..on a page...
.....on a monitor..
What is it about words??
I was fortunate to be raised in a family of readers.....back before TV made of ours a world of visual images....dominated by the boob tube, the silver screen, Pong and video games, Entertainment Tonight...I watched my dad read the Atlanta Constitution, Hoard's Dairyman, Sports Afield and Progressive Farmer. My mom read Readers Digest, Redbook and anything else she could get her hands on. I once found some of her old books from before she married.....Raymond Chandler's Perry Mason, H.P. Lovecraft's horror tales, syrupy romance novels, classics and mind candy, short stories, Hemingway and Encyclopedia Brittanica.
As soon as we could read Run, Spot, Run or Dick and Jane we were off to the public library in Lawrenceville, a one room building set on the Northeast corner of the Courthouse Square, and allowed to check out as many books as we thought we might read during the next week. Some weeks I'd have six to ten and run out before the next trip to town. Black Beauty, The Black Stallion, outdoor adventure books, books on war, Ian Fleming's 007, cartoons in the Sunday edition of The Atlanta Journal...
..Lil' Abner, Snuffy Smith...
....words......I still luv 'em....books don't have commercial breaks every 5 minutes, and no talking head is trying to convince me the world is going to end if we don't pass this or that stimulus package of pork.
Lest I start ranting, I'll just click down a few that caught my eye this evening...
...and while they are almost 2000 years old, still cause the gray matter twix' my ears to clatter and clank together, sending up sparks and puffs of smoke from burning electrical connections.
Who said this??
"What's the matter, mortal
that you coddle yourself with all this sorrow?
Why moan and wail at death?
If your life's benn happy and blessed,
and all those blessings haven't been poured into a leaky pot
to spill away, with nothing left to give thanks for,
why not, as a man who's feasted full of life,
retire contented - fool - and rest in peace?
There's more, that I'll strain my eyes to see, ere I switch off the light and drop the mask down over my face, and
Saturday, January 31, 2009
Thursday, January 29, 2009
They say that an expert is anyone over 50 miles from home ( for no prophet is recognized in his own land), with a briefcase and the audacity to proclaim that "he knows what to do".
The economist that everyone should be paying attention to is
Inflation is coming back in style. And Gideon Gono is its star. While
other central bankers flounder, he’s proven that you can have
inflation...and have it more abundantly than you want.
Gono, if you haven’t heard of him, is Robert Mugabe’s right hand man. And
Robert Mugabe is the number one man in Zimbabwe, an African country with a
real ‘riches to rags’ story. It was one of the wealthiest and safest
countries in Africa when it was run by Ian Smith in the ’70s. But the
meddlers and world-improvers couldn’t leave well enough alone. They helped
put Mugabe in power. Since then, the place has gone to Hell.
Gideon Gono, 47 years old, lives in a 47-bedroom mansion in Harare. He
says he doesn’t drink, only sleeps 4 hours a night, and runs regularly. He
is known as “Mr. Inflation” for his Olympian efforts to increase the
country’s money supply. He does this the old fashioned way – by printing
pieces of paper will lots of zeros on them. Newsweek Magazine seems to
have found him in a talkative mood:
Asked what he thought of the worldwide credit crash, he replied:
“I sit back and see the world today crying over the recent credit crunch,
becoming hysterical about something which has not even lasted for a year,
and I have been living with it for 10 years. My country has had to go for
the past decade without credit... Out of the necessity to exist, to ensure
my people survive, I had to find myself printing money. I found myself
doing extraordinary things that aren’t in the textbooks. Then the IMF
asked the US to please print money. I began to see the whole world now in
a mode of practicing what they have been saying I should not.”
I haven't met Mr. Gono, wouldn't know him if I ran into him......but I've been hearing from a lot of his litter mates for a while now on all the boobtube information (or dis) broadcasts.
Posted by kdzu at 5:51 PM
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
here at the KGHQ (kudzu grotto headquarters).
Of course yesterday the gray clouds never let the sun shine through either. Mid-winter blahs seem to be settling in and my inner-most child cries, "I wanna go to the beach".
No sand and surf for the wicked though.....although I'll be heading north to Toccoa "the beautiful" in a little while in an effort to stay away from CNN, which the ol' Grump says, "Shows everything over and over for at least 3 days".
Even with the black wand of power in his hand, he'll be mesmerized by the 62" wide eye into the world and sit there till his eyes glaze over and his head falls sideways, as his jaw drops to his chest and soft rumbling come from his inner-most regions.
The following caught my eye as I trekked mightily through the badlands of the interweb emails and other stuff..........
Scary stuff right there.....that's what that is.
But what does it mean for the humble and lowly??? Hmmmmm???
As I've stated before........stock up on food, guns, precious metals (both the brass, and glittery stuff.....keep your head down and your powder dry.
Oh yeah......if you have a chance......pick up a few extra Big Texas Cinnamon Rolls (they'll last 2 or three weeks if'n you don't mind them getting a little bit hard, and maybe a few extra rolls of Charmin. Maybe even some hip waders and rain gear since the amount of BS coming out of TAOTP (the asylum on the Potomac) is gonna continue to get a doctorate....Phd......(piled higher and deeper).
Posted by kdzu at 8:27 AM
Friday, January 23, 2009
and dusky dark envelopes me......
as I sit on the squirrels nut cracking stump.
Above the sky has turned to steel gray, with five condensation trails drifting slowly northward, as a sealed, pressurized, aluminum cylinder crossed them to the southwest, heading to Atlanta, or maybe Birmingham at 6 miles high, doing roughly 7/10's the speed of sound. Too high to hear, it's only companion in the night, Venus, shining steadily in the western sky, maybe 25 degrees above the horizon.
The squirrels will likely have larger and plumper kits come spring. The acorn crop was tremendous in the back right quarter of the lot this year. While the treerats have been busily running up and down the trees socking provisions away for the winter, winter it's self has crept up on them and seemingly passed them by, as today it got into the lower 60's. Surely there'll come a colder spell in the next few weeks which will make them curl up with their tails across their nose as they snuggle down into their beds of leaves.
I'm later outside than usual. I'm trying to get my work to a point where it can settle overnight and I can start again as soon as the sun tries to push it's self above the eastern horizon.
I don't mind the onward creep of dark tonight. It's quite except for an occasional car hurrying it's occupants home after a day of work or school. Nothing to intrude into my head except to check on progress every once in a while. After 15 years it's almost automatic.
Soon I'll put the lid on......weigh it down with a rock and step gingerly back to the house. My feet hurt and I look forward to kicking back in the recliner and watching the grand daughter and Nanny making things with the Play-doh.
Posted by kdzu at 6:57 PM
I wanted the gold, and I sought it,
I scrabbled and mucked like a slave.
Was it famine or scurvy -- I fought it;
I hurled my youth into a grave.
I wanted the gold, and I got it --
Came out with a fortune last fall, --
Yet somehow life's not what I thought it,
And somehow the gold isn't all.
Robert W. Service, The Spell of the Yukon
"There's gold, and it's haunting and haunting; it's luring me on as of old. But it's not the gold that I'm wanting, so much as just finding the gold."-Robert Service, 18-th century miner/poet.
You have to be careful the 'Gold Fever' don't grab you by the 'nads and never let go.
Posted by kdzu at 10:36 AM
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
Comes this little bit of gristle to gnaw on...
O! Bama! Where is thy bounce? Perhaps it is already over. From their low
in November, to their high a couple weeks ago, stocks worldwide recovered
about a quarter of what they had lost. Now, they seem to be going down
We don’t know what the stock market sees, but we see a lot more trouble
Houses in Southern California are down 35% from their peak.
Japan says its economy is “worsening rapidly.”
“Air France warns loss is likely” is one headline in Europe this morning;
“German retailer to cut as many as 15,000 jobs,” is another.
But the big news is in the banking sector.
U.S. banks are “effectively insolvent,” says Nouriel Roubini. He figures
losses in the United States might rise to $3.6 trillion – most of it in
banks and broker-dealers. Which leaves the sector a little short. The
banking system in the United States only has $1.4 trillion in capital.
Last week, Bank of America posted a quarterly loss of $1.79 billion...the
first loss it’s taken in 18 years. Citigroup out-did it, with a loss of
$8.29 billion for the last quarter of ’08.
As in Japan in the ’90s, the economic boat cannot right itself until this
bilge is dumped overboard. But the feds are against it – fighting the
correction with every tool they’ve got.
Obama says his team with be “bold and swift” in its efforts to deal with
the problem. But the action they take will be timid and slow. That is,
they will try to hold on...to protect what we have...to prevent change at
all costs. “Yes we can!” they will say. But they can’t make the mistakes
of an entire generation disappear – especially if they try to prevent a
The truly bold and swift solution, on the other hand, would probably get
him impeached. It would be to simply announce that the Obama government
was letting nature take her course. No more bailouts. No more stimulus
packages. No more federal guarantees or ‘refund checks.’
“Keynes is dead,” Obama should say; “the bankers will get what they
In a matter of days, the whole banking sector would go bust...along with
GM (more about that, below)...and thousands of businesses all over the
country. Millions of people would lose their jobs. Stocks would crash down
to 3,000 on the Dow...maybe lower. There would be keening by widows, whose
husbands had jumped in front of trains or slit their wrists...there would
be gnashing of teeth by millions, whose hopes of getting something for
nothing were suddenly dashed...there would be mobs in the street and
revolution in the air.
A few days later, banks that were still solvent would pick up the pieces
of those that had gone bust. And gradually, the economy would pick
up...building on a much more solid base.
But don’t trouble yourself about it, dear reader. That won’t happen.
Instead, Mr. Obama will take the more cautious route... More below.
*** What can the Obama team really do? He plans a rescue for banks – above
and beyond the $825 billion fiscal stimulus. He will “reform” health care
– our guess is that he will want to make a system of European-style
national health care his legacy contribution. He will offer more
guarantees, more bailouts, more stimulus. He will probably turn the banks
into quasi-public utilities...heavily regulated, with little appetite for
risk and little taste for capitalism.
“Creeping nationalization,” is how Bloomberg describes the process. In
Britain, the Royal Bank of Scotland will serve as a ‘guinea pig.’ It’s
lost 3/4 of its share value in the last two days. The government will keep
it alive...but it will become a ‘zombie’ – more dead than alive...more
ward of the state than independent financial institution.
Of course, these fixes will do more harm than good. They will retard,
delay, and detour the inevitable correction. Which will cause the Obama
Administration to turn to other, more desperate measures. Here’s the real
Yesterday’s front page headline from the Financial Times:
“Treasury gives go-ahead to ‘print money.’”
We felt like saving the paper. Like the Times edition that announced the
German invasion of Poland in 1940, it is probably the start of something
big. Something catastrophic.
*** GM announced yesterday that it would probably run out of money in
March. As to a bailout, we turn to a letter that appeared last week in the
Manufacturing and Technology Journal. It is from a man who seems to have
grease under his nails and a brain under his hat. Greg Knox, president of
Knox Machinery in Franklin, Ohio, explains why he is not in favor of a
bail out for Detroit.
“Politicians and Management of the Big 3 are both infected with the same
entitlement mentality that has spread like cancerous germs in UAW halls
for the last countless decades, and whose plague is now sweeping this
nation, awaiting our new ‘messiah’, Pres-elect Obama, to wave his magic
wand and make all our problems go away, while at the same time allowing
our once great nation to keep ‘living the dream’... Believe me folks, The
dream is over!
“This dream where we can ignore the consumer for years while management
myopically focuses on its personal rewards packages at the same time that
our factories have been filled with the worlds most overpaid, arrogant,
ignorant and laziest entitlement minded ‘laborers’ without paying the
price for these atrocities...this dream where you still think the masses
will line up to buy our products for ever and ever.
“Don’t even think about telling me I’m wrong. Don’t accuse me of not
knowing of what I speak. I have called on Ford, GM, Chrysler, TRW, Delphi,
Kelsey Hayes, American Axle and countless other automotive OEM’s
throughout the Midwest during the past 30 years and what I’ve seen over
those years in these union shops can only be described as disgusting. Troy
Clarke, President of General Motors North America, states: ‘There is
widespread sentiment throughout this country, and our government, and
especially via the news media, that the current crisis is completely the
result of bad management which it certainly is not.’
“You’re right Mr. Clarke, it’s not JUST management...how about the
electricians who walk around the plants like lords in feudal times, making
people wait on them for countless hours while they drag ass...so they can
come in on the weekend and make double and triple time...for a job they
easily could have done within their normal 40 hour work week. How about
the line workers who threaten newbies with all kinds of scare
tactics...for putting out too many parts on a shift...and for being too
productive (We certainly must not expose those lazy bums who have been
getting overpaid for decades for their horrific underproduction, must
“Do you folks really not know about this stuff?!? How about this great
sentiment abridged from Mr. Clarke’s sad plea: ‘over the last few years
...we have closed the quality and efficiency gaps with our competitors.’
What the hell has Detroit been doing for the last 40 years?!? Did we
really JUST wake up to the gaps in quality and efficiency between us and
them? The K car vs. the Accord? The Pinto vs. the Civic?!? Do I need to go
on? What a joke!
“We are living through the inevitable outcome of the actions of the United
States auto industry for decades. It’s time to pay for your sins,
“I attended an economic summit last week where brilliant economist, Alan
Beaulieu, from the Institute of Trend Research, surprised the crowd when
he said he would not have given the banks a penny of ‘bailout money’.
‘Yes,’ he said, ‘this would cause short term problems,’ but despite what
people like politicians and corporate magnates would have us believe, the
sun would in fact rise the next day... and the following very important
thing would happen...where there had been greedy and sloppy banks, new
efficient ones would pop up...that is how a free market system works...it
does work...if we would only let it work..."
“But for some nondescript reason we are now deciding that the rest of the
world is right and that capitalism doesn’t work – that we need the
government to step in and ‘save us"’...Save us my ass. Hell – we’re
nationalizing...and unfortunately too many of our once fine nation’s
citizens don’t even have a clue that this is what is really
happening...But, they sure can tell you the stats on their favorite sports
teams...yeah – THAT’S really important, isn’t it...
“Does it ever occur to ANYONE that the "competition" has been producing
vehicles, EXTREMELY PROFITABLY, for decades in this country?... How can
that be??? Let’s see... Fuel efficient... Listening to customers...
Investing in the proper tooling and automation for the long haul...
“Not being too complacent or arrogant to listen to Dr. W. Edwards Deming
four decades ago when he taught that by adopting appropriate principles of
management, organizations could increase quality and simultaneously reduce
costs. Ever increased productivity through quality and intelligent
planning... Treating vendors like strategic partners, rather than like
‘the enemy’... Efficient front and back offices... Non union
“Again, I could go on and on, but I really wouldn’t be telling anyone
anything they really don’t already know down deep in their hearts. I have
six children, so I am not unfamiliar with the concept of wanting someone
to bail you out of a mess that you have gotten yourself into – my children
do this on a weekly, if not daily basis, as I did when I was their age. I
do for them what my parents did for me (one of their greatest gifts, by
the way) – I make them stand on their own two feet and accept the
consequences of their actions and work through it. Radical concept, huh...
Am I there for them in the wings? Of course – but only until such time as
they need to be fully on their own as adults.
“I don’t want to oversimplify a complex situation, but there certainly are
unmistakable parallels here between the proper role of parenting and
government. Detroit and the United States need to pay for their sins. Bad
news people – it’s coming whether we like it or not. The newly elected
Messiah really doesn’t have a magic wand big enough to ‘make it all go
away.’ I laughed as I heard Obama ‘reeling it back in’ almost immediately
after the final vote count was tallied...‘we really might not do it in a
year...or in four...’ Where the Hell was that kind of talk when he was
RUNNING for office.
“Stop trying to put off the inevitable folks ... That house in Florida
really isn’t worth $750,000... People who jump across a border really
don’t deserve free health care benefits... That job driving that forklift
for the Big 3 really isn’t worth $85,000 a year... We really shouldn’t
allow Wal-Mart to stock their shelves with products acquired from a
country that unfairly manipulates their currency and has the most
atrocious human rights infractions on the face of the globe...
“That couple whose combined income is less than $50,000 really shouldn’t
be living in that $485,000 home... Let the market correct itself folks –
it will. Yes it will be painful, but it’s gonna’ be painful either way,
and the bright side of my proposal is that on the other side of it all, is
a nation that appreciates what it has...and doesn’t live beyond its
means...and gets back to basics...and redevelops the patriotic work ethic
that made it the greatest nation in the history of the world...and
probably turns back to God.
“Sorry – don’t cut my head off, I’m just the messenger sharing with you
the ‘bad news’. I hope you take it to heart.
“Gregory J. Knox, President, Knox Machinery, Inc. Franklin, Ohio”
Posted by kdzu at 8:34 PM
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
Now that I have your attention.......
I totally missed the inauguration today. We were in the truck with the radio on and could hear the crowd cheering and the announcer, announcing.......I looked over and asked, "do you want to hear this""? To which I received a firm "no". So over to the country station we flipped.
Then we drove and hour south to find some snow flurries and a Property for sale that we had been trying to get info on for almost a month now.
A Plantation house with 29 acres. Built around 1830, so we were told. We were in a freaking graveyard so far as cell phone reception was concerned, but using the new # posted on the for sale sign got the owner/agent to call us as we were knocking at the front door.
Long story short, she told us where to look for the key and we let ourselves in for a visit.
Needs one hell of a lot of work and money. I figured the land at about 3K per acre and after looking at all the work needed.......complete rewiring which will require that all interior walls have to come off and of course a complete new set of plumbing which was jury-rigged to begin with.......rebuilding of all of the chimney and fireplaces......AND the installation of any kind of heating and air conditioning, plus of course, insulation, of which there was never any except the application of newspaper on the walls under either paint or wallpaper.
I decided the house could either be rebuilt for around $300,000 or refurbished for approximately the same.........take your pick.
The Agent/owner wants half a mil and owes $300K.
I started to tell her we'd take it.......if they would pay me $350,000.00 and reduce the price to 200K.
That is Audacity of Hope right there......that's what that is. They are going to need a lot of luck.
Posted by kdzu at 9:36 PM
Monday, January 19, 2009
As I stopped in the living room to cadge a handful of popcorn (not enough salt to my taste) from the wife, I saw that she was watching the PBS show 'Vietnam'. As chance would have it they were showing the part about the battle for Khe Sanh in '68.
It was interesting for a couple of minutes to point out various locales that I'd visited (albeit a couple years later, when we went back and rebuilt it......then I remembered a few other things and decided to bug out.
Supposedly those who forget history are doomed to repeat it. I'm too old to repeat it, and don't particularly like thinking in depth about it.
I've never found an audience who appreciate the humor in the story of the wheel coming off a landing HC 130 Hercules.....bouncing through the refueling area where we were taking on JP-4 and landing in the swimming hole below the waterfall just to the south.
Maybe I don't tell it right.
Posted by kdzu at 9:22 PM
Sunday, January 18, 2009
......if this lemon pie and I'll probably have to go put the PJ's on since they have a stretchy waist band.
I readily admit that I didn't cook it myself. WTH I'm at the top of the freaking food chain.....there is someone on the next rung down to do the cooking....
Actually....that's not exactly true. I can cook..and frequently do....just not very well. I'm much better at just eating whatever hasn't turned green in the refrigerator.
We were looking tonight..the wife and I...she settled on something and I got the two boiled eggs sitting there in a little sandwich bag. "Oh goody", I gushed, "I can have egg salad without those damned relish pickles being in it, or celery".
Anyhoo........is there anything more satisfying that being to go to the pantry or Refrigerator and being able to pick from among a variety of items something that strikes your fancy as being edible without too much preparation. Starving waifs in UN protected countries in Africa can't do that. No.....they have to have sex with the piece keepers before that happens. Just goes to show you that there is no free lunch anymore. Well, for another day and a half or so, according to some bitch lawmaker from Maryland I saw on TV news this evening. They're looking for a Federal Government stimulus package to help them out.
Good luck with that.
Well, I better wash that last bite down with a gulp or two of cows milk.
Ya'll have a good night.
Posted by kdzu at 9:21 PM
It seems that I have spent most of my adult life trying to figure out where I fit in exactly.....and seem no closer to having an answer than at any other time in which I engage in a bit of navel gazing (the belly button kind, not watching ships at the port in Savannah).
Husband, father, son, brother, smart, stupid, Soldier, aviator, world traveler, dairyman, cow inseminator (artifically ya perverts), farmer, redneck, real estate mogul, former foreclosed upon real estate mogul, explosive expert....well really I just packed what I thought was enough dynamite in the holes and let it rip...with sometimes unfortunate consequences.......(Honest boss I thought the curb would look better on the other side of the street), house builder (most of which still stand) reluctant advocate for selling people who really needed a job more life insurance they didn't want and wouldn't pay for, killer of trees both evergreen and decidious, cutter of same into boards that were almost smooth, finder of lost, forgotten and unwanted treasures, seller of some and hoarder of others that serve no useful purpose The trail has led to some unexpected places of pleasure and others of pain.
This weekend found me working at some of the latest insanity.....taking pictures of and posting items for sale on eBay. The mix seems to follow the path already worn in that it is an eclectic mix of things. To wit......
There should be a time when a man decides what he wants to be when he grows up. I reckon I've still a little more growing up to do. On the other hand....in another 143 years when I'm ready to shed this skin....maybe heaven will need a handyman. Either that or I'll wind up just one more stoker of the fires in Hades. Maybe I can install some air conditioning.
Sorry, I guess you'll have to do a bit of copying and pasting on the links. Suck it up.....I'm not the PEBO......I'm not going to do everything for you.
Posted by kdzu at 6:04 PM
Wednesday, January 14, 2009
I am really trying to not get all het up 'bout the up-coming coronation of His Most High Glorious Re-incarnation of Honest Abe, Emancipator of million....Nay Billions, the Most Magnificent Arab-Kenyan-Kansasian-Hawaiian-Indonesian-Muslim-Neo-Christian, All things to All People, the Right Awesome-Reverend Wright Protege, husband to her Worship Mistress Michelle-the Once and Future Queen-Bee, The High Browed-Big Ear-ed PEBO His Own Self.
But the fact that the country has to declare a state of Emergency to help pay for the Swearing in of this High Yeller Crook from Chicago causes a RCOB (Red Coating of Blood) to fall over my eyes, and I want to scream and shout that, "The Emperor has no Clothes", till I'm blue in the face.
This is Lunacy on a scale never before imagined by anyone with an IQ of 50 or greater.
Before we are over it, the current World Wide Economic Crisis (WWEC) will make the depression of 1929 and subsequent seem like loosing $2.00 at Keno.......
........and they want to spend H.O.W M.U.C.H????
One Hundred and Ten Million Pounds
I don't know what that is in Monopoly Money but to spend that much at this time should cause any sane American to weep, gnash their teeth and pick ol' Betsy from over the mantle and march on The Asylum on the Potomac shooting politicians and bureaucrats from the local stripe on up, leaving them writhing on the ground in a tangle of their intestines and blood (I was going to say brain cells 'til I remembered that they have none.
If there was ever a time for REVOLUTION in this country it is now.
I would ask God to help us................but am convinced that they have seen into our hearts and have decided that we are not worthy of saving, and have turned their collective backs on us.
Posted by kdzu at 7:58 PM
Monday, January 12, 2009
I guess that PEBO made a rousing speech over the weekend talking about all the great things he'll be doing in just over a week to get us out of the current economic mess.
I didn't listen....
And Lame Duck George Bush made a speech today, talking about his accomplishments and failures.
I didn't listen again........
Not because I'm not interested.......I am......passionately. Rather it's because I've determined to live my life as disconnectedly as possible from the edicts and pronouncements to emanate from AOP (The Asylum on the Potomac). I've learned from much past experience that they are guaran-damn-teed to do just the opposite from what good ol' common sense would show as the correct course. For instance....
75 years of history proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that socialism will cause even a huge country with natural resources coming out of their ears (see former USSR) to fail.
70 years ago a government tried Fascism (see Hitler's Germany and Mussolini's Italy) and followed a madman into the bowels of hell on earth.
Since the 60's the government has paid unwed mothers to birth bastards or to murder them before birth at government expense, and we have both more bastards and murderers.
Since the 70's our schools have tried to pull up the incompetent or unwilling at the expense of the competent and willing, and we have more unwilling incompetents, and higher paid teachers and exponentially more supervisors.
We got all these things by listening to those who told us they knew what to do for us, so we abandoned Common Sense in favor of believing The Leaders of the Cult of No Personal Responsibility.
My Question is.......are we willing to once again take up the mantle of personal Resonsibility?
Posted by kdzu at 9:07 PM
And 52 years later...
The Wall Street Journal writes about it......
'Atlas Shrugged': From Fiction to Fact in 52 Years
By STEPHEN MOORE
Some years ago when I worked at the libertarian Cato Institute, we used to label any new hire who had not yet read "Atlas Shrugged" a "virgin." Being conversant in Ayn Rand's classic novel about the economic carnage caused by big government run amok was practically a job requirement. If only "Atlas" were required reading for every member of Congress and political appointee in the Obama administration. I'm confident that we'd get out of the current financial mess a lot faster.
Many of us who know Rand's work have noticed that with each passing week, and with each successive bailout plan and economic-stimulus scheme out of Washington, our current politicians are committing the very acts of economic lunacy that "Atlas Shrugged" parodied in 1957, when this 1,000-page novel was first published and became an instant hit.
Rand, who had come to America from Soviet Russia with striking insights into totalitarianism and the destructiveness of socialism, was already a celebrity. The left, naturally, hated her. But as recently as 1991, a survey by the Library of Congress and the Book of the Month Club found that readers rated "Atlas" as the second-most influential book in their lives, behind only the Bible.
For the uninitiated, the moral of the story is simply this: Politicians invariably respond to crises -- that in most cases they themselves created -- by spawning new government programs, laws and regulations. These, in turn, generate more havoc and poverty, which inspires the politicians to create more programs . . . and the downward spiral repeats itself until the productive sectors of the economy collapse under the collective weight of taxes and other burdens imposed in the name of fairness, equality and do-goodism.
In the book, these relentless wealth redistributionists and their programs are disparaged as "the looters and their laws." Every new act of government futility and stupidity carries with it a benevolent-sounding title. These include the "Anti-Greed Act" to redistribute income (sounds like Charlie Rangel's promises soak-the-rich tax bill) and the "Equalization of Opportunity Act" to prevent people from starting more than one business (to give other people a chance). My personal favorite, the "Anti Dog-Eat-Dog Act," aims to restrict cut-throat competition between firms and thus slow the wave of business bankruptcies. Why didn't Hank Paulson think of that?
These acts and edicts sound farcical, yes, but no more so than the actual events in Washington, circa 2008. We already have been served up the $700 billion "Emergency Economic Stabilization Act" and the "Auto Industry Financing and Restructuring Act." Now that Barack Obama is in town, he will soon sign into law with great urgency the "American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan." This latest Hail Mary pass will increase the federal budget (which has already expanded by $1.5 trillion in eight years under George Bush) by an additional $1 trillion -- in roughly his first 100 days in office.
The current economic strategy is right out of "Atlas Shrugged": The more incompetent you are in business, the more handouts the politicians will bestow on you. That's the justification for the $2 trillion of subsidies doled out already to keep afloat distressed insurance companies, banks, Wall Street investment houses, and auto companies -- while standing next in line for their share of the booty are real-estate developers, the steel industry, chemical companies, airlines, ethanol producers, construction firms and even catfish farmers. With each successive bailout to "calm the markets," another trillion of national wealth is subsequently lost. Yet, as "Atlas" grimly foretold, we now treat the incompetent who wreck their companies as victims, while those resourceful business owners who manage to make a profit are portrayed as recipients of illegitimate "windfalls."
When Rand was writing in the 1950s, one of the pillars of American industrial might was the railroads. In her novel the railroad owner, Dagny Taggart, an enterprising industrialist, has a FedEx-like vision for expansion and first-rate service by rail. But she is continuously badgered, cajoled, taxed, ruled and regulated -- always in the public interest -- into bankruptcy. Sound far-fetched? On the day I sat down to write this ode to "Atlas," a Wall Street Journal headline blared: "Rail Shippers Ask Congress to Regulate Freight Prices."
In one chapter of the book, an entrepreneur invents a new miracle metal -- stronger but lighter than steel. The government immediately appropriates the invention in "the public good." The politicians demand that the metal inventor come to Washington and sign over ownership of his invention or lose everything.
The scene is eerily similar to an event late last year when six bank presidents were summoned by Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson to Washington, and then shuttled into a conference room and told, in effect, that they could not leave until they collectively signed a document handing over percentages of their future profits to the government. The Treasury folks insisted that this shakedown, too, was all in "the public interest."
Ultimately, "Atlas Shrugged" is a celebration of the entrepreneur, the risk taker and the cultivator of wealth through human intellect. Critics dismissed the novel as simple-minded, and even some of Rand's political admirers complained that she lacked compassion. Yet one pertinent warning resounds throughout the book: When profits and wealth and creativity are denigrated in society, they start to disappear -- leaving everyone the poorer.
One memorable moment in "Atlas" occurs near the very end, when the economy has been rendered comatose by all the great economic minds in Washington. Finally, and out of desperation, the politicians come to the heroic businessman John Galt (who has resisted their assault on capitalism) and beg him to help them get the economy back on track. The discussion sounds much like what would happen today:
Galt: "You want me to be Economic Dictator?"
Mr. Thompson: "Yes!"
"And you'll obey any order I give?"
"Then start by abolishing all income taxes."
"Oh no!" screamed Mr. Thompson, leaping to his feet. "We couldn't do that . . . How would we pay government employees?"
"Fire your government employees."
Abolishing the income tax. Now that really would be a genuine economic stimulus. But Mr. Obama and the Democrats in Washington want to do the opposite: to raise the income tax "for purposes of fairness" as Barack Obama puts it.
David Kelley, the president of the Atlas Society, which is dedicated to promoting Rand's ideas, explains that "the older the book gets, the more timely its message." He tells me that there are plans to make "Atlas Shrugged" into a major motion picture -- it is the only classic novel of recent decades that was never made into a movie. "We don't need to make a movie out of the book," Mr. Kelley jokes. "We are living it right now."
Mr. Moore is senior economics writer for The Wall Street Journal editorial page.
You can find the article above at http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123146363567166677.html
Posted by kdzu at 9:02 PM
Sunday, January 11, 2009
Sunday, January 04, 2009
Friday, January 02, 2009
SHOW ME THE MONEY!!!!!
That's what every one is shouting these days. Gimme, Gimme, Gimme
Besides as ol' Everret Dirkson (I think) once said, "A Billion here, a Billion there, pretty soon you're talking about real money.
I suppose it's not difficult to substitute T's for B's.
It seems to me, that one of the things that got us into the economic mess that we find ourselves in today is the creation of trillions of new $ bills and throwing them out into a market place where they artificially jacked up the price of everything from houses to hookers. Easy money is like power.......it corrupts.
Throwing more (like they are going to do, I guaran-damn-tee it), is just going to corrupt even more. The fruit has been drawing fruit flies for a while......it has a way to go before the mold gets fuzzy and the stench drives you out of the house.
We are a long....long....long......long.............long way from seeing the bottom of this particular cesspool. Hope you have your snorkel on.
Posted by kdzu at 8:51 PM
This is a New Years Wish that I can really get behind.
We often don't think of what the wounded go through either physically or mentally. One thing that is as true now as 40 years ago is a burning desire to rejoin your unit and comrades, no matter how tough the fight they are in.
God Bless Them.
Posted by kdzu at 3:43 PM
Thursday, January 01, 2009
Let's hope that 2009 has a lot of goodies in store for us.
I rang in the new year last night about 9:30 in the traditional way...Wish it was more than once a year...........just kidding.
The wife cooked a huge pot of Collard greens and another huge pot of blackeyed peas yesterday......then today after they were safely ensconced in the freezer we went down to the SIL's and ate their peas and collards. No ham hocks though.........had a delicious rotisserie yard hen for the protein portion. Served with a lovely vintage.....well really, stirred together today, lemonade.......we chowed down till a little more than full.
Hope we can afford to eat so well next New Years Day.
I'll not bore you with prognostications of the future, nor with wildly unattainable goals for the coming annual circuit around Sol.
I'll just say that I'm gonna do whatever I can to make sure me and mine are warm and well clothed in 2009. If that involves actually going out and looking for what we need......so be it.......damned if I'm gonna wait for the idiots on the Potomac to dictate what I should do or tell me how much they feel my pain.
I bought some scrap on the last day of 2008, which will ensure that there was no profit to be shown on the 1040 so they can suck wind over getting anything more than sales and fuel taxes outa me, and I'm gonna do everything I can to do the same in this year. Maybe I will buy a bit more precious metal for the SKS, the Marlin .22, the Franchi .20 guage and some of the other bits of antique iron works I don't have.
Let's make this the year we pass The Fair Tax bill.
Posted by kdzu at 7:56 PM