Tuesday, September 30, 2008

To Bailout or Not?

I'm going to imagine that I am not alone in feeling utterly clueless about the economy. I mean, I feel confident when it comes to managing my personal finances--I use a budget, am debt free, have an emergency fund, and do my own taxes. However, when it comes to understanding what's at work behind the current financial collapses, freezes, mergers, and bailouts, I'm hopelessly confused.

However, I heard a very good explanation this morning from a CNBC panel regarding what will happen if no bailout takes place. Housing values will go down, our ability to borrow money (including the use of credit cards) will be greatly diminished, credit limits will be cut. Looming foreclosures will result in a drop in revenue generated by property taxes. This means that your community will either have to raise your property taxes or cut services or both. The most dramatic impact of this trend will be seen in the arena of public education.

Now, I realize that my cold-hearted conservatism is going to come out here, but I just have to say that, given all that, I would rather take my chances with no bailout. The sad fact of life is that bad things happen and I think it is a mistake to adopt the attitude that we should do whatever it takes to avoid hardship no matter what the cost. I have been hearing a lot of financial experts and political pundits telling us all that we have no other option. There is always another option. What happened to "Give me liberty, or give me death!"? If we could have avoided the attacks of 9-11 by giving up our freedom, would we have? Should we?

We have enjoyed such a long period of national prosperity, that I fear we have lost some of our fortitude and, therefore, our ability to choose the tough choice for the sake of preserving our ideals and our liberty. Let us not become so afraid of hard times and struggling that we will sell our very souls to avoid it.

Friday, September 26, 2008

And then . . .

I am sensing a subtle difference between Obama and McCain in this debate. Obama seems to be speaking in much broader, general terms, and McCain is speaking in specifics. McCain is making good use of his experience and is coming across very well as a potential leader who has really been in the situations Obama is only hypothesizing about.

Obama has just implied that Iran's rise to power is a result of the fact that we removed Iraq as a powerful enemy to keep it in check. Whether you agree with the fact that we went into Iraq in the first place, how can you say that the region would have been better off if Saddam Hussein was still in power?

I don't think there were any real surprises tonight. Obama got his points across well as best as I can tell. I don't agree with him, but I think he got himself across. But McCain definitely came across as more experienced and knowledgeable.

That's Debatable

Twenty minutes into the debate and the candidates are still debating tax breaks and what to spend our money on. I know I'm provincial, but I just don't like the idea of the government taking money from me to spend on non-essential items. Whenever I hear terms like "invest" with regard to taxpayer money, it just makes me want to throw things at my television. It's my job to invest my money, not the government's.

Thirty minutes in and John McCain finally said that he would consider a spending freeze on all non-essential government spending. Hallelujah! Of course, Obama considers that "using a hatchet where you should use a scalpel". But, if you're broke, you must cut everything out of your budget except that which sustains life. I just fear that we've gotten too much into being a country that doesn't trust its citizens with their own money.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Surprise Visitor

When you live in the woods--as I happily do--you are bound to get unexpected creatures in your house from time to time. I've experienced a whole variety of wild creatures invading my personal space: birds, bats, flying squirrels, lizards, etc. So I was not overwhelmingly shocked when I went into my basement and saw this:

Luckily, I was able to get this little 5-inch ring neck snake to sidewind its way into a jar and I was able to restore it to a more suitable habitat for all involved. He was a cute little guy, though.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Double Dipping

Delaware's longtime senator Joe Biden is running for re-election this year. There's really nothing unusual in that. Nothing, that is, until you consider that he is also running for vice president alongside Barack Obama. Before that, he was running for president. It seems as though Joe Biden is exceptionally eager for your vote in 2008, though he may be a little unsure as to which office he most wishes to occupy.

According to Delaware state law, Biden has the right to run for election in both campaigns at once. However, I don't see how any constituent could consider themselves well served by this practice. Not only is Biden shortchanging his senatorial duties to occupy himself with a national campaign, he is cheating Delawareans out of the chance to vote fairly for his replacement should he win both races and choose to resign from the Senate. In this case, Delaware's governor would fill his seat by appointment. This appointee would serve for two years, after which a special election would be held to finally allow voters a say. Obviously, the appointee would have a certain advantage in such an election, having been given two years to campaign while already on the job.

The whole business is utterly distasteful and only compounded by the fact that Biden is making no effort to hide his lack of regard for the state he represents. He has lived in Delaware since he was 10 years old and served in public office here since 1970, when he was 27. However, he continually promotes himself as being from Scranton, Pennsylvania. Interestingly, I don't hear Sarah Palin promoting herself as being from Idaho; instead she seems rather proud of her Alaskan home which has an even smaller population (and slower growth) than Delaware.

But take heart, Delawareans, Joe Biden still considers our state an adequate consolation prize should he fail at his greater quest.