Archive for February, 2010

A Celebration of Life

Wednesday, February 17th, 2010


US Wins Gold in Men's Figure Skating

As we have seen portions of the Olympic Games broadcast from Canada this week we have thought many times about the many talents that each person participating in the games has worked so hard to develop and use. In spite of the differences between cultures we have also seen a lot of comaraderie amonst the participants; more than I would have expected to see, especially at times between countries that have had less than friendly relationships in other venues. It reminds me of the 2002 Winter Games in Salt Lake City where there were concerts and other cultural events referred to as the “Cultural Olympiad” where music making and other fine arts were shared with the Olympic Audiences in the evenings. At the same time I have thought about a family who went on a local skiing trip last week and had to come home without their patriarch.

Stephen Rowley

Steven Rowley went with his family members to enjoy an evening of skiing, leaving his wife and one of his sons at home because they had other commitments. They never saw him alive again and the injuries that caused his death at age 52 are somewhat of a mystery. He was found unconscious somewhere on the hill with severe internal injuries and was not able to be revived by EMTs on the scene. We attended his funeral services today, which were a celebration of his life and that of his family. It was a combination of happy and sad as events which filled his life were explained and described. His family loves him and he loved them too. They will be alright but the pain and sorrow will take some time to overcome. We pray for them as well as others who may be in the same situation. The athletes at the Olympics did their best today. Some won gold medals, others with high expectations had unexpected issues and were out of the running even before the final events in their fields. Life is precious. We all need to look at the positive side of every situation and stop dwelling on negative things. The circumstances we find ourselves in, whatever they may be, could probably be worse than they are. Think of the people in Haiti. Many of them have lost absolutely everything. We need to be more grateful for what we have, including friends and family, homes, relative peace, health, and food.

Debris left on the freeway can be deadly

Monday, February 8th, 2010

We were on our way to St. George for the UMEA Convention about midnight Thursday night after choir rehearsal, hoping to get there soon enough to get a few hours sleep before having to go to the convention center. Mom decided to go so we left a little later than I had hoped to get away. As we approached the South Nephi/Levan exit I suddenly saw in the darkness what I thought was a large living room sofa in the middle of my lane. I swerved into the left lane (there was no other traffic) and hit it with a somewhat glancing blow that ended up breaking off the passenger side of my front bumper, just missing the headlight, and pulling halfway off the rear bumper cover so it now drags on the ground when driving. We pulled off to the side of the road to see what damage it had caused, and hoped to get back to it and move it off of the road so someone else would not also hit it. As soon as I got out of the car, a semi hit it dead center and pulled off to the side of the road behind us. The truck driver and I went back to see what it was, joined by Mom.

Expanded metal shelf on steel frame

Expanded metal shelf on steel frame

It ended up being one of those shelves made of tubular steel covered with expanded metal, designed to fit into the receiver for a trailer hitch on the back of a car, smaller than the ones on pickups and cars like our Suburban. This shelf had at least two dozen backpacks and duffle bags with clothing, shoes, and other personal effects including library books and homework that were now scattered in a wide area across both lanes of traffic southbound on the freeway.
Debris scattered across both freeway lanes.

Debris scattered across both freeway lanes.

The photo of the debris field is lighted by the headlights of two highway patrol cruisers on high beam and taken from near the cars looking west. The semi can be seen on the upper-right of the photo. We were parked in front of it. When debris like this is encountered by someone driving a smaller vehicle it can be very dangerous if it is hit, and also dangerous because of those trying to swerve around such obstacles if there is traffic.

Here is the broken-off corner that hit the debris

Please be aware of things you may be transporting and report any kind of debris immediately to the highway patrol so it can be removed from the road space as quickly as possible. This debris in the road caused several thousand dollars of damage to the two vehicles that hit it. I believe that if I had hit this directly we could have been very seriously injured or killed. I am grateful that we were not hurt and the semi driver was not hurt either. We were both quite upset at the situation but also pacified that neither of us were injured personally.

The Problem With America’s Debt

Wednesday, February 3rd, 2010

I thought the following was an excellent essay on why the national debt is such a big issue. Thanks Glenn!

Published Tuesday , February 02, 2010 on FOX NEWS, By Glenn Beck
glenn_beck_debt_2I want to talk to you about a couple things.
First, we need to stop living in a fantasy. America has fundamentally changed: We’re not going back to where it was unless we admit we have a problem. And it’s all based on one word: debt.

As Thomas Jefferson wrote to James Madison in 1789:
“Then I say, the Earth belongs to each of these generations during its course, fully and in its own right. The second generation receives it clear of the debts and incumbrances of the first, the third of the second, and so on. For if the first could charge it with a debt, then the earth would belong to the dead and not to the living generation. Then, no generation can contract debts greater than may be paid during the course of its own existence.”
Remember the debt clock? When I looked at it the other day, I was really encouraged. Take a look: Does anything jump out at you?
One line is actually going down: personal debt. Across the whole line, our personal debt is shrinking.
Now, my first hope was that hey, maybe that’s the common sense effect. People have actually listened and gotten out of debt; they’ve stopped spending money they don’t have on credit!
Uh, no. Unfortunately, that’s not it.
People aren’t paying off their debts; they’re defaulting on them. When you default on a credit card loan, the money goes back up on the “national debt” line. It’s the same thing with mortgages.
Now let’s compare a couple of charts.
If this were a normal time, we’d assume that drop in residential mortgage loans outstanding meant that people are paying off their mortgages. But we know it’s not normal times because it’s coupled with a spike in the number of distressed mortgages. The banks are foreclosing on so many mortgages and so many people are delinquent, they aren’t paying.
You may as well make me the Grim Reaper today, but the bad news is banks are not foreclosing on as many mortgages as they should.
The banks don’t want to foreclose on the mortgages or the credit cards because they’d have to write it off. Which means more money from the Fed in their reserve and they’d be telling clients “uh-huh, we are in trouble.” So they are just leaving them alone. And beyond that, they are motivated because Big Brother is standing over their shoulder saying “don’t foreclose on these people! If you do we are coming after you.” It’s that attitude that caused the problem in the first place. The same thing is happening with credit card debt.
So now what? We keep hearing from progressives that the federal debt is not like personal debt; we just can’t comprehend it. With the federal debt, we have to spend our way out of this recession — as Congressman Clyburn just said:
REP. JAMES CLYBURN, D-S.C.: We are not going to save our way out of this recession. We’ve got to spend our way out of this recession.
That doesn’t make any sense, but that is what TARP is all about. Remember that $700 billion that took our breath away? That’s just a down payment; it’s actually a slush fund they can draw from as long as they want.
Our problem is, we haven’t learned from history. Most Americans are completely unaware of the huge bailout of 1895. Back then there was a massive financial problem and, like this time, a bailout. Only this wasn’t the government bailing out big, evil corporations. In 1895, it was a big, evil corporation bailing out the U.S. government.
Mainly because of the Sherman Silver Purchase Act, U.S. Treasury reserves had shrunk to under $100 million. The federal government was just about broke. So, J.P. Morgan and his group stepped in to replenish the United States government with $62 million in gold reserves to shore it up.
Morgan had already bailed out the U.S. Army payroll in 1877. By 1907, after Morgan also bailed out Wall Street, there was sentiment that we should get away from J.P. Morgan and not be beholden to him. The progressives at that time made the case that we should never owe anyone like that; that owing them that much would give them too much control.
Now, fast-forward 100 years and J.P. Morgan’s bank — JP Morgan Chase — is bailed out by the U.S. government and is now being vilified for it. The progressives learned the lesson; JP Morgan Chase forgot it. And the rest of us all stood by and should have seen all of this coming.
Just like it was bad that the government was owned by J.P. Morgan, it’s equally as bad to have the government own JP Morgan Chase; the bank owning the government would tell government what to do, just like the government is now telling banks what to do.
With J.P. Morgan at the turn of the century it was his gold. But this isn’t the government’s gold. Where is the government borrowing the money to control the banks? China.
So? Why is that bad? Why shouldn’t we borrow all this money from China?
Well, when I first became a small businessman, I vowed not to borrow any money. I remember telling my dad, who owned a bakery, “You don’t have a boss.” He replied, “Everyone has a boss. My boss is the bank.”
Mr. President, everyone has a boss. Our president’s boss is now the bank of China.
When we found out that China was selling our children lead painted toys and poisoned dog food, did anyone wonder why George Bush didn’t say anything? Imagine if an American or British company were selling our kids chewable, lead-based toys? We would have hammered them. Why didn’t we say anything to China? For the same reason you usually don’t stick your finger in your boss’s chest: You don’t bite the hand that feeds you!
China now rules the world. Worse, the White House has gone even further for China. The White House has directed U.S. spy agencies to lower the priority placed on intelligence collection on China, resulting in opposition from top agents who fear the move will badly hit efforts to obtain secrets about Beijing’s military program and its cyber attacks on U.S. targets.
But don’t worry. I’m told by contacts with the CIA, that we only experience cyber attacks from China daily.
When we can’t say “stay away from our secrets” because we can’t lose their money, we’ve become slaves to them. But beyond just being afraid to stand up to them; maybe this is some sort of payment to the Chinese.
By not tracking their spy activities we’re actually just paying a higher interest rate on our loans or when we allow them to steal our “stealth technology,” maybe that’s a payment on the principle. I’ve said before, as soon as China demands a higher interest rate, it’s over. And everyone said, no, no, that’ll never happen. That’s not in their best interest.
Really? What is this move by Obama? But don’t worry about it, Obama told us during the State of the Union that we’ll double our exports — so, even if they steal all our stuff, we’ll still make it anyway and we’ll just make it cheaper than they do, right?
We’re already hearing, as we did during the State of the Union address, that the worst of this is over. They’ll start pointing to the GDP growth in the 4th quarter of around 5.7 percent as proof that they have fixed the problem. But they haven’t. They haven’t spent two-thirds of the stimulus money yet because they’re saving it for election season this fall. The Democrats need it to look like our economic problems have been solved.
But here’s our problem: Our debt is unsustainable. There is no J.P. Morgan who can loan us $107 trillion. We long ago dropped the gold standard. We don’t manufacture anything to sell for profit anymore.
Even during the Great Depression, we had three things missing from the terrible situation we faced then, that are not missing now:
One: massive debt was missing. Our debt to GDP ration in 1929 was about 16.3 percent. In 2009 it was 83 percent. This year it’s estimated that it will be 94 percent and in 2011 it will be 99 percent. Unsustainable.
Two: unfunded liabilities. There was no Social Security or Medicare program to fund. This is our most crushing debt — $107 trillion and counting. There is no way to ever pay that off.
Three: We didn’t have the total personal debt. People were not living lifestyles on credit.
So what can we do with a debt that is unsustainable? We can get out of debt ourselves. We can take control of our personal financial situation.
In 1907, Americans thought it was a terrible thing to be beholden to JP Morgan. We believed that it gave him too much clout and influence over the government. But today, we are infinitely more beholden to communist China.
The $65 million J.P. Morgan loaned the government in 1895 is equivalent to more than $1.6 billion today. Well, our current debt is $12 trillion and, as I mentioned, we’ve promised $107 trillion.
Who owns us? I’d rather be owned by J.P. Morgan — an American. We owe this money to communists — even the Soviet Union wouldn’t borrow money from their enemies.
You might say, “Oh Glenn, that’s ridiculous. China’s a great trading partner. There’s no problem there!” Really? Remember the poisoned toys; the poisoned dog food; the Clinton influence-buying scandal? Remember that we sold seaports in California to China? And now, we’re taking them off the spy list. Do we really think they’re not going to steal anything? Come on!
Illegal copies of “Harry Potter” popped up in China before the ink was even dry on the originals — unauthorized, incredibly bizarre stories stealing J.K. Rowling’s beloved characters and work, including a version of the boy wizard as a fat, hairy dwarf. China’s response? So sue us. No one did.
Our national debt has become a freakish, fat, hairy giant that’s stealing from our children’s future and dishonoring our Founders in the past.