Wednesday, February 5, 2014

The state of the union is strong?

Stock market? Fed manipulation? Social Security? Medicare/aid? Obamacare? War spending? Trade deficits? Inflationary pressure? What will ultimately be the "last straw"? It's not really what most people think. All of these are parts of a failing system, but I think the "last straw" will ultimately be something less direct. The current POTUS and Congress has been able to rack up massive amounts of debt with little short term consequence due to the current super low interest rates. But when those rates go back to normal levels, the consequences will be massively amplified. Think real estate bubble. If rates spike above historical norms due to inflationary pressure and/or defaults (and compounded defaults from not being able to pay the rising interest payments), the impact will be amplified exponentially. Currently the treasury is paying an average of < 2% on all the national debt. In the 1981 the treasury rates peaked at 20%. Currently about 9% of the total revenues of the Federal Government (including all types of taxes, tariffs and other receivables) on an annual basis go to paying interest on debt. If the rates went to 20% as they did in 1981, just the interest payments would quickly become more than 100% of all revenues. 1981 was bad, but the debt at that time was only about 1.5 x revenues. Today the debt is approaching 7 x revenues.

In personal finance terms, it's the real equivalent of someone with a $50,000 salary, 5 of their own kids plus an adopted Hispanic kid with medical problems and an existing house payment racking up $350,000 in credit card debts at a 2% introductory rate and then having the the rates switch to their "normal" 12-20% rates. The big difference being the consequences of an individual declaring bankruptcy vs an entire country.

So what to do about it?  Well, kicking the crooks that got us here out would be a start at least...


Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Comprehensive Plan

The United States is self-destructing like never seen before.  The financial situation is already well beyond the possibility of reversal through established political channels.  This is all well known and documented by those who have been paying attention.  So what do we do about it?  Armed conflict (AKA civil war) is the obvious answer that many have been talking about, but we have not quite come to that yet.  I have been thinking about this problem and decided to see if I could come up with a plan for this country roughly based on the recent Iceland government reformation that might avoid armed conflict.  Unfortunately at this point it’s a bit of a “last ditch effort” as a literal culture war seems all but inevitable, but I would like to think there are enough good people left that could make this happen if they were well informed.  One very key aspect of this plan though is timing.  Events are moving much to rapidly for anyone to wait for anything.  The tipping point could be only days away at worst case.  So everything must be done in the shortest timeline possible for there to be any remote hope of success.  No “waiting for the next election” to replace the bad apples.  The bad apples have to be immediately removed to have any chance of success.

  1. The first and foremost problem and the primary driver behind how we got here is the intense corruption of politicians with little accountability.  Even elected officials lie, commit felonies, take bribes both legal and illegal, commit sedition, even kill people with little or no consequences.  Not to mention ignoring the voices of their constituents, or now even telling their constituents what to do, what to say, how to think and how to believe.  If the media breaks a story on them, they just issue a public apology and continue business as usual.  Not even resignations are common any longer in these circumstances.  We see it almost every day in the news now but little is done beyond paying lip service.  It continues to get worse because no one enforces any consequences, so each time it happens they just get more bold.  There must be a “grass roots” will to enforce swift consequences on any politician from the local level to the federal level that fails to uphold the integrity of their office , fulfill the oath of their office, or just plain do their job.  I believe that starts with recalls.  Later, prosecution of crimes will be needed as well, but that will be inconsistent as long as the corrupt power base controls the courts and justice departments.  
  2. The next problem is the scope creep and definition shift of the government structure.  Our constitutional republic was not designed to control every aspect of our lives, neither is it a democracy.  Those who have tried to convince the populace that we are a democracy and shift the structure to be “democracy like” have just created a huge mess of a system that can no longer balance itself.  The most obvious part of this would be the goal of repealing the 17th and 23rd amendments.  In like manner, restore/change local governmental structures to follow the republic model more closely.  Senators should never be elected by a general popular vote, that defeats the purpose of having a senate.  Representatives are to always be elected by popular vote, that is the purpose of the house.  On a state level, senators could be elected by county commissioners as the elected representatives of a county.  The current systems in place in most states having population based “districts” of popular vote mirrors the federal system in it’s unbalanced distribution of power.  If these changes were applied at both the state and national levels, it would restore the balance of regional vs. population center influences in lawmaking.  Specifically with the 23rd amendment repeal, the District of Columbia was setup as a federal reserve specifically to prevent self serving interests from having disproportional influence in the federal government.  In simple terms, by nature any congressional representative elected by the district of Columbia has a conflict of interests.  All similar situations on federal and local levels should be identified and scrutinized through this filter.  This MUST start at the state level, recalling representatives that don’t represent and invoking Petition/Referendum/Ballot Measure systems available in the states to push the changes.
  3. Once items 1 and 2 have momentum, there will be more opportunity to fix the many things that are tearing the country apart.  The first opportunity there is laws that automatically holds politicians accountable to a common standard WITH irrevocable consequences (extending the idea of point #1).  One politician should not have the power to pardon crimes their peers have been convicted of.  A politician should not be able to vote on something that would personally benefit them directly or indirectly (for instance, senators and representatives from a particular state would be prohibited from voting on anything that includes any provision that specifically benefits that state).  One solution to how to implement this would be a special jury system.  Citizens or government bodies could petition for a jury review independent of the “justice departments” and district attorneys who have the power to arbitrarily decide if a particular case is worthy of review.  This would invoke an automatic process where a random jury of citizens (think grand jury only invoked automatically by due process instead of at the whim of a district attorney or justice dept) would be called on to review all available evidence (with summons and warrant powers).  If found guilty of breaking the oath and/or integrity of office (especially in regards to conflicts of interest), the defendant would be automatically removed from office and subsequently prosecuted traditionally according to criminal codes if applicable.  This would eliminate the “good old boy” system of politicians covering each other’s backsides or crucifying outcasts in “ethics” committees and remove the burdensome requirement of general population base involvement to force consequences on a politician’s actions.
After these things are addressed, it would open up the possibility at least to fix the other pressing problems we face. 

  • ·        Burdensome laws that interfere with our daily lives
  • ·        Burdensome taxes (eventually) 
  • ·        Wasteful spending on things not in the general interest of the country
  • ·        Entitlement programs that don’t work
  • ·        Wars that nobody wants
I could add a hundred more points and detail solutions, and maybe someday I will.  But none of it will be possible unless the above three major reforms are implemented. 

There are some who seem to actually like the idea of civil war and anarchy.   For those of you who may be reading this, I encourage you to look at this as a war on corruption, just an alternative way instead of using guns and bullets.  That said, my root purpose is to not be tread upon as a citizen so if the above fails: ΜΟΛΩΝ ΛΑΒΕ suckas!

If you like what you read, I encourage you to share like/share/tweet/post.  If you would like to discuss it, send me an email:)

Monday, July 28, 2008

Little bit of techie musing today

Well, it's usually entertaining to watch two companies compete. Duking it out and all that. The customers (a group which I often find myself a part of) usually win no matter which company wins anyway so I enjoy it. Ahhh, economics.

Today's headlines hi-light a battle between virtualization giant VMware and bigger software giant Microsoft. VMware has dominated the niche market of virtualization and even grown it beyond a niche by convincing the world that it would solve all your problems and save your company millions. While such situations do exist, most small companies impliment virtualization only to wonder later if it really was worth the time and is really saving them any money (alas, in some cases it can really hurt a company if implimented for the wrong reasons).

Getting beyond the back story though, we have the battle. Titan #1 being the incumbant VMware with it's array of specialized products. Titan #2 being the circumspect Microsoft, wanting a piece of this market that has been historically very profitable for VMware. A few years ago Microsoft started offering it's own virtualization technologies with Microsoft VirtualPC and VirtualServer. VirtualPC was as still is kinda handy for developers to have test environments...but VMware has stayed ahead of the curve in offerings for that niche and really is a separate discussion from what we have on the table for today. Microsoft virtualserver was just plain bad. It was hard to administer and performance was shall we say "less then desirable". Adoption was very limited and VMware continued to dominate.

Then along came Windows Server 2008 with "Hyper-V", the replacement for Microsoft VirtualServer. The initial looks were wary but there was some things about it that had people starting to talk. I'm sure VMware started watching closely at that point. They responded by offering their most basic server software for free. Then a couple weeks ago, Microsoft finally released the Hyper-V module for Server 2008 to production. The final product was impressive. Not only is compatability with microsoft operating systems more tight, but also many of the more high end features are now available and performance is impressive to say the least. And to top it off, it's a free download for Windows 2008 server. Which brings us to today, and this latest announcement from VMWare that they will now offer their ESXi server software for FREE!

I'm sure there will be many that get very excited about ESXi being free. Certainly for anyone who was already planning to buy the specific hardware that can run ESXi server. But for my company at least, it is just an interesting news article. First of all, too little too late. They should have done this a few weeks ago...BEFORE Microsoft released Hyper-V. We made our decision to commit to Hyper-V then given the economics of the situation at that time. Secondly, it is still a decision to be considered carefully for some: does one commit to buying very specific hardware (such as the Dell lines that support ESXi server), or does one allow for more hardware flexibility and go with Hyper-V??? One could really muddy the waters and throw in VirtualIron as an option...but they are not well known and have the same drawback of limited hardware support that ESXi server suffers. Anyway, not to digress I will move on.

If VMware really wants to stick it to Microsoft, they are going to have to do something even more making the full blown ESX server free and just charging for the add-on features and support.

I will continue to watch with interest, even though my personal path will be moving away from VMware. We have already committed to Hyper-V and there is little reason for us to turn back now. I would like to see healthy competition though. There is room enough in the market for both companies to offer good products and make money. But VMware is going to have to be satisfied with a smaller share and Microsoft is going to have to keep on top of it's technology for balance to be sustainable.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Obama in France...and all over

So I read these headlines this morning...

Obama thanks Sarkozy for Afghan troops, says US loves France

(click the headline to read the article)

I have a few problems with these events. First and foremost, where does this Obama guy get off telling anyone that the US loves France? The US has not had much love for France since the Revolutionary War days. But especially since the last couple world wars. I never have to go far to meet someone with some good French jokes. Even my travels to Canada have revealed some people not-to-enamored with the French (and they have a French speaking province!). Further, France is more or less the biggest political rival of the US in Europe.

Getting beyond the simple misrepresentation face of it though, where does Obama get off playing president by making any sort of statement at all? He is not the President (yet anyway), he is not a duely appointed ambassedor, he is just a Senator. Senators have power to represent their state, but do not have the authority to go trapsing about the globe on campaign funds presuming to be spokesmen for the entire nation. I was willing to let the whole middle east tour slide as he didn't actually do anything there that I knew about that was really technically beyond his office. But this French visit and statements is clearly crossing a line.

Meanwhile, people in Congress are having "non-impeachment" hearings. What the @#$%^ is that??? Nobody is held accountable for anything anymore appearantly. The current president is accused of various crimes and clearly overstepping his authority, the appearant incoming president is commencing to do the same and nobody is willing to do anything about it or even try.

Sorry if it sounds like I really have my lacy french panties in a bunch...but this really irks me! (For the record, I don't actually wear lacy french panties...I leave that to the men who live in France)