Friday, June 14, 2013

My View


Random ruminations from your resident curmudgeon...


There is serious concern about the government tapping in to e-mails and phone calls of private citizens. There is concern about overreach from the IRS and its targeting of conservatives. This concern is rightly justified. The refrain from the highest levels of our government is "trust us" and by the way, we- the government- will vigorously prosecute those that have leaked information. Well, I am unconvinced that I can trust this administration or the federal bureaucracy in general. But as long as we are talking about trust and prosecuting those that leak information, let us begin with the IRS and the Environmental Protection Agency. In 2008, the IRS leaked confidential financial information of the National Organization for Marriage to an opposition group, the Human Rights Campaign. This information was damaging to the National Organization for Marriage and a clear violation of the law. yet nothing has happened in that instance. Now, it has been revealed that the EPA has released personal information for 80,000 livestock farmers in 30 states, information that includes personal addresses and GPS coordinates of the homes of the owners of the operations. This information was released to the left leaning groups Earth Justice, Natural Resources Defense Council, and the Pew Charitable Trust. The release of private information of groups to which it is opposed by this administration is criminal. But don't look for any prosecutions to come from the venal Eric Holder and his minions in the Justice Department. No, the Obama administrations and his lackeys in the bureaucracy just want us to "trust them".

Bumper stickers are really just car tattoos.

Since the revelation of the NSA domestic surveillance initiative, we have become introduced to the concept of "metadata". That is what the NSA has been collecting on American citizens (and don't think for a moment that Verizon is the only cellular carrier providing this data to the NSA), but what is it and how is it used. The telephone metadata is all information or data except the actual content of the message. With this metadata, the NSA knows when you made a phone call or sent a text message and to whom. It knows when you accessed the internet on your smart phone and what sites you visited. It knows who you are, where you are, and with whom you interact. The government knows you movements and your social network. Now, being the intelligent readers that you are, you will quickly point out that the cellular companies also know that same information. That is true, but the cellular companies do not have police powers, taxing authority, and the ability to make your life generally miserable (their weak customer service notwithstanding). A cellular provider uses this type of information for marketing purposes, and by engaging the services of a cellular carrier, we have agreed to limited access to this information. We have not entered the same type of agreement with the federal government. And given the propensity of this administration to use private information to punish and make life miserable for those that oppose them, the question becomes do we trust them. Do we trust them to protect our privacy and to treat everyone equally under the law. Given the record of this administration, we would be foolish to trust them.

Why is it called "after dark" when it is still dark? Isn't "after dark"...day?

Pay attention to the conversation in Washington about student loans. According to a report by the New York Federal Reserve, at the end of 2012, student loan obligations totaled approximately $1 TRILLION , or $25,000 per graduate. There are over 39,000,000 people that owe on student loans, and depending on the age of the borrower, the delinquency rate is between 10-20%. If Congress and the White House cannot agree on extending the current rates for student loans, the rate will double, from 3.4% to 6.8%. While this issue is garnering a tremendous amount of attention, there is something that prospective students and their parents should focus upon: tuition increases for public colleges and universities have averaged 42% for the period of 2001-2011. The increase during that same period was 31% for private schools. Now I would venture a guess that for most of us, our incomes did not increase 42% over that same period. Reflecting these increasing costs, college enrollment for the spring semester of 2013 was down 2.3%, the first decline in decades. Colleges and universities have long been insulated from economic realities- they have been able to raise tuition irrespective of economic conditions. Now, with new delivery systems, such as on-line learning and a movement by a segment of the potential college enrollees to technical training, colleges are going to have to re-think their relevancy and their cost structure. Reflecting that reality, Moody's gave a negative financial outlook for ALL U.S. colleges and universities at the beginning of 2013. Parents and students want accountability and efficacy from the college experience, and it appears that market forces are beginning to move our higher education system in that direction.

If the police arrest a mime, can he talk to an attorney?

And that, my friends, is my view.

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