The Debt Ceiling: The Case of the Empty Cash Box

16 10 2013

I thought about apologizing for writing about something other than food – again – as I have been in my last couple of posts.  But I decided against it.  That’s what a blog is; a place where anyone can write about what’s on their mind and put it out there for others to read.  So the choice is yours, my friends – read it or not.

I hear people say that they don’t vote because their vote doesn’t matter.  If I could string all those people together and take them to the poles, their votes would indeed matter.  I cannot effect National change with my ramblings on this blog, right?  After all, I’m just one little person in some obscure coastal town in North Carolina who spends her days surrounded by all things kitchen and food.  I mean, what could I possibly know about the complex inner-workings of our Government?  Why would I waste my time ranting about it here?

The answer is simple:  “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men should do nothing.”- Edmund Burke 

I sleep better at night when I have done what I can to contribute to the resolution of problems rather than the exacerbation of them, even if no one pays any attention to me at all.  When I have done the right thing, I rest easy.  The outcome of current Government fiascos is not up to me, but my own actions do indeed matter – they are an expression of my true character.  I am doing an insane amount of research and writing this blog post that has nothing to do with food because I am disturbed by what is going on in our Government and have no other outlet for my frustrations.  I can’t make them stop, at least not until election day rolls around again.  But I can make it known that I am not in agreement with the actions of our Government, and unlike Congress, I can point to documented reasons for my beliefs.  I don’t ever want anyone to think I was complicit in the ridiculous actions (or lack thereof) of our elected officials.  I am guilty of voting for the wrong people, perhaps.  When faced with a field of undesirables, what is one to do?  I will do better next time – if the choices are better.

By writing this post, I hope to spur some people to do their own research and stop believing the babble heard on television.  For all of our Government’s failings, they have done an excellent job of being transparent if you have the patience to dig through the volumes of paper they have generated to find the truth.  Here, I have done some of the digging for you.

Debt Ceiling:  The End of Life as We Know It?

So what the heck is our Federal Government obligated to pay, not obligated to pay, and just what is all this talk of the so-called “Debt Ceiling” about?  How much do we owe, and to whom, and what happens if we don’t pay it?

If I listen to the mainstream media outlets, they want me to believe that the debt ceiling not being increased will bring the Government to a complete standstill, and that the Republicans are to blame for not agreeing to the plan laid out by the Democrats.  Seems simple enough, right?  We all enjoy the relief that comes with having affixed blame somewhere.  But let’s dial this back a bit and understand what’s really going on, shall we?

The truth is that the National Debt Limit is a moving target set by Congress and changed on a regular basis.  For a very long time now, my entire lifetime plus most of my mother’s, Congress has been increasing the debt limit continuously.  Look at the history yourself – don’t take my word for it.  Increasing the debt limit directly implies two key things:  first, that we don’t have enough money to operate our Government as it presently exists; and second, that despite being broke, Congress intends to spend more money that they don’t have.  Indirectly, this implies that the money must come from somewhere to pay these bills.  (It helps in this moment to remember that our Government does not generate any revenue of its own; it merely collects taxes from those persons and entities that earn it through legitimate enterprise and labor.)

If we, as individuals, behave as Congress has and does with regard to debt, we would be in bankruptcy court within 6 months, forced to sell everything we own to pay our debts.  Then we would live with a decade or more of people being unwilling to lend us money of any amount.  Congress has been on this spending spree for decades, unimpeded by any negative consequences.  Imagine if you can that the National Debt is presently $16,747,411,584,091.53 – that’s nearly 17 trillion dollars.  Much of that debt – over $10 trillion dollars – is privately held (according to the US Office of Debt Management in March 2013).  Another $6 trillion of that debt is owned by foreign interests, about $1.5 trillion is backed by investment in Government Bonds & Securities (anyone with a mutual fund, pension plan, etc.), and a big chunk is owned by Banks and Insurance Companies (the same entities we bailed out a couple years ago), our States, and the Federal Government itself (yep, our Government can borrow from itself despite being broke).  Of interest to me is the amount of debt owned by holders of U.S. Savings Bonds – about $180 billion dollars.  Good for you if you have cashed yours in and put the money under your mattress.  You are going to need it.  But I digress.

So is crashing into the current debt ceiling going to cripple Government and change our way of life? Failure of Congress to reach an agreement on raising the debt limit will not completely cripple the Federal Government.  It will, however, take choices away from the lawmakers.  Their predecessors have made certain sections of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR)positive,” and some of those positive or “statutory” sections of the United States Code (USC) have mandatory funding attached to them.  Things like National Defense (32 USC), The President (3 USC), Federal Elections (11 USC), Judiciary (28 USC), Veterans Benefits (38 USC), Highways (23 USC) and Transportation (49 USC) must be funded, though some sections of those regulations are not statutory and can be altered.  Other titles or sections in the USC, such as Public Health/Housing & Urban Development (42 USC), Employee’s Benefits (20 USC, which includes Social Security), Internal Revenue (26 USC, which includes Social Security Disability), Banks & Banking, Food & Drugs (21 USC), and Education (34 USC) are not statutory parts of our law and will be among the first to have funding withdrawn.  (You may observe here the distinction between statutory and non-statutory, as this is also the line along which Congress fights; they can’t change the statutory things so they fight over the non-statutory items and base their political campaigns on these matters as well).

It could easily be concluded that all of the non-statutory laws and programs that have been passed by Congress over the decades have served to cripple our Government’s ability to fund the statutory programs.  Our Congresses have historically written checks for their pet projects (non-statutory feel-good programs like public housing, public education, and farm subsidies – ironically called “pork” by the media) that have caused the checks written to our core National programs (Defense, Transportation, Veterans benefits) to bounce.  More borrowing was done to keep the checks from bouncing and ‘round we go, every year.

Personally, I hope the Republicans keep stonewalling and refuse to raise the debt limit under the proposed terms.  It isn’t that I agree with their plans, either; rather, I just want our Government to become solvent.  Continuing to write checks we can’t cash is not the way to solvency.  I don’t claim to have all the answers, but I don’t have too much paycheck left to sacrifice for the common good before I too will need public assistance to feed myself and pay my bills.

Heavy reliance on Government to provide basic needs does not work.  It’s expensive, and it is not sustainable.  History shows us many examples of this worldwide, and it is still on display in places like Cuba where they are struggling with how to allow private enterprise without giving up Government control.  Their Government promised to provide everything for the people, all of whom worked for the Government.  Realizing the error of their ways (being broke with no plan), the Cuban Government is now faced with the reality that they cannot provide everything for their people.  Many European countries are at a similar crossroads where their social ideals have gotten too expensive to sustain.  We are right behind them on the same track, and it won’t work for us either.  Dependency breeds laziness and, eventually, contempt.  Human beings don’t value things if they don’t have to work for them, and they are not inclined to work for them if they will be provided for them.  Moreover, our founders broke with England to avoid the very situation in which we now find ourselves – being heavily taxed with no real voice among the decision makers.  Frankly, I don’t think the so-called decision makers are really making decisions based on their consciences anymore; I think they are doing what the people with the money are telling them to do.

So yes, if this stalemate continues, additional programs will be shut down and many of us will be directly impacted by it.  The Government literally has to choose which programs to shut down temporarily to pay for essential (statutory) programs and services.  Who will make the call about what is essential and what isn’t?  It is largely written into law already in the US Code, where some Titles are statutory and must be funded.  Veteran’s Disability Compensation (VDC) and the Military are among those that must be funded; civilian Defense worker’s salaries and Social Security Disability Income (SSDI) payments are not.  If there is any money left after the statutory obligations are paid, it will probably be up to the White House to decide who gets it.  I wouldn’t want to be in their shoes.

Credit Ratings and Congress:  Hostages of the Monster They Created

Our financial system in this country is very complex; but I find that most of the complexity exists to camouflage the realities of the system.  At its core, it is not really all that complex.  The dirty little secret is this:  when you use private monies to fund public projects, the public administrators of the funded programs are unavoidably beholden to the lenders.  There is no way to avoid personal agendas when you borrow money.  Even your auto loan is subject to the whims of the organization from which you borrowed; there is undoubtedly language in your contract that allows them to call the loan at any moment, leaving you forced to pay the balance or return the vehicle.  Just look for it, I guarantee it is there, perhaps in some obscure paragraphs that do not seem applicable to you – bank legal jargon.  Most legitimate lenders have a corporate policy of not calling loans unnecessarily, but they have the option if circumstances should make it prudent for them.  If they decided to do so, they would not be the least bit concerned about you.  So it is with loans to our Government from private investors and foreign interests; Government is beholden to those interests and their agendas.  Do what we want or we will call the loan – that is the message that our lawmakers are hearing from investors.

So if you are thinking that this little situation we are in over the Debt Ceiling is just our elected officials behaving badly and fighting amongst themselves, think again.  The ‘lenders’ are undoubtedly on the phone with our Senator’s aides telling them what needs to happen to avoid them calling the loans, and reminding them of the unofficial terms under which the loans were originally given.

The very banks and insurance companies that were bailed out by the Government in 2008 under TARP are among the Government’s creditors now.  These banks have heavily invested in bonds and treasury notes in exchange for the bail outs.  Just as it has become difficult for private citizens to obtain loans under the stringent standards these lenders now apply, so too is it difficult for the Government to obtain loans.  Banks know better than any of us how great a risk our Federal Government is as a borrower.  Our lawmakers created this banking monster, and now they are worried that the banks will not fund them if they lose their AAA credit rating.  Read this speech by Secretary of the Treasury Lew last month and you will see what I am talking about.  He says they have already used up the reserve “cash box” funds and don’t have any “extraordinary measures” left to employ as of October 16th.  Guess what day it is today?

The debt ceiling has officially been reached.  The cash box is empty.

Filling the Empty Cash Box

There are essentially five ways that our country’s empty cash box can be refilled.

  • Domestic Loans – from Private Individuals, Private Corporations, and through additional Bond initiatives (Smart, rich people who want control of our Government)
  • Foreign Loans – China is chief among the possible lenders, and is already a key supporter of our Federal Government (Smart, rich, Foreign individuals and Governments who want control of our Government)
  • Corporate Taxes – Raising taxes for corporations, giving the largest corporations ‘exemptions’ to facilitate them providing loans so that the status quo can be maintained, leaving small companies to carry the burden and eventually close their doors
  • Income Taxes – Raising income taxes for individuals (you and me), and levying new fines (such as the fines for not obtaining health insurance, which is just a tax with another name)
  • Program Cuts – Reducing or eliminating non-essential Government programs to free up money to be used on essential (statutory) programs

In order to take any of these measures but the last, the debt limit must be raised.  This is the real argument in Washington; some of our legislators actually want to consider entering default and beginning to move toward solvency; most do not.

Raising the Debt Limit:  Inevitable?

Raising the debt limit allows Government to continue to operate as it is rather than cut programs.  It’s pretty clear Congress doesn’t want to cut programs; trying to fund new programs associated within the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA, aka Obama Care et al) is how we got to this point.  Existing programs were not fully funded when these additional measures were enacted; there never was a plan to pay for them other than to raid the cash box and hope for the best.

The non-essential programs that Government refuses to cut are the programs enacted to kiss the asses of the people who loaned them money before, and to chip away at our paychecks and personal liberties, thus exercising ever-increasing control over us.  Congress can’t cut those programs – those old loans might be called in by the previous investors, and where will that leave them?  In Barney.  Barney Rubble. Trouble!!!

There is no easy way out of this mess, certainly not if you are an elected official.  There is no way for Congress to avoid getting mud in their eye.  They are literally living with the consequences of their actions and the actions of those who went before them.  Problems of money, property, and prestige have come to bite them in the ass because they took loans from outsiders who expect favors in return.  That, my friends, is the bottom line.

Its spelled c-o-r-r-u-p-t-i-o-n.

The only real question facing our lawmakers right now is:  Whose ass will they kiss this time?

What would I do? I would do exactly what is supposed to be done:  fund the positive titles in the US Code (that’s why they are statutory – they are a priority) and start slashing all the non-essential people, places, and things.  I would start living within my means right now today (pay as you go, don’t buy what you can’t pay for immediately), and start working on a plan to keep it that way.  The alternative is a steady march toward bankruptcy, which will only serve to make us even more vulnerable to corruption and foreign interests down the road.

Suck it up Congress – do the right thing.  Your constituents might even have a little respect for you if you did.

This Veteran’s Plea: Not One More Damn Day

9 04 2013

This is my second marathon blog post in as many weeks, the last being about a day in the life of area chefs in a competition.  From a larger view, that was fluff piece; this is a very important topic.  I hope you will read this all the way through.  It’s very important to me and my fellow veterans that more people listen to the whole truth, the ugly truth, about how things are for us.  My apologies for the length of this article, but I have been abbreviating this story long enough.

Brothers and Sisters at ArmsUnited States Flag

I just finished reading a very good book by Luis Carlos Montalván entitled, “Until Tuesday: A Wounded Warrior and the Golden Retriever Who Saved Him.”  Tuesday is the golden retriever’s name.  Luis suffers from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) along with the after-effects of various physical wounds including Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI); Tuesday is his service dog.  It is a compelling story about Luis’ personal experiences before, during, and after his deployments to Iraq, but mostly after.  It is a story that needs to be told over and over again until the cold, hard truths in the middle of this story are heard and understood by the majority of people in our country.

I have heard it said that the truth is whatever you perceive it to be.  In other words, our perception of things is the truth to us in that moment, whether it is really true or not.  I sometimes find myself taking for truth things I hear on the television or read on the internet; if it all seems to fit with what I already know, I often don’t question it.  But when things don’t seem to fit, I have a habit of digging around for more information.  After reading this book, I think Luis and I have that in common, that burning need for the truth.

As a 22-year veteran of the Army, I can tell you unequivocally that there were times when I found myself surrounded by so many lies I didn’t think I could find the truth.  At moments like those, I used to say, “It’s a good thing I’m wearing boots.”  There were lies told to protect classified operations; there were lies told to avoid stepping on important toes; there were lies told to save asses (can I say ‘asses’ on here?  Too late.); there were lies told to preserve the integrity of the lies told before; then there were lies told just because it became a way of life for some people.  When things got a little soft underfoot, you learned to stop asking questions – unless you were me.  I never stopped asking questions, and that path was definitely the road less traveled and a bumpy one.  In 2001, I had finally had enough and declared I would not do it for one more damn day, after being faced with yet another instance of gender discrimination with nothing to be done about it without becoming a target for more lies and harrassment.  On August 1, 2001, I left the active service with 16 years of Active Duty and 4 years of reserve service prior to that.  I was officially in the Reserve for two more years, though I did not actively serve.  Twenty-two years and not one more damned day.

Luis speaks in the book of several examples of where the lies – or sometimes benign neglect – of the leadership caused extreme difficulties for the soldiers at the end of the line, including him and his Soldiers.  I have no doubt that it was exactly as he says it was; that there are others who questioned him and essentially called him a liar when he wrote about these things after leaving the Army does not surprise me one bit.  I experienced similar circumstances during my service.  That Luis was attacked by certain members of the media and was victim of a character assassination is, sadly, de rigueur for anyone who dares to speak the truth of the leadership failures in the military and our government at any level.  It’s the old smoke-and-mirrors defense; we don’t have to answer those allegations, we can just discredit the accuser and people will stop listening to them.  Better yet, they might just shut up and go away to stop the personal attacks.  I was heartened to read a story that spoke the truth, a story to which I could relate.  I am not alone in my experience; Luis has been there, too.

We Take Care of Our Own. 

It seems that Luis and I also share a deep disappointment in the United States Army, or perhaps in the topmost leaders of that organization and the politicians to which they report.  Like Luis, I don’t want to throw the baby out with the dirty bathwater; I love the Army and believe in its mission to defend our constitution.  But like Luis, I was abandoned by the very organization to which I had devoted my life.  I continue to be abandoned by our government by inadequate and often inaccessible medical care through the Veteran’s Administration (VA).  I am working full time, but I can’t afford private insurance.  As a certified-by-the-VA 50% Service-Connected Disabled Veteran, Title 38 of the United States Code (Federal Law) says I am entitled to 100% free medical care from the VA for the rest of my life.  They even sent me a book to outline the care I am entitled to receive; too bad I can’t actually get it because of where I live, and because they don’t have the resources to provide it (I live 2 hours away from the nearest full-service VA Hospital because this is where I work).

I am not “on the dole.”  Unlike most people receiving Medicaid, I earned that medical care as a benefit for illnesses and injuries incurred in the line of duty in service to my country for 22 years.  But it takes me 5-6 months of waiting to see my primary care provider, and I have to drive 2 hours to Fayetteville, NC to get my eyes checked or have a mammogram.  If I get sick with anything urgent, I have no medical resources.  The VA is obligated to provide it to me in their facilities; the nearest facility that can see me on short notice is in Fayetteville.  If I am taken to the emergency room here in town, the bill is mine to deal with.  I don’t go to the doctor; if I am feeling bad or hurt myself, I deal with it and hope for the best.  At least I have my needed medication; that’s more than many veterans.

There are an increasing number of people just like me, many without even the meager resources of the VA to call upon.  For that, our government and its money-eating programs and policies is responsible.  They are spending all of our tax money creating new programs instead of funding the ones they already have.  Not to discount the needs of others in similar circumstances (the working poor that are not disabled veterans), but the government is legally obligated to take care of me under a long-standing law, not some new policy.  They are not doing it.  Why are they writing new laws for more services of this ilk for the general population when they can’t even sustain the programs they have for Veterans?  (The services are being cut even more under the so-called Sequestering process, which is akin to a bankruptcy reorganization that our government is undergoing.  Just this week President Obama pledged more money for VA services, but where it will come from no one knows.)

soldier-flagNo Man Left Behind.

About this we could talk for hours, or at least I could.  Instead, I just want you to know that there are hundreds of thousands of veterans in my situation, many who have PTSD and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) that they cannot substantiate to the VA because the paperwork wasn’t done properly while they were deployed.  In yet another twist of betrayal, the Army encourages Soldiers to “suck it up” when they are hurting rather than seek medical treatment; this absence of a medical paper trail later makes it hard to get the care to which they are entitled under law. Those that can substantiate their problems administratively are waiting as long as 2 years for the VA to review their claim.  Even soldiers who lose limbs can be left waiting for up to 2 years for their VA claim to be reviewed while they suffer, unable to work or feed their families, having to apply for welfare because the VA has yet to look at their claim.  Veterans who lose limbs in the line of duty are entitled to adequate compensation to live on under Title 38; but if they have to wait 2 years to begin to receive it, how will they survive in the interim?  They have been left behind.

If you’ve heard on the news that the VA has fixed their administrative problems and they are all caught up on the paperwork, you have been fed a lie.  I have a friend who retired from the Army about 21 months ago who is still waiting for the VA to review her claim; her last tour in Afghanistan was extremely traumatic and she knows she needs help, but she can’t get it.  She finally found a private counseling firm that is taking her on as a client and working with her on payments.  Another friend who retired the year before had her claim reviewed at the 2-year point.  My friends are lucky; they also have health insurance through TRICARE since they are retirees and can get their care through other sources.  Many thousands of us are not that fortunate, and many are far worse off than me.  I am already “in” the VA system, such as it is; getting in is seemingly insurmountable for some veterans; 2 years might as well be 20 years, so grave is the impact of that wait on their health and well-being.

Their battle will not end with a review, either.  They will likely have part of their claim denied and will have to file an appeal and wait again.  This is a standard outcome with VA Disability Claims; it took my original claim 14 months to be reviewed, and part of it was denied even though the paperwork was in order.  It took me getting a review by a different VA office to get my claim processed (which I was only able to do because I had moved and jurisdiction over my claim had changed as a result).  It is an uphill climb to get into the VA system.  That Luis was accused by a reporter of ‘faking’ his injuries after the VA had processed his claim is laughable; if the VA said his injuries are for real, they most certainly are and he likely suffered many indignities to secure that ruling.

Why Haven’t We Heard About This?

There are those, such as Luis, who have spoken out.  Like Luis, they all paid a high personal price for their honesty and suffered attacks on their characters or just weren’t believed.  If they happened to also have an addiction problem or have had scrapes with law enforcement (both very common among troubled, untreated veterans), they were ignored as not credible.  Also, Soldiers are trained to keep quiet, not to air the Army’s dirty laundry in public.  It’s part of the culture; we talk about it amongst ourselves, but never out in town.  Like victims of physical abuse, we just don’t talk about it to outsiders.

The major media outlets will not cover stories like wounded Soldiers being abandoned by the government.  They need access to government officials for their feature stories; they can’t risk alienating them by covering unsavory stories of government inadequacy or failure.  Instead, the media outlets run stories showing happy endings, help received, high-tech prosthesis donated, and modified homes built by Habitat for Humanity for our wounded warriors.  This is all great stuff, but if the government just compensated these wounded warriors in a timely manner like they should, they wouldn’t need to have a house donated.  You won’t see a story like Luis’ on any of the big National TV news programs.  There is simply too much to lose for them to take on a story of this nature and magnitude.

Just use Google and search for “Veterans waiting for Benefits.”  The stories are out there with reputable news sources, they just don’t make the National news because it is politically unsavory.  All roads lead back to Congress and the White House, and the media does not like to shake that tree too hard.

Make Some Noise.

Just because you don’t hear it on TV doesn’t mean it’s not true.  Likewise, just because you read it in print doesn’t make it so.  Talk to a veteran and ask her what her experience has been, and research it for yourself.  The truth can be found in the words of those living in this situation.

If you are as outraged about this abandonment and neglect of our Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Marines as I hope you are, talk about it.  Tell everyone you know.  Help us raise awareness.  Maybe you can even write a letter or email to your Congressmen asking them to do something about it.  Nothing gets done in this country without public outcry.  Many of these Troops cannot or will not speak for themselves, lest they be perceived as ‘weak’.  They defended your freedom and your life; maybe you could make some noise for them in their time of need.

To our Government, I send this plea:  Please don’t leave me and my fellow veterans without our earned health care, not for one more damn day.

Political Insanity: My Investment is Suspended

6 11 2012

Dear Governments of the United States, North Carolina, New Hanover County, and the City of Wilmington,

I am writing to inform you that after careful review of your financial records to date, I have determined that your organizations are not fiscally sustainable in their current configuration.  Not only did I not experience gains on my investment as you promised I would, but my principle investment is now gone due to your mismanagement of the funds to which I have contributed.  As such, I find it necessary to suspend my investment in your organizations effective immediately and continuing until such time as a viable fiscal plan is presented.

As a former business owner, former home owner, former owner of investment property, and a veteran of the U.S. Military Forces, I find your conduct reprehensible.  My own mismanagement of my personal finances led to my having to liquidate my assets and take substantial losses to ensure I could maintain the basic necessities of food, clothing, and shelter.  While these actions were not what I wanted and it was not a pleasant process, it was necessary.  I am now solvent and living within my means and it only took about a year to get here from the crushing debt I once faced.  It was a radical approach to a desperate situation, but it worked.  It was the only responsible solution to my situation.  Burying my head in the sand and hoping for the best was not an option for me, and it is not an option for you, either.

I recommend that you impartially assess your situation and take some radical actions to pay your astronomical debt in full and stop additional debt from accruing.  It is, after all, not your money to spend.  Perhaps some new people on your teams who understand how desperately some radical changes are needed will be just the thing to turn your situation around.  I am on my way to my appointed voting location right now to see what I can do about getting you some help with fresh ideas.

I am certain of one thing:  necessity is the mother of all invention.  Given the opportunity to keep the vast majority of my paycheck in my wallet, I can and will make decisions for myself that will meet my needs.  I will find a doctor who will accept cash or barter to help me get well when I am ill; I don’t need your national healthcare program.  I will find ways to earn enough money to sustain myself, even if I lose my current job; I will simply look at all the opportunities and find a new niche for myself.  I will treat my neighbors with respect and take personal responsibility, as I have done all my life, and will rarely if ever need the assistance of the police or attorneys or the courts; that will free them up to deal with more serious issues.  I will help my daughter educate my grandson by networking with others, pooling our respective knowledge to ensure the best possible primary education for him without need for your broken public school system.  I will make dinner for the family of the mechanic who changes the oil in my car when I am low on cash.  In short, I will figure it out.

Your job is to provide for the defense of our nation and safety of our town, the enforcement of existing laws, and to ensure we have the means to get where we are going (roads, railways, shipping channels, etc) as we conduct the business that sustains our nation’s workforce.  I am happy to help pay for all those things.  It is not your job to run the businesses that fuel our economy or to tell the business owners how to do it; it is your job to pave the way for people to do it themselves.

Let me keep the money in my pocket and leave me to my own devices.  I’m betting I can do a far better job of taking care of myself and those in need in my community than you have.

Your Loyal Citizen,

Susan Boyles

Ramblings of a Sick Woman

22 09 2012

Hello Blogosphere!  My goodness, I have been wanting to write to you about so many things over these last weeks and just haven’t had the time.  The powers of the universe have now granted me the time to catch up with you, but I had to get a nasty little head cold to get the time off.  In fact, yesterday was spent working at home with a stack of paperwork from the store and the use of a remote access program to tap into the store computer from home.  I got a lot done despite the pile of Kleenex.  Today, my friends, is reserved for you.  OK, really, it’s reserved for me, but I choose to spend it with you.  I mean, I’m not going anywhere further than the kitchen for more chicken soup.  But you know what I mean.

There are so many things rattling around in my tiny mind that I want to share with you, I thought I’d try to address a few at once with little snippets in one blog post.  If my attempt to limit myself is unsuccessful, I apologize in advance.  How many words is in a snippet, anyway?

Not Your Average Hip-Hop Fan

I was driving down the street last week, slowing as I approached a red light.  I hear a ‘rolling sound system’ coming up from the rear.  As the offending vehicle pulls alongside me, I do a double take.  Serious rap music, subcompact white late-model car, white female driver – 30-something, severe librarian hairdo, somewhat overweight, doctor’s office-type uniform – groovin’ to the beat.  There was just something so incongruous about my visual and auditory perceptions in that moment – the music just didn’t go with the picture.  It got me thinking about how many of our commonly held beliefs and stereotypes can be so far off base.   Why do we insist on limiting ourselves and others with these notions of what we should be? You go, hip hop woman. (This could be an entire blog post, but I’ll let you ponder it without my expert elaboration – for now.)

Entrepreneurial Spirit?

I was driving along, minding my own business, when a vehicle caught my eye.  The license plate said “Lost Temp License.”  The light I was sitting at was a long one, so I had time to think about this.  When the light changed, I got my phone out and got the camera ready then snapped this photo as I was approaching the next light.  In the car was a rather handsome young couple.  When they realized that I was intrigued with them, they proceeded to speed away and turn off onto a side street. I don’t know what they were up to – undoubtedly it was no good.  But I wasn’t thinking about that.   I was wondering about that plate.  Apparently there is a business out there making plastic license plates for the crooks among us.  Is this a legitimate business born of the illegal activities of others, perhaps?  Do people really fall for this stuff?  Doesn’t the fake plate draw more attention than no plate at all?  Was it some sort of social experiment of which I was an unwitting subject?  Yes.  Exactly.  All of that.  Just think about it for a while.  Or not.

Doggone Mission

What is my dog thinking when he goes and goes and goes and goes like this?  He’s not visibly chasing anything – trust me, when he sees a cat or a squirrel I know.  Most of the time when we take our walks he just ambles along, or he catches a whiff of something and goes a short distance at high speed stopping abruptly when the target of his olfactory prowess is at hand, er, paw.  But I really don’t understand these occasional forced marches he takes me on.  It’s clear that he is going somewhere, in search of something – he’s on a mission.  He doesn’t stop to pee, doesn’t pause to smell things, he just goes and goes.  One of these days when I have recovered from this head cold I might just let him take me wherever it is he seems to want to go.  I worry that there isn’t really a destination in his pea-shaped brain and at some point he will wear himself out and I will have to carry him a mile home (this has happened).  Where is he going?  What is it?

I Love a Good Double Entendre…

I love humor that doesn’t smack you in the face.  Don’t draw me a diagram, let me get to the funny on my own.  I love to laugh – it’s good for the soul.  Not too often does something strike me as truly funny, but when something does it is almost always full of unspoken subtext.  I just love a double entendre for this very reason.  I meant what I said AND I meant what I didn’t say.  It’s hilarious.  Like this one.

…And Animal Jokes

Maybe it’s because I almost always know a person that’s just a teensy bit too much like the animal and it just cracks me up to see it presented in a way where it is actually talked about and no one can sue.  For real, people.  You can’t say stuff to people’s faces these days without getting sued for defamation, even if it’s true.  But you can write a joke and put it on the internet without names and everyone will still know who you are talking about without the lawsuit.  I also like the ones that poke fun at all of us, because sometimes you just need to call a cow a cow.  Like this one (you know who you are, so just quit being so uptight and laugh at yourself):

Cows & Politics Explained

A CHRISTIAN DEMOCRAT:  You have two cows.  You keep one and give one to your neighbor.

A SOCIALIST:  You have two cows.  The government takes one and gives it to your neighbor.

AN AMERICAN REPUBLICAN:  You have two cows. Your neighbor has none. So what?

AN AMERICAN DEMOCRAT:  You have two cows.  Your neighbor has none.  You feel guilty for being successful.  You vote people into office who tax your cows, forcing you to sell one to raise money to pay the tax.  The people you voted for then take the tax money and buy a cow and give it to your neighbor. You feel righteous.

A COMMUNIST:  You have two cows.  The government seizes both and provides you with milk.

A FASCIST:  You have two cows.  The government seizes both and sells you the milk. You join the underground and start a campaign of sabotage.

DEMOCRACY, AMERICAN STYLE:  You have two cows.  The government taxes you to the point you have to sell both to support a man in a foreign country who has only one cow, which was a gift from your government.

CAPITALISM, AMERICAN STYLE:  You have two cows.  You sell one, buy a bull, and build a herd of cows.

BUREAUCRACY, AMERICAN STYLE:  You have two cows.  The government takes them both, shoots one, milks the other, pays you for the milk, then pours the milk down the drain.

AN AMERICAN CORPORATION:  You have two cows.  You sell one, and force the other to produce the milk of four cows.  You are surprised when the cow drops dead.

A FRENCH CORPORATION:  You have two cows.  You go on strike because you want three cows.

A JAPANESE CORPORATION:  You have two cows.  You redesign them so they are one-tenth the size of an ordinary cow and produce twenty times the milk. You then create clever cow cartoon images called Cowkimon and market them World-Wide.

A GERMAN CORPORATION:  You have two cows.  You reengineer them so they live for 100 years, eat once a month, and milk themselves.

A BRITISH CORPORATION:  You have two cows.  They are mad.  They die. Pass the shepherd’s pie, please.

AN ITALIAN CORPORATION:  You have two cows, but you don’t know where they are. You break for lunch.

A RUSSIAN CORPORATION:  You have two cows.  You count them and learn you have five cows. You count them again and learn you have 42 cows. You count them again and learn you have 12 cows.  You stop counting cows and open another bottle of vodka.

A SWISS CORPORATION:  You have 5000 cows, none of which belong to you. You charge others for storing them.

A BRAZILIAN CORPORATION:  You have two cows.  You enter into a partnership with an American corporation.  Soon you have 1000 cows and the American corporation declares bankruptcy.

AN INDIAN CORPORATION:  You have two cows.  You worship both of them.

A CHINESE CORPORATION:  You have two cows.  You have 300 people milking them. You claim full employment, high bovine productivity, and arrest the newsman who reported on them.

AN ISRAELI CORPORATION:  There are these two Jewish cows, right?  They open a milk factory, an ice cream store, and then sell the movie rights. They send their calves to Harvard to become doctors. So, who needs people?

AN ARKANSAS CORPORATION:  You have two cows.  That one on the left is kinda cute.

Maybe I’ll post a recipe later after I’m done watching Miss Congeniality.  Hey, I’m easily amused and entertained.

Go forth and ponder people – and don’t forget to laugh.


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