Friday, August 10, 2012

My View

Random ruminations from your resident curmudgeon...

Have you heard of "baby hatches"? As the debt load of countries and individuals has exploded across the Eurozone, these devices have popped up in 11 different countries. A baby hatch is a box where an unwanted infant can be left anonymously, typically by a family that can no longer afford to raise the child. Once the baby is placed in the box, a sensor notifies authorities and a caregiver is sent out to retrieve the child, who then becomes a ward of the state. Currently, baby hatches can be found in countries such as Germany, Italy, and Portugal. In countries where baby hatches are prohibited by national law, the number of infants abandoned at hospitals and churches has also risen. According to SOS Villages, a European charity that works with families with children that are encountering dire financial hardship, 1,200 children were abandoned in Greece last year and 750 in Italy. I mention these two countries in particular, because they are the furthest down the road to financial disaster in the European Union. In particular, Greece now has 27% of its population that is facing bankruptcy and poverty. So what do baby hatches have to do with Greece, Italy, and other countries and their economic policies? The economic policies of any nation are often theories about how certain actions will affect growth, inflation, or a host of other financial measures. But the reality is that economic policies intersect with the lives of real people and have a dramatic impact on them. Profligate spending got the Eurozone in dire financial distress, and as they attempt to work out of it, painful austerity measures have collided with families and their means of support as jobs have been lost in startling numbers. One result is the advent of baby hatches and the practice of abandoning children because they cannot be afforded. So the next time you hear a politician talk about economic programs, government spending, raising taxes...whatever, understand that these actions can have real and damaging consequences. Maybe not now, but ultimately, there is a price to be paid for our spending and lack of discipline. And often that price is a human toll on society.

Unfortunately, there is no 12 step program for stupid.

As we get closer to the national election, campaign ads get more untruthful and vicious. Lies, half-truths, and political spin dominate the airwaves, but you, my friends know that in this blog, I deal with facts and always cite my sources. Now here is a fact that you will not hear from the mainstream press or the Democratic Party...wait, I repeat myself. Anyway, here you go: in the 2010 mid-term elections, 17 states elected new Republican governors, most of whom campaigned on reducing taxes, regulations, and putting their citizens back to work. How have they fared? Every single one of those states- EVERY ONE- has reduced unemployment . The average drop in unemployment in all 17 of those states was 1.35%. Three states that has been dealing with intractably high unemployment- Michigan, Florida, and Nevada- saw their unemployment rate fall by over 2%, according to data compiled by the There has been no magic to these results. Instead, these 17 governors have freed local businesses to begin hiring again and new businesses to start by lowering taxes and getting the state government out of the way of these job creators. Seeing these kind of results and comparing them to what is happening nationally leads me to believe that our elected national leaders should sit down with these governors and take some notes. Because what is being done in Washington to stimulate the economy and create jobs is failing miserably.

Some say life is like a box of chocolates. I rather think it is more like a jar of jalapenos- what you do today may burn your ass tomorrow.

Want to see what government looks like when it claims absolute power? When it positions itself as the only source of knowledge and decision making? Hang on for a few absurdities. In Europe, the Court of Justice of the European Union has ruled that if a worker gets sick during their 4 to 6 week annual vacation leave, they are entitled to take another vacation. The Court ruled that the purpose of a vacation was to enable the worker to enjoy a period of rest and leisure, and that an illness compromised that enjoyment. So, the workers can claim illness and receive additional time off for the time they were sick. Never mind what it does to an employer and trying to schedule workers around ever growing vacations. Or consider in the U.S. where the EPA requires that oil refiners use a substance- cellulosic ethanol- in the refining process. The only problem with this requirement? Cellulosic ethanol doesn't exist. Yet refiners are having to pay fines for not using a product that has not been commercially produced. In fact, the Congressional Research Service says that cellulosic ethanol will not be commercially available until 2015. The absurdity of these situations is laughable except for the fact that it is costing taxpayers and businesses millions of dollars in fines, taxes, and fees. And the root cause of these laughable and ludicrous situations is the arrogance of those in power, divorced from the realities of daily living, who think they know best what you and I need.

I went to a general store this past week, but they wouldn't let me by anything specifically.

And that, my friends, is my view.

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