Friday, February 24, 2006

The United Nations Needs a New Member

Veteran SpaceBeagle readers will know that I am NOT a fan of the United Nations (UN) having issued my plan to reform the UN back in 2005 which included, among other things, moving the UN headquarters from New York City to Strasbourg, France (to use the European Parliament's secondary building -- my plan assumes the UN would donate this very under-utilized building to the UN as a gesture of good will and solidarity for all things multi-lateral ) and selling its memorabilia, furniture, etc. on eBay to help cover the moving expenses.

Perhaps there is a worthy purpose for the UN afterall? Given the UN's nature as a "private club for sovereign nations" let me encourage them to invite micro-states such as the Aland Islands:

The war of 1808-09 resulted in Sweden being forced to relinquish Finland and the Aland Islands to Russia, whereby Swedish-speaking Aland became part of the Grand Duchy of Finland. When Finland gained its independence, the Alanders began to hope for reunion with Sweden.

Today the Aland Islands are a "dependency of Finland" although its inhabitants, which are majority-Swedish are semi-sovereign (except for foreign affairs issues) since they have their own parliament. These 26,000 islanders caught my attention since I live in the capital of the European Union (EU), BrusselBelgiumium part-time. In late 2005 the European Commission forced Finland to exercise its sovereignty over the Aland Islands by forcing the Alandic Parliament to comply with current EU laws such as:

  • Banning the hunting of wolves
  • Prohibiting the sale of smokeless tobacco -- known in Sweden as "snus"

This oppressibehaviorour by the EU has encouraged the Alanders to threaten to leave the EU. For more details on this you can review -- As more Swedish friends tell me the Aland Islands' economy is very limited consisting of "snus and alcohol sales for the ferry/boat passengers from Sweden and Finland........." so what is the EU plan, decimate the local economy in the Aland Islands to push these 26,000 islanders onto the Finnish welfare system?

Granted I may be rather cynical since I work within the EU public policy process where I hear and read about the EU's Stalinist plan known as the "Lisbon Agenda" that is designed to help EU countries "overtake the US economy as the most dynamic, knowledge-based economy in the world................" It did not work in the Soviet Union and it is not working in the EU. Why not simply allow the Alanders to live and profit from people exercising their freedom to choose?

There is no need for an EU policy directive on these related issues -- the Aland Islands should simply vote to leave Finland and the EU behind then seek full membership in the UN as a sovereign nation.

I would gladly lobby the US Congress on a pro bono basis for the Aland Islands to support their application for full membership in -- NATO, WTO, and even NAFTA to help counter any loss of trade they have from leaving the EU.

We need more islands of freedom in the sea of government,


Government is the only Solution ?

I have been working Brussels most of this week after my short visit to Vienna (a very nice city that I look forward to visiting again in March) so I am reviewing several Brussels-related items below:

  • Debate -- I attended the Hayek Series debate,, focused on property rights which was hosted by the online journal, TCS Overall this was an interesting line up of speakers but for a good education on your own time please consider Hernando de Soto's book, "The Mystery of Capital".

  • Restaurant -- My friend/former colleague/client/Director of IT for my blog, Heather, who is also the host of the hottest blog on the web :) hosted a group of us for dinner at Aux Armes de Bruxelles -- . I had a very nice starter of sole with shrimp and my main was a beef-based stew cooked in beer complete with onions followed by crepes stuffed with apples and caramel for dessert. The wait staff was very good and I enjoyed the restaurant's decor but the food was merely "adequate" especially given their prices. This restaurant pales in comparison to "Elements at Sanctuary" in Phoenix (see "Desert Delights" posting on this blog) so I have to rate them with the respectable "3" ranking on my 5 point scale.

Now I try to avoid discussing politics at dinner :) but my dinner colleagues baited me into trashing the Soviet model which led to a wide ranging conversation regarding what is and is not good government. One item discussed was President Bush's telephone wire tap program in the War on Terror so I stated that while such government intrusion bothers me greatly this spying is NOTHING compared to the volumes of data that MILLIONS of Americans supply to the Internal Revenue Service every April 15th when we must file taxes or suffer the various penalties.

Then I posed the simple question -- "why should the government know exactly how much money I make and what I do with it?" which led into a conversation with my European friends at the table about what role should government play and whether or not I "support the concept of 'community' at all?" to which I replied , "yes, I do support community but choose/prefer to write personal checks to charities and causes I support versus just handing 30 to 50% of personal income

(once you add in Social Security/FICA taxes, Medicare taxes, payroll taxes, sales tax, property tax, capital gains taxes, bank savings interest tax, corporate income taxes which of course make products and services more expensive for consumers, etc. dependent on your income tax bracket and ability of your tax preparer to protect you from more harm)

over to the government to let them decide what is best for society" Then I was asked by a British colleague, "so what about having your rubbish (garbage) picked up?" to which I replied, "a private company is contracted to pick up my garbage every Friday morning for which I pay a fee via my home owners' association."

I just had to pause after this verbal exchange about garbage to wonder -- "how many people like my Brit friend see government as the only or the default solution/provider for everything we need in this world?"

If you think the taxes you pay go to great and just functions to give us all a better sense of "community" then stop what you are doing and read about the work of Citizens Against Government Waste -- -- then write a personal check to your local free market, limited government think tank or help start one if you don't have one in your area today via this trade association -

Live free or on government cheese,



As I left Vienna this week for meetings in Brussels a white line appeared on my lap top screen which evolved into an array of colors and white space that ultimately consumed nearly 30% of my screen space. This technical challenge left me unable to work efficiently and more importantly prevented me from updating my blog daily!!

But after a short telephone call with Dell Computer's help desk in the USA, some email correspondence, and a visit from a Flemish-speaking technician this morning my Dell Latitude D505 lap top looks as good as new again.

Despite from typos in the transfer of my contact information from the tech help line person in the USA to his Belgian colleague everything worked very well today with the repair being completed around 10 am this morning so essentially it was completed in less than 24 hours. I must say I am impressed with Dell's customer service.

Blog on,


Monday, February 20, 2006

Cuckoo for wild boar

Reporting in from the capital of the former Austro-Hungarian Empire -- Vienna, Austria.

I am visiting for a short business trip from my base in Brussels, Belgium so just a few reviews of the local amenities:

  • Hotel Imperial -- a very exceptional (and pricey) Starwood property in central Vienna, . The quality of the staff is impressive and the rooms are well appointed. Their health club is small but functional and modern so exercise and relax.
  • Restaurant Zum Kuckuck -- if your German is as limited as mine let me educate you by saying that "Kuckuck" means "cuckoo" clocks since the restaurant has several on all of its walls. On my rating scale of "1 to "5" I want to give Kuckuck a 5 due to the excellent customer service, the decor/ambiance, and the excellent menu items we enjoyed but Kuckuck is not a "5" since I rated "Elements at the Sanctuary" in Phoenix, Arizona (see the "Desert Delights" posting here) with a "5" so Kuckuck must settle with a "4.5" for overall experience. This restaurant is about a 10 minute walk from the Hotel Imperial through a very stylish and clean section of Vienna. My meal included -- a deer ham, wild boar sausage starter coupled with minced veal stuffed cabbage rolls with a side dish of asparagus wrapped with bacon (for more on bacon visit -- for my main followed by a chocolate torte and pastry with ice cream. A very excellent meal!!

So far Vienna has proved to be a very nice city to visit despite its imperial past of repressing its neighbors :)

Guten Abend,



Hello Cleveland!!

If you like music like me then you now have an urge to pop "Spinal Tap" into your DVD for some quality couch time but let me focus on another band I was reminded of today while reading USA Today on my flight to Vienna, Austria is "Presidents of the United States of America" ( who gave us the catchy tune, "Peaches."

This band name came to mind when I saw USA Today's "Snapshots" (Registered) entitled, "Favorite Commander in Chief: Most popular US President among kids" which included the following results:

Abraham Lincoln -- 23%
George Washington -- 15%
Franklin D. Roosevelt -- 9%
George W. Bush -- 8%
John F. Kennedy -- 8%

Now I could offer a wide range of observations regarding these results such as the absence of President Bill Clinton (a good result!) but I want to especially focus on what is a complete shame that I hope is corrected via greater school choice in our country. The one president clearly deserving of at least the Number 3 ranking on this list is President Ronald Reagan given his clear leadership in sending the Soviet "Evil Empire" Union to the landfill of history while avoiding nuclear war and massive war casualties at the same time. President Reagan's military buildup and deficit spending was a stake in the heart of Soviet expansionism and proved a much more effective foreign policy versus President Jimmy Carter's sterile policies of:

1.) Boycotting the Olympic Games
2.) Refusing to sell wheat to the Soviet Union

Granted President Reagan did not eliminate the two federal departments he promised us (Education and Energy) while actually creating a new department (Veterans Affairs) so yes government grew but the USA survived and the Soviet Union died -- not a bad trade off. Our next step in honoring President Reagan would be cutting the federal government at least by 50%.

For more on President Reagan's achievements please visit my friends at:



Saturday, February 18, 2006

Hello left hand, I am the right hand

I hesitate to disclose this fact but while I served in the Government of the Student Body at Iowa State University I served on the Provost's "Committee on Committees." (COC) My goodness, can anything smell more bureaucratic? The idea was for this committee to serve as a focal point that would create a better understanding of what was happening in all of the university's various colleges. Despite its politburo-esque nature I found this body to be very informative since I was exposed to a wide variety of issues.

During my trip to Arizona this week I was reminded of the COC after I read two articles in the Arizona Republic entitled -- "Gordon to Stress Investing in City" (the Mayor of Phoenix) and "Capitol a 'disaster' area" (Arizona's state capitol grounds). The first article focused on Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon's State of the City speech which highlighted the fact Arizona State University's (ASU) downtown Phoenix campus (they are in Tempe today) is expected to open this fall. The second article focused on the ugly, crumbling, uninspiring Arizona capitol complex complete with its House and Senate buildings. One suggestion for the renovation of this area was the demolition and reconstruction of new House and Senate buildings. The most important note in this article was -- "In November 2005, a group of ASU undergraduates released a comprehensive plan to revitalize the Capitol Mall." (Source - Arizona Republic, February 14, 2006)

I almost dread saying this but I have to pose the question -- does the State of Arizona have OR does it need a similar "Committee on Committees" (potential members -- Governor, , one elected mayor, chairman of the Board of Regents, State Treasurer, and the Auditor General to better coordinate major capital projects? I pose this question due to my cheap, German farmer ancestry which makes me think that IF 1.) ASU is creating a new, downtown Phoenix campus AND 2.) the Arizona state capitol needs a complete renovation THEN why not have ASU and the Capitol Mall enter into a joint building development plan?

Imagine a multi-function building complete with all Arizona state government branches coupled with a center of higher education such as ASU? The state legislature meets part-time and summers at a university tend to be quiet anyway so why not combine all of these taxpayer-supported entities into one modern building that better reflects Arizona's history, culture, and ecosystem which the current Capitol Mall complete with grassy areas (what were they thinking???!!!!) does not do today?

See you at the committee meeting,


The Hounds of Medicine

Earlier this week I had a business dinner at Harvey's in the Warehouse District of Minneapolis. Little did both of us know there was a live band,, playing at a fundraiser for the "Three Day Race for the Cure" to fight breast cancer -- I purchased some raffle tickets to support the cause and ending up winning a gift certificate to Harvey's -- not a bad way to build your customer base and get a tax deduction :)

Sometimes the world offers amazing connections because while reading the "Life" magazine insert in the next morning's newspaper I read a short article entitled, "Sniffing Out Cancer", which focused on the ability of dogs to detect early-stage breast cancer simply by sniffing patients. Apparently researchers in California will publish a report in March 2006 in the journal Integrative Cancer Therapies which shows that "trained Labrador retrievers and Portuguese water dogs" were able to detect the following:

  • Early and late-stage breast cancer with 88 percent accuracy
  • Lung cancer with 99 percent accuracy

Some initial thoughts for consumers and policy makers based on my quick report of this forthcoming report:

  • Smokers should buy a Lab or water dog this week :)
  • The Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure should integrate these California researchers and dogs into future events
  • Insurance companies should adopt a more holistic approach to health care by working with veterinarians and medical doctors to incorporate dogs like these into prevention plans by adjusting reimbursement policies that allow the medical system to explore new, innovative solutions such as this one appears to be.

Research not resistance,


Desert Delights

This past week I had a working vacation for some business meetings in my former home of Phoenix, Arizona which overlapped with a business conference my girlfriend was working at so we had a chance to see the Phoenix nightlife. My review of several activities follows below:

  • Elements -- . My friends Tom and Ben hosted us for dinner at this excellent restaurant. My appetizer was a FANTASTIC dates/marcona tart which was rich enough to be a dessert. For my main/entree I enjoyed their grilled ahi tuna which would have pleased King Neptune himself. This restaurant clearly exceeds my "5" highest level rating. If you are in the Valley of the Sun this is a must visit venue.
  • Lon's at the Hermosa -- . This was our venue for a Valentine's Day dinner so the restaurant was VERY busy but that should not have affected service such as the lackluster performance at the bar area while we waited for our reservation. There was one bartender working he was out of a few standard beers a bar should stock then he had to retrieve more wine glasses after I was able to order a merlot -- the lesson here is that TWO (2) bartenders would have improved the experience for all patrons. For dinner I had the beef filet (butterflied which was excellent) but the spinach side dish was essentially a salt block better fit for deer versus myself eating it. Sadly, I have to award Lon's with a "3" rating but want to give them a "4" due to the quality of our waiter but will leave them at a "3" since the "fondue for two" was uninspired in presentation. No grade inflation from Professor Beagle!!! :)
  • "Munich" -- I took some time off to see a matinee of this film which I would rate with a "1" (out of 5) but would give them a "2" if the theatre refunded my money! The film is focused on the 1972 Munich Olympics hostage taking and the follow up action by the Massad of Israel to assassinate the terrorists involved. As a amateur historian I thought the film lacked any historical context and some of the worst character development I have seen in a film for quite a long time. I did not check the credits for who was responsible for casting but assuming it was done accurately according to the book the film was based on the character of "Papa" who ran the private family business who sold intelligence to both sides of battles to the highest bidder was quite an odd character. "Papa" was a cross between Don Corleone in the Godfather and Dom DeLuise in the kitchen,!! :)

Overall it was nice to visit Phoenix again. I won't be able to attend Spring Training this year to see the Cactus League teams but hopefully 2006 will be an option.

See you at Fat Man's Pass,


Friday, February 17, 2006

March Madness

As February draws to a close that means the college basketball season is headed toward the NCAA tournament known as "March Madness" to determine a TRUE national champion (here is hoping NCAA Division I football leadership will get the idea for reforming the current BCS system).

As regular readers know I announced that after my alma mater Iowa State Cyclones my favorite basketball team is the University of North Florida (UNF) in Jacksonville (see my posting entitled " #334") which was named the lowest rated team, #334, for the pre-season according to the "Sagarin ratings" which is regularly published by USA Today. On February 16th the latest Sagarin ratings for men's college basketball were published with my Cyclones at #57 and the UNF Ospreys now sitting at #327 with a 6 and 19 season record!!! Progress, my friends. I am proud to wear my UNF t-shirt at the gym :)

Here are the Top Ten rated men's teams for this week in case you missed it:

Ohio State

A quote to close this posting courtesy of my high school team mate -- Barry K. -- "When the hand goes up the ball goes in it.........."


Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Taxing our way to Prosperity

During the 2005 Minnesota legislative session there was a proposal to create a new, maximum 11% percent state income tax bracket (up from the current 8%) on the state's highest wage earners.

I was reminded of this mis-guided tax policy which was advocated by state Senator Larry Pogemiller (Democrat) this past weekend when I read the local Pioneer Press newspaper. Included in the business section was a graphic depicting the number of public companies based in Minnesota which ranged from:

1998 293
1999 268
2000 246
2001 224
2002 210
2003 196
2004 174
2005 166
2006 165

SOURCE: Tom Smith for the Fact Book

That is a whopping loss of 128 companies over the last 8 years or 16 companies per year. Some potential reasons for this loss of course would be -- mergers and acquisitions by non-Minnesota companies, moving headquarters "off shore" to avoid corporate taxes, and economic failure/bankruptcy/liquidation however since the state's unemployment rate is very low this suggests other factors are at work.

Perhaps corporate leaders in Minnesota simply lost hope that the state would ever have tax reform that would remove us from the upper tier of highly taxed states and decided to move their companies to other states. Ask yourself this -- if you are the CEO of a company looking to expand or move your headquarters to a more business-friendly state would the fact that Minnesota has (could have had in 2005 to be exact) the highest personal income tax rate in the USA discourage you from considering Minnesota as an option?

Can any of our 201 Minnesota state legislators explain this loss of 128 companies over the last 8 years? Does Senator Pogemiller think that "taxing our way into prosperity" is a sound public policy solution? If that is the case why stop at only 11% of personal income -- let's take 50% so we will be even richer!!

Please send me food stamps,


Friday, February 10, 2006

Meet me in St. Louis, Louie............

While on a short business trip to St. Louis this week I was riding in a taxi to my room at the Westin Hotel (very nice accommodations and staff service, I would rate them with a "4.5") my driver was listening to a black (aka African-American -- February is Black History Month after all) talk radio host's program.

Now this was the day after the Super Bowl so the radio host was focused on how late in the year the Super Bowl is now played (February 5th) versus years ago when it was in mid-January each year. The radio host made the comment that -- "this is Black History Month, which is already the shortest month of the year so we only have 28 days this year to celebrate our heritage but now we have to share a day with the Super Bowl. We already have to give up a day to Valentine's Day every year.............." -- this comment was offered in a very humorous tone which had the taxi driver (ebony guy) and myself (ivory guy) laughing out loud in "perfect harmony" -- apologies to McCartney and Wonder :)

As for St. Louis itself the Westin Hotel is located directly across the street from the new St. Louis Cardinals' baseball stadium which looks like a great project but beyond that let me offer these observations:

  • International Bowling Hall of Fame -- while walking around my hotel area I noticed this building but they were closed on Mondays. However a staff member let me enter to grab a brochure and see the lobby,
  • Kemolis -- this Italian restaurant opened in St. Louis in 1927. I had an excellent meal consisting of various appetizers (go with the fried artichoke hearts!!), a portabello salad, and beef tips over risotto. Now this is a rare rating but I have to award them my top honor of a "5". Visitors to St. Louis should plan to eat here.
  • Urban Renewal -- I wish the downtown development entity would hire me to give them some ideas for redeveloping the area but here are some freebies to get them started; 1.) Promote the Bicentennial of the Lewis and Clark expedition. I did not see any evidence the city even knew this historic celebration is happening. 2.) Work with the National Trust for Historic Preservation to develop their "Main Street" program on a neighborhood-by-neighborhood basis,

Overall, a pleasant trip to St. Louis which I have not seen since my early teenage years but they need some gentrification.

Drink Bevo,


Thursday, February 09, 2006

The 6th Commandment

While attending church last Sunday I noticed a post card campaign addressed to President Bush (why not addressed to the United Nations or the African Union,, leadership??) in the church bulletin entitled, "Save Darfur Coalition", which if you don't know is a region of Sudan experiencing a modern day genocide. An overview of the current situation is excerpted below:

History of the ConflictOpen warfare erupted in Darfur in early 2003 when the two loosely allied rebel groups, the Sudan Liberation Movement/Army (SLA) and the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), attacked military installations. In response, "Janjaweed" militias received government support to clear civilians from areas considered disloyal to the Sudanese government.

The sad reality is that the people of Darfur are being treated like the people of Rwanda who were slaughtered in that nation's Hutu vs. Tutsi civil war. Even worse this conflict is a religious one of Muslims vs. Christians with the Christians being "displaced" (killed) in the process. Given my religious beliefs, my love of freedom, and my promotion of open markets for goods, services, and people this genocide is completely tragic but also shows how governments do NOT help people -- governments tend to help the "tribe" that supports them as evidenced by the "success" of the Janajweed militias who are quasi-government employees.



Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Super Ads

Sunday, February 5th, was "Super Bowl Sunday", of course so like other devout followers of the religion of football I attended a party in my housing association's club house. Let me begin by congratulating the Pittsburgh Steelers on their victory over the Seattle Seahawks.

What I most noticed -- beyond the poor quality of the NFL referees -- was that the party attendees were very talkative during the game but became quiet when the advertisements were running. Based on the post-Super Bowl news articles I read it appears that at least 8 to 10% of game watchers tune in JUST to watch the commercials.

My second observation on the game is a question to the NFL -- what demographic group are you trying to focus on? One year you have Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake as the half-time performers and another year you give us the Rolling Stones. Perhaps there are a lot of cross-over fans for these artists but I doubt it. Since most Super Bowl-related newspaper articles cite that a growing segment of NFL fans are women perhaps Mick and the Boys are considered sexual icons despite Keith Richards' corpse-like appearance.

Overall my love of American football continues despite all the sideshows such as -- half time performers and TV commercials -- but would love to see the NFL focus Super Bowl 2007 on FOOTBALL so here are some suggestions (DISCLAIMER -- granted these might have been tried already and I missed them but then again I am not sending an invoice to the NFL for the ideas, I am just a football purist trying to promote the game.):

  • Punt, Pass, and Kick -- showcase the PPK champions at the beginning of the game to help reach the youth market by creating some "youth rock stars" in football to counter the gains made by soccer.
  • Arena Football -- the NFL signed a deal with the AFL years ago but do you ever see Arena Football highlighted during the Super Bowl?
  • High Schools -- I always see the Top 25 high school football team rankings in USA Today but why not give the top team at the end of the season some recognition at the Super Bowl?



Friday, February 03, 2006

Oppressed Workers

Since I started blogging in September 2005 I have always been on the lookout for content. I clip newspapers articles, read electronic newsletters, etc. in search of ideas. Tonight is a good example -- after leaving the gym I went grocery shopping at Cub Foods where I started talking with the checkout lady. She appeared to be in her fifties, perhaps single (no ring) , with or without kids, and had an overall happy personality. I asked her how long she had been working in this job to which she replied that she had been working at Cub Foods part-time for the last 2.5 years but she also has worked full-time "sitting in front of a computer" for the last 23 years where she receives FIVE (5) WEEKS OF VACATION EACH YEAR!!

The check out lady went on to tell me that she works seven (7) days per week and really enjoys having two (2) very different jobs since when she is working one job it is a bit of an "escape" for her from the other job and vice versa.

What I noticed the most was her upbeat personality. She did not complain about the work hours, lack of leisure time, and similar concerns. This very short conversation really encouraged me since it was completely contrary to the messages we often receive from politicians that "Americans are working 4 jobs to make ends meet and the government needs to help 'working class Americans'.................." Sadly what I rarely hear is legislative progress on the creation of a flat income tax or ever better the elimination of personal income taxes. If you don't believe the best government "help" for the American worker is tax relief then I suggest you get a part-time job so you can pay EVEN MORE income taxes so you provide the government with more revenue so they can "invest it" in American workers :)

In the immortal words of Prisoner/former Member of Congress James Traficant of Ohio --

"Beam me up",


Thursday, February 02, 2006

Get Fat, Get Famous

After playing racquetball tonight I stopped in the TV lounge in the Men's Locker room to relax for a few minutes. Someone had the TV tuned to "Entertainment Tonight" (ET) which aired an interview with ice skating convict, Tonja Harding. I did not recognize Ms. Harding until the guy watching it said to me, "you recognize her? that's Tonja Harding" which was quite a shock since she is RATHER obese currently so I am guessing she would actually fall through the ice were she still skating today.

As the interview progressed we learned that Ms. Harding "hit rock bottom several times....." after the baby-seal-like-clubbing Ms. Harding's friends gave Nancy Kerrigan's legs several years ago to enhance Ms. Harding's chances of winning some figure skating championship. What caught my attention in the interview as I walked away was when the anchorman said, "be sure to watch ET tomorrow night to see Tonja's answer when she is asked whether or not she would be willing to join the Celebrity Fit Club..........." (TV program) .

I had purged my gray matter of any memory of Tonja Harding until I saw this ET interview so it got me thinking in terms of this disease/mental condition -- which I have identified as "Warhol Syndrome" -- some people apparently have developed. This condition of course is a derivative of Andy Warhol's famous quote that "everybody will be famous for 15 minutes someday...."

Clearly Ms. Harding felt compelled to resurface in the public eye complete with her newly developed obesity much like Kirstie Alley did with her "fat actress" character. The intersection of things in popular culture is oftentimes stunning -- today we have obese teenagers armed with class action suit-wielding trial lawyers suing fast food companies for "causing" their obesity while at the same time these teenagers are likely watching four (4) hours of TV each day,, (which is 9 years of your life if you live to age 65!!!!) which are likely to include the Tonja Harding interview or Kirstie Alley telling the world as great it is to be fat. So tell me again why the shareholders of McDonald's, Wendy's, or Burger King should lose money due to lack of personal responsibility in America?

Time for a snack,


Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Train Wreck

Last night I listened to AM 1500 (Minneapolis/St. Paul) to catch President Bush's State of the Union address while driving home from racquetball then watched the rest of the speech on TV by channel surfing to see the different styles of news coverage. I must say that having FOX News' news bar providing the statistic that President Bush's speech was "interrupted 58 times by applause...." is a factoid (a reference to my buddy Tom A.'s lingo) that I do not need. Frankly, the standing ovations are like the halftime show at the Super Bowl -- not vital to the game and wholly forgettable unless it involves Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake bringing pseudo-rape into our homes :( Reminder to the general public -- the Super Bowl includes an American football game but more on that in my February 5th posting.

Yes I find the "applause episodes" most annoying but it is encouraging to see Members of Congress jump to their feet - if only they would exhibit such enthusiasm for reducing our tax burdens. However, since I am not one to complain ALL the time :) let me highlight one applause episode that really caught my attention. President Bush stated that "I offered a plan to save Social Security and the Congress failed to act on it........." (paraphrasing) to which a sub-section of the assembled House and Senate leaped to their feet in enthusiastic response. Based on my quick review of the Members participating in this standing ovation were the usual suspects when it comes to advocating the "big government knows best, it just needs more 'investment' (tax money) status quo model" such as keeping the current Social Security model intact.

In case you have been living in a cave for the last 20 or 30 years let me offer this news flash -- the Social Security system is a train wreck waiting to happen because it has become (originally designed in 1935 as?? a Ponzi Scheme. So what is a Ponzi Scheme beyond being an illegal pyramid scheme designed to rob people? Let me offer a definition from none other than the US Federal Government via its Securities and Exchange Commission:
Ponzi schemes are a type of illegal pyramid scheme named for Charles Ponzi, who duped thousands of New England residents into investing in a postage stamp speculation scheme back in the 1920s.

So creating a Ponzi Scheme on Wall Street is clearly illegal but if you create/perpetuate a scheme we call the Social Security system (involuntary taxation) then it is called "public service."

The job of Congress is simple -- leave our money in our pockets.