Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Republican Party

I'm not sure I believe in the old two-party system Republican and Democrat. Either party seems to be a blend of the other. The democrats were tax and spend, today they are spending a great deal, but I'm not sure they have a choice. The Republicans used to stand for individual rights, now they want to tell women they have no choice, they want to tell gays they have no rights. It seems the the Moral Majority, which it isn't, wants to dictate, rule, and subjugate citizens to some moral code that flies in the face of reality. I've always admired the strength of the Catholic religion. I have always thought the Pope foolish, abstain, do not practice safe sex. We're fouling the nest here for cripes sake. It seems that passing legislation that outlaws abortion flies in the face of a fundamental precept of Christianity, free will. They get down on their knees and get up and go into bars.

I am so disappointed in the Republican party. They seem to be populated and lead by a bunch of braying asses who seem to enjoy showing their keen wit and how they can shout down their opponent as opposed to providing stimulating conversation that will broaden and enhance decisions that may make life better. I say Flush Rush. He smells like Limbaughger Cheese. Arlen Specter changed parties for no other reason that to try to save his political skin. Isn't that what politicians do. Term limits prevent that outlandish maneuver. I say term limit them all. That is a movement I would get behind and I wish we could get it through the several states. Remove the "good old boys and gals." Lets get fresh stuff, then before it festers and molders replace it with more fresh stuff. I could handle that idea.

State Farm Insurance

I cannot give you an endorsement, nor can I be critical of State Farm. I have never had a homeowners claim in my life, and I've had several car accidents, but those were years ago. I do know that my treatment during my recent experience has been excellent.
We've had a mobile home, a manufactured home is the parlance, for 17 plus years just out the back door of our log cabin. It was purchased when Terry and I got married to provide a home for her kids as our log cabin was not large enough. It has been empty for a number of years now and provides a refuge for Terry when I'm watching football in the fall, or for me if Terry's into one of her old movies I'm not into. Guests stay in the trailer as it has two nice bedrooms and provides a significant amount of privacy and comfort for those infrequent visitors.

My daughter Jenny and Granddaughter Lindsey last stayed in the trailer over Easter weekend earlier in April. Several weeks before their visit I had replaced the kitchen faucet and had installed a new type of connection fitting. I didn't like the fitting. It is a compression type and I saw no positive restraint to the pvc supply hose, however I got it to work and it held for about a month until sometime in the middle of the night.

I woke this morning, 4/29/09 at 5 AM and headed downstairs to make coffee. I heard a loud gushing sound that was not rain. I opened the back door and heard the water pouring out of the trailer. I know right away what had happened. I shut the water off to the trailer and came back in and made coffee. Terry got up and we started to move stuff and vacuum up water using an old shop vac that I've had for some 35 years. The little vac sucked up water quite well. However, when I shut the vac off to empty it I discovered it had two little leaks in the bottom from years of use. As long as the vacuum was on the water stayed in. As soon as I shut the water off it gushed out. Terry emptied the cupboards. Then she found her floor scrubber and used that to suck up water from the kitchen.

I went to Lowe's and bought a new shop vac that would just about suck up the world. Then I called State Farm. The local agent's office was closed, however I got a message center that logged in my information and entered a claim number for me. Since that time the service has been excellent. Jason, the State Farm rep provided me with the name of a "mitigation" service that is here now tearing out carpeting and flooring to dry the place out. State Farm will pick that tab up, less my deductible of course. The adjuster should be out in a few days to evaluate the damage and then we will go from there.

Some tips about homeowners insurance for a manufactured home. Homes over 5 years old will not be insured for replacement value. State Farm will only pay off on the cash value of the home. However, I greatly underestimated the value of my home. I had thought it would be just a couple of thousand dollars. I did an little internet search and found some mobile homes that were older than mine and were for sale for $10-15K. The value of my policy is $29K. I thought about canceling the policy at first, but then I thought about reducing the policy down to an estimated cash value. I did neither. As a result, State Farm will make repairs to the home in the amount of the insure value, not the cash value. So it looks like I will get new flooring, carpeting, etc for the cost of my deductible.

This does leave one with a quandary. I've been paying over $500 annually for the insurance. I've felt that it was over priced for a trailer, excuse me, manufactured home. I had to maintain the insurance as the trailer was part of the collateral on my property for mortgage purposes. When I paid off the property I was considering canceling the policy. In fact, I had told my insurance agency to go ahead and cancel it. Then, as an after thought I realized I had a home equity line of credit with the property as the collateral. So I called the insurance agency and left a message because I did not know if I had to carry insurance for the line of credit. As a result, the lady I work with at the agency did not execute the cancellation order. Whew!

The other quandary though is, should you maintain your insurance policy at a higher value than the cash value of the trailer? It does not make good business sense, and I'm not sure I still understand the philosophy of State Farm that says if the trailer is destroyed they will pay off cash value, but if repaired they will pay of the face value of the policy. Regardless, I'm very happy no action was taken on the policy. It looks like we will come out OK.

I would say State Farm has done a good job and I appreciate it.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

UAW Woes

To listen to the automotive unions you'd think their members were being disenfranchised. I do believe that the realization has set in that the lucrative, draining contracts the UAW built into the automotive industry are no longer viable. I have a lot of experience with the UAW. The workforce in plants I've worked in for 25 years were represented by the UAW. Their philosophy and gains that they achieved in the automotive industry were also part of the agriculture industry. Just imagine, a person gets laid off from his job and receives supplemental pay that amounts to 95% of his average hourly earnings while unemployed. I call that vacation. Just how long did the members think that golden goose would lays its eggs, and how can you say you deserve such largess for no effort.

The vast majority of Americans do not have the benefits the automotive industry employees enjoy. It is not an entitlement. Mismanagement, union pressure and the economy have exposed the iceberg. The heat of the economy is melting it down. Frankly, the rest of us Americans will be better off if the competitive pressures in the system are allowed to function and the market readjusts its level of consumption and forces prices down. People will get hurt in the short run but that is the system that works best to prevent excess waste and erosion of will. Don't feel too bad for those automotive people, after all just how long do you think life lasts?

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Shut Up Cheney

I am a Republican. Dick Cheney disgusts me. Shut up Dick, go chase spot, see Jane run. Quit acting like an idiot, it simply serves to confirm the obvious, you are.

A Classical Gas

There is a song from the "Big Band" days called Night Train. It has some oowaa trombones in it. This morning cooking breakfast I let a fart that had that perfect oowaa sound. It made me think of the song Night Train, which immediately led me to Dick "Night Train" Lane a defensive back for the Detroit Lions back in the 50's and early 60's. He was a fearsome player and loved the song thereby coming to the nickname of "Night Train" Lane. It is strange where a fart can take you.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Miss USA Contest

I just read where Miss California has been criticized for her comments about gay marriage. I read her comments. She clearly stated she did not mean to offend anyone but she was raised to believe that marriage is just between a man and a woman. It is a shame that this person cannot express her beliefs without criticism. I support gay rights, without question. However, I also support an individual's right to believe in a manner that may be different than mine. As long as those beliefs do not harm me or tamper with my life then people can have a belief system I would not adopt. Yet this person was criticized for what the article states were her personal beliefs. Shame on our society for condeming persons for standing for their values system.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Extremes have one thing in common

Recently an extremely conservative South Carolina TEA party booed a congressman from that state for voting for the "bailout" bill. He was booed constantly and loudly for the entire time he tried to speak. Extreme liberals have derided so called conservatives and booed them loudly and vehemently trying to shout down different ideas and fixating on humiliating those who disagree with their point of view.

They all have one thing in common: They are all asses!

Good Things

Susan Boyle, need I say more. I've watched that video half a dozen times. I've read the stories on CNN about her. She is a whole lot more intelligent that we give her credit for. Her reason for singing the song she did on the British version of American Idol was it played to her wish to become a professional singer. Her frumpy look and awkward mannerisms make her an endearing character and I hope she never loses that. She also said on Larry King yesterday, that she does not feel like she will experience loneliness anymore. I hope she doesn't. I hope she gets a recording contract. I will buy a CD just to support her and her pluck. Way to go Susan!!!

Fear Rules

Some months ago I was reading a report by an organization that tracks first mortgages, not first time mortgages, but mortgages on our primary residence. At the time there were roughly 51 Million first mortgages outstanding, of which about 3.4 Million were at risk or in foreclosure. That is less than 10%. I thought then, that if these mortgages were folded into the investment instruments that are considered toxic, then the exposure to the investor is really minimal, unless most of the bad mortgages ended up in one investment security which would be unlikely. The rule that forced investment firms to write down their investments should they be considered excessively risky was not a good rule, and I believe the government has rescinded that rule. Regardless, the investments supporting the underlying debt load were too bad.

What became bad was when financial institutions were forced to write down these securities as the housing bubble burst. The balance sheets of our largest financial institutions, not only in this country, but around the world became suspect and then began the run. So what about now?

Yes, foreclosures have gone up dramatically. There are several reasons, one is that mortgages were approved for people who were poor credit risks. Another reason is that as the home values plummeted in some areas people became upside down on their mortgages and could not get refinanced because they were now a credit risk, the underlying collateral didn't support the loan value, and banks were unwilling to take a hit on the value of the mortgage so no refinancing was available to those who needed it. There were those unscrupulous firms and/or persons who rushed loans through, committed fraud and deception, or out right lied to persons wanting to buy a home and got high risk mortgages approved. We still fall for the lure of "easy" money.

I have long maintained that our economy is in trouble because of perception. A lot of the jobs that have disappeared should've, real estate brokers, mortgage originators, financial analysts and securities brokers. I think a whole bunch of other spongers should be gotten rid of and the idea of actually working and creating objects of value be reinstated.

There are signs the economy is turning. I do hope the overvalued homes have shaken out, although I have a feeling home prices have not fallen enough yet. However, home sales have started to perk up. Yes, many of the homes being bought are foreclosures being snapped up for investment or by those who can afford the distressed prices. To build the strength of our economy on the practice of building newer and more expensive homes to replace smaller and very adequate homes simply to service a life style is not sound economy. It has to stop someplace, and perhaps it did. It was not the majority of the population that put our economy in the toilet, it was the minority and they should be accountable, instead we all pay.

Bunch of bullshit if you ask me.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Federalist Papers

I am struggling through the Federalist Papers. I've been at it off and on for about a year. There are over eighty letters each describing some facet of the proposed Constitution of the United States some 230 years ago. It is a project I wanted to do for a long time. I have felt we, Americans, do not study or know much about the roots of out country. I've read a history book about the Revolutionary War and now am tackling the Federalist Papers. It is a daunting task. I am not accustomed to the language and legalistic arguments used. The way ideas are expressed seem a little grandiose and are difficult for me to follow. I have a hard time staying with the thoughts being expressed as they tend to be arguments used to explain the intent of the document creators in the development of the Constitution. I read one letter and I can't recall the content. I am getting the general impression of things but the effort is taxing. I may read a few letters over the course of several evenings, then put it down for a month while I read for entertainment. However, I am determined to push my way through and I hope then to study the material a little to see if I can grasp the intent a little more firmly.

At this point I am convinced the Federal Government has grown in way and size never intended by the framers of the constitution. It is also evident that the state legislators were intended to elect the President and the Senate, the Legislature was the only body to be directly elected by the people. I don't know if that arrangement would've been workable over the long haul and perhaps the evolution of direct election of all of those offices would be too much to hope for, but it is clear that the will of the people is paramount. This is not the case today.

I shall continue my quest. I am only one man and must admit my ability to influence the political animal that towers over us is minimal, but I do believe that the citizenry of this country have an obligation to be informed, aware, and involved in our political process. I do not feel that is the situation today, and we are paying for it by a Congress that is bloated with special interests and does not reflect the will of the people.