Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Tree Business

This is what we know.  The federal government has realized that we just aren't buying enough Christomas trees.  Don't ask about statistics or the logic to this.  They've determined that you just aren't buying enough.  So, the only way to fix this....is to promote Christmas trees more.

You'd naturally sit there for a while.....a Pabst Blue-Ribbon in your right hand and thinking about this situation while gazing at the fireplace.  You've bought some Christmas tree from Marvin's Tree Farm down the road for twenty-two years.  Most folks on your street have bought from Marvin.  A couple of folks bought their tree via the cheapo caged area at Piggly Wiggly.  A few folks bought their trees from Hector's Christmas Land....down by the Latino restaurant.  Some might have even gone to Wal-Mart and bought those cheapo trees from Idaho which have a funny smell...like body order.

But then you start thinking about Uncle Karl.....who has a tree but never talks about where he bought it.  Maybe Karl just drove off into the woods and cut it down....because it does look and appear like some plain old pine tree.  He is pretty cheap you know.  Then you start to consider that there are eighty thousand folks in the state who think like Uncle Karl....and might just be cheating on the Christmas tree business....cutting freely and never buying.

Eventually, your pondering will lead to this thought process.  When the government determined that more promotion was necessary and they paid some media production company from Beverly Hills around eight million to make this fine Christmas tree video....they had to come up with cash.

Then you start to dig into this whole promotion thing....it all leads back to a 15-cent Christmas tree "fee".  The Department of Agriculture is very clear about this business....it's not a tax.  It may feel like a tax, but it's not.  Tree sellers will pay 15 cents on every tree they sell.  You, the buyer, will pay the 15 cents.  It leads back to some government program, where the money is used to funnel into a promotion program.

By this point, you've opened the seventh Pabst, and thinking just how will you increase folks buying more Christmas trees.  As the eighth and ninth Pabst go down....you eventually give up and fall asleep.  Frankly, there ought to be a logic here, but it's kinda like believing in Santa Claus.   You just have to accept certain things, and just give up on reality.

So as you march off into the woods this December, and cut down some neighbor's pine tree from his back forty acres.....rest assured, you didn't contribute 15 cents to any stupid promotion program.  And maybe this will all make perfect sense.

UPDATE: Strangely enough....they stopped the fee business.  I guess they found there was enough media coverage of Christmas trees already.

A November Hike

Hiking in November?  Imagine talking up this topic with a dozen buddies, and getting onto this idea of hiking 240 miles over a two-week period.  From the whole state of Alabama?  If this were May....you'd have five hundred volunteers....but in November...in the midst of the start-up of winter, and the NCAA season?  I doubt if you could find eight guys willing to do something like this.

The topic came up with the Occupy New York City crowd.  Their plan?  March from the private park that they've taken over....Zuccotti Park.....to Washington DC.  They intend to leave today (Wednesday) and make this trip in fourteen days.  How many folks?  Well....the media control over this says a "small" group.  My humble guess is twelve folks....maybe up to twenty.

The amusing part to this story is the hint....ever so slightly....that more will join along the way.  Once you hear that comment, you can imagine a hundred buses already rented, and prepared to carry fifty people each from various regions around the east coast.  So around the last twenty-four hours of this march.... suddenly five thousand folks appear out of nowhere, and descend up on Washington in this hiking trip.  You can imagine a bulk-up plan in the works, with another twenty thousand folks from the Washington region (count up your university folks as part of the crowd)...to make this a highly entertaining afternoon watching them gather via news journalists.

The word "scripted" comes into play here.  This is almost like a WWE wrestling event....where the bad guy beats up the good guy, and some old retired wrestler comes out of the darkness to save the good guy.

The trail that the guys have to wander upon?  The Appalachian Trail.  This area between New York City and Washington is routinely safe.  Heading south out of DC, or north out of New York City....I'd have a fairly different opinion.  You never wander this trail alone, and preferably you have a group of four as a minimum.  Folks disappear on this trail.  Folks get murdered on this trail.  So it's not exactly a simple trek.

The dozen making the walk?  I'm taking a pretty good guess that they were recruited and have a reputation of hiking a hundred miles in four days.  You won't find anyone with zero experience on this hiking crew.  Their march?  Likely to be covered by some wannabe journalist who walks along and does interviews.  It'll be like a reality series on BRAVO.  When 'Little Joe' talks anti-capitalism on the trail....you listen.  When 'Marvin from Wisconsin' talks the evil of oil on the trail....you listen.  When 'Wanda from Colorado' talks the evil banks....you listen.

In a way, we've come to a point in American history where naive folks are handcuffed to some topic, and given a five-star wrestling script....where the only guy to emerge eventually from the shadows to save the good wrestler being beat up....is President Obama.  And at that point.....you might just start laughing that reality has become so bogus.

What May Come

It was an odd comment by an odd political figure.  Senator John McCain came out and strongly suggested that a third political party could be on the verge of occurring.  The propulsion for this situation would be the delusions of Washington politics on American society.  As he figured....both angry Republicans and Democrats would just walk away from their parties.  

About every forty years in America, there is this effort which rarely gets beyond a one-time candidate for President.

If some group really wanted to shake up American politics....settle upon four states....preferably from the west (I suggest Arizona, Montana, Colorado, and Idaho).  Pick out forty mayor positions throughout the four states and aim to win at least a dozen.  Do the same for city or county council seats....a ten to twenty- percent win).  Aim for the governor's positions.  Build on the state population and try to get forty percent of the state in a mindset that the third party is the best option.  Then run your own Presidential candidate only in those four states.

Here is the end result.....your third party has four states with their electoral votes.  The Republican and Democratic Presidential candidate have to figure out how to win the Electoral College, with only forty-six of the states in play.  If you can't get to the 270 votes....the Electoral College closes, and you launch into Congress (for President only) and the Senate (for VP only).  Toss in the fact that your third party has at least two Senators in the mix, and perhaps six House members.....and suddenly things are forcing the Democrats and Republicans to think differently.

What's the reality here?  Cain can't win in 2012.  Neither can Rick Perry.  So you get stuck with Mitt Romney....who just can't stir up more than two-thirds of the Republican Party and maybe half the Independent vote.

As you get closer to the election and health-care law start-up....more companies will see the light of dumping their provided health-care package for employees, and just pay the government their simple fee.  Workers who had health-care packages for thirty years suddenly wake up and launch into angry situations.  The President would like for them to blame the Republicans and vote for Democratic House members to "fix" the problem.  Half the public doesn't believe the President's blame game, and interest in 2013 for a third party becomes a major possibility.

I hate admitting John McCain may have a point.....but maybe it's the one time in thirty years that he was actually right.

An Introduction to the One Percent

While various publications and wannabe news media folks walk around and talk up the 99-percent angle to the real people of America.....you might want to know.....who the heck are the one-percent.  The Cato Institute went out and gathered some numbers, which you might be curious about.

The vast number of millionaires in America....near eighty percent.....didn't get their money from dad or the family.  It is shocking because fifty years ago....the numbers wouldn't have likely matched up.  These are people who took risk, worked out an idea or product, and did something fairly unusual.  They weren't idiots or mad men.

The bulk of this one-percent crowd?  Around thirty-odd percent are this group of folks who simply invented something or developed something.  They managed their situation to the top and became a millionaire.  They made specialized stores.  They invented great pizza chains.  They invented computer games.

Somewhere down the line....you've got another group who were doctors.  Roughly fifteen percent fall into this category.  We can talk about the unfairness of medical costs in America, and how it relates to these guys getting filthy rich.  The truth is that some were boob doctors and simply sold bigger boobs to women.  Some were fancy talkers who convinced dopers and drinkers that they needed a fancy recovery center in Arizona where  they could spend $50k over four weeks while in rehab.   Some were smart and figured out how to remove body fat, and wanted $5k for a one-hour episode.  Some guys worked up a fancy cancer clinic in Phoenix where results were great, but you needed $80k to get the fifteen-percent better chance of survival.  Some offered up great weight reduction camps, where you could lose 25 pounds for $5k over one month.

Out there are the lawyers, engineers, scientists, and professionals who account another fifteen percent.  They learn how to sue properly and demand huge payoffs.  Then you had the guy who figured out a way to build a bridge where there shouldn't have been a bridge.  There was the guy who figured out a way to bring on-line speeds up to a point where real lusty video could be delivered to farms in Mississippi finally.  You've got the guy who figured out solar energy.

And finally, there was the two-percent crowd of this massive group of millionaires....who gave you updated versions of cowboy westerns, Lost, daily soap operas, talk radio, talk TV, Brittney Spears, professional wrestling, country music, and dimwitted English actors who pretend to act but they just can't do anything other than one character.  Then there's the basketball wannabe guy who signed a $40 million contract but loses every penny by age thirty when his talent drys up and he's sent away from the team.  Count in the various second-basemen around the major leagues who barely last ten years in the majors and never showed much talent, but actually did have a contract for a three year period for $2.5 million a year.  There's the loser quarterback who a team guessed on, but developed weed issues by season three and just walked away from football with just barely $1 million left to his name.

At some point....you will have to start thinking long and hard about this one-percent crowd.  Some of them lose their momentum and within weeks or months of achieving their status....have lost everything.  The one-percent crowd is anything but stable.  They are full of absolute risk.  Gains are measured on a hour-by-hour basis....as is losses.

When the 99-percent crowd stands there and wants to attach themselves to the wealth of the one-percent....you might to ask some stupid questions.  Do you want sixty-percent of the money that a third-basement from Detroit takes in?  Do you want to take sixty-percent of the money that some software guru takes in....so he doesn't move onto the next project next year....and instead delays technology by two years while he grows capital out of thin air?  Do you want to take sixty-percent of the money that weight-loss doctor takes in....when he might be taken into court at any moment for accidentally killing a patient?

Last year when I moved to Washington....I had to go out and buy three decent pairs of shoes...mostly decent shoes that you could walk in.  The three pair I bought?  They all come from outside of the US.  Kind of amazing?  I had to buy a dozen long-sleeve and short-sleeve white shirts (Wal-Mart, Pennys, Kohl, Landsend, and Target).....which I discovered later that all twelve were made outside of the US.  The eight pairs of pants I bought?  All made outside of the US.

The TV I bought last year?  Manufactured outside of the US.

The ninety-nine percent crowd might want to start viewing this grand view of new America.  Their money is going overseas.  Are they interested in going after non-American millionaires as well?  Natural gas production increasing outside of the US....yes.   Car part production increasing in Mexico....yes.  

The naive nature of the ninety-nine percent crowd makes you wonder if they actually live in the US or grasp how things really work.