In the Open

Well, well, well...a Western country - not the Netherlands - has a progressive approach to drug criminalization, and after 5 years, it's effective. In 2001, Portugal removed all criminal penalties for personal possession of drugs, including cocaine and heroin. Drug use has declined in all age groups, and so has HIV transmission from sharing dirty needles. Rather than giving jail time, therapy is recommended. Certainly the momentum for de-criminalizing drug possession (and sale)is gaining in the United States, where proponents argue that getting everything out in the open is the only way to beat the so-called war on drugs.

I make mention of this, not only because I support it, but because there's another very touchy subject that just needs to be brought out in the open - illegal immigration. It is beyond time to create a system that tracks the 13 million illegals (who knows how accurate that is) living and working in the United States. It's a ridiculous elephant in the room that we have somehow let the right control this debate. There really isn't a debate - we need to know who these people are. That doesn't mean make them US citizens - that's ridiculous. But purposely keeping them unknown is also giving them amnesty. People on the right need to see that - a wall around the border is NOT going to stem the flood of immigrants into the country, and neither is piecemeal, half-assed immigration legislation. It's just unfortunate that Obama inherited one of the biggest messes in history, and this issue will probably remain in the hopper. But we're long past the debate of what to do with the immigrants - bar none, we need to know who they are, and if you de facto criminalize them...well, good luck in finding out who they are. Happy Cinco de Mayo everyone, our country is enriched with the Latino influence!


Smells Like Armegeddon

He has no idea how bad it is out there! He has no idea!

Most of us are familiar with Cramer's proclamation that Armageddon has arrived, but I was thinking about it today at the gym. Most market watchers laughed when Cramer scared the pants off his lovely co-host last year with this performance. They denied the possibility that the sub-prime toxin could spread - they denied the possibility that our sacred investment system could implode as a result.

So I started to wonder today... Why aren't people in the media raising alarms? I read a blog like The Automatic Earth and I fear that I don't have enough time to prepare myself for The New Depression. Yet I watch CNBC or CNN and stories concerning the collapsing economy seem distant, as if they are discussing the collapse of the Faukland Island markets.

Why aren't Hell's Cheerleaders preparing us for a Major Recession? Either they believe the crazy shit that spews out of their mouths, or something worse. They know it's too late for people to prepare, or that revealing the truth will cause widespread panic. I survived the Hurricane Rita evacuation and lost everything I had in Hurricane Ike. I've seen a few million people clean out a city's reserves of food, gasoline, propane, and nearly everything else of "value". (There was a run on ammo, too.)

The truth? Food/Energy supplies will be interrupted. No new jobs will be created, though some workers will be shuffled. Credit won't be available. Security and healthcare services will be severely cut back. You may not find an emergency room if you are injured in a home invasion. Consider the city of Houston during the week after Ike. Now consider pockets of social unrest of that degree across the nation, perhaps the "civilized" world. Some may last a few days, others a few weeks, others longer...

We're entering dark days and the media puppets know it. I think Obama and his team are going to make a serious gamble - they don't want to cause a panic yet. He has two choices - put people to work through warfare or through "infrastructure repairs". I'm not sure either would work, but I guess he has to try something.

Meanwhile I'm sure I will continue watching the Cheerleaders of Constrainted Capitalism argue for the sanctity of The Free Market.


We're All Stars Now In The Car Show

Love Is A Fire
Burns Down All That It Sees
Burns Down Everything
Everything You Think
Burns Down Everything
Everything You Say

I Knew That Our Love Was Just a Car Crash Away

-marilyn manson

I spent the day at a Houston-area Corvette Show today. A co-worker (and Vette owner) invited me to come see the cars and bear witness to the glorious consumption of petroleum product. Even though I decry the glorification of these machines, I'm a gear guy that loves to ogle. (I guess I should admit that I drive a Ford Mustang!)

The economy and the various bail outs were topic du jour, and many people I spoke with thought that this must be the end of the Horsepower Era. Surely the incoming Administration will invest money in light rail and other forms of public transportation - A Change Is Coming. Some spoke positively of this, others negatively. (OK it is Houston. Most of it was negative.)

Imagine my surprise when I get home and discover that Obama has revealed a 21st Century New Deal and the Democrats have figured out how to bail out the Big Three Autofakers. My Goodness, Christmas has come early! Except this deal is based on late 20th Century ideas and designed to propagate the unsustainable American Dream.

From the mouth of Change:

First, we will launch a massive effort to make public buildings more energy-efficient. Our government now pays the highest energy bill in the world. We need to change that. We need to upgrade our federal buildings by replacing old heating systems and installing efficient light bulbs. That won’t just save you, the American taxpayer, billions of dollars each year. It will put people back to work.

Second, we will create millions of jobs by making the single largest new investment in our national infrastructure since the creation of the federal highway system in the 1950s. We’ll invest your precious tax dollars in new and smarter ways, and we’ll set a simple rule – use it or lose it. If a state doesn’t act quickly to invest in roads and bridges in their communities, they’ll lose the money.

Third, my economic recovery plan will launch the most sweeping effort to modernize and upgrade school buildings that this country has ever seen. We will repair broken schools, make them energy-efficient, and put new computers in our classrooms. Because to help our children compete in a 21st century economy, we need to send them to 21st century schools.

As we renew our schools and highways, we’ll also renew our information superhighway. It is unacceptable that the United States ranks 15th in the world in broadband adoption. Here, in the country that invented the internet, every child should have the chance to get online, and they’ll get that chance when I’m President – because that’s how we’ll strengthen America’s competitiveness in the world.

Now this is the change we were yearning (or yawning) for. We're getting new lightbulbs and performing general duct maintenance in Federal buildings. We'll build bigger, stronger, smarter roads. AND we're gonna install broadband in schools.

This is the change we needed in 1999, not 2009. Renewing our highways does not solve problems, it delays them to the next President. Renewing our highways provides a justification for the Big Three to continue building the inefficient gas guzzlers while offering worthless hybrid solutions. (It's only fitting that Barack drives a Ford Escape Hybrid - a meaningless token symbol that gets 30 mpg.) There's nothing in this deal that demands sacrifice of the pursuit of American Horsepower. Nothing in this deal that guarantees the sacrifice of the "smart" CEOs that destroyed the automotive, banking, energy, investment institutions.

But shouldn't we be thinking about the children and their inability to learn without broadband? In a word - NO. In two words - Hell NO. We could provide wi-fi to most Americans for the price of installing broadband in our schools. That would be a 21st century solution that would benefit every American instead of providing our little ADD slugs with more distractions. American kids aren't lagging behind in math and science because they can't access myspace. They lag behind because they have no reason to succeed. Why spend time learning calculus? Today's parents will gift you a cell phone, xbox, tv, athletic shoes, fast food, and gel hair products for achieving a 90% attendance rate.

Change is coming. At some point there will not be enough energy or legitimate money to support our lifestyle. (Or in the other words of Metallica - My lifestyle determines my deathstyle.) The real issue is how can we be prepared for that change? What's the use of roads when Venezuela decides to export crude to South America instead of North America? What's the benefit of broadband in our second grade classrooms when there is no money to pay teachers or run electricity to those fancy new lightbulbs?

Those guys at the Corvette Show were mistaken. The Era of American Horsepower isn't over. Now it's subsidized by the American taxpayer and guaranteed by the Obama Administration. Oh well, I didn't want to give up my Mustang anyway.


Those Damn Markets

Back in 2002, before his appointment to Chairman of the Federal Reserve, Ben Bernanke said that a government with a fiat currency could avoid deflation by printing as much money as necessary. He threatened to dump this money into throngs of seething, desperate peasants - much like the Joker in Tim Burton's Batman. However the citizens won't be reeling in clouds of toxic Smilex gas; they are smothered by mountains of toxic debt paper issued by the evangelists of The Free Market.

Well it appears that deflation is here even though Ben is stuffing cubic assloads of cash into anybody with a jacket embroidered with the name Goldman, Citi, Barclay, or Freddie. One might hope that a Dark Knight might crusade for Change and allow The Free Market to work it's wonders and miracles. That doesn't appear to be the case. Our Congressman are fighting each other who can write the bigger hot check for their core constituency.

We're heading into very dangerous territory. I can only hope that Big Ben finds that formula for Smilex. Because I'd rather go with a smile.

Back! Again.

Yeah I had to take a little break from blogging. My job entered suck mode and I lost everything to a hurricane. But enough about me. Let's get back to complaining about everything else.



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