Archive for the ‘Economy’ Category

This Land is Your Land, Woody Guthrie, America’s Song

October 6, 2014


I thank my friend and fellow singer, Greg, for sharing this video with me and you. Many times at the Albert Hall Shed there are many more folks standing around and listening and singing, but then the sound would not be as good as this.

I’ve another version of This Land is Your Land on youtube with around 125,000 views.

I try to sing this song every time I’m out because the last verse still applies today. “Is this land still made for you and me?” The answer is yes, the issue is whether the country is so complex today that voting power is diluted.

CNN: Rubio Slams Obama

February 17, 2013

President of the United States of America

President of the United States of America

The President has created a plan for immigration.  Rubio slams it.  When will the Republicans learn to respond to good ideas they may differ with.  Rubio, try this: “Pretty good plan Mr. President.  How about these changes to make it a great plan”.  Rather, the Republicans are instigating the Second Civil War.  Their manner of negotiation mirrors exactly the stances taken in 1861.  Come on.

 

K-Cups Cost $34.56 Pound of Folgers Coffee

December 16, 2012

Folgers $2.16 per ounce, $34.56 pound

Folgers $2.16 per ounce, $34.56 pound

Would you pay $34.56 per pound of coffee for anything other than 100% Kona or Jamaican Blue Mountain?  In these two examples Folgers is charging more than Stabucks.

There are many ways to conveniently make single servings in the morning, or anytime, without paying an exorbitant price and at the same time using tons of plastic containers.

Starbucks: $31 per pound.

Starbucks: $31 per pound.

Johnson’s Law: A little number times a big number is a big number.

Much more to come.

Sandy Hits East Rockaway – My Home Town – Hard

November 15, 2012

The Class of 1963 has organized a ‘relief’ fund for the members of the class who were hardest hit and the leaders of our 50th  reunion ‘committee’ have graciously agreed to collect and disperse the money.

The Really LIttle Rascals

It’s a good bunch of people, my class of 1963.

 

I’m afraid to go back right now, but feel I must.  While growing up, my family lived in three homes.  I believe two are quite intact, but one I’m told had water up to or over the roof.

 

This was my father’s retirement home, which he dearly loved.  It was on the water, but inland on a tidal river, Mill River if memory serves, and no one here would ever think of flooding as a problem. My High School has extensive flood damage and will open in a couple of months.  It too was situate on Mill River.  And just across this Old Mill Stream sat my brother Bill’s home.  His home was higher so only his basement got wet.

My nephew Tom lost his home in Long Beach.

Another Johnson, nephew  Billy, operates a construction and landscaping business and he is of course very busy helping not only his dad (Bill) but many other folks on the Island (which is how Long Islander’s refer to Long Island, as in “out on the island”).  They were working 22 hours a day pumping out basements and making initial repairs. Bill has trucks and diesel-powered equipment but never ran out of fuel.  He sent each night a vehicle either west or north to locations where gas was plentiful and trucked it back to the Island.  His crews were able to work and his trucks continued to run.  Nice job.

My brother Gerry, a builder of magnificent Kauai, Hawaii homes, flew back for a few days to survey the damage and is evaluating a one year move to the Island.  He has experience with FEMA (remember Iniki?) and building and rebuilding homes, skills needed badly.

I’ve driven many times through the Battery and  the Lincoln Tunnels, and because I have a vivid imagination, had visions of flooding and me out-racing the surge.  I never once thought that these impossible day dreams would come true.  I feel badly for the man in NYC who stood at his post in a parking facility, protecting his charges, and paid dearly when the water filled the garage.  He was a New Yorker, Ghanaian by birth, a New Yorker by attitude.  Sandy will be around for a long, long time.

Get Richer Quicker??? No thanks Mitt.

October 29, 2012

Today’s title is the synopsis of the Romney campaign.  His real name by the way (by the way is Romney’s favorite term when chastising POTUS) is Willard which means ‘Strong Desire’.  Fitting I think and I’m not sure why he hides it, except that it is aristocratic.  Romney has a strong desire to gain personal wealth fast, and he is saying that he can get America rolling faster than Obama, thus getting you and I ‘Richer Quicker’.  Yeah, yeah.

A person who takes risks for themselves is fine, and the returns earned, if large, are fine too.  But don’t take risks for me.  I like slow and steady.  I like strong foundations, large sea walls, strong roofs and good drainage systems.  Especially in a hurricane.

FDR saved US in 2009

The hurricane in America ended in 2010, maybe 2009 when we stopped losing 800,000 jobs a month.  Problem was the foundation was weak, the sea walls low, the roofs designed poorly and the drainage systems sucked.  Rebuilding a city, think Katrina, takes a long time.  Rebuilding an economy takes a lot longer.  It took a war and the GI bill of rights to end the Great Depression.  Thank goodness FDR had the foresight to build a strong social security system or America would have been in a world of hurt in 2009, and still.

Passing Obama Care is the equivalent of passing Social Security, and it is working;  please ignore the hypotheticals.  Americans want, and in many cases need Obama Care, but the country has to pay for it.  We pay for medicare, social security, and now will pay for medical insurance.  This is good, for the benefit is less worry about those who are uncovered.  Most of us have family or friends who have gone uncovered for a long time.  No more.

 

Did His Customers Get Richer Quicker?

Think of the customers of Bernie Madoff.  All thought they were getting richer quicker.  Beguiling, isn’t it.  Get Richer Quicker, the old story of the turtle and the hare.  Bush was that kind of guy, strutting his stuff but like a comet, trailing a long tail of debris in his wake.  Fortunately, Obama turned the wake onto a highway to recovery.

Without Social Security and the Safety Net provided by ‘big government’, 2008 would have been the start of a great depression.  And for many Americans it was a great depression.  Especially by the frequently cited definition: A recession is when your neighbor is unemployed, a depression is when you loss your job.

The stock market is back, auto sales rising, home prices rising, construction of housing units apparent in many areas (it is pacifying to see new construction), Mortgage rates at 3.5%, 3.5%, the war in Iraq is over, Afghanistan is finishing up (read “Into the Fire” by Dakota Meyer, a fast read, and, while not intended as such, an expose of the roadblocks to building a strong central government in Afghanistan), Gadafi was toppled without American ground troops, repayment terms for student loans are now 20 years, you can refi a mortgage to a lower rate even if the appraisal is below the loan value, and small business (mine for example) has benefitted from tax modifications over the last three years.

The tax modifications allowed KMO to go to a new, much improved plant, acquire new roasting equipment and expand our workforce by at least six (that’s six added to 12 and that doesn’t count the part time staff expansion) because our sales expanded.

So I’m perfectly satisfied with the progress the country is making.

Stay the course.  Stick to the Status Quo.  It’s pretty good, and getting better.

1917 was the middle of World War I – Ready, Fire, Aim

October 23, 2012

 I doubt these men were counting the number of ships in the Navy of either side.  These battles were slaughters.  The picture comes from Google Images and the search term WWI images.

So why did the Republican Candidate select the middle of WWI as an appropriate year to compare to the size of the Fleet of the United States Navy in 2012???  I suspect we will never know the answer.

It is not wise to put your head on an anvil when the blacksmith is holding a sledge-hammer, ready to pound.  I suspect Governor Romney selected 1917 on the fly.  The comparison must have been just too tempting to pass up.

These are the times that try Presidential thinking; they are trying indeed the souls of our soldiers and sailors who are all risking life and limb for me and you.   These noble warriors need to know that the Commander-in-Chief is making decisions and giving orders based upon well thought out arguments, not on cursory reviews of facts, and snap decisions yielding unwarranted conclusions.

It seems to me that Governor Romney, while appearing calm in the third debate, was ill prepared to discuss the United States Navy, and needed sorely the strenght and accuracy of a true swordsman.

Ready, Fire, Aim.

Seabiscuit

October 20, 2012

The whole country must watch this movie, for the times we are leaving behind are much like 1937 and 1938 when Seabiscuit pulled the country through tough times, and helped inspire the nation.  Red Pollard, jockey, and Seabiscuit shared early life stories of trial and trouble, but they changed a nation.  Here is a synopsis.  It’s on HBO.

It struck me that all the ‘oh my God this is terrible’ utterances coming from the so-called Right, is wrong.  This is America, and we are capable of great things when we set our minds to action.

At one point in the movie the narrator talks about the New Deal programs that Roosevelt put in place:  the NRA, the CCC , and others.  He tells us that the programs were not in themselves what counted.  Rather, the people who hurt began to realize that finally someone cared, that they were not alone.  It changed the spirit of the country.  Woody Guthrie had a lot to say about it too, especially in “This Land is Your Land”.

KMOCoffee received a large loan from the City of Millville in 2001 that enabled the company to invest in new space and new equipment and it has grown and prospered as a result of receiving this loan.  Call it seed money.

The government did not actually create jobs, but it facilitated the process.  I’m for this facilitation.  When Romney says the Government does not create jobs, I agree.  But the government facilitates and with its help speeds growth, or in America’s current situation, speeds recovery.

I hope we stay the course the Country is on, and retain the President at the helm.  It ain’t perfect, but it is working.  I agree that moving at a deliberate pace, rebuilding infrastructure and solidifying the economic foundation can be frustrating to those in trouble, but it is better than taking a risk on unproven and in some cases discredited programs.

Just like Seabiscuit.  Get moving.  Literally.  Move.  Go where people are needed to fill jobs.

Homeowners are saving at least $10,000 a year on mortgage interest: why isn’t this news?

September 14, 2012

Here is a link to charts of the 30 year mortgage rate from 1971 to 2012.

30 Year Mortgage Rates from 1971

I’ll illustrate using 8.5% as the historic rate.

Mortgage Amount Savings: historic 8.5% less 3.5 rate today (down 5%)
$100,000

$5,000 per year

$200,000

$10,000 per year

$300,000

$15,000 per year

$400,000

$20,000 per year

This is great news for homeowners who owned homes and refinanced their mortgages as rates were falling.  And it isn’t new news.

I’m thinking that these savings paid for the increase in the price of gas and food.

Not everyone owns a home, but there are plenty of us.  It is horrible what happened to so many who lost jobs and then their homes.

So why are’t houses selling and leading the way out of this ‘depression’.  The answer: Banks are not lending.

Woody Guthrie wrote the song “This Land is Your Land”.  In it, there is a verse that goes something like:

As I was walking, I saw a Steeple

In the releif office, I saw my people

And some were grumbling, and some where wondering

If this land’s still made for you and me.

I have no doubt, this is our land.  Vote.

What 1 Man or Woman Can Do To Bring Back The Draft

March 18, 2012

If American’s Faced a Draft Would America be in Afghanistan Now?

We all know from history what one man or woman can do for good or bad.  It occurred to me this morning, while watching the Sunday News Shows, that this man Bales may indeed change the world for both Good and Bad.  He may indeed move the USA out of Afghanistan faster, eliminate the Afghan’s ‘trust’ in American Soldiers (how does a lollipop for kids build trust?), and just maybe, bring back the draft in America.

How in the world can this incident bring back the draft?

Good Question.

The side story this morning was the health of American Soldiers and the eventual cost of the Afghan War, and, a equally important topic, the lack of connection Americans today have to the men who fight America’s wars.  In the Vietnam Era I had numerous connections to the war.  My Brother was wounded in Viet Nam, my good friend Jack Burke was drafted, so was Ted Flynn and a huge number of fellow grads from Marist College.  I dare say every one of us eligible for the draft was pretty emotional about the war and thus tied directly to it, and we dragged along our mothers, fathers, girlfriends, wives and extended family, all glued to the TV every night watching ‘well told’ carnage.

So American’s developed very strong feelings about the war, and expressed them, bringing down one President, and starting another on a paranoid path   to resignation.

Not so today.  There are very few horror stories on television.  Rather there are lots of stories about pin point drone attacks, and of course the Seal invasion that brought down the head of state of Al Qaeda, with pictures of the president and his trusted aids nail-biting, while watching the action. So Americans are not directly tied to the Afghanistan War (with obvious exceptions).  If there was a draft, I’d be worried about my son, my two grandson’s and three granddaughters and so on and so forth.  With the draft a war would touch us all, and elicit worry and fear and indelible emotional ties.  And therefore, closer ties, and more concern about the War’s conduct.

In turn, we might just have a more boisterous and persistent word about how the war is fought, and how long we will fight it, and how much we will spend on it.  Ok, we pounded the Taliban, killed Bin Laden and many of his cronies, and we paid a high price and will continue to pay.  Rightly so, our soldiers earned support and good health care.

Killing civilians intentionally is horrible and like all war criminals caught and convicted,  Sgt. Bales, if convicted, will pay a high price.  I know of no wars where killing civilians was not a rational, planned event, a tool used by all sides.  Remember London? Dresden?  Tet? My Lai?  Warsaw? The World Trade Center?  It is a consequence of declaring (did I say that, or did Ron Paul?), and fighting a war.

Peace movements have never resulted in world peace, nor I suppose, ended a war.  But if we bring back the draft, the American electorate, us, might exert more influence upon, and gain faster results from our leaders.  Without a stake, it is hard to get people interested.  Perhaps some good can be squeezed from this sad event.

Bob

Hello Rick Santorum: “Damn the Torpedoes, Full Speed Ahead”

February 12, 2012

Well, Well. Can he do it?

Last night Leo and Sherry traveled to Millville for a delightful evening of good food, good talk and good music.  We gave about 30 seconds to politics.

But they were a very important 30 seconds.  The question/answer was: Which of them can lead the country?  Which can be President of the United States of America?  And the question begins with the incumbant.

This week the incumbant stood in front of the nation, and with a smile calmly announced the “budget” for 2012.  The focus is always on the deficit not the amount spent.  Does anyone know how much the nation actually spends, actually collects from you and me?

So this year the deficit will be $1.33 Trillion.  Big smile.

Here comes the money

I must say Ron Paul has the best ideas, but can he lead the United States?  Perhaps.  Can he lead the planet?  Well, maybe.  Can Gingrich, Romney, Obama, Santorum?  Perhaps it is time for paradigm shift of the largest order.  Like Galileo.  An old question nags at my consciousness.  Would we be the United States of America without the French Navy in 1780 ish?

My parents were Catholic and I remember watching the Kennedy/Nixon race and surprise, my folks were for Nixon, the paragon of honesty.  Right now, I switch again, to focus on Santorum, despite his papal beliefs.

I think now of President Obama as cocky, and the best symbol of this trait is his running down airplane steps, not holding to the handrail.  Hey, small stuff, hold the rail, we can’t afford to see the president bound down and break his neck.  It has nothing to do with you, Mr. President, it has to do with those who depend upon you.  Enough already, we know you’re athletic.

If not the incumbant, then who.  President Romney, still invoking his fathers performance?  Or President Gingrich, the Professor in Chief?  This said, there is only only Dr. Paul, with excellent ideas, or President Santorum.  Kind of like one of our famous Admirals said: “Damn the Torpedoes’, full speed ahead”.   There are no other choices.


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