Monthly Archives: February 2007

Because Public Welfare Requires It

Let me get this straight, Rep. Campfield, if a woman is beaten and raped by an abusive boyfriend or husband, you want to force her to not only endure the pregnancy and subsequent birth, but if she hires a lousy attorney, and loses in a bid for protection, you want to make her financially responsible for ALL court costs?

Next thing you know, he’ll try and steal her winnings if she happens to pick the powerball numbers.

I don’t know about you, but I’m running out of reasons to donate to this guy’s re-election campaign…

H/T Knox Views

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Begging for Regulation

Since I live in the country, it’s been many years since I’ve had any door to door salespeople come callin.  (I had to admire the Jehova’s Witnesses who managed to find me, and who got out of the car even with my dog barking menacingly) But I do remember, years ago, a rather frail young lady knocked on my door in an effort to convince me to subscribe to magazines.  I remember thinking she was a poor salesperson, she looked empty inside, just going through the motions.  Of course, I knew about traveling crews, and I previously had them stop me in parking lots and pitch cologne or magazines, but I had no idea what life for them was like.  I suppose I had lumped them in with carnival workers, you know, people you just know have some predatory streak, coupled with an addiction, and who probably return underground when the fair closes.

Ezra Klein links to this N.Y. Times article, that details the unbelieveable abuse and exploitation of teens and young adults.  It’s worth the read, and has me wondering if I will try to ask the next person who stops me in a parking lot if they need a bus ticket home…

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Reading, Writing, Re-loading

Yesterday I picked up the kids, and usually we recap their day.  My 11 yr old announced that they had DARE again at the school, and I assumed it was the usual “war on drugs” propaganda. (Which, I should say, I’m thankful for, except when they encourage children to report their parents for marijuana possession, though I haven’t heard about that happening locally.) To my surprise and shock, yesterday’s lesson was “what to do in the event of a school shooting.” Apparently, they covered a wide variety of possible scenarios, and the lesson included a video that made my 11 yr old quite uneasy. They were told what to do if caught in the hallway, a classroom, or even a restroom.  (bathroom self defense tactics included the advice to spread liquid soap on the floor by the entrance, so the shooter would slip, giving you time to escape. ) They were taught the difference between “cover” and “concealment.”  I mean it was pretty thorough.  Later in the day, I overheard her explaining to her 9 yr old brother that a car is good cover, but you should hide behind the front tire.  He asked “why the front?”, and she replied that the engine added additional protection from stray or intended bullets.  “Good tip, Sis”, was his rather stoic reply.

I don’t what to make of this.  Part of me wonders what we have done as a society to produce these sociopaths.  Years ago, I asked on a Democratic blog if random school shootings were unique to the U.S., and most commenter’s responded that we just sensationalise ours.  I let it go, but I didn’t believe that.  I still don’t.  I don’t entirely blame the proliferation of guns, but to completely rule that out as a major factor seems disingenuous.  Part of me blames an under-funded, often neglected school system, and part of me blames parents hell bent on keeping up with the Joneses and not being involved with their school age children’s lives.  We are probably all to blame, in some way, by allowing ourselves to become cynical to the point of indifference.  I offer no answers, here, but I am deeply saddened that this type of instruction may be necessary today.  I truly miss the days when my child’s biggest fear was the monster in the closet…

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Ethics and Greed Collide

I was happy to see this post today over at Enclave. S-Town Mike takes predatory lenders to task, and rightly so. I have seen lending practices from just about every angle, in fact, the financing arm of auto sales is what ultimately drove me from the business. I mean, it got so bad, I walked away from 60k a year in a bad year. Mike makes the perfect point, that current lending practices depend on exploiting those least able to defend themselves. I have a few friends that have had their credit go bad for any number of reasons. One of them is a single dad, who I wouldn’t describe as an extravagant spender, but who did make a practice of shifting balances to lower rate cards over and over. He never skipped a payment, but once his balance became pretty high, his card issuer suddenly, without explanation, raised his interest rate to 30%. Thirty percent! He called to ask why, and they essentially said because they could.

The mortgage industry is complicated, and I don’t pretend to understand the whole lending portfolio thing. What I do understand is that teaser rates take advantage of those already underwater. I believe an area that needs some investigation is conversion loans, or, more precisely, consolidation loans. A guy with a high revolving debt consolidates to a loan that is tied to his home. The lender now has real estate as security, where before he had almost no leverage, and shared some of the risk. Now the same guy has a speed bump in his life, lost job, debilitating illness, whatever, and runs up his credit cards yet again. Now, he has a lein on his home, and high rates of interest on his revolving credit. So he looks again to re-finance, and the vultures start flying lower again. Don’t get me started on all those who profit from this, escrow companies, appraisers, etc. It’s a near impossible cycle to escape from.

I know this will drive the Libertarians crazy, but this is an area where I simply do not trust the market to “right itself”. I expect the Govt to take a larger role with respect to regulating lending. I’d like to see this organization open an office in Tennessee. I have tried to contact them, and while I appalud their goals, they are slow to assist when someone shows interest. Perhaps someone will read this, and agree to help me develop a program that aims to educate High School students about credit/contracts and other basic tenants of financial literacy. I have no interest in cashing in like Dave Ramsey. Just put the info out there, no “program” to sell, no book, just a presentation that they might remember when they sit down and negotiate their first major purchase.

Anyway, thanks to S-Town Mike, and I expect Kleinheider to acknowledge my use of paragraphs.

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Slouching Toward Tragedy

I wasn’t completely surprised by the outcome of English first vote. By the time the final vote rolled around, it was mostly symbolic, and it’s not hard to see that Mr. Crafton was forced to expend a great deal of political capital in order to save face. I expected those with nativist leanings to chime in afterward, and sure enough they did. But the post that got to me was Kleinheiders insistence that the opponents of this bill were only motivated by money. I don’t live in Nashville. I don’t own or operate a business there. Nashville property taxes could go through the roof, and it wouldn’t affect me one bit. This doesn’t mean that I am unconcerned by how the city is perceived around the world, particularly because I would like to see more diversity in Tennessee, but whether or not we lose a bid for a convention center or ball club isn’t important to me. What this bill represents, quite clearly, is that far too many Metro Council members lack the courage to actually lead. To be fair, that seems to be a problem throughout the State. Punitive measure after punitive measure is proposed, because it’s easier to appease an ignorant constituency than it is to educate them, and, well, lead. The snake oil salesmen that grace our radio airwaves will see this as a victory, and it will embolden them to continue the constant barrage of hateful rhetoric. So, the people trapped in their cars, commuting to and from the jobs they hate, and already gripping the steering wheel so hard their knuckles are white, will be a captive, and somewhat willing audience for those that seek to de-humanize those here without documents. They are not portrayed as fathers, mothers, sons and daughters, co-workers, neighbors, or even fellow consumers. Instead, they are demonized as disease carrying vermin, whose sole purpose here is to take your job, lower your property value, infest your local hospital, and pee on your lawn. Then, weak and cowardly elected leaders will see this as an opportunity to appease their “base”, and the one-up-man-ship begins. Eventually, someone like Daniel Shertz emerges, except maybe next time he’s not caught before he can commit murder. When that day comes, everyone, elected official, radio personality, or ordinary citizen that didn’t educate themselves and those around them about this dangerous, slippery slope will be partly responsible. It continues to amaze me that this happens in a State where there are so many self-proclaimed Christians. I believe that Scripture is pretty clear on this issue. Someone please feel free to point out where in the Bible it says to belittle, exploit, and de-humanize the strangers among us, and I’ll retract. So, Kleinheider, believe it or not, many of us “compassionate elite” are wholly unconcerned about how this affects our pocketbooks. You, Sir, are smart enough to know this, are the page hits that important?

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Dusting this off for a reason…

Anybody out there remember biorythm, i think it was called?  If memory serves (which, after single-handedly wiping out an entire mexican town’s agave crop, is questionable, at best) it had to do with recognizing the patterns in your life that were, to oversimplify, either up, or down.  When your personal biorythm is up, you schedule stuff like interviews, sales calls, dates, etc.  When it is down, you stock up on movies and cheese puffs and stay your ass at home.  I need to find that book, and re-read it.  If i ever did read it.  I’ve become convinced that it has merit, this idea, that cycles emerge in our lives when stuff clicks, or it doesn’t.  True, the New-agers among us might say it’s a matter of aligned chakras, and my stoner friend that reads the stars would say my personal planets are aligned, or not.  Have you, like me, ever wondered what it’s like having your palm read, or tea leaves, or whatever?  There are a half-dozen places that offer this near me, but I grew up fearing gypsies, and i think this is their turf.  Anyway, i’m convinced that i do indeed have these cycles, and perhaps yesterday was proof of that.  All I know is, there are days when everyone i talk do, or inter-act with comes away thinking i am all “that”, as my daughter says.  Cashiers are friendly, i get superb service, i can even convince a store manager that i am in fact entitled to that refund, or discount.  Women swoon.  Men admire. Dogs and cats flock to me, and my car finds the perfect parking spot.

Then, the cycle goes the other way, and i couldn’t get laid in a whorehouse.  No matter how pure my intentions, I’m misunderstood.  It’s a little like that guy in the GPS commercial that tells the guy he has GPS, and the guy standing outside his window says, “what did you call me?”.  I swear, on those days, i could hand a complete stranger a 20 spot and somehow have it misconstrued as, i don’t know, condecension?  Now, it’s not that i can’t take the bad with the good, i have no complaints with this life, i am indeed blessed, up or down, but here is where i think it would be handy to be able to spot bad days in advance.  Yesterday, i had a meeting with a new friend, someone i didn’t know well, but that i liked a great deal, and part of me wanted to impress this person.  Apparently, though they won’t admit it, i asked an inapprproiate question, or, i was less than diplomatic or tactful when attempting to solicit more info from them, and i believe i hurt their feelings.  I’d sooner be forced to listen to Steve Gill for 24 straight hours than hurt a friend’s feelings.  i know i am a tad insensitive sometimes, maybe that comes out on the low cycle….all i know is, i’m going to see if Amazon has that book anymore, and then call my friend and apologize….

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Cause I can’t be there today.

Sadly, I cannot make it to Sarcastro’s party today, which is a shame because I had some shit planned. I know that you will get all manner of handy kid stuff. Most experienced parents will be getting you “onesies”, I should think, because you can never have enough of those. Diapers, diaper bags, strollers, car seats (which only your very best friends will spring for) and, of course, the hats. People love to put hats on babies. So, I know that you will get all the “stuff’ you need, and that today you and your lovely wife will be getting way more attention than you deserve. No matter, have fun, enjoy your friends, collect all the loot you can, while I put together a short welcome for your new baby. Since i do not know the gender of the baby (do you?) I will only know the name if it’s a boy. If a girl arrives, I’m stumped. I guess I will just make up a girl’s name to use in the greeting….

Dear Mack/Betsy, welcome to the planet. I am very excited that you are here. As you know, well, as you know on a cellular level anyway, you are an Indigo Child. As such, it will be your destiny to enlighten your parents. i’m pretty sure you will have an easy time of this with your mother, I don’t know her, but suffice to say that any soul that managed to find enough redeeming qualities in your father to marry him must be in line for sainthood. So, strictly from a time management level, you should concentrate on dad. He likes to think of himself as an independent thinker, part Libertarian, part Nathaniel Branden. Let him have this as long as you can. What HE thinks of himself is infinitely less important than what he actually is. On those days that his alter ego, Sarcastro, starts spouting off about something that you know is universally wrong, (an indigo would say unenlightened), just smile and enjoy watching him on his path. It’s what i do. He will do his level best to instill “values” in you that he thinks are important, self reliance, a good work ethic, loyalty, and so forth, not realizing that you already know about these things, again, at a cellular level. To his credit, he will attempt to teach you those things by example. The day will come in your life when the veil is lifted, and you begin to clearly see your own path. This is when the real work begins. While you go about nurturing the planet back to a healthy state, you may be in for some scathing commentary from dear old dad. The trick for you, I think, will be to continue your important work, while letting your father think his opinion actually figures into your lifework. Feel free to contact one of the Wise Ones for assistance with this. I am usually available. Anyway, the village will soon celebrate your arrival, rumor has it the Queen herself is attending the party today in your honor! Be well, baby Mack/Betsy, see you soon!

Note: I know they promised you an animal guide on this planet back at Indigo Child HQ, and you may yet get one. Do not, under any circumstances, mistake the Hypno-dog for this guide. Because it reportedly possesess a soul, you of course must treat it with the same respect you give any living thing, even when it shits all over the carpet you are about to crawl around on…sorry, not my department.

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