Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Dollars and Sense Around DC

I won't go into a lot of details here.  When I arrived at the Pentagon....they eventually forced me to accept this mandatory "mask".  It came in a fancy bag with a shoulder strap.  We had to have training for this mask. The key rule was....don't remove the mask from the protective plastic taped covering, unless we were told to use it.

At the training episode....they pulled the mask out and showed this simplistic garbage bag-like mask that would fit over your head.  There was a filter, a battery, and a fan of some type.  Basically....you would be alerted that something had happened and you would don this mask.  You'd click the button and get roughly three hours of air being sucked through this filter deal.  The best that I could figure out.....it wouldn't help at all during a fire.  It wouldn't help with a air crash into the building because smoke would still come in.  It might help if you had a "dirty" nuke bomb by keeping the particles out of your lungs.  Yet, I kept looking at this three-hour limit....how would you escape DC in a big mess, with the transportation system?

Nothing made much sense about this mask and the fake nature of making you feel "safe".  The cost of the mask.....somewhere between $120-$150, if I remember correctly.

Today, we were told that the idiot mask was now basically null and void.  They would be collected over the next month, and we were just as safe as we were before.  Across the capital region....I'd be guessing that fifty thousand were bought.  Everybody had to waste thirty minutes on training with the thing as well.

I can see this situation at some local Army surplus sale.....two hundred pallets of these masks in nice fancy black bags.  Some Chinese guy bids $3k and gets the whole lot.  He stores them in some warehouse in Maryland for three years when suddenly a big risk episode comes up, with fear of a "dirty" nuke bomb.  The US government jumps up and says they need these funny masks ASAP.  The Chinese guy stands up and offers all the former masks at a cost of $50 million.  We buy them, and then ask what idiot agreed to this deal?

Nazi Debt

A little story.  Once upon a time, toward the end of 1941....the German government had major debt issues.  Among the top five skills that Adolph Hitler lacked....was any basic understanding of economics.  Germany was in a serious financial "pickle".  They would require some cash flow, that would have to come from beyond German borders.  Luckily, a Greek bank held 476 million Reichmarks (what came before D-marks).

The Bank of Greece had been around for approximately fourteen years.  The Reichmarks?  Based on various comments...they were held in Italy, and Italians ran the Bank of Greece in Italy.  The real leadership of the bank led back to Greece but the Axis Powers (Italy and Germany) had decided that they would appoint their own boss over what remained within their grasp.

So this loan was rigged up.  A Greek bank.  Italian and German lawyers.  Almost half a billion Reichmarks.   The government of Greece was never involved.  At best, you can say that the Bank of Greece was the offended party.  From this vast sum of money, you can also deduct that the vast majority came from deals where Germans bought something of Greek value (hotels, ships, property, etc).  It was huge sums of money from wealthy Germans paid to a wealthy Greek bank.

For all practical purposes, the Greek Bank should have come up in 1945 and said something.  They didn't. They could have put up a claim and within a decade....likely been paid.  But for some odd reason, never said a word.

So, the Greeks have awaken this week, and decided now to remember the whole episode.  Here when Germany was at their lowest point economically....and literally stole the money from the Bank of Greece....was a crime.

The money today?  You could use various figures for the interest since 1942 when the deal was concluded. The best one could imagine is at least one hundred billion dollars.  Maybe more, maybe less.

So Greece is sitting in a huge pit of a economic mess, and there's this debt issue in the minds of a few Greeks.  I'm guessing well over half today....have a absolute belief in that Germany owes Greece. A hundred billion would fix the Greek debt issue of today, and put them in a fantastic position.  The nifty part....it's not even a loan.

I sat and pondered over this.  At the end of the war, thousands of entities went and put claims against the government of Germany.  Even Jews put up claims.  But the Bank of Greece never put up a claim.  Why?

I wondered over this and then came to realize.....this Bank of Greece that sat in Italy....probably was a holding point for vast sums of money moving from Germans in the 1930s....likely to be a significant number of Jewish businessmen making international deals.  I would imagine that if you went to Greece and asked the head management about how much money was being held in their Italy location....they'd have no real idea.  Call it the "two-books" scheme or whatever....but I seriously doubt that any Greek government official or any Greek bank official fully grasped the loan, or the full purpose of the Bank of Greece in Italy.

They didn't put up the claim....simply because they didn't understand the situation.  Unlike today when auditors ran around to ensure compliance....it's doubtful that any Greek or Italian bank authority ever checked out the books.

There is a story here....but I suspect it's a lot deeper than the news people have figured out, and it's deeper than what the Greek Bank folks would want to admit.  And at the heart of this whole mess....Nazis.

In the Spirit of Occupy

This is the tenth day (as of the first) that Occupy Anchorage has been in effect.  To be kind of honest...winter has already arrived....snow sits on the ground....and any camping on the streets of Anchorage is considered illegal.  So the boys mostly kind of just stand around with signs and apparently swap out every couple of hours (my impression from news reports).  Adding to the episode is that fact that days are growing shorter in nature, and nights longer....so we are approaching this moment when there might be a couple of hours a day of sunlight, and you might not be able to notice the protesters unless you had a flashlight.

I checked out protests at Occupy Montgomery (my home capital) from a picture taken approximately ten days ago....and counted up a total of twenty-one folks.  I have to be honest....I can't be sure any or if all of them are actually Alabama citizens.  Also to be honest....probably at the optimistic level....less than ten percent of the folks from Bama have ever stepped foot on the steps of the capital building in Montgomery.   For most of us from the state....it's hard to connect Wall Street to the capital building of Montgomery.  We could understand connecting catfish, Pabst-Blue Ribbon, and possibly John Deere tractors....but Wall Street connected to Montgomery?

I checked reports of a Occupy Mobile crowd....and it does appear that at least three weeks ago....they had around forty folks hanging out in downtown Mobile.  Based on commentary in the news.....the organizers thought that more folks would come out, but I'm guessing most folks with leisure time were likely slugging down beers along the beachfront, or checking out the local Civil War fort.

I did some light research and found there were a couple of folks talking about Occupy Tupelo, Mississippi....but so far....no one had really jumped on the wagon.  Course, added to the issues here for Tupelo....we are still in the NCAA season and harvest efforts with soybeans and cotton.  Unless you can bus in some folks from New Jersey, I have doubts that this Occupy effort will ever take off.

For those who've never been to Barstow, California....it's kind of in the middle of this forbidden region between Vegas and LA.  Other than getting mentioned in the movie "1941" with John Belushi refueling his plane somewhere in the area....it's a forgotten region.  Based on newspaper accounts.....in the last week....some protesters were able to find Barstow, and run up a Occupy Barstow episode.    It did get mentioned in the local paper (the Desert Dispatch).....but they were careful to note that only a few people showed up (avoiding actual numbers being mentioned).  Few can mean two, a dozen, or twenty-odd folks.

Occupy Winslow, Arizona?  Yet to happen.

Occupy Sturgis, South Dakota?  Yet to happen.

Occupy Trinidad, Colorado?  Yet to happen.

I grew up in a small town in northwest Bama which shall go nameless.  There's a bank....one gas station....a Catfish Grill operation....and not much else.  The odds of a Occupy group showing up?  Zero.  The truth is that ninety-nine percent of American towns or cities won't have such operations show up.  So you have to turn on your TV and see these guys.

The truth is....we here in small-town America....are the 99-percent crowd.  We don't ask for much.  We don't expect an awful lot.  We operate with slow bandwidth.  We complain mostly about the short NCAA football season, the price of gasoline, the escalating cost of ammo, potholes, roadkill, dimwits who pretend to be Republicans but are really Democrats, dimwits who pretend to be Democrats but are really Republicans, supersized drinks at Wal-Mart costing more this year compared to last year, the amount of sweat required to dig up a septic tank, and that professional wrestling which has turned more into professional acting than actual fake-wrestling.

Here in small-town America....our 99-percent world revolves around beer, cheese, pork and gasoline arriving at our local area on time....along with three thousand other products....including pop-tarts.  We don't care how businesses do it, or how the banks run (as long as they run), or that greed is the essential function of this whole system. When you walk into Starbucks....you expect the coffee to be hot and ready to serve, and not held up on some donkey sitting along the hills of Peru while Juan discusses Marxism with Pedro.

Our connection to Wall Street?  Well....some guys might have bought Exon stock....mostly because some guy at work talked up oil stocks.  If you asked for a summary on Exon values and potential....we don't have much of an answer....we just have this "trust" in our mind....some type of confidence that it'll make money.

The Occupy crowd really aren't significant to us.  If they had a positive message...it might mean more.  Their message?  Mostly negative.  And when you start talking Marxism to the small-town 99-percent crowd....the message of Occupy falls apart.

So out there tonight are four Occupy guys....wondering if the Occupy Appleton, Tennessee concept has a chance.  The planning genius brings up the fact that Appleton is a bit off the paved road and requires several miles on a gravel road to reach the Red Store.  The common sense guy of the group will bring up the fact that less than twenty folks actually live in Appleton....but he's shot down quickly because the guys believe population density isn't a big deal.  The engineer among the group will bring up the fact that local support facilities like toilets and shelter aren't available, but then someone will mention the local creek providing water, and plenty of space for tents.  In the end.....someone will finally bring up a high ratio of snakes in the local area, and the guys will skip on Appleton.  When it comes down to spreading Marxism in a high-density snake area....it's best to pass.

Only in America.