Saturday, March 12, 2011

Where does the money go?

You know that the U.S. government wastes a ton of money. A large chunk of that goes to foreign aid (propping up dictators and so forth). Did you ever wonder precisely where the money goes? Take a look at this interactive map. From the Center for American Progress:
"Interactive Map: Foreign Aid Analysis Made Easy"

Friday, March 11, 2011

Mashable - The Social Media Guide

Any infographic fans out there? Any dog lovers? You might like this post!

From Mashable:
"Dog: Man’s Best Facebook Friend, Too?"

Don't act all confused, you know what you need to do. Your dog wants--no, NEEDS--his own Facebook profile. And you had better accept his friend request! You'd hate to send the wrong message to your dog.

Open up a Twitter account, too. Post a "woof" from him every now and then. :)

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Is Scott Walker evil?

Is Scott Walker evil? I don't think so, but you be the judge.

From the Wall Street Journal:
"Why I'm Fighting in Wisconsin" by Scott Walker

"Most states in the country are facing a major budget deficit. Many are cutting billions of dollars of aid to schools and local governments. These cuts lead to massive layoffs or increases in property taxes—or both.

"In Wisconsin, we have a better approach to tackling our $3.6 billion deficit. We are reforming the way government works, as well as balancing our budget. Our reform plan gives state and local governments the tools to balance the budget through reasonable benefit contributions. In total, our budget-repair bill saves local governments almost $1.5 billion, outweighing the reductions in state aid in our budget.

"While it might be a bold political move, the changes are modest. We ask government workers to make a 5.8% contribution to their pensions and a 12.6% contribution to their health-insurance premium, both of which are well below what other workers pay for benefits. Our plan calls for Wisconsin state workers to contribute half of what federal employees pay for their health-insurance premiums. (It's also worth noting that most federal workers don't have collective bargaining for wages and benefits.)"

"The unions say they are ready to accept concessions, yet their actions speak louder than words. Over the past three weeks, local unions across the state have pursued contracts without new pension or health-insurance contributions. Their rhetoric does not match their record on this issue.

"Local governments can't pass budgets on a hope and a prayer. Beyond balancing budgets, our reforms give schools—as well as state and local governments—the tools to reward productive workers and improve their operations. Most crucially, our reforms confront the barriers of collective bargaining that currently block innovation and reform."

Walker is uniquely qualified here. He ran Milwaukee County the same way and was very popular. He has fought these battles before. He knows that after the initial firestorm voters will see that the changes are for the better.

Furthermore, based on his experience as a county executive, Walker is acutely aware of what local governments need to be able to cut their costs. He is pursuing policies to give them the tools to control their budgets.

Unfortunately many government agencies are not acting in the interests of the taxpayers--they are signing long term contracts without waiting for these new tools. They are so beholden their union masters that they don't even want to reduce costs to the taxpayers. In fact, this is one of the reasons that the Democrats are stalling, to give their union masters the opportunity to extend these crippling contracts that will force governments to lay off employees.

Fake friends, courtesy of your government

Here's a post that I'll dedicate to TWO groups of people. For those of you believe the government acts in our best interests. And for those of you who trust social media a bit too much. This story is for you.

From Computerworld:
"Army of fake social media friends to promote propaganda" by Darlene Storm

This is not government FOR the people. It is government AGAINST the people--it is actually government for government. They think their role is not to respond to the needs of the people but to manipulate them. They know what is best for us, and they're not afraid to tell us what to think.

So don't trust social media too much. And for crying out loud, do not trust the government.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Enjoy your tequila and chocolate now, while you can

This article discusses a number of things that we're running out of that you might not be aware of. I wasn't. From
"6 Important Things You Didn't Know We're Running Out Of"

Okay, so I don't actually care a bit about the tequila, I only put that in there to dress up the blog post title. The crisis here is the possible chocolate shortage--OBVIOUSLY!

I knew some of this, but not all of this. From the article:
"Not only is tending to cocoa trees insanely time-consuming (it takes up to five years to grow a new crop), but everything has to be done by hand in often unbearable heat. And at the end of the day, the average cocoa farmer can expect to earn about 80 cents a day for his trouble."

Damn. Lots of work goes into chocolate!!!

Here's another article about chocolate economics. From The Independent:
"Chocolate: Worth its weight in gold?"

Okay, so I have two points to make:
1. Raise the price if you have to, I'll pay it!
2. In the meantime, I'll keep stocking up on as much chocolate as I can. In my mouth and in my stomach!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

FDR and the end of the gold standard

We used to be on the gold standard in this country. Now we're not. How did that happen? Consider this article, which discusses FDR's outlawing and confiscation of gold in 1933. The article discusses not what FDR did but why he did it.

From Moonlight Mint:
"FDR’s 1933 Gold Confiscation was a Bailout of the Federal Reserve Bank" by Daniel Carr

Bear in mind as you read the article how "money" comes into being--how it used to come into being and how it now comes into being. What stops the government from printing more and more money? Nothing. Nothing at all. And when it does, all that you have worked for is diminished, the purchasing power of the money you have earned is eroded. It is another way that the government taxes us, not only without our consent but without our knowledge (for most people, anyway).

There are very few politicians who even understand this process, fewer still who stand against it. Most are happy to remain ignorant and keep growing government, at our expense. Open your eyes, and vote accordingly.

Monday, March 7, 2011

What does the Constitution actually say?

Did you ever wonder where the U.S. Federal Government gets the authority to do many of the things that it does? Well, if that's your concern it's too late. That ship has sailed. Check out this list of items that are not in the Constitution.

From the U.S. Constitution Online:
"Things That Are Not In the U.S. Constitution"

I happen to think that government (at all levels, really) does much more than it is authorized to do. But the fact that we have trampled on the Constitution throughout our history as a country makes it very difficult to utilize the argument that the government is overstepping its bounds. That's just the way we do things, I guess.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Superbike School!

We all need to take classes to stay up-to-date in whatever it is we want to stay up-to-date on. Well, this particular school is the most fun school I've ever been to: California Superbike School! Here's the link:

It is run by Keith Code. Keith is one of the leading motorcycle riding instructors in the world. He has written a number of books on motorcycle riding techniques, but I have to say that his in-person rider training is way better than the books. While his books have great content, they are not well-written--just my opinion. Point is, if you are not impressed by his books do not let that stop you from attending his school. And if you do happen to read his books, don't let his writing style get in the way of extracting all the information you can.

I'm getting the itch to go back for another session. Particularly after I read a recent post by Keith on the Forum portion of his website:
"My Own Sense Of Riding" by Keith Code

"There was a very clear moment, back in the 70’s, when I realized that others weren’t experiencing the same joys of riding I was. I honestly felt that they were being robbed. Not wanting to be a snob about it, I earnestly thought: 'Come on, don’t you see what you’re missing here? You’ve got to push it some. You’ve got to challenge yourself. You’ve got to taste some danger. You’ve got to forget about the cool accessories on the bike, just find the passion button and push it. You aren’t a mushroom digesting the seat, ride that thing!' I wanted to instantly transfer to them the passions of my world, my impressions and senses of riding. What can I say, I was na├»ve."

He then goes on to discuss, in a general sense, how he realized that it took more then riding more to get better. He had to break things down and define individual concepts, in order to be able teach them. Thus was California Superbike School born.

Keith finishes his post like this:
"That urge I had, way back when, has unfolded into this amazing array of techniques. The greatest part for me has been figuring them out, writing them down and sharing them. Start planning now to get out to the track."

I couldn't agree more. Like I said, I think I need to get back on track (so to speak!) this year. The Superbike School schedule is here, if you're interested: