Tuesday, July 29, 2008

NOLA -- further thoughts

As noted earlier I attended the annual meeting of the National Conference of State Legislatures (www.ncsl.org -- if readers want to know more but I can tell you that these people simply want to consume more of your wealth to pay for more government programs) in New Orleans last week.

After returning home to Minnesota I reflected on the local media reports I read about the "Hurricane Katrina recovery efforts/status three years later...................." No where did I see how much money was spent -- tax dollars, private sector donations, and of course the man-hours of donated volunteer labor -- so far on the "recovery efforts" but it has to be at billions and billions of dollars by now.

So given how "green" our society has become with our focus on eating organic foods, recycling, and driving Toyota Prius cars everywhere I have to pose this question? Why didn't our nation simply pay - publicly and privately -- to turn most of New Orleans into "green space" instead of rebuilding everything?

Since we were all obligated to spend the money anyway why didn't we relocate families and businesses to "non-Hurricane" areas thereby letting nature reclaim large sections of land. So tell me former Senator John Edwards - from North Carolina who seems to be living in New Orleans given his multiple press events there -- "if you are so concerned that global warming is going to destroy our planet WHY in God's name our we rebuilding this city instead of creating more green space that would process more of the CO2 that apparently threatens our very existence?"

The answer my friends -- with a "crisis" to address politicians like John Edwards and Al Gore would be on food stamps.

Green space not levees,


Thursday, July 24, 2008


Since my professional work requires me to attend numerous conferences this week I find myself staying in New Orleans, Louisiana yet again. I believe I have been in this city at least four times now so before and after Hurricane Katrina to be exact.

While I did not tour the infamous 9th Ward which three years after the hurricane damage is still a disaster area based on the TV and newspaper coverage I have seen this week. Now I am not a heartless bastard but my personality is wired to take action so I was a bit shocked when I read today's local newspaper. One article stated that the 9th Ward Homeowners Association recently held a fundraising event where some of the proceeds would be used to "mow the weeds a this empty lot........." which included a photo of the homeowners association president. What? Is the poverty so bad in this part of town that three years after the hurricane no one has a working lawn mower with gasoline or if nothing else a corn knife or machete so these weeds could be cut? I can tell you if we lived there our father would have my brother and I outside cleaning up as soon as the hurricane water receded. We would not have sat on our porch holding signs that said, "FEMA come help us!" Help us? Hell, if agencies like FEMA did not consume our tax dollars we would all have more money available to better recover from disasters.

One final observation on the "hurricane recovery" media coverage this week . Former presidential/vice presidential candidate and former US Senator from NORTH CAROLINA (yes, that is important so don't forget) John Poverty Edwards held yet another press conference to announce his "green house building project" as part of an overall poverty elimination project. Reminder -- when he announced his run for president in 2007 Senator Edwards held the event in the 9th Ward of New Orleans so let's encourage him to take the next logical step. Become a full time resident of Louisiana so you can run for political office OR better yet -- start a business and employ some people instead of having what appears to be weekly press conferences.

Just don't move to Minnesota -- we can handle our challenges Mr. Edwards,


Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Advancement via Competition

Finally something for the conservative base to get excited about in terms of the McCain for President!! During Senator John McCain's speech to the NAACP - National Association for the Advancement of Colored People - in Cincinnati Senator McCain stated that as president he would --

"expand education opportunities, partly through vouchers for low income children to attend private schools..............

The article I read in our local newspaper (www.twincities.com) went on to state that Senator Obama has "dismissed support for private school vouchers for low income Americans."

While I am very encouraged by Senator McCain's comments I have to say he did not go far enough. His speech should have called our failing public schools in poor neighborhoods EXACTLY what they are -- "modern day plantations" not centers of education excellence.

So at this point in the presidential campaign the black candidate - Obama - is keeping poor blacks on the plantations/schools via his opposition to a voucher system that would finally make schools compete for students.

McCain's speech is essentially a modern day Emancipation Proclamation but sadly I did not see any media coverage speaking in those terms.

Get a dream Mr. Obama,


Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Created by Consumers

Today's Financial Times included a chart detailing the "World's Largest Companies" (by market capitalization) in the world today. This top ten listed included:

1. ExxonMobil - US$431 billion
2. PetroChina - $384
3. Gazprom - $298
4. General Electric - $279
5. China Mobile - $268
6. Microsoft - $241
7. Industrial and Commercial Bank of China - $240
8. Petrobras - $235
9. Royal Dutch Shell -- $232
10. Wal Mart Stores - $228

Now if we break these ten companies down by category we end up with --

-5 companies are energy/oil producers
-3 of these companies are Chinese entities
-4 of these companies are American/USA companies

Given the high price of oil/gasoline today coupled with the growing energy demands of China it is no surprise that 5 of these corporations are energy companies. However their size and market value should not be surprising since consumers spent their own money via market decisions to create these giants -- although PetroChina, GazProm, and Petrobras are essentially products of national governments.

While reading this list in the Financial Times was educational all readers would have benefited if the article would have included a chart showing the "World's Largest Companies" from 50 or even 100 years ago to offer some historical perspective to show how the world economy has changed over time.

Economic history is essential summertime reading,


Monday, July 21, 2008

Algae - the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Any blog posting on "algae" is probably out of the ordinary anyway so no one will be surprised that I am reversing the order of this posting's title as I comment:


Algae itself is a very simple life form and is not particularly attractive -- essentially it reminds me of my last prom date. (ok - I admit it , I did not take a date to prom but you get the idea)


As the science community tells us "algae blooms" represent the "Bad" of global warming --


"Harmful Algae Takes Advantage Of Global Warming: More Algae Blooms Expected
ScienceDaily (Apr. 7, 2008) — You know that green scum creeping across the surface of your local public water reservoir? Or maybe it's choking out a favorite fishing spot or livestock watering hole. It's probably cyanobacteria -- blue-green algae -- and, according to a paper in the April 4 issue of the journal Science, it relishes the weather extremes that accompany global warming."


Yet in the July 17, 2008 edition of the New York Times newspaper we find this article title, "Planes that are Quieter, Cleaner and More Efficient are in Demand". As the article noted Boeing Corporation is experimenting with a "tank of bright green algae, the potential feeding ground for a jet fuel substitute."


So let me get this straight -- people should reduce their air travel to help cut emissions which cause global warming which causes algae blooms but yet algae is also viewed as a "feeding ground for a fuel substitute (NYT)".................

Looked at another way - so we should drive our SUVs and fly to faraway places for vacation (like Stockholm to accept our Nobel Prize Mr. Al Gore?) so that we use up these evil fossil fuels which produce global warming which of course produces algae blooms which of course might supply an alternative fuel source to replace fossil fuels.................. I am dizzy!

Then again we were all told not to eat bacon in the 1980's due to "high levels of nitrates" but no one is focused on this "bacon crisis" today so clearly the scientific research has changed. For more on bacon please visit -- http://www.baconunwrapped.com/

Green yet confused,


Monday, July 14, 2008

Spas and Election Campaigns

Years ago when I worked on political campaigns full time I would have loved to been able to take some time off to visit a day spa just to relax a little but two major reasons I did not -- we worked nearly 7 days a week and I was poor!! Not food stamp level poor but poor enough to avoid such luxuries.

So today's Wall Street Journal article caught my eye - "Spas go all out to give kids the treatment" -- here we go again, marketing to children!! When will it stop!!?? Now I think we can all agree that a sea salt scrub is probably less harmful than a bubble gum cigar but I am certain a "child welfare" activist will seek a lawsuit against the spa industry for preying on America's youth.

The major reason for this marketing to children? Building consumer loyalty early to gain revenues since spa industry revenues have dropped in recent years as noted in this article:

2005 -- $9.7 billion

2006 -- $9.4 billion

Now that seems like a lot of money spent on pampering ourselves but I don't hear the activist community crying out about this vast sum of money that could be better "invested" in public schools or health insurance ponzi schemes like we hear people say about political campaign spending.

So how much will be spent on the presidential election in 2008? Perhaps just over $1 billion for all candidates based on this website's research --


So the next time you or your friends complain about "all these TV and radio ads by politicians.............." just laugh a little while you walk to your massage appointment. I know I will be doing so myself.

Breathe deeply,


Monday, July 07, 2008

Absolutely No Change

During this year's presidential election Senator Obama/Democratic National Committee talking heads have consistently used the messaging that "electing Senator John McCain is the same as giving President George W. Bush a third term.............." to help reinforce Obama's "Change we can believe in" campaign theme.

Before I get to the heart of this posting I have to ask -- "why didn't Sen. Hillary Clinton simply campaign on the theme that we need to 'give President Bill Clinton a third term by electing me' since we are constantly told the "Clinton Years" were America's golden years? Personally I have to say that such a theme would have given me yet ANOTHER reason to vote against her to avoid more personal pain.

Speaking of pain I actually want to scream whenever I hear the "Change" phrase mentioned by Sen. Obama or party officials. Change what? Hell I want "change" myself such as a flat personal income tax of 15% paid on incomes over $500,000 but I doubt Sen. Obama agrees with my version of change. He has failed to give any specifics regarding how he would define change but I got a hint last week via a New York Times article that was republished in my local Minnesota newspaper. The headline read --

"Obama embraces faith-based programs"
Amazing "change" Senator Obama -- this is exactly the concept that President Bush gave us and I hated it then so I hate the idea even more today now that you are promoting the concept. If this is the "change" you are promoting then by all means the country should elect Sen. McCain since we are told that would create a "third Bush term" as noted earlier. The idea here is that the federal government takes our money from us then determines where best this money should be spent to deliver "social services" via the faith community.
So theoretically my taxes could be sent to Washington DC where the White House would then theoretically decide that my local church -- Grace Lutheran in Apple Valley, Minnesota -- should be the recipient of a "faith-based grant/program" of tax dollars so my church can expand its food shelf program to which my family already donates food and toilteries.
How is that for inefficiency for you? Why does anyone support such a system when inspired, motivated, and/or caring local citizens like me should simply be allowed to keep our tax dollars in our pockets so WE can decide where our donations go to benefit civil society - such decisions should not be made by Presidents Bush, Obama, or McCain.
Render unto Caesar what is Caesar's and render unto the Lord what is the Lord's as the Bible verse goes which makes me ask -- "if Jesus only wants 10% of our wealth (tithe) why should the federal government expect 28 or 31%?"
Praying for revolution not "change",

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Teaching Obesity

Well between a family vacation to my home state of Iowa last week and an unplanned business trip to Washington DC on Sunday and Monday this week I have not focused on posting on this blog but wonders of all wonders -- the nation's capital inspired me to write!!

As I sat in a hotel lobby between meetings in Washington DC a group of very large/clearly obese people were gathering near me during a break in the conference they were attending. What conference? The National Education Association (www.nea.org ) which is the largest labor union for America's teachers and perhaps our greatest roadblock to full blown school choice that empowers parents and students to act as consumers of education services instead of recipients (dare I say - "victims" ?) of the education establishment.

This group's obvious obesity status caught my attention because for years I have seen the media coverage of "childhood obesity, lawsuits against McDonald's, and vending machines selling junk food in our schools to raise money for the school because we completely selfish tax slaves aren't spending (sorry - "investing") enough on the education establishment..............."

The other thought that hit me was a research study released to the public a few months ago that concluded -- "if you have obese friends you too will likely become obese......" So who made these teachers obese -- McDonald's , their students, or perhaps did they get obese because they are not competing for their jobs since they work in a protected monopoly known as the public school?

Beyond the obvious obesity my other observation was the language/grammar used by these "teachers" -- my God, had Bill Cosby attended this NEA convention he would have no doubt delivered an entire speech on how these teachers are harming their students' futures via their use of ebonics/hip hop lingo/etc. It clearly was not the King's English that I heard in that hotel lobby.

Investments should produce returns not protected monopolies,