Sunday, 27 November 2011

The Toilet Paper Scheme

This is what we know.....a couple of folks down in Florida came up with this scheme to use on old folks....which basically involved them visiting the house and announcing that they had septic tank problems.  The only way to fix this....was to use special toilet paper.

So the three guys involved in this scheme sold what amounted to what cops figured.....as a seventy year collection of toilet paper to these old guys.

I sat there for a while....trying to contemplate what a seventy-year stash of toilet paper would add up to.  I'm guessing enough to fit into the back of a pick-up truck, for one guy.  I can imagine this scene....Joe sells Aunt Maude this entire pick-up truck load of toilet paper for thousands of dollars.  The guy shows up....dumps the toilet paper off, and rides off into the sunset.

I have to admit, it is a pretty good scheme, and ten percent of folks would actually buy this story without any problem.  Forty guys from Louisiana will read this....ride to Wal-Mart tonight....and buy some fancy toilet paper and try to repeat the same trick.  By Christmas.....we'll see thousands of guys in jail....over septic tanks and toilet paper.

The Slavery is OK Mentality

It was an odd moment on the Sunday political chat circuit.

Christian Amanpour is talking to former General Powell, and says: "I get your point about heat and light, but what about the fact that, in fact, it is one of the political parties, although -- or rather the big political influence, which is the Tea Party, which quotes left and right the Founding Fathers? They say compromise is a dirty word, and they try to point to the Founding Fathers and the Constitution".

Then General Powell has this odd statement to make about the Tea Party: "They compromised -- the Founding Fathers compromised on slavery. They had to in order to create a country. They compromised on the composition of the Senate, of the House, of the Supreme Court, of a president -- what are the president's powers? Can you imagine more difficult compromises today?  Compromise is how this country was founded, and unless two people in disagreement with each other don't find a way to reach out to one another and make compromises, you don't get a consensus that allows you to move forward.  But the Tea Party point of view of no compromise whatsoever is not a point of view that will eventually produce a presidential candidate who will win".

I sat there for about five minutes in a daze....trying to see some logic here.  The best I can glean from his comments is that slavery was perfectly ok, as long as you were starting out the United States and standing against the King.  The problem with this statement is that most people....when confronted with this logic....would say it's about the most stupid thing that any educated guy could ever say.

Slavery is legit and perfectly good.....to start a country up.   But Tea Party folks are perfectly bad for making a stand, no matter what their logic is.  Pretty stupid....if you ask me.

I usually don't say nothing for the Tea Party folks.  I'm kinda neutral.  I don't see their attitude as being negative, but I don't see them accomplishing much in the end.

Then occasionally, some dimwit stands up in the media....claiming think-tank status....saying something pretty stupid.  You get the impression that they simply don't like Tea Party folks under any circumstances.  Sadly, I get that impression with General Powell.  I'm guessing he really doesn't care much for tax reforms or for cutting any government funding.  He wasn't very clear about these parts of the Tea Party.  I'm guessing he probably doesn't want to comment much because he'd look even more stupid than he does currently.

So a lesson into history.  If you had gone to New York or any of the colonies before the Declaration of Independence....you would have found a vast and strong moral feeling against slavery among the public from the northern colonies.  I would speculate as much as nine-to-one on this issue amongst the voting public (men).  The comical side of this is that the voters didn't really have a say on this issue.  The elected officials sent to represent the state....made the decisions....and simply did what General Powell suggested.  They found various ways to accept slavery....even if their voting public didn't agree with it.

The problem is that years passed, and the voting public reached a point where they simply weren't going to accept this attitude anymore.  Congress and the Senate could have continued to play the current game that we have underway....and it wouldn't have mattered....the public would have sent people to DC to represent their attitude.  1860 elections invoked Tea Party values, and Lincoln came into office with a Tea Party-like order from the public.

Whatever was screwed up in 1776.....got fixed in 1860.  Maybe today's Tea Party merely has to wait eighty years for the right people to be sent to DC, and fix the tax and spend issue we have.  It's a sad suggestion to make.  But if you were General Powell....it makes perfect sense.

How the NBA is in Trouble

There are two ingredients to today's NBA financial mess.  Basketball, for all purposes....is a business at this level....not a sport.

The Chicago Bulls have eleven players on their rooster at present.  At the highest level is this guy....Carlos Boozer....who makes $13.5 million a year.  At the bottom level....is John Lucas, who makes $947k a year.  Half the players on the team are pulling in $4.5 million or less.

So you take this Lucas guy and analyze his situation.  He pays around forty percent of his income to state and federal taxes, plus property taxes and car taxes.  You carve off around $75k for his agent who did the deal.  At this point....he has around $450k in money.  Guys get silly and borrow a bit to buy a house, a boat, a car, etc....that they can't really afford.  By the end....Lucas likely has $250k a year that is really his own money.  But wait, we haven't discussed investments for the future.  Nor have we discussed the potential for an ex-wife or some kid that he while in college.  As the number eleven guy on the team....he's going to be lucky if he lasts around the league for seven years, and then what?

The Boozer dude?  Same story.  Except he's got forty folks coming up with investment schemes that promise twenty-five percent return....which are all bogus in some nature.  Or he buys into a sports bar that continually loses money.  Or he has a wife that plotting the take-over of half his income by age thirty.  Or he buys into a real estate deal which never matures.

In essence, the players are mostly all broke.  Some might find the right investment counselor and actually have a nifty portfolio by age thirty-five, and retire to some ski valley in Colorado to enjoy the rest of their life.  But out of five hundred possible players in the NBA, we are talking about twenty of those guys being that smart.

The second ingredient are the owners.  The big guys are owning teams in Boston, Philly and Atlanta.  Then you've got these teams out in San Diego, New Orleans, and Indiana....which are marginal.  The little guy teams are dependent on amazing deals with the arena, which the city cooks up to help them or hurt them.  Since they never go to the playoffs....there are fewer t-shirts bought and the appeal to the locals are less.  So you have owners who are proud and show up at fancy meetings in New York City, but the truth is that they are probably pocketing only ten million a year for a team that they had to pay $200 million for.

As most would calculate....it would only make sense to dump a number of teams and get back down to twenty teams (instead of the current thirty).  But you'd be dumping a third of all the players and all these built arenas would be worthless in towns like Milwaukee or Minnesota.  So everyone fixes up the mess as best as possible and proceeds on.  It's basically a lose-lose situation, with money showing up in everyone's pocket, but never enough to really survive reality.  

The Newt Statement

I listened to several hours on Wednesday of folks wanting to chat via talk-radio....over Newt and his immigration comment.

If you stand back and look at his comment.....he simply said that he'd find a way to help these Latino folks fit into the work situation but he really didn't say "citizenship" as part of the deal.  I think most folks missed the whole emphasis of what he suggested.  You'd get a work-visa, a Social Security number, and a chance to apply for citizenship like the other 100 million folks who were waiting in Africa, Russia, Thailand, or Canada.

For most Democrats....that's a lousy deal because they'd really like for these folks to have voting rights, which means you have to become a citizen.  But no one got much around to the bottom line to realize what Newt was offering here.  It really wasn't a bold plan or a huge offering.....you get a visa and keep working, with no vote.  My guess is that most Latinos would all be happy with this deal.  Most are smart enough to know they just wouldn't vote for either idiot political party.

I would imagine that forty million Americans are listening intently to talk-radio throughout the normal day and with most of this all geared toward a right-leaning guy.....they are getting this fair dose of enthusiasm to see things in a certain light.  The sad thing is that as you drive around the country....your choice of talk-radio is this, or NPR.  Frankly, after a while....you kinda tire of both.  And music-wise.....you kinda hit your limit after sixty minutes on the road.

My Trip

There are a couple of things I observed from this Thanksgiving trip to Bama.  First, the Crown Victoria is probably the best cross-country vehicle to ride in.  I admit....it does guzzle gas, but for comfort....it's five-star.  I admit that I could buy a car like this, but it carries an image or icon with the car....and that might be a problem.

I probably observed over fifty dead deer by the interstate as I traveled from Virginia to Bama, and back.  I'll admit....it kinda bothers me in a way.  I'm just glad that I didn't hit of them.

My dad ended up with some homemade dressing recipe from the Amish cookbook.  I had doubts over how it'd turn out....but frankly, it wasn't too bad.  Those Amish folks probably can cook a decent meal.

Finally, I sat in a Shoney's Bigboy this morning.  I ended listening in on a conversation of several ladies who were preparing for Christimas shopping later in the morning.  My impression from that talk was that the economy was bad but they were apparently spending the same amount of money....if not more....that they did last year.  And the niece who was unemployed?  She was getting some check from one gal to cover one month's rent.  The other gal had a son who was a month behind on his car payments.....and she was going to pay up that and an extra month's payment.  You can talk up the bad economic times, but folks are somehow finding ways to limp through it and make it to the better times.