Wednesday, 17 October 2012

The Non-Existent $330

I'm the guy in our military organization, who monitors the GPC....the Government-Purchase-Card (our fancy VISA-card).  We get a budget each year in October, and have until the end of September to spend that budget.  On 1 Oct, whatever remaining on that card.....is mostly lost....it no longer exists.  That's the way that the federal government works.

Well....a funny thing happen this week.  The US Banks folks....who run our GPC....came out and gave a rebate of $330-odd bucks.  They gave it to us on 10 October.

I thought....great.  We need to buy some pens and paper, and the real FY2013 budget has yet to clear up.  So we have $330 on that account that could be spent.

Not so fast, says the budget gal.....that's all old money, and it no longer can be used in the new finance year.

I sat there...in shock.

Thousands of organizations have this GPC, and an account.  They all got a rebate around the first week of October.  Some might be ten bucks....some might be a thousand bucks.

As the money flowed in....it's non-existent.  I can't use it.  The US government can't use it.  You can't even buy toilet paper with it.

There's millions of rebate money that we could use....but you can't use it.

I sat there...thinking....there are a thousand things wrong with the federal government.  If they'd given me the rebate money on 25 September.....I would have spent it.  They didn't.  They just held it, and it disappeared.  I can't even give it back to Congress to hand out as a free gift for unemployed people in America.  That's the sad thing about this.

The Debate

There are three observations I can make from last night's debate.

First, after thirty minutes (I did keep flipping back to the Tigers-Yankees game every six minutes....I admit that)....I came to feel like the positive attitude that the President demonstrated (180-degree improvement)....sure did look like a guy who gulped down a couple of Five-Hour containers of caffeine. The President looked all peppy and totally different from the first debate.  Either he was on downers for the first debate, or on some caffeine enhancement drink for this episode (a six-pack of Mountain Dew works too).

Second, Candy (the moderator).....did the best she could.  Thirty years ago....there was a hundred great journalists in America who could stand at the podium and mange these two guys, and slap down the Republican guy without looking like an idiot.  Today, I doubt if there's more than five journalists left in America with the talent of taking on Romney or Ryan, and acting like a real journalist.  We've accepted weaker journalism as part of CNN or the New York Times.  Candy was doing the best that you could expect, and it just wasn't worth discussing afterwards.

Third, pound for pound....I thought Romney was mostly even with the President.  No obvious winners.  Except for the Detroit Tigers.

What's left?  One debate....which the President would have to give a five-star performance to flip independent voters into another direction.  The whole mess now is tied to independents, and I think they've been shocked over how much weight their vote will carry in this election.  Oh, and the Tigers?  They are whipping the New York Yankees and their mighty $100 million line-up.  The better show was actually with the Tigers last night.  

Our Economic Anchor of Reality

Generally....socialism is valued in Europe, and tends to the mechanism of almost every single government there.  Most will admit....it's a socialism-lite model that they use....simply carving off the a few pieces and trying to appease the public with "free stuff".  The public in Europe likes this concept and generally never  complains.

This past month, you can view various problems going on in Europe....between Greece, Spain, Italy, and France.....and there's some discontent. The socialism lite model....probably has burned up as much fuel as it can, and there's no map or direction for political folks to head toward.

So you come to the five significant issues around socialism-lite.

First,  if you as a society or government....start talking legislation as a vehicle to crank up prosperity, and you start with the idea that the wealthy has to give up measurable amounts of their prosperity, for society to move....it's a virtual guarantee of failure for your legislation.  With the exception of Robin Hood....there's no point in history where society cranks up prosperity by starting with the rich as part of the problem.  Do your research, but there simply isn't such an example to discuss.

Second....when you assign a value to work....say "X".....then someone has to earn it or make it....for it to exist.  When you dictate "X" has to be divided up amongst two folks....it means that one guy made up "X", and the other guy didn't.  If you have ten folks making up "X", and twelve folks enjoy "X" in the end....someone wasn't in the process or helping.  Folks tend to stand around after a while and notice this.  It's hard for someone to convince folks for the long-run....that your "X" has to be shared out.  Eventually, they will ask questions and make demands over how sharing will work.  Sharing....becomes a harsh reality at some point.

Third....to share out profits of society....a government has to eventually take from someone, in order that someone else can receive it.  This generally works as long as you make each "taking" a small minor issue. A cent or two on a gas tax, a cent or two on some registration fee, or some cents for temporary-add-on tax......you don't notice it and it's simple to convince you to accept it.  Four years later, you start to notice that you are $75 less a month on money in your pocket, and just don't know where that $75 went. As long as people don't notice each little money-game....sharing out the profits is simple.  Eventually, people start to ask stupid questions.

Fourth.  Briefly, if you had a wealth of $100....it cannot be multiplied in any fashion, by dividing it.  Economic professors will stand there for hours and tell you over and over....a $100 is a $100.  You cannot make it more, unless you take risks and invest it.

Fifth and final....once you broach the fifty percent point on taxes to the wealthy or middle-class....they will eventually ask why bother with their efforts or risks?  It might take ten, twenty, or thirty years.....but a guy who works, and gives up more than half of his income....won't see any incentive to continue.  So the government who thinks significant taxation....even on the rich....has no impact....are simply lying to themselves in the end.

To some degree...almost every single government in the world has moved onto a socialism-lite model.  Even the US has some features of socialism-lite in existence today.  Some societies might tweak it and run lighter than usual.....some heavier than usual.  The inherent problems are like an anchor....it limits life to some degree.  If you like the limits.....keep going.  If you want something extra out of life.....you might have to look at change.

A Squirt or Two

Cops came up in Connecticut....noticing someone driving with issues apparently.  They pull the gal over, and eventually arrest her. DWI.

The thing is....which she admits....she had gotten drunk off hand sanitizer.  Yep, the stuff you buy at Wal-Mart or Piggly Wiggly.....in fear of getting germs at work and you constantly rub your hands with the stuff to kill bugs.

The alcohol content?  It's roughly seventeen percent.  The cops figure she had about half a bottle.....to get into the state of drunkenness that she was in.      You can generally buy a 40 oz bottle of the stuff for roughly $4.  A bottle of Jack Daniels?  You can figure around $18.

The TV station that related this story (the WTNH folks).....figured up the consumption level, and she had roughly 32 shots of booze, for $2.

A guy could look over this event and ask some pretty deep questions.  Just how safe is hand sanitizer to drink?  Will it destroy your gut?  Should we card folks who buy the stuff?  If real alcoholics figure this out....could they destroy the value of booze throughout America....by buying $4 bottles of hand sanitizer?

Years ago....I had to go off to Gulf Storm, and a general rule was issued.....no booze in the war front.  It was a shocker to a number of guys who suddenly flew into a place and they couldn't have the daily six-pack of beer or half-a-bottle of Jim Beam.  The Air Force had to immediately start rehab (while at the deployment site) for dozens of NCOs.  At some point, it was commented that some guys had figured out the use of gargle, or mouthwash.....would give you a buzz.  Course, it was also quickly pointed out that it'd mess up your stomach big-time.  That didn't really stop guys from using the stuff though.

The comical side of this is that some minister will read this story, and make a whole sermon up this weekend that parents need to observe their kids, and their potential use of hand sanitizer.  It might be a terrible thing to abuse.   Heck, you might end up on Doctor Phil one day....admitting to your use of hand sanitizer.