing them to adopt strict measures of higher taxes,reduced spending,and diminished entitlements for its citizens.

It also means that the citizens pay the price for irresponsible government spending since that is what gets a country into this position to begin with.Usually,it leads to violence such as is occurring in Greece today.The main reason is because government employees and unions are forced to accept reduced pay,pension and health care benefits to help balance the budget.You then get the resulting strikes and protests leading to things like burning banks.

It's coming to your neighborhood.Write it down.Guaranteed.Checks in the mail.You can't stop it.The reason you can't stop it is that you can't stop your government from continuing their irresponsible spending policies.Drunk with power,they simply cannot stop themselves from spending our taxpayer dollars to save us from ourselves.

What can we expect to see and when?You can relax somewhat as it won't happen this year as an election is upcoming in November.However,December 1st is the deadline date for the Obama commission set up to find ways to reduce the debt.This is the out for Obama.The recommendations will come from the commission and poor Obama will merely be acting on their suggestions.Here are a few things you'll see.

•Extend the retirement age for social security benefits.
•Cut Medicaid and Medicare services and reimbursements.
•Institute a valued added tax (VAT) - a national tax applied to every economic transaction in the country.
•Require all wage earners to deposit a minimum of 2% of their pay into mandatory savings accounts.
•Require a percentage of the funds in IRA's, 401K and new mandatory savings accounts to be held in US Treasuries. (As the smart money bails on US Treasury auctions, Americans will be forced to buy their own toxic debt.)

The key point is this.Spending cuts will be borne by the poor because they are the segment of society receiving the bulk of benefits.There will be a huge public backlash as we are now seeing in California.The same thing happens when tax cuts are announced.They are always promoted as tax cuts for the rich.Reason being is that these are the people who pay the bulk of the taxes so of course they benefit the most from any tax cuts.

Greece is a walk in the park.We would only need to shut down the federal government for a portion of one day to reduce spending enough to cover the Greek debt.If you'll remember,we already did that over the winter when a snowstorm forced D.C. to halt.We like to deal in debt in the trillions rather than those pesky billions.

It's too late.The train has left the station.Our debt is too great.Our spending is insatiable.The census bureau predicts we will add another 100 million citizens by the year 2050.Amnesty is on the table today to add millions of illegal immigrants.Does anyone think that the number won't explode from the reported 12 million once the illegals get wind of amnesty passage?

You can just plod along with your head in the sand if you think this will never happen here.Not in the greatest country in the world,right?If you aren't ignorant to what's coming and have the means,please take the time now to make preparations.Once the violence starts,martial law will be sure to be enacted at some point.Then your options will be eliminated.You'll also have to watch your back every minute as your neighbors who are worse off than you will be faced with desperation.No one is safe in that scenario.More to come...

Monday, May 10, 2010

The State of Europe

It is now official.The European Union has now morphed into one single entity with 27 individual states.Sort of.With the actions taken over the weekend by the Eurozone to prop up the Euro,the European currency,they have effectively set up a national government structure not unlike our own.

In effect,the former individual countries of Europe had their own unique identities which are no no different than traveling from Ohio to Kentucky.You've merely crossed a state line,big deal.Of course,they will vehemently deny this is the case.It will take many years,and probably decades,for this to simply be accepted.

What you will see are transformative changes that all 27 members of the EU must accept or face being shut out from the permanent bailout fund now in place.Even though Germany was in the strongest position financially today,they also caved in so as to not waste the last half century's work in building up the Euro.

In essence,a new superpower has been born.The GDP of this new superpower is over $16 trillion dollars,making it the largest in the world.The U.S. now plays second fiddle at around $14 trillion.Europe has over 500 million citizens.

You may say,wait,what is the Eurozone?It comprises 16 member countries that use the Euro as their primary currency.These are the members that voted on the bailout package of nearly $1 trillion dollars over the weekend.What you'll see occur,however,is pressure for the other members of the European Union to fall in line and adopt the Euro.That's why I say this will take years or decades to fully implement.The European Union has already been evolving in this manner since its inception in 1993.The Eurozone will now follow suit.

What does this mean?Nothing good.But that will come later,probably years.But the groundwork has now been laid to expand the same bubble/bailout mentality across the entire continent of Europe as we have here in the United States.Meaning the crashes will be even larger with no one left to bailout the State of Europe.Also meaning the crashes from either side of the pond will be catastrophic as our global economy is now more intertwined than ever before.Hang on for the wildest ride the globe has ever seen.

Some will question whether Europe has now moved toward a more federal,state structure like the U.S. or if the Euro will crash.Take it to the bank that the Euro will crash.Will it be this year or many years no one knows.But the EU has taken the first necessary step to guarantee its demise.

However,today we will hear nothing of the sort.The stock markets will soar across the globe.Economists will crow about this being long overdue and that Europe is finally standing fully behind its Euro.No one can predict accurately when it will all come crashing down.We have history as our guide to illustrate the exact mistakes that will occur as the era of printing press fiat money has now come to the Euro.More to come...

Michigan Senate GOP ready to cave on school pensions

For the usual top notch reporting on financial issues in the state of Michigan,where do you go?The Michigan Capitol Confidential,of course.

Analysis: Senate GOP Fumbles, May Approve $25.9 Billion Taxpayer Liability to Satisfy MEABy Jack McHugh | May 10, 2010
Negotiations are continuing between the Republican majority in the Michigan Senate and House Democrats on a modest school pension reform proposal recommended by Gov. Jennifer Granholm to help balance next year's budget. Late reports suggest that GOP Senators may be ready to surrender on one particular demand from the Michigan Education Association that could load a new $25.9 billion liability onto taxpayers.

That's the amount the state would have to set aside to cover future school employee health care benefits under a union-supported provision. Unlike pensions, these benefits can be altered at will by the state and so under current law are not considered enforceable obligations. The MEA is demanding the law be amended in a way that, in effect, would convert them into real liabilities on the state.

Senate Republicans dealt themselves a weak hand for these negotiations beginning in March, when they took up their own version of Gov. Granholm's proposal. As described in Capitol Confidential at the time, several GOP Senators who have been recipients of MEA campaign cash and endorsements caused the removal of several reforms recommended by the Governor but opposed by the union.

This was unfortunate, because the measure cannot become law unless it is also approved by the MEA-friendly Democrats who control the House. Anticipating tough bargaining to come, rather than "negotiate with themselves" the Senate majority should have been staking out the strongest possible bargaining position. By doing just the opposite, GOP Senators ensured that the ultimate price for any reform would be much higher. Perhaps so high that the final bill is not worth adopting.

That's what appears to be happening now. In the words of Senate Majority Leader Mike Bishop, House Democrats have received their "marching orders" from the experienced teacher's union negotiators. Predictably, they not only tossed out all but one of the proposed reforms, but also loaded up the measure with "poison pill" anti-reforms. (See sidebar below for a full list of each side's provisions.)

Some of these House additions were "throw-aways," bargaining chips the MEA didn't really expect to get but could nevertheless use to cancel out something the other side wanted. A provision to force charter schools to enroll their employees in the underfunded defined-benefits pension system probably was one of these.

Other items appear to be real demands that carry huge long-term price tags, especially the one converting the non-obligation of retiree health benefits into an enforceable obligation and genuine taxpayer liability. As the process has unfolded it has become apparent that this is the real "pound of flesh" the MEA is demanding as the price of a modest 3 percent increase in employee pension contributions, which was the centerpiece of Gov. Granholm's original proposal.

The MEA is probably the most politically powerful special interest in this state. It all but "owns" the Democratic majority in the state House, and has a partial stake in the Republican-controlled Senate majority caucus as well. The union is also a world-class bargaining-table champ, for decades having rolled-over the amateur school boards of Michigan's 551 school districts, securing fringe benefits that far exceed private sector norms, and salaries that now make our teachers the highest paid in the nation relative to the income of the state taxpayers who support their salaries.

Compared to the MEA's bargaining savvy, the political careerists who comprise the Senate Republican caucus are relative amateurs at this game. That would explain late reports suggesting that they may now be negotiating the terms of a surrender of the state's flexibility in altering retiree health benefits — a provision that was not part of Gov. Granholm's original proposal.

GOP Senators will probably challenge this characterization, but statements suggesting that the measure will probably get more votes from Senate Democrats than Republicans undercuts their denials.


Sidebar: Blow-By-Blow of Pension Reform Negotiations

January 29: Gov. Jennifer Granholm proposes a modest pension reform package for school employees that includes:

•Increase of 3 percent in employee pension contributions
•Boost by 6.6 percent the cash pension benefits of eligible employees who retire this summer (which saves money [in the short term] by replacing high-salary veterans with [initially] lower-paid new hires)
•Prohibit employees from accumulating more than 30 years of service credit toward the calculation of their pension allowance, starting on Oct. 1, 2010
•Eliminate post-retirement vision and dental coverage for school employees who retire after Oct. 1, 2010
•Increase the retirement age for newly-hired school employees (but not replace the traditional "defined benefits" system with a defined-contribution 401[k] one)
March/Early April: Senate Republicans initially favor a substitute that contained all the governor's provisions except for the 6.6 percent early retirement "sweetener." However, as described in the April 2 Capitol Confidential, several GOP senators who have been the beneficiaries of MEA campaign cash and endorsements balked (see "School Pension Reform Stalls in Senate"). After weeks of "negotiating with itself," Senate Republicans finally agreed to, and the Senate passed, a bill that contained the following (bold print indicates rejected items or new demands):

•Increase of 3 percent in employee pension contributions
•NO 6.6 percent boost in cash pension benefits for eligible employees who retire this summer
•NO cap on the number of years employees can accumulate pension-boosting service credits
•NO elimination of post-retirement vision and dental coverage
•Increase the retirement age for newly-hired school employees
April 27: House Democrats reject the Senate version, and with just one Republican vote, pass one with the following:

•Increase of 3 percent in employee pension contributions
•13.3 percent boost the cash pension benefits of eligible employees who retire this summer
•NO cap on the number of years employees can accumulate pension-boosting service credits
•NO elimination of post-retirement vision and dental coverage
•NO increase the retirement age for newly-hired school employees
•Reduce the eligibility standard for the early retirement pension enhancement
•Force all charter school employees into the regular schools' defined benefit pension system, requiring charter operators to pay assessments that could force many to close their doors •Also force outside contractors who provide non-instructional services such as transportation, custodial and food services into the defined benefit pension system
•Allow some of the teachers who retire early to "double dip," collecting both a monthly pension and a paycheck for part-time work in the schools •Deposit the increased employee pension fund contributions into a segregated "irrevocable" trust fund to be used exclusively to pay retiree health benefits (rather than use the money to reduce school district contributions or bolster the underfunded pension fund), and declare these benefits to be contractual obligations
April 27 to Present: The Senate promptly rejected the House-passed version, and both sides appointed members to a conference committee to work out the differences. The current state of play is a moving target, but the latest reports indicate that the House has dropped the charter school provision, and is willing to dicker on the size and scope of the early retirement pension enhancement, but is fighting for health care prefunding and forcing third party school service contract employees into the pension system.

The Senate is also willing to dicker on the early-out pension enhancement, and may surrender on the health care trust fund in return for language stating that "in the aggregate" school retirees do have a contractual right to health care benefits, but not as individuals. What effect the distinction would make is unknown, besides assuring class action lawsuits rather than individual ones in the event of any benefits "haircuts." Either way, taxpayers would be on the hook for a new $25.9 billion liability.

More to come...

Sunday, May 9, 2010

BP box epic fail!

So,the BP box didn't work.Explanation?Ice crystals formed making it bouyant.Hmmm,I'm not buying.How about you?Let's see,the water temperature at the wellhead is 42 degrees farenheit.Seem cold enough for ice crystals?Doesn't seem like it,but I'm not a scientist and don't play one on tv.

What I do know is that there is extreme pressure down there.The water pressure is 2300 pounds per square inch.The oil pressure in the well itself coming from the macondo oilfield is estimated at 135,000-165,000 p.s.i.,with an estimated 1.8 billion gallons of oil still there.

BP is on record stating that a worst case scenario could result in a daily release of 6.8 million gallons of oil.Daily!This is if the 24 inch wellhead completely fails and it is being sanded away internally every minute of every day.The official estimate right now is still 210,000 gallons per day.How much is that?About an olympic sized swimming pool every 3 days.

If the worst case scenario plays out and we see the full 6.8 million gallons per day,we're in for about 264 days of that until the oilfield runs dry.That's about the end of January,2011.Again,this is the worst possible scenario and assuming they can't come up with any solution at all.

The explanation just sounds fishy to me.Oil is being ejected from the broken wellhead at 135,000 p.s.i. and they're saying that slushy ice crystals are accumulating at the top of the oil box?So much that it is floating?A box weighing over 100 tons?Wouldn't you think that pressure like that would simply blow any slush to Kingdom Come?I don't think we're being told the whole story here.More to come...