Saturday, October 4, 2008

MSU rolls on

Michigan State University is now 5-1 on the season with the nail biting defeat of Iowa today in a defensive struggle.

I didn't watch the game, I had to harvest my grass field around my house. With all the rain this year, the grass has never stopped growing. So with my earphones in place I mowed while I listened to the Spartans take on Iowa.

The victory is all the sweeter because my brother-in-law Philip is a University of Iowa graduate. One year my sister, Philip, Joan and I traveled to Iowa City to watch MSU take on Iowa there and it was a disaster.

Philip bought tickets in the center of the rabid Iowa alumni section and the Hawkeyes dismantled the Spartans. So, of course, I called him this afternoon and told him how sorry I was he couldn't make it to East Lansing this year to see the game with me.

An MSU victory also brings a frown to one of my friend's faces, so I'm sorry about that. Now we'll see how Michigan does against Illinois. Should be a cake walk for Michigan at home.

Friday, October 3, 2008

We're all saved, Congress approves bail out

OK, Congress now owns many of the worst loans in the country. Good for us. We're going to purchase $600 billion in bad paper. What a great idea!

Our kids will someday shake their heads in disbelief that we have done this. It may be sooner than later.

So I guess now, in America, you can start a business, take a loan, give a loan and there are no consequences. Default, go into bankruptcy and good old Congress will step up and bail you out. Makes me wonder why I've paid all my bills all these years.

We may have the most dysfunctional government in our history and there are not many signs it will get any better.

May God and our founding fathers forgive us for what we have done to their great invention.

What happened today after Congress caved and gave Wall Street what they wanted? The market dropped another 157 points. Serves us right.

Let 'em sink

One of the biggest disagreements I have with many of my friends right now is on this Congressional "bail-out."

I am convinced that a $600 billion bail out will do nothing but postpone the pain. The country has been on a 20-year unrealistic monetary binge. The house my parents bought for $24,000 in 1964 and sold for more than $300,000 only 20 years later eventually appreciated to $1 million.

That was nuts.

Now, the market is in the process of collapsing because we were simply living in Fantasyland. As scary as it is to think about, a complete correction is needed. For the government to step in now and reward corrupt lenders and greedy buyers only sets in motion the same thing in the future.

Many of my cop friends and cop reporters will know what a Ponzi scheme is ( They will also know what a pigeon drop is ( and what we have seen for the past 16 years is a high stakes combination of both. People who do this on the street are arrested, tried and sent to prison. Instead of arresting these folks, Congress wants to hand them more money.

One thing any cop will tell you is that giving more money to a confidence man is the wrong way to stop the scam.

This is a manufactured crisis. Remember it was almost three weeks ago they said if we didn't fix it in four days we would face financial Armaggedon. Well, the day after the House of Representatives voted down the measure the market went up 469 points coming back from a 777 loss while the bill was still on the table.

If it's such a big crisis, one that threatens our future, why are our federal legislators loading this crisis bill up with frivilous pork. One of the items is a tax break for the production of wooden toy arrows. So don't buy this "sky is falling" stuff.

Should the House turn down the bail out bill again, the market is probably in for a rough ride. Right now the private sector is holding off loans, etc., waiting to see how much free money they will get from us. But eventually they will have to go back to making good loans (in fact, they are making good loans now) and the economy will slowly recover.

Our parents lived through the depression. Not a great time, but it taught them a lesson of thrift and responsibility that has been lost on subsequent generations.

My 401k has lost more in the past three weeks than I paid for my first house in 1970, but I still don't think it's right to rescue the market for investors' immediate futures and leaving a huge debt for our kids in the future.

We keep hearing that actually the government will make money on this bail out. If you believe that, you haven't been paying attention to our government for the past few decades. Nothing they do makes money. Everything they do costs money and it's our money.

Some companies, especially the ones who feasted on the bad loans and high CEO pay, need to fail. They need to be bought up at a bargain rate, reconstituted and then effectively managed by new private companies, not the government.

Home loans should be renegotiated where possible, but frankly, people who purchased homes well above their means should lose them. That's how the system works. A lot of us bought and paid for homes we could afford. It should not fall to us to bail out those who got in over their heads.

That's not to say there isn't a role for government in this crisis. They could start (including at the State level here in Michigan) to give us back more of our money to spend. Instead of giving Wall Street $600 billion so it can continue on its merry way, how about splitting up that $600 billion in tax relief and see what many of us would do with that money.

My wife and I were on the verge of buying a big GMC truck and an RV. Those plans are on hold until we see what is going to shake out. Send me part of my $600 billion tax relief program and I'll buy that truck and RV and probably some other stuff.

Multiply that by millions of taxpayers and you have renewed economic activity. It makes more sense than pouring more millions down the Wall Street rat hole.

If not that, start building stuff again like they did during the Depression. What is needed is commerce and work. The Wall Street casino should be closed and the only way to do that is to not rescue them and make them going back to being the engine of economy and not the slot machine.

But I know one thing, I don't trust McCain-Obama-Biden and the Congress to fix a problem they helped create.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

New story, no explanation, but more Lakisha

I'm a twice-a-day (or more) reader of the Flint Journal website. Not that I think it's a good website, but it's the only game in town.

So early yesterday I read on line about a man who died in Lake Fenton on Saturday. My first reaction was a guy died in Lake Fenton on Saturday and we're just finding out on Wednesday. So I didn't pay much attention to much of the rest of the story, except I think it said he drowned.

This morning, I'm catching up on the local news and the story is again there. This time with an identification of the victim and the fact he died of a heart condition and not from drowning. So I opened up the comments and find a couple folks who are thankful that the Journal has finally "revised" the article.

Now usually when the Journal runs a story and later updates it, you'll find a little link taking you back to the original story. Not there, not anywhere. The original story is gone. So I have no idea what happened in the original story, but it must have upset someone. Not a big deal, but I'm curious.

As to why a guy is found dead in a lake on Saturday and is not reported on until Wednesday I can only guess. Perhaps the fact that only one reporter (it used to be two) work on Saturday and that an intern (other than a full-time reporter) now works on Sunday, may contribute to that.

By the time anyone gets in on Monday to look into news, it's probably too late for the Monday paper, so the earliest you get a Saturday story in the paper is Tuesday, if you're lucky.

On another topic, you'll be glad to know - I know I was - that Lakisha Jones, the American Idol candidate from Texas, but with roots in Flint, is planning to get married soon in California. There's news you can use, and it was right on the front page. I mean no offense to Carol the wonderful feature writer who wrote the story. And just two days after I mentioned the managing editor's obsession with the story too.

What's in a name

OK, now I get it. It's a "rescue" plan, not a "bail out."

And the manure I spread in my garden is really ground up rose petals. The Washington elite - of both parties - believe we are simply country bumpkins who are easily manipulated.

How dumb they must think we are. In recent days I have disagreed with some of my friends over this, but the country is being pushed into an obscenely expensive bail out plan that benefits only the most irresponsible buyers and lenders in our country.

The move to make well the people who put us in this position and then put back in charge the people who were supposed to be watching to make sure it didn't happen may just be the dumbest thing I've ever seen in government. And that says a lot.

So now that the Senate has added $100 billion in pork to make the sleaze of this deal go down better, people are predicting a majority in the House will now approve it. Shame on them.

This doomsday scenario and the rush to solution is just one more reason to hold off and look for solutions that don't involve public money.

But make no mistake this is a bail out. A rescue would be the replacement of every incumbent politician in Washington and a new start.

Monday, September 29, 2008

My two cents about $700 billion

Does it bother anyone else that Democrats and liberal and moderate Republicans are so eager to hand over $700 billion of our money to a bunch of fat cat, Wall Street types to bail them out of a problem entirely of the fat cats' own creation?

All of a sudden the same people who can't stand "W" or anything he does, are lapping at his feet to quickly approve a $700 billion bail out, that on its face eclipses the cost of the entire Iraq War to date. Count me a little (make that a lot) suspicious.

At the other end are those cruel, big business conservatives who seem to be in favor of letting the fat cats lick out of an empty bowl. So who really is in the pocket of big business, those who would let system take its natural course, you loaned it, you eat it. Or those in Congress who want to hand $700 billion to the people who made the mess and put the government who failed to oversee the mess in charge of watching over it now.

Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, Barney Frank, and many Republicans seem hell-bent on having all of us pick up the tab for a bunch of banks who somehow didn't realize you can't loan out more money than you have and you should certainly make sure the people who borrow the money can pay it back.

My 401K stands to take a huge hit, but that doesn't mean out of my own self interest I believe my children or grandchildren should be on the hook to bail out a bunch of, at best, incompetent bankers, or at worst (and much more likely) a bunch of criminals who instead of robbing a bank with a gun cleaned it out by simply sticking the money in their pocket.

Someone needs to be heading to prison, and soon.

A few have wondered about my sudden affection for Ralph Nader. Of the Presidential candidates he is the one who was not up to his eyeballs in the run-up to this financial collapse.

So kudos to the Congressmen on both sides who said "no" today and let's hope the rest of this campaign includes a few more voices who may have an actual solution, one that puts the pain and solution where it belongs, with the people who caused it.

If Congress is for the "little guy," let's see them not stick the "little guy" with the bill.

A short answer for the managing editor

On Sunday, the Flint Journal managing editor told his readers that he is fascinated with pop culture, something all the writers at the paper have known for years.

The problem is not with his fascination with pop culture, but the paper's obsession with pushing it up front.

When a Texas woman, with Flint roots, became a finalist for the American Idol show, the newspaper literally turned over the front page to her coverage for months. It was an embarrassing display of non-journalistic sound excess that people outside the paper still talk about.

The reason given for the obsession with the Idol candidate was that it would draw in younger readers. OK, how many of them bought subscriptions? How many are still reading? More importantly, how did it translate to higher advertising revenues?

The answer: Not a twit.

But, in retrospect, knowing what I know now about the fascination with pop culture, I might have been smarter to pitch my mortgage fraud story of July 2007 differently (

Instead of trying to show the editor the startling facts that I discovered in government records that Great Lakes Mortgage Brokers was handing out money at a rate three times the value of homes in a Davison Township subdivision, I should have made up a story that Madonna was involved.

Or maybe that Brittany Spears was planning to move to the subdivision secretly. That would have driven my story onto page one and would have at least exposed the public to the real story of what was going on there.

There were several times over the years that some anonymous person would call the paper and say they heard Pamela Anderson (insert name of other current popular celebrities here) was looking at houses in Fenton, etc. That would set in motion a flurry of intense activity that often involved two, three or more reporters trying to track down the rumor.

Even when the rumor was found to be false, which was always, there was still the push for a story to cover the rumor. It was awful journalism and many of us lament that we were pulled into it.

But the managing editor asked what his readers thought of his fascination with pop culture as page one. Well, there's my thoughts.